NOTE:

Help, I've been kidnapped by Supernatural fanfic! And I'm not sure if it's a bad thing or not. LOL.

I do realize that my stories are Mary Sue's. I just hope I'm good enough that they don't come off as such. After all, how many stories can I write where two magical/supernatural ass kicking brothers have a mysterious sister? Well, quite a lot actually but does it make it right?

But then this story idea came to me and I just could not give up on it. It even has a reflection story idea where Lauren was 'rescued' by John Winchester instead of the boys. Damn plot bunnies. They're worse to get rid of then cockroaches.

But onto the story.

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The Rat Pack pt 1

by StarWindDancer

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Edith Winterbourne wasn't a side kick, she was considered Hero support. And when John Winchester met her, he found more then hero support.

And he remembered.

He remembered everything that he'd forgotten in the last 6 years since Mary passed away. He remembered the silken feel of a woman, the fragrance of a woman, the feel of a woman's hair as he ran his fingers thru curls. He remembered to put the seat down. He remembered what all those mysterious bottles in the shower were for.

It was probably the first time he'd used conditioner on his hair since Mary died. And when he shaved his beard, the boys ran and hid. They didn't even recognize their father.

And for a little while, he dreamed of a regular life with a regular family with regular things.

He surprised Edith as much as himself when he got onto one knee and proposed, pressing the gold bank into her hand, curling her fingers around it and kissing the soft, feminine digits.

"Please say yes."

Edith looked into his eyes, tears streaming from her own. She held the fist with the ring next to her heart and reached out with the other hand, running fingers along a scraped cheek. He'd gotten the small claw marks on his last hunting trip. She traced a blue, green lump on his forehead. A memento of the trip before last.

Edith held out her hand, uncurling her fingers from the ring, looking at the golden band in the dim light.

John barely heard the whispered "I can't."

She looked into his eyes again, her heart visibly breaking.

"I can't let you marry me, John."

When he tried to protest, she got on her knees in front of him, pressing her fingers to his lips. "Mary is still your life, John. She's still everything to you. I can't… I won't let you forget her. Your quest will always be there, will always consume you. And I know you can't put it aside. I wish; I desperately wish I could say yes. I don't mind living in a woman's shadow but The Quest, everything you've done and seen and learned… I just can't, John." She pressed the ring back into his hand and ran, crying.

The boys and him packed up and moved out that night. Dean snarking and complaining the whole time.

"But I like Edith, dad. Can't we stay?"

Sammy just curled up in his arms and didn't say anything. His hazel eyes wide and knowing.

And watching those eyes stare at him in the rear view mirror on the way back from a hunt in Connecticut, John understood Edith was right. She was more right then she ever knew.

It was for the best.

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Still, one year later, the Winchester men visited Edith Winterbourne and her 5 month old daughter.

John stayed up the whole first night, watching her breath, smelling the baby scent. Little baby Lauren had the same intelligent, knowing look that haunted Sammy but with the hint of green mischief that Dean had in his.

And for a while, John dreamed and remembered. He wouldn't even let Edith take the little baby girl from him when it needed changing. Instead he did it himself, 7 years out of practice.

But dreams ended and John knew how right Edith was to say no before.

He knew it was time to leave, that he wouldn't be seeing Edith or little baby Lauren again even before Dean started throwing up, Sammy getting nose bleeds, the witches gazing balls cracked and broke, and the protective sigils he'd carved onto the house the year before burned away.

The evil and pain in his life clung to him like tar, tainting him and his soul. Too late he realized the cancerous evil that took over his life. If John didn't leave, one day he'd wake up with Edith on the ceiling, her stomach slashed open and fire crackling.

It was all a dream and as he handed the little baby girl back to Edith, he kissed the little head with its sprouting colorless curls and kissed Edith goodbye.

And as he drove away, it was the first time John found himself crying over something that wasn't Mary. He kept trying to convince himself it was ok as he slipped the rejected wedding ring onto the string around his neck, next to the just as small, oblong ring next to his heart.

It really was for the best. It had to be.

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-+- 15 years later -+-

"Hello?" Dean said into his cell phone as he slowed down, getting into the right lane. He didn't bother turning down the radio because Sam was, gratefully, turning it off before the older brother could move. He turned the phone away from his mouth before griping at Sam. "That's coming back on in a minute."

