Title: Black Blood and Scars
Synopsis: Castiel had entrusted her with keeping this ragtag group alive and well and Buffy planned on doing so—even if it killed her.
Disclaimer: Supernatural and all related characters are copyright Eric Kripke, Kripke Enterprises & The CW Network. No infringement intended. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all related characters are copyright Joss Whedon and ME. No infringement intended.
Note: This story was written for the ‘Art is the Weapon
’ challenge over at the buffyxdean community on livejournal. This story is a sequel to the drabbles ‘scorched’ and ‘home’
you might want to read those first.
Artwork: Who's Going to Hold Your Hand?Black Blood and Scars
Damp hair clung to the back of her jean jacket, a jacket that was doing little to keep the humidity from settling over her and making the cool air seem frigid. Green eyes narrowed, sweeping back and forth as Buffy Summers searched the vacant street for signs of life as the group she’d found herself trapped with the night before became useful during daylight hours. They were families, a mother, daughter duo and two brothers, that when combined with the wheelchair bound hunter became something close to a nuclear family.
The looks the mother, Ellen Harvelle, shot towards her daughter, Joanna (for the love of God please call her Jo) before turning that considering gaze on the brothers made her ache for her own mother in ways Buffy hadn’t thought possible since dragging herself free of her grave. The feelings those mothering gazes invoked chafed in the most annoying and heartwarming of ways and she shoved them back, weighed those emotions down to churn in her gut before she thought of Dawn and all she’d lost.
Ellen turned that stare on her, but the thoughts behind her gaze were different, not hostile, but definitely not willing to have a stranger at her back. Buffy knew that look, she’d perfected that look by the age of sixteen and while she understood the need for it she still found the meaning behind it irksome. She hadn’t been brought in by the Winchesters or Bobby Singer, she was Castiel’s backup and that look, from a hunter as seasoned as Ellen, meant she didn’t trust Castiel. Not entirely.
Of course neither did Buffy, but since she was alone inside her head she was allowed moments of blatant hypocrisy.
Castiel had saved Dean and the other members of this rag team group numerous times and therefore should have earned their respect and trust by now, but for Buffy he represented all that had failed her, all that she’d lost and was still ached for as she stumbled her way through life. It didn’t matter that Castiel trusted her, trusted her to keep this group alive and on point and entrusted her with his most powerful weapon and that thought brought her back into the present.
Her left arm tucked tighter against her side, pressing the cut-down sword, covered in markings that would have kept Giles up for months researching, tighter to her side. The makeshift harness Dean, the only person Castiel wished to know about her possession of the weapon, had fashioned for her out of an old shoulder holster kept the sword at ready even while her hands were filled with a shotgun. It was a good thing her Watcher couldn’t see her now since he’d be less than thrilled at the sight of his charge ready and willing to use something other than archaic weaponry to take on the hordes of hell.
That brought a smile to her face, that caused Ellen to shoot her a worried glance but before the hunter could address her concerns Buffy caught sight of woman standing in the middle of the street to their left. Dark hair done in haphazard curls fell around her shoulders as she taunted Dean, the questionable leader of their little group, and the pair traded barbs. Buffy stifled the urge to yawn and instead took on a bored stance as she studied their adversary and aside from her being better dressed than most (Buffy would have killed her just to get those boots) she didn’t strike her as all that impressive.
The faint sound of heavy panting pulled Buffy further from the conversation going on in front of her and she turned her head to the side, lashes falling as her eyes closed and she focused. Claws scrapped over concrete and a growl from several feet in front of them had Buffy’s eyes opening just as the demon, apparently named Meg, confirmed the presence of hellhounds. Buffy took three steps back from the group as Dean aimed his gun, the Colt, which according to Castiel could possibly kill the devil, and wasted one of the bullets on a hound.
Black blood decorated the street and the puddle beside Meg arched upward to speckle those boots as the body of the hellhound collapsed and Buffy found the group converging on her. She spun, catching up to them in three easy strides and shouted, “Dean!”
His head turned, the Colt already safely tucked away as she handed off her rock-salt filled shotgun with her left, the right reaching for Castiel’s sword. The always warm metal filled her hand as she wound her fingers around the hilt and tugged it upwards and out, freeing the sword from the sheath. It glinted in what little sun the fog filled streets had to offer, the light refracted by the symbols carved along its three-sided blade, as Buffy focused on the sound of heavy footfalls behind her and directly to her left.
Dean stumbled, his legs pulled out from under him and Buffy twisted, her right knee popping as she forced too hard a turn out of it. She dropped low, her shoulder impacting coarse fur and solid muscle as she tossed the hound from its intended victim and it rolled, striking a street sign with a whimper and thud. She ignored Dean’s nod of gratitude to focus and felt the warmth a hellhound’s breath a moment before impact. She spun, boot heels scraping over the asphalt, knee protesting, as the hound caught her at chest level, teeth finding purchase in her shoulder and a grunt escaped her as she hit the ground.
