"Asking Nothing, Leave Me Tweed" Title: "Asking Nothing, Leave Me Tweed"
Author: monimala with Angel_Grace
Fandom: Veronica Mars/Supernatural
Character/Pairing: Veronica/Sam
Word Count: 10, 000-ish
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to us. We just love them a LOT. And AC/DC belongs to themselves.
Summary: Set somewhere in the near future of VM and in a season 4 of SPN, this was basically just Gracie and I screwing around with two of our favorite characters. I finished up as best I could after she got wooed away by other fics. ;-).

Veronica settled into the fifth row of the small lecture hall. Fifth row, third seat in, open option to put her feet up. After all, nobody liked a kiss ass. Least of all some stuffy old lecturer for the Honors program. Urban Legends and Folklore of the American Heartland? Yeah, she wasn't about to score any suck-up points there. But Parker --who was conspicuously absent from an endeavor that had been her idea-- had talked up the tiny little blurb in the paper like it was the academic event of the season.

Far be it for Veronica to miss such an august and celebrated lecture class.

God, she hoped there were patches on his elbows. Her kingdom for an elbow patch.

She tapped her pencil absently against the side of her notebook, not really caring whether the rhythmic sound was annoying to the people around her. Every time the lecture hall door opened, she looked up, expecting Parker to walk —okay, bounce— in, ponytail swinging, and bright-yet-sincere smile firmly in place.

With the clock showing one minute until class time, she gave up on Parker, and started surveying the people she’d be spending 2 ˝ hours per week with for the next 16 weeks. It seemed to be a pretty fair cross-section of Hearst students, perhaps tending a bit more towards the Goth and unwashed than, say, her criminology classes. She noticed several jocks as well; they probably thought that a class with “urban legends” in the title was about that crappy horror movie.

The hands of the clock clicked over to nine a.m., and not only was Parker still missing, so was the professor. There were no stodgy white-haired gentlemen in sight, which wasn’t entirely a disappointment. Restless murmurs began to fill the hall as three minutes ticked past, and Veronica could see that the students were gearing up for the unwritten “five minutes and out” rule. The door swung open again, and every head swiveled in that direction.

A collective sign of disappointment went up when it was just another student, a skinny guy banging the door shut and skipping down the stairs two at a time to the first row. Or maybe it wasn't skipping, it was just that the guy had ridiculously long legs and a stride to match. Ass kiss. Of course. Some people were already instituting the five minute rule and rustling their papers and hefting backpacks when Veronica, being in possession of keen insight and deductive reasoning, hit upon one very important detail: elbow patches.

Well, that and the skinny boy kept going, to the massive desk in the middle of the floor that looked like it belonged in a science lab --complete with the sink embedded in one side. His own backpack made a thump as it landed there and the lecturer, neither stodgy nor old, stared down at it with a look of bewilderment so palpable that Veronica had to laugh.

He pulled it out, inspected the bottom to make sure no lingering water had made contact, shrugged, and let it land again in the same exact spot with another careless thump. All the while, he hadn't even bothered to look up at the gathered crowd of students. When he finally did, Veronica's initial judgment that he was a lanky undergrad barely even wavered. He didn't look old enough to lecture anyone on anything except for where to catch the best wave and hang ten. Maybe that's what the tweed jacket and skinny brown tie was supposed to counteract.

At least a dozen students had already abandoned the class before he finally stopped rummaging through his bag. Looking up, he said, “Good morning, and welcome to Urban Legends and Folklore in the American Heartland. My name is Malcolm Young.”

Malcolm Young? She’d obviously been hanging out with her dad too much, because… wasn’t that one of the guys from AC/DC? And then he smiled, and all thoughts of classic rock fled her mind, because damn he was pretty. None of her criminology professors looked like that. Professor Landry had been mildly attractive... albeit nuts. But this guy gave new meaning to "hot for teacher."

He was still talking, and she forced herself to pay attention, instead of just sitting there with a dreamy smile on her face. “I’m sure many of you are wondering exactly what you’re going to learn in this class. Most of you are probably only familiar with urban legends as presented in television shows and movies, but they’re actually a long, well-documented part of American culture…”

Professor Young, as if that was anything except an apropos description of him, sat down on the desk itself as he gave a little background on the importance of folklore. She wrote down key phrases like "cultural significance" and "deep-seated superstition," while trying not to notice that his feet touched the floor and his arms wouldn't be far behind if his hands weren't occupied with elaborate gestures. The man was all limbs and torso. And hair. It was long and brown and badly in need of a trim. He ran his hand through it periodically as he talked and restlessly jostled his knee.

What did he have to be nervous about?

With great effort, Veronica directed her gaze down to the course syllabus she'd picked up from a seat by the door. An outline of the topics they would be covering over the course of the semester, including a reading list and a selection of movies. They were going to watch Jeepers Creepers? Seriously? And Candyman? Why not go for broke and throw in House of Wax, the Paris Hilton edition? After an eye roll and a check in to the "…fears based in reality…" portion of Young's intro speech, she skipped down to the more relevant section of the paper: the bio blurb.

Malcolm Young had received his Masters in Anthropology from Cyprus-Rhodes University in Ohio and then spent two years traveling across America and gathering local myths and legends. He had office hours three times a week and would not be taking attendance.

Oh. Well. Apparently he had a lot to be nervous about. He was lying through his pretty white teeth.

For the rest of the lecture, she alternated between taking notes and staring at his dimples. They were utterly mesmerizing, which wasn’t going to make prepping for midterms any easier. When his hour and fifteen minutes was up, she watched in amusement as nearly every female in the room flocked to his desk. She was sure they all had burning questions about the course schedule. Or maybe other things were burning. In which case somebody probably needed to visit the Hearst clinic for an ointment or two.

She stayed in her seat while, one by one, they all slowly filtered out of the room. She kept sitting while he gathered up his books and papers, shoving them haphazardly into his well-worn knapsack. As he pulled the zipper closed, she finally stood up and walked slowly to the front of the room.

