Really? A meat locker? It was like something out of a twisted Brady Bunch episode; Sam might have even run with that except that Dean kept pointing out to him that he'd be Bobby in the scenario and not "Sam-the-butcher" (Dean even said it like that – using the air quotes – like Sam couldn't tell he was talking about a fictional character) because it was Bobby who got them locked in, in the first place. Sam tried to argue that it was Greg who caused the problem because he was being a big-brother-know-it-all, but then Dean was all over his ass for watching such a lame show in the first place.

In a huff Sam went to investigate the far corner of the room looking for a vent, a door, a tool of any kind. The freezer wasn't all that big, but when Sam turned to look back toward the door where he left Dean he realized that he lost sight of his brother. His heart gave an uncomfortable and unexpected lurch in his chest. Sam reached out a hand to steady himself, and immediately pulled back his fingers after they made blazing, frozen contact with the ice on the freezer wall.

"Dean?" What was supposed to come out as a steady inquiry came out more like a plea. Sam found himself abruptly shivering from more than the cold air. A tidal wave of memories surged up against the suddenly flimsy wall erected by Death in his mind. Sam tried to ward it off, beat it down; and although no one specific memory forced its way into his consciousness he couldn't evade the paralyzing, terrifying feeling of cold.

In an instant, all Sam could see was blue. Sam could feel the cords on his neck and the muscles in his limbs respond to the cold, inside and out. Uncontrolled tremors shook his frame no matter how hard he tried to convince himself that it was all in his mind. Sam was aware of his rapid breathing and how each breath seemed to draw tiny shards of ice into his tortured and shredded lungs. Sam could hear the pounding of his frantically beating heart as it struggled to push the blood that was solidifying in his veins through his body. Part of him knew (remembered) that this was how things started…and once it started, it wouldn't end.

From very far away Sam could hear Dean calling him. "Sam? Sammy? Jesus, Sam!" Vaguely Sam could feel Dean haul him to his feet, though he had no recollection of falling to his knees. Some part of Sam's mind was close enough to reality to understand that Dean was trying to warm him up, increase his circulation, but he wasn't in control enough to be able to help.

Dean was yelling, but not at Sam. Was he pleading? Was he begging? Didn't he know that didn't work? Not in the cold. Nothing stopped the cold once it started to encroach.


Sam's head whipped back on his neck. The slap from Dean was hard enough to bring tears to Sam's eyes. It shocked Sam to realize that the blow had helped to clear his vision. He was kneeling again and still trembling from the cold seeping out from the cracks inside his mind, but now he could see Dean. The hope that blossomed on Dean's face was painful to see.
Sam tried to take advantage of the moment of reprieve, he tried to explain, but all he managed to do was wave his right hand in Dean's direction in a feeble attempt to grab a hold of his jacket.

Dean held Sam upright with a death-grip on his shirt and jacket. Dean was giving directives like "stay with me" while yelling curses (or prayers. Were they prayers?) at the sky. Dean's right hand was drawn back and Sam tried to brace himself for a second blow, but the cold had claimed its place again in his muscles causing him to spasm and twitch. Dean did not smack Sam again; instead he determinedly ran his right hand up and down his thigh.

Then Dean unexpectedly pulled up Sam's shirt and Sam shivered genuinely from the temperature in the freezer. Dean laid his right hand, warmed against the heat of his leg, against the center of Sam's chest. Sam sagged in relief as the presence, the life, the heat from Dean bolstered his shaky, mental defenses.

Sam blinked, and once again his vision was clear. Dean was all he could see and hear, whispering assurances; his eyes blazing with determination that by sheer force of will he would keep Sam whole on this side of the Wall. Sam took back control of his sluggish hand and grasped Dean's jacket. He pulled himself closer to rest his head on Dean's shoulder. Here there was fire and warmth. He wasn't so cold anymore.