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22 September 2013 @ 09:22 pm
jai guru deva om: A Day in the Life (chapter 6)  

Dean soared high above the earth, Father's sunlit energy coiling deep within his core, umbilically tethering them together.

A/N: I would like to thank Emmessann, Tifaching, and NongPradu for waving their beta wands over the story. Thank you to Sue, Ginger, Penny, Deb, and Amanda for giving me their thoughts, their ideas, their concerns and their friendship along the way.

Jai Guru Deva Om

Chapter Six
A Day In The Life



**ॐ**


Dean soared high above the earth, Father's sunlit energy coiling deep within his core, umbilically tethering them together. The teacher's fire nourished him, broadened his perceptions and expanded his mind. Another helix of power pierced him, and then another and another, creating a web of communication-lines between Dean and all of the other Jedis. The fibers embedded themselves in his spirit, and their combined energies warmed and greeted him with a single-minded kinship and respect. Dean acknowledged the connections and spiraled into consciousness like an eagle riding a thermal. On a deep, cleansing intake of breath, he opened his eyes. The sudden contrast between dream and waking disoriented him, and he stared, perplexed by the dull light hitting the pine walls of the cottage.

It was early—too early after such a long night. He hadn't touched any of the ayahuasca, but he still felt hung-over and wrung out. Dean looked up and listened to the rain click against the window, watching the beads of water build and drip down into the pane. Poor construction and lack of insulation caused moisture to saturate the wood below the casement, leaving a small, blob-like watermark. The rain couldn't have started too long ago, he figured. He remembered a crystal sky when he and Brad had stumbled into the cottage not long before sunup. He blinked a few times and wiped his dry lips. Scratching his scalp with clumsy fingers, Dean took stock of his present situation.

He was still at the compound. Hell, he was still wearing his Jedi-jammies, he realized with a snort. Last night had been a trip and a half, something Dean had never experienced before and without question something he would never admit to anyone he knew. It had been a crazy night, but at least he had no more doubts about Father. As bewildering and hard to believe as it was, Dean had met a supernatural creature who not only posed no threat to humans, he'd charitably come to help and teach them. Bobby had been right, some things out there were good. It was a lot to process, and Dean needed time to think about what this meant for himself, for other hunters and for the world.

Father's benign nature was indisputable, and it was a stroke of good fortune that Dean hadn't gone in with guns blazing. He would never have forgiven himself if he'd harmed Father, and he felt great shame that he ever thought he could. He'd kill anyone who tried to hurt him. But there were other things out there that people needed protection from—people who needed saving—people he needed to save. He wanted to talk to Father and ask him if he knew about hunters and their struggles. Would he help them? He remembered that Father had called him an Initiate. He had no clue what that meant.

Dean thought back to the previous night with The Kindred. He had to roll his eyes, remembering the Jedis' enthusiasm for their leader. He'd half expected them to break out the black-lights, Nag Champa and massage oil at any moment, but they never strayed from their chanting and worship.

"Freaks," he whispered with a fond snort.

Oh, they were harmless, and he'd been entertained most of the evening with their crazy mantras. After his initiation, Father stayed and preached to them for about an hour before he left them to their fervent celebration. Every word he'd said had made perfect sense to Dean, and for the first time in a long time he had hope for the world. Sure, the Jedis were flaky, but he couldn't blame them for going a smidge overboard. Once Father had gone, they'd continued to chant and praise him for several more hours. Brad and Maureen had even taught him one of the mantras, and by the end of the night he'd joined in, his voice tentative and self-conscious—yes, but he'd given it his best shot. He'd been so inspired by Father's blessing that he couldn't seem to help himself. Dean groaned at that. Talk about getting carried away in the moment. When in Rome, indeed.

Dean yawned, exhausted. Judging from the gloamy light, he'd only slept a couple of hours. He peered at his watch but then remembered he'd taken it off when he showered. His things were still where he'd set them in the corner of the shower-room. He made a mental note to get everything later. Glancing at the window again, he guessed it to be around 7:00am and decided there was plenty of time for a nap. Right as he rolled over to go back to sleep, a jarring clang came over the loudspeakers. In the other cot, Brad twitched and opened his eyes with a sleepy smile.

"Morning," Brad said with a yawn, sitting up and peeling back his thin blanket.

"What's happening? Don't tell me you weirdoes get up this early after one of your hippy keggers," Dean woofed. "Don't they let you sleep in?"

Brad huffed as well, swung his feet off the bed and onto the floor. He cradled his head in his hands, rubbing it with a blustery moan.

"We did sleep in." Brad winced as he massaged his temples. "Normally we're up about the time we went to bed." He continued to rub his head. "Ugh, ayahuasca always gives me a headache. Tossed my cookies the first time I ever took it."

"You were pretty baked, dude," Dean laughed. "What a buncha damn hippies."

Brad nodded in agreement. "Yeah well, ayahuasca helps to open the mind and subdue the ego. You'll see what I mean at the next ceremony. To hear Father's message is one thing, but to feel it, to taste it—to experience it in IMAX—well, it's a spiritual Golden Ticket, a total mind-blow. I mean, before I came here, beer pong had been the worst of my sins. But if ayahuasca gets me closer to understanding Father's teachings, I won't quibble over a little headache." Brad paused and straightened up, startled by a new thought. He looked Dean up and down. "Holy shit, Dean. You became an Initiate."

Dean laughed. "I guess I did," he said. "Not sure what that means, though. I ain't dressing like a damn nerd forever. I'm telling you that right now."

Brad laughed. "But the colors suit you so!" he teased but then sobered. "No, seriously man. You received Father's blessing. His blessing. You took the first step. Did you feel it?"

