Bobby was asleep at his desk when he heard the knock at the door. Okay – passed out from too much whiskey and too much grief was probably the more accurate term, but he wasn’t one to get all pissy over semantics – that had been Sam’s job.
God … Sam …
The whiskey bottle next to his head was suddenly in his hand once again. He choked down a long, burning swallow past the lump in his throat as he tried not to bring up the image of Dean on his knees, holding his little brother’s cooling body close to him on that wet night in Cold Oak.
Sam wasn’t his son by blood and neither was Dean, but if watching one of your sons die felt anything close to the ache and despair he felt right now, then he couldn’t imagine anyone actually surviving that. Now he understood a little better why John checked out early – he couldn’t bear the thought of either of his kids dying before him.
Whoever was at the door knocked again, this time with a little more force and impatience. Bobby put down the bottle and grumbled to himself as he walked over to the door and pulled it open.
What greeted him nearly gave him a heart attack and in hindsight, Bobby should have prepared himself for this possibility.
Standing on his porch was Dean and just behind him, as if he could hide his towering height behind his big brother, was Sam, shifting nervously on his heels. Both boys wore contrite expressions on their faces as they each greeted him with a ‘Hey, Bobby’ as if it was every day that one of them died and came back – but then again – these boys were Winchesters …
Bobby eyed both kids carefully and willed himself to start breathing again. Dean wouldn’t look Bobby in the eye while Sam looked much like he did the last time he saw him – and that had been while the boy had been lying dead. The Sam that was standing before him didn’t appear to be much better, except that he was walking and talking.
Immediately, Bobby’s mind got to going through the list of possibilities that could account for bringing Sam back from the dead: he could be a draugr, a golem, a lich, a revenant – anything. But, one look at Dean’s guilty face and Bobby knew what had happened – he knew what Dean had done to make sure his brother was still by his side.
After he got over his initial shock, which was by no means and easy feat, Bobby led the boys inside to his library and explained what he had been working on. He asked Sam to look into some cattle mutilations and demonic omens in southern Wyoming while Bobby practically dragged Dean outside and started laying into him the second they were out of Sam’s earshot.
Bobby figured out pretty quick how Sam was even up and around; Dean must have made a deal for Sam just like John had done for him. He whirled on the kid and demanded he tell him the truth, and when Dean confessed to what Bobby had suspected, he felt his stomach drop. When Bobby asked how long he had before his bill came due and Dean responded by saying he had only a year, the older man was livid.
Sam’s dying had nearly torn Bobby to shreds, but he was pissed as Hell hearing that and had to restrain himself from knocking Dean’s teeth in for being so stupid with his own life – and his afterlife. He understood why Dean did it – and he was pretty damned glad to see Sam himself, but he just wished Dean hadn’t been so eager to give his soul away and not realize how much it was really worth, which was much, much more than just a frickin’ year topside.
Bobby grabbed the lapels of Dean’s jacket and pulled him in angrily, “I could throttle you!” He yelled into the kid’s face.
“And what? Send me downstairs ahead of schedule? You can take a swing at me if you want, but I did what I had to, Bobby … he’s m’brother,” Dean’s eyes glistened with unshed tears and his voice grew hoarse, “I couldn’t let him die.”
Bobby choked back tears of his own. Sam had been dead and gone and came back, but now Dean’s head was on the chopping block – he wasn’t sure his heart could take any more grief. He patted Dean’s face just as a something fell and made a clanking noise behind the younger man. They both jumped and dove to hide behind a rusting Ford until a shadow passed by. Dean lunged and caught the intruder.
Turned out, it was Ellen seeking refuge from the burned out ruins of her roadhouse and that made two people Bobby had seen come back from the dead in one day.
Ellen had been lucky to make it out of the Roadhouse alive and she was clearly still very much shaken. She’d gone to get pretzels, she said, and had come back to see her place in flames. For the first time since they met her, Sam noted that she appeared to be glad that Jo had caught the hunting bug since she hadn’t been anywhere close to the bar when it was destroyed.
