A Very Supernatural Journey

A Birthday Story Written for Enkidu07, in appreciation for the work she and Onyx Moonbeam do and for the community they built.

Co-written by CFEditor, mainegirlwrites, the Ymp and Wynefred

X X X

This chapter written by CFEditor and the Ymp.

Epilogue: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Exhausted and without the strength to carry on, Henri surrendered to the strong river currents that dragged him along as they wished. I just want to go home, he thought, but he knew that he would never manage even the tiniest portion of that colossal journey. There was a time he would have prayed to the Queen for strength, but those days were behind him forever. And what is the point? They are all long gone now.

Henri pulled himself from the water, unsurprised to find where the drifting currents had brought him. He slumped half out of the water, and lay gasping in the freezing night air. He felt a presence and flinched in fear before realizing who it was.

"All this time, you knew who I was," he accused, cursing himself for his stupidity in not realizing what should have been obvious to him.

"No, not really. And neither did you until the end," answered Ryba, ignoring the complaint of her old bones and squatting down beside him.

"It is, isn't it... the end?" It was a question that didn't require an answer. "I am afraid."

"Then hold my hand," said Ryba in a kind, quiet voice.

They swam through crystal clear waters warmed by the glow of a golden sun until they came to a meadow of lush green sea grass. Excited, but nervous, heads poked from between the strands.

"Henri, it's Henri!" his family called out, overjoyed to see him.

Henri turned to Ryba, as at last he could see her true form. "Come with me," he begged.

Ryba was tempted, but shook her head. "It is not my time. I have still to earn my peace," she added with a sad smile. "Go be with your people. You have earned your reward."

Henri gave her a last beautiful smile bristling with his shark-like teeth, then turned and swam off into the sparkling waters.

X X X

Dean pulled up outside the police station, as arranged with their contact. Even though they were expected, the habits of a lifetime meant he couldn't quite bring himself to switch the engine off in case they needed a quick getaway.

They sat in silence for a while, Sam watching the muscle jumping in his brother's jaw. He decided he shouldn't ask. I'm not gonna ask. It was a mantra he often chanted to himself when he knew pleading with Dean to share his feelings was more likely to elicit a growl in response. It was no good, he couldn't help himself. "Do you want to talk about it?" he pressed at last.

Dean somehow managed to turn his scowl up a notch, only to seem to collapse back into himself.

As he turned to his brother, Sam was struck by the dark shadows under Dean's eyes and how drawn and tired he looked

"Just once, man. Just once, couldn't we have something for us?" said Dean, in a voice that was little more than a sigh.

Sam felt his heart lurch as he gave the tiniest of nods, his thoughts turning to Shawna, their dad, Jess.

"At least we still got each other. I swear, Sammy, I don't know what I'd do…"

A sharp chill ran up Sam's spine and for the briefest moment he was filled with an overwhelming sense of dread.

Dean shifted in discomfort in his seat, already regretting the uncharacteristic oversharing. He pinched the bridge of his nose, more to avoid eye-contact with Sam than to relieve the sudden tension headache pounding in his temples. I let my guard down and look where it's got me. Dad would've kicked my ass for letting that monster go. Without him I've gotten soft.

He forced the feelings down, burying them deep. A few moments later, it was as if nothing had happened and, ignoring Sam's sympathetic look, he seized upon a sudden opportune distraction.

"Oh boy, is that her? Sheesh, how'd he ever get any work done?"

Sam stepped from the Impala. "Rosy?" he asked, assuming this was Tyrone's colleague, who had contacted them.
The stylishly black-clad, curvaceous redhead passed Sam a small, brown, paper-wrapped parcel. "Tyrone's description didn't do you justice," she purred.

Sam blushed furiously, feeling very exposed. He glared at Dean, who just smirked in silent amusement at his brother's discomfort.

