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08 September 2013 @ 08:33 pm
jai guru deva om: I feel fine (chapter 2)  

Voices perforated his darkness, distant murmurs poking into it and rooting around, a dull annoyance.

A/N: The brilliant beta work of NongPradu, Emmessann, and Tifaching made a huge impact upon this story. My eternal thanks go also to Sue, Penny, Ginger, Amanda, and Deb for their support and feedback. They nudged, prompted, and sometimes even hen-pecked me to finish this story. It was a close thing.

Jai Guru Deva Om

Chapter Two
I Feel Fine

**ॐ **

Voices perforated his darkness, distant murmurs poking into it and rooting around, a dull annoyance. They persisted, stomping about and invading his personal space, growing more obnoxious and agitated all the while. Dean opened his eyes long enough to make out a strange hole in the ceiling. Red and blue hazard strobes swirled around the room above him, bouncing off the walls and windows, but they didn't hold his interest. He closed his eyes and drifted until someone began clapping their hands inches from his face. Starbursts exploded under his lids with each sound wave.

"Fffffuuhhh…nuuuhhhh…" he complained.

"There you are," a loud male voice said. Dean winced and turned his head, but the movement made him feel sick. He shut his eyes again.

"Hey, stay with us, now," someone said. "Can you open your eyes back up, buddy?"

Dean supposed he could, but he much preferred to tune out the guy. He was tired and wanted to return to that delicious, pain-free oblivion he'd been enjoying. The voices had other ideas.

"I need you to open your eyes for me, sir," a young female said.

Sir? That did it. Dean opened his eyes and tried to take a swat at the nearest head with his free hand, but the limb never got any significant lift. It just flopped by his side like a deboned fish. One of the men effortlessly held it down with his fingers.

"Calm down, there, bud," he said. "Can you wiggle your toes for me?"

Dean's brows pinched, and he looked around dazed. "Whhuhh?" After the stranger repeated himself, Dean twitched his toes, then tried to sit up.

"No, no, hon," the girl said. "You stay right here. Let us do the work." Several hands were on him, crisscrossing his arms over his chest and shifting him, readjusting his lower body, untangling his legs and laying them flat. Someone gripped the head of his amulet and eased it over his head.

"Nuhh!" Dean scolded, trying to stop them.

"We'll take good care of it for you, hon. We just need it out of our way. I promise nothing will happen to it, okay?" the woman said as she placed a thick collar around his neck, immobilizing him.

Velcro ripped, and someone wrapped a blood pressure cuff around his arm. He growled in pain as the band inflated.

"Muhhnngh," Dean protested, putting his diaphragm into it to drive his point home. His ribs and stomach burned from the strain, and that settled him immediately.

"Take it easy, there. We're here to help," the man explained. "You took a pretty bad fall. Can you tell us your name?" The paramedic released the blood pressure cuff and glanced up at one of the men holding a radio. "Patient appears to be late-teens—early twenties. BP is 105 over 50. Pulse is 125. Skin is cold and diaphoretic." He turned to Dean again. "Can you tell me your name?" he repeated.

Dean stared at him, trying to string the words together in his head so that they made sense. It was hard to concentrate with all the activity going on near him. There were several firefighters evaluating the hole in the ceiling and talking.

"Hey buddy, I'm Ted, this is Melissa," the man said, grabbing Dean's attention back. "And over here is Carl," he said, indicating the EMT with the radio. "Now, can you tell me your name?" he asked one more time.

"Who…?" He tried to sit up again, but his head and abdomen flared with pain. "Aghhngh," he cried.

"Don't move, now. You don't want to—it's really important that you stay still for me, okay?" Melissa tried to soothe.

Ted flashed a penlight in Dean's eyes several times, and the room took a violent tumble, tilting and pitching back and forth. He didn't possess the strength to stop the medic, though he gave it his best shot. While Dean struggled to blink away the dizzying light, the woman applied a cold, wet pad to his elbow, rubbing the open crook briskly and inserting a needle.

"Heyyyyyy! Wh'yyyy'doooin'?" Dean fussed, but they continued pressing and jabbing without his consent. Ted was looking into his ears and nose. He pried open Dean's mouth, swabbing it with cotton balls, sticking his gloved fingers into his mouth and probing around inside.

"I think he's been vomiting blood," Ted said to the girl and then turned to Dean. "Can you tell me where you are?"

"Inna b'sssket," Dean said.

"Where?"

"B'smen'," Dean clarified.

"Can you recite the months of the year backwards?"

Dean stared, his words not quite penetrating. "Do whaah?"

"Can you list the months of the year in reverse order, starting with December and going back?"

"Uhhh…" Dean tried to make sense of that. "'Cember, Marsshh, June, Apr'l," he said and then gave up. He was too tired to talk anymore. He wanted a nap.

"Open your eyes," Ted coaxed. At least he seemed satisfied enough with Dean's answers and moved on with his exam, lifting the hunter's shirt and pressing on his sore spot.

A lightning bolt of pain had his body jolting off the floor. "Fffffuccck! Don' touch…fuckin' hur's!"

"I'm so sorry. I know that's tender," he said.

Dean was dubious. If the guy knew how much it hurt he wouldn't keep touching him there, but the paramedic continued to probe the area.

Carl finished talking to someone on his radio and squatted next to Ted. "What's it lookin' like?" he asked as Ted continued his examination.

Dean heard Ted respond, but the words jumbled and he couldn't catch them all: abdominal, splenic, concussion, shock, fractures, hematoma. He lost interest. Ted's face came close to his.

"Do you hurt anywhere else?"

"Nuhh, thirrrrsy," Dean admitted. "Sammy comin'?"

"Your name's Sammy?"

Dean looked at Ted, dazed and pained. A loud noise took his attention, and his eyes focused on the firefighters. They were moving debris and bracing the hole. "Tell ‘em t'stop poun'nen. Head hurr's."

"They'll be done soon. They're just making sure we're safe." The paramedic snapped his fingers to get Dean's attention back. "Is your name Sammy?"

"Trie' callin'. Won' answer phone. He comin' gemme?" he asked.

