Disclaimer: I've borrowed and am now returning Sam and Dean to all those who actually are lucky enough to own Supernatural.
Summary: Dean reflects on feeling lost.
Rating: no warnings here.
Author's note: Lots of Dean Angst! Probably too much! This is set after Sam gets out of the car in the middle of the night in 'Scarecrow' but before Dean makes it to Burkitsville.
Reviews would be welcomed.
Sometimes he thought that he couldn't quite remember what it was like not to feel lost, even though he could remember the first time he'd had the feeling. It was strange because if he knew when it started, you'd think he'd remember what it felt like before.
It's very rare that he has actually been seriously lost in the sense of not knowing where he was. He was just lost inside somewhere. It hadn't started when his mom died, although it became more obvious then. The first time was when his brother was born or rather when he was waiting. He let his head drop back against the seat of the car and let the memory take over.
'Just sit here, champ, I'm going to be with Mom while the new baby comes. Pam will swing by soon, you go home and wait with her, she'll bring you back when the baby comes. Okay?' Dean nodded and watched in nervous silence as his Dad left the room. He clutched his bear a bit tighter and sat very still and waited. He'd waited a long time but Pam hadn't come.
A nurse looked in at him. 'Hey you. You waiting for your Dad?' Big eyes looked up at her and she saw him chewing his lip, thinking. 'What's up?'
'Daddy told me not to talk to strangers.'
'Well, that's right, but it's okay. I'm a nurse and I look after people right here in this hospital. So, you need anything? You've been here a long time haven't you?'
He nodded, relief showing clearly on his face, maybe they hadn't forgotten about him after all.
'Is someone looking after you?'
'I've got to be a big boy now. Mommy's having a new baby. Pam's coming to get me but it's been a long time, I think they've all forgotten about me.' The last came out as an almost conspiratorial whisper, but she could see the anxiety in his eyes.
'Shall I go find out what happened to Pam?' The sigh that came from the little body next to hers was answer enough before his trusting eyes turned to hers as he nodded enthusiastically.
Coming back to the present, Dean reflected it was the first time that it was obvious when his Dad had forgotten about the needs of his children. In the concern over getting his mom to the hospital and the excitement of waiting for Sam, he had forgotten to phone Pam to tell her to come get him and so he had sat waiting for what had seemed like forever. He'd felt lost then, not knowing what to do, he'd been told to sit and wait and so he had.
Since then, how many times had the feeling of being lost nearly overwhelmed him? How many times had it taken something really simple to trigger it? And something really simple to close the feeling down again? How much more difficult had it become as he'd grown older?
The feeling was almost constant now. He thought how foolish we all are as kids; we think adults have it made, think they have the answers when in fact they are a bigger set of neuroses than kids could ever be.
He remembered the first time the feeling had truly overwhelmed him. Not that he'd ever been able to describe it to anyone, not that he'd even realised that that was what it was.
Sitting outside a burning house, curled into Daddy's side whilst Daddy held Sammy and watching their house burn. He'd waited and waited, watched for the slightest sign that Mommy was coming out. He knew fire hurt, it was dangerous, Mommy had told him that when he'd wanted to help light the candles for Daddy's birthday cake, candles he'd chosen. But Mommy hadn't come out and eventually he'd asked Daddy where she was, why she wasn't with them and he'd got the answer that had swept his life away – she wasn't coming. Everything had changed in that moment. He'd held on that bit tighter to Daddy's arm but it hadn't really helped. He couldn't imagine life without Mommy. What would happen now? Why wasn't she coming? Who was going to look after them all? Who would tuck him in and read him stories? Why wasn't Mommy with them? Why didn't Daddy bring Mommy out like he'd brought out Sammy?
He'd spent months lost then, trying to find his way back, never quite making it. In fact, he wasn't sure he ever had made it all the way back.
The silent little boy, who used to run excitedly to the park, stood now, next to his brother's pushchair watching the other children play. 'Go on Dean. Go and play. You like the swings. Shall I give you a push?'
He continued to stand in silence, not letting go of the pushchair. If he held on tight enough then maybe… nothing could take Sammy away and if he stayed with Sammy, Daddy always came back for Sammy. He wouldn't be lost if he was near Sammy and Daddy.
'Come on Dean. Have a run around. Don't just stand there like that. You've got to do something.' He could hear the impatience in Daddy's voice, he knew Daddy just wanted him to be like he was before but he didn't know how anymore, something was missing, he'd lost something and he didn't know how to find it. 'Dean, at least say something. We've come all this way so you can play in the park and you haven't said a word all day. What do you want to play on?'
