Everyone had a problem with Sulvis' plan, although they all had different reasons. The resulting argument was going full volume and showed no sign of abating when suddenly Sam's eyes rolled into the back of his head and he hit the ground before anyone could move to catch him.
"Sam!" Bobby leapt to his aid.
"What the--?" Danny blinked at Sulvis. The goddess had been sitting on the surface of Her pool again, watching them with a mildly annoyed expression, but had yet to interrupt.
"This is why we should not delay," She snapped, rising smoothly and stepping out of the pool. She was shorter than any of them, but Her presence was greater than all of them combined. "Agron has begun on Samuel's brother. If we do not act quickly, it will be too late."
Sam, who had been groggily regaining consciousness, groaned when he heard this, doing his best to get to his feet. "We have to--" he gasped, clutching at his head and faltering, sinking to one knee and falling heavily against Bobby. "D-Dean!"
"Can you shield him?" Rusty asked Sulvis, his full lips drawn tight, his expression grim. Danny surmised from this exchange that Sam was somehow picking up his brother's pain. That was bad, on several levels. It meant that Sulvis was right, and they really needed to hurry, it meant that Agron was hurting Dean, which thought made Danny's skin crawl, and if Sulvis couldn't shield Sam, it would render him virtually useless at a time when they needed as much manpower as they could get.
Fortunately, that last wasn't an issue.
"I can," Sulvis replied, and She didn't so much as blink, but suddenly all of the tightness left Sam's body and he took a great shuddering breath. This only lasted a moment, his head hanging, then he stiffened again, surging to his feet, but this time his tension was fueled by rage and determination.
"We have to go. I have to get Dean back."
Sam's eyes, already bloodshot, were even redder, his face drawn in harsh lines, his pale skin lightly dewed with perspiration. No one was inclined to argue him on this point; not when it was Dean Winchester's existence on the line, and certainly not when the poor broken boy was being hurt, tortured, at this very moment.
Danny had to admit that he was slightly curious as to how Sam was feeling what his brother was experiencing when he'd declared himself to be completely void of any extrasensory powers after the fire salamander Hunt, but now definitely wasn't the time to ask.
They had to get Dean back before his body was appropriated for this Eil Ton. As Sulvis had pointed out, and as Sam had so effectively demonstrated, they were rapidly running out of time. There were no more options left.
"All right. How do you want to do this?" Rusty asked Sulvis, dragging his hands through his hair in a way that indicated clearly to Danny that he wasn't anything like so calm as he sounded. They all had to stop bickering and focus, though. That much had become abundantly clear.
Sulvis smiled at Rusty, Her eyes bright as Her own waterfall where it tumbled through the sunlight into Her pool. "Find somewhere comfortable and lie down."
Rusty cast his gaze about at the grass, rocks, and dirt, then rolled his eyes. Danny fidgeted and frowned.
"I still don't like this," he spoke up as Sam pulled a hotel towel out of the bag he'd brought along and handed it to Rusty. "I don't like you being a human battery."
Rusty rolled his eyes again, but at Danny this time. "Like I'm any happier about you volunteering to play horsy," he shot back, spreading the towel over a spot where there was more grass and moss than stone.
"And I just love the thought of standing guard over yer fool ass while the rest'a you go off and get into trouble," Bobby growled, one hand still on Sam's shoulder as he glared impartially between Rusty and Danny. "But that ain't gonna stop me doin' whatever I hafta do to save Dean. That bitch is hurtin' him right now. No more in-fightin'!"
Sam flinched at this blunt declaration, growing even more pale, but Bobby's words served to get them all moving.
There was still a lot to do, and Agron was in the process of destroying Dean Winchester as they stood around bitching. Better to get a move on, and pray that they were in time and everyone emerged from the coming encounter intact.
Danny had a really bad feeling about this whole thing, though.
He was exquisite in his agony. She had known all along that she had made the right choice, but now that he was here, in her hands, beneath her, in her realm, she was even more certain.
