Disclaimer: Don't I just wish I owned The Pretty.
A/N: Just for fun. It will be two chapters, each one basically a standalone. Hope you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think.
Chapter 1: Beauty
Sam Winchester paced back and forth in the hospital waiting room, as he had been doing for the last four hours. It had been five hours since he had brought his unconscious brother to the emergency room and Dean had been whisked away from him with no further word. He had no idea the reason he had a clear path for his perambulations was because his increasing level of concern was resulting in a Bother-Me-And-I-Just-Might-Bounce-You-Off-A-Wall expression his face.
The double doors at the far end of the hall opened and a doctor hurried through. She peered around the waiting room, caught sight of Sam and walked over to him.
"Mr.--," she glanced at the clipboard in her hand, "—Warren?"
Sam nodded vigorously. "Yes. Uh, how's my brother?"
She smiled. "I'm Dr. Halbertson. There's good news and some not-so-good news. The good news is, there's absolutely nothing wrong with your brother. He's perfectly healthy."
Sam felt the tight knot in his stomach loosen. "That's great!" Then he frowned. The doctor's expression was just a little too upbeat. "What's the not-so-good news, then?"
"Dean's fine but he's still unconscious? I don't understand."
"Not unconscious, Mr. Warren. Asleep."
"Asleep asleep? Winken, blinken and Nod-land asleep? 'Now I lay me down to' asleep?" Sam was thoroughly confused at this point. "Why is just being asleep bad news?"
"Because we can't get him to wake up. We've tried everything, from the most sophisticated medical approaches down to shouting in his ear and shaking him. Nothing."
"How is that different from unconscious?" Sam demanded.
"It just is, Mr. Warren. They are two different physical conditions. We've done tests and scans and the result is, he is not unconscious, he's asleep. It's totally amazing!"
She sounded unbelievably chipper and something in Sam snapped.
"You can't wake my brother up and you sound positively thrilled about it! Did you fail 'Hypocratic Oath for Dummies' at your medical school?" he snarled.
Realizing the term "ticking time bomb" could appropriately be stamped on Mr. Warren's forehead right now, she dropped the smile and cleared her throat. "I'm sorry, Mr. Warren. It's just that I'm always fascinated by medical mysteries and right now, your brother is one. We're calling in some specialists; I'm sure we'll have answer soon."
Three days later, Dr. Halbertson and her specialists—the list of which grew by the hour—were no closer to a solution. The doctors poked, prodded, tested, scanned, whispered, checked notes, wrote furiously, then tested, scanned, poked and prodded some more. They all looked as happy as a kitten with a ball of yarn.
And they were getting on Sam's last nerve.
The object of their attentions remained blissfully unaware of the goings-on. Dean, looking serene and reposed—or, in other words, not at all like Dean—lay sleeping as peacefully as the proverbial baby. The doctors had stopped bothering to whisper, having reached the conclusion that even a tactical nuke going off would not disturb Dean's slumber.
And Dean was completely free from any machines, hook-ups and IVs. His brain functioned perfectly, his heart chugged along, his chest rose and fell without assistance. What had really caused astonishment was that his nails and his hair had not grown even a millimeter and he did not appear to need water or nourishment. Over Sam's objections, the IV had been removed as a test early on; Dean had continued to snore complacently without any signs of thirst or dehydration or chemical imbalance.
No question that he was going to be an entire chapter in a medical textbook down the road.
Sam noticed that, after the doctors and technicians would leave the room, nurses seemed to find a reason to congregate around his brother's bed. Phrases like "so sad" and "isn't he just beautiful" would then drift down the hallway.
Too bad Dean was sleeping through it all. He would be in horndog heaven if he were awake.
On the fourth day, Sam put a call through to Joshua. He no longer believed that this was a medical problem at all. This was clearly Winchester territory.
