The first thing he became consciously aware of was the smell. It stunk to high heaven of antiseptics and industrial strength cleaner. His stomach rolled and he tried to roll with it, because he was damned sure he was going to throw up all over the place if he didn't. But the second he tried to move, every inch of him flared up in pain instead.

'Keep your wits about you, boy. Don't give anything away.' Rule number one when you woke up in a hospital and had no frigging clue how you'd gotten there. Stay sharp. Dad had pounded that into his head and it had developed into a sort of second nature. If he woke up with the smell of antiseptic fluid in his nose, he was in a hospital and needed to act fast.

His head hurt worse than the rest of him and he figured he was a few hours overdue for a drink. But why did the rest of him hurt? He wrecked his brain without opening his eyes, trying to piece together what might have landed him in the hospital, and then it all came back to him in one foul sweep.

"Aw man," he groaned. The warehouse, the ceiling caving in over Bobby, then over him. "Son of a bitch," he pressed out and tried to push one arm under him so he could get up. But nothing worked right. It all hurt too damned much right now.

"Easy there." Soothing voice, definitely female. Hands on his shoulders pushed him gently back into the mattress.

"Where am I?" he ground out and finally cracked an eyelid. He was concussed if the throbbing, pounding headache was anything to go by. The light, although dimmed by normal hospital standards, was almost too much. His stomach revolted violently, but he realized he had nothing to throw up from and wondered if he's hurled before without knowing it.

"St. Luke's Northland Hospital. Just lie still. You have a concussion," the nurse said.

Her voice was warm and friendly, like a nurse's voice should be, but he had no real sense for her right now. "What about Bobby?" he rasped and wished desperately that his stomach would stop trying to vacate his body through his mouth.

"Who?" she asked. A cool hand slipped onto his brow and he almost moaned at the temporary relief this gave him.

"The other guy with me," he tried. Could be that Bobby had used an alias. He hadn't been on too many hunts with him where the man had gotten hurt, but he was pretty sure Bobby used aliases too.

The nurse sighed lightly. "You were the only one retrieved from the site from what I know. I'll have to ask admission."

"Please do," he rasped, then grimaced. "Can you give me something for the headache? It's killing me."

"Of course," she agreed and vanished.

He just lay there and listened to his surroundings while trying not to feel the pain, which was about as successful as trying to ignore a truck parked on your foot. The thought that he was the only one the paramedics had dug out of the rubble made his stomach roll in a whole new way. Did that mean that Bobby was dead? He couldn't even begin to cope with that bit of news. How the hell was he going to move on now? Who would he turn to when he needed help? And what about Sam?

With a valiant attempt at ignoring the stabbing pain that made his eyeballs feel like they were about to pop like overripe fruit, he opened his lids and squinted at the hospital room he was in. Typical decor. White walls, window to the left, door to the right, closet built into the wall beside the door, another door leading off to the bathroom. No sign of anyone sitting around waiting for him to wake up. And who would that be anyway?

He had left his wallet in the Impala outside the warehouse, which meant that these people probably had no frigging clue who he was. Before he could come up with a way to handle that, the nurse returned and he finally got a good look at her. The bad news was that she was probably close to fifty. The good news was that she was one hell of a knockout and she had just about the warmest smile this side of mom.

"Your concussion isn't too bad," she stated quietly, inserted a needle into the IV connected to his right hand and injected whatever she had brought to take the pain away. "Are you an alcoholic?" she asked with a sideways glance at him.

He blinked at her, considered that for a moment, then made a face. "If you're asking if I drink too much, then yeah, probably," he countered and tried a smile which fell flat because he felt like crap. "Aw man, I constantly feel like I'm gonna hurl," he admitted and swallowed weakly against the bile rising in his throat.

"With your injuries and without being able to properly assess how bad your concussion was, we've put you on Benzodiazepine. Your blood alcohol level was far too high," the nurse said. "It will probably make you feel a little sick for a while, but in the long run it's better for you. Did you intend to stop drinking or ...?"

He let his lids close. "No, not really," he admitted. There was no sense in denying it. He knew he was on a self-destruct course to Hell and he hadn't consciously considered stopping unless he found Sam.

