I'm ashamed to admit that I am posting this because a) I've been lazy and haven't posted anything for such a long time, and b) I'm lazy and I'm procrastinating finishing this fic and am going to blatantly use you guys for motivation. It's all plotted out, I swear, and if I know people are reading, I am easily guilted into finishing it. (shrugs) It's a sucky thing to do, I know, but never underestimate the power of guilt.
Takes place immediately after What Is and What Should Never Be, simply because Dean is so much fun to emotionally torture. (shakes head in shame) Sorry. Can't help myself.
Someday Never Comes
The tendril of smoke rose from the cigarette, dissipating into the dark shadows as Gary Corrigan leaned against the porch rail and sighed. God that felt good. He'd promised Katy he would give them up after they were married, but it was harder than he'd anticipated. It wasn't that he'd intentionally lied to his new bride, he just hadn't thought he'd miss the tactile sensation of the act of smoking quite so much.
He knew all the health risks as well as the other offensive side effects of the habit, but he'd been putting away almost a half a pack a day since he was sixteen years old and had never gave much thought to what it was doing to his body nor his redeeming qualities in general.
Of course, Katy made sure he knew that she objected – quite strongly in fact. She had told him it was like kissing an ashtray and that she would not allow the stench of the cigarettes into her house. While the words had hurt at first, her bluntness was one of the things he had come to love about her, and had agreed to the ultimatum of quitting in order to get her to say yes to his marriage proposal.
But that didn't mean he had to go cold turkey, right?
He had already cut it down to a handful of cigarettes a day and was working on cutting them out entirely – and it was only their honeymoon! By the time they returned to the city and got back into the grind of their everyday lives, he figured he'd have the proverbial monkey off his back and they would be able to live happily ever after.
But that was then – this was now. He had made it through most of the day of antiquing without so much as a twinge of a craving. They had had a wonderful, romantic dinner in the little restaurant in town and then retired to their lakeside cabin and made love. It had, all in all, been a perfect day.
But, the monkey had refused to stay buried and had raised its ugly head even as they snuggled comfortable in the big down filled bed. Careful not to disturb Katy, he'd crept out into the night like a criminal and lit up, savoring the taste of the tobacco as it seared through his lungs.
So caught up in the bliss of the stolen moment of pleasure, he'd thought he'd imagined the distant wail at first. Then it came again, floating clear and strong over the lapping of the water against the small boat moored to the dock twenty yards down the path in front of the cabin.
Gary blew out the last of the smoke and quickly stamped the cigarette out against the dirt at the base of the wooden stair. He took a few steps forward into the yard, his eyes straining in the darkness, darting out over the calm water of the lake.
The sound floated toward him.
It was a woman. A woman who was crying.
He carefully made his way to the shoreline, standing at the edge of the small, swaying dock. A low fog covered the surface of the lake, rolling in and out almost as if it were alive. The crying grew louder and Gary could make out a few words interspersed in the sad sound.
"Hello?" he called softly, not wanting to disturb Katy still asleep, snuggled in their bed. "Is there anyone there?"
The wailing became more pronounced and Gary leaned forward, his eyes trying to see through the spreading mist.
"Hello?" he repeated, his head slowly moving from side to side as he listened for any kind of response.
Gary jumped as the voice whispered from almost right in front of him. Taking a step back, his foot tilted on the edge of the dock and he windmilled his arms in an attempt to regain his balance.
"Help me find them…."
As the whisper faded away, Gary lost his fight with gravity and gracelessly toppled into the water. The mist rolled in quickly across the surface where the young man had gone under, obscuring the water from direct view of the shore. Slowly, the white blanket began to dissipate, leaving nothing behind but the soft sound of the water leisurely lapping against the side of the dock.
Sam Winchester drove, one eye on the dark road before them, the other surreptitiously on his brother who remained slumped against the passenger side door of the Impala, dead to the world.
Almost, Sam reminded himself grimly.
It had been close. He had found Dean inside that abandoned warehouse just in time. Although Dean had managed to figure a way out of the djinn's fantasy world, the blood loss had already been substantial and he had been close to going into shock. If Sam had shown up even an hour later, he wasn't sure if there would have been enough of his brother to save.
