Season Two

Episode Fifteen: Abyss

By Tree

Part One

 

Stop, drop and roll? That was it wasn’t it? No, that’s what you do when you’re on fire, any second-grader knew that! Okay, maybe it was "jump, tuck and then roll?" Hmm? Was there a recommended way to launch oneself from one rooftop to another and land correctly? Must’ve missed that chapter in “How to be a Hunter!"

Dean barely stifled a grunt as he dropped the five feet gap from the lowest rung of the fire escape to the ground. The jolt of the landing sent a wave of pain through his right shoulder and swept across his chest despite Sam’s hands placed on either side of his waist to steady him. The sudden gulp of air did not go unnoticed by the younger hunter either as Sam watched Dean protectively draw his injured arm in towards his body.

Sam could read Dean’s body language as easily as he had his textbooks at Stanford. Although he hadn’t seen his brother’s landing on the asphalt-covered rooftop, he had seen the aftermath of it. He recognized the stoicism that accompanied pain, the tense set of the jaw when his brother was attempting to restrain an audible groan, the rigid carriage of his body when he was trying to act as though everything was alright. After all the time they had spent on the road together and the countless injuries, Sam could tell when Dean was hurt and Dean was definitely hurt right now.

“You gonna let me look at that arm?” he finally asked as they moved slowly between the line of row houses that were so common to the city of York, Pennsylvania.

Dean never stopped, his head tilted down, eyes tracking his feet as he slowly plodded forward. Yet another sign to Sam that his brother was on autopilot.

“Dean?”

“Later Sam!” his brother refused, looking up finally as they approached the waiting Impala.

For the briefest moment the siblings’ eyes met and despite the shadows cast by the sodium vapor streetlights, Sam could see the taut lines of stress on Dean’s forehead, the perspiration that clung to his brow. The hollow look that stared back out at the younger hunter belied the physical pain underneath.

“Now DEAN!” Sam insisted. He wasn’t about to ignore the signs any longer, no matter how much his brother protested.

“Dude, lay off me! It’s just bruised. It’ll be fine in the morning.”

“Dean, you’re sweating like you’ve been laying in a sauna and I haven’t seen you move that arm since we lost track of the creature.”

Exasperated at Sam’s never-ending smothering concern, Dean fumed as he tried to fish the keys to the car out of his right pants pocket. Every miniscule movement was pure agony in his shoulder, yet his hand actually felt numb and thick, detached from the rest of the appendage. Try as he might, he couldn’t force his fingers to grasp the metal of the keys. A strange dichotomy, it was like his hand was stuck in a bucket of ice while his shoulder was being bathed in acid. Switching over, he dug into the denim with his opposite hand, another move that did not go unobserved by Sam. Glancing up as he caught the dark knowing eyes of his brother piercing through his well-crafted exterior, Dean did his best to glare back.

“Dude, we just spent the better part of the night chasing a friggin’ stone gargoyle around the rooftops of York. Well, ok, the thing isn’t exactly stone anymore, but the point is, I’m tired, I’m hot and I really just want to go back to the room, get a shower, maybe a cold beer and do my very best to forget about today.”

Dean moved to the trunk and inserted the key with his left hand trying to hide the awkwardness of the movement. Sam noticed, but he knew that any comment he might make would just be turned against him and filled with his brother’s irritated denial. As he watched Dean fuss about the trunk replacing weapons, his right arm hanging limply at his side, Sam quickly plotted his next action.

“Okay bro, whatever you want. I’ll even spring for the first round.”

Moving up behind his brother, Sam drew back his hand and with an open-palm, slapped Dean on the back of his right shoulder. The older sibling’s reaction was immediate. Dean sunk to his knees on the pavement, the string of obscenities pouring from his mouth broken only by the gasps of air he sucked in to combat the excruciating pain that was washing over him. Dean gripped the Impala’s rear bumper with his left hand, struggling to gather the energy to rise to his feet, if for no other reason than to make a valiant effort to beat the smug look off his baby brother’s face. Unable to muster the power to stand, he instead chose to focus his effort in a verbal assault.

