A/N: And on to chapter four. It's shorter than the other chapters but I wanted to get it out and posted so…
"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." -- Nelson Mandela
He was watching the hallway intently from his hiding place. Every person passing him was measured, sized up, before being disregarded as unknowns. It took several days before his long wait finally paid off.
He picked up his scent before he even saw him - the other boy had done his friend a great disservice by wearing his clothes. His scent was now familiar too him, easily recognized. He licked his lips greedily as the boy passed him, savouring the moment as the pumping of blood reached his ears. Not long now before he could get revenge.
Dean didn't dare call the Ritters. He'd been gone a year and they probably thought he'd been kidnapped or died or something. Calling them would just not be a good idea. He'd have to make it on his own, fly under the radar as his dad always said, and just hope he wouldn't run into anyone he knew.
He parked his dad's car in the parking lot by the hospital and got out. He'd never thought he'd be so grateful for having lived in such a small city. The fact that there was only one hospital here sure made it easier for him in finding Kyle. Finding the ward and Kyle's room was a bit harder though. He was afraid to ask for him at the nurse's station. What would he say if they asked who he was? What would he do if they called Kyle's parents? He didn't know. All he knew was that he had to work fast. In and out and then disappear. His dad had taught them early on not to draw too much attention to themselves or stay in one place too long. He had pretty much disregarded all of his dad's rules by coming here but he still knew to be careful.
It took a little guessing on his part and some carefully chosen questions before he found himself on the right floor with Kyle's room number scribbled on the palm of his hand: 666.
As he crossed the hall he had no idea he was being watched or that someone would recognize him for who he used to be. He only had one thing in mind and that was to see his friend and make sure he was okay. He stopped briefly outside the room and put his ear to the door. The room was quiet. Almost scary quiet.
He glanced over his shoulder quickly to make sure he wasn't being watched or followed then he opened the door and went inside. He walked up to the bed slowly, suddenly afraid of what he was going to see, and stopped with a small gasp at the sight of his old friend.
There was a tube down his friend's throat and behind the bed, tucked away in the corner, was a ventilator. Dean stared at the machine fearfully and blinked when it hissed. Kyle's chest moved in sync with the hissing. Up. Down. Up. Down. Kyle's breathing, or rather the machine's breathing for him, was even and hadn't the ventilator sounded like Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies, Dean would've felt more at peace with it. He stepped up to the bed, hesitantly putting his hand over Kyle's. Had Kyle been awake he would've slapped his hand away and called him a pussy. But he wasn't and Dean closed his hand around Kyle's cold fingers without being called anything.
"Hey, buddy," he whispered and hawked awkwardly. "Missed me?"
It was weird talking to someone who didn't answer and even more so when it was someone he hadn't spoken to in such a long time. Whatever he was going to say would fall flat, he knew, because there was nothing he could say that would make this okay. His eyes travelled over his friend again and stopped at his chest. Kyle was tucked beneath several blankets although the room itself wasn't that cold. Gently Dean pulled the covers down until he could see the damage that had been inflicted on his friend. Kyle's chest was covered with bandages, strips carefully put over each of the places where the knife had gone into his body. Dean counted them; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…and soon realized how well placed each of the cuts were. It seemed as if Kyle's attacker hadn't been out to kill, but to seriously wound. But why would anyone do that? And why would they hurt Kyle?
He pulled the covers back up with a small frown and sat down in a chair that had been drawn up to the bed. It was probably the same chair Kyle's parents sat in when they visited.
Dean dared another glance at Kyle. He looked dead; paler than ever – and the guy was usually white enough to blind you - and his skin was cold and clammy. There was a small tube protruding from Kyle's neck, Dean was pretty sure it was called a central line, which was attached to a drip of some kind. Dean watched in fascination as the milky drip fluid dripped into a small chamber and then down the tube into Kyle's neck. He wondered briefly if it was actual milk they were feeding into his friend. Yeah, probably not.
"You've probably been wondering how Sam and I have been doing," Dean said in a low voice, a little surprised at what he was saying and that his mouth had suddenly decided to talk without his consent. "Well, Sasquatch has grown about five inches since you last saw him, I swear the kid's like a friggin' beanstalk or something." He chuckled. "But he's doing great, you know, he's a smart kid." He paused and breathed in slowly through his nose to steady himself. "And me…," he hesitated shortly, not quite sure how to continue, "I'm doing better - a lot better. I missed you though…" He laughed a little at how chick flick-y he sounded. "You were a good friend to me, Kyle, and I won't forget it."
