Summary: The first (and last) words of Dean Winchester
Disclaimer: Nope. Still don't own Supernatural, or Jensen Ackles, or Jared Padalecki. Dammit.
Author's Notes: So this is a one-shot, no real spoilers as long as you know what the show is about or seen the pilot. Title is in no way related to the John Wayne movie. This is sort of a Wee-Chester fic with switching POV.
"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them."
-Henry David Thoreau
Dean is not a quiet baby.
Mary's mother calls Dean fussy, and that's not exactly right. Dean's not so much fussy as confident in what he wants. Whether it's Mary or John or getting something to eat, Dean knows what he needs and isn't above yelling to get it.
He cries too, and frequently, but he also likes to laugh, and nobody cares how "fussy" he is when he waves his arms around and giggles. It's impossible for John to watch Dean smile and not smile himself—it's easy to say that all babies are cute, but John knows that his son puts all those other chubby infants to shame.
So Dean yells and he cries and he laughs and gurgles—he makes garbled, nonsense sounds that echo nothing John's ever heard—but through all the noise that Dean manages to make, he can't seem to formulate words, not even baby words like "da-da" or "ma-ma". Dean communicates, all right, but he isn't actually talking, and John begins to worry that there might be something wrong with his son.
John chews on this thought silently for two weeks before finally confiding, reluctantly, in Mary.
Mary just shrugs at him. "He'll talk when he's ready," she says, and John wants to snap at her for being so infuriatingly calm all of the time. He's actually opening his mouth to say something when he notices how firmly Mary's folding the sheets, small, delicate hands practically pounding in wrinkles instead of calmly and gently smoothing out folds.
John doesn't know when he got the idea that only he worried about Dean, but it's a stupid thought for all kinds of reasons, and John shuts his mouth before he ends up sleeping on the couch.
Three weeks later, John is sitting on that couch, swearing as the Chiefs lose and lose but badly, and Mary is in the kitchen, cooking something for dinner, when Dean suddenly slips on the kitchen tile. He tries to regain his balance, flails, and manages to slam his hand into the side of a chair. Dean looks at his hand for a moment in wonder. Then he promptly starts to cry.
Dean's first words in this life are, "Ma-ma! Fuh! Fuh!" He holds out his hand for his mother's inspection, wailing the entire time.
Mary looks at John and John looks at Mary and they're both so relieved that they start laughing. Dean frowns, unhappy with this amusement at his expense, until Mary picks him up in her arms, and he starts to smile too. Mary kisses Dean on the forehead and looks over his tousled blond hair to smirk at her husband.
"I'm in a good enough mood right now," she says, "to pretend that fuh fuh means father."
John blinks innocently, or tries to. "What else would it mean?" he asks. Then the Chiefs give up another touchdown. "Fuck!" he swears.
Mary just raises her eyebrows at him and takes Dean into the other room to change him.
"Exactly," she says, over her shoulder.
Dean was not a quiet baby. But he is a quiet child.
Quiet, John decides, is an understatement of massive fucking proportions. Dean isn't quiet; he's silent, he's a godamned fucking mute. It's been almost a year since his mother died, and Dean hasn't said a word to anybody. John even considers taking him to a headshrinker, but he's worried that any inkblots will remind Dean of demons.
John talks to him. John pleads with him. John even tries to order him, but Dean will not be ordered. At least, not when it comes to speaking.
Sometimes, late at night, Dean will dream deep and wake up crying. John used to try to get Dean to confide in him, but now he no longer bothers. Instead, he picks up his son and holds him close within his arms, careful to keep his own breathing as calm and regular as he can. John can always feel Dean's heart beating hummingbird fast within his chest, so he tells his son not to talk but to listen, listen carefully to John's own heart beat. Thumpthumpthumpthump becomes thump . . . thump . . . thump . . . thump, and for a minute, just a minute, John and Dean lie there, breathing as one.
Usually, John is up before the nightmares wake Dean, but sometimes Dean wakes up first and finds his own way to his father's bed. Dean will touch him on the arm, gently; it doesn't take much to wake John these days. (Not that it ever really did, John thinks sourly—when he was a kid, it was listening for his father, stumbling drunk in the downstairs kitchen; when he was a marine, it was listening for the enemy, careful footsteps in the jungle night. Now, after Mary, it's listening for monsters, and maybe that's not so different. John's still on the ready, on the move, always waiting for the attack.) John will wake up and Dean will be standing there, asking for comfort silently with his eyes.
John wishes that Dean could ask that with his voice, or, better yet, know that he never has to ask permission at all. But Dean won't speak, so John just holds him, and they wait out the darkness for the security of a new dawn.
November 2nd, 1984, and it's the day that just will not fucking end. He knows his boys need him, need him to be there and to be strong, but he also knows he needs a drink in the worst possible way. So he tucks the boys in early and finds himself in a bar with cheap whiskey and even cheaper women . . . not that he bothers with them. He's only there for the liquid reprieve.
He doesn't remember how many shots he has or the brawl he manages to start or even nearly getting the cops called on him. He doesn't remember any of that. He does remember stumbling into the motel and falling onto the floor as he tries to climb into his bed. He figures he'll get up just as soon as the room stops spinning around him, but the room spins him into darkness and he doesn't remember what comes next.
He doesn't remember anything at all until there are hands on his arms, frantically shaking him around as if he's a can of sodapop waiting to be armed. He grunts and tries to slide away (he doesn't know what's trying to kill him but, at this point, he doesn't really care) and it's not until he hears Dean's voice that he realizes where he is.
