Title: Undulating Dynamics
Author: Dhvana
Series: 1) The Monster Under the Bed, 2) A Little Help From Bob, 3) The Temptation of Dean, 4) Questions Without Answers, 5) Don't Lose Your Head, 6) Retribution and Remorse, 7) The Return of an Old Fiend
Rating: R
Pairing: Sam/Dean, but the Wincest is implied and unrequited (so far)
Summary: Dean falls in deeper with Goldy and Sam is sprung.


Dean gradually became aware of two sets of pounding interrupting his sleep--one at his door, and one inside his head.

"Go away!" he half-groaned at both, a full groan requiring more energy than he cared to expend at the moment.

"Dean, it's Judy. Are you awake?"

He lifted his head and shot a look of pure rancor at the closed door. It was a Catch-22 question--he was damned if he said yes, damned if he said no, and if he didn't answer, she'd come in anyway just to make sure he wasn't dead. He couldn't win.

"You want me to eat her?"

Dean turned his now venomous look on the monster sitting cross-legged next to him. At least this question wasn't a Catch-22. It was just blatantly stupid.

The monster shrugged. "I was merely trying to help."

"Like hell. If you want to help, go away."

"As you wish," it said and slid off the bed, and then under it.

He wondered if it would always be that easy. Probably not.

Hoping the monster had returned to wherever it had come from and wasn't just waiting to jump out and scare them both, Dean made himself presentable--i.e., pulled the blankets up over his chest--and looked at the door. "I'm awake, Judy. Come on in."

The innkeeper walked inside, greeting him with a friendly smile, though her eyes looked him over just to make sure he was still in one piece. She was carrying a tray upon which sat a bowl of steaming chicken noodle soup, a smaller bowl of homemade oyster crackers, a cup of herbal tea, and a cordless telephone.

His stomach growled at the sight of the food, but he still couldn't help feeling a little self-conscious about the attention she was lavishing on him. "Judy, I keep telling you, you don't have to do this."

"Nonsense," she said, setting the tray down on the bed over his knees. She then made him lean forward so she could adjust and fluff the pillow behind his back. "I know how you boys aren't likely to do anything for yourselves unless you have someone to do it for you, and you need to eat something if you're going to get better."

"We're not helpless, you know."

"Oh, I know. You just lack common sense. And talk to your boyfriend--he's on the phone and he's wondering why you haven't called him all day."

Dean's eyes widened and he immediately picked up the phone. "Sammy?"

"Dean." That one word spoken in his brother's voice was enough to bring a smile to his face. He leaned back against the pillow, wishing for all the world that Sam were at his side instead of miles away in a sterile hospital room.

Judy smiled at his reaction--apparently it reassured her that everything was all right between them, making him wonder just what it was she thought happened--and backed out of the room, closing the door behind her.

"Sounds like Judy's taking good care of you."

"She's been an angel--a meddling, fussy angel," he grinned, "but still an angel. How are you, Sammy? Are they treating you okay? Do you need anything?"

"No, I'm pretty--"

"I'm sorry I haven't been there to see you --I've been asleep all day. Do you want me to come over? Say the word, and I'm there."

"That's all ri--"

"Because it would be no trouble at all, really. I didn't want to abandon you there in the first place, but I just couldn't get myself to wake up. But if everything's okay, then I can wait until tonight. Christ, Sammy," he sighed, "you have no idea how good it is to hear your voice."

His brother chuckled. "How would you know? You haven't let me get a word in edgewise."

Dean flushed, shifting uncomfortably on the bed. "Sorry." He should have realized he was babbling, a rarity for him, and a big ol' red flag that something was wrong. He needed to get a hold of himself before Sam started to suspect something. "I didn't mean to talk over you. It's just. . . it's weird not having you here, man."

"I know what you mean," Sam said softly, and Dean's heart skipped a beat.

"Yeah?" he said with a little half-smile.

"Yeah. You know, I'll be able to leave here tomorrow morning."

"That soon?" Dean frowned. "Are you sure?"

Sam chuckled. "What, are you trying to keep me away?"

Sam couldn't have possibly asked a more loaded question. Dean glanced over the edge of the mattress and thought about what was waiting beneath the bed. Yeah, he definitely didn't want to go there.

