A/N: This is a little bit of fluffiness that has been bouncing around in my head for awhile. I blame Dennis (who put the idea in my head) and TraSan who double dog dared me. (She did! ) With all that, this story is a week late. I meant it as a birthday gift for Dennis, and that was last Saturday, I guess it's only ONE week late, so that's not too bad, I hope. Thanks to Abni for the awesome title. Thanks to TraSan. Happy Birthday, Dennis!
Going to Montana
An insistent buzz worked its way into Sam's dream. At first his brain didn't register it all the way, instead adding it to the scene playing out in front of him. It took a couple of moments for the sound to start making sense and pull him from sleep. He opened an eye and looked at his cell phone as it vibrated itself along the bedside table. Getting the other eye open, he picked up the phone and looked at it, "1 New Message From: Dean" scrolled across the screen. Oh, god. Sam hit the view button.
"Ygh zk gnxc yke ljcfs ib! Bxdgr hj dihhww," it said.
Sam frowned at the phone, trying to decipher the Dean-textish. He had no idea what the first part meant, but the last he could guess at. He hit reply and sent back, "I'll bring you coffee in the morning."
Several minutes went by before the answer came back, "Yscls. Acc dpn gync."
"See you then, Dean," he replied, rolling on his back and staring at the ceiling. The texts were becoming a regular event. Whatever they were giving Dean in the hospital left him awake enough to text, but not coherent enough to realize what he was sending. Although it was obvious from the spacing and punctuation that Dean thought he was sending something that made sense.
Sam was worried.
Okay, he'd been worried for a week now, starting with the salt and burn when Dean had gotten hurt. The spirit hadn't been happy about their attempts to get rid of it, and Dean had gotten hit with a very large rock. He'd seen his brother fall, but the spirit wouldn't let him get to Dean, so Sam had to finish the job before he could check on his brother. The fact that Dean was still out worried Sam. Over the years Dean had enough head injuries to make an entire hockey team jealous, and Sam knew how to cope. He knew the head injury drill so well he could probably teach classes in it. But Dean was still unconscious when Sam got to him and that was the beginning of the tightness that often preceded panic.
And it didn't get much better after Dean was finally awake. His brother had been confused, in and out of awareness for more than twelve hours when a fever appeared. Dean with a fever could be tricky to deal with, Dean with a head injury could be difficult to deal with, the two combined with worsening confusion, was enough for Sam to seek out professional help.
He took Dean to the tiny hospital in the small town they were passing through at the time. There had been no wait in the ER, and the staff, after wrestling—literally—with Dean told Sam his brother needed to be admitted. He'd been expecting it, and was ready to fight with Dean about it, but when he went back to the cubicle after speaking with the doctor Dean was out of it. The nurse explained that they'd "given him something to relax." Sam's worry headed towards panic again. He waited as Dean was taken for tests, and more tests, and then, just as Sam was sure they were done, more tests.
It was nearly four hours until Dean was settled into his room. His brother was more aware by then, complaining about being stuck there, complaining about the TV offerings, complaining about the way the sheets smelled. The fact that Dean was bitching gave Sam a moment of relief and when the staff had finally chased him out at the end of visiting hours, he'd left without a fight, believing that his brother was on the mend.
That night the texting started.
Dean had tried calling, but halfway through their conversation one of the nurses had come in and taken the room's phone, telling Dean he needed to rest. About ten minutes later Sam's phone had buzzed with "1 New Message From: Dean."
"Stupid nurse. Want out of here."
"Maybe tomorrow," Sam sent back.
About an hour later, the phone buzzed again.
"Npthng in TB."
Sam frowned at it a moment, and figured it had to be "nothing on TV," he sighed and sent back. "Try channel 42."
It was quiet for almost half an hour when another text came through.
"K ncts hjsnd lkabn. Ml fgnnff."
He couldn't make any sense of that, even after staring at the keys of the phone for several minutes, trying to figure out what Dean might have been typing. He sent back "It's okay." Apparently that had been the right answer, because it was the last text before Sam fell asleep.
His phone woke him three hours later.
"Mdkhs kd bmggaa."
"I'll bring coffee," Sam sent back.
