Nothing to Prove

Summary: Charlie tries her first solo-hunt, wanting to prove herself. Unfortunately, things don't go as planned, and she makes an effort to hide her new injuries from her ever-watchful older brothers. She should have realized that the Winchesters have the ability to sniff out injuries quicker than a K-9 unit on the hunt, and that that certain ability heightens especially when said injuries pertain to their little sister.

Disclaimer: The only thing I own is my obsession of Charlie Bradbury since first seeing her in 7x20.

Note: Headcanon that Charlie visits the Batcave (or her Hobbit Hole in my own personal universe of Charlie) periodically, and stays there for a length of time whenever she can. This would be one of those times.

This is not my best work; I'll be the first to admit it. I'm posting anyway though because I feel like this is the best it'll get and I want to share it.

It was a stupid idea. Like, meta-stupid. As in, she must have been possessed when she came up with the idea. Someone had to have been controlling her mind, because Charlie had never been so stupid in her life.

As she limped her way into her yellow car, she considered how in the hell she was going to explain this one. Sam and Dean would have a major freak fest—Charlie wasn't supposed to hunt on her own. It just wasn't something she could do. It was an unstated fact of life, and Charlie had steered off-course against the wind, now suffering the consequences of an injured leg, a dislocated shoulder, and a huge rip in her side from a rusty metal wire she had caught herself on that was mostly likely infected and required stitches. She had gotten into a scuffle with a creature, and it hadn't exactly ended well for her; however, she did manage to kick its ass, and that was enough for her. At least her arm wasn't broken; this time, it was only dislocated.

She almost considered going to the hospital but decided against it; they'd ask questions, and she didn't particularly like hospitals. The only reason she ever went to a hospital was to see her mother, and that was the only exception to her rule of no hospitals.

Charlie also considered calling her brothers, but thought against that too. Again, they would have a major freak fest once they found out, and Charlie wasn't looking forward to it. Really, she wanted to avoid it at all costs.

So why not hide the injuries? That way they'd never be the wiser, and she could save herself some grief. She was sure she'd be able to patch herself up in no time. It was a perfect solution.

So Charlie drove her car to the place she now considered her home, and parked her car in its usual spot. She turned in her seat, reaching in the back for the first-aid kit that had been supplied to her by Dean. He had insisted she have it, and this was one of the many times she thanked his sense of foresight. Pulling out the necessary supplies, she made quick and unprofessional work of cleaning her wound in her side and covering it up. Quickly, she finished getting herself together and climbed out of the car, limping her way up the road to the entrance of the bunker, a casual look on her face as she opened the door. Neither Dean nor Sam was in immediate sight, and for that she was thankful. Charlie made her way into the bathroom and there she attempted rid herself of any remaining signs pertaining to the slight conflict she had with that creature tonight. When she was satisfied she looked perfectly normal, she exited the bathroom and made her way to the library, where she assumed at least one of her brothers would be located. Sure enough, Sam was there, and surprisingly, so was Dean. She was careful to appear completely in the norm as she took a seat, hiding a wince as she unintentionally jostled her out-of-place shoulder. "What's up, bitches?"

"Hey, Charlie," Dean greeted, not bothering to look away from the laptop screen before him.

Sam glanced up from his book at her. "Where've you been?"

"Here, there, everywhere," Charlie answered, almost shrugging, but quickly remembering her shoulder. "Just drove around."

"For almost three hours?" Sam asked, a skeptical look crossing his features.

Charlie nodded. "Yep—hey, have you seen my tablet?"

Dean picked it up off the table, holding it in the air between two fingers. "It's been looking a little lonely over here, with you being gone so long."

Charlie ignored his subtle hint at her unexplained absence in such a length of time, and gestured for him to slide it over. Dean obliged. She took it easily, picking the device up and turning it on, focusing on the screen. With her attention on the screen before her, she didn't notice the look her two brothers shared across the table.

It'd been four days since the fight. Somehow, Charlie had managed to relocate her shoulder, but it was still sore. Her leg was also sore, but finally stopped throbbing. Her injuries were healing—that is, except for her side.

