Disclaimer: I own nothing. No copyright infringement intended.

Thanks go to SnarkyMuch2 for beta'ing this and for her general awesomeness.

Chapter Six

When Dean got back to the hospital, he parked the car in the parking lot and made his way into the main entrance. Now the adrenaline had left him, he was tired after a night's driving and sore from the fight. Those concerns were less pressing than the fact he had essentially abandoned his brother for the last hour.

He made his way back up in the elevator and stepped out onto the ICU. His footfalls sounded loud in the muted hall. When he came to Sam's room, he paused for a moment outside the door before stepping inside. Nothing had changed in the room since he had left it, other than a nurse standing at Sam's bedside, recording something on a clipboard. She turned at his approach, and she smiled.

"How is he?" Dean asked.

The nurse smiled. "He's doing a little better. If his vitals remain steady for the next few hours, they will take him back into surgery."

Dean nodded thoughtfully. There would be no need for more surgery, he had a plan, but it was good to know Sam was doing better.

The nurse fiddled with the bag of blood beside Sam's bed, and then turned to Dean. "If you need anything, just press the call button."

Dean smiled and thanked her, and then he watched as she left the room.

"Just you and me again, Sammy," he said. "For now." He patted Sam's arm, and then raised his eyes heavenward. "Cas, I need you, and I mean I really need you. I'm in room three-forty-five of Winkler County Memorial Hospital. Please come quickly."

His task done, he pulled up a chair beside Sam's bed and waited for the angel's arrival.

He didn't have to wait long. Ten minutes later, there was the sound of rustling wings, and Dean sensed another's presence in the room.

Dean turned to Castiel, and he saw shock transform the angel's features. "What has happened?" he asked.

"Someone shot him," Dean said in a fierce voice. "Damn near killed him."

Castiel ran a finger over the plastic covering Sam's chest and abdomen. "There is great damage here."

"Yeah, I figured. They couldn't finish the surgery as he was circling the drain." Dean swallowed. "You can fix him, right?"

Castiel surveyed Sam in silence for a moment, long enough for Dean to grow worried.

"You can fix him, can't you?" Fear gripped him. The reality of Sam's dire condition hadn't really sunk in as he'd had this plan all along. If Castiel couldn't help him… Dean didn't want to even think of the possibility.

Castiel nodded. "I can, but I foresee a problem."

"What problem?"

"I do not see how we are to do it without arousing suspicion."

Dean sighed and raked a hand through his hair. "Yeah, Sammy won't want to be their miracle recovery boy, and we could do without the exposure. I figure we've got no choice, though. Sam's in a bad way, and they aren't overly optimistic about his chances. I can't risk them going into surgery again just to lose him on the table."

Castiel frowned. "I could revive him again."

"Yeah, but there are those minutes, or hours depending on how long it takes, between him going and you bringing him back. I don't want Sammy to go through that again. God knows he has died and been resurrected more than enough already. If he gets a glimpse at heaven again…"

"You are worried he would not want to return." It wasn't a question. Castiel was stating a fact.

Dean scrubbed a hand across his face. "Let's just say I want to make this as easy on him as I can."

Dean didn't want Sam to suffer more than he had to, and to be given another glimpse of heaven only to lose it again would hurt him too much. Coupled with the loss of Amelia, it would be too much for his brother to take. That separation from Amelia was Dean's doing, but it was for the best. She was no good for him.

Dean stepped closer to Sam's bedside and ran a finger along his brother's arm, saying a silent apology for what was about to happen to him. It was going to be unpleasant.

"I'll bar the door," he said. "You do what you need to do, and be prepared to spring us out of here. Take us to Rufus' place in Montana."

Castiel nodded and watched Dean as he went to the door and jammed a chair under the handle.

"Ready?" Castiel asked.

Dean nodded. "Ready." He added his own weight to the door to reinforce their protection. He knew when Castiel did what he did next, there was going to be a lot of noise and the alarms at the nurse's station were going to come running.

