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[personal profile] ht_murray


Not As We

Step one. I'm barely making sense. For now I'm fakin' it. 'Til I'm sure of makin' it. From scratch, begin again. But this time I as I and not as we.-- "Not as We" by Alanis Morisette.

-

It's in God's hands now. Literally. Dean has his orders and as much proof as he'll ever need that he's got no choice but to follow them. In a way, he gets it. He gets what that means. In God's hands. He used to wonder what it was about those words that made people say them with that universal look of dreamy-eyed wonder. Now he knows. It is like dreaming. Just not in the way he would have thought.

-

Thirty years dreaming of what he'll do to Alistair when he gets the chance, but when Alistair sets him free, there's just freeeee. He doesn't realize how much he's been bearing until he's not anymore.

It hits him like a seizure. His eyes roll back in his head, and at the apex, right before the darkness, there's Alistair, looking down at him and smiling. "Tha'sss mah boyyy." And Dean is. His boy. If it feels like this, then yessss. Anything.


-

Things between him and Sam have smoothed out considerably since Dean stopped "whining" about Hell. Since he buckled in for the long haul and stopped lamenting his Fate, they're almost brothers again. Almost.

"You can take first shower. I'm kinda ripe. Don't want to use up all the hot water on you."

Dean ignores the way Sam's cheek jumps at the end, eyebrows quirking up. "Sure, Sam. Thanks." It's awfully nice of him to offer, after all. No point saying Dean saw the car coast by their room with the lights off right before Sam got all gracious and 'ripe,' or that he's noticed Sam texting someone with his phone tucked inconspicuously inside that book. He should be angry, desperate, afraid, friggin' righteous but all that's locked behind a door along with everything else he's not supposed to feel. He's not strong enough to open the door partway and then push it closed again. Fate is fate, and there's no escaping his.

When he finishes his shower and comes out again, Sam's sitting on the bed, feet kicked up like he's been there the whole time, but the keys have moved from the table to the nightstand, and the remote's on the other side of the room. Dean finds it hard to believe Sam's actually enthralled with the Nora Roberts movie marathon.

"Next time bring back pizza." He rubs the towel through his hair one last time before tossing it on the bed. "And coffee."


Sam looks ready to argue for a second, then grins. "Sure thing." When he gets ready for his shower, the grin lingers, and he keeps looking up at Dean from under his bangs as he pulls off his socks. It's a genuine smile by the time he stands in the bathroom doorway and tosses Dean's dirty t-shirt out. They both laugh when it lands on Dean's head.

"Bitch."

"Jerk."

The thing about slippery slopes? The sliding's easy.

-

He wakes choking on a scream. Choking so hard his chest burns, eyes water. His hands shake, rustling the covers as he throws them off, but they're soaked through with sweat and don't make a sound. His legs barely hold him. He's never felt so weak, but he doesn't scream. He doesn't cry. He doesn't whine. He doesn't even wake Sam in the bed closer to the door.

-

Dean's not surprised to find Castiel standing between himself and a sleeping Sam when he comes out of the bathroom, heart pounding in his chest.

"You're awake."

Dean shrugs. "Sorry to cramp your style. What can I say? The Apocalypse waits for no man." He leaves off the part about how it was waiting until he came along and gave it a kick start. He's pretty sure that's exactly the kind of thing he's not supposed to say. Funny. The one thing no one's interested in hearing is the truth.

His grin feels wry. Hard to tell with everything else numb or throbbing in counterpoint.

"My superiors are pleased. Your new attitude... It's productive."

"You know me, Cas. Regular team player." The mock punch to the air, little tilt of his head, and Elvis lip quirk don't feel fake at all. "Finally got my ducks in a row."

"That is good to hear."

"Yeah. Anything I can do to help." Y'know, since he has no choice. He gets it. Things are going downhill fast. The only way to head them off is to get to the bottom first.

-

Barely five a.m and he's been awake for three hours already when he asks for directions to the nearest coffee shop. He doesn't order the latte, even though it's still the freshest and most familiar craving. Instead it's, "How many shots of espresso can you legally put in there?" And then, "Give me that. Three of 'em. Biggest you got." He drinks two himself. The other one's for Sam.

"Whoa! That's potent." The way Sam's eyes fly open, forehead raising like his hair's trying to leave of its own accord is probably hilarious. So, Dean smiles, lopsided with a tilt to his head.

