Ultimate Betrayal

Summary: Learning a disturbing secret behind Sam's recent violent nightmares, Dean must deal with a threat to not only his brother but also himself when he learns too much and becomes a hindrance to the plan of others. He must also deal with a shocking betrayal. Angsty/upset!Sam / protective!Dean (May include Spoilers for 7:18-Mommy Dearest

Tags/Warnings/Spoilers: It should be considered tagged to 7:18 Mommy Dearest since it contains details of the episode so that also means it may contain spoilers so be careful. Warnings include for language.

Pairings: Nope, never.

Disclaimer: I don't own them, I just write them for fun.

Author Note: This is the other tale that popped up after I watched Friday's episode. My evil mind is just spinning to think what Castiel is up to and this is one thing that came. I certainly hope that Cas does not fall too far but for fans of our resident Angel, please beware that this may not be the story for you though I don't think I paint him too bad and certainly leave it open to fix him,lol. Thanks in advance for reading and enjoy!

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"Damn fool idjit won't listen to reason until it bites ya in the ass!" Bobby Singer growled, slapping a glass down on his desk while glaring across from him. "I'm telling you that there is something seriously wrong with him and that was before he had to stick his hand in my damn gut to 'feel' my soul."

More than tired, Dean Winchester pushed his barely touched glass of whiskey back as he tried to stretch in the uncomfortable desk chair. "Bobby, Cas can be a dick lately but I can't see him being behind any of this crap."

"You admitted he's changed since this so-called War started. He's used you and your brother as bait or a distraction how many times and he sure as hell didn't seem all too fired happy when you got Sam's soul put back in," the older hunter growled, wondering if he pounded the boy's head into the desk if that would shake some brains loose. "Everything comes back to souls, Dean and now you're told that Crowley ain't dead even though Cas supposedly burned his bones? You've been a hunter long enough to put pieces together and 2+2 ain't coming up 4 in this case."

The elder Winchester did know this but it still bothered him to think that his friend, the Angel that had brought him back from Hell in the first place, the one who had risked his life for them, could have changed that much but still even Dean admitted there were several things that bothered him.

The Angels cold detachment for one. Castiel had always been stiff and too formal but he had loosened up until recently but Dean hadn't been paying attention to that over his concern for the cold change in his brother.

Finding out Sam didn't have a soul shook Dean up a lot so he admittedly hadn't been paying much attention to anything but getting said little brother's soul back though he supposed that was when he should've started paying attention because that was when Cas's attitude took a harder turn south.

A sound from the hall had both hunters glancing up as Sam entered the library appearing half-asleep and Dean guessed that's what his brother probably was since he'd been having trouble sleeping ever since they got back to Bobby's a few days ago from Oregon.

In fact, the nightmares on the way back from Oregon as they had to drive since their Angel transit system had vanished with same awkward excuse of looking into things.

Sam had fallen to sleep in the back seat after being unusually quiet and jumpy while Bobby drove with the excuse that even though he'd been healed Dean needed to rest since Eve had tried to take a chunk outta his neck to turn him into one her new Jefferson Starship things.

It had worked until the nightmare came out of nowhere to cause Sam to scream and begin thrashing violently in the backseat as if fighting something only he could see and the older hunter had nearly wrecked while trying to pull over so Dean could regain some control. It took him nearly an hour crouched in a crowded backseat trying to wake Sam up until he got his brother to understand who was with him and every bad dream after had just gotten worse until the point where Sam would only sleep soundly if his brother was near him.

What worried Bobby was that Sam was getting too quiet again. Something the boy only did when worried or scared and the fact that he'd also started to revert back to old habits told the older man that Sam was scared and he had a gut feeling that Dean wouldn't end up liking whatever it was.

"Had another one?" Dean asked casually, moving on instinct to reach for the old blanket Bobby kept tossed over a chair when Sam tried to stretch out on the sofa seat by the window that hadn't fit his 6'4" frame in a long while but he still slept on.

The one-shouldered shrug worried Dean more than a lack of a verbal reply since Sam normally gave those and one word replies when something was bothering him. Though in a way he guessed he shouldn't be surprised if his brother was upset since their last meeting with the Mother of All or Eve.

It had shaken Dean up more than he was willing to admit when she'd assumed the form of their late Mother and he knew that Sam would take that especially hard but instincts learned over years of watching his little brother told him that something else was also bothering Sam.

The little nervous habits or the way he moved or carried himself told Dean this was more than just the memories of being in the Cage or concern about what happened if the Great Wall of Sam fell. He'd noticed the way his brother kept reaching for the wrist that once wore the black rubber band like bracelet but he also noticed that when Sam was really on edge or just waking up his hand seemed to gravitate toward the pocket in the still oversized hoodie he'd once again taken to wearing since these had started.

"Wanna talk about it?" figuring what that answer would be, Dean was more than a little shocked when he'd gone to move and a hand shot out to grab his wrist.

That in itself wouldn't have bothered him but it was when he noticed how badly Sam was shaking that his concern spiked two notches and he sat back down. "Hey, how bad was this one?" he asked, worried when he also noticed that Sam was wearing a worn out hoodie that Dean thought had been tossed out years ago. "Sammy? Talk to me here. Something's been bugging you for days. Is it the nightmares or is it…damn it, when I asked you what you thought about Cas's behavior you looked like you wanted to say something but backed off. Give, little brother."

