AN: Something a little different for me, new fandom at least. Spoilers for all of BtVS, season four of Supernatural up through "Family Remains," and then goes AU from there. BtVS belongs to Joss, Supernatural belongs to Kripke. Funny how you can use both of those names as expletives. -MM
“I know I may have said this before, but this is a new low for us.”
Sam turned to glare at his brother just before they reached the counter, pulling out his badge. “Hello, sir, we’re Agents Pearth and Lee from the Office of the Inspector General.”
“We’re here for a surprise inspection of the facilities. There’ve been some reports of irregularities,” added Dean, not quite able to wipe the sneer off of his face.
The middle-aged clerk behind the counter bit his lip. “I’ll just get the postmaster then.” He disappeared into the back rooms of the post office, leaving Sam and Dean alone to bicker.
“How often do we get to come to L.A. and we’re stuck checking out a haunted post office?” hissed Dean. “It hasn’t even killed anyone.”
“Guy nearly lost his arm in a sorting machine accident last week, that’s got to count for something.,” replied Sam.
“Probably the only place where my trunk doesn’t have the most guns in the parking lot,” muttered Dean.
As he finished, a tall, stern-looking woman emerged from the back. “Agents? I have to say that I’ve been expecting you. The lads from OSHA just finished their investigation, but there’s nothing like government bureaucracy when it comes to redundancy.”
Dean smiled. “We’re just happy to serve, madam postmaster.”
The postmaster glanced up over the top of her spectacles. “Please, call me Lucille.”
“Lucille, do you mind if we take a quick tour of your facilities?”
Lucille nodded. “Roger here can show you around. If you have any particularly pressing inquiries afterwards, I’ll be in my office. Happy hunting.” She inclined her head towards Dean then returned to the back.
Dean figured that, as a major organizational center in one of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, this had to be nearly as exciting as post offices got. It still bored him to tears. Roger mentioned that for the last several years objects had been known to move without anyone knowing how, and that none of the female employees seemed to like to use the shower there any more. Considering the female employees he’d seen thus far, Dean was perfectly happy not imagining any of them in the shower.
“And this,” said Roger with a flourish as he opened the weighted door, “concludes our tour. The Dead Letter room. It’s gotten a little out of hand lately, but it had nothing to do with the accident.”
Sam gave Dean a significant look. “Well, thank you, Roger. We’ll just do a little checking around in here, so that we can file a complete report,” said Sam.
Roger shrugged. “Suit yourselves.” He let the door slam behind him.
Sam clenched his jaw. “It feel any colder in here to you, Dean?”
“Just a touch.” Dean pulled his EMF detector out of his pocket. “Who knows what people send through the mail? I’m really hoping it’s a lock of hair, tucked in a letter or something. Not... any other body part that I can think of.” He started ducking through the shelves. “He wasn’t kidding about it getting out of hand.”
Sam surveyed the shelves and sacks with dismay. “It’s a lot of lost messages in here.” He pulled a couple of envelopes out. “And none of it’s Publishers’ Clearinghouse. It’s mostly hand-addressed, the y’know, personal kind.”
Dean snorted. “What’s so wrong with e-mail?” The detector squealed. “Whoa, I’ve got something.” He ran the device along the shelf again. “Here we go.” The trigger appeared to be a lumpy manila envelope. “Postmarked 2003?”
“That’s about how long the stories seem to go back,” confirmed Sam. “It’s a long time to be lost, plenty of time for the ghost to get good and angry.”
“God knows I would be.” Dean tore the end of the envelope off with his teeth. A large brass amulet fell into his hands. “Well, it’s ugly.”
“Where’s it from and where’s it supposed to go?” asked Sam, grabbing the envelope away. “No return address, sent to a company called Wolfram and Hart?”
Dean tucked the amulet away in his jacket pocket. “Never heard of them. Now, let’s go melt this thing down and be done with this.”
The amulet sat in the pot. Dean was pretty sure that it was mocking them. “We’re going to have to break in to a factory or something.”
