Disclaimer: refer to chapter one
NOTE TO READERS: Well, this is it the final chapter. The story is complete. Thanks for reading and for all of your reviews and PM's! This chapter is around 9 pages long and there is an end note to this story, as well. I utilize some time leaps in this chapter, too, but I had to otherwise, it could go on for another ten chapters. Thanks again for everything. Happy reading, I hope!
Side Note: This chapter was named for a Pablo Neruda poem by the same title.
So Long, Good-Bye
Chapter Sixteen: The Light Wraps You
By Dawn Nyberg
"…Let the wind carry you home … may you never be broken again…" lyric excerpt by Alter Bridge, Blackbird
John, Dean, Bobby and Cole all stood transfixed and staring … silence filling the room. Dean stepped forward and looked at his brother. Hot tears cascading down his cheeks as Sam's chest remained still. John looked at his youngest with an agonized look. "Sammy?" he choked out. James looked at the broken family.
"I am sorry," he offered quietly.
A sudden, straggled gasp broke the anguished silence in the room and Dean felt light headed. "Sammy!" he nearly shouted as he immediately touched his brother's cheek and let one hand fall on his stuttering chest that hitched up and down as lungs once silent filled with life once again. Sam remained unconscious. "Sammy?" Dean's voice tentative as he ran a hand gently through his brother's long bangs.
John stepped forward, "It worked," his voice broke as he watched his child breathe. He cupped Sam's cool cheek and smiled warmly as he saw Sam's lips slowly begin to pink up and lose the awful translucence of death they had held moments before. "Why isn't he waking up?" John turned questioning eyes to James. "You healed him, so…"
James offered a slight shake of his head. "I healed the disease that was taking his life. It is gone but its effects remain." John and Dean frowned.
"What the hell does that mean?" they both said in unison. Dean kept a protective hand on Sam's head as his father turned to look at James fully.
"His body was weakened. He hasn't walked in a long time, he hasn't been able to eat normally," James listed things that John had told him on he long car drive here. "He'll need to regain his strength and unfortunately I can do nothing to speed that along. I have healed the disease and he will live, however, he will need help to regain himself once again."
"But, he'll be okay once he heals, gets stronger," Dean asked anxiously, his hand never losing contact with his little brother. James nodded. Dean let out a nervous breath and nodded.
"Thank you," John replied genuinely. Cole cleared his throat and everyone looked at him.
"Well, we'll leave you two alone with Sam. I'm thinking one night here and then I get James back to his place before our luck runs out." Everyone nodded. James had followed Bobby out toward the kitchen and Cole turned to leave. John extended a hand and stopped his old friend. Cole looked at him.
"I owe you, Cole, if you hadn't suggested … if you hadn't insisted someone like James did exist…" Cole shook his head and smiled. He reached up and clasped John's shoulder.
"No thanks needed man; you've saved my ass more times than I can count. I'm glad I was able to help. Sam's a good kid, always was … still is," he said with a smile as he looked at the very alive young man in the bed. John smiled in return and released his friend's shoulder. John needed to spend time with his boys.
Two Days Later, Bobby's House
Bobby had called Martin back an hour or two after James had healed Sam and told him what had happened, but nothing changed, Sam Collins was dead and certain things needed to be dealt with as not to draw attention. Martin had taken Sam Collins death certificate to Dr. Finley's office and the man had signed without question. Sam Collins was to be cremated and his ashes were to be spread in a private family ceremony was all that was said to the doctor or in the small local paper as a small formality.
Bobby had called the medical companies that had supplied Sam's BiPap Machine and other equipment that hadn't been bought but rented and had arranged for an early pick-up. Sam was well hidden in the upstairs room while things were cleared out. Sam was as weak as a kitten and needed a lot of care. John and Dean, even Bobby knew that they needed help but not any local company that would know of Sam Collins, the dying PSP patient. Bobby knew of a retired hunter that was a doctor who could order the rehab care for Sam and any other items he may need during his convalesce.
"I gotta use the restroom Dean," Sam's voice was hesitant, tired and embarrassed.
"Here, Sammy," Dean was quick to pick-up the nearby portable hand held urinal.
"No," Sam snapped out. Dean was thankful his brother's speech had returned with no difficulties but he was still adjusting to eating again and right now Dean had returned to purees and had graduated up to other soft foods and some clear soups. Sam still couldn't stand on his own at all. His legs unwilling to support him on muscles that hadn't been used in a while. The physical therapy they had given Sam while he was ill had helped but muscles still weakened from lack of their real usage.
"Look Sammy, I know you hate it but…" Dean turned away while his brother relieved himself and then took the plastic urinal from him and excused himself to go empty it in the toilet and rinse it out.
