What in holy hell is wrong with Sam?
Disclaimer: Nope no monies or any goodies have passed hands for this story, just an awesome prompt and an interesting idea that popped in my head.
Characters: Sam (28), Dean (32), Bobby and by special appearance John Winchester.
Medical information: Not in any way am I a healthcare worker by any stretch of the imagination just did some creative research on google and .com
There's something wrong with Sam. It's not a hunting injury Sam has been hiding for the last week coming to bite them in the ass, and its not some freaky supernatural curse, (Dean looked for hex bags). Sam is in pain, Sam is really unwell, and he just keeps getting worse. Over the course of a month, Dean takes him to one clinic after another, but the doctors can't diagnose for crap, one of them even has the nerve to accuse Sam of faking it, while Sam sits on the examining table freaking crying he's hurting that much! No medication they prescribe works, painkillers barely take the edge off, and Dean is slowly losing his mind as he watches his little brother slowly decay. What in holy hell is wrong with Sam?
Sam and Dean stood in the doorway of their current home away from where and stared in dismay at the condition of the room. They were used to staying in some flea bitten places but as they were concerned, this was the worst of the worst.
The wallpaper would have once been an interesting geometric pattern but now it was old, faded and peeling away from the stained and damp walls. The two beds had relatively clean sheets and blankets on them and the kitchenette looked like a St Valentine's Day massacre had taken place in it. There were distinctive bullet holes in the wall above the sink and the stove, the benches had initials from past guests carved into them amongst the damage of wear and tear. The microwave door was hanging by the top hinge and the fridge had a strange odour about it.
Dean glanced up at Sam's face just as Sam looked down at him, 'home sweet home huh Sammy?' Dean smirked as he dropped his duffle on the closest bed and then rubbed his hands together, 'rock paper scissors to see what the bathroom is like?'
'Very funny Dean,' Sam yawned as he locked the door behind him and then let out a chuckle as the chain slid right through and down again, 'so much for that theory.'
'We can look for another…'
'Don't finish that thought Dean, there's no more motels for miles and you are dead on your feet man, nah it'll be fine for the night.'
'Yep, I'm gonna brave the bathroom, if I don't make it back out…'
'Hardy ha-ha Sammy,' Dean pulled the salt container from his duffle and started to lay the lines along the doorway and then the windows, 'just don't use all of the hot water.'
'No probs at all Dean,' Sam smirked as he hesitantly headed for the bathroom, moments later Dean heard an 'oh my God!' and that was enough for him to decide to sleep with shoes on.
A scratching sound woke the brothers just as the sun started to break through the grey clouds, another gloomy day loomed ahead for their travelling. 'What the?' Dean mumbled as he pulled his knife out from under his pillow, 'Sam?'
'Yeah I have a feeling that we're not alone in here Dean.'
'Gee ya think Sammy?'
'Yep, look over there on the bench top.' Sam pointed over to the small kitchen where a tiny pair of black eyes stared at them.
'Oh for fuck's sake,' Dean said as he sat up and stretched, 'that's it get dressed Sammy we're outta here.'
'Dean it's just a mouse.'
'It's a flea carrying, disease filled, dirty, rodent with beady eyes!' Dean said as he turned a full on glare at his younger brother, 'we're outta here.'
'Okay, though just a thought … how clean do ya think the bathroom really is?'
Two Weeks Later:
Sam sniffed and scrubbed at his runny nose, his head was starting to pound and he felt generally lousy but when he started to tell Dean he noticed just how tired and drawn his older brother was and decided not to say anything, it was probably just a cold or something.
An hour later the first cough he couldn't suppress exploded making his headache worse, this time he faced the anxious face of Dean and a warm hand fixed firmly on his forehead. 'M'fine,' he grumbled, 'just a cold.'
'Yeah right Sam, and when is it just a cold where you're concerned?' Dean said as he took in the paleness of Sam's face and the bags under his eyes, 'what else?'
'What else what?'
'Sam!' That one word exclamation had Sam confessing the rest of his symptoms without another thought, once Dean used that tone and no 'Sammy,' to cushion it, Sam knew that he was screwed.
