The Clinic

By: Laura's eyes

Dean Winchester groaned as his bare feet shuffled across the cold linoleum floor, entering the kitchen of the apartment they had now been calling home for over six months. Strangely, he liked it here in Hell's Kitchen, New York. The crappy weather was a bitch and the house wasn't anything spectacular but he still liked it, felt like for once he fit in at his new school so it wasn't all bad.

His father was where he could be found most mornings at 5:30 am, seated at the small rickety dinner table reading the newspaper and drinking a mug of steaming coffee. John's eyebrows knitted into a frown as his eldest plunked himself sluggishly down on the chair across from him, resting his head against his hand and his elbow on the table. Dean was never up this early.

The fifteen-year-old looked worse than he had the previous night. It didn't surprise John at all. He had seen this coming. If one of his kids came down with something, the other was never far behind. Sammy had been sent home from school two days before with a nasty flu virus that was going around. John had known without a doubt that his other boy would be next, germs loved Dean.

The kid looked as if his hair had been combed with an egg beater, the front plastered to his clammy forehead with sweat, while the rest stood up in sporadic spikes. If John hadn't known better he'd have thought Dean had been out on a week long bender. The teens face was pasty white but his cheeks were flushed a rosy red. His green eyes were heavy and shadowed underneath by a purplish, bruised appearance that popped out of nowhere every time he got sick.

John was immediately on high 'parent alert' he was concerned by the way Dean seemed to be working hard to breathe, his shoulders almost around his ears with each inhale and the strange croaking, although sadly familiar, sound that could be heard clearly in the quiet room - almost like it was a chore to breathe instead of a life necessity. John also noted that although the congested boy was dressed in only his favourite AC/DC boxers, he was sweating. If anything, John had thought that the house was cold, and had been planning on turning up the heat mere minutes before.

"I really don't think it would be wise to send me to school today, Dad." Cough cough cough.

Dean's voice came out hoarse and breathy. He winced at the painful burn in his throat whenever he attempted to swallow and he really wished he could breathe through his stuffy nose. It was completely blocked, his nasal passages no longer in business, which forced him to leave his mouth hanging open in order to pull in a breath. This is all Sammy's fault, friggin' germ magnet!

"I'll infect all the other kids. I'm just cough cough cough thinkin' of them," Dean sniffed, dragging the back of his hand across his nose before sneezing wetly into the crook of his elbow.

"Do ya' really want me cough cough to be held responsible for startin' an epidemic?" he took a tight wheezy breath, that made John cringe.

"We'll get lynched - you know what the cough cough cough cough … the folks around here are like! It's chock full of crazies!" another sneeze shook his shivery frame.

John continued to study his sickly son, trying to keep the amused look off his face at Dean's attempt at making sure he got the day off school, as if John would even consider sending him when he was obviously ill in the first place. He was about to speak when Dean continued.

"Plus, ya' know how I get dad," he yawned, then continued, using Sam's perfected puppy dog eyes on his father. He had used them before, but they had yet to work. He had no clue how his brother managed to pull it off every time.

"Even a friggin' cold always goes right cough cough right into my chest, never mind a nasty flu like this." He coughed again, wincing when phlegm crackled its way up his swollen throat, leaving behind a faint wheeze. He could tell it had already taken up residence in his lungs. Super, he thought sarcastically. He could never just get the regular flu like everyone else; it always had to mutate until his lungs filled up with junk so bad it usually left him liable for a hospital stay, or hours waiting in a run-down, crappy excuse for a free clinic so he could get a breathing treatment and antibiotics.

"And we've got that hunt in Texas coming up next week. I gotta be at the top of my game, so if I rest up now I'm sure I'll be good to go by then," Dean insisted, coughing again. The sound resembled a barking seal and he rubbed at his tight chest while keeping his half-lidded eyes on his father. There was no way he'd make it through a whole school day like this. He was exhausted just trying to get a decent breath.

