Supernatural, Buffy!AU: 'Angels and Grasshoppers'
Title: Angels and Grasshoppers
Fandom/s: Supernatural, Buffy-style AU
Warnings: Language, character death, strong religious themes and shameless crack.
Pairings: Dean/Castiel, Sam/Jess
Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Edward Bond’s ‘IF’. I am making no profit. Spoilers for Buffy and SPN, seasons 1-5.
Notes: 1. Title based on a midrash on Numbers 13:32-33 (paraphrased): ‘I [G-d] take no objection to your saying “we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves,” but I take offense when you say “so we must have looked to them.” How do you know how I made you to look to them? Perhaps you appeared to them as angels.’
2. For religious purposes, the words ‘L-rd’ and ‘G-d’ are not written out.
3. Thanks to my wonderful beta amory_vain. Without her encouragement, corrections and suggestions, this would never have been written!
Summary: Being the Vampire Slayer is difficult enough for Dean Winchester, without having to deal with finding the key to Hell, stopping the apocalypse, and falling in love with a virtually indestructible angel-vampire-thing. Welcome to Sioux Falls, Hellmouth.
We remain human only by changing.
- Edward Bond, ‘IF’.
“Where are we?”
Castiel pulled his hand from the demon’s head and stared out across the dry land, a small smile crossing his features. “Meg once asked me to take her to my favourite place. It wasn’t possible at the time; there was a battle.”
The demon wearing Meg’s body frowned, eyes flashing black in the darkness. “And you have brought me here to… teach me a lesson? Convince me to free her? You don’t even know if the Slayer’s still in this body.”
“This is the site where my brother wrestled with Jacob,” Castiel explained, standing tall. This was the closest to holy ground that he could come anymore, and it felt like a faint impression of home. “Meg’s body is descended from him. Can you feel it?”
For a moment, Castiel imagined the demon almost looked regretful. “This isn’t going to work, you know.”
“I know,” Castiel replied. The wind whipped at his hair, causing his coat to move as if it were reaching for Meg. “You are going to lose.”
Meg’s body shook with laughter. “We’re going to win. I can feel it. And you’ll join us, eventually.” She tilted her head upwards and toward the wind. Castiel had to turn away; she looked too much like Meg in this state. “This is better than fighting,” she admitted eventually. “I can’t hurt you physically, but oh, emotionally.” She laughed then, and suddenly was much less like his friend.
“You are going to lose,” Castiel repeated, this time with more feeling. “My Father will not allow you victory. But if you leave Meg’s body now, you will be given nonexistence.” He took in a deep breath of clean air, but it felt like nothing. “If you fight, you will be locked in Hell forever.”
“Your Father hasn’t been answering your calls, angel-boy,” the demon pointed out, mouth stretched into a grin. “My Father walks the Earth.”
Castiel’s eyes narrowed. “Hell won’t be worth this.” It never was.
The silence stretched out between them, and Castiel felt ancient as he stared at the space in which Jacob had wrestled the angel. The demon next to him was fresh, new to life, having just opened her eyes as Meg lost consciousness; Castiel had been watching the Earth for millennia.
“You’re an idiot,” Meg said eventually.
Castiel turned slowly and watched her with tired hatred. “Explain yourself.”
“There’s already another Slayer.” Her mouth curled into a cruel smile. “Meg is gone. The next Vampire Slayer was Chosen 361 days ago, and you didn’t even notice.”
Castiel couldn’t control the instinctive flinch backwards. Judging by Meg’s gleeful expression, she had finally found the sore spot she was looking for. “You’re lying, demon. Meg is the Slayer.”
“You’re fooling yourself, vampire,” she replied. And then, more significantly: “361 days, Castiel.”
With a flutter of wings and a gust of wind, he was gone.
The most annoying thing about being the fate-appointed Slayer was that it was a full-time job. Once upon a time, Dean Winchester had assumed that he could slay vampires at night and have a life during the day, but between sleep, research, training and investigating, there was barely any room to care for his baby.
Dean sighed as he looked back at the Impala before turning away to answer his phone. “Sammy,” he greeted, narrowing his eyes against the sun. “Shouldn’t you be in class?”
“Cancelled,” Sam answered in a hushed voice. “Dean, you’ve got to get to Lincoln. Someone’s been killed.”
“Vampires?” Dean asked, ducking into Bobby’s shop and snatching a few stakes from one of the boxes. “You think the bastard’s hiding from the light?”
Bobby frowned at him from across the shop, but didn’t comment as Dean prepared to leave work.
“No,” Sam replied. “Dean, there’s not a mark on the body. It’s weird. The body’s gone now, but I’ve got pictures.”
Dean chuckled, wiping his hands on a dark cloth. “That must’ve looked real classy,” he commented. “I’ll be there in ten. Wait outside for me.” He hung up and looked at Bobby. “Dead kid at Sam’s school,” he explained, “not a mark on the body. Sound familiar to you?”
Bobby raised his eyebrows. “You want me to do some reading?”
“No, Bobby, I want you to fix the damn cars. What is a Watcher supposed to do?”
“Mostly just make sure you idjits don’t get yourselves killed,” Bobby snapped, and then his expression shifted into something more thoughtful. “It’s Sam’s first day at Lincoln, and there’s a murder. I don’t like the sound of that.”
Dean’s mouth pulled up into a sardonic smile. “Well after the fire, I guess this is karma, or whatever.” At Bobby’s stern look, Dean lifted his hands. “Hey, Bobby, you know I had to burn the gym down, it was full of vampi—” The bell on the shop door rung, and Dean’s mouth snapped shut.
