Author's Notes: I'm afraid it's been slow going on getting up the later chapters, mostly because I'm trying to decide at which point I want to cut the story off to keep it sensible, but to be able to continue it if I want later on down the line. I hope that made sense. Basically, there's a ton more RPs to go through, but I think for the sake of not getting repetitive and elongating the story past what I would consider its prime, I'm only going for a few more; the only issue is deciding what one I want to stop at. Anyway, I have a week to write chapter 14 (I know, I suck!), so I'm hoping to get that done. I have one scene of it finished. I've just been really busy lately, and RL things have been preventing me from writing too much. Plus, as is usually the case with stories this long, I'm getting winded. But, I'm doing my best!

angelkat2502: Wow! It makes me happy to hear someone would sit and read through the entirety of my story thus far in one sitting. Haha! I hope the rest of the later chapters are that appealing to you. :D

elfwarrior87: So close indeed. Closer than you might think, given this chapter. ;)

Zane: The random Russian...Kostya on your mind, love? Hehehe. Also, I dunno if you read the other reviews, but Destatikai is complimenting your Dean. :D

Destatikai: I was thinking the same thing in terms of weight of the chapter...it would have been way too much to go from them preparing to them doing it without so much as some downtime in between. Here, at least, that's changed a little bit. Plus, this needed to be its own chapter, because I wasn't sure how long it would be. But, after not including certain scenes (like one toward the end between Wyatt and Chris--I might regret that decision, but we'll see, and one between Wyatt and Sam just after that), it shortened it some. So! And hahahaha. I'm glad you like Mel. She's a spunky little one, and I love writing her based on the Mel that's in my Charmed stories. :P

All right everyone! The big return scene is at hand! Enjoy, and let me know what you think!!


Tonight was the night.

Sam was anxious, and he knew that both Wyatt and Chris shared the sentiment. The three of them had prepared and prepared, toiling through long nights and early mornings to try and find some way to get to Dean. When one road proved ineffective, they went a different route; it had taken far longer than any of them would have liked in order to find precisely the right path to take, but all that mattered was that they had done so.

They had also managed to devise a plan to save Dean.

Finding the right way had happened almost by accident. While Wyatt gathered something up from the kitchen for them to snack on, Sam and Chris sat at the small café table in the sunroom, attempting to scry for Dean once again. Through some miracle, Chris had managed to hone in on the area where he was, and with Sam's help, they discovered the location.

Though they had attempted to orb in, it was impossible—powerful magic protected the lair, and there was no getting through without some serious barrier breaking.

After their unsuccessful attempt at barging in, Sam did his best to help Wyatt and Chris with breaking down the wards that were there through the use of extensive magic—the likes of which he would have been killed for using, had his brother known.

But, Sam felt reinvigorated by the prospect of being able to get Dean, despite both the physical and emotional exhaustion he suffered from because of it. He was currently in Chris and Wyatt's room, waiting for Chris to perform the spell in his hands that would take them to Dean.

"All right, we ready?" The younger witch bit his lower lip.

He looked about as nervous as Sam felt.

"I doubt we can get more ready," Wyatt said. He glanced around him at the scattered mess of books, maps, paper, clothes and empty food wrappers that lay about the bedroom. His eyes lingered on the pile of comforters and pillows that Sam had been sleeping on.

"If things get bad, Sam…stay behind us, okay?"

Sam nodded, although he doubted he truly would. Dean was his brother, and he was going to do anything he could in order to save him. Chris and Wyatt may have had a better grasp of their powers, but that didn't mean Sam was completely useless. He was well trained and knew how to hold his own.

He holstered his gun, looking from one witch to the next. He also had a few darts packed into a holder on the other side of his waist, as well as the customary flask of holy water. He wasn't going to take any chances.

Chris said after a pause, "It's now or never."

All three men took a step closer to one another, forming a triangle in the middle of Chris and Wyatt's room. They joined hands while Chris chanted:

"Demon of tricks, demon of lies, no longer do you have a disguise. With our power we reveal all, appearing beside you with our call."

Unlike before, the spell activated in a flourish of white and gold orbs, which surrounded Sam, Chris and Wyatt and transported them from the Halliwell manor to a dark, dank area with a pungent aroma of moss and greenery. The inside was cool, and sounds reverberated all about them.

They had been transported directly into a cave.

