Family is Where the Heart is
The bar was quiet as Dean sat on a stool, drinking a beer. He was resting after a hunt before he had to hunt again. That was his job. To hunt down monsters that terrified and killed people. He had been trained to hunt since he was a kid. Dean wished his little brother didn't go off to college alone. Sam was his responsibility and Dean couldn't protect him if he wasn't there with him. John drives up to Stanford, now and then to check on Sam and says he's fine but it still doesn't ease Dean's nerves. To top off his uneasiness, John has been on a hunt on his own and Dean hasn't heard anything from him. John's been known to be gone for a long time but normally he calls in.
Dean's cell phone rang. He took it out of his pocket and saw he had received a text. He opened it up and saw it was coordinates. Dean paid for his drink and hurried outside to where he had parked the Impala, getting in. He leaned over and pulled a folded map from the glove compartment and looked up the coordinates.
"Milbank, South Dakota?" Dean questioned to himself, out loud. He guessed there was some kind of supernatural creature if John was sending him there. After a few minutes, Dean received another text that told him it wasn't a hunt, but he was still needed there and told Dean to do the right thing. Dean did not understand what his father meant but decided not to question the man about it. Instead, he asked what was taking so long on the hunt John was on.
John never responded.
As Dean drove to Milbank, South Dakota, it finally dawned on him. "Since when does Dad know how to text?" he questioned out loud to himself.
It was a five hour drive to Milbank. He pulled up to a gated community, stopping at a closed fence. Dean punched in a code John had also sent to him when he sent the coordinates and when the gates were open, he drove through. Dean drove around the neighborhood, scanning the perfectly manicured lawns for the right house.
After driving for fifteen minutes, he came to a house with a bunch of lawn gnomes scattered around the front yard. Dean parked on the street and stepped out, staring at the two-story house. He happened to notice a little girl, peeking out from behind a SpongeBob Squarepants sunshade of one of the upstairs windows. If Dean didn't know better, he swore it was Sam peeking out at him.
Dean walked up the front pathway, trying to ignore the many eyes staring back at him. He stopped at the front door and pressed the doorbell. Soon afterwards, the door on his left opened and there stood a man in his fifties staring back at him.
"Uh hi, I was told to come down here," Dean began. "Is there any prob…"
"Are you Dean Winchester?" the man asked.
"Yes I am," he replied. "How do you know my name?"
"When I couldn't get a hold of you, my wife and I tried other ways and found your father's phone number. He said he would call you and ask you to come. Please, come in." The man stepped aside to let Dean in and shut the door behind him.
Inside, Dean looked around at the small, tiled foyer and wide staircase. Dean whistled, "Nice place you got here."
"Thank you, my wife and I love it here," he replied. "I'm Greg Holden. We retired eight years ago when our youngest daughter went off to college."
Dean smiled at him. "My brother left for college a couple years ago."
"Which one?" asked Greg, intrigued.
"Oh, my daughter went there as well."
"Maybe the two of them know each," said Dean.
"Probably not if your brother has been there for the last couple years. My daughter dropped out seven years ago when my only granddaughter was born and hadn't been back since," he explained.
"Was that the kid I saw in the window when I pulled up?" asked Dean.
"Yes it is. Would you like to meet her?"
Dean cocked a grin. "Sure, I love kids."
Greg seemed like he was forcing a smile, too. "That's her smile, too."
The grin left his face when Dean heard that.
Greg walked over to the bottom of the stairs and shouted, "Sarah, can you come here, please?" Soon after, the same little girl from the window appeared at the railing, looking down at the old man.
"Whatever happened, I didn't do it," she told him.
Once her grandfather heard her say that, he knew she had done something she wasn't supposed to. "Sarah Lynn, what did you do this time?"
"Nothing, Papa, I swear," she tried to sound innocent.
Greg sighed. "Just come down here, there's a man here I want you to meet."
