Disclaimer: I own neither Supernatural, nor Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
A/N: Thanks to my awesome Beta, you know who you are.
Sam Winchester was starting to worry. Both his brother, Dean, and their father, John, had been acting strangely since investigating possible demonic omens in California. His usually animated brother was barely speaking, barely even moving. John was acting jumpy, and considering that paranoid was normal for the ex-marine, that was saying something. Sam was in the business of finishing high school, finally, and his desire to know what the fuck was going on was warring with his desire to not get into it. He'd switched their cutlery with silver, and spiked their drinks with holy water, so at least he knew they were still them. Probably. He still hadn't ruled out some sort of spell.
Maybe they'd switched personalities. Any moment now, Dean would start barking orders and Dad would start-- he decided not to continue that line of thought.
Besides, he still hadn't ruled out robots. Not very likely, but you never know. He didn't know how to test for that, except cutting them to make sure they bled.
Sam tried to shake off those thoughts and go back to his homework, but it seemed that while he could study amidst his father's stony brooding and his brother's hyperactivity, he couldn't deal with his brother's brooding and his father's hyperactivity. He tried staring at Dean until he was barked at to stop, followed by threats if he didn't do so immediately, but apparently inspection of the ceiling took precedence, as Dean didn't even bother to pick up his head to glare. He had been lying on the bed for hours, and hadn't even turned on the magic fingers. Sam switched his gaze to his father, who should be worried, but he was cleaning his weapons for the nth time, and wasn't even demanding his sons help. He was also periodically repeating the word 'Azazel', which couldn't be good.
Perhaps they had just gone insane. Well, moreso. After another fifteen minutes in backwards land, Sam retreated to the library to finish his essay.
Once he was in the cool and quiet of the library, homework ceased to give Sam trouble. Within half an hour he'd finished and had moved on to looking up 'Azazel'. It seemed he was one of Hell's generals, and the more Sam read, the more he worried that he had done something to his family.
Sam arrived back at the motel to see his father and brother packing.
"Another job?" He asked, working to keep his voice even. He wasn't usually one to back off, but hey, everybody else was acting crazy, why not him.
"Baltimore. Apparently Dean's a 'person of interest' in a murder investigation." John shot his older son an inscrutable gaze as he said this.
"And, you're going?" Sam asked slowly. "To talk to the police? On purpose?"
"Yeah, Sammy, we're going." Dean said sharply.
"How could you be a person of interest? We were there, what, a year ago?" Sam didn't like the looks his father and brother were exchanging.
"It was nine months ago." Dean corrected.
"What does that have to do with-- HOLY SHIT!!" Dean winced and John glared, but Sam just stood there gaping. "You're not a suspect are you?"
"No." Dean answered curtly. "I wasn't anywhere near there!"
"Well, yeah, but we don't exactly advertise our location at any given time." Sam pointed out, causing John to pause and give Dean a questioning look.
"They have someone in custody, and sounded pretty damn sure he was the guy." Dean said. "It's just, before she died, she gave the paramedics my name and number."
"She had your number?" Sam asked with a frown.
"Seems like." Dean shrugged, dismissing the implied question. Sam stood in the awkward silence as his father and brother packed the rest of their things. He wanted to say something supportive, but nothing came to mind. 'Good luck' was the only thing he could come up with, but that wasn't remotely appropriate. He didn't even know with what he would be wishing him luck. Maybe the reason he couldn't think of anything appropriate to say, was because there wasn't anything appropriate to say. Then he couldn't not ask.
"So, uh, does that mean there's a baby, or did..?" Sam couldn't finish that statement.
"Yeah. Yeah, there's a baby. A girl." Dean said, head down, face carefully blank.
"What are you gonna do?" Sam asked quietly. Dean shrugged.
"There's gonna be a test, and they haven't found any of her family yet, but they could. Dunno, we'll see when we get there." With that, Dean threw the last of his things in his bag and stormed out. John gave him a warning glare before leaving. Despite the situation, Sam was relieved that they were once again acting like themselves.
