When Sam opened his eyes again the room was filled with bright sunlight. Blinking, he wondered what time it was. Last thing he remembered it had been mid afternoon the day of the earthquake.
Turning to look at Dean he saw his brother was eating something from a tray in front of him, watching the tv with the sound turned down and subtitles on.
As aware of his surroundings as ever, Dean sensed Sam was awake and turned to look at him.
"Morning Princess." he said with a grin.
Sam pulled himself to a sitting position and stretched, deliberately ignoring the nickname designed to annoy him.
"What time is it?" he said.
"Just after 8." said Dean sounding slightly muffled as he was chewing.
"In the morning?" said Sam incredulously and Dean snorted.
"Yeah in the morning – the sunshine not a big enough clue for you, Sammy?"
Sam shot him a glare which Dean ignored as always. He couldn't believe he'd slept for that long, but he guessed it was his body's way of telling him he needed the rest.
"So how long you been awake for?" he said and Dean shrugged.
"Not that long. The nurse said she'd be back in a bit see if you were awake for breakfast. Although don't get excited – you might be better off saying you're not hungry." said Dean, poking the food on his plate with a disgusted look on his face.
Sam grinned at Dean's expression. "You want me to bring you some real food back later?" he said, knowing he'd be discharged soon.
"Sammy, you bring me some real food you'll be my favourite brother." said Dean, and Sam snorted.
"I'm your only brother Dean." he said dryly and Dean just smirked at him.
"Doesn't mean you're my favourite." he said and Sam just shook his head. He gave up trying to work out how Dean's mind functioned sometimes.
At that moment the nurse came back in.
"Ah, I see you're awake. And how are you feeling this morning?" she said kindly.
"Much better, thanks." said Sam. Dean was making 'sucking up' faces at him, knowing the nurse couldn't see him from that angle, and Sam struggled to ignore him. Maybe he'd bring him back a salad as payback.
"Well, the doctor will want to check you out when he does his rounds shortly, but I'd say you'll be free to go soon as that's done."
Sam nodded but before he could say anything Dean cut in.
"What about me – can I check out of here today too?" he said, flashing the nurse his most charming grin.
She chuckled. "Oh, I don't know about that dear – you've still got that IV going and you did have surgery only yesterday. I think we'll want to keep you in a little longer."
Sam struggled not to laugh at Dean's disappointed look. He looked like a kid who'd just had his favourite toy taken away.
The nurse left them alone again and Dean sighed in frustration.
"Come on Dean, she's right." said Sam trying to reason with him. "You were hurt far worse than I was, you can't just expect to walk out of here today."
"I feel fine. Much better. They're just covering their asses so I don't sue them." grumbled Dean.
Knowing nothing except getting out of there would cheer Dean up, Sam let him be and waited for the doctor to come and check him out. Thirty minutes later he'd been declared fit to leave and had his stuff in a bag ready to take back to the motel room. He didn't really fancy putting on the clothes that were full of dust again.
"You got enough money for a cab?" said Dean, trying not to look too jealous that Sam was escaping.
"Yeah, I don't think we're that far from the motel." said Sam. Now the time had come he was actually reluctant to leave Dean behind, even though he knew it was irrational.
Dean seemed to sense this and bucked himself up a little.
"Hey, come on – it's not that bad. Least you can take a shower and get rid of all that dust you've still got in your hair." he said.
Sam frowned and put his hand up to his hair, brushing it to see if any dust came out.
Dean's chuckle told him he'd just walked into a trap somehow.
"Man, you are such a girl about that hair of yours, Samantha." said Dean and Sam glared at him.
"Very funny, Dean. Keep it up and I'll forget to bring any food back with me later."
Dean groaned. "Oh come on, Sam! Now you're just playing dirty! I'll have lost half my body weight by the time they let me out of here with that stuff they call food."
Sam shook his head. "Well, we can't have you fading away can we? I'll see what I can do. I'll get cleaned up and then I'll go sweep the house before I come back ok? I won't be too long."
