Title: Cramped

Author: Disasteriffic Kaz

Info: Sam in a box. Trapped and injured, Sam can only hope Dean will find him in time. One Shot. Set post 1x04 "Phantom Traveler" Hurt!Sam Comfort/awesome!Dean

Author's Note: Well it WAS a one shot but then Sammynanci and Janice got after me and…here we are because yes, that sick bastard needs to be toasted. Heh heh heh Love you guys!

Beta'd by the always awesome JaniceC678 :D– Friend and Muse's co-conspirator.

**Follow me on Facebook as "DisasterifficKaz" for frequent fic updates or just to chat!

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Sam was close to passing out, Dean could tell in the way he was slow to react, and as he watched, his brother's head tilted over, rolling to the side while his mouth fell slightly open. Dean smirked and sat back. "Sammy?" He asked softly and didn't get a response. "About damn time." He stood, stretching the kinks out of his arms and back and tugged the blanket off his bed. He laid it carefully over his brother's still twitching and jumping arms and legs and hoped he'd get at least a little sleep before it woke him again. Dean brushed careful fingers over the bruises and abrasions on Sam's neck, relieved that they didn't seem to be causing him any trouble other than just hurting. It could have been a lot worse.

Dean laid out on his own bed, leaned up against the headboard and picked up the remote. He turned the television on low and kept one eye on Sam, letting the sight of him there settle the last of the soul-deep terror he'd felt when he thought he'd lost him…when he thought he'd been too late. He shook himself and smiled grimly.

"Not on my watch," Dean promised himself and his brother softly. He didn't know where the hell their Dad was or what trouble he was in, but he would keep Sam safe no matter what. That was his job; watch out for Sammy. He nodded to himself and let his head drop back to the wall, closed his eyes, and let sleep take him for whatever time Sam was out, sure in the knowledge that he'd wake the moment his brother did. "Night, Sammy."

Chapter 2

Sam woke and blinked gritty eyes open. He had a vague memory of waking several times in the night from pain and from nightmares and finding Dean next to him each time. He smiled and closed his eyes again, feeling safe and protected. Some things never changed.

"You gonna wake up already?" Dean asked suddenly.

Sam jerked his head up, finding his brother at the end of his bed and snorted. He let his head drop back to the pillow. "Thinking about it."

Dean smirked and set a cup of coffee on the nightstand next to his brother. "I'm gonna go torch the asshole in a couple hours, soon as it's dark enough." He raised his brows when Sam looked at him. "What? You slept all day, dude. Not my fault."

"You're not going alone," Sam said firmly and started pushing himself up in the bed.

"Well, you're sure as hell not comin'." Dean glared over at him and then rolled his eyes when Sam flipped him off. "You learn that at Stanford?"

"I'm sore, not crippled." Sam took the coffee Dean had brought him and sipped gratefully at it with a small smile for the fact it was his kind of coffee, light and sweet. "I'm backing you up."

Dean gave him the evil-eye when Sam tossed his legs over the side of the bed, sat up, and then had to stop and groan. "Yeah, you look awesome."

"Shuddup." Sam rubbed his sore arms and legs and stood. "Take a shower and I'll be great." He ran his fingers through his blood-matted hair and grimaced. "Definitely a shower."

Dean watched him go into the bathroom, eyeing the spiral rope bruises up his arms and shook his head. He briefly toyed with the idea of taking off right then and leaving Sam behind, but his resourceful little brother would just hotwire a car and follow him. "Pain in my ass," Dean grumbled affectionately and went out to make sure they had everything they needed to salt and burn the bastard's grave and the bones left in the house. He hadn't forgotten them. They couldn't be sure just how many victims there were, but the pile around the coffin where he'd found Sam had been a little heart-wrenching. That was a lot of people who had died screaming, alone and terrified. He shuddered with how close Sam had come to being one of them.

