A/N: This story is No. 5 in the series "A Light in the Dark". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceding stories first. I own nothing

Chapter 1: Back where I started from

Buffy looked at the wall clock impatiently and tapped her pencil on her test book. She was anxious for school to end for the day so she could get home and prepare for Dean and Sam's arrival. Dean had called her two nights ago saying they were headed back that way for some time off of hunting and she couldn't wait to see them again. Things had been a lot better between them this last time he'd left that she was hoping that they'd be able to hang out without any fights or angst. She had made plans to meet Willow and Xander at the Bronze that night to chill and figured she could talk the guys into going.

Finally the bell rang and the students collected their things while Buffy hurried into the hallway and to her locker to get outside and home. She passed a few teachers and students who smiled at her but she paid no attention to them, her mind was on the imminent arrival of Dean and Sam.

When Buffy stepped off the curb and toward the sidewalk, she spied a familiar car and an even more familiar figure leaning on it. Two of them in fact, she saw as she shaded her eyes from the sun's glare. She felt a wide grin break across her face and sped up her pace as she went toward them.

Dean was sitting on the car's hood while Sam leaned next to him, the Impala's stereo blasting music as they talked and laughed while they waited for Buffy. They saw her walking toward them and Sam straightened with a grin. Dean watched her as she came toward them, assessing her for any change or sign of injury since he'd last laid eyes on her. Like always, all the tension he'd been feeling since leaving started to drain away at the sight of her welcoming and happy smile.

Buffy set her books and her bag down and Sam grabbed her in a hug while Dean observed, waiting for his turn. She laughed as she hugged him back and Sam released her and she walked up to Dean. He slid off the hood and grabbed her waist to pull her close, enveloping her in a hug. He breathed in the scent of vanilla and smiled as he felt his heartbeat sky-rocket the way it always did when he was near her. He'd chickened out last time and still hadn't told her how he felt but he would soon. Really. He would.

Buffy pulled back a little and he closed the distance again with a searing kiss and she gave a little murmur in the back of her throat as she wound her arms around his neck. She heard Xander and Willow talking behind her as they came up to the trio but she tuned them out. She kissed him back with equal force and affection and heard Xander drawl, "Geez, get a room already."

Buffy laughed as Dean flipped Xander off but reluctantly the two broke the kiss. She turned in his arms and leaned back against his chest and Dean wrapped his arms around her waist and nuzzled her neck. Sam and Willow fell into a conversation about books and such while Xander looked at Dean and Buffy.

"So, are we Bronzing tonight?" He asked and Buffy turned to pout at Dean who gave a resigned sigh.

"I was kind of hoping we could have our own little homecoming party," Dean whispered in her ear as he kissed just below her neck and Buffy shivered in response.

"I know and we will, but I thought we could go to the Bronze and dance and stuff. You can even hustle pool since you're not great at the dancing thing." Buffy persuaded and Dean thought it over while he lightly scratched her belly. She felt his hands inching up her blouse and giggled as she caught them both and returned them to her waist.

She turned her head again to give him a mock-stern look and he caught her mouth in another kiss and Buffy forgot about everything else but him. She heard Xander start gagging but ignored him and continued kissing Dean. Sam and Willow rolled their eyes at each other but they were both smiling. They were happy to see the pair actually getting along and not fighting that they didn't mind the public display of affection.

"Dean, honey stop." Buffy giggled as he kept kissing her, intent of ignoring everyone else in favor of kissing her senseless. "We'll meet you there, Xand." She told him as she kissed Dean one more time before taking his hand and pulling him to the car.

Dean groaned good-naturedly and slung an arm around her shoulders and his other around Sam's as he pulled his brother away from Willow. He gave Sammy a light shove toward the car and Sam stuck his tongue out at him before waving at Xander and Willow and climbing in the Impala.

Buffy watched Dean bend to pick up her books and wrapped her arms around his waist as he pressed a kiss to her temple. Sam reached into the front and unlocked Buffy's door and Dean opened it for her. Buffy kissed Dean and climbed in and he shut it behind her after depositing her books and her bag into her lap. He circled the car to the driver's side but when he pulled the handle his door wouldn't open.

Dean frowned at Sam in the back seat who made a face at him and at the giggling blond in the front and tried the handle again with no success. He went for the backseat's handle quicker than Sam could reach it and pulled open the door and unlocked his side. He pulled Sam out and dumped him on his ass on the sidewalk. Dean gave his brother a grin and got in, then started the car as Sam frowned and tried to get back in.

Dean waved at him and Buffy gave Sam an apologetic look before he peeled out, leaving his brother still standing on the sidewalk. Dean glanced back at Sam in the rear view mirror as his brother pushed his hair out of his eyes and watched the car drive away. Buffy turned in her seat and lightly punched Dean's arm.

"That was so mean!" She protested as she watched Sam sigh and start walking after them. "Turn around and go back." She told him and he ignored her and kept driving. "Come one Dean, it's hot out today; he'll get dehydrated before he gets halfway to my house."

