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22 May 2006 @ 10:10 pm
Supernatural Gen Fiction: We Were Soldiers Once  
Title: We Were Soldiers Once
Author: HalfshellVenus
Category: Sam and Dean (Gen)
Rating: PG
Summary: Though this be courage, it is not casual…
Author’s Notes: This title is taken from a book on Vietnam. These words have been waiting to form a story for some time now. Written for Debbie (particlesofgale)— something poetic for her birthday. Also written for the kazy25 challenge on “Weapons.”

x-x-x-x-x

We were soldiers once, and young.

Our arrows sped like watchwords in a prayer. Through flesh and phantom, armor and apparition, we struck the core of chaos buried beneath.

In the still moonlight, our swords gleamed like Truth dividing darkness. We slashed and sliced, plunged and plundered, a dangerous dance of destruction and release. We carved enemies out of mortal cloaks, freed spirits bound in bodies they once owned. Liberating, conquering and judging in turns, we cleaved the Evil from this world and sent it onward.

In stretching silence, our guns awaited battle. Brought to bear when the target was sighted, they fractured the Undead, the Unholy, the Undelivered. The power of distance— of hope— kept us safer than a warrior dares to wish for. Not unscarred and not unscathed, we hauled ourselves up and staggered away.


We were soldiers once, and young.

Our dreams are of a Peace we cannot keep. Through stealth and sacrifice, bloodshed and burning, we leave answers and quietude behind. We give resolution we never found, we bring safety to families like our own. We leave a quieter world in our wake, a space for laughter to rise up again.

In our still hearts, our mission glows like a stream of lava. It flows and surges— urging us to fight when the odds seem hopeless or all hints and leads are lost. The molten metal of our souls holds strength where others fail. We take up arms against the ancient, the unfamiliar, the beings of legend. We are brave in our beliefs… we are mortal to the marrow.

In the span of years, we leave no measure of glory. We do what we are, and we are what we do— and no other has yet called us home. We yearn for serenity, but it slips through our fingers. It is not a destination we will know.


We were soldiers once, and young.

Our corps is small but not yet broken. Through lasting love our spirits survive; with lifelong devotion we protect our own. We are twinned in our purpose, intertwined in eternity, and our aspect shall not be separated or softened.

In the still moments of our daily communion, the longings beneath our words remain. If the world— the cosmos— would let us, we would lay this burden down. A path of sunsets lies before us, out of reach but ever-glowing. We yearn to no longer be needed, to one day belong at last to ourselves.

In the distant stars, the answers yet await us. Their timeless voices speak a siren song of Soon. We press forward though our battlegrounds are shaken. Our swords are heavy, but our mettle bows for none. Together we shall fear no curse or creature. We will fight each newfound enemy as one.

We seek the riches of simplicity, the reward of lasting relief. May we know them while we both can still draw breath.



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




 
 
 
The Grammarian about whom your mother warned you.acostilow on May 23rd, 2006 05:55 am (UTC)
My.

Beautiful. Poignant. Compliment of choice.

How do you come up with this? I come up with...porn. Yeah. *is jealous*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 23rd, 2006 06:02 am (UTC)
Beautiful. Poignant. Compliment of choice.
I like these ones. *pockets them and pets them again and again*

How do you come up with this? I come up with...porn. Yeah. *is jealous*
This title, and a vague concept, have been poking in the background for awhile. With that "Weapons" challenge on the brain and the idea to write something for particlesofgale... once those first two lines came out the whole thing just sort of flowed. And then wrestled me to the ground again and again over the last part for hours until one of us emerged victorious. Hope it was me. :0

I like the style of this one-- it hits all my weaknesses/strengths depending on your viewpoint. Images, alliteration, echoing of like words-- they're running amok here.
Are we back to hos over bros?lissa_bear on May 23rd, 2006 05:56 am (UTC)
Beautifully written, and yet another perfect ending.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 23rd, 2006 06:05 am (UTC)
Beautifully written, and yet another perfect ending.
Thank you, Elissa! This ending took hours instead of *cough* weeks, but... the fight became surprisingly ugly before I settled it out.

