Title: I WIsh I was a Growed Up
Characters: Sam, Dean, John
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural except in my dreams where schmoop abounds.
Warnings: Those of you who think John Winchester was a good father doing the best he could under terrible circumstances may not like my portrayal. He's not deliberately cruel, but he is negligent and he treats his sons as though they are soldiers, not little boys. Just remember this story is AU and Sammy knows what his daddy does at a much younger age than canon Sammy. I do not work in a hospial and I have no medical training.
Word Count: ~3,400
Summary: Sammy has just figured out that life isn't fair for his older brother, Dean. He wishes there was some way he could help. When his wish comes true their lives are changed forever. AU hurt/sick!Dean protective!Sam Wee!chester
I Wish I was a Growed Up
Chapter 8 The Diagnosis
John shuffles backwards until his back hits the wall, watching as Sammy strides purposefully into the exam room, intent on Dean and Dean alone. He watches Sammy take a hold of Dean's flailing hand, whisper a few words, and magically the child stills. It's humbling and not in a good way. Heat rushes up his neck until his cheeks are blotchy and red. John feels useless and inadequate, not up to the task of consoling his own son.
He'd been right there next to Dean, made sure Dean saw him, knew he was there. That's all Dean had ever needed in the past, just John's presence to calm him during the rare instances of childhood illnesses and injuries. It didn't work this time though. Dean had gotten more and more agitated, tossing his head so violently it had to have been inflicting more damage to his already battered body, feebly swatting away any hospital personnel who dared get anywhere near him, all while keeping eerily silent. Finally the nurse had looked at John pointedly, obviously expecting him to know what to do and he didn't. He had no clue. Defeated, he'd admitted that Sammy had a better chance of calming Dean down than he did.
Now Dean's hooded, pain-filled gaze is fastened on Sammy, like his brother is the only person in his world, like their connection is the only thing keeping him afloat on a stormy sea. It's touching and John feels a lump growing in his throat along with a twinge of guilt. Even the hospital personnel seem to sense the bond between Sammy and Dean as they move gingerly around the tall young man, careful not to dislodge him from his integral post at Dean's side providing comfort and security to their young patient.
Every once in a while Sammy leans in and cards gentle fingers through Dean's blonde hair, speaks soft, hushed words for Dean's ears only. John can imagine the reassurance although he can't hear it; you're doing good, don't worry, I'm here, everything's gonna be alright, hang in there. They're his lines, the words a father is meant to say and John feels like a stage actor standing in the wings watching a stand-in play his part. Today the role of Dean Winchester's adoring and trusted caretaker will be played by Sammy Winchester. When had that casting change been made? When had he been replaced?
John looks at Sammy and knows he's his son, but knowing it and truly accepting it are two different things. He's been a hunter for three years now, he's seen some freaky stuff, so it's not too hard to believe that Sammy made a wish to be older and the wish came true, especially when he saw it happen. It's certainly not harder than believing that demons exist and one killed his wife, or that vampires walk around in the daylight and need to be beheaded to kill them, or that rock salt disperses ghosts. His mind recognizes the man with the tousled chocolate brown hair and hazel gold eyes as his baby boy, Sammy, but his heart simply doesn't accept it, not the same way it recognizes and accepts Dean as his son.
A possessive cadence thrums inside him when he thinks about Dean. My son, my son, my son, my son, my son, my son. The growing unease at someone other that himself tending to Dean recedes to a background hum only when Dr. Amora enters the room and begins asking questions about Dean's injuries.
This is something useful he can do. There's an art to giving authority figures enough information to get the help or cooperation you need from them without telling them too much of the truth and John has learned that particular skill as part of his arsenal of hunter's tools. He steps forward, hand extended. "Doctor, my son, Dean, was playing on his skateboard and fell down a flight of stairs. I saw him getting too close to the stairs through the window, but he was going too fast and I couldn't get to him in time to stop his fall."
The doctor had mentioned Dean being a dare devil. He probably saw lots of children's injuries resulting from attempts to emulate extreme sports seen on TV. It's easy to get people to believe a lie if you're playing into their preconceived notions.
"Can you give him something for the pain?" Sammy interrupts as though he finds everything else going on in the room of secondary importance to making sure that Dean is as comfortable as possible.
Dr. Amora's intense gaze travels from John to Sammy to Dean then back to John. He gives the impression of a man who doesn't miss much. "I'll need to examine him first. We don't like to administer pain medication to minors unless it's absolutely necessary."
Shifting his focus from Dean for the first time since entering the room, Sammy glares at the doctor saying, "If you're waiting for him to start wailing and screaming like those kids down the hall before you'll give him anything you're making a big mistake. I know my br…nephew and the more pain he's in the quieter he gets. Just because he's not crying doesn't mean he's not suffering." Sammy speaks low and quiet, for Dean's sake no doubt, but his expression is all protective determination and steely resolve complete with flashing eyes and set jaw.
