The office was closed by the time Dean reached it and there was not a car in sight. He figured he might try is luck at the breakfast place and jogged down the path toward the parking lot. It took him a while to realize that the path to that parking lot was a lot longer than it had been earlier and he finally came to a stop, a little winded and a lot upset. "What the hell?" he muttered and glanced around. There was nothing but dense forest around him and the silence was almost overwhelming. There wasn't even the occasional twitter of a bird or the rustle of small animals in the undergrowth.

Disconcerted, he took one step backward, then another, while actually expecting something dark and dangerous to attack him. But nothing happened. The forest was eerily quiet and there was no castle and no parking lot anywhere within sight. "This place is majorly messed up," he muttered and decided he might have better luck at the main road. He turned and started back toward the office, some part of him expecting that there wouldn't be that any more either. But fifteen minutes later, he caught sight of it and came to a stop next to the building while watching the bend in the road and the last stretch that connected to the main road up ahead.

He glanced down toward the cabins, then back up toward the main road again. There was nobody around, which in and off itself should have bothered him a lot more a lot earlier. Why were there no other guests in this place? And what the hell was wrong with Whitefish in general? "Frigging supernatural mystery, this," he growled and decided to hike up to the main road to either hitch a ride into town or steal a car somewhere.

Just when that thought materialized, the sound of a very familiar engine reached him and a second later the Impala turned down the road toward the office and the cabins beyond. Dean stepped forward and stopped at the edge of the road to make sure Sam saw him and the Impala pulled to a stop right next to him. He just stood there for a second, trying to keep his anger in check, well aware that most of it was nothing but deeply suppressed fear. Then he yanked the passenger side door open and leaned forward to give Sam a trademark glare. "Where the hell were you?" he demanded.

Sam's posture made his anger simmer down and replaced it with confusion. He just sat there, a light smirk on his lips, his right arm draped over the back of the seat. "Calm down, Dean. I just took a ride," he countered, his tone a tad condescending.

"A ride?" Dean asked. "In my car? Without asking for permission? And without telling me where you were going or that you were going?" The anger rose in him again. "Are you out of your frigging mind? Do you have any idea how worried I was?"

Sam's smirk stayed on, disconcerting in its unfamiliarity, and he shook his head lightly and focused forward. "Aw, I'm touched," he said, his tone dripping with sarcasm. "Get in unless you want to walk back to the cabin."

To say that Dean was worried now was the understatement of the year, but he did get in the car and tried not to stare at his brother for the short ride to the cabin. As soon as the engine died, he got out and slammed the door, then strode around the car and grabbed Sam by the front of his jacket the second he had climbed out of the driver seat. "You can cut the attitude, okay?" he snarled. "With all that's been going on, you do not frigging go anywhere without telling me about it, do you get that?"

Under normal circumstances, Sam should have reacted in one of two ways to this. Either with surprise and hurt or with anger because Dean didn't get the point. But he did neither. He just eyed Dean, then smirked again, grabbed Dean's wrists and pulled his hands off his jacket. "You're not my keeper, Dean," he said, snatched the cabin key from Dean and pushed past him to step up on the porch, where he stopped and eyed the sorry remains of their breakfast. "Well, now I get why you're so cranky. You haven't had your coffee yet," he said, chuckled as if it was the best joke in the world and let himself into the cabin.

Dean stood rooted to the ground and stared after him, too baffled and too shaken to say or do anything for a few moments. Sam's attitude was not only disconcerting, it was also hauntingly familiar. He hadn't gotten around to the bashing-part yet, but Dean saw it coming, because this was not his brother speaking. There was no doubt in his mind about that. "Sammy," he muttered under his breath.

Suddenly very much aware of the inherent danger of the situation, Dean still couldn't completely convince himself that his brother had been possessed and he figured he needed to test the waters a little further before he decided which course of action to take. So he followed Sam inside and stopped just inside the door to watch his brother intently for a moment. "What the hell is up with you?" he asked.

Sam, who had dropped down on the chair in front of the laptop and was in the process of taking his boots off, looked up and gave Dean a puzzled look. "What should be up with me?" he countered.

