The car was a piece of crap. It was a cherry red Ford Mustang with perfect body work, but a hole in the engine the size of Blaise’s fist and an exhaust that looked like it had originally belonged on a car half the size. It was okay to look at as far as cars went, but it would never run without anything short of a miracle.
Blaise didn’t do miracles. Nor did he know anything about cars. What he did have was a vast knowledge of magic, and a hell of a lot of determination. He also paid enough attention to detail to remember to get the car to make noises as it moved.
If his mother had been able to see him driving down an interstate somewhere in America, heading to somewhere else in America (he’d not bothered with a map – though apparently the international Portkey had dropped him off in Oklahoma), in a Muggle car, chewing on a cheeseburger and occasionally drinking some kind of fizzy thing that Muggles apparently liked, but that tasted of chemicals, sugar and plastic, she would have had a fit. Possibly. If she wasn’t too preoccupied with her impending wedding to Stepfather 15 (he’d stopped learning the names after 6 had died). Malfoy would have a fit, certainly, but Blaise didn’t care that much.
He spent his first night sleeping on the backseat of his car, pulled over at the side of the road. He spent the second night in a cheap motel room, face down on a bed that smelled of cigarettes, sex and bleach. He’d investigated the Muggle technology for a bit, but after discovering that they wanted him to pay to watch lack-lustre porn from the seventies and that the water he boiled in the kettle tasted of chlorine, he’d decided that sleep was a better idea.
When he woke up, his mouth tasted of cigarette ash and that Muggle drink and his stomach was begging him for real food. He took a shower in the tiny bathroom first and changed his clothes into something less rumpled and itchy before stuffing the dirty ones into the rucksack he was using as an overnight bag. He was still pulling his hair back into a ponytail at the base of his neck when he stepped outside his room in search of something to eat that wasn’t processed to within an inch of its existence.
There was a man walking around his car. He was short, but taller and older than Blaise, with dark blond hair and a leather jacket that spoke of better days. He was handsome in a way that made Blaise curse his mother for making him paranoid, and he was entirely too interested in Blaise’s car.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
The man looked up, and his eyes were green. They weren’t green in a this-colour-is-only-seen-on-cats-and-Potter kind of way; they were a normal human green that looked almost like hazel. The man was staring at him.
“She’s yours?” the man asked, and it took a while for Blaise to realise what he was talking about. There wasn’t anyone female around, so…
“The car? Yes,” he said.
The man rattled off some numbers and letters things that may have been words, making Blaise stare at him blankly.
“Er?” he said.
He hadn’t felt so off-centre since he’d first sat in a classroom with Hermione Granger and realised that while he may be the most intelligent person in the room, his memory had limits to how much textbook it could absorb at a time.
“The car,” the man clarified, as if what he’d just said was supposed to have meant something. “She’s a classic, man.”
“Ah, really? I just thought it was pretty,” Blaise said.
The man looked faintly horrified. “Is that one yours?” Blaise asked, before the conversation to go in the direction of just how little he knew about the vehicle he was still trying to learn how to drive – he’d been doing alright so far, but that was admittedly because he had come across very few other people and even less corners. (The fact that he was relying on magic to do pretty much everything helped as well.) He waved a hand in the direction of a big and shiny black car that looked in far better condition than the man he was speaking to.
“Yeah, she’s mine,” the man said, revealing that cars were apparently all female. “She’s a 67 Chevy Impala. Another classic. You’ve got a pretty good eye.”
That was news to Blaise. “Thanks,” he said. The man smiled at him, and Blaise looked away. Apparently he needed another dose of his sex-drive suppressant. Malfoy may have described his escape as “fucking his way around the colonies”, but Blaise had been put off physical relationships by his mother. No matter how casual, there was always something he found creepy and paranoia-inducing about having other people that close to him. It was a side effect of seeing Stepfather 3 – the first he could remember clearly – keel over during dinner one night while his mother sipped her soup and smiled. Things like that could traumatise a child.
Besides, the man was a Muggle with an unhealthy appreciation for things on wheels, and Blaise was pretty sure that even if the man wasn’t a homicidal maniac, that he would be second place to the – admittedly, very nice – car.
“So, you’re road trippin’?” the guy asked. “By yourself?”
Blaise shrugged. “Had to get away from home for a while,” he said. “Family problems.”
He had actually come to the decision to leave after a harmless night in the Leaky Cauldron with Theo and Daphne – who were being all snugly and cute with each other in as Slytherin a manner as they could – had resulted in them being given the evil eye by a group of Aurors at the other end of the bar. He was tired of it. Voldemort was dead, hooray, but the world hadn’t changed. Blaise was a Slytherin, he was the son of a woman whose husbands had all met tragic-and-horrific-fatal-accidents-at-such-fiscally-convenient-times, and not even his perfect NEWT scores and dashing good looks could make people look past the fact that he’d worn a green and silver tie at school.
The impending wedding to Stepfather “you don’t have to call me Dad, generic-male-name-he’d-forgotten will do instead” 15 had been the final straw. He’d told the woman at the Ministry who’d dispensed his Portkey after barraging him with increasingly insulting questions about his intentions that he wanted to lose himself and find out how real people lived. That was probably why she’d sent him to Oklahoma.
