Chapter 18

Dean wasn't home when Buffy got in from patrol, which she thought was odd considering the late hour, but she assumed that he was probably with his brother and maybe even socializing with other actual humans. Having Sam around had done a lot to help bring Dean out of his shell, and since getting back on his feet, he'd started having some friendly interactions with people rather than just scowling at them. She'd decided that if everyone had known this Dean – the one who cracked stupid jokes and even smiled sometimes – they never would have believed the horrible lies Quentin Travers told about him.

That evening she had gone patrolling with Faith as a sort of informal farewell, since the Council folks were all leaving the next morning. This Faith wasn't any more comfortable with the mushy stuff than the other had been, so a good old fashioned patrol seemed like the most appropriate sendoff Buffy could give her. Faith was off to unbind all the Slayers and reorganize the Council with Giles as the undisputed new leader. Buffy wasn't at all surprised to hear that Tara would be joining them. They had made it known that she, Dean, and his brother were more than welcome as well, but their work was here.

The town was constantly growing and with every group of newcomers came a new flood of problems, which always included more monsters. Dean said that it reminded him of a Discovery Channel show he'd seen once. It was an episode where they showed big cats following herds of prey as they moved around from place to place. Except, unfortunately, in this scenario the prey were people instead of gazelles. And unlike big cats, many of these creatures were things no one had seen or heard of before, so killing them was often a challenge. Things didn't seem to be slowing down either. A group of fifteen survivors had arrived just the day before. Needless to say, the logistics of feeding, housing, and protecting all these people would keep them busy for the foreseeable future.

So, Buffy was staying where she felt she was most needed, in the place she now called home. She was the Slayer and being on the front lines was her calling. The day-to-day workings of the Council held very little appeal to her. Plus, she trusted that Giles (with Faith at his side) would make much better choices than Quentin ever had. The Council would be there to help the Slayers rather than control them, and they would actually share their information and resources instead of holding them over everyone's head. She doubted they would end up being perfect, but at least their intentions were much purer and hopefully Quentin's mistakes would not easily be forgotten.

XXXXXXXXXX

Just like in her old world, she and Faith had tried to outdo one another while out on patrol. It was once again a friendly rivalry, but one that ensured she ended up covered in stinky demon goo by the time it was all over with. Because of that, her number one goal was to get a shower and make herself pretty before seeing Dean. She was hoping to have some fun with him tonight - strike that - A LOT of fun.

It had been a while. Over three weeks to be exact. After being injured, he'd gotten extremely sick from being exposed to the cold for so long, which kept him down longer than the injuries alone would have. She guessed she could have given him some relief - god knows he'd dropped anvil sized hints - but she'd decided to make him wait for it. She wanted this to be special. It was kind of like their first time in a way, the first time there were no questions or doubts in either of their minds. So, she made him suck it up and wait until she was convinced he had his strength back.

After she got out of the shower, Buffy planned on getting all prettied up. She was going to blow dry and curl her hair, put on a little makeup, and slip into something sexier than blue jeans or cargo pants for once. It wasn't something she had a lot of opportunity to do, and she wanted to look extra pretty this time. But she took a detour to the kitchen first, wearing only her bathrobe and sporting hair that was still damp after being towel dried and combed. It sounded like Dean was in there clanging around, and she wanted to see what he was up to. She'd been surprised that he hadn't insisted on joining the hunt that evening and had a suspicion that something must be going on with him.

As expected, he was in the kitchen, but she didn't like the implications of what he was doing in there. At the moment, he was attempting to pour some boiling water into a smaller bowl he was holding. She remained quiet, so that he didn't accidentally scorch himself with the liquid, and watched as he carefully carried the small bowl to the kitchen table where he had laid out an assortment of herbs, a large knife, and her amber pendant. He must have slipped inside the bathroom and snagged the stone from the counter while she was busy in the shower. The man was stealthy, she'd have to give him that.

"What are you doing?" she asked, trying her best to sound merely curious.

He sprinkled some herbs into the bowl before answering with a rather short, "Finishing a spell."

