Chapter 19

The fight bounced Dean off the walls, sent him rolling and tumbling through the debris on the floor. It was like being pitched out of a raft... at night... in white water. When he was lucky enough to bring down one priest, the other jumped him like tag-team wrestlers, fighting dirty. They pushed him further and further from Abby and Sam in an irresistible current. The tiny part of his brain not engaged in staying alive saw that fact as a bright spot. Sam and Abby were out of this nightmare.

The Beretta was long gone. He couldn't tell about the sleeping potion in his pocket, but even if he could get to it, in this chaos he'd probably give himself a face full. At some point he got his hand on the knife at his belt. He swung it out wide, felt it plunge with a satisfying thunk into something firm and meaty. But the punctured priest twisted the knife handle out of Dean’s grip. Another weapon lost.

Dean didn't panic. Until he felt the priests start to strip him. The parka went first, then the flannel shirt. When his t-shirt ripped away, he felt his skin contract like shrink wrap against the cold. Winter gear made decent armor, without it, getting thrown against the stone walls was a whole new experience in pain.

The priests smelled the new quality to his fear. They lunged in unison driving him to the floor.

Dean flailed, flat on his back, out of control in a tangle of punching, gouging limbs and fetid breath. When he felt teeth sink into his bare side, he screamed. A bony fist hammered his chin.

Darkness swallowed him whole.

After several frantic minutes of floundering blindly in the dark, Abby found the flashlight. She briefly examined the formidable iron lock on the door, gave it a couple of tentative shoves with no results and then bent to Sam.

He was on his knees, arms wrapped around his chest shivering again. Wordlessly, Abby trained the light around the tiny cell till she spotted the lamp. She went to it, spoke her spell and lit it.

Sam scooted along the floor till he could lean his back against the wall. He pulled the parka tight around him, clenched his jaw trying not to let his teeth chatter.

"Why c…can't I stay warm?"

"Because you don't have Dean working his mojo on you," Abby said, her voice flat. She began methodically gathering up the supplies strewn around the cell then knelt beside him again.

"What d'ya mean?"

"Dean brought you back when we first found you outside. He warmed your body, cured the frostbite." She held up a hand to silence his next question. "I don't know how. Maybe Dean's been doing this since you guys were little kids and nobody ever Saw it. He wasn't even aware of it happening; just did it."

Sam studied Abby's trembling hands as she dropped herbs and other unidentifiable things from several packets into the open thermos. The idea that Dean had some kind of powers was too much to take in.

"Dean brought you back, but not far enough for your own body's thermostat to kick on. As long as we're in the cold you're gonna keep slipping back." Abby paused, gently swirling the thermos. "This…" she lifted it briefly, "…is why we came here. So I could get this potion into you."

Abby brought the thermos to her lips, closed her eyes and breathed into the opening. On each of three breaths she spoke a word, calidus. The liquid began to boil sending droplets spattering out the top of the thermos. Steam spewed like a miniature geyser for just a second then subsided. He arched a brow when she handed it to him.

"It's gonna hurt like hell," Abby told him. "I can't be nearly as…organic about it as Dean was. But it'll warm you up quick."

Sam sniffed. The potion smelled of cinnamon. The rim of the thermos clattered against his teeth as he brought it to his mouth and Abby reached over to steady his hands. Before he tipped it up he looked at her.

"All of it," she answered before he could ask.

Sam swallowed it down.

It tasted like Red Hots laced with peppers and lava. It burned all the way to his stomach. Sam nearly dropped the thermos, stifled a yelp as pins and needles worked their way out from his gut like he'd swallowed an angry swarm of bees. Abby had been right; it hurt like hell, but it was working. He broke out in a sweat.

Abby didn't seem aware of his distress. She stared at the door, her face stony. "I panicked," she whispered.

Sam frowned. Then tried, but couldn't get any words past his clenched teeth.

"I heard the chant…that voice." She shuddered. "I was right back there on that altar." A tear traced through a red smear on her cheek. "Damn it!"

"Wasn't your fault," Sam managed. He expelled a quick breath and could have sworn smoke plumed in front of his face. He waved it away with one mittened hand. "It happens. You came out of it fast. The bomb-pop was brilliant." He tried a grin, but it turned into a grimace.

"It worked," Abby admitted with a little sniff. "But we didn't expect them to go for…" She shook her head and swallowed hard.

Sam stood unsteadily. The bees had worked their way out to his hands and feet now; energy like intravenous caffeine came with them. Abby caught his elbow to steady him for a moment then he started to pace the small cell, stripping off the mittens and letting them drop.

"You didn't expect them to go for Dean," he said. "I did." Sam struck the door with the side of his fist. He turned and took four long strides to the other side of the tiny room. "I should have warned him. Couldn't get the words out."

"Warned him?"

"Vetis wanted him all along, not me." He unzipped the parka with one hard jerk. "Jess was trying to tell me.”

"But why? Did she say why?"

"No!" He was burning up. The stone floor felt like hot asphalt on the soles of his feet. He started to take off the coat. Abby stopped him and tugged it back up onto his shoulders. He glared at her.

"Leave it on," she said evenly.

"Damn it, Abby," he snapped, but left the parka on.

"Vetis called Dean, Guardian," Abby said.

"Yeah." Sam snorted bitterly. "The nightmares, the friggin' daymare, all of it just to bring me here..." His voice rose. "…all because they knew Dean would track me to hell and back, voluntarily. I was nothing but BAIT! We have to get out of here!"

Sam threw his shoulder against the door. When it didn't yield, he kicked it hard. It might as well have been a stone slab. "You God-damned-son-of-a-bitch!" Sam roared with one last ineffectual kick. He stood for a moment panting then turned and slumped, his back against the door.

Abby watched him warily. "You warm now?" she asked. She reached down, scooped up the wool cap. "Put this back on."

Sam raked his fingers through sweaty hair, gave her a flinty glance.

"Please," she added to soften the mutinous look in his eyes.

Sam snatched the cap out of her hands, put it on.

She wasn't offended. Abby'd been about to attack the damn door herself, but with that potion coursing through him, he made a far better battering ram even if he hadn't accomplished a thing.

Abby's eyes narrowed as she studied the lock again. There had to be a spell on it or on the door or both. Possibilities trotted through her mind. Prudently, she decided to start with the simplest solution. She'd try the mundane approach first.

"You any good at picking locks?"

Sam looked at her, then back down at the lock. The corners of his lips twitched up. "Very.”

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