A/N: OMG OMG did she finally update? SHE DID! Are all of her prompts for her muse journal going to be late this month? THEY ARE! Does she care?! Actually she does a bit, because the mods might kick her and her poor abused Alec out. Crazy people, following rules.

Why is Karasu referring to herself in third person? She has no clue!

Why is she abusing exclamation points? It amuses her.

She would like to apologize for taking six months to get the chapter out and for any coronary incidents that happened as a result of the sudden appearance of said chapter.

Chapter Fifteen

It wasn't an area of the hospital meant for patients. Hell, it didn't look like it was meant for anyone but brass, and sure as shit not for one guy in a combination of civvie clothes and hospital chic. He was padding around in bare feet – screw socks, they were a recipe for disaster if he needed to move fast, needed to have traction – his own cargo pants, and one of those stupid hospital smock tops. It was a concession he had had to make in deference to the IV and pole he was still toting around with him. Normal shirts and IV catheters just were not a couple that would dance together.

They had all looked at him funny when he had flatly refused to wear the blue smock that Susie had brought him that morning. He wasn't explaining and he wasn't budging on it. No one needed to know that it reminded him far too much of Manticore Medical and Psych. Of his helpless childhood. He just out-waited them until they had come up with one that was tan with stupid little triangles.

His restlessness seemed to actually please Doc Collin. It had always pissed off the monsters back home, so he was totally floored when he was told and even encouraged to walk around. As long as he had company, of course. That wasn't going to be a problem. He thought he might honestly puke from anxiety if he ended up somewhere in this place alone. He had never realized how afraid he felt around medical until he had been allowed to feel it. Interesting how that worked. He wasn't sure he was ready for whatever else was hiding in the dark of his mind, but there was no point in buying trouble.

He was fine for now. Sam and Dean were only a yard or so behind him. He could still smell them, so he had time alone without being alone. He may have been in a place not meant for patients, but he wasn't phased, and moved through the hall with a combination of pure feline arrogance and training that showed him how to fit in anywhere from city slums to the dinner tables of royalty.

Then he saw her, and the rest of the world could go hang. His hand went up and tangled in the long black leather cord tied around his neck. Dean had given it to him that morning, along with the gold locket. The older man hadn't said a word, just shrugged and moved on to stealing Alec's breakfast. Alec had quietly and gratefully taken the locket off its broken chain and slipped it onto the cord, knotted the ends, and slipped it over his head and under the stupid triangle printed smock. He gave the chain back to Dean, who just slipped it into his wallet.

His other hand reached out and slid along the smooth black surface of the baby grand piano. "Hey, baby. Aren't you a pretty thing?" He circled until he came around to the keys. "Are they taking good care of you?" He tapped a middle C and then used a foot to hook the bench out and sit down. Once he had himself where he wanted, he ran through a scale. "Could be worse." He did it again, closing his eyes and tipping an ear.

He opened his eyes to see Dean leaning a shoulder into the wall nearby, watching him, Sam only a step behind. He decided he didn't care. He didn't want to talk about it. He didn't even want to think about the swamp of emotion and memory that came with seeing this baby. Memory that they had tried and failed to take, even though they had nearly killed him trying. He didn't want to think about how that locket felt suddenly heavy on its cord. He just wanted to tune this girl up and then slide his fingers over the keys.

He slid from the bench and back around to the side of the piano, nearly tripping over the IV, but just dancing around it on his short leash because he knew someone would throw a hissy if he got rid of it. He had won the battle over the sling for his shoulder. It hurt, but it was worth it for the freedom of movement he gained. He knew better than to push Dean's temper. In deference to that, he used his right hand to lift the lid of the piano and propped it open with his left. After a moment he reached in, found the wire he was looking for, and tweaked it tighter. Then he stretched out and reached around to tap the corresponding key. "Better." He repeated the process and smiled before moving on to start tuning the rest of the piano.

At this point his back was to his brothers, so he didn't see Sam's jaw drop. Nor did he see the man walking over to him with purpose, though he sure could hear him. First his footsteps, then his voice. "You can't do that."

