What I Have To Do
What Makes a Family
Ch. 2 – What I Have To Do
Summary: It’s all about family – the family we’re born with and the family we create along the way.
Note: ******* denotes flashback
Disclaimer: I definitely don’t own any of these characters.
Note: Post S7 BTVS, S5 ATS & pre-S1 SPN
John had been hunting a Lady in White in small town called Jericho when he knew it was the right time. He had sent the Dean and Dana to deal with something in New Orleans and this was the chance he had been waiting for. He stopped for a moment to consider what he was about to get them all into. He had a lead on that demon and he could practically taste its death, but in order to follow it, he needed to be able to take risks he couldn’t take with the kids around. Kids – after Sam left, he didn’t think he would be able to use that expression again, but with the addition of Dana to their little family, some wrong was righted for all of them. Technically, neither one of them was a child, but they would always be kids to him – his kids. Dean was proving more and more capable every day and, though it had taken months, Dana was making great strides toward not being a danger to the public at large. He was certain that she was well enough for Dean to be able to take care of her and that was what he needed.
He remembered back to when they first encountered her and how he knew the moment he saw his son’s determined face that his family was about to expand by one member.
*******Fourteen months prior
As he left the hospital through the service entrance he had managed to sneak into, John reflected on the events of the evening and where their lives were about to take them. If there was one thing John knew, it was his son. Dean had probably already offered the girl a place in their family, his sense of honor and duty over-riding a blessing from his father. John still reserved judgment, though, until he had her stolen file from the hospital in his hand and read through what they had put this poor girl through. One piece of information caught his attention – prior to a few months from her escape, her nightmares always centered around her abduction and her family’s murder, but then one day, they changed. She started drawing other types of monsters in her therapy sessions and said they came from her dreams. And, she developed a sudden strength that the doctors were unable to contain without the use of extremely powerful drugs that would have kept her in a weakened and confused state. He had heard about the awakening of the Potentials into full Slayers, and had even met one of the newly awakened previously so he knew enough to recognize the signs. He was about to contact the new Watcher’s Council when he saw two men go past. They were discussing the very same thing. He stayed downwind of them, and managed to follow them for a distance – long enough to know that he wasn’t about to deliver this broken girl into their waiting arms. One of them was clearly a vampire and the other did not exactly inspire him with his ability to care for the girl. If she’s a Slayer,
he thought, she will give Dean focus to get the job done and will still be able to hold her own out there.
John just hoped that she wasn’t too broken to be fixed.
Armed with his batch of information, he picked up the food he had promised and brought it back to the motel. He found Dana had abandoned the chair for the floor in front of the television and was enraptured by some children’s program. Dean was sitting on the foot of one of the beds, sorting through the remainder of their ammunition, which by the looks of it, was running low. As per usual, Dean immediately stopped whatever he was doing when food entered the room. Dana glanced up at him, but almost immediately dismissed him as a threat and returned to watching a small blue dog hop across the television screen followed by a man in a green striped shirt. Something monumental must have happened because Dana pointed at the screen and clapped, looking to Dean to see his reaction.
“Yes, Dana, you were right,” his son said with a smile on his face, “Blue wants to make cookies. Now, turn off the television and come eat your dinner.”
John was surprised when Dana immediately complied with Dean’s instructions. When she stood up, he noted that she had changed her clothes and cleaned some of the grime off of herself. It looked like she had even combed her hair. No sooner had he placed her food in front of her, she opened the carton and began devouring the cheeseburger and fries. He was glad he went with his initial instinct and ordered something that didn’t require utensils. He just didn’t want to know yet if they were going to have to start with something that basic or if she would have any rudimentary living skills.
Dean must have seen him watching the girl because as he began eating, he asked Dana a question, “Dana, do you remember the rules we talked about?”
Dana nodded. She was already halfway done with her cheeseburger and it looked like Dean was trying to slow her eating down before she choked.
“Finish chewing that bite, Dana. Then, tell me the rules we’ve talked about so far,” Dean instructed.
Dana began reciting the rules as she remembered them, “1 – Don’t take candy from strangers, 2 – Always follow orders, 3 – Never open the door for anyone other than Dean or John, 4 – If anyone asks, we are on a family trip to see the country.”
