Title: Stuck Together

Author: BlackWingedbird

Betas: Carikube and Amy

Warnings: blood

Standard Dis

Author's Notes: Major thanks to both my betas. You girls rock. I had fun with this story- I hope you all enjoy is as much I as do!


"Sam! Down!"

Dean watched as Sam jerked in response and dropped to the floor, narrowly avoiding a pair of scissors through his temple. Relief sparked in his chest as he returned his attention back to the task at hand- staying alive. He ducked behind the couch just as a mirror flashed over his head and shattered against the wall, showering him with musical silver shards.

"So what's the plan?" Sam shouted over the constant bang of kitchen cabinets.

Dean shook his head and glass tinkled to the floor. "I don't know, Sam!" Dean growled. "Why don't you figure something out?"

Sam hooked his foot around the leg of the coffee table and pulled it towards him, then pushed it to its side, creating a fairly protective barricade. "We need to place the last bag in the north corner!"

"Thank you, Captain Obvious," Dean grumbled to himself. He licked the corner of his mouth and tasted blood. "Son of a bitch," he cursed, using the back of his hand to wipe away the trail of wetness.

"Dean?"

"I'm thinking!"

"Well think faster!"

Dean rolled his eyes. He scooted forwards, risking a glance around the corner of the couch. The leather pouch lay unprotected in the middle of the living room, inexplicably weighted despite the paranormal winds that swirled around the room. A leather-bound book came hurtling at him and Dean jumped back, wincing as the book hit the floor with enough force to splinter the polished wood.

The pouch wasn't that far…

"I'll flip you for it," Dean shouted. "Heads, I go and tails, you go."

"What?"

A bottle of red wine exploded against the wall over Sam's head. The crimson stain glittered in the moonlight as the liquid slid down the wall. "You okay?" Dean called.

Sam peered over the top of the overturned coffee table, his hair flattened to his head and his shirt clinging to his body. "Cover me!"

"Wait- what?"

Sam leapt over the coffee table and Dean scrambled to his feet. "Shit! Sam- get back here!"

But Sam surged forward, sidestepping an end table as it slid across the floor with determination. A wave of foreboding came over Dean as he watched Sam continue on, blatantly ignoring direct orders. Who raised this kid, anyway? Didn't he know Dean was just kidding about the whole 'flip-a-coin' thing?

Something screeched as it flew through the air and Dean whirled, his ear drum throbbing. A mound of tan fur- the resident Persian cat- hit the wall with a yowl, all four feet out to the sides and its tail pointing to the floor. It remained where it was, sixteen claws permanently embedded in the drywall.

Well that was a new one.

Dean turned back around, looking for Sam. Just as Sam bent down to pick up the pouch, a cast iron horse statue shattered the fifty-gallon aquarium next to the once boast-worthy entertainment center. A tidal wave of water, tropical fish, and seaweed gushed to the floor, quickly spreading across the large area rug. Something sizzled and zapped, and then a hungry orange flame sprouted from the electrical outlet behind one of the large floor speakers.

Not good.

The lacy body of a lion fish flopped about in front of Dean's left foot. "Sam! Move your ass, things are getting hot!"

Hopping over a small porcelain scuba diver, Sam made his way to the hole in the opposite wall. It seemed to be staring at them, mocking them for their failed previous attempts to banish the resident spirit. Dean started after Sam, raising his arm just as a book of sheet music flew at his head. Seconds later, the piano itself slid across the room.

Dean sprung forward, stumbling as a wheel caught his heel. "Sam… hurry!" A very large candle hurled past, denting the drywall next to the screeching cat.

Sam was three feet from the hole when Dean saw it. His vision was distorted by the flickering lights and billowing drapes, but there it was: a long, thin, iron fireplace poker rising slowly from the hearthside stand like a viper preparing to strike. A stray pillow went unnoticed as it struck his leg.

"Sam! Heads up!" Dean shouted, already pushing into the hurricane-like winds.

In the corner, the fire grew brighter, filling the room with warm orange light. The flames scrambled up the wall, greedily devouring the brittle flowery wallpaper. Papers and debris fluttered as they circled the room- some of them catching on fire and turning into unpredictable fireballs. Dean dodged a burning TV Guide, momentarily losing his bearings.

