With the IV gone and his general state of health better, Dean was out of bed half an hour after Mary and John had left. He had to move, had to get back on his feet since it generally seemed to be the only thing he could control at this point in his life. So he paced around the room, only stopping now and again to stare out the window at this city he didn't know, while he kept alternating between the belief that he had gone nuts and was locked up somewhere in a padded cell to the rippling hope that this was all real and he had somehow ended up in an alternate reality. He couldn't settle on either because he didn't know, had never met anyone who had come from an alternate reality – unless you counted demons, of course – and it all made his head hurt. The concussion had receded, but he still had a headache and the fading bruises. He had been in that collapse and he had seen that ceiling come down on top of Bobby. But if he was now in a different reality, the likelihood that Bobby hadn't been present here for the collapse was a fair assumption.

The more he thought about it, the more he became convinced that Bobby could not have survive that collapse though, and it tore his heart out. And Sam was still missing, presumably stuck somewhere in their reality, maybe slowly being brainwashed into thinking he was evil or something like it. He stopped at the window again, grabbed onto the frame with one hand and pressed his brow against the cool glass. If Sam had been with him, here, this would have been everything he had ever wanted. Their parents were alive here, and together. But without Sam, without knowing where Sam was or what had happened to him, Dean knew he would never be able to settle into this reality. He couldn't just forget about Sam and live the life he'd always wanted, because the life he'd always wanted had always included Sam.

"Shit," he muttered, pushed away from the window and started pacing again. He wanted to enjoy this, wanted to be deliriously happy to have his parents back, to get a chance at the one thing he had never had – a normal life. But how could he? It just wasn't going to happen without Sam.

He stopped short and frowned, then reached up to absentmindedly pick at the gauze pad covering the gash on his brow until the tape came loose and he could peel it off. He didn't need it any more. He wasn't bleeding any more.

At some point – he wasn't exactly sure when – he had started accepting that this was an alternate reality. If it was something he imagined, it would have been picture-perfect. Hence it would have included Sam, a happy Sam. Maybe even a married Sam.

He snorted at the thought and fingered the scabbed edges of the gash. If this was an alternate reality, then maybe Sam existed here too. Maybe mom and dad hadn't told him about him yet. Maybe ... He stopped himself with a sigh. He would have to ask, would have to find a way to ask without it seeming odd. What if there had been a Sam here and they had lost him too? Maybe that was why dad was so opposed to this, why mom was so unquestioningly happy to have him back? Okay, there was that little thing with the DNA, something he still didn't really know how to handle. It did point to the option of this being an alternate reality. Maybe whoever had come up with it, had come up with it earlier, had perfected it earlier. He shook his head and let his hand drop, then resumed his pacing.

"You'll be wearing grooves in the floor if you keep this up, Evan."

He stopped dead, then turned back to face nurse Taylor. "I don't like being bedridden for too long," he confessed and tried a vague smile. "And it's Dean."

She eyed him closely for a moment, then smiled back. "Of course it is," she said. "So, are you looking forward to getting to know your real parents?"

Now that was a valid question, wasn't it? He sighed, nodded once. "Yeah, I am actually. After my dad died, I was kinda alone in the world, you know? Not a nice place to be."

She nodded. "I can imagine," she said. "You never knew that McGillicuddy wasn't your dad?"

Dean shook his head. "Nope, never occurred to me. He wouldn't have won any father of the year awards, but he was my dad and he ... he cared. I know he did. He didn't show it much, but he cared."

The look in her eyes told him more than her words. She didn't think that the so-called Elroy McGillicuddy had cared about him, but she didn't say that. "I'm sure he did," she said instead. "It's almost lunch time," she added. "Since you're up and I haven't had lunch yet, maybe you'd like to join me in the cafeteria? It'd do you good to get out of this room for a bit," she suggested.

"Sounds like a great idea," he agreed, then glanced down at his bare feet before shrugging. It wasn't exactly cold and he really needed to get out of this room.