"Nah," he said, forcing a laugh. "As much as I enjoy having the whole bed to myself, I just want to make sure you're not leaving before you're ready."

"I'll be fine. You just be here bright and early to pick me up."

"I'll be there as soon as I wake up, and then I'll bring you right back here and let Judy fuss over you for a change."

"Hmm. . . maybe I should stay an extra day or two."

Dean's laugh came naturally that time. Gods, it was so good to talk to his brother. He really had missed having Sam at his side, even if it was for only a day. "She wouldn't let me if you tried. So tell me, Sammy, are they keeping you entertained there or are you bored out of your skull?"

Sam groaned. "You have no idea how mind-numbingly dull this past day has been. I've even been flirting with all hot nurses who go by just to keep from going mad. It's like I'm channeling you."

"There are worse things you could channel," he replied with a grin.

Sam snorted. "Yeah, but at least then I'd have to exorcise myself and I'd have something to do."

Dean chuckled, leaning over to pick up his spoon and take a taste of his soup. At hearing the sound, Sam asked, "Are you eating?"

"Yep. Just some of Judy's homemade chicken noodle soup."

Sam moaned. "Do you have to do that while I'm on the phone? You wouldn't believe the slop they're feeding me. I can't wait to get out of here and get some real food."

"Well, I'd wait until you hang up, but I wouldn't want it to get cold," he said, and ate the next spoonful with over-the-top slurping sounds. "Mmm. I have to say, bro, you're missing out. I think this is the best soup I've ever had."

"Dean. . ." he warned.

"Sorry, Sammy. I'll try not to talk about my delicious soup," Dean said, slurping up another spoonful, grinning around the spoon.

"You're a real pain in the ass sometimes, you know that, don't you?"

"What was that, Sammy? I couldn't hear you--I was too busy eating this incredible soup with its big chunks of chicken and homemade noodles and, for once, I don't even care that there are vegetables in here--I'm eating them anyway."

"I'm going to hang up now."

"All right," he chuckled, "I'll stop. You know, if you want me to bring you anything, sneak in some contraband from Judy, just let me know."

"It's okay. I'll be out of here tomorrow. I can eat then."

"You want me to bring you your journal at least, or the day's newspapers? The laptop?"

"Dean, I'm fine. I'll probably just catch up on my sleep."

"Yeah, you could definitely use it," he said, hoping whatever drugs they were putting into his brother's system were keeping the nightmares away.

"Besides, the journal won't be much use without your side of the story. Speaking of, you want to tell me your side of the story?"

"You mean, the part after you decided to go chasing after the Headless Horseman on your own?" he asked, the tone of his voice letting his brother know how incredibly fucking stupid he'd thought that little decision had been.

"Yeah," Sam said, sounding a bit embarrassed. "I'm sorry about that. Not my finest moment."

His reply was as dry as the crackers he was stirring into his soup. "You don't say."

"I just. . . I don't know. I guess I just lost my head."

"Almost. A few inches higher and you would have." He paused, asking the question that had been bothering him ever since he'd found Sam lying unconscious but whole in the cemetery. "Why didn't you?"

"When I shot it, the Horseman flinched and missed my head. I don't think the shot did any damage to the Horseman, but it saved my life."

"At least you had the sense to hold onto your gun."

"Do you take me for a complete idiot?"

"Well, we all have our theories," he teased, and could almost picture the dirty look Sam was sending him over the phone.

"Why did I call you again?"

"Because, like anyone else who's been without my presence for more than a couple hours, you missed me and were longing to hear the sound of my voice."

"Or I'm still on so many drugs I don't know any better."

"You're breaking my heart here, Sammy."

His brother chuckled. "That'll be the day."

Dean arched an eyebrow, spoon pausing in mid-air. What the hell was that supposed to mean?

"It'll take more than words to break your heart."

Oh, yeah? What about 'I got a full ride to Stanford and I'm leaving tomorrow'?

"Well, you know me, Sammy. I'm impenetrable."

"Which is just another word for 'too stubborn for your own good'."

"Okay, I've figured out why you called. You missed out on beating up on the Horseman so you've decided to beat up on me."

"Sorry," his brother apologized, though it was clear he wasn't all that sorry. "I'm just going a little stir-crazy in here. I shouldn't be taking it out on you, but it's not a good idea to beat up on the people in charge of your medication."

