Word Count: Approx 20,000 in total
Sam strolled through the bustling hospital, humming quietly to himself and sated by a slice of pecan pie washed down with a latte so enormous he could barely lift it. He nodded pleasantly to the desk nurse as he entered the ICU unit, and ambled casually towards Dean's room.
Knowing that Dean was now seemingly on the mend, Sam felt euphoric; unable to stop smiling. He'd earned himself some odd looks from passing strangers on his way to the coffee shop, but he didn't care, he had reason to smile; his brother was going to be okay. Life, at last, was good.
He knew, however, that now was when the challenge would begin; a well Dean equalled a restless Dean and surely it wouldn't be long before he would start whining about getting out, so Sam had decided to act quickly and stock up on gifts in an optimistic attempt at distraction. He was carrying the latest copy of Musclecars Weekly, two dog-eared Stephen King novels from the hospital's bookstore, a bottle of orange flavoured energy drink and a family-sized pack of Oreos on the basis that if he couldn't distract Dean's mind, distracting his stomach would be equally effective.
Juggling the goods to free up a hand, he twisted the handle and pushed the door open.
"Hey, Dean how's …"
The words died on his lips.
Now, Sam was not a squeamish man, not a squeamish man at all, but even by his standards, the sight that met him was enough to make him gasp in horror and drop his treats all over the floor.
Confronted with the sight of Dean's pale, bare ass resplendent in all it's exposed, spot-peppered glory through the gaping back of his loosely fastened hospital gown, Sam's jaw dropped as he watched his brother leaning heavily on the nightstand; trying with all his trembling, rubber-legged might to push himself upright.
"Sammy;" he gasped, "shake a leg an' help me get dressed, I'm bustin' outta here."
Rushing over to Dean, Sam grabbed both of his brother's arms."Have you lost your mind? What the hell are you tryin' to do?"
He cringed, noticing a trickle of blood across the back of Dean's hand, where in clambering out of bed, he had dragged the drip-stand over, dislodging the cannula; he didn't even want to think about where the catheter had gone.
"What's it look like?" Dean snapped weakly, trying and failing to shrug Sam's strong grip off of his arms, "I'm getting' outta here; Sam, do you know what these bastards have done?"
Unable to quite believe what he was seeing, Sam scanned the chaos in the room; bedclothes kicked on the floor, the drip-stand tipped across the bed, having scattered the contents of the nightstand across the floor. Hell, he knew his brother raised irresponsible to an art form, but this? This was scaling entirely new heights of moronic.
"Dean, get back in the friggin' bed!"
Dean was still trying to squirm free of Sam's grip, but in his painfully weakened condition, was no match for his brother's strength. Sam finally managed to wrestle Dean down, so he was at least sitting back on the bed, an action which also had the gratifying effect of hiding his exposed backside.
Dean glared as his brother loomed over him and managed the not inconsiderable feat of looking terrified and furious at the same time.
Taking several deep breaths, Sam silently counted to ten, before crouching down; placing a reassuring hand on his brother's knee.
"Now," he spoke slowly and calmly; "what have they done?" he asked looking deep into Dean's eyes, still glassy from the heavy medication coursing through his system, and trying to reassure himself that Dean was probably just a bit loopy as a result.
"My nurse" gasped Dean, "he's a friggin dude!"
"Uh yeah …" Sam responded calmly; he'd kind of been expecting this … only without the drama.
Dean's glare darkened; "a GAY dude."
"Yeah?" Sam hesitated briefly, "and your point is …?"
"A gay nurse dude Sam; he was just in here and his freakin' hands were all over me!"
Sam scraped his hand through his fringe and squinted, pinching the bridge of his nose; this was turning into a really bad day for disturbing images. "Dean," he sighed patiently; "he's a nurse; he can't do his job without touching you."
Dean snorted indignantly, "yeah, but he didn't have to enjoy it quite so much."
