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The Lightning Strike

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Summary: After jumping into the portal in "The Gift", Buffy lands on a highway during a storm in front of the Dean's Impala. She doesn't know who she is or where she's from. Dean promises to take care of her.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Supernatural > Buffy-Centered > Pairing: Dean Winchester(Recent Donor)noturbabyFR18864,194116711,9334 Jun 1218 Jun 12Yes

Chapter Eight

Alternate Ending or not the one posted on ffnet anyway. This makes it completely set pre-series for Supernatural.



The gang wanted Buffy to take the night off, but the Slayer insisted on patrolling. She told them she had taken enough time away from her duties and nothing would keep her mind off Dean Winchester like 'dusting some vamps'.

#*#*#*#*#*#

As she strolled through the alleys of Sunnydale, Buffy contemplated having Willow do her spell to make her forget Dean and their summer together, but making Willow return to magic was too dangerous. Buffy wasn't willing to risk her best friend just for a little comfort.

The sky was beginning to brighten and the sounds of the coming dawn filled the air. Buffy was about to return home when she saw a strange tattooed man attack a woman who must have just gotten off work.

Buffy didn't care if it turned out to be random human on human violence; it was not going to happen on her watch. She raced over, grabbed the man by his collar and tossed him like a WWE wrestler off the woman. Keeping her grip on his shirt, she noticed his glowing blue eyes and the way his fingertips sparked.

The man's eyes grew huge with fright as he recognized the Slayer. Instantly, he cowered behind his hands.

"What are you? What did you do to her?" Buffy demanded.

"Nothing, I did nothing to her, gave her a little dream is all," the djinn babbled. "I promise. You arrived before I could do anything else."

"What kind of nightmare did you give her?" Buffy demanded as she checked the unconscious woman.

"Not a nightmare, I assure you. I only give good dreams," the djinn argued. "She's dreaming about her little girl. The child had died of leukemia and this woman has never stopped aching from her loss."

Buffy's raised a skeptical brow. "A monster handing out good dreams. Call me jaded, but I don't believe you."

As the Slayer advanced on him again, the djinn scampered back, pleading, "No, I do, I swear, I only give them what they want, only good dreams. It isn't until after they are peacefully asleep that I can begin to drain their life force."

In a blink of an eye she was on him, throwing him into the nearby bushes.

"Please, Slayer, let me live. I can help you."

"Help me?" Buffy repeated, as she continued her attack. "How can you help me?"

The djinn was backed into a tree; he saw no escape from his death at the hands of the girl towering over him. "You, too, have suffered the loss of a loved one. I can ease your pain."

"Right. You think I'm going to let you feed off me, you're as crazy as those tats on your face." Buffy knew she didn't know how to kill this creature, but she wasn't one to give up a challenge.

She drew her stake up to strike, when the djinn yelled, "Wait! If you let me live, I will ease your pain and I won't feed, I promise."

"Sorry, I don't take the word of monsters."

The djinn grabbed her wrist as she made to drive the spike into his chest. As his hand touched the bare flesh of her wrist, Buffy's actions slowed and she felt a slight sense of comfort. "There, see, that's just a small taste of what I can do, if you spare my life."

Gasping, Buffy withdrew. "Wh-why should I trust you?"

"Because a Slayer's blood is like poison to me, just like my venom has little power over you," he argued. "I am able to help you forget your loss, but it will leave me drained, vulnerable to your attack. But, I am willing to take that risk if you let me return to my children."

"You can't feed from me?"

"It would kill me."

"But you can make me forget Dean?"

"He will be like a long forgotten dream. Locked deep behind a wall in your mind," the djinn promised.

"Okay, do it."

The sun was peeking over the horizon when the djinn slumped against the tree in exhaustion. He was barely alive, but helping the Slayer meant returning to his children. Buffy sat on the dew damp grass watching the sunrise feeling content. She had no memory of Dean Winchester.



The moment consciousness hit him, Dean knew something was horribly wrong. His entire body was in pain. He kept his eyes closed and tried to listen for a clue to tell him what was different. He could hear muffled voices and a quiet, constant beeping. Panic was beginning to grip him.

He knew he was no longer in the motel room with Buffy and he didn't know where she was or if she was okay. He didn't know if whoever had him had done something to her, if they did, he would kill them.

Slowly, he opened his eyes to see his father's very relieved face. "Dean, hey buddy, it's okay. You're going to be okay."

"Dad?" he croaked. "Where -"

"Don't try to talk, yet. You're in the hospital, but you're going to be okay."

#*#*#*#*#*#

John snapped shut his phone and tried to give Dean a hopeful look. "Sam must be in class. I'll try again later."

Dean snorted. Sam wasn't in class; Dad and Sam still weren't speaking. "I'll call him when we get to Bobby's."

John nodded and helped Dean into the wheelchair as the nurse entered his room. She handed John some paperwork and gave Dean a cheerful smile. "Take care of yourself, Dean. No more driving in tornadoes, you hear me? We brought you back twice. Don't go testin' whether the third time's a charm."

