Chapter Twenty-Four: Dean
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I owe you big time!Warning:
Some suggestive content.Disclaimer:
Buffyverse owned by Joss Whedon. Supernatural owned by Eric Kripke.
Chapter Twenty-Four: Dean
Something was tickling Dean's nose, but he wasn't ready to wake up yet. He'd been having a good dream. Actually, it was more of a memory than a dream.
He'd been sitting in the back seat of the Impala, too young to ride up front with Dad. Sammy was fidgeting in his car seat, the way he'd been doing for the last few days. Ever since they'd left home.
Dean could tell that Sammy was working up to a good scream, and Dad would pull over. He'd check to see if Sammy was hungry or needed changing, but he wouldn't find anything wrong because what was wrong with the baby wasn't something he could fix. What was wrong with the baby was wrong with them all.
Dad would quietly tell Dean to keep an eye on Sammy, stay in the car, and don't talk to strangers. Then he'd walk away. Sometimes, he'd be gone for several minutes. Sometimes, it was much longer. He would come back, eyes red, maybe a little glassy, and he'd slide behind the wheel and drive.
Dean didn't want that this time. He tried to shush Sammy, distract him with the metal car he'd picked up from the last gas station they'd gone to. He'd meant to bring it to Dad before they left, but Sammy had started fussing, and the station was barely a blip in the mirror by the time he remembered that it was still in his pocket.
Sammy, however, wasn't very interested in the toy. His face had started scrunching up, the way it did when he was ready to howl. Sneaking a glance at Dad, Dean unlatched Sammy from the car seat and put his little brother in his lap, holding him the way Mom showed him, careful to cradle his head.
The wrinkles in Sammy's face smoothed over, and he cooed happily. Dean rocked him in time with the gentle motion of the car, and soon they were both asleep. It was night by the time Dad woke him up, pulling Sammy from his arms. Dean had protested, sleepily, missing the warmth of the small body, the comfort of holding someone he loved.
He had that feeling again, that feeling of family, of belonging, as he sat cushioned in the back seat of his Impala. But it had been years since his little brother had curled up in his lap and slept, years since either of them had admitted to being weak, afraid of being alone and unloved. Sammy had grown up fiercely independent, always trying to do things on his own, without the help of his father or big brother.
Dean opened his eyes, looking down at the golden head of hair that had woken him up. He smiled as she snuggled in closer and buried her face into his bare chest. The soft curves of her body fit perfectly into his arms, filling in the empty spaces, as if she had been made just for him.
She wriggled again, her lips grazing his skin this time, and his smile turned into a grin. "Damn it, woman," he said, "your Slayer metabolism is gonna be the death of me."
Buffy giggled as she lifted her eyes to his. "Maybe I should have warned you that being my boyfriend is a very demanding position." She maneuvered herself so that she straddled his legs between hers. "Very demanding, indeed."
"Sweetheart, I think I'm quite happy with my position." His hand slid down her body and grasped her hip as the other slipped through her hair and brought her lips to his, pressing against her until she parted for him. "And more than capable of meeting your demands."
Her only response was a soft moan against his mouth, which he decided to take as agreement.
"How did things go with Sam and Giles today?" asked Buffy, her body nestled against him once more.
The Impala's windows had fogged up from their earlier exertions, blocking out the darkness of the cemetery. Dean wanted to stay here, shielded from the outside world by heavy metal doors and thick glass. He didn't want to talk about Sam or Giles or anyone who wasn't in the car right now. So he nuzzled her ear, tenderly kissing the whorls and curves of her skin.
"Dean," she said in protest, pulling away to look at his face. "That bad, huh?"
"Well, this has definitely been way more fun," he said. His wink was met with a roll of her eyes. He sighed. This must be the not-so-much-fun part of being a boyfriend. "Researching is just not my thing. But Sammy and Giles obviously have a lot in common. I think your Watcher is trying to recruit my little brother."
"Sam would make a great Watcher. Even at sixteen, he's probably had more experience than most of the old windbags on the Council." Buffy's enthusiasm suddenly faded. "Except that Giles isn't part of the Council anymore."
"He got fired from being a Watcher?" asked Dean. He couldn't imagine the stuffy, proper Englishman doing anything out of line.
