Now we start to go seriously AU, as
It's a Terrible Life doesn't happen.
Dean had always loved the long lonely highways of West Texas, open skies and not a cop for more than a hundred miles in any direction. He fed his baby all the gas she wanted and she purred, all the windows wide open and the warm desert air running through his hair. He laughed and turned to express his glee at the freedom of it to his brother in the passenger seat, but Sam wasn’t there. Instead a tiny blonde girl wearing a floral-patterned sundress and over-sized sunglasses laughed with him, her arm out the window, hand swaying in the air currents.
“Same as it ever was,” she sang.
“Here I am behind the wheel of a large automobile,” Dean replied. He chanced another glance at her. “Do I know you?”
She shook her head with a smile. “Not really. We have a mutual acquaintance. Well, a few of them, anyway.”
Dean knew that if he reached for the woman she’d disappear. “How’d you get in my car then?”
Her hands stroked the dash. “Inside your holiest of holies, you mean? I have my ways.”
“Who are you?” asked Dean.
Again she smiled before looking out the window. “I’ve got a ridiculous name and I might not even be me right now, believe it or not.”
“You’d be surprised the things I’m willing to believe when they come out of the mouth of a beautiful woman.”
She dipped the sunglasses down and he couldn’t quite tell the color of her eyes from the quick look he got. “Would you believe that I care? Personally? About you?”
Dean’s expression sombered and he focused on the road ahead. “Why would you do that?”
Suddenly she was right beside him, whispering into his ear. “Because you are worthy, Dean Winchester.” Her lips just grazed the shell of his ear and his eyes rolled shut at the contact. “Because you let my friend Spike sleep in your bathtub even after you found out what he was,” she whispered.
Dean’s eyes shot open. “Spike? What’s he got to do with this?”
She leaned back into the seat. “Right tool for the right job, Dean. Spike’s got his uses.” The grin on the woman’s face was lewd enough to be illegal in several Bible-belt states. “Not that I expect you to use him for that, but he’s a clever one. He sees things other people refuse to.”
Dean shook his head. “He’s some kind of a demon. Can’t trust ‘em.” Dean wasn’t sure when they’d arrived, but they were standing at a scenic rest stop, the one where he’d finally broken down and told Sammy their father’s last words.
The blonde woman was tiny, her head barely reaching his chest as she slung back a bottle of beer. “That’s right, can’t trust anything that’s got a little bit of a demon in it, can you?”
Dean flinched. “I don’t mean – I trust Sammy.”
“Do you, now?” The woman clinked her bottle against Dean’s before taking another long drink.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
She smiled. “Nothing at all,” she said, all too quickly. “People have been doing the whole ‘free-will’ question much longer than you’ve been alive, but I’ll take it you’re a true believer, if you trust your brother.” She hopped up to sit on the fence in a motion of impossible grace. “Even the demonically-tainted have free will. And oh, the things they do with it. Sometimes they do the right things for the wrong reasons. Other times it’s the wrong things for the right reasons. And some of them even do the right things for the right reasons. Basically the same as with people.”
She wasn’t wearing the sunglasses anymore. Hazel green eyes sparkled at him while she said this and Dean paused, lost in them for a moment, in the galaxies he could see in their depths. Finally he cleared his throat before saying, “I’m not sure I understand.”
Her hand cupped his cheek. “Maybe one day you will.” Dean leaned into the touch as her thumb caressed his stubble. “So much I wish I could say, but there’s not enough time. There never is.” She withdrew the hand. “I have to go. But if you’re a bright boy, and I like to think you are, you’ll ask Spike about troll hammers.”
Dean blinked. “Troll hammers?” She nodded in reply, taking another drink from her beer, and pointed behind Dean’s shoulder. He turned and saw an oversized metallic hammer sitting on a nearby picnic bench. When he looked back at the fence, the woman was no longer there. Dean shrugged at this and walked over to the picnic table. Setting his beer down, Dean tried to pick up the strange artifact. He pulled at it with all his strength, but it wouldn’t budge. The skies grew dark and Dean felt suddenly isolated and terrified. He looked up at the heavens, tears stinging at his eyes. “I can’t lift it!”
Dean woke up and his brother was already awake, dressed and sitting up in bed, tapping at his laptop. “Morning,” said Dean. He looked over at the curtained window. “What time is it?” Dean asked, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand.
