Disclaimer: I own neither Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, nor Supernatural. They belong to their respective creators and I make no money off this. And to be nitpicky, I do not own Scooby Doo or the Lion King or any other movie or book you find referenced either.
Pairing: I know I put out a sort of poll on pairings you guys wanted. I got a lot of votes for a lot of pairings and most of them wanted a threesome. But the only way I can write a threesome is if I make it incest and that would take way too much plot building at this point. I'm sorry to disappoint anyone who wanted a pairing, but this series is now officially gen. Thank you.
A/N: Kids, don’t mix painkillers and booze at home, you got that? It’s bad. Also, if anyone can answer the mystery of when the fandom decided that Dean has to call Buffy ‘Princess’, that’d be much appreciated cuz I’m letting him do it, too, and I’d love to know why that is.
Thanks to Anneliese for helping write this and giving her stamp of approval.
+Normalcy and the Take Away Devil
Buffy having a nightmare was unlike anything Sam and Dean had ever witnessed.
Neither did she scream like Sam, nor kick and toss like Dean. She simply lay in bed, still and tense, every muscle strained to the breaking point, eyes dancing madly behind closed lids. Watching her made their own bodies ache. It was something that both Winchesters had sadly grown used to over the past two weeks.
They had given up on separate rooms after the fourth time one of them had woken to find Buffy sitting at the end of their bed, having snuck in, watching them sleep. It was creepy as hell but more than that, it worried them. The night they had freed the slayer from the Nightmare she had slept little but claimed to be okay. Her sleeping patterns however, had remained much the same ever since.
She slept one or two hours a night and then woke, refusing to go back to sleep. On the up side, there was always breakfast when the boys woke up, they never ran out of rock salt shells anymore and their laundry had a tendency to miraculously get done overnight. Dean had, however, drawn the line at Buffy trying to clean up the inside of his baby. No-one touched the Impala but him. Rule number three in the Dean Winchester Book of Unbreakable Laws.
So, since Buffy inevitably ended up in their room, whiling the night away with various monotonous tasks, they stopped renting an extra room for her. Either the boys shared and let her have the spare bed, or she crashed with one of them, usually Sam. Although Dean had noticed that she tended to crawl in with him on the nights of a rough hunt, preferring silent companionship over Sam’s attempts at soothing her.
Dean didn’t mind. He’d never admit it, even under the threat of death, but the bottom line was that, despite his aversion to chick flick moments, he was a very tactile person and Buffy’s simple, eye rolling refusal to give him personal space wasn’t as annoying as he pretended it to be.
Which was how, two weeks and several hundred miles later, Buffy was having a nightmare on one side of the king sized bed (and hadn’t Dean kicked up a fuss when he’d realized he’d be sharing his bed with not one, but two bitches
) an hour after falling asleep while the boys were sitting at the table, cleaning guns. It was only shortly past nine pm and they were wide awake and talking quietly, giving the exhausted blonde the chance to grab some much needed sleep after she’d more or less crashed as soon as they’d set foot in the room.
They both stilled as soon as they noticed the change in atmosphere and turned to look at their new friend and yep, there she was, taut as a bowstring ready to snap, lips a thin line, jaw clenched. They waited for a minute or two to see if it would pass, knowing full well it wouldn’t. When had nightmares ever simply stopped?
Sam finally put aside the revolver he was cleaning and shifted so he could lean across the distance between his chair and the bed and gently said, “Buffy.”
The reaction was instantaneous and creepy. Buffy’s eyes shot open, her breath caught in her throat and she went perfectly still, anticipating an attack. Calmly, Sam waited until reality caught up with her and she relaxed before asking, “What was it this time?”
She sat up, clearing her throat, smiling weakly at them. “Victoria Warden’s worst nightmare was getting lost in the woods,” she informed them, voice flat and sterile.
“I think I saw her,” Dean supplied as a way to keep the silence at bay. Sam just shrugged. Occasionally the nightmares Buffy had brought back from her time in a coma were familiar but most of the time there were not. They still had no idea just how many people the Nightmare had devoured during its long, hungry existence. All they knew was that some of the dreams it had absorbed, some of the soul pieces that had fed it, seemed to have gotten stuck in Buffy’s head during the two months she had shared her body with the Nightmare.
Glimpses of lives, memories and dreams, all coming to the forefront whenever she fell asleep. Sam didn’t envy her one bit.
Finally Buffy shook her head, sending her hair flying and shaking off the dream. She put her feet on the floor and asked, “Whatcha doing?”
