Disclaimer: I must confess that I DO own them…in my dreams. But here in the real world, they still belong to Kripke, Warner Bros, and the CW.
Beta: The wonderful carnageincminor, who has tried very hard to keep me honest, really! :D All mistakes left in the text (both of the deliberate and accidental varieties) are solely my own.
Rating: T for gambling, extreme situations...oh, and cussing. Quite a bit of cussing.
Category: Angst. Major Limp!Sam, Angst!Dean. Minor OCs.
Set:…well, I don't exactly know when it's set. I've only ever seen season 1 and a very few isolated episodes of 3 and 4. So, AU. It could take place at any point when the boys are hunting alone, including pre-Stanford or post season 4. Basically, just accept that John is gone. Vamoosed. He ain't around to come to the rescue.
Summary: Dean's gambling habits have always kept the brothers afloat. But when his luck takes a turn for the worse, the consequences could be dire…
Shit, shit, shit, shit.
He stares at the cards in front of him, unbelieving. He is vaguely aware of the uproar behind him, shouts of congratulations, loud guffaws…feels a few hands clap him sympathetically on the shoulder.
It comes to him as if in a dream, removed from reality. Only the cards remain real.
"Too bad, kid. It was a damn good game. I really thought you had me there."
He starts, the gravelly voice jerking reality back into focus. The snaggle-toothed old woman sitting across from him takes a drag from her cigarette and reaches languidly for the pot, scoops the money off of the table, shuffles it together neatly. She flicks quickly through the large, liberated wad of twenties and fifties, nimble fingers belying age, before gracing him with a satisfied gap-toothed grin.
Dean says nothing, his eyes flicking rapidly between the cards on the table and the money now disappearing into the hag's rough denim pocket. Thoughts begin to stir beneath the gel-like smothering shock.
Twelve thousand freaking bucks.
Enough to pay for a hotel room, an actual decent hotel room rather than their usual dive of a motel, for…well, for longer than they'd ever bothered to stay in one before. Enough to keep both boys rolling in burgers and fries (and Sam's occasional salad) for at least five months, to keep the Impala gassed and running for two.
It would have been enough to pay Sammy's hospital bills for at least a week. Possibly three.
But he had lost it.
HE had lost it.
And shit again.
She'd been playing the 'old biddy' card, giving the impression of someone's grandma who was just out for an evening of forbidden fun. She'd already cleared out half the table before Dean joined the game, but was still squinting through thick glasses as if she could barely see the cards and rambling on about some granddaughter's third child to anyone and everyone who would listen.
Dean hadn't bought the act. He knew a fellow hustler when he saw one. But, confident in his own skills, he had considered the game. After all, they needed the money.
God, they'd needed that money.
So he'd sat, bought in to the table…his wince upon discovering the chip price not entirely faked.
Soon, it was just the two of them left.
They'd played a few hands. He'd lost a few; won more than he lost. They'd played on, matching wits and meeting each other's parries, a vicious skirmish of cards, a bloodless war.
It had been almost…fun. In a weird sort of way. Having some kind of challenge for once, making him focus on the game, pay attention to the old woman's cues and tells in a way he hadn't had to do in a long time. It was almost like old times, almost like playing against…
Dean had quickly veered away from that line of thought.
She'd suggested that they up the pot.
At first he'd scoffed. The first rule any successful swindler learned was to keep the bets small, keep from standing out so that you could stay in the game longer and milk the crowd for more. But she'd persisted.
They'd needed that extra money her bet offered. He'd needed to finish quickly and get back to Sam.
The alcohol had blurred him. Lack of sleep made him fuzzy; despair made him reckless.
So he'd taken her bet. Gambled everything on one chance.
And now, he's lost it all.
The first thing Dean had noticed was the smoke.
