What makes a Rogue
Disclaimer: Don't own BTVS; Don't own SPN.
A/N: This one is set *after* chapter three and before chapter five, so... what *did* happen with the Watchers? :)
Dean slept away the entire journey to South Dakota, worrying John intensely- he'd claimed to be fine; a little bruised, a little battered, but not broken. His father, after watching his eldest sleep for what felt like forever, vowed to check the boy over a little more closely when they reached Bobby's. Sam and Faith had arrived there more than twelve hours before and were safely hidden behind Bobby's wards and amulets. John wasn't worried about them in the least. They were hidden behind Bobby's shotguns and his willingness to shoot first and ask questions at the inquest, too.
He was worried about Dean. Dean, who threw himself to the wolves to prevent the Watchers council from catching so much as a glimpse of his sister; Dean, who was turning an alarming shade of purple as the hours passed, bruises blooming under his skin indicating a beating more severe than he'd admitted to.
John had arrived too late to do anything more than clean up the blood and apply ice to the bruises and he could feel the anger roiling in his stomach as he watched his boy sleeping. His boy, Mary's boy- because Dean was so much of what he'd always loved about Mary- and they'd hurt him. Not fatally, no, and he was sure Dean gave 'em hell in return, but there had been three fully grown men on one twenty year old kid and that just wasn't kosher.
The desire to rip them apart with his bare hands grew stronger with every mile, so much that his knuckles were itchy. He'd find a way. Four English tourists wandering in the backwoods of Illinois wouldn't be difficult to find. He allowed himself a small grin at the prospect; hell, he could make a trip of it and let Bobby come, too.
Dean finally woke up as they were pulling into Singer Auto Salvage, seeming to sense that they were almost home. Or as close as the Winchesters got to home, anyway.
He was awake and alert and climbed out of the truck on his own; there was no pain on his face, though John was pretty sure that he had plenty of it. He walked gingerly, like he was carrying bruised, if not broken, ribs and John swallowed the concern that was welling up. It was late- he could send the kids to bed and then man-handle answers out of his son.
Faith and Sam were out the front door and across the yard and at Dean's side before John even got out of the truck- they were asking questions and jabbering and questioning the bruises that marked their brother's face. Maybe they wouldn't be so easy to send to bed, after all.
"I'm fine, I swear. They're just bruises- I got hurt worse last month with that Polgara and you two didn't fuss like old women then, did you?" They sighed in unison, not believing him but knowing that they'd get nowhere. He could see the worry in Sam's eyes and the anger in Faith's- his kids were open books, sometimes- when it came to each other, anyway.
It took two hours to convince the younger two that it was safe to leave Dean alone; it took that long to convince them that the Council weren't going to swoop in and kidnap their brother out from under their noses. As if John Winchester wouldn't have seen a tail if there had been one- he'd spent three hundred miles checking, and there wasn't. And if there was a magical talisman or something thrown into Dean's stuff, the hex bag that John had in the truck would have destroyed its signal. He might not be fond of witches, but some of the stuff they did was damn useful.
He waited a full fifteen minutes after the kids had retreated upstairs to pull Dean into the kitchen, plonk him on a stool and give him the once-over. As suspected, there was some really nasty bruising on the boy's ribs and chest and a few knife-marks that were already scabbing over- shallow and painful, but not dangerous.
He had an assortment of bruises on his back and shoulders, too, but nothing was broken and nothing was sprained which John was grateful for. Bobby insisted on applying an arnica and aloe paste to the boy's chest, regardless of Dean's complaining, and the stench made the elder Winchester gag- though he did his best to keep that from Dean's notice. And Bobby's, because God knows the man would hold that over him for years.
None of them heard Faith creep down the stairs; none of them heard her quiet gasp when she saw the bruises marring her brother's chest. They didn't see the anger in her eyes as she listened to Dean recite his encounter with the Watchers.
She watched as her father tended his wounds; watched as Uncle Bobby dosed him with painkillers and whiskey and they put him to bed on the cot in the living room. She watched them share the rest of the bottle and crept back to her room when John went to check on her and Sam; taking his time to tuck them both in and press kisses to their foreheads. She couldn't know if he'd done that before; she'd never woken, if he had. It felt nice; safe.
When John and Bobby finally slept, she rose; watching her eldest brother sleep, his breathing hitching sometimes as he moved, hurting himself in his sleep, bruises aching as he lay on them.
Somewhere deep inside, the part of Faith that remembered what it was like to not be a Winchester; the part of her that had been beaten and battered more times than she liked to remember… that part of her ached for her brother; ached for herself, punished without deserving any punishment.
It was that part of her that learned to hate; it was that piece of her that was fiercely protective of the boy who'd saved her. It was that piece of her- the scared, hurt, child- that needed the Slayer.
And the Slayer was going to rip body parts off whoever touched him. She could almost hear their screams already and it made her smile.
Toward dawn she drifted off, resting on the sofa opposite the cot, ready to wake at a moment's notice if he needed her; needed anything.
