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Regression and Obsession

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This story is No. 4 in the series "The Regression Collection". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: John doesn't believe in fairy tale endings.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Supernatural > GeneraltootsFR712,445194,25715 Oct 0915 Oct 09Yes
Regression and Obsession

Disclaimer: I don’t own Supernatural or Buffy. That’s Kripke and Whedon, folks.

Author’s Note: This is in answer to Caliadragon’s Challenge, number 3532, if you want details. Yes, I know I’ve already answered it and posted that here but when I started the first one, the ideas for three others popped up. So I wrote those, slowly, and have decided to post them, too. And yes, besides small details and the end results, the first chapters are the same. Just go with it.

WARNING! Character Death! Just so you know.

Dawn was running as fast as a woman with two ten year olds clutching her hands could run. It was all the freaking Immortal’s fault. They’d all told Buffy that he was bad news but he had promised her normal and Buffy’d fallen for it. Dawn would have snorted if she had had the breath. What would an Immortal know about giving a Slayer normal?

The dinner party’d all been a ploy to get the Scoobies in one place, something rare since Sunnydale had fallen. Ones and twos they managed. The whole group was almost never together. The surviving Old School Watchers had been afraid that the Scoobies would stage a coup (which, okay, they had) and had talked the Immortal into wooing the longest lived Slayer so that they might betray her. If it hadn’t been aimed at her friends and family, Dawn might have marveled at the ingeniousness of it. Using Buffy’s human weakness to bring her down and everyone that stood with her.

The Watchers’ plans would’ve worked perfectly if the rest of the Scoobies had trusted the Immortal as much as Buffy. Instead, they’d come to dinner loaded for bear. Or, really, the most magical, deadly creature anyone had been able to imagine. That maybe had a small army of big, nasty minions.

Willow’d sent Dawn and Xander in with enough protective amulets to ward off the Angel of Death. Faith had gone in knowing that she was their physical protection. That’s why they’d survived. The Watchers couldn’t kill them, no matter what they did but they could incapacitate them. Faith and Xander had been hit with some spell, Xander stepping in front of Faith to take the brunt of it.

The screaming when everyone had seen the two little bodies had been some of the most terrifying of Dawn’s life. Willow had yelled for Dawn to take them and run and then Darth Rosenberg was in the house. Dawn had grabbed the two little kids and the bag she’d packed earlier that day. She got clear of the building in time for it to explode, taking two thirds of the surviving Watchers, around 100 Slayers, and the rest of the Scoobies with it, and hopefully giving the Immortal’s immortality a run for its money. Asshat.

That’d been nearly a week ago and Dawn had managed to travel half-way around the globe, care for two ten-year-olds, and elude whoever was hunting them. She needed to hide Xander and Faith. She couldn’t keep running with them being the age they were. Goddess, she had to protect them, now. She was the oldest. She wanted to cry.

The list of who she could leave them with was so small. Oz was out because she had no idea where he was at. Every locator spell she’d tried had only told her he was still on the mortal plane. Cordelia and Wesley were dead and Angel and Spike were having to fight nearly ‘round the clock to clean up L.A. after Wolfram and Hart’s little blow out, spending most of the daylight hours tromping through sewers.

She couldn’t leave them with Riley. She loved him like a brother but she couldn’t trust him, not with this. Not with Xander and Faith’s lives. For all that Riley’d fought demons, been in the know for years, he still thought like a mortal, like a norm.

And Xander and Faith weren’t normal, not anymore, thanks to the Immortal and the Watchers. Faith was a miniature Slayer. By far the youngest Slayer on record, she had very little control. And whatever the spell that’d hit them had been, it had unlocked some hidden talents of Xander’s, talents Dawn was really wishing had stayed hidden. Listening to Xander babble to her sister’s ghost was freaking her out. And, seriously, the juiced up demon magnetism thing was getting old. Every time she stopped to breathe, a demon popped out of the wood work.

