Ch. 40 – The Perfect Pair
A/N: The time has finally arrived! These next handful of updates lead up to what you've all waited so patiently for: the Buffy/Dean smoochfest and hookup!
Part 1 of “Doomed”
One week later:
Buffy sat on her bed and stared at Riley sitting on Willow’s bed. Almost fifteen minutes passed by in relative silence. She shifted uncomfortably as she drummed up something humorous to say.
“One of us should probably say something before we graduate.”
Riley got up from Willow’s bed and circled the room slowly before stopping to address her.
“Your friend Dean, he’s like you?
She snorted. “He wishes!”
She laughed for a minute as her face brightened with amusement. Her laughter dissipated when she saw Riley’s expectant look. She let out a breath and got back on topic.
“No, no. He’s just a guy, like you.”
Riley drew a skeptical frown. “No regular guy fights with that much skill without some kind of training.”
“I didn’t say he was a regular guy, I said he’s just a guy,” she clarified.
“A guy who fights monsters with you,” Riley noted, “That explains why you two always seem so tight. So what’s his story?”
Buffy was a little irked of Riley’s prying questions about Dean. She drew a soft frown as she crossed her legs.
“You know, it’s not really my place to divulge his personal story. You can ask him if you want but I thought you came here to talk to me about me and…you.”
“Yes, I did.”
After a long minute, Riley couldn’t help but linger on the subject.
“It’s just…he knows about you….what you are? What are you?”
She gasped with offense.
“I’m a girl. What are you?” she asked curtly.
Riley looked at her sheepishly. “Sorry. That really came out wrong. What I intended to say was….you’re….”
He smiled brightly.
“You’re unbelievable with your skills and your speed and…”
“I’m also inquisitive and passionate but no one ever seems to point those characteristics out,” she said.
He gave an apologetic look.
“How about you? Who might you be?”
“You know me, everything else….I can’t really say.”
“Well, what if I say you’re part of some elite hush hush government monster squad that makes nightly runs through town collecting all the demons and vampires – referring to them by some technical term like “undetermined lifeform” or “Non-definable subhuman”….”
“HST…Hostile Sub-Terrestrials,” Riley offered.
“Exactly. So you dump these HSTs in a lab where all that secret government funding allows for the most advanced scientific experimentation to be performed on the intent of successfully taming them into fluffy, obedient puppies….am I getting warm?”
“You’re – boiling actually.”
“So by day, you masquerade as Riley Finn, wholesome farm boy from Iowa….or is that just your cover? Is Riley even your real name? Are you really from Iowa because I’m really not sure what to believe about you now.”
“Yes,” Riley affirmed. “I was actually born and raised in a small town in Iowa and yes, my name is Riley Finn but just to be fair, I’m not the only one who was keeping secrets.”
Buffy relented as she let out a breath.
“I just assumed someone with as much experience as you do in the demon catching profession, you would have put the pieces together by now and realized I’m the Slayer.”
She waited expectantly for the reactions she had been accustomed to seeing when someone found out her identity, shock, wonder or sarcasm. She blinked in surprise when Riley stared at her blankly.
“The Slay-er,” she repeated. “You know, the Chosen One or She Who Finds Fun and a Barrel of Demons at your local cemetery?”
She opened her mouth in offense again when Riley simply shrugged apologetically.
“Are you serious? You’ve never heard of me?”
She drew a deep sigh.
“In every gen...forget it I’m really not in the mood to give the sales pitch. I’m sure you’ve got the access so get those fingers walking and look it up, capital T, capital S.”
“You’re The Slayer and you fight monsters and demons....you – went postal on them and they were strong, freaky strong.”
“You seemed to handle yourself pretty well,” she noted.
“But I’m aching in places I’ve never even seen before,” he replied. “I mean, I’m sucking up the pain but you.....you don’t have a single bruise or scratch on you...”
“They’re there,” she replied. “You’re just not looking deep enough.”
“Oh, I’m looking pretty deep.”
She saw the spark in his blue eyes as he stared at her in wonder. After a minute, he let out a breath.
“So what now?”
She drew her own breath, trying to let the reality sink in.
“Now we....I....I’m still trying to process everything. I think we need to take some time and....let the dust settle...think with a more clear head....decide where we’re gonna....”
Riley nodded with understanding. “Yes, I think that’s probably best.”
He slowly made his way to the door. The regarded each other in silence for a long moment.
“I’m assuming I don’t have to stress...”
“I won’t breathe a word,” she said.
“Great, it’s just best for everyone’s safety...”
Amy the rat began squealing her head off, turning around and around in her wheel. Buffy and Riley glanced at Amy the rat. Soon, the room began to violently shake and rumbled loudly. Some trinkets danced off the bookshelves and tumbled to the ground, shattering into pieces. Riley clutched Buffy and gently yanked her under the door frame until the rumbling dissipated. Outside, distant blares of car horns could be heard.
Riley cracked a smile.
“Woah, what a trip,” he said emphatically.
Buffy slowly ambled up to the window as Riley regarded the concern on her face. He flushed red.
