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25 September 2013 @ 09:46 pm
jai guru deva om: Magical Mystery Tour (chapter 7)  

Dean was certain the music in his head was a gift—a gift from Father, perhaps.

A/N: Thank you Tifaching, NongPradu and Emmessann for their expertise. There isn't an inch of this story that they have not touched in some way. Thank you also to Sue, Ginger, Penny, Deb and Amanda for reading and helping to steer this crazy-ass ship.

Jai Guru Deva Om

Chapter Seven
Magical Mystery Tour


Dean was certain the music in his head was a gift—a gift from Father, perhaps. As funny as it struck him that his guru was apparently a big, fat Deep Purple fan, and despite how long it had been since he enjoyed a good dose of classic rock, he was too tired to appreciate it. The music stumbled and stammered over him like a string of tin cans clattering behind the Impala. He couldn't grab hold, and the psychedelic sounds of Deep Purple clanged away and then down into silence.

As a member of The Kindred, sleep was a rare thing, doled out an hour or two at a time with long stretches in between rest periods. Sleep nourishes the ego not the spirit!—was the mantra everyone recited whenever he broached the subject. Meditation and worship were better uses of his time, they'd said, and if he desired to move to the next level and become a Disciple, he'd have to cater to the needs of his soul rather than the desires of his flesh. He'd been ashamed, because he truly wanted to seek Father's blessing, but his body—his ego, they'd all told him—was fighting him. So, he was penitent now, in a groggy, barely conscious kind of way, as he ignored the concert in his head. Groaning, he rolled over on the hardwood floor, joints creaking, hips aching, and nuzzled into the corner to preserve his body heat.

That was another thing. The day after he decided to follow Father, they'd forbidden him luxuries like cots, blankets, chairs—hell, even eating utensils. Humbling the ego of an Initiate was necessary in order to advance the soul, and apparently the use of a simple fork coddled it. It seemed silly to Dean, but he wanted to get to the next level. It wasn't like he hadn't been in worse straits on more than one occasion when his dad had left him in charge with no money to go off on one of his longer hunts. Dean had plenty of practice with making do. Right now, however, his spine popped and creaked in protest. Just as he resettled and began drifting away, the music started up again.

"Dean," a perturbed voice rasped at him.

Dean peeled his eyes open, reluctant, lifting a groggy head to try and figure out what was happening.

"You should throw that thing away," Brad said, looking as puffed and bleary as Dean felt.

"Whaa?" his voice ghosted out, raw and broken from chanting all night.

"Phone," Brad said, pointing to the metal storage box acting as an echo chamber. Deep Purple—it was his cellphone ringtone. Dean was mortified. He should have let the battery die, should have tossed it out. Instead, he took it to the garage and charged it every few days—an ego-driven act if ever there was one—checking to see if there were any calls from his dad or Sammy. There never were. He'd allowed his ego to get in the way, and it pained him that Brad witnessed his weakness. Numb hands opened the lid and snatched the phone up before the music stopped.


"That's it? Hello? That's all you have to say for yourself?" Bobby's voice was hot with anger and relief. "Two weeks, Dean. Two weeks without a damn word from you. What the hell have you been doing, boy?"

"Shit, Bobby. Sorry," Dean ground out, clearing his throat and coughing. He fumbled with his sandals, finally giving up and making his way out of the cottage barefooted, shutting the door behind him so as not to disturb Brad.

"Forgot how to dial a phone, didja? What's gotten into you, Dean? Where are you?"

"I'm not…no. I mean, yes. Nothing! I'm still…I'm still in Washington," he tripped over his words, shivering in the predawn damp.

"Well, you don't sound like you know what the hell you're doing. You on a bender?"

"What? No!" Dean assured him. He had no idea what to tell the old man. The truth was out of the question. Bobby wouldn't understand, and he didn't think he should tell him about Father, not until Dean got permission to speak to the other hunters about him. None of The Kindred even knew he was a hunter yet. He could feel Father's power slither around his spine, and he knew he had to put the old man off somehow. "No, Bobby. I…" he gazed around, trying to come up with something. He paused and then smirked into the phone, drawling affectedly. "I met a girl."

"You met a girl…" Bobby deadpanned.

"I met a girl, Bobby," Dean boasted, staring up at a tall pine tree, feeling ashamed, but piling it on as thick as he could. "And she is nursing me back to health and happiness in ways that just might kill me dead. But what a way to go, Bobby. You know what I'm saying? I swear to you, man, I could drown myself in her ripe, luscious—"

"I got the picture, son. Sweet Jesus, boy. What the hell are you thinking?"

"Thinkin'?" Dean asked, irritation seeping into his tone. "I ain't thinking. There's nothing to think about. I'm taking…what do people call it? Personal time? Well that's what I'm doin'. I'm taking some personal time off, Bobby. M'gonna hang out with…Betsy for a while. This feisty thing says she's gonna help me get in touch with nature, an' let me tell you—it's a wild world out there, man. Wild."

"Oh good Christ," Bobby snorted. "Enough. I hope you're keeping your head on straight. So, I guess this means y'ain't comin' this way for a while?"

"Don't keep any candles burning in the window for me. I'm gonna hide out in the bayou with my nymph for a while longer, Bobby!" Dean crowed and then closed his eyes, feeling a sense of shame for his flawless performance. "M'gonna stay here with Brenda for a bit."



"You said her name was Betsy," Bobby reminded the hunter.

"Whatever, dude. Betsy. Brenda. Her name's the least of her memorable assets."

