Recovery Time

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Just a quick one-shot. I promise to try and keep it short.

Shortly after their father's death, Sam's secret and Dean's increasingly violent tendencies place the youngest Winchester in danger.

Takes place early Season 2, probably after IMTOD.

An AU, and no mention is made of John's last words to Dean.

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The punch landed square in the gut. Without checking to see if his brother was ok, Dean angrily spun around, and strode away.

Sam gasped for air, vision speckling over with dark blotches as he fought to stay conscious. Leaning against the hood of the ruined Impala, whimpering in pain, his eyes widened when he glanced down and saw the blood seeping through his shirt.

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Bobby Singer just finished basting the turkey, when he heard a stumbling noise and a grunt of pain behind him. Turning round, he gasped in shock, leaping forward just as Sam slid down the kitchen wall, panting and covered in blood.

His mouth worked but no sound came out, and Bobby's heart clenched at the pleading look in the kid's eyes as he cradled him in his arms.

"Jesus, Sam! What the hell happened?"

Sam shook his head weakly and, with a small whimper of pain, promptly passed out, body slumping, hands falling limply to his sides.

"Dean! Get your ass in now!"

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Dean was white as a sheet, pacing the waiting room, breathing fast and shallow.

"Sit down, kid, afore ya pass out on me." Bobby growled, angrily. "Last thing I need is another sick Winchester."

"Why the hell didn't he say anything?" Dean kept pacing, ignoring the warning signals that suggested a pissed off Bobby Singer was about to go postal. "Instead, he keeps this to himself? Something this big? After everything we've been through?" He scrubbed a hand through his hair, tugging viciously at the roots. "Godammit Sammy!"

That did it. Bobby was up and out of his seat, pinning the older brother against the wall.

"Maybe, just may be, he'd have told you if you'd taken the time to actually talk to the kid!"

Dean stared at him in shock. He'd never seen the grizzled hunter this mad before. Dropping his gaze and nodding, he relaxed while Bobby moved back a few steps.

A silent truce.

"You're right," Dean whispered eventually in pain and despair, green eyes filling with tears. "I was so caught up in my own selfish grief; I didn't even stop to ask him if he was ok. And then… th-then I go and punch the poor kid… oh God! What the hell have I done?"

Bobby just shrugged helplessly, his own eyes looking a little moist.

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Sam's eyelids fluttered helplessly. He was trying to wake up, but something was very wrong. His stomach felt tight, and sore as hell. There was something over his mouth and nose, just like after the surgery…

His eyes flew open in panic, desperately searching the room.

Oh God…

He remembered everything, from the talk that quickly spiralled out of control into a fight, followed by his brother throwing the punch and turning his back on him. He remembered stumbling into Bobby's kitchen, desperate for help and unable to ask for it; the pain so bad he couldn't speak.

Oh God, Dean no!

His brother probably knew everything by now, and was likely banging his head against the wall, worrying and guilting himself to death. Like Dean didn't have enough on his shoulders.

But that's me, I guess. Wonder why he bothers hanging round me. I've been nothing but a burden to him since the day I was born.

The collision with the semi came as a mixed blessing for Sam. He'd lost consciousness in the chopper, and came to in Recovery with a worried looking guy in a white coat staring down at him.

"Wha…?"

"Shhh. Just relax. You needed surgery, but everything's ok now."

Doped up on masses of pain killers, Sam discharged himself AMA hours later and went in search of his family.

In the drama, and subsequent tragedy that unfolded later, Sam had almost forgotten about his stitches during the tumultuous wave of grief.

He never really had to hide the surgical wound, mainly because no one was all that concerned about him, not with the critical state Dean was in. After all, Sam was alive, conscious, fully dressed and standing on his own two feet. Nothing to worry about, right?

Right…

Until, that is, he pissed off his older brother to the point where Dean lashed out and hit him, bursting the neat line of stitches.

Sam might have expected a blow to the face, and it certainly wouldn't have been the first time, but to the gut? That sure was unusual. And unfortunate.

Sighing and shifting in his bed, Sam cast his gaze around but slowly this time, taking in the silent TV fixed to the opposite wall, and then the various IV lines snaking their way into his arms.

Suddenly feeling exhausted, Sam let his eyes drift closed again, warm darkness lifting him up and carrying him off.

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Dean tapped gently on the open door, but as he'd suspected, his little brother was in a deep sleep. Gaze shifting, staring at the oxygen mask, the way Sam's arm was wrapped protectively over his stomach, and listening to the gentle beep beep beep of one of the monitors, Dean swallowed hard, shuffled awkwardly across the room and took a seat on the edge of the bed.

"Sammy, I'm here now, ok kiddo? You don't have to hide it no more."

Holding on to one pale, cool hand, Dean sat and waited for his little brother to wake up.

