Title: With Blood
Summary:Bobby Singer was just a friend to a widower, not minding the occasional babysitting. But his devotion for the Winchester family truly began when he was struck by a terminal illness and saved only by a sacrifice from Dean. Pre-Series.
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Surprise, Dean Winchester had said as he stood by Bobby Singer's door and just like that! he was back in Bobby's life, as if he had ever left. Because he'd died, sure, but he never left...
I'm the one who never leaves, Dean told him to his profound relief once, but after Dean died, Bobby hated it with a passion. When he told Dean the last few months haven't been easy, he damn well meant it. Everything in his house, even his own body was a reminder of that stupid idiot. When Sam left, there was a part of Bobby that was relieved that one more painful reminder of Dean Winchester had gone out his door.
Surprise, Dean had said, and since then they've gone from catching up on what happened over the last few months while Dean was away to tracking down Sam, to now being in Bobby's car on their way to see him.
Dean was asleep on the passenger side, looking thoroughly wrung-out. Trips to hell and back were supposed to do that, Bobby figured. But he looked so damn dead that Bobby's heart started speeding up and he suddenly found himself pulled up to the shoulder of the road, shit-scared that Dean had died along the length of the trip or that he was going stir-crazy.
His hand shot out to Dean's shoulder, and he really should have thought this over before startling a fellow-hunter, because suddenly Dean had a knife to his throat and a madness in his eyes that told Bobby without a shadow of a doubt, that while Dean had been asleep and Bobby was reliving the hell of having lost him, Dean was reliving a hell of his own inside his head.
"Jesus christ," Dean gasped, pulling away from Bobby and scrambling to get out the car, falling to his hands and knees on the ground and dry-heaving in sickness, "I coulda fucking killed you," he glared up at Bobby, who got out the car and stood, watching over him uncertainly as he threw up.
"I really coulda," Dean went on as he heaved some more, "I coulda killed you. You don't do shit like that, Bobby. I can really hurt people." The thought of that seemed to have made him more sick, "I really hurt people."
"Dean..." Bobby breathed, but he wasn't sure what to say, wasn't even sure what to think outside of What's life thrown at you this time?
He'd seen the younger man when he was a wary kid, a gentle soul hidden behind walls so thick Bobby had to barrel through them. He remembered the first time they met, John looking like he was at the end of his rope, ineffectively concealing hunting injuries from his young sons. Dean – then just seven or eight years old - stood between his father and Sam, and he had his hands clutching his father's and brother's. John was beat to hell and Sam was half-asleep and they both looked like dead weight. Dean was wide-awake, compensating for all three of them.
Bobby patched John up under Dean's watchful eye, and Sam slept on the bed curled up against his father, the two boys lending John their own brands of comfort. Bobby felt uneasy over this man-child and how he stared, took everything in. When he said he was getting the Winchesters food to eat, Bobby was pretty sure Dean trailed him in the kitchen not because he wanted to help, but because he wanted to make sure that Bobby didn't slip anything in their food, or didn't do anything to bring his family to danger. Well that, and to show Bobby exactly how Sam liked his mac and cheese.
Figures as since you're here ya might as well be useful, Bobby remembered telling Dean, and the kid had been all up for it, up until he burned his hand. He was going to keep it from Bobby, but the older hunter sat him down on the lid of the toilet, told him his dad was gonna get right-pissed if they didn't take care of it, and Bobby patched Dean up.
He liked the kid as early as then; he was a tough bastard who didn't let up, didn't know when to quit, didn't know how. He knew John Winchester's sad-ass story because everyone did; there was no other hunter crazy enough to drag two kids around in hunts with him. Bobby had a thing or two to say about that, but it wasn't his business. Either way, from the stories, he felt sorry for the kids. From when he met them, he admired them.
Since that first meeting, he'd seen Dean in all his forms, standing up against everything that rammed its way into his life. He'd seen Dean in quiet intensity when they were working. He'd seen Dean bear unimaginable physical pain. He'd seen Dean in all his quiet generosity to Sam, his devotion to his father, his dedication to his job. He'd seen Dean in wistful quiet, he'd seen him in all forms of humor – loud and lewd, or subtly witty and clever. He'd seen Dean pissed as hell and desperate, interrogating a demon on a quest to rescue his father. He'd seen Dean in impotent rage after his father's death. He'd seen Dean in slipping masks, not knowing what to do about his brother. He'd seen Dean at his lowest low, after losing Sam.
