"You walk out that door, don't you ever come back!"
Sam Winchester winced a little as his father's angry voice followed him out into the warm evening. He didn't look back though. He knew he'd never be able to leave if he did that.
Sam trudged stoically through the motel parking lot, looking straight ahead as he did so, afraid he'd crumble if he caught sight of his father's black 1967 Chevrolet Impala.
Hitching his duffel bag higher onto his shoulder, Sam took a deep breath and felt a great weight lift off his chest as his sneakers touched the sidewalk.
Sam's steps faltered however, when he heard the low rumble of a car engine approach from behind, the direction of the motel.
Please don't be Dean, Sam thought desperately. If his brother pulled up in the Impala and tried to convince him to stay, Sam was sure he'd would forget all about Stanford and ride back to the motel with him in a heartbeat.
A cherry-red convertible sped up the street from behind Sam, its headlights bathing him in their glare as it passed.
Sam glanced at his watch and picked up the pace. It was a half-dozen blocks to the bus station and he had only an hour in which to get there.
The sidewalks were dark, illuminated only in patches by the orange light cast by streetlamps and Sam momentarily regretted not asking his brother for a ride.
No, Sam thought, I couldn't do that; I couldn't do that to Dean. Besides, this is my chance to show them that I can be independent. This is my chance to show Dad that I don't have to be a hunter for the rest of my life.
Dean watched silently as his brother grabbed his duffel bag and walked out the door.
Stop him, you idiot! Dean told himself but his feet seemed rooted to the spotty motel carpet.
He stared as his father turned away from the door and although the man looked as angry as Dean had ever seen him, his son also saw how lost he looked. John ran a hand through his salt-and-pepper hair and shook his head in bewildered frustration.
"Did you know about this?" John pointed one blunt finger toward the door, eyes fixed on his eldest son.
Dean shook his head mutely. Sam had kept both of them in the dark about the full-ride to Stanford.
Why didn't he tell me? Dean wondered, feeling hurt that his little brother hadn't confided in him.
"I should have seen this coming," John muttered.
Me too, Dean thought dejectedly. He knew Sam wasn't going to be gone forever, that Sam wasn't abandoning them… but the hurt was still there.
John walked into the motel room's tiny kitchenette and grabbed a couple of beers from the bar fridge, offering one to Dean.
"Thanks," Dean muttered but didn't open his. He went over to his bed instead and sat down with his hands dangling between his knees and his head lowered.
John took a swig of his own beer, not knowing what to say to his eldest boy that would be of some comfort while he was still pissed at his youngest.
"I'm sorry, sir," the elderly man drawled, "The next bus arrives at eight a.m. sharp and not before. Now, there's a nice cheap motel just down the street that will surely have some rooms if you'd like to go there-"
Sam shook his head and swiped his bus ticket off the faux-marble counter, "I'll wait here."
The geezer shrugged and Sam turned away. He stared around the nearly deserted terminal for a moment before sighing and walking over to the bank of green plastic chairs. Sam dropped his duffel bag between his feet and sat down, exhausted.
Sam pushed his bag beneath his chair with his heels and leaned back. Sam smiled at his fellow traveler calling the terminal home for the night; a middle-aged woman in a purple car coat who appeared to be fast asleep in her corner chair.
Sam fished his cell phone out of his jacket pocket and stared at its dark screen.
Maybe I should call Dean, he thought but then hesitated.
What if Dean doesn't want to talk to me? Sam thought. What if he hates me?
Sighing, Sam pocketed his phone and stood. There was a vending machine over by the counters and he could use a snack.
Fishing some money from his wallet, Sam bought a bottle of Coke and a couple of bags of potato chips. Leaning against the machine, Sam watched as the single elderly employee closed up his counter and shuffled out into the waiting area through a door marked STAFF ONLY.
The old gent raised a hand to Sam as he slipped his coat on over his scrawny shoulders and Sam smiled back at the guy, taking a sip of his soda as he did so.
"You have yourself a good evening," the old man called back to the young man.
"You too," Sam replied.
"I hope you make it to wherever your goin'" Sam frowned a little bit as the senior citizen slipped out the door, his final words sounding somewhat ominous to the ex-hunter.
Pushing himself away from the vending machine, Sam went back to his seat and tore open one of the bags of chips. The woman in the corner was still fast asleep, snoring loudly and contentedly.
Munching away on the chips, Sam allowed himself to daydream a little bit about what college would be like. Sam smiled when he thought about how normal everything was going to be. He was no longer going to be the freak kid in school with the smart-ass older brother and the overzealous, part-time Dad. He could be anybody he wanted to be for the first time in his life! He could make and keep his friends… maybe even have a girlfriend… and not have to be worried about leaving suddenly because his Dad had found another case. Sam was actually kind of excited about essays and mid-terms and study groups because they didn't involve hunting.
Sam crumbled the empty chip bag up and set it down on the chair beside him. The sound of the front door opening startled Sam and his head shot up, his heart picking up its pace.
Maybe its Dad come to drag me back to the motel, Sam thought for one panicked moment before he saw that the man who entered was not his father.