“Um, sorry, I suppose that was a weird reaction...I couldn’t help it. I’ve never experienced an earthquake before.”
Buffy stared off through the window as her mind drifted into the past. She masked the dread gripping her nerves.
“I have,” she said morosely.
Riley gave a casual nod, not picking up on the bleakness in her tone.
“Oh, then that probably didn’t faze you,” he said lightly. “It’s just a normal thing for you, no worries huh?”
Buffy didn’t answer. She continued to wander through her memories as Riley reached the door.
“I’ll see you?”
Buffy pulled her eyes away from the window and swung around. She feigned a cheerful smile.
“Yeah, I’ll see you.”
Dean let out a yawn as he tore alongside the curb across from the Espresso Pump. After a long week of work in the northern area, he was able to pass back through Sunnydale for a very brief stop. Dad was already on his way to Texas and expected to see him in a day or two.
The shop had barely opened for business when he breezed through the door. The lone barista was a lovely
auburn haired girl with brilliant azure blue eyes.
Dean ambled up to the counter and gauged the girl’s age. When he spied a UC Sunnydale sorority bracelet peeking from the sleeve of her business uniform he flashed an engaging smile before ordering. As he slipped to the other side of the counter, handfuls of people strolled inside.
After a few more minutes, he swept up his cup as more business patrons filed in. Chatter filled the store as he took a sip and let the caffeine flow through his system. He paused when the floor beneath him began rattling. A few patrons froze with alarm while others shot over to the nearest doorframe.
Dean eyed the various souvenir items and coffee mugs sliding off of shelves and falling to the ground. He blinked a few times before he made a beeline toward a door frame leading to a short hallway. He squeezed between two young ladies in business wear as the shop floor and windows continued to rumble. After another minute, the rumbling stopped.
“Wow,” he sang softly with a small smile.
In all the years he had visited the Southern California area, he had never experienced an earthquake while there. He swept his eyes around the shop as business went back to the usual. He noticed many of the customers seemed unaffected by the natural occurrence. He glanced at his watch as he pushed through the shop door.
Stevenson Hall was bustling with activities as some residents lingered in the corridor and others helped to clean up the mess of papers that had fallen from the bulletin board at the entrance.
Dean rapped on the dorm room. He smiled when the door opened but quickly felt his good mood sink when he got a look at the gloomy eyes that greeted him.
Buffy slumped against the doorway and swallowed the dread swimming through her mind. She tried to pry a smile on her face but could only manage a weak one.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
Buffy bit down on her lip and glanced up at Dean. She saw his eyes glowing with concern. She was amazed that he had seen behind her attempt to mask her worry.
“Um, I....did you feel that earthquake?”
Dean suddenly shifted into smile. “Yeah, that kind of rocked.”
Buffy let out a breath, sinking further into her glum demeanor. Dean rapidly transitioned back into worry mode when her normal talkative, bright manner ceased to exist.
“Can you...will you take me to see Giles? I....I really need to talk to him.”
Dean studied her as he saw a spark of sadness in her eyes.
“Yeah, sure,” he answered.
He pivoted toward the hall as she stepped out and shut the door. She fell in step with him as he ambled out of the building. When the car started, the blaring volume of the radio made her grimace.
Dean fumbled with the dial, turning the radio volume down. He gave a sheepish smile.
“Sorry,” he said. “I uh, didn’t think I’d have company.”
“Oh. How long are you here for?”
“Not long,” he answered. “I need to hit El Paso by sometime tomorrow or I won’t make it. I just thought I’d stop in and check on you and see if the dust has settled since that crazy Fairy Tale crap....”
She openly displayed her disappointment as he pulled away from the curb. When they reached Giles’ apartment, she was slow to get out of the car. Her mind was still hanging in the past when Giles let them in.
Dean noticed the remnants of earthquake damage as Giles set a few books back on shelves. He leaned against the dining table as Buffy let out a long breath.
“Is there something you needed help with?” Giles asked eagerly.
Buffy finally let go of the fear she had roped in. Her face thickened with dread.
“Oh Giles! We’re doomed!” she cried.
“It’s the end of the world again,” she lamented. “I know it.”
Dean blinked with wonder. “What? What are you talking about?”
She charged back and forth in a short line, her face painted with deep apprehension. She paused and glanced at Giles’ calm expression as he picked up on her cause for alarm.
“Buffy, I think you may be overreacting just a tad. Southern California is known for experiencing the occasional earthquake from time to time. You shouldn’t work yourself up about it too much. It’s probably nothing at all.”
Buffy drew an agitated frown at Giles. “It’s not nothing! It’s everything! It’s impending doom and you shouldn’t be so….lazy about it! Don’t you remember what happened the last time we had an earthquake? I dropped dead!!”
Dean blinked with recognition and suddenly felt ill as his mind reflected back to when he first heard the news from Sam:Sam returned to the room after stepping out for a long phone conversation. Dean eyed the bewildered look on his face.
“So, has anything interesting happened in the mouth of hell?”