"Aw God, enough, boy." The old hunter got quiet for a moment. "So, how is everything else going, Dean?"

"Great Bobby," Dean told him, and he meant it. "I'm really doing fine. I'm just going to hang out here and wait for the next set of coordinates, you know?"

Bobby sighed, surrendering. "All right, kid. Answer your damn phone next time. I don't expect that kind of treatment…least of all from you." Dean winced at that. "You keep in touch; ‘cause if you don't, I'm gonna come out there and kick your ass. Don't think I won't."

"All right Bobby. I gotta go, man. It's damn early, and my feet are freezing."

Bobby coughed out a lungful of air. "Yer—Yer feet are fr—what? Do I even want to know?"

"Probably not," Dean grinned into the phone. "You take it easy Bobby. I'll catch up with you down the road." He hung up before the old man could argue, turning the phone off and flipping it closed before heading back inside.

"You really should throw that thing away, you know," Brad said, cracking his lids as Dean dropped the phone into his footlocker. The hunter nodded but didn't retrieve it. He'd committed himself to Father, dedicated himself to learning all that the sage had to teach. But there were some days when his ego won the battle. This was one of them.

"I will," he promised. "Just…not today."


The food-tent was crowded when he entered. Out of habit he searched for his friends and spotted them sitting together toward the front of the pavilion. Dean turned without a word and took his place in the back corner, sitting straight and stiff on the dirt floor.

He sat silent, watching Gypsy, Jason, Brad and Maureen as they talked and ate, but they weren't looking toward him. He also knew that Father'd deliberately subdued his connection to them during mealtimes and those hours when they weren't meditating or worshiping. Father wanted him to respect the bond, to appreciate that it was a privilege, not a right. He could handle it with most of the Jedis, but Father had built the bonds with these four to be especially strong, and Dean was very close to them. More than anything, he wanted to get through this phase and earn his place among them.

As he continued to observe them, Maureen turned, and despite his forced exile, he could sense her gentle, soothing kindness even as she engaged Gypsy in conversation. He knew she remembered what it was like to be an Initiate. He felt her silent encouragement, telling him to stay strong and work hard so that he could earn his spot among them. He wasn't going to disappoint her. The Jedis needed him. They wanted him. He'd been told again and again that The Four-fold Path was available to a worthy few, but it wasn't an easy one. Each stage had its own set of challenges. He needed only to look at Jason to know how hard it could be.

Since the day his wife showed up with the camera crew, Jason had had it rough. Despite Dean no longer being allowed on guard-duty until he became a Disciple, he was aware that Mei had returned several more times, threatening civil action if she was not allowed to see Jason. One of the Jedis, Marc, was a lawyer himself, and he tried to convince Jason to get a restraining order against her and threaten his own lawsuit, but Jason flat out refused. The situation had taken its toll on him, and even though Dean was only an Initiate, he perceived Jason's distress at times, just as he sensed Maureen's warmth. He wondered if Jason might be contemplating leaving The Kindred and returning to his wife, and he felt sorry for him. Making that kind of decision was unimaginable, but then again, Dean reminded himself, he didn't have anyone trying to hold onto him.

The loudspeaker outside crackled, chiming three times, and the Jedis filed out. As the pavilion emptied, Maureen approached him with a small bowl and set it on the ground with a wink. Dean nodded his thanks and picked it up, hungrily scooping oatmeal into his mouth with his fingers. This was the worst part. The lack of sleep was hard, sure, and sometimes he felt like he was dreaming even while awake, he was so tired. Not having a cot or blanket or even a spoon was an inconvenience, but it was this—the isolation and the hunger—that was the most difficult to contend with. He'd passed out a few times over the last couple of weeks, and whenever he stood up his vision would gray out for a moment. More than once he found himself stumbling into others before his vision cleared and he found his center. Dean had always prided himself on his stamina, out-training Sam any day of the week. Of course, back then he had access to decent food. Okay, maybe not food that Sam would have called decent, but he at least had been able to consume enough calories to fuel his body. Dean felt lightheaded and spacy most of the time now. Brad and the others told him that it was a good thing, a sign of spiritual growth and the more he opened himself to Father the better things would get.

So, he'd worked even more diligently. And his newfound ability to connect with Father and the rest of The Kindred at such an early stage had earned him respect among the group. If there was one thing he was good at, it was applying himself when it mattered, and the praise and positive reinforcement that he got from both the group and from Father only made him want to try even harder. The Jedis never failed to point out how quickly he picked things up—much faster than they had at the same stage.

"This won't last long," Maureen said, kneeling to meet his eye. Dean gave her a vague smile, taking a moment to string together what she'd said. His brain was still sleepy and sluggish, even after working in the fields for a few hours before breakfast.

Dean scraped the last of the oatmeal into his mouth. He'd never much cared for hot cereal; countless bowls fed to his brother as a toddler, oatmeal drooling out of Sam's mouth and onto his bib, had permanently put him off the stuff. Now he wanted to lick the sides of the bowl, but he fought the urge with Maureen watching him. Hunger won out over pride, though. "Still hungry," he admitted sheepishly, his head in the bowl, lapping up the last remnants. "I suppose there's no hope for blueberry pancakes and bacon, is there? They're only for visitors, huh? The way to a potential Jedi's heart is through his stomach? Is that it?"

The woman brushed her fingertips along his hairline and smiled. "Something like that. As one of The Kindred, you must learn to rely on Father for your nourishment," she said. "Shut your eyes, sweetheart."

"Why? Are there pancakes under ‘em?" Dean asked with a smirk.

Maureen chuckled. "Close your eyes a moment and open yourself to Father. Let him feed you."

