Chapter 35: Listen to Your Heart
Disclaimer: Songs belong to artists noted.A/N:
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Two weeks ago:
The dark night sky was brightened by just the large moonbeams that sparkled over the black ocean water. The rise and fall of the high tide against the sand was almost hypnotic as Buffy gazed into the horizon, enjoying a rare moment of serenity. She inhaled a breath as she scanned the area for the demon she and Dean tracked to a remote beach near the Sunnydale lighthouse. She glanced behind her and watched Dean as he whittled a large stick with a knife, completely oblivious to the beauty of the night.
Buffy shuffled over to Impala which was hugging the sandy barrier of the parking lot. Dean was sitting on the hood of the car, intently carving out a stake. He had rolled down all the windows and cranked up the volume of the stereo to cut through the silence.
Buffy eyed the empty lot with surprise as the beach known as Lookout Point was popular among the frisky teenage and college crowd and aptly dubbed “Makeout Park” for all the lusty activity that took place in the spot. Even though there had been an attack a few miles down the beach, she had always come across a few daring people who didn’t seem intimidated by the danger lurking in the dark. Tonight, she and Dean were completely alone waiting for the demon to emerge from its watery grave.
Buffy leaned against the front of the car and kept her eyes on the water, searching for any signs of unusual movement. She noticed the music playing in the car was not nearly the ear splitting fare she had become accustomed to hearing. It was actually quite decent. “Baby, when I think about you, I think about love…”
Her eyes shifted back to Dean as he made slow, precise cuts along the grain of the wood. Every so often he would examine his work, slicing off any imperfections or spare splinters before moving on. “Darling, don’t live without you and your love…”
Buffy hitched her head up for a second when she heard a rustling near the shore. She let out a breath when she noticed the tide had washed in a thick patch of seaweed onto a clump of boulders.“Feel like making love….Feel like making love to you…”
She suddenly set her eyes on Dean and cracked an amused smile. Dean broke from his concentration when he heard her chuckling softly. He glanced at her as she continued to laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
Her eyes gleamed in the moonlight as she widened her grin.
“Are you trying to set the mood for something?”
Dean blinked, genuinely unaware of what she was implying.“Baby, If I think about you, I think about love…”
“What are you talking about?”
She snickered again and shook her head.
“Uh hello, this song is totally a mood setter and we’re all alone at – Makeout Park,” she replied pointedly.
He flashed a dismissive look. “We’re on a hunt and the silence is driving me crazy….I didn’t realize what song was playing.”
He angled the blade against the wood and briefly set his eyes back on her.
“Since when do you actually listen to the music playing in my car?”
She shrugged, “Since I realized it’s actually kind of decent…for you.”
He gave her a strange look. “Uh, okay, whatever.”
Buffy went back to watching the perimeter of the shore line as Dean continued to cut away at the stake.
“Why are you making a stake anyway? The demon we’re looking for can only be killed by something steel.”
Buffy shifted her eyes back on him as he brushed off some wood specks.
“Just killing time,” he said.
When she set her eyes back to the water, Dean looked her over for a long minute. And it keeps my mind distracted and my hands busy with other things….
“You could take in the view,” she advised. “It’s really quite pretty.”Wow, she’s actually noticed something right in front of her face for once.
He blew out a disheartened breath and settled his focus back on the stake.
“It’s just kind of funny that of all people, you and I are at – Makeout Park – and we’re not – you know – making out.”
When he looked up, he saw the amused smile beading her face.
“Yeah,” he replied sardonically. “That’s - hilarious.”
He huffed as she gazed out at the black horizon. The next track from Bad Company played on the stereo.“Should have told you by now, but I can't find the words, oh no…”
Dean gripped the stake and began to sharpen the tip, meticulously cleaving the wood in slow strokes.“If I could show you somehow, but I don't have the nerve, oh yeah...”
Dean suddenly became acutely aware of the song’s title – “If You Needed Somebody” – and rolled his eyes before
he glanced at Buffy still staring at the dark skyline. “You don't see me looking at you…”
He gazed at her profile as the moonlight bathed over her, accentuating the sheen of her blonde locks and the soft lines of her face. His mind captured the image and stored it away in the depths of his memory, regardless of the turmoil swimming in his heart. “How can love be so blind...”