She also brought with her a map that Ash had left for her in the safe she had kept in the basement of the roadhouse – a map of Wyoming with X’s marked all around the area of the state Sam and Bobby had already been studying.
All of them set to work trying to figure out what the connection between Ash’s cryptic map, but it was Wyoming – the area where Bobby had charted all of the demonic activity, so it had to mean something. They all got to work after that researching how it was all connected.
It didn’t take long for the four of them to figure it all out and put the pieces together to form a coherent picture – the iron railway lines constructed by Samuel Colt, the cowboy cemetery in the middle of one hell of a giant pentagram, the demon activity surrounding it. The demons couldn’t get into whatever it was the railway lines were protecting, but they wanted in – badly and dollars to donuts, the yellow-eyed demon was somehow apart of whatever was going to happen and they had to stop it.
It didn’t take Sam long to realize that while the demons couldn’t get across the iron lines, there was one person who could – Jake. If the demon had gotten to him and convinced Jake to help him – who knew what the kid could do and what he was capable of now. Sam had seen for himself how easily a person could be corrupted by the demon – he saw it in Max, in Andy’s brother – and even Ava. He had an uneasy feeling creeping up and if his stomach had been working, he would have recognized it as butterflies. He too had come close to falling into Yellow-Eye’s plan – he had his chance to bash Jake’s brains out at Cold Oak and by God – he had been tempted to finish Jake off, but he had come to his senses in time and held out before he could swing the iron rod into Jake’s head – not wanting to give the demon the satisfaction of playing right into his hands.
But now … Sam wasn’t certain he had done the right thing. What if he had killed Jake? Jake wouldn’t have stabbed him … he wouldn’t have died … Dean wouldn’t have sold his soul just to bring back a corpse. Anger was quickly overtaking the anxious feeling he’d been having since he woke up on that mattress. He had to find Jake – not only to stop him from aiding the demon that had destroyed his family, but to finish what he should have done in the first place.
Sam half-listened to the plans Bobby, Dean, and Ellen were making he made some plans himself. Jake was going to pay, of that he was certain.
Ellen dried the last dish and placed it in the cabinet over the sink before she dried her hands with the same towel then dropped it on the counter beside the sink. Bobby and Dean had retreated to the library after dinner – a dinner she noted Sam hadn’t bothered to attend.
Before dinner, Bobby had taken her aside and explained Sam’s ‘situation’ after he caught her staring at the young man and his unhealthy appearance. She had been worried at first that he was ill, but Bobby’s account of Sam being killed and then brought back as a re-animated corpse by a deal Dean made with a demon was not something she had been expecting even believed at first. She’d seen her fair share of strange shit over the years – but this was unlike anything she had ever heard of before.
And to make it worse, it was happening to Sam – she really liked the kid. He was the kind of boy that just made her motherly instincts kick into overdrive and it was like she wanted to protect him the way should would Jo.
Ellen turned from the sink and from her vantage point in the kitchen, she could just make out a tiny bit of a tan sleeve through the screen door that led to the porch. Bobby and Dean were talking quietly in the library. The occasional clinking of glasses she could hear told her that there was some whiskey being downed. Damn … she could use a drink, but the figure on the porch was more important so she resisted the pull of the library and headed out the door. Sam stood, leaning on the porch rail, looking out at the junkyard. She was pretty sure that he wasn’t really seeing anything in front of him, as he appeared to be lost in thought – so much so, that he didn’t react to her presence until she was standing beside him, joining him in taking in the sights of broken and rusting automobiles. She caught a faint aroma coming from Sam, but she forced her mind to not label it as decay – she really didn’t want to go there.
“S’not exactly the Grand Canyon, is it?” She asked, trying not to focus on his colorless skin or the way it was starting to look like it was stretching too tight over his bones.
“Huh?” Sam turned as if finally registering that she was beside of him.
“It’s just there ain’t really much out there to warrant such deep attention. So … what’re ya thinking?”
“Nothing.” He responded, quietly returning his gaze out to the yard.
“Must be a whole lot of nothing,” She pointed out.
Sam sighed and bowed his head, “Why’d he do it?”
“Come again?” She asked.
