It was hot.
He was burning alive, burning up like Mom and Jess and all those other women they hadn't saved from a demon with yellow eyes.
He was not happy to be in that select little circle. And not just because he didn't want to die.
He wasn't a fucking chick for fuck's sake.
Plus, if he died, who would take care of Sammy?
He blinked open his eyes, repeating the motion when sweat ran into them.
A big white, roughly textured strip of something came into view; he blinked and it focused into a wet washcloth.
And then it was wiping over his face.
Dean's eyes closed again and a low groan escaped his dry, cracked lips. Damn that felt good. Like ice water on his burning skin, but good.
“Dean, please open your eyes.”
Dean's brow furrowed because that was wrong and weird. The voice had been a meld of two, a man's voice, deep and calm and gentle and soothing, making his firm request with the understanding that fulfillment would not be easy; and that of a small child, high and thin and scared, so fucking scared, not understanding a damn thing about why his big brother was laying there and wouldn't do what he asked, ignorant—innocent—of the high price he demanded of his hero.
Dean paid the difficult price—gladly, willingly—and opened his eyes again.
Whatever had affected his ears was fucking with his eyes as well.
Because there was that same double layer effect going on.
Sam's face, strong lines and broad planes and sharp angles, tough and sure and chiseled by time into a man's visage, a face that had stared down evil and made evil flinch, was being superimposed upon by an image that was just as familiar: Sammy's soft, chubby cheeks in a round face, no hint of the way life would someday change that sweet innocent boy into that hardened warrior.
The one part that remained true to both were the shiny hazel eyes filled with fear and the tear tracks sliding down over those disparate cheeks.
It might have been directed at the younger face, but in truth Sam would never really outgrow that name, that reminder of what Dean had to protect, no matter how much Sam's face would tell the outside world that he was an adult capable of taking care of himself. He would always be Dean's baby brother, his precious charge, his little Sammy.
And if Sammy was crying and scared, then Dean had a job to do.
He tried to push up, to get out of the stinking, overheated mire that his sweat soaked bed-clothes had become, but Sam's hand—big and lean and strong and also small and fat and soft—pressed to his chest, over his heart, and Dean stayed down.
“Don't get up. You need to take these and then you can sleep again.”
Two pills—well, four between the two hands—were held out and Dean opened his mouth obediently so they could be put inside. He swallowed them down, grimacing at the sharp feel and gritty, bitter taste. A moment later water—ice cold like the stuff on the washcloth had been—was presented in a cup pressed to his lips and he tilted his head forward and greedily gulped it down, relishing the frozen path it chilled down his throat and into his stomach.
When it was empty he grunted and tried to lick the drops from the lip of the cup.
“More,” he panted when it was pulled away.
Sammy disappeared, footsteps—both big and far apart and small and in quick succession—filled his ears as he stared at the ceiling.
He thought for a moment that was wrong and that it should be the floor, but then Sam was back, the double vision making Dean's stomach roll just a little, even as he tried to reach for the cup.
Sam ignored his hand and put the cup to his lips again, washing more blessed ice water down the fiery inferno of his throat.
When it was gone he wanted more, but apparently ice cold water and boiling hot stomach acid did not make a good combination. He did his best to quell the urge to bring the water back up, gripping the sheets and feeling the sweat he wrung out of them leak between his fingers.
Sam was sitting on the edge of the bed again, looking worried and scared again and Dean let the sheets go, futilely wiping his hands on the damp cotton and then he managed to work his own hand up and onto his chest, sliding over to cover Sam's where it had covered his heart again, wrapping it up tight and giving it a weak squeeze.
“S'gonna be okay, Sammy. Gonna be okay. M'fine, little brother. M'fine.”
Sam's faces scrunched up, the older in a frown, the younger in the precursor to bawling his eyes out.
Actually, they looked pretty much the same.
Then he sniffed and tried to smile and said, “Just get better, Dean. I need you, big brother. Just sleep now and feel better when you wake up.”
Dean wanted to resist. He was the big brother and that meant that he didn't take the orders, he gave them.
But then the words were repeated one more time and he realized, it wasn't an order, it was a plea. From a little brother to a big one.
Well, okay, yeah. He'd give Sammy anything he asked for. Anything at all.
Sam needed him to get better so Dean could take care of his little brother and to do that he needed to rest.
So he closed his eyes and let himself drift back into the oblivion of sleep.
Not mine. For Phoebe. (Sorry it's not exhausted!Dean. I tried, but this happened instead. *shrugs* We'll see about next time. :D)
Also, unbeataed. Because I'm an impatient ass like that.