“Dean.....damn it! Come on, Dean, I need you to open your eyes.” Sam’s frantic words were accompanied by him gently tapping his brother’s face, as he lay on the ground with his head resting on his knees.
Amber crouched beside them, “Looks like the morning‘s finally caught up with him. What can I do to help?” She looked at Sam, waiting for him to respond.
Sam lifted his eyes and for a second, there was a lost look in them that made him appear much younger than his years. Then the hunter within reasserted itself and Sam snapped into action, “Water. He needs water, and I gotta start cooling him down.” As he was speaking he was trying to manhandle Dean out of his leather jacket, but he was hampered by his brother lying there still and unresponsive. It wasn’t the first time he’d had to get Dean undressed after he’d been hurt on a hunt, but it never got any easier, no matter how much practice he got.
Amber looked at her friends, “Well, don’t just stand there, you heard Sam! Get some goddamn water over here now!” She roared out the order, and her friends ran to their vehicles to comply with the demand.
Daryl dropped down beside them, “Sam, let me help you. What can I do?” He sounded unsure as he spoke, uncertain of how the young hunter would react to the man who had been responsible for his brother’s suffering.
Sam stared at him for a moment, his eyes dark and unreadable. There would be a time to speak to Daryl about his part in this, but now Dean mattered more. “Ok. Can you hold him while I get his jacket off? Will your arm be alright?” Sam looked at Daryl’s injured arm as he spoke.
Daryl moved forward and gently slipped his arms round Dean and lifted him from Sam’s lap; he pulled the hunter to his chest. He grunted when his arm throbbed, looking at Sam, “Screw my arm. Dean’s in worse shape than me. God, he’s heavy though. Can you hurry up with the jacket please?” A look of strain crossed Daryl’s face, as Dean’s muscular frame rested against his chest.
Sam quickly pulled the jacket from around Dean’s shoulders, “It’s all the burgers he eats. I keep telling him to go on a diet. After all, it’s my back that gets busted when I have to carry him back to the car when he gets hurt. Hey, Dean, you really need to wake up. Because if you don’t I’m taking a picture of you being cuddled by Daryl, and then there goes your macho image.” As Sam talked to his brother his tone was light; but his eyes were shadowed with distress at seeing Dean like this once again. He took Dean’s limp body from Daryl, and laid him back down again.
Suddenly they were surrounded by hands all offering cold bottles of water. Sam jerked back a little in surprise, and then smiled gratefully. “That’s great! Ok, these will come in handy. Thanks for this, guys.” Sam took the first bottle of water and placed it behind Dean’s neck; he shivered when the cold bottle pressed against his denim-clad legs.
The he took another two bottles, slipping them inside Dean’s T-shirt against his ribs, by his armpits. The next bottle he opened, and sprinkled the cold water over the front of his brother’s T-shirt. He took another bottle and he was just about to place it between Dean’s legs when...
“Sam, if you put that bottle down there I will end you. I thought I was supposed to drink the stuff not end up wearing it. And you better not have taken any pictures, Sam, because you know how accidents with bottles of Nair and shampoo can happen.” He croaked out roughly as if his throat had been sandpapered, making Sam smile with relief. It was the best sound he’d heard today. Then green eyes blinked open, looking dazed, and Sam put the open bottle of water in Dean’s hand.
Dean shakily brought the bottle to his dry, cracked lips. He allowed the cold refreshing liquid to trickle down his parched throat; he gagged a little when he swallowed. He coughed and then tried again, and this time he managed to drink without coughing. Damn! It tasted even better than that expensive malt Whisky he’d conned out of Bobby a couple of times.
Sam rested his hand on Dean’s shoulder, “Take it slow, Dean, you know the drill. Small sips, and of course I’d never take pictures of you being used as a giant teddy bear by Daryl. What do you take me for?” Sam tried not to give his big brother an evil grin but failed miserably.
Dean tilted his head to take a proper look at Sam, “I take you for a pain in the ass little brother, who’d take this opportunity to embarrass his poor injured, heroic and stunningly handsome older brother. That’s who I take you for. And dude, I know the drill. It’s not the first time I’ve been dehydrated.” At that Dean took a few more small sips of water, moaning in appreciation as the cold liquid soothed his dry throat.
