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.
I apologize for the not-so-quick update! What with the holiday last week (for those that celebrate Turkey Day, I hope you got mucho pie! That is what that day is for right...?) and my boss's daughter's ginormous wedding, I had to interact with people instead of doing what I prefer.
Thank you, thank you for the wonderful reviews and favorites! Really, I can't explain how much reviews mean to me and how much it means to hear what you guys think, it makes me write faster (seriously, I write scenes at work - it's a sickness). And on that note, I'm trying a new technique with updating this story: I'm writing a few chapters before I post anything to make sure everything stays linear. I'm also reserving the right to go back and make slight changes/additions as I continue but nothing major will change.
*Chapter TwoHe ran through the small, abandoned area, the brick on the buildings crumbling, looking old and grey against the lackluster sky as he ran at full speed, his shotgun feeling slippery in his fingers, a cold sweat sticking to his skin. The air was chilly and foggy, making him feel like he was suffocating, like he couldn’t get oxygen as he pushed air harshly through his nostrils.
But he didn’t care. He had to get there.
That stupid, stupid fucking woman. Always doing something rash, something so goddamn stupid, he was willing to bet she got a kick out of it or something. Did all of it just because it made him feel like his intestines were braiding together with worry. He was pretty sure he was on his third ulcer, all with the name ‘Buffy’ stamped on them.
If anything happened to her... to Sam...
He was going to tie her down in his trunk, put a leash on her so every time they disagreed about anything she thought she was right about, she didn’t disappear like this...
Dean rounded the corner, his chest burning, his legs aching from running before he skidded to a stop, his body slowly filling with horror as the scene registered.
A couple hundred feet before him, Buffy hung from a balcony, a thin, rough rope wrapped tightly around her neck multiple times, forming a blocky hold on her. She swayed slightly in the air; she was limp, her head twisted at the wrong angle, her eyes closed...
Dean choked on the air he tried to suck in but he didn’t even comprehend it as he watched her. He felt his entire world falling around him, piece by piece, as he fought to make sense of what he was seeing... his mind scattered to the winds as he stared at her, at her lifeless body where it hung. He couldn’t think, he couldn’t move...
Buffy was dead.
“No,” he whispered, his body shaking as he took a few steps forward. Like tunnel vision, he didn’t see anything but Buffy swinging from the rope, just... there, lifeless... and he felt something hot and stinging on his face as he took a few more steps, his feet suddenly very heavy, his gun forgotten, falling to the ground with a loud clunk. “No, no, no...”
She didn’t move.
“Buffy!” he shouted, his voice not working as a single tear streamed down his face, creating an unnatural pressure in his throat. “No!”
And then he was running, towards her, the world shaking around him as he stared at her, quickly approaching and she still didn’t move.
She didn’t respond. She didn’t get up like she was just lying on the couch, taking a nap. Didn’t look at him with so much annoyance she looked ready to poke him in the eye. Didn’t tell him to fuck off when he knew he had pissed her off...
Because she was gone.
“Buffy!” Dean shouted, his voice short, almost reaching her...
They weren’t alone.
Sam suddenly appeared right next to her and Dean stopped abruptly, breathing heavily, painfully, and he tripped over his feet, falling to his knees as he watched Sam reach up, snapping his fingers. Just like that, the rope was gone and Buffy’s body fell into Sam’s arms.
“Oh god,” Dean whispered brokenly, his mind quickly jumping. That wasn’t Sam. He knew that wasn’t Sam. He knew it in his gut, his entire body reacting to the sensation as he stared at his brother’s shell.
It had happened... he’d let it happen. He’d let his brother die... And now Buffy...
Sam - no, not Sam, Lucifer - looked up at him, his face twisted in what he probably thought was compassion as he laid Buffy down on the ground gently, her head lolling limply to the side. Dean couldn’t move as he watched the scene unfold, couldn’t even remember that he knew he had the power to move, as he watched Sam’s fingers touch Buffy’s temple.
Dean sucked in a deep, agonizing breath as he watched, watched Lucifer - in his brother’s body - touching Buffy, touching her pale, ashen face, her hollow looking eyes... His brother’s calm, uneven face. Not his brother. No more Sam...
Sam was gone.
