A/N: Well, hello there! Thanks for inviting me into your fandom. It's beautiful, I must say! So, yeah. Supernatural owns me. It's official. I am addicted to the brothers and the glorious hurt/comfort those writers keep dishing out. This is my first ever fic for this fandom and only my second one under this account so there are nerves LOL. Regardless, I hope you enjoy! Before we get into all that, however, you should know that the preview for Season 7 is up on Youtube right now. IKNOWRIGHT? OMG! Yeah, I'm a total fangirl but if you haven't seen it yet, open a new tab, find it and watch it. It looks freakin' epic. Go ahead; I'll wait.
You back? Good, wasn't it? I am psyched for September 23rd! Although, technically, it will be September 24th for me since I'll watch it a day later on the internet *gasp* because I am stuck over here in England. Being a Brit, though, means that I know nothing of towns with populations of less than a thousand in America so the town mentioned in this story was picked at random off an 'American-Towns-With-Population-Less-Than-A-Thousand' website. As always, I spell things 'Englishly' UNLESS it changes the pronounciation of a word and I use American terms for things (or try to!) so that I don't look like a complete amateur.
The medical emergency that I'm about to put Dean through (with the exception of the spirit, obviously!) is based on a true event. You gotta love family who pick their nose using the frame of their reading glasses and end up poking a hole in the nasal artery. I'm looking at you, Dad. Ridiculously long A/N over? Yes.
WARNINGS: If you don't like blood or the mention of it then leave. Like, now. Also, written with no real medical knowledge or research. Mainly what I can remember from my dad's experience so it's probably totally inaccurate!
SPOILERS: No real spoilers, but set in Season One before 'Home' and back when the boys were still getting coordinates from John.
DISCLAIMER: Kripke is King. We know.
Bloody Days and Egypt Ways
Dean was in agony.
The spirit – a surprisingly normal-looking SOB, all elbow-patch cardigans and corduroy slacks - had him pinned to the wall, one hand at his throat, the other slowly inserting a thin metal rod into his right nostril.
Where the hell are you, Sammy? Dean wanted to scream but he could feel nothing beyond intrusive agony as the spindly steel column inched further up his nose. He wriggled uselessly, terrified that one misjudged effort to escape would result in the unwavering pole heading straight into his brain.
Only somewhat relevantly, Dean recalled his father sharing some of his USMC knowledge when he was a teenager about how enough force behind a well-placed palm beneath the bridge of the nose could send the cartilage backwards into the brain and provide an instant kill.
Later, after he'd 'researched' it, Sam had told Dean that Dad's method was a bunch of crap and that there was no way cartilage in the nose could really penetrate the brain.
"At worst, you'd probably get a nasty busted nose, but no way you'd die, man," he'd said.
Screw you, Sam, Dean thought as the metal rod inched up past his septum and the creepy Egyptian Studies professor smiled gleefully. What had they been thinking, taking on a case like this?
To be fair, it had started out like any other job; the usual reports in local newspapers about people dropping dead in a museum for unexplainable reasons. That was until the autopsies of all the victims revealed that their brains had vanished. Like, honest-to-God, disappeared clean out of their skulls.
Originally, the boys had thought the killer had been Lacy Myers; a student who had died from 'brain-loss' in 1962 while studying Ancient Medicine, specifically Egyptians and their creepy-ass removal of the brain through the nose post-mortem. As it had transpired, she was merely a death echo, murdered by one Professor Greg Dyman, former owner of the museum, who had been teaching the ancient techniques in a very hands-on kind of way at his seminars.
Following his death in 1970, Dyman had been cremated but not before he could cut off some of his hair and lay it on his shrine to Isis or whatever that he'd built in the basement of the museum. The plan was supposed to go off without a hitch: find the old guy's greasy locks, salt, burn – but the museum had way more exhibits in storage than either Sam or Dean had anticipated and finding Dyman's shrine was not an easy task.
Hopefully, Sam had recovered from the professor throwing him down the basement stairs by now and was searching for the shrine because Dean was pretty sure that some time in the next two minutes, his brain was going to be sliding out of his nose like jello.