"Yes, ma'am." Driving. Dean remembered driving during a storm; he remembered the lightening. As he waited for his dad to drive the truck to the hospital entrance, he wondered pointlessly what had happened to his car.



On the drive to Sioux Falls, John hated how quiet Dean was. The boy who usually never shut up, now wouldn't talk at all.

Dean stared out the window. Had all that been a dream? The whole summer, meeting Buffy, taking her home, falling – Dean refused to accept that none of it had happened, that he had imagined all of it. The ache was real. The feeling of losing everything was real. How could Buffy not be real? She couldn't be just some girl he imagined.

Growing up, Dean's fantasy girls had always been helpless Playboy bunny types that needed him to rescue them. They had never been girls like Buffy. They had never been hunters. Why would his mind suddenly create someone like her? She had to be real. Those fantasy girls were never about love, but Dean knew he had been in love with Buffy.

#*#*#*#*#*#

Dean jerked away from his father's helping hand when they arrived at Singer Salvage. "Dad, I got it, I'm not a frickin' invalid," he groused as he hopped out of the truck.

"Fine," his father said as patiently as he could. He held out the crutches for Dean to take. "The doc said you're not to put your full weight on it."

Dean snatched the crutches with an angry huff, but hobbling up Bobby's steps took more effort than he realized. Even though it was late autumn, his short journey from the truck to the door made him sweat.

There was something off in Bobby's welcome, but Dean was too tired to worry about it. All he wanted to do was sleep; when he slept, he had amazing dreams.

After getting Dean settled into a room, Bobby said, "The car's coming along. She's got a date with a paint outfit next week. Then she'll be looking good as new."

"Thanks, Bobby," Dean replied quietly, though his expression showed his true gratitude.

Bobby shot a quick look over his shoulder at John. Then asked in a low voice, "Hey, do you happen to remember what happened to you?"

Dean's eyes fell. He remembered everything, but he knew that's not what Bobby meant. "I remember driving in a bad storm and waking up in the hospital."

"Right, well, I'll let you get some rest. Holler if you need anything."

Dean watched Bobby shut the door. Was it just his imagination or did Bobby seem disappointed by his answer? Dean knew he had been to Bobby's twice with Buffy, but there was no way Bobby knew that, was there?



Just as every night since he'd been 'back', Dean dreamed of Buffy.

The Texas heat didn't bother them. The music was loud, but it was a slow song. Dean pulled Buffy up against him and began to sway to the music.

Dean's hands held her tightly to him even as one slid further down her back. The way their bodies slotted together made Dean feel a different kind of heat and Buffy pressed against him, loving the warmth that seeped through his shirt.

He didn't want to be dancing anymore. He wanted to be in their room, in their bed, showing her how much he loved her. Buffy slowly dragged her nails down his back, loving how his muscles felt under her fingers and making him groan softly. "God, I want you," he whispered into her ear.

Buffy met his eyes but didn't have words. He kissed her softly, but it wasn't enough for Buffy, she dragged him into one of the Owl's Nest's backrooms and pressed him against the wall. She sucked on his lower lip and tugged at his shirt in order to touch bare skin.

Dean spun them so she was against the wall. Suddenly, her shorts were gone, his jeans were at his knees, and her legs were wrapping around him. In the next instant he was inside her, practically knocking the breath out of her as his every thrust slammed her into the wall. He slipped a hand under her shirt and cupped her breast and teased her nipple. Buffy had to stop kissing him in order to moan loudly. She panted his name as her body quivered around him.

Dean jolted awake in bed, cursing at empty room.



Even though the caller I.D. Read 'Bobby', Sam was nervous to answer. "Hey, Bobby, how's it going?"

"Hey, Sammy, it's going good now that you've finally answered your phone," Dean said with humor evident in his voice.

"Dean! Ohmigod! Is it really you?"

"Yeah, kid, it's me.-"

"And you're at Bobby's? How? What happened to you? Where were you? Geez man I thought you were dead."

Dean chuckled at Sam's obvious relief and excitement. "Yeah, I'm at Bobby's. Dad found me in a Texas hospital. I guess a tornado got the best of me or something. As to where I was? I don't know. Over the rainbow or in a coma. Take your pick." He decided not to tell Sam about dying.

"Dude," Sam sighed, "you have no idea how good it is to hear your voice."

"You, too, Sammy. But, enough about me. Tell me all about Stanford and the chicks you're scoring with. Lie if you have to. I don't mind."



"I don't know, Bobby, he just seems so miserable," John said staring into his coffee cup.

"You didn't see 'em, John, I'd never seen him so happy," Bobby replied.

"I saw him. He wanted to help me with a case in Alabama."

"Them, John, you didn't see them, together. They were," Bobby paused, as he remembered how Buffy and Dean looked at each other. "He loved her."

"A Slayer." John shook his head. "And you're sure she's dead?"

"Well, as sure as anyone can be. I have her obit in the other room and I got the same story from that council over in England. The question is, do we tell him?"

