Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural. Written for fun, not profit.

Author's notes: This one-shot will have a follow-up I'll be posting here, so follow this story if you want to read it. SPN setting is season 5. For the flashback scene in the center with Buffy, it's early seasons BtVS, not episode specific.

"Grip Me Tight"

"Why you?"

Dean was staring at a whiskey bottle as if some answer might be contained within, but Castiel was certain the question had been directed at him. Still, he didn't fully understand it, so he cocked his head in question, waiting for Dean to go on.

Dean snorted, letting his eyes drift up. They were wet and intense, but oddly elsewhere. As if he weren't really concentrating on his own question. "I don't think I asked you before…I mean, I've asked myself enough times, 'why me?'… But why you? Why you were sent into Hell after me?"

"I was not alone in the attempt. Several angels tried to breach—"

"Yeah," Dean interrupted, "but that's not what I asked. How'd you end up with the crap job of leading the…" He waved his hand, going back to the empty glass and pouring it full. "Nevermind, Cas. It's not important." The words were almost so quiet, they were lost.

"Because, I had been there before," Castiel answered, softly.

The hunter wasn't paying attention anymore, his mind elsewhere. Castiel watched him with an insatiable curiosity, his eyes roaming over his hands, up his arm to the his short sleeve shirt. Just below the black hem, he could see the edge of his print. The mark was his own, left on the soul to appear on the body.

There was a time when Castiel hadn't known what brand his touch would leave upon fallen, or falling, souls...

A bright flash of light.

Wasn't that the cliché? A bright flash of light at the end of the tunnel? Only, going to the light meant staying dead, right? And Buffy didn't feel very dead at the moment. Disoriented? Yes. But, not a corpse.

Which was weird, because she could have sworn she'd just been in Hell. Right before that bright flash of light had rescued her.

"Buffy? Buffy, are you quite alright?"

She blinked, eyes adjusting to the dim glow of florescence that lit the basement, Sunnydale High edition. It took her another second to realize that the voice was of the stuffy English variety and that her watcher was kneeling down beside her…

"Uh—I'm gonna go with yeah?" She was sure phrasing that in the form of a question wasn't the least bit reassuring. The sound of approaching footsteps forced her to sit up, get a feel for her surroundings, but she relaxed as soon as she saw her friends skid to a stop.

"We chased down the last one—"

"—and its head exploded—"

"—which was gross—"

"—but we're pretty sure that means the spell worked," Willow finished, looking breathless as she shared a grin with an axe-toting Xander.

"Last lizard-demon cult member?" Buffy frowned, the events of the evening coming back to her. Evil cult plotting to sacrifice preschoolers and open the Hellmouth? Check and check. An easy enough battle, she'd thought, going in, but something had went wrong—one of the cult members had…

Buffy reached a hand down, touching her side gently. There was no wound there. Had she imagined one of those long claws digging into her? And, if she'd imagined that part, was the whole accidentally opening the Hellmouth and falling into it part just a zany hallucination, too? She glanced up to see Giles' worried expression…he looked as if he had expected to lose her. That was all the confirmation she needed; it had really happened.

Willow and Xander must have realized something was wrong, because they went quiet, looking the room over as if they expected something evil to jump out of nowhere. Only, it didn't, because the symbol the cult had drawn over the Hellmouth was gone, the floor closed up. As if the Hellmouth hadn't chewed her up and spat her back out again.

"I fell?"

Giles gave one curt nod. "I thought…" He forced out a breath of air, a smile appearing with the effort. "But you crawled back out—you never cease to amaze me."

Buffy figured he was leaving the door open for a sarcastic comment, but she didn't take the bait. "Did you see, um, anyone else come out with me?"

Giles raised a brow. "You believe something escaped?"

"No, nothing like that. I mean…" Buffy frowned, frustrated with her own fuzzy memories.

She remembered free falling, head first, into the flames, but she'd never reached them. They'd never had the chance to consume her.

Something…something had grabbed hold of her. It came as a bright flash of light—hence the whole 'end of the tunnel' trip-out. And then she was back in the real world. No explanation given, not even a cryptic one. But, deep down, she'd had a name for the entity that gripped her, pulled her from Hell's grasp. Healed her, too, because she was pretty certain that had happened faster than even her Slayer mojo could manage…

But, seriously, an angel? A mute giant angel made of light who'd rescued her for absolutely no reason.

"Was today Prophecy Tuesday, or something?"

Giles stared at her. "Pardon?"

"Uh—never mind." Buffy pulled herself up off the ground, wiping the dust off her knee-high boots. "Okay, so on my list of things never to do again—" She broke off, her hand feeling raised skin along her lower hip. She raised the edge of her already short skirt and saw what looked like a handprint burned into the skin of her thigh.

Willow took a step forward, mouth agape. "Oh my God, Buffy—are you alright?"

Then she remembered the way the light had grabbed hold of her, just in time, pulling her up. She knew exactly where it had touched her…

Buffy glanced up, eyes wide in reply to her best friend. She pouted. "How am I supposed to wear that new pink dress I bought with this thing on my leg?"

Would she know him now, in this form? Castiel doubted it.

Back then, it had been mere chance—not an order—that had sent him diving into Hell to grab her. And he had been greatly reprimanded for the action at the time. But, a few years later, when the Slayer had died, he had visited her Heaven, observed her…spoken to her, even without a vessel.

When she had been raised—he had been too obedient, and his re-education too fresh, for him to fight for her, stop her from leaving—she'd not remembered all of her time in Heaven.

No, she might not recall that he ever gave her his name. She might not recall his true form. But she would remember the mark he'd left on her thigh, even though it had long since healed thanks to her Slayer blood.

Castiel had not known that day, when he stopped her fall, that his grip would leave such a print behind…When he pulled Dean from perdition, he was more careful with where he lay his hand.


Castiel blinked—an odd occurrence in itself—and realized that both the Winchesters were staring at him. "Yes?"

"Dude," Dean repeated, his lips threatening to curl up into a grin, "are you blushing?"

Sam raised a brow, concerned. "Is something wrong, Cas?"

"I was…" Castiel hesitated, looking down at his vessel's hand—the brothers were right. He could feel the skin of his cheeks heating at the memory. It was an odd sensation, and should have been troubling, as it was yet another sign of how his absence from Heaven was diminishing his strengths. "…Thinking," he finished.

Sam and Dean shared a look.

"About someone," Castiel concluded.

He flew away before the men could ask another question. He had somewhere he wanted to go, someone he wanted to visit, while he still had wings.