Benders tag

Disclaimer:- This story is written as an homage to the creators, writers and actors of a show that I love in the hope that no one will mind. No profit is sought or received for this endeavour just hopefully some enjoyment.

Tag for the episode Benders and so spoilers for that episode.

Summary: Anyone else think that you can't be thrown into a couple of walls, knocked unconscious by an iron skillet, beaten, and burnt by a hot poker without there being some medical consequences? Here's my take on what happened next.

A Walk In The Park

"Dean are you OK?" Sam finally asked the question that had been hovering on his lips for the past ten minutes. A question he already knew the answer to or he wouldn't be asking in the first place. Dean wasn't going to admit a problem, even when he had a problem, because in Dean's world only girls, wimps and victims were allowed to hurt, or be hurt. In his world you kept going until you literally fell over, then, and only then, could you swallow a couple of Tylenol and put some band-aids over your gaping wounds, before getting up and carrying on. Not that Sam was far behind him in those stakes. Their upbringing had made sure they were both tough, handling pain was kind of a prerequisite, but there was a line; there was a point when even they had to admit that more help was needed, and, as far as Sam could tell, Dean had crossed that line somewhere back in that cabin.

"Dean?" Sam asked again his tone now openly showing concern as he raised his voice at his brother's lack of response.

Dean turned his head slowly, too slowly for Sam's liking and it took him a couple of seconds to blink his eyes into focus.

"Yeah?" Dean replied in a 'what do you want' tone.

"I asked if you were OK." Sam said, watching his brother carefully. He frowned as Dean turned his head to face forwards; walking in a straight line whilst his head was turned was clearly beyond him.

Dean swallowed and pulled in a deep breath before replying. "I'm fine," he stated, and it was so obviously a lie that Sam would have laughed at the response if he hadn't been so concerned. He stared for a moment considering how he was going to call him on it, before deciding that subtle just wasn't going to cut it.

"No, Dean," he stopped and grabbed hold of his brother's good arm, forcing him to stop with him. "You're not. You look like you can barely stay on your feet." He studied Dean as he turned to face him swaying slightly. Caught the flash of defiance in Dean's slightly glazed expression, Dean was so used to hiding everything, to staying in control that sometimes he took that too far. He was the older brother and to him that meant taking all of the responsibility all of the time. It had been expected of him and as far as he was concerned it was still expected.

It had been that way for so long when they were growing up and Dean still struggled with the shift in their relationship. It was hard for him. His father had expected a lot. He had to look out for his brother, always had, and that was a big burden to place on anyone's shoulders much less a child. Small wonder he struggled with the shifting roles, but Sam couldn't see it, couldn't understand the upbringing that had fed his brother's psyche, and so he in turn found Dean hard to understand. It was a recipe for conflict, but now wasn't the time or the place, and the flash of challenge disappeared from Dean's expression as quickly as it had appeared. He attempted a smile to allay his brother's clear concern, but the side of his face that had impacted with the beam on the wall was too busy swelling to cooperate properly, and it came out more as a grimace. "I'll be a lot better when we make it back to my car," he stated.

Sam's tone softened a little. "At least let's take a rest," he suggested cajolingly, "I'm dead on my feet," and that was as much a lie as Dean's had been. Sam didn't want to stop. He wanted to carry on walking. Walking through wide open woods in fresh air, stretching up to his full height, striding forwards, brushing off the memories of being caged like an animal, in a cage too small to stand up in, too small to stretch out in. He shook off the thought: this wasn't about him; it was about Dean.

Dean looked around uncertainly. "We should keep moving." He gave his head a slight shake. "We need to get to the Impala before. . ."

When the nausea hit, it hit hard. He tried his best to fight it, to swallow it down but he couldn't. He stumbled to the nearest tree, reaching blindly for its support, and then it was too much. His body went into painful spasms as he emptied the contents of his stomach onto the muddy forest floor. Each heave compressed bruised ribs and sent spikes of pain burning out from his shoulder. His head was throbbing as though each movement was sounding some giant klaxon of agony through his brain. He was barely able to hold himself up, barely able to hold on to consciousness. Keeping his eyes closed tight, the world was still spinning around him, and all he could do was hold on and ride it out.

