A/N: Disclaimer - Supernatural and its characters are a copyright of Eric Kripke and Warner Bros. And my own personal note, I recently read Tom DeHaven's "It's Superman" and I was fascinated with his writing style, so I decided to challenge myself and give it a try. For this reason, I have to admit I'm nervous about posting. It's definitely been challenging writing in such an unfamiliar style, so I hope it works. Expect some minor language throughout chapters. I'm not one for cursing myself, but when you back a Winchester in a corner, he's going to open his mouth. Don't worry, no f-bombs will EVER be dropped!
Special thanks to my bestest friend in the whole wide world, Jessica, for the beta and the encouragement.
Summary: Great. His brother would never let him live this one down, getting himself kidnapped, by humans nonetheless, not even a year after he's been back in action. Great. Fan-freaking-tastic.
Dean knocks once before kicking the door in.
Foz is already on his feet next to the ratty sofa. He's bleary eyed, greasy brown curls askew, and there's a mark on his face from his ear to the cleft of his chin. So he'd been asleep. Good.
Dean is across the room in just a few strides and Foz is off his feet in under a minute, Dean's fists clenching tight at the collar of his stained Hawaiian shirt. The impact of head and body slamming against the far wall is hard, but calculated enough to only be a little painful; Dean pulls back before it can do any damage. It makes the impression Dean's going for and now Foz has gotten a good look at his visitor. The terrified expression on the mousy little man's face is a sure sign of that.
Behind him, Dean hears footsteps. He doesn't look away from his quarry, just pins him with steel eyes and grip and lets him sweat. The footsteps cross the threshold of the shattered door and take position behind him. He doesn't worry about to whom they belong. They're familiar and it's comforting knowing there's someone at his back, but he scowls when he remembers that those footsteps don't belong to the right person.
Foz sees the scowl and winces. Jim's hand on Dean's shoulder is well timed, the classic hold-me-back tactic. It's not restraining in the least, purely for show, but it's enough for Foz to get the picture that there's very little standing between his grubby little self and a very painful situation.
That thought makes Dean smile, and when Dean smiles, his quarry pales. "Foz," Dean tilts his head in way of greeting.
"Dean!" Foz chokes. Foz hasn't changed much since the last time Dean's seen him, and Dean recognizes the used car-salesmen smile. "Dean-o, my buddy! My man! How's it…?"
Foz's attempt at pleasantries are interrupted by the force of his dangling body being yanked away from the wall and smacked right back into it. This time the hand on Dean's shoulder is just a bit restraining.
"Easy." Jim's voice is pitched low, placating, but it carries authority nonetheless.
Regrettably, Dean's too angry for easy. He bears his teeth and the smile melts from Foz's face. "Where's Vallis?" Dean demands.
"Vallis?" Foz tries for nonchalance, but it's a pathetic display, especially with that obvious quiver in his voice. "Vallis? Why you lookin' for 'V?"
Dean's slitted eyes are hard, angry, and Foz can't seem to hold his gaze. Dean doesn't blame him. Intimidation isn't a problem at the moment; he's so tense he can practically feel the cords standing out on his face and neck and he's so furious that his head feels swollen and thick.
"That's my business, don't you think?" Dean suggests lightly, relaxing his grip just a little. He doesn't want Foz to have a heart attack before he has the chance to answer his questions. Or wet his pants for that matter. Judging by the little weasel's color, Dean wouldn't put it past him. "Now come on Foz, where's your boss?"
Foz takes advantage of the slack in Dean's grip, pulling himself together enough to flash him an amiable smirk that is it's no big deal and this is all a big misunderstanding and you're nuts all rolled into one. "Boss? Where you been Winchester? 'V ain't been my boss since you sent him to the box."
"Box?" Dean snorts disdainfully. "I'm not in the mood for your cute little gang lingo, Foz. Where is he?"
"I got outta that business…"
Goddamn but he's annoying, and Dean has a lot of pent-up frustration to vent. He slams Foz against the wall yet again, this time hard enough to rattle his teeth, and shifts his voice from annoyed to dangerous-and-annoyed. "Don't mess with me Foz! Where's Vallis?"
Foz is close to panicking now, throwing his hands up and whimpering. "Really, really, Winchester! I don't know! Really!"
"I think he's telling the truth, Dean." Jim's voice is smooth, knowing. It brings Dean back to reality. He knows it was meant to.
"Fine," he growls, turning back to Foz, "Then where can I find someone who does know?"
Foz nods, eager to be helpful now that he thinks there's a chance Dean won't kill him after the interrogation. "Maggi. Maggi Delatour. Maggi'd know. Rumor has it she waited for him. Went to see him every day inside, ya know?"
Dean considers this. It's possible; he remembers Maggi.
Of course, there's also the possibility that the little prick is lying. After all, Foz is as good as dead if Vallis finds out he opened his mouth. He could be lying, but Dean really doesn't think so. He doesn't think Foz has the spine to lie to his face right now.
