Disclaimer: Is this really necessary three chapters in?
Chapter 3: Transmaniacon MC
"Why…hah…are we doing this again?" Xander asked Willow as they ran around the school's track.
"Because…we promised Dean…hah…we'd do exactly what he said."
"You!" He spat vehemently. "You promised! I had nothing to do with it!"
They had one more lap to go and Xander knew exactly what he'd do when he finished; curl up with a tank of water and never move again. His head throbbed, his lungs burned, there was a painful stitch in his side, and his thighs and calves itched uncomfortably. Dean was proving to be an expert on torture as well as monsters, or maybe the two just went hand in hand.
This was their fourth Hunting 101 lesson since he'd almost been eaten by a giant bug two weeks ago. Xander had been unwilling to go but Willow had poked and prodded at him.
"What if something happens and Buffy isn't around? What would you have done if we hadn't gotten there in time to save you?" She had argued to him. "He's taking the time to teach us and just because you don't like him doesn't mean you can't learn from him. Give Dean a chance. He's been really cool with us so far. He hasn't bullied us, or proved any of those scary rumors true, and he's just been really nice."
In the end he'd gone along to make his best friend happy, and to make sure she was never alone with Dean. Xander had promised he would give the older boy a chance, it was the most he could do after he had been injured saving Xander's head from being chomped on, but that didn't mean he was going to risk leaving Willow with a known girl predator.
Xander collapsed on the grass nearby, breathing heavily, Willow doubled over next to him.
"Oh ground! So hard and uncomfy…it feels like heaven."
"Hey! Don't lie down, stretch it out!" Dean, who had finished his run some twenty minutes earlier, held out two bottles of water. Xander reluctantly got up to reach for it, and gulped half of the delicious liquid down.
"That was pretty good." Dean told them. "You two finished faster than I thought you would but you need to build up your stamina. You can't always rely on adrenaline to get you out of a tight spot."
"Are we…hah…moving onto the studying part now?" Willow panted.
"Alright Mulder, Scully, what are two items you need to keep a ghost away?"
This was how these tutoring sessions had been going so far. Dean would test their endurance, strength, or speed in a boot campesque manner, then he would quiz them on what they knew or most often what they thought they knew about the supernatural.
"Oh! Um, I know it! Iron keeps ghosts away because…because there's iron in blood and…ghosts don't like living people?"
"Well, I'm not really sure if that's the reason, but—"
The two of them continued to talk about similar things as Xander took another sip of water, its coolness soothing the ache in his temple and clearing his head.
Dean Winchester didn't exactly have a reputation as a studious intellectual, but Xander had found over the past two weeks that slacker the older boy may be, he was far from stupid. Dean was almost an encyclopedia when it came to scary weirdness and the many different ways to kill them. Xander only wished he could absorb Dean's knowledge and military like training a la Rogue from the X-Men. Then he and Willow wouldn't need these tutoring sessions at all.
Sweat and water mixed together on Xander's lips forming the answer in his mouth.
"Salt." Dean and Willow looked at him in surprise. Xander bit down his contempt. He knew neither of them thought he could give the right answer.
"Throw some over your shoulder and poof! No more evil spirits." His mother had sometimes thrown salt around the house when his father brought home a lottery ticket. She had said it would drive the bad luck away but it had never worked.
"Not bad, Harris. You should use your upstairs brain more often." Xander took another swallow of water before coming back with his own dig.
"I would say the same to you if I thought you had one."
"This one's just jealous he hasn't done the horizontal tango yet." Dean grinned slyly as he winked at Willow, who blushed at the implication, making her already red face from the physical exertion splotchy and unflattering.
A beep sounded, and Dean looked down at his watch.
"I gotta go before I'm late for my shift. Listen, run for a half hour every other day until we can do this again. Walk five minutes, then sprint for two." Dean quickly gathered his stuff and headed east toward the garage he worked at. Willow punched his arm as soon as Dean was out of sight.
"You promised you would be nice, mister!"
"Hey!" Xander rubbed his arm. "He started it." Willow sighed exasperatedly.
"I should get going too. My parents are gonna be home in an hour or two and I should be there. I'll see you tomorrow, at school."
"So how was yesterday's tutoring session with Dean?" Buffy asked her as they headed toward the lunchroom.
"Exhausting. He made us run laps. I'm not really much for running around in circles over and over, give me a big heavy book any day."
"Hmm, I started out kinda similar. My first watcher, Merrick, would drill me for hours on being light on my feet, and the best way to escape when I couldn't win a fight." Willow nodded at Buffy's response, feeling a little relieved that what Dean was putting her and Xander through was normal. She hoped the physical lessons would be over soon so they could go more in depth on monsters and magic.
"Just be careful, okay?" She heard Buffy plead. "I mean, I guess some basic self-defense and how to are kinda necessary if you and Xander want to keep helping me out, but I'd still feel better if you guys just stuck to research and left the slaying to me." Willow felt a fuzziness fill her heart. Buffy was such a compassionate person, always wanting her friends to stay safe.
"Oh don't worry! The thought of me fighting a monster gives me the willies. I'm happy being on the sidelines."
"Hey, I've been thinking about Dean a lot lately."
"Oh?" Willow questioned, wondering where Buffy was going with this.
"Well, he's been hanging out a lot with us, but only when we're hunting down some monster. Whenever we invite him to go to The Bronze, or the movies with us he kinda makes a quick getaway."
Willow had noticed that too, and it perplexed her. At first she thought it was because he and Xander were at odds, but as she observed him outside of the library, in the hallways and the cafeteria she started to see some patterns emerge. He worked four days a week, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, usually until eight. Dean wasn't a member of any school clubs, or sports, and when he wasn't with them in the library he really only interacted with his girl of the week and whoever she was friends with. She didn't know what Dean did with his time when he skipped class, but she didn't think he did it to hang with the other juvenile delinquents under the bleachers on the football field like the rumors said.
