Strange Relations

Disclaimer: I don't own what I don't own, including Supernatural and Power Rangers: Dino Thunder.

Summary: Dean and Sam hear of an urban legend involving sinkholes in the town of Reefside, California—home of their cousin, Conner, and the Dino Thunder Power Rangers.

Author's Notes: Yes, it's a dreaded crossover. I know, I know. I promise to make it interesting. Humor, action, mild romantic interactions without actual shipping. I'm playing with the timing for PRDT in this—instead of taking place in the 2003—2004 school year, it takes place in the 2005—2006 year, during first season of Supernatural. While Dino Thunder was supposed to be set almost entirely before Christmas (at least right up until "In Your Dreams,"), I'm placing these events in early January for the sake of not screwing with the far-more-intricate Supernatural timeline. The story will involve all the Dino Thunder characters, Eric McKnight, the Winchesters, and possibly a few other seasons of Power Rangers—I'm looking at Ninja Storm and Mighty Morphin in particular. I'm playing with the universes a bit—in the Supernatural world, Power Rangers exist, but most non-Californians believed them to be a hoax that sparked a media frenzy. You don't need to know a lot about both shows to get the fic—just one would probably do.

Special note: This was inspired by Freyja SilverWillow commenting that James Napier (Conner, on Dino Thunder) bears quite the resemblance to Jared Padalecki. Also, this is written with a lot of help from Bryn Spikess, and Freyja—though she hates crossovers—will be running through it on occasion to poke at things.

Timeline: Power Rangers Dino Thunder, shortly after "Ocean Alert" and before "White Thunder, Part 1." Supernatural, between "The Benders" and "Shadow."


Chapter One

Bored

Dean Winchester flopped on his bed with a groan. "Man, I don't believe this. I'm bored."

"I'm bored" was a phrase Dean didn't often utter, especially not seriously. As a guy who'd spent much of his childhood and teen years stuck in hotel rooms watching TV with his kid brother, Dean was a master of finding ways to amuse himself. Ordinarily, he'd do some research, or skim through his father's journal, or find something on TV, or play "Try to Score with the Waitress at the Dive down the Street." The last was his favorite, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to do so with Sammy around. Sammy was always rolling his eyes and never leaving the hotel room and making rude comments and never leaving the hotel room and trying to make Dean feel immoral (which didn't work, but was annoying as hell) and most of all never leaving the hotel room. Right now, in fact, Sammy was, well, in the hotel room, pointedly ignoring Dean and playing with that stupid laptop.

"Tell me you've found something to hunt," Dean begged. "Please."

It had been four days since Dean and Sam had done anything remotely interesting, and they were currently holed up in a motel in Middle of Nowhere, Nevada. No longer looking for their father had freed up a lot of their time, and while researching likely hunts had been keeping them busy, they were currently in a dry spell and Dean was getting desperate for entertainment. Sammy, it seemed, still wasn't bored, and until Sam got bored Dean couldn't properly alleviate his boredom, because the only kind of fun Dean really liked to have without his brother involved Sammy leaving the damned hotel room. That was the trouble with usually making the first move—it wasn't nearly as smooth to invite a girl back to her place as it was to invite a girl back to his place.

"Huh?" Sam said distractedly.

"Hunt. Ghosts. Creatures. Demons. I'll settle for a…. a vengeful mailman at this point, just give me something to do," Dean growled.

Sam turned around in his chair and blinked at him. "Was I supposed to be looking for something to hunt?" he asked, sounding slightly confused.

"Yes!" Dean exclaimed, sitting up and throwing up his hands. "What are you doing, anyway? Looking for Internet porn?"

"Quite the opposite, actually," Sam said dryly. "I was just reading an email from Eric."

"Eric who?"

"Eric, our cousin Eric," Sam explained. "As in Conner and Eric."

"Really? I thought the two of them couldn't tell a keyboard from a remote control."

"They can't. According to this, some guy named Cam at Eric's new school is teaching him how to use a computer… in the hopes that he'll 'stop blowing stuff up.'"

