Dean's feelings for Castiel began the moment Anna laid hands on that handprint. Dean's POV of the episode 04x10: "Heaven and Hell."


The tree that had grown in the exact spot where Anna's lost grace had touched down all those years ago stood tall and proud in front of the group. Anna reached out with her hand to touch the trunk, shoulders slumping almost immediately as she looked for the grace.

She turned back to the boys and Ruby. "It doesn't matter," Anna's voice was flat, emotionless. "It's not here. Not anymore- someone took it."

Dean bit his tongue to hold back a vicious swear word that he just knew would make his mother come back from the dead just to wash his mouth out with her foulest tasting dish-soap. He eyed Ruby, still in her latest dark-haired meat-suit, with highly distrustful eyes before he spoke. "We still got the hex bags. I say we head back to the panic room."

The black-eyed-bitch in question snapped back at him, "What, forever?"

"I'm just thinking out loud!"

"Oh, you call that thinking?"

Sam cut in before Dean could act on his thinly-veiled desire to throttle the whore where she stood. "Hey! Hey-hey-hey, stop it!"

"Anna's grace is gone. You understand? She can't angel up," Ruby paused, face contorting into an emotion that Dean couldn't quite read. Her eyes ran over Anna, who was looking off into the distance with an odd expression on her face. "She can't protect us. We can't fight Heaven and Hell. One side maybe, but not both. Not at once."

"Uh, guys?" Anna's quiet voice gave the conversation an abrupt one-eighty. "The angels are talking again."

Sam took a step towards her, voicing Dean's own question. "What are they saying?"

"It's weird, like a recording… a loop," Anna's eyebrows furrowed as she concentrated on deciphering 'Angel Radio'. "It says, 'Dean Winchester gives us Anna by midnight… or-"

Her voice died off, and Dean's heart felt like it was about to beat out of his chest. "Or what?"

Anna turned to face him, her face pale in the outside light as she delivered the final blow. "'… or we hurl him back to damnation.'"

The blood ran out of Dean's face in one fell swoop, leaving him feeling off-kilter and unbalanced as Anna's words echoed inside his head like a sinister mantra. He squeezed his eyes shut to nightmarish images of bloody hooks and hellfire. From by his thighs, his fingers dug into the fabric of his jeans, twisting the digits into rigid fists.

Ican'tIcan'tIcan'tgobackthere… ohgodpleasenotthat… anythingbutthat…

A shaky wisp of breath escaped his lips as he listened to Sam speak as if from underwater, refusing to outwardly acknowledge the memories that were trying to resurface inside of his mind.

"-to kill them?"

Dean opened his eyes and saw that his brief lapse in control had been seen by only Ruby. She eyed him thoughtfully as Anna denied any knowledge of angelic weapons.

"Okay, wait…wait," Dean cleared his throat, working his jaw roughly. "I say we call Bobby. We get him back from Hedonism."

"Dean, what's he gonna tell us that we don't already know?" Sam turned back to Dean, frustrated.

His answer was short and tension filled. "I don't know, but we got to think of something."


Later that night, Anna found Dean leaning over the back of his jet-black Impala, pretending to read a book and just doing everything he could to push Hell from his mind in general. As she approached him with her hands in his pockets, he looked up.

"Hey," Dean shut the book that his brain hadn't registered a single word of, and placed it in front of him on the trunk of the car. "Holding up okay?"

The corners of Anna's mouth twitched in response. "Trying."

"Yeah."

Boy, did he know how that felt.

"A… a little scared, I guess," Anna stood next to Dean, awkwardly shifting her weight from foot to foot as she looked up at the taller hunter. "So, um… Dean… I just wanted to thank you."

Dean frowned, not liking where the ex-angel was going. "For what?"

"Everything… you guys, you didn't have to help me-"

"Hey, let's can the "thanks for trying" speech, you know," Dean cut her off before she could say another word, rolling his eyes and cracking a smile at how familiar her self-depreciation was to him. "Participation trophies suck ass."