Sam shook his head. “We’ve used this thing to cast silver bullets with. Brass has a lower melting point than silver does.”
“Maybe it’s not brass.” Dean poked the amulet with a spoon. It didn’t even feel softer.
Sam sighed. “It looks like brass.”
“It is brass.” Both of the Winchester men jumped and whirled around. There, sitting on the end of Sam’s bed, was a thin, bleach blond man in a long black duster, leaning his head into his hands. “But it won’t melt. It can’t.”
Dean cocked his shotgun. “Oh, really?”
The man dropped his hands. “Yes, really.”
“Who the hell are you and what are you doing in here?” Sam kept both his voice and his aim steady.
The man showed no sign of concern at being confronted by two armed men. He smiled. “Funny thing, I was just about to ask you two prats the same questions. Both ‘who the hell are you,’ and ‘what the hell am I
doing here’?” He stood. “Because if my eternal reward consists of kicking around postal facilities and cheap motel rooms until the end of time, I bloody well want to reconsider the whole heroic sacrifice routine.” He made an effort at kicking a chair over but his foot passed straight through the piece of furniture. “Bloody hell.” He sat back down on the bed and returned to cradling his head in his hands.
Sam lowered his gun. “You realize you’re dead?”
The spirit groaned. “I did mention the ‘heroic sacrifice’ bit, you stupid wanker.”
“Well, if we can melt down this amulet we can put you to rest.” Sam pointed at the melting pot.
The spirit crossed his legs and folded his hands together under his chin. “Well, fancy that. Except that the amulet itself burns hot enough to melt solid rock, so I imagine your little jewelry-making kit is going to run into some difficulty pulling it off.” Sam’s shoulders slumped at the news.
Dean moved closer, keeping his shotgun aimed at the spirit’s head. “Show some respect, please.”
The spirit arched a single scarred eyebrow. “Lower the gun already, you ponce. I can’t hurt you and you can’t hurt me. All you’re doing is compensating for something.”
“Is that so?” Dean let a shot go off, and the spirit flickered out of existence.
A few moments later, he returned. “Oh my, that really showed me,” droned the spirit. “But I certainly do fear the big, bad, gun-toting man now.”
Dean let the shotgun drop. “Okay, fine. We can’t get rid of you. So who are you?”
Deans eyebrows quirked. “Spike, huh? Who’s overcompensating now?” Dean turned away and sank into the chair that Spike had failed to kick.
Spike smiled. “Well, you’ve got me there, Peaches. And who are you? Some amateur exorcist?”
“We’re not amateurs. We do this for a living,” said Sam.
“And I can tell by our palatial surroundings that you obviously make a fantastic go of it.”
Sam grimaced. “No one ever went into demon hunting for the money.”
This made Spike perk up. “Demon-hunters, eh?”
Dean nodded. “I’m Dean, this is my brother Sam, and yeah, we hunt demons. And ghosts. Which is how we got saddled with your sorry ass.”
Spike leaned forward. “Well, as good professional demon hunters, you must know about the Slayer. So how about you set about getting me to her and then we can both be happy to have me out of your hair.” He hopped to his feet. “Red’ll know how to magic me out of this, she always does, and then I can just get along with the rest of my un-life.” A real smile bloomed across his face.
Sam blinked. “‘Slayer’?”
“Yeah. As in, ‘comma, The’?” No flare of recognition appeared in the boys’ faces and Spike groaned. “Come on, she’s the real professional demon-hunter, chosen and all. Even if you haven’t met her you must have read about them in your demon lore.”
“Nope, not ringing any bells here, sparky,” said Dean.
“Well then you must be either real amateurs or just piss-poor at your jobs,” shouted Spike.
Sam held up his hands. “Calm down, calm down. Just, let me make a phone call to a friend, see if he knows anything about this slayer person.” He took his cell phone out of his pocket and started to dial Bobby.
Spike pointed a finger at Sam. “Make sure it’s Buffy.” He faltered. “If she’s still alive.”