The minute Sam got out of school and turned on his cell phone, it started to ring. It had been nearly three days since Dean and Dad had left for Baltimore, and this was the first he was hearing from either of them.
"Hey Dean." He answered. "How are things?""Dude, I've been calling you for like, three hours."
"I was at school." Sam told his brother slowly."This is a little more important than school."
"Why? What happened?""Well, you're an uncle Sammy."
Dean snorted. "Uncle Sam."
"Are you sure? I thought paternity tests took longer than that?" Sam asked, not sure what else to say."Not when they put a rush on it."
Dean explained. "She doesn't have any other family."
"So, uh, what are you gonna do?" Sam asked nervously."Well, we've still gotta convince social services we're not crazy, do a bunch of paper work, clear a few things up with the police, but, after that, we're bringing her home."
"Dean, what are you gonna do when you're--" Sam looked around to make sure there was nobody listening. "What happens when you're on a hunt?""We'll figure something out."
Dean said cassually, though Sam could hear the subtle waver in his voice. "Named her Dawn."
Sam was nearly knocked on his ass by that announcement. "Dawn Mary Winchester."
"That's, uh, pretty." Sam said, still recovering. Dean had gone ahead and named the baby. He'd given her his name, their mother's name, and he hadn't even finished the paperwork. "So, you're sure?""Yeah."
Dean didn't hesitate. He changed the subject to the gang banger who was now on trial for the murder. That's how he said it 'the murder'. Apparently, he was acting differently than the other dozen or so times he'd been arrested. Cops thought he was just spooked because he was going down this time, after beating the rap time and again. Dean thought he was acting like he had no idea how it happened.
"You don't think he's guilty?" Sam asked."Oh, he's guilty as hell. Just don't know if he did
"You think it might have been something supernatural then?" Sam surmised. "Dad's looking into it."
Dean told him, his voice unusually soft. "Just in case social services doesn't play ball, uh, could you start looking for apartments and shit. We might need a 'permanent address'."
"Of course. I'll see what I can find.""Thanks Sammy. We'll be back as soon as we get this sorted out."
"Sure. See you then." Sam said and ended the call.
After the first disasterous interview with a landlord, Sam decided it would be better if he found a job first, then start looking for a 'home base' as Dean had dubbed it. It was just after he'd started work at a computer store that Sam got the news from Stanford. When he'd applied, he had wanted to get away, from his dad, from hunting, but now, he didn't like it, but he couldn't leave Dean to raise Dawn the same way they'd been raised. He knew social services would agree with him on that. It didn't feel real, though, Dean being a dad, and him having a neice. Sam ran his palms over his jeans as he started to think of a plan. He didn't know how Dean would feel about it, but he thought maybe this could work in their favour. He spent about three minutes staring at his phone before calling Dean. "Hey."
Dean answered. "You find a place?"
"Actually, there's a problem. Nobody is gonna rent to a high school kid, at least not in this town." Sam explained. "I managed to get a job though, which might make it easier, well, possible.""Crap. Where are you working?"
"Computer store." Sam shrugged. "I got to thinking, though, why am I looking for a place here? I wanted to spend the last month or so of school in the same place, but this is just where we happened to be at the time, and I finish in just over a week. Maybe we should be looking somewhere else.""You got somewhere particular in mind, or are you gonna start a country wide search?"
Dean was sounding annoyed, but considering he'd been dealing with cops and social workers, probably his two least favourite groups of people, for days, he was probably starting to sound like that all the time.
"Actually, I uh, got a letter from Stanford University, and, I've got a full ride." Sam said, and he heard Dean puff a breath into the phone, so he plowed ahead. "Which, isn't in the middle of nowhere, and I get access to a bunch of resources and programs. It would also make us look more respectable." "Respectable? When the hell did you apply for college?"
Dean had gone from annoyed to pissed.
"Months ago, the deadline was December.""When exactly were you planning on telling us?"
"Dean, calm down, I wasn't gonna bring it up until I knew for sure. Now I do, and this is just an idea.""Yeah, like you're gonna take no for an answer on this? Dammit Sam! Could you have picked a worse time--"
"Actually, Dean, if we can't make this work, I'll give up my scholarship, let it go to the next candidate, but I really think this could be best for everyone.""Really? Who exactly is included in everyone?"