Chris groaned. "God, do demons ever have a not dark and ugly place to live?"

"I think it goes with the territory." Wyatt chuckled. "Nasty creatures, nasty living space. You know, like maggots."

"Where are you guys?" Sam asked as he felt around in the dark. He could barely make anything out. Had he thought ahead, he would have brought a flashlight.

"Oh, I'm over here. Hang on a sec."

Wyatt's voice continued down through the cave, fading until it disappeared completely. A couple of seconds later a bright collection of white-blue lights burst into the air above them, giving the cave an incandescent glow. The pale skin of both Wyatt and Chris illuminated with a bluish tint.

"Nice trick," Sam commented, glancing upward. "Won't it give us away?"

Wyatt snorted. "You think I'm worried?"

I would be, Sam thought to himself. But then, I'm not the most powerful witch on Earth.

"Nah."

Chris laughed, and the three of them began trekking through the cave. There was clutter everywhere—collections of rocks, crates, nets and all other sorts of strange paraphernalia were scattered along the narrow corridor. The light above them guided them through to a large, circular, open area, with a high ceiling formed by jagged rocks.

Sam had barely passed through into the cavern when a vision assaulted him. A painful snapshot of his brother beaten and bloody against a wall flashed in his mind, causing him to groan and stumble to the side. He gripped his head as Chris reached out and helped him to keep his balance.

"Wyatt, wait!" he called after his brother.

"I can see Dean," Sam gasped through gritted teeth. "He's…God, what the fuck did the demon do to him?" He closed his eyes and hissed in pain as another vision hit him. This one lasted longer, and this time, he saw the binds that held Dean in place. There were scars on his wrists, and blood dampened his jeans….

Wyatt stopped at Chris's command, turning back and moving closer. He looked worried. "If he's here, then he's alive, Sam, that's all that matters!" His words were quick. He reached down to take hold of Sam's other arm. "Where is he? Can you see him?"

"I can't tell," Sam grunted. He attempted to open his eyes, but the split vision between what was in his head and what was physically before him made him ill. It hurt to see Dean's body lying there so helpless, in obvious pain. He tightened his grip on Chris's sleeve, trying to keep himself as steady as possible.

But just as quickly as the visions came, they were gone, leaving Sam with the same head-throbbing pain that got him each and every time. He panted a few times and rubbed at his eyes, about to let go of Chris when he was abruptly forced to.

"Fireball!" he heard Chris shout.

A few yards away from them Sam's somewhat bleary eyes focused on what looked to be six, maybe seven demons. They glowed an eerie blue in the magical light, but what Sam focused on was the fireball that seemed to slingshot right back at one of the demons, lighting him ablaze and causing him to explode.

"Stupid—!"

Sam watched with somewhere between horror and fascination as Chris waved his arm across his front. A visible tidal wave of energy flew toward the demons, lifting some right up into the air while others went flying to the side to dodge it.

"Take Sam and find Dean," Chris ordered, eyes serious and focused on Wyatt. He quickly turned back to Loto's minions and waved his hand again. A nearby boulder nestled in the crook of the wall tore away and flew across the gravel-and-sand covered floor. To Sam it looked as if someone were skipping a pebble across the surface of a pond—effortless.

Wyatt grasped a tighter hold of Sam's arm and hauled him along the right-hand side of the cavern. "Come on, Sam, let's go!"

Before Wyatt managed to pull them into a thin side path dug into the cavern wall, Sam caught Chris lifting up his hands and clapping them together. Two of the larger demons launched off of the ground and slammed into each other. Before they hit the ground Chris sent them flying with another wave of his hand; they came in contact with a nearby stalagmite, upon which the dark haired witch impaled them. Flames consumed the demons as they died—the last image Sam saw before Wyatt pulled him completely into the narrow passageway.

"He's gotta be around here somewhere," Wyatt muttered to himself. "I can't sense him, though. This is—Sam!"

Sam gripped hold of Wyatt just in time to keep himself from collapsing on the ground. Another flash of Dean entered his head, and in it, he could see a similarity between the passageway just beside his brother and the one in which he currently found himself.

When he came to and it seemed he was vision free, Sam spat out, "He's not far from here. We're close!"

"Show me, Sam," Wyatt said. "We've gotta hurry. Chris can handle those guys, but he won't be able to handle their master alone."