Dean swallowed the thoughts forming in his mind. He was blatantly aware of the reputation of Lookout Point and had in the past, taken girls to similar secluded places without reservations. But tonight, with nothing but the stars watching over them, Dean had felt wildly apprehensive about his ability to stay in control of the desire brimming within him.
He stole a glance at Buffy as she pushed a lock of blonde hair behind her ear and inhaled a deep breath. If circumstances had been different, if he had not respected the hell out of this girl, he would not have hesitated to cease the moment and promote the notoriety of this spot. Buffy looked down at the sand as she wandered back to the car.“Somehow you don't notice me…”
Buffy let out a breath before she pulled herself up on the hood and sat a few inches from Dean. He tore his eyes away from her and struggled to concentrate on sharpening the stake’s point.“Sooner or later there will come a time, baby…”
A sharp breeze swept over him, washing the alluring scent of her perfume into his lungs. He gulped back the growing need churning in his body. He was unnerved by the way a simple scent made him feel weak in the knees. “If you need somebody, the way that I need you…”
The longer he drank in her moonlit painted face, the more rapid his composure began to unwind.“If you wanted somebody, the way that I want you…”
Buffy burrowed into her jacket to fight off the blast of frosty wind that was assaulting them at the moment. “If I could hold you tonight, it would last me forever…”
Dean swallowed his own bout of shivers and brushed off the urge to wrap her in his arms and protect her from the biting cold. “But the time's never right, when will we be together, oh no…”
Buffy groaned when the icy wind attack did not let up. She curled up against Dean and used him to block and deflect the wind from her path. Dean shut his eyes for a moment as he felt the heat of her body against him. He clenched the knife and stake tightly in his hands to prevent the longing from bleeding out of his system.“If I could make you understand, what you're doing to me...”
“You’re bleeding,” she said.
Dean looked down at his hands and noticed he had inadvertently punctured his right index finger with the tip of the stake.
“It’s nothing,” he replied dismissively.
“No, let me see it.”
She pried his hand away from the stake and examined the cut. Dean felt a jolt when her hand cradled his.“Maybe there will come a time, when sooner or later I will make you see, baby…”
She drew her eyes back to his and paused when she saw the intensity of his expression.What is the worse thing that could happen if you tried something? She’ll just hit you and you’ll be sore for a week. You’re used to that so what the hell Dean, just do it
Curiosity brewed in her eyes.“Ooh, if I could tell you now, the way you make me feel…”
Dean heard his self-composure snap as he laced his hand around her small wrist and gently pulled her closer. “Ooh, if I could show you somehow…”
As she opened her mouth to speak, he stopped her with a passion loaded kiss. Her body had stiffened upon his action but gradually softened against his.“Don't you know my lovin' is oh so real…”
When she didn’t fight his advances, he deepened the kiss and wrapped his arms tightly around her, absorbing the feel of every sensation coursing through him. He let go of the hunger that had built and boiled over throughout the months, transferring the degree of that longing into every touch. She gripped the collar of his shirt and pulled him down on top of her as she leaned back against the hood. His hands snaked up under her coat, exploring every line and curve of her body. Jesus Dean, why the hell didn’t you do this months ago?
He heard her moan his name softly a couple of times.
Dean abruptly burst from his waking fantasy and blinked a few times to see Buffy staring at him with immense curiosity. She had buried her hands in her coat pocket and fastened all the buttons up to the collar to stave off the cold wind. He noticed he had completely imagined her taking cover against him and all of the events that unfolded after that. He silently cursed himself for letting his mind entertain a futile thought.
Disturbed by the lingering image in his head, Dean looked away briefly before noticing he had cut the inside of his right palm. He cleared his throat and struggled to steady his racing heartbeat.
Her eyes twinkled. “Oh, so you’re not going to pass out at the sight of blood now?”
Her attempt at sarcasm was lost on him as he stamped out the flames of hope from his mind.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
Buffy eyed him with mild concern before letting it go. “Nothing. I think we should call it a night. Aquaman isn’t going to come to shore.”
