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02 October 2013 @ 08:04 pm
jai guru deva om: Within You and Without You (chapter 9)  

Dean was warm and comfortable, tranquil—mellow.


A/N: Emmessann, Tifaching, NongPradu all worked their beta magic upon this chapter—all of them incredible artists in their own rights. I also want to thank Sue, Deb, Amanda, Ginger, and Penny for sticking with me throughout this story. Their insights and guidance made me a better writer.

Jai Guru Deva Om

Chapter Nine
Within You and Without You

**ॐ**

Dean was warm and comfortable, tranquil—mellow. He said the word aloud, rolling it around and around his mouth like a cherry stem, his clumsy tongue overreaching and spilling out past his lips.

"Mellowwww. Mehhhhhllowwwwww. Soooo lowwww," he snickered, making his voice dip as close to the bass-range as he could get. He laughed again. Nothing disturbed him, not the inky darkness, not the lack of sound beyond his own voice, not even the fact that he was flat on his back with all four limbs spread eagle, each bound to what felt like thick iron spikes on the floor. It was all good. Perfect. Warm. And funny as shit.

"Swing lowwwwwwww," he lilted, playing with his lower register and snorting at the thigh-slappingly comic results. He blinked his eyes a few times, still amused, glancing about to see if he could determine whether it was dark in the room or whether he was blind.

"Woul' sssuck so hard t'be blind," he admitted, nodding his head sagely.

After looking around for a moment, testing his sight, he decided the results were inconclusive, and he cleared his throat.

"Incloncul…inclonclonsoosive," he snorted. There was a flash in his brain and he suddenly remembered Tim standing in the forest with a syringe in his hand.

"Aw, Tim-T'mminny-Tim, you th'man, Tim-tam!" At least his hearing was intact, which, when he thought about it, was also really, really fucking funny, and he laughed and laughed and laughed, pulling languidly on the leather bands that pinned him to the floor. The tight grips stretched him to the cusp of discomfort, any tighter and his muscles and joints would be in agony. Pivoting his wrists around, he knew there'd be no getting out of the thick cuffs. He wasn't going anywhere. Hysterical.

As he lay there chuckling, the sound of chanting came over an intercom, and he stopped chittering to himself, sucking in a breath, listening, intent as a squirrel with an acorn twitching at a rustle in the grass. Father's molten power surged through him like a brushfire in a drought, filling him with awe, urging him to join in the chant.

"Ohhhhh, sneaky Father," he tsked with a grin. "You made me loooove youuuu. I din'nint wanna do it—I din'nint wanna do it!" he sang and then laughed. The compulsion to chant grew so strong that he found himself chanting along without having made a conscious decision to do so. It felt good—better than good—it felt great. He chanted, because it's what he always did. Because it was rote. Because it was Father's wish. Because he never disappointed the ones he loved. He gave Father his devotion and praise, chanting until he lost all sense of space and time.

When he came back to himself he was sweaty and nauseous. The room was now sauna-hot, and trickles of sweat meandered down his neck and into his ears. He crooked his head so that he could rub his ear against his shoulder and became hyper aware of his aching limbs, stretched and stressed for what must have been several hours while he chanted. Arching his back, he realized, for the first lucid time, that he was bound, hand and foot.

"Th'fuck?"

His head throbbed and pulsed, and his tongue felt hangover-thick, pasty and dry as old leather. Bits and pieces of memory surfaced, and he recalled he'd been running, trying to get to the river for some reason. Jason and Brad had been there, and Tim—Tim with the needle, some others, too, but he could no longer remember what the fuss had been about. His head hurt too much to concentrate; his arms and legs were aching and his insides felt empty. And it was dark; it was too damn dark.

Dean tried to reach out to The Kindred, sending out fingers of energy to them and found that they weren't there. There was no transfer, no communication, no symbiosis, and he began to panic. He was alone.

"Whass goinn'non?" he asked aloud. "Heyyyyy! Wh'is everyone?" he called out again when he got no response, inner or outer.

He yanked against his bonds. "Sonabish!" he growled. Someone threw a metallic lever, and the room was filled with an electric hum as a red, emergency light flickered on somewhere above him. Nope, not blind.

Lifting his head with effort, he saw that he was in a small room or cell made of iron or steel, perhaps, 10'x10' at most. The only objects in the room were the four spikes that held him fast. He gave no more thought to it, however, when a hatchway opened in the smooth wall, swinging back with an echoing bang as a tall figure entered.

"Wass happ—" Words clotted in Dean's throat as the newcomer kneeled down before him, setting a cup next to Dean's head as he worked to loosen the leather restraints on his wrists. Dean focused and refocused, squinting several times, unable to believe his eyes. "Sam?"

"Hold still, big brother," Sam said as he continued to work.

