Disclaimer: Not mine, just playing in the sandbox.
Ratings/Warnings: T rating for swearing.
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Murphy9202, mb64, applepieisnice, Demon Majick, angela, that random girl, reannablue, twomoms
Special THANK YOU to Beaignu for assisting as my beta.
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Chapter Five: Heading West
Dean awoke to what was quite possibly the worst hangover of his life. He worked his jaw and tongue, attempting to alleviate the cottonmouth feeling, while staring up at the water-stained ceiling. The cloud of numbness pressing down on his limbs was slowly dispersing and he rolled his head to look over at Sam's empty bed. From this angle, he could see the alarm clock displaying 1:08pm. He groaned at the pounding headache, trying to remember exactly what had happened last night. He remembered playing a few rounds of pool but what followed was nothing but an indistinguishable blur.
He sat up quickly and realized this was a horrible idea, immediately regretting the movement as his stomach rebelled. Dean threw himself toward the bathroom and barely made it over the porcelain before last night's dinner rushed out of his mouth. He heaved several more times before sitting back on the grimy ceramic floor tiles and leaning against the side of the tub, taking deep breaths while waiting for the nausea to subside.
Once he had cooled off a bit, Dean made another attempt to stand up, slowly. Although his gut was still twisting uncomfortably, he didn't feel the same urge to expel his insides. He flushed down the fowl smelling bile and made his way back to the bed. Noticing that a good fifteen minutes had passed, Dean wondered briefly where Sam had gone. He didn't see any notes on the tables tops as he looked around the room and figured his brother had just made a run for food. Despite vomiting minutes before, his stomach growled in anticipation; and Dean suddenly felt like he hadn't eaten for days. Hopefully, his brother would be back soon.
He caught a whiff of something unpleasant and glanced around the room again before pawing at his own clothes. He wrinkled his nose when he realized the mixed scent of body odor, sweat, and liquor was coming from him. A quick shower and change of clothes was definitely in order, and he decided this afternoon would probably be a good time to make a trip to the laundromat.
After about twenty minutes under the hot water, Dean emerged from the bathroom feeling clean and refreshed. He pulled the collar of the new t-shirt up from his neck and gave it a long sniff, satisfied that the scent of last night's escapades was gone. He tucked the bundle of dirty clothes into his duffle and looked around the room again. Where the Hell was Sam? It had been almost an hour since Dean woke up and that was more than enough time for a food run. He crossed over to his bed to retrieve the cell phone from his jacket.
The phone display lit up to show five missed calls from Bobby Singer. Dean rolled his eyes; was one friggin week away from the hunt too much to ask for, dammit. Opting to ignore the older hunter's calls for the time being, Dean dialed Sam and waited impatiently for his brother to pick up the line. As he paced the small motel room, he started to notice other items that were missing: Sam's coat and duffel. Voicemail picked up after a minute and Dean snapped the phone shut. He peeked through a gap in the curtains to confirm the Impala was still safely parked outside their room — it was.
Dean was just about to dial again when his phone vibrated, causing him to jump slightly before answering. "Sam?"
"No, idgit. It's about time you picked up." Bobby scolded.
"Christ Bobby, what the Hell? I told you last night we were taking break and you couldn't hold off calling for even twenty-four hours." Dean snapped as another thought came to him. "Where is Sam? You sent him on a hunt, didn't you." He shouted accusingly.
"First of all, we talked Friday; today is Sunday. And I don't have a clue where your brother is 'cause he ain't answering his phone either." The older hunter growled back, annoyed. "You want some time off — I get it — but the way trouble finds you boys…" Bobby trailed off, not wanting piss Dean off further by admitting he had been calling about a case. He honestly hadn't thought the Winchesters could handle the downtime for a full week — well, maybe Dean could with his more licentious 'extracurricular activities', but it was hard to picture Sam going a day without doing some kind of research. Speaking of the latter, "Wait, Sam's gone?"
"Yea. Wasn't here when I woke up this afternoon. Hold up… its been two days?" Dean's mind spun and for a moment, and he thought he might hurl again. A knot of worry dropped into his gut. He hadn't blacked out from drinking since high school, but he sure as shit had never lost this much time. He had a vague recollection from earlier Friday night about his brother being concerned he would drink too much. "Bobby, I gotta call you back. I'm gonna try Sam's cell again."
"Is everything okay?"
"Not sure yet. He might just be having a bitch fit."
"Well, let me know what you find out. Might wanna consider microchipping the kid. Heck, I'll even pitch in on the cost."
"Yea, thanks for the advice." Was Dean's dry reply as he hung up and tried dialing his brother again. After several rings, the call went right back to voicemail. "Hey, its me. Look, I'm not sure what happened the other night… don't remember much. If you're pissed at me, I get it. Just call or text; let me know you're okay."
