Sam didn’t stir. It was nice here. It was warm here. Or maybe he was so cold it seemed warm – he didn’t know anymore.
There was a voice. No, it was the wind. Or maybe it was a voice? It was really hard to tell. He wasn’t even sure if he was conscious or not. Maybe it was a dream. Maybe he was dead.
“Sam, honey, get up. You have to get up.”
No, he wasn’t dead – he could feel the wind cutting at his face, though it seemed less harsh than before (he was probably imagining that, or had lost all feeling in his skin). It was slicing at the part not buried in the snow, anyway.
The voice was female and really insistent. Sam opened his eyes with great difficultly – they felt like they were frozen shut and he was prying them apart from beneath a layer of ice. He lifted his head with great effort, and blearily made out a figure standing in the snow in front of him. A woman, it seemed, wearing long brown robes. Sam squinted. She had blonde hair and…
“Mar… Mom?” he croaked out. It wasn’t Ellen, but his birth mother Mary, the beautiful Jedi woman he’d only seen in pictures. Or at least, it was a hallucination that looked a lot like her.
She smiled. “Yes. Sam, I need you to hold on.”
She was asking a lot, Sam decided.
“Can you do that for me?”
“Try…” Sam said, his voice a cracked whisper. He hoped she heard him. He was trying to hang on after all – he’d been trying for who-the-hell-knew how long. That had to count for something, right? It was just so cold.
“Good,” Mary said. The image of her flickered and faded for a moment before it steadied and she continued. “Sam, you must go to Dagobah. It is as Castiel said – you must find him on Dagobah.”
“Dagobah…?” Sam echoed weakly.
“Go to Dagobah,” Mary repeated. “Find Castiel.”
“Castiel…” said Sam, his eyes sliding shut. Dagobah, he recited in his head. Find Castiel.
His head drooped slowly back down into the snow. The image of Mary was fading completely now. He didn’t think it was important to focus on her anymore.
If she was ever really there in the first place.
Dean had no idea in hell how to find Sam.
He’d started towards the kid’s last known location, but it was a struggle. The blizzard was letting up a little – it wasn’t nearly as thick as it’d been half an hour ago – but the weather was still wreaking havoc on the navigational equipment guiding him to the sensors Sam had been in charge of setting up.
And then there was this weird churning in Dean’s gut that was getting stronger and telling him he was going the wrong way. Why the hell he had this feeling, he didn’t know, just that he did and it was starting to make his skin crawl under his jacket. He glanced around the never-ending white expanse, wishing for some kind of clue.
For a split second, he thought he heard his name on the wind. Then he thought he saw a form in the distance – someone standing out in the snow – but it was gone as fast he could blink. Still, he didn’t hesitate in turning his tauntaun and kicking it into high gear across the snow.
Sam, I’m coming, he thought, thinking he’d finally found the kid.
The faster he pushed the tauntaun over the snow drifts, the more that twisted feeling in his gut began to ease. It was weird and inexplicable, but he suddenly knew he was headed in the right direction. He blew past where he thought he’d seen the figure, but there was no sign of Sam. He pressed on, stopping only once to get his bearings, swiveling on the spot before charging off in the direction that caused that same bizarre I just know it’s this way feeling he couldn’t articulate.
The blizzard had eased significantly and visibility was much better. Dean could actually differentiate the white horizon from the darkened gray sky now, instead of it all being one big white blanket. He pulled up short at a steep incline and, down below, he could see a dark form, half-buried in the snow.
His heart thudded in his chest. Was that a rock, or was it Sam?
“Sam!” he called, but there was no response. He urged his tauntaun down the hill. When he was halfway down the hill, Dean saw that the mass was indeed Sam. He jumped down from his tauntaun and hurried over.
“Sam! Sam, hey, it’s Dean!” He knelt down and shook the kid’s shoulder. He turned him over and gasped. The kid’s lips were blue; his face stark white, scratched up, caked with frozen blood and crusted with snow. Dean yanked his glove off and quickly but gently brushed the snow away from Sam’s face.
“Don’t be dead,” Dean pleaded, his heart hammering against his ribs. “Come on Sammy, don’t do this to me – Jo will kill me.” He propped Sam up and noticed his injured arm. “Damn it, I told you to watch out for the wampas!”
Hot guilt swept over Dean – he shouldn’t have let Sam go out alone, first time on an ice planet, first time on a tauntaun. Hell, the kid didn’t know what a wampa even looked like. This was Dean’s fault; he hadn’t protected the kid like he should’ve, and now Jo’s brother was dead. How could he have been so goddamn stupid!
Dean fought back a lump of emotion and gave Sam another shake, trying to rouse him. “Come on!” He let Sam’s limp body fall back against his chest and fumbled against Sam’s icy neck, searching for a pulse. If there was one, it was too weak to make out.