'Dammit Sam, you should tell me when you're not well. Geeze you're not six anymore.'
'I'm fine Dean it's just a head cold that's all!' Sam grumbled and rested his head on the cool glass of the passenger side window.
'Right then we'll just find somewhere to stay that's … what about that one?' Dean pointed to a small motel nestled in a garden setting just off the highway.
'Okay.' Sam sighed knowing that it would be ridiculous to argue with his stubborn brother when he gets into his overprotective mode.
'Okay? No arguing with me? No oh we have to keep going Dean, we have to keep hiding, we have to …'
'Dean please just…'
'Okay Sam,' Dean said when he looked at his brother again and saw the tight lines around his eyes, 'another headache?'
Without another word Dean slowed down and turned into the Misty Nights Motel all of two stars and empty. 'Wait in the car Sam I'll be right back.'
'Thanks Dean,' Sam said as he let his eyes slide shut for a moment; with a worried glance Dean climbed out of the car and decided to book them in for a few days.
Walking into the small but neat and tidy office Dean stood and stared around in surprise, with vases of fresh flowers on the receptionist's desk and a warm feel to the rest of the furnishings he silently hoped that their room would be just as nice.
'Hey cutie what can I do for you?' a grandmotherly looking woman asked as she came in from a room hidden behind a curtain. With grey hair pulled neatly back in a bun at the nape of her neck and smiling pale blue eyes behind wire rimmed glasses, she looked, for all intents and purposes, like a stereotypical grandmother.
'I'd like a room for my brother and myself for a few days thanks Ma'am,' Dean answered grinning at the obvious flirting by the matronly woman.
'Well at the moment we're pretty quiet so you can have your pick of the downstairs rooms,' she said glancing out at the impala parked just outside the office door. 'That your brother?'
'Yes Ma'am, he's got a cold and feeling a little miserable.' Dean said as he filled in the registration card, 'the room down the end with the car park in front will be fine thanks Ma'am.'
'Nuff of that ma'am stuff kiddo, the name's Gertie MacBride, if you see an old fella around pottering in the garden that's just my husband Harry, been here for twenty years now.'
'Thanks Gertie, is there a shopping centre or something near by where I can get something to help Sam?'
'Gertie gazed down at the card, Dean Singer with a South Dakota address, 'not far from home are ya Lovey?'
'Nope, me and Sam have been road tripping for a while, taking our time ya know.'
'Yes I sure do and you'll find some shops in Woodsend, there's a drug store and grocers,' Gertie said gesturing vaguely towards the highway. 'Bout five mile down the road.'
'Thanks Gertie,' Dean gave her a bright smile as he took the key and turned to leave.
'Oh and Dean, dinner will be ready at six, if Sam's not feeling well I can do a tray for you boys and bring it to you.'
'No problems at all, not fancy or anything just some good home-style cooking, beef stew and dumplings with some of my famous lemon meringue pie for dessert.'
'Shame you're married Gertie!' Dean gave her a wink and grin before slipping outside and back to his brother.
'You look like the cat that got the canary Dean,' Sam said as he opened his eyes enough to squint at his brother.
'We got room service dinner Sammy, and pie for dessert!' Dean said licking his lips in anticipation, 'come on sickie let's getcha in bed.'
'M'not sick,' Sam protested just as he sneezed and coughed simultaneously.
'Yeah right Mr Mc'Snotty,' Dean said as he started the impala and drove slowly down to their room. 'Be right back Sammy.'
'Just hang tight there till I get the bags and unlock the room.' Dean said and waited for a few beats but there was no snarky comeback, his brother wasn't well at all.
Sam squinted up at Dean and frowned, 'what?'
'You wanna stay out here all night huh?' Dean opened the door and bent down to look at his brother, 'come on Sammy bed awaits.'
'huh?' Sam let his brother help him out of the car and frowned when he felt the soreness deep in his muscles, 'shit m'stiff.'