Anna bit her lip, looking right into his eyes with a dark look in her eyes. "I don't know. Maybe I don't deserve to be saved."

"Don't talk like that." Her words were hitting a little too close to home for comfort to Dean, and he shifted uncomfortably as he thought about how much his mind was screaming at him to throw himself back into Hell where he belonged.

Anna continued, still making eye contact with Dean. "I disobeyed. Lucifer disobeyed. It's our murder one, and I knew it. Maybe I got to pay."

"Yeah, well, we've all done things we got to pay for," Dean spat out bitterly, breaking eye contact and looking away as he clenched his jaw. He couldn't help but think about how good it felt to finally stand up and be freed from The Rack… as well as the cost of doing just that.

Anna moved forward, sinking down to sit on the trunk of the car as she spoke, "I got to tell you something. You're not gonna like it,"

The expression on her face made her appear as old as the powerful angel she used to be was, and Dean felt his whole body tensing as he turned to look down at the redhead.

"Okay… what?"

"About a week ago, I heard the angels talking… about you, about what you did in Hell," Anna's tone turned apologetic as Dean raised his eyebrows, looking away with a pained expression. "Dean, I know. It wasn't your fault. You should forgive yourself."

Dean swallowed harshly as she reached up to touch his cheek, stuttering. His voice, much to his utter embarrassment, shook like a dog that had been kicked in the ribs. "Anna, I don't w-want to, uh... I don't want to... I can't talk about that."

She scooted closer, dropping her hand with a touch much gentler than he would've thought possible. "I know. But when you can, you have people that want to help. You are not alone. That's all I'm trying to say."

Before he could do much more than blink and try to regain his composure, Anna stood up. Dean watched, warily, as she stood on her tiptoes and stretched to reach him, carefully pressing her warm lips to his cold ones.

All present thoughts of Hell and torture left his mind at the action, effectively relaxing him. Dean's eyebrows rose and his eyes fluttered shut in response to the sensation of emptiness, only opening when Anna pulled away from him. "What was that for?"

"You know," She cracked a small smile and rolled her eyes as his hand cupped her face to bridge the newly formed gap between them. "Out last night on Earth. All that."

Dean gave her a mock-exasperated look. "You're stealing my best line."

The two of them moved closer, almost in sync with their desire to forget about the past and the things that they had done. Their lips met halfway, and before Dean knew it he was walking backwards and groping for the backseat door-handle, yanking it open and pulling Anna inside.

She was the one to eventually break lip-contact, quickly working her way through the buttons of her blouse as Dean took the cue to yank his black t-shirt up and over his head, exposing his bare chest. He moved through the motions, unfeeling and cold inside as his lips came back to claim Anna once more.

It was only after he'd made quick work of her jeans and buried himself within her that something changed. Anna moved to straddle his lap, hands running up and down his chest and slipping behind to his back and shoulders. As her right index finger trailed down, it brushed the handprint made of scar-tissue that marred his left shoulder, causing Dean to tense and let out a breathy moan at the sudden rush of unknown feelings of pleasure that ran through him.

A flash of the brightest blue… the sensation of being held almost painfully tight… warm power enveloping him… a deep, commanding voice thundering above him… an odd rustling sound… black feathers falling around him… a high-pitched wailing ringing through his ears...

Back in reality, unaware, Anna covered that flesh with her own hand, nearly causing the hunter to die a slow death right then and there. As it was, he felt the overwhelming urge to pick up the pace, ending their close contact much sooner than he'd originally wanted to as his body reacted to the images he was experiencing.

He shuddered and stilled on the backseat with Anna mirroring his actions quickly thereafter, his mind worked in overdrive as it attempted to process what it'd seen. In his arms, Anna quickly fell asleep, leaving Dean to lie with his heart pounding and a hole in his chest where something- or somebody- was missing.

... 'Dean!'...

It was a long time before he finally fell asleep, and when he did he began to dream.


