Still not right
This story is a sequel to 'I, Lucifer'. This story probably won't make any sense unless you've read that. BtVS and all it's characters belong to Mutant Enemy, Kripke owns Sam, Dean and, to my eternal envy, the Impalla. This story takes place some time after the end of Buffy season 7 (not including the comics) and after Dean comes back in season four of Supernatural. The menu is based on Monty Python's glorious Spam sketch.
Torn between hilarity and disdain, Dawn Summers pondered the inexplicable nature of the sort of food one invariably encounters on a cross-country road trip.
Greasy burger joints, mom and pop diners, and bag after bag of fat and sugar spun snack food were all par for the course, as she had discovered during the course of her travels. Until now, however, Dawn had assumed that the existence of creepy theme restaurants was nothing more than the subject of vicious urban legend.
Theme restaurants. By this, Dawn did not refer to those sad chain stores found in seemingly every location in America populated by more than two inhabitants. You could keep your Chuck E. Cheese’s, your Planet Hollywood’s, your Hard Rock Café’s, thought Dawn; compared to this place, those locations were Meccas of good taste and sanity.
It had all started so innocently, she reflected. Upon graduation of a double bachelor’s degree in ancient languages and symbology, and finding herself somewhat unwilling to take up immediate internship as Junior Watcher-at large, Dawn had leapt at Xander’s invitation to finally drive to all fifty of those states (it seemed the exact location of Hawaii was still a bit hazy) that had so eluded him on his previous attempt to travel the country with nothing more than a rusty car and a dog eared copy of ‘On the road’ for company. Upon Willow’s rather public (and no doubt short-lived) split from Kennedy, another travel buddy had joined the fray, and a week later, the three friends had left Cleveland in search of diversion. They had started with the world’s largest ball of twine. Said landmark (and indeed, Minnesota as a whole) had turned out to be somewhat of a let down, and our travellers soon made their way southbound, seeking further entertainment. The Grand Canyon, they had reasoned, could by definition not disappoint. Half its name consisted of the word grand after all, and Xander had added that the tourism board of America would let nothing short of spectacular get away with such flagrant false advertising! For this reason, Xander, Dawn and Willow now found themselves miles from civilization in the deepest darkest depths of Arizona – a state, Dawn had decided, which apparently consisted entirely of sand, dust, roadside rock stands and little men with creepy grins and few teeth who all wanted to sell her something patterned with Native motifs.
They had been on the road, admiring the landscape (composed mainly of sand and dust, and littered with the occasional snaggle-toothed inhabitant) when they spotted the restaurant by the side of the highway and unanimously decided they could do with a rest and nourishment. On reflection, Dawn decided, the name should have given them pause. What sort of person in their right mind would call a restaurant in a desert bound state Happy as a Clam
? A quick perusal of the menu had cemented Dawn’s opinion that here was the work of the criminally insane. Willow and Xander agreed with her reservations once their breathless laughter gave way to mere hiccups, however, even a superficial inspection of their map confirmed that the next chance for a cooked meal would not arrive for tens and tens of miles.
It was bad enough that the place only served seafood. The décor, seemingly amassed by a kleptomaniac deep-sea diver, added to the bizarre atmosphere, but what had really pushed Dawn over the edge was the sight of the extremely grumpy, middle-aged waitress rotating pie dishes under a heat lamp. She was wearing a wave print dress, a pinafore with a goldfish pattern and a hat with a giant clam pinned to it. She looked about as ridiculous as a person could without spontaneously combusting, Dawn thought, and obviously knew it too, if her glare was any indication. Their laughter on entry had no doubt been collated against their favour.
From her seat at a booth near the window, Dawn could hear snatches of Xander’s conversation with the waitress firmly entrenched behind the counter, while next to him, Willow failed to stifle her giggles. Above them, the Special’s board proudly proclaimed:Lobster!
Lobster Clam Surprise!
Steak and Chips with Clams!!
“…right, so I’d like one order of steak and chips, one garden salad without calamari, and one clam omelette sans clams. That means without,” Xander added helpfully, “I’m practicing my French in case we have to make a quick getaway to Canada. Mexico is obviously closer at this point, but I fly in the face of expectations.”
The waitress appeared nonplussed, “What do you mean, without? You want a clam omelette with no clams?”
“And a calamari salad with no calamari?”
“And steak, chips and clams, hold the clams?”
“You’ll be ordering lobster with no lobster next!” the waitress huffed, outrage evident on her face. Xander, who had been wilting under her glare, perked up at her words. “Ooh, how come, what does the lobster come with?”
