Title: From Yesterday
Characters: Dean, Sam, and OCs
Disclaimer/Summary: See Prologue
Author's Note: Thank you all for reading and reviewing! Your comments and speculations make me excited to bring you more of this story. As the boys are left with no Heavenly Healing, the next chapters will walk them through recovery and into figuring out what comes next...
From Yesterday, Part 1: Prologue
From Yesterday, Part 1: Chapter 1
From Yesterday, Part 1: Chapter 2
Sam's morning started off busy.
After having his blood drawn and vitals checked at five a.m., a new nurse came in, blessed the entire day by removing his catheter and several of the monitors and IVs, prepping him to be moved to a new room.
He'd spent a dreamless night barely aware of anyone coming into his room; only upon fully waking had he once more thought of Dean. He asked everyone who came in about his brother, but none of them had any news for him.
Finally, just as he was about to be wheeled to the patient elevator – they'd insisted on him staying in bed, not even riding down on a wheelchair – Dr. Randall stepped in.
"Well, you're looking much better than when I saw you yesterday," the doctor exclaimed. "Looking at your chart, I see a marked improvement in all areas – even your potassium and electrolyte levels seem to be slowly increasing."
"I've always been a quick healer," Sam said, shrugging off his Wolverine-like regenerative powers and focusing on the question of the day. "How's Dean?"
Dr. Randall tilted his head. "This is remarkable improvement, Sam. You keep on this trajectory and we may be able to release you in a couple of days."
"Fantastic," Sam replied. "So, about Dean?"
Dr. Randall rolled his lips against his teeth, nodding. "Whatever antics you two were up to yesterday seems to have triggered your brother's brain activity. Where before he was registering just enough to keep his body functioning, now he's showing a very encouraging spike."
"What's that mean? He's waking up?"
"Not exactly," Dr. Randall shook his head, "but…well, I guess you could say he's dreaming. The swelling in his brain has gone down and it's working to repair itself from the damage of the concussion. That's really good news. We'll keep a close eye on him; I would anticipate we might even be able to take him off the ventilator today or tomorrow."
Sam caught his bottom lip between his teeth. "I want to be there."
"Doc, I can't not be there when he wakes up," Sam leaned forward on the bed. "You don't understand…my brother…I'm all he's got. We have…there's no one…." He couldn't seem to finish, the truth of his words choking him.
Dr. Randall put a hand on Sam's shoulder. "I understand, Sam. But…it's not as if he's going to open his eyes and start asking questions."
"You don't know my brother," Sam replied, an eyebrow raised, remembering that was exactly what Dean had done the last time he'd been on a ventilator. "I just – he needs to be able to see me when he wakes up. He needs to be able to see that I'm okay."
Dr. Randall sighed. Sam stared at him, quietly willing the man to acquiesce.
"Okay, Sam," the doctor replied. "When we see that he's starting to wake up, I'll make sure you're there."
"Thanks, Doc," Sam replied, relaxing a bit.
"One more thing," Dr. Randall said, pausing before he left the room. "I almost forgot. Now that you're awake and feeling better, the police are going to want to speak to you."
Sam nodded, trying to quash the sick feeling coiling in his stomach. What the hell was he going to tell them? The rumors were true: there's a gate to Hell in Stull Cemetery? He scrambled through several possibilities, dismissing each and wishing desperately to talk with Dean.
He didn't have long to think through a plausible story. Shortly after he was allowed a clear liquid breakfast, there was a knock at his – thankfully private – room door. Hitting the power button on his TV remote, he called for the person to come in.
The dark-blue uniform, side arm, and CB mic fixed to the shoulder strap sent Sam's blood pressure up. He was glad the machines monitoring such things were no longer hooked to him. Shifting uncomfortably in his bed, Sam tried to sit up straighter and look the officer in the eyes as he greeted him. The man was older, maybe late-fifties, craggy face and salt-and-pepper beard that reminded him achingly of Bobby. His dark eyes were sharp and seemed to take in the whole room with a glance.
