She seemed doubtful as she watched him load herbs, books, and assorted religious items into a satchel, and quite frankly, Sam

She seemed doubtful as she watched him load herbs, books, and assorted religious items into a satchel, and quite frankly, Sam couldn't blame her. "Got enough stuff?" She enquired innocently, though he was sure he could sense a sharp edge in her tone.

"Possibly." Sam replied without thinking. "I can't be sure. It depends on what exorcism I'll end up using and that can be determined by simple trial and error..." He would have continued, but stumbled to a stop at the look on Rachel's face. For a minute he had forgotten that the person at his shoulder this time was a rather bemused camp employee. "Sorry." He said quickly. "Sometimes I ramble on."

"I see." She said, not a trace of emotion on her face. She was still holding the little backpack packed with her candles and water goblet, and beside Sam and his bag of gear, it looked a trifle sad and pathetic. "Sam?"

"Yeah?"

"I'm just. . . I mean I'm not. . ."

"This is scarily new to you, huh?" His voice was sympathetic.

"You could say so. I started in this because I suppose I wanted something else to believe in and my mother was a die-hard believer. But this . . ." She gestured the amulets for several different religions that were laid out on the hood of the car. "This goes way beyond anything I ever expected, ever experienced."

"Rachel." Sam said firmly. "I appreciate what you were trying to do, but you've only scratched the surface on this thing. This is not one evil spirit. Its lots. And the sticking point is, I'm not sure if they're evil anyway, or whether someone's manipulating them."

"Them? Who's them?"

"Honestly? All the information I've been able to collect points to them being fairies."

Immediately Rachel's serious expression dropped and her eyes narrowed. "You're kidding me."

"No." Sam slung the bag over his shoulder. "The original fairies that our Disney garden variety has sprung from are nothing like what we expect today. It's hard to explain."

"So try." The Wiccan challenged.

"When the notion of fairies first hit the mainstream, they weren't like they are now, small and cute and cherub-like with little wings. These guys were the real deal, tall and beautiful." Sam said. "There are many legends on how and why they came here, but the oldest I can find was that they were shut out of Heaven and weren't evil enough to be sent to Hell. They don't belong anywhere."

"And that's made them resentful." Rachel nodded. "I still don't understand why they're taking the little girls."

"I guess that's one thing we're going to have to ask them." He replied. "Normally I have my brother along for the ride."

"Where is he now?"

"I don't know." Sam confessed. "He went ahead of me looking for Mary and Ben. He has… history with those two kids."

"How's that?"

"It 's complicated." It felt like a bit of a cop-out, falling back on that well-used phrase. The Wiccan looked at him and then looked away, looking like she was unsure whether she wanted to see this through anymore. "If you… don't think you're up to this, you can head back to the camp. I'll wrap this up."

"No." She said instantly. "I've come this far. The least I can do is see it through to the end."

The wood immediately seemed to close back around them as soon as they took their first steps back into the undergrowth. Sam gulped. It was like something knew what they were going to do, and didn't like the idea very much. Determinedly he cleared his throat and continued on.

"Where would the best place for something like this be?" Rachel asked. "Sam?"

"What? Oh, ah, I guess…" He trailed off. "How about where you were before?"

"Near the ring? I suppose. We can't step into it though."

"Why not?"

"Lore says that then they can snatch you away as well."

"Oh."

Sam proceeded to set up the ritual, amulets, herbs and suchlike. Rachel pulled out her candles, and at Sam's questioning look, she said "Well, it can't hurt, can it?" She proceeded to light them, one by one. He saw that she carried a lighter.

"So you're not a witch." He said.

"What? No. There's no such thing as witches." She scoffed. "Not anymore. Besides, my broomstick doesn't accessorise well."

Sam smiled. He sat cross-legged on the ground and Rachel sat opposite him. "Ready?" He asked her.

"Not really."

He took a breath and began to speak. "Deus, et Pater Domini nostri Jesu Christi, invoco nomen sanctum tuum, et clementiam tuam supplex exposco-" The wiccan sitting opposite him seemed uneasier by the second, and Sam could understand why. Her religion allowed her to play around on the fringes, as many people did, but none of them truly understood what they were messing with. And the responsibility that came with it.

And the power.

"Exorcizo te, immundissime spiritus, omni incursio adversarii, omne phantasma-"

Rachel closed her eyes. Her arms fell slack to either said, her hands lying palm-up and open. "Can you feel it? Oh God, it's coming." Sam frowned but did not pause in his recital. "Can you feel it, Sam? The creeping darkness, it's getting closer..." She trailed off. The flames from the candles that the wiccan had lit around them began to flicker uncontrollably although there was no wind.

"Qui cum Patre et eodem spiritu sancto vivit et regnat Deus, per omina saecula saeculorum. Amen." He finished. All was quiet for a minute. "Rachel?" Sam asked. Her head was still bowed, and she didn't seem to be moving. "Rachel?" He asked again, rising up to his knees and reaching across to shake her shoulder. "Hey-"

As soon as his hand made contact with her, her head snapped up. Her eyes were an opaque white. "It that all you've got, Huntsman?" She hissed.

"Oh, Jesus!" Sam almost jumped out of his skin and rocked backwards against a tree.

"You invoke the wrong deity." Rachel said, only it wasn't Rachel. It was hundreds of voices, speaking at once. Speaking through her. "We would not attack you if you had not attacked us. You cannot force us to leave so easily."

"Can't I?"

"No. The old ways have been lost." She swayed. "Even as they have been lost to us."

"Who are you?" Sam asked, getting over his initial shock.