Sam stayed still for a long while in favor of eyeing his brother cautiously as if judging if it was safe to say anything. "I…no, I said it was nothing, Dean," he mumbled, starting to roll over when he was stopped by a hand on his neck. "I…remember."

"Balls," Bobby cursed bitterly, seeing the way Dean's back had gone rigid with those words and how lost Sam appeared. It reminded the older man of when the boys had been younger.

"Sammy, I told you not to dwell on…" Dean mentally kicked himself for not keeping a closer eye on his brother since he knew how easy the wall that Death installed to protect Sam's mind could tear. But it was when the younger man's hazel eyes shifted to look up at him with full puppy power that he got that it wasn't Hell or the Cage that he was remembering but something else. "What're you seeing, Sammy? Whatever it is, tell me," he urged in the tone reserved only for Sam, a tone he hadn't used much in a very long time and it was also something that Sam seemed to realize too because he seemed to be considering.

"I saw him," he whispered tightly, dropping his eyes down to the wrist he was instinctively reaching for as if to twist something that was once worn there. "I…saw Cas, Dean."

Frowning a little, Dean shot a confused glance back at Bobby before chuckling uneasily, not liking the way Sam was acting. "Umm, yeah. We see Cas every time he decides to drop in for a…"

"I saw Cas before…when I was first dragged out of the…and after, I think I heard him and Crowley talkin' with…Samuel and…" Sam cut in but his voice had begun to shake as he struggled to remember things that had been buried deep in his mind…but not by him. "This hurts, Dean. It's like I'm not supposed to remember but…and like something's trying to stop 'em…"

"You saw Cas?" Dean repeated, not liking this but what he honestly didn't like was how pale his brother was becoming the more he tried to tell him what he was remembering. "Sammy, look at me and tell me after Stull when was the first time you saw Castiel?" he demanded tightly, moving a hand to lightly grip Sam's neck in a familiar move that used to soothe his brother when nightmares would upset him.

Moving on the sofa seat in a way to get more comfortable, Sam didn't seem to relax until he felt Dean's hand squeeze his neck and he pulled the hoodie tighter around him as shady memories struggled to come through but an inner instinct seemed to be pushing them back. "I saw him…in Stull."

"Yeah, I know that but when after…" Dean rolled his eyes when trembling fingers gripped his wrist again and squeezed.

"Cas pulled me out of the Cage, Dean. Not Crowley," Sam stressed, locking eyes and was surprised when he didn't see disbelief but a building anger in his older brother's green eyes. Mistaking the anger as aimed at him, he began to pull back when the fingers tightened slightly on his neck to keep him still. "It's probably just bad dreams after all this or…"

"Tell me what you're seeing, Sam," this time Dean made certain to keep his voice steady and serious but dropped the tone to one that he hoped would reassure his brother that it wasn't him he was angry with. "Sammy, talk to me."

Reaching for the blanket in a way that alarmed Dean and Bobby, Sam closed his eyes and for a long while remained silent until he finally spoke. "The Cage…it's a blur and…"

"And we want to leave it like that."

"…and then I was just cold, confused and…wanting you when I realized I was out. God, I just wanted to see you and pray it was all a damn nightmare," Sam went on as if not hearing his brother's comment. "Then I heard Cas and I thought you were with him for a moment until…God, it hurt so much like my whole insides were on fire but I still didn't have the strength to move much less fight. Then…I…I couldn't feel anything, Dean.

"The next time I wake up I'm with Samuel who offers some lame excuse on why I was out, who he was, why he was alive and blah, blah, blah but still something felt off for me. I still wanted you. I just wanted to see you, make sure you were safe but Samuel kept coming up with reasons not to and then one night…" pushing up until he was sitting up, Sam moved back into the corner of the seat to try to draw one leg up with him. "One night I heard Samuel arguing with someone so I went to check it out and saw…Dean, he was arguing with Cas and Crowley over me. Over keeping me away from you so that you didn't figure things out but then the next thing I know I feel a burning in my lower back and nothing else from that moment until now."

Looking up with unshed tears, it was plain that Sam suspected why this was but wasn't willing to say it aloud or to his brother yet until he felt the strong hand move from his neck to his shoulder. "Every time I questioned something, it was like agony that night until finally it was like I was dead inside. I didn't care. I just wanted to hunt and I did what Samuel said without care but it was the night before they let the Djinns know where you were that I overheard him talking. I heard…Cas told him that while I was doing good at my job it was getting too hard to control me and it was time to bring you back. Samuel argued that you'd realize something was wrong but he said that he could handle you and if not…it would just be another soul to…"

The words broke and as soon as his little brother broke, the anger simmering inside Dean turned to cold rage but he pushed it down for the moment to soothe. "Sshh, hey, it's okay," he murmured, feeling Bobby close by but focusing on Sam as he carefully carded his fingers through sweat soaked hair. "It's okay now, little brother. You're safe. I'll take care of…whoa, who let the damn Djinns know where I was and why?"

"Crowley needed the monsters and Samuel was complaining that I was…getting too hard to control so…" Sam blinked as exhaustion began to set in now that he was talking.

Bobby had moved closer to the sofa in case either of the boys needed him but as Sam's voice dropped lower so only Dean could hear, he stepped back to give the brothers privacy but knew the moment the older boy's body language began to change that someone's blood would be shed before too much longer.

