Chapter One: Disappearing
Bowling Green, Kentucky- 1987
Dean picked up the TV remote and flipped through the stations- there was nothing on! He grumbled and peered at his little brother sleeping in the next bed. Dean sighed and lay down on his back on his own bed.
Dad had been gone for four days and after a call that very evening it seemed as if he was going to be on the job for at least another two.
Sam had started asking when Dad was coming back and Dean could only answer 'soon, Sammy, soon.'
Dean sat up and slid off the bed; it was unbelievably hot in the room- even with the air conditioner running at full blast. The boy pulled his damp shirt away from himself and wiped a forearm across his brow. He didn't know how his brother could sleep in such heat.
Dean wished he was with his Dad- he wanted to help him, but he knew he had to look after Sammy- that was Dean's job. If Dad had to hunt monsters than Dean had to take care of Sam.
Checking the clock on the wall, Dean saw it was only eight-thirty and groaned out loud.
"Dean?" he heard his little brother muttered in his sleep but didn't wake up.
The older boy opened one of the windows- against his father's instructions- and stuck his head out into the warm night air.
Dean panted, sweat running down his face. It was way too hot in this state, he complained silently.
Maybe next time Dad will take a job in Alaska; Dean hoped and peered around at the motel rooms beside and across from them.
Dang, I'm thirsty; Dean thought and recalled seeing a vending machine just around the corner the day Dad had dropped them off.
Dean peered at the white motel room door than at his sleeping brother and back again. He'd only be a minute, and really he wouldn't even be going very far. He was just so thirsty and tap water just wouldn't cut it. Dean grabbed the room key from where it sat on top of the card table in one corner of the room.
Dean checked the salt lines at the windows and pulled open the motel room door, "I'll be right back, Sammy."
Dean didn't notice that his sneakers scuffed the salt at the door, breaking the line as he closed it
He walked past the other rooms, his short hair beaded with sweat in the humid air, thinking only of the cold can of pop waiting for him.
Dean could have jumped with joy when he rounded the corner and saw the blue and red machine glowing in the dark night.
Digging some change from his pocket, the eight year-old pushed the coins into the slot and punched the button for Pepsi.
The can clattered down and Dean grabbed it up, pulled the tab and guzzled down half the contents in one go.
"Ahhhh," he leaned against the machine that vibrated slightly and watched a couple of moths flutter lazily around the light source.
Maybe I should get one for Sam; Dean thought as he sipped the rest of the drink more slowly, he'd probably like that.
Dean counted the coins from his pocket and smiled when he saw he had just enough. The boy finished his soda and tossed the can into the already overflowing waste bin beside the vending machine
The boy gave the last of his change to the machine and in response it spat out a can of root beer.
Dean whistled the beginning notes of 'Wind of Change' by the Scorpions as he strolled back to the motel room, feeling pretty good about himself and excited to see the look on his little brother's face when he presented him with the treat.
Dean opened the door and shoved the keys into the pocket of his jeans, "Hey Sammy, I got something for-"
The boy stopped mid-sentence. Sam wasn't in bed and the tiny bathroom was dark- its door open to reveal only the small shower stall, the sink and toilet- so, where was his brother?
"Sammy?" Dean asked and dropped the can of soda, "Sammy!"
Normally if his little brother was playing hide-and-seek, he'd have appeared by now- popped his head up from between the beds or stepped out from inside the shower- but all was silent in the motel room aside from Dean's breathing.
"No, no, no," Dean grabbed his hair in his fists and his eyes darted around the room- the window was still open, the stained curtains fluttering faintly in the hot breeze and at his feet, oh God, at his feet the meticulously laid salt line had been scattered, no longer able to protect anyone- and panic began to rise in his chest.
Dean turned around. Maybe Sammy's not gone; maybe he woke up and went looking for me.
Holding onto the doorframe with both hands, Dean's sharp eyes scoured the parking lot, lingering on every shadow, and every doorway for his brother.
"Sammy!" Dean shouted as loudly as he dared- it wouldn't do any good to alert the other guests or the manager who might call CPS on him.
Not here, Sammy's not here; Dean's panic rose hot and painful in his chest and he felt tears of fear begin to prick at the corners of his eyes.
He had to call Dad; he would know what to do. Dean knew that he was only supposed to call their father only in the case of emergencies but with Sam having vanished into thin air, Dean considered this the direst of situations.
Dean stepped into the room, closed and locked the door, laid down another salt line and searched in his duffle for the 'Emergency Money'. There was a pay phone not far from the motel where Dean could call his Dad.
But what if Sammy comes back and I'm gone? Dean thought and paused with the coins in his hand.
Sammy will be scared if he can't find me, Dean continued, I should stay in case he comes back… at least for a little while.
Dean sat down on his bed, staring at his brother's and nervously tossing the coins from one hand to the other.
"C'mon Sammy, c'mon," Dean muttered, "This isn't funny, just come back."
He waited for five minutes and then Dean couldn't take it anymore. He slipped off the bed, grabbed the room keys from his pocket and closed the door after him. Dean peered from side to side, just to make sure his brother wasn't outside and then he dashed across the parking lot toward the phone booth.
The windows of the booth were grimy, smeared with handprints and dirt and other things Dean didn't want to think about. The door squeaked when the boy opened it and slipped inside. Once the door closed, Dean noticed that the booth had an earthy, rotten smell. Careful not to touch anything but the phone itself, Dean pushed the coins into the slot and punched the silvery number keys.
"C'mon Dad," Dean muttered as the phone rang against his ear. He'd had to stand up on tiptoe to retrieve the phone from its hook and slumped inside of the booth limply.
"Hello?" His father's deep voice answered.