Ted turned to Melissa. "He's severely disoriented."

She nodded and bent in close to Dean. "Hey honey," she said, talking to him as though he were a child. "Can you tell us your name?"

"Mmm…D'n," he said, wanting to shut her up and get her out of his face.

"Dan?" she repeated. "Okay, now. We're gonna be on our way to the hospital shortly, and I need you to try and stay awake. Can you do that for me, Dan?"

"D'nnnnnnnnnn." Dean corrected her.

"Yep, Dan…we gotcha. We're gonna take good care of you. Try to stay calm."

"Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaan." He forced out the word. It hurt like hell, but for some reason this was a sticking point for him. If he was going to be a piece of meat, he at least wanted to be a piece of meat with the right name.

"Dean?" Melissa asked. The hunter couldn't bother to answer anymore. He blinked his eyes in confirmation, instead. "Okay, Dean. Sorry. Just hang tight now. You're doing real good. We're going to move you a little and then we're going to get you out of here, what do y'say?"

Dean gave her a feeble thumbs-up that he was pretty sure went unnoticed, since his hand refused to budge from where it was lying by his side.

A backboard was wedged under him, and half a dozen people gathered around to assist. Even though they were professional and shifted him with as little movement as possible, the pain in his head and abdomen blinded him. Everything started to fade rapidly.

"No—no—no, Dean. Don't do that, now…" Ted said, distressed. But it didn't matter. It was already done, and Dean was grateful for the darkness that rushed up to meet him.

**ॐ **

Awareness was spotty and jumpy after that, and Dean had only a vague notion of where he was and what was happening. There were sirens, voices and constant frenetic activity around him while he lay passively in the eye of the storm, winking in and out of existence. When someone pressed particularly hard on his abdomen, he bucked up, flying into combat-mode, throwing punches and even landing a couple. Commotion erupted, commands shouted and he suddenly felt a swirling motion before everything stopped for a long, long while.

The next time he became marginally aware, all the noise and commotion had ceased. Everything was fleecy, warm and peaceful, and Dean floated painlessly. It was too much bother to keep his eyes open, so he didn't.

Sometime later, though, all warmth and comfort had evaporated, and he moaned as wave after wave of pain and nausea hit him. He turned his head and vomited a russet, bloody bile down his chin and neck. There was some subdued activity, gentle hands wiping him off and a quiet voice encouraging him. A minute later, Dean was once again floating in a cocoon of bliss. And so things went on like this for quite a while, alternating between ecstasy and agony, the two interchanging every now and again. The shift to euphoria was always precipitated by a visit from a Busty Asian Beauty who would stand next to him, checking his eyes, calling his name, demanding that he acknowledge her and answer questions before she would allow him to drift away on a toasty wave of golden relief.

Hours passed, maybe days, and Dean began to shiver. His thoughts swarmed like fire ants, and nightmare people hovered over his bed. They were always there. The creatures stared at him and intoned sinister incantations, incoherent mumblings from featureless, mouthless faces. The chanting constantly fluctuated in speed and volume, and, despite his years of training, he was terrified of them. It was at this point that Sam and his dad arrived. The chanting receded into the background as his family drew near. He could feel his brother's large hand on his forehead, could hear his father's gruff voice, but boy were they ever pissed. Dean knew he was in for it, but he didn't mind. He'd take whatever they wanted to dish out. It was enough that they were there.

I got your messages. What were you thinkin', huh? Out there all alone? Why didn't you wait for me, man? I was on my way! Sam said.

John bent in close. You scared us, Sport. We came as soon as we got your messages. He gripped Dean's hand in his. We call this the ‘family business' for a reason, you know. You shouldn't have been out there alone.

"Sorry Dad, sorry Sammy," he offered demurely, not sure whether he'd spoken out loud or not. He mulled over what they'd said but things weren't making sense. "Wait, Dad…you're the one who wen' off on a hun' alone. That was two months ago. Where y'been?

Sam chuckled. Don't change the subject, jerk. You shouldn't have been out there like that with no back up. You can't take these crazy risks.

"I know," Dean acknowledged. He found it difficult to get enough breath to speak. His words came out a windy whisper, nothing more. "M'sohhhrry. Fffuccked up bad. Don' go, please. Don' wan' the faces t'come back."

They can't get you, Sam said with a confident shrug, eyeing his brother.

John tugged on his hand. We're right here. We got you, bud. We got you, and they won't dare touch you while we're on watch.

Dean stared up at the two of them, standing side by side. His breath hitched when he tried to speak. He stopped and swallowed. "Glad you guys are here," he whispered. "Don' go."

Sam snorted. We're not going anywhere. And you're not, either. You hear me? You're staying right here with us. He gripped Dean's other hand and tugged on it. You're not leaving. We're with you.

"Won' leave you, Sammy…Dad," he promised. Dean tried to relax, even though the blanket shimmered and waved. It wouldn't stay put even when he tried to hold it down. After a struggle, he closed his eyes so that he didn't have to watch it anymore. The constant motion was dizzying.

Time jounced and staggered some more. The Busty Asian Beauty was back again. Sam stood behind her, big grin on his face as he towered over her; John sat in the chair, a silent sentinel. The Beauty was fidgeting with a tube taped to Dean's face. She noticed him watching her and gave him a smile and a wink.

"We're gonna get this fever down, my pretty," she said, lowering the bed so that Dean's head was well below his legs. She turned him on his side and began rubbing and tapping his back. "I need you to cough for me. Can you do that?"

Dean couldn't get enough air to speak let alone cough. He tried, but nothing came out.

Come on, Dean. Sam challenged him. I know you're tired, but can you do it for me, please? Come on, dude. Cough. Dean did it but only because Sam asked. Pain erupted in his chest and belly.

"There we go," the Busty Asian Beauty said. She continued to rub and pat his back. "One more," she said, but Dean couldn't work up enough breath to tell her to fuck off let alone cough. "One more, Dean," she demanded again.

John sat up and bent toward his son. What's one more little cough? Come on, son. You're Dean Winchester. Fight it, son.

