delanach_dw: (Soul)
[personal profile] delanach_dw




Back to Part One

Work turns out to be training. Not running and sparring and knife work, although sometimes there’s a knife called an athame involved, but learning how to focus his mind. Eve tells him that it’s the first step on his journey and he’s come to trust her, so he faces the challenge as he’s faced every other challenge in his life. Head on. It turns out to be harder than he thought. He often wonders if Sam, with all the power in his veins, would have found this easier.

He’s been standing in the middle of the room, eyes closed, breathing the deep cleansing breaths she’d taught him when he’d arrived for almost half an hour. He’s beginning to feel light headed, and wonders of that’s part of the process.

Eve walks slowly round him in a wide circle.

“Think of your mind as a tool. A workman keeps his tools in good order, and this is no different.”

“Weapons are more my thing.” Dean explains. He knows weapons, knows how important it is to keep them sharp, clean, ready for action. That he can relate to.

“Yes.” Eve reluctantly agrees. “But without the violence.”

“Okay.”

“And part of keeping this weapon sharp, is keeping a clear head.”

Dean looks uncomfortable. He knows he’s drinking too much, has been for years, but he doesn’t know how easy it would be to give it up.

After more breath work, he leaves, clutching the book she’s given him to read. He’s pensive as he drives home to Lisa. By the time he gets there, he’s made some decisions. The next morning, when she gets up to do her early morning yoga practice, he asks if he can join in. The way she looks at him makes it plain that she thinks he’s seeing it as a prelude to sex. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing, but that’s not what he’s after this time.

She takes him through the movements and he enjoys the stretch of muscles and tendons, the way they lengthen and flex. Afterwards, he leaves her with a kiss, and goes for a run. He knows that he’ll pay for all this the next day, but it feels good to be training again, so he pushes himself a little further before he heads home.

At breakfast, Ben raises his eyebrows when Dean follows Lisa’s lead and helps himself to a bowl of granola, and a glass of the green juice she drinks. Dean grimaces as he drinks it, and Ben laughs at him, teasing him about his sudden health kick.

Dean promises him that they’ll still go for burgers once a week at the burger joint just off main street. They sell the best bacon cheeseburgers on the planet, and it’s become a ritual for him and Ben.

By the time he goes to see Eve again, he’s aching from head to toe, and his digestive system is still settling down after the shock it had adjusting to a healthy diet. He also hasn’t had a drink for a week.

“You look better.” Eve approves and hands him a mug of coffee.

He takes it from her and slurps it down like a man dying of thirst while she watches with amusement.

“That’s all you’re getting until we’re done.” She warns him.

He looks at her wide eyed, but she smiles and ignores his silent pleas.


The first year is all about learning, gathering knowledge and how to put it into practice. He learns how to open himself up to concepts and ideas that he’d shied away from in the past, and he learns how to open himself to the universe, how to let it in and how to understand it. She teaches him rituals and spells, small at first, growing more powerful until he can pluck the petals off a floating rose. He thinks it’s a cheesy spell, if hard to master, and he wishes he could show Lisa, but he doesn’t want to scare her.

Every week Eve gives him a book to read before he next sees her.

He studies the elements, what each one is associated with. Air, he learns, is related to thought processes, reasoning and intellect, while fire is fueled by passion, desire and strength. Water governs emotions and intuition, and is by nature unpredictable while earth is the hardest to rouse given it’s qualities of stability, foundation and, very aptly, family.

Eve teaches him how to cast a circle, a circle that offers more protection than one made of salt. In no time at all, he wields the athame as if he’s been doing it all his life. Blades he knows, even if calling on the horned god sounds all kinds of crazy the first time he does it.

He also researches exorcisms. The one he needs isn’t something that can be found in a book. He crafts it himself from ancient texts and words of power. He learns it by heart, and as his knowledge grows, he changes it, strengthens it. It evolves as he does and he knows it will be years in the making.

The hardest part is accepting, then learning how to use the fact that time doesn’t exist. That every second of every minute of every hour of every day exists in the same instance. The moment of birth, the moment of death, and every moment in between are here, now, and if he has faith, if he learns how to live in the moment, and therefore in every moment, he can transcend time, space, reality, and be exactly where he needs to be at exactly the right moment.

