Dean had barely pieced together what had just happened, and was about to call Cas, when Sam reappeared suddenly.
His brother was perched on the edge of one of the beds, looking towards the headboard. What he was looking at Dean couldn't guess, but it wasn't really important either.
"Sammy? What the fuck...?"
Because that had been Gabriel, not two seconds ago, right?
Gabriel who had appeared, and said...oh fuck!...said 'wish granted' right after Sammy had wished that...
Dean felt like he was going to be sick.
What had happened? What had that insane fucking Archangel done?
He felt hands on his arms, and realised with a start that he was on the floor.
He was on the floor, and Sam...**Sam**...was leaning over him, clutching his arms tightly, calling his name, sounding quite panicked actually...
"Sam?" he managed, his voice sounding choked off even to his own ears. Sam's face blurred in front of him, and he tried to focus on what his brother...his brother who was *here*, whatever the fuck the Trickster had tried to do...was saying.
"...an...Dean? Shit, Dean you need to calm down and breathe, okay? I'm sorry - seriously, I'm sorry I ever said it, but you need to calm down, for me, please?"
Dean tried to take a deep breath...cringed when it shook...and tried again. His vision was still blurred - had he hit his head? Maybe, he didn't remember landing on the floor...he brought his hands up to try and clear his vision...they came away wet.
It took him a few seconds to realise what that meant.
It took him barely an instant after that to be furious about it. That stupid fucking asshole Archangel.
He resolutely ignored the part of him that really wanted to add his stupid-ass brother to that curse.
Sammy should've been safe to vent his feelings, however painful they might be to either him or Dean, without having to worry that some cowardly asshole with nothing better to do might make them reality.
That didn't matter right now though, because right now Sammy was here, and he was safe, and the few seconds he hadn't been might've been the absolute worst seconds of Dean's entire existence, including Hell, but he could deal with that later. Right now all he cared about was the relief that was threatening to explode from him, and the fact that Sam was within arm's reach.
Without another thought he launched himself at his brother, arms winding around to hug him with every ounce of strength he could dredge up.
Sam not dead totally merited the biggest chick-flick moment of his life, and one of the few he refused to feel any regret or embarrassment over.
Guilt hit Sam, hard, at Dean's reaction to his return.
His brother was...a mess...he was a terrified, relieved, panicked mess.
When Dean collapsed to the floor he rushed over, grabbing him by the arms.
When he saw the tears running down his brother's face, Sam felt it like a punch to the gut.
This was his fault. He'd done this to Dean.
Oh sure, it had been Gabriel that had taken him, but it had been his words that had hurt his brother. His stupid, selfish wish.
"Dean...Dean? Shit, Dean you need to calm down and breathe, okay? I'm sorry - seriously, I'm sorry I ever said it, but you need to calm down, for me, please?"
He was nearly knocked off his feet a moment later when Dean surged up suddenly, engulfing him in one of the most desperate hugs Sam had ever been part of.
He held on tightly in return, enjoying the rare opportunity to both comfort and be comforted by his big brother.
In that moment he knew that whatever else might happen, however the apocalypse ended, this was what made it worth it. This was what mattered, and this was what made him important, more than anything else he might do.
He was Dean's, and Dean was his - and that, he realised suddenly, was what Gabriel had been saying before he'd sent Sam back. That was why it had had to be them...was always going to have been them...because they made each other stronger.
He'd lost sight of that, become buried in his mistakes.
He'd forgotten what he was fighting to protect: not the whole world...just a little piece of it, the piece that was his family, his brother.
He sent a silent thank you to the Archangel.
He'd have to explain everything properly to Dean before Gabriel returned, but at least now they had a plan.
And for the first time in a long time, Sam had faith that it would all work out, and hope that they might succeed.