Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters. This is just fun!
The sun sunk low in the sky, dipping below the trees. Jensen was nudged awake. He blinked bleary eyes, looking around. It took him a moment to realize that they needed him to shoot the next scene. He felt a hand lifting him up and looked into Jared's grinning face.
"I'm awake, I'm awake!" he protested, allowing himself to be pulled to his feet.
"Uh-huh. Right," Jared was still grinning. "C'mon, bro."
Jensen rolled his eyes in a classic "Dean" look. He followed Jared to the chalk marks on the ground where they were supposed to stand. Jensen took his position. "What are we doing again?" he asked the director.
Their director for this episode, a pudgy bald man with a shrill voice that set Jensen's teeth on edge, started explaining the scene again. A shapeshifter was chasing them through the woods, and at the moment it was hunting Dean in order to take Dean's place. Having already beaten the shapeshifter once, Dean was confident but Sam was extremely worried. He asked if they were ready.
"Let's do it."
The pudgy director stood back. "Action!"
"Look out!!" The voice of one of the crew shouted above Jared's line. One of the sound mic booms had broken loose and was swinging toward the two actors. Jared managed to jump backward, out of the way. Jensen was standing with his back to a tree. He tried to flatten himself against the tree, but the boom swung directly at his head.
He felt someone shouting at him, but the words did not make sense. "Dean! Dean!" It was Jared's voice. Why was Jared calling him Dean? And what was the other noise? It sounded familiar, too. He was laying on something that was padded, not very comfortable, had an odd smell, and was vibrating.
His head throbbed. Jensen tried to open his eyes, but everything was still dark. "I'm blind!" he shouted.
"It's dark and you're lying down in the back seat. Sit up!"
Jensen reached out to grasp the back of the front seat. As he pulled himself up, he realized what was so familiar; he was in the Impala. He could not resist a chuckle.
"You dog! You actually drove the car off the lot?" He beamed at the man driving.
The man driving looked back, his face reflecting his concern. "Dean, you okay? How hard did that tree limb hit you?"
Jensen rubbed a hand over the top of his head. There was a large lump there. "Is that what hit me?" He frowned. "Jared, why do you keep calling me Dean?"
He had to grab the seat as the brakes squealed and the car was pulled to a swift stop at the side of the road. Once the car was in park, the man driving spun around in the seat to look deeply into Jensen's eyes.
"What was that?" he asked, more intensely than Jensen could remember Jared playing the part of Sam.
Jensen had to think hard to remember what he had just said. It was like the pain in his head was a thick blanket over his thoughts. "Um, why are you calling me Dean?"
The man's brows furrowed deeply. "We're going to a hospital. Now." His hand reached for the gear shift.
"Wait!" Jensen held up his hands. "Just a minute! Let me sit up front." He opened the back door. As he stood, a wave of dizziness hit him, bringing him to his knees. Jensen grabbed the passenger door to save himself from falling. As his vision cleared, he felt hands holding him up. "No, no, I got it," he protested, but the door was opened for him and the hands helped him inside. The slamming of the back door was like a huge bell going off in his head. He buried his head in his hands.
The car drove slowly onto the road. When he could look up again, Jensen noticed it was night and they were driving slowly. He did not recognize the road. It did not look like any of the access roads on the set.
"Where are we?" Jensen asked softly, the pounding in his head making any loud noises impossible.
"This is the way to the hospital." Dean. The word hung between them, even though it was unspoken. Jensen chose not to respond. Maybe at the hospital Jared would explain the joke. But if he needed to go to the hospital, why didn't the studio take him or call an ambulance? Why were they in the Impala?
Bright lights blazed through the night, searing Jensen's eyes. He squinted against the light. "What's that?" Nothing was making sense. If only the pain would go away so he could think.
"That would be the local hospital." He reached across Jensen to open the glove compartment. The familiar wooden box was pulled out and the man Jensen knew as Jared rifled through it. "Here we go. Insurance and a credit card for Steven Milhouse. Can you remember that?" His eyes searched Jensen's.
Jensen tried to nod, but the pain prohibited it. "Yeah, I think so. But why do I need to?" He reached into his pocket for his wallet. He pulled out a wallet, but it wasn't his. "Damn. This is Dean's," he muttered.
