Whiskey Nightmare Salutations

Author: Lady Sam Mallory

Disclaimers: Boys not mine; I just borrow them from time to time when the muse moves me.

Special Thanks to: My exceptional Beta Queen, Zoe, without whom I'd be doomed to a life of grammatical inaccuracy. You are truly my Conductor of Light. Thank you for over 30 years of friendship and fandoms.

For my beautiful friend, Heather, whose incredible command of the English language allows her to provide me with individually needed words at a moment's notice.

Warnings: H/C, Angst, Smarm, Some violence and usually a bit of colorful language.

Spoilers: S5 E22 "Swan Song," S2 E1 "In My Time of Dying," S4 E15 "Death Takes a Holiday"

Story Playlist: "Whiskey Nightmare" by The New Roses, "Beautiful Loser" by Bob Seger, "Demons" by Imagine Dragons

Author's Comments: This story starts after Sammy's "Swan Song" and takes place during the year Dean was with Lisa and Ben.

"Sammy? Sammy! Sammy, NO!" Dean screams, twisting in the sheets and throwing himself towards the image of his brother only to land on the cold, hard floor while he continues to scream for him.

"Dean?" Lisa's voice is obliterated by the screaming, and she throws off the covers and runs around the bed squatting down next to him writhing on the floor.

"It's me, Dean. It's Lisa. You're in a safe place," she soothes trying to calm the man on her bedroom floor. "Jesus, Dean. What happened to you?" She whispers as she gently touches his face trying to break through the demons he's fighting.

His face is wet and she pulls back slightly, her heart breaking for this man she's come to care about.

"Mom? What's going on?" Ben cries out from the doorway. "Is that Dean?"

Lisa bounds up from the floor. "Ben, go back to your room, and I'll be there in a minute," she orders, and the look on her face douses any questions he may have had.

"Sammy!" Dean yells again and Lisa turns Ben physically around and gently pushes him towards his room.

She turns back to Dean and notes that he's sitting up now. She hopes like hell that he's awake. "Dean?" She calls quietly, making her way back to him and kneeling next to him on the floor.

Dean's shoulders hunch forward as he shudders with a stifled sob. She wraps him in her arms even though he's stiff and nearly unmanageable trying to get himself back under control.

"Just let it all out, Dean. It'll be alright," Lisa sighs rubbing one hand up and down his back as the other cradles his head.

"No," Dean cries so softly into her neck that she can barely hear him. He draws a deep, shuddering breath. "It'll never be alright again. Oh God, Lisa. He's gone."

Dean pulls away from her and swipes his palm down his face. He brings his gaze over to her understanding one and says, "I have to get him back, Leese. I know I promised, but I can't leave him there. I just don't have that in me."

"You got here a few hours ago and asked me for that beer. Do you remember that?" She asks gently, her hands framing his face.

He nods, temporarily unable to string words together.

Lisa smiles at him and asks, "You think you can get up off the floor?"

For a moment, she's not sure he's still with her. He just stares out the window as if trying to see something far away. Lisa shakes him.

"Dean?" She shakes him harder. "Dean, come on. Let's get you up on the bed," she whispers, putting her arm around his shoulders and helping him struggle to his feet. His body remains stiff and uncooperative as he crashes on the bed, and she follows him down before extricating herself.

"I have to go check on Ben, but I'll be right back," Lisa informs him as she places her hand along the side of his face. "I'll be right back, Dean. You with me?"

Several moments pass before he nods, and she steps quietly from the room and down the hall. Knocking on Ben's door, she opens it and walks inside.

"Is Dean okay, Mom?" Ben asks and she smiles at what a great kid he is.

"Well, Ben. It's complicated," she starts, thinking about her words carefully.

Ben nods and offers, "Grown-ups always are. "

The innocent comment makes her laugh, and she smiles down at him. "We definitely can be. Look, Ben, Dean's been through a lot in the past few days. He's just going to need some time," she explains as she runs her fingers through the hair on top of his head.

"Can I help?" He asks hopefully, and for all the world she wishes he could.

"Not tonight, but eventually. Right now, you stay in your room no matter what you hear. Okay?" She asks and he nods and ducks back under the covers.

"I'm glad he's back, Mom," Ben notes and turns over on his side and looks towards the door.

"Try to get some sleep. I have to get back to Dean. He needs me right now," She finishes and bends down to place a kiss on his head.

"I love you, Ben," she whispers and then crosses to his door.

She smiles when he answers, "I love you too, Mom."

Lisa heads downstairs, grabs the bottle of Jack from the kitchen and a couple of glasses. She has no idea what Dean has been through, but she knows it's bad and it certainly warrants a drink or two.

Returning to her bedroom, she quickly pours two fingers into the tumbler and presses it into Dean's hand.

"Drink, Dean. Then we can talk," she orders as she pours some whiskey into her own glass.

Dean stares down into the glass for several long moments before he can bring himself to even swallow.

Lifting the glass to his lips, he pours the amber liquid over his tongue and closes his eyes at the familiar burn as he tries to organize the random thoughts racing through his mind.

Shaking his head, he blurts out, "I wouldn't even know where to start."

Lisa places her hand on his cheek, and he leans into it. "Then start at the beginning," she suggests and he drops his head forward.

'The beginning, hell. The beginning of which shit storm?' he thinks and takes another sip of whiskey. He rubs a hand down his face and tries to meet her eyes.

Clearing his throat, he begins to speak in a rasping whisper. "I told you there was a lot of freaky stuff happening out there. The storms in Chicago, cyclones in Tampa, wildfires in L.A., temperature drops in Detroit," He starts and his voice breaks on the last word.

"And Sam…" Dean comments but is unable to continue for several minutes. He closes his eyes and knows one fundamental truth above all else. "It was supposed to be me, Leese, not Sam."

He stops and stares into his glass before reaching for the whiskey bottle to refill it.

She waits for several minutes hoping that he'll continue, knowing that he has to get this out.

He rubs his face again and just stares at this woman who means so damn much to him. So much he was willing to give up everything to keep her safe and not just her.

He had told Sam that he had to be Michael's meat suit because he knew his brother would say yes to Lucifer. The truth of it is that was another lie in a long string of lies he tells himself to keep going.

Dean had hoped that, as Michael, he could kill Lucifer before his brother ever entered the picture.

Draining his tumbler, he refills it again and drinks nearly half of what he poured.

Lisa sits there watching him, waiting, and he knows he shouldn't say more. Dad drilled that into them more than any other lesson, but he needs this and he has always put everyone in front of himself, especially Sam.

Does it really matter anymore? Dad set the rules to keep them safe. What in the hell does safety matter when everyone else is dead?

She says nothing at all. She just waits for him to continue with a look of understanding on her face.

"This is so hard, Lisa. It breaks the rules. The big rule," Dean clarifies shaking his head and glancing back down into his tumbler.

"What rule, Dean?" Lisa asks finally breaking the silence that has descended upon them.

Dean looks over at her, taps his ring on his glass a few times and drains it before reaching for the bottle next to him. He refills again and still she waits with the patience of a saint.

"We do what we do and we shut up about it," Dean tells her and turns away unable to believe that he's said the words aloud. Sure, he told Cassie all those years ago, but then he was just a dumb kid.

"You hunt bad things, Dean," her voice beckons him to unburden himself.

He laughs. "Yeah, living the dream, but it still sounds incredible sometimes," Dean warns and she smiles understandingly.

"You saved Ben, Dean. You are incredible. You can trust me. I can shut up about it," she reassures him, and tears spring into his eyes.

He knows she's right and he takes a deep breath to try to quell some of the rage within him.

