Title: After the Fight

Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Supernatural
Rating: PG, if that
Disclaimer: Not my boys.
Written for my own SPN comment meme, but 5 pages is too long to fit in the comments.
Prompt: Dean gets hurt really badly on a hunt, and feverish!sick!sneezy!Sam is having a hard time getting him back to the motel, but he's determined.

After the Fight


The Haptet beast charges Sam again. By the moonlight spilling down through the branches of trees, Sam can see it swinging its impossibly long, hairy arms which end in sharp claws. One already got close enough to slice his shirt and scrape his side and that’s enough for Sam. He lifts the axe, glad he had been able to dislodge it from the head of that last one he’d taken down. With his heart thumping and head pounding, Sam holds his breath, willing himself not to cough now of all times. If he loses control, the thing will kill him. He swings with all the strength he has left and the swing is true, slicing right through the beast’s thick neck. It falls to the ground in two pieces and Sam leans back against a tree, still clutching the handle of the axe.


Three in the cabin. One by the tool shed. One where they’d discovered that mass burial pit of human remains—the thought of which still turns Sam’s stomach a bit. Dean had gone after one and then there’s this one. That’s the seven Haptets, right? He counts. Then he counts again. His fever is making it hard to concentrate, so he counts off on his fingers. Yeah. That’s seven. As long as Dean dealt with that one—and given the way Dean ran after it, the Haptet is probably long dead—they are finally done for the night.


EHFFChooo!” And not a moment too soon. “Ehktchhhhhh!” He sneezes freely because, well, why not? The only tissues are back at the motel and his poor shirt has suffered enough abuse for the night without all the snuffley wet cold sneezes he could inflict upon it. Besides, what harm can it do sneezing out here? The trees aren’t going to catch his cold. He is completely alone here in the middle of the dark woods.


Alone. Oh God, Dean.

Sam calls out, “Dean?” He coughs a little. Then he tries again, louder. “DEAN?” He coughs a lot. He turns his side to the tree, bending over, his body instinctively trying to get itself into a position where he can get air in and expel whatever’s in his lungs. All the running and fighting and sniffing so he wouldn’t sneeze while in pursuit catches up to him at last. He stops coughing only long enough to sneeze, then goes right back to coughing—hacking, spitting, everything he doesn’t want anyone else to hear so he might as well get it over with now.


It’s minutes before the coughing spell passes and he can breathe through his mouth without it catching in his throat and making him cough. He knows he needs to blow his nose, knows he needs to take another dose of Advil, knows he needs to lie down and possibly never get up again for the rest of his life. If he can just find Dean “Dean!” Dean will drive them back. Dean will put Sam to bed with a cool washcloth that will dull the headache and fever enough for Sam to sleep. Dean will pay for an extra day in the motel, even though they’d agreed to skip town in the morning, just so Sam can sleep longer in the nice, clean, soft bed. Dean will get him orange juice without pulp, just how Sam likes it. Dean will… where the hell was Dean? He should be back by now.


“DEAN!” This time, he doesn’t yell as loud as he could. He doesn’t want to start coughing again. So he yells it in the loudest whisper he can. It’s still louder than actually saying his brother’s name, but it doesn’t hurt his sore throat so much. “DEAN!” Sam leaves the support of the tree and stumbles forward. He’s exhausted but it’s the fever that’s really taking its toll now. There are so many trees in the forest, but now he’s starting to see double. They move before him, and he reaches out a hand to keep himself from walking into one as he walks about, calling for his brother as best he can.


He grabs hold of a branch when he feels a sneeze coming on. It’s gonna be strong and he’s already dizzy, so holding on can’t hurt any and there’s no one here to be embarrassed in front of. “heh… heh-EH… ehhhh-EHTCHuhhh!” He sways, holding tight to the branch, then waits for the dizziness to pass. He scrubs the side of his hand at his nose, worried that if he sneezes again, he won’t hear Dean.


He hears a groan. It’s to his left, he’s sure of it. “DEAN?” He’s still whisper-shouting, not wanting to risk more coughs. But he gets no reply and his damn nose is tickling again. He looks around, into the darkness of the forest, trying to spot Dean’s jacket amongst the other dark green, until his eyes flutter closed and he’s tossed forward helplessly. “ehhhh-HEHTChooo!