"Gotta put some hair on that pretty boy chest of yours."

"Well, that oughta do it." Sam shakes off the first rush and sets the cup on the nightstand. He studies Dean for a second or two as he pulls a t-shirt out of his bag. "Wow. Look at you. Up before dawn with the super-charged coffee. You didn't stay up all night doing research again, did you?"

"We all do our part."

"I'll drive. You can catch a nap."

"Sure. Thanks."

"Wouldn't wanna fall asleep in the middle of a stakeout."

"Right." He really wouldn't.

Not that he ever has. But what does he know? He's not the man he used to be. Boo-friggin'-hoo.

-

"Tha'sss mah boyyy."

There's no affection, but there is something familiar in the touch when Alistair lifts him off his knees. Something comforting in the hand that tilts his chin up. "Don' look so glum. Y'er gonna be a sssuperstar. I believe in yyouu, Dean Winchessster." Something kindred in the passing of the razor. "Leht's see whatcha got in ya. C'mon boy. Leht it awll out."

He does. Thirty years worth times two, almost. Not all the tears shed are his victim's, but no one ever tells him to stop. "Leht it awll out."


-

His stomach churns, everything folding into a sucking hole in his gut. There's nothing in his bag to fill it. All that went down the drain.

"I got you lunch." Sam's voice is welcome relief from whatever noise that is coming out of the radio. Sam's idea. A compromise between iPod and ancient history. Satellite radio. Of course Dean agreed. Gotta pick his fights, and there's only one that matters. "Bacon cheeseburger and onion rings." He tosses the greasy bag into Dean's lap with a knowing smirk.

He doesn't know Dean was looking forward to Mexican. Chicken burrito with extra cilantro and guacamole...

"Mmm, God," he says around a bite. "This is perfect." Even with his eyes closed in mock-bliss he's hyper aware of the grease dripping off his chin. He did always used to say...

"If your sleeves don't get soggy, then it's not real beef," Sam chuckles. "Dude, that's gross. Here." A wadded up napkin bounces off the side of Dean's head.

He makes a show of chewing with his mouth half open while he unfolds the napkin and tucks it in the front of his t-shirt like a bib. "Hows that?" He goes so far as to stick his pinky finger out when he reaches for an onion ring.

"Perfect. Except for one thing."

Dean pushes the mouthful into one cheek. "What's that?"

"I'm afraid of clowns."

It would be funny, but Dean knows better. That doesn't stop him from shaking his head and smirking. "Clowns kill."

And so does Sam.

-

Sam finishes the next three hunts without him. Not because Dean isn't there. He is, but Sam always manages to forget to give the signal for Dean to make his move or land himself in situations where he can't wait for backup. Dean's always a day late and a dollar short.

Not that Sam needs him.

This time, Sam comes back with a little bit of red crusted around one nostril and bloodshot eyes to boot. "Wow," he shrugs. "You were right. It was a whole nest."

"Was?"

"Yeah. You want pizza?"

"Sure. No onions, though. You reek enough already."

"Whiner."

"Dick."

-

They curse him until they beg, beg until they babble. And then, when he lets them down, they fall at his feet, cling like a child at the apron of its mother.

-

He wakes up, shaking like a junkie.

There has to be something stronger than caffeine.

-

Castiel catches on first.

"Dean, you need to sleep."

"Is that an order? From your superiors?"

"No. It's a request. From... a friend."

"You have your orders. I have mine."

"And yours are?"

"To buck up and stop whining. Embrace my fate."

"I don't know if this is the way."

"Do you know the way?"

"I do not." Castiel meets his eyes.

"Then I guess it's my call. Y'know, until one of your superiors pops in and tells me I don't have one."

-

Sam's not far behind. Though, there was a time he'd have figured it out before Dean.

"The dreams are pretty bad, huh?" He says it around a beer without really looking past the end of the bottle. Takes a swallow like he's washing something bitter out of his mouth.

"Maybe a little... intense."

"You handling it?"

"You bet."

"Good." Sam's gazing down the highway like he can't wait to get on the road. "Good, because I'm starting to think you're afraid to go to sleep." It's obvious from the clench of his jaw he's worried... just not about Dean.

It's the first genuine laugh Dean's had in ages. They end this roadside confessional like they always do, in tears, but this time there's no boo-hoo involved. Afraid to sleep. That's hilarious.