“Damn it,” Dean moaned, another tear leaking from his eye, feeling everything that the last three years had been leading to building inside him. This wasn’t supposed to happen, damn it. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. They were supposed to stay apart, stay away from each other, prevent the goddamn Apocalypse... but Sam had said it. He’d said yes.
And Buffy had had to die to make it happen. Buffy had died, his Buffy had fucking died... and now he’d lost Sammy...
Dean felt everything inside him snapping - everything he’d kept down, kept tucked away, knowing... hoping... that they had been doing the right thing, that they had made the right choice by staying away from each other - as Sam stood, staring down at her when Buffy suddenly came back to life, gasping for air, her eyes shooting open. Dean felt like someone was shredding his innards as he sucked in a wet breath, watching them, the shock numbing him. Sam’s eyes stared down at Buffy and she met his gaze fearfully. He nodded to her before looking at Dean.
“A promise is a promise,” he said serenely. “I’m not a monster.”
Then he was gone, in the blink of an eye, the sound of wings filling the area for a second before silence rained down.
“Oh no... no, no, no,” Dean whispered painfully, his voice catching as more tears fell, the moment sinking in. Sam was gone. Sam was gone, he was gone... Dean let out a tiny noise, strangled as he slumped down, feeling more tears cascading, his eyes hot and burning. He looked up as Buffy stood, touching her neck, staring at him with an unreadable look.
He wanted to scream. He wanted to hit her and then hit Sam. He wanted to be happy she was alive... happy that he’d only had to see her gone for just a second and now she was back... but at what cost?
At what fucking cost...
Dean shook his head as she approached, whispering his brother’s name agonizingly before hers. She leaned down, her face crumpled, her own tears falling as she touched his cheek with trembling fingers.
“Oh Dean,” she whispered. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
“Damn it,” he choked out, holding his face as Buffy pulled him into her arms and Dean collapsed against her, pressing his face against her breast as he let out another sob, Buffy holding him as close as she could, whispering over and over that she was sorry as he shook against her...
Dean woke with a gasp, sitting up straight in bed, breathing heavily. The bedroom was still dark and it was damn cold in there. He looked around, swallowing, his throat dry. He let out a broken breath as he replayed the memory, his stomach clenching with agony: Buffy hanging from the building, dead. Sam, no longer Sammy. Lucifer... the anger he knew that quickly followed when he put two and two together that Sam had only said yes because fucking Buffy was there. Because Lucifer had used her as leverage to get Sam’s meat suit and Sam had agreed, because he knew how much Buffy meant to his brother...
Dean rubbed his face, immediately pulling his hands back when he felt the wetness. Frowning, Dean rubbed the salty liquid away before swinging the comforter back.
“Dean, what is it?” Lisa asked from the other side of the bed. Dean felt her hand on his bare back and he shrugged it off.
“Nothing,” he said gruffly, forcefully swallowing to moisten his throat. He wiped his face off, feeling Lisa sit up behind him. “I’m fine.”
“Dean, you were crying-“
“I said I was fine, Lisa,” Dean snapped, barely glancing at her over his shoulder before leaning down, grabbing his shirt off the floor. He shrugged it on, straightening it as it twisted around his back. He didn’t get up for a moment and a heavy silence fell on the room as the images flickered in his mind, bouncing against his skull with a vengeful pressure. His voice cracked when he spoke. “I’m gonna go downstairs... for a bit.”
“Okay,” Lisa said softly behind him, her voice deceivingly neutral. He got out of the bed, moving awkwardly, feeling Lisa’s eyes drilling into his back as he left the room, leaving her alone in their bed.
Buffy’s boots echoed in the large abandoned warehouse as she walked slowly through the space. She studied her surroundings, her eyes catching everything, her head moving around mechanically.
She’d missed the show on this one.
Running her finger across the edge of a rusty metal workbench, she pulled it back and stared at the dust before looking at the mark she’d left behind. An easy deception, something an amateur would assume.
These charmers didn’t need the entire space. They only preferred the seclusion and only needed a few ropes, some needles and then they were in business.
Looking around once more, she shrugged before glancing up at the ceiling. Buffy paused, cocking an eyebrow. Three large cables hung from the vaulted ceiling of the warehouse, dangling down just far enough for someone to reach up and snag them. Large loops were tied together at the end, enough to use them as anchors for something much heavier than a few boxes.
Buffy didn’t bother trying to test that theory. Instead, she made her way back outside.