The man behind the driver's wheel frowned at him. "Of course it's Dean's. Whose did you think it was?"
Jensen squinted at the face that looked so much like Jared, except it lacked the familiar mirth and humor of Jared. "You're not Jared, are you?"
He sighed heavily. "Wait a minute so I can help you get out."
Jensen opened the door. He felt like he should be able to stand up on his own. Before the Jared-look-alike could walk to his side of the car, Jensen tried to stand up. Oddly, his legs were not as muscular as they should have been. Instead of bone and muscle, his legs seemed to be filled with thick jelly. He sank slowly toward the pavement. Those strong hands lifted him up before he reached the ground.
"Thanks," he mumbled. His vision blurred again and he could only see what was directly in front of him. His peripheral vision had turned into a black cloud ringing everything. Jensen felt himself being steered toward the emergency room doors as the blackness overtook him again.
He could see the bright lights even through closed eyelids. Dean held up a hand to shade his eyes before daring to look around.
"He's awake!" An unfamiliar voice whispered.
Dean squinted against the light. He was in a hospital room, surrounded by strange faces, except one. He spotted his brother and gave him a weak smile. "Get the number of that truck?"
The man laughed, a little louder than he should. He stood up, "Okay, he's alright. Everybody out." He ushered all the strangers out of the room before returning to stand by Dean's bed. "You gave us a bit of a scare there."
"Us?" Dean propped himself up in bed. His head throbbed from where the branch had hit him.
"Yeah. Me, that guest director, the producers, the whole crew. Everyone has been waiting to see if you were okay." He grinned. "You really shouldn't scare us like that."
"Yeah, right." Dean rubbed a hand across his face. He felt where his gun should have been, but that spot was empty. He decided to take the chance anyway. "So, where is my brother?"
"Your brother?" The man who looked so much like Sammy was confused. "Um, probably at home. Why? You want me to call him for you?" He reached for his cell. "How about your sister, or your parents? Want to call them, too? I talked to your parents earlier and they're really worried. You should probably call them." He searched for the number in his cell.
"My parents?" Dean stared at this man in amazement. "My parents are dead. All I have is my brother. Sam." He glared at the look-alike.
Jared froze, his eyes slipping across his friend's face. He put his cell away. "You know, I think I'm going to go find that doctor. Be right back." He paused at the door. "Don't go anywhere before I get back. Okay?" When Dean did not answer, his voice became more insistent, more Sam-like. "Okay?"
Dean nodded, the pain rolling in his head. "Yeah, whatever." The instant pseudo-Sam was gone; Dean swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He waited for the wave of dizziness to pass. With both hands firmly planted on the hospital bed, he slipped off the edge to his feet. The dizziness hit him again, but Dean was ready. He ignored the swaying room and the feeling of being on a ship in a storm. It did not last long. As soon as the room settled down to just a ship in motion, Dean lifted one hand off the bed. He reached for the hospital closet that was stubbornly swinging just out of reach. Dean growled to himself, stretching harder. "Son-of-a-bitch!"
"Jensen!" The man who looked like Sam ran into the room, grabbing him. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" He scooped Dean up like he weighed nothing and deposited him back on bed. He pointed an angry finger at Dean. "Didn't you promise not to do anything until I got back?"
"No. I said I wouldn't go anywhere. I'm still here."
"Jerk." He was still glaring at Dean.
"Bitch." A lopsided smile lifted one side of Dean's face.
The man who looked and sometimes even acted like his brother turned pointedly back to the door. "You see?"
A tall woman with gray streaked hair wearing a white lab coat stood in the doorway. She nodded. "It is not uncommon in cases of head injuries for the patient to become confused to the point of identifying with imaginary characters."
The man who looked like Sam nodded knowingly. He asked, "Can you give me that again, Doc? This time in English?"
"I said, sometimes taking a blow to the head can make a person think they are someone they are not."
Dean chuckled. "College boy." His voice was derisive and teasing.
Jared's eyes flicked back over Dean's face. His brow furrowed as he stared at Dean's forehead.
"How long do you want him to stay, Doc?" His voice was softer now, but his eyes never left Dean's forehead.