“Asbestos,” Bobby finished for him. “I’ll do some research.” As Dean walked past the customer and out the door, he heard Bobby mutter, “Dumbass.”
“Slayer,” he breathed, recognising the man walking past the school gates.
Sam stood next to a blonde girl who had her arms drawn around herself, a deep frown creasing her features. “My mom wants me to go home,” she admitted as Dean approached them, looking up at the sasquatch who called himself Dean’s little brother. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay? And I’ll buy you that coffee. Just… not tonight.”
“No, that’s fine,” Sam replied, blushing. Dean groaned, and they both turned to look at him.
“Seriously, Sammy, she’s washing her hair,” he said.
Sam glared. “Don’t be a jerk,” he warned, hitting Dean in the arm with his folder.
“Don’t be a bitch, then,” Dean replied.
The girl laughed, surprise evident on her face. “I’m Jess, you must be Dean,” she introduced herself, and then smiled at them both. “I’d better get home before my mom thinks something’s happened to me. See you tomorrow, Sam.”
Sam watched her walking away, expression besotted. “Snap out of it,” Dean said. “I want corpse pictures.”
The body really was unmarked. If it wasn’t for the terrified expression on the girl’s face, Dean would have assumed it was a natural death. “We should check out the school,” he said, still staring at the picture on his brother’s phone. “How long until the kids leave?”
“They’re mostly gone,” Sam answered, glancing around. “The principal gave us the rest of the day off, but there’re still teachers around. Should we wait until after dark?” he asked.
“And be followed home by vampires? No way,” Dean replied. “We’re checking it out in broad daylight. I have a date with a stake after dark.” After looking for a response, Dean rolled his eyes. “Oh come on, Sam, not the bitch face.”
Sam’s expression deepened. “Dean, I don’t want to be caught wandering around school after someone died. We don’t need trouble from them, too. We should… hide until dark, or something.”
Dean pointed at the sun. “That’s not going down for hours!”
“We hid in a crypt for nine hours once,” Sam pointed out. Dean scrunched up his nose; that hadn’t been a fun night. Sam had fractured his ankle, and Dean hadn’t dared leave while Sam was unable to run. He’d been new to vampires, then; it seemed second nature to take stupid risks now. “Come on, Dean. We’ll sit in the shower cubicles, and you can call Bobby or something.”
Dean followed reluctantly, muttering dark things behind Sam’s back.
Okay, so the lack of free time wasn’t the most annoying thing about being the Slayer; it was the constant waiting for things to happen. Since he’d become Slayer, Dean’s body seemed to be perpetually tense; he was always ready for an attack, and it was annoying. It made the muscles in his back ache.
“Think it’s late enough yet?” he asked, turning to Sam.
Sam’s head hit the lockers they were leaning against, and he sighed. “No, Dean,” he replied, looking up at the ceiling. “Quit asking.”
It wasn’t Dean’s fault that the world managed to be boring, even when crawling with vampires. He stretched his neck, imagining girls undressing in front of where he was sitting. Why couldn’t they be hiding out when there were classes going on? At least that would be entertaining.
He twirled the stake around between his fingers and put on his condescending parent voice. “So what did you learn at school today?”
“Shut up,” Sam replied, but at least he was smiling now. “At least I’m going to graduate, dumbass.”
Dean snorted. “I’m the Slayer. I don’t need to graduate, I’m a professional already.” Bored with this conversation, he resumed staring out the window. It was quickly getting darker now. Soon, things would be out to play. “Want to get pizza after we’re done kicking ass?”
“No ketchup,” Sam replied, and Dean laughed before a loud crash tore through the air.
Sam and Dean were standing in an instant, staring out at the locker room. Dean raised his stake slowly, and passed Sam his spare. “Thought you said it wasn’t late enough?” he asked, moving around the edge of the lockers.
“It’s not,” Sam hissed back.
Another crash rang from outside the locker room. The Winchesters followed the sounds, poised with their stakes. When they got to the door, Dean glanced at his brother before moving in front, holding the doorknob tightly before turning it, and—
Dean breathed out, looking from one side to the other. The dark halls were completely empty, but a bulletin board had been torn off one wall and thrown against another. Dean glared down at it, and then Sam grabbed his arm.
“Dean!” he said, and when Dean looked up there was a girl at the end of the hall. By the time Dean had taken his first step, she was gone.
“Hey!” Dean shouted, taking off after her. He listened to her footsteps, ears sharply focusing in a way they hadn’t before he had been Chosen, and when he turned the next corner he saw her coattails disappear out of the open window.
The edge of the frame dug into his stomach when he leaned out, but there was no sign of a body. He glanced up at the sky; the sun had yet to set. “I guess we found the culprit,” he said, looking back to Sam. “Go find Bobby. I want answers. Kick him if you have to,” he said.
Castiel watched the new Slayer at work, fighting off several vampires at once. It was true. The demon possessing Meg’s body had not been lying.
This meant that prophecies did not give them much time. The silver cross he held burned into his palm, and he tightened his fingers.
There was a girl on Dean’s front porch. He grasped his stake tightly, glaring at her, and she raised her gun in response. However, when her eyes fell on the stake the gun was lowered.
“Slayer?” she asked, eyes searching his as he drew nearer. “Dean?”
“Why the hell are you outside my house?” Dean asked, not lowering his stake.
The girl blinked, suddenly amused. “I’m here with my mom,” she explained. “Ellen Harvelle? Bobby asked us here. I’m Jo.”
Dean accepted that and nodded, finally shoving his stake into his pocket. He’d learned quickly to be suspicious of everyone, regardless of whether or not his first instincts said they were human. Luckily, neither demons nor vampires could enter a home without being invited, and Bobby went to the lengths of leaving lines of salt across the doorways and windows. “It’s not safe out here after dark,” he pointed out, opening the door and looking at Jo expectantly.