Dean was in Hell. Fire surrounded him, searing into his flesh as he shrieked in agony, writhing on the rusty metal hooks that kept him suspended in this fiery torment. No sooner had his scream left his lips did his surroundings change, however, and the eldest Winchester found himself standing back inside of the barn. Sammy and Ruby were nowhere to be found, but as he furrowed his brow and turned around to scan his surroundings, Dean became aware that he was not alone.

"Look at that," Uriel drawled, emerging from the shadows with a smile as white as his skin was dark. Dean immediately tensed when he saw him, remembering the message that Anna had relayed from 'Angel Radio'. "It's so cute when monkeys wear clothes."

"I'm dreaming," Dean snapped out, still shaken from his brief descent into Hell-ridden nightmares- but at the same time, grudgingly grateful that he'd been granted a reprieve from his usual nightly torment. "Aren't I?"

Uriel sighed, clasping his hands and walking aimlessly around the stoic hunter. "It's the only way we could chat, since you're hiding like cowards."

A surge of anger ran through Dean, and he retorted the best he knew how. "Don't normally see you off leash… where's your boss?"

"Castiel? Oh, he, mm…he's not here." Dean felt his lips turn down into a slight frown, which Uriel caught onto with a devious glint in his eyes and a taunting smile on his face. "See, he has this weakness. He likes you. Time's up, boy. We want the girl."

…'He likes you'... boiling hot air rushing past him … a blinding light thundering towards him… that same deep voice, commanding and powerful, roaring, "I've got you"… a handprint searing itself into his flesh with the strength and power of a thousand suns…

Dean shook his head in disorientation, wildly confused and doing his best to hide it, while also getting back to the matter at hand. "W-wouldn't try that if I were you. See, uh, she got her grace back… full blown angel now!"

"That would be a neat trick, considering," Uriel drew out a necklace with his hand, effectively calling the Winchester's bluff. On the necklace's chain dangled a small container that was filled with a bright substance that nearly seared Dean's eyes when he focused on it.

… 'My true visage is too awesome for mortal eyes to comprehend'…

Dean blinked, all former pretenses of bluffing gone from his mind. "Well then, why don't you just give her back her angel juice?"

The angel scowled, getting visibly fed up with the hunter's witty comebacks. "She committed a serious crime."

Dean scoffed at the winged creature's tone of voice, using disbelief to cover up his internal panic of being thrown back into Hell… where he belonged. "What, thinking for herself?"

"This is our business… not yours," Uriel all but growled, tucking the necklace containing Anna's stolen grace away from sight. "She's not even human… not technically."

"Yeah, well… I guess I just like being a pain in the pooper."

"No… there's more," Uriel's annoyed expression turned thoughtful, and then he raised his eyebrows as he barked out a laugh." You cut yourself a slice of… angel food cake! Didn't you? Hmm? You did."

Embarrassed but unwilling to show it, Dean crossed his arms. "What do you care? You're junkless down there, right? Like a Ken doll?"

"Ooh," Uriel made a noise of false discomfort, pressing a perfectly manicured hand to where his vessel's heart was. "Well, it's your last chance… give us the girl, or-"

"Or what?" Dean's voice shook ever-so-slightly as he choked down a memory of Alastair stripping the flesh from his right calf using only his fingernails. "What, you're gonna toss me back in the hole? You're bluffing!"

"Try me," The hunter shrank back a little as the angel's cold, emotionless retort washed over him, leaving him dead and empty inside. "This is a whole lot bigger than the plans we got for you, Dean. You can be replaced."

With much more strength, bravery, and conviction than he actually felt, Dean went ahead and bit the bullet, bracing his body for what was to follow. "What the hell… go ahead and do it."

"You're just crazy enough to go," Uriel drawled, looking as amused as Dean felt ill. "Aren't you?"

"What can I say? I don't break easy." Dean felt shame rush through his entire body as he looked down, unable to look Uriel in the face at how untruthful that statement truly was.

"Oh, yes... you do," The angelic being chuckled darkly, stepping forward. "You just got to know where to apply the right pressure. How's your brother, by the way? You know… Samuel?"


