Buffy was stuffed. The steaks and potatoes Bobby had made for dinner made her realize that it was over five days since she had had a real meal. And she had relished every bite. The look on Dean’s face said she wasn’t the only one. She didn’t know anyone could look that happy for a rib eye.
The three of them had been in the kitchen all evening, trying to get any kind of idea on what was going on. Dean had told her about his family, the Yellow Eyed Demon, and the Deal. She had to admit that she had a lot of respect for him, even if he could be an ass. But it was hard to be mad at someone who had sold his soul so his brother could live.
They didn’t know who or what had brought Dean back. There weren’t many witches powerful enough to do the resurrection spell, even if there was another Urn of Osiris to be found. It seemed very unlikely that a demon would pull Dean out of Hell because of the contract. And ever since Buffy had destroyed the Seed of Wonder, the Powers That Be were forever cut off from this dimension.
“It don’t make a lick of sense,” Bobby grumbled again. The three of them had been going round and round over who could have broken the terms of the contract and brought Dean back.
“Yeah, you’re preaching to the choir here, man,” Dean said as he rubbed his eyes. He looked over at Buffy, who was leafing absentmindedly through some of the books Bobby had, trying to find answers. He was surprised that he liked the fact that she was willing to help him when he had really given her no reason to.
“Dean, your chest was ribbons and your insides were slop. And you’d been buried for four months! Even if you could slip out of Hell and back into your meat suit…”
“I know,” Dean interrupted. “I should look like a Thriller video reject.”
“I woke up pretty when I died and was brought back.” The two sets of male eyes turned to Buffy, who shrugged.
“You mean, you’ve died and were brought back?” Dean asked, ignoring the emotions that came when he thought of her dying. What the hell was wrong with him? Was everyone this emotional when they came back to life?
“Yeah, umm, about seven years ago,” Buffy said before looking back to her book, embarrassment making her blush slightly. She hadn’t really wanted to dwell on that topic but she was proof that it could be done. At least Dean was handling life better than she had, post-grave.
“How did you...” Dean was looking intently at her. There was more to this woman than just good looks.
“My friend Willow,” Was all Buffy said, in a tone that made it clear she did not want to talk about it. She knew how most hunters felt about witches and didn’t think Dean would be any exception to that rule.
Dean thought about what Buffy had said and it suddenly hit him.
“Dammit Sammy!” Dean paced back and forth across the kitchen. He should have known. It’s what he would have done in his brother’s place.
“What are you talking about, Dean? What does Sam have to do with this?” Bobby said.
“Bobby, why did you bury me? Why not salt and burn me like you should have?”
“I wanted to, Dean, but Sam wouldn’t have it.” The older hunter had wanted to forget that night, seeing so much pain and anguish in the younger brother. The rift between the two of them had started that night.
“Well, I’m glad he won that one.” Dean tried to add a little humor into situation. He didn’t like where his mind was going, because where it led was a dark path that ended with a promise made to his father.
“He said you would need a body when he got you back home somehow, ” Bobby said, thinking back months ago. How quiet and secretive Sam was before he took off.
“Oh, he got me home all right. But whatever he did, it is bad mojo.”
“What makes you say that?” Bobby asked. He wouldn’t put it past any of the Winchesters to do something foolish for their family. Bunch of idjuts, the whole lot of them.
“You should have seen the gravesite. It was like a nuke went off there,” Dean said as he sat back down in his chair.
“And there was a presence, this force. It was there after I pulled Dean out,” Buffy said. “I could feel it. It’s powerful. And it knew Dean’s name.”
“You think some demon hitched a ride when I was yanked out?” Dean asked her. Buffy nodded. That was what had happened when Willow resurrected her. She told the same to the two hunters.
“But how?” Bobby asked.
“I think Sam made a deal with a demon and that thing must have been a part of it. It makes sense and hell, it’s what I would have done.”
The next step, it had been decided, was to find out where Sam Winchester was. Dean was calling the cell phone company to Sam’s other number, trying to get them to turn on the GPS so they could track him down.
Standing and stretching, Buffy walked over to Bobby, making sure to keep her voice low while Dean was on the phone.
“Bobby, do you have any extra sweats I could borrow?” Buffy whispered. “All my clothes got wet in that downpour yesterday and I am seven kinds of grody.”
“I’ll get you something of Karen’s.” Buffy knew that Karen had been Bobby’s wife and she had been dead for several years. It felt a little weird to be wearing a dead woman’s clothes but there wasn’t much of a choice; she was in desperate need of a shower and a change.
