Like A Fish with No Water
Summary: Dean has an asthma attack while he and Sam are on a hunt at an abandoned summer camp.
Author's Note: This was already posted once before under Megan Casady (I've changed my penname), but I deleted it (sorry!). I felt bad about taking the story down, so I'm just reposting. You may have already read this.
This story was written for lauras-eyes, who requested an adult Dean Bricks!verse fic.
Disclaimer: "Supernatural" belongs to Eric Kripke and the CW, obviously. I'm broke anyway, so suing me would do no good. The Bricks!verse was created by lauras-eyes.
"Hey, Sammy," Dean called over his shoulder. "Wasn't this the stuff that your wet dreams were made of growing up?"
"Shut up, Dean," Sam snapped.
"Yep, summer camps, weenie roasts, s'mores and sing-alongs. Normal, my ass. More like seriously Stepford, if you ask me," Dean continued. "Creepy as hell."
"Dude, there is really something wrong with you, isn't there?" Sam growled back. "Every kid wants to go to summer camp."
"That's because you're a freak."
Dean staggered as if hit and his free hand, the one not holding the EMF meter, came up to cover his heart.
"Sammy!" he cried, feigning hurt. "I thought you loved me!"
Sam rolled his eyes and shoved past his brother, thumping Dean in the arm half-heartedly.
"So where did the story say the counselors disappeared?" he asked, trying to get Dean back on track.
"It didn't. And nobody wanted to talk about it; believe me, I tried. I used all my charm but none of them broke. Something is seriously wrong around here, Sam, because the Dean Winchester Mojo never fails. Never."
"Anything on the EMF yet?" Sam asked as he poked around in a pile of old firewood behind a shed. There was no way he was going to encourage his brother; Dean's ego didn't need any more inflating or else his head would be in serious danger of popping.
"Nothin'. This is like searching for a needle in a haystack, dude. A fifteen-hundred acre haystack. This sucks."
"This hunt was your idea, Dean!" Sam retorted in exasperation. "I thought we should go out to California and take some time off, but nooooo, you wanted to go ghost hunting. So don't bitch to me about fifteen hundred acres of search area."
"God, Sam. What crawled up your ass and died?" Dean snarked.
Sam threw a glare at his brother before he entered yet another small log cabin. "Go check out the dining hall," he ordered when Dean started to follow him.
"Fine," Dean snapped. "Don't come crying to me if you get a splinter, then."
"Don't worry. I won't." Sam made sure to slam the door behind him for extra emphasis.
Dean stomped off toward the dining hall, muttering the entire way.
Freakin' GIRL of a brother. Probably has PMS or some shit.
When he opened the creaky door, he shined his flashlight around the dark room before entering. He shuddered when the light caught briefly on what looked like a rat. Rats in the kitchen. Great. Dean Winchester wasn't afraid of much, but rats gave him the heebie jeebies like no spirit or creepy undead creature had since he was six years old.
He left the door open behind him as he stepped into the room, his path partially illuminated by the moonlight floating through the door.
The large, open room was filled with metal-framed, standard cafeteria tables with plastic tops and attached benches. The swinging doors that led into the kitchen were on one end of the long, rectangular room and after a quick walk-thru of the eating space, he headed for the kitchen itself.
The doors had circular porthole windows and Dean peered through them briefly before shoving them open. Pots and pans hung from the pot rack that hung over the large island in the center of the room and Dean's flashlight glinted off of the stainless steel appliances, shelving, and countertops. Several knife blocks with full sets of knives seated in them sat on the island, ready to be used. Stacks of plastic trays and glasses were sitting uncovered on some of the shelves and Dean really hoped that someone was planning on washing them before putting them into use again. Especially with the rats running around.
He angled toward the large refrigerator and opened the door, his hopes of miraculously finding something edible within the three-years empty appliance dying when the scent of mold wafted over him and he saw the black fungus coating the inside.
With a sigh, he swung the door shut and turned around. Into a body. He let out a yell and leapt back, the flashlight coming up to rest on his assailant.
It was Sam.
