Title: And Nothing Else
Author: X Academy
Summary: It's been almost three years since the end of the Apocalypse, and Dean doesn't know how he's dealing until today.
Warnings/Rating: K+. Angst and just a little language.
Dean Winchester – 33
Lisa Braeden – 32?
Ben Braeden – 10?
Castiel – Ageless
Author Notes: I'd read an interview that Jensen Ackles had recently, and he discussed some things about Season Six. He said something along the lines of how different and strange normal life would be to Dean, since he's never lived that way. So I just decided to write something. :)
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or any of their characters. I just do this for fun. I need a life.
He woke up this morning with an odd feeling coiled in the pit of his stomach.
It felt like a snake, wound tight and tensed and sinister all wrapped up inside him, like a choke-chain on a dog. And every time Dean moved, the chain would tighten around his neck, choke him before he got smart enough to go back to his place and stop pulling against the damn leash.
Well, Dean never stayed too smart for too long.
Lisa had to work early this morning, so she was just having breakfast and getting ready to walk out the door when Dean finally dragged himself out of bed and out into the living room, his head heavy along with his heart, like usual. She told him that she'd be gone late, since she had to run a few errands after work, asked him to start dinner and try to do something today, asked if he was okay. He'd said yes, he'd try, and yes.
And he was sitting there, poring over his mug of coffee, when she'd kissed his temple in that gentle, loving way she had for the nine-hundred and forty-first time. She'd been doing that ever since he got here, for almost three years she'd kissed him in the same spot, and every time it left him with the same strange sensation.
It didn't warm him, nor did it make him uncomfortable. It just made him feel stranger and stranger every time, like he was falling away from himself every time she did it. Like the wallpaper he used to peel from the old motel rooms he'd called "home", it felt like bit by bit, Lisa was taking parts of himself away.
He never complained. Just let her do it.
He thought that maybe she was trying to fix him, like she was trying to put him back together instead of breaking him apart. Dean didn't tell her that it didn't work, because he didn't want to hurt her even more than he had already.
One time, he kissed her back, just gently on her cheek, but the awkward and wrong feeling it left him with was too much to ignore. Lisa understood, of course, but Dean could never forget the faint, disappointed look in her eyes.
He drove Ben to school today, since Ben hated riding the bus and Lisa wasn't there to force him to do it. Smiled at the boy, told him it was their secret, and the two enjoyed the feeling that they were doing something clandestine and against the rules. And when Ben had hopped out of his car, smiling jubilantly with a "bye Dean" as he ran up his school steps, Dean smiled back, even if it was only partially forced.
Ben reminded Dean too much of him, reminded Dean of how he would smile and joke with him. Reminded Dean of the secrets they used to share, and the secrets they didn't, but ended up being found out one way or another.
It took Dean longer than usual to get home. He was distracted and… lost. Dean didn't know why he kept taking the long way, over and over, or kept circling back to the same intersections. He just did.
Dean switched on Lisa's computer after avoiding it for awhile, because it reminded him of him, and how awesome he was with computers. Dean wasn't one with technology like he was; he wasn't best friends with the Internet and a dedicated disciple of Bill Gates like he was. And, Dean wasn't so keen on getting a job like Lisa wanted him to; his last stabs at the effort hadn't ended so well, and he knew that when he thought "work" he thought of rock salt and black eyes, not some cubicle or a uniform.
He remembered when he'd tried at becoming a cashier; that wasn't a pleasant experience. Dean lasted for three days before he finally snapped on some ignorant, aggravating, piece of scum customer; the man was lucky Dean hadn't put him in the emergency room like he wanted and very well could have done. He got a job at Ben's school as the janitor, but again, noses ended up broken along with his job, and Dean couldn't shake the feeling that something was watching him in the dark corners of the janitor's closet.
The best job he ever had next to hunting was his employment at the auto shop, and that was mainly because of his proficiency with cars and how at home he felt working amongst vintage engines and motor oil. He'd stayed there for a month and a half, no problems, no nothing. It was the day that a man walked in, clad in a trenchcoat and with eyes like sapphires, looking for a "Dean Winchester" that Dean had filed his notice. He walked out of there and didn't look back, and never had a job since then.
And now, a few months later, here Dean was, sitting in front of Lisa's computer and browsing the Classifieds for something that seemed plausible. Every time he saw something relatively interesting, he'd make up an excuse to not take the job. "Too familiar", or "Too aggravating". After an hour of doing that: considering something before blowing it off, Dean just turned the computer off and went to go watch TV, fighting the urge to smash the machine with his bare fists.
Lisa called him later on, asking if he could do some grocery shopping for her, asking if he was okay. He said yes, and yes. She relayed a list of things for him to pick up, like cereal and a six-pack of soda, then asked him if she needed to repeat anything. He said yes, since it delayed his trip by a few minutes. She reiterated the list and said goodbye, and Dean sat at the kitchen table for exactly fifteen minutes; he was watching the clock, before he grabbed his coat and the list he scrawled out and headed for his car.
In the cold January air, Dean's breath made small clouds around him, and for some reason, they made him think of him.
It was in the cereal aisle when Dean thought he'd gone crazy. He was just picking up a box of Frankenberry, just the kind Ben liked, when he dropped the package, struck. He didn't know what had hit him, only that it did, and that the odd feeling he had for nine-hundred and forty-one days just got so much worse. So much worse.