After listening to Sam's increasingly desperate recitation of events, Joshua said, "Okay, so you boys were in some sort of local museum of magical objects because odd things were going on with the exhibits. Hell," he snorted in disgust, "the owner of that place needs a brain transplant. That's what magical objects tend to do. It's why you try to avoid putting more than two or three in the same location.
"Sam, you have to go back and try to figure out which one Dean was around just before it happened. That's the only way you'll be able to determine how to solve this."
The Museum of Mystical Objects was tucked away in a small corner of the big city. It's current owners were a pair of college dropouts whose parents had probably envisioned their daughters becoming doctors or lawyers, instead of New Age, crystal-wearing Mother Goddess worshippers. They had purchased the museum fairly cheaply—with what was left of a trust fund that belonged to one of them—after the former owner had disappeared one night. Mysteriously. Dean and Sam, a minute after arriving at the museum and picking up the readings on the EMF meter, had known there was nothing "mysterious" about it: the former owner had been nailed by one of his own exhibits. Whoever had put the collection together had seriously needed to have his or her sanity checked.
After Dean had collapsed, Sam, rushing to get Dean some medical attention, had suggested that the current owners put everything in the museum to the torch. Or bury them in cement. Or nuke it—nuking should do the job.
He had been pretty sure his advice would be ignored.
Fortunately, it had been, at least for now. Sam had been let in and solicitous inquiries had been made about Dean. Sam appreciated their kindness. On the other hand, he wasn't particularly impressed with their intelligence for deciding to keep the museum intact. One day, their exhibits would eat them but there was nothing Sam could do if his warnings were ignored.
Unless he and Dean came back later and torched the place.
He started in the first room he and Dean had entered. Even though Dean was found upstairs, there was no way of knowing how long it had taken for whatever had whammied Dean to take effect. He shook his head. Only two of the exhibits here were "live" and neither one would have done anything as innocuous as put Dean to sleep. Instead of hanging around a hospital, Sam would have been searching lily pads.
After forty-five minutes, only the room Dean had collapsed in was left. Toward the end of their investigation, they had split up, so Sam had not seen this room before. As he walked in, one object, the largest in the room, caught his eye. It would have attracted Dean's attention, too.
With a sudden blinding flash of insight, Sam knew immediately what had happened. Despite the seriousness of the situation back at the hospital, Sam could not prevent a cackle of laughter from escaping his lips.
Because there was no way he would ever let Dean live this down.
Sam hung up the receiver and stepped away from the pay phone, glancing at the names he had written down. Having realized, after figuring out what had been the culprit, that he was going to need genuine, twenty-four carat royalty—and not Hollywood royalty, or corporate royalty, or even money royalty, but "My ancestors have ruled kingdoms for centuries" royalty—he had turned to the society maven of the primary local newspaper, which would be easier than combing her column for the last few weeks. Once the people lionized in her column showed up in print, their presence became public knowledge and she did not have any trouble giving Sam three names.
Sam decided to try to see Princess Maria Catherine Therese von Hapsburg, who was the last surviving member of a cadet branch of the ruling house and who had been described to him as a "classy old lady with a great sense of humor."
Because if there were something she would need about this situation, it would be a sense of humor.
The lobby of the Ritz Carlton was a model of a luxury that silently and snottily advised peasants to go around to the back. Sam refused to be intimidated. He was pretty sure that no one here would give him the princesses' room number, but thirty bucks procured an agreement to point her out when she returned to the hotel.
Two hours later, Sam had perused all of the complimentary magazines, including Ladies Home Journal and Cosmopolitan—no way that guy in the centerfold had not been digitally enhanced!—and had tried everything on the table along the wall, which contained free nibbles for the guests. The bagels had been especially good.
A sudden tap on his shoulder took him to instant alertness. The desk clerk he had bribed pointed surreptitiously to someone who was just entering the lobby.
She was, indeed, elderly, but she still stood as straight as a flagpole, which gave the impression she was taller than her actual 5'1". Her silver hair was perfectly coiffed, her ensemble very expensive and her taste appeared impeccable. She leaned slightly on an ebony cane with an elaborate silver design on top.