"I don't think he has any friends." She told her conclusion to Buffy. "At least not at school. Dean mentioned he has a little brother, maybe he spends his free time taking care of him? It must be hard on him with his dad in jail."
"That's so sad!" Buffy intoned. "He must have felt pretty lonely all this time, hunting alone and not having any friends to talk about it with. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't talk to you or Xander about this vampire stuff."
Willow thought back to Dean's first year in Sunnydale four years ago. He was like a yo-yo back then. One day he'd be cute, charming, and popular, the next he'd lash out at anyone who sat too close to him. Once she had accidently seen Principal O'Dell searching Dean for weapons as she waited in the office for her father to take her home sick. The rumors had run wild that year, how Dean had spent six months in a mental institution, or Juvy Hall, or that his father had gone to jail for cannibalism and he'd raised Dean the same way. How silly all those scary rumors seemed to her now that she knew the truth about the upperclassman. Willow thought about the stake she now carried in her backpack. Dean was entirely justified in bringing a knife into his LA middle school all those years ago; his and Buffy's expulsions were really entirely unfair.
"We need to do something." Willow determined. "We should make him come out with us. Maybe he and Xander will start to get along if they get to know each other better? They're both guys, they need guy time, it would be perfect!" They each grabbed a tray and started loading food onto it.
"We'll leave the plotting for later. Speaking of guys, guess who spoke to me in the library today?"
"I'm guessing someone other than Giles?" Willow inferred as she avoided the stringy green stuff in the lasagna.
"You'd be guessing right. It was Owen Thurman." Buffy said proudly.
"Owen Thurman talked to you?"
"It's all true!"
"Wow!" Willow exclaimed. Glad to depart from the serious talk. "He hardly talks to anyone. He's solitary, mysterious…He can brood for forty minutes straight, I've clocked him." Willow reveled in all the girl talk that had been happening between her and Buffy since they became friends. It had been two guys and a girl with her, Xander, and Jesse for so long she had almost forgotten what it was like to gush over boys and nail polish with someone.
"He was so nice, it was eerie." Buffy continued as they headed to the table Xander had claimed.
"What did you guys have to talk about?" She asked, yearning for the details.
"Emily Dickinson." Willow was now envious, but only sorta.
"He reads Emily Dickinson? He's sensitive, yet manly!" The two of them sat down next to Xander, who was playing with his food.
"Well, wait. You've never even read her!" Willow accused.
Buffy pulled out a small book penned by Owen Thurman's favorite poet.
"You vixen!" She praised.
Xander held up his fork contemplatively.
"Has anybody given any thought as to what this green stuff is?"
"Hmm, I'm avoiding the subject." Buffy said dismissively.
"I think its kale, or possibly string cheese." Xander pushed his plate away. "So, Buffy, how'd the slaying go last night?"
"Xander!" Buffy said with a stern look, while Willow glanced around, making sure no one could overhear them.
"I mean, how did the 'laying' go?" Willow winced at Xander's latest gaff. "No, I don't mean that either!"
Buffy eased up on her glare and started dividing her food.
"It went fine, thank you. There's some new hoidy toidy vampire sect in town."
"That's bad." This probably meant another afternoon of helping Giles after computer club with Ms. Calendar.
"Well, hey, they're bringing in the much needed tourism dollars." Xander said lightheartedly. "Ooh, look at Mr. Excitement."
Willow and Buffy turned in their seats to see who Xander was insulting. Owen Thurman was sitting by himself and brooding mysteriously.
"Owen! He's all alone! Maybe someone should sit with him." Buffy conspiratorially said to Willow.
"Just to be polite. Good luck!" Buffy quickly left the table to join Owen leaving Willow alone with Xander.
"Okay, what just happened?" He asked her.
"Owen and Buffy flirted in the library this morning. I think he's gonna ask her out." Xander got a faraway look in his eyes.
"Did he? I dunno, he seems kinda boring to be Buffy's type." Irritation filled Willow. When was Xander going to realize Buffy liked him only as a friend.
"Maybe you're right." She said a little meanly. "Dean is way more Buffy's type and they have a lot in common. They're both really good at killing things, and they've both been expelled from their old schools…Oh, and they'd look really cute together, they're both really attractive people."
Xander glared at her. "Okay, I get it."
Willow went back to eating her lunch, steadfastly ignoring the guilty feeling churning the food in her stomach.
"I'm an interesting guy, I know about monster hunting and bowling, and a whole lot of other things! I'm sure we've got a lot in common too!" Willow absently nodded her head in agreement.
"I'm sure you do, too."
Buffy bounced happily beside Willow as they entered the library. She had a date! A date with a normal guy that liked her. Owen had asked Buffy out and NOT Cordelia whose attempt at sabotage had epically failed.
"It's not that big a deal." She humbly told Willow.
"It is a big deal!"
"It's not." It was just a date. Her first date, true, but she was afraid if she made too big a deal about it something horrible would happen and she would have to cancel.
"It is!" Willow spotted Giles walking toward them, carrying a large book. "Tell her!" The other girl said to him.
"I'm afraid it's very big!" Giles said to them.
"Thank you!" Willow told Giles happily before the true meaning behind his words sunk in to her. "Wait! What are you talking about?"
"What are you talking about?" Giles responded, his eyes flicking between them.
"Boys!" They exclaimed together. 'Please, please, please.' Buffy prayed. 'Don't let Giles ruin my date!'
"Yes, well I'm talking about trouble." Her Watcher told them. "A violent and disturbing prophecy is about to be fulfilled."
"The Order of Aurelius." Buffy stated despondently. Why, oh, why did Giles have to find that ring on the vampire she dusted the night before.
"You were spot on about the connection." Giles flipped open a book to show Buffy the research he had done. She didn't bother to look, she probably couldn't even read the language it was written in.
"I've looked at the writings of Aurelius himself, and he, he prophesied that the brethren of his order would come to the Master and bring him the Anointed."
