The following morning
Whitefish

Sam was apprehensive at first, but soon realized that whatever odd current had affected him the day before was gone. He still had a vaguely pungent vibe about the whole place, but he attributed that more to the fact that he was expecting to get sick, even though he didn't.

Dean stopped in front of the closed-down department store and eyed Sam. "Anything?" he asked.

"No. But then, I didn't feel anything here yesterday," Sam countered and glanced up at the building. "Well, nothing that made me feel sick, anyway."

Dean grumbled something under his breath, then grabbed Sam's arm and hauled him over the street toward the bank. "What about here? I got a faint reading here yesterday," he said.

Sam glanced either way, noting that nobody was paying attention to them, and then focused on the bank. "Nothing," he finally said. "I already told you, Dean. It started when we got into town. It's not there anymore, whatever it was."

The town was nearly buzzing with activity, people mulling about, doing their thing, and generally it felt much like it had the day before. Except his stomach wasn't responding to it this time around. He didn't feel uncomfortable or even vaguely nauseous.

"This is weird," Dean stated and glanced toward the restaurant. "You up for it?" he asked.

Sam made a face. "Dean ... I thought we were hunting a demon, not the thing that made me sick yesterday," he said. "For all I know, it could have been something I ate."

"You hardly ate anything yesterday, even before we got into town. So don't tell me you had something bad to eat. You kept whining about how this place was affecting you and then you got sick," Dean countered. He had that stubborn edge to his voice that always made Sam want to oppose him.

"I was not whining," Sam countered, stressing each word. "Look, Dean, whatever it was ... whether it was the residue of that ..." here he glanced around again, making sure nobody was paying undue attention to them, "demon or something else, it's gone now. I don't feel squat, okay? I'm not feeling sick or dizzy or anything else. Let's just ... come back tonight and check out the other locations. Maybe we can find something there. But there are too many people around now. Somebody might get the wrong impression if we keep hanging around outside this bank."

The look in Dean's eyes would probably have been funny under normal circumstances, but Sam was just feeling too high-strung to get any real enjoyment out of it. A quick glance in either direction proved his point to Dean, who made a face and started walking.

Sam followed him and they headed past the restaurant, which gave off no bad vibes that Sam was aware of.

"Okay, so what do you suggest we do now?" Dean asked after they'd walked in silence for a bit.

Sending his brother a sideways glance, Sam wondered if Dean even paid attention to what he said any more. "Are you not listening to me anymore? I just said I think we should come back tonight and take a look around," Sam countered, a little miffed at the obvious fact that Dean wasn't hearing him.

"Oh yeah, right," Dean countered and stopped again. "So, nothing, huh?"

Sam blinked. "Nothing what?" he asked.

Dean made a face. "You feel nothing?" he asked.

"Uh ..." Sam considered it for a moment, trying to gauge himself and his surroundings, then shrugged lightly. "I kinda felt the same way yesterday as I do now, but before we went into the restaurant. So ... maybe it was the restaurant more than anything?"

His brother's expression made him wonder what was going through Dean's mind right now. "So ... nothing?" he repeated and eyed Sam darkly.

"What? You're disappointed that I'm not puking my guts out right now?" Sam countered and spread out his arms in an encompassing gesture.

"No," Dean countered and made a face. "And by the way, yuck!" he added and glanced around. "Okay, let's find out where the other locations are. And maybe we can get some lunch today without you having to upstage it by throwing up all over the place again."

Sam clamped down on the comment that almost slipped out and decided to blatantly ignore his brother instead. He settled for an annoyed snort and glanced around for something not pizza-related.

"Oh no, you don't," Dean said. "I'm picking the place. I do not want to end up eating tofu or some crap like that."

Sam eyed him for a moment. "When have you ever seen me eat tofu?" he asked and made a face.

"You and your health-agenda. I'm sure tofu has been involved at some point," Dean countered. "I want steak. Or something along those lines."

For some reason, the word 'steak' did something to Sam that did not bode well. He grimaced. "Uh ... I don't think ..." he started, but trailed off.

Dean eyed him closely. "What?" he asked.