“Being quiet so you can get your beauty sleep, princess,” Dean drawled, reloading a Glock and setting it aside, safety on.
She fluttered her lashes at him in fake appreciation that was meant to cover the real gratitude underneath and Sam rolled his eyes. Dean picked on him less now that there was another victim around but Buffy gave as good as she got and sometimes the two of them just grew a bit much. “Great. So now that I’m awake, what do we do?”
Nightmare talk was officially over, it seemed. Buffy was almost as good at denying and ignoring uncomfortable stuff as a Winchester. She simply looked the other way until it disappeared or jumped her from behind and forced her to face it.
Healthy? No. Effective? Hell yes.
“Research?” Sam suggested mildly, knowing he would be shot down before the word left his mouth.
“Dinner?” Dean made his counter offer, already starting to put away gun oil and pieces of cloth.
Buffy ran her fingers through her hair, grabbed her favorite knife from the nightstand to tuck it into the waistband of her jeans and stood. “Dinner it is.”
It was Dean’s turn to pick what was for dinner and, predictably, he chose the most rundown bar in the entire town and ordered beer and ribs with an eager grin that reminded both Buffy and Sam distinctly of some carnivorous beast.
Still, the menu was limited to that or burgers and Sam was sure that if he had to eat one more burger this week, he was going to turn round and flat. He copied big brother and ordered the same, Buffy’s variation on the theme came with coke instead of beer and a side of fries.
The waitress taking their order popped her gum and looked the small blonde over doubtfully but didn’t comment on the size of the meal she’d ordered. Dean hid a grin. Buffy ate like a true hunter. A six foot six, three hundred and seventy-five pound hunter.
“I tried to stick with the average Californian teenage girl amount of food once,” she’d told Sam when he’d finally burst out with the question of how the hell she could eat so much. “You know, fit in, don’t stick out, don’t be a freak. I looked like Mary-Kate Olsen. My metabolism’s taller than me. It’s hell on the wallet, but that’s how it is.”
She’d shrugged and gone back to her third cheeseburger. After two weeks on the road with her, the Winchesters had come up close with most of her quirks and they amused themselves with watching others try and figure the slayer out. Good luck to them. Even knowing about Buffy’s day job and super skills, she sometimes didn’t make much sense.
Like now. She was staring blankly toward the pool tables, chin resting on her hand, yawning. “Hey, Dean?”
“Who decided what color the balls are?”
“What?” Dean looked up from the menu he was still studying just for the hell of it and followed her line of vision.
“Who decided what color the pool balls are? I mean, why isn’t there a pink one?”
“Because it wasn’t invented by Barbie?” he suggested, eyebrow raised, menu forgotten in his lap. Sam shrugged off his jacket and leaned back to watch what promised to be an interesting discussion.
“And why aren’t they properly white anyway?”
“They are white.”
“No, they’re not. They’re kinda yellowish. Like bones. Old bones.” She winkled her nose. “I don’t like bones.”
“And those balls are not white. Plus, those patterns? Totally dizzy.” She made a swirling motion with one finger and yawned again, eyes dropping. But apparently she was still aware enough to duck when Dean tried to smack her with the menu.
“Don’t call my game dizzy.”
She glared while Sam snagged the menu from his brother and promptly smacked him with it for trying to hit a woman, even if it was only with a laminated piece of paper.
“I didn’t. I called the patterns dizzy. They could just as well be… striped. Checkered. Checkered balls look kinda cool, doncha think? All…” Whatever checkered balls were was lost in yet another yawn.
“It’s a classic design, you heathen!” Dean snapped, insulted by her casual disregard of his favorite game. Apart from poker. Dean liked poker. Especially strip poker. But not with Sam. Never again.
“And don’t you think making the ball that gets to shove around all the other balls white is kinda… racist?”
Dean narrowed his eyes, took a deep breath and got ready to give a very loud and in depth lecture on the beauty that was pool when Sam started giggling his unmanly giggle and Buffy finally cracked and snorted.
Dean deflated. “Bitches,” he snarled.
“Jerk,” Sam countered, grinning from ear to ear.
Buffy just yawned.
Dinner was a mostly silent but comfortable affair and Sam once more marveled at how quickly Buffy had fallen into step with them and they with her. Even with Bobby, the most common companion on their hunts, things were never that effortless, that simple.
Some of it, he figured, certainly had to do with the fact that Buffy was, hands down, the best hunter there was. She had the instinct, the power, the knowledge, everything. Within the first two days after freeing her from the Nightmare, it had become glaringly obvious that she was an equal player. She had their backs and after watching her singlehandedly trash two demons, they trusted in that.
