Dean knew from the moment he walked through the door of the motel room and saw the look on his father’s face that something was wrong... that a hunt had come up. Before John Winchester even opened his mouth, Dean was shaking his head.
“You didn’t even hear what it was I had to say,” John protested.
“I know that look, Dad, and I’m not going to take it. We aren’t going to do it,” Dean argued.
“Why? You’re the one who wanted things to go back to normal after the accident... to start hunting again.”
“Yeah, and you and Bobby overruled me... you said that you... we needed to do this. We needed to be a real family... just this once.”
“What does Bobby have to do with this?”
“He said that Sammy needed this... a break from everything. He was right. Have you seen how much better he’s been ever since he met the kids?”
“He doesn’t have to come... if I recall, you and I worked together perfectly well when he was too young to come with us and after he went off to Stanford.”
“And what about the kids? You wanted to get to know Adam and Xander and we found out about Willow too. We can’t spend time with them... like YOU wanted us too if we’re on some hunt and don’t even suggest that we take them with us. They have to grow up away from all of this. They could get killed because of this. They haven’t lost their mother because of the supernatural, it’s not their fight.”
“Dean... you know as well as anyone that we all have reputations. The kids... they were involved the moment we got back in contact with them,” John admitted. “We were kidding ourselves. It’s only a matter of time before some damn demon is going to go after them to try and get to us,” John snapped.
Dean scowled – he’d always known that Adam, Xander and Willow, would be at an increased level of risk once John had openly made contact with them but hearing John say so out loud made Dean realize how much the Winchesters had endangered the lives of the three teenagers. It was highly possible that at least one, if not all, would die because of John, Dean, and Sam’s involvement in the supernatural.
“Which is exactly why we should keep our heads down and focus on protecting them, not go chasing after our hunt.”
“People are going to die, Dean... do you know that? This thing has already killed three people... three kids... three teenagers and if we don’t do anything, it’s going to keep killing people. You know what losing someone close to you is like.”
“Exactly... I don’t want to go through that again.”
“Are you quitting?” John yelled angrily, surprised at Dean. He would have picked Sam to be the one who left the game... he already had left once, after all.
“No. You’re the one who suggested this trip and I’m staying with the kids. When they’re safely back in their hometowns, I’ll happily kill some demons... but not now.”
Dean and John glared at one another across the table of the motel room the extended family were staying at. Sam had taken the three younger Winchesters out to get dinner, leaving John and Dean behind. It was supposed to be an opportunity for John and Dean to spend some time together without any of the teenagers underfoot (or Sam for that matter) but instead, they had just had the biggest argument Dean could ever remember he and John having. Sam was the one who usually fought with John, not him.
The door of the motel room creaked open and Sam, Adam, Xander and Willow all walked in, stopping in the doorway, taking in the scene. Xander’s eyebrows disappeared into his hairline.
“Er, did I miss something?” Sam asked nervously.
“No, everything’s good,” Dean said, sending a pointed look at Sam. John blinked and forced himself to calm down, something he knew he was not good at. He knew that Dean was right, that he should be focusing on his younger children and not on a hunt but ever since Mary had died, John’s entire world had revolved around fighting the forces of darkness and trying to make sure that no one’s family was torn apart like his had been. John was not used to focusing on family and he knew that now that he had spent more time with them, things would have to change.
His family needed him and he was going to have to start being there for them... all of them.
Willow frowned as she ate her dinner, glancing at Xander and Adam to see if they had noticed the tension that seemed to be rolling from the two eldest Winchesters. Dean was refusing to make eye contact with John and when their father spoke, Willow could hear the added strain in John’s gruff voice. Something had obviously happened between John and Dean when Sam took Adam, Xander, and Willow to get dinner.
From the looks on their faces, Willow could tell that Xander and Adam knew that something had happened as well, although she got a feeling that both of the other teenaged Winchesters had no idea what the reason for the argument had been. Sam, on the other hand, was a different story. Something in Willow’s gut was telling her that somehow Sam was in the loop in regard to the cause of the argument. It made sense really. Within the Winchester clan, there were two distinct groups. The first was made up of the original Winchesters that was John, Dean, and Sam. John had been involved in the boys’ life consistently (more or less) since before either of them were born.
On the other side of the metaphorical coin were Adam, Xander, and Willow, results of John Winchester’s loneliness and grief following the death of his much loved wife, Mary. Although John had been in contact with Adam off and on for some of the boy’s life, before now John had experienced next to no contact with either Xander or Willow and as a result, the senior Winchester was not quite so tightly connected emotionally to his younger children as he was to Dean and Sam.
Willow wondered how her and Xander’s lives would have been different had they known about John and, by extension, Dean and Sam. It would have been fun, growing up knowing that Xander was her real, biological half-brother instead of just being her pseudo-brother and best friend. It would have been fun having a cool older brother like Dean and something in Willow smirked with delight at the mental picture of Cordelia having a fit when she saw Dean showing up at Sunnydale Junior High School in the Impala to pick up Xander and Willow for something.
