Just something my brain threw at me... I have gotta start whumping on Dean some...poor Sam's taking the brunt of it all lately.
Timeline: Anywhere, but my mind sees it in Season 1 or 2.
Age: Adult, tiny bit of Wee!Chester. Like, a lick.
Notes: Please review? *big puppy eyes* Also, rating is for a few naughty words. Bad Dean.
Dean is six when he hears his little brother barking, almost like a dog. He frowns, pretty sure that's not right, and when Sammy doesn't stop, and is getting up to go get his Dad when John pushes open their door, brow furrowed as he does a quick once over. Sam barks again (actually, it's more like the seal he saw on Sesame Street one time), and John's beside him in an instant, a huge hand on Sammy's tiny chest. Sam lets out a few more barks, eyes wide and a little scared, and John's got him scooped up.
"Daddy? Why's Sammy sound funny? He okay?" Dean knows he's not, Sam's too young to know how to play a joke this well, but there's still that relief when John ruffles his hair.
"Yeah buddy, he's just a little sick. You goin' back to bed" John knows it's a useless suggestion, not surprised in the least as his eldest shakes his head, stubbornly following down the hall into the tiny bathroom. This works in their favor as John cranks on the hot water, sitting down on the edge of the tub as he cradles Sam's little frame. "Do me a favor, and shut the door, would you Dean?"
"Yeah." The door latches, and it's not long before the bathroom is full of hot and humid, sticky, muggy air, and Dean's pajamas are sticking to him as he squirms at his post by the door. But Sammy has stopped barking, a chubby fist still clenched in John's shirt as he dozes, and that's all that really matters. It's an hour or so later when John finally rouses the two long enough to tuck them into his bed. It takes Dean a few minutes longer than normal to fall asleep, that sound still rattling in his brain, settling in the cracks and crevices to await another day.
When it happens again the next night, John groans, but doesn't seem surprised. Dean had croup when he was little, outgrew it pretty quick, but he was hoping to have dodged that bullet with Sam. While the croup isn't that dangerous, it's still alarming and a bit startling to hear, one that sets anxiety fluttering along his nerves as he soothes both his boys. He can see Dean's eyes taking in every detail, filing it away in his mental 'Sammy' folder, and John isn't surprised at all when, the third night, Dean just scrambles out of bed, the hot water already streaming before John even carries Sam in.
It stops for a few weeks, but flares again, lingering four nights instead of three before fading off, and the cycle repeats over and over for the next 6 months. John finally takes Sam to the doctor, which sends a shot of wariness through Dean, but the young woman just reassures John that it's perfectly normal for a toddler of Sam's age, and the only real concern is that the longer it lingers, the more likely he is to develop asthma later. It's really a roll of the dice, and while John knows that logically, it still doesn't stop the quiet fretting that maybe, he's doing something wrong. Mary took care of Dean when he had it, and it never lasted this long.
But just as abruptly as it started, it ends, and after a month, he breaths a sigh of relief, grateful it's over.
It's twenty years later when Dean hears that bark again, deeper and harsher, coming from his little brother's massive chest. Stupid rancher, stupid barn, stupid hay, stupid dust. He flicks a glance to Sam, who's at least stopped that horrible sound, not that his new one is any better. At least he's used to the wheeze and the rattle, knows what to do with it. At least, as soon as they get out of the nasty old barn they're hunting around in. Rancher had decided he adored his damned barn so much, he wanted to leave a little something-something, and after his bones had been cremated and spread across the back 80, he was still up and kicking, terrorizing the locals.
They had forgotten that Sam's asthma had a nasty disagreement with hay.
Sam's yanking down a horseshoe from above a stall, one hand pressed against his sternum tightly, and yells across the barn to Dean, holding up a twisted and gnarled braid of hair. It's the work of a second to burn the nasty piece of rancher, and Dean's dragging Sam outside, into the cool night air, holding him up more than Dean's really comfortable with. Sam's independent to a fault, and to be leaning this heavily can't be good. He can feel the rattle in Sam's ribs from where his arm is pressed against his brother, can hear the disturbing wheeze and whistle as Sam struggles to breathe.
"In a minute Sammy. Just gotta get us the hell outta Dodge. Deep breaths for me Sammy. Come on." The litany is just nervous rambling, trying to distract Sam from the suffocation-sensation that's stringing panic along his nerves. He gets his brother settled in the Impala before he's fumbling in the trunk, tearing through Sam's duffel. It's gotta be in here...Sam knows better than to not carry one with him. "Sam! Where the hell is it?" He cranes his head around the trunk lid, wincing as he hears the thin and reedy voice struggling.
"We'll go in a minute, I want to find your damned inhaler. It's not in your duffel!"
Sam shakes his head, struggles to get a deeper breath. "Go. Bag."