"That's his problem then, the bitch. Shouldn't have locked me out." Dean told her and continued to her house. "Besides, if he gets dehydrated that easily than he needs to start drinking more water, a hunter's gotta be at the top of his game in any weather."

Dean gave her a grin as he pulled up at the curb of her house and she shook her head at him as he climbed out again. He went around to her side to open the door and she got out, and then leaned back against the closed door. He put his hands on her hips and leaned close for a kiss and chuckled when she made that little murmur again.

He slid one hand around to the small of her back and up to splay across her shoulder blades while reaching up to pull the band out of her hair. Her blond locks fell in a halo around her and he tangled a hand in the silky strands as he deepened the kiss. God, this was heaven, having her in his arms was so freaking amazing.

Buffy felt her knees start to get weak and pulled away to look at him, and he met her gaze with the same amount of heat in his. She sucked in her bottom lip and he followed the movement, and then tugged her close again for another kiss. Buffy placed her hands on his chest and he pulled away with a groan. He covered her hands with his own and she smiled at him then turned to lead him inside the empty house. Joyce was supposed to be getting in later that night but for the time being they were alone.

When they reached the porch Dean backed Buffy against the door, and she kissed him back with a slight wince as her head hit the door. He broke away to mutter an apology but she ignored it to trail kisses along his neck and he growled. He fumbled for the door knob and pushed it open while pulling her against him and he kicked it shut.

Buffy adjusted her hair and laid her head on his chest as she listened to his heart beat, then trailed her finger tips over the scars on his chest. They laid in silence as he watched the fan and she examined the scars on his tanned skin. She angled her head to look at him and he gave her a relaxed smile.

"Hi." He said softly and she giggled, then propped herself up on an elbow to look at him. He ran his hand over her bare back and through the ends of her hair.

"Hi?" She repeated and he shrugged.

"I'm kinda brain dead princess, hi was the only thing that came to mind." He smirked and she rolled her eyes before looking at her door. Sam would be returning soon and her mother right after that and she still needed to get ready to meet Willow and Xander at the Bronze. He reached a hand out and touched her jaw and she looked back at him. "We gotta get up now huh?" He asked with a wince.

When she nodded he sighed and pulled her close for one more kiss before releasing her so she could get up. He put his arms behind his head as he watched her collect her clothes from the floor and walk to her closet to pick out an outfit. He watched her rifle through her clothes and pull out a few outfits for his opinion. He either shook his head or nodded at what he liked and made idle comments about exactly how he'd like to remove them later just to see her blush and smirked when she did.

Dean watched as she dressed and she grabbed his own clothing when she tossed them at him with a smile. He heaved a put-upon sigh and stood to dress while she applied her makeup and did her hair. He caught her glancing at him as he dressed so he made sure to pull his clothes on slowly and gave her a cocky wink that made her blush again.

Satisfied, Buffy reached for her purse and the door knob and Dean followed her out of her room and down stairs just as the door opened and a sweating Sam entered. He scowled at Dean and Dean gave him a smirk.

Sam gave Buffy's cheek a swift kiss and pushed past his brother and up the stairs to the bathroom, muttering "Jerk" as he passed Dean.

"Bitch." Dean replied automatically and Buffy rolled her eyes and headed for the kitchen for a soda. "Hurry it up slow poke or we'll leave without you, again.

Sam grumbled obscenities at Dean as he shut the bathroom door and Buffy gave Dean an exasperated look as he came into the kitchen, his hands in his pockets. "Must you be so mean to him?" She asked and he scoffed.

"Of course I do, Big brother privilege and all that." He answered and ducked his head into the fridge to pull out the makings for a sandwich. Buffy sat on the stool and watched as he made a sandwich, telling her about their latest cases while they waited for Sam.

Buffy filled Dean in on the newest development with Faith involving the mayor and her alliance with him, as well as the upcoming ascension. Sam came back into the kitchen and heard them talking and leaned against the doorway as she went on about how Angel had posed as Angelus to fool Faith. Dean's struggled to keep his expression from clouding as he pictured Faith chaining Buffy up and at the mention of her ex. He still didn't like the leech.

He tried to blow it off when he felt Sam watching him for a reaction and went back to his sandwich. He pushed off the counter and led the way to the door, Buffy and Sam following with a shrug and shared look.

"Well now that we're all caught up, let's get this show on the road kiddies." Dean said and he held open the door for Buffy. He gave her an exaggerated bow and she giggled as she walked past him and to the car. Dean shoved Sam past him onto the porch and they started a mini-brawl on the lawn that was broken up by Buffy pulling Sam off Dean. She looked at them both and heaved a sigh. She brushed the grass off their clothes and they looked at her them each other, properly chastised.

"He started it!" They both said and Buffy fought the urge to laugh as they both glared at each other.

"Bitch," said Dean.

"Jerk," said Sam.

"Guys!" Buffy interjected and they both stopped scowling at each other to look at her. "The Bronze?"

Dean straightened his clothes and Sam shook the grass and leaves from his hair and they all climbed into the Impala to meet Xander and Willow. Things were back to normal, the way it should be, Buffy thought.