SUMMARY: Tag to 7.03. Missing moments between the ambulance ride and Sam, Dean and Bobby's stay at the cabin. Just an excuse to add a few more bro-mos to the mix.
SPOILERS: Set in Season 7, with spoilers for anything up to and including 7:03.
DISCLAIMER: Still don't own the Winchesters – they're way out of my budget. Continued gratitude to Kripke & Co. for allowing us to play in their sandbox with their awesome toys.
A/N: The continuity was a little off at the beginning of 7.03. When we left Dean in 7.02, he was a) conscious, b) had no visible signs of a head wound and c) knew they were headed to Leviathan General. So when he was shown unconscious, bloody and waking up in the hospital asking 'Where am I?' at the beginning of The Girl Next Door, it threw me. I was like, "Wait a minute, what did I miss?" Then it clicked – these episodes were shot out of order; 7:03 was the first episode filmed so that Jensen had prep time as a director. The glitch, then, was really that the cliffhanger in 7:02 didn't add quite enough blood to the mix. *g* This tag aims to fix that – and punch up the h/c which we lost in the three-week time jump. Yes, I'm incorrigible. Enjoy.
STONE NUMBER ONE
The paramedic emptied the contents of the syringe into a port in Sam's IV line. Dean's eyes were wide as he watched his brother's head slam into the gurney, the metal stretcher rattling under the force of each blow.
Finally, the drug took hold. The spasms slowed, then stopped, Sam's body relaxing back into unconsciousness, his head lolling towards Dean.
"He's stopped seizing." The paramedic was speaking into his shoulder-mounted radio as he scanned the monitors on the rack above Sam. "Vitals are holding. We're about five minutes out."
Dean exhaled audibly, his focus still on Sam. "So he's okay?"
The paramedic's attention slid to Dean but his hand stayed on his radio. "Is Doc Gains on duty?"
A female voice cut clearly through the static. "That's a negative. Foster from ortho has been paged for the broken tibia and we've got Kelly on standby for a neuro consult. Which one needs a surgeon?"
"It's not that. Gains knows the patients. Trust me, he'll wanna know they're en route." The paramedic's mouth twisted into a smile as he stared down at Dean. "Tell him it's the Winchesters."
Dean froze. He hadn't used their real names. The paramedics' arrival at Bobby's scrapyard was a bit of a blur, the pain from his leg and his worry for Sam both messing with his head, but use their real names? No way would he make a rookie mistake like that.
The guy now driving the ambulance had been the one taking care of him, splinting his leg and shooting him full of something to dull the pain, but Dean's attention had been locked on Sam – and on the paramedic, this guy, working on him. After fitting Sam with an oxygen canula, the medic had turned to adjust the oxygen flow and stared straight at the car they'd dropped on that Leviathan right before Dean called 911.
Convinced the medic had seen the arm sticking out from under the vehicle, Dean's muzzy brain was frantically trying to come up with a plausible explanation for why he hadn't reported a third victim when the paramedic turned away and focused his attention back on Sam without saying a thing. Now Dean knew why.
"That's right." The paramedic's smile widened as he leaned closer to Dean and lowered his voice. "I'm one of them." He chuckled softly. "We're everywhere, you know, and every day there's more of us."
"What the hell do you want?" Dean winced as he shifted his weight to pull his arms free of the safety restraints holding him to the gurney.
"Want?" The paramedic glanced over at Sam. "What I want is to feed. I'm so damn hungry… But the bosses want to keep a low profile. Want you for themselves." His smile returned as he turned back to Dean. "It's the only reason I didn't dine al fresco when you called us in."
"Yeah, well, thanks for that." Dean made a show of fighting against his restraints, but when the paramedic moved in to stop him, he jackknifed up, lunged for the man and gave his a sharp head-butt. He needed to toss this thing out the ambulance doors and get him and Sam to any place but Sioux Falls General.
He didn't get a chance to do either. Smacking his head into the Leviathan felt like hitting a concrete wall. His vision grayed then returned to focus just in time to see the paramedic's elbow driving straight at his head. The impact slammed his temple into the side of the ambulance and he collapsed back onto the gurney.