Letting Sam talk until he heard the first break in his voice, Dean did something that he hadn't in more years than he liked to recall. He reached out to grab his shaking younger brother and was only a little surprised when Sam latched on like he once had as a kid and on the day he first woke up after having his soul put back.

"Dean…Cas, he's your friend but…he did…he…" the words jumbled into all the recent events, from the returning of his soul to give him back emotions long buried, to thinking he was losing his brother to whatever mystery poison Eve created when she bit Dean to finally having memories that were obviously intentionally blocked surface. Sam finally crashed and just gave in and clung to his brother; willing to take the teasing he was sure would come but he only heard Dean's strong voice speaking to a soft, easy tone.

"I believe you, Sammy, and we'll handle it soon," Dean was saying, fighting to keep his voice even despite the immediate urge to hurt someone. "I will handle it soon. Go back to sleep. You'll be fine, the wall isn't falling and you're fine, little brother," he promised quietly, talking until he finally felt Sam's body start to relax and he felt it was safe to lay him down on the sofa seat.

Carding his fingers once again through hair that he suddenly realized was back in Sam's face and not pushed back as he had been wearing it, Dean swallowed hard. The way he noticed Sam had settled brought back bitter memories of their childhood when his brother had been scared.

He knew on instinct that he'd be waking up screaming again but at least now he knew what he was facing and he believed why Sam fought so much in those dreams. 'I just need to figure out how to handle it,' he thought to himself, reaching into the pocket of his jeans for something he'd retrieved from his duffel in the Impala and looking at the black rubber like band before easing it over Sam's clenched fist.

Both Winchester brothers once wore the black bands and while Dean admittedly had stopped wearing his along with the silver ring, he had always kept Sam's band, the very band he had found in his shirt pocket upon waking up after returning from Hell, close in case his brother asked for it.

Dean had never once asked Sam how he'd come to have it though he suspected. Now he just wanted the kid to have something that had once offered Sam security. He had one other object that could do that but it was in the trunk of the Impala as well and it would have to wait until he handled one other matter.

Looking down to see that Sam had drawn the blanket up much like he used to Dean's old battered leather jacket, he smoothed a hand over a trembling shoulder and gritted his teeth when his brother whimpered a name in his sleep to plead to be left alone.

"You're safe, Sammy. You're with me and Bobby and they'll have to kill me before anything or anyone touches you again," he vowed firmly, eyes shooting to the window as if seeing or sensing something in the darkened junkyard. "Sonuvabitch."

"Dean, don't go off half-cocked," Bobby warned even as the younger man was shoving to his feet and stalking toward the front door. "Dean! What the hell did Sam tell you?" he demanded, having only gotten bits and pieces of the exchange and what he had heard hadn't made him happy. "Dean!"

Jerking two things from the bag he'd taken to bringing inside lately rather than leave it in the car, Dean shoved both things under his denim jacket before giving his brother another look and still hearing everything he'd said but more importantly he'd heard what hadn't been said. It was those things, things that he knew Sam still couldn't bring to light, that made him livid.

"Stay with Sam, Bobby," he growled, eyeing the Devil's Trap in the ceiling but knowing it wouldn't work this time. "If anyone comes in that isn't me, hell I don't give a damn if it is me, if you can't verify it someway, you gut shoot the son of a bitch with iron or slap a bloody hand over the mark by Sam."

A quick look showed the grizzled hunter that sometime while soothing his brother, Dean had cut himself somehow to scrawl a tiny sigal near where Sam slept. The very sign sent Bobby's alarms up. "Dean! Where the hell you goin'?"

"To burn my friend back to where he dragged me out of if I don't get a damn good answer!" Dean snapped, barely avoiding slamming the front door but he didn't want Sam involved in this so he chose to unlock the trunk of the Impala first to be sure the item in question was still where he'd buried it before allowing the festering rage and feelings of betrayal build. Finally, he whirled to slam his fist into the side of the lean-to Bobby had built years ago. "Goddamn, son of a bitch!" he roared, hearing Sam and picturing his little brother the night he would've been dragged from that damn Cage.

Always having a vivid imagination, Dean had no problem seeing what his brother described but it was what Sam said and probably didn't understand that Dean had latched onto. His scared, mentally and probably physically traumatized little brother had still had his soul intact when he was pulled back from that damn hole in the ground. He'd had his soul until pieces of it were slowly drained away in order to control him, to make him into the perfect hunter for someone else's purposes. Sam had kept his soul until…

"Dean Winchester Rule #1 has always been, screw with my little brother and I rip the bastard a new head," he nearly snarled, fists clenched as he kept facing the open trunk rather than the body that he had sensed was around long ago. "No one, I don't give a crap if it's a demon, a wraith, a witch or a goddamn Angel, screws with Sam and expects to have a high life expectancy if I ever find out about it. Did you think I wouldn't ever find out about this…Cas?"

After having avoided Dean since leaving him, Sam and Bobby in Oregon to check on the rumors of Crowley being alive, Castiel had felt the change the past several nights and tried to stop the outcome but realized with recent events he wouldn't be able to and could only hope to stem the flood.

"Find out what, Dean?" he asked stoically, not taking a step toward the enraged hunter and was glad that he hadn't when Dean whirled on him with fury shining from bright green eyes.

