Sam sat on a hard examination couch in the ER cubicle where he had spent the last couple of hours, his head still spinning wildly from the morning's turn of events. This whole job had been like one seriously bad trip; swinging wildly between blissful peace and solitude save for listening to Dean moaning about his saddlesore ass to the agony and terror of watching his battered brother practically dying before his very eyes.
Shifting uncomfortably on the hard couch, he winced as his hip, finally getting the rest it needed, reminded him that he was far from forgiven for the damage he had inflicted on himself.
A series of x-rays and a ridiculously painful manual examination had turned up the unsurprising fact that he had a severely bruised hipbone. Most of the current, most excrutiating damage, however, had been inflicted by his constant movement and use of the damaged joint after the fall. When the doctors had started talking about heavy bleeding into the surrounding tissues, inflammation pressing down on nerves, and all sorts of other shit that was doctor-speak for 'your hip is crapped to hell Sam, and it's your own fault,' that's when Sam had switched his ears off; switching them back on only when the medics started talking about him not going anywhere without crutches for the next two weeks.
Sam sighed. He was clumsy enough on his own two feet; understandable really - the damn things were so far away from his brain, it was only to be expected that a few synaptic connections would get crossed on the way down, but throw two long metal poles into the mix and bitter experience had shown that he all too often became a weapon of mass destruction.
But if crutches were what it had to be then, that's what it had to be.
The simple truth of the matter was that Sam really didn't care about his hip. Couldn't give a crap quite frankly; so it hurt – boo hoo, he'd had worse, and he'd got over that too.
The only thing he could focus on at the moment was Dean. There had been no sign and no word since the moment they had made their dramatic entrance in the ER unit to a ringing chorus of urgent voices; shouting and yelling, "pneumothorax," "field aspiration," "hypoxia," and all sorts of other terrifying words; a wall of sound into which Dean had disappeared, and as yet, not emerged.
Sam's heart skipped a beat as the door handle dipped, and the door was pushed open by a white-coated figure.
Sam looked up, "Uh, yeah."
"Hello Sam, I'm Doctor Morgan, and I've been taking care of your brother. I'd like to give you an update on his condition."
Sam shifted, trying to sit up straighter, gasping as a bolt of pain from his hip sliced through him.
Doctor Morgan watched him move; "have they given you anything for the pain?"
Sam nodded, "yeah, I'm good. How is he?" The anxiety was written across his face.
"I'm not going to lie to you Sam;" Morgan began; "your brother is a very lucky man."
Sam allowed himself a twitch of a smile; lucky? That had to be good right?
"He had a broken rib directly underneath his broken collarbone," explained the Doctor, "that's what punctured his lung." He paused long enough to let his Sam take in the news then continued; "that procedure you did out there on the trail prolonged his life, Sam. He's got you to thank for the fact that the rescue service were able to get him to us in time."
Sam gathered his thoughts; he could feel himself shaking as he thought back to the terrible thing he had to do. His stomach lurched at the memory.
"Why did he go downhill so fast?" He asked quietly.
Morgan took a seat in the chair next to the bed; "the aspiration procedure takes the pressure off the collapsed lung but, if the lung is damaged, as Dean's was, it doesn't necessarily enable it to reinflate," he explained patiently. "What it meant is that his lung was still damaged, it just wasn't under pressure."
He continued, "so although you did this, and it helped a lot, that lung still wasn't working properly and that, in turn, was putting too much pressure on his good lung, which eventually started to give out and collapse under the strain."
Sam looked horrified; he had no idea that Dean had been in such a bad way. He'd have moved things along a lot quicker if he had realised.
Seeing Sam's obvious shock, Morgan smiled reassuringly; "I say, once again, your brother is a very lucky man. If you had got here only a couple of hours later, I would have been sitting here telling you something completely different."
Recovering his senses, Sam spoke up in a small voice; "can I see him?"
The doctor rose, and nodded in Sam's direction; "sure; he's just coming out of surgery, but once they've given him all the necessary checks and moved him to a bed in ICU, I'll take you right there."
Sam bolted upright; "Surgery?" he snapped in panic; "you never said anything about surgery."
Morgan sat down again; "well, we had to reset the rib and collarbone to prevent any further damage to the lung." He waited to see if any further questions were forthcoming, when they weren't he continued, "we've also repaired the damaged lung, and put a line into his chest to stop the pressure building up until the lung heals fully."
Sam stared at the doctor's face; "but he's okay right?"
Morgan smiled, "of course, with any kind of invasive treatment in a non-sterile environment, there is always going to be a big risk of infection, so he will be on a very powerful antibiotic drip for a few days."