“Yeah….good idea. No sense in hanging out here anymore.”
As he slid off the car, he swallowed a hard lump in his throat when he recognized the severe tightening in his body.
Buffy circled the car to the passenger side and drew a silly grin. “Hey, we can always stick around and….make out or something…when in Rome…”
He paused, a little startled by her comment.
“And then you can take me home and not call me in the morning,” she quipped.
He blinked back the sting of her statement as he slowly pushed off toward the sandy pathway. Buffy leaned against the door frame and frowned.
“You’re going for a walk now?”
“Uh…I’ve got a - …cramp in my leg….need to walk it off a little. I’ll be back in a bit.”
“Oh, okay, be careful.”
He gave a dry smile as she climbed into passenger seat.
A short time later, the driver side door seat creaked open. Dean settled in behind the wheel and let the car warm up. Buffy rummaged through her bag and pulled out a pink bandana. He glanced at her and noticed she was reaching for his bloodied hand. He jerked his hand away.
“What are you doing?”
“I was going to clean and dress that up for you so it won’t get infected.”
He regarded the pink bandana. “Are you kidding me? Do I look like an eight year old girl? Besides, it’s not even bleeding anymore.”
He wiped his hand on his shirt before gunning the engine and veering the car onto the main road. After driving several minutes without conversation, he stole a glance over at her and met her glaring eyes.
“What’s with you?” she asked flatly. “You were cool as ice up until a few minutes ago. What’s bothering you?”You are, dammit.
Dean flipped through the radio stations until he heard the heavy hitting beat of a Metallica song.
“Nothing,” he replied succinctly.
Buffy studied him for a long moment as he cranked the volume up on the stereo. After awhile, her eyes drifted to the road. When he pulled up in front of the dorms, it was after midnight. Buffy climbed out of the passenger seat and leaned through the open window.
“When are you headed out tomorrow?”
“When I’ve figured out where these coordinates are that dad sent me.”
Dean flashed the screen of his cell phone before setting it beside him.
“You know, my mom has been wondering when your dad is going to come around again. He hasn’t returned her calls and she’s been kind of moping because she doesn’t have too many friends.”
“I’ll mention it to him when I see him.”
“Okay, I’ll see you in a month or so,” she replied. “Don’t kill any old ladies when you’re out breaking those speed limits, wouldn’t want you to cry your eyes out.”
Buffy gave an amused smile. Dean rolled his eyes but fired back his own sarcastic remark.
“Don’t go swapping spit with anymore vampires,” he quipped.
“Eww!” she shrieked as her amusement faded.
After a minute of letting the horrid image leave her, she drew out breath.
“Oh….I totally forgot you’ve been trying to tell me something…now is a good time, don’t you think?”
He looked at her for a long moment. “Uh, yeah. I wanted to tell you….I’m glad you convinced me to come out…Wouldn’t have missed this.”
“Yeah, never a dull moment around here, huh?’
“You got that right….anyway, I should get going.”
She smiled sweetly and stepped away from the car. “Okay, take care.”
“You too,” he replied.
He glanced in the rear view mirror as she watched him drive down the road. He drew out a deep breath as he absorbed the sting in his heart he had ignored until now.
The following morning, after determining the location of his dad’s coordinates, Dean packed in a hurried manner and let the car warm up before peeling out of the parking lot of the motor lodge He heaved a long breath as he cranked the volume up on a Whitesnake song. “I don’t know where I’m going….but I sure know where I’ve been.”
Dean eyed the sign “Now leaving Sunnydale” as he left the city limits. He normally washed away rejection with a dismissive glance and this time should have been no different. The trouble was, stamping out the memory of a girl he had known most of his life was no easy task, especially since he had reluctantly agreed to keep visiting her. He couldn’t grapple the idea of cutting her out of his life but he needed a break. You finally know how she feels about you so just shake it off man; shake it off before this kills you.