“Why would he give up his soul for me?” He asked with a hint of bitterness in his voice.
“Because he loves you, Sam,” she stated simply.
She saw his jaw work back and forth as he ground his teeth, “No … he was scared and just didn’t want to be alone. And for what? Me? He didn’t do this for me – he did it for himself. God …”
Ellen could feel the anger rippling off of the young man, but she knew he just needed to vent his frustrations out on someone.
“You think he did this because he’s selfish, Sam?” Ellen came back, “From what I hear, Dean practically raised you himself, didn’t he?”
Sam nodded reluctantly.
“I may not know what it’s like to have a brother, but I do know what it is like to be a mother and to love someone so much that you’d gladly trade your life, even your soul for them. All I know is that I get why Dean did what he did and I can’t say that I wouldn’t do it myself if it had been Jo.”
Sam shook his head, “Doesn’t make it right.”
“Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean he was completely wrong either. You’re here and that’s a good thing, Sam.” Ellen reached out and touched Sam’s hand as it wrapped tight around the railing. He was cold to the touch and she had to resist the repulsion she could feel growing inside her stomach, knowing that she was touching a dead man’s skin, “And I know this sounds trite, but what’s done is done and all that you can do about it is look ahead at what you really need to focus on, like killing the demon and getting you back the way you should be.”
“You mean, six feet under? Because really, Ellen … that’s the way I should be.”
Ellen felt Sam pull his hand away then watched him walk back into the house, the screen door slapping closed behind him.
The four hunters left Bobby’s place and headed for Wyoming not long after Sam spoke with Ellen, and they drove all through the long night without any stops.
Along the way, Sam was still angry and he just couldn’t let it go. He was mad at Dean – the crossroads demon – Jake – Yellow eyes – he was so full of it that he was sure he might burst, but what he was most angry at was his own body as it continued to steadily break down.
Ellen and Bobby rode together in his truck for which Sam was glad, because he knew he was giving off an unpleasant odor as his flesh slowly changed from soft and pliable to something more closely related to beef jerky. While Dean didn’t say anything about it, the open window was enough to let Sam know that it was a constant reminder of his current condition that his brother wasn’t ready to handle yet.
And truth be told, Sam didn’t want to deal with it yet either. All he could think about was getting to the cemetery and stopping whatever Yellow Eyes had planned, and if Jake was there … well … he wasn’t sure yet what he would do. A part of him wanted him dead – wanted to kill him with his bare hands if he could, while another part of him remembered that Jake hadn’t been all that different from him – he just hadn’t been strong enough to resist the demon. Sam could easily have been the one to ‘win’ the death match the demon had arranged for his ‘special children’ and it scared him how close he had come to sliding down that slippery slope. And maybe that was what Sam was angry about – that deep down he might not be strong enough to resist the lure of evil he knew was in his blood.
Sam hadn’t told Dean about the demon blood – about how Yellow Eyes had infected him by bleeding into his mouth as a baby. He wasn’t ready to tell his brother that … not yet. Not when he wasn’t even ready to accept that truth himself. Besides, he wasn’t even sure if it mattered anymore. He was dead – his blood was dead. Maybe that meant that whatever power the demon had given him was also dead. He wasn’t sure, but it was one glimmer of hope that he could cling to.
Sam hadn’t really been paying much attention to anything as they drove and it wasn’t until Dean said, “We’re here,” that he realized that it was time to switch off his internal monologue and focus on the mission. He climbed out of the car and followed Dean to the trunk. His joints, while they didn’t pain him, were stiff and as he reached into the trunk and pulled out his handgun, he began to notice a haze around the edges of his vision. He didn’t think too much of it until he caught Dean looking at him with unmasked concern.
“What?” Sam asked.
“You okay to do this?”
“Yeah – I’m okay, why?”
“It’s just … uh … “Dean made a motion with his finger towards Sam’s eyes, “Can you see okay?”
Sam frowned ... how did Dean know his vision was cloudy? His question was answered only a moment later as Dean slammed the lid of the trunk and Sam’s reflection from the back window revealed a light, milky film had formed over his eyes.