He’d said the same thing to Daphne, and she’d called him crazy. To be fair, he probably was. That was another explanation for Oklahoma.
“I know the feeling,” the man said, and from the sudden softness in his voice, Blaise knew that he did. “Family.” He said it like it explained everything, and it probably did. “So where are you headed?”
Blaise shrugged again. “I don’t know. Anywhere. Nowhere. Somewhere with decent breakfast food, with any luck.”
The man snorted with laughter. “There’s a diner down the road,” he said, pointing. “They do pretty good pie.”
“Pie is breakfast food?” Blaise asked.
“Pie is universal, man. It makes every meal awesome.”
Blaise decided that the man was either an idiot or just very easily pleased. “Thanks for the recommendation,” he said. “Are you from around here?”
“Nah, I’m from Kansas,” the man said. “But I’ve passed through here before – stopped at that diner. Seriously, the cherry is amazing.”
Blaise smiled. “Thanks,” he said again.
He started to walk closer to his car, and the man backed off in the direction of the reception. With a sly tap of his wand when the guy wasn’t looking, Blaise opened the door. He wriggled out of his backpack, tossed it into the front seat and was about to climb in after it when –
“Hey, what’s your name?” it was the guy again. He’d turned back, halfway to the reception and was standing there looking pretty and dusty and adorable, with one hand raised to shield his eyes from the sun’s glare.
“Blaise,” Blaise called back. “You?”
“Dean,” was the reply. A weird name – as far as Blaise’s wizarding sensibilities were concerned – but it suited him. And once he’d delivered it, he turned around and sauntered off in the direction of the reception showing off exactly how tight his jeans were. Blaise closed his eyes. He needed that potion.
He did stop in that diner though, and the cherry pie was as good as promised.
It was around a year later, and he’d found his way up to New York. Sort of vaguely in that area, anyway. He’d avoided buying a map and had grown used to not knowing exactly where he was – only really able to tell by postcards in the occasional tourist shop and the ‘Welcome To…’ signs when he managed to spot them in time before driving into town.
But he’d received a very tired and exasperated owl from Theo and Daphne telling him that they were getting married. They knew all about his massive aversion to weddings – and had taken the time to inform him that his mother was a widow again – so they hadn’t invited him. He wouldn’t have gone anyway, but he wasn’t so much of a bastard as to not send them anything. So he’d headed north east to the area of America he knew for sure had shops with more variety than a petrol station and a Seven-Eleven or a Wal-Mart, and had abused the family wealth he’d been determinedly avoiding over the past year. He’d already bought Daphne a necklace and Theo a tie pin from some place called Tiffany’s, but he was looking for something more…wedding-ish.
He’d had a huge amount of experience with wedding gifts and the post-wedding sorting thereof, and knew that the twentieth set of china or a self-churning butter churn would – no matter how much the bride and groom liked him – end up being binned. He had a feeling that anything Muggle wouldn’t go down well either, really, since anyone who was going to attend a Nott-Greengrass wedding was probably rich, snobby, pureblooded and determinedly denying affiliation with Voldemort.
That and his friends thought he was crazy for doing all of this, anyway. Though he had sent them a picture of the car and the runes he’d carved on the underside of the bonnet to keep the wires from frying. (Electricity tended to do strange things when exposed to magic. He’d discovered this when half way down a lonely road in Nevada, smoke had billowed up from under the bonnet and a quick inspection had shown him that the remains of his fan belts had somehow transformed into rattlesnakes somewhere down the road, and that they had promptly been barbequed. They’d been crispy and had tasted of rubber, but they’d also prompted him to try and prevent further damage to the car by warding it – he was working on the principle that either it would adjust to the amount of magic powering it whether it liked it or not, or it would explode. So far, there had been no explosions, but he wasn’t holding his breath.)
So he’d decided to abuse his status as a European with an accent that could cut glass (and cheekbones that looked like they could do the same) and find his way into a local auction house. There was apparently some sort of estate sale going on – he’d read about it in a newspaper over his morning cup of coffee and a bagel. It was the sort of place that required gold to ooze from the pores. Malfoy would have loved it if it hadn’t been so Muggle.
He arrived looking like the million dollars that he hadn’t spent on his outfit. He’d transfigured a pair of jeans and a T-Shirt into a suit that looked like it had been tailored to within an inch of its life by the most highly skilled seamstresses in the world. His hair was tied back, his sunglasses were on, and he looked exactly like a Muggle with more money than sense.
He pulled into the parking lot and cringed as he looked at the other cars. They were neat, clean and shiny – the exact opposite of his. His was covered in dust and liable to transform into something at complete random. There was always a chance that he’d leave the auction house only to find a burning pumpkin in his parking spot.
He was half way through a series of new enchantments to try and prevent his car from doing anything when another car pulled up and parked next to him. It was, if possible, even shabbier looking than his own: its black paint smeared with layers of mud and built-up grime. It made his car look like it belonged in that parking lot.
There were two men in the car, and one of them looked familiar. Blaise hadn’t seen him in almost a year, but recognised him in an instant. It was the eyes and the leather jacket and the fact that Blaise had panicked about maybe building up a resistance to the potion that was supposed to stop him from being tempted to lick peoples’ biceps.