“Thanks Bobby.” She gave his arm a squeeze to show her appreciation . Dean was still on the phone with the cell phone company, trying to get the GPS location of Sam’s phone.
“Yes, thank you very much, Amy. You’ve been a big help.” Dean hung up the phone and turned back to the computer. By the time Bobby came back down they knew that Same was in Pontiac, Illinois
A shower was just what Buffy had needed. If she was going to face a Big Bad, let it be after a hot, steamy shower! She massaged the shampoo into her scalp for the second time. Bobby had surprised her with some of her own shampoo and conditioner she had left here from her last visit. The fresh scent of grapefruit helped her feel refreshed, once she finished washing away four days worth of grime. Steam filled the bathroom as she dried herself off and slipped into the simple white sundress Bobby had provided. She found that she rather liked it and was surprised at how well it fit. Once again all girly, Buffy left the bathroom and checked on her laundry that was in the wash. Buffy took out her fully charged cell and made a few calls. The first one was to her sister Dawn. They chatted for a few minutes as Buffy told her that a friend of Bobby’s needed her help and she wasn’t sure when she would back to L.A. Dawn, being Dawn, tried to extract every morsel of detail about what going on and only stopped hounding her sister when Buffy just hung up on her when Dawn asked if her dream man was hunky. The next call was to Faith. There, all Buffy had to do was leave a message letting her know that she still lived and it wasn’t Apocalypse Now status yet.
Calls made, Buffy tried on the sandals Bobby had given her to wear but found they were just too small. Damn, she was going to have to wear hiking boots with a sun dress. This had to be the biggest fashion sin she had committed since that time she tried to pull off the sailor look when they had all gone to San Diego. Shuddering with the memory, she made her way back to the bathroom, where she had left her boots, and pushed open the slightly ajar door.
What Buffy hadn’t expected to find was a half naked, shirtless Dean hunched over the bathroom sink. He had a tight grip on the white porcelain and his face was ashen. He turned his eyes to hers and for moment the two of them didn’t move. Dean broke the contact, heaving himself onto the counter, and turned to the Slayer.
“Ever hear of knocking?” He said gruffly. He was still reeling from the sudden flashback of his time in Hell, he didn’t need her here too. He damn sure didn’t need her pity.
Whatever apology had been on her tongue stuck there once she caught sight of his chest as he turned to face her, hand resting on the door. Damn, that had to be the best looking chest she had seen in a long time. Smooth, tanned skin over six pack abs. It didn’t any more drool-worthy than that!
Get it together, Summers!
Before she could excuse her intrusion, her eyes drifted to his shoulder and widened even more at what she saw there. A blistered handprint marred the skin on his left shoulder. Instantly, Buffy knew that this was a supernatural injury. Whatever had pulled Dean from Hell had left it’s mark.
Dean had been surprised when Buffy had barged into the bathroom dressed in a simple white sundress that showed off her tanned shoulders and legs. He had been getting ready to take a shower himself when he saw the huge blister on his shoulder for the first time. He didn’t know what the hell to make of the handprint blistered into his skin. Was that from what had dragged him out of Hell? Or was it from something piggy-backing on his ticket out? Not hat either thought made him feel any better. Then he was gripped with the sudden memory of his time in Hell. He could feel his flesh ripping away from his bones as he lay on the rack. Then, just as fast as it came, it was gone. That’s when she had found him. Little Miss Sunshine, with her golden hair and citrus scent, looking more like Heaven than anything he had ever seen.
Buffy felt her feet move and before she knew it, she was standing next to him in the small bathroom. She knew something was bothering the hunter. She could see it in his haunted eyes, she had seen that look before in the face of a man she had loved. Gently, her hand raised until her fingertips were just a hair’s breadth away from the blistered mark. But before she could touch him, he grabbed her hand and held it in a crushing grip.
“Don’t.” The words were spoken harshly and desperately. He didn’t know why she was intruding into his life but he couldn’t take her being nice to him. He just didn’t deserve it, not after what he'd done.
The second his hand engulfed hers, Buffy had felt a jolt that coursed through her entire body. She didn’t know what was going on with this man, she didn’t even particularly like him most of the short time she had been around him. But there was no denying that she was attracted to him. Very attracted.
“Not interrupting anything, am I?” Bobby’s voice called out from the bathroom doorway, breaking the two of them apart.
Buffy shot a look at Dean before she pulled her hand from his grasp and grabbed her boots that were next to the vanity. “I just had to get my boots,” She said, before she quit the room.
Dean watched her go before he turned his gaze to Bobby. The older man was staring at the mark on his shoulder, questions burning in his eyes.
