Disclaimer: refer to chapter one

NOTE TO READERS: Well, this is it … the last chapter of the story. The update is around 7 pages long. Happy reading, I hope! As always, thanks!

Chapter Eight

Borrowed Hope

By Dawn Nyberg

Two Days Later, Observation Unit, Third Floor

Dean walked through the hallway guarding from any bumps or jostles. His ribs and sternum still hurt but the daytime pain meds he was taking were helping a lot. He had left Bobby with Sam in the Observation Unit while he went to get some papers filled out for Sam's release tomorrow morning. He was happy when Sam had been moved from the ICU to Stepdown but was ecstatic when he'd been moved to Observation a sure sign he was on the mend.

He rounded the corner into the unit and walked into Sam's room and noted the bathroom door was closed and Bobby sat watching the door with a concerned and troubled look. "What?" Dean's voice instantly worried. "Bobby?"

"He got a look at his chest," Bobby offered matter of fact. "Let's say it didn't go that well."

"What? Why? Did the doc say something was wrong?"

"Nah, Sam's healing," Bobby assured. "I mean he's got a way to go 'til he's 100 percent but he'll get there, the same as you."

"You don't have to worry about me," Dean replied as he stared at the closed door.

"I worry about the both of you, boy," Bobby's voice had a way of sounding stern and gentle all at once.

"Has he made any noises in there?"

"The water was running a minute or so before you walked in but he turned it off and then," Bobby inclined his head toward the door. "Then all's been quiet on the western front." Dean nodded and walked to the door

"Sammy?" Dean kept his voice soft as he knocked gently. "You fall in kiddo?"

Silence.

"Sammy?" Dean's voice edged up a bit.

"I'm fine," came a soft reply on the other side of the door. Dean pursed his lips at his little brother's reply of fine.

"Come on Sammy," Dean encouraged. "I think you've probably been on your feet too long, okay?" The door clicked and Dean looked at Bobby for a moment surprised his brother had acquiesced to his request so quickly. Sam emerged slowly. He still shuffled rather than walked and his posture was still slightly hunched as his body instinctively hunched to protect his injured yet healing chest. Sam's face spoke volumes to Dean and relayed a myriad of things to Dean's ever present big brother warning system. Bobby seemed to detect Sam's need to be with his brother and stood up.

"Here," Bobby reached up and gently supported Sam at the elbow to get him back to bed.

"I can make …" Sam's words were cut off by the older hunter.

"Close your pie hole boy," Bobby admonished. "You need help getting in and out of bed … the doctor said so and Dean's not supposed to be supporting your weight yet," he passed a stern look at the other young hunter. "So, no trying Dean, got it?" Dean just tightened his jaw and said nothing, so Bobby took that as an 'okay.' Bobby saw that Sam was safely back in bed and settled. "Okay, boys I'm gonna make some calls and take care of some business. I'll be back in time for dinner, okay?"

"Yeah, okay Bobby," Dean nodded and offered a knowing smile. Sam nodded in the older hunter's direction.

The silence in the room stretched for a few long minutes until Sam broke it. "You should have told me my chest was a mess Dean. I'm like Frankenstein."

"You got some stitches Sam, and you won't have them still when you leave, well not all the doc said so, and the others will be removed by the doc that's near Bobby's place," Dean offered. He had seen the sutures a few times when Sam was examined but his little brother had never really tried to see. It wasn't that bad. The side he had the corrective surgery on had a long suture line that followed his rib cage and stopped at his sternum. There would be a scar but Dean was certain that it wouldn't be anything major, but the way he looked at it the scar was worth it because it saved his brother's life. "And, the doc made sure they molded the metal plates they used to fix your ribs, so your chest would look normal. You'll have a scar, no big deal … and since when do you care about scars anyway?"

"I don't." Sam looked everywhere but at his brother.

"So, what's the problem? I think it's kinda cool you'll be able to set off metal detectors. I should start callin' you Wolverine," Dean joked trying to lighten the mood.

"Very funny," Sam gave his brother a well practiced annoyed little brother look.

