Title: These Unbroken Threads
Fandom/Crossover: Supernatural/Stargate SG-1 (written for the sncrossbigbang)
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Dean Winchester, Sam Winchester, John Winchester, Jack O'Neill, clone!Jack, Castiel, Daniel Jackson, Samantha Carter, Teal'c, the SGC crew, Azazel, Pastor Jim, Bobby, other Supernatural characters briefly mentioned. Gen.
Warnings: Profanity, one-liner mention of suicide (of an OC), usual level of violence for both shows
Spoilers: General progression of events through Stargate canon, general plot of Supernatural up to Season 5
Disclaimer:Supernatural and the Stargate franchise does not belong to me. No profit is being made.
Summary:John Winchester gets a nasty wake-up call one day that forces him to re-evaluate how he's raising his sons. At the same time, Jack O'Neill, an old friend of his, tracks the man down to demand answers. After revelations are had by both sides, Jack offers him an alternative option to their hunting lifestyle, and so the Winchesters move to Colorado Springs to hide and play the waiting game with Yellow Eyes. Somehow gaining a clone as their best friend, Dean and Sam grow up knowing the best and brightest of the SGC while keeping themselves in the hunting loop. Eventually, destiny catches up with them as the forces of Heaven and Hell search for their missing players in the Apocalypse.
On a chilly May night in Minnesota, John Winchester's elder son was nearly murdered by a serial killer.
"Mr Winchester?" The tired but crisp voice, female, came through clearly over the phone. Surprised, he pulled the cell away from his ear to check the screen again. Still hadn't changed; the number was of the cell he gave Dean to use in case of emergencies. The faint worry sparked by the call threatened to ignite, but he tamped down on it brutally.
"Who is this? How did you get this number?" John demanded. Pushing up from the bed he had been sitting on, he crossed the motel room to pick up the duffel bag dropped in one corner and started packing one-handed. He'd intended to rest for the night before heading back to Minnesota where he'd left his sons, but a restless anxiety had taken root, and he knew it wouldn't let him sleep until he saw his boys again.
"I'm Glenda Larsen with United Hospital, Blue Earth. Your son, Sam, gave us this phone, Mr Winchester, because he said you might not pick up a call from an unknown number – "
An icy pit opened up at the bottom of his stomach. He'd only been gone for less than five days; his boys had been alone by themselves for months at a time before and Dean knew the precautions to take to keep him and Sam safe. Knew, especially, to be extra careful with the warding and sigils in a highway motel like the one in Blue Earth John had left his boys in, promising to be back in a week, he just had to make a quick detour to take care of a hunt –
He had trained his elder son well. Dean had the guns and the knives and the salt rounds and the holy water, and had said to John when he was leaving, "See you in a couple of days, Dad. I'll make sure Sammy doesn't die of boredom before you get back," and grinned cockily –
Your son, Sam, gave us this phone, Mr Winchester – "
Dean would never let Sam talk to any strangers if he could help it, and he would never hand over the phone to someone else. Winchester wasn't the name Dean would have given to anyone in a position of authority, he knew better than that –
" – sir? Mr Winchester?" The voice filtered through abruptly, and John snapped back to reality to find himself sitting back down on the bed, left hand pressing the cell to his ear and right hand clenched tight around the bottle of holy water he had been in the process of shoving into his bag, which now lay haphazardly in front of him, contents spilling out onto the ugly green carpeted floor of the motel.
"I – " His voice choked on the word, and he had to clear his throat. It could be nothing. Someone probably noticed two kids by themselves and reported it, and Dean must have injured himself while trying to get away. "What's going on? Where are my sons?"
"Mr Winchester, half an hour ago your sons were admitted to United Hospital. They were…involved in an incident. Your younger son Sam will be fine, he sustained a few scrapes and bruises that are being seen to by one of our doctors right now. Your elder son – " There was a brief pause and a shuffle of paper in the background. "Your elder son, Dean, is in surgery right now. According to Sam, you are on a…business trip." The woman's voice was politely neutral, giving away none of her disbelief at the crappy cover. "How soon can you arrive here?"
