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13 April 2012 @ 03:45 am
Killing Me Softly: Wired For Sound (Chapter 3)  
The life of a Hunter is a pretty rootless existence




 
Killing Me Softly

Chapter Three

Wired For Sound

**O**

The life of a Hunter is a pretty rootless existence, there certainly isn’t a lot one can count on. Not that the job doesn’t have its own particular brand of ‘familiar’, of course. For Sam, the exact amount of pressure it takes to detach the head of a ghoul with a machete is familiar. The popping sound that bones make approximately ten-minutes into a salt-and-burn is familiar. The weight and feel of the Taurus in his grip is familiar. And the sights, sounds and smells of a hospital are, unfortunately, extremely familiar. Familiarity is one thing. Comfort is entirely another. This part of the job offers absolutely no comfort. Just the same, Sam knew what he had to do and he swung into action. He pulled into the ambulance bay knowing that after laying on the horn for approximately 18 seconds there would be at least three sets of hands to help get Dean from the car and onto a gurney. He knew exactly what information would be required in order to get Dean the help he needed, and he didn’t hesitate to provide it as soon as hospital staff were pulling his unconscious brother from the car.

“He’s a 26 year old male, blunt-force head trauma from a fall of a height about 6ft off of a stage. He was unconscious for approximately 60 minutes but he’s been in and out of it for the past forty minutes or so.” One of the triage nurses stopped while the others worked on Dean and stood silently listening, taking in the information as he rattled it off. Soon, they were on the move again, wheeling Dean in through the double doors of the ambulance bay. Sam followed along, continuing to fill them in. “He’s not on any medications, but he is allergic to sulfur-based antibiotics. He’s been nauseous, confused and he’s been complaining of light and sound sensitivity, so please be careful of his eyes.” They had reached the ER door and he was held back and told to wait. “His name is Dean!” he called after them. He scrubbed his hair with a shaking hand and took several breaths. His adrenaline was ebbing. “I’ll just go fill out the insurance forms,” he said quietly to the doors that separated him from his brother.

**O**

“What’s his name?” The ER physician asked as nurses were working to get monitors and IV’s hooked up.

“Name’s Dean. I didn’t get the last name.” said the nurse who Sam had talked to.

“So what have we got?” he asked. The nurse quickly filled him in on the information that Sam had supplied.

“What the hell is this?” the doctor said incredulously when he noticed that Dean’s gash had been sewn up. The nurse leaned over to take a look, huffed out a snort of disbelief and shrugged her shoulders. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” the doctor said derisively and shook his head.

“Nhuhnnh!” Dean interrupted them by moaning out and trying to reach a hand up to shade his closed eyes.

The doctor bent down close to Dean’s face. “Dean, can you hear me?” Dean tried to twist away from the voice so close to his head.

“Go ‘way, too close, dude! F’ckn’ green drums in my ears!” Dean swatted clumsily at the voice. He stopped his movement and made a yucky-face, “An’ you t’st like peas,” he garbled.

The doctor looked to the nurse. “You did say no medications, right?” She shook her head indicating none. “Can you tell me your full name?”

The patient looked confused and, perhaps, a little chagrined. “Uh…” he hemmed. “Dean…somethin’. Better ask m’brother that one. S’on my med card,” he hawed. The ER staff looked more confused than Dean.

“How about the name of The President?”

“Uhn…Bush.

“And today’s date?”

October somethin’, I dun’ have a calendar, dude. Can you pl’s turn out the lights? H’rts m’ears. Music’s too loud.” Dean wheezed out.

The doctor raised an eyebrow. “OK, but first I’m going to take a quick look at your eyes, Dean, all right?” He reached out and put his hands on Dean’s forehead.

“F-ff-ffuck no!” Dean immediately came alive and quite literally started heading for the hills. He squirmed and rolled over dragging his IV line as he tried to crawl off the bed while several hands pulled him back and held him down. “Oh hell fuck no! No-no-no, please!” he gasped out, desperately kicking out with his legs to try and get them off of him.

