They'd been particularly busy lately with ghosts. Sam didn't know why, but he was glad. Ghosts and spirits were pretty easy to deal with, unlike changeling type things or demons. Ghosts had their own agendas. It wasn't often that they took time out to mess with your head. Sam figured his head was messed up enough and god only knew Dean didn't need anything else knocking around inside his skull either; he created enough internal angst on his own.

Because they'd been so busy with ghosts, and busy in general, Sam wasn't surprised when work started creeping into his subconscious. His freakish visions aside, Sam had always been sensitive to "work" related stresses. Once, during finals, he'd dreamed he'd been locked in the library overnight. When he woke up he had been convinced he was still there but that someone had stolen all the books he needed to complete his studies. It took him a minute, and the smell of burnt toast, to convince him otherwise. (Jess, he would reluctantly admit, had been beautiful, smart and talented – except when it came to cooking breakfast.)

Sam dreamed he was with Dean and they were checking out a haunted McDonalds. Why McDonalds he didn't know, unless he was subconsciously hungry for a breakfast burrito – something that was entirely possible. The day before he and Dean had gotten into a heated discussion about whether or not any sort of burrito could legitimately be called breakfast. Being partial to breakfast burritos, Sam had argued for, while Dean, a bacon, eggs and sausage man, argued against.

"But there are eggs and sausage in it," Sam pointed out.

"Yes, with salsa!"


"Salsa is not a breakfast food."

"Dean, you eat pizza for breakfast."

"No I don't."

"Last week we came back from a gig at six in the morning and you scarfed down half a cold pizza."

"That wasn't breakfast."

"It was six in the morning!"

"Yes but I hadn't been to sleep yet!" Dean protested. "You're the college boy, you should know these things - breakfast is made up of the words 'break' and 'fast.' "

"Yeah, I know. So what?"

"So, breakfast is whatever you eat when you wake up from sleeping, and you don't eat burritos for breakfast."

Sam had sat back in his chair and given him a look. "You're very passionate about this."

"Breakfast is breakfast," Dean grumbled. "Burritos are not breakfast."

"But they have eggs and sausage in them!"

"Wrapped in a tortilla! With salsa! What part of salsa not being a breakfast food don't you get?"

"Tomato juice."


"Salsa is made of tomatoes. People drink tomato juice for breakfast."

"Yeah, as a hangover cure."

"It also has peppers in it," Sam said smugly. "Which are commonly used in omelets."

"See, there's your problem right there." Dean stabbed a finger at him. "You think you're all hoity toity."

"What? What are you talking about?"

"This isn't France, Sam. This is America. Americans eat American breakfast."

"Fine. Next time we stop for breakfast I'll get you a bucket of lard and a spoon."

The argument ended with Dean turning up the radio and Sam staring grouchily out the car window.

It was no wonder the McDonalds was haunted.

Memories of the breakfast burrito debate were probably also why the ghost moaning from inside the deep fat fryer sounded like Dean. Sam found this particularly appropriate given Dean's passion for anything deep fried and greasy but he was seriously concerned as to why said ghost sounded like his brother. Some little bit of his mind wondered if Dean's eating habits hadn't finally caught up with him because it would be just like Dean to drop dead over a Big Mac.

"I'm sorry sir, but your brother can't be an organ donor, all his arteries are completely clogged with French fried potatoes."

Sam wondered if it were true that French fries weren't really French. The budding attorney in him hoped they were because then he could get in Dean's face and say, "HA! Now who's hoity toity!"

The potential of proving his case distracted him from the ghost, and from his dream as his brain suddenly developed another priority. It wanted him to wake up, get online and research the origins of French fries. Wake up protocol commenced immediately. Sam rolled over, stretched, and opened his eyes with a sigh.

His sigh was followed by a moan.

"Okay," he thought. "What are the odds that we of all people would randomly check into a haunted motel room?"

Idly he wondered if dreaming about the McDonalds deep fryer ghost hadn't actually called the thing to him. This was a distinct possibility given the weird happenings that seemed to be par for Sam's course lately. However, the McDonalds ghost did sound a lot like Dean and the moaning was coming from the general direction of the other bed. The moan was also familiar; it sounded very much like the moaning Dean had done almost ten years earlier when he'd had to have his wisdom teeth pulled.

Sam propped himself up on his elbows. "Dean?"