"You should, though. A young man like you?" She sounded sad and briefly squeezed his arm. "I have to make my rounds, but I'll be back a little later. Do yourself a favor and don't try to get up."

He heard the soft pad of her soft-soled shoes move away and then there was the typical hospital silence again, the one that had all the undercurrents of life and death about it. The distant murmur of voices, the rushing of the air ventilation system, the ping of a distant machine, the occasional sound of footsteps passing by the door. He knew these sounds by heart, had lived through them more times than he cared to remember, and it all reminded him of what he had lost. Of mom when dad had taken him to visit her in the hospital after she had given birth to Sam. Of dad the day he had died. Of Sam through his countless hospital stays. And it was all too much for him. How could he handle the world when he was all alone? He couldn't go on hunting like this. The last anchor to a world gone bad had been Bobby and now he was gone too? What was there to hold onto now?

He let himself go, shut his eyes and let his mind drift until there was nothing but darkness and silence and he wished it would last forever. But there was still the off chance that he might find Sam. He couldn't give up until he knew what had happened to his brother.

***

The next time he woke up, he felt better. It was odd, really. He had always figured that beating any kind of addiction had to be a bitch and that it would be a long drawn-out agony.

Then he remembered the nurse telling him he was on some kind of detox program, which would probably explain why he wasn't feeling like death warmed over. At least not yet.

He shifted a little, rolled his head to the left, toward the window, and instantly regretted moving.

"Hi."

He squinted at the window for a moment, narrowed his eyes, then rolled his head back toward the door. A woman was standing there, short, dark hair, dark eyes, copper skin. She looked like a Native American to him and he had no idea who she was and couldn't remember having seen her before.

She stepped forward, up to the right side of the bed, her gaze scrutinizing, an officious air about her. If he had to venture a guess, he would peg her for a cop. "I'm Susan Murphy. I'm with the Kansas City Police force," she said and held out a hand.

Dean almost grinned and wondered briefly if she knew who he was. Why else would a cop come to see him? "Uh ..." was all he managed and ignored her outstretched hand. Until he knew what she knew about him, he wasn't keen on giving anything away. Then it suddenly struck him what exactly she had said. "Sorry, Kansas City Police?" he asked and tried not to frown because it would hurt his bruised brow. "As far as I remember ..." He stopped short and risked a light frown, which pulled at a gash he hadn't been aware he had on his brow.

Officer Murphy eyed him closely for a second. "Could you give me your name? You didn't have any identification on you."

That was all he needed to know. Without a wallet, though, any of his aliases were a moot point. He couldn't remember the correct names right now anyway. The best course of action was feigning amnesia. "Uh ..." he said and gave her a look laced with helplessness. "I ... don't remember."

Officer Murphy nodded. "I assumed as much," she said with what could only be considered an understanding smile. "You weren't exactly lucky apart from that you survived the collapse, of course. The fire fighters that pulled you out of the ruins were surprised that you were alive."

"Collapse?" he asked and let his gaze skirt over the room as if searching his memory for what she might be talking about. He would have to be careful for the next few days until he felt it was safe to 'come out' of his pretend amnesia. "I don't remember anything," he insisted. "What happened?"

"Well, from what we can tell and from what my colleagues at the WPD said, you were inside a condemned building when it collapsed. Nobody else was hurt, fortunately," Officer Murphy said.

Dean glanced at her, wondered briefly if the nurse had told them about his request for information about Bobby, then frowned lightly. "I think ..." He reached up and rubbed lightly at his brow. "I think I remember that. Vaguely. There was someone else with me ... I think." He sighed and closed his eyes. "A guy," he added and chanced a brief glance up at her to see how she was taking this.

"Nobody else was found in the rubble," she said. "Is that all you remember?"

He sighed again, upping the drama a little, and the thought that Sam would have been proud flitted through his mind and added some truth to the scene. "Yeah, for now," he said. "How'd I get here? Kansas City isn't exactly in the neighborhood."