Sam turned off the shower and leaned against the wall for a moment with a groan. Standing up under the hot spray and washing his hair the three times it had taken to get all the blood out had taken what little energy he had. He pushed himself straight and got out. If Dean figured out just how exhausted and sore he still was, his brother would find a way to keep him from going with him tonight, probably up to and including handcuffing him to the bed, and Sam wasn't about to let that happen. He dressed and pulled his flannel on, figuring if Dean couldn't see all the bruises he might forget about them, and went out.

Dean rolled his eyes at his fully-clothed little brother; like he wouldn't remember just how badly his arms and legs were abraded from the ropes because he had a shirt on? "And maybe if you put a scarf on, I'll forget about all those ropes burns on your neck, dude."

"What?" Sam stared and then groaned, putting a hand to his abused throat. He gave a rueful smile and dropped into a chair at the table. "Ok. Fine. Yeah, I'm sore but I can still back you up, and you need it." He rubbed a hand over his head and sighed as it pounded with a headache. "I still can't remember how he got the drop on me. I'm not letting you go alone."

Dean frowned, not liking the reminder that Sam had been concussed enough to lose time. That was never a good thing. He got up and went to him, knelt, and grabbed his chin in his hand. "Look up."


"Don't gimme crap." Dean glared until Sam obeyed and looked up. His eyes still looked a little glassy, but his pupils were even and Dean sighed. "Alright; but you're eating something before we go do this tonight. Come on."


Sam sat miserably in the rain above the grave while Dean dug and pushed his wet hair out of his eyes yet again. He smirked, knowing he could be a lot more miserable as he watched his big brother, six feet down in a muddy grave, shoveling dirt while the sides began to run with mud and threaten to cave in on him. "You sure you don't wanna switch?" Sam called, knowing full-well what the response would be.

Dean looked up and saw the smile on his face and snarled. "You keep grinnin' at me like that and I will let your ass down here to dig!" He wiped his sleeve over his eyes, clearing rain water and mud out of them, and bent back to the grave. If he didn't strike wood soon, he was going to call it a night and leave it until the damn flood stopped. He would have loved to give Sam the shovel, but no matter what his little brother said, he knew how badly his arms and legs were bruised, and standing knee deep in mud with a shovel wouldn't do him any favors. "Probably get a damn infection on top of it," Dean grumbled and thrust the shovel into the dirt again where it banged hollowly on something solid. "Yahtzee!"

Sam shifted his grip on the shotgun and stood straighter; this was usually when the spirit of whoever they were about to send on would figure out something was up. He pulled Dean's EMF out of his pocket, fingers slipping on the ziplock baggie they'd put it in. "Nothing yet!"

"Two minutes!" Dean called up and went back to scraping mud off the lid of the coffin. The rain running into the grave kept sluicing it back and made him growl. "Ok, maybe five minutes. Dammit!" He stopped for a moment and stared at it, trying to decide how best to get to the bones and burn them without the rain ruining the whole plan and washing the lighter fluid away.

Sam scanned the dark graveyard around them while more shovels of wet dirt came flying up out of the open grave. "How are you gonna get him to burn?" He yelled down.

"Got a plan!" Dean cleared a trench along the side of the casket that would flip open, digging another foot down. "Toss me the bag!"

Sam grabbed the backpack and dropped it over into the grave into Dean's waiting hands and then spun as the EMF in his hand started to whine. "Whatever you're gonna do, hurry up! We've got company!"

"Dammit." Dean took out his knife and jammed it into the casket's seam. Breaking it open would have been a hell of a lot easier but it also would mean letting the rain pour in and ruin any chance he had, so he jimmied the lid instead. It popped with a hiss of escaping air and a foul smell. "Yech." He covered his nose for a moment and then dug in the bag for the salt. He raised the lid only enough to see the glint of white bone inside and sprayed salt from the container over them heavily before he let it drop again and went back to the bag for the lighter fluid.

Sam felt the temperature drop and could almost see the falling rain becoming sluggish as it started to freeze. He brought the muzzle of the shotgun up and spun. "Shit!" He cursed, finding the enraged spirit of Lara's lover just behind him. He fired at the same moment he was lifted from his feet and thrown. "Dean!"