“It’s going to be OK, Dean, it’ll be quick.” Several hands efficiently pinned him down while the doctor clicked his penlight, pried open a lid and flashed it into Dean’s left eye. The moment his penlight hit the pupil, it was as if his patient had been electrocuted. Every muscle seized and Dean let out a wild shriek. With a shuddering sigh, he went completely limp. Once Dean was unresponsive again, the Doctor shone the light several more times and looked a little confused.

“What the hell was that?” The nurse asked.

“Let’s make sure his vitals are stable and then get him down to Imaging for a full work up, and do a tox-screen.” The doctor said. “And call Dr. Liron in for this one.”

**O**

This is bullshit, Sam thought. It had been hours with no word. He’d asked for updates several times and had been told the same thing, your brother’s in good hands, they’re still running tests, a doctor will be out to talk to you as soon as possible, why don’t you get yourself a cup of coffee and relax?. He ran his hand through his hair for the umpteenth time and prowled the waiting room, constantly on the move. Every hour that passed told him that this was not the usual blow to the head. Dean had had worse, a lot worse, and it had never taken this long to get any goddamned information. Sam kept pacing, stalking, churning, stewing. He felt sick. He was going to be sick. He knew was going to be sick if he didn’t hear anything soon. He put a hand to his stomach and continued his caged dance. When he took another agitated step and turned in his perpetual motion, he nearly ran into a very petite woman in her mid-thirties wearing a physicians’ coat. He stopped short as she nearly dropped her clipboard in surprise at the near collision.

“Sam Berkowitz?” she read the name off the teetering clipboard and looked up with a personable smile.

Sam nodded. “Where’s my brother?” he loomed. His edgy tension was getting the best of him. It radiated off of him in waves, flavoring his stance with intimidation—a habit he’d unconsciously picked up from his father. She seemed immune, however.

“I’m Dr. Rania Liron. I’m the Neurologist who’s been assigned to your brother’s care.” She offered a hand that Sam ignored.

“What’s going on? Where’s Dean? He’s been in there all damn day.”

“Has no one talked to you yet?” she looked a little surprised and immediately set about trying to diffuse his anger.

“No one’s said a goddamned word since I brought him in. What the hell is going on? What’s wrong with Dean?” He was way past frustration. He’d have a pit-bull cowering, but the doctor gently reached up and cupped his arm.

“I’m so sorry, Mr. Berkowitz,” she soothed. “Here, let’s at least get in the same time-zone,” she pointed to his considerable height over her and she smiled a warm, dimpled smile. She seemed genuine and open, and Sam found himself complying despite his agitation. She directed him to a private alcove off the general waiting room and closed the door behind her. Showing him to a seat, she pulled up a second chair directly in front of him and sat down, knee to knee. “Dean is stable and awake at the moment, but he’s been in and out more than once since being brought in. He has suffered a concussion, but there’s no fracture and no internal bleeding, and that’s all very good news,” she said. “He’s experiencing some typical symptoms, confusion, photosensitivity, nausea, and some memory loss.”

“Memory loss?” What do you mean?” Sam shifted in his seat, but Dr. Liron held up a hand, trying to prevent unnecessary worry.

“He’s unable to recall his last name or the moments leading up to his fall, and he’s had a bit of short-term memory issues since being admitted, repeating questions, that sort of thing. They’re all fairly normal symptoms and we’ll be monitoring him closely over the next twenty-four hours to see how he progresses. Most of these issues should correct themselves. His photosensitivity has been particularly debilitating for him, though, and we’ll have to be extra careful over the next day or two. Again, this should correct itself, but right now there’s full dilation with very little pupillary response. We’ve put him in a dark environment to make him more comfortable and we’ll be monitoring this as well. We’ll be able to know where we stand in the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours. I’m optimistic that most of the symptoms will take care of themselves, but his body needs time to heal.”

“OK,” said Sam. The last-name problem he was sure he’d be able to cure himself just as soon as he got to speak with Dean alone. He blew out a quick breath, “So he’s going to be all right, then?”