Sam knew he looked tired, rough, four day's beard framing his jaw, but even with that he tried to empty his eyes of emotion and fix an impassive expression on his face as he'd seen Dean do countless times when facing law enforcement they weren't in the process of snowballing. Based on the officer's raised brow, he was pretty sure he just came off as young and anxious.
"My name is Sergeant Kirby Jackson," the officer told him. Sam suppressed a smirk, knowing how Dean would have reacted to the name 'Kirby.' "You can just call me Jackson."
"Sam," he replied. "Sam Winchester."
"So your doctor finally told me," Jackson replied. "As you might imagine, we've got some questions for you. Mind if I sit down?" He gestured to an uncomfortable-looking chair situated in the corner of the small room, near the foot of Sam's bed.
"Uh, no, sure," Sam nodded. "Go ahead."
He had to calm down. He'd done this before. What the hell was wrong with him? How many times had they shown up at a police station, posing as FBI Agents, and convinced the local LEOs to give them access to a closed off crime scene?
This is no different…just a story, like all the others….
"Okay, so, Sam," Jackson started, sitting back and resting one ankle on the opposite knee. He took out a small black notebook and flipped a few pages. "How about we start with what you boys were doing at Stull."
"I, um…," Sam cleared his throat, wishing he wasn't in the vulnerable position of lying on a hospital bed. His muscles twitched with the need to move. "I've been trying to think back, but, it's…it's blank."
Jackson nodded slowly. "Doc said that might be the case. Okay, how about what you're doing in Lawrence?"
Okay, scratch that; this is nothing like the others.
For a moment Sam simply stared at the officer, working through all the possible scenarios he could come up with in that moment, all the ways they could play this, all the lies they could maintain until they got out of there and moved on, got back to doing their job.
And then his defenses dropped, his shields came down, and he looked at his bandaged left hand.
They weren't getting out of this.
There wasn't anything to move on to. They were alone, wounded, and Dean still had weeks of recovery that he wasn't going to be able to do on the road. They'd stopped Armageddon; he didn't even know if they still had a job.
He was on his own in uncharted territory and for the first time since Dean had gone to Hell for him, he had no idea what his next step should be.
"We used to live here," he found himself saying, speaking toward his lap, eyes on the past. "We were born here – probably in this hospital."
Jackson was silent, apparently waiting Sam out.
"I don't remember it; I was a baby when we left," he continued. "But…my brother does."
"He's older then?" Jackson clarified.
"By four years," Sam nodded.
"His name is…Dean?"
Sam nodded again, listening to the pen scratch along the paper in Jackson's notebook.
"Go on," Jackson encouraged.
"We've been on this…," Sam shrugged a bit, "extended road trip. Our Dad died, I was in school. Dean just…wanted to reconnect."
"So, it was Dean's idea to return to Lawrence?"
Something in the officer's tone brought Sam's head up. "Kinda."
"I did a search on your names, Sam," Jackson told him, his expression unchanged. "Seems that Sam and Dean Winchester died in an explosion of a police station in Monument, CO, a couple of years ago."
Sam closed his eyes. Shit.
"Along with a few civilians, officers, and the FBI Agents who were bringing them in under suspicion of several charges, not the least of which included grave desecration, robbery," he glanced up, "and murder."
Sam released a shaky breath.
"So, why don't you tell me who you really are?" Jackson prompted, letting his foot hit the floor and leaning forward.
Sam knew he had a choice. He was clever, ingenious. He'd not gotten into Stanford all those years ago on his looks. He could take the story sideways from here, play through, find an escape route. If he got to Dean in time, he could give his brother enough to keep the story going.
Or he could just let go of the pretense. For once, sit squarely inside the truth.
Everything changes from this point forward.
He looked over at the officer, his eyes steady, expression serious. "My name is Sam Winchester. I was born on May 2, 1983, to John and Mary Winchester, right here in Lawrence. My brother's name is Dean. He was born January 24, 1979. We are not murderers. And we are not dead."