Sam took a deep breath; "Dean, I've got to know Ross really well while you were out of it," he began; "he's a fantastic guy, and one of the best nurses I've ever come across;" he hesitated before continuing, "what's the deal? You've never had a problem about gay guys before; live and let live, that's what you say isn't it?"
Dean glared at Sam, "dude, I've never had a problem with gay guys before because I've never had one maulin' my freakin' 'nads before!"
He looked up at Sam with genuine panic in his eyes, repeatedly glancing across at the door like he was developing a nervous tic and fidgeting skittishly on the side of the bed.
Sam sighed; at this point he was beginning to wish that Ross would sweep Dean off his feet and the friggin' pair of them would skip merrily off into a life of adoring bliss and leave him alone in peace with a good book and Dean's Oreos.
He sighed again; heck, why was life always so difficult?
Gently squeezing Dean's knee, he tried a different tack to see if he could make him see sense; "look, dude, you're not well. You have been seriously – and I mean SERIOUSLY ill; you almost died bro'." He struggled to keep his frustration in check and not raise his voice, "you're still on a lot of medication and youve got a long way to go before you'll be completely recovered."
He hesitated to see if his words had sunk in. The vacant expression on Dean's face seemed to indicate they hadn't, so Sam resorted to the direct approach.
"So, you're not leaving this hospital;" he announced, folding his arms to indicate the discussion was over. "If you try, I will stop you."
Dean shuffled uncomfortably on the edge of the bed and seemed to shrink smaller and smaller with every word that came out of Sam's mouth; "but Sam," he pleaded, "what if he, you know …" he glanced warily around the room as if he thought Ross might be hiding under the bed and leaned forward to Sam, lowering his voice to a whisper; "… what if he LIKES me?"
He asked with such wide-eyed earnestness that Sam had to bite his lip to suppress the snigger that threatened to escape.
Sam tried to arrange his features into a 'muzzle your ego and forget your macho insecurities Dean; he's a complete professional; of course he doesn't 'like' you that way' expression. He clearly failed spectacularly because Dean's mouth fell open in horror; "oh holy crap; he does; he wants to full-on Brokeback me …"
He tried to climb off the bed again, but Sam grappled him back down.
This was getting friggin' ridiculous.
"Dean," he scolded, "get your ass back into bed, NOW!"
"No," Dean snapped petulantly, "I wanna leave."
Deciding that actions speak louder than words; Sam bent down and grabbed both Dean's ankles, lifting them and planting them firmly onto the mattress, and finished off by tugging the bedclothes up over his protesting brother.
"Dean, you're staying; that's the end of it." He snapped, dropping the magazine and the books onto Dean's lap.
Dean looked about to argue, but Sam cut him off; "I'm much stronger than you right now, and we can keep having this fight if you insist, but it'll slow down your recovery and then you'll stay in here even longer."
"But Sam …" Dean's voice took on a desperate whine.
Dean slumped back, looking up at Sam like a despondent puppy who'd just had his nose rubbed in it, and picked up one of the books Sam had selected for him, glancing at it's cover.
"I've read this one," he muttered miserably.
They both turned as the door opened and Ross breezily strolled through, carrying a small tray. Sam couldn't help a chuckle when Dean recoiled as though the ravening hordes of Genghis Khan had galloped into the room.
Ross smiled, "hey there Sam, how y'doin', huh?" His smile dropped when he looked around the room.
"What the hell …?"
Sam cleared his throat, "uh, we've just had the discussion we always have in these places about when he's getting out … sometimes it gets a bit heated!"
"So I see;" Ross put his tray down and fussed around his pet patient, straightening the drip stand, and checking the lines. He took in a sharp breath when he saw the blood on the back of his patient's hand.
"Oh crap, you've done a number on yourself there, huh?" He gently pulled the crooked cannula out, apologising softly as his wary patient yelped colourfully and attempted to pull his hand away.
