Title: Hold Fast to Dreams
Rating: PG, a teensy bit of mild language
Spoilers: Vague mentions of events and lines from Seasons 1 and 2, Pilot to AHBL Part 2.
Summary: Dean's always had dreams.
Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own the Winchesters, no matter how much I may want to.
Author's Note: Title refers to this line by Langston Hughes: "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." The titles of each section refer to characters and gods from Greek Myth. This is the longest Supernatural piece I've written. I hope you enjoy.
When Dean was little, before the fire, he wanted to be his daddy.
Daddy had a toolbox with big wrenches and hammers and screws all of different sizes and shapes.
Dean had a toolbox too, but it had a red wrench, a blue hammer, and screws of only one size, all made of plastic. He wanted one just like Daddy's, but Mommy said he wasn't big enough yet. So Dean ate all his vegetables, even the green ones, and drank all his milk because he wanted to be big enough fast.
Daddy had lots of other things that Dean wanted too.
He was big and strong and Dean had to bend his neck back really far to look up at him. Sometimes if he held his neck back too long, it started to hurt, but Dean kept on looking, up and up, wishing, one day, he would be as tall.
Daddy had Mommy, too. He made sure to share her, but sometimes Daddy wanted her all to himself and Dean had to go to bed early and wasn't allowed to come into their room at all.
He wanted to grow up and be Daddy because Daddy had Mommy and Mommy loved him best.
He would share Mommy with Daddy, just like Daddy did with him, because Mommy should never be alone.
Dean dreamed of being Daddy and protecting Mommy and Sammy and none of them ever being alone.
After the fire, Dean dreamed of being a fireman. They wore big yellow suits and hard red helmets and went into burning buildings to save people.
They were there the night of the fire, driving a big red truck that looked huge parked next to the Impala.
They stood outside on Mommy's lawn that Daddy mowed, stepping on her flowers. Whenever Dean did that, Mommy got mad, and now, watching the pink petals crushed under the firemen's big black boots, Dean understood why.
They had long hoses that shot out tons of water and Dean stared as the water battled the flames that were trapping Mommy inside.
The flames were winning and two firemen went in and Dean stared harder and harder.
Daddy had come out without Mommy and he loved her. He wasn't sure what these firemen could do.
When the water beat the flames and the firemen came out without Mommy, Dean decided.
Before Daddy told him about evil things and spirits and the demon that killed Mommy, Dean decided to be a fireman and promised to make sure all mommies escaped burning buildings so daddies didn't stare at ceilings screaming their names.
When Dean was five, he watched Daddy salt and burn a skeleton for the first time.
Daddy parked the Impala on the street near the grave and went to work digging up the coffin.
Dean watched through the window, his knees pushing into the seat's worn leather. Sammy slept in his car seat, his steady sucking on his pacifier the only sound filling the car.
Dean stared as Daddy dug more and more, eventually disappearing into the ground. When he climbed out, he pulled out the container of salt and sprinkled it over the hole.
The match was next and the bright flames lit up the dark sky.
Daddy stood above the open grave, the burning match in his hand. Watching Daddy hold flames in his hand and not even flinch, Dean thought that Daddy was better than a fireman. Daddy used fire, controlled it, to save people. And he didn't even have a suit.
Daddy had told Dean about evil, supernatural things and how one of them had got Mommy. Daddy had said that they had to hunt the thing that killed her and now Dean got it.
Something bad had gotten Mommy, had taken her away from them. It wasn't the fire; it was something they could touch, could make understand how much it hurts.
Dean checked on Sammy, then quietly got out of the car, stopping next to Dad.
"Dean?" Dad asked.
Dean looked up at Dad, bending his neck back.
"I want to help."
Dad handed him the salt canister. Dean held onto it like a fire hose.
After Fort Douglas, Sam and Dean spent four months at Pastor Jim's. Dad stopped in between hunts, never for more than 4 or 5 days at a time, and Dean knew it was his fault.
