"So Emily really had no clue what had been going on?" said Sam, glancing from the window over to his brother.
Dean had been concentrating on driving and trying to see properly despite the mother of all headaches and the dark spots that kept skimming across his vision.
"What?" he said, frowning slightly as his brain caught up with the fact Sam had just asked him a question.
Now it was Sam's turn to frown. "You ok? You don't look so good" he said with concern, noticing for the first time how pale Dean was and the dark bruise that was developing along the side of his face.
Dean shifted his neck, hearing it pop, and grimaced. "I'm fine, for like the hundredth time Sam! Now what the hell did you ask me?" he said, sounding irritated.
Sam sighed. He didn't know why he bothered to ask his brother if he was alright – he always got the same answer whether it was true or not.
"I said did Emily really not know what was happening with all those missing people?" he said with exaggerated patience.
Dean shot him a glare but answered anyway. "Nope, not a clue. People only see what they want to see, you know that" he said.
Sam shrugged. "Guess so".
Conversation clearly over with, Sam went back to looking out the window. Something was bothering him though. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but he still had this nagging sense of unease. Glancing across at Dean again and noting the tense grip he had on the steering wheel and the way he was clenching his jaw, Sam found himself wondering exactly what had gone on during the time they'd been apart.
Dean was oblivious to the scrutiny. Despite what he'd told Sam, he actually felt terrible. His head was throbbing, not to mention the various bruises on his back and side from being thrown into the cellar none too gently. But his head was definitely the worse. He'd been knocked out plenty of times – which, when you thought about it, probably wasn't a good thing – but it had never hurt quite this much after the fact. It was starting to affect his vision too, enough to make him consider stopping and getting Sam to drive.
Unfortunately just as that was going through his head, there was a sudden stab of blinding pain that shot right across his skull. He saw stars, and then everything began to tilt on it's axis. He tried to say something, anything, to Sam but he couldn't get his mouth to work properly and as blackness began to creep in his last thought was Oh crap, I'm gonna crash the car..
Sam was watching Dean carefully but he was still unprepared for his brother suddenly gasping as if in pain and the slumping over the steering wheel.
Sam made a panicked grab for the wheel as the Impala weaved across the road. Fortunately as he passed out Dean's foot had slipped off the gas, so Sam was able to steer them to the side of the road as the car slowed to a stop. Reaching over to switch off the engine and make sure they weren't going anywhere, Sam turned his attention to Dean. He was slumped in the seat still, unconscious and white as a sheet. Sam lifted his head gently, tapping his cheek lightly.
"Dean? Hey Dean, come on man – don't do this to me"
It didn't work though and Sam felt his fear spike up a notch. Gently sliding Dean towards him so that he was on the passenger side, Sam got out and ran round to the driver's side. Getting back in, he pulled Dean towards him so that his head was resting on Sam's shoulder. He didn't care how much Dean might have complained about the position had he been awake, Sam needed to feel his brother was still with him. The lack of movement and sound was terrifying. Putting one arm round Dean's shoulders to hold him steady, Sam gunned the Impala's engine and pulled back onto the road.
He'd seen a sign a few moments ago that said they were five miles from the next town and he floored the car, praying that it had a hospital and that Dean could hold on that long. He didn't care if he broke every speed limit known to man, he just needed to get his brother help.
"Hang on Dean – it's gonna be ok" he whispered, not quite sure just who he was trying to reassure.
The journey passed in a blur and although it seemed to take forever to Sam, it was in reality only ten minutes. Thankfully luck was on their side for once and the town was big enough to have a hospital, which was helpfully on the side of town they'd come in to.
Following the signs, Sam screeched to a halt in the parking lot. Only Dean's voice in his head telling him to 'look after his precious car' stopped Sam from just abandoning her in the middle of the lot. Instead he pulled into the nearest space, albeit at a slightly odd angle, and jumped out. Thanking the universe that he was taller than his brother, a fact which of course annoyed Dean no end, Sam was able to get him out of the car and carry him into the hospital. Dean's head lolled against Sam's shoulder, still unconscious.
"I need some help here!" yelled Sam, panic clear in his voice.