The older Winchester gagged as the rod intruded further. The pressure in his head was, quite literally, mind-blowing. His nostril burned at the rod's violation and his eyes simply ached in their sockets. These minor ailments were nothing, however, when compared to the splintering headache that Dean was sure was going to split his skull in two.
Blood leaked out of both nostrils and Dean could've sworn he felt the blood vessels bursting in his eyes. Now would be a really good time for you to show up, Sammy.
Even his thoughts felt shaky.
Dean blinked owlishly and his vision went white as the professor continued his brutal assault on Dean's face. Just when the older Winchester was sure he was going to pass out, he blearily saw Sam appear in the archway across the foyer, clutching a tiny sprinkle of feathery grey hairs.
Whether it was his psychic whatever or just plain-old brotherly instinct, Sam knew Dean was running out of time and hastily flicked the cap off his lighter and sent Professor Weird off to the next world.
Hopefully Hell, Sam thought, spitefully, as the spirit vanished with a scream and his brother sagged against the wall.
"Whoa, hey, man! You alright?" the younger Winchester asked, crossing the foyer in five strides and supporting his older brother as he slumped to the marble floor.
"Cutting it a little close there, Sammy-boy," Dean mumbled thickly, face pale in contrast to the bruises and the heavy flow of blood that was casually cascading down his face. "You okay?" he asked, gesturing towards the small cut by Sam's left temple, still rocking the protective older brother vibe even while his jaw was painted red and he had a freakin' piece of pipe sticking out of his face.
As if remembering this himself, Dean raised his shaking hands to his head and made as if to pull out the pole that was still lodged in tight.
"Do you think you should be doing that?" Sam asked nervously, catching Dean's hands before they could do anymore damage. The situation would have been almost comical if Dean didn't looked so freaked out and injured, what with the rod protruding from his skull like that.
"Pr'b'ly not," Dean replied weakly. "But it has to come out, Sam."
"Right," Sam grimaced. "Maybe I should just take you to the hospital." And his resolve was strengthened when Dean turned his head and spat out a mouthful of blood.
Dean gave his little brother a feeble push. "No way, man. You can do it or I can but it's coming out one way or 'nother."
Seeing that his brother wasn't to be swayed and recognising the urgency with which they need to leave the more-than-a-little busted up museum, Sam steeled himself. He winced as he wrapped his long fingers around the thin piece of piping and painstakingly tugged it out, surprised by just how far into his brother's skull it had gone.
Dean, for the most part, had looked like he was going to vomit for much of the process but when the rod finally came free with a vile, squelching 'pop' noise, the older Winchester grinned, blood staining his teeth, and patted Sam's shoulder.
"We've gotta get out of here, Dean," Sam urged, still debating whether to take Dean to the hospital or not. Either way, the spirit and its tussle with the Winchester brothers had caused a lot of damage to the place and they had to be out of the museum before it opened for the day.
Glancing at both his and Dean's blood-soaked palms, Sam couldn't help but feel that the expression 'caught red-handed' was more than a bit ironic.
"'Kay, 'kay. Take it slow," Dean warned as he let Sam pull him up. He swayed once and Sam grabbed him by the shoulders, seeing as how his older brother's hands were too occupied catching the torrent of blood that seemed intent on escaping his nose as fast as possible.
"Dude," Dean gave a faint chuckle, dark blood literally pooling in Dean's cupped palms in a way that scared the hell out of Sam. "You got a tampon?"
"What are you, five?" Sam asked, voice slightly shaky, as he led Dean outside and into the passenger seat of the Impala. The younger Winchester took off his shirt and handed it to Dean to use as a makeshift towel. He clambered round to the driver's side and Dean shifted so that Sam could reach into the pocket of his jacket and take the keys.
As they headed back to the motel, Sam kept stealing short glances at his older sibling, concerned by how much blood there was and the fact that it wasn't showing any sign of stopping. He carefully tried to calculate how long it would take to get the hospital at intermittent moments through the course of the drive but Dean, as usual, could see right through it.
"Forget it, Sammy. I'm not going to the ER for a freakin' nosebleed. It's just a little blood, nothin' I can't handle," he stated in that firm, big-brother way that still left Sam feeling reassured even though two years at Stanford had come between them and Dean was possibly bleeding to death beside him.
