Summary: Pre-series – Appendicitis Sam / Big Brother Dean / Daddy Winchester / Awesome Bobby – Dean mentally sorted symptoms and associated diagnoses so he would be ready to triage and treat his little brother should Sam's sickness take a turn for the worst.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Warnings: Just the usual language...
A/N: For kkbelvis's birthday today; an expansion of one of her favorite drabbles of mine (Truck Stop) featuring her often requested appendicitis Sam. Happy Birthday, KK!
Before the worst...before too late... ~ The Script
"M'sorry," Sam gasped, his weak voice hollowly echoing as his head was bent; his pale, sweaty face hovering over the public toilet.
Dean shook his head from where he stood awkwardly positioned behind his 12-year old brother as they were both crammed into the small bathroom stall; Sam kneeling on the grimy floor while Dean leaned over him, supporting the kid's sagging head.
"Sorry for what?" Dean asked, glaring over his shoulder at the sounds of someone banging on the locked bathroom door; undoubtedly a driver of one of the many 18-wheelers parked on the lot outside the truck stop.
"Hey!" a man's voice yelled, muffled by the barrier. "I gotta take a piss!"
"Too bad," Dean replied dryly – because a sick kid brother would always take priority over a stranger's bladder – and turned back to Sam just as the kid threw up again.
"Easy, Sammy," Dean urged quietly, frowning at the heat radiating from his brother; even though the fever only confirmed what Dean had known since Sam had gotten up this morning.
The kid had just had that look; that hard-to-explain look that had instantly put Dean on alert.
And then when Sam had pulled on his hoodie, had refused breakfast, and had promptly fell asleep in the passenger seat before they had even left the motel parking lot, Dean had known it would only be a matter of time – about two hours – before the puking would begin.
And he had been right.
Dean sighed. "Sammy..."
Sam coughed, then spit; breathing heavily through his mouth as his head stayed down.
"M'sorry," he sobbed once more before Dean could say anything else.
Dean's frowned deepened. "For what, Sammy?"
"This," Sam responded simply, his breath hitching in his throat.
Dean smiled affectionately, recognizing his brother's apology for the embarrassment it was.
"It's okay, kiddo," he soothed and rubbed Sam's back for emphasis even as the angry pounding continued on the other side of the bathroom door. "It's not like I haven't seen you puke before, right?"
Sam groaned and then swallowed hard. "Don't say 'puke', Dean."
Dean chuckled through his own grimace of pain; his lower back muscles beginning to cramp from the awkward way he was literally hovering over Sam in the bathroom stall.
"Are we almost done here?" Dean asked, already knowing the answer and yet unable to stop the question because his back was quickly becoming a burning mass of knotted muscles.
Sam shook his head once, still curled over the toilet.
Dean nodded – no surprise there – and bit the inside corner of his mouth as he once again tried to shift to a more comfortable stance behind his brother.
"Hey!" another man's voice suddenly yelled on the opposite side of the bathroom door.
Sam flinched as Dean scowled over his shoulder.
"Is the door still locked?" the man from earlier asked.
"Yeah," the other man answered. "Annoying little fuckers."
"I'll get Pete," someone else announced.
And Dean could only assume Pete was the owner of this fine establishment – Big Daddy Pete's Truck Stop.
"They're m-mad," Sam reported needlessly, his distress evident in his voice.
"Eh, who cares?" Dean soothed, keeping his tone light even as he was getting a little mad – a little pissed – himself.
Because they had enough to deal with right now without assholes yelling at them about something completely out of their control; it's not like Sam wanted to be throwing up.
The kid absolutely hated to puke; would usually exhaust himself trying to fight the urge and then would end up even sicker for his efforts.
Case in point...
For the past 20 minutes, Sam had been throwing up, and there was no way Dean was letting in an audience to witness the gory details.
It was already enough that the poor kid had hurled in the parking lot beside the Impala.
Dean shook his head at the memory – because that had been a close one.
Of course, if Sam had puked in the Impala, Dean would love him no less.