“What the hell, Sam! Why the hell did you do that? Are you freakin’ insane, you bastard?”

The smile faded from Sam’s face as he realized the full extent of his brother’s injury. From his higher vantage, towering over his kneeling brother, he could now see the sudden slope of Dean’s right shoulder. Drooping significantly lower than the left and jutting forward, Sam was sure that it was dislocated. In that moment, he knew why Dean had been reluctant to move the limb; chances were he couldn’t have moved it even had his life depended on it.

Reaching down, gently placing one hand under Dean’s left arm and the other gripping the belt loop on his jeans, Sam pulled his brother to his feet, maintaining his hold until he was sure Dean was steady. Breathless and angry, Dean pushed away from Sam with his left hand, slumping back against the car, eyes still wide and staring in disbelief at his brother.

“Dean, your shoulder is dislocated,” Sam stated matter-of-factly.

“Dude, it was fine until you decided to punch me with that friggin' big paw of yours! I am so gonna owe you for that. You just wait. When you least expect it, I’m gonna … ”

“Shut up Dean!” Sam interrupted sternly. “I’m tired of playing this game with you all the time. Why do you have to be such a stubborn ass? It's total bullshit and it just wastes time.”

Caught completely off guard by his brother’s blatant tirade, Dean could do no more than stand with his mouth open, his anger at Sam halted mid-sentence. Before he had a chance to regroup, Sam determinedly moved forward and began peeling off Dean’s outer shirt. Once unbuttoned, he pulled the thin layer off the damaged shoulder eliciting an audible groan from his sibling. Sam halted briefly as he considered the next layer of T-shirt. Without a second thought, he pulled the pocket knife from his jeans and in a single fluid motion, he flipped it open with his thumb and slipped it under the sleeve of the shirt.

Dean began to protest, but before the first syllable escaped his lips, the damage had been done. Sam continued his hasty alteration until he had cut the shirt from the injured arm. Once removed, the obvious deformity to the shoulder caused Sam to take a deep breath. The round cap of the joint was now pushed forward in front of Dean’s collarbone. Even the appearance of his musculature looked painful and distorted.

“Dean, it’s dislocated, if not worse!” Sam announced. “I can’t fix this!”

“Dude, I’m gonna kick your ass for cutting up my t-shirt. Not to mention, what I’m gonna do to you for hitting me. That’s two I owe you for,” he countered, a thinly veiled attempt to deflect the conversation from its inevitable direction.

His turn to be exasperated, Sam slowly shook his head. Dean could be such a jackass when it came to admitting any vulnerability and while Sam had come to rely on his brother’s stalwart determination during a hunt, times like this made him want to shake Dean until his head rattled.

“Okay! Are you done now?” he began. “Now listen to me, we are going to the hospital; you’re gonna get that shoulder fixed and the only thing I want to hear come out of your mouth is “Yes Sam.” You got it?”

Stunned by the sudden commanding tone coming out of his brother, Dean paused then slowly nodded. Although he wouldn’t admit it, deep down he knew Sam was right. In fact, despite his earlier insistence that the arm was merely bruised, the more time that passed, the less he could feel his lower arm. By now, everything south of his elbow was heavy and numb. He was pretty certain that the current lack of pain was not necessarily a good sign.

As if reading his thoughts, Sam reached down to touch Dean’s listless hand. The cold radiating from the extremity shocked him and he retracted his touch as if he had been bitten by a snake.

“Holy crap, Dean! Your hand is freezing. Can you move your fingers at all?” he asked.

“No,” came the soft reply. “I can’t feel them or my hand anymore either,” he admitted, reaching over to protectively draw in the injured arm to his body once more.

His charade completely unmasked, defeat evident in his pain-filled eyes, Dean looked up at Sam. He reluctantly held out his left hand, sullenly offering the Impala’s keys.

“You win, let’s go.” Rare acquiescence in those four words, his brother submitting, Sam suddenly felt like he hadn’t really won at all.

