Dean has always been there for Sam. Since the day he was born, when Sam was a preemie in an incubator, John had constantly told Sam as a child that Dean had stood above it, mumbling.

"C'mon, Sammy. C'mon, get better. Wake up." He kept doing that, rarely sleeping, until Sammy and Mary had been healthy enough to leave the hospital.

Four months after Sammy got better, Dean had pulled him out of the fire. not for the first time, and not the last.

Every hunt gone wrong, every hospital trip, every fight with their father, Dean had been there to hold his hand. to fight for him, or patch him up. He'd saved Sam from everything, and then...

And then Jess. And Dean had, again, literally pulled him out of the fire.

But he couldn't save him this time, Sam thought, as he dealt with the torture that was Hell. Hell was just like Dean had described, and Sam hated it.

But he would never give in. Never torture another soul, no matter how long, no matter how much it hurt. The only thing that made him feel good about himself was that out there, somewhere, Dean was safe. Dean had been granted immortality as an angel in Heaven. Sam wasn't as lucky. Dean couldn't save him from this fire.

Sam groaned as the whip cracked across his back, too tired to scream, too tired to fight. But he always prayed. He prayed that Dean could hear him, as he went through an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and then an apology. "'M s'rry, D'n. 'M s'rry,"

"Sammy?" Dean? Was it his Dean? No. It couldn't be. Angels didn't go to Hell. Sam groaned. Another trick, another torture. That was Sam's life now. "Sammy!" Not-Dean was closer now. Louder. Too loud. "Sammy, open your eyes. C'mon, little bro, don't do this to me."

"Not-" Sam coughed up blood, and felt a warm hand burn against his feverish skin. "Not- D'n. C'nt be- Dn's 'n angel- my- D'n don't need me."

"No, no, no, Sam, never say that. It's me, it's Dean. I'll always need you. I'm sorry it took so long to find you, Sammy, but I'll never leave you again. So don't you dare leave me, you hear?"

Sam slowly opened his eyes, looked at the figure in front of him. He was suspended, so looking down at Dean -his Dean- was as easy as ever. The body of the demon who had tortured Sam all those years was at his feet. And on his back, glowing as glorious as the Sun, were a pair of pure white wings.

Dean ripped at the shackles holding Sam to the rack, and Sam whimpered as he fell into Dean's arms. Everything hurt so much, every inch of his body was in pain. He almost screamed when Dean took off, jolting his bones and burning his wounds as the cold air whizzed by. Still he let out a strangled cry, and Dean looked at him with remorse and worry. "You okay?" he asked.

Sam managed to shake his head "no" before falling unconscious.

"It's been a week, Cas," Dean's voice was the first thing Sam heard, and he instantly stiffened.

It's not Dean, it was all a trap. The demons are trying to break me. It won't work.

"He's an angel now, Dean. He will need time and rest to recuperate, rest he won't get if you try to wake him up. Understand?"

Dean's sigh. "Yeah. But- he - he just looks so... broken."

"Sit with him. Guard over him. Be there when he wakes. But until then, Dean," there is a pause. "Take relief in knowing that we could save him."

A flutter of wings, and then someone sits next to him, and takes his hand. Sam is scared. What kind of pain is coming next?

"Dang it, Sammy." Dean's voice comes from his side. "What the hell-" Sam nearly winces at the word, but stops himself. "Did you say you were sorry for? You know what it's like, havin' my baby brother's voice ringing through my head exactly three-hundred-and-ten times a day, tellin' me complete lies? That you're not good enough, that you're sorry I hate you, that-" A gulp, and then a shaky sigh, "That, 'Oh, my God, it hurts, Dean, get me outta here'?" Dean's voice cracked. "And I- I couldn't do anything about it, cause lots a' angels were holding me back, sayin' there was someone on their way to get you right now an' soon you'd be safe and happy. But it was a lie. So I finally went to find you myself, an' the first thing you tell me is that your Dean is an angel and he doesn't need you anymore. You're the only one I ever trusted to watch my back, Sam. I'll always need you. Please, Sammy, I need you more than you need me. Cas told me not to wake you up, so hurry up and wake up yourself. And that's an order, Sam Winchester."

Sam knew then- it wasn't a demon. That was Dean. And even though he wanted to look strong, a tear slipped from his eye.

"Sammy!" Dean gasped. "Sam, open your eyes, please. C'mon, Sammy, pull through."

Sam opened his eyes, slowly, to Dean's excited face. "D'n?"

Dean rested his hand on Sam's forehead. "Dang, Sam, you're gonna get some angel chicks with those puppy eyes of yours. You'll see." he frowned. "But, man, you're burning up. Should wear off."

Sam looked around. Couldn't see much. "Where am I?" he asked.

"Well within the pearly gates, bro. You're safe. Hey, got a favor from a certain archangel to grant you your own pair of flappers. Check 'em out." Dean helped Sam sit up, and showed Dean how to extend his wings.

"Cool," Sam breathed, like he was a little kid who'd woken up to video games on Christmas. Then he clung to Dean and hugged him. "I didn't think you'd come."

"Samuel Winchester," Dean responded. He pulled Sam back a little and stared into his baby brother's eyes. "I've always come. And I always will." Then he hugged back.

Sam knew. He would never forget that. Dean had pulled him out of the fire once again, hadn't failed to save him, even if it took him three-thousand years of Sam's torture to finally succeed. Sam knew that as long as Dean lived he would keep that promise. and Sam would too.

the end.

Y'all like it? Reviews are the apple pie to my Dean!