Despite his night of anxiety and sleeplessness, Sam woke promptly at eight o'clock feeling refreshed and optimistic. They were on their way to the Northwest to get Dean "fixed", but as Dean himself had reminded him last night, he was already doing pretty well. Sam was more than happy to see this quiet, steady progress, the small but constant improvement.
He set the coffee to brewing, he and Dean bathed and got dressed, they had their breakfast and packed up, and they were on the road before it even hit nine, despite the "interlude" in the shower that had eaten up a good twenty minutes or more.
Sam was still pleasantly buzzed from his orgasm and didn't even mind so much when Dean put Motorhead in the stereo and cranked it up. He'd never listen to that music by choice, but it was practically a part of Dean, and it also served to remind Sam of earlier, happier times.
Not that he wasn't happy right now, just him and Dean on the road.... It would have been better if they'd been heading toward the Grand Canyon still, and weren't rushing to meet their father, were just enjoying a leisurely trip. But Sam would take what he could get. It was a million times better than still being in school, not knowing where his missing brother was, while meantime, Dean was being rented out for sex to perverted pedophiles who obviously didn't care that they were raping a damaged, brainwashed, barely-pubescent boy.
Sam had to stop focusing on that, though. It had happened and it was horrifying. But Dean had the right of it when he said that they should leave it in the past, not allow those bastards to have any hold on their present together. Sam just... it just made him so angry and torn up inside, and he wished that there was some way he could get vengeance. It was too late for that, the bastards were dead and couldn't hurt anyone -- couldn't hurt Dean -- anymore. That didn't make Sam feel a whole lot better, but it did help a little.
He could admit that he'd gone looking while at Missouri's, trying to find Dean on the internet. Even though his father and Bobby had said that he didn't want to see the pictures, even though he knew that they were undoubtedly right, there was a certain morbid curiosity. Sam couldn't help himself; if the photos were still out there, he wanted to see them.
Fortunately, either the authorities or John's hacker friend -- Sam was inclined to suspect it had been the latter -- had removed everything. Sam had found some really horrifying things, things he wished he could un-see, but nothing involving his brother.
He was both relieved and disappointed, but mostly relieved. With only his father and Bobby's word for the fact that Dean's face had been posted online somewhere, Sam was left to exercise his lurid imagination. How did you do that; how did you advertise a fourteen year old boy to fuck for money? The reality may have been better or worse than Sam's imagining, but either way he was beyond glad that the program created by that hacker had recognized Dean's face even though he'd been ten or eleven years younger than expected, and that Dad had been able to find out exactly where Dean was physically being held. They hadn't been able to rescue him nearly soon enough, but at least that perversion hadn't gone on any longer!
"Sammy, you okay?" Dean turned down the music to ask, tilting his head and peering at Sam through thick bangs that he hadn't brushed after their shower.
Sam realized that his mood had dampened a little from just a few minutes ago, since he'd begun thinking about Dean being held and abused.
"I'm fine," he replied, willing it to be true, smiling crookedly at Dean where he was sitting next to him on the bench seat. Dean's shoes were off and he was crosslegged, a bag of chips open in his lap even though they'd just had breakfast ten minutes before. He was wearing jeans and a flannel plaid over a plain black teeshirt, since the morning was a little chilly. His pendant gleamed bronze on his chest, his ring silver on his thumb, and there was salt on his fingers. His face was glowing in the morning sunlight, his expression open and easy, and Sam was struck all over again by how strong Dean was, to be able to be doing so well after how badly he'd been damaged in the past two years.
"Are you sure?" Dean persisted, rubbing his palm over Sam's thigh in what might have been meant to be a comforting gesture. Sam flushed slightly, since the touch -- innocent or not -- went straight to his cock. Just as well they were on the freeway now, with nowhere to pull over and ravish his brother, or they'd never get back to Oregon!
"I'm sure," he assured Dean. Because it was mostly true, and Dean didn't need to hear otherwise. He didn't need to know that Sam was thinking about those years that he'd been raped and beaten, that Sam wasn't really leaving it in the past as Dean had instructed. "How are you doing?" he turned it back around on his brother.
