PG-13, maybe R at times (American classification confuses me!)Pairings:
Sam/Jess. Eventual Buffy/Dean (and when I say eventual, I mean eventual – but lots of UST in the meantime). Faith/Robin.Warnings:
Violence, sexual situations, torture.Spoilers:
Buffy – all seasons through Chosen. Supernatural – season one, mentions of things discovered in season two and even three due to AU-ness.Disclaimer:
Don't own Supernatural or Buffy. Don't even own original concept of Jessica as a Summers sister - see below. Do own some of the new ideas and such therein, including one really weird ghost and her bizarre manifestation, who you'll meet in Chapter 2...Summary:
Jessica Summers and Sam Winchester attend Stanford University with one thing in mind: a normal life. Unfortunately, the supernatural world around them isn’t that keen to let them go…Notes:
My thanks to Chosenfire and heathenseyes for beta'ing/bouncing ideas off. And my little sis, for reading and actually getting me into Supernatural in the first place. Also, thanks to Chosenfire for her story 'Beyond Normal', whose single chapter (at the time) inspired me to write my own 'Jess as a Summers' fic, although on a very different vein. And my inspiration inspired her to update her own, so it's all good.
Happy Christmas, guys!PrologueLate September 2001
It was impossible, Jessica Summers thought as she gazed at the form before her. Buffy was dead. She shouldn’t be here. True, on considering last night’s violence from the window’s of Clare’s house, she had thought of her sister out there, fighting it, saving lives, thought of Buffy scolding her for not calling to let her know she was safe, but… Buffy wasn’t supposed to be here, standing in the sunlight as it filtered through the kitchen windows, sleeves rolled up as she washed the dishes.
Jess’s brown eyes widened as she gazed at the woman before her. Hazel eyes dark and vacant, knuckles red and scabbed, and an expression that was entirely void of, well, anything, emotion, thought, life… As though this wasn’t Buffy, nor the robotic mockery, but some kind of shade. This wasn’t the vivacious, bossy elder sister she remembered. Her eyes fell on her knuckles. They were scabbed, clearly injured within the past twenty-four hours, and Buffy was washing up. Doing the washing up that others – Willow, Tara, Dawn – had left behind. It was still Buffy. It was still her sister.
“You’re alive.” Jess realised, before literally falling into her sister’s arms, a frantic embrace, ensuring she was there, she was alive. “Oh, God, Buffy…”
Buffy barely caught her sister before the automatic response kicked in and she returned her younger sister’s hug, he face crumpling as emotion began bleed. She could not, did not blame her sister – for anything – and she had to tell her that. “Jessica… Oh, Jessie…”
“Buffy, I’m sorry!” Jess began babbling, even as she began to realise what the other had done to her sister, more anxious to explain herself, to apologise for not being there, for not saving Dawn, for not preventing the need for her sister to sacrifice herself. “Maybe if I’d helped more, been faster or went up there with Spike we might’ve been able to stop it… You shouldn’t have had to… Oh, God, Buffy, I’m so sorry! And I’ve tried so hard… We barely got Giles to stay, but he’s in England at the moment anyway, and…”
“Sshh, sshh.” Buffy hushed her sister, even as they crumpled to the floor in their embrace, brushing back long strands of blonde hair from the tear-streaked face. It was automatic, to comfort her sister, to let her know she was safe – whether Jess or Dawn – she had to be strong for them. And yet, she wondered. Had they known? No, impossible. Dawn’s shock when she saw her the previous night had been too real. Had the others kept Jess in the dark too? What about Giles? If he had known, surely he would have been here… “It’s okay, Jessie, I’m back, I’ve got you.”
“No, no.” Jess bit back tears. “No, Buffy, you’re the one who… Why? Why did they bring you back?”
Buffy couldn’t form a coherent reply. “I… Well, I… They thought…”
“What?” Jess bit out, suddenly furious with the ‘Scoobies’ for doing this to her. To Buffy, Dawn, Spike, Giles… Everyone that loved her sister. They – how could they be so selfish? “That you weren’t happy with Mom?”
Buffy froze in her sister’s arms. “Jess, you… How did you…”
Jess’s eyes widened further. “Buffy, where else were you gonna be? You’re a hero, a Slayer, you died selflessly saving Dawn, you stopped her soul from being taken God knows where, I… I can’t believe they were so selfish!”
Tears welled in Buffy’s eyes. “They can never know, Jess. They thought I was in Hell.”