Dean shifted, buying himself a minute to think. He remembered Father approaching and looking right into him. There'd been…something—some darkness that had lifted when Father touched him, but beyond that he couldn't remember anything specific other than a feeling of being…at home. Had there been a light, maybe? He couldn't recall. What he remembered most were Father's eyes. No one could fake that amount of compassion and love, and it had been almost too much to bear directed at him. He didn't feel worthy of it.

"I felt something." Dean swallowed and cleared his throat. "What is he?" he asked. Brad raised his eyebrows.

"What do you mean?"

"You know what I mean. He's not…he's not…"

"He's not of this world?" Brad prompted. "He is Father, Dean. He is what he is, and he's here for us. He's come to teach us." Another bell clanged over the loudspeaker. "Shit, let's go," he said.

"Where?" Dean asked.

"Shower, breakfast, meditation and then work. No field-work this morning since we were out so late last night. Hang with me for today. I don't know where Father will assign you. Everyone pitches in with work, so you'll be given a job." Brad began making his bed. "Come on, we don't want to be late."

Dean threw back his covers. So much for a day to rest and relax, he thought. Still, he wanted to learn more about this place and maybe find a way to talk to Father. That wouldn't happen by staying in bed. "Lead the way."

**ॐ**

After another quick, cold shower, Dean shivered into his Jedi getup and grabbed his street clothes from the corner where he'd set them last night. Brad stopped him when he went to put on his watch.

"You won't need that while you're here, Dean," he said.

"Huh? What do you mean?" Dean asked.

Brad nodded toward the watch. "The path to Enlightenment is not measured in seconds, hours, or days but in hard work, dedication, and surrendering one's ego," he recited what must have been a well-worn, oft-spoken phrase.

"Whatever, Buddha," Dean snorted through the side of his cheek and went to put on the watch.

"I'm serious, Dean." Brad reached out and pressed his own hand against Dean's, stilling it. "If you intend to follow Father and his teachings, you'll have to give up some of the crutches you're accustomed to leaning on."

"Telling time is a crutch? What's hot water, then—a mortal sin?" Dean scoffed.

Brad rolled his eyes. "Initiates," he said with a tired laugh but followed it up with a patient smile. "I promise whatever Father asks of you, he asks for a reason. This path will take you out of your comfort zone; I won't deny that, but if you trust him and follow his lead, Father will reveal himself to you. It'll be much easier if you don't fight every little thing right off the bat."

Dean looked at the watch. He didn't see what the fuss was about, but he'd committed himself to staying in order to find out more about Father, so he'd pick and choose his battles carefully. He set down the watch.

"Fine," he said.

"Good," Brad smiled. "Let's go put this stuff back in the cottage and get some breakfast."

Dean's stomach growled in response. Brad turned and headed out, leaving Dean to roll up his clothes. Stuffing the watch into the pocket of his jeans, he found his amulet that he'd taken off when he showered the previous night. Holding it up, he considered it, and without hesitation, he put on and tucked it under his tunic, making sure it was well hidden. He'd pick and choose his battles all right, but this was one he wasn't going to lose.

**ॐ**

The pavilion that served as a cafeteria had all but emptied by the time they arrived. Gypsy and Jason chanted together as they wiped down the vacated tables.

"Got enough for two more, Maureen?" Brad called out as they entered.

Maureen grabbed a couple of bowls. "Of course, hurry, hurry!" she chuckled at them. "Good morning you two." Before dishing him up, Maureen reached out and gave Dean a big hug.

"My turn!" Gypsy called out as she ran up, offering Dean one of her own.

"Morning," Dean said with a shy smile.

"Eat," Maureen ordered, handing off his bowl and grabbing Brad into a hug with the other.

Dean eyed the small serving of sticky oatmeal with raw apple slices in it. "No blueberry pancakes and bacon?" he asked, forlorn.

"Not today," she laughed. "We eat light the morning after a Sacred Haoma Ceremony. Ayahuasca has a tendency to upset the stomach."

"But I didn't have any of that," Dean pouted. Maureen laughed again.

She patted his back and guided him over to one of the tables, sitting down next to him. Brad took the opposite chair. "We'll gather for a more substantial meal this evening," she promised. "So," she gave him an enthusiastic nudge. "How do you feel?" Gypsy and Jason tossed down their rags and joined them.

"I feel great," Dean said. "Thought I'd stay for a little while longer." Maureen beamed and smoothed his hair with motherly affection.

"I didn't expect anything different. Father has great taste in souls." Her smile warmed him. "He knew you would return to us."

Dean put down his spoon. "So, what's his deal?" he asked. "Who is he, really? How does he do what he does?" Maureen and Gypsy looked at each other and laughed. Maureen pointed to the girl.

"Again…who does he remind you of?" she teased, poking Gypsy. Dean furrowed his brows.

"What? What do you mean?" he asked, watching the women.

Gypsy grinned. "Sorry Dean, we're not making fun of you. I used to be the exact same way. I think those very words came out of my mouth the morning after my initiation. You'll find the answers to all your questions on The Path, itself. Do the footwork to open yourself so that you can know who and what Father is. The big challenge in being an Initiate is in the doing, not in the asking. You have to travel that path in order to find the answers."

"Um, wouldn't it be just as easy to go talk to him?"

"It doesn't work like that, Dean. You could talk to him, but anything he said would only be words. You can't know the truth until you're ready to receive it. Father can't tell you what you are incapable of understanding."

"Huh. And how am I supposed to become capable? How do I start?" Dean asked, dubious.

