What makes a Calling
Disclaimer: I bow to the geniuses that are Mr. Whedon and Mr. Kripke and I steal from neither- I borrow. :)
A/N: Another random one-shot in the same universe, set four (and a bit) years later.
They were in Tampa, Florida, when the Winchester’s world was rocked to its foundations. Again.
John was on a Hunt- three women had been eviscerated in three months and the family had settled into a two-bedroom hovel for the duration. It was summer, almost, so Sam and Faith spent their time training and following Dean around like puppies and didn’t bother with school. Sam only protested a little- his desire to learn only outweighed by his sister’s pleas. Dean had argued that they’d only had a few weeks to go and it wasn’t worth enrolling- might have been, if John had planned to be there all summer, but their next hunt was already lined up, two states away.
They’d been hunting together, all four of them, for a year. Dean had insisted that they wait until Faith was fourteen before letting her get involved; same as he had with Sam. John hadn’t questioned the insistence- it was easier, leaving the pair alone together than it would have been if they’d never found Faith. They made a good team.
So they were in Tampa and there was a lot of down time- John was working the case and working at a real (paying) job at the same time. Dean was working too- hustling pool and poker in the evenings. But the days… during the days, he gave his brother and sister his attention. He gave them a summer holiday- what else was he going to do with his cash, but spend it on them? Florida was further south- and further east- than they normally travelled, but Bobby had called in a favour and Dean was intent on taking advantage. They hadn’t been to Florida before- so he filled their days with day trips- Jacksonville; Lake Placid; Miami, the Everglades. Disneyworld- two glorious days of sunshine and roller coasters and it was worth every post-hustle beating to see the smiles on their faces.
He thought they’d seen enough darkness, already; took it upon himself to see to it that they saw some light, too. John even agreed- he hadn’t even argued when Bobby had sent them down here. Bobby hadn’t even argued when Dean had brought the Hunt to his attention, simply nodded and agreed to help him out.
The house was a hovel, no doubt about it, but in years to come it would be the place they remembered as being filled with sun and laughter and the feeling of almost being normal during the summertime.
That feeling; that lightness, even drove away the nightmares for a while- even John slept well in Tampa, despite the heat and the hunt and his tiredness.
That’s why, when Faith woke up in the middle of the night and made her way downstairs, trying to be quiet, Dean noticed. He noticed her waking; noticed her slipping out of the room she shared with Sammy and down the stairs. He waited- gave her five minutes- but when she didn’t come back up, he rolled out of his own bed and followed.
“Faith?” Her brother’s voice was pitched low but she could hear him clearly. She had heard him, three minutes earlier, when he crept through the upper floor of the house searching for her.
She heard him, through two floors and her own hands pressed tightly against her ears. Dean found her in the basement- or the tiny space under the shitty house that served as a basement, at least- with her back against the wall and a wild-eyed look that he hadn’t seen in her wear in years. “Faith? What’s up, kiddo? Did you have a bad dream?”
She was fifteen- barely fifteen- and sometimes, she had bad dreams. Hell, Dean was twenty and he had bad dreams sometimes too. He’d even tell her that John had bad dreams, too, but they all knew that John drowned his nightmares in whiskey before they could grab hold of him. It was a coping mechanism that Dean was hoping the younger two wouldn’t pick up. He was pretty sure it was already too late for him.
She nodded, just a jerky movement of her head that didn’t reassure him at all. He said nothing, just threw himself onto the floor next to her and wrapped one arm around her shoulder. He pried her hands away from her ears and held them in his one hand, rubbing circles on the back on her hand in a motion he knew she found soothing. Years of dealing with nightmares had taught him how to handle this.
“Wanna talk about it?” He kept his voice quiet, which she appreciated, even though she knew he was doing it to avoid waking their father. John was upstairs, injured- which meant he would be unendingly grumpy if they woke him, amongst other things. Though at least he’d think twice before attempting the basement stairs with a twisted ankle- small mercies in their favour. Sam, of course, slept like a log regardless. Zombies could attack and the boy wouldn’t wake up unless he was called.
“It was really strange bro. There was a girl and she was covered in dirt- clay, like that witch in Arizona, - and she was… she was savage. Like… prehistoric or something. And she was saying something to me but I didn’t understand a word and then…” Her voice trailed off and she pressed herself into his side, tightening one hand in his shirt. She hadn’t held him that tightly in years and Dean’s concern levels rose.
“And then?” He prompted, brushing his hand across her face, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
“And then I woke up and now… there’s something wrong with me, Dean.” She gazed up at him with terrified eyes. “I can hear the guys in the house next door shooting up. I can hear Dad and Sammy’s hearts beating.” His own heart sped up a little, startled. “And I broke the sink, in the bathroom.” She muttered that last part, but he heard her.
“You did that? I thought Dad got pissed and shot it or something. Wow.” He fell quiet, but didn’t push her away.
“I’ve been trying to remember if there was anything… if anything did this to me… but its been months since I was on a proper hunt.”
“Maybe Dad brought something home with him by accident?” Dean suggested. “How you feeling? You got any hitchhikers in there?” She rolled her eyes. How was she supposed to know that?
“I tested myself with Holy Water- nada.” And he’d pressed against her skin with the silver ring on his finger, just in case, but neither of them mentioned that. She hadn’t reacted, anyway.
“Huh. You want to wake Dad?” A sure sign that he didn’t know what to do- Dean would never wake an injured and tired John if he didn’t have to. She shook her head, slowly.