Dean rolled his eyes. "Take your time, it's not like I can go anywhere. If you drive back here, be careful with my baby ok? No telling what crap is all over the roads after the quake."
"You really are scary with that car, you know that right?" said Sam and Dean just glared at him.
"I mean it Sam – not a scratch on her."
Sam waved a hand in what might be classed as agreement and made his way over to the door. He looked back at Dean, still not keen about leaving.
Dean shook his head. "Go, would you? I'll be here when you get back."
Sam ducked his head and nodded, giving Dean a final wave as he left the room.
The cab ride only took 5 minutes and he was relieved to see the Impala sitting exactly where they'd left her, unharmed. He'd never admit that to Dean though – no need to tell him that he was actually pretty attached to her too when it came down to it. Patting her hood as he walked past, and rolling his eyes at the fact he was now channelling Dean, he let himself into their room. A few of the pictures were hanging at odd angles and the lamp was on the floor but other than that it was undamaged.
One long hot shower later Sam was feeling more human again. Dressing in clean clothes he grabbed one of the EMF meters and put it in his pocket. Deciding against taking the car given the damage that had been done to the road the house was in, Sam walked the two blocks back to where they'd been.
The damage was more obvious in that street and he actually shuddered as he saw the wreckage of the old house. It had been far too close for comfort, again. Shaking off the negative thoughts he suddenly noticed that there was police tape around what was left of the house and several uniformed cops digging around in the rubble.
Slowing down so that it looked as if he was just taking a casual stroll, Sam stopped by a small group of people who were observing what was happening with much interest.
"Hey, what's with the cops?" he said nonchalantly to the guy nearest to him. The man turned round to face Sam and seemed to decide that he looked normal enough.
"Seems like the quake brought up a body. Pretty old one too I think, just bones from what they said. A couple of young lads got trapped down there so the police were making sure no one else had wandered in. That's when they found the bones. They think they'd been in one of the walls. How awful, that poor person stuck there all that time." he said shuddering.
"Yeah, terrible." said Sam absently. It certainly explained the ghostly goings on at least – the spirit had probably been pretty mad at the fact no one knew it's body was there and at least now they had something to salt and burn. With the minor setback of the fact the place was now crawling with cops.
Deciding to go back and tell Dean what was happening, Sam thanked the guy for the information and headed back to the motel.
Dean was glad he didn't have any of their guns with him right now – he'd have definitely shot himself just to get out of the misery that was daytime tv.
As if knowing somehow that his brother was reaching his boredom limit, the door opened and in came Sam. He was carrying a brown paper bag and Dean sat up eagerly, ignoring the pull on his stitches.
"Tell me that's real food." he said longingly.
Sam chuckled at the sight of Dean's hopeful face. He looked like a kid on christmas morning.
"Well, not by my definition but I think it is by yours." he said, handing Dean the bag.
Dean ripped it open, inhaling the scent of a burger with all the trimmings and french fries still piping hot.
"Sam, you are officially my most favourite person in the whole world." he said, sighing happily as he took his first bite.
Sam just shook his head. You'd think Dean hadn't eaten for a week, not just 24 hours. Sitting down in the chair he glanced up at the tv.
"Oprah?" he said incredulously and Dean rolled his eyes.
"Trust me it's the best there is." he mumbled, putting Sam in serious danger of being sprayed with beef and lettuce.
"Dude! Not with your mouth full!" said Sam in disgust and Dean just grinned and carried on chewing happily.
Switching off the latest drama in middle America, Sam turned his attention back to his brother.
"So, I went back to the house." he said and Dean inclined his head to show he was listening but didn't give Sam a view of his dinner this time.
"Yeah, it's been cordoned off by the cops." Sam continued and Dean raised his eyebrows. "They found the remains of a body in there. Quake must have shaken it loose from inside the walls. I'd say that answers the question about where our spirit came from."
Dean swallowed before speaking. "So you think it'll still be hanging around?" he said.
