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 9 The Question
Sammy doesn't know how, but John spins some contrived story about a hand railing and Dean's arm being trapped within the spokes of the railing at some point during his somersault down the stairs and Dr. Amora agrees to postpone his call to social services. His dad is good at the duck and weave, he has to hand it to the man on that count. It's clear from the doctor's continued skepticism, however, that they'll all be under heavy scrutiny from here on out. The call to social services has been delayed, not canceled.
With a sinking feeling, Sammy knows that John will grab Dean and be long gone before social services ever gets there, disappearing off the radar in a way that only John Winchester is capable of, convinced he's doing the best and only thing possible under the circumstances.
Sammy intends to smooth things over with the hospital staff before it gets to that point because Dean really needs to be here, not on the road sleeping in the car or shuffled between hotel rooms.
He wonders if his dad will take him when he high tails it out of here and supposes that has a lot to do with whether he's adult Sammy or child Sammy when the time comes. Surely his dad wouldn't leave him here by himself, would he? An icy trickle of terror accompanies that thought as he contemplates turning back into a four year old after his dad and brother have vanished without a trace.
For whatever reason, he's still grown up Sammy for now. There's no telling how long that will last since John, as their father, is up to the task of taking care of both his sons. Just how literal the wish is he doesn't know. The fact that he hasn't changed back yet leads him to believe his wish encompasses more than just another capable adult being present. Dean must still need Sammy in particular to be an adult. If that's the case then who exactly is he here to protect Dean from; the hospital staff, child protective services, the vengeful spirit…or dad? He doesn't believe that dad would physically hurt Dean on purpose, however, there is evidence to prove that Dean can get hurt by dad's actions purely unintentionally. The proof is lying on a hospital bed not three feet away at this very moment.
Their treatment room quickly becomes a beehive of activity as nurses and orderlies get down to the business of providing state of the art care and treatment for his brother. They bring in a rolling cart laden with materials for setting Dean's mangled arm. A new nurse arrives with a gown for Dean to change into and a pair of orderlies wheel in a portable IV stand with a bag of clear solution hanging from the hook and a heart rate monitoring machine.
Despite his misgivings, Dr. Amora has the x-rays spread out on a light board hanging from one of the circus animal festooned walls. In clipped tones he explains as John looks on intently, "As you can see here…" He points to a spot on the first x-ray. "The bone in the lower arm is splintered in a spiral pattern indicating a twisting motion as opposed to blunt trauma."
John grunts noncommittally.
After a moment's hesitation, the doctor moves on to the next slide. "This is the x-ray of your son's skull. Can you see the tiny white lines branching out from this point?"
"I see them." John rubs the fingers of his right hand over his mouth and frowns.
"Those lines indicate a fracture. The fracture will heal on its own given time and rest. We just need to continue to monitor Dean for the advancing symptoms we discussed earlier."
"No problem, we'll keep a close eye on him."
The doctor looks like he wants to say something else, opens his mouth and closes it soundlessly, then apparently opts to remain objective and silent on the subject rather than antagonize his patient's family. We'll be keeping a close eye on him as well, goes unspoken even though Sammy hears it loud and clear.
"The image of your son's spine shows the compression of these vertebrae right here." Pointing to a spot on the lower section of Dean's spine, the doctor turns to look at John. "Spinal compression can be caused by accidental falls and there can also be ligament damage in such cases. I'll know more once I've done a more thorough examination."
"Spinal damage sounds serious. Is that why he hasn't moved his legs?" Genuine fear taints John's voice.
"This type of spinal damage won't result in paralysis, however it could be causing some muscle weakness and numbness in his legs. Again, I'll know more after I've had a closer look."
Sammy has one ear tuned into the doctor's dissertation, but the vast majority of his attention is trained on the activity buzzing around Dean. The kid is doped up and unable to fend off the well-intentioned nurses. The drugs are making him loose and lethargic, so unlike his normal animated state, yet every once in a while the corners of his mouth twitch downward and his eyes dart over to find his brother. Signs that he's becoming uncomfortable with the sheer volume of people he doesn't know and the helplessness he feels. Whenever he senses his brother becoming overwhelmed by the attention of all the strangers buzzing around him, Sammy steps in on his behalf, taking over where he can or asking for some breathing room.
It's almost as if word has spread throughout the pediatric department about the shattered, little boy being admitted to room 118 and every maternal nurse within shouting distance has found one reason or another to pay them a visit. The hospital staff here is probably much too professional for that to be the case, still they seem to have more than their fair share of medically trained personnel working on Dean's case.
"Aren't you just the cutest little thing?" One of the nurses wearing puppy dog scrubs coos at Dean while removing the oxygen mask now that Dean's breathing has become easier, less forced.
Dean tucks his chin into his chest and looks back up at the nurse through lowered lashes. Whether the gesture is deliberate or not doesn't matter, the results are the same. His brother is going to have the girls eating out of his palms of his hands, wrapped around his little finger, use whatever euphemism you want, heck, he already does if this one nurse is anything to go by.