All the time, Eve impresses upon him the need to change his understanding of time, to visualize every moment existing as one. She drill into him that this is the key, and he spends hours meditating on that, trying to understand what it means.

“If you want it enough, there’s nothing you can’t do.” Is one of Eve’s mantras, one he knows well. And he holds onto that thought when he’s tired and frustrated and thinking that he’s never getting Sam back.

Sometimes, he and Eve go walking in the woods behind her home. The first few times, she asks him to be aware of his surroundings, to reach out with all his senses to really experience the world. He begins to get it. Begins not just to know but to feel how everything is connected, how the elements shape the world. Occasionally, they sit, cross legged and quiet in a clearing deep in the woods.

Dean closes his eyes and breathes deeply. He’s long past feeling self conscious when he’s doing something he would have previously labeled as New Agey, or hippy, or even worse, witchcraft. His mind drifts, full of nothing but the sound of the breeze in the trees around them. As he opens himself more, He becomes aware of a nearby stream, the water lazily sloshing around rocks as it flows. Now he adds focus, breathing out, then breathing in deeply and holding it, imagining that with that breath, he’s holding the world still around him in one single moment.

It’s an exercise he’s done many times before, visualizing the whole world halting, becoming perfectly still, waiting for him to exhale before it can move on. Every time he feels more centered, more able.

He holds the breath and realizes that it’s silent now in the glade. There’s no sound of a breeze, no sound of the stream. Slowly, he opens his eyes. To the left of him, a butterfly hangs in the air, wings in mid beat.

Shock hits him like a sledge hammer, and the breath rushes out of his lungs, leaving him choking. He pitches forward onto all fours and then freezes as the breeze that’s ruffling the grass pauses, and slides deliberately across the back of his neck. He feels it as clearly as if a hand had touched him and he stares ahead, wide eyed.

“Dean?” Eve gets up from where she was sitting, and helps him to his feet. She gives him a triumphant grin.

“The butterfly was just hanging there.” Dean glances around, clearly freaked out. “And something touched my neck.”

“Now they know you exist, they felt what you did. They’ll be watching you.”

From that point, from the point at which he first held a moment in the palm of his hand, his thirst for knowledge increases a thousand fold.


All the time he’s working with Eve, he also lives a full life. He has a family, he has a job working on construction sites, and he is single mindedly pursuing a goal that most people would think he was crazy to even consider.

One weekend, he takes a couple of extra days off work, and drives Lisa and Ben to California. He rents them a small beach house and they spend three days playing on the beach and having barbecues. He feels so close to the forces he’s coming to know. Sand and sea and wind are ever present, and even fire makes an appearance as he lights the grill each night. They’ve all been swimming, splashing around and laughing as they get tossed around by the waves, and on the last night, after Lisa and Ben are both asleep, Dean slips down onto the beach alone.

He leaves a towel and his board shorts on the edge of the sea, and wades in, kicking off against the sand beneath his feet and swimming out until he’s way out of his depth. He lies back, arms and legs spreading so he floats on the top of the water like a starfish. He gazes up at the crescent moon, heart quickening as he watches a falling star streak across the sky. He dives deep, strong limbs working against the water, pulling him through it until he fears his lungs will rupture from a lack of air. He bursts through the waves, throwing himself back into the water, grinning to himself. He plays like a child until he begins to tire and he floats on his back again. He closes his eyes, feels the tug and pull of the current below him, and wonders where he’d end up if he let it take him away. He opens his mind, baring it to the elements, letting himself drift for what could be minutes or could be hours. Below him, the ocean is deep, endless, wild and untamed, so powerful it could pick him up and dash him against the shore, yet it chooses to hold him safely in its embrace, and slowly, he floats back towards dry land.

He stands on the edge of the ocean while the breeze dries his skin, then pulls his shorts back on and heads back to the beach house. Quietly, he opens the door to the kitchen to find Lisa sitting at the table.

“I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist one last swim.” She tells him, getting up and walking towards him.

