AUTHOR'S NOTES: You know, a lot has gone on in this story series. And there's been even more that I've implied but never actually written. So for the purposes of giving you, the readers, a look behind the curtains, I have written this Behind the Scenes chapter.
The main focuses will be Death, Atropos, an overworked cupid, and God himself and the sections will be split up with page breaks. Now there are a couple scenes that I have expanded from previous chapters but most of this is new material.
Supernatural: The Family Ties series
Behind the Scenes
Death & Atropos
As the King of Reapers watched two cars violently collide, he strode towards one of the cars and looked inside, his expression not even changing as he saw the little 3-year-old girl looking at him pleadingly. "I'm not here for you," Death promised the young child as he touched the woman in the driver's seat.
Appearing as a ghost, Chase Brendon looked panic-stricken as saw that her daughter was still inside the car. "Fiona!" she exclaimed, trying fruitlessly to reach her child. Turning to Death, she pleaded, "Please! Don't take my little girl, too!"
"I have no intention of taking your daughter," Death assured her. "However, since you did make a deal with a demon, I unfortunately have to turn you over to Hell."
Chase looked caught off guard by that and she turned quickly when she heard a growling noise behind her. The enormous black dog's eyes were blood red and it's fangs were bared. She gave one quick glance over her shoulder at little Fiona before looking at the hellhound again. "Alright," she said, shakily, closing her eyes as the beast lunged at her, dragging her down into Hell.
The next time Death came across Fiona Abigail Brendon, it was only 3 years later as the small girl was lost while playing outside in a snowstorm. The child was sitting beneath a pine tree, hunkered down, and hugging herself tightly to stay warm.
"Daddy!" she cried, looking out at the white snow. "Anybody!"
Death looked down at Fiona, still remaining invisible. This was the second time in 6 years he had seen this child in peril and that wasn't even including the times the other reapers had seen Fiona. Looking about, Death carefully hid a smile as he caught sight of the person he expected. "Is there something about this girl that requires your constant attention, Atropos?"
The youngest Fate frowned sharply at Death as she snapped, "You know full well what that girl is! She is the one who is going to screw with the whole timeline!"
But Death wasn't perturbed. "She's a child," he said, calmly. "She hasn't done anything yet."
That made Atropos even more irate. "All the more reason to eliminate her now! There is a plan and a natural order and it is my job to make sure that nothing deviates from that plan!"
As much as the Head Reaper knew this, he also knew that the Fate only had access to the Grand Design as it was intended to be, rather than what it might become. And it was that knowledge that was making him so protective of Fiona. "Do you recall God's first little pets? The Leviathans?"
Even though she was a divine being, Atropos paled slightly at the mention of the monsters. She remembered them, alright. And just the fact that Death was bringing them up sent a prickly feeling down her spine. "What about them?"
Death allowed himself the slightest of smiles. "How would you like it if they were to return?"
Atropos froze at that; just the very idea scared her. "You're joking."
"Hardly," Death replied, smoothly. "Miss Brendon plays a critical role in the future and if you wish to avoid a worse Armageddon than what Heaven and Hell have planned, then I suggest you keep your attentions away from her."
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April 5, 2008
So far, Atropos had kept away from Fiona but that hadn't meant that the reapers weren't constantly attracted to the hunter/Marine.
Thankfully, nothing too serious had happened to Fiona and as Death now watched her play basketball with the other members of her unit, he wondered if it was wrong that he had become fixated on this one human.
And then he saw her. Standing next to one of the buildings that surrounded the courtyard, Atropos seemed to be studying the other Marines.
Then, suddenly, Fiona knocked someone out of the way—most likely trying to grab the ball before her opponent—but instead of catching the ball, it slammed right into her chest.
Fiona seemed stunned for a few moments before gasping and falling to the ground, unconscious.
"What the Hell happened?" one of the Marines shouted in panic as he dropped to his knees next to Fiona. Looking up at the others in alarm, he said, "Get the medics! She doesn't have a pulse!"
