Ok first off I am so very, very, very, very, VERY, VERY sorry for taking so long to update.

I never intended to take this long but I do hope you are still with me. (",)

CHAPTER 7

It was only after another jaw popping yawn from her youngest that Sarah had decided enough was enough. The day before had been Jayden's birthday and between the excitement of having Dean back and all the sugar consumed from their impromptu birthday party very little sleep was had and it was clearly catching up with the youngest Winchester.

"Sammy, hon, why don't you take Jay back to the motel for a nap, I think me and Katie here can handle this one for awhile."

Looking up from where he was playing a challenging game of tic-tac-toe with his niece Dean put on a shocked faced.

"This one?" he replied with mock horror, "Oh Sarah, I'm offended."

"Uh-huh' she commented, clearly a non-believer but still placed a reassuring kiss upon his head.

"Katie, you keep an eye on him, while I walk Daddy and Jay out. I'll even pick us up some lunch from the cafeteria too."

Katie nodded and muttered a "K Mommy," as she placed her 'O' in a square giving Dean a triumphant look.

"Oh you didn't?"

"I did."

Getting up from his chair Sam glanced over to see Katie was in a no lose position and chuckled.

"And you Dean don't hassle my girls." Sam warned before a yawn consumed his face.

"Like I could, now get outta here before your jaw breaks off."

Giving his brother a last look of contempt, Sam gathered the docile Jayden from Sarah and together they left the room with Dean calling out for Sarah to bring him some pie. Yea right Dean.

Sarah walked her husband and son down to the car park giving them each a kiss goodbye before she wondered back into the hospital in search of food. She had not taken all that long, although the queue at the cafeteria was unexpectantly lengthy, but by the time she made her way back to the room carrying a bag of drinks and sandwiches Dean's own hospital lunch had been served.

"Don't look at me like that." Sarah heard Dean growl and peeked her head around to see Katie perched on the end of Dean's bed with a determined look set on her face.

In front of Dean was now a meal tray and looking at his disgusted frown she could tell he was clearly unamused by it's contents. Today was the first time they had allowed Dean solid food and she wondered just what exactly that entailed.

Obviously nothing good.

"Katie!" Dean warned again but the small girl just sat there arms crossed, never flinching, resolute.

The standoff lasted impressingly long before Dean, finally admitting defeat, picked up his spoon growled a, "fine" and proceeded to dip it into the bowl grimacing as he swallowed a pathetically small mouthful.

"Happy?"

Sarah could see the relaxed stance her daughters body took and the winning grin that now covered her face but she remained silent and focused.

Dean sighed and waved the spoon toward his niece, "You know you're as stubborn as your father."

"Daddy says I'm as stubborn as you." she pouted then motioned again to the bowl on front of him, "More."

"And unfortunately," Sarah began as she made her way into the room, "you're all as stubborn as each other and she's right Dean," pausing and pointing to the bowl, "you need to eat more."

Dean stared pitifully at the offending contents of his lunch before he eyed the bag in Sarah's hand.

"Did you bring me pie?" he asked giving her his 'I'm adorable you can't help but love me and feed me affection' smile that could rival his brother's 'puppy dog' eyes any given day.

Luckily Sarah was relatively immune to both by now.

"No, and you're not getting any until the Doctor says you can now be good and eat…" she paused and looked into the bowl at the offending looking green sludge that was in it, "…whatever that is."

Grumbling under his breath Sarah could almost swear she heard, "Women," as Dean dunked his spoon back into the bowl and slurped another mouthful.

Choosing to ignore him she handed Katie her lunch and the three sat in silence consuming their meals.

"Well," Dean finally broke the silence as his spoon noisily clattered into the now empty bowl and he leaned back into his pillow closing his eyes as the effort of eating sucked the last of his energy from him, "that was nasty."

"But don't you feel better for it?" Katie asked shoving the last of the sandwich into her mouth.

"Yea don't you Dean?" Sarah added smiling wickedly.

Opening one eye Dean gave her a baleful glare, "I refuse to dignify that with an answer."

Sarah stood wheeling the little table away that had held Dean's meal on it, "Well how about you just get some sleep then huh?"

"Not tired." he yawned as Sarah adjusted the sheets.

"Say that with your eyes open."

"Not tired."

"Still closed."

"Hmmph."

"Just for a little while Dean, the faster you get better the sooner we can take you home."

Katie's voice of approval was marred by an overwhelming yawn of her own and Sarah thought that maybe she should of insisted that Sam take Katie too.

"Hmmm, maybe when I wake up Nurse Simmons can give me a sponge bath." Dean mumbled before biting back a groan while he shifted into a more comfortable position.

