What makes a change of heart
Disclaimer: Don't own things, etc.
A/N: Massive thank-yous to everyone reading, and to the reviewers also. I really appreciate the feedback and the comments! :)
He almost couldn't believe his luck as Dana climbed into the backseat of the Impala, listening intently when he told her to keep her head down and to stay covered up by the nurse's coat. She did what she was asked without question, without comment, even, and Dean sat into the driver's seat, confident that she wouldn't be spotted. The guard at the gate waved them through and they drove straight out, past the Watchers in their rental and any prying eyes that might have been watching.
"You can sit up now." She shot up so quickly that, if she hadn't been a Slayer, Dean was sure she would have hurt herself. "If you want, you can come up front?" She'd probably been twelve the last time she was driven somewhere with someone, so he understood why her eyes lit up. He hadn't expected her to simply clamber over the seat- more gracefully than anyone should be able to manage, by right. "Seat belt on, okay?" He went without, sometimes, but Dana rolled her and snapped the belt shut. "I need to make a stop and then we need to leave town. As soon as the alarm sounds, there's gonna be people looking for you." For us, he thought, shaking away the tension. Watchers, he could handle. Cops, though, that would be new. Manhunt levels of new.
He pulled up outside Lorne's club and parked.
"Stay right here, okay? Don't talk to anyone and don't get out of the car." He'd heard the same words a thousand times when he was a kid- so much so that he had to bite his lip to stop himself from adding the familiar, 'Look after your brother and sister'. Dana wasn't looking at him anyway, so she didn't notice, but she nodded and Dean had to take that as agreement. She was staring out the window at the sky and he wondered how long it had been since she'd seen the stars. Or the sky, even. Hell, it could be years since she'd been out in the open air.
There was gonna be a lot of shit to deal with, for Dana. He could only hope that she could help him out with Faith and then he'd be able to figure out what to do with her. She wasn't Faith and she wasn't Angel- she needed things that he couldn't give her, because he didn't even know where to start, and he knew that. No matter what she said or did, he wasn't her brother and he couldn't just keep her.
Hell, she wasn't something he could even decide to keep- she wasn't a friggin' puppy. He scowled, annoyed with himself, and slammed the driver's door shut.
The door to Caritas had been opened again. Not busted, which was good, because Dean hadn't got the cash to replace the door for Lorne. They heard him coming, obviously, and Angel was waiting for him at the foot of the stairs. He didn't look happy, exactly. It was hard to tell, anyway, because Angel only had three facial expressions, as far as Dean could tell and they were all variations on a theme.
"What the hell did you do?" The vampire growled, but Dean was so used to the John Winchester method of showing concern that he recognized it for what it was.
"Relax, dude, everything's fine. Well, not everything, exactly, because I gotta blow town, but I got the girl out of the crazy house and just in time, too. The Watchers were getting ready to make their move." They must've been, so that wasn't a lie. "I left her in the car. I figure it's too much to ask her to meet you three, her first night out."
"Not that! I knew about that- Doyle had a vision." Angel glanced behind him and Dean finally saw the short Irishman, sitting with his head in his hands.
"He okay? He looks rough." The vampire growled and Dean almost smiled. It was so easy, sometimes, to mess with men like him. Vampires. Whatever.
"He'll be fine. But he saw something-" Lorne was trying for conciliatory, but Dean could tell that the green demon was annoyed too. Well, they had reason. But so did he, dammit, because he was a grown-ass man and they'd been talking over his head as if he was a child.
"You and the new Slayer, being followed by the Watchers." Dean shook his head, starting to deny it, when he heard a scream from outside. Angel was quicker than him, using vampire speed to get to the door faster than the Hunter could. It was lucky, too, because the vampire was shot at, the second he crossed the threshold. There was no violence allowed in Caritas, according to Lorne- but the sidewalk outside was fair game.
Dean dragged the vampire back inside.
"You hit?" Behind them, Lorne and Doyle hovered, nervous.
"I'm fine. The Slayer's still in your car- they're trying to get her out. The third is the one shooting." He'd told her to stay in the car, so she was staying in the car. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
Please don't let them kill her in the car. He thought. He didn't know her well, but he really didn't want to be the reason she got killed by Council goons.
