I've written a story in which Dean suffers; I'm sure this is not healthy ...
Which is a co-incidence, because neither is Dean in this story!
HOT SPOTS Part 1
Word Count: Approx 20,000 in total
It's hot, oh boy, it's hot. Those boys are fractious, and Dean's got an itch ...
Disclaimer: Don't own them. The following 20,000 words demonstrates why this is a good thing
The suffocating heatwave was entering it's third week.
Day after day, the sun bled it's relentless, vermillion path across the sky, leaving the southern three quarters of the United States simmering helplessly under the oppressive, choking heat; wilting just a little bit more with each passing day.
Newspaper headlines screamed 'Hottest Day in Living Memory', and 'No End In Sight,' but the clammy, limp-haired population was just too exhausted and torpid to bother reading them as life slowly ground to a halt in the stifling heat which bore down day after day, heavier and hotter. Families retreated indoors, panting dogs sprawled on shrivelled, sun-scorched lawns, and even the birds were too heat-dazed to sing.
Cutting through the airless furnace like a bullet, a sleek black car roared along a deserted strip of shimmering, half-melted asphalt, seemingly untroubled by the sweltering paralysis around her.
By contrast, the frosty chill permeating her smart leather-clad interior would have made an Eskimo shiver.
Pointedly ignoring each other, insofar as that is possible when you're sitting eighteen inches apart, her two cranky occupants sat stewing moodily, glaring intently through the windscreen, their respective jaws set in matching stubborn grimaces.
"Dean, I am not bustin;' my ass to find us a hunt in Alaska." Sam suddenly snapped, "just because His Precious Lordship of the Sweaty Butt-Cheeks is a bit warm." He folded his arms across his chest in a gesture which matched his scowl perfectly.
Dean let out a petulant huff, blinking to clear his vision as he rubbed a sweaty palm over his glistening neck. "Well, ain't you a ray of friggin' sunshine?" he snorted, "what bug crawled up your pansy-ass an' died?"
"We're all hot, so just quit your moanin'," Sam spat back.
"I'm not moanin'," Dean snorted, "I'm sick of listening to your whinin'."
He effected an effeminate voice, "I'm hot; I'm sweaty; Ive gotta moisturise; shut the window, it's messin' my hair up …"
Sam closed his eyes and leaned back, scrubbing a clammy hand through his damp hair. His sense of humour had evaporated along with the beads of sweat on his forehead, and it was only the fact that Dean was driving the swiftly moving vehicle that he was currently sitting in that was stopping him from smacking his obnoxious brother into the middle of next week.
Over the last few days, the Winchesters had narrowly avoided coming to blows on more than one occasion. Tempers had flared regularly in the blazing heat and Dean's 'be as annoying as humanly possible' gene had kicked in impressively.
Taking a deep breath, Sam knew he was taking his life into his hands, and hesitated before speaking; "an' anyway, I don't think we should be thinking about long journeys; I think you're …"
"Don't go there …" Dean interrupted, an edge of menace in his voice.
Sam knew his creeping concern, initially voiced a couple of days ago, was the thing that had set off all the escalating exchanges of sulky bickering. Not to be deterred, however, he tried again, "I think you're coming down with something."
The suspicion had been there for a while now; the slightly glassy look in Dean's eyes, the throat rubbing, the laboured huffing and sighing, the short temper. Sam knew that the heat was inclined to make Dean irritable, but this Dean was beyond irritable; he was bristling with belligerence; a walking affray waiting to happen.
"You're talkin' crap," was the measured response.
"You look a bit flushed."
Dean's eyes never left the road. "I look a bit flushed, Einstein, because it's, like, about a zillion degrees out there."
Sam shook his head, "no it's more than that;" he continued, "we're both hot and bothered but you look like you've just walked out of a sauna."
"I've seen you swallowing aspirins like there's no tomorrow."
"Yeah, well, this friggin' heat makes my head ache."
Sam took his chance; "all the more reason why we should rest up for a couple of days."
Dean huffed theatrically, and scratched his head.
"Jeez, if it'll keep you quiet," Dean groaned irritably, "still don' see why we can' go to Alaska," he added in a quiet grumble. As he spoke, he leaned forward, snaking an arm round to scratch his back through the clinging, soaked fabric of his t-shirt.
Sam took a deep breath; "I reckon we should just hole up somewhere with air conditioning for a few days, then at least we can be comfortable." He sighed, choking wetly on the sticky air; "we might even get through this hot spell without killin' each other."
Dean grunted; "why, what you planning on doing - stabbing me with your mascara brush?"
There was a brief silence punctuated by a laboured huff as he raised his arm and scratched his armpit lavishly.
