Buffy and Dean exchanged glances, their anger at each other quickly melting into their worry for their brother. There was several givens in the Winchester family; that Dean and Buffy could argue just as well as Dad and Sammy, was one of them. And it was only a matter of time before one killed the other in both groups.
“Buffy, you can’t let him outside alone, unarmed,” Giles reminded her, clearing the bowl he’d used to clean her brow.
“You’re right, Giles. I’ll go stop him,” she said, turning a scowl on Dean.
He glared right back at her. “Oh, I can handle this, sunshine.”
“Oh, ‘cause you’re tact guy,” Buffy mocked.
“Children!” Giles snapped That swung both Buffy and Dean’s head towards the librarian. “Your brother.”
“Fine,” Buffy said and headed out of the library, starting at a fast walk.
Sadly, Dean’s legs were a lot longer then hers and he ate up what little distance she’d managed to put between them. “What aren’t you telling me?” she snapped as they came out into the hallway.
“Nothing,” Dean said with a shrug, acting too nonchalant to be nonchalant.
“So the big ‘L’ on your forehead doesn’t just stand for loser but liar too, huh?”
“Geez! Wouldn’t you rather be waving your poms poms around or whatever you used to do, instead of playing with the big boys,” Dean shot back snidely. “I know how to handle, Sammy. I take care of him just fine without you.”
“Yeah, you take care of Sam,” she whispered. To stave off any brother word-fumbling, Buffy took a big breath and called, “Sammy!”
“Sammy,” Dean followed her lead a heartbeat later. “You know, it’s not like we’re new to this. Sammy can take care of himself.”
“Yeah, and that’s why I had to flit down in all my unslayerness and save your ass.”
“Yeah and maybe if you hadn’t ditched us with the goon squad, you wouldn’t have had to.”
“My mom would still have been in danger.”
“And what? That’s my fault?”
She gasped. “So it’s mine?”
“Well, if the guilt fits.”
“I so don’t need this right now. Look,” she finally said, reigning in her anger. “You two might think you know your stuff, and you just might, but this is a hellmouth, brain trust. You don’t go hunting for things that go bump in the night, they hunt you. And right now our brother is out there without a cross, stake, or holy water.”
Dean stared at her for a moment, measuring her. Whatever he’d been thinking before had suddenly shifted as a light went off in his eyes. “You really do know what you’re doing, don’t you?”
“Slayer,” she said by way of answering.
Understanding crossed between them. The duty. Some part of you, whether big or small, wishing you could run away from the job, but knowing nothing could really stop you from being who you were. Hunter or Slayer.
“As if our family wasn’t already screwed to hell,” Dean breathed on a chuckle. He suddenly cleared his throat and Buffy knew he was masking whatever emotions had been about to leak to the surface. She had thought it was some alpha male crap just a day ago, and it was. But it also helped keep Dean sane. Sometimes all you had was your game face.
“We better go find, Sammy,” she broke in.
“Yeah,” he agreed. “Hey, Sunshine. Just because you didn’t see me, doesn’t mean I wasn’t there.”
Buffy gave him a genuine smile, the vice that had been squeezing her heart since learning the truth about her brothers easing at Dean’s disclosure.
Her smile quickly quirked into a smirk when she heard Sammy say, “You should send that to Hallmark.”
“Oh, you’re hilarious,” Dean grumbled, giving Sam a shove as he came into view.
“God, Sam, you just can’t run off like that,” Buffy chastised her brother. “Especially here.”
Sam gave her a rueful smile while rolling his eyes dramatically. “Yes, mom.”
“Hey, you listen to her, Sammy,” Dean demanded.
“Great. You two are either at each others throats or gaining up on me,” Sam said, a petulant cock to his head. “Can’t a guy get some peace.”
“If peace means getting yourself really killed, then yeah,” Buffy quipped.
“So, what made you come back, Francis,” Dean asked, ruffling Sam’s already incurable hair.
Sam batted his hands away. “Seriously, don’t call me that.” He waved a cell phone at Dean. “And I came back because of this. I was about to let you two duke it out.”
“What is it?” Dean held out his hands, cupped, and ready to catch. Temporarily ignoring the implication of taking Dean’s beloved Impala without him.
“Coordinates,” Sam said, tossing the cell phone.
Dean studied the screen on the phone. “You know where?”
“Well, let’s go make use of the library, college boy,” Dean said, heading back to the library they’d just vacated.
“Whoa, did I just miss something? Coordinates? From who?” Buffy demanded, doing her best to keep up with her freakishly tall brothers and their freakishly long legs.