Jo stepped over the threshold without hesitation, uninvited. “I know,” she replied simply, and when Dean looked back at her she was smiling.
“Bobby?” he called out, stashing the stake on a set of drawers as he moved into the front room. Bobby was sitting with another woman, both clutching glasses of whiskey. They looked up at him, silent. “What?”
Bobby nodded to the spare chairs. “Sit down. And stay quiet. We have news.”
“Why are there people here? You don’t have friends, Bobby,” Dean stated, sitting down and pouring a drink for himself. He was beginning to ache from the fight, and a scrape was stinging up his forearm. The whiskey would dull it.
Bobby glared, and then nodded to the woman next to him. “This is Ellen. She’s something of an expert on demons.”
Ellen did not smile at Dean, but she seemed warm nonetheless. “My husband was the last Slayer’s Watcher,” she explained. “And thank you, Dean – you’ve given us a lead on the demon that took her.”
“Took her?” Dean asked, looking from Ellen to Bobby. “You mean who killed her?”
“You’re here,” Jo said from slightly behind him, in a quiet voice. “So I guess she must have died.”
Dean nodded. “When one Slayer dies, another is called. Got it. So your Slayer bit the dust because of the same demon who killed Sam’s schoolmate.”
“Possibly,” Ellen replied. “The demon who took Meg was—she was made to feed the same way, we think. Though it’s Azazel we were originally after. Before Meg—before Meg, he was the only recorded demon who killed this way. It makes sense for them to be here, since you’re here.”
“So Dean’s in danger?” Sam asked from the doorway. “I mean, more danger than usual?”
Dean rolled his eyes as he took a drink. Trust Sam to fly to this conversation like a moth to the flame.
Ellen did smile this time. “Maybe. It looks like he took Meg just because she was the Slayer, but I think there was another reason. I think he was trying to get to a friend of hers.” She looked at Bobby this time. “Jo and I are going to stick around, just in case. See if he turns up.”
“You’re welcome to stay here,” Bobby said gruffly. When Dean pushed away from the table, he went on: “That’s not it. Dean. I looked through the past deaths.” He looked at Dean, more seriously than he’d ever seen. “Your mother’s name was there.”
Dean’s hands clutched the table. “This demon, he has yellow eyes?” he asked, sounding oddly blank to his own ears. When Ellen nodded, Dean closed his eyes and breathed deeply, steadying himself, before turning to Sam. Their eyes met, and Sam’s expression turned grim.
Dean downed the rest of his whiskey before heading back to the door.
Bobby didn’t stop him from leaving, but Sam followed him to the porch. “You really think you should drink and then go on a hunt?”
“You really think you should nag me about this?” Dean replied, turning to look back at him. “This is big, Sam,” he pointed out, “so I’m going to kill a few bastards, and you’re going to write in your diary or whatever you girls do, and then we’ll talk shop tomorrow. Got it?”
The last time Dean had seen the Demon was the night that he had been Chosen as Slayer – the night that his father died. In retrospect, it must have been the same night that the former Slayer had died, too. Dean wondered if those public attacks from the vampires had been related; perhaps they had known there was no trained Slayer walking the streets that night. Perhaps John Winchester had only died because the last Slayer’s death had caused that uprising. Dean’s fist clenched around the stake, eyes narrowing as he finally saw movements in the shadows.
And now it seemed the Demon was following him yet again. He had already taken his mother, and then indirectly his father – what else did he want? Had he known Dean would be the Slayer, even as a four-year-old? If it was Dean he was after, why did he let Dean go the night that his Dad had died?
As per usual, Dean’s presence acted as a vampire-magnet. There were three vampires surrounding him, their faces in ugly twists and teeth shining in the light of the lampposts. Dean wasted no time before beginning the fight, throwing fists and kicks on pure instinct. Bruises were collected, but instead of feeling pain Dean felt nothing but anger.
He was going to find the Yellow-Eyed Demon and tear the bastard a new one.
When the last vampire crumbled to dust at Dean’s feet, he noticed another figure watching. Dean lifted his chin in invitation to fight, but the soft planes of the man’s face were human. The expression was more curious than surprised, so he was either a vampire uninterested in fighting, or a human uninterested in the supernatural.
“What’re you lookin’ at?” Dean asked, wiping blood from his lips. He had barely noticed that punch before it had landed. Fucking lucky shot.
The man tilted his head to one side, and his trench-coat flapped around his legs in the wind. “You are the Slayer,” he said simply.
“No shit,” Dean replied, beginning to feel uneasy. If this was a vampire, he should be killing him, not having a chat with the guy. “You want to fight, or are you just going to stare?”
The man’s eyebrows drew together now, and he shifted into a more upright position. “I’m no enemy to Slayers,” he replied. His voice was low and gravelly, and it seemed that everything else was silent in waiting for his words.
“Great to hear,” Dean replied sarcastically. “I don’t really need any more friends though, buddy.”
“It has been many years since we’ve had a male Slayer,” the man pointed out, curiosity deep on his features. He took a step forward, further into the yellow light of the lamppost.
“You telling me I’m doing a chick’s job?”
To his surprise, the man laughed. It was only for a very brief, awkward moment, but it softened out the lines of his face. It looked as if he hadn’t laughed for a long time. “I’m here to warn you,” he said, back to being serious as if the laughter had never happened. “The girl that you saw in the school—”
“You were watching me?” Dean asked, frowning. “The hell, are you my stalker or something?”
