Summary: Season Two – Hurt Sam / Big Brother Dean / Awesome Bobby – If Sam was unconscious in a ditch out on Old Mill Road that would certainly help explain why the kid was late and why Dean couldn't reach him on his phone for the past half hour.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Warnings: General spoilers for season two and usual language
A/N: Inspired by the E/O Challenge word-of-the-week a few weeks ago (busy) and written in honor of my two-year anniversary on this site (today)
I'm scared as hell 'cause I can't get you on the telephone. ~ Nickelback
If Dean hated anything, he hated a busy signal.
Especially when it was almost dinnertime and he was ready to eat.
And especially when the busy signal came from Sam's phone – over and over – when he tried to call his brother.
After all, the kid had left Bobby's house over an hour ago on an errand that should've taken 20 minutes.
Before Sam had headed to town, Bobby had called ahead to double-check that the library had the book they were looking for; had even had the damn thing held on reserve. Sam should've been in and out and back – safe and sound – at Singer Salvage long before now.
So where the hell was he?
Dean sighed, checking his watch before glancing at Bobby.
"Still not answering?" the older hunter asked as he stirred the chili simmering on the stove; concern in his tone and expression as he watched Dean pace back and forth across the scratched and faded hardwood of his kitchen.
"Still not ringing," Dean corrected, his own worry expressing itself in his sharp tone; wishing the library wasn't already closed so he could call and ask if Sam ever arrived...or if he had arrived, when he had left heading back home.
Because something wasn't right; Dean could feel it.
Bobby frowned in confusion. "Still not ringing?" he repeated. "Who's he talkin' to?"
Dean shook his head in response. "Nobody."
Because the only two people Sam would talk with this long on the phone were himself and Bobby.
But neither of them had heard from the kid since Sam had left the house earlier.
And now for the past half hour, Sam's phone had rung busy.
...which meant what?
Dean shook his head again, dispersing all of the worse-case scenarios that flooded his mind, and exhaled slowly and deliberately even as he continued to pace; his stomach twisting tighter and his heart beating faster every time that busy signal buzzed in his ear.
"Dammit," Dean hissed and immediately pressed the redial button on his phone; needing to talk to Sam, to hear the kid's voice and to know that his brother was okay.
But the line rang busy...again.
"Come on, Sam..." Dean growled, redialing and checking his watch.
Bobby's frown deepened; tapping the wooden spoon on the side of the pot as he thought about Dean's earlier response. "Why is the line still busy if he ain't talkin' to nobody?"
It was a logical question.
But it only irritated an already annoyed and worried big brother.
Dean cut his eyes at Bobby as he paced; knowing the older hunter was trying to help by thinking aloud but feeling his nerves fray just a little more each time Bobby spoke.
"I don't know," Dean snapped – hating when he had to make that admission...especially when the question involved Sam – and redialed his brother's number once more; swearing vehemently when the busy signal predictably droned in his ear.
Bobby inwardly cringed at Dean's reaction; vaguely wondering if Dean had made up some of the words he had just said and bracing himself in case Dean hurled the phone across the room in his worried frustration.
But Dean's grip only tightened around the phone he held as he stared at Bobby.
"That's it," Dean suddenly announced, grabbing his jacket from the back of one of the chairs at the table and crossing the kitchen; snatching the Impala's keys from the counter on his way out.
Bobby hastily propped the spoon on the side of the pot and wiped his hands on his stained Never Trust A Skinny Cook apron before quickly following Dean to the backdoor. "Where are you going?"
"To find Sam," Dean answered over his shoulder as he slid his arms through the sleeves of his leather jacket and stomped down the porch steps. "And if he's not sick or bleeding when I find him, then I'm gonna kick his ass."
Bobby chuckled quietly at Dean's short list of acceptable reasons for Sam's phone to ring busy for the past half hour. "Call me if you need me..."
"Thanks. But I can kick his ass by myself," Dean dryly informed as he pocketed his cell phone and opened the Impala's driver's side door.
Bobby snorted. "I meant call me if you need anything else."
The unspoken possibility of Sam being injured or in some kind of other trouble hung in the air.
"I can take care of that, too," Dean reminded confidently and ducked into his car. "But if he calls or comes back – "
" – I got it," Bobby assured; not needing to hear the rest of Dean's instructions to know what to do with their youngest if Sam contacted him or returned to the house. "Just go find your brother and bring him home before that storm blows in...and before my chili gets cold."