He wraps her in his arms and kisses her, long and deep. Her hair is soft between his fingers and she tastes of mint and musk. He takes her hand and leads her back to the bedroom that overlooks the beach.

The second year is devoted to honing his skills.

He takes everything he knows, and practices, devoting himself to becoming stronger. But it’s also about letting go. He’s becoming confident in his abilities, but he needs to believe in himself completely, and that’s still hard for him to do. He’s spent so much of his life putting himself second, thinking of himself as someone with little importance. Eve sees that there are heavily lingering shades of low self esteem, and that just will not do.

Eve suggests a sweat lodge to help rid him of any lingering demons. Dean snorts with laugher at that, but he still finds himself sitting opposite her in a small tent draped with animal skins. There’s a pungent aroma of herbs in the overly hot air, some, like sage and rosemary he recognizes, nut there are scents mingled in with them that he doesn’t know. He glares at Eve across the fire pit, wondering what else she put in the mix.

She ignores the gaze, and continues to keep up a steady rhythm on the drum she’s holding on her knee. Dean’s eyelids feel heavy, even though his mind is razor sharp, so he lets his eyes close and his thoughts drift. Memories surface, of Sam mainly, but also of family and the few people that have meant a lot to him like Bobby. But the memories turn inside out, and instead of seeing his family, he sees himself through their eyes.

The pride John had in his son shines like a beacon, as does the love his mother felt for him constantly through the four short years she had with him. Bobby too, pride and love at the man he grew into, even Ellen and Jo, and he’s hit by how much he misses them. Castiel’s admiration for his humanity touches him, and then there’s Sam, growing from a child’s adoration of a big brother to a man’s respect for the same, even if the trust between them had been tenuous over the last few years.

Tears leak from the corner of Dean’s eyes, and he wakes up lying on his side, Eve’s hand brushing across his forehead, soothing him.

“They love me.” He whispers, not sure he’s said it out loud.

Eve waits until he’s ready to leave, then helps him out of the tent ant to his feet. Back in the house, he calls Lisa, and tells her he’s going to crash on Eve’s couch. He’s not ready to leave, he wants to stay wrapped up in the magic for a little while longer. Eve makes him chamomile tea and insists he at least sip it. When he settles on the couch, exhausted and shaky, she tucks a blanket around him.

“It’s all about love,” She tells him as he looks up at her through tired eyes. “Love’s at the core of everything and what you’re attempting to do has to be done with love. You’re seeking to weave powerful magic and it will be strongest if it has its roots in love.”

He snorts and closes his eyes. Back when he was set on the suicide mission that was giving himself up to Michael, and Adam had asked what plan they had going, he’d said they were using the power of love. Turns out that was the answer after all, only now Dean doesn’t have either brother there to crow at.

When he wakes up in the morning, he’s refreshed, as if he slept for a week, and he makes Eve pancakes as a way to show her, without having to say the words, that he loves her too. She’s become a friend, and he’s thankful to have found her.

Later that day, he calls Bobby for the first time in months. He gets his ear chewed off for not keeping in touch, and he promises to visit.

After the experience in the sweat lodge, he pushes himself further than he ever thought he could go, and he emerges from each test stronger than before, yet more humble. He comes to know himself, and along the way, his self worth blossoms while his self doubt fades.

The third year is the toughest.

Frustration eats at him at times, threatening the well honed focus that he’s built up over the years. Just after the second anniversary of Sam’s death, he goes on a drinking binge. It’s harsh and ugly, and it leaves him gasping for air and puking until his stomach aches. He doesn’t go to see Eve for two weeks. His resolve is at an all time low and he’s tired of waiting, tired of getting ready to do something. He wants action and he wants it now.

He turns up on her doorstep almost bristling with hostility.

“I’m ready, I can do this.”

“Really?” Eve’s stare is neutral and it annoys him.

“Yes, I’ve been strong enough for months.”

“Well, go ahead.” Eve shrugs.

Dean storms out, across the yard and into the trees to the place the sweat lodge stands. He casts a circle with his athame, and calls down the elements. Soon, the wind is whipping around the clearing, unseasonal rain pouring out of the sky as a storm brews above his head. He concentrates, and feels the world around him stop, but something isn’t right, and below his feet, the earth shudders violently enough to bring him to his knees and his focus is lost.