"When I was four, my mother…was murdered by a demon," he starts, gauging her response and impressed when she doesn't run for the hills.

She's silent as she grasps his free hand and squeezes in a show of support.

"My father spent his entire life trying to find and kill that demon. I started training when I was five. We would run drills. He taught us how to shoot handguns, rifles, sawed off shotguns. We learned CQC, close quarters combat, and we practiced with Dad at first and then monsters he'd captured so we could train as we got older," Dean relates remembering the years of training he endured to be the hunter he is today.

"You were just a child, Dean," Lisa notes angrily and continues to hold his hand.

Dean laughs, the sound harsh and ugly as he swallows another hit of whiskey.

"I was never a child, Lisa. Never," he hisses and leans forward to meet her eyes before continuing. "I've seen things, hell, I've done things that…."

She squeezes his hand and leans forward towards him.

"Did your Dad find the demon?" She interrupts, hoping to get him out of the dark place that he's seeing right now. She notices some of the wildness has faded from his eyes since those first moments and breathes a sigh of relief.

Dean's thrown by the question but nods and answers, "Yeah, he did, but he didn't kill it."

She looks over at him shocked then releases his hand to reach for the whiskey bottle.

"He made a deal to save my life. His soul went to hell and I got to live. He had no right to do that," Dean spits out and she smiles up at him with tears in her eyes.

"He had every right, Dean. He was your father. There is nothing that I wouldn't do for Ben. Nothing," she swears and Dean's watery gaze follows hers as she glances towards her son's room.

Dean nods and he takes a deep breath as tears build up and he chokes up a bit.

"I feel the same way about Sammy, but it didn't matter," Dean starts and her heart breaks for him.

He places a hand over his mouth and wrestles with his inner demons hoping to hold in all that pain and rage, but there's just so much of it.

"What happened to Sam, Dean?" Lisa asks him her large brown eyes wide in her narrow face once again.

Dean shakes his head and looks away from her. He doesn't want to say the words yet.

Lisa senses Dean's reluctance and steers the conversation in a different direction.

"And when you came to see me that last time? That was goodbye. You were planning to sacrifice yourself for your brother, weren't you?" Lisa asks as her tears spill over and roll down her face.

Dean sets down his empty glass and wipes them away surprised at how well she knows him, how much she understands him.

"It pissed you off when your Dad did it, but for your brother…" She starts only to stop at the look on his face.

"It's my job, Lisa. My only job. Hell, I carried him out of a burning house when I was four," he interrupts angrily, and she lays a hand on his cheek.

"What happened to Sam?" She tries again, the understanding in her eyes nearly killing Dean.

He reaches for his glass and refills it buying himself a little time in the process.

"All that crazy stuff that's been happening in the news?" Dean asks and continues when Lisa nods. "A demon broke the seals needed to start the Apocalypse," Dean tells her waiting for the inevitable explosion that should follow.

Lisa just sits there and stares at him her hands folded neatly in her lap.

"Oh, come on, Lisa. I just drop that little gem on you and…and…" Dean jumps up from the bed and reaches for his glass again.

Lisa stands up as well. "And what? What do you want me to say, Dean? I've seen all the crazy stuff that you told me would happen when you came and saw me," she defends, her arms automatically crossing in front of her as they do when she's upset or angry.

Dean reaches for the whiskey and refills his tumbler once again.

"Is the world ending?" Lisa asks and Dean turns away from her as pain erupts in his chest.

"Not anymore," he reassures her in a tear-choked voice before turning back towards her.

"You stopped it?" She inquires her head tilted so the low light from the lamp dances along her soft cheek.

Dean shakes his head because he cannot bear to admit what he knows he must.

"I tried, Leese. Damn, I tried so hard, but it was...Sammy," Dean says choking again on the name.

Lisa glances away before bringing her brown eyes back to meet Dean's green ones. "He's dead, isn't he?" She inquires softly.

Dean looks anywhere but her not wanting to admit the fact out loud and make it much too real. "Yeah," Dean hisses out angrily, his pain warring with the rage inside of him.

She places a hand over her mouth, reaching out to him with the other.

"I'm so sorry, Dean. I liked your brother a lot," she whispers, her voice broken and hoarse in empathy.

Dean nods, drains the rest of his drink and swipes at the tears drying on his face.

Lisa strokes his hair and asks him the most amazing question, "What do you need?"

Dean thinks about it for a long while before he moves towards her and pulls her into his arms.

"Look…I know…Lisa...I'm a mess right now," he starts, tipping his head forward and leaning it against her own.

Lisa takes a deep breath, "Dean, you just basically saved the world."

"Don't. That was…Sam," he croaks out and tightens his arms around her.

"Ok, but it wasn't just Sam," she counters tipping her head back, holding his watery gaze.

He scrubs his face with his free hand and takes a deep breath.

"Just let me be here with you and try to make a life. I promised him, Lisa. Hell, it was his dying wish. He knew I wanted to be here with you, and I damn well have to try," Dean pleads, his watery green eyes searching her face and for the first time in a long while finding some peace.

Lisa raises her glass and clinks it to his, "To Sam," she breathes out with tears running down her face for this man.

"To Sammy," Dean whispers and drains his drink before setting it on the table next to the bed. "I need you, Leese," he moans and presses his lips to hers before the passion that's always been between them erupts, and he is swept away in a moment of pure unadulterated life.

He feels it arc through him, this feeling of being alive, and it's so wonderful and complete that for a moment he forgets about everything and just feels.

He forgets about the Apocalypse and how close the world came to ending.

He overlooks all the crap that he's been through in the past few months.

For this one pure moment, he dismisses from his mind the desire to just give in to the grief and stop living.

"Dean Winchester. Wish I could say it's a pleasure, but we both know that's a lie," purrs a beautiful brunette with glowing red eyes.

"Bring him back," Dean orders her, the demon knife clutched in his white- knuckled fist.

The demon glances down at the devil's trap painted on the gravel of the old country road.

"And if I don't, you kill me?" She asks with an amused lilt in her voice.

He nods and presses his lips together. "Yeah, I think that about sums it up," he promises and taps the flat of the blade against his leg.

Her eyes scan the landscape surrounding them and she sighs.

"You'll have to kill me then, because I can't bring him back to you, Dean," she explains, meeting his flashing green eyes.

"Can't or won't?" He asks, his murderous eyes burning through the crossroads demon in a rage that he can barely contain these days.

"Can't," she answers in defiance. "You think just any old demon can pluck your brother from the Dark Lord's cage?"

"Don't lie to me. You're not just any old demon. You've got more power…" Dean starts only to be interrupted by her laughter.

"I make the deals and get 'em to sign on the dotted line with their precious little souls. The King of the Crossroads actually honors the deals. He's the one with the power. You're wasting your time," She spits out growing tired of the conversation.

"Then get him here," Dean orders, but she just smiles and shakes her head.

"That's not going to happen and you know it, Dean," she growls and wishes she could turn away from the fire burning through the furious man before her.

Dean circles her, tapping the blade against his leg over and over again.

"Guess that's it then," he mutters and turns towards her.

She nods her head. "Guess so," she utters the last words she will ever say as he stabs her with angry determination before wiping the bloody blade on his jeans.

Dean squats down next to her and looks at his blade with distaste for what he must do next.

"It's for Sammy," he whispers and slashes at her chest until he's hacked out her heart.

Lifting it carefully from her chest, he places it in the jar the hoodoo priestess gave him to use should he be able to get the ingredient.

His eyes harden as he wipes his bloody hand on his jeans and cleans the knife again.

He stows all the gear in his go bag and heads for his Ford F250 knowing that he needs to get home before Lisa starts to worry.

