Meet Me on the Battlefield
Like Friends, They Cover Me
Dean woke up to the sound of Sam having what sounded like a doozy of a nightmare. It wasn't all that unusual for a Winchester to have one, so Dean reacted as he had done a thousand times before. Jumping out of bed, he narrowly avoided face-planting on the floor when his feet tangled up in the blanket the nurses had given him.
"Sam? Wake up, dude. You're having a bad dream. Sammy?"
The heart monitor above the bed was beeping loudly as Sam's heart rate climbed rapidly. His head thrashed back and forth on the pillow and Dean could make out what he thought was the sound of his name on Sam's lips. Seconds later, Dean felt the temperature of the room drop significantly. Before he could wrap his mind around what was happening, Sam's body started violently shaking and a voice echoed in the room.
"Leave him alone," Dean yelled. "He doesn't belong to you!"
"He's mine. He's always been mine…"
Dean felt the touch of a cold hand on his arm, and as he attempted to pull his arm away, the touch suddenly became the grasp of cold fingers wrapping around his bicep. The grip was tight and he found that he was unable to pull his arm away. Just as he felt another hand starting to wrap around his throat, the door to the room opened and several people rushed inside.
"He's seizing," one of the nurses stated loudly. "Julie, could you get me some Ativan and page Dr. Porter?"
Before the nurse even left the room, Sam's body stopped shaking. His nurse, who Dean thought was named Mindy, quickly checked Sam's vital signs before turning to him. "Does your brother have any type of seizure disorder, Mr. Winchester?"
"What?" Dean asked in confusion. He was still frantically trying to wrap his mind about what was happening.
"Your brother…..has he had seizures before?"
Dean blinked several times, trying to get his brain to catch up with everything. "Uh, yeah….he had one once when he was five. The doctor said it was from a fever."
Dean could remember that event so vividly. He had been nine at the time and it was one of the first times their dad had left them alone for a long period of time. John had been gone for two days when Sam first showed signs of being sick. Dean could remember the way Sam's chest had rumbled with every breath he took and how his small body was wracked by exceedingly vicious coughs. He had tried everything he could think of to get Sam to eat and sleep, but the poor kid had no appetite and the coughing prevented him from getting much sleep.
By the third day of Sam's sickness, Dean was getting really worried. His brother did nothing more than lay on the bed hour after hour, staring at the ceiling with a blank gaze that terrified Dean. When he finally realized that Sam's body was burning with fever, he started to panic. Not having any way to call his dad, Dean did the next best thing and called Bobby. Luckily, Bobby answered the phone on the second ring, just as Sam's body started jerking violently on the bed. Dean could remember the terror that filled him as he watched his little brother seizing uncontrollably. Bobby's voice was coming from the phone that Dean had dropped in his initial panic and eventually Dean thought to pick it back up.
"Uncle Bobby! Something's wrong with Sammy,' he cried. "I-I think he's dying!"
Bobby tried to get some answers from the terrified kid without much success. Eventually, he was able to determine that Sam had been sick and was having what sounded like a seizure. After telling Dean to call 911 and to then make sure that Sam didn't hurt himself, Bobby reassured Dean that he was on his way. Of course, he had been two hours away at the time, so Dean had to deal with things on his own for a while.
Dean could remember the intense relief he felt when the ambulance finally showed up. He was only nine years old and knew that he shouldn't be expected to have to deal with things like his brother nearly dying in a cheap, dirty motel room all by himself. When he saw the two paramedics climb out of the ambulance, he immediately gave in to the tears that had been threatening to fall. The first paramedic immediately went over to the bed to check on Sam, while the second one started asking Dean what had happened. Within ten minutes, they had loaded Sam onto the gurney and into the ambulance. Dean feared that they weren't going to let him ride along, but one of them ushered him into the back to sit next to his brother.
The ride to the hospital was definitely the calm before the storm, though. Once they arrived at the hospital, Sam had been whisked away from him in a blur of controlled chaos. No one even bothered to look at Dean at first, but eventually someone came out and started asking questions. He answered the questions as best as he could, telling them Sam's name, how old he was, and that he wasn't allergic to anything that he knew of. Of course, there were also questions that he had no idea how to answer. "Where are your parents? Why were you home alone? Who's taking care of you?"
