Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural

Synopsis: Sam talks to Castiel about his family and Cas tries to offer support.

Four Years

"Four years."

Castile tilted his head down towards the younger Winchester who was slumped down with his back against the wall. Sam hadn't even tried to hide the shaking, the tears. He was too damned tired

"What?"

"Everyone-" Sam bit his lip and grimaced "Everyone gets four years of normal. Every Winchester."

The angel wondered if this was another pop culture reference he would not understand.

"Mom got four years with her family after her deal with Azazel. Dad, after the war, and the angels he didn't even remember; he got four years with mom. Dean had a life, a family until he was four and it all went up in flames. I got four years at Stanford."

Sam smiled painfully up at Castiel.

"That's all we ever get is four years. And it all comes back to me. If I hadn't been born."

The need to comfort Sam was a surprise to the angel. He had heard humans, heard Dean, speak of the intangible driving need and love one could have towards another. Something harsh clawed at his insides screaming 'fix it, fix him, don't let him drown!'.

Castiel was never good with emotion, but it came in an easy wave in moments with the Winchesters, in this moment. He leaned back against the wall and slid down, mimicking Sam's position.

"It was in your fates. You hold no blame." Sam seemed unaffected, he'd given up on salvation, especially in the form of angels, a long time ago.

"No one has ever fought harder against their own destiny Sam. But there was a path carved for you at every turn. You could not avoid it. You made choices, some good, some bad, and all well-intentioned."

Sam laughed humorlessly and hung his head, his shoulders slumped and hair obscuring his eyes. The picture of defeat that broke, what Castiel believed may be, the angel's heart.

"The road to hell…"

Sam's words were shaky, barely a breath. He swallowed, closed his eyes, and let his head fall back against the wall behind them.

The angel knew no words were likely to reach Sam so he simply sat next to the boy, hoping his presence was a help and not a hindrance.

Cas had been lying when he told Sam that Anna's plan would not work, that Lucifer would still get Sam. He had shared a look with Dean that let the older Winchester know he was lying. Because they both knew Sam would run off and find the first angel he could to smite him if he knew it were possible.

Most humans feared death. Sam Winchester feared life, feared not being able to die. Both of the Winchesters did to some degree, but Dean still had an ingrained need to take care of Sam that kept him at least functioning. Sam did not have that. And that coiled something tightly in the angel's gut.

Castiel had often considered in the beginning killing Sam as Anna had tried to do, but he could never follow through with it, even when the facts indicated Sam's death would be for the best. He never knew why that was. Something inside him could not allow the demon boy to die anymore than he could let Dean die. Now he believed he understood the reason for that.

Sam may have no hope for his own salvation anymore, but Castiel still did.

Every sigh and swear, every moment spent trying to fix his relationship with his brother, every thought spared remembering those that had fallen. In every stifled cry and disbelieving laugh…

Castiel saw Sam's redemption in everything he did.