"Sure I can, dude. I mean, clearly I can. Because I am."

"This piano is only here for functions."

"Just one, actually. Shut up a second." In the brief moment of stunned silence, he hit another key and tightened another wire.


"She's only got one function. She's a musical instrument. They're kinda built to be one trick ponies, you know?" Alec heard Dean's amused snort and Sam's snicker.

"This piano is the property of this hospital and is not meant to be a toy to amuse patients. It is only to be handled by a professional."

She actually hadn't needed that much adjustment. Alec stood up to face the man. He was tall enough, though still shorter than Alec, thin, and too officious for his own good. Alec might have understood the possessive indignation if the piano had belonged to him, but she didn't. The only thing that belonged to this man was his own ego. Suddenly Alec was tired. He wasn't in the mood to deal with anyone's crap. He just wanted to play for a while and be left alone. "Then shut the hell up and leave me alone." The look he shot the man was the same one he had used to silence a ranking military officer when he was done screwing around. The pencilneck didn't stand a chance.

He settled back onto the bench, ignored the ache in his shoulder and the way the Ace Bandage and IV annoyed him. The first thing that flowed from his fingers was Grande Valse Brillante, without his even thinking about what he wanted to play. He was almost two minutes through the piece when it shattered to halt with a discordant rattle. No more Chopin. He had learned to hate Chopin.

Prokofiev most likely wasn't the most intelligent thing to start off with, since he hadn't played in well over a year. It also wasn't an intelligent thing to play with one hand having its full span hampered by pulling tape and wrapping. But that was why he picked it. It was something that would currently be difficult and would take concentration.

After that he just let himself move from piece to piece and composer to composer without real thought. There was a certain amount of freedom to it. No one at Manticore had ever just left him alone to play.

He opened his eyes, honestly startled when his fingers became tangled and he botched up. He looked at his hands like they had betrayed him, which they had, in a way. He played again. And botched again. This time his hands shook. Before he could do much but glare, Dean's hand closed around his wrist. "Okay, Mozart. I think you've had enough."

Alec shook his head. "No. I messed up."

"Yeah. I get that, Little Toaster. Your hands are shaking and you look a little pasty. Those girly freckles of yours are standing out real nice."

"You have freckles too." Somehow he thought that out of all the things to be said, that might be near the bottom of what he should have come up with.

"Yeah, but mine aren't girly, kid."

"Where's Sam?" Alec blinked at Dean's hand. It looked like his. Maybe it was. Things were suddenly a little fuzzy. Things like his head.

"He went on ahead to let Doc Collin or hot nurse of choice that it looks like you're getting ready to do an amazing impression of a dashboard wobbly-headed doll or a washing machine."

"Oh." Alec thought about that for a minute. "I don't feel very good."

"You don't look so good, either. Maybe because I'm the pretty one." Alec felt an arm slide around his waist and a hand tuck up under his elbow and then suddenly he was standing. "Think you can walk if I wrangle your skinny girlfriend?"

"What?" Alec blinked at Dean.

"The IV pole, kid. Come on." Dean unwrapped his arm from around Alec's waist. After a little shuffling, he got one hand on Alec's elbow and the other towing the IV pole along.

Alec was, quite frankly, a little bothered. His head usually wasn't this foggy, unless someone had drugged him. Which they were. He was almost upset and then remembered that Dean wouldn't let anyone hurt him. At least from the outside.

Didn't change much on the inside, though. He was still full of sharp things that he didn't think should be there. Shouldn't be broken. "Careful," he said, and Dean gave him a questioning look. "You'll cut your fingers on the glass."

"What glass?" Dean had them walking along carefully.

"Between my bones." He could feel it. Grinding and stabbing. Between every joint. With every step.

"Right." Dean smiled at the next person he saw wearing scrubs. "Just the person I was looking for." The poor man looked baffled, but Dean didn't seem to care. "I kinda need a wheelchair here."

"Sir . . . ?"

"Look, my brother's having a seizure. Wheelchair? Before his knees give?"

"M'fine," Alec muttered, but then shivered hard. Dean wrapped an arm tight around his waist then, to keep him from going down.

