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25 April 2007 @ 08:38 am
Supernatural Slash Fiction: Promises In The Dark (for family_secret)  
Title: Promises In The Dark
Author: HalfshellVenus
Characters: Sam/Dean (one-sided Wincest)
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Promises made, kept, and sometimes desperately hidden away.
Author's Notes: For family_secret and prompt #68: "What else has Dean promised Sam that Sam can't or doesn't remember?" I took the more secretive aspect to that still—Sam can't remember, because there is one promise Dean has never, ever let him know about. Dedicated to the lovely maygra, for her birthday. This seemed just the right choice. :)
Also for spn_25, this is "Whisper."

x-x-x-x-x

"I'll take care of you, Sammy."

Dean has whispered those words or something like them since Sam was a baby.

His father entrusted him with Sam from the beginning, when they left that burning house. Dean did his part—then and all the years after. Sam thinks he knows about that promise, but he has no idea how deep it goes.

Dean has protected Sam from danger, from endless truths he was too young to know. He protected Sam from too-hard choices that it would have killed something inside Sam to have to make.

Dean had his back when Sam thought he was alone. He crossed the country to check up on the brother that hadn't spoken to him for more than a year.

It all got harder suddenly, when Dad told him that someday he might have to protect the world from Sam.

Dean keeps that first promise always, no matter what. Maybe then he won't ever have to keep that last one.


"I'll never leave you, Sammy."

Dean never said that one out loud, but between the two of them they always knew it was true.

The thing was, all that time Sam never made that same promise in return.

Dean tried not to see it coming— those fights with Dad, all that rebellion against the very thing their family was about.

He never wanted to think it was an actual possibility, that Sam might leave them after all. He kept on hoping right up until Sam got on that bus to Stanford.

For a whole year afterward, he went to sleep every night with the unbidden thought that maybe Sam would change his mind.


"It'll be all right."

That promise means "I hope," or "Things will get better." Dean still tries to control everything within reach that might somehow make those words be true.

He couldn't stop Jess from dying—he never even knew it was going to happen. But he made sure he saw Sam through the aftermath. Because if he hadn't, things would never have been all right for either one of them again.

They survived their mother dying. Some might say barely, but still, they made it. It wasn't an ideal life, not by a long shot, but their family held together and that's what counts. Dean still believes that.

That first week afterward, they stayed at a motel. Dad didn't even try to make Dean sleep by himself. The three of them clustered on the bed, Dean in the middle, with Sammy tucked between him and a wall of extra pillows that would keep him safe. "Things'll get better," Dad would murmur, rubbing Dean's back when the night stretched on too long. Dean wanted to believe that, at age four, and five… and ten. He accepted it, all his faith centering on his father: it had to get better, because Daddy said so. Daddy would tell them when that finally happened.

Dean said all those same things to Sammy, resting in the shadows in the back seat of the car. There would be ladybugs in the new city where they were moving. The kitten behind the motel would find a home. Everything would be all right, Sammy would see—they just had to give it time. Dean echoed all the things their father taught him, and Sammy's sniffles grew silent under that reassurance.

So many times, for so many years, that promise would return. So much of the day was settled in the dark. In bed at night, huddled together in their own private world, Sam's fears would spill out and Dean would quiet them, fears that changed with the seasons and all the places they went.

Dad won't be mad by tomorrow, Dean whispered. Even though he yelled at Sammy for getting out of the car, Dad wasn't really angry anymore.

My leg will get better. It hardly hurts right now. The words were forced past lips already numb from being bitten against the pain.

The one he said most often was, You'll make new friends, Sammy. You will—you always do. No matter how often they moved, Sam never stopped hating it. Dean never stopped telling him it would all work out. In Dean's mind, it always did-- even though it finally drove Sam away.

Four long years of waiting, and that could have become forever, but for Sammy losing Jess. But Sam's back now, and that's what matters. Dean tries not to think about how selfish that sounds, him finding a silver lining in Sam's tragedy. But he can't help feeling this is how it should have been, always, all those years ago. How they got here wasn't his choosing, but he can't pretend he isn't glad.

Dean wonders about so many of the others they come across in their work— people and families who lose themselves or someone else, whose lives are then destroyed. Maybe things won't be all right for them, ever again. He doesn't know. He hopes for better, but he doesn't dwell on it. He never made any promises to them.

He was so young when their mother died, that he barely remembers it. He remembers fear and the way that everything stopped—their lives, their family. Losing their father is different—like losing himself, and maybe that's the same thing.

That feeling is familiar, buried. Rejected. It's half-formed, like a memory that's just colors without sound. Dean tries to say it, say the words both he and Sam need to hear, but they won't come-- he just can't find them. For a long time, Dean really isn't sure things will ever be all right again.

