Chapter 9 Recovering
Sam was sitting in a comfortable old armchair, a warm drink in his hands, staring at his still unconscious brother as he tried to put thoughts and memories into place. This morning he'd been sitting lost in a cold empty cell, with a brother days dead and a hole inside him so deep that he could have fallen into it and never come up again and now. . .now. . .
He pinched himself again and he'd done it so many times now he had a permanent red mark that would bruise nicely and add to his already mottled collection, not that he could see them all underneath the salve and the dressings and the band aids that the nurses had insisted on coating him in; tutting at how his injuries had not been looked after and the signs of infection in some of them that Sam hadn't even noticed until it was pointed out. Had he been aware of any discomfort?
He couldn't tell them that if he had then he'd welcomed it, encouraged it, because anything that made him hurt physically was welcome in a mind that couldn't deal with the emotional pain. He couldn't admit to them that he'd caused the bruises, torn his own wrists by tugging uselessly at chains that he wouldn't have been in in the first place if he'd had any emotional control, not when they were being so kind, so understanding. Not when they were berating the penal system for its cruel treatment of him, because whatever he had done to himself, they were right about the cruelty. Not the physical cruelty as they thought, but any system that had left him for days thinking his brother was dead when it wasn't true was cruel beyond reason, and so, although the reasoning was wrong, he accepted their empathy, agreed with them that he had been exposed to punishment that amounted to 'cruel and unusual' and should have been banned by the constitution and most of all he accepted the comfort of the young women who had helped his brother, saved his life and continued to keep him safe, because now he knew that Dean was ok Sam was allowed that comfort.
"Please tell me that I didn't pass out into Penny's waiting arms?"
Sam looked up to see Dean watching him and if he was surprised that that was the first thing his brother had to say to him after the ordeal they'd both been through he was too used to his brother to let it show. He gave a half grin. "I would but you kinda did." He stated.
Dean groaned and let his head drop back onto the pillows. "Damn, that means I owe her another twenty bucks."
"She bet that you would pass out while helping me escape?" Sam asked.
Dean had his eyes closed and didn't open them as he replied with a slight nod. "Would've been a hundred if I went before the deputies left."
Sam didn't know quite how to reply to that. Part of him wanted to yell at Dean for being stupid enough to try and break him out of jail while he knew, and had been told by medical professionals, that he was going to keel over in the middle of doing it, whilst a part of him wanted to hug his brother for having the strength to come get him. Then again he knew his brother; he should've been surprised that Dean had waited beyond the point where he could crawl, and at that point of course the guilt kicked in because Dean shouldn't have had to come get him at all. He should have. . ."I'm sorry."
Dean opened his eyes and turned his head, dark circles still stark against pale skin. "What for?"
"That you had to come get me, that I. . ." Sam broke off but Dean did not oblige by filling the silence until he finally looked up and met his gaze.
"So why did I?"Dean asked, making a point of scanning his brother from head to toe, his gaze clearly lingering on the bruises and dressings on Sam's hands and wrists. "What's been going on with you?"
Sam waited for a moment, considered lying to Dean, denying that there had been anything, moving on because it was over now. Dean was here and he was here and they were both safe and there was no point. He met Dean's gaze again and swallowed. Dean had to know why he had left him. "When they arrested me, your heart stopped." Dean's gaze was intense, holding him mesmerised, drawing the truth out of him like every chick flick moment he claimed to hate, but must secretly love because Damn did he have the emotional gaze nailed, the tears almost forming at the empathy he was feeling with the pain of Sam's memory. Dean had been oblivious to it but Sam had lived through every excruciating moment, once for real and then every day since in his waking daydreams, in his sleeping nightmares and even talking about it he felt the pain as though it was happening again. "They tazered me and dragged me away whilst you were. . ." his voice cracked and he was forced to look away for a moment, forced to compose himself "The Sherriff told me you were dead."
"Bastard," the word escaped with a breath from Dean's lips, the sentiment as natural to him as breathing. "I'm sorry Sam, If I'd have known I'd have found a way of letting you know sooner I. . " He stopped because Sam was now blatantly staring at him. "What?"
"Seriously Dean, you're apologising for not telling me you weren't dead," he paused then said again "Seriously?"
Sam watched him for a moment, realising what his brother had done, the indignation at his brother's apology had broken through the pain, cut off the emotion before it had started to overwhelm again. Damn but his brother was good at that, sometimes too good for it to be healthy because sometimes you had to let the emotion out, but not this time, Sam had spent too much time with that particular pain. "Oh!"
"So is the chick flick moment over?" Dean asked, and even he was struggling to hide the worry that backed up this particular question. He was worried about Sam, probably more worried now he knew why little brother had spent the last few days so screwed up. He had his own explanation and that would be enough, unless he ever came across a particular Sherriff again but for now he wanted to know if he had to do anything else to help Sam deal, "because I don't think either of us is in any state to hug, and I can't think of another way to cut off your emoting right now."
Sam gave his own grin "Yeah I've noticed all of the fresh bandages, you want to tell me about Penny and Suzanne and how they've been taking care of you?"
Dean grinned back "And you haven't met Susan yet. . ."
Three weeks of physio and Dean was able to bend his knees enough to make driving again at least a possibility. Most of the cuts had healed with the exception of a couple of the deeper gashes and exercise wasn't making him wheeze like an old man, or pass out from standing for too long. Sam had wanted to give it another week but Dean was wary of risking getting caught now that he and Sam were able to get out more. He didn't want to get Penny, Suzanne or Susan or any of the half dozen other people from the town who'd helped them into any trouble, not to mention not wanting to get too comfortable if they stayed here for much longer. He really liked Penny and not just for the help she'd given him, but he knew that forming attachments was out of the question, and it wasn't like he could ever show his face in this town with her. There was no future and they both knew it and staying longer would just make it harder on everyone when the time to leave came.
Sam loaded the car on the pretence that Dean wasn't quite up to it yet, but they both knew it was to give Dean and Penny a little privacy so they could say their goodbyes.
Sam was already in the driving seat when Dean climbed in without protest. His knees would thank him for not insisting that he drive and for once Dean was smart enough to know it.
"Ready to hit the road?" Sam asked.
"Why would I want to hit it? What's it ever done to me?" Dean asked. "Now if you were asking me if I wanted to hit the Sherriff or maybe a rogue Demon then. . ."
"You're a funny man you know that," Sam interrupted, gunning the impala's engine so that it made that beautiful deep throated rumble that made them both feel alive and pulled out onto the blacktop.
"Don't I know it" Dean said settling back contentedly in his seat.
They were together again and mostly whole and healthy and on the road and all was as right in their world as it ever got.
So that's it finished at last. Thanks to everyone who has supported this story. Let me know what you think- J