Crap on a stick …
“I’ll be fine. I can still see enough to shoot.” Sam grumbled, hating the way his voice was also starting to deteriorate, as even his throat and voice box started to decay. He tried to put the thought that he might not be able to see or speak soon out of his head – he had to focus on the task at hand and worry about everything else later. His priority had to be on Jake and the yellow-eyed demon and all else, besides the safety of his brother and friends, didn’t matter. He might not be able to die since he was already dead, but the people that meant the most to him in the whole world certainly could, and he couldn’t let that happen – he needed to be sharp and force his crumbling body to hold out long enough for them all to come out of this intact.
“’Kay.” Dean nodded reluctantly, “Let’s do this already.”
Dean, Sam, Bobby, and Ellen advanced together through the cemetery, weapons drawn as they approached the dark figure from behind.
It was almost miraculous that they made it just in time; a few minutes later and they may not have been able to stop whatever Jake was going to do. In his hand, Dean recognized the long, thin barrel of the Colt – the weapon that had disappeared the same day his father died.
Dean felt his heart rate rocket as Jake seemed to sense their presence and turned around. Immediately, Jake’s eyes landed on Sam; surprise and disbelief etched into his face.
“You can’t be here. You’re dead. I killed you.”
Sam kept his gun leveled on Jake and replied coolly, “Yeah well … turns out I’m only mostly dead – guess this means you won’t be able to kill me a second time.”
“Does it matter?” Sam asked.
“I suppose not,” Jake agreed then started to laugh.
Dean almost rolled his eyes at the over-the-top maniacal laughter, “What’s so funny, bitch?”
Jake merely smiled wider, ignoring Dean’s jibe. Dean’s already tense muscles tightened even more as Jake turned his attention to Ellen, “Hey lady … put that gun to your head.”
Something flashed in Jake’s eyes and a moment after that, the gun in Ellen’s hand began to shake as she raised it to her head, powerless to resist the power Jake had over her.
“See, Sam –“ Jake explained, “that Ava chick was right. Once you give in to it, there are all sorts of Jedi mind tricks you can do. Now … everyone put your guns down or she’s dead before you ever get to pull the trigger.”
Bobby looked at Dean before he put his gun on the ground. Caught over a barrel, Dean didn’t see that he had much choice than to do the same. Sam was last to put his weapon down and as soon as he did, Jake turned and ran for the mausoleum door, sliding the barrel of the colt into a keyhole made especially for it.
Everything seemed to happen all at once after that. To Dean’s right, Sam dove for his gun while on his left, Bobby grabbed the gun in Ellen’s hand and pulled it away, causing it to go off into the air. More shots followed; these ones from Sam’s gun, as he fired over and over and over again into Jake’s back.
Jake fell backward and landed in the grass. He looked up at Sam who held his gun at Jake’s face and pleaded for his life.
Dean felt his insides grow cold watching his little brother’s cataract-covered eyes narrow with anger and pure hatred as he fired his gun, discharging it into Jake’s head until it ran out of bullets and there was nothing left of Jake’s face but a bloody pile of grey matter and broken bones.
Standing with feet frozen to the ground, Dean stared at his brother in disbelief and realized for a moment that Sam looked nothing like the little brother he had given his soul to save, but it wasn’t just his body that was different. That more than anything he had ever encountered before sent a tidal wave of fear through his body.
My God, Sammy … what did I do to you?
There was little time to ponder the coldness of Sam’s act as the mechanism that held the Colt spun to a stop and an ominous sound of hinges unused for more than a century filled the air.
Dean rushed for the Colt and pulled it out of the door, but it was too late for him or the others to stop the gate from opening. Bobby shouted something about this being a gate to Hell just before he yelled for everyone to take cover.
The Doors exploded outward just as Dean and the others dove behind the nearest tombstones. The sounds of a thousand screams filled the air as Dean saw and felt hell itself unleashed upon the earth.
As soon as the initial shock-wave blew past, Ellen shouted, “We gotta close that gate!”
Sam and Bobby ran with Ellen for the doors and pushed with everything they had against the waves of souls and demons escaping from the portal.
