Disclaimer: So not mine. Patty belongs to Constance M. Burge, Brad Kern, and Spelling Entertainment. John belongs to Eric Kripke.

Author's Note: In this AU, Patty wasn't killed by a water monster in 1978.

Thank You's: To Tommygirl for the beta read, to Medie for the idea, and to Rob Zombie for the title.

San Francisco, 1984

“Go! Go! Get out now!” John Winchester yelled, ushering the terrified family out the front door as he cocked his rifle. The family didn't have to be told twice. The parents grabbed their children and bolted out the door, not looking back.

John stood alone with the large beast in the middle of the foyer. It towered over him by at least four feet and was covered head to toe in green. Long white hair fell down its back, and its sharp teeth had never seen a toothbrush. John had no idea what that thing was, but he wasn't about to let it hurt anyone else.

A dream had led John to San Francisco. It was one of many that involved people dying in the same fiery death Mary had. Once he reached the Golden Gate City, he came across article after article about people who were ripped apart in their own homes. He had gone hunting, but hadn't planned on facing the monster responsible on his first night.

John aimed his rifle. “Come on, you son of a bitch. I dare you,” he said.

The monster noticed him and advanced. John didn't hesitate. He squeezed the trigger and a bullet lodged itself in the monster's chest. Nothing. No puncture wound, no blood, and no screams of pain. The monster didn't even slow down.

“Gonna play hard to kill, huh?” John cocked his rifle again and shot off another bullet. No affect. “Shit!” The monster was right on top of him. John walked backwards to the door, ready to run if it made any sudden moves.

“Don't move!” A female voice said from behind him. John turned to see a pretty brunette with a determined look in her brown eyes standing in the doorway. Before he could say anything, she raised her hands and disappeared.

John turned back to the monster to discover it was gone as well, leaving no trace it was ever there. John stayed rooted to his spot. What the hell? Small shards of glass lay on the spot where the monster once occupied. John picked up one of them and studied it. He dropped it when he caught a whiff of the terrible smell coming from the shard.

He then noticed pink colored drops of liquid on the floor. Reaching down, he gingerly touched the substance. Potion? He had seen a potion bottle break once before, reducing a monster to nothing but ash. He stood and looked back toward the door. A witch? He had to find her and talk to her.

The rumble of a car engine snapped John out of his shock. Clutching his rifle, he raced out of the house to see a grey car speed away. John only got close enough to read the license plate, but he had no trouble committing it to memory.

* * * *

Patricia Anne Halliwell. Thirteen twenty-nine Prescott Street. The name popped up the moment John conned a pretty police officer to run a license plate check. He sat outside the three story pink house, trying to come up with a way to approach Ms. Halliwell. Normally, John wouldn't have bothered, but maybe this woman could help him. After all, if she was who he thought she was, she might know a way to stop the fire demon who had killed Mary.

Four hours outside of the house paid off. Patty emerged from the front door, apparently dressed for work. She hugged an older woman and then crossed the lawn to her grey car. John anxiously waited for her to pull out of the driveway and then quietly followed her. The car plotted along, showing no signs John had been spotted. It turned a corner and pulled into the parking lot of an expensive restaurant. John parked across the street, giving Patty a few minutes to walk inside. He counted to ten and then climbed out of his truck.

He sauntered into the restaurant. The maitre'd lifted an eyebrow, taking in John's black shirt, dirty jeans, messy dark hair, and full dark beard. He stepped in front of the underdressed man.

“May I help you, sir?” the maitre'd asked.

John blinked as if he hadn't seen the maitre'd until now. “Yeah, I'm looking for a Patricia Halliwell. Does she work here?”

“May I ask who is looking for her?” The maitre'd refused to budge.

John stepped closer, narrowing his eyes. The maitre'd took a step back. “Tell her we met yesterday.”

The maitre'd narrowed his eyes in response, but disappeared into the kitchen. Within a few minutes, Patricia came through the door and stopped the moment she saw John. He registered the surprise in her brown eyes before she covered it. He nodded to her.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

“I was hoping I could talk to you about something.” His dark eyes spotted the maitre'd watching them. “In private.”

