Summary: An accident, a concussion, things quickly spiral out of control for Sam. Teen Winchesters. Sam 15, Dean 19.
Warning: Occasional swearing.
Notes: All the reviews have brought me so much joy and inspiration – thank you. I feel awful that once again I didn't reply to them, but please know how much I cherish them all.
Supernaturaldh was my amazing beta – words can't describe her awesomeness.
John looked at his son, baggy hospital gown hanging loosely on his body, his skin almost white as it blended into the starched hospital sheets. It had been a close call, too close, and for that, he felt the burden of blame. He still hadn't got the full story, hadn't wanted to push Sam when he was in so much pain, but he knew the basics – Sam had been hit by a car, a damn hit and run driver, who hadn't even stopped to make sure his boy was okay. It was a story the hospital staff were not so receptive to, regardless of its truth.
"You know we have to do this Dean." John reaffirmed; dropping his voice a little when the words seemed to echo through the room.
"Shhhh," Dean cautioned, as Sam moaned and twitched on the bed, "you'll wake him up."
Dean looked between Sam and his Dad. "Maybe we should wait, you know, one more day, just to be sure."
"One more day? We don't have one more day. We're pushing things as it is." John cringed at the reminder of the looks the doctors had shot his way, the sidelong glances he'd been given by the nursing staff, the whispers he'd overheard. He knew what they were thinking, what they were likely to do, if they hadn't done so already.
"What about Sam dad? What about what's best for him? He was hemorrhaging internally. No, it's too risky; he's only just come out of surgery, he should stay here." Dean shook his head.
"I'm doing this for Sam." John retorted, trying to hold onto his temper.
"He wouldn't even be here if you hadn't made him run all the way across town like some damn soldier. He's a kid dad, a kid…" Dean's hands quivered, his heart racing, as he struggled to squelch down his anger with his Dad.
John cringed at the accusation, but knowing his son was right didn't change what needed to be done. "You heard the doc; he said Sam came through the procedure just fine. Should make a full recovery were his exact words."
"Yeah well, maybe you missed the part where he mentioned that Sam would be spending at least the first week of that recovery right here in the hospital."
"Sam can recover just as well someplace else."
"No Dad, he needs more time …he's not exactly up to walking around yet, let alone making a run for it, and what about his medications and anything else he might need?" Dean queried, casting an uneasy glance at his father.
"I 'requisitioned' anything I thought he might need." John tapped his bulging pockets.
Dean looked at his dad with incredulity. "Yeah well, you can't just unhook Sam from," Dean waved at all the medical machinery, "all that and walk him out of here."
"What do you take me for?" John snapped, not waiting for an answer. "I'll sneak him out the fire exit. What I need, is for you to create a distraction."
"A distraction?" Dean muttered, regretting the question as soon as it slipped from his lips.
"Yeah," John replied, outlining his plans to slip Sam discretely out of the hospital. He'd be the first to admit that he didn't like the idea of taking his son out before he was ready, but the alternatives were not an option. Child services were sure to be called in and he needed to stay one step ahead or risk losing Sam for good.
Sam blinked groggily from the back seat, trying to stretch out his too-long legs that were bunched awkwardly against the door. It was like trying to sleep in a cot, not enough room to roll over, stretch, hell, he didn't even have the benefit of being able to let his feet hang over the edge. He was crammed in like a sardine.
Last thing he remembered was waking up in the hospital, groggy and nauseous, before drifting back to sleep. He closed his eyes before opening them again slowly. Nothing had changed. He was definitely in the back seat of the Impala. He recognized the familiar rumble of the engine.
He swallowed back bile as the Impala glided around a wide bend before straightening again. Usually he found the rhythm of the car soothing, liked to close his eyes and feel the engine vibrate, but not today. Today every small movement jarred, sending tiny shock-waves of pain through his body, along every nerve ending, and he had to bite down hard on his lips to prevent the moans from escaping.
He hurt. Really hurt. The type of pain that that felt as though his body was tortured, ripped apart, from the inside out.
He tried twisting again, but there was nowhere to go, no relief from the overwhelming pain.
"Dean?" He moaned for help, a croaky whisper escaping with his exhaled breath.
"Sam." Dean cast a quick glance backwards, easing his foot off the accelerator as he guided the car towards the shoulder of the road. "Just hang on, you're alright, I'm right here."
