When The Lies Start
A/N: This is my attempt to get inside Dean's head. I'm not sure if it worked, but I'm pretty satisfied with the result considering I don't use a beta and pretty much just rely on myself to be OCD enough to catch mistakes. Actually, this fic is kind of my baby - I haven't had so much fun writing in a long time. And yeah, I'm well aware that there are people who can write the boys better than I can - check out Refur and K Hanna Korossy, you won't regret it - but I'm happy with this.
The idea came from the observation that, despite the total ten seconds of weird red-eyes-and-screaming and slight!emoness (that it takes a fricking fear demon to get Dean to show) onscreen, for someone who's been four months (forty years!) in hell, Dean is pretty... um, not affected at all by what he's been through?
Don't get me wrong, I'm really glad he's not all emo!angst!man tears!, that he's still Dean - I mean, there wouldn't be much of a show if all he did was huddle in a corner and rock himself (though I'm sure a lot of fangirls would swoon at the thought), but dude. You're human, and that's okay.
By the by, for those who've read this before and noticed the changes, I've edited a fair bit of it as of 11/6/08 so it'll be less craptastic. Hope you still like it.
"Liar, liar, pants on fire…!"
He gasps his way awake, hands flailing and grasping at nothing as if clawing their way out of sleep. Or, perhaps more appropriately, out of a six-foot grave.
But he isn't actually buried alive – so get over it – and so Dean Winchester calms his breathing with an ease borne of long practice.
His head hurts like its been used by a bunch of kids playing Little League. He pinches the bridge of his nose and rubs hard at his eyes, making spots of cool color flood across his vision like a badly set up TV. He allows himself a small annoyed groan; now that he's up he doubts he can go back to sleep.
And that just takes the cake, because they have to pull out early to get to Idaho or risk missing a pagan festival that's promising to get nasty, and sleep is just a little conducive to driving long hours on the interstate without wrapping the car around a tree or slamming into someone or God, just feeling like a human being again.
Although if Dean really wants to be honest with himself (and he doesn't), this isn't such a big deal, at least not the no-sleeping part. Nothing is stopping him from making up for the lost snooze in the car, after all. Sam would probably just jump on the chance of letting Dean be all girly and vulnerable, he admits to himself (somewhat irritably, it must be said), and what's more, his brother can probably more than use a couple of hours behind the wheel without Dean bugging him with Metallica sing-alongs and games of eye-spy (…I spy, with my little eye… someone who needs to get laid...). Dean doesn't actually worry about Sam getting his baby banged up anymore.
It isn't like he doesn't let the kid drive – after more than a year of sharing the Impala, Dean has a feeling that taking back the keys wouldn't go over too well – but since… since coming back, he just, well... he likes being the one driving and calling the shots, that's all.
"I'm so glad you're here, Dean! We're gonna have so much fun!"
There isn't any real reason for it. Really.
The noise gets to Sam, he can tell. It's too dark to see much past his own bed, but Dean can hear the disturbed cadence of soft whistles (because Sam doesn't snore, he whistles), the rustling of sheets as they are kicked away and back alternately (again, Dean can't see this, but twenty-three years of sharing a room with the guy gives him a pretty good idea of what's going on), and the muffled thump of an arm flopping heavily in his direction as his kid brother turns over, probably opening one eye trying to peer at him from across the room.
So Dean isn't all that surprised when a quizzical warble (damn if the so-called scourge of demons can't pass for a giant breast-less girl sometimes), too sleepy for actual coherence but still just aware enough to be vaguely concerned, suddenly cleaves the stuffy silence of their room in two. In a way, it kind of makes him feel all warm and fuzzy inside (meaning he's irritated, not touched, because Dean's always thought feeling fuzzy sounds unpleasant and kinda scratchy, like sweaters), that even when his brother's not all there - which is often, mind you - he still has it in his head to be worried something's wrong.
...Seriously, you'd think the kid would learn to take a break when he had an excuse like unconsciousness to stop caring.