Dean looked at him quizzically, then shrugged. "I'm happy, Sammy," he said easily. "I'm with you."
And, really, what could Sam say to that? If there was ever an oversimplification... and yet for Dean it was that simple.
Sam wished that it could be that simple for him too. On some levels it was. But he couldn't help his brain working away; what might have been, what had been, what was going to happen next.... This was what had kept him up the night before, fears that ought to have been banished in the warm light of day. And yet he had a hard time letting go of them.
"Sammy, you need to stop worrying," Dean spoke up, his expression both concerned and exasperated.
"I know." It wasn't as though he could argue that statement, after all. But... "It's not that easy for me, you know."
"I know." Dean cuddled up against him and the warmth of his body, his closeness, calmed Sam in a way that nothing else could. "Chips?"
Grinning, Sam dug into the proffered bag. Things weren't as simple as Dean wanted them to be, and he was dead certain that they were heading into trouble, but he had his brother back and he would take care of Dean and Dean would take care of him, and there was nothing that they couldn't handle together.
Leaving Wyoming, they dipped very briefly down into Utah before heading through the thick bottom half of Idaho. Sam stopped for an early lunch outside of Boise, in a park that was certainly not welcoming, all dry and rocky and barren, but it was deserted, which made it perfect for them. After eating, they got back on the road; as Sam had anticipated, reaching the Oregon border a little after noon.
Sam had completely forgotten that he was supposed to call Missouri that morning to talk about Dean.... And by the time he did call her that afternoon, he had something else entirely on his mind.
"He knows we're coming, he said to call, and he'd have to know that this would be about the time we hit the Oregon border. That's when he said to call. And he knows we're on our way, so he wouldn't be somewhere he couldn't answer his phone. He may be bad about contacting us, but he's always been good about answering when he tells us to call him. If he told me to call, he should be answering the phone. Getting Dean fixed is too important, to all of us."
"Sam," Missouri interrupted his flood of words. "Calm down for a moment."
"I can't calm down," Sam protested, pacing back and forth beside the Impala. They were in the first rest stop inside the Oregon border, he'd called their father as directed, and it had gone straight to voicemail. With a sick twist to his gut, Sam had tried again and again, but John hadn't replied. After getting John's voicemail for the ninth time, he'd broken and called Missouri. He didn't know who else to turn to.
"It's okay, Sammy," Dean spoke up from where he was sitting on the passenger side, the door propped open, his feet on the pavement. He looked sleepy, and completely composed, which only served to make Sam feel more frenzied. "Dad's safe. He's just asleep."
That was the second time Dean had tried to assure him of that -- well, the third time, if Sam counted two nights ago, the second time being when his first call had failed to go through -- and it just made him freak out more. "Did you hear that?" he demanded of Missouri. "He says Dad's asleep, but he can't tell me more than that!" He'd already pressed Dean, but as he said, Dean hadn't been able to elaborate. Sam wished now that he'd paid more attention to his nightmare two nights ago, and to Dean's words after. But then, what could he have done when they'd still been in Nebraska, still hundreds of miles away from Oregon?
"Hush, Sam, honey," Missouri commanded, and her stern tone of voice went a long way towards quelling Sam's mounting hysteria. "Now give me a moment to think."
"You said it," Sam mumbled miserably, slumping against the Impala next to his brother. Dean rose and tucked himself into Sam's side, and Sam slung his free arm around Dean, not caring that they weren't the only ones in the parking lot. He needed all the comfort and support that he could get; and so did Dean, even if he wasn't flipping out the way Sam was. "You called me the day before yesterday and told me that there was something wrong, but I didn't pay attention, I didn't try to call Dad then, I didn't do anything--"
"Sam!" Missouri cut through his babbling again. "Please be still!"
