His senses came back one at a time. First was the smell; the smell of bleach and sanitizer in the air was making his stomach spin. Then taste. His tongue felt so bitter, he thought something might have died in his mouth. Add that to his throat which felt sore as hell and his really dry lips; he'd kill for some cold water. Hearing returned next. Beeping sounds came from his left side. He found them so annoying he contemplated picking up an axe and start breaking whatever it was that was making the damn noise; a headache had already started to set his skull on fire. Sight was a bigger bitch. His eyes refused to open at first. His stubbornness won over though. After a little while, he managed to open them and look around the place without moving his neck much. He blinked in confusion: white sheets, blue curtains, IVs, heart monitors and various other medical equipment.
So, a hospital room. Perfect … he thought. But why was he in a hospital? What had happened and above all where was his brother? He grimaced, trying to bring back the memories of the events that had lead him where he was.
Ok, we were hunting these demons and then Abaddon showed up and … and … OH MY GOD, NO! SAM! his eyes widened and he jumped into a sitting position. Last he saw Sam, he was bleeding to death after having stabbed himself with an angel blade, killing Ezekiel and almost killing himself along the way. They had made it to the hospital but then someone said Sam was not breathing anymore. Dean felt utterly frightened. He had to check on his little brother right away. He had to see if he was alive or … Well, he tried to ignore the second possibility. Sam was alive. He had to be. He couldn't even stand the alternative. He pushed the sheets that covered him over and got out of his bed, tossing away the IV needle that was sticking out of his arm. He should have reconsidered doing so though. He had barely made a step when vertigo hit him and he fell hard on the floor. He hissed from pain and tried to pick himself up only to realize he couldn't find his balance.
Dammit! I don't have time for this shit. Sam needs me! Dean reminded himself, setting his motive to pull his crap together. Fortunately for him, a male doctor entered the room and rushed to help him off the cold marble floor.
"Sir! Why did you get out of your bed? You're still under the influence of medication. You shouldn't be walking around. You've suffered a bad concussion two broken ribs and multiple lacerations. I was told you drove here. I can't understand how you managed to do so in such a shape."
Yeah, doc, try having a dying little brother, your only family fading away next to you and tell me if you'd give a damn about anything else. Dean thought. Back at the demon nest, Abaddon had gotten him pretty banged up and when he came to he didn't have the time to tend to his injuries with everything that happened with Sam and Zeke. It wasn't until they reached the hospital and he heard that Sam wasn't breathing that it all caught up with him and he collapsed.
"You will be able to check out tomorrow but you need to remain in bed until you can stand without tripping" the doctor continued and helped Dean back onto the bed. But Dean did not care at all about what he was just told since the only thing he wanted to hear was how Sam was.
"Doc, I don't have time for any of this. I need to see my brother. Please, can you tell me how he is?" Dean asked, eager to know but simultaneously afraid of the answer. The doctor took in a long breath that held in for a moment and looked very hesitant to answer. Dean could no longer hide his uncontrollable worry and terror and gripped the doctor's shirt.
"Tell me! Please, tell me he's not … Please!" Dean begged now on the verge of crying.
The doctor didn't try to take Dean's hand off. He knew how these things went. He'd been working in hospitals for a long time to know well how people reacted to their family getting seriously hurt. Instead, he put one hand on Dean's shoulder.
"He's still alive, sir. Calm down. But … "
ALIVE. Dean heard the one word he needed to hear. He sighed heavily and went on to process the other word. BUT. He wasn't very fond of this one. It never meant anything good. He let go of the doctor's shirt and decided to receive the rest of the information.
"But … what? Come on! Don't keep me in the dark! I have to know. He's all I got. And I'm all he's got. Tell me!"
"Your brother was in a very critical condition when you brought him in. His heart stopped twice but fortunately we were able to revive him by combining CPR and defibrillation. The stab wound was very serious. Whatever blade went through his abdomen punctured several of his vital organs. We managed to repair the damage on the majority of them during the surgery he underwent but we are still very worried about the damage on his liver. As you can understand he has lost a lot of blood and we have been providing him with more to replenish it. He's not breathing on his own and that's another thing to worry about. He's on a ventilator. We've moved him to the ICU and we've been monitoring him closely. We won't know more until he wakes up. If he wakes up …"
Dean wanted to scream and burn everything to the ground. If he wakes up? What's that supposed to mean? Sam is not supposed to be here in the first place. He was in the same state only a few months ago and once again he's found himself near death.
What was there left to do? There was no one to heal him, no one to turn this around. Dean had nothing this time. No good options, no bad options. He just had to hope that his brother was strong enough to win this battle on his own.
