Willow and Xander pointedly avoided making eye contact with anyone during the walk back to the motel but even though they kept their eyes lowered, they could both still feel the gaze of the senior Winchesters fixed on them.
As they walked, both Xander and Willow were frantically trying to figure out what had happened. It was obvious that John, Dean, and Sam knew something about vampires and the supernatural in general, judging from the weaponry they were all carrying and the fact that Dean had shot one of the vampires that was attacking the teenagers with a crossbow he was carrying. Willow had briefly contemplated the thought that John was a Watcher but then she had discounted the idea. John Winchester didn’t seem the type to be a Watcher... not from Willow’s limited experience of the organization, anyway.
Xander, on the other hand, was convinced that he’d taken a blow to the head at some point during the fight and was therefore hallucinating the entire situation because it seemed to be the most likely answer. The chances of the three senior members of the Winchester family also actually being aware of the existence of the supernatural and knowing how to fight against it seemed to be fairly remote, after all.
In contrast to his younger siblings, Adam was actively trying to establish eye contact with John, Dean, and Sam as well as Xander and Willow. It was painfully obvious that he was still struggling to come to terms with what he had just witnessed. John was ignoring his middle child but Dean shot Adam a sympathetic look, knowing that his younger brother’s world was about to be turned upside down. Sam put a supportive hand on Adam’s shoulder, but shook his head when Adam opened his mouth to ask for an explanation.
“Later... when we’re inside,” Sam told him and Adam snapped his mouth shut, catching the warning look that Sam was giving him. Adam looked in John’s direction and cringed slightly when he saw the look on John’s face and the glare he was sending towards his youngest two offspring. It was then that Adam decided that Sam had the right idea and it would be best if he just kept his mouth shut and instead asked the questions that were burning his mind when John wasn’t around.
Sam and Dean, for their part, were glad when the group crossed the motel car park. Both of them were curious about how Willow and Xander knew about the supernatural... and it was obvious that the youngest two members of the family did know something about the supernatural... the way they had fought and the absence of surprise on their faces (up until they spotted the elder Winchesters) indicated that this was, by no means, the first time they had fought against vampires. This was even more apparent when Sam and Dean mentally compared the expressions on Willow and Xander’s faces and the look on Adam’s face.
John sped up a little and unlocked the door, holding it open for the rest of the family. Once Dean, who had been the last one through, was safely inside, John slammed the door and Xander and Willow both flinched at the noise.
“So... do either one of you want to explain what the hell you were doing?” John asked. Xander and Willow exchanged a nervous look.
“Those guys... they just came up to us... They must have been on some form of PCP or something...” Xander began until John glared at him, causing Xander to fade off rather quickly.
“I know what they were, Xander, so don’t try and bullshit your way out of this,” John growled. “How the hell did you know they were vampires? And more importantly, how the hell did you know how to kill them?”
“Well... the bumpy foreheads, the golden eyes and the fangs kind of gave it away,” Xander told them, “and, well, the whole attack-the-teenagers-in-the-park thing helped us jump to the vampire conclusion.”
“Not what I meant and you know it. Now is not the time to be a smartass, Xander,”
“What do you guys know about the Hellmouth?” Willow asked, involving herself before Xander and John started arguing... not that Willow could blame Xander for stuffing around. John was obviously angry and when he was angry, he reminded Willow, and definitely Xander as well, of a certain Tony Harris. When Willow was around his stepfather, Xander had a habit of drawing Tony’s ire to protect Willow and Xander had, obviously, decided to use the same tactic with John, even though Willow doubted that John was going to become violent. She didn’t think any of the others would let things escalate that badly.
“Mystical portal between Earth and a hell dimension...Never actually seen one,” John replied.
“Right... as well as serving as a potential gateway between earth and a hell dimension, a Hellmouth also produces dark energy that attracts all sorts of things... vampires, demons, forces of darkness... whatever.”
John nodded and Dean looked at Sam, who was also nodding, having obviously stumbled across the term while researching for a hunt.