The moan became a groan and was definitely coming from the other bed. More precisely, it was coming from the lump lying in the middle of the bed. The lump was about the same size and shape of a grown man curled up in the fetal position.

"Dude, are you okay?"

"No," the lump said, in a feeble, very un-Dean-like voice. "I think I'm dying."


Sam got up in a flurry of flying sheets and went to his brother's beside. Dean was indeed curled up in a ball, his face flushed and his eyes squinted up with pain.

"Holy crap! You're sick."

"No shit Sherlock," Dean glared at him, and then moaned. "God, just shoot me. Hurts like someone is stabbing me in the gut with a freakin' pitchfork."

Pulling the covers back, Sam knelt beside the bed. "Let me see…."

"There's nothing to see!"

"Don't snap at me, Dean. I'm trying to help you."

Reluctantly Dean removed his arms from around his midsection and uncurled a little bit. Sam reached out toward his stomach.

"Don't push on it."

"I'm not gonna push on it."

" 'cause it hurts."

"I'm not gonna push on it!" Sam slipped a hand under Dean's t-shirt. "You're such a baby."

"Yeah, you try having a pitchfork – a dull pitchfork – jabbed into your stomach and see how you like it!"

"Man, your stomach is all swollen! You eat anything weird?"


"Of course with you weird is relative."

"Shut up," Dean dropped his head back down to the bed and curled up tighter with a loud groan. "Sammy, I'm serious. This is some bad hurtin'."

"I believe you." Sam stood up, biting his lip. "You didn't barf or anything did you?"

"No." Groaning again, Dean buried his face in his pillow so that his voice was muffled. "Wish I could."

It occurred to Sam to wonder if maybe the demon wasn't playing a nasty trick on them and had only brought Dean back from the brink of death temporarily. Horrible worse case scenarios involving liver lacerations and massive internal bleeding flipped through his head. The best-case scenario wasn't much better because there was a burst appendix in the starring role with sepsis and emergency surgery as supporting players.

"We've got to get you to a hospital."

Dean groaned yet again. "No. No moving. Moving bad."

"Dean, seriously. This could be bad."

"Is bad."

"No, I mean seriously bad," Sam fretted.

"Toldju I was dying." Raising his head, Dean shot Sam a nasty glare before falling back to the pillow again. "Oh, God. Sammy…."

Sam was already getting dressed. In his haste he put his t-shirt on inside out and backward and neither sock matched, but making sure they got to a doctor as quickly as possible was more important than avoiding a wrist slapping from Stacy and Clinton. There was a flurry of cursing as he tried in vain to get his right shoe on before he realized it was his brother's. He cussed even more when he got stuck under the bed trying to recover his own shoe, and then got cussed at for making Dean laugh because laughing made it hurt worse.

When he was finally ready, and had the car packed up with all their gear, Sam went back to Dean and stood looking at him anxiously. "Okay, let's go. Come on."

A portrait of the term "drama queen", Dean waved feebly. "You go on without me."

"I guess I'll have to carry you then."

The threat had the desired effect.

"Okay, I'm up." With tremendous effort and a lot of moaning, Dean slowly uncoiled himself and sat hunched over off the edge of the bed. "Oh man…." Even more slowly, with even more groaning, he got on his feet.

As Dean shuffled along, Sam made as if to help him and was promptly shrugged off. "But you're going the wrong direction!"

"Gotta take a leak."

"Well you can do that on your own."

"That is the plan, Sam."

Because pain made Dean cranky.

Sam waited until his brother hobbled back out of the bathroom. He waited more as Dean painstakingly made his way out of the room, and he waited even longer as Dean slowly, very slowly, eased himself into the car. If Dean hadn't looked as bad as he did, Sam might have thought he was faking. The pain was real. Sam had no doubt of it.

"Do you have to hit every bump in the damn road?"

"It's your car. You put in the suspension."

Dean groaned. "Fire the mechanic." Doubling over, he went the rest of the trip to the hospital folded in half so everything he said Sam could barely understand. "Aliens," he mumbled after a while.

"What?" Sam seriously thought his brother had said "aliens."

Turns out he had said aliens.

"I was probed in my sleep. I swear to God I was probed and impregnated with some evil little baby alien that's gonna come popping out my navel at any minute."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Look. Odds are it's appendicitis."

"Flamethrower. Sammy. You'll have to stop somewhere and get a flamethrower."

