“Oh, for the love of god! Now what?” Sam growled in frustration, looking through the peephole, ready to just ignore the insistent hammering on the door. He was surprised by what he saw and stood away from the door and opened it. Amber swept past him, followed by another Native American woman. By Sam’s estimation the woman was in her forties. She walked quickly past him, and Sam found a heavy duty first-aid kit being thrust into his arms. The woman looked down at the figure on the bed, and smiled.
“Well, Amber, you and the girls weren’t kidding when you told me these two were gorgeous. Now I’m guessing the vertical one is Sam, and the cutie on the bed is my patient, Dean...well, don’t just stand there, you two! Get the rest of my stuff....And for Pete’s sake, hurry up. So we can get the poor boy off this germ infested comforter now!” She walked beside Dean and hurried Sam and Amber into action with a glare.
Sam put the kit down on the floor and followed Amber outside, “Who the hell is that? And what’s going on, Amber.” He followed Amber to a light blue SUV.
She opened the trunk and started handing things to Sam, “That is Sandra, the best...the only doctor in town. She’s going to help you patch Dean up; we thought it might be more than a one-man job...I thought if Dean won’t go the clinic, then the clinic will come to Dean, and you can call Dean’s medical care a gift from Daryl and his American Express card. And be nice to Sandra - she’s my cousin.” Amber shut the trunk and Sam staggered under the weight of more medical equipment.
He followed Amber as she walked back to the room, “Oh, so she’s your cousin. I should’ve got the family resemblance from the whole ‘just taking over and ordering people around’ thing.” Sam muttered and Amber looked over her shoulder and grinned at him.
When they got back inside, Sandra was taking Dean’s pulse and had her hand on his forehead. She ran her thumb back and forth for a moment. Dean leaned into the touch, eliciting a smile from Sandra. “Well, honey, you really are a hot one - both in looks and temperature. You got the rest of the stuff? Good. Sam, you’re gonna move your brother while I put something better on the bed. Amber, get the pillows off.” Sam moved forward, quickly impressed with Sandra’s no-nonsense attitude. He considered rolling Dean but in the end he scooped his arms beneath him and lifted him carefully off the bed.
Sandra picked up a blue surgical cloth from her kit, not exactly sterile but a lot better than the motel comforter to work on. She watched, impressed with Sam’s careful handling of his brother. “Sexy and strong! Tell me, sugar, you lookin’ for a girlfriend? I happen to know of an older woman on the lookout for a little... or should I say, large bit of company.” She laughed as Sam blushed, and spread the material on the bed, motioning it was safe to put Dean back down.
Sandra walked to the first-aid kit. Opening it, she took out three packets of surgical gloves, handing one to Amber and the other to Sam. She tore open the packet and pulled them swiftly over her hands. “Ok, children, this is what we’re gonna do. Amber, you’ll just do as you’re told for once. Sam, judging by the way you’ve got your med kit laid out, congratulations, you’re gonna be my scrub nurse. Although if you’re the one who’s patched your brother up in the past, it might end up the other way round. Now if you’ll excuse me I‘ll just finish my examination of Dean.”
Sandra moved back to Dean, deftly running her hands over his body, paying extra attention to his ribs. She palpated his abdomen, looking relieved when she found no signs of internal bleeding. Sandra continued on down, ending at the soles of Dean’s feet. Sandra stood back and appraised Dean; she turned to face Sam and Amber. “Right! First off, judging by the steam, and the fact that I got me one gorgeous wet man to take care of I’d say he just took a shower. Sam, I’ve got some good news, and I got some bad news on your brother’s condition. Which do you want first?” Sandra spoke in a relaxed manner, lifting some of the tension Sam had been feeling.
“Dean always tells me I’m a pessimist, so hit me with the bad news first over what we’re facing.” He was pulling on his gloves as he spoke.
“The bad news is, due to the hot shower he’s just damn near peeled his skin off with, we gotta start bringing his temp down ASAP, but you already know that. Amber start filling those nice bags Sam’s got on the bed with ice, and you know where to place ‘em. And you get the great job of cooling Dean down while me an’ Sam clean him up...Well, go on, woman, don’t just stand there gawping.” Amber almost stood to attention and then started to fill bags.
Sam grinned as Amber did as she was told, “Right, so that’s the bad news. What’s the good news then?” Sam followed the doctor as she led him to the bed.
“The good news is, due to the hot shower, he’s managed to clean a lot of the crap out of the open wounds, making our job a little easier. Ok. A quick rundown on his condition. We’re talking dehydration, heat exhaustion. He’s had the shit kicked out of him more than once, judging the age of some of the bruises, along with cracked ribs and pretty impressive sunburn. Dean’s injuries ain’t life threatening, but they’re gonna hurt like a bitch for a few days. Our main job will be to rehydrate him, and make sure his brain doesn’t boil. Do you agree with my diagnosis, nurse Winchester?” Sandra asked with a twinkling smile.
Sam’s eyes swept up and down Dean’s body. He nodded. “I completely agree with your diagnosis and I’m impressed with your use of medical terminology, doctor. As a favour to me, don’t let Dean hear you calling me nurse Winchester or I’ll never hear the end of it. How we going to handle it?” Sam smiled at the doctor, liking her attitude, standing ready to help.
Sandra was pleased with Sam’s manner. If he’d started hand wringing or whimpering, he would’ve been outside on his fine ass. But from what Amber had told her about the brothers that had been the last thing she’d expected. “Amber, get the IV pole and set it up. I’ve got some fluids with me and I’ll start pushing them through. I’ve also got enough antibiotics to start a biological war against half the bacteria in the state. Dean allergic to anything?” She looked at Sam who shook his head.
