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13 April 2012 @ 06:51 am
Killing Me Softly: Strumming My Pain (Chapter 6)  

Something was terribly wrong with his brother.



Killing Me Softly


Chapter Six

Strumming My Pain

**O**

Something was terribly wrong with his brother. Sammy’s beautiful, golden shimmer had deadened to a murky brown, and his usual ice crystal dew-drops were dripping cheerlessly in dull, inky beads. It made Dean’s heart ache with sadness. It was all wrong. Sammy should never be without the sun. He thought hard about it for a long moment. He’d fix it. He’d make his brother right again. Dean tried to reach up, tried to touch his brother’s head in a reassuring gesture. He wanted to let Sam know that he would do anything he had to do to make him shine again, but his arm just wouldn’t obey properly for some reason, and it flopped against his brother’s ear in more of a clumsy thwack than the intended caress. Sam grabbed his arm and held it to his heart. Dean was perplexed by his brother’s strange expression. It was both anguished and demanding, and he sure had a lot to say, apparently. Dean could see Sam talking at him a mile a minute with desperate urgency, but he couldn’t make out a word for the throbbing clamor in his head. He felt Sam shake him by the shoulders, but even the normal chimes he heard when Sam touched him had muted to an unpleasant, clinking rattle. Sam was snapping his fingers in front of his face with a frantic, pained expression. Whoever was doing this to his brother, whoever had stolen his light and joy was going to pay. Dean would see to it. No matter what he had to do, no matter the cost to himself, he’d put this right. He tried to tell Sammy, so.

“Don’t worry, Sammy. Don’t be brown anymore. I’ll take care of you, little brother,” he assured Sam who leaned in close to listen. It was all very confusing, though, because that seemingly only made Sam more upset. Big tears welled in his eyes and threatened to spill over. Dean didn’t understand why he couldn’t seem to comfort him. It made no sense for Sam to be so troubled. Hadn’t he always taken care of Sammy? It wasn’t even a promise. It was a statement of fact. It was a given. Dean would take care of this, period. Instead, Sam just kept kneeling above him, speaking words that he couldn’t hear, shaking him until finally Sam reached out and gave him a rather harsh slap across the face. “Ow! Fuck, Sammy! Th’h’rts!”

**O**

“Dean!” Sam shouted in a panic. He reached Dean’s crumpled form and untangled his limbs, laying him flat. He ran his fingers through his brother’s hair and shook him. “Don’t do this to me, Dean! Wake up, goddamn it!” Sam looked up at the painting and wondered if that was all Dean had to give. Terror seized him that Dean was going to burn out faster than they’d anticipated. When he went to check for a pulse, Dean’s eyes fluttered open and roamed around the room, empty and unfocused.

Sam fisted Dean’s shirt and shook so hard he nearly lifted his brother right off the floor. “C’mon Dean, you with me? Dean!” Dean’s glance flit around without recognition until it landed on Sam. “Dean, can you hear me?” he half shouted but got no response. Dean just continued to stare until he slowly seemed to focus. He looked at Sam and at the space around him, seeing something in his parameter that made his eyes melt with sorrow and care. Suddenly, Dean reached up a hand that he couldn’t control and slammed it feebly into the side of Sam’s head. Sam grasped the hand and held it close. “Dean, please,” he begged. “Tell me you can hear me, man. Dean! Can you see me?” He snapped his fingers in front of Dean’s eyes looking for some kind of reaction. “Goddamn it Dean!” This was killing him, watching his brother tormented and lost like this. The look on Dean’s face was so shattering. It devastated him, whatever was going through his mind it was enough to bring a clotted lump to Sam’s throat.