"He's…" Sam paused only for a moment to think, "He's this way."

He had seen a particular curve in the path from the flashing vision, one that matched up well with what he currently saw before him. He bounded for it, with Wyatt at his side. At the end of the tunnel was a manmade archway, through which they found entrance to Loto's lair. The amount of light was abysmal, but Wyatt made no move to produce any more for them. Like Sam, he was shocked at the sight that lay before them.

What little brightness there was in the small lair shed light on Dean's form, battered, bruised and bloody against a stone wall. Dean looked malnourished, sick, and deathly pale. Sam's stomach lurched, and he gave a dry-heave. It was painful to see his brother in such a state.

"Dean," he said, kneeling down beside him and wanting to touch, but not knowing where, or even if it was safe to do so. "Dean, can you hear me?"

Now up close, Sam saw the contusions and cuts that littered his brother's face. His body, sick with adrenaline, began shaking, but he held it in as best he could. Dean's eyes shifted, but they were glazed over and looked unfocused. It scared Sam.

"Dean? It's me. It's Sam."

His tone grew stronger with each and every word, but it didn't seem to get through to Dean. His brother could barely stir. Sam turned to Wyatt, swallowing a thick lump of worry that had lodged in his throat.

"Is there anything you can do? We need to break these chains and get him out of here."

As Wyatt opened his mouth to speak, Chris appeared in a swirl of orbs. He cut his older brother off.

"The demon's here. We have to destroy the contract, now."

At his statement, both Sam and Wyatt looked around them. It was then that the older witch noticed a small, worn wooden chest just to the side of Dean's feet. He picked it up, staring at it.

"What is that?" Sam asked.

"I dunno," Wyatt replied. "Maybe it's the box with the contract?"

"Who cares what it is, just destroy it!" Chris barked.

A choked groan escaped from Dean's throat then and grabbed hold of Sam's attention. He turned to his brother, watching Dean press his cracked lips together and swallow roughly. He was trying to say something, but whatever it was got lost, becoming a wheeze. Dean's eyes watered and he clenched them shut—he looked to be in excruciating pain.

"Dean, hang on, we're gonna fix this!" Sam said.

"Damn it!" Wyatt cursed. "This box has got too powerful of magic for me to open it with my powers. Excalibur!"

Sam craned his neck around just in time to watch the legendary blade of kings materialize in Wyatt's hands. With a swift shift of the gleaming blade Wyatt turned it downward and impaled the lock on the chest, causing it to break with a loud clatter that made Dean's body twitch.

The chest opened, revealing piles and piles of scrolls buried inside. They were magicked to all fit, and were too small to determine which was whose. They would never find Dean's before Loto arrived, at this rate.

Wyatt dismissed Excalibur and knelt down to pick up the chest. "We have to burn them. We'll never be able to find just Dean's in there. We've got to burn them all."

Sam looked back and forth, his attention split between the witches and Dean. He tried to keep an eye on his brother while also attempting to make sense of what the other two were doing. He heard Chris murmur something about it being no problem to burn them all, and he watched as the witch pulled out a thin vial, which he threw with force onto the pile of contracts. Brilliant orange and red flames burst with a loud whoosh, and Chris and Wyatt jumped back. The fire consumed the papers within, singeing and charring them to a crisp.

As the fire within the box died down, Sam saw another burst of flames nearby. But they formed into a dark, daunting figure—Loto. He waved his hand across the front of him much like Chris had, and this time, it was the young witch and Wyatt who went flying.

"You really are stupid, witch, if you think you'd banish me—NO!"

Loto gave a harsh screech of rage at the sight of his contracts burning. A pair of fireballs immediately formed in his hands. Sam pulled his gun out quicker than he ever had before, but his shot went without a target; Loto went soaring through the air and hit the nearby wall, hard.

Sam watched Chris, arm extended, scramble to his feet and over toward his brother, whom he helped up. The two huddled together as Chris pulled out another piece of paper from within the folds of his pocket. There was rage in his gaze—a rage that Sam had never before seen, but could completely understand.

He watched the two perform the spell, morbidly curious as the demon Loto froze in place, howling in severe pain. His body then gave a few unnatural jerks and twists before he collapsed to the floor in a heap of blood red flames. All that was left of him in the end was a singed collection of clothing.

