A/N: Hey, y'all. So I just finished Miles Apart – finally – and realized I've been getting lotsa questions about how Dean and Paige met, how they fell in love, and the back story to the relationships and characters already established in MA. So, I decided to write this on the side while trying to figure out what the heck I'm doing for Fight The Good Fight. (Speaking of FTGF, I'm halfway done with the chatper as of now... it will be posted at the lasted on Saturday. I hate editing...anybody know a good Beta?)
So, in conclusion, this is a prequel to Miles Apart.
Some parts of it are dark and a little scary. There will probably be cussing – inevitable, with Noah in the room – and some gruesome scenes, I'm sure. There will also probably be mentions of violence and sex, however, with little to no detail. You have been warned. Also extending CUTE CHILD ALERT. Many of the now-grown characters you know are cute as wee little things. :)
Disclaimer: I don't own a thing… oh wait. Yes I do. I own ALL OF IT, except for Dean and the rest of the Winchester's, of course. And Kripke's sorta storyline, whenever it happens to crop up in this story... not often, but I'd rather not get sued, so...
More than a Feeling:
The story of Dean & Paige
June 25, 1985
John Winchester rubbed his face, noticing for the first time how stubbled his chin had gotten. Damn, he needed a shave. Again. He glanced from the Impala to the hospital, torn. Should he leave his sons in the car while he visited the Newberns, or should he take his boys with him?
He recognized defeat when he glimpsed the unreadable eyes of his six-year-old son Dean peering at him out the window. Sammy was awake in his car seat beside the boy, being occupied by his older brother. Ever since the death of his wife almost three years ago, Dean had barely spoken to anyone, least of all him. He would talk to Sammy and to Bobby Singer, and that was it. He was mute with everyone else. Dean was unnaturally attached to that three-year-old little boy.
The whole reason behind him being in Malibu (it was freakin' Malibu – rich people galore) was an ex-hunter buddy, Brad Newbern. He'd retired after the birth of his first child, a boy the same age as Dean. He'd had a daughter two years later. His wife had been pregnant with twins until a little while ago, but that wasn't why he was here. Brad had been gone and he'd gotten a call from a hysterical Wendie (Brad's wife) saying that she was being attacked by something invisible. So, he'd hauled ass from South Dakota to California and broken just about every damn speed limit between here and there to get here in just under sixteen hours.
He'd found parts of the house in shambles and discovered it was a poltergeist. His sons had stayed in the car while he fought it, and after three hours, killed it. But not before Wendie had gone into premature labor with the twins and Brad just about had a damn heart attack when he arrived on scene to find his wife in labor, his son with a broken arm, and his baby daughter in critical condition, having been slashed twice on the chest and once on the back by the damn thing.
Paige, his just-turned-four-year old daughter (her birthday was the eighteenth), was recovering at the hospital. The hunt had been four days ago, and in those days, the stubborn and tough little thing had pulled through a surgery and over fifty stitches and come out of critical condition. On the 21st Wendie had given birth to the twins two months early, and the boy, Garrett Keith, had died. The girl, Claire Jillian, was in the NICU and would remain there for months, most likely.
Finally deciding to take the boys with him, he opened the car door and waited for Dean to hop down. He watched Dean turned around to unbuckle Sammy himself and lift the two-year-old out of the vehicle, keeping a secure hold on him at all times. Sammy clung to him, peeking up at his father from underneath his mop of dark hair.
"Dean, put him down," he ordered, reaching down to pick up the baby with one hand, lifting him to his hip. Dean sent him a scorching glare but paced along quietly beside him, as usual not saying anything.
The nurses in the elevator gushed over his "adorable" children, to which he simply smiled, nodded, and thanked them. He stopped by the fourth floor first, the Pediatric wing, where Brad had said Paige was staying. Sure enough, as soon as he stepped off the elevator, he spotted his friend's towering six-foot-six fame striding towards him down the hallway.
"John," Brad said by way of introduction, reaching out to shake his hand. "I cannot thank you enough for what you did for my family." He smiled, his hazel eyes fogged with worry and exhaustion. He ran a hair through his dark military-style buzzed hair.
"It was nothing you wouldn't have done for me," John retorted, uncomfortable with the thanks.
"And isn't that the truth," he replied tiredly. He crouched down in front of Dean. "Hey, buddy. What's your name?" he said gently, smiling encouragement at the mute little boy. Dean just smiled shyly and scuffed the toe of his tennis shoes on the linoleum.
"That's Dean. He doesn't talk."
Brad reached out and gently ruffled the boy's dark blonde hair. "It's okay, bud, you don't have to talk. I'm Brad."