Dean dropped heavily on his bed while pinching the bridge of his nose — his headache continuing to pulse since he'd woken up, and now further provoked by the stress of not knowing where Sam went. He stared down at the phone in his hand, urging it to ring when something under the other bed caught his eye. Just barely in sight, beneath the draped comforter was a rounded white object. Dean crouched down to retrieve the out of place item and pulled out one of Sam's sneakers. A strangling, sick feeling overwhelmed him as he sat back on the carpeting. During the rabbit's foot fiasco a couple weeks back, Sam had lost his other pair of shoes when the left one fell into a sewer. There was no way his brother left the room willingly without his shoes.
Now that Dean had made this discovery and was sitting on the floor, some new clues in this mystery came to light. He crawled over to the desk and picked up the slightly crumpled ten dollar bill from the small space under the furniture. At close range, multiple dark speckles on the carpet stood out boldly from the rest of the fibers. Dean raced to the bathroom and brought back damped clump of toilet paper. He scrubbed lightly at the stains and pulled back, noticing the once white material was now an incriminating shade of red.
"Son of a bitch." He growled, because someone was definitely attacked in this room and there would be Hell to pay if this blood belonged to his little brother.
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The Impala rolled over the loose gravel outside the shady bar he and Sam had visited Friday. After doing a few circles on foot around the motel and not finding any further leads, Dean had hastily packed his stuff and decided his best course of action would be to hunt down someone who might be able to fill in his memory gaps from the last couple days. At this time in the afternoon, only one other car was parked in the lot and Dean hoped the person it belonged to would have some information for him.
Dean was unable to pull the worn door open and knocked loudly. After a few minutes with no answer, he pounded harder and continued the racket until a muffled voice from within responded, "Not open on Sundays. Come back tomorrow 'round three-ish."
"Wait," Dean hollered back, "not hear to drink, just need information." Silence followed. "PLEASE! It's an emergency!" Dean waited a few minutes and let out a frustrated sigh as he headed back to the car to figure out his next move. There was a sharp clasping noise behind him and he whirled around to face the stocky bartender, recognizing him from their Friday visit.
"What sort of emergency?" He replied gruffly. "Hey, I know you. The lightweight from the other night."
Dean stared at him in disbelief. "Lightweight?"
"Yea, been a long time since we've had anyone drop after his fifth beer." The chuckle following his statement shook the heavier man's gut.
"About that," Dean started after a slight snarl, deciding to play the assumed role, "What happened after I was out? Don't really remember much."
"Well, your two pals dragged you out — said they was takin' you home — and that's the last I saw of you 'til now."
The two names suddenly came back in stark contrast to the rest of the blurry night. "Oh, right Dave and Ryan. That was actually the first time I'd met them. Haven't been able to find the tall guy I came in with the other night and was hopin' they might know where he got to. Think you could give me an address or number for them?"
"Got nothin' for you on that." The bartender replied, folding his arms and leaning into the door frame. "I ain't never seen those guys before and they weren't back last night."
Dean gaped at the older man with a look of pure confusion, "But they said they were regulars."
"Nope. I've owned this here bar over twenty years, and I've never even seen them 'round town."
Alarm bells immediately went off in Dean's head and, as if it had clued in on the conversation, Dean's phone started to ring. He glanced at the caller ID and looked backed to the bartender, excusing himself. "Sorry to bother you. This uh, might be him now. Thanks for your time."
Dean flipped open the phone while turning back to the Impala. "Bobby, did you hear from him?"
"Not exactly. I was able to get his GPS turned on though. Signal's coming from a town called Canton in Illinois. Where you at?"
"Not there," Dean replied grimly, "I'm a state over — Knightstown, Indiana." Dean sat behind the driver's wheel and fought the urge to put his fist through the dash. "I think we were played by these guys we met at a bar Friday. They seemed friendly enough, but I just found out their whole backstory was a sham."
"You think they grabbed Sam and took off?"
"I don't know man, but this whole situation just reeks of a set up. I'm gonna see if I can get any security footage from the motel — maybe I can get a clear shot of those two asshats or what they were drivin' — then I'll head over to Illinois."
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Dean made record time on the drive and was pulling into Canton just after dusk. He had swung back by the Knightstown motel just before leaving Indiana, and from the black and white footage captured by the parking lot camera, he also had a lead. Just before 3:00am, the film picked up a pale colored cargo van backing into a space right in front of their room. The van shifted slightly each time someone exited or entered, but the surveillance angle only displayed the passenger side and front, so he couldn't identify who was operating the vehicle. The vehicle pulled away with only one person in the cab area, but Dean had a feeling he knew the identity of a least one cargo passenger.