"What's with the attitude? And where the hell were you, huh? And don't give me that bullshit about taking a ride. You went to see Lucy, didn't you?" Dean demanded.

Sam sat up straight and arched an eyebrow at him. "You are smarter than you act, Dean," he said and snorted at the thought. "Yeah, I went to see her, but she wasn't home. I figured she might have some answers, but then I thought, why bother? It doesn't matter, really. I think we should skip this town and move on. There's other places where we can have a hell of a lot more fun than here," he added and toed his right boot off, then the left one.

"Yeah, fine," Dean countered after forcibly calming himself down. "Sure. This place sucks on the entertainment side," he added. "How'd you do once you got into Whitefish? I mean, you haven't had much luck with that town since we got here."

Sam's expression remained calm, but there was something in his eyes that made Dean cringe inside. "I felt sick at first, but it passed," he said and smiled vaguely.

"Good to hear," Dean said, stepped back outside and pulled the door shut behind him without offering an explanation. With a worried look at the door, he dug his phone out of one pocket and dialed Lucy's number once more.


She picked up almost at once. "Dean here. Has Sam just been to see you?" he asked and stepped off the porch and walked to the edge of the road before turning back to eye the cabin.

"No. He hasn't. How is he? Feeling better, I take it," Lucy countered.

"That's one way of putting it. The wounds were completely healed up this morning. He seemed fine, actually, so I took off to get us some breakfast ... from a place the doesn't exist, as it were. And when I got back, Sam was gone. He just got back now and he says he went to see you, but you weren't home. And ... he's not acting like himself any more." Some part of him was appalled by the fact that he told her all this, that he confided in her where he would have blown others off, and the idea that something was up with Lucy really began to settle in now.

Lucy was silent for a moment and Dean pulled the phone away from his ear briefly to check the reception, which was fine.

"Lucy?" he asked.

"Dean, do yourself a favor and get the hell away from Sam," she said, her tone quietly intense.

He arched an eyebrow. "What?" he asked and glanced at the cabin.

"Get in your car and get the hell away from Sam," she repeated. "I can't explain now, but if he was here – which I believe he was, seeing as my basement door is open – then he's not your brother any more. Get away from the motel, find a safe place and call me when you get there, Dean."

"The hell I will," Dean countered, torn between anger and fear. "I'm not leaving my brother behind. If he's possessed ..."

"He's not," Lucy interrupted him. "He has turned. There's nothing you can do to save him right now. You need to save yourself first. And the only way you can do that is by getting as far away from him as you can. Do you hear me?"

He blinked and took a hesitant step toward the cabin, then stopped again. "What the hell are you talking about? What do you mean, he's turned?"

"Stop being so purposefully dense, Dean. You know exactly what I mean. If you don't leave right now, I'm coming by to pick you up. Sam ... or rather what Sam has become ... will kill you if you stay. There are no two ways about it. His single most important mission right now is to eradicate every last living Winchester before he takes on every other hunter he can find. Until he has killed you, he won't pay any attention to anyone else. So, leave! Now!"

The thing he had feared ever since the Yellow-Eyed Demon had told him that Sam might not have come back one hundred percent pure was what Lucy was telling him right now and it sent a shiver of icy fear up his spine. "I don't have the keys," he muttered and took a step back again, then shook his head. "He's my brother, dammit. He's my responsibility. This can't be happening."

"Well, it is. Now move, Dean! Get out of there!" Lucy said, her tone so commanding that Dean felt he had no other choice than to believe her.

He checked his back pocket and found his wallet there, then backed up another step just when the door to the cabin opened. Sam remained in the doorway, folded his arms over his chest and leaned one shoulder against the frame. "Who are you talking to?" he asked.

Dean lowered the phone, but didn't cut the connection. "Just trying to call Bobby," he lied. "But the line keeps breaking. Can't get through," he added. "I'm gonna go up to the main road and see if the reception is better there," he added.

Sam eyed him for a moment. "But we leave when you get back, right?" he asked.