"I'll clean it up at the motel, no worries," he continued, though the tough-guy persona was somewhat ruined thanks to his voice being muffled by Sam's shirt and the blood starting to run down his arms.
"Okay, fine. We'll do it your way, Dean. But if it doesn't let up within the next half hour, you're going," Sam declared. Dean scoffed and it was a thick, choking sound, punctuated by a fresh stream of crimson.
"Whatever you say, Dad."
Eventually they made it back to the motel, Dean somehow staying conscious and even navigating his own way into their room, even though the bleeding was as fierce as ever and the little nasal assault had felt like it had brought on a migraine.
Heh. Who'd have thought? Getting stabbed in the nose giving a guy a killer headache. Wonders never cease, Dean thought, sarcastically.
The first thing he'd done was head straight for the bathroom where he'd locked the door in hopes of dealing with his leaky nose privately. Of course, what with Sam hanging around outside and frantically banging on the door every ten seconds, Dean found his illusive privacy difficult to maintain.
"Get lost, Sam!" Dean yelled after Sammy's thirteenth attempt to get in.
"Dean, if it doesn't stop within the next five minutes, I swear to God, I will bust open this door and drag you to the ER! C'mon, man, this isn't right! At least let me in! I've got the First Aid kit out here!" Sam replied, worry colouring his tone and distorting his voice.
Dean moaned quietly and gently rested his head against the corner of the bath. Dammit, just leave me alone, Sammy. He couldn't deal with his baby brother's panic right now, not when he was so afraid himself. The blood was flowing hard and fast and Dean reckoned he was well on his way to needing a transfusion. Trying to distract himself, Dean surveyed the chaotic space around him.
He was running out of toilet paper, that much he could see. Sammy's shirt had long since become saturated to the point where it was useless and, what with the bloody tissues and the smeared handprints everywhere, the small bathroom was beginning to look like a murder scene.
Suddenly, the door popped open and Dean tried to look surprised even though he knew his little brother would break out the lock-pick at some point and his reactions were a little sluggish.
"What the hell, Dean?" Sam was horrified. There was blood everywhere.
The mirror above the sink was coated with dry handprints and random scarlet streaks. The sink itself looked like someone had bent another person over it and given them a Colombian neck-tie; a phrase Dean was so fond of using. The blood shimmered almost prettily under the harsh, fluorescent lights and filled up the sink to just over halfway.
Evidently exhausted with blood loss, Dean had sunk to the floor where he now resided, blood gleaming in droplets and puddles and trails around him. Sam's shirt was sopping with the awful fluid and the toilet and bath were not excluded either, both branded with claret liquid.
"Screw this, Dean, I'm calling an ambulance," Sam informed his brother, alarmed beyond reason by the cloudiness of Dean's eyes and the ghost-like transparency to his skin.
"No, Sammy," Dean muttered, letting his eyes close but feeling for Sam's ankle and tugging him back. "I think it's letting up."
Sure enough, Dean sniffed drily and didn't feel the fresh, coppery tang of new blood slipping down his throat. He gently dabbed at his nose with a new tissue and, almost as quickly as it had begun bleeding back at the museum, the blood had faded into non-existence.
Sam crouched down and picked up the bloody rolls of toilet paper with disdain, flushing them away with ease. Then, he placed his hands on either side of Dean's blood-stained jaw and slowly rotated his head, simultaneously checking for other damage, feeling for a fever and reassuring himself that his brother wasn't going to fade away under his fingertips.
"Dude, get off," Dean mumbled but he didn't pull away.
"I still think you need to go, man. You've lost way too much blood. They can top you up with a transfusion or an IV or something," Sam pleaded desperately.
"I'll be fine, Sammy. Just gimme a couple of aspirin and I'll sleep it off," Dean replied, his voice slightly breathless which unnerved Sam even more.
"No way, man. Aspirin thins the blood. I don't think you can afford to lose anymore," Sam smiled anxiously, trying to relieve some of the tension even though he was freaking out internally. Against his better judgement, he helped Dean up and, arms around each other's shoulders, guided his brother to the nearest bed.
"It'll heal up on its own, Sammy. Quit worrying," Dean griped, smashing his face into the pillow and letting himself drift off, uncaring that he was still blood-stained and fully-clothed. Sam just shook his head and, although lessened, his worry was still present.
