Sam pulls the fruit from the branch, the last days of fall bringing a heaviness to its body, overly ripe for the harvest. The leathery skin feels odd beneath his fingers; it is foreign to this soil, its deep red a reminder of lands with more sun and sand than the Kansas prairie would ever see.
“Hey, baby, whatcha got there?” He drops the fruit - rimon, the grenade - and it bursts open on the hard ground as he turns to face her. In his dreams, Jess is an ascendent vision, one that rises on the horizon to occupy the corners of his mind, crowding out purpose and thought. Sometimes these dreams are distraction, a well of clear water to refresh his mind; sometimes chthonic, a boulder blocking his way, resistant to his efforts to roll it to the side so he can rise again.
Jess places her hand on his shoulder, cold and hard as sculpture, and he is unable to move away. The broken pomegranate lays on the stony ground at his feet, its bloody beads buried in creamy pith.
“If you're hungry, you should stay - eat with me.” She scoops up the two halves of the shell off the ground with her long fingers, the pink of her nails stained red as she drags arils out and squeezes them. The scarlet juice that dribbles down her hand is a match to the odd reflection in her eyes. He watches the juice hang before dripping onto her nightgown.
“We were made for each other, baby, from the beginning of time. Tell me that you'll stay with me.” She lifts the fruit to Sam's lips and he is starving. Hungry to know, hungry to stay. Perhaps if he takes a bite, he could make sense of all this. His mouth opens like a communicant at the altar. His tongue stretches out but he is pulled away before receiving the bloody offering.
“Sam.” Dean shakes him by the biceps, fingers digging in roughly, his strength and concerned gaze strong enough to bring Sam to his knees with a single word. “Focus on me. You need to get out of here.”
When Sam looks back over his shoulder, Jess is gone and he is happy.
He turns back to speak to Dean but Billie stands in his place, implacable, unchanging in black leather. “You know, there are easier ways to avoid my reach, Sam. I didn't take you for one to hide away behind the wings of angels.”
The pomegranate once again catches his gaze where it lays broken open and mangled in the reaper’s palms. The pith and seed are now moving, alive, squirming with maggots and Sam steps away, sick at the decay. Dean catches his elbow once more, green eyes providing a comfort and a constant for Sam.
“Sam, you need to stay with me. It’s time to go.” Dean’s worry is painted with broad strokes on his face, a look and a weight that Sam carried all his life. He looks away to break the intensity of that gaze, and begins to study the bushes and trees around them that now grow profusely, and through their leaves, he sees a familiar face.
The angel sets his rake next to a pile of autumn leaves. “Sam, someone needs to tend the garden. Who better than the man who put the serpent back in his cage?”
Sam shakes his head, no desire to serve heaven any more than he does hell. He runs from the angel and his proposition, brushing past the branches and plants. A doorway appears in the wall ahead, and when Sam throws it open, the light is so bright that he clenches his eyes shut. He tries to pull back inside the Garden but is thrust into the light.
He tries to lift his hand to shield against the brightness of that place but his limbs are frozen.
“Nurse! Hey, get in here. I saw his fingers move.” Fingers grab his hand and squeeze painfully. “Sam, I'm here.”
There is a beeping behind Dean's word, a steady, comforting noise, and he can feel the pinch in his inner elbow of an IV line. A scuffle of feet on the linoleum tells him that the nurses have shown up. His eyelid is pulled up and the fluorescent light is unbearable.
“Keep talking to him,” says a woman's voice. “It helps to orient him and wake him up.”
A second hand wraps around his bicep and Dean's voice floats in from the side, a low whisper that speaks of his relief.
“I thought you died, Sammy. Six minutes you were gone before they brought you back. And then nothing for a day. You were in a coma, and I couldn’t wake you up.”
Sam squeezes back, his fingers coming to life for a moment before exhaustion washes over him. “I was here,” he says, sleepy, already drifting back under. “Just walking through the garden.”