New Family Traditions
Author: Cheryl W.
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters or any rights to Supernatural or Dark Angel, nor am I making any profit from this story.
Summary: My 3rd AU crossover with SN & Dark Angel. In true Winchester fashion, Dean, Sam & Alec's 1st Christmas together is anything but boring. No slash.
Author's Notes: Here's the beginning of my promised Christmas story. Strange as it sounds, it's actually a crossover with an old 90's show "Airwolf" but you don't really need to know that show to enjoy this story. I just wanted a nice old guy to play a role in this story and Ernest Borgnine came to mind and hence the crossover came to life. But to Dean's relief, there will be no airplane or helicopters in this tale.
You weren't supposed to lie to the people that you loved, at least Alec thought that was true. And if it was, he sucked as a brother. Again. Because he was lying right now, to Dean, to Sam. And though it was a white lie, what lay underneath it was a far bigger one.
From the back seat of the Impala, he watched his brothers climb out of the car and felt his guilt build. Especially after how readily his brothers had reacted to his white lie, with concerned worry, with tenderness. All it had taken was one request from him and they had stopped their headlong rush to the Christmas celebration waiting for them in Seattle. But the request, it had been the lie. He didn't really need to stretch his legs, his wounded leg, sure it ached but hobbling along with his crutch wouldn't remedy that.
He startled as knuckles rapped on the car window by his head, jarred him from his guilty trance. He smiled at Dean's phony look of exasperation because his big brother may grumble like a bear but underneath it, he had the patience of a saint for the ones he loves. 'And he loves you,' Alec's inner voice pointed out, not to reassure him but to convict him, to prove that what he was doing right then, Dean didn't deserve it, neither did Sam. They deserved the truth…no matter how pathetic it was.
Choosing action instead of soul cleansing confession, Alec opened the door, was about to try and maneuver the crutches that Dean insisted he use out with him but Dean grabbed them before he could. Easily pulling the crutches free of the car, Dean positioned them just right for his use. His kindness only heaped more burning coals on Alec's head. But Alec was no stranger to guilt, swallowed it down and slid out of the car and pushed to his feet, well, foot. The other leg wasn't so great with taking weight yet, was doing better but wasn't 100%. And he didn't need to see Dean's expression to know that fact worried his brother, both of them. No matter how many times he had reassured them that it was getting stronger each day, that he was healing, just like Manticore had designed him to.
'And lying, just like they trained you to,' Alec sneered, hands tightening onto the crutches. But Dean misread the gesture, worriedly grabbed his right bicep and stepped even closer, holding him up, willing to catch him if he fell.
"Alec, you alright?" Dean asked, noting Alec's white knuckled grip on the crutches and his brother's avoidance of his eye, neither indications of anything good.
"I'm always alright," Alec readily supplied, raising his head to meet Dean's eyes, to show him his smile, to sell the lie.
But Dean's eyes darkened at the blatant deflection, knew Alec's defensive mechanisms almost as well as he knew Sam's. "Yeah, that sounded sincere," Dean scoffed, hoping to goad Alec into opening up because Sam's soft gentle approach the past few hours hadn't worked, had simply left Alec sulking in the backseat, pretending to be asleep when he wasn't.
Feeling as if he were under interrogation, Alec snapped, "I said my leg was bothering me." And when Dean's worried frustration turned to guilt and his brother withdraw his hand from his arm, it almost made Alec's breath catch. How many different ways could he screw things up? How many times was his selfishness going to cause his brothers pain? "Dean…" he began hoarsely, ready to topple his house of cards and tell the truth.
"We'll hang out here for an hour or so, get something to eat, let you stretch your legs," Dean planned, eyes down and stepping back a few feet to give Alec the space his brother desperately wanted. Couldn't help but curse himself for his lack of sympathy and patience at Alec's pain and irritation. After all, it was his fault Alec had friggin' Civil War era shrapnel in his leg. The fact that Alec risked his own life to save him, it should earn his brother a free pass, for at least a good week or so.
When Dean retreated, Alec almost abandoned a crutch to make a grab for his brother, to stop the distance that was growing between them, that he was putting between them. But he didn't, his pride stopped him, left him clenching his jaw, hating himself.
Sam suddenly appeared on the scene, looking worried and all too ready to play referee between his brothers. "I found a restaurant that's just down the street," he offered, injected the suggestion with cheer that his tense inspection of his brothers negated.
