Summary: Dean has a parental moment—or two—and Ben is found!
Pairings: None at this time
Disclaimer: I definitely don’t own any of these characters. Dark Angel characters belong to James Cameron. BtVS characters belong to Joss Whedon. SPN characters belong to Eric Kripke.
Note: I’m calling this story in the series a non-BtVS crossover because the only part of BtVS world that comes in is a quick mention and the fact that it starts off still at the school in Cleveland. Otherwise, this part is all DA/SPN. I just don’t think that is enough to consider it an actual crossover. This story in the R&R series will likely be at least a two-parter, maybe more.
Thank you to my two lovely betas, MaraLiz & Rorylondra, for your invaluable assistance – and arguing with me over sentence structure when necessary…
Dean carried the sleeping boy back into the school. He had wrapped his jacket around the tiny form once again and as Alec nuzzled down into his neck and sighed against his skin. He could look at him as a regular child and not the super-soldier he had been bred to be. No, that is what he was born to be, but Dean would be damned—again—if he was going to let the innocent boy in his arms be raised to be a mindless killer.
Sure, Dean had killed demons and various supernatural baddies and sometimes killing those demons had required killing the people that had been possessed, but he’d never killed anyone or anything if he had a choice otherwise. He had no illusions about the life of a Winchester, but he also knew that he had to do right by his kids. In that moment, some of the respect for his father that he had felt slipping away from him over the last few years came flooding back to him. This job was bigger than any hunt he had ever taken part of; it was bigger than the looming Apocalypse. He felt simultaneously terrified and incredibly blessed at the thought of the two innocent little souls who were going to be his sole responsibility. Their upbringing, their safety, their physical and emotional well-being. Two things he knew without a doubt were that they were his boys and he loved them already. They were intrinsically linked to him in a way that he had never felt before, not even when Sam was a small child and looking at Dean like he held the world in the palm of his hand. It was inexplicable, but there was no doubt that these children were his
and he would make sure that they knew that he belonged to them as well. They have a right to be safe and loved and I’m damn well going to make sure they know that,
he vowed as he climbed the grand staircase up to the rooms they usually used when they came for a visit.
He stopped in front of his door and managed to turn the doorknob without disturbing Alec. He knew he should bring him back to the room Dawn had set up for him so he would wake up in familiar surroundings, but he just couldn’t bring himself to be separated from his son. The word brought him up short once again. He wasn’t sure if it was actually having a son or the fact that said son had slipped so seamlessly passed his defenses and taken root inside of his heart that threw him for a loop. Either way, it really didn’t matter, he decided as he felt the boy exhale against his neck.
The room set up was pretty similar to a motel room, with two queen-sized beds, a bathroom, a table and chairs, two small dressers and a television. It had been a joke when they first started working with the Slayers, but of course, Sam and Dean had turned the joke on the Slayers as they insisted that they would go to a motel if one thing was changed in the room. Walking softly across the room, he flipped on the bathroom light for enough light to see by, but not enough to wake the boy up. He was about to set Alec down on the bed when he saw that Sam had come in behind him and was already moving to turn the covers down. As soon as Sam pulled back the sheets, Dean settled Alec down on the side of his bed that he never used and gently removed the boy’s sneakers, tucking his feet under the covers. He removed his jacket and pulled the covers up the rest of the way to tuck his son in for the first time.
A moment of surrealism hit him as he realized that he needed to treasure every time he got to tuck his boys in because most parents had years that he could never get back—that his children could never get back—to make sure that his sons were sleeping safely and soundly exactly where he put them. But, at the same time, if those years hadn’t been stolen from him, Alec and Ben wouldn’t exist, so a little part of him had to just be grateful that they had survived long enough for him to be a part of their lives. He knew it wasn’t rational to feel that it was the years with his boys that were stolen from him and not simply his DNA, but Dean wasn’t exactly known for rational thinking when it came to his family and, clones or sons, Alec and Ben were most definitely his family.