He was out the door, gun drawn, before even Angel could stop him. He'd gotten cocky, assuming that he wasn't followed and that the sigil would be enough to protect the Slayer, but maybe they'd been following him this whole time. Maybe they knew exactly who he was. Either way, they'd been following him and he hadn't caught the tail; too concerned with the girl in the passenger seat to watch closely for anyone tailing him. He should have known better.
His dad would have his head for this. If Dean survived long enough to tell him about it.
The element of surprise let him get a shot off before the Council's gunman and Dean ducked for cover at the tail-end of someone's ugly-ass Toyota. He hoped it wasn't Lorne's, because he kinda liked the guy. Then again, if he got it destroyed in a gunfight, that'd be an upside to the whole 'gunfight' thing.
Carefully, he crept along the road-side of the Toyota, keeping close to the ground. Two of the Watchers were shooting now- one on him and one on the doorway to Caritas, Dean thought, tracking the sounds of gunfire.
He didn't really want to kill anyone, but the Council guys weren't on the same page. Dean wasn't too worried, though. He figured Angel would knock them out as soon as they got within arm's reach. He reached the front of the car and almost cursed aloud- he could see straight into the Impala, to where Dana was curled in the driver's seat, kicking out at the Watcher who was reaching through the passenger side.
She seemed to be okay- except for the screaming- and the guy who was trying to drag her out had a broken nose and blood all over his face and shirt. Girl got him good.
They wouldn't hurt her, he thought. She was the Slayer and they needed her, and part of him even knew that they were trying to protect her from the complete and total stranger who had, seemingly, kidnapped her from the institution where, by rights, she probably still needed to be.
They'd better not fucking hurt her.
"Listen, I think you guys have the wrong idea here." In response, the wing-mirror less than a foot from his face was clipped with a bullet. "I'm not going to hurt her. I need her help." The barrage of gunshots stalled, just a fraction, and Dean saw Dana still, too, and turn to glare at him out the window. He smiled weakly, waving at her.
"Why should we believe you?" Whoever was holding cover on the doorway spoke up, loud and clear. If this didn't work, then at least Angel might get a chance to grab the guy.
"I'm not the one trying to drag an unwilling teenage girl out of a car."
He really did have a point. There was no way they couldn't admit that.
"She's a Slayer, mate, so the normal rules don't apply."
"She's a Slayer who was in a mental hospital until an hour ago! The normal rules don't apply because you shouldn't be fucking touching her at all." He actually heard nose-bleed guy take a step backward. An embarrassed shuffle, maybe.
"We're with the Watchers Council- she's a Slayer. If you know anything about Slayers at all, you know that means we're on her side." This was the guy with his gun trained on him, Dean thought. The third guy, wearing nerdy glasses and an honest-to-god tweed jacket, kept his weapon aimed at the club. It must be loaded with blessed iron because there had to be a reason that Angel hadn't just burst out the door, fist flying and fangs out.
Before he could decide what to do, or what to say, next, nosebleed-guy and the leader guy resumed their efforts at the Impala and Dana yelled again, sounding pained. She couldn't find the leverage to get them off her and she wouldn't get out of the car. Dean cursed, calling out that the Watchers were sacks of cowardly shit for picking on a kid. He had to take a leap of faith, here, and hope for the best. Wasn't that being a Winchester, anyway? Jumping in head-first, fingers crossed?
"Dana, come here!" She was out the driver's door and by his side in seconds, face red and eyes wild. "I'm sorry, kid, I shouldn't have told you not to move." He moved her behind him and whispered that if the shooting started again that she was to run and hide and protect herself from anyone who tried to hurt her. She'd done a good job, keeping the watchers away without hurting anyone, but god… she might need to hurt someone someday. He'd have to learn to be more specific, just in case.
Not that he'd need to for long, or anything. Because he wasn't keeping her.
"Let the girl go! There's nothing you can do to help her and we won't stop until we get her back."
"Back? You never had her. Unless you were the ones who kept her in that hell-hole for six years?"
The eerie silence was enough to tell Dean that, yeah, they'd left her there. Jesus. He hadn't expected that. Bastards.
