Armor of Righteousness

Author: Cheryl W.

Disclaimer: I do not own Dean, Sam or any rights to Supernatural, nor am I making any profit from this story.

Author's Note: Thank you YankeeFan87! You made me smile when you put it as a favorite...Thanks for your kind support!. So, for YankeeFan87 and for any lurkers out there, here's chapter 2. So, on with the show…

Summary:Multi-chapter tag for OTHOAP. No one man wins or loses a war. Now Sam just has to prove that to Dean. No Slash.

SNSNSNSNSNSNSNSN

Chapter 2

SNSNSNSNSNSNSNSN

He wasn't supposed to get involved with the patients, wasn't supposed to overstep his boundaries. He took out the trash, mopped up the floors and was never to respond to any medical emergencies, any patient's request…unless they wanted another trash bag, wanted another tissue box. That was it, no "helping". If someone went code blue in a room he was in or had trouble breathing or was lying on the floor, his orders were to leave the room immediately and seek a medical staff member. And most of the time, he was fine with that, knew he wasn't a doctor, didn't have one ounce of medical knowledge..was just your guy with below average IQ and job skills. Ok, he had come to terms with that. But what he did know was people. He had made it a game of sorts, to guess the relationship of the patients and their visitors, to read their body language because it always said so much more than words ever could.

When he stepped into the patient's room, he was startled to find the patient still had a visitor though visitor hours were long over. Was surprised that he was half way into the room before he sensed the other man's presence sitting in the chair, not sleeping but still, as still as the man in the bed. The look in the young visitor's eyes halted him right then and there, mid-step. He had seen that look in 'Nam, that feral gaze that assessed you, that you knew was determining if you lived or died.

It took a few seconds before the gaze morphed into a look of sanction. Still he stood there a moment, frozen, a strange fear spiking in him as if he was hunched down in the bushes as a Viet Cong walked by him on a path inches from his position, fearing that a deadly attack would ensue in the next breath. But then the dark haired man nodded his head, lost some of the tense set of his shoulders and refocused back upon the man in the bed. His presence forgotten, ignored now that he wasn't a threat. 'Wasn't a further threat,' he qualified, his eyes stealing to the man in the bed, himself being too long a man with ready fists, too long an employee of the hospital not to recognize the signs of injuries from a fight on the young man's features. No, the man at the bedside had apparently not been as wary in protecting his friend before, may not have even been there to help his friend in his obvious battle. 'And he's kicking himself for that. Torn up with guilt and worry and …. terror.'

Quietly rolling his cart over to the side of the room, he retrieved the trash can, upended it into his cart's garbage bin, taking note of the contents: a few medical wrappers, two tissues but no food items. No even a Styrofoam cup or soda can as evidence that the visitor had even bothered to drink anything. As he walked back to the bed to replace the trash can, he noted the water glass on the counter where a visitor would place his drink, not within a patient's easy reach. But that too was seemingly untouched.

He knew it was none of his business. That he wasn't following the spirit of the rules set for him. But he couldn't just walk out of the room without assessing patient and visitor, without getting some feel for what was between these two men, what could create the powerful connection that seemed to fill the room. So he let his look encompass the patient and his visitor in what some might call a stare. It came to him quickly, the signs there for anyone to see if they knew where to look. The same dark features, tanned skin, the same strength in their faces and tone of their muscles…and the look in the visitor's eyes, the focus he had on the other man's face in unconsciousness. They were brothers. He would bet his life saving on it, what little that amounted to.

Not having a brother of his own, having two sisters older than himself, he had always been fascinated with the relationship between brothers. Knew he saw a side of that relationship few ever would, even those closest to them. This place, it brought out the worst and best in everyone, some rose to the occasion, and some would have to live with their actions here like a weight around their heart. But this devotion, this bond he could sense between the two men, it wasn't your common variety, in brothers, or families or friends.

As if sensing the inspection, the visitor looked up at him, quietly asked, "Do you need something?" his voice rough with lack of sleep, with sobs choked back, with fear that was so close to spilling over it was a miracle he sat so still.

"No," he answered just as quietly, so as not to disturb the man's injured brother, who seemed unlikely to stir. His position, the breathing tube was indicating that sleep was not holding the man still, unconsciousness was. And part of him wanted to offer encouragement, or hope or kindness, something. But the right words wouldn't come. He didn't know if there was cause for encouragement, if there was hope, if kindness here, under these circumstance, would be a cruelty that would break the other man. So he grabbed his cart and left, said a silent prayer for the brothers as he moved to the next room. Couldn't help but wonder what had happened to forge their bond as strong as it obviously was, nor could he help wonder how the young man had come to be so severely hurt, what instigated such violence against him. Couldn't help trying to envision how the other brother had reacted to the news, would have treated the person who hurt his brother so badly. But then he remembered it, that gaze that the young man had leveled at him when he first entered the room. He felt a shiver course through him. It was best not to think of the retribution the young man was capable of. Some thoughts too dark, too real for games like his, when real people were involved, when lives could be lost and some pains didn't diminish, ever.

