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the island of conclusions

Two Boys From Kansas....5/7 (SPN/ Merlin Crossover Fic)

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Two Boys From Kansas....5/7 (SPN/ Merlin Crossover Fic)

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Title: Two Boys From Kansas in King Uther's Court 5/7
Rating: gen, PG-13
Characters: Sam, Dean, Merlin, Arthur, assorted BBC Merlin canon characters.
Word Count:~4.4K, this part
Warnings/Spoilers: here with part 1. Reminder: This takes place mid-S1 for Merlin. All that stuff going in S2...hasn't happened yet. Ditto for SPN: mid-S1 boys. They don't know from angels, or from powers.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit.

a/n: beta from the extraordinary [personal profile] calamitycrow, who has done more this month already than three regular people put together--and still found time to deal with this. All remaining failures of imagination and elegance mine, of course.
a/n: more notes here
a/n: apologies again for the slow pace in getting this out! Thanks for your patience.
ETA: beautiful banner by ala_tariel

Picture Credit by: ala_tariel

part one * part two * part three * part four *

from Part Four
“But how did you know—how did you know we were the ones the spell had brought?” Sam asked.

“She told me,” Ruby replied, with a crude giggle of delight, “she said she could smell you a mile off.”

His skin crawling with disgust, Dean plucked at Sam’s sleeve, drew him a bit away.

“Okay—way to freak me the fuck out. What’s our next move here?”

“Beats me,” Sam replied. But before they could decide what to do next, they heard Ruby chanting a rapid-fire string of somewhat garbled Latin words. The sequence tugged at his memory, but Dean couldn’t quite place it--

“Dean,” Sam said, grabbing his wrist hard, “that’s a summoning spell!”

Part Five

As soon as the words had left Sam’s mouth, the air around them crackled with electricity and the sour scent of sulfur stung Dean’s nose.

From one moment to the next, a woman stood in front of them who hadn’t been there before.

Her beauty probably cost them a few vital seconds. She was taller than any woman they had yet seen in Camelot—long-waisted and willowy, clearly as strong as she was graceful. In her mid-thirties, maybe, but age had only strengthened the clean lines of her face. A thick curtain of ash-blond hair fell gleaming past her shoulders, and her wide mouth twisted with delight under an arched, Roman nose. She was wearing a purple dress, made of some thin, silky material that clung to her high, round breasts and slim hips. Dean could see why Ruby had forsaken her home and family to follow a demon dressed in this body.

They all hung fire for a moment, then the woman blinked once, and opened eyes that were perfectly, totally black. Flames leaped in the hitherto unlit hearth, and the torches they had been using for light blew out.

Sam spat out the first few syllables of the exorcism ritual, but before he could get any momentum going, the woman raised her hand, and first Sam, then Dean, went slamming into the wall behind them.

The force pinned Dean a couple of inches above the floor, toes dangling, skull grinding against the stone. He struggled, but it was like being encased in an iron blanket, every limb immobilized.

“Mistress,” Ruby exclaimed, “I knew you’d come.”

A flick of the hand, and the chains binding Ruby clattered to the floor. The girl wasted no time in prostrating herself in front of the demon, babbling praise and thanks.

“My child,” the woman said gently, raising Ruby up. Her voice was as lithe and beguiling as her body. Ruby looked at her worshipfully. Then the woman’s hand cracked hard against the side of the girl’s face and sent her back to her knees.

“You half-wit wench,” she hissed, “look at the mess you’ve made of things.” She kicked Ruby in the side with efficient brutality, leaving her sprawled full-length on the floor. The girl whimpered, and her demon mistress made an exasperated noise. “Country girls,” she said, “hardly worth the goat’s milk you were raised on. I’ll be doing this myself, I see.”

The woman raised her hands, letting the purple sleeves of her gown slide down around delicate wrists; suddenly, she held a gleaming knife and a cup of beaten brass.

She started towards Sam.

