Thank you so much Jenjoremy for saddling up on another story for me. You're the best beta around. Thank you Gredelina1 for everything you do for me and the story. Thank you also to the people of Facebook's Fanfiction Writer's Critique Group for all your help with the prologue.
1843 – London, England.
The blades pierced Richard's skin, drawing rivulets of blood, and he cried out weakly, tears slipping from his reddened eyes.
"You see the scarificator makes the cuts most satisfactorily," the doctor said as he lined up the machine again a little further down the child's arm. "The cuts are only superficial, but they allow the weakened blood to flow out most effectively. It lessens the risk of excess draining, letting out the good blood with the bad."
Charlotte whimpered and covered her mouth with her handkerchief. James moved to stand beside her and laid a hand on her arm in a gesture of comfort. The doctor looked up from his task and said, "Perhaps you would allow me to bleed you as well, Lady Hydeker. It might help balance your own humors."
"There is no need for that," James said firmly. His wife wasn't having vapors; she was dealing with the strain of seeing her son being slowly drained by the consumption. He had tried to keep her out of the room, but she was a dedicated mother and had resisted all his efforts.
The doctor nodded, his mustache bristling as he blew out a breath, and pressed down on the scarificator again. Richard didn't cry out this time. He seemed too exhausted. He merely flinched.
James stared down at the child from his place beside the bed and felt a wave of inadequacy. Had he dedicated his long years to researching medicine instead of business, he could perhaps have found some solution to their situation. Though in his heart he knew there was nothing he could do for his adopted son. He had always been sickly—a weakness surely inherited from his deceased father—and in his almost six years, he had never known a day of true vitality.
He was an engaging child though, and James cared for him very much, more than was usual among his peers. He could see the potential the child held within his mind, even through his youth. His life was largely spent indoors due to his ill health, and he filled his days with music. He was already proficient with the piano and hidden in James' study was the violin he had bought for his sixth birthday. He had seen that Richard was no ordinary child the day he met him two years ago, begged by Charlotte to audience him even though it was not usually the done thing until after the wedding for a child so young.
Richard was as dear to James as anyone had ever been.
The doctor lifted the scarificator and James saw the rows of neat cuts, still weeping trickles of blood.
"They can be bandaged now," the doctor instructed the maid who was serving as his assistant in Richard's care. She bobbed a curtsey, quickly gathered the required rolls of cloth, and set to work bandaging the wounds on Richard's arm.
The doctor came to James and held out his hand. James obliged the handshake and said, "When can we expect you again?"
"I will return this evening," he answered. "While I am gone you should have someone stay with him. If the coughing becomes a problem again, raise his bed, and if the fever should return, wrap him in red flannel." He looked disapprovingly at Charlotte crying silently into her handkerchief. "You should rest, Lady Hydeker. You have your own health to care for."
Swinging his black bag at his side, he strode from the room.
James watched the maid wrapping Richard's arms with clean cloths and a wave of sadness washed over him. The boy's chestnut hair was plastered to his temple with the sweat that had formed in the night with the fever and his uniquely colored eyes, amber and emerald combined, were bloodshot. He began to cough again, and disregarding propriety, James sat down and lifted the child against his chest. Charlotte sat on the other side of the bed as the maid, having finished her task, melted back into the shadows. Charlotte took both of Richard's hands into her own and rubbed at them to warm them as James patted his back.
It didn't help this time, though. The coughing fit wracked Richard's tiny frame, his chest rising and falling with each weak, rasping breath.
James' heart began to race with fear.
"Fetch back the doctor!" he ordered the maid who scurried from the room.
"Nice deep breaths, son," James said, recognizing as he did that it was the first time he had addressed the child as son.
Richard did not, could not, obey though. His breaths became more labored and took on a gurgling quality that scared James.
"His lips, James!" Charlotte said shrilly. "They're blue!"
Though coughs still wracked Richard, they seemed to be without his own impetus. He was lying back weakly against James, as if he didn't have the strength to hold himself upright.
The doctor came blustering back into the room then, saying, "Well, what do we have here now?"
He didn't move to assist though. He looked at the child in James' arms and said, "I see."
"What do you see?" Charlotte asked, her voice pitched high with worry. "Do something!"
"I am sorry, Lady Hydeker, but there is nothing to be done," he said apologetically.
Richard's coughs had tapered away, and at first James thought that was good, he was reviving, but the breaths came weak and very shallow, barely there, and he realized what was happening. Richard was waning.
Disregarding the doctor's presence, he held Richard close and began to rock him gently back and forth. Charlotte was crying loudly, making so much noise that James couldn't hear Richard's breaths anymore. He felt it though when they stopped, and he knew Richard was gone, and yet he didn't stop rocking him. The tears that burned his eyes fell, streaking a hot path down his cheeks, as he held the beloved boy in his arms and rocked him back and forth.
1987 - Fort Douglas, Wisconsin.
James looked down at the sleeping child and shock rocked through him. His hair was the exact same shade of brown, and it curled ever so slightly, just as it had before, and the face… the face was identical in every detail.
"Richard," he breathed.
With his shock the urge to feed seeped out of him and the form of James Hydeker returned, the sunken eyes and pale skin of his Shtriga self disappeared and he appeared human again.
The child stirred and James waited with bated breath to see the eyes, knowing even before he did that they would be the same unique color they had been all those years ago. They were.
The child blinked up at him for a moment, confusion becoming fear. "Dean?" he called querulously.
"It's okay, Richard," James said. "You're going to be okay."
"My name's Sam," the child said.
James smiled. What was a changed name when set against the miracle that was Richard's return.
"Well, Sam, I'm going to help you," he said.
James glanced through the bedroom door to the empty room beyond. There was no one there but him and the miraculous child. He was all alone.
"Dean doesn't matter now," he said, pushing back the bedspread and scooping him into his arms. "I'm going to take care of you."
"No!" the child cried. "Dean! Help me! Dean!"
James squeezed them out of the window, hearing the motel door fly open and a young voice calling after them. "Sam! No! Sam!"
James felt the child shaking in his arms as he ran with him away from the motel.
"It's okay, Sam," he soothed. "You will be okay. You're never going to be left alone again. I will save you."
So… Here we go. My 34th Supernatural story. I know this prologue is different from what you've come to expect from me or the show. Stick with me though, as the next chapter takes us back into more familiar territory.
Until next time...
Clowns or Midgets xxx