Though his voice had been irritated, Dean personally didn't care about the teasing. It was just good to hear Sam sounding like his old self again. Still, there was only so much an older brother could let his little brother get away with, injured or not. "Maybe you should get some sleep."

"That's not a bad idea. I am a little tired."

"Great. You go get some sleep and I'll be there to spring you from the joint before you know it."

"All right, and you should do the same. You're not going to be able to wait on me hand and foot if you can't even walk."

Dean chuckled. "I'm about to drop off right now."

"Okay. See you tomorrow."

"Night, bro."

Dean waited for the click on the other end, then hung up the phone. He put the tray aside and scrambled out of the bed, hissing at the pain but not letting it stop him. "Hey, monster, get your ass out here," he said as he shuffled over to the bathroom.

"Is that an invitation, warrior?"

He glanced over his shoulder to see the monster lounging on the bed. "Not a chance. You look like you're about Sam's height. Grab a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt. We're going out."

The monster slowly sat up, looking intrigued. "Anywhere in particular?"

"We're going into the city. I'm in need of funds and my fundraising methods are a little on the unsavory side. If anything happens, I'm in no condition to put up a fight, but you are."

"You want me to act as a protector to a warrior?" it asked, sounding somewhere between skeptical and amused.

"An injured warrior who really can't do shit against a three hundred pound biker at the moment," he said, then flashed the monster a grin. "But you should see me on a good day."

"You mean, a day when you're actually capable of running away like a scared little girl?"

Dean glared at the monster. "Just because you'll be wearing his clothes doesn't mean you have to act like a little brother."

It grinned impishly at him as it slid off the mattress and crossed the room. It slipped a finger beneath the elastic of his boxers and Dean swallowed hard, resisting the urge to step away.

"If I'm to act as your protector," it asked, looking at him with those liquid gold eyes, "I'm going to want something from you in return."

Dean snorted, trying to keep his mental distance even as he felt himself responding to the beautiful creature's closeness. "Why am I not surprised?"

"Oh, it's not what you think." The monster leaned forward and ran its tongue up the length of his neck until its mouth was touching his ear. "I want you to take me as you would take one of your own."

"Not an option."

It pulled the elastic out away from Dean's waist and let it go with a snap. "Then you're going to have to find some way to protect yourself."

Which was also not an option. "Can't you just. . . you know," he said, a pained expression crossed his face as he waved towards his crotch. He couldn't believe he was trying to negotiate with it, especially about this.

"Of course I can. But I want to know what it feels like." It leaned forward again, its eyes focusing disconcertingly on his lips. "You wouldn't even have to be gentle. This new skin your essence has given me is thicker, tougher. It won't break. You could bend me over the bed and take me and you wouldn't even have to care."

He didn't want to admit it, but certain parts of him seemed to like that idea. Fucking without giving a damn had always been his specialty, and the chance to fuck at all. . . well, he'd never been one to turn down a willing partner. Not that the creature was a willing partner. It was a thing of evil taking advantage of a pact they never should have made in the first place. But it was still a willing thing of evil.

Inwardly, he sighed. He couldn't do it. No matter what his dick thought he was capable of, his heart knew better. He needed to find an excuse to get out of this that the monster would accept.

"Wouldn't that defeat the purpose? After all, to keep that skin, don't you need to. . ."

It shook its head, placing its hands on his hips. "Despite appearances, I'm not built like you. My body would absorb your essence."

Damn. Okay, another excuse was needed. "Even if I wanted to--"

The gold eyes glanced down and he sighed.

"All right. In spite of the fact that I may appear willing, I'm in no condition to bend you over anything right now."

"You can delay payment until you are healed. But in the meantime. . ." It slid a hand under his boxers and his vague interest in the previous idea jumped to full interest in the monster's new plan.

He shook his head. "I need to shower."

"I can help you," it said, moving its fingers up and down in languid strokes.

"I can bathe myself."

"You can't even reach up to wash your hair."

Dean's eyes arced up as if he could actually see his hair. "It doesn't need washed."

"You were rolling around a graveyard with the Horseman and I had to pull you out of a stream with water that was somewhat less than sanitary. All of you needs washed, and I happen to have just the extra hands to do it."

One of those hands gave a little twist and Dean gasped.