“And you have been to a Hellmouth... Sunnydale is a Hellmouth... it’s right beneath our high school library. It’s closed, for the moment, so it’s not doing its portal thing but it’s still putting out dark energy, bringing demons and stuff closer.”
“Still doesn’t explain how you know all this,” John growled.
“We’re getting there... what do you know about Slayers?” Xander asked.
John shrugged. “Not much, I always thought they were myths.”
“Oh, they exist alright,” Willow smiled. “Into every generation a Slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a Chosen One. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.”
“You do know it’s creepy that you’ve memorized that,” Xander told Willow in a undertone.
Willow just shrugged in reply. “I like it... it sums everything up, lets you tell people where you stand.”
“Are... are you the Slayer?” John asked Willow, his face paling, and his voice croaking slightly. Willow and Xander, however, both snorted.
“No, it’s not me... we’re friends with her, though, and we help out with the slaying and the research and sometimes we get to be bait. Some of the time, we’re just there for emotional support but yeah, we’re her sidekicks.”
“The Scooby gang, that’s us,” Xander put in with a grin. Dean shook his head, burying his face in his hands.
“Why am I doomed to be the only cool member of my family? The Scooby gang, seriously? What are you guys... like five?”
Sam pointedly ignored the comment, focusing instead on his father and youngest siblings.
“How long have you been doing that for... helping the Slayer?” John asked.
Willow shrugged. “Six months, give or take a few weeks.”
“We helped avert an apocalypse a few weeks ago... that was a bit of a highlight,” Xander chimed in, remembering proudly that he had been the one to resuscitate Buffy... and not Angel.
“We’ve done other bits and pieces too, since we started,” Willow added. “We usually help out on patrol three or four times a week... more often if there’s something going on that we need to look into... and I always help out the Watcher for about an hour after school... researching on the internet, looking up books... you know, Watcher stuff. It’s not always apocalypses and all that... is that right? The plural for apocalypse? Is it apocalypses or apocaclypsi?” Willow babbled. Xander discreetly nudged her in the ribs with his elbow and Willow clamped her lips shut.
“How much training have you had?” John asked.
“Er...training?” Xander asked. “Like, as in, physical training?”
“Yeah,” John said. “Like fighting, weapons practice... drills, sparring... that kind of deal.”
“Our training... It’s kind of... on the job,” Willow admitted. “Although, it’s effective... I can run so much further now compared to at the start.”
“I’m surprised our P.E. teacher hasn’t said something... although knowing people on the Hellmouth... I’m kind of not,” Xander added. “Occasionally, I help B... uh, the Slayer with her sparring but that’s really it, as far as training goes.”
“Six months... the boy that died... the one you were friends with, but he died,” Sam butted in, connecting the dots. It was good timing because John looked like he was about to blow a blood vessel. Dean did not want to be the Slayer or her Watcher when Willow and Xander went back home. John looked ready to kill.
At Sam’s comment, Willow’s gaze dropped and Xander looked away pointedly. “He was turned into a vampire... I had to stake him,” Xander said in a toneless voice. Willow put her hand on his shoulder.
“That was that night we found out about everything... I almost got kidnapped too but Xander and the Slayer... you don’t mind if we keep her identity a secret, do you?... they saved me but we couldn’t save Jesse.”
John felt his heart clench sympathetically. It must have been hard for Xander to have to kill his best friend... or rather, the demon that was wearing his best friend’s body so soon after finding out about the supernatural’s existence. Even now, after so many years, John shuddered at the idea of having to deal with Bobby or even, God forbid, one of the boys, if they were turned.
An uncomfortable silence reigned in the room as each member of the Winchester family, both new and old, thought about how hard it would have been to have to do what Xander had done.
“By the way, those vampires tonight... they were fledglings... except for maybe that second one that you were fighting, Xander, he might have been older,” Willow said, breaking the silence.
“Yeah... they were still all newbie-ish,” Xander agreed, dragging himself from his thoughts. There was a sadness in his eyes still but he looked better than he had five minutes before.