Dean sighed but did as she asked, not expecting much. Father was great for inner hunger, but his body needed food. It had gotten so bad lately that he could think of little else unless he was meditating or worshipping. He waited a moment and then gave up. "I'm still hungry," he said cracking one eye at Maureen.

"You're not opening yourself up, silly," she chided with a grin. "Shut your eyes and really open yourself, Dean. We don't strive to connect with Father only when we are in The Heart meditating or giving thanks. We connect with him wherever we are, whenever we need him. Now, let go and ask Father to help you."

Dean concentrated on linking with his teacher, fastening his own tethers to the sage, siphoning energy, inwardly asking for nourishment. The response came as a rapid inrush of sustaining power that pooled in his belly and sated him immediately.

He opened his eyes in surprise. "What the…? Holy shit!"

"You see?" Maureen boasted. "I told you. Father will see to your needs, each and every one, if you only let him. You are so close, now."

"Close? Close to what?" Dean asked.

Brad's voice answered from above them. "Close to becoming a Disciple. You'll be ready to move to the next level soon, Dean. You're loyal, you work hard—Father's impressed." He bent down and took the empty bowl from him.

"He is?" Dean's heart swelled at that, and he could feel Father's power thrill through him in response.

"Yeah. Come on," he said, offering a hand. "Father is going to be leading meditation this morning."

"Seriously? He'll be there?" Dean felt a surge of excitement. He'd felt Father's presence, but he hadn't seen him in person since his initiation.

"Yes, he's going to announce the names of those to be promoted at the next Sacred Haoma Ceremony. I think your chances are great."


The days had become a blur to Dean, and he now marked the passage of time by the growing strength of his connection to Father and The Kindred. Brad had been right about not needing a watch at the river farm. There was always the loudspeaker to let him know when it was time for a meal or for meditation. The rest of the time, the loudspeaker played devotional chants and mantras on an endless loop, making their teacher the dominant presence in both their inner and outer worlds. Dean never went long without Father's soothing voice, but seeing him now threw him off balance, and he swayed like a drunk, overwhelmed by his guru's presence. His proximity intensified the coiling thread between them, and he could see Father's light emanating from him even when Dean's eyes were shut.

He listened, rapt, captivated by Father's voice as his mind stilled, coaxed by love and acceptance as the sage addressed his followers.

"The ego is expressed as a mosaic in how one binds himself to other things, friends, relationships, intimacies, families. All these treasures that are not true treasures make up this montage—a picture called The Ego. It confines the soul, stifles it, traps it behind bars, making communion with me, your Father, impossible. Full symbiosis cannot occur while the ego is bound to other mistresses, yes?" Dean heard Jason clear his throat behind him.

Father continued. "It is but a thin veil, my children. The ego is nothing more than a whispering liar. Rebuke it. Deny it. Open yourself up to me, and I will guide you to an unimaginable reward—a synthesis so pure that you will be able to see the edge of the Universe. Yes. It is yours to grasp. Are you brave enough? Are you loyal enough? Do you love me enough to slay the demon that is your ego?"

"Yes Father! Yes!" Gypsy shouted in her fervor. Others chimed in, declaring their loyalty and love to Father, and Dean joined them, opening himself as wide as he knew how, giving Father more access. And the power poured in, braiding itself into his spine and spreading outward until he experienced nothing but rippling waves of euphoria. He opened his eyes only when he felt someone shake him and call his name.

"Dean. It's time," Brad whispered. "He's going to make his selections. You got this, I'm sure of it."

Dean's eyes swept the room and watched as Father walked among them like a magnet, attracting bodies to lean toward him, hands to reach out to him, wherever he passed. Dean felt the same pull as Father approached, but the guru stopped short, grasping Maureen's hand as she reached up to him.

"Well done, my Daughter-Mother—you who have watched over my children with such tender love. You are my faithful servant and have well-earned your long reward." Maureen's face glowed with love. Dean could feel her devotion, could perceive her reverence through their connection. "You will become a Master, the newest member of the Enlightened Ones, and you will reside with me for all eternity"

The entire room exploded with cheers for Maureen who had achieved the highest honor that Father could bestow and for which they all yearned. Dean was happy for her. No one deserved it more than Maureen, he thought. She'd been a shining example to the rest of them, the best that The Kindred had to offer, Dean knew that—no question. Maureen bent her head to her teacher's feet, tears of joy flowing free.

Dean had been so lost in thought, happy for Maureen, that he didn't even notice Father approach until the sage's light fell upon him, warming him through. Dean gazed up at him with nervous expectation.

"You, too, have done well, my child," Father said. "You have been faithful and true, and you shall become my new Disciple." Dean felt Brad clap his hand on his back, giving it a gripping tug. Gypsy squealed and smiled broadly, throwing her hands up in the air, palms out, in an expression of gratitude and praise.

Last, Father approached Jason. Out of the corner of his eye, Dean saw Brad, Maureen and Gypsy exchange glances in some silent communication. They sat up straight and watched Jason with a sense of tense expectation.

"You are unsettled, my child," Father said as Jason met his eyes, weary and torn. "When you were an Initiate, you learned to love me. As a Disciple you must learn to let go of that which is not of The Kindred. It is not an easy task, as everyone who has passed through that fire knows." Several Jedis nodded, and there were a few distant shouts of agreement. "It is time for your Ordeal to begin. The Disciple will enter The Kiln, fragile and weak, but he will come out an unbreakable, incorruptible Adept. Yes? You are worthy of this travail, my son, because you have followed The Path sincerely and questioned honestly. You are worthy of the fire because you are loved and because you are meant to be with your true family."

