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We're Fighters, Every One of Us

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Dean O’Gorman felt, in a word, awful. In more than one word, he felt so fucking awful that he was contemplating running away from the set and playing hooky, despite the fact that was not an option in his line of work.

“Come on, Dean, please eat something,” Aidan wheedled from the seat next to him, pushing a plate of chicken, potatoes, and broccoli in front of the New Zealander. “I know you said you aren’t hungry, but you haven’t eaten all day. We’re working hard out there, your body needs fuel.”

“I don’t want it,” Dean mumbled tiredly. “Not only am I not hungry, but this fucking medicine is giving me hell, and I’m not going to eat something before I go back to work because…” He sighed. “Things come out the other end quickly and unpleasantly.”

Aidan wrinkled his nose in disgust. “Ew,” he commented, finally moving the plate away from his grumpy boyfriend. “Maybe you should call your doctor,” he tried tentatively. Dean was very snappish that day due to a lack of food and drink, and he didn’t want to get his head bitten off for this.

“I know I should,” the older man agreed tiredly. “What can he do, though? I can’t stop taking it, but waiting til I can get a different medication will be crap. I’m not supposed to do strenuous stuff when trying new medicine, and our next break is months away.” He glanced up when he heard someone yelling for them to get back to the set of Mirkwood. “Fuck,” he groused, standing up and waiting for Aidan.

At their next five-minute break, Dean felt close to collapse. He wasn’t even sure how many hours had passed since lunch. This was turning out to be an absolutely horrible afternoon--he was woozy, his head hurt, and something on the set smelled awful. He sat heavily on the ground, head in his hands, and didn’t bother to look up when he felt a hand on his shoulder. When he heard a voice, however, he shifted so he could see the speaker.

“You need to go to your trailer, eat something, and sleep,” Jed said bluntly. “Don’t argue with me,” he added as the younger Kiwi opened his mouth. “Graham is already talking to PJ. Adam is trying to find some chicken soup. Richard will probably read you bedtime stories, if you want. We all just want you to stop looking like you’re about to pass out and die on us.”

“Fine,” Dean muttered, then wrinkled his nose. “What the hell is that smell, and can we… I don’t know, turn it off or something?”

Jed furrowed his brow. “What smell?” he asked for clarification, sniffing at the air. It smelled a little gross from all the sweaty people inside, but no worse than usual. “There isn’t anything smellier than usual around here.”

“Oh,” Dean said in a small voice, suddenly putting together the clues. Fuck, his new medication was not worth all the side effects if this was still about to happen at work.

Jed had turned to see if Graham had gotten PJ to come over yet when he heard a sickening thunk behind him. Terrified, he turned around.

Dean was on the ground, body jerking with huge movements. “Dean!” Jed yelled, even though he knew it wouldn’t do any good. It wasn’t like the younger man could just snap himself out of a seizure with a yell of his name, was it? The yell did have the advantage of bringing a people running, though, with Aidan, PJ, and Graham at the front of the incoming group.

Aidan reached them first, immediately dropping to his knees by his boyfriend and yanking off Kili’s coat, which he stuck under Dean’s head like a pillow. “Hey, babe, it’s okay,” he whispered, more out of habit than anything else. The words were a comfort to himself, since Dean wasn’t conscious to hear them. “You’re doing great with your breathing, so great. You’ll be finished in a couple minutes and it’ll be okay,” he continued, needing to talk to keep himself from panicking--Dean’s number one rule was not to panic.

“How are you so calm?” Richard asked somewhat hysterically from the small knot of actors and crew that had formed. His eyes widened as he realized they had skipped a very important step he had learned in some first aid class years ago--thank God he could remember it. “Mark, we need an ambulance!”

“No,” Aidan said sharply, glancing up. “He doesn’t need an ambulance.” He left it at that, turning his attention back to Dean and petting gently at the older man’s hair.

“I think he might have hit his head when he started it,” Jed said quietly, chewing at his lip as he looked at Graham and PJ. “I was facing that way,” he continued, pointing to explain, “but I heard it.” He chanced a glance over at Dean and instantly tore his gaze away. He felt like it was wrong to look, with how exposed the younger man was like this. “He said before he smelled something?”

“It’s an aura, he has them every time,” Aidan said from his position on the floor. He glanced up when nobody responded and rolled his eyes at the stares of the cast. “You’re all grown men, haven’t you heard of epilepsy?”