But Alec couldn't bear that right now, to sit across from his brothers and watch them worry about him. Not when he was lying to them, didn't have the guts to tell them that, as kindhearted as what they were trying to do for him, it was all wrong. Wasn't what he wanted. 'And who made you the center of the universe?' he angrily railed at himself but meeting his two brothers eyes, he knew who had. They had. Dean and Sam had made it their friggin' mission in life to ensure that he had the perfect Christmas.
How could they know that they weren't getting it right by a long shot? But how could he tell them that, belittle all the efforts they were making to get half way across the states to where they thought he wanted to be for his very first Christmas. How heartless would he sound if he told them he didn't want to go to Terminal City, didn't have to see Max or Joshua or anyone else there. That he didn't want to share his brothers with anyone else, wanted them all to himself, wanted this celebration, this holiday that the world celebrated but he never had, to be about nothing more exciting than him and his brothers kicking back somewhere, trading barbs, maybe watching a sports game but being together, being a family. 'Leave it up to a freak of Manticore to not ask too much for Christmas but too little.'
"I'll meet you there after awhile," Alec announced, hobbled forward and past his two brothers, toward the sidewalk of the small town tucked in between snowcapped mountains. Needed to get away, to get his emotions in check, to come to terms with the fact that maybe Dean and Sam needed to be at TC, to be surrounded by lots of people who cared about them, maybe that was their idea of a perfect Christmas, even if it wasn't his. 'Are you really selfish enough to not let them have what they want? Have you learned nothing from your family?' And he knew that, even Manticore's half-baked prodigies would figure out that Christmas wasn't about getting what you want, it was about giving what other people needed. But giving up the dream, it was harder than Alec expected, left him struggling.
Blindly, he entered the first store front he came to, needed to get away from his brothers' all too perceptive inspections. He came up short as he discovered he had entered a sporting goods store, a store bustling with rabid Christmas Eve shoppers. Shoppers who didn't care that he was on crutches. He was nearly toppled over after getting shoulder-checked by two harried looking women, hands full of the latest sports equipment. He might have fallen, had a hand not reached out and steadied him. Head snapping right, expecting to discover his brothers had protectively trailed after him, he was surprised to see that his rescuer wasn't Dean or Sam but a white haired man with a wide, infectious smile.
"There's no mercy for the weak in this crowd, kid," the man chuckled, jerking his head to the store's ruthless patrons. As if to prove his point, he stepped in front of Alec and glared down a man carrying ski poles who had been on a collision course with the wounded young man. "Ahem…" he cleared his throat, his look to the man was one of warning. The man sidestepped the older and younger man and made his way to the cash register.
Turning to his younger companion, the white haired man's eyebrows rose, "See what I'm talking about. Let's get out of the middle of the road," he suggested, as he gave a tug on the arm he still held. Slowly the two men maneuvered to the side of the store, nearly collided with four people in the process. Leaning against the glass case against the wall, Alec watched the activities in the store in awe before he shot a curious glance to the older man beside him. "Things always this crazy?"
"Only around Christmas," the older man supplied but there was a twinkle in his eyes instead of disgust. "In my day, we didn't go to the store for our gifts. We grew them or made them."
Alec's brow furrowed, wasn't sure why the celebrations would have changed. As if sensing his confusion, the man turned to him, explained, "We were poor as church mice. Couldn't afford to buy anything." Alec nodded, understood being deprived of what everyone else had. But he was shocked by the man's next words, "But I think they were the best gifts I ever got because they were from the heart, took love and care and time to make. Course as String could tell you, I'm an old coot with too much sentimentality for the old days."
"String?" Alec couldn't help but ask, the man's openness drawing him in.
"My best friend, Stringfellow."
"Stringfellow…" Alec repeated with a hint of ridicule, before he remembered his official name wasn't a name at all, was a designation, merely three numbers strung together like they had meaning.
The man chuckled, "Yeah, Stringfellow Hawke. His parents had a way with naming their kids. Brother's name was Saint John we called him Sin Jin which wasn't much better." But some of the mirth fled from the man's expression and Alec knew that the memories hurt. The man gave a shake of his head, putting the past away with effort. "So you just traveling through town?"
"That obvious," Alec sheepishly asked, knew that he and his brothers didn't exactly blend in…anywhere.
The man shrugged. "You're not exactly dressed for these parts," he pointed out, eyeing up Alec's leather jacket that spoke more about style than warmth. "Truckload of snow got dumped on us a week ago, temperature was hovering around 17 degrees. We just got dug out and got the sidewalks all cleared off. This right now," he waved his arm to the world outside the shop's window, "is tropical. But it won't last so if you are sticking around, you better grab a heavier coat."