John stared at his friend. "I don't know. I guess I'm hoping he won't remember." Then John asked what was really concerning him. "Bobby, Dean wasn't dead. So, where'd we pull him back from? How could they have even … crossed paths?"

"I don't know. That kind of thinking is way above my pay grade."



Dean knew he had been here with Buffy just a few weeks earlier. He could remember it clear as day. He just needed proof; something that told him he didn't imagine the whole thing.

He carefully picked through Bobby's things, careful not to disturb anything that would give his search away. He found nothing on the desk that mentioned him or Buffy. On bookshelf number three he found what he was looking for: VAMPYR. That was the book Bobby showed Buffy that made her remember everything. Carefully, Dean took the book from the shelf in order to flip through it, but he didn't get far. The obituary for Buffy Summers was tucked in the end page.

He collapsed into Bobby's ratty armchair and read it. He read it a hundred times, until tears blurred his vision, but he didn't believe a word. Buffy wasn't dead. She wasn't. She couldn't be.

How could he have memories of being with her, of seeing this book, if she were dead? How could he have met her if he was in a coma?

He didn't hear his dad come in the room. He only realized John was there when he felt a comforting hand on his shoulder. "I'm so sorry, Dean," John murmured. "I couldn't let you die, son." He moved a few steps away, but kept his eyes on Dean. "I only knew you were lying in that hospital bed, broken and slipping further away every minute."

"I know Dad." Dean wiped his eyes and looked up at John. "The thing is, how does Bobby have this if she and I weren't here this summer? How does he even know who she is?"

"You were here," Bobby said from the doorway. "You were like a spirit. You would just appear and then she would be there, too. When I found out she was a Slayer, we were scared silly."

"Why?"

John and Bobby looked at each other before answering. "A Slayer is very powerful and even though she fights on our side, she's made from demonic energy. We didn't know why she'd be after you."

Dean shook his head. "Buffy wasn't 'after me'. I was helping her remember who she was and where she was from."

"We were worried that she'd harm you or take you with her," John said. "We knew she was dead."

Dean wasn't ready to believe that, yet. "Dad, you would have liked her, she was awesome."



After dinner that night, Dean announced, "When the car's done, I'm leaving for California."

Both Bobby and John were shocked. "You're what?" John asked.

Bobby asked, "Why?"

"Because that is where she and I were headed. Buffy had a sister. I've got to make sure she's all right."

John looked like he didn't approve of Dean's plan. "Dean, don't do this to yourself."

"Dad, she's just a kid. She's living on a hell-mouth. I gotta make sure she's okay."

John nodded slowly. "Then I'll go with you." Seeing Dean's eyes widen in surprise, John added, "Maybe I'll check on Sammy while you check on the girl." The look on Dean's face was the closest to a smile John had seen.



Dean crouched and carefully placed the flowers by Buffy's head stone. "Saved the world a lot," he read. "I bet you did, sweetheart," Dean sighed and stood up. "I'm sorry, Buffy, I'm so damn sorry. I wish I was with you. You gotta know I didn't want to leave, my dad pulled me back. I never would have left you. You've got to believe that."

"I should have told you how much... I should have told you that I loved you long before that last day. It's like some part of me knew I wasn't good enough. A guy like me doesn't get a girl like you, Buffy. Not for keeps anyway." His throat was tightening as his sadness began to grip him. "I miss you so much, Buffy. I'd do anything to..." he stopped himself.

"I hope you're not fighting anymore. I hope you're finally at peace. Don't worry about your sister. I'm going to make sure she's okay. I promise I'm not going to let anything happen to her." He wiped his face. "I hope, wherever you are, you're happy, you deserve to be happy."

#*#*#*#*#*#

Dean followed Dawn for two days before he felt confident that she was safe. The girl never seemed to be alone. She'd get rides to and from school and at school she had a small group of friends.





Dean tapped the steering wheel nervously after parking. He read a scrap of paper then checked the address. "1630, just like it was five minutes ago," he complained to himself. "C'mon Winchester, grow a pair. Go knock on the door and check on the sister. Worry about explaining who you are later."

Dean climbed from the car before he chickened out again. Walking up to the door, Dean felt a tightness in his chest. Three quick knocks and he stood back, waiting.

From inside he heard a muffled, "Got it!"

Then, the door flew open and Buffy was standing there with an expectant expression. "Hi."

Dean's mouth fell open and he couldn't answer, he could only stare in shock.

Buffy waved her hand in front of his face. "Hello? Can I help you?" You okay? Do you need something?" She asked with a touch of concern for the mute man on her door step. She looked around him, but saw nothing that looked dangerous.

"B-Buffy? You're – you're..."

"Alive? Yeah," she laughed like her death was an inside joke. "Like Burt Reynolds, the reports of my death were exaggerated. Just trying to avoid the debt collectors," she stopped herself. "Crap, you're not a debt collector are you?" she joked nervously.

Dean's expression fell as his heart broke. She didn't know him at all. There wasn't the slightest recognition in her eyes. "No, I, uh." A noise from behind her drew their attention.

