Six months later
Oakhill Cemetery
Minneapolis, MN


Sam jerked at Dean's exclamation, which was riddled with equal amounts of pain and anger. He nearly lost his footing, then ended up on the muddy ground anyway when he dodged the attacking troll. What hampered them both at this point was that they were actually up against something like this. Since all the gates to Hell had been sealed off, there hadn't been any demonic activity. But that didn't stop all the other crap from crawling out from under whatever rocks they had been hiding under and this thing had been terrorizing the outskirts of Minneapolis for the past six months.

The rain pelting the ground blinded Sam temporarily, but he could feel the vibrations of the troll's renewed approach. This thing was big and it was heavy and it made no secret of its body mass as it thundered toward him on feet that were easily twice as long and three times as wide as his while it towered over him by a full head. "DEAN!" he yelled and scrambled backward to get out of the troll's trajectory. There were only two things in his favor right now. Trolls were obviously living up to their reputation of being dim-witted and due to its body mass and the speed with which it barreled toward him, it had a hard time stopping and gave him ample opportunity to get out of the way.

His brother turned up out of the darkness and swung his machete left-handed at the approaching mass of muscle and bone and somehow managed to do exactly what he had intended, namely decapitate the beast. The massive trunk of a body hurdled on for another few steps, barely avoiding Sam, before it hit the ground, spewing green blood everywhere.

Sometimes, Sam still had issues with the fact that he no longer had his abilities. Dean, he knew, liked it better this way, but Sam missed the ability to ward off stuff like this with his mind. He still had a smidgen of it, could move small items with his mind and had a better feel for danger than ever before, but the majority of it was gone.

A little out of breath, Sam scrambled back to his feet and grimaced at the sodden feeling of his clothes. "Good job," he said and focused on Dean, who stood where he had stopped and stared down at the troll's head now lying in the mud.

"These things are so freaking stupid, they don't know they're dead," Dean countered aggressively.

The troll's mouth was still moving and so were the eyes. Sam made a face. "Let's just burn this thing and get out of here. I'm sopping wet and muddy and ..." He stopped short when his presently tired mind caught on to the one fact that shouldn't have eluded him in the first place. He eyed his brother, trying to see him clearly in the rain and the darkness. "Are you hurt?"

Dean turned his head and eyed him, rain water washing over his face in torrents. "This damned ... excuse for a fairytale gashed my hand," he said and held up his right hand. Blood was flowing freely from a ragged gash in his palm; a gash, Sam noted, that was so deep that it looked like one part of Dean's hand might fall off any minute.

"Holy crap, Dean. That's deep," he exclaimed and grabbed Dean's wrist while he used the flashlight to illuminate the tear. "This is beyond my ability to stitch up, man. We need to get you to the ER. As in right now."

"We don't bail on a job. Just wrap something around it and we'll go when we're done," Dean shot back and yanked his wrist out of Sam's hand.

"This isn't bailing on a job, man. You need to have that dealt with. You'll bleed out before we can finish up here," Sam insisted. "We can come back later."

Dean made a face and eyed his palm for a moment. "It does hurt like a bitch," he admitted reluctantly. "Let's put the head somewhere out of the way. And make sure the head doesn't get anywhere near the neck. We don't want this ... critter to come back to life."

Sam arched an eyebrow. "And ... while I do that ... what are you going to do?" he asked pointedly.

"Stand here and bleed. Get a move on, Sasquash," Dean shot back, annoyed.

Sam made a face, grabbed a handful of the troll's greasy hair and hoisted the still active head off the ground. He knew Dean's annoyance was covering the pain he felt and the lashing out was just part of that. He dumped the head in the middle of a bunch of bushes, then used a few branches and a lot of wilted leaves to cover the body as much as possible. It wouldn't fool a blind man if he stumbled in the right direction, but with the weather being what it was, Sam assumed nobody would be prowling around out here in the middle of the night. "Right, let's get out of here," he finally said and briefly wondered if he would ever be dry and warm again. Being tired on top of it didn't help much and he swore to himself that he was going to sleep the following day away.

"You are so not getting in the car in that getup," Dean warned him while eying his soggy and muddy clothes with obvious distaste.

Sam rolled his eyes. "What would you like me to do? Go commando?" he asked.

Dean grimaced. "That would actually be something I'd pay money to see," he said, then – obviously without thinking – tried to dig his injured hand into his right-hand pocket. "God dammit," he snapped and yanked it back out, then tried unsuccessfully to retrieve the car keys from his pocket with his left hand. "Shit. You got the spare?"