To prove it, Dean pretends not to know Sam slipped something into his burger. He eats the whole thing without complaint and doesn't argue when Sam wants to drive.

He's not afraid to sleep at all.

-

There's an art to it, crude, like sculpting ice with a chainsaw. They start out so different, every one twisted and scarred. Every unsavory thing they did in life's a wrinkle or a tumor, a canker waiting to be lanced, and Dean makes them smooth, cleans them down to the bone until they're just eyes and he's the only thing they see. Dean carves it all away, strips the clotted poison from their veins.

It smells like sulfur but feels like redemption.

For a second, he's the most important thing in the universe. The eyes are his eyes. They know each other like brothers, only better.


-

It's waking up he's afraid of.

In Hell, he wasn't alone. And sometimes, he even got to win.


The End

A/N: I dunno. I'm not sure that even made sense, but I'm tired of trying to make it make sense. That episode actually left me feeling worse than before it began. This is what happens. Not necessarily what I think will happen, though. Anyone interested in what my feelings are on the direction of the show and isn't a spoilerphobe can check out my meta . (Heavy on spoilers.)
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Date: 2009-04-02 09:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] i-o-r-h-a-e-l.livejournal.com
*wipes tears*

You have no idea how much my heart clenches and clenches and tightens. In the past Dean used to act so cocky because he wanted to hide everything. Then he whined a lot and everybody felt uneasy. And now he hides everything up again just because. When will he finally break until beyond repair?

*sobs*

Date: 2009-04-02 09:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Yay! And here I was thinking it made no sense at all. Thank you for reading, love. *pets you*

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From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com - Date: 2009-04-02 12:14 pm (UTC) - Expand

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Date: 2009-04-02 09:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spacemonkey-699.livejournal.com
Oh hon, this was so wonderfully good. Thank you for writing it! Show has become so depressing, hasn't it? I love depressing. *hugs*

Date: 2009-04-02 09:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Well,I do NOT like depressing, but when in Rome, ya do as the Romans do, I guess. Glad you liked it. *glomps*

Homer Simpson is inappropriately gleeful. I want to be him. LOL.

Date: 2009-04-02 09:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raloria.livejournal.com
Wow. Very powerful and intense. I really like your writing style, too. I don't know how to describe it, but I like it. :)

I can see Dean possibly going in this direction. Complying to make everyone around him think he's back on the job and okay, but really not.

Date: 2009-04-02 09:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Thank you. I'm glad you liked it.

They don't give him much choice, do they?

*pets him*

Date: 2009-04-02 10:40 am (UTC)
ext_7850: by ev_vy (Kneeling Dean)
From: [identity profile] giandujakiss.livejournal.com
This was just heartbreaking and chilling. Wonderful take on the ep.

Date: 2009-04-02 12:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Thank you so much.

that was amazing....

Date: 2009-04-02 10:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] catdancerz.livejournal.com
so utterly hopeless...dean doing his damndest to soldier on...without any sense there's a future he'll ever want...or even be allowed to choose...

Re: that was amazing....

Date: 2009-04-02 12:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
It is rather hopeless, isn't it? So many, many ways for things to get much worse. Makes me sad. *sniff* Thank you so much.

Date: 2009-04-02 11:12 am (UTC)
ext_9352: (we cannot know these things dean)
From: [identity profile] charlie-d-blue.livejournal.com
This was phenomenal. It just cut right to the core of things, and left me heartbroken. Great job.

Date: 2009-04-02 12:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Thank you. I didn't want to skirt the issues too much. Seems like they're intent on doing that already. Poor boys. Thanks for reading.

Date: 2009-04-02 12:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erda-3.livejournal.com
Wonderful coda! This is so in character for Dean.

Date: 2009-04-02 12:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Thank you so much. He's breaking my heart, that boy.

Date: 2009-04-02 12:48 pm (UTC)
ext_182002: (Eye)
From: [identity profile] kestrellan.livejournal.com
Oh, thank you for writing this. Made me kinda realise how I've been feeling about Dean's situation lately. And thank you for putting 'whining' in inverted commas - I hate that he's always being referred to as 'whining'.