A nurse who'd been sitting behind the main desk quickly came running over, followed by another nurse who grabbed a gurney. Sam gently laid Dean down on it, still keeping his hand on Dean's shoulder as they started to wheel him along a corridor at speed.
"What happened?" asked the nurse as they walked.
"It's my brother, he fell down some stairs yesterday" said Sam, improvising with a skill born of practise. "I think he was knocked out but he said he was fine and then he just collapsed about fifteen minutes ago"
The nurse nodded, taking in all the information with practised calm. As they sped through the doors at the end of the corridor into what was clearly the hospital's emergency room, a doctor came through another set of doors on the other side.
"What do we have?" he said calmly and Sam heard the nurse explaining what he'd just told her. His eyes didn't leave Dean's face, desperate to see some sign of life there, but nothing happened. He was vaguely aware of people attaching wires and equipment to his brother, but he didn't move from his side until someone put their hand on his shoulder. Jumping, he looked round to see it was the nurse.
"You need to come with me now, we need some more information from you" she said softly. Sam shook his head.
"I want to stay with him" he said, not caring how young he sounded all of a sudden.
The doctor threw him a compassionate look as he listened to Dean's chest with his stethoscope.
"We'll take good care of him, I promise. Why don't you go with Nurse Johnson and we'll come and tell you as soon as we know what's wrong with your brother" he said.
Nurse Johnson began to steer him out of the room, gently but firmly. Sam craned his neck, still desperate to see Dean, until they went through the doors and he couldn't see him anymore. He allowed the nurse to lead him into a side room and sit him down in one of the chairs.
"I just need to get some papers for you to fill in. I'll be right back" she said.
Sam didn't even notice her leave. All he could think about was Dean, lying there so pale and still. He had a bad feeling right in the pit of his stomach. He knew, he just knew this was serious. Why hadn't he made sure Dean was ok? Why did he let him fob him off with blanket statements about being fine? He knew what Dean was like about his health, what was he thinking? He stared down at his hands, noting in a detached way that they were shaking badly. He closed his eyes, dropping his head forward. Please let him be alright he prayed silently.
At that moment the door opened and his head snapped up, only to see it was Nurse Johnson bringing the forms back. She gave him a sympathetic smile.
"Alright now. Lets get these filled in shall we, and then you'll be ready to see your brother as soon as the doctors are finished with him" she said kindly.
Sam nodded and numbly went through the questions, handing over fake insurance details and giving the names to go with it. He answered on auto-pilot, his gaze fixed firmly on the door as he waited for it to open. His entire future depended on what the person who came through that door was going to tell him, and he felt so nauseous he had to swallow to keep from throwing up all over Nurse Johnson's nice, shiny shoes.
Having got all the information she needed, Nurse Johnson stood up. She asked if Sam wanted a coffee or anything but he just shook his head. Anything he ate or drank right now would only be coming straight back up again. With a final sympathetic look - were they taught that at med school? Sam wondered – she left him alone.
Sam watched the hands on the clock move round almost mesmerized. After an hour he got up and began pacing the room. After 90 minutes he went over to look out the window, watching all the people passing by, their lives not hanging by a thread like his was right now. As the time reached almost 2 hours he was sat back down in the uncomfortable chair, trying to remember how to breathe properly. It could not be good if they were taking this long.
Suddenly the door opened and the doctor from earlier came in. Sam held his breath.
"Hello again – I'm Dr Carter" he said with a warm smile. Sam just nodded, not able to speak past the lump in his throat.
Recognising the fear on Sam's face, Dr Carter didn't waste anymore time with pleasantries.
"Right – well we've examined your brother thoroughly, including a brain scan, and we've found out what caused him to collapse. He has a very small bleed which is putting pressure on his brain. It's why he passed out and why he's still unconscious right now" said Dr Carter.
Sam swallowed and felt the room start to spin slightly. A bleed on the brain? That sounded so bad.
Dr Carter saw the blood drain from Sam's face and quickly got up and got a cup of water from the cooler in the corner. He came back and handed the cup to Sam, putting his hand on Sam's shoulder to steady him.