The girl they had rescued had been in critical condition when Sam had called the hospital, and they had told him she had a fifty-fifty chance of surviving the night. There had been no way Sam was going to let his brother believe that he'd failed to save her, so he'd lied and told Dean that she was going to be okay. He hoped it was true, for Dean's sake as well as the innocent girl's.
Dean hadn't wanted to stick around, even though he was weak from blood loss and more than a little freaked from his sojourn into the djinn's dream world. Sam had been able to gather bits and pieces of what his brother had gone through, and his heart broke for Dean knowing how hard it must have been for his brother to turn his back on something he'd wished for his whole life in order to come back to a world he never had a choice in being a part of.
Dean shifted and gave a low moan, his face twisting in pain as the Impala's wheel hit a pothole and jarred his body. He'd barely been able to lift his arms thanks to being strung up like a side of beef for those long hours in the warehouse. Sam knew he must be sore, not only from the muscle fatigue, but from the blood loss and cold that had seeped into his body in the derelict building. He hoped like hell his brother was able to get some real rest, but doubted he'd be able to considering the condition he was in and the rolling and shaking of the classic car.
The familiar comfort of the Impala was normally a bane to Dean's soul, but tonight, he was beat to hell and needed someplace warm and safe to rest and regain his strength. As the big black car rumbled down the two-lane highway, Sam noticed a sign for the Lakeview Resort Cabins. It looked remote and private – and probably a little above their usual price range. But considering the circumstances, Sam wanted to get his brother someplace he could hole up and recover. Someplace quiet, someplace he could rebuild his defenses.
"Stay with us… get some rest…"
He closed his eyes, relishing the warmth of his mother's hand on his cheek. This was what he had wished for his entire life. His mom, Sam… both happy and content. Both safe from the evil that lurked in the dark.
But it wasn't real. He knew it. No matter how much he wanted it to be…
He opened his eyes and took one last look at his mom, at Carmen, at Sam…. Here, in this world, his one wish was fulfilled. But it wasn't his world. It could never be.
With a sad smile, he stepped back and raised the silver knife, taking in his family surrounding him.
Dean awoke with a start, his eyes open wide, his mind taking a moment to discern the unfamiliar furnishings of the cabin in the darkness around him. His hand wrapped around his stomach, the pain of the knife wound quickly receding, leaving only a phantom twinge as he swallowed hard, his eyes darting around the dimness as his mind assured him which reality he was actually a part of. The soft sound of his brother's breathing from the other bed filtered through the confusion of what he knew was a dream…a memory… ah hell, he had no idea what it had been.
Taking a deep breath, he rolled to his back and held it for a moment, giving his heart time to catch up with his brain. As the intense beating started to slow, he carefully pushed himself up and turned so his legs were dangling off the side of the bed, both arms shakily supporting him on the mattress. There was enough moonlight filtering through the curtains to see Sam, and he was relieved to find his brother's eyes closed, and his face relaxed in sleep. The sight worked to calm Dean's turmoil even more until he could finally breath normally and his heart didn't feel as if it would burst from his chest in the next few seconds.
He ran a hand across his face, grimacing at the slick of sweat on his skin. This really, really sucked.
He was so tired. All he wanted was a good night sleep, free of dreams – good or bad – so that he could actually find the strength to pull himself together. The djinn's fantasy world had really done a number on him and he desperately needed to find some kind of equilibrium despite the constant need and ache to be back in the safety and warmth of that world.
He knew it wasn't real. He knew it was simply a fantasy contrived from his own mind in order to keep him sedate and calm while the djinn drained his life away.
But that didn't mean he didn't feel the loss.
He missed her.
How pathetic did that make him?
After almost twenty-five years, he still missed his mother so much that some evil, soul-sucking monster had been able to use it against him and almost succeed in getting him to give up everything.
Dad would've been so proud.
Sure, he'd managed to pull himself out of the fantasy – by killing himself no less – but he had been taught better. He should have never let himself be sucked in in the first place. At least Sam seemed to understand. His brother had been more than patient, simply being there, hovering just on the fringe, never letting Dean sink into the depression that clawed at the edges of his soul.