"Christ. I wish you wouldn't do that when I'm trying to get rid of you."

"I wish you wouldn't say that word when I'm trying to seduce you."

"What, Christ?"

It winced.

"It's not even--"

"It doesn't matter. The word may not have the power, but the implication is there."

Good to know, Dean thought. And since the monster had given him a piece of information he hadn't known before, in the spirit of their agreement, it wouldn't hurt to let the monster continue its seduction.

Seeing the acquiescence in his eyes, the monster smiled, and with a hand on his hip, guided him to the bathroom. "Let's get you undressed and into the shower," it said, licking its lips.

"I can't stand, not with my ankle, not while you--"

"Then we shall run you a bath," it said, crouching down in front of him and sliding the boxers down his legs. The vertical irises grew until they'd almost entirely absorbed the gold, and seeing the naked hunger on the monster's face made Dean's stomach sour with guilt.

"I wish you wouldn't look at me like that."

"I know of no other way to look at you," it said, its voice roughened with need. "I've showed you what you look like through my eyes."

"And all you see is untapped power for yourself."

"I see other things as well," it said, fingers brushing across his thighs. "I may be evil, warrior, but I know what beauty looks like."

"I have no doubt that evil is aware of what beauty looks like, and how to use it," Dean said, reaching down to touch its cheek. The monster smiled.

"Stay here. I'll ready the bath for you."

Dean watched as the creature moved to turn on the water, testing it until it was satisfied with the temperature, and then adding the bubble bath that he liked. "You've been studying me."

It glanced back at him. "Of course."

He sighed. It was official. He was an idiot. He knew better than to make himself vulnerable to one of them, and yet here he was, standing naked in front of it, asking it to protect him, offering it the most tender part of his body. When Sam found out--and Dean had no doubt that his brother would find out--he was going to kill him. Sam was going to kill the monster, and then his brother was going to kill him.

The monster returned to him, unwrapping the bandage from around his ribs, and then stepped back, holding out its hand.

"Come," it said with what Dean assumed was supposed to be a reassuring smile. "I'll help you into the bathtub."

The monster's strong arms eased him into the water, and he nearly moaned with pleasure as the warmth soothed his aching body.

"Are you certain you wish to make this trip to the city?" it asked, stepping carefully into the bathtub with him.

"We need the money." He also didn't want to risk leaving Sam alone, which was why it had to be tonight.

An expression of discomfort crossed its face and Dean narrowed his eyes at the monster.

"Is there something you want to tell me?"

It shook its head, pouring a handful of shampoo into its hand and straddling his thighs to rub it into his hair. Those long, nimble fingers felt far too good against his skull. Dean had to fight to stay focused when all he wanted to do was close his eyes and let it take care of him.

"You're evil," he said. "You should be better at lying."

It sighed. "Very well. I do not like this plan of yours. I know how it is you raise your funds, and I do not think it is wise."

"That's why you're coming along, so you can watch my back."

The expression of discomfort deepened, and Dean rolled his eyes.

"Just spit it out already."

"If you would be willing to accept, I could provide for you as much money as you need."

"Pick up a day job, did you?"

"Let me just say I have my resources. Duck under the water. You need to rinse."

He did as asked, staying under just long enough for the monster to wash out the shampoo. He emerged and took a deep breath. "In return for the money, what would you want?"

"The deal would be the same," it said, preparing another handful of shampoo and rubbing it into his hair, looking at the top of his head as if it were longing for a razor. "This bath is really long overdue."

"Hygiene tips from something that sleeps with dust bunnies is the last thing I need right now. And the answer's no."

"Why not?"

"Because it would mean you'd be paying me for sex. I don't think so."

The creature frowned. "You're being unreasonable."

"I'm trying to avoid giving up the last of my dignity."

"There are others looking for you! I can protect you from your own kind, but not from them!"

"I can protect myself from them. It's my job," he said with a smirk. "Remember?"

"Your brother is right," it growled. "You are stubborn."

Dean's face darkened. "Leave Sam out of this."

"Back under the water."

He obeyed, emerging to find the monster looking thoughtfully at him. Who knew a thing of evil could have so many expressions? He'd have thought one would have been enough. After all, how many expressions do these things need to say 'you'd better run because I'm about to eat you'?

"What if. . ." it began, then hesitated.