"Reggie? That's not true, is it?" The tweedy one sounded properly appalled and Dean mentally gave that guy some extra points for letting his humanity show.
"Pryce, don't be an idiot." Through the car window, Dean could see Pryce lower his guns and stare, incredulous, at his colleagues. For a nerdy guy, he was a decent shot- now that no-one was shooting at him, Dean could see in the doorway of Caritas, and Angel was glowering. Glowering, and his shirt was covered in blood. Dean kinda hoped it was Angel's, because he was sure that nothing short of decapitation would keep Angel down for long, but he couldn't say the same for the other two.
"She's sixteen years old, for crying out loud!"
"She's unstable, and an unstable Slayer is a danger to everyone." Reggie sounded defensive, not apologetic, and Pryce was about as impressed by that as Dean.
"So you were going to do what, exactly? Just kill her?" Beside him, Dana tensed and Dean spared her a glance. She was breathing hard and there was something in her eyes that he'd seen in Faith a time or two- the Slayer was in the ascendency and she didn't like the idea of being put down like a dog. He wasn't sure what to do with that. What could he do? Hell, what would he do if she were Faith?
Honestly, he'd probably point her at them and let her go, but Dana wasn't Faith and he couldn't be sure what would happen.
"We can't hurt them, kid, they're human." She glared at him, the Slayer murderous, but nodded sharply. Her breathing evened out, just a little, and she seemed to relax. "They're not taking you away, okay? I swear kid I am never, ever, going to let anyone hurt you like that again."
He watched as her expression changed; fury exchanged for a small smile and the tension drained from her forehead. The smile even reached her eyes and he thought he saw Dana and not the Slayer for the first time. She nodded, still smiling, and ducked her head in a move that he would have called shy on anyone else.
"Dana remember." Uh… she remembered what, now? He didn't have time to wonder what it meant- there was still a standoff going on, after all, and he was starting to stiffen up, crouched as he was.
"I'll have no part in this, Reginald. No part at all." Pryce stepped away from the door and placed his weapons on the ground. "I don't know who this young man is but I have to believe that he, at least, isn't going to kill the girl."
Reggie snarled angrily and turned his own weapon to Pryce.
"You're making a mistake, Wesley. If you do this, the Council will have no choice but to let you go. You're either with us, or you're not. Don't do this!" They must have been friends once, Dean thought, even as Pryce shook his head and took another step away. He'd almost reached the end of the Toyota- in a few more steps, he'd have a clear view of Dana and Dean and the Hunter couldn't help but wonder at that. The guy had laid down his weapons, sure, but any real Hunter would always have a back-up.
Call him paranoid, but he trusted the guy about as much as he trusted any Watcher. Sure, Pryce hadn't been one of the guys who beat the crap out of him, but not being involved in one beating did not a pattern of behaviour make.
Reggie, he was pretty sure, had been there that night. And lurky, the third guy, too. He couldn't be completely sure, though, because he'd been in considerable pain at the time.
He wondered if they even recognised him but figured not. They had no reason to believe that he'd been anything more than a scumbag when they'd first met and Faith was dead, as far as they knew.
The two Englishmen continued to argue, shouting back and forth about loyalty and doing the right thing and Dean eventually decided that he'd just have to do something himself- their attention was on one another, and he could use that, right?
It was easy, in the end. Reggie and Lurky were distracted and Dean simply crawled from the Toyota's side to the Impala, around the front of his beloved car and came up on them from behind. A few well placed punches later and there were two unconscious Watchers on the sidewalk and he'd only been a little bruised.
Dana was quick to come to his side, resting her fingers gently on his arm. He mostly ignored her, because he really wasn't sure what else he should do, though he was careful to tug her forward with him when he moved toward the last standing Watcher.
Angel and Doyle were standing in the doorway, eyeing Dana nervously. She stared back, but she didn't move to attack anyone, so Dean said nothing.
"I think this is the part where I skip town." Next time, he wouldn't be so lucky- someone must be watching out for him, like Doyle had said. Whatever they wanted him for could wait, because he had to get the Slayer out of L.A. before he could even start thinking about that shit. "What're you gonna do, Pryce?" The man looked a little shell-shocked; like he couldn't believe what he'd done. Hell, Dean could hardly believe it.