"Who was at the door, love?" Spike asked, as he rummaged through a drawer looking for a match for the cigarette hanging from his lips.

Dean stared at the man and completely missed Buffy's eye roll at Spike's phony endearment. She turned back to Dean and made a rotating motion with her hand to tell him to hurry up. "So, what did you say you wanted?"

Dean gave her a tight lipped smile. "Nothing," he answered quietly. "I'll let you get back to your – life."

"Oh-kay," Buffy drew out the word as she wondered why the guy had knocked if he didn't want anything. Did he need her help? But, before she could ask, he turned and hurried down the steps of her porch. "Hey, wait," she called after him. "Are you sure you're okay?"

She easily caught up with him on the sidewalk. Once again, Dean found himself staring, unable to speak. "Do you need help?" she asked with true concern in her voice.

She looked different. She had cut her hair and Dean ached to touch it. "Yeah, no, I'm fine. I, uh, got the wrong address." He could tell from her expression she didn't believe him, but he didn't know what to say. He tried to give her a reassuring smile, but he was dying inside. He simply had to get away from her.

The thought of her not knowing him hurt nearly as much as the thought of her being dead. He knew she'd forget him, but he had hoped it wouldn't be so completely or so quickly. He told himself to be happy; Buffy's alive. She's alive and back with her family and friends. She didn't know him, she didn't need him, she wasn't pregnant... she was fine. He would have been a complicated mess to explain.

Buffy felt a strange buzzing in her brain as she watched him drive away. Where had she seen that car before? But, if she worried about every odd thing in Sunnydale, she'd never get rest.



Feeling like a creeper, Dean spent the next two nights stalking Buffy. Loaded with weapons, he followed her at what he hoped was a discreet distance. The first night, he watched in horror as she was surrounded by three vampires. He rushed forward with his gun drawn, but she turned them to dust before he could take aim. The encounter left Buffy unscathed and it left Dean in awe. He remembered her saying she had wanted to quit, had wanted a normal life, but this Buffy looked like she was born for the job.

The second night was the last Dean spent in Sunnydale. He followed her again. But on this night, instead of battling evil creatures, he watched as she argued with 'Billy Idol'. When the argument turned into a passionate make-up make-out, Dean left.

Buffy had her life back - her sister, her friends, her boyfriend, her 'job'; she didn't need him.

#*#*#*#*#*#

In Palo Alto the next day, Dean wasn't surprised to hear that Sam hadn't seen John. It was like their father to 'check on' Sam without actually talking to him. Dean pretended not to remember anything about his summer. When Sam told him about a girl that had come looking for him, Dean gave him a knowing smirk. "Girls are always looking for me, Sammy."



July, 2003 – Athens, Ohio

"You know Dean, if you wanted out of this relationship; you just had to say so. You don't have lie or make up crazy stories about ghosts and monsters."

"I'm not lying Cassie, and I don't want out!"

"Yeah, right. Well, guess what? That's what I want! You out!"

"Fine!" Dean grabbed his duffel and the jacket that had been hanging on the rack and walked out the door.

He slammed the lid of his trunk, Cassie slammed the door to her place, and Dean knew he had made a mistake. No girl was ever going to replace Buffy; he had been stupid to try with Cassie.



He met Cassie two months after watching the news coverage of the small town of Sunnydale, California being swallowed by a 'sink hole'. He was sure Buffy would have died before letting that happen to her town.

He pursued Cassie because she was nothing like Buffy; from the way she looked to the way she talked, Cassie couldn't have been more Buffy's opposite if she tried.

Dean had foolishly thought that would be enough to help him forget his feelings for the Slayer.



September, 2003 – Apalachicola, Florida

Tourist season was over and the small town was suddenly peaceful. Buffy no longer had to wait for out of town drivers to find their way and there was no waiting for service at the small cafe she frequented.

She was a Slayer taking a much deserved break after saving the world, again. However, this time stopping the apocalypse also meant moving cross country to Cleveland, Ohio. Once everyone was settled, Buffy took off. She packed a bag and headed south and didn't know where she was going 'til she got there. 'There' was a vacation bungalow in Apalachicola, Florida and Buffy was planning on staying as long as she could. Dawn and Giles checked in every other day, but for the most part, Buffy was allowed to peacefully recharge.



After nearly six weeks of non-stop hunting, Dean was burned out. But more than that, he was tired of his father. Six weeks of being forced to follow his father's constant orders made Dean ready to kill the man. It was too much for both of them, and when John announced he was going to help Martin Creaser with a job in Michigan, Dean jumped at the chance for a much needed break from hunting and from his father.

He drove all night, his goal being the Florida Keys; however, the news of a hurricane forced him to stop in Apalachicola, at the first motel he saw.



"Hi! Welcome to the SandDollar. What can I do you for?" the woman wearing a Shannon name-tag asked.

"I need a room for the night, day, whatever," Dean babbled as he got out a credit card.

