Don't Take Candy From Strangers
What Makes a Family
Ch. 1 – Don’t Take Candy From Strangers
Summary: It’s all about family – the family we’re born with and the family we create along the way.
Disclaimer: I definitely don’t own any of these characters.
Note: Post S7 BTVS, S5 ATS & pre-S1 SPN
Maybe it was the way her dark eyes looked him over, reminding him of Sammy’s skittish glances when they were kids and their dad would come back beaten up and bleeding from a hunt. Maybe it was how she efficiently and ruthlessly sliced through the demon with a large shard of glass, cutting her own hand deeply as demon blood sprayed the alley. Maybe it was the way she put herself in between him and the demon that clearly had the upper hand in their over-the-top-rope battle royal as he slumped against the wall, his vision going double for a moment from one too many attempts to dent the dumpster with his forehead. Dean couldn’t be sure why he brought her back to the crappy motel room he was sharing with his father, but he knew he couldn’t leave the traumatized girl dirty and bleeding in the same dark alley where she saved his life.
As she sat quietly in one of the standard issue motel room chairs, polishing off the end of his Peanut M&Ms with her right hand while he carefully cleaned and bandaged her left hand, there were really only a couple of things that he did know for sure: 1 – She had determined that he was not a threat at the moment, and 2 – He had no idea how he was going to explain this to his father.
Dean had only just finished securing the gauze on her hand when his father burst through the door, gun at the ready. Now, Dean regarded himself as someone with quick reflexes, but he could have sworn that he had barely had time to blink before the girl was up and over the small table, pulling him down behind it as she passed him and knocked the table on its side. When he was able to track the blur of motion she had been, he saw her injured hand holding the barrel of his father’s shotgun well out of his reach while her other hand had managed to wrap around his father’s throat and lift him off of the ground. Well, that’s something you don’t see everyday,
he thought briefly, before trying to evaluate the situation. His father was turning an unhealthy shade of blue as he struggled against her iron grasp and Dean cautiously stepped up to the pair. Seeing the uncontrolled look in her eye, he knew better than to try to touch her for fear of her snapping his father’s neck accidentally in reaction. Fighting against every instinct he had to shoot her, he formed himself to stay calm as he spoke, “Dana, it’s okay. This is my father. He was just scared. I didn’t go to meet him like I was supposed to. I was helping you, remember?”
Dean watched as the girl struggled to understand the information through her panicked haze. After a moment, she shifted her gaze to him, “Father?”
“Yes,” Dean affirmed, “This is my dad. He’s not going to hurt you. Please, let him go.”
Another long moment passed and Dean was worried for a moment that he would have to attack his savior to protect his father, but like a switch flipping, Dana opened her hand and dropped his father, who fell against the door and gasped for air. Dean followed him down, both to check on him, and to warn him, “Hey, Dad. I have to calm her down. No sudden moves, okay? And, don’t go for your other gun.”
Dana held onto the gun and gave them a wide berth while he pulled his father completely into the motel room and closed the door. Fortunately, this wasn’t the best part of town and it was pretty late at night, so hopefully, no one would send any so-called authority figures to investigate any disturbance. They would probably just think of it as background noise,
Dean grimaced as he noted what he was sure was a bloodstain peeking out from under the television stand. He managed to get his father settled onto one of the beds and did a more thorough check of his throat to make sure there wasn’t any permanent damage before John began to give him The Look
– the one that usually preceded many, many hours of extra training for violating one of his father’s sacred hunting rules. Before the older man could start to question him, Dean went to the bathroom and brought back a cup of water. When he returned, he found them both attempting to stare the other down. He handed John the water and righted the fallen table and chairs. When Dana hesitated, he put another pack of candy on the table near one of the chairs and, slowly, she sat down to start eating the contents of the bag. The shotgun was still firmly held in her injured hand and Dean gestured toward it, “You’re going to hurt your hand and undo all of my hard work patching you up. Can you put the gun over there? I promise, he won’t touch it anymore tonight.”
He sat perfectly still while Dana examined him and his father and let her draw the conclusion that he was telling her the truth. He had a feeling that she would always be able to tell if he was lying. Dana leaned the gun against the wall nearby and when Dean reached out to her injury, she let him check to see if she had caused herself more damage. Once satisfied that she was okay, he turned to his father.