She flipped the sword, business side out, and drove it upward, towards the mouth grinding her bones. It hit thick muscle then bone and a strangled cry escaped the hound before it sagged, its heavy weight suffocating and reminding her absently of grave dirt. Buffy tucked her knees up and rolling herself with the carcass. She landed in a crouch over the dead thing and her chin lifted as she heard another two changing course and heading towards her.
One reached her left side first, breath tickling the hairs on the back of her hand and she dove to the right, body tucking as she landed on her wounded shoulder. Her breath hissed outward, teeth clenching as she suppressed the urge to wither in pain and instead slashed out with the sword. She felt the blade score the flanks of one of the hellhounds and was rewarded with a whimper. A whimper that turned into a howl as she twisted her wrist, arm pulling back before shoving forward and piercing the side of that hound, downing it.
Her elation with the small victory was short-lived as another impacted her back, claws descended and scoring the shoulder of her right arm. A spasm shook her hand and she tightened her hold on the sword, unwilling to give up her only advantage. She flinched, brows tugging together when she heard Jo’s shout of her name and the hound pinning her suddenly took on a massive amount of rock-salt.
It slid from her back, but not before digging its claws into her hip and dragging them across as it left her. She collapsed forward, onto her elbows. Strong arms encircled her waist, dragging her up and onto her feet and her head turned with the sound of Jo, the person who’d just saved her from becoming Kibbles and Bits, fall beneath another hound. Bloody marks split the thighs of her jeans and she cried out, drawing Buffy’s ire and her arm up.
The sword left her hand and sank soundly into the shadow descending on Jo. The odd angle at which the sword hovered over Jo told Buffy better than words she’d managed a headshot on an invisible creature. That small smile was back as she was ushered into the relative safety of a general store by Sam and she watched as Dean gathered the sword and a limping Jo.
Ellen was suddenly beside her, pulling her from the support Sam’s body provided and she stumbled, callused hands catching her as she was forced to the floor and her jacket tugged away from her wounds with the same lack of finesse as she was worried over. She ignored the mothering to watch Dean make it, Jo a step behind and Sam slammed the door and the trio gathered salt bags, laying a haphazard line between themselves and the rattling door. A hiss escaped her when Ellen probed the shoulder that had been used as a chew toy and she turned her head.
Turned her head and found Ellen not looking over her wound, but at her. Looking at her with that same family type look she reserved for her girl and the brothers, but now it was directed at her.
It still chafed. ~*~
A hand caught the back of Dean’s neck, fingers pulling at the aching muscles and his head dropped, chin resting against his chest as he made his way up the stairs toward a couple hours of rest. A heaviness had settled in his bones since they’d left Carthage and while he knew Bobby and Sam were happy as pigs in shit over the fact that everyone had made it out of that hellhole alive he wasn’t nearly as thrilled. The reality of it was no matter how he looked at the hunt it was still a failure. Aside from irritating the devil the Colt hadn’t done shit and they were right back to square freaking
It had been a long time since he’d felt this damn helpless, powerless and since he had no intention to mull over the events of Cold Oaks again he quickened his stride, taking the steps two at a time until he saw the landing to the second floor. Boots hitting the stairs with enough force to shake the few pictures gathering dust on Bobby’s walls as he hit the carpeted hallway and headed towards the bedroom he and Sam had commandeered. A muffled curse slowed his steps and Dean glanced to his right, frowning at the closed door as he did a quick catalogue of where everyone else was at the moment.
Castiel had wandered off to parts unknown, his brother and Bobby were sharing beers near the fire downstairs and Ellen had Jo sprawled on the couch next to them as she doctored Jo’s thigh. His eyes closed, mouth turning down with a frown when he realized who
was behind that door and that she’d been the bloodiest of all on the trip back. With a sigh he lifted his left hand and dropped it against the worn wood, side first and more than once, before he lowered it to the handle.
A waspish, “Yeah,” was the only reply to his knocking and Dean’s brow arched as he twisted the doorknob and entered without invitation. Green eyes widened at the sight of the blonde struggling to get her jean jacket down her arms, the blood having long since dried, leaving the fabric stiff and unyielding.
“Christ, it’s called asking for help,” Dean muttered as he strode into the room, “here. Let me.”
Buffy’s head lifted, bared a face that was freckled with blood and painted with annoyance, whether with him or her jacket was anyone’s guess, as he settled himself beside her and took over. He ignored the stubborn set of her jaw as deft hands caught her arms and spun her slowly towards the opposite wall. Catching the hem of the jacket and frowning at the gaping slash marks decorating it, he asked (see ordered), “Can you straighten your arms behind you?”
A hiss escaped her, but she did as requested and Dean worked at maneuvering the material down her arms. The blood held the jacket to her shirt and her shirt to her skin which caused more than a few winces, but after a few minutes of patience and effort he’d managed to work it free and drop it to the floor. He took in the sight of her back, the blood having turned a sickening shade of orange in the stains furthest from four claw marks covering her right side, starting just beneath the chewed look of her shoulder.
“Did Ellen look at this?”
Her head turned, chin hovering above the wound and green eyes looked at him through mascara smeared eyelashes and a sigh lifted her chin before she stated, “Not since Carthage.”