Dean rolls his eyes (Sam can't see it, but it's the general principle that matters) and clears his throat before he can get a sound out; sleeping tends to steal his voice these days – cause phlegm to build up or something, who knows – but if he doesn't make some sort of response Sam is sure to wake up and ask questions. Stupid questions.
…And fuck, Dean is not awake or drunk enough to handle those.
"'m fine," he mutters dismissively, and doesn't add anything else because first, it is too much of an effort, and second, the last thing he wants is Sam waking up because it takes too much concentration to decipher his big brother's assholery comments. It's enough that Dean is up, no need to steal a good night's sleep from Sam, too – not to mention, the big baby isn't someone who can handle missing their usual eight hours with anything approaching grace, and Dean would rather drive without acerbic comments drilling another hole in his head.
He can almost swear the boy is mumbling something about chipmunks (what was that show he used to watch all the time? Alfie- no, Alvin and the Chipmunks, that's it). Whatever it is, though, it sounds agreeable, which Dean takes to mean Sam is checking out to dream about ten-foot women or libraries or whatever the geeky bastard usually dreams about.
…Sure enough, not ten seconds later Dean can hear the slow, noisy breathing start up again.
His mouth quirks into a smirk. Talk about predictable.
Figuring it's more or less safe now that the human kettle is back to its usual serenade, Dean kicks his feet off the bed and sits up. His face is itchy from not having shaved in two days – the Buru buru made him kinda wary of razors, electric ones included (he can't remember why, but it might have been something about the noise) - and that there's reason enough to keep his face baby-smoot.
Plus, girls always complain about the scruff scratching up their faces, and say what you will about Dean, but he's definitely a listener.
Deciding he might as well get a move on and do something useful – or as useful as doing anything at three in the morning could get, anyhow - Dean pedals tiredly to the bathroom, nearly knocking over a lamp in the process (it doesn't break, so it's cool) and not walking into the wall like a dumbass (he blames that one on faulty design - maybe they should invest in higher quality lodging, like Sam keeps insisting).
He doesn't bother to turn on the light, and the door closes behind him without a sound, shutting out the familiar rhythm of his brother's (miraculously) undisturbed breathing.
Relaxed, and more than a little relieved, Dean leans against the counter, eyes closed, and just breathes.
After a minute or so – what's the rush? – he reaches for the razor. The only light in the little room is coming from a narrow window over the toilet that shows into the parking lot, but he figures it should be bright enough to see himself in the mirror.
He blinks, startled.
"Dean, you in there?"
He looks down at his hand, notices that it's empty. Somehow the razor's winded up on the floor, and Dean's just a little weirded out that he doesn't remember it falling.
"Dean," and there's worry and fear in the voice, "come on, man, talk to me."
There's a small, breathless pause before Dean hears a curse, and moments later there are clicking noises as whoever it is (Sammy) fiddles with the lock on the door. "Dean!"
…The lock Dean doesn't remember locking.
"Shit, shit, come on open up you stupid door -"
Finally the last jiggle, and just like that, Dean snaps back to himself, just in time to stop his brother from making an irretractable move. Sam can't come in, can't see Dean like this - he'll think something's wrong even if Dean tells him otherwise.
"What do you want, Samantha?" And he sounds so irritated, so normal, that he can't help but be impressed with himself."Isn't it a little early for your morning pampering?"
Pause. He can almost see Sammy worrying at his bottom lip, thinking to himself is he okay he sounds okay but Dean lies sometimes how can I tell and Dean wants to protest, I'm not a liar, except that would be the biggest lie of all.
"Sammy? You all right there?" he calls out, letting just the right amount of concern bleed in, and the voice is that of tell me what's up, big brother's ready to kick some ass.
Dean can feel Sam falling for it. "Yeah, I just… I woke up and you weren't answering, that's all," he says, a little sheepishly. "I thought something was wrong."
He lets out a little chuckle, and it comes out so real it's a little frightening. "You dork, Sam, everything's fine. The only thing wrong about this is you trying to picklock the door while I'm in the bathroom, you little perv."
