Sam and Dean were fighting at least 10 demons. It was hard to tell in the dark, and different ones were flashing here and there, making it damn difficult to track them. They'd been caught woefully underprepared, and this battle was about to take a pretty serious turn for the worse. Sam was almost out of holy water, and Dean's was gone. The little pocket flasks were the only weapons they had. Sam couldn't believe it. He always carried Ruby's knife. Always, except right now, naturally. It was around the corner in the Impala. So close and yet…Sam was trying to recite the Latin exorcism, but each time it started to work, one of the horde would bash him in the mouth, or conk him in the head, and he'd have to start all over again. Truthfully , he was getting a little woozy. Fighting demons was like running on a treadmill that always went too fast. You just never felt like you had the upper hand. Until you got one in a Devil's Trap, or you had some kind of supernatural weapon; all you were really doing was not dying.

He saw three of them take Dean down. For that instant, Sam fully regretted his decision to keep away from the demon blood. If he'd been strong, he could've freed Dean, gotten them both out of here. Really, Sam? You regret not sucking down demon blood? Get a grip, man. Keep your head in the game. Sam edged closer to where Dean was on the ground, still moving, still putting up a fight. It looked like a fumble pile in a football game. Lots of grappling and grunting, but no one getting up. Sam grabbed the jacket of the big guy on top. He heaved and the guy went about two feet. But, at least he was off Dean. Sam kicked him in the head as he tried to stand up, and then grabbed the next one. She was at least lighter. He hurled her about five feet. He was so winded, he thought he might black out. This fight had been going on way too long. It was time to end it.

Sam grabbed Dean, pulled him to his feet and propelled him toward the car. "Go. Get the knife, some holy water, something." Dean ran. He was smart enough to know it was the best way to help Sam. The demons didn't follow Dean, but stayed with Sam. They circled him, but didn't attack. Sam was kind of unnerved by their weirdly-intense focus on him. Why aren't they kicking my ass? Then, he remembered Jesse-the-anti-Christ's demon-possessed mother telling him that Lucifer had called for Sam's protection. That doesn't really feel like a good thing. They circled him, not approaching or retreating.

Sam was about to make a move on a couple of them when he felt a push in his head. It was similar to that gut-wrenching pain he used to get right before a vision. The push got stronger, and Sam closed his eyes, grabbing his head as the pressure became a searing pain. While he gasped for breath and tried to figure out what the hell was going on, the pain ratcheted up and he heard a voice say, "Where's Dean?"

Sam forced his eyes open, tried to see past the axe buried in his brain. Dean was in front of him, on the ground. His eyes were open, staring up at the dark sky. His throat was cut.

The howl that came from within Sam at that moment was so intense it knocked the pain out of his head. He might have screamed, or it might have just been an internal cry that ripped through his body and mind. Either way, his thoughts blanked. Where the hollowing, nauseating pain had been, there was only space. Sam detached so ruthlessly, that he forgot what he was doing. He didn't look down. He didn't see the demons disappear. He just ran.

Sam had no idea how much time had passed. He kept running, and tried to somehow float above what had happened in that parking lot. His heart would stutter and he'd see Dean lying there, on the ground, again, staring sightlessly, again, not seeing Sam, again. Dean was dead. Sam knew he should go back. I have to bury him again? No, no, no…Dean. He didn't even try to cope. He just ran, on the outside it was one foot in front of the other on the grass and pavement. On the inside, he let his thoughts go fuzzy. At some point, he fell. He slammed into wet grass and rolled a few times. The jolt snapped his mind to his present. He was breathing hard, sitting on someone's lawn. A wave of feeling was coming at him, and he pushed it away. He wanted his mind, his heart, blank. Oh, God. Dean. He could feel the pressure in his head. It was still there, hovering.

Someone touched his arm, and he looked up. A young woman was crouching next to him, on a cell phone. Sam could hear her talking, like she was a room away from him, instead of practically on top of him.