"Dean!" Sam grimaced in disgust, "give it a rest with the scratching already, that's disgusting. What are you, a friggin' chimp?"
"Crappy damn weather," snapped Dean, "reckon I got a prickly heat rash." His hand strayed towards his sweat-soaked back again, "an' I think I've scratched my freakin' back raw. Firs' thing I'm gonna do when we find a friggin' room is have a cool shower."
It was another hot and bothered hour of driving and fighting over whether the windows should be open or closed, before the Impala pulled over.
The Winchesters leaned over each other peering through the passenger window up at the grey, uninspiring building that loomed alongside them. In underwhelmed silence, they scanned the high grey walls and grimy windows, but through the lingering heat haze both brothers faces twitched into a strained smile as they read the magic words; 'Air Conditioning in Every Room'.
Sam closed his eyes and tried so hard to ignore Dean rooting furiously in his armpit again.
In room 14 of the Roadrunner Motel, Sam lay on his bed, and allowed his eyes to drift out of focus as he stared at cobwebs on the ceiling. He was simply too drained to move. The simple act of carrying his duffel from the car, walking into the room and pulling his boots off had left him feeling like he'd never walk again.
The air conditioning which had been so optimistically promised on the sign outside turned out to be an ancient unit which appeared to have struggled through one hot Summer too many. It rattled and clanked, switching between a soporific drone and a strained whine, shuddering as it belched out sporadic bursts of cool air across the room.
From underneath now closed eyelids, Sam could hear Dean muttering angrily to himself as he sat on the side of his bed and clumsily yanked his rank, sweat-soaked T shirt off over his head, throwing it to the floor with a wet splat.
He hoped and prayed that there was a decent shower because, after the disappointment of the feeble air conditioner, Dean's mood was growing blacker with each passing moment, and a puny shower? Sam didn't even want to think of the consequences.
He cracked open one eye, looking up from his pillow to see Dean padding barefoot past his bed, "goin' for a shower; he grunted sourly.
Nodding limply, Sam glanced up and blinked as something caught his eye.
"Dean," he called.
"What?" The response echoed gruffly from within the bathroom.
"C'mere," Sam shuffled off the end of the bed, "just wanna check something."
Dean stomped back out of the bathroom, huffily buttoning his jeans back up; "the hell, dude? I'm hot, wan' my friggin' shower!"
Sam grabbed Dean by the shoulders and spun him round, ignoring his brother's outraged squawk.
"Dean, since when have you had a spotty back?"
Dean turned, a look of outrage on his face, "uh, since never …" he snapped.
Sam bent down to look again, trying to hold his squirming brother still as he leaned in closer, wincing at how raw Dean's skin looked after all his scratching. There was definitely a scattering of inflamed, crimson spots between Dean's shoulder blades.
"Dean… you've got spots all over your back!" Sam muttered quietly.
"What the hell are you talkin' abou … GYUH!"
Dean gasped as Sam spun him round again. A cursory inspection of his chest revealed that it was, so far at least, spot-free, but if Dean was shocked at that, it was nothing to his reaction when Sam, thinking back to his journey in the Impala next to an armpit-exploring brother, tugged up his arm and grimaced when he saw a cluster of angry, weeping spots nestling there.
"Dean pulled his arm away with a yelp, stumbling backwards as he did so. "What the hell?" He wrapped his arms defensively around himself, "will you quit pawin' me about?"
It all fell into place; the headaches, the irritability, the sore throat, the temperature, and now … the spots.
Sam sighed deeply and scraped and hand over his sweat-slicked brow, looking at his huddled brother's furiously wide-eyed face with a weak smile.
"Dude;" he groaned weakly, "you've got chickenpox!"
Dean stared at his brother, his eyes widening to the point that Sam was genuinely concerned they might fall out of his face; "are you freakin' insane?"
"uh, no; not that I recall;" Sam responded cautiously.
"I can't have Chickenpox … I'm thirty years old; a grown man in case you hadn't friggin' noticed Hawkeye!"
Sam winced as Dean's voice began to take on an ever so slightly hysterical pitch. He shrugged, "and …?"
Dean's eyes narrowed menacingly; "and … only kids get Chickenpox you friggin' jerk!"
Shaking his head, Sam took care to plaster an expression of sympathetic tolerance over his face; "no Dean; MOSTLY kids get Chickenpox."
Dean's shoulders slumped, making it easier for him to squirm round and have a good scratch between them. "Mostly? What d'you mean mostly?"
"I mean it's mostly children that get Chickenpox, and a few adults who never had it when they were kids." He hesitated; "did you have it when you were a kid?"
"No;" Dean threw his arms in the air melodramatically, "I was too friggin' busy takin' care of your sorry ass while Dad was off savin' the human race, to go down with anything so distractin' as Chickenpox." He snorted petulantly, and busily scratched his neck.
