Notes: Written for the prompts "concussion/head trauma" and "hospital stay," and filling a request made by Juppschmitz on LJ: Dean is living with Lisa. He gets badly hurt (supernaturally/hunting related/trying to prevent a crime...) and lands in hospital. He misses Castiel. Castiel is aware and comes visit (invisibly?) Friendship, no slash.

The title is actually from Isaiah 65:24 "Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear," because I find nifty quotes when I Google keywords.

It was, Dean thought, proof that God was still out for his ass. Because wasn't domestic life supposed to be safe?

Of course, he wasn't dumb enough to forget the things that lurked in the dark. There was still that devil's trap drawn under the mat in the hallway; still a gun in his bedroom closet. He could deal with any sort of supernatural fucker that came along and tried to hurt him, Lisa, or Ben.

But the ordinary things, the mundane things—they weren't supposed to be dangerous. His hot coffee wasn't supposed to touch his family jewels. His razor wasn't supposed to make his face look like the Hellhounds had had another go at him. Dean was well aware that that sort of logic was…illogical, but damn it, this type of living was supposed to be a vacation from the suspicious crap, not a whole new minefield to navigate.

Never mind that his coffee had stayed in its cup (so far) or that his five-blade Gillette probably wouldn't draw blood even if he tried hacking at his stubble. Both of those things had been risks even back when the Impala was still coasting daily down the roads of America.

No, it was really his jobthat was supposed to be safe now. His ordinary I-lift-things-up-and-weld-them-down construction job. There wasn't a risk of being disemboweled, or of being choked until he was blue in the face. There were no fake IDs involved (unless the papers that he had forged about graduating from a vocational school counted, and really, who the hell needed a high school to say that they knew how to work with power tools after they spent a summer in Singer's Salvage Yard?) and the chance of getting arrested for grave desecration was slim, to say the least.

The only conclusion, Dean decided, was that it was God who had tilted that scaffolding. God who had decided that he remove his hard hat for one frigging moment, just as he was standing right in the course of the…what was it? Power drill? Paint can? It had begun with a 'P,' anyway. Who had decided that almost three decades of working up to having the instincts of a cat meant absolutely shit when there was a fucking thing careening down towards him.

On the plus side, his insurance was actually legit this time. It was a shit policy, but it was something.

On the down side, he had rolled over and puked all over Mark's boots when he had come to a second later. Not that he cared about making friends with the bunch of paunch-bellied sleazebags that were his coworkers, but he wasn't looking forward to have to live that one down.

Oh, and he was currently being held in the local hospital that was an hour away from home. That kind of sucked too.

The doctor, a pretty middle-aged woman with dark skin and short hair, had told him that he had gotten off lucky. "Cerebral contusions are nothing to joke around with. Yours, fortunately, isn't a large one. Surgery isn't necessary at the moment, but you will need to be kept in for observation."

She had gone on to explain more, things about symptoms and medicine, and sign here please? He had been in more hospitals than he could count, and it was always the same crap in the same off-white walls. The meds were a nice perk, though, although it was effort to remember that he didn't need to steal any to keep their first-aid kit stocked up. There wasn't actually a first-aid kit anymore. Hell, for that matter, there wasn't even a "their."

Lisa had shown up with Ben in tow about a half-hour after he had gotten to the hospital.

"Are you okay?" she had asked, after they had kissed in front of a gagging Ben. "I'm sorry; I should have asked that first—"

"Don't worry about," he had replied. "I've had things way worse than this happen. Trust me, it barely even hurts."

She hadn't looked convinced, which was probably because he had been lying—meds or no meds, he had one pain-in-the-ass headache. But he hadn't let her dwell on that. He didn't need to cause her any more stress than he already had, showing up five months ago like that.

Instead he had just turned to Ben and shown him the kick-ass knob that the drill, or whatever it had been, had left on his head. It was still sort of visible under the swath of bandages that had been applied, and he promised to let Ben see it without them as soon as he was released. Ben, in appropriate preteen fashion, had been at once disgusted and fascinated by the prospect.