"Sam, son," John stepped into the room while Dean was gone. "Bobby is making some calls we're going to get some help in here for you. I know you don't like us doing it for you. He's also making sure they can get some rehabilitation services out here, too. He talked to one company that comes to the home and also has an outpatient rehab center that you go to for more advanced rehab. You'll be back to your old self soon," John assured.
Sam looked away out the window of the second story room. He had woken up in this room and knew his family had to have carried him up here. He still felt trapped in his body weakened by a disease that almost killed him … did kill him. He was too tired to try and think about the person that had healed him, a Nephilim, he hadn't met the man but had been told about him. He wished he could forget the past months but he remembered every moment even the ones before he lost consciousness nearing his own death. He remembered his big brother being there for him until his eyes closed and was sure Dean had been with him even as he took his last breath and after. "Sammy," John's voice was gentle as he placed a hand on his leg. "I know you're processing a lot, I do," he replied. "But, it will get better," he assured. "We're getting you what ever you need to get back on your feet." Sam looked at his father then and gave a small smile.
"I know Dad, thanks," Sam's voice was quiet. He looked at the door as his brother walked back in.
Two Days Later
Bobby and John had got the ball rolling quickly and Sam was already set back up in the library with a new hospital bed and was getting regular PT visits. His new doctor, Lyle Marcum, M.D., visited once a week. He had known Bobby almost ten years now and owed him more than one favor. Sam had been able to keep the wheelchair and walker as those items had been purchased and didn't need returned. There were other small items that helped him get back to caring for himself in some ways. He could bathe himself but needed a shower chair to sit on, but he needed help getting in and getting out because he couldn't stand on his own.
There was a new home care company that Lyle had suggested for the Winchester's to use, or as they were now called, the Callison Family staying at their uncle's. Sam's back story was he'd been in an accident and developed a life threatening infection that had left him weakened and being fed by a feeding tube. However, he was on the mend now and needed PT and some home care until he was able to fully care for himself.
Joyce, the care nurse from Gentle Touch Home Care, was a nice middle-aged woman that Sam liked but she wasn't Val. He missed her but knew he could never ever see her again; after all, her patient Sam Collins was dead and had been for four days now. This company worked in 12 hour shifts, so the patient was covered 24 hours a day which meant there was never a time unless Sam or the family gave them the go ahead to leave early that Sam was without someone. Sam only needed help transferring from his bed to wheelchair and in the bathroom they used the lifting apparatus to get in the bathtub. He needed help with some of his dressing since he couldn't lift his legs enough to put on his boxers or PJ bottoms. He needed help to the restroom but insisted on doing as much as he was capable of doing before having the care nurse help him. He hated still feeling helpless but now he could fully communicate and that meant the world to him. He hated remembering how helpless he felt when he couldn't express himself.
Marcus Oliver was his physical therapist he came to the house two days a week and a PT transport came for Sam three times a week to take him to their rehab facility outside town where he could do more advanced PT and get hydrotherapy. Dean had fought him on the transport but Sam had won out saying he needed some independence and the PT transport could accommodate his wheelchair easily and had a wheelchair lift.
"Sammy, lunch time," Dean chimed with a big smile. Joyce looked up from arranging supplies and smiled.
"Thrilling, what's on he menu today?" Sam's voice was unenthused.
"Hey, Mr. Sunshine, as soon as you can eat regular stuff without it making you sick then you won't have to eat this crap but until then doctor's orders. It's some chicken broth soup, a vegetable puree of peas and carrots and for dessert chocolate mouse the doc had me add some stuff to for more vitamins." Dean knew Sam hated this stuff but the simple fact was that Sam's body hadn't adjusted to solid food yet and it would be a slow process, the kid had been on liquids and thickened liquids for a long while and they had tried solids once with just a small piece of bread soaked in milk and Sam had vomited it up, so they were on this modified plan that would slowly introduce things into his system and move back up to full solids.
Sam could see his big brother's efforts to make things good for him and he appreciated it. He offered a small dimpled smile, "Thanks," he offered quietly. Dean nodded and sat the food down. He was thankful his little brother could feed himself at least, so that was one brighter spot in Sam's slow recovery.
Later that Afternoon
John walked into the house with the mail he'd collected at the end of the long driveway as he returned from town. Dean sat on the couch with his feet up giving Sam some space as his kid brother napped from exhaustion from his earlier PT session. John dropped a couple opened envelops into Dean's lap. "What are these?" he asked as he picked up one and pulled out a card. He felt sick to his stomach; it was a sympathy card from Comfort Keepers and was signed by Valerie and Margaret. He looked at the second envelope and it was a card from Dr. Finley's office and signed by him. Dean looked up at his father and John sighed and sat heavily down on the couch next to his son.
"I know," he started. "Even knowing he's still with us it still hit me like a ton of bricks when I saw they were Sympathy cards. We didn't lose him Dean, he's gonna be okay."