Shannon grabbed his card and gave him a sugary smile. "Well, Mr. Bonham, I'd love to give you a room, but check in's not 'til three." She handed him a form to complete.

Dean stared blankly at her for a moment. "That's fine, you can charge me for two days, I don't care. I just need to crash."

"I don't think that's our policy," Shannon replied with a tight fake smile. Didn't this guy know there was a storm heading their way?

Dean groaned. Checking her name tag he said, "Okay, Shannon, is there another place nearby that will rent me a room before three?"

"Well, sure, there's lots of them."

Dean held out his hand for his card. "Great, if you return my card, I'll be on my way."

"But, most of them are closed, now. Season's over and there's a hurricane comin'. So, most places just shut down. We were in the process of stripping the rooms ourselves."

Dean sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. "Got it. My card?" he repeated hoping to have it returned so he could be on his way to the next motel.

Shannon took pity on the exhausted man. "Tell you what, hun, I can get you in by one o'clock if you don't mind a room by the road."

Dean checked his watch. That would be just under three hours. "Great, I'll take it."

Shannon smiled and began his paperwork.

"Is there a decent diner still open? I just need some coffee."

"No, but that's only because this town doesn't have a decent diner in the first place. But, if it's coffee you want, there's a little place down about three blocks with the best coffee and bakery in the panhandle."

"Thanks, Shannon."



Dean saw her as he absentmindedly held open the door of the bakery/coffee shop. She nodded her thanks and smiled, then went to place her order at the counter. But, Dean did a double take. He knew his eyes were playing tricks on him, not every petite blond was Buffy, but that wasn't going to stop him from watching the girl's every move.



He sat on the bench outside the store, pretending to read the local 'penny pincher' paper and waited for her to leave. When she did, she walked straight to him, leaving him with no doubt that she was Buffy.

"Hey," she said with a smile that made Dean stare in shock.

"Uh, hey," he said uncertainly.

"You got the last beignets."

"Oh, uh, sorry, you want them?" he asked holding out the small bag.

"No," she laughed. "Just eat them while they're still warm. Don't let them go to waste."

Dean swallowed dryly and tried to smile. "Okay, thanks, I guess."

"Have a nice day," she called cheerfully as she strolled away.

Dean smacked himself in the face. Okay, he repeated to himself in a mocking tone. You don't see her for two years and all you say is 'okay'? He instantly began to look for her, spotting her walking into a shop across the street.

He took a couple of deep breaths. Stay here; see where she goes next, he told himself. But, after two minutes and a beignet, Dean found himself crossing the street, heading for the store she entered. It was of course at that moment, Buffy chose to leave the shop.

If she noticed him, she didn't let on. Instead, she hopped in a white Jeep and drove off, leaving Dean staring after her.

Knowing he couldn't follow her on foot, Dean headed back to the SandDollar for the Impala. He planned to casually drive around until he spotted her Jeep. For the next hour, he drove up and down each street hoping to spot her, but he had no luck. Finally, he stopped at a small drug store to pick up some supplies before he returned to the motel.

On his way out of the store, he saw Buffy at a different register. He slowed his walk to a near shuffle, allowing her to catch up to him. But, she breezed right passed him like she didn't see him.

However this time, he followed her successfully. She drove to her rented bungalow, and put the top on her Jeep before going inside. Dean made a note of the address. He'd go back, he told himself, once he knew what to say.



From inside the house, Buffy watched the sleek black car cruise by. She had seen that car before. She was almost certain she had seen that guy before, too. No one was supposed to know where she was, so how did this guy find her? She wasn't one to believe in random coincidences.

She called her sister. "Dawn, did you tell anyone where I am?"

"No, Buffy, I swear. Why? What happened?" Dawn knew her sister wouldn't ask if there wasn't a reason.

"It might be nothing, but, a guy was following me, today."

"What kind of guy?"

Buffy rolled her eyes. "A guy – guy. He didn't seem evil, You know – no setting off my spidey senses but he had kind of a strange vibe. He was definitely following me and I got the weird feeling I've seen him before."

"You think he was a vamp? Or a demon?"

"Not a vamp – daytime. But I'm not ruling out demon. Is Giles around?"

"Yeah, I'll get him."

After telling Giles the same thing she had told Dawn, she waited for his advice.

"Well, it could be a coincidence, you said yourself there aren't many places open. Perhaps the two of you just happened to be at the same place."

"Is that what you really think Giles?" Buffy asked, barely disguising her doubt.

"No," he begrudgingly admitted, "but you're supposed to be on vacation, so I'd rather it didn't involve you facing a demon."

Buffy sighed. "Well, vacation's almost over. Maybe this guy is just what I need to ease back into slaying."

"Buffy, be careful."

"Giles, you know me. I'm the queen of careful."



Dean had slept for hours, and he was now wide awake. He showered and decided to drive over to Buffy's and... and there's where his plan stopped. He had no clue what to say to her. 'Hi, I'm Dean. Remember me? We were in love with each other.' Yeah, that would work. If she didn't remember him before, why would she know him now?