It was spring but Buffy could still see her breath when she slid the warehouse door open, not bothering to close it. She wouldn’t be back, nobody would care. If the cops happened on this warehouse, they wouldn’t find anything worthwhile. It was getting smarter, catching on.
Pulling her jacket in closer around her shoulders, ignoring the itch, Buffy grabbed the helmet off her seat where she’d left it, slipping it on unceremoniously before straddling her bike, ripping it to life.
She was getting close. She could feel it.
With a large burst of sound, she slipped the bike into gear, taking off violently, leaving behind a spray of gravel and a large cloud of dust as she headed back towards the road, leaving the large warehouse to its seclusion.
“Jeez, you look like crap.”
“Wow, thanks, Sid,” Dean replied, sliding into the barstool next to his friend at their bar. He felt like crap and now he looked like crap. Although he didn’t need either a mirror or someone telling him this, he could only imagine the pale skin, the circles under his eyes and the glare he shot every single person who even looked at him.
He smiled at the bartender, Karen, when she sidled up next to them. “Scotch, double, neat.”
“Comin’ up,” she said with a smile and a little wink. Dean just smiled tightly in return. He wasn’t in the mood to play into Karen’s little flirts tonight. He just wanted to get some goddamn alcohol to scrub his brain with like a normal, warm-blooded person who hadn’t slept a decent night in well over a month.
Dean glanced at Sid who was staring at him. “No, seriously, I don’t think liquor is your friend tonight, man.”
“Yeah, well,” Dean said warily, rubbing his face as the lady behind the bar set the tumbler on a napkin before him. He shot her a half-assed smile to which she smirked before grabbing the cup. He tilted it to Sid. “You know what they say.” He slammed the drink before waving at Karen again.
“No, what do they say?”
Dean opened his mouth but nothing came out. He shrugged, putting his hand on the filled glass when she set it before him again and shot Sid a smirk. “I don’t know, man, whatever they say about alcohol.”
“Okay, whoa, let’s take a step back here,” Sid said, putting his hands up and Dean just stared at him. He felt a deeper exhaustion settling in his bones than he remembered feeling for a long time. What he would do to sleep for five fucking minutes without seeing his face, her face...
Every single damn time he closed his eyes, he was seeing either Sam or Buffy. The first time he hadn’t dreamt about Sam was well over a month ago, the first time he had gotten some relief only it was replaced with memories of Buffy... of the five years that never were. And now they took turns, pulling up certain Fun Sam and Buffy Facts and slapping his brain with them whenever he drifted off. It was driving him up the fucking wall. None of it was helped that he was starting to feel a weird sense of resentment towards Buffy as her dreams became more and more frequent... because it meant he wasn’t seeing Sam even though he had prayed for that relief for months...
He just wanted darkness. Oblivion. Some damn peace.
“What the hell happened to you?”
Dean shook his head, rubbing his face once more, his eyelids feeling heavy and scratchy and he fought the urge to lay his head down on the bar. He still had to drive home, damn it. “Man, I can’t even...”
Sid angled his head, trying to catch Dean’s eye but Dean just focused his gaze on the amber liquid. “Wow. Are you toasted already?”
“What?” Dean asked, giving him an annoyed look. “No. No, I just had a bit of a... rough night, that’s all.”
Sid held out his hands in the universal ‘spit-it-out’ gesture and Dean just looked at him. Sid shrugged. “Come on.”
“Oh, no,” Dean drawled and Sid interrupted him, “How many months have we been coming here and how often have you not said a word about anything going on inside that freaky head of yours?”
Dean frowned at his choice of words, shooting him a look before taking all his scotch down in one gulp again. He once again motioned to Karen as a memory of talking to Sam filtered through his mind... Amazing how a few words could bring up the most vivid memories. Hell, amazing how a few thoughts could bring up the most vivid dreams.
Dean shrugged. “It’s nothing.”
Sid snorted and Dean turned to him again, a small smirk on his face. The strange thing was he wanted to talk. He needed to talk about it. It wasn’t just a need to get Sid off his back, he really needed to talk to someone and make sure he wasn’t going bat shit crazy on accident. He couldn’t believe that he was just seeing things; he knew there was a reason that the only thing he could dream about was suddenly Buffy-related.
But then again, maybe this was just the inevitable happening - he didn’t have Sam here, he didn’t have the hunt, he didn’t have anything but these memories, constantly pushing at him, pressing in.