Turning on his heel, Sam made his way back into the bathroom where he cleaned up the remnants of the bloodbath and threw away his shirt before finally hitting the hay himself.
Dean woke late the next day. The job had been an all-nighter and as midday rolled around, the sunlight slipping past the ratty curtains was interrupting Dean's shut-eye.
He wasn't surprised to find himself in the same clothes he'd been wearing the previous night. Hell, he'd have kicked Sammy's ass if his baby brother thought one little nosebleed constituted masculine undressing and putting to bed. He was pleased, though, that Sam had the thought to remove his shoes before letting him sleep.
Speaking of Sam, Dean could see that he must have spent most of the morning cleaning up the bathroom. It no longer looked like a massacre had taken place of which Dean, who still felt a little shaky and looked like crap with his sunken eyes, bloody stubble and stained clothing, was only too grateful.
He took a shower, brushed his teeth and shaved, trying to decide whether his clothes were salvageable. Either way, they needed to pay a visit to a Laundromat sometime in the near future. Stuffing them back into his duffle bag and dressing quickly, Dean jumped as Sam approached from behind.
"Dude, don't do that!" he griped, shaking his head and rediscovering that last night's headache still lingered.
"Sorry, bro," Sam replied. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine, Sammy. What about you?" Dean asked, turning the subject away from himself and onto his little brother's wellbeing. He carefully probed the purple bruise that had taken up residence around Sammy's temple and found it to be slightly swollen.
Sam pulled his head away. "It's just a bruise, Dean. Nothin' to worry about. You were the one looking like something out of a slasher flick last night."
"Yeah, well, you were the one who got thrown down a staircase by a freak spirit with a fetish for all things Egypt," Dean bit back sharply, his tone telling the younger Winchester to drop it.
Sam huffed with irritation and gathered up his things before heading into the bathroom to clean up, slamming the door with more force than really necessary. Dean rolled his eyes at his younger brother's childish behaviour and froze, biting his lip with apprehension as he felt a cool trickle of something slip down his face.
No, no, no. Not again! He thought angrily, swiping his hand across his face and having it come back coated with fresh blood.
"Crap," he said aloud, taking a seat on the corner of Sam's bed and grabbing the nearest material he could reach (the sheets) and holding it up to his face. He was distracted for a moment by the buzzing of his cell phone in his pocket and pulled it out, fingers trembling, pleased to find it was a text containing coordinates.
Nothing like a good hunt to take his mind off of his melting nose.
The older hunter racked his (somewhat scrambled) brains, trying to think where the coordinates would likely point to on a map. Probably Minnesota way, he reasoned before a fresh bubble of blood popped from his nose and left him slightly queasy. Dean closed his eyes and waited for the bleed to stop.
When Sam emerged from the bathroom twenty minutes later, all freshly washed and dressed, he blanched at the sight before him. Dean was hunched over on his bed, freely bleeding all over the clean sheets. Once again, it was a lot of blood and Sam found his earlier frustration at his older brother replaced by frantic worry.
He crouched in front of Dean, laying one hand on Dean's knee and the other on the arm Dean was holding the sheet with.
"I just got the bathroom clean, Dean," Sam tried joking in an attempt to make his brother (and himself) feel better. "What am I supposed to tell housekeeping?"
Dean scrutinised the bloody sheets carefully for a moment. "Tell them you got your period, Sammy. Maybe that's why you've been acting like a bitch."
Sam would've been offended – he had only been trying to look out for his big brother, after all – but he could read the humour in Dean's eyes and he smiled grimly.
"Thanks, Dean. Nice," he responded, rolling his eyes in that uniquely Sammy way that made Dean grin.
"Are you alright? Do you need a doctor?" Sam asked, once again trying to be rational.
"Nah," Dean sniffed. "It's shorter than last night's bleed. Stopping already." And he was right; the dark red streaks were gradually fading to tiny pink marks as the bleeding slowed. Sam stayed with him the whole time, talking about menial things like the basketball game that had been on a couple of nights ago, all the while gently rubbing Dean's knee.
Finally, the older Winchester stood up with Sam's help, sniffing experimentally.
"I'ma get cleaned up again and then we'll hit the road, alright, Sammy?" Dean said, heading back into the bathroom.
