A/N: Thank you everyone for reading and reviewing! I would like to offer a special thanks to TF,MD for her information andher lovely and delicious ideas on how bad a bite can get and all the terrible consequences. And to the hot nurse "Alex" for her lengthy explanations and awesome information! For those of you who are fans of the sport Dean discovers, count me as fan, too, but I have to tell you—on opiates? It's the best!
The ER was fairly quiet, as ERs went. No one was screaming, no one was sobbing, there were no doctors racing to a nearly dead patient. Sam was distracting himself by watching people through the small opening in the curtains. They had brought a woman with two black eyes into the cubicle next to Dean and her voice was carrying over the quiet ER.
"I need something for pain," she said in a harsh tone.
"We gave you something," a male voice answered. Sam had seen a man in scrubs go into the cubicle a few minutes before.
"I need something stronger. Give me morphine, I need morphine."
"The doctor wants to check you out first," the man answered reasonably.
"God damn it, give me morphine!" she yelled. Sam heard the sounds of a scuffle and someone yelling for security. He turned back to his brother, Dean had opened his eyes and was smiling a little.
"Fun," Dean said.
"Yeah," Sam said, trying to smile back. It was getting harder and harder to keep up the pretense. Dean's face was red, the swelling in his hand was getting worse by the minute. That's not the worst part. That's not what bothers me. He's been hurt before, he's been sick…So swelling and fever, yes, a worry, but not… The thing that really terrified Sam, was his brother had a death grip on his hand, holding on desperately like it was the only thing keeping him anchored.
"Why do you suppose they call them rooms?" Dean asked.
"Here, they called it a room, but it is only two walls with curtains…It's more like a…a…" He frowned in confusion.
"Like a cubicle?" Sam supplied the word he was sure Dean was looking for.
"Exactly." Dean shifted a little in the bed. "Can we go now?"
"Dean, they're admitting you, remember?" Sam said. We just talked about that. He's slipping.
"Yeah, right, just testing you, Sammy." Dean closed his eyes, Sam saw a spasm of pain cross his brother's face.
"Do you need anything?"
"Morphine, I need morphine, Sammy," Dean mumbled with a little laugh. He opened his eyes a crack and peered at Sam.
"I'm fine, Sammy, really," he said with a smirk. Sam looked at him, Dean had closed his eyes again, but there was definitely a smirk on his face.
"Yeah, Dean, you look fine." Dean does not do well when he has a fever. The higher it gets the more it affects him. I remember that time…
"Really, Sammy," Dean paused for a moment. "I'm okay." There was an odd worried note in Dean's voice that, to Sam, sounded nothing like his brother.
"You're holding my hand."
"There's a reason for that, Sammy," he said reasonably, still with the odd note in his voice.
"Oh?" Sam asked gently, trying to hide the note of concern, be honest it's almost panic, in his voice.
"The bed's spinning, Sammy." Again, Dean paused. "And if I let go, I'm afraid I'll fall off. I've already fallen once…Sammy." The worried tone was starting to sound a little panicked.
Sam frowned in concern. It's getting worse. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Just keep me from falling off, Sammy." Dean waited for a minute. "Sam?"
"It's bad, isn't it?"
"What do you mean? You're getting meds, you'll be fine."
"It's bad, Sam. I wasn't really sure until a minute ago," Dean said, opening his eyes.
"What are you talking about?" Sam asked, wondering what had happened in the last few seconds. "Dean? What's wrong?"
"You didn't correct me." The note of panic in Dean's voice had suddenly increased. What's going on with you, Dean? Sam was sure no one else would hear it, but he knew it was there.
"You didn't correct me," Dean repeated, like Sam should know what he was talking about. Sam shook his head. What do you mean? What's going on? Dean? What's wrong? His brother tightened the grip on his hand and sat up a little in the bed. Sam could sense real panic from Dean now. "You didn't correct me. Did they tell you something? Do you know something they didn't tell me?" Dean's eyes were wild in his fevered face.
"Dean, calm down, they haven't spoken to me at all," he said, standing and trying to push Dean back down on the bed. "Calm down, it's going to be okay." Should it be getting worse like this?
"No, it's bad, they all said it was bad and now, Sammy, you didn't correct me."
"Dean…" Suddenly it clicked, the repeated use of Sammy. "Dean," he forced a laugh. "I was just letting you talk, that's all." Sam tried to keep his voice calm. His brother was burning up, Sam could feel the heat radiating off of Dean from where he stood. It's bad, oh, god, it's bad.