"Depends on what it was after. If it just wanted to be put to rest then that should be enough, but it was after revenge of some kind.. Either way I'd feel better if we could salt and burn the bones."
"I take it you didn't try that then?" said Dean dryly and Sam just looked at him.
"Yeah, I was gonna ask the cops to hold the lighter for me. You don't think it would have attracted attention, do you?"
Dean snorted. "Maybe a little. So what do we do now then?"
"Well, we don't do anything – you're still in hospital remember? I'm gonna go back later tonight and see if they've removed the bones yet. If they leave them there to collect the forensic evidence, I may be able to sneak in and take care of it there and then."
Dean frowned. "That's pretty risky. You could end up arrested for arson and we really don't need the cops looking at us too closely." he said.
Sam sighed. "I know, but we don't have much choice do we? Look I'll only do it if I'm sure there's no one around. If they've already taken the bones away then there's not much we can do. I mean, the house is gone now so it could be the spirit won't cause anymore hassle anyway."
"Yeah, that would be nice wouldn't it? We're not normally that lucky though are we?" said Dean, taking another bite of his burger.
Sam had to agree. But then they had managed to get out of there in relatively one piece, and given how hopeless it had seemed at first maybe it was a sign their luck was changing.
He sat back in the chair, happy to just relax for a minute and spend time with Dean. In between bites of food, Dean told him about some of the people he'd been watching on Oprah that morning and Sam had to laugh at some of the stories. And he'd thought their family was weird.
Dean had just finished eating when Dr Anderson came in again. In a sleight of hand so fast it was almost invisible, Dean handed Sam the empty bag and Sam shoved it in his pocket. If the doctor could smell the food in the air he chose not to mention it.
"If you don't mind I just want to check on your stitches." he said cheerfully.
"I'll wait outside." said Sam and Dean mouthed the word 'Wuss' at him as he left. Sam just stuck his tongue out as he went through the door, knowing Anderson couldn't see him.
A few minutes later the doctor was done, proclaiming that everything was healing nicely and there was no sign of infection. They'd also finished with the IV, having brought Dean's fluid level back to what it should be.
"So, there's no reason for me to stay here then?" said Dean and Sam shot him a look that his brother studiously ignored.
"Well, I'm not sure about that.." Dr Anderson began but Dean cut him off with his most charming smile.
"It's just we're really keen to get back home, our folks will be worrying about us what with the quake. And I promise to take it easy. That would be ok, wouldn't it?" he said.
Dr Anderson seemed to think about. "Well, I suppose so. You really would need to take things easy though. No exertion for at least two weeks and you'll need to get those stitches out in a week's time. I'd like you to take a course of antibiotics too, just as a precaution."
Dean leapt on the opening. "No problem, doc. I'll do exactly as I'm told, cross my heart."
"Ok, I'll sort out your release papers and a prescription for the antibiotics." said Anderson, a little reluctantly.
As he left the room Dean looked up into Sam's glare.
"What?" he said.
"You know what, Dean! Why are you in such a hurry to get out of here? They wanted you to stay in for a reason you know!"
"Oh come on, Sammy! I'm fine, you heard what he said." said Dean and Sam raised his eyebrows.
"You bet I heard what he said. And you're going to be doing exactly what you were told to do for the next two weeks, or I will have a word with Dr Anderson and make sure you stay right here for that long instead."
Dean looked at him. "Oh you can't be serious!" he said but Sam's determined look told him his brother was deadly serious.
"Fine!" said Dean, throwing his hands up in frustration. "I'll do exactly as I'm told for the next two weeks – happy?"
"Ecstatic." said Sam with a triumphant grin.
"You are such a pain in the ass." muttered Dean under his breath. He knew Sam meant well but it was gonna be hell stuck on his ass for the next two weeks with his brother hovering over him every minute of the day. On the other hand, it beat being stuck in hospital so he guessed it was the lesser of two evils.
