-1Casualties Part 2
By infinite shadow
Disclaimer: Nope. I still don't own Supernatural, the Winchester men, the Impala (please let it live!), Joshua, Pastor Jim or anyone else recognizable in the following story. No money was made so please don't sue.
Author's notes: First and foremost I know nothing about medicine. That said I've had one or two concussions in my lifetime. I've taken what I can remember about them and used them in the story. I've tried to look up information on the web but there is some conflicting information out there so I went with what felt right.
A very big thank you to my best friend lynxlan for betaing and helping me out with some of the parts I was having trouble with.
"Sammy? Can you hear me?" Dean asked as he knelt on the ground beside his brother.
"Dean?" came a weak voice.
"Yeah it's me. Can you get up?" Dean asked. "I have to check on Dad."
"Help me," Sam said quietly.
Dean helped his little brother onto his feet and helped steady him as they hurried over to their father.
"Dad?" Dean asked as he knelt by his father. "Dad can you hear me?"
He carefully placed two fingers at the side of his bloody neck and came up with a fairly strong pulse. But he knew his Dad wouldn't last long out here.
"Dean?" Sam whispered.
"We need to go Sammy," he said softly still doing a cursory assessment of John. "Now."
"Dean!" Sam yelled as he pulled on his jacket.
"What!" he said pulling his attention away to his brother then looked to see what had startled his brother. Dean paled. A second bear was running straight at them at full speed.
Dean reached into his pocket and took out his Dad's gun. He aimed straight for the bear but just as he pulled the trigger part of the casing slipped away and the gun did not discharge. Dean looked at the gun momentarily stunned. His own father's gun, the one that he'd had as long as Dean could remember, the one he cleaned and polished almost nightly was falling apart. It must have been damaged in an attack from the previous bear.
He pulled out the gun from his holster, aimed and tried to fire. When nothing happened he realized that it was still jammed.
"Sammy shoot it!" Dean commanded.
Dean could see the barrel in his peripheral vision. He could see it shake slightly, but he had every confidence that his brother would make his shot. After all Dean was a crack shot and he had taught his little brother all he knew about firing a gun.
Sam pulled the trigger and the beast went down. Dean watched as the bear began to morph. He heard rustling in the bushes next to him and felt a sharp pain in his side as his world went black.
"NO!" Sam yelled wrenching out of sleep and struggled to get out from under Dean's arm.
"Whoa Sammy it's ok," Dean said tightening his hold around his brother.
"NO! You're not Dean!" Sam yelled and fought harder to get away.
Dean gasped as Sam got a good shot to his mid section, a direct hit on one of his stitched up gashes.
"Damnit Sam. It's me," Dean said as he hunched over at the pain.
"No Dean and Dad are gone. Let me go!" Sam yelled.
"Gone?" Jim said as he got off the recliner and moved over to the boys. "Gone how Sam?"
"They were killed by the bears and I couldn't get them help," Sam said. "Let go!"
Dean gasped a second time and let Sam go. The pain in his chest was excruciating and he did his best to breathe around the pain without swearing.
"Sammy listen to me," Jim said. "Dean isn't dead, he's been right here with you the whole time."
"N-no," Sam said as he threw off the blanket, scooted away from his brother's grasp and moved down the couch. When he stopped he curled up in a ball.
"Sammy," Dean said softly. "I'm me. Dad and I did not die from the berserker attack. I drove us to Joshua's for help."
Sam was quiet at the opposite end of the couch to where Dean was. Only faint sniffles could be heard coming from him.
Dean struggled to sit up and he knew he looked bad when he caught the look on the pastor's face when he glanced at him. He didn't care. He had to find a way to get through to Sam that he was fine or he was going to get a lot more bruised every time his brother woke from a nightmare.
He struggled off the couch, took a couple of steps and stood in front of his brother not sure what to say. He heard Jim move close to him and was slightly buoyed that he had a little backup for this one.
"Sam you had a bad nightmare. Now I know it feels real, but it wasn't. Dad and I survived the hunt with the berserkers. We're at Joshua's and Dad's at the hospital with Joshua. Pastor Jim came this afternoon to keep us company," Dean said panting slightly against the pain and the slight dizziness he was feeling. "Sammy I'm me, I swear."
Sam's lower lip trembled a little and then stilled. "You died in front of me with blood all over you. Told me to find pastor Jim that he would look after me," Sam whispered.
Dean swayed slightly and shook his head. What would it take to get through to his brother? He felt Jim move closer to him and put a steadying hand on his shoulder. Moving away from the touch he sat on the couch beside his brother gathering him tightly into his arms before he could move away.
"Listen to me," Dean said. "I'm me Sam. I know you can't see and it's scary but I'm alive."
Sam squirmed in his arms.
Dean looked up at the man standing in front of them. "Help me. Hold down his legs," Dean said. It was time to end this and he wasn't sure he could if Sam was able to hit one of his wounds again.
Jim looked like he didn't want to do it, but gave in kneeling in front of the couch. Dean let go of his brother and Jim grabbed Sam's legs holding them down as gently as he could. Dean reached out and grabbed Sam's hand. He held the small hand against his chest.
"Sammy do you feel that? Do you feel my heart beating?" Dean asked as silently prayed for this to work. "I'm alive."
Sam stilled as he not only felt Dean's heart beating but his amulet as well. "Dean?" he whispered.
"Yeah?" Dean said unsure if his brother would try to bolt or believe him.
"It's really you?" he asked.
"Yeah buddy it's me," he said relaxing slightly nodding at Jim to let go of Sam's legs.
"Daddy's alive?" Sam asked.
Dean's head came up slightly at the use of the word Daddy. Neither one had called their Dad that in years.
"Yeah Sam, last I heard Dad was alive," he said softly.
Dean held Sam's hand tighter as he felt it start to shake against his chest.
"Dean?" Sam said his voice cracking over his brother's name. "It's too dark."
"I know it is. But it'll get better I promise. Your swelling will go down and you'll see again," Dean said softly.
Sam's breathing seemed to increase and Dean could see Jim scowling slightly.
"Sammy you need to calm down. Everything's going to be ok," Dean said.
Sam pulled his hand away from his brother. "It doesn't feel that way," Sam whispered as a lone tear slipped down his cheek.
Dean reached out and gently wiped the tear away. He felt Sam flinch slightly at the light touch but wasn't sure if it was because he'd touched him near a bruise or that he wasn't expecting the touch. More tears began to fall and Dean pulled his brother against his chest unsure what else to do.
"Dean has he been crying a lot?" Jim asked quietly.
Dean rested his chin on the top of Sam's head. "Yeah."
"Has he been clingy?" Jim asked his frown deepening.
"Yeah," Dean sighed. "He's concussed. Sometimes a concussion can bring out this kind of behaviour. He's not behaving like this on purpose."