"I'm glad you spoke up, we need to know those types of things in order to treat our patients appropriately." Dr. Amora's warm tone immediately diffuses the tangible tension and he sidesteps John to reach Dean's bedside. "It's Dean, right?" He questions, smiling kindly at the child.
"That's right." John nods once.
"Okay, Dean, can you tell me where it hurts the most?" Eyebrows arch inquisitively as Dr. Amora waits for Dean's answer.
The room is quiet other than Nurse Cathy fiddling with the contents of a cabinet next to the door. Dean's eyes roll, making him appear a little wild. He moans, breath coming in harsh gasps, and tries to burrow closer to his brother, refusing to even acknowledge the doctor's presence.
Sammy reacts to the boy's clinginess by bending his upper body around him in a posture that can only be described as a shield. When it becomes apparent that Dean isn't going to speak to the doctor, he fills the void. "His arm…it's definitely broken, and he hit his head pretty hard, it was bleeding earlier and there's a huge knot. Oh, and he's not moving his legs. I'm not sure what that means." Nervousness makes the words tumble out of Sammy's mouth in a rambling stream.
Nodding his understanding, the doctor risks life and limb by maneuvering past Sammy, the human barrier, and places a hand on Dean's head. He glides it carefully along until he comes to the egg shaped lump and tacky blood tangled in his hair. "Did he lose consciousness?"
"No, but he's disoriented, I'm not even sure he knows what's going on, and he's having trouble breathing." Concern tinges Sammy's voice as he indicates the oxygen mask.
"He was extremely agitated when he first arrived." The nurse agrees, moving away from the cupboard with an irrigation tube and metal basin which she places on the tray table near the bed.
"I need Dean to answer this next one." Dr. Amora gives John and Sam and restraining glance before turning back to Dean. "Dean, can you tell me how old are you?"
With a shuddering hitch of air, John's normally stoic eldest son closes his eyes and tightens his grip on Sammy's hand. A single tear squeezes from between his eyelids to trace a forlorn trail toward his temple.
The clinginess has John worried more than anything else because it's such strange behavior for his oldest. Dean had a bit of a mama's boy cuddling thing going on when he was three years old, but…well, obviously that's long gone. Also, the not talking is unnerving. John has seen that before and really doesn't want a repeat performance.
It's hard to tell what the boy is thinking, especially since he won't speak. John wants to make everything better, take the hurt away. No matter how dry and empty he sometimes feels inside, he's not completely without fatherly compassion. He wants to reach out and wipe Dean's tear away and he's just about to step forward when Sammy does that very thing, using the pad of his thumb in a soothing gesture.
"It's okay, kiddo. It's okay." Sammy murmurs.
An odd feeling of being excluded from a very selective club, one not currently accepting new members, sweeps over him. It's followed by a wave of resentment. John shrugs his shoulders in an attempt to shake off the unwelcome feelings.
At some point a blanket had been spread over Dean, covering him up to his shoulders. John doesn't remember when that happened.
Unaffected by Dean's dismissal and Sammy's protective hovering, the doctor flicks the blanket down to get a good look at his patient's arm, grimaces at what he sees. "Yeah, that looks like a nasty break." He confirms. "So, here's what we're going to do, I'm going to order some pain medication and something for anxiety right now." A hasty scrawl on the note pad in his hand is passed to the nurse who takes off to get the requested medicine.
"It will probably make him drowsy and he won't remember much of what goes on. He'll be in a state of conscious sedation. We like to use a child's alertness as a sign of whether they're getting better or worse after a head trauma and we won't be able to do that if the drugs knock him out completely. Next, I'll send him up to get some x-rays of his arm, skull and back. A CAT scan is preferable over a skull x-ray as an x-ray won't tell us if there's bleeding in his brain, however, he would have to remain completely still for at least five minutes for the CAT scan results to be meaningful and he would have to be alone in the room for the procedure. I'm thinking that might not work out for him, so we'll go with the x-rays for now and keep a close eye on him for developing symptoms. You can be right there with him during the x-rays and the x-rays will show if there are any fractures." The doctor pauses to make sure everyone is keeping up with his narration.
"What kinds of things do we need to be watching out for?" John asks. He knows from experience what a concussion feels like, knows what the symptoms are, but this is Dean and, as much as he treats Dean as though he's an adult, the pale figure dwarfed by the hospital bed is enough to remind him that Dean is only a child. Plus bleeding in his brain sounds really serious.
"Don't worry if he falls asleep, that's normal and actually recommended. He's going to need lots of rest and, as I said, the medication is going to made him sleepy. We'll be waking him up periodically to check his alertness and arousability. It will help greatly if he'll answer some questions for us. We can assess his comprehension better that way, but if not, there are other tests we can perform. We'll need to know about any nausea, worsening headache, dizziness, or convulsions, as those could be symptoms of concussion or bleeding and we'll need to get a CAT scan at that point."
Just then, the nurse returns with a syringe and two vials. "Uncle Sammy, talk to Dean. Take his mind off things for a little while."