Not happy that Dean was discharging himself, but relatively pleased that he'd at least promised to take it easy, Sam got Dean's things together. If he'd known he'd be taking his brother back with him he'd have brought a change of clothes. As it was, there was no way Dean could put his own clothes back on, they were too bloodstained.
Grinning evilly, a thought occurred to Sam.
"I'll be back in a second." he said, not giving Dean a chance to ask any questions.
As they pulled slowly into the motel parking lot Dean had his door open practically before the wheels had stopped moving.
"I can't believe you made them give me this to wear!" he said, indicating the green scrubs with a look of disgust on his face. "I look like some 'ER' wannabe." he grumbled.
Sam just chuckled. The look on Dean's face when he'd brought him his 'outfit' had been priceless. It was only the fact that he refused to stay in hospital a minute longer that had Dean putting them on, all the while glaring daggers at Sam.
Even the joy of being in his baby again had not stopped Dean bitching about the scrubs all the way back to the motel. Sam just let the complaints slide off him though – it was wicked winding his brother up when he'd just got out of hospital, but the pictures he'd surreptitiously taken with his phone would give him enough leverage to make sure Dean stuck to his side of the bargain to take things easy.
Stomping into their motel room and brushing off Sam's offer of help, Dean headed straight for the bathroom. Sam sighed as he realised there was no point telling Dean not to get his stitches wet. He'd just have to rebandage them after. They'd picked up the antibiotics despite Dean's protests and some more cream and bandages as well before they'd gone back to the motel. Sam was taking no chances with his brother's health, whether he liked it or not.
Ten minutes later Dean emerged from the bathroom in a slightly better mood now he was wearing his own clothes. He even grudgingly let Sam put cream on his side and rebandage it, knowing Sam was only worrying because he cared.
Pulling a t-shirt over his head very carefully, Dean sat down on the bed.
"So when do you want to go check out these bones?" he said and Sam shook his head.
"I will go later, when it gets dark. You're staying right here." he said firmly.
"Oh come on – I can at least wait in the car and keep a look out." said Dean.
Sam glared at him and debated which was worse. Dean stuck in their motel room, getting himself worked up about what Sam was doing, or Dean sitting in the car where he could potentially do something stupid like come running to Sam's rescue if something went wrong. Deciding that there was something to be said for at least having him in sight, Sam reluctantly agreed.
"Alright – but you stay in the car and you do nothing, are we clear?"
"Yes, sir!" said Dean giving Sam a mock salute.
The afternoon passed quickly. Dean slept through most of it, despite having protested that he was 'absolutely fine'. Sam slipped out to get some dinner just after dusk and woke Dean so he could eat and take his pill, which he did with much eye rolling.
As soon as it was properly dark they left the room and drove the Impala to the street just before the one the house was in. Sam didn't want to attract attention with the distinctive sounding engine, but he wanted to be able to make a fast getaway if necessary.
Switching off the engine he turned to face Dean.
"Now you stay here, ok? I mean it – do not even think about getting out of this car."
"Fine, I got it! Geez, Francis, you need to drink a little less caffeine you know that?" said Dean dryly.
Sam shook his head and got out, grabbing what he needed from the trunk. As he walked past the car Dean wound down his window.
"Hey Sam – be careful, ok?" he said, deadly serious now.
"I will." said Sam reassuringly, before heading off at a quick walking pace. To his relief they didn't seem to have left anyone on guard. Moving fast he went up the steps and got his flashlight out as soon as he was far enough away from the road. It wasn't hard to find the spot where the bones had been found and someone was definitely on their side for once as they were still there.
"Thank you." muttered Sam quietly, aiming it at whichever deity was giving them a hand for a change. He quickly salted the bones and lighting a match dropped it onto the pile. The flames leapt instantly, and Sam quickly walked back out of the house and down the road, almost jogging. He kept his eyes and ears peeled for any sign of pursuit but it seemed his little trip had gone unnoticed. He just hoped the cops had all the forensic evidence they'd needed.