"What if you had to offer me nothing in return? What if I brought you the money you needed and there was no exchange?"

Dean just stared at the monster, eyes filled with disbelief. It was going to do him favor for nothing? Yeah, right. He should check to see if he had yesterday's date copyrighted on his ass, because apparently that's when this thing thought he'd been born. "Why would you do that?"

The monster lowered its face from where it was adding conditioner into his hair until it could look directly into his eyes. "I told you before, warrior, there are few of you out there. I do not wish to share."

"Or to lose your free meal."

"Precisely," it said, echoing his smirk.

He was quiet, letting the monster work as he considered the offer. If he were to be completely honest with himself--and when did that ever happen?--he'd admit he wasn't up to a night out. He couldn't even stand on his own, much less spend hours circling a pool table. Although, if he could get in good on a poker game. . . but he'd still have to find the seed money, which brought him back to circling pool tables. Shit. One good hit in the ribs was all it would take to finish him off, with or without the monster's help. He really didn't want that to happen.

"Just to be certain, if I agreed, I wouldn't have to. . ."

"No," it said, though it looked discouraged by the thought.

"And this money, where would it be coming from?" he asked, thinking he'd been putting his soul in enough peril as it was, no need to just start throwing it away. "I don't want anyone getting hurt."

"Let me just say it would be removed from the coffers of those who earned it through less than honorable means."

He thought about it some more. Stealing from evil, avoiding a long-ass drive into town, not having to fuck the monster. . . he'd made worse bargains in his life. What the hell. It was the best he could do on short notice.

"All right," Dean said, "that's good enough for me, but just this once. It is not something we're going to make a habit of."

"I agree," the monster said with slight distaste. "Otherwise, you might start thinking I'm on your side."

"Don't worry," Dean said. "That's never a mistake I'll make."

"I'm pleased to hear it." The monster slid its hands down his chest to his hips, then looked at Dean with an almost saucy smile. "Now that that's settled, perhaps we should move on to other matters. Did you know I don't need to breathe? That I can, in fact, stay under water for as long as I want?"

It took a full two seconds for the implications of that statement to hit.

"Oh god," he moaned, almost afraid to look as the pale gold head disappeared beneath the bubbles. "Oh, yes," he breathed, leaning his head back against the tub as the monster's mouth wrapped around his dick. Closing his eyes, he buried his fingers in the silky gold strands and let himself drift away in the pleasure.

He was standing at the top of the stairs at the end of a hall.

He didn't know how he got there, but he felt like he'd been there before. He knew he'd been there before. Only, it didn't look like this. The hallway he was standing in now--the walls were a different color, the carpet older and a little shabbier, and the light fixture above the picture of the married couple--that definitely wasn't the same. But he recognized it. Old or new, this hallway would forever be ingrained into his memory.

He was home.

Sam knew that if he walked down the hallway, he'd see that the rooms to his right belonged one to his parents, and one to Dean. The room to his left, that one was his. Was this before the fire, or after? It had to have been before. There were no signs of damage, and he knew most of the upstairs had been burnt.

He slowly became aware of a quite rumble of voices from downstairs and a blue light seeping in from the living room--someone was watching TV. Someone was home. He wasn't alone. If he went downstairs, who would he see? His father? His mother? Dean?

But he didn't want to go downstairs. He wasn't there for whoever was downstairs. He was there for someone else.

The light above the picture of the married couple started to flicker.

Sam stared at it, hints of fear threading through his veins as he scratched at an itch on his right palm. The light wasn't supposed to be flickering like that. Lights only flickered when there was danger ahead. A voice inside his head told him to run, but he knew he couldn't. There was someone he needed to see, someone down the hall and through one of the doors. It was the reason he was there, but his feet refused to move.

A woman in a long white nightgown ran past him, a woman whose face he'd only seen once outside of a handful of pictures.


He watched as she disappeared into the room on the left. His room. And then he knew--this was it. This was the night she died.

"Mom, wait, come back!" he shouted, trying to move forward, but his feet felt like they were weighed down by cement blocks. He dragged himself down the hall, tears streaming down his face. He'd never be able to reach her in time.


"Get away from my son!" she shouted.

"Take her," said a strange voice, and then he heard his mother's scream.


Gasping, Sam sat up in bed, then winced as the sudden movement wrenched his stitches.