"…Just seems beat up and totally out of it…Yeah, he's conscious, but not with it, you know?"

That wasn't worth all the pain that waited for him, just out of reach, so he let his head go empty again. But, in the mist of his mind, he still felt that push…Then, that voice came - the one that had asked where Dean was. It surged closer, 'Sam, don't be afraid…' and the pain in his head exploded. Sam tried to push it back, but, it didn't seem to matter. 'That's it, Sam. Stay with me. Dean's gone, but I'm here…' And laughter echoed all around him.


Dean had grabbed whatever he could out of the car and raced back to where he'd left Sam fighting the demon squad. He'd grabbed all the things they should have had when the demons caught them outside the warehouse. Stupid…this is the damn apocalypse, Dean. Jesus. But, when he'd run back to where he'd left them all, he'd stood frozen for a long moment. What the hell? Empty. There had been 10 demons and one brother two minutes ago, and now, everyone was gone. Not, 'oh there's one running away' gone, just, evaporated. And Sam with them. Oh, shit. This can't be good.


Four Weeks Later

Sam knew he was in a mental hospital. It was pretty clear, when he focused enough to absorb details. Everything was white and there was no noise. Ever. Someone brought him food from time to time. He was not aware of much else. Really, it didn't matter where he was, because his battle was inside himself. Literally. Lucifer had taken up residence in his head. He'd had one visit that time with Jess in the hotel, but that had been a fist bump compared to this nightmare. Somehow, the fallen angel had keyed in to Sam's brain, and whenever Sam went to sleep, Lucifer would come.

At first, he was almost gentle. 'Just tell me where you are, Sam. I just want to talk. I want to thank you for what you did for me. I owe you so much...'

When Sam refused and stayed silent, Lucifer laughed. 'It's like that, is it Sam? You want me to win the information, don't you? Fair enough. I'll make you tell me. This should be fun…'

And the visions had begun. Dad had come the most, at first. "Sam, you trust me, don't you? Even though we had our ups and downs, you know I always had your best interests at heart…Just say 'yes,' son. You can be the one to end this. Just say 'yes…'" Saying 'no' was easy when dad came. Because Sam knew dad would put a stake through his heart before he'd beg Sam to say yes to Lucifer.

Mom, well, Sam kind of didn't even listen to what she said. He just leaned into her gentle hand, closed his eyes, and said 'no, no, no.' Jessica wasn't hard to refuse, either. She'd worn Lucifer already, so Sam didn't fall for her the way he had the first time. He knew she'd loved him, would never want him to cause the destruction saying 'yes' to Lucifer would bring. So, overall, Sam was holding his own in the white room, with the white floor and white blankets.

Lucifer seemed to be able to read how his various puppets were doing against Sam. Because once Sam showed sufficient resistance, that one didn't return.

When Dean came, well, the game changed. It was hard to stand against Dean. Because this Dean had haunted eyes and a trembly mouth and told Sam how much he was suffering in hell again. 'Sam, if you say 'yes' Lucifer will let me go. C'mon, Sammy. I already did this for you. Don't make me go through this again. Please…" And Sam would rock on his bed with his eyes closed, saying, "No, no, no…" He knew this version of Dean was not real, but what if Dean was suffering? What if he'd gone back to hell, and saying 'yes' would get him out? Sam might actually be tempted, if it meant an eternity of torment for Dean versus Sam becoming Lucifer's meat suit. Naturally, Lucifer picked up on that little truth nugget. Phony-Dean practically took up residence in Sam's head. If Sam dropped off to sleep for even a few minutes, there came Dean, begging Sam to set him free from torture.

And so, after however many weeks it had been, Sam started to lose hope. Because he knew, he knew Dean would rather roast in hell all over again, than have Lucifer take control of Sam and destroy the world. He didn't need Dean alive to tell him that. But, somewhere in his heart, he was afraid. He was afraid that if Lucifer kept this Dean around, begging Sam to set him free, well...Even fake, this Dean might get him to say 'yes.'