You're not going to wuss out, are you? Sam folded his arms and gave him a smirky bitchface. Dean feebly raised his middle finger and coughed.

The Busty Asian patted and resettled him. "You just keep fighting, you hear me? We're going to get this under control," she said, stripping the blankets off of him and giving him an encouraging smile.

The next time he saw her, she wasn't smiling anymore. She was in earnest discussion with some other people gathered round his bed. "103.7," she said with a tight lip. "Let's start an IV of Telithromycin and get a cooling blanket—anterior placement, please." As she gave her orders, the others nodded and moved to do as she'd bidden.

He turned to Sam. "Waaaaaas h'ppnin'?" he asked.

Sam shook his head. I dunno, he admitted, looking worried. Just let them do their thing, Dean. Go to sleep, big brother. Dad and I are on watch.

"K, Sammy," Dean nodded and closed his eyes and let Sam handle the doctors. He couldn't keep his eyes open any more.

When he woke up, everyone was gone except for Sam. He'd drawn a chair close and the gigantor had his huge mitt cupped over Dean's smaller hand. Dean saw big girly tears in his brother's eyes. Don't do this to me, Dean. I can't do this. S'all wrong. S'all fucked up, and I can't do this on my own. Stay with me. The Grand Canyon is beautiful in May. Don't go. Dad's got a job lined up. I need you to watch my back. Please don't go, dude.

"N'goin'," Dean promised. "Tired. Col'. M'really col', Sammy."

Sam set his hand on Dean's head, and the young hunter leaned into the touch—chick-flick moment be damned.

I know you're cold. Looks like it's gonna snow. You get some rest, and I'll be right here when you wake up.

"Promise?" Dean said weakly.

Cross my heart.

Dean nodded and let go, feeling safe and whole as his thoughts melted away.

**ॐ**

The next time he cracked his lids, the near imperceptible hum of medical hardware was all that broke the silence. Dean glanced to his left and then to his right. The chair that Sam and his dad had been sitting in was in the corner, empty. Neither was anywhere to be seen.

Dean must have closed his eyes again, because the short, Asian woman in the white lab coat he'd seen off and on was there, bending over him and shining a light in his eyes. Her hair was tousled and she looked like she'd worked a double-shift, but she laughed when he swore and tried to knock her hand away.

"Now, that's more like it, Slugger. Welcome back." She patted him. "Fever's coming down nicely. Antibiotics—" She shrugged and blinked as though surprised. "Who knew?" She gave him a warm smile. Dean tried to move and stretch, but a hot flash of agony stopped him and he gasped.

"Naaanghnugh…"

"Whoops," the doctor said, resettling him. "One step at a time, there." She grabbed his hand away as he lurched up and tried to pull the drain tube from his nose. "Nope," she gripped his hand. "That's a keeper. Leave it alone. You're still a hot mess," she said covering him. "Fever's down, now let's tackle the pain." She gave the syringe in her hand a wiggle.

"Wassat?" Dean asked, suspicious.

"It's the good stuff. See you in the morning, Dean," she said with a grin. He tried to stop her, but his words were slow, his movements even slower.

"Nahhhnn." He grabbed for her hand and missed. She palmed his shoulder to keep him from moving. He gave her a frustrated, pained look. "Saaaam?"

She stopped what she was doing with the syringe and looked at him. "What's that, Dean?"

Dean took his time to form the words. "Where's S—Sssaam an' m'dad?"

She furrowed her brow and bent close. "Who's Sam, Scrapper? Do you want us to call someone for you? Your uncle's been in contact with us. He's in Florida, but he said he'd come just as soon as he could."

Dean let out a huff, pulling down the oxygen mask. "Nuh m'uncle. Wan' m'dad an' brother. Where're they? They wuh—they were jus' here a li'l while ago."

The woman shook her head with empathy and concern. "I haven't seen anyone, Dean. You haven't had any visitors yet," she said, replacing the mask.

"Nuh…" Dean insisted, confused. "They were here. I saw ‘em."

"You've been sporting a very high fever. You were talking up a storm of nonsense for a while." She quirked her eyebrow. "It's true," she said in response to his incredulous look. "And just so we're clear, I have never done any porn, despite your insistence. Busty Asian Beauty? Really, Dean?" She shook her head and glanced down at her chest. "Well, two out'a three ain't bad, I suppose." She snorted and twirled the syringe in her fingers again. "Let's get you comfortable, and I promise to dish out all the embarrassing tidbits tomorrow. Trust me, I won't spare a single detail. You have my word on that." She winked at him and smoothed his brow. "Do you want me to try and call your brother?"

"Nnnuhh…no," he said. "Y'sure he was'n' here?"

"I'm pretty sure." She looked over at a nurse who was checking a patient in the next bed. Dean watched the women exchange glances and saw the nurse shake her head no. "Maybe we can call him tomorrow," she offered. "Here, let's get you comfy." She reached for the IV catheter.

"Don' wannit," Dean protested with a spent breath, but the woman had already emptied the vial into the IV port. He tried to tell her what he thought of that, but he didn't have the lung-power to form the words. Everything became beautiful and perfectly perfect after that. The doctor gave him a small wave.

"See ya, Slugger. You're going to start to feel better soon. I promise."

**ॐ**

Dean continued to brood, staring at the empty chair in the corner. He was now lucid enough to separate delirium images from reality, despite how fragmented his memories of both were. He tried to turn enough so that he wouldn't have to look at it anymore, but all the attached tubing, wiring, poles and padding made it impossible. He let out a spiritless sigh and shut his eyes. It was the only defense he had.

"Is that any way to greet a lady?" a voice said. Dean opened his eyes as the doctor walked through the glass doors of the ICU, flipping through her cellphone a moment before dropping it into the pocket of her lab coat. He lifted his finger in acknowledgement. He had no energy, breath or desire for anything more than that.

"Hey, Slugger. How are you feeling?" She waited for a response. None came. "Are you in pain?" she asked. Her hand was on his shoulder, stroking it. He shook his head no, lying—hoping she'd go away so he could find an escape in sleep. "Do you know where you are?"