"At least overnight for observation. He is suffering from a mild concussion. But if he is also suffering from an identity crisis…"
"No. My mistake," Jared cut her off. "He's just rehearsing lines from the show. Right Jensen?"
Dean flashed one of his more charming smiles at the doctor. "Just rehearsing, doctor." He gave her a wink.
She smiled back. "Well, that is a relief." She stepped closer to the bed. The doctor leaned down to whisper, "I haven't watched Days since you left." With a girlish grin, she checked his chart again before she left.
Dean pointed to the closet. "Get my clothes. We're getting out of here."
Jared was frowning. "Where did you get that scar?"
A sigh escaped Dean's lips. "Which one?"
"Here," Jared pointed to his forehead.
"Car crash." When Jared kept staring at him, Dean continued, "Eighteen wheeler. Should've died." He jabbed a finger toward the closet. "Clothes?"
Jared bit his lip in indecision.
Sam was talking in low voices with the doctor in the hall outside his brother's room. "So you're saying people under extreme stress can not only contract amnesia following a blow to the head, but may actually change personas? I've never heard of that."
"It is rare, but there are documented cases," the doctor said with a short nod. He was a young doctor, maybe the same age as Dean. He had short, straight black hair that swept across his forehead and gold-rimmed glasses. Sam did not look happy.
"I am sorry, but if that is what is happening with your brother, my advice is to play along. Go with it. But try to get him back in his normal routine as soon as possible. Keep him around familiar places, familiar people. He should snap back within a few hours, maybe days."
"Days!" The anguish in Sam's voice touched the doctor.
"Look, I'm sorry. We should keep him overnight for observation, he has a slight concussion. But if you take him home tonight, right away, maybe…" he shrugged.
"Okay. Thank you, doctor." Sam's head hung down in defeat. With heavy steps he returned to his brother's room. It looked like Dean was awake. Sam forced a smile on his face.
"Hey. How are you feeling? The doctor said we can go as soon as you feel ready." Sam stuffed his hands into his pants pockets.
Jensen groaned. "You're kidding. I don't have a concussion?"
Sam shrugged. "He said it was pretty mild."
Jensen blinked against the hospital lights. There was something very wrong here. "They don't want to keep me for observation? What about the studio? What do they want me to do?"
Sam took a deep breath, the smile widening on his face. "They told me to get you out of here. When you're ready."
Jensen rubbed his eyes. He looked around. The room seemed steady enough and the throbbing in his head was less intense. "Okay, give me a few minutes, then hand me my clothes." Jensen leaned back into the thin hospital pillows and closed his eyes. The sound of someone sitting in the chair next to his bed reached his ears. He had the uncomfortable feeling that he was being watched. Jensen cracked open one eye. A pair of light brown eyes were staring at him from a worried face.
Jensen sat up again. "Okay, just hand me my clothes."
Sam leapt up, wrenched open the closet door, threw the clothes onto the bed. "Need any help?"
Jensen just shot him a look. Sam held up both hands. "Just asking. I'll be outside the door."
He grumbled something about pushy doctors as he pulled on the clothes. Jensen noticed these were Dean's clothes, not his. He rubbed his forehead, still not understanding what exactly was going on here. Jared was acting really weird, weirder than usual. And where were the producers? They flocked all around Jared when he broke his wrist on the set. They even had to write it into the show.
Jensen lay back on the bed to pull on the boots. It took him a minute to catch his breath after the exertions.
"Ready?' Sam rolled in a wheelchair, ready to be cussed out.
Jensen waved him closer. Confused, Sam moved the chair closer to the bed. Jensen sat up, waited a moment, grasped one handle of the chair. With a deep breath, he moved off the bed into the chair. His head pounded furiously, waves of pain threatening to start shoving pieces of his brain out his ears. He rested his head in his hands.
"Dean?" A warm hand grasped his shoulder.
"I'll live," he muttered. "And don't call me Dean. I'm not in the mood."
He felt the chair being pushed out of the room. "Okay. So what should I call you? John Bono?"
"Jensen," he was still talking into his hands. "Just call me Jensen."
"Right. Jensen." The man pushing the chair was silent for a while. Jensen heard the automatic doors slide open and then shut behind them. "So who did he play for?" The chair tilted down a ramp.
