JUST A COUGH, SAMMY
Dean begins the long road to recovery, and comes to realise what an awesome little brother Sammy is.
Thanks for bearing with me on this one …
Sam didn't wait for an invitation, he strode over to his brother, and wrapped long arms so gently around his shoulders. "Oh, God Dean," he choked, shocked by his brother's devastated appearance.
Dean pressed his face against the curve of his brother's throat, tugging off his mask, "S-Sam", he wheezed, "don' go …" he gripped the back of Sam's jacket.
Doctor Jenkins gave a discreet cough behind them, "I can give you some time together then, Dean, we need to get you down for an X-ray to make sure the drain is in place."
Sam bristled angrily, and Jenkins sensed it, even from the back, "after that, he's all yours, please feel free to stay as long as you need to."
Sam crouched by the bed, holding Dean as tightly as he dared, his tear-stained face buried in the damp, spiky hair at his brother's crown.
Jenkins guessed that now was the time to give the brothers some space. He beckoned Helen and Jean out of the room, and left them alone.
Sam gently released his brother, cradling his head as he laid him back against the mound of pillows; he pulled up a chair and sat back, to survey the damage. The sight of the bloody tube emerging from his brother's chest made his stomach lurch, and he decided that was enough surveying for today.
"Hey, bro' you'd better get this on", he reached for Dean's discarded oxygen mask and placed it over his brother's face.
Heavy lidded eyes blinked owlishly over the clear Perspex.
Sam smiled, grasping Dean's hand, "you're gonna be alright, this is gonna help, ok?"
Dean nodded, wheezing through the pain. Of course it was gonna be alright, Sammy was here; that's all Dean needed to know.
Doctor Jenkins was as good as his word.
After yet another X-ray, Dean was taken to a room where his brother was waiting for him. Sam never left Dean's side from that moment on; he sat uncomplaining, all the while talking to his groggy brother, watching him sleep, waiting for the sparkle to return to the glassy green eyes.
Three days on, and Dean's condition had improved noticeably, the combined efforts of the drain and the antibiotics were doing their job well; he was far more coherent and consequently much noisier. The oxygen mask was long gone, replaced by a nasal catheter, so was the softly beeping heart monitor. The tired dark smudges beneath Dean's eyes were fading, in Sam's words he looked less like he'd been punched in the face and more like his mascara had run.
On the fourth day, he was taken to have the drain removed. His improved health and spirits made him a nervous, but much less challenging patient.
The young nurse, Helen visited him regularly afterwards to check his wound and change his dressing; Sam observed with a grin that it must have needed checking and changing a heck of a lot if the amount of visits she made was anything to go by! He stood behind her, miming exaggerated kissing, slurping gestures, as she fussed and cooed over her patient who was sitting on the bed relishing the attention and calmly giving his brother the bird.
By the end of the first week, Dean's recovery was gaining momentum. The dreaded catheter went (boy, was Dean disappointed that Helen didn't get that job!) Then the IV went and finally, as if his improvement needed further confirmation, Dean started grumbling about the hospital food. He seemed to spend most of his endlessly dull time flicking or throwing it over Sam; Dean's laughter the time Helen had walked in on them and Sam was picking sweetcorn out of his hair, was like the sweetest music to Sam, even though he had threatened to give his brother a good pasting when he was better.
It was also around that time that Dean had started asking about getting out.
"You don't have to rush to get out", Sam said, "You need to recover properly; you nearly died Dean."
Dean looked into his lap, "I know" he murmured.
Sam blinked; Dean would never normally admit his sickness, this was entirely new territory.
"Dean, that Doctor back in Elm Hill; did she say it might get worse if you didn't look after it?"
Dean looked into his lap again.
Dean chewed his lip and looked up at Sam, "Yeah, she did, Sam." He mumbled sheepishly.
"Well?" Sam demanded
" I – I didn't want to worry you …" he trailed off, looking at Sam's face which displayed all the classic signs of crippling fatigue, his pained hunch as night after night in a hard chair continued to wreck his back, the noticeable weight loss, the crumpled clothes ...
