I've had at least part of this written for...awhile. But I couldn't think of how I wanted to make it progress properly and then I procastinated and...well, here we are. But let's give this a go!

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"Son of a bitch!" Dean seethed as he surveyed the area.

He'd given Mario Andretti a run for his money as he'd made his way back to James' home. The cop had mentioned something about a lake, but far as he knew, there were three major lakes around the town and he had hoped he'd find something; anything that would give him a clue where Sam was. And what had taken him.

But it was a fat load of bupkis. No sign of blood, nothing disturbed, no odd scents, no sulfur, not a damn thing.

And in some ways, that was far more concerning than if he'd found any of the above.

The lack of clues meant he was just going to have to figure out which lake the 'party' was at, and wing it as far as ganking whatever had taken Sam. One of the lakes was way off on the edge of town, barely a lake at all, and he doubted that would be the place. Which left a lake that somewhat ran through Westland, and a lake tucked away behind Quiet Oaks. Dean contemplated the possibilities as he headed back to his Impala. He had no idea how much time he had to get to Sam while he was still safe, and he couldn't risk driving in circles. The lack of choice in the matter however decided him; and he figured that Westland was his best bet, if only because it was closest.

Hang in there, Sammy...I'm comin'.

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The pain in Sam's head as he awoke was immense and he squinted against the sharp pain as he focused bleary eyes on his surroundings. Where was he? Everything seemed oddly dark, not to the point that he couldn't see, but...cloaked somehow. And there was a thin layer of fog and the scent of...what was that scent? Something wet and muddled.

Memories came back to him: the forest, a phone call with his big brother, and the woman who'd apparently knocked him unconscious.

"Is the guest of honor finally awake?" a voice crooned.

Sam squinted up towards the one who'd spoken, the smiling woman he recognized as the one who'd taken him earlier. He said nothing and tried to judge who or what she could possibly be, but she didn't seem out of the ordinary aside from having kidnapped him. Sam, with his back against a tree, noted that his hands were tied behind his back.

"What? Cat got your tongue, cutie? Don't worry, we're only here to help." she smiled widely, and Sam was struck by how unnerving the smile was coming from her.

"Who are you?" he finally gave in and asked, "What do you want?" Possibilities raced through his currently young mind, and he was coming up with many blanks. But Dean would be there soon to fix things, wouldn't he?

The woman's smile seemed to widen, almost unnaturally. "As I said, my name is Juliana. And all I want is to help you, Sammy."

"It's Sam." he spat out reflexively. Only Dean got to call him that, and John, on occasion.

"Sam." she agreed as she crouched down beside him. "You see, Sam, you're very special." she brought a hand up to run her fingers through his hair but he tugged his head away. She lowered her hand but seemed unruffled as she continued. "With your help, we can fix things."

Despite himself, Sam responded. "Fix what things?"

Juliana considered the question before she spoke in a solemn tone. "You see, there's a very bad man on the loose. He's gobbled up all kinds of people, and he's going to destroy the whole world."

Sam tried to make sense of her words, and he was a little annoyed by her patronization. He was ten: not stupid. "This man...eats people?"

Juliana nodded. "Swallows them whole and uses their power to make himself stronger...but you can stop him."

"Me?" Sam lifted a brow in disbelief. Honestly, he didn't buy any of what she was selling, but he was stalling for time. As long as he kept talking, then he had longer for Dean to find him and he knew that Dean would come; he always came.

"Oh, yes. Just as soon as your potential is awakened."

Sam officially, mentally declared the woman crazy. "My potential?" he repeated skeptically.

"As the chosen of Azazel and the true vessel of Lucifer. You have powers you haven't begun to realize. And I am going to help you to bring them out."

Sam didn't recognize the name 'Azazel', but he'd heard 'Lucifer' somewhere before...either way, he knew that the words put an ill twist in his stomach. "What are you talking about?"

Juliana sighed. "My dear, hasn't Dean told you anything?" Sam's expression scrunched up a bit and she continued. "You're part demon, Sam. That's the real reason Dean's all grown up and you're still so small. He's been trying to protect you all by himself. And now it's your turn to protect him."

Sam choked at her words and then his eyes narrowed. "Like I'd believe that."

"Haven't you ever wondered why you're so different...? Why you never cared for hunting the way Dean and John Winchester did? It's because you're what they hunt, Sam."

"No, that's not... You're lying." Sam was incredibly bright for his age, and his upbringing had gone a long way towards ensuring that he was more mature than boys his age. But at the heart of it, he was still only a child, and the stress of the situation combined with her words agitated him. Sam fidgeted in his place as he tried to piece a way out for himself, but it all came to the same conclusion: Dean.