"If … he wakes up? You're telling me that my brother might not make it?" Dean looked at the doctor with an expression equal to that of a little child, helpless and scared who had just been told he'd been orphaned.
"I'll be honest with you. The odds are not particularly in his favor. The next 36 hours are very critical. But if he survives that long, I firmly believe he has a good chance of pulling through.
36 hours. They sounded more like 36 years to Dean. He'd try to keep it together though, for Sam's sake. He'd be next to him until he'd open his eyes. Because Sam would. He was a fighter. Dean had made sure to raise him as one. Now he had to stay by his side and pray to the absent God to help his brother beat this and come out a winner. He figured after everything they'd given, after everything they'd sacrificed, He owed them that much.
"I want to see him. I have to be with him" Dean announced decisively.
"Sir, I told you, you need to rest for a bit longer. You're no good to your brother if you collapse again"
"I'll be fine. I can rest when I know his life is no longer in danger. Now, you can either take me to him or I'll have to start searching by myself."
The doctor tried to protest but he dropped it as soon as he realized how serious Dean was. He was glaring at him as if ready to attack like a wild dog but at the same time he seemed so sad and broken that he no longer felt the urge to reason with him.
"I guess, I can't talk you out if this. Fine, I'll get a nurse to bring you your clothes and help you get to your brother's room"
Dean nodded a thank you and the doctor went to do what he promised. Five minutes later, a brunette nurse came into Dean's room and handed him his stuff. She waited outside until Dean was ready. It took Dean more time than he wanted to put his clothes on. His body ached and his head pounded like crazy. He had to steady himself against the wall twice so as to not faceplant like the last time. When he got out, the nurse noticed that he was a bit pale and disoriented.
"Sir, are you sure you're ok to walk?" she kindly asked.
"Yeah, I'll be ok" he replied with uncertainty in his voice.
"Alright, follow me please"
They had made only a couple of steps before Dean had to support himself again, this time on a vending machine they were passing by in the long hospital corridor.
"Let me help you" the nurse offered and Dean didn't turn the help down.
She put one arm around his waist and with the other she held his hand. He felt a little embarrassed but he knew it would be better if he reached Sam conscious and in one piece. A whole lot quicker too, given he wasn't very good on his feet.
When they finally arrived at the room, Dean froze in place. Sam was hooked up to many different wires and machines. He looked so young and innocent, so still and small lying in the hospital bed despite his gigantic size. The nurse helped Dean sit into a chair next to Sam's bed and told him to page her in case he needed anything. He thanked her for her assistance and gave her a weak smile. Once left alone, Dean took an even more thorough look at Sam. A ventilator tube was set down his throat doing the breathing job for him.
"This is so wrong. So wrong! Why can't I be in your place? Why did you do this to yourself, Sammy?" Sam's face was so ghostly pale as if the blood had been drained from him entirely.
Close Dean thought. There was a blood bag next to the IV one, supplying Sam with what he had lost. Dean took his brother's hand in his and turned his gaze upon him, wishing Sam was looking back at him with that puppy dog expression he'd often pull that made even the 35 year old man give in.
"Sammy, it's me, Dean. I'm here little brother. I'm not going anywhere. And neither are you, you hear?" Dean didn't even bother stopping his tears from falling down.
"Sam, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry for everything. I wish with all my heart I could trade places with you. But I can't. And I can't turn back time and correct the wrongs I've done. You need to understand what I did, I did for you. I couldn't lose you then and I can't lose you now. Please, man … Just, wake up! And if you want to hate me that's fine. Even if you never want to see me again, I will not try to convince you otherwise. All I need to know is that you will be ok. Keep fighting, Sam. Cause if you don't and you … you … Well you know, I won't be far behind. Hold on, Sammy"
Dean sat there, next to his comatose brother, holding his hand and asking him to fight for his life for hours until he exhausted himself and sleep claimed him. He woke up later in a very uncomfortable position and his body felt rather stiff. He was glad to realise that the medication's effects had worn off and he was more lucid than before. He didn't feel dizzy anymore but he was really thirsty. He checked up on Sam whose state seemed to remain unchanged, stood up and walked out of the room. He was walking steadily now and despite the pain from his two broken ribs he was feeling a lot better. He found the vending machine he had spotted earlier and bought a bottle of water and coffee. He drank the water greedily and took the coffee with him, starting to make his was back to Sam. Before he reached the room though, his cell phone rang. He took it out of the front pocket of his jeans and read the screen name. It was Kevin. The kid must have been worried. They were away from the Bunker for 2 days now. The hunt gone bad had taken place the day before and they should have returned home by now. He pressed the answer button and spoke
"Dean! What the hell, man? Where are you?"