"Yes, I've got the spare," Sam agreed and dug his key out of one pocket. "Let's wrap something around your hand so you don't bleed all over your precious car."

"Get the tarp out of the trunk while you're at it. That way we don't mess up the upholstery," Dean growled.

"Upholstery," Sam muttered while he opened the trunk and dug out the first aid kit and the tarp. "What do you think this is? A couch?" he added under his breath and slammed the lid shut again. He spent a good two minutes spreading the tarp out over the front seats, then slipped behind the wheel and briefly wished he had thought about bringing dry clothes. "Get in," he called when Dean didn't follow suit.

Dean did, but he looked annoyed. Sam opened the first aid kit and eyed the sorry remains. It was time to refill it and soon. "Get a move on, geekboy. I'm bleeding to death here."

Sam glanced at Dean's still bleeding palm, then grabbed a gauze compress and a roll of gauze. "This isn't gonna help much," he said. "My hands are dirty and this is ..."

"Just get on with it, Sam," Dean pressed out and gripped his right wrist with his left hand.

One glance at his brother told Sam that this gash had to hurt a hell of a lot more than Dean let on. He was pale and his features were tight. He unpacked the compress and made sure he touched as little of the surface as possible before placing it gingerly on Dean's palm. The blood soaked through it immediately. "Shit," he muttered, then wrapped the gauze around it sloppily. "What's our cover story?"

Dean glanced at him while keeping his hand up to lessen the blood-pressure and thereby both the bleeding and the pain. "The way we look? Flat tire on a back road. Cut my hand on the jack or something," he said.

"Right," Sam agreed with a nod. "Closest hospital must be ... Mercy," he added, slid the key into the ignition and started the engine. Over the past months Dean had proven to be disaster prone and Sam had made it a habit to know where the closest hospital was before they headed out. "Why is it that every time we go up against something new, you always get hurt?"

"I do not always get hurt," Dean ground out. "Just get a move on, Samantha. I need drugs and lots of'em."

Sam pulled the Impala around on the narrow road and headed toward town. "Well, there's the second Wendigo we went up against right after the deal with Gaia. And then there was the ... what was that again? ... oh yeah, the werebear that nearly took your head off. And the poltergeist that threw you off the third floor landing. And ..."

"Enough, already. Could you concentrate on driving here?" Dean snapped. "I get the point, okay? And, for your information, I did so not see this one coming. The damn troll had a knife. I didn't know they used tools."

"They use tools and you know that," Sam countered evenly.

"How would I know that? Huh?" Dean sounded angry, pissed off even, and Sam figured it might not be such a good idea to rile him up right now. "We've never been up against a freaking troll before, man. And, furthermore – and yes, I know what furthermore means, I'm not a moron – I had no freaking clue trolls were even real. What's next? A freaking rabid unicorn? The Easter Bunny from Hell?"

"Calm down, dude," Sam tried. "I didn't mean anything by it, okay? I'm just worried because you ..." He stopped himself and decided not to take this any further. At least not until Dean had been given a shot for the pain. That should calm things down.

"Because I what? Huh?" Dean snapped.

"Chill, Dean. Please?" Sam tried. He knew that his tone right now added fuel to the fire. Dean hated it when he tried to be understanding. "We're almost there," he added and nodded toward the hospital down the street. He pulled the Impala into the parking lot and they both got out at the same time.

Dean made a face when he briefly lowered his hand. "Son of a bitch, that stings," he gritted out through clenched teeth.

"Stings?" Sam shook his head, closed the doors and locked the car, then followed Dean into the ER. "Nobody in their right mind would believe that a cut like that only stings," he nearly whispered. "Sit down before you fall down," he added and shoved Dean into a chair before turning to the counter and the gaggle of nurses behind it. "Hey. Uh ... my brother had an accident. He cut his hand pretty badly and it's bleeding all over the place," he said and nodded toward where Dean was sitting.

The nurse gave him the once over, obviously not very happy that he was wet and muddy and dripping on the floor, then handed him a clipboard and a pen. "Fill this in, please, and bring it back to me once you're done," she said. "We're a bit busy tonight, so it may take a while."

"Uh ... okay, but ... he's really bleeding badly," Sam tried.

The nurse glanced over at Dean, arched an eyebrow and sighed. "Just fill in the form please. We'll get to you as fast as we can," she said, her tone a tad clipped.

Sam took the clipboard and stopped himself from making a face while he thought 'Bitch'. He dropped down on the chair next to Dean while studying the form.

