Disclaimer: Unfortunately, Dean, Sam and John nor anything else Supernatural is mine. Rose Butler I do lay claim to, but she exists only in my imagination so... if anyone knows different, you've got the wrong Rose Butler.

Summary: Someone helps Dean recover post Season 1 finale.

Author's Notes: This story follows a long time after 'Hope for a Child'. It may shed light on some events and reactions if you have read that story before reading this. This story also follows Season 1 - which means that IMTOD didn't happen...

Thank you to Rae Artemis.

Chapter One

It had been her decision, she had put herself in this position, or so she told herself anyway. That wasn't quite how it happened but it was near enough to pass as the truth. She had bemoaned her lot once too often within her son, Andrew's hearing. He'd heard the complaint before - the "I'm not dead, I just retired that's all." He'd shrugged and then said, "So do something about it?"

"Like what?" she'd said, years of teaching had left her unused to 'spare time'. There had always been that little something extra that she could do for little Jimmy or Amanda or one of her other young charges for the year. And then she'd retired and there'd been nothing.

She hadn't noticed straight off because it had been like an extended summer break at first, she'd spring-cleaned the house, the garden, she'd gone on holiday, she'd met friends for lunch, gone for long walks and read her way through the huge pile of books she'd accumulated with never enough time before to get through as many as she'd bought, and then she'd woken up one day with the house and garden clean, no plans for lunch, no books left to read and a gale blowing that kept her indoors and so had begun her spiraling descent into the depression that was "life after retirement" or more accurately "lack of life after retirement".

She'd been almost a month into her funk when Andrew reached the end of his tether and told her to do something about it.

Despairingly, she'd almost cried, "What? What can I do? I've retired."

He'd answered, "Yeah, retired, you're not dead is what you said. So volunteer put something back for all of your years of health and happiness. I've heard of this project down at the hospital, they get people to go and read or talk to patients, particularly the isolated ones. The thinking behind it is that the extra attention encourages a quick recovery. They're looking for people to help, you're used to reading to people, it'd be something to do and you can choose how much time you spend. I think they ask for a minimum commitment of an hour a week. So what do you think?"

"I don't know."

"Whatever, think about it, let me know if you're interested." It hadn't taken long for her to decide that she was interested, anything to fill in a few hours of the week. They'd started her off reading to a few old dears who were in for hip replacements and the like. She had to admit after a month that not only was it doing her good but it seemed to do exactly what had been suggested as her 'patients' seemed to bounce back quicker than others on the same wards - not that she really know the ins and outs as such of their conditions.

Then it happened, it was spread all over the local news and papers. Everybody in town was talking about it. "The crash" they called it. At first she'd thought it was a bit extreme then she'd seen the photos of the wreck, read the story and she, like everyone else, had been amazed that anyone had been brought out alive, let alone that all three men were clinging to life.

She, like everyone else, had been surprised to hear talk of the two who had recovered, one released, the other counting down the days until he would be freed from the hospital. She'd been pleased, happy to hear that despite the odds they'd come through. The papers no longer mentioned the third man in any more detail other than to say he was still in hospital and had not yet made any significant recovery. The driver of the semi was dealt with throughout in the derogatory terms the locals felt he deserved.

That is when she had been approached by one of the I.C.U. staff. They'd heard how well she was doing, the positive effect the visits and attention had had on 'her' patients and would she consider reading to this young man they had in. She'd listened carefully as they'd explained how this would be different to her other patients, how this would be a radical step as the patient was still unconscious. They'd warned her what to expect in terms of machinery, in terms of his reaction, but it hadn't been enough - nothing could ever be enough to prepare anyone for a sight like that. The stillness of the man's body, the paleness, only a fraction more colour than the stark white of the sheets that covered him. But it was the stillness most of all - a man like this shouldn't be that still.

She'd walked straight back out of his room on her first visit, unable to stay, to see the waste of such a young life. Straight back out and into the arms of a young nurse. The nurse had taken her and sat her down, given her coffee and talked to her a while, convinced her that for all the reasons why she hadn't been able to stay, they were the reasons why he needed her to stay. She didn't know him, but all of a sudden she'd felt the rush the nurse spoke of, the need to help the young man. It wasn't much, but she could read to him.

"How do you know it's even worth it?" she'd asked.

The nurse had explained that they could measure brain activity. He wasn't dead inside yet. She'd explained how at times he could breathe on his own, but that it was as if his body couldn't remember to do it when he was 'asleep' within his coma and so they kept the ventilator attached all the time. There had been significant brain activity, when the other two men spoke to him although, at first, not when anyone else spoke, however, it seemed as he grew to recognize voices, so his brain would show increased activity when they were present but there was no outward signs as yet.

The young nurse had grasped her hand saying, "Please Miss Rose. I know you already do so much but it just... it seems wrong seeing him there and ... I know we're not supposed to get attached but I just feel like we should be doing whatever we can."

She'd steeled herself and walked straight back in, bracing herself for a start reminding herself how she'd felt at the beginning of each new academic year facing new children, new parents and all the new challenges that would accompany them and wondering whether she would be equal to the task.

Taking a deep breath, she sat down next to the still form and resting her hand lightly on his arm, she began to talk, "Hey Dean. You don't know me, but the hospital staff have asked me to come visit you. My name is Rosalyn, Rosalyn Butler but most people here call me Rose or even Miss Rose, which makes feel really old. Mind you, compared to most staff, I probably am really old. What I do is visit people to chat or to read to them, stops me feeling bored at home with nothing to do. Anyway they figure that you can't get away so it might keep me out of everyone's hair for a while if I read to you. I'll be honest with you, I'm not going to stop long today, I just thought I would pop in and introduce myself but I haven't got a book to read to you, so I figure I'll nip into town to find one. The people I read to normally are much older than you, they like all those historical romance novels and that doesn't strike me as your sort of thing, so I'll go and see what they suggest down in town." She chatted for a while longer before she left , telling him about the weather and things that had been happening in the town.

On her way out, she caught sight of the young nurse who came hurrying towards her. "Leaving now Miss Rose? Will you... will you come back again at some point?" Rosalyn heard the nervous edge to her voice.

"I will. I am off into the bookstore as we speak to try and find something a young man might enjoy. I don't think he'd be up for one of those soppy romances I read to Mrs Hodges, do you?"

"So we'll see you again in a couple of days' time?"

"Maybe even tomorrow," she said, pleased with the relief she saw in the nurse's eyes.