Dean struggled futilely against the force holding him, a sea of insults boiling inside him.

Then, unexpectedly, another woman came into his field of vision, trailing Merlin in her wake. She wasn’t a demon, Dean was pretty sure; he couldn’t feel the sour, sulfuric charge that emanated from Ruby’s mistress, yet the woman burned with something almost wilder, a tightly reigned chaos like the centrifugal force of a tornado.

She was smaller than the demon’s vessel, more compactly and voluptuously built, with dark, luxurious hair pulled back from her face to tumble over pale shoulders. She was wearing a red dress that bared her chest and arms and then split artfully around her legs.

Interposing herself between Sam and the demon’s knife, the dark-haired woman raised her arm, and kindled, out of nowhere, a small ball of fire in her palm. She sent it hurtling towards the demon, but the blond woman raised her hand in turn and snuffed out the fireball as easily as blowing out a match.

It was official: Dean had no fucking idea what was going on.

The two women focused on each other, caught in some kind of magical stalemate. Battle had clearly been joined, although no more fireballs went back and forth. Nevertheless, Dean could feel the waves of pure power pushing up against each other, sucking the air out of the room.

Somehow or other, he and Sam seemed to have gotten themselves in the middle of a super-powered girl-fight, adversaries unknown. Under normal circumstances, he would have found a smackdown between two hot chicks in tight dresses totally entertaining. But being pinned to the wall knowing that dead Winchesters were the door prize was putting a serious damper on his enjoyment.

“Merlin, you useless lout” the dark-haired woman gritted out between clenched teeth, “join your magic with mine to defeat her.”

“Why should I help you?” the boy shot back from the corner of the room. He clearly knew the woman, and was regarding her with suspicious loathing.

“Because we are the same, you and I, and this creature is a perversion of power who feeds on death and shame,” the woman in red told Merlin, “She is our enemy as much as she is theirs. And if you do not help me, she will drain the blood from your friends and leave them to die.”

“Cave-dwelling bitch,” said the blond demon, “your kind is nothing but a remnant now, bog-witches and weather charmers. Soon, we will put you all back into the holes you crawled out of”

Merlin looked back and forth between the battling women, perhaps, like Dean, remembering the dragon’s words. He gave the woman in the red dress a look that could have cut glass. Then he turned to the blond demon and raised his voice in that strange language that seemed to free his magic.

Although there was no visible sign of Merlin’s intervention, Dean could feel the balance of power in the room shift as a new lode of magic opened up. The blond demon’s face contorted under the onslaught. She flung her arms up defensively. A fireball flew towards her from the dark-haired woman’s palm. It hovered inches from the demon’s face as she exerted all her strength to keep it back.

Like someone whisking a cloth off a table, the force pinning Dean to the wall disappeared, and he unceremoniously stumbled onto his feet again. Sam landed with a thud beside him.

“Your ritual,” the woman in the red dress exhorted them breathlessly, “use it now.”

They didn’t need to be told twice. In concert, Dean and Sam launched into the Latin words of the exorcism, while Merlin and the other woman held the demon still with invisible bonds.

When they neared the end, Ruby’s mistress threw back her head and let loose an ugly, guttural howl. A column of black smoke poured out of her open mouth, snaking out of the room through some crevice in the stone walls. The beautiful, blond body she had been inhabiting crumpled to the floor in an ungainly heap.


Gwen burst into the room and took in the scene with a horrified stare. Then she knelt beside the body of the demon’s vessel.

“Dead,” she announced in a subdued voice. She looked from Merlin to Sam to Dean and then to dark-haired woman who had mysteriously appeared to save them. Ruby still lay face down on the floor, shoulders shaking in little whimpering sobs.

“Who—what—was she?” Gwen asked.

“A demon.” Sam said, “pretty powerful one, too.”

“But there’s no such thing as demons,” Merlin protested, looking slightly winded from the fight. “They’re just a boogey man those Christian priests use to scare children.”

