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29 September 2013 @ 06:26 pm
jai guru deva om: I Me Mine (chapter 8)  

It's important to keep in mind that it's not the amount of pressure you apply, it's where and how you apply it

A/N: This story has been touched by the talents of NongPradu, Emmessann, and Tifaching, and I am more grateful than I can properly say. I also want to thank Sue, Ginger, Penny, Deb and Amanda who also read much of this story and helped guide me when I had gone astray. Believe me when I say that this story is much better for their influence.

Jai Guru Deva Om

Chapter Eight

I Me Mine

**ॐ**

"It's important to keep in mind that it's not the amount of pressure you apply, it's where and how you apply it that's going to result in the most damage. Yeah, there's gonna be some trial and error involved to find your opponent's weak spot, but continue to engage him and you'll find it. See?" Dean demonstrated the hold on Brad again. "Grab your enemy from behind where he's vulnerable, swing your right arm up until your inside elbow is under his chin. Then, clasp your hands behind your enemy's ear." Dean repeated the move a couple of times for emphasis.

"Go easy big boy," Brad teased, melodramatically straining for breath.

"Don't be a wuss," Dean warned, thumping him with his free arm before turning to Jason, opening up his stance to make sure that the older man could see everything. "The crook of your elbow becomes a vise, notice? Now, work your arm like a nutcracker right on the sides of the trachea where the carotid arteries are—just like that." He wiggled his arm to get a better bite on the sides of Brad's neck. "You don't need any more pressure than it would take to squeeze an orange. You do that—" He applied some force but stopped before he finished the move. "You prevent blood-flow to the brain…and boom, it's lights out and the fight is over in a matter of seconds—clean as that." He released Brad and stepped off the mat. "Let me see you try it on Jason. Don't finish it, though. I don't want to have to break out the smelling salts."

Dean moved to the other side of the garage to give them sparring room. Father requested that the Disciple put his expertise to use, and the young man was not only The Kindred's newest auto mechanic, he had become their MMA trainer and weapons expert. The small shop was his castle, and each day when the Community Outreach Team went into town to sell their goods at the farmer's market or to try to recruit new members, Dean made use of all that extra space. Today he was teaching Brad and Jason some new moves.

"Dammit Jason," Brad fussed when the man eluded the hold. Jason laughed, enjoying the younger man's frustration.

Dean watched them, intent and engaged. "Use the half-guard sweep and then go for the rear naked choke." Brad maneuvered Jason into position and adroitly finished his move. "You got him!" Dean encouraged. "Good!"

"Good for who?" Jason growled, his airway in peril as he tapped out.

Brad patted his arm and gave him a good-natured shove. "Good for me. I'm a badass," he crowed.

"Don't worry, Jason," Dean said with a conspiratorial nod. "Tomorrow we'll show Brad the joys of the Rolling Knee Bar."

"Hey!" Brad complained as he got up and dusted off his trousers.

Dean gathered the Filipino fighting sticks and other training equipment they'd been using and stored everything in one of his old duffels. "You guys did good," he said. "The away-team is going to be back any minute. Let's clean up and we'll continue tomorrow." He bent over, dragging the heavy duffel to the side.

"I see your ego spilling out there, Dean," Brad said with a grin.

"Huh?" Dean said, clueless.

Following Brad's line of sight, Dean glanced down and noticed that his amulet had slipped out of his shirt and was swinging like a pendulum as he moved the bag. He fumbled a moment, stuffing it under his shirt with hasty fingers. "Sorry," he said.

Brad raised an eyebrow. "Hey, look, man—it's not my place to tell you what to do. I get that some things are hard to give up even after walking The Path for all these weeks. Just know that we're with you, Dean, okay? You don't have to hide it from us." Brad and Jason exchanged glances and nodded, turning to Dean.

"We're with you," Jason agreed.

Dean's face flushed hot with embarrassment and shame. He tossed the equipment bag into the corner of the garage and grabbed a bottle of water, shrugging his acknowledgement as he drank long and deep, masking his humiliation and sense of failure.

Summer was well under way, and as the days had spilled one into another, Dean found that being a Disciple was everything he'd been warned about and then some. He loved Father and The Kindred; he was devoted to them and wanted to become an Adept and an Enlightened One, but his ego seemed to be growing rather than diminishing, and he was in constant battle with his old attachments. He only found peace during meditation and worship. The rest of the time he struggled to keep thoughts of his former life from dominating. He'd been off the hunt and out of the loop, away from his car—his music—for so long that he was experiencing serious withdrawals. He wanted a greasy burger. Hell, he wanted to get laid—badly. The celibacy bullshit that The Kindred practiced was never going to fly on a permanent basis—no damn way. It was all he could do to not get in the car and drive away—drive away and get back into his own clothes, turn up the collar of his leather jacket, crank AC/DC and go. He'd done his part and investigated Father. But there were monsters still out there. Father couldn't keep everyone safe, so Dean'd have to do his part. He had responsibilities that he couldn't ignore. Yeah, the sage offered Dean true peace and unconditional love, and yeah he wanted that, but he wasn't sure if he'd be able to walk away from his whole life in order to have it. He was so torn.

