Title: Leave the medical stuff to the professionals.
Beta: The wildly talented and ravishing Mad Server. All consistencies belong to Mad Server… all inconsistencies are my very own.
Disclaimer: I am still waiting for my package from Amazon. Until then, not mine.
"Move, Sam!" Sam coaches himself out loud, in a voice that channels Dean. "Suck it up and run."
Sam grips his arm across his lower abdomen, tucks his head, and runs. This is the part of the hunt that he hates. The not knowing, the throat closing terror, the confusion, the ache inside as parts of his body that are meant to be stationary, shift.
He can hear Dean's breath's panting from a parallel trail. Good. Dean's okay. Keep running.
The wind still whirls through the trees, flicking up dust and twigs in the early morning twilight.
They've just dispatched a wind wraith but an unfortunate side effect is the death throes that seem to linger endlessly.
Death should be quiet. Doesn't their prey know that? It must be taking lessons from the Winchesters – they don't seem to know how to lie down and die quietly either. Sam has been close to death so many times that he's beginning to wonder if he'll know how to go through with it when he gets there.
Such thoughts whirl through Sam's head as the Impala finally comes into view at the end of the path. The shooting agony in his side and shoulder make him lightheaded and he feels disconnected from reality. Briefly he wonders if he'll learn about death sooner than he wants. It suddenly seems easy. Intuitive, even.
Sam's legs, responding to his momentary doubt, rebel and fold in on themselves.
With a momentary loss of time, Sam's next moment of awareness is hitting the hard dirt. His shoulder explodes, he barely feels the strain on his bruised kidneys, and, by the time his head makes the dust fly up, he's found darkness.
Unfortunately, the dust invades Sam's blessed unconsciousness, making him curl in on himself as he coughs and struggles to draw a clean breath.
"Move, Sam!" This time the voice comes from beyond him on the trail. He grudgingly lifts his throbbing head and sees Dean's intense face glaring back at him. "Suck it up and let's go!"
Sam seems to have lost the capacity for rational thought. Fortunately his body is programmed to respond to his brother's orders. He gets up. He sucks it up. He runs.
Sam loses time over the next few minutes.
Hitting the car.
Gasping as it sends jolts through his already trembling frame.
Pushing away from Dean as he reaches out to help him.
"Don't touch me," he grits out desperately. Fear of additional pain puts him on the defensive and he holds himself tight.
"Scoot over. I'll get the door," Dean counters, quiet in his understanding.
Panting as the car door shuts behind him, barely touching him but sending shock waves through his aching body.
Folding forward as nausea catches up with him on the road. Deep breaths.
"Hospital or hotel, Sam?" Dean's steady, commanding voice breaks through his concentration.
Sam starts to assess, then grimaces and focuses on breathing again instead. He teeters on the edge, barely holding it together. He doesn't want anyone touching him. Especially not strangers with reckless hands, professional distance, and generic concern.
"Hotel," he finally whispers, quickly, before Dean takes the choice away from him.
"Hotel, my ass," comes back to him, but, as panic starts to rise, he notes that Dean points the car in that direction anyway.
"Come on Sam. Let's get you inside," Dean breathes a little to his right.
Sudden exploding pain in his shoulder. Retching onto the pavement. Dean supporting him with a warm hand on his chest.
Soft bedding. Sam turns his head to the left, trying to get distance between him and his fiery shoulder.
"Sam?" Dean's soft voice penetrates his awareness.
Sam grunts in response.
"Did you hit your head, Sam?"
A minute shake of his head then a grimace as it sends lightening bolts down his arm.
"If it hurts to shake it, then you probably hit it," Dean counters in return.
"No. My shoulder," Sam murmurs.
Sam's closed eyes are assaulted by flashing lights. He's back in the car with no memory of how he got there. He cracks his eyes in suspicion and scowls at the sight of the clinic entrance.
"Dean-," he grits out.
"Sammy-," Dean starts at the same time.
Sam scowls, Dean continues.
"Your shoulder is rough, man. I don't want to screw it up. Your brachial pulse is weak and it's so swollen I can't tell if it's back in place. When you really wake up, it's gonna hurt, Sam. Let's let the nice docs here take care of it and give you some good stuff."
Sam fights off the need to vomit. He glances at Dean, his eyes not quite making it to Dean's. He stares fixated on the ignition instead. "I don't want to stay here," he whispers carefully, face fighting to stay in control.
Dean pauses and runs an assessing eye over his brother's hunched form.