He looked up, surprised. “Oh. I didn’t realize anyone was still here.” And promptly dropped the last of his papers.

She smiled, enjoying the fact that he was flustered. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“No, it’s fine. Did you have a question, Miss…”

“Mars. Veronica Mars. Actually, I was just wondering if you have a brother named Angus.”

He blushed, and it actually made him more adorable. “Excuse me?”

“Wow, I bet you’re a terrible poker player, with tells like that," she grinned, even throwing in a theatrical tongue click for good measure. "Look, I’m not going to tell anyone. Most kids at Hearst aren’t exactly stockpiling AC/DC albums or even burning tracks to their trusty iPods. But you might want to practice keeping a straight face, just in case.”

The expression he adopted was almost comically in line with her suggestion, grim and completely devoid of any dimpled goodness. He looked like a kid who'd had his toys taken away and stomped off to his room for a time out. “So now that you know my little secret, what are you going to do?”

The answer "Call your mom," was doing the cha-cha on the tip of her tongue. Professor Young, as it was becoming more and more obvious, was barely older than she was. "The question is, what are you going to do?" she countered. "'Highway to Hell' or 'You Shook Me All Night Long'?"

He laughed. “You know, you and my brother would get along really well.”

“You mean Angus?” she teased.

“Not exactly. Look… I have my reasons for using a different name. I can’t tell you what they are, but I’ll try and answer any other questions you have.” Which was classic code for "I'll try and make up an answer you won't see through." Good luck with that.

She thought for a moment. “Well… I would like to know if you’re even remotely qualified to be teaching this class.”

Cue the hand through the hair and a shift from one foot to the other. Not to mention that he had picked a point somewhere over her head to stare at, which was a shame since he had such pretty green eyes. By the time he arrived at the "manly jaw clench," Veronica was certain she was going to get the snow job of her life.

Which was why she was completely unprepared when Professor Not Malcolm Young began unbuttoning his casually untucked white shirt and tugged up the t-shirt beneath. She was still processing the visual --holy abs and hip cuts, Batman-- when he turned and her gaze fell to the ugly scar roughly at the middle of his back. Jesus, she'd been right, he was all torso… and the brutal, knotted lines ruined the view.

"What, are you going to tell me Bigfoot gave you that?" she scoffed, uneasily as he quickly rearranged his clothes. "The Wendigo? Bunch of vampires at the Motel 6?"

"No, Miss Mars," he said, picking up his backpack and shouldering it. "That's where I was stabbed to death."

By the time she had formulated any semblance of a reply, the door to the hall banged shut and she was alone.

**

Sam slammed the door to the apartment he and Dean were renting on a month-to-month basis. His brother looked up from watching TV, surprised… probably at the slamming. It seemed to be his theme for the day and he knew Dean would disapprove. Hunters' rule: You never slammed. It was a dead giveaway to your location for any nasty thing that might be lurking around the corner.

"Hey, Sammy," Dean drawled, looking more than a little amused. Though that could just be the Baywatch rerun at work. "Rough first day of school?"

He deposited his backpack with a thump on the floor. (It was a day for that, too.) "You could say that. My cover is already blown."

Dean sat up a little straighter, all amusement traded for full alert. "What? Someone recognized you?" he demanded, clicking off Pamela Anderson.

"Not exactly," he sighed, dropping onto the ugly plaid couch that had come with the place. "One of the students caught the reference to AC/DC. Why do you always insist on using names from pop culture?"

"Hey, don't pin this one on me," Dean huffed. "What self-respecting California college kid knows the names of the guys from AC/DC?"

"One whose father listens to them a lot, apparently." He pinched the throbbing spot between his eyebrows, hoping it would do something to dull the impending headache. Since it was about 5'2 and blonde, he seriously doubted it. "She totally called me out on it, too."

Dean's eyebrows arched up. "She?"

"Yeah. An undergrad named…" He took a moment to pull the class list from his bag. "…Veronica Mars. She's majoring in criminology."

"Is she cute?"

Sam glared. "Not really the point, Dean."

"My man, it's always the point." He grinned. "So, she is cute. What did you tell her?"

This was the part he dreaded. But it was best to get it over quickly, like ripping off the Band-Aid. "I admitted I'm not Malcolm Young, but I didn't tell her my real name. And I, uh, kind of showed her my scar."

Dean scrambled up so he could have the height advantage while he went off. "You did what? Sam, are you crazy? The girl is obviously too nosy for her own good already. Why on earth would you show her something that's just going to make her more curious?"

"I don't know!" he cried, since it was the truth. "She wanted a reason why I'm qualified to teach the class! That seemed like a pretty damn good one!"

"Jesus, Sammy, didn't anyone ever teach you to lie properly?" Dean shook his head, stalking over to the end table where they'd set up the laptop. "All this time we've spent together and you still think honesty is the best policy?"

Yes. Yes, as a matter of fact, he did. But he wasn't about to admit that out loud. Sam flopped back against the cushions and ran his hands through his hair. "So what do we do?"

Dean booted up the machine with a grimace. "For starters, we find out everything there is to know about Veronica Mars."

**

Veronica spent the next two days in the library and on the Internet, looking up every urban legend she could think of, and plenty beyond that. She learned more about werewolves than she'd ever wanted to know, but nowhere could she find anything about "hot guy with obviously fatal scars masquerading as a professor." There was, however, a dummy record in Cyprus-Rhodes University's system for Malcolm Young and when she called the anthro department, a bubbly departmental secretary had nothing but wonderful things to say about that "nice Young man." Ha ha. Irony duly noted. Hot guy wasn't a complete amateur… and she wasn't sure if she was comforted by that thought or not.

By the time the second lecture session rolled around, she was armed with exactly… nada. Plus Parker's embarrassed admission that she'd dropped the class to make room for a Middle Eastern dance elective. Traitor.