"Is it because Sam gave it to you?" Brad interrupted his thoughts. Sometimes Dean hated that The Kindred knew things about him that he never shared on a conscious level. They didn't perceive everything, but they always knew enough to make Dean feel uncomfortable. He folded his arms and leaned against the workbench, closed off, saying nothing. "Don't get defensive, Dean," Brad softened, reading his mind. "I'm not trying to upset you. I'm just curious."

"It was a gift," Dean said, a small part of him wishing that he could yank the thing off and be done with it, the rest of him eyeing the nail from which his car keys now hung. "I can't just let it go. I can't just forget everything, turn it all off like that. I don't work like that, man. I can't. Sam would never forgive me if I took this off." He paused. "I'd never be able to forgive myself."

"Do you really think that? Do you think Sam still cares about that?" Brad continued to prod. Dean folded his arms and cleared his throat.

"We all had to give up things that tied us to our former lives," Jason said. "Remember how I was when I was a Disciple? I get it. I do. But maybe it's time to let some of your crutches go."

"Crutches? This is the only thing I wear, still." Dean ran his hands through his sweaty hair.

Brad shook his head, his voice patient. "It's the only crutch you wear, but it's not your only one." He walked over to the workbench in the corner and moved a few things around until he'd unearthed Dean's cellphone attached to its charger. "Your cellphone, I presume?"

"Well," Dean said, swallowing. "At least I got it out of the cottage. It's not like I even use it anymore."

"You moved it out of the cottage and into the room you spend most of your free time in. That's not much of a sacrifice, now is it? It seems to me like you're more attached to it than you were when it was in your footlocker. And let's not even mention the car that you won't let anyone touch."

Dean's face paled at the mention of the Impala.

Brad put his hands up in surrender. "I'm not going there, Dean. I'm not. Like I said. We get it. We all had our beater cars." Dean's eyes went baleful, but Brad barreled on, oblivious. "Don't worry about it, man. Just keep meditating and working on subduing your ego. The rest will follow."

Dean washed his face in his hands. "Sorry," he said. "I'm working on it."

"Are you still having nightmares about Sam and your dad?" Dean peered up at Brad, stunned. "I sleep right next to you, dude. It's not hard to pick up on. You've been talking in your sleep ever since you became a Disciple. So," Brad prompted. "How bad are the dreams?"

Dean stared at the younger man. "They're nothing. I'm fine." It was a lie, of course. Despite being able to sleep on his cot again, he'd been having horrible nightmares ever since he'd been made a Disciple. The nightmares were always the same; either Sam or his dad would be in the clutches of a horrible Shade or demon, but he could never get to them in time, no matter how hard he tried. Every attempt resulted in a failure, punctuated by the contempt and disappointment in his brother's and father's eyes as the beast consumed them.

"You're not fine," Jason said. "But you will be. Eventually. You'll see. I wish I could give you a glimpse of what your future holds. I wish you could see what I see and feel what I feel. I wish you could know how happy I am now that I've stopped fighting and accepted Father's will as my own." He put his hands in the air in praise. "Thank you Father for taking my ego. Thank you for filling me with your love," he chanted, his eyes focused on Dean as they suddenly flashed iridescent-green and then turned brown. Jason's entire demeanor transformed, taking on Father's demure mannerisms.

"You are worthy, my son," Father's voice said, using Jason as his conduit. "Do not lose hope. I am with you. I will guide you. You will be my child and no other man's son. When all others fail you, I will be there."

The power emanating from Jason unnerved Dean, and he instinctively fell to his knees, reaching out, gripping the man's hand, feeling a desperate need to be near that warmth and grace. Dean felt sheltered and loved as he gazed into the brown spinning depths of Father's eyes. They flashed again, feral golden-green, and then back to Jason's normal blue.

Jason looked around, reorienting himself. He was as overcome and filled with awe as Dean. "He touched me," Jason said, his eyes glassy and dazed. "He was inside of me. I've never felt anything like it before in my life. It was incredible."

"Congratulations," Brad clapped him on his shoulder. "Your first channeling experience. It's an honor and a privilege that Father does not give lightly. He rarely manifests himself through his Adepts, Jason. I've only done it that one time we went to talk to Mei. Maureen was the only Adept I'd seen him work through on a more consistent basis." He gripped Dean by the shoulder and helped him to rise. "And it's an honor for you, too. Father doesn't express himself to just anyone. He must have great hopes for you."

"See, you're important to him, Dean. You're needed," Jason said. Dean stood, bewildered and shaking. "You okay, Dean?"

Dean cleared his throat and shifted, awkward and self-conscious. "Yeah. I'm good."

Jason's eyes misted. "You're not going to let him down. I know it. Things will be hard for a while, but you'll be fine. Come on, let's chant together and give thanks. Father is life. Father is Love. Father is my keeper…"

An inner gravitational force pulled Dean into the chant, and soon all three men were praising their teacher. It soothed him. It always soothed him. Dean didn't know what was wrong with him or why he was fighting so hard against his teacher. A part of him wanted to surrender and let go—resistance was exhausting. It wasn't as though his family would ever miss him. The three men chanted as a synchronous unit for a few minutes and stopped, opening their eyes as one.

"They're back," Brad said, reaching out and pressing the garage door to open it for the returning van.

As soon as the vehicle was in the garage, Gypsy opened the door and jumped out, wagging her finger at the three of them.

