Many thanx for the continuing feedback, it's much appreciated. Once again, apologies for the delay. J.
Dean scratched his head in frustration as he studied the words in front of him, trying to get his tongue around the pronunciation.
"Tell me again why I have to read and you hold the box."
"What? You mean aside from the fact that you studied Latin extensively and would probably know more now than I ever will?"
"Yes," he answered, petulantly.
Latin was never something Dean enjoyed when he was a kid, and although he was proficient enough, he still struggled a little at times. Whenever he could, he got Sam to read the spells and incantations. His worst nightmare was that he'd get an important word wrong and that because of him someone would die. It was that exact self-doubt that Missouri picked up on.
The medium sighed. "I know you're worried because you think you might mess up, but honey, you won't."
Dean let out a strangled laugh that sounded suspiciously like a sob.
Missouri carried on. "You've been reading this sort of text since you were a boy. It's going to come to you as naturally as the word, Sammy."
Dean's eyes flew unconsciously to the ceiling.
His only brother. The brother he loved without condition, even though he'd never told him so. The one who was lying unconscious right now and who was counting on Dean to get him out of this shit awful mess, because that's what big brother's did.
Missouri felt the shift in Dean's mood and smiled. His apprehension was replaced by a new feeling of determination. No one messed with this boy's family and he was going to show what happened if anyone tried.
"The incantation is going to take two, Dean. While you read the passage that will bring the demon out, I'll be reading another to bring into the box and make sure it STAYS trapped. It's the only way we're going to get Sam back. We can do this together, okay?"
Dean nodded his understanding. "Okay. Let's do it."
"Are you sure we have to do this?" Dean asked as he looped a last rope around his brother's ankle and secured it to the bedpost.
"I'm sorry, honey. I don't like any more than you, but we have to be safe. Once this thing realises what's going on, Heaven knows what it will do to escape. This is as much for Sam's safety as ours."
Still, the boy looked unsure, making Missouri wonder if she should count on him to stay strong enough to see this through. She knew that any day of the week, Dean Winchester was a focused on the job as his father – if not more. However this was no ordinary day. This day it was his brother who was depending on him.
Giving her head a shake, Missouri chastised herself. She realised it was that need; SAM'S need, that would be enough to make Dean function as the first class hunter he had been trained to be.
"Okay. I think we're ready." Missouri sighed. "Before we start, there's something you have to be ready for. The demon is going to know right off what we're doing, while Sam has no clue about what's happening to him. It's going to use that to make you doubt yourself. Just remember the demon is going to take over as soon as it hears the incantation. I will be it and not Sam who will be doing the talking. So no matter how much it begs or screams or cries, just remember. It's NOT Sam."
Dean nodded tersely. "I've done exorcism's before. I know what sneaky bastards demons can be."
"I know, honey, but this isn't any ordinary job. I just want you to be ready for it."
Dean nodded again. "I know," he said softly.
Missouri took a deep breath. "Alright. What's say we get your brother back? Read."
Dean positioned himself at the foot of the bed and began to read the passage in front of him. At first he saw no change when he glanced from the book to his brother's face, but after minute he faltered when he heard his name being softly spoken.
Sam's eyes were on him; tired and confused. Dean glanced at Missouri and received the smallest of nods. Clearing his throat, Dean continued.
Sam tried to sit up before seeing the rope that was holding him to the bed.
"Dean!" he cried, looking around him. "What are you doing, dude? What's going on?"
Dean didn't answer, didn't even look at him.
Sam's eyes then fell on Missouri who was standing away from the bed, the onyx box in her hands and open. On seeing the box, a gasp escaped Sam and he began to pull at the ropes with all he had.
Missouri saw the change in body language and knew Sam was no longer in control. She watched as the demon fought against the rope, pleading to be released.
"Dean, don't do this! It's me, man. Please, let me up, Dean, you're scaring me! Missouri, please! Make him stop."
