HOT SPOTS Part 2
Word Count: Approx 20,000 in total
Sitting at a small wobbly-legged table opposite the end of Dean's bed Sam chewed listlessly on his breakfast. It had taken him almost twenty minutes to dispose of the grilled cheese sandwich he had forced himself to make; His appetite, heavily suppressed by the crushing heat and nagging concern was fighting every mouthful of the tangy snack. Ideally he would have managed easier with something light and bland like oatmeal but he didn't think he'd ever be able to face the thought of eating the stuff again.
He looked up over his coffee mug squinting blearily through the grime coating the window and the heat haze blurring the world beyond; God, it was hotter than ever. As his unfocussed eyes lingered, he noticed that the cat which greeted him so apathetically those few days ago was still spreadeagled idly along the wall outside.
Sam put his coffee down and leaned on the table, resting his chin in his hand as he stared curiously at the motionless ginger throw rug. Surely it must have moved between then and now; is the damn thing nailed there?
Behind him, bedsprings creaked as Dean shifted uncomfortably on his sweat-dampened mattress; sprawled face-down, he was as limp and comatose as the sunbathing cat thanks to the industrial-strength antihistamines Sam had been plying him with ever since he had awoken once again in some distress about six hours after the infamous oatmeal bath.
Turning his attentions from the cat which he had now decided was probably dead and stuffed, Sam looked across at his brother, his face smooshed deeply into his pillows, a thin, screwed up cotton sheet tangled messily around his hips. His raw back glistened with sweat, and Sam sighed; he really did feel so sorry for the poor guy.
As he watched, a sly hand shifted slowly upwards to surreptitiously scratch a spot-ravaged shoulder.
"Dean, quit scratching!"
The hand froze, mid-scratch and swivelled, raising a single finger to show what it thought of Sam and his 'quit scratching' advice.
Sam allowed himself a small smile and rose, strolling across the room to kneel down beside the bed, "how ya doin' bro?"
Dean's rasping voice was muffled into his pillow; "like shit," he replied bluntly.
"That good huh?" Sam smiled sadly. He pressed the back of a hand across Dean's cheek.
"So freakin' hot …"
Sam shuddered at the burning heat radiating from his brother's face.
Taking the thermometer from a glass on the nightstand, Sam tapped Dean on the shoulder, "c'mon dude, open up!" Dean's face emerged, blinking tearily, from the pillow, and if it hadn't been so heartbreaking, it might have been funny. His bleary, heavily flushed face looked slightly flattened where it had been buried in the bedlinen, complete with a slightly crooked indentation of a raised seam bisecting his forehead.
Looking at the thermometer, Sam gasped; "crap Dean, it's higher than ever, over 103."
Dean made an non-committal noise, something between a sigh and a grunt and his head flopped back down into the pillows.
In the bathroom, Sam ran a towel under the cold tap, wringing it out over the bath. He carried it over to the bed and laid it across Dean's burning back and shoulders, flinching as Dean Jerked wildly, clambering up onto his elbows with a yelp.
"Gah … dude, at least friggin' tell me when you're gonna do something like that," he croaked through a gasp.
Sam shook his head, "Sorry man, but you're way too hot."
Dean flopped down again; "whole sonofabitch world is too hot," he groaned, "wan' go to Alaska."
"Want something to eat?" Sam asked hopefully.
Dean replied with a listless shake of the head; "not hungry," he mumbled back into the pillow.
"Throat still sore?" Sam continued wheedling, "wanna drink? You need to drink."
The nod was barely perceptible; "throat sore, light hurts my eyes, head aches, every-friggin'-thing aches, still itchin' all over."
"Still feelin' sick?" Sam asked placing a glass of water on the nightstand, helping Dean to sit up so he could drink it.
Dean shook his head, and attempted to disguise a shuddering, gulping breath. Sam knew that meant yes.
How the hell could someone look as pallid as death and painfully flushed at the same time? Sam's heart went out to his brother. Dean's hunched, defeated shoulders; his dejected expression; his whole body dripped misery.
