The Stars Go Waltzing
Summary: Epilepsy sucks. Dean is awesome.
A/N: I don't know where this came from. It just popped into my head and then forced me to do a bunch of research on epilepsy. Hopefully I've got everything right. Enjoy.
Sam's head is pounding. All his muscles are aching and when he opens his eyes Dean is hovering over him, on his knees, and Sam is lying on the floor. Recovery position.
"'nother one?" he slurs vaguely, even though he knows.
"Yeah," Dean answers anyway. "C'mon, kiddo, lets get you to bed before you crash and I have to carry you."
Dean helps him up and mostly carries him anyway. He tries to help but he's so freaking tired that he feels like he's in some sort of warped dream. He's sore all over and even the lumpy motel bed feels awesome, though honestly, he could have just as easily gone to sleep on the floor. He's out as soon as Dean lowers him onto the mattress.
When Sam wakes, it's evening. The light has faded and the glowing neon motel sign has been switched on. It turns the whole motel room green through the useless curtains, even with the light on in the kitchenette.
Dean's making something on the small stove, stirring a pot absently. He turns when Sam looks at him, in that sixth sense kind of way he has when it comes to Sam, and immediately turns the stove off, taking the pot off the heat before making his way to Sam's bedside.
"Hey," he says quietly. Dean always knows when Sam's headache is lingering. "How you feeling?"
Sam tests his limbs tentatively. Still sore, but in a vague kind of way now. "'m okay."
Dean eyes him critically. "That was a bad one," he says finally. "You did your dying fish impression for almost three minutes. We should take that show on the road if you're gonna practice so hard anyway."
Sam manages a grin. Dean's the only one allowed to make jokes like that. At one school, after he had a seizure in class, a group of boys started doing their own impressions, falling to the ground and flailing about whenever he walked past.
He didn't tell Dean about it, maybe because it embarrassed him – seriously, did he really look like that? No wonder they were making fun of him – but one day it stopped and he never got bothered by them again. He knew that Dean had something (everything) to do with it, even though his big brother sometimes did his own hilarious impression of Sam's fits.
"Did you take your meds?" Dean asks, suddenly serious.
"Mmhm." Sam nods, gingerly pushing himself up. Dean automatically helps him, shifting the pillows to a position where Sam can lean against them comfortably.
"I'm thinking you should stay in bed for a while," Dean says, a little guardedly. Sometimes Sam gets fed up with the whole sick kid routine and just wants to get up and pretend everything's normal, even if it means walking around like an old man and falling asleep on the couch or at the table.
Not this time though. This time he's quite content to stay where he is and have dinner in bed, maybe watch some TV before he falls asleep again. He's still feeling drained and getting up would be far too much effort.
Dean takes his silence as acceptance and moves away from the bed.
"I made soup," he says on his way to the kitchen. He's using the word 'made' generously. What he actually means is 'I opened a can and warmed up the contents', but Sam doesn't mind. Dad's gonna be gone a few more days – he called last night to tell them – and money's running low. He vaguely remembers Dean saying something about hustling some pool but it looks like he's managed to put those plans on hold. Money problems are always his fault. His meds are expensive and always take priority over things like food, even though they barely seem to help.
"When Dad gets back, I'm gonna tell him we need to try some different meds for you," Dean says, like he's reading Sam's mind.
"D'you know 30 percent of people with epilepsy don't have seizure control even with the best medication?"
Dean shoots him a look over his shoulder, pausing in dishing up the soup. "Yeah, I can read too, Sam."
Sam plays with the sheets. Dean brings the soup over and hands a bowl to Sam, perching himself on the edge of the bed with his own bowl.
"D'you know 30 percent of people don't know the things we know?" he says.
Sam scoffs, twirling his soup around with his spoon. "I think the percentage is higher than that."
"Yeah, well, you know what I mean. We'll find something." Dean's not looking at him when he says it though.
"Like that witchdoctor Dad brought me to?" Sam says teasingly.
Dean's face darkens. "Don't joke about that. Bastard almost killed you."
Sam remembers, kind of. It was five years ago now, when he was nine, so the details are lost, but he does remember the hospital afterwards, the constant fits and the crushed look on Dad's face.
"Sorry," he mutters, looking down at his soup.
