Anyway, on to the NaNo update!
Sam clicks his cell phone shut and stumbles on his way across the room - why do the rooms in this house have to be so goddamn big anyway? - to pick up the phone sitting on the glass and brass bedside table. He flips his cell back open to locate Bobby's number in the "received calls" guide and calls back on the house line.
"What the hell was that?" Bobby bites out, not bothering with any words of greeting.
"Have to keep the line to the cell open," Sam explains, fumbling the words, and hears Bobby's anger being expelled in a long sigh. "Where's Dean?" Even to his own ears, he sounds petulant and frightened, like a child unconvincingly denying that he's afraid to sleep on his own in the dark.
"He went on a hunt -"
"Jesus, Bobby!" Sam is seething like a pot boiling over, so angry he wants to reach through the phone and throttle the man. "He came to you because he needed to get some rest, needed a break, and you sent him after -"
"He came to me because he needed a break from you!" Bobby shouts right back, then clams up.
"That's not ... that's not true."
He tries to think back, to the West Virginia case, but Bobby is relentless, keeps on dropping words that insinuate themselves in Sam's brain. "Said he was tired, said he needed something to make it stop," Bobby continues, and Sam remembers just how long it had been since he'd seen Dean without any lines of pain on his face, or looking well-rested and one hundred percent healthy. That nearly depleted bottle of Advil rises up before his mind's eye.
"Do you know?" He has to clear his throat; he hopes Bobby won't make him beg for it. "What's wrong with my brother?" Too many things to name he remembers Dean joking.
Bobby's silent for a good long while. "Bobby?" Sam prods sharply.
"He went after some fae that've sorta settled nearby," Bobby finally says. "We read up on all the lore before he went, and he took every precaution. Had a cold iron knife in his pocket, carried herbs and bread. He took a self-bored stone too."
"And what? You just sent him off like that?" Dean never took enough precautions when he didn't have someone to watch out for. "Couldn't even be bothered to go with him?"
Bobby's just flat-out ignoring him now, simply reciting the necessary information instead of responding; that's a trick John Winchester never thought to pull, and Sam flounders, unsure how to retaliate. "The fae must have gotten him somehow in spite of everything. Must have taken him somewhere."
Tired of Bobby's vagueness, Sam snaps, "Figure it out! You're the one with a million and one books!"
"Have you been hearing a word I've been saying? Dean did everything right according to my books. This is a different kind of fae, different rules; if I knew any other way of getting Dean back, I'da done it already."
Then what the fuck good are you? Sam wants to scream. If Bobby's whole library had nothing on the rules for the type of fae that took Dean, where the hell is he supposed to find anything that will work?
"You hearing me?" Bobby growls.
He schools himself to be calm, cool, as unlike Bobby as he can be. "I heard you. What I didn't hear was an explanation for what you think was wrong with Dean in the first place, or why you let him go if he seemed so hurt."
Bobby's tone is pure ice. "What's wrong with Dean is what you did to him with your goddamned spell. You thought you could cheat the devil, get away scot-free? Maybe you did, Sam, but your brother didn't." The click of the phone being hung up sounds like a shotgun being cocked.
Think, he has to think. What does he know about fae? He's never gone up against them, but he remembers hearing something about them once, some hunter going up against them and having it come out as a draw. Not Dad, he doesn't think; surely not Dean. Pastor Jim, maybe? But he's dead too, and he never kept a journal, not like Dad did; Pastor Jim believed in personal communication, talking things through, and the value of the teacher-student relationship. Sam had once sat at his feet, happily ensconced in reams of Latin, one eye always on Dean, who'd made the lessons more interesting for himself by composing dirty limericks in the dead language or translating the lyrics to songs that would have made the Romans - except maybe the really decadent emperors - roll over in their graves.
It always comes back to Dean, who'd spent years following Dad, one step over and one behind, being treated like he was just tagging along, when really he was providing that human touch that Dad didn't have time to bother with. And Dean had stayed, had cultivated those relationships on his own when Dad and Sam had both taken off for greener pastures.
Except for Missouri. That's who he can call. His fingers shake with triumph as he finds the number in his phone and dials. There's a click when she picks up on her end and the call is connected.
"Hello?" she says cautiously, and he falters. She's never answered like that. Usually, it's more along the lines of "Sam! I'm glad to hear from you, sugar!" or "Dean, baby, you better call more than once a year if you want my help," and on one memorable occasion, it had been, "Samuel Winchester, you apologize to your brother right now or I'ma hand my whackin spoon over to him real soon."
"Hello?" she tries again. "Sam? Dean?"
"Missouri," he says in a rush, butchering the syllables of her name, and she chuckles.
"There you are, baby. You boys doing okay?"
He's clutching Sarah's imitation antique phone with a sweaty hand. "Why didn't you know it was me?"
She sounds taken aback, a little muddled, like she can't quite remember what just happened. "I don't know. I can mostly see you boys clear ..." she trails off.
"I see him." She sounds like she's surprised even herself.
"Dean? You can see Dean? Where is he?"
"Just now, when you said my name again, I got a sense of you. And kind of ... an echo, maybe? An echo of Dean."
His stomach is turning itself inside out. "Just an echo?" If the fae really have Dean, he could be trapped in some weird parallel world, a place where time and space operate with different constraints; he could be right next to Dean, pretty much pressed up against him, and not be able to touch him, not even know that they had gotten so close. Maybe what she's sensing is being transmitted from that other world.
"What ... what do you see?"
"There's nothing to see, baby. He's asleep; he's resting."
Sam can't choke down a laugh; Dean had been so tired, so worn out - of course he's resting now. "Sam," Missouri says, "I don't mean to make light of this, but I want you to know that from what I can tell, nothing's hurting him right now. I don't know where he is, but he's just being quiet."
Quiet and lost, because Dean is a big believer in going the stupidly stoic route, never complaining himself but insisting on knowing every time Sam trips on an untied shoelace or cuts himself shaving. Quiet and sleeping, because Sam had fucked him up when he'd broken that damn crossroads deal.