Sam stared at the orb, absently reaching out to touch it and only managing to stop when his fingers were about an inch away. "How are we going to get him out of there, Dean? Or are we supposed to bring the orb out with us?"
Dean shook his head almost before Sam finished speaking. "There's no way we're taking that orb with us. I think that thing is actually part of hell. We need to get Dad out and into me, and boy did that sound really weird, even for us."
Sam chuckled tiredly. "Yeah, it kinda does. So, did Lindsey tell you how to do this part?"
"Nope." Dean shrugged. "Guess I'll wing it."
He slowly extended his hand, his determination to save his father warring against his fear of touching the orb and actually feeling John's personal hell. After a long moment he finally clenched his jaw and grabbed the orb, falling to his knees as a wave of sheer agony slammed into him.
Dean tried to push past the overwhelming hopelessness and pain, tried to find that spark that still said 'Dad' no matter what it had been put through. He almost couldn't find it, was within a breath of letting go of the orb and telling Sam that maybe they'd have to take the orb with them after all. Then something began to slowly reach back towards him, as if it was afraid that if it touched him Dean would disappear.
Dean pushed towards the presence carefully, doing his best to radiate calmness and safety. Then, once the presence that Dean knew instinctively was John was close enough, Dean gently tugged at it, pulling John's soul out of the orb and into his own body.
It was only after John's soul was safely out of the orb that Dean felt Sam briskly shaking his shoulder. "Dean! Talk to me, Dean."
"Sam? What's wrong?" Dean winced as the sound of his own voice sent shards of agony through his head and closed his eyes. He felt off-balance, almost like his head was too heavy and full.
"Dean, we've got to get out of here. I think some sort of alarm just went off, and I don't know about you but I don't want to run into that demon again." Sam paused, reaching out to steady Dean as he swayed. "Did you manage to get Dad?"
Dean nodded before he had a chance to think better of it and clenched his eyes as a wave of dizziness and nausea swept through him. "Yeah, Sam. I got him. Let's go."
Sam frowned as he helped Dean push himself to his feet, then had to brace him when he began to sway. "Are you sure you can walk?"
"Do I have a choice?" When Sam didn't say anything, Dean nodded carefully. "Then let's go. You may have to help me, though."
Sam didn't bother to answer, just pulled one of Dean's arms over his shoulder and led him as quickly as they could manage back to where the portal had opened. There was only one close call when they had to duck back behind one of the nearby shelves and wait while the demon they had seen earlier stalked past, heading back the way they'd come.
After that they tried to move faster, Dean doing his best to ignore both the pain in his head and the increasing dizziness. The moment they made it back Sam got a firmer grip on Dean and closed his eyes.
In the part of his brain that wasn't focused on ignoring the pain Dean could tell what Sam was doing, almost feel him tugging on the link that connected them to Lindsey. Then, just as he heard pounding footsteps heading in their direction the portal opened again and Sam pushed him through before jumping through himself.
Dean landed flat on his face, biting back a pained yelp when Sam landed squarely on his back. He groaned in relief when Lindsey pulled Sam off, and carefully rolled over onto his back so that he could rest his aching head against the floor.
"Dean, are you okay?"
Dean just closed his eyes, sighing when the lack of light eased his headache a bit. "Feels like my head's about to explode, and if I move I may just lose my lunch all over Lindsey's carpet. Other than that, I'm just peachy."
"Human body's not meant to hold more than one soul at a time." Lindsey knelt down next to Dean, one hand going to his forehead to check for a fever. "Your daddy stayed in there for too long and you'd get seriously sick, eventually die. Either that, or one of you would kick the other out of your body."
Dean grimaced. "So how do we get Dad out of my head anyway?"
Lindsey grinned. "That's actually one of the easiest bits of this whole enterprise. I cut your hand, place your hand on the orb, say a few words and your daddy's soul should slide right into the orb."
"That almost sounds too easy."
Lindsey chuckled. "Boy, something about this oughta be easy. It's not like any of the rest of this is gonna be."
Dean just stayed lying on the floor while Lindsey and Sam got whatever it was that they needed together. He would occasionally poke at the John-presence in his mind, but other than a lingering feeling of John-ness there wasn't much in the way of recognition there. It was as if John's soul still had just enough self-awareness to know who he was, but not much else.
He pulled his attention back to his surroundings when he felt Sam grab his right hand. He opened his eyes a fraction, closing them again when he saw the knife in Sam's free hand. There was a quick flash of pain when Sam cut his hand, then a wave of cooling energy when his hand was placed on the orb.
Dean felt his father's soul slip quietly into the orb, leaving his head feeling oddly empty and the pain slowly fading. When he managed to blink his eyes open again and turned to look at the orb, his mouth dropped open. The formerly plain silver orb was now glowing a pale blue, looking like a much more peaceful version of the orbs that had been on the shelves in hell.
"You're sure he's okay in there?"
Lindsey nodded, reaching down to carefully pick up the now-glowing orb. "He's as fine as he's gonna be right now. He's got a lot of healing to do, but if he's anywhere near as stubborn as the two of you are, eventually he'll heal."
Dean groaned as he pushed himself up off the floor, stretching to get the kinks out of his back. "Now what do we do?"
"Now you boys rest up, get your strength back, and then we can work on the ritual to get your daddy a body again." Lindsey sat the orb gently on the table where it wouldn't get knocked off. "Then we start him healing."