"Welcome to No-Wheresvile, USA, Sammy." Dean's joke was met with nothing but the soft exhales of his brothers breathing. Smiling to himself he looked over at the younger hunters limp form folded against the door. Brown bangs blocked closed eyes, his mouth open with the awkward angle he was in from resting his head on his arm.
Sam had passed out not long after getting in the Impala after their latest hunt. He had taken a few hits to the ribs, which Dean had wrapped up, and one to the head from a marble bust being thrown at him. He watched as a small line of drool started to form at the corner of Sam's mouth, and shook his head. Pulling his phone out he snapped a picture for blackmail later.
Seeing lights, he turned his attention back to the small town he decided they were stopping in, Bobby's would just have to wait for a night. Checking the dashboard, he pulled into the small gas station on the outskirts of town. Dean climbed out, and walked around the car.
"Rise and shine Sammy!" He pulled the door open and Sam tumbled out of the car almost taking a head dive on the pavement if it weren't for the seat belt.
"Really Dean?" Sam stood up and glared at his brother while moving his shoulders.
"I'm sorry did I ruin your beauty sleep, Samantha?" Dean's smug grin grew as his little brother's bitch face glared daggers at him. He noticed the small lines of pain and the not so subtle hand rubbing his ribs. His hurt ribs. Dean's concern bubbled beneath his skin. "Shit, sorry. How's the ribs?"
"I'm fine Dean." Straightening up, Sam started towards the store. "We're stopping here tonight?"
"Yeah, we're about five hours from Bobby's, we can get there by tomorrow afternoon." stepping into the store his attention was immediately caught by the petite blonde who was putting a tray of cookies down. The girl was maybe up to Dean's shoulder, blonde hair pulled back into a messy ponytail. Looking up the girl let her eyes trail up Dean's body, widening in shock when she got to his face. She stood there open mouthed at him and Dean figured he could be having some fun tonight.
The girl shook her head snapping back into reality. "Hi." how this girl could fit so much enthusiasm into one word surprised Dean, who smiled warmly at her.
"Hi, can we get twenty gallons at," he leaned back and looked out the window, "pump two?" he held out a twenty.
"Uh yes. One second." Blushing as their hands touched, she fumbled with the register, and Dean heard Sam hide a laugh behind him by turning it into a cough. The girl jumped, as if she didn't even know Sam was there. She glanced at him before turning her attention back to Dean. "Anything else?"
"I don't know. Are the cookies any good?" Dean leaned forward on his elbows. The girl leaned forward to, exposing more of her cleavage and Dean's eyes drifted downwards. Her name tag rested low on her shirt reading Millie.
"Some say," She bit her full lips as she leaned even further. "That they're the best in town."
"Oh really?" He heard Sam mumble something about giving them some space as he walked off. "Well then I guess we'll have to try some." Her face faltered a second at his use of we.
"Wait here, there's a fresh batch in the back, let me get you one of those." she turned with a spring in her step, through the back doors.
"Dude, did you have to do that while I was in here?" Sam asked walking back from the isles. Glancing at his hands Dean almost groaned.
"Oh c'mon Sammy, stop it with all that healthy crap. You don't get enough in you from that." Sam had found some granola bars and jerky, and placed them on the counter. "I scored you a cookie and you better eat it."
"Why did you bring me into your flirting?" Sam rolled his eyes, but plastered a smile on his face when Millie came back out with two cookies, the smell filling the small store.
"Here you boys are!" She handed each of them a cookie. Dean watched as Sam ate his in two bites, his face melting at the chocolaty goodness, and laughed.
"These are delicious!" Sam licked his fingers, getting the melted chocolate off.
"Thank you! They're my special recipe." She smiled, although there was a weird look in her brown eyes, but it was quick enough that Dean doubted it was there at all. "Are you getting all this?" looking down at Sam's stuff Dean shook his head.
"Naw that's for Samantha over there, I'll be right back." He winked and set the uneaten cookie down on the napkin, before turning to the isles. He watched as Sam and Millie made light conversation, smiling at the awkward way his little brother held himself. Finding some large bags of M&M's and grabbing some beers, he saw Sam sway a bit. Dean placed the stuff on the counter, keeping a wary eye on his brother as he gave Millie more change. "Sammy you doing okay?"
