A/N: Well, getting closer to the end now! Once again thank you so much to my readers, reviewers, and PMers with their continued support. It means so much to me! And as always, I do not own Supernatural or any of its characters. All belong to Kripke and his awesome creative team!
When Dean regained consciousness about five hours later, the first thought in his mind was for his brother's wellbeing. Still groggy from the aftereffects of the medication, Dean sat up in bed, blinking the blurriness from his eyes, and scanned the hospital room for any signs of Sam. Fortunately, the doctors had been kind enough to lay Dean in the unoccupied bed in Sam's room; in a quick glance, the older brother was able to find the younger one. And, much to Dean's surprise, Sam was wide awake, a look of concern on his face. It should be the other way around. I wasn't the one in a damn coma not that long ago…
But a Winchester was a Winchester, and Sam had definitely been awake worrying about his brother. When Dean had finally come back to the land of the living, rubbing his eyes and trying to adjust to the brightness of the dingy hospital room, Sam had let out a sigh of relief. Dean was awake; Lucifer, at least for the moment, had backed off; he had gotten the most restful sleep he had had in weeks. Hell, if not for the whole almost dying and scaring the shit out of my older brother bit, Sam would have almost been grateful for the experience.
"Dean," Sam murmured in relief, in a voice still hoarse from the tubes which had been forced down there for days on end. Dean was out of his bed in a hurry, legs still wobbly from the drugs, and at Sam's bedside, drinking in the vision of his brother, alive and well. He laid a hand on Sam's shoulder, eyes bright, and smiled in relief. "You sure as hell gave me a scare, bro."
"Don't apologize. Just glad to have you back Sammy."
The two sat in silence for a moment, before Dean finally brought up the question that was haunting his mind. How did he come to? Who could have possibly made a deal for Sam's life? He sure as hell hadn't, as much as he had weighed the options. He had seriously considered dropping by at the nearest crossroads for another visit with the friendly neighbourhood demon, but had thought better of it. After all, the last attempt had not ended well for either of them. Bobby was dead, Ellen and Jo were gone, and the others in the hunting community sure as hell weren't ready to stand up on the hot seat to hand deliver their asses to Lucifer.
"You want to know how I'm here, don't you?"
Dean nodded. Damn straight he wanted to know.
Sam closed his eyes, trying to look back at what had happened to him. For a moment, his vision was cloudy, and he remembered how when Dean had been comatose, he had had no recollection of his experiences with Tessa, the woman who had attempted to reap him. And then he remembered that the man in his dream (vision?) had not been a reaper. Visions of a man wearing a trench coat, calling his name, flashed before Sam's eyes, and a gentle touch on the forehead…
"It was weird," Sam began, shifting in bed to make himself more comfortable. After lying in a bed for more than a week straight, the young man was trying to relieve his aching muscles. Dean helped his brother settle in a more comfy position, and Sam continued. "Anyway, I remember hearing you talking, blaming yourself for what had happened…"
So Sam had heard him. And perhaps that barely audible voice, that ever so faint "it's not your fault" had been Sammy communicating after all. Trying to pierce the veil between the land of the living and that of perpetual unconsciousness. Dean was stunned. Had his brother been trying to communicate with him after all? Stranger things had happened to the Winchesters. Hell, those two had cheated the natural order more times than one could count on one hand (a fact alone which was astronomical). So how odd could it be that his kid brother was trying to talk to him while in a coma?
Dean looked up, aware finally that Sam had stopped talking. Dean looked at him, in an obvious what are you looking at me for expression. Finally, Sam sighed, reaching for a sip of water before continuing. "You've always done that, Dean. Always blamed yourself for things that were beyond your control…" He looked at his brother, saw the look of defeat on his face, and wisely dropped the subject. No need to push it after what Dean had gone through in the past few weeks.
"Anyway, I hear you talking, and suddenly Cas shows up…"
"Cas?" Dean asked in bewilderment. Cas was dead. He had seen the angel disappear into the town reservoir with his own eyes, had actually kept his damn trench coat. How could he possibly…
Sam interrupted his thoughts as he continued his story. "I don't remember much, just Cas touching my head and suddenly I'm back in the land of the living. Probably just a dream, though. I mean, Cas is dead, right?"
"Right…" Dean closed his eyes for a moment, reflecting on what Sam had just told him. Had Cas really appeared to his brother in a dream, to bring him back to life? It sounded ridiculous. But then, the angel had appeared in his dreams on more than one occasion, even if only to deliver vital bits of information. Surely it was possible. Or maybe Cas was alive after all? Quickly Dean tossed that thought aside. For one, presumed dead or not, Castiel had seriously betrayed him, even if it was for the "greater good". And for another, he couldn't bear the disappointment if it was true, and the angel really was gone.
It took Dean a moment to notice that his brother was eyeing him quizzically, and he quickly pushed aside his thoughts. Besides, Sam was safe and sound, so what the fuck did it matter how? He was just so damned grateful to have his brother back. Trying to break the silence, Dean suddenly grinned.
"I don't know about you, but I could go for a cheeseburger right about now."
Sam rolled his eyes playfully. "Of course you do, Dean. Your brother just wakes up from a coma and all you think about is your stomach." But he was smiling. The man had gone to hell and back worrying about him; a cheeseburger was the least he deserved after going through that.
"A man's gotta eat. Want anything? Beats the crap they call food here, that's for sure."
Sam gently punched his brother in the arm. Damn it felt good to be back. Alive, with his brother, and, thankfully, without Lucifer taunting him 24/7. Because Sam remembered everything about Lucifer, his torment while unconscious, how he had been forced to watch Dean first be tortured, and then torture others. He shuddered involuntarily, praying that Dean wouldn't notice. Of course, the older brother did, and shot a puzzled glance, but fortunately left it at that. The last thing Sam wanted to share was how he had been front row center at his brother's torture fest…
"Sure, how about a salad? Might splurge and go for chicken Caesar."
"Geek boy," Dean teased, and headed out in search of his clothes. There was no doubt that the doctors wanted to keep the brothers for observation, but both brothers were tired of endless nights in the hospital. Both would be "checking out" very soon.
"Something else bothers me, too, though," Dean called over his shoulder, as he rummaged through the closets for something to wear. When Walt and Roy took you, I was pretty out of it. Yet I wake up in a hospital. Obviously you weren't around to do the honours, so I wonder who did? A civilian? Wouldn't they have called the cops? Because there were no squad cars when I went back to the hotel, no police tape, nothing."
"Have no idea, man."
Dean shrugged, then let out a triumphant cry as he pulled out his worn jeans. "Bingo."
Walt has gone to his car, Sam Winchester's limp body over his shoulder. The hunter calls for Roy, telling him to get his ass in gear or he'd be goddamn sorry. Roy nods, says he wants to pick up a few things first. Beer, take out, maybe a few actual groceries. Walt begrudgingly agrees, and drives off with Winchester, but not before asking him to "take care of the body."
Roy waits until Walt's vehicle is out of sight before he commits to his task. Remembering his late brother, Roy carefully picks up Dean Winchester's unconscious body and carries him to his truck. Winchester is in bad shape, and may die at the hospital, but his death won't be on his watch. After all, he is an older brother too, he knows what it's like…
Before he can change is mind, Roy steps on the gas and heads to the local hospital. He has to do this, has to keep at least one last shred of humanity.