It's Real

Hope

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

This was supposed to be up for valentines day, but my nanna passed away earlier in the month, so I didn't write for a couple of weeks as I had other things on my mind. But for some reason writing helps to take my mind off things so I decided to finally finish this chapter. It's not as long as I planned, and it's probably terrible, but at least you know why. :)

Dean gets the results of the tests and scans and later has a talk with Cas.

The next morning, the doctors took Dean away for the tests Dr Hayder mentioned the previous night, leaving the two men and the angel to worry in the quiet hospital room.

"Do you think Dean will be okay?" asked Cas, breaking the silence.

Sam stopped chewing on his thumbnail. "I hope so. I can't bear the thought of Dean been bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. It'll break his heart. He's already showing signs of being depressed, I don't want to think about what it'll do to him if there's no chance of him walking again."

Sam was worried Dean could spiral into an even worse depression than he was already in, he was concerned about the self-destructive behavior he knew Dean would engage in. It scared the hell out of Sam, but most of all he worried he would hurt himself or say yes to Michael.

Each thought introduced a new snapshot, frame by frame, presenting a slideshow of 'what ifs'. Each image was more heartbreaking than the last.

He shook his head to get rid of the images. "It won't matter to me if he can walk or if he's in a chair. He'll always be my stubborn pain in the ass big brother. Whether it's good news or bad news, I'll always be here with him every step of the way... Whether he likes it or not."

"Me too," nodded Bobby. "He'll probably hate it and say he doesn't want to be a burden or some other load of crap. But I ain't going anywhere."

"I will stay also," Castiel added. "Dean is my friend. I will not leave him in his time of need."

"I hope it's good news," Sam whispered, before going back to chewing his thumbnail as he nervously waited for the doctor and his brother to return.

Over an hour later Dean was wheeled back into the room by two nurses, followed by the doctor. Sam, Castiel and Bobby shot to their feet in unison, each wearing identical expressions.

"How is he?" asked Sam, placing his hand on Dean's shoulder in support.

Dr Hayder sighed. "We've done multiple tests and scans and it looks like the swelling has subsided a little. He also was able to faintly feel it when I squeezed his leg, but couldn't feel it if I laid my hand gently on it."

"What does that mean?"

Dean interrupted in a quiet hopeful voice. "If the swellings going down and I've slowly started regaining feeling, does that mean I could eventually walk?"

"The bullet not only caused severe swelling of and around the spinal cord, but it also caused some minor damage when it clipped your spine, and the damage hasn't had a chance to fully heal yet." He watched as Sam took Dean's hand into his own, before continuing. "It's been a few weeks since the shooting and the swelling around the area has only just started to subside, which lets you feel the faintest touch and that's only when you put pressure on your leg. That would explain why you felt Lizzie fall on your leg but couldn't feel me touching it. It could be awhile before the swelling goes completely and you regain full feeling, and even longer before you're able to move your feet and legs due to both the swelling and the damage, but yes I think you could eventually walk out of here after more physical therapy."

Sam was smiling widely. "You could walk," he whispered as if any louder volume would change the outcome.

Dean was looking from Sam to the doctor as if he couldn't believe what the doctor was saying and was silently asking Sam if he was telling the truth. "I... Really?" he asked in a trembling voice.

"Really. You may not be able to walk without the assistance of a cane for the first few months. Like I said, it's not as if you feel the slightest touch and miraculously jump out of bed and walk. It'll take time."

"We don't care how long it takes as long as he ends up walking," said Bobby, standing closer to the bed.

"We'll take you for another scan in two or three days to keep an eye on it." The four of them shared looks of disbelief, making the doctor smile. "I'll leave you guys alone to let the news sink in. We'll let you get some rest today, but Rick will be here early tomorrow for another physical therapy session," he said, and quietly left the room.

A few silent minutes followed until Dean whispered, "Did he say what I think he said?"

Sam sat beside him. "He said what you think he said. You could finally leave this place on your own two feet. You could walk, run, drive... Do whatever you want."

Dean still seemed to be in shock. "I'm awake, right? I'm not still sleeping?"

Sam gave his hand a squeeze. "Feel that? It means you're awake. This is real, Dean."

"It's real," Dean repeated, still whispering. He gasped as he suddenly remembered something. "That's what I said right after it happened. What if this is part of the tricksters game... Or Gabriel. What if I'm still trapped in there and we don't know it. What..."