Dean looked at him as he slid back into the seat and gunned the engine.
"All done." said Sam with a grin.
"You're kidding me?" said Dean, not believing that for once it had been that easy.
"Nope. Bones were still there and I salted and burned them. All the cops will find tomorrow is a pile of ash. No way that particular spirit can cause anymore harm." he said, satisfied.
"Well I should hope not – turned out to be one pain in the ass gig." said Dean and Sam nodded.
"Yeah, well we were just unlucky I guess. Hasn't been a big quake here for a few years now."
Dean snorted. "Well there would be one soon as we arrived right? I mean that's the sort of thing that always happens to us."
Sam shot Dean a look, concerned at the sudden bitterness in his voice. Anxious to knock Dean out of whatever black mood was settling on his brother he nudged Dean with his arm.
"Hey. It could have been worse, man." he said quietly and Dean looked at him. His expression softened.
"Yeah, you're right. Just ignore me." he said and Sam smiled, pleased to see a lighter look on Dean's face.
As they drove back to the motel Sam felt relieved that this particular gig was over with. It had been a straightforward enough job, but one that had turned out more deadly than they could have imagined.
Parking in front of their room they got out and went in, Dean still moving slower than usual. As Dean shrugged off his jacket and sat down with a relieved sigh, Sam sat down opposite him.
"So I was thinking," he began. Dean looked at him a little warily.
"Should I be worried?"
Sam reached out and whacked him lightly on the leg.
"No, smart ass. I was thinking maybe we could drive into the city – take in some of those sights you were so keen to see." he said.
Dean frowned. "I thought you were against the whole 'tourist' thing." he said and Sam shrugged.
"Yeah, well – maybe it wouldn't be so bad. And we can't exactly do any hunting for the next two weeks, not till you're back on your feet." he said, his determined look cutting off any arguments on that front.
Dean looked at him. "When you put it like that. You're sure you won't be bored?" he said, putting Sam above himself as usual.
"No, I wouldn't be bored. It would be fun actually, the two of us seeing all that stuff." said Sam softly. He could still see his brother's almost lifeless body as he'd carried it from the rubble. It had been too close, again, and he needed a break almost as much as Dean did. The idea of just spending time together, hanging out and doing the tourist thing like 'normal' people was extremely appealing right now. Plus it was something Dean had really wanted to do and that was good enough for Sam. Dean put everyone else's needs above his own so often it was time someone gave something back. And Sam was more than happy to be that guy.
Dean grinned, his face lighting up at the idea of seeing all the cool stuff San Francisco had to offer.
"Alright, lets do it – this is gonna be so cool." he said happily.
Sam smiled fondly at Dean's excitement. It would be cool. And a fitting end to a trip that had almost turned out to be disastrous for them.
Listening to Dean talk about all the places they could visit, Sam let himself relax at last. They'd dodged the bullet this time and whatever else happened, that was more than enough for Sam. As long as Dean was still with him, everything was ok.
Looking over at Dean he couldn't help but smile. As Dean caught his look he rolled his eyes at how sappy Sam's expression was right now, but he found himself smiling back. He too was more than happy that for once their usual drama had a happy ending, thanks to his little brother's determination to take care of him. He didn't plan on making a habit of the role reversal, but it was comforting to know he had that to fall back on if he needed. That Sam had his back, as always.
His smile turned into a grin as he thought of something.
"Hey Sammy – maybe we'll bump into those Halliwell sisters after all." he said wiggling his eyebrows.
Sam laughed out loud. Dean really was something else sometimes. But Sam wouldn't change him for the world.
Author's note: "And she stops rambling at last!" Hadn't intended for this to be so long, but I hope it's been worth it! I blame watching Usual Suspects 4 times in 4 days for my current SN overload! LOL!
I've so enjoyed reading your lovely reviews and it's made it so worthwhile that people have been enjoying it – thank you all very much!
I am now going to go lie down and recover... But I'll be back with another, possibly shorter one, soon:)