Two long-as-fuck-all days he’d been forced, coerced, and blackmailed into staying in bed, and Dean wasn’t going to take it anymore. He felt fine. Perfect. There was no good reason for him to be sitting in bed ‘relaxing’ and ‘resting’ and ‘taking it easy’, for God’s sake!
“Read my lips, Sammy – I. Am. Fine. Stop being such a girl.”
Sam’s lips tightened, pressing together in a pinched line. He rolled his eyes and looked away, but Dean could already see that he’d won this little battle. And since Sam was the last stumbling block to being able to get back to normal activities, Dean felt like maybe he’d just won the whole war.
”It’s just – we don’t know what that blast did – or should have done.”
“And we’ll probably never know, either,” Dean argued. “You heard your girl and Giles – there’s just no way to tell. I’ll be damned if I’m going to lay in bed indefinitely, waiting for something to happen that might never happen
Because there was the crux of the matter. They didn’t know what the demon had been trying to do with its energy bolt. They didn’t know if the protection circle had stopped or dampened any effect that the blast was supposed to have. And they sure as fuck didn’t know if there was going to be any repercussions from it though Dean was currently leaning towards ‘no’ on that one since he felt fine
“We’re just worried about you,” Sam huffed. He crossed his arms over his chest and looked down.
“Fucking mother hen,” Dean grumbled under his breath. He shot Sam a dark look. “You got hit, too, Einstein. Remind me again why you haven’t been practically tied to a fucking bed for days?”
Sam smirked briefly before answering. “Um – because I didn’t faint?”
“I didn’t faint,” Dean argued, the point pretty moot since, yeah, he’d fainted. Or gotten knocked out. Didn’t really matter what you called it because the end result was the same – he’d ended up flat on his ass after he got hit by the demon’s blast.
Damn demon. He was going to rip that sonofabitch’s head off next time he got the chance, the injustice of being on bed rest for days getting tacked right on at the end of the list of all of the demon’s other transgressions, somewhere after Mom’s and Jess’s deaths.
“Sure, man, whatever,” Sam said. Wisely he let that argument go, because Dean didn’t really feel like getting up and kicking Sam’s ass right now. There’d be plenty of time for tussling with his brother once they were back on the road and had too much time on their hands in between jobs. Speaking of which –
“You been looking for a new job for us?”
The teasing, playfully mocking look on Sam’s face was washed away by seriousness. He nodded. “Yeah. A couple leads on things I think we should check out. Possible poltergeist about a day’s drive from here, and there’s a supposed haunted house on the way where teenagers go missing every five years like clockwork. The next cycle starts in two days.”
“Two days?” Dean asked, brows rising. “Shit, Sammy – and you’ve just been letting me sit around on my ass this whole time?” He slid over to the edge of the bed, standing. The muscles of his back screamed in protest, and he took a minute to stretch out, easing the kinks. Okay, so he felt fine aside from the fact that he ached like he’d gotten hit by a Mac truck. Damn blast had made him fucking achy. “Your girl on board with this?”
It was a question that he’d been dying to ask Sam since the minute they realized that the demon was gone again for now. Time for them to get back to doing what they did best – sleeping in crappy motels, drinking cheap beer, and, right, saving people.
He hadn’t had the courage to ask until right now, though, afraid that Sam would say that Willow had changed her mind. Because that would mean Sam would have to make a choice between Willow and Dean.
Dean wasn’t sure who would win in a contest like that. He was pretty damned sure that he never wanted to find out, however. Losing Sam once had been painful. Losing Sam the second time had hurtlikeabitch
. Losing Sam a third time?
Well, Dean wasn’t so sure he could do that, and he damn well didn’t want to try.
He needn’t have worried. Sam shrugged. “She’s fine with it. Her stuff’s been packed since last night.” Sam laughed. “I think she knew that you’d try to get out of here today.”
“Smart girl,” Dean murmured, already reaching for a pair of jeans and a fresh shirt from his bag. One of the slayers had done his laundry, and while he wasn’t sure how he felt about someone else touching his boxers or anything, it was nice to have an entire bag of clean stuff to choose from and know that he wasn’t going to have to go to a Laundromat for at least a week and a half.
Dean took a sniff of the shirt before he slipped it on over his head, nose wrinkling. He could’ve lived without the flowery-smelling fabric softener she’d used.
“She sounds pretty excited to hit the road, actually,” Sam admitted with another laugh.
A warm rush of affection for Willow flickered through Dean. His fingers stilled on the button of his jeans, and he shook his head, just once, as if to try to clear the emotion away. Definitely time to get back in the game if being around all these girls was making him this sentimental and crap. Next thing he knew, he’d be wanting to braid hair and talk about boy bands.
Dean shuddered and quickly finished dressing, listening to Sam talk about the potential new jobs, how he’d told Willow they’d swing back by here every few months, and then about Willow’s friends in general – how much he liked them and what they did here.
It was a pretty sweet setup, Dean could admit. But that wasn’t what he was thinking about as Sam started to ramble on about Willow’s friends. He plucked his ‘arts and crafts’ project from the nightstand, tossing it to Sammy who caught it effortlessly. His brother’s eyebrows shot up. “Huh,” was all Sammy said, before throwing it back.
“Think he’ll like it?” Dean teased, shoving his feet into his boots.
