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Sam is making his slow way through a hunter's journal from the late nineteenth century (the ink is fading, the handwriting cramped and baroque) when he hears a car pull up into Bobby's yard. It's not the Impala, so he gets up and peers out the window, hand on the gun in his waistband, just in case.

A man and two young women get out--there's enough of a family resemblance between the girls that Sam figures them for sisters--and Bobby greets the man with a wry grin and a handshake, though he looks taken aback when the man introduces the girls. It's kind of funny--and unexpected--to see Bobby flustered by pretty girls, and Sam makes a note to tell Dean about it, and also possibly find a way to needle Bobby with it if the opportunity arises.

He loses sight of them when they enter the house, so he goes back to reading. He can hear muffled voices--Bobby's easy drawl, the crisper accent of the older guy, words too low to make out, and an excited female voice asking about Akkadian protection rituals--but he ignores them in favor of Prudence Thackeray's modification of the standard purification ritual used to rid houses of poltergeists.

Not even ten minutes later, he's interrupted by the smaller of the two women, who pulls up short when she sees him sitting at the desk in Bobby's office. She's about as tall standing up as he is sitting down, and sometimes, when he hasn't seen anyone but Dean for long stretches of time, he forgets how weird that is.

"Hi." She holds out a tiny hand, and he takes it, careful not to squeeze too hard, but she's got a firm grip. "I'm Buffy."


"Nice to meet you." She nods at the book in his hand. "So you're doing the research thing, too, huh?"

He offers an apologetic half-smile. "Yeah. You?"

"Nah. Dawn and Giles are hitting the books on this one," she says, grinning. "I'm the muscle." His disbelief must show on his face because she laughs. "You don't believe me." He shakes his head, not sure what to say without being rude (he can imagine what Dean would say, and has to bite back a laugh, knowing he could never pull it off), and she nods. "It's okay. I get that a lot." She tilts her head and leans a hip against the desk, her shirt riding up to show a strip of smooth, tanned skin. "We could do a little sparring, if you like."

"I, uh, I'm not sure that's a good idea." It's not that he doesn't think girls can kick ass, but if the way she holds herself is any indication, Buffy probably has barely half his training. And she's half his size.

"Come on," she says, teasing. "I'll go easy on you."

He snorts embarrassingly at that, and decides to end the conversation by unfolding himself from the chair.

She cranes her neck to look up at him and grins. "Oh, this is gonna be fun."

He blushes, realizing that maybe this is just some weird flirtation technique, but it's been a while, and he's not really going to say no if a cute girl wants to feel him up. He can even teach her some good holds in return. He's pretty sure Dean would be laughing at him in encouragement if he were here. Of course, if Dean were here, he'd probably be the one offering to spar. Dean seems to like girls who can beat him up.

"There are some mats in the basement," he says, remembering hours of training as a kid, learning to take falls with Dad or Bobby or Dean standing over him, barking instructions. He surreptitiously eases his gun into the desk drawer before leading her down into the cellar.

"So you do the monster slaying thing?" Buffy asks as they drag one of the big blue mats out onto the grass.

He guesses he shouldn't be taken aback by the directness, given that she and her friends came to see Bobby for advice on a hunt, but he's still not really used to other people talking about hunting like it's normal. "Yeah. Me and my brother. It's kind of the family business."

She nods, looks sad and faraway for a second. "Yeah. I keep trying to get Dawn to give it up, but she," she shakes her head, "she's stubborn. And she's probably safer with me, anyway." She shakes her head again, blinks away the sadness, and kicks her sandals off onto the grass.

He unties his boots and slips them off, and takes up a defensive stance on the mat. "Dawn's your sister?"

"Yeah." She rolls her shoulders and bounces on the balls of her feet for a couple of seconds, then grins again, cocky and blinding. "Come on, Sam. Show me what you've got."

He shakes his head, uncomfortable with throwing the first punch against a girl who isn't trying to kill him. "Ladies first."

She shrugs and laughs. "And they say chivalry is dead." And then she comes at him in a flurry of punches and kicks that are unexpectedly fast and hard. He blocks a few of them, gets in a hit or two of his own, and then they separate. He's not breathing hard, but neither is she. "Not bad," she says, grinning and brushing her hair out of her face. "Ready for round two?"

He grins back, feeling less awkward now that he knows she can handle herself, and his voice is low and unexpectedly flirtatious when he says, "Always."

She licks her lips, and the look in her eyes is predatory when she says, "Bring it on."

They close again, trading kicks and punches, and he's having a good time until she sneaks one in past his guard, sends his head snapping back, and he responds instinctively, punching without holding back. She stumbles a little, works her jaw tentatively, checking for damage.

It's like a splash of cold water and Sam's enjoyment dissolves into guilt. "Oh God, I'm so sorry."

"You've been holding back," she says, shaking her head, more amused than upset, which makes him feel a little better. "That's okay, though. So've I."

