Title: Into The Woods
Summary: AU: Dean and Sam take their families on a relaxing camping trip for the first annual Winchester family vacation. Not long after arriving, the angels show up on a team building exercise. Relaxing isn't quite the word for the weekend from then on. 4th in the 'Lost and Found' series.
Disclaimer: Supernatural was created by Eric Kripke. No disrespect is meant with this work of fan fiction.
Notes: Thank you for reading!
Jo was double checking that they hadn't left anything where their tent had been when Dean returned from the Impala and cleared his throat.
"So, Jo…. You and camping." Dean crossed his arms.
She straightened and looked at him. No way she was getting around this talk was there? "What about it?"
"You and camping," he repeated. "I remember you saying you can't camp and yet I saw you, in my body, doing camping things and being pretty competent at them." The expression on his face indicated she'd better have a good explanation. It was the same look he used on Jack…and Sam, Gwen, and everyone else.
"I don't remember saying that."
"Uh…I do. You said -"
"I never said I couldn't camp," Jo said with a tiny smile. "Couldn't wasn't the word I used. I said I don't like camping and I don't camp. I never said anything about not being able to. That was all your assumption." She crossed her arms, a mirror pose to his.
"I thought you couldn't do any of this. The fishing, cooking over a fire…."
"Dean. Sweetheart. My mother sent me to as many summer camps as she could every summer and forced me to be a Girl Scout so I'd learn stuff. She called them useful experiences. I called them a waste of my free time. I hated the other kids, except the occasional hunters kid who showed up at Camp Indian name something something."
"Camp Indian name something something?" His brows rose. He didn't seem especially upset by her explanation that he'd misunderstood her word choice.
"They all have fake Indian names and when you point out that the fake name means something like bear pissing in the woods you get the camp version of the brig and don't have to go to the stupid dance. They all had a stupid dance."
"You were such a joiner."
She laughed and nodded. "What can I say? I was a social butterfly."
"Anyway, point is, I can camp. I just really hate to and avoid it with a passion."
His tongue slipped out, wetting his lips. His glance turned to Gwen and back to Jo. "Did Gwen know?"
"Hell yeah. We had to camp once on a case. I made my feelings about that clear. She thought it was funny."
"I don't remember you two camping."
She started towards the Impala. "It was a stupid case, not even one really. We were trying to disprove some pictures that surfaced of a Yeti and to do so, we had to camp."
"And it rained. Oh, how it rained. Jo was miserable and grumpy." Gwen looked up from packing the SUV. "But we did disprove the pictures. It was a hoax."
"Of course it was," Sam said with a snort as he shifted things in the backseat. "Bigfoot and Yeti don't exist. Hunters for centuries have been looking for evidence that they're something besides man made hoaxes and have found nothing."
Dean tossed the tent pegs into the trunk.
Gwen leaned against the SUV with a sigh. "So tell me, why is it all our vacations end in disaster or a case of some kind?"
Sam and Dean looked at each other. "Winchester curse," they replied in unison and Dean closed the trunk of the Impala.
"Okay. So, the next time we take a vacation, we don't call it a vacation because, as far as vacations go, this one sucked big time."
"No kidding." Sam shut the back driver door on the SUV. "I think this is our worst trip yet."
"There's some pretty stiff competition from some of our past outings, but I think I might agree with you, Sam." Dean gestured at the SUV. "You get the cooler Cas brought?"
Jo started laughing and they all stopped to look at her. "Listen to you three. Worst trip ever? Please. This hardly compares to past outings, namely my high school reunion. That was the worst trip ever. Half my graduating class died, a chunk of the building was damaged in the fight, I got a broken arm, we lost Castiel as a friend for months, and we got shackled with Heather. This?" She swirled a finger about in the air. "Hardly compares to that and not every vacation has sucked. Gwen, you and Sam took a honeymoon and nothing happened."
"That we know of," Gwen muttered. "Those three girls were sort of creepy. They could have been some weird monster of some kind."
"Not exactly true, Jo." Crossing his arms, Sam leaned against the SUV. "I found some weather patterns on the way which did eventually pan out into a case."
