Don't Look Back
Take the Long Way Home
Notes: As promised, this is the sequel to Grand Canyon. It's not absolutely necessary to read that first to follow the story, but hope you will. I'm including an unusually long note this time because I want to make sure and catch everyone up on the timeline and give *spoiler warnings*. If you haven't seen all of s6 of Supernatural and you don't want to be spoiled, stop reading now. I intend to finish out s6 in my crossover universe, but I will still be using some of the major plot points from the show. This story will contain Buffy/Dean and possibly some other pairings, however, the main focus will be on their romance (yay!).
Timeline: In the Buffy universe, we are approximately 2 yrs post s7. Buffy is in her mid-twenties and Dawn is 18 and just starting college. In the Supernatural universe, we are still in s6. Grand Canyon took place shortly after episode 6.14 – Mannequin 3: The Reckoning. This story will skip ahead a couple of months and pick up after episode 6.17 – My Heart Will Go On. So, at this point, the guys really don't know much more about 'The Mother of All' than they did in the last story. They are also not hip to anything having to do with Cas and the souls.
Disclaimers & Credits: I don't own any of the characters and don't expect to make any money from this story. I am only writing this for my entertainment (and hopefully yours). Buffy and her universe belong to Joss Whedon and Supernatural belongs to Eric Kripke. The main title for the story: 'Take the Long Way Home' is a song by Supertramp (Breakfast in America, 1984). The chapter title 'Don't Look Back' is a Boston song from the album of the same name (1978).
That oughta do it, I'll stop rambling now. This chapter is mostly about setting the stage for things to come, so there's not a great deal of action. Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys. Reviews are very much appreciated. If you feel like one of the characters is acting 'out of character' please let me know.Chapter 1: Don't Look Back
Sam sat at a cluttered table in front of his laptop. He'd barely managed to clear out a spot that was free from dusty old books and empty beer bottles. A few feet away, Bobby lay snoring on his couch. He'd finally passed out after days of little sleep, heavy research, and even heavier drinking (none of which had increased their knowledge of the Mother
). Essentially, the only new thing they'd learned was that 'The Mother of All' sometimes went by 'Eve' (at least that was less of a mouthful). Sam was just happy to see that Bobby was finally sleeping, alcohol induced or not. His friend had been in bad shape since killing Rufus while possessed by Eve's newest baby, or as Dean called it, the 'Kahn Worm'. Sam had actually kept the deceased, slug-like creature by preserving it in a mason jar filled with rubbing alcohol. Both Bobby and Dean had been in favor of burning it, but Sam had insisted on holding on to it. It was, he felt, the only solid link they had to their enemy.
Sam was currently surfing the net, half-heartedly, looking for anything he may have missed in his previous ten-thousand Google searches. His mind kept drifting back to the alternate reality in which Ellen and Jo were alive. Bobby had actually been married to Ellen in that reality. That Bobby
had still been drunk and ill-tempered, but he'd also possessed a sense of hope and happiness that was absent in the Bobby he knew. A small part of him wished that Cas had erased his memories of that world, the way it had been erased from the minds of everyone but himself and his brother. It was painful to see someone he loved so lonely and broken, and to know that one seemingly unrelated change in history could've made things very different. If given the choice, however, Sam would still hold onto that memory. He'd had enough of missing memories, painful or not.
The year he'd run around soulless was still, for the most part, an unknown. The few memories he'd managed to regain had caused him to collapse in something resembling a severe seizure. The real danger came not in recalling what his soulless body had done during that year, but in remembering what his missing soul had endured while locked in the pit with Lucifer. Apparently, he couldn't regain one set of memories without getting the other. So, he'd stopped trying to remember that time (at least for now). Their lives were too hectic for him to risk a complete breakdown. Dean needed him and Sam was determined not to let him down.