"Maybe we should take a break," he starts, and before he can finish, she sweeps his legs out from under him and pins him, knees wedged snugly into his armpits and small hands holding his shoulders down. He could probably buck her off, but it'd take a lot more work than he'd expected.

"Maybe we should," she says, smiling down at him. Her jaw is barely bruised from where he hit her, faint red marks where there should be ugly purple rising under her skin, and she isn't winded at all.

He thinks about how fast she moves, how strong she is, and can't believe he let his guard down so easily. Can't believe Bobby, of all people, has been taken in so easily.


She sits back and laughs. "I'm not a demon. I'm a Slayer."

Sam blinks. "The Slayer is just a myth."

"Like vampires and werewolves and zombies?" She looks way too smug, scoots back a little and leans forward again, pressing soft, warm curves against him. She smells like sweat and baby powder and girl.

Sam swallows hard. "Okay, point." His voice is rough, a little breathless. He thinks maybe he should have some kind of witty comment, but he doesn't. He brings his hands up off the mat, curling one around her hip while the other strokes up her spine. She looks like she'll break in half if he squeezes, but he can feel the strength in her thighs and arms even as she loosens her hold enough to let him know he can get up without a fight if he wants to.

He doesn't want to.

She closes the distance between them again, this time pressing her mouth to his. He tastes cherry lip balm on her lips, stale coffee and heat on her tongue. He slides his hand up into her hair to cup the back of her head, hold her in place while they kiss. He forgets that they're lying out in the open in Bobby's yard, loses himself in the sweet hot rush of her mouth. There's a slow intensity to the way Buffy kisses, in sharp contrast to the quick, bubbly way she talks and fights, and he lets her set the rhythm, rocking his hips up as she rocks down against him.

"You'll never believe what I found--Oh my God." Buffy jumps at the sound of her sister's voice, and rolls off of Sam and onto her back. Sam glances up to see a startlingly familiar look of amused exasperation mingled with surprise on Dawn's face. "We're in the middle of bumfuck South Dakota, and you find a hot guy to make out with. How do you even do that?" Buffy scrambles to her feet and Sam follows. "He's really cute. And, like, fifteen feet tall."

"Sam, this is Dawn. Despite all appearances, she wasn't actually raised by wolves." Buffy's voice is wry and affectionate.


"Hi, Dawn." The tips of Sam's ears are burning, and Dawn's frank-eyed appraisal isn't helping, but he forces himself not to fidget.

"Hi, Sam." She grins at him before turning to her sister, gesturing with the book in her hand. "Bobby has a complete copy of the Rostov codex."

Buffy eyes the book skeptically. "Does that tell us how to kill the thing?"

"What? No."

"Then you came out here to tell me about it why, exactly?"

"The only other complete copy is in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. This is huge." Dawn's excitement is contagious, and Sam looks a little more closely at the book. He'll have to skim through it later. He knows better than to say anything, though.

"Focus, Dawnie. We still don't know how to kill this thing?"

Dawn waves a hand. "Giles and Bobby are working on that. I think you just have to cut off its head."

"Why didn't you say that in the first place?"

"You're just upset because I interrupted sexy fun time. Which, hi, not the reason we're here." She glances over at Sam again. "Though I can totally see why you were distracted."

Sam, feeling awkward and a little annoyed himself at the interruption, doesn't know how to respond to that, and turns to head back into the house when Bobby and Giles come out.

"Giles, this is Sam Winchester," Bobby says, and Sam offers the man his hand.

"Your father was a good hunter," Giles says, shaking Sam's hand. "My condolences on his passing."

"Thanks." Dad's death still carries a sting, though not as sharp as it used to be, and Sam doesn't think he'll ever stop being surprised at meeting people who knew him.

"So?" Buffy asks.

"We cut off its head," Giles answers.

"Always with the decapitations," Dawn mutters, shaking her head.

"Hey, whatever works," Buffy says. "And this way I know what to wear." She glances up at Sam, and the tentative look on her face is so different from her earlier confidence, like she's worried about what he thinks. "Slaying is hard on the wardrobe."

"Yeah," he says, giving her a rueful smile. "I always make Dean do the laundry."

Buffy nods. "Natural fibers and Oxy Clean are the way to go. Can't get monster guts out of synthetics."

Sam laughs and the tension melts out of Buffy's stance. He wants to touch her again, puts a hand on her shoulder, her skin supple and soft under his fingers. There's a light flush on her cheeks and a small smile on her lips that makes him want to kiss her again--he can still taste cherry lip balm on his lips--but he won't in front of the others.

Giles says, "Dawn, give Bobby back his book," and Dawn sighs, reluctantly handing the book over. "Thanks for your help, Bobby. If there's ever anything you need our help with, you know where to find us."

Bobby might, but Sam doesn't, and he's trying to come up with a way to ask that doesn't sound cheesy when Buffy hands him a business card with her name and number on it.

"You should definitely give me a call," she says, smiling up at him.

He tucks the card away, and thinks that maybe he will.