"Yeah, of course. Just pack up your stuff. I'll be back as soon as I get a hold of Bobby," Dean said and managed a quirky little smile before he turned and strode back up the road, past the office and around the bend before he raised the phone up to his ear again. "What the hell is going on here, Lucy? What the hell did you do to Sam?"

"Nothing, Dean. This is not my doing," she countered calmly. "I can't heal. I changed the nature of his wounds to make them less dangerous and easier to explain, but I can't heal. The healing he has done overnight is his own doing," she added.

"What the hell are you telling me here?" Dean asked, caught between belief and disbelief. "What the hell are you?"

"Don't worry about what I am. Worry about what Sam has become. This has been a long time coming, but since you brought him back from the dead, it has escalated. The reason for that I asked you both over to dinner that night was because I had my suspicions about Sam. I felt it in him when I met him, but I wasn't sure. Not then. But now I can sense him, I can sense his power. It's growing. That he came to my house, unannounced, while I was out, was the worst possible thing that could have happened, Dean. He has been too close to me without my knowledge and that has aggravated things considerably. There's probably a little speck of your brother still hanging on in there, but it won't be long before he completely loses control. And once he does, you're dead. Do you understand?"

Dean swallowed hard and sent a worried glance back toward the bend in the road. "Are you frigging kidding me? I thought this crap was over. That yellow-eyed son of a bitch is dead. How can he ..." He trailed off, uncertain of everything right now. "How the hell do you know I brought Sam back from the dead?"

"I know a lot of things, Dean. Get out of there. Find a safe place and do what you can to avoid Sam. Once you're safe, call me. I will explain as much of this to you as I can, but you need to leave now, before he loses control. You need to go! Now!" Lucy insisted.

What exactly it was that made him choose to listen to Lucy was beyond him, but he figured that Sam's shift in attitude had a lot to do with it. So he started walking toward the main road and kept glancing back over his shoulder, listening for the sound of the Impala's engine. "Why the hell am I listening to you?" He couldn't help that question. He needed something more than what she had said so far.

"Because, deep down, Dean, you know I'm right. You knew this was coming. You've felt it for a while. You said you were worried about Sam. Well, you had a right to be worried. Now, get up to that road and hitch a ride out of here. I can't do much right now, but if you need my help, you ask. You call me and ask," she said. "Good luck. And stay in touch."

With that, the connection broke. Dean grimaced, flipped the phone shut and lengthened his stride. He crossed the road and started walking away from Whitefish while he kept trying to hitch a ride and after about fifteen minutes, a truck pulled over. The driver was a grizzled old guy with a serious look in his eyes. "Where you headed, son?" he asked.

"Away from here," Dean countered. "Where are you going?"

"Glendive. I can take you as far as that," the guy said.

"Sounds good," Dean said and climbed into the truck.

When the truck pulled back out on the road, Dean sent a long look back toward the turnoff. A big part of him was outraged by what he was doing, leaving Sam behind, but of course Sam had all the advantages at this point, while Dean only had his phone and his wallet on him. A little shell-shocked, Dean turned his attention to the road ahead while his mind refused to process what had just happened. He just couldn't wrap his thoughts about it right now and settled for staring forlornly out the window at the passing landscape.


Glendive, MT
10 pm

It was dark and had started raining by the time the truck finally rolled into Glendive and Dean felt more than a little battered after spending over nine and a half hours on the rather uncomfortable seat. The driver, Gary, wasn't much for stopping, said he had to get the shipment he was transporting to Glendive before the morning and Dean figured that the more distance he put between himself and whatever Sam had turned into, the better.

The further away they got from Whitefish, though, the more doubtful Dean became about this whole deal. His phone had gone off twice on the trip before he had switched it off and he wondered how many times Sam had tried to call him. Some part of him was afraid to check the messages and not so much about Sam maybe being upset that he had left. He was afraid that the messages would prove Lucy right.

Gary let him off on a street corner across from a dingy little motel. He had considered going on to Bobby's place, but figured it would be the first place Sam would look.

