Summary: We're always missing a piece until we come home.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. I don't own anything really. They belong to the brains of The Whedon and The Kripke.
Author’s Notes: BtVS/Supernatural ficlet. A Buffy/Dean Crossover fanfiction. I'm in the midst of writing something larger and more intricate but I needed to venture out to get a break from it and this little ficlet popped into my brain yesterday.
Summary: We're always missing a piece until we come home.
The phone rang.
Buffy Summers reached out to the nightstand blindly, her hand groping the corner of it, then her alarm clock before finding the vibrating phone. It let out a shrill, no-nonsense ringtone and she groaned into her pillow before lifting her head to squint at the screen.
An unknown number popped up, starting with the area code 229. Buffy felt her stomach hollow out as her mind raced through who in the world she knew wherever in the world that area code was from. She had long ago reminded herself that getting excited about receiving a call from him was out of the question. It had been years – years since she had known he was alive.
So who was calling?
She wanted to let it go to voicemail as it was likely some telemarketer calling from the other side of the world, hence the time but she found she didn’t want to. She wanted to answer. She wanted to make sure the hope rising in her chest was going to be crushed quickly when she realized it wasn’t his voice on the other side.
The heavy body in the bed next to her shifted as the shrill sound echoed in the room again and Buffy threw back the covers, glancing over her shoulder at his sleeping body. He didn’t move again and she darted out into the hallway, closing the bedroom door behind her softly.
Glancing once more at the screen, the unknown number, Buffy flipped it open and brought it to her ear. She paused for a second before saying, “Hello?”
The sound of someone exhaling quickly was her response and then, “Buffy.”
Buffy felt her breath catch as she inhaled too quickly, her hand coming up to her forehead. It felt like an explosion set off in her chest as she said, “Dean?”
“Hey,” he said a lilt of that familiar self-made chuckle in his tone. “It’s…” There was a pause and Buffy held her breath, afraid she was dreaming and she was in reality talking to a credit card company. His voice softened, “Hey.”
“Hey,” she said, leaning back against the wall. “I… I tried calling you… a few times,” she finished lamely.
“Yeah,” he replied wryly, “It’s been a long… while.” Buffy frowned. “How are you?”
Buffy breathed out a laugh. “That’s what I get, a how are you?” She heard a sad chuckle in return and she said, “I’m okay. You?”
She could picture the nonchalant look on his face. “I’m good. Uh… I heard you, got married?”
Buffy felt a chill run down the length of her spine and she shook her head saying, “Yeah.”
“Wow,” Dean said. Buffy frowned deeper at the sound of his voice. It was darker, deeper than usual. Graver. Sadder. “Yeah, well, I saw you. I saw him. And you.”
Buffy could imagine him perfectly, sitting on a bed or a chair, his face in his hands, his shoulders slumped as he talked to her. She could hear it in his tone, the way he paused. He wanted to talk to her but he didn’t want to. It was the Dean she remembered oh so well, her Dean.
“So you’re in town. Where?”
“Uh, this real crappy place right outside of the city. Listen, Buffy-“
“No, Dean, where are you?” Buffy asked more forcefully. She could hear a hitch in his voice from the other side and she felt her heart ache at the sound. How many times had she heard that very thing, through the phone, and was unable to reach through to comfort him the way he deserved? How many times had she wondered how much a mortal man could take? How many times had she wished he was anywhere within 100 miles so she could go to him? And now he was here. In Cleveland. Where she was.
“Buffy, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have called. I wasn’t…” Buffy bit her lip, tears coming to her eyes – from frustration or sadness, she didn’t know. “I wasn’t thinking. You’re happy and I’m sorry.”
“Dean, shut the hell up and tell me where you are.”
There was a lengthy pause and Buffy thought he had simply put the phone down when she heard him breathe. “Dean?”
“I’m sorry.” And then he hung up.
Buffy let out an angry, “Stupid man,” before tossing the phone down the stairs. She immediately ran to follow it, snatching it back up and dialing the number he had called from. It went immediately to voicemail, the voicemail for a man with Dean’s voice who called himself Harry Strainer. Right then the bedroom door opened and Stu came out.
“Buffy? What the hell are you doing up?”
Buffy didn’t pause to answer his question as she bolted back up the stairs, two at a time. “I need to go.”
“What? Go where? It’s three in the morning.”
“I know.” Buffy went to the closet, stripping out of her pajamas and pulling on a pair of jeans and long black t-shirt. Rolling her hair up into a sloppy bun, she paused to glance at him, at Stu – the man she had married. She loved him. She knew she loved him. He was normal, he had a day job that didn’t involve anything related to the Hellmouth and he knew nothing about her past besides she had a family she loved very dearly and still visited – without him. He was safety and everything 15-year-old Buffy had wanted. Even now, at 27, she loved the protective feeling she got whenever she looked at him. He was her perfect man and she let him believe she was his perfect girl.