He sighed, "I might as well hit a bar and see if that helps me think of something."

#*#*#*#*#*#

Dean watched the muted weather report, and drank a bottle of Hurricane Reef beer, his thumb nail scratching at the label's edge. He had just nodded to the bartender for another one when he heard. "Hey, you must be following me!" He turned to see Buffy.

When he finally found his voice, it came out in a dry cough, "I'm not."

Buffy squinted at him. "You sure? I mean, first, you're at the bakery, then the drugstore and now you're at the same bar as me?"

Dean blinked dumbly for a moment. "I'm -"

Buffy began to grin playfully. "I know. After all, you were here first, and at the bakery first. Maybe I'm following you," she teased with a soft push on his arm.

Dean tried to smile as he nodded.

"I'm not stalking you, I swear," she said when she saw his somewhat nervous face.

"Didn't think you were. I mean, why would you, right?" Dean asked sounding as nervous as he looked.

The bartender saved him by delivering his beer and placing a napkin in front of Buffy. "What'll it be, Buffy?"

"Margarita on the rocks, no salt."

Her order made Dean smile to himself. "Careful, those can be stronger than you think. I knew this girl who got sloppy drunk on those and I had to carry her home."

"Oh, I know my limit. And maybe that girl was looking for an excuse to get you to carry her?" Buffy asked as the bartender delivered her drink.

Dean's only response was a small smile. He motioned to his money. "I got it, here."

"No, you don't have to buy me a drink. I got it," Buffy said fumbling for her purse, hoping to get her wallet without letting him see the stake she carried.

The bartender rolled her eyes at Dean and Dean motioned to his money again. She was at the register by the time Buffy had her wallet in hand.

"Oh," she pouted, "Thank you." She shifted in her seat as if she were a little shy. "Well if you're going to buy me a drink, can you at least tell me your name?"

"Dean."

"I'm Buffy. Nice to meet you, Dean." She raised her drink in toast and clinked Dean's beer bottle.

Watching her suck at her straw sent Dean's mind to the gutter so fast it should have caused motion sickness. He quickly looked away and back to the television.

Buffy twisted in her seat. "So, Dean, what brings you to lovely Apalachicola in the off season?"

"Uh, sort of an impromptu vacation. My job got a bit, um, stressful, I guess. I kinda wanted some time off. How about you? What brings you here?"

Buffy gave him a small smile; maybe he wasn't a demon. "Kinda the same thing. Work got like beyond stressful but, despite that, I had a very successful year, big year, accomplished a lot. So, I thought I'd treat myself to a vacation."

Dean studied her for a moment, basking in the fact that she was there and not in the sink hole that Sunnydale had become. "Good for you, sounds like you deserve it." He tipped his beer to her.

She gave him an honest smile. "Thanks, Dean." Buffy stirred her drink so that she didn't have to look at him. Okay, she told herself, this guy is the cutest guy you've seen in months, maybe years. Don't blow it. Make sure he's not evil. "So, uh, where are you staying? I mean, how long are you staying?"

Dean wrinkled his brow in thought. "Uh, I don't know the name of the place. It's the one with the big, um," his hands formed a circle to illustrate his point, "sand dollar looking thing on the sign."

Buffy chuckled. "That's because it's called the SandDollar."

Dean grinned in slight embarrassment, "Right. I knew that. The SandDollar. And I'm not sure how long I'm staying."

Buffy nodded. "With the season over, this town got pretty quiet. You'll probably find it boring. The storm must have chased away some people, too."

"I don't mind quiet." Dean glanced at the radar on the television. "And it looks like the worst of the hurricane is going to miss this place." They sat quietly for a minute then Dean asked, "What about you, where are you staying? Or do you live here?"

"I rented a bungalow because I planned on staying for a while. It's small, but it's exactly what I wanted."

"Must be nice." Dean said implying that it must have cost a lot.

"Well, remember the 'way stressful job'? I made them pay for it." Dean moved back looking impressed. "Like I said before, verysuccessful year. Lots accomplished. Huge accomplishments. Let's just say they owed me."

Dean nodded and noticed that Buffy had nearly finished her drink. He really hoped that didn't mean she was leaving. He did a quick look around the bar hoping to find a reason for her to stay there. Dart board, definitely not playing darts, could be awkward. Pool table... "Hey, Buffy, do you play pool?"

Buffy made a face thinking that at least pool gave her a weapon. "I'm not very good, but I'll play if you want."

Dean smiled widely and called, "Hey, bartender, can I get some change over here?"

#*#*#*#*#*#

This is both the best and the worst idea you've ever had, Winchester, Dean told himself as he watched Buffy bend over the table for the break.

Buffy was never so happy to be bad at something. Her lack of pool playing skills meant Dean was spending most of the time bent over the table, and that was definitely okay by Buffy. She wished she had acted like she didn't know how to play, so that Dean would wrap around her to 'teach' her how to make a shot, but her competitive side hadn't let that happen. It didn't make her stop thinking about the feel of his arms around her, though.

