Sitting hunched up with his arms around his drawn-up legs, Sam watches the colors the applewood lends to the fire, hazy green dancing among the bright peach and orange and yellow. Sitting near that warmth and hearing the sounds of the fire, like twigs being snapped underfoot, are making him drowsy. His belly being full of chicken and wine isn't really helping either.
He's startled when Sarah comes up and wraps her arms around him from behind, pulling him back between her legs. Her cheek rests on his hair, and he can feel her heart racing a mile a minute. "Sam," she whispers, dragging her blanket around to cover his legs, "can you tell me now?"
There's no slipping out of it this time, and he still doesn't know what exactly to say. "Sarah," he begins, then stops again. He starts to turn around, but then remembers that while he's reading her face for clues as to what she wants to hear, she'll surely be doing the same, evaluating his honesty with probing looks at his face, his eyes, and his body language. "Yes, I was dead, actually dead, literally dead. For three days." Dean still won't speak about those lost hours, and Sam hasn't pushed on that one boundary, leaving it sacrosanct. He won't talk about what Dean must have gone through, not even for Sarah, cradling him in her arms. This time he does twist. and catches a glimpse of her face; her eyes are closed but there are tears leaking out from beneath her eyelids; there's a pained frown twisting her features. He reaches out for her.
"And where did you go?" she asks, surprising him so much that his hand stills between them.
That's the question that Dean wouldn't ask him, assuming a knowledge that was sacred, private, and not to be trampled upon even by one so very near. Sam had never worked up the courage to admit that he hadn't gone anywhere at all, that he could remember being in Cold Oak, could clearly recall setting down the knife and bargaining with Jake for peace, and then there was cold and dark sweeping over him like velvet curtains coming down, thick and soft and heavy, and then suddenly there was warmth again, Dean's insistent arms around him and frantic heartbeat surrounding him while his nose got lost in Dean's dirty hair. Clarity came later, seeing Dean in bright pieces and shadowed fragments that suddenly resolved into a whole as light invaded his unaccustomed eyes.
He's never remembered the moment so vividly before, and he wants to hug it to himself, keep it inside. But Sarah's asking for comfort only he can give, and he recalls that she'd spoken about her mother's death when he had first met her. He does the only thing he can think to do. He lies.
"There was light. Everything was white and clean and ... calm. And I wasn't scared or hurt. Just peaceful."
She's nodding, her eyes still closed, pressed tightly shut to trap her treacherous tears, and the arms she's wound around him loosen. He pivots and reverses their positions, holding her in his own arms and saying "shhh" into her soft hair, rocking her while she cries, exhausting herself.
He puts her to bed, then steals back downstairs. There's a part of him that wants to hunt out a blank pad, make it serve as a makeshift journal, and write down everything that's just come back to him. But no words will ever get it exactly right, and the five-year planner is for the future, not the past, and so he settles in front of the TV, flipping through channels.
His phone rings a few times, the ordinary ring only, so he ignores it. When the credits roll on The Return of the King, he tries Dean again, only to get the same message as before, this time immediately instead of after several rings. "Dean, charge your goddamn phone once in a while," he mutters, and gets up to find some food.