What makes a Family
Disclaimer: I don't own either SPN or BTVS. *Tears for me*
A/N: This ficlet just wouldn't get out of my head until I wrote it down. There will possibly be other chapters added over time, but this won't be a full-length fic, methinks. Hopefully, you'll enjoy it anyway. :)
Dean was fifteen when he first met her- a tiny, scared ten year old, glaring fiercely at him from inside the storage cupboard in the dirty apartment. John had sent him to find her- the vengeful spirit that had killed her mother the previous evening could return for the child.
They hadn't even known she existed, until the spirit had mentioned her by name- Faith. At first, the mentions of Faith had been confusing, until Dean had realized the skeevy old woman ghost was talking about a person and not, like, religion or whatever.
There had been no sign of her in the apartment when the police had investigated; no sign of her when the Winchesters had broken in. None of the neighbors had mentioned the child.
He was only fifteen, but his heart clenched when he finally found her, hiding in the dark storage room, clinging to herself. Her eyes were huge in her face, and Dean was certain he had never seen a hungrier looking child. They may have had no home and no money, but Dean never let his brother go hungry, and Sam wasn't much older than this kid.
He dropped to his knees in the doorway, not taking his eyes from her face. Her gaze was guarded; wary and afraid.
"Hey kid. My name is Dean. You're Faith, right?" She nodded once, unblinking. "Were you here when your Mom died?" She nodded again, a brief glimpse of something flashing through her eyes faster than he could quantify it. "Were you scared?"
He'd expected her to nod, but she shook her head slowly. She must have understood his confusion, because whatever showed on his face prompted her to speak.
"Gamma was here. She hurt Mom, but she promised she wouldn't hurt me." Her voice was tight and rough from disuse. She shifted a little in her seat on the floor and Dean caught sight of the yellowing bruises on her bare arms, and the dried blood on her neck and he understood, suddenly, the motivations of the vengeful Grandmother that his Dad was currently digging up.
"Gamma took care of you?" The spirit was sixty years dead- too long dead by far to have been the child's actual Grandmother. But he'd heard weirder than Supernatural protectors for innocent, abused, kids. She just nodded again.
"Gamma told me you were here. She told me I had to find Faith." He'd thought she was a religious nutjob- not a stretch, really- but as soon as he had promised to find Faith, she had stopped throwing his dad around the cemetery, and he'd rushed right back to the scene of the murder. Is it still murder if it's to protect a tiny child from an abusive parent? "So, what say you come out of there and we'll get your things together and get out of here?" He kept his voice low and calm and forced a smile onto his face. She smiled, just a tiny little grin that lit up her whole face, and crawled out of the darkened closet, dragging a battered backpack with her.
"I got my things here." On the second try, her voice was stronger.
By the time he got back to the motel, his heart was in his stomach. No-one had tried to stop him from taking her- none of the neighbors even met his eyes as he led her out of the building and no-one stopped him from putting her into the passenger seat of the Impala and driving her back to his motel room. It made him sick to think that the child was so unknown; so unloved, that even her own neighbors didn't know her, or worse, didn't care.
He pushed her into the bathroom and told her to shower, showing her the soap and shampoo and offering one of his tee shirts (it was even clean) and a pair of Sammy's old pajama bottoms to wear instead of the smelly, dirty clothes she was wearing. He doubted that anything he'd find in the backpack would be in any better condition.
She locked herself into the bathroom and he busied himself with the stove. She was starving and Sam would be home from school soon. John, too, would be back shortly, assuming that the crazy old lady ghost had kept her word. He didn't have space in his brain to worry about his dad, though. His thoughts were all locked up with the tiny child in the bathroom.
She emerged clean and smelling of generic, cheap shampoo. Clean and sitting at the small table inhaling mac and cheese, she was starting to look a lot like Sam- wide eyes, dark hair and a tiny, slight frame. The comparison was not helpful for Dean.
They didn't talk much- he fed her, she watched him as he cleaned up the room, sorting dirty laundry and washing dishes. When she had eaten her fill, she began to move awkwardly around the room but he forced himself to not watch her- like trying to train a wild animal, almost, to trust him, he made no sudden movements and just hummed to himself as he worked around her.
When she finally settled, it was on one of the two beds. She perched on the edge and kept her gaze on the floor, staring at the old (but clean) carpet.
He almost leapt out of his skin when she spoke.
"What do you want me to do?" She was glancing between him and the bed at her back, and he fought the urge to vomit when he realized what she meant. His fists clenched and he had to turn his back on her to hide the horror in his expression. It took him a moment to gather himself; deep breaths and a lifetime of practice shoving the horror and the pain into the back of his mind. He dropped to her feet, sitting Indian-style on the floor and gazing up at her.
"Look at me, kiddo." She met his gaze with her own, wary, one. "I'm not going to hurt you. I don't want you to do anything. I swear."
"I don't understand. Momma said-" She bit her lip, stopping herself.
"What did your Momma say, Faith?" He was amazed that his voice was steady- he certainly didn't feel like that.
"She said that I had to pay my way."
"And how did she make you pay?" He was rarely this soft; this gentle. Not even with Sammy- not unless the younger boy was ill, anyway.