“Kid,” Dean told him, “I think you’ve just seen the degree to which that’s not true. What I want to know is—who is she?” He jerked a thumb at the woman in red, “And why is she on our side? If she is on our side, that is,” he amended.

The dark-haired woman just crossed her arms and smirked, letting Merlin field the question.

“This,” Merlin said flatly, voice tinged with distaste and maybe fear, “is Nimueh. She is a powerful sorceress, and sworn enemy to the Pendragons and to Camelot. The last time I saw her she was trying very hard to kill Arthur—and ended up almost killing me. I have no idea why she showed up to protect you two.” He sounded like Nimueh’s concern for Dean and Sam had put them under a cloud of deep suspicion.

Dean shook his head and shrugged, seeing Sam make the same gestures out of the corner of his eye.

“Priorities, Merlin,” Nimueh said, her voice light and mocking. “I thought the Great Dragon explained that to you. The struggle between our kind and hers is a greater problem than any human dynasty.” She was deadly serious now. “This hell-spawn has seriously upset the balance of things by bringing these two back in time for her own ends. That balance must be righted. When that is done, I will turn my attention back to other concerns.” She made no effort to conceal the threat in her voice.

“Are you saying—?” Sam said, clearly trying to process the different forces at play in this scenario, “Can you--?”

“Yes,” Nimueh returned, “in this case, the enemy of my enemy is my friend—at least temporarily,” she shot a look toward Merlin, and then returned her gaze to Sam and Dean. “I will tell you the location of the place—the gateway—you seek. It is a three-day journey, beyond the Northern Fells—I will give you more precise location when we are someplace more secure,” she glanced at Ruby. “Come,” the sorceress gestured, “leave the girl to clean up the mess she’s made.”

With that, Nimueh stalked gracefully out of the bedroom, Merlin and Gwen, then Sam and Dean, following her.

Behind them, Ruby lifted her head off the floor and said plaintively, “but what am I supposed to do with her—with it?”

Dean turned back, “I’m sure you’ll figure something out,” he said.

“At least she’s gone,” said Ruby, sniffing, “I’m safe now, right?”

“Oh sweetheart,” Dean answered, torn between pity and disgust, “She’ll be back for you. Ten years, remember? You made a deal.”


Outside the door of Gwen’s chambers, Nimueh paused again and looked at them.

“Ready yourselves,” she said, “You have banished the demon from that body, but you know she—it—will find another. I will give you what help I can, but you would do well to arm yourselves with whatever weapons may work against such a being. You know what to do?” Dean and Sam nodded. “Good. I can stay no longer, but I will meet you in the hour before dawn at the split oak west of the castle. I will tell you then how to find the portal.”

And with a casual gesture, she was gone.

The four of them stared at each other until Dean broke the silence.

“Anybody wanna tell me what the hell just happened here? ‘Cause somebody forgot to hand out the scorecards for that little celebrity grudge match.”

“I think the two of you have something to explain to us,” Merlin returned, a little belligerently--spooked, maybe, and who could blame him?

“Okay, okay,” Sam said, making peace, “Here’s what we know: Ruby made a deal with the demon she called her mistress—we don’t know her true name—and the demon got her involved in a scheme to bring us here—she needed something from us to increase her power.” Sam was skimping on the details. Dean approved.

“Ruby managed to summon her mistress while we were, uh, questioning her,” Dean took up the narrative, “and the demon was about to just take what she was after from me and Sam—probably killing us into the bargain--when your girl shows up to save the day—with your help, of course,” he amended, nodding at Merlin. Gwen looked at the dark-haired boy quizzically.

“She’s not my ‘girl’” Merlin protested, “and I wouldn’t let Nimueh catch you calling her anybody’s girl, if I were you—anyway, last I checked, she and I hated each other.”

“Yeah, about that,” Dean cut in, “This Nimuwhatsit, can we trust her? Can she really help us find the portal home?”