"Aren't you concussed?" Jim asked.
"Yeah a little. But mine just made me tired and gave me a bitch of a headache," Dean said then closed his eyes. "Sorry Pastor."
"It's all right Dean. Look is there something we can do for Sam? To help him feel better?" Jim asked feeling a little out of his league. He knew ways to heal the soul, not the body.
"There's not much we can do for a concussion. For mine I can take a pain reliever and it'll battle my headache for me. But for Sam it just has to run its course. Concussions differ from person to person. People exhibit different signs. The last time Dad had a concussion he slept for days. The few hours he was awake he was confused, unsure, and combative," Dean said and sighed. "Not to us, he took great pains not to yell at us or do anything to us. It took time but he got better."
"What about his swollen eyes?" Jim asked.
"We could try an ice pack to bring down the swelling," Dean suggested.
"Sam would you be able to take some cold ice over your eyes for a bit?" Jim asked.
Sam sniffed. "Yeah."
Jim smiled and went into the kitchen. Dean could hear him moving around in the small area.
"Sam can you turn over? Lay back against my chest so that you can take the ice pack for a while?" Dean asked.
Sam moved onto his back and Dean curled an arm around the top of his chest. Truth be told since the attack when Sam wasn't in his sight he felt an all encompassing panic. He knew logically it was a part of his concussion, but it wasn't something he felt like he could control. If keeping Sam in his sights would keep the panicky feelings away then Sam would stay close.
"I'm sorry Dean," Sam said.
"For what?" Dean asked.
"Hunters don't act this way," Sam said.
Dean sighed at the shame in his little brother's voice and he tightened his grip on him slightly. "Sammy you're right. Most of the time hunters don't act this way. But sometimes they do when they have concussions."
"You have a concussion and you're not acting this way," Sam pointed out.
"Yeah well everyone reacts differently to concussions. You have nothing to apologize for Sam. You've done nothing wrong," Dean said strongly.
"Ok, one ice pack for Samuel," Jim said as he came back into the room.
"Sammy," Sam said not liking the Christian version of his name.
"Sam I'm going to shift you to lie on your back ok?" Dean said then hesitated as Sam's hand whipped up and grabbed Dean's arm that was wrapped around him.
"No," Sam said.
"I'm not going anywhere Sam, but the ice pack will just slide off if we put it on you right now," Dean said.
Sam nodded and scooted further down the couch slightly. Dean pulled him back so that his head rested against his thigh. Jim handed Dean the ice pack.
"Ok I'm going to put the ice over your eyes now. If it gets too much tell me and I'll take it off," Dean said.
Sam nodded and tensed as the cold met his bruised eyes.
"Ok Sam?" Dean asked as he ran a hand through his hair.
"Yeah," Sam said and relaxed slightly.
Jim moved back to the recliner. "What happened next Dean?"
Dean looked away from his brother to Jim. "When?"
"Back in the forest. You were knocked out. What do you remember happening next?" Jim asked.
Dean sighed and thought back.
Dean hovered somewhere between consciousness and unconsciousness.
"Dean!" he heard a young voice call out. "Dad!"
The voice sounded so afraid and so far away. There was so much pain in his body he wanted to fall into the dark grace that would take it all away.
"Please don't be dead," the young voice pleaded quietly. "Dean where are you?"
Dean heard the fear in the young voice and thought he should really wake up. He just couldn't seem to get clear of the fog that surrounded him. He floated for a few minutes not hearing anything until he heard the distinctive sound of someone being sick to their stomach. Then tears, whimpers and sniffles, from somewhere nearby.
He thought someone should comfort the poor kid.
Pain intensified around his middle as someone fell over him and he heard the boy crying next to him.
"Dean?" the young voice said quietly.
He could feel hands on his chest and arm. The darkness beckoned him away from the pain and he started to fall into it.
"No!" the boy whispered. "You can't be dead. Please Dean don't be dead."
Wait he wasn't dead. The boys whimpers turned to heart stopping sobs. Dean pushed through the pain and the mind numbing fog. Suddenly he realized the kid was his little brother. He pushed harder to wake up.
"Sm," he mumbled and heard a gasp from just above him.
"Dean?" Sam whispered.
"Wtz wog" Dean asked then tried again. "What's wrong?"
"I - I thought you were dead," he said quietly around the hitching in his chest.
"I'm not. Stop crying. Hunters like us don't cry," Dean said repeating what his own father had said to him on his second or third hunt.
"I-I c-can't," he said and began to breath heavier almost hyperventilating.
"Sammy it's ok," Dean said trying to figure out what happened that night and to force his eyes open. "Where's Dad?"
"I don't know. I can't see him," he said.
Dean could hear him take deep breaths as he tried to calm himself. He struggled for a moment and his eyes opened through a sticky coating of blood. Reaching up he wiped a hand over his face clearing most of the semi-dried blood off his eyes.
"Help me up," he said as he tried to focus on his brother.
He felt hands on his biceps and pain ran through a good portion of his arm, shoulder and neck. Swallowing a groan he allowed Sam to do most of the pulling as he tried to manage the pain.
"Sammy did you get it?" Dean asked as some of the pieces of what happened that night began falling into place.
"Yeah I got both of them," Sam said quietly.
"Both?" Dean repeated. He was sure he got the other one.
"You got the first bear. Then a second one came at us and I got it. As I shot the second bear a third one came out from behind us and it hurt you. I shot it a couple of times before it died," Sam reported quietly.
Dean nodded then wished he hadn't. His head hurt something awful. "You did good Sammy."
"Dean they were a family. It looks like you got their daughter and I got the parents," Sam whispered.
"You listen to me Sam. You did good. They were not human. Remember that. We do not take human lives, just the demons, got it?" Dean said.
"Yeah," Sam mumbled.
"Now we gotta find Dad," Dean said looking around.
"We found Dad a short distance away," Dean said as a shiver ran through his body. "He was non-responsive and he'd lost a lot of blood."
Sam pulled off the ice pack and moved into a sitting position. He laid his head against his brother's chest and held onto him tightly.
Dean could feel the trembling from his brother and wrapped his arms around him. He hoped the concussion wouldn't last for long. Dad would frown upon this kind of behaviour.
"Sam?" Dean asked.
Sam yawned and held on tighter. "Cold and tired."
"Ok, why don't you get some sleep," Dean said as he reached for the blanket.
Jim got up and wrapped the blanket around them both. "Why don't you both get some sleep?" he suggested.
"Not tired," Dean said absently rubbing his hand in circles on Sam's back.
"I'm sure you're not," Jim said smiling slightly. "Look it's almost eight. I'm going to see what I can do about dinner."
"Pizza?" Sam whispered half asleep.
"You want pizza little man?" Dean asked. The thought of pizza, or any other type of food, made his throat burn and gave him the distinct feeling of throwing up.