"I think I need to get out of this town before ..." Sam stopped abruptly and clapped a hand over his mouth.

"Aw man," Dean groaned, grabbed Sam's arm and yanked him into the nearest side alley, which fortunately also had the decency of having a trash can right around the corner.

Sam had no idea what was affecting him in this town and right now he didn't care either. All he cared about was for this feeling to stop and he suspected it wouldn't until he was past the town limit.

"Are you done?" Dean asked after a moment.

Leaning heavily onto the edge of the trashcan, Sam tried to estimate if he was and promptly felt the gag reflex start up again.

"Man, you are one sensitive chick," Dean grumbled, then patted him on the back. "Stay here. I'll get the car," he added and disappeared around the corner.

"Like I would go anywhere," Sam muttered and hunkered down while still holding onto the edge of the trashcan. His head was beginning to hurt again and he felt slightly dizzy. "Shit."

"Are you alright?" someone asked.

Sam glanced up at the man who had stopped to check on him and promptly felt the urge to barf again.

"You want me to call an ambulance?" the man asked.

With the back of one hand, he wiped his lips, then shook his head lightly. "No, that's okay. Thanks though," he said.

"Are you sure? You don't look so good," the man persisted.

"I'll be fine. My brother's getting the car. He'll be here in a second," Sam tried and wished the guy would just go away. Granted, it was above and beyond the call of duty that the guy had even stopped, but talking alone seemed to further Sam's need to throw up again.

"Well ... if you're sure," the man said, a worried look in his eyes.

"I'm sure," Sam assured him. And he was, because he could hear the rumble of the Impala's engine closing in on his position.

The man finally relented and walked on and a second later, the Impala turned the corner and came to a smooth stop right next to where Sam was standing. Dean even had the decency to get out of the car to help him and Sam was actually grateful for that, because his legs felt rubbery at this point.

Dean handed him a plastic bag. "Just in case," he said, got behind the wheel and drove them out of town again. "You're one hell of a fun date, you know that?" he asked and despite his obvious attempt to make a joke of it, Sam could hear the concern in his voice. "What the hell is up with you and this town?"

"Don't know," Sam muttered and wished Dean would stop talking to him.

"If it was something in the air, you'd think I would be affected too, huh?" Dean asked and pulled the car in next to the cabin. He got out and opened the door for Sam, who at this point wasn't totally sure he could even get up.

Sam glanced up at him, then closed his lids. Moving his eyes was enough to aggravate the now thudding headache and the worse his head hurt, the more he wanted to hurl. He heard Dean saying something, but couldn't focus on it.

***

Dean stared at Sam for a moment, fully realizing that his brother had just passed out, and if he hadn't been worried before, he was so now. "Jeez, Sammy," he muttered, sent a quick glance around the area, then pulled his brother out of the car. He couldn't very well leave him sitting there. It was still too cold outside and the last thing the kid needed on top of this was to get a cold or something worse.

"With his luck right now, he'll get pneumonia or something," Dean muttered, loaded his unconscious brother over one shoulder and carried him into the cabin. This scene was all too familiar to him, reminding him of not too long ago when he had dragged his brother's lifeless body into a cabin in that wretched ghost town out in the middle of nowhere.

He eased him down on his bed and without giving it any further thought, quickly checked the pulse on his neck. Then he pulled a blanket over Sam after removing his boots and finally shut the door. "What the hell is wrong with this place?" he asked himself. It was obvious that something had to be, and whatever it was, it was affecting Sam in a very bad way.

The waiting game had never been his favorite pastime, but for now he could do nothing but wait. At first he considered calling a doctor, but the night before Sam had gotten better on his own, so Dean supposed that Sam just had to stay the hell out of Whitefish.

To do something constructive with the time it would take for Sam to wake up again, Dean opened the laptop and flopped down in front of it to google this town and whatever weird events might have transpired here.

It took him less than fifteen minutes to dig up several sites that reported on odd happenings in Whitefish. All were seemingly of a supernatural origin in one way or another, but none of the sites he hit on had even a vaguely plausible explanation for it. It seemed that back in the nineteen-forties, an illness had started to plague the good citizens of Whitefish. It had lasted for a month, nobody had died, and since then everything had been hunky-dory.