“What the hell is going on here?” John demanded.
“Dad, this is Dana. I found the demon we were hunting tonight – or it found me. Either way, I was taking a beating and Dana, here, saved me,” Dean explained.
“That why you look like you were hit by a bus?” his father asked.
Dean touched one of the many bruises that had formed on his face and winced. Not a good idea,
he realized belatedly. He was about to answer when Dana took the opportunity to interject herself into the conversation.
“Dean hit big box with head. Dana see. Dana help,” she stated plainly.
“Dumpster,” Dean replied. He smiled at her when Dana dutifully repeated the word, once with a little uncertainty, but then at his encouragement, he watched as she acknowledged and filed the word into her memory, then revised her statement.
“Dean hit dumpster with head.”
“And, you saw and you helped,” John noted.
Dana nodded solemnly, then her hand shot out and all Dean could see was a blur of motion before Dana was happily chomping on the last piece of candy that had been in the bag. He handed her the television remote and walked over to his father once she seemed satisfied with pushing buttons, randomly changing channels. They kept their voices low, not wanting her to overhear them.
“Son,” John began, pulling himself into a sitting position, “What exactly are you thinking here?”
Dean looked thoughtfully at the girl for a moment, then met his father’s eyes, “I think she should come with us.”
“Dean, I really don’t think that is a good idea. She’s obviously unstable and someone must be looking for her,” John argued.
“Doesn’t mean that they should get her back,” Dean responded without hesitation. “She has marks on her from being restrained and, by her clothes, I’d say she’s been living on the streets for two or three days now. Our way of life can’t be any worse than where she came from.”
Dean watched as his father looked the girl up and down briefly at his statement. The older man ran a hand through his unruly beard and sighed, “We’ll see, Dean. She can stay for tonight, though. Did you, by any chance, feed her anything besides sugar?”
Dean pulled a sheepish face, “All I had was the M&Ms and I didn’t want to take her to a diner, her all bleeding and me all bruised up.”
John hefted himself to his feet, “Okay, I’ll go get us all some food – and I’ll stop by the desk and have them send a cot up for the night. It’s too late to figure anything out tonight and I won’t take her to the authorities until we know more.”
Dean was about to protest when his father held up his hand, “That’s as good as you are going to get tonight, Dean. Now, give her some of your clothes to wear and tell her to get cleaned up while I’m gone. No funny business, Dean. That’s an order.”
“Yes, sir,” Dean recited, just as he had always done and, as soon as his father left the room, he moved to complete the tasks set before him with his patented soldier look on his face. But, though the war was far from over, inwardly, he knew he had already won the first battle when his father hadn’t made the order that he drop Dana off immediately in front of the local police precinct.
Digging into his duffel bag, he pulled out a shirt and some sweat pants for her to sleep in and walked over to her. He crouched down next to her, “Here, Dana. These are for you. Would you like to use the bathroom to clean up?”
A large smile graced Dana’s face as she dropped the remote unceremoniously on the floor and grabbed for the clothes. At Dean’s prompting, she closed herself in the bathroom and he relaxed as he heard the faucet turn on. A few minutes later, the water turned off again and she emerged with her face freshly scrubbed and his clothes clinging to her still damp skin. He checked her bandage to make sure she hadn’t disturbed it. Knowing his dad would have a fit if he saw the towels all over the bathroom floor, he picked them up and arranged them into some semblance of order and tossed her dirty clothes into his duffel bag. He found her watching him when he turned around. He gave her a small smile and led her back to the table. He sat down across from her and met her eyes, “Can I ask you a question?”
Dana looked at him with a puzzled expression, but nodded.
“Do you know where you came from?”
Dana’s expression darkened and he wished he hadn’t started their conversation with that question. She stood up and began to move toward the door, but he took a chance and gently touched her arm. He urged her to sit back down as he spoke, “I’m just asking. I’m not going to make you go back there if you don’t want to. I just want to know if you know where you were.”
Dana eyed him warily, but nodded.
