A/N: I know this is short, but sometimes chapters want to end where they do. For those of you waiting for In Darkness, I should have a chapter up this week. I'm completing the final edits on my novel and I was having a hard time "hearing" Sam and Dean. Thanks much to TraSan!
Traffic was light as Dean drove through the small city. He'd waited a little longer than usual before setting out. He had a surprise, and he wanted to make sure everything was ready before he set out. The extra half hour meant rush hour had dwindled to nothing. There were several cars in front of him when he pulled up, he waited patiently, tapping his fingers lightly in time with the music. Finally it was his turn and he pulled up to the valet.
"Morning, Dean," the valet said as he got out.
"Morning, Rafe. Park close, I hope to be leaving in a couple of hours," Dean said, tossing him the keys.
"A couple of hours?"
"Yeah." Dean grinned. "I hope."
"Really?" Rafe smiled at him. "I hope so too."
Dean walked through the doors, smiling at the woman sitting behind the desk. He poked impatiently at the elevator button, waiting for it to arrive, then pushed the floor number, trying to coax the doors to close faster with repeated pokes. Come on, come on. He was getting nervous, wondering if he'd made the right decision. Too late now. The door opened and he stepped out.
"Hi, Cindy," he said.
"Hi, Dean, you're late." She smiled at him.
"I know, Alan around?"
"He just finished, I think he's getting coffee."
"Thanks, I'll be right back." He turned and walked down the hall, following the corridor to the small espresso stand tucked in the back corner of the floor. The barista smiled at him and started his coffees. Dean spotted the tall man sitting at a table, papers spread out before him. "Alan?"
"Dean, you're late."
"Yeah, I know. I wanted to take care of everything we talked about."
"They told me you stopped yesterday and finished up the last of the training," Alan said, smiling.
"Yep. I'm a pro now." Dean smiled, then sighed.
"It's the right choice. You know that. I'll be by later tonight."
"I can't thank you enough for everything."
"You helped me, Dean. I'm just sorry this had to happen," the older man said sadly.
"It's okay. I think it'll be okay, now."
"I'll let them know to have the paperwork ready so you can make your escape."
"Thanks." Dean picked up the coffees and walked back down the hall. He stopped at the set of double doors, his heart aching a little—it did every day at this point. He took a deep breath and pushed past them, hoping it would be the last time. The door to the room was open, he could hear the TV droning inside. "Coffee's here," he said, swallowing the lump in his throat.
"I know, sorry." Dean put the coffee down on the tray.
"With whipped cream?"
"Do you think she'd forget the whip?" Dean asked, dropping into the chair. He looked at his brother's face, drawn in pain, pale, dark circles like bruises under his eyes. "How do you feel?"
"Better today, Dean," Sam said, picking up the coffee in a shaking hand.
"Good, you up for an adventure?"
"I don't think I want another wheelchair race with the little girl down the hall."
"It's better than that, Sammy," Dean said gently, trying to force the lump out of his throat and the ache out of his chest.
"I thought you might want to come home."
"Home?" Tears were suddenly in Sam's eyes.
"I got us a place, Sam, Alan said you could come home."
"I don't have to be here anymore?" The tears were running down Sam's face.
"No, Sammy, we can go home."
"Now too soon?" Dean smiled when his brother brushed the tears off his face.
"Now is perfect."
Dean beeped the nurse and once Sam was unhooked, Dean helped him get dressed, carefully wrapping him in a heavy fleece sweater he'd bought the day before. "Ready, Sammy?"
"Yeah," his brother said quietly. Dean helped him into the wheelchair he'd rented and dropped off the day before. He'd been planning this surprise for a long time. Please don't let it backfire. As they rolled down the hall towards the elevators other patients waved to Sam, the nurses stopped them to give his brother hugs. Cindy gave them a plate of cookies. "Why do I think I was the last one to know?"
"You were, it would have ruined the surprise." Dean pushed the chair into the elevator and down to the valet parking Rafe smiled at them and went to get the car. This was the moment Dean had been dreading. Rafe pulled up, got out and handed Dean the keys. "Thanks." Sam had stiffened, his breathing altered, Dean could hear the ragged note.
"Dean?" Sam whispered. "Where's the Impala?"
To Be Continued