Sammy was in heaven. Pastor Jim had all kinds of books and a lake close by and Sammy finally had some way to burn his excess energy.
Dean stayed close by, watching his every move and stopping him from climbing the trees more than a few times.
A week into their stay, Pastor Jim had to physically remove Dean from Sam's side.
"Sam will be fine, Dean," Pastor Jim insisted, "I want to show you something."
"But . . ." Dean began, but Pastor Jim cut him off.
"No more worrying, just for a few minutes, okay?"
Dean reluctantly nodded and followed Jim up the stairs.
Jim led him to the attic, and Dean couldn't believe all the crap that was in it.
Dean stared at all the crosses and old wine cups and even a rotting nativity scene. "It's like a religious junkyard in here."
He picked up one particularly ancient crucifix, "You're like the Bobby of crosses."
Jim chuckled as he rummaged through an old chest, "I know it doesn't seem like it, but I do have other things up here besides crosses. It's just that all my parishioners seem to think they are the perfect Christmas gifts."
Dean laughed softly and put the cross back down, walking over to stand next to Jim. "So what are you looking for?"
Jim stopped his rummaging and pulled an object out of the chest, "Not looking for, found."
He then gave the object to Dean. Dean looked down at it in confusion. This was definitely not what he was expecting.
"A baseball glove?"
"What are you doing with a baseball glove?"
"Believe it or not, Dean, that used to be mine," Jim laughed.
"You played baseball?" Dean said, then smirked, "Baseball was invented back then?"
"Very funny. And yes. From what your Dad's told me, he plans on you boys staying here for awhile and I think that you would benefit from some . . . non-hunting experience."
Dean held the glove gently, it was as old as Jim, and looked uncertainly at him.
"There's a church league for boys your age starting in a few days and if you want, I can get you signed up."
"I don't know, Jim. Dad says . . ."
"Dean," Jim said, placing a hand on his shoulder, "let me worry about your father. Is this something you want to do?"
Dean looked at the old glove, put his hand inside it, beat the pocket with his fist, "Yeah . . . I mean, if that's okay."
Jim smiled and squeezed Dean's shoulder, "That's more than okay."
Two days later, Dean played organized baseball for the first time. He was a natural, a team player, and for the first time, Dean felt like he excelled at something other than hunting.
From third base, he held the ball on the red stitches and threw it towards first base. If it was a millimeter or even an inch off, no one died or bled (well there was that time when the first baseman decided to use his nose to catch the ball instead of his glove, but that totally wasn't Dean's fault). It was just a game, with rules he knew how to follow, ones that didn't change, and Dean relished the relative predictably of it all.
For those four months, he dreamed of staying at Pastor Jim's, playing baseball through middle school and high school, making it to the majors. He inhaled every game on TV and memorized stats and standings. It was as close to normal as he would ever get.
The day before the last game of the season, the championship game, Dad came back to Pastor Jim's and announced that it was time to hit the road again.
Dean didn't mention the game or baseball at all. He knew what Jim had given him and, deep down, he'd always known that it was temporary.
They were just dreams after all.
He ran his hand down the glove one last time then handed it to Jim.
"You can hold onto it if you want," Pastor Jim told him.
Dean thought about Jim's old baseball glove sitting in the truck next to overused shotguns and their large variety of knives. He shook his head, "No, you . . . you keep it."
Jim smiled, "I'll tell you what, I'll keep it here for you and only you to use."
"Okay." Dean shifted the duffel bag on his shoulder and looked up at Jim. "Thanks, Pastor Jim."
Jim squeezed his shoulder, his face pulled into an expression Dean didn't recognize, "No need to thank me, Dean."
Five minutes later, Dean was in the Impala, Sammy sulking next to him and Dad fiddling with the radio. He refused to look back; it wouldn't help anything.
After that, every time they went back to Pastor Jim's, the glove would be waiting on Dean's bed. And no matter how much Dean's hand had grown, the glove always fit just right.
