Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters or parts of this storyline. They belong to the brains of The Whedon and The Kripke.
A/N: A big, fat thank you to TheDana! She definitely helped when it came to inspiration (this piece of hers
totally drove parts of this story) and honing where this story would go as well as giving me the best feedback and being my first reader and inflating my ego like a crazy person. I love you!Chapter Twenty-Two
Dean stared at the ground, leaning back against the Impala, his hands shoved into his pockets. He was looking at nothing, comprehending nothing as he waited for the other car to show. He found himself staring long and hard enough that he actually thought he saw Buffy’s face in the gravel before he forced himself to look up and around. He had parked near a little river next to a bridge on some dirt road.
He was waiting.
Waiting for what... now that was the million dollar question.
Suddenly the sound of heavy tires on the gravel pulled Dean from his reverie... from his memories as he pushed it all down, turning towards the car as it pulled it up. He watched Sam put the car back into gear before he got out. Sam hesitated for a second and then shut the door, walking towards his brother.
Dean stared at him. “Sam.”
Sam didn’t get a chance to reply as Dean pulled out the demon-killing knife, Ruby’s old knife, from inside his jacket and handed it to him, hilt first. “Here. If you’re serious and you want back in... you should hang on to this.” He paused before adding for his brother’s benefit, “I’m sure you’re rusty.”
Sam took the knife, staring at it before looking back into Dean’s face. He frowned as he noticed he looked older... much older than when he had last seen him. But he couldn’t meet his eyes as he averted his eyes back to the ground.
“Look, man,” Dean said, shaking his head as a hundred thoughts suddenly swam through his head. “I’m sorry. I don’t know, um... whatever I need to be. But I was, uh - wrong.”
“What made you change your mind?” Sam asked softly, finally looking at his brother. Just in time to see more than a lifetime’s emotions sweep across his face.
“Long story,” Dean rasped, closing his eyes as he everything raced through him. Buffy, Lucifer, Zachariah... everything. But Buffy’s face was the last thing he saw as a myriad of images rushed through him – memories that weren’t his but they sure as hell felt like his – before he once again pushed it down. Away. Out of his mind. Out of sight, out of mind... “The point is... maybe we are each other’s Achilles heel. Maybe they’ll find a way to use us against each other, I don’t know.” The flash of Buffy hanging from a rope came to the fore, the shock and the goddamn pain of seeing her lifeless… and he shook his head. No Buffy. No leverage. “I just know that we’re all we’ve got. More than that... We keep each other human.”
Dean felt his heart die a little.
“Thank you,” Sam said, offering a sad and uncomfortable smile. “Thank you, really. I won’t let you down.”
“Oh, I know it. I mean, you are the second-best hunter on the planet.” Dean pulled out his keys and moved back towards the driver’s side, ignoring everything in his mind that made him want to remember the other person who had been with him just a few days ago.
Sam nodded. “So, what do we do now?”
Dean shrugged, meeting Sam’s eyes. “We make our own future.”
“Guess we have no choice.”
**Sunnydale, California: The Other Reality
Buffy felt like she was being torn into a million pieces. Every single atom in her body screamed in pain and horror before she felt something like glue sticking her all back together. Then she felt a tug, a huge tug, and she was whirling through a tunnel in her mind as she was suddenly back in her body.
Sucking in a large gasp of air, Buffy opened her eyes, gasping, breathing too hard, panicking.
She couldn’t see. She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t hear anything. Buffy opened her mouth to scream but nothing came out but a rasp. A deathly rasp and she lifted her hands, her body but found she was trapped inside a small box. Somewhere deep, somewhere dark. Somewhere terrifying.
Scratching at the top of the coffin, Buffy opened her mouth and screamed with no voice, “Dean!”The End
And thank you so much to those who have stuck with the story despite my posting it like a crackhead. :)