"I don't believe I've had the pleasure." she replied as she watched Katie crawl up to Dean's uninjured side holding back her disapproval as he shifted again just to make room for her.

"Nurse Simmons's is a real looker Mommy." Katie muttered as she sleepily snuggled closer to Dean's side.

Two guilty green eyes peered at Sarah as Dean attempted to stifle a snicker.

"Dean! What on the world have you been teaching my child?"

"If you're worried bout Katie now," he paused to yawn, "just wait till I get my hands on J-mmmm."

Sarah assumed that the last word was meant to be man, but she didn't care. He was asleep as was the guard snuggled next to him. All was good.

Sarah sighed smiling to herself and left the room to grab a coffee and a mag before settling back next to the sleeping duo and catching up on the latest Hollywood goss.

"Mommy?"

Sarah shifted in her chair and the magazine that lay open slipped from her lap and onto the floor.

"Not sleeping on the job honey?" Sam whispered grinning as he bent down kissing his wife gently on the lips and Jayden struggled at her legs begging to be picked up.

"That depends, how long have you been watching?" she softly replied lifting her son onto her lap as he promptly turned to watching the two sleeping on the bed.

"Still sleeping." he sighed, disappointment clearly resigned in his voice.

Before either could reply the hospital door swung open and Doctor Burrows waltzed into the room grinning at the family before him.

"And how are the Winchesters today?" he asked before noting the small girl snuggled into her Uncle's side, "This one still standing guard I see."

Sarah chuckled, "She is more ferocious than she looks."

"I wouldn't doubt it." he smiled before checking his patients charts.

A rustling of the sheets drew the room's attention.

"Unkie Dee." Jay cried in glee struggling forward only to be restrained by his mother's arms.

A grumbled "Hmmph," was heard from the occupant on the bed as he sleepily gazed around the room before leading his eyes at the Doctor standing at the end of the bed and gave a weakened smirk, "You here to spring me from this joint Doc?"

Burrow's gave his patient a doubtful frown, "You think your up to leaving?"

"Hell yea!"

"Liar." Katie said yawning as she looked at her Uncle and rubbed sleep from her eyes.

"Oh honey, hit me where it hurts."

She shrugged a non-caring whatever and shifted so she was now sitting up on the bed.

Burrows gave a hearty laugh and moved around to Dean's injured side. "Let's just take a look here before we go jumping the gun shall we."

Lightly touching the healing wound he asked Dean a few questions before nodding to himself and making his way back to the charts.

"Well?" Sam asked clearly impatient with the lack of information.

"Better, much better, the swelling is going down, the infection is clearing up and his temp is nearly back to normal." he finished as he placed the charts back on the end and turned his attention back to Dean, "All in all I say that you are a very lucky man Mr. Winchester."

"So I can go then?"

"No."

Dean just sighed.

The family stayed together for the rest of the afternoon playing and chatting while Dean dozed in and out of the conversations. Between the severity of his injuries and the effects of his medications Dean had no other choice than to let his body rest no matter how adamant he was that he wasn't tired and yes he was ready to go home.

It was only after Dean had enjoyed another charming meal of green gloop that Sarah announced that it was time to go and she was met with the expected reaction.

"No, I wanna stay with Deanie."

"Me too." Jayden huffed as he set a not so scary scowl on his face.

"And I want you both to eat, bathe and sleep."

"But Deanie…."

"No buts kiddo," Dean interrupted, "eat bathe and bed, all of you." sweeping his gaze up to Sam and Sarah clearly attempting to get a message across.

"Dean's right and the sooner you all go to sleep the sooner you can be back here tomorrow." Sam agreed however ignoring the clear look from his brother.

The kids grumbled to themselves but made their way to the door as Sarah kissed Dean goodnight before picking up Jayden and towing a hesitant Katie out of the room.

Following his wife to the door Sam turned to Dean, "I'll be back in a minute." and quickly disappeared before Dean could say anything else.

The moment Sam walked back into the room he was met with his brother's silent glare.

"What?"

"You know you could of gone with them I don't need a babysitter."

Sam just shrugged as he sat down next to the bed.

"I know you've barely slept."

"I've slept."

"An hour here and there doesn't count."

"Yea well, maybe I don't really want you out of my sight ok?" Sam offered and looked up when his brother sighed.

"I'm not going anywhere Sammy."

"That's not what I meant."

"Sam I'm fine!"

"Yea, now!" he shouted as he jumped up from his chair and began walking back and forth.

"Sam…"

"You nearly died Dean."

"Sam."

"I nearly lost you."