"Yeah, just a little tired. Been a long day." Sam's eyes were drooping, his words slowed, and he swayed again, barely catching himself on the counter.
"You boys need a place to stay?" Millie offered the bagged items to Dean. "there's a motel on the other side of town which should be available."
"Thanks Millie, appreciate it. C'mon Sammy lets go." Sam seemed reluctant to leave his support on the counter, but moved forward anyway, making it about three feet before his legs gave out.
"Shit!" Dean dropped the bag back on the counter and kneeled next to his brother. Did he overlook the head injury? "Sam, Sammy, wake up!" He patted his brother's cheek a few times, relieved when he opened his eyes to reveal cloudy hazel eyes. "Hey that's it, you stay with me okay?" Sam nodded groggily. Dean could see the sleep pulling at his brother, but he would stay awake for Dean, which was something Dean really needed because he did not want to carry his brother back to the car. "Alright let's get you standing."
Sam nodded and didn't object when Dean slung his arm around his shoulders, before helping Sam up. They moved slowly to the door, Dean kept his eyes on Sam the entire time.
"Hey Millie could you get the door for us?"
"Yeah sure, is he okay?" Millie grabbed their bags and Dean's cookie as she came around the counter and held the door open for them.
"Oh yeah he'll be fine, he hit his head earlier, must be worse than we thought."
"De'n," Sam slurred as they stepped outside, "not gonna make it."
"Sure you are Sammy, cause I'm not dragging your gigantic ass across the parking lot. Just a few more feet." Dean huffed as Sam leaned more heavily against him. Millie opened the passenger door and watched as Dean expertly ducked Sam's lanky frame into the car. Glancing up, Dean saw a look of jealousy cross Millie's face. He scowled, selfish bitch, Sammy always comes first. Dean put the nozzle back and got in the car, intent on getting Sam to the motel to check his injuries, and possibly yell at him for hiding the injuries in the first place.
"Dean wait!" Millie got his attention just before he pulled out. "You forgot your stuff!" taking the bag and cookie and setting it down, Dean smiled nicely then took off, leaving Millie and her store behind.
Sam had drifted off again, and Dean's worry spiked. He pulled into the motel and got a room at the end.
"Sam, hey, wake up." It took a while before Sam opened his eyes, even if they were only at half mast.
"De'n," he moaned and Dean wasn't even sure the kid was awake as he pulled an arm over his shoulder, lifting and supporting Sam out of the car. "'M tired. Why 'm tired?"
"I think you hit your head too hard." Sam's limbs were not cooperating with him, making their progress slower as they stumbled into the room.
It was one of the better motels they've stayed in, the paint was a navy blue matching the beds. Dark wooden table and small TV in the corner.
The boys shuffled to the space between the beds. "Alright Sam, I'm gonna let go now and you can lay down, but don't fall asleep you got that?" Sam nodded and Dean removed his arm from around his shoulders. "Alright the beds behin- Shit!" Instead of sitting down, Sam had just collapsed, all six foot four of Deans brother had buckled, Sam hitting his head against the bedframe on the way down. Dean knelt beside his brother, moving his hair to check for any more injuries. Being hit in the head twice this close together could not be good for him. Not finding any blood but a small bump on his head, he sighed.
"You just love to give me heart attacks don't you Sammy?" Dean smiled and pulled him up from the ground, flopping him on the bed before moving to his feet and taking off his boots. After arranging his brother in the bed he stood up, brushing the bangs off his brother's face as he checked his temperature, promising he was just being cautious that Sam could be sick. "Alright little brother, I have to pour the salt, no nosedives off the bed while my back is turned okay?" Sam's light breathing was the only response.
Dean grabbed the duffel bags from the trunk and placed them on the table before pouring salt lines. When he was done, he saw the cookie Millie gave him on a napkin with what he assumed was Millie's number. Taking a bite, he remembered Sam's earlier statement and he had to agree, the cookie was delicious.
