The heat in the Impala wasn’t working and the snow was falling so thick that Dean wasn’t sure they would make it back to town. He was shivering with cold, but the task of keeping them on the road was enough to make pearls of sweat build on his forehead.
“Dean, it’s out of season. Let’s just stay in one of the cabins.”
It was clear by the sound of Sam’s voice that he was shaking too.
“Just another 40 minutes. We don’t have any supplies. If we can’t get to a cabin with heat, we’ll freeze to death out here.”
The pleading tone to Sam’s low voice had Dean slow down and look at his little brother. Sam was leaning against the passenger door with his arms wrapped tight around his chest. He was shaking worse than Dean.
“Sam. You alright?”
Sam nodded and sluggishly pushed himself further down to get his legs closer. “I’m just cold.”
The car swayed on the slippery road and Dean directed all his attention to the road. Soon the Impala wouldn’t be able to make it through the snow.
“Okay, Sammy. Let’s find a place.”
Worried that Sam wouldn’t last 40 minutes, Dean slowed down and looked for a place to stay the night. The third cabin he saw had a chimney he could see from the road and he turned up the driveway.
“C’mon, Baby. Just a bit further.”
By some miracle the classic car made it all the way to the front of the wooden cabin. Dean’s jacket was already closed to his chin so it only took him seconds before he was at the door with his lockpick. His fingers were blue and with his whole body shaking it took longer than usual to open the standard issue lock.
When he finally got in, Sam was right behind him with the duffle. He was paler than he’d looked in the car and his eyes were barely open. Dean pulled Sam’s arm over his shoulders and walked him in to sit in the chair closest to the fireplace.
“Hang on.” Dean turned on the light and quickly looked the room over. He grabbed a thick blanket from another chair and covered Sam’s arms and legs, tugging it close around his shoulders. “Let’s get you warmed up.”
It took some time to light his lighter with his numb fingers, but Dean quickly warmed up as the fire got going. Looking up at Sam, Dean realized that it was taking him a little longer. He was cooled down more, probably from sitting still, not having the same workout as Dean to keep them on the road.
“Maybe you should sit closer to the fire.”
Lethargically, Sam shook his head and let it drop to lie on the backrest of the chair. Dean stood up and inspected the room closer. It was part of a rather big cabin. He could see into the kitchen and there was four doors.
“Hey, Sammy. It looks like we for once can get our own room. I’ll see if they have any food in this little paradise.”
He placed a hand on Sam’s shoulder on his way to the kitchen and felt an unmistakably warmth radiating from his little brother. He considered fever for a moment, but he was getting warm himself, more than needed maybe.
“There’s no food in this dump.”
Dean threw a few logs on the fire, not really sure if it was needed, but he didn’t want to wake up cold in the middle of the night.
“The rooms are good though. I had hoped to take the big master, but it’s the only one with an oven and you’re still shaking.” He hunched down in front of Sam. “Are you okay there?”
Sam hummed and sat up straight. “Yeah. I just need sleep. I’m not hungry anyway.”
“Okay, I’ve warmed up the room for ya. I’ll take the next, smaller, room.” Sam didn’t seem to pick up on Dean’s obvious attempt to make it seem like he was making a big sacrifice. “You need anything?”
Sam shook his head and stood up wrapping himself in the thick blanket before walking away from the fire. Dean studied his unsteady walk until he closed the door behind him. Sam was most likely coming down with something, but to get a fever after being that cold wouldn’t be a surprise. Dean just hoped that the weather would light up so they could get out of here in the morning, and that he could fix Baby’s heat.
After taking a shower, getting rid of the last cold wrapped around his spine, he looked in on Sam. The big man looked small curled up under the covers in that huge bed, but he was sleeping. When Dean’s head hit the pillow on the, not so small, bed of his own, he didn’t feel like pulling the cover over his body. His skin was starting to burn and he was building a slight sweat. His feet and hands were starting to get cold again, so his better judgement won and he covered himself with the light blue and extremely comfortable duvet.
