Okay, so here's the chapter I said I'd come up with. I think the last half sucks, but at least it's posted. Thank god it's not a formal book deal of I'd be screwed all sorts of directions.
Dean groaned and turned over onto his stomach, burying his face into his thin pillow. Faith answered him with her own groan and he heard the distinct thump of an alarm clock hitting a wall. Buffy and Sam woke way, way too early. And they always came back with breakfast, cheerily expecting the more normal members of the group to crawl their asses out of bed and join them.
A light, good natured laugh filtered through the pathetic pillow to reach Dean’s sensitive ears. Sam didn’t mind getting an alarm clock chucked at him every morning; he’d learned how to dodge them pretty well by now. Buffy set the doughnuts on the rickety plywood table and crawled into bed, hovering over Dean. That’s it. It’s what she did every morning until he couldn’t stand feeling her eyes on his back anymore and sat up.
This morning it didn’t take long. He sat, leaned back against the rough headboard, and glared at her cheery smile. A Starbucks was offered as a truce. He sniffed it experimentally and chuckled at her click and sigh of disgust. “It’s just black, I promise, Mr. Macho.”
He lifted it to his lips and sipped while Sam forcibly rolled Faith out of the bed and let her crash to the floor. And he said Dean and Buffy were violent.
Usually they all had their own rooms-one for each couple. But last night they’d had one room available to them. For once they’d stopped in a fairly busy little town, and the motel was booked solid but for one room. With very tiny beds. Sam and Faith had claimed one and Buffy had taken the other. Sadly, Buffy’s bed had a horrid lacking in support on one side and any time pressure was placed on it the mattress fell through to the floor. Dean had flatly refused to curl up at the foot of the safer side like a fucking poodle. What good would that do anyway? He was the same size in either form. They were all just… assholes. He was the one hustling poker and pool to pay for the room, he deserved to stretch out-or at least attempt to-on a working bed. So at seven when Buffy and Sam had left he’d uncurled from the floor, slipped into some boxers, and climbed into the dinky bed for some slightly more comfortable rest.
It was eight in the morning and he felt like killing someone.
“Back already?” His voice sounded hoarse-he wasn’t sure whether it was from sleep, of from the rapid shifting he’d done yesterday. Oh yeah, he had the freak healing just like Buffy did. But with two silver flints still buried deep in his shoulder-and thanks to his shift back into normal Dean form now buried under muscle-things were moving at a slower rate.
Something he hadn’t bothered sharing. Once they’d reached the overstuffed motel and battled out sleeping arrangements (he had obviously drawn a very, very short straw) he’d simply shifted, crashed, and ignored the sting. This morning, though, he was gulping down coffee and staring at his knife like it was going to bite him.
Because it was. Once he was done he was digging those fuckers out so the burning muscles would heal and his nerves would smooth out. While magical and wondrous, altering your cellular structure took a lot of work. The nervous system had to shut off to keep your mind shielded from the sheer agony that altering your basic physical structure normally causes. That safety was still working, but Dean felt now like he’d been run over by a Mack truck.
Sam smacked Faith’s hand away from his face and stepped away while she tried to untangle her legs from the blanket and climb back onto their bed to eat. “Well, we can’t stick around here forever.” The darker brother shrugged and took a bite of doughnut before passing it on to Faith, who sat staring blearily at the far wall. “Nothing to hunt, and we can’t be here when the cops find human bodies littering the woods.”
“We’re leaving as soon as we’re all actually awake.” Buffy grabbed a doughnut for herself and waved the box at Dean. He shook his head and slowly swung his feet over the bed, standing and advancing on his knife. Why it was on the dresser, he had no clue. Buffy must have objected to its placement under her pillow. He grabbed it and continued on to the bathroom, shutting himself in and locking the door. Slayer and brother exchanged concerned looks.
“He’s gotta get the silver out.” Faith yawned and stretched before snatching a second doughnut out of Sam’s hand. “He got hit last night and had to change before we could dig it out.”
Buffy frowned and glanced back at the bathroom. “Ouch.”
