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21 March 2007 @ 10:18 am
Supernatural Gen Fiction: In Parallel, Unrevealed  
Title: In Parallel, Unrevealed
Author: HalfshellVenus
Characters: Dean, John, Sam (Gen)
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Up through mid-Season 2.
Summary: Lives upon lives pass by, sensed, gone, and renewed.
Author's Notes: Written for spn_outsidepov, where I chose the POV of Dean's amulet. I started this months ago for a 60_minute_fics prompt of "Inanimate POV," but couldn't make it go anywhere in its original context. Changing the approach finally did the job.

x-x-x-x-x

It lives close to skin—close to sin. Gathering warmth from the flesh that glows behind it, it witnesses all that come and go, every danger and dalliance that haunts its owner’s life.

It comes off for showers, but little else. It is a part of everything, of every meeting of flesh, every moment of passion, every battle of blood or brutality or betrayal.

It is both ward and warden, prevention and protector. And the things it has sensed are as terrible as what it prevents.

Born in forge-fire, it was stretched and spun in turns until its shape alone gave power. It hummed from within as immersion became cooling became air.

It was reborn with the words—the sounds spoken over it granted it strength beyond its form. Then it waited—displayed, hidden, moved, revealed… Finally, the talisman was owned.

That first flesh was dark as earth and smoky with the scents of fire and incense and burning herbs. Beings were brought forth by The First, beings whose power filled the room with conflicting energy.

One of those beings took the essence from The First. The force that simmered under the surface of the skin that touched the talisman ebbed away.

The talisman still held its own magic, but The First had summoned something much too powerful to defeat. The being left in turn, and the talisman gleamed quietly against the stillness of silent skin.

It was found and moved again— not worn, but carried with noncommittal caution. It journeyed to a hot, dry world where the sounds changed once again. Traded and touched, it came to rest under cloth that was tinged with sweat and spice.

Rarely brushed by the sun, it remained hidden in its fabric prison. No answering power came from the wearer, and a single pair of threats challenged its purpose. One was the rough taint of a hex from an unknown source. The other was the metal-crush spinning blacktop blood-crash that claimed The Second.

Wet. Sticky. Tarnished with grime and gore. The talisman traveled with the empty wearer one time further, and was taken in the darkness by unseen hands.

Cleaned. Polished. Presented. Exchanged. Hidden away in a soft cocoon of cloth, it was moved so very far away and left forgotten.

An eternity passed, as it drifted in the muffled seclusion of secrecy. One day, it came out to the open air— to be stroked and scrutinized in a musty room. Sounds formed and then it was bespoken— tingling again with a renewal of its original power.

The talisman floated weightlessly until it slipped up against The Third. Nestled against the warmth of living skin, it went out into the world once more.

There was no magic in this Third one either— there were forces, but that was all. The Third was fiercely determined, undaunted by danger, and pulled by the quiet strength of sorrow. There were pleasures— all the transient temptations in turn— but above all there was intent.

The Third did not summon the dark beings. Sought them and destroyed them, yes— but was never the cause of their existence.

There was another much like The Third. That presence slipped in and out of orbit, more often in. The talisman could hear the rattle of The Other's breathing in the night, over the hitch-smooth rhythm of The Third. The nights were long.

The days were sometimes nights, were even longer— every atom of energy inside the talisman was focused on protecting The Third.

Protection is not absolute when the challenge is excessive. Uninvaded from within is one form of protection. Survival is another.

The talisman deflected death again and again those long years. It could not prevent loneliness or injury. After a time The Other went away, and the energy of The Third dimmed down.

Another joined them.

This new energy was slow and heavy, sometimes absent though its owner had not yet left. This Other lifted and broke the pattern of The Third in a jumble that defied description. There were moments of bright excitement vibrating in a flutter. There were periods of despair that slowed everything to the dull, listless throb of those nights at rest.

The talisman's time with The Third was the longest of all the wearers. There were changes swift and subtle in the patterns of their partnership.

A glow can be sensed if not seen— there were times of radiance with the new Other. There were level points and lows as well. Above all, there were failures.

A fierce, fizzing jolt was the first. The wearer vanished, wavered… and returned. That was not the talisman's doing. The wearer was weak and faded under the warmth of that shell. Another entity re-powered its presence.

The second time the enemy sidestepped the talisman's abilities— smothering and liquefying The Third from underneath it. The wearer hung by a thread.

The third time felt much like the end of The Second. The talisman could not guard against the corporeal… it could not guard the wearer when it was removed.

