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16 October 2013 @ 07:43 pm
jai guru deva om: Jai Guru Deva Om (chapter 13)  

"Put the damn food in your mouth and chew, Dean"

A/N: NongPradu, Tifaching, and Emmessann helped bring this story to life. I don't know how I could have gotten this done without their help. Thanks also to Ginger, Sue, Amanda, Penny and Deb for their expert eyes. Amazing people, each and every one.

Jai Guru Deva Om

Chapter Thirteen
Jai Guru Deva Om



**ॐ**


"Put the damn food in your mouth and chew, Dean," John said, brushing salt and french-fry crumbs from his fingers before snatching away the crude map that Dean was still sketching.

Startled, Dean eyed the burger before him, its hearty, brown juices sluicing into a pile of golden fries. He licked his lips and lifted the hamburger, bouncing the weight of it in his hands, extra onions plopping onto the plate as he squeezed the bun. He was hungry. He was damn hungry, a sensation he hadn't felt since—since he'd been in The Kiln. That thought stopped him cold, burger poised halfway to his mouth.

His fingers regripped the burger several times as he struggled with this simple act. His brain knew that Father had been full of shit, that he was nothing more than an evil sonofabitch who'd whammied him, but his body was slower to come back online. He'd built up certain habits and momentums over the past few months, some of them now so entrenched that any divergence made him feel like he was cheating, like he was letting The Kindred down or failing them—like he was betraying them.

But it went far beyond eating, drinking and sleeping. He was on edge and jumpy, trapped in a perpetual state of wanting, of needing, of itching for—something—something he thought he should be doing. And then it would dawn on him. He was supposed to be chanting. And he hated himself for that, hated feeling so empty and lost without engaging himself in that ritual, hated that he'd been conditioned to crave it, to depend on it in order to feel complete. He reminded himself over and over that none of it had been real, that the activity held no meaning. Still, given the choice between a hamburger and chanting, right now he'd choose chanting, and that disgusted him. John snapped his fingers under his nose, ending further contemplation.

"Goddamn it, Dean," John barked.

"What?" he said, setting the burger down and tugging at the high collar of the shirt John had lent him. He fussed at the irritating cloth, crooking a finger and pulling it away from his neck, another result of months' worth of conditioning and mind control. He wasn't comfortable wearing anything other than his Jedi tunic. The flannel shirt was hot and itchy and just—wrong.

"Don't what me. This isn't open to debate, kiddo. You're gonna eat or you're gonna go back to the cabin and sit this hunt out. We clear?"

"Yes sir." He picked up the burger and took a tentative bite. Intense savory flavors exploded in his mouth, and his eyelashes involuntarily fluttered with pleasure. He'd never tasted anything like it, which, when he thought about it, was odd. He remembered having this burger the day before he'd joined The Kindred, same tavern, same burger—hell—same waitress, but it sure as shit hadn't tasted anything like this. His taste buds were reawakening after a long, long coma, it seemed. As he went in for his second enthusiastic bite, it occurred to him that the last morsel of food with any taste or texture that he could remember had been Maureen's blueberry pancakes.

He paused in mid-chew, his stomach souring at the memory. Taking a sip of water, he washed down the meaty lump, rinsing his mouth in a deliberate attempt to wash away the pleasant taste. He didn't deserve it—he didn't deserve any of it. How could he sit there celebrating his rescue, enjoying food when Maureen would never have that same opportunity? Dante and Kimo would never have that opportunity. They'd never enjoy those simple pleasures because Dean'd screwed up. They'd paid the price for his fuck-up, paid for his weakness. And now, Jason would pay the same price if Dean didn't nail the freaky bastard that controlled him. Mei nudged him from across the booth, reaching over and handing him a napkin.

"You're wearing your ketchup, Slugger," she said with a smile, pointing to her cheek, letting him know where the offending gob was on his face.

Dean grabbed the napkin and wiped. "Thanks," he said, his glance dropping down to the table. He couldn't stand seeing her doctorly concern and compassion for him written all over her face. Couldn't take seeing the worry and fear for Jason in her eyes. His stomach lurched and he grabbed his middle. John's eagle eyes were on him, watching his every move.

"One bite doesn't cut it," John said. "Eat."

Dean sighed and stared at the hamburger, sizing it up, preparing himself. Opening his mouth, he took a large bite, chewing just long enough to get it down his throat. He took another bite and another, all business, shoving it in, gulping it down, following his father's orders but taking no joy in the act. When he glanced up, John gave a satisfied nod and turned his attention to the map in front of him

"So where is this Kiln-thing in reference to these other buildings?" John asked, turning the map to face Dean and pointing to the blobs and rectangles representing the buildings and pavilions of the compound.

Dean gulped the rest of his water, swishing it around his mouth before swallowing. "There," he said. "It's right next to The Heart." He pointed. "It's the circle right there."

"The Heart?" John asked.

Dean kept his eyes on the map. "It's were we, uh…meditated. It's just a building." He felt John's eyes boring into him for a long moment.

"Okay," John said at last. He turned the map around toward him again. "We've got the greenhouse, food pavilion, meditation room, garage, two other outbuildings for farm equipment, the barracks in the back and the mansion on the hill. Do they have any kind of security at the mansion?"

"I don't think so. Father doesn't need protection from The Kindred. Even Initiates would kill to protect him. But it's pointless going in there. He's never out of his human form—not at the mansion, anyway."

"Where, then?" Mei asked, reviewing the map with them. "He has to be in his true form or the ritual won't work, right?"

Dean palmed his forehead, sifting through his memories, both real and contrived by Father, separating them as best he could from ayahuasca-induced delusions and hallucinations. Memories restored or not, some things remained vague and hazy. "I saw Father as the pishacha when I was in The Kiln. I'm sure of it. But they keep that locked tight during an Ordeal. There's no getting in or out."

"I think I can handle a lock," John said with a snort.

"No, I know, but The Kiln is right in the middle of the compound, and it's guarded during an Ordeal just in case there is an attempted escape. And even if was easy to take the guards out without hurting them, Father would know about it the second we tried. Also, there's no knowing when Father will be in his true form during an Ordeal. Ordeals don't have a set schedule. I'm not even sure he reveals himself to everyone. I think he only showed himself to me because—because I put up a fight."

"He still got you in the end, though, didn't he?" John thoughtlessly threw the words out as he studied the map.

Mei shifted in her seat and cleared her throat, glancing from a crushed Dean to an oblivious John. "Are there any other opportunities, Dean? Any other times when he might shift into demon form?" she asked, filling the awkward silence.

Dean swallowed thickly, still watching John.

"Dean?" she prompted again.

He flinched and turned toward her. "Uh, the best time to catch him is, uh—would be during the Sacred Haoma Ceremony, but—"

"But what?" she asked.

"It's, uh…Father only changes during the Blessed Transformation, and that's—"

"Transfor—what? What's this, now? Where does it happen? In The Heart?" John interrupted.

"No, I told you about it, remember?" Dean answered. "It takes place outside, in the orchard, right up here." He pointed to the map.

"So he's right out in the open?"

"Yes, but—" Dean hesitated, glancing at Mei.

"But what?" she asked.

Dean cleared his throat. "But he only changes during the Blessed Transformation."

"And what is that, exactly," she asked.

"This is the ceremony he performs when he feeds," he said. John and Mei both sat motionless, digesting his words.

"And Jason is the next in line for this?" John wanted clarification.

"Yes."

John nodded, accepting the daunting news. "And what about other cult members during this? Where are they when this all happens?"

