Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural, the Winchesters, or anything you recognise. Anything you don't might be mine.

Summary: When John and his partner go missing on a hunt, nineteen year old Dean enlists the help of another young hunter to get them back safely.

Comments are hugely appreciated – indulge me?

xxx

July 1998,

Grant County, Wisconsin

Dean was sulking.

Not very obviously, admittedly. At nineteen he was too old to be acting liking a petulant child, but John knew his son well. The lack of sarcastic comments and his trademark smirk were easy signs that Dean was not happy. And John had a pretty good idea why - there were only two people in the car, rather than the normal three. But pulling fifteen year old Sammy out of school to go kill a demon on the other side of America just wasn't an option. Dean knew that. He just wasn't happy about it. As much as he might like Caleb, Dean didn't really trust anyone but himself to watch out for Sammy properly. But with high school now firmly behind him, he had no excuse not to go with his Dad and embrace the family business. So the last few hours of solid driving had been almost completely silent, with the few attempts at conversation from John being firmly slapped down by an irritated Dean.

With his ears plugged into his walkman, Dean stared out of the window, eyeing the road signs as they flashed past. He counted down the miles to the latest pathetic town they were visiting, trying to keep his mind off whatever trouble Sammy was just bound to get himself into. Well, at least he wouldn't have to listen to his moaning for a while. That was worth something. Dean really didn't understand Sam's aversion to this life. He hated it when the family had to be split up, but not much else about the whole situation bothered him.

He frowned as a motel shot past on one side. "Dad, aren't we stopping?"

"We're staying with a friend in town," John answered. "It's not much further."

Satisfied, Dean lapsed back into silence. Provided he could get out of this car soon, he didn't much care. The house they eventually pulled up outside of looked no different to any of the others lining the street, but Dean was getting the weirdest feeling of deja vu as he stepped out of the car and fetched his bag.

"Who's the friend?" he asked.

"Amelia Lucian," John replied. "Let's go."

Lucian, Lucian... Where had he heard that name before? "Whoa, the exorcist?" Dean said, following his dad up a few steps to the front door. "Why would she need our help?"

"She called me, Dean, said it was important. And Amelia doesn't ask for help lightly."

"So it's something big?" Dean asked. Maybe it wasn't so bad for Sammy to sit this one out after all.

John hadn't even begun to answer where the door was yanked open, revealing a woman who looked more like a teacher than an exorcist. Through glasses, which were actually on a gold chain, Dean noticed, she peered at the two men.

"Took your own sweet time, didn't you?" she said with a strong English accent, but the smile on her face took any edge off the words. "Where's the third musketeer?"

"We left Sammy behind, Amelia. School," John explained.

"Brought the other one, though. You don't expect him to be able to help, do you? No offence, sweetie," she added quickly before Dean could protest.

"Can we argue about that inside, maybe?" John asked, trying not to smile at the look on his son's face.

"Oh, of course," Amelia said. "Kitchen's through there, rooms for you both upstairs, keep the brat out of the attic."

"What's up there?" Dean asked, letting 'brat' go for now.

"Some very delicate and sensitive equipment," Amelia answered. "So it's a no-no for anyone but me. Besides, Bernie wouldn't like you poking around."

"You still haven't got rid of that idiot?" John asked.

Amelia shrugged. "He's been in the house for a hundred years, John. He just won't go. He keeps the rats down anyway."

"Most people would just get a cat."

"Well, I'm not 'most people', am I?" she retorted. "So, business now or in the morning?"

"Better do it now. Dean, why don't you get some sleep?" John said. "I'll fill you in tomorrow."

Adolescent pride be damned. Sleep sounded so good right now. "Yeah, cool. Goodnight."

As he drudged up the stairs with his bag in one hand, Dean could hear the two adults going into the kitchen, talking too quietly for him to be able to hear anything specific. It seemed that it took more than legally being an adult to stop people treating you like a child. Well, at least the house made a nice difference from some cheap motel room.

The first door he tried in his search for somewhere to crash only led to another staircase, which he guessed led to the forbidden attic. The next door opened to reveal a bedroom, but it definitely wasn't a spare room. Posters and photos littered the walls, there were shelves of books and ornaments and even a cuddly toy on the bed. It was all slightly dusty, though, and the room smelt musky.

"Not quite the room I had in mind," Amelia said from behind him. Dean spun, an apology already lined up and ready to go, but she was smiling at him. "Try the next one."

She followed him as he did so, finding at last a room he could sleep in. "I owe you an apology, kid."

"What for?" he asked. If she called him 'kid' one more time, he was going to scream.

