"Hello Dean." Dean flailed with a start; he hadn't seen or sensed Castiel's arrival. Bobby slept soundly on the other bed and Dean sat on the floor, back against Sam's bed.

"Cas." Dean raised his head, too stiff to move. A disheveled and rumpled Castiel stood before him, Dean's eyes widened. "You look like shit."

"Your parting words to me were you would only call for me in life or death situations. I came as quickly as I could."

"Sam's been shot." Dean wondered just what Cas had been in the middle of when he'd heard Dean's call. Obviously, whatever it had been, he hadn't been able to leave immediately and by the looks of him, he'd left there and come directly to Dean.

"Is he alright?" Castiel stepped closer to the bed. "Did you beat him up?" Cas looked up at. "Dean, he looks terrible."

"You think?" Dean bit out with heavy sarcasm. "So? Can you help?"

Castiel laid fingers on Sam's forehead. His touch was brief but Sam still felt it, reacted to it by turning his face towards Cas with a soft moan.

"Cas." Dean blinked in confusion. The swelling around the stitches in his shoulder was gone and the skin around them was no longer red and puffy, but the gunshot wound remained. The bruising along his forehead and his swollen nose remained. Dean eased a hand under Sam's head, feeling for the stitches. Giving Cas a dirty look, he got to his feet and gently took hold of Sam's arm. He un-wrapped the bandage to reveal the blistered burn. "Cas! What the hell! Heal him!"

"I did." Castiel insisted, looking bewildered. "I….did"

"WHAT? No, you didn't!" Dean got off the bed to stand face to face with the angel. "Look at him! What the hell Cas?"

"I don't know." Castiel's expression was stunned, he tried his healing touch a second time, then turned to Dean perplxed. "I cannot heal him."

"What the hell are you talking about? Why not?"

"Dean, I can't explain this." he tried a third time with no further results. He ducked his head. "I should be able…"

"Dean." Bobby grabbed his arm. "Dean, look, see his forehead? Where he hit his head when he fell? Look, that wound is gone. Those shoulder stitches look like you put them in weeks ago, the surrounding skin is healed but the wound itself remains."

Dean looked from Sam to Bobby, back to Sam and up at Castiel. He turned to pace, but his way was blocked by two beds and two men, neither of whom gave way to let him pass.

"Cas?" Bobby let the word hang like a question. "Um, you still have your powers, right? The ability to heal?"

"Yes. I'm not….not helping him Bobby."

"Can you think of any reason why you can't heal him? Or, rather, why you can't heal all his injuries?"

"All?" Castiel repeated. "How many does he have?"

"Several, all required since Tuesday." Bobby said more calmly then he felt. "The latest happened earlier tonight, he was shot outside. Strange thing is, there's no bullet, you can see the gunshot wound, but…."

"Those injuries should have healed." Castiel searched his extensive knowledge on all of creation and came up with nothing. He'd never before come across this particular situation.

"What the hell does that mean?" Dean demanded. He tried to follow what Cas was saying as he absorbed the fact there was no immediate help for his brother.

"It means, I do not know why I cannot help Sam." his hand flashed; he grabbed Dean's wrist and with a motion so fast neither Dean nor Bobby knew what he was doing, slit Dean's wrist with his angel blade so deep, blood spurted purple.

"Jesus CAS!" Bobby yelled. "You trying to kill him?" he grabbed a towel and made a lunge for Dean who stood staring at Castiel who had yet to let go.

Castiel gave Bobby a wounded look and with one touch, the wound was gone, and no trace of blood remained. "I wanted to prove to you I can still heal. I need you to believe me when I say I want to help Sam and I do not know why I can't." he let go of Dean. "I would never try to kill Dean Bobby."

"Find another way that don't gimme a heart attack." Bobby muttered. "Well, guess it's the ER then."

"If you give me a moment, I will seek answers from an angel with more knowledge."

"A you moment or an us moment?" Dean asked but Cas was gone and back before Dean could turn to Bobby and ask what they should do next. "So, a you moment then."

"Dean, I cannot heal Sam's injuries because they are not his." Castiel announced. "He has been marked and a connection was made that needs to be broken."

"A connection? What kind of connection?" Bobby asked. "A curse? A hex? A spell?"

"It is a creature known to my kind as a Spaige." Castiel said solemnly. "They aren't mortal and come from another realm. They have never before been known to walk earth. Their females can take human female form. She is here to mate and marks her next mate with a touch, once marked, a connection is made. Our guess is she marked Sam but when she tried to follow, she found him hidden from her. She moved on to her next mate, or victim, but the connection to Sam is still solid. Anything she does to incapacitate her mark will affect Sam."

"Come again? A what?" Bobby's face contorted as he searched his memory for lore or information on an entity he had never before heard of. "Never heard of anything even close in all my years Cas."

"I too, have never heard of this creature. I have much to learn before I can help Sam." Castiel spread his hands in a plea for patience and understanding. "I do not know how she got here, how to get rid of her, or how to break the connection. I am asking you to grant me the time I need to find out."

"And what are we supposed to do in the meantime?" Dean growled. "How much time?"

"Lose the tone Dean, I'm trying to help you." Castiel turned to Bobby. "I am not at fault here."

"We know Cas, but Sam is only getting worse, what if she kills her next mate? Does that mean Sam dies as well? If he does, can you bring him back?" Bobby spoke with a calmness he didn't feel.