"Knock it off."

"Save the cat!"



Never was the emergency room of a city hospital more of a welcome sight. Sam pulled up behind an ambulance and got out of the car. There was an unoccupied wheelchair sitting by the door. He commandeered it and trundled Dean into it before rushing in through the broad swinging doors. The nurses station was right in front of him. A single nurse stood there writing something in a ledger. After waiting for her to acknowledge him for minute or two, Sam knocked on the desk.

"Excuse me."

She didn't say anything, but the expression on her face was clearly a terse, "What?"

"My brother," Sam said, as Dean sat hunched over like an old man in the wheelchair. "Is having stomach pains." He made an amendment. "Severe stomach pains."

The nurse looked back down at her ledger and continued writing. "Is he bleeding?"





Sam pointed at a very obviously conscious Dean, which the nurse didn't see because she wasn't looking. "Uh,"

A clipboard came out of nowhere and nearly crushed Sam's fingers as it slammed down on the top of the desk. "Fill out this form and go wait over there."


The nurse looked up with such a horrible expression on her face both Winchester brothers cringed. Sam snatched up the clipboard and a pen, and wheeled Dean over to the waiting area. He noted that there was only one other person there waiting and she looked as if she were simply a vagrant looking to get in out of the cold.

"Dude," Dean muttered. "Couldn't you have picked a different hospital? Look at that nurse, man! She looks like she went face first into the Impala's radiator."

"If she'd gone face first into the Impala's radiator it would have done more damage to the Impala than to her." Sam growled, looking at the form. "What the hell?"

"What?" Hissing in pain, Dean craned his head to see over Sam's arm. "What does it say?"

"It wants you to list the names of all the people you've slept with in the past ten years."

"Put 'n/a'."

"Not applicable? Dean, I can't even count how many girls you've slept with in a week let alone ten years. How is that not applicable?"

"Here. Give me that."

Sam handed over the clipboard. Dean scribbled something and handed it back with a grin. "There."

"What?" Sam squinted at his brother's scrawl. "What does that say?"

"War wound."

"War wound?"

"Stepped on a land mine." Dean nodded. "Haven't had sex at all in ten years." He rolled his eyes heavenward. "Oh, the agony..."

"Like they're going to fall for that! They're doctors!" As an afterthought, Sam wondered with some surprise if his brother hadn't been reading Hemingway – and quickly dismissed the idea. The only thing Dean had read lately was the back of a cereal box.

"With ten proofs of purchase we can send away for a glow in the dark pen!"

Dean snorted. "Hey, it ain't there that it hurts, okay!"

Sam dug around in his wallet and found their current fake insurance card. "Dick Donner?" He shook his head. "Sounds like a porn star."

"Oh, yeah...hey! That's why I'm on disability."


"Stepped on a land mine," Dean reminded him. "Ruined a promising film career."

"You disgust me on a good day." Sam muttered. "Anyway, if you have to have surgery..."


"And you just might..."

"Oh no...don't. Sam, don't you say it..."

"There's a possibility..."


"They'll have to insert..."

Putting his head in his hands Dean groaned. "He's gonna say it."

"A catheter."

"That's it." Dean half rose from the wheelchair. "I'm out of here. Ow. Ow..." He collapsed back into the chair, doubled over in agony. "Oh, crap...

Sam chuckled.

"Not funny, Sam. Been there done that! Stuff isn't supposed to go in through the out door and it's no picnic when it does, trust me."

There followed some barely discernible grumbling about bastard demons throwing semi trucks at people and doctors gleefully sticking tubes in places where plastic was never meant to go.

"Yeah, but my point is they're gonna see your so-called war wound and know you lied," Sam said.

"Nuh-huh. Reconstructive surgery."

"Oh, come on!"

Dean raised his head. "No, seriously. I saw it on Plastic Surgery, Before and After once."

Sam looked up from the form. "Dude, you watched a guy have surgery on his package?"

"No...well...yes." Dean scowled and added quickly, "They didn't show anything!"

"Perv." Sam went back to work. "Allergies?"

"Ugly nurses."



"What! Since when are you allergic to Jello?"

"Have you ever eaten hospital Jello?"


"I have. Put it down."

With a long suffering sigh, Sam wrote down Jello under allergies. "Family medical history?"

"My brother is retarded."

"Very funny."

It was Dean's turn to chuckle. "I thought so."

