Away from the Sun
Disclaimer: I don't own the boys or any of the related characters – I just like to take them out and play with them now and then.
A/N: Is it October yet? I am so ready for a new season of Supernatural! No? It's not, huh. Bummer! Well, while we wait, how about a little fanfiction?
This story is a journey through Dean's mind. Set a few months after John's death, it takes a tour through Dean's past, present and fantasy; to a place where they all collide. There's no job. The only demon to battle is the one inside of Dean.
Reviews are welcome….and craved. I admit it, I'm weak!
not supposed to be scared of anything, but I don't know where I am
I wish that I could move but I'm exhausted and nobody understands how I feel
I'm trying hard to breathe now but there's no air in my lungs
There's no one here to talk to and the pain inside is making me numb
Changes, 3 Door Down
Yesterday had been a bad day. Not that the several days leading up to it had been all that great, but the day before was definitely the worst of the bunch. Exhausted and more than a little bruised, Sam and Dean Winchester had fallen into bed a few hours before dawn.
Sam didn't feel any more rested when his eyes opened as when they'd closed. He looked toward the bed next to his, expecting to see his brother asleep on his stomach with one hand under his pillow, but the bed was empty. He turned his eyes to the bathroom door, but it was wide open.
"Dean?" Sam sat up, wincing at the tightness in his muscles.
It wasn't completely unlike his older brother to wake up first and be out of the motel early. Sometimes he'd go for a jog, but other times Sam had no idea where Dean would go. Dean loved his car and his music; Sam suspected there were times he just went out to enjoy them on his own.
He hadn't expected to wake up alone in the room this morning, though. After being with Bobby Singer for almost a week following a decidedly non-paranormal car accident that almost ended his life, they'd been out late the night before taking care of a particularly nasty zombie case that had come up suddenly. Between the fighting and having to rebury the thing, Dean had been as worn out as Sam when they finally made it to a motel.
Sam looked at the bedside clock and saw it was just before noon. He padded to the bathroom, then walked to the window in the bedroom when he was finished. His vague sense of unease went up a notch when he saw the Impala parked where they'd left it only a few hours before. Refusing to panic when there was probably no need, Sam decided to take a shower. He told himself that Dean would be in the room when he was finished, probably with coffee and breakfast for both of them.
No such luck.
Sam took his phone from the charger and dialed his brother's number. He heard the muffled ring of Dean's phone and found it in his duffel bag. Sam also found Dean's jogging shoes in the bottom of the bag.
He had no way of knowing how long Dean had been gone, but it seemed like too long to Sam. He'd forced himself to shower slowly, taking the time to let the warm water help soothe his sore muscles. He'd shaved, brushed his teeth and used the motel hair dryer on his usually unruly hair. Dean clearly wasn't jogging and he wasn't out for a drive. Even for Dean, it was too early to be in a bar. Most disturbing to Sam was that Dean had left his phone. He never went anywhere without it. Ever.
Sam grabbed a key from the desk and left the room. He stood at the edge of the parking lot and looked around. The motel was on the outskirts of a small town and there wasn't much else to be seen. There was a gas station with a convenience store and garage in one direction and a diner in the other.
The diner looked the same as any other from the outside. As Sam got closer, he noticed that the street took a curve just beyond it and there were many more shops and offices open for business. It was just after 1:00 and judging by the dishes at the empty tables, there had been a lunch rush. Sam sat at the counter and ordered a cup of coffee from a pleasant looking woman who was probably in her late 50's. Sam noticed the name on her tag was Clarice.
"Anything besides coffee?" she smiled at Sam as she poured from what smelled like a freshly brewed pot.
"I – uh – I'm staying at the motel down the street with my brother. We're just passing through. I wonder if you might have seen him today."
"We get a lot of people in and out, but mostly regulars. There was a family from out of town…." She paused looking thoughtful. "I don't remember anyone else. Lemme check with Julie, though. I'll be right back."
Sam nodded hopefully as the woman disappeared into the kitchen. He took a sip of the coffee and looked around. The inside was no more remarkable than the outside. Other than the counter seating, the place held primarily booths. The walls were painted a stark white and decorated with old license plates from all over the country. There were also large posters of American muscle cars that Sam knew Dean would appreciate.