Sam hurried to intercept her. He expected a frosty reception; he got, instead, a coolly appraising stare tinged with amusement. Uncertain of the proper protocol—John Winchester had not trained his sons to be courtiers—he bowed slightly at the waist.
"Uh, Your Highness, I'm very sorry to bother you. My name is Sam Winchester and I desperately need your help."
He turned on the Puppy Dog Eyes of Power full blast. Dean would have ribbed him like mad later, if he had been here.
Which was, of course, the problem. Dean was not able to be here.
Princess Maria smiled and her study of him took on an approving edge. Sam blinked, almost blushed, suddenly feeling as if here were being undressed. Damn. The princess was a dirty old woman!
Now that he thought about it, that might actually make things easier.
"Very well, young man, I will hear what you have to say. Come, over here." She gestured imperiously at several plush chairs set around a coffee table. Sam followed her over and sat down.
A few moments later, her rich laughter floated across the marble-tiled lobby.
They arrived at the hospital toward the end of the evening visiting hours. The nurse at the station in the critical care wing called out to them that they had only fifteen minutes left. Sam smiled and nodded, steering the princess toward Dean's room.
Dean was lying exactly as he had been for the last four days, unmoving, his face peaceful Sam was struck once again by the un-Deanness of it.
A throaty laugh caught his attention and he glanced over at Princess Maria. She smiled up at him.
"This is your brother? You forgot to mention how beautiful he is. I understand the object's choice now. In the old days, I would have had him spirited away for the winter to one of our family retreats in the mountains—where I would have kept him very exhausted."
"Ma'am!" Sam said in a scandalized tone.
She laughed again. "Such a bloodless age you belong to, child. Well, let us proceed. I always wanted to add "charming" to my titles."
Moving over to Dean's side, she smiled broadly, leaned over and planted one on smack on Dean's lips. The effect was instantaneous. Dean stirred, gave a huge yawn and opened his eyes, to see the face of his Princess Charming hovering only a couple of inches away.
He yelped in surprise, jumped sideways and promptly fell off the bed. The resounding thud was followed by a string of—to Sam's mind, anyway—extremely inventive curses. A minute later, Dean's head popped up, eyes wide and staring.
"Uh, Sammy, what just happened?" Then he frowned, looked around the room and down at the gown he was wearing. "What the fu--," his eyes flicked up to the elderly woman still leaning over his bed, "—heck is going on here?" he demanded.
Sam, fighting a smile, moved closer. "You're in the hospital. You've been here for four days. Asleep."
"I've been sleeping in a hospital for four days? What? No Motel Six available?" Dean asked in an annoyed tone.
"Sleeping, as in, no one could wake you up. You've been quite the medical marvel." Sam noted Dean's puzzled look. "What's the last thing you remember?"
"Uh…going into an exhibit room on the second floor of the museum, looking over the stuff there…" The frown was back. "Then I was here." He looked unhappy. "Okay, spill."
"Remember what was in the room?" Sam was really enjoying himself, now that there was no longer any question Dean would be all right.
"Bunch of stuff. Some of it fake crap, but a lot of it was really dangerous." He looked up at his brother. "Hey, did you tell those two they should nuke the place?"
Sam nodded, amused that Dean and he had been so in tune in their thoughts about the museum, then he steered the conversation back to the fun part. "Remember the spinning wheel?"
"Yeah, got definite readings off of that sucker. I remember I went over to take a closer look…wait, I think I--."
His words screeched to a halt and an expression of horror settled over his face. "No freaking way!" he protested. "Sleeping Beauty was a chick!"
"I suspect," the princess said, looking amused, "that gender is not as important as beauty. And my child, you are beautiful."
Sam nodded solemnly, instead of doing what he really wanted to do. Which was roll around the floor laughing hysterically. "You did always say you were the beautiful one."
"Handsome, Sam. I said I was the handsome one." Dean surged to his feet, outraged. "There's a big difference!"