The next morning, Dean and Anna dressed in silence. For Anna, it was comfortable and unknowing, but to Dean it was simply a reminder of his shame. He found that he couldn't bring himself to tell her what he and Sam had done to her that night while she slept, choosing to follow her to where Sam was waiting inside the barn with his lips sealed.

Dean walked over to Sam, pressing his hands into his pockets to give his fingers something to do other than clench and bruise his palms. "Ready to kick some angelic asshole?"

"I don't know, man," Sam released a puff of air, eyebrows scrunched together. Anna approached the two brothers, standing in front of them. "Where's Ruby?"

Dean threw his hands up in the air before going back into his pocket and pulling out his flask, filled to the brim with 'Hunter's Helper'. He took a long pull from it. "Hey, she's your Hell buddy."

If Ruby didn't make good on her promise to deliver Alastair to the angels, he would stab that bitch the next time he saw her.

"Little early for that, isn't it?" Anna furrowed her brow at the alcohol, angling her head to peer at Dean's face.

He guiltily shifted so that his face was partially hidden from her questioning gaze. "It's two a.m. somewhere."

"You okay?"

Oh you know, Sam and I just sold you out to the angels who want to kill you, how are you?

"Yeah, of course," Dean's voice cracked on the last syllable, and he self-consciously cleared his throat when both Sam and Anna turned to stare at him.

He was saved from having to defend himself when the double doors to the barn suddenly burst open in a blast of ice-cold wind. Instinctively, the trio raised their arms to shield their faces from the harsh gust. With a sick sense of Deja-Vu, Dean watched as Uriel entered the establishment, only this time he was not alone.

"Hello, Anna- it's good to see you." Castiel's deep and rumbling voice washed over Dean, The scar on his shoulder throbbed almost unnoticeably as he spoke, making the hunter jump slightly, drawing the Seraphim's attention to him.

... 'I've rescued the Righteous Man'…

Eyes of the brightest blue bored into dull hazel as Sam stepped forward to flank Dean.

"How? How did you find us?" There was a pause, and then Sam seemed to register the long-suffering and guilty look on Dean's face as the older brother stared at Castiel. "Dean?"

Dean turned slowly to face Anna, his eyes beseeching her to forgive him and understand why he had done what he'd done. "I'm so sorry."

"Why?" Sam cried in answer, staring in disbelief at Dean, who briefly closed his eyes in pain.

Anna's response was soft-spoken and filled with sympathy as Dean stared at her. "Because they gave him a choice. They either kill me…or kill you. I know how their minds work."

Dean opened his eyes and saw nothing but forgiveness in Anna's. He didn't move as she approached him, cupping his cheek in her hand as she stood on tip-toes to press her lips to his. At the touch, discomfort pooled in his belly, and once they'd broken apart he turned to see Castiel watching him with an intense, unreadable expression on his face.

… 'Dean Winchester is saved'…

Dean missed the first half of what Anna said in the memory that exploded in his mind. "- I forgive you. Okay. No more tricks. No more running. I'm ready."

Castiel finally tore his gaze from Dean's, looking at his fallen sister instead. Dean wondered why that action could make him feel so empty inside. "I'm sorry."

"No. You're not. Not really. You don't know the feeling." Anna's reply was borderline scathing.

"Still, we have a history. It's just-"

Anna cut him off abruptly. "Orders are orders. I know. Just make it quick."

Suddenly, a new voice joined the conversation, high-pitched and mocking, "Don't you touch a hair on that poor girl's head."

Dean spun around so quickly he almost became dizzy. He knew that the demon was coming, but somehow he just wasn't prepared to see him in the flesh again.

Standing in the doorway and roughly supporting a disheveled Ruby- who was bleeding from the torso- and flanked by a two, unnamed demons, was none other than the very creature who was the reason for all of Dean's night-terrors and suffering. He was the one who had corrupted him and convinced him to become the thing he hunted. The essence of evil.

"Alastair," Paling so quickly that he actually thought he would pass out, Dean stepped to the side, whispering the demon's name so quietly that it came out almost silent. Sam pulled Anna with him, out of the line of fire.