"You've been lying to me over a lot of crap from the moment we met and I thought you'd stopped but you do not get to try that on me over this!" he snapped, resisting the urge to throw the punch that was his basic instinct since he knew he'd only hurt himself. "What was it? Yanking us back from the past or having Mommy screw up your powers? Was it that that made you too weak to keep the shields or whatever it was up?"

Knowing that Dean kept Holy Oil in the trunk, Castiel was cautious about advancing but knowing he had to try to calm the young man down some. "Dean, you're tired and obviously upset after having Eve take on the appearance of…"

The blade of an Angel killing knife appeared and halted his platitudes. "You do not ever mention my Mother," he gritted, fist tight on the knife he'd kept one time. "And don't try to con me into calming down because you knew as soon as I found out that I'd be coming for someone's head and right now, right now yours is as good as any. You knew as soon as Sam told me, as soon as those nightmares hit him and I found out that I'd be wanting blood now you tell me why."

"Why what, Dean?" the trench coat wearing Angel asked in calm but realistic tone.

Narrowing his eyes dangerously, Dean glared at what he had still considered his friend. "Oh, let's start with why did you think I wouldn't get suspicious enough to start asking questions? Why did you think I'd go on buying this 'War in Heaven and for the greater good' crap after you used Sammy and me as bait for that damn Angel assassin so you could get your hands on those weapons that Balthazar had? Why am I not supposed to doubt you after you burned Crowley, really too quickly by the way, only to find out he's not dead and still ganking monsters and finally…and this is the huge one, Cas…" he paused a second to settle his shaking hands as emotions threatened to erupt. "Why in the hell did you think you could touch my brother and me not find out about it?"

"You asked me to touch, Sam, Dean," Castiel pointed out seriously, taking a step toward the young hunter but pausing the moment the blade shifted. "You wanted me to find out what was…"

Laughing a short bitter laugh, Dean felt like giving in and just lighting what was at his back but held off for a moment longer even though he was getting angrier with every word the Angel used. "Sam saw you, Cas!" he shouted furiously, watching carefully and wasn't disappointed in what he saw come over the normally blank face of his friend. "He saw you the night you yanked him back from the Cage. You, not Crowley because it never made sense to me why Crowley would bring my brother back but you…yeah, that I could see but I don't get this."

"Dean, Sam's been under a lot of pressure since his return and since you insisted he have that warped, twisted thing put back in after what was done to it I'm sure he's been more…Dean!"

"I've taken a lot from you jackasses but you don't get to call my baby brother a damn liar and especially not about this," Dean growled, anger turning quickly to sick betrayal as things started to make more sense. "I know you people up top, hell even some of my own, think I'm stupid. That I don't have the brains to think with much less come to any real conclusions so how does this sound to you oh, Sheriff of Heaven?

"God goes MIA, you fail to find him. You get pissed off when he basically says to leave him alone but I wonder how much of that mess was just Zach screwing with my head to finish breaking me and Sam. Cause I know tossing that amulet was the worst thing I've ever done and I'll never forgive myself for that or for hurting Sam by tossing it but let's stay on my topic…" Dean eyed the Angel seriously while leaning against the car.

"Michael and Lucifer get locked in the Cage, Heaven's open. Now maybe God brought you back after Lucifer blew you up but I wonder how much your Dad would be pissed if he knew what you kids were doing with his toys or that you've decided to go power hungry. That's what it is, ain't it?

"Rafael is older, more powerful…he's a freakin' Archangel so maybe to get him out of the picture you needed help. You need more juice than you and what pals you got have so you decide to make a deal with the King of Deals to get 'em. I can't understand what deal you and Crowley could've made but I know that Crowley couldn't have given Samuel what he wanted because my Mom should've been in your area, not his," Dean paused a second before going on. "You pulled Sam out of the Cage but not outta the goodness of your heart or even for me, you did it because you needed a goddamn hunter of his skill to help find monsters for Crowley and because every person Sam killed you got the damn soul but that ain't all you did, is it Cas? Sammy came out of that Cage whole, intact and scared out of his mind. He would've trusted you and you screwed him over."

Seeing it now, Dean finally understood why the Angel was hesitate to getting Sam's soul back and why he was so furious when Death did the deed. "Oh, I'm sure in the brief time he was in the Cage that Michael and Lucifer did a job on him but I bet Death didn't get my brother's soul outta the Cage. He got it from YOU! You touched my brother, you took the one thing that made him whole and turned him into something cold and unfeeling. You, not Crowley, did all that. You kept him away from me until Samuel couldn't control him anymore and you knew I could but you just didn't plan on me surviving too long to figure out what was wrong with Sammy, did you? Feel free to cut in anytime you want to argue, Cas."

"Sam was a better hunter more attuned to the modern world than Samuel so he was more important up here than locked in the Cage," the Angel sighed, shifting a foot in the dirt of the junkyard before lifting his gaze to meet the pained one of the hunter. "Death, when he told you to keep looking into the Souls because they were the key, knew the situation but he's more about the natural order of things rather than the greater…"

"I swear, if you spout off about that greater good again I will so Holy Oil your ass outta here," Dean snapped, waving the tip of the blade to make his point. "You're not denying anything I said, Cas. You…I trusted you. I gave you every benefit of the freakin' doubt and you hurt my brother? Why?" he demanded, pushing away from the car. "Hasn't that kid suffered enough? He stopped the damn Apocalypse. He saved the world and what's he get out of it? His soul ripped out to be used a battery in some war? Why? Oh and if you try to give me some lame ass line just remember that this is Sammy we're talking about and I will kill for him."