When he stood up again, the poker was level and steady, aimed directly at the small of Sam's back.

There was no thought involved- there hadn't been since Sam was placed in his arms all those years ago. Dean lunged, screaming Sam's name, just as the fire poker cut through the air with the speed of an arrow. Startled, Sam spun just as he dropped the pouch into the hole in the wall.

He was a fraction of a second too late.

Dean felt a localized fire erupt in his shoulder, driving the breath from his lungs. He froze, knowing exactly what had happened and hardly believing it. Slowly, his lifted his gaze to Sam.

Only Sam's eyes were just as just as shocked, just as numb. In the silence of the room, they stood absolutely still, staring at each other in disbelief. Slowly, Sam's eyes fell, lids lowering, and he stared at the inches of space between them.

Barely breathing, Dean let his own gaze fall.

The iron rod protruded from the front of Dean's shoulder, slick with thick blood, and continued into Sam's chest.

"Dean?"

He looked into Sam's eyes, which were wet and sparkling from the flames beside them. "It's okay," he said slowly, forcing himself to believe it. "Are you okay?"

"Uh…" Sam breathed out slowly and blinked. A single diamond fell from the corner of his eye but his voice was steady. "Yeah, I… I'm okay. You?"

Dean paused a moment, allowing his brain to register his physical being. His shoulder burned, ached. Fear and pain paralyzed his chest, his arm, his neck. He was petrified. The fire roared on next to him, the cat was slowly descending the wall, and one by one, the fish littering the floor stopped flopping. But through it all, Dean was stuck on pause, afraid to breathe for the pain it would cause. "I'm… stuck," he whispered. "On you."

One second passed before Sam huffed breathlessly and immediately groaned. "Ow. Don't do that."

Despite himself, Dean smiled. "Sorry."

Sam sobered, glancing back down at the exposed length of poker. "So, uh… what are we going to do? You know, about… this?"

Dean carefully, slowly, drew in a breath. He glanced beside them- the fire was sprawling over half the living room wall and the temperature was rising. He had to get them out of here. "We're going to move," he said, assessing the safest pathway to the door. His cell phone was in his back pocket but they could not afford to stay here while he called for help. "We've got to get outside and away from the fire, and then we'll call for help."

"Uh… how do we do that?"

Dean looked at Sam's chest. It bled slowly, the blood mixing with red wine around the point of entry. This sure as shit was serious, but they were both still standing, still conscious, still lucid.

They just needed a game plan.

"Okay," Dean said. "We're going to move, very slowly, in that direction."

"What about the stairs?"

"Stairs?"

Sam's eyes grew large. "Yeah, you know those things you had to climb to get through the front door?"

"Shit."

"Yeah."

"Shit! How could I forget that?"

Sam eyed the fire warily. "How bout we just deal with it when we get there, okay?"

"Yeah. Yeah, okay." Dean looked at Sam. "So how do you wanna do this?"

Sam glanced at the door. "Okay, right foot first. Slow and steady."

Dean nodded. "Ready?"

"Ready."

Their feet moved simultaneously- in opposite directions. The rod jarred and Dean whimpered as iron scraped against bone and tore muscle. "Stop- stop!" he panted, reaching out to steady himself. "Shit- I thought you said right foot first!"

Sam's head was lowered, his bottom lip caught firmly between his teeth. "MY right!" he snapped, his face significantly drained of color now.

"Screw your right!" Dean snapped, fighting back his own pain. "Your right sucks!"

"Dean!" Sam interrupted, "We have to get out of here! On the count of three, we move towards the door, okay?"

"Yeah, got it."

"Okay. One, two, three."

Dean extended his left leg while Sam matched his movements perfectly. Slowly, smoothly, they took one step away from the fire in perfect synchronization. The rod remained stable between them, barely causing a twinge of additional pain.

"Wow," Dean breathed. "It worked."

"Of course it worked," Sam shot back. "It was my idea."

"You tryin' to say something, little brother?"