As the other Marines rushed to save their friend and comrade, Death went over to Atropos who seemed just as stunned as Death himself was. "I seem to recall that I asked you to leave Miss Brendon alone," he said, his gaze piercing the young Fate.
"I wasn't here for her!" Atropos insisted, pointing to another Marine. "He was the one I came for!" She watched as one of the medics finally managed to resuscitate Fiona and she found herself breathing a sigh of relief. Not because she suddenly cared about Fiona, but rather that if the young woman died unexpectedly, Death would not be happy.
Once all the activity had ceased and the courtyard was empty, Death looked at Atropos who seemed nervous. "Until next time?"
"'Next time'?" Atropos repeated, surprised by the phrasing. "Forget it! I don't care what happens to Fiona! You want to follow her around, fine! But this is what I tried to warn you about before. The Natural Order wants her dead! She's going to continue to come up on my list until she's dead!"
That happened to be the truth, though Death was loathed to admit it. Just like it was also true that he couldn't protect Fiona Brendon every second of the day. Oh, all the other reapers knew not to collect the former hunter—they were under orders, in fact—but if help didn't arrive in time…
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5 Years Later
The news of Fiona Winchester's accident at the abandoned hospital brought a faint smile to Atropos' face as she stood outside the hunter's hospital room, unseen by the crowds. The head injury wasn't serious, though, and right now Fiona was simply sleeping off the concussion. But watching the hunter, Atropos wondered what might be the best way of permanently dispatching her.
Before Castiel had taken in a fair portion of Purgatory's population—Leviathans included, thank you very much—he had somehow managed to impregnate Fiona, much to Atropos' chagrin.
"Whatever you're thinking of doing to Mrs. Fiona Abigail Winchester, I would strongly advise against it," said a smooth, lightly accented voice.
Atropos was startled by the sudden appearance of Death and she turned to glare at him. All the times she'd passed over Little Miss Fuck-Up because Death wanted her alive raced through her mind along with the warnings the King of Reapers had given her about why Fiona had to be kept alive. "No," the Fate snapped, barely controlled rage in her voice. "No more breaks or free passes! Cas and I had a deal! Fiona gets pregnant—she dies. End of story."
"I believe the particulars of the deal were that Fiona's bloodline wouldn't continue," Death countered, calmly. Oh, he was well aware of the angel's deal to keep Fiona alive and he also knew each and every loophole in the contract—including the one Castiel had exploited. "Which is why Cas impregnated her with a different soul. One which you have already taken—against orders, I might add," he threw in when he noticed Atropos ready to interrupt.
The youngest of the Fates crossed her arms and kept glaring at the Horseman. Oh this was just too much! She was supposed to be the one who decided who lived and died—not Death! "You actually resurrected someone I killed? For what? To screw with me? The Winchesters do nothing except screw with the natural order and instead of wiping them out, you're going to reward them for it?"
Death said nothing as he waited to see if Fate was done with her little hissy-fit. He hated dealing with Atropos. As the youngest of her three sisters, she was constantly prone to going off on others and the past 32 years, Fiona Brendon and the Winchesters were her favorite subject for a rant. When Death was certain that Atropos was finished with her tirade, he explained, calmly, "Kelly Gibbs was not meant to die in the car crash that killed her mother. Only Shannon was supposed to be eliminated, if you recall."
"It was collateral damage!" Atropos said, angrily. "I thought the kid would survive since her injuries didn't seem that bad. And what did it matter anyway? Gibbs still joined NCIS and everything still went the way God wanted."
The Horseman turned to look at Fiona for a moment before turning his attention back to Atropos. "All these years and you still don't understand."
Atropos was known for her temper and right now it was growing as it always did when she talked with Death. For some reason, the Horseman had an annoying knack for finding her button and leaning on them. After more than years of butting heads on the same subjects over and over, she would have thought that Death would stop annoying her, but no such luck. "Understand what?" she snapped again, her tone distinctly irritated.