"Jesus, Sam! Make some noise next time, will ya?" Dean snapped angrily as he tried to calm his adrenaline-spiked body.
Sam grinned. "Oh, sorry, Dean? Did I scare you?"
"No," Dean said indignantly, slapping the EMF meter to Sam's chest as he walked around his freak beanpole of a brother. Sam caught the meter that his brother not-so-subtly offered him just as Dean released it and he turned to follow the older man.
Dean was practically jogging towards the door and Sam had to quicken his stride to keep up with him, even with his long legs.
"I think we should call it a night, Dean," he called after his brother's retreating form. "We've checked all the buildings and we've got nothing. Let's just come back tomorrow and start sweeping the woods."
"That was the plan, Sam," Dean answered shortly, maintaining his fast pace.
"Well, thanks for sharing," Sam snapped over the roof of the car as his brother slid into the driver's seat of the Impala.
"You didn't ask." Dean tossed him a smug grin and Sam bristled, slumping unhappily in his own seat. He almost slammed the door, but the thought of the retaliation that he would surely suffer if he followed through made him halt the door milliseconds before it banged shut. He closed it gently and let out a sigh of relief.
The ride back to the hotel was filled with surly silence, and once they were in their room, the mood was no better. Sam snapped at Dean when he walked into the bathroom and found that their toothbrushes were touching and Dean snarled at Sam when the younger man started picking thru his duffle bag for his dirty clothes.
Dean tried to stifle the coughing that had started up after they'd gotten back to the hotel, but Sam pounced on him for that, too.
"Why do you have to be so stubborn, Dean?" Sam exclaimed, lobbing a bottle of cough syrup at his older brother. "Just take it cuz you sound like a dying sea lion choking on a whistle!"
Dean snatched up the medicine and threw it back at Sam, nailing him in the back of the head since Sam had turned away from him already.
"Kiss my ass, Sam! If you'd stop your Suzy Homemaker act and quit stirring up the eight inches of dust all over everything, I wouldn't be coughing in the first place!" Dean yelled back angrily. To his chagrin, the comeback set off a fresh round of deep coughs.
Sam stalked over and slammed the cough syrup down on the nightstand.
"Take. The. Medicine," Sam said through gritted teeth once Dean had stopped coughing enough to listen to him.
"No." The muscle in Dean's jaw jumped and flexed as he clenched his teeth.
The two stared at each other for several long, tense moments before Sam let out an annoyed sigh and stomped back to the table and his laptop.
"Fine. Hack away until your lungs tear up into tiny chunks and you start puking them up. I don't care," he said irritably.
"Fine. I will," Dean retorted, stabbing angrily at the power button on the remote with his thumb until the tv relented and turned on. The sound of the cheesy horror movie on the Sci-Fi Channel effectively ended all conversation for the night.
When they both retired for the night, each stoically ignoring the other as much as was possible in their tiny closet of a motel room, they each rolled to face opposite sides of the room for maximum ignorage.
Dean was the first to rise the next morning, so he hit up the gas station down the road for some orange juice and stale cake donuts. He offered the breakfast to Sam as a sort of peace offering before they headed back out to Camp Heffalump. His brother accepted it and a tentative truce was struck.
"So where do you wanna get started?" Dean asked his brother as they pulled back onto the road and headed out of town towards the isolated camp.
Sam was leaning into the dashboard, twisted awkwardly as he traced a red outline around their search area and started mapping out a grid. The lines were jagged and shaky and Sam half-way thought that maybe Dean was hitting the potholes on purpose, while Dean wondered why his brother hadn't thought to lay out the grid the night before on the nice, smooth, and most importantly, non-moving surface of the small table in their room.
"I thought we could start here," Sam replied, pointing to the lower left corner of his grid, "and then just work our way on from there."
Dean shrugged non-committally. "Sounds good."
Sam didn't reply and the rest of the drive was mostly silent. Both brothers were still miffed over the previous day's events and weren't willing to let it go quite that quickly.
The search was long, boring, and fruitless. By late afternoon, Dean was beginning to think that they should just let the ghost carry on. Who cared it if a fat camp didn't reopen? It had to be one big mess of miserable, anyway. But Sam wasn't having any of it.
