Randy Travens lumbered up to him and Sam groaned inwardly. Sonofabitch! Not again!
"You ready, Cade?" Travens asked with a grin.
"Not today, Randy," Sam said, without too much hope. "I've got to get home. My brother's expecting me."
Randy put a heavy hand on his shoulder and Sam twitched away uneasily, not into casual touching from near-strangers.
"It'll just take a few minutes, Cade. After all, we don't want me flunking algebra. I wouldn't be able to play football." As a capper, he added, "Besides, Mr. Brennan said you should help me."
So. That was it. Whatever the high school principal said, went. Period. If he wanted Sam to tutor their football team's halfback in algebra, that's what was going to happen.
Even if it meant that Sam had to neglect his own studies. Even if it meant he'd be late finishing up his own hunter-related studies and his regular chores at home.
Because Mr. Brennan had a way making you feel that it was your duty to help other students and, therefore, help him out.
And for Sam, life was almost always about duty.
The thing was, normally he wouldn't have minded that much. He liked helping other people; liked it when he was able to help someone understand an equation or a difficult concept.
Like Alice, last semester. She'd been fun to teach; had soaked up everything Sam had taught her and asked for more.
But Randy? He wasn't interested in learning anything. He was interested in Sam doing his work for him. He'd been throwing out some heavy hints in that direction lately and Sam wasn't sure how much longer he could put him off.
He thought about Mr. Brennan. He'd been the one that asked him to help Alice, and now Randy. Did he know what Randy was hinting around about? He couldn't, right? He was the principal, after all. A student's education was supposed to be his main concern.
But - Sam wasn't sure, not really. This small Indiana town seemed to place a lot of importance on high school football. Almost everyone in town came to the games on Fridays, and the players were treated differently than any of the other students. They got out early for practice, came in late without having to bring a note from their parents; half the time they didn't even seem to do their homework. It was weird. Not spooky weird, not his family kind of weird, but - weird.
The coach had even tried to get him to try out for the team; because he was so tall, Sam guessed. He'd had to fight pretty hard to get them to leave him alone about that. They just wouldn't believe he didn't want to play.
But he didn't. No way. His life was too busy already. Keeping up with his schoolwork, all the training involved with hunting, not to mention actually hunting now that he was getting older - he didn't have time for football.
And zero interest in it, either, come to that.
"Come on, Wade." Randy punched him lightly on the shoulder. "Let's get going. Don't have all night."
Shrugging, Sam gave in. "Okay, give me a minute, I've got to make a call first."
Stepping away from the halfback, he called his brother's cell and, as expected, got his voicemail. He left a message explaining the situation, said he'd be home in an hour or so and then put the cell back into his backpack.
"Okay," he said to Randy. "Library?"
The house was dark. Dean opened the door, threw his jacket onto the couch and turned on the living room lights.
There was no answer. He checked the bedroom in case the little geek was sleeping or working on his computer with his headphones on. Nothing.
Frowning, he pulled out his cell phone, saw the message from his brother and listened to it.
"God, you're such a geek," Dean muttered, shuddering. "Algebra." He'd been so happy, no, ecstatic, when he'd finally turned sixteen and been able to quit school. English gave him hives and he didn't even want to think about math.
The fact that his baby brother was good at something so boring and incomprehensible as algebra, that he could tutor another kid at it - well, that was just further evidence that Sam was the definite brain in the family.
Thinking he might as well start on dinner, Dean went to the kitchen and popped open a beer while he studied the contents of the refrigerator.
"Well, Sammy, he said aloud. "Hope you're in the mood for spaghetti, 'cause that's all we've got."
He filled up a pan with water, stuck it on the stove to start heating, and opened up a can of sauce, putting that on to simmer as well.
Half an hour later, dinner was ready and Sam still wasn't home. Trying not to worry - no one knew better than he that Sam tended to lose track of time when he was at the library - Dean ate his dinner, put a plate in the oven for his brother and cleaned up the dishes.
Done with that, he called his brother's cell and it went straight to voicemail. What time had Sam called earlier?
More than three hours ago. For something that he'd said would take an hour or so.
"Not cool, Sam," he muttered.
He was going to have to give his brother a little talking to. Maybe Dad wasn't here right now, but they still had to stick to the rules. Kid should've been home two hours ago. At the very least, he should have called again.
Making a sudden decision, Dean grabbed the keys to the Impala, pulled his jacket back on and left the house. He'd been to the library once, dropping Sam off. He was pretty sure he could find it.
Sam slowly opened his eyes. At least, he thought he had. He couldn't really see anything. It was dark. And cold.
He tried to move and gasped at the pain that suddenly tore through his stomach. Oh God, hurts hurts hurts!
Closing his eyes, Sam tried to breathe through the pain, wait it out. Once it had backed off a little, careful not to move, he opened his eyes again, confused and wary.
What the hell had happened to him? Why couldn't he remember? Was he on a hunt? Had something gone wrong, had some monster gotten him?
Oh no, Dean, where was Dean? Was he hurt too? Panicking, he tried to move again, and this time the pain swallowed him, dropping him back into darkness.
The library was closed and had been for a good hour. There was no one hanging around outside, so Dean couldn't even ask if anyone had seen his brother.
Climbing back into the Impala, he decided to drive over to the school. Although there was probably no one there, he couldn't think what else to do. This was not typical behavior for Sam.
Regardless of what he'd thought earlier, his little brother was always on time, always where he was supposed to be; if not, he never failed to call. With their line of work, he knew Dean worried if he didn't know where Sam was. He wouldn't leave him hanging like this.
Fear started curling in his stomach.
"Where the hell are you, Sammy?"
There were small hands on him, shaking him, an hysterical voice begging him to wake up. Groaning, Sam fought his way back to consciousness. He opened his eyes, stared into the darkness at the small white face above him.
"don't - "
"Oh, Sam! Thank God. Thank you, God!" Crying, Alice bent over him and hugged him. He gave a hoarse cry of pain and she jumped back quickly.
"Oh, I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! What can I do?"
God, the pain, it was eating him alive. He tried to speak, tried to push past it. "Call - call. Help."
"I don't have my cell phone with me!" Alice jumped to her feet. "Do you, Sam?" She looked around desperately. His backpack and books were scattered on the grass around them. She grabbed up the bag, rooted through it, found his cell and dialed 911.
Dean pulled over to the side of the road as an ambulance screamed up behind him. It wailed on past, closely followed by a police car. After they passed, he pulled back out onto the road, following close behind them; some inner voice warning him.
When the three vehicles got to the high school, they drove directly past the three-story building and out to the football field where a young girl, pale and distraught in the headlights, waved frantically.
"Here! He's here! Please hurry!"
Seeing Dean, the cop, a corpulent, sour-faced man, raised a hand to stop him.
Dean, who could see now where the girl was pointing, ran past him to the huddled form in the middle of the field. Fear was a bitter taste in his mouth.
He knelt down beside his brother.