Dean blinked back the tears that were threatening to fall as his brother pleaded and begged. He couldn't bring himself to look at Sam, but he carried on reading resolutely.
The demon thrashed about wildly, trying desperately to find some give in the ropes. All the while, Dean read calmly and precisely from the book in his hands, his faith in Missouri growing stronger with ever passing second. The medium sensed that trust and smiled.
Suddenly, Sam's body quieted. Dean immediately stopped reading and looked up from the book. Sam was deathly still, his face pale and drawn, his breathing quiet and controlled.
"Sam?" Dean took a tentative step toward the bed, but was halted by Missouri's voice.
"No, Dean. You have to keep reading. Finish the passage."
"No buts, honey. It's playing on your emotions. You have to finish."
Dean hesitated for a moment, before realising Missouri still held an empty box. He nodded his head unconsciously and took a step back. He cleared his throat and began to read the last of the passage, and as he did so, Sam began to buck against the ropes once more.
"No! Dean, please. You're hurting me. Dean, NO!"
With the final no, Dean heard the change. Sam's voice was gone, and in its place was a deep, feral growl.
The demon cried out, arching it's back off the bed and letting out a final angry howl. Dean came to the end of the passage and watched as a thick, black mist began spilling out of Sam's mouth. Somewhere behind him, Dean heard Missouri. Speaking in low, steady tones, and in a language he didn't recognise, she commanded the demon into the onyx box. The black mist twisted and turned as the demon fought the inevitable, but eventually the words became too strong for it to overcome, and with a howl of anger the mist streamed into the box. Once it was all inside, Missouri slammed the box lid shut and fastened the catch.
"Thank you, and goodnight," she grinned at Dean.
Dean grinned back until a low moan from the bed grabbed his attention. Dropping the book, he leapt to Sam's side. Sitting down on the bed, he placed a hand gently on Sam's brow.
Eyes still closed, Sam's face furrowed in confusion and he turned toward his brother's voice.
"Yeah, Sammy, it's me. Open your eyes now."
Sam's eyelids fluttered for a moment before slowly sliding up.
"Hey," he said softly as his eyes found Dean's.
Dean grinned. "Hey yourself. How're you feeling?"
Sam took a moment to take stock of his body before deciding. "Tired," he sighed.
Missouri stepped up to the bed, smiling. "Well now, why don't you rest for a while then?"
Sam barely nodded. "Okay," he said, as his eyes slid shut of their own accord.
Missouri ran a gentle hand through Dean's hair before patting him on his shoulder.
"He's going to be fine," she told him, effectively squashing the last of Dean's fears. "You did just great, honey. Just like I said you would."
With the banishment of the Soul Catcher, the spirits in Missouri's yard were free and as Dean sat with his brother, she had come out to the yard and helped them all cross over to the next plain. Looking out across the now empty yard as she stirred a pot of Bolognese sauce, Missouri smiled.
"Feeling better, honey?" She asked without turning around.
Sam grinned as he shuffled over to the kitchen table and sat down. "Much, thanks."
"Well that's good," she said, leaving the pot and sitting down opposite Sam. "You hungry? Supper's almost ready."
Sam stomach growled before he could answer, making him blush.
Missouri chuckled. "I'll take that as yes."
"Where's Dean?" Sam asked, looking for a change of topic.
Missouri nodded toward the living room. "He was wiped out," she said. "He's asleep on the couch."
"Am not." Dean grumbled as he appeared at the door, his hair sticking up wildly and his eyes bleary from having just woken up.
Missouri clapped her hands to her chest and laughed heartily. "Boy! You look like Sonic the Hedgehog!"
Dean glared at her, one eyebrow raised. "Thank you so much."
She laughed again as she got up and went back to the pot. Dean took up her seat and looked at his brother critically.
"So, Sammy. You okay?"
Sam nodded. "I'm fine. I have no clue about what happened, but I'm okay."
"You don't remember any of it?"
