disclaimer: These characters are not mine; they belong to Joss Whedon and Eric Kripke.
spoilers: season 5 of SPN and season 7 of BtVS
notes: This was supposed to be a one-shot for mynorthwind. I think it has turned into an actual fic of 5-10 parts. I guess I was in a mini-epic mood when I started it.
She had been trying to find Anya’s spirit.
Instead Willow had found someone infinitely more complicated. And now as he stood in front of the house his brother currently stayed in, Willow could see the pain. It had been a journey, and something dark had been left behind. Like her, he had been touched by darkness, and like her, he had made a choice to embrace it at one time. He wasn’t choosing that now, but the temptation to go back would always be great from here on out. Like a drug addict. Willow understood that rather well. It was one of the reasons she could bear to leave Sam to himself like he wanted her to.
“Sam,” Willow said, walking up next to him under the burnt out street lamp that Willow was pretty sure Sam had doused. “We should go.”
He’d made the decision to walk away and let his brother have his life here. The problem was said brother looked lost. Even Willow, who knew nothing of Dean Winchester, saw that he was lost. He was drinking scotch with his dinner for christsakes.
Sam was just as lost. He’d had the devil inside him. Literally. It left a stain. Willow knew how that could be. She had leftovers as well, but she controlled them. Sam could too. She had pulled him out of hell - accidentally. The least she could do was help him cope with the effects of that. He did not want her to, but they always had that argument. Willow had told him many, many times that it was just too damn bad for him. She was sticking with him through this. She felt responsible for him.
They’d been there for years in hell time. Willow had come to care for him. She had passed him often in her searches for those lost. Then one day apparently something within her just couldn’t leave him there. She had unconsciously returned with Sam. She had not even meant to.
Willow had the strength, surprisingly, to rip Sam out without even trying. She still was not exactly certain how she had done such a thing or why it had happened. She had pulled his body and soul free of the fire and left Lucifer behind. Sure, at the time she didn’t know exactly who she had left. Sam had filled that in later. It still made her nervous to think upon it. She had, in essence, defeated the devil.
“I know,” he replied.
He knew time travelled differently in hell, but it still amazed him how little time had passed here. It had only been a few months. Dean had kept his promise. Sam had known he would find his brother in Cicero, Indiana with Lisa and Ben. Dean looked a bit distracted, but content. Sure, perhaps he was drinking a little too much, but Dean had always drank a little bit. It went with the job.
Still, his brother looked like he was settling. Sam was not sure if that bothered him or not. He didn’t want Dean contented – he wanted him happy. Dean was not happy. Even though he was here with Lisa and little Ben, his brother was not happy. Maybe he didn’t want the white picket fence life as much as he had once thought he did.
For a long time Sam had not believed Willow when she said Dean had not sent her; that she did not even know who Dean was. Sam had made him promise, and there was a part of Sam that was surprised when Dean had kept his promise. He would not have.
When Dean looked up suddenly and out the window right at Sam and Willow, Sam panicked. Willow squealed as she was shoved out of the sight line and into a tree. Sam pressed against her, and she inhaled despite her best efforts not to. He smelled like fricking brimstone, and she loved that about him. She knew she was only attracted to him because he’d been evil. Willow was determined not to use him like that. There was also the added fact that he was simply not in any shape to be in any sort of coupling or relationship right now.
Sam’s heart was pounding. They had not been standing in the light, but he had felt Dean look right in his eyes. He was not ready to see Dean. Not yet. The he realized he was probably squishing Willow against a tree, and she likely couldn’t breathe with the way he was pressed into her.
“Oh. I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I just-“
Dean was walking out of the front door with a scowl and a flashlight. Sam, once again, panicked. He grabbed Willow’s hand and started running.
“Who’s out there?”
Sam could hear Dean running after them. He moved faster, but Willow was a good foot shorter than him. Her legs would not allow her to keep pace.
“Come back here, you sons of bitches!”
Willow yelped when she stumbled and fell into the grass of a lawn they had been cutting across. Only moments later she was grabbed. This time Willow shouted in alarm. Energy crackled along her hands in her panic.
“Son of a bitch!”
Willow was released and she felt more than saw her attacker jump back.
“What the fuck?”
Willow wasn’t certain the ‘don’t’ shouted from Sam was for her or Dean. As she rolled onto her back and propped herself up on her elbows, she got her first up close look at Dean Winchester, and he was pointing a gun at her.
“You’re right, Sam, his impulse is to shoot first, isn’t it?”
Willow was glad she managed to keep the tremble out of her voice. She didn’t like having guns pointed at her. It made her nervous. Bullets in general made her a little nervous. Especially considering what she had once done with one.
“Who are you two? What are you doing here?”
“Dean, it’s me,” Sam said.