Dean opened his mouth and strove to speak. Finally, words tumbled out, a low rasp that Sam had to bend down to hear. “Don’t worry, Sammy. Don’t be brown anymore. I’ll take care of you, little brother,” he said with his eyes filled with the same love and devotion that lay splattered across the motel wall. It broke Sam into pieces. Dean continued to softly regard him, trying to comfort him, wordlessly trying to convince Sam to believe that he would make everything all right just as he always had. It shamed Sam to think of the argument they’d had the other day. How could he have not known that this, right here, was as innate to Dean as the green in his eyes? How could he have told his brother that he didn’t need or want the one thing that was fundamental to Dean?

Sam couldn’t bear it. His brother continued to gaze quietly at him in semi-awareness. “Dean! Snap the fuck out of it!” Sam shook him violently. Unable to talk or persuade his brother out of his lassitude, Sam’s fear percolated past boiling. “Goddamn it!” he bellowed as he slapped his brother soundly on his cheek in a last ditch effort to bring him back from wherever the fuck he was.

“Ow! Fuck, Sammy! Th’h’rts!” Dean shuddered in surprise and rubbed his cheek with sloppy indignation. “Wha’ th’fuck j’a do that for?” he grumped, trying to rise haltingly on his elbows.

“Dude, can you hear me?” Sam reached down and scooped him into a semi-sitting position, holding him firmly.

“Yes. Fuck. Geez, Sam, didja have t’be so rough? M’ear’s ringing.” He continued to massage his sore cheek.

“I’m sorry, man. I couldn’t get you to respond. You passed out.” Sam helped him sit up the rest of the way. Dean sat there and blinked listlessly, still in that liminal state between awareness and oblivion.

“Aw, fuck,” Dean lamented, spying a tragedy. He lazily picked up his fallen soldier of a beer bottle and moved to drain the last few, brave drops from the bottom. Sam pulled the bottle from his brother’s quivering, anticipatory lips with a hollow, echoing pop.

“No. No way, Dean. This ends right now. Things are bad enough without you doing that. No more alcohol,” he said sternly.

“Th’fuck Sammy?” Dean groused and rubbed his head. “M’out of paints.” His brain was still roaming randomly, and it latched onto a new thought as it skittered past. “I really need more paint, Sammy,” he pled.

“OK, Dean. I’ll get you more, but you have to do a few things for me, first.”

“Aw, Sammy. Sammy, you know I’d do anything, anything for you.” Dean pawed his brother with maudlin affection, trying to console him.

“Good,” Sam said. “No more beer. Promise me that.” Dean sighed woefully but nodded his promise, and Sam knew he’d keep it. “You need to rest a while, and, dude, you really need a shower.” Dean grinned and piffled. “Do those things while I go get your paints and some food. And you’re going to eat this time, Dean. I mean it.”

“All right, geez, y’er a pain in m’ass,” Dean said as he slowly rose. He stood for a moment, checking his balance and bending his knees to make sure he had his center. “I’m good. I need to find my sketchbook, though. I have to try and see if it will help me think just a little. I really need more paints soon, Sammy.”

Sam spotted the sketchbook by the wall and handed it to him. He threw on some clean clothes while Dean sat at the kitchenette table and sketched in his pad. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. Try and clean yourself up while I’m gone, because you really reek, dude.” Sam had to smile in spite of everything as Dean quietly flipped him off.

**O**

It took every ounce of his will to play along with this. Despite Caleb’s warning, Sam felt an almost uncontrollable urge to confront them, to find out which one it was and then plunge the sharpest thing he could find into her. Instead, he simply stood there trying not to drop the armful of paint tubes he was juggling.

“Sam! Oh my goodness, sweetheart, let me help you,” Cleo warbled, grabbing and gathering up several tubes with her man-hands. “What’s happening? How’s Dean doing?”

He narrowed his eyes and spoke with deliberate moderation. “He’s fine. He came home yesterday. He’s just needs to rest.” He looked from Cleo to Leana trying to drive home a message.