"How dare you come in this room?" Uriel bared his teeth savagely at the demon, voice low and dangerous. "You… pussing… sore!"

Alastair tutted, tossing a groaning Ruby to the floor at the feet of his companion. "Name-calling. That hurt my feelings, you sanctimonious, fanatical prick!"

"Turn around and walk away now," Castiel warned the demon, stepping forward protectively.

"Sure. Just give us the girl," the demon chuckled as he slowly approached the angels, his backups warily following him. "We'll make sure she gets punished good and proper."

Castiel either didn't get or chose to ignore the sexual innuendo that dripped off of Alastair's greedy lips. "You know who we are and what we will do. I won't say it again. Leave now... or we lay you to waste."

"Think I'll take my chances."

Suddenly, one of Alastair's companions leapt forward, intending to kill. Uriel quickly grabbed it, shoving it into a wooden pillar with enough force to break it. The other came up behind him, retaliation in mind, and the angel shoved it away before using his grace to destroy the first demon.

In the center of the room, Castiel swung at Alastair, his punch not getting any reaction. Changing tactics suddenly, he tried to exorcise Alastair in the same manner as Uriel, but his powers had no effect on the powerful being.

Alastair chuckled and shoved Castiel's hand off of his forehead before cold-cocking him and sending the angel in a trenchcoat spinning to the ground. "Sorry, kiddo. Why don't you go run to daddy?"

Bending down, the demon gripped Castiel by the tie and began to chant an exorcism. "Potestas inferna, me confirma!"

… 'I'm the one who gripped you tight and raised you from Perdition'…

Panic filled Dean's body, and he looked around wildly for a weapon. Two feet to his right lay an old, rusted crowbar, and he dove for it in a last-ditch effort as Alastair continued his exorcism.

"Potestas inferna, me confirma. Potestas inferna, me confirm- ah!"

Dean hit Alastair with as much force as he could muster, the crowbar sending the demon stumbling backwards a good two feet. A groaning Castiel was dropped back down to the floor, smacking his head on the floorboards with a sickening crunch!

"Dean, Dean, Dean... I am so disappointed," Alastair swayed, before regaining his balance and turning his murderous gaze onto the oldest Winchester. "You had such promise!"

Sam shot Dean a confused look, and Dean pointedly ignored his younger brother.

Alastair's hands shot out without warning, beginning to choke the two brothers. Both fell painfully to their knees, fingers scrabbling at their necks. Anna crept backwards, trying to get as far away from the demon as possible. Dean watched her, eyes watering in pain.

Behind Alastair, Uriel was destroying the second demon companion, and Anna took advantage of his distraction by rushing forward and yanking the necklace containing her grace from his neck before he could react.

"No!" Uriel howled, watching as Anna threw the pendant on the ground.

As it shattered, her stolen grace rose up in a swirling cloud, rushing into her open mouth with inhuman force. Anna's eyes went wide and her back arched as her body took in the angelic power she had once possessed.

Dean watched in awe as she collapsed backwards, falling onto her shins while she tried to process what she'd just taken in. Anna's arms went rigid, flailing around as she arched up and off of the ground, moaning. A bright light began to shine in her stomach, becoming brighter and brighter as her body convulsed.

"Shut your eyes!" He could see Castiel and Uriel watching Anna's transformation, one of them indifferent while the other was furious. "Shut your eyes!"

Dean threw his face into the crook of his arm, and saw Sammy do the same just after he began to move. The light was getting painfully bright, and spots danced before his vision as Alastair's choking hold disappeared.

"Shut your eyes!" Anna's words cut off into a scream as white light, as pure as a supernova, erupted through the room. It was so brilliant that Dean could see it from behind his arms, and he knew that if he hadn't covered his eyes he would have gone totally blind from it.

When the light disappeared, Anna was gone, and so was Alastair. All that was left behind was Ruby's demon knife, which Dean quickly picked up.

Castiel was standing before Dean when he straightened. Something about the angel made him blush slightly, and the hunter looked down slightly. "Well, what are you guys waiting for? Go get Anna. Unless, of course, you're scared."