"I know," Dean's voice was hesitant. "But, you weren't there Dad when he … when Sammy …" Dean stared at his hands. John dropped a hand on one of Dean's knees and squeezed.
"I'm sorry," he offered. "When I got here and thought it was too late, when I saw you with him and knew he was gone … I can't describe …" John shook his head. "Sammy's gonna be fine," he said again. "You know he's not going to be ready to hunt again for a while Dean…"
"I could care less about that Dad," Dean turned angry eyes toward his father. "I just want him back on his feet, to gain the weight back …" John raised submissive hands.
"Hey, I didn't mean … I know your brother needs time and his health is my first priority, well yours and his are," John offered a small smile. "We'll get him back on his feet."
"You're staying?" Dean looked surprised.
"Well, until he's at least walking again and the home care is over. The demon can wait," John assured. "I know he's got a rough road ahead of him getting back on his feet … recovering … but he will recover Dean. Sammy's a Winchester which makes him one hell of a fighter. Plus, he has us and Bobby …" Dean looked at his father and gave the man a genuine, full fledged Dean Winchester smile.
"Thanks Dad," he replied quietly. John shook his head. There was no thanks needed between father and son.
One Month Later
Dean was standing in the kitchen as Joyce walked in, "Sam okay?"
"Sure, he told me to take five, so to speak, so …"
"You mean he wants some space, eh?"
"Well, I can't blame him. He's seems the independent type and I'm sure this lengthy convalescence and rehab is getting under his skin," she offered bluntly.
"Yeah, Sammy can be stubborn but I guess it's in the family genes," he smirked. Sam had been getting rehab at home and going to the rehab center quite often during the weekdays and was able to stand on his own but walking was still a task he was trying to get under control. Dean was about to offer Joyce a cup of iced tea when a loud crash followed by an even louder Dammit echoed down the hallway to the kitchen. They ran with Dean in the lead.
He ran into the library that was still Sam's room as he continued to heal. They both looked at the bed and promptly saw that it was empty. Dean darted around the side and found Sam trying to get up but not having enough leg strength to get up from the floor. Sam slapped the floor in anger, "Sonofabitch!" he barked.
"Sammy?! You okay?" Dean and Joyce both started to help Sam up and he slapped Dean's hand away.
"I just wanted to take a piss and I can't even walk to the friggin' bathroom," Sam was fuming and then Dean caught a glimpse of blood droplets on the wood flooring.
"Are you hurt?!" Dean barked. He knelt by his brother quickly.
"I'm fine just clipped my damn forehead on the walker. "It's nothing," Sam tried to fend off Dean's examining hands. "Get off," he hissed. "I said I'm fine." Dean easily overpowered his sibling. He pushed back his little brother's bangs gently and examined his forehead.
"Crap Sammy," Dean complained. "Joyce pass me a clean washcloth," he wanted to clean away and staunch the blood flow to get a better look at the head wound.
"Dean, I can look at it," Joyce offered as she knelt by her patient.
"Yeah, I know, but I'm not new to this … he was a little kid once …" he offered with a light tone.
"Don't talk about me like I'm not here," Sam complained.
"You're going to need stitches ya dumb ass," Dean growled. "Dammit Sammy, you could have really hurt yourself." Dean was about to continue his angry tirade spurred by his earlier terror that Sam was seriously hurt but he stopped short when Sam's face reddened slightly and he looked down and he saw the dark wet spot growing on his brother's light colored sweatpants. He had held it as long as he was able and now he'd wet himself. "Sammy," his voice softened.
"I just wanted to use the damn bathroom on my own," Sam spoke quietly still not looking at his brother. "Please, just go," his request a plea. Dean wanted to say more but knew better not to and Joyce's gentle hand on his shoulder just reinforced that for him.
"Dean, I just need some help getting him to his bed … and then Sam and I have it from there, okay?" Dean nodded silently and helped get his little brother up and standing and supported him as he shuffled two wobbly steps to the bed and sat down on the edge. He gently squeezed Sam's shoulder and left without saying anything.
One Hour Later
Lyle Marcum walked into the kitchen and surveyed the full kitchen table, John, Bobby and Dean sat there waiting with expectant eyes. "How's my boy?" John spoke first.
"The cut was an easy stitch shouldn't even really scar. It took eight stitches to close. There's no sign of head injury or any other injuries. He's going to be fine."
"Thanks Lyle," Bobby chimed in.
"Is he really okay?" Dean asked quietly. Sam hadn't wanted to see anyone since he'd had help getting back to bed after wetting himself.
"Physically he's getting there but emotionally the kid has been through a lot and the little incident today was upsetting to him but he'll bounce back. We've made sure he has a bedside urinal at his disposal, so that he can go when he wants if no one is around. He's been going gang busters on his PT, so hopefully in another month or two with the help of the walker he'll be able to take himself down the hall to the bathroom on his own. He's already able to stand on his own, support his own weight, it's just the walking thing that is still problematic but fully expected considering the length of time he was sick and bedridden."
