Aquarium Part 2
The finale...will Sam survive?
Neither Dean nor Bobby noticed that the water level had shrunk back down, and once again barely covered the floor of the tank. They were way too busy.
"Dean let me help, you're exhausted!" Bobby shoved Dean to one side and took over the chest compressions, whilst Dean breathed for his brother between each set.
Minutes seemed to stretch into hours and Dean could almost hear the clock ticking. Sam's time was running out. When nothing happened and Sam remained unresponsive, Dean began to lose heart.
"No. This can't be happening, this can't be real. I can't lose you Sam." His little brother was depending on him to save his life, and Dean was failing him. A sudden burst of anger erupted inside him, and all the sad excuses that passed for conversations with Sam from the last few weeks raced through his head. All those hurtful words, the cold shoulders, the silent treatment…all he'd subjected his brother to.
It was enough to tip him over the edge.
"No way. Not now. You're coming back whether you want to or NOT!" Dean finished his rant on an anguished roar and pushed Bobby's hands away, taking back full control of CPR, practically pounding on Sam's chest, tears streaming unchecked down his face.
Sam's body suddenly lurched and water once again gushed out of his mouth. Dean flipped him onto his side supporting his head with one hand, whilst the other worked frantically to thump his back.
"That's it Sam! That's m'boy!" Dean watched in fearful fascination as blood continued to spill from the nasty looking gash in the back of Sam's head, trailing away into the water tank like a crimson snake. There's just so damn much of it!
As the last of the gasps and choking died away, Dean opened Sam's mouth, relieved to feel light warm puffs of air on his hand. His brother was still unconscious, but at least he was alive. For now.
"That's good Sammy." He whispered. "Just keep breathing for me ok? We're gonna get you some help."
"Come on. Let's get him to a hospital." Ordered Bobby, and he moved to pick up the weapons, shoving them into his coat pockets as best he could. As Dean gathered Sam into his arms, Bobby grabbed his legs and between them they managed to lift him up from the cold wet floor.
They moved as fast as they could back down to the basement, then out into the cool night air.
"Get in back of my truck and keep checking on his breathin'" Bobby helped Dean slide his brother into the back seat then jumped in behind the wheel. The engine started first time and the truck took off in search of the nearest medical facility.
Dean couldn't take his eyes off Sam the entire journey. He watched for signs that his brother was coming round and grew desperate when it didn't happen. If anything, Sam's breathing became weaker, the rise and fall of his chest less frequent. Dean knew things were getting really bad when the shuddering and shaking began, but hoped it was just down to being dumped in the cold water for so long
Sadly, the cold was the least of Sam's problems.
"Put your foot down!" Dean yelled out when Sam started full on convulsing. "No! Sammy come on, don't do this to me!" Dean held him tightly, feeling the violent jerks and tremors, forced to listen to the gasping, choking, and ragged, desperate attempts to breathe. Keeping Sam's arms pinned so it couldn't hurt himself, Dean once again felt the traitorous salt water tracks down his own face as he watched Sam's lips turn a horrifying shade of blue. "Sam no! Breathe for me, please Sammy, you have to breathe!"
"We're almost there!" Bobby screeched into the parking lot of the local hospital and slammed on the brakes. Leaping out, he left the driver's door open and ran into the ER, shouting for help.
"Sammy hold on!" Dean whispered frantically.
A second later he found himself surrounded by paramedics and doctors, and suddenly Sam was ripped out of his arms. Dean watched in despair as his little brother was loaded onto a gurney and rushed inside the building.
He looked down at his shirt. It was his favourite shirt, but now it was ruined by the seemingly vast amounts of blood that had poured from his baby brother's head wound as he'd lain against Dean's chest during the race to the hospital.
Even if it could be saved, Dean didn't think he could bring himself to wear it again.
"I can't lose you." He whispered over and over to himself. "I can't lose you."
It was a full ten seconds before Dean even noticed the coffee cup being held out in front of him, and Bobby had to grip his shoulder to get his attention.
"Uh…thanks." His voice was dull and lifeless, rather like his little brother lying in the bed next to his chair.