Swallowing down further self-recriminations, Sam squeezed Dean and waited breathlessly, Dean squeezing his waist in return. Sam wanted Missouri to make it all better. He wasn't prepared to be a responsible adult, wished that there was someone who could take this off his shoulders. But Missouri was back in Kansas, Bobby was on a Hunt who-knew-where, and John... well, was apparently missing, which was the problem. Sam was used to tagging along with his Dad or Dean. Even in college he'd been inclined to let his friends take the lead. He wasn't used to having anyone depend on him. But now, even though Dean seemed to want to pick back up his role as the older brother, he wasn't equipped for it. So it really was up to Sam.
Which was just fine when he had to decide what was for dinner or make sure they got out of the shower and on the road in a timely fashion... but not so great when their father had GONE MISSING!!
"Let me go and check a few things, Sam," Missouri was saying. Sam felt a moment of panic, didn't want to lose his connection to Missouri, even though it was only over the phone. "Give me about ten, fifteen minutes and I'll get back to you."
"Okay." He gritted his teeth and tried to steady his breathing. Having Dean tucked up against him helped. Knowing that Missouri was going to do something helped too. Even though this was scary and bad and definitely meant that there was something wrong. There was no way John had just forgotten to turn his phone on. Sam was as sure of that as he was of anything.
"I'll call right back," Missouri assured him, and then she was gone. Sam tried his father's cell a couple more times, with no luck. He'd left a message the second time he'd gotten the voicemail, trying to keep his tone cool and collected. He was almost ready to leave a second, more forceful message, but couldn't trust his voice not to tremble.
"Let's get in the car, Sammy," Dean piped up, and Sam realized that a truck with two male passengers had just parked a couple of spots down from them, and Dean was shivering slightly. He was doing better, really, but strange men still frightened him. And Sam couldn't blame him for that.
"Sure," he said, swallowing tightly. He bundled them both into the Impala, clutching Dean close, and not caring in the least if they got funny looks. He wasn't focused outward, was only concerned with maintaining Dean's equilibrium, worrying about their father's unknown status, and waiting for his silent phone to ring.
Well, John's status wasn't completely unknown, if Dean was right. John was "asleep". But what did that really mean? When Sam had pressed Dean, he had just shaken his head and shrugged. "Daddy's safe; he's sleeping." That was all Sam could get out of his brother. He hoped that Missouri could give him more to go on.
Briefly, Sam thought about calling Bobby. But he didn't want to tie up the line, since Missouri had promised to call him back. Besides, he didn't know enough yet to be able to tell Bobby anything. It was killing him to wait, but he was going to have to. Bobby wouldn't appreciate being interrupted in his own Hunt with nothing but vague fears and cryptic declarations, no matter how seriously Sam took it all.
"Do you know where Dad is?" Sam asked, even though he was pretty sure that this was a question he'd already put to his brother. He'd been more than a little panicked when he hadn't been able to raise John, before he'd contacted Missouri, and he couldn't remember everything he'd said, but he wouldn't have forgotten to ask something that obvious, he didn't think.
Dean shook his head again, and Sam wasn't sure if the look on Dean's face was sympathetic or annoyed. "Not really," he said, his voice low and even. He seemed to be distressed by Sam's emotional upheaval, as well as by the other travelers milling around the rest stop, but he didn't appear to be overly concerned about their father. Sam knew he should take that as a good sign, but he had been counting on talking to John, and this silence was just too mysterious and frightening. Especially when John had been searching for a way to get the Melusine's mark removed from Dean's flesh.
Bobby had said that the creature had been torn apart shortly after she had taken Dean -- which had probably been what had saved his life, even though she had still robbed him of a good ten-plus years of physical growth -- and Sam didn't have any reason to doubt that their friend was right. Bobby was a Hunter who knew his stuff and didn't make unsupported statements. But then, if the Melusine had really been destroyed, what had John been Hunting? What had he found? And what had now happened to him?
Too many questions and Sam had only one answer. An answer that made absolutely no sense to him.
He started when the phone in his hand trilled. For just a mad moment he let himself hope that it was their father... but it wasn't. It was Missouri calling back as promised.
"Did you find out anything?" he asked, in lieu of greeting. He half expected Missouri to chide him for his lack of manners, but she just responded to the query, her tone gentle and regretful.