“You must avoid her,” the man finished, ignoring his question. “There is a prophecy, and we need to figure out what it means before we attempt to take either of the demons on.”
Dean stepped closer to the man, losing patience. He wasn’t going to be told what he couldn’t hunt by this loser. “I’ll ‘take on’ who I damn please,” he said darkly. “That girl killed some kid, and the other demon has killed more. I’m not giving them a free pass just because some stranger doesn’t want me to play the game.”
The man stared at him for several long moments, eyes tracing his expression. “You are stubborn,” he eventually concluded. “However, I am not telling you to let her go. I’m telling you that it is not time to take her on yet.” When Dean rolled his eyes and went to speak, the man interrupted hastily: “You don’t understand, Slayer. Neither of the demons in question can be killed.”
Dean’s indignation vanished in an instant, filling the space with curiosity. “What? Everything can be killed.”
“Not everything,” the man replied, “at least, not by brute strength. I am still looking for a way to kill these demons, but the search has been… uninformative. They seem to be unique among Creation. I believe that Lucifer crafted Azazel for a specific purpose.”
“I’ll kill them,” Dean promised.
The man was close enough that Dean could see the tiny shift in his face. It wasn’t a smile, but it was something close. “I do hope so, Slayer,” he replied. “But you have 251 days. Please avoid putting yourself in unnecessary danger before we know how to kill them.” He looked like he was debating with himself for a moment before adding, “Unless you can prevent it, Hell will open.”
Dean’s eyebrows shot up. “How do you know that?” he asked, quickly followed by: “Why should I trust you?”
“It is prophesied that the apocalypse will start 613 days after you’re Chosen as the Slayer. You have 251 left, if I’m not mistaken.”
“You really are my stalker,” Dean replied. “And if you think I trust you for a moment, then you’re an idiot.”
The man tilted his head again, and it wasn’t until this movement that Dean realised how close they were now standing. There was barely a foot left between them. Dean moved backwards, giving himself space, and the man continued to stare.
“You shouldn’t trust me,” he eventually replied. “You’re the Slayer; you should trust no-one. However, you should always listen.” He held out his fist, and for a moment Dean thought that he was proposing a fight or possibly an incredibly awkward fist-bump, but then he saw the large crucifix pendant hanging from his hand. “Take this.”
“Dude,” Dean replied, staring at it. “You’re giving me jewellery? You’re already weird and creepy enough, trust me.”
The man blinked, and then looked down at the cross and back up at Dean. “It’s a crucifix,” he said, sounding oddly like he simply meant ‘duh’. “It will be useful in keeping you alive.”
When Dean refused to take it from his hand, the man reached up and clasped it around his neck. Dean’s heartbeat sped as the stranger’s forearms pressed against his shoulders, a look of complete concentration on his face, and he told himself it was because the proximity could lead to strangulation, not anything else. Creepy tax accountants were not his type.
The man withdrew, and the cross hung awkwardly around his neck.
“Anything else?” Dean asked, his voice deeper than he’d intended. He cleared his throat.
Their eyes met again, and then the man glanced skyward. Sunrise would be coming in a few minutes. This gesture made Dean suspicious, but the man had held a crucifix – had he been a vampire, it would have burned a hole in his hand. “I must leave,” he said simply. “Good luck, Slayer. Be safe.”
“It’s Dean,” he said as the man pulled away. “Dean Winchester. Not just ‘Slayer’.” The man nodded, and took another step back. “This is generally the part where you say your name, you know.”
“It’s unimportant,” the man replied, and then repeated: “Be safe.”
Dean watched him walk away; the man moved with purpose, with his tan coat whipping behind his legs and his arms straight at his sides. He did not look back.
He took off the crucifix and pocketed it as he walked back home. Bobby was going to have to check it out for curses, and even then he’d be damned before he wore it.
Dean turned the conversation in his mind several times that morning, trying to figure out who the stranger was. He didn’t feel human, but he didn’t feel evil, either. This was going to be a tough one.
“That’s it?” Sam asked, frowning out the window of the Impala at the school building. “‘Don’t kill the demons, 251 days until the apocalypse, here’s a necklace, try not to die’?”
Dean nodded, drumming his fingers against the wheel. “And Bobby says there’re no curses.” He paused, glaring through his sunglasses at the car parked in front of them. “He disappeared before the sun rose, but if he was a vampire he couldn’t’ve held the cross, right?”
“Maybe he just really had to be somewhere?” Sam suggested, and then shrugged. “I don’t know, Dean. It’s weird.” He stared at his brother for several moments, frowning. “And you haven’t slept.”
“We’re going to kill them anyway,” he said simply.
Sam nodded. “I know. D’you think the Demon’s back for us? That he’s got a thing against Winchesters? Or Slayers?”
“I’ve no idea,” Dean admitted. “And I plan to sleep all day, so you can do some research when you feel like it. You could rope the chicks into it,” he suggested, and then was promptly distracted by his own wording.
Sam opened the car door, and waited with one foot outside. “Well, Jo does want to be a Watcher,” he replied. “You know, Dean, if this guy was telling the truth—” Sam looked uncomfortable. “If he’s telling the truth, we’ve got to stop an apocalypse.”
“Sam!” Sam’s head shot up, and he almost hit his head as he climbed clumsily out of the car. The girl from the day before – Jess – was running up to him. Dean waved at his brother, and then started the car again.
Jo was sitting on the porch when he got home, a huge book resting on her crossed legs. She looked up and smiled as Dean approached. “Morning,” she said, then looked back down at the book. “How was hunting last night?”
Dean shrugged, moving to sit down beside her. “Sam tells me you want to be a Watcher. Dull job, if you ask me.”