“A little after four,” said Sam.
Dean levered himself off of the bed. “You let me sleep that long?”
A half smile appeared on Sam’s face. “Listened to your snoring and figured you needed it.”
Dean grunted, pulled on a pair of jeans and headed for the bathroom, but found the door shut and locked. He shook his head. “Right.” He knocked, but there was no response. Dean knocked at the bathroom door again. “Come on, Spike!” The door swung open and Dean looked down at a bare-chested Spike, who was glaring daggers at him.
“The sun is still up, this is the first sleep I’ve had in six bloody years, I’m getting it in the fucking bathtub, and I’m still knackered all to hell, so could you please bugger off?” Spike slammed the door shut before Dean could wedge his way in.
Dean shot his brother a look before knocking again. “I need to piss, Spike, and I will kick this door in to do it.” Sam laughed. “I really liked him better when he was a ghost.”
Sam looked at his watch. “He’s had a body for all of twenty hours.”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t like him much then either.” He was about to knock again when Sam stopped him.
Sam rapped gently at the door. “Spike, the curtains are shut, you can get some sleep out here.”
The door cracked open. Spike looked at Sam, then Dean, then Sam again. “Promise he won’t throw the curtains open while I’m out there?”
“I fed you my own blood last night to keep you alive, after putting myself through the complete grossness of that do you really think I’m going to kill you now?” groused Dean.
“Good point.” Spike let Dean push by as he stepped out of the bathroom, grabbing the duvet out of the tub. Dean gave his brother a grateful smile as he shut the door, while Spike collapsed onto Dean’s vacant bed, the duvet pulled over his head. “You’d think your brother of all people in the world would respect a man’s first day’s sleep after being dead.”
Sam settled back into a chair. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re still dead, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, well, undead is more accurate, but-” Spike peeked out from under the covers. “Can we do the semantics later? In like, two hours?”
Sam smiled. “Okay.”
“Good.” Spike returned to his face-down position on the bed, pulling the duvet back over his head as a precaution against Dean deciding that he was just a little too demonic for the hotel room. Sam watched the lump in the gloomy light: apparently when Spike slept he did a much better impression of dead, because the lump didn’t move at all.
Several minutes later Dean emerged from the bathroom, cast a disapproving look at the lump on his bed, and took the other seat. He reached over for his duffel and pulled out the equipment he’d need to clean his pearl handled automatic. Sam sighed: Dean had cleaned the gun two days before, and hadn’t fired it since, but Sam wasn’t going to say anything. “You couldn’t scrounge up some food, could you? I’m starving,” said Dean as he released the cartridge.
Sam stood. “Sure. Pie?”
“Whatever.” Dean didn’t look up. Sam swallowed and headed for the door. He hesitated when he reached it and Dean finally looked up at him. “You don’t have to worry. I wouldn’t kill the bastard until he gave us some answers.”
“Yeah, right.” Sam twirled the keys around his finger. “I’ll be right back.” It took Sam the better part of an hour to find all the things he was looking for in Cheyenne, so by the time he returned Dean had finished with the automatic and was reassembling his shotgun, the barrels of it gleaming in the lamplight. “Been hard at work?” Dean grunted in response but said nothing. Sam set one brown paper sack on the table before placing a smaller one in the mini-fridge. When he returned to the table, Dean simply raised an eyebrow. “Pig blood from the butcher’s. For Spike.”
Dean pursed his lips and started unwrapping a cheeseburger. He took a large bite and chewed. Sam busied himself with his own food. Eventually Dean balled up the empty paper wrapper and deposited it in the bag. As he dug into the apple pie, he said, “In our experience, dead man’s blood paralyzes a vampire. What do you think dead pig’s blood does?”
Sam glanced over at the lump on the bed. “Spike’s not our kind of vampire. He asked for pig’s blood last night, I figured it couldn’t hurt.”
“What kind of vampire is he?”
“I don’t know. Whatever a vampire is in the world he comes from I guess.”
“And what other information have you two been sharing in your little secret pow-wows?” asked Dean, his eyes flashing with anger. “Pow-wows that I wasn’t invited to.”
“Dean,” said Sam, wiping his forehead with his hand. “It wasn’t like that. I’m always carrying the amulet around, so Spike’s always around me. He’s – he’s easy to talk to.”
Dean rolled his eyes. “Right.”
