"What do you mean, he's waiting on you?" Castiel saw realization dawning on Dean's haggard face. "Wait, you're not going with him? Cas, what did you do?"
"He made a deal, Dean." Sam's voice was so low that the angel almost didn't hear him.
"What?" Dean rounded on Bobby as he came through the door. "You let him do this?"
Bobby held up his hands to ward off Dean. "Whoa, there, Dean. Hang on a minute."
"Do not blame Bobby." Castiel moved between Bobby and Dean. "He was headed to the crossroads. I stopped him."
"Oh, God, Bobby." Dean ran both his hands through his hair. He looked close to panic. "Why would you guys do this? Haven't we learned anything while doing this freaking job? These deals don't end well for anybody!"
"You should have let me die." Sam struggled to rise from the sofa.
"Sit down, Sam," ordered Dean. "And shut up."
"No, Dean." Sam hobbled toward Castiel. He gripped the angel by the arms and searched his eyes. Castiel had no trouble seeing that Sam's eyes were dark and troubled but not black. "Why didn't you just let me die?"
Castiel lowered his gaze. He couldn't stand to see the hurt in Sam's face.
"He didn't let you die because I told him I wouldn't help the angels if you did." Dean pried his brother's fingers from Castiel's arms. "I can't do this without you, Sammy."
"Dean, I'm only going to slow you down. You should have let me die." Sam turned away from his brother. "I don't even know what I am anymore."
Castiel motioned for Dean and Bobby to stand close to Sam. Castiel touched his fingers to the back of Sam's head and Sam fell in a heap. Bobby and Dean settled him on the couch.
"You're Dean Winchester's brother," Castiel whispered into Sam's ear.
"Cas, listen, you can't go with him." Dean was running out of arguments. "It's not going to end well."
Castiel managed a small smile. "I'll be okay, Dean. After all, I'm only going home."
"They don't usually take you forcibly if it's a nice warm homecoming." Dean didn't know what they would do without the angel on their side.
"Look, as soon as I'm gone, you guys need to put up all the defensives again. I don't know what's going to happen but don't make it easy for them to stroll in here."
Dean managed a grin. "We never make it easy for anybody."
Castiel nodded. "Yes, that much I do know."
Castiel headed for the door. He had told them not to follow him outside.
The angel turned to look at Dean.
"Thanks." What else could he say? Thanks wasn't enough to say how he felt about Castiel saving Sammy but nothing else seemed to suffice.
Castiel nodded. "I'll be seeing you soon, Dean."
Dean stretched lazily on the river bank, his bare feet dangling over the edge, skimming the top of the water. The sun was making him sleepy and he knew he should probably get going.
Just a few more minutes.
He glanced to his left and saw Sammy stretched out beside him.
"Hey, Sammy. What are you doing here?"
"No idea," replied Sam in a drowsy voice. "It's nice, isn't it?"
The sun was suddenly blocked from view and Dean sat straight up, every muscle on alert.
"Relax, Dean." Castiel hunkered down next to the boys.
"Damn it, Cas." Dean's gaze swept toward the river. "This is just a dream, isn't it?"
"It's the only way I can communicate with you now and I have to be careful about that." Castiel looked over his shoulder and Dean half expected Zachariah to come barging through the bushes.
"At least it's a good dream," said Sam as he sat up.
"How are you, Sam?"
Sam looked away. Even in dreamland he couldn't hide the tremors in his body.
"He's having a rough time," said Dean. "We're not sure what to do. What we did last time didn't work so Bobby's been looking up some things we can try that work with normal addictions."
"I don't think you will like my suggestion," said Castiel. "But I think you will have to wean him slowly. I don't think he can quit cold turkey."
"I don't want to drink it," said Sam softly.
"We know that." Dean put his hand on his brother's arm. He had to be so careful these days. He couldn't push Sam away from him again.
Castiel nodded and Dean realized the angel could hear his thoughts.
"I can't stay long. I just wanted to tell you not to come looking for me."
"To hell with that."
Castiel grinned wryly.
"Okay, poor choice of words. But we're working on a way to bust you out. After Sammy's okay, we're coming for you." Dean squeezed his brother's arm and Sam finally turned to look at them again.
"Dean, I'm where I need to be. Anna's with me and we're working from the inside. There are things going on that I don't even think my Father knows about. I don't want you coming to get me." Castiel implored him to listen with his steel blue gaze.
"But we can help….."
"Dean, right now you need to concentrate on your brother. After he's okay, we'll see what happens. Don't forget that Lucifer is out there somewhere. You both need to be strong in order to face him."
Dean felt Sam shudder at the mention of Lucifer. "Okay, you're right, Cas."
Sam gave him a wary look and Dean gave his brother a small wink.
"I have to go now but I'll be in touch when I can." Castiel touched both brothers on the forehead. "Enjoy the dream just a little longer, boys."
"Dean, wake up!" Sam was punching him in the arm.
Dean opened his bleary eyes and peered up at his younger brother. "I'm up."
The dark smudges under Sam's eyes didn't go unnoticed by Dean. Sam hadn't slept much since being healed by that smarmy Zachariah.
"Did we just have the same dream?" asked Sam. It was the most animation Dean had seen from Sam in days.
"I don't know. Were you dreaming about Brad Pitt again?"
Sam smiled. "You both said it."
"What?" Dean tried to remember the dream but it was fading.
"You and Cas both said after I was okay we'd see what happens."
"I don't think Cas would have came to us in a dream and said I was going to be okay, if I wasn't, would he?"
Dean didn't want to point out that the main reason for the dream was because Castiel didn't want them to come looking for him. Dean hadn't seen this much hope in Sam's face in years. He knew the upcoming weeks for Sam weren't going to be easy but he was determined they could beat this addiction. Until now, Dean hadn't been so sure that Sammy knew he could beat it.
"Well, let's go see what Bobby's found out." Dean pulled back the covers, snagging his discarded jeans off the floor with his foot. As he pulled them on, he glanced at Sam.
"What?" asked Sam as he pulled on a t-shirt.
"I was just thinking that we've got work to do."
"Yeah, I know."
"But you can beat this Sammy. I know you can."
"That's not the work I was thinking about."
"Well, what's on your mind there, geek boy?"
"I was just wondering how hard it was going to be to bust an angel out of heaven."