A/N: I think this story should be subtitled "When Plot Bunnies Attack!" There I was, minding my own business, just watching some season one Supernatural when suddenly *BAM!* there it was. I'm sure we've all had the experience where you're watching something, and then a guest star or extra walks into frame and suddenly you think "Oh my God! It's *insert name*!" Well... I was watching "Bugs" (Yeah, yeah, I know. Not one of the better S1 episodes) when who to my wondering eyes should appear but Jim Byrnes (aka Joe Dawson of Highlander fame.) I'd already been working on my crossover series (and how in the name of all that is holy this turned into a series I do not know!) so having "Joe" share canon screen time with Sam and Dean was just too good an opportunity to pass up.
Thanks go out again to dnachemlia for betaing.
Disclaimer: Do I even need to mention I am in no way associated with the Supernatural or Highlander franchises? This story is based on the season one episode of Supernatural "Bugs", written by Rachel Nave and Bill Coakley and contains some dialog taken directly from the script. No copyright infringement intended.
So, without further ado...
The Itsy, Bitsy Spider
Joe Dawson leaned heavily against the desk, examining the macabre collection that now covered its surface. The things I let myself get talked into, he thought, shaking his head slowly. The day before he'd been visiting Methos in Malibu, enjoying the sun and sand, not to mention the attentions of the Immortal's attractive next door neighbor. Now, he was in a university staff room in cold and rainy Oklahoma staring at a collection of human bones. All because of a phone call asking for his help. Not that he would ever begrudge the hunter in question any assistance he could offer; not after all he'd done to help them all during the Ahriman situation. But man, did his timing ever stink!
"Dammit Singer, I can't believe you dragged my ass away from vacation just for this." He fixed his glare on the hunter's back, while he continued to stare intently out into the parking lot below. "Hey! You seriously expect me to believe there was nobody nearby that could have done the job for you?"
Shifting his gaze into the room, Bobby Singer frowned and shook his head. "Anyone I know who's close by they'd recognize."
Dawson wasn't willing to let the Immortal off the hook just yet. "So what about the real Professor Reardon? Why couldn't you have just let him do what he's actually paid to do?"
"Because James Reardon's pompous ass," he snorted disdainfully. "He's way too fond of the sound of his own voice and likely'd go off on some tangent or another, forgetting about everything important."
Joe thought about some of his colleagues at the Watcher Training Academy and nodded. "Yeah, I know the type," he muttered.
"You're sure you remember everything I told you to say?"
"I mean everything Dawson," Bobby emphasized.
"This isn't my first rodeo, you know," Joe snapped. "Or do I need to remind you how we met?"
Bobby slowly blew out a breath and closed his eyes, remembering the nightmare they'd endured nine years ago in Paris. "No. I remember that all too well." Opening his eyes, he smiled at his mortal friend. "Sorry, I'm just..."
"Worried about 'your boys'?" Joe finished for him.
"Yeah." He flinched slightly at the old term of endearment. It had been so long since he'd called them that. "Joe, I'm just asking for two days outta your life here. You don't even have to do any of the work, just play your part and say your lines." Bobby crossed his arms in irritation. "What's got your panties in a twist anyway?"
Dawson narrowed his eyes at the hunter. "Look, all I get is two weeks vacation from Teaching at the Academy, acting as Regional Coordinator, supervising the archival of the North American Chronicles... Not to mention my 'real' job running the bar and occasionally touring. So forgive me for being a little cranky at being dragged away during said vacation from... the company of… a good friend."
Arching one eyebrow Bobby studied the other man, the tumblers finally clicking into place. "So what's her name?" he asked with a grin.
Joe said nothing at first, just continued glaring. Then slowly a deep pink colored his face, and rolling his eyes skyward he admitted. "Deborah. She owns the house next door to Methos'." He raised his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay. I admit it: I'm acting like a surly teenager. Happy now?"
Bobby tsked and shook his head in mock chastisement. "You kids. Everything's such a huge drama with you." Stiffening slightly as the presence again intruded into his mind, he cast another glance out the window. Time's up. Walking back to the desk Bobby began to carefully repack the bones into the box they'd arrived in. "So, you ready?"
"As I'll ever be."
"Good. 'Cause I've got somewhere to be." He thrust the box into Joe's arms. "And it's show time, 'professor.'"
