Chapter 24: Open Your Eyes

"Sammy?" A soft female voice broke the silence. "Sammy. It's time to wake up now. Open your eyes."

Sam struggled to obey, but he couldn't seem to muster the strength. Instead, he strained to hear the voice again. The voice that sounded so familiar, so loving.

"It's okay, baby," she said. "Just try to open your eyes."

Sam recognized the voice. It was his mother! Was she there with him? Where was he? What was going on? Was he dead or alive? What about Dean? Was Dean okay? Did he kill Dean? What did he do? What did he do?

His racing thoughts were suddenly railroaded by such incredible, agonizing pain that he couldn't help the moan that escaped his lips.

"He's finally waking up, doctor," a muffled male voice said.

"Is my brother okay?" Dean asked for the hundreth time as nurses and doctors bustled around him and the other sorry souls stuck in the ER of the Jackson County Public Hospital at the 8AM hour.

He hated hospitals and he especially hated public hospitals. Was it possible that his face and body hurt even more since they arrived over five hours ago? He'd been poked and prodded by so many hands that you'd think they'd thought he was the one near death instead of Sam. Bruised ribs, stitches, contusions, blah, blah, blah. He'd had enough. He had to find out what was going on with Sam. Dean swung his legs over the bed when he noticed something very important was missing.

"HAS ANYONE SEEN MY CLOTHES?" Dean yelled in frustration.

Again, no one answered. Dean shook his head before spying a pair of blue scrubs through an open door of a nearby supply closet. He smiled. He knew exactly how to get the answers he wanted. Paging Dr. Dean to the OR, he thought as held his gown closed and hopped off of the gurney to get changed.

"Dean!" Bobby hissed as he threw down the year old magazine when he saw Dean rush by, partly hunched over, past the waiting room doorway.

Bobby's back protested when he jumped up from the uncomfortable plastic chair to catch up with him.

"Where in the hell do you think you're going? And where'd you get that get-up?" Bobby asked after pulling Dean back into the large waiting area.

"Bobby, they won't tell me anything about Sam! I just wanted to find out how he's doing," Dean started to explain.

"Ellicot? Ellicot!" Someone called from the other side of the room.

"Just wait here with me. They have to tell us something soon. You won't do anyone any good running around the hospital stirring up trouble with one of your schemes. We're lucky the monk took care of the cops for us," Bobby reminded him.

"I know," Dean said. "But its been hours and these doctors-."

"ELLICOT!" Someone yelled out again.

"Wait! That's us!" Dean exclaimed as he turned to where the voice was coming from.

With so many aliases, even Dean sometimes forgot his name of the day. A doctor in green scrubs and a white jacket holding a clipboard turned to leave.

"Hey!" Dean yelled, hurrying through the throngs of people and rows of chairs. "Ellicot! Right here!"

"Dean, take it easy!" Bobby said as he grabbed Dean's arm after he stumbled over a sleeping man's outstretched legs.

"Mr. Ellicot, my name is Dr. Snyder. Please follow me," he said.

Bobby and Dean followed the middle aged man into a private waiting room two doors down the stark white hallway. Same back breaking plastic chairs, Bobby noticed as they sat down. He just hoped that the news they were about to hear was all good.

"How is he? How's my brother?" Dean asked quickly to avoid any further introductions or niceties.

"The surgery went very well and he is conscious now. He lost a lot of blood, which we replaced during surgery, and we were able to remove the bullet and close up the wound without any major complications. He is one lucky young man. He must have a a few guardian angels watching over him. He should make a full...physical recovery, but-," Dr. Snyder explained before pausing.

The smile quickly left Dean's face. He hated the tone in the doctor's voice. That tone was never good. What could be wrong if Sam was alive?

"The road back for Sam will not be short or easy," his father had said.

Dean shook his head, as if it was that easy to erase his father's words from his memory.

"But what?" Dean asked, prompting him to continue, bracing himself for the answer.

The doctor sighed as if thinking how he could dumb it down for Bobby and Dean.

"But…he does not seem to be appropriately responding to stimuli in his environment. For example, he does not track objects, follow commands, or answer questions.We are running a battery of tests now and preliminary results have ruled out a stroke. Extreme psychological not uncommon following a life threatening injury, and that may be what's causing your brother's current difficulties. We'll continue to run more tests and we'll have a better idea after the first twenty four to forty eight hours."

"Look, can we just see him?" Dean asked, cutting off the doctor from continuing. "He'll be okay when he sees me," Dean decided as he stood.

"Take the elevator to the second floor. The ICU is to the right through the double doors. The attending doctor will be in later to see speak with you," the doctor said.

Dean was already out of the room before Bobby was finished shaking Dr. Snyder's hand.

Dean slammed the button and waited for the ICU's automatic doors to open. He stepped inside and saw about ten private rooms circling a large nurse's station, all with glass walls allowing unobstructed views to the patients inside. He scanned across the area until he saw his little brother in the sixth room to the right. Everything was quieter here and Dean did not run this time, feeling as if any sudden movements could cause someone to immmediately go into cardiac arrest.

He paused in the doorway to his brother's room and swallowed, willing himself not to be discouraged by the doctor's words. Sam was sleeping, a heart monitor nearby beeping a steady rhythm. A clear solution of some kind in a bag hung on a tall metal poll and dripped into his brother through an IV. Dean eased himself into the nearby chair, grunting softly. Sam stirred and his eyelids fluttered open.

"Sam?" Dean asked, placing his hand on Sam's arm, carefull to not disrupt anything.

Sam's pale face showed no emotion, as if it was made out of stone. He did not answer Dean and his eyes, although partially open now, did not look at him. They didn't seem to be looking at anything. Raw fear began to form in the pit of Dean's stomach.

"Talk to me Sam, please. I'm okay. You're okay. Everybody's fine now," Dean said reassuringly.

Sam still did not answer. What could be wrong if Sam was alive? Dean asked himself again. He was so afraid of the answer, but whatever it was, he would find it.

The End

Surprise! This is the end of "Burden", but stay tuned for the continuation of this story in the sequel "Bring Me to Life." I hope all of you are looking forward to more! Thanks to EVERYONE for reading and reviewing. I couldn't have done it without your support!