“Of course, Sam,” Leana assured. “At least he’s on the mend, right?” Sam studied her suspiciously. The dress she was wearing was extremely flattering, and she seemed softer than he recalled her being the first time he met her. His eyes bounced from Leana to Cleo, and he had a hard time deciding between the two. It could be either one, or maybe he was entirely wrong and it was neither.

“I tried to call you, Sam. We’re just picking up a few supplies to take to the center later on, but we’re about to go to St. Cecilia’s for Thom’s memorial. I thought you might like to come with us,” Cleo said. “Of course, I understand if Dean needs you more, though.”

“Yeah, I’m sorry. I need to be with my brother today,” he said. “I’m almost done with most of my research, anyway. Just need to clean up a few loose ends, and we’ll be on our way,” he said eying them for any reaction. He saw none.

“OK, darlin’, don’t you be leaving without a goodbye, now. I want to make sure that Dean is all right with my own eyes before you go,” Cleo said.

Sam handed the clerk a credit card and turned to both women. “I’ll be sure to stop by before I leave. That’s a promise,” he said emphatically.

**O**

He heard the shower shut off right after he set down coffee, bagels, and the bag of paints he’d brought. He silently flipped through the sketchbook, shaking his head and threading his fingers through his hair. His hair felt dirty, he needed a shower about as badly as Dean had. After about fifteen minutes Sam went to the door. “Dude, you all right in there? I need a shower, too, man. Hurry up.”

“Uh, yeah, Sammy. Sorry, I didn’t know you were back,” he heard Dean shuffle around.

“I’m coming in,” Sam warned. He opened the door to see Dean with a towel wrapped around his waist, etching a complicated drawing into the fogged up mirror with the tip of his paintbrush. He stopped in mid-swipe and looked at Sam and shrugged meekly. Sam was apparently starting to acclimatize, because it didn’t even faze him at this point. “I got your paints and I brought food and coffee. Shave and come out. I’m up next.”

Dean seemed both tired and hyper at the same time, but he at least was shaven, washed, and wearing fresh clothes. He’d finished his coffee in seconds flat, but he wouldn’t touch the food no matter how much Sam bitched at him.

“Please, Sammy, just let me paint a while. I can’t think right now,” he grabbed his palette and loaded it up with paint, his eyes so unnaturally eager that Sam found it deeply disturbing. Sam didn’t press the point about the food, though. At least he hadn’t been drinking any beer. Baby steps.

Dean set to work immediately with an acute, fixated hunger. Throughout the day Dean painted ceaselessly. He was unrelenting, constantly in motion, sometimes manic and aggressive with forceful brush-strokes, sometimes soft and tender as though he were caressing a lover with smooth and supple dabs of color. He constantly murmured under his breath in rapt conversation with someone, and even though he had sobered, his opiate smile suggested an insidious intoxication. It went on and on as the mural seeped onto the next wall. And Sam’s anxiety was growing along with the painting.

His ability to concentrate was non-existent with his brother literally painting himself to death just a few feet away from him. Not like his lack of concentration mattered much, though. The research had reached a big, fat dead end. He’d called Caleb but he had nothing new to offer. Everyone was busy researching and trying to find some answers, Sam was just going to have to try and wait it out. But the fourth day was ticking away, and watching Dean bleed his life out onto the walls was more than he could bear. His brother began to stagger with exhaustion, but he simply would not or could not stop at this point. Sam kept checking on him, asking Dean how he was doing, but his answers were slower and slower in coming. A few times Sam had to go and stop him from painting before he would acknowledge him, and then he would respond angrily for the distraction.

The afternoon was starting to wear away and he was about to go grab some more food and try and get Dean to eat a little when his brother stumbled into the wall he was painting and collapsed to the floor.

“M’OK, just help me up,” Dean said trying to shake the dizzy out of his head.

“You’re not all right, Dean,” Sam said bitterly. “You can’t go on like this. You need to rest.”

“No, I need to paint,” he practically whimpered. “It’s all I can think about. I have to do what it wants. I have to.”

