His head is swimming, and he lets it fall into his hands while he squeezes his eyes shut and tries to remember the number of Dean's latest cell phone. It's just not coming to him, and he has to admit that Dean's lecture about modern technology's destruction of memory - a lecture he was at least forty years too young to deliver with a straight face - was right on the money. All his life, Dean's been available just by pressing a button on his speed-dial; he gives up and checks his cell, then dials it from Sarah's chunky white phone. It doesn't even ring anymore; all he hears is that high-pitched, three-tone sequence and then a message saying that that number is no longer in service.
Who knows how time is passing for Dean, asleep in the land of the fae, if he can even feel time slipping away drop by drop or all in a rush. Even if it's only in dreams, Sam hopes that Dean hears with every heartbeat the insistent rhythm of his apology, the words that will choke him until he sees his brother again.
The best thing to do is to get out to South Dakota himself, find Dean himself, even if it means kicking over every stone and plucking every blade of grass in the whole fucking state. He just needs to get there ... shit. All he's got is some clothes, a fake credit card, one knife, and two guns. All of the other weapons, the stuff he needs for any rituals - books, herbs, and symbols - everything else is with Dean, either on him or stashed somewhere in Bobby's house or locked in the trunk of the car. He can maybe catch a flight out there, but there's nowhere around here to stock back up on weapons, and he can't fly with them in any case. It'll take time to find a car cheap enough to buy but good enough to get him three-quarters of the way across the country, and even more time to actually make the drive.
There's got to be a smarter way to go about this.
Had Bobby said he was going to keep looking? Can he trust Bobby to do whatever it takes to help Dean? He can, right? It's not Dean who Bobby's mad at; hell, they'd both yelled at him for trying spellwork years beyond what he should have been able to manage. He'd had to drug both of them just to shut them up, pacify them so that Bobby didn't see which books Sam was studying or notice him dragging Dean's supine form into the passenger seat and slamming on the gas. Dean had been on Bobby's side when Bobby had drawn that ridiculous line in the sand and said he wasn't going to do a damn thing more to save Dean's life and get him out of the deal.
But after Sam had saved his brother, Bobby had had no bone to pick with Dean, had welcomed him back with open arms, apparently, if the frequency of their phone calls and Dean's visits was anything to go by. So maybe Bobby won't think of this as helping him, but as saving Dean, and will do what he can. He can only hope.
His thumb hovers over the send button while he debates whether calling Rick is a good idea. Even if he can somehow get out to Ohio to swing by Rick's store, he's got no guarantees that Rick will even carry what he needs. And he doesn't have cash, and while Rick might possibly let that slide for Dean, there's pretty much no chance he'll do it for the brother who always went to the OU library rather than sticking with Dean on the wrong side of the tracks in Athens. He pushes the button before he can think himself out of this.
"This is Rick."
"This is Sam Winchester - Dean's, Dean Winchester's brother." He can't remember if Rick knew Dad, if he should bring up Dad's name.
There's only silence coming from the other end, and he wonders if they got cut off somehow. "Hello?"
"I'm here." Rick's voice is calm and unwelcoming.
"I'm looking for Dean -"
"Last time I saw him was about a week ago."
"You saw him?" How many people had Dean stopped in to see on his farewell tour? What the hell was going on?
"That's what I said," Rick says, clipped, like he's taking offense at Sam's disbelief, like his word is unimpeachable. "He came by, said he was driving through the area, thought he should stock up while he had the cash and the time."
Okay, he can work with this. Any information is good information. "What'd he buy?"
There's another long pause, like Rick is trying to figure out if he's trustworthy. Just before Sam's about to say something about knowing Dean wouldn't like his little brother being jerked around, Rick says, "Nothing unusual. Ammo, couple bow strings, a nice tight knife. Same kind of thing he used to have on regular order, just like your dad."
"Did you notice anything unusual while he was there?"
"I don't like being interrogated," Rick says tightly. "But if it'll get you off my line, I'll tell you what you want to know. He came by. He looked like shit. I told him so, he laughed, and said to hurry up and ring him up because he had a nice warm bed waiting for him only a couple of states away."
Sam ignores the warning. "And that's it? He didn't mention anything about hunting fae? Because that's what he was doing when he went missing, and I need whatever weapons I can find that'll be good for that -"
"I'm not interested in what you need. From what I hear, you'll mess with anything, consequences be damned, let someone else clean up the mess you made."
God damn Bobby Singer. "If you heard that from Bobby -"
"I heard it from a lot of people, good people who know where hunters aren't supposed to go. I'm not going to be the one to hand you a loaded gun when you don't even know what you're aiming at."
"But it's for Dean, to save Dean -" he gets out before Rick interrupts him one last time.
"There's always some way to rationalize doing what you want, isn't there?" Rick says just before he hangs up.
Everyone he talks to goes through the same song and dance - sorry about Dean, fuck you anyway. Who died and made Bobby God is beyond Sam, but he's shaking with rage when he finally thinks of someone Bobby might not have gotten his claws into. Guitierrez - Sam can't remember the guy's first name - the guy who sold Gordon Walker all the bright shiny knives he'd used to hunt vampires and some guns too, just to be on the safe side. Guitierrez was a slime, but not one with enough of a spine to stand up to anyone. It'll be best to go see him in person, rather than call and let Guitierrez hang up on him, and in any case, he's more likely to find everything he needs in New York City.
Sam hammers on Sarah's door, and when she opens it, he can hear the sound of Joni Mitchell's croon coming from the iPod sitting in its sleek white dock. Sarah steps back from the door, into the light, and he can see tear tracks streaked across her face. When she realizes what he must be seeing, she flushes and wipes hastily at her eyes. "Sam? What's wrong?"
"Dean's gone missing. I need to find him."
"Oh my God, Sam -"
There's no time to listen to anything but concrete plans. "I need to get to New York, and I need cash."
Sarah snaps to and straightens her spine. "Yes. I can do that." She goes to her dressing room and pulls out a jacket and a pair of sneakers. "I'll drive you. It'll be quicker than taking the bus."
His stomach growls, angry at having been ignored for so many hours. "I'm going to get my stuff together."
"Go. I'll figure out the food situation." Sarah sends him off while pulling her hair into a tight ponytail, then jogs down the stairs.
Ten minutes later, they're in Sarah's white Mercedes convertible, and Sam's got a large supreme pizza on his lap, hot enough to burn his thighs through layers of cardboard and denim. Sarah zips down Interstate 87 and says not a word.