"Here, sip some of this and try to take deep breaths ok?" he said.
Sam did as he was told and gradually things began to settle down.
"Please – tell me if he's gonna be alright?" said Sam falteringly.
Dr Carter frowned "Well, that depends on a few things right now. In some cases, the bleed will actually fix itself. The pressure dissipates, and the patient regains consciousness with no permanent damage. The alternative if that doesn't happen is surgery, but we use that as a last resort. Brain surgery is inherently complicated and risky, and we prefer to leave nature to fix these things if at all possible" he said.
"But what if it doesn't?" said Sam.
"Then we operate. But as I say, we try and let things run their course before we take that course of action"
"But could waiting put him at more risk?"
"It's possible. But as I said before, it is a relatively small bleed and there's no sign of a skull fracture or any permanent damage. And your brother's condition is stable. It is of course up to you, but I would recommend waiting for now" said Dr Carter.
Sam pushed his hands through his hair. How was he supposed to do this? How could he make a decision that could potentially kill his brother or worse, leave him brain damaged? Dean would never survive being disabled, it just wasn't in his nature. Sam looked at Dr Carter desperately.
"You really think this could fix itself?"
"Yes" said Dr Carter firmly.
Sam let out a long breath. "Ok. We wait for now. But you're monitoring him right? I mean as soon as anything happens you can still take him straight to surgery?"
Dr Carter smiled reassuringly. "Of course. We're taking good care of him, I promise you"
Sam nodded. "Can I see him?"
"Sure. They were just getting him settled – I'll show you where he is" he said.
Sam swayed a little as he stood but somehow managed the long walk through endless corridors till they came to Dean's room. Dr Carter opened the door and then left Sam alone with his brother, shutting the door behind him.
Sam walked slowly over to the chair and sat down. Dean lay hooked up to all kinds of machines, an IV attached to one hand, an oxygen cannula leading into his nose. He was so still and so pale, Sam felt his heart clench.
Reaching out he took Dean's hand in his.
"Hey Dean" he said softly. "You know you should feel free to wake up anytime now. I don't even care if it's just to call me a girl for holding your hand"
There was nothing. Sam could feel tears burning in his eyes and didn't even bother to wipe them as they began to pour down his face. Tightening his grip on Dean's hand, he held on as if by sheer force of will he could keep Dean with him.
The next 24 hours passed in a blur. Nurses came and went, adjusting things, writing things down. Sam ignored them all except for the briefest of polite smiles. Dr Carter came by periodically and said things like 'no change' which Sam suspected was supposed to be comforting. It wasn't. The only time he left Dean's side was to go to the bathroom and to get a drink now and then. Liquid was all he could manage – his stomach was churning so much even the thought of food made him feel sick.
Throughout all this Dean remained exactly the same. Sam prayed with everything he had that his brother would wake up, that he would still be 'Dean' when he did. He wished more than anything that they hadn't fought, that they'd stuck together, that he'd been there when his brother was in trouble. He wished.. Oh, what did it matter? Wishing wouldn't change things. He sighed, and shifted in the chair trying to get comfortable. He'd slept a little, dozing here and there, but his dreams had consisted of either searching for Dean and not being able to find him or of arriving too late to stop Dean being sacrificed. In the end staying awake was much more preferable.
It occurred to him as he sat there watching the early morning sunlight through the window that he hadn't yet called John. He decided to try and see if for once their father would pick up his cell.
"I'll be back in a minute" he said softly, leaning over Dean. He knew he probably couldn't hear him but that wasn't the point.
Stretching his aching muscles he walked down the long corridor and out into the morning air. He dialled John's number and listened resignedly as it went straight to voicemail. This wasn't the sort of thing he wanted to leave a message for, so instead he just asked John to call him as soon as possible and that it was urgent. Sighing but not exactly surprised, he stood there breathing in the fresh air for a moment. Glancing across the parking lot he decided to check on the car, if only for Dean's sake. It was fine. In fact it was on it's own, the town was obviously pretty small and also pretty healthy since the parking lot was fairly empty. Although it was, Sam realised as he looked at his watch, only 5.30am.