“You can’t exactly aspire to be a Slayer,” Jo pointed out. “That’s something fate chooses for you.” She paused. “My dad was a Watcher. He loved his job.” At Dean’s questioning look, she added: “He died just before Meg was taken.”
Dean looked up at the bright sky. “Was it the same demons?” Jo didn’t answer, but that was enough for Dean. The Yellow-Eyed Demon had taken too much from everyone. Whatever the mysterious (creepy) stranger told him, he was going after the demons. “I’m going to bed,” he informed the girl, before hesitating and giving her a smile.
She laughed. “Don’t even think of asking if I’m going to join you,” she warned.
“Suit yourself,” Dean replied, and then stood and walked into the house. He passed Bobby and Ellen on the way, sitting at a desk with more books. If Dean had to have any job in this house, it would definitely be the slaying and not the researching.
When he reached his room, Dean removed the crucifix from his pocket again and placed it on the desk. For some reason, even with the salt lines at his window and every door, the crucifix made him feel better. Dean considered himself a man of little faith, but the glint of the silver cross comforted him as the energy seeped from his body.
Dean dreamed of yellow eyes, former Slayers and a mysterious stranger.
Several days passed with no news of stalkers or demons, but the household seemed to be constantly occupied with research. It made Dean feel vaguely useless, but apparently the texts that were being looked at were in Aramaic or something, and he really didn’t feel like attempting to translate for what appeared to be no reason. Instead, he focused on Slaying and fixing cars while Bobby sat at his desk reading.
In Dean’s opinion, both Bobby and Sam were taking the threat of a possible apocalypse way too seriously. Their only clue had come from a stranger who just happened to know he was the Slayer. For all Dean knew, the guy’d been stoned out of his mind.
On top of that, the would-be-Watcher was jumping on any opportunity to talk about him. It started out as a general curiosity and questions about why he thought he was being followed, but the moment Dean mentioned that he said he was “no enemy to Slayers”, Jo had pounced on the issue like that cryptic sentence was somehow important.
“What did he look like?” she asked, leaning over the hood of the car to look Dean in the face.
Dean frowned at her. “Like a creepy stalker,” he replied slowly, as he’d used that description at least three times. “Not like a hanging-out-in-the-cemetery stalker… more like a ‘you can have these sweets if you get in my van’ stalker. Or maybe an accountant.”
Jo nodded as if he was making perfect sense, even as Sam snorted behind them. Dean decided he quite liked her, annoying questions or not. “And he told you that you have 251 days. Why 251? Why would he say that?”
“It’s possible he was just trying to scare Dean,” Sam pointed out. “Nobody’s comfortable with a countdown.”
“I just don’t get what he’s counting down from,” Jo said, and then sat down by the wall and leafed through her book again.
Dean looked over his shoulder to Sam, who shrugged.
On top of Jo’s curiosity about Creepy Stalker Guy and the Aramaic-or-something texts he kept finding around the house, Dean did find himself counting down. He wondered if this was what the stranger had wanted; by the time he got to 245 days, Dean had begun looking through Sam’s calendar to see what day would be day 0.
“Why 613?” Dean asked in another conversation with Jo, days later. “That’s what he said: 613 days since I became Slayer, 251 left. Random number to start with.”
Jo slammed her book shut, scowling. “Why didn’t you tell me that?” she asked, looking frustrated. “I’ve been asking about it for days!”
“Whoa,” Dean replied, holding up his hands. “I didn’t realise it was important.”
At Dean’s blank look, she explained: “613 commandments, Dean. There were 613 commandments to Israel. That has to be significant somehow.”
“I thought there were ten commandments,” Dean replied, baffled.
“Why does that matter?” Sam asked from behind them, and Dean allowed his head to hit the back of the sofa. Sam really was attracted to these conversations. “Is it a day for every commandment, or something?”
Jo looked just as confused. “You’ll have to ask next time you see him,” she told Dean, who entirely hoped there would not be a next time. “I need to…”
She stood very abruptly, leaving the book behind, and rushed out of the room. Dean cleared his throat. “Everyone needs to stop being weird,” he declared, glaring at Sam, who just shrugged at him.
245 days until a possible apocalypse. At least that would keep him busy.
Somewhere along the way, the five of them fell into a routine: Jo, Ellen and Bobby woke early to study while Sam went to school and Dean slept, and then Dean picked Sam up from school and they crowded around Bobby’s shop. The other four spent their time studying, and Dean worked on the cars. It worked surprisingly well, until the search for information became fruitful.
“I’ve got something,” Ellen declared one day from Bobby’s desk, two books lying open in front of her. “It’s in Spanish,” she explained, looking up, “but I’m pretty sure I’ve got some reports of a man with yellow eyes, killing people… ‘as if they were sleeping’. That sounds like what we’re looking for.”
Dean had to restrain a surge of anger as he thought of his parents. He was going to kick some demon ass once he found the bastard. “When’s it from?” he asked in a rough voice.
Ellen looked back down, narrowing her eyes at her notes. “Late nineteenth century,” she said, and then frowned suddenly. “Bobby, do you remember who the Slayer was in 1891? Do you have the records going that far back? I seem to remember she was Spanish.” She paused, and Dean knew what she was going to ask next. “I want to know how she died.”
After that, the traces of the Yellow-Eyed Demon (who Ellen and Jo called Azazel) showed up everywhere. It was like the Slayer from 19th Century Spain had opened a floodgate for them. It was not that every Slayer died this way, but along the last few hundred years, the mysterious deaths were scattered across the globe.