“No!” Buffy’s eyes flashed with something of her old fire, but the reason for it brought more sorrow to her sister’s heart. “They can never know!”
Reluctantly, Jessica Summers nodded, giving her consent to her older sister’s lie. They stood, before slowly making their way into the living room, breakfast and food forgotten as they just sat on the couch, Jess with her head in her sister’s lap, Buffy smoothing her long hair as she had always done – to both sisters – providing strength and hope and stability. Never had it been more important than now. Even during the divorce, this was more. A reconnection, much like the one Buffy had struggled with after she was let out of the institution. A reconnection that had gone easier since both Jess and Dawn were young enough to believe their sister, and sensible enough to know she wouldn’t lie about the important things. It wasn’t for another year that their belief was given proof.
“Your hair’s a different colour.” Jess observed, watching the light catch on the darker blonde strands. Before Buffy had – last time Jess had seen her, the hair was honey-blonde, a similar shade to her own, matching their mother’s.
“I was dead. And brought back. Bound to be a few changes.” Buffy replied with an almost-smile.
“You know, you’re the only girl I know who can change her hair colour without the use of dyes.” Jess observed lightly, receiving her reward with a smile, no idea that Buffy’s trauma would lead her – among other things – to have it cut and dyed, although it would return to her usual shade of blonde relatively quickly.
“I like it.” A voice from the doorway spoke, and they looked up to see the youngest of the Summers trio.
Dawn walked slowly, perhaps not fully recovered from the previous night’s exertions. She simply threw off the pillows on Buffy’s other side to snuggle up with her sisters and relish in the reformation of the family unit. The family she had left, both willingly and unwillingly.
It was almost perfect, Buffy considered. If only Mom… But no, their mother had died a natural death, she was not to be disturbed from her peace now. They sat in comfortable silence, reassuring each other that each was alive, safe and whole. Yet it was not entirely true. Where Jess and Dawn were healing, Buffy had a long way to go, soothed by Jess’s knowledge of the truth. The resurrected, heaven-torn Slayer desperately took comfort in her sisters’ silent strength and support. She had to be strong.
“Jessie tell you she had enquiries from Stanford?” Dawn asked quietly, looking up to dislodge Buffy’s gentle hand petting her hair.
“No.” Yet there seemed to be a glimmer of the old Buffy in her eyes as she said it, of the girl who had so desired to be normal and live a normal life, as she congratulated her sister. “Oh, Jessie, that’s wonderful! Mom – Mom would be so proud.”
“She’s doing art history.” Dawn added quietly, and both sisters were rewarded by tears and a light in Buffy’s eyes that shone.
“Well, Mom always thought I was good at it.” The middle sister shrugged uncomfortably. “And Giles has been helping me with deciphering some of the languages too, so I thought maybe I’d do some ancient history or linguistics as a minor…”
Buffy gathered her blonde sister in a firm hug, sinking her head into her shoulder, hiding her watering eyes. “My smart little sister.” She gathered Dawn to her too. “My two smart little sisters. God, I always get so outshone by you two.”
“Says the girl who got a 1430 on her SATs.” Dawn laughed.
Buffy laughed. “Oh, Jessie, at least one of us gets to be normal.” She sighed wistfully.
“Hah!” Dawn smirked. “Normality’s overrated anyway. Who wants to be the same as everyone else?”
“Yeah, never forget you’re unique – just like everyone else on the planet.” Jess rejoined, quoting… somebody, she couldn’t recall who right now.
Buffy smiled quietly, but both knew that despite the Slayer, the hunter, the hidden depths of their sister, there was still a part of her that desperately sought normal.
Samuel Winchester gazed around the busy campus, feeling oddly empty.
This was he wanted, right?
A new start, a chance to be normal. A life away from the hunting, from the ghosts and the spirits. A chance to be free of the ever-present sense of loss. The sense of having lost something interminably dear: Mom, a normal life, a true home and family.
God, he wished Dean was here, cocky and full of himself and somehow ridiculously comforting.
Dean would have shouted at him, complaining about chick-flick moments, and stopping it immediately. But he didn’t. He wasn’t
here. He was off with Dad, hunting. Dean, the good little soldier. He wondered if, in another life, Dean would have followed Dad into the marines. Maybe. Or maybe a mechanic, restoring old cars as lovingly as he had the Impala. Dean’s ‘baby’.
A body ploughed into him, and Sam fought every instinct to fight. Instead he stumbled slightly, regaining his footing, and looked down at the figure.