"No fair training without me! I want to learn some new moves, too!" she said, throwing her arms around each in turn. Dean was happy to see her and squeezed her tight, lifting the young woman off the ground in a big bear hug.

"You can train with us tomorrow if you're not going into town," Dean promised her.

"Good. Oh! My manners," she scolded herself, offering her hand to a young, diminutive woman in punk boots and fishnet stockings who had gotten out of the van. Her hair was styled in a fluorescent pink pixie-bob and her fair skin sported several tattoos. The girl had to be about Sam's age, Dean figured; though, noting her eyebrow and tongue piercings, it was doubtful that his geek brother would have hung out in the same circles. "This is Brianna. Brianna, this is Jason, Brad and Dean. Brianna is interested in learning more about us. Father thinks she'd make a wonderful Initiate."

The girl had wide, amber, kohl-lined eyes—by far her best feature, Dean thought. Beautiful. "Hey," she said dispassionately, attempting to cover her shyness. "I had to find out what this place was all about. What can I say? That tight-assed lady pissed me off. I had to show her that she can't keep people from making their own choices."

"What lady is that?" Brad asked, confused.

"Some chick was picketing your people in town," she said. "She sure as hell doesn't think much of this place. Whatever. I had to come check it out. Call me a rebel," she said.

Jason looked at Gypsy. "Mei?"

Gypsy nodded. "Hey Luna," Gypsy called to one of the other Adepts. "Why don't you take Brianna on a walk-around the place and let her ask some questions."

"Sure thing," Luna said, putting a hand on Brianna's shoulder and guiding her out of the shop, chatting as they left.

As soon as they were out of hearing, Gypsy turned to Jason. "Yeah, it was her. Since you filed your restraining order, she can't come within 100 yards of the property, so she's taken to passing out flyers and picketing our recruitment drives. She's becoming a real problem. I think she's organizing some of The Kindred's family members, too, trying to get them involved. There were a few other people with her, and one of them was Kimo's mom, I think. She was demanding that we ‘release him'."

Jason nodded. "I'll see what Marc can do to help. He's getting me started on filing divorce papers. This could get ugly, but what do you do?" Dean shifted and rubbed his neck. Jason watched him. "I know what you're thinking, Dean."

Dean blew out an incredulous breath, hesitating a moment. "That's pretty cold, man," he said. "A few weeks ago you were ready to leave this place to go back to her."

"You're right. I was," Jason admitted. "I loved her. A part of me will always love her, and I'll always honor her, Dean. But what do you want me to do? I'm not going to leave this place. I deserve to do what makes me happy. I've done nothing wrong. I begged her to join me and she refused. So, tell me, Dean, what hope is there for reconciliation?"

"I dunno, dude," Dean said. "I hear you; it's just so fucked up. I don't know if I—" Dean pulled back and shook his head, putting the brakes on the conversation.

"You don't know if you can make the same decision? You don't think you can commit to The Path?" Jason asked.

"Maybe—no, that's not what I mean. I mean—" Dean fumbled. "You know what? It doesn't matter. It's not like I have anyone breaking down the doors trying to talk me into leaving."

"You're still holding on, though. You're still attached," Gypsy said. "We all went through the same thing. It's okay, Dean, you'll overcome it. It won't be easy, but you'll get through this phase."

Brad cleared his throat and chuckled. "Well, you did warn us about that stubborn streak of yours. Come on you big pain in the ass," he said, giving the troubled Disciple a slap on the back. "Gypsy needs to see to our new Initiate and Jason has a private session with Father to get to; how about you and me fast the rest of the day and spend it in meditation—sound good? I'll be right there with you. Tomorrow we'll witness Father initiate Brianna. It will be glorious. We're about to have a new sister. Let's go."

Dean sighed. Being a Disciple sucked; he didn't want to be a disappointment to Father or The Kindred, but the more he thought about what it would mean to commit to them, the more he felt like a huge phony. He'd always been a love ‘em and leave ‘em, no regrets kind of guy, but his usual cavalier approach to social interactions, taking what he needed and leaving when it suited him, was not going to fly, here.

"Quit daydreaming," Brad poked him. "Get the lead out. Let's go."

"Yeah. Right, I'm ready. Let's go," Dean said, walking away and holding the door for the others. Meditating would make him feel better. It always did—for a while, at least.

**ॐ**

Another week of fasting and meditation found Dean on the verge of a very hard decision. "Rough night, huh?" Jason did a double take when he sat down with his bowl of oatmeal, noticing Dean's puffy face and bleary eyes. Three hours of fieldwork had done little to revive him. "Yeah, I remember those mornings," he reminisced with a snort. "Nightmares, doubts, a brain that wouldn't shut up—it felt like the world was caving in on me. That about sum it up?" Dean gave him a vacant glance and shrugged.

Yes, that summed it up. The nightmares were unrelenting, and exhausted as he was, he now dreaded the few hours of sleep he was allowed. Thoughts of his brother and dad… even Bobby…were eating at him whenever he wasn't meditating or worshiping. He knew they didn't want him, knew they wouldn't care if he chose to dedicate himself to The Path—hell, they'd probably be grateful that the guru had taken him off their hands—but he didn't know if he could do it. Becoming an Adept meant giving himself to Father and The Kindred, relinquishing his former life and family. The more he thought about it, the more he knew what the hard choice was going to be. As much as he loved Father—and he did, he loved him with all of his heart—he realized he'd made a mistake thinking he could walk away from his family and from hunting. It didn't matter what his family felt about him. It only mattered how he felt about them.