Dean looked unconvinced.
“I’m Willow. I sort of accidentally pulled your brother out of hell. Surprise.”
“Not possible,” Dean snapped, still pointing the gun.
“I would have thought so too, but I can do a lot of things that aren’t possible. Like re-soul a vampire. Twice, actually, and take the essence of a vampire slayer from a weapon and release it to all slayers to help defeat the First, which is like mega evil. Um, can you point that elsewhere? It gives me the bad belly rumblins.”
Dean was blinking at her. Sam could tell he was debating internally. Like they had once thought vampires were a myth and extinct – they thought the slayer story was sort of a boogeyman for the boogeyman story, something to scare demons a little. Actually meeting one had changed that for Sam.
“Dean, it’s me. Seriously, and don’t shoot Willow unless you want a seriously pissed off witch on your hands.”
Dean put the gun in the back of his jeans and glared at Sam. “You’re dead. I saw you fall into hell.”
“You came back from hell.”
Dean was just glaring.
“Do you want me to prove I’m Sam?” Sam asked.
“Yeah, actually,” Dean snapped. “That’d be just great. Only how you going to do that, smart guy? If you’re a shapeshifter, you have all of Sam’s memories.”
“I’m not a freaking shifter. Cut me with some silver if you don’t believe that. How would I know that if I wasn’t Sam?”
“Anybody could know that, and what if you’re still Lucifer? Or he’s still in there or something?”
“Oh, we left him in hell,” Willow added, causing Dean to glare at her.
“And Sam wouldn’t hook up with a witch.”
“Not all witches are bad, you know. Hello, Glenda.” Willow blushed. “And we aren’t together. I’m all gay and stuff. Well, I’m actually bisexual, so it could possibly happen, but it won’t. Not that your brother isn’t cute, but he’s all broken from his hell time, and I’m still recovering from my last break-up. So we’re just friends. And not the friends with benefits friends. Friends only friends.”
Sam looked at her. “He didn’t mean it like that.”
“Oh.” Willow went even more red in the face. “Right.”
Dean looked at Sam suspiciously. “She pulled you out of hell? Her?”
“On accident,” Willow added.
“On accident,” Dean repeated, still looking like he didn’t believe it at all. “All right, if you’re really Sam, what are you scared of?”
“Sam doesn’t like a certain thing, so-“
Willow looked up at Sam. “You’re scared of clowns?”
About that time a frog or toad somewhere close by croaked. Willow squealed and was up on her feet in an instant, causing Dean to point the gun again, but she ran at Sam and climbed up on his back, getting herself completely off the ground.
“Oh where is it, where is it?”
“Oooooo, I hate frogs. Hate them.”
Sam chuckled. “Not another word about the clowns then.”
The frog or toad croaked again and Willow shivered.
Dean scowled. “All right, so what’s-“
“Dean!” Sam snapped. “Seriously? I didn’t do this to you when you came back from hell. You think you’d be happy to see me. Quit being such a jerk.”
It was silent for a moment.
Dean glared. “Bitch.”
The both brothers lunged into a hug, which happened to include Willow since she was still on Sam’s back.
“Aww, you guys.”
Dean moved back awkwardly and glared at Willow. “So it’s a witch this time instead of a demon?”
“It’s not like that, Dean,” Sam said.
But the truth was he didn’t know what it was like. Willow, in essence, took care of him. She was always there helping him. When he had nightmares, she was the one who soothed him. He cared about her. He had thought he was hallucinating in hell when she had approached him and spoke. Her hands on him had been so soothing. They had instantly calmed the torment within him.
“Dean?” Lisa was calling.
“Come in the house,” Dean said.
Sam could feel his brother eyeballing him because Sam didn’t set Willow down. He just carried her on his back until they got to Lisa’s porch. Then he set her on her feet. The way Dean was looking at him, Sam knew that there would be questions later about if he was sure it ‘wasn’t like that’ with them.
“Sam?” Lisa looked confused. “But I thought-“
“It’s a long story,” Dean said. “I’m going to put Sam and his friend Willow in the guest room, if that’s all right.”
“Of course. I’ll get some extra blankets.”
Ben was standing in the hall with his arms folded across his chest. “I thought he was dead.”
“Hi to you too, Ben,” Sam said.
“Who’s the redhead?”
“I’m Willow,” she replied.
Ben smirked at Willow. “Hey, pretty lady.”
“Benjamin Isaac Braeden,” Lisa said. “Wash up and get ready for bed.”
He grumbled all the way up the stairs.
“He’s adorable,” Willow said, and then looked at Dean. “I never pictured you as the dad sort, though.”