Alec started to stir as he began to move away and he walked back over to the boy, even as he looked at Sam for help. At first, Sam looked as helpless as he was, but then Sam was giving him a pointed look and motioning to Alec’s nose. When he looked back at Alec, sure enough, the boy’s nose was twitching. Before Dean could figure out what that meant, Sam was tugging on the tail of his outer shirt with one hand and motioning to Alec with the other. It was times like this that he was glad that he and Sam had developed almost telepathic communication skills because he was already shrugging out of his shirt and placing the warm fabric next to Alec’s head even as Sam’s hand reached to pull the sleeve off of his arm. Instinctively, Alec turned toward the shirt and pulled it into his chest, tucking the fabric under his cheek. This time when Dean moved away, Alec didn’t stir.
They took turns in the bathroom, first Sam and then Dean, and when Dean had come out of the bathroom, he found that Sam had gotten the customary extra blanket out of the closet and set it up on Dean’s side of the bed like a sleeping bag. After hours of driving and the emotional overload Dean had been functioning under since he found out about Alec and Ben, Dean was asleep the moment his head hit the pillow. He didn’t even wake up when Alec rolled toward him in his sleep, abandoning the shirt and burrowing into Dean’s side and staking his claim by clasping onto Dean’s arm possessively.
******* “You have him?”
Sam asked as he walked into the room, catching the attention of Dean and Alec as they wrestled around the floor. Dean called it ‘training,’ but given the number of giggles that erupted from his nephew—and Sam still wasn’t quite used to using that word in relation to anyone—their tumble on the floor had more to do with bonding than with teaching Alec any real skills. Alec seemed to instinctively know that something monumental was happening and allowed himself to be pulled into his father’s—and if that choked Sam up slightly, he would never admit it—lap even while he watched Sam’s face. He smiled at them and nodded before going back to the telephone conversation, “That’s great, Ellen. No, if you think he’s too skittish to talk, we’ll take your word for it. We will leave as soon as we’re able to. Just need to pack Alec’s things and grab our bags.”
Even before he hung up the phone, he felt a strange breeze blow through the room and turned to see Dean’s lap vacant and Alec nowhere in sight. “Where…?” Sam began before remembering that Alec could move faster than he could see.
Dean smiled as he stood up, telling him, “Alec is going to be a good brother.”
“He’s really taken to all of this, hasn’t he?” Sam asked.
Dean rubbed behind his neck with a thoughtful look, “More or less. Truth is, I figure he is about ten percent cool with everything and ninety percent pretending to be, but I also figure that eventually that ninety percent will swing in the other direction.”
“Kind of like if he pretends long enough, he’ll forget that he’s pretending?” Sam asked.
“Something like that,” Dean confirmed, pulling their duffel bags out of the closet and disappearing into the bathroom to make sure they didn’t leave anything. He re-emerged with Sam’s shampoo, which he tossed at him with a roll of his eyes. He zipped the duffel and sat down heavily on the bed, wiping a hand down his face as he confessed, “I don’t know if they’ll ever really be able to get past it. I mean, how do they move on from the evil they were born into? How do I help them move on? The Apocalypse is nothing compared to raising two emotionally and psychologically damaged genetically altered would-be killing machines…”
“Dean, listen to me,” Sam said firmly, waiting for Dean to look up at him before continuing, “They aren’t…well, okay, they probably are a bit damaged, but they aren’t beyond repair. You’ll know what to do when the bad things come for them, physically and emotionally. I have faith in that. You’ll just know what to do. And, you aren’t alone. When you need back-up, I’ll be there.”
“Yeah, I know, Sam,” Dean told him. Then, as if he sensed Alec’s approach, and for all Sam knew, he did, Dean stood up and shrugged off his frustration, putting on a gentle expression as the door opened and the little bundle of energy blurred over to them.
“I’m ready,” Alec declared forcefully.