Dean stood and meant to join them until he suddenly realized that he still held the Colt in his hand and as he checked the chamber, he found that it still contained one bullet.
He could still kill the demon – all he needed was one, clear shot. And if opening the gate to hell was Yellow-Eyes’ big plan, then it only made sense that he’d probably show up at any time.
Just as he thought that and turned around, there he was – the demon of the hour, walking smugly towards him with a triumphant grin on his face. Dean’s arm automatically raised and aimed the Colt, but before he could pull the trigger, the demon lifted his hand and the revolver was ripped from his fingers, flying through the air until the demon caught it smoothly in his own hand.
“Not today, Sport.” The demon quipped just as Dean felt his feet leave the ground as he went flying backward. Dean’s head made direct and painful contact with a tombstone before the rest of his body landed on the hard earth. Stars exploded in his vision and the world spun dizzyingly as chaos continued to erupt around him.
Dazed, Dean didn’t see the demon approach until he was right up in his face. Dean fought to raise himself from the ground, but he was held fast against the tombstone he landed on by the power of the demon.
With a gloating and amused expression on his face, the demon crouched down beside Dean, his yellow eyes glowing condescendingly, “I gotta thank you … you see, demons can’t resurrect someone unless a deal is made and now, thanks to you, Sammy’s back in rotation. I knew you could do it.”
Dean tried to move, but nothing would work. He couldn’t even turn his head away from the sulfurous smell of the demon’s breath hitting his face.
“Sure … Sammy will need a little repair work, what with his body still being dead and all, but that’s an easy fix. All I need is his cooperation and he’ll be as good as new. ”
“Sam won’t help you.” Dean ground out through clenched teeth.
“No? You don’t think so? You saw what he did back there to Jake, didn’t you? Pretty cold, huh? He’s a ticking time bomb, Dean and he has an evil inside of him that he’ll be hard pressed to control … and you know it, you just don’t want to admit it. Your dad knew – why else would he tell you to kill your own brother? What you saw tonight will be only the tip of the iceberg, especially after you die and his body continues to break down and decay. Soon his sight will go, his hearing, his voice – he’ll be trapped in a body that’s falling apart – unable to die because he’s already dead – unable to end his own suffering -- what other choice will he have but to accept the deal I’m going to offer him to bring his body back to life?”
“It’s just a matter of time – I give him a few weeks tops before he comes crawling to me, and I owe it all to you – all because of your self-loathing need to sacrifice yourself for your family – all because you couldn’t live without your precious Sammy. You of all people should know that what’s dead should stay dead.”
Yellow Eye’s stood and backed up a foot, raising the Colt and aiming for Dean’s chest. Dean forced his eyes to not squeeze shut in anticipation of the death that was soon to come, as he wasn’t about to give the bastard the satisfaction of seeing his fear, even if it was all-consuming. Silently, he offered up an apology to his brother; he failed –he brought Sam back only for him to be practically served up to the demon on a platter and for this he welcomed the blow that was certain to kill him.
But the shot never came. A blur of movement suddenly came from behind the demon and he was thrown backward by an unseen force, dislodging the Colt from his fingers. Dean reacted without thought and dove for the gun, raising it just in time for the demon to make it back to his feet.
Dean fired without hesitation.
Yellow Eyes stood stunned for a moment, disbelief crossing his face in the brief instant before bolts of energy ripped through his body from the bullet hole in his heart. The demon fell, landing on his back, his chest still smoking from the killing shot as his eyes stared lifelessly up at the sky.
Dean struggled to come to his feet and saw Sam rushing over from the corner of his eyes, while at the same time, the figure that had grabbed the demon and allowed Dean the chance to fire the Colt rose from the ground and stole what little breath he still held in his lungs.
Sam couldn’t believe what his fuzzy vision was showing him.
He had turned from trying to shut the gate with Ellen and Bobby as souls, demons, and who knew what else raced to escape from hell just in time to see Dean fire the colt at the yellow-eyed demon.
But the overwhelming surprise and shock of seeing the demon fall dead to the ground was dwarfed in comparison to seeing his father climb up from the ground and walk over to Dean and clasp him on the shoulder.
