So. It's been almost a year. Real life threw me a couple of nasty curve balls, but I am finally getting my ass back on track for this story. I am so
sorry it took so long to update.A/N 2:
The amazing sarbear
did some lovely wallpapers for Heal the Scars, here
. Go tell her how awesome they are!A/N 3: AHewlett
has really gone beyond the call of duty in being awesome. Jsyk. Not only has she done some absolutely gorgeous chapter images (found inserted into the story), but she also did a stunning wallpaper
of the Winchester/Summers family. Thank you so, so much, honey!A/N 4:
Last one, I promise. This year I'm participating in wishlist_fic
- and I still need six more prompts. If you've ever wanted to ask me to write something specific, now's your chance. (And apparently I'm also accepting AUs and codas to things I've already written, if you are dying for a missing scene from HtS.) Check out the entry here
.◊◊◊February 1989. Lawrence, Kansas.John fingered the red earring box slowly, popping the lid open to look at the jewelry inside. When he had bought them it had seemed like a brilliant idea, but as Valentines Day inched closer, John had to wonder if the earrings were something Mary would even like. She rarely wore earrings anymore, so much that her little rows of piercings looked like they were starting to heal over.Unfortunately, it was far too late to try and find a replacement gift. And the earrings had taken a pretty decent bite out of his paycheck, especially when hunting down garnets of their size and clarity. Flipping the lid shut, he slid the box back into his pocket and exited the Impala, making his way up to the house."Daddy!" Dean shouted, jumping off the arm of the couch. John scrambled to catch him, hefting Dean up and into his arms as he chucked. Dean was such a fearless little kid."Hey, buddy," John greeted, returning the hug just as strong."John?" Mary called, stepping into the kitchen doorway. White flour dusted the bridge of her nose and John hid his grin at the sight. "I thought you wouldn't be home for another hour.""That a problem?" John asked while stepping closer."No, of course not," Mary laughed, coming to meet him with a kiss. "I just would have started dinner earlier if I had known.""It was kind of a last minute thing," John shrugged. "Mike wanted to go home and–"Mary snorted. "Lies. Kate's been planning to go out for Valentines Day. Mike wouldn't want go home to that chaos early.""Alright, so you caught me," John smiled sheepishly. "Mike was actually pretty pissed that I let everyone out early.""That sounds more like it," Mary grinned back at him, pecking another kiss on his cheek before returning to the kitchen. "But I'm glad you're home all the same. Dean seems to think that pie tastes just as good raw as is does cooked," she called back at them."Is that right?" John asked, raising an eyebrow in Dean's direction.Dean beamed at him. "Cherry pie, daddy!""And I'm sure you've gotten your hand in the filling already," John concluded, shifting a hand to tickle Dean's stomach. "You probably don't even want to eat dinner, do you?"Dean couldn't answer, his face flushed with laughter as he pushed ineffectually at John's hand. "Da– daddy!" Dean squealed. "St– sto– stop it!"John sighed dramatically but stopped, letting Dean return to the floor. After a few heaving breaths, Dean's face screwed up in concentration as he tackled John's legs. "Oh, you got me!" John groaned, dropping to the floor so Dean could get a better position.Dean giggled as he moved astride John's stomach, little legs scrambling up to knock against John's pocket. Dean shined a curious look at the squarish lump and immediately dug his hand down John's pants, pulling out the red earring box."Hey, Dean, that's for your ma, buddy," John said, reaching for the box. Dean was just a little bit faster than him, scrambling from his position and speeding into the kitchen."Mama! Daddy's got a present for you!" he shouted."A present, hmn?" Mary asked, right before he could hear her breath catch. "Dean, is this–?""It's from daddy!" Dean announced brightly.John had made it to the kitchen doorway, leaning against the frame as Mary wiped her hands off on a towel before reaching for the small box. Her eyes lit up as she opened it, a wide smile splitting her face as she laughed."John, they're beautiful," Mary said breathlessly. "Wait, how much did they cost? We can't aff–""Doesn't matter," John replied, stepping into the kitchen. "They were worth it."Mary bit her lip before