Sam yawned and snuggled closer tightening his grip. "Cheese pizza."
"I'll see about ordering up some pizzas," Jim said. "You two try to get some sleep."
Dean shook his head making his slight headache worse. He needed to stay awake, he wasn't sure why, he just had an overwhelming need to stay awake.
"Dean you don't have to sleep. Why don't you stretch out and just rest your eyes for a moment," Jim suggested.
Dean shook his head and winced. "Too quiet."
Jim looked at him for a moment really not liking how pale the boy was. But he remembered another hunt that had gone wrong and John and thirteen year old Dean had ended up in his small apartment next to his church broken and wounded. Dean would not sleep without some very quiet music on. He'd said it downed out the screaming of the people they hadn't been able to save. But he'd only admitted to that after John was asleep.
"I'll find a radio and put it on quietly," Jim said. "Stretch out Dean. It'll help Sam sleep better."
Dean nodded. "Sammy I'm going to lay down. I need you to let go for a little bit."
Sam yawned as he let go and allowed Jim to pull him off his brother long enough for Dean to lie down. Jim gently put Sam between Dean and the couch back. Sam's arms went back around his brother and held on tightly as he snuggled into his brother's chest.
Jim knelt beside the couch for a moment and when Sam's breathing had evened out somewhat he looked at Dean. "Is there anything you need Dean?"
"Just the music," Dean whispered. "And a pillow?"
"Sure. I'll be right back," Jim said and then he was gone returning a moment later with a pillow and a clock radio that he'd unplugged from the room Sam and Dean had been sleeping in. He gently placed the pillow under Dean's head and plugged in the radio. He found a quiet station playing soft rock and put the volume on low.
Pausing by the boys for a moment he placed his hand on their heads lightly. "Sleep well and may your slumber be protected against nightmares," he whispered.
"Thanks," Dean whispered and allowed himself to drift into sleep.
Dean woke sometime later to hushed voices speaking and recognized Joshua's voice. He wasn't sure if he should be scared or relieved that the doctor was back as he swallowed back he nausea he felt at the smell of greasy pizza. Trying to take a deep breath he choked on the pain that burned out from his chest. He coughed deep and painfully squeezing his eyes shut at the added pain it caused in his chest and his head.
When the spasm had stopped he concentrated on taking small shallow breaths. Opening his eyes he was vaguely aware of Joshua hovering above him as his breath wheezed in and out of his chest.
"How are you doing there Dean?" Joshua asked.
"Hurts," Dean whispered not able to garner more energy to talk.
"I know it does buddy," Joshua said. "I need to examine your chest, ok?"
Dean tried to focus on his face but his eyes wouldn't seem to cooperate. Suddenly the comforting warmth and painful light weight of his brother was gone.
"No, Sammy!" Dean said panic filling his mind. His brother had been right here and he'd lost him. Dad was going to kill him. "Sammy!"
"Dean?" Sammy's sleep filled voice called out.
"It's ok Sam. We need to check out your brother's wounds. I'm going to take you into the other room so Joshua can work on him. He's going to be fine," Jim said.
Dean could hear Jim's voice fade as he walked away. Relief flowed through him. Pastor Jim had found his brother and he'd be safe with the clergy man. He felt his shirt get lifted up and tried to move the hands away from him.
"Easy Dean. I just need to check your wounds," Joshua said in a soft calming voice.
Dean coughed deep and long again. He tasted copper in his mouth and something warm was on his lips.
"Oh shit," Joshua swore.
Dean felt hands on his stomach and he opened his eyes to see Joshua concentrating on his chest and belly. He tried to focus properly at what Joshua was doing, but things seemed perpetually out of focus. As he let his head relax back on the pillow he wondered idly when he was going to be back to normal, if ever. He saw the doctor look over at him and say something, but his voice seemed to have been slowed down and garbled. Then he raced away and was back a moment later.
Dean saw the flash of something metal and something plastic. He felt something cold on his stomach and he thought it was ice. A moment later fiery pain ripped through his belly and he thought he heard someone scream as he was engulfed in darkness.
When Dean woke again he was back in the bedroom and light seeped through the fold in the drapes.
"Dean?" a voice said softly and Dean shifted his head to where the voice had originated from.
Pastor Jim was sitting next to his bed looking exhausted with his Bible open in his hands.
"You've been asleep for about twelve hours and had all of us real worried," Jim said as he closed the good book, as the pastor referenced it, and put it on the side table.
Dean followed his movements and saw the table filled with a large amount of gauzing and medical instruments. He swallowed and shifted his attention back to the clergy man not sure he had enough energy to keep his eyes open.
Jim leaned forward resting his arms on his knees. "You were more injured than we knew. When the bear had thrown you against the tree one of your ribs was broken and pulled away slightly. It made a heck of a mess of your insides. Now I won't try to explain fully, I'll let Joshua do that. But you had a lot of internal injuries and Joshua had to fix you up. Now he's not done Dean, your chest had to drain the excess fluid."
Dean raised a hand slightly to stop the man. He didn't understand, it was too much information and his head felt like it was filled with cotton. Thankfully Jim stopped his monologue.
"Sorry I know it's a lot to take in," Jim said softly. "In a nut shell your insides got a little scrambled."
Dean tried to sit up but Jim put a hand on his shoulder to keep him lying down.
"Dean you have a drainage tube in your belly to help drain it. You're hooked up to an IV to keep up your fluids. You can't move out of that bed," Jim said.
"Sam," he whispered.
Jim smiled. He was always amazed at the dedication that the two boys had for each other. "Sammy's fine. His swelling is coming down and with his vision returning he's calmed a lot. He's much more like his old self. Although it's been hard to keep him away from you."
"See him," Dean whispered.
"No, not yet. Besides Sammy's sleeping right now. He's still doing a lot of that," Jim said softly. "You should still be sleeping as well."
"Dad," Dean whispered. He had so many questions but not the energy to ask them. He could barely get out a couple of words, let alone keep his eyes open.
"You're Dad's had some surgery and is doing a lot better," Jim said. "Everything's going to be ok Dean. The Winchester family will survive to fight another day."
"Promise?" Dean barely whispered.
"Yeah I do. Close your eyes and get some sleep. You'll feel better soon," Jim said softly.
Dean closed his eyes giving up the struggle to keep them open.
"Rest now son. Things will be better when you wake up," Jim said softly.
Dean regained consciousness a few times over the course of the day, but did not stay awake for more than a few minutes. He remembered Sam being there once, but most of the time Joshua or Jim were there. Once he woke up alone although he was sure he could hear the two men talking just outside of his room. The last time he remembered waking Joshua was standing over him and he was cold. He realized that the blankets were pulled back and Joshua was examining his wounds.
"Cold," Dean whispered and Joshua's head shot up.