Sam put his cell phone down and took a deep breath. Dean read Sam’s hesitation.
“What? Something really bad from the normal gloom and doom?”
After a long minute, Sam drew out another breath.
“….Buffy died….” Sam started.
Dean gasped for air as he felt as if he had been kicked in the lungs. His eyes widened in horror as every muscle in his body tensed.
“What?! When? Who? How?! Did they get the bitches? Do we need to kill them?! Yeah of course we’ll kill them, we’ll kill every last one of them! Let’s go kill them! What are you just standing there for? Get your stuff and let’s go!...”
Dean frantically ran around the room and began shoving his belongings into his bag.
“Dean, calm down, I wasn’t finished. Buffy died for a couple of minutes but she was revived.”
Dean paused in his actions and blinked a few times before forcing air back into his lungs. The intense dread on his face quickly shrouded with deep irritation.
“Goddammit Sam! Don’t you ever start a sentence with those two words again or I swear I will beat your ass so bad!”
Sam chuckled and grinned with amusement. “Gee Dean, sounds to me like you’ve got it bad for her.”
Dean clenched his fists. “Did she really die or were you just trying to mess with my head? Because if it’s the latter, get ready to receive a major can of whupass!”
Sam chuckled again before he settled down after a few minutes.
“No, I wasn’t lying,” he answered. “She fought the Master and died but luckily Xander was there to resuscitate her. She’s fine...shaken but fine.”
Dean felt the life return to his veins again.
“Oh,” he said softly.
He let out a huge breath before he pivoted toward the bathroom. After a second, he swung around and glared at Sam.
“Bitch,” he growled. “You ever scare me like that again Sam, I swear I will kill you.”
He charged into the bathroom and slammed the door, drowning out the sounds of Sam’s laughter.
Dean snapped out his memory and watched Giles draw a sympathetic look toward Buffy.
“Yes, I am aware of that and understand why you’re upset.”
Buffy drew her eyebrows into a frown.
“Well, that’s great that my ‘horrible, die before my time’ moment is crystal clear to you,” she snapped.
Giles gave a short sigh.
“But I don’t think you have reason to be genuinely concerned until we have solid evidence that this was more than just the occasional shifting of plates and not another apocalypse. Until then…”
Giles revealed a sheet of foam core on which he has pasted a map of Sunnydale. Green push pins are stuck in various points.
“I think I’ve narrowed down a few theories on our mysterious band of commandos.”
Buffy gulped as Dean walked over and glanced at the map. He sighed and shook his head when he noticed all the intricate details drawn on the map.
“Geez Giles, get a job,” he replied. “Why are you wasting so much time on this stuff when you can just ask the boyfriend?”
Dean shifted his eyes to see a look of horror on Buffy’s face. Giles drew a curious look as he glanced at her.
“Oh, I wasn’t aware you were seeing someone new,” Giles replied.
He smiled with a sense of paternal interest.
“Who is the new fellow? Someone you met in school?”
Buffy gulped again as Giles waited expectantly.
“Uh…I think you’re missing the dire purpose of my visit Giles. Another earthquake in Sunnydale is a very, very bad sign….we can’t just be so casual about it, we need to make this priority number one….”
She exaggerated an annoyed expression.
“I’m not going to stand for having egg on my face if this is the end of the world! Oh no siree!”
“If the quake is one sign of many heading toward impending doom, then we’ll pick up on them and be prepared.”
Buffy drew out a frustrated breath when her attempts to deflect the attention off of Riley had failed miserably. Giles thought back on something. He scratched his head.
“Why would your new romantic interest be able to assist in learning more about these commandos?”
Dean blinked in surprise as he regarded Buffy’s pained expression.
“You didn’t tell him?”
Buffy opened her mouth and struggled to drum up another distraction.
“Buffy?” Giles called softly.
Buffy glanced at Giles’ look of wonder.
“Um…….small pox! Maybe the next sign of the apocalypse is - the spread of small pox!”
Giles frowned with confusion as Dean simply looked annoyed.
“What’s your deal Princess? The jig is up on your seemingly normal corn fed boyfriend.”
“Will someone please care to elaborate?” Giles asked peevishly.
Seeing Buffy at a total loss of words, Dean let out a breath and shook his head.
“Princess Barbie traded Vampire Ken for GI Joe,” he quipped.
Giles blinked, completely perplexed by his reference. Dean let out another breath.
“She’s dating the damn Initiative Giles,” he imparted. “So you don’t need to take those art classes at the senior center anymore. Just have the dude over for dinner and give him the fatherly shakedown about his band of demon hunting cohorts.”
“Dean!” Buffy cried.
She shot him an agitated look as Giles absorbed the revelation.
When she couldn’t find an answer, Dean hardened his equally annoyed look.
“You have been dating a member of this military group the whole time and you’re just now telling me?”
Giles exuded his hurt, prompting Buffy to swallow a breath in embarrassment.
“Uh…I just found out he was and I’m still trying to deal with it and I….”
“You managed to tell others,” Giles said sardonically.
Giles glanced at Dean before shifting his eyes on Buffy.