"Quit scratchin'," snapped Sam, "Chickenpox spots scar if you keep scratchin' them. D'y wanna be disfigured for life?"
Dean huffed out a barely audible but obviously obscene response. "Well it's just a good job I ain't got freakin' Chickenpox then." He glared at Sam; "tol' you, it's a heat rash."
"Dean: c'mon man, surely even you can see the glaringly obvious here …" Sam bit his lip to mask a heavy sigh, watching as Dean folded his arms across his chest, almost immediately unfolding them again to have another scratch.
Sam wasn't above pleading if that's what it took to make his idiot brother see sense; "please dude, humour me here." He turned on the puppy dog face; not the ordinary puppy dog face, but the 'abandoned starving by a roadside on a winters night' puppy dog face. "Chickenpox is far worse in adults; please, we need to get you to a doctor."
Sam could swear he saw a brief look of alarm flash across Dean's face before the shutters came down again; "I'm goin' to have a cool shower, then a little bit of antihistamine cream should sort this damn rash out." Dean muttered, pointedly not looking Sam in the face.
Sam snorted in furious exasperation as Dean stomped off towards the bathroom. "Fine," he snorted angrily, "do what you like then you friggin' MORON; jus' don't go outside because you're contagious."
The bathroom door slammed shut, dislodging a festival of cobwebs and Sam heard the bolt slide home on the other side; he slumped, exhausted, on the side of the bed with his head in his sweaty palms and muttered all the rude words he could think of.
It was less than a minute before he heard the bolt slide back again and the bathroom door fly open with a force that created a most agreeable breeze. Dean scampered back into the bedroom on stiff, bare legs.
"Look at my legs," he gasped, "LOOK AT THEM!"
Sam stared at the offending legs; trying with all his might to ignore the fact his brother was standing before him wearing only a pair of boxers that had been through the laundry so many times, they only appeared to be held together by a sense of optimism.
Deans legs were covered in spots.
If it wasn't so serious, it might have been funny.
Dean looked up pathetically at Sam; "it's not prickly heat is it?"
Sam shook his head, furiously biting his lip. He was not going to say 'I told you so'; he was bigger than that.
"I've got friggin' chickenpox haven't I?" Dean fumed.
"Uh yeah!" Sam nodded sadly.
Dean scratched his knee, and flopped heavily onto the corner of the bed; "I look like a freakin' dalmation," he croaked.
Looking up at Sam's sympathetic face, his expression changed from outrage to abject misery.
"So freakin' hot Sammy; don' wanna be itchy too …" he moaned, "I can't put up with this all through this crappy hot spell."
Sam gave a sympathetic smile; he didn't have the heart to tell his brother it was probably going to get much worse.
"Sammy; what if you catch it?" Dean looked up at his brother looming over him.
"I already had it;" Sam replied calmly, "when I was about two; surprised you don't remember."
Dean huffed petulantly; "well, ain't you the lucky one!" He looked round in irritation as the ramshackle air conditioner gave a tortured whine, releasing another damp puff of slightly less stifling air.
His eyes narrowed to a glare; "an' you can freakin' shut up too," he yelled, aiming a furious kick at the ancient unit.
It gave a gruesome grinding rattle, rocking slightly on it's base before gradually falling silent.
Sam slapped a hand over his sweat beaded forehead. "Oh well done!" He yelled, "the one thing that could have made you a just a little bit more comfortable, and you've totalled it." He stomped towards the crippled unit; "where did you learn to be such a damn jerk? Did you take lessons, or does it come naturally?"
Dean scowled, "stupid bit of crap." He mumbled despondently.
Sam wandered around the brightly lit aisles of the local drug store, relishing their refreshing – and working - air conditioning; he stocked up on all the things he figured he was going to need for the brothers' coming ordeal; Tylenol, antihistamine tablets, antihistamine cream, calamine lotion, cotton wool, and aspirins just for starters. It was a pity these places didn't stock 'the patience of a saint' bottled and flavoured orange; Sam pondered he would be needing plenty of that over the next few days.
His jaw clenched as he thought back only moments ago to how the brothers had argued violently over Dean seeing a doctor. Dean's flat refusal had resulted in Sam storming out of the room.
'I'm covered in itchy spots and I feel like shit. Seein' as I've never had Chickenpox before, I don't need some dude with letters after their name to tell me I've got the friggin' disease."
Sam barked out a bitter laugh, causing a young woman stacking shelves next to him to look round and eye him warily. That reasoning, coming from the man who had earlier absolutely refused to even acknowledge the possibility of having Chickenpox; Gods, the man was so freakin' volatile, it was like having Sam's very own little seismic event trailing around after him.