Of course, Willow stopped smirking when she realized that Xander, Sam, and Adam were staring at her. Dean and John were still glaring at each other as if no one else was sitting at the table.
“What was that about?” Xander asked. Willow shrugged.
“Mental picture,” she explained. “It was of Cordelia’s face when she finds out about this.”
Xander snorted, amused by the comment. No doubt the cheerleader would be quite surprised at the news that Xander and Willow were in fact brother and sister and they had three older and kind of attractive brothers.
“Should have a camera pointed at her face for the moment she finds out,” he agreed.
“Do you think Sam and Dean would agree to dropping us off at school one morning in the Impala?” Willow giggled and Xander laughed.
“I don’t know who will react more, Cordy and her gang or Larry and his gang when they see the Impala.” Xander’s comment made him and Willow both laugh again.
Adam looked from his younger brother to his younger sister, feeling a little out of it. Like his younger siblings, Adam was aware of the two subgroups within the extended Winchester family. Adam wasn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a member of the ‘original Winchester’ group, as Xander had taken to calling the three eldest family members behind their backs but at the same time, Adam wasn’t really a member of the ‘Sunnydale twins’ as Dean had labeled the youngest two members of the family. It was nobody’s fault but Adam still felt like the outsider of both groups. He figured that was why he, out of all the younger generation, spent the most time with John. While it was true that Adam and Xander got along really well, it was still obvious to the entire family that Xander and Willow were best friends and probably always would be. That, unfortunately, left Adam stranded in the middle of the two subgroups.
“No... It’ll be Buffy. She’ll flip out when she sees us getting dropped off by Dean and Sam and Adam,” Willow put in and both she and Xander cracked up. Adam looked at Sam and they both shrugged, neither one having any idea what on earth the younger two Winchesters were talking about.
John too was thoroughly confused by the animated conversation taking place between his two youngest... but he was grateful for it. It had successfully distracted everyone else from the discussion... or rather, the argument that he and Dean had been sharing. Sure, Dean was still shooting rather pointed glared at John but at least the tension in the air was not nearly so thick and John hoped that the youngest family members, at least, would forget about the argument. This was supposed to be a fun summer holiday and John didn’t want it to be affected by an argument between him and Dean. At the same time, though, John wanted to go hunting and defeat the beast that was terrorizing the next town... the one that had killed three high school students in the past two weeks.
John couldn’t imagine what the parents of those three kids were going through. John would give his life to save any of his children... he nearly had done so just a few short weeks before. John didn’t even want to think about how painful to would be if something had happened to any of his children... although he had to admit, he was more worried about the ‘younger set’ than Dean and Sam. The elder two, for one, were experienced fighters, even when they were high-school-aged.
Adam, Xander, and Willow, on the other hand, had no training and John shuddered as he imagined turning up at Jessica’s house to find that Xander had been killed by some demon... or learning about his paternity of Willow but then finding out he would never meet his daughter because she had been killed by the same forces of darkness that he had vowed to battle for as long as he lived... or learning from Adam’s mother that their son... the child that John had fought to keep hidden from the supernatural world, even going to the length of not telling Dean and Sam about him, had ended up dead by supernatural hands anyway.
It was the nightmare that had plagued John ever since he had learned of the supernatural’s existence, all those years ago in the aftermath of Mary’s death.
From where he sat, Dean watched the banter between his youngest siblings. Despite the fact that it was light-hearted teasing, it still made Dean’s heart feel cold. Adam, Xander, and Willow were all so innocent... they knew nothing of the supernatural, of the danger posed to them by creatures such as the one terrorizing local high school students... just like the three youngest members of Dean’s family.
There was nothing that could be done to save the three teenagers that had already been killed and in his head, Dean saw their bodies ripped to pieces, their faces gone, shadowy figures crouched over them, feasting on the teenagers’ flesh. Then, subconsciously, Dean put faces on the teens. One became Adam, another became Xander, and the last became Willow until it was the bodies of his three youngest siblings that the monsters were feasting upon... while Dean stood by and did nothing, despite the pleading looks this youngest siblings were sending him through cold, vacant eyes. Dean blinked and he was back in the motel room, eating dinner with his family, but the mental picture lingered on in Dean’s mind.
Dean surveyed the three youngest members of his family, who were blissfully unaware of the dangers that came with being a member of the Winchester family... who had no idea of what really made things go bump in the night. In his mind, he made a decision and Dean waited until after dinner, when the three teenagers were comfortably stretched out on the couch, watching TV, that he approached John.
“Alright... we’ll get this son of a bitch... but after that, we’re staying with the kids until they head back home... no more hunting after this... alright?”
John nodded and both he and Dean began to plan the hunt that soon would be taking place.