He wasn't one hundred percent sure he'd even be welcome. It had been two long, hard years since they'd last seen each other, since they'd last talked.
His left side was still bleeding profusely, though, so he figured he might get sympathy points and a foot in the door at the very least. It was worth a shot. He really needed help with this one; it was beyond a usual patch job in a motel, and there was no way in hell he was going to a hospital. Palo Alto wasn't far up the road, and he'd made his choice.
Gritting his teeth, Dean drove on.
He reached the dorm housing in record time, then slowly and carefully made his way up two flights to his brother's door. He had no idea if Sam was even in right now; it was late, but his brother might have a class or be at a party of some type.
It scared him more than he liked to admit that he didn't know exactly where his little brother was anymore.
He knocked hesitantly, then stood uncomfortably in the hall, debating just leaving before the door opened. This was going to be awkward, and he hated that. This was his baby brother, his Sammy for crying out loud. He shouldn't feel this way.
Too much had happened between their family, though, and there was a distance there that Dean couldn't possibly get across anymore. The thin line that had practically been non-existent between Dean and his brother had spread into a canyon, and he felt helpless on his side, watching as Sam was pulled further and further away from him.
The door opened, and Dean forgot how to breathe as Sam appeared, sleepy-eyed. His eyes opened a bit more in surprise. "Dean?" he asked, and Dean hoped like hell that that was still sleep in his tone, not annoyance. The urge to turn and leave was pulsing through his veins, but he forced a smile instead.
"Hey bro," he said, managing to make his voice sound easy even as his throat tightened. This wasn't supposed to be this hard. When the hell had everything gotten so screwed up?
"What are you doing here?" Sam asked, his eyes going over his brother, brow furrowing as he noticed Dean favoring his left side. "What..." he started, leaning forward for a closer look. His eyes widened in shock, and then he was pulling Dean inside. "What happened? What was it?"
Dean was maneuvered onto a simple bed, and he couldn't hold back the groan as he sat. Damn but that hurt. "It was supposed to be a simple salt and burn, that's all," Dean said, grimacing and shutting his eyes tight.
"When has it ever been a simple salt and burn?" Sam called, and Dean opened his eyes at how far away his brother's voice sounded. It turned out he was in the next room, which meant that Dean's head hadn't gotten that bashed around. Sam returned a moment later, a huge first aid kit in his hands. "Jacket off."
Dean slid the jacket from his shoulders, and held his arms out when he needed help. Sam instantly took the sleeve and tugged, knowing how to pull, when to pull. The first aid kit was opened, Sam pulled back Dean's t-shirt, and the years apart fell away like they'd never happened, like the boys had never been separated. This was what Dean had missed. This was what he'd wanted. He'd needed his brother.
He tried to tell Sam how much he'd missed him, but the words got caught in his throat. He hissed when Sam brushed against the wound, and he closed his eyes at his brother's unconscious but soothing murmurs. "It's not too deep," his brother deemed a minute later, "but I think it's gonna need stitches anyways. Sorry, man."
"You got any codeine in there?" Dean asked.
Sam looked up, surprised. "Does it seriously hurt that bad?" he asked anxiously, and Dean mentally cursed himself out. Too much time away from Sam had caused him to forget that his brother was a serious worry-wart.
"I just don't like needles, dude," Dean said, giving him a look. "There's a reason I came to you and not the hospital."
The creased brow Sam was sporting slid back into his usual worry lines, and he nodded, reaching into the first aid kit for the pill bottle. "Try not to knock yourself out," he said, preparing the needle and thread.
Dean just grunted and popped the pills down, dry swallowing them with a face. He hated doing it, but the faster they were in his system, the better.
After that, things got hazy. There'd been a needle and thread in his side, and then there'd been nothing. No needle, no thread, no Sam either, and he'd been so upset that he'd left without at least telling Sam goodbye. Then Sam had been there, telling him that no, he wasn't saying goodbye, just goodnight, and then everything swirled out into nothing.
When Dean finally came to, he found himself wrapped in the blankets on the bed. He blinked slowly, shifting his feet under the covers and finding them shoeless. He could smell coffee in the air, tempting him to leave the comfort of the bed. A moment later, Sam's head poked around the corner. "How you feeling?" he asked softly.
Dean slowly sat up, wincing only slightly. "Not too bad, considering a ghost tried to split me in two," he said, his feet brushing with the floor.
"Eggs and toast do for breakfast?" Sam asked, and Dean nodded.
"I'll get it started then, but take your time getting up, all right? I don't want to have to resew those stitches. The Frankenstein look just doesn't suit you."
"Bite me," Dean muttered, and Sam grinned before heading out of the room. Once his brother was gone, Dean closed his eyes. He could hear Sam walking around in the next room, could still smell the coffee in the air, could feel the soft mattress of the only bed under his hands. This had been worth the spirit almost ripping him apart. Not the comfy bed, not even the coffee, though he was looking forward to his usual caffeine dosage.
Sam had been well worth it. Leaving was going to be awkward, he knew that. It was going to wrench his heart around and make him feel miserable that he was leaving his little brother behind. But that was later.
Right now was breakfast with Sam, and Dean began to smile.