Title: Endurance Of The Human Kind
Category: Altered-Reality, Angel-Turned-Human, Angst, Drama, Hurt/Comfort & Romance
Characters/Pairing: Dean/Cas & Sam
Warnings: Medical Content & Talk of Sexual Situations
Summary: Cas is human and sick and Dean just wishes there was something he could kill to make this better. But there isn’t.
Word Count: 15,482 words.
Date Written: Nov. 2012 - Feb. 2016
Disclaimer: Supernatural and characters do not belong to me. This story does. For fun, not profit.
Feedback: Bring it. dodger_sister / TheArtofDodger@comcast.net
Beta’d: Yes, by the my supreme godsend, vikingprincess!
Author's Notes: Oh man, this was an epic in the making. Written when lizibabes had to go in for yucky medical stuff, intended to be like 3-5k. Then put aside, picked back up for her birthday, put aside, picked back up for the next birthday, beta’d, put aside, edited, finally, finally, over 15k and 3+ years later and it’s done. In truth, it was probably more cathartic for me to write this hospital-patient-based fic than it even will be for lizibabes to read it. If you want to know my opinion on hospitals and their staff, this fic kind of sums up all the good and bad experiences I have had in an emergency room, let me tell you.
Dedication: This has been 3+ years and several thousand words in the making, but lizibabes, for every medical test, sickness, hospital stay and birthday for the last three years, this one’s for you!
“I hate this,” Castiel says, half into his pillow, head turned to look at Dean.
Dean is sitting in the chair next to Cas’ hospital bed in the hospital room they had been left in over an hour ago, though it’s not so much a hospital bed as it is a stretcher and it’s not so much a room as it is a curtained-off area. Dean can hear the guy in the section next to them snoring and the lady on the other side bitching out her kid for being stupid enough to try to jump from one balcony to another and breaking his arm in the process.
“I want to go back to the motel,” Cas says and looks at Dean pathetically with those big blue eyes that make Dean fold every time. Just like Sammy’s puppy dog eyes, they always do the trick.
“You mean back to the motel room that is covered in your vomit?” Dean asks him and wipes a hand across Cas’ forehead. He honestly can’t believe Castiel is coherent enough to whine, with his fever being as high as it is.
“Ugh, my head hurts,” Cas says and flops one hand around at Dean, while using the other hand to tug ineffectually at his hospital gown, which looks as uncomfortable as it does ugly. “I don’t want to be human anymore. I take it back.”
“I didn’t know you could be such a pussy, Cas,” Dean says teasingly, even though the truth is Castiel has every right to complain. He’d thrown up five times in as many hours, until he was dry-heaving everywhere and his fever was so high that Dean had been able to feel the heat radiating off Cas without really being all that close to him, let alone even touching him.
Dean feels kind of bad because he had left Cas alone in the motel while he and Sam went on a hunt. Castiel had been complaining that his stomach hurt and he had a headache, but Dean hadn’t thought anything of it. Cas had only been 100% human for about five months now and he still complained every time he got so much as a hangnail. Angels might rule the roost on a lot of things, but humans held the record for endurance of pain. And Cas just had to get used to it all.
Dean had gotten back to the motel room he was sharing with Castiel - the Winchesters had started getting more than one room about two months ago when Sam had walked in on Dean and Cas in a very compromising and very naked position - with the hopes that Cas was done bitching now and maybe there could be some sexy times in Dean’s near future.
Instead he had found Castiel on the floor in the bathroom, curled up in a ball, clutching a towel to his chest.
“I threw up in the bed,” he’d said pitifully when Dean crouched down next to him.
“Damn, Cas, I didn’t know you were really sick.”
Dean had stripped the bed and then helped Cas stand on shaky legs. There were no clean blankets and Cas was shivering and Dean finally just hoisted Castiel into his arms and carried him down the hall to Sam’s room.
“I don’t want to sleep in the puke room!” Sam had protested and Dean just scowled at him.
“Go get housekeeping in there. I have to get him under the covers,” Dean had said and pushed his way past Sam to the bed.
Dean remembered when Sam was seven and he had gotten food poisoning and he couldn’t stop throwing up. Dean wasn’t sure what to do when Sam had kept vomiting and nothing was coming out and he was crying to Dean that his stomach was tearing open. Dean had finally gone and gotten the desk clerk - an older woman with a bad habit of using too many breath mints - and asked her what to do.
