Summary: Season One – Hurt, Missing Sam / Worried Big Brother Dean – Dean shifted where he sat; an uneasy feeling twisting his stomach as he read the words once more on the small screen of his phone and stared at the unfamiliar email address that had sent them. Because he only had one thing in his life that would fit the description of an Achilles heel...and the kid wasn't there right now.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Warnings: Usual language.
A/N: Inspired by the E/O Challenge word-of-the-week (Achilles heel).
If you can, hold on. ~ The Killers
The email was unexpected; the subject line even more so – Your Achilles Heel.
Dean arched an eyebrow. "Oookay..." he muttered to the empty motel room, confusion coloring his tone as he pushed aside the newspaper and muted the television across the room, reading those three words again on his phone's screen.
Your Achilles Heel.
Dean shifted from where he sat propped against the headboard on the bed closest to the door; an uneasy feeling twisting his stomach as he read the words once more on the small screen of his phone and stared at the unfamiliar email address that had sent them.
Your Achilles Heel.
Because he only had one thing in his life that would fit that description...and the kid wasn't there right now.
Dean glanced at the bed next to his; Sam's laptop still open from where his brother had left it before going out to get them dinner from the diner down the street.
...which had been – Dean glanced at his watch – almost an hour ago.
"Dammit..." Dean swore, sighing harshly at the realization that between watching television and browsing the newspaper for possible hunts, he had lost track of time since Sam had left.
But the diner was within walking distance and shouldn't have taken Sam this long.
The kid should have been back by now.
Dean sighed again and then refocused on his phone.
Your Achilles Heel.
It could only mean one thing, one person.
Dread crawling up his spine, Dean opened the message and blinked at the three new words in the body of the email.
Hi, Big Brother.
Dean narrowed his eyes at the written greeting; his heart hammering in his chest as the uneasy feeling from before instantly solidified into concrete fear.
"Sam..." Dean called on instinct, now knowing without a doubt who this email was about even though he still didn't know who had sent it.
Dean stood – overwhelmed by the need to move, to do something – but paused as his attention flickered to the tiny paperclip now visible beneath the subject line indicating there was an attachment...a photo attachment.
And Dean could guess who he would see – a floppy-haired kid brother who was apparently missing.
Dean shook his head in denial – because he had just seen Sam hardly an hour ago – and exhaled slowly and deliberately; briefly closing his eyes before swallowing against the increasing panic and clicking on the attached photo.
Dean paced the length of the room while the file downloaded; pissed that someone – something? – had snatched his brother; scared of what they – it? – had done to him; and willing the photo to be of a living, breathing Sam.
Dean could handle anything else as long as Sam was still alive.
Because Dean refused to think of the kid being dead; of some sicko sending him a photo of his brother's corpse for kicks.
Though Dean knew such people – such things – existed.
Dean shook his head again, rejecting the idea that Sam had been killed in the time it took the kid to go get dinner.
"C'mon, Sam..." Dean growled instead, willing his brother to be alive and hating how helpless he felt as he continued to pace; his thoughts already turning toward some sort of plan.
Several seconds passed.
The phone dinged.
Dean instantly stopped in the middle of the motel room; his attention focused on one thing.
And as expected, there he was – Sam.
The kid stared straight at him from the small screen; his mouth stretched tight from the gag tied around his face; his eyes wide with fear and panic; his expression slightly dazed and pinched with pain; his intense gaze calling Dean's name.
The big brother heard it as clearly as if Sam had actually said it.
"Sammy..." Dean whispered in response and brought the phone closer to his face, squinting to better examine the details in the dimly lit photo.
Sam sat against a wall; his arms bound above his head; his hands fisted and crossed at his wrists; his flesh already raw from struggling against the rough rope that held him; his knuckles scraped and smeared with blood.
Whoever took Sam didn't do so without a fight.
Dean nodded his approval. "Atta boy, Sammy..." he praised, feeling a rush of pride that although his brother had been living safe and normal at Stanford for the past few years, the kid was apparently still the scrapper Dean had raised him to be.
But whoever had taken Sam had given as well as he had got.
Because the kid's right cheek was bruised and his eye swollen; his bottom lip split; his bangs matted with sweat and blood.
Dean clenched his jaw as rage surged through him; his gaze once again traveling over Sam's battered face as he silently seethed at whoever had dared to not only take his brother but to hurt the kid as well.
"Your ass is mine," Dean vowed to the faceless, nameless asshole who had been so bold as to send him a photo of a beaten, bound Sam.
Add in the taunting words in the cryptic email...
Dean glared at the phone. "Mine," he promised, already looking forward to kicking ass and reclaiming what belonged to him.
Dean nodded at the general plan, having no idea how he was going to find Sam but needing to be on the road, to be in the Impala and actively looking for his brother.
Because Dean wasn't going to sleep tonight without Sam in the bed next to his.
He had already lived that nightmare for too many years while Sam had been at Stanford.
And now that Sam was back with him, Dean wasn't letting the kid go.
"Hold on, Sammy..." Dean urged his brother, grabbing his leather jacket from the back of one of the chairs in the corner and crossing to the door; slipping on his jacket and reaching for the doorknob when his phone suddenly rang.
Dean froze mid-step, releasing the doorknob and staring at the unfamiliar number insistently flashing on the screen.
And although Dean didn't recognize the number, he knew exactly who it would be.