Sam saw something odd in his brother's eyes for half a second and then Dean stopped struggling and leaned back in the bed with a sheepish grin. "Sorry." He shook his head. "Not sure what happened there." His voice was back to normal, the note of panic gone as if it had never been there.
"Dean?" Sam sat back down, pulling the chair closer. "What?"
"It must be the fever. You know I always get a little crazy with a fever," Dean said with a little smile. Sam noticed there was a worried frown on his brother's face.
"Yeah," Sam said gently, trying to stay calm for his brother's sake. I'm beginning to get worried. I just can't shake this feeling. I had it last night when the cat bit him.
A man shoved the curtain open. "Hi, I'm Dave, I'm going to take you to your room," he said, smiling at Dean.
"What the hell kind of hospital is this?" Dean asked, rolling glassy eyes at Sam.
"All the nurses, they're dudes. How can I recover? You need to transfer me quick. Must have hot nurses to survive."
"Shut up." Sam gave Dean's hand a little squeeze and stood.
"The doctor wants to talk with you," Dave said to Sam. "We'll get him settled in and then you can come back, he'll be in room thirteen."
"Male nurses and room 13, this place must be cursed," Dean muttered.
"It's okay, Dean," Sam said, giving his shoulder a little pat. "I'll talk to the doctor and then be right back, okay?"
"Get yourself something to eat or coffee or something, Sam, before you come check on me."
"It's Sam," he said, watching Dean smile at the response. "I'll be back in a few minutes."
"Yep," Dean waved as they wheeled him out of the little room.
Sam collected Dean's jacket from the chair and stood waiting in the cubicle for a minute longer before a tall woman came in. "I'm Dr. Knight. I just have a few questions for you."
"Sure, doc. What?" Are you actually going to ask me a question? Or tell me something awful? He's getting worse, isn't he?
"Is you brother's immune system normal?" she asked, looking at the clipboard in her hands.
"Yes," Sam answered.
"Yes, I'm sure," Sam said firmly.
"Hmm," she said with a little doctor frown. "Your cat has had its shots?"
"It wasn't our cat."
"Oh." She scribbled something on the paper. "Do you know if it had its rabies shots?"
"Uh…" Sam said.
"We need to know if we should start treatment. Rabies treatments aren't fun. Rabies from a cat bite is not very common, but it is always something to worry about." She gave him the calm doctor look.
"I'm sure it had its shots, but I'll see if I can find the cat," Sam said urgently. "Will Dean be okay?" Say yes, please say yes.
"I'm sure he will." Again the calm smile. Somehow, doc, I'm not convinced.. "He'll probably be here for a day or two," she said a little absently as she made notes on the clipboard. She looked up and smiled at him. "He'll be settled in a little just a little while, you should get something to eat."
Sam watched her go. Everyone wants me to eat. Why do they think I can? He followed the exit signs into the lobby and stood there unsure where to go. Sam noticed a sign "patient's rooms" with an arrow and turned in that direction. As he walked out of the ER and into the main part of the hospital, he smelled coffee. He veered off and stopped at the espresso stand outside the gift shop. Sam ordered and waited as the barista made his coffee.
Something in the gift shop caught his eye, and as soon as he got his coffee he wandered into the small shop. He smiled at the woman behind the counter and walked over to the collection of plush animals in the corner. He picked up the small wolf-looking dog and his smile widened.
"What's this, Sammy?" his eleven-year-old brother had asked when Sam came in the room with the package clutched in his hands.
"It's something to keep you company while you're here, Dean," he said, handing Dean the gift.
Dean opened it and smiled as he set the small plush animal on the tray by the bed. "I'm sure he will," Dean said gently.
"Dad said you had to be here for another day," Sam said as he perched on the edge of the bed.
"Yeah, but I'll be okay, Sammy."
"Promise." Dean patted his leg with a hand that seemed much too hot to Sam.
Sam took the dog over to the counter, the woman offered to gift wrap it and Sam accepted, watching her as she did it. He smiled when she handed him the package and walked out of the shop, heading towards the patient rooms.
The TV was on in Dean's room. Sam heard the dry voice of an announcer from the TV and his brother's laughter. He pushed the door open. "Dean?"
His brother glanced over at him with a grin on his face. "Curling rocks!"