"They'll be there, but they'll be trippin' on ayahuasca, and…" He grappled with his memories. "It's like—I think Father locks them down when he changes. He, uh…he controls them—physically. The Blessed Transformation is very…disturbing to witness, not even the drugs can hide the horror of it. The Kindred won't be able to intervene, at least not while he feeds. After he's finished, he fucks with their memories—makes them forget what he really is."

"So there might be a small window of time, then," John mulled. "We wait behind the orchard during the ceremony. When the demon changes we strike fast." He opened his jacket, flashing a silver kirpan in his side pocket.

"A silver dagger? That's it? That's all it takes?" Dean asked.

"Straight into the bastard's heart." He tapped his chest in demonstration. "That, and the blade has to be coated in the blood of the wielder. Once that's done a mantra has to be repeated three times."

"What mantra?"

John pulled out a folded piece of paper from his breast pocket. "This one," he said.

Dean reached for the paper and read the foreign words aloud. "Aham jahAti bhavantaH. What's that mean?"

"A rough translation is I deny thee," John said.

Dean coughed. "You gotta be kidding me."

"No, why?"

"Nothing," Dean said, shaking his head. "So that's it? Stab him and repeat the mantra three times and it's over?"

"Yep, apparently the little sonofabitch doesn't handle rejection well. Cry me a damn river. The rest is all timing and planning. Come on, let's head over there, do some recon and see where we stand." John slid out of the booth. "Mei, you're going to give us a lift and drop us off a mile away from the compound and then come back here and wait for us to call."

"Like hell I am. I'm going with you."

"Like hell—no you're not. They know your face."

"They know Dean's face, too," she argued.

"And if I had any other choice, he'd be staying behind," John said. "But I need him there for information and backup. You're not coming. We'll call you when we know anything."

"He's right, Mei," Dean said as she drew breath to argue. "Two will have an easier time staying out of sight than three. This is the best thing you can do right now to help Jason."

Mei's shoulders dropped and she sighed. "Fine, but I'm going with you when you kill the thing. I'm not leaving Jason with that monster ready to feast on him."

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Let's get going," John said, thumbing over his shoulder.

Once the elder hunter had pushed open the door and walked out, Mei pulled Dean back, letting the door shut between them and John. She looked up at Dean, a hand on his shoulder.

"Sometimes when people have had a very bad scare, they lash out afterwards, blaming people they shouldn't," she said, her eyes stressing her point more than her words.

Dean stood still and impassive for a moment, his blank face turning dark and hard—as hard as John's had been. "Who else is he gonna blame? Who else is to blame?" he said, turning away from the doctor. He tossed open the door and dragged crisp, moist air into his lungs.

"Dean," she called after him with sad concern.

Dean made no answer, his stride cool and indifferent as he joined John by the car.



**ॐ**


"Stay down, Dad. If anyone sees us, Father sees us, too," Dean warned, crouching down in the thick undergrowth bordering the compound. "So we can't get too close." He peered through his binoculars. Other than having spotted Tim at the guard shack before they moved to the south, out of his line of sight, Dean hadn't seen anyone else.

"Place is deserted," John said, looking through his own binoculars. "That normal?"

"What time is it?" Dean asked. He'd never had a watch while he'd been a member of The Kindred, but he knew that they spent several hours, from sunup until early afternoon, meditating in The Heart.

"It's 12:30," John said.

"Okay. Yeah, it's normal, I think. We'd meditate until the afternoon, sometime. Then we'd break up to do chores or go pass out flyers for a few hours before evening worship." He heard John grunt at that as the two continued to scan the compound through their binoculars.

A heaviness descended between them, and they waited another half hour in silence before the doors to The Heart swung open and people trickled into the square.

Dean searched the crowd with hungry, fearful eyes. He spotted Brad and Gypsy right away, and his heart fluttered, remembering a time when their thoughts flowed through him like a river through pines, remembered when their essences mingled with his own. It made that dark empty thing inside of him all the more palpable. He shook his head at himself. They weren't family—they were victims. They'd never have shared themselves with him had they not been coerced, and he needed to face that fact. He forced the binoculars away from them, scanning the crowd.

"Come on, where are you, Jason?" Dean said, stewing.

"See him?" John whispered.

"No. But I don't see Fairy, either." Dean was hopeful. As long as Fairy was still in The Kiln, Jason would be alive. He hated the thought of her being tortured, but he hoped that she had held out long enough for them to save Jason. The gorge in Dean's throat grew as the last few stragglers emerged. And suddenly there he was, along with Marc, the two of them deep in discussion, the last two out of the building.

"There," Dean's voice pitched upward, relief and adrenaline mixed. "He's there," he said lowering his voice to a whisper. "Thank god."

"Which one is he?" John asked.

"The tall one, reddish hair—on the right."

"All right. Good. Good," John said, tracing Dean's line of sight to his target.

Dean observed the duo as they finished their conversation. Marc gave Jason's shoulder a good-natured slap, and the lawyer walked off toward the mansion. He probably had a session with Father, Dean guessed. The other Jedis were already going about their business, spilling out into the fields to tend the gardens, some of them heading into the food pavilion to prepare the evening meal, an average day in the compound. Dean kept his eyes on Jason as the man steered himself onto the road leading to the guard shack, but Dean soon lost sight of him in the trees.

"He's heading this way. Probably coming to relieve Tim from guard duty. We have to pull back. Come on,"

Following the river's edge, they crept around the property and climbed the fence where it threaded through a thick knot of pines. They eventually wormed their way to the orchard and hid themselves in the ferns at the edge of the forest. After a few hours, they heard the far off drone of many people chanting. The Kindred were starting their evening worship down in The Heart. It was evident that no Sacred Haoma Ceremony was being prepared for that night.

Dean's heartbeat took on the cadence of the chant. Hearing those voices, each one tuned pitch-perfect to the other, knitting their musical undulations together, triggered a surge of memories. Dean hated Father for what he'd done, but the hours spent in worship with The Kindred, their energies interwoven—the unity and love and kinship they'd shared had been real. Whatever monster Father was, that bond, the familial love shared between them, had not been an illusion. And even though he could no longer feel those individuals, could not hear their thoughts, could not anticipate their every move—even though he was cut off from them, his sense-memory still had his body reacting—expecting and anticipating.

He knew The Kindred were jumping as they chanted, breaching in pure joy as they uttered their love for Father. The words meant nothing to Dean, but the act, the movement, the ritual was still part of him, still part of his body. Dean took a shaky breath and wiped his brow, smudging the sweat beading there. He fixed his eyes on the ground and made a concerted effort to tune out the sounds drifting over and through him.

"Stop it," John ordered, his fingers biting into Dean's arm. John's temple pulsed as his jaw clenched and unclenched, his face rigid with disgust. "I said stop it," he barked again.

Dean's head snapped up, at a loss as to what he'd done to anger his father, but then he realized that his body was unconsciously rocking back and forth in time to the chant. He stopped, shaking the sound out of his head, shifting his stance and digging his heels into the springy earth as he crouched.

"Stay still, dammit," John scolded.

Dean froze, making no move, staring blankly ahead, putting all his effort into not hearing, not remembering, not caring. After several tense minutes he looked at John.

"They're not coming," he said. "They're all in The Heart. They're at evening worship."

"You certain?"

"Yes."

"How long does that go on?" John asked.

Dean blinked at his father. "All night," he said. "They won't stop until a couple hours before dawn."

"Jesus Christ," John said.

"There isn't going to be any ceremony tonight. Fairy hasn't broken. If she had, they'd have started their preparations for everything hours ago. It's not happening tonight. We're safe until tomorrow evening at least."

"Let's move out and tell Mei what's happening. We'll come back first thing tomorrow," John said.

"You go," Dean said. "I'll stay here and keep watch."