Dean offered a small smile at Bobby's grumbling and then paused; momentarily touched that Bobby had described his house as their home because he and Sam certainly saw it that way, too...especially since their dad had died.
Dean swallowed at the reminder – John Winchester dead almost two months – and shook himself; refusing to think about that now and instead nodding at Bobby's advice about beating the storm.
"I'll be in touch," Dean promised and glanced up at the threatening sky through the windshield as he closed the Impala's door and cranked her engine; feeling Bobby's gaze as he backed the car away from the house and headed toward the gravel path that would lead to the highway...and to Sam, wherever the kid was.
Bobby stood on the porch with his arms across his chest until he could no longer see the Impala's taillights glowing red in the dusk and sighed; wishing he didn't have a bad feeling about what Dean was going to find...but he did.
And the older hunter could tell that Dean did, too.
Bobby sighed again. "You better be okay, kid..." he gruffly told a missing Sam and glanced over his shoulder in the direction Dean had disappeared before entering the house.
Crossing back to the stove, Bobby had just resumed stirring his pot of chili when the phone rang; the one farthest down the line among his bank of phones that was labeled Singer Salvage Towing.
"Balls," Bobby commented bitterly and considered not answering the phone.
Because he really didn't have the time or the interest in venturing away from the house on a wrecker call; especially since it was getting dark...especially since it was about to rain...and especially since Sam was missing and Dean might need his help with the kid later.
Bobby sighed as the phone continued to ring and rolled his eyes; hating his sense of duty.
"I'm comin', I'm comin'..." Bobby groused as he once again propped his spoon on the side of the pot and wiped his hands on his apron; crossing to the row of phones on the wall and finally answering the one that wouldn't shut up. "This is Singer."
"Hey, Bobby. It's Ned..."
Bobby nodded in recognition of the voice and rubbed the bridge of his nose between two calloused fingers. "Officer Davis."
Ned chuckled at the formal greeting and blunt tone; knowing some of the guys in the force didn't like Bobby Singer because of his gruff exterior.
But Bobby reminded Ned of his own father and he had always easily interacted with the man, which was why calling Bobby when the police department needed something from him had become one of Ned's unofficial duties over the years.
Ned cleared his throat. "Listen, Bobby. I know it's almost dinnertime, and I hate to call a man away from his supper. But we've got a wreck over here on Old Mill Road. A storm blew up kinda sudden and a driver's gone off in the ditch...was wondering if maybe you could help us out?"
Bobby narrowed his eyes. "Old Mill Road?" he repeated, ignoring how his stomach clenched at that information and reminding himself that just because that was the main road between his house and town didn't mean that the driver in the ditch was Sam.
"Yeah," Ned confirmed about the wreck's location. "Not sure of any other details yet. We're in route to the scene right now. Just got the call from a passerby..."
Bobby nodded, wishing his bad feeling about Sam hadn't just tripled.
Because if anybody attracted bad luck, it was Dean's little brother.
And if the kid was unconscious in a ditch out on Old Mill Road that would certainly help explain why Sam was late and why Dean couldn't reach him on his phone for the past half hour.
Bobby swallowed at the implications.
Had Sam been out there all this time and had just now been noticed by a passerby?
It was possible.
But more than that, it was likely.
Bobby sighed harshly, rubbing his hand down his bearded face and then around the back of his neck; knowing he was getting ahead of himself by jumping to conclusions based on such sparse information...but unable to resist.
Maybe he should call Dean?
Bobby shook his head almost as quickly as the thought occurred. Because there was no need to worry an already worried big brother until Bobby had more conclusive facts.
And right now all he knew was that his towing services were needed to help clear a wreck on Old Mill Road.
It could be just as simple as that – helping to pull a stranger's vehicle from the ditch.
But Bobby doubted it.
Hunter luck – or more accurately, Winchester luck – didn't work like that.
If bad shit could happen, it did.
And it usually happened when they least expected it.
Like when Sam was out on a routine errand to pick up a book...
"Dammit, kid..." Bobby sighed and shook his head.
"Bobby?" Ned called from the opposite end of the line. "You still there?"
"Yeah," Bobby answered distractedly, untying his apron with one hand literally behind his back.
"Oh, good..." Ned replied, his voice cracking as the phone connection cut in and out. "The signal's gettin' bad out here. Damn storm..."
Bobby nodded, briefly taking the phone away from his ear to slip the apron over his head.