He eyed the room and sighed again. He was going to have to give her something. He cleared his sore throat. "Club Med," he rasped through the oxygen mask. The word came out jagged and cracked, and the doctor had to come within inches of his face to hear him. He swallowed dryly and turned his head away from her, grimacing as he worked his leathery tongue around his mouth to try and stimulate his saliva glands. The woman moved his oxygen mask to the side, dipped a small sponge on a stick into some water and brought it to his lips.

"Here, this will help to wet your whistle." She swirled it around his mouth and tongue. Picking up a cup from the tray, she scooped out some ice-chips and fed him a small spoonful. "You've slept through most of the fun. You're at St. Joseph's hospital in Bellingham. Do you know what happened to you?"

"Don' ‘member," he said, staring at her with lifeless eyes. He did, of course; he just didn't give enough of a shit to talk about it. He wanted her to finish up and leave already, but she continued to peer at him, lifting his eyelids.

"What's the last thing you remember?"

Dean blew out a feeble breath. She was persistent. "Fell," he said. She smiled, satisfied.

"I hear it was an epic battle—you against some rotting floorboards. The floor won, by the way. Don't feel bad, though…that floor had been spoiling for that fight for more than a century." Despite her light tone, Dean could tell she was making calculations and evaluations as she watched his responses.

"Had an off day. Sucker-punched me." He gave a humorless shrug.

"I'll say." Pulling the chair from the corner, she sat. "All right. I'm going to go through your list of woes. You ready?" Dean nodded. "You've got a moderate concussion and two cracked ribs…"

"S'nothin'," he wheezed. "Had worse." Just the same, he felt like he'd been bulldozed and left to bake in the sun for a week.

"Yeah, well, you didn't let me get to the juicy part," she continued with a quirk of her eyebrow, but she immediately checked herself and leveled him with a serious, compassionate eye. "The fall ruptured your spleen. We had to perform surgery. Lucky for you, we were able to repair the damage without removing the organ. Nice things to keep, spleens. Everyone should have one. Yours is on the mend. Help didn't arrive until several hours after your fall, so things were a bit dicey for a while. Your blood pressure was dangerously low. You were in shock. And the internal bleeding had been going on all that time. We suctioned over 50% of your total blood volume from your abdominal cavity. We were able to perform an autotransfusion and recycle it right back, so you only had to receive an extra two units, and that was due to the surgery itself." She studied Dean. "You with me so far?"

"Yeah," he said and worked up enough air for a longer question. "How long have I been here?"

"You were brought in during the wee hours on Monday morning. It's now nine a.m. Wednesday," she said glancing at her watch. "You'd have joined us a little earlier, but you got to experience the joy of atelectasis." Dean furrowed his brows.

"Wassat?"

"Just a fancy way of saying that your lungs are having some post-op fun. That's why you're having difficulty getting your breath. It's a fairly common complication for abdominal surgical patients, but your fever spiked at the same time, so infection was starting to set in. You don't seem to do anything by halves, do you?" Dean let out a breathless snort at that. "You had us concerned for a while. But antibiotics have the upper hand at the moment. Tomorrow if you're a good boy, I'll give you some toys to play with that will help get your lungs functioning properly. You'll also shorten your recovery time if you cough a lot. I know that's going to hurt like hell with your sore ribs and incision sites, but you'll thank me later. We'll keep a careful eye on things. Atelectasis can become chronic if not treated in time; it's one of those perks of being in a hospital environment."

"Anythin' perm'nant?" Dean asked.

"You're young and healthy, and you got to keep your spleen. So, you should make a complete recovery," the doctor said with a smile.

Dean closed his eyes and gave her a slow nod. "S'good." He was already fatiguing. "So whe' m'I gonna be good t'go?" he asked.

The doctor laughed at that. "Well, let's see, there's the concussion. We're monitoring that. Be checking you for signs of bleeding, nausea, mood-swings—that could make things really interesting over the next week or so. Also, quit trying to hit the nurses, would ya?" she tapped his leg and mock scolded him. "Your pupil dilation is normal now, so that's an excellent sign. The cracked ribs? Well, they're going to have to heal on their own. We'll manage your pain, and I'll nag you incessantly about taking deep breaths despite what will undoubtedly be your unmitigated dedication to not do what I tell you."

"Soun's like fuhhhn," Dean exhaled the words, running out of steam at the end.

"Oh, it's gonna be a regular hootenanny," she agreed. "And then we have the ever-so-enjoyable recovery from the Splenorrhaphy."

"Splnn'wha'?" Dean asked.

"Means patch-job," the doctor said, getting up and tipping another spoonful of ice-chips into his mouth. "We were able to go in laparoscopically, so that will shorten your healing time. Lucky for you the damage to your spleen wasn't worse. Still, you came in with an impressive Grade 3 hematoma."

"Pssfft," Dean couldn't help but smile despite himself. "M'a 9—9 ½ easy."

The doctor rolled her eyes. "The scale only goes to 5, hot-stuff. And you wouldn't have a spleen anymore if you'd been a 5."

"So'm…" Dean took a breath. "…jus' average?"

"Well don't feel so bad. A 3 earned you 7-10 days at Club Med, 14 days of green jello and vanilla pudding. All told you're looking at about six-weeks for a full recovery. Oh, and one of us will have to be right there with you when you poop for the first time."

Dean's eyes bugged. "Tha's never gonna happ'n," he assured her, terror in his eyes.

The doctor bridged her fingers and gave them a maniacal, gleeful wiggle. "Oh, but it will," she gloated. "So, see? Who needs a Grade 5 when you get to have all this fun and keep your spleen for a mere 3? It's a bargain, I tell you."

Dean was losing his concentration. His pain was starting to overtake him and it was hard to talk with no air or spit to work with. Still, he appreciated the doctor's attempts to cheer him. "Thanks for that doc—doctor…" he hesitated.

"Hickey," she said. "Dr. Hickey." She held up her hand as his mouth flopped open. "Not a word." She glared at him. "Not a single, solitary word," she snorted with a hint of a smile. "Not my fault. I married that name."

Dean wanted to laugh but couldn't. "Your faul'…" he took a shallow breath. "…for takin' it."