Patricia crossed her arms. “I'm sorry. I don't make it a point to walk off with strange men. Besides, I have a job to do.”

“It'll only take a minute.”

“I said no, Mr....”

John softened his gaze. “Winchester. John Winchester. Please, ma'am, it has to do with what happened yesterday.” He sighed. “I'm hoping you can help me.”

Patricia relaxed a little. “One minute.” She walked past him and out the front door. John followed. Once outside, she rounded on him. “How the hell did you find me?”

“I'm a hunter, ma'am.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the shard of glass. “I found this and drops of liquid on the floor. Judging by how quickly you killed that thing yesterday without me seeing you, I'd say you were a witch.” Patty stiffened. John noticed it but continued anyway. “Now I've met a witch before, but she couldn't do what you did. I've seen a lot of strange things in the last two years, and I've never seen anyone disappear like that.”

“I suppose I can't tell you it was all in your imagination, can I?”

“No, ma'am.”

The small woman met John's eyes. He braced himself, expecting her to slap him or, even worse, turn him into something. Instead, she softened a little.

“Who was the witch you met?” she asked.

“Sarah Cristiano. We hunted the same demon in Worcester, Massachusetts. Before I could fire a shot, she threw a potion and blew the damn thing away. She taught me a little bit, but she couldn't find the demon I'm after,” he replied.

John saw Patricia visibly relax and a smile twitch at her lips. “I know her and her daughter Olivia. Call me Patty. Ma'am makes me feel old and you can't be much younger than me.” John barely cracked a smile. “Look, let me finish my shift. Then we can talk. Meet me at the park down the street at five.”

“Will do.”

* * * *

Patty parked her car beside the swings and turned off her engine. If her mother knew what she was doing, the woman would kill her. Normally, she would have tried to find a way out of the morning's confrontation, but something about John Winchester had made her listen. He was tall, with black hair and the most haunted dark eyes she'd ever seen. Her ex-husband Victor's eyes had been honest, and her whitelighter Sam's blue eyes were trusting. John Winchester didn't trust anybody. Yet, he had seen her and instead of blabbing the story to the world, he stood before her asking for help. The least she could do was hear him out.

“If he tries anything, I'll freeze him and run,” she promised herself as she stepped out of her car and locked the door.

John stood by the jungle gym, his back to Patty. She slowed her pace as she noticed him watching a group of children climb all over it. She reached his side and saw sadness in his eyes. It quickly disappeared the minute he sensed she was there.

“Thank you for coming,” he said as he turned to her. She smiled and headed for a bench. He followed.

She sat down and took a deep breath. Where was she supposed to start? She chose the safe route. “What were you doing shooting at a demon, Mr. Winchester?” she asked.

He didn't miss a beat. “It's my job,” he said. He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees, his gaze never wavering from her.

“Your job?” she asked confused. “You obviously don't know enough about witchcraft to be a witch.”

John nodded. “I'm not. I've done it ever since my wife died.” He didn't offer anymore explanation.

“I'm sorry,” Patty whispered.

He sat straighter. “So, how did you make yourself and that demon disappear?”

“How much did Sarah tell you about witches, Mr. Winchester?”

“Only that different families have different powers and that all of them can kill demons with spells and potions.”

Patty took in the information. “What she told you is true. You saw me and the Masu Demon disappear because I froze time.”

“You can freeze time?”

“Yes,” she nodded. “I froze you and the demon the minute I walked in the door. I threw my potion and left.”

John digested the information. He didn't step back and he didn't look at her like she was crazy. “Since you did something to the monster and not me, I take it you're one of the good guys.”

“You could say that. I've fought demons like that my whole life. You?”

John set his jaw. “My wife died pinned to the ceiling. A fire started from her body and consumed the entire house. I don't know what did it, but I know it wasn't human.”

Concern touched Patty's face. “Oh, God.” Her heart broke when Victor had left her and their three daughters, but she couldn't imagine losing him the way John lost his wife.

