So, almost exactly a year ago, Mystery Spot aired. At the time, I had two idea for fics. The funny one, "One Hundred Tuesdays," got written. The angsty one, "Nothing Matters But the Part with the Numbers," didn't. Except that now it has been written, and I'm trying to write the author's note for it. The whole idea for this fic stems from the idea that it would be almost frighteningly easy to step away from a time loop and simply...forget about it for a bit. And while it may only be a little while for the demigod creator, that could be forever in the mind of the only human who doesn't reset. Hence the weirdness of this story. Rating for one brief mention of sexuality and very minor profanity. (Title a reference to the way we register firearms in this country.)
Nothing Matters But the Part with the Numbers
(even though you could kill somebody with the rest and we all know it)
It is an eternity—an eternity trapped in a three-dimensional, seventeen-hour-long photograph. And he is the only intelligent life left.
In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray learned to play the piano in the time he was trapped within the same day.
In this, this hell, Sam is learning everything there is to know within a day's drive. Everything. Ever.
They will tell you that the human mind cannot hold that much knowledge. And Sam will tell you that they have never trapped the human mind in the mental and temporal version of a vacuum, given it eternity and no chance of escaping Florida.
He can recite every line from every book in the library on the corner of Fourth, he can list every website in existence by February 12th, 2008. He knows every detail of the life of Molly Eckles who lives on Sugarpalm Road, he knows how to prepare every dish in every diner in a thirty-mile radius.
Oh, it's not easy learning all this. It's impossible to drive seventy miles every day to the little Catholic church where he's currently memorizing every inflection of the priest's daily Mass homily, because sometimes he doesn't even make it out of the motel room. But he makes it enough of the time, because when you have an infinite number of Tuesdays you will always make it enough of the time.
And Dean? Dean is nothing but a memory to him now. Dean has a set list of responses to any given stimulus, and no original thought can ever come out of his head. Sam believes this is due to a lack of new stimuli, but some harsher part of him wonders if Dean was always this predictable and he never noticed because of the constant rush of changeable things.
He can't even die. Every time he tries, the act inevitably transfers to Dean. Bullets ricochet, mystery saviors cut down nooses only to accidentally slash at throat level, cars swerve away from him into the man on the curb. It's on purpose, he knows it. Something wants Dean dead, and it wants him to see.
Once, after twenty years of Tuesday, Sam carried through on a plan he'd hatched some years before. Every day was connected by only two concrete certainties—he would awaken to "Heat of the Moment" and Dean would die. There was nothing he could do about the former, and he could not prevent the latter. And therein lay the idea. He was always waiting for Dean's death, wasn't he? What if he took matters into his own hands?
It had been 7,307 Tuesdays at that point, understand. More Tuesdays than anyone should ever, ever see. It was the fantasy of Wednesday that led him to level the barrel at the soft spot in Dean's temple that Tuesday, that made him pull the trigger and brace against the kickback. The glass of Dean's window shattered, red and pink and grey clumped against the interior of the doorframe, and Asia started singing. Dean grinned and sang and went off to brush his teeth.
Sam screamed into his pillow for four consecutive Tuesdays as Dean drowned and suffocated and fell and inhaled toothpaste. It had been his last resource, the only thing he hadn't tried, and it was useless. All he could remember was the shock reverberating up his arm and the backspray of blood across his face.
And Dean will never know, never know that Sam's tried to kill him in a thousand different ways, hoping one is the trigger.
One morning they eat breakfast in the diner, because food is food no matter where they go. (Eighteen million, six hundred two thousand, twenty-seven Tuesdays since the first, but that's the one thing Sam doesn't know, refuses to know.)
"Oh, holy shit," a voice says, and that has never happened before.
And the man at the counter swings around, pushes a hand through his hair. Sam's mind fractures as Dean says, "Who the hell are you?" a given response but not in this situation because this has never happened before.
All he can think of is the forty-four times he's fucked Molly Eckles on the waterbed in her guest room and how she made the exact same noise every time, and he doesn't hear the words So how long's it been, Sam-my-boy?
He hears the sound of Dean's skull splitting against the windshield of a car nineteen thousand two hundred fifteen times and not Popped down to Rio for some drinks and must've left the loop running.
He pictures the exact sequence of colored tiles (two blue, nine beige, five orange, repeat to left corner adding one number to each total until you reach ten then restart at two) in the town hall men's bathroom and does not comprehend Wow, out of it, aren't we? Couple hundred? A thousand?
(This is when the trickster leans down, face close to Sam's, and recoils. Because he does not see a couple hundred, he does not see a thousand. What he sees in Sam's eyes is an eternity, a vast lonely existence that even he can't comprehend, a forever with no hope and no change and no salvation. And that's not…that's not what he meant to do. It's never what he meant to do.)
And Sam hears the semi with the loose exhaust that they pass at mile marker 26 every day they drive towards the coast, and Sam sees the long orange cat hair that always rests on the lapel of the bookstore clerk on Seventh, and Sam smells the fumes from the eighteen million, six hundred two thousand, twenty-seventh garbage fire two blocks away in the still air of the diner, and Sam—
Sam wakes up to Heat of the Moment for the one hundredth time, and he's just about sick to death of this life. He doesn't know if he can ever stop Dean from dying.
In the little green house on the corner of Stines and Greengrove, the man who was to order pancakes with maple syrup has come down with a sudden and severe case of the stomach flu.
In the diner a cleverly-disguised doppelganger of the man with the pancakes politely asks for strawberry syrup and makes sure it's in an easily-observable place.
The next day, it's Wednesday.