Title comes from the book Little Woman
Prompt: Dean has asthma and it's always been Sam's job to look after his little brother when it gets the best of him. Sick!Asthma!Dean. Protective!Sam
Sam is 17 and Dean is 13 in this story.
Sam awoke to the sound of his little brother's discomfort. Immediately becoming aware of Dean's wheezing, he threw back the covers and rushed over to his brother's bed.
Dean was halfway between propping himself up with his arm and lying on his side as the muscles in his body fought for breath.
"Dean..." Sam sat down on the edge of the bed and gently scooped his brother up into his arms so that he was lying back against his chest to support him as he sat upright. "It's okay...it's okay..." He comforted softly, reaching across to grab the inhaler that had been too far out of his little brother's reach when he started wheezing before raising it to his brother's mouth. "How bad?" He asked softly.
"Two hits." Dean managed to get out after a few wheezes in an almost inaudible tone that only his older brother, the one who had been by his side through every struggle he'd ever experienced with his asthma, would be able to understand.
Sam nodded, wincing slightly at the thought of how long his little brother had been struggling for before he had woken up. "That bad huh?"
Dean went to take the inhaler from his brother, but his shaking hands were making it almost impossible.
Sam smiled sadly before gently taking hold of his little brother's shaky hand and raising it up to the inhaler he was holding, before pressing down on the top releasing a burst of the spray before doing the same a few seconds later. Dean hated the fact that he lost his independence when his asthma spiked, so Sam would always do whatever he could to give some of it back to his little brother.
Sam rubbed a hand down Dean's back. The doctor's had told him when Dean was first diagnosed about all of the tricks that could be used to help him try and help his little brother's breathing. By applying a soft amount of pressure to Dean's back, it somehow helps to take the pressure off his chest slightly making it easier for him to breathe.
"S'm..." Dean's weak tone called.
"Don't try and talk...just breathe, Dean..." Sam reassured softly as he stretched across the nightstand and grabbed the remains of the glass of water Dean had been drinking earlier. "Here." He brought the glass to his brother's lips.
Dean greedily drank the water, thankful as the cool liquid helped to douse his raw throat from the coughing and wheezing. "Thanks..."
"You're welcome." Sam smiled, replacing the inhaler and glass on the nightstand. He then placed a hand across his little brother's forehead, wincing at the temperature. "You feeling okay, buddy?" He asked softly.
Dean shook his head as he buried himself closer to his older brother, resting his head against his chest.
Dean always became more clingy when his asthma spiked or when he wasn't feeling well. But if it made his little brother feel even a little bit better, Sam didn't care. He would stay there all night if Dean wanted him too. And he always did.
"Feel s'k..." Dean's weak tone slurred.
"Feel or gonna'?" Sam asked.
Sam wrapped his arms tightly around his brother and dragged him off the bed and across the motel room, pushing the door open to the bathroom hastily with his side. Dragging Dean the last few feet to the toilet, he was just in time as his little brother began puking as soon as his head reached the white porcelain bowl.
"It's okay, De...It's okay..." He supported his weak little brother in his arms as he gently stroked a hand down his back, comfortingly. "Just get it all out...you'll feel better."
"I won't...never do..." Came Dean's response.
Sam hated seeing his brother so ill and worn down. It's not fair that his little brother's had been born with crappy lungs that would give up on him too many times a day, or just go straight for it and try and kill him by depriving him of oxygen so bad that he can't even shout for Sam to help. It's not fair that the fire at their old house screwed up his lungs even more despite the fact that Sam had put the blanket their Dad had wrapped him in over him gently so that the smoke wouldn't hurt him as he ran out of the house. It's not fair that Dean can't be a normal kid and take part in sports at school like all the other kids, or be away from Sam for long periods of time because people don't understand what to do when his asthma does spike meaning that he can't go out by himself and can't be left alone for any length of time. It's not fair that Dean has to go to the hospital more times than most adults ever would in their lifetime because sometimes he gets so ill that even Sam can't look after him. It's not fair that at thirteen, Dean has already been intubated a dozen times through nearly dying because of his lungs being fucked. It's not fair how much Dean has had to suffer through in his short life, and it's not fair that Dean is now asking for his Dad who Sam knows won't be back for a least a couple of days cause' he's working a job a few states over.
"Dad's not here, Dean...but he'll be back soon." Sam comforted as he ran a hand through Dean's hair.
"Liar." Dean mumbled.
Sam sighed. "He'll be here, Dean..." He paused. "You finished?"
