Summary: The angels are pushing Sam out. Lucifer is pulling Sam in. Dean just wants to hold onto his brother before it's too late. Set post Lucifer Rising…might as well call it AU since that will happen with the season premier.

A/N: This is Pay It Forward fic for the one, the only, Faye Dartmouth. I even personalized it for you, dear!

Beta: The very talented Gidgetgal9 – no story is complete without her.

Chapter One

Dean knew they had to get out, now, but Sam wasn't budging.

It had been bad enough busting into the sanctuary to find Sam on the ground and Ruby putting her paws all over him. Now the kid was standing there, weaving on his feet, dazed. He should have been running for his life.

Apparently Lucifer was about to make his long awaited debut and Dean needed to get Sam out of here. Now.

Brilliant white light bathed the chamber and Dean could feel the electricity building in the air. Dean's fingers were twisted in the soft cotton material of Sam's shirt and his little brother's did likewise in Dean's top. Only Dean was trying to haul Sam out of the room and Sam's feet were planted like he was intent on putting down roots.

Sam's voice, eerily flat, equally subdued, stated the obvious. "He's coming."

Enough of this shit. When one last tug heralded nothing from his brother except a blank look, Dean pried his brother's fingers away from his shirt. Sam's knees were locked as he fought to keep his balance during the increasing temblors shaking the floor and Dean opted to apply some playground style horseplay to control the situation. Dean stepped behind Sam, kicking his own leg against the back of Sam's so that those long legs buckled.

Before Sam could recover his balance, Dean whipped his left arm around his brother's neck. Sam's trachea was now nestled in the crook of his elbow. Dean really didn't want to do this to his own flesh and blood but he saw no other choice. He forced his left hand to grasp his own right biceps while he placed his right hand behind Sam's head. The rumbling of the room spurring him on, Dean snapped his elbows together with more force than was necessary, applying lateral pressure to Sam's neck on both sides.

After three seconds, Sam's legs completely folded, his head tipping forward over Dean's arm. The arteries feeding blood to his brother's brain had temporarily been stymied, temporarily being the key. Dean was banking on Sam's cooperation once he got his brother away from Lucifer.

Twisting Sam's pliant body around, Dean readied himself for the next maneuver. The only way he could manage to cart around 200 plus pounds of weight was in a fireman's carry. He grabbed Sam's right wrist, pulling the lax arm across Dean's shoulder. Dean then reached between Sam's legs, grasping the back of Sam's right thigh. Rising to his full height, Sam's body draped over his shoulders, left arm and leg left to flop haphazardly against his back which they did as Dean took off in a trot.

By all rights Sam would be waking up from his little snooze and Dean could only hope that his brother worked with him instead of against him. Although the way Sam had held Ruby while Dean had sunk the knife into her gut and turned it with satisfaction told him that perhaps the brothers were finally on the same page.

As Dean forced his legs into a parody of a run, staggering down the narrow hallway, he remembered the absolute fury he'd experienced at having been locked out of the room by Ruby. That fury had only been tempered by his fear of what was happening to his brother. And when he'd finally broken down the door to find Sam sprawled on the floor, Ruby's hands fluttering over him, he'd seen red. In that moment he hadn't cared if Sam never spoke to him again as he made it his single mission to snuff out the blight that was Ruby. When Sam had actively helped Dean against the demon bitch, he'd felt hope for the first time since Castiel had broken him out of his green room.

A light flared behind him, superheated to blue, abruptly illuminating the dark passage. Pain flared in Dean's head at the brightness and he was relieved Sam wasn't awake for this – his brother didn't need a migraine on top of everything else. Although Sam should have come to after ten seconds and it had now been at least a minute. If that crazy bitch had harmed Sam, Dean would…he realized there wasn't anything he could do. All the main demonic players except for Lucifer seemed to be gone. There wasn't anything Dean could do except try to take care of his brother while figuring out what to do about apocalypse.

The weight across his shoulders stiffened. "Sam, hey, relax. We're almost outside and I'll put you down then. Just trust me."

Amazingly Sam did ask he asked, his body relaxing so that Dean didn't have to strain as hard. And his breaths were puffing in and out like a steam engine, his endurance taxed by the events of the day as well as the burden he was carrying.

Burden. Sam had seemed like a burden this year, contrary and unyielding in his quest to slay Lilith. Now that Sam had managed that feat, to devastating consequences, Dean didn't know what to expect from his brother. But a little cooperation would go a long way and this was a start.

As the building shimmied and shook, Dean hit the doors without pause, bursting into the cool spring air. He wanted to double over and catch his breath but first he needed to set Sam down. "Gonna put you down now, Sammy."