“Is he dehydrated?” she’d asked and when Dean just stared at her, she sighed in exasperation and followed him to his room. Then she’d shown him how to pinch Sam’s skin and see how long it took for the skin to go back to being right. Sammy had looked scared the whole time and when the woman said, “Yep, he’s dehydrated alright. You got to take him to the emergency room,” Sam had burst into tears.
Thankfully, they’d only been five hours from Pastor Jim’s. Dean had made the call and then rubbed Sammy’s back until he heard the knock on the door, four hours later.
So when Cas had started dry-heaving and throwing back up every little bit of water Dean managed to get in him, Dean just pinched Cas’ skin, watched it stay that way for far too long, and then promised Cas everything was going to be okay.
Except now they are sitting in a curtained-off area of the emergency room and no one is coming to help and Cas is still shivering, his eyes devoid of their usual brightness and his skin pale enough to pass for one of those movie-vampires that always pisses Dean off so much.
“I’m gonna go find out where Sam is with that coffee,” he tells Cas suddenly, because the urge to draw his gun and make someone help his friend is getting overwhelming.
“Don’t leave me,” Cas says pitifully and reaches out a hand for Dean.
His skin feels like it’s on fire.
“I’m coming right back,” Dean tells him and curls their fingers together for a moment. “You didn’t leave me in Hell. I’m not going to leave you in an emergency room in New Jersey.”
“It’s just…” and Dean thinks Cas might be blushing, but he can’t tell because the other man’s cheeks are already lit up with fever. “It’s just that the man next to us seemed to be in pain with whatever they were doing to him and I…I don’t want to be alone if they come in here.”
“Cas,” Dean says in mild surprise, “are you scared of doctors?”
“I don’t know,” Castiel tells him. “I’ve never been to one before.”
Dean starts for a minute because even though he knows this, it still takes him off-guard, makes him remember that Cas has so many things about being human left to discover and not all of them will be good.
“Okay,” Dean says and takes his hand from Castiel’s own. “I’ll just be right outside. Two minutes, I promise.”
Castiel closes his eyes and doesn’t answer, so Dean slips out past the curtain.
He finds Sam down the hall at the nurse’s station, two cups of coffee in hand, leaning over the nurse’s desk, head slightly bowed, and Dean takes a minute to realize his baby brother is flirting. Normally this would make Dean ecstatic - the kid does not get nearly enough play - except that Cas is in agony and it’s awful to watch and Sam is just out here getting his jollies off.
“Ummhmm,” Dean says, while simultaneously clearing his throat.
Sam looks up, all bright eyes and smiles, and says, “Dean! Good. This is Amanda,” and he gestures at the nurse - a tiny little redhead who looks damn good even in the unflattering neon yellow scrubs she is wearing. “I was just telling her how sick Cas has been and she’s going to get someone down here to start an IV on him right away.”
Dean’s rigid posture slumps a little and he thinks he could probably kiss Sam - except that would be awkward - because it turns out his awesome little brother was just using his dimples on this chick all for Cas’ benefit. Dean is extremely grateful and decides if Sam does sneak off later to have sex with the hot nurse in an exam room or something, Dean won’t hold it against him.
Not that that’s really Sam’s style. He probably wants to woo her first.
“We’ll get some fluids in your friend,” the nurse, Amanda, says, “and that’ll help him feel better. Maybe a sedative too, so he can get some proper sleep. It’s impossible around here at this hour, what with all the drunks.”
“Amanda,” Dean says and flashes her his best smile, “you are an angel, sweetheart.”
Amanda flushes pink and then looks at Sam and says, “It was nice to meet you, Sam.”
She scurries off before Sam can reply and Dean waits patiently for his brother to look his way, before he punches him in the arm, slopping a little coffee over the rim of one of the cups, and says, “Way to go there, Sammy. She’s a cutie.”
“I wasn’t….god, Dean, does your brain ever go anywhere else?”
Dean just takes the second coffee cup and slurps down a satisfied gulp before answering, “Not really. Nope,” and winking at Sam.
“Stop being a pig,” Sam tells him. “How is Cas doing?”
“He won’t stop whining. It’s kind of pathetic.”
“Whatever,” Sam scoffs. “You have no room to talk. You are the biggest baby when you get sick.”
“I am hardcore about everything,” Dean replies, indignant.
