Dean pounded down to the end of the long room. He slid to a stop at the men's room and shoved the door open hard enough to slam it against the wall despite its pneumatic hinge.
"Sam? Sam, you in here?" His stomach dropped. "Damn it."
Abby met him when he stormed out. The stony look on his face told her Sam wasn't there; she forced down a little hiccup of panic.
"Maybe he's stretching his legs," she attempted.
"There're plenty of aisles to walk up and down on this floor. I'll check…" She didn't have time to finish the sentence. Dean was off at a brisk walk, back toward the rare books room. She cursed under her breath and started searching in the opposite direction.
Dean took the trip slowly making sure to check down each narrow book canyon as he went. When he reached the rare books room again he turned to look down the aisle opposite the door. Something on the floor caught his eye.
Tell me you didn't do what I think you did, little brother. A small, colorless lump lay on the floor about twenty feet away. Dean consciously reined in his imagination as he walked toward it. He squatted down, reached for Sam's latex gloves and squeezed them into his fist. "Ah Sammy, what were you thinking?"
Dean started toward the door to the stairwell; again reining in his stampeding thoughts.
"He just needed a breath of fresh air," he muttered to himself. "He's standing in front of the library catching some rays," he insisted as his feet and his heart rate sped up. He hit the door with a bang and a yell. "Sam!" Taking the stairs two at a time he nearly fell as he grabbed the railing hard and shifted his weight in mid-stride to avoid crushing what he saw lying on a step.
Time slowed. His senses sharpened. He reached down and gripped Sam's crystals in his fist. Dean let his eyes roam over the space. About six feet up, marring the sound deadening fabric on the wall, a red smear stood out like lipstick on a white collar. He moved closer, dread tightening his belly and reached out to touch it. Blood, fresh blood. He saw spatter on the floor too. He cursed.
They'd been too slow! Too damned slow! Images swirled through his mind; chains, blood, Sam helpless on an altar. He barely heard Abby run up behind him. She put her hand on his shoulder and brought him abruptly out of the sucking whirlpool of his imagination.
Abby starred bleakly at the crystals in his hand. "Oh, Dean. What was he thinking?"
"It's been no more than fifteen minutes. They could still be here." He said through clenched teeth.
He vaulted up the stairs ignoring Abby's call. Out the door, on the main floor of the library he stopped and scanned the huge open room, and cursed again. Everywhere he turned he saw demons, and werewolves, clowns, presidents and vampires. "I hate Halloween!" he spat. They could have carried Sam's bleeding body straight through this room and nobody would've noticed. Fuming, he started across the wide expanse, half hoping to bump into someone so he'd have an excuse to create a little mayhem. Abby caught up with him and grabbed his elbow. He jerked away from her and kept walking, anger bubbling. She grabbed it again and pulled him around.
"There's a back door." He wasn't hearing her. "Dean!" She cringed at the volume of her own voice and looked around. Several students frowned at her. "They'd use the back door," Abby hissed into his face. Once sure she'd gotten his attention, she turned and led the way.
They both burst out of the double doors onto a wide cement patio with a zigzagged wheel chair ramp leading down to a small parking lot. The ramp's yellow railing looked garishly bright, like a children's crayon drawing. The rest of the world had gone grey. An avalanche of chalky clouds, heavy with unshed snow had rolled down the mountains in the two hours they'd worked inside. The sunny autumn day they'd left was pushed far to the east. The mountains had completely disappeared beneath a cloud-bank, robbing the campus of its spectacular view.
A hard gust of wind with a nasty bite blew open Dean's unbuttoned coat. He didn't feel the sting even as his cheeks flushed red. Abby shivered, drew the bottom of her down vest together and quickly zipped it up to her neck.
Both in full hunter mode now, their gazes swept the parking lot and the backs of the buildings that surrounded it straining to penetrate the gauzy distance. Nothing moved except a couple hurriedly locking their car doors. They scurried up the side walk hunched down in their coats, eager to get inside.
Dean vaulted the railing and headed off around the side of the building before Abby could…. What? She thought. Hold his hand? Tell him everything was gonna be alright? She gritted her teeth. "I'll look around the other side," she grumbled to empty air.
Before leaving the patio Abby took a second to get centered. One slow, deep breath was all it took. Open Sighted hunts were never easy; on Halloween it could be downright unpleasant, but right now she had to be sure she didn't miss anything. With eyes Open, Abby started off.
Dean moved quickly but deliberately; struggling to let his training take over, to slip into the zone like he always did in tight spots. Dad had taught them that harnessed panic was the only difference between victims and heroes. Everybody panics; fear can save your life if you use it and keep thinking. But right now with Sam's life at stake, maintaining focus was slippery business.
He doubted Sam would be upright, at least not unassisted so he didn't bother looking for his brother's tousled brown hair a head above the crowd. He looked for clumps of people moving quickly, but awkwardly. He remembered Sam's description of the long black robes on the figures in the trees and hunted for those too.
About half way around the building, a hundred yards away, he spotted a small group of people, at least three heads above thick folds of grey and brown fabric that the wind tugged and twisted around them. His heart leapt. He angled toward them at a run. The three figures broke apart. The one in the center swung a child up onto his shoulders. Her laughter rode a gust of wind to his ears then quickly skirted away. Trick-or-treaters. He let out a breath that ended in a frustrated moan and resumed his circuit around the building.