Dean knew, even at the young age of nine, that they were walking a treacherous path. John Winchester always drilled it into his sons' heads that they were never to do anything that would draw undue attention to them. Calling an ambulance would definitely do just that and Dean knew it. But, he didn't really have a choice, did he?
By the time Bobby arrived, Sam was settled into a room on the pediatric ward and Dean was nestled in the bed with him. One of the nurses told Dean that he couldn't be in the bed with his brother, but neither Dean nor Sam paid attention to her. The minute Sam woke up and called out for his brother, Dean had climbed into the bed, curling his body protectively around his brother.
Bobby opened the door to find both boys sound asleep. Sam's face was covered in a sheen of sweat, his head resting on his brother's chest. Dean's right arm was curled around Sam's little body and his face was covered in a trail of dried tears. Bobby pulled a chair over to the side of the bed and watched the boys sleep for several minutes as he tried to come up with a good story of why Sam and Dean had been left alone. He knew that Child Protective Services had probably already been called, so he would have to do some major damage control. Not for the first time, he cursed John Winchester for leaving his boys alone.
Dean had been flooded with the memories of that long ago night and the days that followed, so he didn't realize that Dr. Porter had entered the room.
"Mr. Winchester? Mr. Winchester! Dean, can you hear me? Are you okay?"
Dean turned around to see the young doctor standing before him with a strange look on her face. He took a few deep breaths before trusting himself to talk without his voice shaking.
"I'm uh…. I'm fine," he finally answered. "How's Sammy?"
"Dean, I really don't think you're fine. You're shaking like a leaf. Maybe you should sit down for a minute."
"Really, I'm okay," Dean tried again. "Don't worry about me, worry about my brother."
Dr. Porter eyed him suspiciously before turning back to Sam. After several minutes, she cleared her throat, preparing herself to give Dean an update.
"Sam had a seizure," she stated matter of factly. "Mindy said that he had one once before? When he was five?"
"Yeah," Dean answered as he stared at his brother. "The doctor said it was because he had a really high fever."
"Well, he doesn't have a fever now. In fact, his body temperature is still a little on the low side of normal. And as far as you know, he doesn't have any other medical issues?"
Dean moved his gaze from his brother over to the doctor, wondering how much information to give her. Eventually, he decided to be as honest with her as he cautiously could be. "He has headaches sometimes. But, that's about it. He's pretty healthy."
"Okay, then…. We're going to load him up with some anti-seizure medication and continue to monitor him for now. I'd also like to get a CT scan of his head."
"Whatever he needs, Dr. Porter," Dean replied.
Dr. Porter turned back to Mindy, who was adjusting the blankets around Sam. "Mindy, could you also call maintenance for me? I don't think the thermostat is working in this room. It's so cold."
Dean's head shot up at her words and he looked anxiously around the room. Looking at Sam, he could see his breath hanging in the air, like a small plume of smoke that slowly dissipated. Dean quickly stepped over to his brother's side, prepared to do whatever it took to protect him. Just as he reached out to grab Sam's hand, he felt cold fingers wrapping around his throat again. This time, the fingers squeezed even tighter, causing him to gasp for breath.
"Dean? What's wrong?"
Dean's eyes widened in panic when he couldn't breathe. His fingers scrabbled at his neck, prying at the non-existent fingers that were cutting off his air and depriving him of the oxygen his body so desperately needed. Just as suddenly as it started, though, the squeezing stopped, causing him to fall to his knees as he gasped and sputtered to catch his breath.
"Dean, what happened?!" Dr. Porter asked as she ran forward to help him. Before he knew what was happening, someone was putting an oxygen mask on his face and checking his pulse and blood pressure.
"Slow down your breathing, Dean," someone was saying. "Take slow deep breaths."
Dean wanted to punch whoever was telling him to slow his breathing down. Couldn't they tell that he was trying to do just that?!
After several minutes, where the medical staff were focused on Dean and not Sam, Dean had had enough. Ripping off the oxygen mask, he pulled himself back to his feet, his breathing almost under control. "I'm fine," he tried to reassure the staff. "Check on Sam."