"Leroy Jethro Gibbs is God's true vessel," Death explained, deciding to break everything down as simply as possible. "And while Gibbs has repeatedly turned down God's offers to bring his family back, he has never lost the desire to be reunited with his lost child. Fiona is the closest thing to a daughter Gibbs has, so having her bear Kelly Gibbs' is the only legitimate way to bring the young girl back."
On the one hand that made sense, but Atropos still didn't get what that had to do with impregnating Fiona with Kelly Gibbs' soul. It wouldn't be the same as bringing Kelly back as the child would only have partial memories of her old life as she grew up. In fact, it would more like remembering a past life rather than a cohesive history.
But Death didn't even bother to explain properly as he turned and walked away, smiling to himself. Having had more than a few interactions with the Winchesters and their extended family, he knew that it was those bonds and connections that were the most important and what Atropos ultimately could not understand. Sam and Dean were so emotionally attached that even dying wasn't enough to tear them apart. Of all the human characteristics Death had observed, it was the idea of family that he was most fascinated by.
It was most interesting, though, with Sam and Dean Winchester. Death had seen siblings go their separate ways and even fight one another to the death—no pun intended. But no matter how dark things were for the Winchesters or how much the two brothers fought, they always seemed to come back together. Not even demon blood and starting the apocalypse had been enough to cause a permanent rift between the two.
Given all that, Death figured it was time to give Sam and Dean a break or two. True, they did have the most annoying habit of screwing up the natural order… But existence was far more entertaining with the Winchesters in the mix.
Calla loved being a cupid.
Especially since she was often in charge of the hardest cases or pairings of the highest priority.
She was good at what she did and unlike most cupids who preferred to remain invisible and work behind the scenes, Calla always preferred the hands-on approach.
Thus the reason why she leapt at the chance to match up Samuel Campbell and Deanna Grady. Later on, she worked on Mary Campbell and John Winchester which was definitely one of the hardest match-ups she'd ever done.
And then God had approached her with a very special task.
This series of jobs had had nothing to do with the grand design or destiny. Instead, God had simply wanted the Winchesters and their friends and family to find real happiness in their lives.
And so, at first, Calla had worked with a friend of Sam Winchester's at Stanford and had set the young hunter up with Jessica Moore. Of course, that had backfired in the most awful way and Calla had started to wonder what had gone wrong. Everything was on course and Sam had planned on proposing the day after he got back from the case with Dean.
Next, the cupid had decided to match Sam with a former art student in New York. The girl had been perfect and exactly what Sam had needed after Jessica. Hell, Sarah had even helped the Winchesters solve their haunted painting case. But in the end, it still didn't work.
After a few more attempts, Calla decided to back off and regroup, especially since her idea of matching up Sam with Bela Talbot backfired in a major way.
As she re-examined Sam's history, one thing started popping up again and again and that was Sam's feeling for Fiona Brendon. Wondering why she hadn't just gone that route from the beginning—although the more she thought about it, the more she realized that earlier on the age difference would have been incredibly problematic—Calla set her sights on Fiona which, as it turned out, worked like a charm.
Dean, however, was the easiest. All it took was one meeting with Mossad Officer Ziva David and the guy was hooked. And once the two shared a car ride and a very long conversation, it was a done deal.
Ziva had been hurt by love before when Roy Saunders had died from radiation poisoning and the walls around her heart were almost inpenatrable.
But Calla wasn't one to give up and she remembered the night Dean and Ziva first hooked up.
It had been right after Fiona had stabbed herself to kill the demon, Lilith, and ended up paralyzed. Dean had been at a bar in Washington, DC that was frequented by local LEOs and federal agents and while he was trying to drink away his problems, Ziva joined him.
After that, everything seemed to go as smoothly as could be. Sam and Fiona grew closer and closer, as were Dean and Ziva.
Even Bobby Singer and Ellen Harvelle got engaged and seemed incredibly happy together.
Of course, Bobby, Sam, and Dean had been the easy ones, relatively speaking. Shortly after taking over the body of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, God informed Calla of another love-related task: finding matches for two angels—Gabriel and Celeste.