"How was your day, Dean?" Lisa asks as she passes the mashed potatoes across the table to him.

"Busy. Still working on that house in Stillwater Cove, but it's coming along. Went for a drive in the country to clear my head a bit after work," he answers putting a mound of potatoes on his plate and topping it with the white gravy Ben just set back on the table.

"Good. Ben and I were thinking we should have a BBQ this weekend. You've been here a few months, and I thought you might like to get to know the neighbors," she suggests watching him for his reaction.

"Why?" Dean asks as he pulls apart a roll and stuffs it in his mouth.

Lisa tips her head and then shakes it realizing he's never done this stuff before. "It's what normal people do, Dean," she tells him watching as he takes a few big bites of the potatoes. She smiles when he closes his eyes to enjoy the home- cooked meal.

He realizes she's waiting for his answer and shrugs. "Will there be beer?" He asks with a charming smile.

"Of course. We can even go over to Home Depot and get a new grill," she offers grabbing her glass of wine and taking a healthy sip.

"Sure. We'll go after dinner," he poses as he finishes his roll and picks up his tumbler of whiskey and drains it.

Getting up from the table, he rinses his plate off and puts it in the dish drainer. The motion actually makes him smile as he realizes how ordinary it is.

"I'll grab my purse. Come on, Ben, let's go," she pushes him gently towards the sink with his dish, and they head to the car when the dishes are finished.

Twenty minutes later and they're pushing an orange cart around the store.

"What's with the red spray paint?" Lisa asks as she picks up one of the cans from the cart.

Dean shrugs and takes the can from her hand to place it back in the cart. "Just need to touch up a few things," he notes looking over the contents of his cart.

He's buying rope, but for a tire swing for Ben, not to tie up demons.

The rock salt he picked up is actually for his driveway, not to make ammo for ghost hunts with Sammy.

He shakes his head at how surreal that seems and thinks about his brother and how much he misses him. He rubs his hand over his face and glances at Lisa when she places a hand on his arm, her expression asking if he's alright.

"Can we get another tool for my toolbox, Dean?" Ben asks causing Lisa to smile.

"That'd be fine," he answers hoarsely, detouring to the tools and pointing a few out to Ben along the way.

Finished with their purchases, they head to parking lot, and Dean loads the new grill into the back of the pickup truck along with all the other purchases.

He opens his door and settles behind the wheel to take them home.

The thought sobers him for a moment as he turns from the parking lot melding into traffic.

He has a home, something he really hasn't known since he was four years old. Home has always been with Sammy in some run- down motel room or the Impala. Dean tries to shake off the maudlin feelings that settle over him.

Shaking his head, he smiles over at Lisa, takes her hand across Ben's lap and squeezes it before returning his hand to the wheel.

Pulling back rom his dark thoughts, he cranks up the radio and they sing to Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll."

As he taps the steering wheel to the beat, he smiles and notes that for the first time in a long time he almost feels happy.

Dean leans across the table and places the jar on it.

"I got it. Are we gonna do this or not, priestess?" He asks impatiently, sneering a bit at the title as he eyes the hoodoo priestess suspiciously. She's about ten years older than he is with long dreadlock braids running down her back and eyes wise beyond her years.

She meets his gaze without flinching. "You came to me. And call me Afia since you obviously have no respect for my title. I promised to communicate with your brother and I will," she reminds him as she gathers the rest of the ingredients together, pushing long tendrils of black braids back over her shoulder.

She grasps the jar in steady brown fingers and empties the heart into a large metal bowl.

Dean wrinkles his nose in distaste at the wet plop it makes when it hits the bottom of the dish and looks away.

"Thanks for that little party," he says sarcastically as he gestures towards the bloody heart and remembers cutting it from the demon's chest. "Why'd you need that anyway?" He asks, anxious to get this thing in motion.

She glances up at him with large dark eyes. "You told me your brother is in hell, and the demon's heart should bridge the gap to make the connection," she explains continuing to place additional herbs and a small animal skull in the basin.

He nods as that actually makes complete sense to him. "So how long will it take?" He asks watching her every move.

"As long as it takes. I'm almost finished with the preparations. I just need a few things from you," she announces pulling a small blade from her flowing skirts.

Dean winks and pulls out his own. "No, thanks. I don't know where that's been. Brought my own," he offers and gestures with the knife that she move this along.

"Spit in the bowl, then cut your left hand and bleed for your brother," she clarifies and he moves to do her bidding squeezing blood into the bowl.

She cuts her own hand and reaches to grasp his own, but he flinches away.

"I'm trying to help you," she prods as she allows her right hand to rest face up on the table waiting for him to place his own in it.

He hesitantly reaches across the table and clasps her warm brown hand in his own much larger one.

"The offering?" She inquires holding out her other hand.

Dean reaches into his pocket and produces a Ziploc with several strands of hair in it.

"This belong to him?" She verifies looking into his serious eyes.

He clears his throat. "Umm, yeah. Dude had a lot of hair," he qualifies and she drops it into the bowl.

Quickly she lights a match and drops it into the bowl along with several other herbs.

She closes her eyes to the flame and begins to chant a prayer in Gullah, hoping to pierce the veil between life and death.

Repeatedly, she tries, her lilting voice delivering the incantation in beautiful melody over and over again.

Dean's eyes tear up when it dawns on him that Sam would love this, the nuances of a rarely spoken language calling to a loved one beyond death.

After a couple of hours, Afia slumps forward over the table causing Dean to move quickly to catch her.

"What's wrong?" He demands in a quiet but firm voice leaning over her trembling form.

She cries out as he moves her off the table helping her to sit upright.

"What happened?" He demands shaking her shoulders in an effort to rouse her.

"I…couldn't find…him. I couldn't even sense him. You said he was in hell?" she asks, her accent heavy due to exhaustion.

"Yeah, he's in the cage," Dean answers cautiously.

Her dark eyes widen expressively. "THE cage? Lucifer's cage?" She asks, anger beginning to cloud her expression.

"Are there a lot of those down there? Of course, Lucifer's cage," Dean spits sarcastically waving his free hand through the air in frustration.

"YOU should have told me. Ain't no white magic hoodoo strong enough to get to that cage, Mon Cherie. You'd have to call on the dark magic," she says as she's overtaken with fear.

Afia pushes up from the chair and gets to her feet slowly. "You risk my life for this foolishness? Dark magic ain't nothin' you want be messing with," she cautions turning toward her altar. "Leave the money and go now."

"Guess this means we're done," Dean notes from across the table.

She eyes him suspiciously before replying, "More than done. Do not contact me again."

"The protection charms?" Dean asks, stepping over into her space.

She points towards the table by the front door. He pockets them and returns to face her as she steps away from him.

Dean pulls a large chunk of bills out of his jacket and grabs her by the hand.

"I'll do whatever it takes to get my brother back," he says pressing the wad of money into her hand. "Thanks."

She shakes her head disapprovingly. "I know he was your brother, but maybe you should ask yourself if this is what he would want for you," she finishes turning away from him.

Dean pauses at the words and a small part of him knows that she's right, but it doesn't matter.

He may have promised Sam that he would live an apple pie life, but he could never give up on him without trying everything to save him.

"What happened to your hand?" Lisa asks and Dean glances down at his bandaged left hand.

"Oh, I cut it," Dean answers succinctly and continues to slice up vegetables for the barbeque without looking up at her.

Lisa places her hand on the side of his face and turns it towards her. "On the job?" she asks and he pauses in slicing up the celery.

He tips his head as if coming to a decision. "No," he states before he finishes prepping the veggies.

"Dean, what's going on with you? The unexplained bruises and other injuries that I've noticed over the past several weeks," Lisa inquires plucking a celery stick from the cutting board and taking a bite as she watches him closely.

