I make no claims to anything that belongs to Kripke or Whedon. Notes:
AU for both series; post-"Chosen" for Buffy, pre-series for Supernatural.Father Figure
The headstone was new and raw, though grass had taken root over the grave. It had taken him these two years to find the money for it, between learning, training, hunting.
John Winchester was a hunter now, but new, and still untried, as far as most of their select community was concerned. A man with nothing to lose was dangerous; a man who had
lost everything more so; a man who had lost everything but still held tight to a single impossible quest—
Well, Missouri didn’t call him stubborn for nothing. And he was
learning, quickly, and he would learn more
, from anyone who cared to teach it, and he would find
that had killed Mary and their unborn child and kill it. And then kill it again
He was losing his capacity for tears, after all these months; the things he had seen had hardened him. Becoming a warrior, Missouri said, not just a man. She always had to put a fancy spin on things, that woman.
But it wasn’t rain that he swiped from his cheek as he headed for the car.
The Impala was home, and sanctuary, and all that was his. The title was in another man’s name, but then, he was collecting identities like rich old men collected coins. It was transportation, and held an astonishing amount of weaponry in the trunk. He slid into the driver’s seat, automatically checking his surroundings—new habit that, hard-bought, and he had a couple of scars—
He yelped and jumped and hit his head on the roof. “Shit!
” he shouted, a reflex he hadn’t yet trained out of himself, and he fumbled for the holster tacked to the door—
“Sorry,” the apparition said, a bit sheepishly. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
His jaw dropped.
It was a woman, all in white—even her hair was white, long and straight and as white as the moon, but her eyes—all
of her eyes, including the part that should be white—were pitch-black, bottomless. There was a glow about her that made him want to trust her, that triggered every fatherly instinct—You’re not a father,
the cynical hunter-side of his brain reminded him. You have no fatherly instincts, and this is a ruse.
“What are you?” he demanded, thinking that he was going to beat Isaac bloody. That spell was supposed to protect
the car, dammit!
“Just a woman,” she said. Her fingers twined nervously about themselves, and that nearly settled the matter; few hostile beings showed their nervousness. “I need to ask you a favor.”
“My name is Willow Rosenberg,” she said. He raised an eyebrow; she sure as hell didn’t look
like a Rosenberg. “Missouri suggested you.”
“Missouri?” He relaxed a bit. “What favor?”
“Go here,” she said, and a scrap of paper appeared in her hand. She set it carefully on the dash. “I can meet you there.” She vanished.
“What favor?” he repeated, but she didn’t reappear. He reached for the scrap of paper—notebook paper, interesting—and found coordinates on it.
“Shit,” he muttered. Missouri kept sending odd jobs his way, but never before via ghosts. Was this some new phase of training? Or just one of the woman’s practical jokes?
“Got nothing better to do,” he finally muttered, and started the car.
“Here” turned out to be in California, of all places, in a clearing in the woods outside a teensy town called Sunnydale. Willow was there when he arrived, and though she was still all in white, and still had the disturbing eyes, she seemed more solid, less ethereal—confirming his suspicion that the apparition in his car had been precisely that. She sat on the ground next to a lumpy blanket, looking up at the leaf canopy with those unnatural eyes and humming to herself.
“I’m here,” he said flatly in greeting, making sure she saw the pistol. She grinned, an honest-to-God grin that meant none of his weapons would so much as muss her hair, and rose gracefully to her feet.
“I knew you would.”
“What’s the favor? I’m missing out on—”
“You’re not missing any hunting of consequence. And you won’t find the demon’s trail again for six months.” His jaw dropped; how did she— “You haven’t realized yet?” she asked. “I’m out of time. As in, not in mine. Just visiting. That’s why the White Goddess outfit, because this is taking so much power.”
Time travel. Great. Just when he thought he’d seen everything. “Past or future?” She quirked an eyebrow, and he realized how stupid the question had been; she'd already given him the answer, when she told him how long it would take to find the demon’s trail. “Okay, you’ve done your research. You’re from the future. What the hell do you want with me?”
In reply, Willow waved her hand, and the blanket gently rolled itself back. Lying beneath it, curled on another blanket in bespelled sleep, were two little boys.
“Their mother is a—a hunter, you would call her. Not like you, but the same goal. I’m her best friend, and I work with her, on the magical end of operations.”