“While we’re doing that, Amber, try and cool him down. Now I hate to do this, Sam, but I can’t really risk giving him too much pain relief until his temp is down. I need to know he’s lucid before I send him off to La-La land. What his pain threshold like?” Amber had finished setting up the IV pole, and Sandra was setting up the first bag of fluid. She lifted Dean’s hand, cleaned it, then with quick efficient movements she slid home a long needle and inserted the cannula to allow her to set up the drip. Dean stirred slightly when that happened then stopped moving. Sandra frowned but carried on working. She picked up several vials, and began to inject contents directly into the cannula.
“Right, that’s the first dose of antibiotics in. Something for nausea and some Ibuprofen to help with any muscle cramping. You never answered my question, Sam. But after what Amber and the girls told me and judging by the scars your brother has, I’d say his pain threshold’s pretty damn high, right?” Sandra stepped back, looking sympathetically at Sam.
“Yeah, he’s got a very high threshold. Well, he’s very good at hiding how bad the pain is. If you ask on a scale of one to ten what the pain’s like, it’s usually a five, add on two and you’re getting closer.” Sam was staring at his brother as he spoke.
Sandra nodded thoughtfully, “Let’s get on with it, shall we? What do you say, Sam? Start at the top and work our way down? I think his feet are gonna need some work; I’m thinking local anaesthetic for that. Ready? Oh, I need to wake him up for a minute, alright, Sam? Feel free to raid the med kits, and cut loose. Ok people we got a long afternoon ahead of us, well come on let’s go.” Sandra moved closer to Dean’s head. She could see Sam sorting through the supplies and Amber was placing the bags of ice, behind his knees, between his thighs, and his arm pits. She was just about to place the last one behind his neck when Sandra motioned for her to wait.
She sighed to herself; she really didn’t want to have to cause the battered man on the bed more pain but sometimes being a doctor really sucked. Sandra reached over stroked gently along Dean’s collar bone and then pressed down with her knuckle hoping the painful stimulus would wake him, “Come on, honey, I need to look at those beautiful green eyes of yours. All the girls raved about ‘em, now I want to see them for myself.” Sandra kept up the pressure, watching as Dean’s eyes flicked back and forth rapidly beneath his eyelids.
Finally she was rewarded by them fluttering open. As Dean came to with a gasp, shocked, dazed eyes stared up at her. She could see he was trying to figure out where the hell he was. “Hi there, honey. The girls weren’t lying to me when they told me you had pretty eyes. Now let me look at them.” Sandra checked the pupils, “Equal and reactive. Good, no concussion then. Dean, honey, I need you to stay awake for me, while we get your temperature down, alright? We’ll patch you up real quick and then you can get some rest.” She moved and started to work on cleaning the many cuts and grazes, on the man lying on the bed.
Sam was already working, carefully cleaning a cut made by one of the knives thrown at his brother during the last part of the Trial. He felt Dean’s hands tighten into fists, grabbing the blue material on the bed, as he tried to block out what he and Sandra where doing. Sam lifted his eyes to look at his brother’s face. Dean was staring at the ceiling. Sam knew he was getting ready to leave the building once more, then Dean’s eyes went unfocused and Sam relaxed. Dean had put himself far away from the pain of his injuries, and the treatment he was enduring.
Sam worked in earnest; he didn’t want Dean like that for too long. He knew this would take time, but he still wanted the patching up done as soon as possible; he worked on cleaning and covering the wounds. Sandra worked in tandem the other side of Dean, both of them concentrating on what they were doing.
Sam and Sandra carried on their grisly toil, cleaning debris from the cuts and washing them out with antiseptic, then moving on to repeat the process all over again. Amber went to the bathroom and filled a bowl with tepid water; her cousin had warned her against using cold water. The ice was doing was doing the hard work of cooling him; all she had to do was help it along. Now she stood at the head of the bed, and gently wiped Dean’s face with a cool damp cloth. She carried on down his neck and swept the cloth over his chest, trying to avoid as many of the scratches as possible. Then she dipped the cloth in the bowl, wrung it out and started again. The three of them fell into an easy rhythm, time passing as they worked.
She wiped Dean’s face again and noticed glassy eyes fixed on her. There was a line between his eyebrows and his lips moved, but she couldn’t hear what he was saying. She leant forward to catch the words Dean was saying then she heard Sandra talking to Sam.
“It’s a damned hard life you two boys lead, ain’t it? You’ve done this more than a few times, I can tell. Because you’re damned good at what you’re doing, Sam, it speaks of lots and lots of practice. I got qualified nurses who ain’t got your touch.” Sandra watched the young man opposite her, cleaning a fairly deep cut. Dean flinched slightly and without stopping, Sam rested his hand Dean’s arm, the touch calming the injured man once more.
He looked over at her, his hazel eyes filled with resignation; this was hurting him almost as much as it was hurting his older brother, “We’ve both had lots of practice at this kind of thing. Although Dean does better stitches than me; they’re always neat and small. Dean spent a lot of his childhood patching our Dad up. Welcome to the family business, doc - hunting ghosts and monsters, and they tend not to go quietly. If he wasn’t patching us up it was the other way round. Dean has an amazing ability to get between me and the things that want to kill me. It means I’m really good at putting him back together....Dean?” While Sam had been talking he’d felt a change in his brother. His muscles were tensing and Sam realized he hadn’t been able to lock himself away; it must be the high temperature, he thought. A tremor ran through Dean’s body and his muscles started to cramp.
Sam stood up and began to massage Dean’s thigh muscle when it went tight and Dean’s face contorted, “Sam, keep that up, I’ll keep on cleaning. Amber, what the hell you doin’? You’re supposed to be cooling him down.” Sandra snapped out.
Amber looked up, “It’s Dean. He’s trying to say something. I can’t make it out.” She turned back to Dean. His eyes roamed round the room, struggling to make sense of what was happening to him. Amber kept soothing his overheated skin with the cloth, willing it to work faster. Amber stroked his face gently with her hand. At that touch Dean turned into it and what he was saying became clearer.