A few minutes later the waitress returned with a younger version of herself.
"This is Julie; she waited on a non-regular this morning. Could have been your brother."
Sam looked at her expectantly. "You did? What did he look like?"
Julie described Dean down to the leather jacket and boots.
"Do you remember what time he was here?" Sam asked.
"Not exactly, but it was before lunch. He sat at the counter." Julie nodded toward the stool at the end. "He was quiet. He had a couple cups of coffee, but only finished half the pancakes he ordered."
That didn't sound at all like Dean. Julie was young and pretty; definitely someone Dean would have noticed. And only eating part of a meal was a totally foreign concept for him. Sam wasn't sure which was more important to his brother; a pretty girl or a full plate of food.
"Did you happen to see what direction he went when he left?"
Julie shook her head. "Sorry."
"Thanks," Sam said, trying not to sound as nervous as he felt.
"Can I get you something to eat?" Clarice asked Sam as Julie walked away to begin clearing off the tables.
"No, thanks. I'll just pay for the coffee."
"Don't worry about it. It's not a big town, sweetie, your brother can't get into much trouble here."
Sam hoped she was right. Trouble had a tendency of finding the Winchesters whether they were looking for it or not.
After a few more sips of the coffee, Sam left the diner and headed around the corner to what passed for the business district. It was only about five blocks long and Sam saw a few storefront offices: a dentist, a lawyer, CPA and a real estate agent. He also saw some boutique stores and the sheriff's office at the end of the street. Beyond that was nothing but trees.
Sam didn't think he'd find his brother shopping, but he moved along the sidewalk, keeping an eye out anyway. He passed a couple clothes shops, an antique store and the biggest hardware store than he'd ever seen. He thought that might be a possibility, but then his eye caught an auto parts store. Sam decided to try there first.
It was another dead end. The man behind the counter had opened the store at 9:00 and hadn't seen anyone he didn't know all day. Sam made his way to the hardware store, but got the same answer from all of the employees he spoke with.
He looked up and down the street again and briefly considered going to the sheriff's office, but bringing Dean to the attention of law enforcement wasn't a good idea. They'd been taught from an early age to avoid the police, but now that the FBI had their scent, avoiding authorities was even more important.
Sam went back to the motel, but the room was exactly how he'd left it. He went to the office to ask the clerk if he'd seen Dean that morning, but got another disappointing answer.
Back in the room, Sam checked the phone book for hospitals and clinics in the area. He wasn't surprised to find the nearest hospital was in a town almost 30 miles away and there was only one local doctor. He didn't think it would do any good, but he called the doctor's office anyway. The receptionist assured him that no non-patients had come in, but she took his number and promised to call if someone matching Dean's description did show up.
Sam thought about the sheriff again. If Dean had somehow gotten in trouble, he would have been given a phone call and that call would have been to Sam. There was no reason to believe Dean would have been arrested and Sam decided against taking that particular step quite yet.
He stood at the window, looking outside and trying to figure out a next move. What if a demon had gotten control of him? Dean could be anywhere. And it wasn't exactly without precedent; Sam had been possessed by the demon they'd known as Meg. He'd been gone an entire week and had done horrible things before calling Dean….
But Bobby had given them something for protection against demon possession, Sam reminded himself. Whatever had happened to his brother, it had nothing to do with a demon.
Restless and with no other ideas, Sam left the room. He took another walk through town, stopping again at the diner to speak with Julie. He asked her different questions, but she hadn't magically discovered Dean's whereabouts. Sam left his phone number with the sympathetic waitress, but he didn't expect Dean to go back to the diner.
He walked through town, but didn't bother going into any of the other places he'd been before. He widened his search to include some of the side streets, but there wasn't much to be seen on any of them. He spoke to a few random people who were out, but none of them had seen his brother.
Worry coursed through Sam as he turned back in the direction of the motel. In the room again, Sam paced anxiously, listening to Bobby's phone ring. He was about to give up, when he heard Bobby's gruff voice on the other end.
"Hey, Bobby, it's Sam. How ya doin'?"
"I'm okay. You two get that zombie?"
"Yeah, it's taken care of," Sam said, still pacing. "You haven't heard from Dean, have you?"
"No. Should I have?"