"Sammy."

"You nearly died!" he shouted as he spun on the spot focusing on his brother.

"Dude hey, nothing is ever gonna take me out."

Sam just scoffed and he started up his pacing around the room again, "Yea right."

"Look Sammy, I'm fine now, you saved my ass."

"This time Dean. What about next time, huh?" A lump formed at the back of his throat. Dean had nearly died, again! How many more chances were they gonna get? How many more lives did Dean have left?

"Sam you know I can't give up the hunt, you know that…. "

"I know Dean it's just…" Sam paused and sighed as he turned to face his brother, " I don't know what I'd do if….."

A light knock brought both the brother's attention to the man standing at the door.

Sam took a moment before he strode over and offered a warm smile "Bruce, hey man. Come in, come in."

"How you going Sam?" Bruce asked as he walked into the room nodding to Sam.

"Good, good."

"And your brother?"

"He's…."

"He is fine." came the gruff reply from the ignored bed-bound Winchester, "Sam?" he questioned a he struggled to sit further up in the bed wincing at the pull in his side.

"Dean? Dean do you want me to get….."

Dean's eyes focused on his brother and Bruce noted how Sam instantly calmed.

"I'm fine Sam," Dean said through clenched teeth, "but care to tell me who our mystery guest is." lifting his head toward the stranger Sam had so eagerly greeted.

"Oh, oh," realisation finally hit Sam, Dean had yet to meet Bruce.

"Dean this is Officer Bruce Harrison and Bruce, this is my pain in the ass big brother Dean."

Bruce beamed at Dean's look of indignation.

"Hi there Dean, nice to finally meet you, heard a lot about you." he said offering his hand to the older Winchester.

"You have?" Dean questioned as he shook Bruce's hand and gave his brother a questioning look.

"Bruce helped me save you back there."

"Really?"

"Well I wouldn't go that far, but I pulled your brother over for speeding and then…." Bruce started to explain but stopped mid-sentence when Dean swung his gaze towards Sam.

"You were speeding in my girl?"

"You were bleeding in her." Sam countered.

Dean bit back the retort he had and instead his lips curved into a smirk and he cocked an eyebrow towards his brother as he took in what he had just said.

"You said her."

"I….no I meant……Shut up…..Jerk."

Dean grinned, "Bitch."

Bruce couldn't help but laugh at the banter, causing the two brother's to look slightly self-conscious as they focused back on him.

"Well I'm glad to see your doing well Dean. You had your brother in quite a tither."

Dean eyes diverted to Sam as he gave a concerned look while Sam just ducked his head with a bashful grin.

"But I also wanted to thankyou."

"Thank me?" Dean asked a unable to cover his shocked expression.

"We were able to locate several of the hikers who have gone missing in recent weeks. Unfortunately three we…ah, well three didn't make it and we found human remains of several other as well but we successfully were able to find three survivors."

Dean moved uncomfortably under the sheets, "And how does that make you thank me?"

Bruce gave Sam a knowing smirk before giving Dean's shoulder a soft squeeze, "The world is a better place because of men like you and your brother just make sure your more careful in the future though, you aren't no use to no one dead, especially your family."

Moving toward the door Bruce looked back to the still stunned Dean, "Anyway like I said I just wanted to give you my thanks but I best be getting back to it lot's of paperwork awaits. Good luck boys." he nodded giving them both a cheery wave and he disappeared out the door.

"Sam?"

Sighing Sam lowered himself back into his chair, "I don't know Dean. I just know he is on our side and I don't wanna look a gift horse in the mouth you know."

Dean was silent for a moment as he let what had just happened sink in before abruptly turning his head to finally face his brother.

"So you were worried huh?"

"What?" Sam asked scrunching his face with mock confusion, "About you? Hell no."

"No?" Dean asked raising his eyebrows in question.

"No, what's to worry Dean, ain't nothing ever gonna take you out right?" Sam stated repeating Dean's own words and hoping to God that his brother was right.

Dean rewarded him with a mischievous grin, "Damn straight little brother, damn straight."

It was the third day of Dean's hospital stay that Katelyn decided it was time to talk punishments. Sarah had left earlier to deal with some business that couldn't wait so Sam, Jayden and Katie were keeping an increasingly antsy Dean company.

"I don't want you going away no more Deanie. That can be your punishment. You are never to leave the house again."

Looking up from where he was watching Jayden play with his new toy Impala next to him on the bed he gave his niece a little smile "Katie…."

"Never!" She shouted and the two brothers shared equal looks of concern.

"Katie," Sam warned but Dean shook his head silently asking to him to let him do this.