Bound in plastic, bagged and binned it waited while The Third went unprotected. Drifting unclaimed, it went dormant in the dark. Time passed before an unknown touch brought it back.

Careful hands placed it in position.

The flesh was chilly underneath it— colder than the frigid aftermath of water. The force was distant, almost silent.

The talisman could not heal that. It had no part in the magic that brought that essence back.

Strength returned quickly to the being underneath it, but the spirit was different. There was white-hot devastation, and then everything went dull.

That was new.

Never before had it felt warm skin over a silent spirit. The Third could not be dead, but neither did it thrum with the energy of life.

Sensations came in bursts and floods, erratic surges hot as birth-fire, depths of monotony as cool as the grave. Time heals all things toward the center.

The center is not yet found.

There are stages of equilibrium, of focused purpose, of fleeting joy. All of these are outside its influence, but its special power is demanded more and more as the months go on.

It has its challenges once more— to lessen the threat of all the evils The Third seeks out again.

The second Other remains, though that doesn’t affect the talisman-- it has no capacity to protect beyond its wearer.

But the Evil they find has gotten darker over time.

And something in the presence of The Other… has changed.



-------- fin --------




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angels3angels3 on March 21st, 2007 11:20 am (UTC)
Both
They were both forged by fire the third and the protection, as well as life events and uses. This was an amazing peice of work. I really liked it very unique.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on March 21st, 2007 11:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Both
They were both forged by fire the third and the protection, as well as life events and uses.
Interesting perspective, and so true! I hadn't though of it that way, but this is true of Dean as well-- unwilling fire, but oh how it changed him.

Glad you liked the story-- it won't appeal to everyone, unfortunately, and writing from an inanimate POV is hard. Whew.
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on March 21st, 2007 11:50 pm (UTC)
*goes to get TV merchandise Dean!amulet and puts it on*
:D Can you really get one? Or must you make it out of wood-carvings or clay?

Very unique. A little confusing because of the lack of names but very, very cool.
Thank you very much! I did go back and tweak it a bit to see if I could find a proper noun to identify the speaker from time-to-time. That was honestly one of the hardest challenges with the story-- keeping it coherent when the speaker is an "it."
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on March 22nd, 2007 12:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
cindy: spn - dean looks away (by oxoniensis)tsuki_no_bara on March 21st, 2007 07:02 pm (UTC)
i really like how you describe the amulet's history before it gets to dean, and how the amulet senses sam's presence and absence, and what its perception is of the things that happen to dean and how he deals with them. the last line is kind of foreboding but also really interesting.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on March 21st, 2007 11:57 pm (UTC)
i really like how you describe the amulet's history before it gets to dean
When I first tried to write this for 60_minute_fics, it was aimed at being a Wincest piece and never made it past the first few paragraphs.

In reapproaching it for this challenge, a completely different story wanted to be told. Dean seems to have gotten the amulet while Sam was away at college, and I wondered, How did it come to be? Is it older than we might think?

and what its perception is of the things that happen to dean and how he deals with them.
This is a real challenge of an inanimate POV-- deciding what it can experience and how that will be shown. The only other one I've written was the Scarecrow POV for a drabble-- I still really like that one. Here, you can see the arc of Dean's life from canon thus far, but it feels slightly different when perceived by something that doesn't quite know what any of that means.

the last line is kind of foreboding but also really interesting.
The amulet can't judge whether the change is good or bad yet, which leaves open many possibilities. It does sense that the brothers have been pursuing darker things more relentlessly-- whatever that might happen to me.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting on this one-- it's not an easy job for the reader OR the writer here. :)
Princess Robot Bubblegum!astrothsknot on March 21st, 2007 10:41 pm (UTC)
I love the ethereal quality you've brought here.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on March 22nd, 2007 12:03 am (UTC)
Thank you!

The POV of a "thing" is kind of otherworldly, I think-- if it perceives, it has no "why" to go along with what it sense. They're like detached sensations, where only the reader knows the meaning but the narrator does not.
Kronette: SPN-Dean empty inside no textkronette on March 21st, 2007 11:45 pm (UTC)
The First sounds very much like the First on Buffy - the one who spoke through Tara in Buffy's dream. It feels beginning-of-man old, just past stone age, though the level of craftsmanship says it's not quite that old.

The Second feels like upper Africa two millennia ago. Or, the flashbacks for Methos in Highlander, which were five thousand years ago.

Never before had it felt warm skin over a silent spirit. The Third could not be dead, but neither did it thrum with the energy of life. *flail* *wail* Chilled skin, distance force, fits perfectly from what we saw of Dean in IMTOD.