"Who's that?" Willow asked.
"Well, I-I don't know exactly, a-a-a warrior, but, but it says he will rise from the ashes of the Five on the evening of the thousandth day after the Advent of Septus." Buffy sighed, relieved. That sounded very far away. Like sometime next week.
"Well, we'll be ready whenever that is." What should she wear tonight? Her mom was working late at the gallery so there would be no help there. Maybe Willow could come over and help her choose an outfit.
"Tonight, okay…Whoah! Not okay!" How could this happen to her!
"My calculations are precise." Giles assured, frustrating her more.
"Nuh! They're bad calculations, bad!"
"Buffy has an important date tonight!" Said Willow, backing her up.
"Owen!" Buffy reminded Giles. They had met that morning and the librarian had liked him.
"Alright, I-I'll just jump in my time machine, go back to the twelfth century and ask the vampires to postpone their ancient prophecy for a few days while you take in dinner and a show!" The man lashed impetuously.
"Okay, at this point you're abusing sarcasm."
"Buffy, this is no ordinary vampire. We have to stop him before he reaches the Master."
Buffy desperately tried to think of an excuse to give him. Would reminding Giles just how cute Owen was work? Probably not.
"Dean!" She blurted. "Dean can go with you! He was all over this vampire thing before I came to town, handing my duties over to him for just one night wouldn't be much of a problem!"
"Buffy, I'm ashamed for you! Dean's abilities in the field are still largely untested. E-even if his skills are as good as he boasts, he is no Slayer, you are. The Anointed is supposed to be incredibly dangerous, it would be irresponsible to hand the reins over to a hunter, and it would very likely get him killed!"
Buffy lowered her head, embarrassed for even suggesting it. 'She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness' The Slayer prophecy said. Every day she learned just how true that really was.
Buffy managed to somehow finish all of her homework before she had to meet Giles in Daybrooke Cemetary at sunset. Together they strolled along the iron gates of the cemetery, searching for fresh graves. Finding none, they moved onto Weirwood, then Sunnydale Presbyterian, and all the rest of them without running into even a fledgling. It was at ten, two whole hours after she was supposed to meet Owen at The Bronze that Giles conceded that he may have miscalculated.
"Well, you know what they say. Ninety percent of the vampire slaying game is, is waiting."
Buffy sucked her extra-large soda dry. "You couldn't have told me that ninety percent ago?"
"Well, we, we certainly waited here long enough." Giles stood up from the tombstone he'd been resting on and brushed off his pants.
"Besides, there aren't any fresh graves. Who's gonna rise?"
"Apparently no one tonight." Buffy jumped up excitedly.
"Then I can bail? I can go to The Bronze and find Owen?"
"Oh, very well then. Follow your hormones if you want. But I assume I don't have to warn you about the hazards of becoming personally involved with someone who's unaware of your unique condition." Buffy mentally winced. He made it sound like her being the Slayer was some kind of disease. Dwelling on that idea a little, she kinda agreed. Being the Slayer had totally killed her social life.
"Yeah, yeah, I've read the back of the box."
"If your identity as the Slayer is revealed it could put you and all those around you in danger." Her mind flew to her mother, still innocent of the truth, then Willow, Xander, and Dean. She wasn't stupid, she knew some of the consequences of telling people what she was, her own parents had had her committed for a few short weeks after she had burned down the school gym. She suppressed a shiver as she remembered the asylum.
"Well, in that case I won't wear my button that says 'I'm a Slayer! Ask me how!' Good Night."
As she walked to The Bronze she brooded on her budding relationship with Owen. What if they really hit it off and it became a second, then a third date? She definitely didn't want to tell him about slaying if they got serious, but would she eventually have to? Buffy put these doubts to the side as she entered the teen club. Her short life would never be normal, but that didn't mean she couldn't indulge in a slice of apple pie every now and then.
When she entered the club she saw Owen and Cordelia dancing closely together. Disappointed, she turned around and headed home.
Xander watched Buffy slam her locker, a little hand shaped dent now in it.
"So you just went home?" He asked incredulously.
"What was I supposed to do? Say to Owen, 'Sorry I was late, I was sitting in a cemetery with the librarian waiting for a vampire to rise so I could prevent an evil prophecy from coming to pass?'" Xander was more than grateful Buffy's date the night before had been a bust, but he'd be neglecting his friend duties if he didn't give a little advice.
"Or flat tire?" Xander suggested, weighing the two options in his hands.
The two of them started walking the two hallways down to his locker.
"I can't take this anymore. I feel like everyone is staring at the big, hideous, dateless monster."
Oh, Buffy was far from hideous.
"You're acting a little overly aren't you? I mean, you could have any guy in school." Like Xander, but not Dean. Definitely not Dean.
"He's not any guy." Buffy sighed. "He's more…Oweny."
"Sure, he's got a certain Owenosity, but that's not hard to find." They reached his locker. "I mean, a lot of guys can read." He smiled his best goofy grin at her. "I can read!"
Buffy sighed and leaned back against the lockers. Xander started pulling out the text books he needed for tonight's homework that he would probably not do anyway.
"Oh look its Owen." He slammed his locker, ignoring the annoyed look Buffy was giving him. "Buffy and Owen. And Xander. That'd be me."
"Where were you last night?"
"Oh, well, um, my watch broke and we don't have any clocks in our house and so I didn't know what time it was or even what day it was…" Buffy babbled in a very Willow like fashion. It was a little sickening watching the beautiful, confident, and independent girl he'd developed a major crush on turn to nervous goo.
"Oh." Owen chuckled. What was the deal with that? It wasn't that funny. "I thought I was the only one that happened to. How 'bout we try it again for tonight? I'll even lend you my watch."
Owen smoothly pulled out a fancy shmancy gold pocket watch and handed it to Buffy. Xander glanced at his Tweety Bird wristwatch, then pulled his sleeve down.