Jason glanced up at Father, reverent but agonized. "I—I don't think I can, Father," he said, his face florid with emotion. Maureen stirred and nodded to Brad and Gypsy again. There was a ripple of movement that ran through the Jedis and a couple of them rose and walked silently over to Jason and stood next to him. "I've agonized over this, and…I'm sorry. I think I need to go. My wife needs me." There was a silent pause as suspense built. Everyone seemed to be waiting for something.

Father smiled. "No, my son. You belong with us. We will stand vigil throughout your Ordeal, and only when you have triumphed shall we have our Sacred Haoma Ceremony to celebrate these promotions." The Jedis standing above him pulled Jason to his feet, keeping their hands on him despite his attempts to shake them off.

"I can't do that, Father," Jason said, trying to break free of the Jedis' grip.

Father remained placid. "The next time we meet, you will be ego free, and you will prostrate yourself before me and declare your undivided fealty. This is my gift to you, my son." The sage smiled and, without warning, he dematerialized right in front of them, leaving nothing but an afterglow where he had been standing. Dean's amazement turned to confusion as Jason fought against those holding him.

"No," Jason shouted out, but several more Jedis came up and grabbed him. "Let me go!" he demanded as they pulled him from the room.

Dean found himself on his feet, a reflexive, instinctive response, moving toward Jason to help him, but he soon found himself restrained by Brad.

"Don't, Dean," he said. "This is the way of every Disciple. He'll be all right. He's going to come out of this as an Adept, don't interfere."

Dean looked at Brad as though the young man was insane. "What does that mean? He doesn't want to do this." People were getting up, helping to usher Jason out of the building. Some were chanting and singing as they went.

"Come on, follow and watch." Brad fell in line behind the others who were in high celebration mode, chanting and cheering as they frolicked behind those escorting Jason. It was a bewildering combination, the exuberant, dancing Jedis trailing a resistant, struggling Jason. The crowd stopped in front of the underground meditation bunker that Dean had seen on his first day at the river-farm.

Dante and Kimo held Jason while Tim entered the code on the keypad. The latch released and the door opened with a hiss.

"No! No, no, no…please! I need to be with my wife. I need to go to her!" Jason bellowed as they pulled him down into the underground holding. Dean was appalled and, again, stepped in to try to assist Jason.

"Trust Father, Dean," Maureen said, grabbing him. "He won't be harmed. This is a gift, really. Don't take this away from him."

As the latch closed, Dean felt the link between Jason and the rest of the Jedis sever. Whatever he was about to face, he would be facing alone. Father had cut Jason off from them. The Jedis clapped and cheered, deliriously happy despite Jason's terror. Once the latch closed, the group embraced each other and then disbanded to go about their assigned duties. Only a couple of guards remained, standing vigil by The Kiln. Dean remained staring at the metal door, sickened, while Maureen, Brad and Gypsy tried to get him to come away.

"What the fuck was that? What are they doing to him? I can't feel him. I can't feel him anymore!" Dean said.

"His Ordeal has begun. This is the privilege of every Disciple, and it is a path that one must travel alone. We won't be able to share this experience with Jason; we won't be able to feel him or communicate with him."

"Ordeal? But what does that even mean?"

"It's like a…Vision Quest," Brad explained. "He'll be all right. It is an awesome experience. Don't try to stop it from happening. He's earned the right to be there and deserves this chance."

"But he said he didn't want to stay. You can't make him." Dean said, bristling.

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

"What? Yes. Yes, of course, but—"

"Do you think Father has Jason's best interest at heart?"

"I know he does, but still—"

Maureen pressed a finger to his lips. "Father will take care of him," she said again, her voice soft and patient. "Listen to me, Dean. I had to be carried down to face my Ordeal. I fought so hard that they needed to drag me there." Dean scoffed in disbelief. "Oh yes, it's true. But, it was one of the best things to ever happen to me, and I don't regret a moment of it despite what my ego told me at the time. Jason's ego was fighting for dominance, that's all. It won't win." She reached out and smoothed his hair, stroking his cheek. "Do you trust me?"

"Absolutely," Dean said without hesitation, leaning into her palm, letting her soothing touch calm him.

"Good. I promise you that Jason will thank us all when he returns. He will come out of this as an Adept, one small step away from becoming a Master. This is what we all strive for."

Dean watched her shining face as she spoke, and he wavered. He continued to regard the beautiful woman. "You're going to become a Master," Dean said, thinking aloud.

"I am," she said with a smile. "It's what I've worked so hard for, what I've wanted—for so long—to be one with Father and all my brothers and sisters who have gone before me."

Dean thought about that for a moment, realizing that he'd never seen any of the Masters—the Enlightened Ones as they called them—they all resided with Father, and he'd never been to the mansion.

His brows pleated. "Uh, so once you become a Master, will you still join us for meditation and worship?"

Maureen laughed. "We will meet again when you are a Master. Until then, I will reside with Father."

"Wait," Dean said, considering her words. "So he keeps all Enlightened Ones away from us? Why? Why can't we all stay together?"

"It doesn't work like that, Dean. You'll see for yourself at the next ceremony when you witness my Blessed Transformation." Dean continued to stand there, lost in troubled thought. "Come on, let's leave Kimo and Dante to guard The Kiln. Jason has his path to concentrate on, and you have yours. Father wants you to fast the rest of the day and spend it in meditation and worship. I'll walk you back to The Heart."