“Just try not to,” Sam said. “Let me try and help you, man.” Sam rubbed his back. His shirt was damp with sweat and his muscles were tense and twitching from the constant movement.

“Nothing you can do. Nothing anyone can do to help me, Sammy.” His eyes were filled with tears of exhaustion and hopelessness.

Dean’s statement set something off in Sam’s mind. He stopped short and stood up, hoisting Dean up with him. Leading his brother to the bed and sitting him down, he went and grabbed the shirt he’d been wearing the previous day. He searched the breast pocket and pulled out the card with Dr. Liron’s contact information on it. “Maybe there is something that can help you,” he said with sudden hope.

“What? The hospital?” Dean said with a derisive snort. “Give me a break, dude, I don’t think they have a cure for Muse poisoning,” he said acidly.

“Maybe not,” Sam said, pulling out his cell phone. “But she could see it. Dr. Liron. She could see what it was doing to your brain. Supernatural or not, whatever the Muse does it has some kind of physical component. Dr. Liron said she had some treatments she was going to try. Maybe she could do something to buy us more time, stop the effects for a while at least.” He started pressing buttons on the phone. “It’s worth a shot.”

**O**

By the time they’d made it to Dr. Liron’s office Dean was non-verbal. Although Sam had tried to get Dean to use his sketchbook on the way over, it hadn’t helped. Without his paints he was unable to fight against the Song in his head or whatever it was that was stealing him away. It was almost as if it knew what they were trying to do and was attacking him viciously for it. It absolutely broke his heart to see his brother rocking back and forth on the examining table, whimpering softly to himself as he snapped and batted at his fingers feverishly.

“How long has he been like this,” Doctor Liron asked wide-eyed. She was battling Dean for his wrist. She was trying to take his pulse, but he kept pulling his hand away so that he could strike it against the finger he was mesmerized by. Sam strode over and gently tapped Dean’s finger for him, allowing Dean to calm down long enough for the doctor to take his pulse. Sam kept tapping his brother’s finger until the doctor got her reading and then let Dean take over again.

“It hasn’t been long, but he’s been unwell since yesterday,” Sam said and smoothed his brother’s hair as Dean resumed his rocking and thwacking.

“I want to readmit him, Sam,” she said, looking at him with both empathy and disapproval. “I really wish you hadn’t let him leave the hospital.”

“I understand, but we had to figure some things out,” Sam sighed. He was desperate. “You don’t know the whole story,” he said.

She rose and stood, looking at him sternly. “What do you mean I don’t know the whole story? What’s going on, Sam?”

Sam hesitated, but then made a decision. He opened up Dean’s sketchbook and handed it to her. She took the book and looked at him with confusion. “Remember when I told you that my brother and I were researching the deaths of the artists from the community center?” She nodded and started absently flipping through the sketchbook. As soon as she saw the first sketch she did a double-take and looked back at Sam in astonishment. Sam nodded to his brother. “They’re his. Last week he couldn’t even draw a convincing stick-figure,” he said. “Whatever killed those other artists is now killing my brother, and we only have a few days left. What’s happening to him right now is what happens when he stops painting. He’s either like this or he’s painting non-stop without food or sleep. You have to help him. I’m begging you.”

Dr. Liron sat down and continued to look at the sketches in a daze. Her face grew more confused as she tried to wrap her mind around what Sam had said. “Are you trying to tell me that there is some kind of mad-genius disease going around?” Her question was obviously rhetorical, because Sam could plainly see and hear her incredulity.

“No,” he said. “This isn’t a disease, something—someone is killing these people, and now they’re trying to kill my brother.” He straightened up and looked her in the eye. “I’m not going to let my brother die.”

“Sam…” she said disbelieving.