After he had drunk the water he lay back down on his side, panting miserably as he closed his eyes. That's when Sam noticed his side, inflamed with scabbed blisters, and stained with blood where he had been scratching himself.
"Man, you look like shit."
"Thanks Nurse Ratchet," Dean mumured quietly, "we need t' work on that bedside manner."
"Wan another bath?" Sam asked, "would that help?".
"No," the response came without a moment's hesitation.
"We've gotta cool you down somehow," Sam pleaded, "you're burnin' up."
Dean shook his head; "lemme sleep … head hurts …"
Sam could feel himself start to panic; "Dean it's been two days and you're sicker than ever, I really think you need to see a doctor."
Dean glared up at his brother without lifting his head from the pillow; "don' need no friggin' quack to tell me what I already know. Jus' need to rest and for this crappy heat to stop."
Clenching his fists, Sam counted to ten as he stomped into bathroom; emerging a few moments later with a bowl of water and a face cloth. "At least let me try to cool you down; that might make you feel better," he sighed.
A muffled grunt accompanied a twitch; it could have been a nod.
Sam fiddled irritably with the fans, trying to find a position where they were both pointing more directly at his brother, and sat beside the bed, lifting the now warm, damp towel from Dean's shoulders.
He wiped the cold flannel across Dean's neck, cringing as the elder Winchester flinched under the chill, but unlike before he didn't complain, closing his eyes and remaining disturbingly silent instead.
Working methodically, Sam worked the cool cloth across Dean's shoulders and down his back, gently moving outwards from his spine, over and over; washing cooling refreshing circles of care, always mindful not to aggravate the rash which, if anything, seemed angrier than ever. He followed up by gently dabbing a coating of cool, soothing calamine over Dean's raw back, smiling as His brother softly sighed, murmuring quietly into his pillows.
He scraped a hand through his damp fringe. Even the simple act of tending Dean had left him drained; this damned heat was relentless, gradually wearing him down. He sighed as he plucked at his T shirt; fresh on this morning, it was already damp, clinging uncomfortably across his back, and pinching clammily under his arms.
But, he was at least pleased to see that Dean's breathing had evened out, and Sam felt satisfied that his brother had relaxed under his tender ministrations. He leaned in close, but could still feel the heat radiating off Dean's sweat beaded face.
"D'y wanna roll over dude?" he whispered.
"Dude? C'mon, I need to do your front …" a little louder.
Sam couldn't make up his mind whether the fact that Dean had fallen asleep after only being awake about twenty minutes was good thing or a bad thing. Sure, he needed to sleep, but antihistamine drowsiness notwithstanding, he seemed worryingly incapable of staying awake. Pressing a hand on his sleeping brother's shoulder, Sam could feel deep tremors racking the hot, clammy body and his mouth tightened in concern. Something wasn't right; he had a bad, bad feeling and to make matters worse, the stubborn ass was adamant he wasn't going to see a doctor.
Deciding he only had one option, he picked up the phone. Sure, Dean would gripe and bitch; he would have a battle on his hands, one which he really didn't need in this damned stinking heat, but he was past caring. Crap times call for crap measures, and Sam was resolutely convinced this qualified comfortably as a crap time.
He dialled the number.
It was dark when Sam opened his eyes.
He wasn't quite sure where the day had gone. It had vanished in a haze of heat induced lethargy and gut-clenching concern.
Dean had barely opened his eyes all day, and Sam had flitted between trying to keep him cool, coaxing him to drink, administering Tylenol, applying calamine lotion, checking his temperature and wrestling wandering hands away from hot, itchy places.
Exhaustion had finally driven Sam to close his eyes and rest his weary head long before the sun had finally set.
Not exhausted enough it seemed, to be able to sleep undisturbed, however. Sam sighed, glancing at his watch; 2.30 am. He gulped a mouthful of choking humidity and threw an arm over his eyes. He'd need all his strength for the fight tomorrow when he told Dean he'd booked him a doctors appointment and the way things were going, it looked like his strength wasn't going to amount to much.
He squinted through the darkness across the room to see how Dean was doing, and it was then he noticed the bed was empty.