"If you weren't such a wimp, this cut could be fixed by now and we wouldn't have to spend the next ten hours waiting for some bonehead doctor to have time to see me," Dean hissed between clenched teeth.

Sam sighed. "First and foremost, Dean, we don't have the supplies. And there could be nerve damage. That's a deep cut and, in case you forgot, I'm not a freaking doctor, okay?" He generally never snapped at Dean, but he was tired and he was wet and muddy and the whole thing just annoyed him right now. He just wished they could stay somewhere more than a week, that they could find a place to go back to when they weren't hunting.

The silence from the other chair made him briefly glance at Dean, who was watching him with a slight frown creasing his brow. "Chill, dude," Dean muttered and settled for silence and the occasional hiss when he moved his hand.


Dean could easily admit that he hated waiting. He hated waiting even more when he was in pain and bleeding badly. Okay, so this could have been so much worse. He could have been ripped open from head to toe by this damned troll. The thought made him snort and grin crookedly.

"What?" Sam asked and gave him that look he knew so well.

"A damned troll," he said quietly and glanced around at the other people waiting for their turn. "We've been up against some weird shit in our time, but a troll?"

"You're delirious," Sam said, but not without a small smirk on his lips. Apparently, he could see the fun in this as well.

"Dean Winchester?"

Dean arched an eyebrow and looked up at the nurse who had suddenly appeared before him. There were a lot of hot women working in health care and here was another one. He eyed her appreciatively for a second, then gave her the best smile he could and rose. "That would be me," he said and held up his injured hand as proof.

"Come with me, please," she said, turned and headed toward the cubicles in the back.

Sam rose and followed them.

The nurse waved at the examination table. "Have a seat," she said with a smile on her lips. Her eyes were an amazing grey and she looked him straight in the eye, which activated Dean's immediate need to woo her.

"Thanks," he said and settled himself on the table.

The nurse pulled a stool over, which she sat down on, then took a gentle hold of his wrist with one hand while she used a pair of blunt-nosed scissors to cut through the bloodied gauze wrapped around his hand. "So, would you care to tell me what happened to your hand here?" she asked.

Dean smirked despite the pain from his hand. Every ounce of his being was currently aimed at impressing her. "Oh, stupid accident. Flat tire. We had to stop in the middle of nowhere to change it in the pouring rain. The jack slipped and I cut my palm. My brother here thinks I need stitches."

She peeled the gauze away from the cut and eyed it for a moment while blood kept quelling out of the wound. "I think your brother is right," she agreed and sent Sam a brief glance and a small smile, which he returned. "I'll need to clean that out. You want a shot for the pain?" she asked.

"Oh yeah, please," Dean said with a heartfelt sigh. It was no act that his hand hurt like hell.

"The doctor will be right in to take a look at it," the nurse said with a small smile. She released his wrist and got off the stool to ready a basin of water before she grabbed a syringe from a cabinet at the rear of the cubicle and filled it with what Dean assumed was a painkiller. "How long has it been since you got a tetanus shot?" she asked and turned back to face him.

The instant attraction wasn't something new or surprising, but there was more going on here than met the eye and Dean aimed at trying to pursue this. "Uh ... I don't know. Last year, I think. I should be good," he said and tried to dazzle her with his usual smile. All she did was arch an eyebrow, but there was a twinkle in her eyes that made him think he had struck gold.

She gave him an injection, which numbed his hand and made him feel less strained. Then she washed out the wound and finally dabbed it dry. "Just keep it elevated. I'll let the doctor know you're ready for him," she said, put the basin aside and left the cubicle.

"Even when you're hurt? Really?" Sam asked from where he stood near the entrance.

Dean glanced at him. "What?" He grimaced. "She's cute."

"Very," Sam agreed, rolled his eyes and shook his head. "You're impossible. You'll be hitting on the nurses on your deathbed, dude."

All Dean could do was smirk. "What can I say? I totally dig the uniforms. And ... well, only if they're hot. And she's hot. Grey eyes. How unusual is that. Dude, she's totally into me."

Sam snorted. "She's a nurse. She's just doing her job. She probably gets hit on by everybody. Why should she fall for your special brand of charm-offensive?"

"Hey, even when I'm dirty and wet, I'm hotter than hell," Dean shot back and spread his arms out in an all-encompassing gesture. "The woman that can resist this has yet to be born."

Sam just stared at him for a second, then sighed deeply. "Your ego is running rampant," he said, then clammed up when the doctor finally stepped into the cubicle.

"Mr. Winchester?" he asked and Dean nodded, dropping the – as Sam called it – charm-offensive immediately. "You had a close encounter with a jack, I hear?"