"Sammy?" Dean stood up in the grave in time to watch his little brother go flying over him and crash into a statue that cracked under the impact, broke, and landed in a heap with him. Sam's shotgun fell into the grave and Dean scooped it out of the mud. "Son of a bitch!" He was torn between wanting to run to his brother and needing to finish the job. He snarled and grabbed the lighter fluid. "Hang on, Sam." Dean knelt next to the casket again and slipped the bottle half inside, squeezing the fluid out while keeping it closed to the keep the rain out. He raised the shotgun in his left hand and fired when the bastard's spectral form appeared over the grave. "You're lucky I can't get my hands on your ass, pal!" He emptied most of the lighter fluid into the casket and used the bottle to prop the lid open a bare inch then took out his Zippo.

"Fun's over, you sick son of a bitch," Dean growled angrily and spun the wheel, grateful beyond words when the flame caught in spite of the rain, and he tossed it into the casket. For a moment, there was nothing, and then he heard the crackle of fire and flames began to lick out through the crack. Dean stood and went to the other end of the grave to climb out so his efforts wouldn't dump mud into the open casket and put out the fire. He looked up in time to watch Lara's murderous lover go up in a ball of flame, his rage-filled scream echoing through the cemetery, and then he was gone.

"Good riddance." Dean tossed the shotgun up and then jumped. He slipped and slid in the mud, cursing and then managed to find enough purchase to climb out and roll away. "Sammy?" He looked over, and seeing that Sam was moving in the rubble of the statue allowed him to take a breath as he walked over and dropped down next to him. "Shit, dude. You're gonna give me a heart attack. You ok?"

Sam moaned softly, pushing something heavy off his chest and opened his eyes to find a piece of the statue's arm there. "Think so."

"Come on. Lemme get a look at you." Dean took his brother's arm and pulled him up, sitting him back on the base of the destroyed statue. "How many fingers am I holding up?"

Sam rolled his eyes and slapped at his brother's middle finger. "Very funny."

"You take another hit to the head?" Dean asked, running his fingers through his brother's wet mop of hair in search of new wounds only to have his hands shoved away.

"No. My head's fine thanks." Sam groaned and held a hand to his chest. "Ribs, on the other hand…ow."

"Yeah, that looked like it hurt." Dean pulled out his flashlight and bent, flicking it on. "Up." He waved a hand and Sam pulled his shirt up. "Ouch," Dean said on seeing the livid bruising already starting to appear on his right side. "You're lucky if nothing's broken."

Sam hissed in a breath while Dean pressed his fingers into his sides, checking his ribs and saw stars for a moment when he found a particularly tender spot. He opened his eyes and realized his head had dropped forward and was resting on his brother's shoulder while Dean kept a hand on the back of his neck and spoke to him.

"Sammy? Take a breath, dude. You're ok."

"Sorry," Sam managed finally and picked his head back up. He took a slow, careful breath around the fresh pain and grimaced.

Dean sighed in relief and patted his shoulder before slipping a hand under it. "Doesn't feel like it's broken, but it's gonna hurt like hell for a while. Let's go. Bed for you."

Sam shook his head. "Lara. We have to check on her."

Dean rolled his eyes. "Come on, man. She can wait one more…"

"She's waited twenty years with that sadistic bastard terrorizing her, Dean. We have to make sure she's moved on. Please?" He looked up at his big brother with every ounce of 'puppy dog' he could put into his eyes and smiled when he saw the moment Dean caved.

"Not fair, dude. Not friggin' fair. Fine." Dean shook his head and got him standing, keeping a hand fisted in the shoulder of his jacket when Sam swayed. "But you're not doing anything. You can sit in the car. I'll check on her."

Sam nodded wearily and pushed irritably at the wet hair in his eyes. "I can do that." He looked down into the open grave as they neared and the curls of flame on one side of the coffin. "Hey, is that your bag?" He could just see a strap being slowly covered over by mud.

"I'll get a new one." Dean looked down at his mud-covered clothes. "I am not climbing back in that mess."

Sam chuckled and nodded. "You look like a walking mud bath, dude."

