A/N It's been some time since we were together, I know. A long time ago, I said there would be more stories in my Multum in Parvo universe, and here we are—as promised. For those of you who haven't read Multum, all you need to know is Dean has a serious illness called Gastroparesis and in the first story they discovered it was aggravated by esophageal spasm. Thank you all for reading and reviewing. HUGE HUGE thank you to all of you who have gotten involved in the awareness campaign for GP and related disorders. And huge huge huge huge hug to all of you who are there for this little ol' writer me.
A Posse Ad Esse
"…Now with this esophagus on top of it—I've known that I was probably heading for a permanent feeding tube sometime, but..." Dean blinked again, a tear shimmering on his lashes. "If that doesn't work, there are other options, IV that kind of thing."
"Dean..." Sam was trying to get his head around all the information.
"It's funny, I can face down the apocalypse, the end of the damn world and say okay, let's get the party started. And this—this..." He stopped and looked up, meeting Sam's eyes. "I'm scared to death, Sam. It's out of control and it's my own body. I can't eat anymore, and I didn't even know how much that meant—being able to just eat whatever I wanted to, when I wanted to. Some days all I can do is keep water down, and that's a struggle. Other days I can eat, but it just sits there. I..." Tears were tracking over Dean's face. "And now this? My esophagus, Sammy. What happens when it just doesn't work anymore? What happens when... When..." And Dean broke, a soft sob escaping his lips.
Sam pulled his brother into a tight hug, letting his own tears fall.
There was a cold wind blowing, buffeting the car as they drove into town. It was one of those odd towns that only seemed to happen in the desert West. Miles of nothing but sand and scrub plants, then out of nowhere, trees would appear in the distance. The closer to town they got, the greener it was—fields of hay and alfalfa, then the lawns of outlying houses. Even though it was early, they had decided to call it a day. More to the point, I did. Sam looked over at Dean. His brother swallowed again, an odd expression on his face. He'd been watching Dean for two days as they finished up the last case, and there was definitely something wrong. Dean thought he was getting away with it, which meant it was something serious. He was in full-on Stealth Mode. Sam huffed softly, Dean still thought Stealth Mode worked—when it actually had the opposite effect. Sam paused. Maybe that was Dean's intent all along?
"This place look okay, Sammy?" Dean asked, pulling into a motel parking lot. It looked clean and freshly painted—a step up from the last one where Sam had to wrestle the cockroaches for his toothbrush in the morning.
"Yeah." Sam got out of the car and headed in to register. The clerk was friendly and the office was clean as well. After she made sure—for the fourth time—that Sam knew a free hot breakfast came with the room, she handed him the keys and a parking pass to put on the dashboard of the car. When Sam turned to walk out of the office he caught sight of Dean, his face was white and he looked completely freaked out. As soon as Sam opened the door, his brother had his expression schooled back to normal, and by the time Sam dropped back into the car, Dean slid an eyebrow up at him and smiled. "What?" Sam snapped.
"I think she thought you were pretty hot."
"Dude, she was old enough to be my grandmother."
"She totally thinks you're hot."
"Shut up, Dean."
"I won't wait up tonight so you can have some time with her," Dean continued as he pulled into the space Sam pointed to and turned off the car. "Do you need the keys?"
"Bite me, Dean." Sam said, then saw the glint in his brother's eye. "Don't even say it."
"Didn't say a thing,"
"Nope. Not a word, not a single word." Dean grinned. "What would I say?"
Sam sighed and grabbed his bag out of the trunk. As he walked past Dean his brother growled. "Just stop, Dean!" Sam grumbled. Dean started laughing. Sam kept his face turned away from his brother, but couldn't help grinning. He was just putting the key in the lock when Dean made a funny little sound that triggered the panic button in Sam's head. He was back beside Dean in less than a second. "What? Dean!"
"Sam," Dean ground out, his hand fisting in Sam's shirt.
"Where's the nitro?" Sam asked, reaching around Dean to dig through his bag. He found the bottle, fished out the smaller glass one and shook a pill into his hand. He gave it to Dean and waited. This was the fourth time in two weeks Dean had needed the nitro, it was just one more reason the Stealth Mode was worrying Sam—Dean wasn't hiding this, so what the hell was he trying to hide? "Dean?" he asked several moments later.
"Thanks." Dean straightened and Sam steadied him as he swayed. "I'm okay."
"You sure?" Sam opened the door and waited as his brother walked into the room. He could tell Dean was still in pain from the stiff set of his shoulders.
"I'm going to take a hot shower," Dean said, dropping his bag on one of the beds, grabbing some clothes and the Ziploc bag he kept his meds in. "You want to order food?"