At first Dean thought it was his pounding headache that had woken him up but soon he heard noises from Sam’s room and wondered if his brother had fallen out of the bed. He barely managed to get his shaking legs over the edge of the mattress. Some time during the last four hours he must have gotten so hot that he’d kicked the duvet off. That was over now. It took him some time to remember where he’d put his bag, and it took even longer getting into the sweat pants and shirt, with a stuffed nose, shaky hands and sore joints.
Walking through the main room he glanced at the fireplace. It was still burning a little, and his logic told him that even though he was cold under the blanket he’d wrapped around his shoulders, the cabin must still be warm.
He knocked at Sam’s door but only got shuffling or stumbling noises as an answer.
“Sam? What are you doing in there?”
He knocked again and took the handle. At home it was great to have each their room, but Dean was deciding this moment that in the field where thing happened, it was better to keep an eye on each other the whole time. Especially, now where Sam had gotten his soul back. What if he’d gotten a flashback to hell again? Dean prayed that Sam hadn’t locked the door and turned the handle.
Slowly, he pushed the door open but when it was revealed that the bed was empty, he hurriedly stepped inside and was hit with the extreme warmth from the oven. Sam wasn’t in the room.
There was a growl from the half open door on the other side of the room. Dean rushed to the bathroom and found Sam hunched over the toilet.
Sam looked up with bloodshot eyes but turned back in the same second to retch into the bowl. Sam was wet with sweat and shivering. Dean pulled his blanket off and hung it over the back of his brother and held his shoulders.
It seemed like it took Sam forever to stop, especially since nothing really came up. Gasping for air and letting Dean hold most of his weight, Sam sat back on his heals and rested his forehead on his arms, folded on the toilet seat.
“How long have you been sick?”
Sam took a deep breath and shook his head as much as he could, while still not holding it up. “I woke up around two.”
Sam had only slept for half an hour. Dean held his brother’s shoulders a bit tighter. That meant that he’d been awake for almost four.
“C’mon.” Dean stood up and took hold under Sam’s arms. “Let’s get you back to bed.”
“No.” Sam tightened his hands on the seat. “I’ve tried. I have to turn around half way anyway.”
“Well, not this time. Hang on.” Dean made sure Sam as steady before he let him go and ran to the kitchen and frantically looked through the cupboards. He found a bucket and a pitcher and some glasses. He would need one for himself too. He stumbled across some straws too and grabbed some of those as well.
Back in the bathroom, Sam had pulled the blanket off and sat down on the tiles. Dean wanted to wrap Sam up again, but he was pulling him back to bed in a second, so he decided to just get on with the task of getting a bit of water in the bucket and placing it next to the bed. Sam was following his every move with weary eyes. It took some time for the small faucet to fill the pitcher and Dean took the moment to lean against the sink and close his eyes, hoping his headache would loosen its grip a little.
“You look like crap.”
Dean huffed and looked in the mirror. Sam wasn’t wrong. His eyes were puffed, lips dry and nose red.
“Yeah, and you’re a vision of beauty.” He smiled at Sam before he put the water on the table next to the bed.
Dean offered Sam his arm, but Sam held a hand up to stop him and shook his head slowly.
“You can’t sit here. Have you been here this whole time?” Sam nodded. “Well, that’s definitely over now.”
Dean stood behind Sam and wrapped his arms around his brother’s chest and started lifting. Sam seemed to do his best to help, but it wasn’t much. When he finally was on his feet, they took a second to make sure he stayed that way before Dean pushed him towards the door.
Sam changed direction and hung himself on the sink, heaving violently but only managing to spit up some clear fluid. Dean used all of his reduced strength to support Sam’s convulsing body.
“I’ve got you. Work through it, Sammy.”
Little by little, Sam’s cramped heaving turned to gasps for air and lastly to a steady but week breathing. Dean pulled Sam upright slowly.
With a breath a bit deeper than the others, Sam started walking. Halfway there, Dean wondered if his own condition made him too weak to get Sam all the way there, but somehow, they made it. Sam sat on the edge of the mattress and Dean granted himself a few minutes on his knees on the floor.
“Dean. You’re sick. Go get some sleep.”