“When he’s not insulting me, anyway,” admitted Sam, stabbing a piece of chicken and chewing. “He listens. He thinks. He has the occasional bright idea.” Sam grinned at his brother. “Like bothering to ask for a list of the seals.”
“Hmph,” huffed Dean. He finished his pie before saying, “Y’know, when it comes to confidantes, other than me, I mean, does it bug you that all of yours turn out to be demons and all of mine turn out to be angels?” Sam developed that bitchy face he was so good at making, and Dean smiled. “Just saying.”
Whatever reply Sam might have formulated was lost as an arm appeared from beneath the duvet and pulled the cover off, revealing a fully conscious Spike. “My, but you two can natter on.” Spike stood up.
“Good morning, sunshine,” said Dean, pulling at the drapes. The window revealed nothing but fading twilight. “You’ve got an instinct for this, don’t you?”
Spike tapped his temple with his finger. “The demon always knows. Now, unless you’d like the general public to swoon at my exposed and chiseled physique, could one of you two lend me a shirt? The only one I had has a couple of holes and a lot of blood all over it.” Sam reached into his duffel. “And none of that pink paisley crap you’re so fond of.”
Sam glowered, but tossed a grey t-shirt to the vampire, who pulled it on. “There’s blood in the fridge,” said Sam.
Spike headed for the fridge, opened the plastic container, and sniffed it before sipping. “Thanks for the thought,” he said. Spike leaned up against the dresser while enjoying his breakfast. Dean wrinkled his nose at the sight. “So, what are those unanswered questions that were so important that you’re holding off on staking me, Dean?”
Dean let out a short laugh. “Staking you? I didn’t know that was a threat.”
Spike tilted his head. “Wooden stake to the heart, sunlight, cut my head off, set me on fire. Crosses burn, so does holy water, and I had my last taste of garlic about a hundred-twenty years ago.” He set the half-empty container on the dresser behind him. “There, you know all the ways to kill me. Going to set about it now, are you?”
Dean raised his hand, shaking his head. “Those are all fairy stories: they don’t work, except for decapitation.”
“Well slap a pair of wings on me and let me prance around the forest spreading pixie dust, because here I am.”
Sam snickered at this while Dean sat back. “I’m not touching that one with a ten foot pole,” said Dean.
Spike snorted. “Yeah, you wouldn’t. So, you figured out the whole angel-killing thing, did you have any luck with the list of seals?”
“Not yet,” said Sam. “Ruby got a little, uh, defensive when we asked.”
Spike bobbed his head. “Figured as much.”
Dean shot Spike an odd look before adding, “Bobby’s still working on it, so’s Anna. What do you mean, you figured as much?”
Spike shook his head and took another long drink of blood. “We smell our own.”
Sam’s forehead wrinkled. “Huh?”
“Divide and conquer, my overgrown friend. As a tactic, it works a peach. That Ruby, she’s been pretty helpful so far, has she?”
Sam swallowed. “Yeah.”
His brother snorted and Sam gave him a dirty look and was about to say something when Spike lifted his hand. “Ah, ah, ah. What did I just say?”
Sam gritted his teeth. “Divide and conquer.”
Spike nodded. “I’m not saying she’s hasn’t done you a good turn here and there, I’m not even saying that she won’t do you more in the future. But the only thing she appears to be reliable for is making you and your brother pissy at each other.” Dean smirked at this before noticing that Spike had turned his attention to him. “Meanwhile, Rickets, those angel pals of yours who proved themselves so very trustworthy last night, I’m sure they have nothing but high praise for your brother here?”
Dean huffed at this before Sam muttered, “Threatened to kill me.”
Dean thought for a second and folded his arms. “Divide and conquer,” admitted Dean.
The corners of Spike’s mouth tilted up. “There you go. Could be either one, could be both, but neither? I wouldn’t put money on it. Something out there wants you two acting angry, stupid, and separate. Just something to bear in mind.” He tossed the empty container in the trash.
Sam shook his head. “But why?”
“I don’t know. All I know is you two are being played by every side, and I’ve been fate’s bitch enough times to recognize the signs.” Spike paused here, his gaze lingering on Dean for a few seconds longer than Dean was comfortable with, “I can’t even tell what game they’re playing yet but it smells off to me. So, I need you two to demonstrate a modicum of self-awareness. You’re not just pawns on a chessboard: you’ve got free will, and it’s time to start using it.”
