A/N: Two words for ya...Joplin and Sam-fu. :)

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Men of Faith, Chapter 5

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"Henry?" Sam asks, taking a hesitant step toward the ghost. "Father?"

At the end of the alley, Henry stands with his head bowed, his normally translucent features nearly luminous.

Sam hadn't realized, all this time Henry, or his body, had been sitting or laying in the backseat, how tall the Father was. But as Henry lifts his head, he meets Sam's eyes evenly, volumes spoken there in sadness and loss.

"What is it?" Sam asks, moving until he's just a few feet from the spirit. "What happened?"

"I know," Henry whispers.

"What?" Sam breathes.

Henry lifts his eyes to the convenience store on their right. "Two men. Robbed that store, and shot the…they shot the attendant. And I…I saw it, Sammy. That's all. That's why."

Sam takes a breath, prepared to apologize, a knee-jerk reaction. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for your loss. But, it just isn't fitting. They deal with death all the time, but it isn't like this. There aren't people.

He lifts his chin. "Where's Dean?"

"With the car."

"He left?"

Henry shakes his head, frowns. "They took him."

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It's like pulling teeth to get the full story out of Henry, or maybe it just feels that way as Sam dances nervously in front of him. Feels like forever before they get as far as, "So they took the car and Dean?"

"Yes." Henry nods. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry." Sam laughs. "That's perfect."

Henry looks at him like he's lost his fool mind.

"Okay, not perfect," Sam addends quickly. He digs in his pocket for his phone and pulls it out. "But it's good." He presses a few buttons and holds it out to show Henry, the tiny screen now displaying a street map.

"GPS." Sam grins. "We can find them."

"Well." Henry smiles, not quite grasping the technology.

"Do you know where this is?" Sam asks, reading off the street names and address.

"That's just the other side of town. Not a twenty minute drive."

"Great." Sam shoves his phone in his pocket and starts down the street, only realizing after a few long strides that Henry isn't following. He turns around and jogs the few steps back. "Aren't you coming?"

Henry shrugs. "I can't."

Sam gazes at the sidewalk behind and in front of him with wide eyes. "Is it…is it like a wall?"

"No." Henry smiles sadly. "No. I just…I can't do it." He lifts his eyes to the church, stained glass windows glowing now, illuminating the night sky with their color. "I think I can go in now."

"Oh." Sam takes a deep breath. "Okay." He feels like maybe he should hug Henry, that seems pretty appropriate, but Henry is just a spirit, just energy and light and a soul, and Sam knows his arms would pass right through.

He extends his right arm for a handshake anyway.

Henry does the same, a tired glint in his eye. When their fingers meet, Henry's pass through Sam's with a bone deep coldness that leaves an ache Sam will feel for days.

"Well." Henry shifts awkwardly. "I'll see you around then. Thank you."

"It's our job." Sam smiles slowly.

"And you're good at it."

With a nod, the urgency of finding Dean fast weighing on him, Sam turns and takes off down the sidewalk, Henry's voice echoing after him.

"Good luck. Take care, kid."

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Sam runs a mile before he picks up a cab, rambling off the address breathlessly as he climbs in the backseat.

The driver eyes him hesitantly, so Sam shoves a twenty-dollar bill through the Plexiglas window to make him drive. Fast.

He hadn't been in the church all that long, if he got there fast enough, maybe Dean would be okay. Maybe the goons that took him hadn't had time to even think about what they were going to do yet.

Sam knows they hadn't really hurt Henry, hadn't really beaten on him or anything. These guys were probably trying to keep their hands clean. And Sam knows that Dean knows that Henry had been killed by poison. No way could his brother be dumb enough to eat or drink anything those guys gave him. No way. Dean was smarter than that…wasn't he?

Swallowing thickly, Sam taps on the glass and motions at the driver to go faster.

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It's when he climbs out of the cab, stepping onto the dirty asphalt of a motel parking lot, that Sam realizes how entirely unprepared he is.

The motel looks more like prison barracks, a long row of bare cement block walls, tall, gray doors and dark windows. It's worse than most of the places they stay in.

The Impala is sitting in the far, shadowed corner of the lot, empty and alone.

Sam makes his way toward the car slowly, carefully, casually tossing glances toward the rooms as he goes. They're all dark, save one, a sliver of light visible in the space between closed curtains.