Then Sam’s lips were moving, making faint sounds. Dean’s breath hitched. Relief flooded his chest and nearly choked him. He leaned his ear down.
“Dag…bah…” Sam whispered hoarsely, his voice terribly feeble. “Mom... Cas…tiel…”
Dean reared back. He’s alive! “O-kay, someone is hysterical. Let’s get you back to warmth. C’mon now, Sammy, up you get.”
Getting Sam’s limp form up onto the tauntaun was extremely difficult, what with Sam being so tall and unable to help, but Dean managed. He climbed onto the tauntaun, and though the pair didn’t exactly fit – Dean had to sort of stand awkwardly in the stirrups of his saddle and lean back, holding the reins in one hand and Sam with the other – it was good enough for now. The tauntaun moved a lot slower with the weight of two riders, and it protested frequently with grumbling groans, but Dean urged it on.
Sam made a soft moaning noise every once in a while and Dean found himself nearly holding his breath in between them. Each new one meant Sam was still alive, while each silence threatened that Dean had lost him.
He rubbed Sam’s back. “Hold on, kid. Hold on.”
Far too much time passed in Dean’s frantic estimation, and then, as his luck would have it, his tauntaun decided now was the moment to pack it in, its legs buckling as it let out a hideous, pathetic groan. Dean did his best to slide himself and Sam off the creature in the opposite direction so they wouldn’t be crushed by the falling beast. He landed with a heavy thump in the snow, Sam on top of him.
He should have known – tauntauns could only take so much distance before they needed a good long rest, and the pack had already been run pretty ragged with the earlier trip to put the sensors out. Frankly, he was lucky it had lasted this long.
He gently rolled Sam to the side and checked the sensing equipment still attached the tauntaun. The base wasn’t far, thankfully, though when Dean glanced back at Sam, he wasn’t sure if the kid was going to make it. Dean bit his lip, thoughts racing. He just needed to buy the kid a little more time…
“Oh hell,” Dean snarled. He shucked his gloves and worked them on over Sam’s frost-bitten hands. He unwrapped his thick scarf and lifted Sam up with one arm so he could wind the cloth around the kid’s face. He was hating this idea even as he continued doing it – trading Sam’s torn jacket for his own, swapping Sam’s ice-caked boots with his – but it was the best idea he had.
“Shit, Sam,” Dean complained, now decked out in Sam’s half-frozen, ripped up garb while his barely-conscious friend was wearing all of Dean’s body-heated outerwear. Dean knelt and looped Sam’s good arm across his shoulders, then struggled to his feet and started tromping forward, dragging Sam with him.
Dean gritted his teeth against the biting cold and pressed on, leaving the wheezing tauntaun behind.
Jo listened to the others surrounding her, but she made no response. Her eyes were glued to the crack in the bay doors.
“Darkness is falling – the temperature is dropping too fast, we have to close the doors.”
“There’s no way they both could have survived.”
“Maybe we should send a search party.”
“We’ll lose them too – it’s too cold and it’s getting dark.”
“We have to close the doors.”
“Please,” Jo begged, her voice wavering despite her best efforts. “Just give them a little more time. Do another scan – the blizzard is clearing.”
“There’s no guarantee – ”
There was a heavy sigh behind her, followed by retreating footsteps. Jo kept her eyes trained on the doors. She tugged the collar of her coat closer to her chin. I can’t lose you too, Sam, she thought, her eyes welling up with tears. I can’t you lose you and Mom and Dean. I won’t make it if I lose all of you.
Suddenly there were shouts and hollers, and Jo’s heart rate spiked. A pair of techs shouted for her to come quickly and she ran for the bay doors. Outside in the snow, she could faintly see a lop-sided, lumpy shape struggling over the drifts. She snatched up a pair of gloves and tore out into the snow, several people hot on her heels.
“Dean!” Jo cried out. “Sam!”
She pounded over the icy ground, the cold air pricking at her exposed skin. She gasped at the sight of her brother and Dean and then coughed from the sharp intake of frozen air. Dean was shuddering, his face mottled white and blue. He slowly forced one foot in front of the other. His hands were bare and clutching Sam, who looked so horrible that Jo could feel tears freezing on her face.
“G-get h-him – m-med-d unit-t,” Dean stuttered through violently chattering teeth.
The handful of rebels who had run outside with Jo caught up to her and the boys as she ducked under Dean’s arm to give him support. The others hastily propped Sam between them, wary of his hurt arm, and another took up Dean’s other arm.
“We got you,” Jo reassured him. “I got you.”
The med unit was darkened with simulated night when Castiel entered it. He’d arrived less an hour ago, and had been greeted warmly by the rebels and friends working the night shift.
It was indeed technically night outside, though because the bunker was carved primarily underground and into a mountainside, the time of day had to be simulated inside to match. No natural light permeated the corridors, save for a handful of upper levels that had the occasional miniature skylight, when they weren’t buried under heaps of snow.