A beauty to match her own, a face and form worthy of her Eil Ton. She had waited so long, had been through so much trouble, had expended so much of her own personal energy and the lives of others, but now she finally had her perfect vessel, and soon she would be in the arms of her consort once again. All would once again be as it should be.
This boy, his lovely body, was younger than Eil Ton had been when he had been killed, but he would grow. He would mature into a handsome, powerful man -- this she already knew, the promise locked within his flesh -- and with Eil Ton looking out through those clear green eyes, he would be stunning indeed.
Not that this man-child, this broken boy now living in this body, was not a prize in his own right. If she did not need his body so badly, if she had the time to play with him properly, he would have made a fascinating toy. It was too bad that she and Eil Ton could not both entertain themselves with him together, make him into their own shared plaything... but the fact that she was going to use his body to house her Consort sort of precluded that possibility.
She mourned the loss while dwelling blissfully on the anticipated result. With this boy's sweet features and his innate powers, Eil Ton would be even more perfect than he had been before his death. And he would be more than enough to finish the task that had cost him his life the first time; he would have strength enough to wipe out Sulvis. Agron's sister, lover, rival, and now her bitter enemy.
What love had once been between the two of them had turned to animosity. What they had once shared was a tainted memory and what they still shared was a splinter of aggravation that could no longer be ignored.
Sulvis had killed her beloved Eil Ton. There could be no forgiveness for that. It didn't matter that she had directed him to kill Sulvis first; the loss had been his, the pain had been hers, for so many turning of the seasons. Now was the time to repair that injury, to put things back to rights in her enclosed little world. Soon she would have her Eil Ton back, and all would be well.
The boy beneath her writhed, his supple limbs twitching in flashes of pale flesh through the silt. The cleansing pained him, but it was necessary. He had been defiled, was unclean, and she would not touch him as such, much less place her consort within his body. Soon he would be pure in form and function, and then he would be a suitable vessel for her Eil Ton.
She was concerned, a little, at the strength of this child's bond to his brother-lover, but once his spirit was purged from his flesh that should not prove a problem. In the meantime, it did not slow her in her cleansing of his flesh. He had shrieked, reaching out for his brother with his mind, but shortly after that the bond had weakened, and it had done nothing to slow her in her task.
As the last of the impurity left him, she reached down, clasping his bony face in her slender hands. His features, drawn in an expression of agony, relaxed a little at the cessation of pain, and he slumped down in a loose-limbed sprawl. He was still small and slim, not yet a broad, powerful man, but he was beautiful and tempting for all that, in a way that a full grown male would not be. She would be glad when Eil Ton grew into his adulthood, but she would also enjoy the time between, when his body was youthful and tender.
She pressed her mouth to his full lips, which parted for her. Not so much in obedience, as he was dazed and insensate, but the taste was sweet nonetheless. Still, it was nothing to Eil Ton's eager, rough kisses, and so after a moment she lifted her head away.
Reaching around to the nape of his neck, she traced her fingertips over her mark, set in his skin there. It claimed him as hers and hers alone. His soul may belong to his brother, but his flesh, his form, this was hers. Time and travails had separated them, but now here he was, back where he belonged.
He was still struggling to breathe, not realizing that he did not need to, and she stretched her other hand over his narrow chest. So weak and delicate... for all his innate strength. Oh, if only she had the time to play with him properly. Now that the stain of sex was off of him, now that his blood was thoroughly cleansed, he was simply lovely to behold, pleasurable to touch. Soft and new, his body that of a young boy who had only just begun to become a man. She had to hurry to oust his spirit and house Eil Ton in his body, but she could not help the desire to toy with him while he was still Dean Winchester, still broken and terrified and helpless before her.
She would not have this again. There would never again by such an exquisite boy with so much strength, who was at the same time so broken. The Melusine had done much of her work for her, shattering his mind while leaving his essence intact. That was why she had been merciful, had struck and destroyed the sea-bitch -- the pallid echo of what a goddess could really be -- without taking the time to strip her of everything she had to offer first.