It was quiet for the rest of the night, and when Sam showed up the next morning with coffee for Dean, his brother had been surprised. Dean had no memory of sending the texts, and insisted he hadn't until Sam showed the messages to him.
Sam sighed, that had been three days before and the texts still continued. He was hoping Dean would be better after he was released in the morning. The doctors were finally comfortable enough with his brother's condition to let Dean out. Sam glanced at the clock, it was still more than four hours until he could head in to the hospital. He rolled over, closing his eyes, not sure he could get back to sleep.
After five more texts, spaced at 40 minute intervals, Sam gave up all hope of sleep. He stopped for coffee on the way in and arrived almost an hour before he'd told his brother he'd be there. As he walked down the corridor to Dean's room, he could hear music playing. It sounded like it was coming from his brother's room, when he reached the door he could hear Dean singing.
"Dean?" he said, walking into the room.
"Sam!" The music cut off. "You're early."
"I thought you wanted out of here." Sam handed Dean a coffee.
"I do, I've just been sitting here watching..." Dean looked up at the TV. "Infomercials. You go tell them to get the paperwork ready. I'll get dressed." He swung his legs off the bed and stood, Sam caught him as he swayed forward. "Uh..."
"You sit there, I'll grab your clothes, then go get the paperwork." Sam got the clothes out of the closet, set them beside his brother, and stepped into the hall. "I need to get Dean's papers," Sam said to the woman behind the desk.
"All ready, Sam, and we have his prescriptions here, too," she said, handing him a bag. "Did the doctor go through them with you?"
"Yeah, last night when he told me Dean could leave today."
"Good, make sure he takes the antibiotic with food, it's been making him a little nauseous. Doctor Esitbal did prescribe something for the nausea, but a little food really helps."
"Thanks, Tonia," Sam said, smiling at her.
"Sure. He's getting better," she said softly.
"You look worried, he's getting better."
"Yeah, I know," Sam paused, wondering if he should mention the texting. No, it should get better now.
"Can we go now?" Dean said, coming up behind them.
"You're supposed to leave the hospital in a wheelchair," Tonia said, frowning at Dean.
"Do I have to?" Dean smiled at her—Sam recognized the smile, it was the one Dean used to get almost anything from almost anyone. He'd seen that smile get them backstage at a Cheap Trick concert once. Tonia reacted as expected—she smiled and blushed, the color starting in her neck. "Please?" Dean added for good measure.
"Sure," she said, obviously flustered.
"Thanks." Dean smiled again and started down the hallway. He lurched to the side.
"Dean?" Sam said, catching up with him and put a hand on his shoulder.
"Floor moved," Dean muttered. "Where're you parked?"
"Right out front."
"Good." Dean walked through the doors and stopped outside. "It's bright."
"Sunshine is, Dean."
"Bite me," he said, heading towards the driver's side of the Impala. "Give me the keys."
"You are not driving."
"Yeah I am." Dean leaned against the car. Sam wondered if his brother realized he was... "Didn't you put it in park?" Dean asked as Sam stopped his fall.
"The car isn't moving, you are." Sam grabbed his brother's elbow and steered him around to the passenger side.
"Am not," Dean grumbled, but got into the car. "I'm hungry."
"We can stop on the way back to the motel. There's a grocery store with a deli in town."
"I want pizza."
"The pizza place doesn't open until five."
"Then I want burritos."
"They don't open till three."
"How about we stop at the store and have pizza tonight?" Sam said. "Not even you would like to eat at the one breakfast place in town. Trust me on this."
"Remember Mom's Breakfast Palace?"
"Yeah." Dean swallowed, looking green. "Grocery store it is." He turned on the radio and leaned back in the seat. His brother had been quiet for a moment when Sam heard him start singing softly. "La la... Best of both worlds... la la la la la rock out the show." The lyrics faded into nonsensical syllables, then back to "Best of both worlds... la la la la la rock out the show."
Sam couldn't place the song, it wasn't what was playing—that was "Electric Eye" by Judas Priest. Sam listened to Dean, trying to figure it out. He started running through lyrics in his head, discarding them all as he went. Whatever the song was, it must have been stuck in Dean's head, his brother kept singing the same part of it over and over. Sam pulled into the parking lot at the grocery store.
