This story is based a couple of years before the end of Always Be Here, however you don't need to read that one to get this one.

Warnings: Some bad language

Responsibilities &Obligations

Chapter 1

"You ARE our family, you HAVE responsibilities to us, obligations to us"

It was those words repeating over and over in his head that seemed to pull the motionless figure that lay on the forest floor from the edge of darkness causing his eyes to gently flutter before finally opening then closing again against the harsh reality of daylight. Daylight? That can't be right.

"You ARE our family, you HAVE responsibilities to us, obligations to us" He let the words drift through his mind, allowing the haze that fogged his head to slowly dissipate. The words felt so familiar, as if they had been said with love by someone who needed him, wanted him, if only he could remember….

Then it hit him. Those words had been said with love, they were Sarah's words telling him of his place, of his duties. Man her and Sam are gonna be pissed.

Opening his eyes once more letting them readjust to the light streaming in through the canopy of trees Dean's mind slowly realised that it was in fact no longer night but a fresh new morning had begun and that could only mean one thing, he'd passed out. Terrific.

Refusing for the moment to wonder why he was sprawled on the ground in the middle of the woods he reached into his blue jacket pocket and pulled out his cell flipping it open. He wanted, no, needed to hear Sam's voice no matter how pissed it would undoubtly be and scrolled for Sammy's name before pressing send.

'No signal' the phone beeped at him "Fuck" he growled before hoisting himself into an upright position grunting with pain as the effort tore through his left side shooting blinding light into his already throbbing head almost sending him back to the ground.

Waiting for a moment for his vision to clear Dean slowly looked around the surrounding area attempting to get his bearings when his eyes rested upon the means of his last hunt. The crumpled, charred remains of the Wendigo was off to his right, still slightly smoking in the cool morning's temperature.

The creature had not been an easy target. After what seemed and felt like an eternity he had tracked it down and killed it but not before it too had left Dean a little reminder of their encounter.

Feeling the warmth of blood on his side Dean carefully removed his jacket and lifted his shirt. Among the purple colouring that littered his torso he observed 4 slice wounds that began on his left and wrapped around his side before making their way half way around his back, yea they are gonna be a bitch to fix.

Rolling his shirt back down Dean slowly crawled forward toward his previously discarded duffle bag and then cautiously shuffled back grimacing till his back rested up against the trunk of a tree. Closing his eyes briefly to regain composure he set to the task of searching through his bag to find a means to not only stunt the flow of blood that seemed to be continuously leaking from his wounded side but would also help ease the burning ache that was throbbing from his deeply bruised if not broken ribs. Damn tree.

Finding a water bottle he tore a small piece from a not so clean shirt and poured the water onto it before biting back a cry of pain as he quickly tried cleaning off each of the four slices before pressing a larger wad of the shirt to the deepest of the gashes and wrapping the only bandage he had around both his wounds and aching ribs.

When done he leant back into the tree and closed his eyes. He was tired, aching and in all honestly a little pissed off about the entire thing. Nothing had gone right with this hunt and he still hated this whole camping thing, give him a cheap, cockroach infested motel any day. But no, he had to be stuck out in the middle of a friggin forest with a bitching side and no way to call for any help. I need a vacation.

Sighing deeply Dean tried to turn his inner monologue off. At that moment he would have been all to happy to just stay right where he was not moving, just resting, letting the exhaustion that racked his entire body overtake that was until Sarah's voice once again surfaced in his head.

"You ARE our family, you HAVE responsibilities to us, obligations to us."

His eyes sprung open and he looked around. It had sounded like she was there right next to him reminding him that giving up was not an option. He had people back home depending on him and he was damned if was gonna let them down.

With sudden determination and the willing aide of the tree, he slowly pushed himself up but had to close his eyes as a sudden wave of dizziness assaulted him and the world he knew spun out of control causing his stomach to want to rebel. Waiting until his insides settled he warily peeked one eye open testing to see if the world had caught up with him yet, he glanced around the area and when all seemed right he opened both eyes and pushed away from the tree swaying slightly but still remaining upright.

Bending down he picked up his jacket and eased it back on before slowly and carefully making his way around the area grabbing his discarded weapons and putting then back into his bag. Taking a finale glance at the burnt rubble that remained of the creature Dean gently hoisted his bag onto his shoulder and turned to began the long, trek back to the Impala.

The walk back seemed to be taking twice as long as his first trek into the forest but that had been four days ago and between the extra distance he had gone while hunting the Wendigo and his now added expense of injuries he figured he shouldn't have been too surprised at this, pissed off yes, but definitely not surprised.

As the morning drew on Dean began feeling the effects of creatures wraith more and more.

Each step he took seemed to be harder to take than the one before. His feet had become sluggish and felt as if they were being weighed down. Every few steps his left foot would drag causing a slight stumble before he could regain his slow but determined rhythm.

Perspiration now ran down his face dripping off his chin landing upon his heaving chest, joining the growing sweat stain already there.

His breathing had become ragged, uncontrolled and the constant drip of sweat in his eyes burned and blurred his vision.

The unexpected squeal of an overhead bird caused Dean to suddenly look up throwing him off balance and he staggered over to the nearest tree for support. His legs shook with weakness as his chest heaved with need and he knew he had no other choice than to stop if only just for a moment.

Lowering his throbbing body to the ground, Dean leaned back against the trunk to try to relive the intense ache that was making itself known in his ribs.

5 minutes that's all I get, he thought to himself as he brought the water bottle from his bag to his lips and drained the last of the precious liquid.

Sighing as the water brought a small but welcome relief to his dry throat, Dean closed his eyes and let his thoughts wonder back to his awaiting family.