Of course, that had proved to be a good thing, when Sulvis had struck before she had gotten her prize to safety. She had lost her perfect vessel for Eil Ton, and she and Sulvis had very nearly been the death of one another.
That would have only been fitting, of course, to die together as they had once been bound in life.... But she greatly preferred the scenario where only Sulvis died, and she herself lived on forever in beautiful immortality, with her strapping consort at her side. Because as this body matured, her Eil Ton would be tall and strong again.
She had almost lost hope during those two turnings of the season, when Dean Winchester had moved further and further away from her, his body and broken mind rendered ever more tainted by the contaminating touch of those vile mortal men, the ones who had claimed him, had dared to claim her prize as their own. If they had not been destroyed by the boy's family she would have done her best to see they died a painful, lingering death, for presuming to violate what was hers.
His small nipples tightened under her wandering fingertips, and she smiled in the darkness of her pool. He might not desire this, his flesh still quivering, his mind still reeling with phantom pain, but his body already knew her touch. This was as it should be, and again she mourned the fact that he would have to become a vessel for her Eil Ton. If only there had been another suitable male she could have used instead....
She had briefly considered the boy's father when he had shown up in the area, dark and forceful, handsome and tall, when she had been growing ever more desperate, but then Sulvis had swooped in and taken the choice away from her. That was just as well; he would not have truly suited, and his disappearance had served to draw Dean Winchester right to her.
Beneath her roaming hands, the boy was beginning to collected his scattered consciousness, stirring where he lay at the bottom of her pool, on the altar she had constructed so many turnings of the seasons ago. This was where she would bring her Eil Ton back to her, where he would claim this vessel as his, and she would be able to embrace him again.
Dean Winchester stiffened as she clasped his malehood, still small but he was yet a child and it would grow as his body grew. She smirked, thinking that Eil Ton might very well be displeased, but this body would mature, and she was sure that he would grow to appreciate having a second youth once he remembered that there were benefits. The blood sprang fresh and unfettered in the young, after all, and there was very little need for recovery time.
Beneath her, the boy currently within the body whined soundlessly, trying to squirm away, and she frowned, stroking the shaft of his hardening member. He should be honored that she was gifting him with this attention while he was still within this flesh. She knew why he was not, though. The touch of his brother had not tainted his body, but it had claimed his mind, burning away all else and leaving within him no place for anyone who was not Samuel Winchester.
She frowned more deeply. Once she had had that relationship with her own beloved sister.... But it had soured and turned to the emotion that was the opposite of love. Perhaps the Winchester brothers should thank her for tearing them apart before they suffered a similar split.
Of course, human lives were short, so perhaps they could have carved themselves a niche of happiness in the spinning of the world. The possibility was there, she supposed, but now it was eliminated. Because this vessel was hers, and Samuel Winchester would not be getting his brother back.
The boy's broken mind might not desire her ministrations, but his body told a different story. Her smile returned as his member rose to fill her palm, more of a handful now that it wasn't flaccid, and perhaps Eil Ton wouldn't be so disappointed after all.
The secret parts of her own body were reserved for her consort, and only Eil Ton would ever touch her there. But that did not mean that she couldn't taste of this body's essence while he was still Dean Winchester. The pain and fear -- emotions that Eil Ton never felt -- would be something to savor, and she had never been one to deny herself anything that she desired.
Running her fingers down the sides of his chest, feeling the dimples between his ribs where lack of proper food and exercise had robbed him of musculature, she pressed an open-mouthed kiss over his heart. It beat against her lips, adrenaline surging through his blood, and she smirked. The flavor was diluted by the water of her pool, but she could taste his musk, the clean tang of mortal flesh. He was still young, in body if not spirit, and she had just cleansed him, so there was nothing to spoil the savor.
The boy whined soundlessly again, trying to writhe away from her touch, from her wandering hands and lips, but his movements were sluggish and weak. He was panicked, not realizing that with his borrowed powers movement through water was as easy as moving through his more familiar air. He would have adjusted, perhaps, given time, but time was something that he did not have.
