A/N: Thanks for all the wonderful reviews on this. The support has been amazing. I keep thinking how therapeutic it's been to write during this difficult time of my life, but the real therapy seems to be in the words you guys send me. Your thoughts mean so much to me. My husband's surgery is next week, which will allow him to start the fight to beat cancer. I've been mildly surprised I can string two words together with my mind going in ninety different directions. We have no insurance, and as you know we live in the wonderful states where no one gives a crap about the working people who support everyone else, so part of both of us is terrified at the cost. Part of us is determined to do whatever it takes to get through this all and still live and be happy, which is where the news we just received has come at such a beautiful time, even being this bombed out and jacked up. After nine tries in about seven years, we've FINALLY gotten the approval to get our dream home. He told me the other day, "We're getting me better, getting the house we love. Looks like the next step is a baby." After I got done crying and laughing all at once, I told him okay.
So, now you know why my notes have been the way they have lately. I thank you all for reading this and you've all really had no idea how much your reviews have kept me going, and wanting to not give up. Even those of you who don't sign in for me to thank in person. You now know just how important you are to those of us you review for. You just might want to take the time to sign in so others can let you know how much you mean to them too. Enjoy the last of this story and I hope there aren't too many holes. If there are, well, I hope you just forgive me for that.
Bobby woke with a gasp and a pained groan, memories and pain slamming home in the same second and robbing him of breath. He quickly sat up, head spinning and threatening to send him back to oblivion. The room was completely silent save for his rough breathing and what sounded like a pounding drum, which he soon realized was his own heart pounding in his ears. The motel room was dark, no lights from the neon sign outside, nothing in the room, not even the small red square that normally glowed on the special outlet by the bathroom sink. Bobby pushed himself to his feet, looking around and finally catching sight of a lump laying in the bathroom doorway. He made his way towards the form, the meager moonlight finally shining through when he shifted to the side enough for him to see short, golden brown hair and the dull glint of red blood.
"Dean!" Bobby made his way to the fallen hunter's side and crouched, his knees popping loud in the stillness. He put a finger to Dean's neck, finding the pulse thumping steadily beneath. "Dean, son, wake up." Bobby probed the back of Dean's head, finding a small gash that had almost stopped bleeding already. The younger hunter groaned and stirred, opening his eyes only to have them fall shut again.
"No ya don't. Open them eyes Dean." Dean complied, groaning.
"Bob-by? Wha- 'appen'd?"
"That thing came here. It attacked us again."
"Where's Sam?" Dean asked, becoming fully aware with a start. He sat up with a hiss of pain, stretching his back against the discomfort that seemed wedged at the base of his spine, feeling his kidneys seeming to thump in pain like a smashed finger.
"Dunno. Saw you first." Bobby said as he helped the younger hunter to unsteady feet. Dean looked around the small motel room, at first seeing nothing, then finally seeing a foot poking out from between the beds.
"Sammy!" Dean cried, running to his brother's side. Sam lay on his stomach, his twisted form laying tight at the base of the far bed, his face turned into the carpet. One arm was under his side, the other flung up as if it had been shielding his face. Dean touched his back, jerking his fingers away with a hiss, when he felt the heat there, like a piece of sun warmed metal. Sam's shirt, gray to begin with, crumbled and disintegrated beneath Dean's fingers, turning to what he quickly realized was ash. Sam's skin was warm but undamaged. "What the hell?"
Dean looked over his brother and glanced at Bobby when his old friend crouched at his side. Bobby brushed aside the residue, revealing the center of Sam's back. It was smooth save for the scar that instantly made him think of that horrible night where they lost the boy he'd come to love like a son. Dean and Bobby both reached out for Sam, gently rolling him away from the bed, getting his face out of the carpet. It was pale, lips nearly bloodless and with his heart hammering in his head and chest, once again Bobby reached for a pulse, not breathing until he found the weak thump beneath his calloused finger tips. He watched Sam's chest, covered by ash and tatters of a fragile shirt rise and fall.
"He's breathin'. Pulse is steady if a little weak."