Sam rolled his eyes at that. Trust Dean to make being dehydrated and battered sound almost pornographic. He noticed the moan seemed to attract Amber and her female friends. Yup! Good to see Dean bringing out the desire to nurse him back to health, and then he licked his lips and the women all mirrored the gesture. Ok. Perhaps nursing wasn’t the top of their agenda, but he was sure Dean wouldn’t mind a sponge bath or two from the ladies gathered there. Sam smiled at Amber as she looked at him; she blushed, and looked away from Dean. Just then Dean shifted and shivered at the continued presence of the cold bottles of water.
“Sam, not that I ain’t grateful for the liquid refreshment and all. But why the hell are you trying to turn me into a Popsicle?” Dean grumbled and shivered again, trying to dislodge the bottles of water.
Sam squeezed his shoulder gently, “Since you staggered to a stop, and fainted from exhaustion and dehydration.” Sam responded levelly.
Dean frowned and muttered, “Didn’t faint. Winchesters don’t faint.” He pouted slightly, his bottom lip sticking out.
Sam sighed, “Let me rephrase my last comment. Since you spent the morning being beaten, dragged behind a horse, fighting a warrior who wanted to kill you, then being used as target practice. That’s before limping for over a mile, and yes, you were limping at the end. Before finally passing out in a manly fashion, ending up sprawled on your ass in the desert with your head in my lap, gently frying from heat exhaustion. Is that better than saying you fainted?” Sam said sweetly, waiting for Dean to contradict him.
Dean quirked an eyebrow at Sam, “You only needed to say I passed out, and anyway it’s time to get back to the motel room. I can’t lie around here all day. Come on, Sam, let me up.” Dean tried to push himself up, but his arms shook and he lay back panting with effort.
“Going somewhere, Dean? Drink a little more water and then I’ll help you up.” Sam folded his arms and went for the forlorn puppy look. When Dean raised his hand for another bottle of water, Sam grinned triumphantly.
Amber watched the brothers interact. She knew this wasn’t the first time they’d had this kind of exchange. She couldn’t help but wonder how often Sam had had to put Dean back together and vice versa. She could see the care Sam was taking of Dean, being careful not to make him appear weak in front of them. Then she thought about Dean’s motel comment.
“Excuse me? You’re going back to your motel? What about seeing a doctor? Jesus, after everything you’ve been through you need to be checked over.” Amber leant forward so she was looking into Dean’s eyes; she saw defiance there. Then she looked up at Sam, “What? You just gonna take him back to the motel? I thought you were the brains of the outfit, Sam.” She put her hands on her hips, and glared at him.
Dean’s hand appeared between them and he coughed, “Hello, I’m still down here, remember? Look it’s just a few bruises. I only need a hot shower, some Tylenol and a good night’s sleep. And I’ll be as good as new. I’m fine, Amber. Don’t worry. Now I’ve nearly drunk this bottle. Can we go, Sam? Only this floor ain’t doing my back much good.” Dean tried to push himself up again. He made it half-way before black spots began to dance in front of his eyes. He was saved from slumping back down by Sam supporting him until the spots vanished, then he pushed Dean the rest of the way to a sitting position.
Sam looked over the top of Dean’s bowed head, giving Amber a helpless smile. He placed his large hand gently in the centre of Dean’s back. “Wait here and I’ll put the bags in the Impala. Just stay put, ok, Dean. Amber, can you make sure he doesn’t try and get up?” Sam looked imploringly at her.
Amber nodded, and Sam got to his feet, picked up the bags and Dean’s jacket and went to the car. Amber looked down at Dean. He was sitting with his eyes closed, swaying slightly. His face was pale but his cheeks were flushed, making her concerned about the possibility of a fever. She moved forward slightly and gently touched his knee, “Dean, why won’t you come with me to the clinic? I know the doctor there. It won’t take long. Please, you have nothing left to prove to us.” She bit her lip, and hoped her request would be enough to get Dean to see her friend.
Dean just smiled at her “I’m fine, Amber. Like I said, it’s just a few bruises. This is nothing. You should’ve seen some of the other hunts I’ve come back from, and Sam takes care of me. I don’t need a doctor when I got my very own Florence Nightingale.” He managed another brilliant smile, and slowly began to haul himself to his feet.