He rolled down the window. “An' I've made up my mind…I ain't wasting no more time…”
He needed to sever these feelings that had been interfering with his ability to concentrate. In his line of work, he could not afford distractions. He had always been able to contain his emotions and focus on the job at hand. He couldn’t keep pining for a girl who had clearly had no interest in him. He had to be at the top of his game or people would get hurt. Just let it go. You can’t keep wasting time and effort on one girl who doesn’t even notice you – there are other fish in the sea.
Dean sighed as his mind wrestled with thoughts. “But, here I go again on my own.”
He rolled down the window and tore onto the highway he had driven across hundreds of times over the years. “Going down the only road I’ve ever known….”
He blew out a breath as the cynical thoughts kept ringing through him.You’ve got to stop doing this to yourself. Bury it and move on. It would have been nice if she felt the same way about you and you could be happy together but face it Dean, it’s never going to happen. Even if it did, she’s there and you’re everywhere…it wouldn’t work out for too long anyway…
He tried to snap himself out of his gloomy state of mind but the rumbling in his heart continued on. “Like a drifter I was born to walk alone…”
His heart grew heavy as the proverbial “devil” on his shoulder continued to rant in his ear.Forget what you’re feeling in your heart for her. You don’t need her to love you. You don’t need anyone. You’re just freaking out because you don’t want to end up alone. You have to get yourself out this funk man, you did it once before when Cassie threw you out of her life, you can do it again. She’s just a girl Dean, she’s like all the rest and you’ll get over it. You have to. Dad needs you to focus and back him up. Cut your losses Dean. You can’t make her love you so move the hell on. Shut yourself down and go back to what you’re good at.
Dean pressed down on the gas pedal and felt the jolt of the car as it lurched forward. The sooner he left state lines, the better.
The temperature in the small town of Wiley, Colorado had dropped into the twenties by nightfall as a light snowstorm kept the handful of residents indoors. Dean had dutifully finished cleaning up a campsite where he and his dad had hunted and killed a werewolf that had been attacking local residents. He had been grateful to dive into the case as soon as he arrived into town.
After he took a quick shower to wash off the stink of hairy demon dog, he had found his dad buried in research. John looked up and acknowledged his son’s eagerness to venture out.
“I want to start out early tomorrow,” John said. “So keep that in mind.”
Dean nodded, “Yes sir.”
He pushed out the door and shivered when a frosty wind blasted over him. He straightened the collar of his jacket and tugged the zipper up until he was blanketed with warmth. His booted feet crunched on a fresh layer of snow as he ambled across the street to a sports bar that had heavily advertised the best happy hour in all of Colorado.
Shortly after breezing inside the bar, three young women in snug ski outfits caught his eye and smiled. The ice in his veins melted away as he flashed back a smile at all three of the girls. He basked in the attention as the girls fawned over him some more. Yeah, you still got it.
The place was full of lively sports fanatics watching various telecasts of games on a bank of televisions mounted behind the bar. Dean strolled up to the counter as an attractive strawberry blonde approached him. Her eyes danced with interest as she asked him for his order.
“If you’re interested, the Brandy is free tonight.”
Dean cracked a smile as he saw the desire gleaming in her blue eyes. His eyes rolled over the curves in her body, pausing on the snug pink crop top highlighting her exceptionally ample breasts. He noticed the nametag pinned on top of her shirt: Brandee. Well, I take it the two ‘ee’s stand for eager and easy.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” he replied.
She poured him a beer from the tap and slid the mug over.
“My shift ends in an hour,” she replied.
As he weaved through the bar, an exotic vixen swept her eyes over him and shot him a seductive look. Damn, I don’t even have to blink and the girls are all over me!
Dean grinned back at her as she passed by. The world is right again.
He ambled over to the pool tables and started to play as a maple haired waitress dropped a napkin at his side. He noticed a phone number scrawled on the napkin and grinned as he took a long sip from his beer mug. His cheerless state of existence had finally cracked away after two weeks of wallowing in his own self-pity. As the waitress swept by him again, he met her eyes and flashed her a sexy smile. She reciprocated with an encouraging smile that screamed to him, I want you. See Dean? The chicks in here notice you, are interested in you and make it known what they want. Damn straight. Why the hell did you let yourself get so down over one girl Dean? For every one chick that shoots you down, there are ten others aching to dive into your bed. You have your pick of the litter.