“I can see that,” Dean agreed. “Did you say good-bye to everyone you need to say good-bye to?”
“Yes, sir,” Alec told him.
Sam watched as the boy stood between attention and parade rest, not seeming to know what was expected of him. Sam realized that was just like every other kid his age. He thought back to when he was a ten-year-old and what he needed at that time. He had just found out about the supernatural world and had cajoled Dean into telling him everything that he knew about their crazy world. Sam looked over at Dean, but his older brother hadn’t seemed to notice as he was stuffing the last of their laundry into the laundry duffel. He decided to let Dean handle that part, so he grabbed the packed bags and walked over to Alec, holding out his hand.
“Come on, Alec,” he said. “I’ll show you how we pack the Impala and you can be in charge of making sure we don’t forget anything whenever we have to pack up and leave.”
He was gratified when Alec only cast one quick look in Dean’s direction before he took Sam’s hand. He smiled at the boy and told Dean, “We’ll be by the Impala when you’re done.”
“Okay,” Dean replied. “See you in a minute.”
As they left the room, Sam was focused on his young charge and completely missed the smile that grew on Dean’s face as he continued to stuff the laundry duffel.
When they arrived at the Impala, Sam led Alec around to the trunk before turning to his nephew and asked, “Did Dean show you the trunk yet?”
“No, Sir,” Alec replied. He seemed unsure of himself and Sam smiled at him in encouragement.
“I think you’re going to like this,” Sam told him as he lifted and popped the trunk, showing Alec the interior of the trunk.
“It’s a trunk, Sir,” Alec informed him. “I have actually seen a trunk before and, no, I don’t want to ride in it.”
Sam laughed at Alec’s smart mouth, more proof than anything else that he was Dean’s son. “Okay, okay, smarty-pants,” Sam caught his attention, seeing the slight gleam in the boy’s eye, “ever seen one of these?”
He flipped the catch for the false bottom and lifted it up to reveal the Winchesters’ personal arsenal. Looking down at Alec, he saw his nephew’s eyes grow as wide as saucers and then a grin formed on his face as he reached for one of the weapons. The expression on his face turned confused and then disappointed when Sam caught his wrist mere inches away from a serrated blade. Sam snorted and ruffled Alec’s hair. He picked the boy up and sat him down inside the trunk.
“Don’t worry,” Sam told him. “You don’t have to ride in the trunk. And, I promise, you’ll get to use the weapons, but not now.”
Alec seemed mollified and returned to perusing the trunk. He reached for the amulets and Sam watched as he let the leather strands slip through his fingers, “Dawn taught me about protection symbols. I know what all of these are for, plus others. She showed me how to draw a Devil’s Trap and a couple of Sumerian charms. She says I have a steady hand and I’m good at drawing them.”
“That’s a handy skill to have, especially when you are with us,” Sam told him. He reached over and separated one of the necklaces from the rest of them. He slipped it over Alec’s head and patted him on the side of the head before turning back to the trunk and checking to make sure all of their weapons were in good condition.
“Sir?” Alec caught his attention.
“What is it, Alec?” Sam asked gently. Something in Alec’s demeanor was hesitant and he didn’t want to spook the boy.
“You smell like…” Alec began and then he stopped.
“Dean?” Sam prompted, taking pity on his young nephew. He knew the boy was still trying to figure out his place with them and even though he knew Dean told him he could call him ‘Dad,’ it didn’t surprise him that he was skittish about doing so.
“Yeah,” Alec confirmed, but then he continued, “but not totally. I smell like him, too, and I bet Ben smells like him, too, but there’s another scent on you that smells…cold.”
“Cold? How do you mean?” Sam asked.
Alec shrugged, but it seemed awkward, like he was imitating what he had seen someone else do and that the shrug didn’t really come naturally to him. He said, “I don’t know how else to explain it. Just cold.”
