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: ~3,500
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 10 The Answer
So, the doctor has agreed to hold off on calling social services…for now. Dad has agreed not to leave the hospital in pursuit of the angry ghost woman…for now. Dean is asleep with his right arm in a cast past his elbow…at last.
In keeping with the circus theme of their room, Sammy feels like a juggler who has one too many balls in the air at the same time. As soon as the first one falls, they're all going to come pelting down all around him, it's a given and he accepts it. In fact, let's make that chainsaws. He's juggling chainsaws, because where's the skill and danger involved in juggling balls?
Dean had slept through Doctor Amora's examination of his back which was an amazing feat given that the doctor had rolled him onto his good side and Sammy had braced him there with his hip and both hands so he wouldn't flop over onto his stomach. The poor kid never even batted an eyelash through the entire thing.
His back looked like one giant bruise and Sammy found it impossible to tell the difference between one section of mottled skin or another, but the doctor had pointed to a puffy, inflamed looking spot and declared the compressed vertebrae were in that area. The damage was extensive, most likely causing extreme pain and affecting the function of his legs. As the doctor left the room to go order an MRI of Dean's entire spine he wondered out loud how Dean had stayed conscious and as aware as he had been with the level of injuries he had sustained, not to mention going through what he had without a word of complaint. Sammy had felt like he was going to be physically ill at the thought.
It's been a long, harrowing day. Just this morning he had been four years old and riding in the backseat of the Impala with his brother. They hadn't even had a chance to unpack at the condo before Dad had armed Dean and taken them both out hunting. Now they're in the hospital and the day is beginning to take a heavy toll on Sammy. His eyes are burning and gritty, his mouth is dry, and his nerves are shot to pieces.
"I'm going to grab some coffee while Dean's asleep, you want anything?" He asks his father, rubbing a weary hand across his face.
"Coffee sounds good. I'll stay with him." John indicates his sleeping son, leans against the wall, and crosses his arms in front of his chest.
"I'll need some money." Sammy gives his dad a rueful smile and John digs his wallet out of his back pocket, passes him a couple of bills. "Thanks, I'll be right back."
The coffee is easy enough to find, there's a kiosk in the front lobby selling coffee and pastries. The pastries look to be left over from that morning. He buys two coffees and two blueberry muffins anyway and sinks into the cushions of a loveseat in the nearby waiting area, groaning at the sensation of finally taking the weight off his legs and feet. The coffee tastes fresh at least.
Sitting with his head in his hands, his elbows on his knees, Sammy gives himself a quick minute to decompress. This 'being a grown up thing' takes a lot out of him. It only happens when he has to step up to the plate, take charge, actively play a role in his brother's well-being. He doesn't want to be away from Dean for long, but he needs some time to get his head on straight.
A few deep cleansing breaths later and he feels better, ready to take on whatever happens to come his way next. He thinks he's ready that is, until he makes the turn into their corridor and hears a god awful sound.
A choking gasping moan.
Although he's never in his life heard his brother make a sound like that, he knows without the shadow of a doubt the noise is coming from Dean.
With his heart hammering triple time, Sammy tears down the hallway, steaming hot coffee sloshing unheeded onto his hands from the mostly full styrofoam cups.
His father's deep commanding rumble cuts through the noise and subdues Dean's cry through sheer forceful volume. The warbling sob hangs in the air like the final note of an aria.
Sammy finally reaches the open doorway in time to see John lightly restraining Dean, who looks like he's trying to scramble backwards without much success. A tall thin nurse in white scrubs stands behind John looking perplexed and a little guilty. Before he can step into the room, Dean seems to get control of himself and he speaks his first full sentences since the fight with the spirit.
"Why'd you take us there, dad? She could have killed Sammy. Why'd you do it?"
For as terrified as he had looked just moments ago, Dean has still managed to ask dad a darn good question. Even though Sammy would like to rush into the room to make certain his brother is all right, he's not going to provide a distraction and let John off the hook that easily. Even though the nurse is still in the room wearing an expression that's way too curious to be a good thing, Dean has asked a legitimate question and he deserves a legitimate answer. Sammy can't wait to hear John's response himself.
"It was an accident, Dean. That's all there is to it. Sammy didn't get hurt." John's gruff answer is a disappointment. It isn't really an answer at all and the only reason Sammy didn't get hurt is because Dean had stepped into the line of fire, offering himself up like a sacrifice.
Dean's eyes lose focus and a misty film obscures his normally vibrant green irises. At first it appears as though Dean is simply as baffled by John's comments as Sammy feels, but it soon becomes evident something else is wrong, very wrong.
"Sammy, did she get you?" Confusion lurks heavy in Dean's tone and Sammy's pretty sure he's lost the pure lucidity from a few moments ago.
Placing what remains of the coffee and muffins on the nearest surface he can find, Sammy quickly closes the remaining space to his brother's bedside and blocks as much of the nurse's view as he can. "She didn't get me, you made sure of that. Don't you remember?" Somehow he knows exactly what twilight zone Dean has drifted into, one in which a ghostly woman is savagely assaulting two small boys.