Watch, record but never interfere. Picking up a skull Joe shook his head again and sighed. Life was so much simpler when I followed the rules.
He stood in the shadows, just observing the two young men. So, these were the legendary Winchester brothers. Joe had heard Bobby talk about them so many times he felt like he already knew them. He'd listened to the Immortal hunter rant and rave when Dean dropped out of school only a few months shy of graduation; shared a celebratory bottle of champagne with him at Sam's acceptance into Stanford (on a full ride no less) then he offered Bobby a shoulder to cry on when all of the boy's dreams died along with his girlfriend, Jessica, only a few short months ago.
Two days out of a two week vacation wasn't too much to ask for after all, he decided.
"So you two are students?" Joe asked as he walked slowly towards them, the box of bones tucked under one arm.
"Yeah," The taller of the two responded as he rose from his seat. "Yeah...uh, we're in your class. Anthro 101?"
"Oh, yeah," Joe muttered. Kid, if you can't tell I'm not your professor you're either lying or your parents are wasting their money on your tuition. But of course, Joe already knew he was lying. Sam. This one was Sam, which made the leather jacketed boy next to him Dean.
"So? What about the bones, professor?" Leather jacket asked.
"This is quite an interesting find you've made," Joe said, projecting his best 'academic air of authority', which after eight years as Adjunct Professor at the Academy, he'd gotten quite good at. "I'd say they're... a hundred and seventy years old, give or take. The time frame and the geography heavily suggests Native American." Or so I'm told.
"Were there any tribes or reservations on that land?" Sam asked.
"Not according to the historical record. But the, uh... relocation of Native peoples was quite common at that time." Understatement, he thought bitterly. The horror stories I've learned from Immortals who lived through those 'relocations' would give Stephen King nightmares.
"Right. Well..." Sam hesitated a moment, appearing to consider what to say next. "Are there any local legends? Oral histories about the area?"
Joe momentarily turned his head, suppressing his urge to laugh. He'd expected the question, but the 'innocent puppy dog' look Sam gave him just struck him as funny. Carefully he recited the rest of the information Singer had made him memorize. "Well...you know there's a...there's a Yuchi tribe in Sapulpa. It's about sixty miles from here." He shrugged. "Someone out there might know the truth."
He watched as Dean shared a look with his brother and gave a slight smile. "All right."
When Bobby entered the motel room later on that night Joe was busy packing his bag. "Ok, I told them everything you wanted and then sent them over to Jo White Tree in Sapulpa. He called already by the way, said the boys came and went a few hours ago," he explained as the hunter staggered towards the nearest bed.
Bobby smiled wearily, dropping an old satchel onto the floor with a loud clank. "Thanks, Dawson. I owe you one."
"Yeah, I'll add it to your tab," he mumbled before adding, "but I still don't get why you couldn't just tell them yourself. Or finish the job you started for that matter. You wanna tell me why I had to fly in to play Indiana Jones for the day?"
"Indiana Jones was an archeologist, not anthropologist," Bobby deadpanned.
"Singer!" Joe growled in warning. Old friend or not, sometimes the hunter really got on his nerves.
Bobby lowered his eyes and sighed. "Look, it's been almost six years since John found out about me. I don't know what he's told them or what they think of me now. At best, seeing me again would just be a distraction from the job, which would be dangerous for everyone involved. But if they know I'm an Immortal..." He dropped onto the corner of the bed and hung his head. "Depending on what they've been told we could've had a huge blow-up. And even if they don't know, the last time they saw me I had a shotgun pointed at their daddy. They're not gonna have forgotten that."
Joe watched him, seeing the mixture of sorrow and love in the older man's eyes as he spoke. He carefully lowed himself to sit on the bed next to him. "Why don't you just talk to them? Explain things? I know how you feel about those two, you've said more than once you love them like they were your own-"
"But they're not mine," he said sharply then turned away. "No, I... I was wrong to get that involved in their lives. They had a father, I was just..." He drew a deep breath, his gaze falling on the closed door. "No, they're better off without me."
Sighing, Joe decided to try a different tactic. "You know... those boys aren't Immortal."
Bobby startled, not expecting that comment. "So?"
