Yes, I added another chapter. No, this isn't a brand new chapter. Chapter 3 is the brand new chapter. If you're confused - don't be. I accidentally missed an entire chapter (how I don't know) so had to replace each chapter with the one before, bumping each one up a number and adding the final chapter as chapter 17 in order to put chapter 3 in. It's an important chapter that explains why Sam remembers Krista telling him over and over that Dean isn't there and that he left. It's his rescue from the bluff and being taken to the hospital.
Author's Note: So, here it is! The final chapter of Brothers and Friends. It's been a wonderful journey writing this and sharing it with everyone, and I'd like to send a special thank you to bhoney, whose regular reviews and private messages have really helped me make this story better. And thank you to everyone who has sent in reviews and added this story to your favourites and story alerts. It was very encouraging to see such a positive response for my first story.
Disclaimer: Not mine, as usual.
When Sam woke up again it was to the bright white walls, fluorescent lights and pale green curtains of a hospital cubicle. The weight of an oxygen mask was over his face and the pinch of an IV was in his arm. The faintly floating feeling was also present so he was on the good stuff, clearly. Most noticeable though was the warm hand gripping his.
Blinking sleepily he rolled his head on the pillow to look at Dean, who smiled gently back at him. "Hey," he muttered, coughing slightly when the words irritated his scratchy throat.
"Hey, about time you woke up," Dean said softly, giving Sam's hand a squeeze. "Doc said you could go home when you were awake but that was six hours ago. They're starting to talk about admitting you because you wouldn't wake up." He didn't even bother hiding his worry, didn't joke to cover it up. Sam had scared the shit out of him, again, on that bluff and he didn't have the energy to make light of it.
"Sorry," Sam replied, feeling bad for worrying his brother even more. "Told you I was tired." Coughing again he grimaced. "Thirsty."
"Here, nurse left some water for you." Leaning sideways Dean snagged the water sitting on the cabinet in the corner of the cubicle and, easing the oxygen mask aside, pressed a straw to Sam's lips. He pulled it back after his brother had taken a few swallows and settled the oxygen back in place, pressing the nurse call button on the wall when he set the water back down.
"So what did the doctor say?" Sam asked after a minute of silence, blinking sleepily again and wondering how long it would be before they let him go. He didn't want to fall asleep again and wake up to find they had admitted him.
"You've bruised your back, rang your bell a little and luckily haven't done any more damage to the injuries you already have. You just pushed yourself way past what your body is ready for," a familiar voice stated as Dr. Lacey came through the curtains into the exam cubicle. He smiled at Sam. "You're very lucky. What you were doing on that bluff I don't want to know, especially since you are supposed to be resting and healing, not hiking, but you were lucky at least."
"So can I go home?" Sam asked. He ignored the sharp look Dean gave him and tried to look as awake and alert as he could.
Dr. Lacey moved forward and began examining him, shining a light into his eyes and manipulating his limbs. After listening to Sam's lungs and heart he stepped back, slinging his stethoscope around his neck and smiling. "Stay long enough to finish that IV and then you can leave. I'll have a nurse come in to check on you in about an hour, and the papers for you to sign out waiting at the front desk." Giving both brothers a stern look he added, "and don't take it personally but I hope to never see you two again."
"Same here, doc," Dean replied with a grin. "And thanks." Holding out his hand he shook Dr. Lacey's, then turned to Sam when the doctor left but the youngest Winchester was already sound asleep again, his head lolling on the pillow. Chuckling Dean righted his brother's head and leaned back in his chair to wait until they could leave.
~* ~~ ~*~ ~~ *~
"Dude, are you ready already!?" Sam shouted from the couch of their cabin. "Seriously Dean, I'm not going to wait forever!" Craning his neck he tried to see out the back door to the small backyard, but not seeing anything he sagged resignedly back into the pillows. It had been two days since the bluff and though he was still tender and felt worn out he was feeling better, but Dean wasn't treating him that way. Dean was treating him like glass, confining him to his bed or the couch since coming home from the hospital. He didn't mind since he had been sleeping almost as much as the first time he'd come back from the hospital, but Dean's hovering was getting kind of annoying. Pushing himself up he reached for his crutches.
"Keep your pants on, Sasquatch, I'm almost done," Dean shouted back, the smile clear in his voice. "And don't even think of getting up. You try it and you'll eat shit on a shingle for supper."