"Besides, 'retarded' is politically incorrect, not to mention rude. It's 'developmentally challenged.' "

"Didn't think you could spell developmentally challenged, seeing as how you're, you know, developmentally challenged."

Sam gave him a strong look of disapproval. "I could leave you here and go back to the hotel."

Dean gave him a pleading look. "What? And leave me alone with her?" He glanced over at the nurse. "I'd rather be buried alive in a pit full of flesh eating spiders."

"Considering how often we crawl around in sewers, I would be careful what I wished for if I were you." Sam tapped the clipboard with his pen. "We're not finished.

"What? Come on!"

"Hey, she's the one making us wait. Maybe if you'd stop fooling around and help me fill this out then we would get helped faster."

Dean looked at the last few questions on the form. "No. I don't have any moles that changed color or shape recently, I shit on a regular basis and my piss is a pretty shade of pale yellow!" He turned his head toward the nurses station, and let his voice gradually got louder and louder. "Now can I see a doctor 'cause I'M. IN. PAIN!"

The nurse looked up from her writing and glared at them. Sam gave her a weak smile and waved the form at her. "Done."

She made a "come here" gesture. Sam obediently got up and took the form, the pen and the clipboard back over to her. He stood there anxiously as she read through it. After a moment she gave him a dispassionate look over the tops of her glasses and filed the form in a folder off to the side.

"You can go sit down now," she said.

"So when is..."

The nurse glared at him. Sam made his retreat back to the waiting area where Dean sat hunched over with his arms wrapped around his stomach. He looked at Sam pleadingly.

"Where's the doctor?"

"I dunno. I guess we just have to wait."

"Wait? For what? For me to keel over dead?"

Sam let out yet another in a series of long-suffering sighs. "I'm sure you'll be okay for the next few minutes."

Dean was not appeased. "I'm taking you out of my Will."

"You have a Will?"

There was a shrug, which apparently hurt, according to the grimace that followed it.

"In any case," Sam added. "Since I'm your only living relative, if you take me out of your Will, who's going to get your stuff?"

"I'll adopt a cat."

It took Sam a minute before he got the joke. "You're an idiot. So where is your Will? I might need to know."

"In the glove box."

"Dean, there's nothing in the glove box but a bunch of fake I.D.s and parking tickets."

"There's also a cocktail napkin from the Roadhouse." Dean winced and shot the nurse an ugly look as he hunched over a little further around his stomach. She didn't seem to notice.

"You wrote your Last Will and Testament on a cocktail napkin?"

"Hey, it was the only paper I had at the time!"

Sam narrowed his eyes. Trust Dean to write an important document on the back of a cocktail napkin. "You were drunk weren't you?"

The sheepish look confirmed it.

"Uh-huh. And I suppose you had Ellen notarize it."


"Then it's not legal," Sam said triumphantly, as if he had just led his defense team to victory in the trial of the century. "A Will has to be witnessed and notarized."

"I didn't say it wasn't notarized. I just said Ellen didn't do it."

"Then who did?" A moment later Sam kicked himself for asking.


Laughing, Sam nearly fell out of his chair. "Ash?!? Ash is a notary public?"

"Yes. Dude, why do you always give him crap? You jealous because his brain is bigger or something?"

Sam immediately stopped laughing. "Just because someone gets into M.I.T doesn't automatically make them a genius."

"So now you're a genius?"

"I didn't say that."

"Yes. You did."

"I did not!"

"Your head is getting bigger Sammy. Soon you'll be like that mouse from the Animaniacs."

"The who from what?" Sam turned around in his chair. "Nurse! Now he's delirious!"

The nurse glared at him. "Keep your voice down. This is a hospital for God's sake!" She snatched up the phone receiver and waved it at him. "Don't make me call security."

Dean reached over and popped Sam in the shoulder. "Shut up! She'll make me wait longer."

Sam hunched down in his chair, glowering. "Both my brains are bigger than Ash's," he growled. He didn't look at Dean, who he knew was wearing a smug expression, but he could have sworn he heard his brother chuckle and mutter, "Are you pondering what I'm pondering?" under his breath.

That rang a bell, and Sam suddenly knew exactly what Dean was talking about. He sat up and affected his own smug expression. "Say, Dean?"


"If I'm Brain, you know that makes you Pinky."