She gulped as no words came to mind. She turned toward the door.
“I – have to go!”
She ran out the door leaving Giles to stew in his hurt. Dean let out a breath and gave Giles a sympathetic look before departing out the door.
When Dean reached the sidewalk outside of Giles’ complex, he saw Buffy leaning against the passenger side of the Impala. She was quiet and reflective before she met his eyes and glared at him deep irritation.
“Why did you tell Giles about Riley?”
Dean shook his head, miffed that she was trying to deflect the blame back onto him.
“The better question is, why didn’t you? I thought you respected him enough to tell him anything, especially since you told me you see him as a father figure. He seemed pretty hurt that the truth came from me and not you.”
Buffy winced in guilt. “I was getting around to it but….it’s still so new and I’m trying to grasp everything and…I thought he was just a guy and then....the earthquake and I….”
She sunk her face into the palms of her hands and drew out a breath. Dean noticed her eyes had clouded with dread again.
“Have you ever come close to death Dean? All the times you went hunting with your dad, did you ever have a brush with it?”
Her tone was heavy with melancholy. He let out a breath as he tapped into a place he kept heavily guarded.
“Yeah, I’ve had a couple of close calls,” he admitted softly. “I’ve been lucky in the past.”
Her eyes darkened with gloom. “Did you ever think that one day your luck was going to run out?”
“I try not to dwell on it too much,” he answered.
Buffy shifted her eyes around the street before setting them back on Dean.
“Well, ever since the quake hit, that’s all I’ve dwelled on,” she said.
She wrapped her arms around herself, suddenly feeling a sharp chill blasting through her body.
“So pardon me for being distracted,” she said with light bitterness. “But sending a memo out to the gang about Riley’s secret identity is not high on my agenda right now.”
After a long minute to mull over the tone in her statement, he let out a breath.
“Okay, I get it,” he said. “You’re associating the quake with past events, but Giles is right. Until you know for sure what’s going on, you can’t stress yourself out about it.”
She blew out a breath as a scowl painted her face.
“Associating with past events? This isn’t like hating Christmas because I always get socks! I DIED Dean! The Master killed me and then I was kissing a puddle of water,” she growled.
Dean shut his eyes for a moment to stamp the traumatic memory from his mind. When he looked at her again, her scowl had deepened.
“I know what happened,” he affirmed sharply. “Believe me, I know but you can’t start panicking and losing control over your emotions if this was just an ordinary thing.”
“And if it wasn’t?”
Her scowl had faded into another gloomy expression.
“If it wasn’t, then we’ll research and hunt and find out who’s campaigning to end the world,” he stated. “And then we’ll kill the evil bastard.”
She felt the knots in her neck loosening after seeing the fire in his eyes.
“We? You’re going to stick around?’
“If dad knew that I skipped town while you were still freaking out, he’d kick my ass. I’ll call him, I think he’ll understand.”
He cracked an assuring smile. After a minute, Buffy felt the extreme apprehension in her system dissipating. She returned his smile before he fished out his cell phone.
Buffy climbed into the passenger seat and gave Dean time to talk to his dad in private. After several minutes, she heard the driver side door creak open before he climbed back in.
“How’d it go?”
Dean drew out a breath. “Well, if it’s just an earthquake – I’m a good friend for talking you off the ledge….if it’s the end of the world…..”
His words trailed off as he recalled his dad’s instructions privately. Buffy cocked her head in wide curiosity.
“Uh, I’ll address that later….where to…your highness?”
He shot an amused smile.
“Oh yay,” she groaned, rolling her eyes.
“Hey, I think the title suits you,” he said.
She glared at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
He chuckled to himself as he pulled away from the curb.
“Nothing,” he replied.
Buffy opted to be dropped off at the dorms instead of riding around with Dean while he settled a few errands. After pacing around the room, she tried to rest but found her mind spinning with memories of the past again. She folded herself up when the door opened and Willow bounded in.
“Hi! I almost got buried in 19th Century English Lit when the quake hit. You won’t believe how long it took to dig myself out of that stuff.”
Buffy pulled a smile on her face.
“Everything okay here?”
Buffy nodded. “Yup, no casualties here except for a couple of injured chotzskies.”
“Oh, well some of the dorms are having blackouts, including Porter dorm. So of course, they found cause to celebrate with an Aftershock Party.”
Buffy gave an amused smile. “Huh, from the same dorm that brought you, ‘Ooops I Spilt the Paint’ party and the “Somebody Ate the Last Bad Bagel party – naturally.”
Willow shrugged, “I guess they are a celebratory bunch about all things ordinary. Anyway, sounds like it could be promising. There will be candlelight and opportunities to make with the smoochies….you should ask Riley to come.”
Buffy pressed the thought of Riley back in her mind.
“Uh, I’m sure he’s got a lot on his plate right now.”
She glanced at the clock.
“I’m going out for a bit so I’ll just meet up with you there later, okay?”
“Okay,” Willow replied.
Willow sensed something and studied Buffy briefly.
“Everything okay with you?”