The use of his brother's nickname took him by surprise almost as much as it did Sam, his brother's mouth forming an 'o' as Dean set his feet on the ground, steadying him.

Dean looked around the parking lot and his eyes landed on the lone vehicle in the area. It was an orange Shelby Charger and Dean grabbed Sam's biceps, tugging him toward it. Sam still sported a dazed look but he was steady on his feet and let himself be dragged toward the car.

Dean grabbed at the passenger side door handle and when it opened, he attempted to guide Sam in to the car. When heels dug in to the pavement, impeding progress, Dean resorted to physically manhandling Sam into the passenger seat. He might have succeeded except for the roof of the car; Dean wasn't able to push Sam's head down for clearance and it bounced painfully off the top of the car. His brother tumbled back into Dean's arms, stunned.

"We do not have time for this, Dean. The Morningstar calls to your brother. We must go now."

Heart thumping painfully in his chest, Dean turned to find Castiel standing there in his trademark beige trench coat, face set in stoic lines. "Shit, Cas, I wish you wouldn't do that."

He had been worried about the angel, left to face the archangel's wrath, but Dean's first priority was Sam.

His brother's weight pressed heavily against Dean's side and he glanced at his brother. Sam's eyes widened comically when he saw the angel. The look of surprise faded to one of confusion and he cocked his head, looking over Castiel's shoulder.

The parking lot began to quake as light shot out of the monastery windows and Dean found it hard to maintain his balance. Cas reached out and Dean expected him to touch his shoulder and transport them away from the scene but instead the dark-haired angel pressed his index finger into Sam's forehead. His brother's weight dropped like a stone and Dean's back groaned as he frantically tried to compensate for the additional force dragging him toward the ground.

Before he could confront the angel, Castiel was pressing his palm into Dean's cheek and the sensation of sudden, violent movement punched through his body. When he blinked his eyes to clear them, Dean found himself in Bobby's living room. The nausea swirling in the pit of his stomach quickly calmed as his eyes fed the news to his brain that he was once again stationary.

Adrenaline shot through his body. Sam was no longer nestled against his side.

Castiel stood in the middle of the room, legs apart to absorb the additional heaviness that was Sam in his arms. The angel cradled his brother, right arm hooked under knees and left braced around the back. Sam's long limbs trailed toward the ground, his head tipped back over a trench coat covered forearm. It looked incongruous – his strapping brother in the arms of the smaller framed one-time CPA. It also made Sam appear vulnerable and for that reason only Dean's nostrils flared in time with his temper. "Put him down. Don't you touch him."

The angel appeared unfazed, his gaze unblinking, face bland. But he did Dean's bidding without argument, carrying Sam to the couch and lowering him to the surface. Castiel wasn't rough but he also didn't handle his baby brother with care – Sam's arms and legs twisted and flopped into a position that could in no way be construed as comfortable.

Dean pushed the angel to the side as he moved to Sam's side. Once he pushed the lank hair back from Sam's face, Dean could see his brother's features pulled taut, strain and pain written all over his face. Turning his head, Dean glared at the angel. "What the hell did you do to Sam?"

Castiel's face remained impassive, his hands bunching at his sides the only sign that he was in distress. "The fallen one can sense your brother. If Sam is unconscious then he cannot be traced."

His brother's breathing pattern was irregular at best but at least he was breathing. The tightness in his limbs and face indicated a deep discomfort and it was more than Dean could take. Sam had been screwed with by demons and played by angels – it was way past time to put an end to that shit. "Wake him up. Now."

A hand clutched him gently through this shirt. "Dean, you must listen. We do not have much time. Lucifer will find Sam, and you, if I do not take care of this problem."

"Problem?! Sam is not a problem. And you are not taking care of him, whatever that means." Dean turned his attention back to his brother. He picked up one of Sam's hands and found it clammy and cool. He shifted his grip to touch Sam's pulse and his eyes found the clock on the mantle – his brother's pulse was weak but rapid. Not good.

Thumbing back an eyelid, Dean found a dilated pupil staring back at him, lackluster and glazed.

Sam was in shock.

Standing up, Dean retrieved the plaid blanket bunched on the back of Bobby's couch and straightened it out, smoothing it over Sam's still form. "I thought I told you to wake him up."

Dean found himself whirled around, staring eye to eye with intense blue eyes. "You are not thinking clearly, Dean. We cannot allow you to fall into Lucifer's hands. I can fix the problem. I just need to make an adjustment to Sam's frontal lobe and the fallen one will not be able to communicate with him."