The last twenty four hours had been the longest and toughest Dean and Bobby had ever known. Sam had been instantly rushed to a CT scan and from there into surgery; they'd attempted to repair a bad fracture to his skull, which was then followed by his doctor announcing that the extent of the head injury was so critical that Sam couldn't even breathe on his own. Things went from bad to worse when it became obvious that there was still water in Sam's lungs, and he'd almost suffered secondary drowning.
To top it off, severe cerebral oedema had set in causing a rise in intracranial pressure, and if it didn't ease up soon…
Dean began to feel sick just thinking about it.
In short, things were looking pretty bad for Sam, and his chances of survival were growing increasingly grim the longer he remained unconscious.
"Dean." Bobby's voice finally filtered through to him. "Sam's strong. You know he'll pull through. Right?"
Dean blinked then turned to face him.
"Yeah. 'Course he will. He's just…." The doctor's words kept repeating in his head, along with Sam's.
Your brother is deeply unconscious…
Why are you saying this to me?
Because I want you to be honest with yourself...
His chances aren't good…
...too little, too late...
I'm not all right...but neither are you.
I should warn you; he could go at any moment. I'm so very sorry...
Dean could see Sam's hurt gaze in his mind, could feel his little brother reaching out to him.
Swallowing hard Dean tried again. "He's just resting. He's tired and not been sleeping well lately." And little wonder with all the shit I've given him!
Oh God! Sammy please don't die!
Dean had resisted all of Bobby's attempts to get him to move from Sam's bedside. Even when he announced having booked them into a motel down the road, complete with the promise of a long hot shower and a change of clothes, Dean still wouldn't back down.
So the medical staff had to get used to Sam's older brother haunting the ICU.
Bobby brought him food as well as coffee, and although he forced himself to eat he couldn't really taste it. He was only eating to keep his strength up.
But every time he stared at Sam's pale silent form, he came close to bringing it all straight back up again.
The respirator unnerved him. It was the only thing keeping his brother alive and every so often it seemed to Dean as though there was a slight hitch, a slight delay before the next breath. It taunted him to the point where he thought he was going out of his mind.
Was Sam even here anymore? Is it still him?
Sam's lips, from what Dean could see round the ET tube holder in his mouth, were virtually bloodless. The lack of colour overall was another thing that freaked him out. Sam usually sported a slight tan, even when he was at his most tired. But not now.
The thick bandaging round Sam's head should've looked comical, but Dean was in no mood to laugh. Sometimes, on waking up in the middle of the night, he thought he heard Sam speak to him, but with the breathing tube wedged in his throat, that was impossible.
He wondered briefly if Sam was having an out of body experience, much like Dean had in hospital just after the semi hit them, and perhaps he could hear everything that was said in his presence.
So Dean filled in the days by talking to Sam, talking to Bobby when he dropped by, talking to Sam's doctors and nurses in the forlorn hope of receiving some good news. By night he slept in the chair by his brother's bed, feet up on the other seat normally used by Bobby during the day.
He sat through all the tests and monitoring, all the re-examinations, watching over Sam like a hawk. But as more time passed and Sam showed no signs of regaining consciousness, the doctors became less and less optimistic. Not that they'd held out much hope to start with.
"Ya know I guess it's true what they say, with turn about being fair play and all." Dean held one of Sam's hands in both of his, frowning a little at how cool his skin felt. As he continued talking he gently rubbed his hand, trying to warm it up. "I know you've been feeling bad about the things you said to Dad before he died." Dean let out a humourless laugh. "Thing is, most of it was probably true." He turned his gaze on Sam's face, noting how much thinner he'd become in just a few weeks. "And now I'm gonna be the one to feel guilty, at letting you down when you needed me. Those things I said to ya Sammy…they weren't true, ok? I was just hitting out. Angry. Angry as hell. You were the closest target, and I know it wasn't fair. Truth is I'm not as strong as you Sam. I won't be able to live with the guilt, of knowing how much I hurt you, if you die….." Leaning into his little brother's ear, he whispered "So please, don't make me do it Sammy. Don't leave."
A light squeeze on his hand and Dean shot straight up in his seat, eyes wide with hope. "Sam? You with me bro?"
There it was again, a little stronger this time.
For the first time in days Dean actually smiled, and if his eyes watered a little, well that was just because he was tired. No other reason.
