A/N: Here's the end of this one. I hope it's not too fast paced, or lacking. Thanks again for all the support. Enjoy...
Oh and for another friend who's reading. Don't shoot the writer girl, but I know you're gonna catch something in this chapter. Consider it my nod for a shove in the right direction with another little bit of a story.
Dean again hesitated at the door to Sam's room, seeing him lost on another bed, surrounded by machinery. This time there was no whoosh-click, just the steady, soft beep and the slightest hiss of the oxygen being fed to Sam through a mask. He was pale, dark circles beneath his eyes, arms lax against the mattress. The lighting in the room was dim, mostly from the window of the room, sunrise coloring the sky outside. Dean let himself in the room and pulled the chair close to the bed, his finger reaching out to ghost over bruises on Sam's arm.
"Why is it every time my head's not in the game, you're the one who pays?" Dean snarled beneath his breath, self loathing evident in the rigid set of his shoulders. "I mean, damn, first is was the Shtriga, then that damn demon booby trap with dad. Now this…all because I… because my head's not right." Dean leaned forward, resting his forehead in his hands, elbows on Sam's bed. "Freakin' hunt. Took everything from us an' now, because I'm not alright, it's tryin' to take you." Dean wiped harshly at his eyes, leaving his fingers over the watering green orbs. His shoulders shook silently and he finally lowered his head to rest on the mattress, his spiky hair just brushing Sam's wrist.
Dean stood, turning in the darkness at a sound behind him. A man stepped out of the shadows, his brother's tall form held in front of him. It had a firm hand clasped around Sam's throat, it's face shadowed.
"Ya were supposed to protect him, boy!" a sharp voice barked from behind Dean. He spun, moving so that his eyes flicked between the figure that held his brother captive and the new comer.
"That thing got to Sam because you didn't do the one thing I thought ya could! Sam's hurt because ya didn't look after him good enough!"
"Sammy here's always been my goal. Your mommy? She was just a consolation prize, daddy too." The figure holding Sam sneered, yellow eyes glinting with a light all their own. The hand at Sam's throat tightened and Sam gasped, groaning in pain as blood began to seep through his shirt at his torso. It ran down the fabric of his flannel to seep into the waistband of his jeans, his face going pale as pain registered on his features.
"See Deano- Sammy's all mine."
"Ya let me down, Dean. Ya let Sammy down."
"NO!" Dean said, rushing his father, swinging a fist. The figure disappeared. Dean growled and rushed the demon then, pulling Sam from his arms. The yellow eyed demon backed away and disappeared into the darkness.
"D-Dean." Sam stuttered.
"Shh, I gotcha. I gotcha and I'm not gonna let go. Never gonna let ya down again."
Dean bolted upright in the chair with a gasp and pushed away from the bed. He paced across the room and looked out the window, seeing the rain coming down, trickling down the glass before striking the window ledge and running off. Dean's mood matched the rain as he looked out, determined to do the one thing he could to protect his brother. Leave until he could get his head back into the hunt. For now though he would wait. He couldn't find the strength to leave if there was still a possibility that there would be no Sammy to fight his way back to.
"Goin' for coffee Sammy." Dean said, pulling his tired body up from the chair and leaving the room. Dean found himself standing outside in the rain, the coffee in his hand untouched and rapidly cooling as it caught rain water. Dean walked to where the Impala waited patiently for him. "Hey girl." Dean muttered, blinking wetness from his eyes. He eased the door open, the familiar squeak making his lower lip tremble. Dean slid behind the wheel, his eyes everywhere but the bench beside him. He finally stilled and focused on the rain water coursing down the windshield.
Tears dripped from his eyes and slipped down between his stubble. Why? Dad… you always told me to watch after Sammy. I've always done my best. Then…I hear this voice in my head, screaming at me. An' it's yours dad. Take care o' Sammy. Save Sammy. If you can't save Sammy, ya might have to kill 'im…
I'm so scared now. All the time. Somethin' is waiting to take Sammy from me. Somethin' bad…an' I don't know what. Now it's like I know I can't protect him and every single thing that happens…it's bad. I don't know how to stop it. I don't know if I can. All I know is that if I'm not around, then he can't be hurt because of me. Dean startled and hurriedly rolled down the window, flinging the cup of cold coffee from the opening. The cup hit the pavement several feet away and coffee mingled with rainwater.