When it was over he rested his head against the cool wet bark, still half bent over, clinging to the tree to stay upright, fighting to combat the weakness in his limbs. He drew in ragged breaths of fresh air that couldn't make it untainted through the acrid taste in his mouth and throat.


His brother's voice was soft and clear, and still it bounced around Dean's skull, hideously amplified and laced with more pain, but the quiet concern forced him to draw open heavy eyes and stare into his brother's, level with his own, as Sam crouched close enough to touch. "I'm. . ."

"Don't try to tell me you're OK, because I'm not buying it," Sam stated. "We both know you've probably got a concussion."

"Really?" Dean replied with false bravado as he forced his ailing body to respond, pushing himself a little more upright. "Did I miss the CT scan, Dr," the appellation was delivered with heavy sarcasm. "Winchester?"

Sam glanced down at the evidence on the floor, almost sighing in exasperation at his brother's stubbornness. "I only said probably," he stated, "but if you're going to insist you're OK then let's get moving." He took a couple of steps before turning, and presenting the challenge. Dean needed his help and the sooner he admitted it the better it would be for both of them. "You coming?"

Dean had hoped to rest a little more before attempting any radical movement, like walking for example but his brother was just going to claim victory if he didn't move and move now. He walked his hands up the tree trunk until he was standing up straight, trying hard to hide how difficult it was just to do that. All he needed to do was keep walking until they made it back to his car then they could find a motel and a bed and. . .

"Dean?" Sam took a step back towards his brother, increasingly worried by the way his brother's attention kept drifting and the clear signs of weakness and concussion. He ran his mind quickly through his first aid procedures, knowledge of which was another prerequisite in this business. This wasn't looking good, they needed shelter and Dean clearly needed to rest. If he'd realised back at the house he wouldn't have agreed to leave, wouldn't have agreed to a long walk through a dark, cold, damp forest, and that was when it hit him that the clues had been there, that he'd missed them. Dean had all but pleaded with Deputy Kathleen to give them a ride out of there, had looked uncomfortable about attempting the walk. He'd had blood running down his face, his arm held awkwardly across his front to minimise movement. Dammit for a guy who shrugged off injuries as easily as Dean usually did, he was practically broadcasting that there was a problem. His brother had come as close as he ever did to asking for help, and he had missed it, too grateful that they were getting out of there at all to even consider his brother's injuries. Yeah it had been him that had been locked up, but it was Dean that they had beaten and tortured, damn.

"Come on we need to get you sitting down." He nodded to a spot over Dean's right shoulder. "There's an evergreen over there, big one, should provide us with some dry ground and some shelter."

Dean would have protested, but the fact that he needed Sam's offered help to prevent himself from taking a nosedive onto the wet ground kind of weakened his argument. He gripped his brother's shoulder as Sam slipped his arm round his waist and grabbed his jacket, holding on tightly and steering Dean forward in a straight path. The fact that Sam was probably also right about the concussion didn't help Dean's mood any, Dean had had enough head injuries to know that his brother's assessment wasn't far off the mark.

Wasn't he supposed to be doing the rescuing here? This was the second time that night that he'd had to rely on his brother, instead of the other way round. Sam had had to rescue him from the psycho thirteen year old girl, and hadn't that been humiliating. Tied to a chair with a kid threatening to rearrange his face with a knife, a knife whose blade was so close to his eye he could almost feel it scratching his retina, and then the knife had moved, small fingers digging into his neck, a thin arm pulling his head back with surprising strength and he'd felt the knife digging in to his throat, scratching against the skin and had looked up to see his brother, to see the fear in Sam's eyes. Thirteen or not the girl could still slit his throat. Hell Dean was still surprised that she hadn't, she seemed more whacked out than her father or her brothers. Not that he would have cared at that particular moment, because just the sight of Sam, the fact that he was alive, the fact that those psycho sons of bitches hadn't killed him, sent so much relief through his system that nothing else mattered.

Dean was stumbling now despite the help and it was all that Sam could do to steer them both forwards. It would have been easier if he'd just picked his brother up, but he knew that Dean wouldn't wear that, not whilst he was still conscious, and he was still conscious, barely.

With some relief, for Sam at least Dean didn't seem to notice the change, they reached the solid trunk and relative shelter of the old fir tree. Sam shifted around and lowered Dean to a sitting position, resting his back against the tree.