Makes me think of how a couple of years ago, I'd go swimming each week with a friend, and it would kind of be our time to vent about things that have happened in our lives in the past week. One time, we were discussing how we probably shouldn't whine so much, but we ended up coming to the conclusion that we were not 'whining', we were 'venting'. We vented because it was necessary and made us feel better afterwards - we needed to share these things with someone. It was a healing process, I suppose. Whining, to me, is when you complain about really trivial things just to get attention. This is clearly not what Dean's doing. He has these incredibly weighty issues he has to deal with, and to tell him to stop 'whining' about it is so....so heartless. He needs to heal. What he doesn't need is to bottle him up, because like you pretty much say here, eventually he's just gonna break :(

Date: 2009-04-02 12:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Thank you so much. I cringe every time I hear that comment. I don't know if it's supposed to rile him up or what, but it certainly can't be helping anything. Seems to me like it'd do just the opposite. *pets Dean*

I'm glad you liked it.

Zackariah

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2009-04-02 07:15 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2009-04-02 12:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rivkat.livejournal.com
Yeah, this is what I'm afraid of for Dean. Sam's taking care of him, but that's not what Dean needs. No wonder he dreams of Hell.

Date: 2009-04-02 12:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
No wonder he dreams of Hell.

Thank you. You're the first one to hit the nail directly on the head. (Though I'm sure the rest got it and just didn't say it. LOL.)

I'm afraid of this, too. :(

Date: 2009-04-02 01:03 pm (UTC)
ext_108516: (Default)
From: [identity profile] tekmessa.livejournal.com
Heartbreaking and a perfect coda. The thing is I can totally see that happen. Everyone telling Dean to "quit whining" won't make his memories go away and Dean will only suffer in silence, so that everyone else is happy. Poor, broken Dean.

Date: 2009-04-02 01:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Exactly. If that worked we could all be licensed therapists, just sit everybody down and tell 'em to get over it.

Thank you so much.

Date: 2009-04-02 01:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tigriswolf.livejournal.com
I like this. It just seems real.

Date: 2009-04-02 01:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Thank you. I tried. LOL.

Date: 2009-04-02 01:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] queeberquabbler.livejournal.com
God that was PERFECT. I'm so fucking sick of everyone telling Dean to quit whining and be a man. First Sam, now the angels. The guy went to Hell, and everyone wants him to be the same guy he always was, just like that? Arrgh, I'd like to punch them. Anyway. Great job. I'm recommending this on two sites I post at :)

Date: 2009-04-02 01:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Thanks so much. I don't get how people think he gets over his issues by pointing out his inability to deal with his issues. Poor baby.

And can I ask which sites you're reccing at? Because for some reason this stupid lj pingback thing only works when i link in my own journal to my own posts. *kicks LJ bot*

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Date: 2009-04-02 02:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] suzmc.livejournal.com
Baby doll, this was one of the most valid interpretations of Dean's "next step" I've seen. He's moved into firmly swallowing his fear. Not going to show Sam his weakness. I loved the "get to the bottom first" line.

Amazing. Love it.

Date: 2009-04-02 02:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Thanks so much. I guess I shouldn't have worried so much about whether it makes sense. Everything about Dean's pretty splintered at this point. Thank you.

Date: 2009-04-02 02:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ginzai.livejournal.com
You know, I think this is at once the most heartbreaking and depressing coda I've read for 4x17. And it's also the most truthful. Dean's so angry about being told to stop "whining" but he's not even allowing himself to feel it and the juxtaposition between Heaven/Sam telling him to buck up and Alistair coaxing him to "let it all out"? Brilliant. I had the same sorts of feeling following last week's episode and this is like seeing everything I felt written out (superbly) in fic form.

Date: 2009-04-08 07:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
It is depressing. Every time I think about the last few episodes and Dean's predicament, my heart just aches. I'm not really sure what he's supposed to do with all that, but I don't see the 'grin and bear it' method working at all.

Thanks so much for reading.

Date: 2009-04-02 02:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tahirire.livejournal.com
Wow. This is a serious gutpunch, geez. It matches the tone of where Dean is right now perfectly.

I love reading codas that don't try to 'fix it'. It's NOT fixed and it's not going to be fixed until the very last possible second. Otherwise, it wouldn't be a good story, y/y?

This line - Things are going downhill fast. The only way to head them off is to get to the bottom first. Omg. Chills.

Awesome, thanks for sharing it. *points to icon*

Date: 2009-04-08 07:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Thank you so much. I actually have a strong dislike for episode codas, because they're almost always Jossed anyway. The loose ends are loose for a reason, ya know?

