Summary: John’s first Father’s Day on the hellmouth. One shot from the Dawn Winchester verse.
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural
Warnings: This is a bit of a tear jerker.
Dean, Sam, and Dawn Winchester gathered around the breakfast bar in the apartment above the Winchester Garage. Dean was fairly sure it was a safe time to do this as their father was out on patrol with Buffy. Solemnly he passed out paper and art supplies to his little brother and sister.
Dawn wasn’t sure what was going on. All she knew was that Sam had come to the house and snuck her over to the garage. While to many that might have been a strange thing, she had been involved with the slaying of vampires her entire life and she was used to having unusual things happen to her. What was unusual this time wasn’t sneaking over to her brothers’ apartment, it was finding Dean elbow deep in children’s art supplies. “Dean, what’s going on?”
“Sunday is Father’s Day, Dawn. This is your first one so you need to be here with us for this.” Dean said as he pulled up a stool and organized his colored pencils. “We have a family tradition of making a card for Dad every year. We always do our best to make sure that he never catches us making it. That is part of the tradition. It needs to be a surprise. Most of the time we try to get or make a present, but the present really doesn’t matter. What matters is the card.” Dean gestured around at the art supplies covering the counter. “Most of the time we really didn’t have any money to buy Dad a present or even a card, so we’d sneak home some art supplies from school and we’d figure out how to make him something. The presents never held up to well, but the cards,” Dean paused. “Dad still has every card we ever made.”
Dawn’s eyes bugged out a little. “Every single card you ever made? You can’t be serious. How’d you guys do that?” She tried to picture the bundle of cards that had to add up to and couldn’t.
“We didn’t, Dad did.” Sam said and took a piece of construction paper from Dean. He liked to use the construction paper as it held up better in his opinion than regular paper. “Dad has a small lock box he keeps in his truck. He’s had it for as long as I can remember. He keeps his keepsakes in there, including our cards. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to make sure the card is sturdy though. Anything that gets put in one of our vehicles needs to be tough to survive.”
Dawn reached for a piece of colored paper. “What presents are you giving him? I don’t have a clue what he’d like.” She admitted as she started to draw a picture of John’s truck. It seemed appropriate as that was where she had met her father for the first time.
“I picked up a new hunting knife for him from Caleb.” Dean said absently, concentrating on his drawing. “He can always use a good knife.”
“I always make a deposit with Caleb so Dad can get whatever he needs. You never know just what will come up on a hunt.” Sam looked up at Dawn and grinned. “We tend to go in for practical presents now that we can actually buy them.” Sam remembered the last time he had made his annual donation to the family ammo fund as he like to call it. Dean would probably be surprised to find out that it wasn’t before he’d left for college. It had been just last year. He may not have been able to contact his family or be with them, but that hadn’t meant that he hadn’t cared. Jessica hadn’t really understood why just a few times a year he went and took part in the poker games some of the frat houses held and then went and sent the money off to someone he refused to talk about. She hadn’t questioned him after the first time though. That was one of the things he really had loved about her. If he made it clear that a subject wasn’t something he could talk about, she wouldn’t push.
Dawn frowned. What could she get her dad? Dean and Sam had both chosen something practical to do with his hunting. She grinned and finished her drawing, writing a quick message in it. Tara’s bruise balm was a perfect gift. She knew how often Xander begged Tara for a batch and it wasn’t just good for hunting either. There had been more than a few times Xander had gotten minor injuries at work. Each and every time Xander had sent Tara a bunch of flowers to thank her for the balm she had made up for him. She still had good amount in her first aid kit at home.
John paused at the door to his apartment and looked at the lockbox that was in his arms. He knew that Dean and Sam wouldn’t be home tonight. That had become part of their tradition. There were two presents on the living room table when he walked in instead of the one he was expecting. Had Sam done something other than give money to Caleb like he’d done for the last decade? It seemed strange that he would change after ten years. John sat down on the couch and tenderly picked up the first present. It really didn’t matter what was in the box, it was the card underneath it that mattered. But John wanted to stretch out the experience as much as possible, so he always started with the presents. He stopped before he could set the first one down on his lap. There wasn’t one card visible on the table, there were two. He set the first present back down on the table off to the side so he could see both of the cards he had uncovered. The one that had been under the present was from Dean; the second one was from Sam. John picked up the second present and was astonished to find a third card. It looked like the handwriting was Dawn’s. He hadn’t been expecting this. The Winchester tradition had become over the years of exchanging whatever gifts there were to be had on the Friday before the actual day itself, no matter what the holiday, because most of the time they had spent the weekends hunting. He wasn’t expecting to get anything from Dawn until Sunday, if she even decided to give him something although he had thought she might.
He went back and opened Dean’s present. It was a hunting knife that John had been caught admiring before they split up last October. He smiled and shook his head. Trust Dean to remember what it was his family really liked. Now he was in a bit of a quandary, should he open Dean and Sam’s cards or should he open Dawn’s present? He’d open the boy’s cards first, he decided. That way he could both put off opening his first one from Dawn, which would draw it out longer, and keep with tradition by opening things in his children’s birth order. Well, age order, he decided, since Dawn hadn’t been born. He reached for Dean’s card and slowly drew it out. Dean had drawn a stick figure scene of John, at least he thought it was supposed to be him, and no one had ever said that Dean was an artist, shooting up a line up of ghosts and other assorted monsters. On the inside a simple inscription made John tear up. ‘To the best hunter in the world, Happy Father’s Day. I love you, Dad.’ It was a while before he could set the card down and go on to Sam’s. He once again slowly drew out the card. Sam’s cards were always a crap shoot. He never knew what to expect. Some years they were funny, some times they were just sad, but John treasured each and every one. This year there was a man in a lab coat holding a rifle on the front. The inscription inside read; ‘No one said a doctor couldn’t be a hunter on the side. Happy Father’s Day.’ This time John couldn’t hold back the tears, although he wiped his eyes furiously so he didn’t get them on the cards. He didn’t want to ruin them. He set the card down and reached for Dawn’s present. He was glad the boys had introduced their sister to their traditions. It wouldn’t be right for her to be left out. He opened the box and found a small stoneware jar. A hand written tag around the lid read, ‘Tara’s all purpose bruise balm, good for no matter how hard the demons hit.’ He laughed and nodded as he lifted the jar out of the box. It seemed that the boys had told Dawn he preferred useful gifts, and there was no doubt that he would be using this in the future. He slowly opened the last card. Dawn had drawn his truck on the front. Inside was a single sentence. ‘I’m glad it was you, love Dawn.’ “I’m glad it was me too, honey.” He whispered and set the card down. He then turned to the lockbox and began the last part of ritual. He opened it and took out two stacks of tied together cards, one from Dean and one from Sam. He added this year’s cards to the top of each pile and returned it to the box. Then he took Dawn’s card and laid it on top. He had another pile to start and another child who loved him.