Summary: Sam calls Dean a few weeks after he starts dating Jess. They talk about her and about asthma and nothing else happens, seriously.
Warnings/Spoilers: None, it's Stanford.
Author''s Note: Sammyverse. I like writing them talking. If you're thinking, "Kira's been posting a lot lately! I wonder if she's back in school and supposed to be doing work!" you are correct. There's a good chance you'll be getting one a day for a little while.
When Sam calls, Dean gets a picture of him asleep and drooling on The Complete Works of Shakespeare.
It's pretty great.
So Sam's unconscious fucking face interrupts an afternoon of going-nowhere-research and if that isn't a sign that God secretly has a thing for brothers, Dean doesn't know what is.
Except as far as John knows, Dean talks to Sam once in a blue moon, and now there's that picture of Sam vibrating on the table between them so, uh, fuck.
"Could be relevant," Dean says.
John rolls his eyes. Sam's sixth-month birthday (that's just what Dean wants to call it, okay?) just passed, so John's having a rougher than usual time with the whole Sam-isn't-here thing (it's been a year and three months, John, time to fucking deal, Dean got over it in all of four months, okay? Sam's in California, go say hi) and he deals with that by pretending he has a hard time with Sam in general, yeah, Dean gets it, whatever, big surprise, Dean's Team Sam.
"Maybe he knows something about the case," Dean says. "Or heard of a different hunt."
"Or maybe he's bored and skipping class."
"Or maybe he's sick."
John doesn't say anything, just picks up his pen and pretends to write something, yeah, what the fuck ever.
"Sam doesn't call for just anything," Dean says, which is total bullshit, because two weeks ago Sam called because he couldn't find his sock and looking for it was too boring for him to do alone. "I'll be back in a minute, all right?"
"If he needs help, get him to call someone there."
"Yeah. I know."
"All right. Ten minutes."
Dean picks up the phone in the elevator. "I told Dad you might have news on the hunt," he starts to say, but he stops halfway through because, uh, yeah, that he might be sick thing. "I also told him you might be choking to death on your own lungs, so I still win."
"I'm not choking. Just wheezing."
"I can hear that. Your reception's shitty, how bad is it?"
"Not scary-bad. But going on two days, so fuck everything. Dad's there? Can you talk?"
"Yeah, I got out. What's up?"
"We have an emergency situation, that's what's up!"
Dean plops down on a bench outside the library. "You said it wasn't scary bad..."
"Dean. Dean. Jess is coming over."
"Are you serious about her now? What happened to that brunette you were sleeping with? The creepy one."
"She kind of was creepy, yeah?"
"Well, Jess isn't creepy. So she won."
“What about the really short girl? She was like the perfect height—”
“Okay, yeah, but. Jess. Jess, Dean. Jess.”
"You sound like you should be pretty psyched about her coming over...”
"I'm sick, though.”
"Just asthma. Two day flare, it's gross. But, like...I told her I'm sick, and she's coming over. With, like soup." He sounds so fucking nervous.
"What's up, Sam?"
"She's going to try to take care of me."
"I think that's probably why she's coming."
"But, like...what do I tell her?"
It's been a rule for as long as he can remember, and it's one that, unlike most of the rules (because Sam's a petulant little bitch) Sam's always followed really really fucking carefully.
Asthma is for Winchesters and that's all the fuck it.
They didn't talk about it with anyone else, and to make up for that, to never make Sam feel like it was a dirty secret or it didn't matter, they talked about it amongst themselves, a lot, and that was fine and made Sammy feel better (John and Dean would have conversations that Sam logically shouldn't have been there for, judging Sam's lungs and compliance and determination right the fuck in front of him because it just made Sam feel better, and fuck you trying to say how they should do this shit, okay? Sam's twenty and in college and happy and alive so they did a damn good job, John) and it was just theirs. Nobody, not even other hunters--especially not other fucking hunters, because Sam was fucking hunting and didn't need anyone thinking he was a liability, thinking he was expendable--got to know. A few knew he had asthma, yeah, because it could get really, really tough to hide, but none of them knew the extent, and the word asthma can be really fucking easy to brush off—no, it's nothing, he hasn't had problems with it in ages, growing out of it, et fucking cetera. He had a really bad attack in front of Bobby a few years ago and it was this big hilarious song and dance about making it sound like this hadn't happened in years and years when what the fuck ever Sam you did this same shit last month, John and Dean are not impressed.
