"You want to do what?" John asked with deadly calm, making the others in the kitchen cringe at what that really meant; he was beyond pissed, he was dangerous.
Joshua sighed, "I know it's a risk, but damn it John it's the only thing that we've found. I'm not saying it'll be easy, and I sure as hell am not saying it's a good idea, but what other choice do we have?" He had known what the reaction was going to be before he had even pitched the idea, but after seeing Sam right after he got back, he knew that they had to do something or risk losing the kid forever.
It took a moment of standing there in complete shock before Dean asked incredulously, "You want to summon a reaper to get Sam's soul back? How do we even know…"
"Look Dean, I know it's a long shot. The demon I saw explained it as if that Dee Dee whatever had made sure that in the final stages of her feeding, the path back was severed. Sam's stuck, not here because she pulled him out, but not there because it's not his time. If we don't hurry, his body will completely shut down, and there will be no chance of bringing him back." Joshua wasn't happy about it either, but what was he supposed to do, feed them some sort of sugar coated crap? He didn't work that way, and wouldn't do it to his friends anyway. Looking over at the other hunters he could tell that this was a hard sell, but he could only hope that someone either found a better alternative, or started agreeing with him soon; Sam didn't have too much time left, the kids veins were already starting to collapse making IV's a bitch to put in and precarious to work.
"You can't do it here." Jim said firmly, bringing everyone's attention to him. He saw several shocked reactions but he held up his hand, "There's the small clearing in the woods, it's not holy ground and we can put up the black altar there." He didn't want to entertain the idea of having to resort to dark magic, but no other solution was forthcoming. As he walking into the room that he kept locked, securing many different weapons as well as information of the lost arts, he sent up another prayer that young Samuel wasn't suffering.
Sam was somewhere; he thought he was anyway. It was kind of hard to tell since he wasn't sure if he felt anything, or really saw anything; he just seemed to be drifting in nothing. He'd been unconscious enough to know what that felt like, but this felt almost permanent, sort of. He would have been confused if he really cared what had happened and what was going on. Since he didn't, then it was easy to allow the nothingness to fill him until even the stray thought that started to form was quickly pulled away before he could grasp its meaning.
Not knowing how long he was there or much longer he would be, he was surprised when he heard, or would it be felt, a voice behind him. Suddenly his perception was back and it wasn't pleasant, he was actually wishing for the nothingness to come back; at least then he wouldn't feel such hopelessness. As if his eyes had been opened he was shocked at who he saw, and couldn't grasp the meaning of it. "Mom?"
Mary Winchester smiled at her youngest son. She had been sent to him until the loophole that had been created with Dee Dee's demise was closed. Although very happy to see how much he had grown, it saddened her to know the anguish he was experiencing even now. To keep him from letting go, she had to help anchor him to where he truly belonged; but that included the pain that he had felt before as well as the pain his body was feeling now. She could only pray that John and Dean hurried, because no matter how stubborn Sam was, every person had their limits; her son was almost to his.
Originally the plan had been for Jim to stay behind with Sammy to make sure he was taken care of, but the more the plan formed, everyone quickly realized the Pastor's expertise could be needed. Caleb had volunteered since everyone knew that if it had to do with Sammy, Dean would need to be in the middle of it, unfortunately, it became painfully obvious that until they really knew what was going to happen they needed everyone they could get.
Thinking back on the situation, they each couldn't help but wonder what had possessed them to bundle Sammy in blankets and take him with them. If anything went wrong they were even further from help, and if everything went right being out in the cold, wet weather wasn't the best thing for him to start his recovery. Knowing it was too late now, they all vowed to hurry through the ritual and get to the bottom of this insanity before the youngest member of their group slipped away from either natural or other type of causes.
The altar had been laid out, the ritual had been performed, the spell had been spoken but nothing happened. Jim was going to suggest repeating it in case they got in to big of a hurry when a movement in the woods had the hunter's on full alert. John and Dean both had trouble staying upright when they saw who it was, and then John went from shocked to thoroughly pissed off.
"What the hell do you think you're doing using her to show yourself?" he bellowed, his voice echoing through the trees sending animals scurrying away in fright.
"I come in the form that brings the most comfort John Winchester, if you would like I can leave." The form of Mary said, turning back the way it came.
"Wait!" Dean yelled, effectively stopping the reaper in its steps. "We need you to help my brother. You see…"
"I know about your brother, Dean. He is with her as we speak, and until the decision is made, that is where he will stay." It said softly, watching as the hunters handled their weapons as if getting ready for a battle. "I only come for those whose time has passed here on this plane. His has not been decided."