"Sweetie, you know that I can't do that. That there are times I have to go away. That there are people out there that need my help."

"Can't they help themselves?" she asked refusing to look at him as she picked at a loose thread on the bed.

"Katie."

"I don't like it when you leave."

"I know honey but….."

"I'm afraid you won't come back." The words were whispered and two tear filled eyes looked sadly into her Uncle's.

"Come here baby," Dean offered stretching his arm out so she could join her brother in their Uncle's embrace.

"There is nothing and I mean nothing that could ever stop me from coming back to you, all of you" he stated glancing to Sam at the last part.

"What if…."

"No, no what ifs. There is nothing. I will always come back."

"Promise?" she asked as now two sets of eyes looked up to him.

"Promise," he reaffirmed giving both kids a tight squeeze, "anyway you really think that your Daddy over there would let me get away with not coming home? I mean look I was barely even a couple of days late and here he was high tailing it to come and haul me home."

"I had incentive." Sam huffed recalling Ellen's phone call.

Dean just quirked his brow. Incentive?

"Camping." Katie suddenly said bringing Dean's attention back to her.

"What?"

"Camping." she repeated, "You can never go camping again."

"Well that I can live without." Dean chuckled as he ruffled Jayden's hair and kissed her head.

That's his punishment? No camping? Just who has who wrapped around their little finger? Sam wondered.

"And you have to take me and Jay to the zoo."

How is this punishing Dean?

"And no Impala for, for 2 months."

Sam smirked, now that's more like it.

"Two months, that's a little harsh." Dean asked frowning at the thought.

"No, Aunty Ellen yelled at Daddy."

"Really?" a pleased smile replaced Dean's frown.

Bastard.

"Uh-huh, Mommy said so."

Maybe ten months would be more appropriate.

"If you think that's bad Dean just wait till she gets her hands on you. Sarah called her before she came and Ellen would like to have a word with you."

Dean gulped knowing that that wasn't going to be a pleasant conversation.

"Ah, so is that it?" he asked Katie hoping that maybe she would take pity and lock him away until Ellen had forgotten about the whole thing.

"For now."

"Well as long as you don't go demanding I paint the Impala pink."

Oh God, Sam swallowed and lowered his head as his shoes suddenly became fascinatingly interesting.

"Paint? Pink? I? What?" Katie stuttered clearly perturbed by the harrowing thought.

"I dreamt that as a punishment you had the Impala repainted bright. Fluoro. Pink." Dean stated emphasising each of the last three words.

I said hot pink, not fluoro.

"I would never Deanie. That's, that's…"

"Sacrilege?" Sam offered weakly attempting to not look guilty as sin.

Dean gave his brother a peculiar look, "You got it in one Sammy."

"Pala pink? Yuk!" came Jayden's equally revolted input as he eyed his own toy car. Evidently even at his young age he too knew the importance of the Impala's style.

"I hear ya buddy." Dean said ruffling the kids hair and only Sam saw the brief grimace that played across his brother's face before he quickly masked it. Dean was getting better there was no doubt but the doctor still had reason not to release him just yet no matter how much he protested.

"Well maybe….." Katie muttered seemingly deep in thought before lifting her eyes to her Uncle.

"Maybe what?"

"Maybe the Impala would look pretty with some pink flower seat covers or something."

Sam couldn't help the chuckle that burst from him but quickly silenced it by the threatening look Dean sent him.

"I ah……"

"I'm kidding Deanie." Katie finally said as her face transformed into a blooming smile.

"Oh…oh you are evil Katelyn."

She shrugged, "I learn from the best." and placed a kiss on her Uncle's cheek before settling back against him and telling her little brother of all the animals they would be seeing at the zoo.

The following days had passed slowly and as Dean got progressively better and stronger he became more restless and argumentative. Sam didn't mind. He was just happy to see his brother getting back to normal, well as normal as Dean ever got, even if it was mostly at the Doctor's and nurse's expense.

But today was the day he could finally take his brother home and as Sam came back into Dean's hospital room he couldn't help but chuckle at the sight that greeted him.

There in the chair beside the bed sat Dean with two small children at his feet deep in concentration, Katelyn on the left and Jayden on the right.

"….and pull." Katelyn finished admiring her work on Dean's left shoe before turning to see her brother's efforts.

"Good try Jay."

Jayden beamed proudly at his 'masterpiece' of work and he positively glowed at his sister's praise, that was until he looked over to Katie's side and his face fell at the different result she had achieved.