"She said that I had to let her boyfriends play with me." The urge to vomit was back, but he bit down on it.
"What kind of games?" If he didn't ask now, he never would.
And she told him; gaze averted, whispering words of torment that Dean couldn't even imagine let alone understand. When she finished, there were tear tracks on his cheeks and he couldn't remember ever feeling so hopeless before.
There were no demons here; nothing Supernatural that he could put a bullet in to stop the pain. There was just a tiny child and her drug-addled mother, and a handful of sick-as-fuck men whose names the child didn't know. She was trembling on the bed; shaking like a leaf and carefully, quietly, he moved to sit next to her, laying one hand on her should in what he could only hope was a comforting gesture.
"Faith, I want you to listen to me, okay? Listen carefully. What your Mom's boyfriends did to you, those games they played with you- that was wrong. They were wrong and that was a very bad game to play with a little girl." She gazed up at him, half afraid and half amazed and his heart broke a little more. "I promise, Faith, that you didn't do anything bad, okay? But those men were bad men, and your Mom was a bad lady, and it wasn't right that they hurt you. I swear kid I am never, ever, going to let anyone hurt you like that again." He knew he shouldn't promise her anything- she wasn't his family; wasn't his to make promises to. But in that second, in that moment, she was his little sister and he would rip out the throat of anyone who even thought about hurting her, ever again. She gazed at him with disbelieving eyes, and he risked moving his hand to the top of her head, stroking her damp hair gently. "You're kinda amazing, you know that, right? You're an awesome kid." She blushed, ducked her head, and threw her arms around his torso in a tight hug.
Twenty minutes later, she was curled on Sam's bed, fast asleep, when John Winchester returned. He saw her immediately; before he saw his eldest son seated on one of the two kitchen chairs with his elbows on his knees and his gaze on her.
"Dean? What the hell is she doing here?" His son glanced over, then, and John was shocked to see his reddened eyes and pale face.
"Dad…. She's younger than Sammy and the things they did to her-"His voice cracked, choking back tears and the words were enough for all the darkest scenarios to play out in John's mind. "I don't care what we have to do, we're keeping her. I'm not going to let anyone hurt her, ever again."
He'd objected, he'd fought with Dean over it in hushed whispers as she slept away her tears- they'd woken her with their fighting and in the second she glanced at him, wearing an expression of fear and distrust that was so foreign on such a young face, he'd changed his mind. Dean rarely asked him for anything- and now he was asking and John couldn't find a place in his heart to say no to this tiny child. Mary had always wanted a third child; a daughter.
When the motel room door opened, John Winchester introduced her to Sam as his new little sister, and that was it.
"Really?" Sam was excited. "Where did she come from? How did she get here? I'm Sam!" He shook her hand with vigor, not noticing that she was staring at Dean and John with confused eyes. "I'm eleven. What age are you?"
"Ten." Her voice was low and her gaze guarded, but there was something in Sam's happiness that spread to them all. "But I'll be eleven in May." Three months away. She was almost a year younger than Sam, then. Sam just grinned again, glancing from his father- standing next to him with a faint smile on his face- to Dean, to the girl and back to his father again. There was definitely something going on, but he wasn't sure what it was. Was Dean mad that Dad had cheated on Mom and had another kid? Sam didn't remember Mom, but he was pretty sure that something like that would make Dean mad, alright. But Dean looked happy; relieved. Sam would have to ask him later.
"Sammy, how about you and me go get some ice cream so we can celebrate, eh?" John nodded to Dean and took his youngest son out of the room, leaving the eldest to explain to Faith what was going on. The teenager sat next to her on the bed and grinned widely. Part of him couldn't believe that John had caved so easily- he'd definitely been expecting a bigger fight than that.
"Faith, I spoke to my dad. I told him some of the things that you told me." She winced and he wondered if he should have kept her secrets. "He's not going to hurt you, ever. I promise." He twitched a little, wanting to run a hand across his face and sigh and cry some more, maybe. She let out the breath she'd been holding in, though, so maybe it was okay. "Dad… dad and I agreed that we want you to be our family, Faith. I want you to be my little sister and he wants to be your dad, if you want us. We don't have a lot of money and our life isn't easy, but Sam and I have always known that Dad loves us and he has taught us how to keep ourselves safe, you know?"
She nodded slowly, clearly considering the words. He muttered a few more words, reassurances, and then fell silent, waiting for her response. She was ten- that was old enough to make the decision for herself, he thought. At least, when he was ten he had been old enough. He figured she'd been through more than enough to make her qualified, now.
"You want to be my big brother? You and Sam?" He couldn't place the emotion in her voice.
"Yeah, sweets. I want to be your family. I want to keep you and Sammy safe from all the bad stuff in the world."
She met his eyes, her confusion clearing, replaced with something he thought was hope.
"I think I'd like that."
And just like that, Faith Mary Winchester entered the world- not with a scream, but with a nod and a tiny smile.
A/N: Please forgive me if the formatting is messed up. I'm completely technologically incapable and this is my virgin posting on tth, so I have no idea how its gonna turn out... :)