Disclaimer: I think we all know the drill by now. Repeat after me: I do not own supernatural, the characters and show belong to their respective creators, actors and everyone in between.

Author's Notes: Thanks out to my super betas for working their magic quickly on this and the previous chapter. Heather was just back from the LA con and lynxlan is going with me on vacation tomorrow. Thanks girls!!

Also thanks out to everyone who reviewed or put on their alerts. There were some fabulous reviews and some incredible nudging PM's throughout this story. Reviews keeps me going, excited about writing, and posting. Thanks guys.

This is the final chapter of this story. There may be, at some point in the near future, a one shot with Dean recovering at Bobby's. That's not definite but I'm beginning to toss the idea around in my mind.

Read and enjoy. Thanks for sticking with me on this long twisted ride.


Chapter 21

By infinite shadow

Several days later Dean was getting antsy. He wanted to get out of there and away from all the machinery and tubing. Plus Sammy was still having problems with his concussion. His brother had improved over the few days but still had issues on leaving his older brother. He wanted to look after his brother but it was hard when Sam was having nightmares in the motel and he was stuck here in the hospital.

Ramsey was staring at the younger teen waiting for the boy to leave. "Sam you know the drill by now. You have enough time to take a walk around the ward, or sit outside the room. Dean's not going anywhere but I need to do some tests. Same as every other morning he's been here," the doctor said getting exasperated.

"Dean doesn't mind if I stay," Sam said crossing his arms over his chest defiantly. "So I'm staying."

"Sammy," Dean said as loud as he could. His voice was slowly returning but it was still very low and hoarse. "Dude seriously. I can handle this. Just wait outside for a few minutes will you? I'll be fine."

Sam turned to his brother and frowned. "But Caleb said to watch you until they got back. He had to make sure Pastor Jim didn't leave with all his stuff."

"I know," Dean said patiently seeing the surprise and hurt in his brother's face. "Look you've done a great job looking after me buddy. But there are some things I need to ask the doc and well I'd kinda like to do it in private."

Sam frowned and then his eyes opened wide. "You really don't want me here?" He asked softly and his cheeks reddened.

Ramsey fought to keep a straight face. "Sam you realize it's customary for a patient to have full confidentiality between him and his doctor?"

"Well yeah but its Dean. He wouldn't leave it if were me," the thirteen year old reasoned as he backed up to the bed. "I won't leave now."

Dean closed his eyes, took a breath and counted to five. When he opened his eyes he found Sam glaring at the doctor. With a shake of his head he wrapped an arm around his little brother and pulled him back putting him off balance. "Sam wait outside. I mean it. Don't go anywhere and don't talk to anyone. When Ramsey's done you can come back in. But this has to stop little man."

Sam easily twisted around so he was facing Dean. The movement hurt but he strained not to let it show. "But you'd sit with me if the doctor was doing tests," he whispered.

"Sure if you wanted me to," Dean said easily. "But I'm ok with being on my own with the doctor. Sides there are some things you don't need to see."

"I want to make sure you're ok," Sam said his head ducking down slightly.

Dean couldn't help the small smile that graced his face. "I know buddy and I'm getting there. Just do as I ask, ok?" He asked softly.

Sam looked at his brother for a minute before finally nodding. He looked miserable about it but he turned and left the room.

"Thanks Sam," Ramsey said as the boy passed him.

"Whatever," Sam growled.

Ramsey smiled at his response.

Dean waited for him to leave then looked at Ramsey. "So how are you going to torture me this morning?"

Ramsey half huffed half laughed as his lips quirked up slightly. "If I really wanted to torture you Dean you'd still have the breathing tube in," he shot back.

The sixteen year old rolled his eyes.

"Is your brother always this clingy?" Ramsey asked seriously. The boy was thirteen and hated to leave his brother for any reason.

"No. Not even close. Usually he's all energy, pissiness and angsty teenager anger," Dean said with a snort. "This is just his concussion."

"You say that like you know exactly how he reacts. This isn't his first concussion is it?" Ramsey asked.

"No it's not. He's had a couple over the years from play ground accidents to a car accident when he was around five years old. He cries cause he can't help it and he gets clingy cause he's scared. In a week or two you won't even recognize him," Dean said softly. "Now then when can I be released from this joint?"