"Potato chips, M&Ms, Cheetos," Dean said as Sam got out.
"I know what you like," Sam said under his breath as he closed the door. He was pretty sure that the doctor's idea of food and Dean's were light years apart. Sam planned on compromising, getting some of Dean's favorites and something closer to food as well.
When Sam walked into the store, the scent of roasting chicken rolled over him, making his mouth water despite the early hour. He headed towards the deli, humming the song Dean had been singing, and got a chicken and potato salad, then headed in search of Dean's "necessities." After locating the chips and chocolate, Sam wandered to the back of the store, checking to see if there was anything else that struck him. He noticed sour cream was on sale and got a tub, knowing Deans fondness for sour cream and chips. Once he'd filled the carry basket, he headed to the check out, still humming the song Dean had been singing.
"Oh my daughter loves that show," the checker said.
"What?" Sam said, looking at her in confusion.
"My daughter loves that show," she repeated as she rang up the items.
"You're humming the theme song?"
"Theme song?" Sam asked, feeling stupid.
"Yeah, to 'Hannah Montana', my daughter sings it all the time."
What? "Hannah..." WHAT? "Montana?" Sam swallowed, caught between hilarity and complete panic, not sure if he should tease his brother, or head straight back to the hospital. "Are you sure?"
"Oh, yeah, I hear it without a break sometimes. She has it on the DVR."
Oh god. "I'm sorry," Sam blurted out before he could stop himself, then smiled. "Hearing something over and over can be hard."
"Yeah, it can! Do your kids like it?"
"I don't have... One, one of them apparently likes it." Sam paid for the items and walked out to the car.
"Did you get chips?" Dean asked as he got in.
"Good. Breakfast." Dean smiled.
"Potato chips aren't breakfast, Dean, they aren't even food."
"Are hashbrowns food?"
"Yeah," Sam said as he turned onto the road.
"But potato chips aren't?"
"No." Sam wondered what trap Dean was leading him into this time.
"But they're both fried potatoes, Sammy, how is one not food?"
"Do we have to have this conversation now?"
"You started it."
"I did not..." Sam took a deep breath. "Fine, I started it."
"What?" Dean turned to stare at him.
"WHAT?" His brother sounded completely panicked. "Sam?"
"Dean, what is it?"
"Am I dying?"
"You gave in! What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Sam said calmly.
"I don't believe you!"
"Nothing is wrong, Dean. Well, you just got out of the hospital, I figured I could let you have one."
"You sure?" Dean asked.
"Don't do that to me ever again, okay?"
"Let me win that easy. I thought... Never mind what I thought." Dean grinned. "Are we there yet?"
"I'm going to kill you," Sam growled as he turned into the motel's lot.
"I'll take the groceries in and come out and help you," Sam said, getting out of the car.
"I don't need help." Dean opened the door and stood--then grabbed wildly at the door. "But if it would make you feel better."
"Thanks." Sam put several bags down and walked over to his brother. He helped Dean into the room and gave him the one bag he still had in his hand. "Don't eat the chips."
"Yeah, right." Dean dug them out of the bag and opened them. "It's like hashbrowns in a bag."
"There's sour cream too," Sam said resignedly.
"Good job, Sammy." Dean pulled the tub out of the bag. "What the hell is this?"
"No. It's not. It's cottage cheese." He opened it and peeled back the plastic seal. "Looks like barf." Sniff. "Smells like barf."
"And if you hadn't opened it, I could have taken it back."
"You can eat it." Dean smiled at him, then closed his eyes.
"I'm okay," his brother answered, the standard response. When he didn't open his eyes, Sam stepped forward. "I'm okay," Dean repeated—and fell back on the bed.
"Bed flipped," Dean muttered. "Told you to never to get flippy beds."