“Yeah, sure, you can take a bullet, a claw tearing you open, a couple of broken ribs like nobody’s business. But vomiting? You cry like a girl.”
“That statement is gender racist against women,” Dean grumbles into his coffee cup and refuses to look up when Sam starts laughing at him.
“Let’s go check on your boyfriend,” Sam says then and Dean jerks his head up.
“What? He’s not my boyfriend.”
Sam raises an eyebrow. “Oh, sure. I mean, you only sleep in the same bed as him every night and do…things…like, things and eat off each other’s plates and let him pick the music in the car and wear your clothes and you hold hands in the front seat when you think I am asleep, but whatever…he’s totally not your boyfriend. You’re just that gay with everyone.”
“I hate you,” Dean mutters and walks away.
He slips back into the curtained-off area and finds Cas staring anxiously at his oxygen monitor.
“You okay there, Cas?” Dean asks and Castiel looks at him with a furrowed brow.
“This measures my oxygen, is that correct?” he asks Dean, though Sam - standing just over Dean’s shoulder - is the one who answers him.
“That’s right, Cas.”
“It’s not at a hundred percent. Shouldn’t it be? Am I not breathing properly? I am not that practiced at it yet.”
“You don’t practice at breathing,” Dean tells him, unsure if Cas is getting delirious with fever or if he is just being Cas about this like he is everything else.
“Your oxygen is fine,” Sam tells him. “Ninety five percent is totally normal.”
Cas licks his dry lips and Dean goes back over to the bedside table and picks up the cup of ice chips there. Water had seemed like a bad idea, but Sam had suggested ice chips and Cas seemed grateful for something to suck on. Honestly - though Dean would probably never tell him this - the truth is he doesn’t know what he would do if Sam wasn’t here. Dean feels like he can’t think straight, worry and anxiousness and Castiel’s whining all blending together inside him.
Dean can stitch anybody up and give them a shot of whiskey, but having to sit by and watch people he cares about suffer and having nothing to do for it but wait it out - that’s never been Dean’s strong suit.
He is rubbing a piece of ice across Castiel’s forehead while Sam tries to figure out if this bed-stretcher thing has adjustments on it, when the lab technician comes in the room, her little equipment carrying case banging against her hip.
“Hi, how you doing there, honey?” she asks and Dean wants to point out that it is stupid to ask someone who is sick enough to come to the emergency room at two in the morning ‘how they are doing’, but she never pauses long enough for him to get the words out. “My name is Missy and I’ll be getting an IV started on you.”
She sets her case down on the bedside table and Castiel’s eyes go wide when he sees the needles. His hand flies out and grabs a hold of Dean’s arm, then slips down until their fingers are tangled together.
Dean feels his whole face go red because the truth is, they’ve never been very public about whatever this is between them and even though Dean isn’t embarrassed by Cas, he can’t help that he doesn’t want to share this thing with the whole world. It’s his and it’s Cas’ and Dean doesn’t want it to be anyone else’s just yet.
He swallows all that down though and doesn’t let go.
Sam excuses himself to give the lab tech more room to work, as she goes about setting up her supplies. Cas starts shaking and Dean squeezes his hand tighter.
“You nervous, Cas?” he asks and leans in closer, puts his free hand - the one not currently gripping Castiel’s own - on the other man’s cheek, feels the heat there.
“Not nervous,” Cas tells him, though Dean thinks it is at least a partial lie. “Can’t stop shaking.”
“Chills,” Dean tells him and pulls the blanket up higher, tucks it under Castiel’s chin. Cas had some terrible chills earlier in the backseat of the Impala, on the way to the hospital, and Dean had covered him with a comforter he stole from the motel bed, but it hadn’t made any more of a difference then than the hospital blanket is now.
“I’m going to need an arm,” the lab tech says and yanks the blanket back down again.
Dean scowls at her and tells Castiel, “Just the one arm though. I’ll cover the rest of you back up.”
Cas is shaking pretty hard now, but he holds out his arm for her. She swabs him down with an alcohol rub and then flicks at his arm, looking for a vein. Cas is making little gasping noises and licking his lips, so Dean lets go of his hand and gets him another ice chip, rubs it along Cas’ bottom lip.
“I am sorry I am being such a pussy,” Cas says and Deans shakes his head.
“No, man, no. You’re not a pussy. I didn’t mean it like that.”
“How did you mean it then?” Cas asks, but he doesn’t sound accusatory, just tired.