He fingered the amulet. Why bother hiding it? He wasn't fooling anyone. They all knew it was there. To their credit, none of them got on his case for it, and Father did not make any ultimatums. Everyone said he'd take it off when he was ready; though, it did annoy him how confidently, how lightly they'd said it, as if taking it off was inevitable—as if it was already a done deal. So, he let it stay where it was. Wearing it gave him strength, reminding him what was important, reminding him that he alone determined his fate. The rebellious hunter in him who valued his autonomy took satisfaction from that. So he now let it hang out for all to see.

Gypsy smiled as he toyed with the pendent, sharing keen glances with Brad and Jason. It was discomfiting and unsettling, knowing the Adepts were exchanging thoughts and energies that as a Disciple he was unable to perceive. They kept him purposefully out of their loop, and he resented it. It made him miss Sam and his dad all the more. Dean'd had good connections with both, strong enough that he needed nothing beyond a subtle eye movement or twitch of the mouth to communicate with either one of them. The memory made him feel hollow. Gypsy saw his sour expression and leaned into him, putting her hand on his cheek. And damn it if he didn't feel the pleasant, magnetic pull of her energy. It threaded through his own, binding them together, and he knew without question how genuine her affection and concern was, and despite his inner war, he found himself leaning into her touch and taking comfort in her. He blew out a long breath.

"It's going to be all right. You know that, don't you?" she said. "You're giving up your ego, not your family. You're not going to not love them. You're going to love them without the baggage, without the shackles. When you go through your Ordeal, Father's going to set you free. The ego wants to possess things, even people. You're trying to own your family, but that's not real love." She continued to stroke his cheek, and there was an influence, a draw to it that Dean sensed came from Father.

Maybe she was right. Still, Dean couldn't conceive of turning his back on his family permanently. It was greedy of him, but he wanted both. He desired to follow Father and have his family. Yet, one of them had to go, they said, and as much as Dean wanted the one, there was no way he could give up the other. It was inconceivable. He'd meditated and worshipped until he was blind with exhaustion, too tired to think for himself. His entire world was Father and The Kindred. He'd given up hunting. Hell, he'd given up sex, for fuck's sake, and he hadn't had a drink in ages. But cutting out his family? It was too much to ask. He knew he was more of a downer than Jason ever was. He knew he was moodier, more pensive, but he didn't know how not to be. He didn't know how to tell them that this was a deal-breaker for him.

Jason's quick laughter pulled him out of himself. "Nope, you're not near as bad as I was, Dean. You're close, man. You are. But I took the blue-ribbon in pre-Ordeal moping," he said with a laugh.

"Right," Dean said, irritated with the man for making light of his private thoughts.

Jason gripped his shoulder. "This is the hardest phase, but you're almost through it."

Well, Jason had a point, there. Dean knew that he wouldn't be able to continue on like this. Something had to give. They had a lot to offer him, but the price was too high. He dreaded disappointing them, but he didn't have any other choice. He sighed.

"Don't dwell, Dean. Don't," Brad said. "Let's go meditate. Afterwards, we have a wonderful surprise for you in the shop." They rose from the table.

"Surprise? What kind of surprise?" Dean asked, suspicious.

"Well, it wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it, Disciple," Jason laughed. "Don't worry, though. It's going to be a wonderful day for you."

"Wait for me, guys. I'm going to take this over to Fairy," Gypsy said, picking up a bowl of cold oatmeal. They glanced toward the back of the pavilion where Fairy sat on the floor, patiently waiting for her breakfast. Brianna, or Fairy as they now called her because she was so small and pixie-like, had been initiated the day after she arrived, and she was a bundle of energy and enthusiasm. Dean was fond of her, though he still missed Maureen's motherly warmth. That sent his spirits tumbling. If he left The Kindred, he'd never see Maureen again. She'd always had such faith in him, and the thought of letting her down cut deep.

He pinched the bridge of his nose and cringed. They all had such plans for him, and he was about to fail the best friends he'd ever had.

**ॐ**

Dean's legs shook when he lifted the large shop door. Their big surprise for him was about to be spoiled by telling them that he was leaving. He stopped short as the aluminum door groaned and clanged into place, and he stared, dumbfounded. This was a surprise, all right.

Robed in white, Father stood next to the Impala, running his fingers over his baby's sleek exterior, caressing her, evaluating her.

Gypsy gave Dean a pat on his back. "This is your surprise. Congratulations, Dean."

"Whaah?" Dean was a jumble of responses, awe and love at seeing Father squared off against protection and possessiveness at watching the sage fondle the Impala, two weather fronts clashing in a supercell of emotions. All four devotees, Dean, Brad, Jason and Gypsy fell to their knees, huddling together as Father approached them.

"Ahh, my young Warrior," Father said, his face kind and bright with humor. "I have come to see you, my son." He laid his hand on Dean's head, and the hunter could scarcely hear a word for the power swarming through him—churning up feelings of awe, loyalty, rapture and desire.

