"Which bit of 'no, we are not going' isn't clear to you, Sam?"
Sam counted to 10 in his head for what had to be the fifth time in the last half hour and wondered why he hadn't just knocked Dean out and waited for him to wake up when they got there.
Of course the fact that his brother had already been knocked out only 24 hours ago might have had something to do with his hesitation.
Gritting his teeth and trying to remind himself that Dean was in pain and therefore crankier than usual he tried to keep his voice even as he spoke.
"Whichever way you look at, Dean, we really don't have a choice. It's gonna be at least two weeks before either of us can drive properly. We can't stay in a Motel for that long, not with a fake credit card, and Missouri is the only one who's near to us right now. You know she'll let us stay." he said.
Dean glared at him. "Yeah, and I also know it won't be you she'll be threatening to whack with a spoon every five minutes! It's alright for you – you're her favourite. Me she just picks on."
Sam couldn't help it. His lips twitched and Dean's glare darkened.
"What the hell is so funny?"
"I'm sorry, it's just picked on? Dude, do you know how old that makes you sound?"
"Hey, it's not my fault the woman's got something against me. And besides, I don't want her poking around in my head for a fortnight either." said Dean firmly.
Sam raised his eyebrows. "Worried about what she might find?" he said and Dean pointed a finger at him.
"That's cute, Sam, but don't try and change the subject. We're not going and that's final."
Sam threw his hands up in frustration.
"Well, alright then what do you suggest? We sleep in the car for the next two weeks? We cannot drive." he said and Dean shrugged, a move he instantly regretted as pain shot through his shoulder.
"I can." he said trying and failing to hide the wince.
"Are you insane? The doctor told you to keep that sling on for a reason, Dean! Unless you want to end up permanently unable to use your arm properly? And don't even think about telling me you can drive one handed."
Dean sighed and got up, stalking over to the window. As he stared out at the rain he thought back over the events that had brought them to this point.
The job had actually been going pretty well, by their standards. An old warehouse, scheduled for demolition, but the whole thing put on hold on account of the fact construction workers and architects kept getting attacked whenever they went near the place. The newspaper reports had suggested that there was some kind of gas leak, since something had to account for the crazy stories the injured men kept telling about getting thrown through the air or pushed down stairs.
When the first death occurred – a poor unfortunate surveyor who'd hit his head on a broken pipe after 'falling' down some stairs – the construction had been shut down indefinitely.
It hadn't been hard to find out about the history of the place. It had originally been an old glassworks and back in the forties when the factory had been at its height there had been a spate of 'accidents' spread over a two year period. It turned out that the supervisor at the time, a nasty piece of work called Thomas Johnson, had had a nice sideline going in intimidation and extortion. Any workers who refused to pay him had ended up victims of an industrial accident. Ten poor souls had perished before the authorities finally took notice and Johnson was arrested, convicted and hanged. His body had been cremated but it was obvious that something of his must have been left behind in the factory, so they'd rolled their sleeves up and got to work searching for it.
The spirit had waited all of five minutes before the attacks had begun. They'd both been thrown around like a rubber ball and Dean had been starting to get really pissed off when at last they'd found what they were looking for. It seemed Johnson had liked to collect trophies from his victims and then hidden them in a small space under the floorboards in his office. There had been some of his own stuff too and Sam had managed to pour some lighter fuel down there and drop a match while Dean distracted the spirit.
If getting choked by it could be considered distracting.
As the flames caught there'd been a shriek as the spirit vaporised and Dean had dropped to the floor, gasping for breath. Sam had barely had time to check if he was ok before there had been an ominous creaking sound and the entire office floor had given way underneath them.
Sam had woken first, coughing up dust and with his head throbbing. He hadn't been able to see Dean to begin with and the panic that had taken hold meant he'd barely noticed he couldn't put any weight on his right leg. A few minutes scrambling around in the rubble and he'd finally found his brother, half buried under some of the rotten timber they'd been standing on. Dean could still remember Sam's voice breaking through the haze, calling his name in that frantic tone he only used when Dean was hurt or in trouble.
He'd managed to get his mouth working long enough to tell Sam to quit yelling, since his head was pounding mercilessly, but the headache had paled in comparison to the agony that erupted in his right shoulder when he tried to move. He'd practically passed out, leaning his head against Sam and concentrating on breathing and not throwing up. Sam had instantly realised that his shoulder was dislocated and he'd torn the sleeve off his shirt to make a temporary sling to keep his arm from moving too much.