He blinked and rubbed his eyes. He didn't remember hearing Dean get up; oh, crap … he hadn't fallen out of bed?
Sitting up, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and instantly noticed a sliver of light across the bottom of the bathroom door.
Stifling a yawn, he padded over to the door and timidly tapped on it.
"Dean, you ok in there?"
He tapped again, a little louder.
"Dean, need any help?"
He was met once again by silence, and a cold bolt of alarm struck him.
Bathroom visits had been the only activity that Dean in his weakened condition was determined to manage alone, and he was aggressively adamant that it would stay that way. Despite his overwhelming urge to help, Sam knew that hovering too close under those particular circumstances was only likely to earn him a smack in the ear, and so he reluctantly kept a discreet, but concerned, distance.
So far, however, Dean had always made it back to bed without incident.
He tried the door and to his relief, discovered it wasn't locked. Pushing it open, he peered cautiously into the bathroom, blinking wetly against the stark light.
His exhaustion vaporised instantly when he saw Dean lying unconscious on the floor.
Sam stared wide-eyed in disbelief at the solemn white-coated figure standing before him. He had introduced himself as Doctor Lawrence, but the irony of his name was lost on Sam in his fear and confusion.
His mouth worked silently for a long, desperate moment as he tried to form the word.
Lawrence nodded, "yes, I'm afraid so, Mr Wilton, uh … Sam."
Sam blinked, shaking his head to clear the whirling turmoil in his mind. "Is that like blood poisoning?" he asked, his shocked voice small with fear.
The Doctor's grim face softened, and he gestured to a padded couch beside them.
"Shall we have a seat?" He extended a hand across Sam's back, appearing genuinely concerned that he might pass out.
Sam nodded, and sat obediently, waiting for Lawrence to sit beside him
"Septicaemia is the medical name for what is commonly called blood poisoning;" Lawrence began, speaking softly and sympathetically.
Sam stared blankly at floor as the man beside him spoke.
"But he only had chickenpox," he offered weakly, "he can't have blood poi - I mean - Septicaemia."
Lawrence smiled sadly; "I know, it seems wild," he replied kindly, "but septicaemia can be a side-effect of extreme cases of chickenpox."
Sam closed his eyes, and swallowed back a wave of nausea as the doctor continued. "It can potentially result anytime there's an open wound," he explained; "in the case of a chickenpox sufferer it often happens if the rash has been scratched enough to break the skin, allowing impurities to enter the bloodstream."
He gave a small shrug; "Sometimes it can simply be a result of an infection in the lesions caused by the illness," he continued, "It's just the worst kind of bad luck, I'm sorry."
Sam huffed a bitter laugh.
Winchester luck; yeah, figures.
He scraped a hand over his face and looked up at Lawrence, "is he going to die?"
The doctor took a deep breath before he spoke; "I'm not going to lie to you, Sam;" he said, "septicaemia is extremely serious."
He paused for a moment to let Sam take in the revelation. "but," he continued, his hands opening towards Sam in a universal gesture of honesty, "all the signs are you've caught it relatively early and he has his strength and fitness on his side."
"We're pumping him full of very strong antibiotics, together with fluids to raise his blood pressure and it seems to be helping because he was just beginning to come round before I came out to find you."
"I'm afraid all we can do now is wait."
Sam nodded; "can I see him?"
Lawrence smiled; "of course, follow me."
Silently following Lawrence into Dean's ICU room, Sam turned to thank him.
"He's regained consciousness but he's not terribly lucid, so don't expect too much," the doctor warned.
Sam nodded again.
"… and above everything, he needs to rest."
"Sure, doc; and thanks again." Smiling sadly, Sam watched the doctor as he discreetly left the room and quietly shut the door behind him.
Sam sat down beside the bed containing his brother, and reached across to press his hand against the top of Dean's head. He watched as his brother's eyes fluttered open, and his head canted towards Sam.
"Hey dude," Sam murmured softly, "you gave me a real bad scare, you jerk!"
Dean treated Sam to a shaky smile. He mouthed the word 'bitch' but no sound came out.