"I do not yet know the answers to your questions. My colleague is researching as I stand here with you. He will call me as soon as he has answers."

"Then go help him." Bobby said tiredly. "Sam's holding his own. The pain meds are keeping him quiet, he'll be ok for a bit." he wasn't overly worried about Sam, it was Dean he was going to have his hands full with.

"I will return." Castiel gave Dean a lingering look and was gone.

"Let's clean up, then you get some sleep 'til Cas returns. I'll watch Sam." Bobby's tone brooked not argument.


It was over three hours before Castiel returned with more information. Bobby had dozed off on the sofa and Dean slept uneasily on his bed next to Sam's.

"I have all the information we need." Castiel announced. "We must find her and break the connection."

"You already said that!" Dean groused, slowly waking up. "And that better not be all you got."

"So, how do we break the connection? How do we find who she is? Do we have to find every man she has hurt in order to help Sam?" Bobby sat down next to Dean on his bed, feeling every one of his years in age. Why the brothers? Why did trouble, trouble that could find anyone on earth, always manage to find his boys? They'd been at a movie, not hunting, not searching, not actively involved in any case and yet here they were, once again victims of some cruel fate that simply refused to leave them alone.

"We kill her and the connection will be broken or she mates with Sam and the connection will be broken. I will search for her and try my utmost to eliminate her."

"Does she kill her, um, mate?" Bobby asked warily, eyes coming to rest on Dean who sat with his back against the headboard, hugging his drawn knees. "And why human males?"

"He may die from his injuries."

"What the fuck?" Dean scowled, still sleepy-eyed. "So she marks her victim, why?"

"To mate."

"I ask again, why is she mating with human males?" Bobby asked wearily. "And like, how does she do it? Please tell me she didn't have the opportunity to mate with Sam and there may be spaige/Sam spawn out there."

"She mates like any other female. He probably turned her down and she meant to pursue him but couldn't. We don't know how she got here but we are assuming she needs to reproduce and needs a male to do it. What we don't know is why she chose human males."

"Well, Christ, how many mates does she need?" Bobby asked incredulously. "And when she does mate? Then what?"

"Until she finds the perfect one." Cas replied. "And we don't know. I can't heal him of any injury she inflicts on another mark as long as she lives. Even when the connection is broken, there is no guarantee I can heal any of the injuries."

"Oh! Come! On!" Dean growled. "Are you fucking kidding me? I have to hunt down some she-bitch and either kill her or let her have sex with Sam, hope she doesn't kill him and pray you can heal him? Seriously? Why us? I mean, come on! When does shit like this stop? We were on vacation Cas! We went to the movies for Christ Sake! How the hell did we get mixed up with some whore in heat from another realm you've never heard of?"

"What happens if whoever received the actual injury that Sam suffers….dies?" Bobby moved over to sit next to Sam, fingering his hair out of his eyes to peer closely at the healed cut over his eye. Some bruising remained across his brow, mostly from his nose. He tried to determine if the amount of blood Sam had lost had been too much. He was pale, pasty really, and his breathing was shallow. prompting Bobby to feel for a pulse.

"I don't know." Castiel admitted. "I am fairly certain once that she is dead I will be able to heal Sam."

"Fairly? Huh." Bobby grunted. "How soon? To find and kill her? I'm guessing a hospital won't do him much good. He can receive a transfusion but if she strikes again at another mark then…"

"I believe she will come if she knows where to find him."

"Can you kill her?" Bobby asked. "I don't recommend we wait long Cas, another injury and this boy is gonna need blood. Either we get him to a hospital or….." he paused. "And I don't even want to consider what could happen to him next."

"I cannot smite her, she is immune to me. She is not out to kill her marks, she simply wants to mate with them and if they aren't willing, she….subdues them." Castiel turned to Dean. "Do you have any idea where Sam may have met her? She would look like any human female and would have needed the opportunity to touch him."

"We were here in town Tuesday night and that is when everything started. We were at the movies but I never saw Sam with any woman. He did go for popcorn, so maybe in line at the counter?"

"Then she is still here. She's still connected to Sam and is probably confused why she can't find him."

"And she can't why?" Bobby prodded.

"The Enochian symbols."

"Okay, how do we kill her?" Dean asked. Castiel was silent for several seconds, as if searching for the answer in his mind or waiting for someone to send it to him.

"Easily." he announced, voice laced with relief. "Wooden stake through the heart and she will turn to dust like a vampire in your movies."

"Easily." Dean repeated with a wry laugh. "Sure, and let me guess, she's strong and fast and possesses strength superior to the human male. And if she touches me, I could be marked as her next victim, great, just freaking great. I suppose not just any wood will do either, has to be some special nearly extinct tree from the depths of some jungle that is in danger from the environment. I mean, really, Cas, who comes up with this shit?"

"You are discouraged." Castiel observed. "I am sorry."

"The wood stake Cas, where do I get one?" Dean bit out.

"Pine tree, any pine wood will do. I shall go and see if there is any way for me to track her. I will return and I will bring a pine stake with me when I do."

"Better bring more than one." Bobby advised. "And if you can't find a way to locate her?"

"Then we use Sam as bait. I will remove the symbols and she will come directly to where he is."