"I know," he said. "This looks a lot better Dean. I'm going to remove the drainage tube and sew you back up."
Dean had a hard time focusing on the man, but what he said sounded painful.
Joshua straightened up and picked up something from the side table. "See you in a few hours Dean."
Dean tried to protest as Joshua added something to his IV but his world went dark again before he could get anything out.
When Dean woke again Sam was sitting beside his bed. It looked like he was struggling to focus on a book in his hands.
"Sammy?" he croaked out.
"Dean! You're awake," the boy said as he bounced off the chair took a step to the side of the bed.
"Yeah. You ok?" Dean asked trying to focus enough to run a critical eye over his brother.
"I'm better. You were right, the swelling has gone down a bit and I can see a little," Sam said smiling.
Dean felt relieved. For a while there he wasn't sure he'd see his brother smile again. "That's good Sammy."
"How do you feel?" Sam asked softly the concern written all over his face.
"I'm not sure Sam. I can't really feel anything," Dean said. "Can you get Joshua for me?"
"Ok," Sam said looking unsure.
"It's ok Sammy," Dean said. "I'm sure it's just something like he gave you for the stitches."
Sam nodded and left to get the doctor.
Dean looked around the room and his sight landed on the dusty curtains. There was no light peeking through the cracks and he knew that night had fallen. He'd slept for almost a day at his calculation, but he couldn't be sure. For sleeping for so long he wasn't sure how he could feel this exhausted.
Joshua came into the room.
"You look terrible," Dean mumbled as he took a good look at the physician. There were dark bruise coloured bags under his eyes and he looked like he hadn't shaved for days.
"Said the pale man," Joshua quipped. "Sam told me you were awake. It's taking all of Jim's skills to keep him away."
"Jim's one of the few Sam has a hard time getting his way with," Dean said with a slight grin.
Joshua pulled back the sheets covering Dean and he shivered slightly as the cool air hit his skin. "Easy now," Joshua said softly.
Dean looked down and blanched slightly. His chest that was already covered with stitches now had additional staples closing a section of skin near his bellybutton.
"I look like a freak," Dean whispered.
"Nah," Joshua said. "You don't look like a freak. Think about it Dean when you get older you'll get to tell the ladies of your heroic deeds to get those scars. You've got quite some time to figure out what those stories could entail."
"Speaking from experience?" Dean asked looking away from the examination of his chest.
"Hell yeah," Joshua said with a smile. "How do you think I got my wife?"
Dean frowned. "Wife?"
"She's visiting her Mom in Seattle," Joshua said. "Which is a good thing cause I'm not sure how I would explain all this. But on any other occasion I think you'd like her."
Dean smiled. "I'm sure I would have charmed the pants off her."
"Or Sammy would have," Joshua said.
Dean looked up at him. "Yeah he would have," he said softly.
Joshua didn't comment, just continued on his exam probing several areas on Dean's chest.
"Joshua?" Dean asked quietly looking at the IV needle stuck in his hand.
"Yeah," Joshua said.
"When can I see Dad?" Dean asked.
"Not for a while. I may be able to get Sam in, but it all depends on how well his face heals. The last thing I want is for you two to be taken into protective custody by the state. Your father wouldn't do well with that," Joshua said as he pulled down Dean's shirt. "Look, truth be told you boys more than likely won't be seeing your father until he's released from the hospital. That will be at least a week, even though I hear that even though he's barely conscious he's the worst patient in the entire hospital."
Dean smiled slightly. "That sounds like Dad," he said affectionately.
"Yeah well he may get kicked out before he's entirely healed. In which case you two will be seeing him sooner," Joshua said pulling up the blanket around his patient.
Dean paled slightly.
"What is it?" Joshua asked.
"Dad's gonna be mad," he said softly. "I screwed up."
Joshua shook his head. "Dean I don't know if you get this or not so listen up. If you hadn't brought your family here Sammy would be an orphan today. You did good kid."
"It doesn't feel like it," Dean said looking away. "I missed. I never miss. Dad trusts that I won't miss."
"You think your Dad expects you to be perfect?" Joshua asked the surprise clear in his voice.
Dean shook his head once. "No. I need to be perfect so Dad can depend on me. I have his back and Sammy's now too. If they can't trust me to protect them on a hunt then I'm no good to them."
"We do trust you Dean," Sam said from the doorway with Pastor Jim standing just behind him.
"You shouldn't Sammy," Dean whispered not able to look at his younger brother. He felt like he'd let everyone down, like his world was crumbling. His entire family had almost died because he'd screwed up. This entire mess was his fault.
"Dean you need to listen to me. Thinking like this will not help you," Joshua said.
"Dean?" Sam said from the side of his bed.
"Get out of here. All of you just leave me alone," Dean said softly.
"No Dean. I don't wanna leave you," Sam said.
"Get out of here Sammy! All of you just leave me alone!" Dean yelled as he turned to look at all of them.
Jim and Joshua stepped back slightly but Sam didn't move.
"No," Sam said simply. "This isn't like you."
"Damnit Sam!" Dean yelled.
Sam flinched but didn't leave. He walked around to the other side of the bed and got up on it.
"I don't want to leave you Dean," he said simply. "You wouldn't leave me. You're just not feeling like yourself. I'll bet you feel really sad like everything is your fault. But it's not your fault."
"I'm not good for you Sam. I'll screw up and you'll get hurt again," Dean said softly.
Sam looked thoughtful for a moment. "Maybe. But not on purpose. You've always protected me and tried to protect Dad."
"Yeah," Dean said softly looking away.
"Dean remember our training? The signs of concussion? Wasn't feeling sad or feeling depressed one of the signs? Cause you had lots of other ones," Sam said.
"Yeah it is," Dean said suddenly fascinated with the blanket that covered him.
"Can I stay with you for a little while?" Sam asked.
"No. Sam his wounds aren't healed enough," Joshua started to say but the hand on his shoulder made him stop.
Jim shook his head at the man knowing how much the two brothers needed each other at the moment. Dean had already helped put Sam back together, now it was Dean's turn to be healed.
"If you want to Sam," Dean said softly.
"I want to," Sam said and laid down beside his brother on top of the sheets. He gently rested a hand over his brother's upper chest away from most of the stitches and staples. "It's going to be ok Dean."
Dean slowly brought his hand up and covered his brother's arm as a few tears began to slip down his cheeks.
Jim and Joshua quietly left the room.
A week later Sam was left with a few dark bruises on his face and the wounds were healing fast on his chest. A lingering issue was the nightmares he was suffering about Dean and his Dad being dead. The only one who could calm him was his older brother. Some mornings in the grey dawn the only way Dean could get through to his little brother was to hold his small hand to his chest. On days that Sam had slept the night through Joshua would take him to the animal shelter for an hour or so a day and help out. Dean was healing well but had only been given the green light to get out of bed for a day or two. Of course the teen took that to mean walk around the farm house, and when Joshua and Sam had gone to the clinic, slowly explore the farm. Jim had returned to his flock in time for Sunday service.