“More lobster,” the waitress snarled.
Willow disentangled herself from her best friend as he attempted to appease the waitress by complimenting the display of pies (thankfully none of them in any way fish-flavoured) and made her way back to their table. She rolled her eyes at Dawn in good humour as the sounds of Xander’s enthusiastic discourse on chocolate triple berry pie drifted through the half-empty restaurant.
“Hey Dawnie,” she smiled, as she placed a tall, frosted glass of iced tea in front of the girl, “there’s a billiards table on the other side of the servery and Xander’s decided that he needs to learn how to hustle pool if he’s going to fend for us on this trip. Wanna come and watch him lose money?”
“Nah, I’m good. I’ll sit and absorb the ambiance ‘til the food gets here,” Dawn replied. Willow eyed the stylized mermaid swathed in Christmas lights hanging from a chandelier above their booth and wrinkled her nose in distaste.
“Well, just take care you don’t absorb too much,” she replied, and with a wave made her way back to the counter to drag Xander off in search of gambling and humiliation.
Dawn smiled, and turned her attention to the world outside her window. She watched as shimmering heat waves rose off their car, unpleasantly aware that the blistering mid-day sun had no doubt rendered the automobile uninhabitable five minutes after the air-conditioning shut down. Maybe she could persuade Willow to cast a few cooling spells on the vehicle before they resumed their journey. Dawn was certain that the prevention of heatstroke in your fellow travelers constituted nothing less than responsible use of magic.
As if queued by her thoughts of the unforgiving desert heat, the restaurant door behind Dawn opened to admit several customers. A blast of hot air struck the back of her neck unpleasantly. Feeling sweat prickle on her upper lip and behind her ears, Dawn reached into her bag for a packet of Kleenex she kept there for emergencies, and listened as the new customers settled into the booth behind her. There were two of them, both male. Without turning around to stare, Dawn would not have been able to pinpoint their ages for sure, but she guessed from their voices that they must be somewhere in their twenties. They seemed to be in the middle of an argument, but Dawn recognised something familiar in the pattern of their conversation; their squabble seemed comfortable and well practiced, like many that took place between Buffy and her. She listened as heavy bodies settled into the booth behind her.
“I’m telling you man, it’s unnatural. What the hell is a seafood place doing in the middle of the freaking desert?”
“I don’t know, Dean.”
“And what the hell is that sign all about? ‘All produce fished locally’? You won’t find enough water to fill a teacup within a hundred miles of here!” the voice persisted, “Come on Sam, there’s bound to be a diner along the highway sooner or later. Don’t tell me you couldn’t do with a nice juicy double-bacon cheeseburger.”
“If I’m going to spend another couple of hours driving through the middle of the desert in a car with shitty air-conditioning, I’m going to do it on a full stomach. Just order something without fish and stop bitching about the damn burgers. They’re bound to have pies here.”
“I can’t believe you just said that about the Impala, man!”
“Whatever. Just shut up and think of something to order already.”
Dawn turned in her seat and attempted to covertly peek at the two young men just visible in the next booth. The one seated with his back to her was clearly very tall, she could tell, with brown shaggy hair that curled lightly around his ears. The man opposite him sat slouching in the booth, and alternately stared at the menu and his companion in disgusted disbelief. There was an air of vaguely smarmy good humour about him. He caught Dawn staring and winked at her suggestively. She blushed and turned to straighten in her seat. As she moved, the man who had been seated with his back to her twisted and managed to get a look at her face. Recognition was instantaneous and mutual.
“You!” Dawn and the tall man shouted simultaneously.
Under different circumstances, Dawn would have been impressed at the speed with which the two men moved. In the time it took her to remember the one and only time she and the tall stranger (Sam
, she remembered) had met before, he’d hissed something to his travel companion and both men moved from their own booth to hers in the blink of an eye. Sam settled in the seat opposite, while his friend placed himself beside Dawn, effectively cutting off her escape route. She heard the unmistakable click of a gun safety release. Dawn had watched enough television in her short life to know without a doubt what she was hearing. The gun the man next to her covertly shoved into her side out of sight under the table was also bit of a give-away.
Oh fuck, thought Dawn.
The pool table was out of sight behind a short wall at the rear the bar, and neither Willow nor Xander would be able to witness her current predicament.
“Lucifer,” Sam spat, and Dawn rolled her eyes. Honestly, she thought, you accidentally get summoned to one stupid invocation rite and everyone thinks you’re the devil. Typical.