"Hey there, little buddy," someone said, a hand on his shoulder. "Go easy on yourself."

He looked over to see Dean leaning over him, green eyes filled with worry.

"You okay? You have a nightmare?"

"Yeah," he nodded, easing himself back against the mattress, his heart racing in his chest. It was as good an explanation as any for what he'd seen, an explanation he knew he'd probably need again. Something told him this dream was just beginning.

"Was it one of those, you know," Dean said as he raised his hands and wiggled his fingers at him, "ooOOOoo kind of dreams?"

Sam rolled his eyes. "No, it wasn't one of those," he said, then frowned. "I don't think. This was something that happened in the past."

"Oh," Dean nodded and sat back down, opening up his magazine. "Good to know. We're not in any condition for a wild goose chase at the moment." He released the pages long enough to pick up a bag from the floor and toss it at him. "Now get dressed so we can get out of here. Hospitals give me the willies."

Swinging his legs over the side of the mattress, Sam caught sight of what his brother was reading and grinned. "Highlights?"

Dean glanced at the cover of the children's magazine and shrugged. "It was the only thing left in the waiting room I hadn't already read."

"You mean, it was the only thing they had available at your reading level?"

"Oh, I see, someone wants to be left in the hospital for another day. You could have told me sooner," he said, starting to stand up. "Would have saved me a trip down here."

"You're not leaving me here another minute longer."

"Then get dressed, chicken legs," Dean said, swatting his brother's knees with the magazine and sitting back down. "I'm not going to wait here all day."

"How long have you been waiting?" Sam asked as he dug through the bag.

"A couple hours." Seeing the surprised look on his brother's face, Dean shrugged. "Not like I had anything better to do. Besides, I wasn't sure when you'd wake up."

"You could have called."

"I was fine here. But now I'm ready to leave, so move."

"Yes, ma'am."

Dean swatted him on the butt this time as he headed to the bathroom to change. "I'll give the nurse's desk a ring so we can get you checked out of here."

"That should give you just enough time to find all the hidden objects in the picture."

"Leaving now," Dean said in a sing-song voice.

Sam just chuckled and shut the door. He managed to do okay getting off the hospital gown and sliding into his boxers and sweats. He was even able to button up the button down shirt--his brother had more foresight than he'd thought. Shoes, on the other hand, were a problem.

"Hey Dean?" he asked, walking barefoot into the room. "Could you--oh."

He stopped at seeing his brother getting examined by an attractive redheaded nurse.

"Hey bro," his brother said, glancing at him, then looking back at the nurse with his sexiest grin. "Sylvie here was just making sure I was okay."

"I can see," he said, his voice cold as Sylvie ran her fingers across the crescent bruise on his brother's bare chest. "And how is he?"

"He's just fine, though he could use a little time in bed," Sylvie said, looking directly into his brother's eyes, and Dean's grin broadened.

The air around Sam dropped another twenty degrees. "I thought you wanted to get out of here?"

Dean's eyes flickered over to him and his grin vanished. "Right, I do. Is he free to go?"

"The doctor should be here in a couple minutes to look him over, and then he can check out."

"Great. You hear that, Sammy?"

"I'm not deaf, Dean. And it's Sam."

"Fine. Whatever, Sam," he said with a roll of his eyes, pulling his shirt back down as Sylvie finished wrapping up his ribs, and smiled. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," she smiled. "And I'll go get Dora. She wanted to be the one to wheel you out, Sam."

So long as it's anyone but you, he thought as he forced a smile. "Thanks."

"Dora?" Dean asked after Sylvie had left the room.

"She's been looking after me while you were busy sleeping."

Dean's eyes narrowed a little, and Sam knew he'd scored a direct hit, if an extremely petty one. "Here, sit down," his brother said, sliding off the bed and patting the mattress. "Let me help you with your shoes."

He took a seat on the bed and Dean sat in the chair, lifting his leg up to rest on his knee so he wouldn't have to bend over to reach his foot.

"You wanna tell me what bug went and crawled up your butt?" he asked, staring down at the laces as he tied them.

"None," Sam grumbled. "I just want out of here."

"Uh huh."

Dean lifted up his other leg, avoiding his gaze. Sam knew his brother didn't believe him, but he was thankful Dean wasn't going to press the subject. He really didn't know what he'd say.