letting it go, asking, "This is garnet, right? I've never seen garnets this bright."John shrugged slightly, curling an arm around Mary's waist. "It's your birthstone. I wanted to get something special. The silver matches your wedding rings."Mary blinked before pulling her hand up for comparison, her smile even brighter as she confirmed his words. "Thank you," she murmured, hand curling around the back of his neck. She rose up on her toes to kiss him, a warm press of lips and a curl of tongue that had his toes clenching. "Thank you," she laughed again, peppering kisses over his face."And thank you too, baby," Mary announced, swooping down to press a kiss to Dean's nose. Dean giggled and grabbed onto her wrist, taking a look at the earrings himself."You know, Dean's birthstone is garnet too," Mary said slowly, shooting John a contemplative look."I don't think Dean's ready for earrings," John said dryly, knowing that Mary wasn't really considering piercing Dean's ears.Mary laughed, shaking her head. "No, I just had an idea.""You gonna share with the class?"Mary bit her lip. "Not yet. Let me see if I can do it first, okay?" She picked Dean up and came back to kiss him warmly, sneakily shifting Dean into his arms. "Alright, out! I've got a dinner to finish." She whipped the towel around to hit John's butt, smiling as he left the kitchen laughing.◊◊◊December 2012. San Francisco, California.
It was hard to keep his eyes off them.
Dean watched as his father carefully pulled his hand from Buffy's grip, dropping it onto her thigh. She didn't seem to mind, leaning back into the cradle of his body with a heavy yawn, barely finding the presence of mind to cover her mouth.
Not like anyone here would care
, of course, but Dean had pegged her for being a little bit more conscious of that type of thing.
"Told you I was tired," Buffy said, her eyes fluttering shut as she used John's shoulder as a pillow. She was way more comfortable with John than Dean would have predicted, a lazy sprawl of trust that shouldn't have been possible
"I guess it's my turn," John said softly, tilting his head just enough to brush against Buffy's, the blonde of her hair contrasting with the greying black of his beard.
Buffy hummed agreeably, leaning into John just a fraction more, her hand blindly groping for his and giving it an encouraging squeeze.
"We met in July 1984 - I don't actually remember the exact day," John offered. "You were hitchhiking and I was returning to Lawrence with some used car parts."
Buffy opened her eyes in surprise. "Well, that's comforting. So you know pretty much everything that happened during my missing years, right? Right up until Yellowbelly tried to shish kebab and flambé me?"
Dean tensed involuntarily; he could see Sammy and his father doing the same. It didn't matter that she was here now
, all three of them had bad memories or nightmares concerning that night that wouldn't go away with a wave of a magic hand. And her making light of it wasn't helping.
John tightened his arms around her, his head dipping down as his voice turned rough. "Yes."
"You wanna help fill in some blanks?" Buffy asked lightly, even as John closed his eyes in pain. "Because I'm curious as hell as to how he got the drop on me."
"Dad–" Dean broke in, because hell
, it looked as if his father wanted to bite off his own tongue rather than go over this again. God only knew how many times he had avoided the subject before. But he didn't want John to close down on her either.
Buffy flicked her eyes over to him, noting his white knuckled grip and the tense hunch of his shoulders. She had every right to know what had happened that night, but Dean knew that none of them were going to want to tell her. And he wasn't sure how to explain that, to make it clear that it wasn't her
, it was them
that had the problem.
"Ah," she hummed knowingly. "Right. It can wait," she curled her hand on top of John's, stroking a thumb across his skin. "So, Lawrence, as in Kansas? Or Nebraska?"
Dean let out a relieved breath that she seemed to get it
without having to be told. Since she had rattled off their old address earlier, he knew she was aware of which Lawrence his father had referred to.
"Kansas," Sam answered, watching their parents intently as John's shoulders started to relax at the abrupt change of subject.
"Of the ruby slippers fame," John offered, visibly trying to push his own dark thoughts away. "You actually had a pair of bright red shoes somewhere in that mess you called a closet."