"You've already started," Brad interjected. "You opened yourself last night. You let Father in. That was your choice. Ultimately, Father can't go where he's not invited. Now you have to learn to open yourself a little more every day. Think of Father's wisdom and power as a tap to draw from. Last night you turned the tap enough to get a trickle. Today you'll begin to practice turning the faucet until that trickle, that exchange of understanding between you and Father, becomes a steady flow. You cannot imagine what is in store for you if you let go of your ego and let Father in."

Dean nodded. He wanted that. He didn't even know why he wanted it, he just did. "He's not going to turn me into a pod-person is he?"

"No," she assured him with a chuckle. "It's nothing like that. But he's won't to go easy on you either. It's true that the ego is very, very strong, and it doesn't like giving up control without a fight. This path is not without pain." Jason shifted in his seat, drawing Dean's eye. Maureen reached out and drew the man into a one armed hug. She looked back at Dean. "You have to learn to trust Father even when you think you know better. Those who fight against him, those who seek to control their journey, have the toughest time."

Dean sighed and smiled ruefully. He thought about Sam's inability to take orders, his constant nitpicking, his incessant second-guessing and how hard it had been on the family. If Sam and his dad had not been so hardheaded, had they been willing to see the other's perspective, the family might have held together despite Sam going off to Stanford. John always said the difference between a good leader and a great leader was one who knew when to lead and when to follow. Great leaders could do both. Sam always struggled with obedience—more to the point, he always struggled with obedience to John. For Dean, it was second nature. He figured he could ease up and give Father a chance.

Maureen reached a hand out to him and stroked his shoulder. "Rather than try to control how the information is imparted…trust that the information will be imparted as long as you follow instructions. It takes discipline and willingness; but I don't figure you for someone who's afraid of hard work, Dean."

"I'm not," he said. "I'm not afraid of hard work. This is kind of new to me, is all," he admitted. "I—I want to try. One more question, though." All four of them burst into laughter at that. "No, seriously," Dean said and laughed along with them. "How did you heal me?" he asked. "Are you the only one that can do that or can anyone?"

Maureen thought a moment. "I didn't heal you, Father did. But," she ventured, "I guess you're asking how that worked." Dean nodded. "I've been on The Path long enough that the channel between Father and me has become a fluid exchange in a way. I'm not special, though. All adepts can act as a conduit for Father's power. But I can't explain the process any more than I can explain quantum physics. In other words, I can't tell you how to do it, but you will be able to do it if you stay on The Path."

Dean watched her. "Do we ever get to ask Father questions directly?"

"Initiates don't have access to Father," Jason spoke for the first time. He'd been sitting there quiet and listless the entire time, Dean noted. "I wish they did, actually. Father doesn't offer one-on-one teaching until you've reached the level of Adept. Once you are an Adept, you meet with him at least once a week. I'm trying to work my way through being a Disciple so that I can become and Adept and talk to him. I have so many questions."

Gypsy took his hand. "It's not easy," she soothed. "But you've come so far, my friend. Everything will be fine."

"I know," he sighed. "It's worth it, Dean," he said, resolute. "It's not easy, but it is worth it. You'll see."

When the bell rang three times, all four of the Jedis rose. Brad grabbed his and Dean's empty bowls and put them in the bin for washing.

"What's that?" Dean asked, rising as well.

"Meditation," Maureen said with a hungry glow in her eyes.

"Come on, Dean," Brad said. "Father has assigned us to help you on your journey. We're going to show you everything you need to know…kind of be your immediate family within the larger family of The Kindred. We're here for you, so let's get you started properly."

**ॐ**

They'd just passed the odd hatch that lead to The Kiln, that underground meditation room that Brad had pointed out the day before, when Father's voice came over the loudspeaker, calling on his children to quiet their minds and be still. Dean glanced up at the speaker on the pole and listened.

Father's voice had the same effect on Dean as he'd had on him in person. The sound was both a comfort and a stimulant—much like Led Zeppelin or AC/DC—and he felt that coiled energy within him kindle to life. Every syllable resonated, every word made complete sense. The message was profound for its sheer simplicity. Quiet the mind, let go, calm your fear, tame your desires, subdue your ego, and all things would be possible. Yes. Of course. Dean closed his eyes and zeroed in on the instructions that spilled from the speaker; he took a deep breath and held it, releasing only when compelled to do so by Father. He repeated this until the ground started to tilt and pitch beneath his feet.

"Dean!" he heard someone say. "Dean, not here. You'll fall. Come on, sweetie. Let's go inside and sit down." Dean opened his eyes and saw Maureen's joyful face as she pulled on his arm. He wobbled along beside her.

"Let's go inside," she said again.

Brad put his arm around Dean's shoulder and guided him into the largest of the outbuildings. "This is the best part of my day," he said.

Dean found himself in a small gymnasium. The Jedis were perched like stiff yoga students upon soft cushions on the floor. Maureen grabbed several mats and pointed to a corner of the room where they could sit together.

"We call this room The Heart. It's where we do most of our spiritual work. Just relax and let go," she whispered to him. "Close your eyes and follow Father's instructions."

Dean tried to settle down and quiet his mind—whatever that meant. He'd never tried anything like it. Wasn't sure it was even possible for him. The only time he'd ever sat still for more than a few minutes was when John or Sam had been sick or hurt. He never figured himself for a patient guy. Normally, it took everything he had not to fidget, and he felt twitchy and restless as soon as he sat. He scratched and ticked and cracked his knuckles, trying to find a comfortable position. At last, he decided not to try and clear his mind, because the more he tried, the more cluttered and intrusive his thoughts became. Instead, he concentrated on Father's recorded voice as it led the meditation over the loud speaker, and soon he found himself hooked. The sound was like rain on parched skin, and the same pleasant vibration that had rippled through him last night began to thrill through him now. The guru's slow, sonorous voice repetitively urged them to open themselves to him, and Dean imagined the little trickle of energy turning into a steady stream.