"He arranged this before..." Rosy trailed off, seeming suddenly vulnerable. She took a breath and collected herself. "He wanted you to have this," she said with an appraising, lingering second-look, her kittenish persona firmly back in place. She gave Sam a saucy wink before sashaying off, well aware that he would stand and watch until she was out of sight before getting back into the car.

Dean looked over Sam's shoulder, "Are those real consultant detective IDs?"

"Yep, and looks like he's expunged every state misdemeanor and speeding ticket, too."

Dean whistled under his breath, "Thank you, Detective Tyrone McFarling."

X X X

Tyrone walked through the copse of trees. The bright sunlight cast a slightly dizzying, but beautiful, pattern of shadows across the overgrown dirt track ahead of him. He took a moment to enjoy the silence and feeling of peace that had been so lacking from his life of late.

He gave a little huff of wry amusement as his meditations were almost immediately interrupted by a passerby. The man stared at him in blatant curiosity.

Tyrone flashed his badge, "What can you tell me about Mrs. Bouřková?" he asked, gesturing in the direction of the dilapidated house at the end of the road.

The man gaped open-mouthed at him, and for a moment Tyrone wondered if the man was somehow mentally deficient.

"I'd h-heard there was a f-foreign... woman who l-lived there," the man stammered.

Tyrone frowned in confusion. "And?"

"I remember my folks telling me that she was brought over from Europe by a G.I. after World War Two, but he left her at the altar and she d-drowned herself in the river in grief," the man gulped.

Tyrone raised an eyebrow and motioned for the man to continue. "The neighborhood kids always said the house was h-haunted."

Tyrone was mildly amused by how terrified the man seemed to be of him. "So, did you ever see anything?" he asked curiously; after all he'd seen recently, he was pretty much open to anything.

"No, I never saw nothing," the man squeaked and suddenly sprinted off before Tyrone could ask any other questions.

Tyrone chuckled in amusement, what a great place for monsters to hide – with neighbors as weird as this they'd seem positively normal by comparison.

He trudged up to the house at the end of the dirt track and knocked hard four times on the door. He wanted answers.

X X X

"Detective McFarling," said Ryba in resigned recognition as she answered the door.
Tyrone looked at her, blinking blearily, feeling as if he'd woken from a deep sleep. His hand unthinkingly made for the cross he'd taken to wearing around his neck since he'd met the Winchesters.

Ryba laughed in dry, honest amusement, and Tyrone wondered fleetingly how the blind woman knew what he'd done. "I am not vampire, you know," she said.

She gestured for him to enter and offered him a seat. "I thought you might be back with questions. I am sorry it is this way," she said cryptically.

Tyrone shrugged, not really understanding. It wasn't like he really thought she'd done anything wrong and Henri had turned out to be an ally of sorts, after all.

"You're not human, are you?"

Ryba seemed mildly amused by the statement. "No, I am not."

"You don't seem like a monster."

"I find that people usually see what they want to see," she smiled, "Henri saw a harmless old lady, you saw a monster protecting a killer."

"So which is it?"

Ryba smiled. "Can it not be both? I am a very old lady, Detective. I tire of this world and this life. Henri needed me, but now you are here I see that my job is not yet done, that is why I am still here."

"What do you mean?"

Ryba paused. "How did you get here?"

Tyrone stared at her in confusion. He felt a sudden chill and had to force himself not to flee in terror.

Ryba started to comb her hair, humming a little tune under her breath. Tyrone felt himself start to relax.

"What do you remember of the battle with Wąda?"

Tyrone stared at her blankly.

Ryba started to sing and the foreign words and tune carried the detective along like a leaf floating in a stream.

He sat up and gasped in sudden, horrified realization.

"It is all right," Ryba patted his hand comfortingly. "Just lie back and listen to the music, it will carry you to where you need to go."

Tyrone choked back a shuddering, grief-stricken sob, but allowed Ryba to gently guide him back into the chair. Ryba continued to sing, holding his hand until the spirit of the detective faded from view.

X X X

Eight Months Later

Rachelle sprang up, hands balled into fists, staring blindly at the television set.