After several days of waiting, they'd finally been told that Jason's Ordeal was over. They'd immediately begun fasting and making preparations for the Sacred Haoma Ceremony. While Dean, Brad and Gypsy helped Maureen prepare the caapi for the ayahuasca, they anticipated the big event with excitement and joy.

"Five days. That's all it took him," Brad said, impressed at Jason's swift Ordeal.

"We're twins," Gypsy said with a laugh. "We both took the same amount of time."

"How long did it take you?" Dean asked Brad. He tossed some more ground charcruna into the large pot as Maureen instructed. With her Blessed Transformation imminent, she insisted that they learn the proper way to prepare the ayahuasca.

"Six days," he said, shaking his head in amusement. "I never did anything by halves. At least I'm not the record holder," he chuckled and nudged Maureen. Dean raised his eyebrows at her.

"Eight days," she admitted with a self-deprecating laugh. "See? I was once a problem child, too."

"What's the average length of an Ordeal?" Dean wanted to know.

"Most last about three or four days," Brad said. "But Jason finally made it through, so we won't quibble about the length. Soon we'll have him back with us in body and spirit, so it will be an amazing night. You're going to become a Disciple, Jason an Adept, and Maureen a Master." He shook his head in awe at Maureen. "You made it at last. I'd be jealous if I wasn't so happy for you."

Maureen reached out and drew him into a hug. "Your time will come soon enough. I'm so happy. I feel like I'm flying. Father's love is everywhere. I can actually see it. It's so beautiful," she said, her eyes sweeping the air as if she were inspecting individual molecules. "It's so, so beautiful. It's everything." She stood for a moment, in rapt wonder and then shook herself, laughing. "But enough. It's not just my night. Dean is becoming a Disciple," she said, reaching out and patting Dean's shoulder.

"I don't even know what that means or what it will be like," he admitted.

"It's nothing to fear," she said, idly stirring the brew. "You will be more connected to The Kindred than you ever were before. You'll find it easier to allow communion with Father. You'll see what I mean. It's a wonderful thing."

"Huh. If it's such a good thing, then why was Jason…you know…" he stumbled. "Why was he so down?"

"Well, not everyone has as hard a time as Jason had," Brad said.

"But some do," Maureen interjected. "It's a bit of an in between stage, and the ego is a vicious fighter. You have to learn to allow Father to direct your will, and that's not easy. But no matter how hard your ego might fight, just remember this: there's never been a Disciple who's failed to become an Adept. Not one. You'll make it through—how peacefully, how pain-free is entirely up to you."

"I dunno, guys," Dean laughed. "My dad always said I was a stubborn ass."

"Then we all better buckle up. You'll probably be a handful," Gypsy laughed.

"He'll do fine." Maureen crooned. "I've no fear for you at all, Dean. I can see your luster even as we speak, and you have more than enough strength to make it through this. With your dedication, you'll be an Adept before you know it. But first things first," she said with a chuckle. "Toss in a bit more of that chacruna; the ayahuasca needs to be good and strong. This is going to be a night you'll never forget."

"Don't be a wuss," Brad snickered as Dean eyed his cup of ayahuasca with trepidation, swirling the dark liquid around and around the cup but not drinking it. "It's only going to strengthen your connection to Father."

Dean glanced about the orchard. The sun had set, and most of the Jedis now sat in a worship circle, having already consumed their doses. Hesitant and excited, Dean's heart thumped wildly off beat. The memory of his initiation was too cloudy to know what to expect. He remembered that there had been severe pain involved, though he couldn't nail down the exact cause of it. He only remembered that Father had taken it all away.

The thick, ropy liquid sloshed around the cup as Dean studied it, giving it a quick sniff. It didn't smell particularly appetizing, and he wasn't thrilled with the idea of taking a hallucinogen—not that he hadn't experimented a time or two in his life. He had a distinct recollection of dropping acid a few years back with some chick named Rhonda and winding up wearing her lingerie during the course of the trip. Shit. Dean loved the Jedis, but he had his limits even with them. He always did get a little frisky and uninhibited while under the influence. He heard Brad laugh.

"It's not an aphrodisiac, Dean. You won't lose control that way." Dean flushed crimson. Damn those Jedis and their mind-tricks. There were some thoughts he wanted to keep to himself. Apparently, Dynamic Synthesis had its downside.

"I don't know what the hell you're talking about," Dean snorted.

"You can't keep your secrets from us any longer, Dean, but there's nothing in your head that could change how much we love you," Gypsy said with a giggle. She pressed her finger under the cup and levered it to Dean's lips.

Dean wasn't so sure about that. He'd never told them about himself or his real intent behind his initial visit. He downed the concoction to keep his thoughts from straying there. The brew had a vague flavor of licorice but with a sweet/sour twist that turned his stomach. He immediately felt his body respond by trying to purge it, and he bent over, grasping his knees. Gypsy put her hand on his back and rubbed.

"Keep it down, Dean. Deep breaths," she coached.

"Gah!" He smacked his lips, trying to get the taste out of his mouth. "That's nasty."

"You'll get used to it. Just keep it down." Brad said.

"Ughhh," Dean shivered, righting himself and hopping like a boxer a few times to settle his stomach.

Brad guided Dean over to the circle and sat. "Let's praise Father while we wait for it to kick in. Father and Jason won't be here until after dark. You're going to enjoy the experience as long as you don't fight it. I'm actually kind of jealous, man—witnessing The Blessed Transformation for the first time? Nothing compares to it. Nothing."