On this particular day Joshua had not let Sam accompany him to work leaving him in the house with his older brother.
"Dean?" Sam asked as he surfed the TV.
"What Sam," Dean asked as he leafed through his father's journal trying to decipher the handwriting.
"Do you think we could go see Dad today?" Sam asked.
"I don't think so. We don't look so good Sammy. We gotta be careful," Dean said.
"Social Services," Sam mumbled.
"We had that scare a couple of months back, remember?" Dean asked.
"I don't want to be taken away Dean," Sam said as he dropped the remote.
Dean sighed. It had been a bad day for Sam. One wrong word would set him off, luckily there hadn't been any tears yet. "You won't be Sam, but taking us to the hospital looking like we've had the crap kicked out of us doesn't look good."
Both boys looked over as the front door opened and Dean closed up the journal.
"Guys I got someone here who wants to say hello," Joshua called out.
"Dad?" Sam said and rushed over to the door happily wrapping his arms around his Dad.
Dean followed and leaned against the wall watching his brother with his Dad. His father was real pale and had dark bags under his eyes. Dean couldn't see any injuries marring his face and he was relieved.
"Hey there Sammy," John said softly wrapping his arms around his son. "How you feeling?"
"Better now that you're here," Sam said. "We wanted to come and see you but."
"I know. Joshua wouldn't allow it," John said pulling away as he smiled down on Sam's beaming face. He cupped the youngster's face with the palm of his hand.
Suddenly Dean felt like the walls were closing in on him and he couldn't breathe. Without making a sound he turned and walked down the hallway that led to the back door. Now that Dad and Joshua were back his little brother was in far more capable hands than with him. He closed the door behind him almost silently and started heading into the fields.
Dean came across the small area he'd found earlier. The area was surrounded by trees, a small creek ran through the grassy area and there was a rock perfect for sitting on and contemplating. He sat down and wondered a bit at his own actions. Every bit of his fibre had missed his father, wanting to blow off Joshua and go see him anyway. Seeing him in the entry way of the house happily holding his brother made him feel relieved that his father was ok. The sensation quickly left as he was filled with fear and doubt making him flee the comfortable farm house.
He glanced down at the water as it flowed over the rocks and some weeds as it continued on it's way. This was a bad idea, the ache in his chest had increased the farther he'd gone from the house and he'd known he wasn't up for a fast walk down here. The last time he'd walked down here it had taken him twenty minutes, this time he'd made it down here in just a few minutes. He was sweating and felt exhausted.
"God what am I doing," Dean mumbled to himself as he dropped his head into his hands.
"If you wanted God's help you should have asked that question when Jim was here," a voice said from behind Dean.
Dean jumped up off the rock and stumbled back slightly. "Joshua?"
The doctor nodded. "In the flesh."
Dean wrapped an arm protectively around his chest. "Are you trying to give me a heart attack?"
"No," Joshua said. "I've spent far too much time putting you back together to do that. Sit down Dean."
Dean re-took his seat on the rock facing him. "I couldn't stay," Dean said shrugging slightly.
"I know and I don't need an explanation for your actions. Save that for Sammy and your Dad," Joshua said softly. "Dean your chest."
"Is fine," Dean said cutting the man off.
"I know you think it is but you're not up for a sprint. I don't care how tough you think you are, your body has not healed enough to do more than wander around the house," Joshua said.
Dean looked away. "I just… I can't face him."
"You're going to have to at some point," Joshua said. "Dean the entire time that he's been conscious in the hospital he's been asking after his boys."
Dean knew his father was worried about them just as much as he'd been worrying about his Dad and over Sammy. It wasn't the fact that he didn't want to see his Dad, he just didn't know how he was going to explain himself.
"Dean we need to go back. I need to change your bandages this afternoon. And I think we both know what kind of a day this has been for Sam. You taking off could upset him," Joshua said.
"He's fine. He's got Dad back," Dean said. "He won't even know I'm gone."
"Actually it was the panic on his face when he realized you were gone that sent me out to search for you," Joshua said.
Dean looked up sharply. "What? Damnit! Joshua when is this going to get better!" Dean shouted at him.
Joshua looked at him. "Dean I don't have an answer for that and you know it. Concussions have to run their course and yours is no different," he said gently.
Dean looked away and tried to reign in his temper. "This sucks."
"I know," Joshua said. "And watch your language."
"Sorry," Dean said as he took a deep breath. "Lets go back."
"Slowly," Joshua cautioned.
"But Sammy," Dean countered.
"Is fine. He's with your Dad. Lets just concentrate on getting back to the house alright?" Joshua said.
"Fine," Dean muttered.
They slowly walked through a couple of small pastures that used to be used for boarding horses as they made their way up to the house. Dean stopped as they got to the porch steps.
"I can't," he said shaking his head and took a slight step back. "I can't go in there."
Joshua turned and saw the colour fade from the teen's face. His breathing was increasing and his hands were shaking.
"Easy Dean. You don't have to go in. Just come up the steps and sit up on the porch. We've got all the time in the world here," Joshua said.
Dean nodded taking one step up at a time and sat at the top of the stairs. By time he got there he was almost hyperventilating.
"Put your head down," Joshua said as he sat beside Dean. "Try to take some slow easy breaths."
Dean did as he was told and in a few minutes his breathing returned to normal. "This isn't rational. I shouldn't be acting this way," Dean said frustration clear in his voice.
"It'll get better Dean. Really. You just need to have some patience, but from what I've heard it's not exactly your strong point," Joshua said.
"Yeah," Dean said as he slowly sat back up and leaned against the railing.
"Will you be ok if I go in? I need to check on your Dad. But it can wait for a few more minutes," Joshua said.
"Go. I'll be fine. Really," Dean said waiving off Joshua's concern.
"All right," Joshua said sounding unconvinced.
Dean sat there for quite some time in the warm afternoon sun. He enjoyed the gentle breeze as it cooled him while he sat there contemplating what went wrong on the hunt and how he'd reacted to his father's presence. He closed his eyes as another gentle cooling breeze blew past him and ruffled his hair. There was movement behind him, but he didn't open his eyes. He was sure it was Joshua coming to check on him.
"Mind if I sit down?" a deep almost hoarse voice asked.
Dean's eyes bolted open and he saw his father standing before him. "Dad?" he whispered as his heart began to hammer in his chest.
"If this is a bad time," John said.
"No it's fine," Dean said quietly looking away from his Dad as he tried to calm himself.
John slowly sat beside his son hissing at the lingering pain in his body. Neither Winchester spoke as they sat there in the enjoying the warmth of the day.
"Dean are you all right son?" John asked.
