Chapter Twenty Six: Defining Moments
Buffy hugged her knees into her chest as she sat dangerously close to the edge of the roof outside her bedroom window. She stared blankly up at the night sky littered with bright stars.
“You’re not jumping are you?”
Buffy glanced back to see Sam inside her room, watching her with concern. He approached the window.
“No, I come out here to think sometimes.”
“Oh, good. There’s a shortage of cute girls in the world, you don’t need to become part of that statistic.”
She managed a soft laugh. Sam climbed out onto the roof and joined her.
Buffy drew out a breath and stared off into the street.
“It’s more like, what’s down.”
Buffy slowly imparted the news of Angel breaking up with her and his decision to leave town after graduation day. Her lips quavered as she bit back tears, struggling to hold herself together. Sam took her hand and squeezed it.
“God Buffy, I’m so sorry. I know how much you love him.”
Buffy inhaled a long breath and nodded.
“Is there anything I can do? I know my brother would be happy to stab him for you.”
Buffy smiled weakly at Sam’s attempt to cheer her up.
“I’m sure he’d jump at the chance but no – that’s not necessary.”
She studied his pensive expression.
“Oh, I know that look. You want to say something as delicately as possible.”
Sam blew out a breath and smiled. “I can’t hide anything from you.”
After a minute, he continued.
“I really don’t like the way Angel went about breaking it off with you but...in the end, I understand why he did it. Sorry.”
Buffy bit down on her lip. “Don’t be. I – I get it. I know he’s doing it because he wants me to be happy but – that doesn’t make it hurt any less.”
She lowered her eyes as she felt an onslaught of tears rising.
“And it hurts so much.”
Buffy could no longer hold back the pain. She let out the tears as her face darkened with misery. She dipped her head on Sam’s shoulder. He enclosed his arms around her and held her as she cried.
Sam shot down the stairs and entered the kitchen. He heard Joyce and his dad conversing out back. He ransacked the freezer and retrieved two pints of ice cream. He gathered two spoons and ambled back up the stairs. Buffy had a mix tape of sad songs playing when Sam returned with the ice cream. They sat on the floor against the bed and pried the lids off the ice cream. Buffy heaved a few breaths, tears still flowing from her eyes. She shoved a scoop of Chubby Hubby in her mouth. She paused as her mind dove into a minute of reflection.
“Hey, I just realized something. I’m sitting here, eating ice cream, crying about how I won’t get to go to a school dance. Your brother would be loving this moment.”
Sam narrowed his eyes on her, perplexed.
“Remember a few years ago when you and Dean and I went patrolling for the first time and I was complaining about how slaying kept me from participating in normal high school activities?”
Sam thought for a long minute. “Wow. You actually remembered something he said two years ago?”
She shrugged. “It kind of just surfaced from the back of my mind. Anyway, here I am, eating and lamenting.”
Her mind traveled away from her sad memories.
“Where’s your brother? Out with another shop girl?”
“Actually, he’s changing a tire. We got a flat a couple miles outside of town. I got a ride in with dad.”
“You left him there by himself?”
Sam chuckled, “Well, he’s a big boy.”
Buffy knocked him lightly on the shoulder. “I just meant, he’s got issues with being alone.”
Sam’s smile faded. “What makes you say that?”
“Well, the last time you guys were here and he was saddled with the flu, you and your dad went out and he was alone in my house. When I came home, he was practically begging me to keep him company. We kind of bonded – quite well.”
“What? Dean doesn’t beg and he definitely doesn’t bond.”
“He never said anything about it?”
“Uh, he may have said you watched a movie with him because you were bored. But the word beg never came up.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Figures.”
She heard heavy footsteps in the corridor.
“What’s going on in here?”
Dean paused in her doorway. His hands and tee shirt were greasy with oil. He looked exhausted as he adjusted his bag over his shoulder.
“We were just sharing and caring,” Buffy answered.
“Oh. Thank god I missed that.”
He pushed back into the corridor. Buffy heard the guest bathroom door shut followed by the spray of the shower.
“Are you feeling better?”
Buffy regarded Sam and drew a smile. “Yeah, I do. I’m glad you’re here and I’m glad we’ve always managed to stay friends. We always will, right?”
She reached out and brushed her hand on top of Sam’s.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure we will.”