“How did you get out,” the man Sam had addressed as Dean whispered. Dawn was concerned to see that he looked white as a sheet under his tan. His hand was shaking. His gun hand. Not a good sign. She had absolutely no intention of getting shot in a stupid fish-themed restaurant. Or ever, for that matter.
“The seals aren’t all broken. How the fuck did you get out!” Sam almost shouted, before he got himself under control with a sharp look around. He needn’t have worried. The waitress, clearly still incensed at Xander’s lack of enthusiasm for all manner of seafood, was sulking behind the counter with her back turned to Dawn’s corner, and no other customers were seated close enough to overhear their conversation.
Pulling herself together shakily, Dawn groaned, “Ok, seriously, do we have to go over this again? I. Am. Not. The. Devil. Capice?” she tried to glare at the man sitting opposite her. Neither of his hands were visible above the table, and Dawn was certain that he too had a gun trained on her. She could practically feel the phantom bullets waiting to tear their way through her vulnerable flesh.
“Then why did the spell summon you?” Sam asked her, and his voice held a warning tone, “the parameters were very specific. I summoned Lucifer, and you appeared. It’s not much of a jump to conclude that you must therefore be, well..., him!” At this, the man beside her visibly flinched.
Dawn was terrified, but in an odd, clear, sort of way. This situation was simply too stupid. Here she sat, in a tacky restaurant, in the middle of the Arizona desert, about to be pumped full of holes because some dude couldn’t get it through his thick head that his attempt to summon a major demon had given him Dawn instead. Perhaps she herself would have had trouble believing such a thing, but years in Sunnydale, and then Cleveland, had taught her that such accidents were practically weekly occurrences. She took a deep breath and tried again.
“Look, when I got back home – after a really smelly bus ride back to California by the way, thanks for that, …when I got back home I looked up the signs and herbs I recognised from your, erm…cave, and I think I know why your spell summoned me,” she wriggled slightly in her seat. She was certain neither of the men would believe her, but she tried anyway. “You used Mustrum’s third variation of Gripsok’s Law of Translocation, right? Well, that only works on objects and subjects unobstructed in the physical and spiritual world. It wouldn’t work on a major demon like Lucifer; they’re all locked up behind a mystical barrier in one of the hell dimensions. So, because the spell couldn’t give you what you wanted, it tried to give you the next best thing. I was on my way to a costume party, and I just so happened to be dressed as a devil, which meant that I sort of fit the shape of the hole the spell was trying to fill,” Dawn looked from face to face, crossing her fingers out of sight under the table. What she had said was the truth, but she had conveniently left out the fact that her previous incarnation as the Key probably automatically made her an attractive subject for such a spell, hence it had been she, and not one of the thousands of other people who might at that precise moment be dressed in a devil’s costume, who had been seized by the spell. She theorised that this went some way toward explaining why she got kidnapped practically every Tuesday. Her innate Key-ness acted kind of like a magnet to the supernatural.
“You sure seem to know a lot about it,” Dean growled beside her. All traces of good humour had been wiped from his face.
Opposite them, Sam stared at Dawn. He didn’t understand why, but for some reason, he believed her. Once he had woken from the blood loss induced near coma Bobby had nursed him through, Sam had feverishly gone over the details of the spell again and again, desperately seeking the reason why it had failed. It had failed, he’d known that. The very fact that the girl opposite him hadn’t murdered Bobby and him the moment the circle had broken proved that the spell’s original subject had not been reached. Still, this girl, whoever she was, seemed to know an uncomfortable amount about him and dark rites in general for someone who claimed to just have happened to be dressed up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Dawn looked abashed. “Well…I’m sort of an occult librarian. Who fight’s crime,” she smiled sheepishly. Neither Dean nor Sam knew how to respond to such a ridiculous statement.
“Look,” Dawn addressed Sam, “I’m not the type to bear a grudge. You summoned me instead of the devil. Hilarious case of mistaken identity and so forth! It’s all been very amusing, and now you and your boyfriend,” here she haphazardly waved at Dean, “have had a good laugh and it’ll be something to tell you demon summoning buddies over a cold brew. I won’t judge. How about we say no more about it, you go order yourself some questionable sea food products, and later on we can all pretend this whole thing has been some sort of clam induced nightmare that never even happened.” She laughed nervously, and glanced at the gun Dean still trained on her under the table, then looked hopefully between the two men. The colour had flooded back to Dean’s face and he hissed, “I am not his boyfriend. God! I’m his brother! Why does everyone always…look, you can’t believe what you read in trashy novels, all right? Or on the internet, for that matter. It’s all lies. Sick, sick lies!”