"Sammy?" Dean said again, his breath coming in short gusts. "What the hell? What—where are we?"

Sam finished unhooking Dean's hands and helped him into a sitting position, leaving his legs secured. He grabbed the cup and held it to Dean's lips. "Drink up first. You're dehydrated." Dean lifted his unfeeling hands up to the cup and tried to grip it in his fists it as he gulped down the liquid. The heat in the room had wrung him out and he couldn't swallow fast enough.

"Easy," Sam said, rubbing his back.

The liquid was thick and tasted like licorice, but it was wet and Dean pressed the empty cup toward Sam, pleading. "More?"

"Not yet," Sam said. A serene smile played across his lips and he settled down, sitting cross-legged in front of Dean. "Chant with me, Dean."

Dean looked at him, uncomprehending. "What?"

"Chant with me." Sam's face was smooth and placid.

"But…" Dean squinted at Sam. "Where is everyone? Wha's happening? Sam?"

"I'm here to help you through your Ordeal," he said. "You trust me, don't you?"

"How'd y'get here?"

Sam laughed and wiggled his eyebrows. "Magic," he said. When Dean remained tense, he rolled his eyes. "I took a plane, dude. How'd you think I got here?"

Dean's brows tilted and he shook his head. "I don't understa—"

"Father called and asked for my help. You're being your typical stubborn self, I see. You need to give Father complete access, Dean. You've been holding back, so here I am. We're going to get this thing done, yeah? I'll be right here with you."

"You comin', too?" Dean asked, his eyes wide and dazed.

Sam smiled at him. "Quit talking and start chanting, slacker. I'm going to teach you a new mantra, okay?"

"Okay, Sammy."

"Father is life. Come on, Dean. I'm not doing this for my health. Now, say it. Father is life"

"Father is life."

"Perfect, Dean. Father is love."

"Father is love."

"That's right, big brother. Father is the Keeper."

"Father is the Keeper."

"Praise him, Dean. Thank you, Father."

"Thank you, Father."

"Give more. I trust Father with my life."

"I trust Father with my life."

"Open fully. Don't think. Don't resist. I trust Father with my heart."

"I trust Father with my heart."

"Deny your ego. I trust Father with my soul."

"I trust Father with my soul."

"You're doing great, Dean. You're almost there. I deny my family."

"I deny my—" Dean faltered. "Sammy?"

"Deny me, Dean."

"Nuhh," Dean snorted out a short croaking laugh, half incredulous, half frightened.

"You gotta do this. Deny me, Dean. Deny me and be free."

"Can't," Dean said without hesitation. "Can't. Won't."

Sam sighed. He reached over to Dean and peeled back his eyelid, checking his pupils. Dean tried to pull away.

"Quit it," Dean fussed.

"It's okay, Dean. We have time. Don't worry about it. Do the regular chant with me, then. We'll just work on opening your connection to Father for now."

Dean regarded him with numb fascination. "Let's go, Sammy. I wanna go."

"No you don't. Not really. You're happy here. See, deep down you need what these people want to give you: acceptance, respect, love, loyalty. They want you, Dean, and you need to be wanted. So, come on and chant with me, you don't have to say the new verse yet. Look," he said, pointing at himself. "I'm chanting, too. Don't you want to show me how good it feels? I want to learn. Teach me, big brother. Please? For me?"

That Dean could do. He began chanting, tentative and cautious at first but then their voices fell into a rhythm, achieving a perfect syncopation, two voices becoming one. Dean lost himself in Sam's eyes, black and slick, chiseled from obsidian with spinning, red pupils.

The chanting went on until the red light in the room warped and dripped down the walls like blood.

"That's it. The ayahuasca is doin' its thing. There we go," Sam beamed, pressing against Dean's chest until he lay flat again. He pulled Dean's arms out to either side, tighter than they were before, fastening the grips until his muscles burned.

Dean's thoughts weltered as Sam stroked his face and caressed his head, strands of Father's power penetrating wherever Sam touched. His voice seemed far away; yet, the colored vapor issuing from Sam's mouth as he spoke mesmerized Dean. Sam pressed his face so close to Dean's that he felt the heat of his brother's rainbow breath on his cheek. "Deny me, Dean. Let me go and Father and The Kindred will be yours forever."

"Whuuhnn nuhh, Sammy. Won' do that t'ya. Woul' never. Don' think that, ‘k Sammy?" Dean said, shaking his head from side to side. A prism of colors spilled into the air with the motion, creating a psychedelic soup that eddied in the air around him. Dean had to squint to see Sam's face.

"The Kindred want you. They love you. Do you like being cut off from them like this, man?"

"Miss ‘em," Dean admitted. He felt empty and hollow without their presence, and he realized how cut off and alone he was. It was devastating, but a choice between The Kindred and Sam was a non-choice.