"Well, you were flown here by helicopter. Better facilities and all that," Officer Murphy said with a vague smile that was obviously supposed to be calming.

For once he was glad he had been out cold. Having to fly on any given day was not his idea of fun. Being flown by helicopter in his present condition would probably have triggered a full-blown panic attack.

"You still don't remember your name?" Officer Murphy asked.

"No, sorry," he countered and made a face just to underline that he wasn't happy about it. On some level he didn't really care, of course. This was all an act. He remembered everything clearly. It was just the time after the ceiling had collapsed on top of him and until he had woken up here that was a blank.

"Don't worry. It'll come back to you," she said with that supportive smile and briefly reached out to squeeze his arm lightly. She seemed somewhat awkward about it, like she wasn't used to being supportive.

"I hope so," he said and tried a vague smile.

"Well, I'll leave you to get some more rest and I'll be back if I find anything that might help you remember," she said, nodded once and left the room.

Dean sighed and closed his eyes again. He felt like he had been squashed, which in essence he actually had been. And all he really wanted to do was sleep.

***

Susan Murphy had been a police officer for the past five years and she enjoyed her job. Working the evidence, finding clues, solving cases, that was what she liked about it. The added benefit of being able to help people certainly didn't take away from that either. This case was a tad puzzling, though. She couldn't shed the feeling that this young man was lying to her about not being able to remember. It didn't necessarily mean that he was a criminal, but she would have to look into it anyway.

She stopped at the nurses station and showed her badge. "Have you taken any blood from the patient in 203?" she asked.

The nurse, a woman in her late forties, looked up with slight surprise. "Our John Doe? Yes, of course we have, officer," she said.

"I would like for you to send a sample to our crime lab. Since he can't remember his name, we might be able to find him in our database," Murphy said.

"You think he may be a criminal?" the nurse asked and sent a glance toward the closed door of 203.

"Not necessarily," Murphy countered. "But it may help jog his memory if we can present him with his details."

The nurse nodded. "Of course. I'll make sure a sample is sent right over," she said with a smile, jotted down the details and then returned to her paperwork.

Murphy left the hospital and returned to her desk at the office, where she settled down to tend to some of her own paperwork. The blood tests would take a week or two to get back to her unless she called and made a rush-job of it. She just sat there and eyed her phone for a moment, then sighed and picked it up to do just that. She wanted the answers to this one and as soon as possible. Something told her she would be in for a surprise.

***

For the next two days, she tended to other more pressing cases, but kept returning to this case in her mind whenever she had a spare minute.

She was almost done with her day when her phone rang for the umpteenth time that day. With a sigh, she picked it up. "Murphy," she said.

"Officer Murphy, the results of that bloodtest you had us rush through have just come back," the forensics officer said at the other end.

"Oh, that's great. Thanks a lot for getting it done so quickly," she countered and rose.

"Yeah, well, are you sure you had the hospital send us the right sample?" the officer asked.

Murphy frowned. "What do you mean? Is something wrong with it?"

"Not with the blood as such, no. It's just, the DNA profile belongs to a six months old baby boy who died twenty-eight years ago," the officer said.

Murphy just stood there for a second and stared ahead of herself. "Uh ... are you sure?" she asked.

"We ran the test twice just to confirm it. So, yeah, we're sure. I've sent the file up with internal mail. You should have it on your desk by tomorrow morning. I just thought I'd call and let you know so you're prepared."

"Thanks. That was considerate," Murphy said and hung up, then sat back down. Okay, it would seem that her initial feeling that something was different about this case was right on the money.

As there was nothing more she could do this evening anyway, she figured she might as well go home, get some well-deserved rest and then wreck her brain over this tomorrow. She shut down her computer, grabbed her jacket and her bag, and headed over toward the elevators. While she waited for the cabin to arrive, she stared at the stainless steel doors and almost snorted out loud. Who was she kidding? She wasn't going to get any rest until she knew what this was about.

***

Two days later

In tune with the story he had told that cop, Dean insisted that he remembered almost nothing, that he had no clue who he was, and that he felt lousy on account of the detox program he was being pulled through. The fact was, he didn't feel lousy. He wasn't happy about where he was, but he wasn't feeling particularly sick or shaky or in need of a drink. All he felt was abandoned, but that was something he buried deep down until he could get out of this place and take stock of what his next course of action would be.