Sam gets defensive, which isn't usually a good sign but in this case most definitely is. "You weren't answering, Dean, what did you expect me to do?"
"...Be a good little boy and go back to sleep, maybe?"
Disbelieving snort. "It's eight in the morning, Dean. Check-out's at ten, if you remember."
Now that throws him off. For the first time Dean notices how the bathroom is blanketed by soft white morning light, how there are birds chirping merrily in the background. People are talking outside, getting breakfast and their shit together.
He lost five hours.
His mind slides past the fact - business as usual, folks - because there's no reason to think about it, no reason for Sam to worry.
The lie slipped out easily, automatically. "Must have taken a longer shower than I thought," he says, and his voice doesn't shake but his hands do.
He hears Sam sigh. "Just finish up quickly, all right? I gotta take a leak."
"Yeah, okay," Dean replies.
He stares at himself in the mirror, and thinks distantly that he needs to shave.
Sam groans when he hears the shower turn on - two showers in a row? And Dean calls him a princess - but gives in with only a resigned, mumbled, you've gotta be kidding me. He has every right to pound at that door, he knows, especially after that little scene from before - waking up to his brother gone, Sam doesn't remember feeling so panicked in... in...
In more than four months.
The realization is a little dumbfounding, a little awful. A little annoying.
Because this is normal. This is his brother hogging the shower. This is just his brother being an ass.
They have roles to play. They have a script to act out, and this, this is where he's supposed to sneak in the bathroom and flush the toilet and make Dean squeal like a girl, because he's the little brother and damn it all, he told Dean he needed to go.
But he doesn't. He can't.
And it's not just because Dean's been looking tired lately, or because Sam is still a little amazed his brother's been rescued by angels, or because they still kind of have the whole I-used-my-powers-despite-your-dying-wish thing over their heads - they're brothers, and twenty-plus years count more than a measly couple of months.
It's because this - this irritating, frustrating, big-brother-is-being-an-unbelievable-jerk kind of nuisance...
...Sam's just really glad to have it back.
It's kind of incredible how despite so many changes, so much is still the same. The teasing. The banter. The double rooms. The greasy lunch, the greasier dinner. The long drives, infused with rock and comfortable silences.
For the most part, everything's just like old times. It's almost like those four months of being by himself never happened, and surprisingly enough, it isn't hard at all to forget that they did.
Perhaps it shouldn't all that surprising - after all, Dean's pretty much the same, too. So yeah, he's a little quieter sometimes, hogs the Impala a little too much for Sam's liking, and apparently has a mission from God as well as a guardian angel who hates Sam's guts, but overall he's still the same sarcastic, upbeat bastard he always is, and he still calls Sam 'emo princess' and 'sasquatch' and 'you fucking retard' like always.
All in all, really, Sam figures that those small differences are a small price to pay. For someone who's just come back out of hell, even if he says he doesn't remember a thing about it, Dean is remarkably okay.
And Sam is pretty grateful for that.
Because if Dean doesn't remember, it's almost like Dean never went to hell. If he doesn't remember, Sam doesn't have to feel as guilty, doesn't have to think about what hell is like. Doesn't have to worry about Dean more than he already does.
...Sam is happy Dean doesn't remember, because if he did, if Dean is just acting like he's fixed when in reality he's broken, Sam wouldn't know what to do.
They kick him, punch him, drown/crucify/burn/hang him so many times he can't even count. Each time they bring him back, though, he spits out blood and with the same cocky grin that's charmed/outraged so many others in life, shoots back, "That all you got?"
After a while, they tattle to mommy that the toy's not working. And so Lilith drops by, tries her hand at the game.
He laughs in her face, tells her it doesn't even hurt. Wrong number, try again.
She's unpertrubed. Smirks at him like she's got all the time in the world - she does - wipes the splattered blood from her mouth, and calls him the worst liar she's ever met.
He hasn't learned how to stop yet, so he sets out to prove her wrong. "No, really, my brother can punch harder than that, and he's practically a girl."