Another groan. And, following it, a strained, “Saaaam?”


Snuffling, rubbing furiously at his nose, Sam throws himself in the right direction. “Hey! Dean, where are you?”


No response. Dean’s somewhere around here, but he must be too far away to hear Sam calling. He can hear Sam sneeze, though. Sam stops rubbing his nose. The tickle is there like a constant presence in the back of his nose. He feels it prickling at him and he relaxes. Even his tongue is limp in his slightly open mouth. He feels a sneeze build and he gives it free rein over him. It seems to take forever, but it finally strikes. “heh-EHTSHOO!


Dean’s groan is loud and is over to the right this time. Sam stumbles onward, ramming his shoulder into a tree trunk but not hard enough to do any real damage; it just slows him down.


They follow the sneezes and coughs and groans to find enough other in the wood. Sam nearly trips over Dean, who is crawling on the ground. Sam drops down and Dean looks up, grateful to see him. “I heard you sneeze,” he says. Blood trickles down the center of his face, alongside his nose, coming from a spot at his hairline. And his right leg stretches out behind him limply. He’s a broken mess, his expression serious. “Your cold’s getting worse.”


Sam nods. “Didn’t feel so bad during the fight, but now I’m so sick I can’t walk straight.”


Dean looks him in the eye. “I can’t walk at all.”


Sam grips his arm. “Not without my help.” He helps Dean turn and sit up. His flashlight is back in the cabin, useless after being crushed under the foot of one of those Haptet beasts. Without asking, Sam’s hand dives into Dean’s pocket and finds his brother’s small flashlight. It’s not as strong, but it does the trick. The wound looks twice as bad in the light, but it’s not too deep. Dean’ll probably need stitches; it will be fun for feverish Sam to keep from sneezing long enough to sew that up back at the motel. For now, though, the bleeding just needs to stop.


Taking hold of the sleeve of his already sliced and ruined shirt, Sam rips it free at the seams. Sam’s so much larger than his brother that the sleeve is the perfect length to fold and tie around Dean’s head. Just a little pressure on it will stem the flow. Sam shivers as a cool breeze slides through the trees, striking his bare arm. “How bad is it?”


Sam shakes his head. “Not bad. You might have a concussion, though. So we’ve got to get you back to the motel.”


Dean nods and the knot Sam just made with the shirt sleeve rubs against the trunk and loosens. Sam tightens it as much as he dares. Then he turns, breath catching, directing a sneeze over his shoulder. “hehhhh… ehkkk… ERTchooo!


“Bless you,” Dean says. He speaks slowly, which is not a particularly good sign. “Sammy… wanna go now.”


“Yeah,” Sam agrees. “I do too. Hold tight. I’ll get you up.” Dean holds on tight. In fact, he grabs hold and clings to Sam as Sam stands up. It takes both of them and a tree to get them standing, but once they are, Sam considers it an amazing accomplishment. He goes through things in his mind. Find Dean. Walk to the car. Drive to the motel. Fix Dean up. Crash. He counts them off on his fingers, feeling dizzy now that he’s on his feet again. He’s done one. One thing. One out of six, no, five. The other things shouldn’t be too hard.


He takes a step, his arm around Dean’s middle to pull him along. Dean cries out in pain and funny silver spots flash in front Sam’s eyes. That can’t be good. Before he’s gone a yard, he realizes he’s falling. He’s just aware enough to turn and keep hold of Dean. His back breaks the fall. But Dean falls on him instead of the ground. Sam might feel like shit, but he can take it; Dean’s head and leg can’t.  It knocks the air out of Sam, though, and when he gets it back he coughs and coughs and turns his head, just in case the cough decides to be productive, not wanting to cough in right Dean’s face. When he turns back, Dean’s looking down at him. “We’re on the ground again.”


Sam closed his eyes for a second. “Yeah. I know that.” Dean can’t walk. He can barely hobble with support. And it’s obvious Sam can’t support his weight. But Sam’s got to get him back to the motel somehow.


Dean’s body goes limp, heavy, and Sam suddenly worries that the fall did more damage, that Dean’s been knocked out. But then Dean nuzzles his face into Sam’s chest. “Mmmm. Sleepy.”


