“Sam, pick up your damn phone. I’m taking Dean to the hospital.”
“You’re gonna… freak him out,” Dean panted.
“Why shouldn’t he freak out?” Riley sighed, “How you doing, stud?”
Dean coughed, leaning forward and clutching at the dashboard of Riley’s car, “God,” he pressed his head against it, “My chest… friggen hurts.”
“Okay, honey. Don’t talk anymore. Just take shallow breaths, okay?”
Dean nodded, against the hard plastic of the dashboard, a hand fisted in his shirt.
“We’ll be there soon,” Riley said, steering the car in the direction of the hospital.
“It looks like you’ve got some fluid build up in your pleural space around your lung, caused by the ongoing pneumonia. It’s not too bad at this stage, so we’ll give you some fluids for a few hours, antibiotics, and pain management.”
Dr Reid looked at Dean over his glasses.
Dean cleared his throat, “Okay…”
He sighed and placed the folder on the table by Dean’s bed, “You know I wasn’t working here today… They called me when you came in.”
Dean furrowed his brow.
“You perplex me.”
Dean scoffed, wincing and rubbing his chest.
“You’re severely immune-compromised, Dean. And I want to know why. There’s no reason why a strong, young man like you can’t fight this off, but you’re not.”
Dean swallowed and looked down, “I’m not strong.”
Dr Reid picked up his folder, frowning, “Maybe that’s your problem right there.”
Dean looked up at the doctor.
“We’ll try and get you out of here in a few hours, but I want to run some tests while we’ve got you, so the nurses’ll be in and out.”
Reid looked solemnly at Dean and left.
Dean tried to calm his racing heart. He knew the doc knew something. That he’d been out drinking. That he’d disobeyed. Even if he didn’t now, something in his blood or his urine would indicate it… surely. Although, there was no reason for him to say anything to Sam or Bobby. He had doctor patient confidentiality. He wouldn’t talk. At least that’s what he hoped.
“You okay?” Riley was standing at the door.
Dean nodded, closing his eyes and rubbing them hard with his fingers.
“I called the bar but Sam had gone out. He must be on his lunch break.”
Dean dropped his hand, “And he’s not answering his phone?”
“No,” she shook her head.
“That’s not like him,” Dean muttered.
“I can get Jim to call me when he gets back in.”
“Yeah, could you?” Dean asked, trying not to worry. He was the one in hospital again, but it didn’t stop him worrying about his little brother. Nothing would.
Riley nodded, texting, “Do you want me to call your uncle? Is he home?”
“Yeah, he’s home… maybe, I dunno. Doc said I’ll be outta here in a few hours.”
Riley raised her eyebrow.
“You’re not gonna tell him?”
Dean sighed, “Don’t start.”
Riley held her hands up in surrender, “What about your girlfriend? Gonna tell her?”
Dean just looked down, “She’s not my girlfriend.”
“This isn’t a big deal, Riles. Doc’s just running tests.”
“You couldn’t breathe.”
“I’m sorry, alright? Can we just drop it.”
“Sure, Dean. Whatever you want,” Riley stood up, “I’m just gonna… take a walk.”
While Riley was gone Dean actually worked up the courage to ask the nurse for some pain relief. After that he fell into a fitful doze, worrying about Sam and why in hell he wouldn’t answer his friggen phone.
"I can only be gone for half an hour, tops," Sam said, throwing his jacket on the bed.
"Well, hello to you too, Sam," Ruby snarked, sitting up against the headboard, arms folded across her chest.
Sam sat down on the edge of the bed and put his head in his hands. He felt Ruby worm up behind him, her hands gliding over his shoulders.
"We shouldn't be doing this," he breathed.
Ruby swung herself around onto Sam's lap, straddling him, her lips close to his face.
"Think about Dean, Sam. About what Lilith did to him. He's the way he is, because of her. You want someone to blame, you want someone to kill, you know where you need to point the trigger."
Sam grabbed her shoulders roughly, pulling her away.
"I can help you get her, Sam. I can help you get revenge."
Sam tugged her towards him, kissing her violently, biting her bottom lip. His hand found its way up the back of her shirt and he felt her cold against him.
He threw her down on the bed and climbed on top of her, eyes pleading.
Ruby grabbed the knife from her boot and handed it to him, "Slice me anywhere you want."
Sam shuddered, his body trembling with excitement. He pulled up her shirt and sliced the blade along her stomach, crouching down to suck the crimson liquid from her before it ran down onto the sheets.