“Mom?” Dean’s voice sounded impossibly young when he uttered that soft plea, and that one word stopped Sam dead as he looked up at his delirious brother. He moved up the bed and gently touched his cheek. Dean’s eyes snapped onto Sam, a look of loss and confusion crossed his face. Sam felt his heart constricting. This was Dean with his walls down, the only time he allowed his losses to come to the surface, “Hey bro, how you doing? You’re a little hot. Want something to drink?” As Sam spoke softly, Amber turned and rummaged in the cooler bag they brought in. She pulled out of bottle of cold Gatorade and passed it to Sam.
Sam unscrewed the cap, carefully lifted Dean’s head and held the bottle to Dean’s dry lips. Nothing happened at first when Sam tilted the bottle then finally Dean took a drink. His eyes slid closed as the cool liquid trickled down his throat. Sam waited and tried again, feeling his hopes rise as Dean continued to drink. Sam took the bottle away; he needed the fluid to stay down, and if Dean drank too much too quickly, he’d likely throw up. Sam gently massaged the back of his brother’s neck, watching Dean relax into his touch, letting Sam take care of him for once.
Amber handed Sam the cloth and went to take his place, continuing to clean the cuts and massage tired cramping muscles like Sandra was doing. Sam picked up the cloth and started to mop Dean’s face. Once again green eyes opened; he fixed Sam with a searching look. The young man felt his heart stutter at that look. Everything was there in Dean’s eyes - the loss and pain he’d endured in his life and the desperate need for his family all swam clearly in his expressive gaze. “S’mmy, is Dad here? Is he alright?” Dean’s words were slurred; Sam didn’t know what to do. He looked away from those piercing eyes, unable to tell him the truth about their Dad being Dad and bring the crushing loss of their father back down on burdened shoulders once more.
He looked at Amber and Sandra, and the women stopped working, watching him. Sam pulled himself together and looked back to his brother, “He’s not here, Dean, he’s working a gig with Bobby. You just need to relax and cool down, ok?” Sam was impressed; he managed to keep his voice steady as he lied. He didn’t feel guilty, as he knew Dean wouldn’t remember any of this once these fever-induced dreams passed. Dean never did. Sam carried the memories of Dean begging him and Dad to stay and not leave him behind again. Sam managed a slight smile, and carried on trying to cool his brother down.
As he bathed heated skin with cool water Dean said, “It’s ok, I get it. Dad doesn’t want to stick around a screw-up like me, and I know you’ll go back to school soon, Sammy. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine...” His voice faded and he gasped as another wave of cramping swept through his body, his head thrown back, his teeth gritted. The jolt of pain going through him brought him back to the room, and Dean’s eyes became clearer as he took in his surroundings.
Sam wiped him down again, “Amber, we need more ice. These bags have nearly melted, come on, Dean, breathe through it. That’s it.” He was aware of Amber leaving the room, and he carried on keeping his brother calm.
When Amber returned, Sam helped fill more bags of ice. Sandra looked up, “Sam, I’m going to need help turning Dean over. I have to look at his back.”
Sam left Amber and went to help Sandra, placing his hand on Dean’s shoulder. His brother winced at the touch, making Sam’s heart ache, “Ok, Dean, you need to turn over. Sandra wants to check out your ass and she can’t do that with you lying like this.” Sam wasn’t sure if Dean was with him, then he heard a weak laugh, making him relax a litle. Dean’s temperature must be coming down.
Dean made a weak effort to turn himself over, and Sam helped to roll him. He heard Dean groaning as his chest hit the bed. Sam patted his shoulder gently, and looked at Sandra.
He saw Sandra’s face as she took in the extensive bruising and welts from the beating, along with the older bruises to his shoulders; she couldn’t keep her professional demeanour in place. Her breath caught, and she reached out, gently running her fingers down Dean’s body, probing the marks carefully.
Dean shuddered at the touch, and managed to look over his shoulder, “Lady, you sure you’re a doctor? Because the last time I got touched like that, Sammy spent the night alone in the motel.” The words were still slurred, but there was a spark of mischief in his eyes.
Sandra grinned, “Oh, honey, of course I’m a doctor, but you tell me where it says I can’t enjoy my work? Darling, you got the kind of ass that makes up for all the saggy asses I see every day. Shame about the bruises though. Feel like sticking around so I can see it when it ain’t black and blue?” She gave a throaty laugh as she picked up fresh gauze, ready to start cleaning the new injuries turning Dean over had revealed.
Sam brought fresh bags of ice to the bed and began to place them round Dean. He put his hand in the centre of Dean’s back and was shocked at how warm he still was. He looked up at Dean’s eyes and once again he seemed to be drifting away. Sam packed as many bags he could around his brother, making him shiver. Sam ignored the trembling and started to wipe Dean down again with a damp cloth. He glanced at Sandra who was frowning at Dean, noticing that he was slipping away again.
“Sam, keep on going. I don’t want to have to put him in a bath to cool him down, but if this keeps up I won’t have a choice. I’d only do the same at the clinic. We can’t afford those fancy cooling blankets; we have to do things old school....Dean, come on, calm down, you’ll hurt yourself.”
While they’d been talking Dean had become agitated, fighting against the cold seeping into his body. He just wanted to get away from the cold and get warm again. His skin hurt and he just wanted to go to sleep but the cold wouldn’t let him rest. Dean tried to get up but he felt hands pushing him down. The feeling of being held down made him fight back against unknown enemies, lashing out frantically.
Sam was struggling to hold his brother, “What the fuck, Sandra? I thought he was getting better. He was cooling down. What’s happening?” Sam was trying desperately to keep his agitated brother calm. Sandra looked at Dean, trying to comprehend what was happening to him then something caught her eye.