"Like hell you will," John countered. "You said nothing would happen tonight. Yes or no?"

"Yes, I said that, but—"

"Then we're leaving. Now. It's only going to get harder to move when it's fully dark."

"Dad…"

"You aren't staying here, Dean. That's a damn order."

Dean sighed and nodded. John gripped his shirtsleeve, pulling him away, retreating the way they came. They didn't speak another word as they slipped out of the compound, walking a good two miles away before calling Mei to meet them.

**ॐ**
They returned early the next day—Fairy's fourth day in The Kiln. It became apparent after morning meditation that something was brewing. Instead of breaking up and going about their normal duties, a dozen Jedis strode toward the orchard and began clearing the fire-pit and collecting firewood. Dean watched Jason, Gypsy and Brad all enter the greenhouse and exit a half hour later, their baskets full of caapi.

"It's happening tonight," Dean said, catching his breath and lowering his binoculars. "They're getting ready. It's gonna happen."

"You sure?" John said, scouring the grounds with his binoculars.

"Yeah," Dean said. "I'm sure." He continued to watch the group up at the orchard, catching faint snatches of the mantra they chanted while raking out the wet coals from the last ceremony. His stomach quivered.

"Let's pull back for now. We can call Mei and let her know what's happening, have her stand by with the car tonight. You and I will go find a spot behind the orchard as soon as the cult members are done collecting wood."

"They should be done in about an hour, but they won't light the fire until sunset."

John produced the sheet of paper from his inside breast pocket and read the mantra aloud, memorizing the words in a systematic fashion. "Aham jahAti bhavantaH," he said several times before he was satisfied. Opening his duffel, he retrieved the kirpan, pulling it from its sheath and inspecting the blade. He turned it over in his hands several times. "It has to be coated in the blood of the wielder, but I'll take care of that just before we attack."

Dean hesitated for a moment before making a decision. "Dad, no," he said.

"No, what?" John asked.

"You can't. It has to be me."

John laughed, his voice far too loud. "Funny," he said.

"Shhh!" Dean grabbed John's shirt and pulled him down, hushing him, speaking in a hoarse whisper. "I'm serious, Dad. You can't just barrel into the middle of the ceremony like that."

"Well, you sure as hell aren't doing this," John said, his voice was adamant and harsh. "No goddamned way."

"Why not, Dad? It only makes sense."

John's face flickered a moment, emotions passing over it so fast Dean could barely identify them all. He thought he saw fear and guilt there, but they were chased off by hard, angry edges. "Because I said so," John said, terse and clipped.

"Dad, if you go in there, Father's gonna know something's up. Let me do this. They'll think I escaped—think I'm coming back to rejoin them. I can get close without him getting suspicious."

John seemed at a loss for words. His mouth opened and closed in exasperation. Dean sensed the man's anger, swelling like a lava-dome in a volcano. It erupted hot and gritty. "And will you?"

"Will I—?" Dean was perplexed. "Will I what?"

"Rejoin them…" The words were cutting and bitter.

"Dad, how can you even think that? I know what he is. I'm not under his spell anymore," Dean said, but John snorted. "What?" Dean said, getting angry in turn. "Come out and say it, Dad."

"All right, fine," John said, putting the binoculars down and turning to face his son. "I get that the pishacha whammied you and that you were, for all intents and purposes, under a bizarre love-spell. In our line of work, that's a damn Thursday. That shit happens—especially when you're foolish enough to hunt something like this alone. Ain't the first time it's happened to us and it won't be the last. But Annie says that the demon specifically preys on people who want what the monster is selling. The person has to let the damn the thing in before it can take hold. He has to be invited. You get me?"

"Dad…" Dean said, his voice low and broken. "I was just—"

"Weak," John interrupted. "But enough, Dean. You and me, right now—we don't have the goddamned luxury for this. We have a job to do, and we're going to get it done. But you're not going near the pishacha. You're too vulnerable to his magic. That's just a goddamned fact. If he got you once, he can get you again. I can't put the lives of those people at risk. No. I'm taking point on this thing." He shook his head and stowed the kirpan in his duffel, zipping it tight.

"Dad, I'm not arguing for me." He tried not to let the hurt show, but he knew it was written all over his face. "You're gonna put them at greater risk if you go in there. Father doesn't know you. He'll be immediately on the defensive. You gotta know that."

"No. There's no damn way, Dean. This discussion is over right here, right now. I'll approach from behind and it'll be fine."

"Dad, I'm begging you to listen to me, please. If Father senses danger it'll be over. We have to get close enough to him first."

John spun around, grabbing a fistful of Dean's shirt, bringing the boy's face close to his. "Listen to yourself. Are you listening to yourself?" John jabbed his own ear in anger. "Father-this and Father-that. Do you have any idea how goddamned sick I am of that word? He's still in your head even if his magic isn't." Something broke in John and tears filled his eyes, but that merely fueled his anger. "How could you, Dean? How could you let that thing do this to you? I thought I taught you better than that."

Dean's shoulders slumped, tears rimming his own eyes. "I screwed up. I know it. But you've got to let me try and make it right. This is my fight."

John stood still, watching his son for a moment. "No," he said. "Believe me. It's mine. That bastard is mine. He's gonna pay for taking—" John stopped himself, sniffing in and squaring his shoulders. "That bastard's mine," he said over his shoulder as he worked his way deeper into the woods.

The discussion was over.

**ॐ**
"No. You're staying where you are, goddamn it," John snarl-whispered into the phone. "There's no damned way you're coming here. What? I don't care how close you are, you turn your ass around and drive back to the tavern, to the library, to the casino, hell—I don't care where you wait, just do it in town. We'll call you when this is finished. I'm hanging up now. What? No! I think I know what my boy needs better than you. Goodbye, Mei," he said, jabbing a finger on the button to end the call.

"I take it she wanted in on this, huh?"

"Damn insufferable, meddling woman—stubborn. Jesus," John groused.

"You think she took no for an answer?" Dean asked with a grim smile.

"Probably not, but we have no choice but to move. She's too small to get over the fence, anyway. Get the lead out. Let's go." Pocketing his phone and hoisting his duffel, he grabbed hold of the fence and began climbing. Dean released a dubious snort at that but followed orders and hoisted himself over the fence.

They worked their slow, silent way to the orchard and hunkered down for the long wait—burrowing themselves deep enough that they had to rely on their ears more than their eyes—at least until the ceremony started.

After several hours huddled in the soggy bracken, The Kindred crested the slope leading to the orchard, singing and chanting as they came.

"They're coming," Dean said, creeping closer to the tree line.

He caught glimpses through the trees as they milled about, laughing and chatting, greeting each other with warm hugs. He saw Gypsy handing out cups filled with ayahuasca. Brad was with Jason and Marc, getting the bonfire going. The robust smell of burning wood filled the air, and Dean and John could see the smoke and sparks flying upwards between the trees. He closed his eyes. Even the scents and odors of commune life reminded him of his loss, and there was a part of him that felt an urge to join them, to be a part of them, to re-experience that sense of absolute kinship. But Jason's loud guffaw brought him back to reality, reminding him who and what The Kindred truly were. They were slaves. They were food for a demon, and he had to save them—he had to make up for what he'd done. His hatred toward Father percolated. These were good people, good souls. It incensed Dean that Father had taken advantage of that—of them—that he had played upon their sense of loyalty and need to belong.

Neither Winchester spoke for quite a while, both men tense and bent, listening to the activity, deep in hunter-mode. John was crouched with his ear cocked toward the voices, absently poking at leaves with the tip of the silver kirpan.