Dean realizes that this is wrong, that he's in the wrong place, that he's wrong for this world. He realizes how out of place he is here, and how much he misses all of himself. He misses the black eyes and the monsters, and the disappointment and the angels, and the depression and the road, and the pain and Sammy…
And he realizes that he hasn't thought of that name since the day he showed up on Lisa's doorstep.
Sam, Sam, Sammy. He tries it out, says the name over and over in his head until it doesn't even sound the same. Repeats that beautiful, painful mantra until he's saying it in his heart and he wants to cry, which is weird because he hasn't cried in nine-hundred and forty-one days.
He doesn't know how long he stands there. But when he finally snaps out of his trance, he picks up the box of Frankenberry, plops it into the shopping cart, and finishes finding the things he needs on the list. He checks out and goes to Lisa's house to drop the items off, then gets in his car and just drives.
Dean doesn't leave a note or call Lisa; he just gets in his car and drives off. Somewhere down the highway and halfway through Metallica, he remembers Ben and calls the boy's school, tells the receptionist that Ben has to ride the bus home. Dean doesn't know how he's going to explain that to Ben; "Oh, I went crazy in Albertsons, so I couldn't take you home, kid. Sorry."
It's almost eight o'clock when Dean stops, and he realizes that he's in Pontiac, Illinois at an abandoned gas station. The sun is sitting on the horizon; it's about to get dark. Dean doesn't care, and if he does, he doesn't notice it.
Dean starts walking nowhere in particular, leaving his car in the vacant parking lot. For some reason, he doesn't care whether or not someone finds it and jacks it, or vandalizes it, or anything like that. He stopped caring nine-hundred and forty-one days ago.
While he walks, he thinks. He thinks about everything, and about how much he wants out of this life. He tries to figure out just how he's going to tear his page out of the "Book of Normal Life", but then he realizes he's on the verge of breaking his promise to Sam.
As the skies get darker, so does Dean's thoughts. He starts to cry at some point, and it feels so damn good it makes him cry more. Even though it gets colder as the night bores on, Dean ends up taking his coat and jacket off until it's just him in his t-shirt and jeans. He starts to shiver, feels his nose start to clog up and the early signs of a cold start to show up, but Dean just lets it all happen, because it makes him feel human and it's painful and he likes that. It's the first kind of physical pain he's felt in a while.
When Dean stops, he's standing in front of a hole in the ground, marked with a cross. He remembers spending four months of his un-life here, and he almost feels at home. Dean sits in front of the hole and sort of hugs himself, still crying a little. He feels weird, with his face warm and feverish and his body freezing and trembling. He stares at the cross, stares at his grave, stares up at the sky but sees anything but that.
His cellphone keeps ringing and ringing, but Dean never answers it. He knows that Lisa is calling him, that she's worried sick about him, and even though Dean's guilty, he can't bring himself to answer her calls.
It doesn't take long for Dean to get really cold, scarily cold. He glances at his coat next to him, but doesn't move to put it on. He starts to get a little sleepy, but it's not the normal kind of sleepiness, and when he looks at his hands, they're pale. He starts to shudder harder, and his thoughts start to scramble a bit until he can't hold onto them for more than a few moments. Dean knows that it's hypothermia he's starting to experience, but more than anything, he doesn't want to move. And it scares him and pleases him all at the same time.
Dean's just starting to get confused, to get really tired and really cold until it feels like he's drunk, when he hears his name.
Just "Dean," in the simple, gravelly, sensual voice that's played in a loop in his head for nine-hundred and forty-one days. Dean's first instinct is to panic, to get scared of the voice, but then, he tells himself, it's just his thoughts tricking him like usual. But then he hears it again.
"Dean," and this time it's accompanied with a hand on his shoulder, fitting perfectly with the branded handprint there.
Dean doesn't know what to do, so he does nothing and just falls against Castiel, since he knows that's who it is. Castiel easily supports his weight and drapes his arms around Dean's shoulders, rubbing his unnaturally warm hands up and down the man's arms to restore some heat to him. Dean stares up at Castiel's face, only slightly surprised that he's wearing the same meatsuit, and just breathes and lets Castiel warm him up, lets himself go even more than he already has.
Castiel just stares back, and he looks partially like he wants to scold Dean for being so careless, partially like he wants to tell Dean something ominous and grave, since that seems to be all he's good for besides smiting and glaring, but mostly like he's… happy to see Dean again. Like he's relieved he found the man. Like he's thankful he's with him.
After awhile, Dean gets tired from the warmth and the comfort and the sturdy, supportive body that's beneath him, and so he closes his eyes. With Castiel still rubbing his hands up and down, up and down in the same repetitive, soothing motion, he closes his eyes and actually sleeps for the first time in nine-hundred and forty-one days.
And for the first time in nine-hundred and forty-one days, he's greeted with darkness, and nothing else.
Well. How was that?
While I wrote this, I never once looked back and read what I wrote; I hope it turned out better because of that.
I'm not sure how much I like this right now; I'm gonna go read it for the first time and see. XD By the way, the reason why the number 941 kept being mentioned is because I calculated the average number of days from Swan Song to when I wanted this to take place. I wanted it to be almost three years since, so I did the math and pulled out a calendar to get it right.
Reviews are appreciated.
- X Academy