Tired and worried sick, he checked into the Budget Motel and sank down on the edge of the bed to just sit and stare some more. He had done a lot of that during the drive and wasn't inclined to do much else right now. He had foregone food all day and wasn't much in the mood for anything right now anyway. He needed to sleep, but was unsure if he could.

After sitting there for a bit, he finally pulled his phone out of his pocket and turned it on. There were six missed calls, all from Sam's cell. "Shit," he whispered. Moments later, the messages started ticking in. Sam had left a message for each missed call and there were three text messages as well.

Dean sighed deeply, then opened the first text message. All it said was: "Where are you?" The second one was just a bunch of question marks. The third one said: "Where the hell are you, Dean? I'm worried sick here." He stared at his phone for a long moment, unable to make up his mind about what to do. These read like messages Sam would have sent and it left him in two minds about what to do. He figured he'd better check the voice mail messages, too, just in case.

Message one: "Dean? Where the hell are you? It can't take an hour to get through to Bobby."

Message two: "Dude, I've been up by the road looking for you. Where the hell are you, man? I'm really starting to worry here."

Message three: "Dean, this is not funny any more. Call me, man. Okay?"

Message four: "Okay, you wanna play hide and seek? Fine with me. I guess you can't mind too much that I'm driving your car, huh?"

Message five: "I'm assuming you've caught on. Smart of you. But there's nowhere you can run where I can't find you. See you around, big brother."

Dean hesitated, not sure he wanted to listen to the last message. Each message got angrier, harsher, and he could barely imagine what the last one might say. He licked his lips, then pressed the button and held the phone up to his ear again.

Message six: "I'm coming for you."

That was all it said, but the tone in which it was said sent a shiver up his spine. "Shit," he whispered and in a fit of anger erased all the messages before putting the phone down. It tore him apart, ripped through him like wild fire that this had happened on his watch. He couldn't believe he had lost the fight so quickly and so quietly. One moment his brother had been okay, the next he had turned into ... whatever it was.

He dropped back on the bed, still wearing his jacket, and just lay there and stared up at the peeling ceiling of the motel room. What he couldn't wrap his mind around was the suddenness of the change. And his inability to see it coming was eating him alive. Now that he was away from Whitefish, he was beginning to think that maybe Lucy St. Clair had been responsible after all. It was evident that she had a great deal of influence on her surroundings and had messed with his head big time, but her reach obviously didn't extend this far. And if Sam was following him, Dean hoped that whatever she might have done to his brother might wear off the further away from her he got.

But there was that little voice in the back of his head that was insisting that Sam had been off before they had come to Whitefish, that he had noticed the change in his brother long before that and just hadn't been willing to accept that it was happening.

Somewhere between then and now, he drifted off to an uneasy sleep, which he was torn out of an hour later when his phone rang. A little rattled and a lot confused, he grabbed the phone and answered it before he could think clearly enough.


He held his tongue, listened to Sam's voice, which was nothing like it normally was.

"Dean, are you there?"

He sat up slowly. "Yeah," he finally replied. He had no idea what to say, how to react.

"What the hell is going on with you, Dean? Why'd you take off? Where are you?" Sam asked, his tone demanding, the lilt to his voice completely off. He sounded strange, like he was putting a lot of effort into talking calmly.

Dean analyzed Sam's voice in his head, ran it through all the bullshit filters he had created over the years and knew something was wrong. "Where are you?" he countered instead and cleared his throat when his voice came out a little hoarse.

This was answered by a pause. Then Sam sighed. "Okay, so you know," he said and there was elation in his voice, which was very inappropriate if Sam was really worried about him. "I guess I underestimated your ability to catch on to bullshit like this, huh?"

"Guess you did," Dean agreed. "Who are you?"

Sam chuckled. "I'm Sam, of course. Your baby brother. The one you abandoned in a town run by the queen bitch of all demons. Thanks a lot, bro," he replied, his tone mockingly upset.

"And again you underestimate my ability to catch on to the bullshit," Dean said angrily. "So, who the hell are you? Meg? Some other shit-faced demon that I'm going to have to drive out of my brother and kill?"

