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Buffy’s hands should be shaking as she sits down at the dinner table. She should be weirded out, scared, something. Instead she’s calm. Like she’s been waiting for this her whole life. Like she’s known this was coming, like it was written in her bones even before the slaying thing came into play.
She rubs at her collarbone as the silence seeps into the room.
They picked out the best time to have this talk. Four in the morning is the only time when the Cleveland Slayer House is silent. Two squads of girls are out patrolling and the rest are passed out upstairs. The house is silent, dark, shadowed. The sounds of laughter are done for the day, nobody’s cooking after a post-patrol adrenaline rush, there are no cellphones ringing and there are no stereos overlapping between rooms.
Her coffee is hot in front of her. The steam rises gently above it as she cups her hands around the mug and takes a sip.
She’s the first one down.
She feels like her skin is taut with anticipation, like she knows that something is coming, that she’s been waiting for this since before she was written in the stars. It’s not terror she feels, nothing like fear, merely a whisper of a suggestion at the back of her mind. This is destiny with a big D.
Dawn comes down next, padding softly in her favorite pink bunny slippers and a loose t-shirt over shorts- she looks so young. And yet, and yet- there’s something so ancient in her eyes now, something old and timeless.
“Where’s the Captain Crunch?” Dawn yawns, totally breaking Buffy’s previous illusion.
“In the cupboard,” Buffy rolls her eyes, “with the other twenty boxes of cereal.”
Living in a house with fifteen teenage girls has taught them about the importance of stocking favorite cereals as tantrum prevention.
Dawn sits down across from Buffy, she scoops out a handful of cereal and starts munching on it thoughtfully. “So?” she swallows, “What’d Giles say?” she throws in another handful.
This is the strange part of the conversation. The part where things get a little hazy and a lot weird. It still feels right though.
“Let’s wait for Faith,” Buffy asks, “she should be in on this too.” It feels strange, sitting down in the living room with her sister, alone at four in the morning while what is sure to be the biggest conversation of their lives.
Faith barrels in twenty minutes later, sweaty and wild eyed she practically rips the door off its hinges in her hurry.
“Sorry, sorry- couldn’t lose Ken in time,” she pants as she jogs to the fridge, chugging OJ straight from the carton.
Dawn wrinkles her nose, “Ew. That’s so disgusting Faith.”
Faith pauses in her gluttonous orange juice chugging and holds up a middle finger with a wry smile “Like you’re one to talk.”
It’s true. Dawn’s a nervous eater and she’s managed to almost empty out the Captain Crunch box by this time. In fact, Faith’s words catch Dawn off guard as she holds the box upside down to her mouth in order to catch the last of the cereal crumbs.
“Guh?” she says. A puff of Crunchy cereal escapes her mouth in a cloud.
“Nice going,” Faith grins back at her, smacking her lips from the OJ. “Real smooth.” She lets out a belch.
Dawn just rolls her eyes in response, holding up one lonely looking middle finger.
Buffy wants to laugh. In fact, she kind of wants to hysterically giggle because these people? These people are in fact, what she suspects to be angels in disguise? Come on! When did this become her life?
Faith finally sits down and it’s the three of them at the table.
Buffy begins. She sighs and cracks her neck and begins talking “I gave Giles the names. It took him a couple of hours and a pot of tea, but he got back to me at about ten p.m…” She pauses.
“And?” Dawn leans forward eagerly, big blue eyes gleaming brightly even in the shadows of their half lit kitchen.
“Yeah B, don’t keep the audience waiting,” Faith drawls out lazily, only the rhythmic thumping of her knee against the table giving away her agitation.
Buffy swallows as she comes to the hardest part of the conversation, the part that she’s still
not sure of. “Remiel, Raguel and Ophiel- these are angel names.”
“So,” Faith looks at her warily as she bites her lip, “we’re dreaming about being angels?” She looks like she’s about to break out the Jack.
“Um,” Buffy gives a weak chuckle, “no. According to some of the things we’ve seen, some of the conversations we had-“ she gives Faith a pointed look, because it really figures that out of the three of them, Faith is the one to be BFF’s with the devil, “we actually were
The kitchen is deadly silent before Dawn starts hysterically laughing. “Oh god,” she gasps for breath between all the guffaws, “Faith- an angel! The blasphemy!” She’s laughing so hard, Buffy has to steady her chair before there’s a small little sister shaped hole in the floor.
Faith sounds almost offended as she answers in icy tones, “Hey
! At least I was raised in the Church! When’s the last time you
went to Confession?”
Dawn lifts her head and squints blearily in Faith’s direction, she looks highly amused by the slightly scandalized tone of the Council’s most notorious slayer “When’s the last time you did?”
