Apparently, just because someone 'expects' a full recovery, doesn't necessarily guarantee one.

Day nine - count 'em, nine - sitting at Sam's side, drinking too-strong coffee with too little in his stomach from that morning, Dean was verging on a level of desperation he hadn't felt in a very long time.

"C'mon bro, nine is not a cool number. Everybody knows seven is the best, and eight is second best, but I know you know 'seven ate nine', so nine is no good man.......Yeah, I know, that was pretty stupid, huh? Just open those eyes for me buddy, and I'll stop sayin' stupid stuff and pretend it never took this long, alright?"

Dean put his half-drunk cup of caffeine on the white-gray counter to his left, trying to ignore the slightly gross smell of antiseptic and the ever increasingly aggravating sound of rubber wheeled carts going through the hallway out the door behind him. With Sam right in front of his eyes, breathing on his own, heart strong, brain activity looking good, and face only a little too pale, it was almost possible to pretend Sam was just asleep.

But Dean knew what Sam looked like when he slept, and he knew that Sam was the most peaceful and youthful he could be when he was truly asleep, and Dean knew that an unconscious, comatose Sam looked expressionless, and old, and just wrong.

Sam looked so wrong, lying there....

But that was all he did, since Dean had brought him into the hospital, scared to death it was all over, that seizures two, two seizures, too many and possessions was in him for weeks, how could I not know and crazy freaky psychic powers spewing from the 'box' in Sam's head demon opened it, it was already there, oh god would've been just too much, that Sam wasn't gonna of course he was gonna, he's always gonna, I'm not gonna let him die, not ever.

Still, nine days is long enough to give anyone a migraine. Dean had a migraine the size of Egypt Egypt sounds pretty big, maybe should try for bigger, maybe Africa? Yeah, Africa sounds about right the size of Africa pounding through his head, seeming to beat the rhythm of 'wakeupwakeupwakeupwakeup' over and over, which really wasn't helping at all.

"Sammy you gotta stop with the beauty sleep man, at this rate you might get up to being half as good-looking as me."

Sam's heart bleep bleep bleeped at him, steady, paced.

"You're right, there's no way you could sleep long enough to get that far. So stop trying kiddo...."

* * *

Ten days is ridiculous. Dean had thought it was over, he really had at 6:38 the night of stupid day nine. With the knuckles of his right hand kneading his forehead and his left tapping out the lyrics to Welcome To The Jungle in morse code on Sam's forearm, it had seemed totally normal for Sam to sigh his typical, huffy, 'Dean, you're bugging me, go away' sigh, to flick out his right forefinger. Dean almost grinned, about to make some comment. Of course, three quarters of a second later, he almost choked, fumbling to stand and nearly breaking the call button when he pressed it hard enough to put his thumb through it.

"Sam? Sammy?!" he'd called his name, and the nurse had come, and Sam had sighed again, and made a face, and then nothing.

Nothing, even though Dean practically had to threaten murder to be allowed to stay overnight, and watched him until at least four in the morning. Nothing, not a sigh, not a huff, not a twitch, nothing.

Dean had really thought Sam was waking up, thought it was going to be ok, tht they were never going to have to reach day ten.

Because ten days is ridiculous. How the friggin' hell did anyone expect him to go ten friggin' days without someone to mock or push around or call names? How did anyone expect him to last ten days without a geeky sidekick around to amplify Dean's rugged coolness, his clearly superior sex appeal? How could anyone expect him to get to sleep at night if he didn't have Sam there to yell at or throw things at or- or- or laugh with or drive with or just sit with. How was he supposed to just go a day with hearing Sam's stupid useless factoid blurbs and scolding, how was he supposed to decide what to eat if he had nobody to argue about it with? How was Dean supposed to just live without a brother to talk to, to work with, to rust in, to live with him?

It was just was ridiculous because this whole thing was Dean's fault anyway, this whole thing could've been prevented if he'd just paid that much more attention when things started going crazy, if he'd just taken that much more precaution instead of letting his guard down on account of some stupid, measly little charms. If Dean had just done something....anything....there had to be something, he could have.....he should have......the whole thing....

"...the whole thing....god...just....if I'd just...."

"Shutup Dn 'msleepin..."

And that right there made ten, ten, 1- 0; made it Dean's official favorite number ever.

* * *

Day number twelve turned out pretty good too, since they finally got to ditch the hospital and get back to the second most (just for today, ok?) important individual in Dean's world.

"Hey baby, Daddy's home and he brought a brother," Dean called out into the lot, coming up with a pat on the Impala's top, looking back to his brother and managing to keep his smile from hitching, ignoring the distinct pull he had to hold Sam's elbow or something; the kid had to still be hurting....

"Dean 'm fine," Sam huffed, eyes downcast and mussed up hair falling in his face as he reached to let himself in the car.

"Didn't say anything, sasquatch," Dean replied, snark intact, and settled in the driver's seat, starting the ignition.

"Whatever," came Sam's reply.

They sat. The engine purred, long and subtle, and they sat, the minutes ticking by.

"What're you doing, Dean? Car's on...."

Dean stared at the steering wheel in his hands. He could feel it, he could see Sam's posture, he could practically smell the sulk coming off the kid. He needed to say something.

"Right, sorry. So you feel like pizza or chinese? Or tacos, I could do tacos man..."

"Whatever," came Sam's reply.

Dean swallowed, suddenly not hungry at all.

"Eh we'll see what we can get delivered once be get to the room," Dean said with a shrug, pulling out of the lot and onto the street, pretending to ignore it when Sam picked up his painkillers and tossed em in the back seat.