“No. But I think we should. There’s something wrong, Dean. I shouldn’t be this strong; I shouldn’t be like this.” He just nodded and stood, slowly, pulling her with him as he went.
“I’ll wake Sammy too. Put the coffee on- we’ll need it.”
Twenty minutes later, John Winchester watched his daughter through bleary eyes as she twisted an iron crowbar into a pretzel shape, seemingly without effort. His sons gaped, amazed, but John felt his heart sink. Hadn’t she given enough, already? Had the kid not suffered enough for one lifetime? She was already a Hunter- why would anyone choose her for this, too? The fear in her eyes was real, and the worry in Dean’s was not unexpected. Sam, of course, was almost bouncing in his seat with excitement; the need to research breaking him out of sleep entirely.
“Have I ever told you three about the Slayer?”
His three kids turned to him as one, various expressions of shock and amazement on their faces. Dean looked frightened, though, where the other two looked… excited. The Slayer legends had been a favourite story for Sam since he was a baby and he’d shared that excitement with Faith. The Slayer was humanity’s defender; the bogeyman that the monsters they hunted were afraid of.
They didn’t seem to care that the Slayer, in this case, was fifteen years old and had already been through enough crap to see her comfortably through years of therapy. Dean’s heart sank as John recounted the legends for the two younger ones. There was no way to reverse it; no way to return the so-called gift. Even the fact that Faith would be better able to protect herself, now, wasn’t enough of a comfort. Slayers lived hard and died young- that was just the way it was. They took on the biggest, scariest, meanest hunts and sometimes they didn’t live to tell about it. One fell and another was called- end of story.
Dean would have been happier to learn that she was possessed, or cursed, or carrying a poltergeist under her skin. Anything would be better than learning that she had a date with destiny and the date was prefixed by expiry. Of course, the legends also said that the Slayer fought along, aided sometimes by a Watcher, but generally alone against the darkness.
No kid sister of his was going to face off against the bad and scary on her own, thank you very much. He could understand the logic- keeping civilians out of the field- but he wasn’t a civilian and, even as his dad regaled them with stories of heroes and battles, Dean made a plan to follow his sister wherever her Calling led.
John sent Faith and Sam back to bed- dismissing them with promises that they would research more the next day. He waited until he was certain that Faith was sleeping before turning to Dean and offering the whiskey bottle he pulled from under the sink.
“We need to get to Bobby’s.” The elder man commented. Bobby would have books and research and words to share about what this all meant.
“You ever met a Watcher?” The other half of the Slayer legend- the Watchers. Most Hunters thought that if they were real, they were less than useless. Researchers; voyeurs. Murderers, maybe, if they did send those girls out alone. John just shook his head slowly.
“According to legend, they can track the Slayer somehow. They have spells to trace her with.” They shared a look that spoke volumes.
Tampa, and that pre-summer light-heartedness, was behind them before dawn broke.
Two days hard driving later (fifteen hundred miles and change), with Dean following John’s truck more closely than ever- they pulled into Singer’s Auto Salvage. They hadn’t called ahead; hadn’t given the other Hunter any warning- just pulled up waited for him to brandish his shotgun in annoyance like he always did. True to form, Bobby waved the gun and scowled and cursed and then invited them in for breakfast.
Over coffee, Faith demonstrated her new strength for Bobby’s careful eyes and the man had simply blinked, cursed and disappeared into his library. He returned with a book in one hand and a silver amulet on a leather cord in the other.
“Wear this, kid. No-one will track you when you have that on.” She slipped it over her neck without comment.
For once, the Winchesters sat still and waited- no questions, no complaints- as Bobby did his research. John manned the phones, answering whatever questions he could for other Hunters and impersonating Bobby’s aliases as best he could. Sam and Faith did any extra research the other Hunters needed, and Dean used the time to tune up the Impala and consider his options.
Bobby’s research was worrying- Slayers didn’t live long and they were drawn to the big stuff. World ending stuff. They’d known that; been aware of that, but hearing Bobby say it made it realer. Dean was already prepared to step up his game- his sister wasn’t going to face this shit alone, so he’d need to be ready. His early morning runs stretched from five miles to seven; his drills stretched from one hour to three. He spent more time on the firing range in Bobby’s yard that was probably healthy.
Faith and Sam watched him without comment. They’d been excited. They’d seen being the Slayer as a cool new toy.
Dean and John saw it as another way for the supernatural to take another woman they loved away from them before her time.
They were with Bobby a week when the first Vampire came calling- scenting Slayer blood when Faith cut her hand on scrap metal in the Junkyard. She’d been leaping from car to car at the time, getting used to her new instincts; her new reflexes.
The Winchester men, and Bobby (and honorary member of the family, anyway, even if they didn’t share a name) watched with guns drawn as the predator in Faith came to the fore for the first time. It was over quickly- Faith knew where a person’s heart was; she knew the lore on killing Vampires.
She hadn’t been aware that there were any left; not in the boonies of South Dakota anyway, but she dispatched it easily, with the splintered end of a broom handle.
She’d been training with the boys since she’d joined the family- but no amount of training could account for her grace; her agility; her movements. There was something in her, now, directing her movements.
Dean recognized it as of years of practice; years of mastery. Whatever the previous Slayers had, Faith had it now, too.
She had her first dream that night and woke in the morning to declare that she needed to go to New Orleans.
There was a monster that needed Hunting.
A/N: There will be more added to this over time, hopefully. If anyone has particular scenes/crossovers they’d like to see, message me with prompts. I have dozens of scenes floating around in my head, but I’ll be happy to accommodate prompts where I can. :)