Dean nodded but still remained silent.
Brad led the way to his daughter's hospital room, entering without pause. He sat heavily in the chair at her bedside. "Hey, sweetheart," he said cheerfully, bending down to kiss the top of her blonde head.
"Daddy," Paige replied, her blue eyes lighting up. "How much longer do I hafta stay here?"
"Until the doctor says you can go, sweetheart," he replied, resting his hand on the top of her head and stroking his thumb across his daughter's soft forehead.
"Mommy's with Chris and baby Claire, honey."
Dean's eyes watched the scene with a hint of envy, wishing that his daddy treated him like that.
"Brad, can I talk to you for a second?" John said, feeling guilty for breaking up the moment.
Paige's big blue eyes filled with tears as her father stood and followed John into the hallway.
"Listen," John said, shifting Sammy to his other hip and looking at the floor in guilt. "I'm sorry, man. I thought I could get there fast enough. I'm so sorry about your son. I can't even imagine what you must be feeling right now."
Brad smiled, keeping up his brave face. "It's okay, John," he said, clearing his throat. "I'm just grateful that I have one of them. I'll never forget my son, but it was God's will."
John forced himself not to scoff. God… ha, that was a joke. God had left his life the moment Mary was taken from him. The thought of his wife immediately sent him into a dark mood, so he shoved her memory away.
He instead turned to look into the room, and what he saw astounded him.
Dean stood awkwardly as soon as his dad left him alone in the room with the blonde girl on the hospital bed. The room itself was nice, he supposed. The walls were a cheerful yellow, painted with images of animals of all kinds, with a giraffe and Noah's ark over the right bed. The left bed was empty. There was a dark yellow comforter on the occupied bed, stitched with flowers and more images of animals. The pillowcases were even colored, a light blue, with clouds. On the bedside table were many cards, the biggest drawn with childish images and reading, "Love you Sissy, Love Chris". The room itself was comfortable enough, almost to the point where he forgot he was standing in a hospital.
Putting off looking at the girl had come to an end – he'd surveyed everything in the room, already. So he turned his gaze to hers, not sure what the heck he was supposed to do. She was about two years younger than him, laying back propped against the cloud pillows so she was in a mostly-sitting position.
He stared at her and she stared back, bright blue eyes rivaling bright green. He felt a strange urge to go sit next to her and do something to make her feel better.
"Who're you?" she demanded, one delicate blonde eyebrow rising. He thought she looked just like her daddy, the super tall one outside, when she did that.
He trotted across the room and pushed the chair closer to her bead, pulling himself up onto it and tucking his legs into crisscross apple sauce, resting his chin on his hands. "I'm Dean," he said quietly.
"I'm Paige," she replied, scooting closer to the end of the bed. "Is your daddy John?"
Dean nodded, his green eyes serious.
"He saved me," she said solemnly, blue eyes grave.
"I know." His own eyes were just as grave.
"My brother died, though."
"I'm sorry," he replied. The mere thought of losing Sammy was something he didn't even want to think about. He dug around in his pocket until he pulled out a folded piece of white paper. He held it out to her, smiling shyly.
Paige accepted it, her bright blue eyes curious. It was a card. She stared at it for a long moment, frowning at the neat letters. G-e-t w-e-l-l s-o-o-n she slowly sounded out in her head. She flipped it open, and slowly sounded out Love Dean and baby Sammy. And then a smile broke out on her face. "Danke," she said brightly, setting it on her bedside table.
Dean cocked his head to the side, green eyes curious. He recognized it as German (Bobby sometimes babbled it when he was reading his funny books), but he didn't know what it meant. "What's that mean?"
"Thank you," she replied, still smiling. "It's German. That's all my grandpa speaks to me in."
"Cool," he said, resting his chin on his hands again. "So… how come you have to stay here?"
"A poltigost attacked me and my brother and my mommy," she replied, her lip wobbling. "I got slashed with a knife. It killed my baby brother and almost killed my mommy."
"Oh," he whispered, looking down at his chair. "My mommy got killed by a demon."
"I'm sorry," Paige said earnestly. "But at least you have a daddy. And your baby brother."
"Yeah." He suddenly smiled at her.
"So how come your voice sounds so funny?"
"What do you mean?"
"It's scratchy," Paige pointed out. She cocked her head to the side to regard him with a thoughtful expression, lips puckered in thought. "Are you sick?"
Dean raised his eyebrows, not wanting to admit that he didn't like talking. He just liked talking to this girl – partly because he knew he wasn't going to see her ever again, probably, and partly because she was really nice and had a pretty smile. "You talk funny, too. You use big words."