“How can you tell... with no training?” John asked, his anger coming to the surface again, although it wasn’t aimed at Xander and Willow... but rather at whichever idiot that let them take an active role in hunting without training them first... the one who had thrown them into this situation. John knew from what Bobby had told him that Slayers were generally teenagers about the same age as Willow and Xander were and John felt no resentment towards that kid but John also knew that Slayers were supervised by adults known as Watchers... and John thought a Watcher should know better than to let two teenagers get involved in the war against the forces of darkness without giving them proper training. It was the Watcher who John’s anger was directed towards.
“Er... if they weren’t fledglings, we’d probably be sporting more injuries than we are and chances are we’d be dead,” Xander told them, as though the answer was obvious.
“Anyway... how do you guys know about the supernatural?” Willow asked, deciding that the conversation had been focused on her and Xander for too long and that they needed to turn the tables on the senior Winchesters. Sam and Dean both looked at John, wondering how open he was going to be with the younger members of the family while Adam, standing beside Sam, looked from John to Xander and Willow and back at John, trying to keep track of what was going on.
“My wife was murdered by a demon when Sam was six months old... I’ve been hunting demons and the like ever since.”
“You’re a hunter?” Xander echoed in amazement, a smile spreading across his face. Willow’s eyes had gone similarly wide.
“Yeah, we all are... except for Adam... he kind of didn’t know anything about this until tonight. I guess the cat’s out of the bag now,” Dean pointed out. John shot a look sideways at Adam, who looked rather pale, and inwardly winced. Even though he had never wanted Adam to find out about the supernatural, John had always known that it was likely his third son would find out about it eventually and John had put a great deal of thought into how he was going to break the news.
Suffice to say, things were not going the way John planned them to. For instance, John had planned on being calm and in control of his emotions what he talked to the younger members of his family, gently and carefully breaking the news that the things that they had feared during their childhood... the monster under the bed, the beings that made things go bang in the night... that they were all real.
John guiltily knew that instead he was angry and had overreacted to Xander and Willow’s situation. A glance at the youngest members of his family told John that Xander was on edge... eyeing him wearily, as if John was about to lash out violently towards him or Willow. Willow was studying her shoes intently, hiding behind a curtain of red hair, although John could tell from the stiffness in her shoulders that Willow was tense and possibly even scared... of him. John let out a sigh, forcing himself to calm down.
John could easily trace his emotions back to the moment he walked into the park, drawn by the sound of Adam yelling, and saw the three teenagers, backed up against the brick wall, trying to fight off a group of hungry vampires. In that single moment, fear had seized John and he had lost the ability to move.
He had watched, helpless as Dean had shot one of the vampires in the back with the crossbow he was loading, causing it to disappear in an explosion of ash and evening up the fight. In his mind, John saw Willow getting thrown over the table, Sam beginning to run forward to save his baby sister but then skidding to a stop when Willow had grabbed the branch and used it to kill the vampire, just as Xander rammed his stake into the chest of the vampire he had been fighting. Even though his heart had still been enveloped in fear... because John had known just from seeing that brief fight, that Xander and Willow were by no means strangers to the family business, John had felt pride well up within him at the conduct of his two youngest children. While their style might have been a little unorthodox and their experience lacking, there had no doubt about Xander and Willow’s primary objective, which was to protect Adam. John couldn’t fault his youngest children’s desire to protect Adam... he even admired it.
The whole situation had forced John to learn about his younger offspring, especially Xander and Willow. They were brave, possibly foolishly so, but John recognized that it did take courage to accept the knowledge that the supernatural was real and make the decision to fight it, knowing that you would be fighting beings that were almost always stronger than you were, and there was a high degree of possibility that you would end up dead because of it. Not many people had that courage and John now knew that Willow and Xander had it in spades.
Of course, John wasn’t entirely sure whether or not he was entirely pleased about this. Hunting demons wasn’t an occupation that promised a long and healthy life and there was a part of him that had hoped that his younger children would grow up to have long, happy, healthy and normal lives.