Sam felt the Impala slow, but it was too late. Bile rushed up the back of his throat, shocking him with its intensity. He tried to lever himself up, but he was like a newborn colt, all loose gangly limbs and not enough control. He gagged and choked, as the meager contents of his stomach emptied themselves all down the hospital gown, the blanket, and the upholstered seat of the Impala. Dean was going to kill him.
Dean brought the car to a stop as quickly and smoothly as he could, before jumping out and wrenching open the rear door to get to his brother. Sam was a mess.
"Sorry," Sam whispered.
"Hey, you got nothing to be sorry about." Dean leant in and placed his palm on Sam's forehead, checking his warmth. "If anyone's goin' to be apologizing 'round here it's me and dad, so I don't want to hear it okay?" Dean sighed, pulling off the soaked blanket.
Dean crouched down by the open door of the Impala, and using his own shirt as a rag, he cleaned up Sam the best he could.
Sam looked up at his brother, unable to hide the tremor of fear in his voice. "Dean, what's happening? Where's dad?"
"Dad should be along any minute. He's following close behind, or supposed to be. Drives like a goddamn geriatric if you ask me." Dean smiled conspiringly. "But don't you dare tell him I said that."
"Where're we going?"
"Dad thought it would be a good idea to get out of town before people started asking questions, you know …about everything." He gave Sam a small smile. "Was probably time to start thinking about moving on anyway, you know how dad gets, all jittery and restless if we stay in the one place too long." Dean looked off down the highway as he saw the black truck heading towards them.
"Here's dad now. He's got all your meds so I'll get you something for the pain, okay?" Dean could see the tight lines of pain on Sam's face, even though Sam hadn't said anything.
Sam reached out and grabbed Dean's hand as his brother made a move to stand. "Dean, how much further?" He asked, praying that they didn't have far to go.
"Not far, not far at all, alright? Give me a sec to go talk with dad. I'll be right back, okay?"
"'Kay," Sam mumbled, releasing Dean's hand.
John pulled up behind the Impala, opening the window and leaning out as Dean jogged to his side. "Everything okay?"
Dean leant a hand against the side of the truck and looked at his dad. "Sam hurled in the car."
John glanced around Dean to look at the Impala, trying to catch a glimpse of Sam. "He okay?" John reached down to push open his door.
"Yeah, I think so." Dean confirmed. "He's hurting, though he hasn't said as much."
John jumped out of the truck and strode the short distance towards the Impala, Dean close by his side. "There's a town a couple miles further down, we'll find a motel and call it a day. Reckon we've put enough distance between us and the hospital, no need to keep driving if we don't have to." John glanced at his watch. "Sam's due his meds anyway and a decent cup of coffee wouldn't go astray."
The odor of Sam's sickness hit him before his eyes gazed on the evidence. "Hey Sam," John ran a hand through Sam's hair, brushing it back off his face. "We're going to pull in at a motel few miles down. Shouldn't be more than another ten minutes; tops. We'll get you cleaned up; give you something for the pain, okay?"
"Okay," Sam whispered.
"Good boy." John slid his fingers through Sam's hair again before straightening up, stretching the kinks out of his body.
John let his eyes rest on Sam for a few moments before looking back at Dean. "We'll pull off at the next exit. Get a room for a couple of days."
Dean nodded, pleased. "Sounds good."
Dean sat impatiently in the Impala, waiting for their dad to check them in to the motel. The odor of sickness was almost over-powering, but the breeze outside was sharp and crisp and he was lax to open his window more than a crack, fearing that Sam would feel the chill.
"Dean?" Sam questioned from the back seat.
"Yeah Sam, we're here, dad's just getting the key. Just hang on for one more minute, okay?"
"Yeah," Sam mumbled, screwing up his face at the vile smell permeating through the car, gagging as his eyes drifted to the splatters of vomit.
Hearing the sound, Dean leaned over the seat to check on Sam."You okay?"
Sam swallowed, looking up at Dean. "It stinks back here," he croaked.
"Yeah well, you did the redecorating." Dean cringed at the sight, before turning back around. "Here's dad now." Dean watched as their dad walked back to the truck.
Following their dad, Dean parked the Impala beside the truck, in front of what he presumed was going to be their home for the next few days. Right now, he was just happy to be getting out of the car, and he felt sure Sam was just as eager. Getting Sam out of the back seat and into the room was going to be another matter altogether, and Dean couldn't help wishing that Sam could have been asleep for this ordeal as well, to spare him the pain the short trip was going to cause.
"I'll get Sam, you unload the gear." John instructed, tossing his eldest the room key before opening the rear door of the Impala.
"I'll help," Dean hovered by the side of the car.
