Author's Note: This fic is loosely based on LadyVisionary's one-shot "Phonecalls" and in response to her challenge (details and link in my profile). Dean and Buffy met in L.A. when she ran away after the second season and have remained friends since, talking on the phone randomly over the years. After Buffy defeated The First, she called to let him know. That was over a year ago and he's heard nothing since.
Timeline: After S7 of Buffy and during S1 of Supernatural.
Warnings: Rated T for Dean's potty mouth. Rating may go up.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, am making no money from this and am doing it purely for enjoyment.
The scenery slid by unnoticed as Dean guided the Impala down a darkening stretch of highway. Flicking the lights on as the sun sank behind the mountains on his left, he drove on with only about a tenth of his mind on the road. There was still no word. From either of them.
His hands tightened on the wheel as he internally grimaced. He should be focused on finding dad, Buffy shouldn't even be on his mind anymore. It had been a year for fucks sake. At first he hadn't thought much of the lack of calls, she'd just kicked some majorly evil ass after all. She'd sounded tired during that last call, maybe even a little tense, but that was to be expected after what she'd just been through. Her plans had involved nothing more than sleeping for a week or two. He suspected she'd call when she decided what was next for her - he'd even entertained ideas of asking her to join him for a hunt or two. It had been a long time since they'd seen each other after all, it would be nice to see her again now that she wasn't playing guard dog to the Hellmouth.
A nice long vacation, probably somewhere warm and sunny - that was the picture he'd had in his mind that first month. And what a nice picture it was, with her honey blond hair and sun kissed skin, Buffy was made for beach fantasies. Even though he hadn't seen her since she was 17, it wasn't difficult for him to imagine the beautiful woman she'd grown into.
But the month had passed and there'd still been no call. That's when he started wondering. And worrying. Maybe something had happened. Or maybe she'd decided that she'd done enough, she was out. Maybe she wanted to live a real life for once and had cut all ties from the supernatural - him included. Neither thought was comforting.
Two months had gone by before he wussed out and made the call. They weren't really the kind of friends that called just to see what was going on. They called when one of them needed the other, when something had happened and they needed an unbiased ear or just to rant to someone that wasn't personally involved. So Dean had made up several very good excuses for this call (and several more for himself when he wondered why he needed to know what she was doing so badly). But all his plotting was for nothing, the only answer to his call was an automated recording telling him that her number had been disconnected. He'd tried it six more times just to be sure.
That was when he and dad started splitting up. As much as he hated to admit it, he'd made it easy for the man to run off and ditch him. Somewhere in the back of his mind he'd known what his dad was plotting, but he just didn't want to admit it. Worry for Buffy easily overran his concerns about his dads skewed sense of fatherly duty and revenge. Dean himself had been the one to suggest they start taking separate jobs. Now looking back on it, he could see the flash of relief under his fathers faux thoughtful gaze just before he'd agreed.
The jobs had gotten done, he hadn't just been bullshitting so he could run off after Buffy. But he did make sure to end up in certain areas that might be helpful in finding information on the MIA slayer. But after six months of skipping around the country with his vague inquiries, he'd still had nothing. Not a hint of her, any of her friends or even any of the hundreds or thousands or whatever number of slayers they'd mojo'd up. In a last desperate attempt he'd even gone to L.A. - the memory of walking in the Wolfram and Hart building and asking to speak with Angel still made his lip curl with disgust. But he'd bitten the bullet and done it. Not that it had helped, they claimed not to have any "Angel" employed there and never had.
Then dad had disappeared. And Sammy's girl had died in such a horrifyingly familiar way not too much later. Because that's just how life as a Winchester goes. That should be the new Winchester family motto - "Life can never fuck you over hard enough." They shouldn't even bother standing up, they should just keep the assumed bent over position.
So here they were, the two brothers together again. Fighting evil, saving lives and trying to find their father. Well, that was the way it should be, but even now, almost a year after his last conversation with her, his mind was still on finding Buffy. It was completely ridiculous, he knew. His focus should be on his father - he knew he was hunting the yellow eyed demon, and despite what a Class A Badass John Winchester might be, he'd still need their help. Not to mention Sammy - he needed dad now more than ever. Dad could understand his loss, his need for revenge, better than anyone. Even though Dean had loved his mother and wanted to see that sonofabitch that had killed her and blown apart their lives pay dearly, Sammy had been right in his furious accusation on the bridge. He didn't really know what it was like for dad or Sam.
But Sammy and dad needed him, maybe now more than ever. Buffy on the other hand might not even be alive any more, and if she was, she obviously didn't want to be found. Not to mention she was more than capable of taking care of herself. So why was he wasting the time and energy?
"What are you thinking about?"
The sudden question from Sam made him jump, the car slid off the side of the highway and sent up a spray of gravel before Dean righted it.
"What the hell, Sam!" Dean yelled, shooting an aggravated look over at his brother. Sam himself was wide eyed and gripping the door handle for dear life, but at Dean's exclamation, his shocked "I'm gonna die" look melted into the patented Sammy Bitchface.
"That's my line, jerk! All I did was ask a question! I've been sitting here for the past six hours, it's not like I just popped out of nowhere."
Dean for his part knew that there was no reason to be mad at Sam, and he wasn't - he was furious at himself. Both for the path his thoughts had taken and that Sam had apparently been watching him while he was mentally wandering in la-la-land. But he had no intention of answering that question and pissing Sam off was a surefire way to distract him.