The former Jedi hadn’t had much time for pleasantries; he was on a mission. He inquired where he might find Bobby Singer and was on his way.
Cas was glad to be here. It hadn’t been easy – stealing the Imperial fighter had just been the beginning. After the Impala had successfully blasted into hyperspace, Cas had still had to deal with a group of confused Imperials suddenly intent on shooting down the fighter that did not belong. It’d been a challenge and truth be told, Cas had barely made it out. He’d still been sapped after his battle with Azazel. It was only through the extraordinary power of the Force – finally flowing in him again, singing in his veins! – that he’d managed at all.
He’d escaped to the nearest planet and ditched the battle-worn fighter, exiting the smoking heap and getting himself immediately lost in a crowd. A few Force-infused mind-nudges later, and he was able to barter his way to a border moon nearby, and then steal a small, unlisted ship. He wasn’t proud of it, but he had to make it to the base somehow and keep the Imperials, who were likely still pursuing him, off his trail lest he lead them to the rebels.
Cas saw several occupied beds in the intensive care section of the med bay, and did a double take when he recognized the occupants. He hurried over and exhaled a sigh of relief when it became apparent that Sam and Dean were asleep and recuperating, though it certainly looked like they’d been through the ringer.
Sam looked particularly rough. His arms were covered with bacta strips and his face sported several deep cuts under a layer of healing gel. His right arm was in a stabilizing cast, the edges faintly glowing blue, as it worked to mend his wounds. Much of Sam’s exposed skin was discolored from exposure and what looked like frostbite, though that would certainly be healed with some more intensive bacta treatments. Dean showed signs of frostbite as well, though far less than Sam.
The Jedi frowned, wishing he could linger to find out details about their respective conditions and what had caused it, but reminded himself that he’d see them again soon enough. He needed answers and to be on his way as soon as possible.
Cas hastened across the room and through another set of doors to the long term care area. Fewer beds were occupied here and Cas spotted the one he was searching for at once. He picked up a chair from beside the door and brought it over to Bobby Singer’s bed.
Cas waved his hand over Bobby’s sleeping form and the older man stirred. He blinked awake and his eyes widened in surprise when he realized Cas was staring down at him.
“You. Castle… cats…”
“Castiel. Hello again,” said Cas softly. “I apologize for the hour, for waking you, and for startling you.”
“As you should,” said Bobby grumpily. He glanced around the room and his eyes landed unsurely back on Cas. “Look pal, I don’t mean to be rude, but what the hell – ”
“I know you have questions,” Cas interrupted, holding up his hand to stop Bobby from talking. “And I am sorry once again, but they will have to wait. I have questions for you first that cannot.”
Bobby grumbled under his breath, clearly disliking the situation. “It’s not like I have anywhere to be.”
Cas took a breath. “I once… trained alongside a powerful Jedi woman. I was away on a mission when she departed the Order to pursue love and a family. I later learned she perished during the Clone War. We were never terribly close, but we did have a bond, and her presence was one that was familiar to me. I hadn’t felt it in more than twenty years, until that day on the Death Star.”
As the Jedi spoke, his suspicions were already being confirmed. Bobby didn’t appear confused or surprised. As Cas continued, Bobby seemed to brace himself as though he’d been expecting the Jedi’s words long before they were formed.
“Is Sam the son of Mary Campbell?” Cas asked, watching Bobby carefully.
“I think you already know the answer to that,” the other man replied. “What’d you really come here for?”
The former Jedi took a breath then whispered, “He’s not the only one, is he?”
Bobby shook his head and leveled his somber gaze at Cas. “That brings the number of people who are still alive and know that little piece of information to a grand total of two. I assume you understand the gravity of that and will act accordingly.”
Cas leaned back in his chair. Oh, he understood all right. In fact, he probably understood a great deal more than Bobby could even imagine in that moment. It was the answer Cas had assumed, been hoping for, knew in his gut but had to hear confirmed. The puzzle pieces were clicking into place in Castiel’s mind and he let his breath out slowly, feeling the weight of the galaxy settle onto his shoulders.
“I do understand,” Cas finally said, his thoughts reeling and pinging off the inside of his skull. He thanked Bobby and stood. “One more thing: when Sam visits you next, tell him that it is imperative he seek me out as soon as possible. I will wait for him, on Dagobah.”
“Dagobah?” Bobby repeated. “Why the hell would you pick – ”
Cas waved his hand over Bobby’s head, and before the older man finished his sentence, he dropped off to sleep. Cas smiled in affectionate amusement. This was a good man, Cas could tell, and he liked him, despite his gruffness.
The Jedi hurried out of long term care and cast a regretful look at the sleeping forms of Sam and Dean, before sweeping out of the med bay. He was long gone by the time they woke.