Author Notes: Last part of the senses!verse: The long road to recovery for Sam.
"I told you game's in timeout Sammy. C'mon. Finish your dinner."
Dean pulls his brother back against his chest for the fourth time. The bed creaks under the weight of the two men and Sam groans in protest.
Lets go of the plastic white knight in his hand and it drops to the magnetic chessboard at its intended position. Sighs and leans against his brother sitting just behind him, his head coming to rest on Dean's left shoulder again. Much to his chagrin, Dean has taken to feeding him personally ever since Sam took to rejecting the bad hospital food.
"This stuff is disgusting Dean," he pouts, just in time before Dean plugs his mouth with another spoonful of soup.
"Hang in there kiddo. Two more weeks and then we blow this joint. Think you'll be ready for a nice big juicy Black Angus cheeseburger by that time?"
Dean smacks his lips teasingly making Sam scowl, "That's cruel man. You won't believe how much I hate you right now."
Dean scowls back, "What I can't believe is how much I wanted you to start talking again," and gently spoons in more cream of tomato into Sam's mouth.
Bobby walks in then, nodding at the boys with an extra smile for Sam. "How're you doing, Sammy?"
Sam smiles back and would have said something, except he feels his brother stiffen behind him. Bobby's eyes flicker away to meet Dean's and his smile fades away.
Dean clears his throat, suddenly in a hurry to get it over with. Of course. "Okay, three more to go. Open up."
Sam briefly considers throwing a fit or two but when did that ever work for him anyway? Instead he glares up at Bobby, the accusation crystal clear in his eyes. The old man sighs and looks away.
"Sammy c'mon, we're nearly done."
It's been two weeks since Sam woke up, but his voice is still a rasp, soft and frail and right now, uncannily bitter. "So how long this time?"
Dean's chest heaves once against his back and Sam is grimacing already. They don't even bother to make any justifiable excuses – no "Tamara's life is in danger" or "Henricksen needs our help." Not even a sarcastic "Fate of the world hangs in the balance."
"Two days, at most. Open up."
Sam obviously doesn't. The impasse is broken when Bobby raises an eyebrow signaling to Dean they were getting late and the older brother gives up. Pushes the food-tray aside and shrugging into his jacket, starts searching for his keys.
Bobby makes his escape first, "I'll go wait in the car."
Dean winces, cursing Bobby now that he's left alone to face his brother's wrath. Turns toward Sam slowly, only to find him staring out the window again. He hates it when Sam does that. Dean never wants to see that deathlike blankness in his little brother's eyes again.
"Look, Sam…" he tries. "Bela is paying real good money for this procurement."
Sam scoffs, "Procurement? Listen to yourself Dean. You sound like her already."
"We have bills to pay, okay? And especially with your physiotherapy…"
"Don't do me any favors Dean. I'll find a way to pay my own bills, thank you very much!"
Sam purses his lips and looks away but he knows the damage is done and this time it's possibly irreparable. His heart starts to race with sheer panic of how Dean is about to react. Yelling he can handle.
Please don't walk away. I'm sorry I said that. Please don't go.
The bed dips, taking Sam by surprise and he looks up. Dean sits by his side, looking into Sam's face with nothing but resignation in his eyes.
Sam can't believe his ears. "You're sorry? Why?"
Dean shrugs, "I shouldn't have made it sound like I'm doing this for you. Because I'm not."
You're all I have left, Sammy.
Sam swallows, too ashamed to meet his eyes anymore. His big brother raises a hand slowly so as not to spook Sam with any sudden movements, brings it up to cup the left side of Sam's face. The touch lasts for maybe two seconds, three at most.
Then without another word, Dean is gone.
Sam glares at the clock through slanted eyes, Dean had better get his ass back within the hour like he promised. He lets Andrea adjust the pillows preparing him for the night, face turned away so she can't see the tear sliding down one cheek.
Sure they're born and bred hunters, it's in their blood. Hunting is all Dean's ever known. But it stings like hell to see him transition back into it so easily… like the last year changed nothing. Like they'd just been on a fucking break.
Sam catches himself looking up and quickly looks away. Still hurts… the grotesque visions of everyone he's ever loved pinned to the ceiling, burning to their deaths while Sam lived on, alone…
He finds himself wishing he'd never woken up at all. Maybe then he could keep Dean safe from… from what? Dean himself?
"You know, he started going away long before you woke up."
Sam starts, at first because he didn't realize Andrea was still in the room, then worried that he's been voicing his morbid thoughts aloud all this time.
"What did you say?"
She calibrates the pulse monitor and speaks softly without actually looking at him. "I suppose there are some things he simply must do. Things he was meant to do. We all have our destinies to fulfill, after all."
Andrea picks up a bottle of throat-soother syrup from the side table before approaching Sam's bed. He briefly considers refusing it before reminding himself that Dean isn't around, which kind of defeats the purpose of a tantrum anyway. Instead he rolls his eyes and sighs.
"Are you saying my brother's job is more important than… this?"
"Are you saying it's not?"
Fire alarms go off in his head and Sam can't muster up enough composure to so much as blink. "Do you know what Dean's job is?"
She smiles, pours out a dose of the medicine and holds it at Sam's lips. Wincing in anticipation of the bittersweet torture about to hit his taste buds, he opens his mouth then quickly swallows and waits for her to respond. But she just turns away.
The nurse has always been so quiet, almost invisible even though she's taken care of Sam for months. She's the only one Dean trusts completely. Maybe his brother's been blurting more secrets about the Winchesters to her than Sam realized.
Calmly she puts the supplies back in their place and returns to tuck the blankets in around Sam.
"Please don't doubt your brother Mr. Carpenter – he's on the right path, always has been. And don't worry about his safety either. He's going to be just fine."
Sam's voice is breathless, not more than a whisper. "How do you know that, Andrea?"
"There is someone out there watching over him, just like I am here. Watching over you."
Sam swallows, hard.
"It's the least we can do."
She smiles again, subtle as always, almost as if it were her default expression and now that Sam thinks about it he's never really looked at her this close before. Never noticed how her eyes sparkle bright as gold even in the dull glimmer of his nightlights.
"Good night, Sam."
She turns to walk out of the room. That's when he sees the other thing he's never noticed about nurse Andrea Michael before. The vision is shaky and ethereal… there one instant and gone the next but reveals to Sam what he needs to see. A giant pair of dark emerald green wings spread open on either side of Andrea's proud shoulders… unfurling to their full majestic span, vanishing into thin air just before she reaches behind her and closes the door.
Sam lies curled up on his side, still shuddering when soft light spills in through the open doorway and Dean quietly slips into his room. In the flickering shadows Dean sees his brother's face wet with tears.
"Sammy? What's wrong?" He rushes in, taking up his usual place by Sam's side. "Hey… it's okay. I'm here now. I'm alright, see? Shhh… it's okay. Everything's okay…"
It's only when he switches on a lamp that Dean notices the strangest expression on his brother's face. Something indescribable, something he's never seen before and yet somehow feels familiar - like a long lost memory. Something that, to Dean looks like redemption… and peace.
"I know, Dean." Sam smiles, burying and wiping his face in Dean's shirt because apparently, that is now allowed.
"Everything's going to be okay."