"Where are we going?" the younger Winchester called after him.
"Dad sent me some coordinates while you were preening in front of the mirror, Samantha. It's somewhere in Minnesota, I think," Dean explained and Sam nodded to himself, already packing up the few belongings that he and Dean shared between them. He made sure to sneak the packet of toilet rolls underneath the sink in the kitchenette in his duffle bag too.
He had a feeling that Dean would be needing them.
Dean was right. The coordinates pointed to the small town of Good Thunder, MN, and the drive there was taking forever. Admittedly, they were never going to make the journey in a day but the constant stops as Dean attempted to control his manic nosebleeds and his paranoia about bleeding over his baby's seats would be getting annoying if Sam wasn't so damn concerned about how much blood his brother had lost over the past two days.
After being kicked out of a roadside diner by an unsympathetic bitch that Dean was certain was practising Necromancy, Sam finally piped up.
"Dean, you gotta get this sorted. You look like you're about to pass out, man. There's no way we can hunt whatever's in Good Thunder while you can barely stand without losing half your blood volume!" Sam complained, trying to appeal to Dean's love of hunting. In reality, Sam was simply frightened by Dean's increasingly ashen pallor and the way the horrible liquid just kept pouring out of his face.
"Geez, way to be overdramatic, Sammy," Dean whispered, eyes closed as he leaned against the Impala's window, shirt fisted in his palm and covering his nose.
"Alright, alright! Calm down," Dean barked, voice stronger. "I get it, Sammy, I do. This feels about as bad as it looks, man, so I get how freaked you are. Just...let's go check out Good Thunder first and if it hasn't healed up a bit before we're ready to gank what's there then I'll go see a doctor. Happy?"
Sam wasn't happy, not by a long shot. But, Dean was a stubborn SOB and, as they eventually arrived in Good Thunder and took out a Woman In White in a surprisingly easy hunt, the frequent bleeds seemed to be getting both lighter and further apart.
...That was, until Dean sneezed.
Despite the relative easiness of the hunt, it hadn't been without some injuries. Sam, courtesy of the Woman In White, had received a mild concussion and, what with Dean's nose (although healing) still bothering him, the boys decided to take a short break and get back up to full speed before they went looking for their next job.
They'd left Good Thunder and were holed up somewhere in Wisconsin when it happened. Sam, ever the geek and despite his small concussion, had gone out and was presently examining the local bookstores and library. Dean knew his little brother wouldn't be back for some time but still, he pulled apart the dusty curtains and looked out, checking for any sign of Sam's arrival.
Or rather, that's what would have happened, except the movement of the stagnant curtains had thrown a cloud of dust and fibres into the air and resulted in Dean having the Mother Of All Sneezes.
The pain in his skull was staggering.
Dean fell to his knees, the activity of keeping lookout for Sammy all but abandoned as blood flowed in a sudden torrent from both his nostrils. It was faster and harder than any other of his nosebleeds and was so overpowering that he could feel it surging down his throat almost as quickly as it was pouring down his face.
Dean gagged and coughed, hacking up the blood he'd swallowed and adding to the already impressive puddle of crimson that was staining the silver carpet. Gasping, he shakily rose to his feet and rushed for the bathroom, trying to ignore both the black spots in his vision and the way the blood trailed behind him.
The hunter slumped over the sink, watching with morbid fascination in the mirror at how the red waterfall seemed to tumble out of his nose. He pressed his pale lips together in a tight line to keep from swallowing anymore blood and prayed for it to end. He could feel sweat beading on his forehead in response to his anxiety.
Dean was no stranger to injury and its results. Having grown up around hunters, he knew that blood was pretty par for the course in this life. He wasn't a squeamish man (how could he be?) and from time to time, it was expected that he or his family (God forbid) would get injured, bleed a little and need sewing up. He knew that and was prepared to deal with it. But this?
This was terrifying, not least because he had never seen so much blood in one place in his whole life. His body was just letting this vital life fluid slip away and he couldn't do anything to stop it. Dean felt tears prick his eyes and sweat slipped down his face and mingled with the blood that was still roaring to escape his nasal cavity.
Dean's hands, slick with sweat and shaking from both fear and blood loss, slipped against the basin and the last thing Dean recalled were the blood-streaked tiles rushing up to greet his face.