"Hey buddy, I can see you're gonna be trouble; I'll have to keep my eye on you, huh?" Ross turned and winked at Sam.
Sam folded his arms; "Ross, you have no idea," he muttered shaking his head, and shooting Dean a weapons-grade bitchface when he had the audacity to glare at him.
But, even in full-on bitchface mode, he couldn't stay angry for long, and within a moment he found himself sitting beside the bed as Ross carefully slipped a new cannula into a fresh vein, watching sympathetically as Dean grimaced, muttering every obscene word he knew (and it was an impressively wide selection) between gritted teeth.
Ross attached the line and taped the whole thing down. "OK, buddy, all done. Hey, let's try to keep this one in place, huh?" He smiled as Dean released the breath he had been holding.
Sam stood up; "so have you learned a lesson, Dean?"
Without looking him in the eye, Dean grunted ingraciously; "quit talkin' to me like I'm friggin three!"
"Well quit actin' like it!" Sam countered.
Sam sat in the corner of the room trying to be invisible as Ross conducted another barrage of checks (including another one on the dreaded catheter which Dean had once again managed to dislodge during his escape attempt).
Sam had desperately wanted to leave the room, and give his brother some privacy, but his traumatised brother had gripped his wrist so hard to prevent him leaving, the feeling was only just coming back to his fingers. He wasn't sure if Dean wanted a reassuring presence or a witness in the event of any molestation, but the simple fact was that there were a whole lot of places Sam would rather have been than where he currently was.
He watched amused as Dean's suspicious eyes followed Ross' every move as he nervously pulled the bed sheets up to his chest at every possible opportunity, only for the ever-patient nurse to calmly fold them back down again.
"OK there, Dean, I think you're all set, anything else you need, huh?"
Plastering a plastic smile across his face, Dean shook his head unconvincingly; "no" he croaked.
"Okay, well now I'm afraid mean ol' Doctor Lawrence wants me to take some more blood for him to play with;" he looked up at Sam, "I swear that man's a vampire, huh?"
An ironic glance passed between the brothers.
He looked down at Dean; "now you're not gonna shatter all my illusions and wimp out on me are you, huh?"
Dean gripped the bedlinen fiercely under his chin and shook his head.
"Good" smiled Ross, patting Dean's shoulder again, "I'd hate for you to pass out because then I might have to give you the kiss of life".
Dean spluttered indignatly as Sam turned away, unable to hide his laughter.
Once again, Sam found himseklf sitting next to the bed as Ross tightened a strap around Dean's arm; "okay Dean, make a fist, pretend you're going to punch Doctor Lawrence for me."
Noticing how pale his brother suddenly looked, Sam leaned close to Dean and spoke softly to him; "y'ok dude?"
Dean looked down into his lap, wincing at the pinch of the needle , "kiss my ass;" he grunted.
Sam smiled, "ew no, I saw it, it's still all spotty!"
"Doin' good there, buddy;" Ross reassured quietly.
Not wanting to humiliate his brother any further, insofar as that was actually possible, by doing anything so 'chick-flicky' as holding his hand; Sam threaded a hand through the gap at the back of the bile yellow hospital gown his brother wore and placed a warm palm flat on Dean's bare back, immediately feeling the tension release as the needle was withdrawn.
"Great job; all done;" Ross taped a band-aid over the tiny puncture wound and patted his patient's shoulder, smiling as Dean irritably tugged the bedclothes back up to his chin again.
Placing the full syringe on the little tray he'd carried in, Ross discreetly dropped a cloth over it, and turned to the brothers, pulling off his latex gloves.
"Okay then, now seeing as I'm not allowed to go and steal a lollipop from the paediatric ward, how about I reward you with a nice refreshing bedbath instead, huh?"
Sam smiled, ignoring Dean's eyes boring into the back of his head as Ross left the room; there was a soft click and the door closed behind him.
He braced himself for the onslaught he knew would come.