Dean thumped his head against the wall. What had seemed like a simple solution to the problem suddenly didn't sound so simple any more. He sure as hell didn't feel strong enough, physically or emotionally to fight some creature with strength superior to his own. Why, for once, couldn't the solution be as simple as Cas being able to find the bitch all on his own and smiting her?

"And you believe killing her will break this psychic connection to Sam? Then either you'll be able to heal him, or treatment by a doctor will." Bobby was saying.

"That is the assumption, yes." and Cas was gone. Dean let himself slump to his side and pulled the blanket over his head.


Sam stirred, hearing distant and distorted voices but unable to discern whose they were. He shifted his weight off his left shoulder, starting to ease on to his right side, stopping when he bumped against something unyielding.

"Sam?" not Dean's voice. "Sam? You with us?" someone was sitting on his bed.

"Sammy?" he heard movement, the bed dipped on the other side and a hand reached out to lay a cold compress on his shoulder. Huh, his whole arm ached, oh, the burn still throbbed and the back of his shoulder still hurt, but now his chest hurt down to his armpit. Since when did armpits hurt? How was that even possible? He cracked one eye open to blink the familiar setting of a motel room into focus.

Right, the hospital, the pharmacy, checking into a hotel rather than driving back to the cabin and apparently, he was he in bed with both Dean and Bobby? When had Bobby gotten here? Why?

Great, another reason for Dean to be pissed, yet another thing to yell at him about. As if getting sick, passing out, hurting his back and shoulder and burning his arm and nearly breaking his nose and cracking the back of his head open and needing stitches and pissing and puking blood were things he'd done on purpose. He certainly hadn't shot himself. No way could Dean find a way to blame him for that.

"Mmmm…." he licked at dry lips, craving moisture. "Dean?" he looked up at Bobby. "Hey Bobby."

"Good to see you boy." Bobby greeted gruffly. "How you doing?"

"Not so good. Dean, my chest hurts…."

"Yeah, gunshot."

"Oh, so that did happen. Great." he wanted something to drink. "Um, any coke?"

"Coke? Not ginger ale? Course not." Dean sighed. "I'll have to go get it."

"I got it." Bobby said. "Dean, you want anything? You really should eat something."

"Time is it?" Sam asked rubbing his eyes tiredly with his right hand, the only arm that would obey his commands. Damn, but he didn't feel good. He wasn't in any extreme pain, but it was underlying, promising to blow up in his face, but for the time being it was manageable.

"Dunno." Dean shrugged. "Late."

"Dawn." Bobby corrected. "Don't suppose you're hungry Sam?"

"No." he grimaced. He was thirsty. "Just…a coke…please?"

"I'm goin'." Bobby got to his feet and felt for a fever. "Want you to take a couple Tylenol with your coke, ok?"

"Um-hum." whatever, he didn't care.

Bobby returned with a bottle of coke from the vending machine then left the brothers alone to venture out and find breakfast. Once he'd left for the second time, Dean helped Sam sit up so he could drink the coke on his own.

"Cas was here." Dean said. "Do you recall meeting a woman Tuesday? Maybe at the movie theatre?"

"No." he shook his head. "Wait…maybe. I….there was a girl in line….I was getting you popcorn. She was kinda forward, but…no." he shook his head. "It was nothing."

"This is our life Sam, when is nothing ever nothing?"

"Huh." his head was too heavy to hold up, his eyes didn't want to stay open and it was just too much effort to carry on a conversation he wouldn't remember anyway. "So….it bad?"

"Nothing we can't handle. Cas is out trying to find her now."

"And you aren't with him, why?"

"I'm going soon as he finds her. I need to get some sleep first."

"Dean." his hand shook and Dean rescued the glass before he could drop it.

"Yeah….okay…get some sleep." Dean sighed as Sam's hand groped for the trash can. "Or not."

When Bobby returned an hour later, Sam was on his stomach hanging off the side of the bed, alternating between bouts of dry heaving and spitting up blood. Dean sat beside him, Sam's left arm stretched out across his lap. Dean looked up when Bobby came through the door, eyes shot with red-webs.

"How long?" Bobby asked setting the bags on the dresser.

"Hour or so."

"Any word from Cas?"

"No." he stretched, wincing as his back cracked. "Shit."

"You get any sleep?"

"Got enough."

"He still running a fever? Guessing he didn't keep the Tylenol down."

"He's warm. Cramping a bit, nothing to severe yet."

"Do you want me to go with Cas?"

"Fight some other world creature an angel can't kill?" Dean picked up Sam's hand. "Look at his fingers, they're all swollen, off-colored, infection is setting in, in his arm." he blinked, eyes burned dry with fatigue. "Only way to help him is to kill her."

"Can bring the fight to us." Bobby offered, no more waiting to use Sam as bait than Dean did.

"And if we can't stop her?"

"We will." Castiel was behind Bobby, three wood stakes in his hands. "I've found her." he handed Bobby a stake. "Just in case she somehow finds him here."

"Cas, take care of him." Bobby told the angel. "And hurry your ass back here, Sam ain't doing so good."

Dean eased away from Sam. "Bobby…."

"I won't leave him." Bobby promised. "He'll be fine Dean, go take care of her."

"This'll teach me to take a vacation." Dean pulled on his boots, then his jacket and took a stake from Castiel. "Ok Cas, let's go."


