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14 September 2008 @ 10:38 pm
Supernatural Gen Fiction: "If Words Could Make The Truth" (PG-13, "Nightmare"-based)  
Title: If Words Could Make The Truth
Author: HalfshellVenus
Characters: Sam and Dean (Gen)
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Summary: Post "Nightmare," Dean tries to prove to Sam that he's not afraid of Sam's new powers.
Author's Notes: For spn_nostalgia (this wound up being Gen, despite my original intent), and also for my switch_25 challenge (this is "Fright")

x-x-x-x-x

Dean is rattled.

He'll be damned if he'll show it, because he doesn't need Sam's pity or comfort. Or worry, if it comes to that. Sam's probably kind of freaked out himself right now, and Dean's the one who's supposed to take care of everything. That includes Sam and himself.

He hardly notices the road as he drives back to the motel. It's there but he's looking through it, seeing images in his mind of Max pointing the gun his way and feeling that cold grip of anticipation. He'd thought that might be it for him—dying at the hands of something human after all those years of risking himself over things that weren't. He can still see Sam coming through the door, see the gun turning away. And Max… Dean didn't look away in time, too well-trained to take his eyes off a weapon even as Max used it to destroy himself.

Dean didn't know he had any innocence left until Max took it.

Sam is nothing like Max, Dean reminds himself. Max became twisted at the hands of his father and uncle, but Dean had always made sure Sam was safe, always. Resenting Dad's choices wouldn't lead to becoming like Max—Sam's not that angry (Yet, his mind whispers, traitorous and uncertain).

Restless beside him, Sam shifts again and rearranges his legs like he's uncomfortable in his own skin. Dean wonders what's going on inside his brother, hopes it's confusion and nothing darker. Sam saw what happened to Max too and Dean couldn't stop it, and that's exactly the kind of thing he's tried to shield Sam from all his life.

He pats Sam's leg reassuringly. "I'm sorry about Max," he says, meaning that he's sorry about everything.

Sam looks surprised, then haunted. "Better him than you," Sam says hoarsely.

"What?"

"Nothing." Sam turns toward the window, like the stars alone can save him.

At the motel, Sam apparently is still caught up in a tailspin of second-guessing, unable to keep himself from saying any of it: Why Max? Why him? Who was the demon really after all those years ago?

Dean hears the questions but it's hard to focus. He's still distracted by the thought of those long seconds when there was a gun—his gun— pointed right at his head.

In the middle of laying out all his worries, Sam suddenly lets something else come to light: he got out of that closet by using the same abilities that Max nearly killed all three of them with. Dean holds off understanding that and makes Sam spell it out for him, because he really fucking hopes to God that Sam's not actually saying what it sounds like, the part about moving things with his mind.

It would be really nice if just once—once—Dean's tactic for avoiding unpleasant news ever worked.

There's not a lot Dean can say after Sam's announcement, though he's always up for the possibility that Sam's trying to fuck with him, or maybe Sam's just confused. "Bend this," Dean demands, holding out a spoon.

Sam doesn't, which is exactly what Dean expected. But now he can't be sure if the reason is that Sam can't, or that he doesn't want to try. The excuses Sam gives him are all good ones, but Sam probably doesn't even know the truth right now.

The two of them pack up and head out. The room's paid for and it's night already, but he and Sam both clearly need to put as much space as possible between themselves and this town, these memories. The less real it all seems the better, as far as Dean's concerned.

He can't help but try to reassure Sam. Dean's got no special powers, other than determination and the fact that he's Sam's brother and he's protected Sam all his life, but to Dean that's practically everything.

Sam seems less convinced.

And if he's being honest with himself, Dean's afraid it might turn out that it's not nearly enough to deal with what's waiting for Sam, or worse yet… with Sam himself.

The car ride south is quiet, though Dean tries to lift Sam's mood every so often with awkward jokes. Maybe it's more of a diversion for himself than Sam.

This new power, the telekinesis Sam used to free himself… Dean's never encountered that outside of demons and poltergeists, so he doesn't know—does it warp the person who wields it? Is that what happened to Max instead?

He wishes to God Sam had never started having those dreams…

When they reach the motel, Dean dumps his stuff on the bed by the door while Sam flops down on the bed and stares at the ceiling.

"You okay?" Dean asks.

"Fine."

Which doesn't mean 'fine,' it means that Sam doesn't want to talk about it right now. "You want the shower first?" Dean offers, a dead giveaway of his own discomfort because he only ever asks when he's feeling guilty or he's worried about Sam.

"No."

Good. Dean's glad of the escape.

