What makes a Hunter
Disclaimer: Don't own SPN or BTVS. Woe is, indeed, me.
A/N: This one is set about six months after Faith joined the Winchesters.
Warning: Possibly triggery for mentions of rape and abduction- nothing graphic, nothing exceeding anything else that's been mentioned in this fic, but warnings are important, I think.
Years later, when he looked back, Dean wondered at the ease with which she slid into their lives. It should have been different, or difficult, for the family to adjust to another pre-teen, but it wasn't. John still hunted, and Dean with him when he really needed back up. Sam and Faith went to school- she was a year behind Sammy and she needed extra help after school to catch up on everything she had missed, but that was easy. Dean looked after them both- got them up in the morning for school or at the weekend for training. He made sure they ate well and that they were always clean, and they knew that he was there, always, to look after them. The transition was relatively smooth- sometimes, she woke in the middle of the night screaming, but Dean or John were always there to hold her until she stopped shaking.
It wasn't easy, but it certainly wasn't hard. Not the way the teenager thought it should have been, anyway.
The first summer she was with them, they spent touring the wilderness of Montana hunting a pack of shifters that had killed three girls before disappearing into the mountains. There were seven of them- all men, all large and brutish.
Dean was a mile away, watching through a rifle scope when he saw them- his Dad was another mile back, similarly kitted out. Sam and Faith were safely hidden away at the motel, watching bad TV and rotting their brain cells. Well, maybe that wasn't fair. If Dean knew his little brother at all, Sam had probably forced their sister into studying. The youngest Winchester was helpless against her brother's desire to learn and she indulged him the same way the rest of the family did. Dean was the one who had to listen to her bitch about it, afterwards.
When he saw the men- John had estimated that there were six or seven of them, though how he had figured that out Dean didn't understand- he didn't hesitate. There were seven of them, and two of them were holding a young blonde girl between them. He had tried to ignore the descriptions of exactly what had been done to the previous victims, but the details reared up regardless and he could taste bile at the back of his throat.
He was loaded with silver, and he was a crack-shot. He didn't hesitate once; seven sharp cracks and seven targets hit with deadly accuracy. They didn't see him; hadn't noticed him approaching. They hadn't stood a chance.
He radioed his Dad and John made his way to the girl as Dean returned to the car. He didn't want to see the girl; he didn't want to see the bodies. He wanted to see his brother and his sister and listen to them tell him stories about whatever it was they had learned or what they'd been watching on TV.
They dropped the girl off at the nearest hospital- she'd hadn't been hurt, thankfully, and she promised not to say a word about what had happened, claiming she'd been lost in the woods for hours, instead.
John was pretty good at convincing people that they wanted to lie for him and Dean wondered if he'd be that good, someday. He doubted it- he wasn't patient enough, with people. Well, with people that weren't his family, anyway. He was as patient as he needed to be with Sam and Faith.
John hadn't said anything while the girl was in the car, but he slid one hand onto his son's shoulder as they walked toward the motel room and offered a gruff 'well done, son'. Dean was pretty sure that the elder man hadn't intended for the words to make him feel ill, but they did.
Inside, the kids threw themselves at the returning Hunters- Faith reaching for him as Sam leapt at John. They'd been reading through John's journal and Sam had managed to convince them both that their motel room was haunted. Dean just rolled his eyes, lifting Faith up and onto his hip- she was still young enough that he could do that, not least because she secretly loved it- and promising them both that the room was clean.
"Would I leave you here with a ghost, hmm?" They had to admit that, no, Dean wouldn't leave them alone and in trouble. John just grinned at it all, ruffling Sammy's hair and ghosting one hand over Faith's head, where it rested on Dean's shoulder. He bumped off his eldest, too, letting the teenager know that he was there for him, too.
John might be dogged, but he wasn't oblivious- his eldest was unhappy and unsettled.
Sometimes, John forgot that normal teenagers don't shoot seven men dead with a sniper's accuracy without blinking. Sometimes, he forgot that his eldest was just sixteen. Sometimes, Dean reacted to things in the normal way- the way John would have, when he was his son's age.
Of course, when John was sixteen, his time was preoccupied with worrying about whether Suzie Danvers would let him touch her boobs.
"Get your stuff together kids- we're going to Bobby's." Sam's face lit up with glee- he loved Bobby's house. Dean grinned too, though it was a shadow of his normal smile. He hugged his sister tight, noting that she didn't seem thrilled, and whispered into her ear that Bobby was sure to love her, too, and that he had two dogs that she and Sam could play with.
He knew her pretty well, all things considered, and she dropped to the ground with a grin and raced away to pack her things.