“Bobby, man, I know you got questions, but I don’t have any answers for you,” Dean said. “Now, can I please be allowed to shower alone? Or at least send Blondie back, will ya. She‘s a little more my type.”
Bobby leveled him a stern look before he also left. Dean gave a sigh of relief before he finished undressing and stepped into the shower.
Half an hour later, Bobby, Dean and Buffy stood next to a late seventies single cab pickup truck, loading their bags into the bed. Dean opened the door and gestured for Buffy to crawl in first. The Slayer was more than a little apprehensive about a four-hour ride sitting between the two Hunters. There wasn’t much room for three adults to sit without touching, even as small as she was, and everyone knew it. Bobby, for his part, just ignored the awkwardness between them and climbed in and started the engine.
“What happened to the Nova?” Dean asked, after closing his door and shifting his body around so that Buffy could have a little more room working her legs around the stick shift on the floor. In the end, she settled for placing both legs to the right of the shifter and gave Dean an apologetic look as her knees touched his. This was going to be a long ride.
“Blew the heads on her trying to catch some scum demons who had kidnapped a family. Happened a few weeks ago. I haven’t had time to go in and replace them.” This was followed by half an hour of shop talk between the two men. Buffy spent her time sending a few texts, letting her friends know where she was heading. There was no use for her in the conversation, and so she let her mind drift toward more pleasant things, like new shoes.
Buffy felt her eyelids grow heavy as Bobby’s truck hummed down the interstate. They had only been on the road for a little over an hour but the effects of a full stomach and lack of sleep from previous days were catching up to her. Soon she was sleeping peacefully, surprisingly warmed when Dean put his plaid shirt over her.
Dean looked down at Buffy as she slept. He had covered her with his flannel shirt when he noticed that she was freezing in that little sun dress she was wearing. Shortly after that, her head had dropped to his shoulder and soon she was breathing deeply and evenly. His mind fought with his emotions on what he should do about her. He wanted to draw her close and bury his face into the silky hair that smelled like sunshine. He wanted to take comfort in the warmth he felt with her body next to his, to find out if her lips were as soft as they looked. But he couldn’t, shouldn’t, do any of that. It didn’t matter if she really was the Slayer. He was a damned monster and the sooner she realized that, the better. Yes, that was what he told himself, even as he shifted slightly and placed his left arm around her, to draw her closer as she snuggled into his side. He would be a dick and send her on her way, later.
“Yeah Dean,” The older hunter replied, keeping his eyes on the road.
“What are we going to do with Sleeping Beauty here?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, this isn’t her problem. Why the hell get her involved in the fucked up lives of the Winchesters, huh?”
“You really think we are going to be able to stop her? She’s the freaking Slayer, Dean. This is what she does. Don’t let the blond hair fool you. That girl has stopped more apocalypses than anyone,” Bobby said. Dean opened his mouth to argue but Bobby kept talking. “She didn’t save me from a Jurogumo Demon.”
“I knew it!” Dean exclaimed. No way the pint-sized Barbie next to him could take out a monster like that.
“She saved me from a whole goddamn nest of them, Dean. I was in Japan a couple of years ago, visiting a friend, and I heard some rumors about a bunch of men going missing in this small village in the Kurama mountains. I tracked it down to a cave there and went in to torch the bitch.” He paused as he rubbed his hand over face and looked down at the little blonde that had saved his ass then. “There were five of them, sisters I think. And there had to be hundreds of egg sacks in there. I really thought that that was it for me, you know. One of the bitches got me from behind, bit me and paralyzed me with her venom. I knew it was the end of the line. Then Buffy was there and I ain’t ever seen anything like it, Dean. It was brutal and a few times I thought she was done for, but she did it somhow ith nothing but guts and a red axe. I’m telling you, boy, you don’t turn down help from the Slayer.”
Dean and Bobby were quiet after that conversation, each lost in their own thoughts. By the time they crossed into the city limits of Pontiac, it was almost three o’clock in the morning. Buffy had woken earlier, surprised to find herself cuddled up next to Dean. He had seen the slight blush that crept to her cheeks when she handed him back his flannel. He had just taken the offered shirt with no comment and went back to staring out the window. He was too occupied with thought about what Sammy may had done to get his ass out of Hell to say much of anything to anyone.
Bobby killed the engine and the three of them slid out and began walking to the old hotel across the street. Buffy had been able to get the clerk to tell her which room Sam was in. Dean had watched her as she flirted with overweight loser behind the desk. His eyes had narrowed as she leaned forward to give a better view of her breast. That must have been some view because the next moment she was skipping out, grinning at the two men.