Dean's retort, and there was most definitely going to be a retort, was interrupted by the appearance of a very large man wearing a white coat and carrying a clipboard. Without a word to either of them, he grabbed the handles of the wheelchair and whirled it around so fast Sam was surprised Dean didn't fall out of it. This apparently was the doctor, who shoved Sam back down in his seat with one enormous hand before waddling off down the corridor with his captive. Sam quickly got up to follow. He was immediately intercepted by the nurse.

"Where do you think you're going?"

"My bro..."

"Only authorized personnel are allowed past this point. You go sit down and wait."


"Sit. Down!"

Sam sat.

And sat.

And sat.

And fell asleep.

The McDonald's dream did not return. Instead Sam had a very disturbing nightmare in which he was locked in a cage with a giant hamster wheel. He'd been trying to pick the lock when a huge face leaned down to peer in at him. It was Dean, only he had white hair and pink eyes.



Sam jerked awake.

There was a different nurse at the desk and the little old lady was gone from the waiting area. Instead Sam found himself among a small group of very miserable looking people who obviously belonged in a hospital emergency room. One man actually had what looked like a lawn dart sticking out of the top of his head.

Alarmed that he hadn't been updated on Dean's condition, Sam levered himself up out of the painfully inept plastic chair obviously not built for anyone over four feet in height, and hobbled over to the desk. The nurse was indeed different, but apparently cut from the same cloth as the other. She scowled at him. He could tell she was about to tell him to go sit down.

"Just..." he interrupted. "Tell me what room my bro...cousin is in and I'll leave you alone."

Her lips pursed, but she obediently turned to her computer. "Name."

"Uh..." Sam hesitated, and then realize she meant Dean's name, not his. "Dick Donner."

The nurse gave him an odd look. "As in Richard Donner?"

"I suppose."

Her eyes narrowed. "Are you sure that's your cousin's name?"

Sam felt his shoulders crawl as a single drop of sweat rolled down his back. "Uh, yes. Why wouldn't it be?"

"Oh," she said, hitting a few more keys on the computer. "There's a movie director by that name. Directed the first Superman movie."

Dean thought Superman was a wuss, but Sam didn't mention that little factoid. Instead he waited patiently until she spoke again.

"Yep. He's here," she announced, and promptly went back to work.

When Sam realized, after a long delay, that she wasn't going to say any more, he felt the need for a prompt. "Well?"

"Well what?"

"Where is he?"

"I can't tell you that. It's against the privacy laws."

"He's my family!"

"I don't care. Without his permission or a power of attorney – you do know what that is don't you?"

"No," Sam grated, his tone oozing sarcasm, grouchy due to the fact he had fallen asleep in a chair built for a dwarf. "I don't know what that is. I think maybe one of my professors at STANFORD LAW SCHOOL skipped over that part of the curriculum!"

The nurse pointed her pen at him. "Look, don't get smart with me. I'm just doing my job. If you want to find your cousin I suggest you go up to Admissions and talk to them."

"Fine. I will."

Sam left the E.R and went looking for an elevator. He hated hospitals. In the past two years he'd spent entirely too much time in them, either poking around in the morgue, interviewing survivors, or sitting beside Dean's deathbed. Never mind that Dean always managed to make miraculous recoveries (for which Sam was indeed grateful) he needed to stop getting himself almost dead. It wasn't fun for anyone, least of all his angst-ridden little brother.

He stabbed angrily at the elevator button that would take him up to the main entrance of the hospital where, he assumed, he could find someone who would help him. He sincerely hoped Dean would be all right again this time. In their profession they tended to believe in the "three times a charm" adage and by now the thwarted reapers were probably getting really pissed.

The scowling man standing at the admissions desk made Sam wonder what type of person did the hiring at this particular hospital. It seemed like all the employees were sullen, unhelpful, and fond of chucking clipboards around. There must have been, Sam thought as he was given yet another clipboard to sign, a sale on clipboards at the local Val-U-Mart.

Stopping himself just prior to starting the "S" in "Sam" he fished around for the fake identification he'd grabbed out of their stash on his way out of the car.

Elroy Knoffler.

With a scowl, Sam signed the name to the clipboard. He vowed that the next time they stopped at Danny Whitehawk's place for a new batch of fakers, Dean would not be the one supplying the names.

"Elroy Knoffler," he muttered, and then flashed the receptionist a smile. "Mom was a Jetsons fan."