“Dean,” he murmured, and hid his wand back up his sleeve.
Dean was talking to the other guy, grimacing slightly as if the thought of going into the auction house was a less favourable prospect than Muggle dentistry. Blaise didn’t blame him. He hated shopping. Although, he did wonder what Dean was doing there – he didn’t really strike him as the auction type. But, Blaise supposed, he really didn’t know anything about him other than that he liked cars and pie.
He gave himself a once-over and checked that he had anything he could possibly need; mostly his wand and a snobby attitude, but actual money would help too. Even though he didn’t have that much of it and was relying on his seven years in Slytherin house and semi-aristocratic upbringing to give the impression that he had.
He was half way to the auction house when a voice calling his name made him stop. He turned. Dean was grinning at him, looking triumphant that he’d recognised him, and Blaise felt oddly warm at the sight of that smile.
“I knew it was you,” Dean said, catching up with him. “Recognised the car.”
That wasn’t surprising in the slightest.
“Dean,” Blaise said, pretending that he hadn’t recognised him the moment he’d laid eyes on him. “Dean with the great cherry pie.”
If anything, Dean’s grin grew wider.
“You two know each other?” It was Dean’s companion who had spoken. He was ridiculously tall, with floppy dark blond hair and an expression that warred between suspicion – aimed mostly at Blaise – and the desire to make mischief.
“Not really,” Dean said. “We just ran into each other in Texas before I met up with you. See, Blaise here has a sexy-ass car he knows nothing about, and I told him where to get some really good pie.”
It was news to Blaise that they had been in Texas, but it was fair enough. Most of the mid-south looked all the same to him.
“This is my brother Sam,” Dean continued. “Sam, this is Blaise of the sexy car.”
Blaise wondered if Dean would still think his car was sexy if he knew what it did to radios. (He’d tried to work the one that came with it, but that was a hopeless case, so he’d replaced it only to find that it randomly tuned in to what sounded like Satanists FM.) He decided not to mention it. Instead he said, “nice to meet you,” and smiled.
Sam smiled back. It was all very nice.
“So what brings you here?” Sam asked.
“Shopping for a wedding present,” Blaise admitted, ignoring the raised eyebrows that his statement received. Yes, he knew that the lot came from the house of a couple who’d been recently murdered, but he didn’t mind. Having seen his mother widow herself repeatedly had skewed his ideas of what was considered morbid. “You?”
“Uh, we’re…investigating something,” Sam said.
Blaise looked them both up and down. Dean was in leather and jeans and cowboy boots, looking just as dishevelled as he had when they’d first met. Sam was in jeans too along with several layers of flannel. He raised an eyebrow.
“You’re going to try and get in looking like that?” he asked.
Their matching sheepish grins managed to both exasperate Blaise, and endear them to him. They were pretty and hopeless and…oddly like his car, in a way.
“Fine,” he said. “Just follow my lead.”
“But why would you help us?” Sam asked. He looked confused.
Blaise just smiled at him, and then looked up to meet Dean’s eye. “It was really good pie,” he said.
Dean grinned and nodded.
They weren’t on the guest list originally, but a flamboyant wave of his hand – and, therefore, the wand hidden up his sleeve – put their names pride of place. Blaise smirked at the man, curling his lip in a Malfoy-ish way that was guaranteed to make anyone feel inferior, and stepped through the door.
The auction house was painted a cheery shade of psycho ward white and crammed with people browsing through the possessions of a murdered couple with interest, sipping champagne and taking delicate bites out of several different types of canapés. It was morbid even by Blaise’s standards. He heard a soft huff of “people” from behind him, and turned to look over his shoulder.
Sam offered him a weak smile as Dean hailed down a waiter. “Thanks for your help,” he said.
Blaise smiled back. “No problem.”
“No seriously,” Dean joined in. “Thanks. You going to be in town for long?”
Fear coiled in Blaise’s lower stomach, and he dropped his gaze. Dean was very, very attractive, even when he was chewing enthusiastically on mini quiche, and that was a problem. A big problem.
“Not really,” he said. “I’ll be off again by tomorrow, I think.” He would make sure of it. It was cowardly, he knew, but there was something about Dean that scared him, and his Slytherin survival instincts were screaming at him to get the hell out of there.
“Shame,” Dean said.”I guess we’ll just have to run into each other again somewhere else.”
Blaise swallowed. He looked up, met Dean’s gaze, and smiled. “Sure,” he said.
He’d try his hardest to make sure it never happened.
Gringotts International Branch USA was not where most people would have expected. It wasn’t in a major city on the east coast, like New York or Washington DC; it wasn’t in a magically important place such as Salem, Massachusetts either. It was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, of all places. Even Blaise had been surprised. Before he’d actually had to go there, he would have thought it would have been in an actually important city rather than some backwater place that he’d never even heard of before. But, he supposed, that it was the kind of security decision that goblins would make: no one would look for the bank there, so if they did manage to find it then it would confuse the hell out of them.
Even more confusing was the fact that it doubled as a Muggle bank (City Bank Milwaukee). It was something that most of Blaise’s old classmates would have been horrified by: their gold having to share space with Muggle currency! Appalling! Having to walk past Muggle customers and Muggle tellers to access their finances? Scandalous! Blaise personally thought it was a pretty good idea, right up until he had to leave.
