Sam stirred, tugging at his tangled bedclothes, and blinked through the darkness. Glancing at the glowing red figures on the clock on his nightstand, he saw it was a good six hours since they had settled Dean for the evening, and apart from a few restless moments early on which Sam suspected was down to a nightmare, he had slept soundly. Sam had sat for a good long while watching him sleep until Bobby had stomped back into the room brandishing a toasting fork and bullied him into going to bed.
Dean sounded disturbed.
Sam was sure it was a groan that had awakened him as he lay silently, propping himself up on his elbows. He looked across to the other bed and could see the blanket covered lump shifting uncomfortably.
He could hear panting; harsh pants punctuated by the occasional hiss of pain. This wasn't a nightmare.
Sam was out of the bed and crouching at Dean's side in a stride. He placed a hand over the top of Dean's sweat-dampened head; "What's wrong dude?" He whispered.
Dean looked up at Sam, and even through the darkness Sam could see his eyes glazed with pain.
"H-hands," he hissed through clenched teeth, "hurtin' so bad".
Sam blinked; "your hands?"
"Burnin', S'mmy," he panted, "on fire…" Dean clasped his hands to his chest, burying his face into the pillow to muffle the breathless cry that escaped him.
Sam reached down to take one of Dean's hands, but Dean recoiled; "No, no, NO;" he snapped; "hurts!"
Carding his fingers through Dean's hair, Sam switched on a small nightlight behind him. "Just let me look Dean, see if I can help," he whispered softly.
Dean offered his trembling hands, hesitantly allowing Sam to take one and examine them.
Immediately Sam knew what was wrong; where yesterday Dean's fingers had been waxy, grey and ice cold, now they were livid red and burning hot.
Sam sighed, rubbing a thumb over the back of Dean's hand, holding tightly enough to resist his brother's flinching attempt to pull his hand away, but not tightly enough to squeeze.
"I know this isn't what you want to hear, dude" he whispered, "but this is a GOOD thing." He continued, "It means the circulation is working in your hands, all the blood’s coming back."
Dean swallowed harshly, "h-hurts so much."
Sam smiled, "you know when your foot goes to sleep, and then it feels all prickly and tingly when the feeling comes back to it?" He looked deep into Dean's tear-filled eyes, reading the pain behind them; "this is just like that, except your foot only goes to sleep for a few minutes. Your hands didn't have any proper circulation for much longer, so it's gonna be much worse."
The nightlight illuminated the sheen of sweat across Dean's forehead, and Sam knew this was bad. "We'll get through this together bro, I'm not going anywhere."
Dean nodded, gritting his teeth as he sucked in a harsh breath;"o-okay Sammy," he croaked.
Sinking down into the chair beside the bed, Sam held his brother's hands as he watched the red glowing numbers on the clock tick away the minutes that Dean fretted and writhed, shuddering through the pain. Well over an hour passed before Dean’s discomfort subsided to a degree that he calmed enough to slip into a deep sleep again.
Sam sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. He hoped that was the end of it, as he sat watching his sleeping brother. Some time later, he finally rose, satisfied it was all over, and trudged back over to his own bed pulling the bedclothes up to cover Dean's shoulders as he went.
The red display showed 7.45 am when Sam eventually woke. He stood up on stiff legs, looking over to the other bed. Dean was sleeping soundly, nothing more than a still lump beneath a pile of bedclothes, huffing softly into his pillow; the traumas of last night seemingly past.
Sam walked over to the bed, and crouched down beside the tousled knot of hair which was all that was visible of his brother. Gently tracing fingertips across Dean’s partially buried forehead, he frowned as it still felt clammily warm. Dean murmured softly at his touch, but didn't stir. Watching him for a moment, Sam wondered whether to wake him and cool him down before deciding that Dean didn't appear distressed and needed sleep more than anything else at the moment. He made a mental note to get some Tylenol to help to stabilise Dean's temperature.
Making his way downstairs, he was surprised to find no sign of Bobby. He stood alone in the middle of the kitchen scratching his head, trying to think where the older man might be.
He had just begun to brew a coffee when he heard a truck pull up outside. As he poured the steaming drink, Bobby bustled through the door laden with a big bag of groceries.
"Hey Bobby," Sam smiled; "you're out early!”
"Uh yeah," Bobby grunted, "had a few things to sort out, an' wanted to get some more provisions."
Sam smiled as Bobby dumped the bag on the table and began to unload. Eggs, fortified milkshakes, orange juice, soup, grapes, bananas, ice cream, wholemeal bread, bacon, honey, hot chocolate, and the biggest bag of M&M's Sam had ever seen. Sam shook his head and laughed; "Jeez, Bobby, how long are you planning to feed him for?"