Dean remembered the words from his dream. Did Spike see something in him? And what was it that the girl had said? “Troll hammers,” Dean mumbled under his breath.
Spike tilted his head. “What did you say?”
Dean rested his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. “I’m supposed to ask you about troll hammers.” Sam and Spike both stared at him blankly. “Never mind, Sam’s the one who gets the psychic dreams, it was just really vivid, that’s all.”
Spike pursed his lips. “Troll hammer is a magical metal mallet: can knock a god out cold with one if you can wield it, which you can’t, because we don’t have one and you’re not a troll or a Slayer.” His eyes narrowed. “Who told you to ask me that? One of the angels?”
Dean thought about this for a second. “I don’t think so. She, uh, didn’t really act like one.”
“She?” Spike repeated.
“Yeah.” Dean leaned back in his chair. “Never seen her before in my life, but she showed up in my dream last night, talking about free will and, uh, troll hammers.” He looked over at his brother. “She was kinda hot,” he said with a smile.
Sam had developed an odd look. “Blonde chick?” asked Sam. Dean nodded and he and Sam both held their hands up a little over their heads. “About this tall,” they said in unison.
“She was in my dream last night, too,” said Sam. “It was kind of weird. We were watching T.V. at Pastor Jim’s; she had the remote, kept flipping through the channels.” Sam rubbed his jaw. “It was mostly old movies: Hitchcock and Bergman for awhile before it changed over to Bugs Bunny cartoons and old Disney movies. Then she settled on Reefer Madness
for awhile so she could make fun of it, and after that she, uh,” he blushed slightly, “beat me at a game of Twister.” Dean snickered. “Not a euphemism.”
“Oh, I believe you,” said Dean with a grin. “She say anything about troll hammers?”
Sam shook his head. “No. The last thing she said was kind of weird though. She told me to let Spike know that ‘the grocery store by Jessie’s girl’s place stocks Weetabix.’”
“Huh,” said Dean. “That’s different. What’s a Weetabix?”
“It’s a kind of cereal,” said Spike, his knuckles white as he gripped the edge of the dresser. “Let me get this straight: you both had dreams about a short, attractive, remarkably flexible blonde woman who talked about troll hammers, free will, and Weetabix?”
The boys nodded. Dean shrugged. “She might have also mentioned a thing or two about you.”
Spike clutched his jaw. “Her eyes, they weren’t this funny sort of hazel color, looks different depending on the light, were they, by any chance?”
Sam and Dean shared a look. “Yeah,” said Sam. “Did you dream about her too?”
“No.” There was a hint of pain in his voice. “She didn’t visit me.” Spike looked off to the side. “But the girl you’re describing bears a marked resemblance to one Buffy Summers.”
Sam’s brow furrowed. “Your Slayer friend?”
“Maybe.” Spike bit his lip. “Don’t know how or why she’d be mucking about in your dreams.” ‘But not mine’ went unspoken, but Sam heard it in Spike’s tone. Spikes eyes went unfocused for a few moments before he looked at Sam. “Who’s ‘Jessie’s girl’?”
“You mean, ‘Where can you find a woman like that’?” chuckled Dean. Then a thought occurred to him. “Sam, do you remember Pamela’s tattoo?”
“The tramp stamp?” said Sam. Then he grinned. “Yeah, it said, ‘Jesse Forever.’”
Spike nodded. “I can’t stay with you lot in the car, and it’s not like I have a lot of spare cash on hand to set myself up with.”
Dean tilted his head. “Whoa, whoa. You planning on shacking up with her? You’ve never even met her.”
Spike smirked. “‘Shacking up’? We’ll have to see. But it sounds like I’m supposed to stay with her.” Sam quirked an eyebrow, forcing Spike to explain. “Weetabix is an old favorite of mine, and a lot of stores don’t stock it. If Buffy said there was Weetabix there, it’s because she thinks I’ll be staying there awhile.”
Dean grunted. “Cereal? But you’re a vampire.” Spike’s lips thinned. “I don’t want to know, do I?”
“You’re probably happier that way,” agreed Spike.
Sam glanced at his watch. “If we start now, we might be able to make her place by sunup.” Dean looked at his brother. “If we speed.”
The sky had turned a light shade of violet when they turned into Pamela’s driveway. Barnes was sitting in a rocking chair on her porch. “You boys are cutting it awful close.”