The goblins shut the door to the magical section of the bank behind him, trapping him in a Muggle hostage situation.
“Fuck,” he said.
“Get down on the ground!” the lunatic with the gun said. “Get down!”
Blaise knelt slowly. His wand was tucked up his sleeve, but the room was full of Muggles and American law was something he didn’t want to tangle with. The man with the gun seemed scared – not entirely in control – but the people on the floor looked worse.
“Down!” the man yelled at him.
He was about to finish lowering himself to the floor, inwardly cursing the Statute of Secrecy with every fibre of his being, when another voice rang out.
“Ron! It’s okay, man, he’s with us.”
Blaise turned his head to look, and he couldn’t quite stop himself from staring in disbelief. For one split second, all of the practise and training he’d had in hiding his emotions vanished. His eyes widened, his jaw slackened, and his brain went blank. Then, everything kicked back into gear.
There was a Muggle hostage situation, and they were being held by an inexperienced and frightened assailant. Dean of the Awesome Pie and his floppy-haired giant of a brother were standing there, dressed as maintenance men of some kind, claiming that he was with them. They knew the hostage-taker – they were at least on first name terms with him – and from the sound of thee man’s gibbering, he seemed to believe that they were FBI agents.
Blaise suddenly felt extremely sympathetic towards Potter. Usually, he was the one putting up with this sort of crap.
“Buddy, calm down. Just calm down,” Dean was saying.
“What the – You!” the gunman looked even crazier now. “Get on the floor now!”
“Okay, we’re doing just that,” Dean said. He and Sam knelt slowly, raising their hands and trying to look as harmless as possible – which wasn’t particularly harmless at all, Blaise noticed. “Just don’t shoot anybody, especially us. And him.” He nodded at Blaise.
Sam snorted. “Dude, this is not the time to be thinking with your dick,” he said. Blaise cringed inwardly.
“I knew it.” The gunman was talking again. He still looked crazy. “As soon as you two left. You ain't FBI. Who are you? Who are you working for, huh? The men in black? You working for the mandroid?”
He sounded crazy too.
“We're not working for the mandroid!” Sam burst out.
What the heck was a mandroid?
“You, shut up! I ain't talking to you, I don't like you.”
Blaise was rapidly developing a headache. He pressed his raised hands to his temples.
“Fair enough,” Sam replied.
“Ron,” Blaise said. “Your name’s Ron, right?”
The gunman’s attention was back on him. He lowered his hands slowly, moving his left in a vague wiggle. He felt his wand spark and smiled slightly. It was a trust compulsion – not the most polite or politically correct thing to do, especially to a Muggle – and it would make Ron trust in him, believe in him…and it would hopefully move things along faster.
“I’m Blaise,” he said. “Look, I know that you think that something’s in this bank, but it isn’t a mandroid -“ he didn’t even know what the hell one was, but he was pretty sure that they were imaginary “- there has to be another explanation. So just listen to what Dean has to tell you. You like Dean, right? He’s cooler than Sam, anyway.”
“Right,” Dean said. “But, we should probably get these people out of the lobby, okay? And put them somewhere secure so that the, uh, thing can’t get to them. Okay?”
The gunman paused. “Please,” Blaise said.
“Okay,” Ron said. “Okay.”
They shepherded the other hostages into the bank vault. Ron was still waving his gun around but he was calmer and more compliant. He listened to Dean’s suggestion that they split up to search the bank, and headed off with a vaguely disturbed looking Sam. Apparently Ron was more susceptible to the spell Blaise had used than most people. It was either that, or he’d been desperate to have someone with him that he could trust, which would have enhanced its effect.
It was just unfortunate that Dean wasn’t as trusting as Ron was.
Blaise couldn’t stop himself from gasping as he found himself shoved up against a marble pillar, Dean’s muscular arm pressed against his throat. His eyes were narrowed in suspicion and his grip was uncomfortable to say the least.
“Dean,” Blaise croaked out.
“Christo,” Dean replied, not skipping a beat.
“Huh?” Blaise was confused.
Dean’s grip loosened slightly, as he twisted his body and pulled a knife out of his sock. He grabbed Blaise’s hand and, before he could protest, sliced open his palm.
“Ow! Fuck!” Blaise burst out. “What was that for?”
It had been his left hand too, damn it. There was no way he could use his wand now, not unless he switched hands, and he wasn’t particularly great at performing the movements correctly with his right. Any blood that got onto his wand would enhance any magic performed and…well, he was surrounded by Muggles. The Statute of Secrecy did call for tact and subtlety, after all. Blood-enhanced magic was about as subtle and well-controlled as the Malfoy-Weasley feud.
“Sorry,” Dean said, not looking in the slightest bit apologetic at all. “I just had to check something.”
“Check what? That I bleed?” Blaise growled. Dean no longer had an arm choking off his blood supply, but he was still awkwardly close and unbearably attractive.
“That you’re human,” Dean replied. He sighed. “Look, this is going to sound completely crazy, but…you know all those things you hear about in ghost stories? Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, witches, things like that?”
Blaise wasn’t too keen on being called a thing, but nodded anyway. Was Dean a wizard?
