center Epilogue /center

Sam sat on the bed, flipping through the channels on the television, trying to find something good to watch. He had gained ultimate control of the remote when it had become obvious that Dean either had to push the buttons with his tongue or find a way to leverage the remote and push it with his only operable finger, the thumb on his left hand. Sam had decided he didn't want Dean's slobber all over the buttons and Dean had decided it really wasn't worth the effort. So Sam was currently trying to find a show that would irritate his brother the most. Revenge was sweet. So many times Dean had won the battles for the remote. Now, glory would be Sam's.

Both brothers were finding Dean's hand predicament to be both amusing and frustrating at the same time. Dean had at first played it to his advantage, taking pleasure in having Sam wait on him hand and foot. But there were some things that Dean wanted to do for himself and was utterly aggravated when he realized he couldn't. It'd taken him a half an hour to figure out how he could successfully go to the bathroom without requiring Sam to unzip him, which in all honesty, neither of them would have found pleasant.

But currently, Dean was waging a war against food utensils as he sat at the table trying to figure out how he was going to eat the sweet and sour chicken in front of him. Sam glanced over at his brother when he suddenly gave a triumphant hoorah and saw that he had finally managed to get a fork in between his thumb and the cast on his left hand. Dean grinned and looked up at Sam. "Take that, bitch," he spat playfully.

Sam didn't say anything as he watched his brother try to stick a piece of chicken with the loosely held fork. After a few minutes, Dean bent down and got his chin involved to apply enough force to spear the meat. When it was finally in place, Dean lifted his hand slowly, the fork teetering dangerously close to slipping out of his thumb's grasp. The look on Dean's face was almost too much to Sam and he had to hold back his laughter. He'd never seen his brother concentrate so hard, with his tongue sticking out the side of his mouth, and his eyes looking childishly determined.

When the chicken finally was engulfed in Dean's mouth, he yanked the fork back and it immediately slipped out of his grip, clanged on the table tauntingly, and then fell to the floor where it lay still, teasing Dean with it's shinning forkedness. Dean leaned over to eye it, chewing slowly. He stared at it for a while and when he finally swallowed his food, his eyes rose to meet Sam's, expectantly.

"Take that, bitch," Sam mocked Dean's earlier statement and made it a point to lean back on the bed and knit his hands on the back of his head. Dean just continued to stare at him before he too leaned back in his chair, a dejected, pouty look on his face.

"Are you really going to let your poor brother starve?" Dean asked finally, when the staring competition got them nowhere.

Sam shrugged. "That depends," Sam said, the coy grin still on his face. "Are you going to keep dropping that fork and making me pick it up or are you going to let me help you eat so the fork never drops in the first place."

Dean licked his lips. "No way in hell am I letting you feed me," he said in a low voice.

"Then yes, you can starve," Sam answered and turned to look at the television. "Oh look, a documentary on chimpanzees. You could take notes. They don't have opposable thumbs either."

"Fucker," Dean spat and leaned over once again to look at the fork. He sighed before looking back at the chicken in front of him, trying to determine if there was another way. The slow grin that spread across his face gave Sam the idea that maybe he should have just picked up the fork. Dean cleared his throat and leaned forward, using his teeth to eat the chicken right off the plate. He sat back up and chewed excessively to show Sam. When he swallowed he grinned cockily and said, "Just remember you have to be seen in public with me."

"We're not going into public any time soon," Sam countered with a glare.

"We'll see about that," Dean said. "Oh, maybe I'll get spaghetti. That'll be fun." He made a slurping sound to accentuate.

Sam sighed and shook his head. "You're going to make these next three weeks impossible, aren't you?" he asked.

"Sure am," Dean answered, leaning down to pick up another piece of chicken. He held it between his teeth and sat back up, raising his eyebrows at Sam before he let it fall into his mouth. "And I'll love every minute of it."

"You're an ass," Sam said. He stood up and started getting ready for bed. "There's nothing wrong with accepting help, Dean."

Dean snorted. "Hey maybe I could learn how to use a fork with my toes," Dean said suddenly, ignoring Sam's comment. Sam sighed as he slipped out of his jeans and pulled back the covers on his bed before he slid into it. "I've seen people with no arms who paint with their feet. They sell that crap for big bucks."

"You've so much tact, Dean," Sam said sarcastically as he fluffed his pillow and rolled over, his back facing Dean, watching the television. "It's a wonder you're not more successful with the ladies."