She shrugged and re-situated his oxygen mask. "You don't know what my maiden name was. Trust me. This is an upgrade. But you can call me Mei. That's my first name." She showed him her nametag.

He squinted, reading the name. "Okay, Dr. Mei," he said.

"It's pronounced may not my," she laughed, correcting him. Reaching out and patting his leg, she noticed him flinch again. "How's the pain?"

Dean didn't answer. He held up three fingers. Mei didn't buy it.

"Bull. You're worse than The Black Knight, you know that?" She tapped his other hand, a tight, balled fist. "Judging from the clenched hand, the sweat and the crinkled brow, I'm thinkin' an 8 or a 9. Which is it?"

Dean closed his eyes. He was in too much pain to keep up appearances. He flashed five fingers, then three.

Dr. Mei nodded and readied a syringe. “We’ll get you some quality rest tonight.  Tomorrow will be a big day.  We’ll move you into a room with a view—the parking lot is beautiful this time of year, I hear—give you some TV to watch, pop out your catheter and maybe even get you on your feet.  It doesn’t sound like much, but you’ll love it.  Trust me. Your lungs will love it even more." Dr. Mei emptied the syringe into his IV as she sang to him. "Helping everyone in need, no one can succeed like…me." She laughed. "Sleep tight Dean."

"Okay, Ringo. Weirdo," he puffed, drowsy.

"Hey, I'm the weirdo that was voted Miss Congeniality in the Busty Asian Beauty Pageant. I made them D-cups weep with envy," she boasted.

Dean rolled his eyes and gave her a drugged, sheepish grin.

"Yep, that's right. There's no living it down. I'll get as much mileage out of it as I can," she told him.

Dean crooked his finger beckoning her close. "Wha' was yer maiden name?" Dean whispered.

Mei threw her head back and laughed. "You get some rest, and if you do as I say for the next week, I'll tell you."

"N'gonna be here a week," he said as sleep claimed him.

"Oh, you'll be here," Mei said. "Unless you wanna be wearing me like a starfish, clinging to your leg as you try and make your escape."

**ॐ**

"I'm not using that thing again," Dean wheezed, glaring at the incentive-spirometer. As promised, he'd been moved from the ICU early that morning, and Dr. Mei had shown up a couple of hours later to torture him. He was sweating and exhausted. "No friggin' way. Damn thing looks like a breast-pump!"

Dr. Mei did a triple-take. "You obviously have no clue whatsoever what a breast pump looks like."

"I've seen Oprah," Dean admitted with another husky breath. "You can take that evil thing back to whatever hell you got it from."

The doctor set the spirometer on his bedside table with a thump. "It wasn't that bad, was it? You need to repeat this once an hour," she said without her normal humor. "I'm serious, Dean. Your lungs are extremely vulnerable right now." She moved a pillow to his belly and some pressure. "Cough," she instructed.

"No," Dean refused. "M'tired. Hurts."

"Have you always been such a baby-whiner-face?" She challenged him. Her eyes swept over his body. "You seem pretty fit to me. Surely you're familiar with the saying no pain…no gain, right? Now cough, Dean." The young hunter braced himself and coughed. He clutched at the small woman, his eyes bulging with agony.

"Ffffuuuuuggginnn sohhhnnnabbbisshh," he gasped. "Gonna sign m'self out. Gemme AMA papers righhhh' now!" he demanded as he heaved and wheezed. Dr. Mei rubbed his back and waited for him to catch his breath.

"The more you do it, the easier it's gonna get. I promise," she said, but Dean shook his head. She continued to rub and pat his back. "But no more for now. You're done."

"S'righhhh, ‘cause hhhhhI'm leavin'," he panted and moved to get out of bed. He wound up listing into Mei's arms until his head rested against her shoulder and his eyelids fluttered shut.

"Sure thing, Slugger," she said as she shifted him back against the pillows and lowered the bed. "How about a little nap first?" She wound the oxygen cannula around his head, situating it under his nose. Making sure his nasogastric tube was undisturbed and taped to his cheek, she pulled up the covers.

"Jusssahh quicky," Dean agreed as his eyes closed.

**ॐ**

The next day found Dean hobbling to the other end of the room and back with Dr. Mei's arm around his waist. He'd been relieved of the drainage tube and catheter; and though he walked hunched over like a 90-year old, a pillow pressed to his stomach and ribs, he was finally vertical.

"Nicely done," Mei praised him. "Now if I could only get you to do your spirometer exercises."

"Better to just get up and move around than to sit in bed and suck on a beast-pump," he said.

Mei shook her head. "Yer killin' me. It doesn't look anything like a breast pump. It's not even in the same genus, for cripes sake," she insisted. "You're like one of those crazy, fat headed dogs with strong jaws that never ever lets go once he latches onto something. You know that? Stubborn." She eased him down onto the bed and swung his legs onto the bed.

"Yeah, I know," he said, relaxing into his pillow with a sigh. "But you love me, anyway, Dr. Mei."

Mei snorted. "Do not. And I told you, my name's pronounced mayyy, like a little may flower not myyy."

"Not what your nametag says. An' you do love me—admit it. S'why you come roun' so much. Do you ever go home? Can' beat y'off with a stick." He grinned.

"What can I say? I'm a workaholic." She waved her left hand in front of his face. "Not to mention, see the ring, stud? Hello?...married—to a big, red-headed Irish-man, no less. We're a real pair. Six years now. Besides, my husband's an investigative journalist, emphasis on investigative," she boasted. "I think I need to stay on the straight and narrow."

"Investigative?" Dean said, fingering his admittance bracelet. Dean Simmons, he read the name. He hoped that Mr. Simmons' insurance card was good. "I guess I better keep my nose clean then," he said with an awkward smile.

"Not to fear, Sparky. He won't be defending my honor for the next little while." She tucked in his blankets and lifted the safety bar on the bed. "He's busy working a job at the commune right now."

"Commune? They still have those? What is it with this town? Place is seriously stuck in the 60's."