"Okay, Sam. We won't stay. Let's let the docs put you back together and then we'll go. Okay?"
Sam swivels his gaze the rest of the way up and eyes his brother uncertainly. The silence drags. Dean doesn't look away. Doesn't rush him either. Suddenly Sam closes his eyes and grimaces, fighting a bolt of pain rampaging through his shoulder.
Dean takes it as acquiescence and gets out of the car.
Reluctance isn't the only reason Sam has problems getting out of the car. His muscles have stiffened, his stomach aches, and any movement makes him want to move far away from his own shoulder. His movements are slow and he has to pause to fight against his rising nausea.
Suddenly Dean is back in his face, bringing with him a sturdy looking wheelchair driven by an even sturdier looking nurse.
Sam recoils and starts to retreat the little distance he's made it out of the car. "No. I don't want it."
Dean stops his retreat and, with a glance to the nurse, says, "Let's get you vertical and then you can decide. You stay conscious and you don't have to use it. Come on, Sam."
Sam comes to hot and fast. Bursting off of the exam table and then immediately listing to the side as pain explodes in his shoulder. The doctor examining him remains amazingly passive and merely steps back a little with his hands held placatingly in the air in front of him.
Sam's harsh breaths mingle with soft whimpers as he fights to regain control. Eyes squeeze shut; he sags even more as Dean's familiar presence comes under his left side to support him.
"Easy, Sam," Dean breathes.
Unable to put up much resistance, Sam is slowly set back against the exam table. His left hand somehow twists itself into the soft cotton of Dean's shirt and he pours all of his will into hanging on.
"Slowly, Sammy. Breathe with me," Dean coaches him softy.
Half sitting, half leaning on the exam table, Sam lets his forehead rest on Dean's shoulder and he struggles to hold it together, letting Dean's soft words wash over him, oblivious to the rest of the world.
He becomes aware of Dean talking softly with someone else in the room and he takes the moment free of Dean's scrutiny to entwine his fingers more solidly in Dean's clothing.
"Sam." Sam can feel Dean's attention on him, sharp and focused, yet his voice is soothing and calm. "Hang on for a second, okay kiddo? Doc's going to give you something to take the edge off."
Sam feels someone else moving in, but he relegates little attention to anything beyond Dean. Holds on tighter.
"Okay, Sam," he hears another male voice, "this'll sting and you might feel a burning sensation, but it'll help with the pain, okay?"
Sam feels someone attempting to tug his arm free of where he has it tucked and tied into Dean. Sam tenses and burrows in. Then the tugging stops and the doc just works around where he already is. Sam feels the sting of the needle in his tense bicep and stifles a whimper against Dean's collar. The pain of the needle is magnified by his already overly sensitized body as typically inactive nerve receptors join in to alert his brain to his body's distress. A burn spreads through his arm, engulfing his chest and side, and he sleeps again.
Sam comes to a little more gently the second time. As awareness comes to him, he tenses on the exam table but stays still in assessment. He can hear Dean talking softly and feels the resulting tug as Dean shifts beside him, only then realizing that he is still gripping Dean's shirt.
Snippets of the doctor's voice flow over him next: "… second fall was probably a blessing… popped the joint pretty much back into place… lots of rest, limited movement, make sure he ices it… swelling… possibly rehab to regain full range of motion… cracked ribs… keep him calm and quiet…"
Sam feels the silky touch of Dean's fingers in his hair, his thumb unconsciously soothing Sam's temple as he listens to the doctor's words. Sam lets himself drift off again, feeling tired and sore but safe.
The third time Sam wakes up, someone is manipulating his shoulder again. Biting back a curse he pulls away from the touch.
"Easy, Sam," Dean cautions, and Sam feels the unfamiliar hands pull away just as Dean's hands move in to touch his head and good shoulder. Sam lets his gaze slide over Dean and then guardedly watches the doctor.
"Sam," the doctor addresses him directly, "I need to examine your shoulder again and wrap it before I let you go. Okay?"
Sam clears his throat roughly. Looks to Dean, who nods at him and raises one eyebrow.
"It hurts," Sam whispers before he can stop himself.
"Well, you almost ripped your arm off, Sam," Dean says wryly. "And, when you fell, you popped it back into place all by yourself. I imagine 'hurts' is an understatement. Man, how many times have I told you that you need to leave the medical stuff to the professionals?" Dean's candor and easy manner do more for Sam than his previous, 'gentle' tone ever could. A Dean giving him a hard time is a Dean who's no longer worried about the outcome of this visit. Sam gives him a small smile of relief and takes as deep a breath as his protesting arm and ribs will allow.