Dean nodded and wordlessly began to move Sam's legs, Bobby getting him around the torso, jumping when the rest of the now cool shirt, either crumbled to dust or slid between his fingers to flutter soundlessly to the floor. They hefted Sam with twin groans of discomfort and put him on the bed, covering him to the chest with the blanket from the other one. Dean sat on the bed, fingers ghosting through Sam's hair before they went to the back of his own neck, coming away sticky. He wiped them on his jeans and glanced up in time to accept a glass of water and a damp face cloth from Bobby, washing the blood from his neck and gingerly probing the cut at the base of his skull.
"Don' think it needs stitches. I'll check again when we get some light." Bobby moved to his rucksack and pulled out a big rechargeable flashlight, sitting it on a chair at the table and aiming the flexible neck of the light so it illuminated the white ceiling, casting a dim glow over the room. Dean turned back to his brother, lifting Sam's head and dribbling a little of the water from the glass between his colorless lips. It trickled into his mouth and Sam's swallowing reflex kicked in, getting him the much needed fluids. Dean lowered his head gingerly back to the pillow.
"Good." Dean whispered. "Now, all you gotta do is wake up and be okay."
Bobby turned on the small clock radio in the room, tuning it into a local station just as the plates containing the black and white numbers flipped up to read 5:00 a.m. and the news was just beginning. Bobby looked at Dean and turned up the volume.
"What experts are calling a 'freak atmospheric power surge' rocked the town of Cicero about two hours ago, destroying nearly every light bulb and fixture in the city. Replacements have already begun, starting with traffic lights and emergency vehicles. Until everything is functioning again, please be aware that the police force is directing traffic at all major intersections and at secondary ones, please take precautions. If you notice lights that are property of the city are not functioning by next week, call the number at the bottom of the screen to report them. A city wide collection day of your broken glass is being held on Wednesday. Please box or double bag the glass and put it curbside for pick up. Hardware stores and local car dealerships and automotive stores have begun ordering extra stock of vehicle headlights and both incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs. Again if you have questions or need to report damage to the electrical systems of your homes or vehicles or city property, please dial the number at the bottom of the screen. Operators are standing by."
"Two hours ago. Bobby, what the hell happened?"
"Wish I knew, boy. If it wanted Sam, it didn't take him. Healed his scars so it don't even look like it hurt 'im."
"Yeah, but God knows what it screwed with in his head." Dean said quietly, reaching out to brush a finger over the ridge of Sam's brow. He jumped when his cell phone rang, quickly standing from the bed so he didn't disturb Sam with the musical tone. He flipped the device open.
"Lisa, you okay? Is Ben okay?"
"Are we okay? I should be asking you! Everything here is blacked out Dean. What happened? Did you find Sam? Are you okay?"
"We're okay. We're at a motel at the edge of town. Lis, something happened and Sammy's unconscious again. It was…whatever the hell popped the lights all across town. It came after Sam and we're not sure what it did…"
"Is he gonna be okay? Do you need anything?"
"No….no. It looks like a waiting game now. Let him wake up and find out how bad it messed with his head."
"Dean, I tried to tell you before he ran off and you went after him. I think that thing is what he was afraid of when he first woke up. It was weird and very scary, but it was like the wall started glowing and the light bulbs popped in the guest room, then it was like this blob of light walked right through the wallpaper. He jumped awake and grabbed me, backing away from it. He didn't mean to hold me so tight. I could feel him shaking…so bad…he was terrified of that thing Dean. What was it?"
"I have no idea, Lis."
"Are you sure you don't need me to bring anything to you? Some weirdo in a trench coat came and got your car. He said you were fine and you'd asked for it. It was so bizarre. I automatically trusted him. Maybe I should go for therapy or something."
"No, Lisa. That's Cas. If he ever so much looks at my car again, I'll kill him, but he's okay. You can trust him. Look, I gotta go. Try to figure out what the hell just happened. Listen to the news, okay? And stay home for the next couple days. The whole town is pretty much blacked out and the roads are gonna be dangerous. We'll talk soon. Be careful."
"I will. You too." Dean ended the call and looked down at his brother only to jump at the brief flutter of wings in the room.
