Author's note: I have done a little research about this on-line but am by no means a medical expert, so apologies for any inaccuracies! Hope you like it :)
Sam glanced down at his watch for what had to be the hundredth time in the last 10 minutes and let out another frustrated sigh. The corridor he'd been pacing along ever since the medical team had rushed his brother out of sight felt claustrophobic, but there was no way he was going to leave, even for a second, to get some air.
He knew Dean was gonna kill him for bringing him to a hospital but right now he would happily listen to his brother bitch about it for hours if it meant he was ok.
If he closed his eyes he could still see Dean flying through the air and crashing into a tree with a sickening crunch. Only years of training had enabled him to maintain just enough composure to finish the salt and burn the spirit currently attacking them was so opposed to, and the flames had barely caught before he was running across the cemetery to where Dean had fallen.
As he'd placed shaking fingers against Dean's neck he'd literally held his breath, relief flooding through him when he'd felt a pulse after what seemed like an eternity. He hadn't been overly alarmed by the blood that had soaked the collar of Dean's shirt – they'd both had enough head injuries over the years for Sam to know how much they bled – but what had scared him was how unresponsive he'd been. There'd not been a flicker to Sam's frantic pleas for Dean to wake up, not even when Sam had carried him over his shoulder to where the Impala was parked just outside the cemetery gates.
He'd laid Dean gently in the passenger seat and only his brother's voice in his head warning him about damaging his baby had made him drive with the vaguest hint of caution. Any concern about cops or Feds was overwhelmed by fear Dean might be really hurt and Sam had already decided he could deal with whatever consequences there might be just as long as he knew his brother was going to be alright.
Another glance at his watch told him only a minute had passed since his last check. Chewing his lip he finally dropped into one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs, his gaze straying back to the double doors through which Dean had disappeared. There had been no eyebrows raised at how the injury had occurred, the doctors accepting without question that Dean had simply taken a tumble down some stone steps. Their fake insurance details had been given, questions answered, and now Sam had nothing to do except wait.
He really wished he hadn't had so much practice at that where Dean was concerned.
Suddenly the doors opened and Sam was out his chair before the doctor even came through them fully.
"Mr Anderson?" said the doctor, holding out his hand as he approached Sam.
Sam took it absently, interested only in what the man had to say.
"Yes. How's my brother?" he said, every muscle in his body tense as he waited for the answer.
"Well, the good news is he woke up a little while ago. He's very groggy, but he knew where he was and answered the majority of questions we asked him correctly. We gave him a scan and there's no sign of any skull fracture or bleeding on the brain. He has been vomiting but that's fairly common after such a blow to the head. He is however also suffering from what we call temporary vertigo. Basically the symptoms are the same as with regular vertigo – vomiting, severe dizziness, trouble with balance - the difference is these symptoms will disappear with time, usually within a few days but occasionally up to a few months."
Sam frowned anxiously. "So what does that mean?" he said and the doctor smiled reassuringly.
"It means that your brother is going to be feel pretty awful until this clears up, but there should be no lasting ill effects and none of the symptoms are life threatening. We would prefer to keep him in overnight for observation, although he's made it fairly clear he's not keen on that idea."
Sam couldn't help smirking at that. He could well imagine what Dean's reaction had been to hearing that particular gem.
"So he'll be ok to leave tomorrow?" he asked and the doctor nodded.
"Barring any complications, yes. He'll need to take it easy but that most likely won't be an issue anyway given the symptoms he's going to be dealing with." he said.
You really don't know my brother thought Sam but aloud he said "Can I see him?"
"Of course. We're just getting a bed arranged upstairs but if you'll just follow me I can take you to him now. He's been asking about you actually." said the doctor as he began to walk back towards the doors.
Sam shook his head fondly as he followed him. Of course Dean had been asking about him. It was as predictable as the sun coming up that despite whatever injuries Dean might have his first concern was always going to be his little brother.
It was both comforting and insanely frustrating.
As he showed Sam to a curtained area where Dean was the doctor said something about being back to check on him later, but Sam wasn't really listening anymore. All he was interested in was seeing for himself that Dean really was ok.
As he pulled back the curtain and stepped inside he was a little shocked by the first sight of his brother.