Dean is pushing himself up in the bed, voice wavering and edging toward frantic. "I dropped the gun. Can you reach it? Hurry, before she comes back!" His gaze rakes the floor as if he's going to see the shotgun lying in a corner.
Eyes wide and mouth slightly open, the nurse shifts from foot to foot, trying to decide on a course of action. If she decides to leave the room now, it's a toss-up as to whether she'll be going to fetch the doctor or security.
He's back at the circus again, this time as a tightrope walker. The tightrope between being honest enough to keep Dean calm and being too honest and upsetting the delicate truce they have with hospital administration is a narrow one indeed. A little desperately, Sammy says. "You don't need a gun. It's all good, I promise."
But Dean's not looking at him, doesn't seem to see anything. "I do. I need it. Dad gave it to me, he wants me to shoot her."
John jerks a little at that, opens his mouth and then just freezes in place, breathing loudly.
Willing John to say something, anything, Sammy curls his fingers around Dean's uncast wrist, brushing his thumb across the almost hysterical child's clawed knuckles. "Dad's right here. He doesn't want you to shoot anyone."
"She's gonna get you if I don't." Dean's voice is losing its strength, words running together in a dreamy slur.
Sammy realizes it's up to him to bring Dean back from whatever frightening dreamscape his mind has conjured up. He cups his hands around both sides of Dean's face to form a frame, angles their heads together, and pleads, "I'm fine and we're safe. Please, kiddo, c'mon back to me."
Dean bucks once, his entire body shudders and his breath catches for one long minute. On the exhale his eyelids flutter closed, body going limp in Sammy's grasp.
One of the monitors attached to Dean starts a mournful beeping.
The voyeuristic nurse leaps into action, glancing at the monitor and pressing the call button before inserting herself next to Dean so she can check his breathing. "Dean, wake up, honey."
"What's going on? What's wrong with my son?" John finally finds his voice.
As a slew of hospital personnel in a rainbow variety of scrubs come streaming through the door, she backs John and Sammy away from Dean's bed. "We don't know yet, but we're going to find out. You need to give us room to work."
Sammy strains to catch a glimpse of his brother through the swarm of people trying to help him. His heart is slamming so hard inside his ribcage he thinks his ribs might actually crack. He can't imagine anything worse than this ever happening to him, because he doesn't even know if Dean's breathing, can't even tell if Dean's alive.
Dr. Amora enters the room, obviously having been paged. He gets an update on his patient's situation from the staff already in the room. Vitals and statistics that have no meaning for Sammy are being reported in urgent voices.
When they transfer Dean to a gurney and roll him into the hallway, both Sammy and John attempt to follow. They're stopped by the distracted doctor who explains, "He's all right for now. His oxygen levels fell, but he's breathing fine. We're going to take him for that CAT scan to see what caused him to pass out. You'll have to stay here. I'll be back to let you know as soon as we have some results." And with that he's gone.
Waiting is interminable. Waiting for someone to come give them word on Dean is horrifying…exasperating…he can't even think of words to describe his level of frustration. Sammy's whole purpose revolves around keeping Dean safe and right now he doesn't know what's happening to his brother.
By the looks of him, John's no better off. Both men pace in turns, start conversations only to have them dwindle and die a lingering death. There's nothing to talk about past, 'What could be taking so long?' and 'Why hasn't the doctor come out yet?' Nothing that holds Sammy's interest anyway. Accusations stick in his throat, but they won't further Dean's cause at this point, so he holds on to them, pushes them back, and keeps his own counsel.
During his fifth trip to the nurse's desk to badger, no make that cajole, them into giving him some news on Dean's condition, Dr. Amora appears through a set of swinging doors nearby. His deliberate pace and expressionless brown eyes give away nothing. Sammy wonders if all doctors have to practice that contradictory look of concerned detachment or if it just comes naturally to those who choose the medical profession. The first words out of the doctor's mouth make him feel like a judgmental jerk.
"I'm sorry we had to rush Dean off like that. I know you must have been terribly worried, he gave us all a scare, but he's going to be fine."
Relief drops Sammy into the nearest chair, his legs suddenly useless.
John's right there, placing a hand on the top of Sammy's head, a familiar gesture given when his father want to show support, love, care, all the things he seems incapable of expressing in words. Sammy basks in the warmth while listening to the rest of the conversation. It surprises him how much his heart lightens at the simple show of solidarity.
"What happened? Where is he? Can we see him?" John's questions trip over each other in a competition to see which one makes it out first.
"There is some bleeding and swelling in his brain. It's relatively minor, but we could see it on the CAT scan. He came around right as we were taking him in to radiology, so we had to sedate him."
Sammy's head pops up from where it had fallen loosely onto his chest, dislodging John's hand.