"And where do I find Maggi?"
"Last I knew she had an apartment. Downtown - Fifth and Polk. Top floor."
Foz shrugs his shoulders and darts a nervous glance around the room. "I don't remember no number."
Dean doesn't think, he just drops Foz, keeping his left hand fisted in his shirt and throws a punch with his right that smashes into the wall inches from Foz's face. The weak plaster crumbles, leaving a softball-size hole. "Number?"
"Holy crap, Winchester! Room 415!"
"You lyin' to me?"
"No! Room 415, I swear!"
It's all the information he needs and now that he's got it, Foz is no longer important. Dean drops him, the little toad, and turns to leave.
From out in the hall he can hear his partner curtly apologize for the mess.
Dean blocks it out, breathes through his anger, fighting to control it, to calm himself down. Everything is surreal, out of his control, standing there in the middle of a filthy hallway in an even filthier New Orleans apartment complex where no one has even bothered to come to their doors to see what all the commotion is about. Dean would be surprised if anybody even called the police.
"Relax, Dean." It isn't an order, like it would have been had it have been coming from his father, but Jim is chiding him in his own proper, genteel sort of way. Unlike John Winchester, Pastor Jim Murphy had accepted the fact that Dean is a grown man, as capable and as dangerous as any hunter. He won't take control and bark orders at him, but as the more experienced and…less attached…of the two, Jim isn't going to let Dean lose his focus.
Dean's head is pounding and his neck is so taut that it burns, but he manages a nod.
Pacified, Jim makes for the elevator. "Let's get to the car."
They don't speak on the way down, or on their way through the tiny parking lot, but Jim finally decides there's been enough silence when he's seated across from Dean in the Impala. "Was that really necessary?" he asks, the barest hint of amusement in his voice.
Dean deflates, but can't bring himself to smile. "Completely. Foz is a weasel; he'd sell his own mother if the price was right, and lie to me if he thought it'd save his ass."
"And you don't think he lied?"
"I think he's too scared I'll kick his ass if I catch him lying."
"Now I wonder why he'd think that."
That brings a smile to Dean's face, but just as quickly as it surfaces, he pulls it back. It feels too twisted and too out of place and too wrong to be smiling while…
"You gonna be all right?" Can you keep it together? Jim doesn't mince words, but there's concern lacing his tone. He knows Dean, has known both of them since Sam was in diapers, and he knows Dean's defenses are the only things that are keeping him upright.
Dean doesn't answer. He works at breathing.
He'll have to deal with his fears eventually, and for one vital purpose. If Sam is…
He hits the steering wheel, open palmed, and pushes against that thought with a ferocity he's convinced even his dad would appreciate.
Jim doesn't say a word, just waits for the younger man to vent his frustration as Dean shifts restlessly in his seat and tries again.
He has to deal with it. If Sam is…
If Sam is dea…
Damn it! This time it's the dashboard with both hands and Dean doesn't feel a thing.
He can't even think it. He won't allow himself to think it. Not the who, or the how or the why - none of it.
When the moment of fury passes, Dean glances up at his old friend. He knows Jim won't press, but he also knows the old man isn't about to let it slide. So he waits for Dean to come around on his own. It only takes a moment.
Dean forces his trademark smirk. "You counsel any head-cases like me back home, Pastor?"
"Several, actually," Jim retorts, his eyes going distant for moment. Pensive. Then he rubs his hand over his face. "You remind me of your daddy sometimes, you know that? Answering the question without answering the question at all."
Dean snorts. Dad. He doesn't even want to go there.
What he wants is to find his brother.
Dean starts the car. The purr of the engine isn't comforting.
Instinct keeps his eyes shut, not wanting to alert his captors that he's awake before he can assess his situation and figure out just what had happened.
He remembers researching their latest hunt – a haunting in St. Tammany Parish? – in their motel room when he decided to get a soda. Dean had gone, taken the car, leaving the parking lot deserted. No – not deserted. An SUV had been parked near the Lobby. He'd barely taken notice of it as he stood in front of the soda machine, quarters in hand.
Then something charged up behind him.
He remembers only half turning before something hard slammed into him and pain exploded at his temple. There was a flash of red and the metallic clatter of whatever it was that had just pummeled him rolling on the ground a few feet away – fire extinguisher? Something hit him with a fire extinguisher? – and Sam hit the pavement.
Hands were on him then; he couldn't tell how many. His arms were tugged behind his back, his wrists crossed. Then the hands left and a foot lashed out in a kick that rolled him over.
They had been talking. What had they said?
Sam forces himself to focus, struggling to pull clarity from his confused and jumbled thoughts.
He remembers his cheek against the pavement, something warm trickling into his eye, and then a voice, gruff and serious and aged and…human? "I thought there were two of 'em."