"Yeah, had to change a tire in the driving rain and the damned thing just slipped," Dean confirmed and flexed his shoulders. Sometimes he really wanted to just blurt out what had really given him any given injury just to gauge the response. The fact that most of the stuff they went up against would earn him a trip to the psych ward was the only reason that he abstained from that particular brand of fun.

The doctor eyed the gash for a moment, then pulled a pen out of his pocket and jabbed the tip of Dean's index finger. "Can you feel that?"

"Yeah," Dean confirmed.

He jabbed each finger in turn, confirming that Dean still had feeling in his fingers, which he did. "Now, I know this may hurt a bit, but can you move your fingers?" the doctor asked.

Dean wiggled his fingers a little and grimaced at the pulling pain this caused despite the local anaesthetic. His hand itself didn't really hurt, but the sensation translated into his arm and seemed to create a sort of ghost-pain in his lower arm. "Ouch," he muttered.

"Well, I don't think there's any nerve damage," the doctor said. "I do think you should come back in about a week for another checkup. Nurse Eden will stitch this up for you and bandage it. Just keep it dry and try not to use it too much for the next week."

"Gotcha," Dean agreed and gave the guy a lopsided smirk. "Thanks, doc."

"You're welcome," the doctor said and left again.

"They're either very busy or very indifferent," Sam said after he was gone.

"My money's on the first and who needs grumpy doctors when you can have hot nurses," Dean countered and smirked at him.

The expression on his brother's face left much to be desired, but Sam kept his tongue when Nurse Eden returned a moment later.

"Let's get you patched up, shall we?" she suggested and set about doing that.

Dean watched her closely while she sewed up the tear. Either she didn't notice or she didn't mind. One way or another, he had to admit that he was getting a little hot and bothered for this lovely young lady and he attributed that to the fact that he hadn't been laid in a while. The opportunity just hadn't presented itself.

"There. How's that?" she asked and finally looked up to meet his eyes.

"That's outstandingly beautiful," he said and briefly admired her needlework. "That probably won't even leave a scar. You're very good at this, Nurse Eden."

To his immediate delight, this caused a light blush to rise on her already very wholesome and beautiful face. God, but wasn't she adorable. He nearly sighed, then caught the disapproving look Sam was giving him and only barely prevented a chuckle.

"I'll just put a bandage on it. Try to keep it dry and don't move your fingers too much for the first week. Wiggle them a little now and again to keep them from going stiff," Nurse Eden said.

"You'd better put his hand in a splint then. He will try to use it if you don't," Sam inserted.

Dean shot him a deadly glare which glanced off him like water of a duck's back. Sam merely smiled in return.

Nurse Eden eyed Dean closely for a second, then smiled too. "I could imagine as much," she agreed and dug out a splint, which she then proceeded to bandage to his hand.

'You are so dead', Dean mouthed at Sam over her head and was utterly annoyed by the fact that Sam didn't take that threat seriously and merely smirked at him.

"There. That should prevent you from trying to use it. If it hurts too much or your hand gets hot and uncomfortable, you'll have to come back and see me," Nurse Eden said.

Dean dialed down the annoyance and upped the charm again. "Oh, I may just have to do that," he agreed. "Just to be on the safe side."

This made her chuckle. "Should I schedule a time for you next week?" she asked.

"Yeah, might be a good idea," he agreed, then made a face. "On second thought ... we're probably not going to be in town next week, so ... do you make house calls?"

Nurse Eden met his eyes again and smiled. "No, I'm afraid I don't," she said and held his gaze for a long moment. Then she got off her stool again. "There. You're set to go," she said.

"Are you trying to get rid of me?" he asked and winked at her.

"Not at all. There's just nothing else I can do for you right now," she countered and stepped back.

"Oh, I wouldn't say that," he said in a low tone of voice.

She smiled almost indulgently until Sam grabbed Dean's arm. "Let's go, Romeo. I'm sure Nurse Eden has a ton of other patients to attend to," he said.

Dean mostly felt like slugging his brother right then, but abstained from any greater show of force for the benefit of the lovely Nurse Eden. "I'll come back in a few days," he promised and made a less than graceful exit when Sam pulled at his arm and nearly made him stumble.

The second they were out of earshot, Dean turned on Sam with a vengeance. "What the hell was that?" he snapped heatedly.

Sam merely settled for a slightly bemused expression. "You were close to drooling, man."

"In future, mind your own business. I'm this close to wacking you over the head with my splint here," Dean growled and stalked outside, leaving it up to Sam to deal with the paperwork.