Dean nudges his knee with his elbow. "When Dad finds someone who's not bat-shit crazy, I'll let you know."
Sam doesn't say anything but he thinks anyone who claims they can cure epilepsy must be bat-shit crazy.
It sucks. Not only does it suck to be left behind on hunts, it also sucks that Dean has to stay behind and babysit him.
Sam likes having Dean around, of course, but he knows that Dean would rather be hunting with Dad or out with his friends or something. Dean never says it but it must be true. No 18 year old wants to be stuck at home (or motel, whatever) with their little brother.
But then, Dean never even acts like he'd rather be somewhere else, so maybe Sam's just being paranoid.
Whatever. Now though, the fact is that they have to go out. Both of them, because Sam can't be left alone. He's sure he'd be fine, really, but rules are rules and Dean listens to Dad when he gives him orders.
Sam's seem his older brother counting out their remaining cash and he knows just from the look on Dean's face that there's not enough to last. Dad was meant to be home four days ago but he keeps delaying it. The hunts more complicated than he thought, apparently, and his boys know how to look after themselves.
Right, well, there's a tiny problem with their ages. Dean has a fake ID that says he's old enough to get into bars but Sam has absolutely no chance. Of course, as Dad reminded them before he left, 'There's that hang out place for kids – that has pool tables.'
Sam doesn't want to go. So far he's managed not to make an idiot of himself by doing his dying fish thing in front of his classmates and he'd really like to keep it that way. It only takes one to ruin it and then everyone will be staring at him in the hallways and whispering to their friends about him and some of them will act like he's handicapped and some of them will make fun of him and it will just suck, okay?
There's no other option though and it's not like he's going to throw a tantrum like a four year old or try to convince Dean to go somewhere without him. He doesn't think Dean wants to go either – the most he'd make hustling in a place like that would be, like, five bucks a game, maybe ten if he played doubles with Sam, but Sam's not really feeling up to it. It's hard to trust his limbs after a seizure and playing pool is bound to make him feel like a loser who sucks at everything.
To top it off, he has an absence seizure in the Impala on the way over, apparently, just a little one, according to Dean, and they always make him feel disorientated and vague.
"You sure you're okay?" Dean asks as they head through the door.
"I'm fine," Sam says in his long suffering tone, and Dean playfully cuffs him on the back of his head.
It's crowded, Sam notes, both dismally and gladly. More people mean that Dean should be able to hustle faster but it also means that there are more people to gawk at him if he has a fit. He can see at least five people from his class.
There are two pool tables on one side of the room and a bunch of couches lined up along the walls. There's a radio playing but aside from pool there doesn't seem to be much in the form of entertainment. No one seems bothered though. Everyone's sitting or standing in groups, chatting away animatedly. Sam didn't think there would be so many people. It's a small town though, maybe there just isn't anywhere else to go.
It's okay, Sam will just sit on the unoccupied couch in the corner and do his homework. They haven't been here long enough for him to make friends. Honestly, he prefers it that way because anyone he does manage to get along with ends up getting a lecture from Dean about epilepsy and what to do if Sam has a freaking seizure and no 14 year old wants to deal with that. It's just easier to not make friends to start with. Then he doesn't have to watch his disorder scare people away.
"Sure you don't want to play?" Dean asks hopefully. He's trying to draw Sam out of his funk. "We could play a couple just you and me is you want."
Sam shakes his head, his thoughts are far too disorganised to focus on pool, and gestures at the couch so Dean will know where he'll be. Dean looks from the couch to the pool tables, checking to make sure Sam will be in his line of sight, looking like he's judging how long it would take him to get from one to the other.
It makes Sam feel protected. And smothered.
An hour and a half later, Dean's managed to draw a small crowd at the pool table. He's taking on Micky Green, a kid a couple of years older than Sam who's apparently the reigning champion of pool here and confident enough to bet twenty dollars. If Dean wins, which he will, they'll have 45 dollars. Enough to get through another couple of days.
Sam's just finished the last of his homework when the couch dips beside him.
"Your brother's pretty good at pool," a girls voice informs him.
Sam looks up, startled. It's Melanie... something. She's not in his class but he's seen her around, long blonde braids and short skirts. Dean's type, if she was older, and she's never shown the slightest bit of interest in him. Now she's sitting next to him. It's not that he wants to date her or anything, but she really is hot.