When Sam arrived, some ten minutes later, he was unhappy with his older brother. "Dude, why didn't you answer your phone? You could've come pick me up, man. These books are..." Sam's voice trailed off at the lack of response and when he caught sight of the fresh blood trail on the carpet, the books fell out of his arms.
"DEAN!" he cried, door slamming behind him as he followed the trail to the bathroom.
"Holy crap! Dean!" Sam clamoured, drinking in the sight of his older brother unconscious on the floor, red liquid pooling around his head. Yanking out his cell phone, Sam hurriedly dialled 911 and gave his details before hanging up and gathering Dean in his arms.
He pulled his towel off of the rack that he'd left there this morning and gently wrapped Dean up in it as a makeshift blanket. Jesus, Dean. You're so cold. Sam wanted to gag at the way Dean's head lolled against his shoulder. He felt tears gather at the corners of his eyes. It wasn't right, seeing his big brother like this. Dean was supposed to be invincible.
He pressed his fingers to Dean's neck, trying diligently to ignore the clamminess of his older brother's skin, and felt his heart quicken with relief when he picked up the slow, thready beat.
"You're gonna be okay, Dean. You're gonna be okay. I promise. It's just a nosebleed, right?" Sam chattered anxiously, pressing the corner of the towel to Dean's nose that was still bleeding.
"Mr Wallace?" A distant voice called out from the hallway.
"IN HERE!" Sam shouted, hearing the door snap back on its hinges as the paramedics burst into the room and hurried for the bathroom.
"Please help him!" the younger hunter pleaded, a few stray tears leaking from his eyelids. Dean would probably have called him a sissy but he didn't care. He'd never seen so much blood before and, in the hunting business, that was something. Dean had lost far too much and Sam saw by the way the paramedics glanced at each other that it wasn't looking good.
"Okay, sir, can you explain what might've caused this? Has he been having nosebleeds recently?" the female paramedic asked as she set about stabilising Dean for transport with her partner's help.
"Yeah, um...he..." Sam took a moment to compose himself as the other EMT, a man, attached a blood pressure cuff to his brother's arm. "About a week or so ago, my brother had...had an itch and used the...um...frame of his sunglasses to scratch the inside of his nose. After that, that's when the nosebleeds started. This is definitely the worst, though." Sam explained. The makeshift story would have been an embarrassing one by civilian standards but there was no way Sam could tell them that the ghost of an Egyptian Studies professor had tried to pull Dean's brain out through his nose.
"Ah, that'll do it," the female EMT seemed to accept the younger Winchester's explanation. "If that's the case, we're probably dealing with a perforated nasal septum and possibly a nicked artery, given the strength of the bleed and the frequency." Sam's knees went weak at the thought and the male paramedic noticed.
"Don't worry, buddy. We'll have your brother back on his feet in no time. For the moment, though, I think we need to get this guy out of here, Sally. He's going into hypovolemic shock. You riding with us?" the EMT asked, and Sam didn't miss the way both paramedics increased the speed with which they strapped Dean to the stretcher.
Sam nodded sharply and grabbed hold of his brother's limp hand as they manoeuvred their way outside of the motel and into the waiting ambulance. The motel owner stood in the reception and directed a sympathetic smile at Sam, having promised to lock the room back up and have it cleaned later on.
With everything covered, the male EMT (whose name, Sam learned, was Mike) climbed into the front seat whilst Sally worked around the younger Winchester. The ambulance roared to life and jolted unsteadily from the parking lot, lights and sirens blazing. Sam ignored the surrounding background noise though; tear-filled eyes focused only on his big brother and gently stroked his thumb along the inside of Dean's palm.
The ambulance ride seemed to take forever and Sam wasn't comfortable with the way Sally's ministrations became more urgent and the way she began to holler for Mike to speed up. The bleed hadn't let up once and Sam was seriously considering just telling the EMTs to get it over with and perform a transfusion right then and there.
When they pulled into the ambulance bay of the local hospital, Dean was swept away by a waiting team and rushed inside as the younger Winchester looked on helplessly. Instead of following, Sam slumped against the ambulance and Mike, seeing the hunter's distress, moved to Sam's side.