"I'm fine," Dean answered immediately. "How are you?"
John looked at him. "Don't give me the answer you think I want to hear. How are you feeling, and I want the truth."
Dean started to shake slightly and he wrapped his arms around his chest to hide it. "I'm sore, tired, and irrational. You know the normal traits for me," Dean said.
"Yeah but only on your good days," John teased gently then sobered. "Look Dean Joshua filled me in on some stuff, but I really don't know what happened out there. All I remember is being attacked by a bear and waking up two days later in a hospital."
"I'm sorry," Dean whispered.
John's forehead furrowed. "For what?"
"My fault," Dean said and wished that he would stop shaking. "I missed."
"We all miss, son. It happens to the best of us at the worst times," John said.
"No. Not to me. Not when it comes down to putting you and Sammy at risk," Dean said his breathing speeding up slightly. He didn't feel like he had any control, like everything was wrong, like he'd messed everything up so bad nothing could ever be good again.
"Dean you're not perfect. I don't expect that from you," John started.
"I expect it from me," Dean yelled out, stood up suddenly and stepped back. "I expect it. I need to be perfect so you and Sam don't get hurt. It's my job to protect you out there."
Dean stopped as he couldn't get enough breath to continue. He reached out holding onto the railing to stay upright.
John struggled his feet and moved closer to his son.
"No don't!" Dean pleaded. It was taking everything in him not to lose it.
John stepped forward and wrapped his arm around his oldest son.
Dean froze as he felt his father pull him into an embrace. He would not lose it, he would keep it together. He needed to be strong for Sam for his Dad. He would not fall apart he commanded himself.
Dean's body betrayed him as he began to shake almost violently.
"It's ok son," John said softly as he wrapped his other arm around his oldest son.
Dean reached around and held onto his father as if he were a lifeline. "No it's not. Hunters don't cry."
John sighed. "True. But hunters don't usually have good medical reasons for doing so. I know about your concussion Dean. It's a little known fact that hunters can cry if they have concussions."
Dean heard the words and the last of the barriers crumbled. A sob wrenched free of his chest. He felt hot tears pool and fall down his cheeks soaking his Dad's shirt.
"It's ok son," John said as he rubbed his back.
Dean felt exhausted as the tears ended but he couldn't let go of his Dad. His eyes were heavy and he felt himself beginning to fall asleep safe within his Dad's embrace.
"Sorry kiddo but I can't carry you in. Come on," John said softly.
Dean felt them moving, one of his Dad's arms still around him and his legs were moving but he didn't care where he was going. He kept his eyes closed and his head against his chest as his father steered him where he wanted them to go. He was safe, and as the word reverberated through his head he felt an overwhelming relief.
"John let me help," Joshua said. "Your stitches."
"No. I've got him," John said.
They walked a few more steps and then stopped.
"We need to sit down son," John said softly. "Can you do that?"
Dean opened his eyes and realized they had walked into the living room. He let go of his father and sat on the couch leaning slightly forward. Closing his eyes again he wished his Dad had steered him back into his room so he could sleep.
"Dean?" Sam asked.
Dean heard his brother but couldn't respond. He felt exhausted and that trying to form words was far beyond his capability right now. The couch shifted and he felt his father sit beside him. A moment later an arm was wrapped around his shoulders and guided him to lean back into it.
"Dad?" Sam said.
"He's ok Sam. Dean's just exhausted he'll be ok. Why don't you sit beside me here," John said.
"He looked after me when you were gone," Sam said. "I wasn't very good Dad."
"That's not what I heard Sam," John said.
Dean felt the couch shift again farther down and knew his brother was sitting next to his Dad. What did he mean he wasn't good, he was hurt and concussed. He was understandably upset. Moving his head slightly he opened his eyes and looked from his Dad to his brother.
"You coming back to us?" John asked.
All Dean wanted to do was sleep but he could see the red colour to his brother's eyes that hadn't been there earlier. "You were good Sam," Dean said and he felt like it took all his energy to utter the four words.
His eyes closed as he tried to shift away from his Dad, but gave up when his father pulled him closer. "Didn't protect you enough," he said sleepily as he leaned against his father.
"Sleep Dean. We'll talk about this later," John said softly.
Dean woke early the next morning in bed with his brother curled up beside him. The past few mornings, before he let himself remember what had happened, he would feel calm, relaxed and rested. Then he would make himself remember why they were here in this house and why he was in so much pain.
Gently he moved away from his brother relieved that he didn't wake him. He got out of bed, wincing slightly at the soreness in his chest and the stiffness in his joints. Moving into the kitchen he started the first pot of coffee for the day.
He sat there lost in his thoughts as he listened to the coffee maker crackling and popping as it brewed the coffee.
"So how'd you sleep?" John asked as he came into the kitchen.
"Fine," Dean answered. "How are you feeling?"
"Like a man who's been mauled by a bear," John replied softly.
Dean nodded. "I know the feeling," he said softly.
John pulled out a chair and sat across from his son. "Dean we need to talk about this."
"No we don't," Dean said softly and realized that the coffee maker had stopped making noises. He got up and poured two cups of coffee. Putting one across from his father he sat down and took a sip from his own mug.
"Yes son we do," he said nodding his thanks for the coffee then took a sip.
"Why. We both know I'm not in control because of this damn concussion," Dean started.
"Language boy," John said sharply.
Dean sighed. "I hate not being in control," he said softly.
"I know you don't son," John said.
"It's not the concussion that upsets me the most," Dean said not wanting to talk about this, but wanting to get it out of the way.
"So what does?" John asked.
"I let you and Sam get hurt," Dean said as he starred into his coffee.
"Dean I don't believe that for one second, and if I did there's not a chance in hell that I'd allow you to go out on hunts," John said. "No one expects you to be perfect out there."
Dean shook his head. "I do."
"Fine. You want the truth then that's how this mess happened," John said.
Dean's head shot up and pain filled eyes met his father's steady gaze.
"You have one deadly aim. The shots don't need to be perfect Dean and Sam told me that your weapon jammed. I know it's not from lack of cleaning you keep all your weapons in very good condition," John said. "Even if your weapon had fired it would have gone to hell. But you also over compensated, took too long to aim and that pause was enough for the animal to get the drop on you."
John paused, took a sip of his coffee and sighed heavily. "We were not prepared for what was out there. We're not supposed to have berserkers out here, there's never been a record of one anywhere in North America. It's why I didn't believe you. If you need to lay blame on anyone it should be on me for not believing you."
"It was the logical conclusion that it wasn't berserkers though Dad. The logical conclusion was that it was one or more werewolves due to the lunar cycle. Werewolves made much more sense," Dean said defending his father. "The fact remains that I caused all of this."
