Final chapter,

An update in just over a week; not so bad, ;)

Disclaimer: If I owned them, they'd be doing a lot less hunting and more… erm… I don't own them, 'kay?

oOoOoOoOoOo

For the second time in... well, for the second time, Dean blinked groggily through the haze of white that muffled his vision, blinking blearily as another blank, bright ceiling hung above him. He dug through his mind, picking at fuzzy memories as he tried to pinpoint his location, situation and surroundings. He squinted to his left, drinking in the numerous monitors and screens that bleeped monotonously next to him, flashing numbers and squiggly lines that seemed determined to confuse his vision. Turning gently to his left, a drip stood tall by a railing, which told him all he needed to know.

Hospital.

He groaned as he glanced down his body, clad in a gown and a thin blue blanket, and used all his might to pull himself up into a sitting position. Blinking a few times as his head spun, he fell back onto his hands and breathed deeply-

Freakin' oxygen masks with their freakin' drugs and… and freakin' oxygen.

He tore it immediately off his face, scowling at the object which he held accusingly. Tossing it to one side of the bed, he swung his legs over, wincing as the movement tugged at his back. He jostled his memories once again as he tried to search for the source of his pain, throwing his head over his shoulder as he sought the injury.

Suddenly, the door to his room burst open, revealing a blonde, pigtailed, bubblegum-pink nurse who smiled scarily at Dean. "Well," she grinned, her eyes shrinking to dark slits as her chubby cheeks were pushed up her face, "I see the cutest patient on the block is finally awake."

He smiled weakly, rather stunned by her cliché appearance. Christ, she even had a lollipop in her scrubs pocket, next to a furry pen and pink-handled scissors. "Uh…"

She giggled, almost skipping over to his side. "Now then, let's get you back into bed, huh sweetie?" she leaned over to pull his legs back up, pristine white trainers squeaking on the tiled floor.

"I gotta…"

"Oh, you gotta pee? Sure, I'll help ya'. Guess the pain stuff's still workin'," she said, grinning again as Dean flushed red.

"No! No, I gotta go. I need to get back to my kid brother," he mumbled. Damn, whatever medication he'd been inhaling sure was screwing with his head.

She giggled again, nose scrunching as she shook her head. "Don't be silly. You're staying right here until your infection clears up, hun'. I'm sure your brother will come in with your mom or dad during visiting hours."

He shook his head, gently shaking her off his legs as she once again attempted to force him back into bed. "No. No no no no no, my brother, he's… I think he's in hospital too," he said. What the hell have they given me?

The nurse frowned. She reached for the clipboard that hung on his bed, chewing her bottom lip as she ran her long finger down the thin sheet of paper. "Winchester, Dean. Admitted April twelfth, around ten p.m, lacerations on upper back and right upper arm..." she paused, mouth falling to a little 'o' as she peeked over the edge of the clipboard. "You're Dean? Sam's Dean?"

Dean straightened as she said his brother's name, eyes searching her face for any clue to Sam's whereabouts. "He's here?"

She nodded, her naivety suddenly dulled; her pigtails a little less curly, her scrubbed face suddenly aged, her bubblegum-pink appearance suddenly forgotten. She coughed. "Yeah, he was admitted same time as you."

Dean's mind began racing as all possibilities swept by him. He gripped the bed railing next to him. "He's okay? Sam's okay?"

She observed him for a few moments, picking up on his tense shoulders, hard expression, his glowering eyes and swallowed before she spoke. "He's improving. Had a rough few hours last night, but he's doing better."

Dean huffed in relief, smiling gratefully at her. "Thank God."

She grinned back again, relaxing suddenly, pink lips sliding over her white teeth. "Have you got a relative I can call? Your mom, dad, anyone nearby?"

His heart skipped a beat. "Uh, I'm eighteen. I'll deal with Sammy."

She frowned again, raising her eyebrows slightly. "Oh, really? Got some I.D. on ya'?"

He sighed impatiently, heart racing as he stepped off the bed and squared in front of the nurse, trying to look as tall, as broad as possible. "Right now, I'm in a backless hospital gown. Now, how about you go and get some of those form things so I can sign out, show me to my brother's room and give me some underwear?"

She stood stock still, still apparently undeterred by his attempted intimidation. She took a step forward, searching Dean's face with made-up eyes. "Listen, kid," she said softly, "I may be blonde, but I'm not stupid. Dean Winchester, born in Lawrence, Kansas, January the twenty-seventh, nineteen-seventy-nine. So, if I'm right, makes you sixteen? Admitted in '83 for smoke inhalation, and then a clean record until now, correct?"

Dean gaped at the seemingly harmless girl in front of him, her hands on her hips, her eyes victorious. "Uh…"

"What I also know is that this isn't the second time you've been in a hospital, is it? The scarring to your chest and stomach, a gunshot wound and an arm-cast sun tan show you've been here a few times; which also tells me you've run at least one insurance scam in the past."