Dean snorted. Though Sam knew the most about computers, Dean was literate enough to use one properly, whereas their cousin Eric couldn't get near a monitor without sparks shooting out. Eric McKnight and his twin brother Conner were a little more than four years younger than Sammy, and they were probably the closest family the Winchester brothers had after their father. Conner and Eric's mother was their father's sister, and while she was rather flaky, she was also extremely sweet and had always taken Sam and sometimes Dean off of John's hands whenever John was pulling a job within four hundred miles of Reefside, California. Long weeks, months even, had been spent with the McKnights, and both Dean and Sam had enjoyed seeing what it was like to be part of a "normal" family and spending time with their doting aunt and crazy cousins. Though most of their family members got vague greeting cards on the holidays, Dean and Sam had always done their best to keep in touch with the McKnights over the years.

Dean leaned over Sam's shoulder to see the monitor. Of the two, Eric had been closer to Dean, and Sam to Conner. Conner had always spent a lot of time trying to teach Sam to play soccer, whereas Dean and Eric were often play-fighting in the backyard. Dean had heard that Eric had been accepted to some private school a while back, only to be kicked out a couple weeks later, but he hadn't heard much else since.

"Apparently Eric's been accepted back into the school," Sam said, pointing at the first half of the email. Dean braced his hand against the table and began to read.

"See, there are three tracks in our school, and I'm in Mr. Dustin's. Dustin's way cool, and he apparently talked Mr. Kanoi down. He finally managed to convince Mr. Kanoi that it wasn't my fault that all those cats attacked him. And it SO wasn't. I mean, how was I supposed to know he didn't like cats? Dustin tried to explain—something to do with Kanoi being a 'guinea pig,' but it didn't really make much sense. Anyway, I'm back in school now, and I'm in Dustin's classes again, so he's trying to help keep me out of trouble. Even Cam says Mr. Kanoi might have overreacted, and he's Mr. Kanoi's son. Cam said Mr. Kanoi has his reasons, is all, but Cam did say that if I get kicked out again, he might be able to get me in at this other school run by his buddy Hunter that has the same sort of classes.

"Anyway, I really miss having Conner with me, even though Kyle and Tally are here. Kyle's off in Mr. Shane's class, and Tally's in Miss Tori's, though, so we don't get to see each other as much as I'd like. I keep asking Conner to come sign up with me—I know he'd really like Dustin, the guy's so cool—and at first Conner was like 'maybe after soccer season' but now he's gotten kind of weird. Says he thinks he'll finish high school in Reefside but he never really says why. Apparently he's got these new friends, too, and one of them's this chick named Kira who always blew me off whenever I used to try to ask her out (she's really hot, AND she's in a band) and the other one, Ethan, he's this total computer geek who tutored me back in middle school. Conner says he met them in detention or something. They sound cool, though, I guess. Conner says Ethan reminds him of you, Sam; Ethan's always going on about urban legends and computer stuff.

"Oh, Conner told me to ask you if you've ever heard anything about any urban legends in Reefside. Ethan said there's all these horror stories about sinkholes in the area and how people fall into them and never come out. Conner says while he was in detention with Kira and Ethan their teacher sent them into the woods near the museum to find something prehistoric and they actually DID fall into a sinkhole and couldn't climb out and had to wander through these tunnels for, like, ever before they finally got out. Then he started to say something about being chased, but then he changed the subject and wouldn't tell me anything else. I think he was messing with me, but I thought I'd tell you about it and see what you'd heard, and Conner said that if you do have any information about those tunnels he really needs to know cuz a friend of his lives way out in the woods near where they fell in.

"Well, I need to go. Dustin's taking a bunch of us to a motocross rally and Blake Bradley's gonna be there—apparently he's good buddies with Dustin, which is just cool beyond belief. Say hi to Dean and Uncle Johnny for me. And tell Dean to get an email address so I can write to him, too. This computer stuff isn't as hard as it looks."

Dean frowned and reread the bit about urban legends. "Sinkholes? What's that all about?"

"I don't know," Sam said with a shrug. "Let me find some local websites."

Dean nodded and pulled up a chair as Sam pulled up his preferred search engine. A moment later, they were cruising "The Dark Side of Reefside," a site all about legends surrounding the town.

"Here we go," Sam muttered. Clearing his throat, he began to read the paragraphs at the top of the page aloud. "'Welcome to The Dark Side of Reefside, where our forums and articles explore all of the strange happenings of the city of Reefside and the surrounding area. Don't forget to read our rules, and since no one ever listens when we say that, KEEP IN MIND that NO Power Ranger discussions are allowed in ANY forums EXCEPT the forum specifically FOR Power Rangers. Any member who breaks this rule will have their account suspended and their posts relating to the subject deleted. We're here to talk about urban legends and historical anomalies, people, not superheroes. Unless you can tie them to a specific legend, leave it in the PR forum.'"