It was obviously amusing to Sam that Dean was so angry about this. "You don't get it, do you, Dean. This is me, Sam. This is what I've become, what I was supposed to be from the start. And, let me tell you, it's liberating. All the emotional crap is gone. I feel like I can do anything. But, I must admit, I'm hurt that you ran out on me. I figured we were gonna have some fun together out there." He sighed. "Too bad, really. I was going to keep you around, you know. I even considered keeping you out of Hell, but now ..."

Dean closed his eyes, sorely tempted to just cut the connection and get the hell out of Glendive before Sam could catch up to him, but there was still that part of him that didn't believe Sam was lost. He needed help, though, lots of help, if he was going to save his brother. And the only place he could think of going was Bobby's. He would have to call ahead and warn Bobby about this, but as of yet he had no idea what to say, how to explain this.

"Dean? You still there?"

"Yeah, I'm still here," he confirmed. "I know you're not Sam, you son of a bitch. So you listen to me and you listen carefully. I'm going to figure out how to get you out of my brother and when I do, you're dead. And if I personally have to drag your sorry ass into Hell, I will. I'm going there anyway, so I might as well take you along for the ride." It was an empty threat, he knew. He would never be able to drag a demon into Hell. But his anger and frustration gave him enough of an edge to lie through his teeth right now.

It had the desired effect. There was no elation left in Sam's voice when he finally answered. "Be careful what you wish for, Dean. Your wishes have a tendency to go down the drain. And with that attitude, I'm going to send you downstairs a whole lot sooner than you anticipated. I'm coming for you, Dean. You can't hide. I know you like the back of my hand. I know where you're going."

"Screw you," Dean countered and hung up. Then he switched the phone off, stuffed it into his pocket and got up. There was no sense in hanging around this place. He needed to get the hell out of Dodge because he had the distinct impression that Sam was hot on his heels. And if that was true, that meant that whatever had happened to him wasn't wearing of. That again meant that Dean couldn't go directly to Bobby's. He needed time to think, to formulate a plan, and he didn't want to risk his friend's life while he tried to come to terms with the inevitable.


He hit the streets of Glendive at eleven thirty pm and headed north toward the intersection where the 94 crossed through town to hitch a ride. He had considered finding a car of his own, but he just wasn't in the mood to drive. Everything felt wrong.


He stopped short and pulled his shoulders up a little, painfully reminded of the fact that he had no weapons on him. He didn't even have a frigging flask of holy water. Drawing in a breath, he turned around and found Sam standing a few feet away.

Sam spread out his arms, a look of confusion and hurt on his face. "Dean, what the hell?" he asked. "Where are you going?"

Dean took a step back. Sam looked like himself and it made it that much harder for him to try and run. "Stay away from me, Sam," he warned, a tad confused by the fact that the demon his brother was possessed by didn't just attack him right out.

"What's wrong?" Sam asked, sounding more confused than hurt now. "I don't get this. One minute everything's hunky-dory, the next you take off without a word? What's going on?"

A couple passing on the other side of the street sent him glances, but nobody stopped. Typical small town America.

"Dean, come on, man. It's me, okay? I ... don't know what happened at Lucy's, but it's me," Sam tried.

Dean swallowed hard. "Stop pretending to be my brother, dammit," he suddenly snapped, realizing that his patience and stamina were worn down enough for him lose his temper.

Sam took a hesitant step forward. "Who's pretending?" he asked, sounding hurt again. "Did I do something to scare you? I don't remember doing anything."

For a moment Dean's decision to run wavered. "Do you remember coming back to the cabin in Whitefish?" he asked.

Sam frowned. "Not really. I ... you went out to call Bobby and you didn't come back. But ..."

It would appear that Sam was fighting the possession, that he was succeeding some of the time, and that changed things. Dean took a step toward him. "What do you remember?" he asked.

Sam sent a long look around the area, which was now deserted, then pursed his lips for a moment. "I'm not sure. It's all a bit muddled," he said.

