Ring of Fire

Summary- AU Tag to Swan Song. Sam makes it out of hell and is visited by someone he never thought he would see again. This is an AU take of Sam getting out of hell and doesn't have anything to do with the sixth season. Beta'd by sendintheclowns and Floralia.

This tag to Swan Song was inspired by the season premiere of Smallville. Clark at the beginning of the new season had a near death experience that was followed by a visit by his earth father. It was such a touching scene and one of my all time favorites for Smallville. It made me want to give Sam the same chance that Clark got with his dad.

Sam came to on the cold, cold ground. He felt a light mist hitting his face and it felt good- it made him feel alive. Taking a moment to get his bearings he realized that he had made it topside. Sam was still cold but he felt alive.

The pit had been cold just as Lucifer said and... no … he couldn't go there. Sam was free and he needed to bask in that thought, not drowned in the despair of the hell he had escaped from.

As his vision became clearer, he realized that he was sitting in the middle of Stull Cemetery, probably in the very spot he had taken the plunge to put Lucifer in the cage. Sam then realized that he was wearing the same clothes he had that day and as he patted himself down, it became apparent that he also had his wallet and cell phone.

Sam was about to pull the phone out when he heard a rumble. It was a familiar rumble but not the earth shaking sound he expected. The loud motor he heard wasn't his brother's car, no, it sounded like his dad's truck, but how could that be?

Well, considering he had made it out of Hell, Sam realized that nothing was impossible, at least for a Winchester. Sam slowly stood up as the truck stopped a few feet in front of him.

Sam could make out a song coming from the truck... one that was his dad's favorite. Johnny Cash's song Ring of Fire.

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down
And The Flames Went Higher
And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire
The Ring Of Fire

The lyrics sent a shiver down Sam's spine as they reminded him of the frigid fire he had just escaped. He turned his attention to the driver of the truck. Part of him wanted it to be John and part of him wanted to run if it was.

A man started to get out of the truck and Sam's breath caught. It was John, and he looked exactly like he did the day he died, minus the sling and bruises. It couldn't be real; his head had to be playing tricks on him.

"Hey Sammy, it's me. You breaking through to the other-side has opened you up to being able to receive a visit from the dead. Why don't you climb in the truck where it is warm and we can talk?"

John's smile was big and warm. Sam wanted to run to him and hug him but he knew that this couldn't be real. It was too crazy. In the end he decided to bask in the craziness – it might be the only time he would get to talk to his dad again.

He nodded at John, and started for the truck but before he could make it to the passenger side, John had crossed around and pulled him in a bear hug. It felt so good, but Sam was in shock and had trouble responding. It felt like his father, and damn- it even smelt like his father was there holding him- but he couldn't believe it was real.

John slowly let him go and nodded to the truck. "Get in before you get sick."

Sam wiped the moisture from his eyes. "Yes sir."

Sam blindly got in the truck and his father moved to turn the stereo off and soon it was quiet except for the sound of the truck engine running.

Turning towards his dad, Sam finally found his voice. "Am I crazy, I don't understand how you can be here?"

John threw his head back in a hearty laugh. "Well, I would say that being a Winchester qualifies you for being crazy, but no, this isn't in your head. It is real, well, as real as this sort of thing can get. You still remember when you and Dean went to Heaven?"

It felt like centuries ago but Sam remembered. "Yeah, we caught up with Ash but we couldn't find you and he hadn't heard that you were there."

John sighed. "Yeah, well that bastard Zachariah, he held me away from the others. We believe that he has Mary, Jo and Ellen all separated where no one can find them. The bastard thought he might need my help in figuring you boys out, but I refused to help him so he made me watch everything unfold. I was stuck in this nice memory of when we had a two week summer break from hunting and stayed at that hunting lodge in Wisconsin. I could relive my time with you boys or watch what was happening on earth, on a TV in the Lodge. I saw it all unfold... and felt so damn helpless."

Sam swallowed hard. The idea that his dad watched as he fell into darkness and drank demon blood made him want to jump out of the truck and run. "I'm so sorry Dad."

John's face scrunched up in concern. "Hey kiddo, don't do that. I'm not here to judge you. If anyone should be apologizing it is me."

Sam gave his father a tight smile. It was hard to let things go so Sam decided to move on and cover other ground. "So how did you get here?"

John chuckled. "Ash. Once you got Lucifer in the cage, all hell broke loose up stairs and in the chaos, Ash was able to find me. He's still working on finding Mary, Ellen and Jo. The kid is a freakin' genius. I told him that I wanted to find a way to get you out of Hell. He was working on that, we had tuned in to you and we were getting close when the angel radio went crazy with the fact you were topside. Ash had been working on this theory that he could astral project a soul back to earth. We were already in tune with you and your strong psychic signature made it easier to locate you, so we were going to test sending the truck first and, well, it took me down as well."