"You, me, Dad-- Dawn. This scholarship doesn't just pay for tuition, it covers room and board too. Already that's one less mouth. Just, give it some thought, alright?" Sam pleaded. Okay, maybe his plan was a little selfish, but that didn't mean he was wrong."Alright, but if we say no, you'll drop this?"
Sam swallowed, not really wanting to give this up, but knowing he may have to. He paused, and heard Dean suck in a breath which meant he was taking the silence as a negative.
"Alright. You say no, I'll give it up." Sam said with a sigh, knowing Dean would hold him to it."Okay, I'll talk to Dad. Just, don't stop looking for an adress, alright?"
"I'll keep looking." Sam assured him. "Talk to you later.""Yeah, see you."
It took two days, but Dean and Dad came around that Sam going to college actually would help their family look less like a bunch of crazy drifters. So Sam started looking for places close to campus that were affordable and up to code. It seemed those were few and far between, but he made a list and decided to give the details to Dean instead of trying to rent the places himself, since that hadn't gone well. He also started to look for work in the area, hoping to do better than his current job, but not really expecting to. They even convinced Bobby to head down to California to see a renter on their behalf. Sam was feeling more than a little pleased with himself.
Some of his satisfaction became anxiety, a few days later when he learned that they had managed to get custody. They were bringing her home. They were coming back with a baby. Sam, for one, had no idea what to do with a baby. He knew they needed constant supervision and you had to be quiet around them, but that was about it. And what if there really was something supernatural after her? Babies couldn't run or hide, you had to do that for them. So, maybe he was freaking out a little.
Typical Dean, the one time he disobeys an order, it's the condom one.
He was jittery all through school and work that day. So much so that he caught his boss checking his pupils. Though, he had to wonder if he really knew what to look for, or if he had just heard that's what you do. By the time he got back to the motel, he had exhausted himself with doubts and worries.
He walked back to the motel, and saw the Impala waiting in the parking lot. As quickly as he walked to the room, it seemed to take hours to get there. Sam carefully unlocked the door. What he saw almost made him wonder if he was in the wrong room. Dean was sitting on one of the beds feeding a bottle to the tiny pink bundle in his arms. A car seat was sitting on the floor beside him, blankets and an extra set of clothes piled in it.
"Hey." He said softly, completely out of his depth. There was a soft pop as the baby stopped suckling to look over at him. The first thing he noticed were the wide eyes, a bright shade of blue green, and soft mop of blonde hair. She peered curiously at him for a few more seconds, before she was satisfied and went back to her bottle. Dean just grinned at him. Sam smiled softly at the scene, suddenly forgetting all the reasons this was bad. "She's beautiful."
"Yeah." Dean said, staring down at his daughter. He looked back up at him. "Dad's switching the room for a suite, so get your stuff together." Sam nodded and collected his clothes and school things for the trek down the hall. He looked over at his brother as he burped and soothed the baby. He knew he shouldn't be surprised that Dean knew what he was doing. After all, Dean looked after him more often than their Dad for as long as he could remember, but, well, it wasn't something he thought about.
When the time came to move themselves, the baby didn't want to be put in her carrier. She started fussing the minute she left Dean's arms, but the motel manager was glaring and grumbling at them to get their shit together, so despite her unhappy murmering, she was strapped in so they could get everything in one trip. They got a warning about keeping the noise down as he glared down at her. She responded with a petulant gurgle. Once their stuff was all sorted out, Dean picked the baby up again.
"It's alright Sunshine." He said softly.
"I'm gonna go pick up some dinner." John announced, grabbing the keys.
"Sure, Grandpa." Dean said with a smirk. John made a face as he closed the door. "I gotta shower, how about you and Dawn get acquainted." He said, and placed the baby in Sam's arms before he could respond, adjusting his hold so he supported her head. Once again Sam found himself staring into curious blue green eyes, as her warm weight settled in his arms. Dawn waved a tiny fist around uncertainly before shoving it in her mouth.
"Hi to you too."