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31 December 2009 @ 12:56 am
SPN Gen Fiction: "To The Battlefield In Borrowed Armor" (PG-13)  
Title: To The Battlefied In Borrowed Armor
Author: HalfshellVenus
Characters: Dean, John (Gen)
Rating: PG-13
Summary (Pre-Series): The first time Dean went on a solo hunt was eight months after Sam left for Stanford.
Author's Notes: For my switch_25 table ("Strength") and writers_choice ("Independence").

x-x-x-x-x

The first time Dad sent Dean on a solo hunt was eight months after Sam left for Stanford.

"It's time you learned how to handle this on your own, start to finish." They were in West Virginia then, about to take on a Litikwat demon when reports of a vengeful spirit in Columbus came through. "The drive isn't too far, and we've done enough salt-and-burn operations that this should be second-nature. You take the car, I'll stay here and work this other case."

Dean drove to Ohio in a daze. He'd never really been alone before—even when Dad had been gone for days or weeks on a hunt, Dean had always looked after Sam. Now with Sam at college, the atmosphere in the car, on the job, and in motels was a little weird compared to before, but at least Dad was there.

Dean wondered whether this trip was really for his benefit, or whether his father had just gotten sick of constantly having him around. He disagreed, regardless—family should always be there, and having someone to watch your back just made sense if you wanted everyone to survive.

In Columbus, Dean headed straight for Union Cemetery to look for Jack McCabe's grave. He located it by four-thirty, left to get an early dinner from a McDonald's drive-through, and came back after dark with a shovel. By ten o'clock there was nothing left of McCabe but ashes, and Dean was back on the road. He arrived in Moundsville well before one a.m. and went straight to the motel room his father had secured when they first came to West Virginia. The sound of familiar snoring greeted Dean as he opened the door, and his flashlight found Dad's journal on the table and the room's two beds, one occupied and one empty. Dean's relief was overwhelming, and all of the nervousness he'd held in emptied out in a rush that left him exhausted. He stumbled into bed and fell asleep within minutes.

His next solo job came up a month later, with a banshee in St. David's. Dad dropped him off on the way to a demon possession in Las Vegas. Dean didn't like being left behind, and not having the car made it worse—he'd spent too much of his childhood waiting for his father to come back, worried that his Dad had gotten sick of all the responsibility or finally met an enemy he couldn't defeat.

Dean found the banshee on the first day, and destroyed it. Then he was stuck hanging around town until Dad finished his job. Eating out alone was just too weird—Dean got most of his meals at grocery stores and fast-food places, and even then being by himself made him feel so exposed. He hated that it even mattered—seriously, what the hell? It had ever bothered him before…

Still, he holed up in his motel room and watched TV to make the time go faster while he wondered whether Sam was getting along without them and why Dad was taking so damn long. At night, he left the TV going in the background just to cover up the silence so he could sleep.

It was four days before Dad finally came through town. Dean rushed to the door as soon as he heard the car in the parking lot, like he was ten all over again and he and Sam had been left alone for the weekend. But Dad only nodded at him as he came in to use the bathroom before Dean checked out. That keyed-up feeling in Dean's chest collapsed into something else.

He was an afterthought, an obligation, already forgotten.

They rode south the rest of the day in near-silence. Dean could have talked a blue streak with all the emotions churning inside him, but he knew Dad hated nervous chatter. He forced himself to keep quiet instead.

In California, Dad had Dean research ghosts in Bakersfield while he went on to another job in San Francisco. They hadn't seen Sam since he headed off to Stanford—hadn't gone anywhere near him—and of all the times to leave Dean behind…

Part of Dean said it was deliberate, that his father didn't want him risking the temptation of seeing Sam again. Another part said Dad was being a controlling asshole, that he wanted to make sure Sam stayed lonely and that there'd be no chance for Sam's negative influence to rub off on Dean.

When Dad got back, he didn't mention Sam or Palo Alto or any of the things Dean desperately wanted to know about, and by then Dean knew better than to ask.

The next time Dean worked a job on his own, he grabbed dinner at a bar and met a black-haired woman with a persuasive smile. He took her back to his motel room and let her ride the emptiness out of him. Lying there afterward, surrounded by the scent of her hair and the sound of her breathing, Dean could almost believe he was there by choice.

He found someone different the next night, and the one after that. No promises or expectations, just a little fun to pass the time. It helped fill up the edges of all that space, all that waiting. Sometimes—as the months went on and Dad sent him away on his own again—Dean thought it was the only thing that could.