"Dean you're going to have to learn to live with it or learn to let it go. Mistakes happen in the field. If you continue to carry this guilt around with you it will just make problems the next time out. You'll second guess the shot and maybe not even make it," John said softly shaking his head slightly. "Your brother and I do not blame you. You need to find the way to forgive yourself."
"Forgive myself? That's the answer?" Dean said incredulously.
"You don't need it from Sammy or myself. As far as we're concerned you were not at fault so there's nothing to forgive. You're the one carrying the world on your shoulders. Dig deep Dean cause until you do there will be no more hunting for you. Sam and I will go," John said.
"You and," Dean said shaking his head. "Sam wasn't ready in the first place and he saved both of our asses!"
"Language boy. Don't make me tell you again," John growled.
Dean stood up abruptly enough for the chair to fall back. "You care about my language but you don't care if Sam gets hurt in the field?" he shouted.
"Don't you take that tone with me. And don't you dare think for a moment that I don't care what happens to the both of you," John yelled as he gripped the corners of the table and stood up. "You and your brother are all I have!"
Dean stood there breathing heavy looking deep into his father's angry eyes and he couldn't bring himself to look away. He deserved this, his anger, his loathing.
"Dean sit down," John said gruffly.
Dean stood there starring at his father as he began to shake. Suddenly he doubled over and fell to his knees barely able to breathe through the pain in his chest. He felt a hand on his back and tried to wrench away.
"Take it easy son," John said.
"No," Dean whispered. "I can't."
"Yes you can. Take slow deep breaths," John instructed.
Dean knelt there on the cold floor trying to regain his breath.
"Dean!" Sam shouted.
He felt his brother's hand on his back and his head came up sharply. "Sam?" he wheezed out. Seeing the bruising on his brother's face he began to hyperventilate.
"Dean slow deep breaths buddy. You can do it," John instructed sternly. "You need to calm down son."
"It's ok Dean," Sam said quietly to him. "Just take it slow. I know you feel bad but it will get better."
Dean knew Sam was talking about his concussion, but he didn't know what he was really upset about.
"No," Dean wheezed out. "It won't."
"Sure it will," Sam said.
"Stop talking Dean and just concentrate on slow deep breaths," John said.
"No. You don't understand," Dean wheezed and he swore he started to see spots dance in his vision.
"Sam get Joshua in here," John ordered. "Now Sam before he passes out."
"No Sammy," Dean whispered.
"He'll be back Dean. Come on buddy, don't pass out on me here. John shifted so he was sitting on the floor with his back to the wall and pulled Dean beside him. "Breathe with me."
Dean leaned his head back on his father's chest and did his best to match his breathing to his father's. By the time Sam returned with Joshua Dean's breathing had almost returned to normal.
"Well that was a fabulous wake up call," Joshua said as he knelt down beside them on the floor.
Dean just sat there and let him check his pulse, his pupils and his chest wounds.
"Well your pulse is up, no surprise there. If you keep this up I will have to re-do some stitching but for now it looks like it's holding. No more coffee for you," Joshua said then looked up at John. "Either of you."
Dean rolled his head slightly towards his father's chest.
"The coffee's not the problem," Sam said from where he was standing just behind Joshua.
"What is Sammy?" John asked.
"Tell them Dean," Sam said quietly.
Dean closed his eyes. "I can't."
"Somebody better tell us," John said.
Dean opened his eyes. "I failed. I lost sight of Sam. He was injured because I wasn't fast enough or strong enough. He was alone on a hunt," Dean whispered.
"Dean what are you talking about?" John asked.
"The second berserker knocked me out. I didn't regain consciousness until later. My gun was jammed from when I was thrown. Yours fell apart from the bear attack. Sam had the only working weapon. I ordered him to fire and he did," Dean said. "Then everything went black."
"There were three all together," Sam said quietly. "After I killed the second one the third one came out of the bushes right behind Dean. He stomped on his chest then threw him against a tree. I couldn't fire cause I was afraid I'd hit Dean so I ran hoping it would follow me and then I could get a better shot."
"Good thinking Sammy," John said. "Then what happened?"
"It didn't follow me. It stayed with Dean. It pawed at him, throwing him around like he was a toy. He screamed even though I could've sworn he wasn't awake. I threw some rocks at it and it finally came after me. I lured it far enough away so I could turn and fire," Sam said and looked down. "I wasn't fast enough and it hit me from behind. I fell onto a fallen tree."
"Well that explains the bruised eyes," Joshua said. "Not to mention the concussion."
"Then what happened Sammy," Dean asked softly looking directly at his brother.
"I turned and fired. Direct hit to the heart. It morphed into a man. Dad we - we killed a family. There was a Mom a Dad and a Daughter," Sam said quietly.
"Not human Sammy," Dean said. "We don't kill humans. Just demons and that includes shape shifting evil sons of bitches."
"Your brother's right Sam. You did the right thing here. You saved us," John said.
"What happened next?" Joshua asked.
"My vision was changing. I couldn't focus on anything and my head hurt so bad I thought it would fall off," Sam said. "I stumbled my way back to where I thought Dad and Dean were but I couldn't find them. I started to panic and I threw up. I found Dean only because I fell over him."
"You did good Sammy. I'm proud of you," John said.
Dean closed his eyes.
"How did you get us here?" John asked.
"Dean. He woke up and I couldn't stop crying. He didn't look so good, but he got up and we went to where you were. You were on the ground unconscious," Sam said quietly. "Shortly after that I couldn't see anything at all."
"I half dragged half carried you out. Sam grabbed onto the back of my jacket all the way out. I didn't know he was doing that cause he couldn't see. I didn't know he was blind until we got here," Dean said.
"I don't know how your boy did it with all his internal injuries and dislocated shoulder. He even carried Sam in the house that night," Joshua said. "Those are quite the set of boys you have there John."
"Dean your shirt," Sam said.
"It's fine Sammy," Dean said not opening his eyes.
"Well maybe I'll be redoing some stitching today after all," Joshua said as he lifted up Dean's shirt. There was a small leak where two staples were on Dean's chest. "Come on Dean. Back to the bedroom so I can re-stitch you."
"It's fine Joshua. Leave it," Dean said.
"It's not fine son. It needs to be fixed. Let Joshua do what he does best," John said.
Dean sighed. "Just want to sleep," he said softly.
"Well that's good cause this is gonna hurt like a son of a bitch," Joshua said.
"That's really going to make him move," John said.
Sam knelt beside his brother. "Let Joshua sew you up. I'll stay with you," he said softly.
"Kay Sammy," Dean said and let his brother help him up.
Dean allowed his brother to lead him into the bedroom. He closed his eyes as soon as his head hit the pillow. There was a cool sensation on his chest and a small pinching sensation.
"Can you feel this Dean?" Joshua asked as he touched around the damaged area.
"No," Dean said. He felt the bed dip slightly and thought his brother was sitting beside him. "Sammy you don't need to see this."