Dean carefully sets down the knife and closes the distance between them.

Meeting her curious gaze, he inhales deeply, smelling the light floral scent that he will forever associate with her.

"Leese, don't ask me questions you don't want the answer to," he says wrapping his arms around her.

She looks up at him, and he raises his eyebrows as if in challenge.

"Ok. What going on with you, Dean?" Lisa repeats more sternly not allowing him to distract her by his nearness.

Dean exhales and turns his head away looking around the kitchen debating what to tell her.

He turns back to face her and takes a deep breath.

"And if I don't want to talk about it?" Dean asks and her eyes widen with surprise.

Lisa takes a minute to process this new information before standing on her tiptoes and gently kissing his mouth.

"What was that for?" Dean asks, his brows drawn together in confusion.

Lisa tilts her head and studies him for a minute. "Then I guess we don't talk about it," she answers then looks up into his eyes, her expression serious. "I noticed there's a new locked cabinet in the garage. Is that another thing we're not going to talk about?"

Dean has the grace to look sheepish as she looks through him like only his brother has ever been able to do. That's where he's keeping all his research on hell and demons. "Um, yeah," he admits and she chuckles at his pole-axed expression.

"I told you I was here for whatever you need," Lisa reminds him, and it's his turn to chuckle.

"You're something else, lady," he says as he pulls her up in his arms and kisses her breath away.

Lisa places her hand on his cheek. "You may be a pain in the ass, but you're worth it, Dean," she promises and starts to pull back when she sees the hunger in his eyes. "Oh no, we don't have time for that."

"There's always time for that," Dean growls raising his eyebrows suggestively just as the doorbell rings.

Lisa laughs and pushes him away. "You were saying?" She asks as she dances out of his arms to answer the door only to return a few minutes later with the first of their guests.

"Dean, this is our neighbor Sid and his wife Katie Ann," Lisa introduces as Dean firmly shakes each of their offered hands.

Fifteen minutes later and there are a dozen people in the backyard. He's talked to several of them, even if he can't remember their names. He's tempted to duck into the house to get away from the constant buzz of polite conversation, but his promise to Sam keeps him from doing that.

"Apple-pie life," Dean mumbles and Sid casts him a sidelong glance.

Dean thinks about all those hours on jobs that he and Sam spent together. Hunting wendigos, werewolves, ghouls, ghosts and tulpas are things that none of these people know a damn thing about.

He thinks about how a part of him misses that time with his brother.

Realizing that his thoughts are drifting in a direction he'd rather not go right now, he turns to Sid beside him.

"How 'bout a beer?" he asks, looking again at all the people gathered in his backyard.

He strides over to the cooler and grabs a couple of beers. Walking back across the plush green lawn, he hands one to Sid.

"So, what do you do?" Sid asks in an effort to get to know his new neighbor a bit better. Lisa has always been a wonderful friend, and he wants to see her happy. According to his wife, Dean makes her happy, so getting to know the guy seems like a good idea.

Dean shrugs and answers the question. "I'm in construction," he says and it amuses him that for the first time in forever, he's actually offering an honest answer.

"Working on a special job right now?" Sid inquires taking another sip of his cold brew. "Mmm, good beer, man."

"Thanks. Umm, no, nothing special. Just working on a house over in Stillwater Cove," he answers, looking around the backyard at all the people milling about.

They talk about Jayhawk basketball for a bit before Dean and Sid head over to throw the burgers on the grill.

"We should catch a game together some time," Sid offers, taking another slow sip of his beer.

"Sure," Dean says with a shrug remembering the last ball game he and his brother watched together. Swallowing another swig of beer, Dean concentrates on clearing his mind and not burning down his own backyard.

"Nothing beats a well-made bacon cheeseburger," Sid groans and Dean smiles and puts more burgers on the grill.

"You're a good man, Sid," Dean notes and flips a few of the burgers, and his eyes light up with appreciation as the meat sizzles and he tosses some cheddar cheese on a few of them.

"Hand me that plate," he says, gesturing for a platter that Lisa set out on the little table next to the new grill.

After eating a couple of bacon cheeseburgers, he plays catch with Ben and a few of his friends. Dean hasn't thrown a ball around like this since he was twelve, when Bobby took him to the park. He smiles at the memory and tosses the ball to Ben again.

"Guys, come and get some dessert," Lisa calls holding up a homemade cherry pie.

Dean snatches the ball out of midair and hollers, "Come on, Ben. Looks like your mom made pie."

They make their way over to the table on the patio, and Sid and Katie Ann say their goodbyes and head home.

Dean sits down at the table to have some dessert and another cold beer and looks around the yard.

"Where is everybody?" He asks as he looks longingly at the pie.

"They left while you were playing ball with the boys," she answers and cuts a large slice of pie for Dean knowing it's his favorite.

Lisa sets a plate in front of him and lays a hand gently on his shoulder.

"Did you have fun, Dean?" She asks with a radiant smile, and he salutes her with his beer bottle.

"Best day I've had in a very long time, Leese. Thanks. You too, buddy," he says as he leans towards Ben and gives him a playful smack on the back.

Dean smiles and pulls two small packages wrapped in newspaper from his pocket. He hands one to Ben and the other to Lisa.

"Mom, you go first," Ben says and watches as she opens the paper to a beautiful crystal and stone necklace on a simple gold chain. She smiles and hands it to Dean to help her put it on.

"How does it look?" She asks, smiling up at him.

Dean returns the smile and adds a wink and a tip of his head. "Perfect," he relates and motions to Ben to open his own.

Ben tears his open and glances at it. It's a black leather cord with a charm on it like the one Dean wore the last time he was here.

"I'd like you to wear these all the time," Dean states, taking it from Ben's hands and putting it on over his head.

Ben looks at Dean and asks, "Didn't you use to have a necklace kinda like this?"

Dean reaches a hand to his throat where his own amulet used to reside and feels its loss keenly. "Yeah, I did. Sam gave it to me, but it's gone," he answers. Lisa looks at him in quiet understanding and takes his hand and squeezes it.

Dean thinks about the last time he'd seen it. He'd just thrown it away. One more regret in a long list of them. Lifting his beer, he shakes his head and takes another couple of swallows of the bitter liquid.

For just a moment, a memory surfaces of he and Sam sharing a beer out on a pier a few summers back. He pauses and lifts his beer to his lips to drain it.

Lisa smiles over at him, and the world seems to fall away when he's with this woman. Maybe he should give that a little more thought. His time with her eases the emptiness he feels at the loss of his brother.

"Will you tell me another story about your brother some time?" Ben asks, his eyes shining with interest.

Lisa answers before Dean has the chance. "Not tonight, Ben. Let's get this stuff inside and put away," she suggests and picks up the rest of the pie.

Lisa and Ben go inside, and he takes another moment to think about Sam. Those last moments at Stull Cemetery fuel his nightmares. God, he misses him. He places the cool empty bottle to his forehead as tears prick the back of his eyes.

Pushing up from the patio table, he goes into the house and locks the door before bending over to check under the rug.

Dean performs his regular perimeter check, looks out all the windows to check the neighborhood and ensure his salt lines are in order. He verifies that each devil's trap under each and every rug remains unbroken.

Turning into his office, he sits down behind his desk and pulls out his laptop. He pours a shot of whiskey and brings up the list of links a religious studies professor sent him. He doesn't want to be too long, but he needs to check a few more sites about a possible lead.

Finishing his whiskey, he pours another and drains it quickly.

He realizes how relaxed he feels and it startles him. It was a perfect day and he really owes it all to Lisa and Ben.