Jim had known that this wouldn't be easy, but even he was having trouble following what the reaper was talking about. "What do you mean it's not been decided? The demon pulled him out of his body and…"
This was the only part of her job that she did not like. Humans always saw things in the finite, never looking around to bigger scheme. "The natural order has been disturbed, by all laws of nature; Sam's soul is ready to move on. However since his circumstances are caused by the unnatural, there is a great argument about what to do with him." The reaper volunteered, wanting to enlighten those standing before her.
"So, he's what… in limbo?" Dean asked, not exactly sure what that entailed, but he had a feeling that he wouldn't like it.
"In a sense, yes. He is unable to move forward, and prevented to cross back."
John stood there watching the creature pretend to be his Mary and it took everything in him not to find a way to toast the entity for its blasphemy. However, he subdued his impulses and listened. Finally, he couldn't wait, "You said that Sam is with Mary, does that mean that she hasn't moved on either?"
"No, she is there to keep him from falling deeper into the abyss. A solution must be found before his body is not longer salvageable, until then your Mary is keeping him aware and closer to this plane of existence."
Joshua groaned, he didn't like the sound of that. If he was right that meant that any pain that Sam would be feeling right now, is exactly what he is feeling while with Mary. Some days he really didn't like being knowledgeable in the otherworld fine print. Looking between Jim and Bobby he could tell that they had figured it out too. Looking at the woman in front of him he asked, "What can we do to bring him back to us where he belongs?"
Smiling sadly, the reaper only shook her head and walked over the bundled form lying on the ground under a tree for protection from the wind. They had all continued to silently watch her, and wondered what she was thinking, or if reapers really thought at all. Suddenly she asked quietly, "How was he able to feed her so well?"
Swallowing down the tears, Dean could only respond with "His heart's too big", making the other hunters nod in agreement. They had always known that having such a tender heart would make a hunter's life more difficult; painful. Now the evidence of that belief was quite literally staring at them, making them feel unworthy to carry on without him to remind them of why they fight the darkness everyday.
Nodding, she smiled, then placed her hand upon his head and spoke gently. "I release you."
Mary had known the exact moment the decision was made, and she wished now that she had had more time with her Sammy. Knowing the things she knew, she had wanted to bring him comfort about the days ahead, but instead only brought him more confusion and questions. She had allowed herself the indulgence of holding her son and kissing his cheek like she had when he was a baby, and then he was gone, giving her a sense of emptiness. "Take care of my boys John" she whispered, before she too blended into the ether.
The reaper had disappeared as softly as she had appeared, leaving the hunters wondering what to expect. However as soon as they finished their musings, a loud piercing scream broke the silence sending them over to a now awake Sammy who was obviously feeling everything that his body had been experiencing.
Dean could have kicked himself as the sudden realization of his brother's pain hit him full force. Having no reactions to his environment and showing no signs of pain earlier, it had been easy to forget that Sammy had been through the ringer and had surgery less than a week ago, not to mention the trauma his body had gone through while slowly shutting down. 'When was the last time he had any pain meds?' he berated himself, knowing that whatever the answer, it was too long.
Scooping his son into his arms, John held him close disturbed not by the screams, but how light and frail Sammy was in his arms. Even in the short time they had been at Jim's, his boy had faded fast, and now he was back and the shock could very well do him in. 'Wonder if the damn reaper knew about this.' John growled to himself, now wishing that he had sent the damn thing screaming back to where it came from.
"John! We need to get him back to the house." Joshua yelled at John, hoping that they could still keep Sam from succumbing to shock, while at the same time kicking himself for not thinking about this possibility.
Although it didn't take long to get back, they all were terrified by the time they had got there when Sam's screams had turned into hoarse moans with every move and breath he took. Finally getting him back into the room, they were grateful to see that he had finally succumbed to unconsciousness if for no other reason, so that Sam wouldn't feel everything so intensely.
Finally getting everything in place after taking several tries and attempting a couple of locations for an IV, they could only pray that they weren't too late in getting him the help he needed. John sat on one side of his baby boy's bed and took his hand, "Sammy, we're here and we're not going anywhere, so don't you dare give up. You hear me son? Don't give up."
Jim had been researching the ritual they had used four days ago to release Samuel from the imposed limbo he had been in, but as with every other time he looked, he could not find anything that would account for any type of backlash that would account for the young man's unconscious state. He hadn't been kidding himself, he knew that the events that Samuel had gone through had worn him out, but as with the others, Jim felt that he should have woke by now.
Putting the books away he went back upstairs to sit with the young man in question, and pray for some sort of divine intervention; although he had the feeling that they had already been granted that with Samuel still being among the living at all. Reaching the room, he saw Dean reading to his little brother and Bobby checking Sam's vitals again.
"Jim, could you come hear a second?" Bobby asked looking as if he was contemplating a great puzzle.