Charlie's side, though, had managed to get worse. She peeled off the bandages every morning and night and replaced them, but the scratch was still gradually getting worse. The skin around her cut was red and puffy, and on the third day, she noticed it was actually oozing puss. Disgusted and a bit worried, she had cleaned off the seeping goo, rewrapped her bandage, than searched online for signs of an infected cut. Though Charlie knew one of the worst things to do when sick or injured was to look for information online, she did it anyway, needing immediate answers. What she found reassured her a little, reading that it wasn't necessarily a bad thing that the cut oozed. That was just the white blood cells doing their job; however, if it continued and she didn't begin to feel better shortly after the first sign of oozing, the cut was most likely infected.

The morning after, on the fourth day, Charlie found herself entering the library again where Dean and Sam were once again located. She walked with her tablet in hand to the same chair she had sat in a few days ago, easing into it slowly and letting off the slightest groan as she settled. She glanced up, hoping neither of them heard her, and found Sam staring contemplatively her way. Immediately, Charlie dropped her eyes back on her tablet's screen, turning it on and trying to ignore the sinking feeling that Sam knew she was hiding something. He couldn't possibly know what was up. She had been careful the past few days, hiding her injuries without raising much suspicion.

Or so she thought.

"Mornin', bitches," she greeted nonchalantly, keeping her attention solely on her tablet once again. Dean grunted, while Sam stayed silent, his eyes still on the redhead.

Feeling uncomfortable, Charlie stood back up, setting the tablet on the table. "Well, I'm starvin'; want anything from the kitchen while I'm up?"

"Pie," Dean answered immediately, grinning up at her.

"Try a breakfast cuisine."

"Pie's good for anytime—breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack," he insisted.

"That may be, but we don't have any."

"That's because you two keep forgetting to get me my damn pie."

Charlie shook her head. "I'd apologize, but the Queen doesn't wish to make a habit of apologizing to commoners."

Dean wadded up a piece of paper and hurled it Charlie's way. She turned to avoid the projectile hitting her straight on, and it made impact with her side—her injured side. "Shit," she hissed involuntarily, the word slipping from her mouth without her consent as she clutched at her side. Though the paper was small and seemingly lightweight, the impact of the throw making contact with her possibly infected cut caused her to feel pain.

Sam and Dean both immediately jumped to their feet, Sam pulling out a chair and easing her down into it while Dean gently took a hold of her shirt, lifting it up to look.

"No!" she protested, pulling the shirt back down before he could see the wound. "It's nothing, stop—"

"Let me look at it," he demanded firmly. Charlie jumped to her feet, hissing as she jostled her side but ignoring the pain. She jumped out of the way when Sam's large hand reached for her.

"I'm fine!"

"Charlie," Dean barked her name, reaching for her too. "Something's clearly wrong. Sit down so we can look at it."

"It's nothing," she insisted, staring at them. "Honestly, it's just a bruise."

"If it was a bruise, you wouldn't be so worked up about letting us see it," Sam reasoned. "Come on." He gestured for her to lift up her shirt. "Let's see the damage."

She took a step back, standing erect and crossing her arms over her chest, refusing. Dean, aggravated and worried, growled sharply, "Charlie Bradbury, you get your ass in a chair now or else."

"Or else what, Winchester?" Charlie demanded, glaring at him resolutely.

Dean glared right back at her, simply daring her to try his resolve.

The glare immediately fell off her face, and she gave him her most innocent face, widening her eyes to give it off to the full effect.

"Don't give me that innocent doe-eyed look, Charlie," Dean told her, rolling his eyes. "I've been dealing with Sammy's puppy-eyes for years; you really think your version'll work for you?"

She answered honestly, "Can't blame a girl for trying."

Dean gave her a look that clearly expressed that he very well could.

Sighing and resigned to her impending fate, she sat down, slowly lifting the hem of her novelty tee-shirt to show off the bandage over her injury.

"Doesn't look like a bruise to me," Dean commented, stepping forward and gently peeling off the wrapping. Once it was off and the cut was revealed, Dean let off a long whistle.