"Even after he allowed you to be turned into a vampire?" Castiel cocked his head curiously as he gazed at his friend but missed the way Dean's body language changed from furious to pissed until he was in his face.

The mere mention of that night could still make Dean Winchester see red, especially since he's learned what he has. Having the Angel throw it up now was more like throwing fuel on an already raging fire. "My brother, the little brother I raised, that I went to Hell for, didn't do that or any of the crap he did that last year and you damn well know it," he gritted, fists clenching unconsciously in the trench coat's lapels. "You took what made him human, you cost him a year of his life by taking that and you wiped his mind so he wouldn't remember you doing it. You still haven't denied it, Cas. Start denying or I Molotov your ass back to Heaven the fast way."

"Sam's soul, even after all he had done with Ruby and anything, was still one of the purest we'd seen in millennia, Dean. We're not certain why it didn't taint or why it remained so bright but aside from some minor bruising your brother's soul survived his time in the Cage very well. It was more his mind that was hurt," Castiel began slowly, not bothering to deny it or lie to the mortal who was facing him since he knew that Dean had learned too much now to be able to be swayed. "When Balthazar told you the price of the human soul was worth more than gold he was correct. Human souls, especially the pure, are very powerful and…I know this appears bad to you but…"

"Uhhh, let's weigh this out, Cas," Dean held out both hands as if holding a scale. "Siding with the goddamn new King of Hell, the son of a bitch who took Bobby's soul or you screwing with my brother's soul and mind wiping him? Which one do you think is pissing me off more?"

"I would have done my best to protect Sam's soul from true harm, Dean but his would have been powerful enough to turn the tide in our favor only…." the Angel seemed to hesitate as if gauging his words when a sharp eyebrow winged up and he knew by the familiar snort that came the moment that Dean understood.

"Only I got involved too much. I didn't take the hint and back off despite you saying that Sam was fine when I first asked you and…" this time when Castiel's dark eyes lowered, the hunter's sense of betrayal reached a climax. "And I survived the Djinn attack, the vampires, the fairies and when dear old Gramps sold us out to Crowley. I survived to find Death and restore the one soul you wanted so badly. I got Sammy's back and that's when it all hit the fan. Goddamn it, I was supposed to die wasn't I, Cas?"

Sighing, the Angel turned away to gaze at the house in the distance before closing his eyes. "Only if you got in the way," he confessed quietly, hearing the breath hiss out and was quick to go on. "Dean, we needed you to try to gain some control of Sam because while he was the near perfect hunter he didn't care who or what he killed and some things needed to be left in place. I knew you could do that and originally it was thought to leave a tiny piece of the soul intact so that Sam wasn't completely devoid of all emotion because I did know you'd notice the difference immediately but…problems arose that made this impossible and that's also why it was needed to…alter Sam's memories."

"Yeah, I bet," Dean snorted, knowing all too well what that meant. "Sam never stopped asking questions or asking for me and he found out what you and Crowley were up to with Samuel," he guessed knowingly, fingers tightening around the hilt of the blade. "If I look at Sam's back, really look, I'll find the mark won't I, Cas? Sam described the pain he felt that one night and what he felt in Stull after he got out. The latter was when you first touched his soul but the back pain…Crowley teach you some of Alastair's old tricks because I know the pain he described to me. If I find that mark on my little brother and you put it there after taking the rest of his soul and blocking his memories of what he'd heard, all bets are off," he growled in a low tone. "You can try to take me out, try to kill me but you do not touch my brother so if his nightmares now are a way of hurting him…dude, back the hell off and leave Sammy alone."

"Dean, I asked you not to put it back in Sam. That if you did you would be better off killing him," Castiel reminded the hunter grimly, slowly removing a hand that he'd kept in the pocket of his ever present coat. "Death's wall was put up more to protect Sam from not only the memories of his short time in Hell but also to protect him from remembering having his soul removed and what needed to be done so he didn't remember. It will fall because Sam's soul is still vital to this battle and…I don't want this to be a battle between us."

"Try to touch Sam or even Bobby and we're done," Dean warned seriously, knowing if his so-called friend went cosmic on him then there'd be nothing he could do to protect his brother. "You had Balthazar save the Titanic just to create more souls for your war, you have some deal with Crowley and who knows what else going on in this 'war' you have going up there. I think you have plenty of power sources without needing my brother, Cas. Stop the nightmares, stop coming into his dreams because that's what you're doing," he realized now why Sam fought so much in his sleep. "You're entering his mind when he sleeps just like you used to do to me and like Anna did that one time. You're trying to break him, to force that wall to fall so that if he does go mental you can swoop in to claim his soul. Not ever happening while I'm still breathin'."

An eerie silence settled on the junkyard before Castiel finally came to a reluctant choice. "I suppose I made the same error that Uriel or Zachariah did with you," he mused grimly, glancing over his shoulder at Dean. "I underestimated your love and devotion to your brother. I considered the separation you two have dealt with these past few years so I thought it may make it easier but you will never give up on him, will you?"

"I've raised that kid since I was four, Cas. I let all you dicks and your troubles come between us but I will never give up on Sammy," Dean replied, stepping away from the Impala since he sure as hell didn't want his baby scratched if what was coming was what he guessed it was. "You and Crowley can fight your little war in Heaven or whatever it is you two have cooking but me and Sam…we're out of it. We're hunters and that's what we'll do but I can't trust you and I will never trust you with my brother again so…we're done, Cas. Now, take your best shot cause I know you and I know you're gonna try for Sammy again. That ain't happening."

