A/N: Sorry about the overlong descriptions of McDonalds. I was on a diet when I wrote this. Also, it's been a little while since I re-watched Season 2, so cut me some slack if I got anything wrong.
Standard disclaimers apply.
When Sam woke up, Dean was gone.
He knew it before he'd even registered motel, Missouri, demon, semi, edema, Dad. And that only took a few seconds, because Sam was used to waking up in strange places. If he woke up somewhere normal (and he wasn't entirely sure what that meant now that Jessica was dead though he had a vague idea that it involved clean sheets and taxes) it would probably freak him out for true.
Sam had spent the night dreaming about Dad, dreaming about Jessica, dreaming about Dean, at one point dreaming about all four of them watching the Smurfs together, which was the only one that didn't make him wake up gasping. His last dream hadn't been as whimsical, and now he was (pretty sure he was) awake, and it was coming true.
Dean was gone. His bed was empty, sheets rumpled. Sam sat there, staring at the little cotton mountains trying to decide if it was a good or a bad sign that the knife Dean kept under his pillow was missing too. The demon was in Jefferson City. Except by now it could be anywhere, and so could Dean. Sam wasn't sure what he was more afraid of: that the demon had taken Dean, or that Dean had gone after it on his own. They should have left Jefferson City last night, but they'd both been so bruised and tired and trying so hard not to cry, even Dean, which was easier to (not) do in a dark motel room than in the cramped quarters of a 1967 four-door Chevrolet Impala.
The plan was to make the macabre road trip back to Bobby's with Dad in the backseat and give him a hunter's funeral. Although the word plan sounded funny to Sam now that Dad wasn't around to say it every other sentence. Stick to the plan, Sammy. Last night Dean had said, "Here's the plan." He'd trailed off for a minute, but then rallied. "We're gonna' take Dad to Bobby's. And uh, we need to stock up on lighter fluid." Sam almost asked why, but then oh.
"That's the plan," he echoed, and the word even tasted strange in his mouth, like when another hunter (Dean or Dad) thought he was acting funny and made him drink holy water: metallic and a little distrustful.
Sam climbed shakily to his overlarge feet and checked the bathroom just in case, even though he knew Dean wasn't there. Then he stood in the middle of the motel room (this one had a sci-fi theme, with lamps shaped like little rockets) and tried to come up with a plan although the word still sounded so strange.
Suddenly, Sam smelled salt and something that might have been potatoes once. Then the door opened, and Dean was standing there, holding a brown paper bag with a glistening bottom and thick golden arches on the side.
"Hey," he said.
Sam got angry, mostly because he thought it might hide the shaking. "Where the hell were you?"
"Calm down, man. I went to get breakfast."
"What the hell is wrong with you? Why didn't you leave a note? I thought you'd-"
"Hey. Enough of that." Dean put the bag down on the table, but then he didn't seem to know what to do with his hands. "I said we'd finish this together, didn't I? I'm not getting snatched by any demon. Anyway, you're the one he seems to have a boner for."
That shouldn't have been comforting, but it was, and that was Dean all over.
Sam slid into a chair while Dean figured out what to do with his hands and started unpacking the food. He'd gotten Sam a Happy Meal, which was also Dean all over, but he'd also ordered some extra-large fries to make up for it. The toy was a Hot Wheels. A Dodge Charger. Not an Impala, but not bad, Sam thought as he absently spun the wheels with the pad of his thumb.
"What do you think the demon meant by that?" he asked, about ten minutes after it would have made sense. "About having plans for me and the children like me?"
"I got an idea," said Dean.
"Let's never find out."
"Yeah," said Sam. Then, "Burgers for breakfast?"
Dean shrugged. "Egg McMuffins are gross. Anyway, these have protein, that stuff that's in bread, pickles. Everything a growing boy needs."
"Aren't you gonna' eat any?"
"I had mine on the way back to the motel."
Sam rummaged through the bag and fished out the only paper that wasn't grease-stained. "No you didn't. The receipt says you just got the Happy Meal, an apple pie and the fries."
Dean scowled. "Are you always reading, College Boy?"
"You didn't eat at all yesterday."
"Don't be such a girl. I ate."
"Beer doesn't count."
"Neither does whisky."
Dean picked up the little paper bag of fries that had come with the Happy Meal. It looked funny and tiny in his hand, like when Sam held the Charger. Dean shoved some of fries in his mouth.
"Happy?" He asked, making sure to give Sam a good view of the half-chewed fries.
"It's a start. Here." Sam passed him the apple pie. He was pretty sure he could get even a clinically depressed Dean to eat pie.
"You're just trying to fatten me up so you'll look pretty by comparison, aren't you?" But he took the pie.
"Oh, Dean," Sam shook his head. "I don't need to do that."
And Dean would leave notes for the next few weeks but he would manage to make them sound sarcastic, and they would buy lighter fluid, and someday the word plan would make sense to Sam again but by then he'd wish it didn't.