"So...you gonna be able to help us out, or should we move down the list and call – "
" – no," Bobby interrupted, tossing the apron over one of the chairs before crossing to the stove and switching it off; covering the pot of chili and moving it further back on the cooktop. "I'm comin'..." he assured the officer on the phone.
And Bobby sure as hell hoped he was wrong about his suspicions of who he would find in the ditch when he arrived with the wrecker.
Several miles away, Dean drove in silence.
The familiar rumble of the Impala's engine vaguely comforting as the classic Chevy traveled down Old Mill Road while Dean's mind buzzed with possibilities of what had happened to Sam.
The list was long and worrisome.
"You better be okay," Dean warned his brother, glancing at the empty passenger seat and belatedly wishing he had let Sam take the Impala earlier instead of making the kid take one of Bobby's clunkers.
Because if something had happened, at least Sam wouldn't be alone right now; would instead be surrounded by home until Dean could find him.
Dean sighed; his hands anxiously gripping the steering wheel as he drove. "You better be okay," he repeated to an absent Sam; growling the words as he tried to stay pissed at an inconsiderate little brother who was routinely a pain in his ass.
But Dean was unable to shake the feeling that something was seriously wrong.
Because Sam's phone didn't ring busy unless Sam was talking to Dean – or to Bobby – and neither of them had heard from the kid since he had left Singer Salvage over an hour ago.
Yet every time Dean had tried to call his brother, the connection to Sam's phone had failed to go through, repeatedly blocked by an answering busy signal.
Dean shook his head in frustration; trying to ignore the feeling that he was going to find Sam on the side of the road; that the kid had wrecked between town and Bobby's house and was bleeding in a ditch somewhere.
Like surviving one car accident barely two months ago wasn't enough and Sam wanted to try his luck again.
Dean swallowed, suddenly feeling choked by fear and anxiety; a feeling that only intensified when it started raining as he approached town.
Because the truck Sam had taken from Bobby's had been a piece of crap; who knew if the wipers worked...or the headlights...or the brakes, for that matter.
These were certainly not the driving conditions to find out.
Dean scowled at the storm; switching on the Impala's wipers to high speed and leaning slightly forward in the driver's seat to better see through the rain blowing in sheets across the highway.
His concentration was so focused that Dean startled at the sudden, remarkably loud crack of thunder that literally shook the ground and then was followed by a sharp spear of lightning stabbing the huge dark clouds that hung heavily in an equally dark sky.
The rain poured harder; the full clouds having been pierced and shaken and thus spilling forth their moisture like a hysterical woman on a crying jag.
The thunder and lightning came again.
"It's okay, Sammy..." Dean murmured out of habit, as if the kid could hear him across time and space; knowing Sam was no longer three-years old and afraid of storms but also knowing severe weather still tended to make his brother nervous. "It's okay..."
Only Sam was missing...and that was never okay.
But this time it had to be; it had to be okay.
Because Dean had already lost John; and he couldn't lose Sam, too.
He just couldn't.
Not ever – but certainly not now.
Dean sighed – hating how shaky he felt – and reached for his phone tucked in the pocket of his leather jacket; easily dialing Sam's number while still steering the Impala and then glaring at the busy signal that greeted him almost instantly.
"Dammit, Sam! Where the hell are you?" Dean demanded and threw the phone into the passenger floorboard; the device rattling at the mistreatment as it skidded across the mat and then came to rest where two gigantic-sized boots should've been.
But Sam wasn't there.
And he wasn't answering his phone.
Dean clenched his jaw.
The Impala's steering wheel was gripped impossibly tighter.
The Chevy's gas pedal was pushed a little harder.
And several miles passed while the rain continued to pour.
The drops reappeared as soon as the Impala's wipers swished them away; the moisture on the glass causing everything to look blurry through the windshield...including the red and blue flashing lights of the ambulance, fire engine, and patrol cars that suddenly appeared up ahead.
"Oh god..." Dean murmured; his stomach twisting in dread.
Because he knew; he knew.
"Sam..." Dean whispered as he stared out the windshield; recognizing the rusted tailgate sticking up in the air and watching in fascinated horror while the truck's back wheels lethargically spun in the storm's wind as the front of the vehicle was buried in the ditch.
Dean glared at the scene. "No," he growled in denial; the word loud and harsh but still unable to mask the hammering of his heart as it slammed in his chest.