"I shall return to London directly and lodge an official complaint. This kind of savagery is what I've come to expect from our enemies, but not from the Council itself. It is most worrying." God, the guy could use some serious stick-removal. Dean was relieved, though, because the last thing he needed was a Watcher roaming the lower forty-eight, poking his nose where it wasn't welcomed.
For once, he kept his tongue in check- watchers, man. Who wanted their attention?
"I don't suppose you'd agree to allow the Slayer to accompany me?"
"Dana not go." Dean grinned and looked down at the top of her head where it rested on his shoulder. "Dana good. Dana smart. Dana need to find her faith." Something about the way she said that… faith, or Faith? Dean resisted the urge to ask, though he saw that Angel reacted, too.
"I apologise, Dana. I should have addressed you directly." Pryce took a deep breath and his gaze moved past the Slayer to the two men on the ground. "If I could ask your aid for a moment, gentlemen, I'll be happy to remove my colleagues from the scene before local law enforcement arrive." Angel and Doyle nodded slowly, obviously reluctant- Pryce must not know that they weren't, ya know, completely human. Right? "I must admit, I'm rather surprised that I didn't hit you earlier. My aim is normally quite good." Or maybe not. The only evidence of injury on Angel was a scrape across his forehead, though Dean suspected he'd taken a body-shot or two, also. In any case, the head wound accounted for the blood on his shirt, because everyone knows that head wounds bleed like crazy.
Dean let them work, watching as the two demons lifted the men into the backseat of their rental car. Shortly afterward, Pryce retrieved his weapons and climbed into the driver's seat.
"That went well, I think." Doyle said, clapping his hands together and grinning. Dean stared at him, wondering suddenly if it was just Doyle or if all seers were crazy. "Hey, in my vision, we all died in a hail of gunfire- be glad I was able to stop Angel here from vamping out and joining the fray or we'd be dead right now."
On second thought, having a seer would be kinda handy. John and Bobby would never get past the 'demon' bit, though.
"Thank you, for that." Dean even meant it- he didn't want to explain to his father how he got himself killed by watchers after he'd sworn to stay away from them. Especially when it was his fault they'd followed him in the first place.
"We've gotta get on the road. You all set?" Dana had returned to the car as soon as Pryce drove off- she was curled in the passenger seat, poking the buttons on the radio, even though the car was off and the radio wasn't powered on. Angel shifted on his feet, uncomfortable.
"I think I'm going to stay here for a while, in L.A. I need to find my own place in the world again." Pretty profound, for a guy who hadn't been able to form full sentences until a couple hours previously. "Doyle's giving me a place to stay for a few days, until I find somewhere."
Dean just nodded, letting the choked feeling in his throat die off before speaking.
"That's cool, man. You know how to get in touch if you need us. Don't be a stranger, okay?" He'd miss the guy- he'd actually gotten used to having him around.
It'd be nice to be able to clean the paint off the windows in the car, though, and he supposed that a crazy Slayer and a near-crazy vampire in the same car was probably asking a bit much of both of them.
Angel nodded and stuck out his hand, awkwardly; as if he wasn't sure what he should be doing. Doyle, watching them, groaned loudly.
"God save us from macho men- give him a hug for Christ's sake!" Which 'him' he meant was unclear, but Angel did as he was told regardless, reaching forward and pulling Dean into a solid, back-thumping, embrace.
"I can't ever thank you enough for what you've done for me. If you ever need anything, I'm there. No questions." The vampire spoke quietly, so only Dean could hear, and the Hunter blushed.
"It was nothing, man. You take care of yourself, okay?" They separated and Dean was embarrassed to note that his voice was thick and he was actually fucking blushing. Like he'd never got a compliment before or something. "Take care of my boy, Doyle, or I know who to come looking for." Dean grinned, shaking off a wave of sadness, and shook the half-demons hand. "Tell Lorne that I'm sorry for getting his place involved in a shootout." The other seer had disappeared inside before the watcher could get a good look at him- safer for all concerned.
He took a breath, about to say something he'd probably regret later, when the sound of sirens cut through the night air.
"That's my cue. See ya, boys."