Dean left Sandover and went back to his apartment. There were two things he needed to do and he wanted both of them done yesterday. The first was probably the hardest to accomplish, to find a way to spring Sam. The second was probably a hell of a lot easier – he needed to find his baby. Driving this prissy Prius was killing him. He'd checked the parking lot at Sandover and driven around some of the adjacent streets with no luck. He'd checked the streets near his own apartment, again turning up nothing. He realized that he'd never asked Sam where he'd been staying, so tracking that down was next on his list, all the while he was trying to come up with a workable plan to get Sam out of the nut farm.
His hacking skills weren't up to the same level of skill as Sam's but they were decent enough. It only took him just over two hours to find where Sam had been living. It seemed while Dean was living the good life in a condo close to the city, Sam had been doing it tough in a small studio down in Southside.
Dressed much more comfortably in jeans, t-shirt and an over-shirt – albeit a plain, pale blue dress shirt left un-tucked and unbuttoned – Dean set out in the hated Prius. The closer he got to Sam's neighborhood the more he hoped to God he wouldn't find what was left of his baby scattered in some back alley chop shop. A careful cruise of the streets came up with nada, so he parked as close as he could to the address.
The building was rundown and old but relatively clean. It only took a few seconds to pick the lock on the third floor apartment. On first look anyone could have been mistaken for thinking no one lived there. The place was as neat as a pin but devoid of any personal touches. Decoration a la Sam at his OCD best.
The one-room apartment had a tiny kitchenette in one corner, the sink bench shining and clear of any dishes. Dean started there and checked cupboards and drawers, turning up only obscenely neat stacks of dishes, pans and cutlery. The tiny refrigerator had nothing but an almost-sour carton of milk. A bathroom that was little more than a toilet was curtained off from the kitchen, with a shower nozzle and taps sticking out from one wall. It could barely be up to health code. The kitchen sink, it seemed, did double-duty as the bathroom sink.
The living area was really only a sofa and a TV, but Dean checked under the couch cushions and under the sofa itself just in case. Then he moved on to the bedroom area. A ridiculously small, but meticulously neat double bed, small wardrobe and single chest of drawers made up the sleeping area. A quick look in the wardrobe revealed an empty duffle bag, a pair of sneakers, two sets of Sandover issued polo shirts and chinos, two pairs of jeans and three over-shirts. The bureau contained assorted underwear and socks in minimal amounts, a handful of t-shirts, and… yahtzee! A storage locker key and a receipt.
Dean quickly pocketed the key and receipt, packed Sam's meager belongings into the duffle, leaving the Sandover clothing behind, and left the apartment.
Finding the Prius in exactly the same condition he'd left it surprised Dean slightly. He pressed the key remote, unlocking the door and got in behind the wheel. He programmed the address from the receipt into the GPS navigator and waited until the directional map reconfigured. The modern technology had a use, but it would never replace giant-brained little brothers as a navigator.
Thirty minutes later Dean was throwing the roller door of the storage unit open to reveal a gleaming black Chevy Impala.
"Oh, baby, I've missed you! You poor thing being stuck in here on your own."
He quickly checked his car over, and if those angel dicks had so much as scratched the paintwork there would literally be hell to pay, then checked the trunk and weapons locker. Finding everything in order, including his and Sam's duffels, he threw the bag he'd taken from Sam's apartment in to join the other two, jumped into the driver's seat and, feeling like he was truly home, started his car up. Her throbbing heart brought a moment of joy, overshadowed only by the empty shotgun position.
Unsure of what else to do, Dean drove past St. Elizabeth's Hospital. Visiting hours were well and truly over by then which meant all the external doors were locked down with only authorized personnel able to access. Somehow he didn't think his CDC ID would work here, and they'd only bothered to make the one hospital ID for Sam who'd used it just a short while ago to get in to see the girl who'd drowned a classmate at Truman High. Still, he cased the place as thoroughly as possible and although they often joked about being able to break in or out of practically anywhere, it seemed that this time Dean had met his match. As reluctant as he was to leave Sam in that place any longer than he had to, Dean drove back to his apartment.
For the first time in days, Sam lost that feeling of being utterly alone and abandoned. Since he'd talked to Dean on the phone earlier in the day he could set his mind at ease, knowing that he wasn't going insane – or at least no more insane than usual, given their lives.