So once again, thanks to his brother's thick-headed stubborn streak, it was down to Sam.
Sam handed over two shabby twenty dollar bills to pay for all his goods, and drove back to the motel with all the Impala's windows wound open. He rubbed a clammy hand over the back of his sweat soaked neck and sighed; heck this damn heat wasn't going anywhere; if anything, it was getting hotter!
Trudging wearily across the sun-baked car park laden down with his shopping, he paused to look at a comatose cat stretched out on the low wall in front of the building; "wish I could just chill out and sunbathe like you dude," he muttered, smiling at the cat whose amber eyes regarded him with a look of calculated apathy.
He made a detour into reception on his way back to the room to ask for a fan. Smiling sweetly at the middle-aged receptionist, he was desperate to say "my idiotic cretin of a big brother who deserves a damn good slap threw a tantrum and broke your air conditioner;" but what actually came out was, "I'm terribly sorry to bother you ma'am, but our air conditioning doesn't work."
Thus it was with two bags of shopping and a pair of portable electric fans that Sam stumbled into the room, gasping as a stifling wall of humidity hit him.
He glanced up into the sky before closing the door, desperate to see some sign of a thunderstorm or any other indication the weather was breaking. Instead the late afternoon sun simply continued to beat down on him from it's cloudless horizon.
Dean was sprawled out face down on his bed; damp haired from a shower while Sam was out at the store and, Sam was somewhat dismayed to see, wearing only another pair of ancient boxers.
Sam approached the prone figure, unsure of whether he was asleep or actually aware was back in the room. Dean's recently showered bare back was already glistening with sweat and, Sam winced as he saw that it was scratched raw; a few more spots had erupted since the last time he looked only a couple of hours ago, gradually working their way down Dean's spine; a small angry-looking cluster evident across the small of his back.
Dean opened his eyes, and propped himself up on his forearms to look up at Sam; heavy-eyed and disorientated; "feel like shit, S'mmy" he groaned.
Sam's anger instantly dissipated and he laid a sympathetic hand on Dean's shoulder, drawing in a sharp breath when he felt the intense heat radiating from his skin.
"C'mon dude," Sam fought against his fatigue to keep his voice light, "I'm gonna set up some fans, an' try to cool you down."
"What 'bout you?" Dean's head tried to follow Sam as he walked round the bed, but an increasing stiffness in his neck made him flinch.
Sam smiled unconvincingly as he fiddled with the fans, setting one on the nightstand, the other on a little table which he dragged down to the other side of Dean's bed. "I'm fine dude, I'll have a shower and a rest when I've sorted you out." He flicked the switches on the fans, and directed the resultant breezes in Dean's direction.
"Better?" he asked, "hmmmmm ..." Dean mumbled an affirmative into his forearms.
Satisfied with the answer, Sam rummaged in the bag for the calamine lotion and antihistamine pills; "c'mon bro', I'm gonna paint you pink." He grasped Dean's shoulders, helping him to sit up on the edge of the bed; "lets get you comfortable, then you can try to get some sleep."
Dean nodded meekly and swallowed the tablets, grimacing at the burning of his sore throat, and flinched as Sam dabbed a cold dollop of calamine lotion on his bare back.
He scratched furiously under his arm; "ngguuhhh, this is drivin' me mad;" he snorted angrily through clenched teeth.
"Quit diggin' around under there," Sam barked, lifting Dean's arm and slapping a generous layer of the pink goo under it, calmly ignoring Dean's indignant protests.
"an' friggin' humiliating," Dean moaned, wiping the back of his hand over his damp forehead. "Jeez, my head hurts, where's those aspirins?" he groaned.
Sam shook his head; "not yet, not straight after the antihistamines." He shrugged an apology, "Sorry bro', in a bit."
"Turn round" smiled Sam, "anything on your front yet?" Dean sighed and obediently shuffled round to face Sam. his eyelids drooped as if the effort of that small motion had exhausted him.
A scattering of spots had begun to erupt across the hollow of his chest and Sam attacked them with the calamine lotion, slapping a wandering hand away from scratching them. "Leave them alone" he scolded.
Dean gave him a jaded two fingered salute.
"Charming!" grinned Sam, and knelt down to treat Dean's spot-riddled legs.
"You know, this can be a lot worse in adults" Sam said softly as he gently and thoroughly worked the calamine over Dean's legs, "you need to take it easy and let me know if anything gets worse; we might still have to get you to a doctor". Sam's heart went out to his big brother; he was relishing the opportunity to help Dean through this horrible experience, heck; Dean had given enough for him over the years, but didn't want to make it into some kind of big drama. He was only too aware the pink flush across Dean's cheeks wasn't entirely down to the heat.