Sometimes he knew how to help him, other times he didn't. One of his greatest regrets in life was walking away from Dean and Sam's corpse saying, 'You know where I'll be.' He thought about that damn day for months, how much different things would have been if he just stayed; Dean wouldn't have made a crossroads deal, Dean wouldn't have died... a lot of would-not-have-been's. He thought long and hard about why he left in the first place; he left for the same reasons he left Dean to his quiet suffering years ago, when he was bearing his pain for Bobby – Bobby wanted to respect his space. Bobby wanted to give him the avenue to cry and rage for his catharsis, and he wasn't going to do that in front of anybody. Bobby left because he didn't think Dean would be so desperate he'd sell his soul. Bobby left because the world was ending and it needed him too. Bobby left because seeing Dean the way he was... it was crushing. It felt like deep and profound hopelessness, stifling the very air around him. Bobby could only explain that feeling as being like... when he was a kid and he saw his father cry, it felt like the absolute end of the world. If the one person whom you've always believed could make things right was in tears, then you'd better believe you are fucked. That was how it felt like; Dean, who could carry on in the face of everything, damn near tears, meant that they were in an irredeemable situation.
I should have stayed, Bobby thought. He'd thought it the whole year they tried to look for ways to save Dean from the deal. He'd thought it the last months that Dean was burning in hell. He was thinking it even now, looking at the worn-out kid heaving on the ground in front of him.
"I'm sorry," he suddenly blurted out.
"What?" Dean asked, his confusion enough of a distraction that he began to gather himself from the ground. He wiped at his mouth with his sleeve.
"I should have stayed," Bobby stammered, "I shouldn't have left--"
He wished fervently that he stayed, especially thinking that at that point – Mary and John and Sam dead - everyone in Dean's life had left him.
His voice broke off, and Dean just stared at him for a long moment, finally figuring out that he was apologizing for having left Dean at Cold Oak.
"I'd have found a way," Dean told him evenly, "Alone or with a crowd, Bobby, you have to know that. I couldn't let him die. He's my brother. I'd do it again."
Bobby shuddered at the thought. If things happened all over again, he'd jump in a crossroads himself and beat Dean to it. The months without him... they were unimaginable. There was guilt and failure, yes, but more than anything was that there was a profound sense of loss. That was the worse feeling of all: guilt he could blame himself for. Blaming himself meant he could devote himself to work and try to make up for his shortcomings. Failure was also something he could punish himself for. But loss? Just the sense of absence, inaccessibility, and all your happy memories tainted by the certainty that it was gone forever? That's what had him swimming in bottles of liquor.
"Well don't," Bobby said quietly.
Dean shrugged, staggered forward and leaned against Bobby's car. He was shaking a little bit with cold sweat and weariness and nerves that were just shot.
"You all right?" Bobby asked, and it was a stupid question, but what the heck.
"No," Dean admitted, and he laughed at himself mirthlessly. Bobby hated the sound, hated the weary defeat in his eyes, "God, Bobby. I really coulda killed you. Don't fucking do that again."
Bobby watched him carefully, and there were things here that weren't being said, he knew. Hell was not a place you left unscarred. What's death thrown at you this time...?
"I'm good now," Dean said.
"We can stop by somewhere--"
"Wanna see Sam," Dean insisted, "Gotta see Sam."
"Okay," Bobby said, "You got it."
Dean settled back in the passenger seat, and Bobby reclaimed his driver's side.
"I came from hell and I'm still the one running after people," Dean muttered as he shifted and closed his eyes, "You saw that crap of a car I had to use to get to your place? The next time someone calls using my voice, Bobby, for crying out loud, give 'im the benefit of the doubt."
Bobby snorted, started the car and then hesitated. He reached behind him to the backseat, drew out and unfolded a blanket. Dean started when it was draped over him.
"Didn't we just have this talk?" Dean complained. But Bobby was relieved that he didn't physically lash out, or try to stop Bobby from fussing. A guy doesn't leave hell unscarred, yeah, but Dean didn't enter it without being buffered by strength or love. He let Bobby have his way and once he began, Bobby couldn't stop trying to make it perfect. When he fussed, he really fussed, and it was like his hands couldn't stop from smoothing at the blanket, making sure Dean was warm. It made him feel useful, made him feel damn blessed that he could do this service because it meant Dean was back.
Surprise, the damn idiot had said, standing by his door, back as if he had ever left.
I'm the one who never leaves...
Bobby's eyes watered in relief.