He stares up at Eve.

“Why didn’t it work? I’m strong enough!”

“Remember the conversation we had on intent? It doesn’t pay to mess with the elements when you’re pissed off.”

Eve walks back to the house, and Dean follows with a sigh. He knows she’s right, but lately the idea of Sam still being trapped below his feet has been preying on his mind. When he gets to the kitchen, Eve’s got a towel ready for him, He dries his hair and sheepishly sits down at the table while she makes them coffee.

They don’t mention his outburst again, although he’s slightly alarmed when the local news station reports a minor earthquake in the area. It’s enough to make him think twice about charging in before he’s ready.


His resolve falters again a few months later, when it hits him and hits him hard that he’ll be giving up his life with Lisa and Ben when he goes through with his plan. He often wonders if it would have been easier to leave them, let them get on with their lives while he learned what it meant to be an alchemist, a sorcerer. But he doesn’t know if he would have been able to do it if he hadn’t had them there, a family, to help keep him strong.

One weekend, he camps out on a remote ridge, alone with the elements he’s come to know so well. He takes all that he’s learned and bares his soul, inviting in the elemental forces that shape the world. They rip through him, tearing him into shreds on the wind, pulling him to the ends of the earth until he becomes one with the universe then they slam him back together again. He’s left, panting and naked, exhausted, and exhilarated, every muscle energized and alive. He gets to his feet, and screams his joy out over the mountains. It echoes back at him, and he could live in that moment forever.

A few weeks later, he takes Ben to the same place for a camping trip. They hike up to the ridge, make camp, and sit round their small fire as darkness falls telling ghost stories. The next day, they walk along the ridge, and Dean’s heart fills with joy at the look of wonder on Ben’s face as they look out over the mountains. This is one of the hardest things he will have to leave behind. The boy that could be his son, but he knows that he hasn’t got long, and resolves to make the most of it.


The next time he’s arranged to see Eve, he arrives early. She smiles at him, but the smile falters when she looks into his eyes.

“It’s time?”

He nods. She puts a hand on his face, looking at him with an ageless love in her pale blue eyes. Then she’s hugging him tight, a gesture he returns.

“Will I see you again?”

“I hope so.” Now she smiles at him, and seats him at the table.

She hands him a piece of black cloth. It’s covered in stitches that form a pattern and he recognizes the words she’s embroidered below a fist from which blood trickles down to warm, brown earth.

“My blood for yours.” He whispers. He’s never said that out loud to Eve, he said it to the pregnant woman who’s name he’d never known.

His eyes snap to Eve’s, but she shakes her head.

“By now you should know better than to ask. Trust your instincts.”

Dean nods, and impulsively bends forward as he stands to go, and places a soft kiss on the witch's cheek.

“Thank you.”

She smiles at him and watches him go.


That night, he checks on Ben and places a kiss on his forehead, whispering goodbye to the sleeping boy. In the morning he does the same with Lisa, slipping out before she wakes, climbing into the Impala and driving off. He doesn’t look back. If he does, he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to leave.


Belief is half of it, ritual is the other, the exact placement of words and actions to bring about a feat that even the most powerful alchemists would shy from.

Dean stands on the spot that he’d last seen Sam. He remembers the scared but determined look in his eye as he let himself fall backwards, pulling Adam, Lucifer and Michael with him.

The door to the cage could be opened anywhere, but the rituals must be performed here, where Sam last stood on the earth. Time, as Dean has discovered, isn’t so important, but it seemed fitting that he did this on the third anniversary of the event.

The markings on his body, one for each of the elements, will anchor him, keep him tethered in one spot, one moment, until he’s ready. He knows the words he needs as well as he knows the lyrics of his favorite Led Zeppelin tracks, the ones that are so much a part of him that he doesn’t think about it when he sings out loud.

When he first embarked on his journey, he would have objected to performing the ritual naked. But now he strips off his clothes and leaves them neatly folded on the front seat of the Impala, his leather jacket on the top of the pile.

