The Effects of Vertigo

Disclaimer: I don't own anything recognizable in this story, nor am I making a profit from it.

Author's Note: I am going to take this story AU since Sam will not be going to Stanford.

Author's Note 2: This story takes place approximately three years after the events in Could it be Vertigo. You should also know that to enhance the story, I will exacerbate or over exaggerate some Sam's problems. The effects of Meniere's Disease don't always progress as quickly or go to the full lengths that I am taking it in this story.

As Dean sat waiting in the dreary little waiting room of the doctor's office, he couldn't help but be nervous about what going on inside the room down the hall. Sam had been in the office for over forty-five minutes now having his hearing tested, and Dean couldn't help but feel that something was going wrong. Over the last couple of months, he had noticed the way that his brother Sam had to have things repeated to him over and over, how he turned up the radio or television so that he could hear what was being said. He knew the doctor said that Sam would lose some of his hearing over time due to the Meniere's disease, but it seemed to be hitting him hard lately. Thrumming his fingers on the arm of the chair as he waited, he felt like he had butterflies churning in his gut and prayed they weren't a sign of what was to come. Hearing the door open, he glanced up to see Sam staring at him with red rimmed eyes. "Sammy?" He questioned anxiously as he rushed over to his brother's side.

"The doctor wants to talk to you." Sam informed his brother as he swiped a hand across his red rimmed eyes. He wanted to tell his brother the results of the test himself, but didn't think he could take the look that would be in Dean's eyes when he found out what the future held. Turning around to lead the way to the doctor's office, he felt Dean sling an arm around his shoulders and was grateful for the comfort it gave him, somehow, Dean always knew when he needed comforting. Walking down the narrow hall, he stopped at the third door on the right and walked inside knowing Dean would follow him in.

"Dr. Madchen, this is my brother Dean." Sam informed the doctor as he sat in one of the seats available while Dean stood beside him, a hand firmly clasped to his shoulder in support.

"Hello Dean, it's nice to meet you. I've heard a lot about you from Sam here." Dr. Brandon Madchen stated as he reached out a hand to give Dean's a firm shake.

"Not all bad I hope." Dean retorted wishing the doctor would just get on with things instead of trying to make small talk. He could tell by the atmosphere of the room that the news was going to be bad and he needed to know exactly what was going on with his baby brother.

"Exactly the opposite, Sam thinks very highly of you which is why I wanted to speak with you myself. After running extensive tests on your brother, we've determined that Sam's hearing is failing at a faster rate than what we thought it would. The cochlear and vestibular hair cells in Sam's ears are highly diminished and more are dying every day as a result of attacks he has suffered. At this rate, Sam will most likely suffer profound unilateral deafness within the month and eventually he could go completely deaf."

"Oh God, no, why Sammy?" Dean thought as he felt his knees go weak. But he knew he couldn't voice his fears, he had to be strong for his baby brother. Sure Sam was actually considered an adult now that he had turned eighteen, but he was still his baby brother. "Are you sure, I mean couldn't there be some kind of mistake?" Dean queried, his voice sounding stronger than he actually felt at the moment.

"I'm sorry Dean, I wish there had been a mistake. I ran the tests a couple of times just to be sure of my diagnosis. I know that the thought of going deaf is a scary one, but with your help, I'm sure Sam will come through this. Deaf people live very productive lives, especially with today's technology." Brandon enunciated, one hundred percent sure of his diagnosis.

"Don't worry doc, you can count on me being there for him every step of the way." Dean voiced with conviction as he looked over towards Sam only to see his baby brother looking towards the floor, silent tears streaming down his face. Getting out of the chair, he kneeled in front of Sam and clasped a hand around his neck. "It's okay Tiger, we're going to get through this." Dean promised as he gently pulled the kid into a hug. "So uh doc, you said Sam could be facing profound unilateral deafness within the month, what does that mean? What do I need to look for?"

"Profound Unilateral Deafness is a specific type of hearing impairment where one ear has no functional hearing ability. It means that your brother will only be able to hear monaural which will cause him problems such as headaches and stress. He'll start feeling anxious because there will be times when he has trouble distinguishing where noise is coming from around him. He'll also most likely start to feel some form of social isolation because of the hearing problem and will be extremely irritable at times." Brandon answered. "And while I'm thinking about it, you'll also have to be extremely vigilant of how he is feeling in big places such as malls and warehouses. With the high ceilings, the white tiles, and the light bouncing off them, Sam will have trouble with his maintaining his center of balance. He'll feel like he's falling at times or walking sideways and that can be very disconcerting to someone with Meniere's."

