A/N: Okay, I promise to stop spamming you after this one. LOL. Basically, I signed up to write 1200 words a day as part of an LJ challenge. I had intended only to write original fic, but when you've only got an hour or so before work and are faced with a blank page, other stuff starts to come out. And since my brain is still mostly infected with Winchesteritis, a lot of what comes out is fanfic. It's now been two months since I started this challenge, and a lot of fic has accumulated, some of it finished, some of it not. This fic is not finished. It's a WIP, and to be honest, I'm not sure this is the right audience for it. I mentioned earlier that writing Season 4 Winchesters is less fun than groping maggoty meat, and this is the fic that made me say it.
I like it. I love it. I think it's a good representation of what their relationship is like at this stage, but I don't think it's what people want to read. So, rather than have it hanging around on my hard drive taunting me, I figured I'd throw it up here (no pun intended). I still have two months of this challenge left, so if you want me to continue, I will, if not, I am sure plenty of other ideas will sprout up soon enough. But you have to ask real nice, cuz this one has been HARD to write. Also, this has a case file in it somewhere. It's not mentioned at all in this first chapter, and I'm not sure how much it will be the focus. I tend to write more plot than subplot. You've been warned.
Warnings: Language, bodily functions, probably innuendo of the calibre we get in any episode.
Summary: Dean's got a whole new body. It doesn't quite fit like the old one. And it's not doing so well. Set in Season 4, so probably will spoil for it, but so far it doesn't. I would say, it's definitely Pre-Halloween. Sort of inspired by Dean's re-hymenation, lol, but not about that.
Disclaimer: Just for fun. No defamation, infringement, or ill will intended. No money being made.
Cold sweat slicks down his back and pools at the already saturated waistband of his boxer briefs. He drags a hand up the front of the porcelain tank and flushes, spitting one last time like that one final bit of poison will take with it the bitter that preceded it. Head cradled on one bicep, he blinks, slightly disgusted at the way his eyes still leak into the cuff of his t-shirt sleeve. Nothing like an acid wash to clean out all a guy's pores and tear ducts...he groans in his throat, sticky with mucous... not to mention his sinuses.
What ends up in the wad of toilet paper he blows into is bright yellow, and he wonders if maybe he forgot the whole, swallow, then inhale rule of basic respiration. Four months of not breathing might've just scrambled his wiring a little, makes him think he's doing that wrong, too. Breathing. Wrong. Could he be made of more fail? He's snorted soda out his nose a total of two times in his entire life, all two/three of them, and that was more pleasant than this.
"Welcome to earth," he grumbles. It's almost as difficult pulling himself up off the floor as it was to dig himself out of his own grave, and it's just plain fucked up how he knows that. Maybe there's a way to unknow it, but if there is, he's pretty sure it falls into the category of bad mojo. He's having enough trouble dealing with the good mojo.
He's presuming it's good, anyway. He wanted out of Hell. Now he's out of Hell. That's gotta be good, right?
So, why does he feel like shit?
Looks like it, too, if that dude in the mirror is any indication.
He can refer to his reflection in the third person. He's still not entirely convinced it's actually him. Yeah, yeah, he's convinced Bobby and Sam, and that Castiel dude doesn't seem the type to make little boo-boos on the caliber of mistaken identity. But they don't know. Haven't ever been to that place where every truth is fabricated from the lies you let yourself believe and then unwoven one little white strand at a time, pulled back slick and bloody until everything is just pain with your name on it.
Not a revenant. Not a shapeshifter. Not a demon. Not a zombie movie reject.
Long list of things he's not. That's all he really knows.
He doesn't know he's actually him. If he was himself, wouldn't his skin feel more like home and less like something he needs to shed. Or, you know, scrape off against the nearest tree, or brick wall, or, hell, he doesn't know... a loofah wrapped in sandpaper. Surely Sam has a loofah. No other way he keeps from getting a heat rash between all those new muscles he's managed to pack on while Dean was having his flayed off his bones.
"Urgghhh!" He scratches at the itchy bumps springing up along his jaw line, considers whether to hide them by putting off shaving or just shave and blame them on bad technique. There's no way the bumper crop on the insides of his elbows, spreading up the crease of his bicep is anything but a rash of some sort. Thank God... (yeah, God, you wanna make something of it...)
His inner self's still feeling a little backed into a corner by his outer self with its giant angel hand prints branded into it.
Anyway, thank God, or someone, for long-sleeved shirts.
His stomach cramps, a couple giant fists wrapped around his intestines and sliding in opposite directions, and he doubles over the sink. There's nothing left upstream or down at this point, which doesn't stop his gag reflex kicking in around the anti-peristaltic wave. Just a good old kick in the stomach to help him clear his throat. Yellow phlegm down the sink, chased away by tap water a few shades lighter than rust and whatever his body's squeezing out of his pores by the gallon. It's a toss up as to which is the lesser evil, brown water or rank sweat, but the tepid water feels better on his skin, big handfuls of it splashing over his forehead, clinging in his eyelashes and dripping off his nose and lips.