"It was a stupid test where they drugged me to take away my powers and had me fight a vampire using my wits and human strength," she said. There was a hard gleam in her eyes as she spoke, that streak of anger that he remembered from the night they'd met. "The vamp got loose and turned one of the Council members who was guarding him. They ate the other one.
"Giles told me about the test, and I was so angry with him. He was supposed to be Watching me
, not putting me in harm's way." Her hands curled into little fists, and he felt the pain in her voice. "He realized that too, I guess, and told the Council to shove it. But not before the vamp had taken my mother.
"I passed the test," she said in a flat, even tone. "A clever application of Holy Water burned him from the inside out. Giles staked the former Councilman. When we got back, the head of the Council fired Giles for interfering. Said his concern for me 'rendered him incapable of clear and impartial judgment'."
Sam had been right. Giles was as much a father to her as their dad was to them. And he could see that she was still hurting from his betrayal, even though he'd turned his back on the Council and chosen her. She might have forgiven him, but she hadn't forgotten.
"Anyways, I told them to leave before I got my strength back," said Buffy, a bit of cheerfulness creeping back into her voice. "We haven't had any dealings with them since. Unless you count Wesley. He was Faith's Watcher and stuck around when she went psycho. He's pretty useless, though. Couldn't even get them to bend the one time we did ask for help."
"And you and Giles are thinking this is a career choice for my little brother?" asked Dean, raising his eyebrow.
"I think he'd be more of a Gilesy kind of Watcher instead of an asshat like Travers," she said with a shrug.
After spending the day with them, Dean could see that Sam looked up to Giles in a way that he didn't look up to anyone else in their lives. Not him, not Dad, not even Bobby. And Bobby was the most intellectual guy they knew, who read dozens of languages and had a house full of books. But he was just as crude and gruff as any other hunter, preferring plaid shirts and trucker hats to tweed and glasses.
"What about me?" he said, pretending to look offended. "Aren't I Watcher material?"
Slayer already has a Watcher, and I'd rather not have you Watching any others." She slipped her arms around his shoulders and kissed him, claiming him as her own. "Besides, it's not as fun to watch."
"You're right," he said with a soft chuckle. He kissed her again, threading his fingers through her hair. Like golden wheat.
"What?" She had a puzzled expression on her face, and he realized that he'd spoken aloud.
"Your hair. It-it reminds me of golden wheat fields." His eyes dropped to the lock of hair in his hand. "Not just any fields, though. The ones in Kansas.
"That's where I was born," he said. "Lawrence, Kansas. We lived there until I was about five. Until my mom died."
She was quiet and still, and he was thankful for that. He hadn't planned on telling her this tonight. He didn't know why, but it was important that she knew.
"There was a fire. I heard Dad calling Mom's name." He licked his lips, remembering the smoke and the heat, the fear and panic. "He put Sammy in my arms and told me to run outside. 'Don't look back,' he said. But I did. And I couldn't see Mom anywhere."
He could feel a tear run down his face. Buffy put her hand on his cheek, and the tear disappeared in the warmth of her touch.
"It was a demon," said Dean, "a demon with yellow-eyes. Dad's tracked it as much as he could. And we've been hunting everything else in the meantime."
Now that the words were out, he felt better. But he was still scared to look into her eyes, scared to see pity for the motherless child he'd been. The one he still was.
"We may not have access to the full Council," she said, apologetically, "but Giles still has all his books. And a lot of contacts. I'm sure if we pool our resources together, we'll be able to find this yellow-eyed demon."
"You really think so?" he asked, glancing up at her. There was sadness there, but no pity. "I mean, Dad's got a lot of contacts and hasn't found much."
"The Council is an international organization that's fought against evil for generations," said Buffy, a wry smile on her lips. "I'm pretty sure they've got something in their archives. It's just a matter of accessing them."
"Have I told you that you are the best
girlfriend I've ever had?"
"You told me I'm the only
girlfriend you've ever had," she said, rolling her eyes.
"I never said there was a lot of competition." He laughed as she glared back at him. And it only took a few kisses for her frown to fade away.
It was half past two by the time Dean dropped Buffy off at her dorm and got back to the motel room. He tried to be careful as he opened the door, but he still heard the click as he stepped inside.