Without Bobby to turn to his chances of finding Sam had diminished severely. His cell phone had been smashed to smithereens in that warehouse, which left him with one or two numbers memorized and that was it. Bobby's he knew by heart. And Sam's number too. What he couldn't really put together was that there had been no sign of Bobby's body. One thing he did know for sure was that Bobby would never have left him there. If he had somehow made it out of the collapse, he would have turned up by now, would have kept track of where Dean was.

So what did all that mean? That Bobby had now vanished the same way that Sam had? Dean was fairly certain that Bobby couldn't have survived the ceiling collapsing on him like that, but then again, Dean had.

The nurse from his first day in this hospital, nurse Annie Taylor, was friendly and calm and easy-going most of the time unless he tried to get up. She wouldn't hear of it and he figured he had no reason to fight her. He had nowhere to go, noone to turn to. Why should he be in a hurry? As long as the hospital didn't kick him to the curb because he had no insurance, he didn't feel any particular need to get up and get moving.

After four days, he felt better physically and he wasn't really surprised when officer Murphy stepped back through his door around midday of his fifth day in the hospital. He just hoped she hadn't found anything worth while that would force him to leave quickly. Her smile was pleasant enough and she didn't bring handcuffs and a bunch of other cops, which would probably mean that she hadn't found anything yet.

Unlike the first time he had met her, he was now sitting up and not feeling nearly as crappy. "Officer Murphy," he said and eyed her.

"You remember my name," she countered with a smile and stopped at the foot of his bed.

"Yeah, I guess I do. Wish I could say the same for my own," he said and matched her smile. "So, any news?"

"I'd say so," she agreed, which made him a teensy bit nervous.

"Is it bad?" he asked, unsure what to expect of her.

"That depends," she said and pulled a file folder out of her bag. "Since you suffer from amnesia, I took the liberty of checking the databases for any information on you," she added and opened the folder. "Do you want to venture a guess at what I found?"

He clamped down on any and all reactions immediately, well aware that he would have to keep himself in check, depending on what she had found. "Uh ... I don't know," he admitted. "You found out I'm a serial killer?" he added and gave her a hesitant grin, half joking.

"Not really, no," she said, which almost made him sigh. "I found out – based on your bloodwork – that you died at the age of six months twenty-eight years ago."

He blinked. "What?" Now that was news to him. "I ... there must be some kinda mistake. Clearly I'm not dead ... whoever I am."

"Clearly. Which made me dig a little deeper. Does the name Dean Winchester ring a bell?" she pressed on.

Ouch. She knew his name. That couldn't be good. "Uh ... no. Not off hand," he lied and hoped she didn't belong to those people who could spot a lie a mile off. He was a little bit rattled right now, which might put a cramp in his performance.

"According to your bloodwork, that's you," she said and eyed him closely. "But, then again, according to this," she continued and nodded at the file in her hands, "you should be dead and a baby, not a grown man. So ... needless to say ... I did a little more digging. I checked some of the information, called the physician in charge of signing the death certificate back then, and found out that there is a possibility that mistakes were made back then."

He stared at her, unwilling to give her any kind of reaction until he knew what exactly she had found out. "What ... mistakes?"

"According to the physician I spoke to, you had been in and out of hospitals for the last three months of your life and that you suffered from some unknown disease that ended up killing you. You were buried in a closed casket and your parents only saw you once after you were declared dead," Murphy plowed on. "So I called the man listed as your father."

It felt like scratching the needle across a record and he had to fight to stay calm, to not give away that this was damned upsetting. He cleared his throat and kept his hands still even though he very much wanted to dig his fingers into the bedspread. "What happened?"

"He came in for a talk and ... well ... he wasn't happy. He was very adamant about not wanting to dredge up the past and insisted vehemently that there was no way a mistake could have been made. The fact, of course, remains that your DNA-profile fits that of a dead six-month-old baby and that is generally cause for alarm. And it's not even a partial match, which would have made me drop this case right here and now. It's a complete match. There is no doubt in my mind that you are Dean Winchester," Murphy continued.

