Impetus

:::

"Lay down."

Dean angles his cheek into the cool pillowcase, blows out a puff of air. His knees are swollen and pulsing, his hips throbbing. "Damn it."

"S'okay." Sam's palm plays over his face, butterfly-light. "Got a fever all right."

Dean curls toward him on the bed. The aches follow him, radiate into the nylon-scratchy bedspread. "Sorry."

Sam's thumb is strong on his neck, working at a knot. "Hey." Sam folds the bedspread around him, a stuffy, soothing weight. He kneads Dean's back. "Come on. No being sorry."

Dean noses his pounding head into Sam's thigh. His face is hot and wet.

"Never sorry."

:::

Dean's fingers are tight against a chain link fence. Cold air blows through his hair and down his collar and his eyes have already adjusted to the dark, he doesn't know when they adjusted. He relaxes his hands, shakes them loose from the wiry metal.

He's at a tennis court, staring in at a sagging centre net. His jeans are damp at the ankles from the long wet grass at the edge of the lawn, up against the fence where it's hard to mow. He rubs his hands together to spread out the buzzing heat, steps back from the fence.

There are two bulges the size of watermelons in the mesh, from where he was pulling.

:::

The car gleams beneath the streetlight and Sam hunches on her hood, all elbows and knees like a big friendly gargoyle. He watches Dean walk toward him across the lawn.

"Hey."

"Hey." Dean clears his throat, squints at the shapes of Sam's brows. "Scale of one to crazy?"

Sam tips his head back, the light cutting deep shadows into his face. He smiles softly. "Four point five."

Dean pushes sore fingers into his pockets.

"C'mere." Sam tests Dean's forehead with gentle lips. Dean looks at Sam's scruffy brown jacket, wonders if a wash cycle will heal it or break it down.

:::

The first time involved a motorcycle. Sam was flushed and panting when he caught up to him, the Impala open behind him on the gravel shoulder.

"Hey," he gasped. He'd only run a few steps. "Dean."

Dean's legs were weak and shaky and he fisted into Sam's shirt to ground them both. He wiped his mouth. He asked what he had done. All Sam would say was that he'd ridden the bike.

The next time, Dean didn't ask.

:::

They stop by a twenty-four-hour grocery store on the way back to the motel. Sam buys him a banana and presses it into his hand. Dean sees soup and tissues through the thin plastic bag.

"It's not that bad, Sam."

Sam starts the car. The heater clears the windshield of their foggy breath. "I know."

:::

He's spread wide against something clammy, leaning into it hard like he wants to merge with it. He coughs and draws back, bone-chilled and almost blind. From a faint blue glow he can see walls. He was hugging a cave wall.

"Sammy?"

"Yeah." The light brightens as Sam steps closer, holds up his phone.

"Where the hell are we?"

"We're underground." Sam rubs Dean's side like he's a spooked horse, his giant palm trailing heat. "We're spelunking, man."

"Still in Utah?"

"Uh huh."

Their voices sound strange in the pressurized air. Shivering, Dean looks up the wall to where it disappears in the dark. "You drop some breadcrumbs on the way in?"

Sam hugs him warm.


Prompt: Excerpt from Wikipedia: "...the immune system's purpose is to distinguish foreign material within the body and attempt to destroy it, just as it attempts to destroy infecting organisms such as bacteria and viruses." What if the foreign material in Dean's body is something a little more sinister? He's prone to high fevers and body aches (and/or whatever other symptoms you'd prefer) just before a blackout, after which he always finds himself in some disturbing situation or other. What's the foreign material, and what's it doing with Dean's body when he's out of it? Any genre/pairing.