Dean heard the driver shout, "What the hell's going on back there?" but he was out cold long before anyone answered.
The jostling of the gurney as it was pulled from the ambulance jarred Sam back to consciousness. Strange voices surrounded him, but the jackhammer inside his head drowned out most of what was being said. The disjointed fragments that broke through – increasing inter-cranial pressure…, seizing en route…, altered LOC… – told him he was at a hospital long before he opened his eyes.
The sounds and smells of outside disappeared suddenly, replaced by the warm, disinfectant-tinged air of the ER. Then the gurney came to a stop, the squeaky wheels silenced as the head of the stretcher was raised to a 45-degree angle.
"Sa–mmy. Sa–mmy." Lucifer's too-familiar voice sing-songed his name from somewhere close by.
Instinctively, Sam batted away a hand that touched his face but when his eyes snapped open there was no sign of Lucifer, just a doctor on one side of him, a nurse on the other.
"It's okay, it's okay." The nurse gently grabbed his wrist and pushed his arm to his side. "You're at Sioux Falls General. You were attacked but you're safe now. Can you tell me your name?"
"Sam." He swallowed, then blinked to bring his vision into focus. Attacked? Who the hell had attacked him? "Where's my brother?"
"He's got an injured leg, Sam. He's in good hands. We're gonna take good care of both of you. I'm Marie. That's Dr. Bennett." The nurse's face twisted into a dark grin as she adjusted his IV. "Course, you really do look like crap. But that's what you get for letting your guard down around Purgatory's finest."
Sam stared at her, his escalating heart rate picked up by the monitor at his bedside. The words came from the nurse but it was Lucifer's voice.
"Sam?" Marie sounded like herself again as she glanced worriedly at the monitor. "Hey. Take a deep breath and relax. No one here's gonna hurt you."
"Guess she doesn't know monsters in scrubs have moved in here, huh? And hurting you is definitely on their agenda." This time Lucifer's voice came from the opposite side of the bay. Sam's head snapped to his right but there was no sign of the devil.
"Whoa, whoa. Try not to move around too much, okay? Trust me, your head will thank you if you stay still." Marie gently lifted Sam's head and placed a pillow behind it. "There, that should help."
Sam turned again to the nurse and jumped when he saw Lucifer standing behind her.
The devil grinned. "Yeah, Sam, it's me. I'm just messing with you. Hospitals are kind of dreary places – a guy's gotta do what he can to liven things up a bit." He snatched the stethoscope from the nurse's neck, placed it in his ears then pressed the scope to his own chest, right over his heart.
Lucifer listened for a moment then shook his head. "Nope. Still don't have one." He returned the scope to the nurse. "Can't say I really want one – a heart, I mean. Like souls, they're more trouble than they're worth."
Dean's voice suddenly broke through the pounding inside Sam's head. "He's not real. You know that right?"
"Dean's right. You're not real," Sam mumbled, subconsciously flexing his left hand and driving his nails into his still healing stitches. "Get out of my head."
"Who are you talking to, Sam?" Marie exchanged a worried glance with the doctor. "Hey, hey… relax your hand. You're gonna hurt yourself." The nurse forced open Sam's clenched fist when she caught sight of the blood leaching into the bandage and quickly cut off the wrapping. "We've got a recent injury here with about twelve stitches. No signs of infection but looks like he's popped a few sutures."
"Let's give him a tetanus booster to be sure." The doctor pulled out his penlight and turned Sam's head towards him. "Sam? You still with us?"
Lucifer chuckled. "Aw. I think they're worried you lost a few marbles on the ride over here, Sammy. I play my cards right, I could have you in a rubber room by lunchtime."
"Go away." Sam clenched his teeth as he tried to pull his left hand from Marie's hold but the nurse held tight. She chose that moment, though, to swab the stitches with antiseptic and Sam focused on the sting and the burn. It was real; Lucifer wasn't.
"Sorry, Sam." The doctor clicked off the penlight. "You're stuck with me for a little while longer."
Sam glared at Lucifer, who flickered but stayed visible. "Me, too. I'm not going anywhere."
