When Things Go Missing
Sam woke up face down on the warm hotel bed. He pushed himself up; he was alone in an unfamiliar room. Sam threw the covers off his legs. He weakly slid from the bed, and with the help of the furniture, held himself up as he made his way to the bathroom. It was an ordinary room, but seeing it rushed back every memory he wished he could suppress. Sam rolled himself along the door frame until he was backed out of the room. Before he could motivate himself to confirm exactly what this case had cost him, he heard a fumble against the main door. With forced and lumbering speed he crossed the room and braced himself against the wall behind the door.
The door pushed open; Dean stepped in with a cold soda and a thrown expression. Sam sighed in relieved exasperation as Dean gawked at the empty bed. The door swung shut, and both men spoke at once, saying each others names.
Startled, Dean turned to locate his brother behind the door.
"You're up," he commented, stunned but pleased.
"Up? Not exactly," Sam corrected with strained vocals. Slowly, he slumped down the wall.
"Woah- hey!" Dean grabbed hold of his brother. "Come on." He pulled Sam from the wall and took on most of his weight as the two awkwardly made their way to the bed.
Sam dropped onto the mattress, his long legs hanging over the side. He propped himself sideways hunched onto one arm. Dean frowned over his brother's decided discomfort.
"Sam, come on--" he urged impatiently. He placed his dewy soda can onto the night stand and reached to force his brother back onto the bed. In the process his left hand cupped the back of Sam's neck. The moment Dean's icy wet palm clapped against Sam's skin, the young hunter yanked away with a distressed shudder.
Dean backed into the night stand as Sam rubbed the chilling reminder off his neck.
"Where were you?" Sam snapped.
"I just went--" Dean stumbled short in his simple explanation… soda can.
"I didn't know what the hell to think with the room empty!"
"I'm sorry. You've been completely out of it, I didn't think--"
"No Dean, you didn't!" Sam knew he was being unfair with his anger, but he was so pissed at what had gone down and his extreme lack of helpless involvement in it all, he didn't care. He shook it off and lied back. "Ahh-shit," he gasped as his lower back pressed to the bunched up sheets.
"Sammy…" Dean wiped his left hand on his jeans. He pulled the sheet out from under his brother and before Sam could object, lifted and shifted him until he was fully on the bed. As Dean reached over him for the blanket, Sam's hand shot up to deny it. The two made eye contact and Dean backed off.
Dean traced his finger slowly along the top ridge of his soda and glanced up when he felt Sam had finally calmed down.
"So what do you remember?" He asked in his hunter's face. Sam evaluated, realized that this was the point where his older brother would follow protocol, would do a full assessment and make note in his mental log of the damage, both physical and mental, his kid brother had undergone.
Sam stared at the wall paneling; he stared for a long time.
"Mostly when I was awake, I was on the phone with you." The paneling was a deep dark brown with streaks of black at the edges. "After he took the phone away that last time he--" The edges of the paneling slurred together leaving no division, only wall. "He a-- he--"
As Sam struggled to find words, Dean struggled to piece together the scattered emotions on his brother's face; he had no idea what image they would form if properly fit together. He never would.
"The guy choked me out," Sam manufactured. "He choked me till I blacked out." Sam looked up knowing his brother would never buy it, but also knowing his brother would be smart enough to leave it alone.
Dean eyed Sam's neck; it was one of the few places on his upper body left unmarked.
"Okay…" Dean stated, being smart. "So he choked you out and then…"
"And then you woke me up in the tub."
Dean shifted disapprovingly: Sam was quick to edit out the large hunk of time he clearly didn't want to talk about. Dean should have known his brother would never be so kind as to skip over the short hunk of time he, Dean, didn't want to talk about.
Dean had been undeniably relieved by Sam's quickness to pass out in the tub, and was hoping to full on avoid revisiting the results of his findings. But now, it was obvious he would have to ante up, to throw all his grisly information into the pot for Sam to win, because Sam had played his hand right. Sam had bluffed when he wanted to conceal and checked when he knew he could force his brother to show. It was time for Dean to show.
"The thing stuck in my back-- what was it?" Sam pressed.
Dean lost his hunter face, his poker face.
"It was nothing… it…"
"What- was in- my back?" Sam insisted.
"An electronic room key."
"To w-hat room?" Sam's voice broke; Dean reset his poker face.
"I don't know. I couldn't move you. I think the bastard just knew we'd need it, sort of an in our face that we'd be stuck here."
"Stuck--? Dean, what happened? Didn't you kill him?"
"Sam, calm down."
"He got away," Dean broke.
Sam stared in disbelief, huffing out short bursts of air that bordered on the verge of hyperventilating. He was destroyed by this guy- this thing. He was surmising now that their original hunch had been correct, it was a demi-god; anything else his brother would have kicked to hell and back. That being true, he'd known from the start victory would prove difficult, but that was before he'd become the victim.
"How--? How could you--?" Sam shook his head and clamped up. Unfair again. He knew no matter how much their horrendously botched case was wrecking him, it had to be destroying his brother ten fold. So that's exactly what he did… fold.
"Okay," Sam said quietly. He sucked it in and nodded tersely. Dean's eyes widened.
"Okay?" He blurted in disbelief. Sam gave his brother a brief what the fuck look, then sternly repeated himself.
