Broken legs and Sick brothers
"I need a sign to let me know you're here…
I won't give up if you don't give up"
Train - Calling All Angels
Many thanks goes out to Supernaturalmydreams,
for this suggestion in her review of the last chapter.
She's right. Very appropriate.
"You sure this is gonna work?" Dean eyed the ingredients a little sceptically.
Bobby's head snapped up, and unleashed the full force of the Singer glare.
"No, I ain't sure. You got any better ideas?" An eyebrow was rising slowly in irritation, so Dean wisely shut his mouth, just kept a tight hold of his brother's hand, and stayed out of the way.
In the end it was nothing short of unimpressive. Just a small blue flame, some shitty smelling herbs, an incantation – Dean was fairly convinced he'd heard it before, probably on Star Trek, 'cause it sounded like Klingon – and Bobby's work was done.
"That's it?" Dean's gaze swivelled between Bobby and the smouldering kidney dish on the rollaway table. "No flashes of bright light, explosions..."
"Ain't no freakin' 4th of July boy," Bobby huffed out.
"Is for me," Dean dropped the smartass routine for a moment, murmuring quietly "if it works."
Bobby relented with a sad smile.
"That, I just don't know, kid." The older guy scratched the back of his neck, and blew out a breath. "Couldn't find any actual evidence it worked in the past, but then, no one ever said it didn't either."
Dean rolled his eyes.
"That's just freakin' great!" he began pacing, slowly and with difficulty, swearing when his cast got in the way, and muttering under his breath, though Bobby could hear just fine. "For all we know it could turn him into a... a... a pig or somethin'. Or..."
"If we're talkin' animals, somehow I don't think Sam would be the brother that turns into a pig," Bobby smirked.
Dean paused in his pacing and sent forth a furious scowl, which was water off a duck's back to Bobby Singer, who merely shrugged.
"Ha. Funny." Dean resumed the pacing. "If it does turn him into a pig," his right arm shot out, index finger pointing accusingly at Bobby. "You're cleaning up the mess!"
The rest of the night was spent watching, waiting, playing poker, Dean cheating at poker, Dean getting his ass kicked by Bobby for said cheating. Sam's doctor dropped by every now and then, but declared there was no change in the youngster's condition. Nurses came and went, taking notes, checking monitors, changing IV bags, but by the early hours of the morning Sam still showed no sign of improvement.
"Dean? There's something else you should know about that spell," Bobby leaned back in his chair.
"What?" Dean snarked out. "Like, we don't know anything about that spell?"
"Smartass," the older hunter growled. "I meant about what it's supposed to do if... when it works, the after affects."
Dean frowned at that. "What do you mean?"
"It's not really a healing spell as such, more a cleansing ritual, though it does have some healing qualities." Bobby shifted a little, his old bones aching. "It'll clear out the bacteria causing the problem. But any complications Sam suffers from the illness itself, may take a while to fade."
It certainly took Sam a while to wake up.
His eyes slowly fluttered open and stared at nothing. He had no idea where the hell he was, but the smell of antiseptic suggested hospital.
A heavy blink later, and his eyes slid to the side, taking in the sight of... black.
There was something in his mouth.
Something that wound down his throat, and scared the living shit out of him.
Panic was setting up base pretty quickly. Why couldn't he move? Why was the room so dark?
Someone help me! Please?
A small measure of sanity found its way through to him, when he discovered someone was holding his hand.
That's all it took.
One weak squeeze and Dean catapulted up in his seat, groaning when his cast bounced off the edge of the bed.
"Sammy? You with us?"
His brother blinked frantically, back arching weakly off the bed in despair, small whimpers breaking loose from the vent.
"Ssshhhh, kid. Just calm down and hold still." Dean jabbed the call button at the same time as giving Bobby a sharp kick with his good foot. "Help's on the way Sam."
"Kick me like that again," Bobby growled sleepily, rubbing his leg. "And he won't be the only one needing help."
"Bobby, he's awake!"
Bobby sat up, a small grin slowly forming.
"Well, I'll be..." with a small chuckle, he slapped his knee in true hillbilly style, "...damned if it didn't work!"
Dean's eyes were suspiciously bright, smile fragile but hopeful. He grasped both Sam's hands tightly, when they scrabbled at the vent.
"Don't touch that, Sammy. Just let the doc help you."
The kid's eyes rolled wildly in their sockets, and Dean despaired he wasn't getting through.
"Calm down... Sammy look at me!"
And that was the crucial point where Dean figured out the problem. Heart sinking, he studied his brother's panicked face, fairly sure the kid could hear him.
Sam's scared eyes were wide open, and fixed on a point just over Dean's shoulder. The kid's muffled whimpers accompanied rapid blinking, and he clutched his big brother's hand in a bone crushing grip.
Dean was also fairly sure, Sam couldn't see.