“It’s like…it’s like how I call Sam a girl all the time,” he explains and then glances at the female lab technician and adds, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
She ignores him and the winning smile he flashes her and starts to tie the tourniquet around Cas’ arm.
“Oh. It’s affection?” Cas asks, but then winces and lets out sharp breath. “That is quite tight, Missy,” he tells the lab tech - and leave it to Cas to remember her name, even when he is this sick.
“Good,” Missy says without looking up. “That’s how it’s supposed to be.”
Cas looks like he has been drained of even more color, if that is possible, so Dean takes his hand and curls their fingers together again.
“Just look at me, Cas. It’ll be over in a second. Hang on.”
Cas is making a face like he is sucking on a Jolly Rancher, his mouth moving over and over again as if tasting something awful.
“I don’t feel well,” he says and Dean just brushes Cas’ bangs off his forehead.
“I know, buddy. I know,” he tells Cas.
“I hate being human,” Cas says.
“It’s not all bad, right?” Dean asks with a somewhat forced smirk. It’s hard to make banter when Cas looks so miserable. “There have to be some things you like about it?”
“I do enjoy chocolate,” Castiel tells him and Dean scoffs.
“Chocolate is not what I was talking about, Cas.”
“I know. But you are cute when you get all offended.”
Dean starts to protest that Castiel must not be as sick as he claims, if he can lay there and be a pain in Dean’s ass, but he never gets the chance. Instead, Cas lets out a strangled noise of pain and they both look over to see Missy has inserted the needle and is now moving it around under Cas’ skin.
“Hold on,” she says, “your veins keep rolling.”
She pulls the needle out almost all the way and then drives it back again.
Cas cries out.
“Do you always have this much trouble getting IVs?” Missy asks.
“I…never…” but Cas can’t get any more words out, so Dean answers for him.
“He’s never had an IV before.”
“Never?” she asks incredulous. “Well, you must be one healthy guy.”
“Dean,” Cas says, strangled and in pain.
“You need to stop for a second,” Deans tells Missy.
“Almost got it,” she replies.
Dean stands then, intends to make her stop, but Cas tugs at his hand and his attention.
“Dean,” he says again and pulls his hand away, waves it about in the air. “Help. I’m…I’m…”
It clicks in Dean’s mind just in time for him to grab the basin and shove it under Cas’ chin.
And then the former Angel-of-the-Lord is vomiting everywhere.
Honestly, Dean doesn’t know how there is anything left inside Cas, but he is starting to think that those ice chips were a bad idea.
It doesn’t last very long, seconds maybe, but it feels like forever to Dean, standing there holding the basin under Cas’ chin and watching the awful expression of pain on Cas’ face as he continues to retch.
As soon as the vomiting stops, the lab technician pulls the needle out of Castiel’s arm rather more abruptly than Dean thinks was necessary, and sighs. “I’ll have to try again some place else.”
Dean doesn’t like her and he doesn’t want her to touch Cas again.
She yanks the curtain back and hollers out, “I need a clean up in here.”
“Dean,” Castiel croaks and Dean looks down to see Cas has slumped back on the bed, his eyes fallen shut. “I can’t stay awake.”
“That’s okay, Cas,” Dean says. “You don’t have to. I’ll stay right here the whole time.”
“Boy Scouts honor,” Dean tells him.
“I don’t know what that means,” Cas says, barely audible.
“I promise, Cas. I’ll stay right here.”
Castiel says nothing more and Dean is actually relieved that he is finally sleeping. It’s the best thing for him. Anyone that says laughter is the best medicine never slept a good hard fourteen hours before.
Amanda, the nurse from the counter, comes in then and smiles fondly at Dean.
“I’m going to get a doctor in here immediately,” she tells him. “This many episodes in such a short time frame, they’ll want to do a few tests most likely.”
Dean must go as white as he feels because she reaches out to touch his arm. “It’ll be alright, sweetheart,” she tells him in a calming voice. “We’ll get your boyfriend all sorted out.”
Dean is too worked up and too exhausted and too damn worried to correct her assumption about him and Cas, so he just hands her the basin as carefully as he can, takes the wet-wipe she offers him, and says, “Thank you.”
As soon as she is gone, Missy the lab tech comes back in. Dean steels himself.
“You get one more vein, one more poke,” he tells her harshly. “Then I want your superior down here.”
“Some veins are just hard to get,” she tells him shortly.