Nurse Taylor glanced down at his feet as well. "We've got some really snazzy hospital slippers to go with the rest of the ensemble," she said with a smile on her lips. "You should probably put on a robe too."

He grimaced briefly, then shrugged again. To hell with it. All that mattered to him was getting out of here for a bit.

Nurse Taylor managed to take his mind off things for an hour before he had to get back to his room and she back to her job for another hour before she headed home. When the darkness settled over the land, he just sat on his bed and stared out of the window while trying to determine how to handle everything. He needed to get into the research as soon as possible, to try and find a way to get back to where he had been so he could find Sam.

As painful as that thought was that he had to leave this place and this one chance at happiness, he also knew without the shadow of a doubt that he would never be happy if Sam wasn't with him or at least a phone call away.


The following morning

Dean was up before the crack of dawn after a night of interrupted sleep and he was anxious beyond reason. He figured that in part he had a very tough time believing this was real, that he would probably have a tough time with it for a while to come. Dammit, he wanted to stay here, wanted to know that his parents were alive and happy. If the research he was planning on doing dug up a way from him to get Sam here instead of having to go back, then they would stay. He had more or less decided on that already.

"Good morning." Officer Murphy stepped into the room, a smile on her lips. "You rearing to go?" she asked.

He gave her a tentative smile and mopped the back of one hand over his brow. "Yeah," he said and grimaced when his hand came away sweaty. "I didn't sleep much last night," he confessed without really knowing why he would tell her that.

"Well, you have a lot to be excited about," she countered.

"Yeah, I guess," he agreed. "Uhm ... where are my clothes?"

"Nothing apart from your boots survived, I'm afraid," she said and made a face. "Your jacket and t-shirt were shredded and bloody and ... they had to cut your jeans off you," she added.

He glanced down himself, then rubbed thoughtfully at the edges of the healing gash on his brow. "I guess you could call this a fashion statement," he said and met her eyes when he looked up again. He wasn't comfortable about having to ask for handouts, even from his parents, but the truth was that he didn't have a dime to his name right now. Without his wallet and the fake credit cards, and considering that this most likely was an alternate reality, money-wise he was pretty screwed.

"I'm sure your parents won't mind helping you out until you're back on your feet, Dean," Murphy said. "I checked into your ... into McGillicuddy's background and ... well ... it must have been a fake name. There's no data on an Elroy McGillicuddy or his son Evan. It makes it fairly difficult to track him, to find out anything about him. I'll keep the case file open if you want me to."

Dean sank down on the edge of the bed and stared ahead of himself for a minute, then looked up to meet her eyes again. "Nah, I think I want to put this part of my life behind me, if you don't mind. He didn't hurt me, after all. The man must have been pretty messed up to do what he did."

Murphy nodded. "I'm assuming he must have had a wife at some point since he managed to switch the dead baby with you. Did he ever mention her?"

Dean shrugged lightly. "He generally said that ... my mom died when I was a baby and ... that was that. He didn't want to talk about it. The things I remembered about my real mom ... I assumed it was her, you know?"

"Makes sense," she agreed. "Well, if you don't want more information on this, I'll close the case. There's really no reason to dig further into this. And we can always reopen it if you change your mind."

"Thanks," he said and hoped this would be the last of it where the police was concerned. He had the distinct impression that dad was going to give him the third degree at some point about where he had been, what he had done and so on. He would have to keep it simple, would have to maintain that his life had been dull, repetitive and nothing worth talking about. "Thank you, officer Murphy. For everything," he added and turned up the charm a notch.

Murphy's immediate response was expected. She blushed slightly. "You're welcome," she said. "I'm only glad it turned out okay."

"Yeah, me too," he said.

She glanced at her watch. "Well, I'd better get going," she said, then pulled a business card out of one pocket. "If you need anything, information or whatever, give me a call, okay?" she said and held it out to him.

He took it and struggled to keep a smirk at bay. He hadn't been friends with too many cops in his life. "Thanks," he said. "I will."