When the stars had finally cleared from his vision Dean had insisted on checking out Sam, looking less than pleased at the dried blood on his head and the way his right knee was busy swelling to twice its usual size. They'd somehow managed to get out of there, clinging on to each other and weaving their way along like a pair of drunks. There had been no way at all that Dean could drive – he'd been white as a sheet and shaking by the time they made it to the Impala. Somehow Sam had managed to get them the short distance to the hospital, driving at about twenty miles an hour and gritting his teeth at the shooting pains going through his knee every time he moved it. They'd spent two hours in the emergency room, Sam having the cut on the side of his head stitched and his knee bandaged and put in a brace, and Dean getting given the good drugs so they could put his shoulder back in place.
Sam would have found it amusing just how out of it Dean was afterwards, had it not been for the fact he hated seeing his brother get hurt. They'd managed to escape an overnight stay but they'd had to leave the Impala in the hospital parking lot and take a taxi back to the motel.
A fact which was really not improving Dean's mood any.
And that was how they'd found themselves here, debating what the hell they were going to do while they waited for his shoulder and Sam's knee to heal properly.
"I knew it was a bad idea coming this close to Lawrence." he muttered and Sam shook his head.
"You were the one who spotted the newspaper report." he said, tiredness and frustration getting the better of him for a moment.
Dean turned round and glared at him briefly but then he just rubbed his hand over his face and dropped tiredly into the chair next to the window. He really didn't have any defence for that. It had indeed been him who'd insisted it was no big deal to be that close to their old home and that they could just get the job over with and move on without ever having to go near the place.
He leant his head back, closing his eyes briefly and wishing the throbbing in his shoulder would stop. The hospital had given him some strong painkillers but there was no way he was taking them. He was still unhappy about the stuff they'd given him to put the joint back in the first place.
He hated feeling out of control.
"You ok?" came the concerned enquiry after a moment and he opened his eyes long enough to give Sam a half smile.
"I'm terrific, Sammy."
Sam shook his head at the typical response but was reassured that at least Dean wasn't quite at the end of his rope yet. Although he had a feeling they were getting pretty close.
Deciding that cajoling might work better than trying to force the issue, Sam appealed to Dean's common sense.
"Look I know you're worried about Missouri getting in your head but you know she won't if we ask her not to. We can trust her, Dean, and for us that's bonus. You know as well as I do if we stay here too long we run the risk of them looking at our credit too hard and the cops showing up. And I don't know about you, but I don't think I'd get very far if I tried to make a run for it right now." he said lightly.
Dean opened his eyes again and looked at him.
"I guess we don't have a choice, do we?" he admitted, sounding resigned.
"Not really, no. I'll give her a call shall I? See if she can get here by bus maybe, then she could drive the Impala to her place."
Dean stared at him like he was possessed again.
"Are you kidding me? There is no way that woman is driving my car!" he said and Sam rolled his eyes.
"Alright, then we'll leave it in the hospital parking lot shall we? Pick it up in two weeks?"
"I'm sorry, have we met?" said Dean. "We are not leaving her in the parking lot and we are not letting Missouri drive my baby! I can drive us there."
"No, you can't! That's kind of the whole point of this conversation!" said Sam and Dean waved away the argument with his good hand.
"It's only twenty minutes and I can take the sling off for that long. It sure as hell beats your suggestions."
Sam huffed. "Fine, whatever. Just don't come crying to me when you do permanent damage to your arm or wrap your precious car round a tree because you insisted you could drive one handed!" he said.
"Don't be such a drama queen, Francis, and just phone the woman would you?"
Still glaring at his stubborn, pain in the ass brother Sam took out his phone and dialled Missouri's number. Even though Dean had shut his eyes again Sam knew he'd be listening intently to every word. He wondered if he could have a quiet word with her when they arrived and ask her to go easy on Dean. He knew she was just teasing most of the time but after all the stuff they'd been through since their last visit he wasn't sure Dean could handle it so well this time – Sam knew for all the act he liked to put on Dean had a tendency to take stuff to heart.
He was distracted from his musings by the sound of Missouri's voice as she answered the phone, sounding a little out of breath.
"Ah, hey Missouri – it's Sam Winchester." he said and she made a pleased sound.
"Sam! It's good to hear from you, honey. How are you?" she said and Sam couldn't help but smile at the enthusiastic reaction.