The older Winchester looked op at his little brother who was barely able to keep his balance sitting down. He knew that Sam must be a bit out of it, but had he seriously thought that Dean was going to do that? He stood up and poured some water in a glass, but Sam refused. Dean looked at the clock and made a mental note of when he might had to force Sam to drink. Not now. He emptied the glass himself and allowed himself a second to enjoy the only thing that had felt good since he woke up, before he turned all his attention back to Sam.
“Just lie down little brother.” The look in Sam’s eyes and the controlled breath had Dean move the bucket closer as Sam got down on his side and pulled his legs up close.
Dean tried to place the cover over Sam, but he pulled it off.
“Sam. You have a fever, you can’t get cold.”
Carefully, Dean placed his palm on Sam’s forehead. Sam was right. He was too warm; he was getting close to needing to be cooled down.
“Will you be okay on your own for a second, I want to get the med-kit.”
The fact that Sam hadn’t fought him on that, was worrying Dean more than him throwing up even after having nothing left. He closed the air intake on the oven in the room before he left. If Sam needed to be cooled down, he couldn’t do it in a room so hot. He could always wrap Sam in blankets if he needed it.
On the way through the kitchen area, Dean grabbed a paper towel and blew his nose. Why the hell had the time in the freezing car, given him a cold and Sam something that looked like stomach-flu? It didn’t make sense, unless Sam was already coming down with something. Dean hadn’t noticed anything, but they were both pretty good at hiding things like that.
Sam was almost sleeping when Dean came back, and he wanted nothing more than to let him have some rest, but he needed to know how high his temperature was. He was sure they had a thermometer in the med-kid somewhere. After pulling everything else out he found it in a small pocket inside.
“Sammy? Here.” Dean took Sam’s chin and attempted to open his mouth a little. “I’ll let you sleep after.” He showed Sam the thermometer and surprisingly, Sam complied and let Dean place the device in his mouth.
Sam’s eyes closed and Dean took the chance to wipe his nose again. There was no reason to let Sam see if he didn’t have to. He sat on the floor and let his head fall on the edge of the mattress. It felt a little better when he didn’t used energy to hold it up.
Sam’s voice was low but close enough to shake Dean back to alert.
“You should go back to bed. I’m okay.”
Dean took the thermometer from Sam’s hand. He hadn’t even heard it beep. It showed 103.2, yeah there was no chance he was leaving Sam like this.
“You’re really not.”
“Well, I can manage.” Sam smiled but the heavy eyes almost closing in the prosses testified that not even Sam had believed what he just said.
“Will you stop arguing?!” The louder voice made Dean’s head explode and what he could see through his blurry vision, it had hurt Sam too. He took a deep breath, gathering himself before he sat up on his knees. “You have to be thirsty. Do you want water?”
Sam looked at the pitcher and then down at his hands in front of him. “Yeah, but…” He shook his head.
They had both had been there before; wanting to drink, but being sure that it would come back up. He had to make de decision for his brother, and since they had nothing else to stop the otherwise imminent dehydration, it could be dangerous to wait.
“You don’t have to move and you can just rest after. It’ll be okay.”
Dean didn’t let Sam argue further and quickly had a straw placed on his lips. Sam seemed confused at first but then he accepted it and took a few small sips before Dean took it away.
“Easy. Let’s try that first.”
Sam looked disappointed but nodded and slowly turned to lie on his back, clearly controlling his breathing. Dean stood up, on even more wobbly legs than before, got the blanket and pulled over a chair. For minute Dean just sat wrapped up, wiping his nose and studying Sam’s breaths. They were getting faster and Sam seemed to get restless.
Sam’s forehead frowned and he clutched his damp t-shirt with both hands.
Suddenly, Sam rolled to his side and with panicked eyes he frantically pulled himself to the edge. Discarding of every restriction his own body gave him, Dean sat on the bed in swift movement. Blocking Sam from falling he held his brother’s head over the bucket.
“Hang in there Sammy. Just do what you need to, I’ve got you.”
When what little water was in him was in the bucket Sam kept on gagging and heaving for minutes. Dean wasn’t sure he would stop before his own arms was going to give in and let Sam fall off the bed. Sam’s hand found Dean’s wrist and he tried to pull himself up.