Dean sighed, remembering Sam's expression of misery as his little brother had looked up at him once Dean had crossed to the passenger side.
"Dean..." Sam had whimpered, right arm around his stomach as it had continued to cramp, threatening an encore performance.
"It's okay," Dean had soothed automatically and then had paused when Sam had stared past him.
Tears had instantly welled in the kid's eyes when Sam had realized he was being stared at by a few inconsiderate assholes nearby who had witnessed the entire scene.
Dean had glared heatedly over his shoulder and had flipped the gawkers off before turning back to Sam.
"It's okay, Sammy," he had assured his shy, sensitive little brother; stepping forward to block the assholes' view of Sam and to help the kid to his feet. "Let's just get you inside and wait for Dad, okay?"
Sam had nodded as Dean had eased him up from the passenger seat and then had maneuvered them both around the vomit splattered in the gravel beside the Impala.
They had entered the truck stop – attracting a few curious glances – and had been about six steps from the bathroom before Dean had felt Sam tense beside him; the kid's shoulders going rigid beneath Dean's arm and telling Dean all he had needed to know.
In the next instant, Dean had half carried, half pushed Sam into the bathroom and straight into the first stall; had heard Sam hurling again as he had turned back to lock the door before ending up where he was now – hovering behind Sam in the same stall.
Dean sighed and winced as his back muscles throbbed. "Hey, Sammy..."
Sam swallowed and shifted, his knees beginning to hurt from holding his position over the toilet. "Hmm..."
Dean opened his mouth to speak but stopped as another voice suddenly yelled from the small hall outside the bathroom door.
"What the fuck is going on in there?" the voice gruffly demanded.
"The door's been locked for almost half an hour, Pete," the man from earlier reported.
"That so?" Pete asked, and then banged on the locked door. "Hey! What – "
The voice and the banging suddenly stopped; followed by shocked, curious murmuring...and then silence.
"That's enough," a new voice ordered coolly, confidently; like it was used to being followed and dared anyone to disobey...because the voice's boots would love to kick somebody's ass.
Dean grinned; because he would've recognized that voice and that attitude anywhere.
"Dad's here," Dean whispered to Sam and felt his brother's sweaty head bob in agreement within his grasp as he still supported the kid's forehead.
"Jesus!" Pete hissed, and Dean could picture the man vigorously rubbing his hand as John released him from the bone-crushing grasp the oldest Winchester had used to stop Pete from banging on the door seconds earlier.
There was a beat of silence, and Dean knew the others – however many there were outside the bathroom by now – were sizing up John; were trying to determine if he was indeed a threat.
"Who the fuck are you?" Pete demanded, and a few other voices murmured their similar demands.
But John didn't answer.
Dean quirked a smile, imagining the others in the narrow hall exchanging nervous glances before their gazes flickered back to stare at the badass wonder of John Winchester.
"Dad's so cool," Dean commented quietly to Sam.
Sam hummed his distracted agreement; the quiet sound muffled by John's voice.
"Dean? You in there?"
Dean turned as much as he could in the cramped stall and glanced over his shoulder. "Yes, sir."
...which Dean knew John already knew.
For one thing, they were supposed to meet here; it was decided last night over dinner before they had separated at the diner – John going a couple towns over on a solo hunt while Sam and Dean had headed back to the motel to research the next hunt.
And for another thing, upon arrival John would have immediately checked the parking lot for the Impala and probably had seen the evidence splattered in the gravel on the passenger side that had led him straight to this bathroom.
"Is Sam with you?"
Dean scowled his annoyance at being asked such a stupid question.
Because where else would the kid be?
"Dean..." John called, a margin of alarm in his voice.
"Yes, sir," Dean confirmed and rolled his eyes. "Sammy's with me.
As if on cue, Sam curled over the toilet with a low moan.
Dean frowned, instantly refocusing on his brother. "Sammy..."
Sam's only response was to gasp and then gag.
Dean winced in sympathy and rubbed the kid's back.