Alec smiled almost shyly. "No you pegged it right. We're just passing through."
"Was it the lure of gas or a bathroom stop that got you off the interstate to our small town?" The man asked with a laugh, poking fun at the few draws he knew his small town had for the regulars of the highway.
Alec jerked his chin down to his wrapped leg, "Leg was stiffening up," he said, glad that, at least that was the truth. 'Sure, be honest with strangers and not your own brothers. Nice, Alec.'
With a worried look at Alec's retreating back, Sam joined Dean's long stride, could see the tension in Dean's profile, knew that whatever had Alec on edge was making them all a little short with each other. While Dean was already in a poor mood, he figured he might as well breach the same old sore subject again.
"Dean, you know what Alec wants for Christmas," Sam stated quietly, eyes on the small town, giving smiles to the townspeople they passed on the sidewalk.
"His two front teeth," Dean joked but at Sam's glare he grumbled, "Yeah, well, he'll have to pick something else."
Sam turned his brother's name into a long suffering sigh, "Dean…."
"What?" Dean demanded, pretended ignorance. That Sam didn't let him get away with.
"You know what."
"Yeah and I'm still vetoing his request for the 'brand me a hunter' tattoo he put on his wish list," Dean shot back, eyes searing into Sam's, lambasting him for his poor judgment.
"He's stayed this long, Dean. And I believe him when he says he's in it for the long haul," Sam said, presenting his evidence for the case, for Alec's case. But he forgot sometimes how Dean's mind worked.
Dean shot his brother a hard look. "Yeah, you stayed eighteen years and then called it quits. Aren't you glad you weren't supporting the freak tattoo at Stanford," the last more a biting accusation than a question.
Sam looked away, couldn't stand against Dean's words, against the truth of them. Paid interest to the town around him, the snow covered roofs and the bundled up companions he had on the streets, reminded him of how cold he was, that he could see his breath. Pushing his hands into his too thin jacket's pockets, he quietly said, "We're not talking about me. We're talking about Alec. He's more like you than what you see in the mirror." And he chanced a glance to Dean, saw the jump in his brother's jawline.
That comparison didn't settle well with Dean, racketed up his fear for his youngest brother's future. "He doesn't have to be. He can make other choices."
Knowing where his brother's head was at, Sam treaded carefully, knew better than to state that being like Dean, it wasn't a bad thing, not at all. "Right, but they have to be his choices, Dean."
Dean abruptly stopped, faced Sam, demanded, an edge of frustration, worry and incredulousness tempering his tone, "And the best he can come up with is this life?"
Sam hesitated, didn't want things to go to the same old territory, to their own upbringing, but the debate needed to go there, whether Dean wanted it to or not. "Dad never gave you or me a choice about hunting," he evenly stated, praying that he sounded more impartial than he felt. "We've done better by Alec. But if we don't value what he wants, aren't we making the same mistakes Dad did?"
Eyeing his companion's wrapped leg, the older man inquired, "So sports injury?" because the kid looked well-toned and athletic.
"Injured on the job," Alec supplied distractedly, his eyes narrowing as he heard something under the sound of the cash registering ringing up sales, two shoppers arguing over who grabbed the last of some sale item, and the child having a tantrum across the store. Head snapping up, he scanned the store's ceiling…and saw the hairline crack. "Fire! Everyone out! Fire!" he shouted, praying that one word would get the quickest response. Instead, everyone froze. Hobbling forward, he shouted it again, "Fire! I said get out! Now!" And then it was pandemonium. Clothing racks and stacked displays were knocked over as the customers ran for the door in a panic.
Scanning the store for stragglers as the stampede plowed by him, Alec growled when he saw an older woman get knocked off her feet. He was going to make his way to her but the older man that had been chatting with him was already halfway there.
"Let me help you, sweetheart," the man soothed, carefully aiding the woman to her feet and ushering her to the door. Reaching Alec's side, he released his grip on the woman and watched her make her way to the exit before he turned to the kid. "You wanna tell me what …." But he stop mid-sentence, followed the kid's look to the ceiling and finally heard what the transgenic had heard minutes ago…the heavy snow piled on the roof breaking through. "Ah shoot!" he exclaimed, before he tackled the kid, praying that he'd get them both out of the way of the ceiling and snow that suddenly was crashing down on their heads.
So, what do you think of the story so far? I'll warn you that right now, I don't have it all written and it might take a holiday miracle to get it done by Christmas…or lots of awesome, sweet reviews…that's always a motivator for me.
Have a great day!