As Dean kicked out the doctor saw something, “It’s his feet. It looks like one of them has an infection developing. I think there’s something in a wound. That would explain the spike in temperature. Ok, you need to calm him down, and I’ll get to work on his feet.” Sandra turned away and started to prepare for more serious medical attention for Dean.
Sam ducked out of the way of a well-aimed elbow. Even half out of his mind, weak with fever, his brother was still a dangerous opponent. Sam motioned for Amber to stand back. He let go of Dean and straightened to attention. He drew in a breath and offered a silent apology for what he was about to do. “DEAN WINCHESTER! You lie still for the doctor, so she can patch you up. Suck it up, son, it’s just ice. It won’t hurt you.” Sam’s voice came out in a frighteningly accurate impression of their father. He felt a wave of grief flow over him when Dean stopped moving and lay still, shivering weakly as he desperately tried to obey a John Winchester order.
Amber looked on in shock, “What the hell just happened, Sam? I thought we were going to have to restrain him. What did you just do?” She watched as Sam moved back beside his brother. The hunter picked up the cloth, wrung it out, and gently pressed it against the back of Dean’s neck.
“You just witnessed one of our Dad’s lasting legacies. It was something that caused a lot of trouble between me and Dean. Dad was very good at giving orders, and Dean was brilliant at obeying him - the times I’ve called him daddy’s little solider. Yet when I have to, I use the thing I hated most, to deal with Dean when nothing else will reach him. God, I’m sorry, dude. Sandra, you found anything?” Sam’s tone was resigned at having to do that, but he had no other option. If it was a choice between using Dad’s orders, or letting Dean get worse, then he’d become a drill sergeant in a heartbeat.
Sandra was scrutinizing Dean’s feet, “They’re like the rest of him...a mess. We’re talking deep bruising and lacerations...and ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. I can see the problem...problems - debris lodged deep; I’ll start numbing his feet and get to work. Is he going to behave because I like my nose as it is? It’s one of my best features.” Sandra prepared the local anaesthetic as she spoke.
Sam was repositioning the bags of ice. He looked at Dean whose teeth were chattering, and Sam could see there was a real battle going on inside of Dean. On one hand, he was trying to follow dad’s orders and stay still. On the other, Dean’s natural instincts to escape from what he perceived to be the source of his pain, was heart rending. Knowing Dean would crawl over broken glass if Dad had told him to he looked at Sandra, “Go ahead, Sandra. Dean will stay still and that’s a promise.” Sam returned to trying to cool his brother down. He reached out and placed his hand over Dean’s just to let him know he wasn’t alone in this fight.
Sandra concentrated on what she was doing. Amber came and stood by her, “Good, you can help. I’ll need to wash the wounds out with saline so I can see what’s going on. That’s your job, Amber. Ok, Sam, the local’s working, but with how deep some of these things are, I hate to say it, it’s still gonna hurt.”
Before Sam had a chance to answer another voice beat him to it, “Go ahead, doc, do your worst. When you’ve been operated on by Dr Frankenstein’s creature up there, anything else is a walk in the park.” Dean’s rough voice brought Sam down to his knees, so he was level with Dean’s eyes.
Sam gave his brother a smile. He could see Dean was drifting in and out of reality, but he hoped by being close he’d give Dean something to hold onto. Dean shivered again, and Sam wanted nothing more than to pick up the bags of ice and dump them in the trash but they had to cool him down. But that was something he couldn’t do, no matter what, Dean had to cool down. Sam set up an easy rhythm, keeping the cool damp cloth moving. All the while his thumb stroked back and forth across the back of Dean’s hand; knowing the contact would distract Dean from what was happening. Then slowly his brother’s eyelids slipped closed again. Sam relaxed when that happened; he was hoping the cooling was starting to work, and now Dean could finally get some well-earned rest.
Sam looked down the bed where Sandra and Amber were working. Sandra was concentrating hard, and Amber looked more than a little queasy, “If you’re gonna puke or faint, you give me that damn bottle and fall backwards and not on top of sexy lying here. You hear me, girl?” Sandra looked up at her cousin a smile on her face, “Amber, you’re doin’ great. I know this is hard, but trust me, you’re doin’ fine. Speaking of fine, how’re you and Dean holding up?” Sandra’s warm brown eyes met Sam’s.
Sam shrugged, “You know. Same shit, different day. It’s nice to have help rather than try and clean him up, hold him down and keep him cool on my own. It’s days like this I wish that Dad was.... or figure out how to clone myself. Keep going, Sandra. The sooner it’s done the better, and thanks for this.” Sam’s sad but earnest smile brought one in return.
Sandra looked back at her work. She pulled at a deeply embedded piece of debris, frowning, “Sugar, if you figure out how to clone yourself, put me down for one. Oh and do one of your brother as well. I’d hate to break up a set.....come on, come on, you stubborn piece of... got it!” As she said that she smiled triumphantly as the debris came free. “It looks like I was right, Sam, this is the source of the problem. If we get this cleaned out and wrapped up, Dean should feel better, and his temp will start to drop.”
Sandra carried on, and then Sam noticed Dean’s hand moving; he was gripping the bed tightly once more, and Sam knew that his brother could feel the probing and pulling of the debris removal. Sam gently prised the white-knuckled hand loose, “I don’t care how chick flick this is, you hold onto to me and stay with me, Dean. Almost done, I promise.” Sam wrapped his brother’s hand in his and squeezed gently.
Dean blearily opened his eyes, and rolled them at Sam, “Can you get any more girlie, Samantha? I keep telling you, I’m fine....SON OF A BITCH!” Dean ground out and grabbed Sam’s fingers tightly, gritting his teeth and breathing harshly through the pain.
Sam looked up in shock at his brother’s exclamation. He swung to face Sandra, ready to ask what the fuck she thought she was doing. The demand for answer died on his lips when he looked at her.