John had said nothing more to Dean about their discussion earlier. There'd been no further accusation or admonishments, but Dean wondered if John would ever trust him again. The man hadn't looked him in the eye since their argument. Dean didn't expect anything different, not really. After all, he'd monumentally screwed up the hunt. People had died because of his weakness. It wasn't like his dad had been wrong to call him out. Still, he prayed that John wasn't making a mistake of his own by not letting Dean be the one to approach Father. If Father—if the demon—withdrew or changed into human form, all would be lost.

They heard a rustle coming from somewhere deeper in the woods, followed by a thump and a hiss. John caught Dean's eye and put a finger to his lips, holding his hand out, signaling for him to stay put. The elder hunter turned and crept into the brush and thistles. After another grunt and two more twig-cracks, John resurfaced, one hand filled with the scruff of Mei's shirt, the other clamped over her mouth.

John glared at her, his voice so low that Dean had to read his lips in order to catch everything.

"How'd you get over the fence?" he asked, seething.

Mei mumbled from behind John's clamped hand. He waited until she quieted before removing his hand from her mouth.

"Six years of gymnastics," she whispered hotly.

"Jesus Christ," John muttered. "Do you have any idea the danger you've put us all in? What the hell were you th—"

The sudden burst of chanting came from the orchard, and all three onlookers turned, craning their necks to see through the trees. They could make out The Kindred standing in a wide circle around the bonfire, praising Father, dedicating their lives, their souls, to him.

The ceremony had begun.

The Kindred's flawless syncopated rhythms mesmerized Dean, and his chest swelled with the memory of the happiness he felt when he was part of that song. He bit his lip and took several deep breaths, pressing his head against the bark of the tree. John caught his eye, glaring at him. Swirling his hand and pointing toward the tree line, John motioned for them to move forward. They stopped about twelve feet from the edge of the forest, hidden by the darkness pooling under the pines now that the sun had set.

As the chanting filled the orchard, Dean noticed Jason, Gypsy and Brad standing side by side, their faces lit from within by Father's power and from without by both the bonfire and the pink, twilit sky. When Mei saw Jason, she released a throaty gasp before she could cover her mouth. John pushed her against a tree trunk and wordlessly mouthed orders for her to remain still. She nodded her apology and settled herself. All three of them stood watching until the drugs took hold of the group and they started to sway and rock as they chanted. While the movements seemed chaotic at first glance, they created a perfect complement to one another, molding harmonies with both sound and motion. It was fascinating to witness.

Once it was fully dark, the volume spiked, and the group began to leap into the air as if on pogo sticks, the chanting growing incrementally more powerful. The motion of The Kindred grew more frenetic, creating a kinetic energy that Dean was certain even John and Mei could perceive. The air was alive with it. Louder and louder the voices rang as a glimmer in the trees appeared on the other side of the orchard. In an instant the voices dove down to a humming murmur, signaling Father's approach.

"He's coming." Dean's whispered.

John flexed his hand around the kirpan, readying himself as he watched the shimmering light approach.

Dean could feel Father's power emanating from all the way across the orchard, hitting him square between the eyes, and his body and heart surged with a urge to bow and offer praise. The light surrounding Father was more beautiful than Dean ever remembered, and the sage, in his simple white tunic and trousers appeared the epitome of grace and serenity. But it was a lie, Dean reminded himself. The light and beauty did not belong to Father. It belonged to the souls that Father had consumed. This was Maureen's gentle grace and Kimo's humor and Dante's strength. This was the best of those whom Father had murdered. His power was their power, nothing more.

"You sonofabitch," Dean muttered to himself, startling John and Mei, their own eyes fixed on the approaching figure, following his every move as he glided toward the group and entered the prayer circle. The Kindred sunk to their knees, swaying in unison and purring their love.

Father paced the perimeter of the circle, encouraging his thralls to evince their desperate, needy devotion. They reached out to him, bending their heads to the ground, groveling. Dean felt the call, felt compulsion to worship as strongly as he'd ever felt it. The spell, however, did not erase or alter his newfound memories—memories of Maureen screaming in terror and pain—memories of Kimo and Dante howling in agony as they were consumed. Spell-work be damned, there was no goddamned way he'd let that happen to Jason.

Father spoke, his voice all honey and cream, bewitching all those within earshot who were vulnerable to him, and Dean felt a heady complacency ripple through him. He dug his fingernails into the bark of the tree, reminding himself over and over again that Father was a monster. And yet, every word that Father spoke was like a loving caress. That Dean was still susceptible after everything he'd been through, after everything he'd learned, made him sick inside. No wonder his dad didn't trust him with this monster. He didn't trust himself.

"You are my obedient children," Father cooed to them. "Find freedom in worship. Find joy in adulation. Find peace in capitulation."

Dean took another cleansing breath and turned to John, expecting to find the man scowling at him, but his attention was concentrated on Father, his face unreadable. The only hint of tension was in the hand that continuously flexed and clenched around the kirpan.

"Tonight we will bring your sister into the inner fold of The Kindred. She has staunchly fought her way through the fire, searing away the last of her ego, purifying her soul in order to love me without reserve. She is now solely my child, belonging to no other. Bring her forth to be blessed."

The timbre of the murmured chant changed, the tempo quickening, becoming more jubilant and animated. Movement right below the lip of the orchard caught their attention, and the trio watched as a couple of Jedis dragged Fairy forward and dropped her in front of Father.

Dean heard John's sharp intake of breath upon seeing her. The young woman was small and now so thin that she looked like a fragile, skeletal child. Her filthy clothes covered blistering, weeping burns. Her left arm was broken, white bone poking out of swollen, tattered skin.

John and Mei watched in revulsion as Fairy prostrated herself in front of the monster, pledging her complete loyalty despite the clear physical evidence that she had just endured ghastly torture at his hands. Anger and loathing radiated off of John as he listened to the girl deny her parents, renouncing everyone and everything she'd once cared for, and Dean knew that John wasn't witnessing Fairy's conversion, here—he was witnessing Dean's. Dean saw a collage of emotion on his father's face, hurt and sadness, disgust and disappointment—maybe even a dash of understanding and sorrow—all mixed together.

Several of The Kindred pulled Fairy into a kneeling position, and Father drew her to him, her lips parting in both pain and spiritual ecstasy. Father closed in, his lips inches away from Fairy's as crystal strands of light issued forth from his mouth and entered hers. The guru bent in closer still, locking lips as the healing power surged into her. Her body glowed as her blisters evaporated like rain on desert sand, white jagged bone melting into her skin, leaving a seamless, smooth surface behind. Fairy writhed and shivered as the power transformed her. After a moment, Father released her and she dropped to the ground, squirming on her belly, her hands pawing at the edges of his trousers, sobbing deliriously as she kissed his feet.

The Kindred released an exuberant shout as Fairy rose and turned to them, their connection with her renewed—stronger than it had ever been. Fairy's face was awash with peace and love. Dean's heart skipped another beat. No matter what Father was or wasn't, he remembered this moment and knew that those emotions were real. The exchange between souls was not feigned, and he could see the bliss written on her face and on the faces of The Kindred. They loved her wholly, and, she, them.

They drew the new Adept into their prayer circle, and the group began chanting again, celebrating their reunion with the girl. Father watched them for most of an hour before raising his hand, stopping their zealous worship. The chanting slowed, dipping into that low droning murmur as Father pointed to Jason.

"Come to me, my good and faithful child."

His voice resonated with such authority and power that Dean took a step forward before he caught himself. The urge to obey was so strong.

Mei's breathing grew erratic as Jason approached Father, and that helped to ground Dean. He turned to her and set his hand on her shoulder, offering her comfort and support. It was time for the Blessed Transformation. He attempted to get John's attention, but the man continued to watch the events unfolding by the bonfire, his face pinched and intent. Dean gave John's arm a tug, and his father tore his eyes away from the scene.