Because the closer he drove, the more apparent it became that Dean's sixth sense had been right – that something bad had happened to his brother.
Dean shook his head, still refusing to believe what he was seeing, and stopped the Impala mere inches from the police officer standing in the storm and attempting to direct traffic around the accident scene on the side of the road.
"Sir!" the officer yelled as Dean stepped out of the classic Chevy; squinting as rain pelted him in the face. "Sir!"
But Dean ignored him, easily sidestepping the officer's reach – as well as an oncoming car in the opposite lane – and continuing to jog toward the scene; his clothes saturated in the downpour; his boots pounding on the wet asphalt.
"Sir!" the officer yelled once more and frantically motioned for one of his colleagues to intercept. "Sir! Stop! You can't go down there!"
But Dean couldn't be bothered to give a shit about the officer's orders as he ran toward the ditch where he knew Sam would be.
"Whoa, there..." another officer warned; suddenly appearing in front of Dean and holding up his hand to halt Dean's approach as he busted through a line of onlookers; strangers willing to get drenched in the rain as long as they could gawk at an accident.
Dean scowled at the officer and then blinked in the harsh glare of the red and blue lights continuing to flash on the emergency vehicles surrounding the wrecked truck.
"Slow down, son," the officer continued. "We appreciate your help," he told Dean, his monotone implying he had given this speech many times. "But we've got everything under control. So, if you'll just return to your car – "
" – like hell I will!" Dean sharply interrupted and pushed against the man's restraining hand held in the center of his chest; not wanting to be arrested for assault on an officer...but not opposed to it, either.
Because this man, officer or not, was trying to keep him from Sam – from an injured Sam – and that always justified violence and recklessness in Dean's book.
The officer narrowed his eyes; his gaze passing over Dean as if he was looking for something. "Are you with the media?"
"What?" Dean barked and then shook his head; feeling droplets of rain slide down his face as he did so. "No. That's my brother down there!" he forcefully informed and swept the officer's hand away; not offering any other explanation as he continued to advance toward the scene.
The officer was momentarily stunned by the revelation – because he didn't know anyone had yet contacted the accident victim's next of kin – but then quickly followed behind Dean; leaving crowd control to another officer nearby.
"Let him through!" the officer yelled to the other emergency workers dutifully stepping into Dean's path and trying to prevent him from getting any closer to the wreck; recognizing that Dean was within seconds of throwing a punch from the way his arm was moving back. "He's the kid's brother. Let him through!"
One of the firemen arched an eyebrow at the news. "You are?"
"Yeah," Dean answered gruffly; his gaze going beyond the fireman to the truck in the ditch – his only concern.
"What's his name?" the fireman asked, as if he was somehow testing the validity of Dean's identity as the kid's brother.
Dean cut his eyes at the fireman and snorted – not having time for such bullshit – and then pushed his way closer to the truck, bodily shoving others aside as he descended the steep ditch bank; careful to keep his footing in the slick mud and feeling instantly alarmed that he could smell gasoline in the damp air as he approached.
"Where the hell are those Jaws of Life?" another fireman yelled over his shoulder from where he was crouched by the driver's side door down in the ditch shining his flashlight into the vehicle's cab. "This truck might blow any second. And the cab is starting to fill with water. Move your asses up there!"
The fireman paused in barking his orders as Dean approached.
"Who the hell are you?" he demanded; shifting the flashlight to shine on Dean and moving ever-so-slightly to block Dean's view of the truck's driver, almost like he was protective of who was inside.
Sam always had that effect on people.
"He asked you a question," the medic snapped from where he was also crouched by the truck and glared at Dean; angling his body to block Dean's view as well.
Dean returned the glare as he stepped into the knee-high water steadily rising in the ditch; not caring that his boots were instantly waterlogged or that his jeans were even more saturated than before.
Because he only cared about one thing – Sam – and the men currently blocking his access to the kid were going to learn the hard way if they didn't move their asses.
"Who are you?" the fireman repeated; his hard tone matching the medic's expression.
Dean motioned toward the truck as he came closer. "I'm his brother," he replied, daring either man to dispute it.
Neither did; both men only continuing to skeptically stare at Dean.
But the reaction from within the truck was instant.
"D'n..." Sam called in return; the word slurred but the voice clearly panicked and scared as Sam reverted to his I-don't-know-where-I-am-or-what-just-happened-but-I-want-my-brother voice; a tone that always ignited something purely primal within Dean.
And it had that same effect now.