Thanks to Schelz for the beta. All remaining mistakes are mine. This whole writing sporadically method has its disadvantages.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters nor the actors playing them. Nu-uh.
It was just a swaying of the surroundings, the first time it happened. They were in the house of the latest victim, looking for clues that would lead them to for their monster of the week. There had been three victims before the latest one that lied rigidly in front of Dean, dark blood flowing from her head and some clear fluid that he hoped to hell wasn't brain fluid leaking from her nose. He and Sam had reached a little too late to save her, and now, looking down at the body, Dean can't help but feel a brief acid-in –the-stomach guilt. They had split up, Sam taking the bedrooms while he looked over the living room and the kitchen.
The EMF meter had yielded nothing from the kitchen, so he had wandered over to the living room and started his search. The bright yellow living room was, Dean felt, inadvertently mocking the somber atmosphere surrounding the cooling corpse. He crouched down to inspect the blood spatters of the unfortunate thirty year old woman in the living room, and noticed that there was no sign of any struggle around the room. It was almost as if the woman had consciously decided to drop to the floor and cracked open her head, no assistance needed. But the Winchesters knew better, having detected identical causes of deaths with the other victims. Frustratingly, he couldn't find any other clues that might helped with them solving the case. Even the EMF meter blinked and whined only sluggishly.
He had stretched his legs back up after some time, and that was when the world had tilted briefly.
"Whoa," he blinked against the sudden slant of his surroundings, feeling himself falling. A second later, his natural balance had reasserted itself and he unconsciously moved his right leg back, steadying himself. At the same time, his arms free-wheeled and his right one caught on a vase, sweeping it to the floor with a loud crash and shattering it into pieces.
"Dean?" Sam was standing in the doorway of the master bedroom with a concerned look on his face, the EMF meter clasped loosely in his left hand.
Dean waved off his anxiety. "Head rush Sam. I got up too quickly."
Sam stared at him for a second longer, seemingly trying to search out his brother for any lie, before turning and resuming his search. Dean rolled his eyes, and mirrored his brother's actions, and the incident was forgotten.
The second time it happened was two weeks after. They were two states over in another nondescript motel, catching up on some rest after their last hunt that turned out to be a violent ghoul. Dean had just woken up from sleep, lying on his stomach and had twisted his head from the left to the right and trying to make himself more comfortable. He was on his third head roll when he was aware of the sensation of falling. His eyes opened in slits and winced immediately.
The world around him was spinning slowly in too bright colours, despite the fact that the room was only lit in the faint light of the nearby street light through the tightly drawn curtains. It left him dizzy and disoriented, and he found himself fighting vertigo while lying on his stomach.
How screwed up was that? Can you fall if you are lying down? Is this some kind of trick question?
Dean breathed slowly, trying to contain his reaction. Sam was lying on the other bed, body twitching when Dean let out an audible breath. But his exhaustion won over his instinct, and a second later he burrowed deeper underneath the blankets. Dean closed his eyes momentarily, relieved, as the last thing he wanted to do is send his baby brother into a panic. He didn't want Sam to overreact and he knew that's exactly what he would do if he caught Dean in his current state.
Dean kept up the deep breathing and the unsteady feeling passed moments later, allowing his tense muscles to relax. Dean was hit by a wave of fatigue then, so strong and sudden, and Dean, being Dean, decided to ignore the anomaly. He turned his body gingerly over to the other side, making himself comfortable again. Something was niggling at the back of his mind, and he fell asleep trying to find the source of his unease. However, by the next morning, the second episode was deeply buried at the back of his mind, forgotten once again.
Unfortunately, the third time was the charm, or in Dean's case, the curse.
Both of them had been walking towards their motel after lunch, Sam trailing behind Dean. Sam wasn't paying much attention to his older brother, preferring to scour the newspaper in his hands, idly looking for a hunt and reading the gossip pages, reluctantly fascinated by the meaningless antics of the celebrities. Dean was amusing himself by clicking his tongue to the tune of Metallica's Sandman, trying to gauge how long it would take before Sam showed his exasperation. Five minutes passed, and Sam was still maintaining his cool.
Not bad little brother, Dean thought grudgingly. He decided to switch to another annoying act, whistling loudly and obnoxiously.