"I should have been clearer when I contacted your father. There was no need for you to come."

"I can help," he said.

"Believe me, I know," she said, and somehow she managed to stop the words sounding even the slightest bit patronising. "But the work I do is very... delicate. Too many people disrupt it, so when your father and I go to deal with my little problem, I'm afraid you can't come. I just thought you should know that from the start."

"So what am I meant to do here?"

"Kid, you are too old for your own good!" Amelia said, rolling her eyes. "You're only nineteen, you should be footloose and fancy free." Seeing the look on his face, she sighed. "It'll just be for a few days, then you can get back to killing evil things. Goodnight, kid."

"My name's Dean," he called as she shut door. Through the wood, he could hear her chuckling.

"Oh, I know that, kid."

Dean gave up, kicked off his shoes and clothes and fell into bed. This was going to be hell.

xxx

The next day, for the first time in ages, Dean slept late. He could generally manage to cope on as little sleep as possible, but if he wasn't going to be hunting, he saw no point in getting up at the crack of dawn. If he was needed, he reasoned, someone would yell at him. In the end, it wasn't until his stomach started complaining that he got up at all.

He padded downstairs in bare feet and jeans in search of food. Usually breakfast consisted of whatever the local cheap café could offer a starving teenager with only a few bucks. Hopefully, the kitchen of an exorcist would be an improvement. Dean searched through cupboards in search of coffee. Coffee was very important first thing in the morning. Gulping it down, Dean finally noticed the note on the table.

Kid –

There's food somewhere. Enjoy. Stay out of the attic and don't break anything. We'll be back later.

Amelia.

Dean balled the note up and tossed it in the bin. He might enjoy the occasional lie-in, but he hadn't missed a hunt since that nasty one just before he graduated a year ago. What the hell was he meant to do around here all day? He still had no idea by the time he had managed to find some cereal. Steadily munching his way through the bowl, Dean gave in to nosiness and started to wander through the house. The kitchen and hall were depressingly normal, but there was a cupboard full of weapons under the stairs and some occult books in the study that Pastor Jim would love to get his hands on.

Dumping the now empty bowl back in the kitchen, Dean headed upstairs. Remembering the various threats regarding the attic, he avoided that particular door and instead re-entered the one Amelia had caught him in the night before. The room smelt... empty, like no one had been in there for a while. The posters and photos on the wall all looked old as well, and the room was so uncluttered compared to the rest of the house, like everything important had been stored away or taken.

As he left the room and closed the door behind him, Dean distinctly heard the front door open. His instinct was to run downstairs, so instead he went silently to his room and found the curved blade Sammy had given his for his eighteenth birthday. It looked so cool and was nice and deadly; the perfect combination in Dean's eyes. He could hear some thuds from downstairs as he made his way slowly down the stairs.

A girl, maybe a couple of years younger than him, was standing by two suitcases with a small wooden trunk in her arms. "Hey, Mum, I managed to get an earlier flight, so..." She trailed off as she took in the sight of a shirtless Dean standing on the stairs. "You're not her."

"Uh, no."

She grinned. "Not that I'm complaining. Nicer homecoming than I normally get. So, you would be?"

"Dean. Dean Winchester."

"Take it that means Mr Winchester's back in town? God, what are they doing this time?" the girl said, dumping the trunk on the floor. She had the same English accent as Amelia, not to mention the same wicked glint in her eyes, although she was lacking the gold chain and glasses. The red hair must surely come from her father though; Amelia was a brunette.

"No idea. They didn't tell me. Amelia said something about me disrupting something or other." His tone attempted to convince her that this was not the case.

"You do realise you're standing there with a seriously evil looking knife, don't you?" she said, completely unconvinced, heading into the kitchen.

Dean followed to find her checking cupboards. "So you're Amelia's kid?" he asked, putting the knife down on the table.

"Yeah. Sara Lucian at your service."

"How come you weren't here already?"

"Mum sends me to school in England. Does she eat anything? There's no decent food here," Sara complained, shutting the fridge.

"There's cereal," Dean offered. "Some bread that isn't furry, as far as I could see."

"I knew I should've grabbed something on the way home. So why are you here?"

"Your mom called my Dad, wanted some help, failed to mention that I wouldn't be allowed to do anything and here I am."

"So, three ugly scars, bruised ribs, familiarity with pointy weaponry and an annoyance with not being allowed to kill anything," Sara said. "Yep, you're a Hunter all right."

"Hang on," Dean said. "My little brother's still in school. What are you doing here?"

"Term ends pretty early, I guess, but on the flip side, we have lessons till six and on Saturday morning. Do you even know what they were hunting?" she asked, easily leaping between education and killing things.