Four weeks. Almost one month since Sam disappeared. And Dean was no closer to finding him now than he'd been 10 minutes after it happened. Generally, when Sam went missing, Dean's search was equal parts worry and mad. Because it never failed to piss him off that Sam's first response when he was overwhelmed was to run. But, that's not what this was. This time there was no anger to counter-balance the bone-deep fear. Did Lucifer have Sam? Was he being tortured into saying 'yes?' The exiled angel wanted Sam for his vessel, and he probably had quite an arsenal of tools of persuasion at his disposal. Every time Dean thought about what might be happening, it not only made him ache for Sam, it tickled his memories from hell too damn much. He hadn't realized how much he relied on the steady presence of Sam to help him with that. Even drinking demon blood and revenge-obsessed, Sammy was just so there. And, now, he wasn't. And Dean's mind was letting way too many things in to fill up the Sammy-sized space that usually occupied his thoughts. Dean just wanted to know that Sam wasn't this moment on some rack in hell going through what Dean had endured. Not knowing was driving him crazy. Where the hell are you, Sammy? Use your mind mojo and toss me a clue, would ya?

Dean's phone rang. His heart leapt. He picked it up. Bobby. Swallowing his disappointment, Dean answered. Before he could even get out a 'Hey, Bobby,' Bobby spoke. "I found him."

Dean closed his eyes. "Is he alive?"

Bobby voice was calm, reassuring. "He's alive, Dean."

Dean let out a long sigh. "Jesus. Okay, where is he and why the hell hasn't he called?"

Bobby paused. "Well, Dean, Sam ain't exactly firing on all cylinders."

"Did Lucifer get to him?"

Bobby let out a sigh of his own. "My guess is he's been tryin'. Sam's at St. Luke's Psychiatric Hospital in Monrovia, Illinois. Only about 10 miles from where you lost him in the first place."

Dean shook his head. "I checked all the hospitals. Gave a description, asked about any John Doe's…"

"Yeah, I know, I did, too. Just in case you missed any. He was brought in three weeks ago, beat to hell and uncommunicative. The local E.R. referred him but never entered him in their computer. Some kid doing catch-up data entry just put him in the system this morning."

Dean started packing up. "And how do we know it's him?"

"Oh, it's him. 'Patient is 6'5", dark hair, haunted eyes…' Not the most professional assessment, but, I called, said I was his doctor. Gave his name as Sam Winters, 'cause I have documents for that one. They faxed me a photo. It's Sam."

Dean stilled. "How's he look?"

Bobby paused. "Just meet me. Call when you get close. If I'm delayed, just tell them you're his brother and only kin. He isn't signed in or committed. They can't hold him if his family wants to take him home. We'll figure everything else out after."


Dean and Bobby got there about the same time. Bobby had put on a suit, managed to look arrogant even sitting in a wheelchair. They were brought into a conference room to meet with the doctor who was treating Sam. Dean was impressed at the bullshit Bobby was able to sling when it mattered. He used all kinds of psycho-babble lingo that had Dean's head buzzing. The upshot was, the doc, one Dr. Paul Miller, was pretty baffled. He was a young guy, younger than Dean. But, he seemed competent. "Mr. Winters, I wish I could tell you more about your brother's condition. He came to us physically healthy, other than the bruises he sustained in some kind of altercation that night. But, he remains uncommunicative. At times, he chants what sounds like 'no, no, no.' He barely eats. And, as far as we can tell, he doesn't sleep."

Dean's brows went up. "I'm sorry, what do you mean he doesn't sleep? He's been here for a month."

Dr. Miller looked apologetic. "Yes. We've tried to medicate him. It took seven tries, and quite a bit of effort, but we managed to get him hooked up to an intravenous sedative. He slept for about an hour, then, somehow came out of it. He was so agitated, he tore the i.v. out, threw the medication, stand, tubing, everything out of his room. It was the one clear thing he's said since he's been here. 'No medications.' Since he is not yet a ward of the state, and he had no personal physician to approve medications, we can't do it against his will. Mind you, that medication should have knocked him out for at least 12 hours." He looked between Dean and Bobby. "To be honest, we were just keeping him here until a bed opened up in the State Psych Ward. Dr. Frampton, has he been like this before?"