Whitefish had the lowest sickness absence in the country except for some visitors, who seemed to get hit by the same odd illness. One site speculated on that only people that were highly attuned to the supernatural would get sick, but since the site generally seemed a bit dubious and also reported on aliens landing in the bay of the Whitefish shore, Dean wasn't keen on taking anything they said for granted.

But the symptoms described were generally what Sam was going through, which made him wonder if there wasn't a grain of truth to that particular speculation. Before he could decide on how to interpret it, his phone suddenly went off.

"Talk to me," he said, not even bothering to check the caller id.

"Dean. Are you standing me up?"

He frowned, at first a little baffled by not only the question, but the voice behind it. Then he nearly felt like slapping his brow. "Lucy," he countered. "No, not at all. I'm sorry. I got a little side-tracked. It's been a crazy day."

"Well, that sounds interesting. About that dinner," she replied, a smile in her voice.

"Yeah, well, you see ... my brother's not feeling so hot and can't seem to shake that stomach bug," Dean said. He hated having to do just what she obviously expected him to do, but truth be told, there was no way he was going to leave Sam alone while he was unconscious.

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Was it something he ate?" Lucy asked and she sounded concerned enough.

"I'm not sure, to be honest. It seems to be the town or something in the air, actually. I've just been looking up some background info on Whitefish and it seems this has happened before," Dean countered and eyed the latest results on the screen in front of him. "You've lived here a long time. Have you ever heard of anything like that?"

"Well, there was that incident back in the nineteen-forties," she said. "The whole town seemed to have come down with a stomach bug, everybody was throwing up left and right. And then it just disappeared again and nobody was the wiser. At least that's how the story goes. But I've heard of single incidents here and there with people coming into town who got sick for no apparent reason. Maybe it is something in the air."

"Yeah, maybe. I just can't figure out why it's not affecting me. There are these oddball sites claiming it's supernatural in nature," Dean said and chuckled to impress on her that he certainly didn't think so.

"Don't diss that idea, Dean. There's more between Heaven and Earth than we mere mortals know about," Lucy countered seriously.

"You believe in that stuff?" he asked, lending his tone a surprised note. Actually, he was surprised. Lucy St. Clair had struck him a very down-to-earth type of woman. But then, the old saying still had merit. Shallow waters ran deep.

"Oh yes. I'm convinced there's more going on than we can immediately see," she said. "Well, give me a call when your brother feels better. If he's reluctant to go into Whitefish, maybe you could come alone?"

Dean glanced over at Sam, who hadn't moved since he'd dumped him on the bed. "We'll see," he countered. "Depends on how he feels when he wakes up again. It took a couple of hours yesterday before ..." He trailed off, suddenly realizing that he hadn't told her that Sam had recovered the night before only to get sick again this morning.

"So, he feels better when he's not in Whitefish?" she asked.

"Uh ... yeah," Dean replied and frowned lightly. "Well, I'd better go. I'll give you a call when I know how he's doing, okay?"

"Okay. Just don't forget about it," Lucy countered, the smile back in her voice.

"Oh, I wouldn't dare," Dean joked with a smirk, then hung up on her.

He spent about five minutes with just staring at his phone. Then he put it on the table next to the laptop and stared at it there for a moment.

Before he could formulate a clear thought on what exactly it was that bothered him about the conversation he had just ended, Sam groaned and shifted, then raised his head a little and squinted at Dean. "What happened?" he asked and pushed himself groggily up on his elbows.

"You passed out, you wimp," Dean countered good-naturedly. Although he would never openly admit it, he was deeply relieved that Sam had come around on his own and the only way to both hide the overwhelming relief and subdue his need to hug the hell out of his brother was to drown the situation in humor.

Sam squinted, then grimaced before he dropped back down on the bed and draped an arm over his face. "What the hell is wrong with me?" he muttered into the crook of his arm.