Dean looked up to watch both men as they retook Sammy's blood pressure. Not wanting to hope too much, he watched closely as a small smile formed on Jim's face, and he was racing out of the room as soon as Jim asked him to get his dad.
It took only a few moments before the sounds of pounding feet were heard racing up the stairs and down the hallway. John was the first one in followed by Dean, Joshua and Caleb. At their worried glances, Bobby smiled, "Looks like he still has some fight in him. His BP's up, his pulse is slowing down, and if I'm not mistaken, that's his little finger moving right over there."
Dean pushed past his father and slid to the floor by his brother's side. "Hey, it's time to get up sleepy head. We've got places to go and people to see and we're just waiting on you Sammy." He said, hoping that Sammy didn't hear the tears that were building, he didn't want his little brother to get the wrong idea.
Sitting on the other side, John stroked his son's hair and watched as Sammy's left hand seemed to twitch in his brother's grasp, making him feel confident that his baby boy was truly waking up. "Come on Sammy, you need to wake up now. Everyone's been worried about you, keep showing them how stubborn you really are." He said, knowing that with every word, his throat was tightening even more. Something caught his attention out of the corner of his eye, and when he looked, he saw a pair of beautiful eyes taking in the room around them. Sammy! Oh God son, you have no idea how worried we've been." John exclaimed, not caring how sappy he sounds, he just wanted to make sure his boy knew how much he meant to them.
Sam looked around tiredly, not knowing where he was at first or how he got there, but felt his dad and brother next to him. He tried to smile, but felt too tired, and the decision to stay awake or figure things out was made for him.
Dean sat there and watched his brother look around without any real recognition and felt a stab of fear. 'What if he's truly damaged in some way?' He thought, hoping that he was wrong, but fearing that he wasn't. Shaking the doubt away, he knew that it didn't matter, his brother was alive, and he was going to do whatever it took to make sure he stayed that way. Looking at his dad he boldly stated, "We have to talk."
It had been almost five months since Sam woke to feeling his family around him, and three months since they had moved out of the rectory into a small house close by. Dean had told John that until Sammy was a hundred percent better, there was no way they were going traipsing across country and back, and if he didn't like the idea he knew where the door was. Needless to say John had stood there with a shocked look on his face until Jim came out in the hall and told him that since that had been settled he was going downstairs to fix dinner.
Sam was brought out of his musings, still in awe by what he had learned from Caleb and Joshua, when he saw Dean looking all over the house for some unattainable object. "Hey, what on Earth are you looking for?" he asked, hoping to stop Hurricane Dean from undoing all the cleaning he had done earlier.
"My jacket, I know I left it…" Dean trailed off when he saw Sammy holding up the object of his search.
"On the back of the couch where you're wonderful brother put it in the closet for you?" Sam teased. He had asked Dean why he still had the stupid thing considering the reminders that was attached to it, and his older brother surprised him by saying, 'Cause my geeky little brother went through hell to give it to me. Now shut up and pass the popcorn.' Thinking about that always made Sam smile, not because Dean felt attached to his gift, but because he was so attached to him.
Dean had just finished putting the jacket on when he looked out the window then at the clock. "So, five bucks says he'll come in late mumbling about a hunt." He said smirking, knowing that it was a no-brainer.
For all the promising that John had made to both boys that any hunting would be simple salt and burns or exorcisms, and only close by with the possible weekend trip thrown in… and of course only once Sammy was ready, both boys knew that the day would come when the supernatural world around them would come crashing back into their lives, and they'd be back in full swing. Sam didn't begrudge his dad; in fact the past months staying so close together had made them both realize how much they were needed in the family, how much they both were relied upon; how much they were loved.
Smiling, Sam looked at Dean, "Uh uh, too easy… name the hunt and where you got it the info." He let out a laugh when he heard Dean mumble something about smart aleck little brother's. He was enjoying this taste of normal, but he knew that one day it would all change and they'd be off again. That was ok though, because right now, he had everything he could have ever wanted; his family.
Dean had been looking all over the place for his leather jacket, and as usual, little brother knew exactly where it was. He couldn't help but watch Sammy's face light up when he teased him about knowing where the damn thing was, and that was more than worth any form of ribbing his sibling tossed at him. He remembered how close it had been, then the weeks it took for Sammy's body to get the strength to do the tiniest things like feed himself. No, he wasn't going to take for granted the walking, talking Sammy anytime soon; and he knew their dad felt the same way. Dad had actually started to see Sammy as an extension of himself instead of a responsibility that he couldn't be bothered with. The last several months had been fairly peaceful for all of them, not to say that dad and Sammy didn't get into it, but now it was more of a controlled conflict instead of all out war. Oh he knew that it would go back to the way it was, but for right now he was enjoying what he had; his family safe and sound.
AN: Hope you liked it... let me know!