"Are you done?" John asked, raising an eyebrow.

Dean folded his arms across his chest and slumped back in the chair. He just wanted to go back to bed and die in peace.

"If you would have let me get a word in edgewise, you could have been back in bed five minutes ago," John sighed, getting up from his seat and moving towards his son. Dean tutted when the palm of his father's large hand covered his forehead, while the other rested on the back of his neck, sending a shiver up his spine.

"You're burnin' up, dude," his dad informed him, stating the obvious. "Get back to bed. I'm gonna call the school and then go pick up some medicine and groceries. I won't be long." he thought for a second, knowing his eldest wouldn't like what he was about to say. " But Dean if you get any worse, we'll need to go visit the clinic son." John knew his boy hated anything to do with doctors or hospital, both of his kids did, but sometimes seeking medical help was unavoidable.

Dean just groaned in response, his throat too sore to bother answering and hauled himself up off the seat and back up the stairs.

His room was still mostly dark, lit up slightly by the early morning light beginning to seep through the large window. Glancing outside, he wasn't surprised to see that it was still snowing. Sam lay sprawled on his back in the bed just across from Dean's. The Eleven-year-old was tangled up in his duvet, his Batman pyjama-clad leg hanging off the bed, nearly touching the floor. Dean snorted with laughter at the state his little brother's hair was in. Sammy had wild hair at the best of times, but right now it looked like it was capable of growing legs and walking off his head. Dean had been terrified during the previous night when Sam was delirious with fever, but he seemed to be on the road to recovery now.

Dean coughed again, wincing at the loud rattle in his chest. He leaned over to scoop up his jeans that he had thrown on the floor by his bed the night before and rummaged in the pockets for his inhaler. After two quick hits, he tossed it on his bedside table. Yawning, he climbed into bed, pleased that it was still warm. Shivering his teeth chattered as he rolled onto his side, facing his brother and pulled the duvet tight around himself to keep the heat in. The room was filled with the sounds of Sam's soft, snuffling snores, and he could hear a faint drip drip drip drip coming from the corner of the room. He figured there was a leak in the roof again. Awesome

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John was glad that he had a new Visa in his wallet with a few hundred limit, thanks to Bobby and one of his new scams. John had planned to keep this specific card handy for medical emergencies and things they might need in a hurry, and as far as he was concerned, his kids being sick fell into that category. They needed medicine and decent food. Hell, they needed to be staying somewhere better than the dump they where currently hauled up in.

It was no wonder they were ill in the first place. The two-bedroom apartment was cold and draughty, not to mention damp. John grimaced every time he found a new mold patch on one of the walls. It was no place for his kids, especially Dean with his bad chest, but right now, he had no choice.

They had to lay low. Child Protective Services were already on John's back. A few months before, Sam turned up at school with a broken arm caused by a fall from a tree swing, followed by Dean a few days later, who had collapsed during a gym class from badly bruised ribs. He had failed to mention to his dad that he had received the injuries the night before when an angry spirit had tossed him down a flight of stairs. After CPS appeared at their motel door accusing John of child neglect and abusing his own children, John had bundled the boys in the impala and took off in the middle of the night. The apartment was cheap and out of the way, John had to take all he could get.

The scruffy hunter gathered up two glasses and filled them with the last of the orange juice. He sat the full glasses on a tray he had managed to find buried in the back of one of the cupboards and after rummaging around in his duffel bag, he sat the digital thermometer and bottle of Children's Tylenol Plus Flu on the tray. He had bought it a couple of days earlier when Sam first spiked a fever, remembering his son preferred the bubble gum-flavored one. He doubted it would help Dean any, but it would at least stop his fever from climbing any higher. He would probably need something stronger, but it would do for now until he could get to the pharmacy.

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The door creaked open as John balanced the tray in his hands, trying his best to keep the OJ from spilling.