Dean closed his eyes and strove to clear his mind despite his nervous excitement, concentrating solely on the mantra they were chanting. The words soon swallowed him, and the wandering rhythms that he and The Kindred were creating together titillated and intrigued him.

Twenty-five minutes later, they were still purring their prayers, a humming chorus of intuitive modulations and inflections, requiring no conductor, changing from legato to staccato like a flock of birds changes direction. Dean had no perception of upcoming shifts; no communication came through the strands of energy that connected him to The Kindred, because a connecting point no longer existed. He was the joint—he was the gravitational vibration that drew them together. He was the music they chanted, and he rippled and trembled as waves of sound against their vocal chords. The Jedis were singing him into being—birthing him—and as he issued forth from their mouths, spilling out into the air and mingling with the heat of the bonfire, he looked upon the world for the first time, mewling with verdant, wide-eyed awe.

He felt nothing and everything at the same time; his body was an amalgamation—an expression of frequencies and particles that jackrabbited around the orchard. Soon, he could feel an inner expansion as he was incorporated into the minds of the other Jedi—or they into him, he wasn't sure which, and he didn't much care as long as they were one unit. The synthesis was faulty, however, and his connection waffled like a flickering light bulb not quite screwed in tight enough. Dean found himself back in his body, feeling nauseous, tottering on his hands and knees several paces away from the worship circle, vomiting thick, syrupy bands of dark green goo into the dirt.

"It's just your ego," a woman's voice told him. "See how ugly it is? See how ugly you are inside? You're vomiting your ego away; this is a good thing!"

Peeling his wet eyes open, Dean heaved again and watched his ego flow from his mouth. He was glad to see it go, wanted no part of it. A wave of loneliness overwhelmed him as more of his ego came out, and Dean scrabbled further away from the group, hiding his shame, not wanting them to see how unlovable he was. Shivering with a cold sweat, another wave, and another, and another rocked him, and he curled into a fetal ball, crying helplessly. Not on his worst days had he ever felt so alone. He was in hell.

"Don't," someone said, clutching at him. "Don't shut yourself off, Dean. Come back."

"I'm all alone. I'm dead!" he cried. "I'm not here. Oh, God…I'm so alone!"

"You're here. You're with us. It's just your ego, fighting back." Dean opened his eyes and saw Brad gripping him. Dean twisted his fingers into the material of his friend's tunic and pulled him close, his eyes fluttering with panic.

"I can't be alone, Sam. Don't leave me! Don't leave me, Sammy!" He pawed desperately at the boy.

"I won't," Brad promised. "Listen to me, Dean, open yourself. We haven't abandoned you. You closed yourself off from us. Look at me," he coached, forcing eye contact. Dean stopped and looked into the familiar eyes of his brother, and a frisson of love thrummed through his nervous system. Sam was right there in front of him. Right there. "Yeah, that's it. You see me, right?"

"Sammy?" he said, bewildered.

"Yes. It's me, man. Remember? I told you not to fight it, you stubborn ass. It's okay, it's your first time. You'll get used to it. Now, come back to the circle. We need you," Sam said, his grin so sincere and real that Dean reached out with his fingers and touched his brother's dimples. "Dean?"

Dean pulled Sam into a fierce, chaotic hug. "Sammy," he said. "Don't go. I can't breathe. I'm not here. There was a hole in the floor and I fell right through. I'm in pieces, man. I'm all over the place. Please find me and put me back together. Please."

A feminine voice penetrated the membrane that isolated him. "Shhhhh," she soothed, moving in closer until Dean could feel her body heat against his back. "We're here, sweetheart. Come back to the circle. Let everything go," she said in his ear.

Dean swiveled his head and Mary was there, smiling, her face young and clear and bright and loving. "Mom?"

"You're all right. We've got you," she beckoned him to follow, and he crawled toward the circle of bodies that were singing joyfully. "Father will be here, soon. Open yourself to him. Don't shut us out."

"I won't, Mom. Mom? Where's Dad?"

"Father's coming, Dean. He's going to make everything all right."

"Don't leave me," Dean begged with breathy desperation.

"Never, my love," she assured him. "I'm right here with Father. Sing to him and you'll find me. Accept him and we'll never be parted."

"Oh God, Mom," he murmured, leaning into her until their foreheads touched. Closing his eyes, he tapped into that river of potency, igniting the inner core that fueled them all. He opened himself to his family again, and their voices rang loud in his ears. Purple, blue, gold, green syllables reached out tentacles that embedded themselves in him, each one creating a symbiotic, conjunctive thread. He followed the colors until he found Father's psychic tether, and he latched on for dear life—for sweet, dear life. He was back, safe, warm, loved, valued. The connection was strong enough to convince him that he never wanted to lose them again.

"It's the ayahuasca," Mary said as she morphed into Maureen. Dean gasped and looked over at Sam, but only Brad was there, now. Maureen tilted his chin until he faced her. "Ayahuasca helps to cleanse the palate. You're a wine taster about to switch vintages."

"They're gone," Dean lamented. "They were here—my mom. Sammy."

"They're no longer relevant. Your ego is beginning its death throes. Let go of what was in order to have something infinitely better. Praise Father, Dean. He is making all of this possible for you. Chant with us and let Father fill you to overflowing."

"M'never lettin' Sammy go. Won't ever happen," Dean said adamantly, but then her words twittered away like embers flying from an inferno, and he soon forgot that she'd spoken at all. Only the chanting was coherent and real, and he focused on that, becoming part of it, joining in and singing his praises even though he was a mouthless thought-form. His bones evaporated and he slumped onto Maureen, draping over her like a big, wet blanket, icy sweat matting his hair and clinging to his tunic. She cradled his head in her lap, and with one voice they chanted until Dean recognized Father's approach through the orchard. The radiance of countless suns shone from him as he walked, and his power shot through Dean like a billion neutrinos. Dean's body reconstituted, and he was able to shift and move, sitting up and opening himself to the light streaming from his teacher.