"You're not real. You're not real!" The shout jacked up Sam's headache another notch and made him feel sick. The room grayed out as a wave of nausea rolled over him and the doctor and nurse's worried voices suddenly seemed far away. As the nausea subsided, he forced open his eyes in time to see Dr. Bennett handing Marie a syringe.
"That's a mild sedative, Sam. We need you to relax before you hurt yourself." The doctor flipped open his patient's chart and began writing in it. "Once we've done the MRI and I know what's what, I should be able to give you something stronger, to help with the pain."
Lucifer was standing behind the doctor now, reading over his shoulder. "Oh look, he's ordering a psych consult." He grinned, "I gotta sit in on that one. Can't wait to see what happens if I start pushing your buttons in front of a shrink."
"No…don't believe you." The sedative was starting to take hold and Sam's eyes slid closed. "Dean…Dean said…"
"Dean?" The doctor sounded puzzled.
"That's his brother. They came in on the same ambulance." The nurse's voice had a weird echo now. "I believe they took him to X-ray, Sam. I'll find out how he's doing while you're getting the MRI and let you know what..."
As Sam faded under the effects of the sedative, so did the nurse's reassuring words and Lucifer's taunts. They were replaced by a different voice and one he grabbed with both hands as a tether to reality.
"You got away. We got you out, Sammy. Believe in that. Believe me, okay? You gotta believe me. You make it Stone Number One and you build on it."
Sam slipped into unconsciousness, muttering that simple, powerful mantra. "Stone Number One…, Stone Number One…, Stone Number One…"
Bobby didn't get attached to stuff – not the way most folks did, anyway.
Clothes, cars, fancy furniture – all the things that so-called normal people spent a lifetime accumulating as proof of their success meant squat to him. Hell, if a demon was determined to rip his head off, no designer suit or sports car was gonna keep it on his shoulders.
That didn't mean he wasn't gutted when he first caught sight of the burned out shell of his home. It was a run-down, junk-filled firetrap but it was his, damn it – his home. It was the last place he'd known real happiness, the place where he'd drank himself into oblivion for the better part of a year after he'd been forced to kill his wife, and the place where he'd rebuilt his life as a hunter. Everything he now was, was forged in that house.
But what had really threatened to take his knees out from under him was the sight of the Impala parked in the drive, but no Sam or Dean anywhere. Finding no bodies offered some small measure of relief but the car was there, so where the hell were the boys?
They were the closest thing to sons he would ever know. As big a prick as John Winchester could be, he thanked the man on a daily basis for bringing those two boys into his life. He'd lost track of the number of times he'd thought he'd lost them – he'd been there at Cold Oak when Jake stabbed Sam, buried Dean after seeing him ripped to shreds by hellhounds and stood side-by-side with both of them – twice – when the gates to Hell itself were opened. What was that old saying – no parent should ever outlive a child? It was no less true for a crusty father-figure like him.
He wasn't ashamed to admit his hand was shaking when he punched in Sheriff Mills' number. "They burned my damn house down, Jodie."
"What? You alright?"
"I'm fine. Pissed, homeless but other than that, just peachy." His knuckles whitened as he tightened his grip around the phone. "I can't find the boys."
"Sam and Dean were there?"
"Their car is." Bobby stared at the Impala. "And wherever that car is, they should be close by. But there's no sign of 'em and they ain't answering their phones."
Bobby scrubbed a hand over his beard. "Wouldn't I love to check, but every phone I own but this one is a melted pile of goo inside that house."
"Just hang in there, okay?" Jodie's voice was reassuring. "Any firetrucks on scene?"
"No." Bobby snorted. "One of the perks of living out in the boonies."
"Okay, gimme five minutes. I'm gonna check with dispatch. Maybe someone reported something connected to your address that'll give us a clue."
"Thanks. You know where I'll be."
Bobby shoved the phone in his pocket and took another tour of the scrapyard. He stopped dead when he saw that the clunker he kept hanging from a crane in case of unwanted visitors – one of his 'Bobby-traps,' as a 12-year-old Sam had christened them – had been dropped. It was on its roof, meaning it had been released, then flipped after it hit the ground, but there was no sign of whatever it was the boys had been trying to drop it on. And yeah, he knew in his gut that it was Sam and Dean who had triggered the trap.
