RATING: pg 13
GENRE: gen, h/c
CHARACTERS: dean, sam, oc's
A/N: written ages ago for the again but with more colds comment fic meme.
SUMMARY: sam and dean are working a case, interviewing a young family, when dean has an asthma attack. (Asthmatic!Dean AU)
It smells like maple syrup and bacon, and inside there are two kids in their pj’s, sprawled out on the rug watching Saturday morning cartoons.
Sam flashes a smile and Dean flashes some fake ID and suddenly Andrew Featherstone is letting two friendly Humane Society representatives into his little prefab house. He scrubs softly at his dark beard like he’s afraid he might still have some traces of breakfast in it and fumbles to clear the sticky plates off the small dining table that shares a space with the living room and an epic Lego village.
Sam doesn’t miss how quick Dean is to sit down, how he clings to the edge of the table as he does it. He’s fighting a chest cold. Something. He won’t acknowledge it of course, because that would be letting the terrorists win. He’s determined to fight this thing with the power of his mind.
Plates clatter in the kitchen and lungs rattle across the table. The kids—a boy around six and a girl, a couple of years older—peer over at them, but a giggling Tigger bouncing across the screen snatches their attention back.
Andrew returns with hot coffee mugs, slides them over the dented wood surface. “So you think it might be some exotic animal? Something brought into the country illegally?”
“Could be,” Sam says. “We had a case similar to this one a while back. Can you tell us what you remember?”
“Yeah. I mean, I had the binoculars so I got a pretty good look. Was out walking with these guys, checking out that new alpaca farm down the road. Devon’s obsessed with the things now. She’s doin’ a project on ‘em for school.”
Dean nods, smiles a little and coughs quietly into his elbow and manages a quick “Sorry,” even though Sam’s pretty sure he needs to cough a hell of a lot more.
“So, yeah. It jumped out of a tree on the other side of the pasture, snapped the neck on one of the animals quick as lightning. It… it looked like I don’t know what. An emaciated gorilla. Darn ugly.”
Sam flips open a note pad, jots down the description. It doesn’t ring any bells. They’ll be doing some hard core research tonight, for sure.
“I walked the kids back down the road pretty fast after that,” Andrew continues. “I couldn’t be sure what the thing would do next, if it was rabid, or what. Do you think that’s what— Hey. Are you okay?”
It’s Dean. His eyes are watering. Yeah, he’s got a cold alright. Dean shakes his head and waves a hand trying to dismiss the stranger’s concern. But it’s pretty pointless considering he starts coughing harsh, barking coughs a few seconds later.
“Sorry,” Sam tells Andrew, “he’s coming down with something,” and pauses to watch Dean as the coughing turns oddly quiet, and Dean’s hand slides down from his mouth to his neck.
And that’s when Dean shoots him the look. The we forgot I have asthma sometimes, shit, I can’t breathe look.
“Sam…” comes out like air from a pinprick in a bike tire, and Andrew is on his feet, very much aware that the interview is over and there’s more important shit to worry about.
Sam can’t even remember the last time Dean needed his medication, if it’s even any good anymore, because it’s probably been clanking around in the trunk for over a year. But it’s all they’ve got.
“Damn it. I… I’ve gotta go find his inhaler,” Sam says, turning to Andrew. But the guy is facing his kids, who are both leaning over the back of the sofa.
“Daddy?” the girl asks, blinking wide brown eyes at Dean, “Is he sick like Oliver?”
Sam stills. Something’s happening here. For once, luck be lady.
“Yeah, sweetie. I think so. You wanna help him?” he asks, then turns to Dean, who’s still struggling, but paying attention all the same, trying for a weird half smile for the sake of the kids. “I mean… if that’s okay?” Andrew adds.
“God yes!” Sam says, a little embarrassed at how desperate he sounds for help from a 2nd grader. Andrew gives his daughter a nod and she bounds off the couch towards a small bookshelf behind the TV, skinny braids flapping across her back. “I mean… it’s been a really long time since he’s had an attack,” Sam tries to recover. He makes his way over to his brother, gives him a reassuring nod, even though he’s still pretty nervous. Is a six year old’s inhaler really going to do the trick? He makes contact with Dean’s shoulder, laying claim to his kin with the warm palm of his hand, watches the little boy huddle up to his father’s leg and the girl walk over timidly, shaking a baby blue inhaler.
“Albuterol?” Sam asks her father, just in case.
He nods. “Don’t worry about it. Devon’s a pro.” It’s totally absurd, but Sam believes it. And he suddenly feels a wretched knot in his stomach with the realization that Dean would be a pro too, if it was Sam who had asthma.
But here they are, fumbling like idiots because Dean has always been so neglectful of himself, and Sam clearly hasn’t stepped up his game enough to compensate. And now they need a fucking 8 year old girl to take care of them.
So not cool.
Devon comes closer and pats Dean on the knee. “Excuse me,” she says politely to Sam, who’s apparently in the way. Stunned more than amused, he stands aside so the girl can get up close to his wheezing brother. Dean’s folded over now, eye watering like mad, his elbows on his lap, his hands rubbing his throat and the wool v-neck over his chest. He spots the inhaler, but doesn’t make a grab for it. He waits as Devon wraps one arm around his back and raises the thing up to his lips herself, and only then does he let a shaky hand up to help her hold it in place. She rubs his back as he takes his first puff, his second. Third. And then another. And another.
They’re all still for a few minutes, Devon’s hand still hidden under Dean’s and the inhaler firmly in place like he’s not sure if he’ll need another hit or not yet. Like he doesn’t trust his own body. But Sam can see he’s breathing slower now, each breath a little deeper than the one before. And he’s amazed by this kid, who’s clearly following a script she’s rehearsed over and over with her own brother, so utterly fearless.
Dean lets the inhaler go. He wipes a mess of tears from his face and smiles at Devon, tugs gently on one of her braids as he continues to catch his breath. Andrew comes closer, pats her on the head and hands her a crocheted blanket—the kind made of big bright square flowers that everyone’s grandma owned in 1987. She tries to drag it onto Dean’s back and over his shoulders but she’s just a little too short. Sam helps her out and she seems oddly annoyed that she needs it.
“Oliver’s not so big,” she explains.
Sam rubs his brother’s broad shoulders. “Yeah. It’s hard taking care of people bigger than you.”
“Not that hard. I could have used a chair or something.”
Dean looks at Sam and laughs, coughs, pulls the edges of the blanket to the center of his chest. Sam should take him to a clinic, get him a new prescription. Make sure they are never not on top of this shit again.
Dean sneezes a couple of times and Sam tenses, but when he’s done he just groans, looks back and forth between Andrew and his daughter with tired relief. “Thank you,” he says, and Devon turns beet-red and stares at her bare toes.
“Bet you wanna be a doctor when you grow up, huh?” Dean says.
“No-ooo.” Devon’s blush fades and she rolls her eyes. “I’m gonna be an Alpaca farmer.”