Title: Vigilance

Fandom: Supernatural.

Pairing: Sam/Dean

Rating: PG-13 for language

Prompt: Sam's got a cold, and colds and migraines really don't mix well.




Hnxfff! AHH!


“Sammy?” The word hangs there in the pitch black darkness of the motel room. It had taken all damn day to get the room this dark; Dean had been vigilant about it. First it was the glowing digits of the alarm clock, now buried under a pillow. Then it was the daylight sneaking through the thin curtains, now covered with a sheet and two blankets as makeshift blackout curtains. Then it was the stripe of light coming in under the door, now stopped up with a flannel shirt. No glowing television screen. No glowing laptop screen. Not even a glowing cell phone screen. There was nothing for Dean to do but sit and listen to Sam’s deep breaths in and out from under the covers as he tried to fall asleep long enough to drive this migraine away.


But that sound was new. That wasn’t the sound of his brother’s peaceful snores. It was a sound he didn’t recognize following by a yell from Sam that he damn well did recognize. “Sammy, are you okay?” There is silence, and Dean can almost hear his own panic settle over him as his own breathing quickened and his heartbeat thumped. There is absolutely no way in hell a monster could get into this room; he knows that. They took all the usual precautions. But Dean can’t see a thing. All he knows for sure is that Sam is in distress. “Talk to me here, kiddo.”


There is a rustling of blankets then a gasp. Sam’s voice comes through clearly, so he must have stuck his head out from under the covers. “I’m… well, not all right. But it’s nothing. Don’t be worried about me.”


“That ship sailed a long, long time ago,” says Dean, who still dreamt of that night his mom died. Sometimes he woke up still feeling the weight of his baby brother held tight in his arms. He was always going to worry about Sam. And he was always going to do whatever it took to make Sam better.


Which is why he was willing to sit here in the dark, doing nothing at all, as they waited for Sam’s brutal migraine to pass. Maybe the headaches were part of the powers Sam seemed to be developing. Or maybe they were some new curse Sam was lucky enough to pick up. Dean didn’t know, and Dean didn’t care. All he wanted was for his brother to feel better. And lying on the backseat of the Impala with a damp washcloth on his forehead wasn’t going to cut it. Sam needed an extreme level of quiet and darkness. He needed rest.


Dean hears Sam settle back down. He hears a heavy sigh as Sam’s head hits pillow. He hears blankets getting adjusted. Then he hears Sam clear his throat. “Hey, I hate to ask… but…”


“What d’you need?” The question is a reflex, out so fast Dean doesn’t even realize he is already up out of the chair and on his feet.


There’s a hesitation Dean doesn’t like. The silence following the question makes Dean uncomfortable, restless. If he can do something to help, he wants to do be told about it. When the reply eventually comes, Sam’s voice sounds strained, “Ice water? M’thirsty, and I could use another cold compress.”


“I’m on it,” Dean is relieved just to have something to do that might help. “As long as you’re sure. You remember what this means?”


There is silence for another long moment then a little more rustling. A muffled. “Yeah,” finally follows.


“You all the way under your covers, buddy?”


That’s another “Yeah.”


Dean feels in his back pocket for the hotel room key card; getting locked out is the last thing he needs right now. Normally, the sound of boots against the carpet is so soft he doesn’t notice them. But in this silence, every step sounds way too loud as he walks all the way across the room, feels around on the bathroom counter for the ice bucket, then walks back to the door. They’re like the footfalls of giants. He undoes the chain and pulls the flannel shirt out, using the little light that comes in to ensure that the salt line is still intact. Then he leaves, trying to close the heavy door behind him as softly as possible.


He stands outside for a moment as his eyes readjust to the daylight. He hears another small yell from inside the room and resists the urge to dash back inside, throw on the light, and figure out what’s wrong. Sometimes Sam’s migraines are strong aches that turn his stomach. Other times they’re sharp stabs of pain. Dean assumes this reaction is just from a feeling like a knife stabbing into Sam’s temple. The best thing he can do is get Sam what he needs quickly and hope that helps. Because Sam would tell him if something were really wrong, wouldn’t he? Even if it meant a trip to the ER?


Shit. No, Sam probably wouldn’t. Sam would do what he’d been doing ever since he got back into hunting after his time at Stanford: he’d hide. He’d deny. He’d deflect. It had taken a migraine so bad Sam had very nearly ralphed during an interview for Dean to even know they had started.


Dean walked quickly over to the ice machine. It was their rotten luck that the only available ground floor room at the motel was situated right next door to the ice machine. Luckily, not a lot of people went to get ice, but when anybody did, it was loud and jarring and impossible not to hear from inside their room. The fact that Dean was getting the ice didn’t lessen the sound one bit. But if Sam had asked for it, Dean knew he really needed it.


So Dean holds the bucket under the dispenser and leans on the giant button. Chunks of ice shoot into the bucket, rattling as the machine rumbles. Dean winces at the loudness as if he, too, has a killer migraine.