Bobby sighed. "Yes. And worse. I have to get him into a familiar environment, get him around his own things, get him back on his regular anti-psychotic prescriptions ---"

Dean stood up, "Can I see him now?"

Dr. Miller exchanged a look with 'Dr. Frampton.' "Um, do you think that's wise? He's really not himself right now. It might be hard to see him in such a state. I doubt he'll even know you're there."

Dean gave the doctor a tight smile. "Doc, I've seen him much worse off than this, believe me. Just, tell me where he is. Please."

Dr. Miller nodded, hit the button on his intercom.


Sam had found that standing by the window, leaning just slightly on the wide sill, was the best position to avoid sleeping. If he sat, he'd find himself slumping in no time. If he walked, he felt weak and wobbly and his head would zone out even worse. And here, he could look out and watch the fall leaves drop and fly and in the breeze. It was sort of like watching the ocean. He could follow one leaf for an hour, until his vision would go blurry and he'd have to close his eyes for 30 seconds or so. It was a view that didn't make him think about anything. He could be blank and put his focus on staying awake. It had been at least a day since Lucifer had brought fake-Dean into his head. Sam let his eyes shut and started counting. He would give himself 120 seconds. Longer than that, and he would start nodding off, even standing up.

He heard the door to his room open. He didn't turn. Probably time for food. He should try to eat a little more, but it made him sleepy, when his stomach was full. Better to leave it alone, for now. Wait until he got too light-headed to stand.

Then, quietly, from behind him, "Sam?"

Sam's spirit sank. Because as much as he missed having some version of his brother around, this was always so hard. He pressed his head against the window. He'd thought he was awake. It still felt like he was awake. And that was pretty damn scary, because if he couldn't tell the difference anymore, he was much further gone than he'd thought. "No, no, no…"

Dean's voice came from just behind him. "Hey. You in there, Sam?"

Lucifer must have been off taking some classes, because this guy really sounded like his Dean. He was kind of surprised at how much he felt, hearing this Dean's voice. He had to find a way to wake up.

Sam felt a warm hand on his shoulder. "Sammy?" Gentle, soft, with worry and love infusing that one word, just like he'd heard all his life. Shit. Lucifer was stepping up his game.

Sam didn't turn or open his eyes. "Don't touch me. Stop using him. My answer's the same."

The hand didn't move, in fact, became two, as Dean pulled him around to face him. "Jesus, man. You look horrible."

Sam's eyes sprang open at that. It was so Dean. And there he was, right in front of Sam, looking up at him with those eyes that went soft like this only for him. Oh, God. How did he learn all these new tricks? This even smells like Dean. Sam stepped back, out of touching range, "No, no, no. Go. I'll wake up…I'll wake up…"

He stepped over to the bed frame and slammed his head against it. It was a relief to feel it hurt. When he opened his eyes, Dean would be gone. Instead, he heard a loud, "Damn it, Sam! What are you doing?!" And Dean was pressing a towel or something to the cut Sam had opened up on his forehead.

Dean was still there. Oh, man. This is bad in so many ways…Maybe I'm in a coma, and I can't wake up. No, no, no…

Dean's hand was back on his shoulder, squeezing firmly. His voice came from directly in front of him. The anger was gone. Now, it was just pure concern. "Sam, I want you to listen to me, okay? I don't know what those demons did to you, but, I'm here now. You're okay. Bobby is checking you out of here. Sam? Come on, man. Please say something. Open your eyes, okay? Can you do that, Sammy? Just open your eyes? Just one eye. I'm not asking for that much…"

And Sam's heart started pumping fast. Because this? Dean alive, caring, kind, all big-brother reassurance and resolve? That was so much harder to resist than the creepy Dean who moaned about the tortures of hell and how Sam was responsible for his torment.