“Buffy?” asked Dean, his lips curling.
“Yeah, stupid bloody name, don’t know what Joyce was thinking.” Spike sank back down on the bed, not really noticing Dean anymore. “She’ll still be alive. She made it out of there in time.” A flicker of doubt crossed his face. “Say there, Dean, how long have I been out?”
Dean pulled a flask out of his jacket. “That all depends. When did you go down?” He took a swig, and Spikes eyes followed the bottle.
“Would have been May of 2003.”
Dean nodded. “Well then, Spike, you’ve been dead and gone for just under six years.”
“Six years?” Spike’s eyes widened. “Damn. Even being stuck at the post office, it didn’t feel like it was that long.”
“My sympathies.” Dean took another drink. “So, I’ve gotta ask, if you’re a hero and all, why’d you shred that guy’s arm in the sorting machine?”
Spike blinked. “Morty? I didn’t have a thing to do with that. He was drunk off his arse.”
Dean glanced at his brother. “Huh. Lucky us.”
Sam hung up the phone, frowning. “Well, whoever this slayer is, Bobby’s never heard of one. He’s going to check a couple other sources, see if he can dig anything up.” He looked down at his lap. “So, yeah.”
“This doesn’t make any sense.” Spike stared off into space. “Maybe they went into hiding after Sunnydale?”
Dean stood. “Well, I for one would like some lunch. We’ll just leave you here to try and figure things out. Here, trade seats with me.”
“Huh? Oh, right.” Spike shifted over the wooden chair. “What’s this then?”
“Precautionary measures.” Dean pulled a container of salt out of his bag and made a neat circle of it around Spike. “It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s just that you’re kind of a dick.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Oh please.” Then he noticed that he couldn’t seem to wave his hand outside of the boundary. “What the-“
Sam smiled. “Just keep comfortable. We’ll be back in a bit.”
“Right. Don’t forget to turn off the hot plate while you’re gone, the last fiery inferno I was in was my explosive death, don’t care to repeat the experience.”
“Good point.” Sam turned off the smelting equipment. Dean gave a jaunty wave as he walked out, while Sam sheepishly closed the door behind them.
Spike flicked a finger against the invisible barrier. “What a bunch of tossers.”
Dean held his tongue while the food was delivered, but couldn’t contain himself any longer. “Well this is just great, Sam. You found us a pet. An obnoxious, delusional, English ghost whose essence is trapped in a magical amulet that we can’t destroy. Perfect.”
“What makes you so certain that he’s delusional?” asked Sam, poking at his salad.
Dean raised his hands. “I don’t know. His obsession with some fictional girl hunter named Buffy? That might have been our first clue.”
Sam shrugged. “Bobby’s still looking for information on her.”
“Sammy, can you think of a single hunter in this world that would ever hold on to a name like Buffy,” asked Dean, staring his brother down.
Sam looked down. “Fair point.”
“And that accident at the post office wasn’t even him. We did those guys absolutely no good, and now I can already tell by that sappy look on your face that you feel responsible for him.”
Sam leaned back in the booth. “Well, what are we supposed to do? Leave him to haunt the motel room for the rest of eternity?”
Dean waved his sandwich like a weapon. “I knew it.”
Spike remained in a pose of contemplation when the Winchesters returned. “Any word?”
Sam shook his head. “No, sorry.”
Spike’s continued in a soft voice. “Because that envelope on the table over there, the one the amulet was in, it says ‘Wolfram and Hart,’ doesn’t it?”
Dean glanced down at it. “It does. Care of someone named Angel.” A grimace crossed his face at the word’s unwanted association.
“They were going to send me to the damned Poofter? Fat bit of luck that I was at least spared that.” Spike sighed. “But I didn’t get delivered.”
Sam nodded. “Probably because there is no such company on record as having ever done business in the state of California. I checked the records.”