A still half-asleep Sam heard his dad open the door and was instantly awake, yawning and stretching himself out, before scratching frantically at his tangled mop of hair. He looked over to see Dean bundled under his covers asleep, only the top of his hair poking out from the mass of blankets. He wasn't surprised to see his big brother was in bed. He had heard him up half the night coughing and spluttering.

"Mornin', champ," John smiled in a hushed tone, so as not to disturb his other son. Setting the tray at the foot of Sam's bed, he moved forward to feel his son's forehead. "How you feelin'?"

"Okay, I guess," Sam replied, his voice still rough and nasally.

"You're a lot cooler than last night," John said, handing the yawning boy one of the orange juices. Sam accepted it gratefully. His mouth and throat felt bone dry, he relished the soothing feeling it was having on his sore throat. John picked up the thermometer and stuck it in Sam's ear while he sipped at his drink.

"Much better," John smiled, glancing at the small window on the thermometer which read 101.2 Sam still had a fever but it was much better than it had been the night before. John had been ready to rush his listless son to the nearest ER when his fever suddenly broke.

"Dean's sick, too. He was up all night coughin' and stuff," Sam said, yawning again and placing the now half-drunk glass of juice on his beside table, pulling the blankets up around himself again.

"I know, buddy," John answered, pouring the Tylenol out onto a spoon and pushing it towards his son's flushed face. Sam accepted it readily, knowing it would make him feel better, but winced as it hurt his throat on the way down.

John got up and walked over to Dean's bed, setting his glass of juice on his bedside table. He eyed the inhaler before gently pulling the mountain of blankets down from around the teens neck. John could feel the heat radiating from Dean's damp skin without even touching him. More hair had plastered to his forehead, where John could see beads of sweat had formed. Shit.

"Dean?" John said shaking his son's shoulder slightly.

No response.

"Hey, kiddo, I need you to wake up for a minute and take some of this medicine," he said a bit louder worry creeping into his words. The x-marine frowned, his heart speeding up a little when the fifteen-year-old didn't stir.

John felt uneasy at hearing the way his boy's breath was sawing in and out. Dean flinched when his ear was assaulted with the thermometer. He swung around onto his back, coughing and throwing an arm over his eyes.

"cough cough cough... Mmmh... cough cough.. don't wanna go to school... cough cough cough.. school today, Dad." cough cough cough cough cough " Don't.. cough cough..don't feel well.."

John swallowed hard at his sons words, his worry escalating be the second. Looking at the thermometer his heart thudded violently in his chest 103.1. Not good, not good at all. He was a little shocked at how fast Dean had seemed to deteriorate since he had seen him downstairs. He was pulled from his thoughts when Dean launched into a brutal coughing fit, making a horrible whooping sound as he struggled to inhale.

"Dad?" Sam shouted in panic, springing from his bed at the sounds of distress from his brother.

John gripped under Dean's arms and sat him upright, frantically patting his back in hope of loosening some of the congestion clogging up his son's bronchial passages.

"That's it, son, come on, cough it all up. That's it, good boy," John coached as Dean continued to cough and wheeze. The high-pitched, whooping noise Dean was making when he pulled in a breath was scaring John. He had heard it before, when Dean was six-months-old and came down with whooping cough (or was it croup?) for the first time. But it couldn't be that, could it? Wasn't it only babies and toddlers who got that?

"Sam, go to the bathroom and turn the shower on as hot as it'll go, then close the door. Don't let the steam out, son, okay?" Sam stood pale-faced and trembling, but as soon as his father spoke his order, he took off towards the bathroom.

"Dean, hey," John said, patting his son's back again and turning slightly to see his face. Dean was lethargic and his eyes were glassy and unfocused.

"I'm gonna get you in the steam, okay, kiddo? See if that helps ya' breathe better okay - If not we'll get you to the clinic, deal?" Dean just grunted and continued coughing.

John was worried even more that his son hadn't protested against needing medical attention. Hurriedly gathering the teens fevered body into his arms, he rushed him into the bathroom, praying that it would work.

TBC...