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Mar. 3rd, 2011

Title: The Better Medicine

Pairing: Dean/Castiel pre-slash

Rating: PG-13 (language)

Warnings: none

Spoilers: none

Word Count: 2200

Notes: This was written for deancastiel 's Everlasting Birthday Challenge for talli_approved.

I only had a day to write this, so if it feels rushed, the reason is that is was rushed. Ironically, it turned out that I had to take care of my own flu patient today, more specifically a cranky five-year-old, so yeah... :-) talli_approved, Happy Birthday and I hope this is what you were looking for!

Prompt: Dean gets sick and Castiel awkwardly takes care of him—he gets the hang of it in the end and they realize some feelings for each other.

Summary: Dean hates being sick; even more he hates people hovering and trying to take care of him. At least, he thought he did…

Dean glares at Sam. Sam glares back. Dean is the one to look away first only because his head hurts too fucking much. The car is parked in front of a motel twenty miles from the town where the hunt is, and Dean honestly regrets letting Sam drive.

“I’m coming with you, and that’s it. Stop fussing over me, it’s just a cold.”

The two-minute coughing fit that follows only makes Sam smirk, the little shit.

“Yes, Dean, come with me and scare the monsters with your germs. I’m sure they will run for the hills screaming. You’re sick, you need to lie down, and I can manage on my own.”

Dean‘s not one to back down easily, but this time he has to admit that his brother is right. He feels like shit and he’s not really fit to hunt.

“All right, mother-hen, get me a room, I’ll grab my bag.”

Fifteen minutes later he crawls into a bed and damn if it isn’t the best feeling ever. Every muscle in his body aches and his head weighs a ton. Sam is starting to look kind of worried and Dean manages to snort weakly, “Run along, Sammy. I’m a big boy, I’ll survive.”

“All right, just stay put. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Dean wakes up from the soft flutter of wings and groans.

“Not now, Cas. I’m sick.”

“I know. Sam asked me to check on you.” Cas is standing at the foot of the bed, examining him curiously. Before Dean can protest, Cas lays a hand on his forehead and frowns. “You’re hot.”

Dean feels the urge to answer with something completely inappropriate, but he’s too weak and his throat is so dry that talking kind of hurts. He just wants to be left alone to his misery.

Suddenly, a glass of water appears before his eyes. He grabs it thankfully and downs it in one gulp, soothing his parched throat.

“Thanks, Cas,” he said gruffly. “You can tell Sam I’m fine.” He tries to stifle a cough, but it sound even scarier when muffled into a pillow. Cas’ frown deepens.

“You don’t sound fine. Is there anything I can do to help?”

Dean is about to refuse, but he could use some meds and he’s in no state to roam the streets; he grabs a piece of paper and a pen from his bag and writes down a short list. He hands it to Cas together with a couple of bills.

“Here. I think I saw a pharmacy down the road, go and get me these.”

Castiel still feel uncomfortable around humans who aren’t Sam, Dean or Bobby. Still he walks the few blocks until he sees the pharmacy and hands Dean’s list to the woman behind the counter. She reads through it and whistles.

“Wow, someone has a nasty cold, or the flu.”

Castiel nods.

“My friend,” he says, humoring the inexplicable human habit for small talk. “He says he is fine, but he coughs a lot. He won’t let me help.”

The woman rolls her eyes and hands him a small bag.

“Men are terrible when they are sick, no offence. There isn’t really much you can do, except keep him warm and have him drink lots of fluids, maybe some warm chicken soup. If the fever continues for more than three days, make him see a doctor.”

Castiel thanks her politely and walks back to the motel. He hesitates in front of a grocery store, checks the remaining bills in his pocket, and ducks inside to acquire chicken soup.

Dean feels pleasantly drowsy from the fever and the cough syrup, but still he wonders why Cas it still there. The angel is doing something in the small kitchenette, opening cupboards and muttering under his breath. Soon he comes back carrying… a steaming bowl?