It's clear she doesn't want Dean focused on what she's doing with the needle and the tiny bottles of clear medicine. Sammy quickly complies while Nurse Cathy measures out the correct dosage.
Ducking down into Dean's line of vision, Sammy starts, "Hey kiddo, you remember that pool back at the condo building where we're staying? How would you like to check it out once you're feeling better, huh? You might not be up to swimming right away, but you could maybe do some wading in the shallow end at first. I know, I know, boring right? Don't worry, it'll only be until you're all healed up. You'll be jumping off the diving board before you know it."
John's not sure what makes Sammy think they're going to be sticking around long enough to go to the pool, but that's not the point and he gets that. Cloudy eyes clear for the first time since the spirit threw Dean into the wall. An emotion that John identifies as hope flits briefly across Dean's face behind the oxygen mask. Sammy looks up and shares a smile with him. It's the first indication they've had that Dean does understand at least some of what's being said to him.
Dean barely flinches when Cathy inserts the syringe needle into his arm and depresses the plunger. The prick of the needle probably pales in comparison to the constant agony in his arm, head, and who knows where else since Dean has yet to complain of other ailments.
Within moments the boy visibly relaxes, the tension in his neck and shoulders melting away. Eyelids droop further closed and small fingers in Sammy's grasp loosen their desperate hold.
The doctor is talking again so John tears his gaze away from his two sons and gives the man his full attention.
"After x-rays we'll give him a local anesthetic and I'll set his arm. We'll see what the other x-rays show us and go from there. How does that sound?" The doctor clasps his hands together over his notepad and waits for John to give his approval even though they both know it's not likely that John's going to object to the plan of action. It's fairly basic after all.
The x-rays go about as well as can be expected. Dean is floating in a medicated haze and is relatively compliant and docile, only expressing his unhappiness and annoyance with a petulant whimper when Sammy has to move away temporarily to let the x-ray technician maneuver him into the correct positions to get the pictures the doctor ordered. The technician seems to be used to dealing with children. She smiles at Dean indulgently and patiently explains what she's doing each time she needs to move him for another angle. Dean's characteristic eye roll at the way she pats his cheek sympathetically doesn't materialize and John finds himself missing it.
Both Sammy and John are allowed to stay nearby throughout the x-ray process. The technician frequently asks one or the other of them to reassure Dean, talk to him, or distract him in some way. The hospital staff are all well versed in distraction techniques and use them whenever their patient begins to show the slightest sign of getting upset. Their efforts and concern certainly make the ordeal less stressful.
Before long the small family of three is escorted to a treatment room in the pediatric department to wait for the x-ray results. They're all alone for the first time since entering the hospital, left to their own devices for the time being.
Their room in an interior one so there are no windows. The stark white of the walls is alleviated with painted circus animals, most notably a large grinning lion opposite Dean's bed.
Dean is intrigued by the lion, gaze never wavering through slow, groggy blinks, brow furrowed in confusion. The drugs are still working just fine then. Raising an uncoordinated hand, he points at the lion and looks at Sammy with a bewildered expression.
Sammy chuckles fondly. "Yeah, I don't know what's up with that lion either, kiddo."
Not talking, his son is still not talking, still needs Sammy close at hand. For his part, Sammy gives in to Dean's every unspoken demand, seems to sense what his brother wants without the benefit of speech, rarely moves more than a few feet away from his side. It's like watching a small sun and one devoted planet orbiting around it. And no, he's definitely not jealous of his sons' closeness.
He does, however, feel as though years of hard work are swirling down the drain. The life he leads is not an easy one and he's been training Dean to live the same life as he does, toughening him up so he'll survive the brutality of it. Every minute in this hospital watching Sammy fawn over the boy is torture plain and simple. The setback to Dean's training could be huge.
At Dean's next beckoning gesture, Sammy crosses the room to him, places a calming hand on his shoulder and John snaps.
"You're coddling him, Sammy. Too much attention's going to make him soft."
"There's no such thing, John." Sammy snaps back. "He needs all the attention we can give him."
John's just about to explain how much he loves them both and only wants them to be prepared and strong enough to handle anything that may come their way, albeit not in exactly those words and maybe a little bit louder than strictly necessary, when Dr. Amora enters the room.
A folder with the corners of x-ray images poking out from the side is held firmly in the doctor's hand. Looking decidedly less friendly than the last time they met, he steps briskly forward. "I have the results of the x-rays." He states, frown lines popping around his mouth and eyebrows.
Sammy is first to react. "What do they tell you?" His worry is palpable.
Heaving a weary sigh, the doctor turns narrowed eyes to John. "I have to tell you that the injuries to Dean's arm are not compatible with a skate board accident or a fall down a flight of stairs."
"What do you mean?"
"The x-rays show a spiral fracture that could only be sustained if the person's arm was twisted with enormous force. It simply isn't possible to achieve that level of damage from a tumble down a flight of stairs." He pauses for effect and then continues. "Additionally, there is a skull fracture and compression of his spine. Is there anything you'd like to tell me before I call social services?"