It didn't make his situation any easier to bear though, in fact it made it harder. In some small way he could accept being drugged and forced to make up lies to get by when he thought he really was losing it, but knowing that he was in the wrong place or time or whatever made it almost impossible. And Sam's stubbornness and anger became monsters in their own right, clamoring to be set free. He'd clammed up again in his session with Dr. Sykes, refused flat out to go to group therapy with Dr. Wilkes, and wound up throwing a tantrum to rival the worst set-to he and his father had ever had before he left for college, over being told to 'clean his plate' at dinner time. The food in that place was barely edible to start with, in Sam's opinion, and his appetite had taken a hike ever since he'd been there, so being threatened with force feeding if he didn't start eating more was the final straw. What made it even worse was there was one particular orderly who'd finally twigged to his trick of letting Eric eat his food.
In fairness the food fight that broke out wasn't entirely Sam's fault. Eric didn't take too kindly to suddenly having the food Sam had given him taken away by the orderly so he'd started screaming and crying. Sam yelling at the nurse, Michelle, helped things along, and when he stood up angrily and thumped the table, he honestly hadn't meant to hit the edge of the full plate of food that had been set back down in front of him. Most of it had landed in Andrea's lap, another patient who'd sat next to him. She was the one who started throwing food, but Sam was the one who'd earned the "time out" and the promise of a dose of Valium if he didn't calm down soon.
Time Out was spent in a small padded room with no furniture where a patient couldn't really do any damage to themselves or anyone else. It had taken two orderlies to get him in there, and he'd ranted and raged, banging on the door for nearly a half hour before his energy was spent. He sat in the corner of the room, congealed gravy sticking his hair up in all directions from where he'd run his hands through it. Dean would laugh his ass off if he could see his little brother looking like this, of course that would probably be after he beat the crap out of the people who put him in the room in the first place. Well, maybe not, maybe Dean would kick his ass for getting himself into the situation to begin with.
At bedtime they came and let him out in time to go through the usual nighttime routine of drugging him up to go to sleep. The only thing different tonight was that he was allowed a shower first, supervised of course.
Dean paced up and down the length of his living room. He'd stopped on the way home to buy a six pack, a double cheese-burger with extra onions, jumbo fries and two helpings of pie. All that remained of that was now empty wrappers and two unconsumed bottles of beer; and a vaguely uncomfortable pain in his belly.
He was running out of ideas on how to get Sam out of the hospital. He'd even tried yelling for Castiel but the angel was still not showing up. He was at the point where he was ready to tear the next angel he ran into limb from limb when there was a fluttering sound behind him.
Dean turned abruptly and found himself nose to nose with the angel he'd been calling for hours. His hands came up automatically and shoved Castiel hard, hard enough that the angel stumbled backwards a couple of steps.
"Just where the HELL have you been?" Dean demanded hotly.
"I was ordered to stay away from you," was the too-calm answer.
"Yeah? Well I need you, I've been calling you for freakin' hours!"
"You..?" Dean took a deep breath and ran a hand over his mouth, pushing down all the things he wanted to say, fearful that if he did say them Castiel would leave and his one hope of getting Sam back would leave with him. "You know what, never mind. That's not important. What is important is that you go now and get Sam. Bring him here. Right now."
"Don't you stand there and tell me you 'cannot'. You can, dammit, and you will."
"I am under orders not to interfere."
Dean was close to slinging off and flattening the irritating being in front of him. "I don't care what your orders are, Cass. If your freakin' boss wants my cooperation he needs to let you help me get Sam back, or it's no deal!"
Castiel cocked his head, as if listening to something beyond Dean's range of hearing, then he looked calmly back at Dean, stoic refusal chiseled in the features of his host's face.
"Come on, Cass, please? Sam saved your ass back there when Alistair would have ripped your Grace right out of your body and sent it wherever the sun don't shine. You owe him." Dean gripped the angel's arms, squeezing roughly, trying to get his desperation to make some impact on the emotionless figure before him where his demands had not.
Castiel gave an angel's version of a sigh, looked Heaven-ward one more time and leaned in to speak softly. "It isn't that I don't want to help you. I am not allowed to help you."
"Oh yeah? And when has that ever stopped you? And whatever happened to being here to do what I decided was the right thing to do?" Dean threw back bitterly, referencing the time when Dean and Sam had refused to leave an entire town full of people to be obliterated by Uriel in order to stop the breaking of the seal of Samhein rising. He'd play dirty pool if it meant getting his brother back. "Like it or not, Cass, Sam and I are a twofer deal. I don't get Sam you don't get me. And I don't care if you threaten to throw me back in the Pit because now I know you need me."
