Thanks go to Gredelia1 for pre-reading and to Snarkymuch2 for giving me the plot bunny. This story is un-beta'd so any mistakes that remain are my own.
Dean's heart was in his throat. He couldn't process what had just happened. He knelt beside Sam and pressed his hands over the center of the Sam's chest, where the blood was pulsing worse.
"Cas! I need you!" he bellowed.
There was a tittering laugh in response. "He can't come, Dean. He can't find you. He did too good of a job protecting you from angels back in the day. He will hear you, of course, and it will be killing him to not be able to help, but there is nothing he can do about it."
Dean ignored her, directing his attention to his brother who was fast bleeding out on the floor.
"Sammy, open your eyes," he commanded.
Sam's eyes cracked open and his lips twisted into a snarl of pain. "Hurts."
"I know it does, but you've got to hold on, okay? Stay awake."
Sam coughed and a trickle of blood rolled down his chin. Dean wiped it away as if by not seeing it the damage wasn't there. The damage was done though, and Dean knew it. He knew enough medicine to know that the sick gurgle rasp of Sam's breath meant that the bullet had hit a lung, and Sam was slowly drowning as his lungs filled with blood. He had minutes left… if that.
"Why did you do it?" Dean asked. "Why did you get in the way?"
"Had to," Sam said weakly. "I felt it again."
Sam drew a gurgling breath. "The bond."
"This is a truly heartbreaking picture," Raphael said. "I think I will just enjoy the show for a moment."
Dean turned to face her. "Help him."
She raised an eyebrow. "You cannot be serious. I just shot him. Why on earth would I help him now?"
"Because he's not the one you want to kill. You wanted to kill me, so fix Sam up and you can kill me. I won't fight. I won't try to run. I just want my brother to be okay."
"Touching words," Raphael said, "but they mean nothing to me. You or Sam, it makes no difference as long as one of you is dead. And I must admit, watching you bowed over Sam as he slips away is very satisfying."
Dean cursed and pressed down harder on Sam's wound, trying in vain to staunch the rapid flow of blood.
Sam grimaced and lifted one shaky hand from the floor. He laid it over Dean's and squeezed his fingers. Dean hated to think it, but it felt like a goodbye.
"Just hold on a little longer, Sammy," he said. "We'll get you out of here."
Raphael laughed, but Dean ignored her. He had more pressing concerns. Sam was trying to speak to him. His voice was barely a whisper, and Dean had to duck his head to hear it.
"I didn't feel it," he said. "Not after what she did. But I feel it now, and I'm sorry." Every word seem to cost him something. His skin was white against the grey of the floor.
"It's okay, Sammy," Dean said, not understanding what his brother was saying, but wanting to reassure him just the same. "I'm here, and I'm not going to let you go."
Sam's lips curved into a smile. "I know. Thank you." He locked eyes with Dean for a second and some unspoken communication passed between them. Then Sam's eyes slid closed and his hand dropped from on top Dean's and slipped down onto the floor.
"No, Sam, no!" Dean was panicked. Not even aware of what he was doing he lifted his hands from Sam's chest and cupped his face, smearing blood on Sam's ashen cheeks. "Sam! Open your eyes!"
Sam's eyes remained steadfastly closed and his face was lax of all emotion. Dean shoved at him, knowing he was hurting his brother but desperate for any sign of life.
There was noise around him, voices shouting and what sounded a rush of flames, but Dean was oblivious to it all. All he cared about was making his brother open his eyes again.
"Sam!" he spoke through gritted teeth. "Open your eyes!"
"He cannot," a voice said softly.
Dean raised his head and looked into Castiel's eyes. "Help him!"
"I will, but we cannot stay here. Raphael will be back soon."
Castiel eased his arms under Sam and pulled him against his chest. Sam's head lolled back and his mouth dropped open.
Seeing Sam lying, apparently dead, in Castiel's arms stole the last of Dean's composure. All he cared about was the fact the arms holding Sam were not his own. He surged forward. "Let him go!" Hands gripped his upper arms and held him back. Castiel looked at him sympathetically then nodded to whoever was holding Dean.
With a rustling sound, Castiel and Sam disappeared, and Dean struggled harder against the arms holding him.
"Calm, Dean." An unfamiliar female voice spoke in his ear, and then Dean felt the stomach lurching sensation of being shifted through space.
He had been brought back to Bobby's place, and as he blinked and looked around he saw Sam lying on the floor with Bobby and Castiel bending over him. Even as he watched, Castiel turned Sam on his side and examined the wound on his back.
"Through and through," Bobby said knowledgably.
Castiel nodded. "That will help."
"Get off of him!" Dean snapped and yanked against the person restraining him. Their grip was loose and he was able to free himself. He dropped down beside Sam and placed a hand on his face. "Heal him!" He was speaking to Castiel, but his eyes were fixed on his brother.
Castiel placed his hands over Sam's chest and white light poured from his palms. For a second, there was nothing else, and then Sam's eyes snapped open and he drew in a gasping breath.
Dean breathed an audible sigh of relief and placed a hand on his brother's chest. "It's okay, Sam. You're fine now."
Sam skittered back on the floor until his shoulders hit the wall. Dean, Bobby and Castiel were still crouched on the floor where they'd been tending to Sam. Their eyes followed him as he plucked at the blood soaked fabric of his t-shirt.
"You're okay, boy," Bobby said in a surprisingly soft tone. "Just take it easy."
Sam's bloody hands gripped the wall and he pushed himself to his feet. He stripped off his t-shirt and tossed it on to the floor.