Dean had no clue how long the meditation lasted. Throughout the session, though, he began to feel good—calm and complacent—in that quiet place; and as Father's voice penetrated his mind, Dean's need and dependency on that source energy grew. He threw himself into every exercise, his attention rapt, breathing so deeply when instructed that he began to feel light-headed even sitting down. Breath control did not come easy for him and he struggled with it. At one point, he felt a warm hand on his arm and knew that Maureen was with him, her strength and encouragement grounding him. Overall, by the time meditation was over, he felt awake and alive—sharper in every way. When Father blessed them and instructed them to begin their day, everyone rose and filed out of the room, off to do their assigned tasks.

Once outside, Dean found that the clouds had broken up and the sun was high overhead. He checked his watch out of habit before realizing that it wasn't there. It had to be past noon, now, and he guessed they'd meditated for close to five hours. Had it not been for the pain of his empty stomach, he would have thought they'd been in there no more than an hour.

"All right you guys, we'll see you later, Gypsy and I are on Outreach duty today," Maureen told them.

"Outreach duty? What's that?" Dean asked.

"We're going to go into town and meet with members of the community," she said. "Part of our work for Father includes community outreach. He forces no one to follow his teachings, but those who would make good Initiates must hear about us and know they are welcome to come here. So, several days each week a few of us go out and pass out flyers to those who might be interested."

"Dean can come with me and Jason," Brad said. "We're on gate duty. Tim and Kimo need to be relieved so that they can have time with Father." He gave the girls a wave. "You two be careful out among them English," he said with a wink. "We'll see you when you head out." Brad turned to Dean and Jason. "Let's go. Kimo and Tim both have private lessons with Father today," he said and trotted away.

Dean ran to catch up and as they jogged along, he questioned Brad further. "Do you often have people bothering you?"

"What's that?" Brad asked.

"The gate," Dean said. "Is it that bad?"

"We've had a few intrusions," he said. "It's usually people who don't understand what we're about and just want to gawk or make fun of us. But we've also had some sinister disturbances from time to time, so we have to stay vigilant."

"Sinister?" Dean's eyebrows lifted. "Sinister how?"

"We had one kidnapping attempt, one of the Enlightened Ones, Angel, who now resides with Father. When she was still an Adept, her uncle broke in with a few men and tried to take her, grabbed her right out of the fields. It was by Father's grace alone that we were able to get to them and get her back without violence. We had to call the local authorities to remove her family from the property. That's when we built the fence and installed the gate. We've been much more protective of our property and lifestyle since then. I won't lie, Dean; we were concerned with your intent when we first saw you. You'd been sitting in your car for so long, we wondered if you were staking the place out or something."

A rush of guilt shot through Dean as Brad spoke. He wanted to come clean, but he held back and gave Brad a small dismissive laugh instead. Averting his eyes, he turned toward the gate as they continued onward. His view of the road was unobstructed, and he realized with a sickening thump of his heart that he'd left the Impala unattended.

He gasped, the previous conversation forgotten in his blind panic. "My car!" He broke away from the others and craned his neck, trying to get a better view of the road. "Where the hell is my car?"

"Easy, Dean!" Tim said as he poked his head out of the guard shack. "Father told me where your keys were and had me take the car to the garage after the ceremony last night. He didn't want anything to happen to it."

Blood rushed to Dean's face and his ears began to burn. "You drove my car?" The veins in his forehead pulsed as he reeled on Tim.

"Uh…" Tim backed up, the glint in Dean's eye full of dark intent. "Well, y—yeah. Father told me to," he explained. "I locked it up. The keys are in the garage. Everything is safe and sound. I didn't touch anything, honest."

Dean took several breaths. "Okay, Tim," he said as he panted through the words. "Just…you know…come get me if you ever need to do something like that again. I'm kind of protective of her."

"It's cool, Dean," Tim laughed nervously. "Jeez, guess Father didn't call you the Warrior for nothing, huh?"

Dean stood down. "Yeah, well, it's just that she's the only thing in the world I have left."

"Not true," Brad affirmed. Dean turned to him. "It's the only thing you had left. You've got a whole lot more now." He gestured to those around him. "Just the same," he added with a grin. "We'll check on her as soon as we get back to the compound and make sure both you and your car are comfortable, Okay?"

**ॐ**

The first few hours of guard duty were uneventful. Their sole job had been to open the gate when Maureen, Gypsy and about five other Jedis left in a van to distribute flyers. The rest of the time Brad and Jason tried to teach Dean the mantras that he would need to know for that evening's devotional service.

Dean hesitated. He would give things a try up to a point in order to get to the truth about Father, who and what he was. Other hunters would need this intel. If he could get close enough to Father to speak to him about everything, he might have a lot to offer. Hell, he might know what had killed his mom. He might even agree to help find the damn thing. Dean could make an exception this once and work outside his comfort zone, but he still found the worship-side of this group more than a bit off-putting. When he said as much, both Brad and Jason chuckled.

"Initiates," Brad said, looking from Jason to Dean with fondness in his eye. "It's okay, Dean. Nobody is going to force you to do anything you don't want to do. But we don't think of it as worship, we think of it as respect. Father has dedicated his existence to helping us better ourselves spiritually. Chanting is our way of not only acknowledging that pledge but also our way of making one of our own in return. The bond is reciprocal. He gives to us; we give to him." Dean still wasn't convinced. Brad continued. "Think of it this way, when Father blessed you—when you meditated this morning—didn't you feel his power flow through you?"