Sitting back with a look of victory on her face, the doctor held something in the tweezers. She held it up to the light, “Here ya go, folks, the villain of the piece. It’s a splinter. Some kind of thorn or wood. I’d say about two inches long. It wasn’t lying horizontal in his foot, it had pushed straight in. It must’ve been like walking with a nail driven through his foot. How the hell did he manage to do that? Ok, Superman, we’re really over the worst part. It’s just cleaning and patching up now.” Sandra looked down again.
“Not Superman....more like Batman. He’s got the coolest car, and I got my own Robin. You should see him in tights....” Dean said softly, and then he coughed. Sam reached for the Gatorade and brought the bottle to his brother’s lips.
Sandra looked at the young men as she worked. That splinter had been the root cause of the infection that caused Dean’s temperature to spike. She put pressure on where the splinter had been, cleaning out the infection until all that ran from the wound was bright red blood. Then she smothered the area in antibiotic cream, and covered Dean’s tattered feet with gauze and bandaged them.
Sandra sat back, damn her back was killing her from sitting like this for so long. She was ready to finish cleaning the other injuries, but for a moment she took her time to study the brothers. She’d been waiting to meet the young men since last night after a phone call from Albert about where Amber had gone, and he’d warned her of what was to happen. Many years ago she too had set out on the Shaman’s path, but she’d had soon discovered that her healing skills lay with conventional medicine and not medicine bags. She’d become a doctor, but she still held her belief in the Ancestors and had gone with Albert to the canyon in the past to help with the rituals. Then when the trouble at the site started she and the Albert had waited for what his dreams had told him would come to pass. That Amber would face Great Bear, and she would be helped by a pair of warriors - brothers, and there they were in front of her.
Sandra felt humbled to be part of this. Not only had Sam and Dean saved Amber and her friends but they had managed to save Great Bear and the rest of the ghostly tribe from destruction. Albert knew about hunters; as a shaman he’d dealt with them in the past. They had come to him when they had needed help or totems to deal with restless spirits. He’d known that if the ghosts had become more violent and other hunters had come, then they wouldn’t have hesitated to destroy the canyon and the ghosts within. But these young men had managed to deal with Great Bear, and allowed the warriors to remain in that sacred place.
They had proved to her that there were still warriors out there in the world. Men prepared to put their lives in jeopardy for others, and she knew the brothers would do it time and time again. Sandra looked on as Sam carried on bathing Dean, smiling at something Dean had muttered. The young man seemed to be relaxing, happier, knowing his brother was no longer in the grip of a fever.
Sandra stood up and stretched, “Ok, kiddies, let’s finish up, and turn Dean here into a mummy. How’s the ice, honey?”Sandra asked Dean as she moved back up his body.
Dean turned his head to her and gave a weak grin, “Freakin’ freezing, and they said Sam got all the brains in the family. Any chance we’re gonna be done before little Dean gets frostbite? It’s just that I’m very attached to him.” His teeth chattered as he spoke.
Sandra produced a thermometer; she hadn’t needed it before. Dean’s symptoms had told her how dangerously high his temperature was; now it was time to check it properly. She slipped it under Dean’s tongue and he glared up at her mutinously. “You just relax, honey. If you’re a good boy I’ll let Sam start removing the ice bags. Plus I’d hate to deprive the women of the world of yours and little Dean’s company.” She heard Sam laugh and Dean just scowled at that.
Sandra checked the IV. The bag of fluid was empty so she changed it over. “Sam, the second bag should be enough to rehydrate Dean, especially if you can get him to drink. I’ll leave another one with you in case. Ok, Dean, honey, let me look at your temperature.....one hundred. Still a little warm, but nothing to worry about. It should keep coming down. Sam, I’ll leave my number. If his temperature goes up, you fetch me right away, ok? Oh and you can start to get rid of the ice.” She heard the sigh of relief from Dean as Sam and Amber began to ease the bags from around his body.
Once again Sam helped Sandra with cleaning and bandaging Dean. Sandra was happy enough with Dean’s temperature that she injected some sedative into his IV port, and they watched as Dean finally slipped into much-needed sleep. The final injuries they tended were the ones to Dean’s wrists, the ghostly rope had bitten deeply, bruising and tearing the fragile skin. Sam and Sandra cleaned the wounds carefully and then bandaged them. Then they sat back and took a look at the man lying on the bed. There was more bandages than skin on display, and the bruising promised to be even more spectacular in a couple of days. Sandra felt a sense of relief flow over her. It all could’ve been a hell of a lot worse, but the Great Spirit had been smiling on them and Dean would make a full recovery.
The room looked as if a bomb had gone off; there were medical supplies strewn everywhere. She sighed. Time to start cleaning up, but before that, “Sam, help me move Dean. I’m gonna put some fresh sheets on the bed. I don’t want to see all our hard work go to waste because he’s lying on damn motel sheets.” Sandra reached into a bag and produced sheets from the clinic. Once again Sam lifted Dean off the bed; Dean made a soft sound of protest at being disturbed. Sandra watched the young man smile fondly at his sleeping sibling. She motioned to Amber to get to work on the bed. They stripped the soiled and damp sheets off the bed, and quickly replaced them with clean ones.
Sandra stepped out of the way and Sam placed his brother back on the bed, covering him with a sheet, “I suppose I ought to let him have a little modesty, although Amber spent the day seeing him naked.” Sam grinned at the young shaman as she blushed.
Sandra was picking up the trash. “Damn shame she only got to view that fine ass being kicked, but I live in hope of seeing it when he gets better.” Sam quirked an eyebrow at the doctor. She grinned back unrepentantly, “I mean for medical purposes only, of course. Now you two gonna just stand there, or you gonna help me clean this place up. Then I want the two of you to get some rest. You’re not gonna be any good to Dean if you keel over. Now come on.” They set to work.