If Bobby had ever learned anything in his life, it was that he did not have the same way with Sam that Dean did. He'd first met the boys as kids, Sam young enough to still be sucking his thumb. He'd met John first, had befriended the man without even knowing he had two young sons he dragged all across the country with him. He'd accepted John into his life, telling himself it was because the two men shared the grief of losing their wives to the evil world of the unnatural.

But Bobby knew better, it was the two pairs of eyes that lit up when they saw him and ran to him for hugs as soon as the car came to a stop. It was the two energetic boys that ran pell-mell through his house and chased one another across his salvage yard, laughing with unrestrained glee. It was their contentment to remain with him when their father dropped them off and left without saying how long he'd be gone.

It was the fact Dean would sleep through the night while at his house and Sam claimed the lowest shelf on the bookcase as his own. He'd come to know them as well as their own father had: Dean loved beef, Sam preferred chicken. Dean wanted vanilla ice cream and Sam chose chocolate. Dean would rather watch a movie and Sam would rather read a book. Dean tolerated school, Sam loved it. If Bobby wanted Sam to do something, all he had to do was get Dean to do it first. If there was ever only one of something, both offered to share with the other. The list went on, Bobby learned their likes and dislikes, the differences between the two, the similarities they shared.

On the rare occasion one or the other had been ill enough medical treatment had been needed, John had either stayed with them or sent them to stay with Bobby or Pastor Jim. There'd been tonsillitis with Sam and mono with Dean, both had had strep, chicken pox, measles, the flu and various colds. Once or twice, pneumonia had been a scare with them both but had been averted, much to the relief of them all.

There'd been times when John had left the boys with a babysitter and Bobby had never quite felt comfortable about that. Leaving them alone with what basically amounted to a stranger was neither a safe nor wise thing to do. Bobby himself had put a stop to that the night he'd gotten a phone call from a hysterical Sam. Bobby had ended up driving an entire day to retrieve them, had ended up in a fist fight upon arrival and had to flee before the police were called. His second fist fight had been with John. Bobby would rather the boys be alone in a motel then with someone they couldn't trust or get away from. Bobby would do anything for them, would kill for them, would die for them.

And now, here he stood, cursing as he stood next to the bed and stared at Sam with disgruntled annoyance. When Dean had been with him, he'd lain on his stomach and vomited into the trash can. But not now, oh hell no, now he squirmed and rolled and twisted and curled up, as if trying to find a position that was comfortable. Granted, Sam hadn't been battling what Bobby guessed to be a 103 degree fever while Dean had been there but even so, nothing Bobby did or said seemed to get through to him.

Sam didn't want to drink, wouldn't take medicine, and refused to lay still. The moment Bobby moved from the bed, Sam was sitting up and pushing the blankets off his legs. He obeyed obediently enough when Bobby shushed him and guided him down onto his back, relaxing under the firm hold and sinking into the comforting depths of the mattress but minutes later, he began muttering he had to find Dean and help him; nothing Bobby said convinced him to stay in bed and let Castiel watch Dean's back.

Bobby tried getting him to swallow Tylenol, staying away from the pain meds since he tended to promptly throw up whatever he swallowed, but Sam pressed his lips together and turned his face away. Other than a sip or two of coke, Bobby failed to get Sam to swallow anything. Dehydration was a strong concern and while Bobby certainly knew what to do to prevent it, he wasn't successful convincing Sam to see things his way. Keeping the kid in bed while his mind was on a one track mission to get to his brother was hard enough without having to deal with cramps in addition to the pain and probable delirium.

"Sam, enough." Bobby pushed him back down, having to use considerably more force this time. "I don't even know where Dean is, you'll never find him." he was careful not to grab or jar the kid's injured arm. All he needed was to drive him into unrelenting bouts of heaving from the pain that would cause. "Now. Stop. It."

"You…shudda…went.. with…him." Sam swallowed hard, biting his tongue to keep from groaning, god, but he did not feel good. "You…let…..him….go…alone." despite the pain, the weariness, the fog and the fever, he still managed to make the statement sound like an accusation. His eyes were squeezed shut so tightly his forehead was furrowed.

"No, no Sam, I didn't. He's with Cas." he was worried about Dean as well. The man was an emotional wreck who was in no condition to fight a creature an angel couldn't kill. Bobby wondered if the Spaige managed to inflict any kind of injury on Dean if Cas would be able to help him. They were going on the assumption he could heal Sam once she was dead but there were no guarantees that he could. "I need you to drink for me, okay? Got you some juice, wanna try that?"

"No." he plopped his head down onto the pillow, laying the back of his arm over his eyes.

"Work with me Sam." Bobby pleaded. "I ain't taking no for an answer, juice or water or coke, gonna be something." he paused. "Cas will bring him back and when he does there is a possibility he might not be ok. He doesn't need to get back and find you're worse. He doesn't need that Sam. All I'm asking you to do is drink."

Sam gave a slight shake of his head but when Bobby put a glass to his lips, he raised his head slightly enough to take the straw between his teeth. The soda was warm and he made a face, he preferred it cold and had Dean been there, it would have been.

"Okay, good, that's it, don't gotta drink a lot, sips are ok, just gonna be often then. We get you keeping liquids down, we can try Tylenol, get to work on that fever."

"I…..I'm not…really….thirsty." Sam winced. Might be stress, might be the fever, might be a reaction to pain, he might be dehydrated, whatever, but he had one hell of a headache. "Bob..by?"