"Oh, yeah?" Dean growled and then pulled Sam into a hug, making sure to press as much mud as he could onto him and stood back with a grin while Sam sputtered. "Teach you to be a smart-ass."

Sam groaned, brushing at the mud that clung to his shirt and jacket. "You're such a jerk."

"Bitch." Dean chuckled and led him back to the car. It hurt a little climbing into his baby and hearing the wet squelch of mud on her seats, and Dean wondered if he could get Sam to detail the car. He shook his head with a smirk; probably not.

Sam occupied himself on the drive back to Lara's house by trying not to move or breathe too much around what had to be at least a badly bruised rub if not cracked. He shook his head; bruised, because Dean would have found a crack.

"I'd feel a lot better about going back to that damn house if you tried breathing like a normal person, Sam." Dean said it like he was amused, but he got a hand on his brother's shoulder and watched him with concern. "How bad do your ribs hurt?"

Sam nodded. "It's ok," he said and managed to get a few regular breaths by pressing his hand into the ache. "I'll be fine." He even pulled off a smile that made Dean roll his eyes. Sam looked up warily at the massive house as Dean parked in front of it. He still didn't remember coming here or being attacked, and only vaguely recalled escaping the place with his brother. The terrifying moments in between when he realized that he was, for all intents and purposes, buried alive in a coffin, albeit under a floor rather than underground, not knowing if there was even a hope of rescue – THOSE he remembered with horrifying clarity. He jumped when Dean's hand landed on his shoulder again.

"You're not going in, remember? Relax." Dean smiled. "Back in ten." He got out before Sam could decide to strike up another argument and went to the trunk. He pulled out another jug of salt, a bottle of lighter fluid, and a pack of matches, and opted for paranoia as he grabbed the shotgun even though the house should be quiet. He nodded to Sam's tired eyes in the passenger seat and jogged up the stairs of the porch and into the house.

"Lara?" Dean called, sincerely hoping there would be no reply and that she had moved on peacefully. He smiled when there was no response and the meter in his pocket stayed silent and started up the stairs. There were far too many remains up in that bedroom for him to sort out, and he decided the house really needed to come down. Too many bad things had happened in it, and whether people admitted it or not, when enough bad shit happened in one place, it left a mark.

He reached the top of the stairs and started down the hall toward the flight up to the bedroom and stopped as the EMF began to whine. "Aw, hell. Lara?" Dean started walking again and, when he reached the foot of the short flight up to the bedroom, she was there. He looked sadly at her. "You can go now. We torched that sick son of a bitch. It's safe."

Lara smiled and reached out a glowing hand to brush the backs of her fingers over Dean's cheek. "I know. Thank you."

Dean shivered with the chill of her touch and gave a lopsided smile. "So? Go on. Cross over or whatever." He moved around her up the stairs, and when he reached the top, she was there again.

"The others are free now, too, but…"

"Wait…others?" Dean asked and glanced over to the open hole in the floor and the bones he knew were there.

"Once he was gone…they came." Lara floated across the room to stand over the mass grave and looked up at Dean with a frown. "They are angry."

Dean groaned. "Awesome."

"They won't listen to me." Lara shook her head and then looked around as though she were hearing something else. "I talk to them, but…they won't hear me."

"Ok. You should, you know, cross over now," Dean went to the hole and took out the salt, opening the container, "before I do this, because, honestly, I don't where the hell souls go when we salt and burn 'em."

"You're not safe," Lara said firmly.

"I'll be fine," Dean assured her. "Please. Sam'll feel better if he knows you went on your own."

"Sam?" Lara frowned and then smiled. She looked down into the hole at the empty coffin. "He said please."

"That's right. Sam wants you safe, Lara. We both do." Dean upended the salt over the bones and waited for her to look back up at him. "Please?"

Lara's face softened with gratitude and she nodded once. "Thank you."

Dean watched as she seemed to glow brighter and brighter and finally faded with a last, sad sigh. "Good luck," he said softly and finished pouring out the salt, careful to make sure he covered all the bones. The EMF, which had gone silent for a moment, started whining again and picked up in pitch. He rolled his eyes. "'Cause this day hasn't been awesome enough already." He dropped the salt and pulled out the lighter fluid, hastily squirting it down. "Just leave me alone for ten more seconds, and you can all go on your merry damn way!"