"You okay, Sammy?" Dean asked. He was scared. Sam seemed to be in shock. He figured waking up on the floor, covered in your own blood had to be a bit of a shock, but there was the fact Sam wasn't talking, just reacting.
Sam help up an hand and cleared his throat. "I just need a minute."
Dean eased himself to his feet and stepped back so as to give Sam some space. "Okay, whatever you need."
Sam nodded and drew a deep breath. He looked down at his bloodied chest and run his hand over the place the bullet had penetrated. There wasn't even a scar to show for his injury; Castiel had healed him completely.
Dean turned his attention to Castiel. "Thanks, Cas. Really, man, thanks."
Castiel nodded. "I am sorry I did not find you sooner."
"How did you find us?" Sam asked, and all eyes snapped to him. He had lost a little of the wild look in his eyes now and his breaths were coming easier. He smiled ruefully at Dean and stepped away from the wall.
"The bullet's trajectory shattered your ribs," Castiel said simply. "The sigils were obliterated and I was able to sense you."
Dean nodded thoughtfully. It was awful to be grateful that his brother had been hurt, but if Raphael had been smart, and aimed for the head, they might never have been found."
"What happened to Raphael?" Dean asked. "I guess I missed a lot." He looked around the room at the three people that had apparently followed them back to Bobby's place. They had the haughty look of angels. One of them was a woman, and Dean guessed that it had been her that had restrained him. He nodded to her now and she smiled.
"Raphael has been banished for the moment," Castiel said. "But as Michael proved, a holy oil molotov only lasts so long."
Dean grinned. "You set her ass on fire?"
Castiel nodded. "It seemed to right thing to do."
Three hours later, fresh from the shower, Sam sat on the back steps and cradled a mug of coffee in his hands. His mind was still trying to process everything that had happened, and, obscurely, the lack of pain did not help. He had been shot in the chest, ribs had been shattered and his lung had been punctured, but he felt as if he had just woken up after a long and satisfying sleep. It was a lot to take in.
He heard the door open behind him and he knew it would be Dean coming to join him. He had been reluctant to be apart from Sam, even for the time it took Sam to shower and wash of the blood. Sam had said, before he came outside, that he needed a minute, but he guessed that a minute was all Dean was able to afford him.
He understood. If the situation was reversed he would likely be worse than Dean was now, but it didn't make it any easier to bear. At least it was only Dean coming out. Since Raphael's temporary defeat, it had been explained to Sam, Dean and Bobby that they were now under the protection of angels, quite literally. The three angels that had come back to the house with there were now there on a permanent basis to offer some protection if Raphael came again. What they could do against an archangel Sam didn't know, but it was better than they had been before.
"You okay?" Dean asked, taking a seat beside Sam.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"It's okay to not be fine, you know? You were shot, Sam, and held hostage for two days by an archangel, not even mentioning all the crap you went through before that. Any of that is a lot for someone to take in."
Sam considered. Everything that had happened to him was so confused and fragmented it felt like a dream. His memories of the hospital were the hardest to decipher; he had trouble working out what had really happened and what had been part of the false memories implanted by Raphael.
"I will be fine," he amended. "I just need a little time."
"Sure you do," Dean said, clapping him on the back.
Sam took a sip of his cooling coffee and looked out over the yard. "Are you okay, Dean?"
Dean was silent so long that Sam turned back to look at him. "Not really," Dean admitted. "When we were there, in that warehouse, I thought you were gone, Sam. I thought she'd killed you."
Sam nodded. "Me too."
Dean swallowed thickly. "I don't ever want to feel like that again."
Sam smiled. "I'll do my best not to piss off any more archangels."
Dean cracked a smile. "You make sure you do." His expression became somber again. "Sam, when you were… you know, you said you didn't feel it. What were you talking about?"
"Do you trust me, Dean?" Sam asked.
"You know I do."
"Then don't ask. There are some things you don't need to know."
Dean looked like he wanted to argue, but he satisfied himself with a nod. "Okay."
Sam wanted nothing less than to have to explain just how great a breach Raphael had formed between them.
The door behind them opened and Castiel came out. He moved between them, down the stairs, and then stood facing them both. "I owe you an apology, Sam," he said. "I never meant for you or Dean to be dragged into this war. I never imagined Raphael would stoop to these depths. If I had, I would never have left you alone for even a minute."
"It's okay, Cas," Sam said. "It wasn't your fault. Raphael is a raving lunatic. You weren't to know she would come after us."
Castiel nodded but he still looked troubled and something Raphael said occurred to Sam. "Cas, Raphael said you have a powerful ally. Who is it? Did you find God?"
Castiel smiled ruefully. "I wish that I had." He sighed. "I have a confession to make. I have been working with Crowley."
"Crowley!" Dean spat. "You're kidding me, right?"
Sam laid a hand on Dean's arm in silent remonstration. "Cas, tell us everything."
Castiel raised his eyes hopefully to Sam, and the whole sorry tale poured out.
Sam listened to it in silence. While Dean ranted and raved, Sam took it all in. He didn't know what they were going to do next, but they would come up with a way of defeating Raphael without Crowley. They had to.
But as Sam looked from Castiel to Dean he wasn't thinking of Crowley or Purgatory or souls, he was thinking of how good it felt to be home, and that they could face anything now they were all together again.
Thanks to everyone that has been reading and supporting this story. It was a trial to write at times and your reviews, faves and alerts made it all worth it.
I hope to see you again all again soon with my next story.
Clowns or Midgets x