Dean looked for all the world like he would bolt again, "dude;" he pleaded, "you gotta get me out of here."
"Dean," Sam sighed, "he's only going to give you a bath."
Dean's eyes widened in indignation; "Sam, exactly … He's. Going. To. Give. Me. A. Bath." He panted manically, "dude, I know how gay you can be, but surely even you can see that that's wrong in just about every way!" He clutched a fistful of Sam's shirtfront, reeling him in.
"How is it wrong?" Sam shrugged.
"Dudes do not bath other dudes; surely even you know that?" Dean folded his arms.
"I bathed you a few nights ago," Sam offered weakly, cringing at the thought.
"Yeah, well, you're blood," Dean replied, "and you only jus' qualify as a dude most of the time, so that don't count."
Sam took a long deep breath; "Dean, that man has been washing you and taking care of you from the moment you were admitted in this hospital; he's already seen everything you've got to offer."
Dean gagged at the thought, "this is different," he grunted.
"It just is." Dean huffed petulantly.
Sam rolled his eyes; "great argument bro', ever thought about going into politics?"
"Shaddup;" came the response.
Dean looked up to Sam, with pleading eyes.
"Sam, you do it …"
Sam frowned, "Dean, I am not insulting the poor guy by doing his job for him." He rubbed a hand across his brow; "anyway, I'm still suffering PTSD flashbacks from the last time I had to bathe you."
"Well, tell him I don't need a bath…" Dean suggested hopefully.
"No way," replied Sam, wrinkling his nose, "I don't mean to be blunt or nothin', but man, you stink."
"But Sam, what if …"
Sam cut his brother off with a raised palm; "Dude, give it a rest. Ross is going to give you a bath." He planted his hands on his hips; "yeah, I know he's gay, and I know he's a little bit sweet on you; but the guy has a heart of gold and he's the best damn nurse I've ever met, so you're just gonna have to suck it up and deal with it."
Dean visibly wilted, realising the battle was lost; "Sam?"
"Please don't use that word," he croaked.
It was about half an hour before Ross barrelled back through the door pushing a trolley; his familiar sunny smile lighting up the room.
"Ok, who's ready for a freshen up, huh?"
Sam stood up and moved to walk away, "Hi Ross, I'll jus …"
Dean's arm shot out and grabbed a fistful of denim at the crotch of the retreating jeans.
Doubling over, Sam gasped; "easy Dean, that's more than my Jeans you're gripping there."
He wormed out of Dean's grip; "I'll, uh, just go and grab a coffee …"
Dean watched, in wide eyed panic as he watched Sam disappear hastily through the door, closing it firmly behind him.
Ross smiled, and turned to his patient who was cowering behind the bedclothes.
"OK Dean, you don't have to be shy; we're both guys," Ross reassured with an understanding smile, "nothing you've got that I don't see in the mirror every morning, huh?" He quietly wrestled the bedclothes from Dean's iron grip and folded them down across his lap.
He reached round behind Dean's back and undid the gown, "let's get rid of this disgusting thing shall we, huh?" He pulled the gown off and screwed it up, shoving it onto the bottom shelf of the trolley, "I'm telling you buddy, yellow just isn't your colour, huh?"
Dean gave a tightlipped nod, blushing furiously as Ross fussed, laying a waterproof sheet on the bed behind him.
"Now, just lie back – and chill out, huh?"
He stepped back and shook his head, stifling a laugh as he looked at his patient lying before him as stiff as a board, eyes squeezed tightly shut ferociously gripping the plastic sheet beneath him.
Dean flinched as he felt a damp cloth sweep slowly and gently across his shoulders; a comforting warmth permeated the clenched muscles there.
"How's that Dean, not too hot, huh?"
"Uh, no, s'good," mumbled Dean, cringing as he felt the damp, soapy cloth sweep again, lower down across his chest, and under his arms before it was once again rinsed.