Whoa, find out whether he's evil first. Besides, you're not the kind of girl that jumps random guys in bars, she told herself. Then, Dean winked at her as he sank another shot. For one night you could be that girl, Buffy, come on, you're on vacation. Just look at that guy, it would be so worth it, she pleaded with herself. She gave herself a mental slap. Remember, might be evil not just cute.

When Dean won the game, Buffy said, "I should buy you a drink for how easily you beat me." She hoped that didn't seem like a desperate attempt to keep his company, but there was something in the way Dean's eyes shifted from hers to her lips and back, that made Buffy tingle all over.

When Dean had no reaction to the Holy Water Buffy added to his beer, the Slayer relaxed. She hoped he wasn't a creepy human, but that was easier to handle than a demon. The moment Buffy began to let down her guard, Dean would touch her or look at her a certain way and she would feel a strange buzzing in her mind like a swarm of angry hornets.

#*#*#*#*#*#

Dean began to relax as the evening went on. Buffy may not remember him, but it was still fun to hang out with her.

"Hey, Buffy, better hope you have the top up on that jeep. It's coming down a like a sonuvabitch out there," the bartender called to her.

Buffy peeked out the window to see the rain, and muttered, "Crap."

"What's wrong? Forget to put the top up?" Dean asked.

"The jeep's fine. I walked here." She scowled when a quick look at the radar on the TV informed her the rain wasn't going to be over soon.

"I can give you a ride," Dean suggested, hoping it sounded like an innocent offer.

Trapped in a car with the guy, Buffy mused, not the best idea; but the weapons she carried in her purse would stop a human as easily as they'd stop a vampire.

"Thanks, I really appreciate it," she finally said.

Dean had hoped she'd let him take her home. He thought the more time they spent together the better the chance that she'd remember him.

Together they raced to the Impala. The moment she was inside the car, the swarm of angry hornets started buzzing even louder. Buffy winced and put a hand to her head. Somehow, she knew the door would creak when she opened it. She looked around the interior and knew if reached under her seat she'd find a Motley Crue cassette jammed in the rail.

Finally, she said, "Do you ever get deja vu?"

Yeah, all frickin' night. Dean shrugged, "Yeah, I guess, why?"

Buffy shrugged it off. Where had she seen this car before today?

"Which way do I go?" Dean asked, even though he knew exactly where her bungalow was.

"Follow Beach Front Road. I'm just a little ways down the street." Buffy leaned over to turn on the heat, knowing that if she did, she'd hear a rattle from the front vent.

#*#*#*#*#*#

The buzz of hornets was drowned out by the racing of her heart. As they neared her house, her every nerve was on edge. "Here!" she nearly shouted. "Pull in here."

The moment the car stopped, Buffy turned to him with wide eyes. "Who are you? What are you? What do you want from me?" She held her stake in her hand, but kept it hidden from Dean.

Dean stared at her in shock, not knowing what had made her question him like an attacker. "I'm nobody, Buffy. I don't want anything, I swear."

"Bullshit. You were following me today, I saw you drive by." She tried to growl menacingly, but the annoying buzzing in her brain was driving her crazy.

"I wasn't -" Dean began to explain, but Buffy cut him off.

"And I've seen this car before. I know this car. I knew the door would creak, I knew that vent would rattle, I know Doctor Feelgood is stuck under this seat!"

"I, I don't know," Dean stammered in shock. "We never met before today."

Buffy's eyes narrowed. "You seem like a nice guy, Dean, and I don't want to hurt you, but you better start telling the truth."

"I am. You don't know me." Dean looked away from her. "You should get inside. It's coming down pretty hard." When Buffy didn't make a move to leave, he added, "I'm not going to hurt you. Heck, if you want, I'll leave town in the morning. You can forget you ever saw me." Again.

The sadness in his expression tugged at something inside Buffy. Somewhere deep down, she knew she hadn't wanted to hurt him in this way. "Tell me who you are. How do I know you?" she demanded, grabbing his arm gently. The moment she touched his bare arm, the buzzing increased to a painful level. She hissed and her hands flew to her temples.

"Buffy?"

She fumbled for the door handle and practically fell out of the car. The buzzing was so loud, so painful, she could barely open her eyes and she began to stumble in the rain.

Dean rushed over to her, wrapping an arm around her to support her. "Buffy? What's wrong?"

She shoved him. "Get away from me!"

As Dean fell back, so did she. "Buffy, I'm trying to help you. I would never hurt you,” he said, pushing himself up.

An image of Dean saying those same words flashed in Buffy's mind. It felt like the buzzing was going to tear her head in two. She winced and held her head.

Confused at seeing her pain, Dean whispered, "Buffy?" and rushed to her aide.

She tried to look at him, she tried to push him away, but the pain was too intense and she fell.

Dean picked her up and carried her to her porch. He rifled through her bag for her keys, so he could get her in the house.

The moment he set her down, Buffy fought against the pain. Seeing his attention wasn't on her, she tried to move so she could attack, but instead, she crumbled against him.