"You're going to deny me, Dean. You're going to let me go," Sam said.

"Won't," Dean said, his eyes filling with tears.

Sam smoothed Dean's hair and kissed his forehead. "You will. But for now, you spend some time alone, think things through. I'll be back in the morning." He stood up and smiled. "You're doing great, Dean. You're going to make a beautiful Adept. Father's so pleased."

"Not gonna deny you!" Dean shouted as the door swung closed behind Sam. The light went off and an overwhelming sense of isolation descended. There was nothing, no one—no Sam, no Kindred, no Father. He was hellishly alone. Dean threw his head back and wept until he forgot what he was crying about, and after some hours he found himself begging for Father's help and guidance—anything to fill the void inside of him. The desolation was too much. Without Sam, without The Kindred, his teacher was the only spark of light in the blackness, and he felt Father's consoling power gush into him, soothing and cradling him. When all others fail you, I will be there. The words came to him, and the Disciple took solace and comfort from them as he floated in the sage's grace. Father would make things right.

To whom do you belong, Disciple? Father's voice resonated in his head, asking Dean to respond as The Kindred had been taught to respond to this question.

"To you Father," Dean spoke the common affirmation. "My body is your body. My will is your will. My soul is your soul."

And your brother, Sam? Father asked.

Dean hesitated. "I can't give him up, Father. I won't."

You can and you will, my child. I promise I will save you from your ego.

**ॐ**

There was no waking, because there was no sleep—ever. Dean was past exhausted, but whenever he nodded off, the chanting would start and he'd be compelled to participate. If he resisted, Sam would come in and beg him to chant with him. If he still resisted he would feel Father's command, at times angry and terrible, swirl through him. What had once been nurturing and soothing, was now ruthless and demanding, twisting his insides into knots of agony, the pain penetrating every atom until logic and rational thought left him and compliance was his only option. With each occurrence, Father would demand more from him, requiring that Dean yield more of his own will before he'd be given a reprieve.

Stretched too far for too long, his arms and legs no longer had any feeling. He had no way to gauge how much time had passed, but it was enough that'd he'd been forced to release his bladder and bowels. Of course, between the naked heat and a lack of water or food, his output amounted to very little.

Sam had forced him to drink the nauseating licorice water three more times. Despite his insane thirst, Dean tried to refuse; he knew the water had ayahuasca in it, but Sam would press him, withholding comfort or kindness until he'd swallowed the whole cup. After that, his brother would stay with him and pet him until the hallucinations came and dragged him into the forsaken darkness where he cried bitterly. Sam would beg Dean to deny him, to give himself to Father, telling him how much The Kindred needed and wanted him, trying to convince him that all of his pain would be gone if he let go. Each request was more forceful than the last, and Sam grew angrier and more threatening. Dean wanted to see his brother more than anything, but the pressure exerted upon him was too much. His emotions were all over the place, and often times Dean would alternate between anguish and laughter as Sam lectured him in the shimmering heat. Sometimes Dean would beg his brother to take him away from the stifling room; other times his thoughts would marble to the point that he didn't know where he was and he'd babble nothing but nonsense. It didn't matter what he said or did or thought for forgot, Sam always asked the same thing of him, and it was the one thing that Dean could never give.

More time passed, and the red lights came on again. The electric buzz sounded like a million locusts to Dean's sensitive ears, and he winced, swallowing dryly. With a hollow bang, the door flew against the wall, and John Winchester strode through the hatch.

Torn between love and fear, Dean couldn't help but flinch away as the man knelt down in silence, setting the cup of water next to him. His father worked the wrist and ankle restraints, freeing him completely for the first time. John pulled his son's insensate body into a sitting position, holding the cup until Dean drank.

"All of it, Dean," John said, tipping the cup to Dean's lips when he tried to push it away. "Every drop." Dean consumed the last of the ayahuasca with slow, obedient swallows. Gathering his son into his arms, John lifted him and sat him in the corner, propping him up as he squatted next to him in deep contemplation.

"Dad? Get me out of here…please? Please, Dad?" Dean begged. He tried to lever himself up, but his arms and legs were nothing but pieces of tingling meat. John continued to regard him, saying nothing.

At last, the hunter let out a long, disappointed breath and tapped his son's chest. "Sam tells me you're wasting everyone's time, here." Dean bent his head, unable to speak. "That's not going to fly, Champ," he said. "What are you holding on for?"

Dean furrowed his brows, not comprehending how he could ask the question. "You and Sammy, Dad. Who else? I can't—I can't lose you." Dean's voice broke.

"Look at me, Dean." Dean obeyed, his eyes pleading. "You stay here with these people. Give yourself to Father. That's an order, you hear me?"