"So, what if a ghost decides to toss them out a fifth story window? Or they... I don't know, they meet up with a hungry werewolf? They're not just gonna brush themselves off and go on their way like you would. And even if the job doesn't get them, again unlike you, they don't have forever." Leaning forward he looked Bobby intently in the eyes. "The clock's ticking for them my friend, same way it is for me. You want to make things right with those boys, you've only got a narrow window of opportunity in which to do it."
Bobby silently considered what Dawson was telling him. He let his eyes wander over the mortal's face, taking in the new lines and wrinkles added by time since he'd last seen him and felt sharp pang, seeing in the aging Watcher the future of those two young boys with whom he'd once played ball. If they were lucky. If they didn't end up like most hunters: dead before their lives were even half finished. He gave Joe a sad smile. "You know kid, I'm supposed to be the wise elder here." He nodded once. "But only if they come to me."
Damned stubborn Immortals. "Bobby-"
"I'll talk to them," he interrupted. "But it has to be their choice to make the first move. I've interfered enough in their family as it is."
After a moment Joe grudgingly nodded, knowing that was the best he'd get from the man. "Hey, let me ask you something," he said, changing the subject. "You're always saying how the Winchesters are some of the best hunters around. So how'd you manage to beat those two to the punch on this one?"
Bobby shrugged his shoulders. "I was down in Shreveport checking out a nest of vamps when I heard about the first death. Got here a couple of days before they did."
"Uh, huh. And when Sam and Dean showed up you just decided to make yourself scarce?"
Bobby nodded again. "But I stuck around to make sure they learned what they needed to." He gave the Watcher a mischievous grin. "With a little help from a friend."
Joe glared for a moment, and then a smile crept onto his face. "Anytime man." He then decided to ask the other question that had been nagging at him. "And you didn't just finish the job yourself because...?"
Reaching into the satchel he'd dropped earlier, Bobby drew out a battered sword and passed it to the Watcher. "You can cross Dan Kozlowski off the game's roster."
Joe looked at the weapon, and then back at Singer, noticing for the first time the man's weary, disheveled appearance. He shook his head slowly. You've been out of the field too long, old man, if you can't recognize the after effects of a particularly vicious challenge. "Do I get the details or do I have to read about it in Kozlowski's chronicle?"
Bobby just gave him a smile as he stood to leave. "Thanks for all your help, Joseph."
Joe was silent a moment, debating his next move. Aw, what the hell. "You know... it was seventy-four and sunny when I left Methos' place."
Bobby blinked, not understanding why the Watcher was sharing that information. "Sounds nice."
"It was. And the old man has a pretty nice set up too: big house, close to the beach, good restaurants nearby." He paused a moment. "And more than one guest room."
"Ah." Bobby nodded, realizing what the other man was getting at. "I, uh... I don't think so. I couldn't just barge in on him like that-"
"Sure you could. MacLeod drops by all the time," Dawson countered.
"Personally I think that's why he takes so many hunts in Southern California. I'm... uh, playing this little club just down the coast next week... I could use another friendly face in the audience." He could see Singer's resolve beginning to waver, so he pulled out his hole card. "I even got my good friend 'Adam' to agree to do a number with me."
Bobby's eyes widened and he drew back in shock. Methos was going to sing? In public? "'Ol' Rattler'?" he inquired hopefully.
Joe shook his head and grinned. "'That River.'"
"Good song." Nodding an approval, he gave a dramatic sigh, admitting defeat. "Well, I guess now I've got to come. No way am I missing that!" The two friends shared a laugh, then Bobby motioned to the single carry-on bag lying on the bed. "That all you got?" Receiving an affirmative, he slung the strap over his shoulder. "Come on, I'll give you a lift to the airport." He paused and gave the other man a warm smile. "Thanks again, Joe. For everything."
"Anytime, my friend. Anytime."
~~ The End~~
A/N 2: "That River" and "Ol' Rattler" are songs by Jim Byrnes, and can be found on his That River and My Walking Stick albums, respectively. If you're unfamiliar with his music I *highly* recommend you check him out. You won't be sorry.
Joe and Methos... er, that is, Jim Byrnes and Peter Wingfield did sing "That River" together at a Highlander convention. You can find the video of it on YouTube.
And while I have no intention of adding True Blood to the list of crossover series within this 'verse, I just couldn't resist adding a nest of vampires (*cough* Fangtasia *cough cough*) in Shreveport, Louisiana. *grin*