"We've run into some trouble Kev" Dean admitted.
"What happened? Are you and Sam ok? Kevin asked, the concern clear in his tone.
"I'm ok now but Sam … He's pretty far from alright"
Dean went on to explain to him their unfortunate adventures and Sam's suicidal act. Kevin insisted on visiting them at the hospital but Dean explained to him that it was too dangerous. Especially, with Abaddon out for their heads. The last thing he needed was worry about him as well. Kevin didn't like staying behind because frankly he was too worried about the Winchesters. They had become family and ever since he lost his mother, Sam and Dean had practically become his bigger brothers. He made Dean promise him he'd call if he had any news on Sam and told him to be careful.
"Be careful too, kid. And stay away from Crowley" Dean pointed out.
After hanging up, Dean scrolled down his contacts list and stopped on Cas's number. He debated for a minute whether or not he should call him but he was all alone and he felt the need to get some things off his chest. He couldn't go through this again without having someone there and Cas was the only one he had. He couldn't risk having Kevin out of the bunker and Charlie was off to her journey to Oz.
What a perfect timing Dean pondered. He decided to call him. The phone rang a few times and soon Cas picked up.
"Yes, Cas, it's me" Dean replied, not sounding very lively.
"Are you ok? You don't sound ok. Is something the matter?" the former Angel asked anxious to know what was wrong.
"Cas, it's Sam. We're in a hospital. Something … something really bad happened and he's hurt. I don't know what to do, man."
"Oh no … What happened, Dean? Tell me where you are and I'll come find you."
"I don't know if this is right. You're safe where you are. I don't want you to get hurt too. Plus, it's not like I've been the best friend to you lately. I told you to leave the bunker. And Cas … I've lied to you. I've lied to both Sam and you"
There was a short pause but Cas returned with much determination in his voice.
"Dean, I don't know what it is you lied to us about but I'm sure you meant no harm. And I'm not mad at you. I'm really not. We're gonna talk about everything when we meet. Now tell me where you are and I'll be there as fast as I can. You're not going through this by yourself. You understand?"
Dean smiled and sighed. He honestly couldn't stand being alone in this once more and felt so relieved that his friend wasn't going to abandon him. Dean believed he deserved to be abandoned after pushing Cas away but Cas had a different opinion; he'd stand by him through this hard time not only because Dean needed him but also because Sam was his friend too and he cared much about him as well. Eventually, Dean gave Cas the information on how to get to the hospital and they estimated it was gonna take Cas about 7 hours to get to it. He had to take a bus since he didn't know how to drive yet. After ending the call, Dean returned to Sam's room to keep vigil over his brother. He saw the doctor there checking his vitals. The doctor explained that there was no change but it seemed like Sam was fighting and that made Dean's face twist into a smile. After the doctor left, Dean resumed his post on the chair beside Sam and felt a tiny sparkle of hope nesting inside his heart. Sam was fighting and soon their friend would be there with them. Perhaps, they'd get through this. Perhaps, things would get fixed. But Dean didn't know that outside of the hospital, evil was lurking, waiting for the right moment to strike.
By the time Cas made it to the hospital, 13 hours had passed since Dean was told Sam had to hold on for at 36 hours. There was a little less than a day to go. Sam hadn't woken up yet but his condition hadn't gone downhill. Dean was conservatively optimistic for Sam's survival. When Cas located Sam's room, he walked inside quietly and gazed at Sam's unconscious form. It saddened him to look at his friend being like that. What was worse for him was his inability to heal him. He no longer had his grace and thus his powers were completely gone. In the past, he could have just put two fingers on Sam's forehead and the younger Winchester would be fine in a matter of seconds. But this was no longer possible.
"Cas, you're here" Dean spoke and smiled sadly when Cas finished taking in Sam's state.
"I came here as fast as I could. Dean, I'm sorry. What happened? You look hurt too. What was that thing you told me on the phone about lying?" Cas queried. He was worried and wanted to learn how his friends got in this mess.
"We'd better talk outside" Dean said, stood up and lead the way out; Cas followed behind. Dean needed some air and so they got out to the hospital's back yard. They found a bench and both sat down.
"Dean, talk to me. Something's been bothering you"
Dean pinched his nose, ran a hand through his hair and breathed heavily.
"I screwed up, Cas. I really did this time. Sam is in there because of me" Dean said, his words coming out in choked syllables.
"Why do you believe so?" Cas asked perplexed.