"Seriously, Sammy," Dean began. "You were in bad shape … ribs basically caved in … you had a hole in the sac around your heart," Dean looked away for a moment as memories assaulted him when he had first learned his little brother had had heart surgery and could have very well died.

"Dean," Sam's voice soft as he watched the emotions play across his brother's face. "You know when I heard you had to be rushed into surgery …" Dean looked at his brother then as Sam's voice dropped off.

"I'm okay Sam," Dean assured.

"Yeah, now … well basically, but I heard the doc say you still needed to take it easy. I'm not stupid Dean I know you were sitting with me when you nearly bled to death, your freakin' heart stopped man…"

"Sammy," Dean began.

"Nah, man … seriously if Bobby hadn't walked in when he did you'd probably be …" Sam felt his chest tighten with the thought that he could have woken up only to be told he'd lost his brother he looked away toward the window. Dean sighed gently and reached over and dropped a hand on his sibling's forearm. He gave a soft squeeze.

"I'm okay Sammy and most importantly you're gonna be too, so we're cool, alright, remember the rules …"

"What rules?"

"No Chick-flick moments," Dean smiled. Sam rolled his eyes.

"Hey you're the one that went all Lifetime movie moment first not me," Sam retorted with a dimpled smile.

"I did not…" Dean feigned disgust.

There was a knock on the metal door frame. "You didn't what?" Bobby asked easily as he walked in carrying three Styrofoam containers.

"Nothing," Dean answered quickly and Bobby glanced at Sam and received an amused smile but he didn't say anything. "You're back early." Bobby quirked an eyebrow.

"Early," he glanced at his watch. "It's almost five. I was gone for three hours."

"Really? Man, where'd the day go?" Dean sniffed the wafting smells from the containers. "Do I smell grub?"

"You do," Bobby answered as he stepped forward and swiveled around the rolling bedside table. "I got some dinner for us. I thought you could use a break from that poor excuse for food they've been surviving you. I swear I ate better in the jungles hidin' in foxholes." Bobby mused gently.

Bobby had bought himself and Dean meatloaf dinners and Sam a grilled chicken dinner. Sam had to smile inwardly at the notion that Bobby actually bought him grilled chicken knowing he isn't the hard core red meat eater that his brother is. "How's the chicken Sam?" Bobby asked as he bit into a dinner roll.

"It's good Bobby thanks."

"Man, Sammy you and that prima Donna food you eat I bet that dish was called Chicken frou-frou or something like that." Sam's lips thinned at his brother.

"Yeah, whatever, at least I'm not eating half a cow … I mean have you seen that hunk of meat?"

"Oh, yeah and I plan on eatin' every bite," Dean made a point of shoving in a large piece and offered a smug smile. "At least Bobby and I eat real food."

"Hey, keep me out of this and give your brother a break Dean," Bobby chided with ease. "There's nothin' wrong with what he eats and anyway you'd think you'd be used to it by now. That kid brother of yours has been eatin' that way for as long as I've known you boys, so leave him be."

Sam was the one with the smug smile now.

The evening had passed with good conversation and Dean couldn't stop talking about Sam's discharge tomorrow. Sam yawned.

"Sam you should get some rest," Bobby suggested gently as he witnessed the yawn.

"Only if you get him to the hotel tonight," Sam leveled a look at his brother.

"Sam we've been through this more times than I care to count. I think you suffered some kind of brain damage to your short term memory of something. I'm fine here. That sleeping chair folds down, so I'm good."

"No, you're not," Sam countered. "You know your supposed to still be helped up from beds and stuff and couches ... you're still healing."

"Your brother is right Dean." Bobby agreed. "Did you even sleep flat last night?"

"No, he didn't he slept with it a little reclined," Sam jumped in. "Take him to the hotel Bobby."

"Sam," Dean's voice was serious.

"Dammit Dean I won't sleep wondering if you're in pain or not resting. I'm getting out of here tomorrow, okay? I'm not on death's door or something. I'm fine … or at least I'm gonna be, so please…" then Sam delivered the look and Dean caved, he always caved and had finally come to terms with the fact that his little brother's sappy dark eyes would always be his weakness.