There was, however, a more recent missing memory that had been on his mind a lot in the past few days. The night he and Dean had left the Grand Canyon was largely a blur. He remembered waking up in the car (very sore, stiff, and disoriented) after his brother had pulled into a seedy roadside motel somewhere off of U.S. Highway 54 in Oklahoma. It was morning; Dean had driven all night through Arizona, New Mexico, and a small part of the northern tip of Texas. His brother was tired and, as usual, not in the mood for lengthy explanations. Sam had gathered that they were less than halfway through a thirty-two hour drive to Pittsburgh, PA and that they were going there to help Bobby and Rufus put down a horde of zombies. Sam did vaguely remember having a phone conversation with Bobby about zombies the night before, but other than that and a few random flashes, he had very little memory of anything that had happened after leaving the parking lot of the Mexican restaurant where he, Dean, Buffy, and Dawn had been thrown out for fighting. His brother had offered very few details about anything that had happened afterwards. In fact, Dean seemed prepared to go to any lengths to avoid the entire subject.
The two months since they'd left the Grand Canyon had been rough ones for both of them. The frequency of supernatural occurrences had increased, leaving them with very little down time between all the hunting and researching. Dean had been spending the majority of his free time drinking and womanizing, although neither of those pursuits seemed to bring him much happiness. Sam hadn't seen his brother on a binge like this since the year he made his crossroads deal. But in spite of Dean's recent behavior, he did know that his brother had not forgotten the Slayer, Buffy Summers.
During their last night in Arizona Sam had used his cell to take a photo of his brother. He'd intended it to be a blackmail shot. At the time, Dean had a girl-drink in his hand and whipped cream all over his nose. Sam had managed to snap the photo just as his brother had blinked and opened his mouth to speak. It was literally one of the most hilarious pictures he'd ever seen. Buffy had been caught in the shot as well, but her photo was excellent. She was looking at Dean with her head slightly turned and had a bright smile on her face (the girl was highly photogenic). Several days after they'd cleared up the mess in Pittsburgh, Sam noticed that a pix message had been sent from his phone to his brother's. He knew he hadn't sent it and he also knew that often when Dean appeared to be checking his phone for messages, he was actually looking at that photograph. Dean also spent a great deal of 'research time' looking into Slayer lore and reading the Cleveland Sun-Times online (big bro had never learned to properly erase his browser history). Sam hadn't mentioned his knowledge of any of these things. Even though they both enjoyed razzing one another, this subject seemed to veer out of the land of brotherly hazing and into the territory of unnecessary cruelty. Something had happened that night in Arizona to render this subject taboo; Sam just wished he remembered what it was. Luckily, he'd just realized that he did have a way of retrieving those memories. His plan had one huge bonus as well; it didn't involve the impossible task of trying to get his brother to open up.
Shortly after leaving the Canyon, Sam had been doing his laundry and found a slip of paper with Dawn Summer's phone number written on it. The Winchesters were in the habit of checking their pockets before tossing anything into the wash. Hard experience had taught them that certain items (such as a marker used to draw a devil's trap) were likely to ruin the few clothes they had. He had put the slip of paper in his wallet, reasoning that it may come in handy in the future. Since then, he'd pretty much forgotten about it amidst the chaos that made up their daily lives. But today, he decided he was going to use that number to fill in some gaps. His brother was currently away, having left to get them something to eat that wasn't frozen pizza or canned ravioli. He wouldn't be back for, at least, another half-hour, which left Sam with plenty of time to make the call.
Dawn was enjoying her first few weeks of college. She was a little homesick (something she'd never admit to Buffy), but she was also reveling in all of the new experiences. She was free from her overprotective sister and living off of a Hellmouth for the first time since she was very young. The lack of frequent vampire sightings actually took some getting used to, but she was up to challenge.
She'd lucked out and gotten a good roommate. Her name was Alexandria, but she went by Alex. She had grown up in a town only about an hour away from campus, which meant she already knew a few people. A big bonus was the fact that Alex had a car, something Buffy was going to make Dawn wait until the next year to get. Her roommate was pretty, likeable, and easy going (although Dawn had to admit that her East Tennessee accent took some getting used to). She quickly discovered that having a roommate with connections had its advantages, especially after getting to tag along to a beginning-of-semester frat party that Alex had been invited to. Dawn had met a very cute guy there and they'd already gone out a couple of times. He was a junior and, so far, they were hitting it off really well. Dawn was almost entirely convinced that neither he nor his fraternity brothers were involved in any type of demon worshipping cult.
