?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
06 July 2006 @ 04:40 pm
Supernatural Gen "Fireworks" Drabble-- And Never Back Down  
Title: And Never Back Down
Author: HalfshellVenus
Characters: John (Gen, Drabble)
Rating: PG
Summary: Written for the supernatural100 “Fireworks” challenge.

x-x-x-x-x

When John was a boy, he’d loved fireworks. The color and surprise and the exploding-star beauty of it was a once-a-year event-- the highlight of summer.

Post-combat, it was different. Firecrackers and whistling screamers sounded too much like bullet-fire, brought back ambushes and ground-volleys in an instant. The shattered night-turned-day was tough even from a distance, a too-close battle that would find him in the end.

He took the boys every year he could, watching their joy as he muscled down fear-sweat and nerves.

He’d be damned if he’d let this own him. Someday, he would beat it for good.


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

 
 
 
The Grammarian about whom your mother warned you.acostilow on July 6th, 2006 11:50 pm (UTC)
I can't believe I'm doing this, but I'm reading John gen.

And I like it. A lot. Because you write a John I can like and understand. Before he died, Dad could not stand the sound of helicopters. Every time he heard them, he would start to shake so badly. This John? I see my dad. And that's what makes me so angry on the show, because I see my dad, and I see how my dad could have gone wrong. And stuff.

Sorry! Rant over! Great work, I love all your stuff, amen. :D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Johnhalfshellvenus on July 7th, 2006 12:01 am (UTC)
And I like it. A lot. Because you write a John I can like and understand.
Still my hero, Athena. Every damn time.

I am so often intrigued by getting all the way inside the characters-- how they see themselves, who they are separated from other people. I like John better when he's an entity other than Sam and Dean's father (because I have an issue or two with him there. I _understand_, but I don't approve).

Before he died, Dad could not stand the sound of helicopters. Every time he heard them, he would start to shake so badly.
That makes such endless sense to me. Something beaten into you by fear for your own survival is almost impossible to ever get out again. It's tied into you not being destroyed, and that linkage becomes primally ingrained. And sadly, that's the first thing I thought of for this prompt (because I know everyone's going to write the fun fluff). For a war veteran, I can so easily see fireworks being a PTSD disaster despite all their efforts to know what those sounds/sights mean, to tell themselves it's all right, to want to get over it... and down underneath it all the subconscious is screaming "danger" at the top of its lungs. Because it WAS once. And you never forget, when it's your life.

And that's what makes me so angry on the show, because I see my dad, and I see how my dad could have gone wrong. And stuff.
But how very nice that he didn't! And I know I've hinted at this in other drabbles, but I think it's possible that much of John-- who he is, his values, his stubborness, his unflinching manner-- was born into him and made by his own father. Losing Mary was not the beginning of who John became. John's reaction to losing Mary came out of who he already was

Gah! Now I'm ranting! I'm in a fanwanky mood, clearly.

But I'm so glad this spoke to you-- and given your father's history, I can absolutely see why. ♥
(no subject) - acostilow on July 7th, 2006 12:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
getting the chocolate in the peanut butterdotfic on July 7th, 2006 12:20 am (UTC)
He took the boys every year he could, watching their joy as he muscled down fear-sweat and nerves.

I really like that line. This is a fascinating look at John and the effect of Vietnam on him. Nicely done.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Johnhalfshellvenus on July 7th, 2006 12:54 am (UTC)
I really like that line. This is a fascinating look at John and the effect of Vietnam on him. Nicely done.
Thank you! It seems so like John to want to confront a fear like this, to get the better of it while it tries to destroy him by inches.

I can't get the Vietnam aspect of John out of my head. That war is a big part of my collective unconscious, and it changed so many people forever.
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Johnhalfshellvenus on July 7th, 2006 12:58 am (UTC)
mostly because of his love for & devotion to the boys
I wish he had more of it-- more actuality than intent, because I think his intent is very clear and very much a part of who he is. But I feel he doesn't see where it falls short.

but also because his damage goes back further than Mary.
Oh, absolutely. I even suspect his upbringing set him up further to be damaged by the war (to believe in it, to possibly become disillusioned by it, but to never turn his back on his duty or his fellow men).

And this drabble could be about so many war veterans. :( Athena and I wanked on that above for awhile. But Vietnam was the turning point-- all-out guerrilla warfare with no way to tell civilians from enemies, and danger from all sides that is waiting around every corner. The Human Psyche was not designed to survive that kind of situation for long-- certainly not for even a week, let alone years. :(

Oops. /soapbox and memories. Child of the times...
Eloise: winchesterseloise_bright on July 7th, 2006 12:54 am (UTC)
He took the boys every year he could, watching their joy as he muscled down fear-sweat and nerves.