"It's all right." The doctor hastens to reassure him. "The technicians got him in for an MRI of his spine as well as the CAT scan while he was out. We're treating him now with a course of anti-inflammatory drugs which will also help with the swelling around his compressed vertebrae and the bleeding in his brain has stopped. He should make a full recovery, no permanent damage." The wide smile masks any suspicion the doctor may still harbor about Dean's family life.
For now the three men are united in their happiness over a young boy's prognosis.
Dean's still knocked out on sedatives and pain medication when he's returned to their room. The hospital routinely encourages parents to stay overnight with their young children and two of the more comfortable lounge chairs are brought into the room to accommodate John and Sammy.
"He'll probably sleep all night, so you can relax and get some rest as well." A new nurse who just came on for the night shift and introduces herself as Meghan tells them.
The chair is heaven sent and Sammy is asleep before Meghan finishes recording Dean's vitals on his chart and turns off the overhead lights.
A low murmur of voices wakes him the next morning. The crick in his neck loudly proclaims that he slept in the same position all night long and even though it's a very comfortable chair, it's still a chair and not a bed. Sammy sits up, rolls his shoulders, lets his head fall in a lazy circle on his boneless neck until he can hold it up without wincing.
John's conversing with Meghan in hushed tones which Sammy can just barely make out.
"Yes, he'll be waking up soon, but he's on a lot of medication so you shouldn't expect him to be completely coherent right away." Meghan says in answer to John's latest inquiry.
"What kind of treatment will he need?"
"The most important thing will be for him to rest. The drugs we're giving him will keep the swelling down and given plenty of bed rest, he'll heal up good as new."
"That's really good news, thanks."
Stretching out the lingering kinks, Sammy returns Meghan's smile when she closes the door behind herself. As soon as she's gone, he leans against the side of Dean's bed, wanting to see for himself that his brother has survived the night unscathed, or at least having sustained no additional wounds.
Dark smudges under his eyes give Dean a haunted appearance. A blanket covers him up to his chest and both his arms lie on top, a sling holds his right arm in position. The only discernable movement is the steady rise and fall of the blanket as he breathes and even that's more of a hope than something actually visible. He looks otherworldly, so peaceful that it almost hurts to look at him and Sammy screws his eyes shut for a minute. The thought 'too good for this world' comes to him unbidden and then Sammy has to touch, has to prove to himself that the peace isn't an illusion, that his brother hasn't been transformed into a marble sculpture while he slept.
Tentatively, he picks up Dean's lax left hand, traces the life line on his palm. It's warm, soft, real, and Sammy's stomach slowly unclenches.
"Morning sleepy head." His father's hand lands heavily on his shoulder.
Sammy grimaces, rubs some grit from his eyes, and turns to regard his dad. "Morning. Hey, sorry I passed out on you last night. I must have been more tired than I thought."
John chuckles quietly. "No problem. You had a pretty rough day." Hair sticks out at odd angles, attesting to John's night spent in the other chair.
"Mmmm." Sammy hums in agreement, not all the way awake yet.
"So, I've been thinking."
Immediately Sammy's on red alert, not liking the way his dad cuts his eyes sideways instead of looking directly at him. "About…"
"Dean's going to be laid up here for a while and I haven't exactly been nominated for 'father of the year' by the hospital staff. It might be better for Dean if I make myself scarce, give them less reason to call in social services, kind of out of sight out of mind, you know?" John rubs a hand through his hair, smoothing down the wayward tufts.
It's not too hard to figure out where this is going, but Sammy's going to make his dad spell it out. "Yeah, so where're you going to go?"
"Might do some research, try to dig up some dirt on our historical lady friend."
The play on words isn't lost on Sammy. He scowls at John's playful wink, shakes his head, knows he can't stop the man and there's no use in fighting it anymore. He can't help giving it one last half-hearted try. "You should stay here, John. He's going to ask for you when he wakes up."
The gaze John rests on Dean holds more sadness than Sammy would have guessed. "He hasn't been overly concerned about my whereabouts lately."
Sammy's really not in a position to argue that point so he lets it slide by without comment. There is another issue he's been meaning to bring up, now seems like as good a time as any. "What if I change back while you're gone?"
John allows the change in topic and picks up on Sammy's meaning easily. "Do you think you will? I'll stay if you think you will."
"No, I don't think so, especially if you're not here. I mean, I haven't yet, so…" He doesn't go into his speculation as to why that might be and John doesn't ask. They're both probably better off without another item of contention between them. "You'll check in with us regularly then?" Sammy knows when it's time to cut his losses and move on.
"I'll be back by this evening. No worries." A bump of shoulders conveys about as much affection as John can muster.
"Right, no worries."
"You'll look out for him?" John brushes his fingertips tenderly across Dean's cheek.
Dad can be tender, who knew?
"Of course." Sammy sighs. As if there's any question.
Back to ( I Wish I was a Growed Up Chapter 9 The Question )
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