“I don’t mean to smell cold,” he told him seriously. He believed Alec and wondered if it was possible that the boy could actually smell the demon blood in him. For the hundredth time, he resolved to stop drinking the demon blood, but this time, looking directly into wary green eyes that were so much like his brother’s, but still innocent, he meant it. He sat down on the bumper and looked over at Alec. “Will you do me a favor, Alec?”
“What’s that, Sir?”
“I’m going to work on not smelling cold anymore, but if you think I smell cold, you have the exclusive right to tell me so and to demand that I stop smelling cold,” Sam told him.
“Yes, Sir,” Alec told him with conviction.
Sam stood up and pulled Alec out of the trunk before closing the lid to the secret compartment. He dropped their duffels on the empty floor of the trunk and turned Alec back toward the school. “Come on,” he told him. “Let’s go get your dad so we can go get your brother.”
“And, for the record, Alec, you don’t have to call me ‘Sir.’ Uncle Sam works just fine,” Sam told him, swinging the boy up onto his shoulders. “Make sure you duck when we go through the doorways.”
Jo woke to hear Ben and Tinga whispering in the corner. She was sure that if she hadn’t been a hunter for the last few years, she wouldn’t have been able to hear them, but there was something about hunting that heightened her senses. She knew it was a survival instinct; if you didn’t adapt quickly, you died. She opened her eyes and saw the two children huddled against the wall with a blanket wrapped around them. They were staying in an old cabin that her mom had found abandoned a while back. The fireplace worked, but there was no electricity or heat otherwise, so they had moved the beds out into the living area to be close to the fire, but when Jo flipped off her blanket, she noticed the marked chill in the February air. She glanced over to the fireplace and saw that the fire was almost out. Her mom had given explicit instructions to their two Transgenic charges that they were not allowed to touch the fire, but that didn’t give her any clue as to why they hadn’t woken her up to ask her to put more wood on to burn.
After Clive had returned from the hunt that she and Tinga found, he and Ellen went into town to hustle some money from the locals. Until the Winchesters showed up, they had an extra mouth to feed, but Ellen wasn’t willing to risk leaving the children alone, so she waited until she could take Clive as back-up. When Clive had first shown up, they had been worried about his reaction to the Transgenic children, but all it took was Tinga’s infectious giggle when Jo showed her how to make snow angels to win him over. Now that the immediate threat of the haunting was taken care of, Clive had said that he would continue looking for the remaining children and see them safely to Cleveland.
Although she and her mother hadn’t talked about it specifically, Jo knew that Tinga belonged with them—even if it meant that her mom had to scale back hunting for a while until Tinga was bigger. Jo was okay with that; she knew there were other hunters she could partner with until her mom declared Tinga ready.
For now, she had two children under her care. The doors and windows were salted, the room was warded, and with three quick steps, there were another two logs burning in the fireplace. On her way back to bed, Jo changed direction and headed toward Tinga’s bed where they were huddled together. She snagged the blanket off her own bed along the way and when she stood in front of them, she announced, “All right, make room for me.”
Ben and Tinga scurried to create a space for her and she wrapped the large blanket around them all as they each cuddled into a side. She stroked their foreheads and waited for them to fall back to sleep, but something was obviously on their minds because they continued to stare at each other and she caught them making silent hand gestures under the blanket. Tinga had begun teaching her some of Manticore’s sign language and she recognized Tinga’s order that Ben tell her something. She also recognized his staunch refusal.
Finally, she broke the silence, telling Ben, “You know, you can tell me anything you want to. I won’t judge you or think you’re silly or weak.”
“It’s okay,” Ben replied. “I’m fine.”
“Ben, you’ve been through a lot, not just these last few days, but before that, too,” Jo told him. “Stuff you should never have had happen to you. It’s okay to be scared and it’s okay to not be sure what is going on. But, you can ask and if I have the answers, I’ll tell you. If I don’t have the answers, as soon as we can, we’ll find someone who does.
“I don’t think you can help,” Ben muttered glumly.