His mouth thinned and his gaze returned to her injuries, frowning with the fact that they needed to remove the shirt so he could see the full extent of them and her thigh wasn’t looking so hot through the bloody tears in her jeans. “Come on,” he spun, making his way back to the open door and into the hallway. Her quiet foot falls limped after his as he led her into the narrow bathroom located on the second floor and pulled back the curtain of the shower. “Get in.”
The disgruntled question brought a smirk up to curve his mouth, finding some amusement with her irritation, as he explained, “Your shirt and jeans needs to be off so I can first aid your injuries. The least painful way I know of to do that is to get them wet.”
Her right hand rose, fingers playing with the hem of said shirt as she gazed past him into the shower and questioned, “Take off my shirt?”
A snort escaped him and her gaze lifted as he offered, “I see something I haven’t seen before I’ll—”
Her chin jerked, head shaking as she countered, “I’m not worried about you ogling my goodies.”
Dean resisted the urge to mock her use of the word ogle and instead cocked his head, his brow following a moment later and simply waited for Buffy to grow a pair. Her shoulders sank under his steady gaze and she bent, wincing, to remove her boots and muttering something about scars at the floor. She swayed, her center of gravity shot to hell by blood loss was Dean’s best bet, and he steadied her with a palm on her right shoulder.
For a moment she leaned into the contact before gathering her bearings and rose, feet bare, and her hands moving to tackle the button of her jeans. Dean left her to it and turned, hitting the shower on and turning the facet towards a bearable hot since Bobby’s water heater tended towards temperamental and would scald the shit out the unsuspecting.
He shook off his hand and stepped back, allowing a wincing blonde to pass him without raunchy comment about her half bared ass, his self-control at its best, and climb over the tub’s edge and into the water. He watched her turn her face into the spray first, left hand scrubbing at a day’s old makeup and blood before she turned sideways and allowed the water to beat at her wounded side. A grimace worked its way across her features as rust colored water slipped its way down the drain and he waited until the entire shirt and her jeans were saturated before leaning in and turning the water off.
Snagging a towel from the wall mounted rack beside him he handed it to her and she quickly buried her face in it. He could hear the chatter in her teeth as she questioned, “Did you need to make it so hot?”
“Ask Bobby,” was his retort as he caught her good shoulder and turned her to face the shower wall. His voice was soft as he offered, “I don’t think I mentioned it before, but thanks.”
Her response of, “For what?” was muffled by their movement.
He slipped his fingers under the hem of the shirt and pulled it up, gently working his way around the claw marks even as she twitched in response and responded, “For saving my ass, for saving Jo’s. Ellen will get around to the whole gratitude thing eventually.”
“Once she’s assured her Jo’s in full working order.” Dean smiled at her understanding of that dynamic as they worked to free her left arm first and then her head, saving the shoulder with the puncture holes, that had shirt still imbedded in them, for last.
He was so intent on the task at hand he failed to notice the smooth, too smooth, skin under his fingertips until her wounded side was free and he was dropping the blood filled rag, that had once been clothing, to the floor of the tub. His eyes widened, brows dropping into frown when he finally saw the scars, her muttering suddenly making horrific sense, that encircled her ribcage.
They spanned out from just below either shoulder blade, her spine a clean line of unblemished skin, while the scars cut into her flesh in stripes of pale pink and white that swept down and around her sides. She turned, her face devoid of emotion and gaze boring into his chest, and Dean’s dipped, taking in the fact that the scars came forward and down, grazing her hip bones before disappearing beneath the wet jeans still covering her lower half.
He swallowed, tongue thick in his mouth and throat filled with cotton and his left hand rose to absently cup his right shoulder, his own scar suddenly aching and uncomfortable and filling him with a sickening realization, “Cas—”
“No,” she shook her head and lifted the towel up, positioning it around her body, covering her scars. “No. It wasn’t Castiel.”
“Then what?” His brows dipped, pulling together as he offered, “Fire?”
“No flame on earth could create markings such as those.” Dean’s spine stiffened and he turned, found Castiel directly behind him and took a stumbling step forward away from the angel who’s his gaze was solely for the shivering blonde. “I believe I am your ride home.”
Green eyes widened and her mouth opened, closed before she offered, “I’d like to stay.”
A small smile curved in the corner of Castiel’s mouth and he nodded before turning and making his way down the hallway and then the stairs. Dean blinked, confused and put off by the entire exchange, but he looked to Buffy and offered, voice tired, “Wanna talk about it?”
She snorted. “Not hardly.”
“Thank God.” He offered her a hand, which she accepted with a grateful smile and climbed out of the tub, wet jeans dragging across the tile floor. “Now let’s clean those wounds, down a fifth of Jack and sleep through tomorrow.”
As he lead the blonde from the bathroom and back into the bedroom she’d claimed, Dean knew he’d been wrong in Carthage. Castiel wasn’t their angel in the hole, Buffy was and perhaps square one wouldn’t suck as hard as he thought if she was sticking around. The end.