Chapter Twenty – Same Time, Next Year
Dean stirred when he felt the warmth of the sun kissing his face. That was the best sleep he had in a long time. He heard someone clear their throat, tearing him out of his morning slumber.
His eyes fluttered open as he saw his dad standing in the foot of the doorway. John eyed his son curiously.
“We should be heading out.”
Dean quickly sat upright and glanced over at Buffy, asleep on the other side of the bed.
“Uh, yes sir.”
He stumbled off the bed as John pivoted and traipsed down the stairs.
Sam hiked his bag over his shoulder and broke into a grin when he saw Dean descending the stairs. Dean swiftly took a seat to put on his shoes before collecting his jacket.
“Dean, did you sleep…with Buffy last night?”
Dean shrugged into his jacket, “What? Hell no…I uh….accidentally fell asleep….while she was talking…”
Sam chuckled, “Oh…so you were in her bed and you were just talking?”
“I wasn’t in
her bed, I was – on
it and she was way over on the other side….and why the hell do I have to explain myself to you? Go get in the car.”
Dean glared at Sam who was smiling smugly.
“Get that damn smile off your face before I smack it off. Nothing happened.”
Sam didn’t stop smiling. He pivoted and headed out the door.
As Sam and Dean loaded up the car, Buffy emerged from the front door, dressed in casual clothes and carrying a duffle bag.
“Can I go with you guys?”
Dean eyed his dad getting into his truck before setting them back on Buffy.
“You want to go on the road with us?”
“I can’t stay here….I need to get away for awhile.”
John stopped and walked over to his boys.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”
Buffy turned to John.
“John, please….I just want to get away…..I can’t…I don’t know what to do….you’re the only ones who understand…please,” she bleated.
John regarded her and sighed, “Buffy. Your mother loves you. I know things are tough right now but I have to believe that in the end, she’ll be there for you when you need her. I don’t think running away is going to make things any better.”
Buffy bit back her tears, “Fine. I’ll go off by myself then.”
She walked a few steps before John said, “Okay. But just for a short time. And you need to let your mother know.”
Buffy nodded and dashed back into the house. After a few minutes, she returned to the curb.
“You want shotgun?” Sam asked.
Sam switched seats for her as Dean started up the car. A heavy guitar laden song blasted through the speakers. Buffy grimaced.
“You still listen to this stuff?”
Sam chuckled as Dean ignored her and pulled away from the curb.
They stopped at a diner in Los Angeles to eat breakfast. John and Sam sat on one side of the booth while Dean sat uncomfortably next to Buffy. She stared off into space as the Winchesters read over newspapers. After a time, she got up and went over to the hostess. John took the moment to break the silence.
“Dean, what are your intentions for Buffy?”
Dean snapped his eyes from the paper he was skimming to his dad’s stern expression. He gulped. “Uh, my intentions? No intentions sir, none whatsoever…I fell asleep…that was all.”
Sam stifled a laugh as John Winchester studied his eldest son’s expression.
“Buffy has been a part of your life for a long time. I understand that feelings can grow beyond friendship.”
Dean swallowed a hard lump in his throat. “Uh, okay….but really dad, there’s no feelings involved…..seriously.”
John cracked an amused smile. “Okay son. I wasn’t trying to pry.”
“You weren’t prying because there is nothing to pry into……hey look….mysterious disappearances in New Mexico…..maybe it’s aliens huh?”
When Buffy came back to the booth, she overheard the tail end of a discussion between the Winchesters.
“…that’s what we’re dealing with,” John replied.
“Ohio it is then,” Dean said.
All three men regarded Buffy, who was holding a sheet of paper in her hand.
“What’s up Buffy?” Sam asked.
“They’re hiring here.”
“You want to work at a diner now?” Dean asked, a little irritated by her indecision.
“The hostess says they have a vacancy in her building, the rent’s pretty cheap….I can start right away.”
Buffy glanced at the guys.
“I just – need to do this…please….I’ll let my mom know….but I can’t go home….”
John sat back in the booth. “Buffy. You can always go home.”
“I don’t want to…you can’t make me.”
John sighed at the determined look on her face.
“Boys, please see that Buffy gets settled….I’ll head on out, call me when you’re on the road.”
John paid the check and exited the diner. Buffy left her application with the hostess and joined Sam and Dean outside after getting directions to the apartment building. Dean eased the car through a rundown neighborhood. All the buildings were in bad shape, graffiti and litter plastered the streets and storefronts and crime scene tape draped some of the alleys.
“Uh, are you sure you want to live around here?” Dean asked, locking his door.
A police car flew by wailing its siren as they went up to the apartment. The manager gave Buffy a key and she opened the door and swept inside.
“What a dump,” Dean replied.
“Hey, it’s nicer than some of the places we’ve stayed in,” Sam said.
Buffy looked around at the small space. “It’s fine.”
They went back to the car after Buffy used the remainder of her allowance to pay the security deposit. She got her bag and hiked it over her shoulder. Sam climbed into the car as Dean walked Buffy back to the door.
“You spend all your money on this place?”
Buffy shrugged, “I’ve got a couple of dollars and I’ll manage until I get paid.”
Dean pulled out his wallet and rifled through his cash.
“Here,” he said.
He pushed the money in her hand. She glanced at the numerous bills in her hand and eyed him.
“You don’t have a real job, how do you….”
“That’s just so you won’t starve….don’t blow it on those stupid magazines you read all the time….or on shoes….or clothes for that matter...just the basics.”
A small smile creased her face, “Gee Dean, if I didn’t know any better I’d think you actually cared about me.”
“Don’t let it get to your head….I’m just…helping out a friend.”
He glanced back at Sam who was reading a book.
“I better get going.”
“Okay, thanks for the ride.”
He pivoted toward the car. He looked back at her.
“Check in with us from time to time.”
“Oh, you mean call you?”
Her eyes sparkled with playfulness.
“Uh, call us if you need us.”
He stepped off the curb.
He twisted around.
“I don’t have your number.”
“You have Sam’s and my dad’s.”
“What if I can’t get a hold of them?”
He thought for a long minute and walked back to her. He fetched a junk business card from his wallet and scribbled on it. He held on to the card and narrowed his eyes.
“Couple of rules Summers – no calling me ten times a day ‘just to chat’. No calling late at night or drunk dialing me and no calling at the ass crack of dawn…I’m number three in your chain of contact….got that?”
She smiled, “Yes, I get it.”
He gave her the card and she looked it over.
“Wow Dean, am I like the first girl you’ve given your actual number to?”
She didn’t hide her grin.
“Don’t make me take my money back.”
Her grin dissolved. “Thanks, for everything.”
He glanced at her contemplative expression.
“You’re not expecting me to hug you or anything are you?”
“No,” she lied.
“Okay then…take care of yourself….see you around.”
“Yeah, same time next year?”
He shrugged, “If your mom has forgiven us by then.”