Dean was still riding on a high of anger and remorse when he slammed the motel door open. His emotions were weaving in and out of control and the nice buzz that he had going on was only making his mood more unpredictable. There was nothing that he’d said to Sam that wasn’t the truth. The words were harsh and Sam, who was already beating himself up, didn’t deserve it but the fact that it wasn’t fair to his little brother didn’t make it any less honest.
Dean frowned as he sat on the bed, slightly dizzy. Something felt wrong. Looking around the small space, there was no Sam and from where he was sitting he could see inside the bathroom and it was clearly empty. His first thought was that Sam had taken off and winced inwardly. It wouldn’t be surprising after the things that he’d said. Dean shook the memory away and gave the room a more thorough inspection.
Sam’s bag was still on the bed, which hinted that he probably just left for a beer but the laptop was missing. Dean sat up and walked to the other side and pushed slightly beneath the bed was the laptop. Dean bent close poking the device absently. It looked as if it was thrown to the side in haste, Dean frowned. Sam would never break his precious laptop. That is maybe if his older brother hadn’t yelled angrily at him without a care, Dean thought a bit shamed.
Dean picked it up and flipped the screen open. There was research still running and it seemed as if Sam was in the middle of writing an email to Joe. Those things didn’t add up. No matter how angry he was, Sam would never abuse that laptop and much less leave his personal email account open for Dean to find out. The one time he’d broken into Sam’s account had been the last. Sam, stubbornly, had memorized a long series of digits and letters and set it as his password, making it positively anti-Dean, there was no reason why Sam would leave his account open, especially feeling vulnerable as he did right now. Dean knew his brother and he was a creature of habit.
Dean looked around the room now completely alarmed and began seeing things in a new light. The chair was tilting precariously near the window, which was open wide, curtain blowing with the wind. The bed was ruffled and there was a muddy boot print on the side of the linen. The wall had a slight indentation on it that suggested someone punching it in. Dean saw something glinting beneath the bed and bent down grabbing a small knife. This wasn’t the regular one that Sam carried, this was the little switch blade that Dad had given him when he was twelve. Sam, highly sentimental, kept the thing on him all of the time. There was no way he would just carelessly throw it under the bed. Under no circumstances would he be that careless.
Dean panicked and headed out, looking around the parking lot. It was empty and none of the adjoining rooms had lights on. He looked helplessly around and made a snap decision. Heading inside, he grabbed his gear and palmed his keys. As he approached the car, he saw what set his boil burning with additional anger. The car tires were slashed. Dean was furious. This was all his fault, Sam should never have been left alone. Running shaky fingers through his hair, he hitched the bag over his shoulder and headed for the streets.
He had planned to head to the restaurant and probably catch a demon and question it for a few and hopefully get a location but with no car, he had no hopes to make it there without wasting what was probably very precious time.
Half hour down the road, he sees another motel and this one luckily were filled to the brim with cars. Carefully he headed towards the most isolated one and using the cover of shadows, hot wired it and took off in the night, in search of his brother.
It was hopeless. Arriving at the restaurant that’d been swarmed with demons earlier proved beyond useless. The place was vacant. Sign swinging with the wind, it provided no trail. The whole town seemed deserted. No one roamed the streets, cars left open, engines dead, houses with doors blasted open, and everything looked as if everyone took up and left in a hurry. There was no sign of life, no dead bodies, just emptiness.
Dean was panicking. There was no trail, nothing to suggest where he should go and no demons for him to question. Looking around helplessly, he called out for Castiel.
The angel arrived not looking a bit surprised at Dean’s harried state, though Castiel looked no better. The normally pristine angel was covered with mud and his hair was in complete disarray. Dean gaped at the sight.
“What the hell is going on with you?” he asked.
Castiel seemed puzzled then irritated after looking at his state. “My search has been met with several complications.”
His clothes shivered from an invisible wind, and then he stood in front of Dean spotless.
A flare of hot rage rose at the thought of Castiel pointless endeavor. Dean shrugged inwardly pushing the rage at bay, this was not the time to concern himself with Castiel’s stupid task, trying to convince the angel that his plight was hopeless would only waste time that was possibly precious.
“I have a problem.” Dean said seriously addressing the issue bluntly. “Sam’s missing.”
Castiel nodded, “Yes, I know.”
Dean glared, “What do you mean you know? Why didn’t you do anything about it?”
“I was occupied with serious matters.”
Dean took a calming breath, not even bothering to ask what was so important. He had an inkling that whatever Castiel had considered so serious would only make him lose control of his temper. “Where is he?”
Castiel frowned closing his eyes trying to concentrate. “I cannot locate him. Whatever is blocking Lucifer’s vessel from me is also hiding him.”
“So, which ones have him, the demons or the angels?” Dean asked through gritted teeth.
“The demons,” Castiel answered. “I’m not positive but whatever is hiding Sam is not as strong or as directed as the protection around the vessel. I can sense no angelic signature in that shield. I assume it is the work of demons.”
Dean frowned, “what are we going to do? We need to find Sammy and soon, we don’t know what those bastards are doing to him.”
“You must continue your task, Dean.”
“What?” Dean asked. “I tell you that Sam is missing and you don’t give me nothing, not a way to help him and all you have to say is ‘I must continue my task’. Are you serious?”
Castiel sighed. “I understand your frustration but your brother’s absence doesn’t make the situation less dire. There is a vessel that’s being courted and we should do everything in our power to prevent it.”
Dean glared, “I get it. Don’t preach to me. I understand more than you can that the mission is always first. I’ve had it butchered into my brain often enough. I don’t need you to remind me. The fact of the matter is that the hunter didn’t say yes so far and it’s been days, so chances are he won’t say yes for the little time it’ll take for me to find Sammy.”
“We cannot chance it,” Castiel warned. “The vessel will weaken and Lucifer will succeed. No human has ever been able to withstand his manipulations and lies, no amount of strength of will can prevent Lucifer from achieving his tasks, your mission is to interrupt, to remove the human from his influence as soon as possible.”
Dean snorted. “How am I supposed to do that? I just walk to wherever he is and say, ‘oh Satan, can I have your meat suit for a couple of days, not for keeps, just to keep it warm for you.”
Castiel seemed unaffected with the sarcasm. “Lucifer cannot cause you any overt harm. His minions can and will interfere but you should be able to withstand them.”
“What do you mean by overt harm?”
Castiel tilted his head questioningly. “Haven’t you felt it?”
“The anger, the frustration,” Castiel replied. At Dean’s blank look, he continued, “Lucifer has been influencing your emotions. Excess anger, frustration, impatience, annoyance that I thought you’d overcome.”
“Why the hell didn’t you tell me this shit?”
“I did warn you.” Castiel defended himself. “I warned you that Lucifer would try to interfere with your task, I did check on you as I felt the first tremor of tampering but you appeared completely at ease and able to withstand the barrage of emotions.”
“No I wasn’t at ease for fuck’s sake. I was trying to stop myself from punching my little brother in the face every time I looked his way.” Dean yelled.
“Oh god,” he whispered brokenly. “The things I said to Sammy, shit I need to find him.”
Castiel shook his head, “You cannot focus on your brother right now. We must find the vessel.”
“Fuck the vessel, fuck it all to hell.” Dean yelled. “I need to find Sammy; those demons are probably torturing him for information right now. I can’t let my brother die with the last thing I’ve said to him being so hateful.”
“Dean…” Castiel began.
“No,” Dean cut him off. “No, I can’t. I have to find him, you take over the search for the hunter for now and I’ll find Sammy. It won’t take me long and then we’ll both go kick Satan’s ass and stop the end of the world.”