“The woman at the pharmacy said you should have chicken soup.” Cas hands the bowl to Dean, who is still gaping in surprise. He sits up and takes it carefully; he doesn’t feel very hungry, but Cas looks at him expectantly. It’s been a long time since someone gave him soup when he was sick, the last person to do it was probably his mom; the least he can do is show some appreciation.

“Thanks, Cas. Chicken soup sounds awesome.” He digs in, and while he can’t really taste much because of the gunk in his sinuses, the soup is warm and filling. He hands the empty bowl to Cas and crawls out of bed to use the bathroom. His muscles and joints protest with every movement, but he manages to drag his sorry carcass back to the bed. Cas is still hovering awkwardly and looks one step away from fluffing his pillow and tucking him in. If it was Sam, Dean would have torn him a new one, but he can’t bring himself to yell at Cas. The poor dude is just trying to help, and it’s not his fault that Dean is too used to taking care of himself. So Dean only grabs the remote and grumbles, “If you’re going to stick around, at least sit down.”

Cas perches on the chair next to the bed and Dean turns on the TV. Flipping through the channels without real hope to find anything worth watching, he stumbles upon a Star Wars marathon.

“Now Cas, you will understand the magic of the movies.” Cas looks dubious in the beginning, but soon he is engrossed in the film and asking lots of questions. Dean is happy to explain everything, especially why he is Han Solo and Sam is Chewbacca. And the Impala is The Millennium Falcon, of course.

An hour into the movie, Dean can feel his fever spiking again despite the ibuprofen. His head feels fuzzy and his responses to Cas get more sluggish, interspersed with the chattering of his teeth. He shivers and tries to burrow deeper under the covers, but the flimsy motel blanket isn’t nearly thick enough. Cas doesn’t notice at first, focused on the TV, but after one of his questions goes unanswered, he looks at Dean and frowns.

“Are you feeling unwell again? Do you need more medication?”

Dean manages to mumble, “ ‘S just a fever, ‘m cold.”

Cas touches his face again, tilting his head in confusion.

“You aren’t cold, you are too warm.”

“It’s how fever works, Cas. Don’t worry, it will pass. I could do with another blanket, though.”

Cas concentrates and Dean expects him to zap off, but the angel remains in the room, his face twisting into frustration.

“I don’t have enough strength to fly.”

Dean is about to point out that Castiel flew in when he arrived first, when he realizes that probably that flight exhausted all of his mojo. He knows how long it takes for Cas to recharge it these days, and a warm feeling settles in his chest. Yeah, it was foolish of Cas to use up all his reserves just to play nursemaid for Dean; still, it feels nice.

“Don’t worry, Cas, I’ll be fine. Sit tight and watch the movie; I’ll try to sleep it off.”

Dean turns his back to Cas and the TV and wraps the covers tightly around himself. He’s still shivering and his muscles ache like hell, but it’s nice knowing that he isn’t alone in the room; Cas is there for him. Dean winces at the sappy thoughts, but decides that they can be attributed to fever-induced delirium.

Fifteen minutes later, he still can’t sleep. His jaw hurts from trying to keep his teeth from chattering and he can hear Cas shifting restlessly behind him. Then there is the rustle of fabric and suddenly the bed dips. Dean twists around startled and is met by Cas’ intense eyes just inches from his own.

“What are you doing?”

“Keeping you warm.” Cas has removed his ever-present trench coat and his suit jacket, and before Dean can protest, he slips under the covers.

“Dude! What the hell?” Dean tries to sound indignant, but the presence of another warm body in the bed feels too nice.

Cas huffs in exasperation and pulls him close.

“I am trying to alleviate your discomfort and help you rest. Right now I don’t care about personal space.”