Lucifer is going to break me. Maybe not today, maybe not even soon, but with this? With his Dean on the case? Sam would do anything for that guy.He kept his eyes closed. Don't look at him. Those eyes would break him. They'd been his anchor his whole life. And if he had to look at them…shit, shit, shit. Out loud he started his chanting. He'd found it helped to just repeat something, over and over…like meditating. Chant it long enough, and eventually Lucifer gave up, regrouped to come back another time. "It's a trick…It's a trick…It's a trick…"

Dean's hand moved from his shoulder up to his neck. He pressed a little closer. Sam could feel his body heat now. That was new, too. This whole episode felt so real. But, he held strong, and kept chanting. Dean's mouth was all but pressed to his ear, and he started talking softly over Sam's chanting. "It's not a trick, Sam. I'm here. Bobby's here. We're going to take you out of here. Sammy? Please open your eyes, man. Look at me. Please…look at me. I'm right here…"

Sam stopped his chanting. He couldn't help himself. He fisted his hands on Dean's shirt, pulled him until he could really feel him. He let his aching head fall on Dean's shoulder. He spoke softly into his not-brother's neck. "I know you're dead…I know you're not real…But, God, I miss you…I'm staying strong. I'm trying, man…But…I don't think I'm gonna last, not forever…And, I'm so sorry…" Sam let himself lean there, on this not-real Dean, just for a minute. He was just so damn tired. And that made him ashamed. Because Dean had lasted 30 years. Sam wasn't sure how much time had passed since Dean had died, but it couldn't have been more than a few weeks. And Sam was already weakening? Sam, man up for Christ's sake! He pushed away from the illusion, determination filling him again. He owed real-Dean better than this. He was not going to fail. Not at this. Not after everyone else had fought so hard. "No, no, no…"

He turned back to the window, leaned his head against the pane. Tears ran from his eyes. "No, no, no…"


Dean was pretty damn speechless. He didn't know what was going on in Sam's freaky head, but obviously, Lucifer was playing him, and playing him hard. He thought Dean was dead? Dean moved over to where Sam stood at the window. He didn't try to talk. He just looked at him. Sam looked like he was two-days-past-dead himself. He was gaunt and unshaven. His eyes, for the millisecond Dean had been able to look at them, were almost pink, they were so bloodshot. How he was even on his feet, Dean wasn't sure. He remembered Dr. Miller saying Sam hadn't been sleeping. Did he mean Sam hadn't been sleeping at all? How was that even possible?

Dean cleared his throat, spoke softly. "What happens when you sleep, Sam?"

Sam let out a sickly, hollow laugh. "You're such a ruthless bastard."

Dean nodded. "Sam, you know Lucifer can put things in your head, right? I mean, duh, stupid question right about now, right? But, whatever he showed you about me being dead? That's bullshit, man. I'm fine, I'm right here."

Sam just rolled his head back and forth on the glass pane.

Dean moved a little closer. "I just ran back to the car for the knife. I was gone, like two minutes, tops. When I got back to the fight, everyone was gone. I've been looking for you ever since."

And back and forth went Sam's head, his eyes closed, muttering, "No, no, no…"

Dean put his arm around Sam's shoulders. "Sam, I know you're tired. I know he's been filling your head with…well, God knows, but I want you to focus, for me, okay? I want you to think back to that parking lot, right before we got separated. Can you do that?"

Sam's head kept tossing, back and forth, the chanting of 'no, no, no…' going on and on.

Dean leaned his head against Sam's, stilling it. "Sam? Just try, please?"

Sam stilled, let out a breath. Then, Dean knew, he was actually listening. Dean probably only had one shot before Sam was off in Lucifer Land again. He calmed himself, spoke softly, but tried to be as normal as he could. "The bullshit he's been feeding you…I'm guessing it has a consistent feel? Like, when all these people come to convince you to be Lucifer's sleeping bag, that feels like, a certain way, right?"

