A/N: I can't apologize enough for how long this chapter has taken me to write. I could blame a number of things (school work, real work, sports, etc.) but the reality is, I easily could have found the time had I tried. I just really didn't know where I was going with the story, and I had said that this would be the final chapter. After making you guys wait for months, though, I decided I couldn't just easily wrap it up, so there will be at least another chapter, maybe two. And I promise to write them more quickly. Thank you for the continued reviews. Besides making me feel guilty, they've also motivated me to keep trying to finish this story. I hope you're still with me and still enjoying it. Thanks again for the support. Please let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions for me.
Sam sat down slowly, his hand still fumbling with his cell phone, wishing he had already called Bobby, that the older hunter was here with him now, just in case…he shook his head, unwilling to let those thoughts creep into his mind. He realized then that the doctor was saying something and he forced himself to drown out the doubts in his mind.
"…he's lost a lot of blood already…"
"Wait, so what happened? What's wrong with my brother?" Sam didn't let the doctor finish and he absently noted the look of annoyance on his face.
The doctor paused for a second, studying Sam before repeating everything he had just said.
"Your brother came in with a ruptured spleen, Mr. Wilson. Now, we were able to go in and remove the spleen, but he's lost a lot of blood."
"Ruptured spleen?" Sam asked in disbelief. Because yeah, Dean had taken a hard hit, but he never would have thought it was enough to cause such a bad injury. "But he said…" Sam trailed off, looking over at the doctor. "He didn't hit his side that hard. How could that rupture his spleen?"
"Normally, the spleen is protected by the rib cage and you're correct, it wouldn't usually rupture with a minor bump. But because of your brother's case of Mononucleosis, his spleen was abnormally large and thus not very well-protected. The hit to his left side was more than sufficient to cause such damage."
Sam looked sharply at the doctor and he could see Mark's equally surprised look out of the corner of his eye. "Mono?" Sam repeated. "Are you serious?"
It was the doctor's turn to look confused at that. "You didn't know? I would guess he's had it for at least three weeks."
Sam shook his head, trying to process the information. Three weeks. He pinched his fingers over his eyes, exhausted. "We thought he just had a cold, Doc," Mark spoke up, feeling the need to defend himself and Sam, even though the doctor wasn't really accusing them of anything.
The doctor nodded, accepting that as plausible. "Sometimes it can manifest with cold or flu-like symptoms. The one thing you really need to be careful of is the enlarged spleen which, unfortunately, was the issue here and the reason for the rupture."
"And you had to remove the spleen?" Mark asked. "What will that mean for Dean?"
"The spleen is important, but it isn't vital, and the body can cope quite well without it. The liver will primarily take over the functions of the spleen, but there are still some potential complications to be aware of. The risk of infection is higher, especially in the first two years post-op. But we'll discuss that more after Dean has had some time to recover. Right now our main concern is to watch out for any post-operative complications from the blood loss and aggressively monitor for signs of infection."
Sam nodded, anxious to see for himself how Dean was doing. Because hearing about the surgery and the potential life-threatening complications was not exactly comforting. "When can I see my brother, Doc?"
The doctor turned to glance at the clock on the wall, taking a moment before answering the question. "He's been in post-op for about thirty minutes now, and it should be another thirty or so before he's moved to a room for the night. Hang out here for awhile and I'll have a nurse come and get you as soon as he's settled."
Sam and Mark both thanked the doctor, then sat quietly for a few moments. "Should you kill him or should I?" Mark asked quietly.
Sam huffed out a laugh. "Mono," he repeated, as if still not believing it. "Why am I not surprised?"
Mark shook his head. "At least it's not another bleeding ulcer. I would have kicked his ass if he did that again."
Sam nodded in agreement. "But he's still gonna hear it from me," he added, trailing off. "Three weeks." Sam looked down at the phone in his hand, thumbing through the contacts. "I'm going to go let Bobby know," he told Mark, getting up.
Mark stood up with him. "Give him my best. I'm going to go get us some coffee."
Bobby hadn't seemed too surprised when Sam had told him what happened, and Sam figured that spoke volumes about their lives – that something as serious as hypovolemic shock brought on by a ruptured spleen could be considered mundane.
"How long is he going to be admitted for?"
"The doctor didn't say. A few days, barring complications I guess. And from the sound of it, he won't be in the clear health-wise for awhile. High risk of infection and what-not now that he doesn't have a spleen."
"Bring him here, Sam. At least for a few weeks. With all those dumps you stay in, he's bound to catch something."
Sam started to protest, not wanting to impose on the older hunter, but Bobby cut him off immediately, insisting. And Sam figured Bobby did have a point – the roach motels they tended to stay at would almost inevitably worsen Dean's condition. And that was the last thing Sam wanted. Plus, then he'd have an adversary if Dean protested the extended recuperation time.
"Okay, yeah Bobby thanks. That sounds great. I'll let you know when we get out of here. I still have to finish up this case, actually."
Bobby raised his eyebrows at that. "Not alone, I hope," he said, concerned.
