Sam's over by the car.

He's tall.

Dean digs an elbow into hard earth, feels night air brush his face.

Ghosts really shouldn't be allowed to crack people on the side of the head with shovels. Even stupid people. Hell of a sound, metal on bone. Dean thinks it might have rung a note through the graveyard, like a bell.

"Did I puke?"

He's not surprised Sam doesn't answer, because Sam's over by the car and it's a long way away, way way waaaay far away on the other side of the graveyard.

Dean's head is twice its normal size. At least. Three times, actually. Four and counting.


"Did I puke?"


A pinpoint of light bores into his eye. Dean rolls off his elbow to get away and a big hand stops his face smacking the ground.

Dean pukes.


"What year is it?" Sam says.

There's an unholy trinity of blood, earth and vomit smeared all over the motel pillow and Dean still has his boots on.


Dean's talking about Coneheads again.

Sam guesses Dean thought that movie was pretty funny. Just the word is making him practically gag with silent mirth.

"What town are we in, Dean?"

Dean gives him two days ago and Sam doesn't like that one bit. Or that Dean's squeezing one eye shut and the muscles in his eyelid are in spasm. What with that and the staccato huffing noises, he's coming across like a demented pirate.

Stitches in the scalp. Damn but Sam hates that. He hates doing it even more than Dean hates having it done. He curses more than Dean does, wanting to be gentle but wanting to be quick because he knows what's coming. His brother doesn't do minor bumps on the head, little birds flying round in circles. None of that. Dean does stomach-churning impacts, buckets of blood, the whole nine yards. The whole nine, freakin', talking-major-head-trauma-here-asshat yards.

Which means he pukes a lot, talks weird shit and then runs a raging fever.


Being woken up so much is giving Dean a headache.

Sam doesn't seem very pleased. Perhaps it's because Dean can't seem to say the right things.

"Did I puke?"

"Look at me, Dean, open up your eyes and look at me."

"Sam, I mean it. Don't forget. Jumper leads."

"Yeah, Dean, whatever."

"Red ones, man ... and green ones, under the dash."

"Ooookay. I got it. Under the dash, red and green. Hey, here I am. Over here, come on."

Sam's snapping his fingers like there's a dog in the room and dogs are about Dean's least favorite thing in the world. He decides to sit up.

Holy Shit.


That's a headache.

And that's Sam, and Sam's all pixellated.

"Oh crap, here you go again ... wait a ... where the hell's this ... shit, Dean ..."

No shit, Sam.

"... no it's OK ... you're OK ... I got it ... whoah, dude."

Seriously. What's with the babbling? And how many freakin' hands has Sam got? And how can he be holding both sides of Dean's head and palming his chest and stroking the back of his neck, all at the same time? I mean. How.

"Really, truly, Dean? This puking thing? Not helping."

The hand that cradles his skull is so damn big and being so damn careful. But still, his head is floating about like a balloon in a plunging elevator.

Dean thinks he might be done puking.

He's not sure about retching though.


Sam doesn't know how Dean's temperature manages to rocket through the roof so quickly. One minute he's a little fretful, flailing to keep the washcloth at bay, and the next Sam's got a bottle of Coors Light applied to each temple and is hissing at him through his teeth.

"Don't do this, man, don't do it don't do it don't do it."

They bought a six-pack last night and only managed two apiece. Bargain of the week, just under a dollar twenty a bottle. Cold as the Rockies.

Sam presses his palm systematically across Dean's forehead, his cheeks, his chest, but it's all giving off the same baking heat. He stops bothering with the thermometer after a while because he knows the chart already. A stair-step approach to delirium. Dean will fry himself in batches.

Dad's rules about when to call 911 have been bent so much over the years that Sam doesn't know now whether they've got really good at this crap or whether they just can't recognize the tipping point anymore.

He thinks it might be at midnight. Then he thinks 2am.

It's at four in the morning. Dean's fever spikes, he nearly splits the stitches, then freewheels downhill all the way to clammy and bad-tempered.

"Bedlington," he slurs, winding up to fight off a new attack from Sam's facecloth.

"Whole week ago, dude."

"Bedlington," Dean insists. "Fuck that shit, Sam."

When Sam's done with the cloth he drops it on the nightstand and strokes Dean's forehead with his knuckles. Now he's wandered into the outer reaches of coherence Dean won't put up with whole hands.

"Been scaring the crap out of me, you big jerk. So just ... stop it now. Would you please? You need to sleep."

"Think I got a concussion."

"Yeah. Maybe. We'll see. You sleep, OK?"

But of course, if Dean can possibly be an asshole about this, he will.


Dean would like to fall asleep, turn over and face plant, but everything's bugging him.

On a barked command he dry-swallows two pills because water won't stay down and Sam's clearly terrified he'll burst a blood vessel heaving bubkus over the side of the bed.

It gives him a sore throat and an acid fizz in the gut.

He can't turn over anyway because he can't sleep on his left side and Sam won't let him lie on his right.

Whenever he thinks he's about to sink into the blank and dreamless sleep he craves, his bone-tired limbs twitch him awake.

Dean doesn't tell Sam any of this. Doesn't tell him he feels so fucking sad all of a sudden.

"It's all right, Dean. It's OK. Doesn't matter."

Sam's wiping at the slide of tears with one finger, really delicately, like he thinks he'll be able to do it without Dean noticing.

"Who gives a crap, man. Just sshhh."

Dean really objects to being shushed.

He really fucking hates it and it so doesn't help.

Somehow he goes to sleep anyway.