Amber leapt to her feet, looking at the struggling man in frustration, “Dean, I hate to have to do this to you, but you’ve left me no choice....Sam!” She called out as Dean was attempting to stand.
Dean rolled his eyes, “Ahh, come on, Amber, you didn’t have to do that...I told you I’m fine.” He ignored the shooting pains in his feet and legs, and grunted as his body complained loudly at him for attempting to stand.
Sam had just loaded everything into the trunk when he heard Amber’s voice. He slammed it shut, wincing slightly, knowing Dean would bitch him out for abusing his girl. Then he thought - to hell with that as he looked over at Amber, stood by his idiot of a brother as he tried to stand. Sam sprinted over to Dean. He sighed, “Going somewhere, big brother? You only had to wait a minute, but no, you can’t wait. You have no damn patience, do you?” Sam muttered as he bent forward, and reached out to help Dean.
Dean growled at him and smacked his hand away, “I’ve been standing up on my own for a long time now, Sam.” By now Dean had gotten to his knees and very slowly pushed himself up.
Amber was impressed with how Dean managed to get up. But by the time he was fully vertical, it looked as if he was ready to just fold back down to the floor. He swayed forward and breathed slowly, trying to control how unsteady he was.
That was it for Sam! He ignored the glare his brother was shooting him when a fleeting look of pain crossed Dean’s pale features. “Well, I’m impressed, dude, but I think the whole getting to your feet triumph will be spoiled when you face plant. Now I’m helping you back to the car and that’s final. Right?” Sam moved closer to Dean and wrapped his arm round his waist, ignoring the muttered complaints about mother hens and over protective Sasquatches.
Sam slowly turned them to face the cars and they began to move. As Amber watched the brothers’ progress, Dean’s gait put her in mind of an old man, slow and unsteady. Then all the discomfort vanished from his face as Dean locked the pain and fatigue away once more, and began to limp forward determinedly, keeping his eyes fixed on the floor.
Sam moved slowly, supporting his brother as he walked. No matter what he said, Dean was in worse shape than he was willing to admit to. Although it wasn’t hospital-serious, he would’ve much preferred the clinic’s doctor to check Dean over. But once his mule-headed brother had made up his mind, there was little he could do to change it. He smiled at that thought; he wasn’t the only Winchester with a stubborn-assed streak.
As they walked Sam could feel Dean putting more and more of his weight on him. He said nothing; just kept helping Dean towards the Impala. Sam noticed that Amber’s friends had gathered round the car. He wondered just what Dean would make of the Welcome Committee.
Dean pushed forward, ignoring his stiffening muscles and how his vision wavered. He was determined to make it to his girl under his own steam....ok, mostly his own steam, as he leaned on Sam, relying on his strength not to let him end up on his ass again. Finally he gauged they had to be at the Impala. He looked up and his eyes widened in surprise.
Stood by the car were Amber’s friends and Daryl, all looking like they wanted to make a big speech or a fuss. Dean dropped his eyes and felt embarrassed. He couldn’t even get away from them, as Sam had the keys and he knew there was no way Sam would let him drive. Although if he was honest, he didn’t think he could drive in any case.
He took a deep breath and put on his best smirk. “Ladies, gentlemen, what can I do for you?” He sounded relaxed but his heart was hammering; he just wanted to get out of here. Dean didn’t think he could handle a bunch of ‘touchy feely thank you for everything’ speeches. Then he noticed that Sam, the bastard, had gone and left him there without back-up. He looked over his shoulder at his brother stood by Amber.
The friends all looked at one another and then Sara stepped forward. She smiled at him and gently pulled him into a hug then the other women stepped forward and did the same. Jim, Chris and Eric stepped forward and solemnly shook his hand. Dean was stunned - he hadn’t expected any of this. He’d been expecting speeches, not this quiet show of appreciation. He was at a loss how to respond.