“Then your best person should be on it, don’t you think?” He doesn’t even attempt to placate her with one of his charming smiles.
She gathers up her things and comes around to the other side of the bed, only indicating to Dean that he should move out of the way with a quick glare of dislike. All Dean can think is that the feeling is mutual.
He’s had IVs before, plenty, but he’s always been unconscious when they went in, so he doesn’t know if this is normal or not. If it is, then Dean finally understands why Pastor Jim made him wait in the hallway all those years ago, even though Sammy had been crying for him and their dad at once.
Missy ties the tourniquet again and goes back to work. Cas is asleep, but Dean takes his hand anyways.
As soon as she slides the needle in, Castiel’s eyes fly open.
“Dean,” he says anxiously and Dean just squeezes his hand.
“I’m right here, Cas. On your other side now, but still right here.”
Cas lets his eyes fall closed again and a second later, Missy declares that she has gotten the vein.
“No problem at all,” she says and Dean has to remind himself that he doesn’t hit women.
She tapes everything down and gathers up her things. She very pointedly doesn’t acknowledge Dean as she scurries out of the room.
It’s not even a minute later that Amanda comes in, IV bag in hand, and smiles at Dean. He’s moved his chair around so it is on the side of the stretcher, opposite where the IV will go, and is sitting there nervously jiggling his foot. He’s let go of Castiel’s hand, but he stays close, just in case Cas wakes up.
“Sam says you don’t do very well when someone has the flu,” she says conversationally, as she starts the IV drip.
Dean feels his face flush and he looks over at Castiel, sleeping peacefully beside him. “Don’t like it when I can’t do anything to help, you know.”
Amanda smiles. “You’d make a very good nurse. Ever thought about a career change?”
“God, no,” Dean groans out and briefly wonders if Sam has given her some fake career for the three of them. ‘Traveling sales rep’ is usually Sam’s go-to on that.
“That’s too bad,” Amanda tells him. “You seem like you have the natural instinct to take care of people.”
Dean jerks his head up to look at her, a little unnerved all of sudden, but she is still smiling at him and Dean is suddenly very, very grateful Cas pulled Amanda as his attending nurse.
“I’ll go tell your brother he can come back in now,” she says and leaves before Dean can say ‘thank you’.
When Sam comes back, more coffee in hand, Dean is half-asleep and sliding slightly out of the uncomfortable plastic chair.
“Wakey-wakey,” Sam says and shoves a cup at Dean, who takes it graciously. “If you wanna take a break or something, I can stay with Cas,” Sam tells him.
Dean does want to take a break, stretch his legs, get some air - he feels like he is suffocating in the small space, the sound of Cas’ heart monitor beeping away, the constant urge to check and make sure Cas is still breathing overwhelming Dean until he feels like he can’t breathe himself.
“Naw,” he tells Sam instead. “Told him I’d stay right here while he sleeps.”
Sam is looking at Dean with an odd expression and Dean finds himself squirming under the scrutiny.
“It’s okay if you love him, Dean,” Sam says suddenly and Dean balks.
“What?” he says and then quickly adds, “I know that. God, Sammy, stop being an idiot.”
“I’m just saying, he makes you happy.”
Dean feels his whole face go red again and he tries to conjure up something perverted to say about all the things Cas does do that make him happy, but all Dean can think is, ‘He always knows when what I need more than anything is just to have someone next to me.’
It’s an abrupt and startling thought and Dean loses his voice long enough that Sam decides to drop the whole conversation.
They both stay silent until the doctor comes in and then Sam excuses himself to give the man more room to work.
Dean finds he is suddenly anxious again.
The doctor - an older man in his fifties, with grey edges to his short hair and glasses perched on the end of his nose - introduces himself to Dean as ‘Dr. Langdon’ and then looks down sympathetically at Cas, still asleep, head poking out from the blanket Dean has tucked up under his chin.
“I hate to wake him…” the doctor starts and Dean cuts him off.
“Then don’t. I can answer his questions for you.”
The doctor glances over to where Dean is holding tight to Cas’ hand - just in case he wakes up startled and confused about where he is - and clears his throat. “Alright,” he says tentatively and Dean forces himself not to let go of Cas under the scrutiny. “When did this all start?”
It’s been hours now, but it feels like days to Dean and he has to try to count backwards to when Cas first told him he didn’t feel well, when Dean had dismissed him and told Cas to suck it up, this was just being human, after all.