Resting his hand on the Impala's hood briefly, almost as if it gave him a connection to Dean for a moment, he turned and went back inside. His body was telling him clearly that anymore caffeine would be a bad idea so he followed the signs to the canteen. It was still closed at this hour, but there was a vending machine that held fruit juice as well as the usual fizzy drinks so he settled for some orange juice and some water from the cooler next to it.
Drinking both of them quickly where he stood, he threw the cup and carton into the bin and went back to Dean's room. He couldn't help holding his breath as he went in, but to his disappointment nothing had changed. Sitting back down again he resigned himself to waiting. For as long as necessary.
As it turned out, things began to look more hopeful later that morning. When Dr Carter came by at 8am to check on Dean he'd frowned at some of the readings on the chart. Sam had kept quiet, not wanting to know if the frown was a bad sign or not. However as Dr Carter shone his light in Dean's eyes the frown turned into a smile.
He turned and looked at Sam. "It looks like your brother may be one of the lucky ones after all" he said.
Sam looked at him, hardly daring to hope "What do you mean?"
"Well, his pupils are reacting much better and his blood pressure is almost back to normal. I'd like to do another scan to check on the bleed but it looks as if it may be fixing itself already. Which would be a very good sign indeed. The less time it takes for the pressure to ease, the better the chances of a full recovery" said Dr Carter.
Sam could have hugged the guy he was so relieved. Part of his brain still cautioned that they didn't know for sure yet, that they wouldn't until Dean woke up, but it was the first good news he'd had since Dean's collapse and he was going to take what he could get.
He watched as they wheeled Dean out of the room to be scanned and stuffed his hands in his pockets to hide how badly they were shaking.
Forty of the longest minutes in his life later, they brought Dean back in. Dr Carter followed and the smile on his face was enough to tell Sam everything he needed to know.
"Good news – the scan shows clearly that the bleeding has dissipated and the pressure has been relieved. There's no sign of brain damage, that we can see, and his blood pressure has returned to normal levels. We're expecting that he should wake up anytime soon, then we'll know for sure if there are any lasting effects" he said.
Sam literally sagged and had to sit down before his knees gave way.
"Thank you" he said, his voice trembling.
Dr Carter just smiled and put his hand on Sam's shoulder briefly before giving some brief instructions to the nurse who was getting Dean re-settled and leaving the room.
Once the nurse was gone Sam pulled his chair forward close to the bed, and took hold of Dean's hand again. For the first time in over 24 hours he felt like he could breathe again. Dean was gonna wake up – that was all that mattered. Everything else they could deal with from there.
Dean was floating quite comfortably in a numb haze. He vaguely wondered where he was and what was going on, but his mind was telling him not to worry about that stuff so he just drifted for a while. Something began to niggle at the back of his mind though, and that something was Sam. He wondered where his brother was and had a vague memory of hearing Sam saying his name and sounding afraid. Was Sam in some sort of trouble?
As pleasant as the haze was, concern for his brother overrode everything else and with monumental effort Dean struggled to wake up.
The first time he opened his eyes the light sent a jagged pain shooting across his head.
Ok, that was a bad idea he thought, waiting for the pain to subside before he risked trying it again. This time he squinted and opened them slowly, and the pain receded to a dull throb. He blinked as he took in the sights and smells around him. Crap. I'm in the hospital he thought with a sigh. Turning his head, he saw Sam sitting beside him. He looked worse than Dean felt, which right now was saying something, and he was asleep with his head at an angle that was definitely gonna hurt when he woke up. Tension was clear on his face even in sleep and as Dean watched he twitched and shifted as if dreaming of something unpleasant.
Suddenly Dean noticed something.
"What the.. Oh you gotta be kidding me" he said with disgust.
No, there was no doubt about it – Sam was holding his hand.
"Hey – Sammy! Wake up!" said Dean as loud as his throat would allow right now.
Sam jumped, startled, and looked confused for a moment. Then he saw Dean, awake and looking at him, and his face broke out in a huge smile.
"Dean! Man, it's good to see you!" he said leaning forward.