"Sam is fine, Dean. You're the one we're worried about right now. What happened?"
"I have no idea!" Dean yelled. "But, I'm fine!"
"Okay," Dr. Porter finally ceded the fight. "But if anything like that happens again, I'll have to insist on a full work-up." She was surprised when Dean gave her a short nod before turning back to Sam. She also couldn't help but be amazed at how stubborn he was.
By the time Sam finally woke up, Dean was sound asleep. Sam had no way of knowing this, but his brother had been by his side the whole day, leaving only to use the bathroom or whenever the medical staff kicked him out of the room. Dean had followed as they wheeled Sam's bed down to the radiology department for the CT scan. He stayed in a chair next to the bed as the phlebotomist took vial after vial of blood from Sam's arm. He even sat in the corner of the room when two nurses came in to give Sam his sponge bath.
Eventually, though, exhaustion had overtaken him without warning. One second, he had been sitting in a chair next to the bed, his eyes moving back and forth between the rise and fall of Sam's chest to the blip of his heartbeat on the monitor. The next second, he was sound asleep, his mouth hanging open slightly, his left hand tightly gripping Sam's. He would, of course, deny actually holding his brother's hand, if anyone ever questioned him about it.
He woke up sometime later to find Sam staring at him. "Sam? What time is it?"
"Almost five o'clock. You've been asleep for a few hours."
"How long have you been awake?" Dean asked. "And why didn't you wake me up?"
"You're just so cute when you sleep, Dean," Sam teased. "I didn't have the heart to wake you up."
"Shut up," Dean growled as he straightened himself up in the chair. "How are you feeling, dude?"
"Good, I guess. I keep getting chilled, but it usually only lasts for a few minutes. What happened, Dean?"
"You don't remember?"
"Not really. I remember going out to Stow Lake. I remember splitting up to check things out, but that's it. Everything else is just a blank."
Dean spent the next several minutes telling Sam what had happened. There were several blank spaces that only Sam could fill in, but Dean was able to explain most of it.
"So, someone…..something pulled me into the lake? And tried to kill me?"
"Well, I don't know if she was trying to kill you, but she definitely didn't want to give you back. In fact, she was pretty adamant about keeping you. I bet she'd change her mind if she knew how gassy you were."
Sam glared at his brother before continuing. "What do you mean she didn't want to give me back?"
"She didn't want to give you back, Sam. What do you think that means?" When Sam shot another glare at him, Dean decided to quit teasing. "Once I found you, I started swimming for the shore. But, something kept trying to pull you back under the water. I almost lost you several times, Sammy."
"But you didn't."
"But I almost did."
Sam knew how serious his brother was about protecting him. He also knew that Dean would blame himself to the point of utter annihilation if anything ever happened to his little brother on his watch.
"But you didn't. I'm here right now because of you, Dean. You saved me."
Dean looked closely at his brother for several long seconds. "That's enough of the chick-flick moments, Sammy."
"Fine," Sam agreed. "Then I guess we need to figure out what we're going to do."
"What do you mean? We're not going to do anything."
"We have to go back, Dean. We have to figure out a way to stop her before she gets to someone else."
"No way, Sam! You're not going back there. No way!"
"What?! Of course we're going back there. Dean, we have to finish the job."
"I'll finish the job, Sammy, but you're not going back there."
"And you're not going by yourself, Dean," Sam insisted.
"You almost died, Sam! I almost let you die and there's no way I'm risking that again. You need to go back to school."
"I'm not letting you go back to that lake by yourself."
"And I'm not letting you go with me," Dean nearly yelled.
"Dean, come on. We're a team, remember? We fight better as a team."
"We used to be a team, Sam. But, you left, remember?"
"No, Sam. I'm done talking about it. You chose school over hunting. Go back to school."
Author's note: I'm sorry about the long wait, folks. Life's been a bit busy lately and writing sometimes has to be put on the back burner, no matter how much I enjoy it. Thanks for being patient with me. I truly hope you enjoy the chapter, and as usual, I appreciate you taking the time to read and would love to hear your thoughts.
Btw, don't get too mad at Dean. He's just trying to protect his brother. ;)