"Hey," Sam said firmly, cutting off Dean's ramblings. "This is real, okay? The gunshot wound, the hospital, the doctor, me, Bobby, Castiel, it's all real. We got out of there. We're back. This isn't a dream either. This is good news."

Dean started staring down at his unmoving legs as if willing them to move. He still couldn't believe eventually he could be better and walk again. Dean had waited for this kind of news since he woke up in the hospital, but the news hadn't sunk in yet. He didn't think it would until he was actually back on his feet again.

Sam was watching his brother worriedly. "You're quiet. What are you thinking?"

Dean shook his head. "Nothing. It's just..."

"Hard to take in?" he guessed and Dean nodded. Sam leaned his shoulder against his brother's. "I know. But at least it's the news we wanted. It doesn't matter how long it takes, it'll be worth it in the end."

Dean nodded again. He didn't want to speak too much or too loud in-case he woke up from a dream or somehow changed the outcome.

"I'd give anything to be able to feel my legs or be able to stand from the bed and walk," Dean whispered quietly. "But now there's a chance of that happening, and it's..."

"It's very overwhelming," said Castiel, sitting beside Dean and patting his leg comfortingly. He looked up at Dean hopefully. "Did you feel that?"

"No."

"Okay." Castiel hit Dean's leg harder and gave it a hard squeeze, making Dean gasp. "Did you feel that?"

"Yeah. It was only really faint, like you tapped it gently, but I felt it."

Sam was smiling so hard, his face hurt. "See? It's not a dream."

A single tear slipped down Dean's cheek as he closed his eyes and hid his face against Sam's shoulder.

"Hey," said a surprised Sam, wrapping his arms around his brother, who was suddenly crying on his shoulder. "What's wrong? This is good news."

Dean's voice was muffled with tears and Sam's t-shirt. "I know. I'm happy." He raised his tear-stained face away from Sam. "I feel happy."

"Yeah. Ya look ecstatic right now," teased Bobby, trying to lighten the mood.

Dean let out a quiet laugh as he wiped his cheeks. "Sorry. I'm being stupid."

"No you're not. Let out everything you've held back, we'll be here."

"I cried like a frigging baby last night," Dean grumbled, wiping the last of his tears with one of the tissues on the bedside table. "I think my face has sprung a leak or something." He had tried to hold in his emotions in the past few weeks, but since he opened the floodgates the previous night, it seemed to be hard to close them.

"This is a hard time right now. There's no limit on how many tears you cry. Happy tears, sad tears. Cry all you want. Nobody's going to think you're weak. You're the strongest person we know, and even the strongest break sometimes," said Sam, tears in his own eyes.

For the second time in two days, the only sound in the quiet hospital room was Dean's sobbing and his family's comforting whispers.

A couple of hours later, Castiel was out doing an errand for Dean, and Sam and Bobby were down in the cafeteria. They didn't want to leave, but Dean had almost begged them to take a break, and both men knew Dean could do with some quiet time, so they reluctantly left him for awhile.

Castiel came back within an hour, this time he entered through the doorway instead of randomly appearing in the middle of the room.

Dean raised his eyebrows, looking impressed. "Wow. You finally decided to learn what a door is?"

"I already know what a door is, it's the entrance to a room," he said seriously, and presented Dean with the things he had asked for.

"Thanks Cas." Dean grinned and took the thick blue leather, spiral bound book and two fountain pens. "Whoa. You didn't have to get me something fancy, you know. A normal book and pen would do."

"I know. But I wanted to get you something special, and I went to this place writers use and asked them for the best things they had. They also recommended taking the book to a place that has something to do with graves. I told them I was not burying anybody so I didn't need a grave. They looked at me oddly and gave me the address, so I took the book there too."

"Grave? You mean engraving?"

"Yes, I think so. Look at the cover."

Dean turned the book over, and gasped when he saw the writing in calligraphy, and the engraved teddy bears on the front. "Whoa. Cas, this is beautiful."

"I am glad you like it."

"The kids are going to love this," said Dean, opening the book and flipping through the blank pages. Dean estimated there must have been at least 200 pages in the book. "I can write loads of stories in here. I can't wait."