“Yeah, everything is fine,” Buffy said.
She pushed through the door and slowly ambled out of the dormitory. She strolled down the sidewalk, lost in thoughts. When the fog finally lifted from her mind, she found herself at the foot of the motel parking lot. She blinked in surprise before she ambled over to the bank of motel rooms. She picked a room nearest to the Impala and rapped on the door. After a few minutes, the door creaked open.
Buffy gulped when Dean answered the door clad in nothing but a pair of jeans. He cradled a cell phone against his shoulder as he eyed her briefly. He widened the door to let her in as he turned back into the room.
Buffy bit back the flush of heat brewing in her cheeks as she closed the door behind her. Her eyes drifted to Dean as he listened intently to the caller on the phone. She noticed his hair was damp as a bead of water rolled from his ear and down his chest. She swallowed a gasp when she realized her eyes were following the lone bead until it slid beneath his waistline. She forced her eyes to the thick curtains that were pulled shut, stamping out the natural light from the room. She let out a soft whimper when her eyes drifted back to Dean, wanting to drink in the image of his half naked self some more.
“Okay, thanks dad,” he said.
Buffy snapped out of her daze when she heard the conversation end. Dean tossed his cell phone aside.
“Everything okay with your dad? He’s not mad I lured you away from a job, is he?”
Dean let out a yawn and shook his head. “No, in fact, you’ve got him thinking. He’s been doing some of his own research and checked with some colleagues to see if anything unusual has happened in other parts of the country, disruption in normal weather patterns or unusual type of weather like raining monkeys or stuff like that….”
“And?” she asked with great apprehension.
“Nothing so far,” he said.
She let out a breath. “Oh.”
“He’s got a few other angles to look into and then he’ll get back to me,” he added.
Buffy cracked a small smile of appreciation.
“I thought I was supposed to swing by the dorm in a few hours.”
“Um yeah, you were but, I couldn’t stay there by myself and then Willow came home and she…”
She found herself dipping down to the bed next to him. She struggled to keep her eyes level with his.
“Maybe it is just an earthquake and I’m just being silly but my mind isn’t helping in calming me down and…”
She swallowed a frustrated growl in her throat when her eyes began to wander down his body.
“Will you please put a shirt on?”
Dean blinked in surprise before breaking into an amused grin.
“Why? Is my fabulous body making you nervous?”
He chuckled for a long minute.
“Yeah, it’s making me all hot and bothered,” she replied lightly.
She forced out a giggle but it came out more like an obnoxious snort. He gave her an odd look before he reached down into his bag and yanked on a random tee shirt.
“Can we go out somewhere for a bit? I’m just so antsy right now.”
She saw the gentle expression on his face, as if he were about to break bad news.
“What? Are you expecting company?”
“No, it’s just…my back has been bothering me all week and driving around for eight hours a day and digging up graves hasn’t helped a bit. I was kind of hoping I could crash for a couple of hours and fuel up before we go into battle…..if we go into battle.”
She noticed the bottle of aspirin on the bedside table.
“Oh,” she said. “Yeah, yeah, of course, you should rest….I’m sure you’re exhausted.”
He studied her for a brief moment.
“You sure? Because if you need me to push through the pain, hell knows I will, I usually do on a daily basis anyway….”
“No, that’s okay…you relax….”
“You should think about relaxing too,” he advised. “Go shopping or eat yourself into a sugar coma, just don’t pace around your room analyzing the ‘what ifs’. You’ll just drive yourself crazy.”
There was something in the lilt of his voice that soothed her wrangled nerves. She glanced at him as he yawned and settled back against the headboard. He snapped out the lamp on the bedside table and let the wave of exhaustion wash over him.
“I think I will….relax…..could I crash here for awhile?”
She saw his fluttering eyes snap wide open.
“I’m just…all of a sudden I’m feeling exhausted….probably all the stress and I…I don’t feel like going anywhere else right now….”
Before he could question her, she had climbed onto the bed and lay down next to him. Once her head hit the pillow, she felt her own eyelids growing heavy. She rolled onto her side and saw Dean’s probing eyes.
“Is it okay?” she asked.
Dean saw the deep seeded fatigue tugging at her eyes and the stress lines riddling her face.
“Uh, yeah, sure. Just do me favor, if you feel one of your thrashing in your sleep episodes coming on, move yourself out of my range and spare me another knock to the face.”
She frowned in light offense. “I don’t think I have the energy to even crook a finger.”
With that, she dropped onto her back and drifted off into a restful state. A short time later, after watching her fall asleep, Dean relaxed and wandered into a deep sleep.
Several hours later, Buffy stirred awake and found herself in quite an intimate position with Dean. At some point during her nap, she had curled up against him and nestled her face in the crook of his neck. She felt the warmth of his body lined with hers. She noticed he had draped an arm over her waist, holding her securely against him. For a moment, in the comfort of his hold, Buffy felt herself drifting back to sleep. In the hour after the earthquake, her mind had bombarded her with dreadful thoughts that had wrangled her nerves and sent her heartbeat skyrocketing. She hadn’t been able to think clearly or even stay still for a moment. Now, as she was entangled with her longtime friend, her mind and heart felt completely at ease.