She made no concessions towards the fourth row, heading straight down to the front… where several giggling girls had already staked their claim. Fortunately, she found a space that wasn't quite so chirpy and sprawled low in her seat, doing her best "surly."

This time, their erstwhile instructor wasn’t late. He loped down the steps a full minute before kickoff and she was disappointed to realize he wasn't wearing a jacket or tie. Then she was disappointed in herself for being disappointed. Sure, he didn't seem like the type of guy who, say, dumped their ex-girlfriend off a boat, but she'd had her fill of sketchy professors, thank you very much. Even if they were cute.

Today, "Malcolm" wore a simple blue button-down, the sleeves rolled up to reveal tanned forearms. Her stomach did a little flip and she blamed it on hunger pangs, pulling a granola bar out of her messenger bag. They're just arms, Veronica, she told herself.

But when he dropped his bag in the sink and looked directly at her, she nearly choked on her Nature Valley. They were definitely not just eyes. They were suspicious... no, worse. Judgmental. He knew something. About her. He'd done his research, too… and been more successful.

She sat up straighter, meeting his gaze defiantly until he whirled and moved towards the chalkboard against the wall. The last of the sighs and giggles died down as he scrawled something across the slate... save for a couple of murmurs about how cute his butt was, which she couldn't disagree with.

When he turned back to the class, he repeated what he'd written out loud, "Witches. Succubi." Emphatically. While looking at her again. Ouch. "Can anyone tell me what they have in common?"

Her hand was the first in the air, but she didn't wait to be called on. "Men are no matches for them." The class giggled, but Not Professor Young's smile was closer to a sneer. "An interesting point, Miss Mars, but not exactly the answer I was looking for."

She could practically feel the anger rolling off of him in waves, and she slid down in her seat a bit. She heard some of the giggling girls whispering in astonishment that he knew her name, and shook her head in disbelief that, to them, nothing else about their exchange was important. His body language and tone of voice made it clear that whatever he thought he knew about her, it wasn't good.

She forced herself to pay attention as he launched into his lecture on witches and succubi. She had to admit, he was a dynamic speaker, obviously passionate about the subject, approaching it as something that was real and concrete, not just mythology that was interesting for its cultural implications. And no matter who or what he was, he was certainly nice to look at. His hair kept falling into his eyes, and she found herself following the path of his hand as he brushed it back. She lost the thread of the class for about five minutes as she pondered exactly what he could do with those very large, long-fingered hands, and another five minutes mentally chastising herself for thinking such things. She was better than the other simpering co-eds in the class. Above such things. Really.

As soon as the class was over, she jumped up, wanting to confront him about whatever information he had dug up on her--not to mention dig a little deeper into who he was. But she had underestimated those giggling, simpering girls. After over an hour of hearing about the sexual exploits of succubi, they were all apparently ready to audition their own techniques on "Malcolm." Veronica was forced to wait nearly fifteen minutes before the last one cleared out, and when that finally happened, he looked directly at her again, the suspicion once again clear in his eyes.

"We need to talk," they said simultaneously, and she couldn't help cracking a smile.

His expression didn't change, and she sighed. "So I'm guessing I'm not the only one who has been doing research," she began tentatively.

"And I'm not the only one who isn't what he appears to be," he countered. "You have quite an interesting history, Miss Mars. The people around you seem to die. A lot."

Her expression hardened, and her hand itched to slap him across that ever so pretty mouth. "My personal life may be a matter of public record, but it's really none of your business. If you're so curious, maybe you should investigate why Neptune has such a high incidence of homicidal maniacs."

He stepped closer, and she was struck by the fact that he was a head and shoulders taller than she was. From a distance, his lean, lanky frame made him appear fairly non-threatening, but this close up, she could see the strength in those arms, those hands. She slowly dropped her own hand into the folds of her bag, the slight weight of her taser a comforting presence.

"That's exactly what I've been doing," he said softly. "And what I've found is that the one thing so many of those deaths have in common... is you."

Now she felt like she'd been slapped across the mouth. And there was nothing ever so pretty about it. Her hands shook as she smoothed down her shirt. She remembered two days before, what he'd done with his to prove his worth. "I can't take this off," she told him, quietly. "I can't show you any scars because they're all on the inside. And they all have names that I'm not going to tell you because you probably already Googled them all."

"I have," he confirmed, the ice in his expression thawing just a little. Not quite a notch but definitely a smidge.

"All I've got is this," she said with a shrug, reaching up to part the hair at the back of her head. She figured she didn't even have to turn for a better view. He was so tall; he could easily see the tiny red scrapes, the bare patch where no hair had ever grown back. "The serial rapist on campus last year left me something to remember him by."

Young flinched, his cheeks immediately darkening with shame. She'd been right after the last class: He'd really make a lousy poker player. "I'm sorry… I didn't… " he sputtered, the gangly boy who needed to be at keggers and out surfing returning with a vengeance. "Were you…?"

"Your search didn't turn that up, did it?" she challenged, patting her coif back into place. "Veronica Mars, always at the scene of the crime… maybe because she knows what it's like to be a victim?"

A muscle jumped in his cheek and she saw that his fists were curled tight. "Were you raped?" he asked, the question barely audible, the last word almost completely without sound.

She almost felt sorry for him. Too many women could snow a man like this if it was so easy for him to believe. All they had to do was cry pretty and point a finger. Someone had thought her capable of that kind of act once and she couldn't bear to think of this strange, possibly homicidal, guy on the receiving end of the same kind of ruse. "Not then," she said, mercifully. "Once, a long time ago, but not then, Professor."

His exhale of relief sounded like he'd been holding his breath for months, possibly years. He closed his eyes, warring with something private, and she had to wonder if she'd pushed some kind of button. Did he know someone who'd been raped? Had he lost a woman to some other kind of violence? When he opened his eyes and met her gaze, she was surprised to see that any and all suspicion was gone.

"Call me Sam, Veronica."

