It was like being drug through cement, cement that was drying quicker than the person dragging him. Every nerve was raw, exposed, and the cement was rubbing, grating, against those exposed sensors, and the pain was so excruciating so complete that, not for the first time since his trip down stairs, he wished for oblivion.
He screamed the entire way back from the cage. He screamed so loud and intensely that when he got to the surface, when he was lying atop the cold wet grass in Stull cemetery, he didn't have the power to utter 'help'. Red and yellow spots danced across his vision, and the effort it took to simply move his 6'4 frame under an eve of a mausoleum was staggering, and exhausted him to the point where he couldn't even sustain movement in his pinky finger.
He wondered if this was just another elaborate trick played on him by the devil, which seemed to have no end to his arsenal, especially when he controls your body and your mind. He can make you see anything, feel anything, experience anything; even something as simple as rain pelting your fevered skin.
He lay there cold, wet, scared and exhausted mouthing, "Dean, help, help me please Dean." A clap of thunder, a bold of lightning elicited the last of Sam's voice from him in a burst of frightened screaming. He managed to pull his legs to his chest, and he huddled into a ball in the dark, dirty, corner of the mausoleum. He shivered, shivered so hard his whole body vibrated with the effort. The fear pulled tears from his eyes, blurring his vision further, another thunder clap ripped from the sky overhead, and Sam curled tighter into a ball, forcing his large frame to become akin to a small child.
"Help." He muttered soundlessly. "Dean, please help me." he muttered again, wishing he had voice, wishing he could scream it. Dean would help him, Dean would make it better, Dean would know what to do. Dean understood. Dean had been to hell, Dean had survived, Dean would know if this was another trick, or if this was real. But there was no way to get to him. The cemetery was empty of the living. The thunder, the lightning, and the rain, and the black of the night were his only companions, and none of them were going to help him get to Dean.
The rain stopped, the clouds abated, and cleared enough for the sun to come out and shine on Sam's pale skin. He peeked out from his arms, hazel eyes bright with fear. It took a while before his brain trusted what his eyes were telling him. It looked safe. It looked just like the day he had jumped into the pit. It was clear, grass wet from the rain, the headstones were clean from the fierce rain, and everything was calm, not the calm before all hell broke loose, but the calm of a normal Kansas day. He finally started to untangle his limbs, each muscle ached and groaned, railing against their prolonged entanglement, adrenaline and unconsciousness had dulled their protests of his protective position under the eves, but now with his head less frantic, and his circumstances appearing less dreadful, they felt as if it were okay to tell him that they were unhappy with their tangled state.
He pushed himself up, on his own two feet and he swayed, all energy, all stamina, all power washed away by the rain, the fear, and the devil. Grabbing hold of the pillar, he looked around, listening intently for signs of danger, signs of anything that could be construed as a threat, because in hell, just because it came to you dinner table and ate with a knife and fork and wiped it's mouth with a napkin didn't mean it wasn't something to be feared and cowered from.
Sensing no danger, either from something obvious or disguised, Sam willed his right foot to move, willed it to take a step forward, "I have to find Dean" being his motivation. And it did move, it did do what it had learned to do all of those years ago, and the left one followed suit, and he was walking, he was propelling himself forward, out of the safety and shelter of the mausoleum into the bright world of what seemed to be Earth, and not just another disguise Hell was taking on, not another trick played on him by the master of all evil tricks. Balance was tricky and once not always achieved when he stumbled forward and fell on the cold wet muddy earth, but he didn't let that derail his mission, he pulled himself up, and continued forward, continued his search for his brother would explain what in the world was going on and he would be able to fix it.
However, when he fell for the fourth time, he closed his eyes and a tear slipped down his face and he mumbled with his horse voice "Cass, if you are there and you could help me, please please help me." He was on the verge of sobs, but he thought of his brother, who had survived hell with minimal tears, and he used that as his model, and he stopped the sob before it could see the light of day, and forced himself up, and forced himself to walk straight to the gate. The sense of accomplishment when he reached the latch was almost so overwhelming that almost sat down and cried right there.