“About fifteen hours ago,” Dean tells him, pushing down his own shame. “Maybe a little longer.”
“Vomiting?” the doctor asks, without looking up from the chart.
“Yeah. Like, a lot. Dehydrated. Fever. Chills. It’s the flu, right?”
“How high has his fever gotten?” the doctor asks and doesn’t acknowledge Dean’s question.
“Hmmm,” the doctor says then and jots something down in the chart.
“I’m sure it’s the flu, but he was so dehydrated and he couldn’t keep anything down and I just figured you guys could give him some fluids until he pushes through it,” Dean says, all in a rush, because he suddenly desperately needs this man to tell him it’s just the flu and that Cas’ll be fine.
Hunters spend a lot of time wondering which monster will do them in, if there will be enough of them left to bury and how long before someone finds them, laying there, curled around their own weapons. Most of the time they just hope whatever it is doesn’t eat them after they are gone.
But the few times, the rare occasions Dean has heard of it, that a hunter gets sick - like really sick, cancer or hepatitis or meningitis or some other ‘itis’ that ends with them going out in a white room covered over by white sheets and the beeping of the heart monitor slowing as the life is drained out them in the kind of death no hunter ever expects or deserves - well, it all sounds like the things of nightmares to Dean. And considering his line of work, that’s saying something.
“It probably is just the flu,” the doctor says, jerking Dean back to reality. “But we should do a few tests to be sure.”
“Any chance he has food poisoning?” Dean asks hopefully. He thinks about it, thinks about all the crap they put into their bodies from places that would never pass a health inspector’s visit and says, “Traveling a lot, eating out of the car, kind of a recipe for disaster, right?”
“Not likely with the fever,” the doctor says, without looking up from his chart. “Does he have any allergies?”
Dean thinks about the one time Cas had been sure he was allergic to strawberries, but it had just turned out to be a series of mosquito bites and how diligent Cas is these days about wearing bug spray.
“None that we know of,” Dean says and doesn’t notice that he is saying ‘we’ now, in regards to him and Cas.
“Up-to-date on his vaccines? Been exposed to anyone who’s been sick? Rashes, anything like that?”
“Uh,” Dean says and tries to think through each question. They’d been exposed to one person with a rash recently, but it was two weeks ago and had been from a hex bag in the victim’s apartment. “I don’t think he’s been around anyone who’s been sick. Mostly just me and my brother and we’re as fit as fiddles,” Dean says and flashes a grin at the doctor.
“Vaccines?” the doctor reiterates and Dean startles a little in his seat, because it had really never occurred to them to get Cas vaccinated when he became human and all.
“I don’t think he ever got any, to be honest,” Dean says somewhat sheepishly, feeling like he is falling down on the job with Cas and his new human existence.
The doctor raises an eyebrow at him and Dean has to think on his feet.
“He was raised Jehovah’s Witness or something. One of those ones that doesn’t believe in vaccines and doctors and stuff,” Dean says and adds, “He’s not now, though. Gave it up,” when the doctor gives him another raised eyebrow.
“Family history?” the doctor asks.
“He doesn’t know his family that well, but nothing that we know of.”
It might not be literally true, because Castiel spent thousands of years with his family, but it probably feels at least somewhat true, that Cas feels like he never really knew them at all.
“Okay, we’ll order some labs and go from there.”
Dean just nods his appreciation to the doctor and slumps back down in his chair.
He is suddenly exhausted, the adrenaline from the hunt earlier has completely seeped out of his system, and Dean eyes Cas and the bed with interest. He would love to curl up to next the man and drift off to sleep, but he is afraid of waking him. Instead, he waits for Sam to come back and decides to go in search of some food.
“Just…text me if he wakes up,” Dean tells his brother and Sam smiles at him in what is probably suppose to be a reassuring way, though Dean takes it as a smirk and scowls at Sam.
The cafeteria is closed at this hour of the night, so Dean wanders around for a bit, stretching his legs, trying to get the anxious jitters from his system and wake himself up with some, if not fresh, at least circulating air. On floor three he finds some vending machines and gets himself a Coke, a Twix bar and some baked potato chips. It’s not much in the way of dinner, but it’ll do.
Dean remembers once when he was fifteen and he’d gotten food poisoning. His dad had been about to go out on a hunt, but he’d stayed back to look after Dean. Dean remembers protesting, saying that John should go, he’d be fine, all of the usual things.
