When Dean woke up on the third day since leaving hospital he was surprised to see it was only just after 6 o'clock. Normally it was Sam who was the early riser, but a glance across the room showed his brother was still asleep.
He lay there for a moment in the pale light, enjoying the silence. He realised he hadn't felt this rested in a long time and he reflected that maybe the enforced break hadn't been such a bad thing. It had given both of them a chance to relax and recharge, although he could have done without the vertigo bit of course. But then without that he'd have had them back on the road the day he left hospital, so perhaps it was the universe's way of forcing him to slow down.
Although the universe was gonna get it's ass kicked if it pulled a stunt like this again.
As he shifted he realised he didn't feel quite so much like he was on a moving boat. Sitting up, he tentatively rolled his head from side to side and was pleasantly surprised when the room shifted only slightly.
Deciding to chance his luck he swung his legs out of bed and very slowly stood up. He grinned when he didn't end up face down on the carpet. This was definitely going to be a good day.
Staying quiet so as not to wake Sam, he grabbed some fresh clothes from his bag and headed for the bathroom. He wasn't just being kind letting Sam sleep – he was avoiding the inevitable discussion about him taking a shower. They'd had to compromise the previous day and finally settled on a bath, with the proviso Dean kept the door unlocked.
He wasn't going to admit it to Sam but it had been a smart decision. He'd very nearly slipped when he stood to get out and his balance went again, and he had an idea that if he'd chanced a shower – standing up the whole time – he really would probably have knocked himself out again.
But now he felt relatively stable as he walked, more like he'd had a couple of beers rather than being totally drunk, and he was pretty confident that he could take a shower without killing himself. He closed the door quietly behind him.
What Sam didn't know wouldn't hurt him.
When Sam woke he kept his eyes closed for a bit, enjoying the chance to just lie in for a change. When they were on a hunt they were always on a timetable and even when they were just travelling Dean kept them on a tight schedule, always keen to get to the next job. To wake up knowing there was nothing they should be doing and nowhere they should be was kind of liberating.
As he lay there he could hear the birds singing, the odd car going by, the sound of the shower running.
The shower was running.
Sam sat up so fast for a brief second he had an idea what Dean must be going through. Throwing the blankets back and leaping out of bed he crossed the room in two strides. He was seconds away from opening the door when self preservation reminded him Dean would most likely not appreciate that very much.
So he settled for banging on the door with his fist instead.
"Dean!" he yelled.
He heard swearing followed by an indignant reply.
"What do you think you're doing?"
A pause. "Well, I think I'm taking a shower! Was that supposed to be a trick question?"
Sam closed his eyes and tried to remember if all their guns were in the Impala.
"This door better not be locked!" he warned, and he swore he could hear Dean's eye roll.
"For crying out loud, Sam! No, it's not locked but don't even think about coming in here! I'll be out in a second!"
Sam ran his hands through his hair in frustration and sat back down on his bed, fuming.
Dean leant against the wall of the shower for a second and waited for his heart to get out of his mouth. He was gonna kill Sam for that – he'd nearly had a heart attack when he heard Sam's yell.
Up till then he'd been enjoying his shower and he hadn't even felt too dizzy. Finishing washing he switched off the water, stepped out very carefully and dried himself quickly. Pulling on his jeans and t-shirt he ran a hand through his still wet hair and opened the door.
He stomped out, glaring at Sam who glared right back.
"Are you trying to kill me? You damn near gave me a heart attack when you yelled like that, Sam!" he said, before his brother could say anything.
"Me give you a heart attack? What did you think you were doing in there? If you'd slipped I wouldn't even have known about it until I woke up!" he said, sounding equally annoyed.
"Well I didn't slip, did I? God, you really do exaggerate sometimes!" said Dean as he put his sleeping clothes back in the bag.
"Exaggerate? You can't stand up on your own and yet you're taking.." Sam stopped suddenly, watching as Dean walked round normally, albeit slower and more carefully than usual.
"You're walking!" he exclaimed and Dean turned to look at him, raising his eyebrows.
"Could you not make it sound like I'm a year old and I just took my first steps? Yes, I'm walking, Sam – that's why I felt perfectly safe taking a shower." he said.
"Well why the hell didn't you say it was better this morning?" demanded Sam and Dean shook his head.