For a while, Dean just cruised the streets of Canton, hoping to run into a vehicle similar to the one incriminated by the security footage. Unfortunately, the town was so small there really wasn't much area to scour. He was just about to pass through the deserted town square for a fifth time when the expected call finally came.
"Bout time." His snippy answer was the result of a long and frustrating day.
"Stow the attitude, boy," Bobby growled stressfully, "I been workin' my ass off and it took longer than expected to get a more definite location on Sam's phone — called in a favor to a paranoid old coot who owes me a few. Should be off Main Street, right by the corner of Elm; a place called Emporium. We were also able to get the plates magnified on the video you sent me of the van: 1120BAB, Florida."
"Thanks, Bobby. I'm like a block away. Check back with you in a bit."
Dean hit the gas hard and barely heard the older hunter say, "You'd better," before he had snapped the phone shut. Within a minute, he was pulling into an empty lot behind the store. He slowly coasted into a space and closed the Impala's door softly when getting out so it barely made a sound. He stuck to the shadows alongside the building until he got to the door. The old lock was easy to pick and he carefully edged the door open, Desert Eagle and flashlight up and ready as he stepped into the dark room.
He spent a moment just listening for anything to shatter the silence before moving further into the shop. Dean weaved through the display cases, checking every corner with the bright beam of his torch. As he soon found out, there really wasn't need for much caution; there was no one else in the building. He slammed his flashlight down in exasperation and the glass counter made a crackling sound as it fractured beneath the force.
An idea came to Dean as he pulled his cell phone out and flipped through the contacts. He listened intently as Sam's phone started to ring through the receiver, figuring if his brother's phone was still here, he should be able to hear it.
Dean attempted calling two more times before he made his way back through the storage room. He stepped out the rear door, phone still open and loose in his hand, finishing its last few rings. Just as he stepped onto the pavement, he heard the corresponding ringtone and prayed his mind wasn't playing tricks. A flare of hope shot through him as he hit redial and the music started again.
He dashed to his right and found the noise to be reverberating from within an industrial-sized green dumpster. "SAMMY!" He called while thrusting open the plastic black cover. The bin was almost full, but resting at the top of the mound was Sam's navy-blue duffel bag and brown coat. He pulled both items out and sat them on the ground, quickly locating Sam's phone tucked in one of the coat pockets. He stuffed the phone into his own jacket and vaulted into the dumpster without a second thought.
Dean sifted through the used packaging and folded boxes for several minutes in a panicked flurry, digging through to older trash from earlier in the week, and ignoring the foul smells of heat-baked and spoiled lunches. He took several deep breaths after his exertions and ran through a long list of curse words when his search failed to yield an over-sized, shaggy-haired little brother.
He ungracefully dropped back onto the pavement and rooted through Sam's discarded belongings for any possible clues. No results. Dean looked critically around the rest of the bare parking lot, suddenly at a loss for what to do next. He turned to the one source he could always count on for solid advise and raised the phone to his ear.
"Dean, did you find anything?" Bobby's concerned voice didn't do much to settle Dean's nerves.
"His duffel and coat were in a dumpster behind the store, but there's nothing else here. No sign of anyone. Its like they just dumped his stuff and left." Dean was crestfallen by the lack of evidence. More than anything, he wanted his brother back and punishing the responsible persons was a close second on his wish list. "Please tell me you have a next move on this."
"Frank, the guy who tracked the cell GPS, was able to pull some video from a hidden traffic cam with a time stamp early Saturday morning. We got a shot of the same cargo van pulling off Main into the lot behind the store. About fifteen minutes later, it makes a left back onto Main. Just before the van pulls out, another vehicle — sports car lookin' — pulls up along its far side and turns the opposite direction. Unfortunately, the van blocks the view of the driver and the plates, but I'm thinking there was a trade-off done in the parking lot. Frank's got a red flag alert out for the plates; if the police find the van abandoned or pull it over on violation, we'll get an immediate hit on the location."
"That's great Bobby, but what are we supposed to do in the meantime, twiddle our thumbs?" Bobby ignored Dean's aggravated tone, easily empathizing with the emotions the younger hunter had to be feeling.
"We don't have much of a lead at this point, but I think it's highly unlikely Sam's still in Canton. Why don't you head over this way? If the stopping point to ditch his clothes was in Illinois, its a safe bet to say they're still heading West." Bobby paused, listening to the slightly strained breaths on the other end of the line, and attempted to reassure the younger man. "We'll figure this out, Dean."
"Yea… okay," Dean responded dishearteningly, "I'll be there soon."
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