Signs

banner by Marlislash Gabs

banner by Marlislash Gabs

Title: Signs

Fandom: Supernatural

Genre: Sentinel-Guide Bonding, Friendship, Angst

Pairings: Charlie Bradbury/Dean Winchester, Kevin Tran/Sam Winchester (platonic)

Warnings: Some Canon-level graphic Violence

Rating: Teen and Up, Not explicit

Beta: Naelany

Dean fell out of the portal and landed flat on his back on the forest floor knocking his head pretty hard on the ground.

“Son of a bitch,” He yelled out as he laid there for a moment trying to take stock of any possible injuries. As he started to get up off the ground he felt blinding pain in his eyes from the light filtering through the trees.  Closing his eyes he tried to block out the light and control the sensitivity. When he finally got that under control several cars from the highway, which he estimated was over a mile away, passed by at high speeds and the noise made his ears feel like they were about to burst. His breath was ragged as he tried to regain control of all of his senses. He attempted to stand up on shaky legs but they started to give way and  Dean stumbled forward crashing into one of the trees. Slumping down on the ground he stayed there for a few minutes as he laned back and rested against the tree while trying to get his breath under control. He had no idea what the hell was going on with him.  Maybe being in Purgatory for so long had screwed with his senses. It had been so eerily quiet there, very little sound, and the sky was always gray and absent of true light. When he finally felt steadier he pushed off the tree and slowly made his way towards the highway. Stopping every few minutes as he regained more of his composure.

About an hour later he reached the interstate and sighed in relief as a truck pulled over to offer him a ride. Accepting it he hopped in the cab and laid his head back and closed his eyes. They  still  hurt from the light but slowly he was gaining control over his senses. He clamped his hands over his ears each time a car would pass them and  the noise from the engines painful to his already overtaxed ears.

When they reached the middle of a small town the driver took pity on him and gave him some cash. It wasn’t much, about twenty-five bucks in some small bills and the loose change he had in his coin cup, but Dean was more than grateful. He thanked the driver for his generosity and stumbled out of the truck. The driver asked if he was okay and Dean reassured him that he would be fine. The driver reluctantly pulled away and Dean waved to the man as he drove off.  Dean almost wept in relief when he found a rare payphone and dialed a familiar number.

“This is Sam,” The voice on the other end of the line said and Dean couldn’t have been happier than to hear his brother’s voice.

“Sammy, oh god Sammy it’s so good to hear your voice,” Dean leaned into the booth, feeling more tired than he had ever felt in his life.

“Who the hell is this?’ Dean could tell by the tone of voice that Sam was instantly on alert.

“Sammy, come on it’s me, you know Dean, your brother?” Dean’s voice held a note of confusion as he stared at the phone in front of him.

“Look I don’t know who the hell you are but Crowley knows to stay the fuck away from me.” Dean heard the slamming of the phone and was reminded of a similar conversation just four years prior.

“What the hell?” Dean looked confused at the phone for a minute before he put more money in and re-dialed the number.

“Look, if this is another of Crowley’s pranks-“ The voice on the other end of the line was angrier than Dean had ever heard from Sam.

“Sammy, it’s me.” Dean tried to keep his frustration down. “Christmas, you were 7 years old and Bobby had given you something to give to Dad for a special present. When Dad didn’t show you gave it to me. It was the amulet Sammy, you gave me the amulet.” Dean swallowed hard hoping to make Sam realize that it really was him.

“Dean?” The name was said so softly that Dean almost missed the tone of sadness in his brother’s voice. “Dean, Where are you?”

“I have no idea Sammy, I’ll have to find out and call you back. But Sammy something happened to me, I’m having trouble.” Pain lanced through his eyes once again as lights from the passing cars sent him into another overload.

Sam was on instant alert, “What’s going on?”

“I’m having trouble with my hearing, sounds hurt like a goddam son of a bitch. It’s like I hear everything at once. Light, blinding,” Dean put a hand over his ear and doubled over, “Sammy, help me,” he cried out.

Shit, he couldn’t have.  Sam thought and  there was only one thing he could do. He went downstairs to where Kevin was working on the demon tablet.

“Kevin,” Sam’s breath was shallow as he was trying to hold back his emotions, “It’s Dean.”

Kevin looked up from what he was working on, “What?” His head whipped up from his work as he stared at the hunter.

“I don’t know how, but it’s Dean. Kevin, he needs help. He came online.”

Kevin’s eyes widened as he grabbed for the phone not believing what he was hearing.

“Dean, is it really you?” Kevin looked up at Sam with wide eyes.

“Kevin? Oh god you’re okay.” For a second time relief washed through him at hearing Kevin’s voice.

“Dean, Sam said you’re having trouble.” Kevin sent a wave of calm through his voice towards Dean.

“Yeah, yeah my eyes hurt, I hear everything,” He groaned in pain as he clutched the phone to his ear.

“Dean, listen to me. I’m going to help you, but you have to do exactly as I say, okay?” Kevin kept projecting calm through his voice to try to bring Dean down from the sensory overload he’d been experiencing.

“What the hell is happening to me?” He yelled out.

“Let’s get you calmed down, then we’ll meet you somewhere, okay? We’ll explain everything, but not over the phone.”

“Fine, fine, just get me out of this.” Dean did as Kevin instructed and slowly he was able to gain control of his senses one at a time. He didn’t know how the teenager did it but after a short time Dean finally felt like himself for the first time since he got out of Purgatory. By the time he hung up he was even steadier on his feet. Dean looked around and noticed a bar just down the street and he hoped he could find out where he was.

He walked in and sat down at the bar. Gaining the attention of the bartender he asked, “I know this is gonna’ sound crazy, but can you tell me where I am?”

“Yeah that does sound crazy. You’re in Augusta, Maine, you get a little too drunk there, pal?” He took in Dean’s condition, raising his brow in concern.

Dean huffed out a laugh, “Yeah, somethin’ like that.” He had asked the bartender for some change and handed over two of the one-dollar bills the driver had given him. At the same time he ordered one of his favorite beers and handed over another five.  After taking  a long pull from the bottle he thunked it down on the bar and spit it out, “What the hell is this?” Dean growled out.

“It’s what you ordered pal, not my fault if you don’t like it.” The bartender turned his back on Dean and went to go serve the others at the bar. Frustrated Dean threw a couple of bills on the bar, then walked out back to the pay phone. He called Sam to let him know where he was and they made plans to meet at Bobby’s safe house in Montana.

Dean surreptitiously looked around at the cars scattered in the parking lot. There were two in the back of the lot where it was darker and less likely for anyone to see what he was doing. Taking off his jacket he wrapped it around his arm to help protect it then smashed in the window. Crouching down he waited to see if anyone came out of the bar and when they didn’t he opened the door, hotwired the car and took off.

It took about five days for Dean to make it to the cabin. He had to stop several times when it got too bright or too loud for him. He hustled some pool at several bars along the way and was able to stuff his pockets with enough cash to buy some clothes, toiletries and other supplies. The one time he tried to put on some fresh clothes he broke out in a terrible rash. He had to stop at a laundromat to wash the clothes he was wearing and decided not to use any detergent, he was afraid of what it would do to his skin. About two days into the long drive he pulled over to the side of the road and used the map he had acquired at the last gas station he stopped at to figure out where he was.  He noticed that he was close to a Hunter’s bar and decided to make his way there. The one thing he needed was a weapon. He hadn’t felt safe without one. Hustling some more pool before heading to the Hunter’s bar he was flush with enough cash to obtain a handgun and a knife. Dean finally felt like his own self again with the weight of the weapon in his pocket. His journey took another three days and when he finally pulled up to Bobby’s cabin and saw Sam running  out of the door Dean wanted to weep with joy.