There was silence on the other side of the bathroom door, and Dean knew John could hear Sam; knew their dad was only receiving auditory confirmation of what the oldest Winchester had already suspected based on what John had undoubtedly seen in the parking lot beside the Impala – that their youngest was one sick puppy.
"Wait a minute..." Pete commented, clearly startled and confused, and Dean could picture Pete putting two and two together...unlike his patrons. "Is that a kid throwing up in there?"
"Yeah," John answered brusquely, and Dean heard the distinct clank of John's lock pick set being removed from his pocket. "It's my kid."
Dean nodded, identifying with the possessiveness in John's voice; knowing exactly how John felt because Sam was Dean's kid, too.
Sam coughed, spit, and then shifted; lifting his head. "Dean..."
"Yeah, Sammy," Dean answered, also shifting in the small space as it seemed Sam wanted to stand up.
"I think I'm done. And I can't sit here anymore. My legs hurt," Sam confessed hoarsely and braced his hands against the dingy toilet seat as he prepared to push himself to his feet.
"Bet so," Dean agreed, keeping his back pain to himself. "But wait a minute, okay? Let me help you."
Sam nodded, allowing Dean to lift him up and steady him just as the bathroom's doorknob began to rattle.
"Dad's coming," Dean reported, reaching to flush the toilet before opening the stall's door and guiding Sam over to the sink hanging on the far wall.
Sam nodded, recognizing the familiar sound of a lock being picked.
"What are you doing? I've got keys," Pete reminded John with a jangle of what he offered just as the lock turned with a click and the bathroom door opened.
"So do I," John replied dryly, pocketing his lock pick and actually smiling at the expression on Pete's face.
"Man, who are you?"
John didn't hesitate. "I'm Batman," he responded, and then entered the bathroom and closed the door behind him; locking it once again from the inside.
Dean grinned even as he carefully positioned Sam to stand over the sink – just in case – and reached for a handful of paper towels.
That was awesome. He would have to remember that, so he could use it later himself.
Pete's laughter echoed in the hall outside the bathroom. "Alright, fellas. Show's over," he told the group of truckers. "Get your asses back on the road, huh?"
"I still gotta piss!" one man yelled.
"Me, too!" another one agreed.
"Not my problem," Pete answered sharply. "I ain't lettin' y'all bother a sick kid."
Dean nodded appreciatively at Pete's words – and at the sounds of the crowd reluctantly dispersing – and then glanced at John as he approached. "Hey, Dad."
John nodded his own greeting to Dean and then focused on Sam; his expression concerned as his eyes swept over his youngest and then back to Dean. "How long?"
Dean reached around Sam to turn on the faucet and wet the paper towels he held. "He's been throwing up for about 20 minutes, but I knew something was wrong when he got up this morning."
John nodded thoughtfully. "Something he ate?"
Dean shook his head. "I don't think so. He's got a fever. Plus, if it was dinner, he would've gotten sick last night. But he didn't. And he didn't eat breakfast, so..."
John nodded again, still staring at Sam.
Sam shifted under his father's gaze, used to being discussed by Dean and John like he wasn't standing right there with them but unable to muster the energy to be annoyed.
Because he felt like complete and utter crap.
Sam swallowed and continued to lean over the sink; the enamel cracked and stained; the damp, sour odor drifting up from the drain doing nothing to settle his nausea.
"Maybe just a virus then," John concluded, still looking worried but sounding relieved; because they dealt with viruses all the time; part of life on the road.
It just sucked that Sam always seemed to be the most susceptible to them.
"Maybe," Dean agreed about the possibility of a virus and wrung the damp paper towels before shaking them out. "Sammy..."
Sam turned toward his brother's voice but then immediately turned back to the sink, choking out a strangled, distressed sound.
Dean frowned in recognition of what that sound meant. "Again? Really?"
Sam nodded jerkily and swallowed hard.
Dean and John exchanged glances.
Sam coughed. "Dean..."
"I know, Sammy. I know," Dean assured; passing the paper towels to John before falling into place beside Sam; rubbing his hand back and forth across the kid's quivering back.