"Okay." This time Dean got it. It was a gift, and he'd better hurry up and accept it.
"Okay." Dean nodded, then braced himself for the big follow up question: Did he do it? Did the guy take it? The question never came. Dean could only assume his brother was again being merciful. What he could never assume was that having stayed awake through it all, his brother already had the answer. Ignorant of Sam's secret, Dean broke the silence.
"No," Sam returned miserably. Dean picked the can up off the night table.
"Soda?" He queried with a smile. Sam lightened up at his brother's attempt.
"Maybe…" he wavered. "Maybe…?" He searched. "Think they got Gatoraid in the vending machine? Uh… room temperature Gatoraid?" He amended. Dean concealed a different kind of smile.
"Actually, I think you might be in luck," he stated confidently.
"Really." Sam knew his brother would go wherever it took.
"Really. Just a…" Dean headed toward the door. "Try not to jump me on my way back in the room."
"No promises," Sam returned, his mood picking up. Dean pulled open the door, then stopped short.
"Oh- what flavor?"
"Uh… orange. If they don't have that--"
"They'll have it." Dean cut him off; Sam shook his head at his brother's persistence to please. Dean stepped into the hall and pulled the door shut behind him. "They'll have it," he whispered irritably to himself.
Dean walked a few feet down the hall, stopped at the next door, and pulled room key 912 from his back pocket. He slid it into the lock, waited for the electronic click to sound, then pushed his way into the room. He walked straight to the back wall and grabbed what he needed. As he turned back toward the door he finally realized with full annoyance what the three objects in the center of the room were for. He gritted his teeth and reluctantly plunked down in the fabric fitted lounge chair, placed what he was holding on the table next to it, and noted the time on the mechanical, bell-style alarm clock which was perched, dead center on the table. He sighed heavily and sunk back into the cushions of the chair; he did not relax. As he sat there fidgeting, urging time to move faster, he recalled the first time he had entered the room.
The key was still wet; he turned it over in his hand. Knowing he had been left only one path- he took it. He cracked the door to room 912 a fraction and peered inside. The lighting was dim and seemingly from no source. He moved inside. It was just a hotel room, shaped exactly like the one he'd left Sam in, except every hotel-like content had been removed. There wasn't even a bathroom or windows, just walls, heavy carpeting, and eight strategically placed objects.
Five separately standing shelving units lined the back wall, each five feet in height with only one usable shelf at chest level. Dean ignored the three objects, the waiting area, in the center of the room and walked straight back to the first shelf. It was the only shelf with anything on it and as he picked through the items, anger boiled up his throat: dry clothes, bandages, a suture kit, antiseptic, and finally, another room key. Dean picked up the second key: Room 911.
"Fuck," he spat under his breath. He clinched the key in his fist. Looking up, his eyes widened, he stepped back and scanned all of the shelves. "Sonovabitch!!" Each shelf was individually labeled in large bold print:
Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5.
The kicker was that he was dealing with a demigod, the fucker didn't need multiple shelves, he could have one shelf and fill it at need, for the next five days, for the next five weeks. The key, the shelves, the supplies, this wasn't tripped out room service, it was a leash.
Dean punched the DAY 2 shelf. "Fine," he agreed furiously. "FINE!" He shouted loud enough for the demigod to hear. He snatched up all the things from DAY 1. As he paused briefly to rub his now swelling knuckles, he noticed a new item sitting on the shelf: an icepack. Dean grabbed the pack with his hurt hand and pitched it across the room. "Shit." He despised what these guys considered to be a sense of humor.
Dean snapped back to the present. He pushed himself forward in the chair and checked the clock. Enough time had passed to make a quick trip to the local convenience store believable. Before he could finalize the decision himself, a grating alarm rang forth from the small clock as it obediently informed him: time to go.
Dean smacked the clock silent. It toppled onto its back and lolled around like a capsized beetle. Just when it thought it was safe, Dean stood and swatted it clear across the room. It smashed into the wall and landed in a small, heaping grave of objects he had been angrily disposing of over the past two days.
Dean grabbed the other item off the table: the orange, room temperature Gatoraid. He shook his head at the mere fact that it existed, that he was continuing with this guy's game, that he was actually going to hand this drink to his brother. Shit. He hated playing it safe, but it wasn't his safety he was playing with, so he played. Dean stared at the Gatoraid and tried to focus on why he was here. The reason he had walked into this room, and would continue to walk into this room, was so that his kid brother would walk out of the room next door. But still, he wanted this guy dead, that was undeniable. Without looking over, Dean suddenly sensed that something new had appeared on the shelf. He wanted to ignore it, but curiosity got him and he returned to the back of the room.
Sitting before him as if under isolated spot light was a wooden stake, and a slip of paper with an address on it. Dean put down the Gatoraid and picked up the paper. He stared at it without really reading it, knowing exactly what the location would hold for him. Without hesitation, he pulled a lighter from his pocket and set the paper on fire. He dropped it back onto the shelf, picked up the Gatoraid, and decisively walked away. Letting the door swing shut behind him, he exited the room.
Dean Winchester had made his choice, and it was the same as always: he chose Sam.
The End =)
Hope you liked it! If you did, please let me know, I always love to hear from you guys.
Just a reminder- next week, June 30th, I'll start posting the final chapters for Energies and Ice Cream.
Hope to see you there!