By San Antonio Rose
A funny thing happened on the way to Cooperstown.
The Winchesters had been at the Roadhouse recovering from their hunts in California when word reached them that something was killing off visitors to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in what seemed to be bizarre ways, not natural but also not clearly foul play. The few leads the police had tried to follow had gone nowhere, since most of the deaths occurred in broad daylight in full view of other patrons; there were no apparent connections between any of the victims, nor were the deaths tied to any one exhibit. Both brothers thought it was worth checking out, so off they went, agreeing to trade off driving and spare both the cost of a motel and (they hoped) a few lives that might be lost if they didn't drive straight through.
Yet no sooner had they reached Mohawk, NY, than Dean suddenly swerved and pulled off the road.
"Dean?" Sam asked as Dean braced his elbows on the steering wheel, closed his eyes, and rested his head in his hands.
"Dizzy all of a sudden," Dean replied. "Just... just give me a minute."
After two minutes passed without Dean showing any sign of improvement, Sam got out and went around to the driver's door, pulled it open, and put a hand on Dean's shoulder. "Scoot over."
Dean straightened very slowly without opening his eyes, shifted over a little, and paused, gripping the edge of the seat hard as the color drained from his face. "Oog."
Dean didn't answer, just held his head as still as possible as he inched toward the middle of the seat.
"Stop there," Sam ordered as soon as there was room enough for him to get behind the wheel. Dean stopped, and Sam slid in and shut the door, making Dean wince. "Sorry. Just rest your head on my shoulder; I won't move it much. And I'll get us to a motel."
"Don't move it at all if you can help it," Dean said tightly, keeping himself upright while Sam got the car back onto the road. "Feels like a king-sized hangover without the fun of gettin' drunk first, and moving makes it worse." Then he eased himself over to lean against Sam.
Sam did his best not to jostle Dean until they got to the motel, then left him just long enough to check in before helping him into the room and to a bed. "What do you need? Coffee? Advil?"
"Both, maybe," Dean answered. "Would help with the headache, anyway."
Sam nodded and started the coffeemaker before going out to the car to bring in the duffles. By the time Dean had taken the Advil and finished the whole mug of coffee Sam had brought him, his color looked better, but he was still holding himself very still and not opening his eyes.
"Sorry, dude," he ground out. "Dunno when this thing's gonna blow over."
Sam sighed and rubbed his shoulder. "Look, don't worry about the case. I can handle it. You just start feeling better."
Dean cracked one green eye at that. "Sammy, you're a soccer fan. You don't know anything about baseball. How the hell do you think you're gonna solve this case without me?"
Sam scoffed. "What difference does that make? It's a hunt. I'll be fine."
"I bet you won't." A corner of Dean's mouth twitched up. "And I bet that if you tell me everything that happens, I can figure it out without even getting out of bed."
Sam stared at him for a moment. "Are you serious?"
"Hell, yeah, I'm serious."
Sam looked at him for a moment longer before grinning mischievously. "Okay. If I solve it without you, I pick the music for two weeks. If I can't and if you can solve it without getting out of bed at all—except for bathroom breaks—I'll eat bacon cheeseburgers for two weeks."
Dean grinned, the sliver of eye that was showing glittering deviously. "You're on."
Sam helped Dean get situated comfortably, knife and phone within easy reach, and set the salt lines and wards. Then he got cleaned up, changed into his Fed suit, and headed off to Cooperstown.
Dean was mostly asleep when his phone went off a few hours later and answered it without moving his head or opening his eyes. "Mm?"
"It's supernatural, all right," Sam replied, "but I'm having a hell of a time figuring out the pattern here. No repeats in the cause of death, no connection to any one team or exhibit; they seem to be spread out all over the museum. If it's a ghost, it's not haunting any one object in particular."
Dean sighed and thought for a moment. "Did any of the victims die near exhibits for the White Sox or the Reds?"
He heard pages turning on the other end. Finally, Sam answered, "Reds, yes. White Sox, no."
"What? You know what it is already?"
"Not for sure, but I think I've got a motive."
When he didn't say anything else, Sam said testily, "Well, are you going to tell me?"
"Not yet. Just go see what you can find at the museum. That'll give us a better idea what we're looking at."
"Ah. No hints. You want to pick the music, you figure it out yourself."
Sam huffed. "Fine." And he hung up.
Dean snickered and went back to sleep.
Sam was badly out of breath the next time he called. "I... I don't know what it is yet," he puffed into the phone, "but I think... it might be a Trickster."
"Why?" Dean asked as he shifted and was rewarded by the room spinning briefly.
"Mascots. The mascots... came to life... chased me out."
"It's not funny!"
"Dude, go back and look for hex bags."
"Go back? What... hex bags?"
"If you're right, you won't find any. If I'm right, you will. If we're both wrong... hell, check for EMF just to be safe."
"This was a stupid idea," Sam grumbled and hung up.