“I don’t care if you believe me or not,” said Sam trying to master his frustration. “I only care that you can help Dean.” Tears were starting to pool in his eyes. “You said you would be able to tell more about what killed those artists if you had a live brain to study. You have one. But he’s going to die in just a few days if we don’t stop this. I need you to help me buy my brother enough time so that we can find the person that is doing this. You said you could see what it was doing to his brain and that there were treatments that might help him. I need your help, Dr. Liron. Please.” If this didn’t work, Sam had no idea what else he could do to help Dean. He wasn’t even sure he could get Dean to pick up a paintbrush at this point, he was locked far away and there was no telling how much Dean was even hearing at this point. Caleb’s words about the Muse inducing an insanity that you don’t come back from were reverberating through Sam’s mind.

Dr. Liron didn’t say anything for some time. She continued to go through the drawings one by one. She shook her head and gasped with each new drawing. Finally, she put down the sketchpad and went to Dean, trying to get him to look at her, but his finger was his universe, and that’s where he stayed.

“All right, Sam,” she said at last. “I’m not sure I understand everything you’re telling me, but I’ll do what I can. I want him readmitted, though, that’s not up for debate.”

Sam heaved a sigh of relief, releasing some of his adrenaline, “OK,” he agreed. “That’s fine. What can you do to help him?” he asked.

She thought a moment and wrote some notes down. “There are several drugs that have been shown to completely stop Synesthesia. Wellbutrin, Prozac, some others. We can start him on a regimen immediately. It will take several weeks for the drugs to build up in his system, but in four to six weeks he should be completely clear of any of the effects of Synesthesia.”

“Dr. Liron!” Sam blew out a frustrated breath and ran his fingers through his hair in order to prevent him from grabbing her by the white coat and shaking her. “We have two, maybe three days tops. Is there anything you can do to help him now? Tonight?”

She started to shake her head, but then stopped, considering something. She looked at Dean. “There is one thing we could try,” she offered.

“What?”

She hesitated second. “We could try electroconvulsive therapy,” she said. “That’s your best shot for a short-term fix, at least with the effects of Synesthesia.”

Sam looked confused, “Electroconvul…” and then it hit. His eyes grew wide and dangerous. “Shock therapy? Are you suggesting we do that to Dean? No way!” he spit angrily. “No way,” he said again decisively.

Dr. Liron nodded and held her hands up. “I understand, Sam, and that’s fine. It’s your call. However, I want to make sure you understand the procedure as it is performed today, without all the overblown misconceptions or dramatic Hollywood images attached to it. What you think it is and what it actually is, is vastly different, and I believe that it’s probably going to offer the quickest results for your brother.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Sam, ECT is no longer performed the way it was back in the 40’s and 50’s. They used to perform this without any medications or anesthetics. So you have those images in your head of people wracked by painful seizures and swallowing their own tongues, all of the ghastly stereotypes involved. And it’s probably true that at one time it was used as a way to control combative patients. But that’s not the way it is anymore. The procedure is quite safe and takes all of about fifteen minutes from beginning to end. Dean would be given a general anesthetic and a muscle relaxant. There will be no visible seizure beyond the slightest of tremors in his hands and feet. But the resulting paroxysm will have a profound and immediate effect on his dopamine and serotonin levels. It especially reduces the very serotonin receptors that are associated with Synesthesia. This is one of the reasons for ECT’s bad rap, actually. ECT inhibits creativity drastically, something most people want to retain. Artists hate this procedure, and I can completely understand why. In this case, however, this is exactly the result you are hoping to achieve, correct?

“Yes, but…” Sam fumbled.

“I’m not trying to sell you, Sam. This is yours and Dean’s decision. And I won’t lie to you, either. The procedure is safe, but it is not completely risk free. There are a few side effects and risks that you need to be aware of.”

“Like what?” Sam sighed.