Jesus, who is this? "Look, lady…"

"What I also know," she interrupted, taking a step back, "Is that your eleven year old brother has been begging for you for the whole time he's been awake, and the few times you've been conscious all you've said is his name… which was pretty damn freaky, I'll tell you that," she giggled.

Dean smiled, heart slowing down a few beats.

"So, this is my proposal. I'll stall insurance for as long as possible, and you keep pretending you're eighteen, if you could- I've hidden your files as far back into the system as I can get it; you're damn lucky I'm the only nurse treating you and Sam. It'll take anyone who thinks too look few hours of cross-checking before they find anything – and keep Sam in here for as long as you can. In return, stop looking at me like I'm a God damn Barbie doll, and get back into bed!"

Dean could have kissed here there and then. He grinned his real grin, the one usually reserved for Sam, and nodded enthusiastically. "Thank you, thank you so much, lady," he yipped, turning to his bed and ripping out his I.V.

"Hey, this wasn't part of the de-"

"You said Sam's been asking for me? Well, I can't refuse that," he said, tugging out the other leads to the monitors, "could ya' get me my clothes? Thanks."

"It's Jennifer," she mumbled, stepping to the cabinet close to the door and pulling out the clear plastic bag of his belongings. "A family dropped off your stuff from the beach, same guys that called the search and rescue-"

Dean snapped up. "What? Who?"

She shrugged, throwing the bag onto the bed. "C'mon, I'll take you to Sam. I'm going to get your antibiotics and pain meds; those stitches are looking a little red still," she said, nodding at Dean's arm.

Dean said nothing as he pawed through the bag, pulling out the threadbare towels, his wallet, his own sweatshirt he'd left with Sam on that day, his torn t-shirt, washed shorts and trainers.

He felt his resolve crumble as he pulled out Sam's tiny shirt and trainers. God, he forgot how little, how vulnerable his brother was. He'd left him on the beach for hours, all alone and out of sight. And he'd nearly died out there.

He had died. For a minute at least.

He felt a lump rise in his throat and coughed it away. "I'll get changed."

The door clicked softly as Jennifer left the room, leaving Dean to wallow in his guilt, his brother's tear stained shirt still clutched in his fists.

oOoOoOoOo

"Pneumonia?"

"Respiratory Pneumonia," Jennifer corrected, standing behind Dean as he stared down at the pale figure, swamped by the bed he lay in. "He collapsed in the ambulance and they recognized it straight away; thanks to you telling them about him getting water into his lungs, they could give him the antibiotics," she smiled.

Dean couldn't take in her words. eHis brother

His brother, his Sammy, was here because of him. No words could change that. "Why's he sleeping?"

"Just tired; Dean, don't worry, he's okay. A low-grade fever overnight, that was the worst of it. He's been awake a few times, but we've been keeping him dosed up on pain meds."

Dean whipped his head around. "Why's he hurting?"

"Just his arm, he caught it on the rocks and it got infected, just like yours."

Dean nodded. "Okay."

Jennifer sighed, reaching a hand to his shoulder. Ignoring his flinch, she spoke comfortingly. "Dean, you saved him. Your body heat stopped you both from developing hypothermia, which is a miracle I can tell you that. It was you who resuscitated him, and it was you who swam out in the first place. You're a hero, kid."

Dean shook his head. "I'm no hero," he mumbled.

Jennifer sighed. "I'll leave you alone. Call if you need anything," she said, bouncing from the room, her flowery perfume leaving a trail of scent in her wake.

Dean cocked his head as he looked at Sam's little face, the mask that covered it fogging and then clearing rhythmically with his breathing.

He walked silently to one side of the bed, the side clear of monitors and leads and screens and scary things, pulling the plastic garden chair underneath him as he collapsed into it.

"Hey, Sammy," he said quietly, eyes running up and down the thin figure in the blankets. He noticed the bandaged arm and winced, wondering if his brother was in as much pain as he was. There were dark, angry bruises that stained his uncovered arms, no doubt from the minefield of rock pools they'd floated into. "Damn, we really messed up this time, huh?"

Dean reached out his own sweating hand for Sam's shrunken version, clutching the cool fingers tightly. Tears stung his eyes as he spoke shakily. "God, I'm so sorry, Sammy. I'm so damn sorry."

Still, Sam lay unresponsive in his subconscious. Dean laughed soullessly, ducking his head as tears threatened to fall. "I shouldn't have left you there, all by yourself. God knows what coulda got you… Probably got pretty bored too, huh?"

The only sign of life coming from his brother was the steady rise and fall of his chest.

Dean gripped tighter the little hand which he held. "Why did you go into the water, Sammy?" he whispered, leaning forward so his elbows rested on the mattress. "Why didn't you listen to me? I told you not to go near it. You can't swim, for fuck's sake!" He slapped his free hand on the bedding, desperate to vent his frustration on something, only regretting it instantly.