“Take it easy. Catch your breath before you move.”
The hand loosened a bit, but Dean still felt it shaking lightly. Sam slowly managed to get a fair amount of air into his lungs with every breath and Dean carefully lifted his little brother’s upper body up into the bed again.
“It’s okay. Dean, I’m…”
“Shh, Sammy. Just relax now.”
The damp t-shirt felt cold under Dean’s hand as he rubbed Sam’s back. He looked at the while duvet next to Sam’s feet, but Sam was too hot. Sam’s eyes were closed again and his breathing wasn’t normally this fast but it was even and he wasn’t working to make it that way.
When Dean was sure Sam was sleeping, he took the bucket to the bathroom and reminded himself to take some more paper back for himself. In the brighter light in the bathroom, Dean had to pause to get his eyes to not hurt his brain too much. When he was back in control, he went to pour the bucket’s content into the toilet but stopped and took a second to make sure it wasn’t his eyes messing with him. I wasn’t. The water Sam had just ejected was pink. Not only couldn’t his brother hold down water, now he was throwing up blood.
Frantically, Dean looked through the sides of Sam’s little book. He didn’t find anyone close. Besides, if they wasn’t in the next cabin, they would need a plow to get to them. If no one could come he’d might as well call someone who knew who they were. He could call Bobby, but since he couldn’t come either, Dean decided to dig into the catalog of doctors.
Trent and Dani, there would be double the chance anyone was picking up, and they lived where they worked.
Dean sat on the chair again and watched his brother sleep, he didn’t want to wake him but he might need a new reading on his temperature. Luckily, Sam only moaned a little when Dean placed it in his mouth. He held it there, since it was clear that Sam wasn’t doing his part.
“This is Dani Johnson. Who am I talking to?”
“Dean. Do you remember my brother Sam? You and Trent fixed his knee about two years ago.”
“Oh, yeah. I will never forget that. How can I help? Is his knee good?”
“Perfect. I just need to get the skinny on how to treat a bad stomach-flu without any supplies. When is my last resort do get him in a car with no heat and risk getting stuck in snow in the middle of nowhere?”
“When you guys get in trouble, you go all the way, huh? You don’t sound like totally fine yourself.”
“It’s just a cold. It’s Sam who is barely awake.”
The thermometer beeped and Sam seemed bothered by the sound and the movement as Dean took it out of his mouth.
“Okay. What do you know and what have you tried?”
Looking at a barely responsive Sam, with a fever on 104.5, Dean was grateful to have a nurse on the line.
“Hey.” Dean rubbed Sam’s shoulder and the big man hummed in annoyance. “Sam. You need to get some water.”
Still with closed eyes, Sam shook his head and pulled his arms and legs closer.
“I know man, but you’re dehydrating. You have to try if you can keep some down.”
Dean shook his brother’s shoulder and sat on the bed in front of him. “No, Dani said we had to try.”
Sam opened his eyes, looking a bit confused by the name but then clearly categorized it on the “not important” shelf and reluctantly took the straw into his mouth. Only one short sip made it through before Sam pulled back and sent Dean a look as if had betrayed him, before he curled up on himself again.
Dean sat back on the chair and payed to every God they’d ever heard of that Sam would sleep for the next half an hour and that he was able to stay awake himself. Dean didn’t need a thermometer to tell him that he had a fever. He pulled his feet up on the chair and covered his whole body with the blanket as he wrapped his arms around his knees. Sam was pale and his hair was sticking to his damp face. It took all his strength to not cover the big man, but as long as his fever was ricing and they didn’t even had a Tylenol in their med-kid, not that Sam could hold them down anyway, he had to make sure he wasn’t overheating. There was no guarantee that cooling him down fast would be a success, Dani had been very clear that they should do whatever they could to not let it get that far.
The slow movement to the side woke Dean up just in time that he could stop himself from colliding with the floor. Sam was still sleeping, so Dean used the last five minutes before he had to wake him again to throw some water in his face. While he was leaning on the sink, he looked at the shower-curtain. He would do anything to get in there. To let the warm water wash the dried sweat of his dry skin and heat his body up to feeling closer to normal. It had to wait though, at least till Sam’s fever was going down and he could sit up against the headboard without rolling out of bed.