Spike tapped his temple, the tone of his voice climbing to a shout. “And that, my fluffy friend, is what does not make any sense at all, because Wolfram and Hart? They are sodding trans-dimensional evil doers!” Dean mouthed the word ‘trans-dimensional’ at his brother, who looked equally confused. “They’ve got branches everywhere. Every plane anyone I know has ever visited. Why couldn’t I be delivered?”
“Sorry there, looney tunes, they don’t have an office here,” said Dean.
Spike hopped up to sit on the back of the chair. “Exactly.” He held up a finger. “Which makes this a cock-up of absolutely cosmic proportions.”
Sam blinked. “Not that we don’t necessarily agree, but how so?”
“Because the bloody post office managed to send me to the wrong bloody dimension! A lousy backwoods dimension with no Slayer and with my luck, probably no Jack Daniels.”
Dean rubbed his hands together. “Gotta say, Spike, you’re not coming across as any more sane this time through.”
Spike glared at him, then glowered. “Sam, you couldn’t possibly let me out of this little circle could you? I find myself in need of a good pace.”
“Sure.” Sam scuffed the salt with his boot.
“Much obliged.” Spike stood, ruffling the duster around his neck, and began marching back and forth in the small entryway. “So, the Powers that Be weren’t quite done with their old whipping boy Spike. Saving the world just wasn’t a good enough ending to their tastes. Okay, fine, maybe it was more than I deserved. They want me to go swanning off to pull Angelus’ self-righteous arse out of the flames, most likely. Heh, but that didn’t happen. Instead, unknowable forces see to it that I wind up here.” He stopped. “Someone out there hates me.” He pivoted and began walking again. “All right then, no use being modest, lots of people out there hate me, but someone with some serious mojo hates me. No matter, I’ve gotta get back.” He turned on Sam. “And seeing as you’re slightly inclined to the supernatural, it’s going to have to be you.”
Sam hesitated. “Uh-”
“No dice,” said Dean, settling into the chair. “We’ve got real problems to deal with. No time to go on a wild-goose chase trying to send a crazy ghost back to some supposed other dimension.”
“What kind of problems? Some poltergeist giving grandma a cheap thrill at night in Pasadena?”
“Actually,” said Sam as he leaned against the wall, “we have an apocalyptic problem.”
Spike straightened. “Oh, apocalypse, huh? I’ve gotten through a couple of those in my time. Trust me, it all works out. Just don’t put on any shiny bobs that evil law firms send in your direction and you should make it out okay.”
“We’re talking the
apocalypse, here,” said Dean. “Revelations type stuff. Not the sort of thing that’s just going to work out on its own.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “They’re all the
apocalypse, Dean. And whether it was the world getting sucked into hell, all the barriers between dimension breaking down like Lego blocks, some grief-shocked bint using magic to put an end to all of creation, or, say, the source of all evil in the world opening the gates of hell to lead its legions out of there, they all have the same punch line. Everyone. Gets. Dead.”
“That last one,” said Sam, leaning forward. “That’s the one. That’s what we’re facing.”
Spike shuddered. “It would be, wouldn’t it?” He patted about at his pockets before realizing that he didn’t have any cigarettes and even if he did, he couldn’t smoke them. “So the First is here too?”
Sam coughed. “No. I mean, maybe. We’re trying to stop Lucifer from rising, he was the first angel, is that what you mean?”
Spike stared, then laughed. “Lucifer? The devil. You’re trying to beat the devil? Oh, this is too rich.”
“Something funny about that?” asked Dean.
“No, not really,” said Spike. “Like I said before, the names may change, but the song remains the same.” He lounged across the bed. “All right. You’ve got me. I’m in. I’ll help you lot out with this apocalypse thing while I try and figure out how to get home.”
Dean snorted. “Who said we wanted your help? And what kind of help is a guy with no body?”
“You’ll find that I’m surprisingly versatile. A body would be nice, don’t get me wrong, but it’s sort of gilding the lily. Not to mention that you need all the help that you can get, whether you want it or not.”
Sam swallowed. “How do you know that?”
“After all these years, I can recognize quiet desperation when I see it.”