The second half of his statement had been directly made towards Uriel, who all but hissed, moving to attack Dean. The only thing that stopped him was Castiel's restraining arm.

"This isn't over."

Dean just couldn't help himself. "Oh, it looks over to me, junkless."

The angel with the bright blue eyes and a trenchcoat shot Dean an exasperated look before he and his partner vanished in a rush of flapping wings. Now that the danger was gone and the crisis averted, Sam turned his attention towards the wounded Ruby, who had slowly made her way over to the two brothers.

"You okay?"

She grimaced in pain. "Not so much."

"What took you so long to get here?" Dean growled, thinking about how close Ruby had been to delivering the demon to them too late for the angels to play a part in this.

The soulless bitch had the nerve to roll her eyes at him, ruffling his feathers even more with her blatant sass. "Sorry I'm late with the demon delivery. I was only being tortured!"

"I got to hand it to you, Sammy," Dean chose to ignore Ruby rather than bury her own demon knife in her back. It wouldn't do them much good to piss Sam off at this point in time. "Bringing them all together all at once - angels and demons. It was a damn good plan."

Sam chuckled. "Yeah, well, when you got Godzilla and Mothra on your ass, best to get out of their way and let them fight."

"Yeah, now you're just bragging."

There was a brief pause before Sam spoke again. "So, I guess she's some big-time angel now, huh? She must be happy... Wherever she is."

Dean scoffed, taking another swig from his flask that had, thankfully, survived the clash of angels and demons. "I doubt it."


Later that day, it was still bothering Dean that Sam had heard Alastair talking about his apparent 'potential' down in the pit. The demon had said enough to pique Sam's curiosity, but out of respect for his older brother he was keeping his mouth shut as of right now. Dean could all but feel the questions that Sam was screaming at him using his mind, however.

Dean leaned on the side of the Impala as he nursed a beer, feeling Sam's fleeting gaze on the back of his neck from his seat on the hood of the car. He cleared his throat in an attempt to break the tense atmosphere. "I can't believe we made it out of there."

"Again," Sam took an audible swig of his beer, prompting Dean to reach his own bottle behind him and clink them together.

It was quite some time before he couldn't take it any longer. "I know you heard him."

"Who?"

Dean bit his lip, trying to will himself the strength to get through this long-coming conversation. "Alastair. What he said... about how I had promise."

"I heard him." Sam said slowly, seeming to not want to press his older brother to spill the details about it.

Swallowing roughly, Dean spoke softly, "You're not curious?"

"Dean, I'm damn curious," Sam amended his response, tone apologetic. Dean rolled his shoulders back in an attempt to release some of the tension building up inside his war-ravaged body. "But you're not talking about Hell, and I'm not pushing."

Silence.

"It wasn't four months, you know."

His words had effectively confused his younger brother. "What?"

"It was four months up here, but down there... I don't know," Dean raised his head to the sky, feeling the sun's rays scorch the bare skin of his face. He closed his eyes, drawing strength from it. "Time's different. It was more like 40 years."

Behind him, he could hear Sam let out a shaky little puff of a gasp, horror dripping from his words. "Oh my God…"

"They, uh... they sliced and carved and tore at me in ways that you... until there was nothing left," Dean flinched involuntarily as a bird flew overhead, the flapping of its wings reminding him of whips and chains hitting his flesh.

But, also-

Black wings surrounding him protectively… siphoning away hellfire…

"… And then, suddenly... I would be whole again... like magic... just so they could start in all over."

Dean's voice wavered as tears pooled in the corners of his eyes, eyes that were not there in the present. Eyes that were not watching a squirrel climb an overpass, but instead watching red-hot blades sink into the flesh of his arm again and again.

"… And Alastair... at the end of every day... every one... he would come over. And he would make me an offer. To take me off the rack... if I put souls on... if I started the torturing. And every day, I told him to stick it where the sun shines."