His phone rang. "Yeah."
Jodie didn't bother with the pleasantries. "Ambulance was dispatched to your place about two hours ago to pick up two male victims – one with a head injury, one with a broken leg. Didn't get a detailed description but it sure sounds like the Winchesters."
"Balls. That's them alright." Bobby was already moving toward his car. "Where they taking 'em?"
Jodie exhaled audibly. "Sioux Falls General. Look, I know you have to get them out of there, but stop at my place first. I-"
"I'm going straight there." Bobby climbed into his battered old Chevelle and fired up the engine. "You know-"
"Singer, listen to me. I know one of the hospital administrators. You two look enough alike to be brothers. You grab his ID and you'll have free rein in that place – no one he works with directly is on duty at this time of night."
"'Preciate the heads up." Bobby had his foot to the floor as he barreled down the road towards town. "What's his name and where's his office?"
"I'll have all that info for you when you stop at my place. It's an extra five minutes, that's all, and I'll have one of my late husband's suits all ready for you so you at least look the part." The sheriff hung up before he could object.
Jodie had been as good as her word and less than forty minutes later, Bobby was in the hospital. Thanks to his lookalike, he'd gotten access to the computer admittance logs and quickly recognized the Winchesters' aliases. Sam hadn't been assigned a room yet so he'd gone after Dean.
He'd found the kid on the floor, doped to the gills and looking far younger than his 32 years because of it. And damn, he'd wanted to hug him just because he was breathing. But hugs in their strange little family were reserved for really momentous occasions – like escaping Hell or getting your soul back – so he'd settled for a one-handed cheek-hug (confusing the hell out of Dean in the process) before heading off in search of Sam.
Luck more than anything led him to the younger Winchester. An orderly was leaving the MRI clinic as Bobby was headed there, and the kid was already strapped safely into a gurney, eliminating one or two potential hurdles from his escape plan. More than once over the past year he'd had to carry an unconscious Sam and even with Dean's help it had been a workout and a half each time.
Still, looking down on the kid as he pushed him through the hospital corridors toward the ambulance bay, Sam looked a helluva lot smaller and more vulnerable than any man his size had a right to. The head injury scared Bobby. Physical trauma on top of the hell wall demo – what was that gonna do to Sam?
Dean would be in fine form with a broken leg, his temper on a short fuse as soon as his frustration with limited mobility kicked in. But that he could handle – he just had no idea what to expect when Sam woke up.
But then he glanced down at Sam and he knew the answer. "Doesn't matter, does it, kid. We'll handle it…we always do. 'Cause that's what family does – even one as screwed up as ours."
Sam came to slowly and frowned as, once again, strange voices broke through his headache.
But, this time, the voices were speaking Spanish. And, stranger still, it sounded like some dude named Ricardo planned to off himself.
He forced open his eyes and a quick scan of the room left him even more confused. He had an IV taped to his arm but this was no hospital; he was in some cabin totally unfamiliar to him, lying in a small cot tucked in a back corner, and propped up on enough pillows that he was virtually sitting up.
A couch sat in the middle of the cabin, a dozen or so feet from the foot of his bed, facing away from him. His brother's head was visible at one end, apparently watching a television on the far side of the sofa.
Sam started to sit up but thought better of it when his head loudly objected to the change in elevation. "Dean?"
His brother's head snapped around, his mouth breaking into a grin when he saw that Sam was awake. "Hey, Rip Van Winkle rises. 'Bout freaking time."
Based on that jibe, and the roughness of his own voice, Sam knew he'd been sleeping a while. He cleared his throat. "Where the hell are we?"
"One of Rufus's hideouts, just outside Bozeman, Montana."
Sam's eyes widened at the gruff voice that delivered that piece of information. Bobby appeared from around a corner, just to Dean's right and smiled at Sam.
"Bobby! We thought-"
"Yeah, yeah." Bobby crossed the cabin to what passed as the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water. "To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of my death are a load of horsecrap."
Sam offered a tired grin. "Damn, it's good to see you. How did…"
Bobby shrugged as he handed the water to Sam. "Stopped off to see Sheriff Mills after I called you, let her know she wasn't going crazy, that she was seeing monsters, and, yeah, we were on the case. Sometime between then and when you two showed up, those… things put a match to my house."