"Dean. I sense that being here again. Are you alright?"
"I've got the headache from hell and your timing sucks but I guess we're okay. Do you have any idea at all what the hell that thing is, and why it came after Sam… AGAIN?"
"I don't know."
"Gee, what a surprise. Some help you are, Cas. Look at his back. He had scars there. Looked like freakin' wings. And deep red welts where he told me…something awful he remembered those sonsabitches doin' to him in hell. S'all gone. Everything but Jake's scar."
Cas went to the bed and reached for Sam one handed, about to roll him over. Dean smacked his hand away and instead pulled the cover back to Sam's waist, reaching for the right side of Sam's abs, just beneath where his elbow rested. He tickled Sam briefly, who huffed in his sleep and shifted onto his right side to get away from the annoyance of being tickled, exposing his back to Castiel. The angel placed a hand on the center of Sam's spine and closed his eyes briefly. Seconds later he jerked away and spun from Sam's side, staggering to the table where he gripped the back of a chair hard enough to split the wood. Dean covered Sam to his shoulder and turned to face the angel.
"What didja see?" Bobby questioned the angel.
"A what?" Dean and Bobby echoed.
"Seraphim. An angel of the highest order. One that has many faces. I caught glimpses of Mary's countenance, as well as your father's and Jessica's. Also the blank face, simply white light, that it allows mortals to see to instill fear. Sam couldn't understand what was going on when he saw four faces, three of people he loved, overlapping with something that caused terror in him. It came to Sam at the request of our father. To heal him from the memories…the experience of hell."
"Bang up job it did there! What'd it do, have to freakin' torture him to heal him?"
"You don't understand. Your experience of hell was…what's the word you use…cake?… compared to what Sam went through. The scars were not only on his body, they were burned into his soul. The only way for him to be healed was for the seraphim to burn away that part of his soul. Turn it to dust. He won't remember any of his experience, probably from Detroit until now. Possibly from Ilchester, Maryland and the convent. Ever. I suggest, if you wish to spare him the torment of mentioning something he cannot possibly remember or assimilate, that you never mention his fall into the pit or the abbreviated apocalypse and it's aftermath."
Dean's hand moved over his face, sounding like sandpaper when it drifted over his stubble. "What the hell am I supposed to tell him when he wakes up with no memories of the last six days?"
"Think of this, Dean. Is not remembering six days better than remembering five years of horrific torture in the inner circle of hell?" The angel disappeared with a rustle of tan canvas.
"You'll think o' somethin' Dean."
"I guess I have to."
Dean lifted the washcloth off of Sam's forehead, finally pleased with the results. Sam was only running a low grade fever, more importantly he was clean, something that would lead to less questions about the last week of his life. The sun was beginning to streak the sky outside with crimson and oranges and even giving over to tinges of blue and purplish black as it set on yet another day.
Bobby rested in the other bed, fallen asleep a couple hours after the incident with the Seraphim and the information from Castiel, with a gruff "I ain't got no concussion, so ya wake me before Sam wakes an' I'll tan yer backside!" This came after two hours of telling, ordering and finally begging Dean himself to use the bed and receiving no satisfying results. Dean would sleep when he knew Sam was okay.
I see Sammy's eyes start to move beneath their lids, hear his breathing change just a little. I've known from the time that kid was a baby, from the day mom and dad brought him home, that was the biggest clue to him waking up from a nap. I zero in on those little movements that make me see how close he is to digging himself out from under the layers and I know the second his brain starts to comprehend little noises around him, one less layer holding him down.
Sam's blue greens open and he's lookin' at me. First time there's no pain, no sadness, no fear-scratch that- stark raving terror. Just a little bewilderment in those depths. A few questions and they start with one that I know he'd say.
"Dean?" His voice a little hoarse. He doesn't know that the last thing he did before now is scream like I NEVER want to hear him scream again. Granted this time I didn't hear it, but last time…nope. Never again. Not gonna happen. He stretches on the bed, feet sliding off the end of it- freakin' Sasquatch- hands banging into the wall above the headboard and then he's pushin' himself up on his elbows. I stand from the chair I somehow managed to steal from the table and tuck between the beds after shoving the one closest to the door that much closer. But that's okay, 'cos I'm not leavin' until he's ready anyhow.