Jackson held Sam's gaze for nearly a minute. Then, sighing as if to say so we're going to play it that way, are we, he flipped a page in his notebook. "Who's the old man?"
Sam flinched. "Old man?"
Jackson's eyes went hard for the first time. "Yeah, Sam. The old man with his neck broke lying next to an old Colt pistol and pile of blood and guts in Stull Cemetery."
Pain. Turning. Bobby. The feel of brittle bones in an invisible grip. His soul screaming.
"Bobby," he choked out.
Jackson nodded, his brows pulling together at Sam's broken tone. "Bobby Singer," he agreed, sitting back slowly as if surprised Sam had told him the truth. "Found his wallet in his back pocket. Lives in South Dakota."
Sam reached up and dragged a hand down his face; his skin was clammy and he felt light-headed.
"So, tell me this," Jackson demanded. "If you and your brother are who you say you are, and you were just heading back for a trip down memory lane, how did a junkyard owner from South Dakota ended up at a broken-down cemetery in east Kansas?"
"It's a long story," Sam all-but whispered.
"I got time," Jackson replied.
Sam looked over at him, sizing the man up, wishing with everything in him that Dean were standing next to him. His brother had always been Sam's balance in ways he knew Dean would never understand. Sam trusted Dean, depending on his knack for reading people. He needed to know if he could trust this man.
Something in his expression seemed to soften the hard edge in Jackson's eyes. The officer leaned forward once more, elbows on knees, his voice softening.
"You can talk to me, Son," he encouraged.
Sam knew this could be a ploy. A tactic. Good cop-bad cop inside the same cop.
But he was lost.
"I just wish." Sam took a breath, looking down at his lap, suddenly, infinitely weary. "I wish my brother were here."
A nurse walked in, glancing apologetically between Sam and Jackson.
"Sorry, Officer," she said. "Can you wait outside? We need to change his dressing."
Jackson frowned as if only just remembering that Sam had been through something significant. "I guess you're too banged up to run off on me," he said, heaving himself to his feet. He narrowed his eyes at Sam. "Don't think you're gonna leave your brother anytime soon, either."
Sam shook his head.
"I'll be back tomorrow," Jackson told him. "Be ready to tell me this long story of yours."
"Jackson," Sam called as the officer started out of the room. He waited until the officer looked back at him. "Those charges – the ones Hendrickson had on us – they're not true."
Jackson lifted an eyebrow but said nothing.
"You can research all you want," Sam continued, "but you won't find any hard evidence to back them up."
"Is that right?"
Sam licked his lips, taking a chance. "If you come back and listen to my story…you'll see what I mean. But you gotta…you gotta really listen."
Pressing his lips together until they disappeared behind his beard, Jackson nodded and continued out of the room. Sam exhaled slowly, giving in to the exhaustion plaguing him as he sank back against the bed, allowing the nurse access to his shoulder and hand.
Sam was getting tired of hearing how well – and quickly – he was healing.
It wasn't as if he didn't hurt. He couldn't remember a time he'd been this sore – as if he'd worked out every muscle in his body to the point of exhaustion, then pushed beyond. His shoulder ached, his hand throbbed, and he was starting to itch all over.
And if he had anyone he could be honest with, he'd confess that the reason he was healing so quickly scared the shit out of him. He'd ingested more demon blood in one night than he'd drank in a month living off of Ruby; he'd had to in order to say 'yes' to Lucifer. But ripping the Devil from his body didn't cleanse him of the tainted blood and he had no idea what it meant that the platelets were rebuilding and repairing his body.
The knowledge that he was healing because of the dark power that had taken him further from his brother than any geographical distance ever had frightened him. What if his powers returned? Even worse…what if his thirst returned? What if he wanted more, like he had before?
The thought – coupled with four days in a hospital bed – made him feel dirty. He couldn't go through that again.
Every time a nurse walked into his room, he asked if he could take a shower. After letting him eat regular food for lunch, and reacting with approval when he was able to actually sleep a bit that afternoon, they agreed he could shower, as long as his bandages didn't get wet.