"Um, yeah," he says stupidly.
Melanie leans back on the couch, crossing her bare legs. "You brought homework here?" she asks distastefully, eyeing the books on Sam's lap.
"Uh, yeah," Sam says again. Damn it, why does he have to be such an idiot? He stumbles over himself trying to think of something less stupid to say. "I, um, had some things to finish... I've been sick."
And why did he have to say that? Sure, it's better than 'I've been unconscious 'cause of this thing in my head that makes me flail around like I'm being electrocuted' but now Melanie's inching away from him like he might be contagious.
"Oh, that sucks," she says, unsympathetic and disinterested, craning her neck to try to get a look through the crowd at the pool table. "So, how old is your brother?"
Oh. Of course. What other reason would she have for sitting with him? He bites his tongue to stop himself from spitting out, 'too old for you.'
"Eighteen," he says dully.
"That's cool," Melanie says. "So, you're, like, 12 or something?"
"Fourteen," Sam corrects, but he doubts she hears him because she suddenly lets out a squeal and starts waving her arms at a girl who's just walked through the door. The girl squeals in return and rushes over.
For a minute, Sam honestly can't make out any words in the excited gibbering. Not until Melanie turns to him and says, "Sean was just telling me about his brother."
"It's Sam," Sam says pointlessly. They're not paying any attention to him. Melanie's directing her friend's gaze to the pool table where Dean's lining up a shot.
"Ooooh, nice. Is he single?"
They both turn to look at him expectantly. Of course, that's when he feels it; a race of pins and needles over his skin. There's a rush of perfume suddenly staining the air that may or may not be real. This is what people call an aura but it's actually a seizure, just one that he can actually think through. Simple Partial Seizure. If he's lucky it won't progress.
"Can you get my brother?" he asks instead of answering the question, but he doesn't think it comes out right because the girls just stare at him. Complex Partial Seizure; inability to communicate. He can feel his hand start up a repetitive jerking. Everything's getting fuzzy.
Sam tries to catch sight of Dean through the crowd but the pool table is surrounded. He hears a cheer rumble up from the onlookers but it's warped like slow motion and then everything kind of disappears.
"... off. Everyone just back the fuck off!"
Sam opens his eyes, or maybe they were already open, he's not sure, but black leather fills his vision. Another blink and the image widens so he can see Dean, on his knees and yelling something over his shoulder.
Another blink and the leather jacket swoops over him and drapes across his midsection.
"Wha...?" His head hurts, like his brain has squished itself up into a tiny tense ball, and he feels like he's been asleep for years and has only just woken up. He can't remember where he is, doesn't know what happened.
Dean immediately turns back to him and dips his head lower. "Hey, kiddo."
Oh. Some of the fog lifts. Dean always calls him 'kiddo' after a seizure.
"Is he okay?" a far too shrill voice demands. Melanie drops down beside Dean, her hand on his shoulder, and it all comes back, where they are and how many people are there and if he wasn't so freaking exhausted he'd be embarrassed. There'll be time for humiliation later, of course.
Melanie misses the warning glare Dean sends her, staring down at Sam like he's some kind of exciting specimen to be studied.
Dean shrugs her hand off his shoulder. "He's fine," he says tersely. "He just needs everyone to back off."
Melanie doesn't take the hint. "God, it was so scary. He just fell."
If she thinks she's making her way in with Dean, she's wrong. There's nothing that pisses Dean off faster than someone trying to take his attention away from Sam when Sam needs it.
Dean ignores her, smoothing back the hair on Sam's forehead. "You with me, Sam?"
"Yeah." It comes out thick. He must have clamped down on his tongue. Great, that's gonna hurt for a few days.
"Do you need me to call an ambulance?" Melanie pushes in.
"I need you to back off!" Dean snaps, rounding on the girl. The glare he gives her almost scares Sam, it's that intense. Melanie flushes bright red and hurriedly gets to her feet, dashing out of Sam's field of vision.
"C'mon, kiddo," Dean says gently, all traces of anger gone. "Let's get out of here, yeah?"
He helps Sam sit up. The crowd of kids may have backed off but there's still a crowd, just standing a few feet back. Dean firmly places himself between the kids and Sam, and Sam realizes that there's more to it than just simple privacy when Dean moves his jacket.