"Yeah, Sam, what is it?" Tylenol, in Bobby's opinion was the best over the counter medication to bring down a fever but he couldn't get Sam to take any. Sam would glance at the two white pills in his palm, curl his lip in distaste and turn away.

"My head hurts." he massaged his forehead, eyes closed.

"Yeah, bet it does. You're running a fever, if you'd take something for it and drink some more, might help ease it, ok? Then you can try and get some sleep." Bobby held Tylenol in his palm once again.

"They're…white." Sam mumbled, blinking.

"So?" Bobby didn't understand. "No, huh? Okay….we'll do it your way, but…gonna be a long day kid."


Sam remained restless, asking Bobby every ten minutes; what time was it, had Dean called, could they go look for him, where was he, when would he be back and so on until Bobby's teeth ached and his hair hurt. The day dragged on and it was after midnight when Castiel finally appeared with Dean. Sam slept through their arrival, exhaustion had won the battle and he didn't stir when Cas dumped Dean to collapse on his bed with a grunt.

"Well?" Bobby demanded. "Success?"

"She is dead." Castiel announced leaving Dean and going over to Sam.

"At what cost?" Bobby didn't get up, Dean appeared to be in one piece if somewhat bruised and currently doubled up on the bed.

"Dean will be fine." Castiel said. "I would have to find the actual people who received the injuries to heal Sam but I can stop the infection from spreading and he will lose no more blood. His pain and discomfort will lessen and he will fully recover. You will need to make the decision whether or not to take him to the hospital if you feel he requires more. I must go. I need to find out who brought her here and why." and he was gone.

"Dean?" Bobby questioned. "You ok?"

"Just..need…a…night." he gulped. "Bitch fought dirty. He give you any problems?" his voice was weak, his words slow, spoken with obvious effort.

"I ain't never volunteering to baby-sit him again." Bobby grumbled. "Won't stay in bed, won't shut up, won't eat, doesn't want water or juice or coke or Tylenol. I figured the fever was a result of an infection, so started him on the antibiotics. So far, he's doing ok."

"Wait 'til tomorrow, might be better to back off the pain meds." he groaned, rolling over to curl up on his side. "Pain meds and antibiotics...not a good combo...for him."

"Dean?" Sam responded to the familiar grunt of pain, easing up on his elbow to look over at the other bed and echo Bobby's earlier question. "You ok?"

"Fine." came the muffled reply. "Long as you aren't looking to be an uncle anytime soon, I'm good."

Bobby decided that was an issue he could well leave alone. Dean needed sleep and come morning, he'd be fine. Bobby wanted Dean to talk about the fight and explain what had happened but Dean didn't even stir to undress or tend the few cuts he sported on his arm, neck and cheek. Bobby approached the bed with the intention of seeing if the bleeding cuts were superficial or serious but he was snarled at so he backed away. A man in that kind of pain was best left alone.

"Okay, ok, I'll leave you alone, but Dean, about Sam…"

"Just give him ibuprofen or aspirin." Dean muttered. "He…doesn't…..really…like Tylenol…ugh….god damn."

"Since when?" Bobby muttered to himself, kid always took Tylenol before without a fuss. "Dean, he's not drinking enough, ok, yeah, he hasn't cramped up so you could say he's not dehydrating but his pulse is weak and fast, he lost a lot of blood and Cas didn't replace it…"

"He'll…drink…iffin..it's…cold." Dean fisted the sheets in his hands, stretching out slightly.

"That's not his only problem."

"The same problem…remains." Dean carefully rolled onto his stomach, gained his hand and knees, then sat back on his heels. "How the hell do I explain a gunshot? Not like we can hide it. They will find it Bobby, they aren't just going to give him a transfusion without a complete examination first to find out why he needs it."

"If you don't…" Bobby took a second look at Dean's haggard appearance. "So, what then? Stay here until he can travel? Then go back to my place? Get him blood, he'll be up and around in a week or so, you don't, then plan on him being down for a month or better."

"Better down then in jail." he went head first into the pillow, teetered for a second, then went down on his side. He stifled the urge to clasp his hands between his legs, it was an instinctive reaction and would do no good. "You, uh, think we should take him in?"

"I think it's the wise thing to do, I guess….I dunno….how much more you wanna put him through? And how long you willing to do it?" Bobby sighed, Dean wasn't paying him any attention.

Dean didn't want to get up, hell, he didn't want to move but if Bobby thought it best Sam go to the ER, then he'd wrestle his stomach back into its proper place, choke down the bile that would push up his throat were he to be vertical and spend the night being verbally berated by the doctor and pray for Cas to return before the authorities arrested either of them.

He waited to hear the words, 'let's go' or 'get up', waited for Bobby to take him by the shoulder and shake him. He lay curled into a tight ball on his side, feeling sick from the fight that had kicked his ass and from the rapid way Cas traveled. She hadn't been easy to take down and he had more than one painful bruise to show for it. He just needed a few minutes to regroup, surely Bobby could give him that much, it couldn't be too much to ask for.

"No." Sam struggled to sit up, slapping Bobby away when he moved to help. "I'm…ok…I'll be ok…" he wanted to hold his head but he couldn't raise his left arm without crying and he needed his right arm to support his weight as he gained an upright position. He finally collapsed with his back against the headboard, wiping the sweat from his lip. "Bobby, no…I'm ok here….no need to go anywhere."