"Not for a while yet," the doctor said.

"Fine. I want the catheter tube out and I want out of bed," Dean said moodily. "I'm tired of lying around."

"You do huh?" The doctor said as he crossed his arms over his chest. "Let me put this into perspective for you. Without the nasal cannula providing you with oxygen you wouldn't make it across the room to the bathroom. Your legs aren't currently strong enough to carry your weight and your body has no fuel to run on. You won't be able to take one step before you collapse to the floor."

Dean frowned at the words and looked down at his legs before looking back at the doctor. He glared at the doctor. How dare he call him weak?

"Look it doesn't take all that long for your muscles to atrophy when they're not in use," Ramsey said gently. He understood this normally active teen was not accustomed to lying about all day and the frustration that came with it.

"That's fine. Dad'll help me with that," Dean said confidently.

"He will?" Ramsey said surprised. "The last I checked he was a bounty hunter not a doctor or therapist."

"I want out," Dean almost growled.

"I get that Dean. I really do. But it needs to happen in stages."

Dean's head thumped back on the pillows as he sighed overdramatically. "How long?" He whined.

"Another couple of days at least. I'll get a hospital therapist to come in and work your muscles a bit. You're weak and we need to build up your strength before we decide when you'll be released," the doctor said.

"Fine," he said softly then glared at the doctor. "I want the catheter out now or I'm takin it out."

Ramsey shook his head. "Ok I'll make you a deal."

"No way man. Your deals suck," Dean shot right back.

"No they don't," Ramsey said. "Your arm swabs are coming back with good numbers and your blood pressure and oxygen levels have been strong. If your numbers are still strong this afternoon we can cut back on some of those meds and take out the catheter. But only if your numbers stay strong."

"What's stopping me from just taking it out when you leave the room?" Dean asked.

Ramsey raised his eye brows as if he were considering what Dean said. "Fine. Go ahead. But you can kiss any chances of having sex good-bye," he said and turned to walk out of the room.

"What?!" Dean said with his eyes wide.

Ramsey turned back to him. "Well pulling out your breathing tube did some damage didn't it?"

"Well, yeah," Dean answered.

"Ok then consider the kind of damage you can do on that most sensitive part of your anatomy," Ramsey said and turned back to the doorway. "Nancy can you give me a hand in here?"

"Sure doc. Be there in a minute," she said as she closed up a patient's file.

"Can I go back in now?" Sam asked.

"Not yet buddy. Just a few more minutes," Ramsey said and turned back into the room. He had to hold back a chuckle as he saw his patient biting his lip and looking down into his lap. The doctor cleared his throat.

Dean looked over at him with a horrified expression. "This … won't… I mean… I'll be able…," he said starting to breathe a little faster.

"It won't damage you unless you try and take it out on your own," Ramsey said as he made a show of opening Dean's medical file and reading up on the notes. He looked back up to see Dean had his eyes closed.

"Doc?" He asked softly.


"Really. How much longer?" Dean asked tiredly.

"Honestly I don't know. It could be as little as two more days here or as many as five. It's a guessing game at the moment. It all depends on how your daily tests go," he answered. "But I should be able to remove the catheter tube this afternoon."

"Ok," Dean said.

A short while later just after the nurse and doctor left Sam hurried into the room. His brother's eyes were closed and he went up to the bed as quietly as he could. "Dean?" He whispered not sure if he was sleeping or not.

Dean sighed and opened his eyes. It took him a moment to move his head to look at his little brother. "What Sammy?" He said softly.

"I know this totally sucks out loud but don't give the doctor too much of a hard time ok?" Sammy asked.

"Why not?" Dean asked as he turned his head to stare up at the ceiling. This did suck. He was bored and the doctor kept poking and prodding at all his sore spots. And the wrong nurses kept giving him sponge baths.

"I'll keep you stocked," Sam said grinning.

""Yeah?" Dean asked guardedly as he turned back to look at his little brother. "With what?"

Sam ducked slightly and grinned to wide that his dimples showed. Happy he could do something to make things easier for his big brother he pulled out a small bag of M&M's.

"Dude really?" Dean said as he couldn't help but smile. Finally a little contraband to brighten up his day. With any luck Caleb got him a skin magazine or at least a really good car magazine with all those sexy women around, under or on top of the cars.

