"Here you go, Sammy," Dean said as cheerfully as he could manage, setting the grilled cheese on the table, mentally checking things off as he watched Sam chow down on the sandwich. There went the last of the bread and cheese, and they were already out of milk. They needed groceries, and badly. Dean sighed as Sammy ate, trying to decide what to do. He didn't want to leave Sam alone, but he didn't think that dragging his brother around after dark was the best idea either, and they didn't have anything for breakfast or lunch tomorrow. He finally made his decision.
"I'm going out to get some groceries," he said, standing up and rechecking salt lines as he spoke.
"Am I coming?" Sammy asked, and Dean shook his head.
"Just me, Sammy. You can stay here and watch TV, okay?" He went over every protection sigil he knew, drawing them lightly in pencil on the door.
"Okay Sammy, you can't let anyone in, right?"
"Right," Sam replied seriously. "My turn to pick the password?"
"Your turn," Dean agreed.
"Okay. You gotta say the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle song." Dean rolled his eyes.
"Which part, Sam?" He asked dejectedly, and Sam frowned, wrinkling up his forehead as if deep in thought.
"Splinter taught them to be ninja teens," he answered finally. "And you have to say 'he's a radical rat!' That's my favorite part." Dean hid his smile.
"Okay, Sammy. Don't let me in unless I say that."
"Alright. I'll be back soon, okay?"
"Okay, Dean." Dean turned to leave when Sam's voice stopped him. "Dean!"
Dean smiled. "I will." He walked out of the room, painfully aware of how inadequate his too-short and too-thin jacket was against the frigid night air. Walking faster, he hurried across the street and down the two blocks to the small mini-mart that he had been frequenting lately.
"Back again, little man?" the cashier asked from behind the counter. Dean nodded uncomfortably, not liking the fact that he had been here often enough in the past two weeks that he was being recognized. He quickly counted out his money and a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a gallon of milk. Heading to the counter, he set everything down and pushed his money towards the clerk.
"Looks like some good food, little man. How's that little brother of yours?"
"He's fine," Dean grunted defensively, hoping that he was making it clear that he didn't feel like talking. Apparently it worked.
"Here's your change," the man said finally, shoving two quarters back to Dean. Dean's eyes widened, and he grinned.
"Really?" He asked, certain that he hadn't had any left over.
"Really," the clerk responded. Dean hesitated a second before picking a Snickers bar up and handing it to him. Sam would be thrilled.
"Have a good night," the man said as Dean collected the bag of groceries and stuffed the candy bar in his pocket. Dean paused.
"You too," he said finally before stepping outside. It seemed to have gotten even colder in the few moments he'd been inside, and Dean set himself a brisk pace, making good time as he neared the hotel. He stepped into the street quickly, glad that there didn't appear to be any traffic.
The car came out of nowhere. It didn't really fully hit him, but it clipped his left side and spun him around, sending him down into the ground hard. He grunted as the bag of groceries exploded and all of the air was driven out of his lungs, his side and leg becoming a solid mass of pain. The car drove off without stopping, leaving Dean lying face down on the concrete, trying to gather enough strength to push himself up. The milk had busted open and was trickling along the street, and the bread was scattered around him. Choking back a sob, Dean put a hand out to lever himself up and was startled when he felt the jar of peanut butter. With a groan, he pushed himself up and clutched the jar to his chest, looking blearily at his surroundings.
Taking a deep breath, he took a step and his left knee buckled immediately. Dean let out a yell of pain and tried to inspect the injured limb in the limited light, but all he could tell for sure was that it was already starting to swell. Dean blinked away tears as he once again managed to stand, this time balancing precariously on his right leg. Damn but it hurt! He limped a few feet forward, still holding onto the jar of peanut butter desperately, but soon had to stop, breath coming in heaving gasps that bordered dangerously on sobs.
It took him half an hour to make it the block back to the hotel, and by the time he got there, he couldn't hold the cries in any longer. Sinking onto a bench just outside the main office, he let himself cry for a solid five minutes, thin shoulders shaking, before roughly wiping the tears away and limping to the door of their room. He knocked and leaned heavily against the door.
"Password!" Sam's voice piped up, and Dean struggled not to groan. It was something to do with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…
"Donatello," he said, an he heard Sammy giggle.
"No, try again!"
"When the evil Shredder attacks, those turtle boys don't cut him no slack." His head was pounding and his whole body ached, and it was getting dangerously hard to think.
"No. Are you okay, Dean?" Sam's voice sounded concerned.
"Umm. Fine, Sammy." He paused for a minute and tried to gather his thoughts. "Splinter taught them…um, Splinter…"
"Taught them to be ninja teens," Sam answered, and the door unlocked. Dean nearly fell with it when it swung inward, and Sam looked at him worriedly. "Dean?"
"I'm okay Sammy," Dean said, taking deep breaths to stave off the light-headedness that was threatening to bring him to his knees.
"Did you bring some good food?" Sam asked as Dean tried to hide his limp. Dean all but collapsed onto the bed.
"Umm, I got some peanut butter," he answered, trying to ignore the way Sam's face fell. He suddenly remembered the candy bar and felt in his pocket. "And I got this." He withdrew his hand, holding out the slightly crushed Snickers.