Dean's eyes kindled with defiance. "They want me to forget about you and Sam. I can't do that, Dad. You know I can't."

John shook his head. "You can. It's what's best for you and for us. Sam needs to live his own life, and I can't take you with me."

"Why not, Dad? Why not?"

John hesitated as if struggling with his answer. He closed his eyes and shuddered, his shoulders dropping. When he opened them, there was a dark judgment there. "Because you're weak, son. Because you'd get yourself or me or some innocent person killed. Because you're not cut out for this. You're not good enough."

"I can hunt, Dad. I can." Dean defended himself. "It's the only thing I can do."

"No, you can't. Look what happened on one simple salt and burn. You dropped the ball, Ace. You screwed up and nearly got yourself killed."

Dean tilted his face to John, his own hard-edged judgment there. "Woul'nt ‘a got hur' if—"

"If what, Dean," John said, seeming tired of the conversation.

"Maybe woul'nt ‘a got hur' if I had backup," he said obstinately.

"So this is all my fault?" John asked, his voice booming.

Dean sighed and shook his head back and forth. "Don' wann hun' alone. You always say hunn'in' is a—hunn'in is a job f'two. You said it."

"I can't trust you to have my back, Dean. So you need to stay here. If you're with Father, at least I know you'll be safe and happy. You may even do more good this way than you ever could as a hunter. Sam and I want you to let go, Dean. We can't be worrying about you. We have our own lives to live."

Dean reached out with senseless arms, trying to grip his father's jacket, but he missed, and they fell into his lap. His chest heaved as he tried again and missed again. "I can do better," he promised. "Don' leave me, Dad. Please. I'll try harder."

"No, Dean. It's over. I don't want you anymore. You get me, boy? We clear? You stay here. Become one with Father and allow his love to fill you. Let me go. Free me and free yourself. That's an order, Dean. I'm not going to tell you again, and you'd better goddamned obey me. Don't bother me anymore." John's eyes flickered and swirled into red points of light. "Now chant with me. Father will take away all your troubles. Give yourself to him."

John chanted a moment and paused, waiting for a grief-stricken Dean to pull himself together. He helped to situate the boy into a more secure sitting position since he had no strength to keep himself upright. The elder hunter put his hand under Dean's chin and lifted it until he established eye contact, and he went on chanting, nodding for Dean to do the same. A strong energy current gushed from John's calloused fingers into Dean, and the boy watched, mesmerized, as the elder hunter's brown eyes twisted and spun. They chanted together until the drugs took hold and he fell through world and into his lonely Hell where only Father could hear his tormented cries.

Dean'd often thought about Hell, imagined a vast lake of molten malice and liquid cruelty burning white hot and sloshing against crumbling, demented rock outcroppings. He'd imagined the souls of the damned ripped by its currents, howling in agony as their flesh was boiled from livid bones, the air thick with the putrid stench of their own eternal decay. But Dean's hell was nothing like that. There was no lake, no screams. Here there was nothing—no one. His hell was isolation and alienation from everyone and everything he loved. But it wasn't just finding himself in that vacuum, it was having been shoved there, having been tossed aside and purposefully set there—that was the hellish part. Dean's hell was rejection and abandonment made manifest—wheyish specters in the dark, clawing his flesh, rending his muscles, groping bony, unloving fingers around his neck and squeezing until insane wails of despair flew from his mouth.

"Help me, Father! Father, please don't abandon me! Please don't abandon me!"

Out of the dark Father's telepathic voice spoke to him again. To whom do you belong, Disciple?

Dean opened his eyes. He was back in The Kiln, the room hotter than ever. John was gone, and Dean was glad he didn't have to quiver under those cold, critical eyes any longer.

Father's voice came again. To whom do you belong, Disciple?

His tongue was too dry and swollen to speak, and he had to work what little saliva he had around his tongue. "To you Father," Dean choked out the words. "M'body s'yours. M'will s'yours. M'soul s'yours." He tried to uncrumple himself, but his arms wouldn't respond to his commands.

And your father?

Dean pursed his lips, trying to sort out the question, but it didn't make sense.

Father rephrased. And John Winchester?

"He doesn't want me anymore—never wanted me. Orders…orders…orders. Yessir! Sir! Yessir! Leff me orders to obey. Won' bother ‘im anymore," he said.

Do you deny him, Deciple?

Dean said nothing. He closed his eyes and nodded.

Say the words, my child. Speak it into existence.

A sharp pain hit his head and flowed through his body, like swallowing fire.

Say it.

"I deny him."

Deny whom? Say his name.

"I deny my father."

Yes, my beautiful child. And your brother?

"Sammy…" Dean said. "Leff ‘im a voice mail. He's gonna come gemme. Jus' waitin'. He'll be here. Can' give up on Sammy. Won't."