"I've got it." John persisted. "Just grab the gear …and bring in the supplies I got from the hospital, they're in the front of the truck."
Leaning down, John looked at his youngest, struggling to push himself upwards on the rear seat. Reaching in, he hooked a hand under Sam's arm, helping to slowly pull him into a seated position. "Nice and slow Sam, nice and slow. Let me do all the work here son, don't want you tearing those stitches." John could see the strain on Sam's face as perspiration built up on his forehead, the effort of just moving taking its toll.
"I can do it." Sam gasped.
"Not saying you can't do it son, just let me help, okay?" John soothed.
Sam nodded, reaching out to clasp his dad's arm, holding on as he was levered up and out of the car.
Sam's knees buckled, unwilling to support his weight, and he staggered into his dad. Strong arms reached out, wrapping themselves around him, impeding his descent. He collapsed against the strength, closing his eyes as he felt himself lifted and carried, giving up without protest.
John took the empty glass of water from Sam, relived that he'd swallowed down the pills without difficulty, and kept them down.
It wasn't been easy stripping Sam of his stained hospital garb, or cleaning him with a damp cloth before slipping him into fresh boxers and tee-shirt. Sam had the awkward embarrassment of an adolescent, but for John, it only brought back memories of when Sam was a toddler, so innocent and trusting.
He couldn't help but wonder when that had all changed. Was there a defining moment, or had the transition been gradual, the innocence and trust just slipping away. When had Sam stopped coming to him, confiding in him, needing him? When had he stopped listening?
When had he stopped being a parent?
He glanced up as the door opened, Dean pushing through, balancing two cups of coffee and a couple of bags of food. He pushed up, off the edge of Sam's bed, meeting Dean half-way across the room and snagging one of the cups, flipping off the lid and taking a large gulp of the steaming brew. It flowed like honey down his throat and he closed his eyes for a moment and savored the bitter taste. Heaven.
He looked across the room as Dean unpacked the rest of his purchases, not surprised to see burgers and fries, sandwiches and snack foods. Enough to feed a small army; or two growing boys.
Dean unwrapped the sandwich, "plain cheese, is that okay?" Dean looked across at his little brother, running a concerned eye over him.
"I'm not that hungry." Sam replied.
"Yeah well, you have to eat something, at least half okay?" Dean carried the sandwich to the bed, placing half on the nightstand and holding the other half out to Sam. "Eat," he ordered.
Sam took a small bite, chewing slowly.
Satisfied Sam was doing as he was told, Dean headed back to the table, sitting down to start on his own food. John followed, figuring he'd better start now or risk losing his share to Dean's endless appetite.
Both men ate in silence, eyes never straying far from Sam.
Dean couldn't hold back a grin as Sam's eyes drifted shut, chewed portions of sandwich falling from his mouth. "Looks like those pills kicked in," he whispered, getting up and walking over to Sam. Picking up Sam's half chewed food with a grimace; he tossed the scraps onto the nightstand, before easing Sam down flat on to the bed.
"He's like an overgrown toddler." Dean observed, sitting back down opposite his father.
"With the stubbornness of an eighty year old." John remarked, placing his half eaten hamburger on the table and leaning back in his chair. He massaged his temples with his fingers, trying to ease the tiredness – it had been a rough couple of days.
He looked across at Dean, noticing how his eyes never strayed far from Sam. "He's going to be okay Dean. "
"This time ...this time we were lucky. He was bleeding out, right in front of me, and I didn't do a damn thing about it." Dean pushed the rest of his food aside, suddenly losing his appetite.
"We couldn't have known. Hell, he didn't say anything -"
"He didn't have the chance, we didn't give him one. We should have noticed, picked up that something was wrong."
"Christ, don't you think I know that Dean? Don't you think I wish I could turn back the clock and change things?"
"We nearly lost him dad. If we'd waited a couple more hours, things…"
"But we didn't Dean, and he's going to be alright."
Dean looked forlornly at their Dad, biting back the accusations he wanted to fling. He sighed as he stood up and walked back over to Sam, lowering himself gently down on the bed beside his kid brother. He rested his back against the headboard, listening to Sam's even breathing, watching without surprise as his father pulled his journal out of his duffel and started flipping through the pages.
He stared back down at Sam, his face now relaxed in sleep, and he let his hand tug absently through Sam's long chestnut locks. He didn't think he would ever understand their Dad, or his need to put the hunt before anything else. The only thing he did know; it was his job to put Sam first, and from now on, that is exactly what he was going to do.
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