"But, as far as I'm aware, everything went fine," Morgan added cheerfully. "We've put him on oxygen to boost his breathing and I'm afraid he'll be very sore for a while from the injury and the surgery, so he'll be on some very strong painkillers which might make him a bit groggy."
Morgan stood up once again, and beckoned Sam; "but I'm sure he'd love to have you there for when he comes round from the anaesthetic."
Sam eased himself off the couch, and gathering up his crutches he allowed himself a small, crooked smile. It was a long time since he'd witnessed the spectacle of his brother emerging from a general anaesthetic. With a cocktail of plutonium strength painkillers and turbo-powered antibiotics thrown into the mix there was no telling what could happen. Whatever happened, it was likely to be entertaining, and Sam had no intention of missing the show.
Doctor Morgan quietly pushed the door open, and gestured for Sam to enter the room. Manouevring himself through on his crutches, he misjudged the gap and crunched his knee on the doorframe.
Hobbling into the room, he cursed softly before turning to face the bed in the powder-blue room. As he looked down, his breath caught in his throat..
Lying propped up almost in a sitting position in the bed, Dean looked so deathly pale, Sam felt like he'd been punched in the gut when he looked down on the ashen face. His knees buckled and he leaned heavily on the chair beside the bed, lowering himself shakily into it without taking his eyes from his brother's still form.
A broad expanse of gauze was taped over his right shoulder, upper arm and the right side of his chest, with his arm folded in a sling over the top of it. Sam swallowed as he noticed the outline of a tube or some sort of line disappearing up under the dressing; that must be the line Doc. Morgan was talking about. Sam closed his eyes; he didn't want to know the gory details.
Nodding his thanks as Doctor Morgan took his leave, with assurances that Dean could start to wake up any time, Sam turned back to the bed. He simply would never get the hang of how small and young and helpless his brother looked asleep in a hospital bed.
He just sat and stared helplessly at Dean's gaunt, hollow cheeks and colourless lips, partially obscured by the nasal cannula which snaked across them, watching as his dark lashes stood out starkly against his pallid complexion, the light peppering of freckles across the bridge of his nose the only colour evident in his ivory-pale face.
Sam shuffled round, pushing his crutches out of his way, and swearing as they tangled around his unco-ordinated feet, bashing against the chair leg.
He briefly turned away form the bed to prop his crutches up against the wall, and let out a muttered oath as they slid down the wall, clattering across the floor.
Sam frowned, glancing up to the ceiling and counted to ten. Hate. friggin. crutches.
He looked back to the bed and his frustration dissipated instantly. How the hell does he do that? Sam smiled; he's four years older than me and he looks like he could be my damn son lying there!
Leaning forward, he gently brushed Dean's limp fringe back across his forehead, giving him a pale imitation of the aggressive spike he generally liked to arrange his hair into. He smiled at his handiwork; nope, sorry Dean, you still look more like a fourth grader than like a badass monster hunter.
As his eyes scanned the pure white gauze, Sam gritted his teeth when he thought of the extensive surgical work that had gone on under there, wondering what terrifying scars would be revealed when all the dressings were eventually removed.
He pulled the chair as close to the bed as he could and leaned across, sliding a flat hand under the back of his brother's neck. He absently threaded his fingers through the back of Dean's spiky hair and sat, just waiting for his brother to start coming back to him.
It took less than an hour; and it was a shallow sigh which started the process.
Sam noticed Dean's eyes flicker beneath the closed lids, and smiled as his freckled nose twitched.
"Hey dude, wake up," Sam murmured, smiling as he continued to knead his brother's warm nape; "about time!"
The slow rhythm of Dean's breathing hitched, and his head rocked slightly as he let out another huffing sigh, this time opening his eyes for just a moment.
Sam leaned over, keen to be in his brother's line of vision; "hey dude; you gonna say hi?"
Dean's glassy green eyes fluttered open again and latched onto the figure above him, his nose twitched again as his heavy-lidded eyes slowly focussed on Sam.
"Hey, bro', I know I'm a sight for sore eyes, but you can say something if you like," Sam teased.
Dean's mouth moved before any sound came out; it was on the fourth attempt that the wheezing huff turned into a sound.
Sam grinned, ruffling the clammy back of Dean's hair; "that's me bro'. Man, it's good to see you."
The eyes lost their focus and began to droop.
"Hey Dean', I've just got you back," Sam whispered, leaning in as close to Dean as he dared, "don't you go off again; not just yet."