Dean eased from the car and walked back into the hospital, walking into Sam's room. It was dim, the lighting turned low. "You were gone a long time for coffee." a whisper of a voice greeted Dean's ears and he gasped, moving to the bed.
"Aw, hey." Dean sat back on his chair and reached for Sam, cupping the side of his neck. Sam tipped his head slightly and put pressure on Dean's fingers. His eyes slipped closed. Dean sat through another night, watching his brother. Dean rubbed at his eyes tiredly just after dawn and stood from the chair, his back cracking. Sam continued to sleep and Dean slipped out to get something to eat returning to the motel down the road to shower and change clothes. A couple hours later he was walking back into Sam's room.
"You awake?" Dean asked, hearing his little brother's soft word of greeting and taking in the still closed eyes.
"If you can call it that?" Sam questioned, blue green peeking through the slits of his eyelids.
Dean snorted a laugh. "Doped to the gills, huh?"
"Think so." Sam said, the corners of his lips tipping up. His eyes drifted shut. Dean reached a hand out and gripped Sam's shoulder.
"At least you're getting better."
Five days later…
"Sam, what the hell are you doing?" Sam stiffened at the rage in Dean's voice. Dean flung his jacket over the back of the chair, stepped forward and caught Sam under the arms, easing him back to the bed.
"I had to move." Sam said, a grimace crossing his features as he shifted restlessly on the bed.
"Damnit Sam!" Dean said, stilling Sam with a hand to the shoulder, before he pulled back, turning away from his little brother.
"Dean?" Sam questioned. "Dean what?"
Dean grabbed his jacket again and shrugged into it once more. "Wait, where are you going?"
"Because Damnit!" Sam jumped at Dean's tone and stared at his brother's back. "Because I can't take care of you." Dean said, his shoulders tense as he remained turned steadfastly away from Sam.
"What?" Sam asked, his voice rough as his blue green eyes welled with tears.
"It's my fault you're here. My fault you're hurt."
"No. It isn't."
"It's not? My mind wasn't even in the hunt. Hell I didn't even know what the fuck went wrong!" Dean turned around and faced Sam, rage and self loathing on his face. "Sam, when you reached for me, over that barrier… I knew you were hurt. I saw the pain on your face and I still latched on. I still used you to save my ass."
"No. I reached for you because you're my family! You are the last good thing I got left." Sam said, his breath ratcheting up a notch as his face paled.
"I almost lost you….so many times. An' after Dad…after dad, I can't do that again. I can't take it! I mean, you stopped breathing in the freakin' car. Two minutes out and you stopped. Got ya here 'cos there was nothin' else I could do. They gotcha back and then it happened again. You arrested twice. Twice Sammy. Twice ya get hurt and twice I damn near lose ya, all because my mind…it's not where it should be."
Sam blinked again, a tear leaving his eye to course down his cheek. His breath hitched and he felt his breath leave him on a sob.
"Dad trusted me to take care of you. I can't do it. I keep letting you down. Him. I can't even manage to take care of you Sammy. I gotta leave. You'll be safe if I leave." Dean turned away and headed for the door again. Sam gasped, pulling off his oxygen tube, and pushing himself up from his reclined position. He stretched out an arm towards his brother's back.
"Wait! Dean…" Sam breathed, pain coursing through his ribs and lungs. "PLEASE!" Sam sat up on the bed, leaning sideways as he reached out for Dean. He rasped harshly, his breath refusing to stay in his lungs. Dean heard the sound and turned around, seeing Sam's anguish filled pale face, hearing him fighting for breath.
"Sammy." Dean breathed, moving quickly to his side. He grasped Sam's outstretched, shaking hand and pulled him gently into his arms, reaching for the nasal cannula that Sam had discarded. He fastened it beneath Sam's nose and around his ears and pulled Sam closer, running a hand over the back of his neck in a soothing motion. "I'm here. I'm here."
Sam pulled in several breaths, finally relaxing against Dean's chest. "You never…let me down. You always took care of me. Better than dad. Better than… pastor Jim. Anyone. You raised me Dean. I'm still here because of you. Only you. You're my brother."