Mei laughed. "Well, these are more or less just harmless environmentalists—or were. They own a stretch of land about thirty minutes outside of town, near the south fork of the Nooksack River. They farm and sell their goods at the local farmer's market. Very strange happenings going on there lately, though."

Dean's antennae twitched. "Strange? Strange how?"

She shrugged. "I don't really know for sure. Their new leader is very…" she searched for the word. "He's quite charismatic, I hear. He's been gaining a lot of new devotees, and not just transient kids or burnt out counter-culture types, either. The group's been attracting professionals, lawyers, teachers, businessmen; pretty much anyone who's gone out there for whatever reason has chosen to stay. They call themselves The Kindred. Anyway, they've started openly recruiting. Families of the new members are freaking out—trying to get the authorities involved because their loved ones have cut all ties and moved to the river-farm practically overnight, but there isn't anything the police can do. These people are adults. My husband, Jason, is working on an exposé, talking with family members, filming the group's practices and activities and interviewing their leader."

"Aren't you worried he might join, too?" Dean asked.

"Me? No," Mei said, confident. She situated the oxygen cannula on Dean's face. "Jason is as grounded and level-headed as anyone I've ever met. He's not into any type of religion. He's a secular humanist. Not even remotely the swayable type." She plumped a pillow and set it behind Dean's back. "Though, I've seen some of the members down in Fairhaven…that's our local artists' district…handing out flyers and trying to talk people into coming to their compound for teaching and fellowship. They're kind of creepy. I'm not going to lie. They all wear these very plain Nehru-type tunics and cotton pants—very bizarre. Least they don't shave their heads like the Hare Krishnas. But the last thing this city needs is some crazy Heaven's Gate type of situation."

"This is such a weird place," Dean said, trying to draw a steady breath. "Stuck in a time-warp. A rainy time-warp."

Mei chuckled. "You just don't even know what you're saying. This place is paradise. Spend the month of August in the Pacific Northwest and it will own your soul forever. Anyway, Jason's been at the river-farm for the past couple of weeks researching, observing and filming. He's been calling me with updates, so I don't think he'll be around to expose you for the inappropriate flirt that you are."

"I'm not th'flirt. You're th'flirt," he contended.

"You're the flirt. I'm a doctor. Got a parchment with a gold seal on it and everything," Mei defended herself with a playful huff.

"Doctors don' normally snuggle with their patients while they walk ‘em around," Dean said, breathless.

"Hah," Mei scoffed. "I was keeping you from kissing the floor, I'll have you know. Flirting my eye," she twitted as she poured him a cup of ice-chips and set it on his bedside tray.

"Psshh." Dean tried to find a comfortable position in the bed. "So, what was your maiden name?" he teased.

She laughed. "If I tell you will you promise to use your spirometer?"

"Cross my heart and hope to die."

"Don't even say that, Slugger." She tapped him.

"So…?" Dean prompted.

The doctor sighed and hung her head. "It's Kok. My name is Mei Kok," she said. "And that's spelled K—O—K, gutter-brain. See, my parents…they're old-world Chinese. They didn't speak a word of English when they came to this country. They still barely comprehend the language as it…" She stopped, seeing Dean shaking and turning bright red.

"Pillow!" he gasped. Mei brought the pillow to his belly, and Dean hugged it to him, straining and struggling for breath.

"Are you okay? Dean?" She reached for his hand, taking his pulse. "Talk to me, Dean," she said. Dean shook and quivered for half a minute before meeting her eye, composing himself.

"Your full name is Mei Kok-Hickey…" he finally said twitching, putting everything he had into avoiding the misery that laughing would bring.

"God, I hate you so much right now," she said shaking her head. "And, for the third time, my first name is pronounced mayyyy not myyyy. The level of your smartass-ish-ness never fails to astound."

"Smartass-ish-ness?"

She folded her arms. "Oh, shut up and suck on your breast pump." She grabbed the spirometer and handed it to him. Her face was sour, but there was a twinkle in her eye. "I have the rest of my rounds to make. Oh, before I go," she said, shifting gears and digging in the pocket of her lab-coat. "Here. Mr. Conner from the Whatcom County Parks Department dropped these off at the nurses' station. He came by while you were sleeping and didn't want to disturb you." She handed Dean his car keys and phone. "He said he parked the car in the main lot. Said you had a great ride, by the way. He found your phone in the basement after your accident, apparently. Wanted me to pass it, and his thanks, along for your help. He said their little problem had completely cleared up, and he promised to drop by when you're feeling better. Also wanted me to tell you how sorry he was for what happened." She moved toward the door. "What were you doing for the parks department, anyway?" she asked.

"Uh, I was checking for termites. My family is in the extermination business." He changed the subject. "Do you know where the rest of my things are? My clothes and shoes?"

"Your shoes and socks are in there," she said pointing to a small closet. "I think your watch and little charm are in the drawer. Your clothes are no good, now," she explained. "We had to cut them off of you. Sorry. We'll get one of the volunteers to round some things up for you when the time comes."

"I have some spare clothes in my car," he said. Mei nodded.

"We'll get a volunteer to grab them for you." She watched as Dean opened his phone. She shook her head. "You can't use cell phones in the hospital," she said. "Messes with the equipment. You can make calls on your bedside phone."

"I won't make any calls on it. I promise. I just need to get some numbers off of it so that I can call my family. I don't have their numbers memorized."

"All right," she said, eyeing him with suspicion. "Don't try any funny business, now."

"I won't. Bedside phone. Got it. Thanks, Dr. Mei," Dean said as she turned to go.

"You want the door open or closed?" she asked.

"Closed, thanks," Dean said, studying the cell phone and scrolling through his missed calls.

"See you tomorrow. Remember the spirometer. You promised," she said.

"Yeah, yeah," he said, distracted. His face suddenly fell, and he glanced up at the doctor as she turned to leave. "Mei, has anyone beside my uncle called the hospital about me?"

"Not that I know of, Dean. Do you want me to call someone for you?"

"N—no," he said flatly, turning his attention back to the phone.

"Everything all right?" Mei asked.

"Yeah," Dean said, distant. "Everything's fine. See you later, Mei."

"Yep," she said, pulling the door shut behind her.