Sam. She rolled the name around in her mind, tested it on her tongue. "Sam," she repeated softly. It suited him, certainly a lot better than "Malcolm" ever had. "It's nice to meet you." She hesitated just a moment, and added, "Again."

He smiled, maybe not as wide or as bright as he had the first day of class, but it was still a smile. The dimples were indentations instead of actual craters. "I think maybe you and I should start over."

"I'd like that." She paused, and the moment stretched into an awkward silence. "So... where do we start, exactly?"

He chuckled, and she reminded herself that she needed to start eating breakfast regularly to keep her stomach from doing funny flips at inconvenient moments. "I owe you an apology. I shouldn't have implied..." He trailed off, apparently not able to say the harsh words a second time. "You surprised me, Veronica. I wasn't expecting anyone to recognize the name, let alone confront me about it."

"'Expect the unexpected' should probably be the Neptune motto. But I'm sorry too. It was rude of me to assume that you weren't who you said you were. Even though you... aren't," she finished lamely. "Is it just me, or is this confusing?"

He laughed out loud at that, and seriously, what kind of genetic mutation was required to end up with dimples like that? And why couldn't she stop focusing on his damn dimples? And was that better or worse than focusing on his damn hands?

"It is confusing," he conceded, "but it sort of goes with the territory in my line of work."

"Ooh, are you a secret agent? Wait. Don't tell me. I don't want you to have to shoot me."

"Can we just say I'm in Neptune on an investigation, and leave it at that?" he suggested.

She thought for a moment. "For now," she finally agreed. "No guarantees on twenty minutes from now, though."

"I guess we'll just take it one minute at a time, then."

She smiled up at him. "That sounds fair."

He smiled back down at her. God, was there really a whole foot between them? "Can I buy you a cup of coffee? It would make me feel like slightly less of an ass."

"How did you know I could be bought with caffeine?"

"You're in college, aren't you?"

"Wow, maybe you really are a professor, with insights like that."

"Now you sound like my brother," Sam laughed, reaching for his backpack.

"You mean Angus?" she teased.

"That's the one."

**

Though Dean wasn’t happy to hear about him making friends with Veronica --"Hot students, hell yeah. Hot nosy students? What the fuck are you thinking?"-- Sam found he enjoyed spending the next few days with her.

She was smart and she knew Neptune like the back of her hand and those were assets he and Dean could definitely stand to use. They met up after classes were done for the day, though he staunchly refused to tell her his lessons plans or give her a heads-up on the first term paper. Fake professor or not, he still had ethics. Okay, some ethics.

Still, just to appease his suspicious brother (who wasn't too suspicious to have slept with half the strippers at some place called The Seventh Veil already), he'd even splashed Veronica with some holy water, knocking half a glass of it onto her by accident at the local coffeehouse. No sizzling, no smoking. She was clean.

Dean's reaction to that news? "Go for it. Reap the benefits of her non-demonic undergraduate charms."

That hadn't exactly been the stamp of approval he'd been looking for.

But he couldn't deny that Veronica's undergraduate charms were pretty appealing. In class, she engaged in discussion, asked all the right questions, and totally, blatantly, kissed ass. Though she'd admitted that on the first day she'd had no intention of doing so. Out of class, she was part tour guide and all… off limits.

Completely, totally, and utterly off limits. A fact that was made abundantly clear when they were sipping coffee in the student union, and a guy with floppy hair --not that he had room to talk-- and a tendency to ramble walked up and planted a kiss on her cheek.

She smiled up at the guy, and it felt like a kick to the stomach. For the past few weeks, he had been sliding along in a little bubble populated by Dean, Veronica, and the occasional student who stopped by during office hours. He had managed to forget that there were other people in the world, other people in her world... including one with the ever-so-unlikely (and stupid) name "Piz," who looked at Veronica with puppy-dog eyes.

When Piz finally had to leave for class, Sam took a slow, measured sip of coffee before speaking. "You never mentioned you had a boyfriend," he finally said.

"You mean Piz?" she replied with a chuckle. "You think we're dating?"

"Well... yeah," he replied, a little flustered. "I mean, he was all... touchy," he added, waving his hands in the air for emphasis.

"We're friends, Sam. And, okay, we used to date, but we're just friends."

"Does he know that?"

She took a sip of her coffee, and looked at him over the top of her cup. "You know, you almost sound... jealous."

"It's Latin," he said, instantly. "Sounds very close to 'jealous' to the untrained ear." Dean would have been proud of the comeback.

Veronica's eyebrows rose skeptically. "Latin. Okay. I would have guessed Greek, myself, but you're the expert."

"I'm glad we understand each other."

She leaned back in her chair, took another sip of coffee. "Let's not be too hasty. I think we should make sure that we're on the same page. If what you're saying is true, then I could walk over to that guy over there..." she pointed quickly, "and ask him on a date, and it wouldn't bother you in the slightest?"

He tried to hold his features perfectly still. He'd even been practicing his poker face in the mirror. "Should it?" he asked, and damn if his voice wasn't a half step higher than normal.

"You tell me," she said with a smirk.

"Veronica, you're my student. I realize that I'm a fake professor, but you're still my student. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to be jealous."

"I didn't ask if it would be appropriate," she said softly. "I asked if you would be."

"Of course not," he insisted, and even he wasn't buying it.

She stood up, and tossed her empty cup in the trash. "That's too bad," she told him, "because, if, say, you were to ask out that girl over there... I'd be jealous."

He could only stare as she walked away.

**

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Veronica kicked herself a couple of times as she headed for the safety of her Saturn. She barely knew Sam. She didn't even know his real last name. She hadn't met this mysterious brother/partner of his who was apparently named Dean, and not Angus, and determined to follow Vinnie Vanlowe's smarmy footsteps all over Neptune's strip. She knew next to nothing about Sam except that she knew next to nothing about him.

And she was flirting. No, she was beyond flirting and straight to "Nice shoes. Wanna screw?" And given the ridiculous size of his shoes, she was pretty sure the screwing would be downright spectacular.