The last, the change in The Other - Born Under a Bad Sign?

I *flail* at your writing *g*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on March 22nd, 2007 12:16 am (UTC)
I did think of that First, because of the terminology and the description. This one was meant to be more voodoo-tinged and not quite so old. I don't think that amulet was made for Dean, but I don't think it's terribly old either.

*flail* *wail* Chilled skin, distance force, fits perfectly from what we saw of Dean in IMTOD.
Yes! That's exactly what that scene is, once the amulet is placed back on him. You know how it is in hospitals-- they strip you of your belongings and lock them up at first. When the amulet comes back, Dean isn't entirely there.

The last part could easily be "Born Under a Bad Sign," but I was thinking of something more open-- a change in Sam that even he isn't aware of (or simply a magnifying of his psychic powers-- untrained receivers often also emit, at least in fiction).

Thanks so much for your wonderful and thoughtful comments, Kronette! ♥
(no subject) - kronette on March 23rd, 2007 03:27 am (UTC) (Expand)
subtly_moddedsubtly_modded on March 22nd, 2007 12:41 am (UTC)
really interesting viewpoint to take, and well written (if you ask me).

very keen!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on March 22nd, 2007 12:47 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!

I do ask you, and all the readers-- especially when I pick out an assignment as hard to write as this one. :)

Inanimate POV-- it's like typing with boxing gloves on. :0
Becky: SPN Heroewanspotter on March 22nd, 2007 07:00 am (UTC)
That last line... damn.... Excellent job.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on March 22nd, 2007 06:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much, Becky! :)
tyricaltyrical on March 22nd, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC)
I had to re-read this to really understand what was going on.
When it clicked for me I re-read it again as I understood its past, present, and its waiting future. I liked how the talisman's clear view of its understanding shows the starkness of the family's life. How the talisman speaks to the muddiness of time and the how the pursuit is always never ending.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on March 26th, 2007 07:25 pm (UTC)
I had to re-read this to really understand what was going on.
I'm sorry for that-- I tried to make it as clear as I could without overinvesting knowledge in the amulet of what goes on around it. Inanimate POV is tricky!

When it clicked for me I re-read it again as I understood its past, present, and its waiting future. I liked how the talisman's clear view of its understanding shows the starkness of the family's life. How the talisman speaks to the muddiness of time and the how the pursuit is always never ending.
Those were the most interesting parts to me-- its own past, which it doesn't comprehend; the events in Dean's life that the reader understands but it doesn't; and the way in which everything is an isolated event that flows forward in time. It's all "past" and "now," and the amulet doesn't have any real ability to predict. What is, just is.

This is one of the things I like most about fanfiction-- because the background is so well-established, it's easy to create a duality of what the POV character knows and what the reader knows (which exceeds that POV).

Thanks so much for reading, as always!
I'm for wine and the embrace of questionable womenmissyjack on March 24th, 2007 01:33 am (UTC)
*is wearing amulet as I read*

really powerful piece. I love the mythology you've built around it, and how it ties in with the shows mytharc and the unique insight it gives us into Dean and Sam.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on March 26th, 2007 07:19 pm (UTC)
You do have that amulet, don't you? I'd never seen it up close until the person in the comments above gave me the link. It looks like an old and primitive magic, doesn't it?

really powerful piece. I love the mythology you've built around it, and how it ties in with the shows mytharc and the unique insight it gives us into Dean and Sam.
Can you believe that this was intended as Wincest when I started it months ago and didn't make it past the beginning? Totally new approch now-- I think because as S2 developed, there was a lot more shift and detail in what the amulet might have witnessed.

And the backstory on it kind of cemented the different take. All these different wearers, different pasts, sharp emotions and danger and yet it has no context for any of it. It just reports-- the reader gleans the meaning from what it sees.

Glad you liked it! It was for your challenge, after all, and what an intriguing comm for challenges it is. :)


(no subject) - missyjack on March 27th, 2007 12:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
getting the chocolate in the peanut butter: dean thinkingdotfic on March 24th, 2007 02:33 am (UTC)
Lovely. I did read it twice, but I think this is the kind of piece that you just see more every time you read it. Following the amulet's history, and then John going away, Sam arriving, and then Dean's half-death. The way the amulet senses something different about Dean now. Shivery.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on March 26th, 2007 07:29 pm (UTC)
What's wonderful is that the readers see every part of the details in Dean's later life, just as you did, but the Amulet has no idea what any of it means. There is the Wearer, and there is everybody else. Those might be several different somebodies, but it can't tell as much about them because it's not touching them.