She hadn't got much- none of them did- but she had her own duffel bag, now, and her own personal handgun. Dean had taught her how to use it and how to care for it. She was a crack shot; almost as good as he had been when he began. Sam had been briefly jealous at the attention, but John had taken him to lunch one afternoon and explained to him what it meant to be a big brother and the boy had swallowed his jealousy in favour of showing Faith where they kept the silver bullets.
The Impala was loaded in record time- the two kids could move pretty quickly when they were given proper motivation- and John tossed Dean the keys to the Impala. He might not have a license in his own name, but he had more than one fake ID that said he could drive and more than one false insurance document saying the same.
He'd get one in his own name when he was seventeen. That was what John had planned, anyway. He might even insist that the boy take the test.
They left the motel just as night was falling and Dean was happy to leave the place behind. On the outskirts of town there were signs of activity- signs of rangers and forest workers gearing up for a search, it seemed. In the distance, Dean imagined he could see the smoke rising still from the burning bodies. But it was imagined- John Winchester would never leave open flame burning in a forest. Dean might, if he had to, but John wouldn't. Not even to track down his teenage year old mass-murdering son. The boy clamped down on the vomit that threatened to rise, pushing one of the old tapes into the tape deck instead and turning up the volume.
For once, John didn't even flinch when the noise reached uncomfortable levels. Sam and Faith didn't complain, absorbed in some ridiculous alphabet game that Dean had introduced them to several weeks before. It was times like this, right in that moment that Dean just wanted to suppress everything and turn the music up so loud that he couldn't even hear himself think, that the teenager was so grateful that they'd found his sister. She gave Sam someone to talk to; something else to be distracted by so that Dean wouldn't have to force a smile onto his face and work out a game to distract him. Not right then, anyway. Not for at least another three hundred miles, maybe.
Faith, as it turned out, loved Bobby. She loved his house, rambling and old and filled with weapons and books and old toys. She loved the junkyard, where Dean took her target shooting and taught her how to rebuild a catalytic convertor.
She loved the fields behind the house, where she played hide and seek with Sam for hours and hours on end even though they were both getting just a little too old for the game. Dean sat and watched them, working his way through an arsenal of weapons that needed cleaning. In return, Bobby loved the little girl, too. Dean was never sure what his father had told the other Hunter- Bobby was smart enough to know that there was no chance in hell that she was actually John Winchester's daughter, for all the man swore she was.
But whatever story Bobby got was enough to mean that every time he saw her, after that first visit, he always had a smile and a hug for the girl, even when the boys got sworn at and cuffed across the head.
That first time Faith met Bobby… it was July and it was almost unbearably hot, and the two youngest Winchesters spent their days in the junkyard, playing at Hunting and practicing their shooting with BB guns and air rifles. They practiced knife throwing, too, but Dean made them swear not to tell John or Bobby about that.
John left them there for almost a full month- coming and going himself on Hunts as they cropped up, but never gone for more than two or three days. Dean knew without being told that this holiday was for him; that his father was waiting for some signal that Dean was alright, that he was fixed or better or something and that as soon as he gave that signal, they'd be packed up and on their way out of state.
Bobby never said anything and John didn't know what to say to his eldest; didn't know how to relate to the boy. They just gave him space and time and hoped it would be enough. Dean… well, Dean didn't know how he was supposed to be feeling. It wasn't the first time he'd killed something that looked human- there had been a Ghoul in Dallas and a part-turned werewolf in Billings and he hadn't hesitated on either of those hunts, either. This had been different. They'd been bad dudes. He knew that- he'd watched them through the rifle scope as they'd begun to play with their latest victim. But there were so many of them. Seven. More years of life than Dean would ever live, just gone with the crack of a rifle. That should make him feel bad, shouldn't it?
He was pretty sure he should feel guilty, or bad, or something but… the truth was that it wasn't their deaths that was preying on his mind; not at all. The ghost of regret that kept him up at night was the first two girls. The first two victims, who'd been hurt in ways that he couldn't even imagine before being ripped to pieces and dumped in the woods like so much trash; he couldn't forget them. Their families, normal, decent people who didn't deserve the tragedy of losing a child like that… they might not ever realize that the monsters who had taken their girls were dead. And how many other victims had there been? The shifters had been traveling together for years, John said.
In the dark, listening to his brother and sister make the soft sounds of sleep, Dean felt that bile again. There could have been dozens of girls, over the years. Girls like Faith, maybe- young and terrified and helpless against men bigger and stronger than them. He bolted from his bed and barely made it to the bathroom before losing his dinner into the toilet. Yeah, he'd saved the last girl, but the sting of losing all the rest settled in his stomach like acid and the hunter resolved right then that he'd never give up. He'd do whatever he had to do to save people. Hunt things.
A/N: Next time we'll get some Hellmouth-y conflict, but I wanted to put this out there first. Hopefully, no-one is disappointed that we've moved backwards again... the muses get what the muses want. :)