"Ha! You may as well have asked us who you were, he with the Gift. The Lonely One." As Sam listened, he swore he could pick individual voices. "Look around you. We are the birds and the animals and the very trees themselves. We are the heartbeat of the land, and are everywhere you turn. We are what was before, and what will be at the end. We are the eternal."

"Never to live and never to die." Sam mused. "Stuck somewhere in the middle."

"And then we are indeed of the same kind, Samuel Winchester." There was a dry, wispy laugh, like wind through the leaves. He didn't like to think on what that meant. "What happens to those who are not deserving of either Heaven or Hell? We live. Forever. It is not a kind fate. And so you bargain with the keepers of the Gates, not caring who says yes, as long as it stops."

"Where are the missing girls?"

"There are no missing girls in our kingdom. We are many, but we are one. We are all together."

That sent a chill down his spine. "Do you mean you… turn them into things like you?"

"Ignorant Huntsman! There are no missing girls in our kingdom. We live the way we have lived for many thousands of your years. We do not need to replenish our numbers, as we do not die."

"But I don't-"

"Our ways have not changed. If someone is abusing their powers, it is not we." She said. "They are gone."

"Gone where?"

"Far from here. She who would be Queen has taken them to her realm."

"What for?" Sam asked, certain he would not like the answer

"She will make them to be like her. They will be Her Daughters, and together they will bring the world to it's knees." Rachel's head bowed again.

Oh God, Sam thought. Dean was going to go spare. "Rachel?"

"A warning, Samuel Winchester." The voice was so reed-thin that Sam had to crouch forward to catch it. "Look for treachery close to home, Samuel Winchester. Time changes all man. No being is above temptation. Offer him what he wants, and he will have no other choice but to aid you and yours. You may yet destroy She who would be Queen yet."

"How? I don't know what you mean."

"The other of your blood has the weapon."

"Dean? What weapon does Dean have?"

"The soul." The fairies said. "The soul… of Lilith the Destroyer."

Sam went perfectly still. "What?"

"She is unaware that it still exists. He will stop at nothing to recover it, so he may become Supreme Overlord. You have the advantage. Unite Lilith and her soul, and you will emerge victorious."

"How do I do that? Rachel? Rachel!"

"What?" Head in her hands, Rachel slowly looked up. Her eyes were their ordinary colour again. "Why are you looking at me like that?" She asked cautiously.

"Do you remember what you said in the last ten minutes?" Sam questioned sharply. The woman looked at him a moment.

"I – I said something about it getting dark." She said nervously. "Didn't I?"

His expression told her everything she needed.

"Somehow you were channelling the spirit of the forest." Sam said.

"Oh. My. God."

Her reaction pretty much summed it up perfectly.

There had only ever been a handful of times that Sam didn't know what to do, where he felt completely helpless. This was one of those times.

Three hours later

Sam, Dean and Rachel stood in the shadows of an ancient elm tree and watched as the police and volunteers once again combed the area before coming back with the verdict.

There was still no trace of the missing girl, Mary Morgan.

Ten minutes ago, Lisa Braeden and Jude Morgan came for Ben, along with Mary's adoptive parents. Tears sprung anew, and as much as Ben was deliriously happy to see his mother again, Dean knew that a small kernel of resentment had blossomed in the kid's chest after they could not find Mary. He had promised. He told Mary's folks again and again that he was so sorry for not having looked after her, but no matter how many times he was assured it was not his fault, he continued to blame himself.

Dean hoped that it wouldn't turn into self-loathing. He had already been down that road, and it never ended well.

Ben had turned to where Dean was standing, his eyes red but his face dry. He hadn't told his mom or his stepdad about the Winchesters. He thought it would make things more painful for all of them.

The kid turned away.

Dean sighed. Sam looked at him. His brother looked older and wearier than ever.

"We'll get her back." He said.

"Do you think so?" His brother looked Sam right in the eye. "'Cause I seriously doubt it."

"We'll get on Lilith's tail, and find her. We will." Sam assured him.

"And look at how well that went last time. And the time before." Dean snapped back.

"You really liked that girl, didn't you?" Rachel asked quietly. She was still in her mud streaked Camp Quentin uniform.

"There was just something…" He trailed off.

"Dean."

"What?"

"When Rachel was… channelling, she said something." Sam and Rachel shared a look. On the walk back to camp, he had filled her in on what had happened to her. It was only fair that she should know. "She said… that you had a weapon that we could use to kill Lilith. Or seriously wound her and force her to surrender or something."

"Really?" Dean turned back to them, wearing a razor sharp smile.

"Dean," Sam said. "When you… when you were, um, down there, did you steal anything? Specifically, anything from a guy named - Belial?"

Dean looked down at the ground. He was silent for a long while. "I didn't steal it." He finally said grudgingly. "I won it. Fair and square."

"You… won it."

"Easiest damn poker game I've ever played."

"And he gave it to you?"

"You can't get out of a contract."

"Can I see it?"

"I guess." His brother fished in his shirt, before drawing out the amulet that Sam had given him, oh so long ago.

"But that's-" Sam started, and then stopped.

The eyes seemed to be set with two miniscule green gems that winked up at them both. "He asked to hold it, and when I got it back it was like this." Dean said. "I never really knew what he put in it, but he whinged about it the whole time, so I took it."

"You took it?"

"Demon? No scruples? Is it something important?" He pulled a face. "What did the trees tell you, oh great Yoda?"

"That-" Sam took a breath and began again.

"That's Lilith's soul."

Dean pondered that for a moment.

"I'm hungry."


AN: No happy ending.

Do I own Supernatural? Nah.

Rachel and the rest? Yeah.