A/N: Set sometime around or after Season 4, I guess. I don't really know (but it doesn't really matter so).

"Fair's fair, you know," Crowley said, completely serious. Dean searches his face for even a hint of mockery but finds none. "You Winchesters have died over and over again, and been brought back to life for as many times. It's unnatural. It upsets the balance of things."

"He won't come," Dean said. "I haven't seen him in months." He didn't even show up when Sam died, Dean thought, not without a trace of something that has long since changed from bitter to hollow.

"He'll come if you ask," Crowley said. "Just get him down. And Sam is back."

But Sam.

Dean tips his head back to gaze at the clear blue sky, misted slightly with clouds, the sun comfortably hot on his back after a week of dreary overcast weather, and thinks of how wrong the world is, that his little brother should be dead and an angel's head be the price of bringing him back.

But Sam has been the one constant in his life. There's only been two other times Dean has been without Sam at his side, and both of them have been hell. One of them, literally.

Crowley looks at him with an air that reminds Dean of a car salesman. "It's up to you, really," he says, right on cue, and turns away a little. And damn if Dean's heart doesn't stutter a little in panic at his chance slipping away, even if he knows it's just a pretense, a hook to reel him in. "I'll be watching," Crowley says, and vanishes.

Dean stands there alone for a moment, motionless, his heart beating to the rhythm of could have's and should have's and wants. But he's a Winchester through and through, and though he knows that family doesn't end with blood, there's nothing on Earth Dean wouldn't do for his little brother, to save him from the agony he knows all too well.

"Hey Cas?" Dean calls softly towards the heavens. "I need to talk to you."

Even betraying someone he—