The sage continued. "The time has come for you to declare your allegiance to The Kindred and to me." Dean was lost in the ecstasy of Father's presence and barely heard him for the love welling within him at his teacher's touch. He simply stared up at him, mouth slack, eyes half-lidded and placid. "The process is not easy, but you shall take the first step today, won't you my child?" Father's face brightened when Dean nodded obediently. "It is time for you to begin to relinquish that which is not of The Kindred. Soon, you will prepare this vehicle to be sold, yes? We will take the monies earned from its sale and we will put it to greater use."

The room tilted and adrenaline began to surge as Dean processed and then reprocessed the words Father had spoken. His mouth worked and his eyes snapped shut and then popped wide. "What?" he asked, finding his voice and brushing Father's hand off his head.

Father smiled and cup-clapped his hands with joy. "Soon, you will relinquish your ego and sell your car as a token of your loyalty. This toy is a perfect physical manifestation of your ego and individuality. Come. Rise, my son; today is a joyful day in your spiritual development."

Dean rose but stood back on his heels. "What the hell are you talking about? I'm not selling my car," he said, shocked at his own temerity. He winced as if he expected a blow, but Father gave him a compassionate smile and reached out to him. The hunter pulled away before the sage could touch him. The threat to Baby had shocked him into a moment of clarity.

This couldn't happen. What the hell had he been thinking? Some kind of serious mojo had to be at work here; deep down he could feel it. Dean turned to the others, noticing their sycophant smiles, their mindless obedience as if he was seeing it for the first time. He was looking at strangers. Jason had changed since he'd become an Adept. Gone was his pain and confusion, but gone also was his love for and loyalty to Mei. It was more than that, though. It was as if a part of Jason had been altered or removed. Observing Gypsy and Brad, it occurred to Dean that he'd never known these two at all. They'd already been Adepts by the time they met. He wondered what they'd been like, what their loves had been, what attachments they'd grappled with; most of all, though, he wondered by what evil process it had all been shorn away.

They'd taken Jason to his Ordeal against his will. Maureen also said she'd been forced into The Kiln. Did anyone go without a fight? As he watched the others now, his throat went dry, and he studied their smiling, expectant faces. They had a surprise for him, Brad had said. It was now evident what they had in store, and Dean knew he was in a volatile and dangerous predicament.

"I mean, uh…sure. Sure," he said trying to sound convincing. He waved toward the Impala and put his hands on his hips. "Why wait, huh? I'll, uh, just detail her, give her a tune up and a good wash…take her into town myself. I'll take care of it."

Father's smile bisected his face. "Excellent. When the time comes, The Kindred will aide you. First, you must duel your ego. Yes my Warrior! The time has come at last, my child, and when you triumph over it, your beautiful soul will be cleansed. Today you shall begin your Ordeal. Rejoice. A new Adept will soon be born."

Dean backed away, nodding. "Ordeal, huh? That's…wow…that's—that's…wow. That's something. Jeez." He tried his best to remain casual and easy-going. He pivoted to try and get a glimpse over his shoulder to see if he had any escape-route options but found the way blocked. The rest of The Kindred had arrived and were now standing in the sun, each of them smiling as though it was Christmas morning. Even Fairy was there, looking both supportive and somewhat baffled.

Sonofabitch.

"Through the fire, my son," Father sang out, drawing Dean's attention back. "You will fight your way through the fire and return to me—never to be parted. The Kindred will escort you." Without another word, Father, dematerialized, leaving Dean shaking as Brad and Jason put firm hands on his shoulders, turning him around and walking him out of the shop.

The Kindred opened up a pathway as Dean allowed them to direct him from behind. He forced himself to remain calm and compliant, but his focus was keen and sharp as he took in his environment, tense as a hair-trigger, waiting to take advantage of his first opportunity. The fencing around the perimeter was high, but it wasn't hot. There'd be no danger of electrocution. He was closest to the border on the river, which suited him fine. He'd be able to evade them in the water. Once he escaped and regrouped he could figure out a way to get the Impala back. Right now he needed to stay out of The Kiln at all cost. Nothing else mattered. If he went in there, he wouldn't be the same when he came out. He knew his life depended on getting away.

The crowd of Jedis behind him ululated with joy as they jumped and celebrated with wild abandon. Brad, Jason, Tim, Dante and Kimo were flanking him as they walked, but the way ahead of him was still clear. Without warning, Dean lurched out from under their hands and bounded away, cat-like, sure-footed despite the poor rations he'd been on for weeks. He heard a collective gasp come from the surprised Jedis; there were some shouts and a few pursuing footfalls. After that, he paid little heed. He was nothing more than a running machine.

Straight through the thick underbrush he tore, ferns slapping in his face, brambles catching his tunic and ripping it as he sprinted. A root tripped him, but he lithely rolled and jumped back on his feet without breaking his momentum; a rotting log cut across his path and he leapt it, landing on sturdy legs and continuing his rhythmic strides. His sandals hampered him, but since all the other Jedis were wearing them too, he figured they were all on the same playing field, at least. Down a small incline and straight across a small stream, Dean ran with all of his might. And as focused as Dean was, the horrific realization that he had gone full-on Jedi over the course of the past—whatever it had been, month or month in a half—was not lost on him. That white-robed, light-filled, sweet-talking sonofabitch had whammied him.