Shutting down the laptop, Dean heads upstairs, changes into pajama bottoms and a t-shirt and joins Lisa in their bed. She turns over and lays her head on his shoulder.

"That was a wonderful day, Dean. I'm glad you were here to share it with us," Lisa says sleepily tucking her hand under her head on his chest.

"Me too, Lisa," he states running his fingers through her hair before placing a gentle kiss on her head.

He reaches his other hand over the edge of the bed towards his Colt M1911 and the jar of holy water that reside there just in case.

Lisa sighs as she falls asleep and Dean can't help but think how incredibly lucky he is right now.

"Kaliopi Shadowalker?" Dean asks the young woman sitting at the table in the busy coffee shop.

She studies him cautiously before answering. "Yes?"

Dean takes the seat across from her. "I've heard some things…" he starts glancing over at her.

She sighs heavily and takes a deep breath. She tilts her head to the side, and her purple eyes flash angrily. "Yes, I practice witchcraft. No, I'm not going to turn you into a frog," she snipes before picking up her mocha latte and taking a sip.

Dean smiles charmingly and meets her defiant gaze. "Animal Transmutation. You really got that kind of juice, witch?" He asks keeping one hand on the table while the other hand rests on his blade.

Her eyes widen slightly, but she gives nothing else away. "What do you want, hunter?" She inquires coldly setting her cup back on the table in front of her.

It's his turn to be surprised, but he maintains a careful façade.

Shaking his head, his lips flatten in determination and he leans forward slightly. "Not anymore. Look I don't want any trouble. Heard you were the one to talk to about a little spell work," he says trying to be less confrontational. Sam always said he should work on his people skills.

"I'm listening," she says folding her hands on the table in front of her.

Dean takes a breath and asks, "You think it's possible to have this discussion in private?"

She shakes her head. "I'm perfectly content having this discussion right here," she informs him plainly, clearly not comfortable with his presence but not wanting him to see it.

Dean's head ticks to the left and he shrugs, "You astral project worth a damn?"

She bristles slightly before pinning him with her deep purple eyes. "Yeah, since I was six, asshole," she hisses, keeping her voice low in deference to the topic and other patrons.

"What about passengers?" Dean inquires holding her confrontational gaze.

She nods before answering, "That's dangerous."

"You up for it, Kaliopi?" Dean challenges, removing his other hand from his blade and placing it on the table as he studies her closely.

She glances towards him and leans forward bringing herself within striking distance, a calculated risk. "You know my name. Mind returning the favor?" She asks, extending a modicum of trust by moving this close to him.

Dean takes his time to study her. How much can he possibly trust her? In the end, he has to balance his disdain for witches against his need to find out about his brother.

He takes a deep breath and looks her straight in the eyes. "Dean," he states quietly. "Now answer the question. Can…you…do…it?"

Again, she nods and tips her head forward towards his own. "Better be a damn good reason," she rasps in her smoky voice.

"You got family?" Dean asks and she puts a hand to the locket at her neck.

"I've got a sister," she answers and he nods starting to believe he may finally be in the right place.

Dean takes a deep breath and questions, "What would you do for her?"

"Anything," she breathes clasping the locket in her fingers.

That cements the deal in his mind, and he gives her a smile. "Same here," he assures her before continuing. "I had a brother, Sam."

"Had?" Kaliopi pries, hoping to gain insight into what he's truly asking of her.

Dean turns away as his emotions almost get the best of him. He shoves them down into the lead box where he keeps that crap and slams the lid shut. Turning back towards the young witch he pronounces, "Yeah, had."

She studies him for several minutes before her eyes brighten, and she sits up in her chair. "I will help you. I assume since you found me that you've done your homework?"

He nods and gestures towards his go bag.

Smiling, she stands up and reaches for his hand. "Guess we're doing this," she states and he gets up without taking her hand.

"Looks like," he answers and follows her out of the coffee shop.

They walk a few blocks down to a little house, and she turns up the walk.

"This way," she says leading him along a winding walk lined on either side with twisting rose vines.

Dean follows cautiously watching for any sign of deception on her part. He stays far enough back that she can't slip any kind of hex bag on him. It's not ideal and he hates having to trust a witch, but it took him four months to get this together and it's too important to screw up now.

Opening the door, she tosses her keys in a little blue ceramic bowl near the door.

He watches her, smirking at the gesture.

"What? Even a witch can lose her keys, Dean," she says, her tone sharp and amused at the same time.

"Okay," he drags out before looking around her place. "Where do you want to set up to do this?"

She points towards the room at the end of the hall.

"After you," Dean says waving his hand to move her along.

She laughs, a light tinkling sound that almost sounds like wind chimes. "Got a few trust issues, Dean," she purrs with a wicked grin on her face.

"More than a few, darlin'," he drawls hefting his bag up higher on his shoulder.

She leads him into an open space with an altar on one wall. He's surprised by how high the ceilings are in the room.

"Some spells require a bit more room," she offers surprising him once again.

He stops her with a hand on her arm. "Psychic and a witch?" He asks holding her eyes to his own with a mere look.

"Makes the astral projection that much easier. So, what's the plan?" She inquires showing him where to place the files that he's just taken out of his go bag.

Sorting through everything, Dean pulls out the main file he needs for her.

"Are you reading my mind right now?" he asks, waggling his eyebrows.

She sighs and nearly smacks him. "It doesn't work like that. It's more like body language combined with empathic clues, I guess is the best way to explain it," she explains quietly.

Dean just tips his head considering and opens the file he's put together. "Okay, so what I need is to astral project into the veil, summon a reaper and pull it here into a trap I'll draw out on the floor.

"A reaper? As in the Grim Reaper?" Kaliopi requests in a shocked voice.

Dean just smiles like a cat that ate the canary. "That's about it," he quips, and she closes her gaping mouth with an audible snap.

Rubbing her face as if waking from a dream, she opens her eyes wide and stares at him.

"Not a joke," he confirms, and she shakes her head slightly.

"Guess we got some work to do," she comments, clearing several books off the table.

Dean pulls a can of white spray paint and looks over at her. "I'm gonna need to paint a trap on your floor. That work for you?"

Kaliopi looks over at the floor and pulls up the Egyptian rug lying there. "Will this be enough room for your trap?" She asks stowing the rug in a nearby closet.

Dean looks over at the area and nods. "Should be fine," he says walking over and squatting down. Shaking the can of spray paint, he starts to paint the octagonal sigil on the wooden floor.

Carefully painting the Enochian runes on each of the eight sides, he sits back on his heels to check his handiwork. One little mistake and the trap would be ineffective.

Satisfied this would hold whatever reaper they manage to grab, he pulls out the paper with the summoning spell on it. He holds it up to her and asks, "Will this go through to the astral plane?"

She glances over at the paper in his hand. "It should go through just fine," she replies and takes the paper from him. "Nice summoning spell," she comments handing it back to him.

"Better work," he murmurs, stuffing it in his pocket for the journey.

"We'll need to be on the sigil, so when we come back to this plane with the reaper it'll be trapped; otherwise, we run the risk of it getting away," Kaliopi notes as she takes in his impressive sigil work. "Where did you learn this?" She questions, her voice ripe with admiration.

Dean glances at the trap. "From a demon named Alistair. He used it to trap a couple of reapers back in Wyoming awhile back," he elucidates while stowing his files before the trip.

"Anything you need to do before we get started?" Dean asks motioning around the room.

She shakes her head. "I have everything I need right here," she relates pressing her hand to her heart. "Shall we?"

He lays a hand firmly on her shoulder and separates his feet slightly to increase his balance and stability. "Once we trap the reaper, you take off. You don't need to be on their radar," Dean warns her and she nods affirmatively.