"Who?" Jensen tried looking up. They were outside. It was still night. The lights over the hospital parking lot were not as blinding now as they had been earlier.
"Jensen. Doesn't sound familiar. Who did he play for?"
Jensen looked up into the man's face. There was a pain there he could not identify. That feeling that this was not Jared washed over him, stronger than it did before. His mind reached out and grasped the first band to pop into his head. "Zepplin."
Sam shook his head. "No, I don't think so. That tree limb really did a number on you, didn't it?" Sam was kneeling down in front of him, putting himself at Jensen's eye level. His head tilted to the side as he stared into Jensen's face.
"Sam?" he asked wearily, a small part of him still hoping this was all an elaborate joke.
A bright smile lit the man's face. "Dean! Oh, man, you really had me scared there." He chuckled. "You were putting me on with that Jensen thing, weren't you?"
"I'm not sure," Jensen admitted, his stomach twisting into a hard knot.
"It's okay. Everything is going to be just fine. We'll get you back to the hotel, get a good night's sleep, and everything will look better in the morning. Okay?"
Jensen nodded as he hoped, hoped with every fiber of his being, that everything really would be better in the morning.
Dean scowled at the car Jared was driving. "This is embarrassing," he mumbled.
"What is?" Jared turned on his signal to turn. They usually stayed in their trailers while filming, but the studio called to suggest they stay in a hotel until Jensen was more himself. The hotel was not far from the hospital, conveniently.
"This car!" Dean slammed a hand on the dash. "Where is my car?" He crossed his arms to stare at Jared. "If you've lost my car…"
"I take it you're not talking about the rental, are you?" Jared sounded a little scared.
Dean let out a huge sigh, staring out the window. "Rehearsing lines, huh? So, what," he turned back to look at Jared, "you're an actor?"
Jared nodded, pulling up to the hotel valet parking. Dean did not get out. "What show?"
The valet attendant ran around to Jared's side of the car and opened the door. "Mr. Padalecki. So nice to have you staying with us again," the young man grinned at them.
Dean leaned forward. "Sorry, pal. We're on our way to the bar. Catch ya later." He gave Jared a small shove. "Let's go."
Jared gave the valet attendant an embarrassed smile as he reached for the door. The young man jumped out of the way, waving happily. "Sorry, didn't see you there, Mr. Ackles."
Dean smiled and waved back. "Come on, let's go," he grumbled under the smile. "I really need a beer."
Sam sat in the car, staring through the windshield at the neon sign glowing from the bar window. "You sure about this, Dean? I don't like it. The doctor did say you have a mild concussion." Sam's brow was furrowed as he looked at the man he thought was his brother.
"Trust me. I don't think I can get through this evening without alcohol." Jensen reached for the door handle. "Sam? Have we, uh, come to this bar before?"
Sam shook his head. "Just got into town late last night."
"Good." Jensen let out the breath he was holding.
Sam waited inside the car while Jensen got out. Jensen stood, stretched and took a deep breath. He leaned back down to look inside the car. "You comin' or what?"
Sam stepped out of the car. "I just don't like it, Dean." He leaned on the roof of the car. "You have a concussion. You don't need to be drinking."
Jensen shook his head. "Sam. You worry too much." He headed toward the door but Sam was still standing by the car. "Going in, with or without you." The door slammed shut behind him.
Sam groaned, resigned to following him inside. There were so many things wrong about Dean, but he knew that it was not a shapeshifter or demon. It had to be Dean. Dean with a concussion and maybe an identity crisis. As he entered the bar, the smoke billowing out the door, Sam's eyes searched rapidly until they hit Dean. He was sitting at a table in the far corner. Sam frowned. Dean usually preferred sitting at the bar. He made his way across the room to join him.
Jensen gave Sam a small wave as he approached the table. "Beers are on the way."
Sam nodded. "Good."
Dean drained his beer and waved to the waitress to bring him another. "So you're telling me, you and this Jensen guy play me and my brother on a television show?" He chuckled when Jared nodded. "And people watch it?"
"We have a very loyal fan base." Jared said. "But the show is still pretty new. We're working on our ratings." Jared leaned back in his chair, holding his beer.