The grass is coarse beneath his feet as he walks towards the place he needs to be and faces north. He takes a few cleansing breaths, relaxing and opening himself to the elements. Slowly, they come to him. A soft breeze stirs and plays around his shoulders, and the sky darkens a little as rain clouds form and mist the air. Fire and earth are harder to rouse, and Dean talks to them, asking for their help. The clouds above him grow black, and sparks fly between them, but the earth stays silent.

Now he chants, old words, seldom heard in the modern world. As he says them, he channels his energy down into the ground, opening himself up, letting the elements test him. When the ground trembles, almost imperceptibly he throws his arms wide, and invites them in.

The wind howls around him now, wrapping him in the eye of his very own hurricane. Rain pelts down, drenching him, his hair sticking to the side of his face. Lightning crackles in the air and beneath his feet, the earth rumbles, a deep shockwave, finally acknowledging his touch. He takes the athame, and slices a shallow cut across one palm, raising his hand into the air, offering up his life’s blood. The wind whips droplets from his skin, the rain washes the blood down his arm, down his body, to drip onto the earth, where fire flicks from the sky to taste it. They take his offering, and return it a thousand fold.

Now, they dance for him, the wind and rain, fire and dirt. He commands them with a thought or a flick of his finger. The power that courses through him is unparalleled. The elements know this, they feel the strength in him, but they do not bow to is will out of fear, they bend to his will out of respect. This man, this human, could command them, could break them, but he doesn’t. He has a goal, a purpose, an unselfish quest that he needs to complete. He is strong enough to take whatever he wants from the world, but he doesn’t. And because of this, primal forces are compelled to aid him. Dean’s soul is alight with power. It crackles at his fingertips, and he knows that right then, he could do anything.

So he does.

In a perfect moment of clarity, everything stops. Dean takes a deep breath, focuses on Sam, and exhales …

The wind still whips around him, but he’s lying on the ground, back against the Impala, his face an agonizing mess of broken skin and fractured bone. Disorientated, he knows he has to act fast. He begins chanting. Even as he does, Sam closes his eyes and lets go, falling back, dragging Adam with him.

Dean staggers to his feet, words still pouring from his mouth as events slowly unfold as they did before. His voice rises, a crescendo heard above the raging storm that now fills the graveyard. He pours every last drop of strength into the words, relaxing as everything stills again, an eye of a storm, the air still and clear. He walks to the edge of the pit, and holds the key over it.

Now the words are dark, dusty, ancient and guttural. The key glows hot in his hand but he doesn’t flinch. He cuts a nick in his finger, and lets the blood drip onto the glowing metal. It flares, and he cries out as it brands his skin, deep and permanent, the sign he’s been waiting for, the sign that he’s almost there.

“My blood for yours.” His voice resonates, and the wind picks up again, quivering in anticipation.

“My blood for yours!” Dean’s voice rises, and the earth rumbles, ready to play it’s part.

“My blood for yours!!” Dean shouts to the heavens, and drops the bloodied key into the open doorway as lightening crackles around his head. His body jack-knifes, unseen forces slamming into him. He falls to his knees, falls forward onto all fours.

“My blood for yours.” He whispers as the rain begins again, hard and relentless.

Lightening cracks down into the pit, and the earth groans as it heals itself, closing the rift opened by the horsemen’s rings. As the ground reforms, two figures can be seen lying on the sparse grass. Dean crawls towards them, heart pounding in his chest. Adam’s shade gets slowly to its feet, leaving his body behind. He stares around, and then down at Dean. Adam smiles and nods his thanks then dissolves into myriad points of light that dissipate into the sunrise.

Dean reaches Sam’s side, turning him over and checking him for injuries, even though his own are bad enough to warrant hospital attention.

Sam blinks, once, twice, then focuses on Dean.

“What happened? Where’s Lucifer?”

“In the cage with Michael.”

“What about Adam?”

“He’s where he was supposed to be.” Dean says, glancing at the body lying on the grass next to Sam with an edge of sadness in his voice. But he can’t dismiss the incredible joy in his heart at having Sam back. He lived without him for three years, and it’s not something Dean wants to go through again.

“How am I here?” Sam asks, puzzled that the plan didn’t go the way he expected.