Those first few days with "Malcolm Young" had been rocky. Actually a couple of Rocky sequels. Maybe the one with the Russian guy. But in the time since, she'd really, really started to like him. He was sweet and articulate and courteous. Who, in this day and age, pulled out chairs for people and said 'Sir' and 'Ma'am'? Sure, he seemed to know an inordinate amount about the occult and that was a bit creepy, but since she was learning about it for a letter grade, she could hardly cast stones.

She'd had a lot of stupid ideas in her life so far. Most of them male. Now was not the time to add to the pile. Not with him. Not with Sam.

"Veronica?"

His voice was low, that good ol' boy drawl, but she heard it loud and clear from six feet away. "Veronica, wait."

"Why?" She stopped with her hand on the driver's side door.

"You know what witches and succubi have in common?" The question was lame, stammered, and when she half-turned to face him, she could see that Sam looked just as unsure and awkward as she felt.

"No. What?" she wondered, quietly.

Sam groaned, digging both hands through his hair before he crossed the small space between them and trapped her against the car with those very same hands pressed flat against the windows. "I am absolutely no match for you."

"No kidding," she quipped, meeting him halfway for the kiss.

And God, was it a kiss. The kind that made her knees weaken and her fingers fumble for the keys and every single cell in her body scream "let's take this some place besides the parking garage right NOW."

Judging by the expression on Sam's face when he pulled back for air, it was a shared sentiment. "Let's go," he whispered raggedly. "Somewhere. Anywhere."

Sam had a monologue running through his head during the entire drive. He came up with at least fifty reasons why this was a bad idea, but none of them were compelling enough to actually make him stop. He wanted this, wanted her. God, he wanted her. And not just because she was beautiful, or the fact that it had been a while. Veronica was... different. Funny, and smart, and as far as he could tell, completely untouched by demons or spirits or any other nasty things. She reminded him of Jess a little bit, and that was probably the most terrifying part of all. But he managed to spout off his address without one quaver of fear in his voice. Just pure, unadulterated lust.

By the time they reached the parking lot behind his building, Veronica was ready to jump out of her skin. Or at least out of her clothes. It took all of her willpower to get out of the SUV instead of lunging across the front seat and climbing into his lap. He held out his hand as he came around the car, and it was such a sweet, dorky gesture that she actually got a lump in her throat. She slid her small hand into his much larger one, and tipped her face up for a kiss. He was happy to oblige, but kept it chaste and brief, since he didn't think either one of them were into parking lot exhibitionism.

Once they were safely in the living room, though, as bets were off. He flipped the deadbolt and pulled the chain across, so that Dean wouldn't come barging in on them. Then he turned his attention to Veronica. She really was tiny, and the difference in their sizes ignited something primal in him. Placing his hands on her hips, he lifted her easily off the floor and backed her against the door, pinning her body there with his. She moaned softly and brought her legs up to hook around his waist, and then he dipped his head to kiss her in earnest.

He kissed her until both of them were gasping for breath, while she clutched desperately at his shoulders. With one hand, he found the zipper of her jeans, carefully working it down and slipping his hand beneath the denim to palm her ass.

"Bed. Now," she panted.

"Bed. Later," he countered with a husky chuckle. "All in good time, darlin'."

"You're possessed," she accused as he stroked beneath the waistband of her panties. "Evil. Totally demonic. N-no… Bigfoot." Definitely Bigfoot.

"Someone's been doing their homework," he laughed, putting the long fingers she'd admired so thoroughly to thoroughly good use.

She moaned a bit louder this time, and arched back, knocking her head against the door in the process. "Ow," she whimpered.

He laughed quietly. "Don't worry, I'll kiss you better." He brought his lips down to hers, and the mild sting at the back of her head was quickly forgotten beneath the heat of his mouth and the devil's work his fingers were doing between her legs.

A few moments later, those talented fingers had her crying out his name, and as she trembled in his arms, he carried her into one of the bedrooms. Easing her down onto the mattress, he stretch out next to her, pressing lazy kissed to her neck while one hand slipped beneath her shirt and teased her bellybutton.

"That tickles," she protested mildly, rolling on top of him and sitting up. She clasped her knees snugly around his narrow hips, and bent closer to ease open the top button on his shirt. Her lips followed her fingers, and he simply relaxed and watched her work. When she was halfway done, she looked up and said, "Promise not to think less of me if I tell you I've been picturing you naked since the first day of class?"

He laughed, the slight movement creating even more friction where their bodies met. "Only if you'll promise not to think less of me for doing the same."

She slid the last button free, and gently pushed open the shirt. The skin on his stomach was paler than his arms, and she guessed he didn't spend a lot of time sunbathing. As she had suspected, he was sporting a six-pack, and she couldn't resist the temptation to kiss and lick along each muscled ridge.

There was a collection of scars, too. The one on his back wasn't his only remembrance of awful things. She kissed and licked every single one, lingering on what looked like the exit wound for a bullet on his upper arm, and he gasped out, "Fuck, Veronica." Immediately chasing it with an, "I'm sorry."

"I've heard worse," she murmured as she made her way up to his lips again, "and since I don't have any soap on me, I'll just have to wash your mouth out a different way."

It wasn't the most graceful of kisses. It was wet and sloppy and all tongue and by the time it was over, Sam only had a string of more four-letter words to offer. Veronica giggled against his throat and then he was taking control, flipping them so she was beneath him. He made short work of her jeans and her shirt, sliding her bra straps down and kissing his way down her shoulders, all the way to the place where one strap met the cup and licking beneath the wire. As she squirmed beneath him and proved her own vocabulary was suddenly lacking in multi-syllabic offerings, he nudged her thighs apart.

"A-aren't you taking it off?"

"Nope."

"We're going to do this with my bra on?"

"Uh huh."

"You're evil."

"You have no idea." He stared down at her and the look on his face was so not boyish, so not young and dorky, that she felt a tiny spark of fear mixed in with an even bigger flicker of excitement.