Didn't know the name but knew the person; knew whoever had taken Sam was calling to make sure Dean had received the email...and more importantly, the photo.
The phone continued to ring; the loud, obnoxious, badass intro of Smoke On the Water blaring in the silence of the motel room.
"Answer the damn phone, Dean!" Sam would have probably bitched if he had been there.
Dean could almost see the kid glaring his annoyance at him over the laptop's screen from where Sam would have been sitting on the bed.
But Sam wasn't there.
Sam was tied up somewhere; was bleeding and scared; was at the mercy of whoever – or whatever – had taken him.
Dean shook his head, scattering those thoughts, and answered his phone; pressing the button to accept the call and then lifting the phone to his ear.
Listening but not speaking.
There were several seconds of silence; of no sound except the barely perceptible whisper of someone breathing on the opposite end of the line.
Dean narrowed his eyes as he waited, his grip tightening on the phone.
There was more silence.
Dean blinked at the voice he would recognize anywhere. "Dad?"
The voice chuckled. "That's what Sam thought, too..." it commented smugly. "But then he realized..." The voice paused. "Didn't take him long, either," it reported, sounding almost impressed. "Guess you can take the hunter out of hunting, but you can never really take the instinct of hunting out of the hunter."
...which sounded like the kind of self-reflective bullshit a shifter would say.
Which would make sense – especially since it just revealed that it wasn't John Winchester...although it sounded just like him. And especially since it said that Sam had originally thought it was their dad but then had realized it wasn't...which meant it had to be a shifter.
Dean nodded in agreement with himself, a smile twitching on his lips because he knew how to kill a shifter.
All he had to do was find the sonuvabitch.
"Gonna be hard to kill something that looks like Daddy," the shifter taunted over the phone line as if it could sense Dean's thoughts.
Dean shook his head. "I wouldn't be so sure," he coolly informed.
Because nothing was hard to kill if it threatened Sam; not even the real John Winchester would be safe if it ever came down to Dean having to choose between dad and little brother.
And John knew it, too.
...which meant the shifter knew it.
There was silence.
"Where's Sam?" Dean demanded, holding the phone tightly against his ear as he listened intently for any clues in the background to the shifter's location.
"He's a little tied up right now," the shifter replied and then chuckled at its own clever joke. "Get it?"
Yeah, he got it.
And the shifter was going to get it, too...right through the fucking chest with a silver knife.
"Where is he?" Dean rephrased, still asking about Sam.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" the shifter teased.
Dean's right hand curled into a fist as it hung by his side. "Where is he?" he yelled into the phone.
"Dean..." the shifter calmly replied, sounding so much like John that it made Dean's skin crawl. "I think you know."
Because what the hell was that supposed to mean?
Unless the shifter was referring to the general location preferences of its kind...which would mean dark and damp...which would imply the sewer.
The dimly lit photo of Sam flashed in Dean's mind before he nodded, having his first lead and crossing to the motel room's door to pursue it.
Because he was getting Sam back tonight.
Even though Dean was sure he was walking into a trap of some sort.
The shifter chuckled, listening to Dean's movement on the opposite end of the line and knowing Dean was coming for him...just like he had planned when he had first snatched the youngest Winchester.
"Daddy would be proud," the shifter praised. "His good little soldier following his training and coming to little Sammy's rescue...again."
"Shut up," Dean barked, unlocking the Impala's trunk and grabbing his weapon of choice for the job at hand.
"Would you like to know what Daddy really thinks about you?"
"No," Dean replied bluntly, knowing the shifter was privy to John's thoughts but not wanting to hear the supernatural creature's spin on them. "Let me talk to Sam."
"No," the shifter replied just as bluntly. "Next question."
Dean glared, opening the driver's side door of the Impala and sliding behind the steering wheel. "It wasn't a question. Let me talk to Sam."
"He's fine," the shifter assured.
Dean snorted at the lie – because he had seen the photo of his brother's battered face – and cranked the Impala.
"You don't believe your own father?" the shifter challenged, his tone mocking.
"You're not my dad," Dean sharply corrected, leaving the motel's parking lot and heading downtown toward the diner where Sam was most likely last seen. "But since you brought him up...where is my dad?"
Because that was certainly a concern.
And although Sam was Dean's first priority, John would be next on his list to find.
"Don't know, don't care..." the shifter responded about John's location, clearly bored...and clearly telling the truth. "Haven't seen him since a few states back."
Dean took in the information, checking his rearview and glancing at the silver knife currently riding shotgun before refocusing on the road.
"Doesn't really matter, though..." the shifter continued. "'Cause I feel a change coming on..."
Dean glared, knowing what that meant – that the shifter was literally about to change appearances, which would make it harder to track and find since it could be absolutely anybody.
The shifter chuckled, knowing Dean knew. "Hope you find your little brother. Happy hunting..." it taunted cheerily and then abruptly ended the call.
Dean growled his annoyance as he clenched his jaw and snapped his phone shut; sighing harshly as he glanced again at the passenger seat and feeling freshly determined to find his brother...and then find the shifter...and then figure out where the hell John was.
Dean nodded, his grip tightening on the steering wheel as he pressed harder on the gas pedal; the Impala's engine rumbling as if she sensed the urgency to find their missing youngest.
"Hold on, Sammy..." Dean urged, again visualizing the photo of his beaten brother and again glancing at the passenger seat where the kid belonged. "I'm coming."