Smiling, she clasped his straining erection, sliding smoothly down his body to crouch between his thighs. It might have been better if they'd had more time, but they did not. Sweeping her tongue over the blunt tip of his member, she relished the heat of the flesh, the mingling of salt and sweetness that spread through her palate. Here in the tight heat of her mouth the chill water of her pool could not wash away the essence of his sexuality, and she slid her lips smoothly over the shaft of his slim but stiff member, swallowing more of him down.
It was intimate and enticing, and he might be struggling to extract himself from her entwining arms and ravenous mouth, but he belonged to her now and he wasn't going anywhere. She would give him his satisfaction, draw it from the center of him, force him to face it, and then she would replace his conscious with Eil Ton's. Dean Winchester ought to thank her; she was assuring that the last physical experience he had was pleasurable.
His thighs were tight beneath her palms, his seed slick on her tongue, and his thrashing attempts at freedom were growing weaker and more pathetic as she dragged mounting tension into his malehood, into his entire body, with each tug of her hungry mouth.
She cupped the closely-drawn sac at the base of his shaft, fondling the delicate lumps, fingers pressing just so, taking care not to cause pain, even though she knew that in other circumstances a little sting could enhance the thrill.
Dean Winchester's hips twitched, trying to escape her touch, trying to press into it, his instincts warred with his desires. He was weeping, thick and painful, choking on the water of her pool, but then his entire body stiffened, muscles pulling taut, and he loosed a throttled cry as blood-hot seed filled her mouth.
She swallowed it down, taking his essence into her, making sure not to lose a drop of it. It was her due, the libation that he offered to the altar of her alabaster flesh, her crimson lips, as he would soon be giving up his entire body to house her beloved Eil Ton.
Pressing herself down onto his quivering form, she licked a warm swathe up the bony angle of his jaw and his sharp cheekbone. He shivered and shook beneath her, his eyes squeezed tightly closed, his chest still heaving as he tried to drag in great panicked breaths of air that did not exist down here. Such a sweet, silly, foolish child. Well, soon his fear would be gone, his desperation passed, when she washed him from this flesh and replaced his consciousness with her Eil Ton's.
She had everything planned, down to the last detail. What she had not counted on, however, was the tenacity of one Sam Winchester, and the spitefulness of her sister-goddess. Even a sure thing could be derailed by something entirely unexpected.
And the first explosion took her completely by surprise.
Sam breathed shallowly, tiny, hesitant breaths, and not just because he was trying not to freak the hell out.
Sulvis had assured him that he would be perfectly fine; so long as he stayed within Her range, he would not drown. But to have his lungs completely flooded, to be breathing water instead of air.... It wasn't as horrifying as his dream had been, it wasn't the living choking that he remembered, that he somehow knew that Dean was suffering down here, but it was wrong, and even the powers of a goddess couldn't make his instincts recognize it as right.
"We have to hurry," Sulvis urged, striding beside him. "We've already wasted too much time and Agron has had your brother since the cusp of the morning."
It was weird to have Her speaking directly into his head and to hear Her voice instead of Danny's mellow baritone, when it was the other Hunter's body She was using. It was also weird to look over and see Danny's brown eyes flashing Sulvis' blue-green-blue, bright in the dimness of deep water. Even weirder to know that Danny was still in there with Sulvis, not in stasis or shunted aside; simply letting Her use his body, standing aside and watching as a spectator.
Sam tried to focus on the weirdness so that he could ignore how terrifying this all was. The water of Agron's pool weighed on him like a frigid blanket. They was so deep that there was only a hint of sunlight above his head, the water a distant glowing turquoise. They were in the dark and he couldn't see more than a handful of feet around him in any direction. At least this deep they had left behind the weeds that had twined around his calves and tried to cause him to twist an ankle when they had first entered the water. Beneath his feet, now, the bed of the pool was a little rocky and very silty. He knew he was breathing in some of the muck they were stirring up as they walked, and that thought didn't do anything to aid him in deepening his breaths.