"What?" Sam said, walking over to the bed.
"Curling," Dean said slowly, like he was explaining something to an idiot. "You know, curling?"
Sam looked up at the TV, a commercial was playing, but the words "Canadian Curling Championshipscurrent standings" were running across the bottom of the screen. "Curling, Dean?"
"Best sport ever," his brother said with a laugh.
"Did they give you pain meds?" Sam said, shaking his head as he sat in the chair by the bed.
"Oh, hell yeah." Dean smiled at him. "I flipped around for a bit, found that fabric softener teddy bear, a Mexican soap with a really hot chick but it went to commercial, then a food show about how they make American cheese—gross—and I was getting ready to give up when I found curling."
"Curling?" Sam said, laughing a little at Dean's enthusiasm.
"Yep," Dean laughed.
"Do you have any idea what's going on?"
"Nope, but it's the best sport ever." Dean grinned. "What's that?"
"Oh," Sam put the package on the tray over the bed. "I found this for you."
"Thanks." Dean reached up to open the gift.
"My god, Dean!" Sam said, shocked.
Dean looked down at his right hand. It was red and swollen, the whole hand, to almost twice its normal size. "It feels worse than it looks," Dean said, still grinning. "And check this out." Dean bent his index finger and green ooze popped out from the small holes on his index finger. "Cool, huh?"
"Not funny, Dean."
"It's a little funny, Sammy." He fumbled at the paper for a minute. "Can you give me a hand?" Dean chuckled. "Give me a hand," he said, under his breath, still laughing. Sam smiled and tore the paper from the gift. Dean smiled when the little dog tumbled onto the bed. "Hey, it's Killer." Dean picked the toy up and looked at it. "Well, Killer if he had a bath and a little surgery to fix that missing leg. Remember that time I had pneumonia when I was sixteen and you brought him to the hospital?"
"And the nursing staff kept trying to take him away?"
"They said he wasn't sanitary." Dean shook his head.
"He probably wasn't." Sam said with a laugh.
"Probably not. Thanks, Sam. Hey, it's back on! I think the yellow guys are winning."
Sam looked up at the TV. "You think?"
"Oh, here they go, wait for it…wait for it…" Dean started laughing. "Isn't this the best?"
"Dean…" Sam couldn't help but smile as Dean laughed.
"Yeah?" Dean looked over at him.
"I need to leave for a little while…"
"Why?" Dean cut him off.
"I need to see if I can find that cat. If not, they'll have to give you rabies injections."
"Like Ozzy?" Dean grinned. "Me and Ozzy."
"I think it would be better to miss the injections, Dean. They're supposed to be really painful."
"Oh, maybe you should find the cat." Dean's eyes drifted back to the TV. Sam stood and turned to go. "Sam?"
"Don't be gone too long, okay?" Dean said, frowning at him.
Sam walked back to the bed and patted Dean's shoulder. "I won't, Dean. You just enjoy the curling. I'll need to know the score when I get back."
"Right," Dean smiled. "Sam…"
"I'll be back soon, Dean. Promise."
"Be careful with the car."
"I will." Sam gave Dean's shoulder a last pat and walked out of the room. He stopped by the nurse's station on his way out, giving them his cell number in case of an emergency and then walked out through the ER to the car. Once at the car he stopped for a minute, his hands shaking. Oh, god he looks terrible. His hand—shouldn't it be getting better? Or at least not getting worse? Sam opened the door and dropped into the car. He let his head rest on the back of the seat. I need to get going. He took a deep breath and put his hands on the wheel, turning the engine over and letting the familiar growl of the Impala calm his nerves.
He eased the car out of the tight parking spot, the small spaces were not made for the Impala and getting out was a bit of a trick. Sam watched each side, dreading even the tiniest scratch. Dean would murder me. Sam turned onto the road and headed to the outskirts of town where they had been the night before. I hope I can find that cat. All Dean needs are rabies shots. Sam sighed. His brother was rarely ill. He could count on one hand the number of times Dean had been sick. Injured yes, almost fatally once or twice, but never sick. And he gets bad with a fever, they always get high and then he gets a little paranoid. I remember that time he hit dad. Sam smiled a little remembering his father rubbing his jaw with a shocked look on his face. Of course, Dean nearly died that time. We let it go too long. But this time, I think we caught it in time.