With that she left again and he just sat there on the edge of his bed and stared down at the business card and tried to understand what exactly was happening to him right now. Was this real? Could it be real? If so, was there any way of bringing Sam into this too? Because this ... this would be heaven for his brother. "I'm gonna find you, Sammy. Somehow, I'm gonna find you," he muttered under his breath, then sighed heavily and glanced up at the clock above the door. Two more hours before they came to pick him up. For the first time in twenty-four years, he felt the excitement ripple through him that he as a kid had associated with Christmas and birthdays and just generally being around his parents. A feeling he had felt in spades the day Sam had been born too.


They turned up half an hour earlier than expected, which stopped Dean's rising nervousness in its tracks. He had just about reached the threshold of what he could stomach when Mary suddenly stepped through the open door, a bright smile on her lips, a big bag over her shoulder.

Dean got off the bed immediately and realized that he had actually expected a no-show. It would have proven that he was off his rocker in a sense. But now, that she was here, he couldn't think of a single thing to say.

"I spoke to officer Murphy this morning and she told me that you had nothing to wear. So I took the liberty of picking up a few things," she said and put the bag down on the chair next to the bed. "It's nothing fancy. Just ... a few things," she added with an almost apologetic smile. "I had to guess your size."

He blinked, then glanced at the bag, then back at her. "Uh ... thanks. You shouldn't have," he tried.

"Of course I should. You can't run around in that," she countered and made a sweeping gesture at the hospital garb he was wearing.

He shrugged lightly. "Could be a fashion statement," he said and realized with some confusion that he was blushing. Cracking jokes around his mother wasn't really something he'd ever done before and it upset his internal balance even more than it was already.

Fortunately, it made her smile. "Well, I guess, but ... personally I think jeans and a t-shirt might suit you better," she said. When he made no move to go for the bag, she picked it up and held it out to him. "I'll just ... wait outside," she added and left the room again when he had accepted the bag, closing the door behind her.

He stood there for a moment and felt a little off kilter. It all seemed like a dream, like something he would wake up from and feel the loss over sometime soon. Then he dropped the bag back onto the chair and opened it, pulled out a pair of jeans, a black t-shirt and ... boxers? He checked the size and couldn't help a smirk. She was good at guessing sizes.

He got dressed quickly, then dug into the bag again and withdrew a denim jacket. One thing he would miss was the leatherjacket he had inherited from dad. It had been one of the things that had made him feel closer to dad. Then again, if this turned out to be a permanent thing, he wouldn't need a jacket to feel closer to his father. He smirked at that thought, then pulled his boots out of the closet and pulled them on before shrugging into the jacket. Then he grabbed the bag with his watch, necklace, bracelet and ring and put that on as well. He felt more human and somehow closer to Sam that way.

A knock on the door ripped him out of that thought pattern. "Come on in," he called.

Mary stepped back inside, eyed him for a moment and smiled. She looked downright smug right now. "I see it fits," she said.

"Yeah, you're pretty good at guessing sizes, aren't you?" he countered.

Her expression softened a little. "You ready to get out of here?" she asked, then pressed her lips together into a thin line, her eyes shiny with sudden tears. "I'm sorry. I'm just ..." She broke off, then reached out and cupped a hand against his cheek. "I'm not usually such a sob," she said with a slightly shaky smile. "I'm just having a hard time believing this."

He grabbed her hand, struggling against his own emotions. "You're not the only one," he said, then glanced toward the door. "Where's ..." He hesitated, unsure if it was too soon for him to say 'dad'. But he figured it didn't matter any more. He figured he had given the impression of not having been close with this imaginary man who had never existed and that it was okay to acknowledge them for who they were. "Where's dad?" he then asked and couldn't help but relish the delight he saw in her eyes.

"He's taking care of the paperwork," she said and slipped an arm around his back, pulling closer to him. "Let's get out of here. Let's go home."

He grabbed the bag in his right hand and slipped his left arm around her back. Even if this was a dream or a fever fantasy, he would relish those words until the end of time.