Dean smiled faintly as a faded memory curled up from the depths of his mind. He remembered those shoes. Remembered his mother dancing around the living room with little baby Sammy in her arms. God, he hadn't thought of that in years.
"I like my organized chaos, thanks very much," Buffy remarked dryly. "I'll bet I was able find whatever I wanted when I needed it."
A rusty chuckle escaped John's mouth. "No bet; you'd win. The entire house was organized with your brand of chaos. Everything except for the garage, which I managed to keep sufficiently ordered."
"Kept my grubby mitts off it, hmn?" Buffy smiled. "Probably a good thing."
"Not quite," John replied. "When I said I'd teach you how to take care of a car, I meant
it. You knew how to change the oil and rotate the tires and keep that truck in working condition, but you said you preferred if I did it. Something about looking good–" John cut himself off abruptly, a barely noticeable flush in his cheeks.
Buffy leaned away from him, her eyes raking up and down his frame speculatively. "I can see that. I bet you'd look great on your knees."
Dean had a sudden rush of sympathy for Dawn, even as Bobby coughed suspiciously, as if to keep from laughing.
John grunted, tugging Buffy back into a more comfortable position. "Yeah. Something like that."
"How is this so easy for you?" Sam demanded suddenly, and Dean looked back at his brother, noting the tight grip he had on Jess' hand. "How can you smile and– You said you don't remember
and you just—"
"You're right," Buffy said bluntly, cutting into Sam's tirade before he could really get going. "I don't remember. But do not think this is easy
for me." Her eyes had gone chillier, reminiscent of the expression her daughter had worn when arguing with John.
"It sure looks like it," Sam replied darkly, dipping his head just enough that his bangs hooded his eyes ominously. "We're nothing
to you. If you don't remember then why the fuck have you opened your doors to three strange men? Do you just take in people off the streets and—"
"Sam!" John barked, eyes dark and warning him from going any further, an almost surefire way to raise Sam's hackles more.
Dean held his breath as his eyes darted back and forth between his parents and his brother, not sure whether to intervene or to let them fight it out.
"It's okay, John," Buffy said, patting his arm soothingly, even as she kept her eyes on Sam. "To answer your questions, yes, I, or rather, the IWC does take people in off the streets. Often, in fact. And you should be glad that we do, otherwise Jess wouldn't be here."
Sam flinched backwards.
"I'm not expecting thanks," Buffy continued, "Because I— we
don't do it for thanks. I open Council's doors to people who have been screwed over by the supernatural all the time. By that alone, you would have been welcome here." She paused, snorting. "In fact, one of my subordinates wanted to offer you —all three of you, I mean— a job. However. That is not the reason why I
have opened my
doors to you now.
"I'll admit it - this is pretty fucking strange, even by my standards. I'm not usually this complacent about inviting virtual strangers into into my home. In fact, if I had known exactly what had happened inside that hospital back in June? We wouldn't be here having this conversation. John would be prison. Life imprisonment without parole. And depending on how everything had gone down, you and your brother might have been there with him."
"What—?" Sam asked, eyes gone wide. "I— Why?"
Buffy's smile was more of a baring of teeth. "Every single man who has claimed to be Dawnie's father has tried to kill her. We've pretty much ran the gamut, everything from drowning to suffocating and a few more besides. I don't bother trying to learn the why
these days, I just take care of the problem."
"So why are you letting us in, then? Why are you even bothering to try
?" Sam demanded, a barely noticeable tremor in his voice.
Buffy softened gradually, relaxing back into John even as he remained deathly still behind her. "Three things, sweetheart," she said softly, eyes warm and gently sad again. "The first one is that I lost some memories, not my emotions. I still loved shoe shopping and hated country music after the accident. And much to my surprise, I loved playing pool and seemed to distrust my mother more than ever. Whatever was done to me didn't take away how I felt
"Right now? Sitting right here? I feel safe. Cherished. I feel like I'm finally home
. Which is surprising, for reasons that I'd rather not get into, but I trust
my gut. It gets me out of the problems my head gets me into. And I'm damn well going to listen to it."