She gave you the “I love you like a friend” kiss of death speech so stop wasting any more of your time and effort. You were just infatuated with her because she’s hot and can kick ass. That is all it was, now get over it. You need to get that girl out of your system, even if you have to screw every chick you come across.
Forty-five minutes and a few beers later, Dean followed Brandee up the stairs to her apartment unit above the sports bar, hoping his self prescribed medicine would alleviate the chronic murmur in his heart.
Two nights later:
The UNLV sorority girl twirled a lock of her auburn hair as she drew pink glossed lips into a flirtatious smile. After six grueling hours of work in the Las Vegas desert, Dean had stopped into the Red Kilt pub adjacent to the university. The crowd consisted primarily of fraternity and sorority members.
“Ah, I see.”
“Yeah,” Kaylee said, “There are so many ways to spell it….like K-a-l-ey….or C-a-y-l-e-e…”
Dean shifted in his seat as he plowed down another glass of Jim Beam. He watched the blank look on Kayley’s face as she went on and on about the various spellings of her name. Jesus, this girl is dumb as a doorknob, how the hell did she get into college?…Oh what does it matter anyway? I’m not interested in talking to her for too long.
“Wow,” he said, “That’s fascinating.”
Kayley suddenly stopped talking as if she forgot the subject matter.
“Uhhhh,” she said.
“You want to get out of here now?”
The Kappa Kappa Gamma house was a short trek across the street. Ten scantily clothed girls shuffled down the hallway in bunny slippers, prompting Dean to shift his attention to new prospects. Kayley had tugged him around a corner and into her bedroom, locking the door behind her. Dean was surprised to hear the chain of curse words she had cried out once she reached the peak of her ecstasy. The extra long twin bed creaked and shook as she tossed out expletives even he had never heard of. “What seemed to be an infatuation….Is so different now….”
Dean eyed the pink radio on Kayley’s desk as he heard Foreigner’s “I Don’t Want to Live Without You” playing softly. “I can’t get by if we’re not together…Ooh can’t you see…”
His mind was drawn to the face of a girl he was trying to forget. “Girl, I want you now and forever….Close to me…”
Dean broke from his memory when Kayley growled above him. “I’m longing for the time…I’m longing for the day…Hoping that you will promise to be mine...
And never go away…”
He blew out a breath as he heard a voice in his head. Tune the song out man and get lost in this chick. “I don’t want to live without you…”
The little devil on his shoulder whispered in his ear again. Come on Dean, forget about her. Just forget her. She defined the boundaries of your relationship and it’s obvious she is not going to cross them. “I could never live without you…”
He had lost all enjoyment now as his mind was bombarded with memories of patrols, nights at the Bronze, watching movies when he was sick and just driving around in his car with a certain blonde haired Slayer who remained blind to his heartache. When he closed his eyes, his mind drifted deep into the gallery of his mind as vivid images sprung before him: her smile, her laugh, the gleeful look in her eye when she defeated the enemy. His heart swelled with warmth at the thoughts that swam through his head. Goddammit Dean, stop listening to your heart…that’s how you got in this mess! She doesn’t want you, she doesn’t need you…forget about it…forget her! Just forget her!
The sensation of hair whipping across his face brought him back to the room as Kayley collapsed on top of him, her face plastered with a satisfied grin.
Dean felt his heart rumble and stamped out the pessimistic voice screaming into his ear. After another minute, Kaylee went to shower and Dean quickly got dressed and bolted out the door.
One week later:
On a late Friday afternoon, Buffy and Riley strolled along campus and weaved through pockets of jovial students anxious for the weekend break.
“So uh, tomorrow is Saturday,” Riley stated.
“Yes, that is usually what comes after Friday,” Buffy quipped.
Buffy cracked smile as Riley flushed a beet red.
“I guess I meant to ask, what are your plans this weekend?”
Buffy was endeared by how bashful Riley was around her sometimes.
“Oh, not much, I think I might attempt to tackle the ever growing pile of laundry in my room….or just stare at it with great intimidation in hopes it will just wash itself….what about you?”