He slowly got out of the car and practically ran to Sam. They embraced and just held each other for a long time, both trying to hold back their emotions.

Sam was the first one to pull back, “Dean, I can’t believe you’re here.” Sam pulled him back in for a rough hug, then released him. “Come on.” He shut his emotions down as he walked back into the cabin.

Dean walked after him and entered the cabin and saw Kevin was there. “You brought Kevin? Are you insane? What about Crowley?” Dean’s anger flared up at seeing the teenager there knowing the danger this put them all in. They had sworn to protect the prophet at all costs. Now, here Kevin was exposed and it pissed Dean off.

“Dean…” Sam blew out a breath and slowly sat down on the couch next to Kevin, “What I’m about to tell you is going to sound crazy, but when are our lives not crazy?” Sam took a moment before he started to explain what had been happening in the last year.

“After you disappeared Crowley had demons waiting for us. Both Kevin and I were taken. He was trying to get Kevin to read the tablet for him.” Sam closed his eyes against the flood of memories. “He used a shapeshifter to first make me believe you were dead.” He wanted to give in to the anger that thinking about his time with Crowley always brought out in him but he didn’t. “He tortured me, for months. But, while I was there something happened to me. I believe it’s maybe the same as what you’re going through. Dean, we’re both Sentinels.”

“What?!” Dean surged out of his chair. “What are you talking about?”

“It took me a while to figure it out. Dean, I found a journal in one of Bobby’s stashes. Mom was a Sentinel and Dad was her Guide. It would explain why Dad went as crazy as he did. Losing her like he did fueled his obsession over finding the yellow-eyed Demon. And, it seems that Bobby was a Sentinel also. I’m actually beginning to think that most Hunters are but it’s only a theory.”

“Why didn’t we come on-line before?”

“I think we did. I think I originally did during Cold Oak, but dying and coming back I believe it suppressed those instincts again. Then when Ruby…” He cast his eyes down as he thought of the demon that got him addicted to demon blood. “When I was drinking demon blood it suppressed it even further. I think Cas and the Angels knew what we were, Dean. When Cas pulled you out of Hell, I think you originally came on-line also but when Cas gave us the runes on our ribs to hide us from the other Angels, I think he did something to suppress it again. We’ve always been just almost coming on-line. So, now that there is no longer anyone or anything interfering, the stress of you in Purgatory and my capture by Crowley pushed us to finally let those instincts free.” He waited to see just what Dean would say.

“Well son of a fucking bitch.” Dean’s face hardened as he looked from Sam to Kevin, “So, why is Kevin here? You didn’t explain that, Sammy.”

“Well…” Sam swallowed hard as he had a sheepish look on his face, “Kevin had to come with me.”

“Sammy.” It was that tone that Dean used when he got frustrated with his brother. “What are you talking about?” Dean stood in front of his brother as his expression went from hard to concerned.

“He’s my Guide, Dean.” Sam waited for it, and he was surprised that it took as long as it did.

“Your Guide?” Dean stalked to the kitchen area and back, “Your goddamn Guide. No, no not possible he’s the damn prophet.” Dean crossed his arms and stared down at the two men in front of him.

“Yeah he’s still the prophet Dean, but,” Sam inhaled sharply, “He’s also my Guide, and before you get your panties in a twist, it’s not sexual. And I know that’s where your mind went.” Sam shook his head.

“Sam? I don’t understand.” Dean was more confused than ever.

“Yeah neither did Jim Ellison. The Alpha Prime of the United States.”

“Sam, what the hell? You went to a damn government official? What the hell were you thinking? Or were you even thinking?” Dean’s eyes flashed hot as he tried to comprehend just what his little brother had been doing over the the time he was in Purgatory, which he still hadn’t asked how long he had been gone.

“Dean, you have to understand. I was a mess. When I came online, it was in the middle of Crowley’s compound. The Sentinel…” and this was the part that Sam feared telling Dean the most, “My Sentinel accessed those gifts that I already had. The ones that the demon blood brought out.” His voice was almost a whisper as he said this. “I got Kevin and I out of there, but by the time we escaped,” he drew in a breath and continued, “I was in feral overdrive. Kevin didn’t know what to do so he called Jim.” Sam tried to suppress those memories of what he had done to escape Crowley. it still haunted his dreams, just like every other horrific thing from his life.

“Have you ever heard of the Irish idea of Anam cara?” Sam was amused by the confused look that Dean was giving him.

“No, it’s some geek thing isn’t it?” Dean tried to keep his patience with his brother.

“It’s the idea of soul-bonding. It’s on a spiritual level. Kevin being a prophet and me being an Angelic vessel, our bond is on a deep spiritual level. It…” Sam frowned as his emotions were churned up way too high. Too much had happened in such a short time that he was close to an emotional zone out.

“Sam,” Kevin grabbed his hands and pushed his empathic gift out towards his Sentinel to help calm him down. “You have to calm down, you can’t zone out right now. Remember what Jim said?”

“What did Jim say to you Sammy?”

“I hold onto my emotions too tightly. If I go into an emotional zone out,” Sam kept a steady gaze on his brother as he continued, “it could be permanent.” Sam closed his eyes and took a deep breath letting his guide bring him back down. He hesitated as he looked towards Dean. “Jim said I can’t be away from Kevin, at least until I find better ways to purge my emotions.”

“So, does this mean I have to find my Guide?” Dean scrunched up his face. He really didn’t like this, not one bit. If he could he would suppress this thing inside himself and go back to being just Dean Winchester, Monster Hunter. But, he knew it wasn’t possible. He was going to have to learn to live like this and he didn’t know if he was ready.

_________________________________

Several weeks later Dean still hadn’t taken Sam’s advice in seeking out Jim Ellison and Blair Sandberg. He didn’t want anything to do with this Sentinel business and he made everyone around him know. He was making both Sam and Kevin miserable, especially when Kevin was trying to translate the tablet. One good thing bonding with Sam had done was stabilize his own Prophet gifts. He was able to read and translate the tablet much easier and the headaches, eye-strain, and near paranoia he had been experiencing were tamped down. It helped even more when the brothers and Kevin had found and moved into the Men of Letter’s bunker. They now had a safe, secure place to live and work.

“Hey look at this, I think this may be a case.” Sam looked up from his laptop where he was studying a news report out of Farmington Hills, MI. “This first guy somehow gets torn apart, but he was in his apartment asleep at the time. And look here,” He showed Dean the tree of life symbol tattooed on the victim’s wrist. “Statement from his friend is that he never had a tattoo.”

“Okay, that does sound like our kind of case.” After packing some clothes and the Sentinel friendly toiletries that Kevin had foisted on him Dean met Sam in the underground garage. When he approached the Impala he nearly wept with joy. It had been too long since he had sat in Baby, his pride and joy, that he made a near obscene groan as he slipped into the driver’s seat.

“Do you need some time alone there Dean?” Sam smirked at the lethal look on his brother’s face.

“Shut-up Sammy,” Dean couldn’t quite keep the smile off his face as he threw the car in gear and peeled out of the garage and headed towards Farmington.

During the course of their investigation they figured out that the victims were involved in a weekend fantasy game or a LARP – Live Action Role Playing game – called Moondoor. When they finally got to the park they were eventually shown to the Queen’s tent and as soon as they entered they stopped cold and both brothers eyes widened in shock.