He let his eyes drift to his brother's sleeping form. At least Sam was okay. That was all that really mattered anyway. The younger man had insisted they stop for the night, claiming fatigue, but Dean knew that he'd stopped out of concern for him. He had to admit that since their short talk back in the motel room, he hadn't felt like saying much of anything. He knew his silence was scaring his brother, but he had no idea what to say… how to explain how much this had hurt him.
He didn't want to scare Sam, but he needed time. He needed to process what had happened. It was like losing her all over again. When he was four, he'd handled his mother's death by withdrawing into himself, blocking out everyone and everything except his father and his little brother. By helping his dad take care of baby Sammy, he'd found a reason to live, a reason to move forward. When his dad had left on hunts, leaving him in charge of their welfare, Dean had begun to build himself into the man he needed to be.
He wasn't sure where to find that now.
Sure, he still had Sam, and he still believed it his job to protect his brother. But Sam wasn't a baby anymore. And he'd made it clear that he didn't need his big brother to fight his battles for him. Sam was an adult – a competent hunter that Dean respected enough to trust to have his back.
So what exactly did that leave him?
He raised a hand and rubbed at his head in an attempt to dispel the slight ache that had taken residence behind his eyes. He shivered as the cool night air drifted across his slightly damp skin. Grabbing the comforter from the bed, he silently rose and made his way across the darkened room, careful not to wake his brother.
The cabin was a one-room space with the two beds on the left and a small kitchen and living room to the right. It wasn't much larger than most of the motel rooms they ended up in, but it was quiet and Dean appreciated the thought his brother had taken when finding them a place to spend the night. It's not like he'd been much help in that area. Dean bit back a sigh of regret, knowing his behavior was causing his brother to worry. It wasn't like he meant to. But it wasn't everyday he had his entire world ripped out from under him….
Who was he kidding? His world had been ripped from under him so long ago, all that was left was a few memories meticulously hidden in the back of his mind.
Until the djinn had brought it all back with startling clarity.
Until his carefully buried dreams had come back to bite him in the ass.
He pulled the comforter tighter around his shoulders and turned to look at his brother, oblivious in slumber. Dean was glad Sam had been able to sleep. He'd stayed up the first night after they'd killed the djinn, watching over his brother, trying to give Dean some semblance of security so that he could rest.
Unfortunately, Dean's mind had been in overdrive, denying his exhausted body the respite it so desperately needed. When it became apparent there would be no sleeping as long as they remained in that town, Sam had agreed to pack up the Impala and head out, silently driving, allowing his big brother the time and space to rebuild his defenses.
Dean hoped like hell Sam knew how much that meant to him.
He was pretty sure he did.
He held his breath as Sam stirred, hoping his brother continued on in slumber. As much as Dean appreciated his brother's understanding and consideration, he didn't think he'd be able to stand looking into those sympathetic hazel eyes right now. He knew he was a mess -- that much was entirely too obvious. But he was the big brother. It was his job to protect Sam – not the other way around. If he was going to do his job, he needed to get himself together, and he didn't think he could do that with Sam watching his every move.
As soon as the younger hunter's breathing evened out again, Dean released a sigh of relief. Quietly padding to the door, he quickly opened it and slipped outside. Sam would probably be pissed that he was out in the chilled night air with just his jeans and a blanket, but right now he needed the space. He needed to feel… something. Anything.
He took a deep breath, the damp smell of the lake in front of the cabin tingling his senses. He could hear the gentle lapping of the waves against the dock, the sound almost welcoming in its placid cadence.
As he leaned against the front rail of the small wooden porch, he closed his eyes and let the sounds of the lake waft over him… the soft crush of the waves, the light ripple of the willowy grass, the gentle call of the wind….
Dean's eyes opened as another – unnatural -- sound carried over the distance. His gaze darted around the darkened shore, trying to pinpoint the sound. The sound increased in pitch until it overwhelmed the soft lapping of the water, drawing his complete attention out into the dark lake.
It was the sound of a woman crying.