"Uh huh."

Alec looked over at Dean, head resting against the man's shoulder. "You're taller than me. 'S not fair."

"Get used to it, kiddo." The startled guy in scrubs was back and Dean was pushing Alec down in the wheelchair the guy had supplied. "You're the shortest Winchester." Alec felt himself shiver again and gave the hovering scrubs guy a narrow look. He didn't like the guy looking at him.

"S'okay. 'M taller than Biggs." They were moving again.

There was Biggs again. Dean was pleased to have confirmation that it was definitely a person. "Who's Biggs?" He looked down at Alec and walked them both quickly back up to the kid's room. The mysteries were just piling up.


"Yeah? By blood? I gotta bust someone else out?"

"He got me out." After a minute, Alec offered up: "Not blood. Doesn't matter."

Dean didn't like the short answers he was getting. The kid wasn't normally what one would call laconic. And only Sam would use that word out loud to describe anyone. "You having trouble breathing again, kid?"

"Maybe a little?"

"Uh huh."

Yeah, Dean didn't like this one bit.


There was one thing that CeCe wanted out of life right now. Just one thing. It would make the whole day worth it. Make the slightly restrictive business suit tailored to her to politely conceal a gun okay. And the heels, too. And the little barrettes that pulled her hair back.


Something big, in an actual ceramic mug. With whipped cream, chocolate, and coffee. In that order. And excessive amounts of each. Especially the chocolate. There was, of course, none in Manticore aside from what was available for testing. In the beginning, when she'd been younger, she had felt guilty that something that had made some of her sibs so ill had been nothing but pleasure for her.

She'd quickly gotten over it when she had found a tiny bar of it in one of her MREs while on a field mission. She also felt not a twinge of guilt when she'd stolen Kip's bar as well. It wasn't like he was going to eat it.

It was her reward for good behavior. If she smiled pretty and didn't murder her charge or any of the people around him, the Colonel had said that she could have ten dollars out of the cash she had been supplied with and an hour alone off the leash to enjoy whatever it could buy her.

As it turned out, her charge was a perfectly tolerable foreign dignitary. She was his bodyguard. Nothing too horrible. Small talk in private, get him to and from where he needed to go for the next few days, and then back home safely. No problem. Right now he was under the care of Secret Service and she was officially off the clock for just a little while.

She wouldn't need long to find a Starbucks. This was Washington D.C. As far as she could tell, the government ran on four things: ego, money, military might, and a solid ton of people that didn't get any credit for keeping those other things moving smoothly. Those people ran on coffee.

She was already scanning the street for a place when she felt the gun press into her back and a casual arm wrap around her shoulders from behind to give the gun holder an excuse to be that close. She shuddered, a horrible feeling flooding through her as soon as he pressed into her personal space.

Her body coiled, tight, ready to fight but wanting to run. She was too well-trained for that., and too much of a bitch to give in to it. It wasn't the gun that was pressed into her lower spine with practiced and professional calm that frightened her. Guns didn't frighten her.

This was something else. Something that crawled up her spine from the inside, burning cold. Her lip curled up in something that might be considered a smile if you didn't know better. Most people didn't. It was a bit of a smile, but it was the kind that would make a person back away if they had seen it on the tiger that was hidden in her DNA.

"Don't think that these heels mean I can't kick your ass." Her tone was even and casual and she walked where he directed without complaint. Maybe she would drive one of the heels into his eye, just for frightening her. And for getting between her and her froofy coffee.

There was a reason she was often picked for bodyguard duty. Part of it was appearances. Women seemed less like a threat or a show of power. The other reason was that she didn't need a weapon. Out off her entire unit, she was the best as hand-to-hand combat. All she needed was for the danger to be within arms' reach.

So for now she went along with things. She sniffed and then sneezed. "You roll in matches this morning?"

"Shut it and walk."

She did. Even his voice bothered her. Maybe it was the way that there seemed to be nothing unusual about it at all, but it gave her the creeps. Fur she didn't have was trying to stand on end.