You can and you will. Not today, perhaps, but you are ever so close my child. I'm proud of you.

Dean smiled as his teacher's love and approval ran up and down his spine.

"Father." Dean said the word like a prayer.

**ॐ**

Dean didn't know what he was doing wrong or what his teacher wanted anymore, but he could tell that Father's patience was wearing thin. He couldn't string two thoughts together that made any sense, and thirst and the heat were like sentient beings, taking delight in his dry cries of agony. More than once Dean found himself scrabbling at the wall with tattered, broken nails, mindlessly trying to claw his way out. If he stopped chanting before Father released him, his insides twisted and his head pounded. Relief came only in submitting himself to Father's will.

There came a point when consciousness slipped away no matter how hard he fought the darkness, forcing Father to intervene, exerting his power to keep him awake. He'd also felt the sage heal him, preventing his kidneys from shutting down. And, though Sam still fed him ayahuasca, the hallucinations no longer ceased between doses. Visions chased each other incessantly across his inner and outer viewer. John never came back, but Sammy was often there, standing in the bloody light, watching him. Sam had long given up any pretense of kindness, taunting and mocking his fragile brother with hateful, cutting words.

"Goddamn it, Dean. I don't even want you in my life, you selfish bastard. Had to run away to Stanford just to get away from you."

"Don' say that, Sammy. Don't ever say that. I can make things right. I can," Dean murmured. "I'll make it up t'you."

"I don't want you to make it up to me, you dumb fuck! I want you to leave me alone. Jesus Christ, you have a good thing here, Dean, but you're too stupid, too stubborn, to just let go already. Give it up! Give yourself to Father."

"Can' abandon you, Sammy. Can' do it. Godda watch out for Sammy—look after my lil' brother. S'my job. Always…always…always m'job. Not gonna let y'down."

Rage and loathing radiated off of the younger man, and he got down on his hands and knees, his face twisting up in a snarl, inches away from Dean's. His eyes spun like red globes. "I don't want you. I hate you. You're nothing to me. Nothing!" Sam shouted.

Dean said nothing. He turned his head, playing itsy-bitsy-spider with his fingers on the wall, trying to make himself small enough to avoid Sam's anger.

"Do you hear me, Dean? I said I hate you!"

"It don' matter, Sammy. I'll always be here f'you."

Sam snorted and grabbed the amulet that hung around Dean's neck, twisting the leather band around his fingers and using it to pull Dean's face close to his. "Still wear this piece of crap? What for? Wasn't even meant for you. It was supposed to be Dad's. Hanging onto this regifted piece of junk, Dean, really? You're pathetic!" Dean turned his head away, saying nothing.

Sam shoved his face closer. "Dad loves me more than you. He always loved me more."

Dean snorted, turning to Sam and rolling his eyes. "I know. S'no-brainer. I know that."

"The night I left for Stanford was one of the best nights of my life. Did you know that Dad and I cooked up that whole fucking argument just so that we could both dump your ass? We deserve Oscars, the both of us. Hell, Dean…Dad and me…we see each other all the time, and, man, do we ever laugh about how we fooled you."

The room was spinning, and Sam's face stretched longer and longer, his eyes dripping down his face like angry globs of paint. "Don' say that, Sammy. Don'. Please."

"We don't want you anymore, Dean!" Sam shouted in his face. Dean turned away. He hated watching Sam's face melt like that. He continued to pick at the wall.

Sam didn't stop for breath. "We don't fucking want you! We don't love you! Do you hear me? Why are you holding on?"

Dean turned to Sam. "Because I still love you. You think I'd ‘bandon you jus' ‘cause there's nothin' in it f'me?"

Exasperated, Sam shoved the cup of tea to Dean's lips, spilling some down his front. "Drink it all. I'm getting really tired of waiting, Dean." A snake-like tail slipped out from behind Sam and slithered its way around Dean's neck, pulling him close. "I'm getting hungry, and you need to let go. I will feast, Disciple. I will not be denied."

"Won' deny you, Sammy. I promise." Dean pawed at his brother. Sam released him with a shove.

The young man crouched, lowering and seething, threading his fingers through his hair, trying to figure some new angle, perhaps. He cracked his knuckles and sighed. "Chant with me." The ever-present red light clicked off, replaced by a flickering strobe light that pierced Dean's retinas and confused his brain. "Chant with me brother. Find joy and happiness and peace in Father's will. It's everything you ever wanted."

"S'everythin' I ever wan'ned? " Dean said, blowing out a disgruntled breath, his body twitching and spasming with the flickering light. "All I ever wan'ned was you ‘n dad, but I could nev'r have that, now could I? Tha' was always too much t'ask." Dean turned his head away, wounded and sulky. "Always too much t'ask," he whispered to himself.