Tight.

I'm feeling the John love today, and this stokes it even more. Nice work.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Johnhalfshellvenus on July 7th, 2006 01:00 am (UTC)
I'm feeling the John love today, and this stokes it even more. Nice work.
Thank you, Eloise!

I'm on a John bender these last few weeks. I have no idea why, but he's showing up in a lot of my drabbles lately. Today, he earned his icon. :) (and a gorgeous one it is, too).
(no subject) - eloise_bright on July 7th, 2006 01:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
Pixpixel_0 on July 7th, 2006 01:31 am (UTC)
Aw. I'm so glad that you portrayed John as a good father and that, despite the horrors of battle, he was not a broken man. I like how he overcame his fears for his boys. It seems like we're always being told that the boys have to overcome their fears to remain strong in John's eyes, but I like the little twist here. Very sweet and wonderfully done. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Johnhalfshellvenus on July 7th, 2006 04:39 am (UTC)
and that, despite the horrors of battle, he was not a broken man.
His saving grace, with what he's been through, is that he faces up and perseveres no matter what. And if he has to, he will fight what's within himself. The man has guts, and he is definitely a survivor from the inside out. :)

but I like the little twist here.
Thank you! We saw glimpses of that in Devil's Trap-- that if it came down to it, he'd rather die than let that evil loose on his boys and on the world. That is a John kind of decision in a nutshell.
a rearranger of the proverbial bookshelf: Oh Papaembroiderama on July 7th, 2006 02:17 am (UTC)
Oh, John! This story has got me pondering the fireworks thing and how you don't think, when you're a kid, about the connection to combat. Actually, what's weird is that despite being born in the mid-70's I can't think of one man I knew well when I was a kid who was in the war. How odd. But that aspect of John interests me very much, and I'm working on something related to it right now.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Johnhalfshellvenus on July 7th, 2006 04:44 am (UTC)
This story has got me pondering the fireworks thing and how you don't think, when you're a kid, about the connection to combat.
I never had before, but during the fireworks over the 4th (and the illegal bottle rockets a few streets over), the sights and sounds hit me in a completely different way. I could see someone with combat experience hearing and seeing all the wrong things even in a backyard fireworks display.

But that aspect of John interests me very much, and I'm working on something related to it right now.
Vietnam defined the generation 10-5 years before me, and it lingered even through my memory (I was born in the early 60s). It never really leaves. Just looking at the difference in combat style between the Korean War and the Vietnam War, even though there have always been PTSD aftereffects, Vietnam was guaranteed to reach an all-time high just due to the terrain, the bleeding line between civilians and enemies, the moving through a dense, foreign and booby-trapped world. It's a wonder even more of our soldiers didn't die. But for the survivors... oh, the legacy it left.
Are we back to hos over bros?lissa_bear on July 7th, 2006 02:28 am (UTC)
Very nice.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Johnhalfshellvenus on July 7th, 2006 04:44 am (UTC)
Thank you, Elissa! :)
poisontaster on July 7th, 2006 03:22 am (UTC)
So funny; I almost went this same route with my drabble. Great minds, yes?

You know how I feel about your writing and I love writers who take the time to explore John as a character rather than automatically demonizing him. I can't stand fics that make John a one dimensional bully. And this is so fitting. I think John was probably afraid a lot, just like Dean, just like Sam, but I think the most valuable lesson all of them took out of the experience is to not let fear stop them from doing what they need to do.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Johnhalfshellvenus on July 7th, 2006 04:49 am (UTC)
So funny; I almost went this same route with my drabble. Great minds, yes?
:) I wasn't sure anyone hadn't already done this-- it was the first thing that came to mind, for some reason. But I thought I'd plug ahead anyway.

I can't stand fics that make John a one dimensional bully.
I'm not always happy with John, or how his choices affected Sam and Dean, but I don't see him as a bully. Rather, I think he made the choices his past shaped him to make, and that he thought were good at the time. The tragedy is more when good men inadvertantly do the wrong thing, and I think that's the case here. Those were not the best choices for children. But what context did he have to really know that, given who he was and how he came to be that?

but I think the most valuable lesson all of them took out of the experience is to not let fear stop them from doing what they need to do.
Yes! I covered this in another drabble a few weeks back. "There was no running in his blood." John may make the occasional strategic retreat, but
he faces his fears and dangers far more than most people do. He has strength of character, as do his sons.

bluesister on July 7th, 2006 03:43 am (UTC)
It makes sense that being a Marine & in Vietnam would define John after he became a hunter. And, yeah, I recognize my father's post-war triggers. Well done.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Johnhalfshellvenus on July 7th, 2006 04:51 am (UTC)
And, yeah, I recognize my father's post-war triggers.
I really feel for anyone who has been through that, aside from the combat horrors. You cannot easily shed the alarm system that kept you from being killed during the war. It becomes hard-wired into staying alive... but returns to haunt you when you least need or expect it.