When they stumbled onto the clearing, though, Dean felt the first spark of interest that had struck him all day.
"What the hell is this?" Dean asked as he eyed the mass of ropes and log structures that stretched out across the large clearing. "I thought this was a summer camp, not Marine Corps basic training."
"It's a fat camp, Dean," Sam said in his most patient tone as he tried not to roll his eyes.
"I know that, Sam! But how is a fat kid supposed to climb over all that? Wouldn't they get stuck or something?"
"Why wouldn't they be able to do it?"
"God, Sam! Can't you see them flailing and rolling around on their stomachs way up there? Like those beetles that can't roll back over once they're on their back."
"Shut up, Dean! You're such an asshole!" Sam picked up his pace, hoping to leave his brother behind for at least a little while, but Dean easily kept up.
"You're just mad cuz Dad almost sent you off to fat camp." Dean stooped to pick up a smooth, circular stone and started tossing it carelessly into the air like it was a miniature baseball. "Man, you should be kissing my ass for all the smooth talking I had to do to talk him out of it."
"He did not!" Sam argued. Dad wouldn't have sent him off to fat camp. So he was a chubby kid – big deal.
"Did, too! He was gonna send you to waddle around with the dorks and I was supposed to go to Good-Lookin'-Kid Camp. But I told him that my presence at the camp he chose for me would just give everyone else there inferiority complexes, and he didn't want to send just one kid to camp..."
"Dean!" Sam slugged his brother in the arm.
"It's true! Ask Dad! My classic good looks totally saved your ass. You woulda been stuck at some place like this eatin' nothing but celery and running fifty miles a day. You owe me."
"Your little chunk 12-year-old self wouldn't have made it half way around this course," Dean taunted.
"It was baby fat, Dean. And I could run circles around you any day!"
"Baby fat, my ass. And the only way you could run circles around me was if I spun myself around while you stood in one place!"
"Fine," Sam said, setting his jaw. Dean knew that look well. It was the one his little brother had perfected during his angst-filled teenage years of butting heads with their dad. It was the one that meant Sam was digging in and not letting up until someone finally bested the other. "Let's just settle this right now."
"Yeah. We're freakin' standing on a challenge course - what other time do you think would be good?"
"Fine," Dean said calmly.
"And just to make things interesting, let's make it 2 laps. Anything goes," Sam added.
Dean dropped his bag to the ground and peeled off his outer, long-sleeved shirt. "You're on, Tubby."
Dean got a warm, happy feeling inside when Sam's upper lip curled in a snarl, confirming that he'd touched a sore spot. God, it's too easy, he thought. Gullible little geek.
Sam threw his own stuff onto the grass and stalked over to the starting post.
"Whenever you're ready, Princess," Dean said as he lined up with his brother and got into race position.
"On the count of three," Sam replied, taking up a similar stance.
The two brothers shot off for the first obstacle, shoving at each other and trying to knock the other off of the wooden wall when they reached it.
Dean got over first and sprinted towards the next structure, dropping to his belly and crawling expertly under the rope web. He felt a hand grip his ankle and kicked until his brother let go.
At the rope ladder, Sam grabbed onto Dean's pants and pulled him down, climbing over him onto the ladder. Dean reached up only to get his hand kicked. When Sam was far enough up that Dean was safe from his giant sasquatch feet, Dean began his own scramble up the ladder. I haven't been training hard enough, he thought to himself when he realized that he was winded.
Dean had caught up to Sam by the time they were halfway around the course. As he started to pass his little brother, Sam stuck out a leg. Before Dean could react, he went rolling, sprawling across the trail. Sam leapt over him and kept on, and after that, the youngest Winchester had his lead.
Dean's breath was coming in harsh gasps and he was pissed that he was already out of breath, but he pushed himself, trying to catch up with his brother.
When he hit the starting post and started his second lap, he was wheezing heavily. He slowed his pace, hoping it would help him to get his second wind, but he only found himself struggling for breath even more.