“Yes to the second: if it’s a magical place, she’ll know where it is. No, I don’t think so to the first. She seems to hate these demons—who really aren’t supposed to exist, by the way—as much as you do, so I expect she will help you, if only to hurt them—but no, I wouldn’t trust her.”

“Good to know.” Dean took it in. “But she’s the best—the only—lead we’ve got for finding the way out of here. So, trustworthy or not, we’re going to have to check out what she has to offer.” He locked eyes with Sam, and his brother nodded without hesitation.

“So,” Dean went on, “if we’re going to make this trip, with at least one demon on our tail, we’re going to need some supplies. Is there a Christian chapel in the castle, one with a font or something?”

“Yes,” said Gwen, “there’s a small one in the east wing—my aunt goes sometimes. I can take you there, if there’s something there that’ll help you reach this—this—portal. Though I’m not sure why you can’t just make your way back to Impala the way you came,” she added.

“Thanks,” Sam answered, “I’ll go with you. We’ll fill some flasks with holy water. Demons hate holy water,” he said to Gwen, “and I’ll explain why we need this portal as we go.”

Dean nodded, then said, “Merlin, let’s you and me hit the kitchen and liberate some salt.”

Merlin and Gwen stared at him, as if he’d just suggested they look for motor oil in the frozen foods aisle.

“What?” Dean asked, bemused.

“The salt isn’t in the kitchen,” Gwen said, still looking at him like he was an idiot.

“It’s in the tower.” Merlin added.

“Huh?” It was Dean’s turn to stare. Sam gave one of his uber-geek noises of recognition. Dean raised his eyebrows at his brother.

“Dean,” Sam said, clearly having a geekgasm, “in this, uh, place, salt is very rare and very precious—it’s used as a form of payment, even—so of course it’s going to be under lock and key somewhere. In fact, the Tower of London was called the Salt Tower for a long time because….”

“How do you even know this shit?” Dean cut him off.

“World History, sophomore year,” Sam said smugly.

“Okay, whatever, Professor Peabody. I don’t care if it’s in Fort Knox. We can’t do this without salt—not if we’re going to sleep at night. Demons can’t cross salt lines,” he added for Gwen and Merlin’s benefit. “But, luckily for us, a locked cabinet shouldn’t be too much of an obstacle.” He gleefully waggled his favorite lock pick at them, thankful it had survived the time jump. “Come on, kid,” he said to Merlin, and then to Gwen and Sam, “We’ll meet you back at the armory in an hour,”


As they carefully threaded their way through the shadows between Gwen’s chambers and the tower, Dean began to feel a little remorseful about dragging Merlin into a criminal venture. A wave of adrenaline from the demon-sorceress battle was buoying him now, banishing the evening’s weariness, but the boy looked a little worse for wear.

“Look, kid, you don’t have to get involved in this—any more involved, I mean,” he said, “I don’t want you to be stealing from your employer on top of everything else. Why don’t you just go home and get some sleep, huh?”

Merlin looked at him seriously and shook his head.

“No, no—I’m coming with you—you’ll need some help finding the right room. And—“ he paused, something clearly on his mind.


“Nimueh said you have to go past the Northern Fells to get to this portal. And the Fells... Well, they’re not exactly what you’d call a friendly part of the kingdom. Robbers, bandits, you know. Lots of places for highwaymen to hole up in that terrain. So—“ he paused again.

“Merlin, just spit it out, okay? I’m not going to bite.”

“I think I should come with you,” Merlin said, words tumbling out, “I mean, you and Sam don’t have a clue about how things work here, and I wouldn’t trust Nimueh, not in a pinch, and I could help, not just with magic—“ He ran out of steam.

Dean sighed, and ran a hand over his face.

“Look, Merlin, Sam and I are pretty used to dealing with things on our own—we’ve handled a lot of stuff you probably couldn’t even imagine. I think we can handle a few bandits just fine by ourselves.’

“I should come.” Merlin insisted. “I know you haven’t been here long, but I—I would hate to see you come to harm--.”