“Exactly.” His fingers itched to reach for the gun—but white was usually symbolic of purity, Missouri kept telling him that, and purity meant good, and besides, there were no telltales of evil witchcraft about. He’d give her a few more minutes. “But nobody’s invincible. There was an attack she couldn’t defend—”
“Bastard raped her,” he guessed. Most of the demons he’d run into so far only ate
“Worse than that,” she said. “He took the appearance—by which I mean, he became
—her father.” John spat a profanity that Mary would have slapped him for saying within a mile of a child. “She got pregnant, and she had twins—”
“The one’s years older,” he interrupted. “No way—”
“Things are not what they seem,” she said, running over his words in a soft voice that had all the power of a semi behind it. “They were not a natural birth; their growth was accelerated. A year in a month. And then—” She shuddered. “The evil of the father was reborn in one of them.”
“Which?” He eyed the boys speculatively. Surely they had the weapons to deal with this in the future, and didn’t need one of his
guns to kill the brat.
“I’m not telling you that,” she snapped. “I tried everything, but only constant erasing of their memories kept them from—from progressing. And Buf—their mother is traumatized, and has other responsibilities, and keeping them is getting in the way
“You kidnapped them.”
“I had no choice!” she wailed, her fists clenching. “We need
Buffy! We need her whole
, the whole world does, and she can’t heal with them there!”
“You took them away from their mother!
“It was that, or Gi—somebody was going to kill them, to contain the power, and I promised her it wouldn’t happen. That I wouldn’t let it. And this is all I have the power to do. Take them far away from her. So far that they’ll never know. Find them new parents.”
” He grasped the plan in an instant, and for the first time in months he laughed—a heartfelt belly laugh, so rare these days that it hurt
. “Are you stupid?
I’m a hunter now! I don’t have a wife or a home! And I’m not going to have another one! I am going to find the thing
that killed her and—”
“These are the sons of a hunter more powerful than you can ever dream
of being,” Willow told him, “and no matter how you hunt, you will never defeat the demon that killed Mary.”
“No, you won’t. But Buffy can. Buffy will
. But not if she doesn’t heal. And the power that is within them—it has to be channeled
, John, or else…. Something like the demon that killed Mary could take
it. It could kill thousands more Marys. It could make the one go evil again. And the kind of evil that is in him is the kind that can destroy the world. They have to be raised and trained properly, and a hunter can do that.”
“I can’t take care of myself!” he shouted. “And you want to saddle me with two kids?”
“I am not saddling
you with anything,” she retorted. “I offer a family to replace the one you lost. They will never know. Whatever memories of you, of Mary, of your life till now that you want to put into them, I can, and I will. They will love Mary and treasure her memory just as you do. And they will fight to avenge her beside you.”
“But—” He choked on the rest of the sentence, and felt the damnable stinging of tears again.
He walked over to the blanket, and knelt beside it. The older boy—he was always going to be older, now, wasn’t he? they’d never be twins again—was sturdy and strong, as far as John could tell anything about kids.
“I don’t know anything about raising kids,” he protested weakly, and that was when he knew he’d agreed to the job.
“You’ll learn,” Willow said, and she smiled. “I can promise you that.”
“And their names?”
She hesitated. “It would be best if you named them. Names—they can be traced, and I don’t want Buffy ever knowing how to find them.”
“And you’ll make it so they—” He swallowed hard. “So they’ll remember Mary?”
“They already do.” Again that sheepish little smile. “I started early.”
“Did you bespell me? To make me—”
“John, do you know the first rule of witchcraft?” He shook his head. “Save the magic for the hard jobs.” She walked over to him. “All you have to do now is say their names as you touch them, and it’ll all be set.”
“Christ,” he muttered. He’d expected more rigmarole than this, expected more time to think
“If it helps,” she said, patting him on the shoulder, “you raise two fine young men.”
“It helps.” There was a long, awkward silence. “Willow—”
He looked over his shoulder to find her gone. Only the blankets and the boys remained. “I guess this means you’re mine now, boys,” he said quietly. What would have happened to them if Mary hadn’t been killed? If he wasn’t a hunter? “I can’t promise you much, but it seems there’s at least a little guarantee for you.”
It took a few minutes to decide on names—he and Mary had never gotten so far—and his fingers trembled as he completed the spell. Little flickers of blue light sank into the boys’ foreheads as he called each by his new name, and their sleeping posture relaxed into the pure relaxation of true sleep. The littler one’s thumb found its way to his mouth.Mary, my love, wherever you are, help me.
He stood up. “Dean,” he called loudly, and the bigger boy’s eyes cracked open. “Get Sammy up. Time to move.”