He couldn’t believe how much his mind was opening like a broken dam inside his broken head, letting loose all sorts of things he thought he had put away forever. At first, seeing a few things wasn’t so bad. Now, after the last month of sleepless rest, he was starting to get a little pissed off. How much could one man freaking take? Take his girl, take his brother and then spend months torturing him with it... God, how he wished he could stick it to Zachariah one more time.
He was pretty sure it was a combination of the lackluster sleep with too many dreams and his third double of scotch in a matter of a few minutes but he sighed, rubbing his forehead roughly with the palm of his hand. “I don’t know, I haven’t been sleeping… too well. And I’ve just been... seeing things lately.”
Sid raised an eyebrow and Dean cut him to the quick. “Not things. A person, a someone. Someone I used to know... a long time ago.”
“So I take it this means an old girlfriend?” Sid asked. Dean chuckled dryly, shrugging as he sipped from his glass.
“I guess you could call her that. It’s... complicated,” he breathed staring at the mirror behind the bar. He completely avoided his reflection; he had no desire to see the road kill his face was, instead scanning the other occupants.
“So that’s what all your weird behavior’s been about?” Sid asked, motioning to Karen for another beer as he looked at Dean. Dean just looked at him and Sid shrugged. “A guy’s bound to notice things. What, did you run into her or something? See her somewhere?” Dean shot him a tired glance and Sid slapped his shoulder. “Come on, man, we’ve all been there.”
Dean couldn’t help the amused smile as he finished his third glass. Oh, if only he knew...
“So tell me about her,” Sid continued. He watched Dean expectantly as Dean motioned to Karen for one more. “And hold up on those scotches, man, or I’ll have to be the one driving you home and delivering you to Lisa.” He caught the slight grimace on Dean’s face and he leaned towards him. “Oh, tell me Lisa doesn’t know about your girl.”
Dean shook his head. “No. I’ve just been... off. I haven’t been sleeping.” He touched his forehead for the universal sign of ‘I’m fucked in the head.’
Sid snorted, gesturing to Dean’s face. “Understatement, my friend, understatement.”
“You know,” Sid mused. “If I didn’t know any better, I would say we’re having an actual conversation. A real conversation. About things. About people in your life.” He slapped Dean’s back. “This is good!”
The sound bites coming from the television stopped the grin Dean was about to shoot Sid’s way and he turned to glance at the tiny TV behind the bar where Karen stood watching. It was a newscast talking about some recent dead bodies showing up in the next town over. Dean frowned at it, leaning forward and ignoring Sid as he said, “Hey, Kay, turn that up.”
Karen glanced over her shoulder at him before turning up the small TV. The news reporter’s serious voice echoed in the bar and Dean stared at her visage where she stood in front of a large white-washed wall, blue and red lights dancing on it behind her.
“Tonight marks the second warehouse to be found housing three or more dead bodies. Police have yet to release the identities of the victims or the circumstances surrounding their deaths but they have confirmed that all victims involved in the Warehouse Murders were young females, averaging in their early 20s. It all started when, just last week, police received an anonymous tip from a Good Samaritan reporting the first three bodies in Stillwater. Police believe these two incidents may have a connection despite the locale change. They will release more information as it becomes available.” The reporter glanced at her notepad. “Police have officially issued a warning to all surrounding towns to be cautious and vigilant as the investigation continues. They are urging people to by aware of their surroundings and to call police with any suspicious activity. Unfortunately, at this time, that is all the information being released but when we get it, so will you. Reporting live from Bloomington, this is Clarissa Vanza with KARE 11. Back to you.”
“Gruesome,” Sid said next to him but Dean didn’t respond. Karen’s slim, tattooed wrist reached out to turn the volume back down as the anchors came back to the screen and Dean sat back. Karen came over to refill his glass, an eyebrow raised at him to ask if he wanted another but Dean didn’t notice, his mind churning. She poured anyway.
“Thanks, Kay,” he said absently, sitting up, holding his glass as he furrowed his brow, mulling over the newscast. Warehouse. Dead bodies. He felt like he should be concerned about it. Like that little tickle he usually got in the back of his head should be alerting him. He felt like it was pushing through a puffy hallway of cotton inside his mind as he tried to connect his thoughts together... It was entirely possible that this was not so much a supernatural issue as much as a crazy hobo walking around kidnapping young women.