Dean brought his arm up across his chest to try to ease some of the tearing burning pain that was shooting out from the burn on his shoulder, wincing as he did so because any movement of the skin was accompanied by more pain; still he was hoping it would ease now that it wasn't being stretched so much.


Again his name was spoken with concern and an edge of fear and he looked up into Sam's worried eyes, forcing a smile to reassure his little brother. Dammit he was the one who was supposed to do the worrying, the protecting, not Sam. His brother had been through enough of an ordeal the last couple of days. He didn't need this. "Hey quit fussing, I just need a couple of minutes here and then I'll be good to go."

Sam nodded, not quite deciding whether to go with frustration or amusement, so his expression wound up a strangled compromise between the two. "Yeah and while we're at it why don't I fill out an application for the Ironman contest next month, if I can find us a lake and a bike you can get a bit of training in on the way back to the car."

"You're a funny guy, ya know that Sammy?" Dean asked, shifting position again, and still not quite hiding all of the pain that even the small move cost him.

"Yeah, I'm all laughs. Let me get a look at that shoulder," he stated, his expression sobering, "And then I'll take a look at that hard head of yours."

Dean shook his head. "As I already pointed out you're not a doctor, and even if you did get a look at the burn, there's nothing to clean it with, best to leave it covered such as it is." He met Sam's gaze; saw the concern again. "Hey I'll let you go all Florence Nightingale on me when we get back to the motel. Until then we should just keep moving."

"Yeah?" Sam injected a touch of challenge. "You up to four or five miles more just to get to the Impala. You really think you're gonna be walkin' that far anytime soon?"

Dean swallowed, tears pricking at the edges of his eyes from the bittersweet truth of the answer. No, he wouldn't be walking that far. Someone had stuck his head in a vice and was slowly turning the screws, his coordination was shot, his vision blurry and he felt as nauseous as hell. He wasn't going anywhere and that meant a long cold night for them both or he could let Sam . . .No! The refusal screamed in his head. He couldn't let Sam leave him; the tear in his soul was still too raw from Sam's abduction, from having to live through those nightmare minutes when that psycho sent his son to shoot Sam in the cage. Like a fish in a barrel and he had sent him there. He had told them to go for Sammy. He'd thought they'd give him a fighting chance, thought he'd have a much better shot than the deputy, but that was no excuse. He'd been asked to pick and he'd picked Sam, and for a moment there the pain twisting his gut as the gunshot rang out was enough to make him wish he'd let the guy stick the poker through his eye. So, letting Sam out of his sight at all for the next few days was going to take a mammoth effort of emotional control. He couldn't let Sam go without him. He needed him here needed him to be close and however weak that was, however pathetic he was being, he knew that he couldn't help it.

Sam was looking round, considering his options. First was to stay here in the hope that Dean would recover enough by resting to continue the walk out; they would be mostly dry and he could use some branches for cover and warmth. Option two was to carry Dean out. He could manage it but whilst Dean was conscious he'd be in excruciating pain from the jostling of his injuries. Sam shook his head; he couldn't do that to him. Not that it mattered, his brother wouldn't go for it, and it wouldn't be the pain that would stop him. Finally he could leave Dean here and go for help. He looked down at his brother and for just the briefest of moments he saw the need there, felt it reaching out to him. No, he wouldn't be leaving Dean anytime soon.

"OK I guess we'd better get settled in for the night," Sam stated, this time his scan of the surrounding area was to look for things that they could make use of. He spotted some low branches on another tree that should be easy enough to break off.

"We're gonna make camp here?" Dean asked

"Well unless you brought your teleport I think it's the best we can manage. I didn't notice any terrain that was likely to yield caves and we're a bit far off the trails to find hunter's cabins. I think this is it, at least until morning."

Dean gave a slight nod. "Best get to work then." He started to move, intent on helping at least with the basics but Sam pushed him back with remarkably little effort.

Dean stared at him for a moment. "What you're going to do it?" he asked allowing just the right amount of incredulity into his tone. "Nearest you ever got to learning how to set up camp was selling cookies for Girl Scouts of America when you were in sixth grade."