The temperature in the bedroom dropped and a chorus of howls went up through the house, the cries of angry, murdered spirits no longer being suppressed by the bastard who'd killed them. "Not good," Dean growled and grit his teeth as a wind picked up in the room. He dropped the lighter fluid into the open hole and fumbled to get the matches out of his pocket. Dean looked up at a loud clatter in time to watch the heavy iron horse that almost hit him the night before rise off the floor and fly toward him. He tried to duck out of the way, but this time he didn't quite make it.

The heavy statue glanced along the top of his head and Dean hit the floor hard, fighting the blackness that tried to take him. He rolled to his side and felt blood trickling down his head and was relieved to find he still had hold of the matches. He groaned, clenching his teeth to keep from passing out while the room felt like it was spinning around him. Dean had to fight shaking fingers but finally got the matches lit, waiting for the flames to catch them all and then tossed it over the floor and into the hole.

"Crap," Dean said weakly and fell onto his back as fire roared to life a few feet away. The thought passed hazily through his mind that setting a place on fire without being sure you could move to then leave said place may not have been the greatest plan in the world. He had a moment of profound regret as he thought of Sam having to deal with losing him so soon after Jessica. "I'm sorry, Sammy," he mumbled, as darkness closed in around him and he couldn't fight the need to pass out any longer.

Sam sat in the car with his head resting on the seat and tried to let himself fall asleep, but he couldn't, not while his brother was in the house alone. He knew it should be safe with the evil bastard gone, and Lara wasn't any harm to anyone, but his gut kept telling him something was wrong. He checked his watch again and saw that it had been nearly ten minutes and sighed. Dean would tease him for being a girl, but he'd take it. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed his brother. Sam listened to it ring unanswered and looked up at the house. His jaw dropped open when he saw the first tendril of smoke rising from the roof.

"No," Sam breathed. Dean's phone went to voicemail, and he shot out of the car. He staggered for a moment, cradling his ribs, and then ran up the steps and inside. "Dean!" Sam shouted and went up the stairs as fast as he could. "Dean? Answer me!" The smell of smoke grew in the upstairs hall, and Sam tried to remember which way they had come when Dean had gotten him out. He turned to his left and knew he was going the right direction when the smoke thickened. Sam ducked low, gasping as his bruised ribs protested, and climbed the short stair up into the master bedroom.

He froze for a moment in horror seeing his brother lying motionless on the floor mere feet from where fire roared in the open hole Dean had made in the floor to reach him the night before, and the smoke billowed up to fill the top half of the room. Flames had also caught the bed and the wall behind it, and were quickly spreading. "Dean!" Shaking himself from the fear that had momentarily gripped him, Sam fell to his knees and crawled over to his brother where he lay. He ran a hand over his brother's head through the blood-matted hair and grimaced, finding a large welt and the open cut.

"Ok. Hang on. Gotta get you out of here." Sam pulled Dean up gently so he was sitting, stood, and burst out coughing in the layer of smoke. He dropped back down and waited until his lungs cleared. The fire was sending waves of stupefying heat through the room, and he knew there wasn't much time. He moved around behind his insensible big brother and slid his hands under his shoulders.

"Gonna…drag you. Sorry." Sam stood again and started pulling, making sure to keep Dean's head below the smoke but had no such help for his own. He stopped every few feet to duck down and cough and suck in a clean breath before standing and pulling Dean's weight again. Sam got him down the short flight to the hall with Dean's boots thumping on each stair and fell to a knee, coughing and gasping. His lungs were burning from the smoke and the pain in his ribs was screaming for him to stop, but he pushed his own discomfort aside. The fire followed them down the stairs, and Sam couldn't help the panic that gripped him with the memory of Jess still so fresh in his mind.