"Thank you," he said softly as the last lace was tied, and Dean looked up at him with a smile. It was always that easy, that quick. They could have an all-out brawl, and then as little as five minutes later, all would be forgotten. Sure, sometimes it took more than five minutes, but in the end, his brother always forgave him.

"Sure thing," Dean said, letting the foot fall to the floor as Dora and the doctor walked into the room. A minute later, Sam was cleared to go. "I'll go get the car."

"We'll be waiting for you outside," Dora said, wheeling the chair over to Sam's bed. "Hop in, shug."

His bag in his lap, he kept his eyes forward as Dora wheeled him out of the hospital. He didn't want to remember any more of this place than he had to.

"So that was the infamous Dean," Dora said from behind him, and he nodded. "Your brother's a handsome one. Bet it gets him in a lot of trouble."

"He gets himself in a lot of trouble."

She chuckled. "Oh, I'm sure of that. You gonna be okay, shug? For someone who's getting out of the hospital, you don't look too happy."

"I am, at least, to be out. I don't know about anything else."

"Well, I'm sure your brother has all the answers. He looks like someone who does."

"Or thinks he does," Sam said, watching as the Impala pulled up to the sidewalk and thanked Dora for all her help.

"Any time," she smiled, holding the hand he'd offered her a second too long as she looked him over. "You just make sure you take care of yourself, and him. And remember, those stitches need to be removed in six weeks."

"Believe me, I won't forget."

She glanced over at the Impala and handed him a small rectangle of thick paper. "Here's my card. If you have any questions or just need to talk, you give me a call. Or shoot me an email. All my contact information is on there."

He gave a look of mild surprise, but pocketed the card. "Thank you."

"C'mon, Sammy!" Dean said from where he was holding open the passenger door. "Stop flirting with Dora and let's go!"

Sam glared at his brother, who flashed him a playful grin. He thanked her again and slid into the car, careful not to jar his shoulder. Dean helped him buckle in and smiled.

"You all set?"

"Yeah, I think so."

"Then off we go."

He walked around to the driver's side, turned on the engine, and Sam waved to Dora as they pulled away from the hospital.

"So, back to the Inn?" Sam asked over the cacophony of noise his brother called music.

"For now. Don't know where we're headed after that, but I'm not in any hurry to get there," Dean said, fingers tapping against the steering wheel with no particular rhythm. "We've got time to do some research and then decide."

Sam nodded, watching the fingers moving out of sync with the music. His brother had a great sense of rhythm. It was necessary for certain spells and incantations and rituals, but it was also something that came naturally to Dean. He was never off-beat, not when chanting a twenty stanza repulsion incantation, not when listening to Metallica. Finally, Sam broke. "Dean, is something wrong?"

"What do you mean?" he asked, glancing at him with a quick grin.

"You seem. . . nervous." And tired. For someone who'd been sleeping for the past forty-eight hours or so, his brother looked exhausted.

"I'm just glad to be out of there," Dean said, and predictably changed the subject--always a sure sign something was up. "I hope you're hungry--Judy's going to have a feast ready for us by the time we get there."

"That's nice of her."

"Nuts, actually, but I think she likes having people to worry about. That's why I picked up the cash to thank her with.

Sam's eyes widened. Of all the stupid. . . "You went into the city last night?"

He nodded. "We're set for a while."

"You shouldn't be going out, not until you're better. I hope you didn't get too beat up."

"I went to several places and I got out of all of them before they could catch me."

"Good. The last thing you need is another couple broken ribs."

"They're only cracked. Nothing to worry about, unlike your shoulder."

"My shoulder is fine. Well, maybe not fine, but not in any danger of getting worse."

"Good. Let's keep it that way."

Sam looked over at him and smiled. There was an edge to Dean's voice that told him everything. "Are you getting all sappy on me over there, big brother?"

Dean's eyes slid over to him for the briefest of seconds. "...whatever."

Sam chuckled. "You big softie," he said, and was rewarded with a glare. "Yeah, that's what I thought."

Dean tried to look peeved, but the more Sam smiled, the more he watched his brother's face lightening until he could tell Dean was fighting to keep from grinning like an idiot.

"Yeah," Sam said, turning to look out the window as they approached the Inn, "that's what I thought."