Sam paused on the curb as he waited for his brother to catch up. Dean had spent awhile in the auto parts shop before stopping in several stores along the downtown district. Sam tapped his foot impatiently as he spotted Dean chatting with some people in a crowd gathered outside a dress boutique. At least five minutes passed before Dean made his way back to Sam.
“Dude, check it out. A teenage guy was ripped to shreds in a dress shop yesterday. Police are writing it up as a vicious wild animal attack. We should look into it. Chances are that wild animal sprung from the Hellmouth.”
Sam scowled, “I’ve got more important things to do right now.”
Dean frowned, not liking Sam’s tone. “And what might that be? Curling your hair?”
Sam ignored him and sauntered down the sidewalk. He quickened his pace and weaved through a throng of people headed in the opposite direction. He glanced behind him to see his brother had stopped to converse with a young woman in a nurse’s uniform. Sam rolled his eyes as he got lost in another crowd.
Dean whistled under his breath as he watched the hot candy striper take off down the street. When he shifted his eyes back to Sam, he frowned. He lost his brother. Dean launched off the curb and looked into the windows of each shop he passed. He stopped abruptly when he saw Sam’s profile inside a men’s formalwear store.
Dean stumbled into the shop and eyed the racks of suits and tuxedos. He spotted Sam in the back of the shop.
“Dude, why did you ditch me? That wasn’t cool.”
“I felt like it,” Sam grumbled.
“What are we doing in here?”
Sam sighed. “What does it look like? I’m shopping for a tuxedo.”
Dean watched as Sam picked through some of the ensembles.
“What the hell for? You getting hitched? If you are, you’re shopping in the wrong store. You need the bridal department man.”
Dean chuckled at his clever potshot. Sam merely rolled his eyes.
“Seriously dude, why do you need a monkey suit?”
“I’m taking Buffy to the Prom.”
Dean’s amused smile quickly faded. “Why? I figured she roped Grandpa Munster into taking her. I mean Prom is just a pathetic excuse for a guy to waste a bunch of money on a chick so he’ll get laid at the end of the night.”
“Well, if that’s what you believe, maybe you should take Buffy to the Prom instead.”
Sam drew a small smirk over his face.
Dean scoffed, “I’d never go to some lame dance. No way.”
Sam grinned wide, suddenly in a better mood. “Why not? You’d get the girl.”
Dean studied his brother for a very long moment. A sales clerk with thinning white hair approached them,
“Can I help you find something?” he asked.
Sam pulled off a few options. “Yes, I’d like to try these on.”
Sam followed the sales clerk to the dressing rooms. He went inside one of the rooms and began to change. Dean picked up the cryptic conversation.
“So tell me why you’re playing escort?” he asked.
The wheels in his head began to churn furiously.
“Aw crap, is Angel evil? Is he going to blow up the high school or something?”
“No. He’s not evil...well, not in the way we’ve seen,” Sam replied.
Dean sighed, “Huh?”
“Angel broke up with Buffy last night.”
Sam went into the details as he came out of the dressing room to examine himself in the full length mirror.
“He dumped her while they were down in the sewer looking for a vampire.”
“The night before her Prom?”
“And then he’s leaving after Graduation?”
Sam nodded again.
“Well that’s...pretty rotten.”
Sam eyed his brother. “I thought you’d sympathize with Angel – since you’ve had a lot of practice in the area of breaking a girl’s heart.”
“I don’t sympathize with Angel. Well, I get it and all and I’ve pulled some similar crap with chicks before but Jesus – after everything she’s been through – he’s breaking her heart again.”
Dean reflected briefly on something, the lines of his face softening.
Sam shot his brother a look of bewilderment. “Wow Dean, that’s about the nicest thing you’ve ever said about Buffy behind her back. I think you’re starting to go sweet on her.”
Dean glared at Sam.
“Shut the hell up,” Dean snapped. “I’m just saying it’s not cool. And if you breathe one word of this to anyone – I swear I’ll beat the crap out of you.”
Sam chuckled, knowing he had clearly hit a nerve.
“Are we done here?”
“No, we’re not done.”
Dean drew a pained look on his face as he leaned against the wall.
“I’d rather be tortured slowly than to have to sit through this.”
Sam sighed. “So go then.”