"Surgery?" He echoed the word blankly.
"Yes," The woman's tone gained a note of sympathy, and somehow that was even worse. "It's too early to make any judgments, but Dean is currently in critical condition. One of the doctors now operating on him mentioned that certain emergency procedures were likely to be carried out as further assessment of his condition takes place, so we would require parental consent. Also, Sam couldn't provide his social security number, so if I could trouble you – "
"I can be there in twelve hours," he interrupted her. "If – if anything happens, please get in touch with me." He disconnected the call; providing one of his fake social security numbers wouldn't fly since none of them were attached to anyone named Winchester, and giving his real one would just screw everything up.
He was frozen in place for several moments, numb, a part of his mind skittering away from the fact that at any moment he could lose Dean.
They were…involved in an incident.
Your elder son, Dean, is in surgery right now.
Dean is currently in critical condition.
Another part of his mind – the part that let him make it through Vietnam, through that horrific fire that November night – growled at him, telling him Snap out of it, soldier!
Within minutes, he was throwing the packed duffel bag into the Impala and climbing in. It took him almost a day while driving from Minnesota to Tennessee for the hunt, but if he broke a few traffic laws and rationed his breaks he could make the return journey in less than twelve hours, especially at this time of night.
His sons needed him.
Fourteen hours and twenty minutes. That was how long Dean had been in surgery.
Sam had been huddled next to him for the past few hours on the uncomfortable plastic chairs, dozing on and off restlessly. Now, he picked listlessly at the wilting sandwich one of the nurses had brought him, expression turning more and more miserable as the minutes dragged by.
Dean had left their motel room at around nine the previous night, headed for the gas station convenience store around the corner from the motel to buy some snacks. Fifteen minutes later, Sam had heard a scuffle outside in the parking lot and Dean's voice shouting. Ignoring all the warnings his father and brother had repeatedly emphasized to him through the years, Sam had left the relative safety of the warded room and run out into the parking lot.
"There – there was this man. He was tall and big, bigger than you, and he was trying to grab Dean.
"Dean saw me, yelled at me to go back in, and call the cops, and that made the man really mad. He – he kind of threw Dean to the ground, and he had a knife in his hand, I saw it, I couldn't just leave Dean like that! So I went and jumped on him, but he just knocked me away. Then Dean got between the two of us, and –
"There was a lot of blood, and the man
wouldn't stop kicking Dean while he was on the ground, and I tried to help, I really did, but he was so big and just kept shaking me off!"
Sam had descended into hysterics at that point in time, and John had spent several minutes holding his younger son, muttering false reassurances into his ridiculously floppy hair while Sam cried.
"Pastor Jim saved us."
"Pastor Jim. He's the pastor of the church ten minutes down from the motel. We've been there a few times since you left, 'cause it was really boring without a library or anything nearby, and Dean was really bored too 'cause he didn't even complain that much when I said I wanted to go. Pastor Jim's got a collection of books in this little room and he let us stay there for hours and even made us tea and sandwiches. Dean found this Latin dictionary and he was copying down stuff, and there was this book on eighteenth century history that was really good, and – "
"Sam! Sammy, what happened afterwards?"
"The pastor chased the guy off, shouting about the police being on their way, and the man got really scared, 'cause he stopped kicking Dean and ran off. Then Pastor Jim tried to help Dean, and told me to run in and call an ambulance. Then we got here, and the nurses asked some questions and I didn't memorise your phone number like Dean did so I gave them our cell.
"Dad, Dean's going to be okay, right?"
Ever since reaching the hospital, he had spoken to enough police officers, nurses and doctors to rub his nerves raw. There was plausible deniability, and then there was outright bullshit. He'd never had to lie through his teeth to this extent. Fortunately, the police were more focused on catching the serial killer who had already kidnapped and killed three teenage boys; this slip-up and the descriptions given by Sam and the pastor were the break-through the police needed. The cops hadn't even bothered to search their room thoroughly; the Winchesters' bags of weapons and other assorted paraphernalia were untouched.