Sam sighs. "Cold. Everybody's eyes, so sad...But, cold…'Say yes, Sam. Say yes.' But, they're all dead…I know they are…I don't…I can't ever say 'yes.'"

God damn. Dean felt a tear slip down his own cheek. "Sam, I want you to think about what you feel right now. I want you to look at me, man. I know the bastard's been tormenting you with me. Think about how that guy felt. And, then, how this feels, right now. Is it the same?"

Sam shook his head. "Learned some new tricks…"

Trying to be as much himself as possible, Dean let out a short laugh. "Sam, he's, like, 6,000 years old. The time for learning tricks has passed for that dude."

Sam huffed out what might have been a laugh. Dean finally felt some hope. They could do this. "Okay, now," he put his hand over Sam's heart. "Listen to what I'm telling you. I am not dead. I don't know how he convinced you I was. But, he must have found a path to your head through one of those demons. Something must have happened, after I ran to the car. Did you hear or see anything weird? Come on, use that freakish brain of yours. There must have been something."

Sam stirred underneath his arm. Like, he was mustering his will for something other than Lucifer lock-out. Then, Dean knew he remembered something. Sam's head tilted, like it always did when he was figuring something out. Dean willed him to find it, whatever that thing was to convince him Dean wasn't dead. But, really, the best piece of evidence he had was himself. He gripped Sam a little tighter. "Sam, you know me. Our whole lives, it's been you and me. Think. You know me. I know Lucifer has you all strung out and you can probably barely put two thoughts together, but, Sam. You know. Trust yourself to know the difference between some freaky Lucifer-vision of me, and the real me."

There was a long pause. Sam was concentrating, considering. God bless the kid, he always listened to Dean. Sam reached up, covered Dean's hand with his own, where it rested over his heart. His grip was going to leave a bruise. "You're not dead?"

Dean pressed in. "Not even close. Been there, done that. I'm right here, man."

Sam let out a long breath, turned into Dean, dropped his head back on Dean's shoulder. For a long time, Sam just held on to him. Dean let relief wash over him. Sam could stand here 'til next weekend and that would be cool with Dean. Finally, Sam sniffled, gathered himself. "What I am I gonna do? He's gonna fuck with me forever, isn't he?"

"No, Sam. We're going to find a way to stop this. He won't win, I promise. This is not going to be your life. We'll figure it out."

Sam breathed out, his weight rested more heavily against Dean. Like, almost all of his weight. Dean grunted, had to set his legs to keep from swaying. "Hey man, don't fall asleep on me. You're too damn heavy." He pushed Sam up and over toward the bed. "Come on, sit down. Bobby should be here---"

Sam took one look at the bed, and pushed away from him. "I can't sleep. That's when he comes…"

Dean didn't like the far away stare coming back into Sam's eyes. "Okay, okay. We'll get you out of here, tank up on coffee, get you to Bobby's. We'll find something to block him, Sam. Just hold on."

Sam nodded, walked back over to the wall. He leaned his head against the white plaster and closed his eyes. "Please, don't leave…"

Dean smirked. "As if…"

Dr. Miller and Bobby came in. They seemed deep in conversation. Dr. Miller looked intrigued when he glanced at Sam. "You say he's been in this fugue state before? What brought it on, were you able to learn?"

Bobby's eyes alternated between Dean and Sam. He cleared his throat. "There have been some traumatic events in the boy's life. He hasn't always coped…" He looked at back to Dr. Miller. "Could you give us a minute?"

Dr. Miller looked sadly at Sam, "Take all the time you need, Doctor. Mr. Winters."

Dr. Miller nodded at Dean and left. Sam turned his head enough to glance at Bobby. "Can you see him?"

Bobby glanced at Dean. "See who?"

Sam sighed. "Dean. Can you see him? Is he standing next to me?"