The guy rolled his eyes, took the clipboard, and began the Spanish Inquisition. "What is your relationship to the patient?"

Sam wanted to say "keeper" but figured it wouldn't go over well with the dour faced receptionist, whose name tag said, "Vincent." He figured calling the dude "Vinny" also wouldn't go over too well, and referring to him as "Weasel-Faced Shit-head" was completely out of the question.

"I'm his cousin."

Vincent jotted this down. "And how long have you been acquainted with the patient?"

It was on the tip of Sam's tongue to say, "too long," but he didn't. "Considering we're related, let's say all my life."

"And how long is that?"

"I'm twenty-three. You figure it out."

A cool look preceded the next question, which Vincent supplied after checking something on his computer. "And as a security question – are you familiar with your cousin's allergies."

"He's allergic to Jello," Sam said promptly, and rather smugly.

"Any distinguishing marks?"

Just prior to realizing he was fed up with this unreasonable inquiry, Sam actually caught himself mentally picturing his brother naked in order to recall distinguishing marks. It only took a second of this to realize not only how low he'd sunk, but that he'd come to the end of his patience. In the next second he was leaning over the desk with his nose inches from Vincent's face. It was a rather threatening gesture even considering the fact that he was actually hunched over slightly in order to accomplish it. Vincent couldn't have been much more than five foot three. He would have been quite comfortable in the emergency room chairs.

"Look," Sam said, lowering his voice to a deep bass rumble. "I've just about had it with you people. GIVE ME THE ROOM NUMBER!"

"Three-two-oh. Right down there," Vincent blurted hastily. "But I didn't tell you."

Sam leaned back and affected his normal voice. "Thanks."

As he set off down the hallway he took a glance back over his shoulder to see Vincent frantically fanning himself with his clipboard. Sam wasn't sure if this was because he actually scared the guy, or if Vincent had just been overcome with Sam's morning breath. In any case the tactic had worked, and Sam now had Dean's room number. He hoped the fact Dean was in a regular room and not ICU or post-op meant that he was going to be okay.

Room three-two-oh was occupied. There was an obese man lying in the bed closest to the door. On his bed tray was a bright yellow pyramid of Twinkies. Sam paused in the doorway and watched as the man groped for the pyramid and took a Twinkie from the top without looking to see what he was doing. He wasn't looking at the Twinkie pyramid because he was reading a Men's Health magazine.

Sam was rather shocked at how quickly the Twinkie had disappeared. The fat man reached for another cake and it too vanished. Only the cream filling he licked daintily from his fingers gave evidence to the fact the Twinkie had actually once existed. Idly Sam rifled through his mental data banks for references to gluttonous supernatural creatures...

Just in case.

The second bed in room three-two-oh was not occupied. Sam frowned. If Vinny the Weasel-Faced-Shit-Head had given him the wrong number Sam was going to shove a clipboard up his ass sideways.

He sighed. "Excuse me."

Twinkie Man rolled an eye in his direction.

"I'm looking for my cousin – Dick."

Sam paused, savoring the sudden realization that for once Dean had picked an appropriate alias.


Twinkie Man stared at him as if he were from another planet. Sam was forced to elaborate.

"Tall guy, short hair, big mouth."

"Oh, him," TW grunted. He paused to take another Twinkie. His words were muffled by sponge cake. "Eshdowhaminuhmug."

"I beg your pardon...what?" Sam was beginning to feel rather Luke Skywalkerish and resisted the temptation to walk around to the other side of Twinkie Man's bed to see if there was a scantily clad princess anywhere nearby. "I didn't catch that."

TW repeated himself, but was not any more understandable, just louder.


And this Jabba the Hut didn't come with subtitles or a protocol droid to translate for him.

"Come again?"


Sam blinked. "You...wha...he's...WHAT?!?!"

"Morgue. You know. Where they take the stiffs." Twinkie Man rolled his eyes and ate another Twinkie. "Dahud."

Even muffled by sponge cake, the word "dead" was unmistakable.

Choice number one was to freak out. Choice number two, slightly tainted by grief and panic, was to assume there had been some kind of mistake, because you didn't drop dead of a stomach ache.

Did you?

If Sam's internal bleeding scenario was correct Dean could have died. He might have gone into shock, which might have lead to his heart giving out on him, which of course would have killed him if the doctors were unable to shock him back to life.