Despite all the fun she was having, Dawn did feel guilty about leaving Cleveland behind. The last few months had been extremely stressful for everyone. Between the large increase in bad things that want to eat you and all the drama involved in dealing with two dozen very powerful teenagers (a few of whom were serious bitches), life in Cleveland had sucked pretty hard. Because of these things, she'd offered to stay behind a semester and commute to a nearby college. However, Buffy had insisted that she go as planned, telling her that she'd never leave if she waited for a time when there nothing apocalypt-y on the horizon. She knew it had been extremely hard for her sister to let her go, but, to her credit, Buffy had maintained her composure well. Amazingly enough, Dawn had been able to live her life without constant interference. Of course, her sister did call frequently and had insisted that Dawn always wear her new silver cross necklace (even in the shower). Willow had also made sure that she was well stocked with protection charms and hex bags. The witch had perfected her recipe for fresh-smelling hex bags to the point that Dawn was actually able to pretend that they were simply potpourri, which helped her to avoid a lot of uncomfortable questions from her roommate.
Overall, Dawn had to say she was a happy person. Her classes weren't too terrible, her social life was promising, and she was currently getting ready to go meet up with her new love interest. Lots of goodness all around. Her most immediate worry was finding the right pair of shoes to go with the outfit she planned to wear.
Dawn was putting the finishing touches on her makeup when her cell phone went off. She didn't recognize the number, but there was something familiar about the area code so she went ahead and answered.
"Hi, Dawn," a familiar male voice replied. "This is Sam, Sam Winchester, we met a few months back at the Grand Canyon. How are you?"
"Sam!" she exclaimed, "Wow, it's been a while. How are you?
"I'm okay. Listen, I hope this isn't a bad time. I really need to talk to you about something if you've got a few minutes."
"Sure," Dawn replied, her curiosity peaked. "What's up?"
"Um, well, it's kind of awkward," Sam began hesitantly. "I was hoping you could tell me what happened that night after I took those painkillers." He paused for a moment adding, "I really hope I didn't get out of line."
You don't remember? Well, I guess that explains why you never called after you ravished me on the hood of Buffy's car that night. I knew you were trashed, but I didn't think it was possible to forget that
. I'm not entirely sure all of it was legal."
Dawn let Sam stew in uncomfortable silence for a moment or two before letting him off the hook. "I'm only messing with you," she teased. "Nothing happened. You were pretty goofy, but you didn't do anything bad. Promise."
"You really had me going," Sam replied, still sounding stunned.
"I know. It's a gift. So, what brought this up all of a sudden? All that happened over two months ago."
"I don't know. I was just thinking about some things… Like how sometimes insignificant events can change the world."
"Okay, that's deep," Dawn replied with a giggle. "But you don't have to worry, there was no world changing. I won't be popping out a little Sam in seven months or anything."
"Believe me, you really lucked out there," Sam stated half-jokingly. "Anyway," he continued uncertainly, "I was kinda hoping you could tell me what happened between Dean and your sister."
Dawn was a little surprised at this turn in the conversation. "Really?" she asked curiously. "Dean didn't tell you anything?"
"Dean doesn't tell anybody anything."
"Well, I'm not really sure what you want to know… Do you remember Willow?"
"A little," Sam admitted. "She had red hair I think. Dean said she was a witch… I believe he meant that literally."
"Yes," Dawn laughed, "she's a witch, a super powerful one too. So I guess you don't know about her apparating, I mean teleporting, into Buffy's room that night?"
"No, that's news to me."
"She popped-in at a very
bad time," Dawn explained in a conspiratorial tone. "From what I gathered, they weren't in the act
, but they were definitely on the way. I'm surprised Buffy didn't spontaneously combust."
"No shit. Willow was so wigged, she hasn't teleported since and she loves
to teleport. So yeah, that's the big news," Dawn added. "I guess Dean was too embarrassed to tell you."
"That would suck," Sam stated, pausing for a moment to gather his thoughts. (Yes, that would suck, but it didn't quite explain his brother's behavior.)
"So, do you guys know anything useful about that 'Mother' thing yet?" Dawn asked, after it seemed Sam didn't have anything else to say.
"How do you know about her?" he asked in surprise.