"Oh sure, I remember getting beat up and slapped around. I remember arriving here, but not much else" he hesitated before looking directly at Dean. "I think I remember you standing over the top of me. Reading. Latin."
"No way of putting this nicely, bro. You were…"
A pile of plates appeared with a clatter in front of the boys.
"Eat first," Missouri said firmly. "Talk later. Spaghetti is horrible reheated."
Both boys looked at the woman, and seeing they weren't going to win, chorused "Yes, maam," and began to tuck in.
Sam stared at his hands, as all kinds of thoughts ran through his head.
"When did it get into me? I didn't feel any different. How I could have not known it was there?"
"From what Dean has told me, it will have been back in Philsborough when you were in the diner," Missouri told him. "Sam, Soul Catchers are devious creatures. They prey on people with gifts of vision and foresight. They rely on their victims believing that what they see, what they feel, is part of that gift. In the ensuing confusion, the truth is missed and the demon is allowed free rein."
"Not this time." Dean growled.
"I hate to think what would have happened had you not known what it was." Sam said quietly.
"Let's just say you've have been a lot more tired than you are right now." Missouri replied with a smile. "It's getting late, why don't you boys head off to bed?"
Sam mumbled something under his breath and Missouri slapped at his arm.
"Boy, don't you go arguing with me. If you don't lie down soon, you're going fall on your face." She rounded on Dean pointing a finger. "And I don't want any argument from you either."
"Sam, come on. It's been a long and freaky day and Missouri's been up almost 24 hours now," Dean said, glancing at the medium. "Why don't you go ahead? I'll help with the washing up."
Sam shook his head, wondering if something had taken over his brother's mind. Dean Winchester washing up? However, he said nothing as he climbed to his feet. As he reached the door, he turned back and sought Missouri's eye.
"Thanks," he said quietly. "For everything."
Missouri smiled. "You're welcome, child," she said softly. "Now go to bed!"
As Sam left the room, Dean picked up the plates and made his way to the sink. "Do you want to wash or dry?" he asked.
"I'll dry. I don't trust you not to drop anything."
Dean chuckled and began to wash.
"What did you do with the box?"
"Now don't you go worrying. That box is a place where no one will ever find it."
"A bottomless pit?"
"Almost," she replied, coolly. "My under wear draw."
Dean's expression made Missouri laugh out loud.
"Don't worry. Tomorrow morning it will be going to that bottomless pit."
Dean laughed and shook his head. "You're a piece of work, Missouri, you know that, right?"
The medium smiled back. "Damn right!"
For a couple of minutes there was only the sound of plates being washed.
"I know you're planning on leaving here tomorrow."
Dean wasn't surprised by the statement. He knew Missouri Mosely didn't always have to read his mind to know what he was thinking; she could read him like a book.
"I thought it might be better to get Sam back on the road as soon as possible," he said. "Take his mind off what happened."
"Sam's not the only one to be worried about it, honey." Missouri said. "I know this has unsettled you too."
Dean didn't say anything; he just rubbed the plate a little harder, making Missouri reach over and take it out of his hands.
"Dean, despite all the crazy things you see almost everyday, you're never going to be ready for everything. It's okay to feel scared sometimes."
"I'm not scared." Dean argued.
"Of taking on spirits and demons, no, but I know sometimes you get scared for Sam, and for your dad."
Dean was silent again.
Missouri put down the towel. "Look, all I'm saying is that it's been a rough few days for you, as well as your brother. Why don't you stay on few more days to get yourselves back on track? I know Sam needs the rest, and judging by the look of you, you need it too. If you're worried getting bored, there are a heap of odd jobs to be done around here, and I'd sure appreciate the help in getting them…"
"Okay, okay," Dean held up his hands in surrender. "We'll stay a couple more days."
Missouri smiled, genuinely pleased with the change of plans.
"That's great," she said, heading for the stairs and leaving Dean to put the lights out behind him. "Having a handyman around is going to save me a fortune."
Sorry it's taken forever to finish. Hope it was worth the wait ;) Jackie