"No, actually Mark Ruttledge is here. He says hi, by the way."
"Okay, good. He's a good guy, he'll look out for you two. But be careful, anyway. I don't want you ending up in the hospital with your brother."
Sam promised to be careful, then said goodbye to Bobby and returned to the waiting room. Mark held out a cup of hot coffee for him and a few packets of sugar and some cream. "I didn't know how you took it."
Sam nodded his thanks. "Black is fine," he said, taking a sip and puckering at the bitter taste, but drinking it anyway.
"What'd Bobby have to say?"
"He wants us to stay with him while Dean recovers."
Mark smirked. "Good luck with that."
Sam nodded. "Yeah, I know, but I've got the upper hand here. Don't worry, I'll guilt him into it eventually."
Mark took a long sip of his coffee and leaned back slightly in the hard-backed chairs. "I know you will, Sam."
"We still need to finish the hunt," Sam reminded him. "Or at least make sure it's finished."
"I'll finish the ritual tomorrow, but I don't think there will be any problems. Emily and Bill are dead, and we have the wand. I have a simple incantation that should prevent anyone from summoning its power in the future."
"Yeah, okay sounds good. I'll help, then – tomorrow. Dean would kill me if you got hurt," he added, preemptively ending any rebuttal Mark might have had, and the older hunter reluctantly agreed.
The next thirty minutes seemed to take an infinity, and when there was still no update on when he could see his brother, Sam was ready to punch something - or someone. It was another twenty minutes before the nurse came out to find them, and Sam almost scared her away the second she stepped into the waiting room.
"What took so long?" he demanded, but Mark cut him off before he could do anything stupid.
"Sorry, we're just worried," Mark said in his charming voice, and the nurse was almost immediately at ease. She led them to Dean's room, explaining what they should expect when they got there.
"He's pretty heavily sedated and should be out until morning. The doctor explained to you about the complications, I presume?" she asked, and when Mark answered in the affirmative, she continued. "Dean's on some pretty heavy antibiotics to prevent any serious infections, and those can sometimes wreak havoc on the body. If he complains of nausea when he awakes, make sure to let one of us know," she said sweetly, patting Mark on the hand. Sam just restrained himself from rolling his eyes. Barely.
"Here we are," she said, stopping in front of room 127. "Technically, you're only supposed to visit for 30 minutes..." she paused, and Mark gave her his best puppy dog face. Apparently Sam wasn't the only one who had mastered that. She looked up and down the halls, as if checking to see if anyone would catch them. "But I'm not going to tell anyone if you stay. There's one chair by Dean's bed and another by the other empty bed if you want to pull that one over."
Sam thanked her, hand on the door. "You're welcome. Let me know if I can do anything else for you boys," she added, winking at Mark. Sam did roll his eyes this time, but he was already halfway into Dean's room and fairly certain neither Mark nor the flirtatious nurse had seen.
Even though the lights in Dean's room were turned low, Sam could clearly see the sickly pallor on his brother's face. Dean lay completely still, various tubes and wires sticking out around his body. No respirator, though, and for that Sam was grateful. Mark closed the door to Dean's room, quietly moving the chair from the empty bedside so that it was situated next to Sam's chair.
Sam sank down into the other chair, dropping his head into his hands as he wearily exhaled. "What a long week," he mumbled quietly. Mark didn't respond, but Sam felt him place a large hand on Sam's back. "Long, fucking week."
It wasn't until several hours later that Dean began to stir. Mark was out of the room grabbing breakfast from the hospital cafeteria and Sam was dozing in the lumpy chair beside Dean's bed. Sam wasn't even sure he had heard the soft voice calling out to him, but when he looked over at his brother's bed, Dean's eyes were open and his right hand was hanging loosely over the bed, thumping the mattress lightly to get Sam's attention. He moved his lips again but this time Sam couldn't even hear the words he was trying to speak.
Sam sat up quickly, pushing away from the chair and standing by his brother's bed. "Hey man, how are you feeling?" he asked anxiously, hand hovering near the red call button, ready to get the nurse if even the slightest thing seemed off with his brother. Dean closed his eyes and swallowed with difficulty.
"Wa...ater," he croaked. Sam nodded.
"Right, of course," he said, standing up and filling a small plastic cup with water. The nurse had come by earlier and let Sam and Mark know it would be alright for Dean to drink a little when he woke up. Sam handed the cup to his brother, helping Dean sit up a little and putting the straw to his lips. Sam kept a hand on the cup to make sure he didn't drop or spill it. After a few sips Dean pushed it back, closing his eyes again and letting his head sink against the pillow.
"Are you okay?" Sam asked when Dean didn't move for a few seconds.
Dean heard the worry in his brother's voice and forced himself to open his eyes. He nodded slightly but couldn't hide the wince when the stitches over his left side pulled at the movement. "My side," he mumbled softly. "Hurts." He put his hand over the still-tender wound, fingers lazily moving over the stitches. Sam reached out and stilled Dean's hand.
"Don't touch that, Dean," he scolded lightly.