She says let's see about that.
And that's when the lies start.
The sound is familiar, almost sweet, reminds him of cheap wallpaper and polo shirts and eggnog and lemme know if it needs more kick – but hard as he tries he can't make out what's so amusing, which is too bad because he would have loved to be in on the joke.
...Then again, even if he does like jokes, having your innards showing makes it a little hard to laugh.
"Dude, you ever notice how squishy your intestines are? It's like playing with water balloons - can't help but squeeze until something pops."
Even through the blood sloshing its way up his windpipe, Dean manages a snort, because he can see through this lie (and nice try fucktards, but Sam's nothing like this bastard).
"Dude," he slurs back in reply, "that's gross."
Turns out, he had been telling the truth.
Sam punches pretty damn hard.
His head is too heavy to lift – not like bowling ball heavy, but like the entire cast of the Nutty Professor put together heavy, never mind that they're all really just Eddie Murphy in some makeup and a fat suit– but when he squints he can kind of make out a large darkish shape sitting hunched in front of him like Frankenstein's monster. It looks somewhat familiar, but they'd be pretty dumb to try Sam again, so it has to be something else.
There's a click and a hiss, like a can being opened, and the sweetest smell in the world floods his nostrils and gets into his system as quickly as morphine (and he should know how that feels like, but he's been here too long to remember).
And funny, that, because even though he knows he isn't anywhere close (just about the farthest you can get, actually) Dean kind of feels like he's in heaven. There's even a part of him that wonders deliriously if that's the best they can do, shove alcohol under his nose and see if he'll break, 'cause bitch please, Dean Winchester is made of sterner stuff than a beer can.
But suddenly the shape becomes a heck of a lot clearer as it throws back a swig and blinks at him like oh, you're burning in hell, that's nice, but you haven't seen anything yet, son, not even close.
"You should have killed him," John whispers mournfully, and suddenly nothing's funny anymore.
Claws buffet him on all sides, tear at his mouth in attempt to shut him up, but he still goes on mumbling his brother's name like it might save him from the monster under the bed, can't even help it. "Sam. Sam. Sam."
It takes him a while to notice when they stop, but he isn't particularly relieved when he 'll start again soon anyway - they always do. Until then, though, he keeps at it like a fool, repeats Sam's name as if it holds the whole of salvation.
It's a little ridiculous when he thinks about it, and Sam will probably laugh at him if he ever catches wind of this (or maybe not) but somehow it feels as though, as though...
"...The fuck's wrong with you, boy? Thought the whole point was keeping the kid outta here."
...It kind of looks like Bobby's here, but Dean's pretty sure (like, really pretty sure) he's not. Dean's supposed to be in hell, and Bobby Singer's basically an angel, for all that he smells like motor oil and whiskey and German Shepherds most of the time.
So he can't be here.
"Sam," he says again hoarsely, because it's all the same to him.
The demon posing as his friend glares at him, makes that little pursed expression he knows so well. "He's not here, Dean. You traded yourself for him, remember? Damn fool move that was, but then you were never the sharpest crayon in the box."
He tries to say Bobby's name, but it doesn't come out. "Sam," he coughs out instead. He doesn't remember how to say anything else, and that's the most important word anyhow.
Help me, Bobby. Help me.
He hears a laugh, and the worst thing about it is that it sounds bitter, pained. "I look like a dumbass to you? The moment I help you, you'll just dig your own grave again. No thanks, son. Been there, done that. Can't say I never learn."
"S-sammy…" No I won't, Dean wants to say. I promise, I promise, just get me outta here, okay? Sam's not here.
"Oh, for fuck's sake." Bobby – except it can't really be Bobby, remember? – takes out the little flask of whiskey he's always carrying around and shoves the opening into Dean's mouth. He chokes a little, but then the liquid pleasantly burns its way down his throat…
…Except when it doesn't.
All of a sudden Dean's throat is on fire, and it's the most fucking painful pain he's ever felt in his life. It's like a million glass shards are sliding down his esophagus, chaperoned by some flaming gasoline just for kicks and giggles.