Lawrence, KS

In a sense it had been a bit of a disappointment to realize that John wasn't driving the Impala. Dean had expected the black car, but had instead been faced with a variation of the truck dad had driven before he had died. It was a toned-down version, not a hunter's car, which of course made sense. He didn't ask about the Impala, of course.

What he wanted to ask about was Sam, but he didn't know how. 'So, do you have any other kids?' seemed like a fairly lame question for some reason. Instead he kept his mouth shut for most of the forty-five minute trip to Lawrence and found himself oddly mesmerized by the entire drive. The closer they got to Lawrence, the more nervous he became. For some reason, he thought that maybe they might not be living in the old house and he knew it would bother him.

John kept glancing at him in the rearview mirror and Dean had the distinct impression that he wanted to say something. Mary chatted on about everything and nothing, but said nothing specifically important about family and home. She was telling him about things they saw on the way, pointing out shops she frequented and people she recognized.

When the truck turned down the old street, Dean found himself holding his breath in anticipation and almost drew a sigh of relief when John pulled up in front of his childhood home. He was gonna live here again, in this place, at least for awhile.

They got out and John stopped and eyed him for a moment. "This is home," he said. "This is where you were born."

Dean just stood there and stared at the house, memories of his last encounter there sweeping over him, and he wondered if Missouri existed in this reality. "Looks great," he said.

"I suppose you don't remember this, do you?" John asked and glanced briefly at the house.

Would he remember a house he hadn't seen since he was six months old? Probably not, so he shook his head lightly. "No, I don't," he lied.

"Well, you'll get familiar with it quickly. It's an old house. It has its quirks," John said.

"No, it doesn't," Mary disagreed. "It's a wonderful house. It's got a lot of soul."

John rolled his eyes. "You're such a sap, Mary," he chastised her.

"Yeah, and I'm proud of it too," she shot back and briefly brushed her fingertips over his cheek. "Come on, let's go in."

"That's another thing you have to get used to. She likes to gush over things," John said while watching her head toward the front door. Despite his words, there was no doubt in Dean's mind that the man loved her. "After you," John added and nodded toward the house.

Dean followed his mother inside and stopped again to look around. It felt a bit like a dream, seeing this place again. There was a faint scent of lavender in the air and he generally felt like he was being wrapped up in layers and layers of warm cotton. It felt like home, felt like a place he belonged, and he struggled to keep it together for a little while longer.

"So, this is home," Mary said and proudly made a sweeping gesture to encompass the house. "Livingroom there," she added and pointed toward it, "kitchen through there," she continued and pointed in the opposite direction. Then she stopped and eyed him. "You look tired," she said, instantly in worry-mode.

He managed a bit of a quirky smile. "It's just a lot ..." He didn't know how to phrase it, wasn't even sure what exactly it was other than the obvious. He was tired. He had been running on fumes for a year and he had been running on empty ever since he had woken up in the hospital. His one refuge, the booze, had been removed from his life and he felt like an alien here. Nobody knew him. Nobody could read him and understand his moods. And suddenly he was scared. Even here, with his parents alive and well, he was alone. They didn't know him, had no clue what made him tick. They weren't 'his' parents, after all. 'This' dad hadn't shared his life up until three years ago. 'This' mom hadn't been the one who tugged him in every night until she died a fiery death when he was four.

Dean wasn't prone to panic attacks and he had only fainted once in his life and that had been because of severe pain. But suddenly he couldn't breathe, and even though he was drawing air into his lungs, it didn't seem to work right. He clapped a hand over his mouth, tried to counteract the dizzy spell that swept over him, and was only vaguely aware of strong hands grabbing his shoulders and steadying him.

"Easy, Dean." It was the rough texture of his father's voice that hauled him back from the brink. His knees felt weak and he became aware of the cold sweat accumulating on his brow. To feel dad's arm around him as he was guided somewhere and was pushed down on a chair gave him something mental to cling to.

John slipped a hand onto the back of his neck and pushed his head down. "Breathe slowly, son," he said, his voice even.