"Wow! You really
don't remember anything do you? That was the major topic of conversation that night. You know, how everything's all loony tunes because of her. Anyway, we agreed to give each other the 411. Buffy even gave your brother her dorky little business card."
Sam had no idea that Dean even had Buffy's contact info. "I'm totally lost," he admitted. "But, truth is, it's safe to say that we don't know anything useful."
"I hear ya. All we've been able to find out is that she's definitely of the bad."
"Dawn, is there anything else you can tell me that might explain why my brother… Well, he just acts weird about the whole subject.
Did something else happen? Did I
"He did get kinda aggravated with you before you guys left," Dawn said thoughtfully. "No major fight or anything. It's just… well, you were kind of being a whiny drunk there at the end."
"Whiny? Wow, that's horribly embarrassing," he replied with an uncomfortable laugh. "What did I say?"
"You were going on about how everybody hates you guys… especially you
"Please tell me you're kidding again," Sam interrupted with a groan.
"Nope, sorry. After that, you started telling Buffy something about Dean going somewhere or… maybe doing something a few years ago. I can't remember exactly what you said, but he yelled at you to shut up. He up and bailed shortly after that." Dawn paused for a moment before continuing hesitantly, "Buffy was hurt. She thought Dean was pissed about Willow showing up and… uh… about me getting you all messed up. Anyway, it wouldn't be the first time. A lot of guys can't deal with all the freakiness that surrounds her."
Sam laughed a little (he couldn't help it). The idea that Dean could be that easily freaked was pretty absurd. Dammit, he thought, it was me! After all the pep talks he'd been giving his brother about not letting their past hold them back, he'd gotten trashed and brought up that very subject right in front of the woman Dean was so interested in. No wonder he bailed, he'd panicked. It was obvious… basic Dean 101.
"That wasn't your fault," Sam assured her. "I should've known better than to mix narcotics and alcohol. I've seen Dean do it and it's not a pretty sight. Anyway, what exactly did I say about my brother?"
"Like I said, I can't really remember. Whatever it was, you didn't get to finish… and I guess you're
not going to tell me, are you?"
"I don't know what
to tell you," Sam lied. "That's why I was asking. Listen Dawn," he added in a rushed and distracted tone, "I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me. I have to go now, but I do hope things are going well for you at school."
"They're going great," Dawn replied, sounding a little confused. She was damn curious about the deep secrets the Winchesters were obviously hiding, but she wasn't going to push, because she had about five minutes before she had to leave to meet her date. "Well, bye Sam. It was nice to talk to you," she added sincerely.
"So what's the plan?" Dean asked his brother around a bite full of cheeseburger. "You find us a new hunt?"
Sam, who was still sitting in front of his laptop as he picked at his chef salad, shrugged noncommittally. He had a plan, but he wasn't sure how best to approach it. He'd finally found a use for the Kahn Worm (apparently he had kept it for a reason).
"I was thinking we'd go to Cleveland," he finally said. "Take that worm thing… maybe Buffy and her people could make something of it. The Slayer's Council probably has a lot of resources we don't. They could study it."
The expression on Dean's face was unreadable. He stared at his brother silently for a moment before speaking.
"That's stupid, Sam," he scoffed. "It's a giant, dead slug. Buffy doesn't have time for crap like that. I don't know why you even kept the nasty thing to begin with."
"It couldn't hurt," Sam argued. "Seriously, if she doesn't think it's worth a look, she can tell us. Dude, we can't afford to drop any leads right now… seeing as how we don't have any leads right now."
"I'm sure there are plenty of hunts we could go on," his brother countered. "Cleveland is at least eighteen hours away. That's a lot of time to waste on a maybe."
"Then call Buffy and ask her."
"Sam, I told you, it's a stupid waste of time," Dean replied a little gruffly.
"Then I'll go," Sam said, trying to keep his tone casual. "I'm sure Bobby will let me borrow one of the junkers around here. That way, you two can keep hunting until I get back."
"No," Dean stated firmly.
"Why not? Are you afraid I'm gonna make a move on her? I don't see why you'd care if I did, you haven't shown any interest in talking to her."
Sam knew he had his brother where he wanted him when he slammed down his burger and his eyes flashed angrily.
"So is that it? You wanna get laid?"