"This is the part where I say," Dean said softly, "I'm sorry old man, I am not comfortable with this and that I should scream or run and call another adult."
Bobby sniffed, hid it in a laugh.
"I'm not really cold," Dean said, "It's the damn shakes. My fucking nerves, man, it's all turned to shit. It goes away in the morning. You just gotta leave it alone.."
"You can't expect to be the same, Dean," Bobby told him gently, "Sometimes you gotta just take help 'cos sometimes, shit like this? It's gonna be around in the morning. So you just sit back, and let me be here too, all right?"
"Heck yeah I'm gonna bother," Bobby retorted, "We just got you back, Dean. We get to do things like this for a little while, and you get to shut your trap and take it."
"Bobby..." Dean hesitated, "I don't... I don't des-" he bit his tongue before he could continue, and Bobby wondered what he could have meant. Deserve? He didn't deserve to be cared for?
"I did some things," Dean said, and his eyes clouded, went distant and glassy and far away. "These things..." he bit his tongue again, and Bobby stared at him for a long time.
He blinked and instead of continuing, said "I'm just supposed to shut my trap and take it, huh?"
Bobby blinked too, feeling disoriented by the shift, "Yeah."
"Like I can ask for pie and other crap," Dean said, smiling a little.
"Anything you want," Bobby said, and he was damn serious too.
"How about we get this show on the road?" Dean asked.
Bobby did as promised, feeling troubled about what Dean was trying to say. But it's only been a day, and the most important thing was that Dean was back... hurting, but back. Bobby will get him to Sam if he died doing it. He'd get him pie and anything else Dean could think of. Whatever the hell was going on they'd fix it. Dean was back, and that was about all Bobby could ask for.
September 24, 2009
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I. Medical Disclaimers and Organ Donation
II. Tie-in With The Series
III. The Characters
IV. Massive Thanks and Replies
V. The Next Project/s
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I. Medical Disclaimers and Organ Donation
To my mother's despair, haha, I never turned out to be a doctor. With Blood, I think, by now has shown the depth (or lack thereof) of my grasp of medicine or ability to convey my research knowledge with confidence. With this in mind, I made sure to stick to the basics, and used supernatural excuses when I could, haha; Bobby's illness is from a supernatural cause, with luckily naturally curable consequences.
There are three 'real life' medical notes that can be taken from With Blood. The first is that, as one reviewer generously shared her knowledge to me, many people manage to live long and fruitful lives with some levels of kidney failure. Diagnoses like these must not be met with paralyzing fear; there are almost always options and routes that could be explored.
Second, it must be noted that organ failures and transplants are extremely complex – far more complex than as depicted in With Blood. To begin with, the need for a transplant is contingent upon many physiological factors, even the allowance of inclusion in a transplant list banks on a lot of processes. Following that, testing procedures for donors involve physical aspects: general physical health, health history, blood-type matching, tissue-typing, even reactions of antibodies, are checked for. The testing procedures also involve psychological aspects for donors to assure that they are in the proper frame of mind to make these decisions. I believe there is also a lot of legislation protecting rights of donors that involve social case workers who check financial records and other indicators that may show if the choice to donate is properly made. Even recovery times are tricky, and all of this is to say nothing of complications, because consequences vary from case to case. There are also several kinds of live donation, and I think there's even a kind where if a donor doesn't match with a targeted recipient, the donor can be matched up to someone else's donor who doesn't match his targeted recipient. There's just a whole huge world out there of research that is interesting, far wider than With Blood can feature.
Lastly, I am personally amenable to organ donation and this is even indicated in the ID that I carry around in my wallet. I personally believe that it's its own version of everyday heroism. As a disclaimer, With Blood is hardly the sort of document to use as a contributing factor to your own decision if you want to be an organ donor too. But inextricably, since it is the subject of the fic, the topic is out there, and it is always worth thinking about. If you are intrigued, inform yourself because there is a lot of information out there.
Anyway, that aside, I took the creative liberty of breezing past the technicalities and focusing instead on the more prevalent, dramatic theme of With Blood, which was the element of sacrifice and the willingness to accept aid.