Fallen one. Frontal lobe. Dean's head was reeling. He needed time to figure this out. "You are not doing anything to my brother. Can't you do something with those freaky blood symbols of yours? Make it seem like we've disappeared? You're an angel, for God's sake. You must be able to do something that doesn't involve maiming my brother."

The angel pursed his lips together, nodding. "As you wish. I will go outside and do that now. But when I return, we need to leave here." Castiel's eyes strayed over Sam's body and his eyes appeared to change colors for a moment, blue to gray, and then returned to normal; Dean doubted for a moment that he'd really seen the angel's eyes change but then Sam was groaning, hands lifting to his head. Something had happened.

When Dean shifted his attention back to Castiel, the angel was already gone.

The door to the basement banged and Bobby flew into the living room, his baseball cap eschew. "Dean?! What happened?!" Did you find your…"

Bobby's words trailed off as he caught sight of the young man sprawled on his couch. The older hunter brushed by him and crouched down next to Sam in the place he'd just occupied. The concern Bobby displayed was amazing considering the last time he'd seen Sam, the younger man had laid him out with the butt of a rifle. "Hey, Sam, just take it easy. Here, let me help you up."

Their host eased Sam to a sitting position, watching his face to see how he took the change in altitude. "Dean, there's a bottle of whiskey on the kitchen table…bring it here, would ya?"

"I don't think Sam should have any alcohol at the moment," Dean answered although he was moving for the kitchen table. The last time he'd been in this house, Bobby had called him on his unrealistic view of family and pretty much shamed him into going after Sam. Never mind that the freakin' angels had snapped him up before he could actually find his brother. But Dean wasn't in any rush to oppose the older hunter…his tongue was as sharp as his knife collection.

Bobby rolled his eyes as Dean handed him the bottle. "The boy's in shock. A good belt of whiskey will warm him up. And I could use one, too. Something tells me I'm not going to like what you two knuckleheads have to tell me about what's going on out there."

Exhaustion threatened to topple Dean from his feet but he began to pace the small surface of Bobby's living room floor. He was too keyed up to stop moving and there was a chance that if he did that, he'd fall asleep. The damn apocalypse was kicking off and he couldn't afford to sleep at the moment.

When he thought of the apocalypse, his eyes darted to Sam, slumped against the back of the couch. Dean couldn't begin to describe the guilt he felt over breaking the first seal; Sam had broken the last one and fallen for a demon's lies along the way…Sam had pretty much found a way to top Dean's own achievements.

Sure, Dean had fallen for the line fed to him by the angels but that wasn't even close to being in the same league as Sam listening to Ruby.

The same anger that had swirled through him ever since he was yanked out of hell to find his brother using his powers and lying surged through him again. But one look at Sam's pale face and slumped posture told Dean more effectively than words could just how sorry his brother was about everything.

They had a long road ahead of them but at least they were back together again and fighting on the same team.

If only Sam didn't look so wrung out. Dean's first priority was making sure his brother was all in one piece.


Nausea settled in the pit of Sam's stomach along with a burning sensation. Dizziness made his head reel but at least he was awake. He didn't remember the ride from Baltimore to South Dakota and he was seriously freaked out to find himself at Bobby's house, the older hunter leaning over him and speaking kindly to him. His brother peered at him from over Bobby's shoulder and Sam couldn't blame him for keeping his distance; Sam had managed to bring about the apocalypse in his single-minded desire to kill Lilith. Ending her existence would ensure Dean's safety and that had been enough. Everyone else Sam had ever loved was dead at the hands of Azazel and selling his own soul to keep his brother safe, after everything Dean had given up for him, had seemed a fair price.

Where had he gone wrong? Not that it mattered now. He'd made it possible for the Bringer of Light to come back to earth. Why then did he get the feeling that only darkness would reign?

"Here, just a touch of this will cure what ails ya," Bobby's voice interrupted his depressing thoughts. Liquid burned down his throat and when it hit the already present burn in Sam's stomach, he curled over, clutching at his abdomen.

His eyes might have teared and he knew he coughed but by the time he'd wrestled the pain into submission, Bobby and Dean were having heated words over his head.

A warm hand on his back belied the hostility in the voice next to his ear. Bobby s voice, loud and strident. "I think he needs a hospital. Who knows what that asshole angel did to his brain. And he's still shocky. It ain't right. I think the boy needs more help than we can give him. We almost lost him last time. Are you willing to risk it?"

