There were times in his life when Dean felt so utterly useless that it was devastating in its own right, and right now was one of those times. While completely managing to ignore what could end up causing permanent damage to his wrists, he pulled forward with all his might and still could do nothing more than feel his own blood running down his arms, while the futility of his actions cut him as deeply as the shackles did. His battered body was close to the breaking point while his mind threatened to crack if that knife ended his brother's life. And there was every indication that it would.

"In the name of our goddess," Head Honcho proclaimed and brought the knife to a halt a fraction of an inch over Sam's sternum. Instead of hammering the knife into his chest though, all he did was run the tip of it over Sam's chest to the hollow of his neck, just barely nicking the skin. But it was enough to draw blood and extract a groan from his brother. Using the knife, Head Honcho drew a sigil on Sam's chest, and Dean suddenly knew where this was heading. Once the sigil was done, that crazy loon would most likely slice Sam open from the hollow of his neck to his sternum and Dean had no way of stopping it.

Frantic for some kind of intervention, he shifted his gaze to the shadowy figure of the sacrificed girl, who stood ramrod straight and hadn't moved since being resurrected. Even if he could catch her attention, she probably wouldn't help. Whatever was possessing the dead body of the girl had to be some kind of demon and demons were notoriously indifferent about the suffering of others.

Suddenly, every single torch that had died before sparked back to life, and Dean stopped moving for a second when he realized that the entire congregation was on the floor, either out cold or dead. His money was on the latter; not that it really mattered in the greater scheme of things. Sam was still groaning in pain and Dean still couldn't get out of his bonds to save him and it tore him apart.

Then the girl's head suddenly snapped around and she focused incredibly clear blue eyes on him, her face now visible after the veil had fallen off her when she had collapsed to the ground earlier. A frown slipped over her brow, then she blinked almost sluggishly and turned around like a puppet on strings, her movements jerky. The demon inside the body was obviously having trouble controlling the dead girl. She focused on Head Honcho, who had stopped carving the sigil into Sam's chest and was staring at the girl in surprise.

"Holy Mother," he said and bowed his head. "I offer you a sacrifice of flesh and blood," he added and spread out his arms, indicating Sam.

Dean again increased his efforts to get free with the same results as before. All he managed to do was hurt himself.

The girl's gaze settled on Sam for a moment, then she shifted her attention back to Head Honcho and tilted her head to the right in a jerky movement. "Why?" Her voice was raspy, indicating that the cut had damaged her vocal cords.

Head Honcho seemed a little stumped by her question. "So that you know that we are dedicated to you, Holy Mother," he said after a second, his tone a bit wavering. Something about this scenario confused him.

"You prove your dedication to me with blood?" She again shifted her attention to Sam, then back to Head Honcho. "I have not demanded blood."

Head Honcho was obviously having a hard time with her attitude. He looked like he was caught somewhere between surprise and indignation. But then he suddenly noticed that his congregation was out. His gaze roamed over the fallen shapes on the ground around the bonfire and he paled slightly. "We have displeased you," he nearly whispered. "What must I do, Holy Mother?" he then pleaded. "Tell me what you expect of me."

She stared at him, unblinking for a moment, then turned around again to eye the bodies on the ground. Her movements were becoming more fluent and when she turned back again to face Head Honcho, she had obviously mastered the movements of the body she was possessing. "Who told you to sacrifice anyone in my name?" she demanded, her tone cold, unemotional, her voice less raspy now. "The sex I understand. But the blood?"

Dean frowned. 'The sex?' What the hell was she talking about?

"Allow me to finish the sacrifice, Holy Mother. The blood will strengthen you," Head Honcho claimed, obviously not really grasping the fact that his precious goddess was pretty much ticked off about what he was doing. He raised the knife with both hands, again aiming it at Sam's sternum, and Dean lunged forward as far as the chains would allow, panicky and blistering mad at the same time.

The supposed goddess raised a hand, palm facing Head Honcho and the knife again came to a stop a mere inch over Sam's chest. "No one will be sacrificed in my name today," she snarled. The knife was ripped out of Head Honcho's hands and hurled across the cavern.

"But ... Holy Mother," Head Honcho nearly whimpered, fear in his voice and his posture. He had obviously not expected his precious goddess to turn against him, which made Dean doubt the man's intelligence.

She sneered and he dropped like a puppet with its strings cut. Dean barely dared draw a breath for a second. She had killed thirty-odd people without so much as breaking a sweat, which in his book meant she had to be a damned powerful demon.

As if she could hear his thoughts, her head snapped around and she narrowed her eyes at him. "I am not a demon," she snarled and waved a hand at him.