Grabbing a washcloth, Sam wiped his brother's mouth before placing his arms under Dean's armpits and hoisting him up gently so that he wouldn't hurt him before lifting him into his arms. Dean hated it when Sam carried him, but it was sometimes easier and meant that he could get Dean back to bed quicker while also causing him minimal pain through not having to practically drag him across the room. Lying the pillow against the headboard, Sam placed Dean down so that he was resting back against it before walking over to the table by the kitchenette and grabbing the nebuliser. He brought it back across and placed it at arms reach on the nightstand before going into the bathroom and refilling the glass of water. Shuffling in beside his little brother, he once again lifted him so that he was resting back against his chest.
Dean buried himself closer to his older brother once again. "It doesn't mat'r..."
Sam furrowed an eyebrow. "What?"
"About Dad being here...g't you..." Dean stated.
Sam smiled softly at his little brother's words. "Yeah, you have." He agreed. "And I'm not going anywhere."
Sam listened to his little brother's laboured breaths. "Do you want me to set up the neb?" He asked.
Dean nodded before he began coughing.
"Here." Sam held the mouthpiece.
Dean accepted it and Sam pressed the button on the machine.
Dean began coughing once again. Each one sounding more painful than the last.
"Just breathe...just breathe..." Sam rubbed a firm hand down his brother's back. "...the medicine will kick in...just ride it out...I'm right here..." He reassured.
"It hurts, S'm..." Dean eyes screwed closed as he wrapped an arm around his chest.
"I know..." Sam drew his little brother ever closer in his arms, wrapping his arms around him. "I know...
Tears were beginning to fall down Dean's cheeks.
Sam noticed this immediately. "Hey. Hey...hey...hey...hey...hey..." He repeated in a bid to get his little brother's attention.
Dean looked up at his older brother with bloodshot, pain filled eyes.
"It's okay..." He stroked a hand down his brother's back once again to try and relieve the pressure. "The neb won't work as well if you cry and you need the neb to help with the pain...you have to ride it out, Dean...I'm sorry, but you have to..." Sam was nearly crying himself, and he felt like the world's shittiest brother ever for not being able to help and making his brother have to go through pain. The nebuliser doesn't work as well when the user is crying because not as much of the medicine is breathed in, so Sam had to be firm, and he hated having to be.
Dean's hand came up to the mouthpiece to try and pull it away.
Sam grabbed his hand and moved it back down to his side, holding it there gently. "Dean...no. You need to let it help you...I know your chest hurts right now, but the neb will help you..."
"I hate you...I hate you..." Dean stated in as stern a tone as he could muster.
"I know you do..." Sam replied. This was the part of the asthma spikes that he hated. That he had always hated, because his little brother always became emotional when he was hurting, and struggling for breath, and Sam was just unfortunate that he was on the receiving end. He would get chewed up by his little brother, but Sam didn't care because he knew it wasn't his Dean talking. "Just breathe...just breathe..."
And eventually, his little brother began to relax as the nebuliser finally began to take effect.
Sam could feel Dean slumping further and further against his chest as the hands that had been fighting to try and free himself of the mouthpiece released the grip that they had once had. Sam stroked a hand through his little brother's hair.
After about twenty minutes of Sam listening to the sound of his brother's improved breathing, Dean spoke up.
Sam looked down at his little brother. "For what?" He asked, softly.
"For saying I hated you." Dean explained. "I don't hate you...I could never hate you."
"Don't worry about it." Sam reassured.
"No." Dean continued. "You've always looked after me, through everything. When Dad's been away on hunts, when I've have to go to hospital, when I have an attack. You've always been stuck here looking after me...it's not fair on you."
"That's my job." Sam answered with a gentle smile as he continued to stroke his brother's hair. "And it always will be." He explained. "I don't care that I'm always looking after you, Dean, you're my little brother."
"Dean..." Sam began. "There's nothing I wouldn't do for you."
And that's how John found them a few hours later as he walked into the motel room. One little brother lying against the chest of the elder who had his arms wrapped protectively around the younger in a way that wouldn't disturb his little brother's breathing, both asleep. He immediately knew that it had been a bad night. The light of the bathroom was on and the slight smell of puke was in the air while the nebuliser was on the nightstand beside his youngest's bed that his eldest was now sharing. John winced at the fact that he once again hadn't been there to look after his youngest when his asthma had gotten the better of him. The responsibility of his youngest's care had once again falling on his eldest who he knew go to hell and back to take care of his little brother.
Picking up the blanket from the chair, he walked over to the bed his two boys were sharing and gently draped it over them. "Night, boys."