Sam didn't want to know what Dean thought, nor did he want to go to a hospital. His brother probably wanted him to just disappear and what could the medical community do for him now that he was more demon than human? "No, please…no hospital…I don't…"

He was going to say 'deserve it' but the blood in his temples was pounding, filtering out the voices, and his vision grayed out along the edges. He didn't want to pass out. There was nothing wrong with him, at least physically. Mentally was a different story. He'd brought Lucifer back and the magnitude of his mistake stopped him in his tracks – he couldn't think or move.

Sure hands shifted him back to a supine position and after a while the throbbing in his head eased. He caught bits and phrases of the discussion swirling around him.

"…my brother, you think I don't want what's best for him?"

"…the detox thing again, how are we gonna…and you disappearing every time an angel crooks its finger…"

"…won't leave him, not this time. We're stronger together."

His brother almost sounded like he meant it. But maybe Sam was already going through withdrawal, hallucinating. He couldn't trust his senses anymore. Clasping his hands over his ears, he willed the voices to stop.

At last blissful silence greeted him. His eyes blinked open and it took a moment for them to adjust to the darkness. He was curled on his side, still on the lumpy couch. The dim light the fireplace was giving off shone down on his brother who was sprawled on the floor facing him, a blanket crumpled next to him.

Sam jumped as his eyes panned across the room to find Castiel standing by the fireplace. His brother's angel motioned him over and he gingerly rolled to his feet, picking his way across the floor as not to step on Dean.

Wondering if the angel was going to smite him and thinking that he deserved it, Sam approached slowly and stopped when he was a couple of feet away from the fireplace. The flames burned strongly in the hearth but a chill slithered down Sam's spine.

Castiel nodded gravely. "Hello, Samuel."

Sam merely inclined his head in acknowledgment; he knew the angel didn't want to exchange pleasantries with him.

The angel's eyes darted over to the relaxed man on the floor and Sam stepped to the side to block his view; Dean might be on good terms with Castiel but Sam's trust in everyone and everything had been shaken and he wasn't about to let anything hurt his brother. The dark-haired angel smiled condescendingly at Sam, his white teeth glowing in the dim light. "I am sworn to protect your brother. I will not harm him."

He might not harm Dean but it was implied that he might hurt Sam. After all, Sam consorted with demons and was himself more demon than man. He couldn't blame the angel and wistfully thought an end to his existence might not be a bad thing. However, Dean wouldn't see it that way – Sam had been entrusted into his care at too young of an age and although he'd turned into a burden, he knew Dean watching out for him was ingrained in his brother and Dean wouldn't cope well if something happened to Sam.

Although the voicemail Dean had left for Sam about being a blood sucking vampire gave him pause. Dean showing up at the monastery and getting him out had to mean something.

Castiel stared unblinkingly at him and Sam was unnerved. Running a hand impatiently through his hair, he whispered, "Fine, you won't harm him. What did you want to tell me?"

A hand reached for his arm and Sam flinched away. The monotone voice with precise pronunciation that he associated with the angels explained things patiently. "You do not have to be quiet; your brother cannot hear you."

Fear poured through Sam's body, causing his heart to pound painfully in his chest. If the angel had done anything to his brother…he turned his head and saw not only that Dean was resting peacefully on the floor, but Sam himself was still lying on the couch.

If he hadn't already brought about the resurrection of Lucifer, Sam would probably be totally freaked out at seeing himself asleep across the room while he talked to an angel. Pretty much everything paled in comparison to bringing back Lucifer so he took this in stride. "What do you want?"

Sam had wanted his voice to be forceful and strong but it was pathetic and weak. He was so very tired of his mistakes and the demons and angels using them as pawns and what his life had become…he wanted nothing more than to sink into oblivion, let everything disappear.

But there was Dean. He couldn't do that to his brother.

"You have already done your part," Sam's head bowed at the angel's words, guilt weighing him down, "so you must not stand in the way of your brother. I believe Dean will destroy Lucifer but he does not need distractions."

Distractions. Yes, Sam supposed he'd been a distraction. Using his powers, drinking demon blood…definitely distractions. He didn't plan on holding Dean back but then again he hadn't planned on bringing about the apocalypse so his judgment couldn't be trusted.

For the first time since he'd joined Castiel, he sensed something other than judgment from the being. Lifting his head he noted a certain glint in those blue eyes and in the tilt of his head.


Castiel pitied Sam. The emptiness burning within him had to be ignored; he didn't have time for it, not right now. Dean needed him to be strong.

Again the being reached out for his arm and Sam automatically flinched away. Maybe now that his soul was truly damned, he couldn't abide the touch of heavenly creatures.