'No wonder Pretzel man, come on one foot in front of the other,' Dean coached Sam as he worriedly watched his brother stiffly walk the few steps inside their room. Without even looking at the clean and cosy room, Sam headed straight to the unclaimed bed and sat down.
'Man Dean I think I might have the flu?'
'Ya think Sam?' Dean crouched down to have a clearer look at his brother, 'you look like death warmed up.'
'Gee thanks,' Sam managed a tired smirk as he shucked off his shoes and lay back with a soft sigh, 'man I ache.'
'How about a nice hot shower before bed huh?'
'Mmm,' Sam mumbled already asleep, Dean shook his head and dropped a soft throw rug over Sam and then headed to the bathroom for a quick shower before dinner.
Three Weeks Later:
Dean decided to stay at the motel where it was clean, dry and warm for Sam while they tried to get some medical help for Sam. The local doctor diagnosed the flu and said that all he needed was plenty of fluids and rest. The next town over had a large clinic and with his brother bundled up next to him they drove the forty minutes hopeful for some help.
Sam shuffled into the clinic, leaning against his brother to help ease the pain in his legs and lower back, 'easy does it Sam,' Dean said as he helped him to sit down before going to the receptionist.
This was the third clinic in two weeks, Sam was getting sicker each day and no one could tell them what was wrong. His symptoms were too universal, too vague, they could mean anything; the last doctor they saw even had the temerity to suggest that Sam see a therapist, his pain was psychosomatic and Dean had to be dragged off by security before he laid into the doctor. Sam was lying on the exam table after being poked and prodded and stabbed by needles for more blood, sobbing he was in so much pain and this cocky little doctor was telling them it was in Sam's head.
'Just give him some pain meds or something please!' Dean yelled but all the doctor gave them was the name of a therapist and a suggestion of paracetamol and plenty of rest.
Four Weeks Later:
Sam woke during the night gasping for breath, his chest felt as though someone was sitting on it, 'D-Dean,' he gasped out between each fought for breath.
'Sammy?' Dean woke with a start and rolled over to check on his brother, he was sure that he had heard Sam call his name, 'Sammy what is it?'
'C-Can't b-breath.' Sam said as he coughed and cried out in agony, 'Dean?'
'Hang on Sammy, m'getting some help.' Dean said as he pulled out his cell phone and cursed, 'got no reception, gonna go to the office and get Gertie to call an ambulance for us.'
'No, no Dean …'
'No arguing Sam you stay put!'
Dean ran to the office calling for Gertie, 'need to ring for an ambulance Gertie Sam's having trouble breathing,' he said when she finally emerged from behind the curtain.
'Calm down Lovey, the nearest ambulance would be back in Chesterville but that's over an hour's drive from here.'
'Shit! Okay Gertie can you call the hospital and tell them I'm coming in with my brother, he's having trouble breathing, fevers, coughing, chills, vomiting, umm others that I can't think of now, he's tired a lot and lost weight…'
'Slow down Dean you won't be able to help Sam if you make yourself ill too,' Gertie said gently patting his hand, 'go and get your brother fixed up and I'll ring em, I'll call our local police too so he won't bother ya,' Gertie gave Dean a wink, 'he's a demon on speeders.'
'Thanks Gertie,' Dean said as he leant over the counter and gave her a kiss on the cheek, 'you're a gem.'
'M'hot,' Sam mumbled and tried to pull the blankets away, 'Dean? Thirsty,'
'Hang on Sammy and stay wrapped up we've gotta drive to the hospital,' Dean said again as he helped Sam into the front seat making sure that he stayed upright making it easier to breath. 'You just have a nap and we'll be right there.'
'Thanks Dean,' Sam smiled wanly up at his brother and took his hand squeezing it tightly, 'you're all wonderful, all four of ya.'
'Ahh Sammy,' Dean pulled his hand out of Sam's clammy grip, 'just take it easy bro.'
Dean managed to make it to the hospital in forty minutes coming to a screeching halt at the emergency doorway, after listening to Sam mumble incoherently and then there was only the sound of his laboured breathing.