Dr Gilson finished his examination, and, giving his patient's arm a gentle, comforting squeeze, stood back. The air of quiet sadness clued Sam into the obvious. He was no longer a prisoner to the vent, but he was still a captive of the darkness. Only difference now, of course, he was fully conscious.
"I'm afraid that permanent blindness is one of the many possible complications of meningitis," the doc began. "I'm so sorry Sam."
Dean's mouth fell open, and Bobby shifted uncomfortably, nudging him into silence.
"Guys?" Sam whispered, desperately. "What do we do now? Tell me? There must be something!"
Dean and Bobby refused to look at each other. If the spell worked as well as they hoped, the blindness would be anything but permanent.
"I know this isn't much consolation right now," Doc Gilson said gently. "But it could have been worse. You're still here with us, Sam. Given how late you received treatment, I'm amazed you survived at all."
No. It wasn't any consolation.
Sam couldn't help it. The tears leaked out, in spite of his battle against them, but he swallowed back the sobs, and nodded calmly, determined to keep it together. Sam just knew his brother wasn't taking this well. Probably blaming himself to hell and back.
Kid's a godammed trooper, Dean smiled sadly. This is my fault. If I hadn't been so fucking self involved, I'd have noticed something was wrong sooner.
Sam was bang on the button. He could feel the guilt floating heavily in the atmosphere.
"S'not your fault, Dean." Sam reached out, groping blindly for his brother's hand. "You couldn't have known, ok? I didn't know, and I was the one getting sick."
"No excuse, little brother," Dean answered, voice suddenly sounding like a quarry load of gravel had been poured into his throat. "I fucked up, didn't see you wearing yaself out, getting sick. And to think I once called you a selfish bastard. Guess I get to take that title home now, huh?"
He shuddered. Sure, Sam would get his sight back eventually, if the cleansing worked ok, but that didn't exonerate Dean from shirking his responsibility.
"Dean?" Sam sounded panicked, hand still reaching out to provide as well as receive comfort.
And Dean heard him. Really heard him.
Grabbing the flailing hand, Dean squeezed gently and pulled himself closer.
"It's gonna be ok, Sammy," he whispered in Sam's ear so the doc couldn't pick up on it. "We got it covered. You're getting you're sight back, kiddo."
"How?" Sam whispered back. "What did you do?" His voice was accusing, reminding Dean of their father's fate.
"No. Nothing like that."
"Let's just say, Bobby Singer has more than a few tricks up his sleeve."
Sam smiled for the first time since he woke up.
Knew I could count on you guys.
The older brother had been holding on to Sam's hand when Bobby performed the ritual, and though it wasn't famed for its healing properties per se, it nonetheless worked. A week after leaving the hospital, Dean's leg was completely healed, cast off, and not so much as a limp.
Sam's sight, however, was taking a little longer. He effectively handed his own personal well being over to Dean and Bobby, who soon rewarded such unconditional trust. Dean read to him, supplied his favourite ice cream, and actually sat down and talked. Conversation was Sam's only form of entertainment, and without it he would have gone crazy.
Dean privately speculated the temporary blindness was actually a good thing for Sam. The kid was all washed out from the meningitis and desperately needed the rest. With no sight, Sam was forced to take it easy, whether he wanted to or not, which allowed Dean to spoil his baby brother rotten.
God knows, he deserves it after all the shit I put him through.
Strangely, Dean pretty much enjoyed taking care of Sam, Bobby could see that a mile off. The grizzled hunter had some pretty private theories of his own on this, the chief one being that Dean was re-living a little of the past, of happier times, when the boys looked out for each other and John was absent for days on a hunt. Sure, guilt may have been a driving force in part, but Bobby didn't think it was the main motivator.
Dean felt needed when he took care of his little brother, something he'd obviously missed when their Pa died, and he shut himself off from Sam. But, lately, the new senior Winchester, natural care-giver and nurturer, was rediscovering his purpose and reason for living.
Damn shame it took a bout of serious illness to wake him up, Bobby reflected with a small, sad smile. Idgit kids!
Standing at the kitchen stove and preparing a light lunch, he watched the boys, eyes crinkled with fond amusement. Sam gripped Dean's left arm, and allowed his brother to guide him slowly through the house to the porch swing on the veranda. Soft words filtered through to the kitchen. Bobby's old ears couldn't make out what Dean was saying, but Sam was nodding and smiling, eyes blank but beautifully clear, a definite sign of improvement. Following his release from the hospital, the younger boy was weary, eyes glazed over with fatigue, skin so pale it was almost translucent. Dean was gradually putting his little brother back together, piece by piece, and the difference a week made was nothing less than astounding.
Dean handed Sam a pair of dark sunglasses, and grinned widely, pleased with his brother's progress. A few days ago Sam couldn't even detect light changes, but now he could sense the sun on his face.
"I know you're getting impatient," he sat down next to his brother on the porch swing, and curled Sam's hand round a cold beer bottle, "but just take it easy. You'll soon see my gorgeous face again."