Sam started composing a timeline on a large piece of paper he must have stolen from school, tacked up in the front room. For weeks, nothing was found before the 1620s; Sam added “AZAZEL CREATED?” to that period, and they all pretended that the length of time Azazel had apparently been around wasn’t worrying them. Next to this note was “SLAYER: ASYA IVANOVA?” Her death wasn’t recorded in the notes of the Slayers.
“Does that mean you’re taking notes on me too?” Dean asked Bobby, watching him leaf through one of the old volumes.
Bobby didn’t answer. It made Dean vaguely uncomfortable, but it also amused him to think of future Watchers looking through the books of Winchester. He turned to share his amusement with Sam, but was interrupted by a hand slamming down on a table.
“’The prophets say’,” Sam read, and Dean had to seriously restrain himself from mocking the tremor in his voice, “‘a man of yellow eyes will tear open the gates of Hell.’ Dude.” He looked up at Dean. “I don’t think your friend was lying. There really are prophecies.”
“He’s not my friend!”
Jo finally looked up from the corner. “There are whole volumes of prophecies,” she pointed out. “They used to belong to the Watchers’ Council, before the Reformation.”
“Who has them now?” Sam asked, leaning forward. “Can we get them back?”
Jo looked at Ellen, who shook her head. “They’re being kept safe,” Ellen explained, “but they are irretrievable. And they’re not for our eyes, anyway.” Sam and Dean shared a confused glance, and then turned at the same time to look at Ellen. She sighed. “Not all prophecies come true,” she said. “There’s no point in worrying over what might be. I have it on good authority, trust me.”
Sam was preparing his argument-face, so Dean helpfully kicked him under the table.
It had been nineteen days since the demon in the school. Dean was starting to get sick of the silence, and he was definitely sick of the books.
“He’s not bad.”
Castiel turned around quickly. At times like this, the demon inside Meg looked so peaceful that it could almost have been the year before. She was smiling and leaning against a tree, something tired around her eyes.
“I believe he is less opposed to the job than you—than Meg was,” Castiel replied, turning back to watch Dean Winchester break out of a vampire’s grip. He looked back at Meg’s face again. “You look unwell.”
“I’ve been keeping a low profile,” she admitted. “My Father is far away, so I’m keeping an eye on Sioux Falls.”
“And you don’t want the Slayer to find you,” Castiel finished for her. “I was under the impression that Azazel wanted him scared.”
Meg’s shoulders shrugged. “We have hundreds of days,” she replied. Castiel breathed deeply. It was very rare that they would speak without a physical altercation, but at this point they were well aware that neither could win. It was probably more intelligent to trade whatever information and insults they deemed necessary outside of a fight. “I’m sure you have other things to worry about. Or are you bored without me?”
“I’ve been hearing of an uprising among the vampires,” Castiel said. “Do you know of it?”
“According to my sources, they want the Slayer’s brother.”
Castiel turned to look fully at Meg, who looked less like a demon than she had in months. It was moments like this that convinced him that the real Meg was not entirely gone. “Thank you,” he said firmly, and Meg nodded as if she were preparing to leave. “And starvation will not kill you any more than me. Sparing innocents is kind of you.”
Meg’s expression changed at that; her eyes darkened, and the corners of her lips turned down. “Meg is gone, Castiel,” she said, moving out of the shadows. “Stop trying to redeem me.”
One of these days, Castiel was going to listen to her. For the meantime, he turned back and watched the Slayer slay.
“He was there,” Jo said in a hushed voice. Dean stopped just outside the door, alerted by her tone that this was a private conversation. “Mom, if he was there when Castiel began to Fall, then it might not be Slayers he’s after.”
“Keep it down,” Ellen warned her daughter, and Dean turned and walked back to his bedroom.
When he’d taken the Winchesters in, Bobby’s first rule was that they didn’t keep vital information from each other. It looked like the Harvelles didn’t play by such rules.
“If you’re going to skip your homework, you’ve got to find a better reason than other research,” Dean grumbled, pointing the spanner at his brother. “Jesus, Sam. I can’t deal with your school calling me to complain about you. It’s like they actually expected me not to laugh at them.”
Sam gave him an unhappy look, sinking further into his chair. “It’s distracting,” he admitted, now sitting with homework in his lap instead of an old, dusty book. “And c’mon, Dean, it’s just more interesting.”
Dean laughed and shook his head, turning back to the car. “You’re pathetic,” he said, smiling. “You’re supposed to get distracted by chicks and parties, not other books.”
For once, they weren’t talking about something too suspicious when the shop door opened.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Sam replied. “Chicks and parties, and not books that aren’t homework. You’re a great role-model, Dean. Do us all a favour and don’t have kids.”
“Shut up,” Dean replied eloquently, and then turned to the customer. “Yeah?”
The girl raised her eyebrows, mouth quirking as she tried to suppress a smile. “That’s my car you’re working on,” she explained.
Dean whistled lowly as he looked over the vehicle, and then the girl. “You’ve got good taste,” he said.
“Thank you,” she replied, smiling properly now. “The last man I spoke to said it should be ready by Saturday. I’m just on my lunch break, so I thought I’d make sure there aren’t complications?”
Dean tapped the spanner against his hand a few times, glancing beneath the hood. “I could get it done for Friday if you need it,” he said, and Sam mumbled something under his breath. “Shut up,” he repeated, pointing the spanner at him. Sam held his hands up in defeat.
“Friday sounds good,” the girl replied, and then looked around at the old books littering the edges of the room. “I’m Cassie Robinson, nice to meet you. I thought the older guy was working on it?”
“He’s busy being useless right now,” Dean replied, smiling. “Dean Winchester.”
“At least Bobby doesn’t sleep until lunchtime,” Jo called from where she was seated on the other side of the car. “Unlike some people I know. Some people called Dean Winchester.”