"Looks infected to me, Dean," Sam diagnosed.

Dean nodded. "Go get the stuff, Sam," he instructed. Sam went, obviously knowing exactly what to do. That both surprised and didn't surprise Charlie; they were hunters after all but where had they gotten the crash course in tending to injuries?

Dean must have caught her perplexed look on her face because he explained, "Watched Dad clean out both his own injuries and ours enough over the years that we learned a few things."

Sam returned with a kit in his hands, pulling up a chair to sit in front of Charlie's, as he balanced the kit on his lap and opened the lid. Dean gestured for him to wait and left the room, leaving the two younger siblings alone together.

"Who did this to you?" Sam asked through gritted teeth. "Or should I ask what did this?"

"I'm fine," she insisted once again.

Sam snorted humorlessly. "You are not. You've got this infected cut down your side from who the hell knows what, and don't think Dean and I are stupid enough to fall for your whole 'I'm fine' act. You went off on your own hunt, didn't you?" He asked, but she figured he already knew the answer.

"I can handle myself," she said, to which he snorted again in disbelief. "I can! And I did. I kicked that son of a bitch's ass. I just happened to catch myself on a rusty wire in the process."

"So you thought it'd be best for you to hide it from us? This injury isn't minor, Charlie; it's actually really serious. You should have come to us."

Charlie didn't have an opportunity to respond as Dean came back in, saying, "Might as well get comfortable. And take this," he handed her a bottle of scotch. "You're going to need it while we stitch you back up, kiddo."

She took it from his hands, staring at it. "That bad?"

He nodded. "Oh, yeah. It's not gonna be pleasant."

"Great." She popped open the bottle, taking a swig.

"So, explain to me," Dean started while Sam prepared the items to stitch up his sister, "how in the hell you thought it'd be a good idea to go hunting solo? You suicidal or what?"

Charlie shook her head, but kept quiet. She didn't want to give him her reasons.

"There's obviously a reason, considering how very new you are to this. You're nowhere near ready to go solo."

"I've got that now," she said, hoping to save herself from his inevitable lecture.

"That's great, but you owe us an explanation, considering the fact you could have very well died and we wouldn't have known until it was too late. On every hunt you've been on, something bad has happened to you. Broken arm from Roman, kidnapped by a fairy, the whole dream sequence with the Djinn. What made you think that after the luck you've had in the past three hunts, going alone would be a smart idea?"

"The fairy situation wasn't bad," she insisted, remembering her meta-awesome make-out session with Gilda.

"You were kidnapped, and that's enough," Sam added in his two cents. The supplies to stitch up Charlie was sitting on his lap, and he waited for his siblings to finish talking before he began.

"Stop stalling and just answer the question, Charlie."

She took a deep breath. He wouldn't give up until she spilled the beans, Charlie knew. So she went ahead and told them, "I was trying to prove myself, all right? Like you said, my track record isn't that positive. I've been training, preparing, and I thought I was ready. I understand now that I'm not, so can we please just drop this?"

"You don't have to prove yourself to us, kiddo," he said sincerely. "There's nothing to prove."

"I'm a crap hunter," Charlie admitted honestly, "but I've been working on it. I wanted to prove it to you that I can handle hunting."

"You're in the works, but you're not a hunter. Not yet. You don't have to prove that you can handle it; you've gone through three hunts with us before. You think I'd have taken you with me on the Djinn hunt if I didn't think you'd be able to handle it? You may have insisted, but I could have refused. I didn't though, so what's that tell you?"

"That you figured I deserved to go with you because I brought you the case?"

"We've gotten tons of cases; you think all those people helped us on the hunt? No."

"So then why?" She wondered.

"Because, kiddo, you have nothing to prove. Not to us, so stop trying before you get yourself killed."

Sam nodded in agreement. Then picking up one of the items on his lap, he asked Charlie, "You ready? We can always take you to a hospital if you want a more conventional way of getting stitched up."

She took another swig of her scotch, nodding to him. "Nut up, Winchester. I've got nothing to prove and nothing to lose, so let's get this over with."