“Well, they’re real,” Dean said. “Very real and very dangerous. My brother and I, we hunt them for a living. Stop them from hurting people.”
Oh. Oh shit.
Blaise was standing inches away from the most handsome man he had ever met, the only person he’d ever felt even a semblance of attraction to, and he was a Hunter. He was someone who’d gladly slit Blaise’s throat as soon as look at him, and the only reason he hadn’t yet was that he thought Blaise was a Muggle.
“What if they don’t hurt people?” he asked. It was stupid, but he had to know.
“Things like that? There’s always someone getting hurt.”
Right. That sounded like a well-balanced view of the world. Kind of like the Death Eater party line, only reversed for Muggle convenience.
“Oh,” he said. “Are you hunting now?”
“Yeah,” Dean said. “That mandroid Ron was going on about? It’s not actually a mandroid.” Blaise was tempted, sorely tempted, to ask what the hell a mandroid was anyway, but he held his tongue. “It’s a shapeshifter. This one takes on the appearance of a human, robs a place – a jewellery store, a bank – and then murders the person whose identity it stole. That’s why I cut your hand. They can’t touch silver. If you’d been the shifter then your skin would have blistered.”
“Right,” Blaise said. “Do you know who it’s imitating?”
“Well, before Ron busted in, it was looking like the bank manager, but he’s nowhere to be seen and…we don’t know anymore.”
“Great.” Apparently, the day could get worse.
“So…” Dean had pulled away, thankfully, and they had started off on their own search for the shifter, heading in the opposite direction from Sam and Ron. “What brings you here?”
“I was passing through and needed to use the bank,” Blaise said. “Apparently I’m developing a knack for running into you.”
Dean grinned. He looked Blaise up and down slowly, deliberately, making Blaise blush and look away.
“I don’t mind,” Dean said. “You’re easy on the eyes, at least.”
Blaise didn’t comment. He knew he was. He didn’t need to be told about it. He didn’t want to feel pleased by the fact that Dean had actually noticed.
“How long have you been a hunter?” he asked.
“Forever,” Dean said. “It’s the family business, I guess you could say.”
“Oh,” Blaise said. Wonderful.
“What about you?” Dean asked. “I mean, yeah you’re travelling, but…there’s nothing to go home to?”
Blaise shook his head. “Just drama,” he said.
“Mostly,” he admitted. “Isn’t it always?”
Dean laughed. “That’s the truth.”
All they found of the bank manager was a corpse and a pool of glutinous skin and cartilage. The shifter had already changed forms.
Then, the whole situation got far, far worse.
“Shit! Shit! Shit!” Dean snarled, having taken the phone from Ron and slammed the receiver down. It had rung a few minutes ago, and Ron had spoken to someone on the other end, answering questions and not realising the danger that they were in.
“It’s the Feds,” Dean elaborated.
Sam groaned. Blaise said nothing. He wasn’t entirely sure what Feds were, but he suspected, from a surreptitious glance out of the window, that they were American Muggle Aurors of some sort.
“We need to find that shifter,” Sam said. Then he glanced at Blaise nervously. Blaise just smiled at him.
“Dean filled me in,” he said, showing his palm. “In the most gentle and considerate manner possible.”
Sam grinned. “You survived though,” he said. “Good. We’re going to need help with this one.”
Blaise shrugged. “The shifter’s in the vault,” he said. The others all stared at him. He raised an eyebrow. “You did ask for help.”
Opening the vault, though, revealed a new problem. Namely, a man having a heart attack.
“Oh, for the love of –“ Dean cut himself off in frustration.
“He could be faking it,” Sam hissed.
Blaise hesitated. Then he pulled a sickle from his pocket, careful not to reveal it to anyone in the vault. “I’ll deal with it,” he said. He stepped forward and took the elderly man from the grasp of the younger, dark skinned man who was supporting him. Carefully, he pressed the sickle against the man’s hand. Nothing. No reaction at all. He guided him slowly out of the vault.
“Close it up,” he ordered the hunters as he passed.
Dean nodded. Then, “Blaise,” he said.
Blaise paused. “I’ve already checked him,” he said. He revealed the sickle in his hand. “It’s solid silver.”
“What is that?” Sam asked.
Blaise ignored him. He really, really didn’t want to answer that. He looked at Dean instead.
“Look, take him outside and put him in the ambulance,” Dean said. “Go with him and don’t come back. We can handle things here.”
Blaise hesitated. “Thanks,” he said.
Dean nodded. “Go,” he said. “And Blaise? Be careful, okay?”
He left the bank, the elderly man still clinging to him, and he didn’t look back. He put the man in the ambulance, explained what the problem was – “we’d been shut in a vault, sir, when he complained of pain in his arm and started clutching at his chest; he went pale and sweaty, and I have no idea at all who he is so I really shouldn’t be the one in that ambulance; I’m not hurt at all; oh, my hand’s fine it’s not hurting at all; yes, I’ll take care of it as soon as I get home” – and walked away. He ignored the men in dark suits calling for him, and he headed into a nearby alley. He leaned against the wall. He could still hear the Feds calling. He closed his eyes.