“Charlie?” They said in unison.

Charlie herself was stunned to see the brothers standing there, “No, no you guys can’t be here, I am not doing this again.” She turned away from them and started to move out of the tent but Dean grabbed her arm, pulling her back into the tent.

“Oh no you don’t, we need to know what in the hell is going on here.”

Charlie sighed in frustration as she marched back into the tent, “Well, see I’m the Queen, can’t you tell? And Moondoor is my domain,” She tried for a smile but it fell short. She went on to explain the game and the mysterious deaths that had been happening around the camp. Sam and Dean agree to help and eventually they discovered a Fairy that was being controlled by one of the game’s participants. They were able to free the Fairy and even participated in the end battle to decide the fate of the make-believe country.

After saving Charlie, the Fairy and Moondoor, Sam and Dean went on to tell the redhead just what had been happening with them over the last year.

“So, you, Sam are now a Sentinel?” Charlie scrunched up her face as she tried to piece together the brothers’ lives.

“Seems like we’ve always been on the edge of coming on-line but with all of the interferences in our lives it never happened, not till now.”

“Wow, well good luck with that.” She chuckled under her breath as she engulfed the taller Winchester in her arms. “You take care, Samwise,” she teased as she kissed his cheek.

“Okay Dean, come here.” She smiled even brighter at Dean as she also wrapped him in her arms. Dean wound his arms tightly around her, not realizing how much he had missed the funny, geeky, hyper, nerd girl. When she reached up and softly kissed his cheek a warm bright energy passed between them wrapping itself around them and settled deep within their souls. Dean pushed Charlie out of his arms and looked at her dumbfounded.

“What the hell was that?” He growled out as a surge of anger rose up in him. He could feel a connection to her, a brush along his awareness as he looked at her long and hard.

“Oh, oh wow, I never thought, oh boy I can’t believe this is happening!” Charlie was frantically walking back and forth trying to calm herself down.

“Charlie, what just happened?” Dean could feel her distress and he had an inkling he knew but he didn’t want it, didn’t want this, he didn’t want to have to be responsible for another person. It was bad enough he had to take care of Sammy, he didn’t want anyone else in his life. Didn’t want the possibility of someone else in his life possibly dying, he didn’t think he could take it.

“Well, Dean, it seems that…” She gave him a quizzical look as she tried to quickly reconcile herself to the fact that she accidentally found her Sentinel. “See, we sort of bonded.” She held her breath because she wasn’t quite sure what Dean’s reaction was going to be.

“Son of a bitch!” Dean just stared at the three other people in the tent. He didn’t want this, and he knew he was fucked.

_____________________________________________________

Two weeks later and Dean was still denying his bond with Charlie. He didn’t want to admit that it was physically painful when she was away from him but he was trying to learn to deal with his dialed up senses without her. Oh it wasn’t that she was completely gone from his life, no she was in the bunker with Dean, Sam and Kevin but he went out of his way to avoid her as much as possible. He didn’t want to have to be responsible for someone else. His father had pushed him to take care of Sam, to always be responsible for him and he felt like he failed on so many levels. He didn’t even want to talk about the guilt he harbored over Adam and how they hadn’t found a way to save him from Hell.

After helping to end the Apocalypse and save the world he had gone to Lisa and Ben, a woman he had fallen in love with, and a kid he loved like a son, but his old life caught-up to him and it put them in danger.  He even took on the responsibility of Bobby’s death. If he and Sam had only found a way to stop Cas and his false Godhood then Bobby might still be alive. And, finally having to leave Cas in Purgatory was tearing him apart; The thought that he left his best friend  behind. He tried to hold on, god did he try but too many things had happened all at once and his best friend got left in the hell that was Purgatory. He tried to keep Cas safe but he felt like he failed at even that. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about Charlie, the fact was he cared too much. She was important to him, even though they met only twice they had become close. He didn’t want to have that responsibility hanging on his shoulders. Added in the fact that the damn Angels might have always known what they were and kept it from them just angered him even more. No, he didn’t want his Guide even though he felt the bond deep inside of him, it was too painful to now have someone in his life that closely connected to him when she could be taken away from him at any moment.

The first week he was in the Bunker they had to get sheets and clothes that were Sentinel friendly. Sam explained about his breakouts and how he had to be careful what he put against his skin. When he tried to cook foods that he was used to, the spices irritated his nose and taste buds. He had to re-learn what foods he could eat and it frustrated him. He also learned really quickly not to get drunk. The one time he did, the after effects on his senses screwed him up for almost two days. That was the one and only time he allowed Charlie close enough to help him, otherwise he was dealing with this on his own. The one big relief was the white noise machine that he was able to wire throughout his room. He was also thankful that at least he could still tolerate his music, he would have gone crazy if that had to be curbed along with everything else.

He was stretched out on his bed, doing some meditation exercises while listening to his music when he sensed her before he heard her. He knew she was going to confront him but he didn’t know if he was ready to talk yet.

“Dean.” Charlie stood in his doorway hoping that he would talk to her, “Dean, we need to talk.”

“No.” Dean kept his eyes closed as he stayed on the bed not moving.

“Dean, you can’t keep hiding from me.” Charlie walked in and sat on the edge of his bed. When she grabbed his hand in her own he almost breathed a sigh of relief. The pain subsided and that just pissed him off even more.

“Charlie, I don’t want to talk about this, okay?” He opened his eyes and looked into her eyes, his jaw was set as he frowned against how he felt. He did not want to feel this relief because it meant that he would always need her.

“Dean, you’re my Sentinel and –“ Dean sat up and threw his headphones across the room.

“No, do no finish that statement, Charlie, I swear to god.”

“What are you afraid of? This could be a good thing, a really cool, really great pretty awesome super hero kinda thing.” She smiled her wide goofy smile at him hoping it would help him to open up.

“I’m going for a drive,” He stormed out of his room grabbing his keys to the Chevy and took off a short-time later.

“Dammit Dean,” Charlie sighed under her breath. It wasn’t like she asked for this either but she knew that Dean needed someone. The bond between them was strong already but he kept refusing it. She left his room and went in search of Sam to try to talk to him to figure out what they could do to help Dean accept this.

She found the younger Winchester in the library with Kevin. The two were almost inseparable. From what she understood that was how it was with most bonded pairs. The Guide in her was aching for Dean, she wanted to be close and it hurt, not just physically but emotionally as well. He was like the big brother she never had, but now, it was even more. The more he pushed her away the worse the Guide part of her suffered.

“Sam, we have to talk.” She stood with arms crossed staring at him.

“He still won’t talk to you?” Sam raised a brow. He wasn’t surprised. With all that Dean had taken on in his life he would see his bond with Charlie as one more responsibility that he wouldn’t want.

“No, and we need to figure this out.” She sat heavily in one of the large reading chairs across from where Sam and Kevin were working.

“I could call Jim and Blair; the time Kevin and I spent there really helped us.” He sat back from his research and eyed the redhead.

“He has to actually acknowledge the bond Sam, he has to come to terms that he’s a Sentinel. Hell he hasn’t even asked about his spirit animal.” She smiled as Podo came out to play. The ferret was a sly little thing when he wanted to be but now he knew she needed the comfort. He snaked his way across her body and curled around her neck offering her support and companionship. While she was sitting there Tianshi, Kevin’s spirit animal, a Siamese cat came to curl up next on her lap while he playfully batted at Podo. The two animals had taken to each other quickly, which Kevin quite enjoyed.