Dean raised his eyebrow. "Wish I could say the same" he said and Sam looked at him in confusion.
Sighing, Dean held up his hand which still had Sam's wrapped round it. Waving the offending objects around he fixed Sam with a glare.
"Dude, you're holding my hand. I am not your prom date you know, now let the hell go" he said.
Sam flushed a little and dropped Dean's hand like it was hot. But even as Dean continued to glare at him, Sam couldn't help but smile. He thought he might never hear Dean moan at him again so right now, it was the best sound in the world.
As Sam continued to look at him with such a sappy look on his face, Dean rolled his eyes. This was so not going to be a Lifetime Moment. He raised his eyebrows.
"So are you gonna tell how the hell I ended up in here or are you just gonna sit there and stare at me" he said dryly.
Sam shook his head.
"What's the last thing you remember?"
Dean frowned. "I remember dropping Emily at the bus station, then we were driving, then.." His eyes widened "Oh please tell me I did not crash my car" he said horrified.
Sam glared at him "You're in hospital, you have no idea why and your first thought is the damn car?" he said incredulously.
"Hey, watch your mouth Sammy. That's my baby you're talking about. Now tell me if she's alright!"
Sam sighed "The car is fine Dean. Which is more than I can say for you. Do you have any idea how worried I've been? You had a bleed on your brain, that's why you collapsed. You've been unconscious for the last 24 hours and they couldn't even tell me if you were gonna wake up"
Sam stopped, swallowing. Dean looked at him, hearing the residual fear and worry in Sam's voice, and feeling guilty for putting it there.
"Hey, it's not like I asked to get whacked over the head Sam! But for what it's worth I'm sorry I scared you" he said.
Sam ran his hands through his hair. He knew it wasn't Dean's fault completely, but his fear had made him react angrily to Dean's enquiries about his car over his own health.
"I know you didn't ask to get knocked out, but you should have told me what really happened and that you felt so bad. We could have got you checked out and then maybe you wouldn't have collapsed"
Dean shifted uncomfortably. "It was just a headache, it was no big deal Sam. We both get knocked out all the time" he said.
Sam rolled his eyes "You know in any other family that would be a problem" he said dryly.
"Yeah, well. That's us" said Dean with a wry grin. "So what's the verdict anyway? I assume I'm gonna live?"
"Fortunately, yes. The bleed fixed itself and they said if you woke up ok then there would probably be no permanent damage. Although I'm not sure how they'd tell" he said.
Dean glared. "Cute Sammy. Insult the nearly-dead guy"
Now it was Sam's turn to glare. "That is not funny Dean" he said and Dean had the grace to look slightly apologetic.
"Oh come on Sam – it was a little funny"
Sam continued to glare and Dean rolled his eyes.
"Fine – no jokes about almost dying, I got it. Now when can I get out of here"
Sam shook his head. "You are unbelievable, you know that right?"
Dean grinned cockily "Thanks"
"It wasn't a compliment"
Before they could start a full blown argument, the door opened and Dr Carter came in. Seeing Dean was awake he smiled at him.
"Well this is a pleasant surprise. It's good to finally meet you" he said looking pleased.
Dean shot Sam a who the hell is this? look and Sam mouthed 'be nice' at him.
"This is Dr Carter, he's been looking after you"
Dean flashed his most charming smile.
"Hey doc, nice to meet you. So when can I go home?"
"Dean!" said Sam, exasperated, but Dr Carter just laughed.
"It's alright Sam, that's usually what most people want to know"
Dean shot Sam a look that said "see?" which Sam just ignored.
Dr Carter did some checks on Dean, shining the light into his eyes, asking him various questions. Conscious of Sam glowering at him Dean was on his best behaviour and Dr Carter seemed satisfied with the results.
"Well, the good news is I can't see any residual after effects from the bleed. All your results are back to normal. How do you feel?"
"Fine" said Dean and this time he actually meant it. Aside from a few aches and pains from the bruises he felt much better and his headache was pretty much gone.
"Well, you need to take things easy for a few days, let your body recover fully. And you need to keep an eye out for any recurance – if you start to feel dizzy or sick, or have a very bad headache you should get yourself checked out straight away. And I'd avoid hitting your head on anything too, if at all possible" he said with a smile.