"Thank you God." He said instead. He fumbled with the latch and finally walked out of the cemetery, head held high, and fear pricking every part of his body with its sharp needles.
He leaned against the fence post and tried to collect his thoughts. He was out in the middle of a cemetery that was far from anyone and anything. The thought of collapsing right where he was presented itself, and the thought of a sweet quiet death, at the entrance of a cemetery seemed fitting, seemed comforting. And for a moment, he considered just letting that happen. Dean thought he was dead, Bobby thought he was dead, and Castiel would be able to set them straight, when and if he got to Heaven. It wouldn't matter. All would be okay. His knees wobbled underneath him and just as he was about to let his exhausted, overwrought body, collapse to it's death bed, a memory flitted across his mind, his brother telling him that he was strong, stronger than Dean ever was, and that was what made him Sam, that was what made him Dean's little brother, the man Dean had raised. He grabbed the post and stopped the collapse. No matter how comforting and pleasant the idea seemed.
He pushed himself upright, gathered his strength, his determination, his Sammyness, and forced himself away from the cemetery and towards the hustle and bustle of the real world, the living, and towards family.
Sam felt as if he had been walking for days. The day was warm, but his skin was cold, and he was shivering as he walked. He walked east along a seldom traveled road and pulled his coat closer to him. His mind was swimming with Hell, images, sensory flashbacks, and every single time he heard a noise, he jumped, and cowered. And that was how the nice woman found him on the side of the road: cowering and shivering.
Emily Kin slowed down when she saw the tall man staggering on the side of the road. As a bartender, Emily had seen her fair share of staggering drunks, but this man didn't stagger like he was drunk, he staggered like he had been hurt and was trying keep his insides on the inside while walking somewhere to get help. When she was close enough to him, she noted that he cowered. She pulled the truck onto the side of the road and put it into park, turned it off, and got out.
"Hello?" she called from the front of her truck. The cowering figure peered from the arms that were protecting his head. She didn't move any closer but she repeated, "Hello?"
"Hi." Squeaked the man.
"Are you hurt?" she asked. Silence was her reply. She braved another step and came closer to the man. "Are you okay?" He shook his head.
"Are you bleeding?" she asked. He shook his head in the negative. "You have someone looking for you?" Emily was beginning to think that instead of hurt that this man might be slow and that made her heart break.
"No." He whispered hoarsely. Being a sensitive soul, she had to fight back the tears of empathy, and she wished, not for the first time in her life that she were tougher and less aware of others and their feelings. She wanted to crouch down and get to his level, but something in her warned her against it, so she held her ground and asked, "You need to call someone?"
Finally he looked up completely, and from beneath hair that was too long and tangled about his face were eyes, so soft and compassionate that they took her breath away. That was what made her come closer and crouch closer to the man. "I'm Emily." She said and held her hand out. The man looked at her hand and then up into her eyes, and hesitated, then slowly extended his hand and offered it to her. She took it and tried to keep the shock out of her eyes when she felt the frigid skin beneath hers.
"S…Sam." He whispered.
"Sam." She smiled. "Do you need me to call someone for you?" He nodded once then nodded vigorously.
"Dean." She nodded and pulled her phone out of her pocket, asked for the number, he provided, and she called. She pulled the phone away from her ear and gave him sad eyes.
"That number doesn't work. Anyone else?"
Sam licked his dry lips and nodded. "Bobby." She nodded and dialed the number he gave her and a gruff voice answered.
"Who's this?" he asked sort of slurred.
"This is Emily Kin, and I found someone who I think belongs to you…."
When Sam saw Bobby's truck he stood and when Bobby got out of the truck, Sam moved as fast as he could to Bobby and fell into a hug with the older man. "Help. Help me." Sam whispered and clutched onto the older man.