Couldn't Daddy see? He didn't want to play. He wanted Mommy back, Mommy made him feel safe. It wasn't right without her. He didn't know how to tell Daddy. Daddy got cross with other people when they talked about her. Dean didn't want him to be even more cross with him. He was trying to be a good boy like Mommy had always told him. Sammy began to cry, he bent down and looked at his brother. He looked round his little body tucked into his pushchair. There it was. He held out Bear into his brother's hands, his brother quietened down. He looked at Daddy, 'Sammy needs changing.'
'Right, again? Okay sport, you play, I'll be right back, there's changing rooms just in the bathrooms over there.'
'What? We'll only be a minute. If you don't go and play we'll go straight home again, there's no point in us being here.'
The fear had welled up and bubbled over, 'Don't leave me Daddy. I don't want to be on my own. Daddy, please.'
'For Heaven's sake, Dean. We're only going to the bathroom. We're not leaving you. I'm not leaving you. You've got to learn to be on your own sometimes like before.'
He'd wanted to tell Daddy how it wasn't like before, how Mommy had said she wouldn't leave him, but she had, how he was frightened that something would take Daddy or Sammy if he wasn't watching them closely enough, how he would be lost without them. Instead he had let go, stood still, soundless tears falling down his cheeks, whilst his Daddy took his brother to change him and when they came back, he was still standing there, silently, tear-stained face drying, lost in a fear he had no words for.
When Daddy had come back and seen Dean still standing there, he'd taken his handkerchief from his pocket and tried to clean his son's tear streaked face. 'This has to stop, Dean.' He'd been quiet, no anger evident just a sense of weariness and injustice and with that he'd taken his son's hand, put it on the side of the pushchair and they'd walked home together in silence again.
Lost. Everything changing. He hated change, still did and yet he lived a nomadic lifestyle, never in the same place for more than a few months, he found consistency in change, made consistency in the change. Dean had found a way to make his own routine out of what anyone else would see as constant variables. He approached new motels in the same way; put his things in the same place in each new room, checked out towns by looking for the diner, the grocery store, the gas station, the library – always the same things in the same order. He worked each new gig in the same way, research (names, dates, places, events, and details), library, newspapers, local gossips, site visits then back to the motel to decide on strategy, approach, weapons before he carried out the specifics of any particular job. That way he convinced himself that no matter how different each job was, it was nothing new. He hated change, whenever did change bring about something good?
'Here we go, Dean. We're gonna stay here for a while, so this is going to be your new school.' Dean had looked at his father. He didn't want a new school, the old one had done just fine, but Dad had moved them across the country again. He hated it every time they moved, every time he had to make new friends, get used to new teachers, catch up on missed work, explain to new people who he was and answer questions about his family again. He never told his Dad any of that, never told anyone that. He remembered when he was little, he used to tell his bear everything that he couldn't tell Mom and Dad but his bear was Sammy's now and he was too old for toys.
Dad had dropped him at school that morning and he'd stayed with his new teacher until school had started, but it was recess now and he was stood at the side of the playground watching the other kids play. He remembered when he used to enjoy joining in, having friends but it got harder each time they moved, it probably wasn't worth making friends, Dad's 'a while' might be a semester if they were lucky, it was unlikely to be much longer than that.
He looked round the playground again. He hated the feeling of being alone, lost in a welter of bodies, unimportant, insignificant. He'd be glad when the whistle went and they could go back to class. It was easier to handle the class, less people and the teacher was kind, she seemed nice and she smiled a lot.
He sometimes wondered if other people felt this way. Did Dad or Sam have these lost feelings or was it just him? He knew he was different, different to other people and different to the remains of his family. Dad saw him as a soldier, someone to order around but he didn't feel like that inside, he tried to act that way, tried to please Dad and make him proud but somehow, he was never quite good enough. Sam saw him as pathetic, following Dad's orders, never questioning, not demanding anything that he wanted.
He remembered when Sammy became Sam, grew up, changed and left for the first time.
Bag slung over his shoulder, the sound of his final argument with Dad echoing in his ears, Dean a silent shadow at his side, Sam had left the house without looking back. 'It's okay dude. I don't need you to walk to the station with me.'
Dean shrugged and carried on walking, matching his brother stride for stride. 'Dean. Say something. You've been quiet for days.'
He'd blinked and then stared at his brother, 'What do you want me to say?'
'I don't know Dean. Maybe I want you to say what you think. Maybe I want you to say what you feel, I don't know. You tell me, what do you want to tell me?'