"It's me, sir," he said.
Dad sat at the table, chair facing the door, his single-action revolver cocked and pointed towards the door. Dean raised his hand, his ring glinting in the dim light, proof that he wasn't a shapeshifter since the silver would have burned his skin.
Dad lowered the gun, uncocked it, and set it on the table. "We need to talk, Dean."
As unconventional as his upbringing had been, Dean still knew that those words uttered from his father's mouth was never a good thing. He braced himself as he took a seat across the table, moving as quietly as he could because Sammy was fast asleep only a few feet away.
"When I came back from the war," Dad said, setting two glasses on the table, "I was a mess. I didn't look as bad as some of the other guys in my unit, but the things I'd seen... the things I'd done..."
He trailed off, lost in his memories. Over the years and the miles of cross-country driving, Dean had met most of his father's old war buddies and heard his stories. But he had a feeling this one was going to be different.
Dad shook off his thoughts and pulled out a bottle wrapped in a paper bag, pouring brown liquid into the glasses. He pushed one towards his son, took a sip from his own, and continued his story. "I met your mother after I came back. Her family had moved into town while I was gone. She was a firecracker, that one. So full of life."
Dean raised his glass to his lips, feeling the liquor burn as it made its way down his throat. This stuff must be stronger than usual because the burn was making his eyes water.
"Being with her, courting her – it kept me sane." His father took another large swallow from his cup. "If I had known that I would have so few years with her, I would have..."
"Dad," said Dean, feeling helpless in the face of his father's grief. If it had been Sammy, he could have pulled him into a hug. But this was John Winchester. He didn't do chick-flick moments.
"I fell in love with her, son. I still love her." He tossed back the remains of his glass and set it firmly on the table. "It's what keeps me going. Finding the piece of shit that killed her."
The liquor had finally worked its way through him, burning from the inside until all that was left was resolve and determination. This was the man Dean knew, driven and tough. This was the father he'd grown up with, the one he idolized.
"You've changed, Dean," he said, leveling a hard stare at his son. "I could tell when I saw you this afternoon."
"I haven't—" Dean stopped himself mid-protest. Sam had said as much a few days ago. And he had finally realized the point of his father's story. "I don't know how I feel about her, but I think I might..."
"She knows? About who you are and what you do?"
"Yeah, she knows." If there was a perfect time to tell his father about Buffy being a Slayer, this was it. But he couldn't bring himself to do it. It wasn't his secret to tell. Instead, he said, "Dad, I... I think I want to stay in Sunnydale."
His father reached over and took Dean's glass, still half-full, and drank from it. He nodded towards the other side of the room. "What about Sammy?"
"I think-I think Sammy would like to stay here, too."
"You don't think I can take care of him." The words sounded like an accusation, but there was no harshness in his tone. He stated it as a fact. One they both knew. "Not the way you do."
"I just think he'd like to stay in one place for a while," Dean said. "He's not like you and me."
"You and me, huh?" said his father, letting out a grim chuckle. He stared at the two empty glasses in front of him, but didn't refill either of them. "And you think you'll be happy here? Staying in one place?"
"I think I'd like to try."
His father raised his eyes to meet his son's. "What if I say no?"
"With respect, sir," said Dean, holding his father's gaze, "I'm old enough to decide on my own life."
"Where Sammy goes, you go." It was another statement. Another fact of their lives.
Dad unscrewed the cap and poured out another measure of alcohol in one of the glasses. "She must be a hell of a girl, your Buffy."
"Yes, sir, she is."
"I'll think about it." His father took another long swallow, draining his glass. "But you're right, Dean. You're a man now, have been for a long time. If you think you can carve out a little slice of heaven, I can't stop you."
"I'm not shooting for heaven, sir. I'll settle for apple pie." Dean smiled, ruefully, as he remembered his most recent slice of apple pie. He looked back at his father, who was already pouring himself another drink. "Dad, I'm... I'm just a phone call away if you need back up on a hunt."
"I know, son," he said, quietly, sipping from his glass. "I know."
Next up Chapter 25: Sam
Something's different today. Maybe it's the way Dean and Dad have been acting. Or maybe it has something to do with the giant sinkhole that just appeared.