Ross worked gently and discreetly, taking great care not to aggravate the slowly fading rash and talking softly to his patient; "how's that feel, Dean, huh?" "you gotta tell me if it hurts, buddy, huh?" "tell me if you get cold, huh" "lift your arm for me, huh?"
Against all his instincts, Dean felt himself begin to relax under the soothing and confident touch; the warmth of the water, the comforting voice, the faint fragrance of the soap. Ross was quick to sense this also; he smiled as he felt the rock-hard knotted muscles in Dean's belly, soften and relax beneath his touch; "doin' good, buddy;" he encouraged, "why don't you just have a little nap there, huh?"
Dean felt the bedclothes being folded aside to give Ross access to his left leg, and drifted further and further into oblivion as the expert hands did their work, massaging and soothing aching muscles wasted and stiffened by days of inactivity. By the time Ross had folded the sheets across to wash Dean's right leg, he was sunk bonelessly into the pillows snoring peacefully.
There was a timid tap at the door, and it opened a crack. Sam peeped through the gap; "is it safe to come back?"
"Yeah, almost done; he's doin' fine," Ross replied with a smile, as he continued the therapeutic massage, gently working the Vitamin E oil into the healing skin down Dean's side, "uh, I think you might be in for a dull evening though, huh?" he grinned, "he's pretty much out for the count!"
Sam eyed the Stephen King novels and the Oreos; "oh, I'll get by," he smiled; "great job Ross!"
Ross finished his work, wiped his hands and pulled the bed sheets up over his peacefully sleeping patient. I'll give you a gown for him when he wakes up, you can slip that on him, huh?"
Sam sat down, tearing open the pack of Oreos, and offered one to Ross who took it with a smile; "I'm on a day off tomorrow, but I'll make sure to leave instructions for whoever is looking after him."
"So they do give you time off then?" Sam grinned a crumbly black grin.
"Oh they do occasionally, if I beg pathetically enough, huh?" Ross replied with a smile.
Sam laughed, "well if I was a hospital manager with a nurse as good as you, I'd make you work every single day!"
Ross laughed, and slapped Sam on the shoulder; "just try and stop him going over the wall before I get back, huh?"
It was mid-morning before Dean opened his eyes again to find Sam sitting beside him. "Hey there, dude, you've only slept for fourteen hours; I can see how traumatic that bath must have been!"
Dean looked around vacantly, and yawned, scratching his head as Sam looked on.
"How're you feelin', dude?"
Dean yawned, "better, I think…" Sam dared to think that maybe, he actually looked a bit better.
Dean shifted awkwardly, then lifted the sheets, taking a long look under them.
"Sammy, why am I naked?"
Sam got up, "Oh yeah, you nodded off during that terrifying bedbath." He reached down into the nightstand and pulled out the fresh gown. "Ross left this for me to give to you because he didn't want to wake you up."
Sam unfolded the powder blue robe; "look he even found you a blue one - said yellow wasn't your colour."
Dean rubbed his eyes wearily, and looked at the gown; nodding his approval at the blue over the yellow.
"Lets get you in it, don't want you scarin' the nurses away."
He helped Dean lean forward and slipped the robe off fastening it across his brother's back.
"Ross is off today," Sam muttered as he tied the fastener; "now don't get too excited, but you might get a lady nurse."
Dean smiled; "about friggin' time;" he yawned, laying back into the pillows, "bring it on."
He looked at Sam; "hungry Sammy, where's those Oreos?"
Sam looked sheepishly down at the floor, "uh guess I'll have to get some more …"
It was around an hour later that the door opened and a middle-aged nurse walked smartly through; thin and sharp-faced, her grey hair pulled back in a severe bun; she looked down at a hand-written piece of paper; "Mr. Wilton?" she asked efficiently, looking at Dean over small, horn-rimmed glasses.
"Uh, yeah, I guess so," Dean muttered hesitantly.
She turned to look down her nose at Sam, "and you are…?"