Dean took another step toward him, closing the distance enough to be within arm's length of his brother. "Sam, something happened to you when you were at Lucy's. I'm thinking you got possessed or something and that you're fighting it, but don't remember. Where's the car? We need to get that damned thing out of you."

Sam looked concerned, confused and doubtful at the same time. "Possessed?" he asked and finally focused on Dean. Then he lashed out and grabbed the lapels of Dean's jacket, yanking him closer while his expression dissolved into a snide grin. "I already told you, Dean. This is what I am now," he said and hammered Dean into the nearest wall with enough force to nearly break bones.

The issuing fight had Dean putting up all defenses to keep from getting too badly hurt, because the presence in his brother was definitely demonic in nature. The one thing he could not allow was to be dragged into an alley and that seemed to be what Sam had in mind at this point.

They got in close physical contact a few times and by the third time Dean managed to grab the keys for the Impala before ducking out of Sam's grip. He drove his brother hard into the wall and it obviously rattled him enough for Dean to make an escape. Since he had no idea where to find his car, all he could do was take off and hope he found her before Sam caught up to him again.

So he ran. With every bone in his body aching and several cuts and bruises covering him, he ran like hell, back past the motel where he had stayed and into town. He spent most of the night cruising through the back streets of the town, searching for his car while trying to avoid the monster his brother had turned into. One thing he knew without the shadow of a doubt, though. If he'd had his gun, he wouldn't have used it. Some part of him refused to believe that Sam was gone. All he needed was to set a trap that the demon inside Sam couldn't break and then exorcize the hell out of it. He'd be more than happy to kill it too, if he could, but he would settle for sending it back to Hell. Just as long as he got Sam back.

Attuned to the sounds around him, he several times picked up Sam's footsteps and slid into hiding until he had passed. And after several hours where he started to fight off the rising need to sleep, he turned a corner and there she was. He exhaled a quiet breath, checked the area to make sure Sam wasn't in the vicinity, then got into his car and started the engine. A quick glance around showed him nothing but deserted streets, so he pulled out and got the hell out of town.

Instead of heading straight for Bobby's, he redirected his course toward the lower part of Montana, hoping to distract Sam away from the plan that was taking shape in his head now. Despite being tired and beaten to hell, he knew he had to drive as far as he could before finding a place to sleep.


Dean hit Cheyenne in Wyoming around four in the afternoon and he was just about as spent as he could be. He hadn't even dared to stop for coffee anywhere and knew he was running on fumes by now. The Impala needed a fresh tank of gas and he needed some downtime, but he had no clue where to go to at least be safe for a few hours. And he had no doubt that Sam was following him. Not that he had seen him, but he could almost feel his brother's presence.

He pulled in at a gas station, got himself some extra strong coffee and a donut to go, which was really all he had a mind to eating, filled the tank and hit the road again. He changed to Highway 80 into Nebraska, hoping desperately that he could find somewhere to hide for a few hours so he could sleep. Chances were that Sam would catch up to him, but he would just have to take that risk.

"If I don't get some sleep soon, I'll end up in a ditch," he grumbled under his breath and scrubbed a hand over his face. Loud music didn't do it for him anymore and he didn't feel like listening to music anyway. It was a surreal experience, having to run from his own brother, but, as he kept reminding himself, it wasn't really Sam. He knew his brother well enough to know that Sam would never do this, no matter how pissed off he was. The biggest thing Sam had ever done in anger was to walk out on him. He remembered the first time it had happened like it had been yesterday and whenever he allowed himself to think of it, his heartbeat sped up. It had been a tense time ...

... when the door slammed shut. Dean just stared at it, unable to fathom that his brother, barely ten, had just decided he could wing it on his own and didn't need his deranged brother and father any more.

They had fought, long, hard and bitter, over whether dad would be home for Thanksgiving or not. Sam had insisted he wouldn't, Dean had insisted he would if he could. Sam had started yelling and Dean had yelled back. So much so that the couple in the next room had started banging on the wall, yelling for them to pipe down or they would call the police.

Sam had pouted for about an hour, angrier than Dean had ever seen him before, and Dean had left him alone to sulk in the next room. After a bit, Sam had stomped into what passed for the livingroom of their temporary accommodations and had declared that he'd had enough.