Sam pulled up in front of the house, the wheels crunching over broken dishes. He walked up in the porch, and after glancing around, opened the front door and stepped into the hallway. Where would it be? I have to find it and get back to Dean. I wonder how long they let it go before they start treatment? Sam walked through the house to the kitchen, planning on starting there in his search for the cat. The cupboard door where Dean found the hand was still open. Sam crouched down and looked under the sink, no cat. I guess expecting it to come back here was a long shot. Now what? He opened some of the other cupboard doors. In the shelves by the stove were the remains of a half-eaten mouse, still fairly fresh.
When he has exhausted all possibilities in the kitchen, he moved on through the house. The rooms were still furnished. There were pictures on the walls and on the bookshelves. Sam picked one up off a small piano in the living room, a smiling couple and a fat cat. Looks like the one that bit Dean. Sam put the photo down and walked into the next room. It was a small office, a wood-tone file cabinet against the wall. Sam opened the top drawer, it was still full of papers. I guess what the cops didn't take when she was murdered was left here, no one came and claimed it. Of course, she didn't die all that long ago. Sam closed the first drawer and opened the second and then the bottom drawer.
One file folder was labeled "Fluffers," Sam pulled it out and opened it, it was full of pictures and vet records. Sam recognized the cat that had bitten Dean. He flipped through the pages and found what he was looking for, vaccination records, including rabies. Sam breathed a sigh of relief. Thank god. That didn't take long and I can get back to Dean. He pulled the records out of the file and then stuck the folder back in the drawer.
As Sam walked out of the house, his foot caught something under the edge of the couch. He glanced down at it. What's that? Sam picked it up, a round golden locket on a broken chain. He put it carefully on a shelf and walked out of the house. The cat tore past him and he walked to the car, heading back towards the house. It dove under the porch and disappeared from site. Must have a way in down there.
The lot was busy when Sam pulled up at the hospital. He parked the car and headed in. Dean's doctor was standing talking to the nurses. She turned as Sam approached.
"Mr. Stummer," she said as he walked up to her.
"Sam." He smiled. "I have the vaccination records for Fluffers."
"Oh, good, one less thing to worry about." She had the calm doctor look pasted on her face. That's not a good sign. Sam looked over at the nurses, they were smiling the calm smile at him too.
Without warning his heart started pounding, panic suddenly flaring in his chest. "What's wrong?" he asked, holding his breath, waiting for a denial. Something's wrong, they only get that calm if something is really, really wrong.
It didn't come. "Your brother…" The doctor sighed.
"What?" Sam took a deep breath and smiled his best imitation of their calm smiles. "Tell me what's going on."
"He's not responding as well as we hoped," the doctor said.
"What?" What? Isn't that the way doctors say "going from bad to worse"?
"His fever is increasing." The doctor frowned for an instant.
"Doctor?" I saw the frown, what does that mean?
She shook her head and then smiled at him again. "We're treating him for it. Someone will be in to check on him very soon. He was asking for you, he was agitated."
"He gets that way with a fever," Sam said before heading to Dean's room. He opened the door. Oh, god, Dean. His brother was laying very still, just a sheet over him, naked shoulders were sticking out from under the sheet. Dean's face was red. His swollen hand had been propped up on a pillow. "Hey, Dean."
"Sammy, you're back," Dean said opening his eyes and looking at Sam. His brother's eyes were glassy and unfocused. "The yellow guys are in the lead. More tomorrow."
"Yellow guys?" Sam asked, confused for a minute. "Oh, the curling. How do you feel?"
Dean smiled. "I feel great, ready to go anytime."
"I found the records for the cat, no injections for you."
"Damn and I wanted to be like Ozzy," Dean said hazily.
"They gave me something."
"For the fever?"
"I guess so." Dean was quiet for a minute. "Sam?"
"What is it, Dean?" Sam leaned forward, concerned. Dean looked distressed.
"They put the remote by my right hand," Dean said sadly.
Sam smiled and grabbed the remote. "What do you want to watch?"
"Anything but a documentary." Dean chuckled a little. "Unless it's 'Heavy: the Story of Metal' or 'The Decline of Western Civilization: The Metal Years'."
"How many times have you seen those?" Sam asked as he flipped through the limited stations on the TV. He stopped on a local station playing reruns of "The Simpsons."
"Good choice," Dean said. "Hey, it's the one with Spinal Tap."
"You know that in the first three seconds?"