*Sigh* It's not just the mood-- there's a whole hidden pace/meter aspect that is just all wrong until it's right. I know that sounds vague, but since your own endings are so beautiful and complete, I suspect you may know what I'm talking about.
(no subject) - lissa_bear on May 23rd, 2006 06:19 am (UTC) (Expand)
aspensnowaspensnow on May 23rd, 2006 07:15 am (UTC)
....

Wow. Just wow.

I really have no words, my brain is too busy going "OMG I like that line. No OMG I love THIS one. And OMG THAT one."

This piece sort of transcends the fandom I think.


Our dreams are of a Peace we cannot keep. Through stealth and sacrifice, bloodshed and burning, we leave answers and stillness behind. We give resolution we never found, we bring safety to families like our own. We leave a quieter world in our wake, a space for laughter to rise up again.

This part really just killed me. I read and it made me sigh and go "Yeah, that's so right."

It's sad and tragic but it reads with the serene hope of a prayer.

Wonderful job.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 23rd, 2006 08:15 pm (UTC)
I really have no words, my brain is too busy going "OMG I like that line. No OMG I love THIS one. And OMG THAT one."
This piece sort of transcends the fandom I think.

That is very heady praise indeed. Thank you!

This part really just killed me. I read and it made me sigh and go "Yeah, that's so right."
It's sad and tragic but it reads with the serene hope of a prayer.

It's like any war that must be fought. It is terrible, soul-stealing, and yet important. Their work is necessary, and also without end.

And they believe, and they return to fight again with the coming day... We ache for them, and love them because they do.

The reward is not for them, but oh-- what a difference they make.



the only blowup doll bobblehead on the internetimpertinence on May 23rd, 2006 11:03 am (UTC)
Beautiful. Just absolutely beautiful.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 23rd, 2006 08:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I've missed you lately. :) How's the web-page project going?
(no subject) - impertinence on May 24th, 2006 02:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on May 23rd, 2006 01:22 pm (UTC)
Wow. Again with the gorgeous. I just skimmed this, but Lord. I'm going to be re-reading it to get at all its layers. Like a person does with a poem, but not usually with fiction.
What a great way to start the day.
Thanks,
DC
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 23rd, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
I'm going to be re-reading it to get at all its layers. Like a person does with a poem, but not usually with fiction.
It really IS more like a poem, but if any subject called for density in meaning it seemed to be this one.

Glad you liked it-- thank you! :)
questioning in order to createtigriswolf on May 23rd, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
This is quite poetic and beautiful and magnificent.

"We were soldiers once, and young." -- did you make that up?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 23rd, 2006 10:39 pm (UTC)
This is quite poetic and beautiful and magnificent.
Thank you very much!

"We were soldiers once, and young." -- did you make that up?
No, I didn't. I don't know if it has origins in a poem somewhere, but I do know that it is the title for a book about Vietnam (slightly different punctuation).

It's been in my head for months now (that phrase is so evocative that it's hard to ignore). I've been wanting to write something to that theme for quite awhile, and once I had the first few lines yesterday the rest followed.

There is such a resigned and mournful tone to that phrase... to me, it is forms a concept in itself.
(no subject) - tigriswolf on May 23rd, 2006 11:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Same crap, different daysnow_white on May 23rd, 2006 11:50 pm (UTC)
Ohh my!This was such a beautiful piece of work, and rest assured I shall rec it at every opportunity!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 24th, 2006 12:03 am (UTC)
Ohh my!This was such a beautiful piece of work, and rest assured I shall rec it at every opportunity!
Wow. Thank you very much!

I am so glad this piece is affecting people so strongly. It certainly did me, in writing it. Our Winchester love is not just for the spooky and the pretty-- it is that necessary devotion to what destroys you that is so compelling. ♥
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 24th, 2006 03:57 am (UTC)
I can't even pick out a favorite line or two because there are so many I love. Absolutely beautiful work.
Thank you so much. That means just... everything.