"Sam is not in the hospital because someone attacked him. He stabbed himself. He did this … "
"He what? Why would he try to kill himself?" Cas couldn't believe his own ears.
"That's the thing. He wasn't trying to kill himself. He was trying to kill … Ezekiel. And he succeeded only he paid the price too."
"Ezekiel? Dean, I don't think I'm following. Why? What made him think stabbing himself would kill Ezekiel? And why did he want to kill him in the first place? I thought you told me after the Fall, he showed up and healed Sam from the trials' effects. Isn't this what happened?"
"Not exactly … See, Cas, Sam was so damaged from them that there was nothing the doctors could do for him. His insides were burnt and he didn't have long. Not even Ezekiel could heal him. He was dying in front of my eyes, Cas … I couldn't let him die. Not when there was one last thing that could save his life"
"What last thing?" Cas had started to see where Dean was going but he let Dean say it out loud.
"Zeke said he could fix Sam but this was only possible if he was inside him. If he was … possessing him" Dean looked in Cas's eyes but when he saw his horror he quickly turned away.
"Possessing? But how did he get Sam to say yes?" Cas asked bewildered.
"Through me. I told Zeke what to say to Sam and then he went into his mind. Sam said yes thinking it was me trying to keep him alive. I wanted to tell him, Cas! Since day 1! But Zeke said if Sam knew the truth he would probably eject him right away and if he had done that he would have died. So, we agreed to keep it a secret. He erased Sam's memory of that day and the last thing he remembered was what happened at the church. As time went by, he got stronger and stronger. Happier as well! He had never looked better. That's until we went after that damn demon nest and Abaddon showed up. She told him about Ezekiel. Sam managed to get control of him and when he didn't agree to leave, Sam stabbed himself with the angel blade. And now I'm responsible for both of them, Cas. Sam's once again fighting to live and Ezekiel is dead. He never did anything but help us. He's the one who brought you back to life. Charlie too. And he protected Sam all along. He didn't deserve to go out like that. He might have been the one who said you couldn't stay with us at the bunker but he was afraid of the other Angels too. If they learnt what he was doing and how he saved you, he'd become number 2 on their wanted list. Cas … I'm so sorry. So sorry …"
Cas was out of words. He didn't know how to respond to all that. At some point, he felt angry at Dean but the anger was gone as fast as it came. What Dean had done was indeed extreme. But he understood his reasons. And he was alive thanks to his decisions. He concluded not to blame him. Dean had lost so much in the past years and he couldn't lose his brother too. Plus, Cas didn't exactly feel innocent himself after everything that happened with Metatron and the other Angels. Instead, he intended to console Dean and support him.
"Dean, look at me" Cas said sympathetically.
Dean couldn't take his eyes from the ground. If he stared any longer, he would have opened holes in it. When Cas repeated himself, he slowly turned his gaze upon him, red-eyed from the tears that for a long time were threatening to fall and with a shameful expression.
"I'm not saying what you did was right because it goes against free will but I can understand why you did it. I do. And I'm not accusing you of anything. When it comes to me, you should know that I don't hold any grudges against you; you shouldn't feel guilty. I'm alive thanks to you and honestly I'm starting to feel ok with my life. Being on my own has taught me many things. Losing your brother was not an option. I would have done anything to help too. Look, I'll stay here until Sam gets better. He will get better, Dean. And when he wakes up, you two are going to talk and you're gonna fix what you think is broken. Feeling bad about everything isn't gonna help you, my friend. You should think positive and look forward to getting out of here along with Sam."
Dean felt overwhelmed by Cas's talk. At least, his best friend understood him and still had faith in him. He felt a part of his guilt lifting off his heart and gave Cas a smile.
"Thank you, Cas. Really, thank you. It means a lot. It's good to have you here, buddy."
"You're welcome. I'm glad that you're not alone. What do you say? Shall we go back to see Sam?" Cas proposed.
"Yeah, lets." Dean agreed. They had made their way half across the hospital yard towards the entrance when they heard someone calling them from behind.
"And where do you think you're going, lovelies?" a female voice asked.
They turned around just in time to see Abaddon charge them but too late to avoid her attack. She sent Cas flying into the air, hitting against a tree and landing on the ground while she punched Dean twice, making him kneel before her.
"I told you. I always get what I want. You and I are gonna spend some quality time together, lover boy" she quipped grabbing Dean by his neck.
"Leave him alone!" Cas hollered, trying getting to his feet, a trickle of blood making its way from his left temple down his cheek.
