Chapter 1: Open Your Eyes Again

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 immediately 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.

"Sammy, can you open your eyes again for me, honey? There is so much I must tell you," he heard his mom say, her voice sounding closer with each word.

Sam stirred and his eyelids fluttered open.

He could clearly see her standing at the foot of his bed. She still looked as beautiful and as young as ever, doomed to be forever clad in the long white nightgown she was wearing that night she was murdered by the yellow-eyed demon. After a moment, it registered in Sam's mind that he was in a hospital, but answers to other important questions continued to evade him. Although he felt no pain, it was so difficult to stay awake, let alone think, and he struggled to stay focused on her glowing face.

"Sam?" Dean asked, placing his hand on Sam's arm, careful 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.

"Everyone is so very proud of you, Sammy," she said as she moved to the side of his bed opposite of Dean and leaned down to inches from his face. "The demons have been destroyed and the portal to hell remains closed. Dean and Bobby are safe too."

She sighed before continuing. "I'm so sorry to tell you that your journey is not yet over. Your father was right. The Colt can only kill what is truly evil, and you were brought back to life. But there is still someone who is not yet sure if you are good or if you are evil. He has the power to take away your life again and this time it would be forever," she explained as she caressed his face.

"Who?" Sam thought, aware that she would understand him even without speaking the word.

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

"The one whose opinion matters most. You," Mary said before she disappeared into a bright light.

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.

Sam's eyes closed again moments before a dark haired doctor, who looked to be in his late thirties, entered the room.

"My name is Dr. Jonathan Casey. And your name, Doctor?" he asked with a smile, extending his hand to Dean..

"Oh. Uh," Dean stuttered as he shook his hand. "Dean. Dean Ellicot. I…my clothes were a mess so they said I could have these," he answered, not quite as smoothly as he wanted.

"No problem. This is your brother, Samuel?" the doctor asked, already knowing the answer but recognizing the importance of establishing rapport with his patient's family members.

"Sam," Dean corrected him. "What's wrong with him? The other doctor said the surgery went well, but…" Dean looked at his brother. "He wouldn't talk to me. Wouldn't even look at me."

"I've reviewed his chart. If I recall correctly, you both stopped a robbery at the Abbey during which your brother was shot and you sustained minor injuries. The criminals were never caught?" the doctor asked, motioning for Dean to sit down again as he leaned against a nearby counter.

"That's right," Dean said, remembering the story he, Bobby and the monk had crafted for the police. "But what's wrong with my brother?" Dean asked again, still standing and anxious for the doctor to get to the point already.

"Honestly, we don't know. We have not yet found any physical reason for your brother's unresponsiveness, for the lack of a better term. But Sam's already proven how much of a fighter he is and I'm confident that his condition will improve. Most people, even if they can be resuscitated from death, sustain significant brain damage. We do know that Sam's brain functioning appears normal. Therefore, I have recommended a psychiatric consult to begin to…"

"My brother is NOT crazy!" Dean yelled, angrily swiping the items on the nearby table to the floor with a crash.

He was so sick of getting the run around. This doctor didn't seem to know anything more than the one in the ER.

"Mr. Ellicot, please. Let me finish. No one thinks your brother is crazy, but he may be traumatized. Addressing mental health issues is as important as treating physical ones. It's too early to tell, but he may be exhibiting beginning signs of PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The diagnostic criteria for PTSD, according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV, are stressors listed from A to F. Most notably, the stressor criterion A is divided into two parts. In a nutshell, the first requires that the person experienced an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury to self or others. The second requires that the person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Symptoms of PTSD can include general restlessness, insomnia, aggressiveness, depression, dissociation, emotional detachment, and nightmares.What you and Sam have been through certainly seems to fit the definition, and I'd like him to be evaluated by a psychiatrist," The doctor responded calmly, used to all kinds of reactions from distraught family members.

Dean glared at the doctor for a moment while deciding if he was worthy of caring for his little brother. The doctor's glance did not waiver from Dean's for second during this period of scrutiny. A small gesture that sealed the deal for Dean. He liked that the doctor was not intimidated by him, that confidant in his ability to treat his patients.

"Okay. I'm sorry. Do whatever you need to do to help my brother. And please, call me Dean," Dean said, finally sitting down again.

Please, he's all I've got, Dean thought. We couldn't have made it this far to lose it all now.

"We'll take great care of your brother, Dean. I'll make sure of it," he said. "I'll be back for rounds tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM. I should have more test results by then that I will be happy to review with you. The psychiatrist, Dr. Schneider, should be in by tomorrow afternoon. If you need anything before then, have a nurse page me," The doctor informed him.

"Thank you," Dean said.

After the doctor left the room, it was just Dean and Sam again. It had pretty much always been just him and Sam, Dean thought. He loved his father very much and he knew his father loved them, but Dean recognized now that on many days his father just didn't have much left to give, emotionally or physically. Hunts always seemed to be about much more than just killing a demon. He wouldn't let Sam become collateral damage. Dean looked at Sam's sleeping face. The doctor had said Sam was a fighter. Missouri had said Sam was stronger than he knew. Please, please Sam be strong. Until then, he'd just be strong enough for the both of them.

"Dean?" Bobby asked as he walked into the room. "I met Sam's doctor in the hallway. Seems like a good guy," Bobby said as he circled around the bed and put a hand on Sam's shoulder. "He said it was best if only one person at a time visited with Sam for now. We passed a motel on the way here. I'm going to check in and give Ellen a call. Later if you want to..."

"I'm going to stay here with Sam, okay Bobby?" Dean asked with a smile, trying to pretend that everything was good even though he knew Bobby wouldn't miss the tears that he felt pooling in his eyes.

"Yeah, sure. I'll be back in the morning with some real coffee. The stuff here tastes like tar. Well, you know my number kid," Bobby said before leaving.

Sam woke with a start, feeling as if someone or something demanded it. His room was dark and quiet. Through the glass wall ahead he could see a sole lamp on at the nurse's desk, but no staff were in sight. Suddenly, the light began to flicker on and off in constant intervals. Confused, Sam sat up, feeling compelled to leave his room to investigate. Sam was surprised when he again felt no pain in his chest or anywhere else. He swung his legs over the bed after making a quick mental note that he appeared to be able to move all of his parts without difficulty. Dean looked uncomfortable sleeping on a plastic chair nearby, but did not wake. Sam calmly unhooked his IV and the heart monitor with ease, the monitor screen appearing to have been turned off anyway. He slidoff of his bed and then secured his gown with the tie around his waste. His bare feet did not seem to even make the smallest sound as he walked out of his room towards the desk. He remained focused on the light's repetitive pattern until he heard a female voice speak nearby.

"I've been waiting for you, Sam. It's time to begin now."

Sam could see a woman standing at the far end of the hallway, but he was unable to make out her face. The voice did sound so familiar, and Sam struggled to place it.When the light switched off and back on again, he gasped as she was now inches from his face...

Please stay tuned for Chapter 2 when I will really start to get to the meat of the story. Thanks for reading and come back soon! Oh, and please don't forget to review. They energize my fingers!