When he jumped up to get a hold on the wall, his fingers slipped off and he fell backwards. He got to his knees, but instead of pulling himself to his feet, he found himself still kneeling in the soft grass, all his focus concentrated on the tightness in his chest.
And then he finally recognized the symptoms. I'm having a freakin' ASTHMA attack - FUCK! He hadn't had an attack for years, so it was the last thing he'd been expecting. How did I forget about it?? Nice work, jackass! he chided himself angrily.
He pressed a hand to his sternum, desperately trying to take a breath. Sam. He needed Sam.
His inhaler was resting in the bottom of the first aid kit, which was half a mile away - it wasn't in the smaller "travel" kit that he'd hastily thrown together the day before - he'd been prepared for blood and gore, but not asthma attacks.
Get it together, Dean, he coached himself, trying to calm down until Sam came for him.
He fell forward, his free hand holding his body up as he stared at a ladybug crawling along a blade of grass. Breathe, Dean. Slow down and BREATHE.
He looked up as his brother's shadow fell over him.
"Oh, no you don't," Sam interrupted. "You think I'm gonna fall for the famous 'I'm injured' trick? That's the oldest one in the book. Especially now, since you're losing."
"No, Sam," Dean wheezed through the high-pitched whistle of his breath as it squeezed through his narrowing airways.
"Give it up, dude. I may have fallen for it when I was ten, but I'm not going to now. No way."
"Sam...I can't...breathe," Dean said, barely managing to force the four words out. The short sentence left him even more breathless than before.
Sam looked at him suspiciously.
"Dean, if you're joking, I'm gonna kick your ass," he said, making sure that Dean knew the consequences of this particular brand of 'humor'.
But Dean wasn't joking, and he was already getting his ass kicked - by his own friggin' body. He tried to speak again, but quickly gave up, instead pounding his fist against the ground in a last ditch attempt to get Sam to believe him.
Sam dropped to his knees beside him and reached out, tilting his older brother's head up. And Dean could have cried with relief when he saw realization wash over Sam's face.
"Oh, God. Dean!" Sam leapt to his feet. "Jesus, I'm sorry!"
Dean wondered what his little brother was sorry for – it wasn't his fault that Dean had asthma.
"Your inhaler - where's your inhaler, Dean?" Sam asked frantically. "Is it in your bag?"
"C-car," Dean choked out. He was panicking now and he knew that was so not good.
"The car?" Sam squeaked.
Dean really didn't want Sam to freak out on him now because one of them had to be calm and it sure as shit wasn't gonna be himself. Not when he felt like he was sucking air through one of those little straws that he'd seen bartenders stick in those girlie, sissy drinks.
Sam looked like a deer in the headlights for a brief moment before making up his mind. Dean knew he wasn't walking anywhere on his own two feet, so he wasn't really surprised when Sam quickly lifted him into a fireman's carry and started off toward the car as fast as he could.
As he bumped along on his brother's shoulder, his arms dangling along Sam's legs, Dean decided that having his body hitting Sam's back with every jogging, jerky step was definitely not helping. He didn't know you could have the wind knocked out of you by such a light bump.
He tried to get a hand up to press at his chest, but the awkward position, combined with the movement, wasn't helping his cause. And it really wasn't comfortable to be carried like this, he decided.
"Dean, quit moving!" his little brother gasped, shifting his grip on Dean's legs.
It wasn't a hard command to obey because Dean wasn't making much progress in that department anyway.
His vision was starting to blur and darken around the edges and he tried unsuccessfully to take another breath. He desperately wanted to move, to try to get some breath back into his starving lungs, but Sam had said to stay still. In the back of his mind, he knew that moving would do no good, but his instincts were screaming at him to FIX IT and that was definitely overshadowing his reason.
He noticed a hole in the back of Sam's shirt and made a mental note to tell him about it when he got the chance. His little brother couldn't be running around looking like a little orphan boy. Well, he could and he had, but he was definitely too old for it now.
Spots were popping up now and he tried to scrub at his eyes to drive them away.