I'm off to put it in memories, and to rec it at every opportunity.
Oh-- I would be so very honored. Thank you. :)
Pixpixel_0 on May 24th, 2006 02:58 am (UTC)
I know it's been said already, but I'm going to say it again: Wow. This seems like so much more than just mere fanfiction. It's beautiful and powerful in ways I can't really describe. The words are like poetry, and like I said, this one is just so beautiful.

Definitely, definitely adding this one to my memories. I know I'll want to come back for a reread.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 24th, 2006 05:34 am (UTC)
Wow. This seems like so much more than just mere fanfiction.
That is such an enormous compliment, really. It lifts my heart up completely. :)

It's beautiful and powerful in ways I can't really describe. The words are like poetry, and like I said, this one is just so beautiful.
This one IS my poetic side running wild. Prior to starting fanfic back in September, my only creative-writing in the artistic sense WAS poetry. I try not to overindulge too much in that direction, but with this particular idea-- so deep and timeless and almost universal-- that was the muse it awoke.

I always so much appreciate your kind words, Pixel-- and to be Memoried is always such an honor. Thank you. :)
(no subject) - pixel_0 on May 24th, 2006 05:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 24th, 2006 05:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pixel_0 on May 24th, 2006 05:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 24th, 2006 06:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 24th, 2006 05:43 am (UTC)
My goodness, sometimes, because of Sam & Dean's insular love and devotion, their seemingly light-heartedness w/each other it's easy to forget to what degree a lonely & desolate, unending anguish filled world our beloved boys inhabit *deep inside their skin*.
"Insular love" is a great way to describe it-- and it may be more the result than the problem. That love is the only touchstone of sanity in their lives, the only real strength they have to draw on. The danger and pain of their work is not the type of thing they can unburden themselves to others about. They alone can know, and they alone will understand.

But... but *this* absolutely gorgeous fic headily reminds us of their continued sacrifices and battles so that good may prevail another day, regardless of their personal desire(s) they march on, like ancient warriors in a chariot of shiny black steel ridding the world of evil.
I love the description in that last line. So strong and spooky all at once. And it is the essence of what they do.

I'm simply stunned and overwhelmed and so not worthy to have been given the opportunity to have this amazing piece of work in my life to read and re-read. *Thank you*.
You are so very worthy. :) I hope it made your birthday a little more special. :D *post-birthday hugs*

BTW, do I detect a slight Theban Band undercurrent running through this fic? I could be wrong, but...
No, you're not wrong. It is always underneath their mission and relationship (it showed up even more strongly in that drabble, "The Mirrored Self"). Even in a purely platonic sense, they are each other's strength and reason to survive, though they fight not for the honor of themselves and each other but instead because it must/they must/so much will be lost if they don't.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 30th, 2006 08:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
GirlOnFire: Made by carmendove (Sam genius)sacrilicious on May 27th, 2006 05:33 am (UTC)
You know what you're amazing at (well apart from everything ever)? Opening lines. I love the title/repeated line - We were soldiers once, and young. Something about the way you phrased it is just absolutely perfect.

What really struck me was the second line - Our arrows sped like watchwords in a prayer. It reads like poetry, and I love it. Your use of language in this is just strikingly beautiful. Bravo.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 27th, 2006 06:02 am (UTC)
Something about the way you phrased it is just absolutely perfect.
That one I can't take credit for-- it's the title of a book on Vietnam. But something about it-- though it isn't usual grammar-- is really striking. I have been wanting to write an SN fic to that line for months.

Our arrows sped like watchwords in a prayer. It reads like poetry, and I love it.
Once I had that line (the one that's mine), I knew I had the hook for this piece. The whole tone followed from there. And you're right-- it IS more like poetry than anything. Rather like a modern ode.