Sam winced as he thought how likely that was with their job.
"What about if he did hit his head in future – I mean if he fell down the stairs again or something. Is it likely to happen again?" said Sam, ignoring the glare Dean was giving him.
"Not necessarily. There was no skull fracture, so there's no weakness there. The fact that it happened this time is just one of those things, so there's nothing to indicate it would automatically happen again. But we generally recommend all our patients try and avoid getting knocked out though" said Dr Carter.
"Right, got it – no using my head to land on" said Dean, his tone indicating they were done with the questions. "So can I go then?"
"I don't see why not. I'd like you stay another hour or so, just to make sure, but then you can be on your way"
"Thanks" said Dean, wishing he could get up right now but deciding Sam wasn't in the mood for him pushing it.
With a nod to Sam, Dr Carter left and Sam raised his eyebrows at Dean.
"What?" he said and Sam shook his head.
"You just woke up and you want to walk out of here just like that?" said Sam.
"Well unless you want to move in here, hell yeah!" said Dean. "You know how I feel about hospitals Sam"
"I know you don't like them, but come on – this isn't a grazed knee Dean!" said Sam, holding his arms wide. "I'm just worried about you, ok? I want to make sure you're really ok before you just walk out like nothing happened" he said quietly.
Dean sighed. Great – now Sam was resorting to emotional blackmail. He knew that Sam knew he'd feel guilty for scaring him, and therefore he'd agree to what Sam wanted. Course knowing that didn't mean he felt any less guilty as he saw the pain on Sam's face and the exhaustion in his eyes.
"Fine. I'll stay till they say I can leave. Is that good enough?" he said.
Sam nodded and his face lit up with a relieved smile. Dean rolled his eyes but found himself grinning back.
"But if I'm gonna do this, the you need to do something for me. Go find us a motel room, get something to eat, and shut your eyes for a few hours. I'll call as soon as I'm ready to check out ok?" he said firmly.
Sam was about to protest, but Dean held his hand up. "I'm not kidding Sam, you look like crap. Now go. Seriously, go!" he said.
Sam sighed but recognised that Dean had made his mind up. "Alright, but promise you'll call me when they say you can go ok? I don't want you checking yourself out and ending up at the motel by yourself. I'm not kidding either" he said.
"Fine, I'll call – cross my heart! Now get out of here" he said and Sam got up. He walked over to the door, but hesitated. He looked back at Dean, looking as if he was afraid Dean would somehow disappear. Which he was when it came down to it.
Dean's gaze softened. He could imagine how hard it had been for Sam, worrying about him and not being able to do anything about it, and he smiled at Sam reassuringly.
"Relax Sammy – I'll still be here when you get back. I promise"
Sam flushed a little, feeling embarrassed at how needy he was looking right now. But he appreciated that Dean understood where he was coming from and hadn't teased him about his reaction. With a final nod and a smile he left the room.
He found a motel 5 minutes from the hospital and checked them in for two nights. Whatever Dean said, the doctor had told him to rest and Sam was going to make sure that's exactly what he did. He grabbed a quick sandwich from the store next to the motel, and ate it before he hit the shower. He felt better already by the time he came out, the hot water easing the tension that had built up in his neck. Putting his cell phone on the table beside the bed, he lay down. He'd just rest his eyes for a minute. Within seconds he was asleep.
Dean kept his word and stayed in bed until Dr Carter came back just over an hour later. He answered all the questions again, as patiently as possible, put up with the prodding and poking and let out a sigh of relief when the doctor finally smiled and said everything looked normal.
"So I can go?" he said hopefully.
"You'll be happy to hear, yes, you can go" said Dr Carter.
"Terrific – no offence, doc" said Dean and Carter shook his head.
"Don't worry – none taken. Now as I said before, you should try and take things easy for a few days and if you start to have any recurring symptoms at all then get yourself checked out" he said.
