Scrapbook (a family album)
Page 12 - Fathers, be Good to Your Daughters
by Maygra

Supernatural, all audiences, future-fic. (3,815 words)
Characters: Sam, Sarah, Allie, Mary, & Leigh

Set in eighth-horizon'sSalvation universe, by permission.

The characters and situations portrayed here are not mine, they belong to the WB. This is a fan authored work and no profit is being made. Please do not link to this story without appropriate warnings. Please do not archive this story without my permission.


Fathers be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters too
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters too

People were staring.

Okay, mostly women were staring and whispering and Sam kind of understood it, but for the most part it was just weird. Feeling a little bit self-conscious, he double checked: Leigh was sleeping in the stroller, the noise in the mall no barrier to serious napping time, her chubby little fingers wrapped around Sarah's faux-tortoise-shell headband which for some reason was Leigh's favorite hand to mouth toy. Mary was definitely awake sitting up in the rear seat of the double decker-stroller, sippy cup in hand, as completely enthralled by the mass of color and sound and people as her baby sister was oblivious.

Allison  was right in front of him, determined to help push, adamant that she was too big for the stroller although Sam gave it an hour before she got tired, but right now she looked both proud and determined as they maneuvered through the people, window shopping, and Sam more than willing to stop when anything caught anyone's attention.

Although, to be honest, they hadn't stopped often. Jewelry stores and clothing stores and sporting goods stores held less interest to his daughters than just the people and sounds. Granted, they hadn't hit the toy store yet; Sam was trying to save that for when Allie did get tired, knowing he could plop her at one of the play tables, let Mary sort through the books and be good for a twenty minute rest. Just enough time before they needed to head back to the salon at the entrance of the mall and collect Sarah.

Dean had sounded horrified -- or maybe just overwhelmingly amused -- when Sam told him of the plans for the day. Sarah wanted a couple of hours at the salon -- she wanted a haircut and a manicure. "She can't go by herself?"

"Where's the fun in that?" Sam asked. "Drop Sarah off, do a little window shopping, go to lunch."

"With a million other people all doing the same thing. Couldn't you take them to the park?"

"You just hate malls."

"True. But mostly because there are a million harried parents and three times that many kids running around like lunatics. The fact that you actually like malls does not speak well of your mental stability."

Sam did like malls, something he hadn't really ever realized, mostly because he never had much of a chance to spend time in any of them. Maybe it was just one of those lingering  bastions of "normal" that snuck up on him time and time again, even though some days he figured if his life got any more normal, it would start sliding into surreal. 

Still, maneuvering his little gang of girls around people and kiosks of bright, cheaply-made baubles and useless artifacts of consumerism gone wild felt like a major accomplishment, right up there with surviving demon attacks and getting his law degree. Not to mention the small part of him that couldn't help but want to show off his girls. Maybe the people around him didn't recognize them for what they were, but Sam was pretty clear on the fact that each one of them was a major miracle. Different as the seasons and yet clearly sisters and his

Allie stopped pushing and ducked under the stroller arm, and Sam had presence of mind to grab the back of her dungarees before she strayed too far, turning the stroller slightly to see what had caught her attention. 

Ah, pet store --or more precisely, a fish supply store with a huge salt water tank set up in the window. Brightly colored fish darted in and around plants and fake coral. "Fishes!" Allie crowed and Mary leaned forward, eyes wide, already trying to clamber out. Sam managed to snag the sippy cup and tuck it into its holder with one hand and unbuckle Mary's little safety belt. "Just a sec, Mary-mine," he said when she gripped his arm. Belt loose, scooping Mary out was no more difficult than grabbing the cup and once on her feet, she had her hands stretched out for balance right up until they were pressed to the glass next to Allison's, both girls enthralled by the fish.

The jerk of the stroller woke Leigh up with a burbling sound of surprise and a big yawn, small fists punching up as she blinked and took in what had to be a sudden mass of color and sound. Her little mouth started to twist up and Sam turned the stroller more toward himself, leaning in so that he took up her entire field of vision. 

"Well, hi there, La-la-la Leigh," he said, using the same sing-song lilt Sarah did when Leigh woke up. The twisting of her mouth stopped and her lips spread more at the sound to his voice, he thought, than the sight of his face -- eight month old eyes were sharp, but she was still more attenuated to sound than visual recognition. 

Leigh gurgled at him, waving her fists, making more delighted sounds when Sam gave one small fist a kiss, the remembered she had her mother's hairband and that went in her mouth while the other fist still waved in the air, conducting some unseen orchestra.

Imminent nap-grouch averted, Sam glanced at his other girls; Allie counting (she'd get up to eight, then start over) and Mary was all over the colors, "Blue! Red! Onge!" Poking a finger at each one that swam by. 