Paige beamed. "I read a lot," she confessed. "My daddy always says I have a complex vocabulary for my age."
He nodded. "My… Bobby lets me read a lot."
Her blue eyes lit up with excitement. "You know Uncle Bobby, too?" she gasped, clapping her hands. "I LOVE his house! The car yard super fun to play hide-and-seek in!"
Dean was surprised that she knew Bobby, but grinned in response to her excitement and nodded excitedly. "I know! My dad always says I'm acting like a baby but it's so much fun! When dad left me and Sammy there last time he played hide and seek with me while he was working in the yard. And he read books to me and watched movies with me. But my favorite is when he cooks but lets me sit on the counter so I can watch. He even let me make my own grill cheese! It was awesome!" He leaned closer to her, resting his arms on the side of the bed and shifting so his feet were hanging. He absently started to swing them. "Do you ever read with him?"
She nodded and fidgeted excitedly. "My favorite is when he reads me folk lore. The best are the ones about Wendigo's and stuff. And I really like Revelations, though daddy always says that Revelations is really scary and I shouldn't be reading it."
"Revelations is the best part of the bible," Dean agreed, nodding. "Though, it is kind of scary. My mom… well, she always said that angels were watching over us. But I don't thing I agree with that."
The both of them started giggling.
"Wow, look at that," John mused, shaking his head and smiling slightly despite himself. "He's talking." He glanced over at the giant beside him. "Guess he likes your girl."
Brad's lips quirked into a smile. "Everyone likes my girl," he said matter-of-factly. "She's sweeter than sugar. Unless she's pissed, anyway. Her and her brother have gotten into a few fights to tell you the truth." He grinned at the memory. "Funny as hell… I probably shouldn't encourage it, but it's hilarious to watch them go all hand-to-hand combat on each other." His expression was suddenly grave. "You have cause to be worried, John. It's not normal for a kid his age to not talk."
John ignored the comment. "I know how to raise my own kid, Brad," he said defensively, not looking at him.
Brad sighed and looked away, occasionally glancing at the two-year-old squirming on the hunter's hip. The baby didn't look comfortable there at all and kept looking around as if searching for Dean, seeing as he was looking down.
He spun to find his six-year-old sprinting down the hallway. He just barely held his arms out and braced himself before his son's solid frame leapt at him and slammed against his chest, his arms constricting around his neck. "Hey, Chris," he said happily, hugging him tightly. "Choking, bud."
Chris pulled away, grinning hugely. His hair, dark brown like Brad's, was cut fairly short but the front part was sticking straight up. His blue eyes, identical to his sister's and inherited from Wendie, were bright with excitement. The cuts on his cheek were fading and his left arm was in a blue cast. "Guess what?"
"Claire opened her eyes and looked at me! It was awesome!"
"Sounds like it," he replied, beaming with pride. "What color are her eyes?"
"Blue!" he gushed. "But it's darker than mine and Paige's."
"It'll fade to her normal eye color by the time she's six months or so, bud."
"Really. I had blue eyes when I was born."
"Your eyes still are kinda blue," Chris pointed out.
"Yes, but they're mostly green with some gold. Yours were dark blue when you were born. Same with me, and Mommy, and Paige, too."
"Sweet! I'm gonna go tell Paige!" he exclaimed. He then seemed to finally notice John standing there and sobered immediately. "Hello."
"Uh… hi," John said, raising an eyebrow. Damn, but the boy looked just like Brad, solemn half-frown and all.
"You saved us," Chris said.
John just nodded mutely.
Christopher turned to whisper something in his father's ear. Brad nodded and lowered him to the ground, and he immediately wrapped John in a hug. "Thank you," he said, tipping his head up to smile at John. He looked back to his father, expression pleading. "Can I go see Paige now? Please?"
"Sure, buddy," Brad said, ruffling his son's hair. He chuckled when his son grinned and charged into his little sister's room.
"Sissy, sissy, guess what!" Chris cheered as he charged into the room. He skidded to a halt abruptly as soon as he saw the blonde boy sitting by his sister's bedside. "Who're you?" he demanded, walking quickly to stand between his sister and the boy, his eyes suspicious.
"'S okay, Chris," Paige said quickly, snagging his collar and pulling him backwards. "His name's Dean. He's a friend."
Christopher frowned but hopped up on his sister's bed anyway, sitting crisscross at the foot of her bed. "So why are you here?" he asked Dean.
"Mr. Winchester is his daddy," Paige explained, scooting over and smacking her brother's shoulder. "Stop being such a butthead."