There was a final step to the unbinding spell. It involved his blood, some herbs, and the smashing of the amber stone. As of now, the power of the binding spell was held trapped inside the polished chunk of amber, but once the ritual was complete and the stone was smashed, the spell would be broken forever.

"What spell?" Buffy asked, although she already knew the answer.

"The spell you didn't finish," he replied with a raised brow. "I was curious about the unbinding spell. Kinda felt like I wasn't getting the whole story, ya know? So I went to see Giles tonight, and he filled me in. Seems there's one more step that you neglected to mention. Guess the 'no more being sneaky' rule only applies to me," he said tightly as he raised the blade with the clear intent of slicing the inside of his arm.

"No, wait!" Buffy said urgently. "Dean, just wait a minute, please."

He shook his head at her. "Come on, Buffy, I'm not an invalid anymore. I can afford to lose a few drops of blood. That was what you were waiting for, right?"

Buffy bit her bottom lip and stood awkwardly for a moment. "I… uh… not really?"

"What do you mean, not really?"

She shrugged and continued to chew on her lip as he watched her intensely. "I mean, I don't want you to go smashing my pretty jewelry."

"The hell? Buffy, that's crazy. If you want jewelry, I'm sure I can find you some. It's dirt cheap these days. Hell, I can deck you out in diamonds if that's what you want."

She reached out and snatched the pendant from the table and held it protectively against her breasts. "I don't want any other jewelry. I want this."

Dean looked truly puzzled and more than a little irritated with her. "What the hell for? Buffy, as long as that thing exists, the magic is still there. Don't you think it's dangerous to leave that kind of mojo hanging around? I don't understand why you kept this from me."

Buffy cringed guiltily. She wasn't exactly setting the best precedent for their newly established rule against secrets. Honestly, she hadn't meant to keep it from him in the first place. "I'm sorry, Dean, I wasn't trying to be sneaky," she attempted to explain. "It's just… I was way too worried about you and about all the other craziness going on around here. I know you're iffy on all the magic-y type stuff, but the only magic that stone holds is what bound me to you, and that doesn't exactly scare me, and I don't want-,"

He interrupted by stepping up close to her and wrapping his hands around her clasped ones, which were both gripped tightly to the stone. "Do you think busting up that stupid rock is going to change anything for me?" he asked seriously. "Is that what this is about? Because that spell didn't make me love you. You do know that, don't you?"

"I know that. I do," she emphasized. "It's not that at all. Just give me a chance to explain, okay?"

Dean's face was set in hard angles as he stood back and appraised her coolly. "I'm listening."

Buffy struggled not to smile. Dean was almost ridiculously handsome when he was angry, but this was a very serious subject for both of them, and she didn't want to rile him up any further. He did have a right to be mad.

"I want it because it represents us," she began. "I mean, us at first. We were both kinda like this yucky, sticky, kind of ugly mess. You know, like tree sap…" Buffy trailed off when she realized Dean was looking at her like she was speaking a foreign language, but she decided to plow forward anyway. She still thought she had a good point, even if she wasn't exactly poetic-girl. "Do you know what amber is?" she asked, trying to take a different approach.

"A rock," he said with a smirk.

"No, it's not a rock. It's a fossil, actually. I think its tree sap, or tree something," she frowned as she tried to recall the exact science behind it. "Anyway, the point is - it's kind of messy and not too pretty, but eventually it gets all solid and stuff, and some of it even becomes something really rare and really beautiful… just like us. That spell is what brought us together, Dean, and yeah it was a really messed up spell and all, but," she shrugged, "without it… I wouldn't have you. We probably never would have met. So, it's what brought us together and now it's all wrapped up in a really pretty stone… and I'm keeping it," she added firmly.

"Give me that," Dean said with a shake of his head as he pulled the necklace from her hands.

For a second, she thought he intended to go through with completing the ritual, but instead he walked around behind her and fastened the chain back around her throat where she always wore it. Then he turned her around and pulled her into a long, slow, and very tender kiss. Buffy nearly lost herself in his arms, but her scrambled brain somehow managed to remember her plan to make this special. She pulled back and pressed her hands against his chest as she struggled to think straight enough to form actual words. "You have to wait, I'm not ready yet."