* * * *


For an early summer Friday night, the Emergency Department of York County Hospital was surprisingly quiet. Upon their arrival, the staff quickly sprung into action, seemingly eager to finally have a patient to tend to. Although not a life or death crisis, Sam was shocked at the response and attention that was being paid to Dean. In a relatively short period of time, Dean had been examined, x-rayed and returned to the treatment room, his face even more haggard from the radiologist’s positioning of his injured arm for the films. More than once, Sam had heard a familiar string of curse words as he hovered outside the x-ray department doors.

As he sat next to Dean now, Sam could feel the exhaustion slowly begin to creep into his own body. It was nearly two in the morning and this had been the third straight night that they had spent the better majority of the dark hours patrolling the skyline of the old city. Not usually one to need much sleep, worry over his brother combined with the let down of adrenaline from finally seeing and chasing the creature across the rooftops and Sam was now feeling the beckoning call to close his eyes.

Dean had said little since arriving at the hospital which Sam chalked up to part pain and part anger directed at him. Tired of the silent treatment and desperate to stay awake, he attempted to break Dean’s icy wall with talk about the hunt.

“So, what do you think we should do next?” he asked, hoping the phrasing of the question might feed his brother’s need to be in charge.

Dean grumbled something first, but then recognized the apologetic look on Sam’s face and he knew he couldn’t remain angry at his brother any longer.

“I dunno, dude. S'pose we need to see how this turns out first,” he replied, motioning with his head toward the right arm that lay limply at his side.

“You know, I was thinking, Dean. Some of the lore about gargoyles says that they’re only animated at night. Maybe we have been approaching this all wrong. Maybe we should be scoping out the architecture around town during the day when the thing is solid stone,” Sam suggested.

“Yeah Sam, that would make sense if every freakin’ rooftop in this town wasn’t sporting the damn things. These people must’ve had some serious issues with warding off evil back in the day. Problem is my geeky brother, that there is also lore that says gargoyles can become animated continuously with the right spellwork, so we don’t know that this thing isn’t out there roaming around twenty-four seven.”

“Besides,” the older hunter continued, “did you get a good look at that thing? 'Cause I sure didn’t and I hate to break it to you, but the damn things all look the same to me. I don’t suppose the good people of York will sit by and watch us take a sledgehammer to all of their statues?”

“Excuse me?” a voice interrupted, startling both Winchester boys as they looked up at the white-coated physician that had just entered the room. “What would you be planning on smashing?” he asked apprehensively.

Sam stammered, not sure how much of their conversation the doctor had heard. “Oh, nothing like that. My brother here doesn’t appreciate art in any form. He was just voicing his rather strong, but uneducated opinion, on some of the local statuary.”

The young physician seemed appeased with that answer and his expression changed from suspicion to concern as he stepped further into the room, closing in on the gurney where Dean lay.

“Let’s start with introductions. My name is Dr. Ebersol, I’m the ER resident tonight,” he said, offering out his hand to both Dean and then in turn to Sam.

“How’s his shoulder doc?” Sam asked excitedly, earning a glare from Dean who once again did not appreciate his younger brother’s incessant need to mother-hen him.

“Well, as I’m sure you’re aware, that shoulder is most definitely dislocated. The good news is that we can probably reduce it without much problem, but we need to do it pretty quick. From your earlier exam, it would appear that the dislocation has impinged on the nerve bundle in your upper arm. That’s why your hand and fingers are cold and numb. Once we get the shoulder back into anatomical position, feeling and circulation should return.”

“And after that?” Sam intervened again, voicing the question that he knew Dean was reluctant to ask. “Will there be any lasting problems?”

“I wouldn’t think so,” the young physician continued. “He’ll have to keep it immobilized for a while, but most dislocations heal very nicely. Of course, we’ll know better as it heals if there is any significant ligament or tendon injury, but I wouldn’t expect any permanent damage.”

“Well let’s get on with it doc,” Dean chirped in, preferring to direct the conversation away from any discussion about "permanent damage." “Sooner you fix it, the sooner I can get outta here!”

“Not one for hospitals huh?” Ebersol asked.