Bobby rolled his eyes. "Yes, Sam, your brother is standing next to you."

Sam nodded, closed his eyes. "Good. That's good." Tears continued to escape from the corners of his eyes. But, he stayed still.

To Dean, it looked like he was barely breathing. "We've got to get him out of here, Bobby. Lucifer is hounding him with visions, wanting in. We need to find something that will block an angel's link with his vessel."

Bobby nodded. "Your angel friend can probably help us with that." He and Dean exchanged a look. "Sam, you ready to get out of here?"

Despite the tears, Sam's expression was flat. His eyes stayed closed. "It doesn't really matter where I am, does it?""

Dean felt a welcome surge of anger. "Hey, Sam, let's drop the whole 'hopeless' vibe, okay? We're taking them all on, right? I know it sucks right now, but, we're gonna figure this out." He turned to Bobby. "Can we go?"

Bobby nodded. "If you think he can make it as far as the car."

Dean smirked. "Of course he can, right Sam?"

Sam opened his eyes. Wiped the tail of his t-shirt over his face. "Yeah."

Dean went to him, took his arm, infused his voice with conviction and resolve. "The sooner we're out of here, the sooner we fix this. Come on, Sam. You and me."

Bobby 'hurrumphed' from his wheelchair, following them. Dean smiled. "Okay, okay. Bobby, too."


In the end, it was Castiel who stopped the visions. Dean called him to Bobby's where Zombie-Sam spent his time trying to stay awake. He was currently walking around the junkyard with Bobby's two Dobermans. Castiel said there were a couple of things that would break the mind link between angel and vessel. But, if Lucifer found out what the symbol was, he could counter it.

Dean sighed. "So, a tattoo is out."

Castiel nodded. "Yes. I could carve it on his collar bone. Or into his skull."

Dean shivered. "Like the Enochian symbols currently decorating our rib cages?"

Castiel's eyebrow went up. "Yes. Like that."

Dean shook his head. "Well, things just can't get weirder, can they?"

Sam came in from outside. He looked a little better than he had at the hospital, but not much. He was still gaunt and bleary-eyed. But, he was clean and he'd shaved. He saw Castiel. "Hey, Cas."

Castiel nodded to him. "Sam." Castiel raised his both his hands, closed his eyes.

Dean and Sam both grabbed their heads and went down. Dean, just to his knees, his hands around his head. Sam went to his back, flat out on the floor, out cold. Dean looked over at Castiel. "What the fuck!?"

Castiel looked calm as a mountain lake. "Lucifer cannot link with Sam's mind. And, Michael cannot link with yours. It is what you wished, correct?"

Dean was panting. The pain had been intense, but it was gone now. He looked over at Sam, who he realized, probably hadn't slept for weeks. Dean felt something ease in him, and an almost unbearable gratitude to Castiel. He looked at the angel, felt himself get a bit weepy. "Thanks, man."

Castiel inclined his head. "You're welcome."

Dean looked from Cas, to Bobby to Sam. "Are we gonna try to haul his giant ass up to a bed?"

Bobby raised an eyebrow and threw Dean a pillow from the sofa. "I'm in a wheelchair."

Castiel disappeared with a whoosh.

Dean sighed. He grabbed a blanket from the couch and went to Sam, put the pillow under his head. "I'll wake him in a couple hours, make him go up and really sleep."

Bobby watched Dean where he perched next to Sam on the floor. "You need anything?"

Dean adjusted the pillow until Sam looked comfortable. "No. No, I'm good." He looked up toward Bobby. "We're going to make it through this, right?"

Bobby made a scoffing noise. "You bet we are."

Dean nodded, pulled the blanket up higher on Sam's chest. He let his hand linger there, probably didn't even realize he was resting his hand over Sam's heart. He leaned down, spoke softly. "Just sleep, Sammy. I'm right here. You're okay…"

And Bobby rolled out of the room to the sound of tough, ass-kicking Dean Winchester softly humming to his sleeping brother.