Sam stood watching the friends as they hugged Dean or shook his hand; he glanced over to Amber for an explanation. “My friends have pretty good hearing, Sam. They heard your comment about ‘chick flick moments’, and they thought this was the best way to say thank you for our lives. And Sam, none of us can ever express how grateful we are for what both of you did for us. All I can say is thank you, Sam. Thank you for keeping all of us in one piece.” She stepped closer, touched his arm, stood on tip-toe and kissed his cheek.
Sam was as stunned as Dean was. They were never thanked. No, not quite true but it was a rare thing for the people they saved to acknowledge what they’d done. He was overwhelmed by the way the friends showed their gratitude to Dean, “Amber, I didn’t do anything. Dean did all the hard work.” Sam said.
Amber shook her head, “Sam, you did more than you realized. You helped to keep Dean strong and you were even prepared to leave him behind to get us out of there. You more than played your part Sam, believe me. Now I better get over and thank your brother, and make sure Daryl doesn’t say anything too stupid, and Dean decks him.” She patted his arm and walked towards Dean, as Sam found himself engulfed by the others.
Daryl and Dean stood looking at one another, neither sure of what to say. Daryl licked at his lips, and thought ‘how do you say thank you to the man you almost got killed?’ He knew if he’d been in Dean’s place, he wouldn’t have made it to the end of the first Trial. Dean had gone through it all, and still managed to get himself back here. He shook himself and took a breath.....
“Hey, Daryl, you don’t have to say thank you to me. The best way you can thank me is to collect all those damn medicine bags together and take them back to the canyon. And do me a favour. Listen to Amber, will you? Build your casino and make it work for the town, but if she tells you something’s a bad idea, then it’s a friggin’ bad idea, alright? Oh, and we better not be called back here because you ‘forgot’ one of the bags. Deal? And Daryl, just a little warning, Sam doesn’t take too kindly to me getting my ass kicked; he just might want a quick word with you before we leave.” Dean gave Daryl a smile, making the other man extremely nervous. Then a band of pain tightened around his ribs, and he wrapped his arm around them as the cuts and bruises there throbbed. God, he was shattered! He’d told Amber a good night’s sleep and he’d be fine. The way he felt right now, it was more like he could sleep for a month.
Dean felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked around and Amber was stood there, “Don’t worry, Dean, I’ll make sure we collect all the bags, including the ones Daryl didn’t have a chance to plant....right, Daryl?...good. Sam, while you two are in town, the drinks are on me, alright?” She spoke to Sam, who’d appeared on the other side of Dean. Then Amber stepped closer to Dean and placed a kiss on his cheek.
“Thank you, Dean Winchester. Thank you for the strength and courage you showed, along with being one stubborn son of a bitch. Good luck taking care of him, Sam. I get the feeling he’s a bad patient.” She grinned as Dean looked indignant.
“I’ll have you know I’m a model patient, and I keep telling you I’m fine, Amber. I’ll be around tomorrow night for a steak with all the trimmings; I look forward to a free meal.” Dean smiled, but it was weak in comparison to the others he’d given Amber, and his voice was getting quieter.
Sam saw that Dean’s strength was fading. He reached out and opened the Impala’s door, gently taking Dean’s elbow, “Oh, he’s a model patient alright, a perfect model of a pain in the ass. We’ll be here for a couple of days, and I’m sure we’ll be in for a light meal, won’t we, Dean?” Sam took no notice of his brother’s grumbling. He hovered as Dean lowered himself slowly into the passenger seat then he closed the door.
Sam turned to Amber, “Like I said, we’ll be here for a couple of days, so if there are any more problems at the canyon....”
Amber interrupted Sam “I know. Don’t call you. I promise you, Sam, there won’t be any more problems. Now go and look after Dean.” She waved at Dean, smiling.
Sam laughed at Amber; he looked at Daryl, was going to speak to him but was surprised when Daryl went pale and suddenly excused himself. He looked at Amber, puzzled, “What did I do? I was only going to ask him not to do anything stupid again.” Sam watched the other man’s speedy departure
Amber nodded to the car, “Dean suggested you might want a little chat with him before you leave. Concerning his injuries and how he got them. ” She gave a wicked smile
Sam looked bemused and then his face lit up. Dean had saved him a job. He looked over at Daryl and fixed him with a glare, but managed not to laugh when Daryl shot behind Chris. He waved to the others and then went to the driver’s side, “So I’ll see you soon, Amber.” Sam got in the car.