He followed orders like always and slowly got himself back under control. He was still gasping for breath as if he'd run a damned marathon with a hangover, but he no longer felt the world fading out on him and eventually managed to straighten up again. He was currently sitting on a kitchen chair and both his parents were watching him almost anxiously.

"Are you alright?" Mary asked, her voice laced with concern, her left hand on his knee, her right on his shoulder.

"It's probably that detox-crap that's making him unsteady," John suggested while eying him thoughtfully. "I think you need to lie down," he added.

To say that he was mortally embarrassed by this weakness had to be the understatement of the year. He wasn't supposed to have panic attacks and nearly faint like a damned girl. Yet neither of them seemed to think it was odd. They were both concerned about him and it settled his nerves a little more to realize this. "No, I'm okay," he finally managed, his voice a little rusty.

Mary responded instantly and got him a glass of water, then brushed her fingers through his hair. "This must be hard for you," she said. "There's so much to get used to."

Dean glanced at John. "I think you're right. I think it's the ben... uh, the ... detox-drug." He felt like kicking himself for not being able to remember the name of that damned drug he was being fed to get off the alcohol.

John merely nodded, his left hand still on the back of Dean's neck. "It probably is. I think you have to take it easy for a few days here, get as much rest as you can," he agreed and rose again. "Come on. I'll show you your room and I really think you should lie down for a bit. You've been through a lot lately."

Lately? Dean almost smirked. Lately was an understatement, wasn't it? But he kept his mouth shut and merely nodded in agreement. Mary took the glass from him and John took a hold of his arm, steadying him when he rose. Normally, he would have shrugged such help off, insisting on that he could do this on his own, but John's hold on his arm just felt so familiar that it anchored him and he didn't want the connection to disappear just yet.

Well, he got his wish, because his father didn't let go of his arm until they'd reached the top of the stairs. And even then he kept his hand outstretched, close to Dean, to catch him if he should show any signs of falling. "First door," John said and nodded toward it.

Dean's gait hitched. His old room. He knew he wouldn't find the same furniture behind that door, but the thought alone that he would be spending his nights in his old room ... it nearly sent him over the edge again. He only barely managed to suck it up and pushed forward, turned the knob and pushed the door open. It swung into a room that looked as if it hadn't been used in a bit.

"We've used this as a sort of storage room," John confessed with a vague smile. "Mary's been busy clearing out all the junk to make it more livable."

Dean managed a feeble smile, then stepped over the threshold and took a look around. The bed was made, carpet runners covered the beige carpet underneath, and a few pictures had been hung on the walls, pictures of cars mostly. Dean focused on one of an Impala. It looked a bit like his Impala. "Are these yours?" he asked and glanced at John.

He briefly skimmed his gaze over the photos. "Yeah," he agreed. "I'm very much into cars," he added and smiled. "I work at a garage. Actually, I own half of it."

Dean couldn't help a smile in return. Things seems to be mostly the same here apart from a few very important issues.

"You like cars?" John asked.

"Yeah, I do," he agreed.

"I'm surprised you don't have one of your own then," John said.

Dean settled down on the edge of the bed and glanced around the room again. "Never had the money to buy one," he said and that at least was true. That he had inherited the Impala from John wasn't relevant in this reality.

"It's not cheap," John agreed. "Well, I suggest you lie down for a bit and we'll call you when it's time for dinner. Unless you're hungry now?"

Dean blinked. He still felt fairly lightheaded and a little bit queasy from that panic attack. "No, I'm fine for now."

"Right. Well, if you get hungry before eight p.m. you just come downstairs. Mary has that bag of pills the doc gave her for you. Do you need anything from that?" John asked.

"No, thanks. I'm fine," Dean repeated. In part he didn't want his father to leave and in part he did. He needed time to think this through, needed time to acclimatize himself to the house and the fact that he was here with his parents and he instantly began to chastise himself for being so damned repetitive in his mind.

"Okay. Holler if you need help," John said, then left the room and closed the door behind him.

For a moment Dean just sat there, then he drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Nice first impression, man," he muttered to himself and figured he might as well get some rest right now. He did feel the need for it.