"Well, yeah," Dean admitted.

"And how did that make you feel?" Brad asked.

"It made me feel…alive. It made me feel…" Dean was quiet a moment. "It made me feel like, you know—like I was needed and wanted or something."

"It made you feel loved," Jason cut in as though speaking to himself. Dean swallowed and looked away.

"Right," Brad agreed. "So, when we meditate, Father fills us. And when we worship, we fill Father. See? The exchange complements both parties, each strengthening the other. This isn't subjugation, Dean. It's symbiosis. Our worship is a celebration of that bond, that kinship."

Dean felt shame burn his cheeks. "I'm sorry," he said.

Jason moved in, nodding to Brad and then turning to Dean. "No need to be sorry, Dean. We all have to learn this. I was an atheist before I came here. I was the last person on the planet who would have bowed knee to anyone or anything. So, trust me when I tell you this, I was much more stubborn than you are. I fought it much harder. My own father was an abusive sonofabitch; it got so bad that I left home when I was sixteen. I've always fought authority, and I would never have dreamed of holding anything or anyone higher than I held myself. Here," he said, motioning to the floor of the shack. "Just sit down and close your eyes for a moment."

"Uh…" Dean dusted off a place in the corner and sat. "Okay, now what?"

"Close your eyes," Jason prompted. "Relax and clear your mind. Deep breaths." Dean stilled. "Good. Now, don't think about anything. Don't fight it. You can fight all you want after we're done, but for right now, if only for this one moment…let yourself go. Can you do that? For one minute?"

"I'll try," Dean said.

"All right, open yourself, Dean," he droned. "Open yourself and let Father in, just like you did this morning. Don't think. Just do. Do you feel it?"

Dean took several deep breaths, pictured that tap and allowed Father's essence to flow into him. He could feel the warmth deep in his spine, a pleasant vibration calming him, pulling him in. All sounds except Jason's voice faded away.

"Do you feel it?" he asked again.

Dean nodded. "Yes," he whispered.

"Good. Now, I want you to twist the other tap, the one that flows from you to Father. Open it up. Again, don't think, Dean. Just do it."

Dean reached out in his mind's eye, twisted his faucet and allowed a tiny trickle to run. It terrified him and his breaths became desperate and erratic.

"Calm down, Dean. Don't fight it. You're merely giving a few drips…that's all."

Dean pictured a tiny rivulet of his energy flowing in a direct line to Father, the fantasy was so vivid and real that he could sense his energy surge out of him.

"That's it. You've got it. Do you feel it?" Jason said.

"Yes," Dean said.

"You're doing amazing, Dean. You pick this up faster than I ever did. Now, with each drop you give, repeat after me. Father is life."

"Father is life."

"That's it, Dean. Father is love."

"Father is love."

"You're a great student. Father is the Keeper."

"Father is the Keeper."

"Don't think. Just do. Thank you, Father."

"Thank you, Father."

"Let yourself go, Dean. I trust Father with my life."

"I trust Father with my life."

"Open your tap a little wider. I trust Father with my heart."

"I trust Father with my heart."

"Ignore your ego. Don't think. I trust Father with my soul."

"I trust Father with my soul."

Dean felt a sudden inrush of energy from Father that stole his breath away. It was so beautiful and so right that he opened himself further.

"Yes. Yes, Dean. My life is Father's to mold."

"My life is Father's to mold."

"You are so good at this. My heart is Father's to fill."

"My heart is Father's to fill."

"Don't think. My soul is Father's to keep."

"My soul is Father's to keep."

"Slow down your breathing, Dean. Deep, slow breaths. I know it's overwhelming at first, but keep your mind still and calm."

Dean could feel his cheeks and scalp flame, tingling with emotion and awe. The exchange was exquisite. He sensed Father's warmth, encouragement, appreciation and gratitude returned to him even as he gave it. Father cherished Dean's praise, acknowledged his offering as significant and worthwhile. In his whole life, Dean had never felt anything like it. He hadn't even given Father that much of himself, nothing close to what he'd given his own father and brother throughout the years. Instead of rejecting him, though, Father drew him in, acknowledged his small offering, and gave of himself in return. It was so tempting to turn that tap more. Dean reached for it with his mind's eye, giving it a slight twist.

"Open yourself, Dean. Mold me, Father."

"Mold me, Father."

"Let go. Fill me, Father."

"Fill me, Father."

"Give yourself to him. Keep me, Father."

"Keep me, Father."

Jason and Brad began to chant with him, and the words took on tangible form to Dean. The mantra not only created a bond between Father and himself, it manifested a bond between the three men as well. Dean felt the same connection to them as he experienced with Father, and the energy exchange wove an intricate network between him and his new brothers. Eyes still closed, he perceived when the other two started to sway in time to the chant, and with no sight or sound cues, he moved when they did, a natural offshoot of the powerful synchronicity between them. As the pace of their chant quickened, Dean was aware of shifting patterns before they hit, and his own voice began to rise and fall at the exact moment that his brothers' did. It wasn't only the sound or the motion that intrigued and aroused his senses; it was the profound connection shared between the three of them in the guard-shack. He hadn't been so in tune with anyone since Sam left for Stanford. He'd almost forgotten what it felt like. Through it all, he could feel Father's delight in their worship, encouraging them to give all they had.

Dean would have remained under this meditative yoke for hours had Jason and Brad not pulled him out without warning. He jumped when Brad shook his arm.