Dawn dodged into a busy building and slowed to a walk, trying to catch her breath. She closed her eyes as she steadied her breathing, knowing that Xander and Faith would guide her for a moment. She sent a plea, full of desperation and anger. She didn’t really expect an answer. The Powers had stopped listening to her years ago and the Goddess had never favored her. Still, she prayed, ‘Please. Please, help us.’

“Dawn,” a tiny voice caught her attention. She looked down at Xander’s face and cringed at his milky eyes. “Dawn, it’s Cordelia. I can help but you have to listen and we have to hurry. Let me tap into your power. I can send you to the best people to help you but you have to let me in. Let me…” Xander trailed off and blinked, white fading to the familiar chocolate brown. “Sleepy,” he yawned.

She kissed his forehead as she picked him up, nearly dropping him because he was unexpectedly heavy. “Go to sleep, Xan. I know what to do.”

Dawn managed to convince the building manager to let her out the back way and stood for a moment, just breathing. “Alright, Cordy, go ahead.”

Then she felt it, her magic start to boil under her skin and she gritted her teeth to keep from screaming. Goddess, it hurt.

Faith grabbed hold of her arm as a portal opened in front of them and the door banged open behind them. Dawn didn’t have time to second guess herself. They jumped.

****btvs****

The portal rippled and spit them out in the middle of the cemetery in the middle of the night on what was apparently the full moon. Since it’d been both daytime and a New Moon where they’d just been, Dawn felt secure in thinking that this wasn’t her world.

They didn’t stop running when they hit the ground. There was no telling if the bad guys had made it through the portal, where the people she was supposed to hand Xander and Faith off to where at, or even what kind of beasty was roaming around the dead’s resting place. A green glow tinged her skin and she lit up the night around them, easy pickings for anybody or anything hunting that night. Xander and Faith, thankfully, at least looked normal.

Just as she spotted a trio of men with guns, a sharp pain had her gasping and stumbling before she dropped onto her face, a knife sunk deep into one lung. The glow sank back into her body even as the ranting Watcher cackled and yanked the knife free before grabbing Xander. And that was his big mistake. One touch to the howling little boy’s skin and he sank to his knees screaming, knife falling forgotten at his feet. Faith attacked him physically but Xander was pumping his fear, rage, confusion, and pain into the man and it had to be boiling an already baked brain. Faith’s sharp jab to his windpipe, crushing it and ending him, was probably an act of kindness, really.

Xander rolled Dawn and she could see the men creeping closer, guns raised.

“Please,” she gasped, blood bubbling on her lips. She rolled her eyes to look at the kids, then back at the oldest man. The other two were barely out of boyhood, really. She’d eat her socks if the youngest had graduated high school yet. “Please.”

Xander, of course, ignored the guns pointed at them and tried to plug the hole in her chest, tried to stem the blood flow. His hands where just too small, too weak to be all that effective. Faith stepped between them and trouble, the dagger that’d stabbed Dawn held secure in her hand.

“Don’t, Dawn,” Xander said, voice wobbly. “Please don’t die.”

Her magic was gathering, knowing instinctively that its current vessel was no longer useful. She had only moments, she knew.

She wrapped a hand over Xander’s, snaked the other out to grasp Faith’s ankle, and looked the oldest man square in the eye and begged, “Please.”

His nostrils flared but he lowered the gun and the other two follow suit. She smiled in triumph and squeezed Xander’s fingers in comfort, then arched and screamed until her last breath as her magic ripped from her and slammed across the world, bending, for the first and last time, to her will and remaking Xander Harris and Faith LeHane into the youngest two Winchester children. The only thing that remained of her was the golden monogrammed necklace Xander had grabbed hold of and their memories.

****SN****

The girl was gone. That was the first thought John thought as the boy doubled over until his forehead pressed into the dirt and he sobbed as though his heart was broken, maybe his mind, too. The girl was more stoic, shifting a little to place her fragile body between them and the boy even as her jaw locked to keep the tears at bay. She wouldn’t cry in front of them, he knew.