When he reaches the car, he ducks behind it on the far side, completely hidden from the row of motel windows. Edging up, he peers in the windows. The car is empty of people, but otherwise just as it had been the last time he'd seen it, a few hours prior. Fast food sandwich wrappers, scattered newspapers, clothing, and empty, plastic soda bottles. Henry's green, army blanket is still shoved in the corner next to a duffel bag and a stolen motel pillow, and next to that on the seat, not even trying to be hidden, is a loaded, silver Magnum. Dean's gun.

Sam swallows thickly and realizes he may be dealing with complete idiots. The thought doesn't bring him as much relief as it should. He reaches for the door handle and slowly, silently pulls on it. The door creaks open.

Yep, definitely not Harvard material here.

Still, if the guys had managed to take Dean down, they had to have some bulk. Heavy in the brawn department and lacking in the brains. Sam could handle that.

Snatching the gun off the seat, Sam eases the door closed again. He could just wire the car and go, call the cops, get Dean later, but he couldn't depend on the fact that there would be a later for his brother.

In a slouched sort of duck walk, Sam makes his way to the motel walls and waddles down to the lit window, the only room showing any sign of occupation. The muffled sounds of the TV float through the thin door, but over that, just barely, Sam can hear two voices, real voices conversing. Deeper and distinctly lyrical, maybe southern or mountain accents, marking the difference between them and the television.

Two options then, Sam considers. He could ambush or he could watch and wait. Wouldn't John be proud now.

Too quickly, the decision is made for him. The door swings open and a man steps out. He's stocky and wide, gives new meaning to barrel-chested and wears a black ski mask, folded up to his forehead, like a regular hat.

He takes two steps out, doesn't even close the door before he sees Sam. "What the hell are you doing?"

There's nowhere to duck to, nothing to hide. Sam straightens up slowly and tries to smile, presses his lips together tightly when his heart threatens to climb up his throat and right out his mouth. "Sorry, I, uh, I just lost a contact lens here." He makes a show of studying the concrete beneath his feet, glancing around and squinting.

"Right," the man drawls.

"Yeah." Sam glances up at him. "Hey, could you help me? I mean, I can't really see." He closes one eye and rubs it with the back of his hand.

The man stares at him for a long moment and then he snorts and looks away.

Another voice drifts out of the open door. "Who you talking to?"

Sam watches as the man in front of him turns away, very nearly giving him his back to reply. "Some fool out here lost his…"

The rest of his words are choked out in surprise as Sam reaches forward and grabs the back of his shirt, spins him around and shoves him hard against the wall. Dazed, the man stumbles backward. Sam hooks an arm around his neck and pulls Dean's Magnum from his coat pocket.

From inside the motel room, there are footsteps approaching the door. There's no time to think about it, no time at all really. Sam pulls the big man with him, kicks the door open and stumbles in, kicks the door back shut once they're inside and presses the gun up under the man's chin. "Where's my brother?"

The second, smaller man stares at them with cartoonishly huge eyes. "Holy…"

"Shut up." Sam waves the gun in his direction before settling it back under his captive's chin. He takes a deep breath, trying to calm himself and think. It's been awhile since he's felt like this. This crazy, so much adrenaline coursing through his blood he can taste it sour on his tongue. And he's certain, he has never felt such hate for another human being as he does for these two men. Two people, not demons, who should know what is right and wrong. "Where…" He swallows and tries again. "Where is he?"

The gun barrel moves as the man in his hold shifts to talk. "We don't know you, man. We don't know your brother." He's too calm, too collected for the situation and Sam releases him with a furious twist and shove. When the man is a step away, Sam swings the gun's butt end, connects to his forehead with a hollow sounding thud and the man drops.

He levels the weapon again, concentrating entirely on the second man now, lips trembling as he tries to speak. "Where?"

"Aw, man," the guy whines, gazing at his fallen companion.

"Where?" Sam repeats, his lip curling upward.

"We gave him some stuff…"

The gun trembles in Sam's hands, twitches off aim and he struggles to hold it steady. "Where is he?"

The man sighs. "In the car."

"Car's empty."

"Look, man, don't freak out, alright?"

"Give me a reason."

"The trunk."

Sam pauses and frowns. "What?"

"In the car," the man explains, like Sam is the slow one. "The trunk of the car?"

