A/N: Another comment ficlet based on the prompt: I want Dean in traction. Multiple broken bones. Surgery. Weird scary external fixators. And Dean freaking out internally but trying to play it cool for Sam or Dad or both.
It's not a sudden thing, waking up. It happens in fits and starts, flashes of noise and color, and Dean's not even aware that he's doing it until someone passes something warm and damp over his face, and he recognizes the sensation enough to realize that he's awake, which means he must have been asleep, which means — and then he's out again.
The next time he wakes, he's lucid for longer, enough to hear the beep of machinery and to smell the familiar tang of medicine and antiseptic that tells him he's in the hospital, and he struggles to get his eyes above half-mast, fights the world into focus.
Everything's still blurred, though, and he can't do anything but lie there as someone grips his chin, shines a sharp flashlight in his eye.
He tries to get some words out, tries to ask where his father is, where Sam is, what the fuck he's doing here and when the fuck he can leave, but he realizes that there's a whole lot of plastic tubing in his mouth, and he's pretty sure all he does is moan. It's a relief when he sinks under again.
And then the next time, it's for real, and Dean's eyes focus when he opens them, focus on the sweet-faced woman who's standing over his bed, scribbling something on a clipboard.
"Hey, honey," she says when she sees his eyes on her. "You're awake!"
Dean tries to agree, but the words get stuck painfully in his throat, and he winces.
"Your throat's gonna be a little sore," she says. "I wouldn't try to talk just yet. You've only been breathing on your own since this morning – we just took out the tubing, and that stuff can hurt when it comes out."
She raises her hand to his mouth, presses something cold and wet to his lips. "Here you go, hon, nice and easy. That's right."
The sensation of the ice chip is startling, and Dean lets it melt, trying to slog through the haziness of his mind so he can form coherent thoughts other than "Dad" and "Sam" and "what the fuck?"
He opens his mouth, planning to give voice to these thoughts, but he just gets another ice chip for his trouble. It feels good, soothes his throat, and things are getting clearer by the moment.
He tries to move a little, to pick his head up or something, and that's when it hits – pain, immediate and blinding, shooting down his back and through his legs, wrapping around his torso, rattling his jaw.
A harsh, keening sound fills the air, and it takes Dean a second to realize it's coming from him. He slams his mouth shut, feels the ice chip slide down his throat, and for a second he thinks he's gonna choke, lets out a hoarse cough that hurts like a bitch, but not as much as fucking every other part of his body, holy jesus goddamn hula-hooping Christ, what the fuck happened to him?
He's only vaguely aware of the nurse bustling around over him, and he pants through the pain until it dulls suddenly, and he recognizes the warm rush of morphine through his bloody. Oh, thank fuck.
"Fuck," is the first real sentence he manages, and the nurse titters a surprised laugh.
"Don't try to move just yet, sweetie. If you want me to prop your head up a little, I can do that. Is that what you were trying to do?"
"Yeah," he croaks, pleased that he's making word-shaped noises, finally. "What—?"
"Two broken femurs, one collapsed lung, a broken collarbone and humerus, and a broken pinky finger," the nurse rattles off, which wasn't what Dean was asking, but, okay, useful information. She lifts his head to slip a pillow under it, and that's when he sees himself for the first time.
Both his legs are suspended out in front of him, hanging from the fucking ceiling, and they're each clamped in some sort of metal cage, huge shining spikes sticking out of these holes running up and down both legs.
He feels bile rise up in the back of his throat, and tries not to freak the fuck out, but it's hard, because he sees now why he can't move, and all of a sudden moving is all he wants to do, even though he knows it's stupid, and is gonna hurt, but it's kind of scaring the shit out of him to know he's locked to the ceiling, locked to this bed, and there is absolutely nothing he can do about it short of tearing his legs off and dragging himself away.
Which ain't gonna happen any time soon, because he realizes just seconds later that his arm is in a cast from his neck to halfway down his forearm, bent in an L-shape that means he can't bend his elbow or move his shoulder, and he feels cold sweat break out on his face, feels the beginning of panic sing up through his belly as he realizes that he is one hundred percent immobile, trapped.
Okay, so maybe Dean is a little claustrophobic. He doesn't like it when he can't move, doesn't like being so completely at someone else's mercy. And right now he's basically helpless at the hands of this she-monster who's busy stuffing his mouth with ice-chips so he can't speak to ask the really important questions, like where the fuck is his father and brother and are they okay?
It's coming back to him in bits and pieces, a flash of headlights, the rumble of an engine, the smell of crushed grass and soaked wheat in the summer air, the sound of his father screaming at him to run.