And Sam kept the rule when he went to Stanford because it was safer. He told the nurse and his RA (because Dean fucking made him, yeah) and his roommates had some idea because fucking sick Sam, you know? But casual friends, girls he brought home for the night? Yeah, no thank you. The last thing he needed was someone knowing his weak spot, and there are bad guys everywhere. There just goddamn are.
But now Sam's living alone (moved out of his suite all of a sudden two months ago after an allergic reaction he still won't tell Dean about because he's a douchebag) and now he's living alone and he's apparently serious with this girl and...someone around should know, frankly, because what the hell happens if Sam decides to collapse or some shit?
When John said Sam should tell someone nearby instead of Dean, he wasn't just being a dick, y'know?
"What do I say?" Sam says. "How do I even..."
"Yeah. I know."
They're not used to explaining it.
Because what the fuck do you even say? Dean knows what most people think when they hear asthma, it's what those fucking hunters think when they find out, it's that alibi he just mentioned. It's kid-trying-to-get-out-of-gym-class, yeah, Dean's seen that shit, he attended the seventh grade, thanks.
And then in walks six and a half feet of Sam with his four-minute-miles and epically, epically shit lungs, and it's just not something most people can reconcile (Sam can exercise, okay? Sam has allergies. There are twenty thousand billion types of asthma, okay, Dean's read aaaall about them, unlike most of the fucking people who stop wheezing Sam on the street and tell him to try yoga, thank you very much, people on the street) and that's another nice argument towards not telling people because frankly people are annoying and so is asthma and that's a lot of annoying for one conversation.
“Just...tell her what you do every day,” Dean says.
Sam sounds confused. “What do I do every day?”
“You're so annoying. Run through it with me.”
Sam coughs for a minute, then says. “Get up, meds, shower, class, home, study, meds, sleep.”
“You live such an exciting life.”
“Bite me. Lots and lots of sex and drugs.”
“How many hits on the inhaler on your average day?”
“I don't know, six?”
“And the neb?”
“Every other day, maybe?”
“Hey, way to go, Sammy.”
He can hear Sam smile. “Thanks. I mean, twice yesterday.”
“You're flaring, rules out the window, it's cool. And you take three pills twice a day plus the steroid inhaler and sometimes, like, actual steroids. And more stuff during allergy season. This kind of explains it, you know?”
“It doesn't, though.”
And now he hears Sam shrug. “I don't know.” He stops and wheezes for a while. “It's not...how it feels, you know? What it's like.”
Dean swallows. “So what's it like, Sammy?”
They talk about asthma all the time.
The thing is, they don't talk about what it's like.
“I never really thought about it, you know?” Sam says. “When it was just you and Dad, it was kind of, you know. Dad and Dean breathe better than I do. No big deal. It wasn't even that I was bad, just that it was something you guys were really good at.”
“That's one of the top ten most depressing things I've ever heard and I don't even know why.”
“Right? So then I get here, and it's just...there are so many healthy people at Stanford.”
Dean laughs a little, and okay, again, top ten.
“It's, like, mind-boggling,” Sam says. “Jess has asthma.”
“Yeah, like...like normal-person asthma. Like one-in-twelve-people-has-asthma. Like I've-never-seen-it-bother-her-asthma. And I'm really good at telling. She's healthy. Do I...like...deserve a healthy girl?”
“You did not just ask me that. Go sit in time out.”
“I'm being serious.”
“I...can't be serious about that question, Sam. I fucking can't. You deserve all the healthy girls. You deserve like six new healthy virgins in your bed every night. Okay?”
“We've talked about sex a lot today, it's kind of weird.”