A painful flashback to what had happened with their father produced the urgent need to sitdownrightnow! Instead Sam just turned around and exited the room, leaving Jabba to his reading. In the hallway he just stood there, numb, wondering what in the hell he should do now.

Sam the little brother wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.

Sam the hunter/soldier wanted to find someone or something to blame and lop their head off with a machete – after he shot them.

Sam the law student needed more evidence that Dean was really dead.

The three Sams got into a girly little fight inside his head, with the rather Spockish College Boy Wonder using logic and a neck pinch to win. It wasn't that hard though due to the fact Wussy Little Brother was – well – wussy, and Big Bad Hunter o' Evil Man didn't have a weapon because Dean had the keys to the Impala's trunk cache of sharp pointy objects and things that went BANG.

All this led Sam to wonder, as he wandered off down the hall in search of someone who could, and would, tell him something, if he weren't going insane. There were certainly some really odd things going on in his head lately, not all of them being related to mysterious forces beyond his control. He suspected that perhaps he had spent way entirely too much time shut up in a car with his brother. Odd things went on in Dean's head twenty-four-seven.

Or did, once, before he died.

"Shit, Dean..." Sam muttered, fighting to keep Wussy Little Brother at bay. "I can't believe you'd go out like this."

Considering he was in a hospital, Sam figured finding a doctor would be easy. He figured wrong. All he found was yet another surly nurse with a clipboard barking orders to a pack of giggling candy stripers. The girls were giggling and poking each other, and Sam suspected it had something to do with the stage whispers he'd overheard the minute they caught sight of him rounding the corner.

"Ooh, he's cute."

"Yeah. He looks like that guy."

"What guy?"

"You know. That guy, the one from that show."

"What show?"

"The show with the girls who drink lots of coffee."

"Oh! That show!"

"He looks too young to be that guy."

"No, not that guy, the other guy."

"The cafe guy?"

"No the other guy."

"Oh, him! Isn't he on Heroes?"

"It can't be him. I heard he died."

"Really? What happened?"

"Got lost in a sandstorm."

"In Vancouver?"

One of them produced a cell phone and took his picture.

"Excuse me."

The nurse turned around as quickly as if he'd just slapped her on the ass. "What?!?"

"I need some information..."

"Do I look like an information booth to you, buddy?" She waved her clipboard at the young candy stripers who were staring at Sam as if he'd just descended from Heaven on golden wings. "Down the hall and to the left. Sarah Jane! What have I told you about chewing gum in here?!?" The striper in question cowered. "That's it! Ya'll are on bedpan duty."

There was a collective groan as the nurse herded her charges down the hall, leaving Sam standing there temporarily blinded by the flash from yet another cell phone camera going off right under his nose. He blinked and shook his head.

Down the hall and to the left would lead him back to Vinny-the-Weasel-Faced-Shit-Head, so Sam opted to just check things out for himself. A passing janitor was more polite and provided him with more useful information than anyone else he'd talked to since he'd walked into the emergency room early that morning. The morgue, the guy said, was in the basement, just as Sam suspected. Non-authorized personnel were not authorized to be there, but the janitor had recently fished a passkey out of one of the doctors' lounge toilets. He handed it to Sam, assuring him it had been thoroughly disinfected ("This is a hospital after all.") and pointed him in the right direction.

The first person Sam encountered as he slipped into the morgue's reception area, was a man in surgical scrubs holding – big surprise - a clipboard. He was fully dressed for either surgery, or more likely – dissection – wearing a bright pink cap that clashed horrifically with his green scrubs, and a surgical mask over his face. He started to say something but Sam immediately interrupted him.

"Look. Don't give me any grief okay. I've been here for hours looking for my cousin and nobody seems to have any idea what the hell is going on. Now I've been told he died and was brought down here and I ..." Sam paused, getting misty eyed. "Just...need to know...the truth...please."

The coroner (at least Sam assumed he was the coroner) gave him an appraising look. His voice was low and slightly muffled behind the mask. "What is your cousin's name?"

"Dick Donner."

Raising his clipboard, the coroner leafed through the papers attached to it. "Hmm. Yes. Here it is. Dick Donner. Died of abdomninal adiflux diversionary syndrome." He shook his head. "Ah. Yeah. We're dissecting him now. He's donated his brain to science."