Dean pushed off the wall and drew a few steps toward the front door. He paused and pivoted around.
“Say Sammy, you’re not – expecting anything at the end of the dance – are you?”
Sam snickered loudly. “Why? Would that bother you?”
“No,” Dean answered quickly, “Do what you want.”
Dean swept out of the tuxedo shop as Sam’s laughter echoed in the air.
Buffy was stuffing a bag with weapons when she heard the front door open followed by footsteps. She looked over her shoulder to see Sam in the doorway. He flashed a smile.
“Hey. I’m glad I caught you.”
She smiled back at him. “Well, here I am. Why do you need to catch me?”
“Well, I wanted to find out what color your dress is so I can – get a corsage that doesn’t clash.”
She gave him a strange look.
“That’s what a prom date does right? Buy their date a corsage? I’ve never been to one but I think that’s the proper etiquette.”
She opened her mouth slightly, realizing what he was alluding to.
“Buffy, I’m not letting you miss out on your Prom. You deserve to go and have fun. You’ve always wanted a defining moment in your life that didn’t involve slaying. And I’d be – honored if you’d let me give that to you.”
Buffy drew in a breath, quite touched by Sam’s gesture.
“What do you say? Will you let me escort you to your school dance?”
Dean was watching television when Sam and Buffy trudged down the stairs. They were chatting cheerfully. Sam disappeared into the kitchen.
“Guess what? Your brother asked me to be his date to Prom.”
Dean rolled his eyes, not looking at either of them.
“Yeah, I heard.”
Buffy propped herself on the edge of the couch. “He’s going the whole nine yards – tux, corsage, slow dancing. I guess that means I need to show him some gratitude at the end of the night, huh?”
He kept his eyes on the television screen. Sam swept in from the kitchen, eating a snack.
“Oh Dean, I wanted to ask you if I can borrow your car tonight.”
That got his attention. He shifted his eyes on Sam.
“Well, I couldn’t get a limo and I saw the car looking really nice.”
Dean huffed. “I didn’t spend two hours washing and waxing her for your little costume party. You can walk.”
“Dean, come on. It’s Prom.”
“It’s a dance.”
Sam sighed. “Well, you could be nice and drive us there.”
Dean glared at him. “Is my name Jeeves? Do I serve you tea and biscuits and bring you your morning paper?”
“Forget it,” Sam grumbled.
Buffy clutched her athletic bag. “Well, you can help in another way, if you want. I’m on a brain meat hunt.”
“Hellhounds, fresh brains, demented student...interested?”
Dean took a minute to process her description. He bolted to his feet excitedly.
“That’s a hell of a lot more interesting than a dance. Let’s go.”
On the way to the docks, Buffy imparted to Dean all of the details involving the attack at the dress shop. She glanced at him after she was finished to gauge his reaction.
“So hellhounds are attacking kids in formalwear because some pathetic dork got rejected one too many times. This just proves my belief that school dances – SUCK.”
He chuckled to himself.
“We don’t know what his deal is yet.”
“Oh come on, it’s obvious. He chose a night of great importance to every high school girl in America that obsesses over who to be seen with to increase their popularity. The kid’s got a vendetta against those types and any event that propels enormous amounts of pressure within the social circle. The last rejection was really his last.”
Buffy blinked in amazement.
“What? I can’t have a theory?”
“Who are you?”
Dean eased the Impala across the street from the loading docks. He waited for Buffy to exit the car before reaching into the glove compartment. He rifled through various identification badges before settling on one. He climbed out of the car and fell in to step with Buffy as she ambled toward a meat packing plant at the far end of the docks. Dean surveyed the foot traffic going in and out of the plant.
“No security, this shouldn’t be too difficult.”
It was easier than they thought. They walked right in to the plant and flagged down a heavy set man in a blood stained uniform.
“I’ll have to check the log. It’s inside the office.”
Dean followed the man toward the back of the plant. Buffy strolled around the entrance and froze when she spotted someone on the other end of the loading dock.
Dean headed back to the entrance after five quick minutes. He was highly amused at how easily he had obtained the information.
“Yahtzee. Turns out this kid orders off the menu here at a least twice a week. I got the address...”
Dean looked up to see Buffy with Angel. He noticed Angel was holding a clear bag with a couple of containers of blood.