Sam was pretty sure the mall floor was none too clean, but they were more or less out of the traffic pattern and his jeans could stand up to a little dirt; they'd certainly survived worse. He sat, nudging a knee just barely up behind Mary, anticipating rather than expecting her enthusiasm to overcome her still dicey sense of balance. She was all but trying to jump up and down as it was, sturdy little knees flexing and stretching and hands slapping at the glass. When she did over balance just a bit, she barely realized that she was toppling when her butt hit Sam's knee -- perfect seat for her two-year old fanny. Surprise was quickly taken over with glee; an open mouthed smile and head toss as she laughed -- all uniquely Mary. 

Allie was inching along the front of the glass, trying to see around the corner of the tank, but the far side was obscured by the store logo in the inset door. "You want to go in, Allie?" Sam asked her, splitting his attention between her curiosity and Leigh who looked like maybe the hairband wasn't actually what she wanted in her mouth. Sam figured he had about another minute before Leigh realized that her mother's breast or a bottle were the proper things to wake up for. 

Allie shook her head and came back to him, leaning on Sam's shoulder while she watched the fish, eyes tracking every movement. The headband hit the floor, and Sam tucked it into the mesh storage compartment at the back of the stroller, fishing out the bottle as he did so. 

That was apparently the signal that it was snack time and Mary reached for her sippy cup, managing to get it for herself.

"You want juice, Allie?"

A vigorous nod. "Blue, please," she said and Sam found the raspberry box and peeled the straw back. Leigh was starting to fuss, but he managed to get the straw in and give the juice box to Allie before the fuss became a full-fledged squall. 

He couldn't say he was comfortable with one arm stretched out to hold the bottle for Leigh, Mary sitting on his leg, and Allie tucked up against his side, but at the same time, he couldn't think of anything better and he'd been more uncomfortable for longer. Even with all the noise and movement around them, the world got very small, very comfortable. People were still looking, occasionally stepping around them, and the one or two glares that were tossed his way seemed to fade before people were even done passing.

He nudged the stroller closer with his foot, able to rest his arm on the plastic cup holder. Leigh did her best to help hold the bottle, but hadn't quite gotten the hang of actually grabbing the cylinder, wrapping tiny fingers around the curve of Sam's hand between thumb and forefinger. Her eyes were slightly bluish, leaning toward her uncle's green, hair still baby blonde, and he was never going to get used to, nor cease to be enchanted by, the way she kept her eyes firmly fixed on his face. They'd all done it at this age; that unblinking stare from any of them always making Sam's heart feel a little constricted in his chest, like it might explode. 

Allie offered him a sip from her box, and he took it, finding the juice too sweet but his mouth was dry and sharing her juice made Allie smile in a way that was also uniquely hers, different from Mary's. 

Mary took her last sip by nearly upending the cup, pulling it away with a lip-smacking "Ahhhh!" that Sam knew she had gotten entirely from her uncle Dean. She had that same self-satisfied look on her face too, although on Dean, it always came out slightly smug and possibly a little raunchy, but on Mary was just adorable and made Sam laugh. "That good, huh?" 

"Bes' choos evah!" Mary pronounced, and showing more hand coordination than she did in walking, set her cup down in the stroller cup holder like she was slamming down a shot of booze.  She pushed off then, back at the fish. The slight jolt startled Leigh, who pulled back from the bottle, little tongue making a "ppfft" sound.  The bottle went into the other cup holder and Sam pulled a cloth from the back and had her unbuckled and up on his shoulder before she'd stopped smacking her lips. Allie reached over to help pat the baby's back, until the slurp indicated she reached the end of her juice. 

"Throw away?" Allie asked and Sam followed her gaze to the trash can tucked in between two mid-mall benches. It was less than 10 feet away and Allie was already pushing off his back. He almost snagged her, but she was being careful, like crossing the street with her mother, looking for people.

He all but held his breath, feeling the same flutter of anxiety and anticipation he'd felt when Allie took her first steps. How had she gotten so big, so fast? She didn't hesitate or get nervous making the traverse. She had to stand on tip toes to actually push the empty box into the opening at the top and then turned around and grinned at Sam, like she'd sunk the winning two point basket in an overtime round. She came back to him at a full run, score and win for the oldest Winchester girl.

"Thank you," he said and Allie just beamed. 

Mary had twisted around and was gripping the stroller sides, giggling when Sam gave her a boost into the front seat.  "Done with the fish?" he asked and got nods from both girls. Leigh chose then to burp, which Sam supposed was a unanimous vote. Unfolding his legs gave him a few tingles, but butt to knees to standing was a level of flexibility he supposed he should thank his father for some day.