After sitting there for a while feeling useless Charlie got up and started towards another part of the bunker, “I’m going to wander for a while. I’ll try to talk to him when he comes back.”

Charlie found herself in one of the unexplored supply rooms at the back of the bunker. She was innocently looking around when Podo dashed between her legs chasing after Tianshi which caused her to stumble backwards, crash into a metal shelving unit and dislodge a large sealed jar. When the jar crashed to the ground and cracked open a green mist swirled around and coalesced into that of a hag. The woman was green and looked like something out of an old fairytale. She started to advance on Charlie and pointed a finger at her.

Find me the key, girl, the hag said in Charlie’s mind.

“I, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Charlie backed up in fear of the woman, she felt the pure, unadulterated evil coming from her.

You know what I want, NOW FIND IT. The hag practically yelled while a picture of the key formed in Charlie’s mind. She gasped because she had seen it. It was something that Dean currently had displayed in his room.

You get me the key, or I kill everyone here. The hag narrowed her eyes and started towards Charlie. When she had the girl backed into a corner the hag touched her forehead and a dark energy invaded Charlie’s mind. The Guide in her fought with that energy but without the added strength of her Sentinel the Guide was slowly losing. Too soon the dark energy took over and Charlie was doing the hag’s bidding. She entered Dean’s room and found the object that the hunter had found weeks earlier  while going through some of the storage boxes that were lying around the bunker. Charlie grabbed it and ran back to the room with the hag.

The evil woman grabbed the object out of Charlie’s hand, then using her magic she conjured up a door, using the key she unlocked the door, gripped  Charlie around the neck and shoved her through. The hag wasn’t far behind, grabbing the key then walked through the door locking it behind her. Neither of them saw the other woman who had also been trapped in the jar slowly wake-up to see the hag kidnapping Charlie.

“Oh shit, this is not good.” The woman tried to make it before the door closed but by then it was too late. “Damn it,” she cried out as she beat on wall where the door had been.

_______________________________________

Dean was driving back to the bunker after having calmed down somewhat. He had needed the time to clear his head as he thought about the new dynamic in his and Charlie’s relationship. As much as he didn’t want this, he knew there was no going back, and that was pissing him off even more. This was just one more thing in his life that he had no control over. He was tired, just plain tired of something ‘other’ dicking around with his life. First it was his father, then it was the yellow-eyed demon, then angels, and now the Sentinel. He could feel it trying to reach out for Charlie and it was tiring trying to keep that tight control on his emotions that he always had. He was frustrated when he shoved a Lynyrd Skynyrd tape into the tape deck and turned the music up as loud as he could stand it. After a few minutes his mind emptied and he didn’t think about anything else and that was when he felt it, a sharp spike of pain as the bond with Charlie was being stretched and pulled like never before. He swerved as he held onto his head trying to get himself under control. Luckily he didn’t crash into anything when he was able to stop abruptly at the side of the road. He screamed out in pain as something snapped inside of him. And when he passed out he only had one name on his lips. “Charlie,” he sobbed as the blackness hit him hard.

Dean woke-up sometime later with a splitting headache and the feeling like something was missing. He was in his room and the white noise machine was on and there was a man he didn’t know sitting cross-legged in the only chair in his room.

“Who the hell are you?” Dean growled out as he tried to open his eyes.

“Oh good, you’re finally awake. Your brother has been anxiously waiting for you to wake up.” The man uncrossed his legs and brought the chair closer to the bed. “I’m Blair Sandburg. Your brother called us in a panic when he found you passed out in your car. You’ve been out for almost three days, Dean.” Blair tried to keep the Sentinel calm as he slowly sat up.

“What the hell happened to me?” He was grateful that the lights were dim because his eyes hurt, in fact most of him hurt, but what he felt the most was this painful hole where Charlie should be and wasn’t. “Wait, where’s Charlie?” He tried to surge out of bed only to be pushed back down.

“That is what we are trying to find out. Is it okay if I bring Jim in here? Then we can all try to figure this out together.” Blair kept projecting an aura of calm to help Dean to stay focused.

“Sure, whatever.” Dean was just too tired to fight this at the moment. He watched as Blair got up and called for his partner. Once they were both in the room they had Dean walk them through the last few weeks.

Blair whistled when Dean was done with his story. “That’s quite the tale, Dean.” Jim studied the man on the bed for a while. He knew he had used some of his influence to get the truth out of the brother and he wasn’t sorry. When Sam and Kevin had shown up at the center the young Sentinel had been a huge mess. When he finally opened up and recited the story of his and his brother’s lives it all seemed made-up. But, all during their talks the story never wavered and the Alpha Prime had to concede that Sam was telling the truth.

“Look, I don’t give a shit whether you believe me or not. Where is Charlie?” Dean growled under his breath.

“That is something that you may want to hear from Sam but first Dean, you need to get some more rest and the Chief here is going to help you get in touch with your spirit animal.”

“Great, that’s just great. Something else I’ll have to be responsible for.” He blew out his breath as he leaned back against the wall.

“Dean, I can feel the guilt you hold onto much too tightly. You’re going to have to learn to let that go. You take on too much of the wrong kinds of responsibility. The only ones you truly need to be responsible for are you and your Guide. That’s it, the rest you can’t let rule your life.” Blair tried to get through to the new Sentinel but he could see it wasn’t working. “Look I know you’ve taken on the losses that you’ve endured onto your own shoulders, but Dean each of those people made their own decisions. What they did or didn’t do shouldn’t be your concern. What you need to do now is let yourself acknowledge and accept your Sentinel gifts.”

Dean shook his head for a minute and came to a conclusion. “Fine, let’s get this spirit thing out of the way and then  I need to find out what happened to Charlie.” That was the only thing he was going to worry about right now.

“Okay, close your eyes and relax.” Blair walked him through calming down and centering himself. As he listened to Blair’s instructions Dean slipped into a deep meditative state. After a few minutes  he slowly opened his eyes and found that he wasn’t where he was a few minutes ago.

“What the hell? Where am I?” Dean looked at the man across from him who was smiling, trying to hold back a laugh.

“We’re on the Psionic plane. Dean, I need you to concentrate and reach out in your mind for your spirit animal.”

“This is ridiculous you know. Another damn spiritual plane, and I thought I had seen it all.” He shook his head for a moment but eventually did as Blair instructed. He tried to empty his mind, though he felt ridiculous and didn’t think anything would happen. Still, he went along with the shaggy haired man. They sat like that for what seemed like forever and Dean was about to give up when a rather large golden tiger with black stripes and a beautiful white, gold and black face stalked up to Dean and bumped him in his side.

“I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything less. You and your brother both have very powerful spirit animals, Dean. This also means that you need to be careful. Tigers are fiercely protective of their pride.” And although he only spent a few hours in the presence of the hunter he knew that underneath that cool outward exterior there was a dangerous man lurking underneath.

Dean hesitated a moment before he stroked the back of the animal. Even though he knew it was mostly psionic energy he still felt the fur of the tiger. The animal let out a loud rumbling purr as it bumped its head once again against Dean. The hunter smiled for the first time since being spit out of Purgatory and laid his head against the tigers side. Blair let them play for a while to get to know each other but he also knew they needed to get back.

“Dean, we can’t stay here much longer. We need to get back. Do you have a name in mind for him?” Blair smiled as he watched Dean play with the tiger with an almost childlike enthusiasm and his heart ached at how much this man had lost.

