He was pinned, and the roof was going to totally collapse any minute now. When the shifter they were hunting gave them a nasty surprise in the final moments of his life—an explosion that sent part of the building crashing down on them—Sam had debris suddenly piled on him, including a heavy old weight-bearing beam, while Dean had miraculously been knocked out of the way. Really, it was a miracle that none of his bones seemed to be broken, Sam mused. And all things considered, it wasn't a terrible way to go. He wasn't in much pain, and death should be instantaneous when the last beam finished splintering and the rest of the building fell on him. He would be buried in the dust of this old place. Uriel, he was sure, would be pleased.
"Sammy, come on, a little help here!" That was Dean, yelling at him, while frantically trying to remove the debris around him. Sam knew there was no way he could do it in time, and the massive beam not even Dean would be able to lift. He briefly toyed with the idea of attempting to use his powers to move the wreckage, but shut down that thought immediately. He had never consciously tried telekinesis, and doubted he could lift such a weigh with an untried ability. And he did not want his last act to be one that could be construed as disobedience to God. Even if that God had apparently rejected him. But he needed to get Dean to leave the building before his brother died trying to save him. That simply could not happen. Not again.
"Dean, you have to leave!" Sam shouted over the groaning building. "Go! You know there's nothing more you can do here. Please, Dean, don't make me responsible for your death again!"
Dean paused just long enough from his labor to glare at him. "You won't be, because we are both getting out of here!"
In his desperation, Sam slipped into prayer. It was an old, deeply ingrained habit, and even if God didn't think much of him, maybe he would listen to a prayer about Dean. God did send an angel to pluck him from hell, after all. Please, God, get Dean out of here! Don't let him die trying to save me. Do what you want with me, but spare my brother!
As Dean pulled another board from the pile and turned to toss it aside, Sam saw a familiar figure standing behind Dean. He couldn't help gasping in shock—it was Castiel. The angel was staring straight at Sam, and he felt a thrill of wonder, and fear. This was looking like a very direct answer to his prayer.
Dean still had not noticed the angel, being occupied fully with freeing his brother. Castiel also had made no movement, or effort to speak, so Sam called to him. "Castiel…please, get Dean out! He won't leave me, even though we both know it's hopeless."
Dean turned sharply to face the angel. "Cas, help me get Sam outta here. Do your funky angel thing and let's go!"
Castiel looked from brother to brother before speaking. "I have orders to get you to safety, Dean."
Sam sighed with sudden relief, but Dean was having none of it, his face hardened in anger. "Orders be damned, get my brother out of there, now, before I hack off those wings of yours!"
"I'm sorry, Dean," said Castiel, and reached out to lay a hand on his arm. And, suddenly, there was emptiness where Dean and the angel had just stood. Sam relaxed, and closed his eyes. Tears prickled behind his lids as the last moments of his life sped by. He began another prayer. Thanks, God, for saving Dean. Keep him safe. If you are really merciful, please have mercy on my soul now.
"Sam." A voice spoke his name, close to his ear. He started and his eyes flew open to see Castiel looking at him.
"I'll be dead soon…dust, Castiel. No more extra-curricular activities for the boy with the demon blood." Sam said it dully, without emotion, then looked up with pleading on his face. "Will you watch out for Dean?"
"Yes, Sam. And so will you." Before Sam could ask what he meant, Castiel gently laid a hand on his head, and the groaning building vanished around them. Sam was lying in a field, with the angel peering down at him. "God did with you what he wanted, Sam—he saved you. Don't forget that, as you travel the road to your destiny." Sam blinked in shocked surprise, and Castiel was gone. As he sat up, he heard a shout, and saw Dean running toward him from where the Impala was parked, not far away.
Sam could not quite believe this turn of events, but a tear tracked through the dust on his face as he offered a heartfelt Thanks to God. Maybe, just maybe, he was more than simply Sam Winchester, the boy with the profane blood after all.