Dean smiled at her in approval and told her to finish eating. Then, he turned to John and said, “That’s as far as we’ve gotten. I didn’t want to overload her with too many rules at a time.”
John shot him a look, one eyebrow raised, “I don’t remember us having the conversation where I told you that she was staying, Dean.”
His eldest son rolled his eyes and glanced at the stolen medical file sitting on the dresser. With half a french fry hanging out of his mouth, he remarked, “If that file says what I think it says, and I’m pretty sure it does, there’s no other real choice.”
Without skipping a beat, Dana turned back to Dean and admonished him with a stern look on her face, “Dean say finish chewing before talking.”
John had to swallow his smile as Dean sheepishly finished chewing and swallowed before continuing, “If she doesn’t come with us, she’s either going to be strapped down in a hospital somewhere for the rest of her life or, most likely, shot dead on sight by people who are supposed to be her allies. I remembered seeing news coverage on her liberation from the hospital and they described her as highly dangerous. You know how local law enforcement will treat her.”
“And, what I have to tell you is going to make it even worse,” John added. “Dean, she’s a Slayer.”
John watched as Dean’s face darkened and knew he had made the right decision in taking the girl in.
“And, she’s been locked up without the grand
Watcher’s Council coming to get her for how long? They have resources we can’t even dream of and one of their own who is obviously in need of their help slips through the cracks? Well, they are not getting another chance to screw her up even more inside,” Dean ranted, looking like he wanted to do serious harm to someone, but without an actual enemy to face, he settled for bouncing his leg against the table with his newfound nervous energy.
John managed to catch Dean’s eye and, once Dean could see every emotion he felt reflected there, he calmed considerably. John looked over at Dana, who was watching Dean just like Sammy used to watch him when they were children. He didn’t know how his son had earned her trust, but he had and John had a feeling that if he did anything to separate them now, he would be effectively stamping out what little hold on this reality the girl seemed to have. When Dean calmed down, Dana did as well, and he was thankful for that small miracle.
“I agree,” John told him seriously, “If she wants to come with us, she can…”
Before he could continue his sentence, showing that she was following along with at least parts of the conversation and giving him hope that there was a salvageable girl under all of the damage, Dana interjected, “She come with you.”
John gave her his attention, “That’s right, it’s your decision. We can’t make it for you, Dana. If you agree, there will be some decisions that we do make for you, at least at first, but this can’t be one of them.”
He waited for her to speak and she nodded, “Dana know. Dean tell Dana that, too. Dana come with you and Dana follow rules and Dana kill monsters.”
“Good enough,” John affirmed, but glared at Dean at the last part.
His son only shrugged and popped another french fry into his mouth.
“Okay, forget the cot. We’ll need to leave right after dinner, then. We’ll drive as far as we can tonight and get another motel room. I don’t want to be anywhere in the search radius until we can get paperwork that says she’s a Winchester. I’ve already called Caleb and he’s expecting us tomorrow night. He’ll have everything we need waiting for us,” John laid out the plan and, again, stifled a smile as he watched Dana mimic Dean’s actions as the young man instantly gave his father his undivided attention for orders being issued.
John ran a weary hand over his face and thought about how quickly Dana had become a part of their family. The first order of business was to confirm with his son that if she was going to be a part of their family, she was going to be his sister and would be treated accordingly. John had been referring to making sure his son’s intentions were strictly familial, but he was pleased to realize that Dean’s only thought at his statement was that she needed to begin training if she was going to hunt with them. Somewhere in all this craziness, I managed to raise a good man,
John smiled, before turning his thoughts back to his daughter’s integration into the family. Of course, being a Slayer, she had taken to sparring and their fitness routine rather quickly. In fact, she was usually the one that managed to get Dean out of bed before dawn on the days they were going to run. This was no easy feat on the mornings after a long hunt, but Dana was persistent and didn’t always remember her own strength. The first time Dean was tugged up right out of bed and flew out of Dana’s grasp and into the wall had taught him to get out of bed on his own when she woke him up. They had also begun teaching her about the world and things that she would need to know in order to survive if they were hurt or killed. There was a contingency plan in place for that, and another moment’s thought took John back to the day they realized they needed one.