Sam's breath hitched, and he swallowed again.
"It's okay, Sam," John soothed, folding the cool, damp paper towels and placing them on the back of his son's sweaty neck. "Just breathe, buddy."
"Breathe, but don't fight it," Dean amended, knowing exactly what Sam was doing.
John glanced at Dean and nodded at the advice; because he knew, too.
There was silence – no banging on the bathroom door, no loud angry voices; just the white noise of the running water mixed with the shallow pants and audible swallows of a 12-year old kid.
Sam took a shaky breath; his arms trembling as they braced against either side of the sink; his head dipping forward as he lost the battle with his rebelling stomach.
"D – " he began but was abruptly interrupted as his body lurched forward, retching watery vomit in the sink.
"Easy," Dean soothed, continuing to rub his brother's back.
Sam gasped noisily in response and then shuddered, his head bobbing forward.
Dean and John both instantly reached for their youngest; but it was Dean who slid his hand under Sam's bangs, blocking the kid from smacking his forehead on the faucet.
John quirked a sad yet proud smile as Sam sagged into Dean's touch; because nobody took care of Sam like Dean.
Several moments passed before Sam finished coughing and spitting and then sighed deeply.
Dean and John exchanged glances, both nodding their agreement that the latest wave of nausea had passed for their youngest.
"Yeah, Sammy," Dean answered, removing the paper towels from Sam's neck and giving a final rub to his brother's back. "You good?"
Sam nodded. "I think so," he reported hoarsely.
"Good," Dean praised and watched as Sam cupped water in his small hand.
Sam exhaled shakily as he leaned forward to drink; taking a few cautious sips, then holding the cool liquid in his mouth before swirling it around and spitting it out.
"Ready?" Dean asked patiently.
Sam nodded again, splashing water over his mouth and down his chin before easing away from the sink and straightening to his full height; even if his full height still made him look like he was 10 instead of 12.
John reached to turn off the water as Dean grabbed a few dry paper towels and handed them to Sam.
Both father and big brother watched as their youngest dried his face and then blinked up at them.
Sam attempted a smile. "Hey, Dad."
John smiled in return at the casual greeting; like Sam hadn't just spent the past five minutes throwing up in the dirty sink of a truck stop bathroom. "Hey yourself, kiddo."
Sam's smile widened briefly at the affectionate tone and nickname before he winced and wrapped his right arm around his stomach.
John glanced at Dean and then back at Sam, frowning.
"My stomach hurts," Sam admitted shyly, ducking his head at the admission.
John snorted good-naturedly. "Yeah, I'd say we had already figured that part out," he teased and winked at Sam as he squatted in front of his youngest; taking in the kid's pale face and sweaty bangs.
"What else hurts, Sammy?" Dean asked, brushing Sam's bangs out of his eyes so they could see him better. "And don't bullshit us."
Sam swatted weakly at Dean's hand and scowled.
Dean chuckled. "Don't bitchface us, either."
Sam held the expression and then swallowed, wrinkling his nose before swallowing again.
Dean's smile instantly dropped. "Sammy..."
Sam shook his head carefully. "I'm okay," he assured.
"You don't look okay," John corrected, sliding his hand under Sam's damp bangs and feeling his son's overly-warm forehead. "How long have you had this fever?"
John glanced at Dean.
"He didn't have it earlier this morning," Dean reported as John knew he would. "So, maybe just the past hour or so..."
John nodded, moving his hand to Sam's stomach and gently nudging the kid's arm away. "Let me see, Sammy."
Sam reluctantly moved his arm, glancing at Dean as his big brother reached toward him and gently squeezed the back of his neck in silent comfort.
Sam tried to smile his appreciation to Dean but only squinted against the pain and then actually flinched when John pressed against a particularly tender area near his lower right abdomen.
John paused, his concern instantly increased. "That hurt?"
Sam swallowed and nodded bravely. "Kinda."
John tilted his head. "Sammy..."