"Dad! You've gotta come back here RIGHT NOW! Sammy's missing, I mean he's gone. One minute he was there and the next he just vanished. I'm scared Dad… I can't find him and what if he's hurt or lost?" Dean explained all within minutes.
"Calm down son, what's wrong? Sam's missing? Are you sure he's not just hiding?" John asked and Dean could hear the annoyance in his father's voice.
A few months earlier, while they'd been in Idaho, Sam had hidden away from Dean, planning on jumping out and scaring his big brother but fell asleep and didn't hear his brother calling. Dean had become frantic and had called their father. John had raced back from the middle of an interview with one of the witnesses to a banshee attack he was investigating and had been livid when Sam turned up, sleepy-eyed and complaining he was hungry.
"This is really real Dad. Sammy's gone," With that, Dean lost all control he'd had and began to cry into the phone. At least Dad might believe him now.
"Shit," Dad swore under his breath but Dean heard, "Okay, I'll be there in six hours. Go back to the room and wait for me there. If Sam comes back, you call me right away."
Dean nodded, "Okay."
"And don't forget to put salt lines down!" John said, "And you keep your gun with you."
"Yes, sir," Dean affirmed but with none of the usual enthusiasm.
Dean started at the knock on the motel room door. It was a little after four o'clock in the morning and the sky outside was reluctantly paling.
"Dean?" He heard his Dad's voice and ran to open to the door.
Dean paused with his hand on the lock, "Who's the greatest rock band of all time?"
"Dean, it's me," His Dad's voice sounded exasperated but Dean didn't budge.
"Say it," he demanded, "Or I'm not letting you in."
He heard his father sigh, "Led Zeppelin. Can I come in now?"
Dean opened the door and John stepped into the room, careful to step over the line of salt in front of the door.
Dean watched as his father's dark eyes took in the room- the television still playing, the rumpled sheets on Sam's bed, the fully made ones on Dean's, the empty containers of take-out Chinese shoved into the garbage can- and then look at his eldest son.
"What happened?" John asked and Dean gulped.
He rubbed the back of his neck nervously and spoke up, "Sammy was asleep and it was really hot so I just went around the corner to get a soda from the machine and when I came back Sam was gone."
"Did you lock the door?" Dad asked. Dean could see he was trying not to be angry and somehow that only made it worse.
"Uh huh," Dean muttered, "I made sure."
"How long were you gone?" Dad asked.
"Just a couple of minutes, honest!" Dean exclaimed, feeling tears prick at the corners of his eyes.
Suddenly Dad turned his head toward Sammy's bed and walked over to it. He knelt down and looked under it as though Sam would be underneath.
Dean watched nervously, one hand clutching the opposite elbow as Dad sat back on his heels and sniffed.
"C'mere," Dad instructed and Dean made his way over slowly.
"Look," Dad pointed to the carpet just beside the bed where a thin coating of yellowy dust had been crushed into the fibers.
"We were kind of eating dinner on the beds-" Dean began but then Dad shook his head the way he did when they were training and Dean had made a glaring, obvious mistake.
"Sulfur, Dean, can't you smell it?" Dad said in a no-nonsense tone.
All Dean could smell was the faint cigarette scent of the motel room and his own sweat.
Dean gulped, "Does that me Sammy's been taken by-"
"Demons," Dad finished the sentence and he stood, walking past Dean and running his hands through his black hair.
Dean stood as if turned to stone. He couldn't move, couldn't think, could barely even breathe.
Demons, demons, demons, Sammy's been taken by demons.
"Okay, Dean, here's what we're going to do. We're going to pack up and go to Bobby's, if anyone can help us find a demon it'll be him," Dad spoke as he planned.
Dean remained where he was.
"Now Dean!" Dad snapped, startling Dean into motion.
As Dean packed up his duffle bag he wiped at his nose with his forearm, blinking furiously.
Uncle Bobby will find Sammy, I know he will.
Dad grabbed Sam's bag and pushed Dean out the door.
He's so angry, Dean thought, is he angry at me?
Dad unlocked the Impala's doors and Dean slipped into the front passenger's seat. Dad tossed Sammy's bag into the back and got into the car, revving the engine and peeling out of the parking lot without a glance backwards.
As Dad drove he lectured Dean: You should have been watching your brother, you should have paid more attention to your surroundings, you could get yourself killed acting like that, etc.
Dean sank lower and lower into his seat, already feeling miserable enough without his Dad rubbing it in.
Dean didn't see that John was blinking rapidly, sniffing as if he had allergies. Dean didn't know what John was thinking: I should have been watching out for the boys, I should have been paying more attention to them, I'm going to get them killed acting like this, etc.
Demons had his youngest boy and it was all his fault. Of course John knew that something like this would happen, how could it not? John had been probing into the dark underground world of demons, trying to find the demon and the sons of bitches had retaliated in like for all of their buddies John and Bobby Singer had exorcised.
But Sammy was only a little boy for God's sake! Barely four years old! He'd never hurt anyone in his life. Of course John wasn't that naïve- he knew that monsters killed anyone regardless of age or gender- there were many monsters that fed specifically on children, even. It didn't matter that Sam was only a child.
John supposed he should be relieved though that Dean hadn't been in the motel room when the demons came because he could have been kidnapped as well… or worse.
Dean saw that Dad was grinding his teeth, flexing his tight jaw and quickly stared out the window.
Don't worry Sammy, Dean thought, I'll find you. Don't be scared, I'm coming for you.
1. Fanfic title comes from an Iron Maiden song of the same name.
2. Chapter title comes from a Screaming Trees song of the same name.
3. Please leave a review! They warm me up on chilly days!