He tried to speak again, but Sam cut him off, carding his fingers through his brother's damp hair.
"Shhh ... don't worry, just rest." Sam gave a watery smile, "You're very sick; doctor says you've got to rest."
"Only had chi'npox…" Dean croaked.
Sam was delighted to hear Dean speak, despite how broken and weak his voice sounded. He closed his eyes and his mind wandered back to that terrible moment he had found Dean slumped on the bathroom floor.
No amount of shouting and shaking had been able to engender any reaction, and Sam's frantic 911 call had ended up with his brother being stretchered into the back of an ambulance, amidst a flurry of activity, to take a blue-light ride to the local hospital.
And now here he was.
The word scared Sam to death.
Who the hell gets Septicaemia from chickenpox?
A Winchester, that's who.
Glancing back up to the bed, Sam realised that Dean had drifted off again. Mesmerised by the lazy drip, drip of the life preserving fluids pumping into his brother, he watched Dean sleep, reassured by the shaky rise and fall of his brother's blistered chest, and the wheezing huff as he breathed through the cannula beneath his nose.
Squeezing his eyes closed Sam pinched the bridge of his nose as a wave of dizziness, driven by panic-stricken exhaustion washed over him.
As he sat brooding, he noticed the patches across Dean's side and stomach where he had scratched himself raw had been covered with gauze, and that his hands had also been covered by some kind of fabric, looking vaguely comical almost like he was wearing mittens. Sam guessed that was in place to stop him from scratching and doing any more damage.
Sam took one of his brother's mittened hands, and clutched it tightly; "c'mon dude, just rest, you gotta get better for me, ok?"
He squeezed Dean's hand, rubbing gently through the soft covering, "you gotta get better bro'." He swallowed back the urge to break down, " I mean, who's gonna look after your great big, geeky little brother if you're not here."
Sam sat back in his seat, still clutching Dean's hand, comforted by the contact. Dean looked utterly at peace; far more so than at any time during the last few days.
As he watched the antibiotic drip snaking it's slow, lifegiving way into Dean's arm, and listened to the soporific beep of the heart monitor, Sam relished the comfort of the air-conditioned environment; so comfortable after days and days of soul-sapping heat, and his eyes began to droop.
He didn't realise he'd nodded off until he was jolted awake by the sound of the door opening.
A tall man with dark hair and a kindly face walked into the room. His scrubs and the initials R.N on his name badge told Sam straight away he was a nurse.
"Hi," he smiled, "I'm Ross;" he handed a vending machine cup of coffee to Sam, "thought you might need this, Mr Wilton."
Under any other circumstances Sam would have beamed with wicked glee at the thought of Dean waking up to the attentions of a male nurse. Instead, he took the coffee gratefully, "thanks Ross; call me Sam."
"I'll be overseeing the care of your brother for the next few days," Ross said pleasantly, smiling warmly at Sam, "and if there's anything you need, Sam, you just let me know, huh?"
Sam stretched out his popping joints after his short nap and smiled up at the instantly likeable figure who was walking round the bed.
Ross laid a hand on Dean's shoulder, "Hey there big guy, we're just gonna get you hooked up to a new bag huh?"
Sam watched as the man worked confidently, adjusting the new bag on the drip stand, taking Dean's temperature, checking his pulse, talking softly to his sleeping patient the whole time."
"You've had a rough time of it recently haven't you, huh?"
"He got the chickenpox;" Sam spoke up from the other side of the bed.
"Ugh, that sucks," Ross grimaced with genuine sympathy, "so much worse in adults, huh?"
He turned back to look down at Dean, "an' we can't have you spoiling those great looks with sucky chickenpox scars, now, can we, huh?"
Sam choked briefly into his coffee, and looked up to see Ross standing over his brother still holding his wrist, seemingly checking his pulse for, maybe, the third time.
Eventually releasing his hold on his patient's wrist, Ross carefully laid Dean's hand back across his midriff and walked back around the bed with Dean's chart; temperature's down, blood pressure's stabilised; he's doing real well," he gave an admiring look at his patient, "he's so fit and strong, we'll have him outta here in no time, huh?"
