Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, but playing in their sandbox is almost as much fun as watching them take off their shirts. ;D

A/N: Here's a rather quick one-shot tag to 6x13 'Unforgiven'. I know it's not the first tag to this episode, but I couldn't resist the urge to write one as well. I'm also sure it's chocked full of grammatical mistakes since this is unbeta'd, but I hope you enjoy it and let me know if it's any good or not. :D

Being Hans Brinker

Wide, hazel eyes stared out vacantly into space, freaking him out like nothing ever had before.

"C'mon, Sam...c'mon...c'mon...look at me..." He begged and pleaded as he frantically patted Sam's cheeks then moved on to shaking him by the shoulders, yet nothing changed.

He may not be seizing and thrashing wildly about on the floor anymore, but the stillness that had settled over his brother was more panic inducing than the first few seconds after Sam's collapse and Dean was terrified.

He never should have allowed Sam to try remembering what went down in this God-forsaken town a year ago..never. What had he been thinking? Sure, Sam was stubborn and knew the risks, but Dean should have dragged him away the second they realized he had been there before. He wasn't ready for this...he just got Sam back...he couldn't lose him again. He refused.

"Cas!" Dean shouted up at the ceiling, out of solutions. "Get your angel ass down here now!"

Turning his attention back to Sam, it was almost impossible to look at him like this without feeling stabbing pangs of guilt and remorse. Dean had done this to him...shoved his tortured soul back into him against his will, but what choice did he have? Leave him in the pit for all of eternity?

Seconds ticked by slowly. "C'mon, Cas! Please!"

A rush of air at his back a moment later had Dean whirling. Castiel was already in movement towards him and Sam, grasping the severity of the situation immediately.

"What has happened?"

"I dunno...he was just standing there one second and the next...You gotta help him. I can't get him to snap out of it. "

Cas crouched down beside Sam, his face impassive, but Dean was no stranger to the anger that hid behind his eyes. "I told you this might happen, Dean. His soul should never have been placed back inside of him...you have no idea how damaged it is."

"Dammit, Cas, you can lecture me all you want later. " Dean wasn't above begging now and he grabbed Cas' arm. "But, please...just do something...anything." His pleading must have had an effect, as Cas' features softened ever so slightly.

"I can try to draw him out, but I cannot repair his psyche, Dean. There is no guarantee that anything I do will be of any assistance."

"Just do what you can...that's all I ask."

Cas relented grimly. "Alright...but you will have to let him go."

Dean immediately released Sam's shoulder and sat by helplessly while Cas lifted a hand and brought it up to his little brother's forehead, closing his eyes.


His senses were flooded, overloaded with pain.

His nostrils filled with smoke and the acrid stench of decay, blood, sulfur and searing flesh.

His vision filled with flames

His skin charred under the heat

His ears overwhelmed with the sound of screaming...his own screams of unrelenting agony.

He fell backward, breaking contact with Sam, fighting for air.

"Cas?" He felt a hand on his shoulder and shook his head.

"He's in pain...horrible pain, Dean."

Castiel turned toward his human friend. Seeing Dean's stricken face did little to diminish the lingering terror and torment he experienced in Sam's mind. But, he reminded himself, Sam was his friend and had jumped into Hell with Lucifer, saving the world from the apocalypse. He owed it to him to keep trying and to release him from his pain.

"I'm sorry...I was not prepared." Cas got back up again with Dean's aid, approaching Sam once again. This time, he braced himself for the inevitable shock he would experience the moment he touched the young man and entered his mind.

Carefully, he placed his hand over Sam's forehead and allowed his energy to float into his mind. Again, the horrors came in a tidal wave and like diving into a vat of freezing ice water, it took his breath away, but this time he was ready for it and gave himself a moment to adjust. Consciously, he had to force himself to remain steady, to remind himself that the pain he was experiencing was not his own, to push it aside, to dig deeper.

Sam's memories floated past him as he pushed further into the recesses. Faces of people Sam knew, names, past test scores, how to hold a toothbrush...all of these came rushing by Cas like flotsam and jetsam in the sea. He brushed them aside, he had only one destination in his sights and all else was just in the way.

At last, he found it: the wall. It wasn't what he had envisioned it to be. There were no bricks and mortar, just energy; a force field perhaps, but it was a barrier none the less. Cas reached out to touch it. A tingling of it's power coursed through him like a static electric shock, but he didn't pull back despite the fear, loathing, pain, torment, fire and horror that he could feel lurking behind it.

Then something caught his attention. A weakness in the field, a leaking fissure undermining the strength of the structure.

All the while the screaming was becoming harder and harder to block out. He knew it was because he was close to the source of Sam's pain. Memories were dripping out like a leaky faucet. He needed something to close the hole, to plug it up.

From somewhere deep within his vessel, he was reminded of a story Jimmy once told his daughter, of a little dutch boy passing by a dam. Seeing that there was a leak in it, he rushed over to it, knowing that the smallest breach in the wall could cause the entire thing to collapse and flood his nearby village. So acting quickly, he stuck his finger in the hole and held back the rush of water, standing there all night until help finally arrived, saving his village. That's what Cas needed to do now. He needed to be Hans Brinker.

Castiel moved over the wall towards the growing gap and pressed his own energy into it. As he did so the unremitting screams of agony intensified and he could no longer ignore them. He turned, keeping pressure against the leak, hoping to stem the tide and saw the memory that was tormenting Sam right at that moment.

The image of Lucifer, clear in the hideousness of his true form, stood over a stone table with Sam strapped to it, his arms and legs shackled in iron and bleeding into the porous rock. One by one, Satan grabbed Sam's fingers and snapped them like dry twigs, each time causing the young man to agonizingly shout out with free abandon.