"Well, actually that's why I'm calling. Dean and I got a little knocked about on our last job, and we're kind stuck for somewhere to stay. It's gonna be a couple of weeks before we can get back on the road and we don't wanna risk staying in one motel for that long. We're just down the road from you as it happens, so we were wondering if maybe we could stay? We don't want to put you out or anything.."
Sam didn't even get to finish the sentence before Missouri's voice cut in, sounding aggrieved.
"Now you know you don't have to ask, Sam. You boys are welcome here anytime. You need me to come get you?" she said and Sam was touched by how fast she'd agreed to them staying. They weren't used to asking for help so it meant a lot that Missouri seemed to just take it in her stride.
"Actually, Dean insists he can get us that far." he said, ignoring the glare he was now getting from across the room.
Missouri tutted. "Let me guess – your brother is being his usual stubborn self and saying he's absolutely fine. That about right?" she said sounding amused and exasperated.
Sam chuckled. "Pretty much." he said and Dean's eyes narrowed. He had a feeling he'd just been picked on already.
"That boy really is far too much like John for his own good." she said and Sam felt a pang at the mention of their father. He'd called her, a few weeks after John's death as he felt she deserved to know. She hadn't sounded surprised but she had been genuinely upset. That had been the last time they'd spoken to her and even though at the time she'd offered her spare room for them to recuperate in, Dean had been adamant it wasn't going to happen. Given the way Dean had been handling things at the time Sam had come to the conclusion it was safer to give in on that occasion.
As if sensing Sam's mood, Missouri spoke again sounding brisk and matter of fact.
"Well, since I don't suppose you'll be able to talk him out of it I guess you'd better get going. I'll have the spare room ready by the time you get here." she said and Sam smiled.
"Thanks, Missouri. We'll see you soon."
He closed the phone and put it back in his pocket. Dean eyed him warily.
"Well?" he said and Sam looked at him.
"She said yes. She's gonna have the spare room ready by the time we get there."
Dean frowned. "What else did she say?" he said and Sam looked innocent.
Sam smirked, deciding now was not a good time to goad his brother.
"She just said you were stubborn and pig headed, like Dad. Which, by the way, is totally accurate."
Dean scowled. "See? I told you this would happen! I'm not even there yet and the woman's picking on me."
Sam couldn't help but grin but he resolved again to speak to Missouri when they got there. It was surprising just how protective he felt of Dean these days.
Although that was a thought he was definitely keeping to himself since he quite liked having his head attached to his shoulders.
Still grumbling, Dean gathered up the rest of their stuff, since it was quicker for him to do it one handed than it was for Sam to try and do it limping and using a stick. Once they were set, Sam phoned a taxi and insisted on carrying his own bag as he still had one hand free. Dean would have argued were it not for the fact that carrying just the one bag was making his shoulder feel like it was on fire.
He was starting to think maybe a twenty minute drive wouldn't be such a piece of cake after all.
One short cab ride later they were back at the hospital and making their way, slowly, to the Impala. Dean sighed with relief when he saw she was untouched. If it hadn't been for the fact he'd still been fairly high the night before he'd have insisted they pick her up then. He opened up the trunk gingerly and dropped his bag in, letting Sam close it once he'd added his own. Getting in was the next hurdle, and he was grateful that at least the door was on his good side. Taking a deep breath he very slowly undid the sling from round his neck and eased his arm out of it.
Ok. His vision coming back any second now would be good.
He could feel Sam radiating concern and disapproval from his side of the car and was impressed his brother had to yet to voice – again – just what a bad idea he thought this was. Once the fiery agony had receded to a fairly manageable throb he glanced across and tried to smile confidently.
He had a feeling from Sam's expression that it had come out as more of a grimace than a smile.
He was about to speak when Sam held up his hand.
"Do not say it. Do not say it's no big deal, or that your shoulder is fine, or that this is even remotely a good idea. Let's just get to Missouri's, ok? Then you can stop being a stubborn ass."
Dean raised an eyebrow.
"You done?" he said and Sam just shook his head, turning to look out of the window.
If he had to watch and see just how much pain his idiotic brother was putting himself through he'd stop the car and leave it by the roadside. Regardless of Dean and his practically insane obsession.
