A/N: thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed, followed or favorited my stories. I'm trying to answer everyone but my internet was down for a few days. (As if my life wasn't hard enough!)

Dean sat in the hard chair so close to Sam's bed that the metal frame dug into his knee, and Sam's hand, curled around the top edge of his hospital blanket, was close enough for Dean to brush with his fingers, whenever he wanted, without even trying.

He'd been sitting there since the staff had gurneyed Cas out and Sam had collapsed back onto his bed to fall deeply and instantly asleep. No one, not the nurses, not the doctor, not the threat of security, not the Wrath of God, was going move Dean from that spot.

"My brother had his brains toasted like a marshmallow on your watch, you think I'm even going to take my eyes off of him? What part of health department, lawsuit and no friggin' way don't you get?"

So they let him stay right where he was, while Sam slept and they readied his discharged against medical advice paperwork.

And Dean hardly did take his eyes off of Sam, watching close for signs of nightmares or hallucinations or any little thing out of whack. Because even with a week's worth of five o'clock shadow, Sam looked so young. Or maybe Dean just felt so old.

"Excuse me?" A soft, hesitant voice asked behind Dean, and he turned deliberately in the chair, dialing up his 'and you're bothering me, why?' face. But it wasn't a nurse. He could tell right away from the bandages and psych-chic wardrobe that she was a patient. "Are you with Sam? Is he going to be all right?" She asked.

Dean's fingers brushed Sam's hand.

"He seems to be okay. He's sleeping, that's something."

"You're his brother?" the girl asked. She circled her finger, pointing towards Dean's eyes. "You look alike, you know? I can tell."

"I'm Dean."

"I'm Marin. He saved my life." She pointed with her chin to Sam. "He – he – got my brother to leave me alone." She sounded nervous.

"Your brother?"

"Yeah – he – um –" She took a few steps closer and looked over her shoulder, probably for prying eyes and ears. "He burned a – a – bracelet? – my brother made me?" She was probably gauging if Dean was going to know what she was talking about.

"And it helped?" Dean asked her. "That took care of your brother?"

"Yeah. Yeah. I haven't seen him or heard him since. But – that's why they took Sam away, because of the fire. He got hurt because he helped me. I mean – he was having enough problems of his own, and he took care of mine. I just – I want – I mean I hope – I can thank him for doing that."

"Well – they're doing the paperwork to get him out of here and as soon as that's done, I'm waking him up and we're gone." Dean wanted to be sure she knew she wasn't going to have a big window of opportunity.

She nodded, like she not only understood but she agreed.

"If you need me to sit with him when you get clothes for him or anything, you know, I will. I don't think they'll let him walk out of here in the hospital stuff."

Dean started to answer with an automatic, 'thanks but no way in hell…' but stopped before he'd done more than take a breath. That first day, the hospital had given him Sam's clothes from the car accident and they were in the trunk of the car. Even if they weren't, they still needed a run through the Laundromat. After all, 'a man gets hit by a car…' and all that. He'd need fresh clothes to leave.

"Thanks. I appreciate that."

She nodded, then seemed to be thinking of something else to say.

"So, he's been sleeping?"

"Yeah, ever since – almost ever since they brought him back." Dean evaded. She might've learned about ghosts; he thought Cas and his mojo might be a little much for her to take in.

"You look like you could use a little sleep, too."

"When I know Sam is safe."

She nodded at that, too.

"Will your friend be okay, do you think?"

"My friend?"

"The man who was with you after they brought Sam back? The one they took out of here a little while ago?"

Dean's brushed his fingers against Sam's hand again. Because he could, because he had to. Because it was all he could do.

"I don't know if he'll be okay. Probably not."

"I'll check on him, until they discharge me." She offered. Dean had to smile at her.

"He would appreciate that. Sam will appreciate that. He's gonna hate that we have to leave Cas behind."

"But not you?"

Dean was taken aback by her direct question and wondered – not for the first time – about Sam's habit of getting involved with forthright women.

"There's only so many things I can worry about at once. Sam takes up most of them."

"That's nice. Nice that you care that much about him." She said, and Dean mentally contradicted her.

"So – he dispatched your brother?" He asked, changing the subject back to Sam. He stood up and motioned Marin to his chair, and he sat on the bed near Sam's knees.

"Yeah, he - my brother – he died last year." She took the chair, although a little reluctantly. "He tried - he kept trying - to get me to go with him. He did this." She gestured to her bandages.

"When souls don't move on, they can get angry." Dean said. "They get trapped and it can be – frustrating. They get angry. They get vengeful. I'm glad Sammy could take of that for you. But, if he hadn't – I would have."

Dean meant it of course, if he'd found out about the brother, he would've taken the bracelet and burned it himself. But he said it as an off-hand comment, just to let her know it would've been taken care of no matter what. She smiled at him, "Thank you," and it was a genuine, nice, no-end-of-the-world-looming-behind-it smile. Dean hadn't seen a smile like that in he didn't know how long. It felt good to see.

"Speaking of trapped," She went on. "You should probably go get his clothes for him. If they see you getting him up and dressed, they might get that paperwork to you sooner. Otherwise you could be here for hours."

"Yeah, maybe." Although as much as Dean wanted Sam up & outta here, now that Sam was down for the count, Dean hated to leave him alone.

"I promise I'll stay right here with him."

"Yeah. All right."

