Title: Symbols

Rating: PG

Summary: Robert Moore knew another hunter when he saw one.

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. Such is life.

Notes: Unbetaed. Completely inspired by trollprincess' excellent 'This Ain't The World We Live in Kids'. (You can find it in her memories on her livejournal, or you know, google.) Very short (for me at least).

Jessie came home from her winter break full of smiles and confidence. He has a hard time picturing her as the little girl who came crying to her father when their cat ran away. The cat ran away from the monster that was living under the stairs, and he had killed it with little Jessie sleeping peacefully in her bed.

This Jessica is a woman now, telling him casually of her holiday in the mountains. She and her friends had rented an old house for next to nothing. He asks why, following instincts and experience.

"They said it was haunted, Dad," she says with a smile, as if sharing a joke. "Oh, here are the pictures." She flips quickly through them, then pauses on one of everyone clustered up against faded wallpaper and peeling white paint. He doesn't hear her rattling off names. Shinning out like a beacon is a pentagram in a circle of protection, freshly etched in the windowsill. Half of another protective rune shows behind a girl's head.

Jessie is telling a story about swimming in the lake while he searches the picture. There's a young man, tall and big, leaning against the wall. There's the clear outline of a penknife in his pocket, and in his eyes there's determination and resignation hidden behind a fake smile.

Robert can hear Jessica speaking again, and makes a small note to visit the house once she goes back to school.

Robert can't remember when he first heard of the Winchesters, but he can clearly recall thinking, "What sort of man takes a seven year old to hunt a werewolf?"

Pamela was already pregnant with Jessica when their baby son was kidnapped by a brownie. It's been years since he buried the damn thing in an iron coffin, and he still hasn't told Jessie she had an older brother.

Sam is there for Thanksgiving the next year, and Robert is annoyed. It's the one holiday he never misses. Christmas is a hell of a time for the supernatural, and he's missed several because of his 'business trips', but never Thanksgiving. If the boy's got a family he should go home to them.

And then he's shaking hands with the young man he remembers from the photograph.

"Sam Winchester, sir. Nice to meet you."

And he still resents the man who's stealing his little girl, but he's not cruel enough to deny him his first real Thanksgiving.

He goes down to their apartment a few days after they move in, ready to add the classic protections. Sam's done everything but salt, and that's stored in two huge bags under the sink. Robert contemplates salting anyway, but pictures Jessie complaining – her mother certainly did. He buys them a new couch instead.
Sam and his brother are late for the funeral, and Robert can't help the tears that start afresh at the sight of them. He had thought John Winchester kept his sons away from other hunters to protect them, but now he knew it was to protect the other hunters. Whatever was haunting the family was bigger than the simple spirits and monsters Robert dealt with. There is a look in Sam's eyes – the same look from that first photo in the haunted house, only now it was mixed with rage and grief. Robert almost offers his help, remembering those years hunting the brownie, but Pamela grips his arm with both hands, her tears soaking the sleeve, and he knows – knows that if he does, his family will be consumed by the Winchesters' curse.

His years in the military are long gone, but he gives the brothers a dry–eyed salute as he turns his back on them.

The End. Feedback appreciated.