To be walking into Agron's pool, breathing its water, with only the powers of a goddess keeping him safe, keeping him alive.... If Sam hadn't already known that he was insane with worry over Dean, he'd have wondered if he was nuts. Bobby had certainly made his opinion known, but Sam knew that he was as concerned about Dean as Sam was -- inasmuch as that was possible -- so he had just ignored the older Hunter and gone about doing what he'd decided was the best thing, the only thing that he could do.
He knew that he was placing a huge amount of faith in Sulvis, with no guarantee that She was telling them the truth or that She didn't have Her own hidden agenda. But there had been three seasoned Hunters in their group, and even though he'd been at college for the past three years, Sam had spent a large part of his childhood and teens Hunting. Hell, Rusty was psychic, and he was willing to place himself and his partner into Sulvis' hands. Sam didn't think that they could all of them be wrong.... He sincerely hoped not, anyway. Because this as probably going to be their only chance of getting Dean back. And if he didn't get his brother back--
Sam's brain shut down on that thought. That was not an option. They were going to get Dean back, safely, and that was all there was to it.
It was strange, walking underwater with a goddess. It wasn't as easy as walking through the air, but there was less resistance than there would have been if Sam had been down here with scuba gear. He couldn't forget that he was underwater, fucking breathing water, for fuck's sake, but it wasn't as awkward as it should probably have been.
Sam was here by grace of Sulvis' power. Sulvis was here by virtue of Danny being willing to lend Her his body. She'd explained to them that while She was able to do the same things that Agron could do, while their history together had rendered them both able to access one another's abilities, She would not have otherwise been able to enter Her sister's realm.
Sulvis could not go into deep water -- not without a mortal host -- and Agron could not travel through moving water. Not without either of them expending much of their respective powers to do so. And right now they both needed all of the power that they could summon... though for decidedly different, opposing reasons. In fact, if it hadn't been for Sulvis tapping into Rusty's powers, where She had left him entranced beside Her waterfall, She likely would not have able to do this at all.
Sam really didn't care what the hell these goddamn goddesses did, so long as he got his brother back, safely and sane. He was going to get Dean back and that was all there was to the matter.
He and Sulvis in Danny's body had gotten to Agron's pool that same way that Agron had come and taken Dean from their bed, evidently. That was what Sulvis had told him. Sam was glad that there had been a shortcut -- that second mark on his father's map was quite a distance from Sulvis' pool as the crow flew, much less on foot.
It had been strange and yet effective. Together, Sam and Sulvis in Danny's body had walked into Sulvis' shallow pond, and even though the surface of it didn't reach much above Sam's knees, suddenly he had been engulfed, the water surrounded him, and he had spiraling away, as though being sucked down a drain or sinking into a whirlpool. The next thing he had known, he'd been walking along the bed of the pool, slimy weeds dragging at his legs, his lungs flooded, and it was only the steady presence of Sulvis in Danny's familiar body beside him that had kept him from completely freaking out.
Well, that and the knowledge that somewhere deep in this fucking pool, somewhere ahead of him, in the dark and the dank, was his Dean. He would have done anything for his brother. Walking willingly into a frigid, filthy hell was nothing; especially not when he knew that Dean was suffering in the center of it.
One of Sam's boots glanced off of something that felt lighter than the scattered rocks that he'd kicked before, and he glanced down instinctively, before recoiling slightly in horror. What he had just kicked was a skull, and not an animal skull, a human skull. What the fuck?!
"We near my sister's altar," Sulvis spoke into Sam's mind again, Her tone disapproving. She didn't seem as freaked out as Sam felt, but her distaste was clear, Danny's handsome features drawn tight. "Many have died in sacrifice and their bones rest in her pool."
Sam shuddered, hoping that there weren't any restless spirits down here. This rescue operation was touchy enough without an angry ghost throwing a wrench into the proceedings. Well, if the dead down here had been sacrifices, then perhaps they had been willing...?
