stock: typewriter

fic:deeper than skin/btvs, spn/gen

Title: deeper than skin
Word Count: 1300
Prompt: #457 fugacious @ tamingthemuse
Rating: FR13
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all related characters are copyright of Joss Whedon and ME. Supernatural and all related characters are copyright Eric Kripke, Kripke Enterprises & The CW Network. No infringement intended.
Note: Sequel to ‘home’.

Series Synopsis: She was discourteous, inconsiderate and utterly without hope. If Dean Winchester was Castiel’s most difficult charge than Buffy Summers was a close second.

The not so subtle sound of her spoon scraping the bottom of bowl had Buffy Summers flinching. She resisted the urge to look at the others occupying Bobby’s kitchen table as she finished her last bite of stew. The simple goodness of something homemade was a balm on the soul as far as she was concerned. Buffy lowered the bowl back to the table top, having tipped it to get the last drop of gravy-yum, with a content sigh. She offered Ellen a timid smile—still not entirely used to someone that was equal parts demanding and mothering.

It was returned, but twice as wide, and Ellen rose from her place beside a drowsy Jo to snag that empty bowl. “There’s plenty more,” the gruff explanation accompanied her quick departure from the table.

“Thanks,” Buffy called after her retreating back and placed her hands, palms down and fingers spread out, on the warm spot left by the bowl.

She glanced around the table to see three of the five other occupants watching her with a mixture of mistrust and curiosity. She offered the Winchesters a quirking of her mouth and watched Sam’s eyes narrow—Mr. Mistrustful that guy—and Dean shrugged before returning to his own meal. That man ate more than a basset hound. A frown tugged at her brow as she found herself pondering exactly how much a basset hound could eat as she ignored Sam’s watchful stare.

Bobby made an odd sound that was more harrumph than anything else from his place at the head of the table. Wheelchair accessible or not, she was pretty certain he’d be sitting there regardless. She cast a glance his way, but found him eating rather than watching her and found herself thankful for small favors.

Castiel sat beside her in stoic silence—par for the course where the angel was concerned—and Jo was half-asleep in her stew. The spoon only lifted from bowl to mouth every few minutes and the younger woman had been silent for the most part. The painkillers Ellen had fed her appeared to be working nicely as far as Buffy could tell.

She turned her gaze back to Sam, found him still staring, and met his narrowed look with one of her own. His brows dipped, mouth following suit and she lost her patience with the impromptu staring contest as her temper slipped and she snapped, “Did ya need something?”

The angel at her shoulder stiffened and the spoon stopped halfway to Dean’s mouth, but Buffy kept her focus solely on Sam and his tendencies to study her was chafing more than Ellen’s urges to mother. “What are you?”

“Samuel Winchester,” Ellen’s snap of his name drew him up straight as she returned to the table and placed another full bowl in front of Buffy. A hand settled on her shoulder, gave a gentle squeeze, before she turned a mutinous look on the young man across from them. “I’ll not have you harassing her while she eats.”

“She is human.” There was no inflection to Castiel’s simple statement of fact.

Buffy retrieved her spoon and spared the angel a grateful look before scowling at Sam. “What he said.”

“More than human, you mean,” was Bobby’s gruff assessment. Buffy chose to eat another spoonful of stew rather than look to the aging hunter as he continued, “I don’t mind you, Buffy. The way Ellen tells it you damn near saved their collective asses in Carthage and they ain’t new to the job—”

“It’s not a job,” Buffy interrupted and swallowed her mouthful of stew before looking to Bobby. “It’s a way of life.”

Ellen moved around the table to reclaim her seat beside a now fully asleep Jo. “I’ll drink to that,” was stated casually as she snagged her beer and tilted it towards the rest of the table’s occupants.

Dean stopped filling his face a moment to join in the toast, that wasn’t much of a toast, but when his beer was settled he stated, voice certain, “Secrets have a way of biting you in the ass.”

Buffy coughed, choking on her beer and staring at him wide-eyed. “Excuse me?” A line appeared between Castiel’s brows and he shifted beside her, drawing Buffy’s focus back to him. “What’s the what?”

The angel cleared his throat and rolled his shoulders back, a sure sign he was suddenly uncomfortable with the current topic of conversation, but Buffy simply raised her brow at him. “There was a moment earlier while you slept.”

He paused and Buffy waited a beat, two, before prompting, “And something happened in this moment?”

“Perhaps,” Castiel glanced around the table before settling his gaze on Buffy, “I should start at the beginning.”

Her eyes widened with his meaning, but it was Dean’s waspish, “Ya think?” that settled the angel’s mind.

“There are souls we guard in heaven.” Castiel’s head inclined, “Those deemed worthy of such reverence are protected at all times.”

Dean seemed to understand that Buffy had been one of these souls and asked better question than most, “So how’s she here?”

“Osiris,” Buffy filled in for Castiel with a shrug before adding, “And an incredibly powerful witch.”

“Buffy was resurrected, but one of us attempted to stop it.” Her shoulders hunched and her arms wrapped around her middle, her scars as Castiel continued, “The one guarding her thought himself strong enough to withstand one stubborn human and a minor deity.” Castiel sighed, “He was not.”

“He gripped me a bit too tight,” Buffy confessed, attempting for flippant. She saw the confused looks surrounding her and the understanding in Dean’s gaze. She frowned—she’d assumed he’d have already told the others about her scars—and sighed before rising from the table to lift her shirt. Ellen’s muttered curse was ignored, but she’d admit to a petty superiority with the paling of Sam’s features.

“While attempting to protect her, the angel did just the opposite.” Castiel continued as if she hadn’t just done something incredibly personal and intimate. It made her smile as she lowered her shirt and retook her seat. His next words however did little to alleviate her discomfort. “Her soul was torn asunder.”

Buffy ran a hand down her center and attempted flippant, “My soul is Humpty Dumpty and Castiel just keeps trying to put me all back together.”

“The scars,” Bobby frowned, all gruff and rumbles, “They look like wings to me.”

A shrug lifted Buffy’s shoulder, “The strongest part of an angel.”

“He should’ve allowed you to fall.” Castiel nodded and Buffy flinched, “Fighting the process left pieces of your soul behind.”

“In heaven?” Doubtful Sam reared his Vidal Sassoon inspired head—seriously Buffy needed the name of his conditioner. Stat.

“The pieces wish to reconnect. It draws her towards heaven.”

“In other words it gives me the death wish to end all death wishes.” Buffy confided before noticing Ellen’s horrified look. She chose to ignore it and quirked a brow at the others. “I don’t intend to kill myself.”

“Not intentionally,” Castiel countered and then smiled, “She has work to do.”

“Mission-girl,” Buffy agreed and shoved a spoonful of stew into her mouth.

Dean watched her a moment before snagging his beer. He tipped it towards before downing the rest of its contents in one long gulp. His reaction settled the rest of the crew with Bobby returning to his own bowl and Sam’s stare became less hostile and more considering while Jo continued to snore quietly into her chest.

Ellen reclaimed her seat and her beer. She followed Dean’s example and finished it, but she was watching Buffy with a look that was of the familiar sort. A look that meant Buffy had just become one of this lioness’ cubs—and for once it didn’t chafe.

The end.