Dr. Liron hesitated slightly. “His reflexes are normal, with the exception of his pupils. I was concerned that he was unconscious for over 30 minutes initially, but his MRI and CT haven’t shown anything inconsistent or unusual, no swelling or bleeding.” She held up her hand. “On paper, he has a text book mild-to-moderate concussion, but he is experiencing a few atypical symptoms that we do need to address.”

“You mean the lights and sounds,” said Sam.

The doctor nodded. “Right,” she said. “And now I need to ask you a few questions, Sam. Is it OK if I call you that?” she gentled her eyes and smiled. She was almost as good as Sam himself at this.

“Sure,” Sam said absently.

“OK, Sam, now has your brother ever been diagnosed with any neurological disorder like Autism or Schizophrenia?”

“What kind of question is that?” Sam blasted. The hell if he’d let them turn this into something like that.

“Sam,” the doctor reached out and touched his arm, she was used to walking on eggshells. “I’m not accusing or assuming anything. But I need to find out what we aren’t dealing with in order to help me pinpoint what we are. The sensory stimuli he’s been experiencing is not normally consistent with a mild concussion, and I want to be sure we are not missing something.”

Sam backed down. “No, no history of anything like that at all. He was fine until he fell. When he woke up he was seeing and hearing things and was unable to tolerate light.”

“Right,” she said. “It’s very common to be very sensitive to light after a head trauma, but this is a little more than that. In fact, I’m not convinced the visual and auditory phenomena are necessarily related to the photosensitivity at all, but the photosensitivity is quite likely making those other, atypical symptoms far more exaggerated and painful than they normally would be.”

“Yeah, he said that he could hear music playing. He also said some odd things…” he trailed off a little, not wanting to play into any notion of mental illness.

“Like what?” She appeared interested rather than judgmental.

“He…he said my voice tasted like peach pie. When we were driving to the hospital he said his car tasted like a hamburger.” He smiled in spite of his worry and stress. Of course the Impala would taste like a cheeseburger. So typically Dean. “That’s why I brought him in. He’s had concussions before, but he’s never experienced anything like this.”

Dr. Liron nodded. “Yes, it is a valid concern, and you did right to bring him in. The good news is that we’ve performed a CT and MRI and both have shown no sign of complication beyond the concussion. The Synesthesia your brother is experiencing usually only presents so acutely and spontaneously under certain conditions, such as a stroke, brain tumor or severe brain injury. Even the use of certain psychedelic drugs, like LSD for instance, can cause temporary synesthetic symptoms. But the scans and tox-screen we performed have all come back negative, so it’s a little baffling that he is presenting these symptoms.”

Sam rubbed his forehead anxiously. He could feel his own brain thrumming at this point. “I’m sorry. I am not familiar with ‘Synesthesia’,” he said.

“Synesthesia is a neurological condition. It’s primarily genetic and occurs naturally in a small percentage of the population. I want to distinguish between ‘having’ the condition and ‘suffering’ from it. In most cases Synesthesia poses no problems for those who have it and is quite innocuous. In fact, I, myself, have one of the most common forms of Synesthesia.”

“What is it, exactly?” Sam asked. He was genuinely interested, but he was fidgety and wanted to see Dean. He was hoping she’d be pithy about it.

“Well, researchers think it’s basically extra cross-talk between certain parts of the brain. In basic terms, you have the part of your brain that ‘sees’ and part of your brain that ‘hears’, for instance. If the wiring is routed differently or, perhaps, routed with more connections than normal, the result is that you start ‘hearing colors’ or ‘seeing music’, for example. It’s actually more common than once thought. My own form of Synesthesia enables me to visually see certain conceptual ideas, like days of the week, months of the year, and numbers. In talking with Dean, he appears to be experiencing this in addition to the other forms of sensory Synesthesia.”

Sam looked confused. “Seeing days of the week?”

Dr. Liron smiled. “Let me give you an example. Close your eyes and describe a daisy to me.”

Sam complied, albeit impatiently. “Uh, it has a bright yellow disk-thing surrounded by slim, white petals and a green stem.”

“Ok,” she said. “Now, describe what ‘Tuesday’ looks like.” Sam raised an eyebrow and opened his eyes.

