What makes it worth the pain
Disclaimer: I don’t own either BTVS or Supernatural. But I do so love playing with them.
A/N: This is set several years before the previous chapter- so Faith hasn’t been Called yet. Apologies if that’s confusing but… meh. This is what the plot bunny wanted. ;)
“Ten bucks says she’s evil.”
Her brother rolled his eyes and laughed.
“You say that every time and when have they ever been evil?” Faith pouted- just a little, because she wasn’t some little bitch- but had to agree. Nine schools in thirteen months and she had yet to win the bet. She swore that, someday, she’d find proof of it. Principals were evil. If Dean had been there, he’d have agreed with her. But Dean wasn’t there, which was ninety percent of their current problem, leaving the youngest two Winchesters sitting outside the Principal’s office waiting for their brother.
He was in the high school down the street but, knowing Dean, he was ditching class and secretary at the high school couldn’t track him down. It would have been funny if Sam’s nose wasn’t bleeding and Faith didn’t have a black eye. The school had standing orders (laid down by John Winchester himself) to contact Dean if either of them got in trouble- he was… working and couldn’t be disturbed.
And if they let the Principal believe that the reason John couldn’t be contacted was because he was a big shot military commander at the nearby air force testing base… well. No-one messed with you when they thought your dad was scary as hell. Except, of course, when they did mess with you because someone, somehow, found out that their dad wasn’t in the military and that made the two new kids fresh meat and fair game. Hence the fighting and waiting for Dean to come fix it all- because he definitely could. Dean was the master of manipulating teachers and this one was a pretty middle aged one, at that. Cake.
Their escape plan hinged on Dean actually turning up, however, and they’d been waiting for thirty minutes already. Some of that time had been spent with the school nurse and some of it with the school counselor- but they both refused to talk about the fight until Dean was there with them. He always kept their stories straight, for one, and he could do the righteous anger bit better than John. Plus, if Dean came and fixed it all and they just got sent back to class then maybe John didn’t need to know what happened. Right?
That possibility was blown when Dean finally made it to the middle school and took one look at the two of them, remorseless and defiant. Faith actually felt her stomach sinking- they’d be running laps, for sure. He took a seat between them and sighed, sounding older than his sixteen (and a bit) years.
“What is the first rule of being unnoticed in school?”
“Don't get caught fighting.” They chorused. Sam, in particular, sounded entirely unrepentant. Faith couldn’t be certain but she thought she saw Dean fighting back a smile.
“Mr. Winchester?” The Principal had seen him approach; watched as the young man checked his brother and sister for injury and she had waited until he sat between them to intrude.
“Yes Ma’am?” He even stood up and offered his hand to shake with a knowing smile- the epitome of respectability, despite the worn denim and heavy boots. Women the country over had fallen for it before and more would, Faith was sure. Dean had a dozen smiles just like it, but he kept his real one for her and Sam. They stood in unison, pressed together a step behind him, shielded by his body, as always.
“Come into my office, all of you. We have some things to discuss.” This woman was tougher than she looked- she didn’t even smile back. Dean didn’t look worried though and the two younger ones took their cues from him, managing to grin at one another despite their injuries and their situation.
They were barely seated in her office when Dean launched an opening attack.
“You want to tell me who did this to my family?” His tone was deadly serious and Faith’s eyes widened, just a little. Sam, next to her, looked alarmed.
Mrs. Higgins, the Principal, was taken aback.
“Listen here young man-“
“Don’t ‘young man’ me, lady. I got called out of class and up here to your school because some little punks thought the new kids would be easy prey. I know my brother and sister- there’s no way they started this.” She was effectively silenced, gaping like a goldfish. Faith had to bite the inside of her mouth to stop her laughter. Sam still looked worried, but his sister knew that Dean had this one handled. Cake.
“The other students insist that they did nothing. They claim that your brother and sister walked up to them and started throwing punches.” Dean said nothing- just raised an eyebrow in a ‘what are you, stupid?’ kind of way. She actually flushed, embarrassed.
“Sammy? What happened?” When their brother spoke to Sam, his voice was filled with patience and a kind of love that even Mrs. Higgins was impressed with.
“Those kids were saying things about Dad and then one of them pushed Faith onto the ground.” Number one mistake was mentioning their dad- a sure fire way onto the Winchester shit-list. Number two mistake was touching Faith when Sam was around to see it. (Number three mistake was touching Faith, period. The girl could handle herself just fine.) “So I pushed the guy that pushed her and then his friend punched me.” And it was downhill from there.
“How many of them were there, Sammy?” The boy actually blushed.
“Just six.” Six against two? Mrs. Higgins blanched. She had only spoken to three other students.
“Do you know all their names?” She interrupted; anger colouring her tone. Faith nodded when Sam just shrugged.
“I do. They’re all in my class, not Sam’s.” That explained Sam’s blush- six boys a year or so younger than him. The kid was embarrassed that one of them got a punch in. The Principal handed Faith a notepad and pen and asked that she write down all the boy’s names. Faith checked with her brother first, waiting for Dean’s nod before quickly scribbling the list.
“Is that all, Mrs. Higgins? Can I take these kids home and get them cleaned up now?” If she hadn’t been so off-balance, she would have insisted that they stay and answer more of her questions. But she was off-balance; caught unawares by the self-possessed sixteen year old in her office and by the two younger ones who had, it seemed, beaten up six attackers with only a bloody nose and a black eye to show for it. She definitely had more questions, she was sure of it. She just couldn’t remember what any of them were.