"Buffy!" Dean grabbed her, unlocked the door, carried her into her house, and lay her on a couch. He tried the lights, but nothing had power. In a frantic search of the room, he found a jar candle and pulled his lighter from his pocket.

As he did, Buffy said, "Your lighter is gold and it's one of those old kinds that flip open. And you have a scar on your hand."

Dean faced her, staring at her in the near complete darkness. He was too stunned to speak.

"Dean, tell me how I know these things. Tell me who you are, please," she begged. The painful buzzing was quieter, but now she had the feeling of being in a thick fog.

With shaking hands, Dean lit the candle and set it on the table. Buffy had moved on the couch giving him a space to sit. He sat at the edge, ready to leave the moment she told him to. "I don't know how you know those things, because we never actually met before tonight," he said.

"Then, how do I know those things?"

"I saw you in Sunnydale once, but we only said a few words to each other." He watched the candle flicker so he wouldn't have to look at her. "You don't know me."

Buffy stared at him in the soft light from the candle, she knew there was more. She was struck with the sudden feeling that she knew exactly how his lips felt against hers; she knew the soft noise he made when she kissed his neck; she knew how that slight scruff - not quite beard felt under her fingers and beneath her lips.

She knew she was one step away from all the answers.

"That's not true," she whispered; moving closer to him. When he turned to her to argue, she kissed him. It was just a peck, but it didn't hurt and the buzzing was silenced. That was the answer. She blinked then leaned in and kissed him again.

This time as they kissed, Buffy was flooded with memories, every moment they shared that summer came rushing through her mind like a private clip reel.

"Dean," she gasped. "Dean."

He pulled back, wanting so much more, but she didn't know who he was. He would apologize, but the ache he felt kept him from speaking.

"Dean?" she gently stroked his cheek and he finally looked at her again.

Dean sucked in a breath when he saw recognition in her eyes. They stared at each other for what felt like an eternity. She knew him.

"Buffy?"

The next instant, Dean had Buffy in his lap. She was kissing his lips, his jaw, his neck and murmuring his name over and over.

"Why didn't you tell me who you were?" she asked, at last, though she didn't move out of their embrace.

"I didn't know how," he admitted, his eyes pleading for understanding. "What was I supposed to say? 'You don't know me, but I dreamt we spent this incredible summer together?' I didn't know if it was real."

Buffy continued to stare at him as she ran her fingers through his damp hair. "I thought you were dead."

"I went to see you in Sunnydale. Do you remember?" Buffy shook her head and fought her tears. "I went to check on your sister, like we had planned, but there you were, alive and you had cut your hair," he said quietly, taking up a blond lock and letting it slide through his fingers. Then, he smiled sadly. "And you were living with Billy Idol."

Buffy was confused for a moment. "Billy? – Oh. That was Spike. Not a -" How could she describe that relationship? "Spike was a friend."

Dean couldn't believe this was happening. He looked at her in awe. Tucking a strand of her damp hair behind her ear, he asked, “I'm not dreaming right? You're real. This is really happening?”

“Yes,” Buffy answered, kissing him again.

"We were going to have a baby," she whispered. She remembered the look on his face when she told him the news and tears formed. "Dean, our baby."

"I'm so sorry, Buffy," he whispered on a tight breath. Thinking of the last time they had been together, he thought about how ready he had been to give everything up to be with her. He gently caressed her cheek, wishing he could take away all the pain the memories caused her.

Buffy shook her head, Dean didn't have to apologize. "Ever since I came back, I felt like I had this, this hole, this big bottomless hole inside me, like I was missing something, something important, but I didn't know what it was." Buffy framed his face in her hands. "But now I do. It was you." She kissed him again, gently, willing him to believe her.

She crawled off his lap and curled up next to him. "Dean, I missed you so much that I had some type of demon block my memories of you. I would have these wonderful dreams about you, about us. Even after the demon did his magic, I would still see you in my dreams, sometimes, I just didn't know who you were," Buffy confessed.

"Me, too," Dean said. "I kinda hated those dreams. Everything would be great, then I'd wake up."

Buffy laughed in agreement. "I so know what you mean." She wrapped his hand in hers. "How long is this 'vacation' of yours?"

"I don't know. Today was the first day."

Buffy smiled to herself. "I have this place for ten more days."

"I could spend a day or two here, if you want," Dean suggested casually.

“I'd like that.” Buffy stood and pulled him up after her. "We should get out of these wet clothes before we catch a cold." Her hands were already tugging on his t-shirt.

Dean grinned and worked the buttons on her shirt. "Do you remember our favorite way to spend a rainy day?" he whispered as he peeled off her shirt and kissed her neck.

Buffy moaned softly as their damp bodies pressed together. "Remind me," she replied in a throaty whispered that made Dean's insides stir.

"I intend to make it something you never forget."



Thank you so much for reading. All your thoughtful reviews have really meant a lot to me. Thanks to TwistedSlinky who made some gorgeous art for the story over on lj if you care to look her up over there.

The End

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