"Now Sam…" Bobby began. "You don't want Tylenol, fine, you don't have to take it. Guess it's either aspirin or ibuprofen and kid, let me tell you, with the amount of blood you've lost and the blood you're still pissing, you shouldn't be taking no aspirin."

"I don't care about Tylenol." Sam whispered, palm splayed across his forehead. "Don't take me in, do what you have to, tell me what I need to do, I'll take the stupid Tylenol if that's what you want, but Bobby don't make me put him through that." he pulled his knees up to support his left arm. "I don't want to do that to him."

"Sam, you ain't doin' so good, you can't possibly feel anywhere near ok."

"Bobby, just… let me do this for him, okay? Please? Don't make me do that to him, I'll get through this, I will. He always puts me first and….and….this is something I can do for him, so you gotta let me, okay? Please? Let me be the one to suffer this time. He always does, always has for me, and…not this time, okay?" his eyes bled emotion and begged for understanding. "Let me do this for him."

"Damn you Sam." Bobby muttered, pulling his hat off and running a hand through his hair in defeat. "It's not ok, you're not ok. You're too damn stubborn for your own good. Nothing good will come of you sacrificing yourself for his benefit. It never does." he put his hat back on. "And don't be lookin' at me like that either." he stole a sideways glance at Dean. "Crap! Ok, fine, fine, we'll do it your way, you ain't gonna like it, but fine, you listen to me, you do as I say, you suck it up and you deal with it, you hearin' me? If at any time you take a dive, or I feel you ain't doing better, like you should be doin', it's straight to the nearest ER, you got me?"

"Yes." he whispered, glancing over at Dean. Sam wasn't kidding himself, he knew the next month or so wasn't going to be easy but it would be better than Dean worrying about the possibility of the feds once again being on their ass. "Soon as he's ready, we'll go to your house."

"Sure." Bobby snorted. "Soon as he's ready, yeah right, kid. He'll be up and around come morning, you're gonna be the reason we stay here another couple days. Look he's out, he ain't moving 'til he wants breakfast, so get some sleep. We'll make plans tomorrow."

"Thanks Bobby." Sam felt better about his decision but couldn't help but wonder if it was the right one. Dean probably wouldn't agree if he found out Sam was going the self-sacrifice route for his benefit so Sam would just have to make certain Dean never found out. "Bobby, don't...don't tell him, he won't agree, you know he won't."

"Don't you worry none about it. Now take these and lay down. I'll handle him."

The pills Bobby held out were orange, but even had they been white, Sam would have taken them. Refusing the first thing Bobby asked him to do wouldn't go very far in convincing Bobby he'd be true to his word and obey him.

"You sure he's ok? I mean, no injuries…?"

"None serious."

Sam swallowed the ibuprofen and laid down. He would get through this. The threat was gone, Bobby was with them, Cas was a prayer away and they'd dealt with worse. Soon as Dean suggested leaving and going back to Bobby's, Sam would grit his teeth, pop pain meds and go without comment. Dean had enough to deal with, Sam would be damned if he were the cause of adding anything more.

Dean heard Sam and Bobby talking, could tell by the timbre of Sam's voice he was pleading with Bobby to get his way. That couldn't be a good thing, it meant whatever Sam wanted, Dean wouldn't agree with. He considered forcing himself to rouse and confront whatever was going on but the need to take one night for himself coupled with his trust in Bobby had him submitting to exhaustion. He decided moving wasn't worth the effort he was sure it would require.

Bobby laid down on the sofa and counted the ways he labeled himself a damn fool. Sam needed a hospital. It was all fine and dandy that the infection wouldn't spread or get worse but he had no idea what the infection resulted from. The burn or the gunshot? Did it matter? And just because Cas had said he had stopped the spread of the infection didn't mean the infection couldn't get worse. The fever was reason for concern, it meant confusion and dehydration and Sam wasn't exactly being a cooperative, obedient patient.

The pain meds and antibiotics had been prescribed before the gunshot and additional blood loss. There was no way to know without seeing a doctor if they were still beneficial to him or had been rendered useless. And the loss of blood? The fact he was still at risk to lose more? He could easily pop the hastily set stitches in his shoulder and he still had stitches in the back of his head. They still didn't know for sure the blood he had vomited was a result of the unexplained nosebleed. The doctor had told Dean his best guess the blood in the urine was a result of several blows to the kidneys and should clear up on its own. Sam hadn't wanted further testing and Dean had listened to him rather than the doctor.

Dean would be on his feet come dawn and Bobby would have a fight on his hands. Dean would see that Sam was worse and find out he had talked Bobby out of going to the ER. He would insist on taking him in, Sam would refuse, plead silently with Bobby to back him up and Dean would once again be in the middle.

Bobyy sighed and swigged from his bottle.

If Dean ever so much as began to utter the first syllable of the word 'vacation' again, Bobby would knock him out. The brothers got into less trouble when they were actually hunting! He dozed off for awhile, waking when he heard movement from across the room. He knew instantly who it was, wondered if parents had the same intuition when one of their kids was sick or hurt. He didn't get up right away, waiting to see if Sam would settle down on his own or if Dean would hear him and get up. Sam knew Dean was back, knew he was asleep on the bed next to his own, knew he was ok so his prior determination to get up and go find his brother couldn't be his problem now.

"Sam?" Bobby questioned sleepily. "No." he sat up even as he spoke. "Go back to sleep." he found his cell to look at the time. Nearly 5 a.m., almost dawn.