Dean watched as his father blinked in rapid succession, eyes shining suspiciously, as if he were holding back tears. He almost felt like joining him, but he'd already gone through enough chick flick moments this week to last him a year. It was... heartening, however, to learn that Buffy felt something
. That the trust she was showing had some basis in reality, a flimsy basis, maybe, but it wasn't an act
"Mary—" John said, his voice coming out as a hoarse rasp.
"Shh," she returned gently, twisting her body sideways to brush her thumb across his lips. "Not finished." Buffy took a moment to readjust herself in John's lap, drawing her feet up to tuck them under a couch cushion and curling an arm around John's neck. "Six months ago," she began again, "Dawnie finally got around to sorting through the boxes we had packed away after my mother passed away.
"I didn't know about it until recently, but she found some old pictures of a baby she didn't recognize. And because my daughter is a nosy busybody who thinks she should know everyone that Joyce did, she started looking for more information on the little boy that was in those photos." She paused, biting at her lip for a second before saying, "Let me up for a second, John, I need to go get something."
"Dean will get it," John commanded, arms cinching just a bit tighter around her.
Dean stood automatically, responding to the implied command, but found himself hesitating as he saw his mother's surprise, her brow furrowing as her mouth opened to reply.
"It's okay, I don't mind," he said quickly, trying to stave off what he thought might be the beginning of another argument. They didn't need any more of those right now. "Just tell me where."
"My desk," Buffy said, glancing back between him and his father for a second. "The manilla file folder that's got a big green paperclip holding it shut. It should be sitting on top of a big red book on the left side."
Dean nodded in understanding before making the short walk back to where he had seen a desk in her bedroom. The folder was right where she said it was and as he exited the room again he couldn't help but glance back at Dawn, who was still out cold despite how loud Sammy's voice had gotten. For a brief moment he wondered what would happen when she woke up, if she would— He shoved the thought down as quickly as it came. There was no use worrying about it right then.
"Go ahead and open it up," Buffy told him as he got closer, her fingers tapping an irregular rhythm against her knee.
Dean did as he was told, sliding the paperclip off and dropping it to hit the glass table with a metallic ping, flipping the folder open and feeling his heart jump to his throat.
He had expected to see the baby pictures she had mentioned; baby pictures of Sammy, since that's who she had asked about when he had run into her this morning.
He hadn't expected to see himself. But there he was anyways, sitting on his obviously pregnant mom's lap, head tucked in against her stomach and listening for his baby brother. He carefully picked up one of the old instant Polaroids, fingering the yellowed edges and wondering how in the hell his mother had gotten a hold of them. Most of their photos had been lost in the fire, stored in photo albums that his mom had kept in Sammy's nursery. That was why it had been so weird
to have Jenny find photos of them in the basement of their old house—
"Ah, I forgot those photos weren't on the top," Buffy said, breaking through his thoughts. "These are the ones Dawnie found last week. And they're what prompted her to share her findings."
Sam shifted on the ground, an almost jittery movement that told Dean he wanted to look but wasn't sure he'd be welcome. Dean rolled his shoulders and then gently set the folder down on the table, spreading the photos out enough for everyone to see. There were ten in all, four taken in what he assumed was dad's auto garage, and six of a baby that was very clearly him
, not his brother.
"You've got to be shitting me," Bobby said, staring at the photo blankly. "You mean the photos she was swearing at were of John
Dean whipped his head over to Bobby, wondering just what had happened for Bobby
of all people to know about these photos, but was distracted as Buffy answered him.
"And Dean," Buffy corrected, nodding her head in the direction of the photos. "And if I don't miss my guess, I'm pregnant with Sam in these pictures too."
"Four months or so," John said, voice rough and eyes just a little too wide. "These were taken before Dean's birthday. Mike had taken the week off because his daughter had gotten real sick and—" he cut himself off abruptly, closing his eyes and tilting his head back.
"But Dawn was so surprised that you'd been married—" Bobby started, only to clamp his jaw shut.
Dean wasn't sure or not if he wanted to know what the rest of that sentence would have been.