"And when should I have done that? Before or after you threw yourself at the door and yelled like a banshee?" he said dryly.
"I did not yell like a banshee."
Dean snorted. "Yeah, sure you didn't. I think people in the next State heard you, Sammy." he said, sounding amused.
Sam ignored the jibe. "So you really do feel better?" he said and Dean shrugged.
"Not 100, but better than it has been. I only get dizzy if I move my head too fast and my balance is definitely improving." he said and Sam grinned.
"That's great!" he said, sounding like Dean had just discovered the secret of the universe.
Dean knew a distraction was in order before Sam made a big deal of his recovery.
"So, since I'm feeling better why don't you get ready and we can go out for breakfast?"
Sam quelled the urge to get too excited that Dean was feeling much better, knowing it wouldn't go down well. Inside he was thrilled though.
Who'd have thought the simple act of watching his brother walk around on his own could mean so much?
Grabbing his things he showered and was ready in record time. As they went outside Dean took a deep breath of fresh air and sighed happily. It felt good to be outside after being cooped up for four days, if you included his time spent in hospital. Sam still insisted on driving and Dean wasn't feeling well enough to risk getting dizzy and crashing his baby anyway.
The drive to the Diner only took 10 minutes but Dean was pleased to find the experience much better than the last time he'd been in the car.
The woman behind the counter recognised Sam and smiled as she greeted them. Once they were sat in one of the booths she brought them both coffee and took their order. Dean sat back watching the other people, simply content to be up and about again. Sam meanwhile watched Dean, at least until his brother kicked his shin under the table without even looking at him. Sam glared and rubbed his now throbbing leg and Dean smirked, even though he still hadn't turned round.
Taking the hint, Sam turned his attention to the window and watched the cars coming and going in the parking lot. It was fairly busy even though it was still early and having sampled the food Sam could understand why.
Despite being busy it didn't take long for their breakfasts to arrive. As they tucked in Dean gestured to the outside with his fork.
"So we should probably think about our next job, now this whole thing is wearing off." he said.
Sam felt a flash of disappointment. He'd enjoyed spending this time just hanging out with his brother and he found himself wishing they got the chance to do it more often.
"Ok." he said reluctantly. "Although I'm not convinced you're up to hunting yet."
Dean frowned. "Maybe not but if we look for something down south then it'll take us a few days to get there anyway. By the time we do I'll be fine."
"I guess." said Sam and Dean chuckled.
"Don't go getting all broody there, Sammy. I'm not gonna hunt if I don't feel right, you know I wouldn't put you in danger like that." he said seriously.
Sam rolled his eyes. Right, cos putting him in danger was what he was worried about. He wished it would sometimes occur to Dean that he should have the same reservations about putting himself in danger.
They finished their breakfast and paid the bill, leaving a tip as it was the last time they'd be eating there. Sam looked wistfully at the counter as they left. Proper food had been nice for a change.
As they walked back to the Impala at a leisurely pace Dean suddenly nudged Sam with his shoulder.
"Listen, I just wanted to say, you know. Thanks. For the last few days." he said, looking awkward as always whenever forced to be serious about something.
Sam heard the words that were left unspoken though.
Thanks for taking care of me.
Thanks for looking out for me.
Thanks for not letting me fall.
He smiled. "No problem." he said simply and as Dean glanced at him he knew his brother heard the words he didn't say aloud either.
It's what I'm here for.
That's my job.
I never will.
Dean nudged Sam one more time and walked round the Impala to the passenger side.
As they pulled out of the parking lot and headed back to check out of the Motel, Dean let out a contented sigh.
He wasn't pleased about getting hurt, and vertigo was definitely not on his list of things to experience twice, but the last few days had had their moments. Whilst it wasn't something he ever wanted to get used to, relying on Sam and having his brother take care of him hadn't been as bad as he'd expected. And he knew sometimes Sam liked to feel like he was able to do something for Dean too, so it had served more than one purpose.
And as lame as it sounded, the whole 'Twenty Questions' thing had been quite fun, and enlightening too.
But that was something he was keeping to himself.
No, all in all he'd been lucky. Things could have been much worse and he guessed when it came down to it, sometimes you had to fall to realise there was someone there to catch you.
And that was not a bad lesson to learn at all.