"A sacrifice need not be willing, Samuel," Sulvis murmured, and She was reading his mind again. "Your brother is living proof of that."
Sam opened his mouth, unable to remain still, needing to know when and how they were going to save Dean, and maybe he wouldn't be able to speak underwater, but he needed to know, but then Sulvis unslung the bag they'd brought down with them from Danny's broad shoulder.
"Here is good enough."
Sam swallowed some brackish water before he could get his mouth closed and fought his gag reflex. It sat on the back of his tongue, the sour tang of old dirt and cold metal. It was the flavor of despair and defeat, the echo of death, and more than anything he wanted to have Dean in his arms, to hold him close and feel the blood pulsing in both their bodies.
"Soon enough, Samuel," Sulvis said softly, setting Danny's broad but graceful hand on Sam's shoulder for a moment before turning to Her task. "Now help me with this. We are nearly out of time."
Sam didn't know what had possessed Rusty to bring waterproof explosives with them -- he and Danny had claimed they'd been leftover from the fire salamander Hunt -- but he was intensely grateful. This wasn't much of a plan, but it was all they had, and if nothing else it would have the element of surprise. At least, Sulvis claimed it would, and Sam desperately hoped that She was right.
He couldn't move as quickly underwater as he'd have liked, and his stomach turned a few times when his feet uncovered additional bones -- more than could be attributed to just one person -- but Sam worked to aid the goddess as fast as he could. He might not know what time the clock was ticking down to exactly, but he could feel it in the back of his head, and he knew that Dean's existence depended on them getting to him before it reached zero. They were racing against time and adrenaline was just about the only thing keeping Sam going at this point, between fear, rage, and the debilitating lack of Dean at his side. Adrenaline and the all encompassing need to get his brother back.
They laid the charges, and Sam turned to Sulvis. He could barely make out Danny's rugged face through the sediment-thick water, but the bright flash of the goddess' supernatural eyes met his gaze steadily.
"Are you ready?"
As if there was any answer to that question but one.
Sam didn't know what policies God might have when dealing with pagan deities... but he cast a quick prayer up toward the surface of Agron's pool nonetheless. Because he was terrified this wasn't going to work, and they could use all the help that they could get.
Sam was glad that Sulvis was down here. Not just because he wouldn't even be able to venture underwater this way if She hadn't been, but also because he needed Her guidance. All he could feel was the chill of the water surrounding him, all he could see was the darkness, and he'd have been lost if he'd been alone.
Following Danny's powerful shoulders, Sam went even more deeply into the depths of Agron's pool. He ignored the bones shifting around his feet, focused on the fact that he was headed toward his brother.
It seemed they walked forever, striding through the stagnant thickness of the water, but Sam could see the sense in getting as far as possible away from the explosives before detonating them. Whether it was sane or not, he trusted Sulvis to know what they were doing... but that didn't mean that they shouldn't be prudent.
"We can't delay any longer," She finally said, and Sam shivered feeling his skin prickle in gooseflesh. Mostly he wasn't affected by the iciness of the water -- no doubt due to Sulvis' protections -- but it was there, chilling him through, even if it wasn't debilitating.
Sulvis pulled the detonator out of Danny's pocket and Sam had a moment of panic when he thought that it might not be water resistant... but he should have trusted Sulvis to plan better than that.
The concussions washed through the water surrounding Sam, a lot different than being near an explosion aboveground. He staggered, nearly knocked off his feet by the wall of water that pushed against him, and it was only Danny's hand with Sulvis' strength behind it that kept him upright.
"Now, go, that way," She directed, gesturing.
Sam gulped down bitter silty water. Sulvis had said that he would have to stay near Her to remain safe--
"Go!" She urged, giving him a shove. "I'll keep her distracted, but it won't last very long!"