"Yeah, about that," Buffy said, running a hand through her ponytail nervously. "Slayers don't get married. Ever. We die young, and we die alone. Getting married was something I always wanted, but I had pretty much given up on it ever happening by the time I turned twenty." She hesitated, then added, "But then again, Slayers aren't supposed to be able to get pregnant, either."◊◊◊
Buffy felt John tense again, eyes unfocused as he stared at one of the photos.
"You said that," he whispered under his breath, quiet enough that she was probably the only who heard him. "You told me that you couldn't get pregnant, that you were sterile."
"It was what I was told," Buffy shrugged, trying to stay nonchalant. "Merrick —my first watcher— told me that all Slayers were incapable of getting pregnant when he was trying to shut down my plans for the future. And as far as anyone knew, the only way for a Slayer to have a child was for her to have been pregnant before
she was called. When she was a Potential.
"Seeing as how I had been a Slayer for about twelve years by the time Council learned about my pregnancy with Dawn... There were quite a few calls for them to give me an abortion while I was so out of it. They thought I had been raped, used as an incubator for demon spawn."
When John held her closer, arms tightening around her waist for the umpteenth time, Buffy didn't have to pretend this time, didn't have to keep herself from tensing. She soaked in the comfort, knowing how fucking close
she had come to losing her daughter and not even being aware of it. If it hadn't been for Willow raising hell about the recommended abortion, with Xander closely following her lead, Dawn likely wouldn't have been born.
"You— you weren't—?" Dean asked, so hesitantly, so quietly
, as if he was treading on eggshells, and it took Buffy a moment to understand what he was asking.
"No, Dean," she assured him. "I was not, nor have I ever been raped."
An almost invisible tension seeped out of John's embrace.
"Dawn said—" Sam started, only to stop as Dean shot him a dark look.
"I can imagine what Dawn said," Buffy said truthfully. "It was a cover story that had been perpetuated for about five years before I started caring about things beyond my memories. It's on the so called official report that quack of a doctor made before Tara took over my case, which means that enough people have seen it and taken it as truth. I don't approve, but Dawn finds that it is an excellent way to shut down doctors and nurses who want the glory of discovering who her father is."
And that was as much as she wanted to talk about that. She didn't mind explaining things about her life —even though she'd much rather listen to things about theirs
— but she drew the line at handing out information that could potentially hurt her daughter.
She trusted John and, by extension, his —her
— sons... to a point. That point didn't include her daughter. Especially with the odd feeling she got when John had asked Dean to retrieve her pictures. She couldn't quite put her finger on it, but something about that exchange had seemed... off, for lack of a better word.
"So," she said abruptly, trying to change the subject, "I've been blathering on about me. Tell me about you."
"You said three things," Sam said quickly, eyes darting over to Dean's, a hint of defiance in his gaze, "But you only mentioned two."
And hadn't that been a mistake on her part. Because even though her third reason was the most solid, it wasn't really hers to talk about. It was Jess'. And Jess didn't even know—
Well. That probably wasn't true. Jess had believed she was Mary long before Buffy had even known of the possibility. Quite a few of their conversations made a bit more sense now, so Jess probably did
know that she was carrying Buffy's granddaughter. She had probably known as soon as she had been made aware that she was pregnant.
Buffy swept her eyes across the room to avoid looking directly at Jess, seeing the interested body language of Bobby, the desperate hope in John's eyes, the trusting belief in Dean's small smile and the wary uncertainty in Sam's face. When she got to Jess, who was staring directly at her, she received a small shrug of her shoulders and a quick nod.
"Sam," Jess said, tugging on their twined hands and drawing the attention of everyone else in the room.
Sam immediately tilted his head back, looking up at her with a clear question in his eyes.
Jess bit her lip, glancing back at Buffy for a second before she firmed her jaw, enunciating clearly, "I'm pregnant."◊◊◊
Sam didn't keep his eyes from widening, his mouth going dry as he registered Jess' words with a stunned wonder.