"Well, next time use your indoor voice. Freakishly loud to go with freakishly tall, I guess," he muttered, making sure Sam heard as he focused his attention back on the road.
"Whatever, Dean," Sam answered, shaking his head. Dean had to fight a smirk at quieter tone he used though.
"How much further?"
"What are you, eight?" Dean asked, shooting his brother a disbelieving glance.
Sam flushed a little, but met Dean's eyes, "No, I'm hungry."
"Well, we're almost there little man. And if you're good and quiet for the rest of the ride, I'll even buy you an ice-cream!"
Dean gave his brother a condescending smile and internally sighed with relief when Sam rolled his eyes and leaned back in his seat, concentrating on stretching out his long limbs as much as he could in the cramped quarters instead of following up on his questioning.
Why couldn't he tell Sam about Buffy? Sam was… Sam. There'd be some teasing (okay, a lot of teasing) and some grinning about Dean having a friend that was a girl, but he'd help. And no one did research like Sammy. But…
She was his.
There were very few things in his life that Dean could truly call his. The music he listened to, the coat he wore, the car he drove, even the job he did were all his dads. His childhood was nonexistent, it belonged to Sammy - not that he was complaining, that was just the way it was. But Buffy, she was his. At first he didn't understand why he'd leave and lie about where he'd been and what he'd been doing when he'd only been talking to her. It was a stupid thing to lie about after all, talking on the phone with a girl. But he kept doing it, making excuses to leave so he could call. He found that it was almost like a release. Staying strong, keeping his unaffected devil-may-care attitude up for everyone was so much easier after talking to her. He was still the cocky, brash, joking, "nothing can hurt me" Dean Winchester he'd always been when on the phone with her, but somehow it was different. She could read between the lines and make him feel better without ever coming out and directly bringing up the issue at hand. Although he'd never said it out loud, he'd felt that her job as a school councilor was fitting even if she joked about how out of her depth she was.
They were a lot alike. They'd known that the first time they met in that graveyard in L.A. Actually, that was the second time they'd met. The first being in a small crappy café where Dean was the flirtatious pie eating customer and Buffy was "Anne", the sad eyed, tired looking girl that was immune to his attention. But the first time they'd really met was in that graveyard - as Dean Winchester, the hunter, and Buffy Summers, the slayer. Their situations may have been different, but the burden of taking care of others, keeping up a strong face despite all they'd lost was still there, a common denominator that broke down any walls between them. Dean had never opened up to anyone like he had that night. NEVER. It still embarrassed him to think about. But her openness and her tears had moved him. She'd shared her darkest parts with him, sobbing and broken, he couldn't help but do the same.
"Dean… What are you thinking about?"
Sam's voice was soft and thick with curiosity, but when Dean ticked his eyes over toward his brother, he only saw concern etched on his face. Dammit, he needed to pay more attention when he was around Sam, lock things down a little tighter. Sammy always had been able to pick up on the smallest hint that something was wrong with his big brother - it was how Dean became so good at covering things up, pushing them down and generally ignoring them. It was also how he became a pro at deflecting and distracting. Unfortunately it seemed as if he was out of practice.
So, when backed into a "lets talk about our feelings" corner by Sam the Emo Patrol, the best way to escape was to throw him a bone. Give him a scrap of angst to chew on for a while and it would keep him from digging deeper.
Sighing deeply, Dean ran a hand over his face, his stubble catching on calluses and making a rasping noise that could be heard over the music that he'd turned down when Sam had fallen asleep about two hundred miles back.
"Just dad, man. Wondering where he is… if he's alright."
He said the last part quietly, knowing touchy-feely Sam would eat it up.
"That's not your 'I'm thinking about dad' face."
Dean did a double take at the unexpected answer. Sam's response was immediate and his voice wasn't thick with skepticism, it was flat and loaded with disapproval and disbelief. The tone that said there was no argument here, it was simply a fact. Dean blinked at him while digesting what he'd just said.
"Not my- Dude, you seriously need a hobby."
While part of him was dead serious and creeped out that apparently his brother had a mental catalog of what faces went with what thoughts, he was also panicking internally. The Angst Puppy had spit the table scrap right back at him and was going for the whole steak.
"Dean, what's going on with you. You've been acting weird - sneaking off to make calls, looking distracted and worried. There's something going on here that you're not telling me and I don't think it has anything to do with dad," Sam said, his eyes boring into the side of Dean's head as he purposely kept his gaze on the road an away from his brothers probing look.
"How'd you sleep, Sammy?"
It was a low blow and Dean knew it. Sam's breath stuttered, before being released in a long sigh.
"Fine," he answered after a moment of silence, turning towards the passenger window as the conversation was dropped.
Dean was a little angry and disappointed at Sam's refusal to confide in him but was also glad that the inquisition had stopped. How could Sam expect him to share everything with him when he couldn't do the same. By smacking his little brother in the face with the hypocrisy of the situation, he'd effectively made his point - even if it gnawed at his conscience to use Sammy's pain against him like that. Dean knew his brother wasn't sleeping well (sometimes not at all) and he suspected there was something deeper going on with him than just nightmares, but Sam had made it perfectly clear that the subject was off limits. If Dean could respect that, then Sam could do the same for him.
He had a feeling that neither of their secrets would last much longer, but he wasn't quite ready to share yet and, for now, the missing slayer remained his.