Buffy gently hitched her head up and watched Dean as he let out a soft sigh. His eyes began to flutter open. She smiled when he met her eyes.
“Hi,” she said softly. “Sleep well?”
He yawned before answering, “Yeah, amazingly well. What about you?”
“I didn’t have one gloom and doom dream so that’s good,” she said. “That nap seemed to calm my nerves.”
She noticed his eyes still shifting from open to close.
“You want to sleep some more?” she asked.
“I could sleep for a year,” he said. “But I need to see a guy about a possible apocalypse.”
He noticed the amused grin on her face.
“All of a sudden the end of the world amuses you now?”
She let out a short giggle. “No, the fact that your hand is on my ass amuses me.”
Dean blinked with shock when he realized where one of his hands had been resting since he woke up. He rolled away from her and sat up. He flashed an awkward smile.
“Uh, sorry about that,” he said. “Sometimes my hands tend to wander off on their own when there’s a girl around. Damn things get me in trouble sometimes.”
Buffy widened her grin and snickered for a long moment when she saw the embarrassment thickening on his face.
“It’s okay,” she said. “We’re old friends and I should have expected you to do that.”
“Well, it’s still inappropriate considering you’re dating someone,” he replied.
“Wow Dean, I didn’t realize you had such respect for me,” she teased.
After a long moment, Dean dwelled on another revelation.
“You didn’t thrash-smack me once while you were sleeping,” he noted.
Buffy shrugged, “Maybe you cured me.”
Dean was quite thunderstruck by the affection beaming in her smile. He shifted his eyes to the clock and noted the time.
“Geez, that was some nap,” he said.
Buffy glanced at the clock and was equally surprised that it was now the late afternoon. She rolled off the other side of the bed.
“Yeah, it really was,” she said.
She padded into the bathroom to freshen up her hair and makeup. She heard the click of the television powering on followed by the snapping of channels. When she came out, Dean was perusing through the local news station broadcasts. He met her eyes.
“No deaths or disasters happened here in the past few hours,” he said.
Buffy let out a sigh of relief. “I guess I was overreacting.”
“Maybe,” he replied with slight apprehension.
“You think I’m right about something bad happening?”
“Well, doesn’t something bad always happen in this town? It’s just the matter of degree.”
She frowned. “I thought you were supposed to help ease my worried mind.”
“I am, I will,” he assured. “I’m sure it’s nothing. There’s been nothing on the radar to cause any alarm.”
“So what, we just wait it out, see if something horrible happens?”
“Like Giles said, until we have more evidence to suspect otherwise, this may just be a typical So Cal earthquake.”
Buffy drew out a long breath when she felt her heartbeat starting to hammer. Seeing the trepidation rising over her face, Dean gave her another assuring look.
“But, if it makes you feel better, we can go back and bug Giles.”
“What about your dad? Does he have anything new?”
Dean reached for his cell phone on the bedside table and checked his messages.
“He hasn’t called so I’d say no,” he answered.
She gave a defeated sigh. “Well if Giles insists it’s nothing and your dad hasn’t found anything out of the ordinary…..I guess I’ll have to wait it out.”
“What do you want to do in the meantime?”
“Um, Porter Dorm is blacked out so they’re having an Aftershock Party.”
“Didn’t they just have a ‘Yay I don’t have syphilis party’ last week?” he quipped with an amused smile.
“Yeah, they do come up with every little excuse but I already told Willow I’d meet up with her there. Wanna come with?”
He shrugged into his jacket and fetched his shoes. “Yeah why not? If the end of the world comes tomorrow, we might as well party like it’s 1999.”
“Okay, where the hell is this place?” Dean asked.
They had been roaming around campus in different directions for almost forty minutes. Buffy scanned the pockets of buildings in the distance.
“Um, I’m not really sure which building it is.”
“Oh, so great that you mentioned that now after we’ve been wandering around in circles for the past hour,” he grumbled.
“Hey, I have a lot on my mind,” she snapped.
Before he could comment, his eyes drifted to the street as a pair of squad cars and an ambulance rushed by. Buffy took notice when the emergency vehicles pulled up next to one of the buildings she had scanned earlier. She felt a strong pang in her gut as her face shrouded with dread. She glanced at Dean who shared her concern. Without another word, the two quickly set off toward the building.
A thick crowd of students gathered in the lobby of Porter Dorm as Buffy and Dean ambled inside. Uniformed cops were interviewing party goers in one corner of the lobby as others looked on as two paramedics rolled out a gurney containing a body covered by a white sheet. Buffy absorbed the seen as she scanned the crowd.
Buffy paused on a face just left of the activity. She glanced at Dean who was already shifting his direction. Willow was leaning on a wall towards the back of the lobby. Her face was pale and riddled with shock.
“Thank god you’re okay,” Buffy said.
“I wasn’t sure you’d show up. I’m so glad you did.”