Dean makes a strangled little noise instead of a scream (his voice is too easily stolen these days), stares at Bobby (Bobby) like he doesn't understand (he doesn't).
The man looks at him so kindly, so sadly, that Dean wants to apologize and say sorry, for once, but his throat's burning and the only thing he can say is Sam in any case (and isn't that the whole problem anyway?).
"Holy water, kid. Looks like you belong in hell after all."
"…You know, little Sammy's finally given up on getting you out of here." Soft, sultry whispers in his ear, a sharp contrast to the jagged teeth digging into his thighs. "You're not going anywhere for a very long time."
Shuddering breath. He can't think. Sammy. Sammy.
- Ithurtsgetmeoutofhere -
Chuckle. "And just think about it. When you do, when you finally break – and that will be soon enough, trust me – you'll be one of us. You'll become the monster you've always known you were."
The words are merely a breath on his cheek - almost meaningless, engulfed as they are in fire, fire Sammy where are you - but somehow they stab him just as well as knives, and kids, that takes some talent. "And maybe then you'll pay Sam a little visit. You know, just to catch up, say hello, fuck you and all that jazz.
"You'd like that, wouldn't you?"
Sometimes they let him believe that he's fought them off and escaped hell, that everything goes back to normal, that somehow he's back on Earth and can see Sammy and Dad without hurting them (without them hurting him).
They think it's hilarious when he realizes he hasn't gone anywhere - when Sammy's eyes turn yellow and his teeth turn sharp, when Dad says "never thought you were anything more than a dog, really" (because maybe Dean's thought it, but John would never say it aloud), when they suddenly die because Dean screws up (or kills them because he's not a hundred percent Dean anymore).
They laugh, and laugh, like it's the greatest joke (lie) in the world.
...He still falls for it, every time.
"My poor Dean." Gentle hands are stroking his face, and he feels like this is it, he can die like this just don't stop don't stop. "You deserve to rest."
Sam. Sam. Sam. He keeps the mantra going in his head, it's the only thing he has left, because he KNOWS this isn't real, isn't really sure if the hands ever were, really, ever, but he knows Sam had been real, because Sam is why he's here (not that it's his fault, nonono it was Dean's choice, Dean wants to be here, what can he say, he'd always been a little fucked up inside).
Sam. Sam. Sam.
It reminds him of when he was in third grade, and Mrs. Polasky had told them that when a word's repeated too many times it loses its meaning, and that's why they should watch what they say because curses should only be said when something really shitty happens. (He remembers trying it out in the bathroom later, saying Mom over and over and over again until the word started sounding funny and his eyes began to sting.)
But this is different. Sammy means the world - always has and always will - and nothing's gonna change that.
"Oh, honey. Calling your brother won't do you any good, sweetie," Sam Sam Sam not real Sam lie Sam "but it's going to hurt Sammy if you're not careful."
And suddenly he can't breathe, and this time it's not because his mouth's sewn shut or he's being strangled with chains or he's watching a little girl play surgeon with his lungs.
"Wh-what?" he chokes, and it's the first time in a long time that he's said anything other than Sammy, but the novelty doesn't really register.
Mary speaks as if he's four again, which somehow makes sense since she's dead anyway. "Well, Dean, your brother loves you, right?"
He isn't sure where she (it) is going with this. He'd nod ('cause Sammy does he really does) but he's a little scared his head will fall off.
"So," she says slowly, patiently, "if you call him enough times, he'll come." She cups his chin, apparently not caring about getting his blood on her hands, and he'd tell her to be careful except it feels nice and that's what moms are supposed to do (he thinks). "Do you really want Sammy to come to hell?"
He thinks of where he is - firepainsammysammythisplaceisfuckedupfuckingmeupHELPME - and thinks that no, he really doesn't.
"Dean," and her voice is so warm and sweet, "if you want to stop hurting your brother, you have to let him go."
His voice hurts – it must have been years since he's used it, years. "Sammy?"