"No," Sam gasped and picked Dean's shoulders up again. His brother was not going to burn alive like she had. He was not going to lose him to fire like he'd lost his girlfriend and his mother. He stood again and pulled Dean down the hall, holding his breath as long as he could until the pain in his ribs grew too much and he stopped again, dropping to a knee to cough and heave. Sam leaned his head against his brother's, oblivious to the blood in his hair and tried to find the energy to keep going. The whole upper floor was burning, and the flames crackled and jumped along like it was chasing after them.

"Almost." Sam said in a hoarse, desperate voice and looked down the long, curved front stairs to the open door. He ignored the burning in his chest, watering, burning eyes, and the need to just lie down and cough, and picked Dean's shoulders up again. Sam pulled him down the stairs, listening to the thump of Dean's boots again over the now-roaring fire. Sweat poured off him in buckets to drip down onto Dean. The heat was oppressive, along with the smoke, and became Sam's personal hell. Each time he thought he could go no further, not one more step, he looked down at his brother's face and steeled his resolve.

Sam pulled his brother out of the sprawling house and down the steps, out into the drive and to the Impala. It was safely back enough from the house that they were in no danger of being caught in the inferno that now raged. He wanted to get Dean in the car and away, but as he fell to his knees behind him and let Dean's head rest in his lap…he couldn't. He curled an arm around his bruised ribs, and they were a white-hot agony in his chest. His eyes wouldn't stop watering and his lungs burned for air even as he gasped and coughed. He didn't realize he'd started to fall to his side until his head hit the ground, and all Sam could do was stare at his brother's legs and hope that Dean would be alright as he gave in to the coughing and wheezing and closed his eyes.

Dean groaned himself awake and frowned, unable to decide what the wheezing bellows sound in his ears was, and then he heard the crackling sound of flames… "Shit!" Dean cursed, coughed, and jerked his head up. It proved to be a mistake when pain slammed through his skull and he lowered it back to… "Wha'?" He put a hand behind his head and realized the soft thing it was resting on was a leg, and then craned his head a little more and his eyes blew wide. Sam lay slumped over to his side, coughing and gasping like a long-distance runner, and all Dean could smell was smoke. He let his eyes travel up and jerked again, seeing that the entire top floor of Lara's house was ablaze and smoke poured from blown out windows and the front door that stood wide open. He quickly pieced together what had happened; that Sam had realized he was in trouble and come in after him and somehow, in spite of his bruised ribs, dragged Dean down a hall and two flights of stairs to get him to safety.

"Shit, Sammy," Dean breathed, a little in awe, and picked his head up again, more carefully this time, but he needed to get to his struggling little brother. He made it to his knees and took a minute to just let his head hang and fight the sudden need to throw up. It passed, and he crawled over to Sam's head. "Sam. Hey. You with me?"

Sam blinked his eyes open in surprise. The relief that blew through him at seeing Dean awake and moving was enough to make him weak and dizzy. "Dean." Just speaking his name sent him into another round of coughing, and he curled around his bruised ribs until his head was stopped by his brother's knee.

"Take it easy, buddy." Dean put a hand to his head and glanced back at the burning house. "How much of that crap did you breathe in getting me out?" He watched Sam shake his head, but he didn't answer, and his worry went up a few more notches. He heard the sound of sirens in the distance and made a judgment call given his swimming vision. Normally, sirens translated to 'get the hell out of there fast,' but considering the shape they were both in, that wasn't about to happen. "Sam? Listen. We saw the fire and stopped to help, and whoever set it, jumped us. Didn't see who it was and we can't identify them. Got it?"

Sam nodded. Dean was going to let them be taken to a hospital, and as much as he wanted to argue that he was fine and they could leave, he couldn't take a whole breath without coughing, and Dean's head looked like he'd been tossed from the roof.

Dean sat, stretched his legs out and pulled his brother's head and shoulders into his lap where he could see him better, propping him up a little to try and help with his breathing. He didn't like that Sam sounded like he was choking on every breath. "Slow it down, Sam." He kept one hand on Sam's chest and put the other up to his aching, bloody head as the first fire truck roared into the drive. "This is gonna be fun."