Dean tears through the smaller backpack, relief flooding him as his fingers clench around the familiar plastic casing and hard, cold metal cylinder. "Yahtzee." A split moment later, and he's got the keys jammed into the ignition, cranking the engine as she snarls awake. He pauses just long enough to crank the AC on as high as he can before they're peeling out, sliding gracefully onto the tarmac and back towards the motel. As soon as he feels comfortable enough to focus off the road, he's turning the vents towards Sam, who's hunched over, an arm wrapped tightly around his ribcage as he grimaces.
"Shit, Sam. Come on buddy, I need you to breathe." Sam glares halfheartedly in his direction, but the lack of a verbal response is more disturbing, and Dean puts steel into his voice, pushing back the alarm. "Sam. Deep breath. Now." He listens intently as Sam tries, managing a piss-poor inhale before he's letting it out again, wincing. It's a moment to pull the Impala off onto the shoulder, flipping her into park as he's shaking the inhaler. As he goes to put it in Sam's hand, his heart stumbles as he feels how utterly cold those fingers are, and he's lunging for the dome light, squinting in the sudden brightness.
Sam's ashen, eyes wide and panicked as he struggles to take in a breath, to get any oxygen he can. Dean tries again to put the medicine in Sam's hands, but Sam's digging his blue-tinted fingers into the vinyl, clenching at the seat as he tries to stay conscious. Dean's pissed to see the flicker of shame and embarrassment in the hazel gaze as the elder brother gives up on trying to get Sam to do this on his own. He's pushing the mouthpiece past the bluish lips, waiting a moment as he gets Sam's rhythm, and he presses the canister, hearing the hiss as the nasty mist releases. "You know the routine Sammy. Hold it as long as you can." The absence of the whistle is distressing, but it's only a second before Sam is exhaling on a ragged pitiful wheeze, coughing violently. "Shh...you're okay. Close your eyes Sam. It's okay."
Sam obliges, leaning forward as he hugs himself again, and Dean's wrestling to pull him upright. "Sam, you know the drill by now. Up. Lean back against the seat dude." Sam doesn't struggle, panting painfully at the ceiling as he leans against Dean, who's got a hand wrapped around the back of Sam's neck, thumb brushing over the jugular in a slow sweeping motion. It's a few breaths, but Dean can almost pinpoint the exact second Sam gets into the rhythm, his frantic gasps slowing down, easing.
The minutes click by, and Sam opens an eye, gazing blearily at Dean. "Feeling better yet?" A sluggish nod, but the eye slips shut again, and Dean presses more. "Need another hit?" Sam starts to push away, shaking his unruly mop of hair, but the older brother tugs him back down, the steady motion not changing in the slightest. "You lyin to me?" Sam doesn't answer, but the silence is answer enough. Sam's feeling better, enough to try to twist his head away from the inhaler, but still too out of it to really win.
It's only a minute before the wheezing stops altogether, and Dean breathes his own sigh of relief, letting the inhaler fall into the seat beside him. He turns down the fan, leaving the AC cold, and tosses a jacket to Sam before pulling back onto the road. Three miles later, and the effect of the second hit is fully on Sam, the shaking enough to make the seat squeak in protest. "Dude, c'mere." Sam doesn't fight, curling in on himself as Dean tugs him down, tunneling long fingers through even longer hair. "You're okay. Deep breaths, slow and steady." He waits a few minutes, relief loosening his shoulders as the breaths get deeper and longer, steadying out, but the shaking just gets worse. "You want a coffee? That normally helps, doesn't it?"
"No coffee, or no, it doesn't help?" Sam's quiet, and Dean doesn't even realize when he starts rubbing small, light circles on Sam's temple, just knows he doesn't like the silence. "Sam?"
"No coffee. Too jittery. Just...wanna go home." The last is muttered soft and plaintively, elegant fingers scrabbling shakily at his denim-covered thigh as Sam tries to burrow his face. Dean nods, even though Sam's not looking at him, and presses the gas a little harder.
It's about another mile down the road when he realizes he can feel Sam's pulse galloping, fluttering through the jugular pressed against his leg, and he frowns, hand pausing in it's absent petting. "Sammy? You okay?" Sam nods lethargically, not even opening his eyes, and Dean shakes him a little. "What's going on dude? Why's your heart racing so bad?"
Sam doesn't open his eyes, just tilts his head enough to be heard. "Inhaler."
"You never used to do this..." Alarm and dismay is tickling against Dean's stomach, but he's proud that the thumb brushing against Sam's neck is steady as a rock, tempo just as sure as it's ever been.
"New side effect. Had a nasty flare-up at Stanford...spend the night in the E.R. They put me on a new drug...they said it's normal."
'Normal my ass', Dean thinks, but he's quiet, letting the steady thrum of the engine soothe Sam into a sleep he apparently needs. It's still 30 miles back to town, and by the time Dean is shaking his little brother awake, the shaking has faded off.
Doesn't mean that Dean's not awake all night, listening to that steady breathing in the dark until dawn.