"What?" Dean spat incredulously. "I'm successful," he defended lamely. "The ladies can't resist me."

"You know, you do a lot of talking, but I never see any action," Sam countered. His voice was playful and he looked over his shoulder at his brother, who had gotten to his feet and was now in the process of trying to wiggle out of his jeans with only the use of one thumb. When his brother succeeded, he turned to give Sam a glare.

"Fine," Dean said, slipping beneath the blankets and giving a content sigh to be laying down again. Sam watched him carefully. Dean was still horribly sore and bruised. Even through all the light banter they spat at each other, Sam could tell Dean was still bothered by what happened. They could make light of Dean's injuries, but Sam knew that his brother was frustrated with how severely he'd be limited until he got the use of his hands back. Dean didn't like not being in control. He didn't like not being able to function to his full capacity. Sam couldn't blame him. "The next time I hook up with a chick, I'll bring her back to the motel room and we'll do it right of you, how about that?"

Sam scoffed and rolled back over, eyeing the television again. "Sick," he uttered. Dean gave a laugh at that and the two brothers fell into silence. Sam could hear his brother messing with something on the table and after a few minutes, he gave a loud sigh. Sam rolled over to look at him and saw Dean reaching out with his left hand, trying to flick off the lamp next to his bed. "Just ask, Dean," he said, the taunting and joking out of his voice. He knew it was hard for his brother to ask for help. He wouldn't make it harder for him if Dean was willing to put his pride aside for a minute and just ask.

Dean let his hand drop and he looked across at Sam. They stared at each other again for a moment before Dean's look turned into a glare. "You're not going to turn it off, are you?"

"Not until you ask," Sam said.

Dean growled and rolled onto his back, shifting the covers up a bit and staring at the ceiling. "Then I guess we'll sleep with the lights on," he grumbled.

Sam sighed and thought about just reaching out and turning the light off out of pity, but knew if he did it now, Dean would never learn to just ask. He watched Dean stew silently for a moment before he shrugged and said, "Suit yourself." Then he rolled over and muted the television, giving Dean at least that. There was always compromise.

He half hoped that Dean would just cave in and ask already, but after a few minutes, Sam rolled over again to look at his brother only to find that Dean had actually fallen asleep. He sat up a little to get a better view, making sure that Dean wasn't faking just to get his way. But even as Sam was watching him, Dean rolled onto his side and smacked his lips. Sam half smiled and reached to turn off the lights.

A few hours later, after Sam had clicked off the television and had fallen asleep, he was woken by his brother's sounds of distress. Sam was immediately awake. He looked and saw his brother was caught, yet again, in another nightmare, no doubt reliving the time he'd spent locked inside the coffin. Sam rolled out of bed and stepped over to Dean, leaning over him. He placed a hand gently on Dean's shoulder and whispered, "Hey, Dean." His brother didn't seem to respond, only continued to whimper and cringe. Sam gave him a light shake and added, "Dean, come on, wake up, it's just a dream."

Dean came awake with a start, taking deep gasps of breath. His eyes stared straight ahead at the wall, but Sam knew that Dean had acknowledged his presence by the way he'd hooked his thumb around one of Sam's fingers. After making sure Dean knew it had just been a nightmare, Sam patted Dean's shoulder with his other hand and made to go back to bed, but Dean's thumb didn't let go of his finger. Sam frowned down at him. The nightmare must have been intense. He sat down on the side of Dean's bed, watching as Dean closed his eyes and didn't say anything.

Sam reached out and rubbed Dean's shoulder in gentle circles, letting him know that he was okay, that he wasn't trapped inside a coffin, alone and dying. Pretty soon, Dean had fallen back to sleep. Sam watched his brother's face for a moment. What a role reversal. Sam wasn't used to sitting with Dean when he had a nightmare. His brother didn't have them often, even as a kid, but when he did, he'd usually gotten over them pretty quickly. This was different for both of them.

But Sam sat with Dean the rest of the night. Not just because he wanted to make sure Dean was all right and didn't have another nightmare. Not just because he knew that he'd probably get nightmares of his own, about losing his brother. Not just because he wanted to keep Dean in his sight, to remind himself that his brother was still there.

Sam sat with Dean until morning because, with the only working finger he had, Dean had silently asked Sam to stay.

Who was he to deny him that?