Dean glanced back at the organized chaos unfolding behind him and shook his head. “Oh right, of course, a party around here always ends up with dead bodies….when we got lost we should have just followed the path leading to death and destruction.”
Buffy draped an arm around Willow, seeing how much she needed to be consoled.
“What the hell happened here?” Dean asked.
“There was a guy, I found him. He was dead with me. No, not dead with me. He was dead.”
Buffy squeezed Willow’s arm.
“Vampires?” Buffy asked.
Willow shook her head as a horrid image made her green.
“There was -so much blood. Pools and pools of it, like full on Godfather horse head pools of it. And his chest….it had a symbol and then Percy called me a nerd.”
Willow pouted for a second. Buffy frowned with offense.
“Percy said you were a nerd?”
Dean glanced at Buffy in confusion when he couldn’t recall the name from memories. “Who the hell is Percy?”
“He’s a big nobody,” she answered.
“Www-we need to get with Giles and let him know. Get cracking on finding the demon that did this,” Willow advised.
Buffy steered Willow toward the door. Dean reached the door first and held it open for the girls. As they stepped out, Willow eyed Buffy curiously as Dean led the way to the car.
“I didn’t know Dean was coming in for a visit,” she whispered.
“It wasn’t planned, he was passing by and thought he’d stop in, check on me for a bit.”
“That’s sweet…….wait, hey, you were going to bring him to an intimate chatting in candlelight party.”
Buffy gulped at the realization. “Uh, I just thought he’d want to come along. He did stop in to check on me so I didn’t just want to bail on him.”
When all three reached the car, they quickly climbed inside. In a very short time, Dean pulled up outside of Giles’ complex.
Xander rushed over after his work shift and quickly settled around Giles’ desk with the rest of the group. Willow repeated the details of discovering the body
“Stupid Percy,” Xander grumbled when Willow reached that part of her story.
Willow continued to impart details as Giles and Xander interrupted occasionally to ask questions.
When she started to ramble, Buffy steered her back on topic.
“The symbol Willow, tell Giles about the symbol you saw.”
Willow nodded as she began to rummage through her pockets. She yanked out a wrinkled napkin and a pencil and began to draw a graphic. The others looked over her shoulder when she finished.
“I think the demon is Morley Safer cuz that sure looks like the logo for the CBS network,” Xander quipped. “Maybe we can conjure up a spell that sinks his ratings!”
Buffy studied the symbol as something tapped on her memory.
“This looks familiar,” she commented. “I think I’ve come across it....I just can’t seem to remember where…..I think it’s….”
“It’s an impending apocalypse,” Giles replied bleakly.
Dean, Xander and Willow blinked with disbelief.
“Are you serious?!” they asked in unison.
“I guess you are overdue,” Dean added lightly.
The group regarded the grave concern on Giles’ face.
“Unfortunately, I now have reason to believe that the quake, the symbol found on the boy’s body, are all events leading to certain doom.”
Buffy opened her mouth and frowned at Giles. “You see! I wasn’t just making a big fuss over nothing! I told you this was going to happen but you were like, “Oh no pish posh, home of earthquakes, pish posh.”
Giles balked at her mockery, “So sorry that my penitence trumped the coming apocalypse.”
Willow shook her head, still gripped with shock.
“This can’t be true,” she lamented. “We’ve already done this.”
“Yeah, it is getting old,” Dean replied. “Can’t these damn demons come up with something more original then ending the world? They all just want to kill every single one of us instead of signing us up for some type of torture, like listening to Britney Spears songs for eternity. I mean, come on, get a new pitch already.”
“I have to agree,” Xander said. “It has lost the whole ‘shaking with fear’ effect.”
Giles looked at the group sternly.
“This is the apocalypse, the end of life itself, hell itself will bleed and pour into our lives, and unimaginable pain and suffering will be inflicted upon you, on every soul and every person you love on this earth, ten, hundreds, thousands of times over for eternity.”
Xander gasped, “Okay, feeling the ‘shaking with fear’ effect again.”
Willow gulped and asked, “So, what now?”
Buffy and Dean bolted out of their chairs and stood tall. Their eyes flared with determination and fire.
“Now we find the evil bastard that set this in motion,” he declared confidently.
“Then we kill the demon,” she added with equal conviction.
“And anything that gets in our way,” he replied sharply.
“And put an end to the end of the world,” she stated.
Giles, Xander and Willow watched in awe as the two battle ready warriors swept out the door.
“Wow, is it me or are those two the perfect pair?” Xander asked lightly.
After Dean quickly loaded up on weapons, he fell into step with Buffy as they made their way to the cemetery. When they reached a bank of mausoleums, Buffy noticed something and quickened her pace. Dean stayed in step with her as she stopped at one of the mausoleums and shook her head.
“Gee, this looks familiar; I think I’ve come across it where else? The place I spend every hour of the day putting stuff I see on the sides of mausoleums to memory….stupid giant creepy cases of death…”
A rustling inside the mausoleum caused her take pause. Dean stiffened when he heard the noise and readied his crossbow. Buffy slid along the side to the front of the mausoleum. The door was wide open. She glanced at Dean with cautionary eyes before she quietly slipped through the door. Dean leveled his crossbow on the demon bent over a small child sized casket. The demon was hastily stuffing a burlap bag with bones, including a skull.