Sam glared at her, "I'm Sam Wilton, his brother."
"Okay;" she said economically; without looking at either brother; "Mr Wilton, I need to do some checks and take some blood, your brother will wait outside until I'm finished."
Dean looked up at her; "but he …"
"Now, I'm sure a strapping young man like you doesn't need someone to hold his hand during a simple medical procedure." She turned on her heel to face Sam; "now, if you wouldn't mind Mr. Wilton."
Sam stood open mouthed; "but …"
Seeing that his brother was about to argue, and not wanting to create a scene, particularly involving someone who was going to be pointing sharp objects in his vicinity, Dean reluctantly gestured toward the door; "S'okay dude," he muttered glumly; "this won't take long, better do as she says."
Sam's glare darkened and he shot a black look at the oblivious woman as he left the room, slamming the door behind him.
The elderly nurse conducted her checks swiftly and efficiently; making notes of her patient's temperature, pulse and blood pressure then prepared her syringe, making no attempt to hide it until the last minute as Ross had done.
"Arm please," she demanded.
Dean offered his arm nervously; "I won't have any blood left if that Lawrence guy takes much more," he snorted in an attempt to lighten the situation.
"He'll take as much as he needs to confirm your recovery;" she responded dryly, preparing her equipment without looking Dean in the eye.
Dean huffed as she tightened the band around his arm and instructed him to make a fist, turning his head away as he felt the pinch of the needle.
The tiny pinch became a sharp sting and he flinched.
"Keep still" she barked, withdrawing the needle; "I'll need to try again, your veins are very poor."
Dean gritted his teeth, longing to tell her to stick her syringe up her ass and that Ross never had any problems with his 'poor' veins, but thought better of it as she grasped his wrist again.
He grimaced, finching again as the needle slipped into his arm again.
"Young man, you need to stop being such a baby, it's a simple procedure that will happen much more quickly if you stop moving around."
Dean swore under his breath, tears of painful frustration pricking his eyes as the woman made a third attempt at drawing the required blood.
"Friggin' sonofabitch" he grunted between clenched teeth.
Succeeding at the third attempt, she pressed a band-aid over the bleeding wound. "There now, all that unnecessary fuss over a little pinprick."
She smiled for the first time since entering the room. It was a charmless smile and Dean recoiled with a shudder; he decided he preferred her a lot more when she was being a hatchet-faced old boot.
Sam was eventually allowed back in the room, after a full 45 minutes of angrily pacing the corridor.
He stormed past her without acknowledgement as she left the room, ignoring the muttered comment of 'so rude' as he did so, and was appalled to find Dean sat on the bed looking paler than he had at any time after waking up.
Watery eyes looked up at Sam; "dude, we've ganked things that were more affectionate than that."
Sam smiled, "I was tempted man, so tempted!"
"She friggin' butchered my arm;" Dean groaned, pulling off the band aid to show Sam the purple bruising that was already blossoming across the crook of his elbow.
Sam's jaw clenched in anger. "Why would a sour old trout like that ever want to be a nurse?"
Dean huffed a bitter laugh, "well she's gone now."
"Yeah, and she's not damn-well comin' back; I'll see to that." Sam snorted angrily, heading towards the door.
Dean called after him, "hey, get me some friggin' Oreos while you're out there raising hell, Rambo."
Sam turned with a nod as he opened the door.
"Oh, and Sam"
"You know, you should give that Ross a chance; he's a good guy."
"Doin' good there Dean, huh?"
It was two days since Doctor Lawrence had encouraged his recovering patient to start getting out and about, and Dean was for once in his life enthusiastically following the doctor's advice, making the most of finally being free of IV lines, catheters and other attachments of varying degrees of inconvenience.
Running Sam ragged, he had explored the length and breadth of the hospital, making regular visits to the washrooms, the bookshop, the cafeteria and the gardens. Between them, Sam and Ross were having the devil's own job in rounding up the wandering Winchester and keeping him anywhere near his bed.