*******Eight Months Prior
It was a cold January day when Dana snuck over to John’s bed in their latest motel room. She hadn’t been with them very long, but they had given her a small birthday celebration when she turned nineteen, complete with a cake supplied by Dean from the local bakery. She enjoyed the whip cream icing very much and usually pestered Dean into letting her get something sugary every chance she got. At the time, he hadn’t realized that she managed to connect the cake with her birthday since she didn’t seem to understand most of society’s traditions, but the insistent shaking of his foot told him that he was not going to be sleeping anymore that morning. As soon as she saw him move, she carefully reached out to pull him up from the bed, thankfully not using her full strength. She never did quite get the art of whispering, he realized as she cupped her hand and spoke into his ear, “We go get Dean a cake today. It’s his cake day.”
She was right; it was Dean’s birthday. He hadn’t forgotten, but he also hadn’t realized that Dana even knew when her brother’s birthday was. He smiled at her and petted her head, “Dana, the stores aren’t open yet. We’ll go later.”
“No, Dad, have to go now. Store open at 5am,” Dana insisted, pulling John toward the bathroom. How she had managed to get clothes out of his bag and put them onto the counter without him hearing her, he had no idea, but in the few months she had been with him, he had learned to recognize when she would not be denied in her mission. As this was one of those times, he allowed her to push him into the bathroom without further complaint. He didn’t remember the boys being this insistent when they were growing up.
When he exited the small pink paisley bathroom, Dana handed him his truck keys and his coat and yanked him out the door.
They arrived at the supermarket nearby a few minutes later and Dana went immediately to the bakery. The man behind the counter was still setting up for the day when she demanded his attention. She pointed to a cake, “We want that one.”
John looked at the cake she had picked out and looked back at Dana, “Are you sure this is the one you want?”
“Yes, Dean likes cars. Cake has cars on it,” she declared forcefully.
“Do you want me to write his name on it?” the baker asked.
John watched as Dana’s eyes lit up and nodded vigorously. A few moments of Dana bouncing on the balls of her feet, the man handed her the cake and pointed to a row of candles.
“Don’t forget a candle for your brother,” he reminded her. “How old is he?”
“Twenty-six!” Dana informed him happily.
The baker paled and suddenly looked away for a moment before he motioned to the lighters, “Do you need something to light the candles with?”
“No, Rule # 7 – Dana not allowed to play with fire,” she told him seriously and took the candles and moved past John toward the cash register.
Fortunately, Dean was so pleased to see Dana’s smile when she presented him with the cake that he ignored happy blue and red cartoon cars painted on the surface and blew out the candle. He then blew the candle out again after she insisted that he had to make a wish.
That was the good part of the day, before they checked out of the motel and a sugar-hyped Dana couldn’t seem to stay put while they turned in their room key and planned their route to the small town in Minnesota that had shown evidence of a job. Though they had left her sitting in the flatbed of John’s truck, when they looked up from the map, she was gone. They found her slipping around a corner with another one of the motel guests. They ran after her and caught up to her just as she was entering his room. John whisked Dana off amidst her protests that there were no ghosts in the man’s room as Dean ran interference with the soon-to-be crying motel patron. Dean’s nod as they bundled Dana into the Impala told him that he had taken care of the situation and that he would give Dana her new rule while they drove off to their next location.
That night, outside of their motel room, the two men faced the reality that if something happened to them, there had to be a plan for Dana. They realized that they were foolish not to think of it sooner, but it had been a long time since he needed a contingency plan for the boys. He knew that Dean would be able to take care of both himself and Sam from the time he was fourteen, but Dana was not able to do that yet, and it would likely be a very long time before she would be able to do so. They decided that night that they would ask Pastor Jim to look after her and ask him to try to contact Sam if he couldn’t take care of her. They had tried to contact Sam when they first brought Dana into the family, but he hadn’t answered his phone and, as far as they could tell, he either didn’t receive or didn’t read Dean’s letters.