“It doesn’t look like anything. It’s just a word that represents something.”

“Ah, but not to a Synesthete.” The doctor stated. “My ‘Tuesday’ is slim, bright yellow and has a cheerful disposition.” Sam looked hopelessly confused. She laughed and went on, “My ‘Friday’, on the other hand, is tall, dark, and rather imposing—not that I dislike Fridays mind you. I am as happy to see Friday as anyone, but the actual concept has a rather bleak corresponding visual representation in my brain. It’s all quite innocuous. Heck, I never knew for the longest time that others didn’t also see days, months, or numbers. Most Synesthetes don’t even know they have the condition. Your brother’s case, though, is very unusual and I am troubled, not only by the sudden onset in Dean, but with the acute degree of the Synesthesia he is experiencing. Most Synesthetes have one or two forms of the condition. Dean appears to be experiencing all of them, including the more rare forms like lexical/gustatory Synesthesia, the type that allows him to taste sounds.”

Sam rocked back and forth in his chair. “So,” he tried to wrap his brain around it all, “what does any of this really mean?”

Dr. Liron shook her head. “Sam, honestly, I don’t know. They brought me in because your brother suffered a seizure when they tested his pupil reaction. We’ve performed scans for any usual causes but we’ve haven’t found anything there. We’re going to have to do a little more digging and look into any possible neuro-chemical causes, which is why I asked about his history of any neurological disorders. As I said, Synesthesia is harmless, for the most part, but it has been theorized that Autism, for instance, may, in fact, be a more sinister form of Synesthesia. Of course, researchers have only just begun looking into this, but it does at least allow us to understand how such a sudden onset with acute symptoms could be very disorienting for Dean. He’s become agitated and uncomfortable, and who can blame him? His concussion is likely the cause of his photosensitivity, yes, but couple that with the sudden Synesthetic visual and auditory stimulation he’s experiencing and it’s all quite overwhelming for him. It may well be that the symptoms will diminish or disappear entirely as he heals, but we’ve no way to tell just yet. Right now, he needs to heal from the head trauma so that we can see what is a symptom of the concussion and what is, perhaps, another issue entirely.

“I have to go see him. Right now.” Sam demanded as he sprung up. The doctor stopped him.

“Sam, just a minute. Let me ask you this. Are you positive that Dean had no previous symptoms prior to his fall?” Sam looked at her impatiently.

“Of course I’m sure. I told you, he was fine, completely normal until he fell,” Sam said emphatically.

“Well,” she paused in thought, tapping her clipboard with her pen, “your brother remembers nothing beyond arriving at the concert hall. What was he doing before he fell? How did he fall to begin with?”

“We were…he was…” Sam thought and suddenly remembered Dean, his hand to his ears as though trying to get water out of them, stumbling suddenly off balance and backing away from Sam in confusion. “Oh God,” Sam quietly admitted, “he started stumbling and grabbing his head. He looked confused, like he was freaked out about something. I’ve been so worried about his fall that I never gave it another thought.” He was certain he was going to be sick, now. “Dr. Liron, what’s wrong with my brother?” She grazed his arm sympathetically.

“I don’t know, Sam. I know it’s scary, but I promise you, I’ll do everything I can to get to the bottom of this, alright?” Sam nodded, closing his eyes and rubbing his forehead. “I’m going to let you see Dean now. We’ve got him settled in a room. Right now he needs to get some rest. A few hours ago we gave him some medications for pain, nausea and we gave him a light sedative for his anxiety to help him relax. He’ll be due for some more in just a bit. He’ll be a bit out of it, but it will help him get some sleep. Tomorrow, we can run some more tests and see if we can’t find the source.”

“Thanks Dr. Liron,” he said. He was already walking out the door and down the hall with such quick and long strides that the doctor had to scurry to catch up.

“Sam, wait,” she said as she reached him. “One last thing. Is Dean an artist or musician by chance?” Sam froze in his tracks.

“Why would you ask me that?” he said with a cold dread creeping over him.