"Awww, baby, are you shy?" The young woman smiles then turns to look at Sammy when Dean doesn't answer.
He hides his snort in a cough. "No, not normally."
Because Dean's not shy at all. Reserved with strangers, taught from an early age not to trust anyone outside of a very tiny circle of people? Yeah, but shy? No.
The instances where he can take over for the nursing staff are admittedly rare, but as soon as he sees the nurse with the child-sized, blue hospital gown position herself to remove Dean's clothing, Sammy scrambles into action, knowing that even dosed with anti-anxiety drugs, his brother will be unnecessarily traumatized by having a stranger undress him.
With good grace and an understanding wink the motherly nurse hands over the hospital gown. "Be careful not to jostle him around too much. He has to remain lying still as much as possible with that back injury." She admonishes before pulling a privacy curtain around the bed.
He's just about completed the painstaking process, a process made even more challenging due to Dean's broken arm and the fact that his unsteady brother is too out-of-it to help at all, when John's cell phone rings and he excuses himself to take the call.
John returns a few minutes later, stands in the doorway, eyes Sammy warily and Sammy can tell he's not going to like whatever his dad has to say. "That was Mr. Niland, the condo manager. He says the condo association will pay Dean's hospital bills."
There must be more to it than that, so Sammy responds neutrally. "That's good news."
"Uh huh." John's grunt is accompanied by a quick glance into the corridor behind him.
Realization hits him like a ton of bricks, John wants to leave. The man honestly wants to leave his eight year old, badly injured son in the hospital to go hunting. The phone call from the condo manager was a catalyst, reminding him of the unfinished hunt for the vengeful spirit. The spirit who attacked his two young sons. So, this isn't just any hunt, it's personal for John now, making him even less able to ignore the pull, the itch. Dad has a vengeance streak of his own about a mile wide.
In a few long strides, he's around Dean's bed and in John's face. "Oh, no you don't. Not now." Sammy hisses loudly enough to get his point across without drawing the ire of the doctor and his staff. "You're not leaving him like this."
Dean has a lot to think about, unfortunately, his thoughts aren't cooperating the way they should. The problem is, he has some heavy thoughts, they're going to require some major processing, and the way things are going right now…well, he's just not up to sorting through it all. For one thing, his thoughts are jumbled up in some kind of chaotic mess. For another, they're sluggish, snail slow, stuck in a mire of quicksand.
At first, he'd been in so much pain he couldn't think at all, much less make any rational decisions. And now that the lacerating pain has subsided, it's his thoughts themselves creating his anguish. He'd decided early on to keep his mouth shut good and tight until things began to make more sense. He's going to stick with that plan for the foreseeable future.
The crux of the matter is this: Dad said the spirit wouldn't come…and it came anyway. Dad said there was no danger to Sammy and himself…and they had both been attacked. Sammy had only been four years old at the time, if it had been his little brother who had been thrown into the wall, he could very well have died, his tiny, fragile neck snapped in two.
Dean doesn't know how to reconcile those facts with the image he has of his father.
Three possible reasons for his dad's behavior play dodgeball in his mind: 1) Dad knew the spirit would come and he didn't care that his sons would be its most logical targets, directly placing them in the line of fire. Even innocent bystander Mr. Niland had seen the folly in them being there. 2) Dad really didn't know the spirit would come, which makes no sense, flies in the face of every one of Dean's most sacred beliefs about the infallibility of his father. 3) Dad knew the spirit would come and thought he would be able to protect his sons from the danger, but then failed to follow through on the protection part. This third one is the worse possibility as far as Dean is concerned because it's kind of a combination of the two previous horrible reasons.
So, yeah, heavy thoughts.
And if dad can't be trusted, can't be relied upon…then Dean has no one.
He's already lost so much in his eight years; his mom, his home, the dad who used to play catch with him in the front yard, his innocence, his security.
He had adapted to all the loss, remade himself into what his dad needed him to be. Kids are adaptable after all, he's heard that said somewhere.
Here he is facing major loss again in the form of his faith and trust in the only adult he has left, his dad.
But he still has Sammy.
His choices are to embrace the change or be crushed by it, learn to depend on the person he normally takes care of and protects or forsake everyone and everything, trusting only himself.
The easy way out would be to never talk again. Hide behind thick, strong walls of silence and never, ever let anyone else inside. Yeah, that would be easier, but he craves the connection of family. Always has. He loves them fiercely, longs for their affection in return.
Sammy loves him back, he even said it.
Dean yearns for the contact he would normally deny himself, knowing his dad wants him to be independent and self-sufficient.
Sammy doesn't mind looking out for him.
It might only be temporary, Sammy might revert to little more than a toddler at any time. Dean doesn't care. He'll take it for as long as it lasts, he has nothing left to lose.
Goosebumps prickle the skin on his arms. He's cold. His arms feel like they're made out of lead, every movement takes too much effort. There's a tingling sensation in his legs, a numbness, almost as if they've been disconnected from the rest of his body. It would be frightening if he didn't feel so emotionally detached from everything. A creeping exhaustion makes him fight to keep his eyes open, yet he's too disconcerted to let his guard down and succumb completely.