It had been your standard renovation gone supernaturally wrong, with one extremely unhinged poltergeist pitted against a group of unwary but well-meaning renovators. Tied to the structure itself and seriously pissed by recent disturbances, the poltergeist had lashed out, and soon the town's much lauded heritage restoration project had become the local tongue-wag's newest paranormal phenomena. Bobby had come across the latest article whilst perusing though a heap of small town gab-rags, and given the boys a call.
It should have been a nice, easy hunt, a simple in-and-out job.
But when had they ever been that lucky?
One thing had led to another, and soon the two brothers found themselves tearing through a raging inferno, a terrified kid in tow and smoldering bits of plaster falling round their ears.
In other words, it was business as usual for the Winchesters. Though for once, Dean wasn't to blame for the blaze.
Not entirely, at least.
They were racing down the grand staircase of the entryway, salvation almost at hand, when it happened. The giant i-beam supporting the graciously hung, cavernous ceiling had given one final groan and twisted. Superheated metal strained against securely fastened struts, dispatching a massive cascade of flaming plaster and drywall towards the harried threesome below.
Dean had given an unheard shout and propelled their 14-year-old charge down the stairs, out of harm's way and into Sam's broad back.
The teen, caught off guard by his rescuer's abrupt tactics, had stumbled forward, crashing heavily into the younger Winchester. The two went down hard, tumbling down the remaining steps, the elder instinctively reacting to shield the boy from the worst of the fall and the flying debris. Dean, off balance himself from the force of the throw, had fallen backwards and had had to scramble frantically further up the stairs as the flaming ceiling came down.
The intricate tangle of boy and hunter landed in a confused mess at the bottom and skidded to a halt, flames roaring in their ears. For a moment, neither moved, and Dean's heart had snagged in his raw, smoke-filled throat.
Then, dazed, Sam had sat up into the smoggy air, shaking his head as if to clear it. He looked back, and Dean had watched the dawning horror spread across his brother's face as he took in the flaming mass that now covered the high stairwell, took in Dean, crouched pathetically at the top of the steps. His little brother's mouth was moving, his face contorted as if screaming, but though Dean strained his ears, there had been nothing on the air save the vast, white-hot noise of combustion.
He'd waved his arms in a frantic shooing motion, futilely shouting through the smoke for Sam to leave him, to get the kid out, he'd find another escape route…unable to hear even the words leaving his own mouth, or the horrible, chest-tearing hacks that racked his body as the smoke poured into his lungs. Sam, clearly torn, had cast one long look back at him before slinging the unconscious boy into a fireman's hold and bolting for the flame-lapped door. At the entrance he had paused once more, his bloodshot eyes searching through the smoky semi-darkness. Dean caught the warning gaze and drew back, ducking into the nearest hallway and slamming the door tight, braced against the inevitable fireball that would occur when his brother added a fresh supply of oxygen to the dangerous firetrap. Seconds later, the roar from behind the door had increased dramatically, and he had breathed a choked sigh of relief…Sam was out!
Dean closes the door quietly behind him, eyes straining to adjust to the almost-darkness, ears praying, praying for the comforting beep…beep of the machines…
There it was, soft and steady. He leans back into the door, allowing the reassuringly monotone melody to wash over him, encroaching upon the fatigued haze of lassitude. He waits a minute more, gathering strength, then pushes off from the supporting metal towards the far corner of the room.
He passes by one…two…three empty beds. Apparently, the endemic overcrowding of health care facilities across the nation has yet to become an issue for this sleepy, small-town hospital, and the wards are nearly empty.
Dean's not about to complain. Empty wards and bored doctors meant that they hadn't been immediately thrown out on their asses when the newest insurance fraud was uncovered. By some miracle, they hadn't even reported Dean to the cops. Evidently Dean's sob story of how he had been desperate enough to try anything, even an insurance scam, to get his brother proper treatment, had struck a chord.
Funny how easily people fell for the stories Dean wove. Of course, it might have helped that this one was mostly true. Desperation's real easy to fake when it's honest.