Sam dares a glance back toward the door. He can't see out it, of course, but he can remember the Impala in his mind clear as anything, sitting in the corner of the lot, black as the night itself, and cold too. And Dean is out there, locked inside like an old toy, worn out and stuffed away in the closet. It isn't right.

He points the gun at the man in front of him. "The closet."

"What about it?"

"Get in it!" It's nearly the thing to break him, just having to explain this and when the criminal doesn't immediately comply, Sam tackles him and shoves him in amidst the wire hangers and laundry bags. A chair is shoved under the knob and without a second thought, Sam takes off.

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The parking lot is just as it was, still and quiet, no one around. Sam's shoes echo his heart, an empty slapping beat as he jogs to the car. It's quick work to pick the lock on the trunk, he'll find the keys later, whenever, it doesn't matter, only getting the thing open does.

The lock clicks and clinks and he takes a breath and pulls up on the trunk lid.

Dean doesn't even look real, Sam thinks. He looks like an injured bird, curled up in the pit of the trunk like it's his nest. His eyes are closed and he doesn't move. Near his limp right hand is an empty, plastic bottle.

Sam grips at the trunk's edge. "Dean?"

One eye pops open. "Sam?"

Something between a laugh and a sigh chokes its way out of Sam's throat. "Are you…did you…did they…."

Dean sits up slowly, uncurling from his possum pose. He looks up at Sam. "Took you long enough."

Sam eyes the empty water bottle. "You didn't…did you…Dean?"

"No way." Dean scoffs. "How stupid do I look?" At Sam's appraising gaze, he addends, "Don't answer that." With what looks to be a practiced sort of roll and hop, Dean is out of the trunk and on his feet.

Sam reaches out to steady him, but Dean brushes him off, glancing around the parking lot with narrowed eyes. "Alright." He frowns. "Where are they?"

"I took care of it," Sam tells him.

Dean's eyes widen in surprise and then he frowns even deeper. "Really took care of them?"

Sam digs out his cell phone. "Just one call I've got to make to the Gallup City PD."

Dean glances between the motel and his brother. "You're sure…they don't need…I don't know, taken care of?"

"I just said I--"

"I know, I know. I mean, can't I just…" He sighs and runs a hand along the Impala's roof. "They took her and drove her, man. I've got to do something about that."

"They took you too, Dean," Sam says, wishing it didn't sound so much like an argument. He shouldn't have to prove to Dean that he matters. He's a whole lot more important than the car.

Dean waves a hand in dismissal. "That's different."

"You're different."

Dean pauses in surprise, before shaking his head and grinning. "Shut up."

Sam shrugs, a smile pulling at his lips as he watches Dean climb into the car.

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The streets are dead empty when they drive by the church. Sam steers toward the curb and stops for a moment.

Dean leans over to peer out the driver's side window. "I think," he says. "I think he's gone."

"Yeah." Sam sighs. "I guess so."

"We're not going to have to pray again, are we?"

Sam pauses, not really having thought of it. He shrugs. "Wouldn't hurt."

"Oh, Lord." Dean sighs dramatically. "It might." Sam watches as Dean heaves another long-suffering sigh and closes his eyes. "Oh, Lord," he says again and then a slow smile begins to creep across his face. "Oh, Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?"

Sam frowns. "Dean?"

"My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends."

"Dean, stop."

"Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends."

"It's not funny."

"So, Lord," he croons. "Won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?"

Sam stares at him. "Are you done?"

Dean smiles. "Yes."

"Great." Sam leans forward to put the car in drive. With one last glance back at the church, eyes searching for what isn't there, he steps on the gas.

Dean is quiet for a while, relaxing as Sam drives, until they reach the highway and Sam merges on with the eastbound traffic. "Where're we heading?"

Sam glances over. "I looked into that Rawhead case you mentioned. It's in South Dakota."

"Like I said." Dean nods. "One of them states in the middle."

"Are you up for it?"

"Sure. Sounds like fun."

"Yeah," Sam agrees sarcastically. "Fun."

"Hey, as long as there aren't any dead bodies involved," Dean says. "Or small, dark spaces. Or preachers. Or any people at all, really. I could use a nice, simple demon right now."

"All right." Sam nods and steps on the gas, feeling the rumble of the car as it accelerates. "I think we can do that."

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