With the demon gone, Chris and Wyatt moved closer to Sam and Dean. Sam swallowed and opened his mouth to say something, but Chris just shook his head, reaching out with his hands and sending the chains across the room with his orbing abilities. Dean slumped against the wall, and Sam helped keep him steady.

"I'll heal him," Chris murmured.

Sam had never—and probably would never—truly understand how Chris and Wyatt's powers worked. This capacity to heal was unbelievable, and although he had seen it once, seeing it here again rendered him speechless. As Chris guided his hands over Dean's face, wrists, stomach, and all along his body, the glowing golden light left an immaculately healed space behind. It even removed the crusted blood from Dean's wrists and mouth. It was unbelievable.

Dean awakened as if from a deep sleep, gasping and opening his eyes. He stared blankly into nothingness at first, but as his eyes came into focus he looked from Sam to Chris. A weak laugh escaped him and he lifted both arms to lay a hand on each of their shoulders. He gripped so tight it hurt, but Sam was thankful.

God, was he thankful.

"God, Dean," Sam whispered.

They had been through a hell of a lot of things before, but this really took the cake—especially now that the contract on Dean's life was gone. He was free.

Free.

Dean tugged his brother close, arm circling tightly around his shoulders. He pressed his head against the side of Sam's shaggy hair, and the younger hunter couldn't help but smile. He felt proud of himself, and of what they had accomplished.

After a few moments Dean pulled back, smiling all the while. He patted Sam's neck and then turned to Chris. As Sam shifted his weight from one leg to the other, he watched as his brother kissed the witch, hard and fierce.

For once, he didn't think or say anything about what was happening. Chris had done more than his fair share in saving Dean, and the two deserved a moment. Sam looked away, to Wyatt, who just smirked a little.

"Told you we'd save him," Chris murmured eventually. That Sam knew was directed toward him, and he snorted in quiet amusement.

"Where's my kiss?" Wyatt joked. He gave Dean's shoulder a small shake. "Come on, let's get the hell out of here, guys. Not the best place for a reunion."

He offered Dean a helping hand up, who took it and came to a wobbling stance with the added help of Sam.

. . .

Upon their arrival back to the witches' room, Wyatt and Sam guided Dean toward Chris's bed, gently setting him down.

"I'm gonna go get him some soup," Chris announced. "I'll be back."

"I'll go with ya," Wyatt said. "We could use something to drink, too."

As Chris and Wyatt left, Sam tugged up their desk chair around Wyatt's bed to Dean's bedside. He gripped his brother's shoulder to let him know that he was still there.

Dean closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. His words came out in a rough tone. "Thank you, Sammy…."

"It wasn't just me," Sam said, his grip tightening some.

It was hard for him to believe that they had gotten Dean back. Sam had believed in them, of course, and in what they were capable of, but in those few short days, he had experienced the entire rainbow of human emotions. Right now all he could feel was immense relief. It overshadowed all of the fear, the doubt, and the worry that had been inside of him just hours previous.

"Chris…Jesus," he continued. "You should have seen him. Freaking wonder witch, I'll tell you."

Dean smiled and let out a small laugh from deep within. He sighed and, in a tone that rang with complete sincerity that could only be induced by exhaustion, said, "I really like him…"

What Dean said didn't quite faze Sam, because he knew. He could tell. And even if on some level it was still odd to Sam, he wasn't going to deny his brother his happiness if he could help it. Especially not now—not when they had managed to fix things up with the contract. No more borrowed time.

"I know," Sam said quietly. He didn't say anything more than that. They could share the information of the contract being broken later, when things were a little more solid and comfortable.

Things remained silent between them for a few moments, Dean nuzzling his face into Chris's pillow and shifting slightly on the bed. The smile from his face soon began to fade, and Sam could tell something was wrong.

"He said awful things, Sammy…" Dean murmured, brow furrowing. "I thought you weren't coming…I thought that was it…" There was pain in his voice, but most worrisome was the sound of defeat that rang within it.

"I'll always be there," Sam replied seriously. To prove it, he reached out and gripped his brother's hand, giving it a firm squeeze. "Dean."

Sam wasn't surprised in the slightest by the fact that Loto would say such things to Dean. In fact, he would have been surprised to hear that he hadn't said those sorts of things. It would take Dean some time to get over that; psychological trauma was harder to reverse than anything else, after all. And for someone as psychologically troubled as his brother was….