Dean is trying to think of all the reasons why snuggling in bed with an angel of the Lord in a male vessel is not a good idea, but his traitorous body is relaxing and the shivering has almost stopped. It’s not like Cas is trying to cop a feel or something; his arm is loosely slung across Dean’s body and he keeps in there, its weight strangely comforting. Dean is tired, everything hurts and he can feel his eyelids drooping. So he tells his inner alpha-male voice to fuck off, snuggles even closer to Cas, and finally drifts off.

In the morning, Dean wakes up to an empty bed, clear head, and clammy wet sheets. Apparently he sweated like a race horse during the night and his fever has broken, but he feels gross. He gets up from the bed too quickly and his vision swims; he can feel his knees buckle when a strong arm catches him. Apparently, Cas hasn’t left.

“Dean, do try to be more careful!”

Dean grunts and wills his legs to cooperate.

“I need a shower now, Cas, I will crawl to the bathroom if I have to!”

Cas lets him go slowly and narrows his eyes.

“Very well. But if you fall again, I will carry you.”

Dean blanches at the subtle threat and very carefully makes his way to the bathroom. Snuggling while sick and feverish is tolerable, but if Cas has to carry him, he can officially buy a dress and call himself Deanna.

His shower doesn’t last long because he still feels weak and he doesn’t want to pass out and bash his skull against the toilet or something. After he washes off the sweat and brushes his teeth he feels almost human. He still can’t breathe properly through his nose and his joints still complain, but he knows he’ll be fine in a day or two.

Dean exits the bathroom with a towel around his waist and pulls out some clean clothes from his bag. Cas is sitting on the chair, pointedly facing in the other direction, for which Dean is grateful. He can still feel the weight of Cas’ arm and the warmth of Cas’ breath on his neck, and it’s playing havoc with his brain in the cold light of day. Last night he had felt good with Cas behind him, he had felt safe, and that thought? Kind of scary.

When he finishes dressing he clears his throat and Cas turns around. His eyes are serene and Dean finds himself staring, looking for some indication that Cas is affected by the whole snuggle-fest as well.

“I can see you are feeling better.”

“Um, yes. I’ll be good as new in a couple of days.”

Cas nods and stands up.

“Very well. I will be going now.”

Dean surges forward and grabs Cas’ sleeve.

“Whoa, whoa, where’s the fire? Anything happen while I was asleep?”

Cas looks down, suddenly fidgeting.

“Nothing happened. I have rested and I am strong enough to fly. You are feeling better now, so I can go.”

Dean is confused. Why is the angel in such a hurry if there isn’t an emergency?

“Come on, stay for breakfast. You brought me chicken soup yesterday; I can at least return the favor with some pancakes.”

Cas shakes his head.

“There is no favor to return, Dean. I was happy to take care of you. I thought you would be uncomfortable around me after last night, so I thought I would better leave immediately.”

Dean sighs at the forlorn look in Cas’ eyes and feels like a complete dick. He lays a hand on Cas’ shoulder and squeezes lightly.

“Look, you did a very nice thing for me yesterday, and I thank you. The pills, the soup, keeping me company… you didn’t have to. I know I acted like a jerk last night, and I’m sorry. You did make me feel better.”

Cas lights up and the corners of his mouth twitch in an almost-smile.

“I am glad I could help, Dean. I don’t like seeing you suffer.”

Dean snorts. “It was sick, Cas, I wasn’t dying. It’s happened before and usually I can take care of it myself.”

Cas lifts his arm and mirrors Dean, placing a hand over his shoulder, directly on the handprint hidden under his shirt.

“You shouldn’t have to,” he says quietly and Dean feels that warm feeling from last night pool into his chest. Yeah, it’s a chick-flick moment of the highest proportions, and he can’t blame this one on alcohol or fever. Still, he doesn’t really want to. He clears his throat and steps back.

“I’m still buying you pancakes. Let’s go.”

Cas follows obediently, that almost-smile still playing on his lips. Dean is pretty sure that he’s wearing its twin on his own face.



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