It’s actually not that bad, lying there on the forest floor, a bed of leaves and ferns with Dean on top of him to keep him warm. “Yeah,” he agrees. His arms are wrapped around Dean, and he hugs him closer and closes his eyes. “Wait… no.” Sam forces his eyes back open. Dean. Concussion. Blood loss. “No, no. Not sleepy.”


Dean shakes his head, nuzzling more. “Am… sleepy,” he argues, sounding like he could drift off any second.


“No you’re not. You’re concussed, Dean. You can’t sleep yet.”


Dean doesn’t open his eyes, but he doesn’t fall right to sleep either. “I’ve had concussions before…” he says, thoughtfully. “Felt a lot like this.”


Crap. “Right.” He grips Dean’s shoulder. “Dude, we’ve got to go. You’ve got to sit up. Or… I’ll sneeze on you.”


Dean lifts his head and blinks sleepily at Sam. “Don’t want to catch your cold.”


“Right. Then c’mon. Up.” Somehow he manages to get Dean sitting up on the ground, back to a tree again, and to get out from under the man at the same time. He looks around, considering his options. He can’t help Dean along. He certainly can’t carry Dean. There’s only one option left. “Okay. I’ve got to make something to carry you with. Gonna have to go back to the cabin.”


Dean yawns and closes his eyes. “Wait here… for you…”


Sam turns his head again, his whole body jerking with a strong sneeze. “hehhh-SHAHH!” He rubs his nose and realizes his brother’s starting to fall asleep again. No. No.” Sam punches Dean in the arm. It’s a soft punch, but the man’s eyes widen in surprise. “Stay awake, Dean. You can’t die on me here. You’ve got to stay awake like a good big brother. Can’t look after me if you’re dead, can you? So be good and stay awake. Understand?”


Dean nods. “I’m a good big brother.”


“Yes, you are. Now stay put and stay awake.” Sam goes as fast as he can, for Dean’s sake. He figures he’s got about five minutes before Dean falls asleep or passes out from the pain in his leg when he tries to move it to come after Sam. Sam moves in what could technically be a run but resembles more of a haphazard set of stumbling sprints from tree to tree. His breaths are wheezing gasps which squeak and rattle, but he doesn’t care. The cabin’s up ahead. There’s a sled there for carrying firewood; he saw it earlier when he grabbed the axe from the chopping block. There’s rope and probably a tarp or blanket in the tool shed. He can do this.


His nose is streaming throat on fire when he gets back to Dean. He shakes the man awake, and Dean is unresponsive for one terrible second. Then he comes to, blinking in confusion. “I’b goig to get you out of here,” Sam tells him. Then Sam turns his head as a viciously wet “ehhhhttschhhhhikkkkkk!” escapes. He rubs at his nose, and even that doesn’t help this time. “heptTSHHH! AHKTShhhhhh! Heh-ERKShhhhh!


Then Dean understands, nods. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out his bandana. “Bless you.”


Sam stares at it a moment. “You had this the whole tibe add let be rib by shirt?”


Dean’s head bobs again in a nod. “You need it for your sneezes. You have a bad cold.”


Sam takes the bandana and snuffles into it, rubbing his cold, dripping nose into the soft, dry cloth. It feels so good he could almost consider skipping the tissues when they get back to the motel and sticking with this. But another sneeze springs up and “Hitchmmmmph!” the bandana’s getting damp already. Sam folds it and rubs at his nostrils with a dry portion. He clears his throat. “I’m going to rig something up and drag you back to the car on it. And you’re going to stay awake, Dean. Got it?”


Dean nods and immediately closes his eyes.


“Count my sneezes, Dean. Like you used to do when we were kids to annoy the hell out of me. Anything. I don’t know.  Tell me how much worse my cold’s getting. It was just two sneezes an hour before we left to track these things down and I barely had a fever then. Remember?”


“Shouldn’t have come looking for the Haptets. You’re sick, Sammy.” His eyes are still closed.


“Then that family would have been killed. We… we… ih… heh-heh-EHPTSHHH!” He forgets he has the bandana, until Dean reaches out, takes his hand, and guides it up to his nose.


“One.” Dean says softly, eyes open, a determined expression in them.


Sam is overcome with relief.