Sam shrugged. "Yeah," he said as he carefully opened the package.

Dean held out his hand and frowned as his brother didn't hand over the candy. "Well?"

"You haven't eaten in a while. Just eat one to see how it sits.If you get sick then they'll keep you here longer and if Dad finds out he'll kill me," Sammy said.

"Yeah but it'd be totally worth it," Dean said.

Sam rolled his eyes. "For you," he said but dug into the bag and pulled out one candy coated peanut.

"Well at least it's blue," Dean said and put it in his mouth. He sucked on the candy for a moment then chewed it before grimacing as he swallowed.

Sam watched worriedly. "Well?"

Dean shrugged slightly.

"Sammy if I had thought those were for Dean I would have gotten just chocolate," Caleb said as he came into the room. "Stow it runt the nurse is coming."

The young teen shoved the package into his jeans. "Not a runt," he grumbled under his breath.


True to his word Ramsey had a physical therapist come in. He helped Dean stretch and work his muscles while still confined to a bed. As soon as Dean's strength improved the catheter that had him confined to his bed was removed. His vitals were good and he continued to work with the therapist. He was moved in short order to a regular ward bed.

In the mornings when Ramsey began his rounds Dean would already be up. A crutch under an arm and the other hand on the wood rail that lined the ward. Several times a day Dean could be seen walking the hallways most often before and after visiting hours. In these times he would look serious, hunched over slightly and looked to be struggling. But when he walked with his friends, father or especially his younger brother he would look relaxed, standing as tall as he could and his eyes would sparkle with happiness.

Three weeks after the sixteen year old had been flown to the hospital in critical condition he was finally being released.

"Yeah yeah yeah doc. I get it. Take it easy, no work outs, no straining myself, eat proper meals and take the meds," Dean said with a smile. He was sitting on his rumpled hospital bed dressed in sweats and a crutch was leaning up against the side of the bed.

Ramsey shook his head at the hopeful looking teen. He'd though it best to keep him a few more days but he could tell the teen was going stir crazy and taking it out on the nurses. The original charm was long gone replaced with teenaged frustration. Dean had healed enough to hit on the candy stripers and annoy the older nurses. The only reason he was getting the early release was for the nursing staff's sanity.

"All right you can go today," Ramsey started to say but got cut off.

"YES!" Dean shouted grinning widely as he jumped up on his good foot and grabbed his crutch. "I'm outta here."

"Wait," Ramsey said holding up a hand.

Dean's face fell.

"Visiting hours start in a half hour. You will have to wait for your family and we'll release you then," the doctor said.

"Knew there'd be a catch," Dean pouted as he sat back down on the bed.

"It's just a little longer. Why don't you wait in the playroom? At least you can watch some TV," Ramsey suggested.

"Whatever," Dean mumbled staring at the crutch leaning up next to him.

The doctor held back a smile. "Listen I promised you something after you woke up. Do you remember?"

Dean frowned and shook his head.

Ramsey pulled out a large bag of M&M's. "I know your brother's been keeping you supplied but I also know you have a long drive ahead of you in the coming days so I thought you might appreciate your own supply."

The sixteen year old smiled as he took the candy from the doctor. "Thanks," he said softly touched that the man would do something like this for him.

"Don't thank me. Just try to stay out of trouble, ok?"

"Yeah I will Doc," Dean said.

"Good man," Ramsey said and left.

Dean slowly got to his foot and put the candy into his backpack along with the rest of the few things that he'd kept with him in the room. The playboy Caleb had snuck in, the novel that Sam had picked out for him, the car magazine his father had brought in, and the Latin text Pastor Jim had brought in before he had to return to his church.

He hobbled his way down the hall and into the playroom. The TV was already on and a little boy dressed in smurf pajamas was already watching the tube. "Hey Mattie. What'cha watching?"

"Twanformers," he said in a toothless grin. "I wanna Bubblebee."

"It's Bumble Bee," Dean said as he sat down next to the kid.

"S' what I said," Mattie replied.

Dean watched the TV for a few minutes before giving the kid a side long glance. He didn't know what was wrong with the boy, nothing like a cast or bruises or stitches that he could see. He'd made friends with the little one as soon as he was moved into the ward. Kid reminded him a lot of his little brother when he was five.