Dean smirked, “Let’s just say that I’ve had my fill of them over the years.”

“Well, unfortunately, I’m not the orthopedist. That would be Dr. Blane. He should be here within forty-five minutes and then we’ll get it taken care of. In the meantime, this can be pretty uncomfortable so I’m going to order a hundred milligrams of Demerol to help reduce the pain and take the edge off when we do the procedure. Okay?” Ebersol informed him.

Dean looked suspicious, but he’d been down this road once before with a dislocated finger. If putting his shoulder back in place was proportional to the finger, he was game for whatever drug the doctor wanted to push. He nodded in agreement and Ebersol scribbled something onto the chart and left the room.

“I’m so proud of you,” Sam teased, ruffling the short strands of his brother’s hair. “What a big boy you’re being.”

Dean attempted to retaliate by reaching over to slap at Sam’s silly grin, but the movement sent a wave of pain throughout his upper body and he sank back onto the stretcher, an audible groan escaping his mouth, his eyes crimped tightly closed. The humor deflated, Sam felt instantly guilty.

“Dean, I’m sorry! Look, it’s just that you can be such a stubborn pain in the ass sometimes about being hurt. Well, actually, you can be a stubborn pain in the ass about nearly everything, but dude, I just worry, okay?” Sam rambled, the seriousness in his eyes complimenting the concern in his voice.

“Yeah, whatever, just don’t go all Erika Kane on me alright. No tearful hospital death scenes okay?” Dean replied, eyes rolling at the sincerity in his brother’s face.

Sam contemplated a well placed slap to Dean’s head when an older woman in scrubs entered the room. She held a small tray of supplies which she placed on the Mayo stand beside the stretcher. As the two young hunters watched, the nurse methodically assembled tubing and finished by inserting it into a large bag of IV fluid. Without a word, she grabbed Dean’s left arm and began prepping an area on the top of his hand. Alarmed and less than happy about her cold demeanor, Dean yanked his hand away, throwing the woman the nastiest "oh no you don’t” glare he could currently muster.

“Now sir,” she began, “We have to get this IV in place so that we can get our pain medication.”

“We?” Dean shouted, his patience already worn thin. “I don’t think I have a squirrel under the sheet here with me! I thought this was gonna be just a quick shot or something.”

“No sir, doctor has ordered an IV started in case something goes wrong during the procedure and we need to administer anything else.”

“Goes wrong?” Hazel eyes flashed in alarm. “What the hell are you planning on going wrong?”

“I’m sure that nothing will go wrong sir, it’s only a precaution. Now you just take it easy and I’ll be done in a flash. It’s just a little stick,” the woman continued, brandishing the needle.

“Just a little stick she says, nothing can go wrong she says. Everybody’s so friggin' optimistic around here,” Dean mumbled.

The nurse smiled knowingly as she proceeded and for his part, Sam could barely stifle a snicker at his brother’s sudden panic. The man could hunt every conceivable horrific thing from the pits of hell, but get him anywhere near a hospital and he freaked every time.

Sam continued to watch as the needle was buried under the skin of Dean’s left hand and the clear tubing was connected. After checking to see that the fluid was dripping, the nurse then produced another syringe and needle, this one smaller and filled with liquid. His brother’s eyes widened for a moment, but as the woman inserted it into the plastic hub attached to the tubing and began to slowly depress the plunger, a look of relief spread across Dean’s face and his body visibly relaxed.

“That was the Demerol,” the nurse announced. “You should be feeling it pretty quick this way. I’ll check back with you in a few minutes and see how your pain is doing.”

Finishing by taping the catheter and tubing down against his hand and forearm, she gathered her tray and casually strode from the room. Before she was even out of the door, a feeling of warmth had spread up Dean’s arm and was washing over his chest and abdomen. His vision blurred for a brief moment and the noises of the emergency department distorted in his ears. Dean shook his head, clearing both his sight and hearing. The warmth had blanketed his entire body and his limbs now felt suddenly heavy.

“Saaammyy!” he slurred, his head lolling as he tried to focus on the blue-green eyes nearly hidden under the mop of brown hair. “Whaddahell they gimmmmeee?”