“It’s just that, Synesthesia is most commonly associated with heightened creativity. It’s believed that many of the greatest artists in history had Synesthesia: Van Gogh, Edgar Allen Poe, Mozart, and Picasso, just to name a few, were all said to have experienced one or more forms of Synesthesia. Mathematical savants also usually experience Synesthesia, especially between numbers and colors. I just wondered if Dean had creative inclinations. I thought it might be related.”

Sam’s heart plummeted. “He’s not an artist,” he said turning away quickly. “I need to see my brother right now.”

**O**

Sam had to let his eyes adjust to the dark before venturing any further into the room. They’d blocked out most of the light, shielding Dean’s sensitive eyes. The only light came from the knobs and switches of the machinery he was hooked to and the soft glow of the streetlights surrounding the hospital that peeked through the edges of the drawn curtains. He approached the bed, trying to make as little noise as possible. Dean appeared to be sleeping. Sam stood vigil for a moment and then gently put his hand over his brother’s.

Dean took a deeper breath. “Sammy,” he mumbled but didn’t open his eyes.

Sam smiled. “How’d you know it was me?” he asked sotto voce, very conscious about keeping his voice modulated.

“I’d know those tinkling, yellow sparkles anywhere.” Dean said with quiet, sleepy mischief. “Like a damn pixie, I swear, dude.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Sam quipped as he quietly pulled a chair close and sat down. “How you doin’ in there, man?”

“It’s a visit to Disneyland,” he croaked out. “Hope it’s just a one-day pass, though. You know music and me have always been lovers, but she’s kinda acting like I forgot an anniversary or something. She’s nagging at me.”

Sam quirked an eye, “The doctor said it may all just go away as you heal over the next couple of days. By the way, you’re name is Dean Berkowitz, dude. At least we can clear up one of your memory problems.” Sam didn’t want to say anything else just yet. His fears were still unsubstantiated. He really needed to do some more digging before he brought it up to Dean. There wasn’t much he could do tonight, though. He just had to watch over his brother and get through until tomorrow. The hours of unrelenting tension had left him extremely spent. He settled into the chair as best he could and let his own eyes close, until a moment later when the door opened quietly and a young, lissom nurse came in to check Dean’s vitals.

“Dean?” she touched him lightly. “My name is Teri, I’m going to be taking care of you tonight, OK, sugar?”

He stirred a little. “OK,” he ventured.

She pulled out a pair of large, dark glasses from her pocket. “I’m going to have to turn on a light for a moment, but I’m going to put these glasses over your eyes. They’re made special, so they should block out all the light. I’ll tell you when I’m turning the light on, and if you feel any pain or discomfort you let me know, all right, sweetie?” She fitted the glasses over his eyes, carefully trying not to jar his head too much, but she made sure the side-flaps were in place so that no light would get through from the side.

“OK,” he tensed up, fearing the worst. Sam rose and stood right next to his brother, ready to shield Dean’s eyes himself if he so much as twitched when the light went on.

“Alright, here we go.” She flipped the switch that turned on the dull florescent light above the bed that was pointed toward the ceiling and didn’t put any direct light on Dean. He didn’t make any movement. “You all right, Dean?”

“Yeah,” he said melting back into the bed. Sam also relaxed but still remained hovering, just in case. Teri smiled and nodded at Sam, a small triumph. She set about switching out his IV and taking his blood-pressure, which Dean squirmed uncomfortably through. Apparently the pressure of the cuff was over stimulating for him, but he was able to grit his teeth through it.

“There you go, darlin’. I’m going to give you something for pain and something to relax you and let you get some sleep.” She emptied a couple of vials into his IV catheter and gently touched his arm. She turned off the light and removed the glasses, setting them on the stand for later when needed. “If you need anything you just press the button, honey.”

“OK, Rosie,” he mushed his way through the morphine.

She chuckled. “My name is Teri, remember, Dean?”

“Yeah, but you’re dark red and soft like a rose, so…” he faltered and grogged out a half-grin.

“Well, you sweet-talker, you,” she beamed. She nodded to Sam and then left quietly.