Everyone in the kitchen nodded but said nothing.
"Well, I'm going to head out. If Sam needs anything don't hesitate to call me and I'll stop by tomorrow afternoon to check on him, okay?"
"Thanks Lyle, I owe you one," Bobby stood up and clasped his friend's shoulder. The former hunter smiled.
"Nah, old friend, I still owe you a few and anyway Sam's a good kid. I'll see all of you tomorrow."
Six Months Later, Bobby's House
"You really have to go Dad," Sam asked as he stood by his brother in front of Bobby's porch.
"Yeah, kiddo, I have a few leads on the demon and you're up and around now," he gently swatted Sam's stomach. "And, putting back on some weight." Sam smiled.
"We could go with you dad, we're stronger together," Sam added quickly. John shook his head slightly and looked at his son lovingly.
"Not this time kiddo," he replied gently. "You still got some mending to do and I'll be in touch, I promise it won't be like before … I'll answer my phone when I can and return any missed calls."
"We'll be okay Dad," Dean assured. "Sammy here will be 100 percent in another month or two and we'll get out of Bobby's hair." It was true Sam was able to care for himself now and no longer needed the home care company. He could bathe himself, walk without the walker and his PT was now a home regimen that Dean helped him with and no longer required the therapist. Sam could eat solid food once again, too. He was putting back on weight and most importantly more muscle mass to replace what he'd lost. But, he still tired after workouts and walking around. He couldn't really run yet and in their line of business you had to be able to run at a moment's notice, so Sam was still recovering and Dean wasn't going to let him return to hunting until he was sure his little brother was ready.
"Thanks for staying dad," Sam offered quietly. "It was nice having you around." John offered up a surprised look. Sam smiled at the look and Dean snickered.
"Never thought I'd hear that," Dean offered candidly between chuckles. John barked a laugh. He loved his boys.
Two Months Later
"Well, you boys take care of each other and if you need anything, anything at all you got my number and you know you're welcome here whenever, so don't be strangers, okay?" Bobby smiled at the young men. "Man, will it be quiet around here when you two aren't around."
"What? We haven't been driving you crazy Bobby?" Dean asked in an amused voice. "Didn't you threaten to get your shotgun the other night…" Bobby chuckled.
"Yeah, yeah," he replied amicably. "Seriously, though, you boys are welcome here anytime."
"Thanks Bobby," Sam offered the older man a dimpled smile and stepped forward and hugged the man. Bobby returned the hug. Bobby released Sam and looked at Dean.
"Now, you're not getting off that easy boy, come here," he smiled. Dean rolled his eyes.
"Ah, man," he kidded. "I mean really…" he acted all appalled but returned the hug with a genuine fierceness that held nothing but affection for the man they considered their uncle.
Dean and Sam climbed into the Impala and the engine rumbled to life. Dean looked over at his little brother and smiled. Sam was healthy and was back to his old self. It hadn't been an easy road back for Sam but he had pushed through and had come through the other side stronger for it, they both had.
"You ready Francis," Dean kidded. Sam scrunched his face at that.
"Jerk, and yeah I'm good," he answered lightly as they started to pull away. They both waved at Bobby and drove away from the house.
The Impala kicked up dust on the dirt and gravel driveway and Dean put in AC/DC and as Back in Black came on, he looked at his little brother and their eyes met, he smiled and replied easily, "bitch." Sam chuckled as he gave a lopsided dimpled grin and Dean felt the final piece of his fragmented soul knit back in place and he was whole once again.
End Note: When I had come up with this story idea during season 3 I had filed it away in my fanfic idea folder and figured I get to it when I had time. This was originally going to be a death fic … yes, I was actually going to have Sammy die and the Nephilim wasn't going to be able to save him. He was going to be cremated and on the one year anniversary of his death I was going to have Dean scatter Sam's ashes at Jessica's and their mother's gravesites. Anyway, it wasn't very long into this story when I lost my mom and suddenly I just couldn't do a death fic … I've been drowning in reality for too long, so I decided to give the boys a happy ending. I know some people were disappointed by the fact I saved Sam, because well, most of the time people don't get happy endings … and it's true most of the time they don't … I sure haven't had any in my life recently, so I did have the power to change the original course of this story and give the boys a happy ending, so I did. I appreciate every email, PM and review I was given and I want to thank everyone for sticking with this story. Thank You!!!!
Also, to everyone that emailed condolences when I lost my mom and that continue to send emails to see how I'm doing … your kindness, friendship and warmness is more than I deserve and I thank you whole heartedly for it. Bear hugs for all of you!