Title: Normal is Relative
Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: All things SPN belong to Eric Kripke, et al. All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al.
Sequel to “The Normal Sister”, since you guys asked so very nicely.
“We’re not sure what it is, but it’s the same thing that killed my mother when I was a baby.”
It’s as if his words are a trigger because Jess’s sister – Buffy, she says her name is – practically collapses. She sits heavily down on the edge of Dean’s bed, her eyes watering.
“All Jess ever wanted was to be normal.”
The words make Sam flinch, and he drops his head into his hands, shuts his eyes tight against the pain that threatens to overwhelm him even now. God, how many times had he said the same thing about himself? He had been with Jess trying to make a normal life for himself. Go to college, marry a good girl, have a nice, normal, safe
life away from the crap that he had grown up with.
And now Jess’s sister was here, and she was saying things that made him wonder, not for the first time, if he could have saved Jess just by being honest with her. If he’d said, Hey, my family? We fight ghosts and boogeymen and other monsters. It’s sort of our mission in life. So, just watch your back, okay?
If he had said all of that to her, she might have understood, he thinks now.
“Do you know what the Slayer is?” Buffy asks quietly, interrupting his train of thoughts, and, for that at least, Sam is sort of thankful because he’s picturing Jess in his head and thinking about everything he could’ve said to her.
The question itself is something he doesn’t expect. Sam looks up. “She’s a myth.”
Except he gets the feeling that she’s not by the look on Buffy’s face. Because Jess’s sister could pick him up and hold him in place with one hand. She knows about the supernatural, and when she said that she needed to know what had killed Jess so that she could go slay it? Well, he’s thinking that wasn’t just a random way of saying she wanted to kill it right back.
Yeah, well, he had just figured that much out, but Sam nods anyway.
“Being someone close to me is tough,” she says quietly. “My friends and family are always in danger. Jess… she didn’t want that. She knew enough – the basics – and that was all she ever wanted. If she got caught out after dark and something was going to make a grab for her, she only wanted to be able to get away. Not kill it. That was my job. Me. Not Jess.”
Guilt presses on Sam like a thousand ton weight, until he can barely breathe. There’s a headache starting up behind his eyes, a steady pulsing rhythm in time with the almost-too-fast beating of his heart.
All that time he had been playing at being normal, worried in the back of his mind that his past might catch up with him – and how the hell would he explain it to Jess? – and she would have understood.
He doesn’t realize he’s crying until the tears drop onto his arms.
”She only took a dagger with her when she left,” Buffy whispers, either oblivious to his pain or choosing to ignore it because he’s a guy
and she’s trying to give him a little bit of dignity. She isn’t bothering to hide the fact that she’s crying, though. She sniffles and pauses just to fucking breathe through the pain, telling him things about Jess that he didn’t know.
“It was a blade that had been blessed by some kind of priestess. Jess loved it. Said it was the only thing that she wanted to take to remind her of all of that
. She didn’t want an amulet from Willow or a notebook of protection circle things from Giles. All she wanted was that dagger,” Buffy says, sighing.
Sam thinks he knows the dagger that she’s talking about. He’d seen it just once, in the bottom of Jess’s dresser drawer, still in its sheath and well-cared for. She’d laughed it off when he’d asked. ”Oh, that thing? It’s a replica of some fantasy weapon from a movie or something that my dorky little sister gave me for my birthday one year. Oh, be careful, Sam – it’s sharp.”
To which he’d given her a little smile, ducked his head and acted like he didn’t know the first thing about blades when really…
Sighing, Sam stands up and crosses to the window.
Jess. Beautiful, sweet, bright-as-sunshine, and full of life Jess
had known about this shit.
”Did she know how to fight?” he asks after a long moment.
Out of the corner of his eye, Sam sees Buffy nod. “She trained with me, just to be safe. We live – well, she lived
,” and Buffy’s voice catches, hitches as she tries to fight through the pain just to speak. Sam turns from the window and sits down next to her, his pain forgotten as he takes her hand. She gives him a thankful smile. “We live in Sunnydale – that’s the Hellmouth. People who don’t know how to take care of themselves end up in the obit section of the paper.”
Sunnydale. California. The Hellmouth. Which, yes, makes sense because that’s where the Slayer of myth is stationed. But the Hellmouth is also supposed to be myth. As are vampires – though Sam can’t bring himself to ask about those because damn if he needs another shock today on top of everything else.
What he does
focus on is the fact that Jess had lied to him when she told him about herself. She’d lived in Sunnydale but told him something else entirely. And maybe that’s because she didn’t want to have to talk about that place
. He can’t say he would have blamed her at all, and it’s hard to hold her at fault for it now with her gone.
“Tell me about what happened.”
It’s a request that he can’t possibly turn down.
He tells her about the fire when he was a baby. Tells her about growing up and looking for the thing that killed Mom. Tells her about how Dad went missing and Dean came to get him, and then… then he tells her about coming back to find Jess on the ceiling, just like Dad had said Mom was all those years ago. He tells her about the fire that started spontaneously while Jess was still pinned to the ceiling.
And he tells her about the hunting he and Dean have been doing, trying to find their dad and get back on the track to this thing.
“I know some people that are good at research,” she offers when he’s done, and now she’s the one squeezing his
hand in reassurance. It’s not much, but it’s enough to at least make him feel not so fucking alone. Dean, God, he tries to be as there
for Sam as he can be, but he falls flat most of the time. Sam blames it on the way they were raised. Soliders, not human beings. Emotions get in the way. No chick flick moments, as Dean sometimes says.
As twisted and wrong
as it is, Sam feels comforted that someone else loved Jess and can understand what happened to her.
Someone else that feels that burning need for revenge on Jess’s behalf.
“If I find it before you, and there’s time – I’ll call you to come be a part of it, okay?” she says, more than asks, and Sam is taken by surprise because he sort of thought she’d want to tag along with them since they had this hunt in common. Maybe that shows in his eyes.
“I can’t leave the Hellmouth for a long time,” she explains with a shrug. “And wandering around without a plan isn’t my idea of a good time. My friends will figure it out, and then we’ll make it pay for ever hurting Jess.”
Sam nods. That sounds like a good plan. “If I hear anything, I can call you.”
They exchange cell phone numbers, sitting next to one another on Dean’s bed, a veil of grief hanging over them like a dark cloud that he can almost see if he just shuts his eyes.
It’s on the tip of his tongue to tell Buffy about his visions, to admit to her that thing that he hasn’t even told his own brother. He looks over at her, sees the haunted and desolate look in her eyes, and decides against it.
She might would hate him for it, and he wants – no, needs
- to be selfish and keep her not hating him for a little while.
Needs a kindred spirit other than his brother.
“I loved her – always will,” he tells Buffy, instead, when her number is safely logged into his cell phone address book.
“Yeah, me too,” she nods. “And maybe when this doesn’t hurt so much we can talk about her. I’ll tell you about the first time she staked a vamp, and you can tell me about what she was like at college.”
Staked. A. Vamp.
Sam exhales loudly, and he can feel
his eyes going comically wide. “Vampires are real?”
She blinks at him and sighs. “O…kay. Guess me getting out of here to get to the research is gonna have to wait. Looks like you need an education in Slaying 101.”
Sam has a feeling that it’s a course he’s not likely to forget anytime soon.