Soon the room was tidy once more and Sandra was giving Dean a final check, “Really, all you can do is get him to rest. He should be up and about long before I’m happy that’s he’s up and about. Am I right?” She looked at Sam who just rolled his eyes at her. “Why am I not surprised? Ok, Sam, I’ve left you antibiotics and painkillers, and tell your brother not to be a damn hero about it. If it hurts, tell him to take the damn painkillers. Come, Amber, let’s get you home so you can get cleaned up and come back here.” Amber looked startled as Sandra said that, “Oh, come on, girl. There’s no way you won’t be back. Now come on.” Sandra took hold of Amber’s arm and led her out of the room.
Sam sat down gently on the bed beside Dean; he reached out to straighten the sheet. He glanced round the room, and he realized how much time had passed, it had been early afternoon when they’d started to work on his brother’s injuries. Now judging by the shadows in the room, several hours had gone by. He let his hand rest on Dean’s chest, feeling the reassuring beat of his brother’s heart. Sam looked into Dean’s sleeping face. All signs of pain were gone and he looked at peace. Sam knew Dean was far from being at peace, “Looks like we dodged another bullet. How many more times is that going to happen before our luck runs out? God, Dean, I don’t know why you think I can do this without you. I need you here. I just got used to us being brothers again. Get some rest, jerk; I know you’ll soon be up and about, driving me nuts.” Sam gently patted Dean’s chest and pulled up a chair to sit with him.
Sam was sitting at the table looking at his lap top when the door knocked. He’d been expecting it. He smiled and went over to the door. It was dark outside Amber stood there and she’d brought food with her. Sam’s face lit up with a warm smile.
“Evening, Sam. Well, I couldn’t let you starve while you looked after our hero, now could I?” Amber sat down and looked over to Dean’s sleeping form. “I brought some soup for Dean. Sandra’s orders. I’m kind of glad he’s still asleep. I’d hate to disappoint him about the steak and all the trimmings. That’s for you. How’s he doing?” Amber turned back to look at Sam; he looked tired but happy.
Sam was just about to start eating; he looked over at Dean. “He woke up earlier. I got him to drink another bottle of Gatorade, and he went back to sleep. I managed to get a shower and I’ve been taking it easy before the fun starts, and Dean tries to get out of staying in bed. There have been times I’ve considered handcuffing him to the bed, but I’m sure he’d escape. Are you ok? And did Sandra patch Daryl up? I forgot to ask earlier.” He sat back.
Amber smiled and leaned back in her chair, “Well, I wish you luck looking after Dean. And all things considered, I’m fine and Daryl is keeping a very low profile. Word is getting out about what happened at the canyon. The elders want to talk to Daryl about Great Bear and his men being summoned. They’re not very happy with him at the minute. And don’t worry, Sam. No one knows about you and Dean being there.”
Sam relaxed when she said that. He really didn’t want to have to move Dean any time soon, and if people started asking questions about them, then they’d have to move on.
“Amber, back at the canyon. That song about Dean. I got the warrior part, but Dean, a shaman? That I didn’t get. After all you’re a shaman. How come they called him that?” Sam pushed his food around his plate.
“Dean acted as mediator between the warriors and us, between the living and the dead. It is part of what a shaman does, and if you think about it, you two do it all the time. My role as shaman encompasses that and more. I perform magic and ask the Ancestors for guidance. You and Dean have always walked with one foot in the world of the spirit. After all, you lay restless spirits to rest. I do the same.” She smiled at Sam, waiting to see what he would say to that.
“We lay spirits to rest, alright, but we don’t use ritual and prayer. We take the direct approach - rock salt and burning the bones. I still don’t get how we compare.” He looked perplexed.
Amber smiled, “Look, you set trapped sprits free. You send them onto their rest. So what if our methods differ. You and Dean are not so different to me. We fight the darkness. We just have different weapons at our disposal. Believe me. You deserve the title warrior and shaman for what you do. Don’t ever think otherwise.” She reached out and placed her hand on top of Sam’s.
Just then Dean moaned softly and Sam’s head snapped round towards that sound. Amber knew their discussion was over, as Sam stood up to see what his brother needed. “Hey, Sam, do you need any help with Sleeping Beauty there?” Amber stood up and went to help Sam with Dean.
Dean woke up slowly; he felt like he was floating which usually meant he’d had some of the good stuff. It felt as if he’d been wrapped in cotton wool, and he knew that feeling would soon disappear. And all the aches and pains would be back with a vengeance. He just wanted the blissful feeling to carry on as long as possible, but his bladder had more pressing issues. He groaned and managed to roll onto his side; he gritted his teeth as his body made its displeasure very plain at being disturbed. Dean did an inventory of himself, checking what hurt but after a few seconds he gave up on that. He decided to concentrate on what didn’t hurt, that was going to be quicker. After some consideration he decided his hair felt pretty good....then again, even that ached.
He blinked his eyes and waited for them to focus, the bed next to him was empty. It was light and Sam was most likely up and around. Dean took as deep a breath as he could manage with his banged-up ribs yelling loudly at him, and slowly pushed himself up to a sitting position. He waited for the room to stop whirling round and then he threw back the sheet. He looked down to find that Sam had put some boxers on him. Thank God for that, he thought, then Dean swung his legs out of bed. He’d forgotten about his feet, but he was soon reminded when they touched the floor.
The room suddenly went dark as heat swept up his legs. His tortured feet howled when he tried to stand up; the next thing he knew there was a voice calling him, “Dean, damnit! Why is it every time I leave the room, you try to do yourself more damage? Where the Hell were you going this time?” Dean blinked a couple of times, and Sam’s angry features came into sharp focus.
Dean smiled at the familiar bitch face, “And good morning to you too, Sammy. I need the bathroom if that’s alright with you. Now are you going to get out of my way or is this going to get physical?” Dean was trying for intimidating, but the effect was ruined when Sam let go of him and he started to topple forward.