Dean braced himself for the inevitable and slowly got up to use the bathroom, using every handhold available to steady himself. He still stumbled badly on the way back, barely managing not to hit his shin on the corner of the bed, and it took a good minute for the room to stop moving after he got settled again.
Some time later—Dean wasn't sure how long, but a thunderstorm had started in the meantime—he heard the key in the lock and forced his eyes open just enough to see Sam coming in, looking very wet and distinctly unhappy. "How's it goin', Sam Spade?" he asked.
"There were hex bags," came the grudging reply. "I took pictures of the contents before I burned 'em. Want to see?"
Dean made a negative noise and closed his eyes again. "Just describe."
Sam rattled off a list of what he could identify, then spent the next hour searching the Internet for what he hadn't recognized. "It's an older witch," he finally concluded, "possibly of Swiss origin, but that doesn't really narrow things down much. I mean, we can't just look at names in the visitor log; even if she's using her birth name, we don't know if it would be German, French, or Italian."
"Oh, we know more about her than that," Dean stated.
"... We do?"
"Look again at where you found the hex bags."
Sam shuffled papers for a moment. "None of them were near White Sox exhibits."
"So... we're looking for a White Sox fan?"
"We know even more than that, dude. See what the Internet can tell you about the Black Sox Scandal."
"The Black Sox?"
Dean dozed off to the sound of Sam typing, but he woke when Sam finally said, "I don't get it. What does the fact that certain White Sox players conspired to throw the 1919 World Series have to do with a witch planting hex bags in the Baseball Hall of Fame?"
"Easy," Dean said with a smirk. "She thinks Shoeless Joe Jackson was framed and is furious that he's still banned from the Hall of Fame."
He could feel Sam's incredulous stare. "You cannot be serious."
"Hell, yes, I'm serious. Go back tomorrow and find out if there've been any recent threats regarding Jackson's banning."
Sam huffed. "Fine. How's your head?"
"Still pretty bad. I'm okay as long as I stay absolutely still. Move my head at all, and I'm back on the Tilt-o-whirl."
"Nah. I'm okay."
Dean's stomach growled traitorously. He huffed. "Uh. Guess I could use some food, if you can get some without drowning. Sounds like it's really coming down."
Sam shifted like he was looking out the window. "Yeah, it is. But I'm hungry, too. Soup sound okay?"
"Okay. Back in a few."
"And Sam? Pie."
Sam did bring back some pretty tasty soup, but he forgot the pie—deliberately, Dean suspected.
A tornado siren went off in the distance during the night, and it was still raining when Dean woke up the next morning, though not as heavily. His headache and the dizziness were both significantly better, though not gone, which made him suspect the storm system had been the culprit all along. But, in keeping with the terms of the bet, he went only to the bathroom and made Sam bring him breakfast in bed.
Sam spent most of the morning in Cooperstown without checking in. He came back with lunch and a list of names and addresses to check out. Dean very deliberately did not suggest starting with 1920 Chicago census records; he figured, correctly, that Sam could come up with that idea on his own. Instead, he went back to sleep and dozed until Sam shook him awake.
"I got a hit. Helga Schmidt—name like that, she can keep fudging her birthdate every time she moves to a new state and no one will be the wiser. Immigrated in 1869, and she's from Schweikhof, which is in southern Germany, right near the Swiss border. She lived in Chicago in 1919, and her Facebook profile says she's a White Sox fan."
"Her what profile?" Dean frowned, genuinely confused.
Sam huffed. "Dean."
"You're sure it's her?"
"Only name that matches up, and I found a few photographs from the '20s that look exactly like the woman in Akron who claims she's 30, down to a mole on her cheek that's in exactly the same place. I'll go back and see if they've got security footage of her, but it looks like a solid lead to me."
Dean smiled and let his eyes close again.
But Sam hesitated. "Um... you want to come with me?"
"Look, I know I lost. I never would have made the connections myself. But I don't know when we'll get up this way again, and... I just hate for you to miss out on what might be your one chance to see Cooperstown."
Dean looked up at him for a moment, and Sam seemed absolutely serious. "You're not gonna renege as soon as I get up, are you?"
Sam shook his head. "Two weeks of bacon cheeseburgers."
Dean sat up. "Wrong."
Sam blinked. "Wrong?"
"One bacon cheeseburger. The rest of the two weeks, you buy me pie, lunch and supper, every day."
Sam laughed. "I can't believe I thought you were just bragging about being able to solve the case from here."
"It ain't braggin' if you can back it up," said Dizzy Dean with a wink.
A/N: Yes, I did just write almost 2,000 words of whumped!Dean casefic crack for the sole purpose of making that final pun. And I make no apologies for it. :D (For those who don't know, Jay Hanna "Dizzy" Dean was the St. Louis Cardinals' ace pitcher in the 1930s and is himself enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and that final line was one of his most famous quips.) The idea is also loosely based on an Agatha Christie short story, "The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge," in which Poirot is laid up with the flu and can't help Hastings and Japp run down clues but solves the murder from his sickbed.