Dean seemed to suddenly become aware he was being eyed with definite interest by a female old enough to be his great-grandmother. And of just how flimsy hospital gowns were. He reached out and snatched the blanket off the bed, wrapping it around himself.
Sam grinned. He would never have expected to be able to use the words "prude" and "Dean Winchester" in the same sentence.
"Apparently, not a distinction the spinning wheel makes," Sam pointed out reasonably.
"Wait a minute," Dean demanded. "It couldn't be what you think. I mean, the only way to wake me up would be--." His voice trailed off. Sam could see the connections being made. Kiss…wake up…old woman leaning over him….
San had not thought Dean could look any more appalled, but he had been wrong. He gestured at the princess. "Dean, meet Her Highness, Princess Maria Catherine Therese von Hapsburg."
Princess Maria stepped regally around the bed and toward Dean. "But you, you beautiful young man, you may call me Princess Charming. And if I were even only thirty years younger, you would not have gotten out of that bed after waking up until spring."
By the time she was finished speaking, she had Dean, who had been backpedaling furiously, all the while clutching the blanket like a shield, pinned against the closet. Astonishment at being propositioned by a nonagenarian –which seemed to Sam to be offending a sense of propriety Sam had not even known Dean had—warred with an expression rarely seen on Dean Winchester's face: total panic.
Sam was having great difficulty staying upright.
The princess finally took pity on the elder Winchester. She patted his cheek and then headed toward the door. She inclined her head at Sam as she passed him.
"I think your brother wishes to dress in private. Unfortunately. I will wait outside."
Sam grinned. "We'll take you back to your hotel. And…thank you very much." The last was said earnestly. Sam knew he had been lucky to find someone who would even listen to him, much less believe.
"Uh, yeah, from me, too," Dean said, though he looked as embarrassed as hell.
"It has been the most interesting evening I have had in years," she replied with a wicked smile.
Dean winced. As soon as the door closed, he began pulling clothing frantically from the closed. He flung the blanket back onto the bed and seemed to be trying to set the world speed record for getting dressed.
Sam watched, laughing. "Dude, she saved your life."
"And ruined my reputation!" Dean suddenly looked horrified again. "You didn't tell anyone else, did you?"
"Not yet. But, Dean, doctors from all over the city have been studying you. I think they just might notice you aren't sleeping anymore and start asking questions."
"Not if we're not still here!" Dean growled, tying his shoelaces.
"You're the wonder of the medical community; I'm not sure they're going to just let us waltz out of here."
Dean was now glaring at him. "Do I look as if I'm going to be asking their permission?"
As if on cue, the door opened and an intern on the night shift walked in studying a clipboard. He caught sight of Dean, awake, upright and fuming, and his mouth dropped open.
"Oh, my God, you're awake. I have to contact Dr. Halbertson immediately!"
He turned and started back out of the room until an arm shot past him and slammed the door closed. A second later, he was two inches away from The Dean Winchester Glare of Impending Death ™. The intern blanched noticeably.
"I'm really in the mood right now to hit something. In a pinch, you'll do," Dean snarled.
The intern backed away from the door.
"Sam," the elder Winchester snapped, "get whatever stuff I have here that I'm not wearing, will you? I'll guard the door." And he smiled nastily at the intern, who remained rooted in place.
Sam already had most of Dean's stuff, including his beloved necklace and ring, in the Impala. Only Dean's watch was rattling around in the nightstand's lone drawer. He tossed it to his brother, who caught it one-handed.
Dean stared down the intern and wagged one finger at him in warning. "Don't even think of calling anyone."
Princess Maria was waiting for them and they started down the corridor, Dean taking point to keep an eye out for any hospital personnel who might be trying to waylay them. It was smooth sailing, though, and they cruised around the corner to head to the elevators, leaving the hallway behind them still and silent.
Until an outraged voice could be heard from around the corner.
"Princess! Get your hands off my ass!"
A/N: Next chapter is Sam's turn!