One night, that pledge finds its way out of him, flowing into the space between their beds.

It is such a relief to even think it, finally. That promise is for Dean as much as it is for Sam.


"I'll keep this part of my love to myself." The part where he loves Sam far too much, in all the ways a brother shouldn't.

Dean has already lived with that secret far too long, from all the way back when Sam was seventeen.

It mocks him—assaults him—at the most unexpected moments. Even six years later, it's like nothing at all has changed.

The rhythm of Sam's breathing in the dark is there if Dean listens. So many times he wishes he could climb in next to his brother, feel the smoothness of Sam's shoulder under his cheek. He wants to curve his arms around Sam in sleep, to know that Sam is there—always there—all night long. It scares him, how much he needs that. When it's bad, Dean will throw a fit about sharing a bed if that's the only room there is. He knows how easily he could slip up when he's that desperate, and show Sam everything he'd give his soul to hide.

Other times, when he thinks he's over the worst of it, they may wind up side-by-side in bed in a booked-up motel. Dean makes sure not to fall asleep first, on those nights. He waits for Sam to still, waits for the moon or haze from the street to light Sam's face. There in the dark, Dean's allowed to mourn for the things he can't have. Never for long—Dean doesn't do self-pity—but if he sometimes admits how badly he wants to hold Sam close or to kiss that wayward hair, well, he's only human.

In daylight, he busies himself with other things when Sam gets dressed. Can't be caught staring, because neither of them needs that. It's hard enough hanging onto Sam already. Dean can't afford the risk of giving him the best reason of all to leave.

It's something like torture, having everything you want staring you in the face but never being free to take it. Some people might say it's unlivable, but Dean's familiar with its opposite—that life where there was no Sam at all. Between the choice of ache or dulled-down emptiness, he'll take the first one. When Sam smiles at him-- really sees him—Dean's happy for that moment. It's like a whisper from the past.

So this is the secret that binds Dean, that keeps him from living too far in any one direction. He hunts to forget, he looks for the next distraction, he even beds strangers to keep the ache from getting too strong.

Sam will never, ever know what lies beneath that range of shallow habits. All that Dean loves—all that he is—finds completion in being with Sam.

Dean will keep that secret if it kills him.


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




 
 
Butterflymgbutterfly on April 25th, 2007 07:15 pm (UTC)
It's something like torture, having everything you want staring you in the face but never being free to take it. Some people might say it's unlivable, but Dean's familiar with its opposite—that life where there was no Sam at all. Between the choice of ache or dulled-down emptiness, he'll take the first one. When Sam smiles at him-- really sees him—Dean's happy for that moment. It's like a whisper from the past.

OMGyes! This was... I don't... I can't...

Just yes.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on April 27th, 2007 06:20 am (UTC)
This was... I don't... I can't...
Oh, exactly-- we all know why Dean can't let go of it, even though it kills him to want but never have. Even that is better than that isolation from Sam that he's already been through before. :(
pbwhispererpbwhisperer on April 25th, 2007 07:23 pm (UTC)
Promises in the Dark
Love your fiction; I've been a fan for a long time, really started watching Supernatural because of your fiction (mid S2). This fiction is as good as always (even though I kept hoping Dean would tell Sam how he felt, but I realize why he didn't dare risk Sam leaving when he found out). Much psychological insight into how/whys of Dean's thinking/ feeling packed into a tightly written story. Thank you for all you do, and thank you for introducing me to such a delightful fandom!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on May 1st, 2007 06:07 am (UTC)
Re: Promises in the Dark
really started watching Supernatural because of your fiction (mid S2).
I'm always thrilled to hear that Prison Break fans (I'm assuming that's where you started) have gotten hooked on Supernatural via my stories. That's such a huge compliment, because I hope in part it means that I'm showing the meanings behind the characters that make them so fascinating. Or their hot porny love, one or the other. :)

Much psychological insight into how/whys of Dean's thinking/ feeling packed into a tightly written story.
I have such a weakness for the things that drive Dean, that complicate him and make him love so desperately (and in such denial). The way he pushes away the very thing he needs so often is tragic, frustrating, and also very human. He doesn't want to admit that need, because what if the other person just really doesn't care?

thank you for introducing me to such a delightful fandom!
You're so very welcome, and thank you for letting me know that. It means a lot to me when readers tell me things like this. ♥
with fingernails that shine like justice: subtextdefaultlyric on April 25th, 2007 08:00 pm (UTC)
*just cries*

Oh, dear.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on May 1st, 2007 06:09 am (UTC)
In a way, that's really the prefect reaction to Dean's situation. It's so achy and frustrating and so doomed to be exactly that here, because he's afraid of telling Sam and losing what little they still have together. *sniffle*
Entendre? Make mine a double.: SN Sam melancholydeirdre_c on April 25th, 2007 08:15 pm (UTC)
It's hard enough hanging onto Sam already. Dean can't afford the risk of giving him the best reason of all to leave.