A quick trip back to the motel to retrieve their belongings had yielded nothing useful. There was no evidence that Dean's attacker was anything beyond human; just a twisted, sick motherfucker who got off on murdering children. Several of the officers had passed on their well-wishes for Dean, and said John should be proud of his son. John was, of course, because Dean had managed to hold off a man nearly three times his body weight, but John was also furious. He wanted to kill the night clerk at the motel, who had fallen asleep at the front desk and hadn't heard a single thing. He wanted to kill the bastard who had hurt Dean so badly that none of the doctors who sporadically appeared from the operating theatre could give a positive status report on his son.
He pointedly ignored the tiny voice inside his head that whispered, maybe Dean wouldn't be in this situation if his father had been there with him.
Next to him, Sam stirred. "Pastor Jim!"
John looked up. Approaching them was an average-height man in his forties with a clerical collar, suit jacket folded over an arm. "Sam, how are you feeling? And you must be the boys' father."
John had stood automatically, and he shook the other man's hand when he extended it. "Pastor Jim, right? John Winchester."
"I'm sorry we had to meet under these circumstances, Mr Winchester," the pastor said heavily.
John's lips twisted in a grimace. "The same goes for me."
He fell silent, watching as the pastor spoke quietly to Sam. Now that he thought about it, hadn't Bobby mentioned a pastor in Blue Earth before? If this was the same man, it would be too much of a coincidence, wouldn't it?
John's exhausted mind struggled to process everything, trying to decide if there was a threat or not. As if sensing his eyes on him, the pastor looked up, and John couldn't quite hide his suspicion in time. He dragged his manners out from somewhere deep within him. This man had saved his sons, after all, hunter or not. "I've to thank you for being in the right place at the right time, pastor."
"Don't thank me, Mr Winchester, thank the Lord. I believe it was Him who intervened on your sons' behalf."
John stared. "So, what, you got a vision from God telling you to go save Dean from a psycho in the middle of the night?"
Pastor Jim didn't react to the derision in John's voice, merely replying steadily, "Not precisely, no, but I was asleep and dreaming. I can't remember the dream itself, but it woke me up. I couldn't fall back asleep, so I went out to take a walk. It just so happened to be in the direction of the motel your sons were staying in." There was a distinct note of disapproval by the end of the sentence.
John bristled at the implied admonishment, opening his mouth to snap a response, but at that moment the door to the operating theatre swung open.
"Dean Winchester?" The call came from an exhausted-looking doctor still wearing scrubs and holding a clipboard.
"Here." John was in front of the doctor in a few long strides, Sam disengaging from Pastor Jim and following quickly. "I'm his father and this is Dean's younger brother."
"I'm Dr Andrews; I was the surgeon overseeing all the operation procedures for your son." Dr Andrews hesitated briefly, eyes flicking to Sam, a small diminished shape against his father's side. "I think it would be better if I spoke to you alone, Mr Winchester."
His heart sank. "Sam?"
"No," his son said in a small but stubborn voice. "I wanna hear about Dean."
John almost sent him back to Pastor Jim, but there was fire in Sam's eyes now, the kind that reminded him achingly of Mary. He turned back to the doctor, steeling himself. "Go ahead."
Dr Andrews frowned, but eventually acquiesced. "Dean has five broken ribs which resulted in a punctured lung and internal bleeding. The knife used went through his back, missing the spine by an inch. As it is, it needed twelve stitches. His right arm suffered severe trauma and the bones are shattered by what seems like repeated blunt force. We managed to drain and patch the lung and stop the internal bleeding, as well as insert several pins into the right arm to hold it together.
"The most worrying injury is Dean's cracked skull. Preliminary scans show that there wasn't any brain injury, but we can't be one hundred percent sure, and we're still waiting for the full results. Your son's lost a lot of blood and the multiple operations have put a lot of stress on what is, after all, a child's body. There might also be complications arising from the internal injuries and the cracked skull."
The doctor stopped, not quite able to look John in the eyes.
"Doctor, what are you saying?"