The promise of Dean was before him, and Sam had trusted Sulvis thus far; he might as well trust Her in this as well. He couldn't exactly run through the water, but he moved as fast as he could. There were no landmarks down here, and it was nearly midnight dark, but Sulvis removed the shield that She had placed between Sam's mind and Dean's, and he could feel his brother's fear and pain before him like a beacon.
Dean was so scared and in so much pain. It nearly brought Sam to his knees again, but he forged onward, because the only way to make it better for Dean, for himself, for both of them, was to get to his brother.
He had no idea what Sulvis, in Danny's borrowed body, was doing behind him, but he knew where Dean was, and that was all that really mattered.
Sam barked his shin a good one on something hard and fell forward. Now that he was separated from Sulvis, he realized how much She had been enabling him to function down here. He couldn't see anything, might as well have had his eyes closed, and he was just glad that he could still breathe, wasn't drowning.
There was more stone under his hands, with a layer of thick silt on top, and he grimaced at the slimy feeling between his fingers, but somehow he knew that he was where he needed to be, and he faltered forward blindly. There were tiers to this thing, whatever it was, and he knocked his knees a few times before his groping hands encountered warm, bare flesh.
"DEAN!" he shouted, only he didn't really shout it, because he was underwater and he couldn't speak down here after all. He clutched at his brother, tugging his limp body into his arms, holding him close.
He was terrified for a moment that they were too late, that he'd lost his brother forever, but then Dean stirred in his embrace, twisting and clenching onto his shirt, shaking hard enough that he felt in danger of coming to pieces. Sam could feel Dean's mind fluttering against his and without knowing how he did it, he opened for his brother, taking Dean's fear and agony and offering as much comfort as he could when he was terrified himself.
They were together. He had Dean in his arms again. They were both deep in the center of Agron's pool, both panicked and nearly helpless. Their lungs were filled with water and Sam had no idea where Sulvis was or how they were going to get out of here, and Dean was in pain, but they were together, and that was all that really mattered.
"Sammy! Sammy, Sammy, Sammy!"
Sam wasn't sure whether Dean was clinging to him more tightly with his arms or his mind, but either way, he would be Dean's strength in this moment of weakness. He held him tightly, wondering if there was any way he'd be able to get down off the stone altar and find Sulvis again with Dean in his arms like this. But there was absolutely no chance that he'd let go. He was never letting go of Dean again.
Suddenly the water in front of him moved, sweeping over him in a cold lick, tugging at his clothing and hair, and he became aware of a presence in the darkness. He held Dean more closely against him, afraid that it was Agron, come to kill him and complete what She had begun with Dean.
It wasn't though. It was Sulvis in Danny's body.
"We have to go!" She snapped, reaching and laying hands on Sam, gripping the material of his shirt and pulling. There was that whirling sensation, like when he had been sucked into this pool, only in reverse, and Sam could only close his eyes tightly and hold Dean against his chest.
They were headed for the surface, for safety. Sam had his Dean back, and Dean was still Dean. Everything else would fall into place as long as those two facts held true.
And of course, as soon as this thought crossed his mind, Sam should have known that something was going to go wrong.
Nothing was that simple, and Agron wasn't going to let Dean get away from Her that easily.
Bobby paced restlessly beside Sulvis' pool, his rifle heavy in his hands, for all the good it might do. Which was probably none as all, but he felt a little better for its solid weight against his palms.
This had to be the stupidest plan he had ever gone along with, and that was really saying something.
When Sulvis had put the whole thing forward, Bobby had voiced his doubts, but of course Sam hadn't listened. Sam had been a little concerned over the role that Rusty and Danny were to play, mainly because he didn't want them doing something so dangerous when this wasn't their fight. But Rusty had firmly put an end to that notion, making sure that Sam understood clearly that this was their fight, it was their Hunt, and they were as dedicated as he was to getting Dean back.
Rusty, of course, hadn't liked the idea of Danny allowing Sulvis to use his body, and Danny hadn't liked the plan for Rusty to give the goddess access to his power. Sam had briefly offered to be the body Sulvis rode, but She had put him off, saying that he would want to be by Her side, would want to be entirely himself when he held his brother in his arms. That had convinced Sam, though Bobby thought that there was more to the whole thing. There had been something guarded in Sulvis' eyes when She had looked at Sam.