Sam found her first and woke her, confused. Faced with her brother's curious eyes, she could only tell the truth; she had no secrets from Sam. No secrets from any of them, really, but Sam knew everything- every dream and every plan she ever made for her life. She knew his, in return, and she couldn't lie to him- not about Dean. Not about this.
It was full morning by the time Bobby and John emerged, hung-over but rested. Dean was already awake, being coddled to death, it seemed.
Faith and Sam's glares were filled with accusation when they landed on him, but John just shrugged and said he hadn't wanted them to worry; that Dean didn't want them to worry. It was the truth and they knew it- they had a lifetimes worth of evidence to show that this was the regular modus operandi for the eldest Winchesters.
"That's not good enough, Dad. Those fuckers could have killed him and you know it." Dean tried to protest but Faith's glare was enough to make him back down- he knew it was the truth, too. He couldn't deny it. Hell, he'd been willing, if that had been the price of getting Faith and Sam away from them.
"I know, Faith. I know." He sounded… old, for the first time that she could remember. "What could he have done differently? What other choice do we have?"
She growled, spinning and pacing an angry line in front of the fireplace.
"We could give them what they want." She suggested, but he knew her too well- he could see her plan written across her face. It was the same one he had, but all the more frightening because she was only fifteen.
"You know that's not the answer, kiddo. They'd come after us, all guns blazing if we so much as rough 'em up." That's what Dean had realized, the second he realized she'd been found. "But… we might be able to convince them to leave you alone if they know you're doing the Slayer's job, already." That had been Bobby's suggestion- go to them, tell them she was doing just fine without a Watcher, and disappear again, hopefully without revealing anyone's identity and making any more enemies for the Winchester family.
Sometimes, reason worked where force failed. And if reason didn't work, they always had force to fall back on- it made sense to John, even though every cell of his being cried out for revenge. He really, really, wanted to break some faces.
It was Dean, who refused to let him do it; who swore he'd never forgive him if he brought the full wrath of the Watcher's Council down on the Hunters for the sake of petty revenge. The family already had one vendetta- finding Mary Winchester's killer. They didn't need a second.
"So, what? Dad lies in wait somewhere and delivers a message?" She kept her tone purposely neutral. "Or maybe we could send up smoke signals? A carrier pigeon?" But her skepticism wasn't difficult to discern, regardless.
When they fell silent, she aimed a frustrated kick at the fireplace surround, wincing when the brickwork cracked and Bobby made a face at her. Bitchface, Dean called it, though Bobby wasn't nearly as good at it as Sam.
"It can't be dad. They'll only listen to Faith; she's the Slayer, not any of us." Sam couldn't meet her eyes as he spoke and she could understand that- he was afraid; terrified, maybe, that these creeps would take his family away. They'd hurt Dean, sure, but they hadn't done any permanent damage. They'd hurt him just because they could and that kind of violence was unacceptable in the Hunter world.
It was the idea of permanent damage that worried Sam. Faith was cool with pretending they were all invincible, instead. They'd seen too much and done too much to be bested by a bunch of stuffy humans, surely.
"And we're not letting Faith anywhere near them." John's words were final; there was no arguing with the Winchester patriarch when he made up his mind about something. "We'll figure out something, I swear. This won't happen again." Even Sam, who questioned their father more than any of them, believed the certainty in his tone. "We'll rest up here for a while and we'll make a plan. You two- leave your brother alone. Dean, go back to sleep."
The stayed for six days, just long enough for Dean to stop walking like an old man. Bobby watched as the Impala drove out of his yard, Faith in the passenger seat. The Slayer had always loved to travel with Dean; loved to listen to him singing along or teasing Sammy. She travelled with him now because she was afraid to let him out of her sight; afraid that the Council would return and take him away. Sam had agreed to drive with John- she'd had to beg, almost, to get shotgun in the Impala and no way was he going to curl his long legs into the backseat of the car.
Their next hunt was Wisconsin, where John had a line on a vengeful spirit or two. Faith had dreamed of fire and altars and they'd be chasing down a ritual sacrifice, too, as soon as she could get a name on the town- but it was north Wisconsin. She could feel it in her bones; always knew when they were heading the direction of something big and ugly that needed smashing.
They drove in silence, more or less, for several hours; before Dean finally snapped and heaved an 'I'm so put upon' sigh.
"Stop staring kid or I swear I'll leave you at the next stop." She hadn't been staring. She just been watching him and she told him as much. He just glared.
"I'm not going to disappear, you know? It'll take more than three dudes with diaries to get rid of me." He'd go on to prove that, over and again, in the coming years but Faith couldn't have known that.
"I thought they'd killed you." She wasn't even aware of her tears until they dripped from her chin onto her hands. There had been hours and hours between leaving him in that motel and finally hearing from Dad that he was alive and mostly okay. She couldn't remember ever being so scared- she'd been scared before, for herself, but she'd never really had to be scared for Dean. She was the Slayer, sure, but he was her big brother and he'd always been strong and brave and in-freaking-vincible.
He didn't know what to say to that. What could he say?
"I'm glad they didn't." She sniffled, once, and he took one hand off the steering wheel and reached out for hers.
"Me too, sweets. Me too."