Riley perked with a smile, “I was thinking tomorrow we could take that drive I talked to you about, I could come by early in the morning…”
Buffy suddenly winced upon hearing Riley mention driving. Riley’s smile faded when he noticed her look.
“You’re not interested in a road trip anymore?”
She drew her eyes back to Riley, “No, no, I am. It’s just…I forgot I do have plans tomorrow…Dean and his dad are going to be coming in, my mom’s making them a special breakfast and she’s really excited about it and….”
Riley sunk with disappointment. Buffy bit her lip.
“Uh, oh, you can come too if you want, I can ask my mom if it would be okay but she usually makes a lot for them anyway and I….”
“No, it’s okay,” Riley replied, “We’ll plan for another day.”
Buffy glanced at him.
“Are you sure?”
Riley drew a smile, “Yes, it’s fine.”
Buffy reciprocated his smile. She was still amazed at how easy going Riley was to be around. She had been used to turmoil and pain with the guys in her life but Riley seemed so even heeled, so decent, so….right.
Early Saturday morning, Buffy gave a short wave to Willow as she exited her dorm room. When she spilled out of the building, she spotted the Impala peeling around the corner. As she started down the walkway, the car angled against the curb. The low rumble of the car was almost hypnotic as Buffy glanced at Dean drumming his hands on the dashboard to one of his ear piercing rock songs. As she climbed into the passenger side, a heavy drumbeat filled the car.
“Hey, how are you?” she asked.
“Starving,” Dean answered. “Do you have any idea what your mom is making?”
He pulled away from the curb as Buffy rolled down the window.
“Uh, I think mom mentioned making waffles with that fruity topping and whip cream.”
She met his eyes and saw them pop with excitement.
“Sweet,” he chimed.
Buffy couldn’t help but smile at his cheerful attitude. She watched him as began to bob his head to the beat and mouthed the words to The Scorpions song playing in the car. “Here I am, rock you like a hurricane…”
Buffy snickered when Dean shot her a playful wink. “Here I am, rock you like a hurricane…”
“You actually like this song?”
The delight on his face faltered slightly.
“No knocking the music or I’m knocking you right out of this car.”
Buffy listened to the lyrics and observed the confidence brimming from his face as he lost himself in the song.
“Oh, I get it,” she said, breaking into a grin.
He glanced at her, “Get what?”
“This is your theme song….Dean the Machine’s theme song…”
She chuckled for a long minute as his eyes rolled.
“Must you crack my good mood?”
“Do you like tip the bartender an extra twenty if he puts this on the jukebox as you walk in?”
Buffy giggled at the image of Dean swaggering into a bar, dripping with confidence, waiting for girls to fall into his arms.
Dean frowned and cranked the dial to another rock station.
“Thanks for ruining a totally kick ass song,” he grumbled.
She snickered, “Oh come on Dean, I’m just poking fun at you…..again….”
He scowled as he peeled around a corner. Buffy smiled smugly as he shook his head and turned onto Revello Drive. He noticed his dad’s truck in the driveway as he pulled alongside the curb.
“Dad is already here? How the hell did he beat me here?”
The front door was unlocked as Buffy swept inside. The aroma of espresso beans and hot waffles blanketed the air. Dean grinned as he inhaled the smell and heard his stomach rumbling loudly. Joyce popped her head out from the kitchen and smiled.
“Dean, it’s so good to see you,” she said. “Come on in and help yourself, everything is ready.”
Dean walked into the kitchen and blinked in amazement when he saw his dad in an apron, pouring batter into the waffle maker.
“Uh dad…are you like channeling your inner Martha Stewart or something?”
John noticed his son’s eyes regarding the fluffy blue apron wrapped around his waist.
“Don’t you know the Saturday rule Dean? You cook your own food,” Joyce replied.
Dean drew a look of absolute horror when he saw her stern face. After a minute, Joyce cracked a smile.
“Kidding Dean, kidding,” she said.
Joyce, Buffy and John all chuckled with wild amusement.
“Your father put me up to it,” Joyce confessed.