Sam laughed easily. There were few things currently funnier in his world than a stoned brother. He watched as Dean’s movements became sluggish and uncoordinated and for a moment he worried that perhaps the dose of the narcotic had been a little too high.

“Just relax Dean. How’s your shoulder feeling now?”

“Shoulder? Um, feels fine. Everything feels fine,” the older man answered in a sing-song voice.

Dean suddenly shifted forward, his attention grabbed by something just beyond the open door. Sam watched as Dean feebly tried to sit up, becoming concerned as a look of fear spread across his brother’s face.

“Dean, what is it?” Sam asked, his own heart picking up a beat in response to Dean’s obvious increased concern.

“Sam, it found us!” Dean replied, tossing aside the thin blanket from across his legs.

The younger man strained to see whatever had captured his older sibling’s attention, but only the normal scurrying of hospital staff filled the exterior hallway. He looked back at Dean, but his brother was still intent on something beyond the doorway.

“What is it Dean? What do you see?” Sam asked again, standing and moving closer to the door, trying to follow his brother’s gaze.

“Sammy, don’t you see it? Right there! The friggin’ gargoyle! It followed us here!”

Sam moved to the doorjamb. Looking out into the rest of the emergency room, he saw nothing but the usual activity and knew instantly that the medication was responsible for Dean’s current hallucinations.

“Dean, there’s nothing out there. It’s the pain meds. You just think you’re seeing gargoyles, but it’s only the hospital staff.”

“No! No, it's right there dude! Sammy, be careful. It might see you! Where’s my .45?” he yelled, struggling to swing his legs off the side of the stretcher but hampered by the metal rails that had been raised on either side of the bed.

Sam recognized the mounting stress in his brother’s face and voice and while Dean’s present mental status was more than humorous, he knew that he needed to get Dean out of hunter mode before he destroyed the ER and likely hurt himself further.

“Dean, its okay! It’s the medication they gave you. It isn’t real. There’s nothing there,” he soothed, his hand resting lightly on his brother’s left shoulder as he gently pushed him back down onto the gurney.

Hearing the raised voices, both Dr. Ebersol and the older nurse hurried into the room. Their presence only incensed the delusional hunter more and he lashed out with his uninjured arm in an attempt to repel whatever monstrous visage his drug induced mind was causing him to see.

“Sammy! Run! Get out of here!” he shouted. “What the hell is happening?”

“Dean, you have to calm down!” Sam insisted, still trying to calm his panicked brother as Dean struggled even more to escape the confines of the stretcher.

“Sam, don’t you see them?” Dean pleaded. “There’s a werewolf right there,” he insisted, finger pointed at the shocked physician. “And she has fangs! I knew it, a freaking vampire!”

“Dean, it’s the medication. You’re seeing things, it’s just the doctor and nurse,” Sam stressed. But his brother would have nothing of it as he recoiled further against the mattress.

Stunned by the ranting of the previously stoic patient, the young resident moved to the bedside in a textbook attempt to calm the injured man.

“Mr. Hammett, uh, Dean is it? Look, some patients have adverse reactions to pain medications, but what you’re experiencing is not real. Okay?” Ebersol stated “You need to calm down before you injure yourself further!”

As the doctor’s hand came in contact with his arm, Dean could feel the sharp talons of the werewolf close in on the skin of his wrist. He could see the saliva dripping from the gaping maw of the creature as it leaned in closer to tear out his throat. Survival instincts accompanied by fear caused him to shout out, his voice echoing throughout the small space as he swung a closed fist that connected with the physician’s jaw. Ebersol fell backwards, knocking over a nearby stand as he landed on the floor rubbing the side of his face. Turning to Sam, he saw the uncertainty in the young man’s expression as his patient continued to yell about demons and ghosts and assorted other creatures.

Recovering, the young resident pulled himself up slowly, avoiding the side of the stretcher and the still ranting young man. Drawing Sam to the doorway he spoke in a low tone as Dean rambled on.