"Uh, Bobby?" Sam called out. "There a way of reversing that ritual? Dean's scaring the crap outta me!"
Bobby appeared in the doorway holding a tray loaded with soup and sandwiches.
"Don't even go there, kid!"
"Hey!" Dean punched Sam lightly on the arm. "You know you can't resist the Dean!"
"Dude, I'd rather be blind," Sam directed his grin in what he thought was the relative proximity of his brother. "Surely that tells you something?"
"Wash your mouth out, bitch!" Dean responded automatically. "Many a lovely lady has fallen for this packaging, and with good reason."
"Probably couldn't believe their own eyes, Jerk!" Sam retorted, and reached out, searching for food.
"Can't believe your own eyes, whose eyes will ya believe?" Bobby muttered, and gently grabbed Sam's hand. Before the friendly bickering could start up again, he pulled a couple of envelopes out of his jacket pocket. "Forgot to give these to ya. The smaller one's ya wages from your boss, Mason, but the larger one's a get well card from all the staff at Bunny Hop. Seems they got a collection for ya."
Sam blinked and ran his fingers over the two envelopes.
"Wow," he whispered in awe, feeling the weight. "That's one hell of a collection, Bobby."
"Yeah." Bobby glanced at Dean. The older brother wasn't looking at the envelopes, but watching Sam's face closely.
"Uh…" Sam appeared to swallow hard, as though fighting back tears, then held out his hands. "Dean? Would you mind…?"
"Sure, kiddo," Dean uttered softly, then took the proffered envelopes and began tearing them open. Immediately, ten, twenty and fifty dollar bills spilled out over his lap, and he glanced up at Sam. Watery eyes stared passed him, awaiting an answer to his silent question.
A quick count revealed the total amount of cash, including Sam's wages, came to over three thousand dollars. And when Dean said it out loud, Sam gasped and swayed in his seat.
Seems ol' Mason added a little something extra there, thought Bobby with a grin.
"My God! That's way too much!" Sam started shaking his head. "We have to give it back…"
Dean seemed stunned, and blinked dazedly at the cash.
But not nearly stunned enough.
"What you talking about?" The older brother whispered hoarsely, and pushed the cash into Sammy's hands. "You earned that money fair and square. And you're gonna spend every penny of it on yourself, you hearing me?"
"Dean, no…" Sam's voice broke, the youngster finally overwhelmed by the sheer generosity of his former work colleagues.
"I mean it, Sam. You almost died because you were too busy working and looking after me, instead of taking care of yourself." Dean gently, but firmly, closed Sam's hand around the bills, and whispered softly to his little brother. "Take the loot, Sammy. You deserve it."
Sam stared ahead, unseeing eyes wet with tears, and nodded shakily.
Two months of leading Sam around like a puppy dog, acting as his eyes, and generally keeping him safe until his sight returned, Dean was finally rewarded when Sam squinted up at him one morning, and announced:
"Dude, have you gotten highlights?"
Instead of a snarky retort, Dean whooped for joy, dragged his little brother out of bed and into the kitchen to tell Bobby the good news.
Sam's sight wasn't one hundred percent. Everything was kind of blurred with little or no colour, so his brother's normally dark blonde hair appeared bleached. But with careful supervision, he could get about unaided.
Another week of progress, Sam was almost fully recovered; no longing looking so washed out and exhausted. And that was when he started making plans. With Bobby's help, people were called, bookings were made, and pretty soon Sam used up all that cash.
Which was why, sometime later, Dean and Sam found themselves on horseback and Stetsons tipped over their eyes, shielding them from the hot Texas sun. Sweat soaked shirts clung, and dust from the trail covered their chaps, but it felt good.
It felt right.
His little brother turned a dazzling smile on him, and Dean couldn't help grinning back. Sam's colour had improved drastically since coming to the Three Wolf Ranch, his skin soaking up the sun and turning a healthy shade of olive brown.
He'd also put on some much needed weight, and no longer looked like a stick insect.
"We shoulda done this years ago." Dean stared at him for a long moment before finally telling him, "Dad woulda loved it."
Sam nodded and bit his bottom lip, smile fading a little. It was the first time John Winchester had been mentioned since Sam woke up in hospital, and he was grateful to hear his brother talking about him at last.
"Yeah, he sure would."
"C'mon." Dean grinned suddenly. "Race ya back."
"Loser buys the beers in town tonight!" Sam replied, with a laugh.
Urging their horses into a canter, the two handsome young riders headed out along the trail. Speeding up into a full blown gallop, and raising large clouds of dust that spiralled up into the afternoon sky, they disappeared from view.
But, anyone listening nearby would still have heard the dual shouts of glee in perfect unison.
Here we are at the end. Hope you all enjoyed that.
For the reader who sent me the kind PM re: chapter 2, we're going to assume Dean's cast broke so easily because it was faulty. LOL!
Many thanks to Phx, who gave me the name for the Dude Ranch in reference to a certain other WIP of mine!