Sam groaned.

Dean turned his attention back to the phone, frowning. "Hello?"

After a few silent seconds, a shy female voice asked, "Are you Dean Winchester?"

Dean frowned. "Yes."

"And is Sammy Winchester there too?"

"Yeah."

Dean shot his brother a worried glare before turning off the highway. He turned the phone so that his brother could listen in.

"Edith Winterbourne is dead. The shadow man killed her." Silence.

That name, Dean could remember that name from somewhere. It was someone important. He felt a cold shiver run down his back.

"Where are you? Who's the shadow man? What happened to Edith Winterbourne?"

The young woman's voice rattled off an address, postage style, in a long hurried breath. Sam had to scramble to write it all down. He had to check twice to make sure he got the numbers right. They asked for a phone number but the voice cracked, starting to cry a little.

"Please, hurry. You need to get here soon. He wants to kill me too."

Dean handed off the phone to Sam, pulling the car back onto the highway and pushing the accelerator.

"Have you gone to the authorities? Told them someone is after you? Is there anyone you can stay with?" Sam asked. He knew that if this young woman, belatedly realizing they hadn't gotten her name, would be in trouble and wouldn't get much help from the cops. But she had to try, at least they could hold off this shadow man for a while, until the brothers got there.

The woman sobbed brokenly, a few deep breaths, then replied, semi-stably. "They can't help. He comes at night. He comes in the darkness."

"Don't worry, we're on our way," Dean said, gripping the wheel tight.

"Please," the voice whispered before hanging up.

Sam looked at the phone stunned, confused. He punched a few buttons, hoping to get to a caller ID; get as much details as he could. He was surprised when he found Edith Winterbourne in Dean's address book, the number that had just called them.

"Do you know who Edith Winterbourne is? She's in your caller list."

"The name's familiar but I don't know. I got a lot of phone numbers from dad's cell and contact list. I don't know how half of them know dad."

"We should get there by tomorrow night. Do you think we'll be in time?"

Dean snorted, pressing on the accelerator as he moved into the inner lane. "We'll get there, Sammy. Don't worry about that. Just rest up. You'll be taking the midnight drive run."

Sam groaned. He hated driving thru the night. But then, he didn't sleep much thru the night either.

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They arrived mid after noon in a run down neighborhood in front of a house with a chain link fence and the yard overgrown with weeds. A sign out front proclaiming 'Dandelion Preserve.'

Dean was quite amused at that and couldn't help laughing.

"Actually, Dean, I think its right. There are a lot of uses Dandelions have as a medicinal herb. The leaves are highly nutritious and the flower heads are great at calming stomachs."

"Do you eat encyclopedias while I sleep? Only you would know this stuff."

"Not just me. Lots of back to nature and organics type know this. We're standing in it. Over there, comfrey. I see at least 7 kinds of mint and a dozen of basil. Rosemary, thyme, patchouli, stevia leaf, feverfew, witch hazel, lemon balm, and others. This is a great herb garden. There's a few I don't even recognize."

"There's wood betony. Yeah, I know some herb things too, Sammy. Don't look surprised. Wood betony is not easy to get, either. Dad and I had to order it special for a job once."

"Is this one of dad's secret suppliers?"

"Probably, check out the artwork on the side of the house. Pretty specific to our line of work."

The brothers made their way carefully thru the herb garden to the corner of the house. Within visual sight, there was an ornate symbol carved into the clapboard. It seemed like part of a design with runic script carvings straight to the foundation of the house.

Sam touched the symbols, tracing along the carvings. The back of his head zinged with the power held within. Part of the design was obscured with long grasses growing in front and he pushed them to the side, following the pattern down. At the base of the design there was a large black stone with more carvings. But it was cracked in half. He couldn't make out the carving that well.

He reached out for it, intending to adjust the stone so he could see the carving better. As soon as he touched it, he felt a nauseous headache crawl thru his head like a freight train. He stumbled, his voice cracking as he alerted Dean to his problem.

Dean had no sooner turned in Sam's direction to see his brother go completely pale, clutch his head, and fall to the ground.

"Damn fucking visions," Dean muttered, showing false bravado as he tried not to pee his pants as Sam drifted thru.

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Note: Yeah, I fracken hate cliff hangers too, and yet I still do them.