This particular morning, Ross walked in on Dean who was stood leaning on the windowsill and staring wistfully out of the window watching the world go by while Sam stewed angrily in the corner.
"Hey Ross," Dean grinned, "just takin' a look at the outside world, almost forgot what it looks like."
Ross raised his eyebrows at Sam's moody bitchface.
"Do I sense you two have had 'that' chat again, huh?" he asked.
Dean rolled his eyes; "yeah, I feel like a million friggin' dollars and Samantha Sadcase here still thinks I shouldn't leave the hospital."
"yeah, well Dean," Ross smiled, "I hate to break it to you, but Samantha's right."
Sam's head shot up; "see'" he snapped triumphantly, pointing at Ross, "SEE!"
"Jeez, I can't believe I've got you two friggin' mother hens cluckin' around after me." Dean huffed melodramatically, and glared at the smiling nurse, "I thought you were supposed to be my buddy Ross; back me up here."
Ross strolled over and gently patted Dean on the shoulder, "Dean, only a real buddy will tell you what you don't want to hear!"
Dean grunted his reluctant agreement.
"Now, I need to check your vitals, and if you behave, I'll tell you a secret!"
Dean looked up quizzically and flopped heavily on the end of the bed while the nurse carefully measured his pulse, blood pressure and temperature.
He jotted the notes on his clipboard. "Lookin' good," he muttered as he wrote.
"I know I am" Dean grinned.
Ross treated him to a theatrical frown; "don't you go teasing a man now; you might just end up regretting it, huh?" he warned wagging his finger in Dean's direction.
Dean sniggered, "don' swing that way, sorry dude!"
"Pity" sighed Ross.
"Hey you two, get a room;" Sam called from across the bed with a grimace.
The two men looked at each other and laughed.
"Anyway what's this secret?" asked Dean.
"Ah yeah," Ross slipped the clipboard back on the rack at the end of the bed; "if Lawrence is happy with your vital signs today, and I see no reason why he shouldn't be, he's going to let you go home tomorrow."
Dean's face lit up; "tomorrow, cool!" He hesitated, "not today?"
Ross rolled his eyes and looked in exasperation across at Sam who shrugged.
"Do I have to give you a shot of sedative to make you stay one more night, huh?" Ross scolded.
"'s'long as you don't tie me up."
Ross sighed again; "I should be so lucky, huh?"
Both men fell into uproarious laughter again. Sam wearily shook his head and couldn't help a smile as he watched the two men banter and backslap.
"Seriously though," Ross composed himself, "One more night of resting, taking it easy and looking after yourself. That's not too much to ask is it, huh?"
Dean huffed quietly.
"Because if I find you overdoing it and jeopardising your chances of getting out, I'm going to send the lovely nurse you saw while I was off, to come back and tuck you in, huh?.
Dean paled; "okay, I'll be good," he gulped in a small voice.
"She won't be comin' back anytime soon," Sam snorted, "I told her exactly what I thought of her!"
Ross grinned, "yeah I heard it … and I was twenty miles away at home at the time."
He gathered up his things, glancing across at Sam.
"Sam, you look exhausted" he smiled sympathetically; "try to get some rest, it's all over now, huh?"
Sam looked up with a forced smile, "I'm okay Ross, just got a damned headache."
"Take it easy, buddy, huh?" Ross smiled, patting Sam on the shoulder; he looked across at Dean with a menacing frown; "and you, trouble, you leave your brother alone; he needs some rest!"
Dean nodded obediently as Ross left the room.
"You okay dude?" He asked Sam, "you look like crap."
Sitting back on the chair, Sam leaned against the wall; "yeah, I'm fine, jus' tired."
Dean looked unconvinced.
"Look, man; I barely slept while you were bad; I guess now the pressure's off, it's just catching up with me."
