Disclaimer: Not mine. Season 4 would be turning out a hell of a lot different if they were.

Author's Note: Look at me with the time for writing again. For a couple of weeks, anyway. Sorry for the complete non-posting for so long. And even more sorry that it will probably be repeated. Soon. Thanks for reading, if anyone is out there.

As always: all comments are welcome, be they good, bad, or flaming trolls with bushy-crazy hair.


John and Joe were arguing again. Still. Continually.

Ever since he had been released from the hospital this morning the two had been at it; John insisting that they begin to hunt now, while Joe timidly and tenaciously kept bringing up the mangled dead people and saying that they needed to wait, bring in help.

They argued in the hospital parking lot; in the car; on the short walk into the motel room.

At this point Dean just wanted them to shut-up.

Dean walked into the room that Joe had been staying in for the last couple of days, and dumped the small bag of personal belongings that had been salvaged from the Impala. One of the nurses at the hospital had slipped it to him as he waited for his father to finish up with the doctors and cops. He hadn't even gone through it yet. He idly wondered how his dad had explained away the weapons in the trunk, but his head hurt too much to worry at it for very long.

Joe and John followed him into the room, still going at it. Who knew that Joe could be this insistent? Or this annoying.

Dean stood, swaying slightly, just staring blindly at the overly orange room and wondering what he was supposed to do now. He missed his brother's quick, common-sense. He had faith that his dad would win the argument soon, or, barring that, the two of them would just handle it on their own. But until then he felt…at odds with himself, caught between the need to act and the inability to do anything productive.

He suddenly found himself sitting on the bed, with no idea of how he'd gotten there. His dad gave him an odd look, then went back to nattering at Joe. Dean could tell from the desperate look on Joe's face that his dad was down to taking chunks out of him. It wouldn't be long now until Joe conceded. So he knew they would be on the hunt soon.

Good.

But until then he was tired, and he hurt. Hell, even thinking about his poor car, his once joy, hurt. Again, without really thinking, he curled up fully dressed on the bed, closing his eyes and letting dad and Joe finish up.

He sprawled as comfortably as he could on the strange bed and closed his eyes. Sleep offered an escape; a way to get away from the pain and worry. And the last of the hospital drugs were whispering in his veins, coaxing him, encouraging him to find that escape.

And he wouldn't have to listen to his dad and Joe anymore.

With that thought, the last of his guilt evaporated and he began to relax, just starting to drift –

-when he heard a cell phone ring.

His eyes opened again. But it was a quiet noise, and he was tired, and it could be ignored….

It rang again.

Dean sighed and shut the sound off, mentally. Sleep. He was going to sleep while he could. He relaxed into the too thin pillow.

Ring.

He cursed, shoulders tensing. Joe and his dad were still arguing while the muffled, incessant ringing of the cell had gone from barely noticeable to irritating beyond belief. "Will one of you answer your goddamned cell already?" Dean growled, not bothering to open his eyes again.

"It's not mine," his dad answered.

"Not mine, either," Joe said defensively. Joe was always defensive anymore.

"I think it's yours, Ace."

Who the hell would be calling his cell-

Dean's eyes snapped open and he scrambled clumsily off of the bed, ignoring both his body's complaints and his dad's shout as he fell to his knees and began clawing through the bag from the hospital.

"Where the hell is my cell?" Only a few people knew his cell number, and out of them only two would call him when his father was available.

Dean tried to tally how long it had been ringing and realized that he had no idea. But it was a long time now. Too long. Don't hang up, he mentally pleaded. I'm trying, just don't hang up.

"Dean, what-" his father started, but Dean cut him off.

"Shush!" he commanded as his hand finally, finally closed on his cell. He dragged it free of the dirty clothes at the bottom of the bag. The caller ID said only PHONEBOOTH, but Dean flipped it open without a hesitation.

"Sammy?"

The room went still.

There was a long pause. Dean waited and tried to loosen his grip on the cell before he cracked it. "Sammy? You there?"

"Dean?"

Hesitant, thick, horse and rough, but undeniably Sam.

"It's Sam," Dean breathed, and his father jerked forward, demanding to know if it was really Sam, demanding the phone. Dean waved him off, turning away. His eyes closed and, swallowing hard, he spoke. "Jesus wept, man. Where the hell are you? Sammy?"

Again, there was a long pause. Then his brother's voce came floating over the line again, sounding hurt and lost and much too young. "I-I don't know. Not sure. Somewhere…."

He just drifted off, and Dean felt himself panic a little. Something was not right here. "Sam? C'mon, kiddo, focus here. We don't know where you are, Sam. We can't find you. We need your help. You have to tell us where to find you, okay, Sammy? …Sammy? Sammy!"

"It's Sam."

He closed his eyes, grinning. "Good boy. Just tell me where you are and I'll come get you. Sam?"

Another pause. "I don't know where I am, Dean." His tone was clearer.

"It's okay. It's okay. I'll find you. But I need a clue, Sammy. You've gotta help me out here. Look at the phone, dude. Read me the phone number for the phone booth." Dean waited through the now expected lag. It was almost as if Sam was having trouble processing the words. Dean was desperately trying not to list the types of head injuries that could be a symptom of.

"Right," Sam said, eventually, "'cos the numbers will…."

"Will tell me where you're at. Right. So can you read them for me, Sammy? They should be right there on the front of the phone." His dad stepped up behind him and handed him a notepad and pencil. Dean reminded himself to calm down. The last thing he needed to do was spook the kid into hanging up.

That odd pause, then, "Yeah. Yeah. I see 'em. 895…."

"895? Sammy? 895…?"

A beat where he could feel his heart in his throat, and then Sam spit the numbers out so fast that Dean was scrambling to write them down. "895-555-7765."

"Okay. I'm looking for it now. Just…don't hang up, okay?" Dean had wedged the cell against his ear and was reaching for Joe's laptop, which Joe had pulled out and had started booting. He waited impatiently for it to finish up. "We got Wi-Fi here, right?"

"Yeah," Joe said. "All set up."

"Sammy? You still with me?" He pulled up a web browser and went to Google. "Sam?"

"Here. Sorry. I'm tired."

"S'okay. Just stay with me." He typed the phone number into the search engine and waited. His dad stood over his shoulder.

"Gotcha," Dean muttered, as the browser spit out the address of the phone booth. Then he looked at his dad as something dawned on him. "Where are we?"

John looked at the address. "About two hours from the state line. We can be there in about four hours, if we push it."

Damnit. "Okay, Sammy. Are you safe? Where you're at, is it safe?"

"Wh-what?" The voice was rougher, more raw, somehow.

"Sam," Dean mentally cringed and then spoke. "Look, it's gonna take us way too long to get to you. You need to call 911, okay?"

"No."

"Look, I'm not gonna argue with you about this, Sam."

"No." he said again, and there was a…change in his voice. The roughness had a different quality, less hurt, more angry. "No. I have to go."

"Sam! Don't you hang up on me!"

"Sorry. They're here. Sorry."

"Who's there? Sam! Who's there?" Dean demanded.

"I have to go," Sam said, his voice both stronger and more distant, as if he wasn't even aware of the phone anymore. "I'll try again later."

"Sam! Sammy! No!"

But all that came back over the line was silence.

~*~