"Fine, I'm going," Dean grumbled. Bobby stood to help Dean up. He had reclined a little in the chair and that position was much harder for him to get up from without pulling on his ribs and causing his sternum to hurt.

"Okay, cowboy let's get you up," Bobby mused. Dean just complained under his breath. "What was that?"

"Nothin'," Dean replied.

"That's what I thought," Bobby answered. "Okay, Sam we'll see you in the morning when you can finally blow this joint. Sleep well."

"Yeah, thanks Bobby. Goodnight guys."

"Night Sammy, if you need …"

"Yeah, I know," Sam offered a small smile of assurance in his sibling's direction.

Later the Next Day

"You doin' okay back there Sammy?"

"For the sixth time … yeah," Sam complained. They had left the hospital just a few minutes ago and traffic for 9 AM was pretty heavy, so the short five minute drive to the motel had turned into fifteen minutes and Dean had been coddling and asking Sam incessant questions about pain or was he cramped, was he okay and Sam was just about to blow.

"You sure, cause …"

"Dean, I swear you ask me if I'm okay one more time and I'll get out and walk to that damn motel." Dean frowned and wiggled in seat. He wouldn't put it past his little brother to try although he knew he wouldn't get far with his snail shuffle walk.

"Whatever," Dean bristled and didn't say another word. Bobby just too in a cleansing breath and slowly let it out, he was happy to have both boys on the mend and out of the hospital but he knew he'd have his hands full … and he wouldn't have it any other way.

Four Months Later, Bobby's Place, South Dakota

"I'm thinkin' we should sit this hunt out Sammy … it's just a simple haunting, let someone else do it."

"Dean, look man, I'm good, the doc gave the thumbs up for regular activity."

"Yeah, regular activity, our work isn't regular activity," Dean countered. Sam offered a thin, but amused smile. "So, maybe a little more R and R …"

"Hell no," Sam barked. "The doctor gave me the thumbs up a month ago Dean and I'm tired of sitting on my ass. When I was ready last month you said let's wait, so I waited and I'm done waiting."

"But…"

"No more buts Dean," Sam spoke evenly. "I feel good and I haven't needed pain meds for over two months."

"But you still hurt sometimes," Dean replied quickly. "I see you wince sometimes, I'm not blind."

"What and you don't, you were hurt too, but you always seem to forget that … you know the only reason I've put up with this mother hen crap is because I knew if I was taking it easy you would too, but we're both ready, I promise, I'm ready," Sam met his brother's eyes and held it and gave him a lopsided dimpled grin and Dean couldn't help but chuckle.

"Alright," he conceded. "The gig is about an hour from here we can be back in time for Bobby's chili."

"You boys be careful," Bobby said from the doorway. "I could come with you," he offered.

"We're good Bobby," Dean offered easily. "We'll be back for grub."

"Okay, you know where I am," the unsaid offer of help if needed was clearly understood, and he turned and went back toward the kitchen. Dean smiled as he watched the man go. He knew Bobby was worried, after all, he'd been their nurse maid, so to speak since he was able to bring them home … home he idly thought to himself, and when he thought about it, this place was a home for him and his little brother.

"You ready?" Sam asked.

"I was born ready," Dean countered with ease. Sam just gave him an exasperated eye roll and followed his big brother out the door.

The End

I hope you enjoyed the final chapter and weren't let down by the ending. I didn't know my schedule would be so insane and it doesn't appear to be getting better any time soon, unfortunately. I knew if I didn't get this chapter posted today it might not have been until later in the week and I always try to keep my promises.

I really do appreciate everyone that has taken the time to read this story and any of my others!! Also, thanks to every reviewer and person that has PM'd me, thanks again!!

I have some more story ideas percolating in my head and a couple are long story ideas, so when I have time I will try and write but may go back to writing and completing a story first before posting, as that method did work for me once, so I may go back to it. At any rate, I have more ideas and hope to have something else for you in the not so distant future.

Thank you for reading!