Usual disclaimer applies. God, if they were mine ...
Set after Fresh Blood, not as a tag but does reference the awesome brotherly moments in that episode.
"9-1-1. What is your emergency?"
"My son's not breathing! Please! Help me!"
"Okay, ma'am, we'll dispatch help to you. Please confirm your address."
"35 McMillan Street, Livingston. Please, hurry!"
"We are, ma'am. How old is your son?"
"Four. Please! Help us!"
"Does he have any medical problems?"
"Well, he has a rash but the doctor said he was okay. And now he just stopped breathing!"
"Was he choking?"
"No! He was asleep. My husband went to check on him and - oh god! Please, help us!"
"Paramedics are on their way, ma'am. Have you tried CPR?"
"My husband is. He's been breathing for him for more than five minutes! Oh god! Oh god! Oh - "
"Stay calm, ma'am. What's your name?"
"Okay, Julia. Listen to me. Tell me what your husband is doing. Is your son responding?"
"No! My husband is an air steward - he knows what he's doing. Brady's just not doing anything! He's cold and pale and - oh god!"
"The paramedics are just a few minutes - "
Sam stopped the recording and shuddered, groaning in dismay. "I can't listen to any more of that."
"No." Dean agreed quietly, staring at the shiny silver laptop in horror. He watched his brother rise from the small table and cross the room. Seeing Sam bow his head and pinch the bridge of his nose and noting the heavy sink of his brother's shoulders, Dean sighed in agreement. "It's always worse when it's kids."
Sam turned back, his mouth tight and his eyes bright with tears. Clearing his throat, he edged slowly back towards the table and the pile of research that was scattered around his open laptop.
"And the EVP?" Dean nodded towards the computer.
Sam paused for a moment before then leaning across the table and keying in a succession of commands. The media files were slowed and separated, isolating the odd interference in the background of the audio. Played back in the new format a slurred, grainy voice could be heard; a sound so very unearthly that the pair of them shuddered in revulsion and fear.
"ALL … FALL … DOWN … !"
"Fuck …" Dean whispered, letting his eyes close.
Sam stopped the program and slammed the laptop shut in disgust. Reaching up, he then buried both hands into his hair and pressed his head back, moaning wearily.
"This is the fourth kid?"
Looking back down and nodding in confirmation, Sam dared returning to his seat and took a deep breath. "All the same. Strange illness that seems simple. Parents put the kids to bed, check on them later and find them - " A frown wrinkled his eyebrows tight together and he shook his head. "Y'know …"
"Awful …" Dean groaned, turning the pages of the report in front of him. "And they're saying it's what … ? Chicken pox … ?" He watched Sam give a mixture of a nod and a shrug, indicating his skepticism. "Even though these kids were immunized?"
Sam's face was tight with worry and he offered another uncertain nod, searching his brother's face for some sign that Dean had seen an alternative reason within the information they had gathered.
Checking his watch and his frown deepening as he saw it was almost 3 am, Dean dragged a hand through his hair and let his fist rest at the nape of his neck. "So … it's not like the Shtriga we dealt with before …" He yawned as he furrowed through the various papers and shook his head slightly. "I mean … those kids were in comas with pneumonia but - "
"These ones are infected with something."
Dean heard the tension in Sam's quiet voice and flicked his head up quickly, watching his upset brother for a second. "We'll get to the bottom of this, Sammy. We'll stop it." He saw Sam was not consoled by his sleepy bravado and it made his heart sink. "Hey … I know, man. It's tough but - "
"No. I'm okay." Sam stood again quickly, knocking the table with his thigh and almost toppling the open beer bottles and half filled coffee mugs that were interspersed through their research. "I'm just tired." He sank onto the foot end of one of the narrow beds and hung his head, sighing out a loud moan.
"Yeah …" Dean kept his eyes on Sam for a moment, worry tightening his face. He then looked back at the books and papers piled before him and suddenly yawned wearily. "Another full night of research won't keep us sharp, I guess." His heavy eyelids began to droop and he edged his chair back across the thin carpet and stood slowly, arching his back and spreading his arms wide as another yawn took hold.
"We gotta find this thing, Dean."
Letting his arms drop to his side and turning to face Sam, Dean saw the anger that flashed across his brother's tired eyes. He nodded quietly and moved towards his own bed, rolling his head around on his shoulders and sighing loudly. "We will." Flopping face down onto his bed and toeing off his boots, Dean hugged his pillow around his head and gave another yawn.