Castiel placed the fingertips of his right hand on Sam's temple and he closed his eyes.

Dean knew the moment it had worked, as Sam's eyes snapped open and his back arched against the bed. The machines beside the bed beeped loudly. Sam's breath came in a choking gargle as he fought against the ventilator. His right hand came up and gripped the mouthpiece of the tube down his throat. With a yank that made Dean wince, he pulled the tube from his throat.

"Now, Cas!" Dean barked, racing across the room and gripping his brother's hand.

There was a disconcerting feeling as they were moved through space in the blink of an eye, and then Dean felt his feet impact the solid wooden floor of Rufus' cabin.

Sam landed hard and fell back on the floor, his long legs sprawling. Dean squatted down beside him and laid a hand on his brother's chest. "It's okay, Sammy," he said in a soft tone, looking into Sam's wild eyes. "You're okay now."

Sam's hands went to his abdomen, and they gripped the plastic that was still wrapped across his skin.

"It's okay," Dean said. "Cas took care of you."

"What the hell happened?" Sam asked in a hoarse voice. He massaged his throat. Dean knew that yanking the tube out had to have done some damage.

"Cas," he said, "can you help with that?"

Castiel reached for Sam again, but Sam ducked away from his hand. "I'm fine, Cas," he croaked. "It's not so bad."

Dean frowned. He didn't know why his brother was refusing Castiel's help, but he figured it didn't really matter. What mattered was the fact his brother was awake and aware enough to refuse. He didn't realize how great the fear had been that he would lose him until he saw proof of his healing. His eyes stung and he stared determinedly at the ceiling for a moment. Hoping that his tear ducts wouldn't betray him.

When he was sure he wasn't going to cry like a woman, he looked back at Sam, who was peeling the plastic away from his stomach, revealing unblemished skin underneath.

"You okay?" he asked.

Sam looked up. "Yeah. I guess." He turned to Castiel. "Cas, man, I don't know what to say…"

Castiel smiled. "I am merely glad I was able to help. You were close to death when I arrived."

Sam nodded. "Well… um… thanks."

"Yeah, Cas," Dean said. "Thanks. We really owe you. Again."

Sam succeeded in pulling the last of the plastic from his chest, and he moved on to the electrodes from the heart monitor. He looked a little pale and shaky, but Dean guessed that was as much from shock as anything. It had to be a hell of a thing to be suddenly jerked back to the land of the living, completely healed.

Sam looked around the cabin, frowning, and Dean had an inkling of what, or more specifically who, he was looking for.

"So… what happened?" Sam asked.

"Simple answer, you got shot," Dean said.

Sam ran a hand through his hair. "How did you know?"

"I called your cell and a nurse at the hospital answered," Dean lied. "I was on my way into Kermit already, so I was with you soon enough. Catching hold of Cas took a little longer, though." He knew Sam would work out the time lapse, and he wanted to have something to explain away the missing hours that didn't involve him mentioning his meeting with Amelia or his ass kicking of Don.

Castiel frowned at the lie, but thankfully, he didn't speak up.

"What happened to you?" Sam asked. "You look like you've gone a few rounds."

Dean waved away his concerns. "Yeah, I got caught up in the Martin/Benny thing."

Sam sighed. "Oh, right." He rubbed a hand across his cheek, looking awkward. "And you didn't see anyone else at the hospital?"

Dean pretended ignorance. "You mean other than the doctors and nurses?"

Sam nodded.

"No, there was only me and Cas."

Sam's breath caught, and then a cool expression of indifference took over his features. "That's good. I was wondering if the cops would be there. They're the last thing we need to deal with." He drew a deep breath. "I'm going to go get cleaned up."

He turned and walked up the wooden steps to the second floor.

When he was out of sight, Castiel turned to Dean and asked, "Why are you lying to him?"

"Because there are some things Sammy's better off not knowing."

He knew that there would eventually come a day when Sam would find out the truth, but as long as that day was far in the future, Dean was happy. When the truth came out, Dean would explain that he was doing his job as a big brother, protecting Sam.