Cookie finished, Dean got in his own bed. Rolling to the side he watched the gentle rise and fall of Sam's chest, Sam's left arm hanging off the bed stretched towards Dean. Smiling Dean wondered if that was from when they were younger and they sometimes had to share a bed. Glancing up at Sam's face his head started to feel foggy. He hoped all his worrying about Sam wasn't giving him a headache, then his self depreciating brother would just turn into himself, and not let Dean take care of his injuries. Dean's eyelids grew heavy and as they closed, he promised to be up before Sam in the morning.
The warm morning light filtered in through the window onto Dean's face waking him up slowly. Dean was still tired although he figured that was one of the best nights of sleep he'd gotten in the past few months. Sam hadn't had a nightmare last night which Dean was grateful for, the kid just couldn't catch a break and Jessica's death was still so raw. Smiling Dean opened his eyes and turned over hoping to see a peacefully sleeping Sam, maybe he'd even take a picture, but Sam wasn't in his bed and that it was made. Shooting up Dean saw the bathroom door was closed.
"Sammy? Dean called approaching the bathroom. There was no answer. When Dean knocked the door swung slowly open as if it wasn't even latched to reveal an empty bathroom. Looking around the room, he saw that none of the salt lines were disturbed, so Sam wasn't gone by Supernatural means. He had just grabbed his phone when the little voice in the back of his head piped up, Dude he probably just went out for coffee, or for a run. Dean shook his head. He was being ridiculous, slipping in to what Sam refers to as his Mother hen mode. Still,he argued with himself, if he's not back by the time I get out of the shower, I'm going to call him.
Climbing out of the shower 10 minutes later to find Sam not there drove his worry even higher. "C'mon Sammy pick up." Dean growled into the ringing phone. "You better have a good explanation for why you're not back here at," he leaned over to see the clock, "eleven." Dean growled and threw the phone as Sam's voicemail began.
"Where are you?" Dean moved around the room searching for anything, a misplaced sock, scuffs in the carpet. There was nothing around Sam's bed but there were indentations in the carpet next to his, but those had to be from before they got the room because they were too deep to be from overnight. Not finding any evidence of his little brother, Dean ran his hands through his hair. "Dammit!" he yelled, kicking the mattress. Exiting the motel room, Dean felt his heart drop for the first at the sight of the impala, completely eliminating the possibility that Sam left on his own. Thinking the motel manager might've seen something, he almost busted the door off its handles, startling the old man sitting behind the counter.
"C-can I hel-"
Dean didn't let the man finish his stammered sentence, "Have you seen anyone go in or out of our room?"
"Have I- no, no I haven't seen anyone. Not since you got in." The man was shaking slightly. Dean figured he probably should apologize but there were more important things than making sure this man felt safe, like finding Sam. Dean growled as he left the office, pulling out his phone to dial Sam again.
"This is Sam, please leave a message." Dean mouthed along with the words not willing to speak over them. "Sam hey, I need you to get back to the motel right now!" hanging up Dean took a calming breath. He was going to find Sam, even if he had to search the whole damn town, he would find Sam.
Dean was not going to cry. Absolutely not. He might go find some poor unsuspecting tree and beat the shit out of that, but he was not going to cry.
Sam was nowhere in town. Not the library geeking out on books, not the park sulking, not at a bar, and what was worse, nobody had seen him. He pulled into Millie's gas station, hoping she might've seen him. Entering the store he saw Millie putting away something on the bottom shelf giving him a nice view of her too low jeans, but Dean didn't care, women could wait till after he found Sam.
"Hey Millie." He tried for a lighter tone. Millie spun around so fast he was surprised she still had her head. For a split second, Dean saw fear flash in her eyes before she smiled.
"Dean. Hey, you look," she glanced up and down at his messy clothes. "Well you've looked better. Here sit." She gestured to a crate lying a few feet away, one that look impossibly low for his long limbs. He lowered himself down in front of the crate and leaned against it. "What has you looking like," she gestured to him.
"My brother, he's gone missing."
"Oh, how long has he been gone?" Millie's movements seemed to stiffen, and if Dean was paying attention, he would have recognized the fear in her voice, and not put it down as concern.
"To be honest? I have no idea. He was there when I went to bed and when I woke up, he was gone."
"Do you think he was taken?"
"Yeah. He wouldn't just leave." Sam knew the dangers that were out there better than anyone, and he was still hurting from Jessica's death. Sam needed him just as much as Dean needed Sam. "I just don't know who would take him, I mean we've only been in town a night."