But they didn't need to worry about that right now. Like Sam always did, he set it to the side to be dealt with later.

Or he tried to. Dean let out a shuddering sigh, and he sunk into the bed. He sounded vulnerable, which was unlike him. "I don't want to leave you, Sammy. I don't wanna go to Hell…"

Dean pulled Sam's hand close, holding it against his chest as if reluctant to let his brother go. Sam didn't pull away and instead even scooted closer when Dean did so. He didn't want to deny him this need to be close, especially in such a vulnerable moment.

Maybe it was time to share the truth, Sam thought, even if it was a little early. Dean sounded like he needed it.

"I don't think you'll have to worry about that anymore."

For a moment, Dean remained quiet. Then, as it sunk in, he tried to push himself up, clinging to his brother's hand.

"What?" he said in disbelief.

Sam, with a firm hand, gently guided Dean back down toward the bed. "I said, you won't have to deal with it again. And don't get up. You need to rest." He spoke with a soft, but unyielding tone. He didn't want to frustrate Dean further by coddling him. However, he did need to relax.

"How the hell did you manage that?" Dean asked. He shook his head. "Actually, you know what? Never mind. I just want to enjoy this. Fuck questioning it. For now, at least…."

At this point Chris and Wyatt reappeared in the doorway. Chris was saying, "We'll just have to keep them away from Aunt Phoebe."

Sam looked up, raising an eyebrow. "Aunt Phoebe?"

Chris snorted.

Dean's stomach gave a low, long rumble that made him snort and that caught Sam's attention. "Please tell me that's food, and that it's for me." He sounded almost desperate, but amused just the same.

"Yes, it's for you," Chris said, taking a seat at the front of his bed, near Dean's head. "And our Aunt Phoebe…she's an empath. The last thing we need is her coming over and figuring out everything that's been going on. Like…the hex, and all of that."

Wyatt snorted, handing Sam a mug of hot cocoa and then setting Dean's on the nightstand beside Chris's bed. "She'd know right away. She's like a mind reader."

Sam, after letting Dean's hand go to take the proffered mug, sipped carefully at the cocoa, intrigued by the statement about their aunt. He had read something about her skills ages ago, but had since forgotten it. "She doesn't come over too often, does she? That'd make it…hard."

"Like once a week," Chris explained. "But she's been busy lately, and I think she and Mom went out for dinner to catch up this week instead of her coming over." Shifting the soup, he glanced down at Dean with a small smile. "Think you can feed yourself?"

Dean smirked. "Nah…I'm feeling weak. Could you?"

Sam glanced at his brother, and then at Chris, who smiled wider. The witch wasn't going to fall for that, was he?

Apparently, he was. Chris dipped the spoon into the rich tomato and basil soup in his hand, then lifted it and hovered it near Dean's mouth. Dean leaned in and sipped it, a satisfied look taking over his face.

Dean was fully capable of feeding himself, that much Sam knew. But, his brother had always been the type to milk things for more than what they were worth, and when such kindness was offered, Dean was on it like white on rice. It didn't help any that it was Chris, who was very much attracted to.

"It shouldn't be too bad," he said. "Getting settled somewhere else, I mean. Dean should be fine once he gets a good night's sleep and a meal. I'll be driving, by the way," Sam added as an afterthought.

Wyatt, who had taken a seat on his bed, nodded. "You guys can stay here tonight. You're more protected here, anyway—I bet demons out there right now are fuming over what we pulled."

"You know they are," Chris said, irritable. He fed Dean another spoonful of soup, who offered a quiet 'mm' as he swallowed. "They can just wait. We've got plenty of demons on our ass as it is. We really don't need any more. And if they come after me—"

"Then they're gonna burn," Sam interjected. He laughed. "Jesus, Chris, I've never seen anyone do something like that before. And Wyatt, with that sword, I…" Sam hadn't admitted it, but he had been pretty damn scared at that moment. After all, he'd never seen someone summon a weapon before, let alone a mythic sword of legend.

Wyatt grinned brightly. "Pretty awesome, huh? Not many people get to see the real Excalibur."

Chris rolled his eyes, but Sam, his head turned toward the other witch, missed it. "So how did you—I mean, you know. How did you get that sword?" Having read lore upon lore about how Excalibur had been handled and passed along throughout the ages, he thought that it had disappeared when the records did. Apparently it hadn't.