Abaddon laughed and tightened her hold around Dean's neck. Dean was struggling to get free, using both his hands to push Abaddon's away, but between the injuries he had already suffered and the brand new blows, he was losing the fight. Abaddon kicked Dean's ribs with her boot and he screamed out of pain; he forgot how to breathe for a moment.
"Stop it!" Cas yelled at her, both angry and scared.
She laughed once more and turned to face Cas
"Give his half-dead brother my best. Oh and if there's a chance in hell he wakes up, tell him he's never gonna see Dean again. This time there's no Angel having your backs, dear" she sassed and punched Dean one more time but so hard she rendered him unconscious. Still grasping him from the neck she gave Cas an evil smirk and disappeared into thin air.
"Noooo!" Cas snarled. He ran to the spot where Abaddon was standing seconds ago and desperately looked at all directions.
Abaddon had taken Dean. Who knew what she'd do to him? Sam was in a coma and Cas was left alone and helpless.
There was no one else to help them. He panicked and put his hands on his head, feeling despair taking him over. His heart hammered against his chest and his heart picked up the pace. He ran inside the hospital, worrying about Sam. He reached his room panting and outright frightened. He sighed in relief when he saw him still in the hospital bed, not harmed further by someone Abaddon could have sent to finish him off.
What am I supposed to do? How can I help them? he asked himself not knowing how to handle the situation. Once more, he cursed Metatron for stealing his grace but he was quickly snapped out of his thoughts when Sam started gagging, choking on the ventilator.
"Sam? Sam?" Cas shouted, approaching Sam and touching his shoulders. He knew he had to call for help so he got out of the room and started yelling
"Help! I need some help in here! Please!" Cas's screams alerted the medical personnel and soon they arrived shoving Cas away. Cas waited outside the door, feeling totally terror stricken. Dean was gone and now Sam?
No, no, no, no, this isn't happening! he felt like crying for the first time in his short human life. His only friends were dying and he was entirely useless. He didn't find the time to break down though as the doctor exited Sam's room.
"Who are you? Where is his brother?" the doctor asked with suspicion.
"I-I'm Sam's cousin. Dean-ah-he had to leave to get something from their home. He left me to watch over Sam. What happened? Is he … ?"
"Huh, Ok then. No, it's not what you think. Quite the contrary. I've got good news. He no longer needs the ventilator. He's breathing on his own. We've placed a nasal cannula under his nose to make sure he gets the full amount of oxygen he needs. Things are looking good for him. I hadn't expected him to do so well so early. He woke up briefly but he quickly went back to sleep. He needs all the rest he can get. His vitals are looking better too but he's not completely out of the woods yet. We'll keep monitoring his condition closely but I'm positive now he will pull through."
Cas smiled at the doctor and thanked him. He was very happy to hear that Sam would make it. At least he had the chance of getting out of his situation. Dean on the other hand … He was at the mercy of the Queen of Hell. How would he tell Sam about this when he woke up? And how was going to bring him back alone? Sam would be in no shape to go after Abaddon
"Son, you're bleeding, you noticed that?" the doctor eyed Cas questioningly.
"What?" Cas was taken aback, having forgotten the blow to his head. He reached a hand to his face and felt the now dried blood.
"Oh, ah- I-I missed a step while walking up the stairs. I felt the pain but I didn't realize I was bleeding" he lied fearing the doctor wouldn't buy his lies.
"Right … " the doctor said sounding not very convinced but neither willing to do something about it.
"Go to the nurses' office and ask for someone to check this up. It doesn't look serious but better to be careful than sorry."
"Ok, I will. Thanks again" Cas responded trying to come across as innocent. When the doctor and the rest of the staff walked away from Sam's room, Cas glanced at Sam through the window and saw him sleeping peacefully.
If only you knew … Cas thought and then went to tell a nurse about his small injury. They cleaned his face, bandaged him and handed him a pill in case he felt a headache later. He wanted to waste no more time on himself and he quickly headed back to Sam. Sam really did seem better, his breathing normal and evened out but he was still somewhat pale. Cas stood above him and wondered how he'd tell Sam about his brother. Should he tell him the truth as soon as he would wake up or tell him something else to buy some time? Whatever the case, how would they save Dean from Abaddon's hands?
So what did you guys think of this chapter? I know, I know, I am so mean with the boys! But what can I say. I am a sucker for hurt!fics! Do you like how this story goes so far? I have lots of ideas for the next chapter but I'd love to hear what you'd want to see. Maybe I'll write it in the story! I think it's gonna become a 4-part story eventually. Please leave me a review if you can! Reviews are love ;) I always appreciate the feedback :D