“Y’know, for someone so gangly, you sure are an immovable object.” The man grinned, before accepting Sam’s hand to pull him up. “Zach Warren, first-year computer programming.”
Sam shook the hand. “Sam Winchester, first-year pre-law.”
“Cool.” Zach grinned. “So, where’re you headed?”
“Uh, the Weston Building.”
“Right next to Gates Building.” Zach nodded wisely. “So, Stanford, huh? You in halls?”
“Wow. Super smart then?” Zach looked impressed, then thoughtful.
Sam shrugged noncommittally. He couldn’t help laughing though, as his new friend let out a crow.
“Likely smartest guy on campus and I walk into him!” Zach grinned, before throwing a friendly arm around the taller man’s shoulders. “I believe, my dear new friend Sam, this is the beginning f a beautiful friendship.”
“We made it here in once piece, without anything breaking… A miracle has been achieved!” Jess celebrated as she climbed out of the passenger side of Buffy’s SUV.
“It’s not my fault other drivers have slower reflexes than I do.” Buffy groused. “I’m a Slayer, I can’t help it.”
Jess waved her sister’s complaints off. It was nothing she hadn’t heard before. Besides, it seemed she was the only one willing to get into a car with her sister driving. Even Dawn was nervy, and she was the one with the iron stomach in the family. Neither of her sisters would even conceive of eating what their sister ate; Jess would remark glibly that it was clearly a sign that the monks had made a mistake, to her sister’s irritation.
“So, this the place?” Buffy looked at the large brick building that held the apartment that would be her sister’s new accommodation.
“Yep.” Jess confirmed, pulling out the keys they had collected earlier that day and opening the front door. “Definitely.”
“Good. Now grab your crap, I’m not taking all of it up there, little miss!” Buffy informed her sister, gazing at the boxes, suitcases and bags that filled both the trunk and the backseat of the car.
“Little?” Jess looked askance at her sister, raising both brows in doubt. At five foot ten, Jessica was a full six inches taller than Buffy’s five foot four.
Buffy glared at her, picking up a large leather bag that made a clanking sound as she lifted it, signalling that it should have been impossible for someone her size to lift. “Whatever, Miss Grow-a-lot. Now, this is the important bag…”
Jessica sighed. “Buffy, do I…”
“Yes you do!” Buffy snapped. “I don’t want to get a call telling me my little sister has died of exsanguination!”
Neither of them noticed a tall brunette man stop and look at the two blondes oddly as he walked past before starting again, slowly.
“Look, Jess, I’ve got you and Dawn and that’s it. Besides, only one sister dies in this family, and that’s me!”
The brunette looked at her even more oddly. For a moment he cursed the fact that old habits died hard: one mention of exsanguination or death and his ears were automatically drawn into the conversation. What drew his eyes
into it, however, was the sunlight glinting off the taller – yet younger – sister’s honey blonde hair, and the familiar look of frustration she was wearing. One Sam knew too well: the look one wore when dealing with an overprotective elder sibling.
The taller girl was… beautiful. There was no other word. Beautiful… and possibly slightly crazy. Well, one of them had to be…
“Buffy!” Jess scolded. “I’m not gonna die! I’m not gonna drown, or fall, or get shot, or flat-line or anything. Honestly, this is Stanford
University, not Sunnydale!”
Buffy sighed again and nodded. “I know, I know. Just… Don’t get hurt. You haven’t got a Xander to perform CPR on you when you drown.”
The brunette man softly let out a sigh of relief; that form of death was natural.
“No, but I’ll find one.” Jess grinned. “Maybe find one with whom I can have something more
than what you have with Xander…”
“Eww, Jessie!” Buffy squealed. “I can face Mom having sex, but you… Just… urgh, only the idea of Dawnie’s worse!”
“Yeah, well, Dawnie’s sixteen. And you were…”
“Uh-uh, my example, not to be followed. Anyway, try to find a nice college guy in any case. One who isn’t hiding nasty secrets in a government complex beneath campus. And who doesn’t plan on going all Dark Side when you sleep with him.” Buffy scowled.
Jess laughed. “I’ve heard this all before, Buffy! God, can you get
anymore worried? I’ll be fine. ‘Sides, all the smart guys know art history’s a good place to meet girls.”
The brunette man, still within hearing range, couldn’t help but start grinning. Hell yes!
“Yeah, but they could be creeps looking to score with freshmen…”
“Buffy, we’ve learnt from your mistakes.” Jess stopped and hugged her sister. “I will not fall for an Angel or a Parker or a Riley, and if I do and I get hurt, you have full permission to come and beat the crap out of them.”