It's only when he sees it that Sam notices that he's wet. Immediately he can feel himself flushing. He thought he was too groggy to be embarrassed but he was wrong. He's mortified.
"Hey, it's okay," Dean murmurs, quiet enough that no one else can hear, as he threads Sam's arms through the sleeves of his jacket. "Not your fault."
Sam has never been happier about the height difference between him and his brother. It means that Dean's jacket hangs almost to his knees and hides that damp patch of his jeans. He wonders vaguely what 'normal' high school students worry about, what he'd worry about if he didn't have to worry about pissing himself in front of everyone.
Dean pulls him to his feet. He does his best to hold himself up on the – too slow- walk to the door, but he can feel the stares on his back, it's like they're weighing him down. He just wants to go to sleep and forget that this happened. He should have given it up as a bad day after the absence seizure and convinced Dean to take him back to the motel.
Dean has an arm slung around him, holds him up against his side, but when they finally get out the door and out of sight of the kids inside, he hoists Sam up into his arms and carries him the rest of the way to the Impala. Sam lets his head rest against his brothers chest, too tired to hold it up.
"Di' e'eryone see?" he mumbles sleepily.
He feels Dean tense, thinks maybe he's gonna lie but Sam would just find out at school anyway.
"That stupid girl started screaming," Dean says finally, so yeah, everyone saw. Awesome. He wonders how much and gives a brief thought to what Melanie's face would look like if he told her that she'd just destroyed any chance she might have had with his brother.
Dean opens the Impala door without Sam even noticing and carefully lowers him into the passenger seat.
"Di' you finish the game?"
"No. Doesn't matter."
It does, kind of. That extra twenty probably meant the difference between two minute noodles and burgers but it's not like Sam's gonna suggest that Dean go back in there.
"Sorry," he mutters.
"Shut up, Sammy."
Next thing Sam knows, Dean's lifting him out of the passenger seat.
"We're at the motel," Dean says, before Sam's even opened his eyes.
"Issit school tomorrow?" he asks as Dean carries him to their room. Dean's so skilled at this that he can open doors without jostling him around. He holds Sam like he weighs nothing. Dean's had a lot of practice.
"Yeah," Dean says regretfully. "You don't have to go if you don't want to."
"I don't want to."
Dean's so different to Dad. Dad would tell him to tough it out, that he's gonna have to get over it, even though Dad's the one always looking for a cure. If he really thought he was gonna find something, why would he be telling Sam he needs to get used to this?
"Awesome. Day off for us then. We should have a movie marathon or something." Dean lowers him onto the closed toilet seat and undoes his jeans. "D'you wanna take it from here?"
"Yeah," Sam mutters, dropping his head.
"Hey." Dean puts his hand under Sam's chin, pushing his head back up. "You don't get to be embarrassed in front of me, remember? It's not like I give a damn, it's not your fault."
One of Dean's rules, just like how he's the only one allowed to make jokes.
"Yeah, I know. It's just..."
"Tough night, I know." Dean ruffles his hair and turns the shower on as he goes, leaving the bathroom door ajar.
Sam strips his clothes off slowly and he has to lean heavily against the wall in the shower. He'd sit down but he'd probably fall asleep. When he steps out of the stall he finds that Dean's left some fresh boxers, sweatpants and a t-shirt folded on the toilet seat. He doesn't remember hearing Dean come in.
Once he's dressed he stumbles wearily to his bed and collapses on it face first.
"You might be more comfortable under the covers, kid," he hears Dean say.
"Uh-uh," he denies.
Dean huffs an amused sigh and a moment later a blanket covers him. Must be the one from Dean's bed.
"You sure you're okay?" Dean asks. "You didn't whack your head or anything, right?"
"Nah." Sam rolls his head to the side and opens his eyes when he feels Dean sit down on the bed. "That girl was into you."
Dean frowns. "What girl?"
"The one that screamed."
"Oh. Too bad I don't like idiots." He grins. "I like you though."
Sam smiles, closing his eyes again. "Thanks. Kinda like you too."
Dean pats his shoulder. "Go to sleep, kiddo."
Sam drifts off to the sound of Dean humming Iron Maiden under his breath.