"Dude. If a story about us is on tv, your society is pretty fucked up." Dean laughed. The waitress delivered his beer, grinning at his sparkling eyes. "But that…"
"Don't even think about it," Jared warned him. "Here, everyone thinks you're Jensen."
"So?" Dean's eyes were still following the waitress.
"So Jensen is not like that." Jared's voice was flat, uncompromising.
"You two are pretty close, huh? You're not?" Dean flopped his hand.
The front two legs of Jared's chair hit the floor with a thud. "What?"
Dean chuckled. "Dude. Just kidding." He flashed that smile that Jensen naturally had which conveyed all of Dean's personality in one shot.
"You better be," a southern drawl crept into Jared's voice. "I might take that personally."
"Whoa, dude. Calm down." Dean motioned at the beer still clutched in Jared's hand. "Drink up."
"Oh, crap." Jared's eyes were on the door. "Not today."
"What?" Jensen leaned over to look past Sam. "What is it?"
"Nothing. Nothing." Sam moved his chair to block Jensen's view. "Drink your beer."
Jensen frowned at him. "Sam? What are you hiding?"
Sam chuckled as he shook his head. "Relax, Dean. Nothing to worry about."
"Damn," Sam muttered, lifting the beer to his mouth.
A stocky man made his way across the bar, waving at them. "Hey man, you owe me a rematch!"
"Do I?" Jensen looked to Sam for clarification. Sam mouthed the word 'darts'. Jensen nodded.
"How about we buy you a beer instead? Not really feeling up to playing tonight." Jensen offered.
"Oh?" The stocky man drew himself to his full height. "Since when does Dean Winchester back down?"
"He isn't backing down," Sam protested. "He has-"
"Too much respect to beat you silly twice in a row," Jensen finished, confidence he did not feel surging through his words. His eyes narrowed on the stocky man. "Who are you again?"
The man chuckled. "Same old Dean. Come on. Regular bet?"
Sam was shaking his head. Jensen shrugged, standing up. He waited until the man was out of earshot to whisper to Sam, "Name? Regular bet?"
"Burt Simpson. Hunter. Fifty bucks."
"Got it." Jensen slipped into Dean's swagger to follow Burt.
"Sure you want to lose again?" He asked as he took the darts from Burt.
Burt sneered at him. "Pretty cocky, aren't ya? Somebody needs to take you down a notch, Dean."
"Well, you can try." Jensen nodded at the dartboard. There was a tug at his elbow. He was not surprised to see Sam hovering over his shoulder. "Relax, Sam," he whispered. "Darts are boring."
"Not that," Sam's eyes were roving across the bar. "I think I was wrong. We have been here before."
"Yeah?" Jensen followed Sam's gaze. Several men were glaring at them, and they did not look happy to see him holding those darts.
"I think you've hustled darts in here before."
"What? Who's that?" Dean leaned across the table for a better look. Intelligent, bright green eyes evaluated the man who just walked in.
"Nobody. Don't worry about it." Jared replied crossly.
Dean's eyes shifted back to Jared. "Can't be nobody for you to say it like that. Give."
"He's just a jerk. Ignore him, okay?" Jared sipped his beer.
"Does this Jensen guy ignore him?" Dean asked.
Jared gave a shrug. "Jensen handles him pretty well. He has a knack for dealing with jerks. I wind up just fighting them."
A smile spread across Dean's face. "No kidding?"
"Don't," Jared warned. "Jensen doesn't need the bad publicity, and the show doesn't either."
"We'll see. I don't like the idea of some jerk picking on the guy who plays me." Dean's face was deadly serious. "Maybe I can take care of this for him."
Jared waved a hand in front of Dean's face. "What part of 'don't' do you not understand?"
Jared shook his head. "Just drink your beer so we can go back to the hotel."
"Well, well, well, if it isn't the actors." The voice cut through the background bar noise. Jared looked so much like Sam when he rolled his eyes, Dean felt homesick. "Slumming, guys?"
"Just here for the beer," Jared replied, refusing to make eye contact as the man hovered over his shoulder.
"And you?" He was a large man who obviously thought his physical stature was intimidating. Although Dean stood a full head shorter than Sam, he had taken down men much bigger and better built than this jerk.