"Try it one more time Sam. Squeeze my hand if you can hear me." When the pressure on his hand came again, Dean was full on grinning from ear to ear. In fact he didn't stop grinning as he pressed the call button.
Sam's face was still pale and his eyes were firmly closed.
But he can hear me!
"I heard the good news." Bobby poked his head round the door.
Dean smiled up at him, motioned for him come inside, not that Bobby ever needed an invitation, and signalled that he should keep his voice down.
Bobby stood over Sam and nodded approvingly. His colour was improving, and even though he was still on the respirator he was definitely looking more alive and less like a corpse.
"So he's really startin' to wake up." Bobby shook his head. "I told ya!"
"Yeah, though he is being his typical stubborn ass self and takin' his sweet time about it." But there was no real heat to Dean's words. He was just glad things were finally looking up.
"What's his doctor say?" Bobby asked as he sat down.
Dean put aside the car magazine he'd been reading to Sam, and leaned forward in his seat. "He's not outta the woods yet. Although his intra…thingimejig pressure is still a little high and it could be anything from a few days to a few weeks...he'll get there." He reached out and gently grasped Sam's hand. "Hey Sammy, guess who's here to see ya?"
Bobby held Sam's other hand and smiled gruffly when he felt a slight pressure against his fingers. "That's it kid; you just keep on fightin' for your brother. And when you wake up maybe he'll finally stop torturing everyone on the unit and go take a shower. Or at least a change of clothes!"
"Hey!" Dean admonished softly, but chuckled just the same. "The ward staff let me use the shower in Sam's bathroom, and I changed into the clothes you brought by!"
They fell silent until Dean couldn't hold it back anymore.
"I've been a real asshole to Sam."
Bobby nodded, then smiled. "Yep. I aint gonna deny that. But you've been through a hell of a time, so don't be so hard on yaself. Sam won't. I can pretty much promise you that."
They talked a while longer before official visiting hours were over and Bobby had to leave, but Dean of course continued to be the exception to that rule.
Dean was feeling pretty good these days and as he made his way back from the coffee machine, he finally started noticing how cute the nurses were. He even thought about seeing how many phone numbers he could get.
But as he passed the nurses' station he heard the flurry of panic up ahead. And it seemed to be coming from Sam's room. He started frowning, then started running.
Nonononono! He was doin' so well!
Dumping his untouched coffee in the nearest trashcan, he sped up until he was skidding to a halt in the doorway, grabbing desperately on to the frame.
"What is it? What's wrong?" He practically yelled out in fear.
Sam's doctor turned and smiled. "He's fine. I just removed the ET tube. He's breathing on his own now, though I think he panicked a little!"
Dean sagged against the doorframe, his knees threatening to give way and dump his ass unceremoniously on the floor. Instead he just about staggered over to Sam's bed and sank into his usual seat.
"Thank god…I thought…I…" words failed him as he stared at his brother. The respirator was indeed gone, replaced by a transparent tube running under his nose. "Sam, are you enjoying this? Watching me squirm?" Once the doctor had left in a whirl of reassurances, Dean rested his head against Sam's mattress and took a few deep breaths. Looking back up at his brother's peaceful face, he could swear Sam was actually laughing at him.
Dean scowled. "You're so lucky you aint outta danger yet little bro, or I'd be placing forks and spoons in your mouth. Then I'll be the one godamn laughing as I post your photos on the internet!"
Dean cracked open an eye. He'd definitely felt Sam's hand move again. It was around three o'clock in the morning…and wouldn't that be just plain typical for Sam to choose the most antisocial time possible to wake up? Little bastard!
At night, Dean had always kept a firm grip on his little brother's hand just in case he woke up to find a snoring, drooling older brother sitting by his bed. But mainly, he just didn't want Sam to be scared when he eventually did decide to rejoin the world of the living.
"Sammy?" Dean called softly. "You wakin' up now?"
This time when he felt the faint squeeze it was accompanied by movement under Sam's eyelids.
"That's it Sam, come on back." Dean smiled when the eye movement sped up and finally….
….Dean could just about make out a glint of blue-green as Sam's eyes opened to small slits.
"Dean…" he whispered. "C…can you pl..please turn down the lights? It hurts…my eyes."