"Snickers!" Sammy shouted. "We never get these!" He eagerly ripped the package open and broke the candy in half, holding one side out to Dean. Dean's stomach churned. There was no way he was eating anything right now.
"It's okay, Sammy, I already had one." He was too tired to even feel bad about the lie. Sam nodded and tore happily into the chocolate, giggling when the caramel stuck to his lips in strings.
"Sammy, I'm gonna take a bath, okay?" Dean said, needing to get away from his brother and somewhere he could look after his injuries. Sam stopped dead, his mouth open and brow furrowed.
"A bath? Only girls take baths, Dean." He looked absolutely horrified. Dean couldn't help but laugh, then try to hide the wince that came with it.
"Guess I'm a girl tonight, Sammy. You should probably go to bed. Why don't you brush your teeth before I get in, okay?" Sam nodded, looking at him suspiciously out of the corner of his eyes. When Sam disappeared into the bathroom, he allowed himself to fall onto his back, letting out a startled yelp when pain shot up his side. What the hell? Sammy's head appeared around the door.
"What was that?"
"N-nothing," Dean answered, trying not to sound as shaky as he felt. Sammy did not appear appeased. "I, uh, just stubbed my toe."
"Are you okay, Dean? You're acting funny," Sam said uncertainly, and Dean could tell that he was genuinely worried.
"Really, I'm fine Sammy," he repeated. "Just a little tired." And sore. And hungry. He managed to get himself off the bed without yelling in pain, but it was slow going and difficult, and the few feet to the bathroom seemed to take forever. He knew his limp was showing, badly, and the area in his side that had flared up earlier was clamoring for attention.
"Yeah Sammy?" Dean asked wearily as he finally made it into the bathroom and collapsed onto the toilet.
"I'm scared." Dean sighed and closed his eyes. Of course Sammy was scared. He'd been having nightmares the past few days, and had usually ended up cuddled against Dean. He wouldn't want to sleep alone.
"Look, why don't you get in bed and turn off the lights, and I'll leave the door to the bathroom open. How's that?" There was a pause, and Dean could picture his little brother biting his lip uncertainly.
"Okay, Dean." The light switched off and Dean could hear Sammy crawling under the covers. He took a deep breath and eased his pants off, hissing quietly as they touched his swollen knee, then managed to get them past it. He winced as he took in the badly bruised joint, black and blue and purple, painful to the touch. He then eased his shirt up, nearly screaming when his side flared up so badly that it stole his breath away. Instinctively, Dean's hand flew to the spot and he gasped when his fingers brushed something.
Glass. He had a piece of glass sticking out of his side. Swiveling, Dean tried in vain to see it, tried to feel out where it was again. Finally, he started the bath water running and turned on the fan, then grabbed the cleanest washcloth he could find and tucked it between his teeth. Hopefully it would be enough to hide from Sam. He took a deep breath and grasped the glass as best he could, yanking quickly and screaming for all he was worth, the sound muffled. Tears leaking from his eyes, he felt the warm blood trickling from the wound and quickly sat over the tub so that it wouldn't make a mess on the floor.
"Dean?" Sam asked, and Dean swallowed the sob that was threatening to erupt.
"Y-yeah?" He wasn't sure how big the wound was, but he needed to wash it out, and he couldn't see it. It seemed like getting in the bath was the best thing to do, but he wasn't sure. What would Dad do?
"What's that song you sing sometimes?" Dean gently lowered himself into the tub, tears coursing down his cheeks as every single bruise on his battered body made itself known.
"What song?" He managed to gasp, head swimming. Stay calm, Dean. You're okay.
"Hey D-dude?" Dean repeated, fuzzily trying to discern his little brother's question.
"You sing it sometimes, in the dark. When Daddy isn't here." It clicked suddenly, and Dean wanted to cry even more than before.
"Hey Jude," he said quietly. "You mean Hey Jude."
"Yeah, that one," Sammy said. "Where'd you learn it? Daddy's never singed it."
"Umm," Dean said, biting his lip as another wave of pain washed over him. The bath didn't seem to be helping all that much, and the water was tinged red. It was disconcerting.
"Mom used to sing it to me." There was silence from his little brother, and Dean allowed his eyes to slide shut.
"Can you sing it, Dean?" Damn it. Dean could barely keep himself awake…
"I'm not feeling very good, Sammy," he said, but closed his eyes when he heard Sam sniffle.
"I just- I miss her," Sammy said quietly, and Dean sighed.
"Okay, Sammy. You need to go to sleep, okay? Promise if I sing you'll go to sleep."
"I promise, Dean." Dean took a shaky breath, blinking tears from his eyes, and started singing.
Five minutes later, he could hear Sam's soft snores, and decided that it was time for him to get out. It was rough going, and by the end he was sobbing quietly, towel wrapped gingerly around his waist as he gripped the counter and tried not to pass out. He took a bandage and held it in place over the wound on his side as best he could, then wrapped tape around it. Finishing that, he gingerly pulled his shirt over his head, slowly pulled his boxers on, and retrieved an ice pack from the freezer. Lying down, he held the ice pack on his knee, and cried quietly, tears streaming down his face and dampening his pillow. And in the darkness, mingling with the sound of quiet snores and muffled sobs, the lyrics to 'Hey Jude' floated on the air.