The doctors had listened, and, partially out of sympathy for his frantic recital and partially out of a grudging respect for his idiot brother's heroics, had decided to overlook the incident, provided Dean come up with a way to pay for the expenses already incurred on the falsified account. They were even willing to give Dean an extended grace period, continuing to treat Sam fully while Dean scrambled for the cash. And he had been doing so, too: holding up his end of the bargain faithfully with nary a complaint. The final deadline had been fast approaching, but he was going to make it…he knew he was. It had all been falling into place.
Wearily, he settles as comfortably as he can into the harsh plastic visitor's chair, resisting the urge to prop booted feet upon the bed. Leans forward almost as soon as he settles, gently pulls the blankets more securely around the silent, still figure on the bed.
Maybe a minute passes by, maybe an hour. A groan pierces the gloom, and he scrubs wearily at his face.
Deep breath. "Sam, I…I messed up big time, man."
The respirator breathes, in and out.
"I…damn it, I knew I shouldn't have matched her bet. I knew it! I…"
His voice trails off, becomes a whisper.
"Shit, Sam, what are we going to do?"
Silence fills the ward, broken only by the soft beeping and the heavy rise-and-fall white noise of the respirator. The man beside the bed reaches out towards the heavily bandaged hand protruding from the sheets, hesitates, stops. His own scarred hand drops lifelessly back to his lap.
The man leans back wearily, shoulders hunched and eyes screwed tightly shut against despair. The last spoken words echo eerily in the stillness…
"…Sammy, what am I supposed to do?"
Keeping low, Dean had darted through the upstairs hallway, testing doorknob after doorknob. Most immediately scorched his hands and he'd draw back quickly, his desperation increasing. Embers gleamed through the hazardous, pock-marked carpet. Breathing became increasingly difficult, even with the sweat-soaked t-shirt drawn up over his nose.
Touch, flinch, run to the next door. Touch, flinch, run to the next door. It became so automatic that when he finally found the door he'd been praying for, he very nearly missed it. He'd even taken a few unsteady steps towards the next before the relative coolness of the metal had registered in his heat-numbed brain. Unhesitatingly, he'd yanked the door open and sped to the window.
The air was beyond oven-hot now, the fire approaching its critical flashpoint. Dean could practically feel his exposed skin searing into a patchwork of second-degree burns, and hitched the leather jacket higher over his head. He'd attacked the window with furious vigor, throwing anything and everything he could lay his hands on towards it. Slowly, the newly Mylar-coated glass had spiderwebbed, then shattered.
Fresh, cool air immediately began to flow through the jagged opening, sucked in greedily by the flames. The whistling wind added a keen counterpoint to the overall thunder of the fire as he knocked aside the few remaining pieces of glass and climbed up on the windowsill, sharp tears of sheer relief stinging smoke-addled eyes. His lungs drew in deep, shuddering gulpfuls of air as he frantically surveyed the situation.
He pursed his lips and stared out across the strip of roofing that skirted the second story of the building: all that was standing between him and survival. The shingles, already melting into a conglomerate mass of bubbling tar and glowing embers, were a death trap; it would be suicide to try and cross them conventionally. One wrong step, one burned-through spot, and he'd quite literally be out of the frying pan and into the fire. But maybe...
He'd studied the roof span separating him from freedom for a second longer, gauging the distance carefully, ignoring the heat that was once again building in the room behind him.
Then, not giving himself time to think, he'd launched his body out of the window, over the roof, and into the blessed oblivion of a fireless freefall.
Dean has taken to haunting the pool hall in the wee hours of the morning, hoping against hope to find a new sucker to milk dry. He'd hustled close to two thousand bucks out of the regulars, you know, before. Now few ears are unwary enough, sympathetic enough to his plight to be willing to add a couple hundred to his pocket by picking up a pool cue. Though he does get a few ah, 'voluntary' donations from good-hearted Samaritans...mostly of the female variety.
At the end of the night, he counts his meager earnings. He's managed to find one or two unsuspecting marks, but it's a small town, a poor town, and word had spread quickly.
Five hundred thirteen dollars and twenty five cents.