"Okay," Sam says, eyes on Dean. "Okay," he says again, looking at the doctor.
The doctor moves in again, and Sam bites the inside of his lip and steels himself for the pain. The doctor gently but firmly grips Sam's bicep and shoulder. Sam, tense already, reflexively stiffens even more. With a slow, smooth motion, the doctor rotates Sam's shoulder, the gentle movements sending low-grade fire and electricity through Sam's neck and chest. Sam keeps his eyes on the ceiling and concentrates mostly on staying still and not humiliating himself by crying out, or by crying.
Dean keeps steady hands on Sam's head and his good shoulder, and again sacrifices his t-shirt to Sam's grasp.
"Good, Sam," the doctor soothes as he works. "There's good integrity in the joint. Almost done." Sam holds his breath as the doctor lays his arm back on the table and then slides his grip down to test the circulation in his arm.
"Sam, I'm going to give you another shot for the pain, and some muscle relaxants to jump start the healing process. I'll wrap your shoulder before you go, but you need to make sure that you give it plenty of time to heal over the next few weeks, okay?" Sam nods carefully up from the table, daring to breathe as the doc pulls his hands away but not yet trusting his voice.
"Your shoulder's going to feel sore for a while, but I'll give you a prescription for some good pain killers. Be careful with the medication though, and don't overdo things just because the pain is gone." He includes Dean in his gaze this time and Dean nods. Sam won't be overdoing anything for the next few weeks: Dean will see to that. "Dean said that you've had cracked ribs before, so you know how to take care of them. I want to see you back here next week to see how you're doing and we'll go from there, okay?"
Sam nods again, taking in the secondary pains in his back and ribs that his shoulder had previously drowned out. Some good drugs and some serious unconsciousness are sounding better and better.
Reading his thoughts, Dean speaks to him as the doctor writes up the scripts and prepares one last syringe: "Hang in there, Sammy. Almost done, and we'll get you back the hotel, and you can sleep for a week."
Sam turns tired eyes to Dean and sighs in acquiescence, body relaxing a little more.
As the doctor moves in again, wielding the new syringe, Sam can't help tensing and then flinching as the movement sends new shivers of pain down his arm. It's going to be a long couple of weeks.
Sam watches as the doctor nods to Dean and Dean moves a little closer and brings his hands back up to Sam's head and shoulder. "This one'll hurt, Sammy," Dean says matter of factly, and Sam remembers Dean's own experience with a frozen shoulder and muscle relaxants after his close encounter with a Wendigo. "But you're in for some good times once it starts to take effect," he adds with a smirk and sympathetic squeeze.
Sam can't stop the gasp, and then his breath is stolen from him as the needle enters his already tender joint. His vision blurs and his attention focuses to a pinpoint that zeroes in on the sharp pain deep in his shoulder. Blinking, his vision clears a little as involuntary tears slip from the corners of his eyes and he can feel them slide with a hot trail into the hair above his ears. Once the needle reaches deep in the joint, the doctor pushes the plunger, slowly, and Sam's heart flutters in his chest, the pain skyrocketing to new heights as the thick liquid forces its way into enflamed tissue.
Huffing in sympathy, Dean grips Sam's good bicep and threads his fingers into Sam's hair. Sam barely hears the soothing words that flow over him. Finally the doctor withdraws the syringe and Sam lies boneless on the table, exhausted with spent relief. He feels Dean's hand light on his chest and his heart gradually slows as he takes steady, shallow breaths.
Sam's return to the motel is much more pleasant than the one hours before. Though, with one common denominator.
Dean. Helping him settle into the passenger seat.
Dean laying his jacket over him and tucking it close to his chin.
Dean mumbling soothing words to him as he helps him stumble inside, lowering him to a soft bed, tugging off his shoes.
Dean's hand briefly brushing his forehead, checking for fever, stroking the hair from his eyes, patting his good shoulder.
Dean peeking through his ridiculous bangs, seeing his eyes open, "You okay?" Inquisitive and concerned.
Bleary thoughts tumble around Sam's muddled mind as he takes stock. Shoulder numbly throbbing. Ribs sore. Kidneys tender. Back aching. Dean close.
"Yeah, you're okay," Dean soothes now. "Sleep, Sam."
And Sam finally succumbs to the deep, safe darkness.
A/N: See 'Together Again' by purehalo for Dean's experience with a frozen shoulder. Unbelievable!