Sam was in surgery for close to seven hours.
Donovan had appeared from behind the emergency room’s double doors roughly half an hour after they’d first arrived there, a small dressing on the inside of his elbow and a bottle of orange juice in his hand. He’d informed the waiting hunters that the doctors suspected that Sam was haemorrhaging internally, and that they’d mentioned something about his appendix, but he hadn’t know anything else.
Dean had half expected the shifter to call the whole thing a job well done and head home; he’d figured that Donovan would count his debt to Sam settled, having not only led them to Sam but also fought to keep him alive on the journey to the hospital. Instead, he’d wordlessly settled into a hard, plastic chair on the other side of Bobby and Pastor Jim, crossing his legs at the ankle and evidently settling in for the long haul.
Dean barely resisted the urge to make some kind of sarcastic remark. Everything in him was desperate for a fight – some way to get rid of the painful tangle of feelings in the pit of his stomach – but he knew better than to risk being thrown out of the hospital. It was bad enough that he’d drawn attention to them when they first arrived, he didn’t need to do it again now.
It was another half hour before Bobby rose to his feet, and the rest of them turned to face him as he cracked his back.
“Jim and I should probably go back to the house,” He announced after a few long minutes. “Pick up the Impala and clean up the mess that we made.”
Next to Dean, John’s spine stiffened with the realisation that none of them had even thought about cleaning up the mess or disposing of the bodies. None of them had spared a thought for whether or not they were leaving fingerprints as they’d torn through the house, and Dean knew that the only likely solution would be to burn the place to the ground. The last thing that they needed was the police on their asses.
“We’ll come straight back here when we’re done. Make sure you keep us updated.”
John nodded stiffly. “We will.”
“Family of Samuel Smith?”
Dean’s head jerked up from where he’d been resting it against the back of his plastic chair, and he rose to his feet as soon as he caught sight of the tired-looking doctor headed their way.
“That’s us.” John acknowledged, reaching out to shake the hand that was offered to him. “How’s Sam doing? Did the surgery go alright?”
The doctor smiled, and Dean felt the tension begin to ebb from his shoulders. “The surgery went better than we expected. As you can imagine, we had quite the job fixing him up – we managed to set the bones in his wrist without internal intervention, but the leg was a different story entirely. We were initially worried that he might need to have metal plates in place to hold the bones together, but thankfully once we managed to manipulate the bones back into place, it became apparent that wasn’t the case.”
Dean headed a sigh of relief, because he couldn’t imagine the havoc that having metal plates in his leg could have caused. He physically needed to shift, and there was no way of telling whether or not he would have been able to do it with the bones in his leg secured in one position.
“As for the internal injuries,” The doctor continued, face softening a little in a way that made Dean’s tension shoot up all over again. “Sam’s appendix had burst at some point, and had to be removed entirely. The tear in his spleen is small enough that we feel it should be able to heal by itself, but he’s going to be in a considerable amount of pain for a while. He also had a severe concussion, but scans showed no swelling on the brain.”
John nodded. “Is that everything?”
“We want to monitor his heart for the next few hours, at least,” The doctor told them carefully. “We were informed that he had been tazered multiple times? He was suffering from heart arrhythmia when he was first admitted, but it seems steady now. We’re hopeful that he won’t suffer any long-term consequences, but it’s still safer to keep him monitored for a while. He was also dehydrated, emaciated and hypothermic – all of which we’re treating him for now, alongside antibiotics in his IV to fight off any possible infection, and a blood transfusion to replace what he lost before he got here.”
“But he’s going to be okay?”
“Yes,” The doctor nodded. “It certainly looks that way. Your son is a fighter, Mr. Smith.”
John laughed, loud and sudden, bubbling from his chest as if he couldn’t stop it. It was the kind of laugh born of pure relief, with an almost hysterical edge. “Yeah, we know. Thank you.”
“No problem at all. If you’d like to follow me, I can take you to his room.”
Dean nodded obediently, feeling his father’s hand gently squeeze his shoulder as the two of them wound their way through the maze of corridors. They may have had their differences over the past few months, but Dean was more than a little relieved to have his father by his side – when it came down to the wire, John had made it clear that he loved both his sons, shapeshifting ability be damned.
They still had a hell of a lot of stuff to sort out, but at least they’d all be alive to sort through it.
The doctor paused outside of a door suddenly, offering them a light-hearted grin. “The nurses will be just along the hall if you need anything. He might look a little scary at first – he’s hooked up to a lot of machines – but they’re only there to make sure that nothing changes.”
John nodded, pausing to thank the doctor again or ask him something, but Dean was already shoving past him into the room. He needed to see his brother with his own eyes, rest his fingers on his skin and feel the fluttering of his pulse underneath; he needed proof – hard, solid evidence that his brother was really alive.
He wavered in the doorway, as soon as his eyes fell on his little brother.