"I will. You know what my brother was asking before – about it happening again. Is it likely?" said Dean. He'd never have asked if Sam was there, but he wasn't stupid. The idea that he could end up brain damaged or worse if he got knocked out again – which, lets face it, was an occupational hazard for them – was enough to give him a twinge of concern.
"It is a risk, but no more so than anyone else. You were lucky enough not to have a skull fracture so there's no weakness there. And it's a good sign that the bleed fixed itself. I'd say you're at no more risk of this happening again than the next person" he said.
Dean let out the breath he'd been holding, relieved. "Well, that's good. Thanks for all your help" he said with sincerity and Dr Carter shook his hand.
"You're welcome. We like a happy ending round here. Now you take care ok?" he said.
I will, thanks" said Dean.
When Dr Carter left Dean quickly dressed. Walking out into the fresh air he took a deep breath and smiled. It felt good to be up and about again. His cell phone was still in the car he assumed, so he went over to a payphone and dialled Sam's number. His brother answered on the fourth ring.
"Hello?" he said sleepily.
"Hey Sammy - I'm ready to blow this joint" said Dean cheerfully.
"Dean! What time is it?" said Sam, sounding as if he was getting up.
"'Bout two hours after you left. Which motel are you at? I can meet you there" said Dean.
Sam was already speaking before Dean had even finished "No way! You stay right there, I'm coming to get you" he said firmly.
Dean rolled his eyes even though Sam couldn't see him. "Fine, whatever. Just hurry up. And mind my car" he said, hanging up.
Sam shook his head. Trust Dean to still be thinking about his precious car. Dressing quickly, he grabbed the keys and left the room.
Five minutes later he pulled up outside the hospital, spotting Dean sitting on the wall looking impatient as always.
As he heard the rumble of his beloved car, his face lit up and he slid off the wall. He winced slightly as he did so, a fact that Sam noted for later.
Dean opened the passenger door and slid in with a satisfied sigh "Ah, it's good to be back" he said reaching out to stroke the dashboard.
Sam rolled his eyes "You want some time alone?" he said dryly and Dean just nudged him with his shoulder.
"Cute college-boy. So where we staying?"
"There's a motel just up the road. I booked us in for two nights" said Sam.
Dean raised his eyebrows "Two nights? We're not sticking around here that long Sam"
"Oh yes we are! You're supposed to rest, remember? That does not mean traipsing miles across the state cramped in a car, Dean!"
"Hey! My car is not cramped!"
"Fine, ok – we'll sit on our asses in a motel room for two days. That'll be nice and relaxing" said Dean dryly.
Sam glared at him before switching his attention back to the road. Pulling up in front of their room he got out and went round to the passenger side, opening Dean's door before he could protest. Dean got out and gave Sam a glare that clearly said any offer of assistance would not be appreciated, despite the fact Dean was moving pretty stiffly.
Shaking his head at his brother's stubbornness, but not helping as he quite liked having all his teeth, Sam shut the door and walked over to let them into the motel room.
Shrugging off his jacket with more care than usual, Dean sat down on one of the beds with a relieved sigh.
"So what did the doctor say before he let you go?" said Sam, sitting down on the other bed, facing his brother.
"I was wondering how long that was gonna take" said Dean. Seeing Sam wasn't in the mood, he held up his hands "He said I was fine – honest. No reason for it to happen again and no permanent damage"
Sam stared at him for a moment before deciding that Dean did seem to be telling the truth. It wasn't that he didn't trust Dean – he was the one person Sam trusted completely – it was just he knew how economical with the truth he could be when it came to his own health.
"Well that's something I guess. What about the other bruises?" he said.
Dean looked at him in surprise for a second before trying to cover it. "What other bruises?" he said doing his best to sound innocent.
"Oh I don't know, the ones that are making you move so slowly and wince every 5 minutes?" said Sam dryly.
Dean shifted "It's just a couple of bruises from getting thrown into the cellar that's all. No big deal"
"Right. Just like the massive headache you must have had was no big deal" said Sam, anger and frustration colouring his voice.
"Hey, come on Sam. Like I said before, I didn't know it was any different than normal. And you can't be pissed at me for something I had no control over" he said.