"Well, it kind of came to me," Wyatt explained. "I was like…a year old, I think. Somewhere around there. My mom pulled it out of the stone—you could say she was the Lady of the Lake—and it's…well, it's mine, now. But I don't really get to use it much."

"You don't need to," Chris murmured.

"Whatever."

Sam ignored the brief quip and remained fascinated by what Wyatt told him. How often did you get to hear things like this? He wanted to soak it up.

"Oh, that's awesome. Seriously. It just…it just came to you?"

"Yeah, it sort of picks its master every generation, I guess, and is passed on. Not that it gets a lot of use here…I can't really go around with King Arthur's sword strapped to my waist, now can I?" Wyatt shrugged, taking a long sip of his drink.

Sam was mesmerized by the idea of having Excalibur. He and Dean had seen some crazy things in their lives as hunters, but the sword of legend definitely took the cake. "Yeah, guess you can't, can you? But you've got powers…so why use the sword?" From what he could tell, Wyatt had a lot of things going for him.

No wonder they fought demons so much. Having that much power…if you didn't use it, you'd probably go nuts.

Lost as he was in his conversation with Wyatt, he hadn't realized Dean and Chris had started one of their own. As Wyatt began to speak, Sam heard Dean say something about the soup being 'the best soup ever'.

"I dunno. That's kind of like asking why do you use your legs to walk when you've got a car. You see what I mean?" Wyatt laughed. "I've had Excalibur for about as long as I've had my powers. I mean, I wasn't allowed to use it right away, but it's been a part of my life for a long time. I don't really use it very often, but tonight was an emergency."

"Yeah, it was," Sam agreed. "And that potion Chris had…damn." He shot a brief glance back at the dark haired witch, who was giving his brother a kiss. He turned his attention again to Wyatt. "Think you guys could teach me some of that?"

Wyatt's eyes lit up. "Oh, sure. Why don't we go up to the attic? I'll show you some stuff."

*

Dean stared at Chris, wondering what the other saw when he looked at him the way he was at that moment. He knew he had looked horrific just hours before, bloody and near dead. Now he was only weary, with not a scar to prove the kidnapping. But despite everything that had just happened to him, he felt relieved, and looked content. He touched the witch's cheek, leaning back and pulling Chris down into a kiss.

When they broke apart, Dean felt a tingling in his lips. It felt good to have that kind of sensation again.

Chris knit his brow for a moment. He spoke softly. "I'm…really glad you're okay. I was so worried."

The admittance did something to Dean that he didn't quite understand in his tired state. He had to swallow the lump in his throat for the second time that night because of the emotion welling up inside of him. He wasn't going to Hell, he had his baby brother, safe and close, and he had Chris, who had healed him, bringing him back from the edge of death. He owed the witch his life two times over.

Dean offered a mildly awkward sort of smile, brushing his fingers down Chris's cheek. "I'm okay now. No more worrying, got it?" He leaned in and pressed his forehead against Chris's, their noses rubbing together. In a deceptively soft voice, he asked, "Can I lay here tonight?"

There was something in the way that Chris responded that let Dean know he had had no intention of letting him sleep anywhere else. "Of course you can."

Dean sighed, seemingly letting out all the air in his chest as he sagged against the pillow, eyes closed and his hand still lightly touching Chris's neck.

This was heaven for him—and it wasn't even because he and Chris had some weird sexual relationship. Rather, it was because he knew that Chris cared about him, just like Sam cared about him. But Sam was his brother, and despite the hugs and the affectionate shoves and slaps and nudges…they didn't have anything this close. This was the kind of thing Dean needed, whether he admitted it or not.

Pulling Chris down with him, Dean kept their faces close, one arm wrapping tiredly around the other's waist and resting there. It didn't matter that the bed was narrow and crowded; they wouldn't have taken up any more space if it had been a king size. Not if Dean got his way.

The warmth of the body beside him and the comfort of Chris's hand that came to rest on his chest slowly began lulling Dean to sleep. He twisted slightly on the bed, shifting his leg and pushing it gently between Chris's. His arm was still around the other's waist, and his other arm soon joined it, draping limply there as he settled in.

It only took a few moments for him to fall asleep.