The two lovebirds continued to ignore Xander as they flirted and set a date for seven that night. This was ridiculous. Who goes on a date on a Tuesday night?
Buffy soon walked off dreamily, leaving Xander feeling very much like Mr. Cellophane.
He needed to brainstorm ways to sabotage this date. And fast.
"When you said it was an emergency, I didn't think you meant the fashion kind." Dean grumbled to the two girls as they searched through Buffy's closet. He had rushed to 1630 Revello after Buffy had called his foster home, bringing his heavy artillery, only to find a giggling Buffy and Willow, and a grumpy Xander.
Buffy turned around to face the two boys lounging on her bed. Willow held up a white dress with a cherry print over the Slayer's fluffy pink bathrobe. "Okay, do I wanna appear shy, coy, and naïve, or" Willow switched to a tie dye explosion, "unrestrained, insatiable, and aggressive?"
"Uh, y'know, Owen is a little homespun, he probably doesn't like that overtly assertive look." Xander said, putting in his two-cents.
"Wait, Owen Thurman?" Dean questioned. Buffy gave him an excited nod. "Isn't he, I dunno, kinda boring?"
"I hate to agree with Dean here, but…I agree." Xander said before getting up from the bed and reaching into Buffy's closet. He pulled out a thick winter jacket and hat and held it in front of the Slayer.
"Here's a nice combination! A nice, comfy, overcoat and ski cap. The earflaps will bring out your eyes!" Dean rolled his eyes.
"Just show a little breast and you're golden. Can I go now, or do you need me to chauffeur you around as well?"
"No! You can't go yet!" Willow told him. "We need guy opinions! And I was hoping you, me, and Xander could watch a movie or something while Buffy went on her date."
"Hey, nobody ever said anything about a movie!" Xander protested.
The girls ignored Xander as they continued to trap him.
"Besides, you don't have any plans for tonight, right?" Buffy prodded.
"And we're friends now. Friends help friends with advice on clothes, or boys, or the best time to skip class, and in exchange they spend their free time hanging out together. It's called being sociable." Dean looked away uncomfortably, choosing to instead focus on the angel figurine on the bedside table.
Buffy shuffled over to her dresser, picked two objects and held them up to Xander and Dean.
"Okay, guy's opinion, which one do you think Owen will like better? The red or the peach?" Dean genuinely didn't care.
"Oh, you mean for kissing you and then telling all his friends how easy you are so the whole school loses respect for you and then talks behind your back?" Xander visualized for everyone. "The red's fine."
"Thanks." Buffy deadpanned. "I'll go with the peach."
"Here, put this on." Willow handed another dress to Buffy.
The two girls turned again to the two boys, obviously wanting them to turn around, or leave the room.
"Go right ahead, I'm up for a show." Dean leered, still feeling put off that he'd been tricked into coming here.
"Nuh uh." Xander said, before grabbing his arm and pulling him toward the doorway. "We'll be waiting out here!" The door closed behind them, but the girls' giggles carried into the hallway.
"Don't think I don't know what you're doing." The sophomore hissed. "Buffy's a nice girl and she doesn't need guys like you drooling all over her."
"Guys like me, huh? Well I am the tall, dark, and handsome type." The kid snorted.
"More like tall, dick, and hairy." Hairy? Was that really the best he could do?
Dean snorted and started walking down the stairs, Xander a step or two behind. "Don't worry kid, you're the only one boning for Buffy here."
"What? I'm not! You're not?" Dean turned to look at Xander.
"Hey, Buffy is hot as hell but dude, I don't do office romance. I've seen it on TV and it's always messy and dramatic. I don't do long term anyway. Or parents. I definitely don't do parents." Dean reached the bottom of the stairs and started heading for the door, he had to get out of here before Willow made him watch a chick flick.
The doorbell rang and the girls sprinted down the stairs excitedly, Willow following closely behind Buffy.
"That's Owen!" Buffy excitedly opened the front door.
"We need to talk." The Watcher said.
"Buffy's not home." She said as she tried to shut the door, but Giles pushed himself in.
"My calculations may not have been that far off." The man held up a newspaper and Dean moved behind Buffy to read it.
"Five Die in Van Accident'?"
"Wow, that headline just screams vampire cult." Dean told the Watcher. The man rolled his eyes in annoyance, whether at his presence or his sarcasm Dean couldn't tell.
"Out of the ashes of five shall rise the one. That's the prophecy, five people have died!"
"In a car crash." Buffy said.
"I know it doesn't quite follow, but, but it's worth investigating. Look! Among the dead was Andrew Borba, whom the police sought for questioning in a double murder. Now, he may be the Anointed One. The, the bodies have been taken to, to Sunnydale Funeral Home, w-we can—"
"Giles," Buffy interrupted, "why do you want to hurt me?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Uh, hi." Buffy's date said as he walked through the still open doorway.
"You have a date?" The librarian questioned rhetorically.
"Yes, but I will return those overdue books by tomorrow."
"Wait, you're not getting off that easily."
"Man, you really care about your work." Owen said obliviously. "Hey, Dean. I didn't know you were friends with Buffy."
"Well I'm a friendly kinda guy."
Willow and Xander quickly drew Buffy's date into the living room, so Giles and Buffy could speak without censorship. Dean stayed behind to not so subtly eavesdrop.
"Another date? Don't you do anything else?"
"This is the first date!" The teenaged girl protested. "There's never been a date, okay? This is my maiden voyage!"
Dean watched the two argue back and forth and wondered what his dad would say if he or Sam were the ones with a date.
"This is the 90's, the 1990's, in point of fact, and I can do both! Clark Kent has a job, I just want to go on a date." Dean was a little impressed the teen had been able to do both for so long, but knew she would soon realize hunting was more of a lifestyle than a part time job. It was a necessity if she wanted to survive.
"Well, I, I suppose it was a fairly slim lead." Giles said, giving in.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you! And look," Buffy grabbed a pager from a nearby drawer. "I won't go far, okay? If the apocalypse comes, beep me." Buffy and Owen quickly left in his dinky Ford.