"That'd be great." Sam replied.
"Yeah," sighed Ross, still gazing down at his patient; "but better not to rush these things, huh?" he gushed cheerfully, looking back at Sam.
"I'll leave you in peace now, Ross smiled, "but I'll come back later on to settle him for the night, huh?" He smiled broadly, "and, I tell you what, I'll get some vitamin E oil." He glanced back down to Dean, patting his shoulder with a broad smile, "hey, buddy, we can rub that on your arms and chest once it starts to heal to ease any of those pesky scars, huh?.
Sam nodded with a tight-lipped smile; "that'll be great Ross, he'd really appreciate that," he spluttered, hiding his face behind the empty coffee cup, before saying goodbye to the cheerful man.
His eyes followed Ross as the door closed quietly, and he snorted out the laugh that he had been suppressing for the last five minutes.
"Dude," he chuckled, taking Dean's hand once more; "now you gotta wake up, dude. You can't deny me this!"
The following three days passed in a desperate blur for Sam. As Dean lay shivering, and fretting weakly with the infection ravaging his weakened body, he drifted in and out of consciousness, occasionally skirting the edges of awareness, but far more often lost and disorientated in a fog of sickness and heavy medication. For hours, and most terrifying of all, he would lay motionless, pallid and unresponsive under Sam's frightened, despondent gaze.
Sam's mood drifted along with his brother's condition from black despair to cautious hope, with an constant undertone of nauseous concern as Doctor Lawrence's frequent visits offered little in the way of definite encouragement. ' Dean's test results were encouraging …', 'not out of the woods …', 'blood count's much improved on yesterday …', 'next twenty-four hours are critical …', 'long way to go before we'll know for sure …' Jeez, these guys were harder to pin down than some damned perma-tanned, sticky-fingered politician.
One small piece of good fortune was the long-overdue end of the hot spell. Violent thunderstorms in parts of the country overnight had heralded the nightmare's end, and Sam found himself opening the room's one small window the following morning to inhale deeply of the refreshing scent of summer rain. He peered up into the gunmetal grey sky, still pregnant with unfallen rain, and gave a long sigh of relief.
The white noise of the downpour washed over him, soothing and relaxing. He hoped the welcome, lifegiving song would have a similarly healing effect on his brother.
Sam's rock during this difficult time was Ross. The man clearly loved his work, and was as devoted to looking after distressed relatives as he was to taking care of his patients. Empathy and understanding poured off of the man as he fussed around Sam as much as his sick brother; he was clearly a person for whom caring was a born gift, not a learned skill.
Sam had, over those harrowing days, developed a deep respect and no small amount of admiration for the man; especially as it had become patently clear that Ross' level of devotion to this particular patient was driven by something far more entertaining than a desire to do a job well.
His interpretation of 'overseeing your brother's care' had become one of taking on the entire job himself and not allowing another care-giver within a mile of his pet patient. He guarded his precious charge like a starving dog might defend it's last bone.
On the rare occasions he required a second pair of hands, for instance, when changing Dean's sweat-dampened bedlinen, he worked swiftly and efficiently with a fellow nurse, and then hurriedly ushered the poor woman out of the room as if she was carrying a communicable disease.
The fact that, had Ross not been the consummate professional that he was, he would have jumped Dean's bones in a nanosecond was a welcome source of light relief for Sam during that dark time. There was some heavy duty teasing to do, and Sam hoped beyond desperate hope that he would get the opportunity to do it.
It was mid-morning on the fifth day after his admission that Dean awoke; there had been encouraging signs the previous day, but this time it was for real. There was no vacant gazing into the distance through blurred, swimming vision; no groaning, glassy-eyed through a searing headache; no delirious whispers through barely moving lips.
He blinked back tears as daylight assaulted his eyes, and turned to look at his brother, who sat beside him reading a novel that he had bought from the hospital's second-hand book store.
"S'mmy" he croaked faintly, his voice weak through lack of use.
Engrossed in his book, Sam didn't hear the barely audible whisper.