“Oh, I guess this place is popular for - take out.”
A thick, glaring silence barged through the air.
“Awkward,” Dean said quietly.
He shifted his feet and regarded Buffy and Angel.
“Uh, I’ll wait in the car.”
He swiftly disappeared, leaving the two ex-lovers alone.
Buffy swallowed a dry lump in her throat.
“I should go. I have to stop a deranged student from inflicting bloodshed at the Prom.”
“You’re going? Alone?” Angel asked.
“Well I was going alone,” she replied, “But not anymore.”
“You found a date?”
He looked out at the parking lot and came to a conclusion.
“Dean, he’s – he’s taking you.”
Angel looked hurt.
“No. Sam’s taking me.”
Angel hid his relief. “Oh. That’s nice of him.”
Buffy gulped and nodded. “Yeah, it is. Sam’s a nice guy. He doesn’t...”
She stopped herself. She had to stay focused on her mission.
“I need to go now.”
“I can help.”
She shakes her head, “I’ve got all the help I need.”
She bolted out of the plant.
Dean lowered the volume on the radio when he heard the passenger side door swing open. Buffy climbed in, looking extremely flustered. Dean felt another awkward moment as she stared blankly out the window.
“So uh, is it takedown time?”
Buffy regarded him and nodded. “I just want to make a brief stop at the library first.”
She sat back in her seat as Dean exited the loading docks and pulled onto the street.
Dean eased the car next to a dark ramshackle house.
“Let’s do this,” Buffy replied.
Her voice was laced with determination as she walked up to the door. Dean peered through the window.
“No one’s home.”
He checked the door and found it locked.
“I can pick it if you give me a second.”
Buffy propped her foot up and kicked the door in. Dean drew out a breath.
“That works too.”
They moved through the house which had a mess of wire cages, newspapers and dried blood strung along the floor. There were also various electronic pieces spread across a worn table. They split up and wandered through the house.
Dean checked a couple of rooms along the hall and found only the same mess as the main living area. He heard a scuffle toward the back of the house. He pushed through a door leading to the basement. He took off down the stairs when the shuffling continued. He ran in with a weapon in hand.
He blinked when he saw Buffy pinning a dark haired kid to the floor.
“Well, I guess you don’t need me.”
Buffy shifted her eyes to Dean.
“There is some rope in my bag. Can you toss it to me?”
Dean rummaged through one of his pockets and chucked her a pair of handcuffs. She caught them and frowned.
“What is it with you and handcuffs?”
She noticed him struggling to find an answer. She shook her head and latched the handcuffs on the kid.
“Hell dog is back in its cage,” Dean replied.
The kid chuckled under his breath. “You think you outsmarted me?”
Dean caught the kid glancing at a door behind the hellhound cage.
Dean tore through the door. Buffy came up behind him and eyed inside to see three more cages with video monitors. The cages were empty.
Buffy and Dean flew out of the car and raced toward the gymnasium. An incessant beat of dance music echoed in the quad as they entered the clearing. They spotted three hairy beasts trotting toward the gym and got their crossbows ready.
“Time to put the dogs to bed,” Dean replied.
She shot him a look before firing off the bolt at one of the hellhounds. The beast hollowed and collapsed to the ground. The remaining two beasts stopped and checked on their friend. After a quick second, the two hounds charged toward them.
“Dinner time!” Dean hollered.
Buffy took off as the hellhounds bounded after her at top speed. Dean leveled his crossbow and waited for the hounds to close in.
“Come on Fido!”
Dean finally fired off a bolt and watched it sail through the air. The hellhound he had aimed for jutted suddenly to the right and out of the path of the bolt, which hit a bulletin board.
“Damn,” Dean said.
A disco song by Earth, Wind and Fire blasted through the gym speakers. Upon hearing the tune, the hellhounds regrouped and took off toward the gym.
“So much for that,” Buffy said. “Let’s go!”
Buffy darted after the hellhounds, hearing Dean’s heavy footsteps behind her. When she stepped into the hallway, she saw the two hellhounds about to barrel through the main doors of the gym. She launched herself into the air and shot her elbow out, slamming it into one of the hounds as she landed hard on top of it.
Buffy began to tackle the hellhound to the ground but the demon beast was not making it easy. The second hellhound had slipped through the door.