“Huh,” Dean grunted, his mind relaxing.
“You’re starin’ at Kay’s ass, dude, you’re gonna make that girl think you’re interested,” Sid continued, chuckling and Dean shook himself from his reverie. He blushed when he saw Karen throw him a grin and Dean frowned... but not before noticing the beginnings of an intricate tattoo on her lower back when she leaned over to grab a dishrag. Sid slapped his shoulder. “Okay, if you aren’t toasted yet, you doin’ drugs? Crack? Cocaine? Come on, what’re you hiding in there?”
“What?” Dean asked quizzically, turning to look back at Sid who made a face at him.
“You sure it’s just a lack of sleep bogging you down there, buddy?” Sid asked and Dean shook his head, rubbing his face.
“Yeah. Something like that.” Dean threw back his drink, his eyes finding the TV screen once more, the volume down, a commercial advertising deodorant. He felt something ominous but it wasn’t anything he felt like he needed to jump into action with... Like he should know something but he couldn’t reach it. Dean fought an urge to yawn; one thing he did know was that he should probably get going before he was too toasted to drive and he did have to explain too much to Lisa.
Karen came back, leaning on the bar as she grabbed his glass, her fingers brushing along his arm, ready to pour him another. Dean jerked at the sensation before covering his glass, shaking his head. “No, I’m good.”
“Okay,” Karen replied, turning back to the television, setting the bottle down noisily. Dean stood, ignoring how the world around him wiggled just a little bit and he pushed the stool in. He fished in his pocket for his wallet, seeing Sid turn towards him as he pulled out a few bills and tossed them next to his empty glass.
Sid sighed, rolling his eyes. “I get one bit of information out of you and then poof, you’re gone.”
Dean smiled apologetically. “It’s not that, man, I just... forgot there’s a few things I need to do before heading home.”
“And dead bodies remind you of things you need to do?” Sid asked, his tone joking and he let out a laugh. Dean gave him an uneasy smile before nodding.
“Yeah, I know. I’m weird.” Dean waved his hand at him. “I’m out.”
“Your entire world is becoming an understatement, my friend,” Sid said loudly to Dean’s back as Dean exited the bar with a wave over his shoulder. The cool night air touched his face and Dean breathed with relief, feeling better now that he was breathing fresh air. He frowned, turning to look back at the closed door before shaking his head. Definitely a combination of no sleep, too much scotch, Sid rattling it off in his ear and Kay’s tattoos that he had never bothered to notice before... Maybe he’d try those sleeping pills he knew Lisa kept somewhere in the house tonight.
Get some goddamn sleep.
Or maybe just resort to his good old fashioned tactics and slam his own scotch at home and welcome some well-needed oblivion.
Dean made his way towards his truck, staring at the ground, his hands shoved in his pocket when a loud slap of metal echoed in the night. Dean paused before turning to look over his shoulder at the large abandoned building next to the bar, the building standing tall over the small hole he had just left.
Sliding his keys into the lock of the driver side door, Dean turned it just as another loud slap of metal echoed out into the night, coming once again from the building. Dean stopped, staring at it over his shoulder, his brow furrowed. He could feel the tug of sleep pushing at the frayed edges of his mind but that was too distinct a sound to be coming from anything other than a human being.
No harm taking a little looksee.
Unlocking his door, Dean felt a familiar rush of adrenaline soar through him as he leaned forward, grabbing the gun he kept under the seat. Pulling it out, he kept it low as he clicked the safety off, checking the clip quickly before slipping it into the band of his pants at the small of his back. Glancing around the street, he checked to make sure Sid hadn’t followed him out before making his way towards the building.
A flash of white caught his eye and Dean stopped, staring at the spot he had just seen it but there was nothing. Just like before. Just like always. Frowning, Dean rubbed his eyes, refocusing them but there was still nothing.
“Christ, Dean,” he breathed, shaking his head. What the hell was he doing? What in the hell did he think he was going to do when he got in there and found out it was nothing more than a goddamn raccoon or something? Shoot that little black-eyed sucker? Since when was he the pest control?
Still standing in the middle of the quiet street, Dean wasn’t sure what he wanted to do when he saw her.