They rounded the building and headed toward the back, where there was a van parked and an angry looking man dressed in a business suit waiting. They exchanged some sort of greeting in a language she didn't know. That was odd, since she spoke five languages fluently and had a passing acquaintance with three more. She decided that she wasn't getting into that van.

Faster than the eye could see, she spun to the side and grabbed the gunman's arm, pivoting in place. The momentum carried her attacker away from her to slam into the building's outside wall with bone-jarring force.

He merely grinned at her and twitched his fingers in a come forward motion. She took an involuntary step closer. CeCe didn't know how an Ordinary had come to have powers like some of the X0s that had been put down, but she wasn't letting the mystery slow her down any. If he wanted her closer, that's what he was going to get.

She picked up the pace all on her own and slammed into the man like a freight train, leading with the heel of her hand. She was done screwing around. Her hand caught his chin and forced his head back with a sickening wet crunch of shattering bone as his neck broke.

She spun to face the man by the van, unsure of how he was going to take the rather timely demise of his cohort. That probably explained why she was taken so off guard when the broken-necked man grabbed her and pinned her arms to her sides with brutal force.

"Get it into the damned van before this gets out of hand," the angry man snapped. CeCe hissed and struggled, and when the hold on her tightened she gave a growling snarl when she couldn't get away. She had killed the man holding her. She knew she had. She didn't make mistakes like that. The other guy didn't even find it weird that she was being toted around by a dead man?

CeCe lifted and planted her shoes on the edge of the van as the dead man tried to shove her in. She used the heels to hook the edge so her feet wouldn't slide, but he shoved so hard that she had to either fold her legs up on her own or risk them being broken. She choose to avoid injury. No one should be this strong except another X5.

Once she was in the van, still being held tightly enough that she was losing feeling in her lower arms, the first man, the one that wasn't the walking dead, slapped a cuff around one of her wrists and then hooked the other half through a metal loop in the floor of the van. The seats had all been taken out. She guessed the loop was a mooring for one of the missing seats.

They both moved back out of her striking distance and she yanked at her trapped wrist. She felt her mouth open in horror when the links between the cuffs didn't separate. All she got was jolting pain all the way up to her shoulder. The fuckers had cuffs strong enough to hold her. She bared her teeth at them and yanked again anyway. She could get free if she was willing to break bones.

Both of her captors seemed amused at her struggle. The one that wasn't the walking dead left the van and slammed the doors closed. Her head whipped around when he settled into the driver's seat, shut that door as well, and started the van.

Her attention tracked back to the one that she had supposedly killed, and he grinned. She couldn't look away, even though the van had started moving and she wanted to see where they were headed. She felt herself shrink away from him when his eyes filled with black and his grin took on an edge that she didn't want to even be near. "Our master wants a word with you, kitten." He reached out a hand towards her face and she kicked him in the ribs for it, feeling the bones give under the pressure. The man's grin didn't waver. "He wants to know what's in your pretty little head."

"Shit!" The word was loud and startled and came from the driver's seat. CeCe turned and caught sight of a man standing in the road right before the van swerved to avoid hitting him.

That was when things got, if possible, even weirder and more frightening. The van's sudden swerve had carried them onto a ramp leading into a parking garage, and the speed they had been traveling at kept them moving forward despite the applied breaks. That wasn't weird. That was just physics

What was weird was when the man with the black eyes was yanked off of her by an invisible hand and slammed into the back doors of the van. The van jerking to a halt immediately afterwards and spinning like the black eyed man was a pivot point was frightening as fuck all. It was as if there was a line that the dead man couldn't cross and the entire van had been yanked around as a result.

There was no way that CeCe could lie to herself and pretend that she was anything other than terrified. The rear doors calmly opened from the outside and a pleased-looking older man in a sweater and jeans yanked the black-eyed man out, dropping him unceremoniously onto the ground before taking a few quick steps backwards. That didn't make CeCe feel any better.

The black-eyed man lunged and hit an invisible wall. "This won't stop him, you know. You can send me back and others will take my place."

"True. But you can serve as an object lesson."

"What the hell is going on?" This came from the driver as he came storming around to the back of the van.