"It already is, Dean," Cas told him grimly, looking at the house grimly. "I'm sorry but I need Sam's soul and I can't have you involved so…" lifting his hand to make the Angel killing blade fly away into the distance he shrugged. "It'll be quick."

Swearing under his breath, Dean's hand closed on his Plan B a second before the bright light flamed out and he knew after watching what the Angel had done to others that this was it for him. 'I'm sorry, Sammy,' he whispered silently, giving his last thought to his brother before bracing himself for either the agony of having his eyes burned out or just to die when he felt something warm in his jacket pocket and suddenly it was the bright light that should've burned him out of existence was cancelled out.

"Huh," he muttered upon opening his eyes to see that he was still in one piece and if Dean gauged Castiel's expression as anything, it was clear the Angel was also shocked by this development. "So, I guess that wasn't supposed to happen?" he asked, reaching into his pocket to see what he'd felt when his breath caught at what his fingers closed on. "Sonuvabitch."

Pulling his hand from his pocket, Dean's eyes stared at the familiar golden amulet that laid in his palm. The last time he had seen the amulet was the day he let it fall from his hand into a trashcan in some motel. This amulet had been the one thing Sam had given him that Dean had always kept and treasured until the Angels had pushed him too far and he'd lost that final bit of faith in himself and in Sam.

There were only two other times that Dean had been without this amulet. When he'd been in Hell since Bobby had told him later that Sam had finally broken into tears fully when removing the item from Dean before burying him and then when he'd lent it to Castiel in his search for God.

Looking at it now, Dean's green eyes misted briefly before closing his fingers tightly around it as he recalled feeling Sam's fingers clutching at that pocket earlier in the night which reminded him to find out how long his pesky little brother had been carrying the amulet around…assuming they both survived the night.

"Did you give it to him?" he asked the still stunned Angel, looking up as the sound of a shotgun was heard from the house and his concern tripled.

"No, I haven't seen that since…since you threw it away," Castiel admitted, not understanding but also knowing he needed to handle this as he pulled his own knife. "I'm sorry, Dean."

"Yeah, you and me both, Cas," Dean muttered, seeing the other blade several feet away but knowing he'd never get close to it but for the sake of Sam and Bobby had to try. "Cause I'm not letting anyone hurt Sam again."

Igniting the bottle of Holy Oil he stuck a rag in, he tossed it at the Angel at the same moment he threw himself to the ground in a forward roll that should've taken him right to the other blade. Cursing violently as a wave of power deflected the hastily made Molotov and threw him into a pile of sharp metal pieces.

"Cas, you can win this war without selling yourself!" he tried one final time to be reasonable, ignoring the burning pain he'd gotten from something in the pile when a light reflected off the blade as it hesitated only briefly before it started down only to freeze as if something had grabbed it.

"Enough, Castiel."

Both Angel and Hunter looked toward the voice that spoke, a voice that belonged to the slim arm of a petite appearing woman dressed all in white with flowing blond hair but whose blue eyes shined with a power that seemed to even out match Castiel.

"The hunters are not to be touched by His command," she finished, offering Dean a small smile that seemed to soothe not only his anxiety but also the burning pain in his back. "You really have fallen off the beaten path, haven't you, Cas?"

"Ariel, why are you here?" Castiel demanded, stepping back as the woman appeared between him and Dean. "This isn't your…"

"The last Angel of your rank to talk down to me became something furry, Castiel," she replied coolly, narrowing her eyes as she and the Angel had an exchange of silent words. "While God may not be at home he most certainly knows what's happening but that also doesn't change certain things and that Dean and Sam Winchester are under the protection of me and others…after all, that is what Guardian Angels do."

Dean had managed to pull himself to his feet shakily while this exchange was going on but the final words struck home. "I thought all Angels were like Guardian Angels," he caught Castiel's wince as the woman laughed in an almost musical way.

"There are many levels of Angels, Dean," Ariel told him, keeping an eye on Castiel. "Leave and be warned that if you or any other strike at these boys, especially the younger one, it will not be Rafael who rains Hell down on your head if you do not change your path soon, Cas," she warned firmly then waited as it to see what the Angel would do.

Glancing between them, Castiel slowly nodded before meeting Dean's eyes a final time. "We shared many a hard time and I do not want you as my enemy, Dean but I must do what needs to be done to win this," he replied before vanishing.

"So will I, Cas," Dean muttered, looking down at what was in his hand again before slipping it back on over his head to feel a familiar weight settle back against his chest when another thought struck. "Sammy."

"Castiel and his ally sent others after the boy," Ariel declared, laying a soothing hand on his arm to stop him when Dean went to bolt for the house. "Your brother is safe, Dean but you must take care because you both are in grave danger and there is only so much we can do without direct orders."

Uneasy with the thought of both Guardian Angels and the fact that supposedly God had sent one tonight, Dean was more worried about Sam and Bobby back at the house and with one final glance at the willowy form of the woman who smiled calmly before also vanishing, he broke into a full run after snagging something from the trunk.