"I want to find out," she whispered, reaching up to push his shirt the rest of the way off his shoulders. "Consider it a research project."

The rest of his clothes came off quickly, but as he pulled a condom from his wallet and returned to her, he quirked an eyebrow at her attempt to slyly slide one hand behind her back. "Bra stays on," he reminded with a dimpled grin. "Or you don't get any extra credit."

"You drive a hard bargain, Professor."

"I've never heard the Impala called that," he chuckled, tearing at the foil and unrolling the latex over his cock-- which really did prove the whole theory about big hands and feet. Like… complete with footnotes and a bibliography.

"I thought your brother always drove the car… and I thought you'd go for the obvious 'hard' joke."

"I'm full of surprises, Veronica."

Moments later, she was full of them, too.

**

More than anything, Veronica hated waking up alone after being with someone. Inevitably, it reminded her of Shelly's party… of waking up feeling used and scared and finding her panties underneath the pillow. Or, in this case, that dastardly bra. It had been years, but she still had those issues. So, when she awoke in Sam's bed, early the next morning, her immediate impulse was to mentally spray paint "slut" on the SUV parked down in the lot.

But the sound of the shower running and the Sam-shaped space that was still warm from where he'd been went a long way towards soothing her massive case of the post-traumatic stress. She could hardly blame him for washing up considering she was feeling a bit wonderfully sticky herself.

And when she turned to the bedside table, she had to laugh with relief. A hastily scribbled note was lying on top of a neatly folded example of lumberjack chic. "Didn't want to wake you. Coffee's in the kitchen. And you get a definite A on your project."

Score.

She slipped into the proffered shirt, blinking the sleep out of her eyes and wondering, bemused, exactly where most of her own clothes had landed during their wild night of academic exploration.

When she padded into the living room (the kitchenette was attached) on regrettably bare feet, it was to find the one thing Sam had left off his note: His brother was home. The brother she'd yet to meet, who, with short sandy hair, didn't look a damn thing like Sam. And he'd apparently embraced the 'five o'clock somewhere' concept wholeheartedly.

He stared at her, one eyebrow cocked, until she automatically stammered, "I'm sorry," and turned to flee back into the safety of the bedroom. Best to nip any awkward, half-naked morning after talks in the bud.

"Me, too. You may have Sammy fooled, but I know better," he warned, huskily, over the rim of a half-finished beer. "I have asked around town, Veronica, and I know what you are."

The assertion stopped her cold in her tracks.

"Oh, yeah? What am I? Whore? Slut? Bitch? Gold-digger?" she demanded, crossing her arms over her chest, feeling chilled despite the warmth of Sam's severely oversized flannel shirt. "Throw 'em at me, Angus. I've heard it all."

Dean laughed, only it sounded sharp and distinctly lacking in any amusement. "Hell, if you're a slut… more power to you and to my brother. He could use a little fun in that department…and trust me, we ain't got any gold to dig." He shook his head, picking at the label on the beer bottle before putting it down on the coffee table with a thump. "You're an operator, Veronica. You're out for one person… and that's you."

Her breath expelled from her chest in a whoosh and tears sprang to her eyes, even though it, too, was something she'd heard before. And it was something she often believed was true. "Fuck you."

His eyes widened, and she was surprised to see that he looked apologetic, the icy expression on his face fully thawed. "No, wait. You got me all wrong," he protested, running his hands through his hair in a way that echoed Sam so perfectly that it actually stifled the sick, wounded, feeling inside her chest just a little. "Veronica… what I'm saying is… you and me, we're the same kind of people. We are assholes. We're selfish. Fuck you right back, but Sammy's not like us."

"You are right about one thing, Dean. You *are* an asshole."

Veronica looked up to see Sam standing in the hallway, one hand clutching the corner of the towel wrapped around his waist. His hair was still wet from his shower, a few drops of water glistened on his chest.

There was no malice or anger in his tone, just weary amusement, so she took her cue from that. "I am not going to hurt your brother," she told Dean, evenly. "Believe me, between the two of you and whatever it is you're doing here at Hearst… I'm the one who stands to lose."

As she said that, Sam closed the distance between them, all thoughts of holding on to his towel forgotten. He pulled her back against him, saying, "Hey… that is not… no…"

But Dean just met her eyes without flinching as he polished off the last of his beer. His expression was grim, completely realistic. One she'd seen in the mirror a million times over. He was right. They *were* alike. "She's not wrong, Sammy. We're gonna leave. We've got to."

Veronica felt Sam's entire body shudder against her and she wondered just how many places, how many people, they'd had to leave. Did it get easier every time? Harder? Her mom certainly had no problems leaving Neptune without looking back for anything except a handout. But Sam… why had he even come here in the first place? "Urban Legends and Folklore of the American Heartland?" she murmured, quizzically, craning her neck to look up at him.

"It won't finish the term. The grades so far will be rendered invalid," he admitted, swallowing hard and glancing at Dean before looking at her again. "You'll have to take something else to replace the credits."

"Dumbass, that is not what she's asking." For the first time since she'd met him, Dean laughed.

"I know."

They exchanged a look that she couldn't remotely decipher, except to get a definite pleading vibe off the Sam side of it. Suddenly, between the two of them, she felt very, very short. And very, very excluded.

"Sam…"

"*Dean*."

"Veronica!" she volunteered, in case they had forgotten she was still there.

But it was like she hadn't even spoken. The monosyllabic standoff seemed to go on forever. Sam's arm around her waist tightened for an instant and then he let go, whispering, "The shower's open. Why don't you get cleaned up?"

Despite him phrasing it as a question, it wasn't one. And for the first time in years, Veronica followed a direct order without a smart remark. She paused long enough to kiss the closest piece of skin she could reach, which turned out to be the bullet scar on his arm, and then moved down the hall.