As the engine roared into life and they pulled away, Sam drove carefully across the uneven terrain back towards the road trying not to jostle Dean more than necessary. Amber looked after the Impala, “Oh, you’ll be seeing me soon, Sam, a lot sooner than you think.” She put her hand in her pocket and got her phone.
As he drove Sam kept one eye on Dean who was slumped against the door. What worried him was Dean wasn’t sweating; he really needed to cool him down and get more fluid into him. Dean stirred, his face twisted and then he settled again.
“I’ve told you before, Sammy, you need to keep one eye on the road. I know I’m gorgeous and unless you’ve grown a third eye on the side of your head, you still need to look out of the windshield to see the road.” He smirked and opened his eyes slightly; Sam shook his head in amusement and watched the road.
Amber dialled a number, “Hi, Sandra, it’s Amber. Listen, I’m sorry to disturb you on a Saturday, but I was wondering if you’d mind making a house call....yeah, he‘s just your kind of patient - gorgeous and stubborn as hell. I’ll fill in when we bring Daryl in to be checked over....no, I haven’t tried to kill him. Look, we’ll be with you soon, and Sandra, load your car up with bandages. You’re gonna need ‘em.” She hung up and looked at her expectant friends.
Jim walked over, “Well, what are we going to do, Amber? I mean, those guys just saved all our asses, they should get medals or something.” He looked around to see the others nodding.
Amber gave them a rueful smile, “As much as I would love to give Sam and Dean a ticker tape parade, something tells me those two prefer to stay under the radar. And anyhow, don’t forget we’re supposed to be keeping our little trip out here quiet, remember? No, the best way we can thank them is not to draw too much attention to them. Is that alright with you guys?” She looked at her friends who nodded in agreement.
“Sure, Amber. I should think their life doesn’t exactly put them on most law enforcement Christmas card lists. I mean, for a start they impersonated Gaming Commission agents. And Dean said something about pool playing. More like hustling if you ask me. Do you want help getting Daryl to the docs? Or will you be alright delivering him yourself?” Sara asked.
“I’ll be fine. Come on, Daryl, you and I and going to talk about how you can help our heroes. I’ll see you guys later, alright? Take it easy and.....”
“And don’t tell everyone we see about Great Bear, warrior Trials, and why one of the guests at the Desert Rose Motel looks like he went twenty rounds with Mike Tyson!
I think we can keep quiet, Amber.” Eric smiled and he and the others went to the trucks.
Amber turned to Daryl, “Come on, let’s get you to the clinic, and Sandra can check you over.” She held out her hand towards him. Daryl took it, and followed her to his Mercedes.
Sam pulled up at the motel; the rest of the journey had been silent. Dean had been sitting with his eyes closed, Sam knew he wasn’t asleep. His energy was gone and Dean was doing his best to keep his pain locked away from him. But he was far enough gone to be startled when the car stopped.
Dean blinked blearily. He tried to sit up and bit his lip as his whole body felt as if it was on fire. For a few seconds his head swam and he was dizzy; he swallowed and closed his eyes. He must have lost a few seconds, because the next thing Dean knew was the door was open and Sam was crouched down beside him.
Sam put a hand on Dean’s shoulder, waiting for Dean to get his bearings again, “You ready to get in the room; you said something about getting cleaned up and hitting the sack. It’s been a long night...day whatever. Just don’t use all the hot water, jerk.” Sam moved back a little as Dean slowly edged out of the car. He managed to lift legs that felt like they weighed a tonne out of the car and got ready to follow them.
Dean felt a wave of nausea as he moved. He leant forward slightly and waited for the world to stop spinning. When he was ready, he put his hand on the door frame and pulled himself forward. Sam silently took hold of his brother’s arm and steadied him as he got out of the car. He knew if he asked Dean would refuse his help, but if he just did it then Dean would accept. Sam generally used this as a litmus test for how Dean was really feeling. Accepting help while bitching was generally fine, but the more easily he accepted the help usually indicated how bad he felt.