Dean was lying on the bed, clad in a hospital gown that had replaced the bloodied shirt he'd come in with, his eyes closed and his face pale. His hands, Sam noticed, were clenched around the thin blanket that was covering him almost as if he was holding on to it like a life-raft. He hadn't even reacted yet to Sam's arrival and Sam felt his stomach clench as he wondered if the doctors had somehow missed something.
"Dean?" he said softly as he approached the bed.
Dean's eyes snapped open and he turned his head towards Sam, only for what little colour had been left in his face to suddenly drain from it. Sam's quick thinking meant he already had a plastic bowl - clearly left on the table for such an occurrence - in front of Dean seconds before he actually started to throw up.
Sam grimaced but as he slid an arm round Dean's shoulders to support him he said nothing, knowing his brother wouldn't appreciate any soothing – and to his mind, girly – words of comfort and instead letting his presence provide some of that instead.
Once Dean had finished Sam helped him lie back down and put the bowl as far out of reach as possible. Turning back to Dean, Sam saw he was lying totally still and his eyes were now open but staring at the ceiling as if there was about to be some sort of exam on the type of tiling the hospital had used.
Stepping close to the bed and leaning over so he was in Dean's field of vision, Sam gave a relieved smile.
"So I guess asking how are you would be a dumb question right now?" he teased gently and Dean's gaze flicked to him very carefully and very slowly.
"Do me a favour and imagine me rolling my eyes right now, would you?" he said dryly and although his voice sounded weaker than Sam would have liked the response was pure Dean and Sam couldn't stop himself chuckling.
As far as he was concerned sarcasm had never sounded so good.
"So I talked to the doctor and he says they're keeping you in overnight." he said and Dean snorted.
"That's what they think. Come on Sam, no way I need to stay here just for a bang on the head." he said and now it was Sam's turn to snort.
"Right. Cos it's not like just looking in my direction just made you throw up." he said dryly and Dean sighed.
"I knew you were gonna make a big deal out of this." he said and Sam raised his eyebrows.
"A big deal? Dean, do you have any idea how hard you hit that tree? Or how long you were unconscious for? You scared the hell out of me, man, and as far as I'm concerned if the doctor says you need to stay overnight then you are staying overnight." he said firmly.
Dean knew there was no point arguing with Sam when he used that tone of voice. Plus, annoyingly, his brother had a point. Right now even moving his eyes let alone his head made him feel as if he was on a boat stuck in a storm.
"Did they ask any awkward questions?" he said, wanting to make sure at least that their little trip to the ER hadn't attracted any unwanted attention and Sam shook his head.
"No. I said you fell down some concrete steps and no one said a thing. What name did you give when they asked you?" he said and Dean smirked.
"Dean Anderson." he said and Sam looked surprised.
"How did you know I'd go for that card?" he said, curiously.
"Because I'm your big brother." said Dean and Sam laughed, even as he shook his head again.
Sometimes it amazed even him how in tune they could be most of the time.
At that moment the curtains were pulled back and two orderlies came in. They cheerfully announced Dean's overnight accommodation was ready and began to move the bed slowly towards the corridor.
Clearly they'd been told about Dean's vertigo, given the care with which they moved, but Sam could see despite that Dean was still struggling with any movement at all. He watched as his brother swallowed several times, clearly fighting the urge to be sick.
Sam felt frustrated there was nothing he could do to make this better, but instinctively he reached out and put his hand on top of Dean's. Given Dean's usual aversion to personal contact Sam was unprepared for the way he grabbed hold of it and held on so tightly Sam was in danger of losing circulation. He knew Dean must be feeling really bad to do something so drastic, so he said nothing and simply held on hoping that he was at least providing some sort of anchor in the storm Dean was currently trapped in.
By the time the orderlies were positioning Dean's bed in a small room on the second floor, Sam's hand had gone numb. He smiled gratefully at them and murmured thanks as they both left the room. Turning his attention back to Dean he put his other hand lightly on Dean's arm.
"Hey. We're here, Dean." he said quietly and Dean opened his eyes then shut them again, tightly.
"Damn, Sammy, could you turn down the light?" he said and Sam cursed himself for not having thought of that on the way in.
"Just a second." he said, managing to prise his hand out of Dean's grip.