Oh, Dean. *wibble*

Lovely, m'dear.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 1st, 2007 06:11 am (UTC)
Oh, Dean. *wibble*
So very, very sad, and yet we can sure understand why he's made that choice. Things are tenuous and achy enough already, without pushing Sam over the edge into gone. *cries*

Elle: SN D/S sad 209 by londonsunshineellel on April 25th, 2007 08:28 pm (UTC)
Between the choice of ache or dulled-down emptiness,he'll take the first one.When Sam smiles at him-really sees him—Dean's happy for that moment.
I...just...can't...
*breaks down and cries*

So painful and beautiful.Heartbroken,Dean with a secret and no hope...Oh,the angst-how my heart aches!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on May 1st, 2007 06:14 am (UTC)
I...just...can't...
*breaks down and cries*


It's so sad to love so much, and to survive on such small crumbs of happiness. But if the choice is to lose even that small thing, we can certainly understand why Dean keeps that secret so carefully. :(

Oh,the angst-how my heart aches!
That tells me how very much you caught the mood of this story, and I'm thrilled that you did. Thank you. :)
:insert witty name here:popmusicjunkie on April 25th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC)

Oh, Dean!
*sniffle*

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on May 1st, 2007 06:16 am (UTC)
It hurts even more because we know why he makes those choices... and we can't be sure that they're wrong. What if Sam really did leave him? What if this little bit is the most love Dean's ever really going to have? *angsts*
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on May 1st, 2007 07:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - popmusicjunkie on May 1st, 2007 07:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 2nd, 2007 12:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - popmusicjunkie on May 2nd, 2007 02:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
virginie_m on April 25th, 2007 09:21 pm (UTC)
Lovely, and hurty!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on May 1st, 2007 06:18 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! That's really the whole mood of the piece-- from that broken childhood up to the ending where Dean can't afford to lose what very little he has. *sniffle*
tyricaltyrical on April 26th, 2007 12:39 am (UTC)
This is like one big owwie.
Dean is this walking contradiction.
Strong and hard.
Bendable and delicate.
To live with this and still go on.
Its only a matter of time before he implodes.
I wonder if Sam could withstand the fallout?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 1st, 2007 06:23 am (UTC)
Dean is this walking contradiction.
Strong and hard.
Bendable and delicate.

He really is-- he has already survived so much (losing his mother, his father, and Sam for a time). And though he's aching on the inside, he still keeps going at least for now, though part of him is slowly dying.

Its only a matter of time before he implodes.
I wonder if Sam could withstand the fallout?

This is such an interesting question-- what if it became too much for Dean and he went to pieces over it, ran away himself? Would Sam change his mind for Dean, over a question he never even knew existed?
aliquid stat pro aliquomaygra on April 26th, 2007 01:10 am (UTC)
Aw, sweetie! This is lovely and desperate and hurty and still there's a sliver of hope there -- holding onto that one good thing that makes the rest worthwhile. Thank you so much. It's a beautiful present.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: SN Lovershalfshellvenus on April 26th, 2007 04:40 am (UTC)
I wanted for once to be early, and I thought I might as well beat the rush for your day. As soon as the framework of this story clicked into place, I thought of it for you. So many themes of loyalty and love-- and fighting through to the other side, no matter how awful things look or become-- just seemed like something that would speak to you.

Many happy returns for tomorrow, and I hope you have a wonderful and much-celebrated day! ♥
bluesister on April 26th, 2007 02:18 am (UTC)
They survived their mother dying. Some might say barely, but still, they made it. It wasn't an ideal life, not by a long shot, but their family held together and that's what counts. Dean still believes that.