Dean felt like someone had sucker punched him all over again. He felt hollow as he watched her move around, glancing up at the building wearing those same Army fatigue pants, that same gun holster... He knew with every instinctual nerve in his body that he was looking at Buffy Summers as he watched her lithe body dart around a few pieces of debris inside the fence surrounding the perimeter of the building. He couldn’t breathe as she paused at the door leading in, trying the doorknob, finding it locked and looking around once more.
Dean couldn’t move as she picked up a large piece of scrap metal and slammed it into the doorknob a few times, the large angry clanging sound echoing in the street and in Dean’s head but he still didn’t move as the knob finally gave way, the door popping open. With a shrug, he watched her toss the metal over her shoulder before going in.
“Buffy?” he said softly, shaking his head. The door was still open. The metal was still where she had thrown it. He wasn’t seeing things. He was seeing this. He was seeing... her. “Buffy.”
Dean didn’t realize he was moving until he found himself at the fence and he climbed it easily, pulling himself over and landing with a heavy grunt. And then there was no more pausing, there was no more waiting... He ran for the door, ripping it open.
“Buffy?” he said loudly, looking around, seeing nothing for a moment but the dust particles dancing in the moonlight from outside. “Hello?”
Dean knew the minute he stepped a few more feet into the building that he wasn’t going to find crap. Including her.
He stared at the floor for a moment, his eyes trying to focus on what he was seeing before looking behind him. The concrete was coated in dust and his were the only footprints.
That damn dark, black hole in his chest started sinking in a little. Closing his eyes, Dean felt a frantic need to ram his fist into the wall as he remembered what he had just seen not just a minute ago. It had been her. He was sure of it...
When he opened his eyes, he knew he hadn’t.
He frowned at the mess inside, glancing inside each room as he made his way around slowly. The reassuring press of his gun against his bare skin felt good and he allowed himself to slow down, picking through some of the furniture before heading to the next floor.
He knew he wasn’t going to find her. But he knew he had to make sure too. Because he knew what he had seen… he had seen her. It was Buffy.
But it wasn’t.
The walls were covered in faded graffiti, old posters advertising book clubs and places for people to sign up for classes. Dean entered the first room he reached on the third floor, edging it open slowly. He grimaced at the paper-covered floor, frowning as he looked around. The shadows were deeper here, farther away from the streetlight, when he saw a slight movement in the far corner.
Dean cocked his head, taking a silent step forward.
“Buffy?” Dean asked without thinking, his voice croaking and he felt foolish as all hell when it came out. He gritted his jaw as that black hole flared, reaching out further.
He was losing his goddamn mind. Literally.
The corner shifted a little more and he reached back to make sure his gun was still there, his fingers itching to hold it when something moved. Dean stopped for a moment before stepping forward, reaching out to touch it.
The lump suddenly jumped up, a loud shriek coming from its lips as it whirled around. A man’s shaggy head popped up out of the sodden blanket and Dean jumped back, his heart rate turning into a slamming gallop as his foot caught the corner of something heavy but he caught himself before he fell back.
“Whoa there, buddy,” Dean said, his voice shaky, holding his hands up. “It’s all good.”
“What? Nobody. Nothing. Just... thought...” What exactly had he thought? That Buffy was sitting in the corner, sucking on her hair, waiting for him to come find her? That he was the one probably sitting in this room and he was just gallivanting in his mind like a goddamn insane person? Dean rolled his eyes. “Just heard something, that’s all.”
“You hear something?” the guy replied, his voice rough and accusing, taking a step forward and Dean reciprocated in the opposite direction, his hands still up.
“You know what, my bad, dude,” Dean said, offering a placating smile. He pointed at the door behind him. “I’ll just... go.”
Backing out of the room, Dean kept his eyes glued on the homeless man before him. Dean left, feeling irrational as he pulled the door to the bottom level of the building closed behind him. He glanced up at the building before looking around. He frowned, noticing that piece of metal he had seen her use was gone. He turned back and checked the door, swinging it open for a minute. The lock had long ago rusted off and the door barely shut anymore.
“Real smooth there, Dean,” he said to himself. “Let’s get raped by the local Homeless Men Society to cap off the best year ever.”
Squeezing through the hole in the barb-wire fence, Dean made his way to his truck. Opening the door, he slipped out his gun, stared at it for a moment before leaning over and putting it back in its holster. He didn’t see the slight shadow on the other side of the building, watching him get in, turning the truck on before driving away slowly.