"Just keep moving."

The words were clipped and forced. Sweat had beaded on Sam's forehead and his face was getting whiter. Although he was not losing copious amounts of blood, Dean recognized the signs of shock that was slowly setting in. "You okay?" he asked.

"Yeah," Sam panted. "Come on."

"Sam!"

"What, Dean?"

Dean looked into Sam's eyes. "You tell me if you can't do this, okay? We'll stop."

"Yeah, okay," Sam nodded. "Can we go now?"

Black smoke was filling the room and a window cracked from the heat. "Going would be good," Dean urged.

Step by step, Dean and Sam moved in unison across the living room and through the narrow foyer. The smoke followed them, looming over head and silently overpowering them. Sam coughed lightly and the rod jerked inside Dean's shoulder. He bit his lip against the pain and reached out with his good hand, tilting Sam's head down.

"Keep down," he ordered, wiping the sticky wine on his jeans. "Keep going, we're almost there."

Sam was panting harder now and sweat trickled from his temples. Dean's stomach knotted. He had no idea how much damage the fire poker had actually done to either of them, but because Sam was taller, he was impaled lower on his chest- exactly where the right lung was located.

"Now what?" Sam asked, bringing them to a stop.

Dean shook himself from his thoughts and looked at the long set of concrete steps that led out to the street. It was the middle of the night and staircase was dimly lit, hampering their depth perception. Navigating down them without further injury looked next to impossible, especially in their condition. He clenched his hand. He wanted to grab his phone and get an ambulance here right now. Sam's life may very well depend on it.

His fingertips had just scraped over the denim of his back pocket when something crashed behind them and a blur of smoking fur brushed past as it darted outside. He turned back in time to see the flames close their jaws over a fallen ceiling fan, swallowing it. The flames had engulfed the entire living room and the ceiling was starting to fall. It was steadily consuming the entire house- they couldn't stay here.

He shivered in the cool night air as goose bumps rose on his skin. "We do it the same way we've been going: slowly. You gonna make it?"

Sam nodded. His face was pale and his shirt wet from exertion. "Yeah… let's go."

"Okay, first step, you ready?"

Sam nodded weakly.

"Okay, first foot…" Dean steadied himself on the thin metal railing as they lowered their feet over the first step. Once their weight was shifted, he nodded. "Second foot."

Sam's eyelids drooped. He panted through his mouth in short, shallow gasps. "One down," he murmured.

"Next step," Dean pushed. Behind them, something boomed with enough force to send a tremor through the wrought iron railing. "Come on- first foot…"

Sam moved with him, clinging to the railing as their weight shifted forward. Dean could feel the heat radiating from him. "Good boy, Sam. Second foot, ready?"

Dean watched as Sam sluggishly lowered his other foot. The blood stain blossomed around the wound, slowly spreading and dripping. Dean wondered briefly what the exit wound looked like.

"Hey… Dean?"

"First foot. Yeah?"

Sam was smiling. "Jess always said dancing lessons would come in handy."

"You took dancing lessons?"

"No. She just said they would come in handy. Shoulda believed her."

Dean chuckled. "Second foot. Smart girl."

Sam didn't reply.

By the time they reached the bottom of the stairs, Sam was sinking. Dean gently maneuvered them to the curb and down onto the street. "Count of three, we sit down, okay?"

Sam only nodded.

He counted and they sat, landing with a bone-jarring thud on the curb. Sam whimpered and pitched forward, his hands shooting out to catching himself on Dean's chest. "Hey," Dean snapped. "You stay awake, you understand?" He tried to fish the cell phone from his pocket without causing Sam further pain. "Take a deep breath. Breathe through it."

Sam's eyes were closed when he began coughing. Specks of blood sprayed from his lips and his breathing turned ragged. "Shit- Sam, just relax, okay? Where's the fucking-"

His fingers closed around the phone and he yanked it out, flipping it open with one hand. He used his thumb to dial 911 then held it to his ear and waited, studying his little brother.

"911, what's your emergency?"

Dean's grip on the phone tightened. "There's a fire and me and my brother are hurt. He needs an ambulance."

