A Touch of Fear
It was a hard hunt and both Winchester boys collapsed on their beds as soon as they entered the motel room. Sam fell asleep within seconds; nearly getting your heart ripped out by a werewolf had him physically and mentally exhausted. Dean, on the other hand, couldn’t fall asleep at all. His thoughts were too loud and his chest hurt. He couldn’t stop thinking about almost losing his little brother again today. Yes, there is a possibility that one of them won’t come out alive at every hunt but today was different. Today was the first time since Cold Oak and Dean just couldn’t…
He knew what was going to happen next so he, as quietly as he could, crawled out of bed and went to the bathroom. In the bathroom, there was a small window and the full moon was shining right through it so he didn’t need to turn on the light to see everything. Dean was so ashamed of his weakness. He has had panic attacks since he was a teenager. He remembered that day, although he wished that he hadn’t. It was the first time he almost lost Sammy. He remembered how he was hyperventilating in the hospital bathroom, trying to cope with it on his own since his father had other problems to deal with. He never told anyone about what happened and it hurt to know that Sammy nor his father never noticed but he wanted it to stay that way.
Dean felt his breathing speed up and he turned on a tap and washed his face with cold water. He researched a little about anxiety on Sammy’s laptop but he made sure to clear all the history so his brother didn’t find out. Dean was using a technique to calm his breathing. He took a breath as deep as he could and tried to hold it for five seconds. It almost never worked the first time so he had to repeat it several times. ‘Breathe it’ ‘Breathe out’ Dean told himself silently. ‘Sammy is fine’ ‘Sammy is ok’ ‘You got there on time’. Dean tried to think positive but it was hard so thoughts like these ended up running through his head: ‘You failed’ ‘You were too late’ ‘You had one job and you failed’ ‘You killed your brother’ ‘Your fault’ ‘No! Sammy!’
Dean stood there for a few minutes until he was sure that if he didn’t calm down soon, he was going to pass out. His technique wasn’t working since all he could think about was Cold Oak. All he could see is Sammy’s lifeless body lying on the bed. He needed help. And Dean Winchester doesn’t admit that unless there really was no other way to go about the sutuation.
He pushed the bathroom door open with more force than he intended and winced when it slammed into the wall. He saw Sam jump up in his bed with wide eyes. “Dean! What the hell man!” Sam snapped, but then his eyes landed on his brother he was at his side in a second. Dean was desperately gasping for breath, his knees gave out bus Sam was there to hold him up. “Woah there. What’s wrong Dean?”
“Sa-Sam, I-I’m so sor-ry.” Dean choked out. His eyes were shut tight and his breaths were coming in short gasps. Sam started slowly moving to the closest bed, which happened to be his and when they reached it he placed his brother on it and sat beside him, turning and facing his brother. Dean hunched over and clutched his chest with both hands. Sam didn’t know what to do, he was panicking slightly himself since he’s never seen his big brother like this. Was this a heart attack? Did he need to call an ambulance?
“Dean, Dean I need you to tell me what’s wrong.”
“Can’t – Can’t breathe. Nearly lost-lost you. Aga-in.” Dean said as tears squeezed between his eyelids. Partly of not being able to breathe and the ache in his chest but also because he imagined what his life would be without his little brother.
“Hey, I’m here. I’m alive. You saved me yet again. I need you to breathe. Breathe with me, Dean.” Sam reached for one of Dean’s hands and pried it off his chest. He pressed Dean’s hand against his own chest and took deep breaths. “Dean, look at me.” Dean lifted his head to look into his little brother’s eyes. Sam’s heart clenched as he saw Dean’s tears. Sam doesn’t remember the last time he saw Dean cry. “Try to make your breathing match mine.”
“I can’t. I-I Can’t.” Dean was having a hard time holding himself up and Sam noticed so he placed his other free hand on his shoulder.
“Yes. You can. Breathe in.” Sam coached and Dean struggled to take a deep breath in. As usual, it didn’t work the first time. “Again.” Sam instructed. Dean had sweat running down his face from the effort it took for him to breathe like a normal person. He took another deep breath and held it for longer this time. “Good. That’s good, brother.”
Gradually, his breathing slows down and he doesn’t feel like he is about to faint anymore. Sam slowly let go of his hand and pats his shoulder, dropping his other hand on his lap. Dean looks away from Sam, not knowing what to say. Sam is the first one to break the awkward silence and part of Dean is relieved but another part wishes he hadn’t said anything at all.
“That wasn’t the first time you’ve dealt with a panic attack was it?” Sam asked.
“No,” Dean answered simply.
“Since when… Um…?”
“You remember that time when you were seriously hurt on one of your first actual hunts with us? We had to take you to the hospital and the doctors said that you umm…” Dean couldn’t say it but Sam knew what he meant.
“Did dad know?” Dean was expecting Sam to ask that although he was hoping he wouldn’t.
“No. But you can’t blame him, Sam. He had other things to worry about. Plus, I was pretty good at hiding it.” Sam opened his mouth to protest but Dean glared at him and Sam closed it again.
“How the hell did you deal with it all this time? How come I never noticed? Why didn’t you tell anyone?”
“One question at a time, dude. But as I just told you, I was good at hiding and dad was pretty worked up with finding the thing that killed mom and I just didn’t want to worry him more. And if I couldn’t tell dad, there was no one else I could tell.” Dean was not looking at Sam as he spoke.
“What about me, man? I could’ve helped. I could’ve helped you through these attacks.” Sam said with a hurt look on his face.
“There was no point in concern you, Sammy. It mostly happened when you or dad got seriously hurt. When I thought…when I thought I was going to lose you.”
“Well, I wish you’d have told me. Man, can you promise me something…?” Sam asked quietly.
“No, Sammy, please don’t start this.”
“Promise me you’ll tell me when this happens again. Please.” Sam stared at Dean with these huge pleading eyes that Dean always had trouble saying no to. Dean stared at Sam for a second and then sighed.
“Alright. If that makes you feel better you big girl. I promise to tell you.” Dean smiled a little and his eyes started to droop.
“Thanks. Now, get some sleep.” Dean stood up but his world tilted and he nearly face planted but Sam was there to hold him up yet again.
“These attacks leave you pretty worn out don’t they.” It wasn’t really a question, more of a statement.
“Yeah.” Dean slumped down on the bed, lying down on his stomach. He listened as Sam went and crawled under covers in his own bed and only then he allowed himself to close his eyes. Dean nearly fell asleep until…
“I can’t believe I never noticed. What kind of a brother am I?” Sam mumbled sadly.
Dean sighed. “Don’t beat yourself down over it, Sammy. And…thanks bro. Really.”
“Don’t mention it. I owe you that much.”