He blew his nose and used a few seconds to find his own eyes in the mirror, before he went back to Sam.
“Sam. Wake up.”
A small hum and a week contraction around Sam’s eyes, indicated that he’d heard him.
“Here, c’mon.” Dean held the straw up again and was pleased to see that Sam drank a little more this time and that he kept his eyes open after. “Hey. Can we check your temperature again?”
Sam took a deep breath and looked up at his brother. “Do I have a choice?”
Dean shook his head and handed Sam the thermometer. Sam scowled but took it. He dropped it before he got it to his mouth and grabbed Dean’s arm. With wild eyes Sam gagged loudly and seemingly managing nothing but pull his legs to his stomach. Dean took over in getting his upper body over the edge, making sure the water would make it into the bucket.
Nothing came up with the first weak gags but they had had to hurt. No illness had never made Sam whimper like he did between his short gasps and convolutions. He’d had to be in real pain to make sounds like that.
“It’s okay Buddy. Just breathe.”
Dean couldn’t let Sam’s shoulders go to rub his back. Sam was too much out of control. When the first small amount of pink water came up Sam was shaking and it sounded like he was fighting not to sob.
“Do you have more?”
Sam shook his head, but before they could move his body tensed up again and more water came up. Sam stopped fighting for air and became heavier in Dean’s grip, but his stomach was still working hard.
“Good, Sammy. Relax a bit I won’t drop you.”
A few more fights from Sam’s stomach and then he was just limp. Dean started lifting him up, but got no help, not even a disgruntled moan.
“C’mon Sam, help me a bit.” Dean pushed the bucket out of the way and sat on his knees so he could push Sam up with both hands. Sam’s mouth were limply open and his eyes were closed.
Dean pushed Sam up fast and rolled him to his back. Standing over him, he shook his shoulders and padded his cheek.
“Sammy. Hey! Wake up man.” His brother was out cold. “Sam!”
Dean wasn’t going to panic. It wouldn’t help. Besides, Sam had been unconscious before and been just fine. The blood rushing faster through Dean’s veins didn’t do anything good for his headache though, and neither did the pace he with which was pacing the floor.
He couldn’t afford to pass out too, so as soon as he felt his dizziness increase, he downed a whole glass of water, picked up the thermometer and sat down next to Sam.
104.6. Dean took a deep breath and forced himself to believe that it was a good thing that it hadn’t gone up more in the last half hour, even after using so much energy trying to throw up. He got a bowl from the kitchen and some kitchen towels. This he could do. Even with the relentless thought that this could be more than exhaustion, that this could be another stone falling off Sam’s wall, he could still do this. Sitting watch with his sleeping brother, cooling his forehead, neck and arms with cold rags. He had done that since they were kids. He didn’t even remember the first time. Still, he could probably count on one hand the times Sam hadn’t reacted to the touch. And never before had he used the towel on his own face and neck too.
Dean watched Sam’s breathing and was satisfied that it stayed the same, until Sam hummed and turned his head to get away from the towel. Dean held his face up with a hand on his other cheek and pushed the towel on to his forehead and temple.
“Shh, Sammy. It’s all good.”
Sam’s eyes flickered open and eventually found Dean’s face.
“There you are. Feeling better, Sleepy Jean?”
It took Sam some time before he seemed to catch up, but when he did, he nodded and tried to push himself up.
“Don’t! Lie still.” Dean took his brother’s shoulder and Sam quickly complied and fell heavy back into the pillow.
“Was I…? How long was I out?”
“About 25 minutes.”
Dean handed the thermometer to Sam and while he was still looking confused at Dean, he took it. Dean used the downtime to move back on the chair and hang the blanket over his shoulders.
“You still look like crap.” Sam handed the thermometer to Dean.
It was good to see a smile on Sam’s face, but Dean was painfully aware that he wasn’t lying.
“102.9 Your fever seem to have broken. How do you feel?”
“My stomach is cramping and pulling on my sore ribs, my head it pounding, I can’t feel my lower legs and I’m cold… so probably better than you.”