Sam was hooked up to more wires than Dean had ever seen anyone hooked up to. He looked small and fragile in the hospital bed, his skin almost as pale as the white sheets, thin enough from days of captivity that his collarbones stood out startlingly. Someone had taken the time to clean the blood and dirt from his skin, giving Dean a clear view of the cuts and bruises that covered him for the first time, and his knees felt weak at the sight. There was a bag of blood dripping steadily into the inside of his un-casted arm, and a nasal cannula taped underneath his nose; a blood pressure monitor sat in the crook of his elbow, and there was a heart monitor attached to the end of one of his fingers. Their readings were displayed on a machine next to Sam’s head, beeping quietly and steadily.
Dean appreciated the constant reassurance that their presence provided, but he knew that they would only make things more difficult when the time came to break Sam out of the hospital.
"His readings look steady," Donovan declared, and Dean jumped a little despite himself. He'd almost forgotten that the shifter had followed them to Sam’s room. "We should be safe to move him."
Dean whirled on him incredulously, feeling his temper flare. "You can't be serious! He's just come out of major surgery - you heard the doctor! They still need to monitor him!"
"The longer that he's here, the more likely they are to figure out that something's not quite right with him!" Donovan snapped. "Do you want him to wind up as a science experiment?"
"I'd rather that he was a science experiment than dead!"
"That's enough." John interrupted, voice icy. "The last thing that we need right now is the two of you at each other's throats. We'll stay here until Bobby and Jim get back, okay? Make sure that his readings are okay, and that the doctors think he's still on track for a good recovery. If the doctors notice anything strange, they're going to want to run more tests - we've got time."
"You're making a mistake." Donovan scowled, looking visibly irritated for the first time.
John shrugged his shoulders, crossing the room to settle in one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs on the other side of Sam's bed. "It's our mistake to make. If you have a problem with it, then feel free to leave."
Donovan muttered something that sounded distinctly unpleasant under his breath, stalking towards the doorway. For a long moment, Dean thought he might actually leave, and then Donovan turned and leant against the inside of the doorframe, crossing his arms over his chest.
"What are you doing?" Dean couldn't help but ask, flickering his eyes towards the two chairs leaning up against the same wall. He wasn't exactly eager to sit next to the guy, but it would look a hell of a lot less suspicious to anyone walking past.
"Keeping guard," The shifter growled, rolling his eyes like Dean was an idiot. "I figure someone's gotta give you a heads up when the scientists come calling. Not like you can keep an eye out from the kid's bedside."
Dean glowered, opening his mouth to tell Donovan exactly where he could stick his pompous attitude, but was cut off by his father saying his name sharply. Dean turned on him, more pissed off than ever at the fact that his father was actually defending the shifter, only to realise that John wasn't looking at him at all. Instead, his attention was focused on his youngest son, who's eyelids were fluttering weakly.
"Sammy?" Dean called, crossing the few remaining feet between himself and his brother in one long step, reaching across to gently sooth his thumb over the creases in Sam's brow. "You in there, kiddo?"
He glanced up at his father, taking in the frown on his face with a raised eyebrow.
"Doctor said he should be out for a while," The older hunter explained with a shrug. "They dosed him with a bit more anaesthetic than usual to keep him under whilst they casted his arm and leg."
"It's a shifter thing. Different metabolisms." Donovan interjected from the doorway. "We process medication a lot faster."
Dean winced. "Well, that's gonna be a bundle of laughs for the kid. So much for swiping some of the good stuff and keeping him in a pain-free haze for the next few days. He's gonna be in agony."
“I can help you figure out dosages.” Donovan offered, and Dean almost felt grateful for a moment; until, that was, the shifter immediately added, “If we get him out of here, of course.”
“We’re going to get him out of here.” John said firmly before Dean had a chance to respond, and the young hunter couldn’t resist glowering in his father’s direction.
In the bed, Sam stirred again, nose wrinkling against the strange sensation of the cannula feeding him oxygen. Dean felt his lips twitch up at the sight, reminded of the way Sam would wrinkle his nose when presented with macaroni and cheese for the fourth night in a row when he was a little kid – before Dean started mixing in hot dogs to make it exciting for him.
The heart monitor’s pace picked up a little, and the finger’s on Sam’s casted arm twitched a little. Dean reached out to tangle them with his own and squeezed gently, hoping that the touch might reassure Sam that he was safe – that he wasn’t still trapped in that godforsaken basement.
The younger hunter moaned a little under his breath, head shifting on the pillow, and his murky hazel eyes blinked themselves open. And then closed again a moment later.
Dean snorted a little in amusement despite himself. Trust Sammy to make something so huge seem utterly anti-climatic.
“You awake in there, kid?” He prompted, and Sam’s nose wrinkled again. There was a long pause, and for a while Dean thought that Sam might have been pulled back under by the drugs in his system, and then his eyes blinked open again.
This time, they stayed open.