"Damn, isn't there anything that can help?" Dean asked as he scrubbed a hand across his mouth, his mind overwhelmed with everything he had just been told.

"Sam could try a hearing aid, but eventually it will lose it's effectiveness too as more hair cells die. You might want to check into some ASL or American Sign Language classes to help your brother communicate once the deafness becomes a major issue for him." Dr. Madchen advised.

"Yeah, we'll think about it, thanks Doc." Dean said as grasped Sam by the hand to pull him up. "Come on, let's get out of here kiddo."

Trudging down the hall beside his brother, Dean took furtive glances at his younger sibling wondering what was going through Sam's mind. Hell, he felt devastated at hearing the news himself so he couldn't even begin to imagine what his baby brother was going through. Sammy had to be scared out of his wits wondering what the future held for him now. He wished he could think of something to say that would make it all better, but he was at a total loss for words.

"Sammy, you okay dude?" Dean questioned with concern as they exited the doctor's office and climbed into the Impala. Sam hadn't said anything since they left the doctor's office and he was seriously beginning to worry about the kid.

"M'fine." Sam answered with the standard Winchester reply even though his fingers were fisting the bottom of his jacket with a grip so hard that his knuckles were turning white.

"It's me you're talking to kiddo. Do you seriously expect me to believe that bullshit?" Dean queried as he turned to face his brother without starting the engine. "I know you're scared Sam. Honestly, I am too, but you have to know that we're going to get through this together as a family."

"Do you seriously believe that Dean? You know as well as I do that Dad is going to look at me as a liability now. Once he finds out I might go deaf, he'll want to ship my ass off so fast that I won't even realize I've left." Sam retorted angrily as he glared at Dean.

"Now hold it right there Sam." Dean stated calmly as he looked his brother directly in the eyes. "First of all, who says you're going to go deaf? The doctor said that you could, not that it was for certain. Secondly, there is no way that Dad would send you away, he loves you too much to do something like that kiddo. And last but not least of all, if he even thought about doing something like that, he'd have to go through me first to get it done, so it's definitely not happening. We're a family Sam, and families stick together no matter what."

"I know you think that now Dean, but eventually you'll start thinking of me as a burden too." Sam challenged as his bottom lip trembled at the thought of eventually losing his brother. He knew how much his brother loved hunting, it was in his blood.

"Sammy, you know that's not true." Dean voiced a little upset that his brother would even think such a thing. "I've taken care of you ever since I was four years old and not once did I think of you as a burden for me to shoulder. You never could be. I know things will have to change, but we'll adapt with the changes and come out stronger for it Sam."

"But what about hunting Dean? I'll be useless to you and Dad now." Sam refuted as he cast his eyes towards the floorboard of the Impala.

"You think so huh, then answer me this." Dean said as he reached out to grasp Sam's chin and tilt his head up. "Who is the best researcher in this family? Who is the one who always finds that hidden piece of information that always busts a hunt wide open for us huh?"

"Dean, I'm afraid." Sam finally admitted as his eyes began to moisten once again. "I don't wanna be alone in a world where I can't hear."

"And you won't be Tiger. I swear on mom's grave that you'll never be alone." Dean croaked around the huge lump growing in his throat as he brought Sam's forehead to his shoulder and carded his fingers through his brother's hair, chick flick moment be damned.

"Thanks Dean." Sam voiced just above a whisper as he breathed in the smell of gun oil and leather, a smell he associated with his brother and which always comforted him. "So uh, how do we break the news to Dad?"

"You let me worry about that kiddo. Just relax and let me handle things as far as Dad is concerned." Dean answered as he felt Sam pull away. His brother was already under enough stress and he worried that it would bring on another vertigo attack.

"Okay." Sam whispered as he closed his eyes and leaned against the passenger window to think. He knew Dean would know he wasn't sleeping, but he just didn't feel like talking anymore at the moment.

"Glancing furtively at his brother, Dean sighed before starting the engine. He couldn't help but wonder how his Dad would react once they got back to the motel and broke the news to him. He seriously thought about waiting to break the news until Sam was in the shower or had went somewhere, but then his brother would never be fully sure of his father's love unless he saw firsthand how their dad reacted to the news. Checking to make sure the road was clear of traffic, Dean pulled out of the parking space and started back towards their motel. "God help John Winchester if he messes this up." He thought as he sneaked a peak over at Sam once again.

TBC Okay, should I keep going or just delete it?