John had laughed, low and deep and said, “Say those things to me with your eyes open and I’ll go.”
Dean had been startled, because he’d thought his eyes </i>were</i> open, and before he could come up with another argument as to why his dad should go, he’d started throwing up again.
Nothing about food poisoning was nice or fun, but Dean remembers how happy he’d been that his dad had stayed. That his dad was there, wiping cool washcloths across his forehead and drawing a nice cool bath for Dean and reading quietly to himself from one of Bobby’s books on mythology, John’s low rumble rolling across Dean like water.
Dean suddenly wants to get back to Cas as quickly as possible.
He comes back to the ER with a Coke for Sam and two packages of cracker-and-cheese dip - the healthiest thing the vending machines had to offer - and finds the lab technician, Missy, back in Cas’ area. Dean shoves the food at Sam with a grunt and pushes his way past his brother to be at Cas’ side again in an instant.
Cas’ eyes are open and Dean turns on Sam and barks, “I told you to text me when he woke up.”
“He told me not to bother you,” Sam protests.
“I am right here, Dean. You do not need to talk about me like I am not,” Cas says in his uptight, disappointed way that makes Dean feel both ashamed and regretful at once.
“I wanted to be here when they drew your blood,” Dean tells him as way of an apology and then reaches out and takes Cas’ free hand, pointedly not looking to see Sam’s expression at the whole thing. Sam can just shut his mouth about it all until Cas is out of the hospital.
Missy has the needle in Cas’ arm, but no blood is coming out, and Dean scowls at her and says, “You couldn’t just draw from the IV line?”
“No, I could not,” she says and offers no other explanation. Clearly she doesn’t like Dean any more than he likes her.
She moves the needle just once and suddenly there is a slow, a very slow, trickle coming out of it, draining into the vial.
Cas closes his eyes and his grip on Dean’s hand weakens.
“You okay there, Cas?” Dean asks and tries to get Cas’ hand to squeeze back tighter.
“They gave me something,” he says and Dean looks to Sam for help, but his brother has excused himself from the room.
“What they’d give you?” Dean asks, but Cas’ eyes are falling shut and before Missy is even finished, Cas is asleep again.
“Something to help him relax,” Sam tells Dean, once he is back and Missy has, thankfully, left the room.
Sam hunches down in the small plastic chair to eat his food, while Dean perches on the edge of Cas’ gurney.
“I hate this,” Dean says, holding tight to Castiel’s hand.
“All of the good stuff about him being human, you’ve got to take it with the bad,” Sam tells him.
“Where’s an angel with healing powers when you need one?” Dean asks and give a half-hearted smile his brother’s way.
“Don’t think any of them would come heal Cas anyways. He’s not very popular up there these days.”
Dean slumps forward a little and lets out a breath that hurts his chest. “He gave up so much for us.”
“Not for us,” Sam says. “Cas loves me, but he didn’t do it for me, man.”
Dean feels like everything inside of him hurts and he can’t imagine how Cas feels right now and it is all too much to think that everything Cas suffers is on Dean’s shoulders.
“You should go,” he says abruptly. “You don’t have to stick around.”
“Dude, I’m not leaving you. If they don’t get on this fast enough, you’re liable to shoot someone.”
“I will not shoot anyone, Sammy,” Dean grumbles, though he really wants to, if only there was some monster in the hospital he could hunt and murder viciously, just to get his head back on straight. Maybe Missy is some sort of shapeshifter and he can stab her with her own needle. It’s a relaxing thought, at least.
“Uh-huh,” Sam answers then, around a mouthful of crackers.
“Seriously,” Dean tells him. “There is no point in both of us losing sleep.”
Sam shrugs. “I wanna stay until his blood results come back, at least. Make sure it really is just the flu. Won’t sleep without knowing.”
Dean thinks that is a lie, because Sam looks like he is about to fall over any minute, but he keeps his mouth shut and turns back to Cas. For the first time in many hours, Cas looks like he is sleeping peacefully. No fluttering eyelids or pained facial expressions and Dean takes a chance and gently slides the man over on the gurney, then lays down next to him.
He wants to turn towards him, sling an arm across Cas’ chest, press as close to him as he can get, but Sam is there and Dean can’t bring himself to do it under scrutiny. Instead, he lays with his back to Cas, making himself as small as he can on the edge of the stretcher, and closes his eyes.