He crossed over to the door quickly and flicked the light switch next to it. For a moment the room was lit only by the glow from the corridor coming through the window, but then Sam switched on the lamp that sat on the cabinet next to Dean's bed. Walking back over to the window he closed the blinds, to both shut out the extra light and give Dean some privacy, and then went back over to the bed.
"All done." he said and Dean opened his eyes again.
Although he grimaced briefly he was able to keep them open this time and he swallowed a couple more times as his stomach churned rebelliously.
"I swear to God Sam, I am never going on a rollercoaster ever again." he groaned and Sam winced sympathetically.
"The doctor said it will wear off." he said, deliberately leaving out the possibility that it could take months. He crossed his fingers and said a prayer that in Dean's case it was a matter of days, if not hours preferably.
"Terrific. I'd do a happy dance but I think my head might fall off." said Dean and Sam rolled his eyes.
"Well at least your so called sense of humour is intact." he said and Dean glared at him. Or rather did the best imitation of a glare he could, given the fact he couldn't actually focus on Sam right now.
"Bite me." he said and Sam just chuckled.
Any humour in the situation disappeared though as Dean grimaced in pain and shut his eyes again, clearly feeling another wave of dizziness hit him.
Sam put his hand on Dean's shoulder and squeezed it, knowing nothing he could say right now would make him feel better. He felt helpless and wished he had some kind of magic wand he could wave to make it all go away.
He really was starting to get more than a little pissed off at the way the universe kept knocking his brother around like this.
"Do you want me to get the nurse to give you something for the pain?" said Sam softly and Dean almost shook his head before he remembered that would really not be a good idea right now.
"No. They already gave me something earlier anyway." he said and Sam frowned, knowing that for all he knew Dean could have refused anything stronger than an aspirin.
"Why don't you try and get some sleep then? It's pretty late." he said, glancing at his watch and seeing that it was almost midnight.
Dean sighed. "I would if the room would stop spinning for five seconds." he said, sounding weary and frustrated.
Sam hated hearing him sound so exhausted and cursed the luck that had turned a simple salt and burn into such an ordeal for his brother.
"Just try to relax – focus on something else." he said aloud and Dean opened one eye long enough to stare incredulously in Sam's general direction.
"Dude, if you start quoting any of that meditation crap or telling me how to breathe I will hurl again." he said and Sam rolled his eyes.
"Nice, Dean. I'm trying to help you here." said Sam dryly and Dean sighed but closed his eyes again anyway.
Knowing he was chancing bodily harm but willing to take the risk anyway, Sam put his hand back on top of Dean's, and with his thumb began to make a soothing motion back and forth across the back of Dean's hand. Either Dean was too miserable to care about the touchy-feely moment or he was storing it up for retribution later. Either way Sam didn't care if it actually did some good.
Dean still felt like he was floating in stormy sea, buffeted by wave after wave, but he had to admit what Sam was doing was distracting and also kind of comforting.
Although that admittance was so not going any further than his own mind.
He tried to concentrate on the soothing motion and gradually he felt himself start to drift off. He wanted to say something to Sam, tell him he should go back to the motel room for the night at least, but he couldn't get his brain to cooperate and as he felt himself falling asleep properly he realised part of him was actually kind of glad to have Sam there with him.
He really was never gonna live this down.
Sam watched as Dean's breathing grew heavier and more even, and he saw Dean's face gradually relax until finally he was asleep. He kept up the movement on Dean's hand for a while longer though, not above admitting to himself that he was finding the contact as comforting as Dean probably was.
Once he was sure Dean was asleep properly he moved his hand and sat back in the chair. Now the adrenaline was wearing off he was pretty exhausted himself. Nearly losing your brother, AGAIN, tended to take it out of a person he reflected a little bitterly.
He supposed he should be grateful that things hadn't turned out as badly as they could have. Trouble was it was hard to feel grateful about anything when Dean was suffering once again simply because they'd been doing the right thing and putting a vengeful spirit to rest.
Not for the first time recently he wished he could protect Dean from all this. For all Dean's protests that it was his job to protect Sam, Sam felt the same way about his big brother, even though he dare not voice that opinion out loud.
At least not in Dean's presence anyway.
His self flagellation was interrupted by a huge yawn and realising he was helping no one by sitting here brooding over what had happened, Sam settled down in the chair and prepared to sleep watchfully by Dean's side.