Tearing through the scrub and thick undergrowth, Dean felt sick. He'd screwed up—screwed up big damn time. He felt a complete and utter failure. Reckless and petulant, he'd jumped into a hunt, half wounded, ill prepared—feeling low—and he'd walked right into the arms of an evil bastard that didn't just want his life, it wanted his mind and soul. If he didn't make it to that river not only was his life in danger but his dad's, his brother's and countless other innocent people's as well. If he didn't make it, if the thing enslaved him, the Jedis would be unprotected and his Dad and Sam would have no one watching their backs. If anything happened to them and he wasn't there to help, that would be on him.

And so he ran with everything that he had, constructing whatever hasty defenses in his mind that he could, forcing that tap he'd opened to close again. He'd been tricked into encouraging whatever forced connection the monster had established, had been manipulated into opening it wider. Dean now slammed whatever inner doors he could, barricading his mind from the creature. Seeing the fence peeking through the trees, Dean shoved aside all thought, tabled any inner debate; nothing else mattered except reaching it and getting free. He ran.

Seconds sped by without hindrance, and his confidence grew. He was so concentrated, so in the zone, that he almost ran right into Father's outstretched arms as the guru suddenly materialized in front of him. Dean pulled up short, hesitating, wasting precious seconds as he bobbed and wavered, trying to decide which direction to run. He made his choice and sprung away, but after no more than ten seconds of flight, he found that way also blocked by Father. Confused, he checked behind him to see if the way was clear, but Kimo was there, barreling toward him. Dean spun around again, breaking to the side, making a mad dash to the fence that was so close. Two strides became four and four became ten, and he ran until he hurled himself at the fence, hitting it with a heavy, metallic clang. Springing up, he dug his feet into the wires, hoisting himself to within feet of freedom.

There were some shouts not far away that pulled his attention for just a moment. His footing slipped and he had to readjust as he reached for the top of the fence to steady him. Before he could get a firm grip he felt a yank on his foot and he tumbled helplessly to the ground. Kimo was right there to slam him against the fence from behind, sandwiching him, pinning him tight.

The man put his arms around him from the back, squeezing him in a bear hug, dragging him away from the fence several feet before trying to take him down and subdue him. Dean pivoted and head-butted Kimo's forehead with as much force as the back of Dean's head could withstand, and the man dropped with an agonized grunt. Dazed by the impact himself, the hunter shook his head, trying to clear it, and then made another desperate leap at the fence. Father materialized right in front of him again, making the way impassible. Torn between fight-or-flight, Dean's anger bubbled up with the sneaky bastard's smirk so close. He chose fight.

Standing his ground, growling his hate and rage, Dean threw a violent right hook as hard as he possibly could. His fist passed right through what he discovered was the mere apparition of the sage, and, having expected impact, his arm swung around in a wild arc, pulling him off balance. Struggling to stay on his feet, Dean looked at the grinning image of Father, stunned. The sage's eyes sparkled with mirth and confidence. The guru nodded and pointed behind the hunter. Rattled, Dean turned as Jason made a leaping attempt to tackle him. Dean weaved out of the way, but eluding him gave Dante enough time to grab hold of his torn tunic and shove him to the ground.

Dean rolled with him, scissoring his knees, using his hips as a fulcrum. He pinned Dante's right leg and levered it until joints popped and tendons tore. Dante howled in pain. Dean released him as Jason made a second attempt at a tackle. Weaving again, he jumped up and stanced himself, fists up, chin down, eyes threatening death. Two men were writhing on the ground. That left Jason, Brad and Tim. Dean knew that the only way to freedom was through them. He didn't want to hurt them, but he'd do what he needed to in order to survive.

"Easy Dean," Brad said.

Dean bristled with menace and a sense of betrayal as the men circled him. His jaw clamped in defiance when he saw that Tim held a syringe of some sort in his hand.

"Oh, you've got to be joking. Come on!" Dean snarled. Tim uncapped the needle but made no answer and came no closer.

Before Dean could do or say anything more, Jason rammed him from the side, attempting a single leg takedown that Dean was able to defend, easily chopping the older, less experienced man down and driving him forward until Dean was in control. He heard Jason release a breathless gasp from the force of the hunter's weight landing on him. Dean tried to take advantage of that and spring away when he felt Brad's long arm snake its way around his neck. There was one moment of blind panic as forearm and bicep clamped on either side of his carotid arteries—employing no more pressure than it would take to squeeze an orange—and then—nothing.

Continue to Chapter 9

 
 
 
jpgr: SPN Dean readingjpgr on September 29th, 2013 11:43 pm (UTC)
I smile every time I see a chapter from you. Even though I've read it, I'm still pleased to see each post!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 30th, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC)
That's a two-way street, hon, because you always put a smile on my face, too. You are the sweetest thing in the world. Thank you so much, Deb.

Kat
frostfalconfrostfalcon on September 30th, 2013 02:05 pm (UTC)
It looks like Dean is in a heap of trouble now... What a place to leave us hanging.... I can't wait for the next part.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 30th, 2013 08:19 pm (UTC)
Evil cliffies. Sad part is that this chapter and the next one were written as one chapter, but it got too long...so I had to cut it in half. Heh. Big meanie me for chopping it off here, huh?