'Help, I need some help here!' Dean bellowed when he opened Sam's door and his brother toppled out unconscious.
Minutes later they were ushered into an emergency room cubicle and an oxygen mask fixed on Sam's face before Dean knew what was happening.
As the doctor fired off questions to Dean about his brother's condition, he barked orders to the nurses and gave Sam an intensive exam. Then just as quickly, Dean was taken to the waiting room while Sam was sent for blood tests and scans.
Two hours later, Dean had moved the impala, drunk four cups of coffee and filled out a ream of forms and now he faced a very serious looking doctor.
'Dean do you want to come with me?'
'Sam? How's Sam doing?'
'He's being settled in ICU, can we talk on the way?'
'Yeah sure Doc.'
'Firstly, I don't think I introduced myself earlier, I'm Doctor Frank MacBride…'
'MacBride? You related to Gertie and Harry?'
'Yes they're my parents,' the doctor said with a small smile, 'ahhh you're the young man my mother called us about.'
'Yeah we've been staying at the motel, how's Sam Doc to ya know what's wrong with him?'
'We think so, we're just waiting on some test results…'
'Why is he in ICU?'
'We had to intubate Sam,'
'Intubate him?' Dean paled and swayed slightly.
'Dean? Here sit down and put your head between your knees,' Frank gently pressed on the back of Dean's neck until he complied and slowly Dean felt better.
'Thanks,' he said as Frank pressed a glass of water in Dean's hand and downed it.
'Dean … has Sam been exposed to any rodents?'
'Rodents?' Confused Dean stared at the other man, 'you mean rats or mice?'
'Yes, has Sam been exposed to them in anyway?' Frank asked again.
Images of the motel room from hell flashed in Dean's mind, if he could pale anymore he would have as he gave the doctor a hard glare, 'we stayed in a motel room about shit nearly a month ago I guess. It was bad and we saw a mouse there … why what is it Doc?'
'I have to wait for the results of test but I am sure that Sam has Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, or HPS, the only way to contract it is through contact with mouse or rat saliva, urine or droppings usually it is by inhaling air contaminated with the virus.'
'Why only Sam then? Why not me we both stayed in the same room.'
'Sam's immune system may have already been compromised, he may have contacted surfaces directly.'
'The bathroom?' Dean breathed, 'we ahh slept there until we saw a mouse on the bench and then we left.'
'I'm going to have to contact the CDC and report this, can you give me the name of the motel?'
'Yeah ahh here,' Dean pulled out his wallet and shuffled through it until he found a rumpled receipt, 'this is the receipt for the dump.'
'Before you go in there, can you wash your hands thoroughly and put this mask on, just as precautions that's all.'
'What about Sam? Is it …?'
'Let's not get to ahead of ourselves, but yes it can be fatal, we have Sam on oxygen therapy to help with his breathing distress that's why he is intubated, the IVs are giving him fluids, a mild sedative and pain relief.'
'What about antibiotics?'
'They don't work on this virus, unfortunately there is no actual treatment for the disease itself but this is the best course of treatment to date.'
'Why didn't the other doctors pick up on this?'
'That is the other unfortunate thing about HPS, the symptoms are so general to begin with and they need to ask specific questions especially if there was contact with any rodents.'
'Can I stay with him?'
'Don't worry about a thing Dean, we're a small hospital here and seeing that you're a guest at my parent's motel with a long drive there and back I'm sure that we can work something out.' Frank said as he led Dean into a small alcove just outside the ICU ward. 'I'll be right back.'
By the time Frank came back Dean had washed and donned his mask, 'ready Dean?'
'Yeah let's get this show on the road,' Dean said as he swallowed down the hard lump of guilt and shame he felt for not getting Sam better help sooner and followed Frank into Sam's ICU room.
For a few seconds he stopped and stared at Sam, his Sasquatch of a little brother now looked small and vulnerable in the bed with the intubation tube, heart monitor, IVs and other monitoring devices attached to his bare sweat covered chest.