And, of course, as they had all squabbled, Sam had passed out and gotten things moving again.
Dammit, Bobby hated being stuck standing around like this, doing nothing while his friends were in danger! Rusty lay where he had settled down, his head resting on the folded towel that Sam had offered him, his eyes closed and his hands folded on his chest. He looked like he was asleep, his face soft and his body relaxed, but Bobby knew that there was more to it than that, and he dearly hoped that Sulvis knew what She was doing and wouldn't drain him of too much of his energy.
Sam and Sulvis, in Danny's body, had gone into the shallow water of Sulvis' pool, vanishing in a swirl of spray before Bobby could blink twice. Not that he'd ever doubted that they were dealing with a goddess here, but damn!
And that was where things had stood. Bobby was standing guard duty. Sulvis hadn't thought that Agron would do anything against those who remained on dry land, but since Her safety and Sam's depended on the bond between Herself and Rusty being unbroken, She hadn't wanted to take any chances. Bobby didn't blame her, but he really itched to be in on the action.
It had been the better part of two hours since Sam and Danny had sunk into the pool. Bobby knew, because he obsessively glanced at his watch. How he had let any of them talk him into going along with this--
This vehement thought was cut short as the entire surface of Sulvis' pool suddenly boiled, spume rising into the air, and Rusty's entire body jolted. He sat up suddenly, crystal blue eyes flying wide. "Shit!" he yelped, leaping up off the ground as though he had been goosed, showing no sign that he had until a moment before been completely lost to the waking world.
Bobby hefted his rifle into a ready position, but it was only Sulvis.
It was only Sulvis, and She grimaced at them both, holding out Her hands.
"Hurry!" She urged, and there was no way in hell Bobby was trusting Her, but Rusty grabbed his upper arm in a strong hand, and before he quite realized, he'd been dragged forward the four steps it took to reach the edge of the water.
Traveling the way that Sam and Danny had was disconcerting, Bobby discovered but he recovered his equilibrium quickly. He hoped that the water hadn't gotten into his firearm, and he kept it at the ready.
They were on the shore of the deep pool in the photo that had disturbed Dean. It looked prettier but more menacing in person, and Bobby didn't think that he was imagining the looming sense of calamity hanging over the still water.
Sam and Dean were at the edge of the water, on their hands and knees, choking up water. Even in this awkward position, the two Winchester boys wouldn't let go of each other, Bobby noted. Beside them, Danny lay on his side, and Bobby wasn't sure he was breathing. There was a thin gash oozing blood at his temple, and Rusty started toward him before Bobby had even really gotten his feet under himself.
"We have to get them all away from here!" Sulvis snapped, Her eyes huge and dark, her hands flexing at Her sides. "Hurry! Help me! She's coming!"
The warning came a little too late, unfortunately. Bobby made it over to the Winchesters and laid his hands on Dean before what felt like a tidal wave hit, striking him like a speeding truck, flooding his senses with cold water. He held onto Dean's bare form tightly, reeling the boy into his arms as the attack knocked him off his feet, tumbling them both over.
The assault lasted only a heartbeat, but it was been long enough. When Bobby blinked his way back to reality, he found that he had managed to hold onto Dean, the boy clasped closely in his arms, but there was no sign of Sam. Rusty was alone on the shore of the pool, Danny gone as well. Sulvis knelt between Bobby and Rusty, Her hair drenched and a tragic expression on Her face. Bobby couldn't even be angry at Her; She just looked so shattered.
More than that, though, Bobby was stunned by the realization that they had Dean back... but at the loss of both Sam and Danny. They were down two men and had no way of knowing where Sam and Danny were and even whether they were alive. Sam had been all right, but Danny had already been wounded, and his absence seemed ominous.
There was blood in the water and disaster in the air. And Bobby had no idea what they were going to do next.