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Dean gripped the steering wheel tightly and glanced again at Sam. Sleeping.
Holy shit, it seemed like a long time since Sam's head had been slumped against the passenger window, his eyes actually closed, his chest rising and falling in a gentle rhythm only occasionally interrupted by a quiet snort, or snuffle.
Dean was half-tempted to pull the car over just to watch him, for awhile. When he remembered that phone call from the hospital…and then, finally, talking to Sam, seeing Sam…crap. Just…crap.
They had both been through so much, had been so close to the edge so many times — but Dean had never seen Sam pushed over, before. Never seen Sam give up. Even when Sam jumped into the pit — it was his choice; not a choice he wanted to make, not a choice that made either of them happy — but he jumped. It wasn't an exhausted fall into insanity.
In that hospital room, Sam had looked him in the eye — and prepared to jump over the edge.
Dean grimaced, his thoughts wandering, against his will, to Cas. Cas — that was just all kinds of crazy, all kinds of wrong. His old friend hadn't given him a choice, he hadn't explained what he was going to do — heal Sam by shifting the horror into himself. Not for the first time, Dean wondered what he would have said, if Cas had told him.
God, he had missed Cas so much. Dean had transferred that bloody, torn trenchcoat from car-to-car for months, unable to part with it. Cas had come into Dean's life at a time when he felt betrayed by Sam, the only friend he had ever allowed himself to have, and before he knew it, Cas was his friend. When Cas had betrayed them all, managing to almost fatally break Dean's brother in the process, it had almost finished Dean. He did not trust easily — and apparently, there was good reason for that — but he had trusted Cas.
And then Dean had found Cas again, the old Cas, had found him when he wasn't even looking. It was awkward, sure — even without Meg it would have been an awkward situation. But then Cas remembered, and Dean allowed himself to remember, and it could have been all right, again (at least as all right as things ever were for a Winchester.)
He glanced once more at Sam, almost uneasily this time. What would he have said, if Cas had told him his plan? Dean swallowed convulsively, looking back at the road. Would he have begged Cas to do it, to do anything he could to save Sam? No doubt, for most of his life, he would have…but there was a time…there was a time when he would have begged Cas to stay with him instead, to help him find another way.
He banged his fist on the steering wheel, cursing under his breath. He wanted them both — why couldn't he have them both? He had lost so much, already — Dad, Pastor Jim, Lisa, Ben, Bobby — why did he have to lose even more?
Sam shifted, lifting his head from the window, and Dean silently berated himself for making noise. "We'll stop soon," he said. "You can get some real sleep."
Sam yawned. "I'm good in the car," he answered. "Go back to the cabin. I want to do some research. There has to be something we can do for Cas."
Dean clenched his jaw until it ached. "Don't think so, Sammy ," he ground out. He could feel Sam looking at him, but he kept his eyes on the road. It was so long before Sam spoke again, Dean had almost decided that his brother had gone back to sleep, and he jumped a little when Sam started speaking.
"I've…done things," Sam said slowly. "Demon blood. Ruby. Lilith." He snickered, suddenly and sarcastically, and Dean glanced his way, a little apprehensive.
Sam shrugged. "My judgment has not always been sound. Maybe…maybe that's why it's easier for me. To forgive him."
Dean spotted a roadside motel, and steered the car into the lot. "I know it's early, but you really need some down time, Sam."
Sam blinked at the Vacancy sign. "Dean. He made a mistake — and then he did his best to make it right. We still owe him. I still owe him." Sam's voice took on a stubborn firmness that Dean found all-too-familiar. "I will not leave him with Lucifer."
Dean hesitated, his hand on the door handle. This was the Sam he wanted back. Chick-flick, fully souled, Sam.
"I pretty much looked at everything Bobby kept at the cabin," he muttered, then waited.
He didn't have to wait long. "I'm better at research than you are" Sam said confidently. "Plus, Bobby used to talk to me about stuff. Maybe I'll be able to put something together." Sam turned on the seat, more fully facing his brother. "Dean. It's Cas. I know what he means to you. Let me try to help him — help you."
Dean closed his eyes, tightening his grip on the door, grounding himself. "He didn't tell me," he whispered, brokenly, confessing all. "I don't know what I would have done, if he had."
He kept his eyes squeezed shut, but he felt the breeze as Sam's hand almost touched him, then pulled away. "I know," Sam answered with quiet assurance. "I know, Dean. Let's go to the cabin."
Dean slowly opened his eyes, and exhaled the breath he had been holding. God, he loved Sam.
And he wanted them both.
He shifted the idling car into gear. "Yeah," he said, then stopped to clear his throat. "Yeah, okay. You…you get some more sleep. We'll go to the cabin."
Sam smiled as he curled toward the window again. "Good," he said. "You'll see, Dean —we'll fix this. You'll see."