He heads into the bathroom then, his gun still with him. He locks the door as silently as a whisper and slips the gun inside a folded towel. He can't help it.

What could Sam do to him if he ever got mad enough? Dean's chest stings with the remembered pain of rock-salt bullets—so easy for Sam to pull that trigger, like he'd been waiting to do it for years. Not his fault—he was possessed, Dean tells himself. But it's only half-true; the words Sam spoke as he did it were entirely his own.

Dean soaps up and stands under the spray of water, repeating the process in slow cycles until the smell of blood (only a memory, but that changes nothing) is finally gone.

Sam seems wearier than ever when Dean comes out of the bathroom, as if one too many interrupted nights finally ran up against everything that happened today. Dean sits on the bed in his towel and takes the bullets out of his gun, trying to pretend that's a regular thing instead of a sudden paranoid precaution. He can feel Sam's eyes on him, though they're gone by the time he stands up and turns around with jeans and a clean shirt in his hands. "You hungry?" Dean asks.

"No," Sam says listlessly.

Totally expected, but Dean had to do it—it's his way of asking if Sam's all right. The answer covers both questions, spoken and silent. Not what Dean wanted, but at least it's the truth.

The worry on Sam's face is all too familiar, a look Dean has watched come and go for months now—after Jess, after the first visions. Now it's back again, settling in with an undercurrent of self-loathing. It's as if Sam is afraid of himself.

"It'll be okay," Dean assures him. He'd say anything to keep Sam from tearing into himself like this.

"What if it isn't?" Sam's voice is tight, loaded with a thousand other questions.

Dean walks over and sits down on Sam's bed, the tension in Sam's body easing slightly in response. "I'll be right there with you, no matter what happens," Dean says quietly.

"Even if I become a freak?"

"Especially then. Wait, what do you mean 'if'—you've been a freak at least since high school."

"Shut up…" Sam says, but Dean can tell he's feeling better now.

It's daunting, how little either of them knows about what's coming. But the unknown is easier to face with someone else by your side, and Dean's always been the kind of guy who hedges his bets: make it less unknown, and half the problem is solved.

"You know," Dean suggests, "you can either control these powers or you can let them control you. I vote for the first one."

"Meaning?"

"Let's test them out, see how far they can go and how to stop and start them."

Sam's whole body turns toward Dean, wavering, listening. "Like training?" he asks, in a voice Dean hasn't heard since Sam was ten.

"Exactly. We'll help you figure out how to use them, and even if they change or get stronger you'll still be better off than before. And who knows, maybe you'll wind up with awesome Jedi mind powers or something."

Sam smiles. "That'd be a dream for you, wouldn't it?"

"Absolutely," Dean tells him. "Think of the trouble it'd save on fake IDs and thinking up cover stories. I'll bet we could even use it to get free food. Seriously, Sammy, we could totally work this to our advantage. And what if you develop mental death-ray abilities someday? We could take down zombies and wendigos and stuff in no time. It'd be a hell of a lot faster."

"You want me to think of it as a tool, not a curse, huh?"

"It's not a curse, Sam. I don't know why it's happening, but we'll find a way to make it better. Okay?"

"Okay," Sam answers softly, his expression so trusting that Dean hopes he'll be worthy of it when all is said and done.

Later, when the lights are out, Dean lies in bed awake wondering whether the two of them will survive this. He put on a good show for Sam earlier, but they might already be one bad argument or misplaced target away from the kind of terrible fate Max found today. There's no way to be sure that isn't going to happen.

Across the way Sam slumbers fitfully, with a restlessness that mirrors the direction of Dean's thoughts. Sam's sleep-heavy sounds are those of conquering dragons or running from his own nightmares.

For the first time ever, those might be practically the same thing.



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

 
 
 
The Grammarian about whom your mother warned you.acostilow on September 15th, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
:( *pets her pretty, sad boys*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on September 15th, 2008 06:08 am (UTC)
I loved the worry in Dean's eyes standing in the light of that doorway at the end of Nightmare. He kidded away all of Sam's fears, but they all stayed buried inside him as soon as Sam turned away.

It's so very much like Dean to do that, and to hope at least one of them feels better afterward.
ruby_jellyruby_jelly on September 15th, 2008 11:48 am (UTC)
"Dean didn't know he had any innocence left until Max took it."
And there we have it!

