A/N: Here be action. Sorry it took me so long. New town, new job, new flat, and a cold to round it all off. I was busy.
+“I really thought you could do better, Guardian.”
Buffy rolled her eyes dramatically, “Am I supposed to be impressed? That title isn’t exactly a secret, you know?”
The demon laughed again and sashayed closer to the blonde, all tease, all flirt. It looked like seduction gone wrong and if it hadn’t been so fucked up, Dean would have found it hot. Meg. Of course it was that bitch. Who else played games with them like this? Who else did they know who went to the trouble of setting up traps this elaborate and farfetched? Bitch.
Meg raised a hand to trail a finger along Buffy’s jaw line, leaning in way too close. The blonde tensed but didn’t move a muscle, didn’t give the game away. They were close enough to kiss when the demon breathed, “But I know what it means
This time, there was no sassy comeback and no eye roll. Buffy stared the demon straight into its black eyes, stiff as a board. She tried to hide her reaction, but the demon saw it and drew back, laughing like a hyena.
“Oh, did you think this little trap was for Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum?”
Dean glared and Sam mirrored him exactly, both as angry with Meg as they were with themselves. And Buffy. Why the hell was Buffy this tense? Something was going wrong and Dean had no idea what it was. He felt like he was riding a train about to go off the rails.
“No, darling, this is all you. And I gotta say, I’m sort of disappointed in you. I’ve been causing a mess down here for a month, and you just didn’t react at all. I was starting to think you weren’t going to accept the invitation.”
“Yeah, well, you gotta admit, the hospitality sorta sucks.” Buffy was back to quipping and jerked one of her arms sideways to emphasize her point. The zombie clinging to it grunted and gripped her tighter, losing some of its face in the process. There was a wet splat as parts
hit the ground. Buffy wrinkled her nose and Victor looked like he was seriously contemplating upchucking his dinner.
Meg grinned, skull-like and leaned against the edge of the altar table, the picture book definition of relaxed. Sam, who was still on his knees a few feet from Dean, finally piped up. “So what do you want from Buffy? Her soul? Her body?”
The demon pouted. “Oh, you’re adorable, Sammy. So cute. Do you really think I’ll fall for that? I’m not that Devil Trader kid.”
Dean didn’t understand half of what was going on anymore, but he understood the caution in Buffy’s eyes as she said, “The Take Away bitch told you.”
Told Meg what, goddamn?
Seemingly delighted, Meg nodded. “Of course. Told me all about how she almost
had the Guardian’s soul, told me how you’re the real deal.” Demon girl rolled her eyes and then spat, “Idiot
! Seriously, taking that bitch out was a favor to all of us. How dumb
can you get?”
Dean and Sam looked confused and Meg finally noticed and smiled beatifically, looking at Buffy. “They don’t know, do they? They don’t have a clue what you are.”
Buffy said nothing, but her glare was liquid fire. Then Sam asked, “Buff?”
She jerked and refused to look at him, eyes fixed on the demon. This was not good. Not good at all. Buffy was lying to them? What the fuck? “You want me. That’s it, right? You want me dead so you can drag me home to your master and claim that you killed me. Took out the Guardian.”
The demon clapped. “Wonderful. You get a cookie for that.”
“So you let them go. We both know you’re not going to touch either of them anyway, so you let them go and then we’ll play.”
Dean jerked forward and got put back in his place by a meaty fist. He spat a mouthful of blood and yelled, “What the hell, princess? What’s going on?!”
Partly he was still sticking to the plan, but mostly he was confused. Confused and pissed off because someone
had obviously omitted a few pertinent details.
“Oh, please,” the demon bitch waved off Buffy’s words, “We both know that when he
walks this world again, alive or dead won’t matter. I can kill them. But I’d really rather kill you. I’ve never had an angel before.”
Silence. Complete and utter silence reigned. Not even the zombies shuffled anymore. Dean stopped breathing. Angel
And then his mouth went on autopilot. “Angel? What the fuck are you on about, you crazy bitch? Buffy ain’t no angel.”