"DEAN! STOP moving!" Sam commanded desperately. Fuck. Yeah. Dean let his hand drop back to dangling. He wondered how far it was to the car because it seemed like he was peering through a long tunnel, with just a small circle of light at the end.
He knew he was losing consciousness, but he struggled to hang on. If he could hang on, he could beat this. He willed Sam to move faster, knowing he was going downhill fast. Was probably already close to the bottom of said hill.
He widened his eyes, trying to get the black out, but it didn't work, so he tried to calm himself down by focusing on taking slow, deep breaths. His body wouldn't cooperate with that either, though.
I'm gonna die, he thought frantically. I'm gonna die in the middle of a freakin' FAT CAMP. Why couldn't it have been Hooters?
He knew he was losing the battle, every second robbing a little more consciousness from him. He was slipping down into the soft black, barely even noticing his short, gasping breaths, when his head thunked against something hard and metallic. He vaguely realized that he wasn't moving anymore and that he also wasn't draped like a wet noodle over Sam's shoulder anymore, either.
He heard a familiar creak – the trunk opening. They'd made it to the car. He forced himself to open his eyes again and dark balls of black danced and bounced in his vision. He saw Sam dump the contents of the entire first aid kid onto the ground next to him and frantically begin digging through the pile of medical supplies.
"Where is it?" Sam asked, and Dean knew his brother was talking to himself. "Shit, shit, shit, shit!"
Dean closed his eyes again. Sam would find it.
"DEAN!" his brother screeched at him. "Don't you go to sleep! Don't you dare go to sleep! Stay awake! I'll find it - just hang on!"
Dean wasn't sure what good opening his eyes was gonna do - his vision was basically black anyway - but he tried because Sam sounded freaked.
"Got it!" Sam cried. Dean heard him fumbling with it, popping the canister into the plastic casing, and then shaking it violently. "Dean, I got it!"
Sam grabbed Dean's chin and lifted his head up. "Come on, Dean. Open your mouth - I've got your inhaler. Open your mouth."
Dean numbly complied, barely managing to close his mouth around the inhaler. But nothing happened. He grunted and brought a wayward hand up, which just flopped around uselessly and then dropped to his lap.
"Dean, on three, ok? When I say three, take a breath, whatever you can manage, okay?"
"One, two, three," Sam quickly counted and Dean struggled to inhale, wondering if his airway had completely closed. If it had, he was sooooo beyond fucked.
But to his relief, he felt a little of the bitter medicine get through his tight airway.
It still wasn't the relief he was hoping for, though.
"Okay, now another one, okay?" Sam coached. "On three again - take a breath."
He heard Sam counting again and again he took a breath. More of the medication found its way. Any other day, he would have bitched and bitched about the taste, but he was having trouble even holding a coherent thought at the moment. He'd suffer that taste any day if he could just breathe normally again.
"Dean, is it working?" Sam asked anxiously. "Is it helping at all?"
Dean's vision was clearing a bit, but he was still struggling for breath. It was a little better - it felt like he was breathing through a normal straw instead of a miniature one.
He managed to pull his head back up and look at Sam. His brother looked like he was 9 years old again and afraid of the thing in his closet.
He nodded carefully, shortly, and Sam looked somewhat better. Dean thought he should scrounge up some reserves or something and give his baby brother a pat on the back for reassurance, but then he returned his attention to the deceivingly simple act of inhaling and exhaling.
He was being pulled to his feet again and Sam positioned him in the passenger seat, crouching beside him.
"Come on, Dean," he worried. "You've got it. Take another breath in."
Dean complied, and released it when Sam said. He was still wheezing, but at least he was making a lot of racket again - racket was good. Silence meant he wasn't breathing at all, but if he was noisy, at least he was getting oxygen. Dean was grateful that at least he hadn't gotten to the absolutely-no-breathing point yet and that it didn't appear like it would happen today.
He glared at Sam when his brother slid him forward on the seat, positioning his elbows on the dashboard with his forearms crossed. Dean rested his head on the warm glass of the windshield. He knew what Sam was doing. It had been in one of the asthma pamphlets that sitting backwards on a chair with your elbows on the back could help your breathing after an attack; this was Sam's version of it.
