A/N: Today marks my "Fic-iversary", I can't believe it's been so many years since I first ventured out and posted "Graduation Day." Here we are eighty-eight stories and more than a million words later. That first post has led to so many things—but most of all it has brought me all of you, friends who are family. My family that has supported me through many dark days. You have no idea what you all mean to me. Someday I will have a party and we can all meet in the flesh. We have laughed together, cried together and, through it all, stuck together. Huge hugs to you all.

A/N II: I would like to say, I am using Kripke's mythology regarding demons and angels here, and playing with his mythology and mixing it a bit. This in no way reflects on anything but HIS portrayals.

A/N III: I know that in the past I have always kept the anniversary fic exclusively Supernatural. That was the plan, until a raven showed up. I blame him entirely and Scopulus of course, has a hand in it all. The story is complete, but could I really, on this special day, skip the cliffie?

Set Season Four

Disclaimer: I sadly do not own Kripke's world, or even an Impala. I am just stopping in to play with the boys.


Blood on the Snow

Cold seeped into Dean's clothing the snow driving the wet up against his skin, chilling him even further. The blood running over his ribs was warm against his skin but quickly cooled when the icy air blew over him. Dean sighed, watching the snow drift down from the gray sky, decorating the fir trees with a soft frosting of white.

The creature was dead, the stink of its guts filling the air around him. He'd managed to kill it, four shots between the eyes, but it had its revenge. As it had died, it attacked, its last act slicing him open from shoulder to waist, the cut deep enough to bleed heavily.

He'd escaped from hell, only to end here.

Sam wasn't there, Dean was sure his brother was looking for him, but they'd been separated, one of the creature's pack had pulled Dean away, and the last he'd seen of Sam was his tall form trying to fight his way through a mass of fur and fangs. Dean had heard Sam's shout and gunshots in the distance, so he was sure his brother had escaped, but Dean wasn't going to last, there would be no goodbye. Regret washed through him at that thought—no goodbye. For Sam or...

Dean swallowed, the pain was gone, he knew his time was fast approaching.

There was a sound from somewhere in the distance, the steady crunch of feet on the snow, overhead Dean hear the harsh croak of a raven. Ravens and wolves hunted together sometimes, a voice that sounded like Sam said in Dean's head. He laughed, had Sam told him that or had he heard it on the TV? Did it really matter here at the end?


The warm scent of coffee and herbs filled the shop as Galen Emrys straightened the shelves and put out the order he'd received earlier in the day. He could hear Rob, his younger brother, in the back, busy at something efficient like alphabetizing all the herbs or putting the candles in color-wheel order. Galen chuckled, then rolled his shoulders trying to relax muscles made tight by a growing sense of unease. He had no idea what was causing it, the feeling had started that morning, tying his neck into a knot and making a low throb in his temples. Sighing, he wandered to the counter and sat down on one of the stools, looking out the shop window at a few snowflakes drifting onto the street.

"Hey, it's snowing," Rob said, coming out from the back.

"Don't say it."

"Say what?" Rob grinned at him.

"You need coffee to deal with the snow."

"What if we got snowed in, then what would I do?"

"You could use the coffee maker upstairs."

"There's no Becci upstairs." Rob leaned against the shelf. "Maybe she could get snowed in over here." He paused. "Have you heard from Dean Winchester?"

"What? Where did that come from?"

"One of my regulars mentioned his name," Rob said, frowning. He had a large clientele that came to the Emrys Apothecary at night. Rob didn't sleep much, and shortly after he'd come home, he'd started the night time hours on the shop.


"Yeah, he said he saw something, he wasn't sure what. It was dark and there was blood, and he asked if we knew Dean and Sam."

"Funny you should ask," Galen said, rolling his shoulders again.


"I'm not sure." He paused, trying to work through the sense of unease and see where it was coming from. "I just have an odd feeling."

"That sounds like a desperate cry for coffee." Rob grinned and headed out the door before Galen could object. Rob stopped and turned his face up to the snow and Galen smiled, there was a giant kid in his brother sometimes. That Rob never lost that joy meant a lot. After a moment, Rob wandered over to Becci's stand, leaning against the counter as Becci made the coffees. She placed them in front of Rob and he picked one up, still smiling. He'd been chatting for several minutes when he pulled his phone out of his pocket. Rob frowned at the caller ID, then glanced at the shop, meeting Galen's eyes. An instant later he was running towards the shop.

"Calm down," Rob was saying as he came in. "Where are you? Okay, we'll be there as soon as we can. Wait for us!" he said sternly. "I know, I know, but wait by the car, warm up, we'll be there in less than an hour." He pushed his phone closed. "Sam. They're in trouble."