I think maybe I dig your one-sided stuff the best. All that love. :/
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on May 1st, 2007 06:20 am (UTC)
I think maybe I dig your one-sided stuff the best. All that love. :/
There's such depth of longing in the one-sided ones, and the reader just aches for the characters. Those have their own appeal, don't they? Though I do also like the epic stories where they find their mutual love in the end. (I'm a hopeless romantic that way)
dc_longwing on April 26th, 2007 04:22 am (UTC)
So awesome. Such a great portrayal of Dean just ... enduring everything life throws at him. Helping Sam get through it, all the while knowing he can't have/won't ask for the one thing he wants. So sad, but read totally authentic. Dean is 3-dimensional, not an emo-angsty construct. This was one of my favorite bits: It's something like torture, having everything you want staring you in the face but never being free to take it. Some people might say it's unlivable, but Dean's familiar with its opposite—that life where there was no Sam at all.
Thanks a ton,
DC
Changing topics a bit: Like you, I've reluctantly become disengaged from the PB fandom. Since I came to SPN (both fiction and the show) through your LJ, lemme say how grateful I am you introduced me to our boys.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: SN Lovershalfshellvenus on May 1st, 2007 11:23 pm (UTC)
Helping Sam get through it, all the while knowing he can't have/won't ask for the one thing he wants.
In general, at least for much of S1, this is Dean in a nutshell, and how it hurts that he expects so little-- doesn't think he deserves anything more, or is too afraid to ask for it.

I like that quote you (and others) picked out, because as awful as the current situation is for Dean, he has already found out that it can be much, much worse. Being with Sam-- and having so little of what Dean wants or needs-- is still better in his mind than not being with Sam at all. :(

lemme say how grateful I am you introduced me to our boys.
You're very welcome! I've brought a few other readers over (so many of them are SPN-rabid now and PB "meh"), and I'm glad this fandom has shown you some worthiness and staying power. :) ♥
aeroport_art: impalaaeroport_art on April 26th, 2007 05:57 am (UTC)
Martyr!Dean always makes me cry ;_;

The ending paragraphs were great, really captured the essence of how much Dean is willing to give up for Sammy. Thanks for writing beb!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on May 1st, 2007 11:26 pm (UTC)
Martyr!Dean always makes me cry ;_;
Oh, I just ache for him. At some point, long ago after losing his mother, that is who he was forced to become. What he wanted (and emotionally needed) became such an afterthought, and it is easier to stop asking than to ask and be denied again and again as if you don't matter. Most people will eventually just bury that asking rather than have that hurt shoved in their faces again and again.

The ending paragraphs were great, really captured the essence of how much Dean is willing to give up for Sammy.
Thank you so much! There was so much at the beginning that was already achy and could easily have been Gen, so it's nice to know that the slashy part didn't wimp out at the end. ♥
fpvs: Traditional DbyAfpvs on April 26th, 2007 06:52 am (UTC)
Oh..... Angsty McAngst-Angst!!!

I loved that... Especially the second half... Where every line just tore at my heart strings... meep
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on May 1st, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC)
Where every line just tore at my heart strings... meep
Yayyyy! I mean *settles down like a normal person*... tissue?

You have the perfect icon for an angst-lover, too. Thank goodness there are so many of us out here. :)
I'm Mulder, She's Scullyrunedgirl on April 26th, 2007 01:40 pm (UTC)
Wow, that is heartbreakingly beautiful! So sad that Dean knows he has to choose between two imperfect choices, that he can't have what he really truly wants, ever, because he won't allow himself to ask for it if it might cause Sam any pain. Dean on the surface at times appears 'selfish' - shallow habits, as you put it so well - and underneath he's so the antithesis of that. I'm still discovering all the great writers in this fandom, hope it's okay that I friend you to keep up.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on May 1st, 2007 11:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for your comments! They were wonderful. :)

that he can't have what he really truly wants, ever, because he won't allow himself to ask for it if it might cause Sam any pain.
And not just that, but... he doesn't want to take the risk of it making Sam leave him again. Dean would rather keep what he has than ask for more and lose everything. :( And I can't imagine that kind of conversation going over well to begin with, in a realistic world.

Dean on the surface at times appears 'selfish' - shallow habits, as you put it so well - and underneath he's so the antithesis of that.
This is what absolutely fascinates me about him. During early S1, he was just such an ass, so full of macho posturing. And as time when on, the viewer could see how much pain was hiding under that, how deeply he loved and needed his family and how little they seemed to give a damn. *wibble* All of those layers of complexity make him the most interesting Winchester for me. I know of at least one person who was frustrated by him, because she felt he created his own tragedy. But the thing is, if you truly feel you aren't loved enough-- clearly aren't, clearly don't matter all that much to other people-- you typically aren't going to stick your neck out and ask them to prove themselves to you. You already fear and suspect that the answer will not be the one you want. Why pour salt in that wound?

I'm still discovering all the great writers in this fandom, hope it's okay that I friend you to keep up.
I'm honored that you consider me to be in that group! And friending is always welcome. :)
I'm for wine and the embrace of questionable womenmissyjack on April 26th, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC)
the love, the yearning in this, is exquisitely painful. beautifully written m'dear.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on May 1st, 2007 11:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you, missyjack! This one hits very deep for me, and I wish more people were reading it and "getting it." I'm such a sucker for Dean's angst, clearly. :)