Dean didn’t know why the name came to him but for some reason it just seemed to fit. “Bobby. His name is Bobby.” He couldn’t quite keep stem the flow of tears as he thought of the man that had been more like a father to him than John Winchester had ever been. Bobby protected them and loved them with a fierceness that rivaled his own.

“Okay, let’s get you back to reality so you can find your Guide.” A few minutes later Dean opened his eyes and felt a little more solid. He didn’t know why, but knowing that Bobby was there, would always be there settled something in him. For the first time in weeks he was finding his balance again, and when he got up off the bed he was steadier, calmer, and more centered.

He made his way through the bunker and found Sam and Kevin talking with a strange woman.

“Dean,” Sam surged off the couch and engulfed the older Winchester in a hug. “Man I was worried about you.”

“I’m okay, Sammy.” He looked over at the woman who looked like she just walked out of an Indiana Jones movie. “And who are you?” He stood there with crossed arms staring down the woman.

“I’m Dorothy and your Guide Charlie has been kidnapped by the Wicked Witch and taken to OZ.”

 It was a testament to just how screwed up the brothers’ live were that hearing OZ was a real place didn’t faze the hunter at all. He just shook his head and chalked it up to one more weird aspect of their lives.

“Well son of a bitch,” he growled as he looked at everyone in the room. “So, how do we get there?”

______________________________________________________________________________

Blair and Jim stayed for a few days to help Dean learn to cope with his senses while they searched through all of the information that the Men of Letters had on OZ and possible ways to breach the barrier between the two worlds. Dean was getting more and more frustrated as the bond was stretching further and further. He could often be found down at the shooting range trying to purge his emotions on the target dummies. He was angry at everything. He was angry at being a Sentinel, at being tied to Charlie, that Charlie had been taken from him and finally that they couldn’t find a way to OZ. Every lead gave him hope, only to be dashed when it turned out a dead end. This was where Jim had found him yet again.

“Dean, you can’t keep doing this. You have to calm down; you keep skating too close to a feral episode and if that happens you aren’t any use to anyone else, let alone Charlie.” Jim’s voice was harsh but he knew the hunter would respond to that better than the coddling Sam was doing. Just letting Dean try to work this out on his own was not getting them anywhere.

“And what the hell am I supposed to do? What good is being a Sentinel if it isn’t  gonna help me find my best friend, huh? You got a solution hiding up your ass there, Jimmy boy? ‘Cause I don’t see one. We’ve gone through everything in this damn place and not one goddamn idea on how to get to her.” He was breathing hard from the surge of anger in him.

“I know Dean, but you are no good to Charlie if you end up in a zone out or a feral state. You need to clamp down on those emotions and get yourself together. Now I’m going back in there and help your brother to figure out a way to get you to Oz.” Jim still didn’t believe half the stuff the brothers had told him but he was playing along to get Dean to settle down. He was under the impression that maybe Dean had pushed Charlie so far away from him she decided that she just had enough and left without telling him where she was. In all honesty he thought the Winchesters were bat-shit crazy, but if going on this little endeavor would keep the two very powerful Sentinels placated he would go along with it, for now. He did not want to have to deal with these two if they ever went feral. He had a suspicion that if that ever happened the tight lid on their emotions would snap and no one around them would be safe.

“Fine.” Dean took a deep breath and knew that Jim was probably right. He needed to get his head together or else Charlie would be lost to him forever and he just didn’t think he would come back from that loss.

Almost as soon as he got back to the library Sam jumped up with a book in his hand excitedly talking with Kevin. When he saw Dean he flashed his puppy dog smile at his brother.

“I think I found something.” Dean just stood with arms crossed and waited. They had been down this road before in the last few days and he wasn’t going to let himself have hope. “Don’t give me that look, Dean. I know you’re frustrated but I’m serious this time. Look.” He handed Dean the book to check it out himself.

Dean read through it before he turned to Dorothy who had stayed to help as well, “Does this look like it’ll work?”

Dorothy looked through the passage and her smile got bigger the more she read. “I think so, but where are we going to get an angel?” She looked to the brothers.

“Oh, that won’t be a problem, trust us.” Dean and Sam had to chuckle at the looks on their faces. They quickly went down to the pentagram that was permanently drawn on the floor of one of the storage rooms. Quickly setting everything they needed for the spell the two brothers worked in unison  and used the spell to call upon the angels. Jim and Blair stood back and their earlier assessment that the brothers were certifiably insane was further cemented by the idea that they believed angels were real.

They all waited with bated breath for something to happen when they heard from the other side of the room.

“Hey kiddo’s, missed me?” The blond man sucking on a lollipop smiled at Sam and gave him a saucy wink.

“Gabriel.” They both looked stunned to see him because they thought he had been killed at The Elysian Fields hotel.

“Not dead as you can see.” He studied the Winchesters for a few moments. “There is something quite different about you two chuckleheads.” Gabe did a slow circle around them, sizing them up. “Well I’ll be a flying monkey, you both finally did it; you’re both now Sentinels. I was wondering how long it would take after we all left you alone to your own devices.”

“Gabriel, we need your help.” Sam gave him the full on puppy dog look, to which Gabriel just rolled his eyes.

“What is it, kiddo?” He narrowed his eyes at the hunter, not trusting whatever it was they were going to ask him to do.

“We need your help getting to Oz.” Dean just stood there with his arms crossed and a pissed off look on his face.

“Well now that was certainly unexpected.” Gabe jumped down from the table he was sitting on. “I can help but I get to come along.” He smiled wickedly at the group in the room.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Charlie woke-up to find herself on a bed of straw in a cabin. She took stock of herself and found she wasn’t hurt physically, but the internal pain from how far her bond with Dean was stretched was excruciating. She wanted to wake-up screaming, but she knew she needed to get herself under control. Using the exercises that her mother had taught her when she was young she was able to dial back down enough to move without it hurting.

“Oh, you’re awake.” Charlie heard the squeaking of metal when she looked up into the face of a man that looked to be entirely made of metal.

“I think I need to take the red pill now thank you very much.” She looked around her to see if this was a joke.

“What is a red pill?” The metal person asked Charlie.

“It’s,” Charlie was about to explain the Matrix trilogy but thought much better of it. “You know what? Nevermind.” She carefully stood up from the bed looking around her. “Um, where am I? And how did I get here?” Her face was scrunched up in confusion. She had taken a look outside the window and nothing looked familiar.

“You’re In my hut,” the metal man said way too cheerfully even for Charlie.

“I kinda got that part, but where is your hut?”

“In the woods,” the metal man said slowly because he thought that maybe this girl wasn’t quite as smart as Dorothy.

“Look you overgrown hunk of metal, what country are we in?” Charlie advanced unafraid of the construct in front of her.

“Well, we’re where the Winkies live, don’t you know that, you silly girl?”

“Okay that’s it, where’s a screwdriver, cause if you don’t tell me where I am right this minute I will take you apart piece by piece.” Charlie was getting more and more upset the longer this crazy conversation was going on.

The metal man gulped as he watched the fiery red-haired girl, believing she would do exactly as she threatened.

“This is the land of Oz and my hut is in-“ Charlie held up a hand in front of him stopping him from saying anything else.

“Oz, as in The Wizard of Oz? As in Dorothy and Toto and the Scarecrow-“ She stopped herself and stared at the metal man once more and groaned, “You’re the Tin Man aren’t you?”

He perked up at that and a smile graced his lips. “Why yes I am.”

