Back to Our Roots
~Back To Our Roots~
When Dean reached for her hand, sliding his palm underneath hers and intertwining their fingers together, she didn’t even blink. She had become accustomed to these slight touches and gestures from him. Willow was long past wondering if that was a good thing or a bad thing. She knew that it was a good thing, especially since she suspected that she was falling in love with her husband. And these things that he did for her (the hand-holding, the reassuring arm across her shoulders, the quick hugs) were pretty much the only things keeping her from crying.
Images after images slid across the projector screen. They all showed the exact same thing. Burnt tents, smashed computers and telecommunications machines, broken arrows, charred paper remains-all the ruins of the temporary camp Dawn and Andrew had set up for the extraction operation. Rhona had finally made contact with the Cleveland HQ. These photos were all she had to report back. The Slayer had promised to send more information once it was available. The search and rescue mission was still in its planning stages. The Sicilian Slayers were on hand with the Devonshire coven only hours from arrival. They would have something soon, Rhona promised them that. They would all know something more than this very soon.
Rhona was either unrealistically optimistic or a very bad liar.
Whoever had attacked the camp knew what they were doing. It was nothing short of complete annihilation, and the lack of survivors just emphasized that point. Willow closed her eyes and tuned out the sounds of Kit’s voice. The Junior Watcher was simply rehashing the same points over and over again, as if she was trying to find something they had missed before. It was useless, and making her head hurt. She turned in her seat and buried her face in Dean’s shoulder.
She didn’t care if she looked childish. She just didn’t care anymore.
It didn’t bother him to see Willow so close to his brother. He was used to it. Angel, on the other hand, wasn’t used to it and definitely didn’t like it.
Sam was pretty sure it wasn’t a jealousy thing. Angel and Willow never seemed to interact that way. After all, he had seen the way Angel looked at Willow when they reunited the other day. There was relief and affection in his face, but nothing of the romantic sort of emotion. It was the same with Willow. She hugged and smiled at Angel with all her heart, but it didn’t compare to the way she looked at Dean. Even now, with her memories of their life together gone, Willow still looked at Dean the way she had the first time he had met her. There was love, aggravation, exasperation, and undying faith in that look. Even if they hadn’t been together that night he first met Willow, there was no way to deny what was coming, try as they might. And believe him, they tried.
But Angel didn’t look at Willow in that way. So he knew that the animosity the vampire was projecting probably had very little to do with jealousy. It was most likely that Angel, and half the people here, didn’t trust the Winchesters one bit.
It had a lot to do with the marriage thing. No one was willing to believe that Willow willingly married Dean. They all seemed to be waiting for the moment when Willow would burst out laughing and then tell them it was all an elaborate, if ill-timed, joke. After just subtly listening into some quiet conversations between two other Junior Watchers, Sam determined most of their disbelief stemmed from that fact that most of them knew Willow to be a lesbian. Apparently his sister-in-law used to date girls, and liked it that way. There was even something about an ex-girlfriend who definitely wouldn’t be happy to hear about Willow’s marriage to Dean. If Sam thought Dean was mature enough to handle the information, he might have shared it with his brother. But there were images of Dean laughing, or saying something drastically inappropriate, floating around in his mind, so Sam opted to shut his trap for the time being.
Also, he hadn’t been able to find his brother before Kit had caught him eavesdropping and escorted him personally to the meeting room. She had threatened to do it forcefully when he tried to delay in an attempt to find his brother before Dean could run into his wife’s ex-girlfriend. And while he laughed at the idea of the little Junior Watcher trying to force him to do anything, he was acutely aware of how many Slayers were wandering the halls. Kit, though she was still a Junior Watcher, had a firm handle on the Slayers here. Sam had seen a few of the giddier Slayers simply snap to attention when Kit called. She was well respected here, and Sam wasn’t trusted in the least. Taking her on just didn’t seem like a good idea.
Of course, the whole Willow-Dean-Marriage confusion wasn’t aided in the least by the discovery of his brother and wife asleep in the same bed. Sam had been teasing his brother the night before, but there had been real truth to his words. He knew that his brother couldn’t sleep without Willow. Three years of sharing the same bed, even when they didn’t know or trust each other, had settled into a habit. Sleep would not come if Dean couldn’t at least feel Willow’s presence at his side. And so, after about two hours of tossing and turning, Sam didn’t bat an eyelash when Dean stumbled out of bed and into the hallway. He knew his brother was either going to find his wife, or stare mindlessly at a television set until sheer exhaustion took him.
And Willow was the exact same way. She fidgeted, twisted, and turned without Dean sleeping next to her. She once told him, in strict confidence, that without Dean beside her, she felt like something was missing. The whole thing was surreal and fake if Dean wasn’t there. It would bother her to no end, and she would not rest the entire night. The both of them were so pathetically co-dependent that he could laugh. And he did. All the time, at both of them. At least, he used to, before the reverse amnesia kicked in and he found out his sister-in-law was the famed mega-witch of the Council. And yet, even after that, they couldn’t sleep without the other near.
He hadn’t been surprised. But Kit had been. And Angel had been angry. There were some accusations of Dean slipping into Willow’s room under the cover of night. Dean had been ready to let them all have it when Willow interjected. Quietly, but firmly, she told everyone to grow the hell up (Dean included) and try to remember that they had bigger issues to resolve. Dean hadn’t been fazed by the edict at all; Willow said things like that to him all the time. She had too. His brother was very childish when the mood suited him. And teasing his wife always suited him.