Jason swore. "Shit, Brad. Shit, shit, shit!"

Dean's eyes sprang open, looking around, dazed. "What's…" he started to say and then stopped, the growl of a heavy vehicle as it drove over the gravel path leading to the gate drawing his attention. He popped his head up and peered past Jason's haunted, pale face toward the van as it approached. Neither the satellite dish affixed to the top nor the Seattle TV news station's logo on the side of the van was as intimidating as the woman in the passenger seat.

It was Mei.

Dean ducked. Safe behind the tinted windows or not, he didn't want to take any chances.

"Damn. I don't know what to say to her," Jason said, distressed and tense. He threaded his hands through his hair, and Dean could see tears glistening in his eyes. Dean watched Mei get out, followed by a reporter and a cameraman. The trio approached the shack.

"Stay here," Brad said to Jason. "Maybe I can get her to leave." He opened the door and raised his hand, halting the newcomers.

"What can I help you folks with," Brad said without warmth. Dean took another peek through the window. Mei wasn't looking in his direction, she pointed to the gate and urged the cameraman to film.

The reporter stepped forward. "I'm Aaron Anderson with KIRO News. We're doing a story on The Dynamic Synthesis Co-op. Who's in charge here?"

"You'll have to call our business office. The number is on our website," came Brad's crisp reply.

"He's the one, Aaron," Mei said. "He's the one who came to the house with Jason." She turned to Brad, her eyes icy with anger. "Where's my husband? What have you done with him?" Dean's heart sank. Mei's pain and desperation was palpable. Jason must have noticed it, too, because he began to pace around the small room.

"I haven't done anything to him," Brad said, his tolerance forced and strained. "Jason's safe and well, Mrs. Hickey. You have nothing to—"

The reporter interrupted. "Can we come in and talk to him?" Aaron asked.

Brad shook his head. "I'm afraid I can't allow that. I'll tell Jason you were here, Mrs. Hickey. If he wants to talk to you he'll give you a call."

Jason twitched and hissed as he paced. With a final, muttered Shit! he threw open the door and stepped out of the shack.

"Mei," he said, wounded and torn. The reporter motioned to his partner to make sure the camera was rolling.

Mei marched up to the gate. "Jason," she said. Jason shook his head at the reporter.

"Aaron, stop the cameras," he demanded. "I'm not one of your damn stories."

Aaron didn't move. "Then prove it, Jason. Come on out and talk to us. Everyone at work is worried about you." Jason shook his head.

"There's nothing to worry about. I'm fine. This is very intrusive, and I don't appreciate it, Aaron."

"Jason," Mei pled. "I'm begging you to come with me. Come with me for just one night, you and me…no reporters, no cult members. Come with me and we can talk." The words cult member set Jason on the defensive.

"It's not a cult, and I don't want to leave. I'm happy here. But I'd be so much happier if you would come for a visit. Come back without the media circus and we can talk. I'm not discussing this out here and certainly not on camera."

"Jason," she said, her eyes brimming with tears. "You don't get it. They've done something to you. They've brainwashed you or something. This is not you. Jason, please."

"But they haven't, Mei. This is a great place, and I want to be here."

"No you don't. Not really. You don't, Jason, and I'm not giving up on you. Just know that, okay? Please know that I'm not giving up on you. You're not a mindless fanatic, and I won't stop until you're free of this place."

Dean ran his hands through his own hair. This was difficult to witness. He could see how broken the doctor was, how sincere. It made knowing how wrong she was all the more tragic. He wondered if he should go out and try and talk her into coming in for a visit. Maybe Father could set her fears to rest. If the situation had not been so volatile, had the news crew not been there, he would have tried.

Brad put up his hand again. "Jason, go back to the shack," he commanded, and even Dean could feel the order resonate within him. He knew Jason had to have felt it, too. There was Father's power in that order. Jason looked at Brad and slumped in defeat. Jason turned to Mei.

"Set up an appointment through our office to come for a visit, Mei. Just you. Come for a visit and I'll be there. I'm not giving up on you, either. And you have this all wrong." Without another word, Jason returned to the shack and closed the door. He panted and collapsed to his knees in anguish, praying for Father to help him, chanting his love for his teacher with feverish desperation. Dean vacillated between the urge to comfort him and the desire to see the action playing itself out by the gate. Brad was still talking to Mei when the reporter put a hand on her shoulder and tried to coax her to go back to the van.

"You folks need to leave," Brad said. "If you want to schedule an interview or a visit, you'll have to make arrangements through our business office." Mei wasn't paying attention and spoke right over him.

"What did you do to him?" she demanded. "I saw your eyes when we met. I'm not stupid, and I'm not blind. I'm going to get my husband out of here," she promised. "I am. I'm going to get him out of here, and I'm going to stop whatever you're doing. Count on it." Aaron and Ned moved back, pulling Mei with them.

By the time they left Dean felt as though he'd run a marathon. When Brad came into the shack the three of them stood in silence, looking at each other in shock.

**ॐ**

It was late afternoon when Dante and Luna relieved them. They appeared to know what had happened, and they gave Jason a hug, telling him not to worry—that Father would take care of everything. Brad, Jason and Dean made their way back to the compound in silence and stopped at one of the outbuildings to check on the Impala. Dean wasn't happy that someone else had touched her, but she seemed to have weathered the manhandling. He gave her a loving pat and promised he'd be back to check on her often. As they were preparing to leave, the van pulled into the garage, Maureen and Gypsy returning with the others from town. Maureen wordlessly approached Jason and gave him a hug as though she already knew what had transpired.