Another part was how they had met, smack in the middle of a crisis, inside of something bigger than all of them. In there, in those dreams, things had been… Sam didn’t have words for it, even now, weeks later. Softer. Closer. Clearer. Looking at Buffy, he hadn’t just been able to tell that she was blonde and small and pretty but also that she was brave and tired and a bit worn around the edges, that she was hard when she wanted to be, tireless and lonely. All those things, just by looking at her. And he knew Dean had seen something similar because his brother never trusted anyone he didn’t share genetic material with completely, and sure as hell not after two weeks. But he trusted Buffy. Trusted her enough to not only share a room with her, but a bed and maybe that had to do with how similar the two were, always mouthing off but scared underneath. Pretending not to care and caring so much it hurt, teasing and loving and reckless and brave, addicted to danger and longing for peace and a few screws short of a set.
Sometimes Sam was sure he was seeing double when they started goofing off about the most random things.
But then, in some things, they were fundamentally different, too. For example, Buffy had table manners.
“Dude,” he admonished, “The thing’s already dead. It’s not gonna run away if you slow down and chew.”
His brother swallowed and pointed at him with a greasy rib, “Shuddup,” he said around his next bite. Buffy mimicked gagging and daintily picked at her fries. “You, too, loony.”
“Hey, I resent that!”
“Well, y’re,” he defended his name calling and took a swig of his beer.
“Am not,” the slayer denied decisively. Just then someone started a new game of pool across the room and at the sound of balls shooting every which way she tilted her head like a curious cat and listened, a funny smile creeping across her face.
“Heard from your sister yet?” He asked, just to shut her up. It had been three days since she’d written Dawn an e-mail and there was no answer as of yet. Her expression dropped for half a second, turning sad, before it returned full blast.
“Nope.” She chirped and giggled until she turned red.
Sam pulled a face and offered a little consoling, “Sorry, but he’s right for once. The lack of sleep is making you kinda… loopy.” At least he wasn’t calling her loony. That had to count for something, right? But the fact remained that she had probably slept less than twenty four hours in the past two weeks and he didn’t care how powerful she was, that kind of thing drove people off cliffs and into wood chippers.
Buffy righted her head and fixed her gaze on the condensation running down the outside of her glass. “Thanks for that,” she said, tonelessly.
Dean flung his half eaten rib back in the basket, wiped his hands on a few napkins and made a hissing sound, biting at his lip. “You gotta sleep sometime, princess.”
“I know that.” She glared at him and Sam, too, once he nodded. He was all for leaving people to deal with their own nightmares on their own time, but he also knew that they needed to depend on Buffy to have their backs as long as they hunted together and they couldn’t do that if she was more asleep than awake.
“Then why don’t you?” Sam asked before Dean could, knowing he’d phrase the question gentler than his older brother.
“I have pieces of dead people inside my head. Do you have any idea how freaky that is?”
Sam shrugged, nodded and said, “Actually, yeah. It sucks. But you have to sleep before you keel over.”
“In the middle of a hunt,” Dean added, glaring.
“I don’t need you two to boss me around.”
“No,” Sam countered quickly, “What you need is to sleep for longer than two hours at a time.”
“No shit, Sherlock. Got any secret recipes hidden away?”
“Actually, yeah.” With that Sam stood and marched over to the bar, keeping up the pretense of anger. Truth was, he was more worried than angry. But Buffy was too stubborn to cave under the pressure of worry. Anger on the other hand would piss her off in turn and that, well, he hoped it was going to work. It had to. Dean had threatened knocking her out and Sam could just imagine how well that was going to go.
Once the bartender turned toward him, he ordered three shots of tequila before looking back at his brother and friend at the table and upping the order to ten. Slayer metabolism and the fact that Dean could never stand to let people drink alone figured into his recalculation. The ‘tender nodded and started setting glasses up on a tray. Sam accepted it a moment later, paid and made his way back.
He set three glasses down in front of his brother, kept only one for himself – someone had to drive – and slammed the other six down in front of the hundred pound slip of a woman glaring mightily at him. Then he dug around his pockets, pulled out a container of painkillers and set four ibuprofen next to the row of glasses.
“That should do the trick,” he commented as he sat back down, putting the tray on the empty seat between them.
“Painkillers and booze?” she asked, mockingly, “Sam, Sam, Sam. That’s nasty business.”