In the dim room, Dean scrolled through his missed calls over and over again. Six calls, starting the night of the accident. Each and every one of them from Bobby. Nothing from his Dad. Nothing from Sam. Dean scrolled up and down the list, unable to believe what the display told him. He didn't remember a lot about that night, but he remembered the calls to Sam. He particularly remembered the last one he'd made, telling Sam how bad off he was—begging him to call.

The small boost to his spirits that had taken days and all of Mei's efforts to achieve evaporated in an instant. Dean set the phone on the bedside table, rolled over, and stared at the wall in front of him.

Continue to Chapter 3

 
 
 
iceskaterrniceskaterrn on September 9th, 2013 02:27 am (UTC)
Poor abandoned Dean. I kinda like to beat up John and Sam right now.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 9th, 2013 04:15 am (UTC)
It does kind of make you want to wring a couple of necks, doesn't it? And yet, I can't be TOO hard on them. I'm sure they both thought what the audience thought (at first)...that Dean was drunk dialing them. Remember, Sam never got the last phone call, since Dean was simply too out of it to press the right numbers or to know that he wasn't even connected to anything.

Still, it sucks that Dean is alone at all. He's not made for being isolated from his family and both Sam and John should know that.
jpgr: SPN Dean & Sam stargazingjpgr on September 9th, 2013 03:12 am (UTC)
I don't know if I ever mentioned in all the notes that I just love Mei. She is a great character. :)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 9th, 2013 04:17 am (UTC)
Aw, thanks! She has a very good bedside manner, and she can see right through Dean most of the time. I like that in her. She's a lot of fun to write!

/hugs
i dream of colors that have never been seenetoile444 on September 9th, 2013 09:10 am (UTC)
This is great. I really like the voice of the characters. The details and the pacing are excellent. And you've teased the bigger story nicely with the doctor casually talking about her husbands work. AND, you even got in busty asian beauties!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 9th, 2013 05:52 pm (UTC)
Hah! Yes...couldn't help but play with busty asian beauties. It was too much fun.

Thank you so much for the kind words. Yes! The little side-story of her husband's investigation does set off buzzers and whistles, doesn't it? Not good...especially when Dean is not thinking particularly clearly. Not good for him...but hopefully good for the readers. ;) Mwaha. Heh.
arlissarliss on September 9th, 2013 04:51 pm (UTC)
The level of detail in this is wonderful. I know Bellingham well, so I'm grinning ear to ear, and have this irrepressible urge to run by St. Joe's and check their patient roster...

Dr. Mei is my new hero, you know. She's a solid, realistic character, and Dean's lucky to have her for his doctor. Can't wait for the next installation.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 9th, 2013 05:57 pm (UTC)
Awww! Whee! I am so glad the story has the extra "local" flavor for you. I grew up in Bellingham (graduated from Sehome High!), so I just could NOT resist setting a story in my home town. I live in Kentucky now (married a Louisville man...hehe), but my heart still resides in the high pines of the Pacific Northwest. I wanted Dean to play in my old stomping grounds. :) I try to visit ever couple of years (I still have family there), but it's never enough.

Thank you so much for your encouraging words about Mei! I like her, too. She kind of wrote herself...little firecracker. I would love for her to be my doctor, too. Hee. But I'll let Dean have her. He's going to need that support and understanding...so it's all good.

Thanks again! Reading your comment made ME smile. high-fives for us Bellinghamsters! :)
monetgrean on September 9th, 2013 05:00 pm (UTC)
Awesome hurt comfort. I just want to make everything better for Dean. Love your OC Doc. Love Bobby, thank god for Bobby. Thanks for the great read.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 9th, 2013 06:01 pm (UTC)
Hiya grean! Thanks so much. I'm so glad Mei is working for you. I love characters who just kind of plop themselves onto the page pretty much fully formed. Saves me a lot of work. ;)

Bobby is a saint, isn't he? I know Dean loves him like family, but I know Dean wants his "blood" to be there for him, too. It sucks. Of course, we all know the dire straights Dean was in when he made those phone calls, but I'm sure they sounded like drunk ramblings to Sam and John. It's a hard thing either way.

Thanks for your incredibly generous comment. I appreciate it so!

Kat
lidia1991_anlidia1991_an on September 9th, 2013 06:34 pm (UTC)

Great work!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 9th, 2013 09:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! You put a goofy smile on my face. :)
deangirl1deangirl1 on September 9th, 2013 08:24 pm (UTC)
I knew the poor boy was hallucinating John and Sam. Dicks... Hope Bobby makes it there... but I'm not betting on it...
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 9th, 2013 09:20 pm (UTC)
Heya sweets!

Aw, yeah...bummer about John and Sam. But in their defense...Dean probably did sound like he was drunk-dialing. Still...he needs his family so desperately...it's so sad that his psyche had to basically "create" them in order to get what he needed at the time.

But then again...if Dean got exactly what he needed from his family...then I wouldn't have much of a story to tell. :) LOL. It's all part of my dastardly master-plan. /twitches mustache.
chokouseichokousei on September 10th, 2013 01:13 am (UTC)
Mei -Kok -Hickey
The name itself is hilarious. And poor Dean, longing for his family and Bobby really is one of histtrue family member without the blood. I sense another case coming , hope Dean can save Mr. Hickey in time.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 10th, 2013 02:42 am (UTC)
Re: Mei -Kok -Hickey
Hah...that whole name-business occurred because I wanted a surname for Mei that meant "healer". Imagine my face when the only name I could find that meant "healer" was "HICKEY". Hickey? Seriously? LOL. So I was thinking...how am I gonna sell this name? Heh. And it all went downhill from there..../snort! ;)

I think your senses are right on the money. ;) Oh Dean...
mdlawmdlaw on September 10th, 2013 01:27 am (UTC)
It's what I expect from John, but Sammy....why...... m. :)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 10th, 2013 02:47 am (UTC)
Hiyas mdlaw! :)

Aww...I think I can somewhat understand Sam's thinking here. Well, for one, it's very important to remember that Dean's final call to him (the one where he begged Sam to call back and really opened up) did NOT go through. Sam never got that call. So all Sam got were the very drunk-sounding ramblings.