"I didn't do a very good job, did I?"
Sam resisted the urge to scream every obscene word he had ever learned at the top of his voice.
"No." he muttered, clenching his trembling fists.
He took a deep shaky breath, leaning in close to Dean, he grabbed his hand. "It doesn't matter," he sighed, "it doesn't matter, just promise me, please, please promise me, you won't ever do anything like that again".
Dean pulled him into a hug, winching as the motion pulled on the incision in his chest, "I promise", he whispered, "I promise." He let his brother go, "Now stop bein' a woman and go and get me a coffee!"
Sam glared at him, "I've a good mind to go and ask that male nurse – the one with the high pitched voice and the funny walk - to come and give you a bed bath!" he snorted.
By the middle of the second week, the recovery was starting to lose it's appeal for Dean, "Dean, get back into bed."
"I'm bored, wanna go for a walk …"
Sam sighed, "Dean, do you even know if you can walk?"
"Sure I can", grinned Dean, "S'easy, one leg in front of the other – learned it years ago."
" I mean – you haven't walked further than the bathroom for four days. On top of what you've been through, your legs might not be strong enough. Let me get a wheelchair …"
Sam glared at his brother, "an' don't give me 'the look'."
In defiance of his brother, Dean sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. Sam grasped his elbow.
"Hey bitch, we can dance later, you can buy me dinner first ." Dean shook the hand off of his arm, and stood shakily, grinning triumphantly at his brother.
"Woah, okay man, I've got ya!" Sam suddenly found himself clutching two sweaty armpits as his brother crumpled into a heap.
At the end of the second week, Sam grinned as he walked into the room with a big bag of M&M's, "hey, bro, Doc Jenkins says you can go."
Dean's face lit up, "really?" he grinned.
"Yep, they need to take you down for one last chest X-ray before they'll release you, then, if that's good, we can go."
Dean scowled, "If I have any more freakin' X-rays , I'm gonna glow in the dark …"
"I've arranged with Bobby, we're gonna stay there at least a month while you recuperate," Sam began stuffing Dean's things into his duffel.
"I don't need to recup…"
"Ok, ok," Dean visibly shrank, "maybe I do!"
Doctor Jenkins sat on the bed next to a dressed and antsy Dean. He had taken to these guys and was glad that everything had worked out for them. Sam leaned against the wall in front of them.
"Right" said Jenkins, "you're good to go."
Dean looked at Sam with a smile.
"But, you're not out of the woods yet," he continued, "it's very important you accept that - lots of rest, take lots of care of yourself."
Dean rolled his eyes and nodded.
"You need to be aware that this kind of illness can cause serious or even permanent lung damage;" He paused for a moment as the brothers glanced at each other. "With that in mind I'm going to recommend a follow up program." Jenkins looked at Sam who nodded, and Dean, who didn't.
"I would like you to come back in a month for a check up and an X-ray" he said, "after that we'll look at you again three months later."
Dean opened his mouth to protest …
"He'll be there," said Sam, matter-of-factly.
"Do you have your meds?" asked Jenkins. Sam held up a paper bag full of tablet bottles, and shook it with a smile.
"Right, then", he said, "get out of here!"
The three men shook hands.
Doctor Jenkins turned to Dean, "you know, I've got a big brother who used to look out for me", he smiled, "probably still would if I let him!" He reflected for a moment, "he took care of me when I was a kid and being bullied. If it wasn't for him, I'd never have done so well at school and had the confidence to go on to med school." He gestured to his white coat, "I owe this to him", he smiled.
"Big brothers rock", he grinned, patting Dean on the shoulder, "you're lucky to have Sam!"
He walked out of the room, leaving behind a beaming Sam and a wordlessly gaping Dean.
Eventually, Sam stopped laughing enough to speak.
"C'mon, little bro'" he sniggered, beckoning to his outraged sibling, "let's go, d'y want a lollipop on the way out?"