"You're just a big softy. That's all," Dean countered. "On the other hand, your reaction to Whitefish could be connected to the fact that a lot of people get sick when they visit. And the whole town suffered from the same symptoms in the nineteen-forties. It passed after a month, apparently, and nobody died of it."

Sam pulled his arm away from his face and sat up, an uncertain expression edged into his features. "Sure felt like it was something I could die of," he groused, pushed the blanket away and pulled his feet over the edge of the bed. "Man, I feel like crap."

"Then stay in bed," Dean countered. "Lucy called, asking about ... you know what," he added. "If you're not up to it, I think I'll go alone."

Sam swallowed, visibly affected by even the hinting toward food. "I think you'd better go alone then," he said. "There's no way I'm going back into that town."

"It's gonna be a bit difficult for us to do our job if you throw up every time you get close to a town," Dean mused.

Sam made a face and threw his pillow at Dean, who caught it in one hand and returned it the same way. Sam wasn't at the top of his game, though, and the pillow hit him smack in the face. "I've never had this happen before and you know that," he defended himself grumpily and hugged the pillow to his chest while hunching over a little.

"Yeah, well, there obviously has to be a first time for everything. Lucy lives on the outskirts of town. You sure you don't wanna try your luck?" Dean countered.

"My luck? Are you kidding me?" Sam growled. "No, if you're so eager to see her, go alone. I can't even think about ..." Here he paused and grimaced.

"Don't say it. I get your point," Dean said, raising both hands to ward off any further mention of food that might send Sam's overtly sensitive stomach into overdrive again. "I'll just give her a call later," he added. "So ... how are you feeling now?"

Again Sam grimaced. "Nauseous," he admitted. "Not as bad as before, but it's still there."

"Which bothers the crap out of me, to be honest," Dean said. "What the hell is it about Whitefish that makes you sick?"

Sam considered it for a moment, then shook his head lightly. "I don't know," he admitted. "I'm just ..." He sighed lightly. "I don't know," he repeated.

"You know what bothers me too?" Dean asked and eyed him for a moment. "Bela. How the hell did she know where we were? Maybe it's her doing this? A little something in your coffee?"

The idea had struck him before. It didn't make much sense in the long run, of course, but he dearly wanted to pin something really nasty on her so he would have an excuse to pull the trigger on her the next time he saw her. And he had no doubt she would turn up again.

The frown on Sam's brow and the fact that his brother didn't reply right away made it evident that the idea seemed at least vaguely plausible to Sam as well. "You think?" he asked.

"I don't know, dude. She's mean enough for it," Dean said.

"When would she have done that? I mean ..." Sam made a face and sent a brief glance toward the bathroom door.

"Good question. But with her, you never know. Remember, she gets her info from the dearly departed. I'm surprised that bitch hasn't been possessed about ten times over. She's fiddling with forces she doesn't understand," Dean surmised and rubbed the back of his neck thoughtfully. There was something there. Maybe she had some kind of charm that protected her against possession or something.

"What ... you think she put a hex on me or something?" Sam asked, looking decidedly worried now.

"Either that or she's making good use of the good old-fashioned way of getting rid of the competition," Dean countered. "Rat poison."

"Let me repeat. How would she do that? Unless she works undercover at the diner, how the hell would she be able to put anything in my coffee without us noticing?" Sam asked.

For a moment, Dean considered it. Then he sighed. "Point taken. I'm just desperate for a reason to blow her head of, you know? She's really pissing me off," he said.

"It's not Bela's doing anyway. Not unless she's causing that weird current in town. I wish we could trust someone local enough to ask about it," Sam muttered and gingerly got to his feet.

Dean smirked. "I know someone local who's likely to know more about it," he said and picked up his phone. "Are you gonna be okay on your own if I take off?"

Sam stopped at the bathroom door and glanced back at Dean. "Yeah, I'll be fine. I'll set up some sort of booby-trap to catch any unforseen visitors."

"Good idea," Dean said. "Maybe a shotgun?"

As expected, Sam didn't reply but disappeared into the bathroom.

Dean shook his head lightly and dialed Lucy's number. "Hey, Lucy. How about some company?"

***