"It's almost time!" Dean mouthed the words. He nodded toward the kirpan still in John's hand. John shook himself, coming out of his thoughts. His eyes darted to the dagger, gripping it with purpose. He glanced up with a firm nod. Rolling up his sleeve, he made a cut below his bicep, saturating the blade with his blood.

"My son," Father said as Jason kneeled in reverence before him.

"You called, Father. I am here. I am your servant," Jason said, glancing up, his face alight with love and elation.

"You have well prepared your soul for your Blessed Transformation. Above all else, this union must be born of your desire. Do you give yourself to me?"

Dean made his stealthy way toward the tree line and turned, beckoning John to join him.

"Dad," Dean whispered, getting John's attention that had refocused on Father. "Dad?"

John blinked and turned his eyes to Dean. The boy pointed to his wrist indicating that it was time and waved him forward. John nodded again and crept around the perimeter until he'd positioned himself behind Father.

Dean fixed his attention on Jason as the man spoke in a strong, declarative voice. "I give of myself willingly, Father. You are my teacher, my guru, my Savior. You are my life, and everything that I have is yours. All that I am belongs to you. Let my body and soul nourish your magnificence."

A shockwave of magic swept across the orchard, rippling outward and hitting everyone, including the trio on the outskirts. The force blew into Dean and Mei as a fierce gust of wind. Dean shielded his face with his arm in an instinctive move to protect himself from the desperate impulse to go to Father and worship him. He felt something brush past him and glanced up to see Mei listlessly walking toward the bonfire, her eyes milky and serene. Dean groped for her, pulling her back and shaking her until her eyes met his.

"No," he whispered in her ear. "Whatever you're feeling, it's not real. Think of Jason. Keep thinking of him. You've come too far for this."

Mei looked at him, confused at first, but then her eyes went wide and she shook her head, clearing it.

"My god," she whispered.

"You're all right. Just remember that Jason needs you."

He gripped her hand in his, striving to ground them both as The Kindred began to chant, their voices strident and urgent.

dadati vaH praaNa bhAkta! puurayati pishacha!

The air surrounding Father wavered and vibrated, and he regarded Jason with a self-satisfied smile. "Nourish me, my son."

His eyes spun and twisted, changing from brown to red, swirling and bulging as the skin around his eyes darkened, wrinkling like dried leather. The effect spread like a contagion, his skin mottling and bubbling, a dark disease eating up each of his features. Father's belly distended until his girth could no longer be supported and the whole thing dropped in a fleshy apron that dangled to his knees. His tunic tore and shredded off of him, as six more arms slithered out from his grotesque corpulence. With a lustful gurgle, Father flexed and waved his new-grown arms, one after the other, stretching luxuriously. A long, oily tail wriggled around like a hose under pressure.

dadati vaH praaNa bhAkta! puurayati pishacha!

The Kindred's chant grew frenzied, their voices shrill. Fear was in their eyes as Father transformed, but their chanting never faltered. Dean caught sight of Gypsy, her face pale with dread, tears running down her cheeks. And yet she chanted the ghastly incantation, her voice as hoarse and commanding as the rest of The Kindred.

dadati vaH praaNa bhAkta! puurayati pishacha!

As the chanting grew stronger, another surge of hot magic flew through the orchard, and the demon let out a roar of delight.

"Sing, my children!" he cackled. "Sing and dance while your Father feasts. Dance for me."

The Kindred responded by leaping up and down, terrified eyes flung wide as they helplessly recited the guttural, unholy incantation. The orchard shivered with their discordant recitation.

dadati vaH praaNa bhAkta! puurayati pishacha!

Dean signaled to John, but he didn't respond, the kirpan dangling loose in his grip. Dean waved again until he had the man's attention. Now! He signed to his father, and John sprang into action, flying out of the brush like a shaft from a bow. The first few strands of soul-light were already emanating from Jason as Father began to nudge the man's soul to the surface.

Mei made a move to follow John, her body reacting to an instinctual impulse to protect her husband.

"Don't," Dean said, holding her tight. "Wait!"

John ran full tilt, crashing into the circle, knocking several Jedi to the ground in the process. Without a beat, they were drawn back to their feet like marionettes, their muscles controlled by magical strings, and they immediately resumed their chanting and jumping.

dadati vaH praaNa bhAkta! puurayati pishacha!

Bent upon his prey, the pishacha made loud, wet sucking noises as it continued siphoning Jason's soul to the surface. Jason's eyes were saucers of panic and fear. Approaching from behind, John grabbed the pischacha, roughly pushing Jason out of the way. The hunter drew his hand back, poising it a second as he aimed for the demon's heart. One more second and it would be over.

As the kirpan descended, though, one of the pishacha's arms flew up, catching John's arm, like a parent holding a toddler during a temper tantrum. He turned his swirling eyes on John and reached out another hand to smooth his hair. The touch stunned John, his body stiffening, his movements ceasing even as his muscles continued to tick and strain.

"Fuck," Dean gasped, moving away from Mei toward the edge of the wood.

"My child," the monster said, his voice clotted with compassion and patience. The Kindred stopped their incantation and they began to sway to and fro, in some kind of magical holding pattern, while the pishacha concentrated on John. "Why do you come with a blade? You will not need it, I assure you. There is rest from weary travels to be found here."

John twitched, his muscles relaxing as the demon held his gaze.

"That's right, my son." The pishacha continued to caress him. "There is solace and healing. My child. My restless wanderer. How you've suffered..." Father's bulging eyes spun as they held John's. "Take heart. You are worthy. You are so very worthy."

"Dad, no," Dean whispered. "Don't!" He willed his father to snap out of it. The pishacha held John's full fascination, the demons red eyes whorling like hurricanes as he pet the man's hair. This wasn't happening. There was no damn way that John Winchester could be vulnerable to the demon's magic. No damn way.

No damn way.

Dean froze where he stood, unable to process what he was witnessing. Father put a scaly hand on John's chest. "Yes. I sense your pain, my wanderer. Four times abandoned." The monster bent in, smoothing his brow. "Abandoned by your father," he said, closing his eyes and drinking in John's memories. "By your wife." He pressed his cheek to John's ear. "By your young son." Father placed a consoling kiss on John's cheek. "Even your warrior has chosen another over you, though you love him so—though you would die for him. So alone. You feel so alone. I know, my child. I know."

A tear spilled down John's cheek, and that broke Dean out of his paralysis. That dirty sonofabitch, using Dean's mistake to trap John. Blind fury took over and he bent down, scrabbling at the duffel, searching for another kirpan—gun—anything.

"I will never abandon you, noble wanderer. Your quest is complete. You are worthy of my blessing—worthy to follow the path to enlightenment and perfection."

"Tired," John said, his voice burnt with hurt and pain.

"Of course you are," Father said. "You fight and you fight for your family. And still they leave you. They'll always leave you." The demon leaned in. "But I never will."

With that the pishacha's lips met the hunter's, and a frosty light issued forth, flowing like a spate from the demon into John. It continued on until the dagger fell from John's hand. Dean watched it land in the dirt, not far from the pishacha.

He spun around, facing Mei. "Stay," he hissed. "Whatever happens, stay!" With that he sprung away, bounding through the fern.

"Stop!" he yelled. He pushed his way past Brad and Gypsy, their bodies drenched in sweat as they continued rocking this way and that, their faces tormented, unable to break away from the holding spell. "Stop!" he cried again, running, not knowing what he was doing or what he hoped to accomplish.