It was an outrageous lie, one thing John Winchester could not be accused of was not teaching his children well and that included full survivalist skills. Sam went with it though, anything that would distract his brother from his helplessness, from the pain. He stood, moving over to the nearby tree. "Yeah, well if I remember I was selling those on behalf of Wendy Turnball who for some unaccountable reason was too preoccupied to sell them for herself."

Dean grinned at the memory, his head tilting sideways as he allowed it to take his focus away from the cold and the dark and the pain, and the pervading sense of loss that had not settled yet, even though Sam had not been shot, even though he was safe, even though he had him back. "Her mom was really ticked off at her when she discovered that all of Wendy's sales that year had been made by the cute 'little Winchester boy'" He looked across at his brother, raising his voice slightly to make sure that he could hear him. "Which wouldn't have come out if you hadn't outsold all of the other girls in her troop by more than double, so that one of the other parents told on her." He watched as Sam brought back the first green branch. "Then again you always did have the 'Mom and Granny appeal,' one look at those big brown eyes. . ."

"And they'd do whatever I want," Sam completed the started insult, turning it around. "Just like you." He set the branch down and met his brother's gaze and for just a moment allowed the warmth of the connection to flow between them. They had both been afraid today, both scared that they would lose the other and that was so much worse than the fear of losing their own life.

"Is that it," Dean asked, deliberately breaking the moment before they had to hug or something. Would that be so bad? Well, maybe if he didn't have this killer burn, maybe if he could manage to try to be just a little less macho, but that would mean dropping a layer of his carefully built up defences that he wasn't prepared to drop, at least not here, not now. Sam was back and hugging him wouldn't make that any more or less real. Still, if he'd had the energy he might have done it anyway, embarrassing or not. He looked down at the solitary branch. "Because that isn't going to do a lot on the keeping warm front.

"Everyone's a critic," Sam said pushing himself to his feet so he could get back to work.


Sam watched as his brother drifted into a fitful sleep, adjusting the branches that covered him just one more time to make sure that he was warm enough, before attempting to stretch out some of the kinks in his back. He had never been so glad to see Dean as he had when he'd turned up outside the cage. Not that he'd ever had any doubts about his brother finding him. His faith in that was unshakeable. It was just whether he would find him in time and. . .Damn it had been good to see him, from that moment he'd known that he would get out. Dean arriving had given him renewed strength, the strength to fight back. Would he have made it out without Dean there? Possibly, but once he was there, there was no doubt.

Not that he'd counted on having to rescue his brother.

He'd thought the men of the family were crazy, but the girl had probably scared him more than anyone else. When Dean hadn't come for him, when he'd had to go looking himself he'd feared the worst and he almost got it. They had tied Dean up, beaten him, tortured him. He'd ended up having to call the kid's bluff, while she had a knife digging into the skin of his brother's throat, but even faced with that he couldn't shoot her, couldn't hurt her. She wasn't a spirit or a demon, just some kid whose parents had screwed her up from an early age, and didn't he understand that as a concept. She was how her parents had made her. Was there any hope for her? Would treatment work? Maybe, maybe not, but somehow, and he'd seen it in Dean's eyes too, despite the fear, despite the pain, they'd both had to give a shot at saving her. So he'd walked forwards, heart in his throat, telling her that he didn't want to hurt her, that they wanted to help. He wasn't sure if he would have got through to her, wasn't sure that she wouldn't have slit Dean's throat, and from the look in his eyes neither was he, but in the end they had been saved by the distraction of a gunshot. Sam had taken the opportunity to grab her, to knock the knife from her hand, and once he had her kicking and screaming he'd locked her in a cupboard. Then and only then had he had time for it to hit him. How close it had been, how near he'd come to losing Dean and for a moment it was all he could do to swallow down the nausea, to breath in fresh air, to thank every deity that Dean was alive, and in his brother's eyes he could see that Dean was doing the same thing.

Dean was pale, shaking slightly as he untied him, and he'd betrayed the emotion just once, no smart quips, no banter just a quietly terrified, softly incredulous. "He sent his son to shoot you in the cage."

It was enough for Sam to realise that Dean had thought for a time that that's what had happened, for him to acknowledge the simultaneous mix of dread and grief that was still mixed in with the relief that he had been wrong.