Castiel stood silent for a couple of minutes, seeming to consider what Dean had said. Finally he gave in.
"Alright. I will go and get Sam."
And before Dean could even mutter a 'thank you' or question the sudden change of heart the angel was gone with a fluttering sound and a stiff breeze. Dean was just starting to recover from the abrupt departure when there was another flutter and Castiel was back, holding up all six feet four inches, 220 pounds of Dean's soundly sleeping Sasquatch of a brother.
Dean rushed forward to help support Sam's weight, even though the angel didn't need the help.
"Sam? Sammy?" Dean lightly tapped Sam's face, trying to rouse him with no success. "Come on, Cass, help me get him into the bedroom."
Together they wrestled the oversized body into the bedroom and into the king-sized bed.
"Hopefully he just needs to sleep off whatever they gave him," Dean said with concern. "Thanks, Cass. I, uh…"
The angel held up a hand to stop him. "As you said, I owed Sam. Now the debt is repaid. I must go now."
And again, the angel was gone in a blink. It was something Dean didn't think he'd ever get used to, but for now he was grateful. He turned his attention to watching his brother sleep, and drool all over the pillow. God that was gross!
Sam didn't even as much as twitch until close to seven the next morning. It was unnerving for Dean to see him sleeping so soundly. Sam was never still, even in sleep, as a rule.
Awareness that something was different slowly filtered into Sam's consciousness. The air smelled different. As he sluggishly rolled over he noticed that he was still contained fully within the confines of a much larger bed, even if he stretched his legs out. The texture of the sheets was different, and as he cracked open his eyes the angle of the light and the colors in the room confirmed that he was no longer in the hospital.
"Good morning, Sleeping Beauty. Well, forget the 'beauty' part. Maybe Rip Van Winkle is closer to the mark."
Sam sat up, blinking owlishly at his brother, looking all the world to Dean like he had when he was three years old and waking from a nap.
"Dean!" It was part question, part exclamation, and one hundred percent relief. "How…?" Sam's brain was racing to try to catch up with where he found himself.
"Relax. You're safe. Cass sprang you last night." He smiled at his brother, his own relief in having him back shining through.
Sam threw his legs off the bed, stood unsteadily and drew his big brother into a bear hug.
"Thank God," he breathed. "One more hour in that place and I really would have gone insane. Where are my clothes?" he asked as he released Dean and started searching the room with uncoordinated effort. "We need to get as far away from here as we can."
"Whoa, slow down there, Sparky," Dean made a grab for his brother as Sam stumbled. "I think maybe you should start circling for a landing before we hit the road. You want breakfast? Coffee?"
Slightly glazed, liquid hazel eyes turned on Dean.
"No, we can get coffee on the road. I just want to get out of here." Sam paused, thoughts fighting to put themselves into some semblance of order. "Wait. Do you even know where the Impala is?"
Dean slapped Sam on the shoulder, good-naturedly. "Of course I know where my baby is. Went and picked her up first. I know where my priorities lie! Okay, so if you're sure you're up to it, let's get out of here."
Sam was never as sure of anything in his life. He didn't even want to question what the hell had been going on yet, although he was sure he'd get around to that as soon as his head was clear. For now all he wanted was Chicago in the rear-view mirror as fast as possible and if they never came back here again it would be too soon.
Before anyone gets all riled up about historical facts being inaccurate, please bear in mind that Zachariah is responsible for this, not me! First bit is quoted directly, more or less, from the end of the episode, and there is a little bit later on between Dean and Zachariah you'll recognize, although I've changed some of it slightly to fit this story.
No Prius cars were harmed during the writing of this story. I actually like them, blame Dean for the comments!
Of course I had to re-watch the episode "It's A Terrible Life" in order to get the background right for this story. I'd like to send a personal note to the Wardrobe department at Supernatural. Please dress Sam in Chino's ALL the time, I love the way they hang on his hips! And a big thank you to the Director, James L. Conway, and the DP, Serge Ladouceur, C.S.C., for the low camera angles on Sam in this ep! ;0) Watch carefully and you'll see what I mean.
Written for the Summer of Sam 2010 Challenge, as we all suffered through the 4 month torment that is the Summer Hellatus, and excitedly await the season 6 premiere. This one just took hold of me and wouldn't let go.
I have to thank the wonderful Sendintheklowns for volunteering and doing a great job as beta. She has been a busy girl, along with Faye Dartmouth, filling in with extra duties as well as coming up with the concept for the challenge. Thanks to both of you for letting me participate.
And thanks for sticking with me!