*“Get that thing away from me.”
“If you would just hold still for five seconds, it would be over and you could stop your goddamn bitching.”
“I already said no, so knock it off.”
“Jesus Christ! I just want one picture of you!”
“You said that thirty pictures ago!”
“Gee, I wonder why. Maybe it’s because you’re making a stupid face or you’re blurring yourself on purpose just to piss me off.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s why.” He rolled his eyes at her and he looked over to see her glowering at him before tossing the camera into the backseat and then flipping him off. “Geez, Summers, don’t get your panties all bunched up.”
“Don’t be such a jerk, Winchester,” she replied, purposefully using his last name as he did hers and Dean smirked at her. Buffy just glared at him before crossing her arms and turning to look out the passenger window. The lush forest rushed past them as Dean pushed seventy on the small highway. He watched the wind blowing out her hair, so much longer than when they had first met. It was tied back in a loose braid but she never caught all the strands. And they were always tangled to hell when they finally stopped but she didn’t care. And he liked that she didn’t care. He liked her smooth, tangled, messy and clean. He didn’t care.
“No, Dean, just drive. Just drive your stupid, big car to the stupid town so we can pull over so I can properly kick your stupid ass.”
“You know my ass is all yours. Why wait?” he said smartly and Buffy gave him a not so patient look and he chuckled before slowing the car down, pulling it off to the side. Buffy didn’t move, her arms still crossed, her body rocking with the car when Dean hit the brakes too hard. Just like he always did, like a big oaf. She didn’t move when he reached into the backseat to grab the camera she had tossed back there and she ignored him when he tapped her on the shoulder with it. “Alright, come on.”
“No,” she said stubbornly, her eyes fixed on a tree next to where they had pulled off the road.
“Screw off, Dean.”
“Come on, look at me.”
“Come on, eat me.”
“Oh, don’t tease me, baby,” he said and Buffy whipped around, her arm out to smack him in the chest when a bright flash went off in her face. She gaped at him before growling and reaching out for the camera but he held it away from her, laughing.
“God, you’re such a dick,” she snapped but there was no anger, no annoyance in her voice. He knew his girl better than she really thought as she crawled on top of him to reach the camera in his left hand which he now held out the driver side window. He wrapped his other arm around her waist, holding her securely in place. She tried to push away from him but he didn’t let her. She glared at him and he smirked before pressing his lips to hers. She grumbled against his before pulling away, a faux look of consternation fixed on her features before he tickled her. She let out a loud shriek, batting at his shoulders and he laughed with her.
It felt good. It felt amazing. It felt right. It felt warm and comfortable and delicious. Everything he wanted and loved and needed was right here in his arms and he was constantly amazed at what each day brought him. Even after all the crap, all the hell, this last year and a half had been what someone who talked in girly poetic format would call perfection. She had gotten him through one of the darkest periods of his life and still stuck around. Buffy finally cracked a smile as she hovered over him, readjusting herself so her chest was pressed against his and he licked his lips.
“What’d you turn me into, Summers?” he said softly and she smirked down at him, the scar rising up against her cheek. He pulled his arm inside, dropping the camera somewhere on the floor. He brought his hand up, tracing the scar before touching her lips, his thumb running across her bottom one and she opened her mouth slightly. He felt her hot breath on his skin and she just stared down at him for a moment, the heat evident in her eyes, before kissing him.
The kiss was long, languid, hot and sticky, her skin slick from the overwhelming humidity outside, slick against his, and he wanted more, pulling her tighter against his body. She responded in kind, rubbing herself against him as much as she could before she abruptly broke the kiss off and suddenly she was gone from his arms. He made a tiny sound in his throat at the loss of contact and he moved to grab her and pull her back up but she was too quick.
Buffy wiggled her way down his lap and he let out a broken breath as her hands, arms and shoulders rubbed everything and anything in between him and his feet before he realized what she was doing and suddenly she was back up, out of his lap and sitting next to him, her head pressed against his chest, the camera angled at them. He could see the huge smile on her face, her cheek pressed against him, as she stared into the camera and he couldn’t hold back his own as she said, “Say cheese...”
Dean grunted, rolling his shoulder to get rid of the warm hand that was shaking him awake as the memory faded from his mind. He felt like he had a spool of cotton turning inside his head as the hand shook him again.