"Shhh," she said. "You're going to be all right, Jason," she said as he fell into her embrace. Gypsy and Brad also huddled close, offering soft words. Dean stood back, not knowing what to do or quite how to react. He bit his lip and wondered what, if anything, he could do to help.

"I just miss her," Jason murmured.

"Of course you do," Maureen soothed. "And she clearly misses you, too. Maybe in a few days you can reach out again and see if she won't come visit us for a couple of days. Father would be able to make her understand. Don't give up hope." Jason gave her a stoic nod and wiped his eyes.

"I need to go meditate," he said. "I'll be in The Heart."

"Don't you want some supper?" Gyspy asked.

"I think I'll fast tonight to try and gain some balance," Jason said as he strode out of the room.

The four that remained grew quiet after he left. Maureen beckoned Dean over to her, drawing him into the group.

Brad nodded to Maureen. "Jason's Ordeal will be starting soon, don't you think?" he asked the older woman.

Maureen smiled. "Oh yes, he's almost there," she agreed. "Straight through the fire and into the light. He'll be fine."

"Wait, what?" Dean asked, perplexed. "What Ordeal? What are you talking about?"

"It's part of The Path," Brad said. "Jason will soon be starting his quest to become an Adept."

"And what does that mean?" Dean wanted to know.

"You'll find out when your own time comes, Initiate," Gyspy said with a teasing grin. "Some things are meant to be experienced rather than discussed. You'll have your moment. Be patient."

Dean looked hard at the others. He didn't like being at such a disadvantage or being kept in the dark, but he said nothing.

"The only way to know, Dean, is to do," Maureen reminded him. "There are things we can't tell you because they can't be translated into words. Seek out Father's blessings and the answers will come."

"Yeah, I guess," he said, somewhat sullen.

"Do you trust Father, Dean?" Maureen asked.

"I'm working on it," he said.

"Don't think about it, sweetie. Just keep doing what you're doing and the rest will come. Now…" Maureen said, giving Dean a pat. "Let's go get some supper and then we'll spend the rest of the night in celebration."

Brad nodded. "This is my second favorite part of the day. You'll love it, Dean. Come on."

**ॐ**

Dean was still hungry when they entered The Heart, even though he'd eaten. Despite the promise Maureen had made earlier that supper would be more substantial, it wound up consisting of nothing beyond some fruits and vegetables with about a half-cup serving of brown rice. It was tasteless and did little to appease his hunger. He'd eaten so little in the past week that he felt light-headed. There didn't seem to be much use in arguing, though. It was odd. This was a working farm; yet, no one seemed to eat any of the foods they grew. When in Rome, he reminded himself. He also reminded himself that the Deming Tavern was all of a 10-minute drive away if he became desperate. Father might live on sunlight alone or some shit, but as willing as Dean was to learn what the sage had to teach, he didn't feel that he needed to starve in order to prove his dedication.

Dean spied Jason sitting on a mat in the corner, a troubled expression on his face despite his delirious chanting. He couldn't help but wonder what kind of Ordeal Jason had to undertake and what that meant for his own future. He wasn't that far behind Jason. The journalist had only been with The Kindred for a couple of weeks. Brad interrupted his thoughts.

"This is going to be exactly like we practiced back in the guard-shack, Dean. Just let go and enjoy the night."

The foursome pulled their mats over to Jason and sat with him. Dean tried to concentrate on the chanting, but his thoughts kept returning to Mei and Jason and their pain. His thoughts wandered even more far afield, and he began to think about Sam and his dad. He wondered where his dad was, wondered what Sam was doing and wondered what they would say if they knew where he was. Would they be like Mei and try to persuade him to leave or would they not care at all? It hit him hard that he would never know the answer to those questions, because the fact of the matter was that they had let him go long ago. They didn't know where he was because they didn't care to know. There was no exchange; the attachment was Dean's alone, a one-way street. Did they ever feel it? Did it mean so little to them that they never even noticed? Dean reached up and felt the amulet under his tunic.

"Dean," Brad whispered and nudged the Initiate—well aware that Dean was lost in his own world. Dean opened his eyes for a guilty second, long enough to see Brad motion for him to focus. "Stop thinking so much. Let go."

Dean cleared his throat and closed his eyes, trying to empty his head enough to join in the chant. He gave it a half-hearted attempt at first, going through the motions only; but he soon felt that familiar surge of Father's spirit flowing through him again. Dean homed in on that delicious exchange, and his physical hunger faded away, replaced by a voracious spiritual need. He missed Sam and John, and he knew that nothing would ever replace them, but it felt damn good sitting amongst these people, knowing with absolute certainty that love and loyalty—if given freely—would be returned to him ten-fold.

Dean opened the tap wider, letting himself go further. His worry over Mei and Jason, his anguish over Sam and John evaporated until he focused his all of his thoughts on giving Father his thanks.

To whom do you belong, my children? Father's voice was strong and true within his head, and The Kindred responded as one.

"To you Father," Dean joined in with the others. "My body is your body. My will is your will. My soul is your soul."

The chanting voices began to swell, causing the entire room around him to vibrate and the air to quiver. And just as he had experienced before in the guard shack, he felt an overwhelming connection to the others and intuitively knew exactly when the cadence of the chant would fluctuate, knew the precise moment when the rhythm would shift. Dean didn't analyze why he knew; he just knew. He was able to perceive when his brothers and sisters were going to stand, and he rose with them. He didn't think. He let go. When they began to jump, he jumped, too, without the slightest prompting. The Kindred jumped in unison, over and over again, creating a perfect harmony between sound and motion, operating as a single, synergistic mind. It was beautiful, and in that moment Dean gave himself over to the ecstasy of that union. Waves of joy swept over him, surrounded by his new family, enveloped in their love.