"Yeah. Hey, don' move too much. You've been asleep for a while."
"What's the last thing you remember?"
Sam appeared to think for a second, a look of puzzlement crossing his features. "Um, Ilchester. The convent. Oh, god, I'm sorry Dean. I killed Lilith and Ruby was telling me that I did it, that I broke the last seal. I tried to kill her and my head hurt so bad. I…" Sam fell silent for a second. "That's it." Sam sat up, his eyes brimming with moisture. He shoved his hands into his hair and tugged. "That's all I remember. What happened? The cage, it was gonna open. What the hell happened Dean?"
Dean stayed silent for a moment, Sam staring hard at him. "Cage didn't open. I dunno, there was this flash of light and Lilith's body was gone, the opening was gone. Nothin' happened. Just the light. Ol' Luci never showed. You were unconscious, so I grabbed ya and booked."
"How long, Dean?" Sam asked quietly.
"'Bout a week. You were really beginnin' to scare me, so I called Bobby here." Dean pointed to the still snoozing hunter. "Speakin' of which, he wanted me to rattle his chain when you woke up since it looked like you were close." Dean leaned across the bed and smacked Bobby with his own Trucker's cap, which he had taken off and laid on the bedside stand. He woke abruptly, his last snore cut off mid inhale, rattling in the room like a chainsaw.
"What?" Bobby's head swiveled around and his eyes lit on Sam, the grizzled hunter's bearded face breaking into a grin. "Sammy? You feelin' alright, kid?"
Dean helped Sam to lean back against the headboard, watching him squirm a bit before he got comfortable.
"Yeah. I have questions, but yeah."
"What questions, Sam?" Bobby asked, a little afraid that the boy suspected something. He met Dean's eyes, his shadowed beneath his trucker cap. Then his gaze shifted back to Sam waiting for him to speak.
"Where are we for starters?"
"Cicero. Like I said, I grabbed you and booked. Jus' kept driving. Bobby met us half way and this was half way."
"The bitch got what she had comin' for gettin' between us."
"I'm sorry, Dean." Sam said, looking at the hands he had lowered to his lap.
"Don't be. Just be okay. You scared the hell outta me when I found ya, and you wouldn't wake up."
"I'm okay." Sam smiled. "I have to piss, but I'm okay."
"Too much info, bitch."
Sam laughed, the sound wonderful to Dean's ear, something he thought he'd never hear again. "Jerk."
I watch my brother. He answers my questions, but I didn't miss the look he shared with Bobby. He's guarding me from something. I can't fathom what, but if it means I have my big brother back, that everything is finally back to the way it was before hell, before Ruby, before I knew I had demon blood, before Jake's scar, then I'll take it. Every second I can get. I don't wanna know the real answers to my questions then. I get the feeling that everything would change.
I shake my head and smile at my brother's heartfelt smile, at our banter that I've missed so much, at the smile on the old man's face. The hug he gives me seems emotional on more levels than it should be for just a close call and again I'm troubled by a sense of déjà vu. I head for the bathroom, relieving myself. The sink looks inviting, and oddly, slightly familiar. I run cold water and wash my hands, then splash my face. Looking up, my eyes catch sight of my face in the mirror. White light, flashes of heat and pain. Something snaking around my neck. Freezing cold. As hot as flying into the sun. Sinister laughs. Breath ripped from me, unable to get back. A loud snap and I'm whole again. I jump like the snap was bones in my back realigning uncontrollably. I blink and it's gone, I'm left trying to catch my breath, feeling sick. My eyes drift to the light bulb in the fixture, seeing the upturned globe with the heads of wheat pattern in the frosted glass band, just the center tube and broken filament of the bulb still upright. Once clear shards of glass lying around the bottom of the fixture looking like they'd been smoked. Static crackling, like the hum of electricity, with too high voltage, slips between my ears. I shake my head to clear it and walk out of the bathroom, smiling when Dean smiles. I get the feeling that I really have no idea how good it is to have my brother back.
Thanks again for reading.