“What?” he groaned, squinting open an eye to glare at whoever was waking him. The living room was pitch black, the only light coming from the upstairs hallway, barely lighting Lisa where she leaned over him on the recliner. Dean blinked himself awake, shaking the fuzziness away as he shifted on the chair. He grimaced when he felt his back protest painfully from sleeping sitting up. Stupid chair. “Hey. Sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Lisa replied. She smiled down at him, her face unsure. “You were dreaming again.”
“What?” he replied absently, rubbing his eyes as he tried to reorient himself before her words finally penetrated his mind. “What, I was dreaming?”
Lisa nodded. “Yeah. You were talking about going to Buffy.” Dean’s heart seized at the sound of her name on Lisa’s lips and he stared at her, his mouth gaped, frozen. “What’s Buffy?”
“Nothing,” Dean said instantly, pulling himself to his feet. He maneuvered around her, making a show of stretching his arms as he fought the insane urge to tell her to never say that name again. “Uh, nothing. What time is it?”
“About 11 o’clock.”
“Oh, man, I fell asleep,” Dean said, his voice rough. “I’ll, uh… I’ll be up in a sec.”
“Dean, are you okay?” Lisa asked, trying to catch his eye as he turned away from her. He headed towards the main picture window in the living room, making sure it was locked. “You’re just getting kinda... I don’t know... antsy.”
Dean could hear what she really wanted to say: “You’re getting really weird and it’s freaking me out because you’re hiding it from me and I’m afraid you’re going to put our lives in danger.”
“What? No, no, I’m fine. Just... not sleeping enough, I guess.” That was a crock. He was sleeping plenty. He glanced at Lisa. “I’m fine.”
“Okay,” Lisa replied, putting her hands up in surrender. She watched Dean make his rounds through the windows before moving towards the backdoor. She just watched him in the dark, the way his body tightened every time he looked out the window, almost like he was prepared for something to come flying through the glass. How his hands shook slightly when he didn’t have anything to do for the night, when all that was left was to go upstairs and sleep. The way he stopped and stared absently for a moment, lost inside his mind, before coming back, less and less each time. Every time she looked into his eyes, there was less of him there... “I’m always here if you want to talk. You know that, right?”
Dean shot her a half smile over his shoulder. “Yeah.”
Lisa nodded slowly. She headed towards the stairs, Dean following behind her. He checked the front door and was about to head towards the kitchen when Lisa’s hand shot out, grabbing his arm, pulling him close. She stared up at him and Dean’s chest tightened a little. He looked away and she touched his cheek softly.
“You coming to bed?”
Dean nodded, smiling tightly at her. “Yeah… I’ll be up in a minute.”
Lisa smiled, holding his cheek when he tried to move away, standing on her toes to reach his lips. She kissed him softly, inhaling his scent. He smelled like scotch and wood chips from work. A slight trace of his cologne was still present, the cologne she’d gotten him for Christmas. Simple, gentle. He smelled like Dean.
For a moment, the kiss stayed easy, gentle and then Dean responded, wrapping his arms around her, pulling her against his chest as the kiss deepened. Lisa breathed a sigh of relief against him, opening herself to him as he kissed her, a pool of warmth coming to life in the pit of her stomach before he suddenly broke it, pulling away. Lisa stared at him when he stepped back, giving her an uneasy smile and her throat tightened when he stared at the wall instead of looking at her.
“I’ll be up in a minute,” he said before heading into the kitchen.
Buffy stood across the street from the large, open house.
She stood in the shadow next to the streetlight, watching his progress into the kitchen where he turned on the light. She could see through the large window parallel to the front door the woman standing, her arms crossed before turning and heading back up the stairs.
Buffy’s eyes ticked back to the kitchen, watching him through the partially closed blinds as he grabbed a glass and pulled down a large glass bottle of amber liquid from on top of the fridge. Shifting her shoulders in her jacket, Buffy watched him pour a glass but he didn’t drink it. Instead, he stared at the table and she imagined this was the point she should feel bad for him. Feel bad that he was one of them now and apparently it wasn’t all candy canes and popcorn.
“Dean Winchester,” she mused softly.
A long moment passed by when he finally drank what he had poured before moving to check the locks on the window she was currently staring through.
Buffy chuckled. “What are the fucking odds?”
She smirked at him as he stared outside for a minute before shutting the blinds.
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