Wow. So this is what it feels like to stand next to a hospital bed with a cup of ice chips and nothing much to do with them.
I just – this is just – dammit this is wrong. Sammy's not supposed to be laying in a hospital bed in ICU, strung out on painkillers, with words like 'microsurgery', 'anastomosis', and the terrifying reassurance 'I'm confident we can save both his arms' hanging around my shoulders like a dead weight.
And all I can do is stand here with a Styrofoam cup of ice chips and a plastic spoon that doesn't quite seem up to the job of whittling them apart. That is if Sam would ever wake up and want some ice. But Sam doesn't move, he hasn't moved in hours. It seems like hours anyway, and he's so drugged up that when he does come around his eyes don't focus on anything and it reminds me too much of how he looked when he was dying in Cold Oak and makes me think that him being unconscious is preferable to how that memory makes me feel.
Because my hands are shaking and they shouldn't be.
Sammy, I promise – you come through this whole and sound and if I'm ever in the hospital again, I won't complain when you keep nagging me to wake up.
I can't remember the last time Sam was in the hospital. Me, I seem to end up there every year. The electrocution and heart attack, the car accident, then most recently of course my little trip down hell's memory lane. And each time, Sammy, the youngest, the baby, the protected one, each time he got to be the adult, the protector, the Winchester-In-Charge-Of-The-Situation.
Now though, Sam's just a pale shadow in the bed, white as his sheets, sunken eyes and his hair plastered every which way with sweat and trauma. His arms are bandaged and splinted so he can't move them too much, and if the staff wasn't convinced the wounds weren't self-inflicted, they would've put restraints on him too.
"Sam? Sammy, c'mon. You need to wake up for me, okay? Just a little bit Sam. Just – just humor me, okay? I just want you to open your eyes, just for a minute. Okay? Just for a second. Okay? Sammy?"
The nurses come in with calm regularity, checking Sammy's pulses, checking the warmth of his skin to make sure the repairs on his veins are still open and working. They check his heart rate and his breathing and his blood pressure. They change the IV bag and the catheter bag and his bandages. They talk to him even though he's not responding and they 'let' me stay here beyond visiting hours like they actually think they could get rid of me.
They had to give Sam blood, transfuse him, twice, on the operating table. They had to have two surgical teams working on him, one on each arm, the damage was so bad. And still he was in there eleven hours and some change. More than enough – way more than enough - time for me to go back to the house, bundle up the ghouls and take them some place nice and private for the salt and burn, then wash up and get back to the hospital in time to donate blood and still wait around three or four hours for the surgery to be over.
I burned Sam's blood too, just for good measure. I only wish the transfusions would benefit his soul as much as they benefitted his body.
Looking at Sam, I can't help thinking about Adam. I don't want to. I don't want to think about him but I'm too tired to fight it. As soon as I saw Adam in that casket in that crypt I knew two things – Sammy was in trouble and I'd lost another piece of my family. I could only think about the one though – Sam in trouble – while I went on automatic taking care of the situation.
Now though – now I have nothing to do but think.
Sam and Adam – both lying somewhere they shouldn't be, both ripped apart and bloody. Both still. Too damn still. Sam's never this still. Not even when he's sleeping. It's the drugs, the morphine. He needs morphine too if his wounds are anything like – like I remember wounds like that being.
The ice in the cup is melting and solidifying both at the same time so I set it down on the overbed table and press my hands over my face.
"C'mon Sammy, wake up." I say before I even lower my hands. "I'm bored outta my skull here man. Y'gotta give me something."
I look at Sammy. And he's looking at me. His eyes are half closed and as black as if he'd been punched, but focused on me. It gives me a jolt but I'm afraid of jarring him and causing him pain so I bolt myself to the floor instead of rushing the three inches closer to the bed.
"Hey Sammy. How're you doing?"
He blinks like it's an effort even to do that much and mumbles something I can't make out.
"I'm sorry – what?" I move the three inches closer and lean down a little to try and catch his words.
"Y'r?" Is all that comes out, but I understand it. He knows how to rip into my heart.
"Yeah Sammy, I'm all right. Not a scratch on me. I promise."
Sam lifts his chin that he heard then closes his eyes again.
"Oh no you don't . You open your eyes and you look at me. Sammy - you wake up and you look at me."
And he does. His eyes open half way again and he watches me. I can't make out his expression.
"How're you doing Sam? You okay? Are you in pain?"
"M'f'ssss." He says after thinking about it a couple of beats. He's fuzzy.
"That's the medicine. They got you on morphine. Morphine is the best stuff." I wait but I get no answer, no reaction from him. "You need anything?" Please need something that I can do for you or get for you. Sammy please. "You want some ice?"
"Well yeah dude. It's ice. Of course it's cold."
"Doe wah coe." He mumbles.
"I don't have anything warm to give you Sammy. I could –." Not leave the room. I am not leaving this room. "Oh –wait." There's a bottle of water in my bag on the floor and by now it's lukewarm if not warm-warm. I crack it open and pop a bendy straw in it. "Try this."
He pulls in a swallow and that's all I let him have and he doesn't complain when I pull the straw away. He looks at me again.