Dean sighed, knowing that he sounded much older at that moment than his twenty-five years. He had seen so many instances where the supernatural world had invaded the mortal world and he could face that head on, but there was no mistaking the fear in Dana’s eyes. She had no fear in her eyes earlier when she took down the large demon and saved his life, but now, in contemplating where she had been, Dean could see a hopeless fear that dulled her gaze as she looked away from him.
He was so intent on watching her reaction that he almost missed her words as she whispered, “No where else to go.”
“What was that?” he asked.
“No mommy, no daddy, no brother. Nobody to take care of Dana. Dana can’t take care of Dana,” she told him, a tear slipping down her face. “Have to go back to the box. Have to go back to sleep.”
It took him a moment, but he realized that the box she was referring to was probably a room somewhere. He had noticed earlier a band on her wrist when he was cleaning up her wound, but his father’s entrance had distracted him from taking a closer look. Once he did, he saw why she was upset at the thought of going back. He remembered hearing a story on the news about a mix-up involving patient medications that led to the disappearance of one of their residents. At the time, he thought them incompetent, but now, seeing Dana in front of him, he understood that they were not even trying to help her. They were just keeping her sedated. Regardless of what his father decided, he made his decision then and there.
“Dana,” he called to her to get her attention, “you don’t have anyone to look after you? No mother, no father, you said. What about aunts, uncles or other family? Does anyone come to visit you?”
Dana shook her head, “No one comes. Dana alone.”
“And, if you had people to look after you, people who would keep you safe, would you go with them and promise to listen and do everything they tell you?” Dean questioned slowly, making sure that she heard every word.
Dana nodded her head after he was done speaking and waited for him to continue.
“Did you like killing the bad thing that was trying to hurt me tonight?” Dean asked with a smile. “Want to do it again?”
Dana nodded vigorously.
“Then, you can come with us and we’ll take care of you. I’ve only ever had a brother, but Sammy is kind of a girl, so I think we can make it work. What do you say?” he asked her and could see the confusion written on her face at being given a choice in her life, so he continued, “Our life isn’t very easy. We move around a lot and we get hurt a lot, but we do good work. I can’t make this decision for you. It has to be your choice to come with us. It would be easier for you to stay and go back to sleep, but if you come with us, I promise you, I’ll do everything I can to help you so that one day, Dana will be able to take care of Dana.”
Dana smiled as he finished speaking and Dean thought he had just found his new pastime – he would spend a lot of hours talking to Dana and trying to get her to smile.
“Dana come with you,” she affirmed and her smile grew wider when he smiled at her in return. Then, with the same hushed tone that his father had used, she told him, “But, no funny business. That’s an order.”Oh, boy,
Dean thought as he laughed, she is going to be handful. Deciding he should wait and let his father figure out the super hearing part on his own, Dean chuckled to himself at what he knew his father’s reaction would be. He knew she was very different from Sammy, but had a feeling that she would pose many of the same obstacles that they had faced with his younger brother. He missed Sammy and hoped that he would get to introduce him to his new sister one day. He knew, without a doubt, that Sam’s compassionate nature would have led him to the same course of action as he took tonight and wondered if, somehow, Sam was with him tonight. His next thought surprised him, It’ll be nice to have someone to take care of again.
Dean reached out to her and let his hand hover near her hair for a moment before touching her raven locks gently. He cautiously pulled her into a hug, and pressed a quick kiss to her temple, and was glad when she accepted both actions, even if she didn’t return the gesture, “Welcome to Clan Winchester, Dana.”
Knowing that he had quite a bit of work ahead of him to get her ready to appear in actual society and that his father wouldn’t have the patience to be of much help, Dean determined that he would need to start working to help her immediately. He glanced at his watch. His father would return shortly with the food, the cot and the information he had certainly gone to steal from the hospital, so he would start with just a quick lesson.
Realizing that she would need the very basics of human survival, Dean held up the empty bag of Peanut M&Ms and gestured for Dana to pay attention, “Okay, Winchester Rule # 1 – Don’t take candy from strangers.”
AN: For those of you wondering, Dana will not likely have a pairing anytime in the near future, if at all. She has some major healing to do first. This is really a family fic, not a pairing fic.
Next Chapter: What I have To Do