Dean shook his head. "Like I said, they didn't tell me anything."

"Yeah, Mum loves to do that. What's she calling you, by the way? 'Cause it sure as hell isn't 'Dean'."

"'Kid' normally."

"Figures. Be glad she isn't calling you sweetheart. That's another favourite."

"You're kidding." Dean followed her as Sara went back into the hall and started to lug her stuff upstairs. He grabbed the small trunk and followed.

"Not at all," she said. "My mother knows no limits."

Dean wasn't very surprised when she kicked the door to the empty room open. She dumped her bags on the bed and went to open the window.

"So if your brother's still in class, why aren't you?" Sara asked, taking the trunk out of his hands and putting it on the desk.

"I graduated last summer."

"Kudos. Do you know when she's turning up?"

"All I know is 'later'. Well, I'll get out of your way," he said, backing towards the door.

"Hey, you're not a vegetarian or allergic or anything, are you?" she asked. "I'll go get some decent food when I've unpacked and everything."

"I'll eat anything."

"Cool," Sara said, shutting the door behind him.

Well, that just put the icing on the proverbial cake, didn't it? Weeks of exams were finally over and Sara had been so glad to be coming home, just to relax for a while. But no. Her mum had to be working. And working with someone. Which meant strangers in her home, research, arguments and a complete lack of anything resembling normality. The flight had been hell and she didn't need this. Not now. Well, as least Dean seemed ok. But then again, people were always good at seeming.

After all, Sara seemed happy and normal.

xxx

A few hours, Dean came back downstairs from a phone call with Sammy. Sara was in the kitchen, unloading bags full of food.

"Got enough?" he asked, heading for the kettle again.

"I do have to feed your ass as well, you know," Sara retorted easily. "Unless you plan to live on pure caffeine." She tossed him a new tin of coffee. "Although that plan does have some elegance."

Dean shrugged. "It's worked before."

"The crash-and-burn part when it wears off isn't so fun though."

"You've done it?" he asked, disbelieving.

Sara shook her head. "My friend ate instant coffee so she'd stay awake in her physics exam. She nearly vibrated into another dimension, I swear, and then she gets out of the two hour long exam and sleeps for eighteen hours. It was insane," she said, smiling at the memory.

"What do you tell your friends, about your mom and stuff?"

"Not much."

"Don't they find that weird?"

"Maybe a bit. What do you say to your friends?"

"Never an issue."

"Hm. An antisocial, caffeine driven, adolescent Hunter is loitering in my kitchen. This is bound to end well, isn't it?"

"Pretty much," he said, grinning.

"How long have you been hunting anyway?"

"Dad kinda raised me in this world, you know, but I really started helping him when I fifteen, sixteen."

"So, what, three years of hunting and suddenly you're too young again? That must be annoying."

"One way of putting it."

Silence ruled supreme after that, with Dean enjoying his coffee as Sara finished putting the shopping away. Things were starting to get really uncomfortable when they both heard the front door slam open and shut. Dean was out of the kitchen in an instant, Sara right on his heels.

Amelia and John were standing in the hall yelling at each other.

John looked incredibly annoyed. "If the idiot can't tell us-"

"Peter Atwood is the best you can find for a thousand miles!" Amelia snapped back. "This type of work takes time, John, we can't just burst in and start shooting!"

"You said it was important!"

"I showed you the omens, you know how big this could be! If you don't want to be here, fine, get back in your stupid car and-"

"Hey, Mum," Sara said loudly.

Both adults stopped yelling instantly, turning to face the two teenagers.

"Sara," Amelia said, with a smile that was only slightly forced. "I didn't know you were coming home so soon."

"I did try to call," Sara replied. "Hi, Mr Winchester."

"Sara," he replied. "Dean, you stayed out of trouble, right?"

"Yes, sir. How'd the hunt go?"

"It's gonna take some time," John said. "You check in with Sammy?"

"He's fine, sir."

Amelia gave John another look and stalked into the study as he went upstairs, leaving the kids standing aimlessly in the hall.

"So," Sara said finally. "Looks like we'll be stuck with each other for a while."

xxx

The next morning, Sara waited until she heard her mother and Mr Winchester leave before getting up. When she finally entered the kitchen at the ungodly hour of quarter to seven, her mother was long gone and that suited Sara just fine. Glancing out of the window, she spotted Dean in the back garden; it looked like he was training. When he came in ten minutes later, Sara was expertly frying bacon.

"There's coffee," she said without looking at him, waving one hand towards the table. "Bacon sandwich coming up."

"Thanks," Dean said, picking up the steaming mug and sitting down.

