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16 April 2008 @ 10:14 am
Supernatural Gen Fiction: On The Strength Of False Promises  
Title: On The Strength Of False Promises
Author: HalfshellVenus
Character: Dean (Gen)
Rating: PG
Summary: Dean struggles to accept what he can't change, even as reality shifts out from under his expectations.
Spoilers: Up through mid-Season 3.
Author's Notes: This combines the 60_minute_fics prompt of "Internal Monologue" (which I used in the form of a refrain) and my switch25 prompt of "Wrong."

x-x-x-x-x

This is how it's going to be…

His father's voice is so certain when he lays it out for them. There's how other people live and how the Winchesters live. They aren't meant to be the same— won't ever be the same— and there's no use crying about it or trying to change it. There are places to go, things to be done, all of them important but not in the way other people understand.

Dean and Sam need be careful, their father tells them, and they have to watch out for each other. But families don't really need much outside of themselves— so they'd better not get too attached to other people or places. Those things don't last.

Dad never says it can be lonely, always living with secrets. He never mentions that the future includes him leaving the boys alone for days at a time, always wondering if this is finally it, if this is the time he might not ever come back.


This is how it's going to be…

When Sam's sixteen, Dean still has hope that the fighting will stop. He's heard about phases, about teenage rebellion, and he knows he's watching it in action. Surely it'll pass.

But by the time Sam's eighteen, Dean's resigned himself to living in the middle of an unending war. It's clearly more than rebellion by now— it’s stubbornness and clashing personalities, and it goes both ways. Dean's job is to defuse it as much as he can, keep the peace and try to spin that balance out forever.

He never thinks about what'll happen if he fails.


This is how it's going to be…

The car's always too quiet. Even when the music's playing— louder than ever— there's silence underneath.

The rift between Dad and Sam continues, though Sam already left them weeks ago. It's here filling the car, so large now that there's hardly room any more for Dean to breathe. Every thing he says is wrong, and he realizes now that it was only Sam who ever really listened, even if he didn't agree.

Dean's never been so lonely as he is right now, staring at a future with just him and his father and this terrible, gaping hole where Sam should be.

Never has so much space felt so suffocating. Never has making the right choice felt so wrong.


This is how it's going to be…

Sam's back now, and although Dad's not here and Sam's still settling into the groove of things, it'll be good. They'll find their way back to being a family.

Months later, they haven't gotten there yet. Dad's still missing— avoiding them, Dean thinks, and maybe he did something to cause that and Dad's still angry. It's the overriding direction of Dean's life: Sam's already tried to leave a couple of times, acting like Dean's become Dad now and all those same arguments are still going on.

They reach the half-year mark, and Dean's running out of hope that the three of them will ever return to being the family they once were. Sam doesn't want that life anymore— he's even said so— and Dad won't stay. If it comes to choosing, Dean's been happier with Sam than he was with his father. He focuses on trying to get used to this different version of what he can have.


This is how it's going to be…

Dean's heart is frozen.

His father's gone— his life traded for Dean's, and he didn't even ask whether Dean approved of that choice. The answer would have been No.

Dad's gone, and though he said his goodbyes, Dean didn't. Only Dad knew what that conversation was really about.

All those things Dad taught him aren't enough now. Who to be and what to do was different with Dad there looking over his shoulder and keeping Dean firmly within the lines.

Dean knows Sam's hurting over this too, losing Dad. It makes him angry. All those years of fighting and then running away don't add up to the hand-wringing Sam's doing now. Dean can't carry Sam through this, not when he's barely making it on his own.

Not when the secret of Sam's future festers inside him, with the weight of knowing his own responsibilities enough to kill him.


This is how it's going to be…

The clock is ticking.

The days go by faster than ever now, only so much time to enjoy those things that remind him of happiness. It's as close as he'll ever get.

By the time Dean went to the crossroads, he only cared about restoring Sam's life. A year was more than he expected— more than his father got. Sometimes Dean thinks his father's deal would have been easier than his own.

A year is a long time to think about what's coming. It's too short to settle down and live in, those three-hundred-sixty-five days too easily counted off, each date one that Dean will never see again.

Distracting himself with hunting and food and women helps the days and weeks be something more than how long it will take for him to die. That's all Dean can do.

He tries not to notice Sam slipping into the shadows of grief, even months after Dean laid out for him all the reasons there were no options left. Sam will have a future, and that's all that matters. Dean would choose that all again right now.

He's forgotten what it felt like having someone make that choice for him, only a year ago.

He's forgotten that Sam's never believed in doing anything on the strength of Because, especially when there's so much he stands to lose.



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

 
 
 
fiery_fox2fiery_fox2 on April 16th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC)

Ouch!