Father broke his embrace with John and turned the hunter around, using him as a shield against the intruder. He displayed John to Dean, draping one of his quivering arms over the hunter's chest. John's eyes were glazed and placid. "My Warrior," the demon said blithely, looking Dean up and down. "You've returned."

"Yeah," Dean said as if it was a casual thing. "Yeah, that's right. You know me; I'm a family man, right? How could I resist?"

The pishacha gave him an ugly smile and crooked a sausage-sized finger, beckoning him closer. "You are happy with my new Initiate?" He beamed and nuzzled John's neck. Dean watched his father turn his head, allowing the monster fuller access, his jugular vein pulsing as the monster ran a tusk-like fingernail up and down its length.

"Of course," Dean said. "One big happy family, right?"

"Indeed," Father said. He pressed a kiss to John's temple. "You'd like that, wouldn't you my Wanderer?"

John's eyes misted. "Yes, Father. I would." He turned to Dean. "I'm so sorry, Dean. I didn't understand before, but I get it, now." He extended his hand. "Let's serve Father together."

The power emanating from the pishacha hit Dean like a freight train. Father held nothing back, offering everything he ever wanted—family, acceptance, love, joy, loyalty—it was all there. And god, he wanted it. He did. His chest hitched and he blinked, slow and dull. The pishacha's eyes were filling every corner of his mind, promising him everlasting peace. One of his hands coiled toward him, massaging his nape, drawing him closer. Dean's body responded of its own volition, heeding the commands of the monster he'd been conditioned to obey. The call was almost too overwhelming to resist.

Almost.

"Come my son, let us reacquaint," the demon said, drawing Dean in, his bulbous eyes spinning like hypnotic pinwheels.

"Okay," Dean agreed. "But first things first." He gave John a sudden, violent shove, and with one continuous motion he bent down and scooped up the kirpan. His body may have been affected by his conditioning, but his mind was his own. Whether it was the counter-spell John and Mei had performed on him, the holy water still flowing through his veins, or his own common sense and experience that trumped the bullshit Father was trying to sell him, Dean perceived the power, felt the spell Father attempted to cast over him, but the young hunter was no longer persuaded by it. With a cry he plunged the dagger deep into the pishacha's chest. The creature bucked in surprise and pain, and the dagger dislodged, tumbling from Dean's grip.

A vicious blow to the side of Dean's head caught him off guard and he fell to the side. Stunned and disoriented he turned to see John stalking toward him, fists raised, murder in his eyes. Dean shook his head, clearing it, trying to remember the mantra he was supposed to recite as he scrambled away from a bristling, snarling John. The creature's crazed laughter caught the attention of both father and son.

"Treacherous apostate!" Father bellowed. "Devious child! You cannot slay me."

Dean glanced at the blade lying in the dirt where he dropped it. John's blood shone red, mixed with the black of the pishacha's. Shit. Blood of the wielder—he remembered. God fucking dammit.

"How far you have fallen…" Father scolded him, disgusted. "Such a mean, paltry disappointment you turned out to be." He flicked his slimy tongue around his mouth and smacked his gums. He turned to Jason and John. "Protect me, my children. Lay low this assassin."

Dean felt his legs sweep out from under him and he went down with Jason's growl of triumph ringing in his ears. Pivoting, Dean worked his legs around his friend's torso and forced Jason into the ground, levering himself up at the same time until Jason received his full weight, knees digging into his chest. With a quick leap, Dean found his feet and turned to spring clear. But John was there the moment he twisted, his father's fist descending like a wrecking ball. Dean raised his arm to block the blow, but it had been a feint. John reached up with his other hand in an undercut and a sharp pain tore through Dean's side. A hiss of air blew out from below his armpit, and Dean looked down to see the kirpan embedded between two ribs.

Everything slowed to a crawl. Dean took two wobbly steps back and then one forward as he strove for balance, gripping the dagger in a bewildered daze, searching John's empty expression.

"Dad?" he said in a windy, spent whisper, his lungs expelling air in wet, bloody bubbles around the dagger lodged in his rib cage.

John made no response, and before Dean could process what was happening, he felt Jason's arm reach around his neck, holding him in a chokehold. John joined in, yanking one of Dean's hands behind his back. The blade scraped against his rib with the movement, wrenching a gasp from him as blood frothed from the wound.

Father's fleshy body quivered like jelly as he gloated. Coming close, he beckoned John to him, gripping the enthralled hunter, reaching a slimy hand around his shoulders, embracing and fondling him as Father goaded Jason. "Hold the assassin, my child. I cannot feast upon his soul for he has selfishly reclaimed it, but his body is mine for the taking. Hold him firm and present him to me."

"Jason! Don't! Don't do this!" Mei's voice rang out from beyond the prayer circle. "Wake up, please. I love you. Don't hurt him. Please don't hurt him," she begged.

Dean tried to get his breath, but here was no air to catch. His vision smeared and bled as the demon grabbed his own doughy belly with several hands and cackled.

The pishacha laughed. "Another toy for Father," he said releasing another shockwave of power that lifted Mei off her feet and threw her to the ground in a senseless heap. She lay there, crumpled and unmoving. "But first, I hunger." He turned back to Dean, his magic heating the air around them. The Kindred, who'd remained trapped in their humming chant all this time, resumed their hoarse incantation, urging the demon to feed.

dadati vaH praaNa bhAkta! puurayati pishacha!

The words seared Dean from the inside, and his body went taut from the rending pain. Father's mouth opened wide, ribbons of slime slopping out past razor-sharp teeth.

With the last of his breath, Dean reached up and gripped the dagger protruding from his side. Releasing a breathless growl of anger, he jerked it out, and, reaching up, he plunged the dagger into the folds of the pishacha's chest. This time his blood touched the heart of the monster. Father's insectile eyes twisted and pulsed. Dean pulled the dagger out and then plunged it in again, twisting the blade.

"I deny you," Dean said, his breathless voice seething. Jason released him suddenly, reeling backwards when a pulse of energy flew outward from the monster. Dean fell to his knees, and he pressed a hand to his side, trying to keep the air from escaping while he chanted.

Aham jahAti bhavantaH!

The creature hissed with anger and pain.

Aham jahAti bhavantaH!

Dean fell on his ass as the creature bent over him, its bloody mouth wide with lust and death. Dean looked up at Father, his face pale, his limbs loose and shaky.

Aham jahAti bhavantaH!

Dean recited the mantra a third time, locking eyes with the creature as he said each word.

"That's for Maureen, you sss—sick sonabish," he added, running out of breath.

All eyes remained fixed on the creature as his gelatinous body convulsed and spasmed. Dean reached up, gripped the amulet still hanging from the pishacha's thick neck as a trophy, and he tugged it free. "An' this b'longs t'me, dickh'd."

The pishacha's eyes glowed in response, burning as white and hot as if a flare had been lit from within. Shards of light furrowed the mucousy skin, cracking it open. Blinding jets of limpid radiance burst from the fissures in all directions, some rays reaching as high as the pine-tops.

"My child!" The demon released a blood-curdling wail of desperate, lonely misery. Looking down at his swollen body, the fiend roared again as it exploded into thick, steaming chunks.

One final howl reverberated through the orchard, and The Kindred were abruptly released from the command to chant. They held their ears and cowered, some of them falling to the ground, exhausted by the hours of non-stop exertion.

The pishacha bubbled and stewed where the pus-colored pieces landed, muscles liquefying, fat sizzling. As the onlookers stood in stunned silence, the demon's body started to glow and emit a high-pitched, expectant hum, growing so intense and urgent that everyone winced, holding their ears. In an instant the pressure was released as, one by one, effulgent, crystal orbs issued forth from the squelching, pulpy mash.