He stood. “You don't think I'm crazy?”

Patty shook her head. “No.”

“Have you ever heard of anything like it?” John's stiff demeanor faded and vulnerability appeared in his eyes.

“No, but I could look it up for you. I know there are a lot of demons who have fire power, but most of the ones I've faced throw fire, not pin people to ceilings and start fires that way.” Patty checked her watch and realized it was getting late. Her mother and her eldest daughter would be worried. She stood. “I have to go. My family will send out a search party to find me, and both my mother and my daughter pack a mean punch.”

John's head shot up. “You have a child?”

“Three of them.” She reached into her pockets and pulled out a pen and a small notebook. “What's your number? I'll call you on my next day off and let you know what I find.”

John took the pen and paper and scribbled his hotel number down. Handing it back to her, he smiled a little. “By the way, if there's any way I could use a potion like the one you used on that hairy thing yesterday, I'd sure appreciate it.”

Patty returned his smile. “I'll see what I can do.”

“Thank you.”

Patty took the notebook and the pen back. She tore off John's number, placing it in her pocket for safe keeping. Then she put the notebook and pen in her other pocket. “Be careful, John Winchester. I'll be in touch.”

“I look forward to it.” Patty only took two steps toward her car before John's voice stopped her. “Oh, and Patty?” She stopped. “Call me John.”

* * *

Patty's call came two days later. John met her in the middle of the park on a warm spring day. She waited by a medium-sized grey stone, looking more comfortable than she had the last time they met. When he saw her, he felt a little embarrassed to be wearing the same thing. A young teenager with long dark hair and a serious expression stood beside her. Looking at the two, John knew the girl was one of Patty's daughters. Had to be. They resembled each other too closely.

Patty held out a hand when John reached them. He took it. “It's good to see you again,” she said. She indicated the girl next to her. “This is my daughter Prue.” The young girl with blue eyes and braces didn't say anything.

John nodded. “Wouldn't let your mom meet a strange man alone, right?” The girl only narrowed her eyes. John turned his attention to Patty. “Protective. She reminds me of my son Dean.”

“You have a son?” Patty asked. Prue seemed to relax at his statement.

“Two of them. Dean is five and Sam is fifteen months.” He looked at Prue. “How old are you?”

Prue kept her arms crossed. “Thirteen,” she answered.

John's jaw dropped. “Patty, there's no way she can be yours. You don't look old enough to have a thirteen-year-old.”

“Flattery gets you everywhere, doesn't it, John?” She laughed. “Prue is my oldest. Piper is eleven and Phoebe is nine.”

“Are they....witches, too?”

“Yes, and pretty powerful if I do say so myself.” Patty set a bag down on the stone. She pulled out a folder followed by a smaller bag. She passed both to John. “Down to business, I guess. I went through every demon I could find. None of them have the same MO as your demon, but I wrote down everything about them and put them in here.” She indicated the folder. She then pointed to the bag. “I also made up a few potions in case you came up against any of these guys.” She met John's eyes. “I'm sorry. I wish I could do more.”

John smiled. “No, this is more than I expected. Thank you.”

Patty placed a hand on John's arm. “I do believe your demon is out there. The only reason I didn't see any information is because my family probably hasn't met him yet.”

“I pray you never do.” He nodded at Prue. “I'd hate to see her and her sisters grow up without their mother.”

“I could take care of him,” Prue said, tossing her hair over her shoulder.

“I don't doubt that. I've seen your mother in action,” John smiled. He looked back at Patty and offered his hand. “Thank you, again.”

“John, come home and have dinner with us. You look like you haven't eaten a decent meal in weeks.” Patty said as she took his hand again.

“No, I have to go.” John wasn't sure if he was ready to tell her about the dreams and the one he'd had the night before pointed him toward Colorado.

“Be careful, and blessed be, John.”

John nodded. “You, too. Thank you.” He turned around and headed back to his truck.

“John!” He turned to Patty. “My number is in the folder. Anytime you and your boys need our help, call.”

“I will.” And, with that, John did his own disappearing act.


© 2006 Crimson Idealist