He felt no trepidation, no worry, no fear, no time, no end. Sound and motion fused, connecting him to everyone, so much so that he didn't even realize he'd passed out until Brad and Maureen were hovering over him, trying to get him back on his feet. He'd simply moved from one euphoric state into another, and in his mind he was still chanting and jumping.

Maureen ran and got him some water and made him drink as she passed a loving hand through his damp hair and chanted to him. When he was lucid enough to get to his feet, Brad reached down and helped him up, holding him with firm hands until Dean was steady. The trio shut their eyes at the same moment and returned to their devotion without ever having said a word to one another.

The chanting went on, Dean and his family singing praise to Father until a few hours before dawn. Finally, they ceased their mantra at the same moment and filed out of the building in silence, making their way to the cottages on shaky legs.

By the time Dean threw himself down on his cot, he was exhausted, sweaty, hungry and dizzy. But he was happy.

It had been one of the best days Dean could ever remember.

Continue to Chapter 7

 
 
 
deangirl1deangirl1 on September 23rd, 2013 07:20 am (UTC)
That is just all kinds of creepy....
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 23rd, 2013 06:45 pm (UTC)
True. It is creepy. But I never keep Dean down for TOO long.
Smitty 'Jaws' McPatchington, Esq.alec_towser on September 23rd, 2013 07:46 am (UTC)
Man. This is intense. I'm really enjoying this story; keep up the good work! :)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 23rd, 2013 06:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, alec!
inanna_maat: Jen dragoninanna_maat on September 23rd, 2013 10:32 pm (UTC)
LOL... I don´t know what to think... this is strange...
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 23rd, 2013 11:12 pm (UTC)
It really is unsettling. Cults are extremely strange, and for those who are safely outside them it seems so unreasonable that anyone could be hoodwinked by them. Of course, here, there is some supernatural element at play, but yes...it is strange and unsettling just the same.

Thank you for your comment.
maguiemaguie on October 9th, 2013 08:28 am (UTC)
It's not a cult!!!

Didn't you read the chapter? ;P
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 9th, 2013 01:07 pm (UTC)
Hah! Interestingly enough, though I know you were just making a joke, here...I watched an interview with one of the very few surviving members of the Jonestown Massacre by the name of Tim Carter (I used his first name for "Tim" the guy who man's the guard shack in the story). One of the things he said in the interview stayed with me...he said something like, "No one joins a CULT. They join a church, or a community group, or a self-help organization...etc." Those inside the cult never see it as that. It's part of the cult-mindset. Heh. And it's also true with The Kindred....poor things. They don't see it for what it is.

Thanks for the comment!

Kat
lidia1991_anlidia1991_an on September 25th, 2013 03:06 am (UTC)

Dean is one of them now? Great story!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 25th, 2013 03:46 am (UTC)
He's certainly headed in that direction. /gulp!

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

:) Kat
Rince1windrince1wind on October 1st, 2013 06:13 am (UTC)
"Father has great taste in souls." That is really ominous.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 1st, 2013 03:25 pm (UTC)
It really, REALLY is, isn't it? Seriously willy inducing! /shudder!

Kat
JJ1564jj1564 on October 12th, 2013 03:49 pm (UTC)
Oh dear Dean is really coming under Father's spell! It's so scary how easy it is to manipulate people - I like the way the pancakes & bacon for breakfast were quickly replaced with oats, - how will Dean function without his cheeseburgers?!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 12th, 2013 04:37 pm (UTC)
Yes...I've read that it is common for cults to withhold food and/or protein. Dean won't be too quick without his burgers and pie to give him strength. Our poor boy...he's getting in pretty deep...

Kat
aerynsun5: I'm Dean WInchesteraerynsun5 on October 13th, 2013 09:53 am (UTC)
Still creepy; can't wait to see what happens next. And again, Dean, you dumbass!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 13th, 2013 01:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah...the "creep" factor is well in place, now. The willies aren't going anywhere for a while. And...oh Dean.../shakes head. Well, hey, look...he's only 23 years old or so here, and he's been hurt and alone...he's probably not thinking entirely clearly. But yeah...oh, Dean... tsk tsk...

Thanks for the comment aeyrnsun. :)

Kat
serendip50: cas dean shelterserendip50 on October 20th, 2013 01:30 pm (UTC)
OMG what mindless and catastrophic devotion.....It is frightening the extent of complete submission that has occurred in such a very short time. Even though we can sense through the invasive text that Dean's resolve is shaky and hesitant on occasion (ie. attachments sill remain through the amulet and the Impala) the pull of the creature's energy within is so much stronger than Dean's flailing free-will.

The suffocation and gentle imprisonment of Dean's mind and body is palpable in this chapter and his slow decent into ritual zombie state seems unequivocal.

Poor Dean....poor Jason.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 20th, 2013 03:00 pm (UTC)
Heya serendip! "catastrophic devotion"...what a brilliant way of putting it! /steals phrase and runs off. ;) Seriously, it really is just that, and so profoundly disturbing since we know that Dean's true devotions are being turned into weapons against him. For as much as he loves Sam and John...that intensity of love is undoing him here, since that love is getting rerouted, so to speak, and applied to Father. And, of course, this devotion only fuels further manipulations. It's unspeakably sad.

It's also sad that Jason is one of the ones leading him down the path, here, too...since this is the very person that Dean came to rescue. Ugh!

Thanks again. You are more than generous. I truly appreciate it!

Kat