When Dean finished with the book, he looked up at the angel with a serious expression. "Hey Cas. I haven't had the chance to thank you for being here. You didn't have to..."

"Yes I did."

"Let me finish. You didn't have to, but as soon as you heard, you came and stuck by me when I needed you and haven't left. I can't thank you enough for that."

Castiel sat on the chair by Dean's bedside. "Something I have learned from watching humans for many years is you stay by family, especially in their time of need and you Dean Winchester are my family... and you don't thank family."

"Wow. You're getting wise in your old age."

"I am already wise," said Castiel with a tiny hint of a smile. "And not just in my old age."

"How old are you anyway?"

"Very old."

"Thanks for narrowing it down," said Dean with an eyeroll. "It's really helpful."

"You're welcome," answered Cas, making Dean laugh.

Dean became serious again as he looked at the angel who had somehow become part of their small family. "I know this hasn't been easy for any of us, but with you guys right here with me... it doesn't make it easy, but it makes it bearable."

"I am glad to be here. I couldn't be anywhere else when you needed me."

"I don't know what I would've done without you guys here."

"Dean, you are a lot stronger than you think you are," said Castiel, patting Dean's hand. "Sam said he will stick by you every step of the way, but uh... You can't step anywhere right now, so I don't understand what he was talking about."

"He doesn't mean literally. It means he'll be here with me for everything, no matter what."

"Oh. Then I will be here every step of the way also."

"As much as I appreciate it, you're an angel. You could be out there doing good... Maybe even God's work. You don't have to be stuck in a hospital room just because I am. There are plenty of other people out there who need you right now, who are more worthy than I am. On the scale of worthy and worthless, I'm on the lower side of the scale."

Castiel's blue eyes narrowed. "That's not true. I have met thousands of humans in my long life but you are no ordinary human. Dean, you have made a bigger difference in your life so far than most humans combined. You have killed thousands of demons, vampires, and evil threats. You have saved countless lives, so why do you feel that your own life is worth nothing?" he asked Dean, who looked away.

Castiel looked at Dean's green eyes, which had looked haunted since he had pulled him out of hell. "I may have only known you for a short time, but I know you deserve to be happy as much as anyone, maybe even more than anyone because of all of the good things you have done."

"After everything I did in hell... After all those souls I tortured. I didn't care who they put in front of me, whether it was a man or a woman, whether they begged, cried or screamed. I tortured them. I ripped them apart, Cas... and I liked it." He swallowed heavily, blinking away the tears. "You still think I'm a good man?"

"Yes. Dean, not all those souls were like you... They didn't sell their souls to save a loved one. Many of those souls down there deserve to be there, they killed, raped, tortured others when they were alive. They were in hell because of the evil things they did on earth. I do not condone torture or inflicting pain on others, but every evil deed should be punished."

"Maybe I'm being punished," Dean whispered in a trembling voice. "This is my punishment for what I did."

"You may have become the torturer, but you were also the tortured... For three decades. The same amount of time you have been on earth. Everybody has a limit, Dean. Even you. Maybe I am to blame for not getting to you fast enough, for not saving you before it was too late. But God would not have commanded we pull you out if he didn't think you were worthy of it." He turned his eyes to Dean's legs. "If God really was punishing you, would he not want you to be paralysed for the rest of your life?"

Dean finally turned to Castiel with a hopeful expression. "I'm not been punished by God?"

"If God really did do this to punish you, then he is an ass-butt."

Dean looked taken aback, his shock clearly written on his face. "Did you call God an ass-butt?"

Castiel sat in silence for several seconds, looking horrified. "Yes. I think so... But only if he really did do this to punish you," he was quick to add, looking up for a second as if saying the last part to God himself. He looked back at Dean again. "You may think you are a monster, but I think you are the most loyal, most selfless and bravest person I have ever come across. You are one of the most amazing human beings I have ever encountered, and you really do not deserve to be put through the things you have."

Dean looked at Castiel skeptically. "Wow. You're getting really good at lying. Maybe it's doing you good being around me after all."

Castiel smiled softly. "I am unable to tell a lie. And in answer to your earlier suggestion... There may be others who need help, but there are also plenty of angels to help if they are needed. I want to be here, this is where I am needed, and I will continue to do so until you are back on your own two feet. So do not tell me whether I should be here or not... A pack of hellhounds could not remove me."