"Is something going on?" Willow asked Giles, a worried look on her face.
"Oh, uh, probably not, no. I, uh, I suppose I'll just go to the funeral home in case, just see if something comes up."
"I'll go with you." Dean said, pulling his keys from his jacket pocket.
"No, no, Dean. This is probably nothing, a-a longshot."
"But if it is, you're gonna need backup." Dean lowered his voice as he tugged the Watcher out the doorway. "Please, get me out of this house before they make me watch Clueless or something."
"Well," Giles started to clean his glasses. "I-I suppose it would be prudent to be cautious, but—"
"Great! I'll drive." Dean made sure to give Giles his most charming smile before leading the way to his baby
It was a short ride and Dean found Giles to be a surprisingly good passenger. The older man had been impressed with how well he took care of his baby and didn't complain once about Blue Öyster Cult blaring from the stereo.
They pulled up to the funeral home well after sunset and Dean and Giles stepped out of the car with some trepidation, their senses heightened by the night's silence.
"Now Dean, I want you to do exactly as I say. I don't want any risks taken here tonight, w-we'll do a simple sweep through and, and if we find anything we can beep Buffy on her, uh, whatchamacallit. Are-are you listening to me?" Not really, but he could guess at the content. Dean was more focused on what weapons he wanted to bring with him. But he didn't think Giles would like to hear that.
"Yeah, I'm listening. Be careful, follow your orders, yada yada yada. Hey, do you want a crossbow?"
"What?" Dean waved him over to the trunk. He swept aside his dad's and Sam's first aid boxes to reach for the wooden crossbow bolts.
"Oh my, th-this is quite an arsenal." Dean watched the Watcher's eyes scan the collection of weapons. Buffy had had a similar reaction when they were grabbing machetes to take down that She-Mantis. He remembered the Slayer running her hands delicately down his sharpest blades, a look of primal appreciation for its deadliness on her face.
Dean showed the man the two crossbows in his collection, the PSE Tac, which was a bitch to reload but the power behind it was second to none, and his hand held one that was perfect for a quick fire.
"No thank you Dean. I-I'm fine with the cross and stake I brought with me. Range weapons have never really suited me." Dean shrugged his shoulders before putting the Tac back and storing his spare ammunition in a small holster under his jacket.
"Lead the way, General."
Giles led the way to the lit up building warily, Dean following in his steps like his dad had taught him. A figure appeared from behind a tree and Dean let out a curse. A second vamp appeared on their opposite side, cornering them.
Dean aimed his crossbow at the first vamp, unsure of whether or not to fire. At this distance the vampire could easily dodge, but if he waited too long they'd be close enough to attack and his arm wasn't up for a wrestling match so soon after he'd bruised it rescuing Xander.
"Hold your fire, Dean." His eyes flickered to Giles before refocusing on his target. He nodded to show his acknowledgement of Giles' untold plan.
The man reached with slow deliberateness for the duffel slung across his shoulders and pulled out a cross that he thrust in the vamps faces when they were within two feet. The two demons hissed in pain and stepped back, lowering their guards. Dean quickly fired and dusted one of them and Giles and Dean ran up the stairs into the funeral home. He closed the glass doors behind him and fumbled for a lock but found none. Through the glass he saw half a dozen more vampires join the one he didn't kill.
"Dammit, this is turning into an ambush." Dean reloaded his crossbow as Giles tried to open a nearby locked door. Unable to open it, Giles motioned for Dean to follow him and together they ran further into the building. They entered the first unlocked door on their right and found themselves in the morgue. They pushed a filing cabinet against the door but both knew the barricade wouldn't last long against a baker's dozen undead.
"They must be here for the Anointed One." Giles said as he caught his breath.
"Or maybe they just want to kill us?"
Dean looked around the room, desperate to find any more weapons or an escape route. He looked up at the window and was surprised to see two heads of black and red hair.
"What the hell are you doing here!" Willow and Xander had sheepish looks on their stupid mugs.
"Yes, what are you doing here, you should get to safety immediately!" Giles told the two kids.
"We were worried you two would get in trouble, so we decided to follow you." Willow explained to them. Dean ran a hand over his face. Next training session he was going to beat into them common sense and safety first. This was no place for a couple greenhorns.
"Can you get through this window?" Giles tested the bars and shook his head. "I'm afraid not."
"Look, I hate to state the obvious, but this looks like a job for Buffy." Xander told them.
The blonde would certainly be useful right now, but Dean knew his dad had been in worse situations before and come out on top. Between him and Giles they might be able to fight their way out.
"Uh, she has her beeping thing!" Giles said, referencing the pager Buffy had took with her. "No phone of course."
"Look, we'll get her. You two just hang in there." Xander and Willow quickly left and Dean hoped they wouldn't get turned on the way to get Buffy. Ideas started to storm through his head as the vamps started to push through the barricade.
"We could set up some traps, limit their entry point and dust them one at a time."
"I doubt we have the time."
"Well I'm not going down without a fight." There had to be something they could do. Bless the water in the sprinkler system and set it off? They didn't have access to the well.
"Dean, while you did well outside…actually you were quite impressive. You went straight for the kill, Buffy's always dilly dallying in her fights and—"
"Is now really the time to pay me compliments?" He questioned the librarian.
"Yes, um, my point being that going toe to toe isn't our only option at the moment." Giles opened one of the body storage drawers, Dean observed him checking the neck of the cadaver. "Perhaps hiding in one of these drawers and praying they're too stupid to check would be best."
He reluctantly opened another body drawer and stared down at the corpse. An old man in his seventies who probably died of a stroke or something else that was normal.
"At least it doesn't rank yet."