Dean thought he was a Muggle and had let him go before things got too dangerous. But Dean was a Hunter. If he ever managed to find out that Blaise was a wizard, then his days would be numbered. Dean was also the only person Blaise had been attracted to through the haze of his libido suppressant, and he was certainly one of the most interesting people he’d ever met.
Blaise was in serious trouble. The voices grew louder. He disapparated.
There were times when Blaise hated his life.
He’d visited England, gone to see Daphne and Theo in their happy, settled, married life. It had been awkward until he’d told them that he couldn’t stop thinking about a Hunter. They’d told him to get over himself. They were living in suspicion and hatred and prejudice just because of Theo’s father and the colours on their school ties; he was living it up on a distant continent with a sexy man who he could – if he wanted to – convince that he was innocent of any and all crimes (which he was) and that he could even be helpful (“it’s not like we weren’t taught how to kill werewolves and vampires and expel ghosts and demons while we were still in school, anyway – and besides, with magic you’d probably be able to make their lives a lot easier”).
They’d also told him that it would do him good to get laid for once.
So he’d gone back to America, eager to escape his mother’s latest engagement and slightly less eager to chance running into Dean. He’d reclaimed his car from the secluded woodland in Maine he’d left it in (it had spent its time stalking small animals through the trees) and headed in some vague direction and ended up in a small town in Colorado. River Pass, Colorado, to be exact.
His car had then proceeded – quite promptly – to break down. How it managed that, exactly, Blaise wasn’t sure. It was running off magic rather than Muggle technology and he knew that with his magic still powering it that it should have kept running. The car disagreed.
It was time like these that Blaise almost wished that he was on even the passing acquaintance list of the Weasley family. The enchanted Ford Anglier…Angler…the enchanted car that Weasley and Potter had crashed onto the grounds at the start of second year was legendary. Sitting in the basement of a church, surrounded by weeping Muggles and frustrated Hunters, he would have loved to have had a chance to pick Arthur Weasley’s brain and find out from the expert where he had gone wrong.
But the presence of the Hunters was giving him something more vital to worry about than his car’s idiosyncrasies. Namely, his continued existence. Sure, the salt lining the doorway and the devil traps in the corridors wouldn’t actually do anything to him, but there was still the risk of being discovered, and the shotguns they were toting would do a hell of a lot of damage.
He wanted to focus on keeping his head down and avoiding the attentions of the others. It was just unfortunate that one of those Hunters was Dean.
“I knew I’d find you here,” Dean told him, sitting down next to him and putting his gun on the table. “I saw your car on the way in.”
Blaise scowled. “It broke down,” he said.
“Seriously? Want me to take a look at it when we get out of here?” Dean asked.
Blaise looked up at him. “I’ll be fine,” he said.
“Hey, I know my stuff,” Dean said, “and it wouldn’t be a problem. I could’ve been a mechanic if –“
“If things had been different,” Blaise finished for him.
Dean grinned, but he still looked slightly sad. “Yeah,” he said.
“Thanks,” Blaise said after a moment. “But I’ll manage, really. It’s just going through a troublesome stage.”
Dean raised an eyebrow. “It’s a car, not a toddler,” he said.
Blaise shrugged. “You’d be amazed,” he said drily.
He’d filled a notebook with arithmancy equations and runic charts and blueprints for arrays. So far, all he could say for certain was that they were overloading the car’s machinery with magic to the point where it had to adapt to keep working in the way that he needed it to.
Well, he could also say that he probably should have started out with something a little less complicated, but…
“I visited home,” he said suddenly. He wasn’t entirely sure why he was telling Dean that.
“How’d it go?” Dean asked.
“It was exactly the same,” he said. “All of the reasons why I left are still there. Nothing’s changed, including my inability to deal with them.” Most of them. He’d tossed out the libido suppressant. It wasn’t really working anyway. “So I came back. There’s nothing really there for me anymore.”
“So you’re settling in the States?” Dean asked. He sounded pleased, oddly enough.
“Yeah,” Blaise said. He grinned. “I figured I’d risk running into you some more.”
The way Dean smiled made his heart skip a beat.
Things got difficult again after that. Sam and Dean went out for supplies and Sam got himself kidnapped. Then there was the task of explaining demons to the civilians they shared the basement with. But explaining demons opened up a can of worms that no one wanted to touch: such as everything else that Muggles didn’t believe existed.
“It’s impossible!” a young, muscular man said. He was holding the gun like he’d used one before, which wasn’t really all that reassuring. But Blaise was paranoid, so who was he to judge?
“Think about it,” Dean said. “You’ve seen their eyes.”
“There’s got to be some sort of condition that could do that, though. Like a disease in the water. The river ran red a few days ago.”
Blaise sighed. Things weren’t going well, and the young man had more support than Dean. He drew his wand and inspected it carefully. Ash and the heartstring of a Romanian Longhorn, well polished, whippy and excellent for enchantments. It was too bad that if he used it, he would probably get shot.
“Bollocks to it,” he muttered. He dredged up what little Gryffindor recklessness he possessed and levelled it at the man. “Silencio.”
That got him – and everyone else – to shut up.
“Magic is real, demons are real, so are werewolves and vampires and ghosts and all other sorts of crazy shit,” he said. “Hell, unicorns.”