He was distracted from his thoughts by a hand worming it's way up to scratch a raw shoulder; "itches," Dean mumbled.
"I know dude," Sam sympathised, quietly lifting the hand away, "it sucks!"
Sam continued to work matter-of-factly and in discreet silence, dabbing on the cool chalky lotion over his brother's fidgeting legs, soothing the angry rash as best he could, ignoring Dean's moans and wandering hands as he feebly attempted to scratch away his distress.
Eventually satisfied with his handiwork, Sam gathered up all the soiled cotton wool and wiped his hands on his jeans. He regarded the pink-blotched figure slumped on the bed looking up at him through watery, heavy lidded eyes; a picture of abject misery.
"Anywhere I've missed?" He asked. "Yeah, and it's staying missed too …" Dean replied, little more than a hoarse whisper.
"Ah, okay;" Sam stood up, "try to get some sleep bro'; and don't scratch."
Dean scowled as he shuffled down onto the bed, "can' help it; s'orrible," he snorted, attacking the new spots on his chest.
Sam pulled his arm away; "don't!"
Sam sat on his bed, warm, but refreshed after a shower, and relished the mild breeze circulating over Dean's bed. Nightfall had taken the edge off the heat, and Sam felt comfortable for the first time today.
He rubbed his eyes and yawned, exhausted by the drama of the days events combined with the soul sapping heat; sleep wouldn't be a long time coming tonight, he was quite sure of that.
Dean had finally settled, face down, with only a thin cotton sheet pulled up to his waist. To Sam's relief, he had finally drifted off into a twitchy, fitful sleep after a couple of hours fretting and fidgeting. He sighed, feeling completely helpless; his heart went out to his suffering big brother.
Sam watched soft, rhythmic breaths lifting Dean's raw back as he slept. He noticed a feverish sheen of sweat across his shoulders and neck, despite the cooling effect of the fans and a pained knot between his brows.
What he didn't see, however, was a sly hand under the sheet furiously scratching at an infernally itchy midriff.
Sam drifted into wakefulness with a hoarse groan and rolled onto his side, blinking through the darkness. He glanced at his watch; 3.30 am. Around five hours since he had settled Dean, and put his own tired head down.
He yawned taking in a stifling lungful of the spongy air and stretched lavishly, pushing down the sweat-dampened cotton sheet which was draped over his body, clinging clammily to his legs. Damn this hot spell; even nightfall wasn't bringing the blessed relief that everyone was hoping for.
He didn't know what had woken him from what had been a deep and refreshing sleep despite the heat, but he guessed it may have had something to do with the crawling sense of unease which was currently gripping the pit of his stomach.
Instinctively, he squinted through the shadows at the bed beside him which creaked and groaned as it's uncomfortable occupant shifted uneasily.
Dean had long since kicked the threadbare cotton sheet off his bed and was lying flat on his front, spreadeagled as far across the mattress as he could possibly spread himself. Sam could clearly see the heaving of his back as he panted miserably in the insufferable heat.
"Y'ok Dean?" Sam asked softly.
He leaned towards the bed, trying to see if Dean was awake. When no response came, he tried again; a little louder to make himself heard over the humming of the fans which seemed to be doing little to ease his brother's distress.
Dean's head lifted with seemingly enormous effort and he looked up through the gloom toward Sam, squirming uncomfortably as he rubbed the back of a forearm across his brow. He croaked something monosyllabic and swallowed harshly, shaking his head.
"Dean, How ya doin, dude?"
He was trying to sit up.
As Dean hauled himself into a lop-sided sitting position, he gave a series of rapid, choking gulps. Turning towards Sam, he blinked in panic, throwing a shaking hand over his mouth. Sam immediately got the message.
Sliding down off his bed, he scampered across the room, grabbing the trash can and dashed back, just in time to drop to his knees beside Dean as he lurched forward, retching suddenly and violently into the offered receptacle.
Sam crouched beside his big brother and reached up, placing a hand on the back of Dean's convulsing neck, sucking in a sharp breath as he felt the burning heat radiating off of it. His fingers worked their way into the soaked hair at Dean's nape, kneading and soothing, trying to calm the violent spasms of his nausea.
"Hey, it's ok dude, just let it out;" Sam murmured pointlessly, as if Dean had any choice in the matter.
After a few moments, the heaving subsided and Dean slumped against Sam, utterly spent. He panted harshly, spitting bitter bile into the trash can. In the moonlight, Sam could see the tears of frustrated, furious despair soaking his flushed face.
"…sucks S'my," he groaned when he could at last draw breath.
Sam smiled sadly and squeezed Dean's hot, inflamed shoulder, pushing the trashcan to one side, making a mental note to be aware of it and not kick it over as he got up.