"I'm Chris," he said, sticking his hand out to the other boy, who hesitantly shook it. Then he turned to his sister. "Guess what, Paige! I went in to see baby Claire, and she's all tiny and hooked up to things and stuff and it's kinda scary, but she opened her eyes and looked at me! They're blue. She looks like a funny little old man, too. And her face is all scrunched up, like a bulldog's. And her head is shaped funny, too. It's really square."
"Cool," Paige said with a smile, reaching over to set Dean's Get Well Soon card beside the one Chris had made for her. She peered at his cast, pointing to a funny looking scrawl. "Who signed that?" she wondered.
"Uncle Joey. Daddy's old SEAL team came by today. You were sleeping."
Paige pouted. She loved all the men on her daddy's old Navy SEAL team like they were her own family. As soon as she remembered their visitor, however, she forgot all about being sad she missed her daddy's friends. She turned back to Dean. "So how long you gonna stay?"
Dean shrugged and looked down, suddenly uncomfortable.
"You can talk, you know," she said, reaching out to pat his knee like her grandma always did to make her feel better. "Chris is just a butthead. I could push him off the bed if that makes you happier."
Chris scoffed indignantly, glaring at his sister. "Sissy, that's not nice!" he protested.
A faint smile tugged at Dean's lips when the siblings turned to face off against each other. "Well, you are a butthead," she pointed out innocently with a bright smile.
Dean started to giggle at the exchange, quickly covering his mouth with his hand to stifle it.
Paige grinned triumphantly. "Daddy says I'm good at making people smile," she beamed.
"That's acuz you say stuff so stupid they laugh at you," her brother retorted sullenly.
To which Paige cheerfully shoved him off the bed.
June 28, 1985
John halted the Impala in the massive driveway of the Newbern mansion, killing the engine and rubbing his face. He'd just gotten everything in order, and courtesy of Bobby, had gotten wind of a hunt in Maine. Time to grab the boys and haul ass to the literal opposite end of the country.
He glanced at the clock and saw that it was eleven fifty-two. Dean and Sammy would most definitely be asleep, which was probably a good thing, because he didn't want his boys to be too distressed over leaving. Dean seemed to have really taken with Paige and Chris, and Sammy seemed to have really taken to Brad. It was best to have a clean break and start over someplace new, without all the complications of relationships holding them back.
Striding up the expansive steps, he rapped twice on the door. There was a moment of silence until the door swung open to reveal a rather stern looking fellow dressed in an impeccably neat suit.
"May I help you?" the man inquired upon seeing him, one hand folded across his chest, the other gripping the door. John took note of the man's foreign accent. French, he thought, or maybe Italian.
"John Winchester, I'm here to pick up my boys…?" he said by way of explanation.
"Ah, yes, of course," the man said solemnly, stepping aside. "Please, do come in. I am the Newbern family butler. My name is Sheldon Chauncey."
"Uh, good to meet you, Mr. Chauncey," he said awkwardly.
Chauncey's expression didn't falter. The man's eyebrow didn't even twitch. "May I take your coat, sir?" he said formally, extending a white-gloved hand.
John tugged the jacket self-consciously around him. "Uh, no thanks. Is Brad around?"
Chauncey nodded gravely. He gestured towards a massive set of doors. "The master is in his study. If you would be kind enough to follow me."
Man, he'd been impressed with the Newbern mansion before, but now, in full lighting and without a hunt to distract him, the sheer size of the establishment was stunning. It was huge. Not to mention the family also owned mansions in Wyoming, Montana, and up north in Carmel, and to top it all off, an island in the south Pacific and an expansive estate in Australia. They were certainly well off, which was weird, considering that the Newbern family had not only been hunters for generations, but filthy rich, as well.
Brad was in his study, just as the butler had said. As soon as Brad looked up, the butler took his leave and disappeared. Brad straightened as John entered and waved him forward towards his massive oak desk.
"Don't mind Chauncey," Brad said, waving his hand in the direction the butler had disappeared to. "He's been with my family for years. Insists on calling me 'Master Newbern' or 'Master Bradley'. I swear, not only does it make me feel old, but it makes me feel like I'm in a Batman movie." He waved his hand forward again as John had not moved, gesturing towards a chair settled before his huge desk. "Have a seat. I'm just about done with this business."
There was silence for a few short moments, until Brad seemed satisfied and turned off his computer.
"Anything urgent?" John said to make conversation.
"Nah," Brad said, waving his hand in dismissal. "Just a business deal in Japan. The Japanese can get a bit intense at times." He shrugged. "Not that you care. Anyway, I suppose you're here to pick up Dean and Sam?"
John nodded. "I wrapped up the end of my other hunt. Got a new hunt in Maine."