Willow cocked her head to the side. “But… he is. Your aura and his, they have commonality. I-“
Lisa shook her head no slightly, and Willow picked up on it. She walked Lisa’s mind slightly. Ben was Dean’s. Lisa didn’t want Dean to feel obligated. She knew what he did for a living and how important it was. She had not wanted him to feel tied down. She had said the blood test lie aloud to herself enough times to make it believable when she had said it to Dean. Eight years was enough practice to have it be convincing.
Unfortunately for Lisa, Sam had picked up on the nod as well. He did not have to go into Lisa’s mind like Willow to put it all together. He had a nephew.
“I, um, was mistaken. Sorry. He’s like a little you,” Willow said, hastily covering. “I just assumed.”
She would try to speak with Lisa later. She did not know Dean, but she did know Sam. Sam would want to know he had more family.
“Guest room’s upstairs,” Lisa said. “There’s only one bed, so-“
“Willow can have the bed,” Sam said. “I need to talk to Dean.”
Willow put a hand on Sam’s arm and gave him a comforting squeeze. She’d be waiting. She followed Lisa upstairs. They made a pit stop at the linen closet. When they were away from the brothers and in the guest room, Lisa turned to Willow with her arms full of bedding.
“How did you-“
“Know? Auras don’t lie unless you know how to fake it, and I’m guessing Ben doesn’t. I’m a witch, and I see into the heart of things. I know I don’t know you or anything, but if you want my advice, tell Dean the truth. He can handle it.”
Lisa handed willow the bedding forcefully. “You’re right. You don’t know me. Thank you for not telling Dean Ben is his son, but I don’t need your advice about Dean.”
Lisa spun on her heel and left. Willow sighed and looked at the full size bed; then she sighed again. At least if Sam had another nightmare she’d be right here for him. She felt bad about Lisa, though. Willow had not meant to upset her. She had just been trying to help.
“How to make friends and influence people, by Willow Rosenberg,” she muttered to herself.
Downstairs Dean was just staring at Sam.
“I sort of figured you’d be here with Lisa and Ben,” Sam said finally, tired of the oppressive silence swirling in the air around them.
“What about you? All that nervous babbling side, your redhead is kind of hot, Sammy. I thought you went in for blondes. Then again, it’s been all brunettes for the last few years, so…”
“Willow’s a blonde when she uses white magic.”
“And bisexual? That’s hot. You think she’ll ever bring another girl to bed or does she just like you ‘cause you’re a princess?”
“I said it wasn’t like that with us, jerk.”
Dean smirked. “And I call ‘em like I see ‘em, bitch. That chick is into you, and you’re into her. She isn’t evil? Because I know how you dig on the bad girls.”
“Dean…” Sam began, a serious look on his face.
“Well,” Dean said. “We almost lasted a minute with the awkward small talk before you decided things needed to get serious. Must be a record for us.”
It was silent again as Sam looked down at his hands.
“How long you been back, Sammy?”
“Couple of months for you, longer for me.”
“Yeah, that hell time is a bitch,” Dean said.
“I would have…. I’d have come sooner, but I was… messed up.”
“That Willow chick helped you?”
“She did… does. She’s been to a dark place too, Dean. She beat it. She’s going to teach me how. I can’t explain it, but I trust her.”
“You sure that’s the only thing she wants to teach you?”
Sam looked up abruptly. Dean was wiggling his eyebrows at his brother. Sam laughed then it choked into a cry.
“Hey, Sam, man… don’t.”
Dean stood and pulled Sam up again into a hug, clapping him on the back several times.
“I know. It’s hard, but you’re back. I’ll help you, man. Whatever you need. You and your Willow can stay as long as you need to. We’ll figure this out. Maybe you should get some sleep. We’ll talk more in the morning.”Your Willow
“You’re going to call Bobby, right?” Sam said as he leaned back to look at Dean.
“How did you know Bobby was alive?”
“I checked. Or Willow did. She’s a better hacker than I am.”
Dean grinned at Sam. “Yeah, you can probably expect him to be waiting for you when you come down for breakfast tomorrow.”
“What about Cas?” Sam asked.
“Bastard’s up in heaven corralling. Don’t even know how to get a hold of him these days. Now, you go upstairs and enjoy that full size bed,” Dean said with a wink and a light punch to Sam’s shoulder.
“I actually missed you,” Sam replied seriously.
“Of course you did. I’m an awesome big brother.”
Sam laughed a hollow laugh and headed up the stairs. He missed Dean sinking back to the couch, emotionally drained. After several minutes, Dean sat back up, wiped his watery eyes and pulled out his cell.
“Bobby? You are never going to believe this, man, but Sam’s here.”
There was a moment of silence while Dean listened.
“Yes, I’m sure it’s Sam, and don’t call me an idget. I didn’t do anything this time. How soon can you get here?”