And we have to remember where Sam is in his life at this moment. He's 19 years old. He's on his own for the first time in his life. He doesn't want to open himself to the hunting world. We know he loves Dean, but right now...he's being a little selfish because this is his ONE chance to get out of the life. It's just too hard to constantly have contact with Dean...it's harder to separate and not worry about him constantly. At least...this is my thinking. We know in canon that Sam did not answer Dean's calls and did not have contact with his family during this time. So if he got a call from Dean that was nothing more than a "drunk-dial", it's not too far fetched that Sam would not call back. I can understand Sam's not calling back a lot more than I can John's. :)

(Anonymous) on September 10th, 2013 01:38 am (UTC)
awesome
"Your full name is Mei Kok-Hickey…" he finally said twitching, putting everything he had into avoiding the misery that laughing would bring.

-Priceless. Thanks. I *really* needed a laugh today and after Chapter 1 didn't think I'd find it here :) Thank you too for Dust Devils. Easily one of the best works of fan fiction I've read--and I'm into the 3,000+ range now...
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 10th, 2013 02:49 am (UTC)
Re: awesome
Tee! Poor Mei and her face-palm-worthy surnames. Poor thing. At least she seems to take it in stride. I think she would have to. LOL.

Gosh, thanks SO much for your kind words for Dust Devils. That story has never quite left my heart, so I'm thrilled that you enjoyed it. That means so much more to me than you will ever know. :)
Re: awesome - (Anonymous) on September 11th, 2013 02:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: awesome - sharlot1926 on September 11th, 2013 03:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
stazzijenstazzijen on September 10th, 2013 06:43 pm (UTC)
Poor Dean. I can feel his pain.

A great chapter

I think you captured his physical and emotional pain so well. Can I take him home? He doesn't need Sam or John just a good dose of motherly love. Give him to me I'll take care of him.

Thanks Kat...well and truly into this story. Roll on Thursday

love Jen xxx
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 10th, 2013 09:41 pm (UTC)
I think it's only fair if we BOTH take him home. I'm sure between both of our enthusiastic efforts, we could restore him to health and happiness! Amirite or amirite?! ;) You with me?

Thanks so much for the sweet comment, Jen. I'm glad you liked this one. See you Thursday. :)

Kat
aerynsun5: Despairing!Deanaerynsun5 on September 11th, 2013 03:24 am (UTC)
I'm finding this so interesting. You've done a great job with Mei; sometimes original characters seem flat and like and afterthought, but she was very real to me. Can't wait for the next installment. Really. I can't wait.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 11th, 2013 04:05 am (UTC)
Thanks so much aeyrnsun! It definitely a balancing act with OC's. You don't want them so strong that they overpower the characters that people are reading the story for (the Winchesters). On the other hand, you don't want your OC's to be so flat that they are nothing more than window dressing. Hopefully Mei is somewhere in between those two extremes!

Next chapter will be out on Thursday...or, well,...actually my husband loads the stories on Wednesday night for me...so technically the story is viewable the night before I link them to the communities. So there's always that little trick. Heh.

Thanks again!

Kat
maguiemaguie on October 9th, 2013 07:33 am (UTC)
:( ,, No Sam and no Dad? :(

not even a call?! Oh poor Dean!

well maybe Sam has his phone turned off,,
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 9th, 2013 12:59 pm (UTC)
Poor Dean will be all alone on this one...or at least that's what he believes...


/snuffle!

Kat
JJ1564jj1564 on October 11th, 2013 11:25 pm (UTC)
Poor Dean, I think his various nasty physical wounds will heal faster than his emotional ones. This chapter made me laugh & I love the interactions between Dean & Mei, but then it ended so sad....
'Nothing from his Dad. Nothing from Sam. Dean scrolled up and down the list, unable to believe what the display told him.'
Loved it! Thanks
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 12th, 2013 12:03 am (UTC)
Heya jj,

Dean takes as many emotional knocks as he does physical ones in this story...that's a certainty. Double-hurty!Dean. /snuffles

Oh yes, Mei and Dean have a unique rapport. She's a good egg. I like her heaps.

Thanks again!

Kat
serendip50: dean lying face downserendip50 on October 18th, 2013 12:09 am (UTC)
I'm addicted to reading hurt!disillusioned!vulnerable!Dean stories and this is looking like it will deliver on all counts and probably more.

The conversation between Mei and Dean was hilarious and offered an entertaining and informative introduction to her character and her husband. I can see how Mei's revelation about her husband's involvement with the mysterious cult is setting the spools of Dean's less than clear brain working overtime.

Mei obviously has a soft spot for Dean which is telling in their interaction and I'm sure the fondness is reciprocated....though I'm positive it won't stop Dean from absconding given half the chance:).

Looking forward to the next chapter.

I've started reading 'While Angels Watched' on my Kindle and have nearly come to the end. I'm curious to know how everything turns out and if Sam is right about Dean being poisoned or if it is just an unexpected and terrible illness.
So far it's been a rollercoaster ride of heart-clenching sorrow inter-spaced with humour, charm and loads of pain and discomfort...which btw is my pill of choice where Dean is concerned:).
The Grand Canyon revelation broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes.
Dean being 'magnificent' and not even knowing it....perfection.
I like that Dean has an almost unsurpassed charm and inner beauty, a kind of innocent vulnerability that infects all those around him with love. He certainly deserves it!
The whole text is very both moving and compelling.
I will be sad to come to the end.






sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 18th, 2013 01:57 am (UTC)
Aw, thanks so much. I'm so glad you like Mei. She's so much fun...and such a good egg, really. Dean needs someone like her right about now, doesn't he?

Oh, serendip, thank you SO much for your kind words for "While Angels Watched". I really wanted to make it a point that people were drawn to Dean...that it was the beauty and strength of his soul that made people fight for him. Dean has the ability to melt the hearts of cranky nurses, busy doctors and infuriatingly obedient angels. ;)

I'm so glad you liked the story, and thank you so very, very much for letting me know. That is wonderful to hear.

/hugs

Kat