"What's the address, sir?"

Dean relayed their location the best he could as Sam sat still with his chin on his chest. "Hey," he said, giving the side of Sam's face a light slap. "Open your eyes."

Sam jerked and lifted his head.

"The ambulance and fire department are on the way. Sir, can you tell me how you are injured?"

Sam's head started sinking again. Dean looked at the bloody length of iron between them. "Well, uh… we're kinda… stuck. Together."

"I'm sorry?"

"There's a fire poker… going through us." What was it called? "We're impaled on it."

There was a pause on the other end of the line. "You're impaled on a fire poker?"

Dean snorted. "Yeah, we are."

"Can you describe it to me?"

"Yeah, it's going through my right shoulder and through Sam's chest. Sam, wake up. Stay with me."

Sam grunted and raised his head, but his eyes remained closed.

"Try and keep yourselves stable," the operator said. "Don't try to remove the implement yourselves."

Yeah right. It hurt badly enough just sitting here, thank you.

A window exploded and flames slithered through the broken glass, reaching for the stars. Dean flinched on reflex, causing a ripple of pain to rip through his shoulder.

"Sir, are you alright?"

"Yeah," Dean replied. "Yeah, we're outside." Sam was going down again. "Where the hell's the ambulance?"

"Please remain calm, sir. The ambulance is on the way. How is your brother?"

Remain calm? How was he supposed to remain calm when not 200 feet away, a house was burning to the ground and he and Sam were sitting on the ground, secured by an iron rod just inches from each other's face?

Sam began to list and Dean's hand shot out to stop him. "He's out of it. I think it might be going through his lung."

"Can you sit down?"

"We are."

"Good. Just stay there and keep him still. The ambulance should be there any minute."

It was, in fact, several minutes before the wail of an ambulance could be heard. Dean closed the phone and set it on the sidewalk beside him. Sam was breathing slowly, gurgling softly. A tiny drop of blood glistened on the dip of his bottom lip. "Sam?" he called, lifting his brother's chin. "Come on, wake up. Help's here."

Sam's eyes fluttered and Dean could see the haze covering the dilated pupils. Unshed tears rested heavily upon his eyelashes. "Dean?" he breathed. "Hurts."

"I know buddy." Sam was as pale as the moon above them and soaked with perspiration. "But you gotta stay with me. Think about what a cool story this will make one day."

Sam's Adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed. "Story?"

"Yeah, girls eat up shit like this. Works the sympathy angle."

Sam looked at him with hooded eyes. "Do you even have… an upstairs brain?"

Dean's laugh was drowned out as the ambulance cruised to a stop next to them. The siren was silenced and doors slammed. Red and blue lights swirled around them, morphing the dark street into a perverted disco. Two uniformed paramedics trotted up to them, wary of the burning house.

A man, in his earlier thirties, stopped and kneeled before them. "You guys o- Jesus! What is that?"

"What?" Dean shrugged with his good shoulder. "You never seen two guys stuck on the same fire poker before?"

Sam snorted weakly.

The woman knelt down just in front of her partner. "I'm sorry- your situation is a bit unusual. Can you move all your fingers?"

Dean waved off her advancements. "He's worse than me. He's coughing blood."

She moved to Sam and lifted his head with a gloved hand. She pulled a pen light from her breast pocket and aimed it at each of Sam's eyes. Dean watched as his pupils slowly shrank away from the light. "You guys can handle this, right?" he asked. "I mean, us being stuck together like this?"

"Of course," the man replied. He leaned in close, gently prodding the swollen flesh around the rod as Dean tried not to punch him in the face. "I'm Mike, and this is my partner, Gina. Can you tell me what hurts?"

Dean stared at him. "Uh, my shoulder itches a little," he replied flatly.

Mike lifted a stethoscope to Dean's chest. "Hey, I gotta follow protocol. Anything else hurt?" he asked.

"No, that's about it." Across from him, Sam whimpered as Gina did something Dean couldn't see. "What are you doing to him?" he snapped, trying to look around the paramedics.