"Don't worry about that now. Just chant with me. Do it for me, Dean." Sam snapped his fingers in front of Dean's meandering eyes. "Do it for me."

"Sammy?"

"Chant for me."

Dean nodded and they chanted together until the drugs kicked in and Sam left, slamming the door with a hollow, sepulchral bang, leaving Dean alone. The sense of separateness was worse than anything he'd yet experienced, and Dean could only release his despair in wracking, tearless sobs, for there was no moisture in his shriveled, broken body. Father's voice filtered down into Hell and made a passing glance of comfort and Dean followed him compulsively, floating up into the blinking lights. Opening his eyes, he looked up and saw a robed figure shining in the strobe flashes, offering solace and love. The Disciple crawled and slavishly curled himself at the foot of his teacher, draping flaccid arms around Father's ankles, basking in his grace.

To whom do you belong, Disciple?

"To you Father—body, will and soul."

And your brother, Sam?

"I'll keep ‘im safe. Won' let anythin' hurt him. I promise."

Father clenched his teeth, tensed and angry, but then brightened as a new thought occurred to him. His stance relaxed and a smile spread across his face as he eyed his Disciple. Crouching down, he pet the boy. "Yes. Yes of course. How silly of me to have not seen it. Of course you'll keep him safe." His smile widened in relief. "Soon we will be celebrating at the Sacred Haoma Ceremony, Disciple. Soon you shall know peace."

**ॐ**

He was in a crucible, an unsustainable hellish oven, and the iron floor beneath him was as hot as a griddle. Dean lay babbling in a pool of red light as Father's power flowed through him, buoying him enough to withstand the assault and keep him alive but making no attempts to ease the pain. The hallucinations from the ayahuasca were receding, but his thoughts were logjammed and incoherent. His insides twisted and chanting no longer helped. He tried to give praise and thanks, but the words came out as random gibberish.

"Father love love help yours me love help life keep yours Father me me help god love Sam help!"

He tried his best, hoping that Father would forgive him and take away his agony. The room echoed with his unintelligible moans and disordered, Tourette-like exclamations of praise. So consumed, he didn't notice when the bloated, eight-armed creature squeezed through the door, dragging a beaten and bloodied Sam by the scruff.

It took a moment for reality to stitch itself together while Dean gasped out garbled devotionals, watching the beast haul Sam up by his hair and into a sitting position. The boy was barely conscious.

Dean stopped chanting and hoovered in a mouthful of oven-baked air. "S'mmy!" he cried out on the exhale. He attempted to crawl to his brother, but his legs and arms were useless, and he could only twitch and shimmy like a fish on the floor of a boat. The tail of the beast groped toward Dean, latching onto his tunic and pulling him close.

"Dean." Sam's voice was broken and torn. "God…Dean!"

"M'here," Dean said, reaching out, trying to grab hold of his brother. The beast's insectile eyes bulged and swirled brown to red. It used several arms to pry the brothers apart and hold them in place, easing its swollen body between them, a thick, charnel odor wafting from it. Dean felt the urgent need to disgorge when the thing lifted a sour fold of its belly and scratched at the sallow skin with one of its free hands. The creature settled and looked from Sam to Dean.

"I'll kill him, Disciple. I'll snap him like a twig, right here—right now," the creature said telepathically.

"Don't Dean. God, just, Dean—help—just god, don't listen to it. Let me die…" Sam let out an agonized wheeze as the creature clamped two of its hands on his throat. "Deeeaan!"

Anger and adrenaline surged through Dean, but there was no strength left; all he could do was flap his arms around like a toddler. The creature held him in place with just a few hands.

"Ah-ah," the beast waggled a finger at Dean, scolding him. The pressure on Sam's neck did not decrease, but the monster paused, adding no more while it studied Dean, watching him struggle and seethe in its grasp.

"Sam's in a lot of pain," the thing said, demonstrating by squeezing the younger hunter. Sam's eyes went wide and he gasped out a strangled breath.

"Don't!" Dean shuddered, trying to fight the hands holding him.

"I shall make you a deal, Disciple. Give yourself to Father. Deny your brother. Release Sam from your mind and soul, and I will let him live."

"You sonnabitch! Get yer han's off ‘im!" Dean slurred.

"Will you yield to me?"

Sam fought wildly, his lips turning dark in the red light. "Don't Dean!"

"Don' hurt ‘im!" Dean pled.

"Do you yield?"

"How do I know you won' kill ‘im, too?" Dean wavered.