Her life was a beautiful lie and she shrugged past him. “I need to go.”
Stu reached out to grab her arm and she fought the urge – as she always did whenever he or anyone else grabbed her in a way that she didn’t like – to curl her hand into a fist and throw herself back and punch him square in the face. Just because she had retired from the life of being a Slayer didn’t mean she had lost her strength or her instinct to protect herself. It was an entirely irrational reaction but she always got it when Stu grabbed her. He looked down at her, confusion on his face. “I don’t get it, what’s going on? Are you okay? Did something happen?”
Buffy stared up at him, wondering what she should say. The man she loved – Dean – just called her, sounding disturbingly like he wanted to place his head into an oven, after years of no contact. She had honestly started thinking he had died and throughout the years had started coming to terms with it. But then he called. Dean called and he needed her. He never said the words but she knew. He always called when he needed her and now he was close – in town and he had seen her with Stu and he needed her and she didn’t give two rat asses what Stu thought. She shrugged out of his grasp.
“I just need to go.”
And then she was gone.
Buffy drove around for three hours to every motel she could find. The number was useless to try and track and Dean had barely given her more than a vague description of ‘outside the city.’ That could mean very close or very far and so she drove to each one she could find, checking the parking lots for his Impala. It occurred to her about 45 minutes in that she didn’t even know if he still had the car but she didn’t stop. It was Dean.
Buffy knew she should have thought twice before storming out on Stu. But she didn’t care. She didn’t care because Dean had seen her with another man and she hadn’t been able to tell him. Anything. She hadn’t seen him longer than five years and she hadn’t talked to him in four. Her calls went unanswered. He never called her. It was like he just forgot about her and she knew she should be upset but she also knew, in her heart of hearts, that Dean wouldn’t do that. He couldn’t. Because she couldn’t.
And he had just called. He needed her. So she went to him.
The sun was cresting over the city when Buffy got lucky. Super lucky. So lucky that she actually clapped her hands in excitement when she saw the dirty black Impala parked in front of the Water Pines Motel. Pulling in next to it, her heart in her throat, Buffy got out. She tugged her jacket in closer, the chill of the air still surprising her after all these years. Cleveland was definitely chillier than California and even 70 degrees reminded her of that.
It had to be his. Buffy looked at the row of doors in which it was parked in front of. Two of the rooms still had lights on. She could be smart and go talk to the manager but she knew she wasn’t dressed to impress enough to get him to tell her where Dean Winchester was. And she also had no idea what crackhead name he was using to register under. Buffy didn’t care though as she stepped up to the closest one and knocked on the door.
She immediately saw a shadow through the window and she felt her heart constricting, her arms suddenly weak, her legs feeling alien. There was an ungodly moment of time where nothing happened and it was like she was floating outside of her body when the door opened before she slammed right back into it.
The door opened and Dean looked out, a knowing look on his face as he looked down at her. Buffy couldn’t help the ghost of the smile as she looked up at him, letting out a breath she didn’t realize she had been holding. He looked… amazing and tired and like he had aged 20 years from the last time she had seen him. His eyes, the same sea green color she had memorized, traced over her entire face and she bit her lip, afraid she would cry. How many times had she wanted this? Craved his call so she could come to him – finally?
She watched Dean look around behind her – habit, sure, but she couldn’t help but feel guilty about Stu again – before focusing on her once more. “Buffy,” he said, a small smile alighting on his face and Buffy stepped closer to him. She felt like someone dropped lead in her stomach when he matched her, stepping backwards. She frowned.
“What are you doing here?”
Buffy didn’t respond. Instead she stepped forward, following him as he made a show of moving himself out of her reach but she wouldn’t let him. Her hand found his cheek, her eyes never leaving his and he stilled, his face showing everything. She saw the tears in his eyes before he looked away blinking, his lips curling. Buffy smiled up at him sadly as she rubbed her thumb underneath his eye and she reveled in the warmth blossoming in her chest as he leaned into her hand, closing his eyes. The stubble scratched at her hand deliciously, so familiar, so wonderful.
“Buffy,” he breathed, his tone different, happy, relieved.
“Dean,” Buffy said in response. She stepped forward, wrapping her arms around him and he responded instantly, stepping into her embrace, digging his face into her shoulder, pressing his lips against her. Buffy heard a soft sigh from him before he turned his face into her neck, inhaling deeply and Buffy hugged him tightly to her. That stubble that never went away pressed against the delicate skin of her neck and she hugged him harder, standing on her toes to reach him. Buffy felt the hot tears as he let out a shaky breath.
Home. They were home.