A respectable wage, but for the treatment Sam needs, not nearly enough.
The credit cards won't work.
The cute little receptionist on the hospital staff smilingly refuses to accept them. Apparently, the general thought is that a man suspected of arson and willing to commit insurance fraud to save his brother is not likely to stop at faking a credit card. Not that SHE thinks this, of course, but well…you know the higher ups...
She tells him this as if letting him in on a secret, then smiles winningly at him, winks.
Why doesn't he talk to his credit union? She's sure they would be willing to forward cash to him, given the circumstances.
Ah, funny. He forces his lips into something resembling a smile and remembers to laugh. Even remembers the good natured 'Thanks anyways.'
If he weren't so god-damned terrified, he'd be in hysterics.
In two days, Sammy's period of grace would run out. They wouldn't -- couldn't -- take him off the respirator. No doctor was willing to commit murder on the basis of a petty insurance fraud. Especially not one that had made it into the small-town news as a hero; the press would have a field day with that. No, the hospital would still keep his brother alive.
But they would withhold meds. Take the painkillers down to the bare minimum. Cancel the expensive, effective treatments needed to heal scorched, seared lungs, and make do with whatever their meager, over-stretched budget could scrounge. It wasn't cruelty; merely standard operating procedure in all charity cases.
Not killing, but not really healing, either. Just existing, blindsided by pain. One mechanized breath after another. Existing until the inevitable occurred, or Dean found a way to pay.
The doctors had apologized when they explained all this to Dean.
They were sorry. They really were. Sincerely sorry, and Dean hadn't bothered to doubt them. They'd do everything they could to help his brother. Some even offered financial assistance.
He'd accepted, of course.
But it wouldn't be enough.
Even for a hero, the hospital budget just couldn't provide anything beyond the basic necessities of life.
It wasn't personal. Just business.
He has two days.
He'd come to with an oxygen mask pressed over his nose and a hairy mustache just inches from his face, and sat up faster than he ever had in his life. "Holy…!"
"Whoa, hold on there," the voice was gravelly and gentle, and Dean had clung to the sudden supporting hands as the world swayed wildly, strobing blue and white and red in the light of emergency vehicles. "You've got yourself quite the concussion, young man. Take it easy."
Carefully he'd pried an eyelid open again and stared dazedly at the two men with mustaches that rivaled Bobby's…three men…wait, was it just one?
"How long was I out?" His voice had sounded terrible, like raw flesh being dragged at speed over thousands of shards of cut glass.
"Hard to say, exactly. You were found by one of the response teams just a few minutes ago. They'd been concentrating on the area immediately surrounding the building…didn't expect to find anyone halfway down the ravine." The paramedic -- it had to be just one man, there was no way, just no way, that he was being worked on by a trio of burly triplets -- had busied himself with applying gauze over the now-treated burns.
"Jumped. From the second story." He'd coughed, then frowned. There had been something missing…someone missing, but Dean couldn't put his finger on it…
It'd hit him then. All at once. Like a tonne of bricks. Out of the blue. Insert cliché here.
Where was Sam?
He'd repeated the question to the paramedic.
The man's face had flashed from gently jovial to immediately concerned. "Sam? You mean there was another guy in there with you?"
"Not with me. With…Josh. The kid. Got 'im out." Dean had rasped, and felt the man draw away. "Dude, what…?" He peered blearily up at the medic, trying to see the face…faces…that had suddenly disappeared into the shadows.
"The guy who rescued the kid?" Came the softly formal response. There had been an intake of breath, a soft cuss that sounded remarkably like 'Shit.' "What's your relationship with him?"
Dean had felt the sudden urge to giggle hysterically at that point and had barely managed to suppress it. What was it with people…? Two good-looking guys show some modicum of concern for each other, and they automatically… "He's m'brother, jackass. Tell 'im…to get 'is ass…over here."
Okay, so not very polite. But given the circumstances, Dean didn't care.