You wove (weaved?) a beautiful story around that moment; it was exquisite to read. Thankyou.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on September 15th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! And I'm really glad you noticed that line-- it struck me as I was thinking about that episode, that for all the movies and gore Dean's seen, none of it was human or real until that moment. And that makes a difference, even to someone like Dean (more still if you add the fact that they'd hoped to save Max and didn't).

brigid_tanner: boys-lay your weary headbrigid_tanner on September 15th, 2008 12:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, boys.
"Absolutely," Dean tells him. "Think of the trouble it'd save on fake IDs and thinking up cover stories. I'll bet we could even use it to get free food. Seriously, Sammy, we could totally work this to our advantage. And what if you develop mental death-ray abilities someday? We could take down zombies and wendigos and stuff in no time. It'd be a hell of a lot faster." One one level, Dean would think this could be a good thing. On another, he knows he's bullshitting, and knows Sam knows it, and that Sam is letting himself be comforted.
Wonderful work capturing their emotions, especially Dean's, and fears of what's to come.

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on September 15th, 2008 04:55 pm (UTC)
One one level, Dean would think this could be a good thing. On another, he knows he's bullshitting, and knows Sam knows it, and that Sam is letting himself be comforted.

Exactly-- you know Dean would do exactly that, try to spin it into something good and distract Sam with humor while he's doing it. But he knows it's still incredibly scary, and Sam knows it too.

This game of reassurance between them is as old as they are, and even though both are playing parts it still helps. It's still who they are.

Thanks so much for reading!
iamstealthyoneiamstealthyone on September 15th, 2008 01:03 pm (UTC)
Good look at what might have gone through Dean's head after "Nightmare." I like that he tries so hard to reassure Sam, even though he has doubts himself. *pets him*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on September 15th, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
I like that he tries so hard to reassure Sam, even though he has doubts himself.

He just can't help it, either-- that drive to protect Sam is in Dean's blood by now, even if it means protecting Sam from the reality of what Sam himself might become.

And it's why we love them. :)
cindy: spn - ouija handstsuki_no_bara on September 15th, 2008 02:14 pm (UTC)
i love that dean tries to cover his worry with jokes, but that he's still worried. also, the thread of "he has to protect his brother, he's always protected his brother" is very dean.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on September 15th, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
It's the essence of Dean that he can't stop trying to protect and reassure Sam, even when he's as worried as Sam is.

I toyed with the idea for the title (and dropped it, because it didn't work at all) that if Sam had to drive a car over a cliff, Dean would be right there next to him-- even knowing what would happen when they hit bottom.
fiery_fox2fiery_fox2 on September 15th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
Wow. I'm actually trembling, here.
This was so very powerful. I love the fact that Dean tries to make Sam's fears disappear, like a big brother should, but then, at the same time, I feel for him--for the both of them--that they're so scared of the future and what it could possibly bring.
You should really be up for awards for all these thought-provoking/lovely/heart-wrenching fics. I'd certainly nominate you.
*hugs*
*memories this fic*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on September 15th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, you're so sweet! *melts at your lovely comments*

I feel for him--for the both of them--that they're so scared of the future and what it could possibly bring.
I think that's why this one remained stubbornly Gen. The essence of what came to me from this episode was that Dean wants to prove to Sam that he's not afraid... and it isn't true. He's doing it to make Sam feel better, not because he can deal at all with what Sam's just revealed to him. That image of Dean's face at the end of the episode, after all that joking, where you can see that he's terrified underneath and burying it on the surface for Sam... that says everything about how Dean really feels, spoon-bending jokes aside.

You memmed the story! Whee! ♥
no longer a wax-winged prodigy: dean smiledragojustine on September 15th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow.

How very DEAN, so terrified and putting such a good face on it because Sam's scared...
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on September 15th, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
How very DEAN, so terrified and putting such a good face on it because Sam's scared...
That's what finally won me over to Dean in S1-- in spite of his assy behavior much of the time, his love for Sam and the lengths he'll go to in order to make Sam feel safe and happy (when his own life was lacking that so much) speak to the inner Dean and how little it matches the surface.

It's some of that same desperation that's in your own story, from a different angle.
ErinRua: semper fierinrua on September 15th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, Dean. This is him, to a T. He's not as crass as he likes to make out, he's not as unthinking or oblivious as he tries to pretend. There's a lot going on in that head of his, and this really illustrates Dean's silent struggle to master his own fears, so he can allay Sam's. Plus it's a nice look back at an earlier time in the boys' lives, when the line between who they are and what they hunt began to blur. I suspect we'll see a lot more blurriness in Season 4 ...