"But it didn't happen to you both. You had an awesome honeymoon. I had a supposed spa trip that was actually my mother conning me into helping her watch out for Bobby and then turned out to be a real case of a crossroad demon and a black eyes taking over a nursing home and luring Bobby there with the intent of killing him."
Gwen jabbed a finger at her. "Ha! I knew you were lying about falling while running the obstacle course!"
Jo cast a sheepish glance at Dean, who returned it. She'd forgotten they hadn't exactly 'fessed up that they'd been out on a case while Sam and Gwen had been on their honeymoon.
"And," Sam asked. "What's your point, Jo?"
"I had a great time the past few days. This was the best camping trip ever for me. Castiel and Abigael had that whole Inspector Closeau and Cato attack sort of thing going on that one afternoon, we all got to give relationship advice to Balthazar, Jack got over his fear of ants, and we learned the skunk was really a woman cursed. The whole group of angels provided some welcome comic relief."
"We got hit by a gender soul switch spell from a Satyr," Dean reminded her.
"Uh-huh. Like you didn't enjoy that peak into what it's like to be a woman. I know you did, Dean. Besides, it only lasted a few hours."
"Twelve hours." Gwen joined Sam at the side of the SUV. "Twelve hours of being a guy."
Her tone was slightly off, yet Jo couldn't figure out how it was off. She shrugged. "It wasn't twelve hours. It was more like four because the spell knocked us out for four and we went to bed after about four awake."
"No, you went to bed then. I was awake. Sam's body didn't want to go to sleep. It was twelve," Gwen insisted. There was an odd, almost panicky gleam to her gaze.
"No, it was -"
"Twelve. Twelve hours."
Sam stepped behind Gwen and made a waving motion across his throat, an indication for Jo to stop immediately.
She frowned. "I think you're overreacting a little here, Gwen. We weren't even conscious for -"
Jo heard Dean suck in a breath beside her and he grasped her arm, saying in a low, soothing voice, "Okay, Let's all calm down. I think we should -"
"Overreacting," Gwen repeated, shaking her head "It's not overreacting when that's your fear, Jo! It's sheer hell! An hour like that is hell! It's -" Gwen's eyes widened and she gasped in a breath, covering her mouth with both hands.
"All out in the open now," Sam finished for her, placing his hands on her shoulders.
Jo blinked, thinking over that statement in regards to Gwen's behavior those hours. "Oh. That explains it."
Crossing her arms, Gwen hunched her shoulders. "That's it, okay? Get the teasing out of the way. Come on." She was obviously expecting Dean to start in and when he didn't, Gwen looked over at him. "Well? Get it over with, Dean."
He sighed. "You all do know I don't always make tasteless jokes, right? I can restrain myself and I think I know when not to tease you three on things. You get a pass on this one. I've got other things to tease you about, Gwen. I don't need the fear Christian put in you when you were a kid. He was a dick to do that and we all know it."
"It's Christian's fault?" Jo wasn't surprised. From the stories she'd heard, Christian hadn't been a particularly decent sort of guy even in the best of times.
"It was, but, Jo, those hours weren't my idea of fun either." Sam wrapped his arms around Gwen.
"You're just upset you had to deal with cramps. If that hadn't been going on, you would have been having as much fun as Dean did after the morning sickness went away. I had fun. It was fun being Dean for a few hours and the next time we go camping, we're definitely inviting the angels to come along."
"No," all three said in unison, almost identical alarmed expressions on their faces.
Really, she didn't think the angels had been that bad. She'd been sort of kidding about inviting them, but seeing that reaction gave her an idea.
"No angels, no camping." Sam stepped beside Gwen and made an emphatic gesture with his hands.
"Oh, come on, guys," she coaxed. "We can give camping lessons."
The suggestion, that Jo even managed not to smirk through, made Sam shudder. "No. Bad idea, Jo."
"Agreed. I'm all for camping, but I think it's just asking for a disaster that we don't need." Dean put his arm around her. "Still, I'm glad you finally had fun on a camping trip, Jo."
