Overlooking the Obvious

Dean was behind the wheel even though his ribs were killing him because he couldn't trust Sam with his baby just yet. All right, it hadn't really been Sam that backed her into the dumpster, but it had looked like Sam and Dean was just going to be irrational right now because he hurt.

"Jeez, Dean, how come you couldn't figure out that wasn't me?"

"I knew something was different, Sam, I just thought…I dunno, maybe you were feeling good or something, you know?"

"No, I don't know."

"Like you weren't, oh, I don't know, stressing about the end of the world and Lucifer for once. You were just gonna have a good time, enjoy life."

Dean should have known it wasn't Sam when he said "You're a good guy." Because, yeah, Sam didn't say that anymore.

For just a few hours it had almost been like that sweet spot of time when they'd been hunting and looking for Dad -- Sam hadn't been exactly happy but they'd made a good team and had some good moments. And yeah, that kid – Gary – was being entirely too agreeable which should have completely tipped Dean off – but he'd wanted to believe him and Sam could go back to being like that so he'd ignored what his gut was telling him. Which was really pretty stupid for a hunter and he deserved the ass-kicking the demon bitch had given him.

"I'm sorry. I got fooled." It wouldn't have been possible, once, but now …

Sam bitched right until Dean pulled over in the lot of Happy Times Motel. God, if he got out to get the room Dean knew he'd never get back in the car to drive to the parking lot. Fortunately Sam had been too busy whining to notice Dean's inadvertent hiss every time the wheels had hit a bump.

"Get us a room, Sam." He pulled in front of the office door. Sam gave him a dirty look but unwound himself from shotgun and trudged through the rain to the door. Ten minutes later he returned with a key.

"Room 135. On the left."

Dean grunted acknowledgment and pulled around. Getting out after four hours of driving was just as much fun as he'd figured it would be. Fortunately Sam had grabbed his bag and gone in ahead.

He tried to take a deep breath to steady himself but that was a really bad idea. Some broken ribs for sure. With a wince he grabbed his duffel and followed Sam into the dimly lit, completely unmemorable space.

"Gonna shower."

Behind the safety of the bathroom door, Dean looked at the mess the bitch's boots had made of his chest. He kept his game face on for Sam, but now he hunched over and squeezed his eyes shut against the pain of pulling his tee-shirt over his head. Son of a bitch. Wish he'd thought to grab the Tylenol from the first aid kit.

The force of the water from the showerhead felt like a club so he cut getting cleaned up short. Struggling to put on his clean shirt, Dean thought about asking Sam for help taping his ribs but what was the point? Once Sam would have figured out Dean'd been hurt and would've pestered Dean to let him take care of it.

He'd do what he could when Sam took his shower.

Of course trying to get the tape around his own back when every movement of his arms cascaded searing pain through him made it impossible to do any kind of effective bandaging.

"Fuck." He shuffled over to the bag again, grabbed four Tylenol and swallowed them sans water, then gingerly eased himself onto the well-worn mattress. It was impossible to achieve any kind of comfortable position, so he settled for lying on his side with his knees drawn up and bundling the bedspread into a mock pillow to wrap his arms around tucked to his chest. He was facing away from the other bed and the bathroom door, so with any luck Sam wouldn't notice how Dean was curled up.

The muffled swearing from the bathroom barely registered as Dean focused on ignoring how the sheet weighed two hundred pounds where it touched his side.

Light from the bathroom fell into the room as Sam came fussing out.

"Dean! I have bruises all over my buttocks! What the hell happened?"

Dean bit his lip. Shallow breaths.

"Don't know, dude. Poltergeist threw you against a wall in the basement."

"Yeah, well, that explains why my shoulders are sore. But I've got, like, twenty or thirty black and blue marks on my ass, for chrissake! All separate, like I got hit by something a bunch of times."

"Yeah, well, call your friend Gary and ask him what he did with your body while he was playing with it. I sure don't … know." Dean tried to cover up the catch in his voice as a arrow of pain went shooting through him.

He tuned out Sam's mutters and wished he thought to take a couple swigs from his flask before he'd crawled into bed. No way was he gonna get up and get it now … Maybe he could ask Sam to hand it to him …

"Dean."

He jerked at being startled by Sam's voice right behind him and couldn't stop the moan that burst out.

"Fuck, Sam!" he swore when he could breath again.

"You're hurt. From the way you're laying I'm guessing ribs. The poltergeist?" Sam's words were quiet and matter-of-fact.

"Demon bitch. She did a number on me before we got her exorcised."

"Did you take anything for it?"

"Handful of …" Another piercing throb took his ability to speak away for a moment. "… Tylenol. Couldn't get it taped right, though."

"Okay, Dean, let me help you sit up."

Sam's giant hands gently helped Dean maneuver to a sitting position, but Dean was sweating by the time he got upright.

Sam inched the tee shirt up and shook his head at the mess of tape around Dean's torso. Fussing like a mother hen while being as careful as he could, Sam redid the wrapping.

As he finished he said, "You know, Dean, you just had to ask me for help."

He said it without thinking. "Wouldn'ta had to ask, once, Sammy."

Although his eyes were closed, Dean could feel Sam's shoulders slump.

"Yeah, and once you would have known that wasn't me in two minutes, max." It was said with resignation, not accusing.

Sam helped Dean back to a lying-down position and carefully tented the covers over his battered ribs.

Dean listened to the rustle of the sheets as Sam settled in his own bed.

"Thanks, Sammy."

Silence. Then, "We'll fix it, Dean. Us. I promise. Work with me?"

"Yeah, Sammy. We will. G'night." And while Dean's ribs still ached like a bitch, the pain in his heart was a little bit better.