"Mr Winchester, we've done the best we could, and your son is still in critical condition. Honestly, all the doctors, including myself, are very surprised that he's managed to hold on for this long. If your son's condition manages to stabilize within the next two days, we'll be cautiously optimistic, but I need to tell you frankly that you should start preparing for the worst."
The next two days were some of the worst in John's memory.
The alarms on the machines attached to Dean's body went off every few hours, prompting a mad rush of doctors and nurses.
There wasn't anything he could do, only watch as these strangers tried to save Dean's life. Hands on Sam's shoulders and holding tightly to his younger son, for the second time in his life John felt like the world was dropping out from beneath his feet.
Choking on helpless rage and terror, John prayed for the first time in more than ten years.
Let him come back to us. Mary, wherever you are, help him. Help our son. Just let Dean come back, and I swear I won't let this happen ever again. He doesn't deserve this. Please.
"Dad? There's a man here to see you."
John tensed, looking away from Dean's unconscious form to Sam, who entered the room with a handful of chocolate and candy.
"Who is it? And where did you get that?"
"I dunno." Sam shrugged, resuming his seat opposite him, reaching out to straighten the blanket covering Dean. "Some guy who asked for you. He's waiting outside. And I got this stuff from Nurse Pauline."
John wasn't surprised. His sons were the current darlings of the nurses on this floor of the hospital. It was a poorly-kept secret that Dean was the victim of the serial killer that had been plaguing the area for the past few weeks, and it had resulted in a level of warmth and protectiveness from the nurses that was almost suffocating. Even after Dean's condition had stabilized, the nurses kept finding excuses to drop by his room, plying John and Sam with food and drinks to sustain them as they kept watch, waiting for their son and brother to return to consciousness.
Outside, the first glimpse of the stranger was the back of a head, military-style brown hair mostly shot through with grey, bent towards the vending machine in the hallway. A brown leather jacket and jeans covered the lean frame. The man straightened at the sound of the door closing behind John, and in that moment before he turned, the posture and stance triggered an intense sense of familiarity which made John hesitate. When he was finally facing John, he could only think, Of course.
"John, how ya doing?" Jack O'Neill looked the same as he did ten years before, only older. Other than the greying hair, the fine lines had deepened around his eyes and mouth. The voice was still annoyingly chipper, but Jack's eyes flicked over him with the same professionalism and sharpness, pausing for the briefest of moments on where John's gun was hidden under his jacket.
"Jack," he responded curtly. This was a complication he didn't need. The last time he had seen the Air Force pilot had been at Mary's funeral. They hadn't been the closest of friends, but they had kept in touch with each other ever since serving together during Vietnam, meeting up occasionally for a beer and a game even after John left the Marines to settle down with Mary. He had even liked the sly fox enough to invite him to his and Mary's wedding, and Jack had done the same for his and Sara's. Afterwards, it had only seemed right that Jack be invited for Mary's funeral, too.
For the first year or so after Mary's death, there had been repeated calls on his cell from Jack. He let all of them go to voicemail. John had even listened to two or three of them; they were all along the lines of "What hole did you crawl and disappear into, jarhead?"
Jack tucked his hands casually into his jacket pockets. "The kid I met out here was the younger one, Samuel, right? Last time I saw 'em he was just a tiny thing. They sure do grow up fast."
"How did you find me?" John demanded.
"You're hurting my feelings here, Johnny. We finally see each other after a decade and that's all ya got to say to me?" The false brightness in Jack's voice would have been mildly irritating ten years ago, but now, with all the strain of the past few days, it grated on his nerves and set his teeth on edge. All he wanted to do was go back into the room and watch his son – even if not awake yet – breathing and alive.
"I ain't got the patience to deal with you right now, Jack."
The man blinked and shifted, then nodded at the room John had exited. "I hear Dean's not doing too well."
John stared at him coldly. "No, he isn't."
Jack sighed, rocking back on his heels, seemingly gathering himself to speak. John braced himself; Jack wasn't usually one for long spiels, but he could talk circles around people when he wanted to. Before he could say anything, however, the door behind John slammed open.