"Wild horses, Cas. It's Wi..." Dean raised his eyebrows. "Did you just make a joke?"

"I may have," Castiel nodded. He suddenly stood up, making Dean jerk in surprise at the movement.

Dean got the shock of his life when Castiel moved towards the bed, leaned closer and wrapped his arms around him. "Er... Cas? What are you doing?" he asked as he was suddenly face to chest with Castiel.

"It is customary for humans to comfort others with a hug." Castiel tightened the hug slightly, and rested his chin on Dean's hair. "Are you comforted?"

"No. I'm freaked out," Dean muttered against Castiel's chest. He winced as a pain shot up his back at the position he was in and the pressure that was being put on his back from Castiel's arms.

"That's odd. Hugs are supposed to comfort humans, not freak them out. Am I not doing it right?"

Dean moaned, his face scrunched up at the agony in his back. "You know what, you're doing an awesome job. I'm really comforted now," he whispered, his teeth gritted as he tried not to cry out in pain.

"You don't sound comforted," said Cas, not letting go of Dean. Instead he closed his eyes and put all his energy into the hug, letting all his power flow through him.

Dean gasped when he felt a soft comforting energy wash over him, and saw a faint light surrounding Cas and then a dark shadow surround him. But he wasn't freaked out anymore, he actually felt comforted and let himself relax into the hug.

If anyone walked into the room at that moment, they would have seen Castiel hugging Dean and a shadowy shape engulf them both. Other people would think it was their imagination, or the strange lighting in the room, but only an angel would know those shapes were the wings of another angel.

Dean closed his eyes and relaxed against his chest. For the first time in a long time he felt safe and protected, calm and at peace as he was hugged by an angel of the lord.

Sam walked into the room and saw Dean was sitting up against the mountain of pillows, the food tray was placed across the bed and he was using it as a desk.

"What are you doing?" Sam asked as he sat next to Dean and saw he was writing in a thick blue leather book he had never seen before. "Where did you get the book?"

"Cas. I asked him if he could get something for me to write in and he comes back with something a professional writer would use."

"What are you writing?" he asked, seeing the neat writing.

A blush stained Dean's cheeks as he closed the book and showed Sam the cover.

Sam smiled when he saw the engraved bears and 'The adventures of the teddy bear knights' written neatly in calligraphy. "You're writing the stories of Danny and Stevie?"

"It's for the kids. For some reason they love the stories. At least this way, when I'm gone they'll still be able to hear the stories whenever they want."

"That's a great idea. But I think one of the reason they love them so much is because of their uncle Dean."

It was Dean's turn to smile. "You know, I don't even know why they call me that. The first time I went down, I told them my name was Dean and all of a sudden I was 'Uncle Dean'. It felt nice," he said, before he sighed sadly as he turned to Sam. "But I guess this will be the only chance I'll ever get to be 'Uncle Dean', right?"

Sam squeezed Dean's shoulder gently. "Just for the record, you'd be the best uncle in the world."

Dean was silent for almost a full minute, before a tiny smirk crossed his face. "Damn straight," he said, making Sam laugh. He turned back to the book, not looking at Sam as he spoke quietly. "When I get out of here, I might still visit them. I mean, they helped me when I felt really down, and they're in the same boat. The least I can do is try to make it easier for them."

"I bet they'll love it."

"Those kids make me smile even when I don't feel like it. When they're listening to me tell them stories, their little faces light up, and they look at me like... Like I matter. Like I'm the greatest thing since Santa or something. Nobody has looked at me like that since you were a kid."

"I may not look at you like that anymore, but I still feel the same. You can't turn those kind of feelings off." He smiled slightly and nudged Dean gently. "And I thought you were way better than Santa."

"Really? Even when you thought he was the one bringing you presents at Christmas?"

"Yeah. 'Santa' only came once a year, but you were there with me every single day. I didn't need presents to make me happy when I already had the best present. The best big brother in the world."

Dean blushed slightly as he looked down, with a tiny smile curling up the side of his mouth. "Thanks Sammy." He cleared his throat and picked the pen back up, ending the moment. "Okay, enough with the chick-flick moment. I've got work to do," he said, and continued writing about the teddy bear knights saving the kingdom of Winchester and saving princess Chevrolet.

TBCI think there will only be 2 or 3 more chapters and this story is finally finished.

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