Several hours later, Dean had bullied his way into a room with his brother and sat on the side of his bed, ignoring his own in favor of being next to Sam when he woke. His own head was wrapped in gauze and he had a dose of painkillers in his system that gave him a nice little buzz, and he needed it to keep him calm. Explaining to the firemen and the cops had been the easy part. The ride to the hospital in the ambulance…that had been hard. Dean's head been pounding and spinning, but Sam's throat had closed up on him. Between the smoke inhalation and being choked twelve hours before that, his gasping breaths had become weaker and weaker until Dean was being shoved out of the way so the EMT could shove a tube…a damn TUBE down his little brother's throat to keep him alive, and Sam had been awake through it all. His panicked eyes had never left Dean's, and Dean had kept a vice-like grip on his leg to let him know he wasn't going to leave him.

"Anytime you wanna wake up, Sammy," Dean said softly and carded his fingers through Sam's shaggy hair and rested it there.

"He'll be fine, dear." A nurse, an attractive brunette, said as she came in the door and took in the sight of the older brother comforting the younger with a soft smile. "His throat just needs a little time is all."

Dean nodded. "Of course he'll be fine." He looked at the tube in Sam's mouth and knew the kid was going to have a minor freak-out when he woke up and felt it. "When can this come out?"

The nurse checked the younger brother's vitals, smiling at finding them where they should be and met the elder's eyes. "As soon as his doctor says the swelling has gone down enough. How's your head?"

"It's fine."

"You're supposed to be resting."

Dean rolled his eyes and bit back the moan when it sent a stab of pain behind his eyes. "I am resting. Right here. And here's where I'm gonna stay."

"Uh huh." The nurse smiled and patted his shoulder. "That's fine. Just don't plan on any line dancing in the next day or three while your head heals."

Dean was surprised into a chuckle. "I promise; no Riverdancing on Sammy's bed." He grinned as the nurse left with a laugh and turned back to his brother. He felt Sam's head shift minutely under his hand and smiled. "Sam?" Sam may have been out of Dean's sight for four years, but Dean still knew every noise, expression, and movement the kid made, and Sam was fighting his way awake. He pushed aside the thought that it was kind of a sad testament to their messed up lives that he actually knew what his brother sounded like trying to fight his way back from unconsciousness because he had heard it so often. "That's it, buddy. Come on. Wake up." Dean rubbed a thumb back and forth over Sam's temple to give him something to focus on other than the tube down his throat. "Right here, Sammy. Open your eyes."

Sam felt something odd in his mouth, in his throat, but it was whatever was rubbing on his forehead that called him back. He opened his eyes slowly, feeling sluggish and dazed, and found Dean leaning over him.

"Hey, Sammy." Dean kept his hand on his head. "Don't freak out, ok? There's a tube in your throat." He watched Sam's eyes widen and stopped the hand he tried to bring up to it. "No, leave it."

Sam stared up at him fearfully because, now that Dean had mentioned it, he could feel the tube like someone had shoved a pipe into his throat, and he felt like he was going to choke on it.

"Take it easy!" Dean listened to the beeping of Sam's heart monitor shoot up. "Hey! Look at me. Do I look worried?" Sam's eyes met his brother's, reading his expression, and he relaxed slightly and gave him a short shake of his head and Dean smiled. "It's only there to help you breathe. They'll take it out any time now so just stay calm. That's it."

Sam closed his eyes and let the hand on his head and the one Dean rested on his chest keep him from losing it. He moved a hand to the right side of his chest and frowned.

"Yeah; your bruised rib cracked," Dean said, understanding the silent question. "Probably while you were dragging my heavy ass down two flights of stairs. Thanks for that, by the way." He saw Sam smirk around the tube and chuckled. "I'm not fat. Pie is healthy." The sound that came out of Sam would have been a laugh he was sure but was reduced to an uncomfortable choking sound. "Shuddup."

Sam was fighting the urge to yank the thing out of his throat and heard the door to the room open though he couldn't move his head.

"He's awake?"

Dean nodded to Sam's doctor. "Couple minutes ago. He wants the tube out."