His mom has such pretty, pretty eyes, he notices as they look him over with genuine care, and something inside practically melts.
(or breaks, whatever.)
"That's not enough, darling. Let him go. Even in your head."
And then Dean gets it.
If he thinks of him Sammy will come, guns blazing, and (even though he really wants that deep deep inside) the last thing he wants to see is Sam getting the same five-star treatment Dean is, because Dean can handle it, but Sammy, Sammy's just a kid. The worst thing he can do is think of his little brother, think of him laughing with his unfairly large shoulders shaking helplessly over his laptop, think of him being an emo son of a bitch because you can't save everyone, dickweed, think of him sulking about tapes and this century and mullet rock, you've gotta be kidding -
...He has to stop. Dean can't dream of him anymore, can't dream of Sam living happily in the 'burbs with a picket fence and a hot wife that's way out of his league and 2.5 brats (come here, kids, let me tell you about Uncle Dean), or of Sam taking the pain away (it's all right bro, I won't let them get you), or, worst of all, dream of him coming to help (familiar crooked smile, let's get out of here, Dean, whaddaya say?)
Because that's wrong of him, to want Sam to come make him feel better, to start thinking it's okay if Sam's here hurting too, as long as they're hurting together.
It's pretty fucking selfish, as a matter of fact.
And Dean is a pretty fucking selfish guy, yeah (booze women pool are you that screwed in the head?), but he can't let himself be that selfish, not when it comes to his little kid brother.
Because even after everything, when it comes down to it, Dean loves Sammy.
And that's all that matters.
"Okay," he whispers, instead of Sam, and somehow Dean thinks that hurts more than anything, ever. "...Okay."
The glint in his mom's eyes is triumphant as she smiles at him, and he doesn't know why but he smiles back anyway (even though his lips are chapped and broken and it hurts, it's always hurting) because finally he's doing the right thing, he's not letting anyone down, he's saving, saving –
…Saving who, again?
Dean blinks, because the hands are gone and the woman is gone and something, something else is gone, and even though he knows no one has been here with him in a while Dean's never felt so alone -
and someone is screaming in his head don't don't they're lying remember me Dean PLEASE remember, but Dean doesn't, Dean can't, he's busy saving something important and he can't pay attention
He doesn't have hope anymore, he figures out suddenly, that's what wrong with him, he's empty and doesn't know why.
Sometimes they make him hurt them, make him strong and powerful and able to twist their little disfigured heads off like a bottle cap. He likes it at first because he doesn't feel any pain when that happens, because he feels like a fighter, like he can stop things from happening.
Then they give him a mirror, and he stops liking it so much.
Sometimes, he can hear different screams (not his) in the background - "God, God, help me Dean HELP ME!" - and they sound a little familiar, like a song (he thinks he can remember what songs are like, maybe) he'd heard back before... before.
"Do something, Dean, please, just DO SOMETHING!"
He feels kinda sorry for whoever it is, hopes for their sake that this Dean fellow helps them.
(and maybe, maybe while the guy's at it, he can help him, too.)
She comes back sometime after he decides to stop fighting, lips pursed in disappointment. She says a lot of words, like pathetic and weak and loser and some other ones he isn't listening to, and she hurts him more than anything he can remember (which isn't a lot, admittedly, but it's still pretty painful). She doesn't bother to lie anymore, just rails at him and yells and breaks his teeth and pulls his guts out like they're candy from a pinata, and he can tell she is having fun (she always is) but she isn't getting what she wants, and that makes her mad.
When she leaves him in a pile of bone and blood, though, he almost smiles (except he can't quite recall how), because he's figured it out, the big secret, and she can try and try but he's still winning and she's still losing, even though she has already taken everything he's ever had.
And that's why, when Castiel grabs him and brings him out of hell, Dean doesn't struggle, because he's already learned that the only way to fight (to save) is to not fight at all.
"Hey, Dean... what was it like?"
"What, hell? I don't know, must have blocked it out. I don't remember a damn thing."
Relieved smile. "Thank God for that."