Buffy perked up, and the brunette guy suddenly felt a bit wary of the older sister. Still…
“C’mon, we’ve gotta get this stuff inside and get some pictures for Dawnie.” Jess added.
“Sure thing, Jessie.” Buffy nodded and turned to pick up another bag.
Sam Winchester grinned, already seeing a familiarity in the position of beleaguered younger sibling, even if this rather charming blonde also had a younger sister herself. This year was looking even more promising than the last. Maybe normal was seeking him out after all, allowing him to finally find a girl he might be able to connect with.
Now, all he had to find out was whose seminar group she was in…
Jess and Sam sprang apart almost guiltily as there was a frantic banging on the door of his apartment.
Jess jumped up with a speed that startled her boyfriend, ripping open the door before flinging herself at the blonde and brunette standing there. Sam stood awkwardly, watching what was apparently the reunion of three sisters.
“God, Jessie, I freaked when I couldn’t get an answer, and then your roommate said you spend most of your time here, which explained why you hardly answered our calls, but… Thank God you’re okay!”
“Buffy, what is it?” Jess asked, and as the girls pulled away, Sam recognised the petite blonde from watching her help Jess move in last year and the taller brunette he knew from photos.
“Sunnydale. It… It’s gone.”
“I know, we heard on the news, but…” Jess’s eyes widened. “Buffy, what happened?”
“We were the last ones out. Everyone was going crazy in those last few weeks… Some freak gouged out Xander’s eye, can you believe?”
“Yes. He… God, and everyone’s hurt, and…” Buffy took a calming breath. “Sorry. We just… We had to see you. You got our packages?”
“Yes, but… Well, I guess you had an idea of the house going down, huh?” Jess joked idly.
“A bit. We – we didn’t want to lose anything important. Photos, Mom’s artwork, the trunk Xander made me, Mr Gordo…”
“Ms Tiggy.” The brunette added in. “You had your important stuff here…”
“Though Dawn was making liberal use of the wardrobe you left behind.” Buffy teased, before looking at her sister again, cupping one cheek. “God, Jessie, it was so scary. I just… had to know you’re safe.”
Jess nodded. “I’m sorry, Sam, is it okay?” She gestured to allowing her sisters to enter.
Sam started before nodding. “Sure, yes, come in, sorry.”
Buffy shot him a smile. “Sorry to barge in like this. I kinda…”
“Freaked when she saw Jess wasn’t there.” Dawn stated. “But since she’s clearly been ‘round here a lot…”
Her eyes were on a photo of the three of them with their mother, smiling in joy after what they had thought was successful surgery.
Jess blushed. “Sam, my sisters, Buffy and Dawn Summers. Buffy, Dawnie, my boyfriend, Sam Winchester.”
“It’s nice to meet you.” Sam smiled genuinely. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Yes, we’ve heard a few whispers about you too.” Buffy smiled back. “She was raving about you at Christmas.”
The only time Jess had been back to Sunnydale that year. With the first Potentials trickling in, it hadn’t been the family holiday they had been expecting, although at least Giles had turned up for a time. Jess had found it ominous that Buffy insist she take the SUV back with her, along with most of her room. Admittedly, the room had been taken over by their guests, but… Even then, Buffy seemed to have had an inkling of the future.
Jess blushed prettily as Sam smiled at her.
“So, art history, huh?” Dawn asked.
Sam shrugged. “I wanted to study something interesting that wasn’t related to law.”
“Good place to meet girls.” Buffy rolled her eyes, remembering her sister’s words the previous year. “Gee, Jessie, you found a man with sense! Seems like a good choice though, huh?”
Sam nodded in agreement, smiling adoringly at the woman beside him. Buffy and Dawn sighed in jealousy before making mock-retching sounds.
“Hey!” Jess complained. “I had to put up with you mooning over Angel and Riley, and you don’t even live with me while I fall in love.”
Buffy smirked. “You are my younger sister. It is my mission in life to embarrass you in front of boys, protect you from their over-amorous natures – which I have apparently failed at – and irritate you mercilessly.”
“Jess, save me!” Dawn wailed piteously.
“Of course, Dawn gets to put up with two of us, while I put up with two of you.” Buffy sighed. “Really, Jess, as middle sister, you get the best deal. You can be all Piper-ish.”
Sam snorted. Dean would really get along with this girl.
“Piper-ish?” Jess raised a brow.