Sara slapped the sandwich together in record time, passed it to Dean and started work on her own.

"Your father left a load of names that he wants checked," she said. "You know, the usual MIA, freaky deaths collection. And some dates as well."

Dean nodded, his mouth full.

"Do you want to do it or should I?"

"Both of us," he said. "It'd be quicker."

"True, but I'm working this morning. I could meet you at lunchtime, though."

"Working? You've been home for less than a day; how could you have a job?"

"Standing arrangement with the local oddballs," Sara said, finishing her breakfast. She fixed her gaze at a point behind Dean. "Bernie, put it down."

Dean twisted his head to see a kitchen knife floating behind him. "What the hell!"

"It's just Bernie," Sara said calmly. "Come on, Dean's not that bad."

The knife wavered slightly but the invisible Bernie wasn't convinced.

"Well, tough," she continued. "He's our guest and you cannot stab him in the neck. It's too messy. So put the knife down and go back to the attic, Bernie, please."

Reluctantly, the knife dropped into a drawer, which slammed shut.

"Thank you," Sara said to thin air before turning her attention back to Dean. "Sorry about that. Bernie's a little overprotective."

"Overprotective?" Dean repeated. "He was going to stab me!"

"He was just checking I was ok with you," she argued. "Believe me, if Bernie had wanted to kill you, he wouldn't have let me see the knife."

"You set a ghost on me?"

"I did nothing of the sort," Sara replied. "It's difficult for him to communicate without being a little drastic."

"A knife by my head is just a little drastic?"

"Well, it's not like you ever use the damn thing," she said, and had just long enough to look completely horrified before Dean cracked up.

"Nice to see you're not entirely repressed," he said, still chuckling.

She rolled her eyes expressively. "I'll see you later."

xxx

With Sara gone, Dean had tried to relax, but the knowledge that Bernie the ghost was ready, willing and apparently able to stab him had made Dean extremely twitchy. After about an hour of feeling the hair on the back of his neck rise, he gave in and left, being careful not to slam the front door.

For the next few hours, Dean mooched around the town, bored out of his skull. Nothing to do, no Sammy to annoy and the few people of his age that were around took one look at his ripped jeans and scuffed boots and stared at him like he was an overgrown sewer rat. He wondered if it was just him, or if they treated everyone that way. It was probably everyone; the kids looked to be that sort of snooty. The town itself seemed nice enough. Nice, safe, dull. Just another little non-entity of a town with absolutely nothing for him to do, either. Great.

Sara had just said 'lunchtime', which was one of the vaguest times in existence, so Dean waited until half past twelve to head for the centre of town. There couldn't be that many shops that fell into the 'local oddballs' category. As it was, there was only one, and Dean spotted it instantly, a little run down second-hand bookstore called Cooper's.

Pushing the door open, Dean peered into the shop. It wasn't as dusty and gloomy as some he'd been in, but it was as disorganised as it could possibly be. The type of shop that you need a map to navigate.

"Hello?" he called.

There was no reply, so he went further in between shelves of books. Most was fairly standard, tatty paperbacks and battered hardbacks, but his eyes widened as he got closer to the back of the shop. Faust's Compendium, Demones and Deviles. The sheer number of e's in some of the titles told him just how old the books were. No wonder Sara liked it here.

"Greetings," said a soft voice.

Dean looked forward, finally seeing the counter. An old man was leaning on it, grinning wickedly.

"Hi," Dean said. "I'm looking for-"

"The secrets of the world, yes? Answers to the unexplained mysteries of the world?" the man supplied eagerly.

"Pops, you're wasting your time," Sara said from a door behind the counter. "He's a Hunter, not a tourist."

"Oh, sorry about the act," Pops said, voice normal now. "Business requires it sometimes."

"Sure."

"Dean, this is Mr Cooper," Sara offered. "Pops, Dean Winchester."

"As in John Winchester?" Pops asked.

"He's my dad," Dean said.

"Good man. Good Hunter," Pops said, smiling.

The door jangled open and in came a young couple, all floaty clothes and homemade jewellery.

"Now those you can fool," Sara told the old man. "Hey, Dean, get back here."

Dean followed her into the back room and shut the door just as Pops launched back into his performance. Sara shrugged at his look.

"It helps pay the bills," she said.

"It's so..."

"You should hear some of the customers. They're just scary."

There was a small desk in one corner of the room, which Sara crossed to. She quickly stacked books into rough piles and picked up a small leather-bound notebook.

"Now we just need to get out of here before-"

"Sara Lucian, who the hell is that?"

"Before Nana sees you," Sara finished quietly.