“The procedure commonly causes some short-term memory loss. He’ll likely have some trouble recalling the last couple of days, at least initially, although that is usually temporary. There will be a good deal of confusion for several hours following the procedure. Other common side effects include headache, nausea, muscle aches, and tenderness in his jaw. Like the short-term memory issues, though, all of these side-effects are quite temporary and we can give him something for the pain and nausea after the procedure if he should need it. More rare complications include heart arrhythmias resulting from the electric shock, specifically ventricular tachycardia, which would require immediate defibrillation to correct. Then there is a small chance, and I mean a very small chance, of more long-term memory loss. Some individuals have lost more significant amounts of time, but nothing like full amnesia. The chance of this happening, however, is less than the chance of being struck by lightning. And, of course, there is also the risk involved with using general anesthesia. If you do this procedure and it works, we can repeat it every third day and give you and your brother the time you claim you need. Overall, though, it’s not a cure. His Synesthesia will keep coming back just as long as whatever is causing it is active. And we can’t perform ECT for more than six consecutive weeks at a time.”

Sam closed his eyes wearily and washed his face with his hands. “I, I just don’t know,” he hesitated. “It’s just that…electroconvulsive therapy…Jesus Christ!”

Dr. Liron placed a reassuring hand on his arm. “If you do this, Sam, I will let you be there with Dean. It’s not an invasive procedure, so I can allow you to be right there with him if you want.” Sam stood there waffling, agonizing over what to do, when Dean made the decision for him.

“Do it—do it—do it—do it,” Dean whispered in time with each rocking beat as he moved back and forth. Sam came over, held his brother still for a moment and stood right in his field of vision.

“Dean, are you sure about this, man? I can’t let them do this to you unless I know you understand.”

Dean was looking at him. “Understand,” he wrenched out and went back to rocking. “Do it”. His agonized eyes were pleading for his brother to help him. With that he retreated back into himself, trying to hide from the light, the sound, and the overwhelming pain.

Sam reached out and hugged his brother’s shoulders as they jolted back and forth. He looked at Dr. Liron. “OK,” he agreed wretchedly.

“Sam, when was the last time Dean ate or drank anything?” Dr. Liron asked.

Sam had to take a moment to cobble his thoughts. He shut his eyes in concentration. “Food? He’s had nothing since last night sometime. He had coffee this morning at around 9:00am.”

Sam looked at Dr. Liron. “OK, good. I’ll go get the release papers. You’re going to have to get Dean to sign them as best he can.”

**O**

Two hours had passed and they were now not long from starting the procedure. Dean had been readmitted and an IV reinserted. He was now lying on a gurney, groggy from the pre-ECT sedation they’d given him. He’d stopped his incessant rocking, but his fingers were still the most important thing in the world to him. Sam looked at his brother with immeasurable sadness. If this didn’t help him, Sam couldn’t imagine what he was going to do. Yet, at the same time, he didn’t even dare hope to have his brother restored to him. The pain of that not happening was too much to contemplate.

“Sam,” Dr. Liron popped into the recovery room where they had Dean waiting, “We’re going to start in just a few minutes. Since this was an unscheduled procedure, we had to get everything all set up. All the equipment had been shut off for the night. I’ll be back in just a minute.”

“OK,” Sam said. He wanted to get this over with as soon as possible. Dr. Liron had told him that once the procedure was done they’d be able to tell pretty quickly if it had helped Dean or not. The sooner they got it over with the sooner Sam could find out where they stood. Suddenly, his cell phone rang, but with his current stress level as high as it was, he nearly jumped out of his skin. “Caleb?”

“Yeah Sam. Listen, Bobby found a spell of revealing that he thinks will work on the Muse,” Caleb told him. “Do you have paper and pencil ready? The ingredients and reagents that you’re going to need for this one are pretty extensive.”

“Hold on.” Sam reached for Dean’s sketchbook and pencil. “What do I need?” Sam wrote down the long list. “Fuck, Caleb, I have no idea where I’m going to get all of this stuff.”