His mouth had suddenly gone very dry. She so far hadn't mentioned dad's name, but she insisted that he was who he of course knew he was. The thing that threw him was that she claimed to have spoken to his father, which Dean of course knew was impossible. "Uh ... so ... if ... the father ... says no, doesn't that mean ..." He felt awkward, unsure of how to handle this. He knew what he knew, but something was off about this whole thing, something was completely and utterly messed up.

"Well, I've dealt with a few parents who lost a baby and many of them are not rational. They're torn up with grief, which is of course understandable. And he was pretty emotional about it even though he tried to be anything but. I'm sure that if a crime was committed, he wasn't involved in it. The man was genuinely devastated by the loss of his son and obviously did not want to relive that grief." She paused and glanced down at the file. "My theory here is that you were switched with the dead baby. It's likely that the dead baby had a striking likeness to you, which might have been why whoever took you from the hospital chose you in the first place."

He blinked heavily. "Uh ... I ..." He cleared his throat again and scrubbed a hand over his lips. "Are you telling me that my ... real father is still alive?"

The second he said it, he knew he had slipped up by the way she eyed him. "Are you telling me that the man you thought was your father isn't?" she asked.

"I ... don't know," he said, well aware that he was walking on thin ice right now. "I don't ... remember." Starting to feel desperate, he was casting about in his mind for a name he could use, any name that would get her off his case.

"If you could only remember who you have been for the past twenty-eight years, we might be able to find out more," Murphy said, obviously dropping it for now. "That said, I did want a second opinion, so I called the mother listed."

It was at this point in time that Dean almost lost his already precarious hold on himself. He said nothing, just stared at her, because he was afraid his voice would disclose how rattled he was by this. First and foremost, what the hell was going on? Dad was alive? And now she told him that she had talked to mom? How the hell was that possible?

"Her attitude towards the whole thing was quite different. She was not so inclined to brush this off and she wants to see you," Murphy said and smiled vaguely. "Now the question is, do you want to see her? I know this must be a lot to swallow, considering that you don't remember who you are and who you think you are might not be who you really are."

For a moment longer all he did was stare at her. Then he glanced over toward the window and squinted at the light. His headache was still there, although subdued by painkillers to a tolerable level. "McGillicuddy," he said, settling on the last name dad had used before ... He trailed off in his thoughts and frowned despite the pull on the gash on his forehead. "I think that's ... my name."

"Do you remember anything else? Your first name maybe?" Murphy asked.

"Evan," he said and glanced at her. "My dad's name was Elroy. But he is dead."

Murphy's expression revealed very little, but the look in her eyes told him she was excited. "You remember?"

"Some of it, yeah," he agreed. "Are you telling me ... that Elroy McGillicuddy wasn't my dad?"

"I'll look into it," she promised. "This helps a lot, Evan. Before I go, what about Mrs. Winchester? Do you want to see her or ...?"

The chance of seeing mom again, no matter how impossible the idea was, nearly barreled him over. He had a struggle on his hands that he nearly couldn't maintain where his emotions were concerned. "Yeah, sure," he said, trying hard to keep the eagerness out of his voice.

When push came to shove, these people that Murphy was talking about might not be who he thought they were. Winchester wasn't that uncommon a name and she hadn't mentioned any first names. "Okay. I'll set it up. It'll probably be tomorrow," she said. "Do you need anything before I go?" she asked.

He shook his head lightly. "No, thanks. I'm fine," he countered.

The second the doors shut behind her was the second he stopped pretending to be in control. But he couldn't let go either. Something was totally out of wack here and it staggered him. He thought back over the events that had lead him to this point and it was an easy-to-follow straight line. The job in Wichita had gone south and a demon had been responsible. He had woken up in the hospital with all the injuries a collapse like that could have caused. There was no real break in the line of his reality, so either he was going nuts and imagining things or something else had gone south without his knowledge. He just didn't know what that was and there was nobody to ask about it.

***