Meg turned to him, tutting and waving her finger at him. “Of course she’s no angel. She’s a Guardian. That makes her a filthy halfblood. Half human, half angel. But enough angel so I can’t touch her soul, or take her body. I try to do that, I go up in flames. But I can kill her, and that’s what I plan to do. Sorry, boys.”
It winked at Dean, then smiled at Sam, both of whom weren’t paying her any attention, focused instead on Buffy, who stood, staring straight ahead and didn’t deny a single thing the demon was saying.
“Demons lie,” Dean finally ground out, but it was weak. He hated how weak it sounded, how desperate. An angel? Buffy had failed to mention that she was a fucking angel? And since when were there angels anyway?
Betrayal gaped open in his chest, wide and ugly. Angels are watching over you.
But angels didn’t exist. In a world where angels didn’t exist, Dean could forgive all that had happened to his family, somehow. But if angels were real… if Buffy was an angel…
Meg laughed. “Why would I lie about this? I’ve got the Guardian. I’ve got the Winchester boys. All I have to do now is kill the little birdy.” Its smile turned sinister. “I win, Dean-o. This time, I win.”
“Actually,” Buffy said, sounding flat, “you don’t.”
“And how’s that?”
“You keep ignoring the obvious,” the blonde drawled. Apparently, she’d decided that they were going to have their crisis of faith later. Ha, faith. Angels. Faith. Dean swallowed a giggle.
Meg looked annoyed at having her grand finale ruined and Buffy smiled. Sam and Victor stilled and Dean shoved everything but his immediate survival away.
“The fourth guy,” Buffy said, happily, “You keep ignoring him. But he’s important. He used to be a cop, you know? And do you know what cops do?”
“What?” Meg snapped, getting angrier by the second. Good. Dean really
wanted to bash her face in.
“They ask why
Buffy grunted. “So we knew this was a trap, you stupid bitch.”
Victor couldn’t get loose and Sam and Buffy weren’t bleeding, but they all had amulets and Dean had a mouthful of blood. He jerked sideways and down, ripping away from his captors and spat into his palm while fumbling with the leather cord around his neck with his other hand. He pulled out a crude amulet and slapped it into his bloody palm, barking a few words in pseudo-Latin, activating the preset spell in the stone.
There was a flash and a wave of ozone stench and the zombies dropped where they stood, dead meat once again. The amulets, the magical equivalent of an EMP burst, had sucked the magic that animated the zombies right out of them. Victor was still shaking off his dead captors, while Sam and Dean simultaneously lunged toward the two demon henchmen.
Buffy threw herself into a forward flip around Meg and grabbed her scythe as she landed before spinning on her heel to face the demon. The two females stood facing each other for a moment before Meg threw herself forward, feigning and then ducking. Dean was punching his demon in the face like it was going out of style, while Sam was grappling with his. Victor kicked himself into gear, grabbing the discarded flame thrower and starting to flambeé the zombies. The amulet was only a temporary solution and they weren’t sure of the zombies would get back up or not. Better to take no chances, they had agreed on that before the fight.
Buffy could feel the accusations, the sense of betrayal both boys were sending her way. She didn’t even have to look to know the expressions on their faces. Disappointment. Anger. She’d lied to them.
But she hadn’t.
She’d never told them she wasn’t an angel. She would have told them everything eventually. But of course a demon had to come along and ruin it all. Story of her life. She wanted to beg the boys to listen to her, to forgive her, but now wasn’t the time.
Fight first, cry later.
So she gave the signal and Dean activated his amulet and then it was on. The boys went for the goons, Victor took care of the dead guys, like they’d agreed on, and Buffy was left with the head bitch. Meg. The boys had told her about that one.
It’d screwed them over badly while wearing the real Meg’s body. Almost killed them a few times. Daughter of Azazel, who’d been a Fallen. No wonder this one recognized what the word Guardian actually meant.