They had stayed as long as they were allowed, which Dean could admit was pretty good of them, especially given that he was concussed (or cerebrally contusioned; whatever) and although he still more or less lucid-he knew his name, age, and location, and what was going on, at least-things did kind of slur together now and then, and that didn't usually make for the greatest company. He also knew that Lisa had a class to teach, and that Ben had a baseball practice that would have been a hell of a lot more exciting than sitting around in a hospital room, lifting and lowering Dean's bed until a nurse came by and informed them severely that such a practice was not allowed in their establishment.

But visiting hours had come and gone, and by the time that the moon had taken the sky from the sun, Lisa and Ben were being forced out.

"I'll come see you first thing tomorrow," Lisa had promised. "As soon as visiting hours open up, okay?"

He'd said that was fine, that he looked forward to it. He also told Ben to kick butt in tomorrow's game and make the other team go home crying their eyes out, which had just made Lisa roll her eyes and laugh in that perfect, normal way that she did. And then they had left, and he had been alone. Just him, a hospital, and one giant, throbbing mother of a headache.

Of course, Dean didn't mind hospitals, not usually. They were a regular part of the life that he had lived, and if someone up in the skies with a dickish sense of humor had his way, they would apparently continue to be so for awhile. He was used to the crappy food and the snoring roommates and the beds that made cheap motel mattresses feel like they had the bedsprings of the gods.

But now he was alone, and even though he was sleepy and woozy, either from the medicine or from the head injury, he couldn't actually manage to fall asleep. If he did, demons might get him.

It hadn't escaped his notice that this was the first time he had essentially been helpless since Sam had gone down the rabbit hole to Hell—this was the first time where, if a demon came, he didn't have Ruby's knife on hand. He always kept it with him; just tucked it in his boot when he was at work. Except for today where, stupidly enough, he had been so wrapped in domestic bliss that he'd left it under the mattress that he shared with Lisa.

He tried to remember the familiar Latin of an exorcism and found that he couldn't; his mind just kept catching the first line or so and then letting it go. That was the worst part of head injuries—not the puking or the fainting, or even the stumbling around that usually happened after he regained consciousness. It was the confusion, the way that he knew what was going on (usually) and knew what the dangers were, but he just couldn't manage to grasp the fine things. The important things. And now there was nobody to get his back, because Bobby was miles away in South Dakota, if not out hunting something halfway across the country, and Sam was down in Hell, and Cas-

God only knew what Cas was doing right now.

Dean leaned back against the flat hospital pillow and played with the corner of the scratchy sheet that covered him. By this point he probably had all of Heaven wearing ties and trench coats. Probably had a secretary and a million winged dicks working under him. Still didn't mean that he had time to pop and tell Dean that hi, he wasn't dead, and by the way, how was the girlfriend-and-kid arrangement going?

He wondered if they had cell phones in Heaven. And if their reception was any good. In the haze of meds and addled brain cells he pictured Castiel standing on a cloud against a bright blue sky, frowning in that confused way that he had down to perfection as he stared at the sleek little-

"I had thought that you wished to distance yourself from me, and from the cause that I represented."

Castiel's deep, emotionless voice came to the left of Dean's bedside, and he practically jumped out of his sheets, nearly dislodging one of the monitors that they had hooked up to him.

The movement sent a fresh wave of dizziness, and it took a moment of sitting painfully upright and not moving a muscle until it was gone. "Cas?"

"Of course."

He carefully lowered himself back down, turning just enough to see a tall figure standing rigidly next to his bed. "Why're you here?"

"You called me, didn't you? Unconsciously, perhaps." He had the good grace to kneel down so that his face was more or less at level with Dean's, or maybe he just wanted to get a better look at his head.

"I don't remember doing anything. Unless your angel cell phone's been pickin' up my thoughts. That's, like, five-hundred bar reception, right?"

Castiel frowned, just like Dean had imagined, and he couldn't help letting out an amused snort. That just made Cas tilt his head, looking even more confused, until Dean finally took pity on him and said—or slurred; maybe that was the more accurate word, "Never mind. So, what does bring you round these parts?"