Accepting help without any complaint meant Dean was ready to crash. Sam wasn’t at all surprised. It was taking all his brother’s last reserves of strength to remain stoic and not let any signs of discomfort show through. Sam wrapped his arm round Dean’s waist again and helped him limp to their room. Sam remembered that Dean had the key; he was just thinking about frisking Dean, “The key’s in my jacket, Sam. Shall I go back and get it?” Although he sounded exhausted he managed a smile.
Sam looked over his shoulder wondering what to do. Should he pick the lock? Kick the door in or... “Dude, just go and get the freaking key. I’ve told you before I’m fine. Just a little tired. Now before I go to sleep standing here, I really would like a shower before bed.” Dean pulled himself away from the safety of Sam’s arms, wobbling a little then propped himself against the door frame.
Sam moved quickly back to the car, opening the trunk where he’d put Dean’s jacket along with their bags. He took the chance to grab the bags as well. He needed his as he was carrying one of the first-aid kits. He knew he’d need most of their supplies to patch Dean up this time. It looked like another supply run to a local hospital was on the cards. Dean kept saying he made one hot nurse, as it was usually him prowling the corridors dressed in ‘borrowed’ scrubs. Sam shut the trunk and walked back to Dean. He could see his brother’s eyes were closed and the line was back between his eyebrows. He put the bags down and searched the leather jacket. Retrieving the key he unlocked the door.
Sam pushed the door open and Dean eased himself off the door frame and staggered inside. He made it safely to the bed closest to the door and sat down heavily. The short walk had robbed him of even more energy; Dean sat hunched forward, trying to gather himself together.
Sam followed him inside, closed the door and dropped the bags by the door. He unzipped his bag and found the first aid kit; Sam walked over to his bed and put the two kits side by side. He glanced at Dean. His brother was sat with his eyes closed. He wondered if he’d gone to sleep like that, it wouldn’t be the first time. Sam turned back to what he was doing, starting to lay what he needed on the bed - sterile dressings, surgical tape, antiseptic wipes, peroxide, and bandages. He’d have to check if any of the cuts needed stitching. He pulled out the dental floss just in case. Happy that his medical equipment was ready he turned around to help Dean.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing now?” Sam asked as he watched Dean struggling to pull his T-shirt over his head.
“Trying to get undressed...son of a bitch!” Dean hissed as he pulled the material away from his body. The movement made some of the shallow cuts start bleeding again where it had gotten stuck to some of his injuries and drying blood.
Sam rolled his eyes and leaned forward, pulling the shirt free of Dean’s body. He never commented on the look of agony that crossed Dean’s face. Instead he bent down and started to untie his boots for him. Dean muttered something and Sam didn’t look up, “Yes, I know you’re perfectly capable of getting undressed, but maybe I don’t want to reset your nose when you take a header off the bed. God, your feet stink! It’s no good. I think I should salt and burn these damn boots, they’re a health hazard.” Sam wrinkled his nose when he pulled the boots off his brother’s feet. He held them at arm’s length, choking.
“Don’t you damn well dare! It’s taken me years to break those puppies in. I just got ‘em comfortable. They don’t smell that bad.” Dean smiled at Sam as he watched him put the offending items down as far away from him as possible.
Sam stood up and shook his head. “Of course they don’t smell that bad, Dean. I‘ve been in graves that didn’t smell as ripe as those things. Now you stay there. I’m going to get us some ice. You’re gonna need those bruises iced...actually, why don’t I fill the bath tub with ice and just throw you in? It might be easier.” He smiled at his brother and then went in search of some ice.
Dean listened for the sound of the door closing. He sat up straighter, “Ok, Winchester, shower time. If Sammy thinks he’s giving me a sponge bath then he’s got another thing coming.” Dean took a breath, and held it. He pushed off the bed and got to his feet, swaying a little. Then he fixed the bathroom door with a determined look. He made steady progress to the bathroom. Once inside he undid his jeans and let them drop to the floor, followed by his boxers.