The new traveler was fat and bald with a pleasant round face, no chin and dark beady eyes. Sam relaxed slightly- though not completely- when the man waddled toward the chairs and sat down right next to him.
Great, Sam thought with a roll of his eyes, guy could choose any freakin' chair he wants and he's gotta pick the one beside me.
Sam watched the fat man from the corner of his eye and noted with slight disgust that his pasty skin had a sheen of sweat covering it.
"I'm too late for the last bus, aren't I?" the man asked.
"Uh, yeah," Sam replied, "Next one doesn't come until eight in the morning."
The man smiled, "Perfect."
Starting to feel uncomfortable, Sam shifted in his seat and decided that on the pretense of needing the restroom he could switch chairs.
Before Sam could stand though he felt a sharp pain in his hand and, looking down, frowned in confusion at the tiny bead of blood welling up against his skin.
"Wha…" the young man didn't even manage to finish his question before passing out.
The fat man reached out and placed a hand against the kid's chest to prevent him from sliding onto the floor.
The front doors opened again and a second man entered. He was young and blonde. He quickly surveyed the terminal and crossed to his partner.
"Jeez, Oscar, you got us a fucking giraffe!" the newcomer mumbled and grabbed Sam's duffel bag out from under the chair, "Quick, check his pockets."
When his partner unzipped the duffel, Oscar deposited Sam's cell phone inside. He grabbed the young man's wallet and after pocketing the cash, tossed it into the bag as well.
"Get rid of that Ritchie," Oscar hissed and the other man nodded.
"Yeah, yeah," Ritchie muttered in exasperation.
Once his partner had exited the building through the back door- toward the dumpsters to dispose of the kid's effects- Oscar heaved the unconscious young man into a fireman's carry and strolled outside.
The parking lot was dark and deserted except for a nondescript yellow panel van. Oscar marched toward the vehicle and lowered his passenger onto the pavement as he waited.
Checking his watch, the fat man tapped his foot impatiently. He sneered angrily when he caught sight of Ritchie rounding the corner of the bus depot.
"Took you long enough," Oscar grumbled and his partner opened the van's rear doors, "This stuff doesn't last forever."
"Would you get off my back?" Ritchie hissed as he helped Oscar shove the unconscious young man into the van. There was a gurney in the back- the type most often found in an ambulance- that had been lowered so Ritchie only had to push the kid onto it and strap him down. Once Ritchie was sure the boy was secure he climbed out of the back and dusted off his hands.
Slamming the doors shut, Oscar shook his head, "You know what'll happen if anyone finds us, you dipshit."
"Fuck you!" Ritchie shot back as he climbed into the driver's seat, "I know how to hide stuff. No one's gonna find the kid's crap."
Oscar just sighed and squeezed himself into the passenger's seat.
"And don't drive like a senior citizen," Oscar complained, "Doc's waiting for us."
Dean's eyes were swimming as he stared at the computer screen. He had been at this research thing for hours and had so far only had an aching back to show for it.
Sam should be here doing all this nerdy shit, Dean thought tiredly.
The young man took out his phone and scrolled down to his sibling's number.
Thumb hovering over the TALK button, Dean hesitated.
What was he going to say? Hey, Sam, how's the weather in Cali? Joke's over, you really had us going. You ready to come back and help out with this hunt?
Tucking his phone back into his pocket, Dean ran a hand through his hair and turned his attention to the computer once more.
Sam's eighteen, Dean told himself, and you know he wouldn't want you phoning every day to make sure he's eating breakfast and getting enough sleep.
Tomorrow, Dean promised himself, I'll call Sammy tomorrow.
Doctor Bates strolled into the rear parking lot- the outside lights providing enough illumination to see but not be seen in return- and made a beeline for the yellow van that had its back doors wide open.
"Ah, Oscar! Ritchie! Hope you have something good for me this time!" he took his hands from the pockets of his lab coat and raised them in a 'what am I going to do with you' gesture.
Ritchie had a grin plastered to his weasely face and Oscar elbowed him in the ribs.
"He looks okay," Oscar replied in a serious voice and shuffled out of the way so Dr. Bates could look into the back of the van.
The young man was lying flat on his back on the gurney; the straps had been undone already in anticipation of the doctor's arrival. The first thing that Bates noticed about the boy was that he was very tall and bean-pole skinny.
"Where'd you find him?" Bates asked as he removed a syringe from his pocket and leaned over so he could extract some blood from the young man for future testing.
"Bus station out in Kettering," Oscar answered right away.
"Ohio?" Bates replaced the cap on the syringe and it disappeared back into his pocket. Next he took out a needle full of a pale yellow fluid- a broad-spectrum antibiotic- that would get rid of any existing infections. He tapped the vial to release any air bubbles and lifted the boy's arm, inserting the needle into the young man's elbow slowly.
"Yessir!" Ritchie piped up and Bates cringed.
Kiss ass, the doctor thought and stood, facing the two men.
"Good work," Bates spoke with no emotion, "Now, take him inside and have him processed. You know the sedative doesn't last forever."