Dean had to admit - it did help. He was feeling a lot better than he had been, still oxygen-deprived but not to the point of thinking he was gonna die.
When Sam decided that Dean wasn't going to kick off the moment he looked away and Dean had gotten his breathing reasonably controlled, Sam shifted his brother backwards in the seat and buckled him in.
On a normal day, Dean would have ripped Sam's head off and shoved it up his ass for driving his baby like Jeff Gordon on speed, but he knew he'd do the same if Sam was in his place. Sam was getting a pass. This time.
The Impala flew down the road back toward town and Sam made the normally thirty minute drive in ten, telling Dean so many times to "just hang on", that they'd "be to the hospital in a few minutes", that Dean was about ready to gag him. He could tell he was going to be fine and he wished Sam would quit worrying.
"Knock it off," he finally said hoarsely. "Drivin' me... drivin' me crazy."
Sam started laughing like a crazy person and kept on laughing until they reached the emergency room.
The nurse secured the oxygen mask to Dean's face and he immediately felt the cool, pure gas forcing its way into his lungs. He tried to breathe more deeply but ended up coughing again. One hand came up to cover the mask and hold it in place, even though it wouldn't make it help any more than it already was.
"You okay?" the brunette nurse, whose nametag stated that she was 'Kelly', asked as she rubbed his arm soothingly as the coughing subsided. Kelly was definitely hot and Dean was definitely going to get his game on - as soon as he wasn't such a wreck. "Just relax. Dr. Chambers will be in to see you in just a moment. He's going to give you a nebulizer treatment; he's just grabbing what he needs."
Dean nodded and gave her a weak grin and a thumbs-up. She smiled back and then turned away. Dean didn't pay any attention to what she was doing, and the truth was, he didn't really care. He was too busy enjoying the oxygen they were giving him.
His eyes popped open when he heard a familiar voice, one he hadn't heard in years.
No freakin' way.
"How are you feeling, Mr. Hetfield?" the doctor asked as he pulled the curtain shut behind him. He stopped short when he saw Dean, who was glad that Kelly didn't seem to notice anything out of the ordinary. "Kelly, I've got this. Can you go check on the patient down in B3?"
"Sure, Doctor," she replied, slipping out silently.
"Dean Hetfield," Dr. Jett Chambers said as he set the prepared nebulizer on the table beside Dean's bed. "I could have sworn it was 'Winchester' last time I saw you."
Dean shifted uncomfortably and pulled the mask down briefly.
"Yeah…it was. We changed our name," he explained lamely.
"Don't worry about it," Jett reassured him. "I won't say anything. Let's just get you well and out of here, whaddaya say?"
Dean grinned in relief. "Thanks, Jett."
"No problem," the doctor returned, as he reached for the oxygen mask that Dean had replaced on his face and removed it. He picked up the nebulizer, smiling at Dean. "It's good to see you."
"Yeah," Dean agreed. He'd always like the affable doctor. He didn't pull any punches and Dean's whole family had appreciated that.
"Is your family out in the waiting room?" Jett asked.
"Sam is. We're on a road trip," Dean answered. "I think he's filling out paperwork."
Jett chuckled in amusement. "Insurance? I have a sneaking suspicion that it's not going to go through, is it?"
Dean just grinned. "I plead the Fifth."
Jett laughed and handed Dean the nebulizer. He was already making plans to pay their bill because he figured that anything he could do to help keep eyes off of them would probably help them immensely. He knew that such action wouldn't be accepted if he offered it, so it was simply going to happen once they'd departed the hospital.
"You know the drill," Jett said as Dean's fingers closed around the nebulizer.
"Yeah." Dean was grateful when Jett turned his back to give him some semblance of privacy as he inhaled the medication.
When he'd finished, Jett handed him the oxygen mask.
"So when are you gonna cut me loose?" Dean asked before he settled the mask on his face again.
"I want to see your oxygen levels come up a little bit more, and then I'll set you free," Jett answered as he glanced at the monitor behind Dean's head, the readings on it provided by the pulse ox on the Winchester's right, index finger.