He puts off meeting his own gaze for as long as possible. There's just something about the reflection of a reflection...
He remembers Dad stashing him and Sam in a changing room at a department store one time. Who knows why. They were already past the age when the endless, why, why, why questions kids inevitably ask garnished fairy tale answers like, Santa Claus, or elves, or pixie dust, and, instead, just earned him a warning glare, and, if he was lucky, "Because I said so, Dean." Dad put them in there, told them not to make a sound or come out for anyone, and then disappeared to do whatever Dad did. Dean guesses there was fire involved if the sprinklers coming on awhile later is any clue.
Sam wasn't the easiest kid to entertain or keep quiet back then. Kinda like now. Dean remembers nearly going out of his mind trying to decide if he could get away with just gagging the kid and sitting on him, when the door moved a fraction of an inch, shifting the angle of light so their reflections bounced around in an endless pinwheeling spiral of smaller and smaller, smaller to the point of being swallowed whole and yet... whole. Reflections of reflections of reflections.
Dad came back to find Dean shaking in the corner, Sam held tight in his lap in white-knuckled determination.
It kinda still has that effect on him, makes him want to latch onto what's real and shut his eyes to everything else.
Years later and a trip to Hell and back, there's still no other phenomenon that can seize Dean's chest faster than the reflection of a reflection. The way positive and negative, right and left lose their identities. The way his eyes look into himself and out, knowing there's nothing in between but air and memory, consciousness and loss. It's like being dropped into the vacuum of space where everything you keep inside comes out. For Dean, that's a lot.
Really shouldn't be that hard to look himself in the eye, but it is. Not just since Hell, either. Pretty much always. Just now, with Hell to paint the back of the mirror, there's a little more darkness. Or just a little less light.
In his last life, he was a bit of underexposed film that just didn't see the light. In this one, the light's everywhere, but the lead casing is too thick to let it in.
On the one hand shiny and new, and on the other... so not.
Yeah, he's the biggest mixed metaphor ever. He doesn't even make sense to himself.
"Ah!" His hand massages over the trembling muscles of his stomach. He understands pain. The very basest things are crystal clear.
Pain. Hunger. Itch. Breath. Fear.
He peeks out the bathroom door, eyes scanning the dimly lit room and Sam's long body stretched out on his bed, still deep asleep.
At least none of Dean's bodily functions, or malfunctions as they may be, are interfering with Sam's.
Quick shower and a shave, and who knows, maybe Dean's skin will tighten back up again, start to feel like he belongs inside it.
He hopes so. Because now? This is all feeling like a giant, cosmic joke.
He emerges from the bathroom feeling a lot better than when he went in, like a dirty sponge wrung out in a lightning storm and dried full of ozone and fresh air.
Heh. Heheh. The Beavis in his head thinks he's been using too much of Sam's coconutty shampoo.
Scratch the whole sponge and ozone thing. He feels like a zit that's freshly popped. Oh yeah. That's how he spells relief.
Well, there's another way, but that's not as satisfying as it used to be now that all his callouses are gone. His hands don't even fit right anymore.
At any rate, he feels good enough that finding Sam freshly dressed and dangling the keys doesn't make him want to puke. He's even a little hungry.
"Don't you need to shower first?"
"I did. Last night, before bed." Sam tosses him the keys.
"When was that? I don't remember."
"It was after..." Something flickers over Sam's features. Something new that Dean hasn't learned yet, and he isn't up for New!Sammy 101 before breakfast. At least one of them seems to have gotten the whole new life thing worked out. "...while you were... Man, you were really out of it," Sam snickers.
Dean doesn't get the joke, and from the wide-eyed arch of Sam's forehead, he doesn't either. It might've been a nervous laugh. Neither one's willing to push the subject.
They didn't used to do awkward quite so well.
That's a paradox or something, isn't it? An oxymoron maybe. Definitely one of those things Dean's always just considered a perk of being Winchester. In his case, Dean fucking Winchester, big goddamned hero... who's shorter than his little brother. Yup.
"You hungry?" He already knows the answer. That's why he asks.
"Starved," Sam says. Then the little giant bastard opens the door for him. Like he's a girl. Or someone who needs his back watched.
There's that little lagging ripple again, the bit of extra room that makes things jumble around and knock together.
Damned loose skin.
Dean looks up from under his furrowed brow, fork in hand as the waitress sets down a napkin and then the condensation soaked glass.
"Milk?" He's sure he didn't order that.
"Mmm, it does a body good." Sam's expression is somewhere between amused and hopeful.
"Oh, it does, does it?"
"Well, sure...everybody knows that." He knows that's the exact wrong response, evidenced by the sudden, ravenous consumption of half his stack of pancakes without coming up for air or to look Dean in the eye. Judging by the way his Adam's apple works around the last bite, he probably wishes he'd ordered the milk for himself.
"And everybody has a problem with my body now?"
"Dean, that's not what I meant."