Dean charged toward the door and grabbed the hellhound’s back paws. The hellhound howled and scratched as Dean struggled to yank it back into the hallway. The hellhound kicked and scratched at Dean while shrieking. Dean shoved his booted feet into the hellhound’s belly. The hound blew back slightly but then charged at him. The hellhound leaped into the air, flashing its razor sharp claws as it made the descent toward Dean.
Dean ripped out his knife and slammed it into the hellhound’s neck. The hound wailed in pain but flailed around. Dean put the beast of its misery, making a fatal slice across the neck. He threw the limp hound off of him. He got to his feet and brushed himself off. He looked over to see Buffy had taken care of the other hellhound in a similar fashion.
Buffy eyed the hellhound carnage and then glanced at Dean as he dusted himself off. She watched him remove a rag from one of his pockets as he cleaned the blood from his knife. A small smile creased her face when she noticed he had used the knife she got him for Christmas. He paused, feeling her gaze.
“Uh, we probably should get rid of these things.”
They dragged the two hellhounds behind some bushes. Dean went back to retrieve the third one lying in the middle of the quad. He noticed Buffy spying over at the gym.
“I can take care of these.”
Buffy looked at him, “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, you’re already late for the ball.”
She brightened and bent over to reach into her weapons bag. She unfolded a garment bag and admired it for a second.
“No problem. Go have your defining moment.”
She flashed him an appreciative smile before heading off toward the gym.
Buffy weaved through the gymnasium filled with the senior class. She gave an amused smile when she picked Sam out right away. He was the tallest guy in the gym. She tapped on his shoulder and he grinned.
“Wow Buffy, you look beautiful.”
“Thank you. You look handsome.”
Willow and Oz spotted them and the four ventured around the gymnasium to admire the decorations and assortment of snacks.
After disposing of the hellhound carcasses, Dean cleaned up in the restroom and ambled down the corridor leading to the gym. He poked his head inside the doors. Throngs of teenagers in various splashes of color milled around the gym, dancing, chatting and eating, completely unaware that a short time ago, demonic beasts from Hell had almost crashed their party.
He eyed a table of unattended refreshments and slipped inside. No one seemed to notice he seemed out of place. He piled a small plastic plate full of snacks and looked around for his brother. He found Sam in the middle of the dance floor trying to move to a fast disco song. Sam’s long arms flailed around like Mr. Fantastic as he improvised some moves.
Dean bolted over with laughter as he popped a few appetizers in his mouth. His smile dissipated when he noticed a crowd moving toward the punch bowl. He zipped back out the doors and peeked inside every once in awhile. He heard the echo of feedback from the microphone on stage and found himself pressed to a corner inside the gym. There were a bunch of class awards given out, boring stuff. Dean wandered back over to the refreshment table freely when most of the students were facing the stage. He still kept to a corner by the door as a short kid with dark hair continued to announce winners. Dean shifted his feet, growing increasingly bored. Is this what they do at Prom? Give out stupid awards for Class Clown and Best Hair? Geez.
Dean snatched up a third helping of food and headed back toward the doors leading to the hallway. He paused and pivoted when he heard a familiar name ring through the microphone. He turned to see Buffy, all dolled up in a pink gown making her way toward the stage. A spotlight washed over her, highlighting the golden tones of her hair as she stepped onto the stage.
Dean was surprised at how caught up in the moment he was as Buffy reached the stage and accepted a special award given to her by the senior class. He saw the astonished look on her face as the entire gymnasium full of people erupted in a smattering of whistles and applause. He drew a breath as Buffy beamed a smile that burned into his memory.
Dean understood now why Sam had been so adamant in providing her one little bookmark of a normal life. For a moment, Dean was a little jealous that Sam had been the one to give Buffy her night at the ball.
He blinked as the moment quickly passed through him. What a lame ass dance. The food was pretty tasty though.
Dean swept out of the gym, pocketing a few more snacks for later.
Feedback appreciated. This wraps up season 3. Moving on to Buffy in college season 4. With Sam gone, Dean is feeling vulnerable and he will not be able to deny his feelings for Buffy anymore. Buffy will learn something surprising about Dean that changes her view about him in a big way. And yes, just when Dean owns up to his feelings for Buffy, here comes Riley!