“I don’t have to tell you that this is a pretty strange reaction to the Demerol,” Ebersol began. “I mean, I’ve seen people think the room is moving or that there are strange noises or lights, but your brother thinks he see monsters everywhere. Has he ever had any ‘other’ medical problems in the past?”

Sam paused for a moment, contemplating the tone of the doctor’s question and his emphasis on the word “other.”

“Are you asking me if my brother has mental health issues?” he voiced defiantly. Does my brother have mental health issues? Well, let’s see. He saw his mother pinned to a ceiling and burst into flames when he was just four. He was raised by a man that spent more time teaching him to shoot a gun than to shoot hoops. He’s spent his entire life hunting and killing things that would make you piss your pants.“No, I wouldn’t say that he has any mental problems,” Sam continued, but as his brother raged on about evil spirits and rock salt-loaded shotguns, he felt certain that the doctor wasn’t buying it.

Sighing deeply, Ebersol cast a glance at the delusional young man on the stretcher. Although he was in his third year of ER residency, he had yet to see such a peculiar reaction to a medication. Sure, patients often saw things while under the influence of narcotics, but none he had ever encountered had been so graphic and vehement about their visions. The little voice in the back of his head told him that there was much more to this patient than an adverse reaction. Delusions such as these were much more deeply rooted in the psyche.

“Alright, Dr. Blane should be here shortly. I’m going to order a sedative so that your brother doesn’t injure that shoulder any further and so we can reduce that dislocation once the orthopedist arrives. We’ll see how he’s doing once he calms down. You seem to be the only person he doesn’t think is straight out of a horror movie, so perhaps you should stay with him until we get him under control. But I have to tell you, I am seriously considering a psych consult for him if this behavior continues.”

Sam nodded warily and returned to his brother’s bedside. Dean was nearly out of control when the nurse returned to the room with yet another syringe in her hand. Sam could only imagine what his brother’s delusional mind must have been seeing as the older woman came at him with the threatening-looking thing in her hand. He tried to calm Dean and even went so far as to restrain his uninjured left arm as the nurse injected the medication into the IV port.

As quickly as the narcotic had hit his system, so did the sedative and within a few ticks of the large wall clock, Dean’s eyes fluttered and his body relaxed once again. Sam let go with a breath of relief and returned to his abandoned seat beside the stretcher.

A few blessedly quiet minutes passed before Dean looked over at him through heavily-lidded eyes, the wild panic of earlier replaced by glassy incoherence.

“Did you get 'em?” he asked thickly. “Did you kill the werewolf?”

“Yeah Dean! I got all of them for you!” Sam replied.

“Good. Thanks bro.” Dean slurred, his voice a whisper as his eyes met Sam’s. Despite the dull, nearly fully dilated pupils that stared back at him, Dean's eyes held an innocent, sincere quality that was generally reserved for those rare times that he let down his usually well fortified guard. Sam smiled, reaching out to gently touch his brother’s injured arm.

“It’s gonna be okay. Why don’t you just rest and wait for the doc to come and take care of that shoulder. I’ll stand watch, alright?”

There was a brief look of panic as Dean tried to boost himself up in bed, struggled to become more alert, refusing to succumb to the sedating effects of the medication. Even in his less than coherent state, the basic need to watch out for and protect his younger brother overrode all else.

In the end, his body lost the fight against the drugs and for the second time that night he acquiesced. “Okay Sam. But wake me up when it’s my turn. And watch out for that big granite sonofabitch,” he reminded, then quickly added, “and that damn vampire too.”

Sam nodded, trying to hide the slight smile as Dean’s eyes drifted closed. On one level, he wasn’t surprised that, given the medication, Dean’s subconscious had turned to the one topic that was nearly always on the top of his mind. Yet, on another level, Sam was worried, had always been worried, that his brother’s near obsession with hunting, mirroring their father’s, might sooner or later lead to something like this.

As exhausted as he was, Sam stayed awake, standing watch as he promised, although it was watching Dean and not for gargoyles. It was over an hour and a half and not the forty-five minutes that Ebersol had promised before the orthopedist arrived. Dean mostly dozed the entire time, waking occasionally, still looking for creatures, still groaning if he moved the wrong way on his shoulder.