'Sammy?' Dean moved the chair next to the bed and gently cradled Sam's hand in his, 'ahh Sammy.'
Frank gave Sam another quick check over before giving the brother's some time alone, 'I'll ring and let mom know that you will be back for your stuff and to keep your room for you.'
'Thanks Doc, that's great.' Dean said without looking up.
A couple of times over the next couple of days Sam opened his eyes, his green eyes bleary and clouded but he still managed a look of recognition before slipping away again.
'Dammit Sammy, how can you be so quiet for so long?' Dean whispered as he brushed a stray hair from Sam's face. 'I ah I'll be right back Sammy, gotta make a call.'
Choking back hot tears of frustration and guilt, Dean hurried outside to ring Bobby, he needed his dad but he was now long gone but there was another man who had "adopted" the brothers a long time ago.
'Hey Dad, whatcha doing here?'
'Came to see you son, how you doing?'
'Tired and hurts dad.'
'I'm sorry son, I want to be there for you.'
'I'm sorry dad, I'm so sorry.'
'What for Sammy?'
'I am a monster, you were right.'
'No, no Sammy you're no monster, you made bad decisions and the wrong choices but you're no monster.'
'I drank demon blood dad, I broke Dean's trust and now…'
'How can you stand looking at me dad?'
'You're my son and I love you.'
'I'm not Dean dad, you …'
'Sam you're my boy, we may not have had the best of relationships at times and I was probably too hard but I did what I did to protect you boys, to keep you safe.'
'I know dad but…'
'No buts Sammy, just get well and do what you have to do…'
'No dad don't go!'
Dean stared at his phone as the tears finally fell; Bobby was on his way, 'to look after ya two idjits.' For the first time since Sam got sick Dean felt as though he could breath again, Bobby was the father he so desperately needed even though he was in his thirties now, at times it felt good to surrender some of the familial burden to someone else.
Sipping his coffee, Dean made his way back to Sam's room smiling and chatting to nursing staff he had gotten to know over the last few days, in particular one pretty nurse who looked after Sam in the evenings.
'Hey Sammy miss me?' Dean asked as he came back into the room and came to a sudden stop. The air in the room was icy cold to the point where he could see his own breath. Frowning he swept the room with a careful stare to check to for signs of something less than normal.
'Is there something wrong Dean?' Frank asked as he came into the room with a nurse pushing a small sterile cart in front of her.
'Huh? Oh hi Doc, no nothing,' Dean turned to look at the doctor, 'what's going on?'
'We're going to remove Sam's intubation tube today,' Frank said with a smile when he saw the light come back to the younger man's eyes. Over the last week or so since he met the boys he had come to respect and like Dean. They had a mutual love of classic muscle cars, Frank himself drove a Mustang, and of classic rock. They had spent a few nights chatting and playing cards while watching over the youngest brother. His respect grew as he watched Dean tending to his brother; it was as though they could communicate with each other even though Sam was heavily sedated. 'We'll be reducing the sedation as well from this morning.'
'That's great Doc,' Dean beamed, 'ya hear that Sammy, your tube is coming out today time to wake up as well bro.'
Dean stood by the door while they fussed around Sam, removing the tubes and readjusting the medications, now Sam wore an oxygen mask and had only one IV connected to his cannula now. Once they were finished and Sam was made a little more comfortable they left leaving Dean alone with Sam again.
'No Dad don't go!' Sam kept repeating, his voice barely audible from behind the mask and from not using it for so long.
'Sammy?' Dean blinked and leant closer to Sam, 'Sammy you waking up?'
'No Dad don't go!' Sam repeated as a lone tear escaped, 'don't go.'
'Ah Sammy,' Dean brushed Sam's hair from his face and smiled gently at his brother, 'you need a haircut kiddo.'
'Dean?' A familiar gruff voice startled Dean, turning around he smiled as he stared up at Bobby standing in the doorway wearing a face mask.
'Hey Bobby, suits ya.' Dean grinned and waved Bobby in, 'they took his intubation tube out today, and Sam should be waking soon.'
'Great to hear idjit,' Bobby said as he pulled a seat up next to the bed.