"Hell being the operative word here, Ames. Good to see you, son." The older man smiled a little, like this was all perfectly normal.

"I'm not your son anymore," the driver growled, and stalked towards the older man.

"Don't cross that line." The older man pointed up, at something CeCe couldn't see.

"What the fuck is that?" Ames asked, looking up at the ceiling of the parking garage ramp.

"It's a devil's trap. Made for holding people like our friend here."

"I thought you were crazy before, leaving us to go and make these – " The driver's lip curled in disgust. " – these creatures." He gestured at CeCe.

"Yeah, fuck you too, buddy." She curled a lip up right back, some of the ice leaving her spine now that the black eyed man wasn't so close. She wished she could see the roof and this theoretical trap that had made the van spin.

"Ames, I want you to listen to me very carefully," the older man said. CeCe didn't think he was used to being disobeyed.

"I stopped listening to you a long time ago." With that, the driver, Ames, drew a gun and pointed it at the older man. CeCe had to admit she hadn't expected what followed: a quick struggle and the older man ending up with the gun.

"Fine, if you won't listen, then watch." The older man shot the black-eyed man in the heart.

CeCe snorted. "Won't matter. I already broke his neck." She was right. The dead man just stood back up and leered at them. It had at least shocked Ames. Apparently, he really hadn't noticed when she had killed him the first time.

"You can hate me all you like," the older man said, "but I know you care for your little boy. My grandson. This is what he's going to become if you don't open your eyes and start taking a look at what's going on. He'll be nothing but a meat suit for a demon." He lowered the gun. "It's true that we're bred to be better. But when the end comes we'll be nothing but bodies for them to use. I don't want that for you. Or for Ray. That's why I left. To find a way to stop it." After that he turned back to the twice-dead man and started speaking in a language that CeCe didn't know. The man started to scream. The words rose and fell in rhythm and she understood enough to know that they were religious.

The screaming man threw his head back, but it wasn't another shout that came out this time. It was smoke. Black, poisonous smoke. She cringed away from it. It was an instinct she couldn't fight. The man's body fell in a loose-limbed way that told her he was finally dead. The smoke swirled and then was sucked down through the ground. With it gone, she finally felt the fear leave her.

Ames was still standing silent, angry and stunned. The older man climbed into the van and started to fiddle with the lock on her cuffs. "You made us?" CeCe decided to focus on what she could understand.

"Yes. Well, not all of you personally, but yes." The cuff fell away from her wrist and he sat back a little to look at her.

"What's your name?" She was pretty sure she knew the answer, and indignant anger bubbled through her in anticipation of the confirmation.

"Malcolm Sandeman."

That was the answer she had thought she would get, but she wanted to be absolutely sure before she did anything. "You made 494. Personally. Right?"

"Yes, I did."

"Thought so." She punched him. Hard. Hard enough that he fell over. Hard enough that he fell out of the van. She knew that the man that had made 494 had been one of the people to mess with him later. He had been the man to take some of her brother's memories and his name. He'd had a good pop to the face coming for years.

Ames turned and raised his eyebrows at her and Sandeman. "Seems like you have a lot of fans today. Even your Frankenstein monsters are against you."

CeCe climbed out of the van and straightened her clothes. "Don't you fucking start with me. I've had about enough and I'm not above shoving one of my boot heels through your eye." Ames wasn't tall, and she looked him dead in the eye, a silent challenge.

Sandeman broke the battle of wills by stepping between them and actively blocking CeCe's view. "Perhaps we should take this conversation somewhere more civilized?"

"I want coffee and answers. Now." CeCe paused. "And I am so not cleaning up that body."


Dean perched on the windowsill. It wasn't nearly wide enough for him to actually plant his ass on comfortably, but he held himself there by bracing his feet against the arm of the easy chair. From here he could watch Sam, Alec, and the door through which he expected any number of people. The one he wanted to see the most was Doc Collin.

Sam was the elected kitten plushy of the hour and thus, as was his duty, was taking up space on the bed next to Alec. The most recent seizure and the medication to curb it had left Alec disoriented and prone to panic, so to save everyone some trouble, Sam and Dean had just taken turns sitting next to him. At least, that was what Dean had told Sam, but in reality his nefarious plan had worked out perfectly and Sam had fallen asleep ten minutes into his shift, getting some much needed rest.