"Not a problem little bro," Dean whispered back and reached out to a dimmer switch on the wall, turning the lights down real low for Sam's sake, then he pressed the call button. "I'm under strict instructions to call a nurse the minute you wake up so they can check you over and give you something for the pain. But personally I think they just wanted to see which of us has the sexiest eyes." He gave a small shrug. "I win hands down of course."
Sam smiled faintly. "Yeah right."
Sam's voice was reed thin but at least he was awake, and talking. Though Dean doubted he'd stay awake for long.
A nurse bustled in, had Sam's doctor paged, and pretty soon the poor kid was being poked and prodded once again, though he didn't complain once, and after the pain meds had been administered Sam was drifting off.
He didn't wake up again until the following afternoon, and, as before, it was a slow process. The room faced south and Dean had the curtains already closed so it wouldn't hurt Sam's eyes.
"How ya feelin' Sam?" Dean brushed Sam's hair out of his eyes. It had become a habit since his brother was admitted to the ICU a few weeks ago, one he couldn't quite bring himself to kick. At least, not just yet.
Sam blinked slowly, his eyes still a little unfocused. "Thirsty." A straw was tucked into his mouth and he gratefully sucked up the cool liquid, draining the cup within seconds. "What happened back there?"
"What do you remember?" Dean asked softly, watching Sam with a good deal of concern.
"Not much. You got me out of the water…" His voice trailed off as he frowned and winced in pain.
"Take it easy dude. You still got a way to go." Dean refilled the cup from the water jug on the nightstand and let Sam drink a little more. "The spirit was Keith Davies, and he hadn't quite finished with you. He sent the grate back down on your head; damn near split your skull in two before knocking you back into the water." Dean watched as Sam turned his head slightly towards him. "You nearly didn't make it kiddo," he finished softly.
They stayed silent for a few moments, just staring at each other.
Dean frowned. "What for?"
"I wouldn't be here now if it weren't for you." Sam smiled sadly. "I'm sorry for screwing up so bad. I always was a pain in your ass, even when Dad…after he…" a small tear sneaked its way down the side of his face. He suddenly screwed his eyes shut as a wave of pain assaulted him, wreaking havoc.
"Sam?" Dean leaned closer as his brother let out a small whimper of distress. "Sammy, calm down ok? You can't afford to get worked up. Just breathe slowly."
When Sam opened his eyes again they were still laced with both physical and emotional pain. When he tried to speak he found it too hard, and he slumped miserably deeper into his pillows.
But that was ok. Because Dean was about to do all the talking for him.
He pretty much repeated everything he'd said to Sam over the weeks when he'd been comatose. Dean hadn't really planned on saying anything, but seeing how his little brother was hurting so badly, he felt it was high time silent-brooding-Dean was shelved for now, and finally let Sam know what he needed to hear.
The only part he left out was the burden his father had placed on him. Sam wasn't ready to hear that, and Dean wasn't yet ready to talk about it.
"Sam, I'm sorry. I had no right to say..." He glanced away for a second, trying to compose himself, but soon returned his gaze, locking eyes with Sam. He was determined to get this out. "I should never have shut you out. It didn't occur to me how much you needed to talk; I could see what it was doing to you but none of it seemed real." He shook his head, then stared hard at the floor. "I know I let you down, man. And I promise it won't happen again."
He felt rather than saw his brother slide his hand into his, and gave it the all too familiar squeeze.
"Dean, you never let me down. Not once in your whole life. You were hurtin' is all." Sam smiled a little when Dean raised his head again, then whispered "Now quit bein' a girl and get me some more water."
Dean snorted and re-filled the cup. "Yeah sure, little sister!"
"Bite me Deana!"
"Don't you go comparin' me to the ship's counsellor. I'm far prettier than that Star Trek bitch!"
Sam started laughing and winced. "You're such a jerk!"
"I guess that means someone's finally awake." A familiar figure stood in the doorway. "Been knocking for a damn lifetime and no one heard me."
Sam rolled his head slowly towards the newcomer and smiled lazily. "Hey Bobby."
"How ya doin' Sam?" Bobby smiled down at him.
Sam nodded. "M'ok."