Sam abandoned Bobby and Ellen as they finished shutting the gate without him and walked on numb legs towards the scene playing out between the tombstones of the old boneyard.
His father’s head turned as he approached, eyes bright with tears – a look of sorrow on his face as he took in Sam’s deteriorating appearance and couldn’t do anything for him. Sam only nodded, hoping he could convey all that he felt coursing through him to his father; that it was okay – that he and Dean would find a way to save each other – that he loved him – missed him – was sorry for all of the problems between them that they just couldn’t work out before he died. All of that in the space of one nod.
His father nodded back his understanding and if Sam’s tear ducts weren’t dried up and useless, he knew he’d be crying.
Nothing was spoken between the three of them and in the next moment, his father was swallowed up in a bright light – then gone.
Dean looked over at Sam, his eyes brimming, but refusing to allow his tears to fall, instead he walked over to the body of the demon and bent down, “That’s for our mom and dad, you Goddamned sonofabitch.”
Little was said between the quartet as they unceremoniously burned the bodies of the demon’s host and Jake together in a shallow ditch; all of them too lost in the enormity of what just happened to do much more than go through the motions.
Sam watched the fire consume Jake’s mangled body and thought about how easy it had been to kill him. Without a heart beating in his chest or adrenalin flooding his body, he had put the bastard down like a dog and realized what he had become: a stone cold killer.
What was he? Was he even human anymore?
Sam let these thoughts play out over and over again in his head along with a million replays of Jake’s demise by his own hand. That, on top of trying to understand how his father had managed to escape from Hell and help kill the demon, made conversation practically impossible. But, if anyone could have crawled their way out of hell – it would have been their dad, and knowing that he was free from the torments he must have endured down there made knowing that he would never see him again a little easier.
Dean also appeared to be lost in his own head and he was silent for the most part until they finally made their way back to the Impala and Bobby’s truck.
The older hunter took off his cap and briefly rubbed his head before replacing it with a weary sigh. He turned to Ellen first “How ‘bout you ride back to my place with me. You boys can follow and we’ll have ourselves a little pow wow and figure out what needs to be done next.”
Bobby received no arguments from anyone. Who knew how many demons got out while the devil’s gate was open? The total number was almost too much to comprehend, but that wasn’t the only problem they needed to face. All Sam could think about was how he was going to get Dean out of his deal and one look at his brother snatching worried glances at him every two seconds told him that Dean’s thoughts were all on how to bring Sam’s body back to normal.
Ellen and Bobby climbed into his truck and took off not long after that, leaving Sam and Dean standing near the rear of the car. Dean opened the trunk and tossed his weapons inside, giving the Colt an appreciative smirk before he placed it inside as well. Sam added his weapon to the arsenal as well and then suddenly felt the enormity of everything hit him.
“I can’t believe it’s over,” He whispered, “Yellow Eyes is dead and Dad’s out … it’s all just so … feels kinda weird, ya know? But good.”
Dean turned towards Sam, but his expression held none of the relief Sam felt.
“What?” Sam asked, “Aren’t you happy about this?”
Dean looked down at his feet, “Yeah – I’m glad the bastard’s dead, but …”
“But what? We spent our whole lives trying to kill the demon. He killed Mom, Jessica … Dad. I thought you’d be throwing a party over this.”
“I dunno … the demon … he said he could have fixed you,” Dean confessed, “What if … what if I just killed the only chance you had to be whole again?”
“There’s got to be another way, Dean. And even if the demon could have fixed me, it wouldn’t have come without a catch. So, let me guess …. He told you that he’d bring my body back to life so long as I lead his fucking demon army. No way … I’d rather rot in this body than do that. You know it.”
“That’s the thing, Sam …” Dean voiced with deep regret, “You’re … God … look what I’ve done to you. I screwed us both.”
“You didn’t do this, Dean. Yeah – it was fucking stupid selling your soul for me, but we’ll find a way to fix this and I’m gonna find a way to get you out of your deal. Okay?”
Dean nodded, but his face never let go of the guilt and sorrow written all over it.Part 3