"What about the fishing," she asked, looking up at him and batting her lashes. "Wasn't that fun?"
Dean pursed his lips. "The fishing was okay. Nice of Cas to do that." His hand slid down her arm and back up. "Let's hit the road."
Jo climbed in the passenger seat, put on her seatbelt, and braced herself for the inevitable lurch of the car when Dean decided to pass Sam and lead the way back to Sioux Falls as fast as the Impala could go. He made it a whole two miles on the main road before he floored it and passed Sam and Gwen. She smiled and stared out the window.
A little reverse psychology had just ensured she'd never have to go camping again.
The drive to Bobby's house was blessedly uneventful, to which Dean was glad. Entering the house, they found the remains of a blanket tent camp in one room.
"Grandma put up a tent in the living room," Jack announced.
"We draped a few blankets over chairs," Ellen explained, folding a blanket and dropping it on the couch. Bobby's house was definitely showing a woman's touch these days. After many arguments, he'd relaxed his bachelor stance and let Ellen pretty much have free reign with the house, which made sense since they were a couple these days. "Grilled some hotdogs, made s'mores in the microwave. He liked watching the marshmallows swell up. Jo's sort of camping."
"I enjoyed this trip." Jo crouched down and zipped Jack's bag. "Is Mr. Bear in here?"
"Of course." Ellen raised a brow. "What went wrong on your trip?"
"What do you mean what went wrong?"
"Jo, every time you camp, something happens. A freak snowstorm in July, a hurricane in the Midwest, mutant mosquitoes that require the camp to close so they can spray for them, the canoe you're in springs a leak in the middle of the lake, you come home needing three rounds of antibiotics for some strange illness that you're the first in the state to come down with, the tents get shredded by a bear, an army of raccoons gets into the cooking cabin…. That was just one year. Need I go on?"
Dean crossed his arms. "Really? All that happened, Ellen?"
"And more. The stories I could tell…."
"Hey, I tried to tell you all," Jo protested. "I told you multiple times I hate camping and something always goes wrong, but no, you didn't believe me."
"We had some mishaps," Gwen admitted. "Jack found a skunk that followed him around all the time and it turned out to be a woman who was cursed, the angels showed up, a satyr stole our food."
"It didn't rain." Jo smiled.
"True. That's about the only thing that didn't happen." Sam appeared in the doorway.
Gwen finished putting Sean in the carrier. "Was he good for you, Ellen?"
"Little angel. He had a bottle about an hour ago."
"Where's Bobby?" Dean picked Jack up.
Ellen waved a hand. "Out with Rufus. They got wind of an Okami out east. Left this morning." She cleared her throat and put her hands on her hips. "Oh, and Jo? Jack told us that when he gets older, he'll go to a whorehouse. Care to explain where he heard that?"
Her cheeks reddened. "Not really, no."
Dean snickered at that.
"You do get that he repeats everything you and Dean say, don't you?"
Jack grinned at Ellen and giggled.
"Who taught him the Rite of Exorcism? Bobby was tickled when Jack pretended to use it on him and got all the way through it without any mistakes."
"Wait." Dean held up a hand, then pointed a finger at his son. "He pretended to exorcise Bobby?"
"Sure. It was darn cute, too. I should have taped it, but didn't think to until he was done."
"Did he finger paint symbols anywhere," Jo asked with a quirk of one brow. She shouldered Jack's bag.
One of Ellen's favorite stories was of Jo at about four years of age, a baby doll, and protection symbols painted on the doll. Dean had lost count of the number of times he'd heard that story.
"No, but he's younger than you were. He's on the same sort of timetable though."
"Daddy?" Jack tugged at Dean's shirt. "Daddy?"
"We got Kitty Two?" There was a hopeful gleam to his eyes.
"He seemed to think you'd bring some cat home with you," Ellen explained. "Said she was lonely. Had these plans about her going in the house and everything. Tried to get me to go to the store and get a pretty dish for her to eat out of."
"It wasn't a cat. It was a skunk." Sam lifted Sean's bag.
