A/N 1: apologies to anyone who ran into the issues I was having with FF and the update I made to "Stating the Obvious" last night. Long story short: the problem should be fixed now.


Six hours.

Six hours and thirty-seven minutes Sam has been quiet down in the panic room.

When he'd been quiet for three minutes, I went down to check on him. He was quiet but awake, but seemed out of his distress finally.

When he'd been quiet for fifteen minutes, I went in and helped him drink a glass of water. I left the cuffs on, just in case.

When he'd been quiet a little more than half an hour, he fell asleep.

When he'd been asleep for an hour, Bobby told me I should lay down and get some rest too. Cas had left us the night before so Bobby said he'd stay near the cellar steps to listen, and wake me up when Sam needed me, so I laid down on the couch and let myself get some sleep.

Now, five hours later, I'm awake and going downstairs to check on Sam.

"If he's doing OK," Bobby says as I head for the cellar door, "bring him upstairs and we'll take care of him."

Take care of him. Right. Because I'd been doing such a bang up job of it lately. I know he's upset with himself for 'indulging' again, but if I'd thought to put a devil's trap outside the bathroom door in that motel, Sammy wouldn't have had to go through this again.

He's turned onto his side as much as he can be with the cuffs, and he's awake, I can tell by his breathing. I sit at his back on the edge of the cot and reach out to feel for fever, but he turns even more to get away from me. He's soaked with sweat and pale as the sheet underneath him.

"Don't."

His voice is practically gone. Three days of screaming will do that to you. He's had so much taken away from him again these past few days, I decide not to take anything else. I pull my hand back and don't touch him.

"Want some more water?"

No answer.

"Think you could eat something?"

"Don't want anything."

He sounds a little pissed, but more exhausted.

"Think you can make it upstairs?"

"Leave me here."

"Bobby wants you upstairs."

As soon as I say it of course, I realize what Sam will hear. Bobby wants him up there – not me. But if I backtrack myself as fast as I want to, Sam will believe it even less than if I'd just said it the first time.

"I want to stay here."

It took a particularly hellish drive to get Sam here in the first place. His symptoms got intense, fast, and I told Cas to beam him into the panic room, and go with to take care of him until I got there. But Sam - shaking and sweating and hurling his guts up at the side of the road - begged me not to 'send him away'. So we bundled him into the backseat and Cas rode shotgun and I floored it and when we got to Bobby's, Sam pushed away any help and put himself into the panic room, slammed the door, and collapsed himself onto the cot, a shaking, sweating, sobbing, agonized mess.

And he pretty much stayed that way until last night when he started throwing himself against the walls, and I had to cuff him to the cot again.

Now, three and three quarter days – and some pretty heartfelt prayers – after we got here, Sam seems okay enough to finish his recovery back up in the real world.

If only I can get him to agree to it.

I could probably haul him up the stairs bodily if I wanted to. But I don't want to. I mean, I want Sam upstairs, where it's comfortable and the bathroom is accessible and Bobby and I can both be nearby to take care of him. But – so much has been done to Sam for so long against his will, I don't want to be one more person who does whatever I want to him.

"All right." I agree with him and start to take the cuffs off. He tries to pull his hand away from me, but he can't get far. He finally looks at me.

"Don't. Leave them on."

"No. You can stay down here if you want, but it's going to really be your choice." I take them all off, off of Sam and off of the cot and walk over to set them the table. If he wants them back on, he'll have to get off of the cot to get them.

Right now all he does is turn completely on his side, curling up as much as he can, tuning me out.

Trying to tune me out.

"I'll bring you down something to eat. Y'want soup or ice cream?" No answer. I try not to sigh but I'm not entirely successful. "I'll bring down a blanket and a real pillow if you don't want to come upstairs." I walk to the door, and stop just long enough to add, "But I hope you'll want to come upstairs…"

I leave then, and leave the panic room door open and go upstairs.

Bobby's waiting at the doorway.

"Well?"

"He'll come up when he wants to. Right now, he doesn't want to. I'm gonna bring him some soup."

I go to the kitchen and heat up the soup and after a minute or so I hear Bobby wheel himself away from the stairs and into the library. When I carry the bowl and spoon to the cellar staircase, Sam is there, sitting on about the middle step. He's bowed over practically in half and he's got his arms wrapped around himself. He doesn't move as I walk down and sit on the step next to him.

"I'm not helping, am I?" he asks.

"You got yourself halfway up the stairs. That's more than I thought you could accomplish."

"I'm not helping to stop the Apocalypse."

There's so many ways to answer that.

"Yeah, and how much good have I been doing about it?" I ask back and hold the bowl out to him. "Here, take this. Soup."

He takes it and looks into it.

"I wanted ice cream." He says, perfectly serious. He looks at me. "But maybe I didn't say it out loud like I thought I did."

"Tell you what, you eat that and I'll get you all the ice cream you want."

He nods and takes a spoonful in his mouth and seems to hold it for a second before he swallows.

"Tomato and rice? Really? You made tomato and rice?"

"Uh – well – yeah. You know. I thought – I thought you might – wanna try it."

Actually, I wasn't sure I wouldn't be walking right into a landmine with it. I didn't know if Sammy would appreciate the gesture or be offended by it. And I'm still not sure until he dips his head and his spoon again and whispers,

"Thanks."

I sit with him until he's done eating. Then I shadow him up the stairs and we go into the kitchen and sit at the table and have ice cream together. Afterward, he manages a shower and while Bobby and I play a game of poker at the desk in the library, Sam falls asleep on the couch.

The End