* * *

"Whatever," came Sam's reply.

"Dude!" Dean stood, throwing down the cloth he'd been wiping down the guns with, "That's it, that's frickin' enough! Out with it, Sam!"

Dean glared at his brother, who looked up at him exasperatedly from his seat on the edge of the bed.

"What? Dean, I dunno what you're-"

"Don't gimme the crap Sam, I can tell when you're full of it. If somethin's eating you, then just out with it, because I'm sick with the whatevers, man. You just sit there, you don't move, you don't talk, and everything's just 'whatever' with you since the...." he made a waving motion with his hand,".....thing," Dean didn't want to say it, he didn't want to say demon, or hospital, or royal-screw-up, or anything really, they weren't the best of memories, but Sam was clearly hung up on something, and it was really just not cool to have his brother back minus the brother part.

But suddenly Sam was on his feet and in Dean's face, up close and personal, and wow, deja vu anybody?

"The thing, Dean?" Sam's voice was in angry-low mode, all quiet and furious, kind of creepy in how it reminded Dean of that night, not the same, "Why don't you just say it? It wasn't just a thing, Dean. It wasn't just a thing that was inside of me. It wasn't just a thing that I almost murdered you. It wasn't just a thing, Dean, and if you're gonna talk about it, if you're gonna talk to me about it, then say it. Say it, man, because you frickin' act like nothing happened at all, like it was no big deal, just immediately forgivable," he waved his hands in the air, sarcastic,"no big deal, back to normal! Well it's kind of a big deal, Dean, and I'm sorry if it bugs you that it's 'eating me,' but in case you hadn't noticed, nothing is fixed."

Den looked, stony-faced, at how upset Sam looked, and it clicked. It suddenly made sense. He dropped his gaze, nodding slowly, and took a side-step around Sam, pacing once, bringing his hand to his jaw, and turning. He gazed at Sam, still nodding, "You're right."

Sam stared. "What?"

"You're right. It wasn't just a thing. You were possessed, Sam," Dean shrugged, didn't acknowledge the way Sam's face went blank and his shoulders dropped, "You were attacked, and possessed, and then I was attacked, and we both could have died. You almost did," Dean swallowed, looking at Sam, stepping toward him again, slowly, "And I'm sorry. I'm sorry Sam, because it's my fault."

Dean watched calmly when Sam's entire demeanor shifted, taking a step back and looking like Dean had just proposed that they have cat for dinner, "What? Dean, that's not-"

"You're right, it isn't just forgivable. I'm sorry I wasn't better prepared, and that I just didn't realize, didn't notice. I'm sorry I let it slip by me, and I'm sorry it came so close." Dean said it all calmly, watching Sam's face turn mortified.

"Dean, it's not-"

"And I know it sucked, Sam, but I can't change it. I wanna, but I can't go back and fix it right." Dean kept on, ignoring Sam when he got louder, more insistent.


"You just gotta believe me, Sammy, I know it was a big deal, and ot's because I screwed up."

"De-" Dean interrupted him, still watching his brother

"Sam, I sorry for the whole thing."

"STOP IT!" Sam was shaking, "Stop Dean, it's not, it's not your fault it's mine! It's mine, okay?! It's mine, I-I-" Dean just stood, watching, forcing himself not to move even though Sam's eyes were welling now, and dangit he knew they'd have to do the chick flick thing eventually, but this just sucked, it sucked so bad. Sam continued, "It was in me and I didn't even know it! I should have, I could tell something was wrong and I didn't even think, I thought, the charms, I thought....and then I couldn't think because it was thinking and making me hurt you, and it was in my head, and I didn't...I didn't know what else to do, it just put it right in front of me, and I-I knew I couldn't, I knew it was bad to use it, but I did, I had to, it was going to kill you, and I couldn't stop after I started it was just so bright, it was so bright and it felt so strong....I couldn't stop....I didn't....I didn't mean...." Sam was crying in earnest now. Dean looked on, feeling somewhat mortified himself.

There's not much worse to watch than Sam crying.

He came up to his brother and gripped his shoulders, swallowing the tightness in his throat before willing Sam to meet his gaze before he said what he'd been waiting to say since the thing began anyway.

"Hey, look at me. Look, " Dean emphasized his words with a little shake, "None of this was your fault, Sammy."


"No, no it wasn't. And it's not mine either, even though I feel like it, even though I want to take some sort of responsibility for it. It just happened Sam, it happened and it got by us, and you dealt with it the only way you could, and you saved me, you saved you, and we're okay. We're alright, Sam."

"I couldn't stop, Dean, I didn't want-"

"I know, kiddo, I know. But we'll worry about that part if - if - it comes to it, alright? I trust you, man, and if the," Dean swallowed again, "if the psychic stuff crops up eventually, we'll worry about it then. But what happened was not your fault, Sam. You can't let it eat you up. Not for that, Sam, not because you feel guilty. Don't let it eat you up for that. Okay?"

Sam was sniffling somewhat pathetically, and Dean was genuinely surprised when he agreed, "Yeah, okay." Dean had expected it to be a lot harder that that. He raised his eyebrows, and Sam rolled his eyes before tossing out, "But I'm sorry, too." Dean nodded again, this time seriously.

"I know Sam."


"Okay. And we are fixing it."

Sam snorted, "Yeah okay. How we goin' about that?"

Dean patted Sam on the shoulder, turning and settling back down, picking up the rag and resuming his gun cleaning ritual.

"How do you feel about tattoos, Sammy?"