A hush fell over the orchard as the pearls of light drifted upward, shucking off the spiritual and magical manacles that had held them captive, dancing above the heads of the onlookers. Souls. Through his dim disconnect, Dean realized they were the souls of those whom Father had consumed.

One incandescent sphere swooped and buzzed around Brad and Gypsy, then swung over to Dean and Jason, hovering there a moment. Dean didn't need an introduction. He knew who it was. Her essence was thick in the air around them.

"I'm sorry," he said, breathlessly as the globe wobbled before him.

Her light dipped and swayed gracefully a moment longer and then ascended, joining the constellation of souls that lit the orchard.

Lurching and stumbling to remain upright, Dean watched the souls linger for a brief time before they flew into the night sky, disappearing into the stars.

And still no one moved or said a word.

Dean decided he had had enough, though. He needed to go—somewhere. He was tired and he was hurting and it was time to go away from this place. Gripping his side, he mindlessly tottered by several traumatized, glassy-eyed Jedis who scarcely noticed his passing. He saw Mei's misty form limping toward Jason, crying her husband's name over and over. Dean gave them no more thought. He wanted to go find his cot and lie down, wanted to be away from this place, wanted to be where it was quiet, where he could get some breath into his lungs. It was so damn loud—he couldn't think straight with that horrible hammering in his ears—and his side hurt. Fuck, did it hurt. He wanted to go away from the orchard and the fire and the people and the hammers. And so he turned around and walked away, legs wobbling with every step.

Reaching the lip of the hill, he staggered a few more paces before falling to his knees, the jarring pain forcing an agonized cry from him. He thought he saw someone that looked like his dad shake his head and palm his temples as if awakening from a trance. Dean tried to call out, but his body slumped into the soft earth, and he lay there gulping in one shallow breath after another. Where any of that oxygen went was anyone's guess. It sure as shit wasn't finding its way to his brain.

The man by the bonfire lifted his head, his face filled with horror as he scanned the crowd.

"Dean!" he shouted as he ran forward, pushing past Brad who had his arms around an inconsolable Gypsy. Dean didn't bother trying to keep his eyes open after that.

"Dean!" The name echoed, tinny and hollow in his ears, and Dean thought maybe the voice was in his head. Still, he tried to answer, his lips moving soundlessly as his wound burbled with all of his escaping air. Dean clapped his hands to his side, trying to hold everything in place. "My god, Dean. I'm sorry."

Dean shivered with pain as cold hands jostled him, pulling his blood-slick palms away from his ribs.

"Hold on, son. Jesus, okay, you've got a little nick here," a gritty voice said, full of concern and stony determination. If he didn't know better, he'd have thought it sounded just like his father. "Hey, hey, Sport…open your eyes for me." The voice became harsh and commanding "Mei, a little help over here!" Dean felt someone shake him mercilessly. "Stay with me, son. Don't you dare do this. Not now."

So like his dad.

Dean lifted his lids, fighting the dark blobs and gray shadows. He blinked like an owl, trying to focus. That face was unmistakable.

"Dad?" he said, his breathing erratic and choppy.

"I'm here, Dean. I'm with you, son."

Continue to Chapter 14

 
 
 
frostfalconfrostfalcon on October 17th, 2013 12:36 am (UTC)
and poor Dean takes one for the team again... he just can't catch a break can he?
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 17th, 2013 01:35 pm (UTC)
Luck really doesn't seem to be on his side, does it? Poor baby! Don't worry...he'll be fine. He HAS to be? Who else am I gonna torture in my next story? ;)

Thanks much frostfalcon!

Kat
arliss: john_flamearliss on October 17th, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, such suspense. You really had me as to whether they were going to be in time to save the ones still living and release the ones Father had previously consumed. But yay! No more feasting! Dean's gone a long way to redeem himself in John's eyes, and John has some guilt to bear, now, too.

Such good work. Thank you!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 18th, 2013 01:39 am (UTC)
Howdy arliss! OooOo! I like your avatar!

Yes...John is going to have a whole new perspective, I think. Let's hope he doesn't eff things up now. He has a golden opportunity to be there for his son and help him heal like he should have done back when he first got hurt on the salt-and-burn.

Here's to hoping he'll get it all together. Dean really needs him.

Thanks so much for the comment, arliss. :) Have a great weekend.

Kat
JJ1564jj1564 on October 17th, 2013 08:51 pm (UTC)
"He still got you in the end, though, didn't he?" John thoughtlessly threw the words out as he studied the map. Mei shifted in her seat and cleared her throat, glancing from a crushed Dean to an oblivious John.

I read this and HATED John so much, he had no idea what suffering Dean had been through (including his excruciating 12 days in the kiln) & I wanted John to suffer and fall under Fathers spell. And you did it, you put John under Fathers spell and showed how strong Dean is, even though the poor lamb is wounded again. Thank you so much!

Edited at 2013-10-17 08:52 pm (UTC)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 18th, 2013 01:41 am (UTC)
Yep, yep...John got a first-hand experience and found that he wasn't any better at fending off Father's magic than Dean was. Hopefully this has been a humbling experience for John. He needs to strap on his big-boy pants and be the father that Dean needs.

Thanks so much for the comment, jj. I appreciate it!

Kat
inanna_maat: Matadorinanna_maat on October 17th, 2013 09:48 pm (UTC)
OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love it... the monster is devious and it could change John!!! Ah, Dean has all his wounds, isn´t he?
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 18th, 2013 01:43 am (UTC)
Yep...John was just as susceptible to Father's magic as Dean was. More, actually...since John didn't even try to put up a fight. Heh. Let's see what he does with this new information. He needs to take a good, long look in the mirror and face up to the part he played in this mess. And he only has ONE more chapter to do it in. Hee!

Thanks heaps, inanna. Have an awesome weekend.

Kat
i dream of colors that have never been seenetoile444 on October 17th, 2013 10:54 pm (UTC)
Yay! I just knew Dean would get the kill and release the souls. I like the irony that he is again with the same injury that brought him to this town to begin with!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 18th, 2013 01:44 am (UTC)
Hah! Right? Poor Dean...he left The Kindred in the same shape he arrived. Poor thing! But the monster is dead and hopefully he'll have a humbled John to help him get back on his feet. We'll see!

Thanks for the sweet comment. :)

Kat
iontasiontas on October 18th, 2013 02:13 am (UTC)
Oh, you did it again. Evil cliffie! I am sort of glad that John experienced the Father effect. Maybe know he won't be so hard on Dean. I really liked the way this unfolded and that Dean got to take out the monster. I can't wait to see what comes next!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 18th, 2013 03:11 am (UTC)
Yep...John was vulnerable all along. He just couldn't even see it in himself. He was looking too closely at Dean's "flaws" to see his own. Let's hope he does the right thing now. He has a lot to make up for.

Thanks a lot, iontas!

Kat
antraziantrazi on October 18th, 2013 02:25 am (UTC)
How the mighty John Winchester has fallen.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 18th, 2013 03:12 am (UTC)
Let's hope far enough for him too do right by his son. If it's not too late. :) Thanks much!

Kat
jpgr: SPN Dean & John hugjpgr on October 18th, 2013 02:50 am (UTC)
Only one more to go!!!

I want to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this and glad I could be of help.

You have such a remarkable way of writing Dean so believably
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 18th, 2013 03:13 am (UTC)
ONE more. Whew! It took forever to get there. Heh. Thanks so very much for all of your help. You're awesome.

Kat
lidia1991_anlidia1991_an on October 19th, 2013 03:12 am (UTC)


Dean is a hero! Such a badass!

Well done, even John can't resist to Father's spell!