"There's 'sposed to be." Another voice, younger, the hint of panic unmistakable. Also human. Then a string of curses, followed by, "…he's not here."
"Go check the room."
Legs scampering away, distant and blurred through the ache in his skull. Then, "…boss is gonna be pissed."
"We got one of 'em. Let's get outta here."
It was the last thing he remembered before blacking out completely.
Great. His brother would never let him live this one down, getting himself kidnapped, by humans nonetheless, not even a year after he's been back in action. Great. Fan-freaking-tastic.
Finally opening his eyes to slits, Sam peers up furtively, forcing himself to take stock. No broken bones, legs free, hands tied and – huh – no gag. The bound hands most likely won't be a problem, but the absence of a gag isn't exactly encouraging. It likely means that wherever he is, his captors aren't worried about anyone hearing him call for help.
Concentrating on his available senses, the first thing that registers is the noise. A quiet rumble, like the sounds of cheering and hollering, muffled by distance, meets his ears. It reminds him of the time he went with Jess's family to a San Diego Chargers game, the sound of the stadium from where they were tailgating outside.
The second thing is that he isn't in a hallway. The two men who had jumped him in the parking lot say nothing as they continue to haul him through a maze of objects he only dimly recognizes as stacked crates and wooden pallets. Grease stained windows and stark metal shelves, harboring boxes of every size and shape line the walls and a high, unfinished ceiling matches the concrete floor. A warehouse?
Obviously, he's been out for some time. Night has fallen outside, the stars shimmering through dirty windows. Not a good sign there either. Windows mean that wherever he's been taken, it's far enough away from civilization that his kidnappers are not only unconcerned with him calling for help, but even less concerned with anyone seeing inside.
Sam blinks blurrily, wracking his still-muddled brain for an answer as to where he might be. New Orleans isn't overly large, but within the city limits there isn't enough wide-open space to accommodate such isolation. Perhaps he hasn't been taken far at all. Perhaps he's still in the country, far away from busy roads and the prying eyes of neighbors. Or maybe he's just been taken to one of the shadier parts of town, where people know enough to mind their own business.
Either way, Dean's going to have a hard time tracking him down. Sam didn't exactly leave a note in his forced retreat, and his brother hadn't been due back to their room with dinner for another hour or so. And who was to say Dean would even know he was gone? Unless his kidnappers ransacked the room, Sam had already been outside when he was hijacked, his laptop still on and the door shut inconspicuously behind him. Dean could come back to an empty room and assume Sam had gone for a walk to clear his head. They hadn't exactly been the most forthcoming with each other as of late.
Which means Sam is more or less on his own.
Above him the men grunt in exertion as they arrive at their destination and deposit Sam in a rickety metal chair.
"I don't like this." There's no mistaking the anxiety infused in the young voice. It – He – sounded like a kid compared the gruff baritone of his other captor.
"Relax, kid," Gruff says. "It's just a job. You'll get used to it."
"Shut your trap already and go get 'V." The order is grumbled and Sam eases his eyes open to see the younger of his two captors nod uneasily and scamper off.
The next thing he knows, his chin is being lifted - examined? - and a new voice grouses, "That ain't him." Male voice, deep, and clearly the boss for all the authority even those three little words carry.
Sam's confusion deepens. So they nabbed him on accident? Thought he was someone else?
He tries to open his eyes, to see the owner of this new voice, but all he can see are shapes. Vague and dark, there are three, no, maybe five; he can't be certain.
"What do you mean, it ain't him?" Gruff demands. "He was at the motel. And he was in the same room."
Boss must have stood because Sam's chin is dropped, his lead lolling limply on his chest. The motion makes his head reel and he sags, dizzy, back against the cold metal. He tries to focus, to stay awake, but his head is throbbing and every limb feels weighted and…
He jerks awake, weak and shaken. He couldn't have been out for more than a few minutes because he's still in the chair and the men are still standing in front of him.
"…told you there'd be two of 'em…amn it!"
"…other one wasn't there..."
"…better not be lyin' to me…Kid?"
Now the kid speaks, his voice wobbling almost comically, "He was the only one there, 'V, honest. I checked the room myself, inside and out."
Sam logs that away as the first piece of good news since he's been taken. If they'd checked the room then it was possible that they'd left something behind. It didn't matter if they were professionals - even the smallest of clues would make his disappearance known to his brother. If there was a hint, even the tiniest difference in the state of their motel room, Dean would know. Of that Sam is certain.
"…about the car?"
"…black Chevy…not there..."
The Impala? he wonders, but his head is swimming and suddenly he's having a hard time remembering why that's important.
Someone curses, probably Boss, but Sam is already fading again. The voices are starting to blend together and it's too much for his already floundering consciousness to follow. He fights against it, knows he needs to stay awake and gather as much information as possible from his kidnappers, but he's just so tired…