"We need to make sure it's safe to transport you," Mike muttered, moving the stethoscope around. Apparently satisfied, he turned to look over his shoulder. "He's stable."

"So is this one," Gina replied. "Let's load and go."

"He has a name," Dean protested, since Sam appeared to be pretty out of it. "He's Sam, my little brother. I'm Dean."

"Dean, do you think you can get up now? We need to get you to the hospital."

The wail of a fire truck grew louder as it approached and Dean glanced down the darkened street. "Yeah, I can get up."

Gina leaned close to Sam. "Sam, we're going to move you now. Can you stand up for me? I'll count to three."

"More counting?"

Gina looked questioningly to Dean.

"Yeah, Sam. More counting. Come on buddy, let's get this thing taken out of us, okay?"

"Don't… like me anymore?"

Dean grinned. "Of course I do. But it'd be pretty hard to pick up chicks like this."

"Okay guys, on the count of three, I need you to stand up, okay? Try to move at the same time- avoid jostling the… rod."

Dean nodded and with the help of the paramedics, they got to their feet with only a little breath-stealing pain. Getting into the ambulance proved to be a challenge, and by the time they were 'loaded', the fire crew had arrived and was turning on the fire hydrant. Red and blue lights chased each other about the once-quiet neighborhood street and a large crowd of people had gathered on their lawns to watch the proceedings. Dean watched from the back of the ambulance, taking a certain amount of pride in his extravagant exit.

Something pricked his arm and he looked down, watching as an IV catheter was taped in place. The doors slammed shut behind him and moments later, the ambulance lurched and sirens screamed. A familiar warmth spread through his veins and Dean looked at Sam.

Sam was limp. He was propped against the side of the ambulance, his eyelids at half-mast and his lips parted. Gina was cutting his shirt away, sawing quickly through the wet, alcohol-soaked material. "Is this wine?" she asked, working carefully around the poker.

"Yeah," Dean replied. He smiled. He couldn't remember how Sam came to be covered in it.

The clothing fell away and Dean's attention was immediately glued to the torn and swollen flesh on Sam's chest. Blood slowly trickled from the protrusion, running down Sam's chest and over his ribs. In the light, the iron was dark and solid, globs of congealed blood and bits of tissue clinging to it. Dean's stomach flip-flopped and he looked away.

"Is he… okay?" Dean managed, focusing on the emergency defibrillator next to him.

"He needs treatment," Gina replied flatly, checking Sam's vitals again. "You both do."

And to that, Dean didn't have a comeback.

o0O0o

"Holy shit. How did this happen?"

Dean grinned sheepishly as a hoard of people surrounded them. He and Sam were sitting on a gurney, still a mere five inches apart, one iron fire poker holding them together by impalement. Sam was mostly out of it, only offering the occasional blink or half-smile. Gina had said it was shock from the trauma, and that administering more drugs before the doctor could assess him would be dangerous. Dean had agreed then, switching from his ordering Sam be made comfortable to cajoling Sam to stay awake. Plus, worrying about Sam kept him from worrying about himself, and his own excruciating pain.

"Uh…" he said in a small voice. "It's a long story?"

The woman in the white lab coat frowned from behind Sam. "Neither of you are going anywhere soon. Maybe you should enlighten us."

Dean shifted, suddenly feeling very naked without his shirt and in full view of a small army of medical professionals. "It was just a freak accident," he replied. There was no way he could answer the question without raising suspicions. He was damned no matter what.

"All right," the doctor sighed, straightening. She turned to her staff. "Get these two to radiology and call me as soon as the x-rays are processed."

"Wait, what about Sam?" Dean asked.

"The blood work will come back soon. I'll review it then get you boys started on some serious happy juice. As soon as I look at the x-rays, we'll get you boys off of this thing."

"What about his lungs?" Dean pushed. He looked at Sam, who sat with his head hanging forward, gurgling softly. The noise was like nails on a chalkboard. Dean wanted it fixed yesterday.

"His lungs are compromised, yes, but- by leaving the pole in place, it is actually saving his life. It's preventing him from bleeding out. The less he moves, the better, which is why the nurses will help you every step of the way. It is imperative that the pole is moved as little as possible, understand?"