"I can be pissed at you for not taking your health seriously Dean! You always do this, ever since we were kids. How many more times are you gonna end up in hospital before you realise you're not unbreakable? You're only human, whether you like it or not. You have to start accepting help with this stuff, before your luck runs out" said Sam, his voice rising.
"Oh for crying out loud Sam! I'm not gonna start heading to the ER every time I get a bruise!"
"That's not what I'm saying and you know it! There's a difference between making a fuss over nothing and getting help when you're seriously hurt. Trouble is you never know the difference"
"Thanks, that's nice Sam. You make it sound like I asked for this. I don't seem to recall you being there when I was getting the crap kicked out of me – you were off having a hissy fit remember?" said Dean, getting angry himself now.
Sam recoiled as if he'd been slapped. "You think I don't know that? You think I didn't sit there the whole time you were unconscious, hating myself for not being there when you needed me?" he said, his eyes glistening.
Dean's anger disappeared as quickly as it had come and he ran a hand through his hair. Seeing the hurt on Sam's face he regretted what he'd said.
"Look I'm sorry ok? It wasn't your fault I ended up in Freaksville. Besides you came through when it mattered"
Sam shook his head. "That's not the point. I should never have left in the first place. Hunting alone is dangerous, I know that. And yet I let you take off and do it anyway"
"Hey, you didn't 'let me' Sammy – I'm the older one here"
"That doesn't mean squat! Just because your older doesn't mean you're invincible. I'm your brother, I should have been there to watch your back" said Sam desolately.
"Come on Sam, don't do that. It's NOT your fault. You saved my life turning up when you did – that's what matters. And besides, I'm fine remember? It all worked out"
"But what if it hadn't? What if I'd been too late, or the bleed had been worse, or.."
Dean cut him off. "You know we can't play the 'what if' game. Not with what we do. All that matters is everything worked out in the end. Now stop beating yourself up Sam, I mean it" he said firmly.
Sam sighed, raking his hands through his hair. "I just can't stop thinking about it though. I was so scared you were gonna die, I didn't know what to do. If anything had happened to you I don't know what I would have done" he said softly, blinking back tears.
Dean gave him a smirk "Come on Sammy – you know you don't get rid of me that easily dude. Now please, please just stop with the 'what ifs' – I am FINE so just drop it ok?" he said.
Sam sighed. "I'll try. I just wanna say I'm sorry though, for taking off like that. And I'm sorry you got hurt because of it. And I'm really, really glad you're ok because if you weren't.."
Dean stopped him. "Hey – no chick flick moments remember?" he said and Sam rolled his eyes.
"Bitch" said Dean with a grin and Sam found himself grinning back. It really was the Winchester version of 'I love you'.
Leaning back against the headboard Dean shifted the pillows till he was comfortable.
"So as I'm supposed to be resting does this mean you're the one going for food?" he said with a smirk.
Sam shook his head. "I guess it does. Don't go anywhere" he said with mock firmness as he stood up.
Dean gave him a salute "Yes sir!" he said and Sam just rolled his eyes. "I'll be right back" he said, shutting the door behind him.
As he walked towards the Impala he couldn't help smiling to himself. He still felt guilty for leaving Dean, but it looked like they'd been lucky for once. His brother was fine and as far as Sam was concerned that was all that mattered. And if it meant playing servant for a few days then he could do that. It was more than worth it.
Sitting on the bed Dean smiled to himself too. He'd been pretty hurt when Sam had stormed off like that, but he could understand his frustration at needing to find their Dad. And he'd been just as guilty really, driving off like that. The point was when it mattered, Sam came back for him. Without even knowing for sure if Dean was in danger Sam had come rushing back to find him, and that meant a lot to Dean. And he'd said they were sticking together now, so in the end that was all that mattered.
Sighing contentedly he slid further down the bed and closed his eyes. In a few days they'd be back on the road and things would be back to normal. The Winchester brothers, together. Just as it should be.
Author's note: That was a little longer than I intended! I have no medical knowledge whatsoever, so apologies for any inaccuracies when it came to Dean's injuries or treatment! Hope you liked it and all reviews gratefully accepted... :)