A possessed tractor. A possessed fuckin' tractor mows him the fuck down and lands him in goddamn traction? Christ.
He clears his throat, wants to ask about his family, wants to ask how long he's been there, but she takes that as an invitation to press another piece of ice to his lips, and he can't move to bat her hand away, so he just spits it right back out, fuck politeness, because he's really trying not to completely lose control and freak the hell out, and he thinks maybe he might be losing.
"Where—" he manages, but just then he hears a creak as the door opens, and the nurse looks up with a wide smile.
"He awake?" he hears his father say, and Dean practically knocks himself out trying to pick up his head enough to look at John.
"Hey, Deano," his father says softly, and Dean almost cries he's so happy to see him.
"Dad," he croaks, licks his lips, tries to figure out how best to express himself. "Holy shit."
"Yeah," his father agrees, sits down in the chair next to him with a thump, puts one hand on the bed right by Dean's good arm, almost touching. "You're pretty messed up, champ. How do you feel?"
"You've been out for three damn days, you know that? Scared the shit out of your brother."
"Sammy, is he—"
"He's fine, just drove him to school. Couple of stitches on his arm, that's all."
"We get it?"
His dad's expression goes soft. "Yeah, Dean. We got it."
Dean nods, regrets it, bites back a groan of pain.
"The doctor says you're gonna be just fine," John tells him, leans forward in the chair. "Got a couple of months of PT ahead of you, that's for sure, but nothing permanent. You've got a couple of busted legs, a –"
"I know," Dean says. "She told me."
John nods, swallows. "You'll be fine," he says again.
"When," Dean tries, clears his throat. "When can I get the fuck out of here?"
John's mouth goes tight. "Whenever the doctors say you can. Probably not for another week, at least."
Dean's heart starts trip-hammering in his chest. A week? A week of this, locked to the bed by steel and his own body, staring at his legs dangling out in front of him, staring at where the steel bites through his flesh and drills into the bone?
"What's with the hardware?" he gets out finally, trying to get himself under control. "When's it coming off?"
"Maybe another week," his father repeats, glances at it, and then away, like even he's having trouble stomaching the sight.
Dean closes his eyes, wishes that the nurse would give him some more of the good stuff, knock him out so he didn't have to be awake for this.
"It's not so bad," John says. "There's a T.V."
Dean doesn't answer, just shifts position a little. And, hello, mistake – fire ripples through his ribs and down his fucked-up arm, and his legs chime in with their own chant of pain, despite the morphine he knows was just administered.
His eyes squeeze shut even tighter, and he wills his body still, even though every instinct is telling him to ignore the pain and fight, pull free of the shit tying him down and get the hell out of this bed, away from the sight of his body trussed up like a Christmas ham.
He's fighting for breath before he even realizes it, teetering on the edge of hyperventilation, and he hears his father's worried voice, "Hey, Dean, take it easy. Take it easy!"
He tries, he really does, but every inch of his skin hurts, and he's drugged to the gills, and he's gonna be dead-bolted to this bed for another fucking week, and he doesn't really know if he can take it.
He feels his father's hand settle on his forehead, calloused and competent, unmoving, just a warm, heavy weight. And Dean can't help but relax into that touch, the certainty of it, the safety.
"Shhh," John says, like he's talking to someone much younger than eighteen. "Shhh, just breathe. Let it in, and then let it out. C'mon, Dean. In, and out."
Dean fights to get his breathing back to normal, and he feels John's hand start to move, set a rhythmic pattern to the sound of his low voice, chanting, "In, and out. That's right, that's it, nice and easy. In, and out."
Dean can feel himself relax, can feel the blind terror settle down, recoil itself, and he focuses on his father's voice and the feeling of his blunt fingers sifting lightly through Dean's hair.
"That's right," John says, his voice far away now. "Get some sleep. I'll be here when you wake up."
Dean's having trouble keeping conscious, but he struggles to focus on his father, getting further and further and dimmer and dimmer. He thinks he feels something scratch along his temple, like someone's three-day-old stubble, thinks he feels his father's fingers slip down from his head to rest feather-light on his cheek – but he's on some pretty strong drugs, and he could have been imagining it.
He can't fight, though, can't resist the medicated swamp that tugs him under, and finally, the distant feeling of John's hand recedes and he sinks into blackness – and it's okay. It's safe, to give in.
His father will be there when he wakes up.
A/N II: Okay, for those of you that read the Drive 'verse, as I was writing this I couldn't help but picture this same fic without John at the end. John just never comes and Dean is alone, freaking out. Because that's technically Drive canon. So, if you want some Dean post-accident timestamp fic, just omit all mentions of John and comfort in this, and there you have it. Pretty grim, yikes.