"Sam! Bobby!" hitting the front door hard, Dean had pulled his gun the second he crossed the threshold to find a demon with his eyes burned out lying on the floor. "Sammy!" he shouted again, panic beginning to set in when he looked into the library to see two other demons and what he recognized as an Angel also dead but his brother and their friend were no where in sight.

Whirling to look around the room, Dean caught the sight of blood on the floor by the sofa seat and felt his stomach drop as fears began to swirl when he sensed movement to his side and brought his Colt up to bear on… "Sammy."

"Dean," lowering the shotgun he was holding, Sam stepped into the library with a slight limp that his brother immediately noticed but then the tension on his face turned to relief, dropping the weapon to take a shaky step forward only to sway a second before strong hands grip his arms.

"Whoa there, Sasquatch, take it easy," Dean had taken one look and knew his brother was hurt and still shaky when he saw him begin to go down and grabbed him.

Aiming him toward a chair, Dean felt Sam twist and stayed silent when his brother turned to grab him into a full hug that told of Sam's unease and his relief that Dean was back inside. "They said he was going to kill you, Dean. That you were dead and…"

"I'm fine, Sammy," Dean assured his brother, returning the hug without his usual comment on chick-flickery when he felt how much Sam was shaking. "Where's Bobby, Sam?" he asked, running a hand slowly down Sam's back to check for any wounds but found none though he did feel the boy tense when he touched a spot and Dean's facial muscles ticked. "Sam?"

"I thought I was done having demons bust in my house," Bobby groused as he stomped in, wiping blood off his hands when he shot the older Winchester a hard look. "We at odds with Angels again too?"

Glancing at the bodies to the older hunter, Dean only shrugged while easing Sam back to look at his eyes to gauge his shock level. "We're…on the fringe," he replied, sitting down on the sofa seat with Sam and hissed as his back reminded him of the pile of metal he'd been tossed into. "You bleedin', Sam?"

"One got a lucky cut in before I was awake all the way," Sam shrugged then his eyes noticed what his brother was wearing and swallowed hard. "You…found it."

Taking a couple minutes to figure out what he meant, Dean nodded after he noticed where his brother's hazel eyes were fixated while Bobby went for the first aid kit. "Yeah and if I didn't know better I'd say it saved my life cause I thought for sure I was crispy fried hunter but then the amulet got warm and shot the light back at…" he stopped before saying the name but knew the moment Sam tensed that he knew. "Sam, listen to me. It's going to be alright."

"Why would Cas go bad, Dean?" he asked quietly, reaching out to touch his brother's amulet to actually feel a warmth in his fingers. "I thought he was our…your friend. Why would he…?"

"I think it's more complicated than we can see right now, Sam," Dean sighed, not saying anything about what Sam was doing as he eased back the cut in his brother's jeans a few inches above his right knee to see a nasty cut. "Who killed the Angel, by the way?"

Blinking as something stung the cut, Sam shot Bobby a sour look but didn't move in time to prevent the older man from tearing the material further in order to look at it better while Dean sat back with him. "Umm, something I think I imagined actually," he muttered, embarrassed to tell his brother what he thought his saw until Bobby snorted.

"A four-foot red headed girl no more than eighteen who came in and mopped the floor with it as easily as you idjits do demons," the older man told him, shrugging. "Told the Angel goon her name was Loraleigh and she was sent by the boss. Then she said Sam was off limits and that if she had to step in again she was kicking Angel butt from here to Tuscon. Kinda spunky. I liked her."

"You would," Dean muttered good naturedly, wincing as he took his jacket off but didn't want Sam to see his wounds yet. "Sam, how'd you get the amulet?" he asked quietly, reaching for his brother's hand to offer some distraction when he saw Sam tense as Bobby got ready to stitch his leg.

Staring at the gold amulet he'd given Dean when his brother had been twelve one Christmas, Sam considered a moment before shrugging. "Chuck gave it to me right after I got back. Said he figured you'd want it back soon."

"You…you saw Chuck?" that was a shock since not even Dean could find the author/would-be Prophet of the Lord after he'd last talked to him right after Lucifer possessed Sam in Detroit. "How'd…how'd he get it?"

"He didn't say, just that he knew you'd want it back and that you'd need it. Tonight I…I put it in your pocket cause it was like I knew you should have it," he yawned then let his eyes go between his brother and the bodies that Bobby would salt and burn later. "It…kept you safe. Told ya it was good luck."

Pushing back his doubts and concerns, Dean smiled as he let his fingers move easily back through Sam's hair in a way he'd done as a kid as he recognized a tone that he hadn't heard in years. "Yeah, Sammy, you told me. Now let's get you upstairs then I'll help Bobby with this mess."

"Bobby is in the damn room and can handle salting and burning a few bodies, idjit," the older man growled, rolling his eyes while locking eyes with Dean before nodding to Sam in silent message to stay with him. "Get upstairs, get him settled and take a shower so I can fix whatever the hell you tore up when I'm done."

Never shocked at how brusque Bobby could be one moment and worried the next, Dean nodded. Helping Sam to his feet and remembering how difficult the kid could be to move when off balance, tired or hurt. "C'mon, Sammy. You can tell me all about this girl who mopped Angel butt while you and Bobby probably did nothing."

Bobby watched the brothers up the steps to the second floor before eyeing his next chore and recalling the exact words of the now dead Angel, he knew the coming months weren't going to be easy or safe for his two favorite idjits. "Balls," he growled in disgust, eyeing the ceiling to wonder how hard it would be to put up an anti-Angel sigal.