She closes her eyes and together they are thrust into the misty veil.

Dean reaches into his pocket for the paper and draws it out slowly. "Messorum evoco qui me tetigit," he reads his voice solemn and commanding.

He looks up from the paper and a woman with dark hair appears and turns around.

"Son of a bitch," Dean exclaims and grabs her arm. "Sorry about this Tessa," he apologizes and Kaliopi draws them back into their reality which solidifies around them.

Stepping from the trap, Dean bends over, a little disoriented from the journey.

Kaliopi exits the room quietly as planned, and he turns towards his prize, a mixed blessing at best.

Tessa glances around the room, pinned in place like a bug under a microscope.

"Are you kidding me, Dean? What is this?" Tessa demands looking at the Enochian runes surrounding her.

"Long time, no see, Tessa," Dean greets with a cross between a grimace and a smile.

"Dean, what are you up to?" Tessa tries again with a little more success.

Dean shrugs and steps closer to the octagon without breaching it.

"I need a little help, Tess," Dean starts hoping to get on her good side, if she has one today.

"Tessa," she corrects, her eyes radiating disappointment and anger. She sighs and rolls her eyes at him. "Why exactly should I help you? You've been nothing but trouble since the day I met you," she scorns, and he has the intelligence to look somewhat contrite.

He sucks in a breath through his teeth. "I'll give you that. We did save your ass in Greybull, though," Dean points out helpfully with a tight smile.

"Sorry about Sam…." Tessa changes the subject only to be cut off abruptly.

"Don't. We don't believe the lies remember?" Dean spits out, his green eyes flashing angrily.

"Okay, what do you want?" Tessa demands, placing her hands back on her hips.

"I need you to get something for me. I've seen what you can do, and you can help me grab it easily," Dean clarifies, meeting her curious and angry gaze.

"Seriously?" Tessa inquires, her face a mask of confusion.

"There's a book, a grimoire, called the Clavicula Salmonis Regis. It's in hell. I need you to get it for me," Dean explains, maintaining eye contact.

Tessa's jaw drops incredulously. "Sure, Dean. What makes you think I can even do that?"

"You traffic souls, Tessa. I know you have the access," Dean insists, circling her in the trap like a shark would its prey.

"Dean, it's not like I have free reign down there. There are rules," she explains, following him with her eyes as much as she is able.

Dean spins towards her, his rage erupting. "Rules? I don't give a damn about rules, Tessa. It's for Sam. Screw the frickin' rules," he shouts as his hands tighten into fists at his sides.

Tessa glances at his serious expression and her own softens. "Dean, I know this has been hard for you," she starts.

"Screw you, Tessa. You've got no idea what it's been like," he barks and starts to walk away.

"Dean?" Tessa calls out and he turns back towards her. "You're right. I'm sorry. Look, Hell's a big place…"

Dean smiles and pulls a small notebook out of his go bag. "Lucky I've got the coordinates," he informs her cockily.

"Do I even want to know how you got those?" She asks her head tipped to the side.

"Probably not," Dean answers honestly flipping through his notes. "What's it gonna be, Tessa?"

She takes a few moments to consider all that he's asking. "I do this and when I'm done?"

Dean nods his head. "I let you go, free and clear, no strings," he promises and, after another period of consideration, she nods her acquiescence.

"Hey, Dean. What ya doing?" Ben asks as he walks into the garage.

Dean shrugs and leans across the book he was reading. "Just looking through some stuff. Did your mom send you out to get me?" Dean asks, looking past Ben toward the house.

"Nah, she's going to the store. Said we'd be hungry when we got through, and she wanted to make a pot roast," Ben informs him shrugging his shoulders. "Did you forget?"

"Not at all," he answers a bit too quickly. "Wait, forget what?" He amends looking at Ben's crestfallen face.

"We were going to work on the truck today. It's okay," he reminds and starts to turn away.

"Ben, wait," he says, pausing until the boy turns around to face him. "I did forget, but that doesn't mean we're not going to do it. Give me a few minutes to put this stuff away and go grab your toolbox."

Ben's eyes light up as he spins around to follow Dean's orders. "Thanks, Dean!" He hollers excitedly as he runs for the house nearly mowing his mother down in the process.

"Slow down, Ben. Where's the fire?" she yells after his retreating form.

Lisa comes into the garage and looks at Dean with a smile. "Hey," she greets as she watches him gather his stuff and put it away.

"I thought you were at the store," Dean says and turns back towards her after locking the cabinet.

She shakes her head and offers, "I'm just heading out. Is there anything you need, besides beer?"

"Nope. Beer's good. Ben said you're making pot roast?" He verifies and smiles when it's confirmed. "Awesome. Shouldn't take us more than a couple hours. We're just changing the oil and replacing the air filter."

She nods. "I'll be back in a bit," Lisa tells him with a smile just as Ben races back into the garage in his grungy clothes. "Good, you remembered to change this time," she says in passing as she ruffles his hair. "You boys have fun."

Dean grabs his smaller toolbox and opens the main garage door.

They pop the hood on the Ford, and Dean starts testing Ben's memory on what each part does.

He directs Ben to check the oil level as a practice run and then tells him to go get the drain pans while he grabs the socket set.

They spend the next two hours working on the truck talking and laughing before coming in to clean up and get ready for dinner.

Dean walks into the kitchen drying his hands on his clean jeans. He smiles when he sees Lisa humming as she puts the finishing touches on the pot roast. She looks up from her roast laden platter and gifts Dean with a huge smile.

"Hey you," she says warmly as his arms come around her.

He moans low in his throat. "That smells awesome," he groans and she smiles up at him.

"It's not the only thing," she purrs appreciatively as he wiggles his eyebrows up and down at the compliment.

"Guys," Ben grumbles coming into the kitchen. "We're about to eat. Really?"

Dean and Lisa laugh and disengage, and she carries the platter to the table.

Grabbing three glasses from the cupboard, Dean fills them with ice and grabs the water from the fridge.

Lisa pours a whiskey for him and a glass of wine for herself, and they settle down to eat.

"Well, dig in guys," she invites and both guys reach toward the center of the table.

"Don't have to ask me twice," Dean says loading his plate with the fragrant meat and a large helping of potatoes.

He takes a large bite and closes his eyes in appreciation, thankful that he's right here at this moment in time.

Dean's eyes gleam in the pale light thrown off by the dark blue and black candles on the small table before him. He adds a drop of liquid mercury into the iron basin as well as a handful of dirt. Grasping a tiny glass bottle in his hand, he deposits several drops of frankincense into the bowl as the bindweed and grabs the matches.

Flicking one lit, he drops the match and looks out over the devil's trap painted in red on the floor.

"Ȩίµᾳἰ o ƁᾳợƖλἱᾱṩ Paimon. Πoίoṩ µε Ӄᾳλεἰ?" The demon utters disgustedly as he looks at the man before him.

"English, dude," Dean gripes as he glares at the effeminate man before him.

"I am King Paimon. Who summons me?" he repeats in a hoarse voice.

Dean smiles sarcastically and says, "That'd be me, but I'm the one asking the questions."

"And your sacrifice?" Paimon queries annoyed with being disturbed.

"Sorry, no sacrifice. Just a friendly little chat depending on your level of cooperation," Dean insists pulling the demon knife forward, the inscription on the blade gleaming.

Paimon glances from side to side and looks down at Dean. "But there must be a sacrifice if my Djinn are not present. It's always been so," Paimon dictates aristocratically.

"Not today, sweetheart. Answer my questions," Dean orders and the demon sighs insufferably.

"Very well. King Paimon has been summoned to your service, although the lack of sacrifice is completely thoughtless on your behalf. What do you require of me?" He questions flatly.