They ushered Sam from the room when Dr. Blane arrived, the ortho looking less than pleased about being called at such an early morning hour. There was no mistaking when they woke Dean up, the sedative not able to tame either the delusional rant or the string of crude epithets that the doctor’s examination of the injured shoulder caused.

In the end, they called Sam back into the treatment room, essentially begging his assistance in dealing with his less than cooperative sibling. Fortunately for all those involved, Dr. Blane was as good as Ebersol had promised and the reduction of Dean’s shoulder went smoothly once they sedated him once again and with Sam basically promising that his brother wasn’t nearly as crazy as he was currently sounding.

With Dean quiet once more, the doctors finished with his shoulder, x-rayed it again and then, satisfied that it was in place, Ace-wrapped it to his chest to splint it in place.

Sam waited outside the doorway again, not intending on eavesdropping, but doing so none-the-less.

“So, have you ever seen behavior like this before?” Ebersol asked, helping the orthopedist to wrap the last piece of elastic bandage around an unconscious Dean’s chest.

The older physician looked at the young resident wistfully as he held traction on the injured extremity. “Had this old woman once, post-surgically, that gave me a black eye. Thought I was some old boyfriend from way back that had cheated on her with her best friend. Popped me good I’ll tell ya.”

“Yeah, but demons and vampires and werewolves?”

“So? The kid watches too many horror flicks? Big deal. Could be worse. Not like he’s amp’d up on crack or something like half the kids I took care of when I did my ortho residency in Baltimore.”

Ebersol looked less than certain, still concerned that his patient’s behavior had been more than just the overactive imagination of a horror show junkie. In this day and age of lawsuits being levied against doctors at the drop of a hat, he was worried about turning someone loose that so obviously needed help in the mental health department.

“Look, if you’re so worried, keep the kid here for observation tonight. It sure won’t hurt to see how that shoulder looks in the daylight before we cut him loose and you could see how he is once all the Demerol was washed out of his system. If he comes up lucid, then you can write it all off to just a bad med reaction and tell the poor fool to make sure no one ever gives it to him again,” Blane advised.

Ebersol nodded. Keeping Mr. Hammett for the remainder of the shift under the guise of “observation” would give him plenty of time to call in a psych consult. At least then he could say he covered his ass if the case came up during Grand Rounds.

Outside the room, Sam listened to the two doctors' conversation. At first, he was indignant on Dean’s behalf, insulted at the implication that his brother could be crazy or on drugs. If either of these men even had an inkling of the things Dean had seen or the creatures that he had destroyed, they’d be kissing his ass. They should be thankful that there were people like his brother out there willing to put their own lives on the line so that others like themselves could continue to live oblivious to the many horrors that roamed the earth.

Still, there was one upside to all this. If the doc wanted to keep Dean for observation overnight, that certainly could work out to Sam’s benefit. Not that having Dean hurt and in a hospital was something that he preferred, but he knew his brother all too well. As soon as Dean was free of the hospital, he was sure to insist on jumping right back into the hunt, injured shoulder be damned. At least with Dean stuck in here for a day, Sam knew he might be able to get a line on the gargoyle before his brother had a chance to get out and be an annoying pain in the ass about the shoulder; in other words, to be typical Dean.

Sam became alert when Ebersol and Blane walked out of the treatment room. Dr. Blane approached him first, the silver-haired specialist smiled genuinely as he shook Sam’s hand, his earlier irritation at having been called in seemingly having abated.

“Your brother’s shoulder reduced quite well. I don’t see any reason to suspect any lasting problems, but we’ll see how he moves it tomorrow. I’ll be back in doing rounds in the afternoon and I’ll take a look then. For now, we’ve basically splinted it to his chest. The first several days are the most important, that’s when it’s the weakest and most susceptible to dislocating again. Over time, it’ll strengthen and be just fine,” he explained.

