Thanks go to Gredelia1 for pre-reading and to Snarkymuch2 for giving me this plot bunny.
Sam pulled on his jacket and grabbed the keys from the side-table. "I'm heading out for pizza. You want anything?"
"Beer," Dean called from the couch. "And pie."
Sam nodded. "Pie, got it."
Dean turned his attention from the TV and scowled at Sam. "You better have it. I don't want cake. I don't want tart. I want pie!"
Sam grinned. "When have I ever forgotten the pie?"
"Too many times to count."
Sam turned to where Bobby was seated behind his desk. "You need anything?"
Bobby looked up from the book he was reading and yawned. "A bottle of the good stuff."
Sam nodded and headed out of the door. He climbed into the Impala and turned the key in the ignition. The engine roared to life, vibrating the seat. Sam enjoyed the feel of being in the car, it was familiar and comforting, and he needed a little comfort after their encounter with Eve. She may be dead and defeated now, but the time she had spoken while wearing the guise of Mary Winchester had troubled Sam. He wondered how Dean felt about it. He didn't ask—Dean would only accuse him of instigating a chick flick moment—but he still wondered.
When he came to the town, he pulled up in front of the pizzeria. Patting the hood as he passed, he opened the door to the restaurant, smiling as he heard the bell tinkle overhead. He and Dean came by here a lot when staying at Bobby's, and they had an amiable relationship with the owner and his wife.
"Sam." Marcus, the owner, greeted him as he stepped inside. "What can I get for you this evening?"
Sam smiled at the welcome. He and Dean had never had a real home, not since Dean was four years old anyway, but Sioux Falls was as close as they'd come. There was a nice community feel to the place, and that, coupled with the friendly Sheriff Mills, made them feel at home.
"I'd like two large with the works, please," Sam said.
Marcus nodded and called through the hatch to the kitchen. "Two Winchester specials!"
There was an answering call and Marcus nodded.
Sam opened his wallet and handed over the bills to cover his order.
"How are you and that brother of yours?" Marcus asked.
"We're good," Sam said, pulling up one of the stools and sitting at the counter. "Been busy here?"
Marcus spread his arms, gesturing to the almost empty restaurant.
"It's early," Sam reasoned.
He nodded. "True. I am hoping for more later." There was a call from the kitchen and Marcus excused himself.
Sam pulled over a newspaper that was on the counter and flipped through it. He didn't find anything hinting towards a hunt, and he closed it with a sigh. Maybe, now that Eve was defeated, they'd have a few days of peace before the next fugly reared its head. He hoped so.
Marcus came out of the kitchen laden with two large boxes and he handed them to Sam. "Enjoy."
"I'm sure I will," Sam said. Waving goodbye, he left the restaurant and went out to the car. He set the boxes on the roof as he reached into his pocket for the keys.
Suddenly, the hairs on the back of his neck prickled, and he turned to look around the small parking lot. There was no one that he could see, but he was sure he wasn't alone. He reached slowly for the back of his jeans before remembering that he hadn't brought out his gun with him. Cursing his stupidity, he hurried to unlock the car door. The key snagged in the lock and he fumbled with it. His palms were sweating. He didn't know how or why, but he sensed he was in trouble.
Sam spun on his heel. The voice was soft, so soft it might just have been the wind passing through the trees at the edge of the parking lot, but he didn't think it was.
"Who's there?" he asked, pleased to find that his voice was steady, betraying none of his fear.
Sam quit trying to unlock the car door, and he reached for his phone. His fingers shook as he dialed the number, but before the call could connect, he felt a presence behind him. He turned but saw nothing. A split second later, irresistible lethargy swept through him, and he felt himself falling as his vision darkened and he lost consciousness.
Dean was just settling into the plot of the movie when he heard the phone ring and Bobby's gruff voice answering. He returned his attention to the movie playing out on the TV and thought of the pizza his brother had gone to get. His stomach rumbled in anticipation.
"Dean!" Bobby called. "Get in here."
There was something in Bobby's tone that played on Dean's instincts. He sounded worried. Dean jumped up and marched into the study. "What's up?"
Bobby covered the mouthpiece of the phone and spoke to Dean. "It's Sheriff Mills. She's looking for Sam. What have you boys been doing?"
Dean shrugged. He couldn't think of any reason Sheriff Mills would be looking for Sam. They hadn't done anything in town worthy of her attention.
"She wants to talk to you," Bobby said.
Dean reached for the phone with a sense of trepidation in his stomach. What had Sam done now? Had something happened to him?
"Are you and Sam playing some kind of game with Marcus Carrolli?"
Dean's eyebrows rose. "Who?"
"The owner of the Pizzeria Italia on Main Street."
"Sure, I know who you mean. What about him?"
"He called up saying Sam's disappeared."
Dean's jaw tightened. "What exactly did he say?"
"That your car was left in the parking lot and that the pizzas Sam brought were on the roof but Sam was nowhere in sight."
Dean looked to Bobby, worry clawing at him. "I don't know what you're talking about, Sheriff," he said. "Me and Sam aren't screwing around with anyone. Something's happened."
"My kind of something or your kind?" Her tone was businesslike with an undercurrent of concern.