"You want to ride a little bit, Allie? I'm going to carry Leigh," he said and she gave it some thought before deciding that riding would be okay with her and clambered into the second seat with no more help from Sam than a hand steadying her back. He could never get her to ride in the front, but Mary was perfectly happy to be there. 

The baby harness took both hands, but the added bonus of having Allie sitting was that she was more than willing to hold her baby sister while Sam geared up.  Leigh was all about the new but familiar voice, showing the same enthusiasm for her sister as for her father. Mary started to rock a little trying to get the stroller to go, offering Sam the bottle back but not put out when he explained he had to get Leigh settled first. 

And that was another little joy all by itself, to have his youngest tucked in close to his chest, snug in her denim sling, fingers in her mouth and read for a post-nap, post-bottle, nap. 

They never made it to the toy store, Sam checking his watch and noting their little snack break had taken longer than he realized. He steered the stroller across the mall concourse and decided the hazard was more severe in crossing the mall floor than crossing a busy street. Sometime in the past half hour it had become even more full, but there would be new shop windows on the other side. Allie and Mary had been good as gold all morning, but Sam was all too aware that boredom -- and the attendant behavior to alleviate their boredom -- could hit either girl with about the same suddenness as Leigh hitting her sleep zone. 

Leigh's squirming alerted him to the fact that she wasn't actually sleeping, but had only maneuvered her head to the side so she had a limited view from the safety of Sam's chest. She didn't seem unhappy or even hungry, although he was pretty sure she'd be ready for the rest of her bottle by the time they sat down for lunch. For now she seemed content with her fingers, ear pressed to Sam's chest, right against his heart. He had a visceral flash to all the times he'd pressed his own ear or hands to Sarah's belly during her pregnancies, trying to detect the faint, tiny heart-beat or the movement of his daughters as they worked their way up to being ready for the world. 

It was reflex that kept him moving them all forward, because some days, some moments, he felt absolutely overwhelmed by not only the three little lives in his care but by every moment before, between, and to come, of the life he had. There was a time when he'd been pretty damn sure his future was pre-destined, that his fate was both sealed and pretty damn bleak. More times than he ever wanted Dean to know when the urge to just stop and let the world wash by him until he crumbled to dust, because every step forward felt futile and every step back felt like defeat. 

A time when the fact that he and Dean kept moving had been more of a habit and maybe a little obligation than actually thinking there was a goal to be reached.

And then there was Sarah; amazing, smart, beautiful, funny, down-to-earth, Sarah Blake, who had the incredible gift of being firmly grounded and anchored in herself, and yet able to easily move forward. She'd managed to attain what Sam had so desperately wanted from his sojourn to Stanford the first time, to gain some sense of self that wasn't tied to being John Winchester's youngest son or Dean's little brother or the child Mary Winchester had died for. He'd almost had it, or thought he was getting close, when it all came back and tore him from the tentative roots he'd been putting down. 

He'd nearly given up ever thinking it would be any different when he met Sarah. In so many ways, she was both literally and metaphorically the root that had sunk deep enough, was strong enough, to allow the Winchesters, one and all, to finally put down roots of their own, make better bonds between their intertwined lives. Where Sam anchored, Dean would never be far away, something Sam hadn't always been sure would be true. And once they started to settle, John came in from his distant orbit -- not quite close but still connected enough to be within reach. 

He figured he was probably pushing the tree and plant metaphor too far, and Sarah would be the first to laugh at him, but here he was with his own additions to the new growth, and there was Dani and Charlie, and his father actually had a permanent address.

And maybe the universe was laughing at him just a little, because Mary's sudden, "Ooh, pretty!" brought him back to find them in front of a flower and garden store, a little cubby of riotous colors and the tinkling of small water fountains. "Interior Landscapes" was the name of the shop and Sam crouched down beside the stroller, on hand rubbing along Leigh's back. "You want to go in, maybe find something pretty for Mommy?"

Allie was already clambering out, but Mary was still willing to be pushed and Sam steered them all inside.

It was not unlike being in the middle of a small tropical rainforest, and the glass barriers and the dense foliage occupying nearly all the space high and low, muffled the sound from the mall beyond. Birds of Paradise and Calla-lillies greeted them in shouts of orange and deep green, and miniature window roses and tiny azaleas peeked out in white and yellow and pink. There were dozens of small fountains and indoor pools meant to be set up in foyers and courtyards a little more grand than Sam had at his disposal. 

Allie was carefully going from fountain to fountain, tilting her head to better hear the sound of water falling on rocks, or on small chimes set under the flow. Mary had both hands stretched out, letting leaves and foliage barely brush her fingertips.

"Need some help?" A low alto voice asked him and Sam turned a bit to see the shop owner -- at least he assumed so -- smiling at him. She was dressed in more grown up and slightly lacier version of Allie's dungarees, wearing a button that said "Chief Dirt Digger". She was maybe fifteen years his senior, reddish hair going gray at interesting intervals, stripes of copper and silver.