"Where are they?" Galen locked the door to the shop and stuck the "closed for an emergency sign" in the window.

"Not too far, out by the mountain."

"Dean?" Galen asked.

"Missing," Rob said, his voice tight with concern. "For a couple of days, Sam thinks."

"He thinks?" Galen followed Rob upstairs.

"They were separated. Dean was taken."

"Taken? By what?"

"A pack of something, Sam wasn't sure what it was, he said they looked like..."

"Like what, Rob?"

"Black dogs."

"They aren't usually visible."

"Yeah," Rob agreed.

"Get the thermos and go get some mocha from Becci."

"Right." Rob dashed down the hallway to his room.

"What is going on?" Dor's deep voice asked. The raven was one of the two that served the King of the Hunt. Rob was now reigning king and Galen his champion and Dor and Dera had left the between world to serve them in Tacoma. Galen suspected it was more because they wanted to explore the modern world. The ravens seemed to enjoy themselves—a little too much sometimes.

"The Winchesters, they're in trouble out by the mountain."

"What kind of car do they drive?"

"It's a big black four-door, Sam is taller than I am by about three inches."

"We will find him and keep watch and wait for you," the raven assured him, calling for Dera, then sweeping out of the apartment.

Galen ran into his room and opened the closet, grabbing his falcata and first aid bag, shoving a few extra items in it, he picked up two heavy blankets and a lightweight mountaineers survival blanket that fit in his pocket. On his way out, he stopped by the kitchen long enough to pick up some food and raced down the steps. He pulled out of the lot behind his shop without waiting for the engine to warm up. Rob was waiting at Becci's, their thermos and a thermal pot sat on the counter along with two coffees. He opened the back door of the Jeep and tossed his things in, carefully putting the carafes on the floor before getting in and dropping the coffees in the cup holder.

"They're on the Paradise side," Rob said as Galen pulled onto the freeway.

"Right, how far out?" Galen asked. Now that they were in the car it was catching up with him. Dean was missing, gods only knew what attacked him.

"We'll find them," Rob assured him.

"I know we will. I just hope they are in one piece when we find them."

Galen smiled and pulled onto Highway 7, making sure he kept close to the speed limit, the area was notorious for speed traps, but went as fast as he dared. Once they were beyond the settled area, it went back up to fifty and then sixty and the speed traps tended to disappear except right at the edge of the tiny towns along the way. They were finally getting near the mountain, Galen stopped at an intersection, wondering which way to go, when a raven swept down in front of them.

"This way!" Dor cried, leading them onto the left hand road.

The snow was starting to fall in heavy flakes by the time Rob pointed out the large black car parked on the shoulder. Dera was perched on top the car and as they approached Sam opened the door and got out.

"He doesn't look good," Rob said. "And that's without the Sight."

Galen pulled up behind the car. Dor landed next to Dera and they both regarded Sam with interest. He stared back at them. "Are they with you?" Sam asked as Rob walked up to him and pulled him into a rough hug.

"They are," Galen answered, stepping up to hug the young hunter. He had already braced himself for the onslaught of emotion—but he caught something else there for a moment before it slithered away. He stepped back and looked at Sam. There was something different in him, something that resonated with the dark pulse in Galen's scar. We will deal with that later. It was a promise to himself and the Winchesters, because whatever it was, it was bad and needed to be removed.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know what else to do," Sam said, sounding unsure.

"You did the right thing, shit, Sam, you should have called the instant you were separated," Rob chided him gently.

"Yeah." Sam hung his head, but Galen caught the wave of emotion. Whatever was causing that dark mark on Sam's soul had convinced him he could handle it alone.

"It doesn't matter now, we're here, and ready." Galen looked into the dark trees, all traces of civilization disappearing a few feet from the road.

"And we brought coffee," Rob said, retrieving the thermos from the car.

"Oh god, thank you," Sam said, taking a cup with a smile. "I've been freezing."

"Humans, they just have no sense," Dera said with a flip of his wings. Galen looked at Sam, the hunter hadn't heard the raven—not that he really expected him to, but there was that wash of darkness—something beyond human—that made him wonder for a moment.

"And they are really with you?" Sam sipped the coffee and gestured at the ravens. "They both landed on the hood, peered in the windshield and one of them took off again."

"Ealdor and Federa, this is Sam Winchester," Galen said, pointing to the ravens.

"It's…uh… nice to meet you."

"Of course it is," Dera said with a glint in his eye.

"They can help us search." Rob smiled. "Let's get kitted out, and then find Dean."

"He might be…" Sam swallowed.

"We are not accepting that as an option, Sam. He's tough, he's out there and alive. We'll find him."