II. Tie-In With the Series
Some of you might have noted the recurring lines borrowed from the series? I wanted to use the language as a tool for characterization, like an emphasis of them being who they are and talking how they talk, if that makes any sense, haha. Foremost of all these, of course, was the title of the fic itself – With Blood was borrowed from Bobby's statement to Dean in No Rest for the Wicked: 'Family don't end with blood, boy.' Which my fic also used as Dean's way of convincing Bobby to accept his help. Less notable lines borrowed from the series would be Bobby's 'Damn it Dean' or 'I could throttle you,' and Dean asking Bobby how long he had left and Bobby answering a year, which was meant to be reminiscent of All Hell Breaks Lose. There might be a few more lines snuck here and there that I can't think off right off the bat, but anyway, that's why they're there: to make With Blood a more believable part of the series, and to swap perspectives around that would allow us to believe how these two stubborn characters alternately convince the other to accept help :)
III. The Characters
As always, I do my standard explanation of possibly questionable character depictions in this section:
I was actually very scared of his 'soft' depiction here. When he was explaining to Bobby in Chapter 2 of why he had a right to butt into Bobby's business, I totally re-hashed that part maybe thrice or so, haha, because I was so cautious that the chick-flick-moment was uncharacteristic. But we all know Dean can be the king of denial too, so I chick-flick-moment-ed away, and could only hope that the end result is not too much of a divergence from how people imagine him to be.
When I write a story, I get inspired by scenes or lines that I build a plot around. The first lines that gave birth to With Blood were Dean's when he told his doctor that pain he could live with, losing Bobby he couldn't. From then on, the fic just grew, but I used that as the cornerstones of his characterization here: Dean is a big bag of love and pain because of it both literally - through the pain he suffers for his donation – and figuratively – what I referred to as the 'asymmetry of his love' where he can care for people who all leave him behind. It's love all shrouded in pain, if that makes sense to you :) Angst aside though, I hope fervently that I still managed to retain his sense of humor and his fighting spirit because Dean is not Dean without those.
From how much Bobby helps the boys in the series, it makes sense that he should be perceived as part of the family, even like a father to Dean. But what was the source of his devotion to them? What keeps Bobby Singer devoted to the Winchesters? With Blood became a thesis for that.
I actually am self-aware enough to know that I'm not the strongest of the Bobby writers out there but I am a fan, and hope that this shines through. I started writing this fic before season 5 came out and as the series zeroed in on him in the hospital and being hurt more and more, I started getting apprehensive about my characterization, haha. But I do hope I gave this beloved character a fair turn.
The thing about Bobby in season 5 is that we see him minus the superhero vibe that permeated his character in the previous seasons – he knew everything, even languages, and could kick ass too. How he is coping so far with his disabilities in season 5 shows a more human side that I hope is echoed in With Blood; he gets mean (as he had been in Chapter 1 in an effort to avoid confrontation), and of course he also gets scared.
My favorite Bobby-parts in With Blood is actually when he is most 'broken,' or hesitant and out of his comfort zone: (1) when he is trying to figure out if he should interfere with Dean or not, if he had a place in the younger hunter's life that allowed for interference and open compassion; and (2) when he is trying to find the courage to say 'no' to Dean's offer but runs into a wall when he finds out he's just human and couldn't.
I never ever mean to vilify this man, I love the character and I love JDM, but his flaws are fascinating, and I could only hope that I also fairly portray the humanity of those flaws, how easy it is anyone can sink into his errors given the same position. In Chapter 1 we see that he loves his son and cares for him a lot, but we also have a sense of his delusion, which none of the two men who know him missed. When John told Sam in In My Time of Dying that he tried his best, I think he really did and I hope that comes out in With Blood. He tried his best to raise a family in the context that his life crash-landed on. It was like trying to make lemonade out of vinaigrette; what came out was a sour approximation, but that was all he could do. So the John-paradigm in With Blood is that he is a flawed but loving father who is too focused on his work.
Now, the unmentioned part of With Blood also contributes to his absenteeism at this point in Dean's life. He was in Minnesota in 2002, and if I got the data correctly, Little Bro Adam was born in 1990, and asked his mother to get in touch with his dad when he was twelve. His dad is said to have left everything behind to meet him. John having spent time with that other family in 2002 is why I dropped hints of him sounding happy or looking healthy in this story. He understands his responsibilities to Dean and Sam and his late wife and society in general, but I think he still longs for normal too. He found the Milligans as his chance and occasional refuge for that. It's always been a series staple that he's more like Sam than either of them know and when I saw Jump the Shark it was actually one of my first thoughts – it seemed that Dean was the only Winchester who never led a domesticated double-life.