**O**

The persistent music played with Sam’s soft snores and the throb of his own headache, synthesizing the two, creating an inner lava-lamp of colorful splotches that became part of the very Song that he was hearing. It exhilarated and stimulated Dean to…do…something. He just wasn’t sure what. Dean watched this dance of light and sound for a long while before he even realized he was awake. His sense of the passage of time had been upended, but he knew it had to be night since Sam was obviously asleep, which night this was, however, was completely unknown. He guessed he was in the hospital from the soft whirring of machinery about him. Right. He’d hit his head. Weirdest concussion ever. He’d been given morphine, but he’d had that several times in the past without ‘Laserium’ being part of the package. He wanted to open his eyes, but the one thing that he remembered with crystal clarity was the agony that action had brought. Curiosity got the better of him, though, so he decided he’d venture a quick peek. Fluttering his eyes as a test, he saw a spike of color but there was no pain this time. He decided he’d try for a longer look, and taking a breath to steady himself he opened his eyes and looked around.

He could tell there were no lights on in the room, but it was anything but dark. Halos and auras emanated from everything his eyes focused on. The act of moving his eyes from one thing to another created an illusion of the light being stretched and pulled along to the next item, often times oscillating with the music and combining with the aura of the new item of focus. It was intensely interesting and, oddly, uplifting. For several minutes Dean amused himself by just roving his eyes around the room. It actually took his breath away when his eyes finally landed on his sleeping brother.

Talk about a ‘golden-boy’, Dean mused. Sam’s entire body was swathed in a luminescent, crystal-like gold. Any movement of his body sent small, almost imperceptible pulses of light into motion. The raindrop-like light granules quivered with the ever-present music, the harmonic waves of each blending and fusing together in perfect complement. The beauty of it brought a lump to Dean’s throat. He looked away, suddenly at odds with his own poignant response.

Holding out his own arms he studied himself far more academically. His body appeared to have an almost bioluminescent quality, it glowed a rich, vibrant blue with rainbow-colored fractal patterns rippling and riffling in little waves all over his skin, thrumming to the beat of the Song. When he touched another item it sent mild shockwaves of broken light rippling over its surface, his own fractals merging with the aura of whatever he touched.

The Song and the colors touched off a sense of expectation deep within him, a call of sorts, to act or do something that he was either not aware of or could not recall. It sat there, infuriatingly right on the tip of his tongue, a thought just out of reach that he could not seem to grasp. His head started to ache dully with the effort, and the pain began to disrupt the light and sound, drumming against the music and creating an uncomfortable discord. He shut his eyes with a sigh and fumbled for the call button.

Sam never stirred as ‘Rosie’ quietly injected more pain meds into Dean’s catheter and gently shut the door behind her. Within a few moments Dean was adrift on a warm and tranquil ocean of light. Whatever he was supposed to be doing, it could wait until the morning.

**O**

“I promise you I am not going to flash any lights unless you give the all clear, Dean. Just let me look at your eyes for a second.” Even full-crocked on morphine, Dean could be a monumental pain in the ass for any member of the medical profession, and Dr. Liron was getting a classic dose.

“Fuck that. No way, sister,” he said emphatically, his pillow smooshed into his head with his hands clasped decisively around it.

“Dean, come on, now. The lights are low and the curtains are drawn. I can barely see as it is,” she chided. “Don’t make me take drastic measures.” He let out a martyred sigh and released his grip on the pillow. Dr. Liron removed it and gently lifted his lids. He winced out of habit, but once he realized the expected pain was not present, he relaxed a little. “Are you in pain?”

“No,” he admitted.

“Ok, I’m going to try some light, all right?” His heaved out a resigned sigh but didn’t bitch beyond that. She quickly flashed each eye with her penlight, and although he winced each time, he didn’t have the sharp response he had yesterday. “How was that?” she asked.

“Like a 60’s rock concert,” he said, “but nothing like it was yesterday.”

She nodded, “I can even see that you have lovely green eyes, wouldn’t have been able to guess that yesterday. Your pupil dilation has improved. I’m sure that was the source of most of the pain. But you’re still hearing music and seeing colors?”

“Yeah, but it doesn’t hurt anymore. So, you mind if I check out today?”