"Do you?" The gesture he makes with his fork is supposed to be curiosity, but Sam blinks a little like he fears for his eyes. Their timing couldn't be more off. "I mean, you can tell me, Sammy. Something about my body not doing it for you? Cuz, you know," and he smirks, because that's what he does before he says this next line, what he's always done, even if it feels sloppy on his face, "I've never had any complaints." Except his own.
Even a sloppy smirk is enough, apparently, because Sam laughs, and the tension melts like butter in a hot skillet with a hiss and slow slide into oblivion.
"Four words, Dean." Sam leans across the table, his fear of Dean's fork suddenly assuaged. "When Harry Met Sally."
"Yeah, well..." a bit of sausage that must've been trapped between his cheek and his jaw goes down his throat with the next inhale, making his eyes water and burn. The coffee cup he keeps next to his right hand slides across the table out of reach, Sam's hand over the top and a cocky grin wrinkling his chin. Dean swallows, tries to work the lump past his trachea, afraid to take a breath. Nothing happens, except the morsel seems to expand into what feels like an entire sausage. He swallows again, and then twice more, his eyes watering. Then, because somewhere in his warped psyche it's still possible to save face, he grins his biggest and dorkiest grin and downs half the glass of milk like he'd been intending to do so the entire time. "Milk... Mmmm." He drains all but the last swallow. "Happy now?"
Sam raises his eyebrows and ducks away, scratching the back of his neck as he hands Dean a spoon.
Dean turns the spoon over, one hand poised to straighten his hair, and is met with the funhouse caricature of his own face complete with the biggest milk mustache he's ever seen. With a shrug, he replies, "Why buy the cow? Manipulative little brothers are free." The table behind them is empty but set for two, and since his own napkin's being used as a milk coaster, he steals the one wrapped around the silverware from the vacant place setting. He doesn't even unroll it, just wipes it over his mustache and sets it back in place.
They used to call that 'blowing kisses, Winchester style.'
It's an old joke, something they used to do with the whipped cream that came on mugs of hot cocoa. Dean doesn't remember the last time he had hot cocoa. Doesn't remember the last time he drank milk, either, for that matter. Doesn't remember ever actually blowing kisses.
"Ya think I'll grow up to be big and strong like you now, Sam?"
"In your dreams, Rickets."
"Right, make fun of the dude with the skeletal deformities. Just see if I haul your ass into the Big and Tall store next time you split the back out of your jeans. Admit it, you spend all your stakeout time doing isometric butt clenches, don't you. I can totally tell."
"Tell me you're not checking out my ass."
"Don't have to. It's imprinted on the driver's seat of the car. I got a friggin' wedgie every time I get out now. God help me, Sam, if I have to get one of those beaded seat covers..."
Sam's half-chewed hash browns end up wadded in the side of his mouth, pooching out one of his dimples as he fights to keep from spitting it all over the table. "Dude, I'm trying to eat."
"No one's stopping you."
"Drink your milk."
He drinks his milk, and he doesn't wipe off the mustache. He sorta hopes it looks like clown makeup.
When he throws up his breakfast a few hours later, Sam's thankfully gone to the library for research.
It's just an itch at first. Tingling in his lips and under his jaw. He's standing in front of the sink rifling through their bag in search of whatever creams they have for itch of unknown origin. He doesn't want to use the antibiotic stuff, because he never knows when they'll need it. Stuff's not cheap. Sometimes cheap toothpaste takes the bite out enough to let him stop scratching, but all they have is the thick, white stuff. Calamine lotion would be less conspicuous. He's got one hand in the duffel bag and one scratching absently under his neck, when his throat closes.
It's just for a second, a constriction so tight he can feel it in his chest. His hands fly to the edges of the sink, various toiletries scattering at his feet, and he curls in on himself, focusing on just breathing through the pain, tiny sips of air. It passes, probably doesn't last half a minute, even, but it leaves him shaking and drenched in cold sweat. His eyes flutter shut, as he drops to the floor, liquid tracing the pained lines of his forehead and congealing in the middle, falling in fat drops to the toilet where he can hear the plunk, plink, plunk without looking.
He waits for it to ease up, but it doesn't, his mouth watering faster than he can swallow. Finally, he gives in and leans forward, coughs once before he heaves up his breakfast.
He flushes without opening his eyes. He already knows what eggs and sausage look like. He's been seeing them a lot lately.
By the time the room door opens and Sam calls for him, Dean's washed, teeth freshly brushed, and he strolls out of the bathroom like he's been bathing in the Irish Springs themselves.
"Shower in the middle of the day?" Sam asks. "I'm surprised you're not playing Enya and burning scented candles."
"Couldn't, you keep your private stash locked." He's too busy trying not to scratch to notice if Sam even laughs. "I don't know the combination."
He's not sure he's talking about Sam's stash anymore.
A/N: So, if you found the humor flat and the relationship strained, it was supposed to be. If that bothers you too much to keep reading, say so. If you think it's worth continuing, say that, too. I don' t beg for reviews anymore, but my muse does get lazy if she thinks no one's reading. Your loss, not mine. LOL. I will be writing tomorrow regardless of whether it's this story. So, be honest. MWAH! You're all amazing.