Title: B is for Bronchitis
Sam came awake to find Dean kneeling on the bed, straddling him. “Dean?” His voice was scratchy, rough. “Whatcha doin’?” He wheezed around the hopeful words, and it felt like every breath he took wanted to trigger a cough in him.
Dean brandished a thermometer strip, grinning. “Don’t mind me. I’m here to take your temperature, Sammy.”
Sam coughed hard, deep, as if trying to cough something up. But he couldn’t sit up, not with Dean sitting on him. So he coughed, just like he had been coughing for more than a week now, ever since the cold he’d come down with had morphed into bronchitis. He managed to clear his throat and quiet the cough. “But I haven’t had a fever for days.”
“Doesn’t matter. I’m going to take it again to be sure it hasn’t come back.” He leaned forward, pressing the strip to Sam’s forehead and holding it there with thumb and forefinger. They both silently began to count to ten. But Sam felt another cough lying in wait. And Dean decided to take advantage of the fact that he was leaning over Sam. He brushed his lips over Sam’s, just a ghost of a touch. “I miss you.”
“I’m right here,” Sam pointed out.
“Yeah,” Dean agreed. “But you’re all sick and stuffy and weak. That’s no fun at all. It’s not fair having you on your back and not being able to do anything.”
It had been roughly twenty days and four hours since their last kiss, not that Sam was keeping count. “But I don’t have a fever.”
Dean took the strip off and leaned over, putting it on the nightstand. “Yeah, that’s right. You don’t have a fever.”
Sam narrowed his eyes. “You sound disappointed.” He coughed a couple times, fighting his own instincts as he tried to keep them light and not the body-shaking, deep chest coughs his body was telling him to cough.
Dean looked away, shrugged.
Dean looked back. “Oh, no. Not that. I was thinking that if you did have a fever, I’d have a reason to drag your ass back to the ER. I don’t think that medicine they gave you has helped at all.” The back of his hand stroked Sam’s cheek, fingertips grazing the stubble there.
Sam reached up and grabbed Dean’s wrist. Then, taking his brother completely off guard, he flipped Dean over, rolling Dean onto his back on the bed beside Dean, then lying there with Dean hovering over him. “A week ago, I didn’t have the strength to do that. I’ve definitely improved.”
But then he really did have to cough. He put a fist to his face and coughed violently, wetly. His whole body shook and he rolled off from on top of Dean. He sat back against the pillows propped up against the headboard. And he closed his eyes, lending all his strength to the task in hopes that it would pass sooner rather than later.
When it finally did, he found himself hunched over with a hand rubbing his back and another hand in front of him with a tissue. Clearing his scratchy throat, Sam took it and blew his nose. “Guess there’s still room for more improvement.” He sounded weak. This coughing was just about as tiring as hunting.
“All right. That’s all I can take. Into the bathroom with you.”
Sam clutched at the blankets, hugging the covers to his chest as if they were some impenetrable barrier Dean couldn’t find a way through.
“You can take those with you. Just c’mon.” After pulling Sam up out of bed and swirling the blankets around Sam twice so they wouldn’t drag, he got his brother into the bathroom and shut the door behind. Dean turned on sink tap water full blast hot. Then he turned on the shower which, surprisingly for a little motel, ran scalding hot.
The mirror fogged up and Sam coughed. The room filled with steam and Sam coughed. Dean took his shirt off, apparently too warm to keep it on, and Sam coughed and wished he weren’t sick. “Dean,” he moaned miserably. That wasn’t playing fair at all. He sat down on the floor and shivered. The floor was colder than sitting on the closed toilet seat lid. However, Dean couldn’t sit next to him there. So he sat on the floor and a shirtless Dean joined him. Dean wrapped his arm around Sam and Sam coughed.
“You sound better already,” Dean lied.
Resigning himself to the fact that nothing was going to happen until Dean was sure he felt better, Sam took a slow, especially deep breath of the warm, moist air and tilted his head to rest against Dean’s.