Still rummaging deep in the bag, Bobby pulled out a box of Tylenol, and a big bottle of orange flavoured tonic. Bobby shrugged, "long as it takes," he mumbled.
He looked up from the bag towards Sam; "how is he?"
"Had a bad night, his hands were really hurting him; circulation coming back." Sam replied through a yawn.
"But that's good, huh?" Bobby lifted his cap, scratching his head; "how's he doing now?"
"Sleepin' like a newborn," Sam grinned.
Bobby reached into his jacket pocket, "oh yeah, got a couple of other things he needs."
Bobby placed the contents of his pocket onto the table. "Broad spectrum antibiotics,” he stated; “we need to start getting them down him soon as you like, and I picked up a tetanus vaccine, oh, and the syringe."
Sam looked down at the two small bottles and the needle on the table. He looked up at Bobby in awe. "Bobby, you must have read my mind; how the hell did you get hold of this?"
"Just called in at the clinic in town," Bobby replied nonchalantly.
"How did you get them to hand over this stuff?" Sam's brow furrowed in thought, then his face morphed into a grin; "you didn't break in…?"
"Not exactly;" Bobby's eyes darted round the room shiftily, "I, uh, know one of the receptionists down there."
Sam's grin widened, "oh yeah? You know her huh? Not in the biblical sense I hope!"
Bobby shook his head; "Sam Winchester, that friggin' brother of yours is rubbin' off on ya." He chuckled; "no, not in THAT sense; Marjorie's just a good friend."
"Marjorie, huh?" Sam beamed in delight. "Good on you Bobby, you sly old fox."
Picking up the tablets, Sam looked at the label; "we can take these up with his breakfast." Bobby nodded, adding, "let him sleep a little while longer first; it'll do him good."
The two men took their coffee and sat at the table together in convivial silence as the hot drink worked it's magic.
It was Sam that eventually spoke; "Bobby, you okay?"
Bobby looked up from the mug. "Yeah, I'm ok," he replied with a sigh.
Sam continued, "It's just, you looked a bit, uh, well, you know … last night."
"I think we were both a bit eaten up last night;" Bobby responded, putting the mug of coffee down. "All that stuff last night, Dean's injuries, all that terrible stuff; he hesitated; "I really thought after so many years of doing this friggin' job, there was nothing I could see that would shock me anymore."
He gave a mirthless smile; "I was wrong."
Sam nodded, "it's true what Dean says, we hunt some wicked awful things; but to find true evil, you've gotta look to people!"
Bobby took a deep breath; "you know I love you boys like my own." He smiled sadly, "My wife and I were never blessed with kids before she died, an' I guess you two kinda charged into my life an' filled the gap."
"Well, Bobby, you know that's a two-way street, don't you," Sam replied quietly.
Bobby smiled, "but, that boy up there, what he went through; all that pain and suffering, just to protect me an' keep me safe;" Bobby hesitated, swallowing harshly, "it's overwhelming; I can't bring myself to think about it, because …" He tailed off, staring into space.
"Because what Bobby?" Sam asked, concerned.
Bobby took a deep breath; "… because I feel responsible; like it's my fault."
Sam put the mug down.
"Bobby, you can put those sorts of stupid thoughts right out of your skull, you hear me?" Sam leaned across the table so he could speak quietly, dreading that Dean might hear what was being said; "None of this is your fault; Dean wouldn't be thinking that and I don't think that. You shouldn't either."
Bobby struggled to look Sam in the eye, "I know but …"
"But nothing," Sam barked; "you didn't hurt him, those two morons did, and the way you dealt with them..." Sam shook his head in admiration; "I can't wait to tell Dean."
Bobby picked up the coffee again with a heavy sigh. "I know, I just can't help thinkin' if I hadn't got involved with this job, none of this would have happened."
Sam shook his head; "every job we do is dangerous; you had no idea this one would pan out like this." He leaned closer into Bobby, "I know he'd do exactly the same for you again; without a second thought; he'd do it for me or for anyone he loves and cares about."
Bobby smiled, "I know he would, the mad idjit."
Sam sat back in his seat, taking a long sip of his coffee; "hey Bobby, don't you go telling Dean how sorry you are he suffered like this for you; he doesn't wanna be made out to be any kind of hero." Sam grinned; "He might be loyal as hell, but one thing my brother isn't is tactful. He'll tell you exactly what you can go and do with your apologies and trust me, you'd need more than a friendly receptionist at the clinic to find them then."
Chapter 11 here