Which was incredibly tricky as his right shoulder and left hand were wrapped. Reluctantly, Sam agreed to have help, knowing that Dean would have reveled in this situation. The thought gave him pause; Dean was going to need a lot of help in the coming weeks, showers the least of his worries.
"Good news," the nurse who was helping him into a clean pair of scrub pants and shirt that fit over his bandages. They'd removed his IV once he was able to keep solid foods down and stared taking his medications orally. "They're taking your brother off the ventilator."
Sam shot a look at her, his still-wet hair sticking to his cheek. "What?!"
"He's not awake yet," she hastened to assure him. "But he's improved significantly in the last twenty-four hours. He's been breathing on his own for the last two, so they're removing the ventilator."
"When will he wake up?" Sam asked, running a hand down his now clean-shaven jaw.
"Hard to say – it's different for everyone," she told him, gathering the wet towels and rags and dropping them into a basket near his door. "Could be a few more hours, could be a day."
"Get some rest, Sam," she told him. "Dr. Randall will be by in the morning to check your bandages and remove your stitches. Might talk about sending you home soon."
"Don't have a home," Sam muttered without thinking.
"Oh, uh," she stammered, uncertain. "Well…out of here anyway. That's gotta be good, right?"
Sam gave her a small smile, then waited for her to close the door. He'd been approved to walk laps around the hospital floor to get his strength back. He planned on lapping more than that. After his dinner tray was removed, Sam made every pretense of settling in for the night, smiling at his nurses in a way he could tell reassured them that he planned on behaving himself and getting plenty of rest.
As the noises in the hall shifted from day to night, he stepped out of his room, telling the nurse standing near his door that he was going to walk around a bit, couldn't sleep. She nodded, distracted. He knew there were fewer nurses at night and counted on that fact to mean his room wouldn't be checked again for several hours. With no machines beeping to alert anyone, and shift change not for eight more hours, he figured he had plenty of time.
Unobserved, he stepped onto an elevator, heading to the CCU floor. He had to lean against the wall, gripping the railing with a weak right hand. The walk to the elevator had tired him out and his back seemed to throb with even the shallowest of breaths. When the door opened on CCU, he had to take a breath before pushing away from the support of the wall.
There was more activity on this floor, but he was able to move quietly behind normally-observant nurses to Dean's room. This would be trickier; Dean was hooked up to several machines and nurses would be checking in on him more often. But Sam was willing to take that risk.
He needed to be here; it was simple as that.
Dean's room was dark when Sam entered. There was a too-clean smell to everything. It was unnatural to associate that with his raucous brother. Dean got his hands dirty. He smelled like leather and gun oil, sweat and alcohol, the outdoors. He was motion and noise. Even when he was sitting, his eyes were constantly roving – as if he were looking for escape routes, checking for weapons. Sam wasn't even sure if Dean were aware he did that, but Sam had grown up counting on it.
It was because of Dean's motion that Sam had been allowed to be still. Sam knew he was seen as the grounded one, the sensible one, where Dean was explosive and reckless. Sam thought it ironic that those he'd encountered saw him as the emotional center of their family with Dean as the hurricane raging about.
Sam knew it was actually exactly opposite but the only one to really ever see that was Dean. His brother looked at him in a way unique from all others – even Bobby. Dean saw the other side of Sam's eyes; the noise inside the quiet. Dean was the heart of their broken, scattered little family. He was the force that kept them together – often times at the cost of his own safety, security, soul.
And Sam knew that if he didn't get that back – if he didn't get Dean back – then he may as well have died back at Stull.
Moving to the far side of the room, Sam carefully drew up a chair to sit near Dean's bed. Without the vent tube inserted into his mouth, Dean seemed better – bruised and bandaged, but not quite as fragile. The swelling had gone down around his jaw and eye and now he just looked beat-to-hell rather than half-dead.
"Hey, man," Sam breathed into the forced quiet of the room. "Came back as soon as I could."
He cleared his throat softly, looking around at the shadows that clung to the walls, the machines, the curtains.
"You in here, Dean?" He asked. "I don't have a Ouija board this time. But. Y'know."