Sam immediately sat back down, hastily rearranging his covers and trying to look innocent when Dean finally came through the door, a tray of steak, mushrooms and baked potatoes in his hands. His mouth watered at the smell and he watched eagerly as Dean set everything on the kitchen counter before preparing two plates piled high with food.
When the plate was finally handed to him and a bowl of salad set down on the coffee table where he could reach it, Sam was almost drooling. One thing Dean was good at was barbequing. He never got the chance often enough, but when he did it was worth it. He was a master chef when it came to Barbequed steak and potatoes.
"Mmmm, amazing," he said, closing his eyes and savouring the forkful of steak he'd just put in his mouth. It was medium well, still slightly pink and so tender it almost melted on his tongue. "Dude, you're the best." He wasn't sure he could finish everything on the plate, Dean had definitely been optimistic when he'd made it up, but he would eat as much as he could. There was no way he was going to waste it.
"Damn right I'm the best. I'm also good looking," Dean replied, laughing at the glare Sam sent him. He felt lighter, in a better mood, since they'd salted and burned both boys' bodies. It meant everything was over and done with. Sam had gotten closure with his friends, the hunt they'd stumbled on was closed and now they could concentrate on getting Sam healed.
Clearing his throat, he finished chewing what was in his mouth and set his fork down. "So, what did Jonathan have to say this morning?"
Sam set down his fork as well, after swallowing the salad he'd been chewing. "He said Justin is going to be fine. He and Krista are in denial about what happened. Justin thinks it was an accident and Krista is sure we had something to do with it. Both of them also think they told us off instead of the other way around. But he says thank you, and that again he's sorry for the way he treated you. I gave him our phone numbers in case he ever needs us."
"Good. You know he turned out to be ok," Dean replied, nodding and going back to eating his dinner. "I was thinking we should head out soon, if you're feeling up to it," he said after a few more bites of food.
It was Sam's turn to nod. He had enjoyed their time at the cabin if you didn't include his injuries. While he recovered he and Dean had been able to reconnect a bit, get to know each other and be brothers again like they hadn't since before he'd left for Stanford. He was going to miss it. But he could tell Dean was eager to get moving again; the older Winchester wasn't the type to stay in one place for so long, and if Sam admitted it to himself he was ready to leave too.
"Great. You good with leaving on Friday then? That'll give you two more days to relax and get back up to strength, the doc can take you cast off and then we'll be out of here." Shoving the last piece of potato skin into his mouth Dean stood up and gathered their empty plates and bowls, putting them in the sink to be washed later, and came back with two bowls of butterscotch ripple iced cream.
"Yeah, sounds good. I'll start looking for another hunt tomorrow," Sam replied as he dug into his ice cream. At Dean's sharp look he shrugged. "I know; we're not taking on any hunts until I'm back to a hundred percent. But I can still look. That way we'll have something for when we're ready."
Dean seemed satisfied with his answer and returned his attention to his ice cream. Sam smiled to himself, setting aside his half full bowl, his stomach too full to finish it, and settled back into the couch cushions. He was tired already and he'd only woken up from his nap two hours earlier.
"You want to go back to bed?" Dean's voice broke into his thoughts.
"Nah, I'm good here. I'll probably just sleep here," Sam replied, shaking his head. He could hear Dean getting up and putting the ice cream bowls in the sink with the dinner plates before he came back and settled into the easy chair next to the couch.
"Well, I'm going to watch a movie so don't complain that you can't sleep if you won't go into the bedroom," Dean told him, flicking on the TV and setting it to the Die Hard move he wanted to watch. Despite his snarky words though, he reached over and tugged Sam's blankets up to his shoulders and turned the volume on the TV down low so he wouldn't disturb Sam too much.
Sam just smiled to himself as he snuggled deeper into the blankets when Dean pulled them up, letting himself drift off into the welcome arms of sleep, content in the knowledge that Dean was there and he wasn't going anywhere. "Night Dean," he mumbled, "Love you."
As Dean watched his little brother drift off to sleep and heard his mumbled goodnight he blinked in surprise, not expecting it. After a minute he smiled and patted Sam's foot. Yeah, things had been rough and they had both learned a harsh lesson, but they had also learned that nothing could come between them. They would be ok; Sam was on the road to recovery, they'd be back on the road in a couple days, and things would be back to normal.
"Night Sammy," he whispered to the sleeping form. "Love you too."