John blearily opens his eyes and there is his son, pale and sweating above him. "Daddy, Daddy," Dean is saying. "Daddy, please wake up, please, don't be dead, don't be dead, Daddy, please, please, please wake up, Daddy. Don't be dead. Don't be dead."
John's still drunk, sort of, but he's also sober enough to realize that his son is actually speaking to him, that his first word after Mary is daddy. He pulls Dean into his arms, holding him close against his chest.
A year-long dam is broken.
"Daddy, I had a bad dream, I had a bad dream, and I came over but you didn't wake up, and I touched your arm and you didn't wake up and you're supposed to wake up, Daddy, but you didn't so I touched you again and you didn't wake up and I tried to move you and you didn't wake up and I thought you were dead I thought you were dead and you didn't wake up you didn't wake up and I thought you were dead and don't be dead, Daddy, please, please, don't be dead, please don't die, cause you wouldn't wake up and I thought, I thought, I thought—"
Dean breaks down into sobs and John rocks him back and forth, gently, not just for his son's sake but because he's afraid his own head might fucking explode. John whispers, "I'm not dead. I'm not leaving. I won't ever leave you, Dean."
And Dean sobs against him and John holds Dean until they're both calm and breathing as one again.
Dean is not a quiet man. And yet he is. In a way.
He likes to talk about women. He likes to do a whole lot more than just talk about women. He likes to boast and brag and swear, and he loves, just loves,to make his brother swear.
He likes talking about what's important, what they need for the hunt, what needs to be worked on in the Impala. And he doesn't like talking about what's important: how he feels about what's happened, who's died and who's gonna cry about it. He loves to be silent and just listen sometimes, to the purr of the engine and to his brother laugh. He needs to be silent and just listen sometimes, to let the music completely obliterate all thought.
The day Dean dies, he desperately needs to speak, but there are too many words to be said. There's just too many words to be said and far too much blood in his throat.
"Fuck," he tries to say, and is sure it comes out a lot more like fuh. Fuh. Fuh. This is a real fuhed up situation we're in.
He got the bad guy. That's good. He saved Sammy from being impaled. But he's dying and the Demon's still out there and who's gonna save Sammy when he's gone?
So on one hand, he wins, but on the other, he loses.
Story of his life, really.
Sam's saying things like, "It's okay," and, "Help's coming," and, "You're going to be just fine." He's smiling and crying at the same time and Dean already knows what that means.
Dean wants to say he's sorry. Sorry that he's leaving, that he's not strong enough to hold on. Sorry that he can't save his brother from every demon. Sorry that he couldn't be big brother forever. He wants to tell Sam that he forgives him, for going to Stanford and leaving him behind. He wants to tell Sam to go back, to live a normal life and just move on.
He wants to say, "Be happy. Be happy wherever you are."
He wants to say, "I'll be waiting. If there's anything after . . . I'll wait for you."
Dean wants to say these things but now there's more blood outside than in.
Dean says, "Sammy," and everything stops.
Dean's last word is, "Sammy," and then Dean stops.
Dean's death is quiet. His awakening is not.
He's always been a light sleeper. When he was a kid, it was listening for monsters and, sometimes, fathers, stumbling around in the dark. Either way, it doesn't matter; Dean has been trained too well to be caught off guard. He's always on the ready, always waiting for the attack.
This time it's Sammy's voice pulling him into awareness, Sammy talking about their childhood, Sammy all remember that? Remember that time, man? and please wake up, Dean. It's time to wake up now. It's Sammy talking and crying and praying and Sammy all I'll do anything if you save him. It's Sammy until Dean opens his eyes and wishes like hell he'd kept them closed.
It's Dean trying to say Sammy's name only to discover there's a tube down his throat.
It's Dean not being able to breathe and Sammy screaming at the top of his lungs.
There are doctors trying to explain about ventilators, nurses trying to get his attention. There's, "Calm down," and "Dean," and "Are you ready, Mr. Winchester?" and a scary, sucking noise when the tube is pulled out.
There's darkness then, darkness for awhile, but the quiet he desires never comes. Instead he dreams of his mother screaming on the ceiling, and everything is just loud and louder and non-stop.
When Dean wakes up for the second time after dying, the room is empty except for a sleeping Sam.
Dean pushes himself up into a sitting position and touches Sam gently on the arm. Sam's head shoots up so fast he nearly falls off the chair.
It's funny and Dean wants to laugh but laughter hurts so he does nothing. Instead he stares at Sam and Sam stares at him. Dean touches his brother's hand.
The dam breaks.
"Dean? Dean, man, you're awake, are you—how, how are you? How you do feel? I mean, I know, I know, that's a stupid question, here you are, lying in a hospital, almost died, did die, but—Dean? Do you know, do you know where we are? I mean, other than the fact that I just told you, do you know—do you know who I am? Dean? Do you—are you—are you okay? Dean? Dean?"
Dean opens his mouth. It's dry, so it takes him a second to speak. His first words after dying are, "Sammy. Man, you really look like shit."
Sam stares at him, gapes, really, like a fish just out of water, and then he's laughing and crying at the same time, and Dean already knows what that means. "Dean, man, it was so close. We barely made it here in time. You were dead, you know, they said you were dead, legally dead for over four minutes, and I thought you weren't coming back, you know, I thought, I thought, I thought—"
Now Sam's sobbing, just sobbing, and Dean pulls him into his arms as best he can.
"It's okay, little brother," he says, and for a minute, they breathe as one.
Author's Notes: Reviews make the world go round. Or they just make me happy. You know. Whatever.