'How's our patient doing now?' Frank asked as he came into the room, coming to a complete stop when he saw the new arrival, 'well I never, Bobby? Bobby Singer? When I saw that their name was Singer it didn't register that they're related to you.'
'Frank MacBride, how the hell are ya doing?' Bobby said as he shook hands with the medic, 'been a while.'
'Sure has, wait a minute these two aren't Dean and Sam Winchester are they?' Frank asked as he finally put it all together, 'John's boys?'
'Sure are, jest they go by my name now so I can keep em in tow.'
'Ah Bobby? Doc? Ya wanna tell me what's going on? What the hell?' Dean asked as he stared at Bobby and then the doctor and then back to Bobby.
'Sorry I didn't make the connection sooner Dean,' Frank said, 'Bobby and I go way back and I knew your father as well, even met the two of you when you were little.'
'Frank is one of the few doctors who knows all about hunters and his parents' motel is a safe place.'
'What the hell are ya on about?' Dean demanded.
'Your dad brought you and Sam in when you were so little, I never imagined that you were the same scrawny kids, especially seeing how big your brother is.'
'Yeah he got the gigantor genes.' Dean said, 'you look after hunters?'
'Ever since Bobby and your dad helped me out with a little haunting problem about twenty-five years ago now.'
'Dean?' Sam's soft whisper almost went unheard except for Dean's inner Sam-radar alert, turning around he focussed all of his attention on his brother, 'where's dad?'
'Hey Sammy welcome back,' Dean said choosing to ignore Sam's question.
'Where? What's going on?' Sam tried to focus on Dean's face, everything was slightly out of whack and his head felt achy and floaty all at the same time; although he managed to pull off a bitch face when Dean stopped him from pulling off the oxygen mask.
'Nope that stays put Sammy,' Dean said as he took Sam's hand and lowered it back to the bed, 'that dodgy motel's extra mousy guest made ya sick kiddo.'
'Yep, that's what was wrong.'
'Dad left … where's he?' Sam asked as he yawned and drifted off to sleep again.
Six Weeks Later:
Sam sat up in his hospital bed, finally free of all tubes, masks, electrodes and other sundry things attached to him including the Foley catheter, he had his own room on the general medical ward now and was going home tomorrow.
He sat staring at the muted television screen as he tried to remember the conversation he had with his dad, even though they all said it was part of the HPS, Sam knew his dad had been to see him, just like he could still feel where his dad had brushed a kiss on his forehead. His dad loved him even though he was such a screw up.
'Penny for your thoughts kiddo,' Bobby said as he came in, 'Dean'll be in, in a few he's talking to that nurse.'
'Susie? Yeah she just went off duty,' Sam smiled softly as he spoke, 'Dean's in with a chance.'
'Ya think?' Bobby grinned and sat down in the soft leather chair, 'how you doing kiddo?'
'Better thanks Bobby, I can get out of here tomorrow.'
'Yep back to the motel for a couple of days and then my place for a good rest.'
'Bobby we haven't got time to rest … we have to keep…'
'Do I hafta clip ya over the head to knock some common sense into that thick skull of yers?' Bobby groused good naturedly, 'research is all the work ya'll be doing for at least a week, gotta git some weight back on ya.'
'Thanks Bobby … for everything.'
'Aint nothing to thank me for Sam, gotta look afta family, don't matta if ya blood or not, family's family.'
'Thanks.' Sam said as he yawned and sank back against his pillows, 'so tired of being tired.'
'Sleep well Sam.' Bobby said as he sat back and adjusted his ever present cap.
Sleep well Son.' John said as he faded again, remaining long enough to see Dean once more, 'take care of your brother Dean, and of yourself.' He added when his eldest finally returned, with a sad but loving smile at his two boys, 'take care of mah boys Bobby.'
Dean and Bobby looked at each other when they felt the gentlest of breezes against their skin and the air chilled briefly.
'Bye dad,' Sam mumbled in his sleep as he rolled over onto his side, instinctively facing Dean.