Sam jerked awake at the sound of his brother's voice, coming alert almost instantly at the tone. He sat up, eyes going wide.
"What happened?" He asked immediately. Dean was standing beside his bed, a frown of worry on his face.
"Alec isn't here."
Sam blinked several times, trying to banish the last bit of sleep befuddlement before squinting at the clock but he didn't panic like Dean seemed to be close to doing. "Did you-"
"I tried calling. He's not answering."
That made the concern rise and had him more alert than ever. He swung his feet to the floor. "Okay…" He glanced at the clock a gain, scrubbing a hand through his hair. "It's still early. Maybe…" But he trailed off. Alec always answered the phone, ever since Dean had given him the damn thing.
Dean had made it a sort of condition mostly due to the stunt Gabriel had pulled by making Alec disappear. Plus, it was early but it was morning. Sam hadn't expected Alec would stay all night with the waitress he'd left the bar with the night before.
"You know where they were headed?" He asked, standing and reaching for his bag, digging for a clean pair of jeans.
"No." Dean's frown deepened and he looked as if he regretted that lack of knowledge.
Sam chewed his lip a moment as Dean tried Alec's number again, probably for the tenth time. "We need to find the waitress then," Sam stated.
"I'm callin' Cas," Dean declared a second later and something twisted in Sam's chest. He thought about the angels and the reason Cas had originally brought Alec to them. He got the same feeling he remembered getting all those times Dean had gone missing on him.
Pain burned through his veins like fire. His vision had already blurred and he wondered if he was still screaming. His vocal cords certainly hurt enough. A familiar face swam into focus briefly and he flinched away from the distorted vision of Lydecker. The biggest problem was that he couldn't actually remember what he had done wrong, what he had done wrong enough to cause Lydecker to be there instead of Sandoval or one of the others lower on the chain of command.
"Just submit, 494, and it'll stop."
He opened his mouth, this time to follow the order when the agony eased some but stopped short, another voice sounding in his head, and another guy who looked like him.
"We'll find you."
Alec groaned, and bit the inside of his cheek so hard he could taste blood. "No." And the agony came back, even stronger than before.
"You can't find him?" Dean practically growled the question, pacing the motel room.
"No," Cas answered. "If Zachariah has him, it will be…difficult." Nearly impossible, most likely. The angel's usually stoic gaze was concerned as well, and Dean was pretty sure it wasn't just because the threat Michael would pose if Zachariah really did have Alec.
"I called the bar," Sam supplied. "The waitress' name was Kasey but she won't be on for another two hours."
Sam shifted where he sat, feeling just as restless as Dean. "What if it wasn't Zachariah?" He asked now. "There are other people still looking for Alec."
Dean turned his gaze on Cas and the angel nodded. "I will see." Cas vanished a second later and Dean grabbed his coat.
"Come on. Let's retrace some steps."
Sam nodded. It was all they could do. Maybe they could convince someone at the bar to give out some more information on the waitress. Whatever they did, they needed to do it soon. Dean had already declared Alec family and really he was now.
"You're kind of family now."
Alec held on to the words, one's he remembered hearing. He held onto them as the agony came and went. When he did that, when he held onto the images of the two guys who had taken him in and declared him family, he thought he could see past it.
He could remember that Lydecker wasn't really there, that the room he was in was not situated in one of the lower levels of Manticore. He could remember that he wasn't back there, and that he shouldn't do as he was told this time.
Rachel's face swam into focus when he squeezed his eyes shut and it actually helped, helped him remember that orders shouldn't always be followed, that sometimes worse things happened when you did follow them.
He still managed to say no.
Dean leaned over the bar, practically staring Kasey down. "He left last night?" He pressed her, his grip on the edge of the bar tightening.
"Yeah. Just after we…finished, actually." Kasey was frowning at the two men. She'd liked the young man, Alec, even if he'd been a bit awkward at first and hadn't seemed to know exactly what he was doing.
"Dammit." Dean, he'd introduced himself as, ran a hand over his forehead and looked close to breaking something if the anger and worry on his face was anything to go by. He and the taller one had said they were Alec's brothers and Kasey believed it. If not for the age difference, she would have sworn Dean and Alec were twins.
"I drove him back to my apartment building," she offered, sympathetic. She had a younger sister herself and didn't want to think about something happening to her.
"Where?" The taller of the two's gaze was just as intense as Dean's and Kasey didn't hesitate in answering. She watched as they turned on their heels and left without another word. Kasey watched them go, pained herself, and hoped they found him.
"You know what I'm asking?"
Alec lay shaking, staring up through the haze but still he nodded. He still remembered but it was getting harder to hold onto the images, to hold onto the voices of the only two people he'd met that had ever cared about him.
"You really did inherit that stubbornness didn't you?"
Alec choked on a laugh and then a scream when the pain spiked again, momentarily whiting out everything else. Do what you want, he thought when he was able to again. He'd been through worse, he was convinced. His total time in Psy-Ops added up to almost two years of his life.
"It's not going to take that long." A pause. "However…maybe I should try a different tactic."
This time, the physical pain didn't come back but what did come was much worse.
"Well?" Dean asked as soon as he and Sam stepped into the motel room and found Cas waiting for them.
"I believe that Zachariah does have him."
Dean slumped down on one of the beds, the last bit of hope he had leaving. Manticore, he could have dealt with better. Hell, Cas could have just taken him out again if it was them. But Cas wasn't even really a match for Zachariah anymore, not with his power fading the way it had been since he'd sided with Dean and Sam over the other angels.
"What the hell do we do now? How do we find him?" Dean stood back up abruptly, agitated. The question was directed more at himself that it was Cas but Cas still answered it.
"I will search but it may be futile. I have been cut off from Heaven now long enough and Zachariah will have made sure he will not be found unless he wants to be."
"Unless he wants to be," Dean repeated. "As in if you do find him, it'll most likely be a trap."
"Yes," Cas answered. "If they truly want this battle, they will need Sam as well."
"Right." Dean blew out a frustrated breath.
"Maybe we need some bigger guns," Sam suggested.
Dean turned to his brother, his gaze sharp. "What?"
"Well, even if we do find Zachariah, we still need a way to fight him. And Zachariah isn't an archangel but we do know-"
"No. No way, Sam. We are not askin' that douchebag for help!"
"You got a better idea?" Sam stood as well. "He is an archangel, Dean. He'd probably be able to find Zachariah easily and get Alec out without any risk."
"Yeah, he's also an archangel that wants this fight to go down, if you'll remember," Dean countered with a scowl. "That's why he took us on the trip through TV land, wasn't it?"
"Maybe he changed his mind. Maybe what you said got to him. He didn't come after us again after you let him go, did he? And he could have easily," Sam pointed out.
Dean hesitated and shook his head. "After everything he's done you really think he'll help us?"
Sam shrugged. "Probably not but I'm willing to try whatever it takes." There was fierceness in Sam's eyes as he said it and Dean nodded.
"Okay. Okay, fine."
"This is how it's going to end."
The physical pain was gone but Alec was still left helpless, unable to move as the images, vivid in clarity, played out before his eyes. He watched Dean and Sam die and he screamed louder than he had since he'd been taken away.