"You have my word. He will live, unhindered, free, happy, untouched by my magnificence." The creature gave Dean a seedy, black-tar smile and he felt his organs twisting and tightening. Dean gasped out, as did Sam, his brother suffering, no doubt, the same treatment. "Let go. Truly let go. Let Father in and Sam will be free and healthy for the rest of his life. Deny him to protect him, Dean. If you do not, I will feast on him in front of you." The monster's lips twitched into a wet, drooling smile, teeth steel sharp and glinting even in the red light. Its eyes coiled and pooled much like Father's. As it turned to Sam, an ungodly light emanated from the creature, and Sam's body responded in kind, his own soul-light shining through his skin and orifices as the monster started to vacuum the light into itself. Sam screamed out in pure misery and his body writhed in the creature's grasp.

"No!" Dean struggled, trying to reach his brother. "No, please! I'll do whatever you want."

The creature stopped and twisted his head, mantis-like, cocking a red eye at Dean. "You will deny him and commit yourself to Father?"

Sam shook his head. "No, Dean. Don't do it. Please just let me die. Let me go."

Dean swallowed and released a wasted, spent breath. "Never, Sammy," he said. He turned to the creature. "I'll give myself to Father. Anything. Just don't hurt him."

The creature released Sam, and the young hunter fell to the ground, moaning, begging his brother not to do it. All eight arms grasped Dean and held him in place. "Open yourself to Father, Disciple," the thing said, its eyes twisting and spinning. "Let go."

Dean took one more look at Sam then closed his eyes, sensing Father's power pooling and gathering at the dam he'd constructed in his soul to keep the teacher's influence from overwhelming him. He repeated the words he'd been chanting for nearly two months, as slow and clear as he could. This time, however, he spoke them not as an affirmation but as an incantation, a mandate giving Father all that he'd asked of him.

"Father, I am yours to mold, to fill, to keep. My soul, my will, my life is yours. I place no other before you. I am yours."

"I need more, Disciple. Say the words and make it real."

"I deny—" Dean hesitated still.

"Say it and he will live."

Sam cried out in pain as Father's power assaulted him.

"Say it, Dean."

"I deny my brother. I deny Sam," he said at last, the words ripped from him by Sam's screams of agony.

"Yes, my beautiful child. Yes."

The dam burst, and Father's energy and essence flooded into him with the force of a fiery tsunami. It was too much, too fast, and Dean impulsively fought against it, an instinctual urge to protect himself. He could hear Sam begging and crying out to him, and he leveled out, shoving away his human inclination for self-preservation, remembering what was at stake. He moved aside, allowing the liquid fire to sluice onward, burning his soul, pushing everything dear to him to the far corners of his mind, all of his wants, likes, desires, attachments, hopes—and all of his loves—father, brother, car, music, memories of sunlit mornings with a naked girl's head bobbing under his sheets, pool cues and poker games, salt and gunpowder, whiskey and burgers and fries and pie—everything was compressed and locked away. His cares and fears, reservations and suspicions, too, evaporated like ether, and he no longer begrudged Father's manipulation. He welcomed it, giving in to that small nugget of himself that had wanted all that Father promised, that part of him that craved belonging and kinship.

Father's voice was strong and musical and vibrated throughout his body and mind as he shackled Dean's will and bound it tight. Another wave of potent magic filled and stiffened Dean's spine and radiated outward, replacing his pain with euphoria, his anxiety and awe.

With one final molten surge, Father's power compelled him, and Dean's awareness of events were seamlessly overwritten, smelting his perceptions, welding his memories into something new. He remembered that John had come to him in the dark. Recalled how the man had beaten him, had spoken to him cruelly until Father had spirited him away, saving Dean from his abuser, wiping his tears and tending his wounds. Father had then guided him through the process of letting go of Sam, showing Dean how both brothers needed to be on separate spiritual paths. As soon as his mind accepted that truth, his pain had ceased entirely, and his heart and soul had filled with Father's love. Soon Dean remembered the entire Ordeal as a transcendent experience, an exquisite melding of his will and purpose with Father's, the sage guided him, showing him absolute mercy and grace. The flow became an exchange, Dean giving Father his unreserved obedience, love and devotion in return for such noble treatment.

When Dean's lashes fluttered open, Sam shimmered and vanished like a Glamour in sunlight, but Dean hardly noticed. He had eyes only for his guru. The student kneeled before his teacher. Father's expression was covetous and hungry, but he radiated approval and pride. His laughter fell on Dean like raindrops on dead earth. The Disciple bowed down, pressing his lips to Father's feet, reverently kissing each in turn.

To whom do you belong, Disciple? Father's voice resonated in his head.

"To you Father—everything that I am."

And your family?

Dean bent in and kissed his feet again. Leaning back, Dean gazed into the spirals of Father's eyes. "I have no family but The Kindred and you, Father," he said.

Father smiled like a dragon counting its treasure. Well done, my son. Your Ordeal is over.