He'd looked away, he needed time to think. He'd been thinking for days, weeks, months, ever since Sam had first told him he was leaving and he hadn't worked out what to say yet and his time was almost up. He wanted to shout and scream 'don't leave me here, Sam. I need you, I'm supposed to look after you and if you aren't here I can't do it. If you're not here, I don't know who I am, I'm lost' but that wasn't fair on Sam so he didn't say it.
They were at the bus station now and the bus was there, it was his last chance to say something 'Sam…?' Sam turned from his movement to get on the bus, sad eyes watching as he struggled to get the words out, not what he wanted to say, but what Sam needed him to say…'Be careful. Take care and you'll do well, I know you will. And here…' with the final thrust of the last of his money into his little brother's hand, Dean had turned to leave.
'Dean, stop.' He did. He didn't turn, couldn't turn, couldn't let his brother see his glistening eyes, risk him seeing the truth. 'Dean, I'm sorry it's like this but it's for the best. Everything will be fine soon, you'll be fine soon, you don't need me under your feet all the time.' Dean shook his head denying what he was hearing but still not turning. 'Dean, I will do well, because you're right, you taught me how to do my best, it'll be fine and thanks for this. I'll see you.' Dean nods silently and listens as Sam's footsteps move away and get on the bus. He stands still as the door closes and the bus pulls away, turns to watch it leave taking Sam away from him
Maybe Sam was right, he was pathetic, lost inside somewhere, frightened to question Dad's orders in case Dad shut him out like he'd done with Sam, frightened he wouldn't be able to find a way back in, lose his tenuous footing of almost acceptance, almost good enough. Without Dad, what did he have? Sam left for Stanford, Sam left again now, even if he came back he wouldn't stay, he couldn't stay. Where did that leave Dean? Lost. Lost alone in a wilderness inside himself, looking at who he really was.
He walked into the bar and grabbed a spot in sight of the bartender, ordered a drink and settled back to look round. He turned on the smile, the charm, the smooth talking when he saw the young woman. She looked good. He wouldn't mind spending a bit of time with her, holding back the darkness, the loneliness for a while.
It hadn't taken long to win her over, a few jokes, some gentle flattery, a few drinks. They'd spent a pleasant evening in the bar wiling away the hours and when it came time to leave, she'd invited him back and he'd gone. A few more hours' company, delaying the inevitable, he knew what would follow. It had hit him in the early hours of the morning as he'd lain by her side as she slept. Utter desperation, desolation. He didn't want to be alone, lost in a world that made no sense, but he couldn't have this, it wasn't real. He got up and left her bed, left her sleeping, dressed and crept out into the night, alone again.
He'd felt better since Sam had been back. It was like Sam being there was something to hold onto, something that held back the feeling of being lost. It didn't go, he could still feel it creeping round the edges of Sam, trying to get at him, but the bits that got through he could deal with. But now, Sam had gone again, left him so he could go and join Dad, left Dean to be Dad's good little soldier. On his own again, alone. Lost.
It wasn't how he wanted it to be. Sam was right, Sam had done the right thing, he'd kicked back, revolted against their life and forged a new one and he was strong enough to do it again. He would get over Jess' death, it would always be there with him, inside him, shaping him but he would rebuild his life, make it into something worth while because Dean knew Sam was strong.
Dean couldn't do that. He tried with Cassie but look where that had ended both times. She'd rejected him, the first time believing he was a nut, the second time not willing to wait, to support, he couldn't be Dean the hunter and have Cassie, he couldn't have his family and be with her and so she'd told him to go and not come back. She'd moved on leaving another part of him lost.
Sam had gone to Stanford and Dean hadn't known what to do with himself. He was supposed to look out for his brother, which was what Dad had told him to do and Mom when he was small. It was a promise he'd intended to keep forever but then Sammy had left and Dean the protector was lost without a focus, a purpose. He'd found him again, they'd been together again; it had been better than being alone, not like before but better than nothing. Then tonight, Sam had stopped the car, announced he'd had enough, called Dean pathetic, taken his bag and left, in the middle of nowhere. Dean had got out too, tried to make him stop and stay by shouting, calling him selfish, threatening to leave his sorry ass, all the time screaming inside silently 'Sammy stay with me. I'm lost without you.' Fighting the urge to beg, to crawl on his knees to his brother, prove to his brother just how pathetic he really was, but instead he'd summoned the last of his dignity, got back in the car and driven away.
Here he was now, half an hour down the road, alone, lost and tossing up driving back to see if he can find Sam and apologise, try to make up for a lifetime. He can't do it though. If he does, they'll all know who he really is. A shadow of who he pretends to be, lost somewhere inside.
Author's Note: Hope you enjoyed it. If you did, please review. If you can think of improvements, please review too. Thanks for taking the time to read.