"Dad!" Sam's voice had him spinning around and pushing back inside in an eye-blink, heart hammering. He barely noticed Jack following him, or Sam's excited bouncing, because there, lying on the hospital bed looking up at them was Dean, looking like death warmed over but with hazel-green eyes open and blinking confusedly.
"Dad? Sammy?" Dean slurred. "Whre 'r we?"
Several hours later, after drawing a blanket over a sleeping Sam on the couch in Dean's room, he sat in the canteen across from Jack, feeling like a weight had lifted off his shoulders. His throat ached at the thought of how close he had come to losing Dean.
"So, we going to have an actual conversation now, or you goin' to keep biting my head off?"
John didn't respond, turning his styrofoam cup of coffee around in his hands.
Jack glared balefully, fiddling with a pack of M&Ms. "Okay, guess I can do the talking and you do the listening."
"Thing is, you fell off the map ten years ago." The man popped a blue M&M into his mouth, chewing and swallowing before speaking again. "You might or might not have noticed, I left a couple of voicemails. After a bit, I figured, fine, you have the right to grieve, so I stopped trying to get into contact.
"A couple of years ago, I tried looking you up again. Asked a friend of mine who's a computer whiz to poke around. Imagine my surprise when she tells me that John Eric Winchester, formerly of the US Marine Corps, awardee of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and 'Nam Service Medal, is wanted for credit card fraud, breaking and entering, and grave desecration."
Here, Jack paused again, eyeballing him. John drank his coffee and said nothing. There was an extended silence as Jack ate the M&Ms, one after another.
"So then I asked said computer whiz to look up Dean and Sam Winchester for medical records, school records, anything at all. Because even if you're somehow a travelling salesman, your kids gotta go to school, right? Now imagine what Carter finds! Winchesters Two and Three pop up in schools halfway across the country in the span of a few months, and those are only the ones where you used your real names. Addresses given are all non-existent or rent-by-the-week crappy apartments. Pretty much impossible to get a hold of you, so I told Carter to put an alert out on your family so I'd know the minute you finally decide to stick your stupid-ass head out of the woodwork."
Jack shook out the last M&M, a red one. He held it in his fingers, staring down at it. His voice was low when he spoke again.
"Two and a half days ago, your sons' names appeared in the database of United Hospital, Blue Earth, Minnesota, somehow linked to a psycho serial killer in the area. See, I haven't taken any leave for some time now. I actually have a cabin out here, so I took a couple of days, told my team I was going fishing, then flew down here to find out what the fuck is going on!"
Jack's voice had risen to a shout by the end of his sentence, drawing sideway looks from the few occupants of the canteen at this time of night. Neither of the men paid them any attention.
John grimaced into his coffee. Maybe it was for old times' sake, maybe he still remembered Jack as a friend, but he finally said grudgingly, "I don't see why you're so interested, Jack. I've just been trying to survive."
"Yeah, I'll give you the credit card fraud, and even the B&E if you were desperate enough, but grave desecration?"
John glared, the ridicule in the other man's voice dispelling some of his melancholy and stirring up annoyance in its place instead. "Miscommunication."
"Miscommunication my ass!" Jack abandoned the candy on the table top and ran a hand through his short hair. "John, I can't help you if you don't tell me honestly what's going on."
"You wouldn't believe me," John growled back. He wouldn't. People in the normal world were always so eager to cling to their false securities, believe that the monsters under their beds were mere myths. John knew better. He had killed said monsters before.
"You'd be surprised," was Jack's droll response.
John scoffed, throwing back the last of the crap that called itself coffee. "Overestimating yourself, O'Neill."
"Maybe, maybe not." Jack waved a hand through the air. "Okay, pretend I'm generous, put that away for now. Right now you've got bigger problems, Winchester."
"Stating the fucking obvious, flyboy," he growled.
"Oh, so you're aware of the fact that your boys have been flagged by Child Protection Services, who as we speak are on their way here?" Jack snarked. He relented when he saw the frozen expression on John's face. "Carter updated me just now. John, after what I said about your file, d'you seriously think that anyone in a position of authority believes you're capable of caring for your sons?"