Sam leaned over Dean; "I'm gonna put the light on dude, you might wanna cover your eyes," he whispered, and reached up over Dean's head to flick the switch on the wall lamp over the bed before Dean had a chance to protest.
He paled at the sight before him.
Dean sat slumped on the side of the bed, shivering feverishly and squinting through the sudden illumination under a raised hand.
A livid flush coloured his cheeks and neck, contrasting violently with the dull grey smudges beneath his glazed, pain-filled eyes. The chickenpox rash was mercifully light across his face; only a faint scattering of spots was evident across his cheeks, jawline, and neck; Sam thanked God, Heaven and anything else he could think of for that small mercy.
Dean was soaked in his own sweat; his chickenpox ravaged body absolutely running with it. The mattress he had been laying on felt like someone had tipped a bucket of warm water over it.
Sam could see from Dean's raised hand the angry rash which had spread out from his back, along his shoulders and arms. Clusters of inflamed blisters peppered them, particularly where the skin was thinnest and warmest such as at the crooks of his elbows, under his arms and at his wrists.
There were angry raised welts criss-crossing his forearms where Dean had been scratching desperately, despite all Sam's warnings. Sam stared in shock, covering his gaping mouth with a shaking hand. He should be angry with Dean for ignoring his advice and doing this to himself, but he couldn't bring himself to be even slightly annoyed with the poor suffering figure beside him.
The spots had also spread round and across Dean's chest and stomach, covering the skin there with a fiery, burning rash, riddled with angry red spots, which again looked sore and bloody in patches where Dean had clearly been scratching himself raw.
"Dean;" whispered Sam.
Dean looked up at his brother, and for a moment Sam saw the utter misery that this horrible illness was inflicting in those watery, blinking eyes.
"Sam, I want this to stop," he whispered in despair, "so hot … an' sick … won' stop itchin; feels like freakin' ants crawlin' all over me." He gave a pained cough, wincing as his dry throat hurt, "wanna tear all my skin off Sam, just wan' it to stop itchin'."
As if to reinforce the point, Dean reached up with a shaky hand and scratched his neck.
"I'll do what I can to help you dude," Sam soothed, gently but firmly lifting the hand away. He tensed as Dean's breath hitched and his hunched back shuddered.
"You okay? You gonna puke again?" Sam reached round behind him for the trash can.
Dean shook his head; "not yet … soon though," he gulped, reaching round and tearing at his shoulder.
Once again, Sam discreetly lifted Dean's hand away and stood up with a grunt as both his knees clicked; man, he was getting to old for this.
"I'm gonna check your temp, bro', you're burning up."
Dean nodded vacantly, his eyes struggling to remain open as he looked up at Sam; the one person he trusted to offer some relief from this nightmare.
He watched hazily as Sam fumbled in the first aid kit to find their thermometer, and opened up obediently when Sam asked, allowing the thermometer to be gently slipped under his tongue.
"S'gonna be okay, this crap only lasts for a few days," Sam murmured hopefully as he timed the thermometer, desperate to think of something to say that might comfort his poor, suffering brother.
"Jesus Dean," Sam gasped as he looked at the thermometer, "it's over 100, we gotta get you cooled off; that'll help with the …"
His voice was abruptly cut off as Dean lurched forward, doubling over again, and Sam just managed to thrust the trashcan under his chin, watching helplessly as his brother retched and gagged violently, gripping the trashcan with white-knuckled ferocity as he did his best to turn himself inside out.
Sam bit his lip fighting back tears as he kneaded his brother's relatively rash-free nape feeling the muscles straining and protesting as the awful nausea strained Dean's fever-racked body. All he wanted was to be able to offer some small comfort to his brother through this whole horrible episode.
After it passed, the second spell of sickness left Dean so weak, he ended up slumped limply against Sam's shoulder; a shaking hand weakly clawing at his arm. Once again, Sam gently pulled the hand away, feeling bad for doing so.
When he felt Dean had recovered to a degree, he leaned in close to the flushed face, close enough to see a bead of sweat slip down his temple; "Dean, I'm going to rinse the trash can, then I'm gonna run a cool bath for you."
He waited for a listless nod, "the Pharmacist told me about some – uh - stuff we can put in it to soothe the irritation for you." He waited again for a reaction, "sounds good huh?"
Dean nodded again, swallowing hard as he rubbed his clammy forehead.
"Head hurts S'my – c'n I have aspirin?" The voice was barely a whisper.
Sam hesitated; "will you be able to keep it down?"
Dean shook his head despondently, "uh, don' think so …"
Sam almost smiled at his brother's confusion, and knelt down again; jeez, his knees were gonna hate him by the end of this night.