Eight years after Mom's death, Dean thought, for the first time, that they may never catch the thing that killed her.
It hit Dean suddenly, came as Dad laid near death in the hospital with broken ribs, a fractured tibia, a head injury, and deep lacerations from a werewolf that got too-damn-close.
Sitting by Dad's bedside, an eight-year-old Sammy looking at him for direction, Dean knew that if Dad died here, right now, he wouldn't be able to stop.
He'd seen too much to have some kind of "normal" life. Sammy was different, he was young enough to believe there was something else, and Dean hoped there could be for him. But Dean knew that he'd never be able to walk away, not for good.
And it wasn't just about Mom anymore. That's the thing that really threw him. It stopped being simply about Mom when Dean's five-year-old self held the salt canister for his dad over a flaming grave.
Saving people, hunting things, the family business.
The first two were plural, the last singular.
The last one meant Mom, the other two meant anybody, anything and there could be no end to that.
At fourteen, Dean fell in "love" for the first time. She was a year older, red highlights in her hair and black polish on her bitten fingernails. She liked Led Zeppelin and Metallica and Dean really didn't need any other reason than that to fantasize about her. It also helped that she had size D cups or that's what he guessed from his . . . personal experience.
For almost three weeks he dreamed about her, rather . . . vivid dreams, until he finally worked up the nerve to make a move.
Her name was Carrie Malcolm and it took Dean almost two weeks to get her to acknowledge he existed.
He was only a freshman so Carrie decided they couldn't be seen together. That was okay for Dean; they needed privacy for what he wanted to do anyway.
Their "relationship," and Dean didn't even know if he could really call it that, was short-lived and nowhere near as productive as he'd hoped.
Dean was rounding second, barreling towards third, when Carrie groaned, and not in a good way, "God, I hate this car."
Dean stilled at her words, a cold chill settling over his body. Nu-uh. Did she just . . . ?
"What?" Dean asked.
"Your car is just so uncomfortable."
Dean pulled away, glared at this heathen in his baby. "It's a Chevy Impala, a '67. A classic."
Carrie rolled her eyes, "Sure, whatever you say."
Dean's glare deepened. "It is."
"Chill out, Dean, I just said it was uncomfortable. God, what a drama queen."
Carrie was definitely not helping her case here. Besides everyone knew that Sam was the drama queen.
"Yeah, okay," Dean said, "I think we're done here."
"What?" Carrie said getting up and staring at him in shock.
"Oh my God, you are such a little freak. It's a car."
And at the Dean wanted to say, it's not a car, it's home, but settled on, "There's nothing little about me. Now get out, you're contaminating her."
Carrie huffed and puffed, then readjusted herself and stomped out of the car. "See if you get anymore ass in this town."
Dean got out and went to the driver's seat, "You can see I'm real broken up about that."
Carrie huffed again, then walked down the street to her home three houses down.
Dean settled into the car, ran his hand on the steering wheel. "Sorry you had to hear that, baby. Girl's on crack."
Dean put the car into gear and headed home, thankful for his fake ID and lenient Dad, which of course only applied when it came to state and federal laws and not his own. He drove home a little slower than usual, trying to make it up to his girl.
He never dreamed about Carrie "Doesn't Know a Classic When She Feels One" Malcolm again.
At sixteen, looking into a fire, watching a werewolf's corpse burn to a crisp with Dad by his side, Dean revised the thought he first had at twelve.
Saving people, hunting things, the family business.
It wasn't just that he grew up in this life anymore.
He wanted it.
"But why can't I play soccer? Hunting isn't the other thing in life."
"It damn-well-better be the first thing in your life."
"Do you even listen to yourself? Haven't you come up with anything new in the last fourteen years?"
"I'll show you something new."
"Stop! Just knock it off."
"Stay out of this, Dean," that one, of course, was said in unison.
Dean clamped down on his jaw, clenched his fists, stared at the two most stubborn and frustrating people he'd even meant in his whole damn eighteen years of life.