“Seriously, sometimes I just want to say fuck my life.” She shook her head as she took stock of her surroundings. “So, Tin Man, how did I get in your hut?”

“Oh you were unconscious in the woods, so I brought you here where it was much safer.”

“Right.” Charlie tried to remember exactly what happened after the hag had pushed her through the doorway but it just wasn’t coming back to her. She watched the Tin Man for a moment and tried to wrap her head around the fact that Oz was a real place. She took a deep breath to try to calm herself down before sitting back down on the straw bed.

Charlie was excited and a little scared all at once. Excited because this was an adventure, something she’d always dreamed about, something that her D&D, video, and board game playing self always thought about. Scared because if she was in Oz that meant that Dean was back in the real world and he had no idea where she was. Which also meant the Guide in her was crying out for him, she was separated from her Sentinel just days after finding him. This wasn’t fair, even though Dean had been distant and was refusing the bond there was still this sense of home and belonging that she hadn’t had since her parent’s car accident. She had been so alone in the world for so long, survived only by sheer will and her hacking skills. Unfortunately this wasn’t a world she could hack. No computer was going to come to her rescue, in fact she wasn’t even sure if there were computers here. A heavy sigh left her as she flopped back down on the bed, Podo appearing beside her and curled up on her chest whining. He wanted the cranky, stubborn Sentinel but there was nothing they could do at the moment. No way to get Dean a message that she was alright and fear for her Sentinel returned. If Dean went into a feral state without her there was no telling what he could end up doing. It would kill him if anything happened to Sam or Kevin because he couldn’t keep the Sentinel part of himself calm.  

“Are you okay, miss?” The Tin Man sat in a chair next to Charlie, concern clearly shown on his face.

“No, no I am not okay. This is so far outside of okay.” She took a deep breath. “Okay, what would Sam and Dean do?” She got up off the bed again and went to the front door, opening it she assessed her surroundings.

“Well Tin Man, who around here can help me get back to my own world?” She stood with her arms crossed eyeing the metal man in front of her.

“Oh, well that would be Glinda, but-” His expression fell as sadness clouded his eyes.

“Okay, where can we find this Glinda?” Charlie’s enthusiasm returned to her as she thought there might be adventure here after all.

“Oh, oh no you can’t go; it’s too dangerous. She’s being held by a very powerful sorceress. You can’t even get near her castle without being attacked. Believe me, we’ve tried.”

A wicked grin crossed her face, she faced far worse with the Winchesters and she was determined to get back home. She looked around her and found a collection of axes on the wall. She pulled down a double bladed axe, swung it expertly a few times and turned to the Tin Man.

“Come on, we have a Good Witch to save, Tin guy. Let this sorceress do her worst.” She flung the door open and started in the direction she thought the main road might be. The Tin man grabbed his own axe and muttered some rather innocent curses under his breath as he quickly shuffled after the strange red-haired girl.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

“You’re telling me this person is an angel. A real honest to God angel,” Blair was walking around Gabriel trying to wrap his head around the fact that angels seemed to be real.

“That is right bucko, I am a real honest to God angel. Name’s Gabriel by the way, Blair Sandburg.” Gabriel wiggled his brows at the skeptical man as he stopped in front of the shorter being.

“Prove it.” Blair crossed his arms and glared at Gabriel, challenging him.

“You don’t really want to do that, Blair. Gabe, just leave him alone we have a much bigger problem. We need a way into Oz and we found a spell, but it-” Sam swallowed hard as he furrowed his brow. “It requires angel feathers and a vial of angel blood.”

“See, this is why I love you guys. You are always messing around with forces you can’t possibly understand, but you do it anyway.” Gabriel chuckled at him. “What will you give me in return for it, Samsquatch?” The angel smiled a slow almost sinful smile at the younger Winchester brother.

“Are you-” Sam started shuffling back and for uncomfortably, “Are you flirting with me?”

“Okay that’s it. Look you big bag of angel douchiness, Charlie is missing, and according to her,” he pointed to Dorothy who had come looking for everyone, “She’s been kidnapped and take to Oz. We found a damn spell that can get us there but we need your help.”

“Why aren’t you asking your little angel boyfriend there Deano? Oh could it be because you left baby brother behind in fucking purgatory,” Gabe yelled at the older Winchester. “Why should I help you two chuckleheads anyway? Just because you stopped the damn apocalypse doesn’t mean you have free reign on any of us any time you want.” Gabriel let a bit of his grace show in his eyes and it set Sam and Dean on edge. The angel was pissed off at them and neither of them knew why.

“Look, whatever reason you’re angry at us fine be angry, but help us find Charlie. ” Dean didn’t want to resort to begging, but it looked like he just might have to.

“I’m angry Deano,” Gabe said sharply as he advanced on the older Winchester, pushing him back inch by inch. “Because you two screw-ups keep well, screwing up, Castiel is still in Purgatory and you want me to help you find some girl? Shouldn’t you be more worried about getting your so-called BFF out of that stinking hellhole?”

“Look, we can deal with that when we get Charlie back.” Dean was trying to keep his emotions in check because he didn’t want to give into his Sentinel instincts. “Gabriel, she’s my Guide. I need her; please help us to get her back.”

“Well, why didn’t you say that in the first place?” Gabe gave Dean a cheeky grin as he fisted his hand, said a quick incantation in Enochian then opened his hand to reveal a small vial of his blood with several feathers. “Tell ya what, I’ll even do the spell for you, that way we know it’s done right, okay kiddies?”

“Yeah, okay whatever let’s just get on with it.” Dean stalked out of the room to fetch the book they found with the spell that would make a doorway into Oz for them.

“Here.” Glaring, he shoved the book at the angel and waited.

Gabe just shook his head, took the book and read through the spell.

“You two sure about this? Because once you go thorough you are going to have to find the key to get back. I will only be able to do so much over there, alternate dimensions and all that.”

“Yeah, we get it. And, I’m going too.” Kevin crossed his arms and stood next to Sam knowing his Sentinel would need him. “And you can’t really stop me now can you?”

“Hey, it’s your suicide kid.” Gabriel was more worried for the three men than he let on but he would help get them to Oz, only because he knew if Dean didn’t get his Charlie back, it could be bad for everyone.

“What do you guys need us to do?” Blair turned to Jim who was just trying to take in everything that had happened over the last few days. Of course he no longer thought the brothers were certifiably crazy because if they were, then he was too.

“Don’t hang around here for us. We have no idea how long this could take and you guys have more important things to do than to worry what’s going to happen to us. Believe me when I say we’ve handled worse.” Sam just smiled almost painfully against the memories of the things they’d gone through over the last four years.

“Alright, but call us when you get this straightened out, we want to know you’re all okay.” Jim kept his voice even. He didn’t want them to know just how worried he was for them.

“As soon as we get back, we’ll call you. Seriously we’ve got this.” Dean shook their hands as they said their goodbyes before leaving the room.

“Okay Gabriel, let’s do this.” Dean was ready, the Sentinel part of him was practically vibrating with the need to get the show on the road. They all watched as Gabe painted the symbols with his blood using his feathers on one of the walls in the storage room they were in. He said the spell cut his own hand letting more blood spill and slapped it against the wall finishing the last of the incantation. The wall glowed brightly a moment and a door appeared.

“Alright boys and, well, boys; walk through that door and you will be transported to the magical world of Oz. Don’t say I didn’t warn you and get your butts back here in one piece.” Gabe opened the door, shoved the three men through and hopped on through as the door disappeared behind him.