"It's been a while," Sam stated with a shrug, noting that Dean seriously looked like he wanted to hit him.
"Then find some chick in a bar!" Dean growled. "Buffy doesn't need our bullshit. She has a job to do. The last thing she deserves is to catch a giant dose of Winchester luck. So, stay the hell away from her," he warned icily.
"Just what I thought," Sam replied calmly. "You're scared of her."
"That's ridiculous. I'm not scared
of her. Yeah sure, the girl can kick my ass, but when has that ever made a difference?"
"Not what I'm talking about Dean and you know it."
"I have no idea
what you're talking about," Dean snapped. "You're not making any sense."
"Fine Dean," Sam replied, in the same calm tone, "but, I'm going to Cleveland. It's our only lead and I'm not letting it drop just because you
can't face a girl. You can either go with me or stay here. I don't care."
"Okay Sam," Dean agreed tightly, "we'll go to Cleveland. I'll face big, scary Buffy and then maybe you can let go of these delusions of yours and get your mind back on the job."
"Whatever," Sam replied, trying not to smile, "but one of us needs to call her and let her know we're coming. I can do it if you're scared, you'll just have to give me her number."
Buffy was catching up on some very important paperwork (at least that was her cover story). In reality, she was hiding out in her office playing Plants vs. Zombies on her PC. Andrew had turned her onto it a few weeks before and she was addicted. It provided a nice, mindless distraction from her life. Besides, the zombies were actually kind of cute in an ugly sort of way.
She was tired, so extremely tired. That was the one thing the voices in her poor overworked brain could agree on these days. She had spent most of the previous night clearing out a nest of Hobo Demons (at least that's what their name sounded like to her). Judging from their living arrangements, 'hobo' was a pretty accurate term for them. It seemed that almost every night brought some new and different badness, so at least there was variety. Giles had been trying to get her to take a night off and get some rest, but she found that she'd rather keep working. Her job, at least the slaying part of it, was something she understood. If she let herself have too much free time, she tended to get broody and Broody-Buffy was no fun for anyone.
Buffy had blessings and she should be counting them. Things had looked much grimmer in the past. She wasn't the only Slayer anymore, she had help. Granted, in some instances that help was in the form of an uber-brat named Carrie and her hormonal band of minions, but it was still help. There were other positives too. She and Willow, for instance, had gotten really close again. That was a big 'yay'. Sometimes it seemed like they were back in high school. After Willow had brought her back, there had been a lot of resentment on both sides. Between her depression and Will's descent into dark magic, their relationship became extremely strained. And then there was Kennedy, who did anything and everything she could to drive a deeper wedge between them. She and Willow had broken up the year before and Kennedy had gone to Scotland to lord it over the Slayers there. Buffy tried to be gracious, but she couldn't have been happier. For one thing, she never felt they were right for each other, mainly because - in her completely unbiased opinion - Kennedy was secretly a hell-bitch, sent to suck the happiness from the world. Needless to say, Willow could do much better.
To be honest, the reason she got mopey when she had too much down time was loneliness. Dawn was gone now and she was living by herself for the first time ever. Even though she and Dawn had bickered constantly, she missed her terribly. She wished Willow could live with her, but she was rooming with Andrew, who had moved in after Kennedy left. Buffy really did love Andrew, but she didn't think she could take living under the same roof with him.
She realized she had been lonely for a quite a while actually, but meeting Dean Winchester had made her loneliness more obvious to her. She felt pretty silly about it truthfully. After all, she had only known him for a day. It was just that it had been so long since she'd imagined sharing her life with a man. She'd nearly forgotten what that feeling was like. The thing that made Buffy feel even more foolish was the highly pathetic secret that, thankfully, only Willow knew about. She had kept Dean's t-shirt, the one he'd used to patch up her wound that day at the Grand Canyon. The only reason Willow knew was because Buffy had asked her to do a spell to remove all of the blood and bug guts (Tide simply wasn't up to the job). It was just a plain gray T, with a rip in one of the side seams, which probably also came from their adventure in the Canyon. She slept in it a lot since it was big enough on her to double as a nightgown. The idea of being close to him was comforting. However, by this point, she was beginning to give up hope of ever seeing or hearing from him again. It had been two months and he still hadn't called. She'd been tempted to call him herself, but always chickened out. The only way she would call would be if they came up with some actual useable information regarding 'Mommy'.