"I…" Sam ran his free hand through his hair. "I woke up and he was gone. I've been all over town and a waitress at the diner saw him, but that's it. He left his phone in the room; his car is in the parking lot."
"How long has he been gone?"
"I don't know exactly; three, maybe four hours. All his stuff is here, Bobby."
"Now hold on, Sam. I'm sure there's a logical explanation. Did you ask the waitress how he seemed or –"
"She said he was quiet. He had two cups of coffee and half the breakfast he ordered."
"Dean left food on his plate?" Bobby sounded surprised. "How did it go last night? Did he get hurt or…?"
"No. I mean, the zombie was pretty nasty and we both got hit a few times, but he was fine."
Sam could feel his composure, what little of it he had, slipping away. Dean had never disappeared like this before and he had no idea what to do. He knew he shouldn't have bothered Bobby. The man was still recovering from a near-fatal car accident and didn't need anything else to worry about, but he always seemed to know how to handle impossible situations.
"Are there any hospitals or clinics where you are?"
"There's just a doctor's office. I called; nothing."
Sam heard a long sigh on the other end of the phone.
"What if something happened and he had to go into hiding for some reason? Which one of those complicated schemes you two have would he have followed?"
Sam chewed on his thumb for a few moments as he thought about it. "I'm not sure, but that's a good thought. I guess he could have gone out for food and….it just seems weird he would leave without his phone and….Lemme see what I can figure out."
"Call me in an hour; one way or another. You hear me?"
"I shouldn't have called you to begin with. You're supposed to be recovering."
"Goin' stir-crazy is more like it. Call me in an hour," Bobby said firmly.
"I will," Sam promised. "Thanks, Bobby."
Over the years, the brothers had developed scenarios for finding each other if they got separated. Some had actually started with their father, but they'd taken those and expanded them, adding more as ideas came to them. Some reasons for separation were incredibly specific and not likely to ever happen, while others were vague and left open to several situations.
As he considered his options, Sam paced in front of the window. His attention was drawn outside when he heard what sounded like a large vehicle going by on the street. He looked outside to see a Greyhound bus. It surprised him that a town so small would have a bus station, but the bus had gotten off the main highway for a reason.
Sam went to the motel office and asked about the station. The clerk told him that a bus came through a couple times a week and stopped outside the town's museum. The woman that ran the small museum kept the schedule and sold the tickets. After getting directions, Sam got into the Impala and drove to the museum.
It was a small building near the elementary and high schools, about five miles away from the business district where Sam had been looking. The bus was parked in the street adjacent to the tiny parking lot that serviced the museum. There were only a few people milling around and after making sure none of them was his brother, Sam went inside.
"Can I help you?" an elderly woman sitting behind a desk asked him.
"I was wondering about the bus. Has one already left today?"
"Well, yes. One left at noon, headed north. This one will be leaving in a few minutes, headed south. Are you looking to go somewhere?"
"No, ma'am. I'm looking for my brother. Maybe you sold him a ticket this morning?"
Sam couldn't think of one reason why Dean would buy a bus ticket and leave town, but he was running out of ideas.
"I only sold two tickets this morning. One to a local girl headed off to her grandma's house and the other to my own nephew. I'm sorry."
Sam nodded and glanced around. Knowing it was probably useless, Sam left his number with her. Like the others, she promised to get in touch if someone matching Dean's description came by. He got back into the car and headed toward the motel. On a whim, he drove to the sheriff's office instead, working on a cover story that would seem plausible and not cause any suspicion.
Sam found out that the sheriff was on a fishing trip and the chief deputy had been left in charge. Tad Johnson looked to be in his 30's and had probably been born and raised in town. He offered Sam a cup of coffee and a chair in front of his desk. Sam sat down, but declined the coffee.
"My brother and I got into town early this morning and got a room at the motel. We're on a road trip; just passing through. Thing is, I'm not sure where he is now. I know he was at the diner before lunch time, but no one seems to have seen him after that. He, uh, he doesn't usually wander off or anything, but…."
The deputy nodded sympathetically. "Well, he's not here and I haven't gotten any calls. I don't know what to tell you. He has to be missing for 48 hours before I can take an official missing persons report."
"Thanks. Will you at least keep an eye out?"
"Of course. I can do a little digging if you want."