Sam met his brother's gaze held him with the denial of his fears. 'I'm not dead; I'm still here.'

'I failed you, failed to find you, failed to protect you.'

'They tortured you.'

'I gave you up.'

'You gave me strength.'

'It's not enough, it's never enough.'

'It's always enough,'

"I threw a bracket at him." Sam broke the silent communication with the trivial, before the emotion had them breaking down in tears that neither could afford to shed, not without breaking some unwritten rule of their relationship, something that they had learnt in 'brothers 101', a repression of emotion that was necessary for them to function as a team.

"A bracket?" Dean asked trying not to wince as Sam removed the chafing ropes.

"Hey you work with what you've got." Sam had replied.

He should have realised then that something was badly wrong, that Dean's movements and reactions were too slow, but he'd just been so damned relieved that they were still alive, that they were getting out of there. . .He cursed to himself over and over again. Not that that was any help. There wasn't much he could do to help but watch over his brother, as he knew Dean had done many times for him, and hope that in the morning he would have the strength to walk out of there.

He tried to stay awake, tried to keep watch. He knew that he should try to wake Dean every couple of hours. He even knew the sequence of questions to ask almost by heart, another prerequisite in this field, but eventually his own exhaustion caught up with him. He hadn't slept properly from the moment he'd awoken in that cage, coupled with the jolts of adrenaline from fighting for his life, for his brother's life, his system was in no shape for any strength of will to prevent the inevitable. Eventually his eyes drifted closed and he fell into his own version of a fitful sleep


Sam's return to consciousness was an equal drift, lost in a half dreamworld as his senses began to respond to the surroundings whilst his eyes remained closed. The hardness of the ground registered first, along with an ache in his left shoulder and pins and needles running through his right foot. He straightened his leg, flexing his ankle in an attempt to get rid of the sensation, as his consciousness slowly reclaimed the rest of his mind from its dream state. He shifted and opened his eyes pushing himself to a half sitting position as more aches registered, and for just a few moments he couldn't work out where he was or why he was there. Then his memory connected, his perception cleared and he found himself turning rapidly, rolling round and up onto his knees until he was kneeling by his brother, cursing himself for having fallen asleep, for not having protected them both during the night. Dean was sick it had been his job. . ."Dean?. . .Oh God Dean!" His brother was deathly pale apart from the red and purple bruising that covered one side of his face. He was sweating heavily and, although his eyes remained closed, he began to mumble softly his head moving in slight jerky movements.

Sam felt his brother's forehead, cursing at the warmth, "Dean," he said again, sharply.

He needed his brother to wake up now. He cupped his hand around his brother's cheek, holding it still then moving it to face him. "Dean, come on I need you to wake up now." Still nothing, and Sam had to fight to push down the rising panic. They were in the middle of nowhere and Dean needed help, now. What the hell was he supposed to do? He tried calling Dean's name some more, then attempted a sternal rub but beyond a few incoherent mumblings, which was at least something, although not nearly the hell enough, Dean did not wake, did not open his eyes.

As gently as he could Sam pulled back Dean's jacket. He had to peel it away from Dean's shoulder, to reveal the ugly welt beneath. He hissed in a breath at the sight of the material that had been welded into his brother's flesh and for a moment he was glad Dean was asleep because he knew that he needed to get a look at the wound and what he was about to do was going to hurt. He pulled up the bottom of Dean's shirt rolling it up, trying not to notice the sweat that covered Dean's torso despite the chill in the air. He was as gentle as he could be, but it wasn't gentle enough for the inflamed raw flesh. Dean moaned and tried to pull away, curling in protectively about his shoulder. Sam didn't try to stop him. He had seen enough, the infection spreading away from the injury was bad. He sat back on his haunches and drew in a deep breath, swallowing back the bile in his throat. He looked around desperately at the barren forest, searching for inspiration.

"Sam?" Dean's voice was raspy, like he hadn't had a drink for a day. It fitted with what his throat felt like, hell with what his whole body felt like. Every part of him ached, apart from the bits that really hurt, and he was so hot, so damned hot.