“Ok, maybe this time I’ll let you help me. But it’s only because I’m such a great brother to you, and I need to indulge your mother hen instincts from time to time.” Dean looked up and smiled weakly, and then he took hold of Sam’s arms, letting his brother pull him to his feet. The world went dark again, and once the fire in his legs became manageable, he indicated they were ready to move. Sam supported most of his weight as they walked to the bathroom.
When they got there, Dean motioned for Sam to let go, “Sam, as much as I love you, there are certain things I have to do alone. Now back up.” Dean staggered inside.
Sam stood waiting for him to come out. If he wasn’t out soon he was going in to fetch him and to hell with the bitching. The motel door knocked and Sam went to answer it. Amber stood there with breakfast, “Morning, Sam, I just happened to be passing when these pancakes fell into my bag, and I thought of my favourite hunter.....and what the hell are you doing out of bed?” Amber was looking past Sam as Dean struggled out of the bathroom.
Sam turned around, walked to his brother and unceremoniously half carried him back to bed, “What are you gonna do now? Tuck me in and read me a bed-time story too? Hi, Amber. Did someone mention pancakes?” Dean looked hungrily at the food Amber carried.
She grinned at him, “And good morning to you too. I’d ask how you’re feeling but I know all you’ll say is ‘I’m fine’. So Sam, how is he this morning?” She ignored Dean’s look of hurt innocence.
Sam took off his jacket, “Oh, he’s being his usual stubborn self. I’d just gone to put something in the Impala and he was making a break for the bathroom. Situation normal. You ok, Amber?” Sam rolled up his sleeves and smiled at the young woman.
Amber was just getting the pancakes out when they heard, “Ahhh, come on. Really?” Sam and Amber turned to look at Dean; he was staring at his left hand with a look of resignation on his face. His little finger was taped to his ring finger, obviously broken, “Shit! When I was doing the Trial yesterday, my little finger was the only part of me that didn’t hurt, and now you’re telling me it’s busted! Crap!” Dean looked up with an expression of misery of his face. Sam couldn’t help but burst out laughing, and Amber joined in.
“Oh, that’s it! Mock an injured man. Thank you. Now I know where I stand. I get no respect. You get your ass kicked for people, and this is how you thank me...by laughing. Pass me some pancakes and I’ll forgive you. Let me have some coffee and I’ll love you forever.” Dean looked hopefully at his brother, who shook his head and brought him a plate of pancakes and a glass of orange juice. Dean looked mournfully at the cup of coffee Sam had. He sighed and started to eat with a moan of appreciation.
At that noise Amber flushed and looked heavenwards. Damn! She wished Dean wouldn’t make sounds like that. She pulled herself together grabbed her and Sam’s plate, and then sat down by Sam on his bed. They ate quietly and then sat talking. Dean looked pale and complained when Sam made him take his meds, saying he didn’t need the painkillers but he caved when Sam had stood there with a forlorn look on his face.
There was a knock at the door. Sam opened it and Sandra pushed past him, standing in the middle of the room. “You boys got any trouble with the Feds heading your way?” Sandra said by way of greeting.
Sam looked at Dean in alarm, “How the hell did Hendrickson get on our trail so damn fast? Shit! We gotta get out of here now. Sorry, ladies, but you need to go.” Sam was trying to usher Amber and Sandra out of the room.
Sandra just waved her hands at him, “Well, that answers my question. Relax, handsome, they ain’t coming for you just yet. The sheriff just told me the Feds are nosing round... well, good morning, honey. Lovely to see you up and about.” She smiled over at Dean and went to the bed.
Dean smiled up at Sandra. He didn’t have too many clear memories of the woman, but he knew he liked her. She was examining him and he could see Sam building up to a meltdown, “Sandra, what did the sheriff tell you, and how did you get to hear about the F.B.I?” He gifted the doctor with a dazzling smile.
She was checking Dean’s pulse, “Darlin’, you smile at me like that again and I’ll tell you anything you want. Listen, honey, if our esteemed sheriff wants his extra strength medicated shampoo for his almost terminal dandruff, he gives me the heads-up when I ask him to. It seems that some FBI agent is checking credit card transactions, looking for odd names, and something flagged up. They’ve asked the local sheriff’s department to see if they’ve had a recent visit from two very dangerous young fugitives. Good-looking boys. I saw the ‘wanted’ posters. They don’t do you two justice. Security cameras are never flattering.” As she said that Dean groaned softly, remembering the garage.
Sam watched as Dean blanched, “What did you do, Dean?” He asked.
“Why do you think it was me? It could’ve been anyone, Sam.” Dean looked guiltily at the wall behind Sam, refusing to meet his brother’s eyes.
“What card did you use, Dean?” He said in an exasperated tone as he was moving around, packing up the duffle bags. He paused, waiting for an answer.
Dean blushed, “The card was in the name of ‘Sirius Black’...look, I thought it was a simple job. In and out in a couple of days, max. I didn’t know this was gonna happen. I thought we’d be two states over before anyone spotted the name. Shit! He’s good.” Dean threw back the sheet, ready to bolt.
Sam stood up straight, “Sirius Black! And you didn’t think it would draw attention? Damnit, Dean! You’re in no fit state to start running.” Sam stood glaring at him.
Sandra watched the men in amusement. It was time to put them out of their misery, “Ok, Sam, stop looking like you’re about to kill my favourite patient. Dean, relax a minute. Me and Albert made an executive decision and now most of the town knows what you and Dean did. They know you saved Amber and the others, and what it took to do it, and it’s brought you a lot of goodwill. If asked, the good folk of the town will swear you two have passed through a week back and headed south. But I agree you need to be out of here, just in case. I’ve got an address you’re going to go to and lay low, until I tell hot stuff on the bed he’s fit to kick ghost ass again. Alright by you, boys?” Sandra stood there with her hands on her hips.