“Yeah, I’m going to email you the runes you’ll need to draw. Make sure to copy them exactly,” Caleb instructed. “And not to make it worse for you, but you have to perform it at moonrise. Tonight that’s about 9:10pm.”

He looked at his watch. “That’s only a little over three hours away,” Sam hissed. “I’m at the hospital with Dean right now. I can’t leave for a while.”

“Hospital? Is he all right?” Caleb asked.

“Not really, but he’s trying to hang in there. One of the doctors wants to perform a procedure that she thinks might help him, so we’re going to try it,” said Sam.

“A procedure? What kind?”

“Trust me, you probably don’t want to know,” Sam winced. Just then, Dr. Liron came in with a couple of other people. “Caleb, I have to go, now. I’ll try and get the stuff and give it a try. I’ll call you later. Thanks man, for everything,” he said quickly and ended the call.

“We’re ready, Sam,” Dr. Liron said.

**O**

Sam envied Dean in a way. He didn’t seem to know or care where he was and didn’t appear to be affected in the slightest by the intimidating machines and equipment that filled the room. There was no suggestion that his brother was put off by the thought that his brain was about to be medically fried. He just lay there, contentedly riding the sedative and strumming his hands without a seeming care in the world. Sam, on the other hand, was keenly aware and was nervous enough for the both of them. They’d wheeled Dean in and transferred him to the procedure table. Dr. Liron came over and stood by Sam, offering him her presence and support while the technicians and anesthesiologist got Dean ready.

“Try not to worry, Sam. I’ll be here to talk you through it, so you know what’s happening. Right now they’re just hooking him up to the heart monitor and attaching the electrodes.” Sam watched as they squeezed some kind of jelly onto the electro-pads and attached them to Dean’s head. Then, they strapped everything in place with a long, plastic strip that was affixed to his forehead. Knowing that 400 volts of electricity were about to pass through his brother’s brain, inducing a grand mal seizure, absolutely horrified him.

“God, I don’t know if I can do this,” he wheezed.

“Dean’s in good hands. He’s not going to feel anything,” she soothed. The anesthesiologist opened a valve on Dean’s IV and Sam watched as the liquid began to drip. “That’s the anesthetic going in,” she explained. Dean suddenly began to twitch and breathe rapidly, and Sam grew agitated and jumpy right along with him. Dr. Liron placed a calming hand on him. “It’s just the first affects of the anesthesia. He’s fine, Sam, it’ll pass.” Within seconds Dean’s hands fell limply to his sides and all the twitches and ticks stopped completely and his breathing evened out. Sam could feel his heart fluttering in his chest. He took a couple of panicked paces and returned to stand by Dr. Liron’s side. One of the technicians opened Dean’s mouth and inserted a flat rubber guard and then clamped his mouth shut. “That’s the mouth guard. They’re going to place the breathing mask over his nose and mouth now.” Right on cue the mask was placed over his brother’s face, and the anesthesiologist turned some dials and made some adjustments to whatever gas he was using. Sam’s breathing started to come in shallow hitches. A few moments passed as they closely monitored Dean’s vitals, then a vial was injected into the catheter. “That’s the Succinylcholine, the muscle relaxant. It wears off in about five minutes, so they need to make sure that once that’s been injected that the procedure is performed quickly, so we’re only a minute away.” Sam’s hands fisted through his hair and latched onto the ends for dear life. The anesthesiologist started doing something to Dean’s eyelids, pressing and stroking them lightly. “He’s checking his reflexes to make sure that the paralytic has taken affect before he starts.”

“The lid-response is gone,” the anesthesiologist looked at the doctor next to him. “We’re ready,” he said.

The doctor nodded and turned a few dials on a box-shaped machine that was placed at the side of the table. Sam winced, Oh god, Dean. I’m so sorry! He couldn’t breathe. The doctor pressed a large green button, holding it down for a couple of seconds then released it just as an oscillating noise, eerie and melancholy, started warbling from the machine. “Here we go,” he said.

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