"Power Rangers? What a bunch of nerds," Dean scoffed. Like most people in the country, Dean had heard of the Power Rangers—after all, there were TV shows and comic books and Halloween costumes and so on and so forth. As far as Dean knew, the Power Rangers were supposed to be the world's first superheroes, fighting aliens and monsters in multicolored spandex. The last he'd heard, the Rangers had disappeared for a year and then returned from outer space to save the city of Angel Grove and revealed their identities in the process, but that was years ago. Dean was of the opinion that it was all some scheme to sell action figures.

Sam shrugged and began scrolling through the list of forums. "Let's see here… under 'Power Rangers,' we have 'General Power Ranger Discussions,' 'Monster Sightings,' 'Ranger Sightings,' and 'Secret Identity Speculations.'"

"Geek alert," Dean announced.

Sam smiled. "Then we have the other forums… 'Haunted Graveyards,' 'Unexplained Phenomena at the Beach,' 'The Abandoned Warehouse District…' Here we go, 'Frightening Forest Lore.'" Sam clicked the link and waited for the page to load. "Sinkhole Scares" was at the top of the list, with the most recent post—dated several weeks ago—called "Stay OUT of the Forest!!!" by "Master Hacker." Sam clicked on the post.

"Okay, so there I was with this guy and girl wandering around in the woods trying to find something prehistoric as part of my detention, and I'm trying to tell them about how I heard about the sinkholes on this site, and the next thing I know we're all six feet under. More than six feet under, actually; the guy, Conner, he tried to climb up and get help and landed on his butt two seconds later, and he's really athletic, this total soccer jock…"

"Looks like this is Conner's friend Ethan," Dean commented.

"Yep," Sam agreed, copying the post and pasting it into a Word document—something he'd picked up at college, where failing Internet service could mean failing grades. After he'd saved Ethan's post, they continued to read.

"So then we realize we're in a tunnel, and figure we might as well see where it leads, since we can't get out. It took us AGES to find an exit. When we did… I know this sounds crazy, but these freaky lizard monsters chased us clear out of the woods! We were almost killed. We all agreed not to say anything, but I thought I should warn everyone to stay out of the woods by the museum. Those monsters were dangerous, not to mention we could have been lost in the tunnels for days before anyone found us if we hadn't finally found an opening. I'm still shaking, even though we're on our way back to school now."

Dean leaned back in his chair. "Lizard monsters?"

Sam shrugged. "Could be anything."

"Could be a kid trying to be King Dork of Lame-ass Mountain."

Sam smiled sardonically. "When is it ever anything that simple?"

"Yeah." Dean sighed, frowning thoughtfully. "But I'll tell you this—something about this doesn't smell right."

"What do you mean?" Sam asked.

"Eric and Conner. Those two have always been closer than, well, me and you. And now Eric's saying Conner's got these new friends—friends who don't really sound like Conner's type of crowd. And Conner's turned down going to Eric's school without telling Eric why. Then there's that thing where Conner 'started to say something about being chased' and changed the subject. Doesn't sound like Conner. The kid's an open book. Especially to Eric."

Sam digested this. "Yeah, but… if Conner's trying to keep it a secret, why would his friend post all about it on a webpage?"

"I don't know. But that kid's post sounded weird too. Part of his detention, he's wandering around in the woods near the museum? Looking for something prehistoric? Sounds a little odd. Why's he out of the school for detention? The museum and the school are pretty far away, if I remember correctly. And Ethan made it sound like they were unsupervised in the woods, too. Just him and two classmates roaming the woods as punishment?"

Sam raised an eyebrow. "You think they were sent into the woods to be chased by lizard creatures?"

"It's possible. It's also possible that we're making a big deal out of nothing. Either way, I guess we're heading to Reefside."

"Just like that?" Sam asked, a little unhappily. Unlike Dean, Sam was beginning to enjoy having a little quiet time, a reprieve from the psychotic days since he'd left Palo Alto.

"Sam, we've got possible deadly creatures in our cousins' backyard. We should swing by, do some digging, get Aunt Becky to make us a few meals. And more importantly…" Dean grinned. "I'm bored."