Dean didn't answer but moved his hand to the side of the bed, away from the bandages. "What happened?" he asked after a minute. The last thing he remembered was overwhelming dizziness and a white-hot pain in his side.
"You ruptured your spleen, man. Doc said you'd lost a lot of blood by the time they got you into surgery. It was touch and go for awhile."
Dean absently moved his hand back to his side. "Di' they take my spleen?"
Sam nodded. "Yeah they couldn't repair it. You don't necessarily need it, but we're gonna have to be careful for awhile so you don't get any serious infections."
Dean cursed softly, knowing it was just going to add one more complication to their already-complicated lives. "Sorry," he whispered. "Didn't even think I got hit that hard."
"That's what I said too. You've had Mono, Dean. For three weeks. It caused your spleen to become enlarged, more susceptible to rupturing."
To Dean's credit, he seemed suitably surprised by that statement. "The kissing disease?"
Sam nodded. "Probably from one of your many one-night stands."
"Shaddup," Dean mumbled, closing his eyes again. "Didn't know," he added a minute later, knowing Sam was probably pissed he hadn't told him he was feeling sick.
Sam wanted to call him on that. Because even if he didn't know it was Mono, there was no way he hadn't felt sick these last few weeks. "Get some rest," he said instead, knowing such an argument would be unfair. He watched as Dean drifted back to sleep, then settled back against his own chair and waited for Mark to return.
By the time mid-afternoon had rolled around, Dean was able to stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time and was insistent that Mark and Sam finish up the banishing spell. Sam was hesitant – Dean's color hadn't improved much and he still seemed far too weak, but it was soon clear that arguing with his brother would be futile. So he and Mark set out to finish the spell with the unspoken agreement that they would do it and return as quickly as possible.
When they reached the car, Mark pulled out the wand from a protective box hidden in the glove compartment. Even though he believed this ordeal was over, he still wasn't taking any chances on the wand getting into the wrong hands again.
"Has the town been quiet?" Sam asked, eyeing the wand distastefully. Mark had headed out for a few hours to make sure everything was okay in the town.
Mark nodded. "They found Bill's and Emily's bodies this morning. From what I heard the sheriff's department has no viable leads, but I'm pretty sure nothing can tie us to the scene. Rich is fine, though, and there haven't been any weird occurrences since last night. I checked out the library too. Everything looks normal with no signs of what went on last night. Oh and I made sure the hidden room in the basement was still…hidden."
Sam nodded his head in approval. "So where are we going to perform the ritual?"
"At the burial site, where we moved all the bodies last night. Then we burn the wand on hallowed ground, and that should render the wand powerless to anyone who possesses it."
"Good," Sam said simply, looking out the window. He wanted to get this ritual finished as soon as possible. He knew the doctor had said Dean's prognosis was relatively good, but his brother's pale skin and overall appearance were not doing a good job of convincing Sam that that was the case.
Rain was starting to fall as Mark pulled up to the burial grounds. Though it made their job a bit messier, at least it meant there were no townspeople out and about to witness the ritual. "We should probably hurry up," Mark said, grabbing a few bags from the trunk. "If it starts to rain any harder we may have trouble burning the wand."
Sam didn't need to be told twice and he grabbed the rest of the bags from the trunk, following quickly behind Mark, who stopped in the center of the field. "Does it matter where we perform the ritual?" Sam asked.
Mark shook his head. "The entire burial ground is hallowed. We're fine right here." He knelt down and pulled out the wand along with the spell he had translated from the Esopus language. Sam pulled out a pouch from his own bag, sprinkling the contents in a small circle like Mark had instructed earlier.
"What is this again?" he asked, holding a pinch of the dust between his fingers to examine it.
"Bone dust from the bodies disturbed by the digging." Mark said without looking up, and Sam quickly wiped his hands on his pants, shuddering involuntarily as a chill ran through his body. Mark placed the wand in the center of the circle and began to recite the cleansing ritual.
The wind picked up slightly as Mark finished the recitation, but Sam couldn't tell if that was just from Mother Nature or if it was the spirits of the Esopus that had been disturbed. Either way, it caused the matches that Sam lit to flicker and burn out almost immediately.
Sam felt an icy chill again and looked around, certain he hadn't imagined it this time. He thought he caught a glimpse of something shimmery behind the trees, but it was gone so quickly he couldn't tell who – or what – it had been.
"Mark," Sam started, turning towards the older hunter and seeing his own concern reflected in Mark's eyes. But before he had the chance to say anything else, the wind kicked up another notch, blowing bone dust into his eyes, and Sam stumbled, momentarily blinded. He thought he heard Mark shout out to him, but his voice was muted out by the cacophony of the wind. Sam felt the icy tendrils of a ghost on his arm – he was sure of that now – and the next thing he knew was falling, unable to regain his balance. The last thing he heard was Mark shouting his name and he knew with absolute certainty that this was far from over. And then everything went dark.
I've looked at this chapter so many times that any attempts to edit were kind of futile. Sorry for the mistakes, and again, apologies for the wait. Thanks for reading! My next update will be much quicker.