Since she hadn't been privy to the fact that Sam wasn't in Hell, Calla had started working on Gabriel and Fiona as a couple. The archangel took very little nudging and he seemed to want to help Fiona get over the pain of losing Sam.
But once Sam was back in the picture, the cupid had to look elsewhere for a mate for her fellow angel. Someone who could match him both in wits and appetite, since Gabriel's sweet tooth was renowned even before he became a Trickster.
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8 Months Ago
One of Calla's side projects happened to be Gibbs' team at NCIS.
Ziva David was no longer a concern, thankfully, but that still left Timothy McGee, Tony DiNozzo, and forensic scientist Abby Scuito.
DiNozzo had been deeply hurt by the debacle with Jeanne Benoit—daughter of international arms dealer Rene Benoit—and ever since then love had ceased working out for him. Tony now threw himself into work and his playboy nature seemed more out of desperation rather than a desire to see what was out there.
McGee's luck with women wasn't as tragic, but the poor guy was never able to find the right girl. As a result, he also threw himself into work and didn't even really pay any attention when women did attempt to flirt with him.
And then there was Abby. Calla rarely saw such love and compassion in one person. The girl loved her coworkers and she was always ready with a hug and a kind word when someone needed it. And even though she had also had heartbreaks in her past, somehow Abby managed to come through it, letting the hurt strengthen her, rather than break her down.
The bar was half-full as Calla appeared at the counter. Blending in with everyone else, she wore black jeans and boots and a long-sleeved purple top. Her red hair was pulled back in a ponytail and as she sat on one of the bar stools, she smiled at Celeste who gave her a nod in return.
"Working or off duty?" Celeste asked as she manned the bar. She looked at the cupid who was now scanning the bar with an intense focus. "Earth to Calla?"
Calla turned, looking apologetic as she met the other angel's eyes. "Sorry. I'm still working on the rest of Gibbs' team." As she studied Celeste, though, a crazy idea began to form. "Look, Dad and I were talking a while ago and your name came up."
The corners of Celeste's mouth tweaked in a wry smile. "I'm fine. I know Dad's worried about Raphael, but—"
Waving the comment away, Calla said, "Dad wants you to find someone. Or… more specifically, he wants me to find someone for you." When Celeste scoffed at that, the cupid pressed on. "Look, you've been carrying how many thousands of years of baggage from humans, angels… You heal and comfort people. You help them open themselves up again, sometimes so cupids like me can help them find love. Let me do the same for you."
Celeste considered that for a while as she served the others who started coming up to the bar. It had been a very, very, very long time since she'd thought herself. Most of her time had been spent on emotional healing and very rarely was she able to consider her own emotions.
"Evening ladies," Tony DiNozzo interrupted, pulling Celeste from her reverie. Looking from one angel to the other, he smiled as Celeste handed him an opened bottle of beer.
"On the house," Celeste added as Tony began to pull out his wallet. But as the NCIS agent walked off to join some other agents, she caught Calla's look. "What?" Celeste said, looking away. "I like him."
'Me, too,' Calla thought as she turned her attention to Tony. Thinking how cute the couple would be, she began planning.
To Calla's surprise, putting Abby and Gabriel together was as easy as saying the words 'Caff-Pow'.
All it had taken was a chance meeting for Gabriel to immediately fall in love with the forensic scientist who had him equally matched in the sugar and caffeine consumption game.
And then there had been the fact that both were strong, intelligent types who never seemed to take the other's crap.
It was nice to have a couple who could find themselves for once.
When he first came down to Earth shortly after the start of the year 2000, his first vessel was that of retired NCIS agent Mike Franks.
Oh, sure, he had his choice of vessels but Franks had removed himself from the bustle of city life and now lived in a small house right on a beach in Mexico.
In the morning, God could sit on the porch and drink in the sun while listening to the waves break across the sand. This was why he created the world—a source of calm and beauty ready to give to humanity what it needed to thrive.