Abby rounded the opposite corner as Dean reached the front doors of the library. She moved smoothly past groups of scurrying students, eyes Searching, sliding briefly over every living thing in view.
Nothing in her circuit of the building had startled her till she came around the last corner and Saw Dean.
His aura pulsed green and gold like a neon sign whose light seemed to be in perpetual motion outward. The rest of the world saw a slightly irritated young man and instinctively left a wide space around him. She Saw his aura expand till its edges thinned, stretching out hunting for his connection to Sam. The occasional glaring wave of red buzzing through the green and gold revealed his terror, to her at least. She frowned, took a firm hold of her own growing panic and approached him.
"He's gone." The flat, even tone of Dean's voice was completely at odds with what she Saw. She closed her Sight and braced herself.
"Abby, drive me back to my car."
"Abby, I know where they're taking him. Take me back to my car," he said again; his voice barely controlled.
She answered him quietly. "You gonna drive the Impala up the mountain into the back country? Does it do pretty well in three feet of snow, Dean? Do you even know how to get there?"
She flinched. He was right on the edge. Abby could feel him pulling away from her, girding himself to hunt alone. She had to pull him back. Gently, half afraid he'd bolt, she put her hand on his shoulder. "Dean, you're not alone."
Her words taunted him. His urge to call their dad had his palm itching on the cell phone in his pocket, but he knew that even if by some miracle he could reach him, there was no time. Dad couldn't sweep in and save the day like he had all those years ago for Abby. His brother's life was in his hands alone.
"You can't do this by yourself." Abby enunciated each word. Dean's brow furrowed stubbornly. "You don't have to." She gritted her teeth and let her eyes do the arguing. Ignore your father's voice inside your thick skull this one time. Take this little leap of faith. Her heart thumped up into her throat when she saw his eyes brim with unshed tears. Damn it! She wanted to hit him!
Dad's wrong about hunting alone, Abby's right, simple as that? Dean asked himself. Just trust her and every Tom, Dick and Lizzy she told him was okay? Could he switch from Lone Ranger to Justice League just like that?
Suddenly an image vivid and clear sprang to life in his mind. He saw himself speeding along in the Impala, a black Lone Ranger mask tied across his eyes. At the push of a big red button the car's wheels clanked and shifted turning into four wide skis. He leaned out the window and shouted "I'm comin' Sammy! I'll save you!"
Sometimes, Dean had to admit he was too pig-headed for his own good.
He pulled in a deep breath... and took the leap.
His chin dropped to his chest. A flood of tension left his body. He opened his eyes, really focusing for the first time in a long time on the witch standing in front of him...The furious witch...The one up in his face.
Dean took a half step back. She grabbed him by the collar and pulled him closer.
"You're as stubborn and arrogant as your father!" Abby hissed. "You can't ride in on a white horse and save the damned day every time, Dean! Your macho I can do it all act is totally bogus. I'm not gonna to let…"
"Shut up," he said quietly.
"What? Why you …"
Dean kissed her, hard and fast crushing their bodies together firmly enough to leave an impression. She stumbled a bit when he released her. He jumped quickly into the stunned silence.
"You're right. I'm wrong." He paused and frowned considering his next words. "I think I'm falling in love with you, by the way. What's our next move?"
She stared at him. He reached over and pushed her chin up with his finger till her teeth lightly clicked together.
"I'm right?" She managed.
"And you think you're…"
"And you're asking me what our next move…"
"Abby, we don't have a lot of time here. Who should we call?"
She shook her head trying to process this abrupt about face then frowned at him. "Bastard." He smiled grimly. Abby reached into her purse for her cell phone still grumbling under her breath. "Button your coat. We call Liz. We need her truck and her sleds."
Dean did as he was told. "We still need to stop back at your place. There are a few things I have to pick up," he said.
"That's fine." They were running back toward her car now. "We need snow gear for one thing and maps." She pulled her cell out, making a mental list in her head and called Liz.
Dean grabbed his cell too, kicking himself. He should have thought of this ten minutes ago. He speed-dialed Sam.
Vetis Izar Garanth
Azazel, unholy Father, I have it! Finally, you will accept me back.
Three long centuries past, you vomited me onto this plane. But I survive! Casting myself into one human after another, I took a leader among the chattel. Power flowed from his followers like manna only needing my taint to turn it to brine. I thrived these countless decades on the purity of power freely given.
But at last, triumph. Fate sent your enemy to me, Father. John Winchester, set himself an obstacle in my path. I have contrived to lure this irritant's offspring within my grasp. I will possess the son and wreak such havoc on and with him that John Winchester will remember his wife's burning as if it were a sliver in his thumb!
But most sublimely, the knife I'll twist into his chest will be hope. Hope that his son can be saved, returned to his body, redeemed. Humans endure the most exquisite pain when they indulge in the tiniest sliver of hope. In the end, he will beg me to kill his son; beg me to end them both.
In this state will I present your old enemy to you.
This will be my homecoming gift, Azazel. The angel-touched weakened, but unmolested, his brother utterly corrupted, and John Winchester on his knees.