"Sammy!" He tried again, as strong as he could manage this time; "get your nose ou' that friggin' book, an' talk to your brother …"
Sam turned, dropping the book. It was the first time he'd heard his brother say his name in almost a week and his heart swelled to bursting in his chest.
"Dean; Oh God Dean," he reached across and cupped Dean's face in his hands, "hey man, how you feelin'? D'y need any help? D'y need Dctor Lawrence?" He gasped with joy, "oh jeez, it's good to hear your voice bro'."
Dean peered up at his brother from between Sam's massive palms without lifting his head from the pillows, "y'gon' grow ovaries one day …" He mumbled, squirming free of the hands. "Wha' happened? I feel like I've been wrung out."
"You got blood poisoning dude," Sam gasped frantically, "your chickenpox rash got infected where you scratched it and the infection got into your blood. It got bad dude, real bad."
Sam paused before speaking, "dude I thought I was going to lose you".
Dean worked himself laboriously into a sitting position, swatting Sam's supporting hand away and wincing as the motion exerted wasted muscles and pulled on his drip line; "don' get rid of me that easily," he grinned wearily, adjusting the cannula across his face and trying with all his might to not look as shaky, sick and crushed with exhaustion as he felt.
Sam grasped Dean's wrist."How d'you feel?"
"Like crap; dizzy." Dean gulped back a deep breath, "how long since all this happened?"
"Five days;" Sam replied, "hell, you've been out of it, man!"
Dean blinked. "Five days?" He blinked again, brushing his clammy brow with the back of his drip-free hand, "I've lost five days?"
Sam nodded, "yeah dude, you've been real sick."
Fidgeting irritably, Dean tried to pull himself up straighter, panting from the effort. Sam shook his head and placed a hand flat on his brother's sore, rash mottled chest, stopping him from moving any further.
"Chill out bro', just rest."
"That's all I've been doing," Dean moaned sulkily, his voice noticeably stronger now; "m'bored."
"How can you be bored?" Sam sighed in exasperation, "you've only been awake five minutes!"
"Just am ..." Dean grunted petulantly, following up with a long yawn.
"Yeah well, too bad; resting is all you're going to do; you're not getting out until Doc Lawrence says you can." Sam smiled as he spoke, but Dean could see the hint of steel behind the smile. He knew, however much he whined and complained, he was going nowhere for the foreseeable future.
He sighed theatrically and glanced down to his inflamed, blistered chest.
The chickenpox, having followed it's natural course, was beginning to subside significantly reducing the merciless irritation and allowing for the removal of Dean's comical 'mittens', but it had left Dean's skin peppered with sore, inflamed blisters and nowhere more so that across his chest and down his still gauze-covered flank.
"Ugh" he looked up at Sam, "that's disgustin'."
Sam smiled; "it's fading now dude, the nurse has been rubbin' some vitamin stuff on it to stop it from scarring too badly, an …"
Dean yawned again, nestling back into his pillows, and gave a ghost of a smirk; "nurse eh? Good times," he smiled droopily, "bring it on…"
"ah, yeah, well about that, Dea …"
Sam trailed off when he realised Dean had sunk back into a much needed slumber.
Staring at his sleeping brother for the longest time Sam smiled, sighing with incalculable relief as he bent to pick up his book. At last it seemed Winchester luck had finally relented and decided to smile on the brothers.
But experience had taught the boys that Winchester luck is a notoriously fickle bint, and it just so happened that the next time Dean awoke, rested and far more alert than earlier, was at exactly the same moment that Ross was carrying out a routine check on his catheter.
It was difficult to say who was more shocked; Dean, on awakening to find an unfamiliar, dark-haired man crouching over him inspecting his pride and joy; or Ross when his patient suddenly let out a startled yelp and, astonishingly nimble for one at deaths door only forty eight hours ago, scuttled backwards up the bed, plastering himself against the headboard.
"Dude, what the friggin' hell?" Dean gasped, fumbling clumsily for the bed sheets and pulling them up, gripping them with white knuckled ferocity under his chin.
