Characters: Dean, Sam, Missouri, Bobby
Spoilers: None that I can think of yet
Wordcount: 2525 (this chapter)
Summary: What should have been a routine job goes wrong, and Sam and Dean's lives may never be the same again.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
The motel owner is a plump, blonde haired woman in her mid fifties. She smiles at Sam as he enters, then her expression grows serious in response to the look on his face, “Oh! Is something wrong?”
“Did you notice anything unusual last night? Strange sounds, lights, someone you didn't recognize hanging around? Anything like that?”
Confusion deepens the wrinkles in her face, “No, dear,” confusion turns to worry, “Did something happen? You didn't have something stolen..?”
“You could say that,” Sam tells her, before explaining about his brother's disappearance.
“Oh my! The blind gentleman?”
Sam nods, “and he wouldn't have just left, not without saying anything,”
“Okay, let me think.” The woman puts on an overly exaggerated thinking face, the kind than makes Sam think she play-acts for young grand kids or something, “Yes! No you mention is, I did see someone outside. It was late, around one in the morning. I'd just gone into the kitchen for a glass of water, and I saw someone outside. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but he was just standing there, in the parking lot by himself. I was half asleep, that's all I remember.”
Sam's heart bets faster in his chest. This is something. Maybe not the great clue he was looking for, but it's a start. He doesn't even remember whether they were back by that time or still in the bar downing drinks, it is entirely possible that this man is completely innocent, but this is something, and that's much more than he had just a moment ago. “Do you remember anything about what he looked like?”
She shakes her head apologetically, “I think he was wearing a hat. I'm sorry, it was dark. Have you called the police? You can use my phone if you like.” A plump hand points to an old fashioned telephone sitting on the counter. In most places it would have been deliberately retro, but Sam got the impression that it, like everything else in the room, had remained unchanged since the fifties.
“He's only been gone a few hours,” Sam tells her, neglecting to mention the other reasons why the police had to be kept out of it, “they won't be able to do anything yet.”
“Oh, of course.”
Sam shrugs and turns to leave, “If you do remember anything else, would you let me know?” he asks, “That way if he doesn't come back and I do call the police, I can let them know everything at the same time.”
The woman smiles sympathetically, “Of course I will, if there's anything else I can do to help, be sure and let me know.”
Sam nods and makes a quick exit. As he steps out of the reception, is isn't sure how to feel. So there was someone in the parking lot the night Dean disappeared, he still has no way of knowing who or what this mysterious man might have been, no way of tracking him down, and no way of even knowing whether he had anything to do with it. He sighs in frustration and fishes in his jeans pocket for his cellphone, opens the camera and scrolls through his photographs for one he can show people of his brother.
Inside the motel reception, June's expression creases into a frown. Something about this whole situation feels strange. Her two guests, she doesn't know them, but somehow they seem familiar. Like they remind her of someone. She finds herself staring at the photograph of her husband she keeps on the counter. Taken just three weeks before he died, it shows a happily smiling young man with nothing that would tip off the outside world about the secrets he kept. Nothing apart from the look in his eye, the same look she had just seen in the eyes of the young man looking for his brother. But they couldn't be. Could they?
June sighs to herself and stared thoughtfully at the photograph. If it is true, she has to do something. But it has been so long since she used those skills, she doesn't even know that they are there any more.
The only recent photograph of Dean that Sam has was taken a few months before. Sam had been driving while Dean grabbed a quick rest. He'd been more tired than he realised and had fallen asleep holding a cup of coffee. Sam had hit a bump in the road and Dean had splashed coffee all over himself. Sam had snapped a quick photograph on his phone to use as a bribe later.
The image of his brother, bleary-eyed, confused and covered in coffee was now the one that he was showing around, stopping strangers on the street and asking whether they'd seen him. By now, dozens of people had seen the photo. If Dean ever found out, he'd kill him.
The search proves fruitless. It isn't a good photograph anyway, Sam isn't even sure he would recognise his brother from the snap. No one has seem him, at least no one that remembers, and once Sam explains that his brother is blind, they become all the more adamant that they don't remember him. In the middle of a town, there is no trail too follow, it's not like out in the woods. It is as though Dean has simply vanished into the air.
Sam stands outside the motel feeling utterly and completely lost. He wonders if this is how Dean felt after their father disappeared, not knowing whether he was alive or dead, if he was hurt. Wanting to find him, needing help. Just not wanting to be alone. No wonder he had made a pit stop at Stanford before going to find him. More than anything except for the return of his brother, Sam wants someone to talk to, someone who can help him.
This wasn't quite the same as with their father though, at least then they had some idea of where he had been, some kind of a trail to follow. And as soon as he had collected Sam, Dean hadn't been alone either.
He wishes Bobby would get there. The older hunter had been right. Sam hadn't even realized it at the time he made the call, but he really did want help. It was only natural, he supposed, solitude just didn't suit the Winchesters. For a time he had fooled himself into thinking that he was different to Dean, that he didn't need his family, replacing them with a network of friends. But when it came down to it, it just hadn't been the same. And not only that, but with Dean out there somewhere, possibly hurt, Sam was going to do anything he could to find him, and that included accepting any help offered.
Bobby arrives three hours after Sam spoke to him, much quicker than Sam had expected. He bangs on the door, interrupting the younger brother's train of thought. Sam jumps immediately to his feet and opens the door.
“Sam, you look terrible,”
Sam runs a hand through his hair and shrugs he knows he's still wearing last night's clothes, he hasn't shaved or showered and most likely wears the exhausted, red-eyed look of the very hung over. He doesn't give a damn.