The two men nodded and watched the doctor walk back inside.
"C'mon," Oscar grumbled, "I've had enough of this shit for the night. Let's just get him inside so he'll be somebody else's problem."
They pulled the gurney from the back of the van and Oscar adjusted the height so that it was easier to push. Ritchie and Oscar guided their barely-conscious captive inside and strolled through a maze of hallways before stepping into an ancient elevator.
The blonde man looked down at the fringe of chestnut hair covering the boy's brow and spoke up.
"Kid can't be more than seventeen or eighteen," he muttered, "I got a younger sister who's that age."
Oscar didn't say anything.
"Wonder where he was going? You know? I mean, if he was waiting for a bus than he had to have somewhere to go," Ritchie continued, much to Oscar's annoyance. He didn't really care how old the young man was or where he was going. He was here now and that was it.
The elevator door opened at the basement level and the trio exited. Oscar and Ritchie marched down a long barren hallway, stopping the gurney momentarily only when the young man shivered and tried to talk. The sound that came out of the kid couldn't be considered a real word, it was more of a breathy huhhhhhh sound but it had Oscar moving far faster than he usually did.
"Pick up your feet!" he snarled at Ritchie but breathed a sigh of relief when they burst through a set of double doors, startling the technicians working there.
"Bates wants him processed ASAP," Oscar said with an overinflated sense of authority and shook the kid's arm a little bit for emphasis.
A couple of technicians approached the gurney as the drivers took their leave. They wore white lab coats, latex gloves and blue doctor's masks. The woman took a penlight from her pocket and shone it into the young man's eye.
"Hmm," she muttered as the boy's pupil contracted slowly, "Looks like we have about a half-hour."
"More than enough time," the man grunted and hefted the kid into a sitting position.
"Hey! Kid? Can you hear me?" the male technician said loudly and the young man peeled his glassy eyes open in response.
"Help me get him over to the chair," the man said and between the two of them dragged the young man over to a plain plastic chair that had straps on the arms.
"Don't think we'll need those," the woman commented, gesturing to the leather straps, "He's still pretty out of it."
The young man's chin was resting on his chest but he didn't slide out of his seat so the technicians got started. The man grabbed a pair of scissors from the drawer nearby and fisted a handful of the boy's hair. The male technician cut quickly, chopping off great hanks of hair so that it looked like the kid's barber had been drunk when he'd worked on him. The woman turned on an electric clipper and mowed down the rest of hair until it was nothing but dark stubble.
The young man had started to wake up during the unwanted haircut and he lifted his head, a dazed look on his face.
"D'n?" the kid muttered but the technicians paid no attention. The man pulled the kid up into a standing position and although he swayed dangerously, the boy managed to stay on his feet.
The technicians took hold of the boy's upper arms and marched him across the room toward an open shower stall. Stopping right before the stall, the male technician pulled the boy's jacket off and dropped it unceremoniously onto the white-tile floor.
The pair worked with brutal efficiency as they stripped the kid's clothes off, as if they had done this a hundred times before… and they had.
Once the young man was naked, the woman turned on the water, not bothering to check the temperature, and the man shoved the kid under the icy spray.
The boy lifted his face to stare at the showerhead as though he had never seen one before, his bewildered expression almost comical. Strong hands grabbed the boy and pulled him out from the shower and the man and woman dressed him in dark blue drawstring pants and a white t-shirt. Finally, the woman snapped a hospital-style bracelet onto the young man's wrist but instead of his name it only had a series of numbers and letters that would mean nothing to the boy.
"I think that's a record," the man smiled as he checked his watch.
"Better get him upstairs and into a room before he wakes up completely," the woman replied, returning the man's grin.
"Think you can remember how to walk?" the man asked the young man, speaking loudly.
The male technician chuckled when the boy's eyebrows furrowed in confusion but he took a shaky step forward.
"Recovering quickly… Doc Bates'll like that," the man took hold of the boy's upper arm and he and the woman led the young man back the way he had come, to the same elevator but this time they went going up.
As they climbed higher, the young man shook his head as though trying to clear it. He blinked a couple of times and he peered around the elevator confusedly.
"Wha… where…" he tried but couldn't seem to figure out how to say exactly what he wanted to.
Once the elevator reached the desired floor the technicians led the confused young man down a hallway lined with metal doors. The boy's head snapped up suddenly when he heard a cry coming from inside one of the rooms.
At the end of the hall, the man opened a door and quickly peered into the room.
"In you go," the woman said in a cheery voice and pushed the boy forward. The young man stumbled into the room and collapsed.
The man closed the door and locked it.
Sighing, the woman pulled down her mask, "Hopefully that's the last one tonight."
The man nodded, "Care to have a drink with me?"
The woman smirked, "In your dreams!"
Laughing together, the technicians strolled down the hallway, their footsteps loud on the tiled floor.
1. Dedicated to MysteryMadchen. Your idea into words.
2. I am not a medical professional; my knowledge comes only from television and the Internet so please disregard any glaring errors.
3. Please leave a review! I love hearing what you think!