"No!" she shouted.

The word escaped her before she could contain it. She had just sat with Meredith on their soft, blue cushion couch, watching the Season Two finale of Supernatural. Throughout the hour-long show, Rachelle's body was rigid, tense with the revelations of what was happening to... she couldn't bear to think about it. Dean sold his soul to a demon? Dean would be going to Hell?

"Idiot!" she shouted, wishing Dean could hear her. "Of all the stupid stunts..." It was just like Dean to do something like this when he was bat-ass crazy with grief for Sam. Yes, that was Dean, all right. He'd throw away everything for Sam... and he had. Just like his dad had done for him.

The ache in Rachelle's heart was growing as the news of Dean's deal sank in. This was worse than sitting through last week's episode and seeing Sam die. She was in shock at the time, but she didn't quite believe it. Sam can't be dead... She remembered how he'd been so patient with her friends... the other Rachelle's friends... no, they were my friends, too, she thought. Mer had hugged her as they watched Sam dying in Dean's arms. She had sat, rigid, screaming inside, holding back the tears because the idea was still unreal to her. This was Supernatural. Maybe some mystical mojo could bring him back?

The week of waiting was torture. Her hopes for Sam died when she saw his body. One moment she was numb, and the next a desperate anguish - a pale shadow of what Dean must be feeling - pierced her emotional cocoon. She looked on in horror as Dean raced to offer himself up for Sam and kissed the demon bitch.

The joy of seeing Sam breathe again was eclipsed by a deep despair even deeper than what she experienced when she realized Sam was dead. It was the torment of the thought that in a year, her Dean would be tortured... It was the pain of knowing that anything he did to get out of the deal would kill Sam all over again. It was the ache of sitting on her soft couch and watching Sam and Dean suffer, and not being able to help.

How would they stop it?

Since she'd come back to her own universe, every week was the same. Once she got past the bubbly feeling of being back with Mer, the pain of losing Dean hit her. It wasn't like Dean had broken up with her. He'd kissed her, and the promise of that kiss had mingled with the knowledge that he was saying goodbye. Whatever they'd had, it had been cut off before it could develop. Because Dean had to do the right thing, the heroicthing, and send her back to her own universe.

But at least she had Supernatural.

It was exquisite torture, but that hour, and only that hour, was what had kept her sane from one week to the next. She loved hearing Dean's smart-ass lines, loved watching him move on the screen. She drank in Dean like she'd been dying of dehydration. And she longed for more.

It wasn't much, this twilight life she was living, but at least during that hour, with Dean and Sam, she felt alive again. It was like watching another world through a one-way mirror. The world she wished she lived in.

"Rachelle," Mer would tell her, "You've got to stop this."

Rachelle agreed, but she wouldn't stop watching. She knew what she was doing to herself. She could even name the clinical term for her obsession.

What kept her coming back was the prospect of hearing what was happening to Sam and Dean... what might be happening, she reminded herself... As Mer kept telling her, there was no guarantee that the storyline in the show mirrored what was happening to Sam and Dean in their universe. She kept telling herself that because she hated to think that Dean was suffering through some of the inner torment the character Dean had been going through this season. The burden that John had placed on Dean, the revelation that his father was suffering in Hell, Dean's wanting just to escape, to give up hunting, sometimes, she thought, to give it all up... Rachelle longed to wrap her arms around him, to make him laugh, to ease some of the burden.

All she could do was watch.

Dean's going to Hell?

"Rachelle," Meredith said, "look at me."

Rachelle didn't respond. Mer got up and took Rachelle in her arms, and the tears that had been threatening to come all week burst from Rachelle like a thunderstorm on a sunny day. She stood, sobbing silently, while Mer held her and rocked her like a baby. The soft security of Mer's love engulfed her and she wished it were that simple. This was no book she could close and leave behind, no movie she could finish, secure in the knowledge that these were only characters. The innocence of the happy ending was long gone.