"I've had enough. This is stupid. You always lie for dad and he doesn't give a crap anyway. All he does is hunt. He doesn't care about us," Sam had stated in a tone of voice that was wavering a little.

Dean hadn't considered any other outcome of their fight than the normal one; namely that Sam would stomp back into the bedroom, slam the door and not come out until hunger drove him out. "That's bullshit," Dean had countered angrily. "Dad cares about us. That's why he does this. He has to. Nobody else will if he doesn't and a lot of people would die if he didn't do this. And you know that, you whiny-assed little brat."

Sam stuck out his lower lip, on the verge of tears, the anger in his eyes almost touchable. "DON'T CALL ME THAT!" he yelled at the top of his lungs, his hands clenched into fists, his cheeks a hectic red from both anger and the impending tears. "I don't need to put up with this. None of the kids in my class have to put up with this." That said, he grabbed his jacket, unlocked the door and left, slamming the door behind him.

And all Dean could think of doing at first was to just stand there and stare. It took him precious moments to get a grip and follow Sam. Having to get his boots on and finding his jacket and remembering to lock the door all slowed him down and by the time he got down to the street, there was no sign of Sam anywhere. And Dean nearly panicked. With no clue as to what direction Sam may have taken, all he could do was choose one direction and if it was the wrong one, it would mean that Sam was on his own that much longer and that just wouldn't do.

Frustrated already, he paced back and forth in front of the entrance to the shabby hotel for a bit, trying to decide which direction to take, when the sound of a familiar engine reached his ears. He paled and stopped pacing. Dad was on his way back and Dean had no idea where Sam was. Rather than run away, which was what he wanted to do most right now, Dean stood his ground and shoved his hands into the pockets of his jacket to wait for John.

The Impala pulled smoothly into a spot a bit further down the street and moments later, John got out. He had seen Dean when he drove past and focused on him now for a moment before he walked back to him. "Dean? What are you doing out here?" he asked.

Dean bowed his head and pressed his lips together into a thin line. Dad was going to yell at him for letting Sam leave and he felt he deserved it. He should have locked the damned door and hid the key. He just ...

"Dean! I'm talking to you," John said, his tone tight.

"M'looking for Sam," he muttered, still not daring to look up.

"What?" John asked, his tone now cautious.

Dean raised his head and faced his father. "I'm looking for Sam. He ran out on me," he said firmly.

John eyed him for a moment, then glanced either way. "Where'd he go?" he asked, surprising the hell out of Dean that he didn't start yelling at once.

"I don't know. That's why I'm here. I was ... I can't ..." To his embarrassment, Dean felt tears rise in his eyes. The worst-case scenario was that something really bad had happened to his brother and that he hadn't been able to prevent it. It terrified him on so many levels.

John hunkered down in front of him. "Calm down, kiddo. We'll find him," he said and grabbed Dean's arm. "How long ago did he leave?"

Dean wiped a hand under his nose. "About fifteen minutes or so," he said.

"Okay," John said and rose again to look either way along the street. "What brought it on? Did you fight again?" he asked and Dean nodded mutely. "Right, let's get going. You go that way," he said, nodding to the right, "and I'll go this way. We meet up here again in half an hour."

Dean nodded, turned and started along the street without looking back. The worst thing he could do in his own mind was disappoint his father or Sammy, and Sam had been uncontrollable lately...

... a blaring horn ripped him out of his thoughts and he quickly straightened up, pulling the Impala back into the right lane she had been drifting out of. "Shit," he snapped and decided that enough was enough. He was lapsing into daydreams, drifting, and that was not good for his health.

He started paying more attention to his surroundings and soon found a place where he could pull off the highway and into a forested area. He drove as far in as he could get before pulling the Impala off the road and in between the trees far enough that the car wouldn't be immediately visible from the road. Then he locked the doors, made sure he had all the necessary weaponry he could think of within easy reach and then made himself as comfortable as he could on the front seat. "Just a few hours," he muttered while already drifting off.