Dean cleared his throat. "Mattie I'm leaving today," he said softly keeping his eyes on the TV.

The boy nodded. "Ok. Come back and visit?" He asked hopefully.

"Sorry buddy. Can't. I have to go home and it's a two day drive from here," Dean said regretfully. Really he had his hands full with Sam and his Dad but no one ever came to visit the kid and he felt bad about that.

Mattie nodded and shrugged. "S'ok."

"Mattie? Oh good you're in here," a nurse said as she came into the room and right up to them. "Time to go."

Mattie sighed softly, nodded and looked at Dean. "Bye."

Dean gave him a half smile. "Bye Mattie," he said softly.

Mattie slowly stood up and took the nurses hand. Slowly he limped out of the room and out of sight.

Dean glanced up at the clock on the wall and hoped his family would be early. They weren't. Forty five minutes later he was still watching cartoons.

Sam ran into the room. "Here you are," he said as he rushed up to him.

Dean lifted one eye brow as he looked at his brother. "Here I am."

"Ramsey said you can come back with us!" Sam said almost vibrating with excitement.

Dean leaned his head against the couch back. "How much sugar cereal did you eat this morning?"

"Two bowls," Caleb said as he came into the room with a wheel chair.

"Don't need that," Dean said as he glared at the chair then glared at Sam. "You're not driving."

"Awww come on! Caleb promised!" Sam whined.

"Hospital policy says you do and he can drive. He promised to be very careful not to tip you out or send you into a wall," Caleb said blandly as he stopped beside Dean and put the lock on the wheels. "Your chariot awaits your highness."

"I can walk. Let Sam drive you around," Dean groused.

"Get your grumpy butt into this chair, now or I'll leave you in the capable hands of all the nurses you pissed off," Caleb said.

"God you're so bitchy in the morning," Dean groused as he struggled to get up from the leather couch. He almost gave up before his brother helped him up. "Did he have coffee this morning?"

"Nope. Dad and Bobby got it all before he woke up," Sam said with a snicker.

"Brat," Caleb growled.

"You snooze you lose," Sam said then laughed as he took Dean's crutch.

Caleb shook his head and waited for Dean to settle himself into the chair. He unlocked the wheels and looked at Sam. "You're up but so help me kiddo if you do anything stupid," he said and left the threat dangling.

"I won't!" Sam huffed as he pushed the chair in a tight half circle and headed back for the door.

"Sam STOP!" Dean yelled and lurched forward slightly as Caleb reached around and yanked the wheelchair to an abrupt stop. He took a steadying breath. "Sammy do you see the doorway?"

"Yeah," Sam said.

"You're about to drive me into it," Dean growled.

"I was gonna move," Sam said then backed up slightly before pushing him through the doorway.

They made it to the nurses' station where John was talking to a nurse and Ramsey. The keys to the Impala were sitting on the counter and Caleb picked them up.

Ramsey paused a moment in his conversation with John so that he could assess his young patient. Dean was still far too pale; the only color on his face was the dark smudges of exhaustion under his eyes. He also noted the lines of pain marring his face. Knowing Dean had a long and painful ride home, the doctor came to a decision.

"Dean, before I can discharge you I have a final condition. I will be sending you home with pain medication but I also want to give you a morphine injection to make sure you're comfortable and can rest easily for your ride home."

Shaking his head no Dean glared at the doctor. "I'm fine and I don't need..."

John interrupted his son. "He'll take the medication or he won't be leaving."

Dean sighed dramatically and held out an arm for the injection. Feeling the warm rush of the medicine traveling through his system, he blinked heavily as the room started to spin.

John watched his son noting the lines of pain disappearing from his face and how he seemed to melt back into his wheelchair.

Watching Dean succumb to the pain medication Caleb knew he had to get his friend to the car before Dean fell asleep and needed to be carried out. "I'll bring the Impala around," Caleb offered.

"Don't scratch her," John said to him then looked at his boys. "Hey Dean. Just give me a moment and we'll be gone."

"Why can't we wait outside?" Sam asked.