"Hey there Dean," Ross smiled kindly, calmly ignoring the fact his startled patient was pinned against the wall in a tangle of drip lines and nasal cannula, panting harshly and eyeing him up and down as if he were some kind of chainsaw murderer. "Sam told me you'd woken up this morning, buddy; it's great to see you up and awake Dean. How're you feeling, huh?"
"You're a fine one to talk about 'feelin'" Dean gasped indignantly, "I noticed you weren't missin' the opportunity to have a good 'feel' down there."
Still smiing, Ross stepped back and held out his gloved hands in a conciliatory gesture. "Hey Dean; I'm Ross, I'm your nurse." The kindness in his eyes which had so comforted Sam was clearly not yet reaching the bristling elder Winchester as he burrowed further back against the creaking headboard, "don't worry, buddy; you're perfectly safe with me, huh?"
Dean blinked and stared at the man in pebble-eyed disbelief … "nurse?" He gripped the bedclothes a little tighter.
Ross nodded cheerfully, and stepped toward the bed. "I would never have had you pegged for the bashful type, Dean;" he teased, "look, why don't you get back down into bed huh?"
"Where's Sam?" demanded Dean, still eyeing the man warily.
"You know, my job doesn't just stop at looking after my patients," Ross explained calmly, "Your brother is shattered. He needed a break and a change of scenery so, now you're improving, I've made him take a walk over to the coffee shop across the road for some fresh air, a latte and a pastry, he deserves it, huh?"
Dean's face noticeably softened at mention of his brother's name, and Ross took the opportunity to try to get through to him; "why don't you get yourself back into bed huh?" he cajoled gently, offering a hand to help his skittish patient.
Dean hesitated before making an attempt to move. "You're a nurse?" he asked as if to confirm the fact.
"That's right Dean," Ross replied, digging deeper into his substantial reserves of patience.
"But you're a …" Dean tried to fish for the right word.
"I'm a man; that's right, I'm a male nurse." Ross finished the sentence for Dean; anxious to get him back into bed like a good, well-behaved patient. "I guess we can tick your eyesight off the list of things to check, huh?"
Dean looked him up and down apprehensively, timidly releasing his iron grip on the bedclothes.
"And you're still a very sick man," he added with a hint of sternness; "why don't you get back into bed so I can make you comfortable, huh?"
Dean looked down, abashed, and flushed vivid pink when he realised how ridiculous he must look. He cleared his throat awkwardly and obediently shuffled back into the bed.
Ross smiled, and patted him on the shoulder. "Okay, big guy, I'm gonna need to check that catheter again; I wouldn't be surprised if you've pulled it out and slung it halfway across the room after that little manoeuvre, huh!"
Fighting an overwhelming urge to cross his legs, Dean grimaced. He reluctantly lay back and squeezed his eyes closed, white knuckled fists gripping the sheet beneath him.
"This isn't happening; this is not happening." He chanted inwardly, "there is not some random dude down there manhandling my privates." He took a deep, shuddering breath and felt his toes curl in gut-clenching embarrassment; "It's some cute blonde chick, blue eyes, pony tail, sensible shoes …" He groaned, huffing between pursed lips as a man's voice sounded; "y'ok there buddy, huh?" and completely spoiled the illusion.
"So, uh, don't they have any female nurses here?" Dean muttered through clenched teeth, trying to think of anything except what was happening right now.
Ross grinned without looking up from his work; "oh they do, but Sam's told me all about your exacting standards and by the sounds of it, none of ours are in your league, huh?"
Dean nodded in tight-lipped silence.
"Ok, all done there, Dean," Ross announced brightly, giving a final check over a job well done and discreetly pulling the bedclothes down. He stood to check on his furiously blushing patient who seemed to be trying his very level best to disappear through the mattress, and fought to suppress a grin at the sight.
"Yes, as far as good looks and femininity is concerned, I'm about the best this hospital can do, huh?" He gave a cheerful wink, as he straightened the tangled drip lines and leaned in towards Dean. whispering as if he had a secret to share; "At least that's what my partner, David, says!"
Dean's jaw dropped as Ross stood upright and pulled off his latex gloves with a mischevious snap.