"Well, your brother is right, Sam. But I'm afraid I can't tell you anything more than that. Not right now. I'll have to look into it more deeply, and that's hard to do from a distance."
Sam blinked, taken aback. He hadn't really been expecting Missouri to verify Dean's words, and he still had no idea what they meant.
"So.... What are we supposed to do, then?" he asked, feeling lost.
"I think you ought to turn around and come back to my place," Missouri said crisply. "But I've a powerful feeling you won't do that."
"Sorry," Sam said without thinking, and without really feeling sorry. "If Dad's in trouble, we've got to find him and help him. And if he's found a way to fix Dean...."
"He doesn't seem to be in trouble," Missouri said slowly. "He's just... asleep."
"Well, it's not a natural sleep, is it?" Sam pointed out. "It's not like he just forgot we'd be coming and slept through his alarm, right?"
"No, of course not," Missouri said dryly. "You know as well as I do that's not the case, Sam Winchester. It is definitely a supernatural influence. I get a sense of peace, of safety...."
"And yet Dad knows we're coming and he's trying to fix Dean," Sam persisted. "So even if he'd safe, he isn't asleep of his own will. He might not be in danger, but he's still trapped."
"And you boys may be walking into a trap in turn," Missouri said, more forcefully than she usually spoke.
"But we don't have a choice," Sam threw back, and it was only the truth. "We have to find Dad, rescue him, and figure out how to fix Dean!"
Missouri sighed heavily. "I don't like it, Sam. It doesn't feel right."
Sam actually thought that it felt very right, but he didn't want to argue with her right now. "I'm sorry, Missouri," he apologized again, meaning it a little more this time. "But we have to head into Oregon. I'll keep trying Dad's phone, but if he's been 'asleep' since two nights ago...."
"All right," Missouri allowed, sounding displeased but resigned. "I'll see what I can do from this end to get you more information, but I can already tell you that you're heading toward a great power, and that it's drawing a veil over the metaphysical topography of the area you're heading into. A strong feminine force."
"Huh." Sam furrowed his brow. That sounded.... "Is it the Melusine?"
"I don't think so," Missouri replied, but so slowly that Sam wondered if she was at all certain. "I get a sense of water, with a definite female touch... and it seems familiar, as though I've felt it before -- which must come from my work with your brother, in his memories and thoughts -- but there doesn't seem to be any taste of the ocean. Which there definitely was in Dean's memories when the Melusine was involved."
"Weird." Sam gnawed on his lower lip for a moment. That didn't sound good... but what choice did they have? They couldn't turn tail and run back to Lawrence, even though that was what Missouri wanted them to do. Dean wouldn't get any better that way, and if their Dad was in trouble, they needed to go and rescue him.
"You be careful, Sam, sweetie," Missouri said, her voice heavy. "And watch over Dean; that's more important than anything else."
"I know it is," Sam avowed, tightening the arm he had locked around his brother's slim body. Dean was sitting quietly next to him, letting Sam deal with things but keeping an alert eye on both Sam and the people outside the car. Sam was grateful to see that while Dean looked wary, he didn't seem too freaked out. Now, if he could only stop freaking out himself....
"But don't you go taking any chances either," Missouri added. "In fact, Sam, I wish you'd--"
"We're not coming back to your place, Missouri," Sam put his foot down. "I really appreciate the offer, but...."
"No, you're right," Missouri sighed. "You need to go and find your father. I know that. And there's no one else in the area?"
"I wish there was," Sam answered ruefully. "We could probably use some help here. But the closest person I know of is a cop in Eugene, and Dad's the one who had his number."
"Do you know his name?" Missouri prompted. "I could try to find him on the internet, using a search engine."
"No," Sam grimaced. "Dad said it once, but I forget. I didn't think it would matter, and I was more worried about Dean than anything else at the time."
"Well, that only makes sense," Missouri allowed. "And unless I'm much mistaken in my geography, even though I'm not too familiar with Oregon, Eugene is a great deal further south than the area your father is in."