He winced at his own harsh words. Wrapping his other hand around Sam's, he said, "I guess that's my fault too though, huh? Should have gotten you into lessons, or tried to get Dad to teach you."

He rested his forehead on his hands. "Please, just wake up for me," he begged, his voice cracking. "You don't expect me to sleep on this piece of crap chair for too long, do ya'?"

Dean sighed as no response came, his own eyes sliding closed. "Wake up, Sammy. Please."

oOoOoOoOo

"D-Dea-Dean?"

Dean stirred slowly, nuzzling his face onto his own shoulder which, if his neck was correct, he'd slept on for a long time.

"Dean, s'at you?"

Dean snapped his eyes open, looking blindly around the room for a second. Eventually, his eyes came to rest on his little brother, staring tiredly up at him, his body sagging as he tried to pull himself up, the oxygen mask tossed to one side. "Sammy?" he gasped, lip quivering. He wrenched the hood of his sweatshirt off his head and threw off the blanket that had been draped around his shoulders. He launched to Sam's bedside, gently helping him to sit up. "Woah there cowboy, let's take it easy, huh?"

Sam nodded, allowing himself to relax into his brother's hold. "W-water?"

Dean tensed, remembering Sam ask for the same nothing out there. "Sure, buddy." He reached out for the plastic cup that was set beside him, gently guiding it to Sam's lips. "Slowly, little brother."

He sipped gently at the cool liquid, looking up at Dean for approval, before pulling away. "Thanks," he smiled, falling back into the pillows.

Dean pulled the chair closer to the bedside, and reclaimed his grip on his brothers' hand. "How you feelin'?"

"I'm okay. 'Bout you? They said you had a concussion, and you had stitches-"he garbled, his breathing speeding up and monitors whirring in protest.

"I'm fine, I'm okay; calm down, Sammy," Dean coached, slowing his own breathing in the hope his brother would follow on.

Sam nodded. They remained quiet for a second before the youngest spoke up again.

"Dean?"

Dean's gaze never left his brother as he monitored his facial expressions, watching for any giveaway emotions that may have emerged. "You okay?"

"Yeah, yeah… I'm sorry."

Dean crinkled his brow. "For what?"

"For going out to the sea. For not listening. For not waiting. For getting you hurt…" the machines starting wailing again.

"Sam, relax. Calm down, please. It's okay, it's okay, I promise," he comforted automatically, "I'm not mad, I'm not mad at all. Look at me, kid."

Sam finally glanced up, eyes filled with fear. "I heard you earlier. I thought you were mad."

Dean frowned, then laughed coldly as he realized what he'd heard.

"Why did you go into the water, Sammy? Why didn't you listen to me? I told you not to go near it. You can't swim, for fuck's sake!"

"Jesus, Sam, you were awake?" Dean asked guiltily.

"No! No, I was like half-half, ya' know? Like, half asleep, and you don't know if it's real or not," Sam assured.

"That's all you heard?"

Sam shook his head, then pulled himself up again, not resisting as Dean leaned in to help. He latched onto Dean's arm, forcing him to look into his eyes. "I don't blame you, Dean. It's not your fault," he said simply, his eyes boring into his big brother's.

And just like that, Dean felt a huge weight lift from his shoulders. Only his little brother made him feel this loved, as if the kid adored him unconditionally. Dean coughed as emotion threatened to spill over his words. "You remember what happened out there?"

"No," came the quick reply.

"Good."

Sam looked up. "But thanks, Dean. You know, for saving me."

"S'okay. Just my job; take care of my pain in the ass little brother," Dean grinned.

Sam smiled back, eyes slipping shut as the short few minutes he'd been awake seemed to take their toll. "I owe you one, Dean."

"Too right," Dean smiled, running a hand through Sam's long hair as the kid fell back to sleep.

As he watched his Sammy sleep, nothing mattered. Hunting, cars, dad, music, insurance, ripped shirts or money were all cast aside as content washed through Dean. And even as Jennifer hurried into their room late that night, pushing Dean with Sam in his arms towards the exit, talking quickly about cops and CPS and scams and God knows what, he didn't care.

Sam was safe, Dean was happy. And for all it was worth, he felt he'd done okay that day. Tomorrow was another story; he'd have to call dad, and get the car, and get-the-hell-outta-Dodge. But right now, as his baby brother lay curled into his side, the little white bag of prescription medicines in his lap, and Sam's forgiveness coating his state of mind in white icing.

Tomorrow could wait.

Today, he'd done okay.

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Some nice little sap there to sugar coat your Monday! :)

For anyone who was wondering; I just couldn't put John in here. I love the man to bits, despite what I may write about him, but I wanted this to stick more to Sam n' Dean, because I'm a twat, :) if you want, I can put an alternative ending. Let me know.

I know my medical knowledge is non-existent, and to find a nurse like Jennifer would be like finding that needle in that haystack- you know the one I'm talking about – but c'mon, let the boys be at peace for once.

Reviews are love.

Poppy.