Hi again! Here's the next chapter, thanks for sticking with me. Enjoy!

Sam's POV

I'm trying to time it out perfectly. I know Dean's only about an hour or so out, so I'm waiting until then to start eating. That way, the first thing he'll see when he gets back will be me hunkered down over a steaming plate of food. Yep, I know how to make my brother's day. And it's not like I haven't been eating anyway. Actually, quite the contrary.

I have no idea when or how it happened, but Dean has somehow managed to become a pretty phenomenal cook. I was a little hesitant about the tomato rice soup he left in the fridge at first, but after trying it, I found myself going back for seconds. And then thirds.

And I find that the more I eat, the better I feel. But it's not just the normal "I've eaten and now I'm not as tired" feeling. No, the difference for me is way more pronounced. It's like coming back from the dead (and I would know). Dean must have laced all my food with five hour energy or something because after a few days of eating three solid meals a day, I feel my strength coming back to me in waves. It's a small, beautiful miracle considering all the other crap that's going on out there, but I'll take it. It's nice to not feel so useless anymore, to feel like I can actually stand on my own two feet again.

And I guess that's not the only miracle anymore. According to Dean's somewhat frantic phone call a few days ago, Cas is alive. Completely devoid of angel power, but still, he's alive. And I'll take that too. I've learned not to be too picky when it comes to miracles.

I'm just reaching for the container of pulled pork sandwiches Dean slaved away over (seriously, when did we get tupperware?) when I hear the banging on the door. What the hell, Dean? Did you lose the key or something?

Reluctantly, I slam the fridge shut and make my way to the front door that's actually more like the door to a bank vault than anything else.

"Chill Dean, I'm coming," I shout as the pounding continues. Impatient bastard probably thinks I managed to keel over dead while he was gone.

I'm so busy thinking up a witty response for the sarcastic dig I just know Dean is waiting to dish out that when I finally open the door, the picture in front of me doesn't register right away.

A very shaggy Castiel is standing in the doorway, trench coat nowhere to be seen, shoulders heaving. Behind him, the Impala is still running, pulled in at a crazy angle that makes it look like Vin Diesel got a hold of it. And then I catch sight of the unmoving form still in the passenger seat...

"Dean!" I scream, shoving past Cas and bolting for the car. I open the passenger door and grab Dean before he can slump to the ground. To my relief, he lets out a small, exasperated groan.

"Cas, what the hell happened?" I'm still yelling as I gather my bloodied brother in my arms. I allow myself to revel in the fact that I once again have the strength to lift him.

"I...I couldn't carry him in. I couldn't get him here..." Cas hasn't moved from where I left him at the front door, and only now do I notice how he's favoring one side, leaning slightly against the outside wall. "Couldn't do...anything," he whispers brokenly.

"Cas? Cas, it's okay," I say, adjusting my hold on Dean so I can fit him through the door. "Can you walk to the bed?" I ask over my shoulder, already heading for Dean's room. Halfway there, I think better of it and turn towards my own room instead. He'll be pissed if I get blood on his beloved memory foam. Once I've laid Dean out on my bed, I turn back to look for Cas. He still hasn't moved from the door, seemingly frozen in place.

"CAS!" I yell again. He stares at me, startled, but finally begins to limp across the threshold, taking a painfully long time to close the heavy door behind him. I turn my attention back to my brother, wincing when I catch sight of his crooked nose. Shit.

"Hey wha...Whoa, what happened?"

"Thank God. Kevin, grab the first aid kit," I demand as the prophet comes into view in my doorway, stumbling slightly, apparently still half asleep. He hesitates for a second but then takes in all the blood and immediately obeys. I sigh in relief, glad to have some back up.

It's easy to forget that Kevin's still here sometimes. He spends most days locked in his room, sleeping at odd times and spending every waking moment trying to translate the angel tablet, desperately looking for a way to undo Metatron's spell and send the angels back to Heaven. I also strongly suspect that he's been slaving over the Demon tablet as well, looking for an alternate way to slam the Gates.

Kevin returns a moment later, arms overflowing with the first aid kit along with about ten extra rolls of gauze and alcohol swabs.

"What else can I do?" he asks, eyes widening as he sees the extent of the damage to Dean's battered body up close. God bless this kid.

"Can you go check on Cas for me? See how hurt he is," I ask, already removing Dean's layers of clothing. Kevin nods and leaves me to attend to my brother. Dean hasn't made a sound since that initial groan, and I hastily double check his weakened pulse before reaching for the alcohol swabs.

A few hours later, Dean is passed out on my bed, wounds cleaned and dressed, sprained wrist wrapped, and nose readjusted after a hard jerk and a startled yell.

Cas has finally come back to himself enough to start to explain what happened, and Kevin and I sit across from him while he finishes his story.

"Hang on, hang on," I hold up a hand in protest. "You drove. You drove the Impala? How did you know where to go? I mean when did you even learn how to drive? How...?" I leave the question hanging, unable to process the ridiculousness of it all.

"I...I've picked up on a few things from watching the two of you drive. It actually wasn't as difficult as I expected. I am not completely oblivious to the workings of a motor vehicle. And angel or not, the location of this bunker is one I will always remember. It's...home," Cas replies, and I'm shocked to see the slight blossom of color that tints his cheeks on the last words.