A young nurse with brown shoulder-length hair, the one who had called him 'baby', pushes a rolling cart closer to his bed, picks up a wet cloth from the tray, and begins to rub it gently over a sore spot on his head. It hurts.
He's totally at her mercy, vulnerable and unable to get away, not even able to summon the strength required to flinch out of her reach. She's talking to him, words soft like silk, trying to sooth him. He likes her, she's nice, but she's not one of the favored few and not the one he wants, so he doesn't pay attention to much of what she says.
Sammy is standing nose to nose with dad in the doorway. There's something threatening and wrong about the way they're staring at each other. The nervous thumping of Dean's heart morphs into something closer to frantic pounding. He wants the nurse to stop. He wants his brother to help him.
"S-sammy." He stutters.
Everyone in the small treatment room stops what they're doing to stare at him. Startled by the sudden scrutiny, Dean closes his eyes so he doesn't have to meet anyone's direct gaze.
"It's all right, Dean. Talking's good. You just surprised us, that's all." Sammy's warm hand lands on Dean's chilled arm, rubs up and down a couple times to chase the goosebumps away before moving to settle the blanket firmly under his chin. "Can I do that?" This last part is directed at the nice nurse cleaning the gash at the side of Dean's head.
She nods like this happens all the time and passes the damp cloth to Sammy who begins a rhythmic brushing of cloth over sticky hair, refolding it each time the red smear becomes too prominent against the white of the terrycloth material.
Dean sighs his acceptance, knowing that his brother is on duty with a firm grasp of just how tenuous Dean's peace of mind is at the moment. Once again, he's engrossed in a careful study of the freaky lion with a clown hat perched precariously on top of its mane and a toothless grin.
The doctor's voice brings him out of a light trance. "We're ready to set your arm now, Dean. Do you want to pick the color for your cast?"
The color of his cast seems mundane and in the grand scheme of things holds little importance. This doctor wants him to talk, like it's a game to see what will entice him into opening his mouth. Dean's having none of it. Talking to Sammy is one thing, talking to some unknown man in a white lab coat, doctor or not, is something altogether different.
"All right then." The doctor continues, nonplussed. "I think I'll go with green to match your eyes." He pulls the green roll out of a bin underneath the rolling cart, holds it out for inspection.
"That works." Sammy agrees, drawing the doctor's appreciative glance.
"Has he gotten any sleep yet?"
Dean feels his eyelids slip closed at the doctor's question, as though the stethoscope gives him some weird power of suggestion. Dean forces them open again.
Sammy answers, "No, he's been awake since the accident, a bit spacey at times, but it's like he won't quite let himself go all the way."
"Well, it's been hectic with the x-rays and everything. Once we've got his arm set and I've taken a look at his back, it'll settle down in here. He can get some rest then."
He completely misses the nurse sneaking up on him with the shot until after she's already poked him in the arm. She must be some kind of stealth ninja nurse, Dean thinks while yawning widely. The dull ache in his damaged arm evaporates, replaced with a cool sensation that feels like his arm has been lowered into a tub of water. It's bliss. His head lolls to the side.
The rest of the procedure goes unnoticed by Dean as does the remainder of the doctor's examination.
Dean is shocked into sudden awareness by a woman standing over him. His fuzzy mind skips backwards to earlier in the day and the ghost lady bending down to grab his arm. In a frenzy, Dean struggles to escape, limbs thrashing weakly, one arm stiff and ungainly in a forrest green cast extending from his wrist up beyond his bent elbow. A wail grows low in his throat and his breathing becomes erratic, loud choking gasps fill the otherwise quiet hospital room as he realizes how utterly helpless he is.
Dad wedges himself between the woman and the bed, filling Dean's field of vision. "Dean, you're in the hospital. You're safe. Do you hear me? You need to calm down or you're going to hurt yourself."
The nurse peeks at him from where she's retreated across the room and yeah, she's just a nurse.
Feeling dizzy from ebbing panic and the drugs being pumped into him through his IV, Dean flounders with what's reality and what's nightmarish memory.
He only has one thing he wants to say to his dad, one question he has to know the answer to. Nothing's more important to him than that dad get the answer to this one question right.
"Why'd you take us there, dad? She could have killed Sammy. Why'd you do it?"
Back to ( I Wish I was a Growed Up Chapter 8 The Diagnosis )
Back to ( I Wish I was a Growed Up Chapter 7 Uncle Sammy )
Back to ( I Wish I was a Growed Up Chapter 6 Spirits Fight Nasty )
Back to ( I Wish I was a Growed Up Chapter 5 Daddy John )
Back to ( I Wish I was a Growed Up Chapter 4 The End of the Beginning )
Back to ( I Wish I was a Growed Up Chapter 3 The Opportunity )
Back to ( I Wish I was a Growed Up Chapter 2 The First Time )
Back to ( I Wish I was a Growed Up Chapter 1 - The Wish)