Pairing: Sam and Dean (Gen)
Summary: The way Sam sees him is almost nothing like the Dean inside...
Author's Notes: This was taken from the “Stories I Never Wrote You” Meme. The short summary was this: Supernatural, Dean’s POV: This is what he looks like to Sam: Invincible and Imperturbable. He is strong, confident, carelessly sarcastic. There is nothing that can daunt him—nothing that leaves its mark.
Inside, he is nowhere near unbreakable. His brother no longer needs him, and his father couldn’t stand to stay. He is one thin thread away from collapsing from his heartbreak, but he has work to do and their mission never ends. Sam may mock him, but Dean knows he still expects him to soldier on. The longer first draft of this was written for 60_minute_fics, for the trigger of "Empty Soul."
In Sam’s eyes, he is invincible. Imperturbable.
Dean appears strong, confident, carelessly sarcastic. There is nothing that can daunt him—nothing that leaves its mark.
It’s not a complete lie, this mask he puts on for the world. Dean is all those things in turn. He is both a fighter and a strategist, skilled and never stupid when the choices mean someone’s life. His confidence has been earned, through experience, through battles… through blood. He is good at what he does, and he has a long line of survivors to show for it.
The humor—and its bite—are for survival. Some part of the laughing little boy Dean once was is still buried inside him now. He still enjoys good times and a good laugh, and a chance to chase the seriousness away. And if he reaches for that panacea at the wrong time, to ward off pessimism or any lingering feelings of doubt, who can blame him? Without gallows humor, no-one keeps their sanity in a job like this.
He's more easygoing than Sam, less bothered about almost everything. He loses no sleep over the Winchester lifestyle, because what they do doesn’t worry him. It’s when they fail that Dean takes it to heart. When that happens, he says very little. He broods publicly and privately, but Sam rarely notices that Dean’s behavior is rooted in something real. To Sam, that silence is just one of Dean’s moods.
But inside, Dean is not quite who Sam thinks he is.
Dean is nowhere near unbreakable.
Dean is full of unvoiced thoughts and late-night agony, and he struggles to keep every emotion he has from showing in his eyes. His insecurities, his pain, are an open book that no-one cares to read. Half of knowing that drives him to hide it, while the other half lives in fear of having it revealed.
His brother no longer needs him, and his father couldn’t stand to stay. So what’s left of him now, with the way things are?
He is what he does, and what he does makes a difference. But most of his success is a secret even from the people he helps.
Dean's looks get him all kinds of attention. He welcomes that and despises it all at once. He’s no good at talking to women—a perpetual stream of bad pickup-lines just tumbles out of his mouth—and yet they latch onto him, take him for a spin. And it’s not that he doesn’t enjoy that, because god-- so totally what he’s after. But they don’t know him, and the only ones who want to know him are lost in a white knight fairytale he can’t stick around to fulfill. He arrives a stranger, leaves a stranger. A lot of it’s his own fault, but the fact that he gets away with it says something both about him and the way those women regard him. He’s an opportunity—and that’s where it ends. There’s nothing more to him than fulfilling someone’s fantasy, regardless of what kind it is.
Dean thinks everyone can see that. Even Sam and Dad treat him like he’s just some guy they joined up with that they’ll keep only as long as it suits them. Dean raised Sam, loved Sam, and he got four years of distance for it in return. When they fight, there’s more to it than just being brothers. Sam’s been on the verge of leaving ever since he came back, and Dean can’t stop pushing at him to force Sam’s rejection up to the surface. It feels inevitable—god, does it ever—and there are days Dean’s just itching to get it over with.
Though he is his father’s son—obedient and committed-- he is rarely entrusted with an opinion of his own. The more John overrides him, the more Dean asks whether his ideas and input just have no value. He is not entirely a man, in the eyes of his father. And it keeps him from being one inside himself.
Deep down, he’s afraid he’s shallow and that everyone knows it. His pain escapes his family’s notice—maybe because it just doesn’t matter that much. His happiness is short-lived. Anything lasting is tied to the security and closeness his family will not give him. If Dean ever says he’s happy, it means he’s as content as he dares to hope for. Transient pleasures are all he has left— permanence isn’t something Sam and John are prepared to give.
Dean and Sam cross the country now, pursuing leads and trouble and danger. They are more coldly efficient than ever, and Dean might be starting to enjoy his work too much. There is no completion in his life that doesn’t involve banishing or killing something. He looks forward to those moments more than he should.
Though Sam rides beside him, his brother remains distant enough to keep from knowing Dean too well. And Dean remembers that it was never like this, this inertia between them. He worries that Sam will never love him like he did when things were simple, that Sam will disappear out of his life all over again.
Inside, there is little of Dean still left. There is duty and darkness, there is the countdown to abandonment. There is the knowledge that Sam and John will leave him, because history repeats itself and no-one stays for Dean.
He is one thin thread away from collapsing from his heartbreak, but he is not allowed feeling or self-pity or time to grieve.
He has work to do and their mission never ends. And Sam may mock him—for being that unfeeling devil-may-care gunslinger—but Dean has never been allowed to be anyone else.
It is all expectations and rarely forgiveness. And Dean knows that even Sam still expects him to soldier on.
------ fin ------