Sam stirred uneasily, willing his stomach to settle as warmth flushed through his body, making him dizzy while lying flat on his back with his eyes closed. Why could he not just find a comfortable position where one part or another of his bruised body didn't hurt? If only he could wish the left side of his body away or at least his left arm and shoulder. He heard Bobby call to him and somewhere in his befuddled mind, he knew all was suppose to be good.

But it wasn't, he wasn't.

He must be running a fever, he was hot and raised a hand to push his hair off his forehead but his fingers were slick and his palm wet and his hand slid from his face, falling to lay on the pillow next to his aching head. God his head hurt, it hurt and ibuprofen wasn't touching it. No position was comfortable, none offered him any respite, the pillow was too high, the mattress too hard, the blankets too confining. He was hot and he was dizzy and he felt sick and he was hot. His arm, his head, his shoulder, his back, his nose, and aww hell! He sniffed in a shaky breath, catching the whimper.

"Sam?" Bobby called again. "Settle down. You're ok." with the amount of pain Sam was in, Bobby questioned Dean's decision to back off the pain meds, but as well as Bobby knew Sam, Dean knew him better. Perhaps Sam was able to handle pain on his own but couldn't fight infection. Maybe Dean knew which medication affected Sam the worst.

Sam wasn't settling down, his restlessness increased and he was fighting the blankets. His breathing was labored with an occasional moan or sound of distress that told Bobby his hopes of Sam settling down on his own were not going to be granted. He got up, turning on the desk light.

"I've got him." Dean said tiredly. Bobby hadn't heard or seen him get up, but there he was, sitting on Sam's bed, backs of his hands rubbing his eyes. "Man Sam, what the hell is it with you and dawn?" he yawned, five hours of sleep hadn't been enough. His body ached, a result of sleeping in a tense ball. He'd yet to relax or ease the tension from his coiled muscles, hopefully a hot shower would solve that problem. "Sam? Hey."

Sam attempted to find reality, to find the here and now and force his attention to grasp what should be obvious to him. His eyes opened, glassy and wide, found Dean and squinted.

"Who're you?" he slurred with a quizzical frown. He didn't feel alarmed, knew he should recognize the man sitting on his bed yet couldn't place him. Wasn't his dad, didn't think it was anyone he knew, didn't think he'd ever seen him before.

"Dean." Dean said, one eyebrow arching. "You're brother." sure, he hadn't shaved in a couple days, and his hair was swept several opposite ways but even so, he should be recognizable to his own brother.

"Huh." Sam let his eyes close. Didn't look like the brother he knew, didn't sound like him either but his instincts were not warning him of danger. He felt safe and unafraid and if this man said he was Dean, then Sam was ok with that. "Weird."

"Jesus Bobby, how high's his fever?" Dean demanded, turning to look over his shoulder at Bobby.

"Hell if I know, didn't come packing a thermometer you ass." Bobby sat down on Dean's bed. "Since when doesn't he take Tylenol? Mighta mentioned that before you left him with me. I couldn't get him to take anything until you got back so the fever had practically all day yesterday to take hold."

"Oh, yeah, Tylenol." Dean cracked his jaw. He could really use some coffee. "Dunno, been a couple years, just go with ibuprofen." he looked down as Sam's hand landed in his lap, fingers grasping the denim near his knee. "What the…."

"Dean?" Sam was shaking. "I…don't….feel…good."

"What the hell are you doing? Jesus Sam, move over." Dean had yet to gather himself, still shaking off the effects of the previous nights fight. He needed a hot shower, pot of coffee, maybe something to eat and a few moments to tend the stinging cuts on his neck and cheek.

"Dean." Bobby's calm voice called Dean's attention to him. "Fever. God knows what's going through his mind, have some patience."

"I need coffee, some aspirin…" Dean could feel Sam trembling against his hip. "He's burning up."

"Yeah, about that, how you doin? We get him settled, and you can take a shower while I go get us some breakfast." Bobby turned to Sam. "Gotta get him to take….. hell, I hate giving him so much ibuprofen, but if it's what he'll take..….." Bobby paused. "You pulling him off the pain meds? Antibiotics might help with the fever. Course, the doctor prescribed both before the gunshot, don't know if either will help him much now."

"Aspirin." Dean reached to take hold of Sam's left arm. The fingers were still swollen and tinged purple and Sam didn't much like having his arm touched. He pulled away from Dean with a whine.

"For you?" Bobby questioned.

"Did you just whine?" Dean stared down at his brother. "Sam, really, I…."

"Get him to take these, and no aspirin, kid's bled out enough…." Bobby handed Dean the pills with a cold glass of ginger ale he'd taken from the fridge. "You can have aspirin if you want it though."

"Sam, hey, hi…..you with me? Take these ok?"

Sam lifted his head, prepared to take whatever Dean wanted him to take until he saw the liquid in the glass. He made a face and turned away.

"Now what?" Dean asked with a sigh. He'd be in a much more patient mood to deal with Sam after he'd showered and eaten. "Sam, come on!"

"It's cold." Bobby said quickly. "Took it right outta the fridge."

"Can't…I…have the purple?"

"What?" Dean asked stupidly. "Purple what? Sam, you…"

"Purple juice, it's grape….tastes better."