Man they are both gonna have my ass.

This little expedition was not meant to have taken this long, he was running two days behind and had yet to call Sam and Sarah for his weekly check in. It was the rules set long ago by both his brother and sister-in-law and reinforced by his adoring niece that he was to call frequently when hunting, and that they were to be kept consistently up to date on all his ventures. Unfortunately, however, this hunt not only got away from him but seemed to have snow balled out of control leaving him in the middle of nowhere with no reception and no car but an aching body that was more than willing to let its displeasure be known.

He could just imagine Sam now, pacing back and forth, wearing a hole in the carpet, berating his stupid older brother for not having been in contact yet. A small smile graced his face as he thought about what new consequence Sam and Sarah would bestow upon him for not sticking to the rules this time. Although he always tried his best to keep to the rules there were times that they had to be broken and each time a punishment would be dispensed. While usually given out by either Sam or Sarah the last one had been decided upon by Katelyn, it was her first time at being the one who laid down the law and they all had to admit she was one tough cookie.

"Uncle Dean," the six year old began with a tone not unlike her father when in a court room, "you did not call us for nearly two weeks last time you was away." she continued as she slowly paced in front of her Uncle before stopping in front of him and glaring.

"This is unacc, uncep, unacc, this is not on."

Dean had to bite down hard on his lip to stifle the laugh that was begging release in response to his niece's serious assessment and in the corner of the room he could see Sam and Sarah both fighting for control.

Apparently either completely unaware or just refusing to acknowledge any of the adults behaviour she continued on, "And I think that Daddy and Mommy have been too easy on you in the past." This statement received two well earned looks of disbelief from the corner couple and Dean could no longer hold back his amusement.

"Katie, honey," he chuckled as he bent down to her level giving her his most charming grin but before he could further his thoughts an abrupt hand flew up to his face stopping just short of touching that silenced him.

"Uncle Dean!" she firmly said and folded her arms across her chest, she meant business and he was going to take her seriously. She didn't like it when he went away, and to begin with very little could be done to calm her until her Deanie came home but now she was armed with the rules and so help it she was going to make sure he knew that if he did not abide by them then he would have to face the penalty and best of all she knew exactly where to hit him.

"Okay, okay, I'll behave", Dean relented scooting back some and giving Katelyn his undivided attention, "So what's it gonna be? What is my punishment? You're not going to make me go to one of your play dates are you?" he asked only half serious. He had been on several before and while he didn't really mind them, hell if there weren't some fine looking single momma's out there, there was no way he was going to let anyone think otherwise.

An evil grin appeared upon Katelyn's face, although Katelyn looked like a miniature version of her mother with her brown eyes and hair and cherry red lips this grin reminded Dean too much of Sam, a Sam who had just glued a certain someone's hand to a beer bottle, and now a small amount of worry passed over him. But what was the worst she could do, right?

"You didn't call for nearly two weeks Deanie," she repeated and paused for a moment seemingly waiting for everyone's full attention, "So you can't drive the Impala for two weeks."

The room was stunned into a moment of silence until a hearty chuckle from Sam broke in but was quickly hushed by a death glare from Dean. Turning back to his niece before him Dean began, "Katie I know I broke the rules but…………"

"No buts," Katie interrupted, "no car two weeks. Keys please?" she asked as she held her small hand out toward Dean.

"Katie…"

"Keys" Katelyn demanded, her hand never wavering before him.

"But…"

A cross look marred her features before she once again interrupted him "NO Deanie!" and she stretched her hand further toward him, "Keys. Please."

Dean paused for a moment taking in the sight before him. There standing in front of him with an awaiting hand was his beloved niece, the little girl who had stolen his heart the moment she was born waiting for her Uncle to face up to his consequences, to her punishment. How could he resist.

Sighing deeply he reached to the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out the Impala's keys before handing them over to her. As her little fingers wrapped around the metal her face instantly lighted up with a grin and she beamed at her Uncle before her.

"Don't worry Deanie, you'll have them back in no time." She told him as she patted his shoulder and made her way past her bemused parents and out the door.

The room stayed silent for a moment before Sarah decided to make herself scarce. "Umm… I think…I think I'll just check on Jayden," she excused herself not really knowing what it was that had just went down. If she or Sam had ever tried something like that they would never have made it out of the room alive but with Dean and Katelyn it was different, she had always had a special hold over her Uncle, one that neither Sam nor Sarah would ever understand.

Upon hearing Sarah ascend the stairs on her way to check on their 18 month old son, Sam finally removed himself from the wall he was leaning on and cleared his throat but was stopped by his brother before he could say anything at all.

"Well you got to admit Sammy," Dean begun as he stood from his kneeled position on the floor and turned to face his brother, "You and Sarah ain't got nothing on her when it comes to this'" and he flashed his brother a warm smile and chuckled before leaving a somewhat confused Sam behind.

Sam had been left stunned by the turn of events that day. His daughter had done what he could and would never dream of doing, and best of all she had gotten away with. The look of amazement and disbelief etched on Sam's face that day still remained clearly visible in Dean's mind and it brought a soft smile to his face as he wondered what new form of torture Katelyn would have in store for him. Realising he was wasting time sitting back reminiscing, he once again made the valiant effort to rise and continue on. Using the tree as leverage he pushed back and slowly crept his way up the trunk but the change in altitude sent his head reeling, the ground beneath his feet suddenly tilted and Dean crashed back to the forest floor giving out a small grunt before succumbing to the sweet release of darkness

Any Good? Please feel free to let me know I love hearing your thoughts and opinions