Dean pushed himself unsteadily to his feet. "By the time Bobby got home, we'd already had our run-in with that monster and he thought we were goners." He grabbed some kind of rudimentary crutch and hobbled around the end of the couch.
"Dean, what the hell…" Sam sat up suddenly, slamming a hand against the wall to fend off vertigo as he stared at his brother's cast. "When did that happen?"
"You were there, Sam." Dean's eyebrow quirked at his brother's blank expression. "'Course it was right before you took a tire iron to the noggin. Seriously, you don't remember?"
"No." Sam fought against his headache to find the memory of what happened to Dean as Bobby gently but firmly pushed him back onto the pillows. "Last thing I've got is... seeing Bobby's house destroyed." He batted away Bobby's hands. "Don't. I wanna get up."
"Uh-uh. Stand down, soldier. You're on bed rest 'til the end of the week. Doctors orders."
"What? Why?" Sam scowled first at Bobby, then at Dean. "I'm okay. I've just got a headache."
Dean snorted at that. "Hell wall issues aside, Sam, you just admitted you're a few chapters behind the rest of the class. Then there's the fact you've slept for two days straight."
Sam's eyes widened. "Two days?"
"Yeah." Bobby folded his arms across his chest. "Like Dean said, a tire iron to the head will do that to you."
"You hit me in the head with a tire iron," Sam muttered, knowing he sounded childish. "I was fine then."
Bobby snorted. "One, your soulless self was trying to take my head off with a wrench at the time, and, two, apparently I know how to control a strike better than a damn Leviathan." He scrubbed a hand over his beard. "Bottom line, if Sioux Falls General wasn't Monster Central right now, you'd still be under observation in the neuro unit. That's a few notches above just a headache."
"Alright." Bobby held up a hand to cut off Sam's protest. "You wanna prove you're fine, how bout you tell me how we got here."
Sam glanced from Bobby to Dean. They both knew he was drawing a complete blank. "We drove."
"In what?" That was from Dean, and the fact he was asking with that Gotcha look on his face said it wasn't the Impala.
Sam took a shot in the dark. "Bobby's truck?"
Dean snorted. "Not even close. Dude, we Great Escaped Sioux Falls in a freaking ambulance." He grinned. "Too bad you snoozed through it. It was awesome."
Bobby rolled his eyes "Yeah, you missed your brother sky surfing on morphine." He took the water bottle from Sam, twisted off the cap then gave it back to him. "After we got through 'Let me drive, Bobby,' and 'You're driving like an old lady,' he decided we needed the lights and sirens going 'cause they were pretty."
Dean glared at Bobby. "I am not responsible for anything I said under the influence, besides we're talking about Sammy." He hobbled a little closer. "Out of curiosity, how many people are in this cabin, right now?"
"Three. You, me and Bobby – that's it. Honest." Sam subconsciously curled his injured left hand, but it was the truth. Since he'd woken up, he hadn't seen or heard Lucifer. He glanced from the IV in his arm to Dean's cast. "But you're right about my memory. There's a few holes… Wanna fill'em in?"
Bobby grabbed a wooden chair from the nearby table and motioned to Dean. "You, park your ass in this before you fall down." He turned back to Sam. "In a nutshell, you two took on a Leviathan and lost. Dean's leg's busted and you got your head bashed in. That mean's bed-rest for you for a week, and your brother's stuck in that cast for four to six weeks."
"Four - tops," Dean growled, looking decidedly pissed at that prospect as he lowered himself into the chair, his casted leg stuck out awkwardly. "And, damn, Sammy. These…Leviathans. I shot the son of a bitch in the head. That just pissed it off. Then we dropped a freaking car on it. I thought it was toast but by the time Bobby started looking for us, it was gone. What the hell do we have to do to kill these things?"
Sam shook his head, then took a drink of water. "If you two are gonna make me stay in bed, gimme my computer. I can-"
"No!" Dean and Bobby cut him off simultaneously.