As it was, the drive took forty minutes not twenty, mainly due to Dean having to drive so slowly. He was grateful the roads were quiet as it was possibly the most uncomfortable, most painful, drive he'd ever made. Well, except after their run in with the Yellow Eyed Demon but in that instance he hadn't been driving and he'd barely been conscious at the time. Deliberately stopping his thoughts heading down that road again, he concentrated on the view through the windshield and wondered if someone had moved Missouri's house since the last time they'd been here. It didn't escape his attention that Sam was glancing his way every five seconds either.
Considering they spent their lives being surreptitious and discreet his brother really was appallingly bad at hiding his actions. At least when it came to Dean.
Ignoring the concern, Dean breathed a sigh of relief when they came to Missouri's house at last. Whether it was a psychic thing, or whether she'd just been looking out the window, she opened the door before they'd even come to a stop.
She smiled and Sam smiled back. Dean just looked apprehensive. There was something about that woman that made him uncomfortable. Maybe it was the fact that he couldn't hide his true feelings with her like he could with everyone else.
It made him nervous.
"Let me help you get your sling back on." said Sam, pulling his attention back.
Dean was in too much pain to protest and that prompted a frown from Sam as he reached over and extremely gently retied the sling and helped Dean put his arm back in it. Giving Dean a couple of seconds to gather himself, he opened his door and managed to manouver himself out.
Missouri came over and helped him, holding his stick until he was out completely and then handing it to him. She put her hand on his arm and squeezed.
"It's good to see you." she said, with real meaning, and Sam smiled.
"You too, Missouri. And thanks for letting us stay – we really do appreciate it." he said.
She waved away the thanks. "Nonsense – you boys are always welcome here. Why don't you help your brother and I'll take your things inside?" she said.
Sam nodded gratefully, pleased that she knew Dean well enough not to offer help herself. Even when he was hurt Dean would only allow one person to help him and that was Sam.
And even then it was reluctantly of course.
With anyone else, even their father, he'd put his game face on and struggle to manage himself. Sam found it comforting and a little humbling that he was the only one Dean trusted enough to lean on when things became too much for even him to handle alone. He just wished he'd do it more often.
Limping round to the driver's side of the Impala he opened Dean's door. His brother was still sitting there with his eyes closed, breathing deeply as waited for the pain in his shoulder to subside a little. The painkillers he'd been given were actually looking more attractive by the second. Control or no control. He looked up as he heard the door open and saw Sam standing there.
There was no 'I told you so' or triumph in Sam's gaze, only worry and sympathy.
"Need a hand?" he said casually, like it was no big deal, and Dean sighed as he nodded. Whether he liked it or not the short drive had been way harder than he'd expected it to be.
Sam braced himself on the door and reached out to take hold of Dean's good arm. Once he had a firm grip he gently pulled and Dean added his own effort so that between them they managed to get him out of the seat and upright. He swallowed as he felt a little dizzy momentarily and he was glad Sam hadn't let go yet.
"Ok?" said Sam after a moment and he nodded. Letting go of Sam's arm he pulled himself up straight, squared his one good shoulder, and gave Sam a tired smile.
"Let's get this over with." he said, waiting for Sam to step aside so he could shut the door.
"It's not gonna be that bad, Dean. Just try not to be, you know.."
"What?" said Dean and Sam shrugged.
Dean looked indignant.
"Nice. Thanks, Sammy – blame it all on me why don't you." he said and Sam sighed as he limped after him.
"I'm not – I'm just saying you could try not to goad her so much. You know as well as I do you were trying to get a reaction half the time before. It won't kill you to just give a straight answer for once and not be so defensive." he pleaded.
"I am not defensive!" said Dean. Sam's raised eyebrow clued him in on the irony of that statement and he huffed as he turned round and made his way up the steps.
Even though he was mad he still waited for Sam at the top and Sam ducked his head to hide his smile. Some things never changed.
As they went in they heard Missouri call out.
"In the kitchen!"
They made their way through the house and joined her in there, sinking gratefully into the chairs that had been pulled out from the table for them. Missouri was doing something over by the stove and after a few moments she turned round and came over, carrying a plate of sandwiches and a pot of coffee.
"Here we go. Help yourselves now – no need to be waiting on ceremony here." she said, going back for the mugs.
Sam reached over and put a sandwich on two plates, putting one in front of Dean. His brother grimaced.
"I'm not really that hungry." he said, looking apologetically at Missouri. Sam just nudged the plate even closer to him.