Dean gave a long look to Sam before he stood up from the bed and left the room. The guard buzzed him through the locked door and was buzzing him back in not ten minutes later. He got back to Sam's room to find Sam halfway sitting up in bed, and Marin leaning close, her hand on Sam's arm.

"He'll be right back, Sam. He's getting your clothes for you. I promise."

Sam nodded but then shook his head. He was still exhausted, how could he not be, but he was trying to get out of bed.

"Sammy." Dean called and Sam raised his black eyes to see him. Then he nodded again and let himself slide back onto the pillow and mattress, and he was asleep again like that.

"He knew that you weren't here." Marin said. "He started waking up almost as soon as you walked out."

"Yeah, well…" Dean wasn't surprised that Sam had noticed his absence, although Marin clearly was. He was too tired himself though to offer any explanation. He gestured to Sam. "Can I?"

"Oh, of course. Sure." Marin stood up from the chair and moved out of Dean's way. "If I don't get the chance, will you thank Sam for me?" She asked.

"I will." He promised her. "He'll be glad you're OK." Even if Sam had died, Dean knew he'd be happy that Marin was okay.

She nodded and smiled and slipped out of the room again.

Dean turned back to Sam. He was soundly asleep again, he probably hadn't been that much awake a moment before, when he was trying to find Dean. He'd fall asleep again in the car as soon as they hit the road.

"All right, Sammy. Here we go." Dean tugged the blanket back and pushed his fingers into Sam's hair. He leaned closer, whispering loudly. "C'mon, Sammy. Time to get out of here."

"Hmmm?" Sam blinked up at him. "Dean? We – we gotta get going?" He asked it as though they were just leaving the latest motel room, not a locked psychiatric ward.

"Yeah, Sam. It's time to get on the road. Can you sit up? I've got your clothes here. Can you get dressed?"

"Mmmmm…" It came out a whine, Sam closed his eyes like he was twelve and didn't want to have to get up in the middle of the night. But he nodded and started to push himself up and Dean helped him sit up all the way. He set the clothes next to Sam.

"Cas?" Sam asked.

"I don't know." Dean admitted. He shook out the t-shirt he'd brought and laid it across Sam's lap. Then he unsnapped the one snap at the back of Sam's hospital shirt and tugged on one of the sleeves. "Come on."

"Sorry." Sam said. He tugged the shirt off over his head and let Dean help him pull the t-shirt on. "Sorry about Cas."

"Don't be, Sam. Don't be sorry about Cas. That's all on him. Come on, now. Pants next."

"Nohhhhhhh, Deeeean." Sam whined again, tiredly. He scrunched his eyes closed. "Go check on the paperwork, r'something." He gave Dean a weak shove on the chest with the flat of his hand. "Just – c'mon…"

"Dude – seriously? After all of everything that's happened, you're worried about your dignity now?"

Sam shrugged and pouted.

"Only just got it back."

Dean sighed a heavy breath, damn, yeah, wasn't that true? and didn't stop himself from snugging his fingers into Sam's hair again. In their whole lives, hell, in the last few years, Dean had helped Sam do things more personal than change his boxers. Still –

"Yeah, I know. I'll close the door and just be out in the hall. Just in case. Okay?"

Sam nodded, silently, mutely, his eyes half closing as he seemed to be pressing into Dean's hand still on his head.

"Thanks." He whispered after a moment.


Dean sighed again and reluctantly left Sam to it. He shut the door and leaned against it, blocking the view through the glass into the room. He was so friggin' tired. He hadn't slept in days, maybe even as long as Sam hadn't slept. He felt like they'd won a battle but were still losing the war.

He looked down the hallway and tried not to pick out what room they must've put Cas into. Or maybe he was still out there somewhere in the hospital getting tests. Dean could only imagine what those tests might show. He couldn't worry about that, though. He could only worry about Sam and the slow time it was taking him to get changed.

Finally, there was a tap on the door and he turned and opened the door to Sam, who was dressed and upright.

"All set?"

"Mmm hmmm."

"All right, let's hit the road."

Dean headed for the locked hallway door and Sam followed close behind. They were almost to the door when a cranky nurse blocked their way.

"You can't leave until you've completed the paperwork."

"Then I suggest you get it to me fast," Dean told her. "And you better make copies for court."

That got her moving, sourly but quickly. Dean stayed where he was. He felt Sam nudge up against him, like he hadn't realized Dean had stopped walking, or he needed to lean against Dean to stay standing.

"You okay back there?" Dean asked. He didn't get an answer, but that didn't surprise him. At this point, he wouldn't be surprised if Sam was tired enough to rest his head on his shoulder. "Sammy?"

Dean turned, not enough to move Sam, but enough to see that Sam was looking at something down the hallway behind them. He turned enough to see that Sam was looking at Marin, who was talking to a nurse while they walked the other way.

"You did good, Sammy. You saved her." Dean said. It was nice to get Sam out of here with a win. "She asked me to thank you."

"Glad. M'glad she's okay." Sam said. Slurred. "M'tired, Dean. Can we go now?"

Nurse Cranky was back then, shoving a clipboard and pen at Dean who scrawled his fake signature and then a particularly snarky remark in the 'reason for signature other than patient' box.

"Yeah, we can go now."

He took a careful step forward, making sure Sam kept his feet and they left the locked floor and the hospital behind.

The End.