Dean frowned and shuffled over; "why don't you get some shuteye on the bed?"
Pinching the bridge of his nose, Sam nodded. "I'll even ask Ross to come and give you a bed bath;" Dean added mischieviously.
Sam laughed as he lay down; "Sorry bro', It's you he digs, not me."
Lowering himself into the chair beside the bed, Dean picked up the magazine that Sam had bought him and scanned the room; "Damnit, Sammy, never did get my freakin' Oreos back!"
But his sleeping brother never heard him.
The big day had finally come with Lawrence giving his long awaited permission for Dean to leave, and he found himself stood impatiently in reception fidgeting wildly like a cat on hot bricks waiting for Sam to fetch the Impala.
He spun round when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
It was Ross.
"Didn't think you could escape without saying goodbye, huh?
"Hey dude, good to see you;" Dean grinned, "thanks for all your help, it's been great knowin' you."
Ross chuckled, "presumably that was after Sam managed to convince you that I wasn't going to molest you to within an inch of your life, huh?" He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
Clearing his throat, Dean looked down at his feet, a faint blush colouring his cheeks, "uh, yeah … I kinda, um … sorry 'bout that!"
Ross laughed, "Just be thankful I'm already spoken for;" he grinned, "or I might not have tried so hard to control myself, huh?"
Dean snorted with laughter; "I must remember to meet your David and thank him!"
Strolling back through the door towards the two laughing men, Sam called to Dean; "your carriage awaits bro'."
Ross shook the brothers' hands warmly and handed Dean a slip of paper.
"My phone number," he said; "if you boys ever need any help, I remember Sam sayin' your job was dangerous, you just give me a call, huh?"
The brothers smiled; "thanks Ross, will do."
Turning smartly, they walked across the foyer, catching a last glimpse of their waving friend reflected in the glass door as it slid across in front of them. Sam could have sworn there was a hint of sadness behind the broad smile.
The Impala rolled to a halt in the car park of a fair to middling motel about thirty miles from the hospital.
Climbing out of the car, Dean paused, taking a long deep breath and relishing the refreshing breeze after the stifling heatwave and the hospital's stuffy atmosphere.
Wrapping an arm across his brother's back, Sam guided him toward the building; "We're stayin' here overnight, then I've arranged for us to go to Bobby's for a couple of weeks while you recuperate."
Dean huffed, but closed his mouth. Sam was still tired and irritable, and for once he thought better than to argue.
Unlocking a profoundly unattractive door to an equally uninspiring room, they bundled their duffels down in the corner and flopped on their respective beds.
Feels good to be outta hospital, huh,? Sam smiled, looking across at Dean.
"Oh, jeez, you've been listening to Ross too much, you're doing it now!" Dean groaned, lethargically pulling his socks off.
Sam grinned, scratching his head through a mop of comically messy hair; "gonna have a shower;" he sighed, "I didn't have the luxury of Ross giving me regular bed baths; I had to make do with a sink in the mens room; feel like I got cooties."
Dean cringed, "ew, too much information bro'; go an' get your stinky carcass in that shower," he rose from the bed with a grunt, "I'll make the coffee."
He padded barefoot across to the kitchenette as the bolt slid home on the bathroom door.
He was still stood by the counter waiting for the kettle to boil when the bolt slid back and Sam stumbled out of the bathroom; "Oh crap Dean;" he gasped in wild-eyed horror, "crap, crap, freakin' double crap!"
Dean glanced at Sam's spot-peppered chest and dropped the mug he was holding.
The two brothers stared at each other in silence until eventully Dean spoke.
"I thought you said …"
Sam miserably wrapped his arms across his chest as if hiding the spots would somehow make them disappear; "it said on the internet that in extremely rare cases it is possible for someone who already had it to get it again." He looked across at Dean, "but I figured, nah - even we couldn't be that unlucky…"
Dean groaned, he was already dialling the number.
"Hey, Ross … ?"