Sam watched his brother sinking quickly and easily to sleep and he gave a small, envious smile. Dean's ability to catch whatever rest he could, in whatever place he could, was something Sam had never been able to emulate. And this night was a particular example; tired but his mind alive with noise and worry, he got to his feet and wiped a hand across his face as he made his way back to the table of research.
Waking to the strong aroma of coffee was something he never grew weary of. Lifting his head and sniffing in a lung full of the scent, Dean rolled onto his side and smiled happily. His legs caught in the folds of the thick blanket that Sam had evidently thrown over him and Dean frowned as he looked beneath the blue wool and saw he was still fully dressed.
"There is a line, Dean."
Dean looked across the room and saw his brother watching him in amusement. He shrugged and a mischevious grin pulled at his mouth.
"Don't even go there." Sam sighed and shook his head softly before sipping at his coffee. He held out the second cup he had brought over and watched his brother clamber from the bed and stretch out his aching limbs with a loud yawn.
"Man!" Dean shivered suddenly, "It's cold in here."
Sam nodded and glanced towards the brightness beyond the think closed curtains. "It snowed last night."
"Really?" Dean took a gulp of coffee before sinking back onto his bed and pulling the blanket around his shoulders. "Must be minus forty in here!" He protested, shuddering dramatically.
"Yeah. Our heater's kinda broke. I spoke to the manager about it."
"Jeez!" Dean snuggled further inside the thick blanket and frowned in annoyance. "It'd be warmer in the car."
Sam smiled and stood to cross to the table and begin packing up their research. "Actually, that's kinda the plan."
"I had the scanner on while you were snoring just now." Sam explained, his shoulders heavy and his voice quiet.
"Oh crap …" Dean groaned in dismay. "Not another one …?"
"Yeah." Sam took a deep breath and sighed out a tight moan. "Laurel. A few miles from here." He turned and his face was clouded with weary sorrow. "Holly Burgess, 7 years old. EMS took her to the BigHorn County Memorial a couple of hours ago."
Dean took in the news in silence, watching his brother in obvious concern. "Dude. Did you get any sleep?"
Sam sighed and turned his attention back to clearing away papers, books and his idling laptop. "I figure go see the town, speak to the locals, scan for EMF and - "
"Check her house for sulphur."
Glancing back, Sam gave a small shrug of uncertainty.
"What?" Dean stood slowly, keeping his blanket pulled in close around his body. "I'm not the only one thinking it. Right?" He edged round the table to look at his brother's tight face. "I mean, we're pretty damned close to ground zero here. And these kids sure sound like they're coming down with some kind of plague."
"Yeah." Sam whispered, nodding slightly.
"What?" Dean frowned, "You don't think so?"
"No, Dean. It's exactly what I'm thinking!" Sam shouted in fury, flinging his collection of photocopied pages across the table with a low growl.
Dean paused in uncertainty, taken aback by the sudden flash of anger and then the quick return of his brother's remorse.
Sam groaned and closed his eyes, sinking heavily into one of the chairs beside the table. "God, Dean … this is all because of us …"
Lost for words, Dean pulled his blanket tighter around him and shuddered as a sudden icy chill ran through the core of him.
"I mean …" Sam wiped a hand across his face and took a deep breath. "The gate opened and … with what we've seen already … to think what else might have gotten out and now …" He lifted his head and pointed to the scattered research. "Now these kids …"
Dean was unprepared for the depth of sorrow in his brother's eyes and he held his breath as Sam looked up at him. Clearing his throat, he edged closer and gave a small shrug. "I know, Sammy but - "
Sam scoffed a slight laugh and shook his head firmly. "Give me any of that not being able to save everyone crap and I swear I'll start throwing punches!"
Flinching back, Dean frowned and swallowed back the sudden lump in his throat. "Actually, I was gonna suggest calling Bobby in to help on this one."
His fury fading, Sam nodded and turned away from his brother. "Yeah … "
Trying to ignore the unpredictable bursts of emotion that would suddenly fire from his brother of late, Dean bravely shrugged off his blanket and headed towards the bathroom. "I'm gonna take a shower to try and warm up." He paused at the door and glanced back. "Maybe you could start the car and get her heaters going?"
Sam nodded quietly and grabbed his jacket before heading for door.
Dean watched his brother collect the keys and hurry out into the icy morning, an uneasy frown shadowing his pale face. It took a long moment to convince himself that this was normal Sammy brooding and not an ominous sign of yet more changes to his usually so predictable brother.