I've Been Prayin', But Seems Like Ain't Nobody There
Summary: Sam just wants to play soccer. John and Dean don't think it's a good idea. Epilepsy 'Verse
A/N/: Title from 'Life Ain't Fair' by Josh Charles and Milton L. Brown.
Apparently, I was feeling angsty so the boys got angsty too.
"It's not fair!" Sam yells, effectively ending the argument as he turns sharply and storms off to his room.
"Don't lock the door," Dean calls over his shoulder from his place on the couch, because Sam's been being all stupid about his epilepsy lately and it's something the kid might just do if he's angry enough. Sam's reply is slamming his door so hard it makes the whole run-down house shake.
John sighs and steadies his bottle of beer on the table so it doesn't spill over his research. He casts a glance at Dean.
"You agree, don't you? I'm not trying to be unreasonable. It's just too dangerous."
Dean swings his foot back and forth over the arm of the threadbare couch. "You've been telling him 'maybe next year' since he was ten, Dad."
John rubs his forehead. "I just don't think that much physical exertion will do him any good. He already trains with you, and you know how it is, kid gets the tiniest bit excited or worked up and bam! Sammy's on the floor."
Yeah, Dean does know how it is and it's exactly like that. Sammy knows it too but that doesn't make it any easier on the kid. "He just wants to be normal. He wants to fit in somewhere. You know how much trouble he has making friends."
John raises his eyebrows at him. "You can't honestly be telling me that you want Sammy to play soccer."
He's not. "Of course I want him to, Dad. I want Sammy to be able to do things other kids take for granted." He unhooks his leg from the arm of the couch and sits up properly. "But I know why he shouldn't. I'm with you on this, but you've got to understand how hard this is on Sam."
"Jesus, Dean, I know this is hard on him." John sets his beer on the table with a thump. "I'm doing everything I can to find something that'll help him. But until I do, I'm not going to put him in a situation that could bring on fits."
Dean watches John's fingers flex around the bottle. "I know."
John takes a long gulp, draining his beer. "It's not fair," he says, seemingly to the bottle. "But it's just the way it is. Sam can join some other club."
"You know," Dean says in the car the next day on his way to drop Sam off at school. "Dad just doesn't want you to get hurt."
Sam makes a face. "I don't want Dad to get hurt but he goes and hunts monsters. I just want to play soccer."
Dean drums his fingers on the steering wheel. "It's complicated, you know that, Sammy."
When is the kid going to realise that he's always going to be Sammy? "Well, Sam, you know that Dad's right, don't you." It's not a question. Sam does know, but Sam shoots him a disgusted look anyway.
"I can't believe you're taking his side."
"It's not like that," Dean says, shaking his head. "I'm on whatever side keeps you safe."
"I'm not safe anywhere, Dean!" Sam exclaims angrily. "Walking up freaking stairs isn't safe, crossing the road isn't safe, fucking concrete isn't safe. If I had a fit playing soccer, I'd just hit the grass. I'd be fine."
God, why can't Sam just drop it? "And you're fine with the whole team watching you?" Dean snaps. "The team you're playing? And the coaches and parents and everyone else in the bleachers? Sam, you hate having seizures in front of people, and now you're saying you want to put on a display for a whole freaking field of spectators? You're being ridiculous."
Sam folds his arms over his chest but he doesn't look mad any more. Worse, now he looks upset. "I just want to play soccer," he says quietly. "Why does it have to be such a big deal?"
Oh God, there is nothing worse than a sad Sammy (except a seizing Sammy). It always makes Dean want to cave and hug him and tell him he can do whatever he wants to. But he can't and that's just the facts.
Dean settles for ruffling his hair and Sam doesn't try to duck away like he usually does. "I'm sorry, kid. It's not fair, I know, but it is a big deal."
Sam sits there in silence for a while, and God, what Dean wouldn't do to get that look off of Sammy's face. He doesn't know how to make this better though so he doesn't try.
"Do you think Dad will find something soon?" Sam asks finally, which takes Dean by surprise. Sam doesn't ask usually, and Dad just quietly does his research between hunts and it's understood that if Dad found anything that he thought could work, everyone would know about it so they could focus all their research abilities on it.
It doesn't happen often and Dean's kind of grateful for that, because the few things they've found so far have either ended in heartbreaking disappointment or actual danger to Sammy's health. Next time Dad finds something, it had better be the real deal.
"Maybe," Dean says, even though he knows that Dad has no leads to follow right now and no new ideas. "You never know."
"That's what he means when he says 'maybe next year', isn't it?" Sam says. "Like, maybe next year we'll have found a cure."
"Yeah, that's what he means." Dean nods. "Dad wants you to be able to play soccer too, Sammy."
"Sam," Sam corrects automatically.
Sam sighs this sad hopeless sigh. "Dean, I don't want to keep waiting until 'maybe next year'. I don't want to not be able to play soccer and have to sit out PE and get left behind on hunts and have you babysit me all the time. I don't want to have epilepsy. Can't some doctors find the part of my brain that spazzes out and just cut it out?"