It was like being punched in the gut by one hell of a big fist and the impact slapped him back against the wall hard enough to bruise his back and the back of his head severely. He fought the onset of unconsciousness for a second and tried desperately to ignore the pain that seemed to envelope him.

Sam was struggling against his ties, trying to speak around the gag, which distracted her attention away from Dean.

So, this one could read minds. Well, fine with him. He focused hard on her and challenged her to release him.

The frown furrowing her brow deepened and she glanced back over at him, then waved a hand. The shackles holding his wrists shattered like glass. He hadn't expected it and his generally battered condition left him without much resistence. The second the hold of the shackles ceased, he dropped hard onto his knees and yelped into the gag when his right knee hit a pebble. He braced himself against the floor with one hand while he pulled the gag out of his mouth with the other. "Son of a bitch," he hissed the second he could speak again. His knee was now thudding painfully along with the rest of him.

But he couldn't focus on that. He raised his head and glared at her for a second, then struggled back to his feet. Having been knocked out twice didn't do his head any favors and he was overcome with dizziness for a moment. On unsteady feet, he made his way over to the altar with a heavy limp to assess the damage and hopefully save Sam from whatever this witch had in store for them.

"I am no witch," she proclaimed darkly.

"I don't give a shit what you are," Dean countered angrily. "You just stay the hell away from my brother."

The frown still marred her brow, giving her a dark and nearly dangerous look despite her young age. She shifted her attention to Sam, who was bleeding and still gagged and shackled to the altar. Dean inspected the shackles and couldn't see an immediate way of opening them. Instead, he undid the gag to at least give Sam a chance to speak his mind.

"You okay, Sammy?" he asked.

Sam groaned and raised his head a little, then let it drop again. "I'll live," he rasped. "I think," he added. "Can you please just get me the hell out of these shackles?"

"I'll try," Dean countered and took a closer look at them again. It was hard to focus properly though, and he figured he had a concussion on top of everything else. When his second inspection of the shackles offered no way to open them, he instead looked over at this supposed goddess. "Can you open these? Like you did mine?"

She met his gaze and he could read nothing in her eyes. There was no expression in them. Yet she waved a hand and the shackles holding Sam disintegrated like so much wet tissue paper.

Despite his own aches and pains, Dean helped Sam sit up. "You look like shit, Sammy," he stated and for the first time reflected on the fact that Sam wasn't looking at him. He wondered about that for a moment, then focused on the goddess again. Something was trying to click into place, but he just didn't have the fortitude right now to figure it out. He needed to get Sam out of here first and foremost. Then he focused on the supposed goddess again. "You know, for someone claiming not to want a sacrifice, you sure killed a lot of people," he said and glanced at the bodies in the center of the cavern.

"They are not dead. They are resting," she countered, her tone flat.

Dean glanced down at Head Honcho and realized the man was actually breathing, which confused him a little. But it didn't matter in the end. All that mattered was getting the hell out of here. "Fine, they're resting," he growled and helped Sam off the altar. "We need to find our clothes," he added.

Sam glanced at the girl for a moment, then looked back at Dean without meeting his eyes. "You look like crap," he stated.

"Yeah? Well, that's probably because I feel like crap," Dean countered and ushered him forward. "I think our stuff is in that first cave we woke up in," he added.

Sam nodded lightly. He was slightly hunched over, his right hand covering some of the unfinished sigil carved into his chest.

"Where are you going?"

They both stopped and glanced at the girl. "Out of here," Dean said.

"She just saved our lives, Dean," Sam said quietly. "We can't just leave her here."

Dean glanced at him, unsure of how to interpret that. "What?" he asked. "She nearly drove me through the damned wall and now you want to take her along?"

Sam turned a little to face her. "Who are you?" he asked.

Her expression remained dark, nearly brooding, for a moment. Then she suddenly arched both brows, which gave her a completely different expression. "I am Frigg," she said and looked a little puzzled for a moment.

Sam just stared at her, then glanced at Dean. "She really is a goddess," he said, then focused on her again. "What about the girl you're ... possessing?"

The proclaimed Frigg considered that question for a moment. "Her essence fled. It did not want to return to this body," she said and focused on Sam.

"Fled?" Dean made a face. "Look, can we discuss this where it's warmer? I've just about had it with freezing my ass off in this tomb," he requested, then eyed the girl for a moment. There was no sense discussing whether to bring her or leave her right now. He was cold to the bone, hurting like hell and most of all wanted to lie down somewhere and sleep. "You'd better come with us. You may not be sensitive to the cold, but that body is."

She glanced down herself for a moment. When she didn't respond, Dean figured she could take it or leave it and he ushered Sam forward. "I think it was back there somewhere," he said and nodded toward the entrance the six men had carried Sam through not too long ago.