“You're not that different, you know? From healthy people. You're really not.”
“What do you know?” Sam says, all fucking gently. “You don't even know any healthy people.”
“I know...” Come on, Dean's got to know some healthy people, but he can't think of any. Fucking hunters.
“Yeah,” Sam says. “Healthy people are weird.”
“I know me! Ha.”
“Yeah, and you're my favorite healthy person, but then you go and get shot all the time and stuff.”
“Yeah. But me only once, soooo.”
He wheezes out a sigh. “I just...I am really different. And I didn't know that, but now it's like...like you and Dad and I made this little world where being like this was okay. Where I could still do anything. But I mean...it was kind of an illusion, right? You gave me breaks. You always gave me breaks.”
“You've toughed out a lot when you shouldn't have had to.”
“School doesn't do breaks when you're sick, though. And...neither do girlfriends.”
“Yeah, they do. That's kind of their point. I mean, it seems like it should be?”
“You're kind of as lost as I am, aren't you?”
“I don't know. Not oxygen deprived.”
“You still haven't told me what it's like.”
“I'm getting to it. It's like...okay. It's like there's this part of me, this really big part, and the thing I can't get my head around is that people are allowed to know but that they don't. That these people aren't sizing me up trying to find my weaknesses all the time, you know? They're just people. They don't notice I can't really breathe because it doesn't matter to them. It doesn't affect them. And then I'm not feeling good and I want to talk about it to somebody just have someone listen and at least pretend to give a shit, or ask me how I'm feeling or something? And even the people who do know think that I must not want to talk about it, that I'm embarrassed or something, and I'm just not. That's...not how you guys raised me and it's just not what's going on here, you know?”
“Yeah,” Dean says, to avoid saying something like God, you're fantastic.
“I want to talk about it. I want to tell someone when it's getting bad. And not having someone to sit with during an asthma attack...I mean, it's frustrating. I don't need it. I'm doing okay. I promise. I just...want it sometimes. I don't know. I'm shitty at being alone.”
“There's an obvious solution here,” Dean says, and how fucking badly does he want it to be I come to Palo Alto and stay forever! Woohoo!
“Get a girlfriend.”
“Uh, yeah.” They don't shy away from the word. They never have. That's not how this works. (That's not how they raised him, that's not what's going on here. They raised a sick kid, not some in-denial angry little kid who happens to be sick, fuck that bullshit, they raised the shit out of their sick kid.)
“I do ER visits and days in bed and nights pacing around. I'm shitty company.”
“I always liked you. No. Most of the time I hated you. But you know. I stuck around.”
“Yeah, you didn't have a choice, though.”
Dean runs his hands down his face. “All right. You want the truth?”
“I fucking love when you do this. Yes. Go.”
“It's just...you realize being sick isn't some fucking downside to hanging out with you, you know? It's not like, oh, man, Sam's cool and all, but damn that wheeze is annoying and taking care of him sucks, you know that's not what's going on here, right? Look, kiddo, it sucks that you don't feel well, don't get me wrong, but I like hunting with you and I like playing catch with you and I like staying awake making stupid jokes with you and I like kicking your ass at sparring and I like rubbing your back during asthma attacks, all right? This isn't a bad side, Sammy. This isn't some unfortunate consequence of being around you. The only person this sucks for is you, I guess that's what I'm saying, so if you're looking for an excuse to feel more isolated, go ahead and take this one: you're the only one who hates your asthma.”
Sam wheezes out a, “Huh.”
“And maybe Dad sometimes, but he, you know.”
“I wish I had the air to do speeches like you.”
“That's just an excuse. You totally couldn't pull off a speech like that.”
“Hey, I had a respectable one like half a minute ago.”
“Thanks. For that. You know?”
“You can't even thank me well and you think you can do a speech.”
“That's more like it.”
“I just hope you're not wrong.” He's quiet for a minute, except that shitty breathing. “I don't hate my asthma.”
“Nah. It reminds me of you.”
“You're a caribou.”
she rubbed my back he texts later.
marry this girl