His second thought was to wonder why he wanted to pick up the boy and gruffly wipe away tears, to offer some kind of comfort to the girl that obviously didn’t want it. Then he blinked and memories of them filled his head, memories that made them as much his as Sam and Dean were. And that didn’t make a damn bit of sense because Mary had died when Sam was a baby and these kids were at least five years younger, probably closer to ten, and every memory he had of them was layered with the thought that Mary was their mother, too.

He jumped when a soft hand plucked at his sleeve and his throat tightened when the woman he’d always thought of as an angel smiled slightly at him before stepping around him in worn jeans and a simple t-shirt and heading towards the kids. His kids.

His gun was cocked and raised and it didn’t shake even though whatever brand of spook this was was wearing his Mary’s face.

She rubbed a gentle hand down the girl’s cheek, paying him no mind, and the girl slumped into her, knife dropping from her hand. John remembered hours of practice, thousands of bruises, mostly his, that had taught his little girl never to drop her only weapon, not unless she was sure she was safe. So either that was really Mary or his baby was being bespelled. Painful hope blossomed in his chest even as the being, the being that so looked like Mary, knelt gracefully and pulled the boy into her lap, cradling him as he clung to her and wept, the fragile golden chain trailing out of his hand.

“Shh, shh,” she said, pressing a kiss to his shaggy brown hair as her eyes sought out John’s. “Mama’s here.”

Fury ripped through John and he’d have pulled the trigger but his baby girl, the one he hadn’t had a minute ago but now could barely remember living without, stepped between his gun and the woman.

“It’s her, Dad,” she said, stepping slowly towards him. When she’d gotten close enough, she wrapped her hand around the barrel and forcibly pointed it at the ground. “You know I’d know if she wasn’t.”

And she would because his daughter was ‘gifted’. ‘Destined,’ the man that had tried to take both her and her twin brother away from him had said. ‘The Slayer.’ John had beaten the holy hell out of that man and run with his daughter and sons. Nobody but nobody was taking his kids from him, destiny be damned.

He blinked again and the last of the memories wiggling around in his mind finally jiggled into place and he knew, he just knew, that that really was Mary. He knew because the girl that had died and then disappeared let him know, let him keep both sets of memories. The six of them would be the only ones in the world that would know the truth. That Mary had died, not her visiting twin sister. That Faith and Xander weren’t even from this world, let alone really his kids. That they moved from town to town to hunt demons and ghosts, not because wherever Xander went, trouble would follow and Faith would slay it, her daddy and brothers and mother at her side.

John uncocked the gun, put the safety on, and set it on the ground before sweeping Faith to him. She was tense a moment, bad memories from both this life and her past one swamping her before she was clinging to him, breathe hitching. She would cry in her own time, he knew. But not now, not while Xander was in pieces.

A hand hesitantly settled on her head and John twisted a little to see Dean’s conflicted face. Sam would accept because this was the better life and, on some level, the Other that raced through his veins would reach out to the Otherness in his brother and sister. But Dean, Dean who had always followed because John led, who’d fought because he’d loved his mother and wanted to keep his brother safe, and believed that all magic, anything supernatural was more than likely evil, Dean would have to realign his way of thinking to accept a supernaturally gifted sister and a cursed little brother.

One last squeeze and Faith started to wriggle. John set her on her feet as Xander climbed, exhausted, to his. He leaned wearily on Mary, eyes locked on John. The affect of those mismatched eyes was unsettling and had gotten him into more trouble with the hunters that walked too close to the line with madness than even his smart mouth had managed. One green and one brown, they drooped as two lifetimes of loss and hurt pressed in on him.

“Let’s go get some sleep,” John said, ignoring the way Faith went to hold her brother’s hand. Xander wasn’t weak, he just happened to be the weakest of this family. He was also the baby. He got to break first. “We’ve got work to do tomorrow.”

As he led his family out of the cemetery where he and his sons had salted and burned the bones of two abused children that had been murderously haunting fathers, where he’d gained two children and gotten his wife back, he fought at the itch in the back of his mind. There had to be a catch because there always was with magic. John had had one strict belief since his house had burned, taking his…wife’s sister (his Mary) with it. There were no happy endings.

The End

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