Dean pulls into the parking lot of his favorite bar. It's a week night, so it's almost deserted. Parks the Impala, turns off the engine, grabs his wallet and climbs out.
He's pretty sure there was no one around when he parked, but now there's a girl standing in the middle of the lot.
Right between him and the bar.
"You okay?" he asks, because she doesn't seem to be going anywhere. She's just standing there.
She looks at him, frowning. "Where am I?"
Dean fishes his phone out of his pocket. "Lebanon," he says, and then, because weird is normal where he comes from, "Kansas. Want me to call someone?"
She glances at the phone, double takes. Grabs it out of his hands and examines it closely, then looks up. "What year is it?"
"Seventeen years," Sam says. "You just appeared in town and you're telling us the last thing you remember was seventeen years ago?"
"Yes," the girl says. Her name is Anya, or so she says. She's young, pretty, blonde. A little odd. "We were at the high school. Ubervamps and bringers everywhere. I remember the sword—" She gestures from her shoulder to her belly with a swift jerk of her hand, makes a guttural sound in the back of her throat that means death in all the languages Dean knows. "And that's it. That's all I remember. So, did we win? Demons didn't take over the world?"
"In 2003?" Dean says. "Not that I recall."
"Good. I need to get to Sunnydale."
"Wait," Dean says. "What?"
"Sunnydale's gone," Sam says, because he'd left for college, but it was in the news and everything. "Disappeared off the map back—" He frowns, like he's thinking hard. "About then, yeah. The official line was a natural disaster. Earthquakes and a massive sinkhole or someth—" He trails off when he sees Anya's face. "God, I'm sorry."
She wipes away a tear. "Thank you." Breathes deep. "Luckily I made investments. I may have lost my business but I should still have a significant income. May I use your computer?"
Sam gives Dean a look as he slides the laptop toward her. They retreat to the kitchen.
"Weird broad," Dean says. "What do you think?"
"We've seen this before, Dean. This kind of resurrection? It's God-level stuff. The last time it happened Mom came back."
The mere mention of Mary still cuts Dean right to the heart. "I don't know this girl," Dean says. "You think Chuck put her there? Why, Sam? What's the angle?"
Dean rolls his eyes. "Even Chuck's not that stupid. What about this Sunnydale thing? Monsters? You think her people got out?"
Sam shrugs and leads the way back to the library.
They find Anya shutting the laptop and looking pleased. "I have lots of money," she says.
"Congrats," Dean says. "Is there someone you want us to track down, let them know you're back?"
"Yes," Anya says, and hands Dean a slip of paper with a name and physical description written on it.
It takes them a good couple of weeks to track down Anya's friend. He disappeared from official records back in 2003, so they soon switched to unofficial networks.
Anya never called him a hunter ("no, he works in construction"), but monsters, so they put out an APB for a one-eyed hunter named Xander Harris, and eventually get a hit from some guy who ran into him on a swamp monster job a few years back.
Sam goes out to meet him, while Dean stays in the bunker with an increasingly agitated Anya.
"What if he doesn't remember me?"
"He left you at the altar, believe me, he won't have forgotten that."
"What if he's old, and wrinkly?"
"It's been seventeen years, and he's been hunting. It's not a cushy life, you know."
The sound of the door, metal crunching against metal, swinging open, clanging shut.
Anya stands, ready to bolt. Dean pushes her back down into a chair. Then he steps forward, waits for them to appear.
Sam comes first, and he practically skips onto the landing.
Slower, tentative, a man appears. His eyes—eye—is everywhere. He's got dark hair in need of a cut, and he dresses like a hunter—worn denim, flannel, leather jacket with his hands thrust deep into the pockets. There's a black patch over his missing eye and deep laugh lines in places that prove he's quick to smile.
He sees Dean, first. Lifts his chin in greeting. Dean nods in reply and then steps out of the way.
The other guy's face doesn't change. Dean glances behind him but there's only an empty chair.
"For fucks sake," he says. "She was here a minute ago."
"My brother, Dean," Sam says. "Dean, Xander Harris."
Dean steps forward as Xander comes down the stairs, shakes a strong, calloused hand. "She's a little shy," he says.
"It's been a long time."
"Not for her."
Xander nods. "How is she?"
Dean shrugs. "Honestly, pretty resilient. Discovering the joys of online shopping and catching up on seventeen years worth of bad daytime TV." Dean'll deny it, but he's been watching, too.
Xander smirks, and Dean's heart damn near skips a beat. He coughs, takes a step back, turns away. "So this back from the dead shit. You seen it before?"
"Once," Xander says. "Heavy stuff. Dark magic, big cosmic price."
"We haven't seen anything like that," Dean says. "She just appeared. You talked to your people?"
Xander nods. "They're all as surprised as I was. We didn't do this."
Sam appears from the direction of the kitchen. Dean barely registered him gone, but now he's back, with three cold beers. He doles them out, sits down at a table. "We've seen this kinda thing before. What we can't figure out though is why. Last time— There was a reason. We didn't do it, something really powerful did, and there were no strings. We've got no idea why whatever did this put Anya in Dean's path."
"Instead of, you know, yours," Dean adds.
There's movement in the hall. All three men swing around to watch as Anya appears in the doorway. She drops several items of luggage onto the floor. Dean wasn't kidding about the online shopping. "I'm ready," she says.
"Ahn," Xander breathes, as he crosses the room. "You look exactly the same."
"You got old," she says, and there's a sad twist to her mouth. "And you need a haircut." Then she throws herself at him, wraps her arms around him, and he drops his head, holding her protectively.
Dean starts to pull away. Gives Sam a look that encourages him to do the same, leaving them to their reunion.
They're gone. Packed up Anya's stuff and took off to parts unknown.
"It's gonna be quiet without her," Sam says.
Dean nods. "You know what bothers me the most? It's not knowing."
"Yeah. Has Chuck run out of ideas? Is he just gonna start throwing random dead girls at us now?"
"Anya wasn't random," Sam says. "She's connected. Who else do you know talks about the apocalypse like it's something that happens every other year? Her people might have access to weapons or magic that we've never seen before."
"Chuck wouldn't just hand that to us."
"No," Sam says. "But Amara might. Give it a few days. Then call Xander, see what he can find out." He grins. "I know you got his number."
"It's the eye patch, isn't it."
And the broad shoulders, and the strong hands, and the smell of leather. "Shut up, Sam."
"Got a pirate thing?"
Dean makes a rude gesture. "Leave it, Sammy." Yeah, he'll call.
He's definitely gonna call.