It wasn't the worst morning after she'd ever had. Not by a long shot. But Veronica couldn't shake the feeling that an intrinsic bit of innocence had gotten lost somewhere in the last five minutes… and that it most definitely hadn't been hers.

**

They both waited till the water was running full force in the bathroom to speak. Even if Veronica was just turning it on for show so she could eavesdrop --which Sam knew Dean full well suspected.

Dean peeled off half the label from his beer. Each little tearing sound might as well have been a gavel, sounding judgment. He deposited the bits of paper on the coffee table and then sighed. "Sammy, it's going on three weeks now. Did you really think this was gonna work?"

"Dean..." he began, to no avail.

His brother barreled over the interruption and kept going. "Aside from a couple low level ghostly infestations, there is absolutely no sign of demonic activity in Neptune. It's just your regular ol' armpit of a town with a high crime rate. There is no reason for us to be here and you know it."

"Yes. Yes, I know it. Okay, Dean?" The words burst out of him and he clutched his slipping towel to him like a shield, even though it was nothing Dean hadn't seen before. "There is absolutely no reason for us to be here except that it makes me feel *normal*," he spat.

Dean flinched. "I know. That's why it's been three weeks and not three days. That is why I have been out here, chasing my damn tail while you play Saved by the Bell: The College Years. Because I am worried about you, Sam, and this is the first time in months that you have seemed like yourself."

Himself. He didn't even know who that was anymore. Except maybe a role he played sometimes, like so many others.

Sam flattened his palm against his chest, as if he could feel something moving inside him, just beneath the skin. Like the alien, ready to rip its way out and start dancing like a Rockette. "It's in here," he whispered. "It's in me. I'm the danger. You don't think I know that? You don't think I know that Veronica doesn't need to be anywhere near me? I am poison, Dean. I am *wrong* inside, and you're going to have to put a bullet between my eyes and salt and burn me before this is all over."

"The Hell I am." Dean rose from the couch, his voice dangerously quiet, which meant he was well and truly pissed off. He shouted when it was no big thing. When it was bigger, he was like this…looking at Sam like the devil was on their heels and whispering so Old Nick didn't hear them. "You didn't give up on me, so you really think I'm going to give up on you? You ain't gonna die, Sammy. Not for another fifty years and for damn sure not here in that girl's bed."

"Her name is Veronica," he hissed, emphatically.

The correction was dismissed just as emphatically. "And I meant everything I said to her. You're not like us. You're different. You're better. And you either tell her what the fuck is going on with you, or we get the fuck out of here. There is no middle ground. You hear me?"

Sam didn't feel better. Looking at his brother, hearing the shower go off and Veronica rattling around in there on purpose just to make sure they'd hashed everything out. No, he didn't feel better at all.

**

As Veronica tried to make her standard seven minute shower last as long as possible, using the guys' utilitarian bar soap and ducking her head under the spray to get the last of the nondescript shampoo out of her eyes, she thought about how this had all begun with elbow patches. Parker and elbow patches. She hadn't even wanted to take the honors seminar and now here she was in a strange apartment, after having not-so-strange sex with a strange man, trying to drown out the voices from down the hall.

By the time she turned off the water, reaching for one of the clean towels that Sam --it had to be Sam, she just couldn't picture it being his brother-- had folded over the rod, she was seriously considering sneaking down the hall, quickly getting into her clothes, and shimmying down the drain pipe. And, let's face it, she did a mean shimmy.

She'd known even before Dean had spelled it out. Sam was not the kind of guy who stuck around… at least not for a girl like her. It just wasn't in the cards. He wasn't even the kind of guy with a last name, so there were definitely no happily ever afters in their future. But she'd fooled herself into thinking it was okay. Acceptable. A couple of weeks? No big thing. And his dimples… God, they'd be worth it.

She wasn't prepared for how much it would hurt.

For how much any of this would suck beyond the telling of it.

She winced as she made her way down the hall to Sam's room. He and Dean weren't speaking anymore, but it wasn't a good kind of not speaking. It was the kind of not speaking she and her dad had engaged in when he'd been sleeping with that skanky, married client who looked like Laura San Giacomo. She wouldn't wish that on anyone, much less someone who taught her that a bra could turn into a sexual aid.

As much fun as she'd had with his elbow patches, Veronica knew it was time to cut and run. She slipped into the bedroom, closed the door quietly, and leaned back, trying to regulate her suddenly rapid breathing. Contrary to what had been written in the Neptune High bathrooms, she really didn't have a lot of experience in this department. And never before had the morning after included a heated confrontation with an older brother who wandered around with a handgun tucked in the back of his jeans.

She finished drying off, and allowed the white terrycloth towel to slip to the floor before setting off on a quest to find all her clothes. She didn't know whether being dressed would actually make her feel less panicky, but she figured it had to be more empowering than being naked.

The bra, as it turned out, was the easiest thing to find. Sam was a lot of things, and she mentally added "enthusiastically kinky lover" to the top of the list.

By the time she was dressed, she had stepped off the hyperventilation cliff and was breathing like a normal person again. Okay, a relatively normal person. And she was relieved to hear voices from the living room again, loud and amiable, arguing over when exactly was an appropriate time to crack open a beer. It made it easier to go to the window.

She hadn't climbed out a window since her freshman year in high school, when she and Lilly had gotten completely wasted on peppermint Schnapps and she'd decided it would be a brilliant idea to sneak out rather than face Celeste. Even all these years later, the twisted ankle was well worth avoiding the ice bitch. When it came to Sam… well, a few broken bones were still preferable to a bruised heart.

She had just gotten the glass up and one leg over the sill when he came back in to dress.

Damn.

**

Going out the window was a Dean trick, perfected during his year of living dangerously. Sam couldn't even count the number of women he'd run out on --married or otherwise. The fact that it was Veronica's first instinct, too, was a similarity that wasn't lost on him.

He watched her slowly pull back over the sill and slide, sheepishly, to the floor… and he couldn't think of one single reason to tell her not to just go ahead and go.