Glad you liked this-- and that it rang true as well. :)
Vanzetti: john is sadvaznetti on July 7th, 2006 07:23 am (UTC)
Oh, nice look at John -- especially this line: He took the boys every year he could, watching their joy as he muscled down fear-sweat and nerves. Stubborn bastard, isn't he?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Johnhalfshellvenus on July 7th, 2006 04:52 pm (UTC)
Stubborn bastard, isn't he?
Absolutely! And yet, it has definitely helped him to survive. A lesser man would have crumbled long ago.

Stubborness is such a two-sided coin. Irritating to other people, but it can be valuable in the right place and time. :)
Queen of Sassgard: ladykillerstarhawk2005 on July 7th, 2006 11:47 am (UTC)
Awww... *hugs John* Very plausible, and very nice drabble! ;)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Johnhalfshellvenus on July 7th, 2006 04:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much, Starhawk!

Ooh, your icon both scares and intrigues me. Those devil-eyes! :0
(no subject) - starhawk2005 on July 7th, 2006 05:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Skywalker-Winchester: carmendove-snjohnfacts-scruffyanakin415 on July 15th, 2006 08:50 am (UTC)
How true that is. My dad came back from Vietnam that same way. Hes much better now but I remember when iw as younger he never enjoyed the fireworks he put up with it for me.

great piece.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Johnhalfshellvenus on July 17th, 2006 05:03 am (UTC)
Hes much better now but I remember when iw as younger he never enjoyed the fireworks he put up with it for me.

It's so nice to hear that this piece strikes the truth for many readers-- that was a guess on my part, but it seemed very reasonable. The fireworks I saw a few weeks ago really struck me from that post-war angle in a way they never had before (too much John on the brain).

It seems unfair, for a veteran to have a PTSD reaction to that traditional celebration of freedom.

But how nice that your Dad, like John here, tried not to taint that celebration for you even though it brought forth unpleasant feelings for him. The things our parents do out of love...

Thank you for your comment, anakin. :)
Killing threads since 2000 CE: John profilegwendolyngrace on July 1st, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
Awesome. Yeah, that's our boy.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Johnhalfshellvenus on July 5th, 2008 07:44 am (UTC)
John was definitely not the kind of man to run from his fears, and there's something to be said for confronting them again and again. Eventually they'll give. :)
May Robinson: John Little Deanmay7fic on July 2nd, 2008 05:10 am (UTC)
I love your sensitivity to the plight of a veteran under these circumstances. My dad's a Korean conflict vet and though I don't recall any adverse reactions to such things as fireworks, this was a man who'd watch war flicks and then have nasty, nasty nightmares so, even as a youngster, I was more sensitive/sympathetic to veterans than most of my peers.

I also love this reminder that John's history was sadly filled with trauma long before Mary's horrific death. That doesn't justify all the mistakes he's made but between that history as a young soldier and the tragedy he faced afterward, I do have a lot of sympathy for him when I try to contemplate walking a mile in his shoes, and ultimately think he deserves more slack than many are willing to give him.

This was lovely and so very poignant. For something so small to inspire us to think this much, it clearly means your job's been well done ;)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Johnhalfshellvenus on July 5th, 2008 08:10 am (UTC)
I love your sensitivity to the plight of a veteran under these circumstances.
One of the things people least understand about veterans, I think, is that behaviors that are necessary for your survival are the hardest to unlearn, and they'll ambush you every time.

this was a man who'd watch war flicks and then have nasty, nasty nightmares
The atmosphere had to bring too much back- living in fear, trying to stay alive around the clock, and seeing so many of your friends and fellow soldiers not make it... I don't think it would take much to bring that intensity back. :(

I also love this reminder that John's history was sadly filled with trauma long before Mary's horrific death.
I don't remember if you've already read it, but you might enjoy Momento Mori, which goes farther along that same theme. The whole idea of the difference even between a war you at least expect and the one you never see coming is one I keep getting drawn back into with John. It's come up in a few other drabbles as well!

I'm so glad you liked this, and that you understood so well what inspired it and all of those hidden feelings underneath. ♥
(no subject) - may7fic on July 5th, 2008 12:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
magnifica7: KITT jumpmagnifica7 on January 24th, 2011 09:17 pm (UTC)
You totally deliver with your drabbles! Many thanks! :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Johnhalfshellvenus on January 26th, 2011 06:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you! This is one of my favorites among the older ones, for how it shows the unexpected burdens of war John's drive to overcome them.