“That’s neither here nor there,” Faith snipes back at her, crossing her arms with a faintly mutinous expression on her face. She turns to Buffy, “Hey B? When we were angels, who was older? Me or Dawn?”
“Uh,” Buffy scratches the back of her neck, trying for eloquence and failing miserably, “there’s really no such thing as age with angels. It’s more like, their rank is dependent on creation and their duties.” She gives both of them a small, triumphant smile, “I’m learning as I go too, you know. Plus…” Buffy makes a face, “the names are hard enough without learning all the other stuff too.”
Dawn howls with laughter again.
Dean feels despair work its way up his spine. Bone crushing tiredness and a headache that makes it hard for him to see, he’s barely dragging his feet as it is. Sam’s slogging somewhere behind him and normally, normally Dean would be all over that shit, yelling at his little brother to move
faster but now all he can do is just put one foot in front of the other and hope that they end up back in the motel alive and more or less okay.
They somehow do. That’s the Winchester way, trudging on and on in the face of adversity and death and isn’t that the motto that got them into this shit in the first place?
Dean doesn’t know whether he should break down crying or laugh in hysterics until his throat becomes raw and pained and bleeding because he’s had enough
. There’s only so much he can be asked for. He’s only human.
They enter the room one after another, like they can’t bare to walk side by side anymore and maybe that’s true because there are days when Dean can’t even look at his little brother anymore.
“Do you want the shower?” Sam asks in that newly hesitant voice, that tone that scrapes and bleeds at something already pretty broken inside Dean. That voice that says ‘Hey, I picked a demon bitch over you and turns out that she really was playing me. Isn’t that
the most fucked up thing ever? You want to be brothers again?’
“Yeah,” Dean says, because his skin still crawls from that swamp thing and the slime’s probably already set his hair into an unidentifiable shape. “I do.” He goes to his duffle, picking out a clean shirt and boxers and just as he’s about to turn to the washroom, there is a sound, distant and fading like an echoing wing flutter and a thunderclap at the same time.
Castiel stands there, turned towards the door, but still wearing his ever-present holy tax accountant coat. There’s something different about him though, something almost loose and relaxed and his back doesn’t have that same ramrod straightness to it as it usually does.
“Cas?” Sam ventures, still in his ‘soft-as a puppy don’t look at me that way, I didn’t mean
to start the Apocalypse’ way. “Whatsup?”
The best way to describe the expression on the angel’s face, the only
way really- is joy and confusion pulled taut into one ball of feeling.
“I remember them,” Cas says with wonderment coloring his every syllable and his usual monotone gone, exploded into dust and thrown into the air, “I remember them now. The spells must be wearing off or I’ve spent too much time here, away from the Host- but their illusion is breaking… Shattering…” His eyes, a usually eerie blue are cerulean, bright with expression.
“Who?” Dean asks, because having an angel look like a tweaking hippie in the middle of the motel room is freaking him out.
“The three…” Castiel says and even though his voice is still the same growly baritone, the same voice that echoed with the ages of millennia gone past, he also sounds terribly, terribly young all of a sudden.
“Who are the three?” Sam goes to the root of the matter, ever the researcher even in the middle of the End of Days.
“The ones that left before Gabriel did, the ones that hid and waited,” Castiel says and his eyes flash fire as they alight on Dean’s waiting posture, “the ones that are going to help us stop the apocalypse.”
The letters in front of her are blurry, almost faded into one long line when the knock comes.
Buffy almost barrels over the kitchen table in her hurry to see who’s there, because let’s face it, after getting over the hysterical laughter from Dawn and the weirdly religious judging from Faith- there was nothing left to do but seriously investigate the possibility of them being some sort of angelic beings in disguise.
Faith has long ago wandered into the house, saying something over her shoulder about finding more books, probably gone to sleep the minute she was sight of sight, sneaky woman.
Dawn is engrossed in the Sumerian, elbow deep in books and wearing that oddly spaced out expression on her face that says that Dawnie’s not home now, try back after the really old books have been devoured.
So Buffy says airily, “I’ll see who it is” and gets up to check, because Willow’s wards are the strongest in the hemisphere and only the people that are supposed to be there can cross the perimeter. So it’s probably a slayer, finishing up on an early patrol without a key. Cleveland House has just the three of them for Senior Staff at the moment and the earliest rotational replacement coming is Xander next Tuesday.
It’s not a slayer that Buffy opens the door to, it’s a short brunette man with a smirk the size of Texas and trouble dancing in his eyes. He breathes power
, like heat and the desert and a world too layered for time to really impact.
“Hey little sis,” he says with a smile “it’s been too long,” and Buffy desperately, recklessly wants a weapon of some kind, because he looks normal and sounds like a dick but standing across from him is like standing on top of the sun, bright and burning and heavy and her soul feels like it’s about to burn into oblivion.