Ebersol spoke next, continuing as soon as the orthopedist finished. “Dr. Blane suggested, and I concur, that it would be in your brother’s best interest to stay here for observation. Again, as he said, so that we can check his shoulder again later. Plus, as I mentioned before, his reaction to the medication was uh, pretty abnormal. This will give it a chance to get completely out of his system and we can be sure that he’s, well, back to normal.”

“Yeah, sure, that makes sense,” Sam readily agreed. In his mind, he could already feel the lumpy motel bed beckoning him, thinking to himself what a pleasure it would be to go back and sleep peacefully, wake leisurely, and shower without Dean pounding on the door to speed him up.

“Alright then, I’ll take care of the orders and we’ll get him sent upstairs as soon as they have a room assigned. You can hang out if you want to, but he seems to be sleeping now… thank God,” Ebersol mumbled the last bit.

“Nah, to be honest, it’s been a long night and I don’t want to wake him up. I’ll just pop in and check on him and then take off. I’ll check in tomorrow and see how he’s doing,” Sam replied.

“Well, I do my rounds right after lunch. He should be ready to go after then,” Blane suggested, shaking Sam’s hand one final time before walking down the corridor.

Ebersol nodded at the young hunter as well and trailed the older doctor down the hallway, jotting notes on Dean’s chart as he walked away. Sam watched him go, still slightly irritated at the physician’s somewhat callous bedside manner, but too tired to challenge him.

He turned in to the doorway to the exam room, leaning against the jamb and pausing briefly to watch Dean in the dim lighting. His brother lay there peacefully sleeping, a blanket pulled up to his waist, his chest bare except for the lengths of beige Ace-wrap that held his right arm snugly against his ribs. A stark contrast to the man that had not long before been wanting to wage all-out war on the denizens of evil right there in the emergency room, Dean now looked more calm than Sam could ever remember seeing him before.

Sam moved quietly over to the side of the stretcher. He bent over, his face nearing the raised head of the bed. Dean groaned slightly, his body attempting to shift in the depths of slumber but the pain of movement halting even unconscious reflexes.

“Enjoy the sleep, bro. You deserve it. And when you wake up, don’t be mad at me. Just kick back, enjoy the pretty nurses fussing all over you and I’ll be around after lunch to pick you up,” Sam whispered.

Sam stood up, turning to leave the room, when his eye caught on something shiny. Dean's silver ring, removed when the doctors had begun working on his shoulder, lay silently next to his destroyed shirt on the nearby stand. For a second, Sam considered taking the piece of jewelry with him for safekeeping. But then he considered that, knowing Dean, his brother would simply tear the hospital apart in search of the possession if he thought it lost or worse yet stolen.

Instead, Sam picked up the silver band and placed it gently in his brother's left palm, closing it tightly within Dean’s hand. He watched Dean for a moment longer, then slipped silently out of the darkened room and into the outer hallway.

Sam was nearly to the ER entrance, the morning sunlight nearly blinding him when a blond-haired man in a short lab coat strode into his brother’s room. The newcomer took up Sam’s abandoned post at the side of the stretcher, a patient chart held loosely in his hand.

He quietly observed the sleeping man for several minutes, watching as the patient twitched in response to some sort of sleep-induced dream. Picking up the chart, he scanned through the documentation, stopping occasionally when he came across certain words that caught his eye. Looking back at the sleeping form, the doctor shook his head, a trickle of laughter escaping his thin lips.

“Hmmm, it says you need evaluated for a psych consult. You’ve been seeing vampires, werewolves, gargoyles and demons? Isn’t it just too bad that people always want to jump to conclusions and label you crazy?”

Slowly, the blond man walked around Dean’s bedside, circling the stretcher like a shark circling a wounded seal. He stopped when he reached the opposite side, crouching down, so that his mouth was near to the young hunter’s ear.

“Such a pity that they are so blind to the evil that surrounds them every day. Oh well, let’s talk about you. I wonder what other nightmares you have stored up in that head for me. But, that’s the joy of therapy. We have all the time in the world for me to find out,” he sneered, licking his lips as his irises flashed over black.

 

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The Winchester Chronicles

 

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