“Whaddya say, Dean?”
Dean’s head whipped up and to the side, looking over to see his brother looking at him expectantly.
“Uh, yeah – sure. Sounds great.” Dean replied, putting on a fake smile as they made their way to the car.
Whatever Sam had asked, that seemed to be the answer he was hoping for, since he returned the smile and (thankfully) slid into the driver’s seat.
Keep it together! Dean thought to himself, trying to stifle the cough that tried escaping from his throat as he got in the other side.
What Sam had asked, apparently, had everything to do with extra bacon, extra grease, and extra hyper-awareness of everything Dean was doing. Which is how Dean found himself here, starring back at his reflection in the men’s bathroom of a diner a few blocks away from the motel they were staying at while they chased down this hunt.
He looked back at himself in surprise – he was looking nothing close to the complete crap he felt like. He felt as though he was sweating through his clothes, his head felt like it was on fire and all his bones felt like Jell-O.
How the hell was he supposed to stuff down those burgers while the mere smell of them made him nauseous? Even just thinking about putting them in his mouth made his stomach clench. There was no way he could do it, and he hadn’t been able to bring himself to order soup, as that would be a giant red flag to Sam that something wasn’t right, and he’d be damned if he made Sam worry about him this close to just getting him back.
Could this be some sort of Purgatory sickness? Dean didn’t think so, otherwise it would’ve shown up closer to when he got out – not two weeks later – right?
It’s probably just the flu. He thought before doubling over as he started coughing violently.
He watched as he spat a mixture of mucus and blood into the sink.
Okay, definitely not the flu…He turned the tap on and rinsed whatever it was down the drain, gathering water into his hands to splash over his face.
He jumped a mile at the knock on the door, feeling his heart pound out of his chest.
“Dean?” Sam called in cautiously.
“Yeah?” Dean croaked, before clearing his throat.
“Food’s getting cold.” Sam’s voice was closer to the door, and more concerned.
“I’m fine Sammy – be right out.” Dean replied.
He let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding in as he heard the footsteps retreat and took one last look at himself in the mirror.
“I’m fine.” He breathed, trying to convince himself before going out to face his brother.
That wasn’t a complete lie – he was decidedly better off with whatever this was then when he was in 360 degree combat down downstairs.
He could do this.
He could not do this.
Or, at least – not for much longer. It was getting harder to hide his symptoms from Sam, and he knew his brother wasn’t an idiot – he was catching on. And even if by some miracle he hadn’t yet, he would.
Dean was rummaging around in the trunk, searching for some cold medicine. He’d gone from just feeling nauseous and sweaty to actually sweating through his shirts and getting insanely dizzy and winded, even after the shortest trips.
It was getting more annoying than anything else.
And why didn’t Sam have any medicine in the car?
He shook his head and tried to not focus on the answer to his question, which was easy enough since shaking his head made him regret it immediately.
“I’m too old for this crap.” He mumbled, closing his eyes and trying to not focus on the spinning in his head.
He tried to take some deep breaths, to calm himself and only ended up having a coughing fit – which ended in bloody puke being pushing past his lips. He waited until he was just dry heaving before deciding he was alright enough to straighten up and open his eyes, wiping the tears away and being grateful no one was around to see him.
“Oh, c’mon!” He sighed, wrinkling his nose at the puke in the back seat.
That was definitely going to be a bitch to clean, especially at – he checked his watch – 2:30 in the morning.
Well that’s just great. He thought, scrubbing a hand down his face.
Finally. Dean sighed, his aching body hitting the mattress, barely glancing at the clock that read 4:30.
He’d scrubbed the spot until his hands were raw before thinking of how odd it would look if just the back seat was clean, so he ended up giving Baby a complete cleaning, oil change and tire checks included.
He’d also broke down and walked to the closest drug store (which seemed much father away when he kept stopping every two minutes to catch his breath and wait out his swimming vision) in the hopes of buying some of the good stuff, or at the least, stealing it.
But apparently the drug store wasn’t open that late (imagine that) and he was too tired to break in, so he walked back empty handed, which felt as if it took at least double the amount it did to get there.
Least I can sleep now. He thought, letting himself relax into the crappy excuse for a bed.
“Dean – time to get up.”
Dean groaned and flinched his leg back at the slap but otherwise didn’t move.
“Dean, c’mon – let’s go!” Sam yelled, throwing what Dean assumed was his duffle on top of him, knocking the wind from his lungs.
His eyes flew open and he bolted upright, gasping for breath, hands instinctively going up to his chest, his duffle falling to the ground.
“You got ten minutes!” Sam called before the door closed.
Dean grumbled and looked at the clock – 5:00am.
He went to stretch his arms over his head but was stopped by a shooting pain blazing from his right shoulder.
Great, now what? He thought, making his way to the bathroom for a shower.
He was stunned by his reflection – he’d gone pale as a sheet and his eyes looked sunken.
“Jesus.” He breathed, bringing a hand up to touch his face, making sure it was really him.
He started the water and peeled his sweat-soaked shirt off carefully, not liking the way his whole upper body complained – apparently he was too old for this. He stepped in carefully and sighed as the water hit his body, feeling the heat envelope him like a blanket.
Dean hadn’t even realized he was freezing until that moment. He held his head under the water and closed his eyes, smiling as he felt the pounding of water on his scalp. The steam was also helping clear his sinuses and, dare he say – he didn’t feel like complete crap in that moment.
Naturally, he was wrong and dropped to his knees just in time to feel bile fly past his lips for the second time that night. He reached his hand out to steady himself against the wall, the physical connection also helping him to distinguish which way was up.