Dean sighed with relief that he was finally able to cover Sam with the duvet and tugged it tight around him.
“I just have a cold. A bad one, but at least I’m not puking blood.”
Dean regretted bringing that up the second Sam suppressed a gag. He quickly got it under control though, and looked surprised and maybe a bit startled by the news.
“Yeah. Dani said that if it didn’t get worse it was most likely just from tearing, because you had… too much.”
Sam nodded with a heavy head and then wanted an explanation as to who Dani was, but remembered quick and understood why Dean had felt as he needed to call.
While talking to his lethargic little brother, Dean couldn’t help looking at the pitcher with water and wondering when they would have to try that again. Sam was close to sleeping again and Dean didn’t want to end up with him throwing up more blood and the passing out instead. Sam picked up on it and shook his head.
“Not now Dean, I’m okay. I can manage without for now.”
Dean leaned in to make sure Sam was looking at him. “Listen, I don’t want to do that to you again, but you need water.”
Sam smiled and nodded. “I know, but I’m telling you. I can wait a few hours.”
Dean looked extra deeply into Sam’s eyes and almost convinced that Sam was able to make that assessment himself he leaned back.
“Okay. Get some sleep.”
“You too. Dean you’re barely alive. Just set an alarm.”
Sleep sounded pretty damn good right now, but there was no way he was going back to his room. He pulled the blanket closer and sat back watching Sam fall asleep before he could make this in to an argument.
For two hours Dean had sat still on the chair. His ass hurt but he wasn’t going to leave, just in case Sam would need him again. When the alarm on his phone startled him, Sam hummed and pulled the cover closer to his ears.
“Sam. Wake up.” Dean hated to wake him, but he needed Sam to be more responsive than he was, he was clearly dehydrated. “Sammy, c’mon.”
He shook Sam’s shoulder harder and the big puppy eyes opened slowly.
“Are you with me?”
“Yeah.” Sam blinked a few times and then pushed himself up, and this time he didn’t follow Dean’s order to stay lying down.
“Water or thermometer first?”
Sam took the thermometer from the bedside table. “Did you use this?”
“Hell no! I’m sure I shoved it in your ass some time way back.”
Sam huffed and shook his head, and put it in his mouth while scowling at Dean.
Dean nodded and took it from Sam and replaced it with a glass of water. Both of them stared at it for a while. Sam was breathing deeper and using energy to control the pace.
“Hey.” Dean placed his hand on Sam’s upper arm. “Your fever is gone, you’re sitting up and talking in longer sentences. You’re better.”
Sam nodded and took a few sips. Dean waited anxiously for any response, but so far nothing happened. His bother’s eyes was slowly closing again and the hand with the glass sunk. Dean took hold of the glass, but Sam shook back to life and held on. He swallowed more of the water. With almost half of the glass emptied, Dean took it from him, and even though Sam seemed like he wanted more he understood that he probably shouldn’t. He pushed himself down to lie on his side.
“You didn’t sleep, did you?”
“I slept before I came in here. I’m almost four hours ahead of you.”
That wasn’t true. Sam had been sleeping a lost while Dean had just been sitting there watching over him. Sam detected the lie too.
“Get some now, you’re not driving anywhere tomorrow if you don’t sleep.”
Dean suddenly remembered the snow. It had been clear for a while but Baby was most likely under quite the layer, not to speak of the road.
“I’m good. Besides, we might have to call someone to dig us out first.”
“Dean. You’re sick. If you don’t want to leave, get under the other duvet. I’m too tired to take advantage of you anyway.”
“Just sleep before I knock you out.”
Sam closed his eyes and pulled the cover even closer around him. Even while Sam was clearly still judging Dean for not sleeping, it didn’t take him long to fall asleep again.
Dean contemplated going to his own room and sleep, but having separate rooms didn’t feel as good as it had earlier. It had been years since they had shared a bed, but the bed was ridiculously big and he could easily get comfortable without touching Sam. He gave it another ten minutes of thinking back and forth before telling himself to give it up and walked to the other side of the bed. The second white duvet in the bed was so much better than the blanket he’d had around him all morning and he was instantly content with the decision. Having your own room is overrated anyway.