Dean waited to be sure that the stitches in Sam's leg would hold after the move upstairs and that his brother appeared to be sleeping before taking a quick shower. Twisting to examine his back in the mirror, he noticed that the few cuts he'd gotten were shallow and wouldn't need stitches but it was when his eyes looked for a small scar at the base of his spine that his fists clenched.

Stepping back into the bedroom the boys had always shared while at Bobby's, Dean dressed before stepping over to sit beside his brother and noticed that he'd flopped onto his stomach like he normally did when upset or worried.

Being careful to not wake Sam, he reached out slowly to lift the back of Sam's t-shirt and with knowing eyes he located what he'd been hoping he wouldn't. The same tiny mark he carried on his own back, which had been a gift from Hell's torture rack, was on his little brother. Only he knew Alastair hadn't caused this. Someone he'd called friend had because Dean's involvement with Angels had taught him to recognize one's handiwork and he recognized Castiel's on this.

"De'n?" sleepily, Sam shifted so he could watch his brother. "I don't want…I'm scared," he admitted through a yawn. "Worrying about the wall in my head, now Cas turning on us and finding out that he…it's not over, is it?"

Rubbing a hand over Sam's shoulder in reassurance, Dean made sure to keep his voice calm. "That wall is fine, Sammy and Cas ain't coming near you again," he promised firmly, keeping his hand on his younger brother until he felt him relax a little before reaching for what he'd gone back downstairs to retrieve. "We're gonna stay out of all this Angel war crap and you got the word of your awesome big brother, I am keepin' you safe and killin' every evil son of a bitch who comes near us."

Silent for a long while as if considering that, Sam finally smiled. "Thanks, Dean," he murmured, finally feeling safe enough to sleep and confident that his nightmares wouldn't come back…at least for a long while.

"That's what big brothers are for, little brother," Dean replied quietly, voice thick with emotions he hadn't had to deal with since he and Sam had become strained. Now, knowing that Sam's fears weren't all from his time in the Cage, the old big brother feelings were coming back and he made a silent vow to keep his brother safe. "Go to sleep, Sam. I'll be here with you."

Hearing a mumble as a reply, Dean sat next to Sam until he was sure he was asleep and then gently laid the battered leather jacket that he hadn't worn since losing his brother in Stull Cemetery over Sam. He was relieved when his brother instinctively drew it around him as he once had whenever Dean would let him use it or when it was still their Dad's. Frowning as he strained to hear the next whispered words, Dean swallowed before squeezing the shoulder closest to him. "Yeah, Sammy. Right back at you and I will so remind you of all this chick flick crap later."

"You got a plan on how to handle Cas?" Bobby asked from the door where he'd been watching the brothers for the last couple minutes.

Standing to ease down on his own bed, Dean stretched out to close his eyes with a weary sigh. "Yeah, we find a way to either bring him back down to Earth so to speak and pray he's being controlled by Crowley or someone else or…" he paused to blow out a resigned breath. "Or we end it because no one hurts my brother and lives. We burn Crowley and if I can't save Cas then God help me Bobby but I'll burn Cas too and we'll save the damn planet again but this time I'm signing off any contact with Angels," he vowed tightly, giving a final look toward Sam before exhaustion won out and he fell to sleep himself.

Bobby stayed in the room for over an hour as if wanting to be sure the boys were safe. Before leaving he checked the windows, the devil's traps he'd installed in the room and the other wards of protection since he was no longer taking chances.

He'd lost a good friend already in Rufus Turner but he would be damned if he'd suffer the loss of Sam or Dean again. Heading downstairs, he went to the basement to get started on some extra protection spells for the house and the boys, only this time he'd be making them against the very Angel he'd always thought he could trust them with. "Damn featherbrain was always too stupid for simple things like cell phones so who would've thought he'd turn psycho on my boys," he growled in disgust.

Waking once when he heard a low rumble from the basement, Dean grumbled as he rolled over to be sure Sam was safe and grinned upon seeing that Sam had rolled toward him but had kept the leather jacket pulled around him. "G'night, Sammy…assuming Bobby doesn't blow us up with whatever it is he's making downstairs," he muttered, reaching for the amulet to be sure it was still there but stayed awake to watch his brother since he didn't plan on being caught unawares again and he needed to be there in case Sam woke up.

"Dean? Will I lose it again?" a sleepy voice asked from the bed next to his, but the tone reminded Dean of when Sam was younger and looking for answers to the questions no one wanted to give him. "I don't want to lose my soul again and hurt you."

Wishing yet again that he could always protect his brother from the things they'd grown up fighting, Dean Winchester took a moment to gather his thoughts and to be his voice was steady before meeting tired hazel eyes. "You're not gonna lose your soul again, Sammy and you won't ever hurt me again. I'll be by you and we'll face this crap together. Now, go back to sleep…bitch."

"Jerk," came the instant response and both brothers seemed to understand they'd crossed a final barrier in any issues that might have still been between them and Sam fell back to sleep with confidence that the protection he'd always had since childhood was still there.

A slow smile formed as Dean closed his eyes again and missed the glow of his amulet as a thin shadow formed in the corner to watch them for a moment before muttering about stupid Angels not knowing when to quit. "I'll do what I can, guys. Just watch your backs," he murmured to the silent room before poofing out after making sure the Winchesters would be safe for the night.

The End