It was a tight fit on the bed, but neither Sam nor Alec seemed to mind. Sam was sprawled out, having stolen one of Alec's pillows. The book he had been reading had long since fallen from his spidery thin fingers. The dark circles under his eyes were finally starting to lighten up a bit.

Alec, on the other hand, had curled into a ball about even with Sam's hip. They had bundled him up in blankets again without being asked. Dean had realized that the need for warmth wasn't about temperature after hearing some of the horrors that Alec had lived through. It was about safety. If he was warm then he was safe. Dean could see Alec's head where he was using Sam's thigh as a pillow, one hand sticking out from underneath the blankets. It was the hand with the IV line, and he had that thing to monitor his oxygen level clipped to his finger again. Dean was still trying to figure out how the laws of physics bent to allow the kid to fold himself into places that small. Alec's freckles still stood out too much against his pale skin, and he still had the oxygen tubing tucked under his nose, but at least he was peacefully asleep.

Dean ran a hand over his face. That morning, he had thought that maybe they had this seizure thing beat. Alec had been wound up tight and ready to go. He had been afraid that the kid was going to climb the walls until Doc Collin had informed them that if Alec wanted to explore then by all means let him.

It had been good to watch Alec when he was curious and cheerful instead of hurt and terrified. They had followed along behind Alec as he prowled along hallways, nosed into rooms, and peered around corners like a child playing spy. There was a sort of little boy glee about him as he had explored. In a fit of emotionality that he wouldn't admit to, Dean hoped like hell that they would see a lot more of that

Then there had been the piano. Alec had cozied right up to it the same way Sam threw himself at bookstores. It had been a hell of a show right from the beginning. Dean would admit he knew jack shit about the mechanics of a piano, but apparently Sam knew enough to know how one was tuned, and that to do it bare handed took the kind of hand strength that someone Alec's size had no right to have. Then had come the witty sniping at the administrator that proved that Sam really had named Alec well. The smart mouth was a permanent fixture. Their father had always said that Dean's smart mouth had come from their mother. Alec may have gotten that from Mary, but his temper seemed to be all John. He had shut that administrator down fast enough to impress a drill sergeant, and Dean made a mental note to never find out what happened when the kid was pushed past what he would tolerate.

Watching the kid play, though? Dean might not know a lot about the piano, but he knew good when he heard it. Alec was better than good. He also looked like he was stuck somewhere between bliss and pain when he played. Dean had been planning to ask him about it, or maybe about that gold locket, because it clearly meant a lot to Alec, just like the piano did. The most recent seizure had played merry hell with his plans.

It didn't help that Doc Collin had looked as worried as Dean had felt as he had dosed Alec full of God knew what to still the shaking. The doctor was never supposed to look worried. It was a cosmic rule or something. When the doctor looked worried, it was usually a signal to start with the panicking. Dean didn't approve of panicking.

Dean was about ready to give up the ghost and move his slightly numb rear from the windowsill to the easy chair to try and catch a nap. Supernatural evil he could deal with, but this whole medical emergency thing was going to drive him to start drinking heavily. It really wasn't a place he wanted to go.


"Look," Collin said about an hour later, in a manner that Dean felt was a little too final to be comforting, "it's like this. I tried to do this the quickest, and therefore possibly the dirtiest, way possible. I did it for a bunch of reasons. One, at the start you – " Here Collin pointed at Alec with his cheap disposable chopsticks – "were seizing too hard for me to think about any diagnostic criteria beside the two very basic facts that you were seizing and I had to stop it. Immediately if not sooner."

He paused to take a bite of his lo mein, and then shoved a carton of fried rice into Sam's empty hands. "Eat that or I'll let Dean force feed you." The look he snuck at Dean told him that big brother was more than happy to comply.

"Bad enough you got that emo hair, Sammy, but I refuse to be related to someone that's thin enough to be in a Calvin Klein ad." Dean kept staring until Sam wrinkled his nose and ate a mouthful of rice.