Dean nodded.

"Great. I'll see you boys soon."

As they were wheeled into an elevator, Dean nudged Sam's knee. "Hey. Sleeping Beauty. Wake up."

Sam groaned a little and winced.

The elevator started its ascent and Dean nudged Sam again. "Come on, Sammy. Talk to me. You know I hate hospitals."

"Dean?"

He smiled. "Hey. You okay?"

Sam swallowed. "Vomiturus sum."

Was that Latin? Sam only spoke in tongue when he was-

Sam leaned forward and vomited. Dean winced as the fire poker was shoved into his shoulder, searing the already torn muscles. The nurses scrambled forward, catching Sam and gently guiding him back into an upright position. Dean's stomach turned at the strong, bitter smell of bile that dripped from the gurney's metal side railing, some of it soaking through the knee of his jeans.

"God, Sam," Dean whined, masking his worry. "That is just disgusting. What are you, five?"

Sam glared at him from under sweat-soaked bangs.

"You think just because we're stuck together like this, that gives you the right to puke all over me?"

"Wouldn't have happened… paid attention to Jim."

Dean raised an eyebrow. "Oh come on, Jim's Latin Lessons were enough to put anyone into a coma. I can't help it if you're a freak."

Sam raised his middle finger as the elevator came to a stop.

o0O0o

"Martha, prepare OR one. I want these boys prepped and ready to go in ten minutes."

Dean watched as the flock of nurses dispersed. He turned his attention back to the illuminated x-rays, and more impressively, the perfect images they depicted. Their ribcages faced each other, obscured by the long bones of their arms. The handle of the fire poker was against Dean's spine, the curved, ornate point at Sams'.

It looked as horrific as it felt.

The doctor, however, was getting way too much enjoyment out of it.

"This is remarkable. Look at how it went over Dean's scapula and under his clavicle. The odds of that happening are… well, I don't even know, but it's an amazing stroke of luck. And Sam…"

Dean strained to listen as a nurse approached and injected something into his IV.

"…between the clavicle and first rib, just to the side of the sternum. Lung damage doesn't look too extensive, but I expect removal of the object to be somewhat of a challenge. Once we retrieve the rod, his right lung will fill up with blood, and quickly. We'll have to move fast."

"Uh…" Dean started, and then yelped as his jeans were cut away. He tried to ignore the plump, middle-aged woman exposing his thigh. "Everything's okay, right? I mean, you can get this out of us? Cuz, Sam's my brother, and we're, you know… pretty close."

The doctor raised an eyebrow.

"No pun intended."

She approached with a smile. Her name tag, inscribed 'Dr. Wagner', flashed under the harsh lighting. "Don't worry about your brother, Dean. We're going to put you both to sleep and when you wake up, you both will be good as new, okay?"

Dean was less than convinced. "How serious is this?" he asked, watching as a pretty blonde nurse attached a white clip to Sam's index finger.

"The upper portion of Sam's lung is punctured, but the fire poker is currently preventing any major hemorrhaging. The moment we remove it, he will start to bleed." Dr. Wagner paused, smiling encouragingly at Sam. "We will be prepared for it though. After we cut off the excess metal, we'll remove what's inside of you and get the bleeding under control. Then we'll make sure there's no further damage, then clean up and get out. I promise, when you wake up, you'll feel a lot better."

Dean's stomach churned. "You're going to cut it? Isn't that dangerous?"

"Every operation carries a certain risk," she replied. "The fire poke must be cut. Pulling it out as it is would cause far more damage to each of you."

It still didn't sound like something Dean wanted to be part of. "You're the expert, right?"

"I am," Dr. Wagner replied confidently. "You have nothing to worry about."

"You hear that, Sam?" Dean asked, grinning as his brother's unfocused gaze rose to meet his. "You awake in there?"

"Dean?"

He laughed. "Drugs working for ya, little brother?"

Sam offered a sloppy grin. "There's a fire poker through my chest."

"Mine too."

Sam giggled. "We got him, though."

Dean raised an eyebrow. "Got who?"