Dean rubbed the back of his neck. He had to admit he’d developed a soft spot for the boy, too, whose bumbling earnestness barely concealed the conviction and power underneath. Still, he hated to get anyone come to grief over Winchester business. “Alright,” he stalled, “let’s just get the salt first. We’ll think about this later.”


The Great Salt Robbery of 528 didn’t turn out to be as difficult as Dean had anticipated.

He was able to get the drop on one of the guards patrolling the tower, knocking the guy’s legs out from under him with a well-placed kick. The man-at-arms was wearing a mail shirt and hood, but the extra weight only made it that much more difficult for him to struggle back up, and before he could do so, Dean laid him out with a blow to the exposed part of his face.

His friend must have heard the commotion, because he came galumphing back around the corner of the building. But he too was slowed down by the protective gear, and now that Dean had the first guard’s pike, it was a simple matter to stop him in his tracks.

Dean grinned at Merlin over the two unconscious bodies, pleased that he’d been able to use his fists at least once during this overly magical night.

Of course, it turned out the tower was so lightly patrolled because of the huge lock on a thick chain fastening the iron grate over the door.

But even that, though it looked pretty damn intimidating, quickly yielded to twenty-first-century stainless steel. Dean couldn’t help but find that kinda satisfying. Sometimes a little hard-earned know-how was better than any hocus-pocus.

Each floor of the small, square tower was one big room, with a narrow staircase built right along the wall leading from one up to the next. Each floor-room held various chests, cabinets, and sometimes just piles of burlap bags. The whole place was obviously an enormous storeroom of important junk, with no labeling system to tell you what was what. Merlin had been right: Dean would have had no idea which one was the salt vault without his guidance.

They found it on the third floor: a glossy, walnut chest with, yes, several lengths of chained wrapped around it, anchored by a grim little black nugget of a lock.

“Keep an eye out,” Dean hissed at Merlin, and set to work.

This one did take some fancy fiddling, and Dean cursed himself a few times, imagining what his Dad would have to say about the length of time it was taking him to winkle a medieval lock. But he eventually elicited a satisfying click from the thing, and was able to peel the chains away and open the chest.

The salt inside was bundled into a neat series of muslin bags, maybe twelve in all, each about half a pound. Dean was perfectly prepared to take the bunch, but he relented when Merlin objected. No need to rob the Pendragons blind. He took half.


Gwen and Sam were already waiting for them when they arrived back at the armory.

Sam cheerfully waved four flasks at him, signaling success. “Good old-fashioned holy water,” he said.

Dean grinned in reply, hefting up the bag of salt so Sam could see it. “And here’s some of that medieval white gold. If we don’t use it all on demons, I guess we can always use it to buy lunch.”

Then they all lapsed in an awkward silence, knowing departures were imminent.

“Um,” Sam said to Gwen, “thank you—for helping us, I mean. And—I—we’re sorry about what happened in your rooms, earlier—and—the—uh—mess—and about your cousin, and everything…”

Gwen stared at the floor and shook her head. “She was always trouble, that one” she said, ‘I thought that was probably why they sent her here in the first place. She made her bed…”

“Will you turn her over to Uther?” Merlin asked, with an undercurrent of anxiety. “She was practicing magic, after all.”

“I don’t think so,” Gwen replied, though she didn’t seem certain. “Besides, knowing her, she’s probably run off already.” She paused, shrugged. “In any case, I’d better get back.” She looked at the three men. Then, she grabbed Sam’s hand and squeezed it, and went up on tip-toes to press a brief kiss on Dean’s cheek. “Good luck getting back to your own time,” she said—Sam must have decided to fill her in, “travel safely.”

And then she was gone.

“Right,” said Merlin, watching her go, “we’ve got what we need now, haven’t we? Best be off, eh?” He looked antsy, eager to be away.

“We?” said Sam.