Sam and Dean just gaped at one another. Sam shrugged. “I’ve got no problems at all with that idea, Sandra. Is this place safe? And are you sure you won’t get into trouble for this.” Sam was moving closer to the doctor.
She smiled, reached up and patted Sam’s cheek, “Sugar, it’s more than safe. It’s tribal land, a spiritual retreat, and it’s run by a very good friend of mine. If your fed turns up, he’ll have that much red tape looped round him he’ll look like a Christmas gift. And she owes me a favour; she knows you’re coming and that I’ll be dropping by to check on your brother. So I won’t be getting into any trouble I won’t enjoy getting into. Now I’d get him dressed and get going, although I am enjoying the view.” Sandra leered at Dean and winked at him.
Dean smirked back, “Sam, pass me my sweats, and a couple pairs of socks. There’s no way I can put boots on. I won’t have far to walk. Just to my baby...” Before he could finish his sentence, the clothes plus one of Sam’s hoodies appeared by him and Sam picked up a bag and headed for the door.
Dean grinned, “I knew letting Sam join the scouts was a good idea, the boy is always prepared. By the way Sandra, is your friend as sexy as you?” He grinned at the now blushing woman.
Sandra moved in front of Dean and picked up the sweats; she started to help Dean put them on, ignoring his protests. “Miriam as sexy as me? Honey, she’s seventy if she’s a day. But tell Sam to watch that cute ass of his - he’s just her type. Now let’s get these socks on, shall we?” Dean laughed at the thought of Sam fending off Sandra’s friend then he bit his lip as Sandra pulled the socks on his injured feet.
Sam came back into the room and walked over to the bed. He picked up the hoodie and a silent battle waged between the brothers. Sam wanted to help Dean put it on, and Dean was determined he wasn’t going to. Finally Dean’s shoulders slumped and he let Sam pull the hoodie over his head and support his arms as he struggled into it. By the time he was dressed Dean felt drained; he had to admit he never would’ve managed it on his own.
He sat there gathering his strength, and watched Sam as he finished packing away their belongings. He looked at Amber and Sandra, “Ladies, we can never thank you enough for this. Thanks for helping Sam patch me up and giving us the heads up about the feds, and getting us a place to lay low. You didn’t have to do that.” Dean looked at them with gratitude.
Sandra sat on the bed beside him and took his hand, “Honey, it was the least I could do. You and your brother not only saved our future shaman and her friends, and hell, even Daryl, but with what you did, you ensured the canyon remained safe. Now Great Bear and his men can return to their rest, and for that there can never be enough thanks.” She smiled warmly at Dean and Sam.
Sam picked up the bag, “Last one, Dean. I’ll be back to help you soon. For once just sit there and wait for me?” Sam asked pleadingly.
“Hell, Sam, I ain’t moving from here till you drag me out. I got two beautiful ladies to keep me company. Take your time, dude. I’m happy where I am.” Dean smirked as Sam walked out of the room. He looked at Amber and Sandra, “You know we’re just hunters; we’re nothing special. We were in the right place at the right time, that’s all.” He squeezed Sandra’s hand and smiled.
Sandra looked deep into Dean’s green eyes, and she knew no matter what they said, Dean would never see the good he did. Instead, she stood up and placed a kiss on the young man’s cheek, “You take care of yourself and that handsome brother of yours and you may have to protect his honour from Miriam. She’s one tenacious old biddy, trust me.” She winked at him and Dean laughed at her.
Sam returned and smiled brightly, “Ok, we’re packed. Ready to go, Dean? Have you got that address, Sandra, and you’re sure your friend is ok with this?” Sam stepped forward and took Dean’s arm to steady him as he got off the bed. Sandra handed him a piece of paper and Sam read it.
“Don’t worry. She’s waiting for you boys. She’s got a room ready and a place to stash Dean’s baby. Now it’s about an hour out west, and I’ll be over tomorrow to check on you and see about removing Dean’s IV port. And just as a warning, Miriam will do her level best to feed you up. She’ll take one look at your poor starved bodies, and start plying you with food.” She watched Dean’s face light up at the prospect.
Sam was supporting most of Dean’s weight as moved. He said nothing but Sam saw the tell-tale clench of his brother’s jaw, and the way he stared at the door, setting himself a goal to get to. By the time they’d reached it Dean was pale and there were beads of sweat forming on his forehead. He smiled in relief when he saw that the Impala was parked by the door.
As they reached the car, Sam pulled the door open and Dean sank into the familiar comfort of his baby with a sigh of relief. Sam knelt down and picked Dean’s legs up and put them in the car. He could see that even that short walk had exhausted his brother again, and he decided that no matter what Dean thought, he was going to help him. Sam lifted his eyes and saw the look of gratitude in Dean’s tired eyes. Sam smiled, stood and closed the door.
He turned around to find Amber and Sandra stood behind him. “Don’t worry about the room, Sam. Me and Sandra will clean it, and Daryl’s American Express will have paid for a visit from a couple of old friends. I’ll see you guys soon. You don’t think I’m going to trust Sandra with your brother, do you?” Amber smiled at him and pulled him in for a hug.
Sam stood back and smiled at Sandra who grinned, “When you get to Miriam, you put your brother right to bed. I’ve told her to take no messing about from gorgeous. She’ll make certain he behaves. See you tomorrow, Sam.” Sandra also gave Sam a hug, and then she watched as the young man walked around to the driver’s side.
The car’s engine roared into life and as Sam pulled away, the women waved to Dean who managed a weak wave and a smile in return. As Amber watched them drive away she spoke to Sandra, “Do you think they will be alright?” She watched the tail lights vanish.
Sandra put her arm round Amber, “Amber, as long as those two are side by side, it won’t matter what their life throws at them. They’ll fight it together.”