Dean gave a sigh, his breath clouding the mask, but it was just for show and they both knew it.
Jett grinned and patted his arm.
"Will you go get Sam?" Dean asked, his voice muffled under the mask. "He's probably having a panic attack by now."
"Sure," Jett laughed. "He always has worried about you, but he's your little brother. I wouldn't expect any less."
Dean rolled his eyes. "He's a girl."
"I'll go get him for you."
As the doctor started to pull the curtain closed, Dean called out.
"Yeah?" the doctor paused.
"Make sure to tell Sammy that I'm fine. I know him, and he's gonna try to blame himself for this, so play it down or something, okay?"
Jett waited a moment before answering.
"I'll see what I can do."
"Knock it off, Samantha!" Dean snapped, batting away his brother's grabby hands. "I'm fine."
"You almost died, Dean," Sam said seriously. His face reminded him of that donkey on the Winnie the Pooh cartoons Sam had watched when he was little.
Dean rolled his eyes. "I'm good. You heard the Jett - I have great lungs." Dean grinned at him.
Sam looked down at the sidewalk, hands shoved into his pockets. "I'm sorry, Dean."
Dean stopped and turned around, confused.
"What the hell for?" he asked.
"I didn't believe you. I thought you were faking. What if I'd been just a little slower in getting it?"
"Don't worry about it, Sam. I'm fine. In fact, I'm better than fine, I'm perfect. Nothing like a little pure oxygen to get a man ready to salt and burn."
"Dean, you don't get it! I almost killed you!" Sam exclaimed, his distress showing plainly on his face.
"You saved my life, dumbass!" Dean retorted. "Besides, I was faking anyway."
He thumped his brother's chest and turned around, heading for his car. The sleek, black beauty of an automobile stood out in the parking lot full of mid-size family cars, tiny tin cans on wheels, and a mix of trucks and SUVs. It was like a beacon to Dean. He swore he could track his car down anywhere; she called to him.
"No, you weren't," Sam said sullenly, falling into place beside him.
"I was," Dean insisted. "I totally had you beat."
"What?!" Sam answered. "I was kicking your ass!"
Dean waved a hand in dismissal. "That's what I wanted you to think. It was all part of my plan."
Sam raised an eyebrow. "Oh, yeah?"
"Yeah. But I had to rethink it because I know how sensitive you are. You're like a freakin' little girl." Dean shrugged. "So I had to have an attack. Otherwise I would have won."
"I thought you were faking," Sam reminded him with a grin.
Dean was silent for a moment. "Shut up, Sammy-girl. Let's go eat. I'm starving."
"You look like hell, Dean. We should go back to the room so you can get some rest."
"Bite me, Sam. I need a cheeseburger."
As they neared the car, Dean wiggled his fingers in impatience, his hand outstretched. "Keys," he demanded. "Now."
"Dean, you can't drive. You just-."
"SAM! It was my lungs, not my driving muscles. Give 'em over!" He wiggled his fingers again.
Sam sighed again, but tossed the keys to his brother.
"Hey, baby," Dean crooned to his car. "I missed you."
Sam rolled his eyes. "We barely left her."
Dean glared at him and slid into the driver's seat.
"I call a re-do," Dean stated suddenly after he started the engine.
"What?" Sam exclaimed. "No way!"
"You cheated! You tripped me!"
"We agreed - no rules. And I seem to remember you doing your own share of shoving and pulling."
"It's not the same thing," Dean insisted.
"Shut up, Dean. We're not doing it," Sam stated firmly
"You're such a grandma," Dean complained, but there wasn't much force behind the words and Sam grinned.
One thing was for sure: they would finish this hunt, but there was no way Sam was letting his big brother near that challenge course. In fact, he might burn it just to be safe.
Sam made a mental note to go to the pharmacy and pick up some inhalers. Their gear bags were going to each have their own personal inhalers tucked into a pocket from now on.
If Dean wouldn't look out for himself, then Sam would do it for him. And he wouldn't take 'no' for an answer.