Dean climbed on top of the corpse, hoping its decay would hide his scent, and pushed himself into the wall. The vampires broke the door down and smashed the filing cabinet not a minute after they'd hid. Bangs and crashes sounded in the room, and Dean idly wondered if this was like a birthday party for them. It felt like hours before silence filled the morgue but his watch told him it was only thirty minutes. Dean waited an extra five before pulling himself out of the body drawer. He was about to tell Giles to come out when Buffy appeared, still dressed in her date clothes.
"Dean! Where's Giles? What happened?"
The man in question rolled himself out.
"Buffy! I'm so glad you're here!"
"What happened?" The Slayer repeated as she took in the ransacked room.
"Some vamps cornered us almost as soon as we got here." He explained to her.
"Yes, but, um, the two of us were more than a match for them." Giles told Buffy. "We hid in here. Though Dean managed to kill one. I believe the brethren were here for the Anointed One, either to find him or, or, to give him something. The prophecy is really quite vague on the details." Prophecy. This was way too much work for a bunch of words written thousands of years ago.
"I think I heard them take a body out of the drawer next to me." He told them. It was hard to tell over the other noises but it was a possibility they couldn't rule out.
"So this vampire guy could be long gone by now." Buffy concluded.
The three of them talked about what they should do next and decided it would be best to do a sweep through the funeral home to make sure there weren't any stragglers.
"Okay," Buffy sighed, brushing a hand through her hair "I just got to get Owen and the others to safety first."
"Owen? You brought a date?" Giles questioned incredulously, and Dean echoed the sentiment. Bringing a date on a hunt, how stupid was this girl?
Buffy sighed again, and Dean could detect her frustration. "I didn't bring him, he came."
"Buffy, when I said you could slay vampires and have a social life, I didn't mean at the same time!" Giles scolded exasperatedly. Annoyance filled Dean.
"Well maybe you shouldn't have told her that at all! People like us can't be normal and you shouldn't give her the illusion that an apple pie life as a cheerleading prom queen is actually possible!"
Buffy tensed her body threateningly as she turned to face Dean more directly. He might have been intimidated if her mini-dress didn't make her look like a blonde bimbo.
"Who are you to tell me how to live my life! Is it really so bad to wish for just a little bit of normalcy? Do you want me to be like you! A lonely guy with no friends and a junky car!"
"My car is awesome! And at least I don't run away from my responsibilities. How many people would still be alive if you patrolled every night like Giles wants you to?"
"AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Screams echoed through the building and Dean, Giles, and Buffy hurried to its source. Willow, Xander, and Owen were cowering in front of a ferociously ugly vampire.
"You're the chaff and unblessed! I'll suck the blood from you're hearts, He says I may!" The vampire shouted in bad prose.
Buffy ripped the crossbow from his hands and rushed at the vamp as he lifted Owen Thurman from the ground to bite into his neck.
"Get your hand off my DATE!" The vamp threw Owen to the side, the boy's head hitting the wall hard. Buffy let out a scream of rage as she fired a bolt and roundhouse kicked it when she missed. Dean rushed to the fallen Owen and checked his pulse.
"Is he okay?" Willow asked him worriedly. Dean ran a hand over the back of Owen's head, checking for lumps.
"He's alive, prob'ly have a concussion when he wakes up." At his words Owen opened his eyes, they looked unfocused. Dean looked up at the battle happening not five feet away. Buffy had discarded his crossbow and was beating the crap out of the vamp and saw what Giles had meant earlier. He saw four times she could have plunged her stake into the vampire's heart and ended it but she continued her barrage of attacks. Dean bit his lip, it was a kind of sloppiness his dad would have trained out of her until she dropped. He was about to shout for Buffy to finish it when the vampire was finally impaled on a broken table. Owen let out a loud groan, turning Buffy's attention back to her date.
"Ow, what happened to that guy? And why are Dean and the librarian here?"
"Oh, uh…" Buffy began "we scared him off. Dean and Giles helped."
"Oh good. I uh, I think I'm gonna go home now." Buffy helped the boy up and he turned around in a circle confused. "Uh, which way's home?" Xander straightened Owen out as he started to tip over.
"We'll get him home." Xander said, tilting his head toward Dean. Dean picked up his crossbow and pulled his keys from his pocket. "Yeah, I'll drive him home." Dean ignored Buffy's sad eyes watching them walk Owen out of the funeral home.
The two of them sat Owen in the back seat and the concussed boy promptly fell asleep. Xander moved to shake him awake but Dean put a hand on his arm to stop him.
"Let him sleep, we'll wake him up in twenty minutes. Where does he live?"
"Somewhere on Fourth Street." Xander climbed into the backseat to keep an eye on Owen and Dean started the car.
"Hey Dean, did ya mean what you said earlier? About not going after Buffy?" This again?
"Dude, that chick is way out of your league."
"But you meant what you said, right? You won't take advantage of Buffy or Willow?" Dean snorted.
"I'm not some kinda sexual predator you know. I do have some moral standards."
"Sorry, it's just you can't be too careful with all everyone says about you." Dean knew what they said about him, and as long as it didn't reach his social worker he didn't give a rat's ass.
"Don't believe everything you hear kid." Xander was quiet for a while as Dean drove to Fourth Street. "Yeah, I've kinda figured that out."
Buffy walked between Willow and Xander, her focus mainly on Xander, as they walked through the quad.
"Did Owen say anything about me on the way home?" She felt terrible about what had happened, but they had been having a nice time before she had to go to the funeral home.
"No, not really. He pretty much slept the whole time."
"I totally blew it with him last night, didn't I? Who wants to be with danger girl?"
"No, no, see, what you need is a guy who already know you're deepest darkest secrets and still says, 'Hey, I like that girl!' Someone like—"
"Owen!" Owen Thurman had walked up to the trio while she hadn't been paying attention. There was no visible sign of the injury he received the night before but Buffy saw that he still didn't quite walk in a straight line.
"Well, heh…this is our stop." Willow said as she dragged Xander away to give them some privacy.