"Dean," Sam was relieved to see his brother's eyes open, even if they did show a brightness that was undoubtedly linked to the fever. "How're you feeling?" It was a stupid question on two levels, firstly because it was fairly obvious how his brother must be feeling, secondly because he knew that Dean would lie in his answer, but still it somehow had to be asked.

"Been better," Dean stated. He looked round trying to connect his thoughts so that he could figure out where he was and what he was. . .the memories slid slowly into place, and instinctively he grabbed hold of Sam's sleeve as ghosts of emotions washed his senses. Sam was there and he was OK. He drew in a deep breath to calm himself, wondering idly how long it would take before he could wake up again without those ghosts tormenting him before memories properly connected.

"Dean?" Sam asked as his brother tugged at his sleeve. "What is it? Are you in pain?"

Yes, God yes, every damn part of him, including a few more dents in his soul. "No, I'm fine. I just. . ." but there was no way he could explain, and even trying would be the most desperate of chick flick moments. "Help me to sit up?" He went with the distraction, knowing that it would work. He let go of Sam's sleeve as his brother took his own firm grip and helped pull him up, for a moment his thoughts were wiped by the screams of protest from his abused muscles. He let the pain wash through him, drew in a couple of deep breaths and settled back against the thick bark behind him.

Sam felt the slight shivers as he pulled, felt the weakness in normally strong muscles. "We need to get you out of here."

Dean managed a nod of acknowledgement.

"The shoulder wound is infected; we need to get you to a doctor." He studied Dean for a moment before asking. "Do you think you can make it?"

Dean did his own share of studying his brother's expression; the lines of concern were etched deep, damn he must look as bad as he felt. "I'll make it," he stated.


The walk was slow and tortuous, Sam taking most of Dean's weight. He had to stoop slightly to allow his brother to put his arm over his shoulder and the awkward position had aggravated his own injuries, but he had done his best to ignore the pain. At various points Dean was only barely conscious, the fever kept pulling him under, the whole of Sam's side felt like it was welded to a radiator as burning flesh pressed against his. By the time Sam laid his brother into the shelter of another tree, he was completely out again. This time Sam didn't try to wake him he needed to get help.

Deputy Kathleen turned at the Hsshht sound from behind, before dismissing it as a trick of the wind. It was only when the noise came again that she stopped and looked more carefully. Spotting Sam just peering out past the corner of the building she frowned. When he gestured for her to come to him and then disappeared she could feel the anger building.

Dammit she had told them to get out of here. There were still too many feds and cops around processing the scene. She'd been allowed back once the paramedics checked her out on the strict understanding that she stay outside the buildings, guard duty only, and that was only because they were a small force with a sympathetic Sheriff. If they found anything else on her brother she wanted to know straight away. She didn't want to have to wait; besides she was still processing, but what the hell was Sam Winchester doing back here.

Sam was waiting for her in the shadows, wary, checking for other signs of movement as she approached.

"What are you. . . ?"

"It's Dean, he's sick." Sam stepped forward so she could see his eyes, so she could see his concern. "Too sick to walk back to the car."

She paused, trying to remember the events of the previous meeting. "But how. . ."

"When he went after the key, they tied him up, beat him," he paused, somehow describing it made it all seem worse. He did his best to pull back the emotion, the empathy, the anger at what they had done to him. They used a hot poker burned. . . ."

"His shoulder," Kathleen completed for him. She put her hand over her mouth, "I'm sorry I didn't know."

"Please," Sam asked, a slight desperation to his tone. If she wouldn't help then he would have to turn them both in, because he was damned if he was going to let Dean die out here. "The wounds infected, I need to get him out of here, get him medical help."

At that point even if Dean hadn't told her, she would have been in no doubt that they were brothers. The concern almost radiated from him, as it had from Dean. It had been what had persuaded her to help him. It was what persuaded her to do the same for Sam now. She nodded, her eyes defocusing as she thought through her strategy. "There's a bend in the road, it's about a hundred yards down. I'll meet you there, give me about fifteen minutes."

True to her word Kathleen appeared driving one of the sheriff's department vehicles. Sam hadn't even attempted to wake Dean this time. He'd just carried him, they'd needed the speed. Kathleen came round and opened up the rear door. "You'll both have to lie down in the back," she stated, "In case we pass anyone coming in."