Dean's jaw dropped, he may be tired, may feel wiped out from lack of sleep and may be still be feeling the effects of a night spent curled up in a tense ball of discomfort, but there was certainly nothing wrong with his memory. Sam had stopped drinking grape flavored juices when he'd been seven. He'd had the measles and had been sick for over a week. All he had wanted was grape kool-aid, grape popsicles and grape flavor-ice. He'd ended up making himself sick on everything grape and hadn't been able to stomach the flavor since. Dean also remembered how sick Sam had been. John had stayed with them and when they'd been that young and within a matters of days, Sam had passed the contagious illness to Dean. Saddled with two sick kids, one of whom only wanted his brother who was no longer able to amuse him, John had headed straight to Bobby's.

"Dean." Bobby said slowly. "How old was he when he stopped drinking anything grape?"

"Seven, when he had the measles."

"Seven, when he wouldn't let you out of his sight. I gotta tell you, he wasn't happy you were gone last night either."

"Yeah." he rolled his shoulders, resigned to the fact he would have to see to Sam before he could tend to his own wants. "Okay, ok Sam, you win, take these pills and I'll go get you some grape kool-aid, deal?"

Sam's look plainly told Dean what he thought about that idea, but he eased up on one elbow and held his left hand out for the pills. He stared at his fingers in confusion, raising his head to ask Dean with his eyes what was wrong with his hand.

"Um, yeah, you….here, just take these, you're ok." Dean coaxed Sam's attention from his hand and popped the pills into his mouth when he parted his lips to take them. "Small sips, that's it… tastes pretty good huh?"

"No." Sam pulled away and flopped down onto his back. "We leaving?"

"No, you can sleep." Dean glanced up at Bobby who approached the bed to lay a palm against Sam's forehead.

"Yeah, I'd say he's running a fever."

"Hey Bobby." Sam let his eyes flicker open and flutter closed.

"Hey kid, get some sleep. Dean, how you feeling?"

"Shower, coffee, breakfast, that order."

"Been thinking maybe you outta call that doctor that treated him earlier, say the antibiotics don't seem to be working, maybe get something stronger. You ain't gotta tell him Sam was shot."

"Or I could just suck it up and take him in. Ok, fine, let me shower, get something to eat and then I'll call the hospital, see what they say."

"What do you want? I'll go out and get it, omelet?"

"Guess, large coffee."

"Gonna feed him?"

"Not now."


Dean went to take his shower and Bobby left to get breakfast. Not even water as hot as he could stand it eased all the tension. All Dean had wanted was a week to himself. Now, Sam was down, they'd be at Bobby's where there'd be no avoiding the next threat to the world that loomed on the horizon and though he admitted it only to himself, Dean was wiped out.

He didn't hurry in the bathroom, in fact, he tarried. He expected Sam to be asleep when he finally emerged from the bathroom, thought Bobby would have returned but Sam was alone, his eyes open and focused. That could only mean the pain meds Bobby had given him were working to dull the pain but weren't strong enough to knock him out, Sam was able to fight their pull and Dean wasn't happy about that..

"Hey, thought you'd be asleep." Dean draped the towel he'd used to dry his hair around his neck. He'd call the hospital soon as Bobby returned and ask for some stronger pain meds. "Stop fighting the meds Sam."

"You ok?" Sam asked quietly, the pain meds had kicked in but he'd pushed aside his own misery to focus however briefly on Dean. He knew he wouldn't be awake long, it had taken a lot of strength and determination to fight his way awake. He blamed the fever.

"Me? Yeah, I'm fine."

"I'm sorry." he pushed his hair off his forehead, he tried moving his left arm but found he couldn't. "Mmmm."

"For what?" Dean didn't like Sam hissing over moving his arm, and made a mental note to ask the doctor if ice would in anyway help ease some of the pain and swelling.

"This, all this, ruining your trip, causing all this trouble, making Bobby drive all the way out here….just….."

"How is any of this your fault? Someone brought that bitch here, whether she chose you at random or had you in her sights doesn't matter, she never should have been here."

"But you…."

"Sammy…come on…..you think I somehow blame you?"

"I'm the one who…"

"What? Who what? It's over, she's dead. Soon as you can travel, we'll go to Bobby's and don't give me any shit about going to a hospital. If you need a doctor, I'll take you to one, you got that? I'll find a way to deal with it."

"I don't need….."

"You might, we'll see how you feel when you try to get up, blood loss, fever and dehydration is a lot to overcome and let's face it, you didn't have a good week."

"Sorry, don't mean to be a pain in the ass."

"Just try to be a better patient for Bobby, ok? Can you do that much? Drove the poor guy nuts yesterday." what the hell was keeping Bobby anyway? They wouldn't be going anywhere for at least a week which meant they would need more money then Dean had. Paying cash for the prescriptions kept suspicions down but were expensive and it looked like Sam would be needing more.

"K." his moment of lucidity gone, his eyes closed and Dean went to get dressed.

If the Spaige was the beginning of what was to come, they needed to be prepared, Dean doubted he would have been able to kill her without Cas's help. He'd never faced anything like it before and it was fast becoming obvious, the days of hunting solo were over. He'd taken great satisfaction ending the life of the creature who had inflicted such pain on his brother. No one and nothing did that and lived to tell the tale. Not ever. He needed Sam back on his feet so they could face whatever waited out there in the coming fight together, cause all they ever really had to rely on was each other.