Continue to Chapter 10

 
 
 
Smitty 'Jaws' McPatchington, Esq.: Too Much Infoalec_towser on October 3rd, 2013 03:42 pm (UTC)
Ahhhh! No! Dean! D: He's almost got your soul, now.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 4th, 2013 02:33 am (UTC)
Right?! Dean needs a ticket on the deprogramming express, like now!

Kat
chokouseichokousei on October 3rd, 2013 04:09 pm (UTC)
Oh....No.... Someone must come and save Dean. I almost believed in it was Dad.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 4th, 2013 02:35 am (UTC)
Father was playing dirty, wasn't he? Dean could really use his dad...his real dad...right about now. If ever there was a time for John Winchester to go all "ruthless hunter"...now's the time!

Thanks for the comment, chokousei!

Kat
lidia1991_anlidia1991_an on October 3rd, 2013 06:49 pm (UTC)

So much pain,oh Dean!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 4th, 2013 02:37 am (UTC)
Yeaaaahh...he's not in a very good position. Our poor boy...

Kat
inanna_maat: Magiainanna_maat on October 3rd, 2013 09:43 pm (UTC)
OH-MY-FU-CKING-GOD

Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeean *sobs*
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 4th, 2013 02:38 am (UTC)
Very well stated. I couldn't have put it better myself.

Hang tight, though...I sense a change in the air coming...

Thanks inanna!

Kat
maguiemaguie on October 9th, 2013 07:43 pm (UTC)
Oh noo!

we need Sam and Dad and Bobby, stat!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 9th, 2013 09:59 pm (UTC)
Ohhhh yes! And you are so, so right...we really do need a Winchester or two to back up this poor boy. Hope the cavalry arrives SOON!

:)

Kat
JJ1564jj1564 on October 12th, 2013 11:32 pm (UTC)
That was deliciously painful! I hated Father for using Sam and John to torment Dean and I loved Dean for holding out for as long as he did, bless him.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 13th, 2013 02:05 am (UTC)
Poor Dean would have stayed in that hell forever if Father had posed no threat to Sam. It was the only thing that would do it. Very cruel (and shrewd) of Father to use Dean's love to break him. Makes me wonder exactly how Alastair broke Dean in hell.../shudder!

Thanks again, jj! Very, VERY sweet of you to leave all these comments!

Kat
serendip50: dean lying face downserendip50 on October 21st, 2013 07:14 pm (UTC)
Dear God that was a horrifically grueling Ordeal!

Playing on Dean's weakness was the only way he would ever comply. The constant use of familial names is at once a symbolic distraction but also makes Dean's passage into total compliance much more achievable.

Especially traumatising, and I must add difficult for me to read, were John and Sam's hurtful, rejecting words so easily adaptable to this situation....but still Dean held strong and defiant until Sam was used as bait. Sam is definitely Dean's Achilles Heal. The boys devotion is totally and fatally unconditional...much like a fathers love. It is heartbreaking to read. But such beautifully compelling prose.
(I would hazard Dean's ultimately flawed devotion will get him dead - in canon - if the writers are brave and skilled enough to go there).

What a skilled writer you are to send me sailing off with Dean into a world of psychedelic mindless high...lol. The text was riveting and the hallucinogenic high was chaotic and conveyed adeptly through the nonsensical and disrupted prose.

I couldn't help but wonder at the disturbing parallels of this Father to God. The healing powers his seemingly energizing words and twisted compassionate love...helping but not truly helping. Answering Dean's prayers but with no real substance just pretense and lies, hope meant to pacify and train but never aid. A horrific unknown nightmare that sustains momentarily, festering subduing... but eventually burns to ashes. He is not a father but some beastly Devil!

Poor Dean....Oh well, I will take comfort in the knowledge that a kiln may mold and make solid....but the result is not unbreakable:).

Thanks for another splendid chapter!

sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 21st, 2013 07:59 pm (UTC)
You know, when I started to write this chapter I THOUGHT that "Sam" and "John" being mean to Dean and telling him that they didn't love him would be enough to break him. I really did. I began to grow just as frustrated as "Father" in this chapter as I read and realized that there was NO way that Dean would break simply because of that. So I had to really think about it and only after much consideration did I realize HOW and WHY he broke. Funny how writing goes sometimes, huh? I had to write the chapter to find out what really happened, because what I had planned was all wrong.

But yes...Dean would only be swayed by a threat to Sam. There is no way he would "deny" him otherwise. Father would have lost the battle right there. Sad...and yet so true to Dean, like you said.

Ooo! Very interesting...the parallels between Father and God. When you find out the source of the monster's power...we'll have more to discuss...because you're not all that far off the mark. Well...you are...but you aren't. You'll see. We'll talk more in chapter 11. :) Hee!

I'm a broken record, but I really DO appreciate all of your thoughtful comments. They make my day. :)

Kat