"Bully." A cubed carrot was flicked off Dean's forehead.

"Uh huh." Dean was clearly unimpressed by his brother.

Meanwhile, Alec was carefully dissecting and inspecting an egg roll. Collin watched as he poked a bit with his finger. "So," Alec said. The younger man didn't look up as he spoke, and Collin thought maybe it was to cover nerves. "What are you going to do to fix me now?"

It took Collin a minute to sort out what was wrong with that question. "I can't 'fix' you." Alec hunched in on himself and his inquisitive fingers stilled. "Epilepsy isn't something like that, Alec. All I can do is treat it. Try to make it easier for you, but . . ." He paused to make sure he found the right words, so he didn't frighten Alec back into the corner he was starting to come out from. "It's not like you have a faulty circuit that can just be replaced. Sometimes people are the way they are. We just have to learn to deal with it."

"We're not going to give you back or trade you in just 'cause you've got a couple of issues, kid," Dean added. "God knows if I was that picky I'd have given Sam back years ago."

"Jerk." There was another flying carrot.

"Bitch." The return volley was a pea.

"Okay," Alec said. Collin considered it a win that Alec was still willing to speak up. "If the stuff I'm getting now isn't cutting it – and I know it isn't 'cause I feel like shit – what are we going to do?"

Collin sighed. Now came the hard part. "What we really need to know is exactly what kind of seizures you're having. Where they're coming from, and maybe what your brain is trying to do to itself while you have them. If I can sort that out, then I can stop hitting you with broad span medications and tailor things tighter to what will be useful to you."

"That – I – no. No. You can't do that to me." Alec pushed back away from them and into the bed.

Collin pushed back as well and pulled the table with him, not wanting Alec to hurt himself in his uncoordinated scramble. "Jesus, what did they do to you in that place?" he asked under his breath. He had known it would be a battle, but nothing he had said so far should have caused this kind of panic.

Alec just looked up at him with those wide kitten eyes while Dean tried to get a hold on him. Moments later, Dean was settled beside the young man, with an arm around Alec's waist and his wrists trapped in his other hand. "Okay. I promised I wouldn't let anyone hurt you. So just breathe." He shook Alec a little. "Breathe." Once he was satisfied, he looked up at Collin. "Exactly what are you suggesting?"

Collin sat back down but kept his distance, and blew out a sharp breath. "I want an EEG."

Sam, who had stiffened up like a board, relaxed a bit. "That's just an image thing. Right?"

"Mostly." Collin held up his hands to Alec. "Nothing invasive. No needles, no drugs. Nothing that will hurt you." He let out a breath when Alec stopped the feeble struggling against Dean.

"Then why haven't we done it before now?" Dean asked, as he slowly let go of Alec's wrists but noticeably kept an arm around the kid.

"Because it's an active image of his brain waves. I think the only way it'll tell us what we need to know is if he's having a seizure at the time." Collin looked Alec in the eye then. "I didn't want to have to let that happen to you on purpose. I don't want to do that to you. But I think it'll give us the answers that we need." He leaned forward, elbows on his knees. "I won't do it without your permission. Dean and Sam can stay with you. No techs. Just me and if I need help, the nurses that you already know."

"Oh, Jesus, kiddo, don't pass out." Dean shook him a little again. Collin stopped himself from moving forward, knowing that it wouldn't help. Sam jammed a straw into one of the small milk bottles that the cafeteria had sent up and handed it to Dean. "Come on, take a drink. Take a deep breath."

A few deep breaths and swallows of milk later, Alec pushed it away. "God, I don't even like the stuff." His tone was bordering on a whine, but everyone in the room felt like cutting him some slack.

"Then why the hell do you drink it like there's gonna be a cow shortage?" Dean cocked an eyebrow at him.

"The doctors say it's good for the shakes. To help stop them. Only thing that I'm allowed to have as much of as I want."