John turned his gaze to Willow and Xander, who were still sitting side by side, looking up at him with mildly apprehensive looks on their faces, and sighed. John doubted that either of the two would ever be able to call their lives normal, even if they gave up their current lifestyle... something which John knew from the determined glint in Willow’s eyes and the slight pout on Xander’s face that reminded John forcibly of Sam was unlikely to happen.
As for the Hellmouth and Xander and Willow’s homes above it, John felt powerless. He knew, from a legal perspective, that he had no rights as far as his youngest children were concerned... and there was little chance of him ever getting any. Willow’s parents had money... enough money to get the best lawyers, ones that John could never dream of affording while no judge in the world would give custody to a man of John’s less than reputable history, considering his unfixed address and the criminal record John knew he had, when Willow’s biological mother was rich, healthy, a famous childhood psychologist, and could provide everything Willow could ever want. As for the Harrises, there was a chance that Jessica would give her parental rights up to John if it meant getting Xander away from both herself and from Tony Harris but John instinctively knew that unless he was bringing Willow with him, there was no way Xander would leave Sunnydale permanently.
John knew that he couldn’t forcibly take Xander and Willow away from their homes... they would resent him for it and John knew the life he could offer was nowhere near what Xander and Willow deserved. At least, in Sunnydale, Xander and Willow had a certain degree of support. They were allied with the Slayer, which while it would attract trouble, would also protect them. They went to a good school and, as far as John could tell, were happy. They had friends and, as much as John wanted to deny it, they obviously loved their lives, including the newly established demon hunting aspects to it.
“Promise me you’ll be careful,” John said finally, “and... and you need to be trained... all of you.” John turned his gaze to Adam, who bit his lip.
“I don’t expect you to hunt them... but you have to know how to protect yourselves. I couldn’t explain to you before why it was so important... I wanted to protect you as much as possible from all this, I wanted you to have the chance at a normal life but now... now that you know what is out there, you should learn how to protect yourself... and your mom,” John told Adam, who nodded shakily. John figured that, even now, Adam would be the least likely of the group to actively take up hunting. Adam had confessed his desire to become a doctor to John and John supported him fully. Adam was a healer, not a fighter. He would fight to protect himself or his family, if he had no other option, but he was more peaceful than Dean and Sam.
“Where are we going to train?” Willow asked curiously. “I don’t think the motel owners are going to appreciate us practicing sparring like B... like the Slayer and, er, a friend of hers do.” Willow winced, having already realized that John, Dean, and Sam wouldn’t understand the concept of a vampire with a soul and had decided that it would be best for everyone if she and Xander didn’t mention Angel and his unique circumstances.
“We’ll go to a friend of mine. He’s got lots of space... and he’s got the equipment that we’ll need and he’s got lots of books about the supernatural that I’ll get you guys to look at,” John told her, wondering what Bobby would say when he turned up, all five of his children in tow.
Willow brightened at the mention of books while Xander groaned and dropped back dramatically against the bed.
“I thought this was going to be a vacation away from having to read books about demons,” he moaned and Dean, Sam, and Willow all snorted.
“So I guess we’re going to Bobby’s?” Dean asked with a smile.
John nodded. “Yeah... we’re going to Bobby’s.” FINA.N. There we go, the last chapter of Road trip 2...which will be continued in Road trip 3...yes...there is another story in the works. I’m not sure when I’ll get the time to write it, but i have plans to write another story in this sage. There is also, potentially, a Road trip 4, which will either be another 6 chapter story, or just a one shot, which will take place when everyone is a little older...I’m thinking after season three or four of Buffy, with a focus on Willow trying to hide her magic from the hunters.
Anyway, I hope you’ve all enjoyed this story. Thank you to everyone who reviewed, your feedback means so much to me.
Keep on the lookout for my next story...check out my ff.net page (same author name) for a poll on what story I’m going to post next.