And often during these mornings, Mike Franks would talk—about the Marines, NCIS, his ex-wives… anything and everything. Sometimes it was unclear if he was talking to God or himself, but God just loved hearing the old man go on about life, death, and everything in between.
Not that Franks was the only one doing the talking. Sometimes God would talk about his own history and problems—especially when it came to the constant battles in Heaven. He went on about Michael and Lucifer's squabbles and creating Celeste to help keep things under control but even that wasn't entirely effective.
"So why wouldn't you just throw the two in a room and let them settle this thing out themselves?" Franks asked, as though the idea were obvious.
"Yes, that would be an option if I wanted the world to end," God replied.
"How's that?" Franks wanted to know.
And then there had been the discussions regarding the prophecies involving the Winchesters.
Franks seemed to be caught off guard by that. "You're saying these two kids are going to be the root of the end of the world?"
"Trying to keep that from happening," God replied, sounding slightly on the defensive. "But kids do have a habit of fighting when the parents aren't around."
"Then why don't you go back up to Heaven and tell your angels to cool it?" Franks snapped, irritably. Looking out at his perfect piece of beachside paradise, he couldn't believe that God was going to risk all this being destroyed.
But God didn't seem put off by the question. "Because it doesn't work. Contrary to popular belief, angels do have free will. I never liked the idea of firm obedience. I'd rather my children love me than fear me."
The years rolled past and it wasn't until the most recent trip Franks made to DC that God decided that he had been out of touch for long enough.
The death of Jenny Sheppard had hit Gibbs hard—more than he would ever admit—and when Franks returned to Mexico, he waited until his granddaughter, Amira, and daughter in law, Leila, went into to town for supplies before having a heart to heart with God. "Don't you ever get tired of taking people away from those who care about them?" Franks growled, angrily. "You took Shannon and Kelly from Jethro—The girl was only 8 years old, for cryin' out loud! Now you've taken the only other woman Probie really loved."
"You think I enjoy taking from people?" God asked, sounding hurt by Franks' words. "I would give Gibbs his child back in an instant if I thought it would make a difference."
"'If' it would make a difference? Franks snapped. "If? Hell, yeah, it'd make a difference! You have any idea how much pain Gibbs carries around with him? You bring his kid back and it would take a load off of him."
But there was something that God knew that his vessel didn't and it was part of the reason why he had not brought back Shannon and Kelly. "Did you know that Gibbs longed to have more children after Kelly? He wanted a big family and now he has that. Yes, I have taken from Gibbs and from you, Mike. But I have given back as well."
Franks couldn't really argue with that. He loved his granddaughter dearly and Leila loved to tell him stories about her brief time with his son, Liam. Looking out at the beach, Franks sighed. "Guess being God isn't as easy as it looks, is it," he conceded.
"There are perks," God replied as he refilled Franks' beer bottle.
(About a month before 'Swan Song')
Knowing that the big fight between Michael and Lucifer was fast approaching, God knew that he would need to be closer to the action, if only to do what he could to help influence the outcome. He would not directly interfere since that would only expand the rift between the two archangels.
So now, he had left Mexico—still using Mike Franks as a vessel—and was now in Gibbs' basement looking at the younger NCIS agent. "Hello, Gibbs," God said, speaking through Franks.
Jethro Gibbs looked up from the work he'd been doing on his latest woodworking project and saw his old boss and mentor, Mike Franks, standing there.
Well, sort of…
The person standing in the basement looked, sounded, and even smelled like Mike Franks—that unmistakable scent of sand, salt, beer, and cigarette smoke—but it wasn't him. Looking back down at the wood relief he'd been working on the past few days, Gibbs said, "You're not Mike."
The not-Mike Franks chuckled as he pulled up a sawhorse and sat down, pouring himself a drink from the bottle of bourbon that was sitting on the work table. He'd expected to be found out quickly—Gibbs was never one to hide something from. "What gave me away?" God wanted to know, his curiosity piqued.