"Only it wasn't a skunk at all, but a woman cursed to look like a skunk. The one I mentioned a minute ago." Gwen maneuvered the pacifier into Sean's mouth and stood, carrier in hand. "We're heading back to the house. See you back there." She and Sam left.
Dean shifted Jack a little in his arms. "We couldn't bring her home, buddy."
Jack frowned. "Why?"
How did he explain it so he'd understand? "Because we took her to her home." Not exactly the truth, but close enough.
"She'll be lonely in the woods."
Jo stepped over and put a hand on Jack's back. "No, sweetie, we took her to her real home. Her family was happy to have her back. She won't be lonely anymore." Pure speculation and probably true.
Slowly, Jack's lower lip slid out in a pout and he laid his head on Dean's shoulder. "Wanted Kitty Two."
"I'm sure Kitty One missed you," Dean soothed as Jack buried his face in his shoulder. He could recognize the first signs of a tantrum brewing, probably from all the excitement of the entire weekend. First camping, then being whisked away by Abby to do indoor camping with both Ellen and Bobby. Jack definitely needed some downtime and a long nap. "We'd better get him home, Ellen. Thanks."
"Anytime. You know I love doing the grandma thing."
Once home, and greeted by Kitty One, Jack stopped his fussing and let himself be put down for a nap. Dean headed for a shower. As he dressed, he found a file Jo had left open on her dresser. It made for some interesting reading.
Later, with a quick glance at his inbox, Dean sat down at the kitchen table. "So…. Who wants to check the incoming cases with me?"
Jack was still asleep in his room and from the silence, it seemed Sean was napping too.
"Real or front," Sam asked, as he headed across the room with a full laundry basket.
"Way ahead of you, Batman," Gwen replied, laying a stack of printouts on the table and sitting across from him. Her hair was half dried and she was in sweats and what looked like one of Sam's shirts. "I started printing and writing down the messages as soon as we got back."
"Before actually." Sam set the basket down and nudged it across the kitchen floor towards the washer and dryer. "She cleared out both our voicemail on the way back and then remote called the machine."
"Someone's in a hurry," Jo said, sliding into the chair beside Dean. "Okay. Let's get crackin'."
It wasn't that Gwen was in a hurry to get back to work, it was merely that she'd rather work to forget their so-called vacation. She listed the calls they'd gotten, mostly other hunters wanting assistance, and the usual calls from Heather.
Heather wanted to know if they'd all like to come up and visit, if Jo and Gwen would like to have a girls weekend somewhere, and if they were making any sort of progress on the latest cases from the files her dad had left. They were all the sort of questions she asked when she was in the mood for a long chat. Gwen had realized months ago that Heather was lonely. For all of her wealth and witchy powers, she didn't have many friends and had yet to get another boyfriend after calling it quits with her former fiancée. She, like Marissa, wanted them to be her friends.
Jo sighed. "I'll call her right after I call Marissa. There goes the rest of my day."
"What are you going to call her," Dean asked, setting his phone on the table.
"Smartass. I have to get myself out of going to see 'Route 666' with Marissa. The whole morning sickness thing got me nowhere. I might just have to bite the bullet and go."
"No." Dean shook his head. "You're not seeing it. I don't care if you do think Dave has a manly chest."
Jo had been teasing Dean for weeks about the love scene pictures that had leaked from the set.
"Dean, I read the book. I know what happened. You got naked with an old girlfriend."
"You still don't need to see it on a big screen."
Gwen tuned out the discussion and perused the papers she hadn't mentioned yet. "Here's one looks promising," she interrupted. "Trail of severed penises across two states. The man still alive said the woman bit his off." With a mischievous purse of her lips, she handed it across the table to Jo, whose brows rose as she read the article.
"Promising? I think your definition and mine are two different things. Sounds like something for the police, not us," Sam said, wadding up one piece of paper and dumping it into the trashcan.
"Bit his off." Dean shuddered. "That's just wrong. Was her name Lorena?"
"Her name isn't mentioned and yeah, she bit it off." Jo nodded and tapped the page with one finger. "But not with her mouth."