He was starting to tire again and Dean noticed he was also still a little pale. "Why don't you get some rest dude? We can all talk later."
But his brother's eyes were already closing.
Dean and Bobby quietly moved out into the hallway.
"So how's he really doin'?" Bobby leaned against the wall.
"He's in a lot of pain, but I think he'll be ok." Dean shuffled his feet a little, almost nervously.
"Spit it out kid!"
"Uh…is it ok if Sam and I stay at your place for a while longer? Just until he's better. I don't think hittin' the roads' gonna be good for him. We won't get in your way and I'll help out round the yard…"
Bobby glared at him until Dean's voice trailed off nervously.
"You tryin' to insult me boy?" Bobby clamped a hand on Dean's shoulder and forced him down into a seat so he could loom over him threateningly. "Now you listen to me and you listen good. Firstly, you never had to ask and never will. Secondly, damn straight Sam isn't well enough to be travellin', and yeah, you'll help out round the place 'cos Sam won't be fit for researchin' and diggin' up hunts, and you need somethin' to keep ya outta trouble."
It was probably the longest speech anyone had ever heard from Bobby Singer. So Dean, feeling like a chastised school kid, made his shortest speech ever.
Bobby's moustache twitched a little as he held back a smile. He was looking forward to having the boys around again, though he figured Sam was going to be a handful once he was up and about. He'd learned the hard way through the boys' father that you couldn't keep a Winchester down.
"Dean you're cheating again."
"You're so obviously cheating. What did you do? Mark the cards?"
"I don't need to cheat. I am the master and you're just….you."
Sam threw him the bitchy little brother look. "Nice Dean. Taking advantage of your sick sibling. Real sporting."
"Hand on my heart Sammy; I wouldn't cheat my own brother." Dean actually had the nerve to look affronted. Sam started laughing which ended in a wince and a long drawn out yawn.
Dean couldn't help feeling concerned at the way Sam tired so easily, even though his doctor had assured them both it was to be expected after everything he'd been through. Sam's vast array of medications lay nearby as did his personal affects, and the man himself was just itching for his release papers.
Dean wasn't so sure that AMA was the way to go, and neither did his brother's doctor, but Sam was climbing the walls and threatening to walk out under his own steam if they didn't let him go soon.
"You boys ready?" Bobby strode in pushing a wheelchair.
Sam's face was a picture as he stared at the contraption. "No way! I'm not sitting in that thing!"
Dean immediately rounded on him, successfully hiding his laughter. "Oh yes you are. You sign yourself out against medical advice, and this is what you get. Now sit!"
Sam glared at him, eyes twitching, and Dean could almost hear the cogs turning in his brother's brain as Sam tried to work a way round this. But Dean stood back, feet shoulder width apart, folded his arms and narrowed his eyes in an expression that said quite clearly just try me little brother, just try me!
Sam still couldn't roll his eyes too well these days as it hurt his healing skull too much, but old habits die hard and he bit back a groan of pain when he sat in the wheelchair. As he was wheeled out into the hallway, Sam slouched lower in the seat trying to hide his face by resting his forehead in his hand. It didn't work, but that was because Dean insisted on stopping to chat with every pretty nurse he'd met since Sam's incarceration, and…..
'incidentally, this is my little brother Sam. He got drunk and cracked his skull open before falling in the swimming pool'...and Sam somehow managed to sink even lower in the chair.
If his rapidly developing headache didn't kill him, Sam was fairly certain, even hopeful that embarrassment would. But he wasn't going down without a fight; he was taking his big brother with him….
'Dean? Could you get me some water? My head hurts; your snoring kept me awake most of the night, oh and dude? Next time you drool, could you please at least wipe it off the bed clothes when you wake up? I stuck my elbow in some this morning'…
Now Dean's face was a picture, and Bobby chuckled to himself at the evil grin on the younger brother's face.
Sam wasn't one hundred percent yet, but he was well on the way!
Both brothers had some healing to do but this time they stood a better chance.
This time they were a team.
Bobby chucked some more wood on the fire then sat back and took a swig of beer. "Food's nearly ready boys."