"Yeah." Sam tossed his bag on the other bed, wondering what he should order. Dean had been sticking to light foods for the last few weeks. After looking around the room, he found a binder that listed local restaurants and ordered from a Thai place, making them read the order back so that Dean's food had none of the items that tended to upset his system when he was having a bad flare of the gastroparesis. Sam sighed, there was something more going on, though. The nitro pointed to that—he had also noticed Dean using the other prescription for his esophageal spasm almost every day.
"That helped," Dean said, coming back into the room.
"Yep." Dean dropped onto the bed and grabbed the remote. "What's for dinner?"
"Rice?" Dean was flipping through the channels.
"Double order, and they have that peanut sauce dish you like."
His brother looked a little green for a moment, then smiled. "Thanks, Sam, I'll wait for it if you want to clean up."
"I will, that last motel was a little…"
"Gross and disgusting even by our low standards?" Dean finished with a grin. "One of the cockroaches tried to carry off my razor."
"I just gave them my toothpaste when we left."
"I'm sure the next people who use the room will appreciate the fact the bugs are minty fresh," Dean said, laughing. Sam was watching him closely and caught the twinge of pain that flashed across his brother's face as he laughed. "I'll be right back." Sam headed into the bathroom. Dean's meds were back in their bag, but the one for spasm was nearest the top which meant he'd taken a dose of that as well as the nitro. Not comforting. He set his things by the sink and turned the shower on.
"Guess what's on tonight?" Dean raised his eyebrows as Sam came out of the bathroom in a billow of steam.
"Oh god, not Spinal Tap."
"Even better, the History channel is having a marathon of Apocalypse shows."
Sam smiled at Dean. "Awesome." The first time they'd watched one, it had been because the hotel they were at only hade three channels and two were questionable at best. Dean muttered something about never watching anything that involved anyone sewing anything. They'd settled on a show made in 2005 on the "Coming Apocalypse" and spend the evening talking back to the TV and laughing. Since then, they looked for the shows and the opportunity to turn them into a running commentary.
"It starts off with that one about the manuscript."
"The one that three shows later they prove was made in the Nineteenth Century?"
"Yep, one of my all-time favorites."
"Mine, too." Sam leaned back against his bed and waited for the food. He kept one eye on his brother. Dean was rubbing his chest. Without asking, Sam got up, grabbed the heating pad from the bag, plugged it in and placed it on Dean's chest.
They were twenty minutes into the show when the food arrived. Sam paid for it and set Dean's down on the night stand, then dropped back down to watch the show. His brother had been keeping up a running commentary since the show started, and Sam listened with a grin on his face while he ate his pad thai.
The tone in Dean's voice switched on the alarm in Sam's head so fast he was up, on his feet, gun in hand without even remembering reaching for it. "What?" he snapped, adrenaline making his heart slam in his chest.
"It's not that," Dean said softly, his voice strained. "I can't swallow."
"Can't swallow how?" Sam asked, dropping the hammer on the gun and setting it down on the bed.
"When I try to swallow the rice it comes back."
Dean shook his head. "No, it just pops back whole. Never gets past my throat. It might have been happening off and on for a few weeks, but I've been having a lot of trouble today. Even spit feels like peanut butter."
"Dean…" Sam broke off and shook his head. "Have you called Brian?" Brian Gleason was Dean's Gastroenterologist and Sam knew his brother called him far more than he admitted.
"I did, he said keep an eye on it and call him if it gets worse."
"This counts as worse." Sam pulled his phone out and punched the speed dial. It was still early enough to catch someone in the office. When the recording at the office came on he entered the nurse's extension. He managed to catch her at her desk and explained what was going on. Since finding out about the gastroparesis, Sam had spoken to Layne many times.
"What's going on?" Dean asked.
"I'm on hold."
"Sam?" Layne said, coming back on the line. "Doctor wants Dean to go to the ER immediately. He's calling ahead to get everything set up for a barium swallow."
"Thanks, Layne." Sam closed his phone and looked at Dean.
"ER?" Dean asked, standing up.
"Yep." The fact Dean was going without a fight scared the hell out of Sam. "Got everything?"
Sam grabbed their new "official ER bag". It had two ebook readers, power cords for their phones, insurance cards, living will, medical power of attorney and a list of Dean's meds. Something twisted in Sam's chest—they had been in and out of emergency rooms for years, but the fact they now had all this just waiting showed the huge change in their life. They both worked so hard to keep everything normal, even when it wasn't, but sometimes they couldn't avoid what was happening. He could tell from the tension in Dean that his brother was trying not to panic. Sam smiled and walked to the door nudging Dean with his shoulder as they headed out.
"It's probably nothing," Dean said.
"Yeah," Sam agreed.
They both knew they were lying.
To Be Continued