“Long story, Sammy.” Dean collapses back onto the grass.

Sam looms over him, worry creasing his brow. Dean grins up at him through his shattered face.

“It’s okay, it’s gonna be okay.” He reassures his brother.

He’s dimly aware of Castiel walking up to them, then a finger touches his face and he’s whole again.

“You’re different.” The angel observes.

Dean nods, but doesn’t elaborate. Then Bobby is at their side, squeezing his shoulder and looking at Sam with awe.

“Apparently, it’s a long story.” Sam tells him, eyeing Dean.


They wrap Adam’s body in a blanket from the Impala’s trunk, and drive him to an open, secluded spot that Castiel promises is remote enough to carry out the hunter’s funeral ritual. Adam is placed upon a pyre of sticks and branches, but when Sam picks up the can of gasoline, Dean shakes his head and holds him back.

He doesn’t use elaborate hand movements or complicated incantations. He has no need of them. Instead, he lets out a deep breath, and asks fire for assistance. Fire answers, small sparks setting light to the smaller, driest sticks, building to flames that lick around the enshrouded body.

He knows they are watching him, Sam and Bobby and Cas, but explanations will have to wait.

In minutes, the fire is burning bright and hot, warming the three hunters and the angel as they silently say goodbye to a man none of them had the chance to get to know.

This time, Sam doesn’t suggest that Castiel could bring Adam back, and for that, Dean is grateful. Adam is in the place he needs to be, his rightful place. If Dean’s learned anything over the past three years, it’s that everything has a place in the grander scheme of things, everything has a time to die. That the universe didn’t hamper his attempts to do what he’s done shows Dean that it was meant to be.


Dean and Sam part ways with Bobby, promising to go and see him as soon as Dean is done with his unfinished business. Bobby hugs them both, manly hugs that might linger a little longer than they did before their adventures. He’s glad to have both his boys alive and well and un-possessed. He looks in Dean’s eyes as he pulls away, pausing for a second.

“What did you do?”

“Nothing bad.” He smiles and shakes his head.

“You still owe us an explanation.” Bobby warns, and leaves, reminding them he expects to see them within the week.


Dean’s unfinished business is Lisa and Ben. Sam fidgets nervously as Dean turns the Impala onto roads he knows like the back of his hand. Dean knows why Sam is wary. He hasn’t forgotten the promise Sam forced him to make and wonders if his brother thinks he’ll choose to stay with Lisa.

“I want to make sure she’s okay. I spooked her pretty bad last time I saw her.” He reassures Sam. And, for Lisa, it’s the truth. The last time she saw Dean, he was saying goodbye and telling her not to worry, that he’d insisted on a few conditions that would keep her safe. She’ll look at him with curiosity in her eyes, not really knowing the man on her doorstep.

But the last time Dean saw her, he was saying goodbye without using words, kissing her, holding her close, knowing that he was giving up a life well lived with a good woman who loved him and a boy who might as well have been his son. Giving it up for Sam. Giving it up for love.

When they get there, Lisa pours them tall glasses of lemonade. Dean’s is only half finished when he asks Lisa if they can go into the garden. It’s hard for him being there, in such familiar surroundings, yet knowing that he doesn’t belong. Not now. Dean can see Sam sitting in the kitchen through the window. He’s trying not to watch them, trying to give them some privacy, but Dean can see he’s still anxious, knows Sam’s tells too well.

Dean takes Lisa’s hand, twining their fingers together. He’s not hesitant, it looks like he’s done it a hundred times or more. Lisa startles, but settles quickly, smiling shyly. Dean smiles too, then his arms wrap around her, holding her close. Dean drinks in her familiar scent. She was his for three years, gave him a family and a home, and he’s taken that away from her and from himself. Her fingers rest on his neck, smoothing the short hairs at his nape just like she used to when they were lying together in bed. The breath hitches in Dean’s throat.

“I … I dreamt of you. You lived here, with me and Ben. We were a family.” He holds her closer and tries his best not to tear up. He knew he would lose this, but the reality hurts more than he could imagine. He loves her, but he had no choice but to give her up.