Very well done! :-)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on September 15th, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC)
and this really illustrates Dean's silent struggle to master his own fears, so he can allay Sam's.
And that part is entirely Dean-- in the end, it's all about making sure that Sam isn't terrified of himself or of his own future. Which just gets me-- it's where Dean really crosses the line from brother into parent, and that's the kind of parent we all strive to be (not always with success).

when the line between who they are and what they hunt began to blur. I suspect we'll see a lot more blurriness in Season 4 ...
I hope to see more of that (I was fascinated by it in S2, utterly loved that thread) and also of Sam's powers (which got entirely buried in S3). :)
(no subject) - erinrua on September 15th, 2008 10:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
maychorian: i lost my SHOE :(maychorian on September 15th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
Aw, Dean. Always the strong one, always brave, always doing everything he can. Including turning terrifying things like this into jokes, something to kid about, even while he's haunted. Lovely little moment in time. I particularly liked the bit where he tries to compare to Jedi mind powers, though they both know that this is a lot more scary. So very much what Dean would do, trying to make it better.

I also liked the moment where he took the bullets out of the gun. Because his gun almost betrayed him, almost killed him, and that's not supposed to happen. Poor Dean.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on September 15th, 2008 09:12 pm (UTC)
particularly liked the bit where he tries to compare to Jedi mind powers, though they both know that this is a lot more scary. So very much what Dean would do, trying to make it better.
It really IS like Dean, and while it's heartwarming that he does that for Sam it's also a reminder that there was no-one to do that for him-- his father tried to make him face everything head-on instead of sheltering him. :(

Because his gun almost betrayed him, almost killed him, and that's not supposed to happen.
It's worse that it's his own gun, definitely. Even beyond the sense of betrayal, there's something about you yourself bringing what might be the agent of your own death that's a bitter kind of irony.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
_ulkis on September 15th, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on September 15th, 2008 09:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! That episode had so much "turning point" potential that I'm sorry canon didn't do more with that in the ensuing episodes.

Gorgeous icon, BTW. :)
(no subject) - ulkis on September 16th, 2008 01:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
redrikkiredrikki on September 15th, 2008 09:40 pm (UTC)
Sam's probably kind of freaked out himself right now, and Dean's the one who's supposed to take care of everything. That includes Sam and himself.

That's certainly Dean's take on their relationship in a nutshell. I like how he spends the rest of this story trying to convince Sam that everything is okay through gentle nudging and jokes and sensible planning, but he still hasn't even begun to comfort himself.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on September 16th, 2008 06:31 am (UTC)
but he still hasn't even begun to comfort himself.
It really says something that when Sam is involved, Dean is never his own first priority.

God, when I think of what that becomes at the end of Season 2, it just hurts all over again.
May Robinson: Dean Againstthewallmay7fic on September 15th, 2008 09:59 pm (UTC)
Lovely job - you've captured that moment when we see Dean's fears revealed to us at the end of Nightmare beautifully.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on September 16th, 2008 06:33 am (UTC)
Thank you so much-- that moment was exactly what drove the direction of this story. Even after all the joking around and reassurances to Sam, that naked expression on Dean's face (so worried and out of his depth) said what he was feeling all too clearly.
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on September 16th, 2008 06:37 am (UTC)
Thank you, Rinne! There were some really good key moments to work with from this episode, most of them in that sudden unraveling at the end. All those new discoveries Sam has made about himself come tumbling out of him, and Dean tap-dances through them as fast as he can to settle Sam down.

But in the end, Dean himself is not the least bit reassured.
cutedevil666: Winchesteroncarcutedevil666 on September 16th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
Wow was that was really powerful. I love how Dean realizes that half of the things he says are to keep himself sane & also for Sammys sake. Deans advice was very heart-warming also. Awsome!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on October 18th, 2008 02:48 am (UTC)
I love how Dean realizes that half of the things he says are to keep himself sane & also for Sammys sake.
It's hard to tell sometimes where reassuring Sam leaves off from reassuring himself, isn't it?

The difference, I think, is that Sam can more often be convinced. And how lucky he is, that Dean will try for him. I so often wish their father had done better by Dean in that same respect.
layne: spn looklayne67 on September 16th, 2008 04:26 am (UTC)
It pains me that Dean feels that he has to lock the bathroom door, and brings a gun with him there. Ouch.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on October 18th, 2008 02:49 am (UTC)
It pains me that Dean feels that he has to lock the bathroom door, and brings a gun with him there.
It's sad and yet not surprising, really. Max probably seemed like a perfectly harmless kid to them as little as a day ago, and look at how that turned out. At least the gun's with Dean and the door is locked, and even though that probably wouldn't save Dean if things went bad... I just don't think he can help himself. :(