“You left the door open,” she gibed. “So I just let myself in.”
Buffy’s shadow fell over the demon, alerting her presence. The demon swung around. In unison, Buffy and Dean fired a bolt into the demon as it charged toward them. Each bolt struck the demon’s arm. The demon howled as it lunged at its closest target, Buffy. Before she could fire off another bolt, the demon knocked the crossbow out of her hand. Dean quickly reloaded his crossbow and fired a bolt into the demon’s neck. The demon jerked and howled. Buffy began raining punches on the demon before it counterattacked Dean.
Several minutes later, after being thrown into a cement coffin, Dean shook off the sting of pain gripping his body. He glanced at Buffy as she hurled the demon completely out of the mausoleum. Dean scrambled out of the coffin when the fighting continued outside. When he spilled out of the mausoleum, he saw Buffy trying to break free from the demon’s body hold. He fumbled for another bolt and took aim. He fired and watched the bolt sail across the air.
“Dammit,” he groaned.
The bolt was just shy of making body contact as the demon thrashed about. Buffy knocked her head into the demon, blowing it back. She shook her head, feeling a little dazed and stumbled a few feet backwards. When the demon charged toward her, it suddenly jerked as a bolt hit its arm. The demon roared and began to run off toward the woods.
Dean fished out his pistol and quickly took chase after it. Buffy was about to follow when she felt a presence behind her. She stiffened when she heard a noise and curled her hands into fists. She swung her leg around in a fast spin kick only to see a figure ducking away just before her foot made contact.
Buffy blinked when she saw Riley smiling.
“Woah, that was impressive.”
She looked around in the open clearing.
“Where did you….”
Her eyes widened with sudden recognition before she pivoted toward the woods.
“I have to go!”
Riley hooked a hand over the crook of her arm and stopped her.
“There’s a lot of hiding places in the woods. It will be impossible to find without the right equipment. Plus, you’ve got no weapons and not enough backup. I wouldn’t think you’d want to be as reckless as your friend when dealing with a demon of that size.”
Buffy drew a mild frown at the light scolding tone in his voice. “Dean is not being reckless, he just hates when a demon gets away. So do I. Now I need to go…”
Riley flipped open a case attached to the holster on his belt. He rattled off some instructions into a palm sized walkie-talkie. Buffy heard confirmation from the ear piece Riley was wearing before he put the walkie back in its case. Buffy drew a smile.
“Well, that was very impressive,” she said. “But what in the world are you doing out here?”
“I was hoping to run into you – She Who Finds Fun and a Barrel of Demons at the local cemetery.”
Buffy snapped back into Slayer mode and eyed the woods.
“Speaking of, I really need to go after it.”
“No need, my team will snag it,” he said confidently.
“It’s not that easy,” she replied.
“Actually it is and now that that pressing matter is out of the way we can…”
Buffy frowned, feeling her muscles tightening.
“I can’t do this….”
“You can’t talk now?”
“Talk, be with you, can’t do any of that…it’ll just – it won’t bode well and I really don’t think I can put myself through that again.”
“Through what? We haven’t been through much yet,” he said.
“I know but in the past….it just hasn’t worked out and I….you don’t know what I have to deal with on a daily basis.”
Buffy turned to leave but Riley gently yanked her back to face him.
“I want to know,” he said. “I’m dying to know all about you.”
“The key word in my life is dying – I’m surrounded by it, by loss, by blackness, by – DOOM and I – I can’t take any more doom in my life….”
Riley took a step back. “Just tell me what’s brought this sudden change in heart. I was pretty sure I was reading your vibes about me accurately….and now that we know each other’s true identities you can’t tell me we don’t have any common ground….”
Buffy drew out a breath before she spoke but Riley continued.
“Buffy, I really don’t have a clue where this is coming from. I thought we were on the right track to something great. I mean, whenever I’m around you, whenever I think of you, every part of me goes numb with excitement and I’ve never felt that way about a girl before. I don’t want you to think I’m obsessive over you, or make you think I’d get forceful with you but I’m not about to just give up because of what past history stated….”
She let out a breath and frowned. “You have no idea what my past history stated….you don’t know what it’s like to live in my world….ever hear of the Hellmouth? Did it come up in your Initiative recruit exams? Well, I lived on it, my high school sat on top of it. I fought every demon that sprung out of it for three years. Don’t tell me we have common ground because you don’t have a clue….all this…”
She swept her eyes around the cemetery.
“It’s not just a job like it is to you, this is my life, it’s my calling, it’s my Fate…and nothing I do can change that…”
“But this isn’t high school. Maybe you can try to make changes, take chances…nobody is perfect but with you and I, I really believe we’d make the perfect pair.”
“No,” she cried. “I can’t do it…..”
She bit back the tears threatening to escape from her eyes as she ran off toward the woods.