Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural. Written for fun, not profit.

Every hunter around told him to avoid the Hellmouth, but John was never good at heeding warnings, not when he was following a lead. Not when he might have a chance of finding the trail of the thing that killed his Mary.

Sure, by all rights, there were certain rules hunters kept to when it came to takin' jobs, and one damn fine rule was stay out of the way of The Council, specifically out of the way of their thuggish operatives—those bastards, hunters who'd sold out, would go to world's end to find you if you crossed their bosses. John would know; he'd nearly stepped on the wrong toes when he was first learning the ropes.

So, he understood why he shouldn't be here—Sunnydale, California, had more than its fair share of evil shit, but it was for The Council to deal with. Even when they didn't seem to be 'dealing' with a damned thing…Even if they only had one hunter working the place, and she was a kid. A girl. Fighting their battles.

John was in the town maybe three hours, leaving the resources at the city library behind, when he spotted his first iffy denizen of the Hellmouth. The goddamned monster was so fresh, it hadn't even changed out of his muddy funeral suit. It had been a man, about John's age, when it had still been a human. Now, though, the monster showed his true face—wrinkled brow, fangs filling his mouth.

Those hunters who'd warned him away from the Hellmouth? Elkins had been amongst them. Said there was a mutant strand of the vampire bloodline, bit more Dracula than the creatures Elkin had all but pushed to extinction. John never had hunted one before. Hell, they were rare—but apparently not in Sunnydale. The thing skittered across the street like a rat fleeing the sewer.

Yeah. Those Council bastards really had their shit together. Right.

The vampire spotted John, and whatever its aim had been two seconds ago disappeared, the fresh motivation clear in its deep, hungry growl.

John was ready, a hand on the holy water in his jacket. Unnecessarily it seemed—the thing that the monster had been running from jumped down from the iron fence across the sidewalk and tackled the vampire.

Blond, hair pulled in a side ponytail, skirt too short for the jailbail she likely was, her pink fleece jacket stained with graveyard dirt: this was his first impression of the Slayer, The Council's super-hunter.

She didn't shoot John a glance, her attention fully on her prey. John took it to his advantage, pretending to flee in fear. Instead, he stayed less than a block away, in the narrow space between two buildings—close enough to be of help if she needed it, far enough to try and escape her if she turned her attention on him.

The battle was over before he could get settled. She shoved a stake into the vampire's chest. The creature exploded into dust.

"Haven't you heard? It's rude to ditch your own funeral."

John froze a moment, then realized she was talking to the ashes. He had to stifle a chuckle. He recognized the comfort mechanism for what it was—his eldest used it often enough. Some days it was downright impossible for that boy to keep his smart mouth shut when he was facing down something evil.

He watched her dust off her shoulders, all business-as-usual and tuck her stake back into the inside pocket of her jacket. It clicked then, what was missing from this picture: back-up. This girl was barely more than a child, but she was already a soldier, ready to stand on the front line of a Hellmouth. And there was no one there to help her, no fellow troops.

It tightened something in chest, thinking of his sons being left in a town crawling with evil sons of bitches without him at their back, covering them. He'd never leave his soldiers without a leader—never. Even if…John swallowed, not wanting to contradict himself. Not wanting that voice in his head to point out that he'd left his boys behind plenty of times, and that he'd do it again one day. When he caught the demon's trail. When he needed to keep them safe.

But they'd have each other then, he reassured himself.

He heard footsteps and watched a pair of teens run past, their stakes brandished in the open, as if they didn't consider that there might be witnesses. One was a black-haired boy in a hideous shirt and the other a cute little red-headed girl swallowed by an over-sized sweater.

"Buffy—did you get him?" the red-head asked, breathless.

John smirked at that—kid wasn't alone after all. She had help, fellow soldiers. Maybe not enough. Still, the small comfort was sufficient; he pushed off the brick wall, picking up speed as he disappeared down the alley.

The library had given him the info he needed. The demon wasn't here. Hadn't been. But there was another lead on the Colt in Oregon, close to where he'd left his boys holed up.

John glanced over his shoulder, hearing laughter in the distance. Kids that young could still laugh after a hunt. Christ.

The realization struck him hard: he would never tell his boys about that girl. The thing about raising good soldiers was that they could take an order without needed the full reason behind it. So, he knew Dean would listen if he told him to steer clear of Council territory, though Sam…

Maybe it would be best to just not say anything at all. If they didn't know about vampires or Slayers, they wouldn't go looking for them. Just like he wasn't telling them what he'd learned about the demon he was after.

No, he'd simply not bring it up. And since they trusted him, they'd assume the threat wasn't there. It was safer that way.