"Mike doesn't usually call me by my last name. It's usually 'Jethro' or 'Probie'," Gibbs replied, again laying his tools aside and looking up at the stranger wearing his old friend's face. "So you're another angel?" Right now with everything that was going on, Gibbs had to admit that he was getting tired of celestial beings popping in and out at all hours of the day.
God smiled and shook his head. "Not quite. More like the Boss of all angels." He studied the other man for some sort of reaction and was amused when he didn't see one.
Gibbs met God's eyes but if he seemed surprised by the presence of the Divine Being, he didn't show it. "You're God?" he said, skeptically. For some reason he'd been expecting something different—not… Mike Franks
"Yeah, Franks has been my vessel for quite a few years now." God replied, sipping his drink, thoughtfully. "I thought it'd be harder for you to hate me when you saw me if I looked like this." After another moment, he saw the kind look in Gibbs' gaze shift.
"Yeah, well, you were wrong," Gibbs said, his tone cold and his eyes hard as ice. "Kelly, Shannon, Jenny… Kate… All you've ever done is take the people I care about away from me. And now that you're finally facing me you really think I'm not going to hate you?"
"One can only hope. And besides… I gave you plenty back," God argued, even though there was no anger in his voice. He knew how Gibbs was feeling and could more than understand the man's anger. He'd lost friends, family… people he had sworn to protect. "Fiona… The Winchester boys… Abby Scuito, Tony DiNozzo, Ziva David. I couldn't replace your family, Gibbs. Even if I brought them back things would never be the same. So I gave you people who needed you to be their family. You need to stop looking at what you've lost and start looking at what you've gained."
When Gibbs left the table and went over to the work bench, God sighed knowing that he'd really stepped in it with his phrasing. "Look, I get that you hate me, Gibbs. I don't mind. You're not the first and odds are real good that you won't be the last. And if it had been up to me, I would have spared that daughter of yours—let the two of you have a life together. But you should know that if Kelly had lived, she would have become a hunter, too. Just like Fiona. And down the line, you would have lost her again anyway."
"Why are you here?" Gibbs asked, annoyance in his voice. He didn't want to hear about the life he could have had with his daughter. Besides… he played every single possible scenario in his mind when he went to sleep.
God stood and ran his fingers on the unfinished woodwork before he looked Gibbs in the eye. It was so incredible how someone who saw death and the destruction of human lives every day could create such beautiful works of art. Getting down to brass tacks, God replied, "You're my true vessel, Gibbs. I'm here because I was hoping you'd say 'yes'."
Gibbs wasn't sure what to say to that. He didn't even know why he had been chosen. For that matter… why Mike Franks? But if he did become God, what benifiets did he get to reap? "If I do," Gibbs wanted to know. "—can I bring Shannon and Kelly back?"
God cocked his head and gave Gibbs a deep look. He'd expected the question—it would have been surprising if the agent hadn't asked, actually. But knowing what he did about Leroy Jethro Gibbs, God found his own question brewing—if given the choice and the abilities, would Gibbs really bring his family back? "If that's really what you want, then by all means."
Caught off guard slightly by the response, Gibbs suddenly found himself thinking on the issue for a while. In his heart, he knew that having his family back would always be his deepest desire. But he also knew that too much time had passed for him to easily step back into his old life. It would never be the same and what would Shannon and Kelly say about it? Pushing the thought away for another time, Gibbs reached for a question to fill the silence that was building. "So what happens if I say 'yes'?" he asked, curious.
God laughed and resumed his seat on the sawhorse. "You go about your normal life," he said with a grin. "Go to NCIS, solve cases, drink bourbon and do your woodwork. I just need a good vantage point to keep an eye on things. Especially Fiona Brendon and Dean Winchester. They're gonna need a lot more help in the future than just angels can provide."
Gibbs poured himself a drink and sipped it for a while as he considered God's proposition. There was so much he was afraid of—would he finally understand what it all added up to? Would he be able to have some peace for once—to go to sleep and not be visited by his past?
But there was also so much that could be gained as well. He'd be able to protect the ones he cared about. Finally, Gibbs finished his drink and nodded his agreement. "Okay. Let's do it."