Cassie laughed. “Little sister?” she asked Dean, an understanding note in her voice.
“No, she’s just this annoying chick who lives with us and drinks all my beer,” Dean replied honestly. When Cassie laughed again, Dean smiled and ignored Sam’s disbelieving snort.
“It was nice to meet you,” Cassie said finally, taking a step back toward the door. “All of you, that is.” When she turned to take the handle, Cassie hesitated, and looked back at Dean. “Actually, I still have forty-five minutes left of my lunch break. I mean, if you’d…”
Dean smiled with half his mouth, cheering inside. He’d managed to pull without even trying. “Let me go wash my hands,” he said.
“Dean has to go freshen up his makeup,” Sam corrected for him, and Dean hit him in the head with the spanner on the way past.
He found Bobby in the office room, frowning at down at a page as if it were personally insulting him.
“Think you can handle doing your own damn work for half an hour?”
“Watch it,” Bobby warned. “Some of us actually have things to do during the day.”
“Well, obviously I have to pick up chicks in daylight hours to make sure they’re actually alive,” Dean said, grinning over his shoulder as he scrubbed his hands. “See you later, Bobby.”
Dean had never been one for relationships. Before he’d been Chosen as Slayer, he’d perhaps been on three second dates. Since the day he became Slayer, he’d preferred girls whose names he forgot an hour afterward. It kept everything safer; it wasn’t like he could have a partner. It’s common knowledge that the love interests of superheroes are constantly in danger. It was too complicated for Dean to bother with; he didn’t need a Lois Lane to worry about.
Cassie, however, made everything seem simpler. As long as he kept her in the daylight, he might as well have not even been the Slayer. Vampires barely existed during the day, after all. One coffee date turned into two, which turned into three times a week, and it didn’t feel nearly as weird as Dean had expected it to. He actually felt surprisingly comfortable around her.
The only problem was that Dean was tempted to tell her about his ‘occupation’. It wasn’t that he was determined to make this more serious than it was, but he had seen her almost every other day for the last three weeks, and if she was going to become a real part of his life then surely she needed to know what he was. Surely she at least deserved to know how to protect herself against vampires.
However, it was ultimately not Dean’s choice to bring Cassie and his life as Slayer together.
“Can I help you?” Cassie asked whoever was at the door, as Dean watched from the couch. He leaned backwards, but the angle made it impossible to see who had knocked. However, Dean knew for a fact that vampires could not come in unless invited, and so his initial stab of worry at answering the door after dark subsided quickly.
… Only to be brought back full-force at the answer.
“I am here to speak to Dean Winchester. It’s urgent.”
Dean stood up, eyes wide. He’d know that deep, rough voice anywhere: it was Mysterious Creepy Stalker.
“How did you know where I was?” Dean asked, trying to conceal his anger. When he reminded himself that he’d walked here during daylight hours, the voice in his head sounded suspiciously like Sam.
The man at the door looked worse for wear. His fists were clenched and his eyebrows were drawn together in what looked like worry. “Dean, it is important. You may want to leave.”
“What’s going on?” Cassie asked. Her dark curls were dishevelled from where his hands had been gripping earlier. Dean silently mourned his evening as he grabbed his jacket, patting his stake through his pocket.
“I’m sorry, Cassie, I’ll see you tomorrow,” he promised, pushing past her out the door.
“No, wait,” Cassie ordered. When Dean looked back, her dark eyes were angry. “At least tell me why you’re running off.”
Dean hesitated. It was difficult to explain why he was leaving after a declaration that something was important from a stranger, but Dean was used to “it’s important” meaning “it’s life or death”.
Not that he trusted the creep, but it was better to be safe than sorry or some shit, right?
Seeing Dean freeze up in looking for an answer, the stranger answered for him: “Dean has a job to do. I will return him to you safely.”
“And who exactly are you?” Cassie demanded, stepping out of the house.
“Cassie, stay inside,” Dean said without properly thinking.
Cassie’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t tell me what to do, Dean Winchester,” she replied. “What’s going on?”
“Dean.” The man – and Dean really needed to find out his name sometime soon – looked so deadly serious that Dean unconsciously took another step away from the house. “We cannot wait for this. It is your brother and his friend. They have been cornered by vampires.”
Dean was moving in an instant. “D’you know where they are?” he asked the man, who nodded once, and then they were running.
“Wait!” Cassie shouted, catching up with them. Dean registered the fact that she was barefoot and unarmed, but it was the stranger who threw her a stake.
This was not how he had planned to tell his sort-of-girlfriend that he was actually a Slayer of vampires, Dean thought, but at least this way she wouldn’t think he was kidding.
They had barely turned two corners when both Dean and the other man flew into action, grabbing people from the crowd and fighting their way through them.
Adrenaline pumped through Dean’s veins in a way that had never happened before he was Chosen. It was like every sense was heightened; everything slowed down and sped up all at once. Every thrust of wood into a chest, every kick and every bruise, were all teetering toward the edge of something dark, some sort of violent climax that never quite came.
Had Sam been listening to his thoughts, he probably would have called Dean a pervert.
But… it was primal.
Dean had the good sense to glance back at Cassie every few moments, but the other man was standing in front of her protectively, fighting with such strength that he was definitely not human. (Or perhaps he was another Slayer. He was something.)
He saw the punch to his jaw coming before he had time to fully register it, and pain blossomed heavily across his face. In seconds, another burst of dust was settling at his feet.
“Sam!” Dean shouted, finally spotting him.