Sarah, the little girl walked over and climbed onto the banister, sliding downstairs and landed on the floor, onto her back. She jumped up not even yelping out in pain. "I'm okay," she said, cocking a grin that caught Dean off guard. It was the same one he had cocked, just moments ago.
"Dean, this is Sarah, my granddaughter and your daughter," Greg told him.
Dean stared over at the older man. "My what?" He took a step backwards. "You're joking, right? There's no way she's my daughter."
"The resemblance is very close to you, Dean and my daughter told me, Sarah's father was named Dean Winchester who traveled around with his father and brother. Is that not you?" he shrugged.
Dean rubbed at his eyes with one hand and ran it through his hair, staring at the floor. "What is your daughter's name and can I speak to her?" he finally asked.
"I'm afraid not," he answered, sadly. "Emily died about a month ago. That's why I was trying to find you. My wife and I live in a retirement community. No one under the age of fifty can live here."
Dean shot his head up, to look at Greg. "Are you saying you want me to take her?"
He shrugged, "Where else is she gonna live? We already done so much with this house already, we can't up and move now. Though we do love Sarah very much, we can't take care of her, fulltime."
"I don't have a home, though," Dean told him. "I live in dozens of motels and my job keeps me busy almost twenty-four/seven. I can't take care of a kid, myself."
"Emily was doing it while working two jobs."
Dean was starting to remember who Emily was. Seven or eight years ago, he, John, and Sam were hunting a werewolf in California. While John and Sam was out getting some research done, Dean snuck off to his own special kind of research which then led to him running into a girl a couple years older than he was. They got to talking and one thing led to another. Dean saw her a few times while the Winchesters were there but once the werewolf was taken care of, the three of them took off. Dean didn't even say good-bye.
Now, he was staring at the result of that first time he and Emily met. Sarah had his ears and eye color, along with his smile. Everything else must have been from her mother.
Sarah stared up at him, her green eyes matching his as if she was trying to use them to plead with him.
"Sarah can be a handful at times but she really is a sweet and caring little girl," Greg told Dean.
Dean looked over at him. "But if I take her, Sarah will be living the childhood I had and know things that a kid shouldn't know. It'll scare her."
"Nothing scares me!" Sarah spoke up, her arms tightly folded. "I've seen many scary movies more than once and read books about scary things, too."
He looked at his daughter. "I'm not talking about Scooby-Doo, here," said Dean.
"Neither was I," she shot back at him.
"Sarah got into my Steven King collection the other day," Greg explained. "She can sit through any horror film and not get scared and she reads books past her age group that are also considered horror. The girl is fascinated by anything supernatural."
Dean stared at the older man. "Say what?" He looked over at Sarah. Even being away from his family, his child is exposed to what he hunts? How was that possible?
Greg motioned for Dean to move closer to him and whispered, "I think it has something to do with when she was a baby, when my oldest daughter died in a fire."
"Fire?" Dean asked. "What kind of fire?" He was whispering, too.
"Secrets don't make friends!" Sarah told the men.
Greg ignored his granddaughter's comment and replied, "I don't know, my son-in-law found her pinned to the ceiling and burst into flames. I think the fire just made him hallucinate."
"It wasn't in Sarah's nursery, was it?" Dean asked, a small lump forming in his throat. He wasn't too thrilled hearing that the creature that had killed his mother had also killed his daughter's aunt as well.
Greg shook his head. "No, Sarah was staying with her aunt for an overnight visit. My daughter, Kyra loved Sarah just as much as the rest of us and always wanted to take her to give Emily some rest. Why?"
"No reason." Dean noticed Sarah was trying to lean forward to hear what they were saying, curious. A trait she obviously inherited from her uncle Sam. He sure did miss looking out for someone. On the other hand, Dean couldn't bring his only child into the family business no matter how much obsessed she was with the supernatural already.
"Sarah could really use a parent, right now, Dean," Greg broke into his thoughts. "She needs you."