“Kid wants to come with us,” Dean said. Sam raised his eyebrows. “Might not be such a bad idea,” Dean went on, not sure when he’d come to that conclusion. “He knows the territory, which he says is pretty nasty, by the way. And after a couple a days here, I gotta say that having some magic on our side might not be a bad idea.

Sam grimaced, but said, “I guess. If you’re sure,” he looked at Merlin, who nodded resolutely. “And you’re sure they won’t send a search party after you?”

“I’ll leave a note for Gaius,” he said, with a cheerful eagerness Dean found kind of touching, even if it was foolhardy, “he’ll understand. And he’ll make up a story for Arthur and everyone.” He looked at Sam and Dean again. “So, if we’ve got all the weapons and stuff, shouldn’t we be going?”

Dean shook his head, “Uh-uh,” he said, “we’ve got to take one more thing first.’

“What’s that?”

“Food. I wanna fuel up before we set off on this cockamamie venture.”

“Really?” Merlin protested, “can’t we just get something later? We need to meet Nimueh soon.”

“No. We need to eat. You especially,” he jabbed a finger at Merlin. “You look like the next stiff breeze is gonna carry you away. I’m not going anywhere with you till you take on some ballast.”

Merlin ducked his head mulishly. Sam snorted, and shot Dean a look that clearly said, really? One little brother isn’t enough for you?

Dean scrunched up his face in annoyance. It wasn’t that—it was just that someone had to be practical here. “Seriously, kid,” he said to Merlin, “go leave your note for Gaius, and scrounge us up some cheeseburgers or something.”

“Some what?”

“I dunno—just find us some meat, some cheese and some bread—we’ll improvise. Go on—“ he pushed a hand, not ungently, against the side of Merlin’s face, “get.”

Merlin trotted off, giving them a bemused look over his shoulder.

Sam still looked amused, but Dean shrugged it off.

“Wonder if there’s some way we can get the salt to stick to the arrows? Come in handy if we run into demons again,” he said, prowling around the armory looking for something adhesive. He found a pot of a sticky substance that smelled like it came from an old-time glue factory—the kind they used to threaten old horses with—and tried to figure out a way to coat the arrow head without making too much of a mess.

The project was absorbing, and he jumped a bit when Sam tentatively said, “Dean?”

Dean knew just from the way that Sam said his name that this was a conversation he didn’t want to have. Sure enough, Sam continued, “Why do you think she wanted my blood?”

“The fuck do I know, Sammy?” Dean said, ‘cause he really didn’t, and what’s more, he really didn’t want to think about it. “You know demons—liars and schemers, all of them.”

“Yeah, I know,” Sam mused, “but this one definitely had a plan. What would make my blood so special to her? What would make it different than yours? Do you think it has to do with my dreams? Visions,” he amended.

“Stop thinking about it already, okay? We see her again, we’ll ask her. Or, better yet, we won’t. Doesn’t matter why she wants it. Matters she doesn’t get it. So let’s just focus our energy on that.”

“Yeah,” Sam agreed, subdued. He didn’t seem at all convinced by Dean’s bluster. “okay.”

Luckily, Merlin chose that moment to barge back into the armory, carrying not only a basket of food, but also two saddle bags crammed with stuff. He looked pleased with himself.

“Here,” he announced, dropping his loot, “food,” he looked pointedly at Dean, who grinned, “and,” he continued “I thought since I was at it, I’d get some extra clothes, and, things we might need in an emergency, bandages and stuff.”

“Nice work,” Dean said, thumping him on the shoulder, “now you’re thinking straight.” He crouched down by the food basket, and was getting ready to share out a meal, when he heard the unmistakable clanking of mail in the passageway outside.

Suddenly alert, he straightened, and saw that Sam and Merlin had heard it too. He gestured for them to hide, grabbed he first weapon he saw—a wooden practice sword—and stood next to the door frame, where the door would hide him when it opened.

Seconds later, Arthur Pendragon eased himself, cat-like, into the room, sword at the ready.


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