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Dean had, at speeds far exceeding what was legal, checked all three lakes. His brother had to be at one of them, and it figured it would be the last one. Dean was out of time and out of options, but he'd been there before and pulled off a last-minute victory. His brother's life was on the line, there was no way he could fail, no way he could disappoint that kid.

"Just get here soon."

But Dean felt the choking sensation of panic and failure, mingled with desperation, rise up within him as he found the last lake devoid of anyone. Sam wasn't there, he wasn't anywhere, and Dean was out of time. "Sam...damnit, Sam!" he choked the words past his throat as he slammed his fist on the door of the Impala in frustration.

"Oh, it's the boy you want. Such an inconvenience, making me work up here. Hades will be cross, but they'll get what's coming to them... I can take you, but I need payment for passage."

The voice was almost monotone and somewhat nasally, and Dean jerked around to find himself face to face with a black-robed man. His hair was white and spindly, and it clung to the old man's face as if wet. His skin as well was pale with the look of someone who'd been in the bath too long, with his veins showing through. The eyes were the most disconcerting, pale as if he were blind with thin slivers of blue and yellow where his iris and pupil should be.

Dean was on guard instantly as he reached for his demon-knife. "Who are you?" he barked. "Where's Sam?"

The man lifted a white brow as his lip curled a bit to reveal sharp, yellowed teeth. "Who else would I be, stupid? I'm Charon, the ferryman."

"The what?"

Charon's eyes narrowed as he pointed a bony finger over the lake. "I ferry the souls of the dead into the Underworld, for a price...but the fools who took your 'Sam' bound me to the surface in between the worlds. Still...even this world is corrupted also, there are many players in this game." he said, with obvious distaste.

"What does that even mean...forget it..." Dean suddenly came forward and grabbed a fistful of Charon's robe. "Listen up, you're gonna take me to Sam right n-" Pain shot through Dean suddenly and he gasped as it felt as though the breathe had been snatched from his lungs. His face began to turn red as he tried unsuccessfully to breathe as he released Charon and collapsed to the ground. Stars danced before his eyes as his vision darkened and Charon looked over him impassively.

"If you want to cross, you'll pay the toll. Threaten me again, boy, and I won't be so kind." Gnarled fingers raked across Dean's throat then, and suddenly his airways were clear. He gasped and choked for breathe as he clutched his chest and after a moment of wheezing, he rose to regard Charon. Dean wasn't stupid, he had a feeling even the colt would be hard-pressed to work on this 'Charon' character. He didn't seem like a good guy either, but nor did he seem to be willingly working for the enemy.

"Fine." Dean rasped as he shuffled through his pocket for his wallet. "How much do you want?"

Charon rolled his milky eyes. "I don't take your cheap paper. I deal with true coin."

"What the Hell does that mean? I don't have time for this!" Dean shoved his wallet back into his pocket, and was surprised to feel something cold against his skin. He pulled out the golden coin given to him by the odd cop earlier, and he blinked as he recalled his words.

"Keep it, Dean-o. Never know when you'll have to pay the piper, y'know what I mean?"

Dean held out the coin to Charon. "What about this?"

Charon smiled then, and there was nothing pleasant about it as he reached his bony fingers forward and plucked the coin from Dean's hand. "A drachma. This payment is acceptable, for both the venture in and out. Well then..." Charon waved a hand, and a gateway of swirling blue and black lights appeared at the lake's edge. "Go on in, traveler. But be warned, the world in there is a by-product of an already manufactured world. If you die in there, your soul will never find it's way back."

Dean didn't really understand Charon's meaning about by-products and manufactured worlds, but he wasn't planning on dying or letting Sam die anytime soon. "Got it, thanks...Charon." With that, Dean grabbed his duffel of hunter's goodies from the Impala and locked her up with a quick, "Wait for me, baby," before he headed to the portal and jumped in.

Charon watched with a lifted brow before he glanced at the 'waiting' Impala questioningly. "Strange man, that one..." he murmured.

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Alright, so a drachma was standard currency in Greece way back when. The souls of the dead were buried with one under their tongues so that they could pay Charon to ferry them across the rivers of the dead to the Underworld. Those without coin became wandering souls forever. Dun dun dun. It's Dean to the rescue for little Sam! And finally, an update. And I used 'bupkis' in writing for the first time ever. XD Verbal hugs bring joy to my life...enjoy! Oh, and Mario Andretti was a famous racecar driver, people use his name as being synonymous with someone driving super fast and whatnot. I think. XD ~Witchy~