He shrugged. She was right. Mixing pills and liquor was stupid unless you knew what you were doing and even then, it was unhealthy and dangerous. But unhealthy was better than dead and a life time of self-medicating with dangerous injuries had taught him a bit about chemicals. After two weeks of watching Buffy tend her after hunting boo-boos he felt he had a pretty good grip on her metabolism. Which was why he was doping her up like he would his father, who had been about twice her size and three times her weight. Oh well.
“You need sleep.” He pointed at the row of shots, “If this doesn’t work, we got a crowbar in the car.” Then he put on his serious face and waited.
With a sigh, the blonde reached for the first glass, half heartedly clacking it against Dean’s as he held his up, and downing it with a grimace and a comical shudder.
“I really hope I’ll puke all over you,” she informed him and reached for the next shot.
Dean grinned widely and waggled his eyebrows. Sam silently despaired.
An hour later Buffy let herself be steered into their motel room with a giggle. Sam was right. Tequila and painkillers were great
for getting totally wasted out of her mind. Wow. She wasn’t quite as drunk as the boys seemed to think she was but damn, she was sure flying high. Not quite like being drunk, not really high either. It was like someone had simply switched off gravity and left her to drift. She was completely aware but nothing really mattered. If this kept up, she might actually get some sleep.
Dean sat her down on the only bed in the room, kneeling down to pull off her boots for her. Nice. She patted him on the head. “You’re hot,” she told him, because she wanted to.
He flashed her his best noncommittal grin and drawled, “Don’t I know it.”
Sam sighed somewhere in the background. “Don’t encourage him, Buff.”
She smiled at the nickname. Xander had called her that a few times, but he’d stopped after Angelus had adopted the name. She’d flinched at it for a long time, but not from Sam. Sam was good and goofy and geeky, all nice things with a ‘g’, and he only called her that because he liked her. That was good.
She watched Dean fling her shoes aside and took that as her cue to start getting ready for bed. She pulled off her shirt, put her knife on the nightstand and shimmied out of her jeans, leaving her in a tank top and panties. Dean made a low noise at the back of his throat that they all pretended not to hear.
They did that because she was a girl and they were two lonely guys and they slept in one bed and it was better, better to pretend they were all Barbie and Ken dolls because that meant they didn’t have to eventually scream and cry and break up and hate each other. That meant they were safe.
She crawled into the center of the king sized bed and dropped, already feeling sleep pulling at her. Dean joined her a moment later, Sam a minute after that, both of them stretched out on either side of her.
One of them switched off the lights, the other pulled up the sheets and then she was warm with one arm across her waist and a back against her side. Safe in a way she hadn’t felt since long, long before the Nightmare.
The arm, the back, the solid warmth on both sides, were reminders that she was real and not alone. Awake. Alive. Not drowning in other people’s nightmares. Buffy rolled onto her side and threw her own arm around Sam, cuddling close. Dean huffed something about girls and sleepovers but closed the new distance between them quietly.
It wasn’t all about her, Buffy knew, even in her new, nebulous state of being. It was about those two idiots on either side of her, too. There was a wall between them, a wall made of a dead mother and a lost girlfriend, of abandonment and loneliness and stubbornness, an absent drill sergeant father, a deal with the devil and too many old hurts and unspoken things. A wall that seemed impossible to overcome.
But now here she was, right between them, right where the wall was and she lay there along their fault lines, a sort of bridge. Dean wrapped an arm around her and his fingers grazed his brother’s back and Sam smiled in her direction in the dark and accidentally included Dean in his warmth.
They used her to pass on the things they’d never say, made her their go-between for all the unmanly, weak, chick flick things that ate them alive some days.
Buffy didn’t mind. She felt their love, their utter devotion to each other as it passed through her and just that, just feeling it, knowing that there were people in the world that loved each other as much as she loved her sister, more even, was good.
Sam loved Dean and Dean loved Sam and she loved Dawn but Dawn didn’t love her. Not enough to let her go. It made her sad, still, but it was an old ache by now. The Winchesters were more to each other than the Summers’ had ever been and she had no doubt that one would follow the other to hell and back, literally.
And maybe Dawn would write back and things would be a bit okay.
“Night,” Sam finally muttered into the dark and Dean flexed his arm across her waist and sighed happily, something he would deny to the death in daylight.
Buffy just giggled and snuggled down between them, knowing she would sleep without dreaming for once and perfectly okay with the fact that the boys didn’t really need her as much as she needed them.
There's a button that makes me happy. Very much so, actually.