The doctor went around to the other side of the bed and smiled down at Sam's wide eyes. "Nice to see you awake, Sam. I'm going to check your throat. It's going to be a little uncomfortable, but I just need you to stay still for me alright?" The boy gave him a nod and he smiled. "Alright." He'd been a little horrified when they had brought the two boys in, and the state of the younger brother's throat, with obvious signs of having been strangled, and viciously, had worried him, not to mention the bruises covering the rest of his body that looked suspiciously like he had been bound with coils of rope. Dean had almost forgotten about those and had quickly elaborated on the explanation he had already given to the police to include the arsonist having tied Sam up after Dean had been knocked out. It was a flimsy cover story considering the extent of Sam's earlier bruising, but it had sufficed for the moment, and Dean wasn't planning on them being around long enough to have to try to explain further.

Dean let Sam clamp a hand around his forearm and kept his own on his brother's head while the doctor felt around his neck. "Be outta here in no time, kiddo," Dean told him. "I'll even buy you ice cream. One pint for every day you don't talk." He grinned at the bitch-face that earned him. "What? Bet you ten the doc here tells you to keep your trap shut for a few days."

The doctor chuckled and straightened. "I will indeed. In the meantime, how about we try taking this tube out, Sam?"

Sam nodded as furiously as he was able. He had the overwhelming need to cough now that the doctor had pushed and pressed around his throat and reminded him just how sore it was.

Dean watched while the doctor unhooked things, peeled surgical tape from the corner of Sam's mouth and refused to move away. "Nope."

The doctor looked at him, amused and then sighed. "Fine. Sam? Take a deep breath and when I pull, breathe out as hard as you can."

Sam nodded again and sucked in a breath through the tube, which seemed harder now that it wasn't hooked up to anything. He tried not to gag when he felt the doctor take hold of it and breathed out hard while he pulled. The sensation made his eyes water and his throat burn and ended with him gagging and coughing hard enough that Dean pulled him up and let him rest against his shoulder.

"Easy, Sammy." Dean rested his hand on the back of his brother's neck and gave the doctor a dirty look. Even knowing it was to help Sam, it still pissed him off watching his brother be hurt.

Sam held on to Dean's arm while he coughed, letting his head rest on his shoulder and finally managed a few gasping breaths that didn't make him want to pass out with Dean's hand a comforting weight on the back of his neck. He ignored the doctor's voice and focused instead on Dean's telling him to slow down and he did. "Dean," Sam managed in a very hoarse, gravelly abused voice after a moment but smiled in relief.

Dean grinned and cuffed the back of his brother's head gently and took hold of the back of his neck again. "No talking, sasquatch."

"How are you breathing, Sam?" the doctor asked and bent until he could see his patient's face.

Sam endured the next several minutes of a cold stethoscope on him and being told to breathe in and breathe out and was thankful that Dean stayed right where he was, giving him a support to lean on. Finally, the doctor left them alone and Sam let out a long breath.

Dean snorted as Sam went heavy against him. "Dude, I am not a pillow."

Sam smirked and let Dean ease him back into the bed. He looked up at his brother and the bandage around his head and raised a hand. "Head?"

"Take more than that to crack my melon," Dean chuckled and bumped Sam's hand away from the bandage. "Soon as I'm sure you're not gonna…" Dean had to stop and take a breath and put his faltering smile back on. "…not pull another oxygen-free moment like in the ambulance, I'll bust us outta here."

Sam smiled and nodded. "M'good. Go now," he croaked and frowned at his voice and then coughed.

Dean rolled his eyes and grabbed a cup of water with a straw from the table, holding it so Sam could sip at it. "Soon as you can tell me that without sounding like Death's pack-a-day smokin' grandma, I'll believe you." He watched Sam's breathing slowly even out into sleep, patted his brother's chest lightly, and got up. Dean went over to his own bed and rolled on to it, letting his aching head sink into the pillow and groaned happily, relieved for the second time in two days to have his little brother alive, in one piece, and sleeping in the next bed over, even if it was in a hospital. "No more close calls, Sammy," He said softly and let himself drift off at last.


The End.