"Your brother's gonna be fine, Sam. It's one of those situations where it looks worse than it actually is," the paramedic soothed.
"Yeah, I know. I just worry about the big jerk. I mean, he's all I've got, really," Sam replied, staring ahead with glassy eyes. Sam's concussion chose that particular moment to remind him that it was still there and, as the stress of the day caught up with him, Sam's eyes rolled upwards and he fainted.
The younger Winchester woke up in a hospital bed and was surprised to find that the sky outside had darkened. He sat upright as he remembered why he was in the hospital in the first place and regretted it when the marching band playing in his brain let out a few notes in protest.
"Ugh," the younger hunter moaned and squeezed his eyes shut. Sam felt a cool hand on his brow and gently pried open his eyelids as the pain dulled.
"I'm the one who arrives all comatose in an ambulance and you still end up in hospital with me. Guess you just can't stand to be away from me, huh, Sammy?" a familiar voice teased, as Dean slowly swam into view.
"Dean?" Sam gasped, relief at seeing his older brother alive and breathing stealing his own breath. The older Winchester was wearing a hospital gown that matched Sam's and was sat in a metal chair at the foot of the bed, his legs sprawled out on top of Sammy's own. An IV hung on a portable stand behind his brother, a sign that not everything was alright quite yet.
"Dean, there's blood on your gown!" Sam panicked, catching sight of the bloodied collar. His emotions were still a little fragile and, as he recalled the scene from the bathroom earlier, Sam felt a little panic was justified. Dean kept his face turned away from his younger brother as he answered.
"I know, Sammy. Believe it or not, this is my third gown. Gusher didn't quite do it justice," Dean explained and Sam felt his fear ratchet up a notch when he noticed how small and muffled Dean's voice seemed.
"Are you alright now?" the younger sibling asked tentatively.
"Yeah, I'm alright. I've been topped up and I'm good as new," Dean sighed. "It's just freakin' embarrassing, that's all."
"What is? The nosebleed? Dean, that was serious! You can't just..."
"I'm not worried about the nosebleed. That was frickin' scary as hell, man. What's embarrassing is this!"
Dean turned his face toward Sam and, for the first time, Sam saw the black string that streaked out from Dean's right nostril and was taped to his cheek. Dean's nose was stuffed with cotton and Sam guffawed as he realised what Dean meant by embarrassing.
"Dude," he breathed, cheeks red and sides aching from his uncontainable laughter at his brother's expense. "You got your tampon alright! I just think you've put it in the wrong place!"
Sam was released the next day but Dean, much to his dismay, had to remain in hospital for a bit longer.
"Mr Wallace, we can't release you while you've still got the plug in your nose. Once the blood vessel has clotted some more, we can remove it and then cauterise the injury site so that this doesn't keep happening. Until then, you have to remain in hospital under our supervision," the nurse had explained.
Between Dean's constant complaining and his disruption of the ward ("You can't sleep on the sofa in the family room with the windows open, Mr Wallace, just because you think it's too hot on the ward!"), Sam was looking forward to Dean being released. Dad had sent them more coordinates while they were recovering and Sam was thinking of asking Dean if they could stop in on Bobby Singer since they were heading his way.
Finally, much to the brothers' delight, the doctor said that it was time for the nasal plug to come out.
"Okay, here we go, Mr Wallace. I won't lie to you, this will feel slightly uncomfortable. Just remain calm and we'll have your nose back to working order in no time," the doctor explained.
Dean gulped, wrinkling his nose at the ticklish feel of cotton at the back of his throat. For all Sam's laughter about the nasal plug looking like a tampon, Dean knew that at least half a metre's worth of cotton was clogging up his nose and it wasn't going to be a pleasant process.
As the doctor wound the string around his clenched fist in a way that made both Dean and Sam really nervous, the older Winchester sought out his younger brother's hand and winced unhappily.
"Take it easy, Dean. I'm right here, man, relax," Sam reassured quietly.
The doctor began tugging and pulling and Dean couldn't help but hiss and gasp at random intervals, causing Sam to glare at the doctor and tighten his grip on Dean's hand. Dean's delicate nose hairs were dried into the nasal plug, thanks to all the earlier blood, and Dean could feel them being pulled out individually, making his eyes to tear up. Dean shut his eyes to keep the tears from spilling and gagged a few times as the cotton was dragged forcefully out of his nose.