"I told you. I was under the impression that you were calling for me, and I thought that…perhaps…something had happened."

There was something in Castiel's eyes that Dean could barely make out, even in the considerable light that made its way into his room from the window that looked out onto the parking lot, and from the brightly lit hallway. Something that said that his words hadn't been chosen in vain; that he had been expecting something to happen. But before Dean could contemplate following up on that, Castiel said quickly, "And I was correct." He laid two fingers onto Dean's forehead. "You're injured."

"Yeah. Frigging power drill fell on my head. Don't get rid of it," he added quickly, remembering that Castiel wasn't exactly the time for touching for the sake of it. "Ben wanted to see what it looked like."

Castiel stared at him a moment longer, although to his credit, he did remove his hand. "I don't understand your motivation."

"When you're young, it's really cool to see giant bruises on people's heads. It's a human thing," he added.

Cas nodded, still not looking like he completely understood what Dean meant. Then he asked, "Would it be acceptable for me to remove some of the pain?"

"Pump me up of angel Novocain? Sure. Jimmy Novocain." He laughed, although even in his current condition he knew that it was a fucking stupid pun.

Dean felt Castiel's fingers again, cool against his skin, and then just like that the steady pounding in his head was gone. He blinked a few times, adjusting to the more-or-less absence of pain. It didn't escape his notice that he was more clear-headed now.

"Thanks, man. That feels better." He wriggled up until he was sitting against the headboard, looking down at the still-kneeling Castiel. "Do you need a chair or something?"

"I don't require one."

"Okay." Dean nodded. Whatever worked. He'd stopped wondering why Castiel did the things he did a long time ago. "So, uh, how's Heaven?"

"It's unpleasant," said Castiel promptly. Dean waited a moment, but he didn't bother to elaborate.

"Any reason why?"

"It's nothing to concern yourself with. There are simply some…out of order things. That, and some opposing views."

"Politics?" he asked, trying to sound sympathetic. He had never really considered how Heaven ran before; he'd always assumed that the biggest, loudest douche-bag who managed to speak above everyone else won the race. Maybe it was a democracy, though. He could see how handing out campaign fliers could get tiring.

"In a manner of speaking, yes." Castiel fell quiet, and Dean got the idea that it was only in the very vaguest sort of sense.

"Well, if there's anything I can do…" he shrugged, reaching up to rub at the bruise, which had begun to get itchy under the bandages. "I'm not going anywhere."

"I wouldn't ask that from you," Castiel said firmly. "There's nothing you can do. Not now. And you're content with this life, correct?"

"Well, not this part. But the time when I'm not stuck in a hospital with my brain leaking out my ears? Yeah. I'm happy with it." He paused and then, because it was Castiel, and because things were still kind of slurring together, he added, "Wish Sam were here, though."

"Of course. I would expect that you did." He stood up suddenly, his coat rustling around him. "I need to go," he announced. "I'm required elsewhere."

"Oh." He berated himself for the flash of disappointment that came with the announcement; it wasn't like Cas could have stayed a long time anyway, and even if he did have that liberty, he probably didn't want to hear about Dean becoming a domestic god. He'd be better off in Heaven. "Be careful up there."

"I will be." He looked up, frowning, and Dean got the completely out-of-place idea that he was telling someone to wait a frigging minute. "You can sleep, Dean. There won't be any demons in the hospital."

"Really? Thanks."

"You're welcome." Castiel lingered a minute longer, and Dean searched for something he could say as he resumed fiddling with the loose threads on his blanket. He almost reiterated the offer he'd made earlier, his willingness to help out, but just as he was about to, Castiel disappeared in a flap of wings that caused the shades on the windows to flutter out.

Dean sighed and leaned back, his head protesting the movement, but not with the same vehemence that it had before Castiel had come. Angels were weird as hell, but at least Cas had a way of showing up when he needed him to be there. He could appreciate that, damn creepy as it could be.

The next morning his head felt and looked fine—on the inside, anyway; the outside was still pretty kick-ass. And if Dean rolled his eyes at the doctors back patting themselves for having done a good job monitoring him, well, that was his business and none of their concern.