Have a nice weekend!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 19th, 2013 03:06 pm (UTC)
Yep! It looks like John was just as vulnerable as Dean was to Father's magic. Hopefully he'll get where Dean was at and eat a little humble pie! We'll see! :)

Thanks for the comment, lidia!

Kat
dark_austral: sexy casdark_austral on October 19th, 2013 04:59 am (UTC)
That demon got to John! O.O

What I really like John here is on one hand you see the drill sergent and deadbeat Dad who doesn't outworldly show his love. But on the other hand, it's there in the tiny things like seeing that John was enraged that the demon got to Dean and just what the demon was saying that he felt abandoned by his family.

Hopefully now everyone can make a slow recovery. And kickass Dean despite all his injuries and fighting against the demon's influence grabs the necklace and kills the demon. That's our Dean!

Can't believe there's only chapter left, it's been one heck of a ride.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 19th, 2013 03:11 pm (UTC)
John is one of the most complex characters in all of the SPN verse. I can't say that I 100% understand him, but I acknowledge two things in this story. 1.) he's flawed! Severely flawed. 2.) He loves his kids more than he loves his own life. Yep, he can be an asshole and too severe and too closed off and all of those things. At the end of the day, though...I do believe that he genuinely loves his kids. He just needs to learn to SHOW it in a way that does not wind up hurting them. Heh. We'll see if he has at least a moment of clarity before the end of this story. Let's hope!

ONE more chapter left...yep yep! Monday isn't far away now...

Thanks much dark-austral. I completely appreciate your comment.

Kat
darkrose_9darkrose_9 on October 19th, 2013 11:04 am (UTC)
I love that despite everything you've put him through, Dean still comes through as that kid we met in season 1. Maybe John will be more sympathetic Dean now that he knows how strong the demon's compulsion was?
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 19th, 2013 03:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, darkrose!

I think John's experience with Father has been enlightening for him. Now we just have to hope he can actually articulate that to his son. This is JOHN we're talking about...so he could completely muddle things. But let's hope he does the right thing by his son.

We'll see on Monday.

Thanks again!

Kat
allyeffallyeff on October 19th, 2013 09:58 pm (UTC)
You do write the most delicious dean torture, loving this new story.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 20th, 2013 12:58 am (UTC)
allyeff! I still remember your incredibly generous comment for Dust Devils. :) I'm so glad you're enjoying this story, too. I really am just terribly hard on poor Dean. Hee! Poor thing. I just can't help myself.

Thanks bunches and bunches. You have a great weekend. :)

Kat
serendip50: jen sleeping naked by smut_slutserendip50 on October 22nd, 2013 05:44 pm (UTC)
Oh boy...what a rollercoaster ride! So gripping in it's merciless intensity, I didn't blink for fear of missing a beat.

It's a long road to recovery from such an all consuming experience. Maybe a person is never completely free of the compulsions ingrained through months of brainwashing. Even more so, when the tools of said torture are somewhat based in truth however pungent and distorted.

John's accusing words of weakness were harsh and unforgivable not to mention unfounded. Dean's *'weakness' did not stem from the physical but from the mental as we have witnessed. John is a hard taskmaster who will accept nothing less than perfection in his sons, so the accusation was more force of habit rather than honest, thoughtful disappointment. Of course there is the fact that John does not truly understand the pressures and leverage that the demon rallied against Dean's mutilated, unintelligible body. I have no doubt that after his own shockingly easy submission, ( **using the same family abandonment issues) he will realize his monumental faux pas!

* Dean was 'weak' or more accurately 'vulnerable' though this mental lapse stems from a fear of not being good enough and consequently and consistently abandoned by his closest family members. John's tough marine exterior will not allow him to show the praise and comforting nurture that would allow Dean to thrive more healthily.

**Whilst it is true that John did suffer greatly with loss in his lifetime his issues were from an more adult perspective and self-inflicted and so far less relevant than Dean's. But of course the demon is a master of cunning deception, as are all cult leaders.

I would further hazard that John's anger and frustration at Dean is also borne of fright and guilt. Having Dean back and with his constant lapses John is fuming and vengeful....which it appears is his default mode....lol. There also seems to be some jealousy at play the sort that latches on when your own blood deny's his true father and accepts another...Some kind of Freudian thingy going on here....haha.

"Insufferable" Mei was precious....I think the pot is calling the kettle....hahaha.

Dean's self-flagellation is distressing after all that he has gone through and John is only making matters worse by his continued failure vibe and mistrust. Dean is burdened by his apparent failings, he messed up a hunt, ppl died and he couldn't save them. The narrative is rife with uncertainty, doubt and tension,

I definitely thought it both appropriate and crucial that both John and Mei witnessed Fairy's utterly broken and conquered mind and body. The devastatingly violent image was a powerful awakening of the events that conspired.

The ebullient prose that so effectively described the demons mutation and eventual death was enthralling the visuals so very lucid.

Lastly, I thought there was a certain ethereal gentleness and catharsis in Dean's surrender and his fragility. His attachment to John and Sam is his Achilles Heal which makes him an easy target and the pishacha played on that. But it's Dean's pure selfless soul and willingness to help that is a wonder. His ultimate triumph over evil (saving everyone) was liberating, passionate and so very cleansing.....Its a kind of poetic justice.

So, Job done! (sort of)

Now, about that "little nick" ...that's gotta be the understatement of the year. Poor Dean.... all that's left is for him to be saved in return, amongst other things.

PS I glad that Dean got to say goodbye to Maureen and that she offered a sense of forgiveness/love for his faultlessness through her dip and sway motions. Beautiful.

I hope I didn't waffle to much.
I think I need a Beta! Haha
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 22nd, 2013 08:41 pm (UTC)
Yep...John is pretty much everything you said. He expects Dean to shake it off...to always be fine, because he NEEDS him to be...and in most cases, Dean is. He's always been John's "rock". It set's John's world off balance when Dean is that stolid, stoic boy who can carry a thousand times his own weight. Instead of checking to see WHY Dean is sagging...John just "giddy-yups" louder. That's his way. Sometimes that way works...but it clearly, CLEARLY isn't working here.

I do think that John is lashing out because his fear was so great, too. AND, I absolutely believe there is jealousy at play, too. And having Dean turn to a different father forces John to look at himself...and that's NOT something he's prepared to do. And it is because of his unwillingness to look at himself here, that the hunt nearly ends in catastrophe. He overestimated his (and Dean's) ability to "shake" things off and underestimated Father's ability to find one's vulnerabilities. Just because you ignore your issues...doesn't mean that you don't have any. Heh. Lesson learned for John!

Thanks so very, VERY much!

Kat
aerynsun5: beer bottle!Deanaerynsun5 on October 26th, 2013 05:32 pm (UTC)
(I commented last night, but stupid LJ was apparently broken. Stupid LJ.)

This was a great trip! I loved all of it. The way you showed how Dean's loneliness and insecurities made him so vulnerable to the cult was very well handled. It really tore my heart sometimes. And John Winchester? Take that, you jerk. Good that you had a little teachable moment.

And Mei? She was excellent. You did a really fine job with her.

All in all, a great job. Thanks for posting.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 26th, 2013 06:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you so very much, aeryn...I'm so glad you liked it. John really did get a huge reality check here. I honestly don't think the man ever considered his OWN weaknesses in this situation, but he really was just as vulnerable to Father's "charms". Good lesson for him.

Thanks again!

Kat
aerynsun5: smirkypen!Deanaerynsun5 on October 26th, 2013 05:38 pm (UTC)
For some reason, my comment showed up at the end of Chapter 13, rather than 14. Stupid LJ.

Also, I just friended you, hope that's OK.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 26th, 2013 06:06 pm (UTC)
That's not a problem. I friended you right back. :)