Rob handed Sam a heavy coat and gloves. "We thought you might need these." He pulled out two backpacks and stepped back to let Galen grab his bag and swords as well. "I'll go east with Sam and Dor, you and Dera head west."

Galen nodded, aware of the rising panic in his chest again. Dera landed on his shoulder and gentle butted his head against his cheek. He slipped on his backpack and medical bag and smiled at his brother and Sam. "We stay in touch—call every half hour."

Rob checked his phone. "Yeah, you too."

"I thought you didn't need to do that," Sam said, as they walked away.

"Long story," Rob laughed. "It began with a Fae named Stephen and a few horses…" his voice got fainter as they slipped into the forest.

Galen waited for a long moment, centering himself, before he set out. Whatever was buried in Sam was affecting him deeply. As soon as they found Dean, they could deal, they had to, or the younger Winchester would burn himself out.

It was quiet in the forest, the soft hiss of falling snow surrounding him as he walked on. A huge maple rose out of a ring of ferns. He stopped long enough to lay his hand on the ancient tree, drawing strength from its foundation in the earth, its gentle strength. After a moment, he walked on, Dera above him, sweeping out and back with careful precision.

He hadn't even realized the passing of time when his phone rang. Rob reported that they had found a dead creature, a bullet wound in its stomach. Rob's best guess was the creature had been dead for at least twelve hours and according to Dor it hadn't been killed there, it had walked there from someplace to die there. Galen had nothing to report, they promised to call in half an hour and broken the connection.

"Galen!" Dera's deep voice broke his concentration. "Over here!"

Galen ran to the raven, there was a boot, torn and bloody. He knew without a closer examination that it was Dean's. He recognized the scuffed heel, Dean tended to wear his heels out faster on the outside of his shoe, rather than by the arch. It had been there long enough for almost all trace of the owner to be gone. There was a tiny hint, but not much. "Which way?" Galen asked the raven excitedly.

Dera hopped around the boot, his feet not breaking the top later of the snow. He looked at it, stuck his nose in it—sneezed—then fluffed himself out to look a full size larger than he actually was. "Black creatures took this, dark things."

"Like the ones from over the Veil?"

"No, it has the stink of the things that humans call demons," Dera said with disgust.

The creatures of the Between World regarded "demons" as less than… alive—but that wasn't quite the right word. Dera had tried to explain it to Galen, and he understood, although in his own terms. When his father and uncle had been training him, they had explained the concept of demons. As far as Galen could tell, they were lesser creatures with self-esteem issues and actually thought they held sway in the world. Of course, as hard as his training had been on demons—Galen laughed.

"You're laughing?"

"I was just remembering when my father told me about demons—and angels."

"Angels." Dera flipped his wings. "Bah. They think—do you know I met one of those things and it thought itself superior to me? Me! One of the King's Ravens."

Galen couldn't help himself, he laughed. "Did you explain the error of its ways?"

"I certainly did. It fancied itself as having real wings. Bah." Dera took off. "I hunt again."

"Thank you, I'll call Rob, it's been about half an hour." He pulled out his phone and hit speed dial. "We found one of Dean's boots, but it was dragged here, it has teeth marks on it."

"What dragged it there?"

"Dera told me the same thing I bet Dor told you."

Rob chuckled. "Oh gods, did you get the angels and demons and why they suck lecture too?"

"Not quite, Brat, but close. Talk to you in thirty."

"Right. No, you see Sam…" Rob broke the connection.

Feeling better than he had since he set out, Galen glanced up, then closed his eyes, relaxing and letting his Gift flow, he could sense the footsteps of the creatures, there were still some out here, among the trees. They didn't matter now, what mattered was that tiny line that was beginning to form in his mind, the direction the boot had come from, after a moment more he opened his eyes and turned a little south and started walking again.

There was something tracking him, he could sense its eyes on his back as he walked through the forest. He could also tell it thought it was getting away with it, there was a certain smugness on the air, and it had to be coming from the thing behind him. It didn't matter, none of it mattered, he could sense Dean now. The hunter was injured, his life's blood nearly gone, but Galen was getting close. The tug was getting stronger.

"Can you tell Dor where we are? I don't want that thing behind us knowing what's going on," he said silently to Dera.

"I already have, they are coming up a little to the northeast, but they will break in just behind you. Imagine that filthy thing thinking it can get away with that!" All of a sudden Dera let out a deep, harsh call. "I see him!"

With Dera flying in front of him, Galen sped up. Not daring to run in the snow, he nonetheless was moving as quickly as he could. As he came out from behind a small stand of trees, he saw Dean, sprawled out, the snow around him a dark red.