Ouch was right. This time, ouch was on a slightly larger scale. Sam, always playing the damsel. And always when Dean wanted most to be the one in pain. That’s how it had always been, though; they both went into a fight and came out beaten and bloody. And it was his own pigheadedness that kept him from accepting help. Maybe there was something to the Carebear attitude Sam carried around, because some coddling sounded damned good right now.
Instead, thanks to his own new freak factor, he got to play the white knight.
It didn’t take long for Willow to drop her other errands and rush straight to the shop once Dean had managed to crawl far enough to locate his phone-still in his jacket pocket-and steady his full-body shake long enough to push speed dial five. The witch was currently hovering over Sam, examining his wounds and muttering to herself, no doubt making a mental list of ingredients or spell work that she’d need. If at all possible, they were going to keep Sam out of the hospital. Paperwork always raised too many questions.
But if she didn’t hurry, they’d need an ambulance. The younger hunter had passed out five minutes ago, body going into a comatose state to conserve energy. Dean had pulled on one of the spare changes of clothes that were stowed in the office-his clothes were everywhere now a-days for such occasions-and stumbled unsteadily back out to the pair. Keen hearing picked up the purr of an engine, not a classic roar but a sputtering hunk of metal. Giles was here, no doubt with the girls in tow.
That man never did appreciate cars.
Dean shook his head and leaned both hands against the counter, hissing as his sensitive nerves protested the pressure. The little bell over the shop jingled as the half-unhinged door swung open, admitting the new arrivals. To Giles’ credit, the man spared not one look for his precious new shop or his one of a kind volumes spread over the wooden floorboards, heading instead for the private shelf behind the counter. The good books were locked away with the store’s cash-black magic, powerful magic, everything not for public viewing. He and Willow had been slowly working their way through them, training her focus.
She was pretty damned good by now, too. And right now they were all relying on her skill to seal up Sammy’s wounds and pump up his healing.
Dean kept one hand on the counter and straightened, game face back in place. No one had noticed his pain, all instead hovering over Sam. Or, as close to him as Willow would allow. And he didn’t plan of sucking their attention away from his brother.
A firm hand on his shoulder made him jump. Giles passed him, herbs in hand, and knelt next to Willow. She took the leaves and pressed them against Sam’s chest. Where they immediately caught fire and melded with his skin, leaving nothing but a black trace. Inevitably, Sam woke, gasp of pain accompanied by an attempt to sit bolt-upright. Giles showed more strength than Dean would’ve credited him with by shoving the younger hunter back down.
The ash from the leaves was brushed away, revealing neat, tight pink scars where huge bloody gashes used to be. Dean let out a relieved breath and let himself slide back to the steady floor. Buffy spares him a glance before stepping to the side to let Faith attack Sam with searching hands. Finding no other injuries, she threw relieved arms around his neck and squeezed.
“He’s going to need a lot of rest,” Willow cautioned. Faith pulled back, face straight, and nodded. Her eyes never left Sam’s, no doubt a silent bitch-out for him getting into such a huge mess. Dean grinned a little at the thought of him getting cussed out by the brunette later. He would definitely be listening outside the door for that one.
Giles helped Faith get Sam to his feet and moving in the direction of the back training room, where Giles kept a cot for such emergencies. Dean began to push himself off the floor to follow, and instead found himself leaning against the counter with Buffy holding him pinned to the wood. “You look like shit.”
He grinned cockily at her remark and sidled away from her, heading now for the door. Hell, Sam would be fine with his girl and the witchy duo looking out for him. If anything happened Faith would kick some ass and call him. It wouldn’t be the first time. Now all he wanted to do was get back to their house and collapse onto the down comforter that Buffy had no doubt straightened over the memory foam mattress. Their bed was the best thing he’d ever produced with his fake cards.
He knew Buffy was following and didn’t even protest when she reached into his jacket pocket to snatch his keys. He felt like shit, a full-body burn working its way through his system in waves of hot and cold. He managed to collapse into the passenger seat and lean back, and didn’t even bother swatting Buffy away when she put a hand to his forehead.
Well. Maybe just this once he’d play up the damage. Who knew how much Slayer comfort he could squeeze out of the bruises?