“Hi, Bobby,” Sam clasps a hand onto the older man's shoulder and them steps aside, opening he door wider for him to come in. He closes the door, and opens his mouth again to thank Bobby for coming, but finds something else coming out, “I've looked everywhere, there's no sign of him. All his stuff is still there. The door was unlocked, but I can't remember if I locked it or not,” He sits down on the bed and rubs his eyes hard with the tips of his fingers, “Shit! Why can't I remember?”
Bobby doesn't know what to say, telling Sam he got drunk and stupid wouldn't help right now. Later, when Dean was safe and Sam might actually have a chance at taking in anything anyone said, then maybe it wouldn't hurt to remind them both not to be such idiots, but for now they had to concentrate on finding one particular idiot. “Okay Sam, don't worry about that right now. Did anything unusual happen last night?”
Sam thinks back through the events of the night. Excluding his unusually open conversation with Dean, nothing comes to mind. He shakes his head, “The whole night was pretty surreal, to be honest,” he admits, “but nothing like what you mean.”
To Sam's relief, Bobby doesn't quiz him further of what he meant by that statement. He doesn't want to have to explain the awkwardness of the evening, Dean's total disregard for common sense, downing drink after drink in a futile attempt to forget his troubles and instead only ending up talking about them more. He certainly doesn't want to have to mention the frightened look in his brother's sightless eyes, that has been there now for days. Or the way he gripped Sam's arm, his beer, even his chair with knuckle whitening tightness, as though afraid to let go and lose an anchor holding him in place in a sea of nothingness. These are all things that Sam is aware of, but doesn't know whether even Dean knows. Telling Bobby, it just doesn't seem fair.
“I don't just mean did you happen to notice any ghosts or anything, Sam. No people hanging around?”
Sam shakes his head, “I don't think I locked the door,” he says, “We'd been drinking. I mean, a lot. I fell asleep straight away. Dean, I think he was more unconscious than asleep to be honest. Anything could have gotten in.”
“Anything could have gotten in whenever if wanted, unless you've been laying down salt every night, and I think that's probably a little paranoid even for Dean.”
“You think a human snatched him?”
Bobby shrugs, “I don't know, I'm just saying it's a possibility. That's why I asked whether you noticed anyone hanging around.”
“No,” Sam tells him, “but the motel owner said she did. I spoke to her earlier, she saw a man in a hat. That's all she could tell me though. Chances are it was just another guest. Even if it is the guy, we have no way of tracking him down.”
“True,” agrees Bobby, “but unless he lives locally and for no reason decided to try a little kidnapping just for the hell of it, he's probably renting a place...”
Sam tries to spring to his feet, though his hangover makes it more of a stagger “It's only a small town,” he says, “This is the only motel, we can probably get round every guest house and recently rented place in less than a day.” He opens his laptop and connects to the internet, “Thanks, Bobby. I never would have thought of this.”
Bobby shakes his head, “Sure you would, Sam. Just as soon as you got rid of that hangover.”
When Dean wakes up, he feels better. His head is still pounding, but more from being hit than from the drinking. It is a sharper pain, without the mind-dulling exhaustion and nausea. It's a familiar kind of pain, and as such, it is almost welcome. Anything is better than before.
He is still tied up. He shuffles around as much as the ropes will allow, but they are well tied.
He hears what sounds like a suppressed laugh, a completely fake one, from in front of him. He snaps his head around to face the direction of the sound, “Didn't think you'd be far away. So, do I get a safe word?”
“I'm afraid not,” came the reply.
“How about a beer? Hair of the dog?”
“I want to show you something,”
“Oh yeah?” Dean sneers, “How are you going to do that?”
Without warning, the headache drilling into his skull grows worse. He squeezes his eyes closed against the pain and gasps for air. Then, as quickly as it came, it is gone, and the pain decreased back to its old level. Dean opens his eyes, and sees.
The shock of being able to see overrides his ability to actually process what he is looking at, and for a few seconds he is aware of nothing but bright light, color, and an overwhelming sense of relief. It isn't until the euphoria fades that he realizes he is no longer tied down. He isn't even inside any more. He looks around. He appears to be standing in a motel parking lot. The sun is beating down, its position indicating mid morning. He turns to his left and sees the Impala, A grin spreads across his face as he reaches out to stroke the car's hood, “Hey baby, I am so glad to see you,”
A scream cuts through the silence, and Dean jumps to immediate attention. He reaches for a weapon to find that he is unarmed. No car keys either, so he can't get to the arsenal in the trunk. The scream sounds again, coming from one of the motel rooms. The door is ajar, and he runs inside, pushing it fully open with his shoulder.
Inside, there is blood. It overwhelms his senses, the smell makes him choke, it sticks to the bottom of his feet as he steps forward. Everything is stained red.
There is someone laying on the floor near the foot of the bed. Someone covered in blood. Whatever attacked him is nowhere to be seen, and Dean hurries over to check the body for signs of life. As he gets closer, he realizes who it is, and his heart stops. The body is ripped to shreds. Deep gashes, claw marks, cuts right down to the bone. His face is almost unrecognizable, but Dean knows. He knows it's his little brother laying dead in a pool of his own blood, and Dean cries like he hasn't cried in years.
He gasps as he opens his tear filled eyes to find himself once again tied down, again in complete darkness, “What the hell?” his voice sound hoarse, shaken, “was that real?”
There is no response. No sound at all from his captor. Nothing to indicate that the man is even still in the room. Dean struggles against the ropes holding him in place until he feels the skin start breaking and he begins to bleed. “Answer me, damnit! What the hell was that?” The knots haven't even begun to loosen. Whoever this guy was, he knows what he's doing. “You said he was okay!”
It had felt real. As far as he knew, he had been there. But it had been the same with the vision the ghost had shown him. “What are you?” he asks, a horrible thought occurring to him.
The only response is the pain in his had increasing once again. He screws his eyes tightly closed and tries not to scream as light once again flows into his world.