Under normal circumstances Sam would have been both entertained and horrified at the idea of Dean's brain being studied by the scientific community. It might have been interesting to read the final report of that investigation. Unfortunately, the very fact Dean's brain was absent from his body presented Sam with the need to be unhappy in the extreme.

"Oh God." There was a horrid plastic chair of the emergency waiting room kind sitting beside the coroner's desk. Sam slumped down into it. He felt tears gathering in his eyes. "And I thought he was just being a wuss."

The coroner perched himself on the edge of his desk and handed Sam a tissue. "My condolences. Your cousin must have been an amazing individual. Was he as charming as he was good looking?"

"What? I dunno. I guess..."

"Oh, the tragedy of this loss of young, virile, manhood! The world is a darker place without the presence of your handsome cousin. I would have loved to have met him." Placing a hand over his heart, the coroner sighed and carried on with his melodramatic monologue. "He was an inspiration to us all, cut down by death much too soon. Our loss, is Heaven's gain." He looked down at Sam and held out his arms, pen and clipboard still in hand. "Hold me."

Sam paused in the middle of blowing his nose. He turned his head and squinted up at the man's eyes, which were the only thing visible above the surgical mask and below the pink cap. The smile lines gave away the fact that he was grinning. There was also an awfully familiar look to the way he had cocked his right eyebrow.

With great restraint, (because he was very close to committing murder – and conveniently they were already in the morgue) Sam finished blowing his nose and carefully dropped the spent tissue into a nearby trash can. "I hate you," he muttered.

Dean pulled off the mask. "Dork. People don't die of stomach aches. Who told you I died?"

"Nobody, but your roommate told me you were in the morgue."

"I went to the morgue. Sheesh, Sam. How much did you pay for your cheap-ass education? Didn't they teach you English at Stanford?"

"Shut-up. Do you have any idea of what kind of hell I've been going through this afternoon?"

"Nope," Dean said brightly. "But you gotta come look at this." He jumped down from the desk, pulling off his disguise and abandoning the clipboard. "I think we've got a case." Pausing, he turned to look back at Sam with his eyes wide. "Dude. This dude is petrified!"

Sam got up to follow him back into the "business" part of the morgue. "What?"

"Yeah! That's what I said when I heard about it. It's true though. Took four people to get him in here. He looks more like a friggin' statue than a person."

"How does a person get turned to stone?" Sam stopped, cocking his head. "A basilisk? I thought they were extinct?"

"As extinct as vampires?"


Grinning, Dean rubbed his hands together eagerly. "Yep. Snake hunt!"

"Wait, wait!" Before his brother could disappear through the swinging doors into the body room, Sam grabbed him by the arm and pulled him to a stop. "What about your stomach?"

"What about it?"

"Dude. When I brought you in here this morning you couldn't hardly walk!"

"Oh, that. I'm fine." As if to prove it, Dean tapped his fist on his chest and belched. "See."

Sam shook his head. "See? See what? I don't see anything."

"Gas," Dean said, blinking innocently as Sam stared at him in shock. "What?"


"Well see, it's like this. George – you say you met George? Nice guy. Likes Twinkies. Anyway, George is here because a couple years ago he had gastric bypass surgery and when he got thin had all this work done – you know, plastic surgery – and apparently the dude that did his rhinoplasty screwed it up so that when he gained all his weight back he..."


Dean drew back, frowning at him. "What? Sheesh, Sam. Seriously. While we're here we need to get you some Valium."

"Dean. Are you getting to the point via Pluto? What in the hell are you talking about?"

"George can't smell."

Sam put his head in his hand. "I think I liked you better when you were dead." He looked up again, struggling to keep from shouting. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"It was gas pain. Just had to let one rip and...Sammy? You feeling okay? You look flushed."

Flushed. That was an understatement. Sam felt his cheeks burning. His temper was about to boil over. "Gas. You. Had. Gas."

Dean looked sheepish. "You were asleep. I was hungry. White Castle was right across the street. Sam." He clapped a hand on Sam's shoulder and added gravely, "Sliders are the food of the gods. How could I resist?"

Sam shoved his brother's hand off his shoulder and pushed through the swinging doors with a growl. "I don't believe this."

Scowling, Dean hurried to catch up with him. "No dude, seriously. He really is petrified!"


Cheerfully dedicated to Mr. Jared Padalecki. Jensen, dude, I'm sending you a gas mask for Christmas.