Sam was surprised by how much of the material there actually was plugging up Dean's nose and was unsettled by the way the Dean reacted to having it removed. As Dean gagged again, Sam frowned and turned on the doctor.
"Look, buddy, do you think you could just stop for a minute? In case you hadn't noticed, my brother isn't exactly all for you trying pull out his brain along with the plug!" Sam huffed, wincing at the unfortunate wording of his sentence and ignoring the way Dean's other hand snaked up and yanked his jacket.
The doctor paused and glared at the younger Winchester. "I believe I am the medical expert in this room, young man. Perhaps you ought to leave and come back when we're finished."
"No way. I'm staying with my brother. You got that?" Sam demanded. The doctor looked at Dean who nodded his approval at Sam's words. Then younger brother smirked and readjusted his grip on Dean's hand when the doctor sighed with irritation.
"Right, we're almost there, Mr Wallace." And sure enough, the nasal plug came free just seconds later, coated with dry blood.
"That sucked ass," Dean grumbled, gently prising open his teary, bloodshot eyes and grimacing at the sound of his gravelly voice. Sam smiled with sympathy as Dean wriggled his nose.
"It's not a nice experience, I grant you," the doctor stated. "Now, hopefully this process won't be as painful. I am going to use silver nitrate to cauterise the affected blood vessels in your nose. It's an acid and may result in you having a runny nose for the next week or so but that will clear up with time. I'll anaesthetise the area first, so it should be a more comfortable procedure for you."
The doctor then proceeded to perform the nasal cautery. It didn't take long and Dean was more relaxed throughout, much to Sam's relief.
"All done," the doctor declared, snapping off his rubber gloves and depositing them in the bin at his side. "I don't think I have to tell you that it's not advisable to put sharp objects up your nose, Mr Wallace."
Dean glared at Sam at the mention of the ridiculous cover story. Sam shrugged subtly and tried to hide his grin.
"Regrettably, the hole in your septum will never fully close so it might become an issue in the future if you neglect to treat your nose with care," the doctor lectured and Dean fully expected the doctor to waggle his finger at him, so condescending was his tone. "For the next week or so, I recommend you avoid spicy cuisine and take it easy, just to allow the cauterisation to take and for the body to start healing on its own again."
Dean nodded vaguely, already planning the next hunt. Sam, seeing his brother's lack of enthusiasm, piped up.
"I'll take care of him, Doc." And Dean rolled his eyes, though his heart glowed slightly at the open concern and care his little brother showed for him.
"See that you do. If you'll excuse me, I have other patients." The doctor smiled grimly and ushered them out of his office.
"Man, that doctor was an even bigger bitch than you, Sam," Dean complained as the brothers made their way to the Impala, still twitching his nose in response to the tickle the silver nitrate had left behind.
"Very funny, Dean," Sam replied, climbing in the passenger side.
"Hey, baby," Dean crooned gently, ignoring Sam and talking to the car. "I bet you missed me, right?"
The younger Winchester sighed as Dean thumbed the steering wheel. "Dude, car fetish much?"
"Only this car, Sammy," Dean replied, laughter lighting up his eyes. "Anyway, how far to the next hunt?"
"Dean, the doctor said..."
"Who cares what that old guy said? He was a dick anyway. By the time we get to Bobby's and figure out whatever it is we're hunting, my nose will have healed up just fine."
"Alright," Sam conceded, seeing his brother's logic and knowing the older hunter was right.
"I'll tell you what else as well, Sam," Dean said, pulling out of the hospital parking lot, a grin shaping his features.
"We are so having Mexican tonight."
Sam just laughed.
A/N: Well, I hope you liked it. I suck at choosing appropriate moments for chapters to end and start, hence why my current stories are all insanely long oneshots. Hopefully, this will get better with time! If you spotted a mistake, please be a babe and let me know so I can sort it out ASAP.
Also, that bit at the beginning with the insta-kill via nose-cartilage-piercing-brain, does anyone know if it's actually true? My Dad (who I worship like Dean worships John Winchester), who was a Royal Marine, told me it was true but a quick internet search tells me it's not. I think I'm more inclined to believe my dad. Thoughts?