It took them a bit, but they finally found the right cave and their clothes too. Frigg trailed after them without a word and watched them intently as they got dressed. Dean could honestly admit that she creeped him out big time. She was pretty like hell, but the lifelessness in her eyes made him think of one too many zombie movies he had seen. In general, it meant that there was nothing about her that was even vaguely attractive to him.

"Your knee is bleeding," Sam said suddenly.

"Yeah, I know," Dean deflected and pulled his jeans on. His fingers were so numb from the cold and the effort he had used to try and get out of those damned shackles that he could hardly button his pants. He knew that once he began to warm up a little, the aches and pains he was feeling now would triple in strength and he hoped they were back at the car by then so he could dig out some painkillers for both of them. "So's your chest," he added and focused on Sam's t-shirt, which was now clinging to his chest while the blood soaked through it.

"It'll hurt like hell in the morning," Sam said and made a face. "Or whenever we get warm again."

"Yeah, I was just thinking that," Dean agreed and fumbled a little with his socks before managing to pull them on.

Sam pulled his shirt on, then glanced at the girl, who stood a few feet away and kept watching them with a slight frown furrowing her brow. "If she is who she claims to be ..." He stopped and shook his head lightly.

Dean eyed him for a moment. Something was going on here and he aimed at finding out what. But first and foremost they needed to get the hell off this island and preferably far away from the town as well. "The minute we hit the motel, we get our stuff and get the hell out of Dodge," he said, unable to keep the jitter out of his voice. He shoved his feet into his boots and then eyed the laces with nothing short of annoyance. "Screw it," he growled.

"Might be an idea," Sam agreed and glanced at him, again without looking him in the eye. "These guys are probably gonna be ticked off that we absconded with their goddess."

"Ab-what?" Dean gave him a dark look. "Why can't you talk like normal people?" he added sourly.

Sam refrained from replying to that and pulled his jacket on with a grimace. "I could sleep for a month," he muttered.

"Same here. But first we get the hell out of Dodge. Then we kick back and relax for a bit," Dean countered and pulled his own jacket on, then stooped over to grab the bag. And leaning over like that was what nearly did him in. He hadn't consider that a concussion might suffer under the added blood pressure.

"Dean!" Sam exclaimed and grabbed him before he landed face first on the floor.

Dean fought down the urge to throw up and drew in a lung full of air while shakily straightening up again. "Wow, that was fun," he rasped and clawed a hand into Sam's arm since his balance was completely shot right now. "Damn."

Despite his own aches, Sam seemed to be in better condition than Dean. He grabbed the bag while keeping a solid hold on Dean and they headed back the way they'd come with Frigg following them.

Although Dean really couldn't claim that he was feeling better, his equilibrium evened out after a bit and by the time they reached the stairs, he disengaged himself from Sam's hold and continued onward on his own. His vision was swimming a bit and his head was thudding painfully, but he needed to be in charge right now.

By the time they reached the top of the staircase, Dean had to stop to regain his breath. He leaned heavily against one of the trees and closed his eyes for a moment while the thudding of his heart, which was echoed inside his skull ten fold, slowed down to a more normal pace again, taking the rolling nausea with it for the time being.

Sam waited patiently with Frigg hovering around behind him. "Movement is getting more difficult," she suddenly said.

Sam glanced back at her. "That's because you're cold," he said, then shrugged out of his jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders. "That dress isn't doing you any favors," he added.

Dean pushed away from the tree and turned slowly to face his brother, who was watching Frigg in turn. Sam sounded odd and something suddenly snapped into place. He shifted his attention to Frigg, then back to Sam. Sam's behavior right now was consistent with embarrassment and something else Dean couldn't put a finger on right now. Something had happened between Sam and this girl.

He briefly closed his eyes and figured he would have to dig out the truth when he had the fortitude for it. Right now, what he most wanted to do was throw up, which wasn't going to happen. It would increase his headache and he really didn't need that. "Let's go," he said and started toward the boat on unsteady feet.

They made it into the boat and Sam used one of the ores to push the boat off the shore and turn it around before Dean started the outboard engine. Frigg sat in the middle, her eyes roaming over the water, and Dean had the impression that this ... entity inside her had never possessed anyone before. Maybe it hadn't even been among humans before, he mussed and steered the boat back toward the mainland and the river that would lead them back to the place where the Impala was parked.

By the time they reached the pier Dean was struggling to keep it together. He had to fight the urge to close his eyes and just go to sleep, and the growing light of the new day was hurting his eyes at this point. He managed to bump the boat into the pier once before Sam managed to grab a hold of the edge and push the boat into position that way. He glanced briefly at Dean, obviously noting how close to the edge he was right now, but he said nothing.