Distracted by the sight of his brother hemmed in by the wall with Jess unconscious at his feet, Dean didn’t detect the vampire behind him until it was almost too late. He turned a spinning-kick into her chest, forcing her backwards, and she fell to dust before he’d even lifted his stake.
Dean breathed deeply, coming down from the rush, and nodded at the other man. “Nice one,” he said steadily, and then cleared his throat.
They both knelt by Sam and Jess, glancing around to ascertain that there were no more vampires waiting. Jessica was still.
“Jess,” Sam whispered, his voice uneven.
“How long has she been unconscious?” the other man asked, laying her out on the concrete. Dean looked up and met Cassie’s eyes briefly, and then turned away.
Sam felt for her pulse, his hands shaking. “She hit her head when we were attacked,” he explained.
“What the fuck, Sam?” Dean finally snapped. “You know not to go out after dark without me! What the fuck were you thinking taking her out here?”
“She was already out!” Sam insisted, glaring at his brother. “She called me and asked if I wanted to come meet her. I thought I was doing her a favour by being with her.”
“Damn lot of good that did,” Dean snarled.
The other man looked back up at them. In the blue light of the sign across the street, his eyes looked eerily bright. “Her name is Jess?” he asked, and Dean really wanted to snap at him to get his priorities straight, but Sam was nodding before he could articulate anything. “Jess is going to be fine. Would you like me to wake her?”
When the Winchester brothers proceeded to just look at him blankly, the man rested a hand on Jess’s forehead.
She woke with a gasp.
“Sam?” she asked, eyes focusing.
“Hey,” Sam replied in a quiet voice, moving into her line of sight. “We were attacked. It’s okay now. Are you okay? Do you remember anything?”
When Sam was busy talking to Jess, Dean finally looked properly at Cassie. Her chest was still heaving with heavy breaths, and there was a guarded look in her eyes. Dean nodded to the side, and they moved away from the others.
“Are you going to explain this to me?” Cassie asked, crossing her arms.
Dean rubbed the back on his neck. “I was thinking of telling you,” he admitted. “There are vampires,” he said, looking her in the eyes. “And there’s always someone appointed to kill them. That’s, uh, me right now.”
Cassie looked away, her mouth pulled into a tight line. “Vampires,” she repeated. “And you’re…”
“The Vampire Slayer,” Dean finished for her.
Cassie covered her mouth for a moment, and then crossed her arms again. After a few long moments, she shook her head. “This is ridiculous,” she eventually said, looking back at the other three. “So who is he?”
“I don’t know,” Dean confessed. “He’s just this creepy guy that turns up to tell me that the end of the world is coming, or something. I think he’s stalking me.” Cassie covered her mouth, her eyes narrowed, and Dean sighed. “C’mon. Let’s get everyone home. I’ll explain properly tomorrow.”
By the time they turned back to Sam and Jess, the man in the trench-coat had disappeared.
“I can’t do this,” Cassie admitted, standing by her window and drenched in the sunlight. “Dean, I like you, but I can’t do this. This isn’t right.”
“This is my life,” Dean replied, beginning to feel angry. “It’s the world, Cassie. There’s evil everywhere. Someone has to keep tabs on it.”
Cassie’s expression didn’t change. “And that someone is you? So you’re what, mechanic by day, superhero by night?”
“I’m not a—” Dean started, and then blinked. “Uh, yeah, that’s about right.”
“I like you, Dean,” she said quietly. “But this isn’t going to happen. I can’t…” She shrugged, and Dean didn’t understand (she knew about vampires now, it wasn’t like wishing them away was going to do anything), but he nodded as if he did.
“I should leave, then,” he stated, trying to restrain his anger. Cassie turned to look at him properly; her expression was regretful, but she didn’t stop him.
Dean slammed her front door behind him, and walked far enough from the house that she wouldn’t see him before he punched a tree. “Damn it,” he swore, hitting the tree again, and then leaned against it. Dean had never been interested in relationships, but it was so fucking unfair that he’d finally find something that might work, except oops, he had to be the Slayer first and a person second.
“The trees are not the source of your anger,” a voice sounded from behind him. Dean jumped, and turned to see his new stalker standing in the shade. Well, if one good thing came from this, at least he knew that the stranger wasn’t a vampire. That was definitely a plus. “Has Jess recovered?”
“She’s fine,” Dean replied. “Why are you following me?”
The man tilted his head to one side, which irritated Dean – or maybe it was being dumped that irritated him, who knew. “You are the Slayer that can save the world from the apocalypse,” he pointed out, and Dean noticed that he said ‘can’ and not ‘will’. So much for the vote of confidence. “Keeping you safe is imperative.”
“Yeah, well I’m safe now,” Dean pointed out. “I’m just pissed off, and it’s daytime so there’s nothing to kill.”
The man nodded as if this were a perfectly normal statement. “Perhaps you should restrict dating to people who are aware of your job,” he advised. How he knew Dean had been dumped, he didn’t care to guess – but hey, this was his stalker.
“Because there are so many options there,” Dean scoffed, crossing his arms. “What, are you going to ask me out?”
The other man’s expression did not shift at all when he answered: “No.”
Dean blinked. “Dude,” he said, laughter bubbling in his chest, “that was a joke. I’m not asking you out.”
“Oh,” he replied, still staring at Dean. “Humour is not one of my strengths,” he admitted.
“No shit,” Dean replied, tilting his head up to face the sun. The heat spread across his face pleasantly. “You still haven’t told me your name, you know,” he pointed out. “I can’t call you Creepy Stalker Guy forever.”
The man paused. “You are not wearing the crucifix,” he pointed out. “It may be an essential weapon.”
“You’re ignoring my question,” Dean replied. When he looked back down from the sky, the man was gone.