Sam eased his brother up and helped him to the head of the bed, then pulled the blankets over him. "I'm going to get the rest of the stuff." He took a breath, realizing his hands were shaking. The urge to take his brother back to the hospital was becoming a little beat of panic in his chest. Sam walked outside, stopping beside the car for a moment to calm himself down. The worry that had never gone away was coming back full force. The doc said he'd be dizzy for a few more days, he's okay. He grabbed the groceries and headed back to the room. When he opened the door, the TV went off and Dean looked up, a chip halfway to his mouth. "Dean?"
"What?" Sam put the groceries down on the table and turned to his brother. "Are you eating...?"
"It looks like..."
"Would it make it food?"
"Then, yes, I am eating potato chips and cottage cheese." He dipped another chip in the tub. "For barf it's pretty grawesome."
"Grawesome?" Sam started trying to get the food into the tiny fridge.
"Yeah, grawesome, shut up."
"I said shut up." Dean picked up the remote for the TV and turned the set on, changing channels as soon as he could. Sam glanced over before the switch and caught the end of a "The Marathon Continues" ad before a baseball game came on. Sam sighed, wondering if he should ask Dean about the song. He heard the rustle of paper, and turned in time to see Dean fishing his medication out of the bag. "Stupid childproof..."
"Here." Sam took the bottle and opened it, handing Dean one of the pills. "Dean?"
"Want me to get the waste basket?"
"Yeah, maybe you should."
"I was joking," Sam said softly.
"I know. Sorry," Dean said sheepishly. He took the can from Sam and set it beside him on the bed. "Want to watch the game?"
"Sure." Sam sat down on the other bed. Within half an hour the week of worry and long nights caught up with him and Sam went to sleep. His phone buzzing woke him sometime later. Sam reached for it automatically, flipping it open and glancing at the screen. "1 New Message From: Dean." Sam hit view.
"Gtmcdk. Ycoq ldbbw," it said.
Sam blinked and pushed himself up so he could look at the other bed. Dean had his phone in his hand, frowning at it in concentration. "Dean?" Sam said quietly. His brother didn't react. A second later Sam's phone buzzed again. He hit view.
"Tan?" it said.
"Dean?" Sam got up and walked to his brother's bed, he sat down on the edge and gently took the phone out of Dean's hand. "Dean?"
"Sammy?" Dean looked at him, his eyes fogged with hurt and confusion. "You didn't answer."
"I just got it, Dean, and I'm here."
"I'm right here." Sam realized his brother's eyes weren't focused on him, he grabbed Dean's shoulder and gave him a shake. Dean blinked. "Dean?"
"What're you doing?"
"You with me?"
"Course." Dean said, looking irritated, his voice sounding a little slurred.
"What did you want?"
"Want?" Dean blinked again. "Oh, pizza."
"It's still a couple of hours before they open, Dean. I'll go as soon as I can. Maybe you should sleep?"
"Watching the show," Dean's voice was getting more slurred.
"Show?" With a sinking feeling Sam turned to look at the TV. "Next up: More Hannah!" was scrolling across the screen. Oh, god, should I call the doctor?
"Gotta find out if Jackson gets into college," Dean mumbled.
"Jackson?" Sam asked with growing horror.
"He's trying to get in, but he kinda sucks as a student. Not like you, Sammy."
"Miley's...?" Forget the doctor, I'm calling 911.
"Yeah, I wanna find out what happens."
"Okay," Sam said, drawing the second syllable out. "But you have to rest too, if you want pizza."
"Want pizza," Dean said, his head falling back against the pillows. "With salami."
"With salami." Sam tried to get the remote away from his brother, but Dean held on to it.
"Nuh uh, watching." Dean's eyes were closing.
Sam tried several times over the next two hours to get the remote away and change the channel. Once he even tried changing it on the set, but Dean woke up—or was aware enough—to know it changed and flipped it back. At five, Sam called the pizza place so it could be ready when he got there, he didn't like the idea of leaving Dean, but the place was less than two blocks away. He shook Dean awake before he left, telling him where he was going, and leaving Dean's cell laying on his chest. His brother smiled at him and closed his eyes again.
When Sam came back with the pizza, Dean woke up long enough to eat a couple of pieces, change the channel back to "Hannah Montana" and went back to sleep. He was awake three hours later, took the medication Sam handed him, drank half a coke and went back to sleep. At midnight, he woke up, ate some chips, and went back to sleep.