Sam smiled, relaxing in the warmth. He knew he'd been over doing it lately, researching and trying to track down ol' Yellow Eyes. Dean had been working on the Impala whilst Bobby was out of town for a few days, so he had no idea what Sam was up to during the day.
But he soon found out.
Sam had been out of hospital for about a week but he still suffered from some pretty nasty headaches, and even passed out a few times. The first time had Dean going into major over-protective mode, and threatened to take him straight back to the hospital if it happened again. But then, Sam had been out for the best part of an hour, with Dean finding him on the kitchen floor, so he couldn't really blame him for worrying. Dean even confiscated the laptop, despite Sam promising he would take it easy and rest up some more.
The second time had been Dean's fault, though an honest mistake. The boys had been squabbling good-naturedly over the last piece of toast, when Sam reached out and snatched it from the plate. He shoved the whole slice forcefully into his mouth, chewed and swallowed before Dean could get it back. Without thinking, Dean had cuffed him lightly round the back of the head just before he turned and made his way back to the kitchen to fix some more toast, but the loud noise behind him had him spinning round to find Sam out cold. He'd passed out and crashed straight through Bobby's glass coffee table.
Fortunately he'd suffered no major injuries, just a few cuts and bruises, not to mention another nasty headache. Dean had become insufferable after that, his guilt driving him into over load until Sam had threatened to shoot out the brand new tires on the Impala if he didn't quit.
So Sam had been more than a little surprised when one evening Dean called him on his new cell – his old one having been completely destroyed at the aquarium – and asked him to meet up at the North end of Bobby's property, by the pond. Apparently he needed Sam's help with
something, but when he got there Dean and Bobby already had a nice campfire going, cold beers nestled in a bucket of water, and the smell of hot dogs and chilli filled the air.
Bobby raised his beer. "To John."
Sam stiffened up and his gaze shot to Dean, who smiled sadly and returned the gesture.
"To you Dad. Happy belated birthday." Without giving Sam the chance to worry, he continued "So Bobby, tell us about you and Dad in the early years. What was it like training him?"
Bobby let out a bark of laughter. "He was a fast learner but stubborn as hell. Hated being proved wrong..."
"Sounds like someone else I know." Sam interrupted with a smirk.
"Hey!" Dean protested instantly, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.
"I'm just sayin'..."
"You boys wanna hear this or not?!" Bobby glared at them in mock anger.
Dean and Sam laughed and nodded apologetically.
Bobby stared into the flames and reminisced. "On his first salt and burn, your father dug up the wrong coffin, but the second one was worse. He fell in an empty grave and I had to go steal a ladder to get him out."
The boys stared at him in shock.
"He never told me that!" Dean started laughing. "What a klutz! I always wondered where Sam got it from!"
"Hey!" Sam scowled at his brother. "I am not a klutz!"
"Oh you so are!"
"As I was sayin'...!" Bobby was determined to put a stop to the bickering, no matter how much it amused him. "Your daddy made his share of mistakes. Like the first time he attempted Latin to banish a poltergeist? He came off sounding French, and bad French at that, which confused the hell out of the spirit let me tell you..."
Sam burst out laughing, wincing a little as his poor head protested against the harsh treatment.
"So let me get this straight," Dean choked out around his own laughter, "Dad tried for the catholic priest angle, but wound up sounding like Inspector Clouseau? Oh that is priceless!"
"Oh you think that's bad enough?" Bobby raised an eyebrow. "I've got a lot more where those come from."
"When your Dad once investigated a barn haunting he fell outta the loft and into a big ol' heap o'cow dung..."
"I remember that night!" Dean exclaimed loudly. "When Dad came back he smelled so bad, I locked him outta the motel room. He had to borrow the managers hose pipe to get cleaned up before I'd let him in..."
Sam turned to him, surprise written all over his face. "You did that? You defied our Dad?" He shook his head grinning. "Wonders will never cease!"
Settling back against the trunk of a fallen tree, Bobby carried on telling John's sons about his antics in the early years of hunting. His heart hadn't felt so light in years as he listened to their laughter.
Sure, they were still hurting over their father's death, but that they could smile again was a good sign.
Things were looking brighter each day.
Well that's it for this AU. It's been a lot of fun writing it...
Many thanks for the kind reviews.
Hope you enjoyed it and please let me know what you think!