"I didn't mean…oh, geez." Something, some quality about the paramedic's tone had alerted Dean, and he'd looked up quickly, trying to force his recalcitrant pupils to focus together on the medic's face. "Oh, geez, kid…"
Dean had felt his heart constrict, felt panic shoot through his spine. He suddenly found he was having trouble breathing, hyperventilation battling smoke inhalation for dominance.
In between gasps, he'd managed to grind out, "Answer…question. Where?"
"Shit…" The curse had been much louder this time, and the bear-man shouted for help. Now he was rummaging around in his bag. He pulled out a needle pack, ripped the end open with deft precision. Dean felt the cold steel plunge into his arm, felt his breathing begin to even out, felt his body unwillingly relax.
"Where…?" He had begged, sleep beginning to overwhelm him.
Two -- no, three -- no, a single, solitary pair of bleak eyes met his own as the darkness bore down upon him.
"Kid, he went back. He ran back inside…"
For several hours he has been pacing in front of the window like a caged animal, back and forth, back and forth. Eyes bloodshot and slightly feral, he stares out longingly at the Impala, his gaze drawn unerringly to the sleek black lines gleaming in the wintry sun. The car is as much a symbol as a utilitarian need, a symbol of raw power…strength…speed…
It would be so easy to simply dodge out of town, shift off before anyone knew. Just take Sam and run, like they'd done so many other times. Find a shady motel somewhere and finish the healing process there; it had always worked before.
But this wasn't like those other times. Dean would gladly give his life for his brother, but he can't breathe for him. Not continuously. Not without passing out after about 45 minutes from lack of oxygen in his own lungs, leaving his brother to suffocate silently at his side.
Sam needs hospital care. Sam needs paid hospital care.
Dean can't run away this time.
He takes one last, long look out the window, and turns away.
He's found her.
The old woman cackles unpleasantly. "Still around, sonny? Thought I'd cleared you out last time."
He smiles grimly. Not quite.
He points silently to the car. She blinks quizzically, twists her head to one side. Slowly begins to smile, the predatory grimace distorting bland granny-like features into something wilder, more dangerous.
Dean is reminded unpleasantly of a Wendigo.
She whistles between her gaping teeth, walks carefully down the porch steps and around the car. "1965 - no, 67- Chevy, right? In prime condition, by the looks of it. Are those leather seats?" She doesn't wait for an answer, just takes a drag from her ever-present cigarette and ducks her grey head into an open window, runs her fingers appreciatively over the dashboard. "So, you thinking to buy in?" She gestures distractedly over her shoulder to the card players visible through the window.
He names an exorbitant price, far more than the Impala could possibly be worth. She laughs in his face. He unobtrusively grinds his teeth and invites her to examine the soft leather seats, the pristine, cherry condition of the engine block, the authentic tail-lights. He neglects to mention that the body has been rebuilt numerous times, forgets to mention that the engine, while technically 'cherry,' has been reworked so many times by yours truly that the certification was pretty much meaningless. Forgets to convey that the chassis is shot to hell.
He does remember to mention that a collector had once offered him a quarter million dollars for the car.
It had been a joke at the time, said in jest; just how much money was Dean Winchester willing to forgo for the rights to his baby? Now, though, it might save his brother's life. He sees the sudden gleam in her eyes, and knows he has won.
She sucks air hesitantly through her teeth.
"All right," she says. "all right. I'll match it. One round, through the deck or till one of us loses. Winner take all. Ben up there will deal. We can use my deck."
He shakes his head sharply and holds up an unopened pack of cards and she laughs again, laughs long and loud, eyeing him approvingly.
"You do like to do things right, don't you, young'un?"
Dean is playing.
Dean is playing like he never has before.
Those who sit in their lonely living rooms, watching serious, blank faces or little flashing numbers on tiny, spastic screens; they think they know poker.
They couldn't be further from the truth.