John stood abruptly, blood rushing in his ears.
"What the fuck are you doing?"
"Leaving," he responded brusquely, pushing away from the table and going for the exit of the canteen.
Two turns later, Jack caught up to him in an empty corridor, catching a hold of his arm. Spinning him around to slam bodily against the wall, the pilot twisted his arm behind his back.
"Let go," he spat, bracing his free arm against the wall and trying to shove backwards.
"Not until you can think clearly about this crap you're pulling!" Jack gritted, not giving an inch.
John couldn't let anyone take his children. Couldn't. Digging his feet in, ignoring the burning in his shoulder from the lock Jack had on his arm, he prepared to throw his entire weight back against the smaller man. Abruptly, the grip on his arm released completely, and he whirled around, only to meet an elbow in the gut that made stars appear in his vision.
Countless seconds later, he straightened from the protective hunch he had formed around his middle, panting.
"You don't understand," he wheezed. "We have to leave."
Jack stood in front of him, hands clenching and unclenching, looking frustrated beyond measure. "Dean nearly died after being assaulted by a serial killer! He's in no condition to be anywhere other than that hospital bed!"
"Neither of my children are safe if they get taken away by CPS!" John threw out.
"What're you talking about?"
"I have to protect them!"
"Jesus fucking Christ, Winchester, from what?"
Something snapped. Without thinking, he reached out and grabbed the other man, dragging him closer and hissing in his face, "From the thing that killed Mary!"
Jack stared, unperturbed by the hand fisted in his shirt and the close proximity. "Mary died in a fire. Caused by faulty electrical wiring."
John snorted, bitter, releasing Jack and turning away to slump against the wall.
"You tellin' me it was sabotage? It wasn't an accident?" Jack stalked closer, then stopped. "Thing?"
"I told you, Jack, you wouldn't believe me," he said dully, closing his eyes. Jack was right. There was no way he could move Dean right now. Dean's doctor had been making noises about months of recovery, physical therapy for his right arm and a whole bunch of medication which John had no hope of procuring anywhere. Fuck, Dean was lucky to still be around to takethe medication.
"John," the voice was right in front of him, but he didn't open his eyes. "Are you saying there's something after your boys?"
"I have to protect them," he repeated.
There was silence for long moments, two men standing in a deserted hospital hallway.
"Charlie died four years ago," came the quiet statement.
John opened his eyes. "What?"
"He shot himself with my service pistol which I forgot to lock up," Jack said softly, every word laced with old pain and regret. "I lost my only son because of my own stupidity."
At a loss of how to react, John fumbled out, "Jack – "
"I couldn't keep my son safe like I should have, like every father should." The other man cut him off, meeting his gaze again squarely, fire filling up those eyes. "So you know what, Winchester? You're trying to protect your sons, and I get that. I get that. You're trying your damnest where I failed. I'll be the last person to stand in your way.
"Come with me to Colorado Springs. Convince me that whatever you've been up to for the last ten years isn't what it seems. I work in one of the safest places on the planet, and we have some of the smartest people too. Whatever else is going on, we can hide you and your family."
John had promised himself more than a decade ago, after the fire, after finding out about the monsters in the night and other terrible truths, that he would protect his boys and not let any harm come to them. He would hunt down the Demon who had killed his wife, but he wouldn't let the bastard take his sons either. That was the reason why he had trained Dean so obsessively; so he could defend himself and his brother. But now… now his fifteen year-old son lay in a hospital bed, possibly crippled for the rest of his life, not because of the supernatural which John had taught Dean to fight against, but because of a human being. Someone of his own species, who murdered children for kicks. It was never supposed to happen; John had never even considered that it would be a human who would be the problem. What else would John not anticipate, not be able to protect Dean and Sam from? Was getting revenge on Mary's killer more important than keeping his children safe?
He breathed quietly, feeling pieces slot into place.
John Winchester may have lost his wife, but he sure as hell wasn't going to lose the rest of his family.