Dean looked back at her in stunned amazement. "What the hell do you mean, you're not ready? Are you serious? I'm a desperate man."

Buffy rolled her eyes at his dramatics and stood her ground. "I mean, I want to get ready first. Dean, I want to look pretty for you for once. I want to be pretty dream-Buffy instead of plain ole everyday hunting-Buffy. I was hoping this would be special. Look at me, my hair is still-" She was cut off mid-sentence when Dean suddenly snatched her up and tossed her over his shoulder. "Dean! What do you think you're doing!"

"Going caveman," he gloated as he headed toward the bedroom. "Desperate times. Desperate measures. Man's gotta do what he's gotta do."

Buffy was suddenly tossed onto the bed without warning, and had to clutch desperately to the covers when she nearly bounced completely off of the mattress. "Dean! I'm serious. You're ruining everything! I look terrible!"

"Shut up. You look beautiful as always. You're hot as hell and I'm going to strip you down and screw your cute little brains out… and there's not a thing you can do it about. You're all mine tonight," he promised with a grin. He looked way too happy with himself, and she was pretty sure he was setting some sort of speed record for getting undressed while doing it.

"Or I could break all your bones… very slowly," she reminded him with a smirk. "How does that sound?"

Buffy almost got bounced off the bed again when he dove in beside her, but he grabbed her and yanked her under him before she ended up in the floor. He knelt over her, holding her hips between his knees and her hands over her head. "Whatever gets you off," he replied with a grin. "I'm sure you can break my bones. But the thing is, I'm pretty damn sure I'm horny enough to have super strength right now myself. Trust me, I could kill something with the power of this boner alone. So, you're staying in this bed 'till I pass out or die," he added smugly. "You've got some hope, there's always a chance I might give myself a heart attack."

It was hard for Buffy to resist the happy, open smile on his face, even if he was messing with her fantasy of the perfect night. For a while, she wasn't sure if she'd ever see this side of him again, because the nightmares of hell had been so intense when she'd first gotten him back. But, even though she knew he was still having a few - and probably always would - he looked happier right now than she'd ever seen him. So, resisting him was futile.

"You're not playing fair," she gasped as he began kissing and nibbling her from the tips of her fingers down to her shoulders and throat.

"Well, yeah. What did you expect?" He let go of one of her wrists and quickly untied her bathrobe, and pulled the sash from its loops. "Did that perfect fantasy night of yours include getting tied up?" he asked, teasing her by holding the sash up in front of her face. "Maybe you wanted me to spank you before I fucked you really hard?"

"Maybe," she agreed breathlessly.

"Yeah, well tough. I'm a desperate man with simple needs, and I need to get laid. You've been cock teasing me for weeks."

"I have not!" Buffy denied, but she gasped as his fingers found her wet folds and he began swirling his tongue around one of her nipples. "You were sick," she mumbled distractedly.

"Guess you didn't have Marvin Gaye in your world. Sexual Healing, baby," he told her as he raised his head and very deliberately rubbed her clit with just enough pressure to tease her. "You might've gotten what you wanted if you'd given me a taste of that pussy when I needed it. But you just let me lay there and suffer. It was damn tragedy."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "You were mostly unconscious."

"Yeah and you missed a perfect chance to molest me," he winked. "Now I'll just have to fuck you 'till you go blind."

"Dean," she pleaded as she tried to rock her hips against his hand. He had her pinned down by his weight and she could barely move a muscle underneath him. It was a safe, warm feeling though. Always had been, and what was even better was that, this time, she didn't have any doubts she was loved. But, loved or not, he was still being merciless with the build-up. The frustration was absolutely killing her. She felt like she was going to explode. "Please," she pleaded. "Please Dean, I need…"

"You need what?" he asked as he slowly slid his cock inside her. He was even harder than he usually was, something Buffy didn't think was possible. She cried out when he pressed himself in as far as he could go and then quickly pulled back and hit her with one powerful thrust. "How about that?" he asked smugly. "That feel good?"