"I don't really know how to say this, but...last night—"
"You don't even have to." Buffy interrupted. "I'm sure you were pretty freaked out."
"Totally! And…I was wondering when I could see you again." Buffy looked up hopefully.
"Really?" Owen nodded enthusiastically. "I mean, last night was incredible! I never thought nearly getting killed would make me feel so alive!" Danger made him feel alive? She looked down at her shoes disappointed. He didn't want her, he wanted the Slayer.
"So that's why you want to be with me?" She asked him, wanting confirmation.
"Oh, absolutely! When can we do something like that again? Tonight maybe?"
"Tonight would be…not a workable thing. Did I really just say that?" She questioned to herself. Owen was so nice and sweet, and yeah, just a little boring, and he was a part of the life she craved. Or was he? She didn't want or need a gung ho adventure guy, she already had enough of that in her life.
"Look, it's not you. It's me." She told Owen with a meaningful look. He got it after a moment.
"Right. It's you." Feeling depressed, Buffy sat down on a nearby bench as she watched Owen walk away. She heard Giles' footsteps stop beside the bench. She looked up at him, acknowledging his presence and he sat down beside her.
"I was ten years old when my father told me I was destined to be a Watcher. He was one, and his, uh, mother before him, and I was to be next."
"Were you thrilled beyond measure?" She asked sarcastically.
"No, I had very definite plans about my future. I was going to be a fighter pilot. Or possibly a grocer. Well, uh... My father gave me a very tiresome speech about, uh, responsibility and sacrifice. I imagine Dean had a similar childhood."
"Sacrifice huh?" Her mind flew to her and Dean's argument in the morgue.
"I'm sorry I didn't go to the funeral home with you. I put you and Dean in danger."
"We went to the funeral home of our own free will."
"I should've been there." It was her responsibility, her burden, not theirs.
"Perhaps. I have volumes on lore and prophecy but I don't have an instruction manual. We need to feel as we go along and perhaps Dean did have a point last night about you avoiding your responsibilities, but I think you also have every right to strive for as much normalcy as you can manage. I haven't quite yet forgotten what it's like to be a teenager, you do need an outlet for the stresses of your life."
Buffy looked up at him again. "Really?" Giles nodded and put a comforting arm around her shoulder.
1. Werewolves only grow animal hair when in close proximity to a Hellmouth or Devil's Gate
2. Werewolves always eat the heart of their victim
3. Werewolves are usually unaware of their condition the first several months after being infected as early symptoms and lunar cycles often result in amnesia.
Willow looked up from her notes to observe the boys. Dean was coaching Xander on the best ways to escape a hold from behind and Xander was struggling to properly execute one of the techniqes. She had to hold in a giggle when Xander began to wiggle in a way that resembled a booty grind. She devilishly wished for a camcorder so she could show Buffy.
"Ow! Dude! You stepped on my foot!"
"Aren't I supposed to step on your foot?"
"Yeah, but not that hard! You know what, I think we're done for the day!" Willow quickly gathered up her stuff and walked over to the boys.
"Thanks Dean, I really learned a lot today. The werewolf notes are really interesting."
Dean shrugged his shoulders as he chugged down some water, before dumping the rest on Xander who protested half-heartedly. Willow smiled slightly. She was glad they were getting along better.
"Hey Dean, Xander and I were going to meet up with Buffy on Saturday to see Jerry Maguire. Do you want to come?" Dean looked down uncertainly and Willow tried to think of something to persuade him.
"The previews showed some football in it so it can't be too girly." Xander said while drying his hair with his t-shirt. "And I think we might go bowling or something afterward." Dean looked down and rubbed the back of his head.
"Saturday's the fourteenth right? I've gotta meet with someone, but uh, maybe…maybe after?" Willow and Xander eyed each other and shared bright grins.
"Dean, can you help me with my math homework?" Dean tore his eyes away from the Home Improvement re-run. Nicky was using his best puppy dog eyes and Dean had a hard time resisting.
"Fine, but only one problem. My social worker's gonna be here any minute." The third grader climbed onto the couch and crawled until he was almost on top of Dean, shoving the worksheet in his face.
"You have six quarters, five dimes, three nickels, and ten pennies. The candy you want to buy costs $1.30. Do you have enough money? If so, what is the least amount of coins you can use to pay for your candy without getting back change? Whew, you're moving onto the hard stuff ain'tcha?" Nicky nodded seriously. The kid had a hard time of it in school. Like Dean, Nicky was a physical kind of kid and didn't do well cooped up in a classroom half the day learning numbers and vocabulary. Dean remembered how quickly Sam had caught on to counting money and his unnatural love for school. He wistfully longed for the days when his brother would bug him for help with his homework.
"I know I have enough money, but I don't know which way the teacher wants me to put the coins together."
"Well the simplest way is usually the best. What's the easiest way to get to $1.30?"
Nicky furrowed his brow. "Can't you just tell me?"
"I could, but it's oh so fun to see you struggle." Nicky pouted, and stuck his tongue out before diving into deep thought. Dean went back to watching Tim Allen as he waited for the kid.
"With…five quarters I've got $1.25, but with six quarters it's $1.50, that's too much Dean."
"You've got other kindsa coins dontcha?"
"Um, dimes, nickels, and pennies. With five pennies I've got" Nicky started to count on his fingers, "one, two, three, four, five, six…ten, ten coins."
"Errrr!" Dean sounded. "Too much, too many. I'll give you a hint, you only need one more coin."
The boy thought hard for another minute as he scribbled different combinations on his worksheet, before enlightenment dawned on his face.
"Five quarters and a nickel! I forgot about the nickels! Thanks Dean!" The doorbell rang and Nana Nina plodded to the front door from the kitchen, standing on her tip toes in her fuzzy white slippers to see through the peep hole.
"It's some woman, I don't recognize her." Nana informed them. The doorbell rang again.
"Well, are you gonna open it or not?" Nana scowled at him before unlocking the bolt and opening the door.