"Still got 'em Sammy. Both arms still attached. Although I was thinking, if we had to, if you had to have those metal fake arm things, you could have one made out of silver and the other out of consecrated iron. You could be our own walking, talking Ninja."
Well even three quarters drugged out of his gourd, Sammy can still flip me the bird just with his eyes.
"It was just a thought." I tell him. He closes his eyes and I'm left alone again with his beeping machines and my own thoughts.
My hands are shaking and I don't want them to be.
How close do we each have to keep coming to death? How much more do we have to lose, our friends, our family, of ourselves? When do we get to catch a break? I hope again that the transfusions somehow washed the demon blood out of Sammy, but I know it's too much to hope. It's way too much to hope for.
Then a voice that sounds too familiar whispers to me, "But it's not too much to pray for…"
I don't pray. Sammy knows I don't pray. God knows I don't pray. But – I prayed when Sammy was facing down Lilith. And it worked, didn't it? Not the way I wanted maybe, not the way I was expecting, but it worked. I didn't lose Sam that time.
Maybe it'll work this time.
I clear my throat.
I check to make sure Sam is sound asleep.
I clear my throat again.
I whisper, "Whatever it takes, help me save Sam. Make this help him."
Sammy sleeps on and nothing else. Yeah, I want instant results, but I guess I'll take what I can get. I stand next to the bed awhile longer, watching Sam sleeping, but my feet want to walk and my hands want to make this all better.
I'm no good at this. I'm no good at doing nothing. I'm no good at not being able to help Sam. I'm no good at –
Sam seemed really happy actually to have a kid brother. To have his chance to be a big brother. And he was good at it. Awesome even. And I can't even make myself take the credit for any of it. I can't say 'he learned from the best' because I am so far from 'the best' that I can't even make a joke out of it.
Not when Sam's been ripped eight ways from reason and as soon as he gets the green light out of here, we have to go torch Adam's bones. I don't want to think about that. I don't want to think about a lot of things that have to do with Adam. Most of all that he seemed like a good kid that I wouldn't have minded being in my life. Because God knows, if nothing else, we need a doctor in the family.
And another little brother wouldn't have been a bad thing either.
I sit, I stand, I pace in the tiny room. I touch Sam's hand to make sure it's still warm because the nurse hasn't been in to check it in like thirty eight minutes. It's warm. Dad was warm too right after he died and I felt the warmth drain out of him and I keep my hand on Sam's to prove to myself that he isn't getting cold. He isn't dying. Not this time. I won't let him.
His fingers in my fingers twitch and I squeeze them automatically. Sam squeezes back. At least as much as he can with the bandages and splints and pain.
"St'r?" he asks without opening his eyes.
"Yeah I'm still here. You trying to get rid of me?"
He smiles, a little.
"A'm'dm'l'f." All his damn life. Funny guy. Two can play that game.
"Hey Sam? Do me a favor? Say 'pterodactyl'."
He blinks his eyes open then stares hard at me.
"Pterodactyl." He says plain as day. It maybe costs him some breath and energy, but he's on to my game.
He smiles again, a little. He doesn't close his eyes.
"H'r'sss." He says when the smile disappears.
"Hurts? Your arms?" I reach for the call button. "You want the nurse?"
"Na'r'm's." Not his arms. "A'm."
I really want to pretend I don't understand what he's saying. I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to think about it. I want to put it away somewhere nice and safe and sound until I have to deal with it. I don't want to have to deal with it right now.
"Yeah." I say anyway. I do understand. "Yeah."
"H'z g'd k'd."
"Yeah, he was a good kid. Baby brothers in this family, what can I tell you?"
"Fine 'um. Nee fi num."
"I know where he is Sammy. We'll take care of him as soon we're out of here. I know where he is."
He closes his eyes again and I let him. He falls back to sleep by his breathing and I don't even want to wake him up. He deserves the rest. He's been pushing too hard for too long and I haven't –
He needs the rest. I think I need it too.
I pat his hand a little and take the chair again.
When Sam wakes up, when he heals up and we get out of here, then I'll deal with the fact that Adam was our brother and that Sam was ready to use him as bait to catch the ghoul. The fact that all Sammy sees now is evil in the world. From what he said to me, anything that isn't evil he thinks is an illusion. A lie. The hunt is all there seems to be to him now. And I can't help thinking,
Good job Dad. Sam's finally the son you probably never really wanted him to be. And Adam died the death you tried so hard to protect him from. And I'm the one who has to deal with all of it.
How the hell did we ever get here from where we started?
I'm so tired I don't even stand up right away when I hear Sam call me.
"Right here Sam." and then I stand up and stand at the bedside and he's looking at me.
"Yeah, right here." I slip him the bendy straw again and let him have a little more water than last time. "You okay Sammy? Pain meds and everything? You okay?"
Why? Because Sammy my whole life has been reduced to this hospital bed and you're it.
"Just checking. That's all. Go back to sleep. They're talking about starting therapy on your arms tomorrow. Have some more water and go back to sleep."
"K." He sips some more, eyes already closing and then he's gone again with the last swallow.
I put down the water and pick up the cup of ice chips and sit down in the chair again to sit and wait and do nothing.