The three men and the angel stumbled through and landed, of all places, on a broken dilapidated yellow brick road.

“I swear to God, Sammy if you start singing that damn song I will have to hurt you.” Dean glared at his brother who had the words to the old musical right there on his lips.

“I’m not saying a word.” Sam smirked, grabbed Kevin’s hand and started whistling The Yellow Brick Road, much to Dean’s annoyance which made Sam whistle even louder.

“This is going to be worse than fucking Hell,” he grumbled under his breath as he followed after Sam and Kevin.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

“Flying monkeys? Really? It had to be damn flying monkeys?” Dean yelled as he ran the demon knife through another of the flying creatures.

“This is Oz, Dean, what did you think we’d be fighting?” Sam was trying to clean his own knife of blood. They were both hyped up from the battle and Kevin had his hands full trying to calm his Sentinel back down.

“Sam, we have to stop for a few minutes I can feel how on edge you are.” Kevin grabbed Sam’s hands and felt how shaky the Sentinel was. “You almost went feral on me there, Sam.” Kevin pushed his empathy and that other part of himself that made him a prophet of the Lord out towards Sam. “How’s your hearing?”

“Not as bad. I’ve been able to dial it back down.” Sam was swallowing hard trying to control the shaking that battle of any kind always brought out in him.

“Sam, what about eyesight? How’s that doing?”

Sam closed his eyes and let Kevin talk him through dialing back his eyesight and when he opened his eyes the light wasn’t as bright. They went through his other senses and Sam was able to normalize.

Gabriel hadn’t said a word. He just watched Kevin and Sam closely and was quite impressed by how the two were working together. Their bond was strong and if he looked at it close enough he would see that little bit of grace that lived inside each of them that made them who they were. But he didn’t look, it would be painful for him. He also didn’t want to look too closely at those feelings that churned-up inside him when he was near Sam Winchester so he put that all aside because this wasn’t about Sam or Kevin, no this was about Dean. Now when he looked at Dean and looked past all of that internal guilt the hunter carried around like a badge and he saw his soul Gabriel almost wanted to weep. As much as the older Winchester tried to protest his soul was still achingly bright and that part of him that made him a bonded Sentinel was the brightest he’d ever seen. He was determined not to let that bright soul dim. They needed to find Dean’s guide and they needed to do it quickly.

“Okay kiddos, we all ready to keep going?” The angel popped a sucker in his mouth and dropped down from the tree he was sitting in.

“Can you give us a minute?” Dean snarled out. He knew the longer he was separated from Charlie the worse he was getting. Kevin had tried to help but it just didn’t work. Dean was too attuned to Charlie. He cursed himself for pushing her away and he hoped he would get the chance to fix it before he was completely lost.

Dean dialed up his senses as he looked around at the strange, unfamiliar landscape. He tried to use his scent but everything was just so strange it almost sent him into a zone out. He needed to be careful to not overload while they tried to get a fix on Charlie’s location.

“Can’t you, you know do your angel thing and find her?” Dean growled at Gabriel.

“Well, I would if I knew this land Deano, but this is the first time I’ve ever been here,” Gabe shot back.

Dean tried to keep a lid on his temper as he glared at the angel.

“Look, let’s just keep following the road. Charlie is smart Dean; she’ll probably find a way to this main road and soon we’ll catch-up to her.”

“Fine,” Dean put his knife away and started to walk away following the yellow road. He just hoped that they would find his guide soon.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Charlie stood with an axe in her hand over the dead body of one of the flying monkeys. She hadn’t wanted it to come to that but it had attacked her and the Tin Man so there was nothing for it but to defend herself.

She hefted the axe and turned to her travelling companion. “Come on let’s get back to the road.” She started off in the direction of the main road and hoped that they could get to Glinda’s castle soon.

“Come on, it’s this way.” The Tin Man toddled off in what Charlie assumed was a  westerly direction, but she wasn’t sure. There wasn’t anyway for her to tell. They were almost to their destination when they saw a large winged creature come towards them.

Run!” Charlie screamed as the thing got closer to them. She started to run full out but the Tin Man was having trouble keeping up with her. She stopped a moment then grabbed his hand and started to pull him along. The thing was getting closer and closer till it landed right in front of them. Charlie skidded to a stop as she looked up into the face of a Chimera.

“And where are you going with this man of metal?” He roared at her.

Charlie wasn’t going to be cowed, she stood up to the creature, axe held offensively in both hands.

“I’m just trying to get to Glinda’s castle. I want to get back to my own world, to my friends. Please, just let us go.” Fear was pouring off of her in waves but she was determined to stand her ground.

“And how do you know the good witch Glinda?’ The creature lowered its large head so one of its eyes could stare directly in Charlie’s face.

The woman hunched down slightly as her face scrunched up. “He told me.” She pointed at the Tin Man. “Said if I help free her she could get me back to where I belong,” she squeaked out.

The Chimera looked her up and down putting his head even closer and sniffing her. “You smell like the truth, you feel like the truth.” He pulled his head back and contemplated the two creatures before him for a moment. “Oz is a dangerous place. If you are sincere in wanting to help the fair lady, then I will help you.”

“Yes, yes we want to help.” Charlie smiled wide hoping the Chimera believed her.

The large creature walked around her and the metal man sizing them both up before dropping down on his front legs. “Quick, on my back, I’ll take you to Glinda’s palace.” Charlie started to climb on the back of the creature when she suddenly felt her bond with Dean strengthen.

“He’s here.” She didn’t know how she knew,but she could feel it. “We have to find someone first,” she told the Chimera.

“We do not have the time for this child,” he growled at her, frustration coming through the creature’s voice.

“I don’t care, we have to find my friends first. I have an axe, don’t make me use it.” She gave the creature her best glare.

The Chimera knew deep down that the tiny woman would follow through on her threat so he decided to play along for the time being. They flew through the skies of Oz for what seemed like hours when Charlie spotted the small group of men embroiled in a battle against several hideous looking creatures.

“The Wicked Witch is back, those are her creations,” the Chimera called out over his shoulder. He circled the group once then landed not too far from the battle.  Charlie jumped down and ran right into the fray. She felt Dean and knew he had lost it and was now in full Sentinel hunt mode and dangerously close to a feral overdrive. They needed to end this battle soon so she could help him. Podo appeared and started to dart in-between the legs of the creatures hoping to help trip them.

Dean’s tiger was pacing, trying find an opening as well. When Dean sensed his Guide was close all that went through his mind was protect. He growled low in his throat as he pounced in the middle of the creatures, tearing them apart with his bare hands. Sam was trying to calm him but Dean was too far gone, his protective instinct drove him that little bit past the edge. The battle didn’t take long and Dean was crouched over the dead bodies strewn around him. Everyone except Charlie moved back away from him.

“Dean.” Charlie moved forward, ignoring the growls coming from the Sentinel. “Dean come back to me.” She opened up her empathic link to her Sentinel and tried to help calm the feral rage. “Come on Dean, they’re all dead, no one’s going to hurt me, okay?” She moved forward slowly still sending him waves of calm. Slowly, Dean started to let Charlie in as his awareness came back to him. His breathing was ragged as the adrenaline rush from the battle suddenly dropped away. Dean collapsed from battle fatigue in combination with the feral overdrive.  Charlie rushed forward and pulled Dean to her, cradling his head in her lap.

“Sh, come on Dean Winchester you better not zone out completely on me here. We have a Witch to save. She’s the only one to get us back home, so snap out of it Mr. big bad hunter.”