“I know you have to go, but if you pass this way again, you’d be welcome to visit.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, it feels right, feels like this is where you belong.”

“Thank you.” Dean whispers, the few tears he sheds getting lost in her hair.


Sam visibly relaxes as they drive away. Dean doesn’t know yet how much he’s going to tell him about how he got him out of the cage by stopping him falling in the first place. He doesn’t want to lie to Sam, but he knows that he risks weighing Sam down with a huge guilt trip if he tells him everything. And that’s something he doesn’t want to happen.

They drive through the centre of the town Dean called home for a handful of years, and pull up outside Celtic Spirit. Sam quirks a curious eyebrow at Dean.

“Won’t be long.” Dean gets out of the car and enters the store before Sam can join him.

There’s a small, plump, friendly faced woman behind the counter. Dean wonders if Eve had staff before he began visiting her, because he’d never seen anyone else working in the store.

“Is Eve in today?” He asks the woman, a little taken aback by her laughter.

“I’m Eve. How can I help you today? Love potion perhaps?”

“No, I er … is there another Eve, the one that owns the store?”

“I own the store, have done for twenty years.” The woman explains slowly, as if she’s talking to a child. “As far as I know, I’m the only Eve in town.”

Dean can feel himself paling at the implications. His Eve doesn’t exist here, and he's too shocked to think of a logical explanation. Dean apologizes to the woman, and leaves. He stands outside the store, staring at the ground until he feels Sam standing beside him.

“Dean? Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I just … I thought I knew the store owner. Turns out I didn’t.”

Sam squeezes his shoulder, and steers him back to the car. The revelation tests Dean’s well earned confidence. The woman he spent time with over three years, someone he called friend, doesn’t exist. He doesn’t want to dwell on the implications of that. Instead, he grounds himself in the moment, something he learned well. In this moment, Sam is with him, whole and healthy, and Dean wants to bask in that, so he does.

“Are you hungry? I’m starving and there’s a burger joint just off main street that does the best cheeseburgers.”

“Yeah, I could go for a burger.” Sam agrees.

They get them to go. Dean drives them out into wilder country, where the grass is lush and emerald. Dean pulls into a deserted rest stop on the edge of a wood. The trees rustle, stirred by a soft breeze. They sit at a picnic table and eat, both quiet in the presence of food.

After they’ve finished, Sam gets up and wanders back to the Impala in search of a couple of beers from the cooler. Dean thinks on Eve, wonders where she went, why she’d been there at all. It hadn’t been a dream, he knew that.

Something catches his attention by the tree line, and he looks up sharply. Slowly he gets to his feet, staring at Eve, who smiles back at him. She nods, and takes a step closer, and as she moves, she morphs into the pregnant woman he met in the park years earlier. Her belly is swollen again, and she rests a hand on it as she looks at him and smiles. One step more, and she changes again, this time into a girl of around sixteen. She wears a simple dress over a body beginning to bloom into womanhood, her long limbs browned by the sun, flowers woven through her long, vibrant red hair. She grins at him, pale blue eyes sparkling and he grins back, happiness bursting in his chest as he understands.

The sound of Sam closing the Impala’s trunk breaks the moment, and she laughs out loud, mischievous and wild, before running back into the trees.

Dean is awestruck, humbled, and so very grateful for everything that he owes Her.

Laughter bubbles up in his chest. It pours out of him, refreshing as a mountain spring, infusing his soul with joy.

“Dean?” Sam’s wary as he approaches.

Dean turns to face him, the laughter easing back to a wide grin.

“Did you see that? By the edge of the woods?” Sam looks over into the trees.

Dean shakes his head. He knows that there are things he needs to tell Sam. Dean’s not the same man he was before this all went down, but he’s still Sam’s brother. He’s tasted power so strong that he knows he could use it to set himself up as a king, but he won’t. He had a purpose, a goal, and he’s achieved that. He followed his heart, even though it still broke in two, because Eve had been right. In getting what he wanted, he lost something too. But he can live with that. Sam is back where he belongs.

Dean smiles at his brother. He takes the bottle from Sam’s outstretched hand and drinks deep before answering him.

“It was just the wind in the trees.”

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January 2011

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