John was about to say no but shook his head. "Ok. Just outside the door and you don't go an inch farther before Caleb's there with the car. And don't leave without me."

"OK!" Sam said and pushed the chair towards the elevators.

Caleb fell into step next to them and gently corrected the course twice before they got into the elevator.

"Sam when you want to learn how to drive don't call me," Caleb said with a shake of his head.

"That's ok. I'm sure Dean will teach me," Sam said confidently.

Dean glanced at Caleb with a glare. "In a few years Sammy," he said.

"But you could drive when you were thirteen," Sam said.

"Yeah but I was ready. You not so much," Dean said with a yawn.

Sam huffed and as the doors opened he walked out leaving Dean behind.

"Well at least he won't steer you into something," Caleb said.

"Thank you Mr. Glass half full," Dean shot back.

Caleb laughed as he pushed Dean out of the elevator and out the front door. He steered Dean off to the side next to a bench and locked down the wheels. "Don't move. I don't care what she looks like," he said with a smirk then he smacked the teen's shoulder lightly and headed out into the parking lot.

Sam sat down on the bench with a huff. This was not how he saw the morning go when he learned his brother had been released.

"Hey don't be mad. I was just jerkin your chain you big baby," Dean said. He tried to open his eyes to get a look at his brother but everything felt weighted down.

"Not mad and I don't want to drive," Sam said as he watched Caleb get smaller as he walked further away. They'd parked as far away as they could so the Impala wouldn't get damaged by a car or keyed by someone.

"S'wrong?" Dean slurred.

Sam shrugged.

"Headache?" Dean asked.

"Yeah kinda," Sam admitted softly. "But I'm ok."

Lifting heavy eyes to look over his brother, Dean blinked repeatedly trying to bring Sammy into focus. God, this is why he hated taking pain meds, it screwed with his ability to watch over his brother. "Still not sleeping either?" He questioned.

Sam shook his head slightly. "Not really. Dad's getting some more meds from the doc. They both think its part of the concussion. But it should be gone," the teen said frustration clear in his voice.

"S'alright," Dean mumbled. "It'll get better." He slumped further into his wheelchair and fought a losing battle to stay awake for his brother.

"Yeah," Sam said softly watching his big brother. As long as I have you he thought to himself.

"Well at least we'll get plenty of time to rest in the car on the way back to Pastor Jim's," Sam offered. "Dad said it's a two day drive from here?"

Nearly asleep, Dean jerked awake at the sound of Sam's voice. "Wazzat Sammy?"

Taking pity on his brother's drugged confusion Sam explained further. "Well it's closer to one day but they talked about it last night and they're breaking it up. They think it'll be too hard on us to make it in one day and Dad's still not healed properly," Sam replied.

"I'm fine Sam," John said as he joined his sons. "There's no rush to get to Jims and sometimes it's nice to take it easy on the road."

"M'fine too," Dean muttered not wanting to hold everyone back.

"I'm sure," John said as he scanned the parking lot. "What's keeping Caleb?"

"Usually a girl," Sam said.

John shook his head and rested a hand on a handle on the back of Dean's chair. "Better not be," he growled.

A few moments later the Impala pulled up to the curb. Caleb got out of the car and took Dean's bag to put into the back. John helped his son up and waited for him to be settled on the crutch before letting go. Sam jumped up and opened the back door scooting in across the bench seat and looked over holding his hand out for the crutch.

Dean frowned knowing this wasn't going to be fun. He felt Caleb's hand on his bicep and he allowed his friend to help him into the car. He swallowed back swear words as he hit his cast on the door. With a heavy sigh he slid across the seat, leaned back against his brother and closed his eyes.

As his family bantered back and forth about the car and other things in general, Dean was overcome with a sense of relief. He'd survived the worst situation he'd been in yet and he never had to return to the house that haunted his nightmares. He was surrounded by the people that mattered most to him and in two days he'd be in the safest home he'd ever known next to Bobby's. But mostly he was in the Impala and he felt a calming sense when he was with her.

Watching as Sammy hugged his brother to him John asked, "You ok Dean?"

Dean opened his eyes and met his father's concerned glance. "Yes sir. Let's go."

Sam ran his fingers through his brother's short, spiky hair feeling Dean relax into sleep against him. Yep, everything would be ok.

The End.