But the Slayers, Watchers, and Angel hadn’t been all too impressed. Kit had the sense to look slightly shamed, but Angel wasn’t having any of it. Though his mouth snapped shut, the look in his eyes said it all. He didn’t like the Winchesters, he didn’t trust the Winchesters, and as soon as he found any clue that they weren’t on the up and up, Angel would toss both brothers out of the building personally.
Sam was pretty sure that Willow wouldn’t let him do anything of the sort, but Angel might still try. Like right now, when Willow was upset and leaning on Dean for support, Angel glared at Dean as if hoping through the sheer force of his dislike, Dean would disappear and Willow would go back to being the way Angel remembered her being. The vampire looked like he wanted to say something, and the smug looks Dean shot his way every now and then didn’t help. Angel opened and shut his mouth a few times, obviously thinking better of saying anything in light of Willow’s reaction from before. It would all be insanely funny if it wasn’t for the fact that most of Willow’s friends were likely dead.
Sam tuned back into what Kit was saying, and found nothing new being offered. She just kept flipping through the images on the projector. He suspected it was just a nervous reaction, something to keep her hands busy as she tried not to think of the worst. But of course, the more you try to not think of something, the more the thought of it nags at you. She was back to talking about the Devonshire coven and how they had plans for using tracking spells or something to locate the missing persons.
Angel, having decided that he could do nothing about Dean and Willow at the moment (but lord did he want to), was also back to listening to Kit. Sam watched as the vampire stared at the images flying across the screen and then noticed something change. Angel stiffened noticeably and then asked Kit to slow down the slide show.
Willow lifted her head at this request, confusion on her face. Sam understood how she felt. There wasn’t anything new in the pictures Rhona sent. It was just confirming the things that they already knew. The camp had been destroyed and there no were signs of the team sent there.
But there was something going on now. Angel was studying each picture carefully, ignoring Willow’s queries into his actions. Dean looked curiously at Sam, but Sam could only shrug his shoulders. Both brothers looked back to the screen, looking closely at the images but seeing nothing new.
When Kit had finally made it to the last of the pictures, Willow leaned in closer to Angel and asked him again, “What is it?”
Angel just looked at Kit. “Did Buffy take the scythe?” he asked. Sam frowned and looked over to his brother, noting that Dean looked just as confused. Willow, on the other hand, had suddenly become very alert.
Kit looked startled, but then nodded. “Yeah, she took it in case they needed some extra help.”
“Angel?” Willow made it a question.
“There’s weapons strewn all over the place,” Angel said in reply. “I see swords, arrows, crossbows, axes, stakes-whoever did this didn’t bother to take any of the weapons. They just left them, along with all the equipment, laying there in ruins. None of it was worth taking, but the scythe-that’s worth taking, but I don’t see it with the other weapons. And if Buffy had it, then whoever did this might have recognized it as a powerful object, and then kept it. And then-“
“I might be able to track it,” Willow finished for him. “Of course! How could I forget something like that?”
Sam was still confused and so was his brother. “Huh?”
Willow looked to Dean and gave him a strained smile. “Oh yeah, forgot you two are kind of out of the loop with the whole Witchy-Willow thing,” she said sheepishly. “Um, the scythe was the object used to activate the Slayers in Sunnydale. Afterwards, I used it to help track down all the other activated Slayers across the globe. I have a connection to it, and the power behind it. I might be able to cast a spell to reconnect with it, and if I do-“
“Then we trace it back to where it is, and hopefully find the others along the way,” Angel finished for her. “It could work.”
“If I can still connect to it,” Willow conceded. She bit her lip in worry. “It’s been a long time since the last time I did it. It could get dicey.”
Dean opened his mouth, no doubt to protest the idea of his wife doing any kind of magic that stood a chance of getting ‘dicey’. Sam managed to stomp down on his foot just in time to stop his outburst, but not in time to stop Willow from noticing something was off. Sam knew well what his brother thought of witchcraft, and though Dean loved Willow a lot, it’s never really stopped him from running off at the mouth. There was a good chance that whatever was about to come out of his brother’s mouth would either offend someone in the room, or worse, make Willow feel bad. Sam tried to convey this to his brother in a well schooled glare. He wasn’t sure Dean got the entire message, but he got enough of it to shut his trap. Whatever concerns he had, Dean could take the time to mull them over and then talk to Willow about it later.
Willow looked between both brothers, suspicion shining clear in her eyes. She knew that she missed something, and the look on her face said she wasn’t willing to let it go. But they were saved from her demanding an answer when the door opened and a young Slayer slipped into the room. Kit looked up questioningly, and the others quieted to hear what news the girl had brought.
“Kennedy phoned,” she started explaining. Sam didn’t miss how Willow’s eyes widened at the mention of the name Kennedy. He recognized it too, and it reminded him of the talk he needed to have with his brother about Willow and her ex. “She says she picked up the Finns on her way from Rio. They’ll be here by eight tonight.”
“That’s good,” Kit said with a sigh, probably forgetting the implications of Willow’s ex-girlfriend meeting Willow’s husband in the rush of things. “Get someone on preparing the rooms-“
“There’s more,” the Slayer interrupted. She nodded towards Willow. “There’s someone downstairs saying he wants to see you.”
“Who?” Angel demanded before Willow could speak. Sam saw something like annoyance flash over her face before Willow let it go. The Slayer shrugged, oblivious to the underlying tension in the room.
“Some guy. Says he’s her father.”
Dean was out of his chair and heading to the door before Angel could blink. Willow exchanged a look with Sam and he shrugged. Willow excused herself and joined Sam as he followed behind his brother. Sam looked ahead and noticed some of the tension had gone out of Dean’s shoulders. He smirked, understanding the feeling.
John Winchester had arrived. Now they could get some real work done.