THIS is poker. A match between two top predators. Layer upon layer upon layer of false tells, hidden emotions. An occasional 'misplaced' card, a brief 'slip.' Both opponents jabbering away, trying to distract each other, trying to drown out their own misgivings in banal banter. Eyes ever sharp; intellect ever working, analyzing, probing. Counting the cards, controlling panic, confusion, terror, banishing them to the far corners of the mind.
Grim determination seeps in from between the cracks of this enjoyable façade and oozes down the stained steel table legs.
Neither one can afford to lose.
His smile freezes, flutters, nearly dies. She looks over at him innocently, as if unaware that she had just pulled off a drastic move. "Your call, boy."
What the hell is she thinking, betting everything? Without seeming to the said "boy" studies her closely, watches as rheumy eyes flick briefly to the clock busily ticking away on the kitchen counter.
Dean looks at the cards in his hand, at the meager pile of chips left before him. He counts quickly, uselessly. Not enough. If he loses this round, it's for good. There will be no going back. Folding now will give him one more chance to turn this around, but...
He purses his lips as if considering, staring at his cards. A five of clubs and a three of diamonds. There had been a four of hearts in the initial flop, and he suspects a two might turn up within the next couple of cards...
It isn't much to work with.
He had bet with less, but that was before. Before every single thing that he believes in…lives for…ended up as stakes in this damn game.
For just one moment, miniscule in the forward race of time, he allows himself to panic, to think of the Impala, his only home, being driven off without his family; of Sam, wasting away in the hospital.
Then he smiles, relaxes back into the chair. Pushes his remaining chips out into the center of the dining room table with a nonchalant air. Prays in the back of his mind to whatever deity might happen to be listening in on his thoughts.
Slowly, the two players lay their cards on the table. Dean feels the breath catch involuntarily in the back of his throat as he sees the cards she drops, one after the other, onto the wooden tabletop.
A king, a jack. Both hearts. Both matching oh-so-sweetly with that little crying queen that had just left the dealer's hand.
The bitch is setting up for a royal flush, the most powerful hand in the entire deck, bar none. And Dean knows, with the certainty of the experienced card counter, that probability is on her side.
For one brief, panicked second, Dean contemplates what he'll do when he loses. He knows he'll try to take the money anyway, has known it since before he arrived. Just grab the Impala and run. Pay off Sam's medical expenses, pray that the hospital finishes treating his brother BEFORE they find out that the money was stolen, and then get the hell out of town…
Then the realist within him kicks in.
He can't just cut and run on this game. The old hag and her cronies would undoubtedly report the theft, forget to mention that it occurred during a less-than-legit game. He would have to split town immediately, go on the lam. Stay with Sam, and he'd end up being arrested. Either way, he would end up having to abandon Sammy on his hospital bed. And if the hospital did find out about the ill-gotten money? They'd cut Sam's treatment again.
A shudder passes through him. His throat closes involuntarily.
The only way to stop her would be to take her out, take out the other players who are innocently observing the game…quickly and quietly, and hope the police don't find the bodies till long after…
The thought makes him sick, because he doesn't know if he'd actually do it.
He thinks of Sam's lifeless assisted breathing, and has a horrible feeling he might.
But there would be too many witnesses, too many bodies. It would never work, not in this real world he happens to be living in, and he is out of time, out of options.
He has to win.
…with his opponent setting up for a royal flush.
…the cards left in the deck completely out of his favor.
Dean is praying.
Dean is praying to Lady Luck like never before, as he watches 'Ole' Ben' slowly lay down the second to last card down on the table with all the overblown theatricality of a Vegas magician.
Ace of Clubs.
A scattered round of murmurs and nods passes through the crowd.
The gleam in the hag's eyes dulls slightly for a minute, then strengthens. She won't have the matched flush she hoped for, but she can still orchestrate a high straight from this Royal family reunion. The odds are still in her favor.
Still, Dean feels the slightest glimmer of hope spring to life in his chest at the sight of the card. Ace, 3, 4, 5. Against Jack, Queen, King, Ace. And a two is still possible. He has a chance.
Not much of one, granted, but he has a chance.