"I don't know," Dean said. "Look, no offence, but I've gotta get off the phone. I need to check out the scene."
"Okay, Dean. Well, you—"
Dean didn't hear anymore. He tossed the phone back to Bobby and reached for his jacket.
"What's going on?" Bobby asked.
"Something's happened to Sam," Dean said. "The car and the pizza he went to get are in the parking lot of the pizza place but Sam's nowhere in sight."
Bobby got to his feet and grabbed his own jacket from the back of the chair he was sitting on. "Well, let's not waste time kicking our heels here. Let's get down there."
Dean was already at the door as Bobby finished speaking. They hurried out to Bobby's Chevelle, and Bobby tossed Dean the keys. Dean was glad of it. He was anxious and overwhelmed and he didn't think he would have the patience to sit quietly in the passenger seat while Bobby drove. He needed to be doing something.
When he had Bobby were in, he started the engine and steered them through the stacks of junkers to the main road. When they were clear of the junkyard, Dean pressed down on the accelerator and coaxed some speed out of the dilapidated engine.
"He'll be fine," Bobby said encouragingly. "He might just have left the car there while he went to the grocery store to pick up your pie."
"With the pizza on the roof?" Dean asked, his hands tightening on the steering wheel.
Bobby rubbed a hand over his beard. "He could have just… I don't know, forgotten."
Dean shook his head. There was something more happening here. He could feel it in his gut. Something had happened to Sam.
Sam's mental wall occurred to him. Had something happened to shatter it? Was he going to find his brother motionless on the floor somewhere, trapped inside memories of Hell, or would it be something worse?
He closed his eyes for a second, pushing the thoughts away, and then opened them and concentrated on the road once again. Fixing his attention on the present helped stop his mind rushing away with him to worst-case scenarios.
When he pulled onto Main Street, he saw the patrol car parked beside the Impala and knew Sheriff Mills was there. He was glad of her presence. She might be able to help. He pulled the car to a halt and climbed out.
Standing beside Sheriff Mills was Marcus, a man Dean had met a few times when coming to pick up pizza. He looked tense and worried.
"What happened?" Dean asked the man as soon as he was within a few feet of him.
"Sam came in. He brought pizza and we talked," Marcus said. "Just like any other time. He left and I went to work in the kitchen. When I came back, I saw the car was still here. I came out, to make sure Sam was okay, but he wasn't here. The pizzas were on the roof of the car, and the key was in the lock."
Dean's eyes widened. The sheriff hadn't shared that little nugget of information. Whatever had happened to Sam had happened fast if he hadn't had a chance to get into the safety of the car.
"I've scoped around," the sheriff said, "but he's not here. I've got my patrol guys out looking."
Dean nodded. "Thanks."
He pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialed Sam's number from memory. There was a brief moment of silence and then Dean heard a familiar ringtone coming from the bushes at the edge of the parking lot. He and Bobby exchanged a dark look. Dean crossed to the bushes, and batted away the thorns that bit at his jacket sleeves. He bent down and extricated the small phone from the dirt. The screen was busted but it was still in working order. Dean's own name flashed up at him from through the cracked plastic.
"It's Sam's," he said, turning back to look at Bobby and the sheriff.
Bobby scrubbed a hand over his tense face. "Maybe he dropped it."
Dean raised his eyebrows. "You think?"
Bobby shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know."
Dean shook his head. "Sammy wouldn't leave it lying around." He pocketed the phone and crossed back to the car. He pulled the keys out of the lock and tossed them from palm to palm, his mind working overtime. He knew what he needed to do next, but he couldn't do it under the watchful eye of Marcus.
"I'm going to scout around," he said, crossing the parking lot and moving to the rear of the restaurant. Part of him was still worried he would find Sam on the floor, hidden behind one of the dumpsters, but when he looked, he saw they were void of any welcome sign of his brother.
When he was sure he was out of sight, he raised his eyes heavenward. "Cas, I need you, buddy. It's Sam."
There was a rusting sound, like sails in the wind, and then Castiel was there. "Dean?"
"Sam's disappeared," Dean said.
Castiel's brow furrowed with concern. "What happened?"
"Sam went on a food run and he didn't come back. The car was left here with the pizzas on the roof, but Sam is gone." He raked a hand through his hair. "He's just disappeared, Cas."
"You believe the wall could be damaged?"
"I don't know what to think. Sam wouldn't just walk off on his own."
"No, I do not think he would," Castiel said somberly. "The wall could have been compromised, though I doubt it. You said that he was rendered unconscious the last time some of the memories slipped through."
"Yeah, but we're going blind with this wall thing. He could be wandering around with no clue who he is."
Castiel nodded. "It is troublesome. What do you want me to do?"
"Can you have a look around? I'm going to check the town, but there is only so much I can do. Having an angel on the lookout would be awesome."
"Of course. I will do all I can. If you have need of me, pray."
That said, Castiel disappeared with a faint rustling sound and Dean was left alone in the alley. He turned and made his way back to Bobby and the sheriff, fear gripping his chest. Despite all the people on side to help him look, he couldn't keep away the thought that if they found Sam, it would be too late.