Buffy went for the scythe, twirling it in her hands, itching to bury the blade in that bitch’s face. Meg couldn’t get away. The Take Away Demon was dead and she was sure the Meg-wearing bitch hadn’t told anyone else what it knew. Demons were like that. Always looking for an advantage.
Which meant that if she killed this demon, her plan could still work. She could still save Dean, if Meg never left this basement. She felt bad for the girl the demon was wearing, felt sick at the thought of killing her as collateral damage, but there was no other option. She told herself the girl was probably already dead. Dead or insane.
And the world came first.
The demon lunged and ducked under Buffy’s first swing, faster than anticipated. Older and more powerful, too. Would have to be, for a Fallen to claim it like Azazel had.
The slayer spun on her heel and kicked out, catching the redhead in the jaw, knocking her back a few feet. Meg smirked and spat blood. “Do you think they’ll forgive you for betraying them like this? They like holding grudges, you know?”
Buffy forced herself to roll her eyes, to be dismissive. Never let the enemy know how close they were hitting to home. “Do you think I’ll let you get out of here alive?” she shot back instead and was rewarded with the smirk faltering a bit.
Buffy was vaguely aware of the fight dying down behind her, which meant the boys had the other two demons locked down. Dean had the Colt and he would use it. Buffy’s secret would be safe again as soon as Meg was dead. This could still work. Dean could still be saved. If she concentrated on that, she could ignore that he had just learned that she was half part of a race of beings he hated. Angels. Dean despised angels for reasons Buffy could understand all too well.
She swung wide and as Meg ducked, she followed up with a fist to the face and a kick in the gut. “You know the thing about angels?” she asked conversationally as she started beating the crap out of the bitch.
Meg rolled to her feet, darted a few feet backward, out of easy range. “What?” the demon spat with an innocent girl’s mouth.
,” the slayer concluded as she lunged, scythe extended, ready to erase the demon.
But she’d underestimated her enemy again and the demon jumped and rolled and then – shit!
A cloud of black smoke coiled out of the girl’s mouth and nose, toward the ceiling. Toward Hell.
“Sam!” Buffy yelled without thinking, “Stop her! She can’t leave this room!”
For a moment she thought Sam hadn’t heard, or was ignoring her, or was injured, or a million other things. Then the smoke suddenly stopped moving forward and started writhing in place, like someone was holding on to it, strangling it.
There were sparks at the edge of the black, startlingly red, and Buffy yelled again, “Stop her!”
More sparks. She took her eyes off the cloud just long enough to see Sam standing in the middle of the room, shoulders hunched against the pain, one hand extended, the other clutching his bleeding nose. He was panting like he’d run a race and Dean was hovering, talking to him. The other two demons were already dead. She hadn’t even heard the gunshots.
Victor stood a few feet off, flame thrower discarded. For the first time, Buffy noticed the acrid stench of rotting, burning flesh.
The cloud kept on twisting and Sam kept holding onto it, kept pushing at it, his hand shaking. Blood was running down his chin and neck, but he kept at it and then, with a sudden, pain filled yell, he closed his fist and the cloud of smoke that was a powerful, dangerous demon just… stopped.
Sam had just killed a demon – truly killed it - with nothing but the power of his mind.
He collapsed like a sack of bones into his brother’s arms half a second later.
Buffy exhaled. It was over.
It was over, Meg was dead, her secret was still safe. She could still get Dean out of his deal. There was still hope. There was…
There were two men glaring at her and another one groaning in pain. Well, shit. “Vic,” she said, without taking her eyes off the brothers. “Can you get our stuff from the roof and meet us by the car?”
He hesitated, but his glare was underlaid by confusion. He didn’t really understand what was going on. She couldn’t blame him. Come on, angels? Really? That, and he didn’t have half the emotional investment the boys did. Dean hated angels.
She thought it had something to do with his mother, that promise, Angels are watching over you
. Broken promises always hurt the worst. She understood that.
