They would end their days at dawn, watching the sun rise int he cold autumn winds; he would breathe softly, afraid to disrupt the sacred silence of the vigil that welcomed them into sleep, and which would bring them into the world once more at dusk, when the shadows pressed firm over the land.
He dreamed often of the sunlight that he had forsaken in this adventure: bright and warm and soothing, golden over the grasses, shimmering in the steam coming off the ponds and streams - until the red oceans beyond the horizon swarmed over the sky and washed the world away; stranding him on a sandy strip with red all around him, till the sea rose again and filled his eyes and mouth, tasting of blood. Coppery and sweet. Until a few months went by, giving him time to get used to it all, he would wake with a start and a gasp; and once that time passed, he viewed the ocean with ambivalence, and turned his gaze to that which shifted in the shade.
Now that Delilah had visited her friends with the good news, parlors and porches of Redding were abuzz with rumors. Houseguests came by for almost a week, with their 'welcome backs' and shows of goodwill. This all made Delilah very happy, and by extension Sam smiled. He was glad to see her glad.
She was happy, but she was still his mother. Delilah hadn't missed the remnants of shadows under his eyes on the first night, or the faint smell of industrial lye soap in his hair. She knew, though, that she shouldn't press him on the matter, so she decided to let it go for now. He was, at least, a legal adult; he could tell her when he was ready.
An adult in mind and body now, Sam was - anyone could see it from the way he moved. That easy grace, the casual shift as he walked that wasted no energy. It belied an intimate understanding of the abilities and limitations of his own body - confidence. Power. When guests came to visit, their eyes would follow his every move; when Delilah wasn't looking, the ladies' eyes would stare him down like voyeurs. Little did Delilah know, the men were eyeing him too.
More importantly, the Commissioner had not received any word on Sam Reese's supposed part in the investigation from the FBI. He'd gotten comfortable with the assumption that the info would have to be declassified before he'd hear back about Sam. The problematic thing was, the FBI had also said nothing about the disappearance of Detective John Cotter.
Cotter - one of the most loyal officers on the force, and certainly the most decorated. He was a family friend to the Reeses, father figure for Sam, and he cared for the boy immensely. Sam's disappearance and the fruitless search for his whereabouts had grown into a desperate obsession for the detective, and by mid-February, he'd gone out looking for the boy himself, but never returned. In lieu of severance, which seemed to be the local policy for officers that went missing, the Commissioner had continued to pay Cotter's wife his checks, so she (and Cotter's retired parents) could manage his affairs; but it worried him to know that Sam had returned without even knowing Cotter was looking for him.
He could only wait, and hope.