"It's OK Jay, your only little. We just gotta practice is all," she said as she scooted behind him and began untying the several knots that he had created. Taking her little brother's hands she guided him in tying the laces carefully instructing as she went "….and pull. You did it Jay!" she announced squeezing her brother with glee.

Dean shifted his foot slightly just for show before complimenting his nephew's effort as well, "Nice going J-man."

"Now you've got the kids tying your shoes Dean?" Sam asked with an incredulous look set on his face as he made his way further into the room.

Dean looked up at his brother in mock shock.

"Hey, I'm injured here Sammy," he defended only to be backed up by the two at his feet.

"Yea Daddy, Deanie's hurt."

"We fix Unkie Dee."

Dean just gave Sam a smug look before changing the subject.

"So where is that lovely wife of yours, I'm dressed, my shoes are done and we are ready to bail."

"She is just fixing up some last minute things with the Doc," Sam replied as he sat down on the edge of the bed near his brother.

He watched Dean sigh as he rubbed a tired hand over his face and said, "Thank God, I'm so ready to get the hell outta this place."

Dean may have been in hospital for the last week and a half resting but still, lines of exhaustion marred his face. Sam knew his brother had been running on empty for too long now, he was driving himself into the ground and it was time to do something about it before it was too late.

"You know Dean," he began cautiously and waited until Dean's eyes made contact with his own, "I've been thinking."

"Uh-oh" was the simultaneous reply from all three Winchesters before him, quickly followed by a burst of giggles and then a low groan from Dean as the effort pulled at his injuries.

He clutched his side as he waited for the pain to subside and opened his eyes to the sudden silence in the room where he was greeted with three sets of concerned eyes from his family that his sudden actions had warranted.

Ignoring the silent question each of them were demanding Dean righted himself in the chair again careful to show no sign of further pain before slightly waving his hand and prompting his brother to continue, "Go on….."

"Well ah," Sam began watching his brother, not for a moment deceived by his show but knowing better than to call him on it, "I was thinking maybe, that we could, you know, go for a vacation or something."

As expected the only reaction he received was a raised eyebrow.

"You know like a holiday. Sarah and I could take time off work and we could" he paused shrugging weakly, "go away?"

"Away?"

"Yea like do the tourist thing."

"Tourist thing?"

Dean's look was disheartening.

"Go to the beach even?" he gave a weak final attempt and wondered how on earth he ever managed to work the floor in a courtroom.

Dean went to open his mouth and Sam thought he was just going to hear another repeat when Dean stopped himself and paused as if actually considering Sam's idea.

"I wouldn't have to do shorts would I?"

Rolling his eyes Sam smiled at the thought of Dean soaking up the rays on the beach in biker boots, jeans and jacket completely comfortable by the barely clad people surrounding him.

"Do shorts for what?" Sarah questioned stopping Sam of any reply as she walked into the room pushing a wheelchair in front of her.

Dean eyed the chair with disgust before choosing to ignore its sudden presence, "Sammy here has decided that a vacation is in order."

"Really?" she questioned as she gave her husband a knowing look.

"So are we ready to go."

"Yep, papers all signed and accounted for, we just gotta pick the meds up on the way back to the motel."

"Thank God," Dean sighed again as he slowly raised himself from the chair protesting the help that Sam went to offer but allowing Katie to grasp his hand as she took her brother's in her other and looked expectantly to her parents.

"As soon as you plonk your butt in that chair Mister." Sarah said motioning to the wheelchair.

"Sarah…."

"Now Dean!" she firmly said crossing her arms across her chest giving him her 'don't mess with me look'.

"I think you better do as Mommy says." Katie whispered to him clearly understanding the look her mother was giving her Uncle.

Sighing as if he was the one doing them a huge favour he lowered himself into the awaiting chair before holding his hand out to his niece and nephew who quickly but carefully hoisted themselves onto his lap. "Might as well milk this for all his worth," he smirked at Sarah as she playfully smacked his shoulder making her way around to the back of the chair.

"You know Dean, maybe Sam was onto something with this whole vacation thing." she said as her husband picked up Dean's bag and made his way to his wife. "And if you don't wanna go to the beach, we could always go camping." she quickly added with a an evil grin that turned into laughter as she was answered by the simultaneous cry of the remaining Winchesters.

"No camping!"

The End.

Yay (does a little dance) all finished. I really hope you enjoyed this just as much as I've enjoyed writing it, it really has been a labour of love.

I would like to thank everyone who has stuck by me and read this and huge squishy hugs go out to all those who took the time to review - they really do motivate and inspire - it's not just a rumour it really is true :0)

Please tell me how you felt about the last chapter and I'm off now to try my hand at another - this writing thing really is addictive.

Storm