He closed his eyes, disgust at himself blocking everything else out. Except that voice. Flat and pedantic, discordant to his ears. "There are challenges ahead of you, Sam, but you must face them alone."

Sam blinked and found himself back on the couch, Castiel no longer in the room.


Exhaustion swept through him, his fingers and toes tingling with numbness.

His eyes refused to remain open and he gave up that fight. Any fight was beyond him at the moment. He might not want the angels calling the shots for him but he wasn't sure if he had the strength to do anything about it.

But for his brother, he would try.


Sam leaned against the wall outside the kitchen to catch his balance. The symptoms of withdrawal had taken longer to arrive than he had thought they would – it had been over a week since he'd had anything – but they were setting in with a vengeance.

Blurred vision, headache and dizziness were the aggravating ones but when he'd glimpsed himself in the mirror after he'd gotten out of the shower, he couldn't miss the swelling in his face.

He wished Dean didn't have to see him like this. Sam knew his current condition bothered his brother. After all it was another reminder of just how low Sam had sunk.

Closing his eyes, he waited for the dizziness to pass. As the pounding in his ears let up, he became aware of the voices in the kitchen. Loud voices.

"No, absolutely not. I don't care where you got it from. Sam is not drinking any of that stuff." Dean growled his words and it made the hair on the back of Sam's neck stand up.

"You saw what happened last time, boy. Do ya really want to put him through that again? I did some research and I don't think cold turkey is the way to go. Maybe tapering him off of it would work, though." Bobby ignored Dean's temper, his tone softer but gruff.

Confusion was another sign of withdrawal and Sam had to blame his slowness on something and that would do. They were talking about him and how to treat his withdrawal.

Nausea kicked in with the dizziness and he reeled against the wall. If not for the vehemence of Dean's words, Sam might have missed what he said next. "Hell, no, Bobby. Sam is not touching that demon blood. I remember what happened last time and I don't want him to die, but…no, that's not an option. End of story."

Sam had no intentions of touching demon blood again but knowing that his brother thought he might die without it and seemed to have made peace with that fact caused a stabbing sensation in his chest. If Dean was okay with him dying then there wasn't anything keeping him alive.

He had nothing left in his stomach but liquid burned up his esophagus, in a hurry to exit his mouth. Sam clapped his hand over his mouth as though that would somehow quell the overwhelming urge to hurl and he staggered along the wall, back toward the bathroom. A lamp jumped out at him and he swerved to miss it but not enough, sending it crashing to the floor.

"Hey, Sammy, I got you. Just relax, don't fight it." A soft voice in his ear and an arm around his waist. Dean.

One minute Dean wanted him dead and the next he was being nice to him. Sam's head spun from the contradiction.

Down on one knee, head bent as he strove to keep from vomiting, Sam wondered if maybe this was all a hallucination. Maybe he needed to get to the panic room. He didn't want to hurt Dean or Bobby. They should lock him up.

"No, we're not locking you up. Come on, big guy, let's get you off the floor and on to the couch." Bobby was pulling him up, or maybe it was Dean. Sam kept his eyes clamped shut since that helped with the dizziness.

Movement finally ceased and Sam cracked his eyes open. Dean and Bobby stood over him, eyes filled with concern.

Or scorn.

It was so hard to tell. And Sam knew he deserved it. He wished they'd let him go downstairs – at least he'd be out of the way.

"You're not going anywhere. I want you where I can keep an eye on you." Sam flinched at Dean's words. He didn't deserve his brother's trust, he knew it. He couldn't undo the damage.

Something wiped across Sam's forehead, making him flinch again. His head was hot and it hurt but he deserved it.

Dean and Bobby were talking over him, as though he wasn't even in the room.

Maybe he wasn't.

"Kid's got a fever. I think we need to bring it down." Only Bobby would call him a kid. He didn't know why the older man was still nice to him. Didn't he realize this was all Sam's fault?

"I'm gonna get another blanket. He's shivering so hard, his teeth are gonna rattle out of his head." At least Dean didn't call him a monster. Or a blood sucker. Which he was.

His chest hurt. It was getting hard to breathe.

Something bitter was put in his mouth and a glass was held up to his lips.

Blood. He smelled blood. He refused to drink it. He was done with that. Never should have done it. He made the choice, though. He made all of the right choices, choices that weren't right but wrong.

No more blood.

He burrowed into the cushion at his side, jaws grinding down, teeth protesting.

No more.


A/N 2: The story is complete and if the site cooperates, I'll post the remaining three parts every other day. Thanks for reading!