“I will expect them to be back in school in the morning. And they have detention tomorrow for their part in the fighting.” Dean looked as though he wanted to argue the point but he accepted it with a slight nod before ushering the two brunettes out the door in front of him.
They were in the backseat of the Impala before Dean spoke a word.
“So. Fighting in school? Catching the attention of the only people stupid enough to not realize you’d kick their asses for thinking about it?” He glanced over his shoulder at them, smirking. “I have taught you well, young grasshoppers. So… Denny’s or Dairy Queen? I think this deserves to be celebrated.” Before their grins could widen too much, he reeled them back in with a muttered, “And after that, we can start the line sprints.”
The lecture came when they were sitting in the DQ, ice-cream melting slowly on the table in front of them. There was talk of staying under the radar and of making sure they were safe in school, and of how trouble could bring the wrong kind of attention onto the family. They were promised pain and torment if they got into another fight in school, but underneath his words Dean was fighting back a grin and he couldn’t hide the pride in his voice. He was proud of them- for sticking up for one another; for standing up for themselves; for being family. Faith had been with them for just over a year and he worried, sometimes, that Sam would snap one day and reject her- like a body rejecting a donated kidney, or something, when Dean was pretty sure that he needed that kidney.
He let them eat their ice-cream, finally, and just sat and watched them together. Two dark heads of hair, both dressed in jeans and flannel shirts over worn tees. They were the same height, even, and though Faith’s eyes were dark where Sam’s were bright, they really could have been twins. If Dean didn’t know better, he’d have sworn that Faith had always been with them. They even ate with the same precise bites- something Dean knew Faith had picked up from Sam, just as Sam had picked up her mannerisms, too. Sam worried less, with Faith around; with someone else to worry with him, maybe.
“Come on, brats.” He ushered them out of the restaurant, careful to follow close behind them. “What kind of punishment should we start with? Five miles?” They both groaned- they’d already done three miles before school, pounding the pavement behind their brother as always. Their groans were like music to his ears, though. He knew they hated running. Sam would prefer to research something and Faith would prefer to shoot things. It was the one aspect of their training that he knew they both hated.
Dean didn’t mind the miles. There was something nice about being able to run without having to run away from something. Peaceful.
He took them home and they changed to trainers and sweats, weapons strapped to arms and legs and knowledge of pain to come written across their faces.
Their brother allowed himself a slight grin and the only warning they got was a swift, “Keep up” before Dean disappeared; setting a blistering pace.
They ran for a long time, that night, following Dean as he wove his way around the town, making a game of what was supposed to be a punishment. The two younger ones chased as Dean led; trying to catch him, or anticipate his next move; his next turn. It was unspoken, unacknowledged joy and pride and at the end of the evening they could return home and tell John Winchester that they’d been punished for fighting in school.
Dean could say it with a straight face; no word of a lie. They’d run for miles, after all, and returned home exhausted and shaking and ready to collapse. John was waiting, when they did eventually return, with dinner on the table and a wary grin. The note that Dean had left him was gone from the fridge, replaced with newspaper clippings from a town thirty minutes away.
“Have you two learned your lesson?” His voice was intentionally harsh, watching as all three forced serious expressions onto their faces, Sam and Faith answering with a crisp, ‘Yes, sir.’
“Good. Get washed up and we’ll eat.” Sam and Faith trooped away too exhausted to fight over the bathroom for once. Dean lingered in the tiny kitchenette, watching his father move carefully around the room.
John made a face at his eldest and waved off the concerned hands that were checking his ribs, regardless of wrapping. “Go wash up and we’ll eat together for once.”
He was home, he was mostly unhurt and the kids weren’t suspended from school. John was counting this one as a win.
Dean nodded once, but didn’t follow his siblings- Faith was in the bathroom first and Sam had retrieved his book bag and seemed to be starting his homework. The big nerd.
“Is that our next case?” He gestured to the clippings on the fridge and the notepad on the counter next to it. The next step would be to remove the old data, stuck to the walls with tape, and transcribe the details to the battered leather-bound journal that John carried everywhere. Then the next Hunt would make it to the walls; taped in place by Sam or Faith and poured over by all of them in turns. Sammy was getting really good at research and Faith could see patterns in attacks that even John sometimes missed.
They were a good team.
“Yeah- Four disappearances in the last two years. Bobby sent it on.” If Bobby sent it, then there was almost certainly a Hunt. Dean hadn’t known the man to be wrong yet.
“We moving?” If they were, he wouldn’t have to apologize to the kid’s Principal for acting like a dick. But John shook his head; no.
“We’re good. This one is just an hour away.” Dean nodded once and John caught sight of a tiny smile cross his son’s face, just as the boy turned to the bathroom with a grin, where the door was just opening.
Dean made it to the bathroom before his brother, hustling Faith into Sam’s path to impede the younger boy’s progress and sticking his tongue out at the boy in a rare display of immaturity. Sam, of course, started yelling and threatening to pick the lock; Faith was laughing and offered suggestions for suitable revenge. John watched them with a grin on his face- his day had been shit; he was stiff and sore from digging graves and getting tossed around a rank basement, but coming home to this? Made it worth it.