"I think it's the fever that's causing the nausea," he smiled sympathetically, gently grasping Dean's shoulders, taking care not to aggravate the angry rash, "lets get you cooled off, an' then you can take a Tylenol; that'll help the headache and the fever."
Dean nodded, "kay S'my…" He hesitated; "'m thirsty, c'n I have a glass o' water?"
Sam rolled his eyes; "just a little drop, dude … don' want you throwin' up in the bath."
Dean's brow furrowed; "what bath?"
Sam sighed; "never mind dude, just take it easy for a bit, okay?"
Dean nodded, "'kay S'mmy."
Sam glanced back at his brother, "you gonna be okay while I go an' rinse the trashcan?"
A cautious nod; "yeah … c'n I have an aspirin?"
Sam rubbed his face; oh heck, it was too hot for this. Dean, I thought we said …" He looked back at the pitiful figure slumped on the bed, "oh, hell never mind!"Sam's hand slipped away from Dean's shoulders as he headed off to the bathroom in search of the Tylenol. He felt Dean flinch at the loss of contact.
Sam walked back across the room from the bathroom, and crouched down beside Dean; "c'mon dude, all ready."
Dean was sitting exactly as Sam had left him; hunched vacantly on the edge of the bed, the breeze from the fans ruffling his hair but seemingly doing nothing to alleviate his feverish discomfort.
Relieved to see that Dean hadn't needed to call upon the services of the trashcan again, Sam slipped a hand across his brother's back, helping him up into a wobbly-kneed standing position.
He sucked in a sharp breath; "jeez Dean, this rash is burning - no wonder you feel so hot."
Together they made their way slowly and carefully to the bathroom, Dean stumbling on legs made of rubber as Sam all but held him up.
Squinting through watery eyes, Dean blinked at the bathroom's undiffused light; blinding and clinical compared to the dim glow of the wall lamps in the main room. He shaded his eyes with a shaky hand as Sam lowered him to sit on the edge of the bath.
Dean seemed to have snapped back into some shadow of alertness at Sam's touch, and he stared intently into the tub before wrinkling his nose at the cloudy water. "Whassat?" he croaked looking up at Sam; his sore burning throat aggravated by his violent nausea spell, barely able to produce a whisper.
Sam glanced into the bath, "uh, I put something in it, dude," he muttered, "something that's supposed to be really good at helping with the itching."
Dean blinked, absently scratching his belly and looked into the bath again; "Wha'?"
Sam hesitated, hoping he could get Dean into the bath before he had to go into detail.
He scratched his head, "ah, it's nothin' much – just some stuff the pharmacist said to put in the water and it would soothe the itching," He smiled, gesturing towards the bathtub, "why don't you get in?"
Dean arranged his fatigued, flushed features into a glare. He might be sick, but he knew a bunch of bull when he heard it; "what 'stuff'?"
Sam shrugged; "oatmeal," he sighed, and reached into the bath pulling out an oatmeal stuffed sock tied up with string.
Dean's eyes widened; "f-friggin' oatmeal?" he stammered, "Y' gonna put milk an' maple syrup in there for me too?"
"It's supposed to be really good for painful skin conditions …" Sam smiled weakly.
Dean's head slumped onto his chest, "an' I really thought this whole crappy day couldn't get any more freakin' humiliating …"
Sam guessed Dean's grumble wasn't a refusal and so carried on regardless of the huffing and sighing emanating from his brother's direction.
He pointed to Dean's boxers "what'd you wanna do about these, dude?" Dean looked up, seemingly not understanding the question. Sam tried again; "wanna take them off or leave them on?" Dean blinked, wiping his watering eyes; "uh, dunno..."
Sam rolled his eyes; "never mind."
He wrestled Dean into a standing position, puffing and panting as the strength sapping humidity seemed to make Dean weigh twice as much, and tugged his boxers down before his brother even had a chance to protest. Patting Dean's calves to force him to step out of them, he pulled out from under his brother's feet, tossing them into the corner of the room.
"C'mon spotty…" he smiled, hooking an arm around Dean's back and supporting him as he turned to step into the tub. Dean swayed slightly, squirming as he tried to abrade his stinging back against Sam's shoulder.
"You gonna be okay?" Sam looked down into his brother's flushed face; "need the trashcan?" Dean shook his head, and leaned heavily into Sam's chest as he lifted a shaky leg over the edge of the tub, tentatively stepping into the bath.
He gasped as he lowered himself into the cloudy water, "hah … cold."
Gently but firmly, Sam held Dean's shoulders to stop him from trying to climb out of the tub; "It's not that cold;" Sam replied softly, "I'm not gonna run a freezin' cold bath and give you hypothermia on top of everything else, dude." He cupped his hand in the water and palmed the cool water across the back of Dean's shoulders eliciting a gasping shudder from his brother.