Lips pursed, Dean took in a shaky breath of air, trying to give himself the strength to continue and finish his story. He knew that Sam would never look at him the same after his next sentence, never see him but anything but the monster he truly was.

"… For 30 years, I told him."

Sam's small gasp of air was answer enough. Unable to handle his only brother despising his existence, Dean continued on desperately, trying to blink the Hellish images from his mind.

"…But then I couldn't do it anymore, Sammy. I couldn't. And I got off that rack. God help me, I got right off it, and I started ripping them apart, I lost count of how many souls..."

Dean couldn't hold it back anymore, and his voice broke, eyes shutting against the tears that escaped to twist down his pale cheeks. The only sounds around them were his quiet sobs and gasps of air. "T-the things… that I did to them…"

… 'Please no, ohmygod I'm innocent!'… 'Don't hurt me!'… 'Help!'…

Sam's quiet voice finally spoke, breaking through the cries of those Dean had tortured. "Dean... Dean, look, you held out for 30 years. That's longer than anyone would have."

Dean knew that wasn't true, and he started to cry with earnest, thinking of their father and how much longer of a time that he spent in that Hellhole, never giving in. His shoulders shook with the force of his sobs, and Sam put a tentative hand on his back in an attempt to steady him.

"How I feel... This... inside me... I wish I couldn't feel anything, Sammy. I wish I couldn't feel a damn thing."


Later that night, Dean crashed in his motel bed pretty much as soon as they had checked in and gotten their room. Still wearing the clothes that he'd been wearing for the past two days, he laid on his side, mouth open slightly in sleep. His arms were crossed tightly over his torso even in his deep slumber, and his brow was furrowed just ever-so-slightly.

On the other side of the room, Sam kept shooting his brother furtive, fleeting glances from behind his laptop. He was supposed to be looking for another possible hunt, but he couldn't shake what he had learned today from his mind. His brother had been in Hell for over four decades, and he hadn't done anything about it. Sure, he'd tried, but had he tried hard enough?

Sam nearly jumped a mile into the air when Dean suddenly rolled over onto his back, arms falling to rest on the bed instead of his chest. The youngest Winchester was close enough that he could see Dean's mouth moving, muttering things under his breath that he could just barely make out.

"… ohgodpleasenotthat… anythingbutthat…"

Frowning, Sam shut his laptop and carefully maneuvered his way over to the lonely armchair that just-so-happened to be across from Dean's bed. From there, he could see how his brother's face tensed and scrunched up in intervals, fingers clenching the bedsheets in tangent.

It didn't take a genius to realize that Dean was having a nightmare. Of what, Sam could only imagine. Knowing that the last time he had tried to wake his brother up from a nightmare had ended with him getting a knife in his ribs, Sam was helpless to watch him suffer from the chair he now sat in.

The hunter's back arched off of the bed as he jerked his head back and forth, almost hyperventilating from the force of his desperate gasps for breath. To Sam's despair, Dean began to violently thrash around, cries of fear, pain, and desperation clawing from his throat. "No, h-help- help me! Oh God, don't hurt me! Argh, Cas! Please, Castiel- Castiel!"

The angel in question suddenly appeared in between the two brothers, and Sam quickly shut his eyes, pretending to be asleep. Heart pounding, he carefully opened his eyelids a hair to see that Castiel had approached Dean and was kneeling on the floor beside his bed.

The angel in a trenchcoat reached his hand out, and with two fingers he gentle touched the side of Dean's head. The effect was instantaneous, and Sam's brother's face became peaceful and pain-free all at once, the lines disappearing from his skin.

Castiel kept his fingers on Dean's temple, but with his free hand he brushed the hair off of the sleeping man's sweaty forehead. The action was so gentle, so sweet, and so intimate that Sam almost felt the urge to look away. The look on the angel's face was open and filled with devotion, devotion obviously directed towards Dean Winchester.

Sam watched the two of them for a long time, and had almost fallen asleep himself when he heard the angel speak softly into the dark motel room.

"You are safe, Dean Winchester. I raised you from Perdition myself, and you are safe."