When the small ice bucket is full, he heads back to their room, lets himself in, and then heads back to the sink. There’s a plastic cup somewhere there… and he finds it, but he also finds it’s still wrapped in plastic. Sam whimpers as Dean wrestles it out of the plastic, taking far too long, fumbling in the dark and doing everything by touch. He finds the faucet. He turns on the tap. And he soaks his hand and sleeve instead of the cup. Goddamn it! He moves the cup into place, filling it for a few seconds. Then he turns the water off and pops a bunch of ice cubes in. He feels around, almost knocking the ice bucket over, and then locates a washcloth. After wetting it and folding it around some ice, he heads in the direction of the bed.


In the dark, he finds it when his knees hit the bed. He winces, and he imagines that Sam does the same thing as he’s jostled a little. “Sorry,” Dean whispers, meaning it wholeheartedly.


“S’okay,” Sam mumbles back, though it sounds like he’s doing so through clenched teeth. “Water?”


“Yup. Right here.” It takes some concentration and trying for Dean to connect the cup with Sam’s hand in the dark without spilling any of the water on Sam. When they finally connect, both men are relieved. Sam takes a quick sip, hisses, then shoves the water right back at Dean. “What?”


Sam moves around, the mattress springs giving, the covers rustling. Then comes a muffled. “Shit shit shit shit shit! Hih-Hjxxphh! AHHHH!


“Sammy? What’s happening?”


More rustling. “Sammy?” Silence. “Sam…”


“Dean…” Sam says softly, tiredly. “I think I’m getting sick.”


“Need the trash can?” Dean turns, wondering where one might be. Under the desk? In the bathroom? Should he drop to his knees and crawl around feeling for one?


“Need the Kleenex.”


“Oh.” And then it all makes sense. “Oh, Sam. It’s gotta be hurting when you sneeze.”


“It really does. I’m trying to keep ‘em quiet, but the sinus pressure and my body shaking violently each time…”


“Okay.” Dean’s brain is trying to keep up with this new information. Sam sick, he can deal with. Sam with a head-splitting migraine, he can deal with. But the two together? He’s never dealt with that before. He’s not even sure of what to do. “Kleenex?”


“Yes please.”


It’s not much, but it’s a start. Dean feels around for his duffle bag and takes it into the bathroom. He closes the bathroom door, stuffs a towel at the crack beneath the door, and turns on the light. There’s a box of tissues in the far corner of the counter. And, in the light, he can go through his duffle to find the right cold medicine. Sam can’t take Tylenol on top of the pain killers Dean already gave him for the migraine—pain killers that don’t seem to be helping much at all. But he’s got some cold medicine that can be taken at the same time. Maybe, if he pumps decongestants into Sam early enough into this cold, it won’t be so bad?


Dean turns off the light and emerges from the bathroom.


H’Tshhhhhh! Hehhshhhoo! Her-AHShooo! AHHHHH!” Sam yells in agony. Apparently not holding back his sneezes is every bit as painful.


Also, apparently, Sam’s already hit the sneezy stage of his cold. Which means he’s been feeling this coming on for at least a day and managed to hide that from Dean. No wonder he asked for ice water. Sam’s throat must be sore and raw already.


With a sigh, Dean bumps into and then sits down on the edge of the bed. Sam’s not in any state to figure out what he needs; that’s usually Dean’s job. But Dean doesn’t have any ideas and can’t even see his brother. He reaches out until he feels something solid. An arm? A leg? A wrist. Then a hand. He grips it tight and Sam squeezes hard. Dean feels the desperation through that grip and knows he’s not going to let go any time soon. “It’s okay,” Dean whispers. “We’ll figure this out. Where’s that cold compress?”


Sam whimpers. Dean climbs onto the bed. It takes a while for them to get settled back down. When they finally do, it’s a new arrangement. Sam’s flat on his back with Dean holding the compress to his forehead. Dean’s other arm is threaded under Sam’s neck, on top of the mattress, resting against Sam’s shoulders. He still grips Sam’s hand. And when Sam has to sneeze, Sam squeezes Dean’s hand back instead of panicking. Dean sets the compress aside, presses a tissue into Sam’s hand, and then braces for them both.


huh-Choo! HehptSHOO!


Silence follows. Dean doesn’t bless him, because Dean doesn’t believe in all that bullshit. He just holds Sam tight and puts the compress back on to help numb the searing pain that grips at Sam until it dies back down. Sam hisses and gasps against the pain, twisting and turning his body as if he can wring the migraine right out, as if moving might shake the pain loose.


The stabbing pain passes, and Sam relaxes back into his brother. But Dean doesn’t relax even a little until he hears Sam’s breaths slow again. The room is pitch black; he can’t even see his hand in front of his face. But he can hear Sam, and he can hear enough to know his brother’s okay until the next sneeze comes. In the darkness, Dean loses all sense of time. Hours might have passed. It might be the next day for all he knows. Even after Sam mercifully falls asleep, Dean stays up, stays vigilant.