"No," Sam hoped he didn't sound too emphatic. "Thanks. I, uh, I don't want you to go out of your way. He probably just wandered off to cool down."
"You two get into a fight or something? Looks like you might have taken a few punches."
"Yeah, a fight." Sam decided that was a likely enough explanation for the bruises and for Dean being gone.
"He'll probably be back soon, then. I'll give you a call if anything shows up here."
"Thanks," Sam stood up and shook the man's outstretched hand.
Outside, he leaned against the Impala and looked around. "Where'd you go, Dean? What happened to you?"
By early evening, Sam was completely panicked. He'd worked his way through several of the scenarios he and Dean had set up in case they got separated, but nothing panned out. He'd also wandered around town talking to everyone who gave him the chance. He'd called Ellen at the Roadhouse and spoken to Bobby several times. He was out of ideas. It was as if Dean had simply vanished off the face of the planet.
Sam had no choice but to expand his search radius. It made no sense that something had forced Dean to leave town while Sam slept in their room, but Sam couldn't ignore the fact that his brother was nowhere to be found. He hadn't been seen since having breakfast in the diner. A breakfast, Sam reminded himself, that Dean didn't finish in a diner he went to without his cell phone.
Sam forced down a sandwich and coffee at the same diner, trying to figure out his next move. He worked his way through several more of their separation plans and mapped out a direction.
It felt strange being in the car without Dean. Sam rarely drove the Impala, but almost every time he did, Dean was sleeping by his side. Sam turned on the radio, intent on finding a station that played the music he enjoyed, but stopped twisting the dial when he hit a classic rock station.
The thirty-mile trip seemed to take forever, but when he finally reached the next town, Sam followed the trails his brother would have left if he'd gone off on his own accord. He also checked the hospital and used the same story at this police station as he'd used earlier in the other town.
Over three hours later, Sam was exhausted and had no idea where to turn next. He called Bobby and Ellen again, but neither one had heard from Dean. Both had put a call out to people they trusted, but so far none of them had any leads.
For three days, Sam looked everywhere for signs of his brother. He barely took time out for sleep or for a meal; he talked to everyone he could think of and looked in even the most unlikely of places. He even tried a few supernatural rituals, but it was as if Dean had never existed.
"Hey there," the waitress hoped she wasn't smiling too broadly.
He sat down at the counter, a timid smile on his face. "Hi. Can I have some coffee, please?"
"Sure," she turned away to get the fresh pot. Still afraid she was appearing too eager, she forced a more neutral expression onto her face before facing him again.
This was the third time he'd been into the restaurant this week and Mindy wasn't sure if he was really just coming for the food or if he was attracted to her. He'd smiled at her and seemed to flirt, but when she returned the gesture, he'd freeze up. Not in a mean way, but more like he was overcome with shyness. Mindy couldn't believe someone so handsome would be shy, but sometimes it was hard to tell about people.
"Are you hungry? The pot roast is on special tonight. It's pretty good."
"Sure, yeah, that sounds great."
"Coming right up," Mindy smiled at him and walked into the kitchen. A half wall separated it from the main dining area and as she dished out the food, Mindy watched her customer.
It wasn't time for the dinner rush and other than old Jacob in his usual corner booth, the place was deserted. The owner, who also doubled as one of the cooks, had gone to make a bank deposit and the rest of the evening staff hadn't come in yet. Mindy knew she would have no better opportunity with the good-looking stranger than now.
She put a little extra food on the plate and headed out of the kitchen.
"Thanks," he smiled at her as she set the plate in front of him. "It smells great."
Mindy returned the smile. "Would you like something else to drink? A soft drink or a beer, maybe?"
"Uh, yeah, a beer. Thanks."
When she came back with the bottle of beer, Mindy leaned forward on the counter. "So, are you new in town?"
"Yeah," he answered stirring the gravy and mashed potatoes on his plate.
Mindy noticed the he was very diligently not looking at her. She glanced toward Jake to make sure he didn't need anything, then turned her attention back to the man in front of her. His worn leather jacket reminded Mindy of something the lead character in some motorcycle movie might wear. She'd noticed the silver ring he wore on his right hand the first time she saw him, as well as the unusual pendant hanging on a rope around his neck. His big hazel eyes looked empty and his handsome features were tainted with bruises from what looked like a fairly recent fight.