Dean was right. They'd stayed here way too long, turned a joke guest lecture gig into something that really wasn't funny at all. He could fool himself into thinking they'd really come here to hunt, but they'd come here so he could hide.

"You can use the front door," he murmured, as he rifled through the drawers for jeans and a clean shirt.

"Is that all you're going to say?"

"Yeah. Pretty much."

She flinched. She tried to hide it, but she flinched. And he wondered when he'd become the kind of guy who put that look on a girl's face. When he'd shot Ruby without even thinking about it? Gotten that Crossroads demon right between the eyes? When he'd started killing other demons with no regard for their hosts? Veronica had no idea how much blood there was on his hands. He'd tried to hide it behind tweed jackets and cups of coffee and that "aw, shucks," charm that had almost always gotten him out of any argument with Jess.

Enough was enough.

"So, that's it? Class dismissed, Professor Young?" Veronica tilted her head, her eyes tired and her hand tucked into her purse --around her taser for comfort. He hadn't known her long, but he knew enough. "So long and thanks for all the sex? How much of the past couple of weeks was actually *real*, Sam?"

He didn't have an answer for that. Because he didn't know. Hanging out with her, being with her last night, it had all felt so, *so* real… so normal. But that wasn't his life, was it? All he could do was shrug, saying, "I honestly don't know… and if I did know, I don't know that I could tell you."

"Okay. Thanks for that bit of honesty, at least." She nodded, and then shouldered past him, heading down the hall.

He watched her pause for a second in the short journey and wondered what she was going to say. Or do. Anything from "fuck you" to a short, sharp shock would be applicable. He'd earned it after the night they'd had and the less than thrilling morning after.

But all she did was sigh and look back at him. "Sam?"

"Yeah?" He held his shirt to his chest, as if that could protect him from her expression. He didn't remember if his mother had ever used it, but Jess had at least once: It was pure and utter disappointment mixed with a big old dose of exhaustion.

She closed the distance between them long enough to touch his cheek, the material of his shirt, and the scar where Bela had shot him, and then she backed away. "You might want to burn your tweed jacket," she suggested in a whisper. "It gives people the wrong impression."

"What impression is that?"

Finally she smiled, and it was the same smile he'd seen when she was pinned beneath him wearing only her bra. The smile that was going to chase him clean back to Lawrence and haunt him long afterwards.

"That you're smart enough to know a good thing when you see it."

She was right. He didn't need to be giving people that impression at all.

**

Three days after the brothers Young had cleared out of Neptune, Veronica was fine. Absolutely fine. After all, was she not the mistress of moving forward? If she could shelve Duncan and Logan in the ancient history section of her relationship library, then Sam would be no problem, right? Okay, so two things had helped. First, she'd learned that the guys had left absolutely no trace behind at their apartment complex, trumping up a phony forwarding address for both the rental company and the postal service. Mail fraud... how lovely. Then, Dean had called from the road. Yes, Dean, her biggest fan, not Sam.

"Please tell me you're not drinking," she'd said, immediately, to his terse, "Hey, it's Dean."

"While driving the Impala? You fucking kidding me?"

She'd almost quipped, 'don't you mean the hard bargain?' until she'd remembered that was a joke only Sam would get. Not that he was likely to laugh at it.

Luckily, Sam had been at some local library researching something, while Dean drove around doing something equally cryptic. "I just wanted to tell you my brother's an idiot," he sighed.

"Thanks, but I think I knew that already."

"He should've told you we were secrets agents or something... at least kept things nice and civil."

"No good," she'd snorted. "I would've hacked into the agent files and realized you were lying. Traveling magicians, I would have bought."

Dean had laughed and she'd almost been sorry she hadn't heard it more while he and Sam were in Neptune. It was a nice sound. Not as nice as Sam's laugh, but still infinitely preferable to him glowering at her over a Miller Lite like she was about to steal the family silver.

"Look, Veronica," he'd added after some more awkward small talk, "I'm sorry about the way things went down with Sam… and, that's pretty much all I wanted to say."

"Is *he* sorry?"

"Yeah, though he ain't ever gonna admit it."

"Thanks, Dean."

"No prob'."

No prob'. No problems. There were absolutely no problems.

Hearing that had been enough.

Or at least enough to convince her that it was enough.

So, Veronica was okay. Though she'd literally burned her bra in a gesture of liberation… thanks to her subconscious, which had left it in the dryer long enough to melt the underwires. Fine by her, since she wouldn't have been able to wear it without thinking about getting extra credit from Professor Sam No Last Name.

Especially since, as it turned out, she wouldn't need extra credit at all.

She slouched down in her seat in the lecture hall --fifth row, third seat in, open option to put her feet up-- watching the slightly balding older man down below shuffle through a stack of notes. She'd been surprised to see a sign posted on the door informing the students that Urban Legends and Folklore of the American Heartland was *not* in fact canceled, but would continue with a new guest instructor visiting all the way from Cambridge, England.

And, heck, she was a go-getter, right? Practically a bastion of academic achievement. There was no sense in dropping the course just because she'd had a completely inappropriate fling with the last professor. Like the song said, she would survive... hopefully with an A instead of an Incomplete.

"Hello, class. My name is Rupert Giles," Sam's replacement greeted in a clipped, British accent that sounded like he never left the library. And as the students around her muttered in disappointment, especially that row of simpering girls who she still hoped would choke on their hair and die, Professor Giles smiled.

"You'll be thrilled to know that I'm somewhat of an authority on folklore and demonology," he sighed, taking off wire-rimmed glasses to polish them with his sleeve... and revealing a distinct twinkle in his eye. "In my heyday, I used to tangle with demons quite frequently... and my friends called me Ripper."

Ripper?! Honestly?

She would bet good money that he was more than well acquainted with AC/DC's greatest hits. Maybe he could even hum a few bars.

She glanced at his elbows and bit her lip.

Oh, hell.

--end--

December 14, 2007

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