Sam snorted. "Guys, you may have noticed, I'm kinda hanging by a thread here. Keeping busy keeps me focused, keeps…" He swallowed. "You know…"
"Yeah. We do." Bobby's voice softened. "But we swiped your file when we busted you out of the hospital and we're just following your doc's recommendations. And that was for strict bed rest for the first week – and that means no bright lights, no TV, no computer, no books, no-"
"Oh, come on."
"Sammy, you had a damn seizure in the ambulance." Dean had perfected the art of being pissed and worried at the same time. "I got a front row seat for that and, trust me, it ain't something I wanna see again."
"I don't remember that." Sam closed his eyes, still searching for any memory after he and Dean arrived at Bobby's.
"That's kinda the point of playing hardball." Dean sounded less pissed but still worried. "Besides, you'll be out of that bed before I'm out of this cast." He shook his head in disgust. "I mean, seriously, look at my pants."
Sam's eyes slid open and he smiled. Sometimes his big brother sounded more like a big kid. "Your leg's gonna be okay, though, right?"
Dean snorted as he smacked his cast. "Soon as I get this damn thing off, I'll be awesome. If they hadn't knocked me out, they never would've got it on in the first place. Itches like hell."
"Here, I told you – use this." Bobby grabbed a ruler from the table and passed it to Dean.
Dean scowled but took it, fed it inside his cast and scratched. The scowl quickly melted into a smile. "Never take the simple pleasures for granted, Sammy. Scratching right is as good as-"
"Please don't finish that sentence." Sam's smile faded as he looked down at his bandaged hand. "I do remember something…I woke up at the hospital." He glanced up at Dean. "Lucifer was there."
Dean's jaw clenched. "Being supportive, I'll bet."
"Seemed to think it would be fun to get me tossed in a rubber room. Said the doc had ordered a psych consult." Sam snorted softly. "Pretty sure I was talking back to him so I wouldn't be surprised if that part was true."
"Like I said before, we've got your chart, Sam." Bobby looked as worried as Dean. "There's nothing on there about psychiatric care. Everything's strictly in line with a physical head injury. You rest up like you're supposed to, get your strength back, you'll soon be telling that bastard to take long walk off a short pier."
Sam wanted to believe that, more than anything. "That's good. Thanks." He turned to his brother, again rubbing his thumb over his bandaged hand. "I used what you gave me, you know. That whole Stone Number One speech." He smiled. "Kinda corny, but it shut Lucifer up for a bit."
"Corny?" Dean feigned offense. "Dude, I don't do corny. If I give you something, it's golden. Remember that." He shook his head as he again shoved the ruler down his cast. "Damn it, Bobby, go find a saw. We are taking this bitch off tonight."
"The hell we are."
Now it was Sam and Bobby tag-teaming Dean.
Dean shot them both a look as he pushed himself up. "Screw both of you. I'll do it my damn self."
"It's too soon." Bobby snatched away Dean's crutch and while he was off balance, pushed him back into the chair.
Dean scowled up at him. "Picking on a gimp, now? Nice. But if you think that'll stop me, you-
"You mess with your cast, Dean, I'm not staying in bed." Sam shrugged when Dean glared at him. "If you don't have to follow doctor's orders, why the hell should I?"
Bobby, standing just out of Dean's eyeline, was biting back a grin knowing Sam had played the one card Dean couldn't trump.
Didn't mean he had to like it though. Dean glowered at his brother. "Bitch," he muttered as he pushed himself up, snatched back his crutch from Bobby and hobbled back to the couch.
Sam smiled as his eyes slid closed. Bobby was alive, Dean was gonna be okay and, for now, Lucifer had left the building. He curled his left hand into a fist; Stone Number One was holding. For the first time he believed that maybe, just maybe, he could build on it.
A/N: There's a really funny little bit from Supernatural's Toronto Con yesterday (Oct. 9) where Jared and Jensen talk about Sam's hand injury and how he uses it to stay grounded. If you want to check it out, here's the link: http (colon) /www (dot) /photos/mitosis (underscore) is/6226926546/in/set-72157627716800173. The video is cut-off, unfortunately, but what's there will make you smile. Hope you enjoyed the fic. If you have a moment, I'd love to hear from you. Until next time, cheers.