Disclaimer: I own nothing, am making no money from this and am doing it purely for enjoyment.

Author's Note: Special thanks go out to Isugirl, who wondered innocently in her review - "what happened to Brady?" Answer - the author was an idiot and left him on the dining room floor. Oops! I've gone back and corrected that now. For those of you that read it before that, all you have to know is Brady was dragged out of harms way and was last seen being taken to a hospital thanks to Angel and Co. I am so, so sorry about that!

Also, I want to thank Wolfie! If it weren't for her Sam/Buffy vids, I don't think I would have really given this pairing a chance. Thanks Wolfie! :-)

Oh, and (last one, I swear) I want to thank all you fantastic reviewers! You guys are awesome. Seriously. And this fic got done because of your support. Thank you so much!

Chapter Twenty

Buffy laid sprawled on top of Sam on the couch, the thumping of his heart under her ear combining with the thumping of the work going on in the dining room. The windows were all open and a breeze drifted through the room, pulling on the white curtains.

"So… you died? More than once?" He said slowly. "Relationship ground rule number one - no more dying."

Sam was trying to keep his voice light, but Buffy could tell by the way his arms tightened slightly around her and the increase in his heart rate that he was thrown by this newest revelation. They'd been slowly revealing their pasts to each other over the last two days. It would take some time to get through all of it and some of it would be painful to relive, but there was no rush.

"Cross my heart, no more dying," Buffy said, snuggling deeper into Sam's embrace.

A thud followed by some cursing and something getting dragged made her pick her head up and peer at the hall, Sam twisting under her to do the same. Dean appeared seconds later, the charred dining room table wrapped in plastic and on his back as he stomped, stooped over, toward the front door, a foul look on his face. Glancing in the living room and spotting them, his scowl got darker.

"This is ridiculous! You're the one with the super strength!"

"And you're the one in the negative on the Buffy Points Scale. So back to work with you, room wrecker," she said with no pity.

A devious smirk suddenly appeared on Dean's face, making her wary.

"Is that an order, mistress?"

Buffy gasped and looked at Sam, who turned pink and wouldn't meet her eyes.

"You told him about that?"

Dean chuckled, a little good cheer restored now that he'd caused some trouble, and proceeded out the door with the table in tow. Sam shot a glare at his retreating form.

"This was a good idea," Sam said, his voice filled with spite toward his older brother. "Making Dean do all the work."

"Yeah, the insurance company could hire some guys to do it, but it's more fun this way," Buffy answered, already thinking up more things for Dean to do.


"So, how's Brady doing?" She asked, settling back down on Sam's chest.

"Physically? Fine. Mentally… not so good. That demon was in there for a long time. I can't imagine what it'd be like to watch from the backseat for that long while something else drove your body around."

"Me either," Buffy sighed, feeling bad for Sam's friend and guilty that something like that had been going on in her own backyard without her knowing. "So he's going home today, right?"

"Yeah, he got out of the hospital this morning. I offered to come get him, but he said he was just going to catch a cab to the airport - head home for a while and get himself together, try and repair the damage the demon did with his family," Sam said with a shrug, then added softly, "I don't think he wanted to see me."

"Oh, Sam, I'm sorry," Buffy said, squeezing him slightly. She knew it had to be hard on him to not only find out his friend had been a demon for the majority of the time he'd known him, but now Brady was back to himself and he was leaving.

"It sucks, but it's nothing compared to how he's feeling. Besides, the guy I knew isn't really even him..."


"What I can't figure out is why he was possessed in the first place," Sam said thoughtfully. "Why would a demon set up shop in one person for so long? And why be friends with me? And why try to kill you? None of it makes any sense."

"I've given up trying to make sense of why demons do the things they do. It was up to something bad and now it's been stopped. That's all I need to know," Buffy said with a shrug.

While her words rang true and she kept her voice unworried, the truth was the same questions had been running around in her mind. The demon obviously had had some ulterior motive involving Sam, but she couldn't figure out what. And what about the other one? With it's ability to fling her around with its mind and go toe-to-toe with Angel and Spike, it was obviously the bigger and badder of the two big bads.

They laid there a while longer in silence, both of them pensive but comfortable. A crash and more cursing suddenly came from the dining room.

"Maybe I should…" Sam started.

"Yeah," Buffy agreed, climbing off of him.

He stood and pulled her to him, kissing the top of her head before going to supervise Dean's progress. Buffy watched him go then went up to her office, shutting the door silently behind her. She pulled out her cell phone and scrolled quickly through the numbers until she came to Angel's direct line.

"Angel," he answered almost immediately, his voice was short and irritated.

"It's Buffy."

"Buffy…" His voice went softer, impatience disappearing, and despite the fact that things between them weren't romantic and never would be again, it still made her a little warm and fuzzy to know she had that effect on him. "Is something wrong? You need something?"

"Okay, so listen. I don't need to know the details about what's going on, why you were here, what those demons were up to," she said, steeling herself and putting her resolve into her voice. "I don't think I want to know them. I'm happy, and I'd like to keep it that way. What I do need to know is… is this something I need to be worrying about? Is something down the road going to pop up and bite us in the ass because of this?"