From the other side of the orchard, behind Dean, Tim and Dante arrived dragging an emaciated, semi-conscious Jason toward Father. Dean could not pinpoint Jason's energy signature within The Kindred yet. Either Dean's link wasn't strong enough for him to distinguish or Jason had not yet been returned to them. His clothes were filthy, his face stained with dirty tear-tracks. His skin was red and blistering as though he'd fallen asleep for hours under a hot, summer sun, and he was mumbling incoherently. Seeing him made the hunter realize how much he'd missed his friend.

"Adept!" Brad shouted. "Adept! Adept!" Others took up the call, chanting the word until it manifested as a three-dimensional, bioluminescent globe. It wobbled and pulsed above Jason, and Dean could not take his eyes off of it.

Jason fell in a heap at Father's feet, his arms reaching out languidly, wrapping them around his guru's feet, laying his head upon them in supplication. Father looked down upon the broken form, his irises whirling, red-brown embers.

"To whom do you belong, Disciple?" Father asked.

"To you Father," Jason professed, his voice shredded and coarse. "My body is your body. My will is your will. My soul is your soul."

"And your wife?" Father prompted, bending down and compelling Jason to rise to his knees. Tim had to steady the man from behind since there was no strength in Jason's legs to keep him upright.

"I deny my wife," he stated without any hesitation. "I have no love that does not originate from you, Father. I have no family but The Kindred. I have no life that you do not grant me. I am your limb, your hammer, your child," he said.

"Well done my Seeker," Father said, bending down and facing Jason. A bright band of energy flew from Father's mouth into Jason's as the two met in an embrace, and the guru's eyes became red-brown hurricanes as his lips closed over Jason's. As if someone had pressed a switch, Dean perceived Jason's presence return to The Kindred, and Father's power restored the new Adept's vitality, filling him, healing him of whatever damage his Ordeal had caused. The red burns on his face and arms disappeared. When Father pulled back, Jason was glowing, radiant, his face shining with peace and completion.

"Return to your family, Adept. Join with them and continue to please me until I call upon you to complete your journey as an Enlightened One."

Jason reached for Father's hand and kissed it. "I will please you, my Father. I vow to serve you with all of my heart." Jason kissed Father's palm again and turned, striding with confidence, joining the circle of chanting souls. Dean beheld The Kindred and noted that they resembled a sparkling chain, a strand of stars joined together. When he looked down at this own body of raw light, he felt a swell of pride and belonging. He was in perfect harmony with those around him.

"Bring me my Warrior," Father said. Dean felt a tug on his frequency and Brad and Gypsy guided him into the circle by the bonfire. He floated between them, soaking up the warmth of Father's grace.

The guru nodded to him. "Welcome to the next level, my child. With this honor comes responsibility. You must take on the quest to relinquish your old life of hunting and harming entities like me." Dean faltered, stunned, his skin clammy despite standing within Father's warm aura.

"Y—you know? You know what I am?" he asked, ashamed.

"You cannot hide yourself from us, Warrior."

"I'm sorry," he whispered as tears sprung free. "P—please don't send me away." The thought of losing his family terrified him.

Father's eyes whirlpooled as he placed a hand on Dean's head, and the filament between them became a thick rope. Father's kiss pierced him, and his individual atoms welled with his guru's essence. Dean began to hear Father's voice resonating in his head as clearly as though he'd spoken aloud.

"You are steadfast and brave, my Disciple. We've known what you are since the day you came to us, and still we have loved you. The shine of your soul was worth the trouble you might have brought us. Is it strange to you that you would have a place among us despite this? Is it unthinkable to you that you would still be honored?" Father paused, but Dean could not speak. "You have never been loved so much as I love you right now, my child. Your brothers and sisters, too, have always loved you, even when you sought to destroy us."

Dean drowned in Father's might and compassion, and the woven web of energy between him and The Kindred crystalized in a dazzling flash. He could suddenly hear their voices in his head, echoing Father's benevolence and acceptance. He was used to sensing them, picking up on general impressions. Now, though, he knew their thoughts just as they knew his. The thoughts became colors and textures and sounds flying past him, and even though he did not understand them all, he knew the Jedis believed he was worthy despite his past. They loved him, and he would do everything in his power to subdue and annihilate his disgusting ego so that they would continue to love him. When Father pulled away, Dean knew that he no longer belonged to himself solely. He was no longer a guest of The Kindred, no longer under their care. He was one of them.

"Rest now, in the arms of your family, my Warrior," Father said, and Dean felt himself pulled back to the worship circle by Brad and Gypsy. They tethered him as he floated above like a wafting kite in a breeze.

Time stuttered as the drugs and Father's power coursed through his veins. Dean couldn't sort things out yet, couldn't tell where the ayahuasca ended and Father began. It was hard to stay grounded, and he kept flying away into the stars. In those freeze-frame moments when he had physical form, he could feel loving arms on him, bracing him. Soft fingers brushed against his brow.

"Come back, Dean. It's time for Maureen's Blessed Transformation." Dean opened his eyes and saw Gypsy's lovely face above his. She lifted her head and pointed. "Come back and bear witness"

He sat up, willing himself to remain corporeal even as he felt himself levitating above the circle. Grabbing onto Gypsy's hand, he sunk back to the ground and watched as Maureen strode unaccompanied toward Father until she stood before him, silent and resolute.