It all comes down to this last card.
Dean feels his breath hitch again in his newly-healed throat. Abruptly, watching becomes unbearable, and his eyelids involuntarily slide closed, a prayer hidden under his breath.
The time for poker faces is now well in the past.
So he does not see the card as it leaves the deck and slowly lands, right side up, on the flat surface beneath. Does not witness as a small pocket of air catches underneath and, for a moment, skates this small harbinger of fate along, gliding it effortlessly along the varnished wood before settling it gently to a stop in front of him.
There is a dead silence throughout the room.
Though his own eyes are still closed, he is suddenly very aware of every eye upon him, every menacing leer.
The hag is quiet for a moment, then takes a long, slow drag from her cigarette. "Get out."
He opens his eyes and looks over at her, makes a noise of confused protest in his throat.
"Take it." She waves her hand over the table in disgust, her voice expressionless. "Oh, for God's sake, take it. I don't run a crooked game. Take it and get the hell out."
Dean considers mentioning that technically, this card-hall excuse for a residential home is about as crooked as they come, and finally allows his eyes to wander back down towards the table.
Down to the smooth, simple red-and-white curves contrasting innocently with the darkened mahogany of the table top.
The two of hearts.
Slowly, a muttered noise begins in the room behind. A few half-hearted 'congratulations' reach his ears.
With a freaking two of hearts, he's won.
The next few minutes are a blur of folded bills and hostile stares and abruptly he's sitting again, sitting in his baby, hands on the steering wheel and foot hovering over the gas and tens of thousands dollars worth of cash stashed in several neat little hide-aways all around his body.
He doesn't even know how he got there, and has an uneasy feeling that if he thinks about it too much, he's going to break down completely. His eyes are already dangerously hot and blurry with relief; it wouldn't take much…but he won't break down, not here, not in front of the old bitch's house, not with everyone watching.
He takes a deep breath, releases the clutch, and drives off.
He's halfway to the hospital when his right buttcheek suddenly tries to do a solo version of the Macarena.
Without much thought he grabs the vibrating phone, flips it open. "Yeah?"
It's the annoyingly perky receptionist from the hospital.
"Speaking." If Dean were in a less bewildered state, he might have picked up on the girl's suppressed excitement. But as it is, he is taken completely off guard.
"Oh, Mr. Archer, I just had to be the first one to tell you the news! It's about your brother…"
Not likely to be about anyone else. Dean snorts, and only just manages to turn it into a sneeze.
Then, he realizes what she is saying.
"…woken up from the coma! He's really groggy and out of it but the doctors say…should be breathing on his own by the end of the week…"
Dean doesn't hear much else after that. He makes "Mm-hmm" noises in all the right places and manages a decent goodbye, but he doesn't hear it.
When he comes to, he realizes he's been sitting at the (now green) stoplight for nearly a minute, the dial tone still ringing in his ears and angry car horns resounding through the air. Dazed, he manages to drive through the light, finds a parking space on the other side of the intersection, pulls in.
Incredulous, he wrenches the humming phone from his ear and stares at it a while longer.
When it rains, it pours. And those Luck loves, she adores.
Dean feels it building inside him, a hysterical giggling fit of epic proportions.
Everything is going to be all right. Everything is going to be perfectly-fucking-perfect...
He pulls the emergency brake, leans his head against the wheel, and with a half-strangled roar of sobbing laughter, gives in.
*A note: Please, take everything mentioned within this fic with a large grain of rock salt. I am not, nor do I claim to be, an expert in the fields of fire-fighting, medicine, or poker. What details I have included here came about as a result of Internet searches, television programmes, advice from experts, and common sense, and have likely been combined in a highly inaccurate fashion.
…though the 'emotional-chatterbox-poker-face' works very well. Confuses the heck out of 'professional' players…XD
*Note 2: Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading my very first Supernatural Fic! I hope that you enjoyed the experience! (And an e-brownie for anyone who can tell me where Sam and Dean's alias is from!)