Thanks so much for the comment, frostfalcon!

Kat
arliss: highway to hellarliss on September 30th, 2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
Write faster, dammit! *G*
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 30th, 2013 08:20 pm (UTC)
It's all written...I'm just a ruthlessly slow poster. ;) In any case...new chappie coming soon!

Thanks so much!

Kat
Smitty 'Jaws' McPatchington, Esq.: Driver Picks the Musicalec_towser on September 30th, 2013 09:23 pm (UTC)
...oh my. This just gets worse and worse for Dean, doesn't it? :O
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 30th, 2013 11:00 pm (UTC)
Let's just say that his situation is about to get very...um...HEATED. /gulp. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Poor Dean! He needs help soon!

Thanks so much for the comment!

Kat
lidia1991_anlidia1991_an on October 1st, 2013 04:40 am (UTC)


You're a bad girl! Can't wait for the next chapter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 1st, 2013 03:27 pm (UTC)
Hah...I know...my mama didn't raise me right! Bad Kat...BAD Kat...

;)

Kat
stazzijenstazzijen on October 1st, 2013 03:07 pm (UTC)
Nooo...that's a cliffhanger right there. I was in the moment then, right there with Dean trying to get away.

I love that it was the threat to his car that brought him back to reality.

You wicked person you. Love it.

Roll on Thursday

Jen x
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 1st, 2013 03:29 pm (UTC)
Hah! Sad thing is that I never meant to stop there. This chapter and chapter 9 were written as ONE chapter...but when it got to be about 13k words, I figured it was time to break it into two. So you can blame having to stop at that moment on my overly long-windedness. LOL.

Yes...Baby to the rescue. We all knew SHE would have Dean's back no matter what. Too bad she won't be in the Kiln with him.

Thanks for the comment, Jen!

Kat
volta1228: Dean - Huntingvolta1228 on October 2nd, 2013 04:41 am (UTC)
Ahhh! Leaving us hanging here is just plain cruel... CRUEL I tell you!

I have to say, I just adore that the thought of selling the Impala was what finally shocked him into seeing the truth and how deep in it he's gotten himself. What a perfect way for Dean to "see the light", LOL!

Can't wait for the next chapter!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 2nd, 2013 05:09 am (UTC)
Scarlett!

Some authors are just plain mean-spirited! Mwahaha! /halo

Oh yes, right? I think that the Impala is the ONE relationship that Dean has that is a 100% good in his life. There is not baggage with Baby...there is no power struggles, no betrayals or misunderstandings. She is always there for hm, so I liked that she was able to ground him...even if it was a wee bit too late. (I blame the author for that one, too! Grar!)

Thanks so much for the comment! /big squishy hugs

Kat

maguiemaguie on October 9th, 2013 07:30 pm (UTC)
I love that Mei is still there, trying to rescue her husband,,

"What the hell are you talking about? I'm not selling my car," that´s the real Dean

"This couldn't happen. What the hell had he been thinking? Some kind of serious mojo had to be at work here" Dean running,,,,, I think it was too late,

Oh those adepts, using the technics Dean tought them for to figth better, used against him
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 9th, 2013 09:57 pm (UTC)
Mei is one tenacious woman. We haven't seen the last of her...not by a long way. :)

Yeah...poor Dean, being a team-player and passing on his knowledge and expertise only to have it used against him. Winchester luck, that. Heh. :)

Thanks for the comment, Maguie.

kat
JJ1564jj1564 on October 12th, 2013 11:06 pm (UTC)
Oh no he was so close to escaping and now it seems things are going to get very bad for Dean! I didn't think he would go down without a fight & as others have said I loved the fact that it was the threat to his Baby that made him see sense!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 13th, 2013 02:02 am (UTC)
Yes, it is both tragic and endearing that baby would be the one to get through to Dean. Too bad it was a little too late. This is not going to be Dean's day...

Thanks jj! I appreciate it!

Kat
serendip50: dean hands gun by nito_punkserendip50 on October 21st, 2013 04:57 pm (UTC)
Oh boy...using Dean's own fighting skills against him...how fitting and totally exasperating not to mention uncouth!....haha.

Although Dean was questioning his decision to stay in the commune, exhibiting signs of unease and rebelliousness through his personal attachments it was only logical that the Impala (the one constant, even though out the show) in his life, should be the one possession that brings him back to his senses.

AH...NO...they have him now. That 'cataclysmic' fire'y kiln (kilns are synonymous with heat and fire) experience will surely sink the nail unfailingly into the coffin, so to speak. Hell fire on earth I imagine after visualising Jason's frazzled emergence. Poor Dean!

PS I'm trying to savour this glorious story whilst it last....However, I fear the end will come all too soon. I love the lengthier stories they are always so much more satisfying and profound and this one and the previous read.... So reminiscent of the older beloved fics I enjoyed so much. Thanks.




sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 21st, 2013 07:52 pm (UTC)
Yes, I saw the Impala in the same way that you did. Baby is the ONE thing in all of Dean's life that is...I dunno..."perfect". There is no "baggage" with her. She's never let him down. She's always been there his whole life. He has associated almost everything that is good and right in his life with HER...so of course the Impala would pull him back when pulling him back was still possible. Unfortunately, it was just a little too late, and Dean was not able to escape the net that had already been cast. Poor thing.