"Get some sleep Sammy. I'm here." Dean said, settling into his position next to Sam, relishing the feel of his brother resting in his arms, getting better. Dean's lips turned down, remembering all the times that Sam trusted him with his life and that is was close. Too close. Then other memories stepped in, memories of the times that Sam was okay. The times that Dean had done his job and Sam smiled. Sam was safe. Never letcha down again little brother.
Ten days later…
Teresa walked into the room after knocking softly against the door frame. Sam looked up from his laptop, where he sat on the bed, clad in jeans and a soft brown and gray flannel with a white tee shirt underneath. His sock feet were propped up, crossed at the ankle, his shoes sitting by the bed.
"So I guess Dean went to sign your release papers?"
"Yeah. I'm finally getting sprung."
Teresa smiled. "Where are you and Dean going now?"
"Dunno. Was lookin' for a job, but I get the feeling Dean'll wanna hole up somewhere for a while."
"It's a good idea, Sam. You almost died, a couple times."
"Damn straight, it's a good idea." Dean said, leaning against the doorway with a smirk on his face. "Listen to your nurse Sammy."
"Bite me." Sam said good naturedly, a matching smirk on his face.
"Your wheels are on their way."
"What?! Aw, come on…"
"Hospital policy Sam." Teresa said, a smile lighting her features. Another nurse pushed a wheelchair into the room. Dean smirked again as Sam glowered. Dean stepped forward as Sam sat up on the bed and reached down for his shoes. He hesitated, his ribs still catching painfully. Dean reached for Sam's sneakers and put them on for him, as Sam sat straight and wrapped an arm around his middle.
"Chariot awaits, princess."
"I'll should tie you to it and it to the back bumper. Bitch."
Dean took the handles and wheeled Sam out of the room, Teresa having handed Sam his laptop after putting it in the leather bag. Dean backed the chair into the elevator, letting Sam press the ground floor button from his vantage point. He sat back and waited for the doors to close. The car gave a short lurch and started down.
Between two and three, the lights gave a short flicker and Dean stiffened and reached a hand into his waistband for his gun. He turned at Sam's gasp. A small, dark haired woman in nurse's scrubs stood next to them in the car. She flickered and turned to the Winchesters, a smile making her pale face pretty. She spoke then, a soft accent reaching the boys' ears.
"Thank ya for savin' me 'ospital, mates." She smiled again and flickered, disappearing.
Sam looked up at his brother who looked down at him, his mouth gaping before he shrugged.
Dean glanced up from the laptop screen, a woman's picture and an article on the page he'd looked up. "Hey."
"Yeah?" Sam said from the bed, where he reclined, printed research material in his lap.
"The chick spook in the elevator? Name was Johanna Tunney. Turns out she was head nurse, died in a stabbing three years ago by a patient who security killed in a hostage situation." Dean looked back at the screen. "Brought in for mental instability. 'Joey' as everyone called her, volunteered to work with him, said she had a bad feeling about 'im and that she wanted to protect her hospital."
"Guess she still is, huh?"
Sam eased carefully from the bed, walking over to look at the screen over Dean's shoulder. "She had guts."
"Dean, I know you're worried that you can't protect me. After what Dad told you and what's been goin' on…well, I just want you to know that you shouldn't worry about it. I know you do, but you shouldn't. You've been keeping me safe since I was six months old. It's what you're best at. Just don't doubt yourself. I don't."
Dean looked at Sam briefly, his green eyes searching Sam's face, noting the better color and the fading dark circles. Maybe I can. Dean thought, before a smirk crossed his face. He switched tabs on the computer, catching Sam's eye. Busty Asian Beauties glittered across the screen. Sam laughed and cuffed Dean on the head.
"Dude, don't lock up my computer surfin' porn."
A/N: I hope you all liked this story. I've got just a bit of a July Fourth fic coming up. Hopefully the next one you'll get to see from me is a one shot based in Skag Trendy's 'verse The Winchester Werewolf Chronicles: Shades of Night. I'm just waiting for the right moment. If you haven't read Hunter of the Shadows, get over there and read. It's freakin' beautiful! I'm not at all biased because it was for me either! It is a full on life altering read! So much thought and planning and love went into it. You're really missing some of the best writing around if you haven't caught it. Go on. Drop me a review and then get over there!