An electric charge of expectancy filled the air, sending chills up Dean's spine as the chanting ceased. Maureen was about to become an Enlightened One, and even as a new Disciple, Dean had no clear notion what that meant. She knelt before Father and kissed his sandals one at a time, prostrating herself before him, her forehead bent to the ground.

"My Daughter-Mother, you have prepared your soul well for your Blessed Transformation. Above all else, this union must be born of your desire. Do you give yourself to me?" Father's eyes gleamed with a soulful hunger.

"With all of my heart, Father. I am nothing without you. I am yours. Feast upon my soul and grow strong."

The words tripped around Dean's skull, and he could not comprehend them at first. The more they reverberated, though, the more confused he became. He would have thought he heard wrong or that the words were a trick of the ayahuasca, but the guru's angelic face twisted sideways like a Picasso painting, and Father sniggered and leered.

"Then, my child—feast I shall."

A pulse of energy blew through the prayer circle, and the air around Father shimmered like heat on asphalt, his eyes bulging, the dark brown disks turning deep crimson. His skin blackened and his body bloated as arms sprouted one below the other until there were eight in total, four on each side. A tail slithered out from behind him and curled around Maureen's neck.

Dean heard a mantra tumbling from his own lips, harsh, guttural syllables of an unknown language.

dadati vaH praaNa bhAkta! puurayati pishacha!

Over and over, the words spilled from the mouths of The Kindred, their voices commandeered and twisted by Father, and Dean helplessly chanted with them, powerless to stop it. As they chanted, the words took on a life of their own, flying from their mouths in an ugly rhythm that, to Dean, sounded like an incantation or spell. He could taste the noisome, baleful energy as it passed over his tongue. All the eyes of The Kindred gaped wide as another seismic wave of magic rippled through the orchard.

"Yes, my children! Sing!" he laughed. "Sing and dance while I feast."

Dean's body responded without his consent. The Kindred rose to their feet as one and started to jump and chant, the horrible words tumbling into the night air.

dadati vaH praaNa bhAkta! puurayati pishacha!

Maureen screamed in agony when Father touched her head as he began chanting with The Kindred. She did not stop screaming until his mouth descended on hers, not filling her, but drawing something out. The light Father extracted from her was a hauntingly beautiful, clear liquid light, but as he siphoned her soul into himself, the radiance began to break the woman apart. Her skin flaked like dry clay in the desert sun, and light spilled from each new crevice. A crystalline radiance also blazed from her eyes, mouth, ears, and nose—all of it flowing into Father's hideous, gaping mouth. The guru's face grew more wanton and hungry as he consumed her, slavering and slurping without modesty or restraint. Horrified, Dean tried to stop, tried to get to Maureen, to help her, tried to do anything other than jump and chant those words. Instead, he chanted still louder and stronger along with the rest of the Jedis while Father feasted on their friend.

dadati vaH praaNa bhAkta! puurayati pishacha!

As the light diminished in Maureen, tears filled the anguished eyes of The Kindred, and the energy flowing through and among them was tortured and full of fear. Dean could feel their collective attempts to break free of the compulsion to chant, but they simply weren't strong enough. Father's power, while weakened as he feasted, was still powerful enough to keep them chanting and jumping--endlessly. Maureen's body disintegrated, her flesh scorched and charred to black cinders, which Father also consumed, right down to the last dust mote and spark. Father's body flowed like liquid for a moment, arms receding, tail disappearing until he was, again, a simple man with a mild, serene face. His eyes flashed Maureen-blue for a moment, and his face stretched, mirroring the woman's features. When he spoke, it was with Maureen's voice, though her words were strained and forced.

"Do not fear for me. The Blessed Transformation is complete," she said to them. "I am with my Father and can now see to the ends of Creation. I am at peace." Light issued from Father's body, brighter and more magnificent and compelling than ever before, incorporating the woman's soul light into his own. He exuded a lulling power, soothing The Kindred, convincing one and then another and then another that what they had witnessed had been divine and wondrous. Around the circle Dean watched as the shock and horror faded away from each Jedi, and stoned smiles returned as their cares evaporated in the light. The open channel that Dean had worked so hard to widen between guru and student made it easy for Father to reach in and placate him. His teacher ripped away his worries, stole his fears until he remembered nothing of them. Soon, Dean recalled The Blessed Transformation as nothing but an unspeakably moving experience, filled with light and wonder. Father swindled all of the Jedis out of their horror until only sublime color and vibration and wind and pine and peace were left. Dean smiled, feeing a part of everything, chanting his happiness with all of his heart.

"Rejoice, my children. Your sister has pleased me and has been rewarded."

The chanting swelled to an exuberant crescendo as The Kindred celebrated Maureen's transcendence, each one looking forward to the day when her blessed fate would be theirs.

Continue to Chapter 8

A/N: The incantation: "dadati vaH praaNa bhAkta! puurayati pishacha!", rendered into appallingly poor Sanskrit (wer're talking Google Translator quality, here!), roughly means, "Om-nom-nom-nom. Your soul tastes like chicken!" For those readers who know the language, I beg both your forgiveness and your indulgence…for the rest of you…just look at the pretty words and pretend I used them correctly!

sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 12th, 2013 07:54 pm (UTC)
Poor Dean...his instincts were to help Jason, but he just couldn't quite get there with Father's mojo (not to mention the non-stop conditioning). I think it may take something super special for Dean to snap out of it at this point...


Thanks much!