But he was looking like he hated her
, right now, and that was… surprisingly painful.
Victor left, jogging out of the room, leaving the three hunters alone surrounded by bodies, new and old. Sam, who was flirting with the edges of consciousness, groaned and squirmed in Dean’s hold like a child asking to be set down. Dean complied, lowering the giant to the ground, making sure he didn’t collapse. As soon as he was sitting, Sam relaxed marginally and tried to blink his eyes open.
Dean, on the other hand, straightened and very deliberately put himself between Buffy and his injured brother. Flinching, the slayer averted her gaze.
When Dean spoke, his voice was arctic. “What. The. Fuck?!”
She almost jumped at his sharp words.
“Didn’t you think the fact that you’re a fucking angel
might have been nice to know? What the fuck, Buffy?!”
Buffy. He was calling her Buffy. Ouch. She shook her head, bit her lip. “Half-breed, actually,” she corrected in a small voice. “I’m a half-breed.”
“How can you be half an angel?!” Behind Dean, Sam winced at the volume. Dean lowered his voice marginally. “What the hell does that even mean?”
She shrugged. “I died. I went to Heaven. And when I came back, there was a little something extra. That’s all.”
Dean opened his mouth again, probably to demand what the hell ‘a little something extra’ was, but Sam beat him to it by raising a hand and waving it around. “Dean,” he almost whispered, “Dude, migraine. Can we get out of here first?”
He was playing dirty, Buffy thought, using the one thing Dean could never argue with against him – Sam’s health. But this time, Dean looked like he was hesitating and she got that. She did. How many times had they been betrayed? How many people had they lost?
“Dean,” she said, her voice as quiet as Sam’s had been. He turned back to look at her and she bent down to lay the scythe on the ground, out of easy reach. Spreading her fingers wide by her sides, she straightened. Unarmed. “I’ll tell you. Anything you want to know. But you have to believe that I would never, ever do anything to hurt you two.”
How could she? She’d only known them for less than a year but they drew her in so quickly, they accepted her and let her be, joked with her. Made her feel like she belonged. The Scoobies had been friends, the best of friends, once upon a time, before life had torn them apart. But Sam and Dean didn’t feel like the Scoobies had. They didn’t feel like friendship with that undercurrent of family. They just felt like family. Like a place where she belonged
, no strings attached. She loved those boys. She loved them both so much and even though she kept telling Castiel that she was saving Dean from Hell in order to protect all Creation, that wasn’t true. Creation could go fuck itself for all she cared. She was saving Dean for Dean, for Sam, for what they meant to her. Just like she’d jumped off that tower for Dawn and not the world.
“I’d rather die first.”
Sam flinched and Buffy regretted her phrasing. Too many people had died for these two already. But the words were out there now and she meant them. Dean hesitated, warring with himself, torn between wanting to believe her and knowing better.
In the end, Sam made the decision for him by moaning and swaying in his spot dangerously. Dean reached him just as he passed out, barely keeping his brother’s big head from smashing into the ground as he toppled over backwards. Buffy grabbed the scythe, twirled it once and stuck it into the back of her belt. It wasn’t ideal, but she could walk like this and had her hands free. Then she crouched next to the brothers, careful not to touch Sam. Not without Dean’s permission.
“Let’s get outta here,” she offered gently. “You can shove bamboo splinters under my nails later.”
From Dean’s grimace, she concluded that he had the same mental image she was just experiencing and added a quick, “Sorry.”
He shot her a darkly amused look and relaxed, just a bit. They slung Sam’s giant octopus arms across their shoulders and, with some fumbling due to height differences, started steering him up the stairs.
Buffy wanted to tell a worried Dean that his brother was alright. He’d blown a few fuses, but nothing that wouldn’t heal within a couple of hours. He’d be just fine. But then she’d have to explain how she knew and since it was the angel in her that let her feel Sam’s state of health, she figured she’d better keep her mouth shut.