Sam was starting to panic.
Dean had seemed much more alert in the hospital. As near as Sam could tell, Dean had only been really aware for two hours since they'd gotten back to the room. Add in the odd viewing matter and it was enough to have Sam pacing the floor with his phone in his hand, debating whether or not to call the doctor of just haul Dean out to the Impala and take him back to the hospital.
At four he sat down on the edge of Dean's bed and shook him gently. "Dean?"
"Come on, just wake up enough to get to the car."
"Car?" Dean opened his eyes and looked at him.
"I'm taking you back in, Dean."
"You've been out all day," Sam said, trying to keep the panic out of his voice.
"No, Dean, you haven't been awake ALL DAY!" And you've been watching...
"Sammy, hey," Dean said, laying his hand on Sam's knee. "I am okay, it's just the meds and stuff make me sleepy."
"You were awake in the hospital."
"Yeah, I was, I didn't sleep much, even with the drugs."
"I couldn't sleep."
"Didn't feel safe," Dean muttered, looking away.
Sam wondered if he was supposed to have heard that last comment. Dean admitting something like that... He is still pretty drugged up, he probably won't even remember... Suddenly the texting made more sense. Sam smiled, the panic dropping away. He breathed a sigh of relief and patted Dean on the chest, leaving his hand there for a moment, needing the contact. "Okay, we don't have to go back."
"Good, now get some sleep," Dean said, laying his hand over Sam's. His brother's eyes closed and he was asleep an instant later, his breathing deep and even.
Sam waited another moment, then got up, grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge, changed the TV to the History Channel and laid down. He was part way through the "Secret History of Machines" when he fell asleep.
The sound of someone moving around the room woke Sam with a start. His hand was closing around the butt of his gun when his brain caught up with him and identified the noise as Dean. The coffeemaker gurgled to life. Sam sat up, Dean was bending over the fridge, bracing himself with one hand against the wall. His brother straightened, the tub of cottage cheese in his hands. He picked up the chips off the table and headed back towards his bed. "Dean?" Sam asked.
"Coffee will be ready in a minute."
"How do you feel?"
"I'm okay. I took my meds, might go back to sleep after some TV." Dean picked up the remote and turned the set on, flipping through the channels. "Grawesome," Dean said. Sam looked over at the TV. "Up Next Hannah Montana" was on the screen. He turned back to his brother, Dean slid a sideways glance at him. "What?"
"You're going to watch what?"
"Dean? Should I be worried?"
"It's funny, Sam, I watched about six hours straight in the hospital."
"Shut up, Sam, it's better than documentaries. It's funny."
"Should I go out and buy you a CD?"
"Well, at least it's not progressive art rock." Dean's voice dripped with derision.
"What?" Sam asked, getting up and heading over to the coffeepot.
"You heard me."
"You can't call me a girl anymore. Maybe we can stop and get you a Hannah backpack or something."
"You think they make Hannah holsters?" Dean was focused on the TV. "Oh, this is a good one."
"You've seen it?"
"Yeah, she takes this picture of herself, as Hannah, so she can get a phone, only she has her Miley necklace on—anyway, in the end she has the Rock help her get the picture back."
"The Rock? Dean?"
"Yeah, he ends up holding the guy upside down till he gives her back the picture. A teenage girl using a Hollywood star for violence, what's not to like, Sammy?"
"Nope. Thanks." He took the cup of coffee Sam handed him. "I'm okay, really," Dean said gently, it was his "I know you're worried, Sammy, but it's fine" tone, the one he used when he was hurting or sick, but was on the mend. "It's starting. You get the limo out front," Dean sang.
"You're really going to watch this?"
"Yep. Hottest styles, every shoe, every color," he continued the song. "A Hannah holster would be grawesome."
"Nope. It's the best of both worlds," Dean picked up the song.
"You can't be serious."
"Chillin out, take it slow, then you rock out the show," Dean finished up the chorus with a flourish and took a sip of coffee.
Sam wondered if Dean really liked the show or he was watching just to drive him crazy.
Judging from the smirky grin on his brother's face, Sam doubted he would ever know.