He stopped to drag his hand over his eyes and when he started to speak again, his voice was serious.
"I know you're not doing so great right now, man, but you have to promise me that you will get better, okay?"
The ventilator hissed and Kyle's chest rose but other than that the room was quiet. Dean drew a shaky breath. "So…I have to go but--"
He was cut off when the door opened. He let go of Kyle's hand in an instant and whirled around to find himself face to face with a middle aged nurse.
"Who are you?" she asked, sizing him up. "You didn't sign in at the desk."
"Yeah. Um, I'm sorry. I forgot...," Dean stammered, getting off his chair quickly. "I was just… I'm gonna go, okay?"
The woman narrowed her eyes. "That sounds like a good idea."
Dean backed towards the door, hands slightly raised. "I'm sorry," he apologized again before backing out the door and taking off down the hall.
The nurse shook her head at him. Kids today had no respect for rules.
He wasn't prepared when the kid suddenly ran past him down the hall and therefore couldn't reach him before the elevator doors had closed behind the boy. He wasn't too worried about it though, he'd picked up the boy's scent and knew he could find him whenever he wanted to.
Dean exited the building with a racing pulse, worried that the nurse had called security on him. He knew he couldn't stay and that he probably wouldn't be able to see Kyle again but he couldn't just leave either. Kyle had looked worse than he'd imagined and he wasn't sure his friend was gonna make it. The only thing he knew for sure was that he couldn't stay at the hospital. He had to go. He made his way towards the car and was just about to get in the driver's seat when someone grabbed his arm and spun him around.
"What the hell did you think you were doing?!"
"What the hell did you think you were doing?!" John roared into his brother's face and Sam watched in shock as Dean visibly shrunk back at their dad's voice. John had never yelled at him, or Sam, like this before.
John didn't wait for Dean to answer, just grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and forced him into the car. Dean was pushed to the passenger side as John got in behind him and settled behind the wheel.
"Sam! Get in!" John growled and Sam quickly got in the back, their bags still in his hands.
The drive back seemed longer than twelve hours as John continued to yell at Dean, his fears and worries suddenly morphed into anger - Sam knew he was partly to blame for that. Dean was quiet the entire time, eyes fixed on the passing landscape, and Sam wondered if he even heard their father. Apparently, so did John.
"Are you listening to me?!"
Dean turned his head towards their father, but didn't meet his eyes. He looked defeated. "Yes, sir."
"What do you have to say for yourself?!"
Dean was silent for a moment and Sam watched him anxiously.
"It was stupid…and I'm sorry."
A chill ran down Sam's spine at his brother's reply. He sounded like he'd done when Reinhold had yelled at him and that was just wrong in so many ways. Their father shouldn't be able to elicit such a response from Dean; he shouldn't make him say that - not like this. It was just wrong. Did he not know how badly Dean had been treated? How many times he'd been yelled at?
"Sorry?!" John went on, "Sorry doesn't even begin to cover it! You put yourself at risk, you put this entire family at risk. How could you do something like that?! You know better!"
"I'm sorry," Dean said again, his voice almost a whisper, "I didn't mean to."
"You didn't mean to?!"
Sam could sense the pattern of repetition and decided to intervene before their dad completely destroyed his brother.
"It's not Dean you're mad at," he said, cutting into his father's yelling, "You're mad at me. If it hadn't been for me Dean wouldn't even have known about Kyle in the first place. So don't yell at him, he's been through enough."
John fell silent for a moment as Dean shot Sam an angry look.
Sam and Dean's eyes met in confusion, none of them had expected their dad to say that. John glanced at Sam in the rear view mirror. "You're absolutely right."
"I am?" Sam was unsure what to think.
John planted a hand on Dean's shoulder and squeezed it. "I'm sorry, Dean. I was wrong. I was scared for you, for us, but I shouldn't have yelled at you."
Dean stared at John with wide eyes. "It's okay, dad."
He looked on as the boy met up with his family in the parking lot and instantly recognized the older man. It was the man that had destroyed his life. He hadn't known that the boy and the man knew each other but was more than thrilled to find this out. It was perfect, like poetic justice in a way, that both the people he wanted revenge on were heading the same way.