"Definitely." Sam had spent quite a bit of time poring over online maps when he'd realized he was heading back to the Pacific Northwest. Eugene was a long ways from Corbett, at least two hours' drive south of Portland. Too far to ask help of a man Sam didn't even know; especially when they didn't even know what they might need help with.
"Well, I'll see what I can do from here," Missouri repeated, clearly trying to sound bracing. "In the meantime, I suggest you call Bobby Singer. He'll probably be able to help you more than I can."
"I will," Sam promised. "But you've already helped a lot, Missouri."
"Not as much as I'd like," she sighed. "But, as I said, I'll see what more I can do. I don't have a lot of powers -- I'm not a witch -- but whatever I can do, I will."
"Thank you," Sam said simply.
"Be safe, Sam, honey."
"Thank you," he said again. Because what else could he say?
And then their phone call was done, and Sam didn't really know anything more than he had before he'd called her... but at least he knew that he wasn't alone, and that was a comforting feeling.
"Let's go, Sammy," Dean urged, nudging him in the side with a pointy elbow. "Sitting here is boring."
Sam took a last look at his phone, which remained stubbornly silent, then turned the key in the ignition. He wasn't the slightest bit bored, but sitting here in this parking lot wasn't doing any of them any good either.
For the better or for the worse, they were headed for the Northwest. Their father had gone missing, and even if Dean didn't seem too concerned, Sam wasn't going to rest until they'd found him.
Whether John was awake or asleep, he was in trouble. That much Sam knew for certain.
It was somewhat contrary, but once Sam had Missouri's permission, her instruction even, to call Bobby, he balked at doing so. It was just... calling Bobby would make it real. Maybe John had just let his phone battery die and needed to charge it. Maybe he'd been out all night and had just slept in. Maybe there wasn't anything supernatural about this... despite the fact that Missouri had confirmed that there was.
Ten miles outside of Corbett and there was still no answer on John's phone. The fact that it went directly to voicemail meant that it wasn't even turned on. Sam finally admitted defeat and called Bobby.
"What's wrong?" was Bobby's greeting, and Sam felt an undeniable wave of relief rush over him. He wasn't alone in this, solely responsible for himself and Dean, wasn't going to have to rescue John himself. Bobby would help. He hated to ask him, but he knew what the answer would be already.
"Dad's not answering his phone," Sam said bluntly. He wasn't going to have to convince Bobby; he only needed to spell things out. "He said to call once we hit Oregon, we did, and it's going straight to his voicemail."
Bobby let loose an explosive expletive. "That ain't good," he gritted, a little unnecessarily. "Where's he s'pposed to be at?"
"Corbett," Sam answered, knowing that he should have called Bobby sooner, after Missouri had told him to. "It's a little to the east of--"
"Know where it is," Bobby grunted. "Okay. So, where are you boys?"
"Almost to Corbett." Sam felt guilty, even though there was no reason for it, really. "Actually, we're coming up on the exit right now. Bobby, what should we do?"
"I don't like this, Sam," Bobby said immediately, his voice gruff. "I don't want you anywhere near that town."
"But we have to stay in the area," Sam protested, clutching his phone with a sweaty hand. "If Dad's here, then--"
"All right, fine," Bobby interrupted. The Impala sailed past the exit, and going to Corbett wasn't an option anymore. "Whatever the next town is with a hotel, you hunker down there. I'll be on my way as soon as I can load my truck. I don't want you settin' foot outside your hotel room until I get there, you hear me?"
"Thank you, Bobby," Sam blurted, swallowing down more fervent words of gratitude. "I don't know what I'd do if you weren't willing to come help."
"Get yerself into as big a'heap of trouble as yer Dad has probably gotten himself into," Bobby drawled dryly. "And don't try to convince me otherwise."
"I'm sure you're right," Sam wasn't ashamed to agree. "We'll get a hotel room at..." he squinted at the green sign coming up on the right, "At Troutdale, and wait for you there."
"Gonna take me at least a day," Bobby said. "Even if I drive through the night. But I can't fly -- I'm planning on packing a lot of things that would never make it through airport security."