"I've got a job for you," Dad would say, and Dean choked his protests down. He always did what his father asked, but he didn't like it. Maybe he never would.

He couldn't argue with the results. He was a better hunter now, and damn good at doing the legwork on his own.

But it still seemed like Dad was preparing him for something, and whatever it was couldn't possibly be good.

Dean hoped to God the day would never come when he'd find out exactly what.


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gunznammo2gunznammo2 on December 31st, 2009 11:34 pm (UTC)
Poor Dean. This is just another aspect of his family being torn apart. He had to find a way to deal with that. He did the best he could until he could get his family united again. It's why I fell in love with this character - his love for his family and his need to keep his family intact.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on January 1st, 2010 03:30 am (UTC)
It's why I fell in love with this character - his love for his family and his need to keep his family intact.
Me too. As a Hunter, he's 100% awesomeness. As a person, he's kind of a pig at times (especially where women are concerned), but his love for his family (and the deeper layers under that bravado surface) make all the difference in the world.
realpestilencerealpestilence on January 1st, 2010 01:07 pm (UTC)
Dean is a mix of "knows better" and "knows better and doesn't care" and "really *doesn't* know better", in how he is around other people, especially women. Anyone with the ability to love that deeply is worth the time you might need to put in to train him a bit...and considering how socially isolated he's been, more so than Sam or John, imo, it's not surprising he's off-kilter, you know? He's had more of a pseudo-military upbringing, with just enough memories of home/safety/mommy/loss to drive him; but without the stability to know how to form new bonds. Toss in the nomad lifestyle and...yeah, screwed up.

The differences between Sam and Dean, and *why* they're there fascinate me. The fact that Sam doesn't remember Mary, so he doesn't have that loss/drive like his dad and brother do, actually works in his favor. He learned enough about hunting to be capable and dangerous, when he *wants* to be, but not enough of the lifestyle to be as obsessed about it all...until he loses Dean. Dean is Sam's Mary, and isn't *that* enlightening about the dynamics in this broken family? (and when I say that, I'm not even shipping them, necessarily; just referring to the depths of devotion there)

I don't even know what I'm trying to say, lol. I just got up and saw this wonderful ficlet by you on my page and thought...don't normally get into gen but it's venus, soooo...:D

Lovely, as always.

Edited at 2010-01-01 01:10 pm (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on January 1st, 2010 08:42 pm (UTC)
Dean is a mix of "knows better" and "knows better and doesn't care" and "really *doesn't* know better", in how he is around other people, especially women.
:D It's so true! There are times when he's truly clueless, but more often he simply chooses to ignore the path of "wisdom," let us say. ;)

And I agree with you entirely about the differences between Sam and Dean. I've always thought that Dean's losing Mary (and the shocking change in the family's before and after lifestyle) caused unbelievable damage to him that he in many ways worked to spare Sam from. Sam, of course, had it both easier (never knowing what he'd lost) and harder (being less 'prone to please' than Dean, and therefore more often a recipient of John's disapproval-- the outsider in his own family).

I've said for years that Dean was more of a mother to Sam (especially with regard to support and unconditional love) than a father, but that people take that the wrong way and start ranting about apron-wearing Dean baking cookies. *eye roll* But spiritually, Dean knew what it was to have a mother and to lose one, and I think much of the void he tried to fill for Sam was the absence of Mary. The fact that Sam was confident enough to rebel, to believe he could make his own destiny, and to have a loving relationship outside his family, says that what Dean did mattered. It's just too bad he couldn't rescue himself.

*koff* I could really go on in all different directions when it comes to the Winchesters and their psyches, which is what drew me into the show in the first place. I'm so sorry that the show has moved on into (for me) less interesting territory), because the original focus on the family dynamic was rich and fascinating enough to turn over and discuss forever.

And thanks for reading, though it was indeed Gen!
realpestilencerealpestilence on January 2nd, 2010 04:14 am (UTC)
Dean very much *is* the wife/mother of the family. Which probably contributes to his problems with women, now I think of it, added to his pretty-boy looks as a kid...let's disregard the boy they picked as young!Dean and picture young!Jensen in the kind of situations he'd have been dragged into via John and uh-huh, defensive, who?

But Dean's the one who supports John damn near unconditionally all his life, because that's his "job". Once he got old enough, he took care of Sam physically; and, in his own rough way, emotionally, as much as he could. Nags him to eat and sleep (and get laid, 'cause that's healthy, too). He tries so hard.

I like Sam and John, but there's something about Dean that makes my heart cry, you know? I can see that poor little lost boy peering out from behind his eyes, all too often. D: