You're Not Alone
Disclaimer: Still not mine. Bummer.
A/N: This follows closely after Asylum and will also touch on the events from the episode "Home." For those who read my story "The Proud Father," yes, Missouri will be back in this one. For those who haven't read it, feel free, but I don't think you'll need it if you don't.
After four nights the walls of the motel room seemed to be closing in, and the mattress seemed lumpier by the minute. Sam squinted past the empty bed next to him and caught a glimpse of the sun rising through a slit in the curtains. It didn't surprise him that the bed was empty. It had been four days since the asylum and Dean was still recovering, but he wasn't about to admit it. In fact, his big brother had been all for moving on the next day until Sam had changed tactics in his argument and complained of exhaustion and asked to stay a little longer. As usual Dean showed no concern for himself, but would bend over backward if Sam's health was in question.
Sam smirked at his brother, who was currently dozing off in a chair in the corner of the room. After spending the first night in bed, Dean had moved to the chair, claiming that he could breathe easier sitting up, but Sam suspected that his position had more to do with his reflexes being slowed by his injuries. Sam's smile fell away as he watched his brother sleep in the chair with a shotgun across his lap. Even with his bruised and cracked ribs Dean still insisted on being the protector.
Pushing away a pang of guilt, Sam slipped out of bed and padded into the bathroom for a quick shower. They had spoken about the events in the asylum – as much as they did about anything – and Dean had assured him that it was not his fault. Things seemed to be back to normal between them, but this didn't prevent Sam from blaming himself when he saw his brother's stiff posture and the dark circles under his eyes. He'd tried to convince Dean that he could keep watch, had offered to take the bed closest to the door, but Dean had laughed and waved him off, insisting that Sam needed the rest more than he did.
Stepping under the hot water, Sam tried to push all thoughts out of his head. He wasn't sure how long he stood there, but as the hot water ran out he toweled off and walked back into the room to find clothes. He was relieved to see that Dean – who normally woke at the smallest sound - was still sleeping in the chair.
One perk of staying in the same place for more than a couple days was the free time to spend at the laundromat. A drawback, especially in a small town, was the limited options for food. As he threw on clean jeans and a T-shirt, Sam decided on the diner over the bakery. More nourishment would help his brother heal faster. He reached for his wallet on the table next to Dean, but jumped back, startled, when he saw his brother's eyes were open.
Dean smirked, "Going someplace?" Moving gingerly, he slid the shot gun onto the floor watching Sam pause to let his heart beat return to normal.
"Don't do that! Do you have any idea how freaky that is?" Without thinking, Sam swung at his brother's head and was relieved when Dean blocked him easily. "Feeling better, huh?"
"Getting there." Dean eased himself to his feet and started toward the bathroom.
Sam noted that his movements were still a little slow, but the pain was obviously not as bad, and barely showed in his face. He sighed, shaking his head. It was frustrating to try to guess at his brother's pain but, after all, this was the same idiot who had walked around on a broken ankle for three days when he was fourteen, because he didn't want to burden their father during a hunt. When Sam finally broke his promise and told their father, Dean hadn't spoken to him for two weeks.
"Ah, fond childhood memories," Sam thought to himself wryly, tracking his brother's progress across the room. The normal spring was still missing from his step, but at least Dean was moving a little less like an old man. "Hey man, I was going to the diner," he called after him. "You want me to bring you back something or should I wait for you to come with?"
Dean paused in the doorway. "Just bring me back something. I want to grab a shower." He disappeared into the bathroom, but his voice drifted out behind him. "You better not've used all the hot water."
Sam smiled to himself and ducked out of the room without answering.
Dean sighed in relief when he heard the outside door click shut. The physical pain of his injuries he could handle – hell, it wasn't like this was the first time his ribs had been broken – but seeing the guilt and the tentativeness on Sam's face was killing him. He knew that Sam hadn't shot him on purpose; he knew that his brother wouldn't intentionally kill him. So let's move on already. Rehashing the incident over and over just made it hurt more.
Based on the amount of time that Sam had spent in the bathroom, Dean was pleasantly surprised to find the water was warm, almost hot. He soaped up quickly, then spent a few extra minutes just letting it wash over the marks on his chest. The wounds had scabbed up nicely and, as he toweled off, he was contemplating leaving the bandages off when he heard his cell phone ringing in the other room. Wrapping the towel around his waist he hurried to answer it.
"Hello?" When no one answered, Dean was tempted to throw the phone across the room. Sometimes technology really sucked. Instead he looked down at the display and saw a text message. Coordinates again, 39.602N -95.718W. Dean felt hurt wash over him. Was that all their father had to offer? He obviously didn't want to talk to them – if he was able to send them numbers there was nothing stopping him from sending words. Or how about picking up the phone and calling? Dean pushed his feelings aside with the ease of much practice and moved to the table to boot up the laptop. Might as well find out where they would be headed. While he was waiting for the computer, Dean pulled on his pants and dug through his bag for a shirt. When the doorknob rattled he paused for a minute with his hand on the shot gun, but relaxed as Sam walked in.
Dean watched Sam's grimace as his eyes were drawn to the bruises and scabs on his chest. His baby brother quickly looked away, taking in the laptop and the expression on his face before asking, "What's going on?"
Dean tossed the cell phone to him and pulled his shirt over his head quickly. "Looks like Dad called again." He struggled to keep his voice neutral.
"Dean, you're not ready to hunt again yet. You're still hurt and you're not sleeping. We need to stay here at least a few more days," Sam told him, using that reasonable voice of his that always made Dean feel like he was being patronizing.
"Sammy, I was ready three days ago. We're still here because you needed the rest." Actually, Dean was grateful that Sam had insisted on staying. He knew that he had been in no condition to drive during those first couple days, but he wasn't about to admit that he'd been in pain, and his gratitude wouldn't stop him from throwing his brother's words back in his face.
"Dean," Sam was starting to get pissed now, "you can't seriously be planning to chase down another set of coordinates on Dad's say-so. His last little assignment almost got you killed! And how do we know they're from Dad anyway?"
Dean hesitated for a moment. He almost wanted to believe that the coordinates weren't from their father. He wanted to agree with Sam and reassure them both that their father wouldn't limit his communications to a set of numbers. But in the end he knew better. "You know this fits Dad's MO. All business – nothing but the hunt." He reached out to touch his brother's shoulder. "Sammy, we don't have a choice. We've got no other leads, no place else to look. Either we do what he wants or we take the chance that we lose even this much communication."
Sam looked at his brother desperately, "We could wait a few more days until you're all healed up. So what if we miss him there. We'll find another way…" Sam's voice trailed off, and he suddenly shook his head. "No. Knowing that bastard, he'll stop even texting if he doesn't get what he wants," he paused and took a deep breath. "Fine. You call it."
Dean sighed and ran a hand through his hair, ignoring the pull of the scabs on his chest. "Get on the laptop and see where he's sending us. I'll pack us up," he instructed as he moved toward their bags.
"Sit down and eat first. I'll help you pack after breakfast." Sam didn't bother to look up from the computer as he kicked a chair out for his brother to join him at the table.
Dean had only taken a few bites of his pancakes when he felt Sam's eyes on him. "What?" he asked self-consciously, "Did I get syrup on me?" he swiped at the side of his mouth, but stopped abruptly when it didn't earn as much as a smirk from his brother. "Sammy, what's wrong?"
Sam seemed reluctant to maintain eye contact. "It's just…I mean…" he couldn't seem to complete the sentence.
"Spit it out already. What? He's sending us to the Bermuda Triangle?" Dean joked, trying to lighten the mood.
Sam shook his head, staring at the screen in front of him, studiously avoiding eye contact. "No, Dean, he's sending us back to Kansas."