He didn't know what he expected – or hoped for. Dean's spirit had been able to communicate with him once before, but he'd been hovering close to death then, a reaper on his tail. Sam glanced at his brother, hoping that wasn't the case this time. He didn't have anything left to trade.
"You're getting better," Sam told him. "And I'm glad, too, because I don't know…I can't figure out what to do. I kinda started to tell the cops the truth." He dragged his hand down his face, tugging slightly on his bottom lip. "I can't think of anything else to do."
He looked at Dean's hand. He wasn't quite ready to touch his brother again. Even though that was the entire reason he'd crept in here.
"Bobby's gone, Dean. And Cas…I don't even know. I don't think he's dead, but…well, pretty sure that blood at Stull is his. My memory is sketchy to say the least, but I do remember how pissed Lucifer was when he saw Cas. I tried to pray to him, but…nothing."
It had been a half-hearted prayer, said right before he drifted off to sleep, like a child kneeling before their bed reciting words by rote. It had been less of a where are you, please come back and more of a how did you let this happen.
Sam was angry. And if he couldn't take it out on his brother who'd allowed himself to be beaten nearly to death so that Sam wouldn't be alone, he was going to take it out on the angel whose brothers got them into this mess in the first place.
"The Impala is safe for now. At the police impound," he said. "Doesn't sound like they've found the weapons yet. But, I gotta get out of here and get it back before they start taking it apart."
Watching Dean's face as closely as he was, Sam was able to pick up on a slight frown, even in the dimly lit room.
Lips twitched. Brows drew close.
Sam leaned forward, stopping just short of grabbing his brother's hand. Dean didn't open his eyes, but he looked troubled. As if caught in a bad dream.
"Listen, Dean, I'm gonna," he paused, licked his lips, searched for words. "I'm gonna try something. I don't know what happened before, but…well, back at Stull there was this moment where—"
Where his life had flashed before his eyes.
It was the only frame of reference he could find to categorize the slam of memories that had stunned Lucifer long enough for Sam to surge forward, grabbing control of his own body, hanging on and denying the devil his supposed due. The rush of sound and sensation and blurred, distorted images he'd experienced when he touched Dean the day before had felt like that, only jumbled, confused, and painful.
"I don't know how, or why," he said, his voice sounding ragged in his ears, "but I think something happened when...when you didn't let me fall into the Pit." He glanced helplessly around the room. "If you are hanging out here, watching me…don't make fun of me for this. But, uh," he shrugged, a helpless, slightly hysterical laugh slipping out. "I gotta test the theory."
Taking a slow, steadying breath, Sam touched Dean's leg, the blanket creating a barrier between them. Nothing. Dean breathed, eyes rolling slowly beneath his lids. Sam swallowed, then reached up and carefully ran his hand over the top of Dean's head, smoothing his brother's short hair. Nothing. Monitors beeped, voices murmured in the hall outside.
Licking his lips nervously, Sam reached out with his right hand, hovering over the back of Dean's left for a brief moment, then grabbed his brother's hand in a tight grip. It was instantaneous, immediate. And much less confusing than the day before.
Images. Sensations. They flooded him, crashing against him with an almost physical force that had him rocking back in his chair. He felt his breath hammering through parted lips, but he couldn't tell if his eyes were open or closed, it all came at him so fast.
There was no clear order, but Sam knew now he was seeing Dean's memories, seeing the world through Dean's eyes, hearing what Dean had heard. He saw their dad, young, tired, blood on his face, a knife in his hand, holding a small body and yelling over his shoulder. He saw himself as a boy, sleep-tousled hair, eyes puffy from crying, curling close as if in search of comfort. He saw a reaper, hideous, ancient face, blank eyes, cruel lips pulled back in a grimace, as it reached forward.
He saw Anna, felt her soft lips, heard her sigh, smelled her hair. He saw the underside of the Impala, felt oil dripping on his face. He saw a strange face with black eyes, felt fear surge just before a blade flashed and his flesh was parted and agony ripped through him. He heard Dean's voice calling his name, profound loss and denial tearing at his heart. He felt the weight of a body in his arms and blood on his hands.