Dean was eyeing his wand in suspicion. He raised his gun and pointed it at him, though he didn’t look like he was going to shoot. The other Hunter, a woman called Ellen, pointed her own gun at him too. “Blaise, you’re…”
“A wizard,” Blaise said smoothly. “And I was born this way, thank you. There were no deals with demons or baby eating or whatever the hell else you’re thinking of.”
They boggled at him.
“A wizard,” Ellen repeated.
“Unicorns?” Dean asked.
“Studied them in school,” Blaise said quietly. “Fifth year. Along with creepy death horses and tree sprites.”
“So when you say your car’s like a toddler…” Dean trailed off looking queasy.
Blaise wrinkled his nose. “Ew,” he said. “Magic and electricity don’t mix well, is what I meant. The spells it runs on make it do weird things at times. Like chase squirrels or randomly tune in to Cthulu’s Greatest Hits. Or develop rattlesnakes in the engine. Things like that. So when I said it broke down, what I really meant is that it threw a snit fit and decided not to move.”
“You couldn’t just drive it?”
“Guys, enough with the car talk,” Ellen interrupted. “Now what did you do to him.”
She pointed at the man Blaise had silenced. He was mouthing something – probably obscenities – with an incredulous expression on his face.
“Silencing charm,” Blaise said. “I thought a practical demonstration would get the point across a bit better.”
Dean shrugged. Apparently he couldn’t think of an argument to that. Ellen could. “Take it off,” she demanded.
“Finite Incantatem,” Blaise said. He kept his tone of voice casual, almost blasé, and the way Ellen’s expression darkened made him smirk.
She reminded him slightly of Millicent Bulstrode. Not appearance-wise, since Milli was ugly as sin and Ellen was moderately attractive; it was the domineering, mother-hennish attitude that did it. That and the penchant for violence.
“- the fuck was that?” the man who had been silenced asked.
“Magic, you dumb fuck,” Dean said. “Different from any magic I’ve seen before, though.”
“That’s because I was born with it,” Blaise said. “The stuff demons hand out is dangerous, yeah, but inferior. It needs a more specific focus and there’s less range in what it can do. I’m just a human with a talent that’s slightly weirder than most. Oh, and an education that left’s me completely unprepared for anything even resembling reality, but that’s not really got anything to do with being a wizard.”
Dean sniggered. Then his expression turned serious again. It was like watching a switch being flicked. He could laugh and joke as much as the next guy, but the transformation into a Hunter was instantaneous. Blaise had seen it several times among other Slytherin students, mostly those who had family loyalties and legacies to uphold.
“So,” Dean said. “Mr Wizard. Have you ever heard of anything like this before? The demonic activity in this town?”
“No,” Blaise admitted. “But then, I’m British. There’s less demonic activity over in England than there is here. I’m not sure why, exactly, but –“ he shrugged. “There’s fewer people like me too, just a few isolated colonies. There’s probably a correlation there somewhere.
“That said, though, I was taught enough demonology to know that this is way, way out of character. Demons don’t usually congregate in groups, and when they do there’s usually a great deal more destruction. They egg each other on, I suppose. Anyway, apart from bullet holes, none of the buildings in the area are damaged, but with so many demons hanging around so openly, it’s weird.”
“So something’s causing them to act strangely,” Dean surmised. He turned to the priest. “Hey, padre, you got a Bible in here?”
Blaise watched as, when the Bible was handed over, Dean flipped straight to the back. He leaned in curiously, peering over his shoulder.
“I thought Revelations was about the Apocalypse,” he murmured softly.
Dean winced. “Well, about that…”
Blaise stared at him in disbelief as Dean smiled up at him sheepishly. “Sammy and I may have, purely by accident, released Lucifer and started the end of the world?”
“Of course,” Blaise choked out. Of course, he would be attracted to the Muggle world’s version of Potter. It was like Dean was a magnet for rampant, supernatural-styled chaos.
But he was giving Blaise puppy eyes that were slowly turning his insides to goo.
“Oh, fuck it,” Blaise said. “It was bound to happen one day. So, any ideas?”
“Yeah,” Dean said, looking serious once again. “War.”
“Glorious,” Blaise replied. He rested his chin on Dean’s shoulder. “Is your life always this fun?”
Once they knew what they were really supposed to be fighting, it was all over surprisingly quickly. The Muggle civilians they’d shared the basement with had been more of a hindrance than any sort of help – they’d been tricked by War into thinking that they were demons too and had first thrown them out, and then tried to fight their way out of the town. They’d failed. A few of them had died. War, whether magical, Muggle, or personified, was a bitch.
“He had good taste in cars, though,” Blaise said absently. Dean was walking him to his own, while Sam watched – brooding – with Ellen and Jo.
“Like you,” Dean said. “Same make, same model –“ he caught sight of the blank look on Blaise’s face, and grinned broadly. “You have no idea what I’m talking about do you?”
“Not in the slightest,” Blaise admitted. He smiled. “We’re a pretty secular people. Most people like me are only vaguely aware that cars actually exist.”
“Why?” Dean asked. “Why close yourselves off? It’s not like anything else bothers to. Not that you’re a thing, or anything. I’m going to shut up now.”