Collin could feel his brain latching on to that. Grabbing on hard. Questions started piling up faster than he could get them out. "Dean said he thought you hadn't been sleeping very well?" Alec shook his head. "And most of the time you can think pretty clearly while you're having a seizure, right? Like it's just in your body, not your mind." He got another nod. "I think I have an idea. A real one." He pulled out Alec's chart and a prescription pad and began to scrawl furiously. "Will you let me run some blood work? No EEGs for now. I'll just keep giving you what I am now, which seems to hold you as long as you stay in bed. Just let me do the blood work and if I'm right, that may be all we need to solve this."

"No creepy tests?" Alec asked, clearly testing the waters.

"Not if I'm right. I'd really rather this be the answer."

"What do you think the answer is?" Sam's tone was earnest and curious.

"Serotonin. A vial of blood and a couple of hours will tell me if I'm right."

"Isn't that one of those things that keeps you from being depressed?" Dean didn't sound convinced.

"Yep. It also helps you sleep and controls your reflexes. It's pretty useful stuff." He shifted his attention to Alec. "Can I have that vial of blood?"

"If it gets me the fuck out of here, then yes."

"I'll get one of the nurses to come in and draw it." Collin stood, but stopped when he saw the wary look on Alec's face. "Trust me when I say you'd rather have one of them do it. They're way better at it than I am." He didn't move until Alec nodded, casually walked out the door, and broke into a jog. He wanted this done before Alec changed his mind.


Sam decided to take a walk, just to stretch his legs and kill some time until Alec's lab results came back. One of the real downfalls of being 6' 4" was that a lot of places became cramped when you could cross the entire room in four or five long steps.

He had gotten used to it, though. So had his friends. It wasn't unusual to see him slowly pacing up and down the hall of his dorm building while reading, or taking up the entire sofa in the lounge because he got sick of folding himself into a pretzel to fit on his bed. Bad enough that his feet hung off of it anyway.

And hey, he even got to perform a rescue. About four rooms down from Alec there was a bawling child and a nurse who almost walked into him. She looked up, and up. Then she grinned. "Just the person I needed."

"Huh?" Sam felt his eyebrows climb in confusion. He thought maybe he could give himself a break. It had been a rough month, after all.

"You're tall. I'm short. Henry's balloon came off its ribbon." She pointed into the room she had just left, and sure enough there was a mylar balloon shaped like a frog floating at the ceiling with no tether in site.

"Oh, sure." Sam walked across the kid's room and grabbed it easily. A couple of minutes later he had the balloon back on its ribbon and been declared 'the tallest man in the world' by a kid that barely reached his knee.

Retrieving balloons for upset sick kids had to be worth some sort of good karma, right? He figured they were due for some. He was smiling for the first two steps back into Alec's room.

The headache came on suddenly, and he pinched the bridge of his nose like it might actually help. All thoughts of good karma were gone. He didn't have words for the crushingly painful sensation. He lost his balance between one step and the next. Like his body

wasn't his own. He had been forced back and was only a passenger. He couldn't move, even though his body was doing that just fine without him. Someone was wearing him like a glove. An extremely angry glove.

He knew who it was. Sulfur yellow eyes and a touch that burned under his skin. That was all he could feel. He had been pushed back away from the surface of his being, unable to act. Could only burn. It charred the edges of his soul.

But he could still see. He was allowed that. The gifts belonged to his soul and not his body. He needed to be able to see if he was going to See anything. And the yellow-eyed monster wearing him wanted that particular gift desperately.

He could See everything going on around him. The battle field. The gate. And his brother. Who had a gun, the gun, old, deadly and filled with power, pointed steadily at his neck. Just like they had been taught. People could survive a bullet to the head. You wanted to have a sure thing, then take out the airway and sever the spine. Sam struggled desperately to get free of the demon long enough to shout at Dean.

To do it. To shoot. To shoot shoot shootshootshoot . . .

He closed his eyes.

He had Seen what he needed to. His brother knew. He brother always knew what he and Alec needed. Always had.

Didn't open them again until he heard the bang

of Dean's chair falling and hitting the floor as he lunged out of it. Sam dimly knew he was on the floor. His head hurt, the throbbing from a sharp blow and clawing from something deeper. Something that was inside.

He let Dean roll him onto his side and coughed out blood.