I charge in with the next question before the silence stretches too long.

"So, these demons? They're looking for Crowley?"

"Yes, it seems the demons didn't take too kindly to having their king held hostage. And despite Abaddon's efforts to take his throne, so to speak, there are still many who are loyal only to Crowley. We will have to be on high alert from now on."

My lip twitches into a small smile. It's been a long time since we haven't been on high alert, but instead of pointing this out, I move on to the question I'm most curious about.

"Cas..how did you kill them? I mean no offense, but you're not exactly a grade A hunter at the moment."

He seems a bit hurt at my words, his tone becoming clipped and defensive. "I did not go in unprepared. I had several of your weapons from the trunk. It seems I haven't completely lose the ability to defend myself, despite having lost my grace. But believe me, I am as surprised as you to have made it out alive."

I'm still finding it hard to wrap my head around it all.

"But...you said you took out three demons? Cas that's..."

"Dean was in trouble," he cuts off, plain and simple.

And that effectively ends the argument for me. Because Cas has always been there for Dean. For both of us. If we're in danger, on the brink of death, Cas will find a way to save us. He always does. And I have no desire to push my inquiries any further. It's comforting and slightly humbling to have an ally like that, angel or not. So I nod and silently convey my thanks, only to catch a small movement out of the corner of my eye.

"Dean, what the hell are you doing out of bed?" I bellow. Dean has managed to hobble silently all the way from my room and into our foyer, leaning most of his weight against the nearest wall. I stare at him incredulously. I don't even want to think about how long it took him to work his faded gray t-shirt over his battered torso.

"How you feelin?" he coughs out, ignoring my question along with my annoyed expression. Despite cleaning off all the blood and resetting his nose, Dean still looks like shit. Bruises mottle his puffy face and his left eye is completely swollen shut. I watch several cuts reopen across his bottom lip as he smiles at me, clearly waiting for an answer to the dumbest question he could be asking right now. But it's the question he always asks, and so I answer it willingly, honestly.

"I'm doing good Dean. Really good actually. Strongest I've felt since starting the trials."

Dean's smile widens into one of genuine happiness- a rarity I've come to treasure, especially when it's me who can put it there. But then his one good eye lands on Cas, and the smile disappears. The mask snaps back into place so quickly that I barely catch a glimpse of the quick flash of emotion that betrays him. It's one he wears far too often for me not to recognize. Guilt. What the hell? My eyes narrow at the two of them, trying to fit the pieces together. The only thing I can think of is that Dean feels guilty about getting the crap beaten out of him when he was outnumbered six to one, meaning that Cas had to intervene. Typical Dean, always shouldering the blame for the things he can't control. Guess I shouldn't be surprised he would turn this on himself like he does everything else. I sigh and switch my focus away from Cas and solely back to my brother.

"Dean, you should be resting," I scold, trying to let some of Dad's authority seep into my voice. Dean recognizes the attempt and rolls his eyes at me, opening up another cut right above the lid. Dammit, knew I should've stitched that one.

"Sam, I'm fine. Catch me up on the latest," he replies, taking several slow, unsteady steps before he slumps into a chair at the table, practically free falling into it and then trying to hold back his grimace. It doesn't escape my notice though, nor does the fact that he chooses the seat furthest away from Cas. Drama queen. I know there's no way he'll go back to bed willingly, so I start talking.

"Uh, well besides the fact that the demons are pissed and basically all out to get us because we hijacked their leader, you haven't missed much. I've been drilling Crowley for information about the location of some higher level demons so we can try to strike first, but so far he hasn't cracked. Also, we're out of tomato rice soup," I tack on as an afterthought. Dean's face hardens for one inexplicable second before he nods slowly.

"I'll uh...I'll make more," he rasps out, glancing guiltily at Cas again, who meets his gaze almost menacingly. What the hell is going on?

"What the hell is going on?" Kevin, silent so far, voices my suspicions to the suddenly too tense room.

"Nothing," Dean and Cas say in unison, shooting another meaningful look at each other before their eyes skitter away and find the floor once more.

"No seriously, what's up with you two?" I ask. When neither responds right away, the alarm bells in my head start up a constant ringing. "Dean?" I turn the full force of my question onto my big brother, fully aware of the effect my pleading will have on him. He's never been able to deny me anything. Until now, it seems.

"Sam, it's nothing. Cas and I just had a little disagreement. It's really not a big deal. Let it go." Dean's eyes make their way to Cas once more as he finishes his latest line of bullshit, staring long and hard.

"Dean's right," Cas supplies, "just a small difference of opinion." But Cas isn't as practiced in the art of deception as Dean is, and I easily decipher the flash of anger in his eyes before he can look back at the ground.

Great. More fucking secrets, I think. But I nod slightly, dropping it for the moment, knowing I can find Cas later on when he's alone and manipulate him into spilling the beans. It feels wrong to take advantage of Cas like that, especially since he's now even more vulnerable than before, but I shove the guilty thoughts away and focus on the facts. And the fact is that my brother is keeping something from me, and I intend on finding out exactly what that is.

Dun dun dun...stay tuned! I got a request for more Cas, so next chapter is his POV. Thanks again for all the wonderful reviews!