Ruby stroked Sam's hair, smiling, "That's it, Sam. It's gonna be okay."
"Your liver enzyme count has gone up since the last test."
Dean blinked at Dr Reid, not giving anything away.
"Dean, have you stopped drinking?"
Dean cleared his throat, "I had a, uh, setback."
Reid nodded, "I've had the conversation once. I'm not going to repeat myself every time you stumble back through these doors. The ball is in your court, Dean. There is help if you need it, and you know what you need to do."
Dean coughed, wincing and shifting in the bed, "Can I go?"
The doc sighed, "Yeah, you can go. As long as you've got someone to drive you home."
"Lucky I hung around," Riley said, appearing at the door.
Reid turned, stepping towards her and lowering his voice, "Take him straight home."
Riley didn't move her eyes from the doctors until he stepped through the door and wandered back down the hall, away from Dean Winchester, shoulders sagging slightly.
"You ready to get outta here?"
Dean smothered a cough into his arm and clumsily tried to straighten himself in the bed, "Yeah."
Sam pulled his eyes open, heavy from sleep, not enough sleep. He lifted his arm up off Ruby's waist, their skin sticking together with perspiration. He furrowed his brow, taking in his surroundings, the battered, skeavy motel room walls. His eyes found the clock on the bedside table.
"Son of a bitch!"
"Sam?" Ruby asked, sleepily pushing herself up.
"Why did you let me fall asleep?" He yelled at her, tugging his pants on.
"Let you? Grow up, Winchester," she bit back, inspecting the wound on her abdomen, "Went a little deep this time."
Sam threw her a look over his shoulder, pulling on a shirt, "What? Where's my phone?"
"I dunno, your jacket?" She suggested, lying back down and stretching casually.
"Dammit," he cursed, "I'm gonna lose my freaking job."
"Who cares," she laughed.
Sam directed a filthy look her way, reaching a hand into his jacket pocket to retrieve his phone.
"What the - 8 missed calls?"
"Thought I heard something."
"Shut up," he said, calling his voicemail and putting the phone to his ear.
"Sam, pick up your damn phone. I'm taking Dean to the hospital."
"Oh my god."
Dean was still hungover. His back was clenching. The painkillers they’d pumped him full of were dulling the pain slightly, but each movement sent a stab through the fog and reminded him he was alive. His stomach was churning from the antibiotics and he really wanted to hurl again. His chest was uncomfortably tight and when he coughed every inch of him hurt, but all he seemed to want to do was cough… and wasn’t that just delightful.
“You alright?” Riley asked, her previous bitterness having dissipated.
Dean coughed involuntarily, trying not to cry, “Sam called yet?”
Riley glanced at him but Dean avoided her eyes, “No, and Jim hasn’t seen him yet.”
“Dammit,” he cursed, “I should’a called Bobby sooner. Sent him out after him… anything could’a happened.”
“I’m sure he’s fine, Dean.”
Dean shook his head. Riley didn’t get it. Riley didn’t understand. She didn’t know about monsters, and demons, and vampires, and ghouls, all of which knew very well about the Winchesters. All of which would be delighted to kill them any chance they got. It wasn’t like Sam to skip out on work and not answer his phone, especially while Dean was the way he was. It didn’t make sense.
“Do you want your jacket on?” Riley asked, holding it out to him.
“Dean Winchester?” the orderly arrived at the door, pushing a wheelchair in front of him.
Dean looked from Riley to the orderly, “Oh, I’m not gettin’ in that.”
Due to hospital policy, Dean did go out in a wheelchair. As soon as he saw the door though, he was clambering to his feet, leaning on Riley unapologetically. He heard the car before he even saw it approach. Thrumming through the parking lot up to the emergency set down. Sam was steering the impala towards him, making the tires squeal as he pulled up in front of the entrance. Dean scowled at the reckless way he was driving his baby.
“You’re gonna bald the tires!” he chastised as Sam scrambled out of the car and raced around to his brother, wrapping his arms around him.
“What the hell happened?” he asked, out of breath.
“Dude, get off me,” Dean wriggled away, “Where were you? Riley called you like ten times.”
Dean swayed and closed his eyes, steadying himself on his brother’s shoulder.
“Come on, you need to sit down. You boys can argue later,” Riley said, her hand on the small of Dean’s back.
“Dean, I’m sorry.”
“Whatever,” Dean grumbled, climbing into the passenger seat, “Just take me home.”