Dean stepped carefully out of them and turned on the shower. He looked down at his body, wincing at the sight of it. Shit! He felt bad enough then he caught sight of himself in the bathroom mirror. He was smeared with dirt and blood, his skin felt tight and gritty. “Like I said before, it ain’t the years, it’s the mileage. Ah crap! How am I gonna get my socks off?” Dean knew if he either bent over, or crouched down there was no way he was getting up again. He looked at the sink and smiled. He leaned against it, put his foot on the toilet and inched the sock down his leg. He shook his leg and kicked the sock off. Grinning, he repeated the manoeuvre. Finally naked he tested the shower’s temperature. The water was cool and he increased the temperature. Gritting his teeth he stepped under the water.
Dean managed not to scream when it felt like thousands of red-hot needles were raining down on him, “Fuck me.” He couldn’t help the exclamation of pain as the hot water came into contact with his bruised, lacerated and sunburnt skin. Placing his hands on the tiles in front of him he let the water cascade down his body. He looked down and watched the dirt and blood swirl around his feet before draining away. It was the colour of rust, and it made him wish his skin was more like metal then perhaps the simple act of taking a shower wouldn’t hurt so much.
When his arms began to shake, Dean knew he had to hurry up and finish the shower before the last of his strength gave out. He reached for the soap. Picking it up, he began to work it into a lather. Dean started to hum tunelessly to take his mind off what he was about to do. Then he began to wash himself. The hot water from the shower had made his injuries sting. Now as the soap worked its way into scratches, grazes and cuts, it felt like he was back at the Trial and the ladies of the tribe were using him for batting practice once more.
A moan escaped from tightly pressed together lips, but he kept scrubbing away, trying to clean as much dirt out of the open wounds as possible. By the time he was done he had to lean against the wall, shaking from both pain and fatigue. He panted and reached for the shampoo; he might as well do the job properly. As he did he noticed his vision wavering again. Shit, he really had to speed this up. Otherwise Sam would be giving him the kiss of life because he’d found him drowning in the shower, after he’d collapsed. And that was not the way Dean Winchester intended to go out.
Sam had gone in search of the ice machine. He’d found it, and then he’d had to search for a couple of containers for the ice. Finally he’d been successful in his mission, filled the buckets and assessed the amount of ice he had. He decided that if he had to he’d come back later for more. He knew he’d be using a lot of it. He walked back to the room, opened the door, “Ok bro, now let’s get you cleaned up and.....Dean?” Sam looked up and saw his brother wasn’t where he left him. He panicked for a moment and then he heard the shower, and saw steam coming from the slightly open bathroom door. “Oh, goddamnit, Dean, you moron! I told you to wait.” He slammed the two buckets down on the table and walked straight into the bathroom. To hell with the usual privacy rules, this was an emergency.
Sam looked in the shower. Dean had just finished washing his hair, now all his injuries were revealed in glorious, gory detail. Sam swallowed and then spoke, “Crap, Dean, you only had to wait a minute, and how damn hot do you have this water?” Steam was billowing out of the shower and Dean’s skin was scarlet from the hot water. Sam reached round his disorientated brother, wincing at the hot water bouncing off his hand.
Dean lifted his head and looked at Sam, his eyes unfocused, “Dude, stop whingeing. I only took a shower, and the water was cool. What the Hell are you on about?” His words were slurred and Dean took a shaky step towards his brother.
Sam licked his lips and picked up a towel. He handed it to his brother and watched worriedly as Dean struggled to wrap it round his waist. The water had been boiling, not cool. Shit! Now Sam knew he had to cool Dean down, but if he tried to do that too quickly it would only make things worse. Well, for a start he could get him out of the steam-filled bathroom and back to bed. “Come on, Dean, I need to check you over now.” Sam issued the words like an order, and Dean pushed himself forward. He hated using the John Winchester tone, but he knew it always got through to his brother.
Dean struggled out of the shower, took a couple of steps, his knees buckled, and the dizziness was back. Dimly he was aware of someone grabbing him and talking to him. He watched with fascination as the uninspiring carpet moved beneath his feet at speed.
Sam had been waiting for this ever since they’d walked out of the canyon; he knew Dean was going to crash and do it spectacularly. He’d already fainted....sorry, passed out; Sam had known that Dean had been running on empty. Now his body had just issued the I’m done notice. Sam had just taken hold of Dean to get him to the bed as quickly as possible. He’d just put Dean on the bed when there was a knock at the door.