This is one of the most language-driven pieces I've ever written, and yet I like the theme as well. The Winchesters-- and their dangerous, unsung lives-- deserve nothing less.

Thank you, sacrilicious! :)
Ice-T: an actor, also a refreshing beverage: SPN Dean Tearsfiddleyoumust on May 30th, 2006 08:15 pm (UTC)
In the span of years, we leave no measure of glory. We do what we are, and we are what we do—and no other has yet called us home. We yearn for serenity, but it slips through our fingers. It is not a destination we will know.

Best paragraph of the whole darn fic. How the heck did I miss this when you put it out? Where have I been?

This is really beautiful. It's poetry. I love it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 30th, 2006 08:33 pm (UTC)
Best paragraph of the whole darn fic.
It's very stoic, isn't it? They don't do it for the appreciation or the glory (they'd be downright disappointed if they did), and there is no peaceful end in sight to any of it. Yet they soldier on, as they were meant to and as they should.

How the heck did I miss this when you put it out? Where have I been?
I think there was that eye problem going on (better now? Eyepatch gone?). I know Elissa read it ^^ back when it first came out (just last week, really).

This is really beautiful. It's poetry.
It really IS poetry. It's a kind of modern ode more than anything. Probably not broad-based in its appeal, unfortunately, but for those who like language AND Supernatural both, it really resonates.

Glad I could lure you on over! ;)
AutumnVerseautumnverse on June 4th, 2006 06:47 pm (UTC)
Oh... WOW! I am sure I am repeating all the others here, but this is poetry in its purest form, I am completely blown away.

Fiction like this needs to savored, reread and most of all admired, VERY well done!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on June 4th, 2006 10:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! It's not your usual fanfic, certainly, but I think it makes its point very strongly-- and with a visual/aural beauty as well. :)
poisontaster on June 9th, 2006 10:32 pm (UTC)
It's hard for me to figure out what to say about this. I DID read it before, and I was somewhat at a loss for words then too.

On the sun hand, I think it's a very lyrical and moving piece of prose-that-reads-like poetry. And in that sense I like it very much.

On the moon hand, I have a difficult time placing it in the context of SPN exactly because of that same lyricism. A lot of what I LIKE about SPN is that its not particularly poeticial. It's gritty and down and dirty and it has wank jokes and stupid pranks and beat up old cars.... So when you take that away, my first impulse is to shy away from calling it SPN fanfic, because it doesn't fit into that worldview for me, no matter how much I like it.

Does that make sense?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on June 9th, 2006 11:41 pm (UTC)
because it doesn't fit into that worldview for me, no matter how much I like it.
Yes, it does.

Some think it "transcends" fanfic, but on the other hand that could also be "doesn't particularly fit in with or resemble fanfic."

It is very little like a story, but for me very much about the Winchesters all the same.

So no fears-- I do get what you mean. Definitely not for everyone! :)
Jimbiny Lupin-Woodcapnjimmeh on July 3rd, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC)
Um, wow. This didn't feel like a story; it moved like a poem. It was wonderful. This is the line that particularly jumped out and grabbed me by the head: Their timeless voices speak a siren song of Soon. It grabbed me by the head and said, "Do you understand?" Oh, I understand.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on July 4th, 2006 01:56 am (UTC)
This didn't feel like a story; it moved like a poem.
It really IS more of a poem, revealing moments from the past, the now and what is hoped-for. And that will either make or break it for the reader, so I'm glad that for some it really works

It grabbed me by the head and said, "Do you understand?" Oh, I understand.
Oh, that longing for it to be ended-- peacefully-- and finally unneeded would never stop calling if your life was like the Winchesters'. As long as you know, you can't turn your back on it. Though it imperils you, destroys the depths of your soul, you cannot leave the world to its own sad Fate. That is not the Winchester way.

I'm so very glad that you liked this-- and comments thrill me no end on this one even more than most things I write. ♥

If it were a hundred years into the future, and an ode to the Winchesters were to be written... I hope it would sound something like this.