"That's all right, Bobby," Sam assured him. "Missouri's going to be looking into what happened, from Kansas. Dean said, and Missouri agrees, that Dad is sleeping. Missouri says there's a female power in the area, but she doesn't think it's the Melusine."
"So he ain't just gone missing; he's gotten his ass captured too?" Bobby asked incredulously. "Well, don't that jest beat all." He didn't even sound upset; just thunderstruck. "Only John Winchester." It almost sounded like another curse, the way he said it.
"Anyway," Sam forged onward. "Missouri says he's safe. But if he's being held somewhere...."
"It can't be by choice," Bobby finished for him, his voice brisk. "All right, Sam, I'd best get going so I can get there. You get a room in Troutdale, don't you set foot near Corbett, and if you hear from yer Dad or if Missouri has anything solid, you call me right away."
"Absolutely." And then, because he couldn't say it enough, Sam repeated; "Thank you, Bobby."
"Jest stay out of trouble," Bobby grunted, and then he hung up. Sam didn't mind; they were asking so much of a man who had already given them far more than they had any right to expect. They were just lucky that Bobby was such a good friend and such a generous person, and that he was able to drop everything at a moment's notice to come to their aid.
Troutdale was only about a fifteen minute drive from Corbett; Sam felt that it was close enough that they'd be accessible, while hopefully being at a distance from whatever trouble was going down in that town. He didn't like the idea of Bobby driving nonstop to get to Oregon, but he also hoped that it wouldn't take him too long to get there.
As they zoomed along I-84, Dean began fidgeting. This was a little unusual, because normally being in the Impala calmed him. He kept peering out the driver's side window, past Sam, and he was nibbling at his fingers in a way that reminded Sam of how he had been before they'd gotten to Lawrence, before Missouri had helped him to remember who he was. Sam didn't like that, and was glad Bobby hadn't let him stop at Corbett.
"I hear her singing," Dean mumbled, or at least that was what it sounded like, and the hair at the nape of Sam's neck stood up.
"What?" he blurted.
"Look, waterfalls!" Dean said, more loudly and clearly, pointing to their left.
"Can't look, Dean, I'm driving," Sam answered shortly. He did glance to the left, though, catching a glimpse of tall stone cliffs, lots of green trees, and a long silvery thread of water that cut from the top of the hill to fall somewhere out of sight, at its base. It was pretty, but he was far more concerned with his brother's other words. "Who's singing?"
Dean frowned, butting his head against Sam's shoulder, then his features relaxed. "It's okay, Sammy."
For a moment Sam considered just staying on the highway, driving through to Portland and calling Bobby from there. But here was Troutdale, and there was a Motel-6, and before he quite realized what had happened, he'd pulled into the parking lot.
And now that they were here, they might as well get a room and wait for Bobby. They ought to be safe. It was far enough from Corbett -- a good five or more miles as the crow flew, over rocky terrain -- and looking at the asphalt, the buildings, the restaurants, Sam couldn't bring himself to believe that there was any hidden danger here. It looked like any other small American town near a tourist attraction -- Multnomah Falls. Nothing bad could possibly happen here, right?
Besides, they just needed to wait for Bobby to get here. They'd be fine until then.
Drawing in a deep breath and trying to ignore the feeling of doom and disaster hanging over his head, Sam got out of the car and strode to the office. Dean was his little shadow, tagging along beside him, hand tucked into his elbow, and he wouldn't have had it any other way.
"I'd like to get a room," he said to the clerk at the desk, who eyed them with dull disinterest. "Two queens. Non-smoking if you have it."
The room didn't have any numbers on the door -- Sam was only able to pick it out as being theirs by looking at the rooms to either side. It was on the ground floor, tucked away behind the stairs that went up to the second floor. The teal and turquoise carpet was thin, the air smelled of stale smoke, and the lamp between the beds was burnt out. It was dark and chilly and extremely uninviting.