There was a pause on the other end of the line and Buffy found herself holding her breath - waiting for Angel to drop the bomb on her that would rip apart all that she'd been building here.

"No, Buffy. Everything's been taken care of. I promise."

Her breath whooshed out and a weight lifted from her shoulders. She knew she should press harder, make sure, get the whole story. But Angel's word was still good with her, and as she'd said, she didn't really want to know unless she needed to.

"Thanks, Angel."

"Anytime, Buf."

She hung up and let the tension flow out of her. She could hear Sam and Dean bickering down the hall and let herself smile in relief. Things were alright. Maybe they wouldn't stay that way, maybe they would. But right now she was happy and worry free. She was going to enjoy it for as long as she could.

Angel hung up with Buffy and turned his attention back across the desk to his guest, not looking forward to continuing his conversation with the inflexible man in front of him. John Winchester stared at him with dark intelligent eyes. Eyes that Angel just knew were hiding thoughts involving stakes and explosives. It had been almost impossible to convince him to come here in the first place and even harder to keep things from dissolving into violence. He'd been about to give up and go a few rounds with the man when Buffy had called.

"Buffy," John said after a beat. "That's the girl my son's living with? The Slayer?"

"Yes," Angel said tightly, unsure he could control himself if the Winchester patriarch said anything nasty about Buffy. "She wanted to make sure that whatever was going on with the demon was taken care of. That they wouldn't have to worry about it later on."

"So she knows?" John asked, narrowing his eyes. "She knows about the bigger picture?"

"Buffy's far from stupid. She knows there's more to this than meets the eye. But no, she doesn't know the details about what Azazel was doing there or his connection to Sam."

John flinched at the word "connection" and deflated a little.

"And she's okay with that? Not knowing?"

"As long as it doesn't threaten Sam or anyone else again and as long as she knows whatever it was planning has been stopped, then yes, she's fine with it. Her and Sam are happy, Mr. Winchester. She doesn't want to jeopardize that."

"So, what you know, what you found out about the demon's plans for my son, they die here?"

"That's right, they die here with the demon."

John stared at him for a moment, eyes assessing and thoughtful. A knock came at the door before Angel could determine if the man believed him or not.

"We're ready," Fred said, popping her head in the door.

Angel stood and nodded to Fred.

"We'll be right there," he said, waiting for her to shut the door again before continuing. "I figured you want to see its end with your own eyes."

John's eyes widened slightly. "Its still here?" He breathed. "You're about to…"

Angel nodded and headed for the door, not waiting to see if the other man would follow. He heard the hunter lever himself out of the chair and follow after a second. He had to force himself not to go on the defensive - having John Winchester at his unguarded back wasn't something his instincts approved of.

They made the trip to Fred's lab in tense silence, arriving within minutes to find Fred and Wesley starting through a glass wall into a room beyond while Spike hovered around looking bored. Angel had been here quite a few times in the last few days, so the sight inside was nothing new to him. But John stopped and gaped when he reached Fred's side. There, inside what was like a glass room inside a bigger room, was the demon.

Extracted from its host, it was nothing more than a dark, smoky essences that coiled around and around, constantly testing the perimeters of the box and looking for a weakness. When it noticed its newest audience members, it shifted out of its wormlike form into something more humanoid. Yellow eyes stared out of the darkness and Angel could swear it looked amused.

After watching the demon for a moment, body tense and breath shallow, John pulled his gaze away to take in all the hoses and wires and devices hooked to the box the demon was housed in.

"So what does that thing do exactly?

"It dematerializes the demon at a magical and cellular level. Deconstructing it from its very core, much like an atom-"

"It rips it apart," Wesley interrupted.

"Will it be painful?" John asked, gazed locked back on the demon.

"Um, well, we've never used it before. I guess it-"

"Yes, very," Wesley interrupted again.

Fred threw a look at him that was half exasperated and half grateful.

"Good… I want that sonofabitch to suffer."

"Oh, you don't have to worry about that. We've had some… less than successful tests the last couple days that were probably very unpleasant."

"I think the time it got pulled apart and then snapped back together like a rubber band looked pretty bloody painful, myself," Spike said from his spot leaning against a wall toward the back.

John gave a dark grin.

This was a man who'd let his revenge drive him, shape him, take him over. A man Angel himself had almost become more than once. He wondered if this would be the end of it. If John Winchester would be able to find his way back to the man he'd been before or if it was too late. As Fred flipped the switch, he guessed only time would tell.

Sam sat on the front porch, staring off into the empty lot across the street while Dean leaned against the railing, looking just as bewildered as Sam felt.

"He's coming here? That's what he said? You're sure?" He asked Dean again.

"Uh huh," Dean nodded. "Said he'd be here tomorrow."

Sam shook his head, nervous and excited, but mostly just confused. Dean had run down to the hardware store and when he'd gotten back he'd told Sam that dad had called. Told him to ignore the coordinates he'd left in his journal, he'd get another hunter to take care of it. That he wanted them to stay there in Palo Alto, he was coming to see them.