Sam, well versed with Dean's boredom tricks, ignored him still. Dean whistled louder, walking slightly ahead and then turning his body around so that he could continue it right at Sam's face. As his head turned, however, he felt a sharp spike at the base of his neck. The sudden pain literally took his breath away, and for a long second Dean could not draw in any air. His hands flew to seek the source of the pain. At the same time, his vision shifted into wavy, blurry kaleidoscopes of colours and all he could hear was the wind rushing into his ears.
"What the…" the pain in Dean's voice got Sam's attention. He raised his head from the newspaper.
Dean was clutching his neck, and his eyes met Sam's a second before they rolled up at the back of his head, and he crumpled to the ground without another sound.
With reflexes that he didn't even know he possessed, Sam caught his brother before he dropped onto the stony asphalt. Nevertheless, he wasn't agile enough to catch Dean and retain his equilibrium at the same time, so he followed gravity, albeit more gently than Dean's unexpected descent. The newspaper that Sam had tossed fluttered uselessly to the ground.
Sam ended up on his knees with Dean's head on his lap. He gently slapped Dean's cheek, noting his clammy skin. "Dean. Dean, come on."
No reaction. There wasn't even a tremble. Dean was out cold.
Sam worked his right hand towards the base of Dean's neck, searching for whatever that might have cause his elder brother to just drop to the ground without any warning. His fingers found a knot underneath the skin of Dean's neck, but apart from that, there was nothing else. Sam's fingers danced lightly on the knot, figuring to be a twist of muscles that perhaps have been entangled. Maybe he had pulled the muscles on his neck. He pushed gently, wary that any harder force might hurt his brother further, but wanting to elicit a response of some kind. Dean remained stubbornly pliant.
Sam ducked his head towards his brother's nose to check his breathing. It was a steady draft and his pulse, which Sam took from his wrist, was fast and strong. Sam took that as a good sign that whatever happened wasn't serious. Although, he reflected, passing out without any precursor was definitely a cause for concern. He slapped Dean's cheek again and called out to his brother once more.
"Dean, come on man. You are scaring me here. Wake up, now."
Dean groaned, and though it was a minuscule noise, it filled Sam with relief. He manhandled his brother to an upright position and half-carried, half-dragged him two hundred yards away to the relative comfort of their motel room. There was a moment when Sam was sure that he was going to drop his brother, the limp body heavy with muscles, and those cheeseburgers that he ate just now, and man, you gotta lay off them before you turn into a blimp, Dean.
Thankfully, nothing and no one was dropped and Sam managed to get his brother safely into their room.
"What happened?" Dean's voice was just barely a whisper, but Sam heard him loud and clear. He strode out from the bathroom and towards his brother's bed. Dean was struggling to sit up on the bed, and he was failing miserably. Sam grabbed hold of his arm and pulled him into a seating position.
"Hey, it's about time." Sam couldn't mask his relief from his voice. Two hours of Dean still twitching but not waking up fully had his worry soaring into an almost full-fledged panic. His palms had crescent-shaped dents from him clenching his fists while he sat down beside his brother and willed him to wake up. Any longer and he might be tempted to cart Dean to the nearest ER to find out what exactly was wrong with Dean.
"What happened?" Dean repeated. His voice was tremulous, although it was getting stronger and steadier. His eyes moved from Sam to the next bed to the bathroom and back again.
"You tell me. You just keeled over on the way back," Sam kept his voice calm and even, although what he actually wanted to do was to start yelling and interrogating his brother to find out what really happened.
Dean frowned, looking confused, as if he had no idea what Sam was talking about.
"I have no idea what you are talking about."
Sam pinched the little area between his eyebrows, willing himself to be patient. Chances were Dean might not even remember what happened to him.
"Okay. Never mind that, how are you feeling right now? Do you have a headache? Do you need me to get you anything?"
Dean took a moment to assess the question. "I'm feeling like my head is replaced by a rock, and that someone is now drilling that rock with a hammer." There was a pause. "But other than that I'm fine."
Sam rolled his eyes at the sarcastic reply, but he stood up almost immediately to fetch some aspirin and a glass of water, glancing over at Dean, who was giving the room another once-over. When he handed them over to Dean, it was accepted with a grateful but tense nod. Sam watched as he swallowed the medication before throwing in his next question.
"So, what was the last thing you remember?"