Dean rolls his eyes at the demon. "Dude, are you serious? No, never mind. You are obedient to Lucifer and I need some information on your boss," he inquires slapping the demon blade against his leg.

"Very well, he's indisposed at the moment, but if you insist," Paimon waves his hand towards Dean.

Dean shakes his head, then drops the knife and grabs his head with both hands as a powerful vision grips him.

He sees Lucifer in the cage laughing as he rends pieces of flesh from his little brother and hangs them on hooks. Sammy's barely recognizable, hanging from one wall of the cage, his entire body flayed and bloody.

The cage ceiling drips with Sammy's blood which runs in rivulets down the walls. What's left of his brother hangs in shambles around him and yet somehow, he lives. His brother's screams echo throughout the small dark space, and Dean can take no more.

"Stop," he yells at the top of his lungs trying to move to help his brother, but he is powerless to do anything but watch.

Suddenly, the cage disappears, and he is back in the shack where he's holding Paimon. He falls to his knees and vomits on the floor trembling and shaking with the force of the vision.

"Did you get what you need?" Paimon asks knowingly, and Dean wants to kill him so badly he aches with it.

Dean wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and swishes a little water to wash away the putrid taste.

"Was that real?" He asks the demon knowing he really doesn't want the answer to his question.

Paimon nods and simply states, "You know it was."

Dean returns the nod with tears in his eyes. Pushing himself to his feet, he asks one last question of the demon. "How do I get him out?"

"I'm not sure that you can," Paimon answers honestly.

Dean's eyes flare with rage. "Screw that," he hisses out slamming the contents of the altar to the floor.

"Very well. There's a sacred book called the Clavicula Salmonis Regis…" Paimon starts gesturing grandly.

"I've heard of it. What about it?" Dean questions sharply losing his patience more quickly than usual, not wanting to admit how much the vision has shaken him.

"In it, there a book called the Ars Almadel. It's a handy little instruction guide on how to find an angel. Perhaps that will help," Paimon explains and requests his leave.

Dean glares up at the demon and, squatting down at the edge of the trap, scratches away the paint with the blade allowing the king to leave.

His mind flashes back to the images in the cage, and he rubs his forehead in an effort to push them away.

"Well hell," he whispers to the stillness of the room.

He's so close. He can just feel it, but he can't seem to cross the finish line.

"No! Get away from him!" Dean yells out breaking the stillness of the night.

Lisa startles awake and looks worriedly down at Dean grasping the sheets in white- knuckled hands. "Dean?" she questions. "It's okay. It's just a dream," she soothes and he settles down, his face relaxing into a more restful pose.

Looking over at the nightstand, she sees the nearly empty bottle of whiskey she'd just bought two days ago.

The nightmares had been coming less frequently until these last few days and now they seemed to be back full force.

Getting out of the bed, she crosses to his nightstand and picks up the empty tumbler and the nearly empty bottle and heads downstairs.

"I wish I could get him to talk to somebody," she mumbles heading into the kitchen and grabbing a glass of water for herself.

Lisa steps over to the message board by the phone and sees the picture of Dean and her. It makes her smile as she thinks of the day it was taken.

There are pictures of Ben, Dean and her all over this board. She pinned a picture of Dean with Sam up here almost a month ago, but Dean ripped it down and went ballistic.

She hasn't brought it up since. She has a sister and knows it would nearly destroy her if something happened to her, but this isn't healthy. She'll talk to Dean tomorrow about getting some help.

Heading back to bed, she crawls in next to a quietly sleeping Dean and falls to sleep.

His alarm wakes her the next morning, and she opens her eyes to see him watching her.

"Hey you," she whispers in the still morning light.

Dean smiles. "Hey you, back," he says and gently kisses her forehead good morning.

Watching him carefully, she asks him about last night. "How'd you sleep?"

"Fine," he answers, and she looks at him doubtfully.

"You had another nightmare," she informs him, and his eyes flick away from her.

He starts to move away, but her head on his shoulder keeps him there.

"Dean, I think maybe you should talk to somebody," she suggests, broaching a subject she's sure will not go well.

Dean's green eyes shutter as his face pulls down in anger. "I'm talking to you," he states and she shakes her head.

"Not since that first night and, Dean, you need to talk to somebody who knows about grief, a professional counselor," Lisa's recommendation falls on deaf ears as he carefully moves out from under her.

"I'm fine, Leese," he grates and turns back towards the bed. "Good talk," he bites out and heads out to get ready for the day.

Lisa drops back in the bed, and tears prick her eyes at the pain Dean must endure. She stretches her arms up above her head and laces her fingers on top of her head wondering what else she can do if he won't seek help.

She gets out of bed, throws on some clothes and heads down the stairs where Dean's making breakfast for all of them.

She smiles when she realizes he's made pancakes, Ben's favorite.

Dean leans over to receive her kiss on his cheek and he smiles.

After breakfast, he grabs his tool belt and heads for the truck. He stops on the way to give her a kiss goodbye.

For a moment, she wishes she could compartmentalize as well as he does.

"Have a great day," she extends as he heads out the door.

"You too, Leese," he says with a smile and then he's gone to a job that she knows isn't what he's destined to do but does for the sake of his promise to his brother. But not just Sam, he makes these sacrifices for Ben and her as well. Just thinking about how he puts everyone else before him humbles her.

Dean knocks on Kaliopi's door, and she opens it within moments.

"Hey, stranger," she gasps slightly out of breath at having run for the door.

"You alone?" He questions and she nods and invites him in.

They head for the spell room as they've done once before.

"I still think we should do this in the shack," Dean insists. "Angels are dicks and tend to do a lot of damage."

Kaliopi continues on to the room unperturbed by the discussion.

"My magic is stronger here," she confides crossing to her altar and bowing before it.

Dean drops his go bag next to the same table he used to detail the plan for Tessa. Carefully, he lifts out a large rectangular package wrapped in newspaper.

"That the wax tablet?" she inquires as he unwraps the bundle to free it.

Laying it gently on the table, he moves it in front of her, and she cautiously picks it up.

She takes it to her altar and gently places it on the ceremonial cloth.

Taking out the crystal given to her by her grandmother, she touches the four corners of the wax tablet and then touches the crystal to her own eyes.

Closing her eyes, she drops her head backward and clears her mind of all clutter, reaching out with perfect clarity to find that which she seeks.

Dean pours a circle of holy oil on the floor and grabs his lighter wanting to be ready when the angel finally appears.

"Rah ah gah ee oh es," Kaliopi chants before adding on the final incantation, "Vee nu nocho kee ah she peh the poh ah ma lah deh zod."

The room is suddenly bathed in a bright white light and the high- pitched sound that Dean remembers from Cas.

Then it all stops and an older man with dark wavy hair and a beard stands before them. Dean tosses the lighter onto the oil, and the ring of fire pops up preventing any escape.

"Hi, how ya doin'?" Dean says to the angel, and Kaliopi eyes him incredulously as she ducks out of the room.

The angel turns to look at him, and Dean is struck by his regal posture.

"Why did you bring me here? You know this fire will not keep me for long. I am Mastema. God has charged me to persecute evil and carry out his punishments," the angel's voice booms through the vaulted space.

"Awesome, but just need a little info, dude," Dean grounds out tiredly. Six months of trying to get to his brother have exhausted him.

"I am the Angel of Disaster sent to test humans in their faith," Mastema drones on once again.

Dean sighs heavily. "Look man, that's a hell of a recruitment poster, but shut up," Dean raises his voice over the monotonous tones of the angel and slashes him with an angel blade just to get his attention.