“If you aren’t going to sleep, then I will,” he mutters and is out before Sam says anything in response.
He wakes to a hand on his arm, shaking him and saying his name, softly. Dean’s eyes flutter open to see Sam directly across from him, slumped awkwardly in the plastic chair, half falling out of it, sound asleep and unaware of the world at large. Dean looks over his shoulder to see Amanda, the wonderful favorite nurse of Dean’s dreams, shaking him and smiling down at all three of them. Cas is, thankfully, still asleep beside him.
“What? What happened?” Dean asks and pushes himself upright.
“Your whole little party here passed right out, is what happened,” Amanda tells him with a smile.
“I mean with Cas, is he okay?” and Dean has to reassure himself that no one has taken his friend away or stuck any more needles in his arm or otherwise harassed Cas while Dean was off-duty. Cas looks as peaceful as he did when Dean laid down though, so he relaxes a bit and turns to face Amanda.
“He’s fine,” she says. “I’m just changing the IV bag, but I wanted to let you know that the lab results are in and the doctor will be by shortly to discuss them with Castiel.”
“Oh,” Dean says and nods. “Okay. Already?” because that seems like fast turn-around to him, not that he is going to complain about it.
“Already?” Amanda says with a little laugh. “Honey, you’ve been asleep for two hours.”
Dean feels his chest tighten, because he is doing a piss poor job of taking care of Cas if he can sleep like that for two straight hours while the world goes on around him, but he smiles at Amanda anyways and says, “Okay then. Awesome.”
Amanda changes the IV bag, stops to look fondly at sleeping, hulking Sam in the tiny chair, and then leaves them in peace.
Dean rubs the sleep out of his eyes, takes a swig of the half-drunk and now-cold cup of coffee Sam has left on the bedside table, and turns to look at Cas. He hates to wake him, but if the doctor wants to talk lab results, Castiel should probably be awake for that. It is his body, after all, even if Dean occasionally likes to lay claim on it.
Dean tries not to smirk at where his own dirty thoughts go on that one, but he is largely unsuccessful in that endeavor.
“Cas,” he whispers and gently lays a hand on the side of Cas’ face, strokes over the stubble growing there now, hours since Cas has shaved last. “Cas, wake up, baby.”
Cas grunts in his sleep and Dean can see his eyelids fluttering, see Cas struggling up through the drug-induced fog.
Dean leans over and presses his mouth to Castiel’s - probably a terrible idea if Cas has something contagious - but it’s been too long since he last did this, too long since he felt Cas’ mouth against his own and Dean is only slightly jarred by how much he missed it, how much he needs it, needs this, whatever this is here between them.
Cas moves his lips then, dry and cracked and quite honestly kind of gross, against Dean’s own and Dean can feel when Cas’ eyelids flutter open, his lashes brushing against Dean’s face as he wakes.
“Hey there, Sleeping Beauty,” Dean says and smiles down at his friend. “You look like shit.”
“I suppose that fairy tale left out bed-head and sleep-eyes and this horrid taste that would have been in her mouth, didn’t it?” Cas says, his voice soft and raw with sleep.
“Guess they figured this look wasn’t glamorous enough for a princess.”
“Hhhmmm,” Cas hums and rolls slightly to his side, stretches like a cat and Dean wishes there weren’t so many covers on the man, obstructing Dean’s view of his limbs arching and rolling with the movement. “What time is it?” Cas asks and Dean checks his phone.
“Seven in the morning almost.”
Cas is looking at Sam, still slumped in the chair.
“He looks ridiculous,” Cas says and the crinkles around his eyes come out, make Dean want to kiss him again.
“He always looks ridiculous,” Dean says in response and Cas swats at him. “You seem like you feel better,” Dean says and reaches out to brush Cas’ sweaty bangs off his forehead. Sweat probably means his fever went down a bit, at least.
“Hey there, sunshine,” a cheery voice says then and Dean turns to see Amanda coming into the curtained-off area. “Time for your vitals.”
She has the thermometer machine dragging along behind her and Dean smiles at her in gratitude and says, “Do they work you all night?”
“One hour to go,” she says, like she is racing for the finish line, which she probably is.
Dean touches Cas’ hand briefly and says, “I’m gonna wait out in the hall, real quick. Just so she has some more room to work.”
Cas looks at Dean with a flash of fear for half a second and then says, “Alright, Dean, I’ll be alright.”
Part Two here.