He felt heat and pain and cold and fear. He heard his father's voice, rumbling low, filled with regret, saying words that he couldn't make out and didn't want to know. He heard his own laugh, light, clear, so happy his heart broke. He heard Dean's voice singing along to Bon Jovi. He heard Dean's screams as pain the likes of which he couldn't comprehend enveloped him. He saw himself walking away, getting on a bus. He saw himself yelling at their dad. He felt John's arms wrap around him, felt the lump of tears at the back of his throat.
He saw Jo, bleeding to death. He saw Dad, wrapped in a sheet on a burning pyre. He saw Bobby, neck broken. He saw Castiel explode in a shower of blood and flesh. He saw himself on his knees in the mud, eyes dimming. And then he saw his hands – no, no not his hands…Dean's hands. They were covered in blood, shaking, empty.
"Nnngghh!" He jerked away from Dean, forcing himself to release his brother's hand, trying not to cry out.
Sam was dizzy, sick, close to hyperventilating as he fought for control. He blinked to clear the tears from his vision, surprised to see he was alone in the room with Dean. It felt like years had passed in the space of the seconds he'd held on to his brother's hand. Holding onto the rail of Dean's bed, Sam tried to find his balance, his wounded shoulder throbbing like he'd been hit. As he caught he breath, he glanced over at Dean – and nearly stopped breathing once more.
Dean's eyes were open.
They were glassy, confused, but he was looking at Sam. Gasping, his skin rippling with gooseflesh and shivering with a mix of uncertainty and anticipation, Sam blinked slowly, not taking his eyes from his brother.
"Dean?" Sam rasped.
Dean blinked again, rolling his head slowly on the pillow as if it weighed 100 pounds. Sam swallowed, looking up at the monitors, totally unsure of what he should be seeing but knowing he needed to call someone now. He stood on shaky legs, pressing the nurse call button on Dean's bed. Dean looked up at him, bringing his brows together, and Sam could tell his brother wasn't all there, was still trapped in the confused web of dreams and memories.
"Hey," he whispered. "It's okay – you're okay." He carefully put his shaking hand on Dean's leg, making sure he didn't touch his brother's skin.
Dean stared at him, trying to frown around the stitches in his mouth. "-am?"
Sam felt the tears he'd forced back surge up again at the sound of Dean's strangled voice. "Yeah, man. It's me."
Before he could say anything else, a nurse stepped in, pushing the privacy curtain out of the way and looking at her patient. When she saw Dean's eyes open, she made a beeline to his bed, grabbing her phone and requesting Dr. Randall call CCU immediately.
"What are you doing here?" she snapped at Sam.
"I—" Sam took a step back as two more nurses moved into the room.
There was a flurry of activity around Dean: monitors checked, lights turned on, questions asked in raised voices to make sure Dean heard them. Sam watched his brother as Dean blinked hard, working to come around, to figure out what the hell was going on.
Activity slowed as the first nurse glanced over at Sam and nodded for him to move forward. Dean could barely part his lips – he sounded like he was gritting his teeth as he spoke – but Sam's name was the only clear thing they could get from him. Sam moved close, resting his hand once more on Dean's leg.
"I'm here, man."
"Yeah, I'm okay." He smiled; he knew his brother.
Sam swallowed tightly. "Yeah, listen, just take it easy, okay? You're kinda…, well, beat to hell."
"Dean? Can you hear me?" A nurse spoke up, pulling Dean's eyes her way. "I need you to try to relax okay? Just breathe easy."
Sam noticed that she was glancing with concern up at Dean's monitors. "Tell him what's going on," Sam told her softly.
She frowned at Sam, but when Dean started to try to sit up, his eyes clearing by the second, she nodded.
"Dean, you need to stay still for a bit, okay?" She put her hand on his arm and Sam watched Dean go still with the contact. "Your jaw was broken; it's been wired shut so it's going to be hard to talk for a little while."