"Are you living here or passing through?" she was beginning to get the feeling that he might need help.
"I….I'm not sure yet."
"Oh, well….so, what do you do? For a living, I mean."
He looked at her, but she wasn't sure how to read his expression. He didn't seem to be annoyed, but he looked less than comfortable.
"Let me go check on Jake," Mindy said, making the quick decision that she was being too forward. He looked like he was about to bolt and instinct was telling her not to let that happen.
Mindy made sure her other customer was happy, then she found a few other things to take care of before going back to the counter. She saw that he was staring intently at the plate and that he hadn't eaten anything.
"Is there something wrong with the pot roast?"
He looked up, seemingly surprised. "No, it's fine. I guess I'm not as hungry as I thought I was. Sorry."
"No worries. Can I get you something else instead? Or maybe wrap that up for you to take with you?"
He looked at the plate, then back to Mindy. She thought he seemed confused.
"If you're staying at the motel down the street, you can put it in the refrigerator and eat it later," she suggested.
The stranger shook his head. "No, thanks. I need to go. What do I owe you?"
Mindy shook her head. She couldn't help but be a little worried about him. "No charge."
He nodded before quickly heading for the door. Mindy hesitated for a moment before following. She stood on the sidewalk and watched him and he practically ran down the sidewalk. She didn't notice the man across the street; he was also watching her customers escape.
"What was that about?" Jake asked when she walked back in.
"I don't know. He looked scared." She went behind the counter for the pot of coffee.
"Decaf?" Jake asked her as she reached for his cup a moment later.
"Yeah," she glanced distractedly toward the door.
"You know that boy?"
Mindy shook her head. "No. He started coming in a few days ago. I think he's lost."
"What do you mean?"
"He just seems lost,' Mindy shrugged.
Jake looked at her. "You're sweet on him."
Mindy studied the old man. She had no idea what his actual age was; it seemed like he'd been old her entire life. But his mind was as fresh as anyone. He'd been a judge until he retired longer ago than Mindy could remember and he still often gave lectures at the local community college.
"I'm old, but I'm not dead," he continued without prompting. "I saw the way you looked at him. He's a good-looking boy."
"Yes, sir, he is. But there's something going on with him."
"Yep. Might not be safe to get involved with him. For all you know, he's on the run from the law."
Mindy glanced at the door again as she heard it open and close. A family of four had come in and taken a booth.
"I don't think so, Jake," she said quietly. "I gotta take care of the new customers. You need anything else?"
"No, thanks, sweetheart."
She smiled at him and walked across the room.
He sat on the edge of the bed, head down and hands clasped. Something felt wrong; something felt very wrong. He thought about the pretty waitress at the restaurant. Her questions had been innocent, but he didn't have the answers. He didn't know if he lived in this town or was just passing through. He had no idea what he did for money. If he thought about it long enough, he'd realize that he didn't really know his name and he couldn't remember much past a few hours ago.
Before he could get that far, he stood up and began to pace. It felt like the walls were closing in on him and he was having a hard time breathing. He slipped out of the leather coat and tossed it onto the bed. He wanted help. He needed someone to talk to him, but he had no idea where to go or who to call. There should be someone….shouldn't there?
Mindy finished her shift and got her purse out of her locker in the back room. She didn't think about it for very long before she took out her cell phone and dialed a number.
"Mountainview Lodge." She heard the familiar voice answer.
"Hey, Deborah, it's your favorite sister."
"You need a favor." The voice wasn't accusatory.
"Can you tell me if you have a guy staying there….short hair, light brown. He's maybe six feet tall; wears a leather coat?"
"Yeah, he checked in a few days ago. Why?"
"He's come into the diner a few times."
"I'm not helping you pick up a strange guy, Mindy."
"I'm not trying to pick him up," she protested. "Exactly. You get a read on him?"
"He's quiet. I haven't seen much of him since he checked in. I don't think he's let the maids in to do any housekeeping since he's been here, but I'm not sure about that. What's going on, little sister?"
"I don't know. I mean, at first I was flirting with him, but…."
"I think he might be in trouble."
"That's more reason to stay away from him, not find out where he's staying. Let it go, kid."
"Yeah." Mindy wasn't so sure she could do that.