Sam shifted under his father's gaze. "Yes, sir," he confessed and once again wrapped his arm around his midsection. "It really does hurt right there."
John nodded and then looked at Dean; not wanting to scare Sam but needing his oldest to know this had the potential to be serious. "We'll need to keep a watch on that."
Dean returned the nod. "Yes, sir."
John sighed and then forced a smile as he glanced back at Sam. "I think you're okay for the most part, kiddo. You've just picked up one hell of a virus."
Sam scrunched his face. "Sorry, Dad."
John shook his head, his smile becoming softer and more genuine. "Not your fault, Sammy. Just one of those sucky parts of life, huh?"
Sam nodded and shifted on his feet, leaning a little more toward Dean and resting against his brother's side.
Dean wrapped his arm around the kid's shoulders, recognizing the slightly clingy gesture for what it was – proof of how tired and crappy Sam felt.
John recognized it, too.
"Alright, boys…" he began, his knees creaking as he stood up from where he had squatted in front of Sam. "I think maybe you two should head on over to Bobby's a little early while I finish up here."
Sam's eyes widened slightly. "Really?"
John nodded. "Really."
There was a beat of silence.
Dean narrowed his eyes. "Should we be saying 'Christo' or something?"
John snorted. "No. I'm my usual charming self," he assured dryly and then paused, looking at Sam. "I'm just a little concerned about you, Sammy. And I don't think you should be on the road with a fever."
Dean arched an eyebrow. "Since when? We've been on the road with fevers before."
John's voice faded; not wanting to unnecessarily scare Sam with his suspicions of something more serious because fever, vomiting, and abdomen tenderness could also just as easily – and probably more likely – be a stomach flu virus.
Sam had had such viruses before.
But something felt off this time.
Maybe it was paternal instinct...or something.
John sighed, his gaze flickering between his sons.
"I just think we should take it easy this time," he finally explained. "Make sure it's nothing more serious than a virus."
Dean nodded, hearing John's underlying message and mentally sorting symptoms and associated diagnoses so he would be ready to triage and treat his little brother should Sam's sickness take a turn for the worst.
Sam shifted uncomfortably against Dean's side and yawned. "Can we go?"
Dean chuckled and glanced down at his little brother. "In a hurry, princess?"
Sam shrugged and then shifted again restlessly. "Please?"
Dean's expression softened at the quiet, pleading tone of Sam's voice; all traces of teasing instantly gone. "Yeah, Sammy. We can go. Right, Dad?"
John nodded. "Absolutely," he agreed, affectionately rustling Sam's floppy hair.
Sam smiled tiredly.
John's attention lingered on his youngest as worry continued to quietly gnaw at his own stomach, and then he turned away, crossing to the bathroom door.
His arm still around his brother's shoulders, Dean nudged Sam forward to follow their dad; pausing just long enough for John to check the small hallway beyond the bathroom and then signal all was clear.
"Alright, Sammy..." Dean sighed, steering his brother out of the bathroom and into the main area of the truck stop. "Over the hills and through the woods to Uncle Bobby's house we go, huh?"
"Yeah," Sam agreed quietly, hoping he was only imagining everybody staring at him as they walked toward the exit; wondering if the truckers had heard him throwing up earlier.
The thought made Sam's stomach cramp all over again, and he instinctively tucked himself closer to Dean as they continued to follow John through the truck stop.
Dean felt his brother tense beside him and glanced down. "You okay?"
Sam didn't respond.
Dean nodded, knowing the kid's latest mood swing had nothing to do with being sick and everything to do with being embarrassed.
"Tell you what..." Dean began as they finally exited the truck stop and entered the parking lot; the Impala and John's truck within sight. "What d'ya say shotgun picks music on the way to Bobby's house?"
Sam glanced up through his fringe of bangs. "Yeah?"
Dean nodded, Sam's hopeful excitement totally worth whatever crap he was about to subject himself to listening to for the next hour. "Yeah."
TBC - I'm currently writing chapter two, so hopefully it will be ready to post by the end of the week...