What makes Forgiveness
Disclaimer: I don't own SPN or BTVS, and this is written purely for my own entertainment.
A/N: Jumping back in time, so we're set about two years after Faith joined Clan Winchester.
Warning: References to child abuse, but nothing graphic.
It started with the words, “Daddy, I think I’m dying” and before John really knew what was happening, he’d cleaned out the motel room, packed the kids into the car and abandoned his search for a vigilante ghost mid-Hunt. He called Caleb, of course, and asked the other man to come and do the rest of the scut work, but it was easy- John had already narrowed his search to two possibilities.
He told the boys to shut up and stop complaining and invited Faith to sit with him in the front seat- she never got to sit there and she spent the first hundred miles smirking at Dean.
He told her, of course, that she wasn’t dying. He just had no idea what was supposed to come after that and they were practically in Nebraska anyway, so it made sense to go to the Roadhouse bar. He drove all night to get there, stopping only for gas and bathroom breaks, and the kids were sprawled out across the seats when he finally turned into the parking lot.
Dean’s eyes snapped open when he shut off the engine and John turned to his eldest, handing him the keys.
“Keep an eye on your brother and sister. I’ll be back in ten. Don’t get out of the car.”
The sign over the door read ‘Harvelle’s Roadhouse’ and there had been a time that the bar was as familiar to John as the inside of Bobby Singer’s house. But that had been years before, and as far as he knew, Ellen Harvelle still wanted nothing to do with him. He couldn’t blame her for it- he’d been there when her husband, Bill, died and while it wasn’t exactly his fault, John was the only one that Ellen could blame. The monster who’d killed him was dead, and John couldn’t blame her for holding a grudge. Hell, he was holding a grudge against the thing that had killed his own wife and he didn’t even know for sure what it was.
The door was open, despite the early hour, but John didn’t take more than a step inside. The bar was empty; last night’s beer bottles still littering the tables.
“Hello? Ellen? You here?” His gaze drifted, taking in the changes. There weren’t many- a new pool table; some new furniture; a Seal of Solomon to protect against demons on the ceiling above the doorway. Little things.
“I thought I told you never to come here again.” She was just like he remembered- a little older, maybe, but still waving a shotgun and glaring at him like he was the antichrist.
“I wouldn’t, unless I really had to. You know that.”
“Christo.” Checking for demonic possession- made sense. There’d been a time that he would have had to be possessed to cross her threshold again. He walked under the Seal and kept his eyes on her. He also kept his hands raised because Lord knows that Ellen had an itchy trigger finger when it suited her.
“I ain’t a demon, Harvelle. I need a favour.” The woman lowered her weapon slowly, and raised her eyebrows. What the hell did John Winchester want from her that he hadn’t already taken? “I got my daughter Faith in the car. She’s about the same age as Joanna Beth and, well, she needs a woman to talk to.”
There was silence for a moment as what he’d said sank in. Since when did John have a daughter, for starters? Ellen knew as well as anyone that there was no way that John had ever cheated on his wife. No way, no how. She asked as much and he shrugged, sheepish.
“These things happen, Ellen.” Bullshit.
“So, what, you’re recruiting? Dragging your own babies into this goddamn fight isn’t enough for you, you gotta bring someone else’s?” They’d had this fight before, a time or two. John fought down his desire to snap back at her- he needed her and he wouldn’t get anywhere if he started an argument. Or let her start one.
“It’s not like that. Faith’s not… she’s my kid, okay? Every bit as much as Sammy and Dean, she’s my kid.” Whatever she was looking for in him, she must have seen because she finally put the shotgun down on the bar and relaxed, just a fraction.
“And what, exactly, does she need to talk to a woman about? Boys? Breasts?” To Ellen’s delight, big, bad John Winchester flushed a deep red colour.
“Aw, hell, woman, don’t make me say it.” She grinned, wickedly, enjoying his discomfort.
“Oh, I think I wanna hear you say it.”
He watched from across the bar as Ellen and Faith talked, heads bent low together. Beside him, the boys ate their way through a box of fruit loops and a gallon of milk. Sam was heading for a growth spurt, John thought, judging by how much food he’d been eating lately. Dean, too, maybe, though the seventeen year old was already almost six foot tall. The boys didn’t ask and didn’t complain- not even Sam, wonder of wonders- when he’d herded them into the Roadhouse and ushered Faith over to talk to Ellen without telling them why. Neither of them even asked who Ellen was or where they were- just fell on their breakfast as if he’d been starving them. He was sure the questions would come, later. Maybe when they were back in the car.
It didn’t take long, whatever Ellen was talking to her about. They disappeared upstairs for a while and when they came back, Ellen was dragging Jo along with her. The other girl was shorter than Faith, and slighter, and was the image of her daddy- John wasn’t ashamed to admit that his heart clenched at the sight. Bill Harvelle, in the form of a blonde eleven year old girl. The glare the girl wore was one hundred per cent Ellen, though, and when she leveled it at him, he almost flinched. Almost, because grown men do not flinch away from little children.
“Jo, this is my friend John and his boys Dean and Sam. Boys, this is my girl Jo. She’s going to show you where you’ll be staying.” John couldn’t hide his own surprise and saw it mirrored in his sons. Faith was grinning, though.
“Boys, go with Jo.”
“How long we staying?” Sam grumped, directing his question at his father, but it was Ellen who answered.
“I say three, maybe four days.” John groaned and the kids glared at him, but moved, following the girl out of the bar and into the back rooms- he’d stayed there plenty of times before, but never with his kids. He didn’t like the Roadhouse crowd when they were younger, but maybe now would be okay. He knew they’d make him pay for it later, because they all hated staying in the tiny towns, or the off-the-road motels and you couldn’t find more out-of-the-way-middle-of-nowhere than the Roadhouse.
Besides, it wasn’t as if he had a choice in the matter- Ellen had that look in her eye that said she’d skin him alive if he tried to defy her. And it might be good for the boys to spend some time around a woman that they couldn’t charm with a grin and a wink.
“She okay?” Safer to keep the conversation on the kid than to try and ask Ellen how’d she’d been all these years.
“She’s fine.” Ellen slid into the seat opposite him, keeping her eyes on the backroom, making sure the kids were gone.; trusting John to watch the front door over her shoulder, just like old times. “I stopped being angry with you a long time ago, Johnny. If you need anything else for that girl, you come right back here, you hear?” It wasn’t a question, not really. John felt a weight lifting that he hadn’t even really known was there. God, there were things that he wasn’t prepared to deal with yet.
“Thank you.” He meant it, too. “I wasn’t sure… there was a lot of bad things done to that kid and I wasn’t sure she’d ever…well. You know. So thank you.” Ellen frowned, equal parts concerned and furious, but she didn’t question him further. She didn’t need to- she knew what he meant and she wasn’t sure she wanted to know any more.
He’d done some research, after Faith came to live with him. She’d been through a lot and he’d wanted to know what was coming down the line. He’d needed to know; needed to be able to prepare as best he could. That hadn’t quite worked, obviously, but he was relieved to know that she wasn’t… damaged. Inside. Things were working the way things were supposed to work. He reddened, a little, even just thinking about it.
They sat in silence for a minute or two, but it wasn’t as awkward as he thought it would be.
“She also told me to tell you that she owes Dean twenty bucks- he’d bet her that you’d do something like this. Apparently, she got her first period a couple of months ago.” His mouth dropped open and he gaped, even as Ellen laughed. “You sure have got your work cut out for you, Johnny.”