"Maybe. We were looking for something for my wife."

"Birthday? Anniversary?"

Sam shook his head. "No, just a little something," he said, willing himself not to blush and not even willing to try to explain how he'd gotten here by thinking about Sarah as some kind of mother-tree.

The woman's smile got wider and she took a moment to look at the two small, expectant faces turned up toward her, before returning her gaze to Sam with that same expression Sam kept seeing in the mall; like she might pinch his cheek.

"Well, then, plant or flowers, maybe some wind chimes or a fountain--"

"We're meeting her for lunch, so something we can give her now."

"Something pretty!" Mary offered.

"That smells good," Allie added.

"Ah, well, I don't sell cut flowers, but maybe…" she edged by Sam in the narrow aisle and headed for the back of the store, Allie leading the way in following, to where there was a sitting area set up, hidden by the denser foliage in the front. There was a small loveseat, two Queen Anne chairs and tables that held an array of all kinds of small flowering topiaries planted in everything from teapots to brightly colored clay pots to woven baskets. "We have miniature roses, and honey flowers and--"

"Daddy," Allie said, drawing a deep breath and following her nose to a twisting, basket-potted flowering jasmine vine being trained along a heart shaped metal frame. "I like this one. Smell Mary," she said and Mary did so when Sam nudged her closer. 

And then flopped back in her seat in an overly dramatic display of bliss. "Da-aad. Leigh needs to smell, too."

The shopkeeper stepped around Allie and deftly pinched off a single blossom and offered it to Sam. Three sets of eyes settled on him and Sam took it, offering it Leigh carefully, who sneezed once, made a grab for it and tried to put it in her mouth. Obviously, she approved. "I'd say that would be the one," Sam said, plucking the flower from Leigh's fist before it did more than dust her lips. She looked indignant, and her eyes scrunched up, and Sam grabbed the bottle from in front of Mary before Leigh could work up a good protest. She was startled enough to open her mouth, and mouthed at the nipple for a moment before deciding it was a suitable substitute. 

"Let me get this," the shop owner said, looking like she was about two seconds from laughing at him, or maybe complimenting him on his technique. Allie took charge of the stroller, right up to the counter, before turning her attention to a display rack of crystals and tiny chimes. Mary started to climb out as well, struggling with the seat belt. 

"It'll only be a minute, Mary," he said. "I'm going to need you to hold Mommy's flowers." 

Getting his wallet while still holding Leigh's bottle was another challenge in dexterity, but Sam managed, offering cash for the plant and passing the basket back down to Mary as the purchase was rung up. Mary wrapped both arms around it. 

"Allison," Sam said and she turned back to him and rolled her eyes but obligingly climbed back into the stroller, looking as disgruntled as Leigh. 

"Your girls are delightful, " the woman said handing Sam his change and a receipt. Sam grinned. "And beautiful."

"Yeah. They are. Thank you," he said and managed to refrain from saying, you should see their mother.

Leigh pushed the bottle away when they emerged, and Sam laid it on the top of the stroller -- much easier to maneuver with both hands. 

He didn't see Sarah in the salon, but the restaurant was near the opposite entrance. She was waiting there, on the bench outside, legs crossed and one foot bouncing to the music playing from inside, newly red toes bright against her flip-flops. Her fingernails had no color to them and her hair was still down, curling along her shoulders and maybe slightly shorter, sleek and soft looking.

"Mommy!" Allie yelled, voice loud enough to carry over the noise, and Sarah looked up, a smile breaking over her face from the quiet contemplation that had been there only moments before. She didn't wait for them to come to her, but was up on her feet.

"Oh, I missed you! Did you have fun with Daddy?" 

"Yes, yes! We saw fishes--"

"We got you flers--"

"Red toes!"

Sarah's hand came up automatically to cup the back of Leigh's head briefly and to smile at Sam, before she crouched to take the plant and unbuckle Mary and listen to Allie…

People were staring. 

Sam didn't notice them at all. 

Lyrics & music by John Mayer

I know a girl
She puts the color inside of my world
She's just like a maze
Where all of the walls all continually change
And I've done all I can
To stand on her steps with my heart in my hands
Now I'm starting to see
Maybe it's got nothing to do with me

Fathers be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters too

Oh, you see that skin?
It's the same she's been standing in
Since the day she saw him walking away
Now she's left
Cleaning up the mess he made

Fathers be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters too

Boys, you can break
You'll find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without warmth from 
A woman's good, good heart

On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the god and the weight of her world

So fathers be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters, too
So mothers be good to your daughters, too
So mothers be good to your daughters, too 

Lyrics & music by John Mayer




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