Yet, this is so beautiful. It's simplistic, yet it's also very weighty....I hope that makes sense to you.
As always, your work astounds me. Lovely, lovely job.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on April 16th, 2008 09:20 pm (UTC)
Know, I do know what you mean-- simple theme, but heavy emotions. And even with what Dean tries to make himself expect, things still turn out differently and so often also worse.
girlguidejonesgirlguidejones on April 16th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
"...A year is a long time to think about what's coming. It's too short to settle down and live in..."

Love that line. Very visceral pain in this. Well done.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on April 16th, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
Love that line.
It's odd, isn't it, how that year's time cuts both ways? When you're dreading what's coming, it's far too long. But if you want to really live it and deny the worst until the end, it isn't long enough for that. The worst of both worlds.

Very visceral pain in this.
Thank you! It's interesting how this thread runs true for Dean's life, from every part after losing his mother. All of his hardest moments are harder still than he first expects.
chemm80chemm80 on April 16th, 2008 07:00 pm (UTC)
Wow - unbearably sad. It's easy to forget what their lives have been like when you watch the show because of the action and humor, but this really lays it all out - like a detailed map of Dean's life journey.

And this:

Dad's still missing— avoiding them, Dean thinks, and maybe he did something to cause that and Dad's still angry.

The perennial cry of the abandoned child - always thinking it's their fault. It's not something I'd thought much about, but it makes perfect sense.

Excuse me. I think there's something in my eye.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Listening Deanhalfshellvenus on April 16th, 2008 09:25 pm (UTC)
It's easy to forget what their lives have been like when you watch the show because of the action and humor, but this really lays it all out - like a detailed map of Dean's life journey.
Exactly-- every now and then I like to revisit the whole span of Dean's life from a particular vantage point. This one shows so many hard moments that became harder still.

The perennial cry of the abandoned child - always thinking it's their fault.
Now that we've seen how often John ran out on them, we understand that Dean's mother's death was not the only abandonment he faced before Sam went to college. It's the theme of his life. :(

And John's leaving him in Season One was the worst of all those times, because of how long he stayed away, refusing to answer Dean's phone calls. Given that Dean was the only other person there when John left, what is he supposed to think but that it must have somehow been his fault?

Excuse me. I think there's something in my eye.
Mine too-- Dean does it to me every time. *sigh*
Ruth: LongWayHome (Ruth)just_ruth on April 16th, 2008 10:24 pm (UTC)
Hard and heavy, but it rings so true. Poor Dean.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on April 17th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
Poor Dean.
I'm glad he finds happiness where he can, even if it's in the most transient things. Because living his life would kill me. :(
jelly babies to manual: wincst UST (pilot)thehighwaywoman on April 16th, 2008 10:37 pm (UTC)
Tangible pain and loneliness. You've made my heart ache so for Dean. Beautifully done!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on April 17th, 2008 07:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! "Loneliness" is one of the first things I think of when it comes to Dean. His father was there, but he didn't help that problem deep-down (in fact, he was responsible for a lot of it). And Sam... even though Dean's so much happier with Sam, they're still leading very different lives-- in a large part because Sam HAD Dean, and Dean (after his mother died) had no-one. :(
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Listening Deanhalfshellvenus on April 17th, 2008 07:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Rinne. Dean is such a rich character to explore-- and I never suspected from the Pilot how true that would come to be.
iamstealthyoneiamstealthyone on April 16th, 2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
Wonderfully aching writing, with the boys (especially Dean) so, so angsty. Good job capturing what was going through Dean’s head at all of these moments.

Favorite lines:

The rift between Dad and Sam continues, though Sam already left them weeks ago. It's here filling the car, so large now that there's hardly room any more for Dean to breathe.

Great description, and also: Oh, Dean.

Every thing he says is wrong, and he realizes now that it was only Sam who ever really listened, even if he didn't agree.

*hugs lonely Dean*

A year is a long time to think about what's coming. It's too short to settle down and live in, those three-hundred-sixty-five days too easily counted off, each date one that Dean will never see again.

Great way of putting it, and so very true. Having all of those days would be as much curse as blessing, methinks, everything feeling like “The last time I’ll do X.”

He's forgotten that Sam's never believed in doing anything on the strength of Because, especially when there's so much he stands to lose.

Oh, boys.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on April 30th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
Great description, and also: Oh, Dean.
I've always thought that the only thing worse than losing Sam to Stanford would be living day-to-day with John afterward and having to pretend that the lack of Sam wasn't absolutely killing you. :(

*hugs lonely Dean*
His relationship with his father hurts me. So much asked, and so little given in return- and neither part of that situation was intentional. *sniffle*

Having all of those days would be as much curse as blessing, methinks, everything feeling like “The last time I’ll do X.”
I agree-- it would be kind of awful, having your life put into that perspective every single day. :(

Thanks so much for reading!

