A/N: So my muse was so thrilled with the response to my last story that she banged this out in gratitude. It's part of the Gloria 'verse but doesn't actually involve Gloria. It's just a little tag, picking up with the boys almost immediately after they ditch from the hospital at the end of Drawing A Blank. I'd recommend you read that first but I suppose it's not absolutely neccesary.
I hope you all enjoy :)
"Dean, I can make it to the motel room myself. I don't need you to hold me up."
Sam pointedly shifted so that he was holding more of his own weight but Dean could tell that the complaining was more out of a sense of little brother duty or trying not to worry him too much, rather than an actual desire to walk unaided, and truthfully, Dean wasn't sure Sam could make it to the room by himself and he had the feeling that Sam wasn't sure either.
"Just humour me, okay?" he said lightly, "Don't want you tripping over your own feet and doing your head any more damage."
"M' head's fine," Sam muttered distractedly, looking as though he was concentrating hard on walking in a straight line.
Dean ignored the obvious errors in that statement. Had he not been feeling so lenient he would have pointed out that 'fine' didn't include having more than a dozen stitches in your scalp, or recently having surgery to stop your brain from drowning itself in blood, and how long exactly does it take for a fractured skull to heal, Sam?
But Sam looked tired, hadn't stopped looking tired since Dean had found him in the hospital, and there were creases around his eyes that were a dead give-away of a headache, so Dean was willing to cut him some slack.
He wished they could have stayed longer at the hospital, let Sam get mashed on those high-class painkillers until the doctors deemed him fit for discharge and sent them on their way with a prescription for some almost-as-good drugs. Dean and his supply of pilfered Codeine felt like a piss-poor replacement for round the clock professional medical care, but when you're wanted for some pretty serious crimes – regardless of whether you're actually guilty or not – it's not a good idea to stay in one place for too long, especially when the police had Sam on their radar as the victim of a supposed mugging and would have been sure to want to talk to him once they found out his memories had returned.
Dean was jolted from his musings as Sam stumbled beside him and he had to tighten his grip on the kids arm and make a quick grab for the back of his sweatshirt to stop him from tumbling forward.
"Whoa, careful. What'd I just say?" he scolded gently as Sam sagged against him, dropping his head on Dean's shoulder. Kid must have felt worse than he'd thought.
"Sorry," Sam muttered into Dean's jacket, "Dizzy... it'll pass in a minute..."
"You get dizzy a lot now?" Dean asked. He carefully manoeuvred Sam the remaining few feet to their door and let him stay propped against him as he searched one-handed for the key card.
"Mm," Sam mumbled non-committally, "First few days I couldn't stop throwing up, I was so dizzy. It's mostly stopped now. I think... think I've just been moving around too much."
Dean bit his tongue to refrain from pointing out that the only moving Sam had done has been from hospital to car and just now from car to motel room, and unlocked the door so they could step inside before Sam full on collapsed in the parking lot.
"Well, try not to puke in here 'cause I'm not cleaning it up for you," he said instead.
Sam gave him a wonky scowl as Dean lowered him onto the bed furthest from the door. "Be nice, I'm injured."
"I am being nice," Dean countered, "I haven't called you Frankenstein or baldy or anything so far."
The scowl dropped as Sam tentatively reached up a hand to touch the shaved patch of hair behind his ear. "How bad is it?" he asked hesitantly, "There weren't mirrors at the hospital. I haven't seen..."
"You don't want to," Dean shuddered, eyeing the angry row of stitches and trying not to imagine a bunch of surgeons poking around inside his brother's head. Then he noticed Sam looked upset and made an effort to pull himself back together. He rolled his eyes, mentally shaking the image out as he did. "Don't be a girl about it, Samantha, your hair will grow back in a few weeks. You're not even missing that much."
"You'd never stop complaining about it if you had half your head shaved," Sam muttered petulantly.
"Don't be so dramatic, it's just the side of your head. Maybe we should take this opportunity to get rid of the rest of that mop," Dean grinned.
Sam pulled a bitch-face, which turned into a wince and the hand probing his stitches moved to cradle his forehead. Dean's grin faded.
Dean cursed himself as he rooted around in his duffel for the painkillers. He should have got them out as soon as they arrived. He knew Sam was hurting when they were still in the car.
He located the container and tipped three of the small white pills into his palm before going to the sink in the barely-existent kitchenette to fill a glass of water. When he turned back to the bed, Sam was hunched over, elbows on his knees with both hands firmly fixed to his head.
Again, Dean found himself wishing for a different life that didn't involve ditching hospitals weeks after surgery. Hell, he just wished their life didn't involve things cracking Sam's head open in the first place.
"Here." He crouched in front of his little brother and nudged the glass into his hand. He was about to pass over the pills when Sam's fingers went slack and the glass dropped to the floor with a soft thud, splashing water over Dean's shirt and jeans.
Sam's head jerked up and Dean noticed his eyes looked dazed. He blinked at the spilt liquid spreading over the carpet.
"Sorry... I – It's getting better..." he stumbled, "It's just... when I'm tired-"
"Don't worry 'bout it." Dean forced flippancy into his voice, as if it didn't worry him at all that Sam was having trouble holding a cup. "Hang on a moment."
He went and refilled the glass, using the moment of separation to slow his suddenly racing heart. Sam was okay. Still had a lot of recovery time ahead of him, but he was okay. The doctors had said so. Dean wouldn't have taken him out of the hospital otherwise, not even if the damn FBI itself had come looking for them.
"I'm okay, D'n. Really," Sam muttered when he returned with more water, as if the little psychic knew exactly what he'd been thinking. Dean pretended he didn't hear the slur over his name and pressed the cup into Sam's grasp, covering Sam's hand with his own.
"I know, Sammy. You're just tired. Been a long day." He raised the pills to Sam's lips. "Open up, kiddo."
Sam gazed at him blearily for a moment, as if he was unsure on whether he was being patronized or not, but eventually opened his mouth to allow Dean to push the pills in. He also let Dean guide the glass of water to his lips and obediently drank when Dean tilted it.
"There," Dean said, placing the cup on the night stand, "Give them a few minutes to kick in and you'll feel much better."
Sam nodded vaguely, his eyelids drooping. Dean rolled his eyes in amused affection. "Okay, it's late. Or early, depending on how you look at it. Time for sleep."
He didn't wait for Sam's response before he started tugging the kid's arms out of his sweatshirt.
"Not two years old, D'n," Sam complained, but let Dean manhandle him anyway.
"No, but you're exhausted," Dean countered, carefully pulling the sweatshirt over Sam's head and tossing it aside. "Lie down," he instructed, applying the slightest pressure to Sam's shoulder.
Sam tipped sideways onto the bed and watched through half-closed eyes as Dean tugged his shoes off and tucked the blanket over him.
"'M sorry I forgot you."
Dean snorted, glancing at Sam's murky eyes. "I think I can forgive you, given the circumstances."
"I would've missed you... if I'd remembered to," Sam murmured sleepily.
"I know, kiddo. It's okay."
"'M glad you found me."
"Go to sleep, Sammy," Dean smiled. Kid always did have a tendency to ramble when tired or drugged.
Sam's face smoothed out a moment later, the creases around his eyes vanishing as his breathing evened out.
Dean watched for a moment before moving to his own bed, snagging the remote and switching the TV on, turning the sound down low. He didn't plan on sleeping. Not tonight.
Dean cast a long grateful glance at his slumbering brother and felt the world slot back into place. It had been so disjointed with Sam gone, dark and wrong and, damn it, like dying in slow motion.
"I'm glad I found you too, Sammy," he murmured affectionately.
Sam's supposedly sleeping face broke into a drowsy grin. "No chick flick moments, D'n," he mumbled.
Dean rolled his eyes at the ceiling. Cheeky bitch.