Blaise laughed at him. “It’s because of Hunters,” he said. “Because normal people would want to either dissect us or have us provide magical solutions to their problems. Because some wizards think that we’re superior, and that people without magic are little more than animals. Because our magic doesn’t react well to your technology – as evidenced by my car. Pick a reason. Hell, pick all of them. Everyone has their own.”
They’d found his car. It sat by the side of the road, looking perfectly innocent. Blaise glared at it suspiciously and drew his wand. Something had happened to it. He just knew it.
“Why don’t you just learn to drive?” Dean asked.
“There’s a hole in the engine I can put my fist through, and it’s missing some other parts that are probably vital. I got it from a scrap yard. Without magic, it wouldn’t run at all.”
He opened the bonnet. The runes and arrays he’d etched into the metal surfaces of the hood and the engine stared back at him. They were shimmering pleasantly with magic. The kitten that had once been the radiator mewed up at him plaintively.
“This is the second time,” Blaise said, lifting the kitten out. It batted playfully at his hair. “The last time, it was snakes and I was driving and they got cooked.” He looked down at the cat, frowned, and then peered back at the engine. “I think my car’s coming to life,” he said dubiously. “Piece by piece and in the form of cute animals.”
He opened the passenger side door and dumped the kitten on the seat. Shutting it safely inside – and wondering what on earth he was going to do with it – he turned back to Dean only to find him standing right behind him. He was very, very close.
Blaise leaned back against the car. “Um, yes?” he said. He couldn’t stop his breath from hitching.
“I like you,” Dean said bluntly. He hesitated, and then smiled slightly. “I’m usually a lot better at chatting people up, but you’re either terminally oblivious or not interested, so I thought I’d come out and say it.”
“Terrified, actually,” Blaise said. “I don’t deal well with attraction.”
“And I was hoping,” Dean continued, not skipping a beat, “that you might feel like overlooking the whole fear of attraction or whatever and maybe, after this whole Apocalypse thing is over, want to…give it a go? ‘Cause I’d love that. But if you don’t, then that’s okay too.”
“After the Apocalypse?” Blaise asked.
“Well we are trying to stop it,” Dean said. “I just…don’t want to do anything now and get you involved when you shouldn’t have to be.”
“I can fight,” Blaise told him. “I’m not some delicate little –“
“I know,” Dean said. “Just humour me with this.” He leaned in, and rested his forehead against Blaise’s. Blaise inhaled slowly. Dean smelled of sweat and musk and dust – not that brilliant of a combination, but it was oddly reassuring.
He raised his hands, and wrapped his arms around Dean’s shoulders. He liked this. “You don’t mind me being magical, Mr Hunter?”
“You don’t hurt or kill or curse people for fun?” Dean asked.
“No,” Blaise said. “Never have.”
“You don’t eat babies?”
“I prefer cheeseburgers,” Blaise replied. He grinned. “And pie.”
Dean laughed softly. “Then we’re cool,” he said.
“Dean?” Blaise said softly. “Try to hurry up with stopping the end of the world.”
“Is that a yes?”
Dean’s lips were surprisingly soft and warm. Blaise tightened his grip on his shoulders and leaned into the contact. It was chaste. Soft. It was nothing like how Blaise had imagined kissing Dean to be, but he liked it. A lot.
“How do I contact you?” Dean asked when he pulled away.
Blaise smiled up at him. “We can just run into each other again,” he said. “It seems to happen a lot, anyway.”
Dean laughed. “Right.”
He sat at the diner counter, reading the paper. A slice of half-eaten blueberry pie sat in front of him, and the waitress was more than willing to top up his coffee in exchange for him letting her ogle him. He was more interested in the paper. He’d spent months tracking odd occurrences all over the country, and they’d finally let up. Part of him wished that he had given Dean a way to contact him – he didn’t even know if he was alive – but he hadn’t, and there was no way to go back and change that. Even time-turners couldn’t go back that far.
He sipped his coffee and was about to reach for his fork when –
“How’s the pie?”
He dropped the paper and turned sharply. Dean was standing behind him, his hands tucked into his jeans pockets and a grin on his face. Sam was behind him, shaking his head with a grin on his face.
“I…” Blaise said. “It was great before I dropped my newspaper in it.” He shrugged. “How was the end of the world?”
“Anticlimactic,” Dean replied. “The car?”
“God, will you two just get on with it?” Sam butted in.
Dean glared at him over his shoulder. “Go and…do something else. Like research or jacking off or anything.”
Sam backed away, raising his hands and laughing. He went to sit down at one of the tables by the window and pulled out some sort of Muggle thing. He unfolded it and started staring at it.
“Can I get you another slice of pie?” Dean asked.
Blaise shifted to lean against the counter. “Sure,” he said.
Dean grinned and dropped into the chair next to him, signalling the waitress without looking. “I was wondering,” he said, “what you were thinking of doing. Still road tripping, or what?”
“I haven’t really thought about it,” he said.
“’Cause Sammy’s going back to college,” Dean continued. “Law school. So I’m in the market for a new hunting buddy, and I was thinking that – if it wasn’t too weird for you – you would like to join me?”
Blaise took another sip of coffee as he pretended to think. He’d known immediately what his answer would be, before Dean had even finished the question.
“Alright,” he said. “I’d like that.”
Dean’s grin turned his stomach to liquid, and he knew he’d made the right choice.