"Wow, that's… wow."

"I know, dude. It's weird. Why disappear and then just show back up? And he actually said it was time to put hunting on the backburner and concentrate on family for a while."

"So… possessed then?"

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking," Dean said with a smirk, climbing to his feet, obviously having had enough of the speculating. "Well, back to work before your girlfriend breaks out the whip, I guess. Actually, that's not a bad thought…"

"Dean," Sam growled in warning.

Dean cackled and disappeared back in the house. Sam was still sitting there, pondering the upcoming visit with his dad when Buffy joined him.

"Dean says your dad's coming in tomorrow?"

"Yeah, we think he might be possessed."

"We've had plenty of practice with that lately."

Sam huffed out a laughed "No kidding" as she sat down beside him on the swing and he put his arm around her.

"Couldn't he just be coming because he actually wants to see you and Dean?" Buffy asked tentatively.

"I guess… Anything's possible. It's just so unlike him…"

His voice drifted off as he caught sight of Dawn's silver Civic zipping down the street and pulling into the driveway.

"Uh oh," Buffy said, tensing a little next to him. She'd purposely kept her sister in the dark about the events that had gone on a few days ago. Sam had warned her that Dawn would eventually pop up, see the damage to the house and demand to know what had happened. While Buffy had agreed, she still hadn't called.

Dawn hopped out of her car and rushed up the walk, calling out a "gotta pee!" before rushing into the house. Buffy cringed and they both waited. It didn't take long.

"What the hell?" Dawn reappeared on the porch seconds later, looking at them both with wide eyes and pointing back inside. "What happened?"

"Mice," Buffy blurted.

"That were smoking," Sam added.

"Really?" Dawn asked with a flat stare. "You're gonna use the smoking mice on me? And she's got you in on it? That's the worst excuse in the world to recycle."

"I know…" Buffy said, looking confused herself. "It's just always the first thing that pops in my head."

"So what really happened?"

"Demons," Buffy said with a shrug.

Dawn shot a panicked look at Sam, but he just nodded. "Yep, demons."

"And you're- I mean that's-"

"Didn't you have to pee? Running water, flowing rivers, waves crashing, kshhhhh, pee?"

Dawn gave a little whimper and danced around before bolting back into the house.

"You're just delaying the inevitable," Sam pointed out.

"Why do now what you can do later? That's my philosophy."

"Really? Because I was thinking about a few things that we could do now, but I guess we could do them later…"

Buffy looked up at him with darkened green eyes. "Well, there's an exception to every rule…"

He pulled her close and was about to kiss her when the sound of shuffling feet drew both their attention, soon a head of purple hair appeared.

"Mrs. Stanowski! How're you feeling?" Buffy said as Sam stood to help her climb the porch steps.

"Oh, much better!" She said with a little wave as Sam settled her onto the swing. "That was so nice of you to send me to that nice spa. That night out with Faith must have taken more out of me than I thought, I just don't remember anything between then and getting that shiatsu massage."

"Uh… Well, we're glad you're back to feeling like yourself," Sam said.

"I just thought I'd come over and let you know about the new neighbors two houses down," she said, leaning forward and whispering conspiratorially. "Gypsy porn peddlers."

"Wow, that's…" Sam said, holding back a laugh.

"So, are they gypsies that peddle porn or are they peddling porn of gypsies?" Buffy asked curiously.

"Both," she answered and then started in on the details, each part more unbelievable than the last. Dawn poked her head out once, saw Mrs. Stanowski and disappeared back in the house again. After delivering her gossip, the old woman scurried off, surely to find more things to misinterpret and to come up with more outrageous stories.

"We really should say something. Stop her," Sam said.

"No way. I'm guessing having Mrs. Stanowski make crap up about you is some kind of neighborhood rite. Now she's finally off my back and on to someone new."

A loud growl came from Buffy's stomach and she pouted, looking down at it, complaining, "We haven't even done anything today…"

"Come on," Sam said, tugging her to her feet by her hand. "We better get you something to eat before you waste away to nothing."

They went back in the house to find Dean leaning on the wall, hovering over Dawn with his "How you doin'" look. Buffy went rigid beside Sam.

"Dean…" she growled. "I will break every bone in your body and dismember that precious car of yours if you so much as lay one finger on my sister."

Dean gave a little "eep" before rushing off back down the hall.

"Jeez, Buffy! I can hit on the construction guy if I want," Dawn said, hands on her hips.

"That's not a construction guy, Dawn. That's Sam's brother. You really want Faith's leftovers?"

"If they look like that," Dawn said, looking back down the hall. "Hell yeah."

Sam left the two of them bickering and went into the kitchen, looking for a takeout menu. Things here would never be boring, that was for sure. Between rampaging demons, insane sisters, and purple haired old ladies, there was more than enough to keep him on his toes. There was also Buffy. And love. And a home. He had everything he ever wanted here under one roof. He'd never thought it would be possible to have both his hunting life and normal life combined, but here it was on a platter.

He was going to have his cake and eat it, too.

The End