I'm so glad you liked this and felt it worked.

Date: 2009-04-02 02:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] almightyspaz.livejournal.com
Okay, wow. That was just I'm not entirely sure what to put here. Just awesome.

Date: 2009-04-08 07:41 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-04-02 02:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tricky-slip.livejournal.com
My God... This was brutal.
Your Dean was so spot on, it's insane. I really hope this isn't how things go down in the show, but I can see it actually happening. It was all so well thought out.
I especially loved all the bits from Dean's time in Hell.
It smells like sulfur but feels like redemption.
That gave me chills.

Well done.
♥♥♥

Date: 2009-04-08 07:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Wow, thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It was supposed to be brutal. I sometimes feel like people aren't "getting" what's going on with Dean, and that makes me almost as sad as him being in that state. I'm glad this worked for you.

Date: 2009-04-02 03:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] apieceofcake.livejournal.com
OUCH!!! Suck it up Dean and quit whining! You can see this happening..he did before and he'll do it again now because it's expected of him.

I don't know which pisses me off more..the suck it up, or the quit whining!

Very nicely done..breaks my heart.

Date: 2009-04-08 07:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
I know exactly what you mean. The worst part about isn't just that no one seems to understand what Dean's going through but that I don't think anyone can understand. No one but those souls he tortured in Hell even have a clue. Yikes.

Thank you so much, Jo!

Date: 2009-04-02 03:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nightporters.livejournal.com
The programme will trivialise how broken he is. Thank you for not.

Date: 2009-04-08 07:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Thank you. I hope the show will eventually rectify things, but I'm not sure they will be able, and like you said, they'll probably just gloss over it in the end. *pets Dean*

Date: 2009-04-02 03:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grand-sophy.livejournal.com
If Show has the courage to brutally break the most awesome character they have, fanfic needs to have the courage to show that brokeness. Which you've done, superbly. Thanks.

Date: 2009-04-08 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Thank you so much. I hope Show will at least attempt to fix things. Dean deserves that. Again, thank you!

Date: 2009-04-02 03:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rebekahfair.livejournal.com
No, no. This made sense. This is... this is definitely something that could happen. Dean giving in, saying, "Okay, I'm not going to bitch and whine about hell, and I'm just going to do my job." The angels are happy, Sam is happy, but it's killing Dean. And I love how they're almost brothers again. Of the surface, they are, but they're still fucked up and at odds on the inside.

I loved this. Great job, honey.

Date: 2009-04-08 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Thank you! I don't really see how just telling him to get over his devastation is an effective way of dealing with it. If so, we'd have no need for mental hospitals, and therapists would be broke. I'm glad you liked it.

Date: 2009-04-02 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cofax7.livejournal.com
In Hell, he wasn't alone. And sometimes, he even got to win.

Oh, that's just awesome. Bitter and sharp.

Date: 2009-04-08 07:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Thank you. That's what I was going for. Thanks!

Date: 2009-04-02 04:34 pm (UTC)
ext_33390: (dean//dying stand of a broken man)
From: [identity profile] darkmerrick.livejournal.com
*points to very first comment* THIS.

It makes perfect sense, luv. And it's so sad. :/

Date: 2009-04-08 07:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tru-faith-lost.livejournal.com
Well, how could it not be sad? I usually like my fic fluffier, but I feel like there's such a push to gloss over things with regards to Dean right now. I had to let him speak his mind, even if no one will probably listen. Thank you!

Date: 2009-04-02 05:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mara-snh.livejournal.com
So glad tyo have discovered this, and you! Terrific story. You've got Dean's damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don't dilemma nailed. I loved the lines The thing about slippery slopes? The sliding's easy. and Things are going downhill fast. The only way to head them off is to get to the bottom first. You've got a real Kripke vibe going. I like it.
Edited Date: 2009-04-02 05:17 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-04-02 05:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emeriin.livejournal.com
THANK YOU! This highlighted the complete and utter insanity of that stupid pep-talk and some parts of the fandom. He was in hell! If that's not bad enough, he's responsible for the bloody apocalypse, John is still making him feel worthless long after he's dead (I am in awe of that man's talent), his brother is being an ungrateful little brat, he had to torture the demon that tormented him for thirty years and I don't even want to go into what he suffered pre-hell. I think anyone would be entitled to a good cry.

*Ahem* I think I might have some issues. I really did love this. :)
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