SNSNSNSN

As for what he was doing right now? It was his break. He could do with it as he wished, right? If he chose to walk the halls and he got out of the way for traffic, there was no harm in what he was doing surely. And if his trek took him past a certain room, baring a patient that happened to have a brother? Coincidences happened everyday. He meant to do a "drive by", slow down by the door, assess the situation, maybe alleviate the worry that had made sleeping after his shift nearly impossible, no matter that he told himself this wasn't his business, his concern, that these were strangers…like a hundred he had seen before in these rooms, in these beds. But something had gotten to him about these two and he didn't know how to make the feelings go away.

So this drive by idea came to him, a little reconnaissance mission. And honestly, he wasn't sure what he would do if the room was empty, if it signified that the wounded brother had passed during the day. His heart was in his throat as he tried to casually stroll by the room, but all thoughts to keep moving fled at the sight in the room. Instead he came to a stop at the doorway, felt a jolt of happy relief to see the breathing tube was gone, that the young man was breathing on his own, was still but not in the position he had been yesterday. He spoke the words before he could stop himself, "He looks better. He wake up yet?"

When the man in the chair snapped his head toward him, he cursed himself for speaking, for startling the man, for butting into matters that didn't concern him. "Oh, sorry, I…it's none of my business. I just…sorry," and he started to turn away when the brother spoke.

"It's alright," the brother forgave, his voice sounded less traumatized than it had in the wee hours of the morning and he noted a cup was sitting on the counter that was wafting the scent of coffee, which he bet a nurse brought to him. This brother, he wouldn't have left the room for something like that, something for his comfort and nothing to do with his brother's. "And …ah ..no, he hasn't woken up yet," the brother supplied, a tremulous smile making a hit and run appearance on his lips before he looked back to his brother again, as if a change could have happened in the seconds he looked away.

He wanted to say 'he would' but he didn't. After all, hope wasn't always truth. Said aloud instead, from his stance just outside the door, "But he's making improvements." He watched the brother's shoulder lose another notch of tension as he replied, "Yeah, they said he's mostly out of danger, will take some time to recover," and the young man's voice was choked like it hadn't been yesterday when his brother looked on the precipice of death. Caught off guard by the man's lowered defenses, he swallowed his own emotions, wondered when he started to be an old sentimental fool, knew he couldn't afford to be on this job. That self-chastisement didn't stop him from stepping into the room, from trying to give the suddenly not so strong young man some support.

"Well your brother seems like a fighter," he said, meant it as encouragement as the words were formed but knew how wrong they were once they were out of his mouth. 'Fighter?!' He cursed himself for his poor choice of words, of labels. Clearly a fight had gotten the young man hurt in the first place, put him where he was, in a hospital. "I mean…he's strong…" he stammered to correct his mistake, felt those words were just as wrong because it was obvious the wounded man hadn't come out the victor in the fight…less his opponent was dead.

A smirk twisted up the brother's lips at his discomfort at his faux pax. "You're right, on both accounts," the brother agreed, pride and a light of humor almost coming to life in his eyes. "Dean's…" but he bit his lip almost instantly to keep himself locked down, apparently his brother's name on his lips was like a lock, opened doors the younger man couldn't deal with then. Looking back to his brother, the man reached forward, wrapped his arm around his brother's forearm, "He's…he's the best man I've ever known, no one I would rather have fighting on my side than him. Thing is, when it comes time to fight for himself… " he shook his head, couldn't continue, maybe didn't want to.

The young man's admission, it gave him insight into the events that lead to this man's brother being hurt so severely, told him that the wounded man had clearly lost the fight. That the stakes of the fight, they hadn't been for his brother's safety, had been for his own. Was a battle the wounded man had thought he could afford to lose. 'You wouldn't say that now, if you could see your brother's face. If you could see the pain he's in seeing you hurt, at almost losing you,' he thought, wished the wounded man would wake up then, see what he saw, detect what even a stranger could figure out. "Seems like he's fighting just fine today, wouldn't do otherwise with you here as a witness."

He watched as the brother gave a small snort of laughter, bowed his head maybe in agreement, maybe in embarrassment. "Whatever works, right?" the young man said, as he raised his head until their eyes met. For a moment, he didn't know what to say. When he spoke, his "yeah" was as rough as the young man's voice had been the night before. "Well, I have to get back to work. Just wanted to check up on you two." He saw the man tilt his head in wiry amusement even a hint of confusion. It was then he realized that he said he was checking on the two of them, which sounded strange considering only one of them was hurt. But even as he thought of that, he knew he was wrong, they were both hurt…only one was in the hospital bed and the other sat in a chair beside it.

The man stood then, extended his hand. "Name's Sam and my brother," he canted his head, "is Dean."

"Jason," he supplied, shaking the man's hand.

"Thanks for …caring," Sam said, a shyness there now where the menace had laid last night.

"Your welcome," Jason returned, could think of no other reply. "Maybe you'll be around tonight when I get to this wing…"

"I'll be here," Sam stated without a sliver of doubt in his eyes. It came as no surprise. Jason knew there was no where else Sam would be but at his brother's side.

SNSNSNSNSNSNSNSNSNSNSNNSN

TBC

SNSNSNSNSNSNSNSNSNSNSNSNSN

Thanks to anyone still venturing this far on the tale.

Chapter 3 will be up tomorrow …computer/internet willing.

Have a great evening!

Cheryl W.