One of my favorite scenes in With Blood is when John looks at Bobby and Dean jealously in Chapter 4; it's supposed to signify changes that happened after the transplant in the dynamics of Dean's fatherly relationships. In Chapter 1, it was Bobby watching father and son and he thinks about what was missing in his own family life, but it reverses in Chapter 4. It was also why John was prickly at Bobby: he'd been scared for Dean, he felt replaced, he was coming from the shock that was Adam, and well... the short of it is that he had a lot going on during the timeline even if it was not explicitly stated, and I just wanted to clarify that he is not a villain here, but also a victim of circumstances.
Okay, so Sam was barely in this story, haha... but I submit to you, and I feel very strongly about this, that anySupernatural fic that has just one of the two brothers inextricably has something to say about the other. In With Blood, what is glaring about Sam is his absence-presence. He is physically not in the story, but every single chapter had him there: chapter 1 emphasizes his absence. Chapter 2 noted Dean's longing to call him. Chapter 3 gives a reason of why Sam is not an active part of Dean's life anymore. Chapter 4 is a throwback to the fact that he left when John looks scared that he might lose Dean too. There's a small Sam side-story to With Blood too :) And of course, the phone call cameo was one I could not resist; I had to establish that he and Dean were still somehow fine despite a lonely, natural 'drifting apart.' As Dean said to Bobby in the story – 'suddenly months turn to years and at the end of it all, maybe they still know each other and maybe they don't. They'd still care for each other, but maybe they'd still know each other and maybe they won't.' On a lighter note though, is that people in Sam's school knew he 'had a Dean' in his other life, and it was a small quirk that I really liked. Even Jess knew Dean in the Pilot, unless I remember incorrectly. Anyway, I figured it had to have given Dean a little bit of pleasure to know he was someone Sam would tell people about.
IV. Massive Thanks and Replies
As always, I am overwhelmed by the support and people reading, reviewing, alerting and favorite-ing me or my fics. I always say that this fandom is a tough one – the grasp of language, the knowledge of the nuances of pop culture, the outspoken fans – we've had to be tough, since this show is like the little engine that could, haha. We tend to be very protective of it, and I admire the fandom even as it scares the hell out of me, haha. But I do thank you sincerely, and as profoundly as I can possibly say, for taking the time to read and to let the tale sink in and involve you, and for sharing your insights. The reviews are invaluable both as encouragement and even more so for improvement. We truly are a community and we really help enrich each other, so thank you to all for your attention, and especially to all who reviewed:
adder 574, Aimed mischief, AllieMcD, alwaysateen, Amity Bell, AmyNY, anjali23sk, Anime's-misetress, Anne1013, annie2000, badaiwind, Batman'sBeauty18, calamitycrow (thanks for the reco!), cheryl24, CiZiwejes, DarkandtwistyGirl, deangirl1, em182, Emaya, embroiderama, Febraf, Foreverwolf, gr8read, greeneyedelf001, I'mcalledZorro, InSecret, JackFan2, K-Marie-M, ladie red, Lady Chekov, Lia Walker, Mandy, Marlowe97, masondixon, Maz101, Meggin Lane, milkyway22, Miyo86, mtee1958, notime, nvkjen, Ophium, Phoebe, Psychee, rogueclasique, snchills, sonoralie, suicidalqueen, Supernatural24, thevigilante15 and Yohko Bennington.
I also wish to thank those who reviewed anonymously; thank you so much for your generosity and your thoughts. Please note that I will be sending out more detailed PM responses to address some queries in the next few days, haha, so don't be surprised to hear from me again. In the meantime, I guess I just really wanted to thank everyone :) If I somehow got cross-eyed and missed your name, please call me out on it; I am of a complete and absolute commitment to express my gratitude for you sharing your time :)
V. The Next Project/s
Oh gosh, where do I start... I'm like writing three things all at the same time right now, haha... I think I'll end With Blood sans a preview, since I haven't posted some stories that I've already previewed in past afterwords and I'm starting to feel like I owe a ton of people a ton of things, haha.
As an update though, Open, Shut (which was previewed at the end of Steps Behind) is already fully-written and is just in the beta stage, so look out for that :)I am also writing an expanded form of one of the un-drabbles from my post The Bough Breaks, which will be an account of that last hunt before Stanford that got so bad it finally got Sam packing his bags. There's a couple more, but if I started getting into that here I might never stop, haha.
I guess for now I just really want to convey my gratitude, and hope you found the fic enjoyable and worth your time. Please keep me in mind the next time you want to read an SN fic, as I will hopefully be posting more sometime soon :) 'Til the next post everyone!