Adam was the one who spoke up. “Not in terms of Dean, we haven’t,” he said quietly. “Aidan, does this happen a lot? I had no idea, I--”

“He didn’t want you all to know, because everyone freaks out when they do,” Aidan explained, watching closely as Dean stopped jerking around on the ground. He bent and kissed the older man’s temple and whispered some encouraging words before straightening up to continue his explanation to a rather hurt looking group of dwarrows. “Look, you’re his mates, but can you honestly tell me you would have still taken him to bars to get pissed if you knew?” he asked. “He wants to be part of the group, and most people treat him differently when they know about his seizures, so he doesn’t tell.” When everyone kept looking at him expectantly, he sighed in frustration. “If you want to know more, ask him later. It’s his business to tell you, not mine. Okay?” He glared a little at them until they all got the message and dispersed.

Thirty minutes later, Dean let Aidan help him to the makeup trailer to change out of their costumes and get their wigs and prosthetics off, the elder sporting a terrible postictal headache and feeling nauseated. “Did the others see?” he asked quietly as they each undressed, finally feeling like his thoughts were clear enough he could make a sentence.

“Yeah,” Aidan said simply. “They were all panicking. I just told them you have epilepsy, but nothing else. I’m sure they’ll all ask you a ton of shit tomorrow.”

Dean nodded, slowly taking off his pants. “Dammit,” he muttered. “Why’d it have to be in costume? I don’t want to make some poor wardrobe worker wash the piss out of Fili’s twenty fucking layers.” Exhausted, he dropped the pants on the floor. “At least when it’s my own clothes, I deal with it.” He looked over at Aidan, chewing his lip a little. “Nobody said shit about that, right?”

“Of course not,” Aidan said soothingly, buckling his belt. Now fully dressed, he turned his attention to helping Dean--okay, in reality, he was 25% helping Dean get off his costume and 75% just touching and kissing his boyfriend reassuringly, but he was pretty sure comfort counted as help. “I don’t think anyone even noticed. If they did, they won’t laugh. It wasn’t your fault.” He carefully put all of Dean’s costume pieces aside and gave a little assistance to the older man with getting dressed, and then helped him stand up. “Let’s go to your trailer and I’ll make you dinner?”

“You’re amazing,” Dean mumbled, leaning heavily on Aidan as they walked toward the living trailers. Ever since he has started having seizures at thirteen, he was always astounded to find out that they only lasted three minutes or so--they took so much energy, it felt like he had run a marathon.

Aidan snorted. “After you’ve tasted my cooking, you might take that back,” he teased gently as he guided Dean up the couple of steps and into his trailer. They were both rather shocked at what they found inside.

Graham McTavish was standing in Dean’s tiny kitchen, and something smelled delicious. “Hi,” the Scotsman began, smiling. “I hope you don’t mind? Peter let me in. We just thought it would be nice if you two didn’t have to cook, you know.”

Dean grinned back weakly. “McTavish, if I wasn’t committed to a certain lanky Irish mess, I’d marry you for this,” he proclaimed, practically falling into a chair. “Shit, I still might. Aidan, how do you feel about being my mistress?”

“I’d prefer to be your one and only, sorry,” Aidan said, smiling widely as he made Dean a cup of tea--bless Graham, he’d had the kettle on and everything. “I’m a selfish prick,” he added in explanation as he handed Dean the warm mug. “Need anything else before we eat?” he asked, speaking quietly so this could remain private. Thankfully, Graham was a tactful man who decided at that moment to hum to himself as he turned away to stir a pot of soup.

“A kiss would be nice.”

“Yeah, you’re feeling a lot better, aren’t you?


 

At lunch the next day, Dean sat down at the table with Adam, Aidan, Richard, Dean, Jed, and Orlando, and asked, “If I tell you about my epilepsy, will you all stop staring at me like you want to ask but can’t?”

Multiple voices started voicing apologies, but Dean cut them off. “I’m just messing with you. I don’t mind explaining, you just need to tell me what you want to know.”

There was an awkward silence, as nobody wanted to go first, but eventually Richard asked, “What’s the cause, then?”

“It’s called temporal lobe epilepsy,” Dean began, happy the first question was one he had been answering for years and could probably explain in his sleep. “It started when I was thirteen. It’s hereditary, but it comes from recessive genes, so I’m the only one in my family. It caused a lesion that causes what’s called Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizures, but most people use the word grand mal,” he explained. Whenever people were curious, he gave them a lot of information--he preferred that to a bunch of follow-up questions. “Basically, it’s what you saw today. They’re usually controlled by medication pretty well, but I forgot to take my medication on time yesterday because the side-effects made me miserable.”

“You usually have a couple a week at night, when your medication starts wearing off,” Aidan supplemented, looking to his boyfriend for confirmation that it was okay to share that information.

Dean nodded in agreement, then waited for another question.

Adam cleared his throat, looking serious. “Dean,” he began in a grave tone, “why did Aidan get to know before all of us?”

Before Dean could respond, Aidan butted in. “I’m prettier.”