"Uh huh," she managed to mutter.

"Good, glad you like. 'Cause you're about to take a lot of it," he promised her in a deep gravelly voice, speaking very close to her ear.

Buffy shivered at the low timbre of his voice and the feel of his stubble tickling the sensitive skin below her ear. She wrapped her arms around him tightly and lay back, letting herself get lost in the increasingly powerful thrusts he kept delivering. With the way he was pounding into her, she couldn't think about anything else even if she wanted to. She'd be surprised if he didn't break the bed. Every few strokes, he would swivel his hips and grind into her clit, but he was only doing it just often enough to keep her on edge. As always, he knew exactly where that magic line lay, and he was deliberately getting her as close to it as he could without pushing her over. It was driving her crazy, making her moan and whimper and beg - much to the joy of his ego. She really didn't think she could take it anymore. Then her passion-scrambled brain finally remembered that she was perfectly capable of turning the tables on him, and taking what she so desperately needed.

She gripped his hips tightly between her thighs and rolled them, making sure to keep him buried deep inside of her. The look of shock on his features when he realized she was now on top, quickly dissolved into a passionate leer.

"Hell yeah, baby. Tear it up! Show me what you got."

Buffy took him up on the challenge and let herself go wild on top of him, however, he already had her so wound-up that it wasn't long until she felt the first spasms of her orgasm beginning to overtake her. He groaned her name a bit urgently, but she was too lost in her pleasure to register it. His body went stiff and his hands bit into her hips hard enough to leave prints, not that she was feeling any pain at the moment. She opened her eyes to look at him and he was gritting his teeth as he spilled himself into her. She watched, just happy that she could give him such pleasure. Any thoughts of consequences were very far away. Finally, he opened his eyes halfway and loosened his grip on her.

"I should probably be freakin' the hell out right now, but damn," he said breathlessly. "That was the height of awesome."

Buffy crinkled her nose and shrugged a little. "Sorry?"

This time, Buffy found that she was the one being flipped, leaving Dean on top and still inside of her. He smoothed her hair back and kissed her deeply before saying, "Don't be sorry. I love you and we'll deal with whatever. Don't get me wrong… I'm not sayin' the idea of kids doesn't scare the living shit out of me, but I'd still be proud as hell to be their father. They'd be damn good looking too."

Buffy was a little shocked. She knew Dean was terrified of opening his heart to something he could lose. "I can't believe you're being so cool about this," she said. "You really are mellowing out."

Dean grinned at her and shook his head. "Doubt that. I just don't have enough blood in my brain right now to think straight. It all moved south," he said as he started kissing her again. After a long minute, he pulled back to look at her. "Thank you," he said in a serious tone. "Thanks for saving me. I owe you my life, and I wanted to make sure you knew that. I didn't think it was possible for anyone to save me."

Buffy gazed at up at him, just soaking in the warmth in his eyes. "Wow, feeling kinda underestimated here," she frowned, pretending to be insulted. "I can't believe you're so surprised I could take out a few tweedy guys trying to stage a bad western."

"I didn't mean that," Dean said with a half-smile and shake of his head. "You saved me way before that. You brought me back to life, and because of that, I honestly could've swung from that rope a happy man."

Buffy just stared in wonder and listened, afraid to speak for fear of breaking the moment. This was the most open he'd ever been with her.

"When I met you, I was running on fumes," he added. "I'd gone way past the point of even caring anymore. I was done. Dead inside. Just a shell. I wanted something to rip me open. It was only a matter of time."

"Me too," Buffy whispered as she stroked his cheek. "So, I guess you could say we saved each other." She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and pulled him down close to her, just wanting to savor the closeness. The steady beat of his heart against her breasts relaxed her and lulled her into an almost hypnotic state.

"Hey," Dean said as he rocked his hips forward, exciting her still sensitized nerves. Once again, he was rock hard inside of her. "No sleeping. I told you, you're all mine tonight."

Buffy answered him by moving her own hips in response before promising him softly, "I'm all yours, always."