Characters not mine.

(Originally written for a free-for-all challenge on comment_fic.)

Some miracles might have been better off undone.

He'd come back from Hell. He still wasn't entirely certain how.

He'd come back from Hell and stood under a streetlamp, staring at the home his brother had a chance at. He had an almost overwhelming urge to walk up to the door, pick the lock, and shuffle about until he found the kitchen and a beer or until Dean came down to investigate, as Dean had done to Sam what seemed like a lifetime before.

But no.

There was some kind of chance there, for safety and healing and . . . and a kind of happiness Dean had never had a chance at. Never would have a chance at, on the road.

Sam Winchester had felt Lucifer inside him during an Apocalyptic battle. He had been thrown into Hell in order to seal it again. He didn't know what or who had pulled him out, or why.

But he was pretty certain it couldn't be for any good.

He'd gone for a beer after all, in a nameless bar on the edge of town, when a sudden prickling at his back told him someone had come up behind him. Someone who he hadn't heard move into place. Someone, therefore, who could appear and disappear at will.

"I don't know why," he said quietly, not bothering with a preamble or even turning around. Whoever was behind him would make their move or demands soon enough.

"I don't understand the greeting."

Of course it would be Cas. Sam started to turn around to face him, and then changed his mind. He examined the beer label instead. "I don't know why I'm here."

"Nor do I," Castiel said. "You were brought to Dean's door. Yet you came here. I don't understand what the attraction of this establishment is."

Sam reached up for his temples. He ought to face the angel. Castiel couldn't always read Sam's expressions, but Sam could read Cas's face with more ease than he could Dean's, anymore. Dean was so closed up, now, but Cas was guileless with his allies.

Was Sam still an ally?

He didn't turn around. "Some things are better off dead."


Something nudged the back of Sam's brain. Being ridden by Lucifer hadn't been like being ridden by a demon. He'd been conscious for all of it, even when he couldn't control it. He remembered that Castiel shouldn't be here, either.

"Didn't I . . . make you explode?"

"Lucifer did."

"Then how are you here?"

"My Father said I was still needed."

"Oh." There didn't seem to be much else to say about that.

Castiel stood at his back for a moment in silence. Sam took another swig from the bottle.

"Dean would be overjoyed to see you," Castiel said finally.

Part of Sam could picture a reverse of the scene after Cas had dragged Dean out of Hell - hugs, tears, a brief lift of the ban on chick flick moments. "Yeah," he said, with a weak chuckle that carried no humor at all, "right up to the point when . . . whatever brought me back comes looking for me."

Castiel came into the corner of Sam's vision and sat, gingerly, on the bar stool beside him. "Dean did not believe he should be saved, either."

Sam shook his head. "That's because Dean's. . . ." He hesitated. There were a lot of things Dean did and didn't believe in that contributed to it, but they weren't all easy to articulate and it was never anything Dean had done. Dean had never ignored death omens, never drank demon blood, never broken the seal of Hell. Never let Lucifer ride him. "Don't compare me to Dean," he said instead.

"Okay." But then he waited, expectantly.

Sam shook his head. His head was too clear, now. Fighting for control with Lucifer had been sheer stubborn resolve against not only a Fallen Angel, but against the screaming, searing sensation in his own mind. There had been no choice but to focus everything he had on the task at hand, on just a little bit of control. Now, there was no task at hand, and there would have been room for other thoughts in his head even if there were.

He raised the bottle to his lips again and tried not to hear all the things the angel wasn't saying.

Then Castiel stood up, and Sam felt his shoulders relaxing a little at the thought that he might be left alone.

"Come with me," the angel said.

"Cas - " Sam started.

"Come with me," Castiel repeated. "You will not regret it."

Sam glanced back at the bar. He wasn't certain there was anything he wouldn't regret right now. But nonetheless he followed the angel outside, into the side alley where the bar seemed to have thrown most of its junk. He stopped in the doorway, waiting. Castiel did not turn around.

"I came," Sam said.

Cas still didn't turn, and for a moment Sam wondered if there was something else in the alley, something that could end this. Or if Cas was simply a figment of his imagination and his own brain was rejecting him, now.

Then he noticed the way the shadows were coalescing around Castiel's back, becoming solid and black and feathery. A moment after it caught his eye, Castiel had spread his wings.

"Um," Sam said.

"You may touch them," Castiel said.

There was a part of Sam, in spite of everything that had happened in the last few years, that was still sort of in awe of angel wings. Sam stepped forward before he thought about it, reaching out a hand for one long flight feather. He stopped himself only millimeter's away. They looked so fragile. "Cas?"

"Go on."

Sam didn't trust himself with the flight feathers and touched the pinfeathers closer to the joint instead. Even if he'd been who he once was, Sam would still have been afraid of doing damage with his big hands.

"Lucifer is gone," Cas said. "You threw him into Hell."

Sam yanked his hand back. "Yeah, but - "

"If I was still afraid of seeing you give into the darkness, would I have let you touch my wings?" Castiel lifted one, so he only had to turn slightly to meet Sam's eyes. "I raised you from Hell, Sam, just as I did for Dean."

Sam didn't have an answer for that.

"Are you going to deny him the chance to see you again?" Castiel turned around properly and reached out, and although Sam knew where they were going and still wasn't sure he wanted to go, especially at two in the morning, he let Cas's fingers rest on his forehead.