"He won't," John said as he placed a hand on Dean's shoulder. "He's watching the rest of Indiana Jones on Joshua's tape player."
"Good. He loves that movie," Dean said quietly.
"Yeah well he's not too happy about having to stay out there," John said. "He wants to be in here with us."
"I'm going to start. Let me know if you feel anything," Joshua said.
The room was quiet while Joshua went to work. After a few minutes Dean opened his eyes and looked at his Dad.
"You really don't blame me?" Dean asked softly.
"No Dean I don't. I think you and Sammy did the best you could under the circumstances. We all got out alive thanks to you two," John said softly.
"We should have gotten out alive and unscathed," Dean said looking away.
"Don't start that. There is no blame to be had, and none to be taken. You did the best you could and that's the end of it," John said. "Is that understood?"
"Yes sir," Dean said and winced.
"Stop Joshua. He can feel the stitches," John said.
"Why didn't you say so Dean? It's not like I'm low on this stuff," Joshua said as he grabbed the syringe and added more anaesthetic to the area.
Ten minutes later Dean had been stitched up and a dressing had been applied to his wounds. He was lying on his bed after being ordered not to leave it by his Dad so the stitches could take hold properly. Boredom did not begin to cover what he was feeling at the moment.
"Dean?" Sammy asked from the doorway.
"Yeah?" Dean said as he turned and looked at him.
"My head kinda hurts and Dad said I should lay down. But I don't want to sleep," Sam said.
"Well bring me your book and I'll read you some of it," Dean offered.
"Really?" Sam said.
"Yeah really," Dean said and shifted himself up to a semi-sitting position. He'd gotten the copy of the book for Sam from a second hand store a couple of months back and the boy had happily read through it a couple of times. When he'd had the flu last month he'd read a couple of chapters to him. It was the only way he could keep him in bed. Dean smiled slightly, what was good for the goose was good for the gander he could hear his father say in his head and somehow he knew his father was behind this to keep him in bed.
Sam hurried away excitedly and returned a moment later with a copy of Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring. "You do the best voice of Gandalf," Sam said beaming up at him as he handed the book to his big brother.
"Where did you end off?" Dean asked.
"I finished it just before we left to hunt the werew… berserker," Sam said.
"The beginning it is," Dean said opening the dog eared book.
Sam got onto the bed and started towards his brother but stopped.
"Sam what's wrong?" Dean asked.
"I don't to hurt your chest," Sam said quietly as he started to back off the bed.
"You won't hurt me Sammy. Get over here," Dean said.
"But," Sam said.
"No buts. Now get over here so I can do the Gandalf voice," Dean said.
Sam moved over to him and settled beside him as Dean wrapped his arm around his little brother.
Dean cleared his throat and began to read.
Over the next several weeks the Winchesters stayed on Joshua's farm recovering. The boys routinely went to work with Joshua to work with the animals at the shelter.
One morning the boys were up and ready to go to work with Joshua. They went into the kitchen for breakfast and found their Dad was sitting at the table reading the paper and drinking coffee. Their bags were packed and sitting by the door.
"Grab some breakfast and then we're leaving," John said.
"But the animals," Sam said.
"Will be fine under Joshua's care. We have lives to get back to and Joshua said we were healed enough to go home," John said.
Dean nodded thinking that this day would've come sooner than it had. But found that he didn't want to leave. "You want toast or cereal Sammy," Dean asked.
Sam looked up at his brother with a pained look on his face.
Dean looked down at him and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Dad's right Sam. This isn't our life, we have school to get back to and other hunts to go on. We need to let Joshua get back to his life."
Sam nodded. "Toast," he said quietly as he looked away.
"Toast it is. Dad you want some?" Dean asked.
"No. Hurry up, I want to try to make it home by this evening," John said.
"But that's a twelve hour drive," Dean said.
"We will be home by this evening," John said.
"Yes sir," Dean said and hurried to make breakfast for him and his brother.
"I'm going to load up the car. Be ready in ten," John said as he folded up the paper and left the kitchen.
Joshua came into the kitchen as the boys were finishing up their breakfast.
"So I hear you're going home today," Joshua said as he poured himself a cup of coffee.
"Yeah," Dean said taking the plates with crumbs and putting them into the sink.
"Well the animals will miss you guys," Joshua said. "Thanks for all your help with them."
"It's us that should be thanking you for all your help," Dean said as he leaned up against the sink.
"You're welcome," Joshua said smiling slightly.
"You'll be happy to get your house back," Dean said.
"Yeah well I can't say it hasn't been an adventure," Joshua said.
"Let it not be said that the Winchesters aren't a fun bunch," Dean quipped.
"I'm not sure that fun's the word," Joshua said.
"Fun isn't the word," Sam said. "I'm not sure what the actual word is."
"You I'm gonna miss Sammy," Joshua said. "Your brother I'm not so sure."
"You're breakin my heart dude," Dean said.
A horn sounded outside and three heads turned to look at the open front door.
"Ah I believe that's for us," Dean said. "Come on Sammy get your coat."
Sam slowly left the room.
"Dean if you guys ever need anything," Joshua offered.
"You sure you want to offer that up again after what we've put you through?" Dean asked.
"In a second," Joshua said seriously.
Dean nodded. "I appreciate that, but I hope I never have to take you up on that offer. Ever. Maybe we could just drop in one day to say hello."
"I'd like that," Joshua said.
Dean stepped forward to shake the man's hand. Joshua shook his head and pulled Dean into a quick hug.
Joshua pulled back. "It won't be the same around here without you guys."
"Yeah well not everyone is lucky enough to get the Winchester experience," Dean said.
"Dean we gotta go. Dad's getting mad," Sam said hurrying into the room stopping in front of their friend. "Thank you Joshua."
"No problem Sammy. Any time," Joshua said pulling the youngest Winchester into a hug. "Come back and visit sometime, ok?"
"Ok," Sam said.
The horn sounded again and the boys hurried out of the house. They got into the Impala and their Dad drove away from the farm house. He turned onto the main road and Dean looked at his father suspiciously.
"Dad isn't home the other way?" Dean asked.
"Slight detour. There's a haunting just a couple of towns away that we can take care of today," John said.
"A haunting?" Dean repeated.
"A simple salt and burn that Sammy could handle in his sleep," John said.
Dean nodded and glanced at his brother in the back seat. He was completely oblivious to the conversation or the direction they were going in. All Dean could see was the cover to The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring.
As the teen straightened and looked out the window at the scenery whizzing by he realized for the first time since taking on the berserkers that things felt right. That this is what they were supposed to be doing, together, as a family. He shuddered at the thought that something would go wrong on a hunt again and the possibility of losing one of them. But Dean knew deep in his heart that this was his destiny. He was a hunter, a damn fine hunter and he would always be there to back up his family.