"You haven't eaten properly since yesterday. And if you need to take some of those pills later you shouldn't do it on an empty stomach. Please, Dean." he said and Dean sighed but picked up the sandwich and took a bite.
Sam smiled gratefully at him and took a bite of his own. Missouri meanwhile simply marvelled at how easily Sam could persuade his brother to do something. She'd seen a little of it last time but there was a different edge to it now. She was deliberately not reading them, respecting their privacy, but you didn't have to be psychic to see how concerned and protective Sam was of Dean right now. And she had a feeling it wasn't just because they were injured.
Dean meanwhile still had that big brother thing going on but he seemed wearier than when she'd seen them before, like there was extra weight on his shoulders these days. He also seemed to be aware of Sam's changed attitude but content to allow it, as if he needed that support even though he'd never admit it.
She was glad suddenly that they'd been nearby when things had gone wrong. A few weeks of being looked after would do them the world of good.
As she poured their coffee she rested her hand briefly on Dean's good shoulder. When he looked up at her she smiled.
"It's good to see you too, Dean." she said and he looked surprised.
"Uh, yeah. Thanks for letting us stay." he said, awkwardly.
"Like I told Sam, it's no bother." she said.
As she filled Sam's mug the look he gave her was one of gratitude and she vowed to have a chat with him later about just how Dean was doing with everything that had happened. She knew he was the one who'd been closest to John, who was most like him, and she had a feeling this was hitting him hard. She also had an idea there was something else to it, and not something good either.
As they ate Sam filled her in on what had gone wrong with the hunt, Dean adding his own comments now and then but mainly letting Sam do all the talking. Missouri tutted when she heard how they'd been thrown around by the spirit and scolded them lightly for insisting on making their own way to her house. Dean just mumbled about not wanting to leave the Impala where she was and Missouri shook her head.
"You see what I have to put up with?" said Sam, but his tone was teasing and Dean just rolled his eyes and ignored him.
Both Missouri and Sam could see Dean was starting to flag. Sam reached into his pocket and brought out a bottle of pills. Flipping off the cap he shook two out and handed one to Dean. Dean looked at it and back up at Sam, grimacing.
"Come on, Sam – you know I hate taking those things." he said.
"Yeah, I know – but I also know how much your shoulder is hurting right now. I'm gonna take one too." he said and Dean's expression turned to one of concern.
"Your knee bothering you?" he said and Sam shook his head.
"No more than your shoulder." he said exasperatedly.
Missouri solved the argument for them, placing a glass of water in front of each of them.
"Why don't you both take them? The beds are all made up in the spare room so you can go lie down." she said firmly, in a way that told them arguing would be useless.
Dean still looked unhappy but he gave in and reluctantly swallowed the pill with a big gulp of water.
Sam looked pleased and swallowed his own pill, shooting Missouri a grateful look.
"Come on, I'll show you up." she said.
They followed Missouri at a snails pace, Dean hanging back to wait for Sam as he negotiated the stairs with the leg brace. By the time they reached the room Sam was more than ready to lie down too. They both had a myriad of other bruises aside from their biggest injuries and most of them were making themselves known right now.
"You just holler if you need anything. I'll be downstairs." said Missouri and they nodded.
"Thanks." said Sam.
Once she'd gone Sam shut the door and turned round to look at the room. It was a decent size and decorated fairly plainly with two single beds either side of a cabinet. Dean had already chosen one and he eased himself down gingerly, groaning as his shoulder made contact with the bed.
Sam watched him for a moment until Dean opened one eye and looked at him.
"You gonna stand there and stare at me all afternoon or are you gonna lay down?" he said and Sam blushed a little as he limped over to the other bed.
He rested the stick against the wall and eased himself onto the bed, lifting up his leg and positioning it so it was as comfortable as it could be given the brace.
"You ok?" said Dean glancing over and Sam grinned at him.
"That was gonna be my line." he said and Dean snorted.
"We're a right pair aren't we?" he said ruefully and Sam chuckled.
"Yeah. Good job we don't have to worry about it here." he said and Dean made a noise that was non committal at best.
He still wasn't convinced it was a good idea coming here but so far he had to admit Missouri was going easy on him.
Unless she was just easing him into a false sense of security.
Too tired to care, he sank back into the pillows and closed his eyes. He'd just rest for a moment. That's all.
Sam watched, pleased to see Dean relax finally and drop off. Satisfied he was asleep Sam closed his own eyes. Within seconds, the room was silent.