“Dean! Let’s go!”
“Alright!” He yelled back, internally cursing himself for his voice breaking.
He rinsed his mouth out before turning the water off and grabbing a towel, carefully stepping out of the tub and failing, slipping on the tile floor, before a quick spin of colours went passed his eyes and he felt a sharp pain to the back of his head.
He heard Sam burst in the door but couldn’t bring himself to open his eyes, which he knew somewhere in the back of his mind wasn’t a good thing – but was really too tired to care. He felt a change in altitude and a quick wave of nausea come over him, but defiantly swallowed it down, sending him into a round of coughing.
“Whoa – hey, breath, just breath.” Sam cooed, rubbing circles into his back.
Sam stopped as soon as the coughs did and Dean felt a shift in the air – confirming his suspicion that he coughed up blood.
“Dean, I need you to open your eyes.” Sam requested his voice low but concerned.
“T’red.” Dean replied, trying to turn his head away from the sudden onslaught of light.
“Yeah, I know you’re tired, but I need you to stay with me Dean. Okay? Just stay with me.” Sam said, not quite able to hide the rising panic in his voice.
“M’kay S’mmy.” Dean reassured, weakly bringing his hand up to pat his arm.
“Yeah, you’ll be okay Dean. Don’t worry.” Sam said hastily.
Dean relaxed more at those words and welcomed the blackness that threatened to overtake him, acutely aware that Sam was still talking in the background.
Dean came to slowly, feeling himself lying on a mattress – a good mattress.
His eyes flew open and he bolted into a sitting position, choking on a tube that was down his throat, before hearing what sounded like sirens and seeing a bunch of nurses rush into the room, some pushing him down and one empting a needle into one of his feeds.
“Mr. Weston, how nice of you to join us.” The doctor greeted.
Dean looked around cautiously – it was bad enough he didn’t remember what the hell happened, but he woke up in a hospital.
“You gave us quite a scare.” She continued, walking to the end of the bed to grab his chart.
“You’re looking good now though – no doubt you’re feeling better?” She asked, peering at him from over her glasses.
“W-where the hell am I?” Dean stammered, his heart speeding up and mind going directly into hunter mode.
“You’re at Ramsay General. You don’t remember coming here yesterday?” She sounded almost skeptical.
He shook his head and felt his heart sink – he most certainly did not remember.
“You’re cousin called you in early yesterday morning, around five I believe-”
“Shit.” Dean swore, cutting her off.
“I’m sorry?” The doctor asked, looking offended.
“No, not you. S-my uh, my cousin – he must be worried. Can I see him?” Dean asked hopefully.
“Mr. Weston, while I applaud you for wanting to get going and not wallow, I don’t think you understand the full sight of what your body’s been through. You were about an inch away from death when you got here, and although you’ve made tremendous progress – I’d recommend you don’t over do it. We wouldn’t want to see you back here so soon, would we?”
“Mr. Kroger – please! You’re not allowed-”
At that moment Sam and a worried looking nurse burst through the door, her face red, Sam’s eyes going directly to the doctor.
“I’m sorry, Miss. He insisted.” The nurse said, a blush creeping up her face.
“You said twenty-four hours.” Sam stated, voice low, looking at her as if she were prey.
“I did say that, didn’t I?” The doctor asked, looking nothing but amused at the intruder.
“Five minutes.” She allowed before walking out and motioning for the nurse to follow her.
Dean took in how wrecked his brother looked – he was going to get one hell of a chew-out for this, he could tell.
“Sam – listen, I’m-”
Dean cut himself off with surprise at the look Sam gave him – it was the same way he looked at him after the first time he saw him when he got back from Hell.
“Sammy, I’m okay.” Dean reassured.
“No, you’re not.” Sam shook his head, taking in all the machines around his brother.
“Damn it Dean!” Sam yelled, spinning around in a circle.
“Sam-” Dean started, his eyes on the back of his head.
“Don’t even bother with that ‘I’m fine’ crap!” Sam screamed, pacing and looking like he needed to punch something.
“They told me you died Dean! You flat lined twice!” Sam spat, fingers running through his hair, knuckles turning white.
Dean was absentmindedly surprised that he didn’t end up ripping any of it out with the amount of force he must’ve used.
“They told me I lost you!” Sam roared.
Neither brother said it, but the word hung in the air between them anyway and took Dean’s breath away. How could he have missed that? No wonder he was so wrecked.
“They told me I-” Sam choked, tears threatening to spill from his eyes.
Dean slid out from the bed and walked to his brother, wrapping him up in a much needed hug, squeezing him tight to his chest. Sam hugged him back just as hard and couldn’t hold back his tears any longer, letting them free fall – soaking the stupid hospital gown the eldest wore.
“Sh, Sammy, I’m okay. I’m okay.” Dean whispered, rubbing circles into the giant’s back.
“You were gone and I – I couldn’t-”
“Sammy, its okay, just breathe. I’m alright.” Dean cooed, moving his hand up to pat his hair.
Sam let go and took a few steps back, sniffing and wiping at his eyes, looking embarrassed, much to Dean’s surprise.
“I know. I’m alright.” Dean repeated, walking over to where his clothes laid in pile.
“Whaddya say we get out of here, huh? Before they discover you’re not related to that diva?” Dean offered, looking to Sam who still looked stunned.
“Yeah? Uh – yeah. S-sounds good, I’ll uh – I’ll wait in the hall.” Sam replied, before making a move for the door.
“Eh, Sam?” Dean called, effectively stopping his brother.
“It’s not like I wouldn’t have found a way back.”
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