Former wild child of the 80's: Dean - shoots YEDsierra_foxx on April 16th, 2008 11:18 pm (UTC)
Oh! *cries* Talk about pulling at the heartstrings, Karen!

He's forgotten what it felt like having someone make that choice for him, only a year ago.

Gah. A great and very telling observation right there. I really enjoyed this, Karen; the emotion hits you right between the eyes. :)

Wonderful job!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Listening Deanhalfshellvenus on April 30th, 2008 08:50 pm (UTC)
Talk about pulling at the heartstrings, Karen!
Thank you! Dean's really my specialty, and I'm not sure why. I understand him even when I don't agree with him, perhaps. And his pain is so impossible to ignore.

A great and very telling observation right there.
He was so angry about John doing it (once he realized), and yet he's spent most of S3 telling Sam to suck it up and stop complaining. He clearly doesn't remember the frustration he felt himself. And he's forgotten that Sam was never the obedient child, of the two of them. I'm still hoping that will work to both their advantages.

So glad you liked it-- thanks so much for your wonderful comments!
The Procrastinatrix: carry on johnyasminke on April 17th, 2008 01:49 am (UTC)
That was very poignant. I'm always in awe of people who can churn out something so succinct and well done in 60 minutes.

Thanks for posting it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on April 30th, 2008 08:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I do revise it afterward, but it's mostly polishing at that point.

I'm a little out of practice after too much time off from the 60-minute challenges, so I feel enormously lucky when the story (like this one) finishes its whole arc in the time limit and I don't have to go over. Still not quite back in "the zone" yet. :)
(no subject) - yasminke on May 4th, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
cindy: spn - dean looks away (by oxoniensis)tsuki_no_bara on April 17th, 2008 01:51 am (UTC)
oh, ow. this is so dean, tho, with him playing peacemaker for sam and john, and hating being alone, and trying to get the three of them to be a family again, and suffocating with the knowledge of what john told him about sam, and doing the same thing for - and to - sam that john did for him, without seeing the similarity. (He's forgotten what it felt like having someone make that choice for him, only a year ago - that's a really good, really telling line.)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on April 30th, 2008 08:54 pm (UTC)
with him playing peacemaker for sam and john, and hating being alone, and trying to get the three of them to be a family again, and suffocating with the knowledge of what john told him about sam, and doing the same thing for - and to - sam that john did for him, without seeing the similarity.
In so many ways, the thread of Dean's life is more his pain than anything else. His job is his focus, and he gets a lot of satisfaction from it (and from temporary things along the way like food and women). But darn if it doesn't keep coming back to the same struggle again and again. The form changes, but the battle does not. :(
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Listening Deanhalfshellvenus on April 30th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
So much loneliness for one Dean to handle...
I don't think John or Sam had any idea. Not only what he went through apart from them, but what they did to him individually and collectively (even if they never meant to)... ouch.
Cass E. Pants: SPN - dean sneerscass404 on April 17th, 2008 08:36 am (UTC)
Oh, Dean, you break my heart boy. Excellent writing. Wow.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Listening Deanhalfshellvenus on April 30th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, Dean, you break my heart boy.
Mine too. I never, based on who Dean was in the Pilot episode, thought I'd ever feel such sympathy for everything he hides underneath the surface. *angsts*
layne: dean bleedlayne67 on April 17th, 2008 09:03 am (UTC)
That's pretty much Dean in a nutshell. It's always Dad and Sam and never, ever me. Right till the end. But I believe Sam would have a say in that.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on April 30th, 2008 09:03 pm (UTC)
It's always Dad and Sam and never, ever me. Right till the end.
*clings* Yes. All of his pain, all of his life, centers around Dad and Sam. They're what's important to him, what matters.

That he doesn't matter apart from them and how they hurt him (even unintentionally) just gets me.
brigid_tanner: Bobby-What have you done?brigid_tanner on April 17th, 2008 12:05 pm (UTC)
That's beautiful and so painful.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Listening Deanhalfshellvenus on April 30th, 2008 09:03 pm (UTC)
The perfect icon once again! It's like an art form. ♥
Pheebs1pheebs1 on April 17th, 2008 10:36 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this - the repetition worked well vs. the movement forward of the story. The comparison between Dean and his Dad's deal - very true
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on April 30th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
the repetition worked well vs. the movement forward of the story.
That's the kind of technique I virtually never use, but once in awhile the mood strikes me. For this story, the contrast between Dean resigning himself to something he didn't want in the first place and all the ways in which the situation became unexpectedly worse made that refrain irresistible.

The comparison between Dean and his Dad's deal - very true
It's so odd that while Dean must remember how John's deal made him feel, he doesn't carry it over to Sam's own frustrations. Or worse, Sam's sadness. Because Sam knows what's coming, and he has to dread it and ache over it for that entire year right alongside Dean.