"Hi! Are you Nina Snell? I'm Deborah Little, from social services." The blonde stranger said perkily. The woman couldn't be more than thirty five, but she dressed like she was still in the 80's. There was a scrunchie holding back her hair and the oversized blazer hid her thin frame.
Dean and Nicky watched Nana perform her customary scrutiny, Deborah Little withered under the black woman's harsh gaze.
"Oh, um, I have my papers with me, if you want to look them over." Deborah Little pulled some loose sheets from her briefcase and handed them to the foster mother.
Dean got up from the couch as Nana handed the papers back to the young social worker.
"Come on in, Ms. Little. You're here for Dean, right? What happened to his usual case worker?"
"Linda's on maternity leave, I'm just filling in for her. Oh, but I promise I'll do just as good a job! Now which one of you is…?" Smiling widely, the cheery woman looked around the living room, taking in the many hand knitted quilts, the still playing TV, the five Bibles on the table, Nicky looking at her strangely from behind Dean, and Tina peeking from the top of the staircase.
"Oh, good!" The woman clapped happily. "Now, is there some place we can talk privately?"
"Nicky, go upstairs and play with your sister." Nana commanded, leading Deborah Little and Dean into the kitchen. Nana turned back around to look at Nicky loitering at the bottom of the stairs. "And don't even think about using those sticky fingers of yours! Upstairs, now!" Nicky scowled before rushing up the stairs. Dean could hear his twin giggling at her brother getting caught before he could start lifting something from the social worker. Dean chuckled a little to himself. The kid took after his own heart.
"Sticky fingers?" Deborah Little asked as she sat down at the kitchen table. Dean sat down opposite her. Nana started making coffee.
"The boy and his sister lived on the streets for more than two months, they did what they had to, but old habits die hard. If I hadn't sent him away you'd be missing your wallet or keychain by now."
"Oh! Well, uh, why don't we get started?" The woman opened her briefcase once again and pulled out a thick file. "Now, since we're just meeting each other do you mind if we briefly go over your history? I like to know as much as I can before diving right into the meat of it!" The woman laughed strangely and Dean shifted uncomfortably.
"Sure, I guess."
"Good! Now let's see, it says here that you entered into the system September 30th 1992, is that correct? Good, okay…And you and your brother were put into a foster home in LA but you were separated after two months when the two of you were found to be emotionally co-dependent, oh that's so sad! After your expulsion you spent six months in juvenile prison, and I see here you received intensive therapy for all the sudden changes you experienced that year, that's good." Nana set three cups of coffee on the table and took a seat herself. Dean grabbed for his mug and took a big swallow, burning his mouth. He wondered why the woman didn't read his file before showing up here.
"After your release the courts decided to send you here, to Sunnydale, and outside of a few disturbances at school like cutting class or sneaking out of your home in the middle of the night you've been a model citizen. You applied for emancipation when you were sixteen, but denied because of your juvenile record." Deborah Little closed his folder and took a sip of coffee, still grinning widely at Dean. "Now, I'm here because starting January 25th you will no longer be a ward of the state. Your juvenile record will be sealed, and California will no longer be obligated to pay for your room and board or medical bills. Now, since you still have a year and a half of high school left you can apply to have your guardianship extended until your graduation or—"
"I'm not going to do that." Deborah Little's cheery smile wavered.
"Are you sure? It will be very difficult to pay for a place to stay and attend school full time. Or are you planning to drop out? Because that is something I highly discourage."
"I'm going to graduate, the judge said he'd give me custody of my brother if I graduated. And I've been saving for an apartment, I've got almost six thousand put away."
Deborah Little twiddled her fingers. "Six thousand is certainly a lot of money for someone so young to have saved but if you truly want custody of your brother Samuel you're going to need a full time job to provide for the two of you. Six thousand will be swallowed up in no time."
"I've already got a job lined up." The judges' conditions were clear. Graduate, get a good job, stay out of trouble, and Dean would get custody.
"Dean can stay here until the end of May." His foster mother sipped her coffee nonchalantly, paying no mind to Dean and Deborah Little's surprised looks.
"It'll save him money and keep him focused on school, at least till the end of the year."
"You are aware that California will be under no obligation to continue to pay you for Dean's housing?"
Nana scowled at the 80's reject. "I don't do this for the money. Dean's a troublemaker, but he's good with the younger ones, so long as he helps around the house a little more he can stay until he finishes the school year." Dean wasn't sure he liked the idea of staying for an extra five months, but the idea of saving his money for just a bit longer was appealing.
"Alright, then." Deborah Little said. They talked for another half hour of different college scholarships that were available for former foster kids, and support groups for people who had left the system, and a money management seminar to help him get started on living a healthy independent life. Dean had no intention of using any of the resources she told him about. He was tired of relying on the government to feed and clothe him, he knew how to take care of himself, he'd done it often enough as a child.
"Call me anytime, Dean!" The social worker said as she left the house. "I'll be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!" With one last overly cheery smile, she waved goodbye and drove off in an old Volkswagen.
"Hey Dean, are you still coming here for Christmas?"
"Wouldn't miss it for anything, Sammy."
"Do you think your foster mom will make those cookies again this year? Dad sad he really liked them when we brought them with us last time."
"Did dad say that, or was it you? I think there was maybe half a cookie left by the time we got to Chino last year."
"You were the one that stuffed your face!"
"You were the one that stuffed your face!"
"My voice isn't that high Dean!"
"Face it Sam, you sound like a chipmunk."
"You're such a jerk!"
"At least I'm not a high voiced bitch."
Comments: Thank you to all who reviewed! You people are always an inspiration.
The chapter title I believe deserves a little explanation. It's the title of a Blue Oyster Cult song about a fictional sect of the Hells Angels being evil devil worshipers. I decided to use it since this is the first chapter the Order of Aurelius has really made an appearance in this story and they're pretty much a secret cult so...yeah.