Disbelief and rage flooded Dawn. Before either man could react, she lunged across the table, and completely disregarding either gun, grabbed Sam by the open collar and hauled his face towards hers.
“What did you do
!” she screeched, “did you open a hellmouth? Did you?!”
Sam disentangled her hands from his throat with difficulty, and, nervously running his hands through his head, leaned back in his seat.
“No,” he replied, avoiding both Dawn and Dean’s gaze, “I was going to. I’d researched everything, prepared everything, but before I could, well ...he came back on his own.” Sam did not understand why he was telling her this, but it felt good to finally talk about it. Even Bobby did not know the lengths to which Sam had been willing to go to get his brother back.
“He came back on his own.” Dawn echoed him flatly. She turned in her seat to look Dean up and down. He arched his eyebrow at her and abruptly she poked him in the cheek.
“You’re not a zombie, are you?” she asked, “you don’t smell like a zombie, but I hear Axe for men has come out with a whole new range for the shambling dead.” She narrowed her eyes at him. “Ok, I give. How’d you do it?”
Dean and Sam exchanged looks over her head. This whole afternoon had entered serious weirdness level ages ago. Dean sighed. Might as well tell the crazy chick. It wasn’t as if his return from the pit was a secret. Probably every minor demon from here to Timbuktu already knew about Castiel. Just to be safe, he muttered a quick Christo at Dawn. She merely looked puzzled and said, “Gesundheit.”
He shrugged in the general direction of Sam. He had a feeling his younger brother would spend the rest of the day sulking no matter the outcome.
“An angel came for me, pulled me out of hell,” he told the girl.
She smirked. Whatever reaction Sam and Dean might have anticipated, this was not it. Dawn looked from Dean to Sam and then Dean again, and sniggered.
“An angel?” she giggled, “tell me, this guy, was he kinda tall, dark hair, overhanging forehead?”
“Uh, sort of?” Dean replied, “except for the forehead bit?”
“Was he wearing a black leather duster and mooching about all broody with man pain?” she grinned.
“Uh …well, Castiel isn’t exactly Mr. Happy but I think his coat is more sort of …beige? I always think he looks a bit like a depressed accountant,” Dean supplied helpfully.
“Beige?” Dawn frowned, “wow, definitely not Angel then. I don’t think he knows what beige is
, let alone what it looks like. Not emo enough.” She looked doubtful for a few moments.
“Listen”, she finally said, worrying at her bottom lip with her teeth, “if some higher power went and pulled you out of hell, it’s probably got something planned for you, and I doubt it’s good. Don’t like, let it knock you up or anything. It’ll only try to give birth to itself, and that sort of thing never ends well.”
Sam and Dean exchanged another look. What the fuck, it said.
The sounds of cheers suddenly echoed from the area of the pool table. Dawn turned to face the two men. “Sounds like my friends are coming back”, she said, “and they have really dim views of people threatening me with guns. Views that will see you turned into a wide variety of barnyard animals and threatened with shovels until you see the error of your ways, if you take my meaning. You should probably get out of here before they get back.”
Sam looked at Dean and shrugged. He’d lost his appetite a while ago as it was.
Slowly, tucking their guns away as they went, the two men got out of their seats. Looking somewhat uncertain, they stood in front of Dawn’s table for a few moments, as if at a loss. Finally, Dean shrugged sharply and tugged at his brother’s sleeve.
“Let’s get out of here, man,” he said and turned to face Dawn, “it’s been, uh …surreal.” With a nod, he and Sam made their way out of the restaurant and into the hyper bright desert sun. Dawn watched the two as they folded themselves into a beautiful black muscle car, which roared to life and soon made its way back onto the highway. Lost in thought, Dawn stared at her forgotten drink. The ice had long since melted and a puddle of condensation ringed the glass where it stood. So the brother’s had been reunited. That was good, Dawn thought. One year away from Buffy, and she more than understood what Sam had gone through and the lengths to which he had been willing to go. Frowning, she grabbed a pen from her bag and scribbled Castiel?
on to the corner of an unused napkin. Carefully, she tucked this into a pocket of her purse. It would probably be a good idea to keep an eye on whatever situation was brewing there. You could never tell how this sort of thing might turn out.End