Sam had been talking on the phone and had just hung up. “Are you out of your mind, Dean?” he sprung up and shook his head, exasperated.

“Don’t get your fuzz in a bundle, there, Peaches. The Doc says I’m back to normal,” Dean gloated.

Dr. Liron flipped through his chart. “I said your pupil dilation had improved. Not to be a killjoy, but you’re not exactly back to normal. I think you can give me another day or two to see how things improve. I’d like to do a different type of MRI today, if that’s all right. We also need to get some food in you and get you up and moving. So just cool it for today, at the very least, OK?”

Dean looked a little dispirited, but he didn’t argue the point. “Whatever,” he said, leaning back and giving his rapt attention to the walls.

The doctor gave Dean’s blanketed leg a gentle shake. “OK, I’ll order the fMRI for later today and I’ll see you then.” She turned to Sam. “I’ll have some food brought up for him, make sure he eats, and you should also get something. You look like you could use it.” Sam thanked her as she shut the door behind her and then gave his attention back to his brother.

Dean glanced around the room, transfixed. He thought the colors were intense, last night, but they were even more keen and compelling in the light of day. Colors were acting and reacting with the music, and Dean was infinitely fascinated by it all. It made him want to move, to do, to act. It wasn’t until Sam snapped his fingers in front of his face that he was drawn back into a conversation that Sam had been holding up on his own. “Did you hear a thing I just said?”

“Sorry, dude. Was riding the wind, there. Who was on the phone?”

Sam huffed out a breath. “That’s what I was telling you. It was Cleo. She and Leana wanted to come up and see how you were doing, but I told them you were resting and weren’t up to any company today.”

“Thanks, dude. I appreciate it,” he said absently and went back to his spellbound examination of the walls and ceiling. Sam situated himself in the chair and tried to ignore a sharp twinge of worry.

**O**

Dean had been just about to ask Sam to talk to him while he ate in order to make the bland oatmeal he was forced to eat a little more palatable, when there was a knock on the door.

Sam had insisted that there was no need for them to trouble themselves in coming up, so of course Cleo and Leana showed up not thirty minutes later with flowers, balloons, and a bag of ‘goodies to pass the time.’

Dean’s spoonful of oatmeal stopped in mid-air. He’d honestly never seen anything like it. Cleo was surrounded by pure, white light that broke off into prisms that twisted and arced off of her like mini sun-flares. As she approached he could see her light interacting with the Song, coiling and frolicking with both Sam’s and his own individual themes.

“I am so glad you are awake and feeling better, Dean,” she sang. “You had us so worried, honey.”

Dean smiled awkwardly, but he could barely take his eyes off of her. Her features were so different now, soft, curvy and very, very feminine. She was really quite lovely to look at. “My h-head’s granite, so no w-worries,” he stammered around the lump in his throat that her beauty induced. She set the flowers and balloons on the windowsill. Handing him the little bag, Dean was dazzled when one of her prism-flares reached out and blended with some of his fractals and pulsated. He almost reached out to touch it.

“There are some puzzle books in case you get bored,” she chirped. She turned to Sam, “And I have those names and information that you asked for, too, Sam.”

“That’s great, Cleo,” Sam said ushering her toward the door, trying to protect Dean’s privacy and cut the visit as short as possible. “Let’s let Dean get his rest and we can talk outside.”

He was successfully able to remove half of the duo. Leana, however, remained behind and approached Dean once Sam and Cleo were gone. “I’m glad you will heal,” she said kindly.

Dean hadn’t noticed her until that moment and was a little taken aback. Leana hadn’t changed at all. There was a hint of the shimmering reflection of all the other auras skirting across her, like sunlight hitting the bottom of a swimming pool, but she seemed to have no source light of her own. And, oddly, now that he was starting to get used to his new perceptions, the mundane in her disoriented him. He rubbed his eyes to try and bring the room back into balance.

She silently watched him a moment, and then a broad and warm smile split her face. Approaching the bed, she handed him a large, slim bag and gave his hand a friendly squeeze. “I’ve brought you a gift. I hope you enjoy it,” she said sweetly.