Mastema stops, holding his arm against his body, and glares at the taller man. "Was that really necessary?"

"Apparently. I'll cut to the chase. How do I get my brother out of Lucifer's cage?" Dean asks quickly, a small burst of hope blooming within him at the words.

Mastema tilts his head to the side and studies the man before him. "You are Dean Winchester. You were to be Michael's vessel until you defied God's plan," the angel informs him unnecessarily.

"I lived it so I don't need a history lesson! Answer the damn question. Angels got me out of hell. I need you dicks to get Sam out!" Dean demands, his whole body tense like a bow about to fire.

"What you ask is impossible. We sent a legion of angels to lay siege to hell to raise you out of perdition, Dean Winchester. Many of us died and that wasn't to get to Lucifer's cage, which incidentally resides in the deepest level of hell. That cage was made by God himself. He designed it to be impenetrable to the three other archangels should they decide to help their brother," Mastema instructs without emotion.

Dean looks into the angel's eyes, and for the first time in six months, he knows he has found his answers.

He knows, without a doubt, that no matter how hard he fights to get Sam back, this is the end. He was only one man trying to do the impossible and break through the impenetrable where even a legion of angels couldn't possibly go.

He scrubs his hands down his face and douses the flames holding the angel. What use was there to look further?

Turning away from the center of the circle, he vaguely hopes that the angel will kill him for his insolence, but when he turns back he finds he's alone.

He heaves his go bag onto his back, bids Kaliopi goodbye, and stumbles to his truck waiting at the coffee shop down the block.

He pulls his heavy body into the cab and lays his head down on the steering wheel in defeat.

Turning the key in the ignition, he pulls his head up and heads towards home, his heart heavy in his chest.

Dean pulls into a parking space across from Jonesy's Bar and Grill and shuts off the truck. He should go home and be with Lisa and Ben, but his thoughts are too dark and he can't bear to dump this on them right now.

He gets out of the truck and stumbles across the street without bothering to check for traffic. A muscle car nearly hits him, and he almost chuckles at the irony.

Dropping onto a bar stool at a table inside, he orders a whiskey neat and asks them to leave the bottle. After a couple of drinks, a shadow appears over his table, and he glances up at a familiar face.

"No ice, buddy. Must have been a bad day," Sid voices as he pulls out the chair across from Dean and takes a seat.

Dean looks at him silently and utters quietly, "You have no idea." He drains the lowball glass and refills it again.

Sid puts his hand on Dean's arm and whispers, "Whoa, slow down, buddy."

Dean shakes him off and looks him straight in the eye. "You remember telling me about Terry?"

"My brother? Yeah, but what's that got to do with…" Sid starts, his voice low.

"My brother's dead. Leave me be," Dean interrupts with a growl, and Sid's expression changes to one of compassion.

"Jesus, Dean," he breathes as all the air seems to leave him.

Dean refills his glass and offers some whiskey to Sid who accepts the gesture.

"To Sammy," Dean slurs, raising his glass towards his friend.

"To Sammy," Sid repeats clinking his glass to Dean's before taking a sip of the amber liquid. "I'll get you home to Lisa when you're through, okay?"

Dean nods but he's not really paying attention to anything but the booze. He empties the last of the bottle and orders another.

"Maybe you've had enough, Dean," Sid suggests and Dean takes a swing at him. "Maybe not," he amends dodging the blow, shaking his head at Dean's self-destruction.

Sid sits next to him in silent support as Dean hopes the whiskey will wash away the empty hole left in his chest by the loss of hope he feels.

He drains glass after glass until he's no longer coherent and loses the ability to feel much of anything.

Sid sensing his friend's nearness to passing out hefts him from the chair and to his own car where he helps him into the passenger seat and calls Lisa to let her know what's happened.

Dean mumbles incoherently the entire ride to his driveway. When they pull up, Lisa opens the front door and meets Sid halfway to help him get Dean in the house. She's thankful that she sent Ben to spend the night at a friend's house so he doesn't have to see Dean like this.

Together they get him into the house and opt to drop him on the couch where he can sleep it off.

"You need any help?" Sid asks as he glances down at his passed- out friend.

Lisa shakes her head. "He's never drank this much," she mumbles and Sid shakes his head figuring maybe in his shock he didn't tell Lisa about his brother.

Sid lays a hand on her shoulder and says, "He told me his brother died."

In that moment, Lisa understands everything. She knows he's been trying to find a way to bring his brother back as he said he would that first night here. She's seen the elusive behavior, the bruises, the late nights and the mysterious weekends when he said he had to go out of town.

Something happened today which made him realize that no matter what, Sam wasn't coming back, and her heart breaks for the pain he must have felt.

"Yeah, he's been dealing with a lot these past few months. Thanks for getting him home safely, Sid," Lisa explains as she steers Sid towards the front door. "We'll be fine. Thanks again."

Lisa sits vigil next to the couch with a bucket for an hour before Dean begins to groan. She grabs it just as he rolls over and begins to wretch, vomiting copious amounts of alcohol into the pail.

After several attempts to rid himself of his stomach, Dean rolls back over and falls asleep. Lisa mops his face with a cool cloth and sits down in the chair next to him to wait.

As the hours pass, she sits up with him dozing lightly as she does for Ben whenever he's been ill.

A pained moan from the man on the couch rouses her to full consciousness.

"Dean?" she calls as he places his hands on either side of his head and groans again.

He opens one eye and glances towards the disembodied voice. Seeing Lisa, it all comes rushing back to him. His brother's torture and his helplessness to stop it are almost too much to bear.

Lisa gets up from the chair and kneels down next to his head. "Dean, I know you're hurting right now, but I'm here," she whispers placing a kiss on his cheek.

In that moment, he sees it all as it happened that fateful day in the cemetery.

Lucifer using his brother's body to nearly beat him to death.

Cas blown apart spraying blood all over the dry field.

Bobby, a man he would be proud to call his father, broken in a heap in the dirt.

The look of peace on Sam's face as he started to fall backward into the pit accepting his fate.

Sam had beaten the devil and saved his life, and he had a promise to keep to his little brother.

Echoing in his ears, he hears the words again and vows he will do his best to live the apple pie life his brother wanted for him.

He owes Sammy that and in the end keeping that promise is the best way to honor his brother.

Tears leak out from his eyes at the realization that, though he failed to bring Sammy back, his little brother had still saved him.

He opens his eyes and looks at Lisa and the concern brewing in her dark brown eyes.

Placing his hand on her cheek, he kisses her softly and whispers, "I'm finally home."

In that moment, she knows that he will be okay and that all the ups and downs of the past six months were coming to a close.

He had reached acceptance and even though he'd been through hell to get to this place, the whiskey nightmares were finally over, and Dean was starting a new life today, one filled with a different kind of hope from any he had known before.

The hope of greeting a new beginning, even without his brother Sam.

The End

Whiskey Nightmare by The New Roses

Dirty minds in dirty bars, driving blind in dirty cars

Wasted time and wasted power, spend my last dime on wasted hours.

Lost Ways and Lost fights, lost days and lost night, cold tiles, cold love, On trial cold enough

Refrain: Wake me up cause I feel this pain with no chance to heal it

Wake me up cause the more I try to fight it the more I feel it

Won't somebody wake me up from this whiskey nightmare?

Strange location strange behavior, Strange salvation from a strange savior

Too many mistakes but one excuse, a heart that break ain't got no use.

Last will, last border, last kill, last order, big chain I carry, got nothing left to bury

Refrain

Another glass of my disaster and the world turns faster and faster

Wake me up cause I feel this pain with no chance to heal it

Wake me up cause the more I try to fight it the more I feel it

Won't somebody wake me up from this whiskey nightmare?