"Wondering why this place doesn't have higher standards."
Color rose in the man's cheeks. Jared's head fell forward in defeat.
"What?" the man asked, obviously trying hard to control his voice.
"I said, apparently they will let anyone in here." A lopsided smile played across Dean's face. Jared was still looking down, shaking his head. Dean kicked him under the table. When Jared looked up, startled, Dean shot him a glare. It was so familiar from the show, Jared automatically fell into the glare exchange. This time Dean won.
The man's face was red now. He leaned on their table. "So, do you want to take this outside?"
Dean, unperturbed, looked calmly up. "Why? Afraid to let everyone see me kick your ass?" He took a sip of his beer.
The man shook with rage, his hands twitching on their table.
"That did it," Jared murmured. "Good job."
Dean's bright smile flashed at him.
"That wasn't a compliment," Jared pointed out.
"Sure it was," Dean pushed back from the table. "Watch my beer. Be back in a minute."
Jared shook his head. "We are so gonna get kicked out of here." He sighed. "And I kinda liked this place."
Dean faced the man who was looking for a fight. He grinned, trying to goad the guy into taking the first swing. It did not take much. Dean stepped back, easily avoiding a right cross. His grin broadened. "That all you got?"
"He's kinda in a mood today," Jared stood to tower over the jerk. "You should probably just back off."
Confused, the angry man took a couple of steps back. Jared nodded to Dean to sit down. Dean sighed, disappointed he would not be allowed to fight. As Dean turned to sit, he spotted something out of the corner of his eye.
As Jensen turned to look at Sam, he spotted movement out of the corner of his eye. Something brown was hurtling through the air at them. Years of baseball practice leave reflexes that often stun the uninitiated. Jensen's hand shot out, snagging the brown bottle out of the air inches from Sam's face. Anger flooded through him.
"Who threw this?"
Dean held the bottle, his eyes fixed on the guilty. He scanned the bar quickly. Several of the men seated looked familiar. This would not be a clean fight.
"Dean?" Sam's voice was soft in his ear. "I think there's a back door."
He felt a gun pressed into his free hand. Dean grasped it and turned it on the room. Keen eyes picked out the only man glaring at him without a bottle in his hands.
"Dean! Come on!"
Dean backed away from the room. He paused. This was not the same bar he was in a moment ago.
"Dean, what is it?"
"Sammy? Is that you?" His eyes never left the room.
"Who else? Come on!"
Dean grinned. He hefted the beer bottle and took aim.
Jensen's eyes landed on the jerk who regularly hassled them. "Oh, it was you, was it?" He hefted the bottle in his hand, deliberating on whether or not to throw it.
The manager swooped into the room from behind the bar. "Mr. Ackles, we can take care of this for you," he promised, holding out his hand for the bottle.
Jensen continued to glare at the jerk. "If I see him in here again, I'm going Dean on him." He handed over the bottle.
"Come on," he motioned to Jared.
Jared jumped to his feet, following his friend outside. He opened the car door and was surprised to see a look of relief on his companion's face.
"What is it?"
Jensen met his eyes. "You are Jared, right?"
Jared nodded slowly. "Jensen?"
He nodded back. They stared at each other for a few moments before Jared started chuckling. It was contagious. Jensen chuckled. Next thing they knew, they were hanging onto each other and laughing hysterically.
"Man, you have no idea how well you do Dean," Jared told him after they had finally settled down and climbed into the rental car.
"You do a pretty mean Sam, too," Jensen replied.
"Yeah? I want to hear all about at the hotel."
"Hotel?" Jensen looked worried.
"Yeah, the producers thought we should stay at a hotel until you're feeling better. It's close to the hospital."
Jensen sank into the seat with a huge grin on his face. All was right with the world.
Sam kept reaching over to grasp Dean's arm or shoulder as they drove down the road.
"Still here. It's still me," Dean replied without bothering to open his eyes.
"It's just, you were so…" Sam's voice trailed off.
"Yeah, I know." Dean smiled to himself. "I'm fine now. Just keep your eyes on the road. If you wreck my car, I'll kick your ass."
Sam grinned into the night. For the moment, all was right with the world.