After returning from vacation, she'd spent the first few weeks pressing Giles for information on this new threat. In all honesty, she mainly just wanted an excuse to call Dean. She found that her efforts inevitably caused Giles to go into a ramble about the 'many valuable and irreplaceable books' that were lost during the destruction of Sunnydale High, the explosion at the old Watcher's headquarters, and the final complete implosion of Sunnydale itself. Once, Willow had been around and the two had gotten into an argument about making offsite, digital records of all of their remaining rare books on the occult. Giles found the idea 'unwise and distasteful', although Buffy felt that had more to do with his aversion to technology than anything. In any case, she had quit pestering the man because it only made him agitated. If he found out anything, she knew he would tell her immediately anyway.
"Shoot!" she exclaimed aloud, banging a fist on her desk. All of this thinking had distracted her, allowing the zombies to break through her line of peashooters and now she didn't have enough sunflowers to buy more. She may as well just quit. She needed to see what the girls were up to anyway. Unfortunately, rather than brooding, many of them seemed to spend their free time gossiping (which Buffy never
did), backbiting, and plotting ways to sneak out and get into trouble. Surely, she hadn't been this obnoxious as a teen. With a deep sigh and an internal recitation of the Serenity Prayer, she rose from her seat and prepared to jump into the fray once again. Then her phone started ringing and she nearly had a heart attack when she saw who was calling. Dean Winchester, speak of the devil. She knew because she'd programmed in his number practically the moment she'd gotten her new phone, so the name 'Dean' was now showing in flashing lights on her display, but she had to answer as if she didn't know who was calling. Casual Buffy, casual, nothing unusual here.
"Hello, this is Buffy," she answered, in what she hoped was an extremely neutral tone.
"Hey Buffy," replied the hunter's deep voice. "This is Dean. What's up?"
Buffy just managed to squelch the urge to ask 'Dean who?'
Apparently the arrogant jerk thought he was extremely memorable.
"Not much," she answered instead. "Just sitting here in my office, doing some paperwork."
"Paperwork huh? That sounds exciting…uh… anyway, the reason I'm calling is that Sam and I might have a lead on that whole 'Mother of All' business."
"Really?" she asked curiously. "What did you find out?"
"Actually, we were hoping you could tell us. It's a thing really… a dead thing
… it basically told us it was one of the old bitch's kids. We were hoping your people could dissect it or something, maybe give us a lead." He cleared his throat and paused for a moment before continuing. "We could bring it to Cleveland… if that's okay with you."
"You're bringing me a corpse!" Buffy asked. She was so nervous and excited that the question came out sounding a little harsh.
"Only a small corpse," Dean replied uncertainly (Dammit Sam
, he thought, I told you this was a stupid idea
). "It's like a worm, or a slug… or I don't know… It fits in a mason jar. If you think it's a waste of time then no problem… I'm sure you've got a lot going on."
The fact that Dean now sounded unsure of himself gave Buffy more confidence.
"No, seriously, bring it by," she replied, in a positive yet not overly excited tone. "We don't know anything, so I'm sure Giles would be thrilled. Besides, Willow loves any excuse to get down with the beakers and the Petri dishes and stuff. When do you think you'll get here?" she asked casually.
"Well, we're in South Dakota right now. It's a good eighteen hours drive. If we leave in the next hour or two, we should be there by tomorrow evening."
"Ok," she said, still going for a neutral tone. "Do you need directions?"
"I've got it," Dean replied, with a small chuckle. "I don't wanna get lost."
"I forgot you were so funny," she said sarcastically, although she was sure he could tell she had a smile on her face.
"Well anyway," Dean said after a slightly awkward pause. "I guess we'll call ya when we get into town."
"Sounds good," Buffy replied, unsure of how to end the call. "We'll… uh… see ya when ya get here."
"Bye," Buffy said simply, before hanging up the phone and proceeding to jump up and down in excitement. She needed to talk to Willow, she needed to go shopping, and she sure as hell needed to take Giles up on his offer of a night off. She absolutely had to get some sleep, she was afraid she was starting to look a little like the demons she'd been fighting.