"Thirsty," Dean rasped.
A nurse wet a small green sponge and smoothed it over Dean's lips.
"We can't give you any water yet," the first nurse told him. "Don't want anything on your stomach."
Dean closed his eyes and Sam could see him fighting to focus.
"Can you tell me what level your pain is, Dean?" the nurse asked him.
Dean opened his eyes, looking first at her, then rolled his gaze to Sam.
"He's hurting," Sam told them immediately.
"Dean, can you tell me—"
"Listen," Sam barked, making one of the nurses jump. "He's in pain, okay? Believe me."
She took a breath, her eyes narrowing at Sam once more. "I'll adjust your meds a bit now that you're awake," she said to Dean. "We'll have to wait until your doctor gets here to do anything else."
Sam nodded; Dean just blinked.
"My…back." Dean croaked.
Sam winced, remembering the screws in Dean's ribs.
"You had several broken ribs," the nurse informed him. "You had surgery to put them back together."
She moved to Dean's feet, taking the pulse in his ankles and pressing his feet forward and back, asking if he could feel her, asking him to move his toes. He obeyed and Sam felt relieved that they didn't have to add another worry to the already long list. After adjusting the monitors, two of the other nurses left and the remaining one told Dean to rest, his doctor would be in to see him in the morning.
"You need to return to your room," the nurse told him.
In an instant, Sam's decision was made. He shook his head. "I'm just gonna stay here."
"Mr. Winchester," she sighed. He'd clearly missed his window of opportunity to charm this one. "You're still recovering from your own wounds. Your brother needs rest."
"I won't bother him," Sam said. "I'll stay on the couch."
Pressing her lips tight she took a breath. "Mr. Winchester. You won't do him any favors if you—"
"Listen," Sam told her, straightening up to his full height, and forcing her to tip her head back to keep eye contact. "Call whoever you need to call. I'm staying here. Give my room to someone else; the Doc already told me you don't have a lot of empty rooms. I'll be fine."
She held his eyes for another moment, then glanced at Dean. Sam did likewise, watching his brother watch them.
"You win." She started out of the room, but then her shoulders dropped slightly. "I'll bring you a pillow and blanket."
He smiled. Maybe he'd charmed her after all. "Thanks."
When she'd gone, Sam stepped back over to Dean. "You cold?" he asked, seeing the slight tremor across Dean's bare chest. When Dean nodded, Sam pulled the blanket from his brother's waist to his shoulders, accidentally brushing his thumb against Dean's collar bone.
This time it wasn't images, and it wasn't long. Just enough of a jolt to cause Sam to gasp and Dean to flinch – as if a spark of static electricity had jumped between them. Confusion, fear, a throb of pain, then nothing. Sam looked at his brother and saw that Dean registered the moment, though he didn't understand it.
"Sam," Dean tried, his wounded lips trembling slightly.
Sam's training kicked in at the sight of Dean's swollen eyes, beseeching his for answers: threat assessment and triage. Figuring out the system-shock that occurred whenever he touched his brother was going to have to take a back seat to getting Dean strong again. Strong enough, at least, to figure this out with him.
"Just rest, Dean," Sam told him, pressing his hand on Dean's covered arm. "I'm not gonna leave you," he told him, letting the significance of the words settle between them.
Dean nodded, his lids heavy as he forced another blink. Sam watched until Dean closed his eyes, his body relaxing a bit into the bed, then moved back to ease himself down on the couch. His leg and abdominal muscles protested, but his back and neck seemed to be getting a bit better. And as long as he held his right arm absolutely still, his shoulder didn't cause him too much trouble.
He tried to relax back against the couch, his gaze resting on his brother's profile. After that rush of images and sensation, he was pretty sure it was going to take him awhile to calm down. He doubted he'd really get any true rest all night, anxious for the next time Dean opened his eyes.
He was asleep before the nurse brought his pillow.
Continued in Part 1: Chapter 4
a/n: Yay! Dean's awake. I'd missed him. Ready to see how he's going to handle all of this?