I love longer stories, too. You might my other long story, Dust Devils. It's my personal favorite story of mine...one that really crawled under my skin. I put my whole heart and soul into it, that's for sure. Though it does have a time-travel/amnesia trope...which is not to everyone's liking. But having read your comments here, it may very well be something you'd like. It is another story where I play with the idea of Dean's need for "family". It definitely appeals more to mature readers, so you might like it.

In any case...you still have several chapters of this story to read, so you keep enjoying them. And thank you SO much for your comments!

/hugs

Kat
serendip50serendip50 on October 21st, 2013 08:59 pm (UTC)
Dust Devils
Thanks for the rec. I had actually already downloaded that particular story to my kindle a little while back and started to read but couldn't seem to get into it. I'm not a fan of amnesia or time-travel in spn genre....I also have an aversion to children in fiction. I find that they tend to take over and sometimes dominate the scenes, or that's been my experience.
I also don't really enjoy reading hunt based stories ie canonistic type stories. I know I'm picky...lol...though I think I'm just a discerning reader... I like what I like and a story has to grab me from the onset or I become distracted and easily bored.
The present one JGDO is different because although the leader of the cult is a spn entity the basis of the story is not a hunt to save ppl per se but Dean's vulnerability stemming from his family ties and consequently indoctrination into a cult, the ramifications of that fall and I imagine, his eventual deprogramming.

I definitely like your writing style the vibrancy of your characters the detail and emotional depth your stories convey, so I won't say I absolutely won't give it another shot. However, it would be helpful if you could give a me more lengthy/detailed summary about the story. For instance, is Sam working with Dean together or is Dean on his own through most of the fic? This is important because I generally like the h/c, recovery etc to come from John, Sam, both or at a push Bobby. If the story is heavily involved or dialogue'd through unknown characters then I quickly loose interest.

I will definitely look out for more of your stories in the future.

sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 21st, 2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Dust Devils
Yep, yep...I totally get you. There are lots of authors who I practically WORSHIP, but that doesn't mean that every single story that they write will be a good fit for ME. Every story I've written is a story that *I* would read. But I completely understand that not every person will have the EXACT same taste that I do. Hell, I've had people for whom Dust Devils is their favorite fanfic, but who didn't make it through JGDO because it made them too uncomfortable or they found the cult aspects too creepy or because they just don't like brainwashed!Dean. So it works both ways. With every story that I write I keep some readers...lose others...and find a whole new audience for whom the present story resonates. Makes perfect sense. It's an ever shifting readership.

I will say...just to make it clear about the OC's in Dust Devils that they are NOT the focus of the story. They are supporting characters in DEAN's adventure...and not the other way around. The beginning is tricky since the OC's carry the burden of the POV because both Sam and Dean are incapacitated. This passes and Dean and Sam take over the POV throughout the rest of the story with just a few lapses here or there as needed.

Sam and Dean are separated somewhat in the story (Sam in the present, working to get Dean back and Dean in the past) for about 2/3 of it, though the first half of the story is interspersed with flashbacks of the two working together and telling the story of how Dean got thrown back in time. So they are together in that respect, and they're together for the last few chapters.

The "hunt" is about a vengeful spirit...but the STORY is about Dean's love for Sam and his need for family. It's not about a little girl; though, to be fair...the little girl is a major OC. Though, again, I've had some reviews where people have said "I normally HATE children in stories...but I love this one". Then AGAIN...that's a person for whom the character worked. I'm sure there are plenty for whom it didn't work...they just didn't tell me so. Heh.

So, bottom line...it's totally up to you. From reading your comments, I would THINK that the story would be a much better fit than you think it is...though I confess, I only know you from your cogent writing.

Give it another go if you are ever lacking for a good thick story to read. The first three chapters are OC heavy because Dean is unconscious...after that, though...it'll be Dean's POV almost exclusively...and it'll be Dean's story. Get past that, and you MAY find you like it. If not...no harm no foul at all. :)
serendip50: beautiful deanserendip50 on October 21st, 2013 10:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Dust Devils
Thank you for your comprehensive reply. I have a couple of stories on the go atm but when they are finished I may consider giving DD another try, if only because of your well founded confidence in thinking it could well be my kind of story:). I'm also quite curious myself....haha.


sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 21st, 2013 11:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Dust Devils
Excellent. You let me know if I won you over. :) Oh...and just so you know...Dust Devils is 100% canon compliant. It's just a straight-forward case fic that went a bit sideways (okay...a LOT sideways). It's not AU or anything like that. It's just a hunt for a simple vengeful spirit that got out of hand.

aerynsun5: KAZ 2Y5aerynsun5 on October 23rd, 2013 05:12 am (UTC)
Ooo, I'm all excited now, but the kittiez want to climb all over me and push my head so I can't read. Evil kittiez! Evil!Dumb Father! He should have known better than to try and take Baby away.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 23rd, 2013 05:26 am (UTC)
Mine likes to roll around on her back ON my keyboard...and if I try to type around her...she just head-butts my hand until I stop and pet her. ;) Got to love 'em!

Thanks much for the kitty-comment. :)

Kat