“Maybe not,” Jo agreed, “but, I’m willing to listen, at least. And, who knows? Maybe I’ll pull a rabbit out of my hat after all?”
“You can do that?” Tinga asked, her childlike wonder mixing with her soldier’s skepticism.
“No,” Jo admitted, kissing Tinga’s head lightly. “It’s just an expression. It means that maybe I’ll be able to help after all.”
“Oh,” Tinga replied before turning to Ben and ordering, “Tell her or I will.”
Ben sighed heavily and the words rushed out of him, “I want to stay with you and Ellen and Tinga.”
“You do?” she asked. She waved her hand around the dark, drafty cabin. “Is that because of the four-star accommodations?”
“You say things I don’t understand sometimes, but I can tell you like me,” Ben explained. “I don’t know these other people who are coming. What if they don’t like me? What if they like the other one better?”
Her heart went out to him and, if he wasn’t already a Winchester by Dean’s decree, she wouldn’t have been able to resist convincing her mother to keep him as well.
“Oh, you mean Alec, don’t you?” she asked and smiled when he nodded against her shoulder. She gave him a little squeeze and tried to reassure him, “I know Sam and Dean pretty well and I think I can say with certainty that they are going to love both of you so much more than anyone ever has in your life. They just don’t know any other way.”
“But, what if I’m not lovable?” Ben asked quietly.
This time, Jo kissed his head and replied, “I don’t think you have to worry about that. I have it on very good authority that you are quite lovable. Just ask Tinga here.”
Tinga nodded her head vigorously in agreement, but Ben still seemed to be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. After a moment, he spoke again, “But, you’re sending me away and I won’t see Tinga anymore. She was my sister, but soon she won’t be my anything.”
She could hear the hysteria starting in his voice and she hugged him close. “That’s not going to happen, Ben. Just because you won’t be together all the time doesn’t mean you two aren’t family. In fact, you’re more family now than you were back in Manticore.”
“How?” Ben asked skeptically.
“No one can erase all those years you spent together, but you guys ran away and you split up. You wouldn’t have had each other then, and if you had stayed at Manticore, eventually, they would have split you all up to train without your unit. But now, Tinga is going to stay with us. She’ll be a Harvelle…”
“I will?” Tinga poked her head up, nearly hitting Jo’s jaw accidentally.
She stroked Tinga’s hair and shushed her, “Yes, of course you will. I want you to be and I always get my way. Now, let me finish what I was telling Ben.” Jo looked back over at Ben and continued, “Like, I said, Tinga will be a Harvelle and you will be a Winchester and a lot of hunters consider each other to be family. The Harvelles and the Winchesters are like cousins, so you and Tinga will still have plenty of contact and not just for a few months or so before Manticore would have separated you, but forever.”
Ben seemed to be thinking it over and she thought he had finally decided to let it drop, but then he asked, “So, if you can make your mom do whatever you want, why don’t you get her to keep me, too? Is it because you don’t like me?”
Once again, Jo had the urge to wrap him up and steal away with him before the Winchesters could come and claim him, but in reality, she knew that Dean had already claimed him and she wasn’t about to get in between Dean Winchester and his son. With a deep breath, she rested her head against his forehead and told him, “Kiddo, if you weren’t already so spoken for that people who aren’t even born yet have been told that you are a Winchester, I wouldn’t ever let you go. But, you have good people coming to take care of you and, if I didn’t think that they would love you the way you deserve, I wouldn’t have let Mom call them to tell them that we found you.”
Jo sensed the moment that he realized that he wasn’t going to get his way. He didn’t cry, but his arms wound a little tighter around her waist and he sunk down deeper into the covers wrapped around them. She kept her arms wrapped around both of them and, slowly, but surely, felt them both relax back into sleep. Once both children were completely out, she allowed herself to drift off again, knowing that her mother would be back by the time they woke up and that she would take over where Jo had left off.