When the squall had subsided and she'd cried herself out, they both sat down again, Rachelle mopping at her eyes with the tissues Mer handed her. In the aftermath, she felt drained and purged of emotion. What was left was grim determination.

Mer sensed the change. "You're going, aren't you?"

"What are you talking about? Going where?"

"You're going back to Dean." Mer's voice was shaky, as if she was trying to sound neutral, but Rachelle heard the pain in her friend's voice. It was like a slap.

She sighed. She never could lie to Mer. "I wish I could take you with me..."

"I'll miss you, Rachelle."

Mer's reaction shocked her. "You're not gonna try to stop me?" Her friend's selfless support astounded Rachelle, though she'd never known Mer not to support her. But still...

"Stop you?" Mer's incredulous tone made Rachelle wonder if her friend was insulted. "Why would I stop you? You've been living in Hell long enough! Besides..." Mer squeezed Rachelle's hand, "it's kind of a relief that you're finally going. I've been waiting for this for a long time."

Rachelle stared at her, a bit hurt. "You want me to go?"

"No..." Mer sighed. "Of course I don't want you to go, Rachelle. None of us do. But we knew what you were planning, we figured it out months ago."

"I was that obvious, huh?" Rachelle couldn't keep the chagrin from her voice. She wondered what kind of hunter she would make, if her plans were so transparent.

"Only to the people who know you," Mer assured her. "Those intense Tai Kwan Do sessions... the late night sessions at the library... all those questions for Shawna about esoteric books... Did you really think we'd believe that you needed to translate Esoterica Demonica for your psych paper?"

"Okay, that was a bit much," Rachelle admitted

"We were wondering why you waited so long. Amy was telling me we'd have to push you into it... I don't know, bake a cake and ice it with the words Go get Dean already!"

Rachelle laughed at the bizarre image. She smiled, realizing all at once how lucky she was in her friends. "I just..."

"Didn't want to leave me?" Mer guessed. "I don't want you to, either, but it's obvious you have to, girl. How else will Dean get to read those drabbles you wrote for him?" she teased.

Rachelle blushed. She had written quite a few drabbles, her own responses to leaving Dean, and to the episodes since she'd been back. She hadn't even thought of what Dean would think, had never expected him to read them.

"He'll probably think they're too chick-flicky," she admitted, not looking directly at Mer.

"Maybe he'll think they're romantic," Mer countered. "Or maybe he'll think they're hot."

Hot Dean... Images raced through her head, of Dean in the Impala, Dean shirtless in the bathroom while she taped him, Dean cuddling on the couch... Dean in bed... She felt her face flush and tried not to dwell on some of the dreams she'd been having since he kissed her.

"You have the ring, I assume?"

She nodded. "Safe in a box upstairs. I put it on a new chain. I'll have to wear it to open the vortex." She stopped a moment, struck by a sudden idea. "But Mer, we know what to expect this time. Why don't you come with me?"

"And meet Sam and Dean?" Mer sounded wistful. "Well, much as I'd love to, much as I'll miss you, you know I can't leave Alex. And trans-universe travel, well..."

"A bit of a strain on a marriage, I'm sure," Rachelle said lightly, while inside her heart broke at the thought of leaving her friend again. There really was no one like her Mer.

"But I can help you. And Amy and Shawna will too. You can't go on like this, Rachelle. If going back to Dean is the only way you can find sanity, well... We'll find a way to get you there."

For the first time in eight months, Rachelle felt like things were going to be all right.

Later that night, as she lay in her bed upstairs, Rachelle fingered the ring that had started it all, the purple stone shining in the moonlight. It was really happening.

I'm gonna find a way to save Dean from Hell.

X X X

A/N CFEditor speaking. It's been a pleasure writing this, and so much fun. Wanted to thank all of you for being such loyal readers and my coauthors for being such amazing coauthors. We've already gotten requests for more stories with Rachelle and Dean. We are thinking about doing a sequel to this story. Let us know what you think, what you'd like. We're always open to ideas.