? Eternal peacemaker?”
“You never watched Charmed
“You’d be amazed how much I heard conversations about it this year.” Buff replied, her voice dry. “The guys are extremely hot.” Something changed in her face as she continued her earlier thought, her voice falsely light. “And you’re also my favourite person in the world since you’ve never tried to throw me out of my own house.”
All the air seemed to be sucked out of the room as Jess gaze fell, not on Buffy, but on Dawn.
“You didn’t.” Jess’s voice was cold, a question that begged to be a statement.
Dawn’s downcast gaze gave her answer.
“Don’t blame it entirely on Dawn.” Buffy replied, still light and airy, speaking in a way that couldn’t help but disturb Sam. “Giles, Xander and Willow had a part too. And here I thought it would be Faith – you know she didn’t want any part of it? Even apologised right after they threw me out.”
“Sam, excuse me for a moment, I need to talk to Dawn.” Jess stated quietly, and took her younger sister by the elbow, taking her out of the door and shutting it firmly. They soon heard the sounds of yelling, but Sam couldn’t decipher any specific words.
He looked at Buffy, who was sat on the sofa, a somewhat blank look on her face. “Uh, can I get you a drink?”
Her eyes snapped up to focus on him and she smiled. “Oh, uh, sure. Diet Coke.”
Sam gave a chuckle as he headed into the kitchen to get one out of the fridge. “You share Jess’s addiction, then?”
“Technically, she shares mine
.” Buffy replied.
“So, uh, all that there…” Sam frowned.
“Don’t worry about it. But I had to do or say something. I… I don’t really blame Dawn, but… Problem was, the reason they threw me out? I was right. I was proven right. And they accepted me right back in, but… Well, Dawn actually apologised, but I couldn’t say… couldn’t articulate things the way Jess can. She’s the middle sister, see, the peacemaker, the one who could get inside our heads.” She popped open the can and took a swig of Coke. “Like I said, Piper.”
Sam nodded. “I – I get it. My dad and I… We had this huge fight about my coming to college. Dean, my elder brother, he’s always been the peacemaker between us. I don’t know… Just everything boiled over. Dad told me not to come back.”
“Mom did that to me once when I was seventeen.”
Sam’s eyes widened. Jess had never – well, she’d never have reason to mention it. Sure, he’d explained the less supernatural details about his fight with his father, but… “Why?”
Buffy blushed. “I, uh, slept with my boyfriend. She, uh… Well, he changed. After. Went kinda… dark side-ish, I guess. Kidnapped Dawnie, left pictures of us – especially me and Jess – sleeping, accosted Mom and told
her what happened… She was furious with me for keeping secrets. And he’d kidnapped Giles – he was our librarian at school and kinda adopted us – told me to come… Mom wouldn’t let me, but I had to and… She told me not to think about coming back. Heat of the moment, of course, didn’t mean a word, but…”
“It hurt.” Sam realised.
“Yeah. But, I mean, didn’t your mom try to stop your dad…”
“She died. In a fire when I was a baby.”
“Oh God, I’m sorry.”
Buffy was silent for a moment, then chuckled. “Quite a pair you and Jess make. Dead moms with dads who don’t want to know.”
Sam frowned and sighed. “I think Dad did it ‘cause he cares, but…” He shook his head. “Probably spending too much time with Jim, Jack and Jose nowadays.”
“Good thing we lucked out on our Mom, then. She cared too.”
“It’s gone quiet out there.” Sam observed suddenly.
“Oh God, I hope neither of them killed the other.”
It was apparent that they hadn’t as Jess opened the door, and Dawn flung herself into Buffy’s arms, sobbing incoherently.
“I think things are sorted.” Jess gave a smile. “I’m sorry, Buffy.”
“Me too. We’ve found a new place in Cleveland, y’know. Got a whole load of girls like us – gifted and orphaned. Giles inherited that money, we’re setting up a new school.”
“Yeah.” Buffy got a wicked grin. “But if I leave you the details, where’m I calling?”
Hope you like it. Buffy may appear a little OOC, but I truly believe that she might physically need to open up to somehow who's a relative stranger - and Jess trusts him, and Buffy trusts her judgement. Plus Sam's similar experiences help.
I hope you like my realisation of Jess's voice and my attempts to paint the sisterly relationship. Buffy and Jess are pretty close, and I wanted to show that. But Dawn's similarly close too.
Anyway, Happy Christmas. Seeking Normal fanart'll be up in a day or two.