Appealing to the hunter side of Dean seemed to do the trick. The Sentinel part of him was still too sensitive of a subject but coaxing out the hunter she slowly got him to dial back his senses. Sitting up he looked around him and shame and guilt started to creep in.

“Un un, Dean you are not going there. You were protecting your family so get that guilt crap out of your head.” Charlie crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes as she glared hard at him.

He stared back for the longest time before he started laughing, “You have been hanging around us too long Charlie.” He smiled and shook his head as he slowly stood back up on his feet. Extending his hand down to her he helped her up.

The Chimera was staring at the group while he paced back and forth, anxious to get going.

“Can we hurry up here, Glinda doesn’t have much time and if you want to get back to wherever you came from you are going to need her,” he growled low in his throat.

Sam and Dean were instantly on alert with the large creature. “Charlie, you mind explaining?” Dean looked at the creature with a hard-set to his jaw.

“Dean, he just wants to help, okay?” She grabbed his hand to try to keep the Sentinel calm, none of them could afford for him to go into a feral overdrive again; she didn’t think Dean would survive it.

“Fine. So how do we get to this palace?”

“I can take four of you, that leaves two of you on your own.” The Chimera crouched down so some of the group could climb onto his back.

“I need to get back to my home Charlie, I think you and your friends will do just fine without me.” The Tin Man shuffled his feet because he didn’t want to say goodbye. Charlie reminded him of another young woman whom he greatly missed.

Charlie gave him a smile then kissed his cheek, “I’m sure she misses you too. Be careful, and stop taking in strange women,” she teased the metal man. To the groups amazement he blushed before he started to shuffle off.

“Okay big guy, just tell me where this palace is and I’ll pop on over. I have a feeling these idiots are going to need me.” Gabe touched the side of the Chimera’s face and got a visual of where they were going. “Well, toodles, see you there soon.” He wiggled his brows at Sam as he disappeared.

“Was he…” Charlie frowned after the angel. “Was he flirting with you?” She turned to Sam whose face turned a deep crimson. The guide stifled a chuckle as she patted Sam’s arm and climbed on the creatures back.

In no time they were in the air and making their way to Glinda’s palace hoping to save her so she could help them get back home.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

In no time at all the Chimera landed hard on the top of the palace. Sliding off his back the two pairs made quick work of walking the perimeter trying to find a way inside. When Dean found the trap door he put a finger to his mouth to keep them quiet as they slowly made their way down the rope ladder that was hanging off the side.

When they were all down on the ledge that ran the perimeter of the upper part of the castle Sam and Dean immediately went into hunter mode. Dean slowly dialed up his hearing as they moved quietly along, both Kevin and Charlie following the hunter’s lead.

Coming to a long winding staircase they made their way slowly down and Dean was getting anxious because they hadn’t encountered any obstacles in their way. In his experience that meant bad things waiting at the end of the line. He dialed into Charlie’s heartbeat and kept his awareness on her at all times. He knew Sam could take care of himself and really he needed to learn to let his brother go. Kevin was there to help Sam if anything went sideways.

By the time they reached the bottom Dean was strung so tight Charlie could feel the tension in not only his body, but his mind and spirit as well.

“‘Bout time you chuckleheads made it.” Gabriel chose that exact moment to pop in and Dean’s control almost snapped. Charlie reached out and grabbed his hand helping to rein him back in.

“Don’t do that,” Dean growled out at the angel. “Do you know where this witch is that we’re supposed to be helping?” Dean looked around and everything was too quiet, something was not right with this whole thing. He looked over at Sam and saw he was thinking the same thing. The signs were all around, it had been staring them in the face the whole time they were in this crazy place.

“Well come on kiddos, what are you waiting for?”

“You son-of-a- bitch,” Dean narrowed his eyes at the angel as he advanced on him. “We aren’t in fucking Oz at all are we? This was all you, the Trickster, wasn’t it?” Dean kept advancing as the angel started to back up towards the wall.

Gabriel smiled as he stuck a sucker in his mouth. “Took you idiots long enough to figure it out.” The angel just stood there smirking at Dean.

“What the hell was all this for?” Dean yelled as he backed Gabriel up in a corner.

Gabriel’s face hardened as he tapped a finger on Dean’s chest. “It seems to be the only way to teach you two any type of damn lesson. You, Deano, were rejecting your Guide. The more you rejected her, the more you were making everyone around you miserable. You needed to be taught a damn lesson.” The fire in Gabriel’s eyes had Dean backing up away from the angel.

“So making me think that Charlie was whisked away to some fairyland was the way? When the hell are you angels going to stop fucking with our lives?” Dean yelled at Gabriel.

“When you two start to understand what you have in your lives. Stop feeling so damn sorry for yourself and learn to be happy. That girl is a good thing for you Dean, you’ve soul-bonded; she will be your anchor but you have to let her in and stop being a jackass.” Gabe waved a hand and the group was in the basement of the bunker with Jim and Blair standing there.

“What are you guys still doing here?” Sam looked around confused.

“You guys were only gone a few minutes.” Jim looked over at Gabriel, still not believing that he was an angel.

“Come on, I need a drink,” Sam said as he started to move off towards the kitchen.

“Sam, you know you can’t drink.” Kevin yelled after him as he scrambled to keep up.

“I really want to gank that son-of-a-bitch of an angel,” Dean grumbled under his breath, angry that he had played into one of The Tricksters elaborate pranks yet again.

“Dean.” Charlie bit her lip and furrowed her brow as she walked up close to him. “I think we need to talk.” She took his hand and held it in her own.

“Yeah, yeah we do.” He acquiesced partially because he didn’t want to go through another one of Gabe’s tricks and also because he was just tired of fighting with himself. “Come on.” He moved out of the basement and led the red-head up to his own room.

Sitting against the headboard of his bed and Charlie sitting in the middle they just stared at each other for the longest time.

“Dean, I’d really like it if you said something about now.” Charlie’s pulse was racing because she couldn’t get a feel for what her Sentinel was thinking.

He sighed as he closed his eyes then stretched out on the bed. “Come here.” He held out his arms and Charlie smiled as she crawled next to him wrapping an arm around his waist and cradling her head on his shoulder.

“Charlie, you know I love you, right?” Dean looked down at his Guide.

“Dean, I love you too. You’re my best friend, well better than my best friend. You’re my Sentinel.” She snuggled in closer as his arm came around her shoulders.

“You know what our lives are like Charlie, what Sam and I do. I don’t ever want to put you in danger like that-“

“Dean Winchester.” Charlie sat up and looked down at the man on the bed. “Really? I mean first Dick Roman, then a crazy person who tried to kill me with a fairy and now what The Trickster put us through? You think I can’t handle myself? Because if you think that, Mr. Macho Hunter dude then I am just going to have to hurt you.”

“Mr. Macho Hunter dude?” The smile was cheeky as he raised his brow at her. “That all you got sister?” His playful tone broke them both and they busted-up in a fit of laughter. Once they both calmed down Charlie snuggled back in his arms.

“Okay.” Dean took a deep breath as he closed his eyes and held his friend – his Guide – close to him.

“Okay?” Charlie had a confused look on her face.

Dean waved a hand between the two of them and said again, “Okay.” The smile on his face told her everything she needed to know. The signs were all there, and Gabe had been right, it took a hard lesson for him to learn that he needed her, he needed Charlie. She was his and Dean wasn’t letting her go and they were going to be just fine.

 

 

 

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