The angel pressed further against the hole, feeling his own energy draining, but slowly, the hole was starting to close.

Sam screamed again. This time, Lucifer smiled in terrible glee as he used a rusty pair of shears to individually begin cutting the broken fingers off, crunching through flesh and bone, creating a sound that Castiel hoped to never hear again. Sam bucked and heaved against his restraints, unable to stop the torture, his only recourse lay in pleading with Satan to stop, but that only seemed to up the beast's pleasure as though Sam's horrendous screams were music to his ears.

Cas was growing weaker. He was uncertain how much longer he could hold out, if he even had enough power left in him to completely plug up the hole, but he refused to give up, not yet. Not while his friend endured such pain.

"Sam!" Castiel gritted out, hoping that his voice might reach the tortured young man. "This is not real. This is only memory."

Sam was oblivious to Cas' presence, the sound of his voice wrenching and reverberating across the depths of his own mind, wracked in agony, continued unabated. Cas pushed harder and harder, there was little left he could give, his flagging energy was failing. He grunted and heaved, pouring what remained of his power into the wall.

His breaking point was nearing, but he didn't stop, not until the leaking crack in the wall was finally sealed with one last burst of strength.

Suddenly, it all stopped. The screaming was gone as was Lucifer and Sam.

Exhausted and spent, Castiel collapsed into himself and fell. Falling forever into the dark.


Dean was beside himself with worry.

Cas grunted, all of the muscles in his body tensed as he touched Sam, the cords in his neck expanding against the strain. He shook as a bright white light enveloped him and his brother. It lasted only a few seconds, but in that time, Cas never stopped screaming.

Frightened by the sight, Dean fell back. He could feel the power emanating from the angel; glorious and terrifying all at once while time stood still.

In an instant, it was suddenly over. Cas collapsed backward, unconscious while Sam remained as he had been, his eyes still wide open to the horrors he had been subjected to in his mind.

"Cas!" Dean reached for the angel, but pulled back in pain the moment he touched his skin. He was white hot, but Dean could see from the panting and wild expansion of his chest that Cas was still alive.

Heart pounding and wildly thumping, Dean turned back to Sam. In the space between checking on Cas, his eyes had closed and he had begun shaking, shivers coursing through his limbs and hands, his lips quivering.

"Sammy?" Dean touched Sam's face. Unlike Cas he was cold to the touch, but began to warm a little under his fingers. "Sam?"

Sam groaned and his eyelids fluttered. "C'mon, Sam...that's it. Open your eyes. I'm right here."

A sliver of hazel became visible as Sam cracked his lids open. "There you go, Sammy." Dean encouraged him.

Sam didn't respond with any words, but opened his eyes further, lifting his quaking hands and studying them with a strange disbelief. He flexed his fingers as though amazed that they might still be working.

"Sam?" Dean asked, his anxiety remaining high until he got some kind of confirmation from his little brother that he was completely back. Sam finally turned his head to Dean and made eye contact.

"Dean?...W-what happened?" He weakly questioned, his eyes darting about in confusion then landing on the form of the angel just now beginning to groan as he forced himself to sit up. "Cas? You okay?"

Cas took his time in replying, his head hanging and breathless. "I will recover, but I am weak for now."

"Dean?" Sam looked back at his brother for an explanation.

"You scratched too hard at the wall, Sam. Damn near scared me to death" Dean gulped. "But, Cas brought you back somehow." Dean turned back to Cas gratefully. Whatever he had done had worked, at least for now and he didn't have a clue how to even begin to thank him.

Cas was starting to look a smidge better as he raised his head and wearily connected his eyes with Dean's "I merely repaired what I could of the wall...however, it may be only temporary at best."

That was good enough for Dean. "Cas, I don't know how to..."

"You're welcome." Cas sighed, his head drooping again as he breathed heavily.

Sam was attempting to sit up. Dean quickly moved to help, supporting him behind his shoulders. He wobbled slightly, but Dean was there to hold him steady.

"Cas..." Sam addressed his exhausted savior. "You were there...in my head?"

"Yes." He replied, struggling to lift his head again.

"Then you saw..."

"Lucifer...yes, and what he did to you. But it is only a memory now, Sam."

"It felt so real." Sam whispered.

"I understand. However, none of it was and you must not dwell on it. I am uncertain whether I will be able to repair the wall again should you breach it again."

Sam nodded. Dean knew that would be much easier said than done, but he'd be there for Sam, he'd find a way to distance Sam from his memories. He wouldn't let this happen again, not on his watch and he'd do whatever he could until his dying breath if need be.

"I must go back." Cas breathed out. "I need to regain my strength and I cannot do that here."

Dean understood. Cas was drained and needed to recharge his batteries in heaven, but before he could offer his thanks once again for restoring his brother back to him, the angel was gone.

Sam too looked exhausted, but held out a hand to Dean in a gesture for help up to his feet. Gladly, Dean took it and helped Sam off the floor, sliding an arm under his shoulders to support him when his legs turned rubbery.

"Whoa, big guy. Let's get you outta here."

Sam didn't argue and allowed Dean to lead him out of the room and to the car. Twenty miles later Sam was fast asleep, his head resting against the passenger side window. Dean glanced over to him, satisfied that he was at least safe for now and that's more than he could ask for right then. He had been so close to losing him for good this time...too close. Turning his vision back to the road up ahead, he sent up a quick prayer in the hopes that Cas might hear him and know just how much his actions in helping Sam meant to him. And not for the first time, Dean was glad to have this particular angel on his shoulder.

He whispered his gratitude to the air, not feeling in the slightest way awkward in doing it.

"Thanks, Cas."

The End