"The poltergeist. We destroyed it."

Dean glanced at the nurses around them. "He's a little sensitive to pain meds," he offered.

Dr. Wagner finished writing in a chart and turned towards the gurney. "I'm going to go scrub in. I'll see you boys in the OR, all right?"

"Bye!" Sam beamed.

She left them and a male nurse stepped in with a loaded syringe. "You ready?"

Dean ignored him for a moment, forcing Sam's glimmer of humor to lighten the shadow that had fallen over him. He hated this, the guilt that maybe he could've protected Sam better, the helplessness of not being able to fix it, the uncertainty of their survival. But when all else was disorder, Dean could fall back on what he knew best- being a big brother.

"So Sammy," he started, taking advantage of his brother's drugged-up status. "Guess I'll see you on the other side, right?"

Sam stared at him, his expression completely sober. "Dean… I gotta tell you somethin'."

He held up a hand, stopping the nurse. "What is it?"

Sam lifted a hand and let it fall heavily on Dean's bare knee. He looked straight into Dean's eyes and said, "I love you, man."

Every muscle in Dean seemed to relax- yet the nurse was still holding the loaded syringe. He smiled back at Sam, patting the hand that still rested on his knee. "Thanks, little brother. I sorta like you too."

o0O0o

"Sam? Can you hear me? I need you to open your eyes."

Sam came-to violently, his eyes bursting open and brilliant white light searing his corneas. He tried to roll away but people were all around him, holding him down. His chest ached, he couldn't breathe. Where was Dean? What was going on?

Voices jumbled together in the air above him. A glimpse of a stethoscope. An IV bag. Strangers in blue surgery caps. Then he was moving, floating through the air before dropped onto a stiff surface. A thin mattress? The jolt sent agony rippling through him. He was going to puke. Tears of pain and confusion leaked from his eyes and he gagged, dry heaving as his chest continued throb and burn.

"Calm down… it's all over… relax…"

The voices were foreign and the words meant nothing to him. He needed Dean, where was Dean? What had happened?

Then, mercifully, the world faded away.

o0O0o

"Sam?"

"Sam."

"Come on. Open your eyes. I know you're awake."

He groaned, turning away from the noise. God, just go away. It felt so good lying here, asleep…

"Sam!"

He jerked awake before he could stop himself. Blinking, he looked around, his gaze finally settling on Dean. "Dean?" He winced against the rawness in his throat.

Dean leaned forward, a sincere smile on his face. "It's about time," he said grumpily. "I've been sitting here for a good half an hour."

Sam swallowed again, trying to ease the soreness. "What happened?" A straw touched his lips and he stared at the cup momentarily, and then took a drink.

"Long story short, you pissed off a nasty poltergeist and in retaliation, it shoved a fire poker through the both of us."

Suddenly Sam's chest began to throb. He pulled back from the straw. "Oh. Yeah."

Dean set the cup on the side table. "How you feel?"

"Like I got speared with a fire poker."

Dean snorted.

Sam searched Dean for signs of injury. "What about you?"

Dean leaned back, crossing his legs at the ankle. "I'm good. I'm the lucky one, apparently. They're gonna put me in a textbook."

Sam searched his face. "Seriously?"

"I had to sign a waiver."

Sam narrowed his eyes. "Did you read it before you signed it? Remember last time-"

"I know," Dean interrupted. "How could I forget that little mess? Dad kicked my ass for that."

Sam grinned and shook his head. "When do I get out of here?"

"Soon. Why, you gotta date or something?"

"Believe it or not, I'd rather sleep in the Impala than a hospital. At least the car smells better." Sam fought to keep his eyes open, surprised at how quickly his strength had left him.

"Better food, too."

Sam yawned. "Better music."

Dean glanced at the door, then reached up and scratched his head absently. "You know… what you said earlier, before they knocked us out…"

It felt so good to close his eyes. He relaxed, melting against the mattress. "Yeah…"

"What you said earlier, right before they knocked us out…" Dean took a breath, steeling himself as Sam's face relaxed. "I just want you to know… it goes both ways."

END

No animals were harmed in the making of this story.