"Great." Sam dumped their duffels, looking around with a sour expression. He was glad that he'd used the credit card Bobby had given him to pay, instead of dipping into their cash. Everything here looked at least as old as he was, and nothing looked like it had been taken care of. "Home, sweet home, huh, Dean?"
Dean wandered in, flopping onto one of the beds, which didn't even bounce under his slight weight, and rolling to look up at Sam through tousled bangs.
"We won't be here long, Sammy."
"Hell, no, we won't," Sam avowed, not liking the dreamy tone of Dean's voice, but too irritated by their surroundings to do anything but take his brother's words at face value. "Tomorrow morning we're going to see what else this town has to offer. No way am I staying here any longer than I have to!"
The room wasn't even that clean. Or maybe it was just so worn that it couldn't be cleaned. "Seedy" would have been a compliment for this hotel. If he hadn't already paid, Sam would've been tempted to just get in the Impala and look for something better. It was only early evening, after all....
But he just couldn't bring himself to waste the money. Even though it wasn't his. Even though this place was definitely not up to his standards; and since his were Winchester standards, that was really saying something.
"Pathetic," he mumbled, kicking at one of the duffels, then sinking down to sit on the mattress beside Dean. As he'd thought, hard as a rock. He hoped that the sheets were laundered -- the bedspread certainly wasn't. Heaving a sigh, he tried to turn his mind to something more constructive. "What do you want to do for dinner, Dean?"
"I think we should eat some food." Dean grinned up at him. He looked so adorable, lying there on his side, head pillowed on one bent arm, his hair falling in his face, his cheeks faintly flushed, his eyes bright. He didn't look so distracted anymore, which Sam felt was a huge relief.
"Good plan," Sam chuckled, reaching to brush Dean's soft bangs back out of his face. Sure, the hotel room was a pit, but at least he was here with his brother. It wasn't as cozy as it'd been the night before, but they could make do. "But what would you like to have?"
"Ummm.... Hamburgers?" Dean wrinkled his nose, creasing his freckles. "But not McDonald's. Real hamburgers."
"Are you up to going out?" Sam wanted to know in response. "Or should I get take-out?"
Dean pursed his lips, and Sam resisted the urge to trace them with his fingertip... barely. Dean's bright expression clouded a little, though he still seemed calm and relaxed. "I don't wanna eat in a restaurant, Sammy. I'm not ready for that yet."
"That's okay," Sam hastened to assure him. "I can run out and pick something up. You'll be okay while I'm gone? You want me to call Missouri again, so that you can talk to her?"
"I'll be fine," Dean decided. "Make sure you get extra onions, okay, Sammy?"
"Only if you promise to brush your teeth and gargle with mouthwash before you kiss me, then, Dean," was Sam's rejoinder.
Dean laughed lightly and squirmed up, plastering his lips against Sam's. "Okay, Sammy," he agreed easily enough. "And don't forget the cheese fries."
"Well, I'll see what they have," Sam grinned. "I'm not even sure where I'll be going to yet. But I'll make sure to get something you like."
Suddenly Sam had an armful of squirming teenage boy, and Dean was kissing him enthusiastically. For a brief moment Sam considered putting off his field trip for dinner... but then his stomach growled, and sometimes, just sometimes, food was more important than sex. When one was hungry enough, that was.
"You sure you'll be okay?" he asked Dean as they untangled themselves. He turned on the television; Dean could watch some programming. "Maybe there's something in the phone book, maybe someone delivers."
"All right, I'm going."
Dean had been doing so much better that Sam wasn't even anxious leaving him in the hotel room alone. Well, not much. Dean had assured him he'd be fine, and Sam made sure that the door locked behind him. He went out, he got the hamburger with extra onions, and steak fries with ranch sauce, which was the closest approximation to cheese fries that the diner had. He figured with that, a large soda, and a huge slice of blueberry pie, that Dean ought to be pretty pleased.
Sam wasn't gone more than twenty minutes; he checked his watch, he was aware of the time.
But those twenty minutes were long enough, too long.
When he got back to the hotel, the door was open. The television was still on but the room was empty. His brother was nowhere to be seen.