"Help. Help me," he continued. Bobby looked over the bigger man's shoulder and nodded to Emily who had sat with Sam on the side of the road for hours waiting on Bobby to get his ass down there.
"Thank you, young lady." She nodded.
"Please let me know how he is." Bobby nodded and watched as she got into her truck and pulled off the side of the road and back towards what Bobby could only assume was home.
He turned his attention back to the man hugging him for all he was worth. He patted Sam on the back and pulled him away from his chest.
"Come on son, we have to get into the truck so we can check you out. Make sure it's all you up in there."
Every test in the book, a bath, a new set of clothes, and a cup of warm tea and honey later, Bobby was ready to start asking questions.
"Son, what do you remember?"
Sam looked up over the steaming cup and said, "Everything." He took a gulp of the tea and snuggled deeper into the blanket that was covering his chilled frame. "Dean said that there weren't words. He was right. My God was he right." At the mention of his brother, Sam's brain immediately went back to that single train of thought that he had been on since Bobby picked him up. "I have to get to Dean." He started to stand up, and Bobby pushed him back down.
"Right now, you need to sit there and get yourself better. Dean's fine. He's with Lisa and Ben, just like you made him promise. He's okay. One more day won't kill him. I promise. You aren't in any shape for a long drive."
"I have to see him. I have to…"
"I know you do son. As soon as you stop shivering, and you actually can make proper sounds come out of your throat, we will go to see your brother." Sam nodded and took another sip of tea.
"Who pulled me out?" he asked softly.
Bobby sighed and ran a hand down his beard. "I don't know."
"Cass disappeared right after you did. No one has seen hide nor hair from the bastard." Sam nodded.
It was like magic, the next morning Sam came down the stairs, calm and composed. The jittery, scared little boy who just got back from the pit was gone and a cold, composed and detached man stood in front of him. Bobby remembered the story Sam told him about the time the Trickster made Dean die over and over and over again, and then finally let him die and stay dead. Sam told him about how detached and cold he had become, and what scared Bobby was that he was standing in front of that man now.
"I want to see Dean." He said simply. No shaking. His eyes were clear and focused. He was clean. To someone who didn't know Sam Winchester they would assume that he was fine. Bobby knew better, Bobby knew that this was Sam denying everything, and that could be more dangerous than Sam running on his emotions.
"I'm better. Let's go Bobby." Bobby took a deep breath and grabbed his keys. Trying to stop a Winchester was like trying to stop a hurricane.
Sam stood under the streetlight in front of Lisa's, and now he supposed, Dean's house. They were having a family dinner, mother, father and son. Dean even looked a little happy. For the first time in a long time, Dean looked relaxed, like the world didn't actually rest on his very broad shoulders. And he couldn't. Sam couldn't take another step forward, this time he couldn't be selfish. It was Dean's turn to have a life. It was Dean's turn to have the beautiful woman, and the family who loved him as much as he loved them.
He couldn't tell his brother he was back. If he did, he would run back to the life that had almost finished him off in the first place. Sam decided that he would leave his brother to this life, allow him to have normal, allow him to grow old…the natural way, allow him to raise a child, hell maybe even father one of his own. Dean didn't need to know he was alive, Dean wouldn't know he was alive.
Sam starred for just a minute longer, and turned and went back to Bobby's truck.
"He's happy. I'm not going to ruin that."
"Sam…" Sam turned to Bobby, Bobby almost startled at the coldness that had crept up into Sam's hazel eyes.
"I'll be fine. He's where he needs to be. He deserves to have this life."
"But can't he have that with you in it?"
"You and I both know Dean. If he sees me, he'll ditch normal and follow me. I only bring him misery and pain. He doesn't need to know." And just like that, Sam had turned off his emotions, turned off his humanity, turned off everything that made him special. Bobby felt like he just witnessed someone die right in front of him. Sammy Winchester was no more.