Dean hiked up the steps and pulled her up into a hug. “Give Spike a few minutes and you’ll be wishing we’d been too late,” he said, squeezing her tight. He set her down on her feet, grabbed the cane leaning against the post and pushed it into her hand. “Sorry to get you up this early.”
“You mean up this late,” said Pamela. She swatted his legs with the cane. “Get on inside then, all of you.” The three men filed into her house, and she shut the door behind them. Sam gave her a hug that she accentuated with a quick grope before he broke away. Then she turned. “So you’re the infamous vampire Spike.”
“Guilty as charged, madam.”
Pamela smirked. “Well you are something special, aren’t you?” Though the Winchesters had told him she was blind, Spike had the uncomfortable feeling that he was being ogled. After a few seconds she nodded. “I do meet the prettiest things when I work with hunters. You’ll do. No worries, you can stay here as long as you need.” She walked into the living room. “Come, sit, you must be tired. There’s beers in the fridge, Dean.”
After eleven hours crammed into the Impala, Spike elected to lean against the mantle, but Sam settled into the couch after Pamela deposited herself safely out of groping range in a chair on the opposite side of the coffee table. Spike looked around: the house was small but looked comfortable enough, and all of the windows were well covered by thick curtains. Dean returned from the kitchen with four longnecks and handed one off to Spike before sitting next to his brother. “Anything else I can do for you?” asked Pamela.
Dean set his beer down on the table. “Not sure. Hell, I’m not entirely sure why we’re here in the first place.”
Pamela shrugged. “It was a bit of a surprise, but I figured it was because Bobby would drink battery acid before he let a vampire live under his roof and I was the next number in your phone.”
“Dean and I got these weird dreams, maybe messages, told us to bring Spike here. They were a little hazy on the general outline, not to mention the fine details,” said Sam.
Pamela sipped from her beer. “Weren’t from those fucking angels, were they?”
Dean chuckled. “No. Near as we can tell they were from an old girlfriend of Spike’s,” he said, not quite able to keep his eyes from rolling.
“That’s quite the long distance call. Spike here’s not a native to this particular dimension,” said Pamela.
Spike nearly choked on his beer. “When did Dean tell you that?”
Pamela had a wide grin on her face. “I’m a psychic, honey, and it’s written all over you. Buffy, huh?” She turned her face to the brothers. “And these two think she’s quite a looker.” Spike glared at Sam and Dean. Sam blushed and looked down, but Dean just arched his eyebrows and shrugged. “What’s she doing chatting up cute but not terribly bright men in my neck of the woods?”
“Don’t know,” said Spike.
Pamela sighed. “Sometimes it’s hard for a girl to pick up the phone and call her ex, sugar.” She scooted forward on the chair. “Give me your hands, boys.” Sam and Dean dutifully extended their hands towards her, and she clasped them in her own. “Definitely not just dreams. Funny. If it was your former sweetheart who contacted these two, I wouldn’t want to run into her in a dark alley on the astral plane.” Pamela released the boys’ hands. “She some kind of super-psychic?”
Spike shook his head. “No. She’s a Slayer. Super-strength, but not so much with the mind powers.”
Dean looked back at Spike. “Could it have been some kind of a demon?”
“No, it’s not demonic, not evil of any kind. Not like anything I’ve ever seen before, but then again, neither is our new friend here.” She took a long swig. “The image in your heads though, it matches up perfectly with the girl Spike’s thinking of. I’m just not sure on how it got there, or if it was actually her and not something else that just looks like her. She tell you anything else, other than to come here?”
Sam and Dean shook their heads. “Just to ask Spike about troll hammers,” said Dean.
Pamela tilted her head. “I still haven’t figured that one out,” replied Spike.
“You keep thinking on it, darlin’, I’m sure you’ll work it out.” Pamela stood. “Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m beat. Make yourselves at home. There’s a guest bedroom down the hall, you’ll have to put on the sheets yourself. The couch is comfy enough and there’s a cot in the basement.” She headed up the stairs. When she’d reached the top, she called back, “Of course, my door’s always open.”
The three in the living room exchanged looks. “Which one of us was she talking to?” asked Spike.
Sam smiled. “With Pam, it could be any of us.”
Dean put his feet up on the table. “Or all of us,” he said before taking a drink.