Millie stopped moving and turned to him confused. "No you've definitely been here longer."
"We came in last night, you know when Sam almost collapsed in front of you?" Dean leaned forward suddenly tense.
"No Dean, I've seen your car in the motel parking lot everyday for the last two weeks."
Dean closed the door softly behind him, worried the loud noise could make his head explode, before sliding down the wall to the floor. How the hell did he sleep for two weeks? He placed his head between his knees, small tears tracing down his cheeks. Sam could have been gone for two weeks and he has absolutely no idea where to look for him. He vaguely remembers Millie promising to help search the town tomorrow, and the drive back to the motel was a blur. Sammy's been alone for two weeks. Pull yourself together. Dean heard the little voice in the back of his head yell at him, but the front of his head had shut down, lost to misery, the feeling of failure overwhelming his senses.
"Protect Sammy." his father's voice echoed in his head. He'd taken those words to heart. They were more than just a motto, those were the defining words of Dean's life. Even while Sam was at college Dean would sneak over there and watch his brother from a distance, even shooed away some young woman that he didn't even remember her name, just because he was busy making sure that the jerk on the corner didn't beat Sam to a pulp.
Slowly Dean registered that his thoughts had a soundtrack playing in the background, it took him a second longer to realize the music was coming from his phone. Not even looking at the contact Dean answered it. "Sammy?" He winced at the broken tone of his word.
"Where the hell have you been Dean?" Dean dropped the phone as Bobby Singer's yelling filled the room, not that the distance between the phone and his ear would have made a difference, Dean was sure they could hear him from Canada, he was that loud. "I've been trying to call you for two weeks and no answer! Do you know how much worrying you boys have put me through, not showing up the day you were supposed to and when I try and call Sam he-"
"You've heard from Sam?" Dean jumped to his feet like he'd been electrocuted.
"Yes I've heard from Sam, and I thought I'd have been hearing from you earlier than this. Why the hell have you not been answering my calls!"
"Bobby, I would-"
"Save it you idjit, did you two have some sort of fight or something, and you left him alone? And who the hell was the woman he was with?"
"Bobby!" Dean yelled into the phone, silencing the older hunter. "No, me and Sam didn't get into a fight. I woke up this morning and he was gone."
"You just woke up this morning and noticed he was gone? What have you been doing the last two weeks that you wouldn't notice?"
"I don't know Bobby." Dean had started pacing. "Sleeping? I didn't even know two weeks had passed till half an hour ago." he paused to take several deep breaths. "I searched the whole town today and there's no sign of him." Dean's voice cracked on the last words, another tear slipping out at the reminder.
"All right don't go breaking down on me Winchester. Tell me where you are and I'll come help you."
"Some small town called Bales, Nebraska."
"Okay," there was a shuffling of papers on the other side of the line. "I can be there about," another pause. "Ten tomorrow."
"Thanks Bobby, I-"
"Now don't go getting sentimental on me boy, we'll get him back." Dean smirked and hung up the phone, hoping to raise knowing that Bobby would find some sorta clue that he missed. He held the phone, staring at it, knowing he should try and already knowing what answer he would receive. He located the contact and hesitantly pressed it.
After five rings a familiar voice filled his ears. "Hi this is John, I can't come to the phone right now. If you need anything please contact my son Dean." Dean sighed. He knew he shouldn't have hoped that his dad would answer but he had allowed himself, just like when he was a kid, to hope that his father would be there to make everything better. Rubbing his eyes, Dean drifted towards the bed, the emotional roller coaster that had been constantly climbing higher had plummeted, leaving him drained. Pushing back the covers he refused to look over at Sam's empty bed, his painful reminder, stating that Sam wasn't where he should be. Laying down Dean let his eyes drift close for a second before lurching back up.
Last time he had fallen asleep, two weeks had passed and he was worried he'd lose even more time. Sighing, he settled himself down on the couch, turning on the TV and flipping the channel to one of those late night horror films. He and Sam would get a good laugh out of those, pointing out all the inaccuracies of the films. As the suspenseful music filled the room, Dean made a promise to himself. I'm going to find you Sammy, and you'd better be in one piece or so help me God, there will be hell to pay.