"Sorry man," he smiled, "the rash is making your skin feel burning hot, that's why the water feels so cold, but we've gotta cool you down then you'll be a lot more comfortable."
Sam stood up to reach for the facecloths, bending into a weary stretch. A wry smile crossed his face; it's four o'clock in the morning and I'm bathing my thirty year old brother. Man, our life is weird.
Sam worked quietly and without fuss, gently sponging the luke-warm water across Dean's shoulders and down his raw hunched back, winching at the angry rash that was causing his brother so much distress.
As he worked, Dean listlessly splashed the cool water up over his raw, sweat-soaked chest and throat, wet hands sliding down from his feverishly hot face, working in tandem with Sam's therapeutic touch, cooling the burn all over his body. He sighed softly; sure, he was sitting here stark naked in a tub of cold friggin' breakfast cereal, covered in spots like some kind of freakin' lameass dalmation; yep, all in all this was right up there with the most humiliating, sucky experiences of his life, and yet he couldn't deny the relief that it brought.
Little bro' sure knew his stuff; Dean had to give the lanky bitch that. He closed his eyes and focussed on Sam's hands rubbing cooling anaesthetising circles over his tense, stinging back.
The exercise also gave Sam a good look at Dean's condition and the fierce outbreak of blisters across his body. He winced at the damage Dean had inflicted on himself by his desperate scratching.
Dean remained largely silent the whole time, and Sam bit his lip in sympathy, knowing Dean was thoroughly miserable and utterly mortified as he sat allowing Sam to soothe away his distress, his confident hands working with a thoroughness that betrayed his own fatigue.
Dean shuddered, but didn't complain, closing his eyes as he allowed Sam to work, largely unhindered. It was enough satisfaction for Sam that his brother looked more relaxed than at any time since the whole nightmare began.
Sam gave Dean a few moments to collect his thoughts then crouched down beside the bath. "Ready to get out?" he asked, kneeling down and looking Dean straight in the eye. He smiled when Dean gave a slow nod from behind heavy lidded eyes.
"How ya doing; feeling better?" Dean glanced up at Sam, "yeah," he grunted softly, taking the offered hand as he clambered clumsily out of the bath.
Feet on the floor, Dean stumbled and sat meekly on the edge of the bathtub as Sam patted him down with a dry towel, following up with a liberal slathering of antihistamine cream across his blazing shoulders, under his arms and across his stomach where he had inflicted the worst damage on himself during the height of his hot, irritating misery.
"Open," Sam instructed, slipping the thermometer into Dean's mouth again when he wearily obeyed.
"…'od 'm edache," he mumbled round the thermometer.
"I think I understood that," grinned Sam, "I got the Tylenol, you can take it when we're done." He stood up with a huff and wiped a forearm across his glistening brow as he timed the thermometer.
"woss'mng?" Dean muttered.
Sam removed the thermometer, uh?"
"what's wrong?" Dean repeated, looking Sam up and down with a suspicious eye; "you hot? You gettin' sick?"
"Nah, not sick," Sam sighed, looking down at the thermometer. "it's hot work bathing your heavy ass!"
Dean snorted, sounding stronger than he had all day; "yeah, well, don' worry Florence, you ain't gonna be making a habit of it."
Sam shook his head with a smile; "thank God for small mercies," he sighed, "you're a bit cooler now, feel better?"
Dean nodded, breathing deeply.
"Gonna hurl?" Sam lifted the toilet seat, ready.
"No" Dean shook his head, "feel better now."
He looked down and cringed. "I'll feel even better still when I've got some clothes on," he added glumly, gesturing down to himself in all his spotty and irritated naked glory.
Sam smiled weakly; "uh, yeah dude. So will I!"
Sam sat in his bed and watched his brother sleep.
A combination of the cool oatmeal bath (which both embarrassed parties agreed would never be mentioned again under pain of death), the antihistamine cream, and a dose of Tylenol which Dean had managed to keep down much to Sam's relief had, at least for now, soothed Dean's distress, enabling him to find some much-needed rest in his freshly made bed. Sam had some industrial strength antihistamine tablets on standby in case Dean woke up again and needed any assistance in finding his way back to the land of nod.
Sam snorted sourly when he saw the sun's rays already creeping along the horizon, bringing a sheen of sweat across his brow with it. He lay back, closing his eyes and sighed knowing that there was another stifling hot, stressful day ahead; but that could wait.
For now the only thing he planned to do was follow his brother into sleep …
… all he had to do first was bleach his brain of highly disturbing wet, naked brother images.