"You're in hospital, dude." Sam continued to rub Dean's neck as he spoke, reassured as he felt Dean lean back into the touch; "they've fixed all your broken bits and you're gonna be just fine."
Ah, okay. That was a curve ball. Sam choked back a snigger, "uh no, I don't remember them saying anything about fixing your sore ass, dude. I think you might just have to deal with that yourself until it gets better."
Dean slowly turned his head, and looked at Sam from under a long blink.
Sam grinned, he was waiting for that one; that was usually the first question. "She's fine, man; Bobby's looking after her."
Sam bit his lip, trying so very hard not to laugh; "yes dude?"
Dean hesitated, taking a deep breath as if he were about to say something of great importance.
"Shegott'go … ou'side."
Sam listened closely to the hoarse whisper, a look of amused bewilderment spreading across his face. "Uh, yeah Dean, she'll go outside; Bobby's not gonna take her to bed with him."
Oh God; the struggle not to laugh was getting harder. Sam's bottom lip was turning white between his teeth; he folded his arms; "yes dude?"
Sam rubbed his face.
"Hospital dude;" he guided Dean's unfocussed eyes down to the gauze on his chest and his sling. "You've had an operation to fix your collarbone and stuff."
Dean stared, wide-eyed, straight into Sam's face.
Sam snorted as he fought to compose himself; "yeah that's right, whatever the damn thing's called – they fixed it," he grinned.
Dean swallowed, and his brows knotted into a grimace.
Sam caught the grimace, and had no intention of letting it go; "you in pain bro?"
Sam prayed to a higher power to help him as he sat, wiping away the tears of unborn hilarity.
"I know you're in hopista - I mean hospital dude, but are you in pain? In hospital?" he asked again.
Dean's chest lifted into a deep sigh; "m'ass!"
Sam snorted and rolled his eyes.
Settling into a disorientated silence, Dean blinked slowly, scanning the room through the fog of anaesthetic. Sam picked up a carton of juice from the nightstand and offered it to Dean; "C'mon bro'," he whispered, "have a drink."
Dean drifted slightly cross eyed as he stared at the carton in front of him and opened his mouth, allowing Sam to guide the straw toward him. "There you go," he smiled as Dean's lips latched onto the straw and he began to drink enthusiastically.
Sam tossed the empty carton into the trashcan, then sat back down, leaning back over his brother and watching as he sighed deeply, closing his eyes.
"You gonna have a nap bro?"
Sam smiled; "yeah?"
"Okay, you do that," Sam gently rubbed his brother's cheek, trying to avoid the dry, livid grazes, "have a little sleep bro', I'll still be here when you wake up."
He watched again as Dean's brows knotted, and leaned over him in concern; "you sure you're okay dude?" He asked, "you gotta tell me if you're in pain."
Sam smiled with a sigh, "yes dude?"
"Apart from that," he chuckled, "the doctor isn't gonna give you a morphine shot for your sore ass."
Sam shook with silent laughter and scraped a hand through his hair. "What about here bro?" he pointed to the gauze, "what about your shoulder?"
Dean's head dipped as he squinted down onto his chest; "soldier?"
Sam was starting to think he would benefit from a dose of morphine himself.
"Yes dude, your soldier – does it hurt?"
"'s ass hur's."
Sam scratched his head; "your shoulder's ass hurts?"
Dean yawned, nodding absently.
Sam gritted his teeth, snorting as he stifled a chuckle; "what dude?"
Sam stared at his brother. Well, that was random.
Dean murmured something unintelligible through a wide yawn; and then settled down, looking back up at Sam.
"wan' coc'nut …" he whispered absently, closing his eyes.
Sam was about to investigate this latest revelation when he turned on hearing the door open behind him.
He looked up in delight to see Bobby standing over him. The older man looked at Sam, worry-stricken. "I came as soon as I heard; how is he?"
Sam was about to answer when a weak voice drifted up from the bed; "Bobby … wan' co'cnut."
Bobby looked at Sam, perplexed, and mouthed, "coconut?"
Sam shrugged, clapping the older man on the shoulder. "Boy am I glad to see you Bobby," he smiled broadly; "you've never witnessed Dean coming out of an anaesthetic have you?"
Bobby shook his head in concern, "is he okay?"
Sam nodded, struggling again not to laugh; "so far his shoulder's ass is sore, he doesn't want you to take the Impala to bed with you, and now he wants a coconut." Sam paused briefly, "and he only came round about half an hour ago!"
Bobby stared at the pale, woozy face which smiled crookedly up at him from the bed.
"I'm gonna go an' get coffee, Sam;" he sighed, "we could be in for a long night!"