"Hey," Dean says sharply, because this has already been discussed and Dean does not need to spend the day with images of some fucking surgeons digging around in Sammy's head flashing in front of his eyes. "No one is slicing into your freaking brain. That's a last resort and we don't need it. We're going to find something else."
Sam flinches down in his seat, pulling his hands into the sleeves of his hoodie so all Dean can see of him is clothes and hair, and he regrets his harsh tone.
"Hey," he says, a lot more gently. He nudges Sam's shoulder with his elbow, trying to lighten the mood. "You know, if you had brain surgery, the doctors would shave your head. What would you do without that mop to hide behind?"
Sam doesn't move. "I wouldn't care," he mutters. "I wouldn't care because I wouldn't be sick any more. I'd rather shave my head and be cured than have hair and be epileptic."
Well, that didn't help. "You're kidding," Dean says, kind of stunned. "You love your hair."
Sam just shrugs.
Dean sighs. "We'll find another way, Sam."
Sam's hands burst out of his sleeves to slap at the dash. Dean barely contains the scolding that usually goes with Sam hurting his baby, and only because Sam's suddenly so angry. "I'm sick of hearing you and Dad say that! You think it makes me feel better? It doesn't!" Sam does look up now, anguish sharp on his face.
Dean's at a loss. "You brought it up in the first place," he points out.
Sam's shoulders slump and the anger disappears as if it was never there. "No, Dad brought it up first, years ago, and now I'm stuck hoping he'll find a cure. I wish he'd just told me that this is something I have to live with. Waiting makes it so much worse."
Dean's struck speechless. Surely some hope is better than no hope at all? All this time he thought that they were reassuring Sammy and now... could they really have been making things worse by trying to convince the kid that one day they'll find a cure for him?
Then he thinks, why can't Sam just believe in them? It's not false hope they're offering. He knows that they'll find something, eventually. There's no other option. It's their mission, just as much as finding the thing that killed Mom is, and Dean's sure that one day they'll be able to fix the kid.
Dean rubs a hand over his face. "Look, Sammy, I'm sorry that things-"
"No," Sam cuts him off urgently. "Dean, I feel weird."
Dean's head snaps to the side automatically, looking the kid over, although he doesn't now what he's looking for. Whatever is happening in the kids head isn't visible, yet.
"Yeah?" he asks, even though Sam wouldn't say anything if he felt fine. He's already looking for a place to pull over. These things don't give Sam much notice, usually none at all.
"Yeah," Sam manages to say but his voice doesn't sound right and Dean's barely got the Impala braked at the side of the road when the seizure starts.
He throws an arm out across Sam's chest to stop him from slamming into the dash with their abrupt stop but the seizure throws him back against the seat anyway, twisting him backwards. Kid always arches back during fits, usually around 30 or 40 degrees. Dean's seen this kid have so many seizures, by now it's another way to judge how bad the fit is. Usually, the further back Sam arches, the longer the fit lasts and the longer the recovery time needed, the more pain Sam's in when it's over.
Right now, Sam's probably arching about 30 degrees, head slammed hard against the seat. One of his arms is smacking against the door, the other against Dean's hip. He loves the Impala, but she sucks for seizures, even though Sam's still small for a 15 year old. She's too cramped, too hard, to many things for Sam to break bones against, and Dean's about to jump out and drag Sammy from the car so he can rest the kid's head in his lap and let him flail around on the grass that edges the pavement when Sam slumps in his seat. Just like that, it's over.
Dean blows out a relieved breath in the sudden stillness. Okay, that wasn't too bad. Sure, it could have been a lot better but a grand mal lasting only 20 seconds? It could have been a lot worse.
"Hey, Sammy." Dean leans over him, touches his face to see if he'll get a response. The kid's eyes are open but not focussing yet, still dazed. Dean reaches over and gently picks up the arm that was smacking the door, inspecting it for injury. There will be bruises but he doesn't think it's broken.
He sets it down on Sam's lap and the kid lets out a moan.
"Hey, there you are," Dean says gently. "It's over now, you're okay, kiddo."
Sam doesn't lift his head but slowly turns it too look at Dean. "D'nnnn." He takes a breath, trying to pull himself back together. "...I have..?"
"Yeah, you had a fit. Not too bad. Well, it was short, at least, but school's out of the question. We're going back to the motel."
Sam groans and closes his eyes. "'s not fair," he mumbles.
It's not. It's not fair that this happens to Sam several times a week. It's not fair that a minute ago Sam was fine and now he's going to spend the rest of the day in bed, sleeping this seizure off. It's not fair that Sam's back hurts and head hurts and probably everything else hurts, and it's not fair that Sam can't play soccer.
Dean wants to say, 'Sammy, I promise we'll find something', but that's not fair either.
So instead he just says, "I know, kiddo," and turns the car around.
Sam rests his head on his shoulder and cries quietly into his leather jacket until he falls asleep.