Dean met Sam's eyes, and although there was a note of uncertainty, he answered readily enough. "I remembered going to lunch, I remember coming back, and that's it."
"Are you sure? Do you remember what happened just before you pass out?" Sam pressed on. His brother had a hard head, what with being frequently tossed into walls and all that, but he never knew if this time it was the injury to break the camel's back. All that contact with solid things might just dislodged his brother's brains.
Dean, surprisingly, seemed to consider that question carefully. His eyes glazed over as he tried to cast his mind back, and Sam just sat there silently, reluctantly giving him time to search his memory. After a minute, Dean came out of his stupor and shrugged his shoulders.
Sam sighed. He might just have to wait till tomorrow to question Dean again. "Well, it doesn't matter now. Are you sure you are feeling all right?"
Dean nodded his head, but his expression remained edgy. His eyes were also still darting about the room, making him look slightly manic, and there was a baffling frown on his face. Sam had a sudden thought that, maybe, Dean wasn't quite there with him yet. He sighed again, and stood up. Dean's eyes swiveled back to his standing form.
"Well, the room's paid up till tomorrow anyway. Why not we just rest for the day, and we can get a move on in the morning?" Dean nodded again, still not saying a word.
The silence was starting to unnerve Sam. Suddenly edgy and looking for something to occupy his hands with, he moved towards the table, where his research was left abandoned and started to shuffle the papers into a neat pile. He spied a pizza delivery flier among the papers and thought that both of them could use some food.
"Do you want to order some pizza? Or maybe some Chinese? You should eat something before you go back to sleep. Pizza might be good. I am so sick of Chinese food. We had it the night before, and the night before that, and also for lunch the same day. Man, I think that we might have tried the entire menu for that restaurant. At this point, pizza sounds like heaven."
There was still no sound coming from the person behind him, so Sam barreled on.
"Well, anyhow, I found the next hunt that we can get into. There were some murders over at the Pasadena area, and I think I found the pattern and the cause. If you feel up to moving, we can get a head start tomorrow morning, and I can drive. Or if you're better, then you can drive, although I think you shouldn't. Anyway, if we drive fast enough, we can get there by the morning after next, and we can start our..."
"Uh, Dad?" Dean ventured tentatively, cutting Sam's verbal diarrhea. He sounded unsure.
Huh? What the …?
Sam stopped talking and twisted his head around so fast he nearly had whiplash.
Dean mistakenly took his frown of concern for displeasure and hurried on. "Sorry Sir. I didn't mean to interrupt. I just wanted to know where Sam is."
He looked so solemn and serious, and he didn't look as if he was yanking Sam's chain.
He's not joking about this.
Time seemed to slow down, like one of Matrix's special effects, and the silence that followed was deafening in Sam's ears. He ceased shuffling the papers as he tried to suck in air to breathe, his thoughts tangling together and muddling him up. He was pretty sure his heart skipped several beats. He looked away from the collected research back to Dean, wondering if he'd actually heard what he thought. Something heavy sunk to the pit of his stomach like a rock and he knew he'd heard right.
He stood there frozen for uncountable moments, staring at his older brother, jaw still gaping. Dean was looking back at him, eyes slightly lowered and having an uneasy expression on his face. No one spoke for several moments, and Dean was fidgeting, fisting the sheets and suddenly finding his two hands more interesting than his brother's face.
Predictably, Dean was the one who broke first.
"So, uh, is he still in school then? It's almost three now, and he should be out of there already. And today's Thursday, so he doesn't have to stay in after school," he informed Sam hesitantly, as carefully as talking to an armed police guard who had his weapon pointed at Dean.
I'm feeling better now. I can go and fetch him back…" Dean's voice trailed off when he realized that Sam was still gawping at him without a word.
Dean cleared his throat and tried to explain again. "Uh, so, I can fetch Sam from school and come straight back here, and you can carry on with research, or whatever it is that you are doing. Seriously, Dad, I feel fine. It might just be because of the heat that I, you know, pass out."
Sam continued staring at Dean, half expecting his older brother to break out into a smile, shout "Gotcha, you sucker!" and proceeded to laugh hysterically at him for being such a gullible younger brother. When that didn't happen, however, the sinking feeling that Sam had had settled in his stomach and the youngest Winchester was forced to realize that this, regrettably, wasn't a prank.
Hey, you made it this far! *waves* So, how was it? Please let me know???