She exchanged amused smiles with John before pouring a cup of steaming coffee. Dean rolled his eyes and shook his head.
“Oh lighten up, Hurricane,” Buffy quipped.
Dean glared at Buffy as she struggled to hold back a laugh.
“Is Saturday knock Dean day?”
“No, that’s everyday,” Buffy replied dismissively.
Dean hurriedly piled a stack of waffles on his plate, plucked up a mug of coffee and headed toward the side door.
“I’m eating outside….away from all you jokesters.”
“Aw, did we hurt widdle Dean’s feelings…are you sad?”
Buffy mocked sad, puppy dog eyes.
“Are you gonna cry?”
Dean ignored her and swept through the door. He tried to drown out the sounds of the laughter, probably at his expense, echoing from the house. About a half hour later, he heard the door creak open. He looked back to see his dad leaning out the door.
“Dean, I want you to work on Joyce’s car while we’re out.”
Dean cocked an eyebrow, “You and Joyce are…going out?”
“She’s got a shipment of Mayan artifacts for an exhibit next week but she’s having a little trouble with the dating…I offered to take a look and help her sort through some of them. We’ll be gone for a few hours.”
Dean drew out a breath as he stamped out the unsettling idea of his dad romancing the mom of a girl he had entertained inappropriate thoughts about.
“Oh, okay,” he said. “What’s wrong with her car?”
“Battery is dead and the right headlight is burnt out” John answered. “Run a quick check on the oil and water
pump while you’re at it too. She left a blank check for you on the counter to cover supplies. I’d like you to take care of it by the time we get back, okay?”
Dean nodded, “I’ll get right on it.”
John stepped back inside. Dean heard shuffling in the kitchen before the front door opened and closed. He got up and went back into the house. The kitchen was empty and quiet. He put his empty plate in the sink and ambled into the living room. Buffy was sprawled out on the couch, flipping through the Entertainment section of the newspaper.
“Oh, not hiding anymore, huh?”
She drew a smug smile. Dean rolled his eyes as he headed for the front door. Buffy jerked up when she saw him go through the door. She found him popping the hood of her mom’s car.
Dean shot her annoyed look as he checked under the hood.
“What does it look like I’m doing?”
Feeling the weight of her gaze, Dean snapped his eyes up.
“Don’t you have a cheesy chick movie to watch or something?”
“How long is this going to take?”
“I’m finished when I’m finished,” he said.
Buffy frowned, feeling his irritation.
“I was just asking Mr. Grumpy Pants.”
Dean let out an exasperated breath, “I’m not grumpy, I’m just…”
“I was just wondering if you wanted to do something like…go to the mall…”
“Hello? Not Sam,” he said.
“Maybe we can just drive around for awhile,” she said.
“Well, I’ve got to get your mom’s car fixed up, so you can take a ride to the auto parts shop with me if you want.”
She winced, “Snore snore, bore bore.”
“Well, what do you want to do?”
She shrugged, “It’s just, if I had known that mom and John were going to be busy and you were going to be tinkering around with her car, I would have made plans with Riley.”
He pulled his eyes away from the hood and briefly set them on her.
“You’re dating him now?”
“No but we’ve sort of been talking about making plans…”
He looked at her for a long minute.
“Well, you and Mr. Roboto…..it’s a step up from vampires I guess.”
She frowned, “Riley is not Mr. Roboto.”
“Oh right, he’s too….”
Dean thought back for a moment.
“What the hell was that word Xander used? Tootin?”
Buffy hardened her frown, “Teutonic?”
He brightened, “Teutonic! Yeah, that’s it. Teutonic boy.”
She folded her arms over her chest and huffed, “Why do you always have to have an annoying nickname for my
“I thought you weren’t even dating yet, how is it that he’s your boyfriend now?”
She sighed, “I just meant, how come you have the inability to call a guy I’m dating by his actual name?”
He pulled out the dipstick from the engine and began to wipe the oil off with a rag.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Why do you care?”
“It’s disrespectful,” she said. “How would you like it if I called your ex-girlfriend……whatsherface.”
He looked up at her briefly.