I did read it twice, but I think this is the kind of piece that you just see more every time you read it.
That's wonderful to hear-- because this is probably the biggest challenge I've ever created for readers, and it would be nice to think that it was worth it!

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Dot. ♥
belleimani on March 27th, 2007 12:06 am (UTC)
This is truly inventive and clever.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on March 27th, 2007 06:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you, belleimani! It was definitely a challenge to write this POV, let me tell you. But it sure gives an interesting "outside" POV because the amulet is right there through everything, but it doesn't really understand what any of it means.
(no subject) - belleimani on March 28th, 2007 02:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
vanillafluffy: Winchester boyzvanillafluffy on March 27th, 2007 01:18 am (UTC)
Wow! Thanks for sharing this. It's...chewy. (In a good way!) The end quivers with unresolved tension, and in light of what's going on in canon, I think that's the best of all possible resolutions. (I agree, writing from non-human PoV is very tough.)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on March 27th, 2007 06:58 pm (UTC)
It's...chewy. (In a good way!)
:D I know what you mean, though. There's a lot to think about there, and some interesting parallels of what the reader knows happens that are reflected back so different in the amulet's perception.

The end quivers with unresolved tension, and in light of what's going on in canon, I think that's the best of all possible resolutions.
It seemed that way to me too. Something IS changing, but whether toward good or bad or in between, even we don't know! All we can do is angst over the possibilities.

Thanks so much for reading this and commenting-- really not your typical "outsider" POV for many reasons, so I'm glad you still liked it. :)
girlguidejonesgirlguidejones on March 28th, 2007 11:30 pm (UTC)
I am truly fascinated by the amulet's POV. Really, really well done.

And, because you mentioned it in your notes, I'm curious as to your original approach and how it changed (you mentioned that it didn't initially work).
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on March 29th, 2007 08:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! Especially since this one is SO different not only from my usual, but from what most of us write and read... hard to know how much appeal it has.

Funny, I just assumed this was a comment to the Wincest porn I wrote yesterday, so what a lovely surprise!

And, because you mentioned it in your notes, I'm curious as to your original approach and how it changed (you mentioned that it didn't initially work).
It started as a Wincest piece, but there wasn't enough "meat" to work with in the initial approach and I abandoned it after 3 paragraphs when it just wouldn't go. It was uninspired.

In that first attempt "sight" was the main approach, and I decided when I re-tackled it that 'seeing' should instead be an almost non-existent quality for it. That makes a huge difference in how an inanimate POV goes, and what you can convey.

I confined the "sensing" to mainly touch and 'hearing' (which is vibrations, really), with a little emotional tangibility (because the amulet has some magical aspect to it).

That, combined with the question of how the amulet came to be, brought forth a chance to contrast Dean with other wearers, and to show some of the other things the amulet has sensed over time. It gave more 'perspective' for the reader to interpret the story, I think, because the amulet doesn't understand much of what it experiences. More context makes it easier for the reader to distinguish its different perceptions.

I'm probably hopelessly rambling now! The only other inanimate POV I've written was The Scarecrow in this drabble, and even on a small scale, you can see that the Scarecrow is limited to touch and sound as its 'senses', and how it processes those is heavily influenced by the conceptual model of the Scarecrow's reality.

This is really kind of a bizarre subject in a lot of ways, but then, the mixing of reality/unreality/altered-reality has always been fascinating to me. :)

Thanks for reading, GirlGuideJones!
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 3rd, 2007 06:38 am (UTC)
I'm really thrilled to find so many people liking this. It was such a challenge to write, and after I picked the prompt I had the remorse of "Wait, what was I thinking?"

The way you address Sam and Dean is creative and simply awesome.
Thank you so much! This inanimate POV is such an interesting way to show the chronology of Dean's life from Sam-in-college onward-- and the changes in his moods and "energy" over time as different sources of pain and happiness come and go. I think the reader can identify all of the main parts of canon in the story, and oddly enough the emotion is perhaps both clear and impersonal due to the way it's told.

By the end though, is it implied that Sam turns evil? I’m kinda blur about that.
It could be that, or not. But Sam's psychic powers have increased (for awhile in S2-- I remembered suddenly that... not so much lately), and he was possessed for awhile by the Demon and has turned at least somewhat darker over time. What that means and how far it will go, we don't know. Only that the possibility is definitely there, and that there are hints of it.

So glad you liked this, and thanks so much for leaving a review. :)
I'm for wine and the embrace of questionable womenmissyjack on August 13th, 2007 02:01 pm (UTC)
Just to let you know this wonderful story has been recced at here at spn_themes