“Dad,” Dean answered. “It’s how he tells us where our next hunt is.”
“And what you just go trotting off like a good little soldier without an explanation or even knowing what you’re going into?”
She’d struck a nerve, she saw as Dean glared at the smug expression on their brother’s face. “He does,” Sam said, stating it as though he’d won a debate.
Dean on the other hand didn’t look as though he wanted to argue, in fact he seemed to be more on the verge of smacking that arrogant look of Sammy’s face. “We got a job to do. We don’t need Dad holding our hands.”
“No. You know what we really need, Dean, is Dad, here,” Sam shot back. “Helping us find whatever killed, Jessica.” Sam drew in a deep breath, his anger quickly turning to shock.
“Jess is dead?” Buffy asked gently, painfully aware of how much her brother had loved her. He’d even been thinking of proposing. Sam didn’t met her gaze, but nodded. “Oh, Sam.” She wanted nothing more then to ease his pain. After all, she’d sent her boyfriend to hell not so long ago. “Is this what you weren’t telling me?” she asked Dean.
“Sammy’s story to tell,” Dean said, though his voice had gone quieter, less razor sharp.
“The same thing that happened to our mom,” Dean answered, concern pushing him to tell what Sam still couldn’t quite speak of. “It killed Sammy’s girl about the same time Dad disappeared.”
“Sam, I’m sorry, I know how horrible this feels.” Except Angel came back. Yes, she’d mourned and then began to move on, but Angel came back. Jessica wasn’t an a vampire with a soul and a champion of the Powers that Be. And as much as it sucked for Sammy, she wasn’t coming back. “But I promise you, we’re going to find this thing and kick its ass.”
Both brother’s stiffened at this comment. “We?” Dean spat. “This isn’t your fight.”
“This things evil and I’m an evil fighter.” Dean and Sam looked ready to argue. “Hey, don’t blame me. Destiny, blah, blah, blah, the one girl in all the world. Giles is better at explaining it. It’s a whole thing. And I’m a Winchester too.”
“So...” she said when she was met with no resistance. “I’ll get the gang started on research.”
“The gang?” asked Sam.
“I’m not so much the research gal, I’m the pummel and stake gal.”
Dean flung an arm around her shoulder and did the same to Sammy. “You were always the spoiled one.”
Buffy stuck her tongue out at them. “Being the baby has to have some perks.
Giles had pulled a large map of the United States and rolled it out on the large table that served them many a night as they researched. Dean and Sam descended on it like vultures, hovering and talking in hushed voices as they worked out the coordinates their father had left them.
Buffy watched from a distance, grateful for the time to just sit and watch. She was aching, being thrown around by a vampire was a lot more painful without super buff Buff, and she was drained both physically and emotionally. Sleep pulled at the ends of her eyes, made the fleshy curtains of eyelids heavy and near impossible to keep open.
She nearly jumped when Giles offered her a cup of coffee without one remark about how detestable it was. “Thanks,” she said.
“It would seem you three have settled your issues,” he said softly, sipping at a Styrofoam cup identical to her but no doubt had tea in it.
“Not all of them,” she said with a shrug. “But I think we’re beginning to understand each other.”
“Are we...” He cleared his throat, took of his glasses with the hand holding the cup and rubbed at his eyes with the other. “Are we...”
“We’re cool, Giles,” she answered his not-finished question. “I get it and your still my favorite Watcher.”
“Not much competition I’m afraid,” he said, but he smiled at her self-effacing. “I’ll make it right again, Buffy. I promise.”
“Then I’m going to use my extra guilt points and ask a favor.”
Giles face became one of question and suspicion.
“When they go, I want to go with them.”
He put his glasses back on, using the gesture as a distraction as he thought. “Buffy..,” he began.
“You have a tone,” she interrupted. “Look, its just once. On time, where we’re together and we won’t have to pretend. I want to know them, Giles. I want us to be a family for real and we can’t do that if we’re not in each others lives.”
Nodding, he reminded her. “You’re weakened.”
“I won’t be by the time we get to wherever it is we’re going.”
“Alright,” he acquiesced.
“I wouldn’t be gone longer then a week, Buffy. You’re quite close to graduation and Snyder will have one of his ‘tingling moments’ if he has just cause to expel you again. And I for one am not up for the horror.”
“I know,” she said, worry creasing her brow. Suddenly, her expression brightened. “Do you think Dean was telling the truth about that gun thing?”