“I think that you’re in for it next time we pass by this way if he doesn’t find a way to get you while we’re on the road,” Sam told him, dead serious, tossing the object back. Dean caught it and looked down at his handiwork.
What was wrong with an eye patch that had little flowers and hearts painted all over it anyway?
“And e-mail,” Willow assured Buffy, her words meant for everyone that had come to say their goodbyes to her. “And, oh, I’ll send postcards from all the places we stop at.”
“If they’re the kind of place that has postcards,” Sam told her with a sharp bark of laughter. “Half of these places barely have names
, let alone postcards.”
Willow shrugged. “Maybe I’ll make my own. You know, something that says ‘Greetings from the Middle of Nowhere’.”
“And you’ll call if you need us?” one of the older slayers asked. “You won’t just go off and –“…forget about us?
Willow finished in her head when Rachel stopped suddenly, blushing like she’d said more than she intended. Well, maybe she had, but that didn’t mean that it wasn’t what she felt – or what some of the other girls felt. Willow had overheard them talking during the last two days. They had whispered that she was going to go off again, and they wouldn’t hear from her anymore, just like last time.
Until that moment, overhearing them whisper amongst themselves, Willow had never really stopped to think about the slayers and how her leaving had affected them. Now she knew how much it had hurt them and that, in turn, hurt her, too.
“I said I’d call,” she told Rachel gently. “And e-mail. And, yes, if I need you guys, I’m going to let you know.” She smoothed a hand over Rachel’s hair, giving the young teen a bright smile. “I’m not going to disappear again.”
There was a general murmur of acceptance from the girls, and then they were coming forward, hugging her one by one, sometimes in groups of two or three.
How could she have ever left them like she did?
Out of the corner of her eye, Willow saw that Sam wasn’t escaping the hugging, either. The girls had taken to him out of love for her, and he didn’t seem to mind in the least. Thank the Goddess Dean wasn’t down here for this; he’d probably go into convulsions from the sheer girly moment of it all. She laughed under her breath, drawing a look from Sam.
“Was thinking that Dean’s missing out,” she explained.
Sam’s grin got wider. “Yeah, he’d love this.”
“I bet he would,” Xander said, appearing beside her as the last of the slayers had finished with their goodbyes. He’d been upstairs grabbing a few last things that she needed from one of the house’s supply cabinets, and he handed them to her, the bag tinkling softly. Willow looked up into his face, eyes going wide. She put a hand to her mouth.
“Xan –“ she began.
”Flowers and hearts,” Xander nodded. “It was hanging on my doorknob when I walked by to get that stuff.” He gestured at the bag he’d given her. “So, you know, I thought since Dean is such a great guy, I’d go ahead and wear it for him. I didn’t have the slightest clue how to pay him back for his generosity, though. Until right now.”
“Oh, no,” Sam and Willow groaned as one, sharing an amused look with one another. She could see where this was going.
“Hey, girls?” Xander called above the chattering slayers. “I know you guys want to thank Dean, too. I think he’s already out by his car. I’ve heard he likes hugs.”
Sam’s soft snickering turned to a loud guffaw of laughter as the girls took off towards the door as one group. Half the girls had looked like they knew exactly what Xander was doing, and the other half were too infatuated with Dean to really think it through. Willow pressed a hand to her mouth.
Then Xander was there, pulling her away from Sam and into his arms, hugging her tight like the world depended on it. She wrapped her arms around him, squeezing back. Her eyes fluttered closed.
”You come back soon, okay?” he whispered into her hair. Fingers tightened against her back and, oh goddess, she felt like she might break from the weight of Xander’s emotions alone.
“I will,” she said – a promise without ever saying the word. She pulled back and wiped at the lone tear that had managed to make it out of her eye, leaving Xander to say his goodbyes to Sam while she got a chance with Buffy and Faith.
“Don’t do anything we wouldn’t do,” Faith grinned wickedly. “And if you get a chance with the older one…”
”FAITH!” Willow blushed as she pulled away.
“Just ignore her,” Buffy said with a roll of her eyes. “Stay safe. Stay happy. Stay alive. We’ll let you know when we have something on the demon, okay?”
Willow nodded. “Thanks.”
“Pft,” Buffy snorted. “It’s what friends are for.”
“Yeah, remember that next time,” Dawn chastised, taking her own turn with the hugs.
After ten minutes, another round of hugs, and a dash upstairs to get one last thing that she’d forgotten, Willow climbed into the backseat of the Impala. She bounced lightly for a moment, getting a feel for where she’d be spending a good amount of time from what Sam had told her. Sam folded himself into the front of the car, arranging his legs so that he was comfortable.
And then they both just watched as Dean tried – again – to extricate himself from the very hands-y slayers that Xander had sicced on him. He managed, but only with a helpful blare of the horn from Sam. Willow rolled her eyes at the disappointment on the girls’ faces. Dean was in for it every time they came back to the House now.
She couldn’t wait. It would be hilarious. Maybe she’d even get Andrew to record it.
“Man - Xander is so
getting it when we come back by this way,” Dean informed her, eyes flashing in the rearview mirror.
Willow laughed. She raised a hand to wave at her friends as they pulled out of the driveway.
They waved back, and this time she knew that it wasn’t forever.
A/N: There will be a sequel to this, but it is going to be Dean/Willow/Sam. So, if the idea of D/W/S upsets you, please just take this as the end of their little tale. Otherwise, look out for “Voices Carry”.