Brad stood and tucked what looked like his hunting journal into a desk drawer before locking it. "Hunting what?" he wondered as he rubbed a hand through his hair.
"Don't know yet. Ghoul, maybe. Though I'm thinking it's probably a shifter."
"Fun," the ex-hunter said without enthusiasm. "Those are two of my least favorite. I prefer the salt-and-burn route."
"Don't we all," John muttered as he followed his friend up a marble staircase to the second floor. "So, uh, how have my boys been? Behaving?"
Brad nodded, shoving his hands in his pockets as they reached the top of the staircase. "Sammy is a quiet little guy, and he sure does love attention. Same with Dean. He's been talking to me a little bit, but mostly he talks to Chris and Paige. Those three are like the Three Muskateers, it cracks me up."
"Paige got released from the hospital?"
"Yep. Her stitches are healing nicely and there was no further danger, so they gave us some pain meds for her and sent her home." His hopeful expression fell somewhat. "Wendy is having some trouble. She got an infection on her incision and has been severely depressed since we lost Garrett. And Claire has a lung infection that they fear may be serious, but for now, she's stable. It kills me to be here, but… I've got two other kids to think about, too."
John admired the Navy SEAL, hunter, cop, and business owner's strength.
"They're in here," he continued, pushing open the door halfway down the left side of the hallway. The room was simple and modestly decorated, with wooden letters spelling out CHRISTOPHER over a mural of a train rolling through a green countryside. The bed was huge and had a tent-like cover on it printed with trains and planes. On the bed, tangled in the sheets and a heap of limbs and bodies, were the three little kids.
John noticed that Dean looked at ease and calm, his expression for once unguarded in sleep. He bent down to run his hand over Dean's forehead, noting how Chris was sleeping with his back pressed up against Dean's and how Paige was cuddling with her big brother.
"They all had nightmares. It happened last night, too. They sort of gravitated towards each other for comfort." Brad shrugged as John carefully lifted Dean into his arms. Without having to be asked, Brad lifted the boy from his arms and settled him into his embrace, holding him securely.
"Follow me," he whispered as they eased out of Christopher's room. Sammy was in what would have been Garrett's nursery, passed out in the crib. Careful not to wake him, John lifted his son into his arms and followed Brad down the stairs, relieved when the huge man helped settle his sons in the back seat.
"Thanks, Brad," John said tiredly, shaking the taller man's hand.
"Anytime, John. And I mean that. Whenever you're through my neck of the woods, pick up the damn phone and call, would you? There's no need for you to waste money on a motel when they could be here with us."
John nodded understanding. "I'll keep in touch," he promised, getting into the car and starting the engine.
"And John?" Brad said, bending down to peer at him through the window.
"Get that kid to Bobby as much as possible. If there's anyone who can crack Dean's shell, it's him. And you need to be concerned over his lack of talking and attachment to Sam. Okay?"
John bit back a rude retort and just nodded, knowing that Brad was only concerned for the welfare of his child. All the same, it wasn't the man's business. He had his own way of raising his kids, just like Brad did.
"See you around."
Brad nodded, stuffing his hands into his pockets again. "Later, Winchester," he said with a guarded expression. The tall ex-hunter watched the Impala as it disappeared down his drive, turning left and roaring off into the night.
"God, I hope he takes care of those boys," he whispered, lifting his eyes towards the twinkling stars. With a sigh and a tired roll of his shoulders, he headed back inside, closing the front door behind him. Chauncey was waiting, as usual.
"Is there anything you need, Master Bradley?" the butler inquired politely, expression concerned.
"A cup of hot chocolate, if you will, Chauncey," he said tiredly. "And then get to bed."
Chauncey half-bowed. "As you wish, Master Bradley."
"Quit calling me Master Bradley," he said with no heat, as it was an argument he'd lost a thousand times before.
"I think it would be wise for you to head to bed as well, sir," the butler pressed as he appeared a few minutes later with a steaming cup of hot chocolate in his hand.
Brad accepted it. "That sounds like a good plan, Chauncey." He bit his butler good night before heading upstairs to first check on his babies, and then crawling into bed himself.
The half-finished cup of hot chocolate sat cooling on his nightstand, forgotten. Beside it lay a note, scrawled in John Winchester's handwriting, of his phone numbers in case of emergency.
He clicked off the light, rolled over, and was asleep in moments.
E/N: The first few chapters are just going to be random snippets throughout Dean and Paige's respective childhoods. Some chapters will be soley Paige, others, soley Dean, with frequent appearances from Noah, Jared, Chris, Elliot, Connie, etc, as well as a couple of characters I plan to bring in in Fight the Good Fight. Dean eventually ends up in TC, never fear...