Sam helped Frigg out of the boat first after securing it to the pier and she trailed a few steps away before coming to a stop. Then Sam turned back to Dean. He grabbed the bag and threw it up on the pier, grimacing lightly at the obvious discomfort he was in, then he reached a hand out to Dean.

For a second Dean considered slapping it away, but he knew he was in over his head right now and as long as Sam didn't say anything, he could accept the helping hand he was offered. Without a word, he grabbed Sam's hand and let his brother haul him to his feet.

They got up on the pier without Dean falling on his face, which he was grateful for, and they made their way over to where the Impala was parked. When they reached the car, Dean braced himself against her hood and dropped his head for a moment. He felt sick to his stomach and so unsteady he feared he wasn't far from passing out.

"Key," Sam said.

Dean dug it out of his pocket and handed it to Sam, then waited for Sam to get their odd passenger settled before Sam returned to his side. He said nothing, waited patiently for Dean to make the first move, and Dean had to admit to himself that it would be suicide if he got behind the wheel. "You drive," he said, pushed off the hood and made his shaky way around to the passenger side.

***

Sam got behind the wheel after Dean had settled himself and he knew he would have to keep an eye on his brother right now. Dean quite obviously had a concussion and judging by the way he kept losing his balance and seemed unable to focus, it was a bad one.

During the ride back to the motel, Sam had to wake Dean up three times and his brother looked more and more sick for every time. "Are you sure we shouldn't just stay here for a day or two?" he asked, not sure that moving on right away was the way to go.

"No, we're not staying here. This place is nuts," Dean growled and rubbed his brow pensively before pushing the door open to get out.

Sam followed suit after telling Frigg to stay put. "Dean, you stubborn ass. You can barely stand on your feet," he said, so worried about Dean that he almost managed to forget his own aches and pains.

Dean glanced at him and flinched. "We're leaving," he countered, pushed away from the car and walked over to the cabin.

Sam drew in a deep breath, held it for a moment and then exhaled slowly. He was tired enough to get whiny, but Dean had passed that mark a while back. Not that he whined. Dean didn't whine. But his stubbornness increased by leaps and bounds when he was close to the breaking point.

He followed Dean into the cabin where they got their stuff together and Sam took it back to the Impala, then dropped by the office to hand in the keys after changing his t-shirt to not scare the guy behind the counter with his bloodied appearance. By the time he got back to the car, Dean had fallen asleep again.

"Shit," Sam muttered.

"What is wrong with him?" Frigg asked.

"He has a concussion," Sam countered. "Your followers nearly beat his brains in," he added, unable to keep the annoyance at the whole deal out of his voice.

Frigg eyed him for a second, then leaned forward and touched the back of Dean's head. He didn't even stir. Sam watched this for a second, then grabbed a hold of Dean's shoulder and shook him. "Dean, wake up," he pressed.

Frigg withdrew her hand when Dean jerked upright and blinked unsteadily for a moment, then focused on Sam. "What?" he asked, then frowned and pensively rubbed his fingers over his brow. "How long was I out?" he asked and glanced out at the parking lot.

"A few minutes," Sam said.

"A few minutes?" Dean shifted around and eyed Sam. "What do you mean, a few minutes? My headache's gone. A concussion doesn't just resolve itself in a few minutes."

It took Sam a second to put two and two together. Then he glanced back at Frigg, who was looking out the window. "You did this?" he asked.

She looked at him for a second, then glanced at Dean. "Yes," she agreed and returned her attention to the outdoors.

"Did what?" Dean asked and looked back at her with a worried look in his eyes. "What did she do?"

"She healed you," Sam said and made a face at how that sounded. "Sounds weird, doesn't it?" he asked.

Dean stared at her for a moment, then turned back to face the windshield, his expression unreadable. "Let's get the hell out of here," he said after a moment.

His reaction was a little weird in Sam's opinion, but he figured Dean was just rattled by this. Not that he blamed him. But what other explanation was there for Dean's sudden recovery? "Where to?" he asked.

"Out of this State. Head toward Houston," Dean said without missing a beat.

Sam put the car in gear and got them back on the road. If Dean was feeling better, it was a bit of a surprise that he allowed Sam to drive. But he was not about to bring that up right now. Despite the obvious lack of a concussion, Dean still looked like death warmed over and Sam really didn't want him behind the wheel while looking like that. Sam of course didn't look much better himself and he figured that he could probably ask Frigg to rid him of the unwilling carving on his chest. If she could heal a concussion with just a touch, it was obvious that marred skin wouldn't be a big deal to her.

***