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Sam came awake once again, but this time sensed someone was in the room with him. The oxygen mask was gone, replaced by an irritating nasal tube.

With a tiny, pathetic moan, he wrenched his eyes open, and gasped in shock to find his brother sitting beside him on the bed.

Concerned green eyes searched his face, and Sam just blinked up at him in confusion.

Slowly licking his lips, and grimacing at the dry, rough texture, Sam attempted to communicate.

"D'n?" His throat was as dry as his mouth, it seemed, because he sounded like a damn frog!

Dean studied him sadly, and reached out to the nightstand.

"Here," he whispered, roughly. "This should help."

But Sam could tell he was offering a damn sight more than just ice chips. And Sam accepted it all, gratefully.

The ice melted on his tongue and trickled down his gullet, cooling the raw surface. He cleared his throat, and tried again.

"Dean? You ok, dude?"

Dean's expression turned from soft concern to incredulous in an instant, and his mouth fell open in shock.

"Am I…? Sammy…!" Dean loomed over his little brother, noting the eyes widening with fear and felt immediate remorse. Why wouldn't Sam be scared? After what Dean had done to him, the kid had every right. He leaned back again, and stood up from the bed. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare ya… Sammy, I never meant to hurt you!"

It was an involuntary reaction and Sam didn't mean to do it, but with his stomach sore, re-stitched and bound up with, like, a ton of bandages, he couldn't help the small flinch when his brother leaned over him. Heart breaking at the sorrow in Dean's voice, Sam regretted it, and reached out, grasping at one of his brother's hands before he could walk away.

"Dean… don't go." Sam whispered, eyes brimming with tears. "Please…"

Dean sniffed, the look on his face one of sheer misery and heartache, his own tears spilling over wet eyelashes.

"You shoulda told me, Sam." Dean's voice cracked with emotion, a rare glimpse of the vulnerable Dean that lived underneath the everyday bravado. "You shoulda told me you had cancer…"

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After the semi hit, various tests were performed on Sam whilst he was unconscious, revealing a small stomach tumour that had ruptured, bleeding dangerously into his gut. They'd not only stopped the bleeding, but caught the tumour and surgically removed it, possibly just in time before it metastasized. No further treatment was deemed necessary at that stage, just plenty of bed rest.

Which didn't happen.

"How could you keep that from me, Sammy?" Dean's broken voice brought him back to the present.

The doctor had checked back over Sam's notes, forwarded from the same hospital that cared for all three Winchesters on the run up to their father's death, and revealed all this to a thoroughly shocked Dean and Bobby, just hours ago. The blow to Sam's gut had not only reopened the wound, but also caused a major internal bleed to delicate, healing tissue. The surgeons managed to close it off before he lost too much blood, and Sam was receiving blood transfusions and IV nutrients to compensate for the loss.

"I know, believe me I know," Sam wiped his tears away with a sleeve, and squeezed his brother's hand before letting go. "But you had so much to deal with, and I nearly lost you in the crash. It just never seemed like the right time…Dean, I'm so sorry."

Sam covered his face with both hands, choking and gasping on the sobs that tore through him, his gut wound throbbing in time with the involuntary movement.

Strong, warm arms were suddenly wrapped round him, holding him tight, soft words murmuring comfort in his ear

I'm not leaving, little bro, m'not going anywhere without you.

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It tore him apart to realize he'd never even noticed how fragile Sam had been after the crash, and it also made him mad as hell that his little brother hadn't attended any follow up consultations, to check his stitches for infection and make sure the cancer didn't come back.

That all changed.

In fact, pretty much over night, everything changed.

Dean accompanied Sam to his regular checkups, made sure he knew all the facts, the signs to watch out for and, most notably, he talked to Sam. And not just about the new surgical wound.

The older brother recognized the need to keep the lines of communication open with Sammy, just in case. If something went wrong, or the cancer did re-emerge, it was important Sam felt secure enough to talk about it. The slightest grimace of pain lead to a ruthless interrogation, until Sam fessed up and admitted he needed help.

Dean made it his job to point out, on a regular basis, that Sam was most definitely not a burden. Bobby kept to the sidelines, letting the brothers' support each other in more ways than one, but stood ready to catch either one of them should they fall.

Sam wasn't one to rest on his laurels for long, however, and soon grew tetchy. He started finding hunts, and pestering his big brother about them, but Dean was adamant.

No more hunts, until Sam was clear and officially in remission.

But given that would take at least five years, Sam, sneaky little shit that he was, had a plan.

It was amazing what those puppy dog eyes could achieve…

The End.

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Authors Notes:

I know I've taken some real medical liberties with this one, so please take with a pinch of salt… pardon the pun. I just couldn't stand the thought of Sammy losing all that wonderful hair to chemo, so I engineered his treatment into a fic of complete nonsense. Hope you enjoyed it!

Kind regards,

ST xxx