Sam nodded, positioning Dean on the back seat first before climbing in himself and squeezing down in the space between the seats, folding his long frame into the gap. Kathleen dumped a piece of tarpaulin over the top of them, before running around and climbing back into the front. For just a split second she questioned what she was doing as her heart thudded against her chest and her breaths came rapidly. She was helping a felon evade justice, again! What the Hell. . . but then she remembered the stab of pain at the loss of her brother and she didn't question it again.


Sam held his panic well. He'd never been claustrophobic but being held in a tiny cage for more than a day with an uncertain fate awaiting you had a tendency to make you rewrite a few of your fear responses. He hadn't quite shaken that feeling of being trapped, and so, tucked into the cramped footwell of the car, all light cut off by the covering tarpaulin and, the temptation to hyperventilate, to allow an irrational panic to take hold, made it to the top of your thought patterns on a fairly regular basis, but he kept it at bay, barely.

Then there was Dean of course. The tarpaulin certainly wasn't helping his fever any. Sam managed to work his arm round so that it was resting across his brother's chest. He could feel the shallow too rapid breathing, the damp clothing, the still radiator quality heat, but all he could do now was pray that they weren't going far. He hadn't even thought to ask where they were going. He'd put all of his trust in the deputy and for all he knew she could be taking them to jail. Except he knew she wasn't, knew that she would help.

He felt the car come to a stop, blinked at the bright light as the tarpaulin was pulled off. "Wait here," she stated, disappearing from view. By the time Sam extricated himself from the car she was nowhere to be seen. Sam assumed that she'd gone into the house that they were now parked behind. When she reappeared she had a man, in his early forties beside her.

"Sam, meet Dr. Collins, he's a friend of mine and he's agreed to help."

"Thank you sir," Sam said holding out his hand.

Dr. Collins ignored it. "Is this the patient?" he asked moving towards Dean.

Sam looked questioningly at the Deputy who simply shrugged, Dr. Collins was doing this as a personal favour to her, but that didn't mean he liked the idea. Still, she was fairly certain that he wouldn't get her into trouble, and his Hippocratic oath would ensure that he would help Dean, besides short of turning them in there was no other choice.

"Help me get him inside," Dr Collins said.

Sam was prepared for the curse when the Doctor got a look at Dean's shoulder and he didn't disappoint. He left if to Kathleen to explain how the injury got there, and concentrated his efforts on using the cold water to cool his brother's skin. His temperature was running at 103.5 and the doctor made it clear that their priority should be to get that down.

Sam was just glad that it wasn't up to him to peel the cloth away from the wound and clean it. He would have done it if he'd had to, and he'd had to clean plenty of wounds in his time, even stitch a few, but it was one of the tasks that they'd always tried to spare each other from. Dean especially, if he could reach it then, unless he was unconscious, he would deal with it.

Sam was forced to leave Dean there while he went to get the Impala. He knew the help that he was getting was reluctant, that as soon as Dr. Collins felt Dean was out of danger he would be throwing them out. The Doctor had made that perfectly clear. He'd given Sam a pack already with fresh dressings and antibiotics as well as a crash course in wound care, not that Sam had really needed that last part. So Sam knew that he needed to be ready. He just hoped that he made it back before Dean woke up.

He needn't have worried. Dean didn't wake before he returned, didn't wake when the not so friendly doctor helped him carry his brother out to the car, insisting that the drop in Dean's fever to 101 was enough and he should just follow his instructions regarding the antibiotics and dressings and Dean would be fine. Despite his attitude Sam thanked him anyway, he was fairly sure that without the doctor's help he wouldn't have made it. The fever had been too high. It had been too close, way too close.

The doctor stopped him before he drove off. "If he doesn't wake up soon, or he shows any other signs of concussion, you need to get him to a hospital. I've helped you as much as I can, but I don't have the facilities. . ."

"It's OK doc, I'll look after him," he gave the doctor a short smile, "And I meant that thank you."

Dean didn't even wake when Sam had carried him from the car into the ubiquitous motel room and settled him into the bed. It was only then, as he sat back onto his own that he allowed the emotion out. Dean was going to be OK. He was alive and safe and all he needed to do now was wake up. Well, maybe not now, he needed ten minutes. Ten minutes to deal with the flow of tears that wouldn't be denied any longer.