"Are you—" he viciously bit down on the word sure
—knowing that was the single worst question in the world he could have asked— substituting it quickly with, "okay? Is— Everything's alright?" He got to his knees, turning to kneel before her and placing his hands on her lower thighs.
Jess nodded, looking a bit unsure and Sam stomped on the hysterical laughter bubbling in his throat.
"Oh my god," Sam said, because he was twenty-fucking-two
and the girlfriend he'd thought had died a year ago was alive and pregnant
, and they'd talked about children of course, but that had been a very, very
distant idea, for after he'd proposed and they'd gotten married and both finished college and had a stable income to take care of a child and— "Oh my god."
"The third reason," Buffy–Mary–whatever-the-fuck-she-was-going-to-call herself said, breaking in over his rambling thoughts, "Is that the safety net put up by the IWC recognized that Jess was pregnant with a Potential, and pulled her out of danger."
Sam could hear the capitals in that word, knew what Buffy had explained just hours ago about Potentials and Slayers and didn't want to think about it
"And when Ari was doing Jess' twelve week check up, she discovered that Jess' baby was from my Slayer line. The only way for that to have happened was if Jess was my daughter or if the baby's father was my son. Well, we already knew Jess wasn't my daughter, since we had done blood testing on her to try and figure out someone to contact about her condition. That only left one option."
"That's why you asked if Sam was my full brother," Dean said, sounding like he was talking to himself, and although Sam was curious he was still trying to work through the knowledge that he was going to be a father.
"Sam?" Jess asked, and she looked– worried, or afraid
, and Jesus fucking Christ, why would she be afraid of him
Sam surged upward —hating that look on her face, hating that he
somehow had to have put it there, because there was no mistaking it for anything else— and kissed
her, not the tentative pecks or chaste kisses they had shared since being reunited, but an absolute claiming of her mouth, because she was his
and he wasn't fucking going to let go, not over this, not over anything.
"Oh, man, get a room, Sammy," Dean said, and Sam could hear the grimace in his voice.
Jess broke away from the kiss to giggle into his shoulder, arms wrapped around his neck and any lingering hesitance in her frame gone.
"Shit, this means I'm going to be an uncle," Dean said, surprise threading through his tone, and Sam turned just enough to see their father cuffing him upside the head.
"Congratulations, son," Bobby said, taking off his hat and nodding in their direction.
"I— thank you," Sam said, not sure what to do with that, because congratulations
didn't seem like the right word, not when this hadn't been planned, not when there was still so much fucking wrong
, when Jess was still hurt and when his dad was blindly trusting this woman that looked like his mom—
"Congratulations, Sam," John said, and it wasn't sarcastic
, and wasn't that sad? That this fuck-up —only, it wasn't
a fuck-up, because it was Jess and this wasn't something he was ever going to regret, no fucking way— was the first time Sam could remember his father giving him honest praise?
He wasn't going to cry.
"Hey," Buffy said, and she was suddenly bending down next to him, and he wanted to know how the hell she had gotten away from his father, because it had looked like he wasn't ever going to let her go. "Are you
Sam looked up at her from his position on his knees, his voice cracking like it hadn't done since he was a teenager, "Just because I want to believe doesn't mean I can."
He wanted to believe this wasn't a dream —it was almost too crazy
to be a dream— but there was still that lingering doubt, that lingering uncertainty that he had finally broken and that this was nothing more than his desperate hopes playing out before him.
"Oh, Sam, honey," she said, looking like she was going to cry herself, lifting a hand to push a lock of his hair behind his ear.
Jess lifted an arm from his neck and held it out to his mother, who took it with a well practiced ease, sliding in next to Jess on the couch and giving him just enough time to back away if he wanted.
He didn't move.
She wrapped him in a tight hug, arms strong and firm as they wrapped around his chest, and Sam leaned into her, barely registering as Jess' other arm left his neck to comb her fingers through his hair.
"It's going to be okay," she whispered, and he hadn't really believed it when she had said the same thing to his father, even though he'd wanted to trust her and let someone else make the hard decisions.
But this time... he thought he was starting to.