John crushed his soda can in his hand at the thought of anyone taking advantage of his girl. That was months ago and they had since added several rules to Dana’s ever-growing list of things that she dutifully wrote down in her red notebook, memorized and adhered to, even if she didn’t always understand the reasons behind the rules. Dean always took good care of her, made sure that she had what she needed, whether it was a new hairbrush after she beat a Polgara demon to death with hers when it crashed through their motel room window or a shoulder to cry on when someone on the street insulted her and Rule # 6 was that she wasn’t allowed to hurt them. And, he wasn’t sure which one of them liked the Saturday morning cartoons more as he often found them laughing over a box of sugary cereal and, most of the time, he couldn’t bring himself to break up their routine.
He knew, in a way, she would take care of Dean, too. If Dean told her she had to do something to keep one of them safe, she complied without hesitation, but it was only in the last few months that she had begun to also show signs of having a personality tucked away inside herself. And, that personality had quite the peculiar sense of humor. He remembered the first time she managed to get one over on Dean.
Six months prior
Despite their best efforts, Dana’s progress with reading had been limited. She always wrote down everything Dean told her to, but he had to help her to spell each word and she was unable to read the local newspaper or even the restaurant menu. Dean helped her write down her favorite foods and she would take out her notebook and compare the words written there with the menu when she was feeling independent, but if she was feeling lazy, she would eat whatever Dean ordered for her, until he ordered her liver and onions as an incentive to learn more words. Though she didn’t say it out loud, John could have sworn she saw a plan for revenge forming in her mind, reminding him of the boys with their prank wars. Not wanting to destroy the first spark of life she was showing, he decided to let it play out unless it drifted into dangerous territory.
One thing they had learned was that Dana made up for her inability to read with an exceptional memory for the spoken word and, after hearing the exorcism ritual twice, she was able to repeat it back to him word for Latin word. Dean had just shrugged it off with a comment about language running in the female side of the family.
It was during one of their recovery periods when Dean had the time to work on the Impala that she struck. They were holed up at Caleb’s place for a few days while John’s shoulder healed from a particularly nasty wound and Dana had been making a nuisance of herself trying to get Dean’s attention away from his beloved car. After four straight hours of listening to Dean talk to his baby instead of her, it looked like she was about to crack. Hopping down off of her designated spot on the back of John’s truck where Dean had laid all of his tools out, she stormed past John and Caleb back into the house. She emerged a few moments later with her bottle of Holy Water in her hand and marched back out to the Impala. She dumped it over the back of Dean’s neck, most of the liquid going right down his shirt, but some of it splashing in his face and he nearly smacked his head on the hood of the car when he turned toward her with an astonished look on her face.
John and Caleb watched as Dana stood calmly and forcefully in front of Dean and began reciting the exorcism ritual. It took Dean a moment to recognize the words, but once he did, his astonishment turned to realization and his realization turned to anticipation. With a war cry from him, and a gleeful screech from her, they spent the rest of the afternoon chasing each other around the yard, mock-sparring when they caught up with one another. By the time he called them in for dinner, the amount of dirt that covered both of them reminded him of when Dean and Sam were boys and they fell into a small ravine deep in the Pennsylvania woods. But, in the end, Dean promised to pay more attention to her and she promised to let him play with his car sometimes.
John knew he had to stop thinking about his family before he wouldn’t be able to leave them. Mary would be so proud of all of them. Mary.
If he could keep thinking about Mary, and not about leaving his kids to fend for themselves, he could do this. He could break every rule and follow every reckless hunch that came his way and kill this thing so he wouldn’t have to worry about it coming after his family again. Sammy could finish school and Dean and Dana could get an apartment somewhere. They could still hunt, but until he got rid of this thing, that wasn’t an option. It was safer to keep moving. He decided to check on Sammy one last time before disappearing. He would have to be careful, though. He knew the first thing Dean would do once he turned up missing is go to Sam for help – he was banking on it, actually - and Dean would know if he had been in the area if he didn’t cover his tracks well. With an air of resigned finality, John swallowed and placed his journal where he knew Dean would find it, I need the three of them together and on the move right now, so this is what I have to do.
Next Chapter: Dean, Sam Is Not A Girl