“Considering I haven’t told you her name, that’s really not being disrespectful.”
He pushed the dipstick back in the engine.
“Well, I’m just saying that you should be nice to the guys I date.”
“As long as they don’t try to kill me, I’ll try my best.”
He went back checking the oil in silence until Buffy traipsed back inside. Almost a half hour later, she heard the creak of the front door as she helped herself to extra waffles. Dean popped his head in.
“Okay, I’m taking a ride downtown,” he said. “You’re all by your lonesome.”
“I’ll come with,” she said. “It beats sticking around here.”
She set the plate of cold waffles on the counter until she noticed Dean staring at them with hungry eyes.
“I guess I’ll bag these up.”
“Yeah, please do.”
Buffy was surprised and delighted when the local auto shop was out of stock on the part Dean needed to fix her mom’s car. He blew out a breath as he climbed back into the car.
“Crap, now I’ve got to come back tomorrow.”
“Well, at least you can tell you’re dad it wasn’t your fault you didn’t get the job done.”
“True,” he said. “Well, now what?”
He shifted his eyes and noticed her grinning ear to ear.
“Do not say the mall,” he groaned.
Buffy pulled out a folded up newspaper page.
“Actually, I thought we could check out this Health and Fitness expo at the convention center.”
Dean sat back and shot, “Snore, snore, bore, bore.”
“It’s free along with the food and….there are supposed to be Hawaiian Tropic girls there.”
He glanced at her, “Why the hell didn’t you mention that in the first place?”
He tore away from the curb and headed in the direction of the business district.
“Riley said he’d take me out for a drive and even let me get behind the wheel,” she boasted.
“He’s got a death wish, huh?”
She glared at him as he chuckled.
“Unlike most people, he has faith that I just need a better experience.”
“Does this experience include a large area with no people or objects around for miles?”
She huffed, “I’m not that bad of a driver.”
He shot her an “oh come on” look. “Are you kidding me? Willow still gets white as a sheet whenever you bring up
your driving skills.”
“I can be a good driver,” she said confidently.
“Compared to what? A four year old?”
He chuckled to himself until she smacked the back of his head with her hand. She turned her nose upward.
“Ow,” he groaned as he rubbed the back of his head.
“I think Riley is a nice, decent guy. You could learn a thing or two from him.”
He looked over at her with disbelief.
“And what could he possibly teach me? How to do the Robot dance or shuck an ear of corn in under a minute? No thanks.”
She drew out an aggravated breath, “I really don’t know why Riley worried about you.”
“What does that mean?”
“He honestly thought you and I had something going on.”
He dialed back his intense interest.
“Is that so?”
“Yeah, but I told him if there was, you’d be dead because I killed you for driving me crazy. It’s like impossible for you to just be nice to me, I mean if you’re not pulling on my pigtails, you’re making fun of me or calling me by some annoying nickname….”
He rolled his eyes.
“You’re the Slayer, you’re supposed to be strong...I’ve seen you take demons down with the flick of your wrist but you can’t take a little ribbing on occasion? Come on Rainbow Brite, I’m just having a little fun with you.”
She rolled her eyes. “That is exactly what I’m talking about.”
Dean grinned, “Oh come on, that wasn’t an annoying nickname, that was your Halloween costume.”
“Yeah, when I was five.”
He let out a breath, “I don’t know what you want from me. You’ve managed to deal with me for this long but now – all of a sudden – you can’t stand me anymore. I don’t have to come here and visit you…I can be anywhere I want but you seem to think you like my company….but if that’s changed, I’ll get out of your face.”
He watched the frown from her face subside.
“No,” she replied softly. “I didn’t mean for you to take it like that. It’s just….you really do drive me crazy sometimes.”
He humored her and flashed a smile, “Yeah well, same here.”
As he pulled into the underground garage of the convention center, he stole a glance at her.
“I’d rather be crazy than boring.”
“Just because Riley is nice and – normal doesn’t make him boring.”
She let out a breath.
“I like him,” she confessed. “And he seems to like me….I think this could be a good thing…”
He watched the hope flare into her eyes and began to realize it was time to face the music.