"You mean…." Sam's mouth dropped open.
"With her…." Dean pointed at his lap. "With her…goodies?" He seemed scandalized by that, a stricken expression on his face.
Gwen smothered a grin. "Sex is dangerous."
"Someone has issues." Dean shifted uncomfortable in his seat. He and Sam looked at each other and said in unison, "We'll pass on that one."
Jo laughed. "Somehow I thought you might."
Dean picked up a folder and flipped it open. His tone was casual. "So, who here knew Garth's new girlfriend is Becky?"
"Wait…Becky as in my stalker Becky?" Sam sat back in his chair. "Better him than me. I didn't know. Gwen?"
"Jo told me," she admitted and held up another paper. "Ghoul in North Carolina?"
"I'm on it, Sam, and how did you know, Dean? He never mentions her name."
"Same way you did. The mountain range of evidence. You left your surveillance file open on the dresser and I read it while you were in the shower."
Jo set the penis paper in the stack she and Gwen were considering. "Oh. Well, I'm carefully monitoring the situation. Why don't we pass the ghoul on to Mel or Shawn? They were both in that general area last week."
"I second that vote. Mel needs the practice and so does Shawn and what do you mean you're on it? What's that mean?" Dean flipped a page in the file in front of him. "Why are you wasting ink printing out screenshots anyway? Don't we have better things to print than pictures of Becky and Garth looking like they're at a high school theme dance?"
Reading across the table, Gwen realized Dean had brought down the file Jo had been keeping on Becky.
"That's just so I don't have to go back through the sites later and 'on it' means that if Becky can use the powers of fandom for evil, like stalking Sam, then I can tap it for good. I'll stalk her and by extension Garth and make sure everything stays ok. Don't worry, sweetheart. If I have my way, and I will, she'll never know Garth is a hunter and that he knows us."
"How are you going to manage that?"
She grinned. "Hey, he still thinks I'm flirting with him on the phone. I can get him to agree to never tell her."
Dean held up a screenshot. "Seriously?" It was a picture of Garth and Becky, the sort of cutesy picture a lovesick teen girl might Photoshop, with a frame and hearts along the edges. The caption read, 'My sexy, romantic cowboy'. "Cowboy? She thinks he's a cowboy? Is she blind?"
"She thinks he's involved in rodeos and love is sort of blind, you know." Jo snagged the file and pulled out another printout. "That's where they met, actually. At a rodeo convention. He was finishing up an investigation and there she was."
"Well, I say good for them." Gwen laid the papers down on the table. "The sooner she falls for some guy and forgets Sam, the better."
"You know she'll never forget me, right? She'll always be there hovering in the background." Sam snagged the picture from Dean, set it on the file and closed the flap. "Enough of Becky. Jo, do what you have to and if you need backup with Garth -"
"I'll have Dean give him a gentle talking to."
Gwen chuckled at Dean's expression. The gentle talking to might just include a smack upside the head. "So, are we set?"
Dean's features relaxed and he leaned back in his chair and nodded. "You two go out this week. Sam and I will work the front cases, make some callbacks, and work on research."
As Gwen packed, she reflected on what both Dean and Sam had called the luck with their vacations: the Winchester Curse. She'd been the one to suggest they shouldn't call their vacations vacations, but her natural optimism was rising up now that a few hours had passed. Aside from the soul switch and some of the angel antics, it hadn't been too bad of a vacation really. Uzziel and Jael had been kind of cute and Balthazar's trouble with Atropos amusing. Not to mention it had been interesting to see Castiel in his capacity as manager of the Guardians.
And Jo had been right. The honeymoon Gwen and Sam had taken hadn't been a complete disaster. It had gone rather well. They'd enjoyed themselves.
They were all overreacting about the camping trip.
Maybe they could all try again.
Stepping to the dresser, she pulled out a brochure that had come in the mail. Maybe they could all take a family trip to some place like Disneyland. Calling it a trip wasn't the same as calling it a vacation.
Seriously. What could possibly go wrong at Disneyland?