"Wow, that is just amazing. So it was easier for you to find me than Dean because of my psychic ability?" Sam was still trying to wrap his mind around his dad contacting him instead of Dean.

"Yep it was but I wanted to find you first, Sammy. I know that you have forgiven me, Sam, for your childhood, I watched your interaction with me when you took a trip to the past. I'm having trouble forgiving myself for the way I raised both of you boys, but it is you that I wronged the most."

Sam hated to see his dad look so upset and really, he had forgiven John; hell, he now understood his dad's motives. "Dad, it is okay, really."

John shook his head. "No, it,s not. Damn it, I should never have treated you differently- but I did. After the fire, when I met with Missouri she told me about the dark creature that took Mary and she told me that the darkness had touched you. She could feel it on you- but she was clear with me about not making any assumptions. Missouri said that you had a psychic ability and that might have been why you were targeted. Your abilities were dormant, and might stay that way indefinitely, but they were there. She then gave me some advice- she said that you had a pure heart and soul. As long as I provided you with love and care – then the darkness would never win you over. I didn't take her advice; I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop with you. I treated you different because of ..."

Sam placed his hand on his father's shoulder. "You treated me different because you were afraid of the darkness and what it would do to this family, and in my mind you were right to do so. Dad, I know that you love me, and you did what you thought was best to protect me, but you also had to be willing to step up if I turned. That took a lot of strength."

John wiped at the moisture gathered around his eyes. "Dean didn't ever doubt you, and I wonder if I had been more honest with you and trusted you to do the right thing... if things could have turned out better."

Sam squeezed his father's shoulder before pulling away. "We can't live in the past – we can only move forward. I do understand and forgive you."

"Sammy, I'm so damn proud of you. Do you know that? Damn it if you didn't end up being the strongest of us all. You took down Lucifer."

Sam swallowed hard. "I couldn't have done it without being trained to be tough by you, and I definitely couldn't have done it without Dean's support."

The radio came on and static came across and then Ash's voice filled the airway. "Dudes- this is the mother hen giving you the five minute warning...that is about all I can provide before things get unstable."

Sam smiled. "Thanks so much for this, Ash."

"No problemo – catch you on the flip-side Sam."

The radio went dead and John shuffled uncomfortably in his seat. "Well, I guess I need to finish up. Sam, I wish I could be here to help you get reacquainted with being topside. You have a long road ahead of you, because the world is topsy turvey. Dean is domesticated with that girl Lisa, just like you asked. Bobby and the other hunters have their hands full. Heaven is in chaos, as is Hell. You'll have to find your own path, but know that I'm watching and I'm here for you even if you can't see me."

"I appreciate that Dad, I do. When you find Mom- tell her I love her and give her a hug for me. And tell Ellen and Jo, that I'm so sorry. They did make a big difference though."

John gave Sam a reassuring smile. "I will do that, kiddo. And when you find that brother of yours, tell him that I'm sorry and someday I'll find a way to visit him too. He deserves to be able to kick my ass and get it out of his system."

Sam chuckled at that. "Yeah, fists first and then forgiveness with Dean."

"Yep, that would be my oldest. So Sammy, we good?"

Sam nodded not trusting his voice, he reached over and gave his dad a hug.

Sam felt his dad's stubble and then a warm air against his cheek as John spoke. "I love you son."

Sam sniffled. "I love you too Dad."

With reluctance, Sam slowly pulled away. "Guess I should get out before I'm pulled back with you."

John laughed. "Yeah, and while I'd love to have you there, I think you have more work to do here on earth."

Sam nodded. "Well I guess this is it."

"For now kid, but we'll see each other again, I can promise that."

Sam opened the door and took as step out. "I look forward to it."

John nodded and smiled. Sam didn't want this moment to end but he knew it had to so he gave his dad a small wave and shut the door to the truck.

Music filled the air as the truck began to pull away.

Love Is A Burning Thing
And It Makes A Fiery Ring
Bound By Wild Desire
I Fell Into A Ring Of Fire

This time the music made him smile and feel hopefully. He had felt his father's love again and it made him feel warm and safe.

Sam watched as the truck started to shimmer in and out of focus until it was gone. He was alone, but he knew in his heart that he wasn't truly alone. God might have checked out but his father was there and that was enough to give Sam hope.


Thanks for reading! I want to thank Princess_schez for her support and she made me a wonderful story banner that is going up with the story at Supernaturalville. I also want to thank sendintheclowns and floralia for their support and beta work. :)