Dad and Sam kept going at it, and Dean stopped listening to the words. They'd forget what they were arguing about anyway. Why should he be the only one to remember?
He stood to the side, watching hands and making sure they didn't become fists.
He didn't know how much longer he could take this. This helpless feeling never seemed to go away and he couldn't get either of them to just listen to each other, let alone him.
Sometimes, when the fights stretched on for days and the rare family dinner was cut short by "Sam, just give me the goddamn salt" and "Why? Need to burn something?," Dean wanted to tell both of them to grow the hell up and then just leave.
Sometimes, he just wanted out.
He'd take the Impala and just go. He wouldn't stop, unless he felt like it, would take her over 100 on some abandoned road, and not look back.
Give them a day or two of tearing each apart without any referee and maybe they'd finally see what they were doing to him.
Dean had never been accused of optimism, but he was pretty sure that would be a freakin' miracle.
So he stayed, because Sam needed him and Dad needed him, and Dean needed them both because didn't know who he was apart from them.
Sam was gone and Dad had told him to never come back and Dean couldn't put it into words so he said nothing.
The lump in his throat grew and grew as his anger simmered under the surface.
He went with Dad on hunts, but his words were commands and Dean's were yessirs.
When he was little, Dean remembered he wanted to be his Dad.
But Dad had told Sam to never come back and Sam was alone and Dean could no longer look at Dad without thinking of that.
Dean thought of Sam and eighteen years of looking down, then up, holding hands and wiping sticky fingers, and constantly watching his back, even as he walked away.
Dean thought of Sam, alone, and never wanted to be Dad again.
As gas prices rose, Dean crisscrossed the country, first following Dad's truck, then following leads.
He rode into town, researched, hunted, killed, and rode back out.
Sometimes there was a pretty waitress or unsuspecting pool player, but the names were gone and the faces were blurry.
Sometimes, a lot of the time if he was being honest, there was blood and pain, but Dean could patch himself up, been doing it for years.
He drove down abandoned road after abandoned road, AC/DC blaring from the radio, his foot letting up on the gas before he reached 100.
He drove to California, drove away, never stayed. He smiled and joked and hunted, but it was empty.
He was twenty-six, in New Orleans, when he got a message crackling with EVP from Dad.
He got in the Impala, headed towards California, broke 100 on the way and into Sam's apartment when he got there.
He was looking for a beer, but found something else.
"If you can't save Sam, you have to kill him."
Dad had laid his hand on Dean's shoulder, squeezed it, and whispered those words into his ear.
Minutes later he was dead, gone, and Dean was left with the impossible last command of the man he had obeyed without question his entire life.
They burned Dad, hunted a clown, and Dean took a crowbar to the only constant in his life.
Dean rebuilt her and they went.
Dean kept going and going, an unnatural sacrifice, an unthinkable order driving him forward and weighing him down.
He locked himself in a room with Sam, held the gun loosely in his hand, and almost told him everything.
He wanted to see the Grand Canyon.
He wanted to sit down.
He just wanted to stop. Just for a minute. Just to catch his breathe. Just to come up with some sort of reason why it couldn't be true.
And if it was true, he had to be ready to save him. It was the only option he'd ever consider.
Sam was dead because Dean couldn't save him.
Sam was dead and so was Dean and there was really no other way this was going to go down.
He offered his soul, asked for ten years, and she said "No."
He begged for nine, eight, five. Got one.
It was a crap trade. But it didn't matter. Dean would've settled for one minute, one second, anything if it brought Sammy back.
Sammy was alive and Dean had one more year and Dean really only thought of things in that order.
He had one more year.
But Sam would have more than that.
When Dean was gone, Sam would be alone, and Dean realized that even if he hadn't wanted it, swore it wouldn't happen, he was Dad, at least in this way, and now he understood.
Sam would be alone, but he would be alive.
Dean would prepare him the best that he could and, in the end, that had to be enough.
His dreams on a deadline, his soul forfeited, he had nothing else to give.