"Of course, Sammy." Dean shook his head. "Don't you?"
"You need to get educated," Dean said with a smirk.
They were quiet as they watched, Dean laughing softly once or twice. Sam kept an eye on his brother. A nurse came in every fifteen minutes and left again. She always smiled. Each time the smile got calmer and more compassionate. Every time she left, Sam would look at his brother. Dean had grown quiet during the second episode. Sam knew the minute Dean stopped sweating. He put his hand on Dean's forehead.
Dean opened his eyes. "Sammy?"
"It's okay, Dean." Should I get the nurse? No she'll be back in about five minutes. Sam's stomach grumbled.
Dean grinned a little. "Have you eaten?" When Sam didn't say anything Dean frowned. "Sam?"
"Go get something," Dean said softly, letting his eyes close again. "I'll be okay, you won't be gone long." He smiled. "Maybe the hot nurse will be back if you leave."
Sam rolled his eyes. "Of course." He hesitated, not wanting to leave. His stomach rumbled again. "Okay, Dean, I'll be right back. The cafeteria is just down the hall."
"It's okay, Sam, I'm not going anywhere."
Sam wandered down the hall towards the smell of food. It was a small hospital, everything on one level. The cafeteria was down the hall from Dean's room on the other side of the main lobby. It was mostly empty, a few people sitting at tables. Some talking quietly, one woman was staring into a cup of coffee, tears running down her face. Sam ordered a sandwich and headed back to towards Dean's room. As he rounded the corner he noticed staff running down the hall. His walk became a sprint when he realized they were running towards Dean's room. Oh my god, what's going on? Dean? What's happening?
"SAM!" Dean's voice echoed down the hall. "SAM!"
Sam ran in the door to Dean's room. Two large women were holding Dean down, another was trying to fasten restraints on his legs. Dean was struggling against them, screaming Sam's name.
The doctor looked up at Sam, the calm was completely absent from her face. "Talk to him."
Sam tried to get to the bed, shoving against one of the women who were holding Dean down. "Dean, I'm here." What's going on?
"They're…it's…Sammy…please, Sam, get me out of here," Dean was sobbing, trying to free himself from the women, trying to pull his left hand out of the restraints.
"It's okay, Dean." It's the fever, it's starting to get to him. Sam looked at the doctor. "Does he have to be restrained? It'll make it worse, trust me." He panics in restraints, it's one of the only things that actually panics him.
"If he calms down, we can take them off."
"Help me, Sam, please." Dean's eyes were wild, his face bright red and dry. "Sam, please," he said, a desperate note in his voice, still struggling against the restraints.
"Dean, it's okay, it's okay," Sam said, putting a hand on Dean's head. His brother was burning up. Out of the corner of his eye, Sam saw the doctor push a syringe into the line in Dean's hand. Dean started relaxing.
"Sam?" His eyes closed.
"Doctor?" Sam said, looking up at the woman. "What's going on?"
"Mr. Strummer," she began.
"Sam," he snapped his name back at her. "What's going on?" Just tell me. How bad is it?
She swallowed. "I…" The calm was gone, it had not reappeared.
"Doc?" Sam asked, trying to stay calm, but feeling panic flaring full blown in his chest.
"I don't know."
"Will he be okay?" He has to be, you're giving him antibiotics, right? You gave him something for the fever, right?
She shook her head minutely. "I'm sorry."
"What?" What? WHAT?
"We're doing our best, Sam," she said gently. The compassion was there in her eyes, not calm, but sympathy. Oh, god no. She gestured at the other women and they left the room.
Sam looked down at his brother, his hands had started shaking and his heart was thudding against his ribcage in a staccato beat. "Dean? You're supposed to be getting better." He walked around to the left side of the bed and took his brother's hand in his, trying to still the shaking of his own, in case Dean could feel it. Sam gave his brother's hand a squeeze.
"You actually had the good sense to get help in time for a change. You're supposed to be getting better. Dean…"Sam sighed sadly, trying to ignore the warring panic and hopelessness in his chest. "Don't you dare do something stupid like die on me." Dean still wasn't sweating, his face was red, Sam could feel heat coming off of his brother in waves.
Oh god, Dean. This is supposed to be simple. It's a cat bite, Dean, just a cat bite, from a cat named Fluffers. Are you going to let something named Fluffers do this to you?
Please, Dean, please hang on.
To Be Continued