Summary: A boy that doesn't have a family to go home to and a family without a home.
Fandoms: Supernatural (pre-Season 1) AU, mentions of a Season 3 monster, SG1 (messing with the timeline a bit)
Disclaimer: I own nothing. I made no money. This is all in fun.
It had been a changling hutch in Colorado that had changed everything. The 'mother' had been kidnapping children and replacing them with her own version (which was on par). They seemed to be leaving an excessive trail of dead bodies, siblings, fathers, neighbors and the like. With all the death happening, John Winchester wondered if they were feeding off the mothers or off the fear and pain that they were creating. It didn't matter, he torched the mom and all the changling kiddies went up in smoke. As it should be.
John found the real children with the monster mama. Thankfully they were all alive and wanting to go home. It took him four hours to match kids with their homes since they were all younger than seven year old Dean. Some of the kids weren't sure where they lived, but by listening to the police scanner, he knew which kids were missing and could match up the names. The problem was the last one, little Charlie. The boy was Sammy's age and didn't know where he lived.
And no one was reporting him missing. The boy was too bright and friendly to be neglected or abused, so someone should have been missing him.
Charlie fell asleep as he was waiting. John decided that the boy could sleep at the hotel and he could listen to the police scanner from there. He needed to check in with his own kids. He wasn't expecting Dean to be waiting up for him, but he should have been.
Dean took one look at the boy John was carrying in, dropped his Encyclopedia Brown book and sat up straight in his chair. "Did something happen to his parents?"
John shook his head. "I don't know. He wasn't reported missing and he doesn't know where he lives."
"You sure…?" Dean's voice trailed off. John was proud of his son for suspecting the worse of the innocent little package.
"I checked him for demon possession and with every other sacred object," John reassured his son. "Nada on Holy Water, salt, silver and everything else. Checked his reflection against a mirror. He's a lost little boy."
"So he's a kid with no family?"
"I think he's got a family. I just can't find them yet." John hoped that the child changling hadn't managed to kill both his parents.
"Do you want to put him in my bed or Sammy's?"
John frowned. "I thought Sammy was sleeping in you bed."
Dean smirked. He was way too young to have perfected that look already. "Yeah. He is. It'll be like a sleepover."
John carried the sleeping child into the boys' room. Sure enough, Sammy was in his brother's bed. Dean climbed up beside him and held his arms out for the boy. John helped them get situated.
"What's his name?" Dean asked.
Dean's white teeth gleamed in the darkness. "If we can't find his family, we can keep him, right Dad?"
Just like Mary, wanting a houseful of little boys to love. "Dean…"
"If you give him to the police and he doesn't have a family, Social Services will take him away. We can take care of him, Dad."
John had to shake his head. His boy was more scared of Social Services than of the Boogymonster, changlings or of poltergeists. That was all his fault. He didn't feel guilt for that. Should he have? "We'll deal with that in the morning."
Dean snuggled down between the two sleeping boys, keeping a hand on each one, protecting them as they slept. John tiptoed out of the room. Maybe he shouldn't have brought Charlie home, Dean and Sam might-would get attached. He was just so damn tired. It was Mary's birthday and he wanted to do anything but think about that. What he really wanted to do was drink, but he had a boy to return home.
John sat at the kitchen table and listened to the police scanner. Most of it was chatter of how eight kids had all disappeared and then reappeared on the same night. John was really interested in how the police spun this one. He was mentioned a couple times, but all the kids gave them contradictory recounts of the night. The prevalent story was that a 'mean-ol'-lady' had taken them and hurt them and the 'nice-strong-ol'-man' had saved them and brought them home in his shiny, black car.
Not once in all the hoopla did anyone mention a ninth missing child.
Why wasn't Charlie's family looking for him?
What the hell was wrong with this picture?
John listened to the police scanner the whole night. In the end, he brought out a tape recorder and set it up next to the scanner. He hit the record button and then tried to doze with his head pillowed on his arms. He would need the rest if he was chasing around three little boys tomorrow- no, today.
He woke to the sound of a shushed childish giggle and someone changing the tape in the recorder. John opened his eyes enough to see Dean replacing one tape with another. At least, John had woken up enough to flip the first tape that early morning. He tilted his head in the direction the giggle had come from.
There Sam and Charlie were kneeling across from each other, using the seat of one of the straight back chairs as a table. They wouldn't be able to jostle the real table there and wake John. They were both cleaned and eating cereal quietly. Dean had a better grip on the household than John ever would.
Dean brought him some coffee and John tuned into the police scanner again. The first thing he realized was that the police was looking for him to question. Apparently one of the older boys knew something about classic cars because the police were looking for an old Chevy. Even if the boy (and the police) didn't know the year, there weren't many black, 'shiny' classics being driven around. It was time to leave town. "Dean?"
"Start packing up."
They would go straight to Missouri. She would be able to give him a lead on Charlie's parents. Nine hours later, John decided that Dean was going to make an excellent father some day and Charlie –while a good kid- was not used to long car trips. Dean kept the boys from whining too much and kept them entertained.
He was pleased that all three fell asleep before arriving. Missouri Mosley had stared at Charlie for a long time before answering. "The path is already set, John Winchester. There is no turning back now. The consequences would be disastrous."
True to form, John glared at the psychic. "But what about his family?"
"Missouri…" John thumbed his wedding ring as he normally did when he did not like a situation. "I'm doing a horrible job with my boys as it is. Charlie…"
"Will make it better if you give him a chance." She glared at him right back. "John Winchester, you need to spend Isome/I time with those kids. They need you just as much as all the people you save. You have to pay attention to them."
Pride was John's vice and he knew it. That didn't mean that he didn't fail every time. He lost his temper. "I'll father those boys…"
Missouri cut him off, "In a way that would horrify Mary." It was a low blow but sometimes you had to hit a Marine with a two-by-four to get them to listen.
John blanched predictably and looked like he was about to break.
"John," Missouri tried to soften her tone a bit, but she was angry too. "It's cliché but kids really do spell love T-I-M-E. You can't expect Dean to do it all. And now he most certainly can't take care of two boys at once. He needs your help. He needs you."
John was simply staring at his boys, Charlie included. Sammy was so fun and Charlie was a good kid and Dean was already so very serious. Did he want Sammy and Charlie to grow up into Dean, even as proud as he was of his oldest? An adult already at the age of seven?
Missouri seemed to think that John was actually thinking about his sons and how much he loved them, because she dangled a carrot in front of his face. "And the more time you spend with Charlie and the boys the more attached they'll become to each other and to you and the better a buffer Sam will have when the time comes."
The time when the yellow-eyed SOB came back for his baby boy. John would be waiting then and now he supposed that Dean and Charlie would be there too. John flipped the keys in his hands and opened the driver's door. He debated apologizing or thanking Missouri but the gleam in her eyes told him that she already knew. So he put the key into the ignition and drove away.
With all three of his boys.