6.01 Exile on Main Street backstory. Set a few months after 5.22 Swan Song.

Dean isn't coping very well with normal…or maybe it's he can't cope with losing Sam to Hell. This is a bit angsty to start, but hopefully not too much…well, at least by the end. Despite his anguish, Dean is strong and has always managed to find a way to fight through his pain and keep going. It is what we've come to expect from him.

I am basically spoiler-free, and the first three chapters of this was written before 6.01 aired, but I think it fits in well with what the show has given us so far. I don't know if Show will give us flashbacks, but this is how I imagine Dean processed his grief and eased into his new life where we find him in the S6 premiere. Thanks for reading, B.J.

xxx

"We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears." - François de la Rochefoucauld

Promises

Chapter One – As Night Comes, Darkness Descends

"Dean, what are you doing up?"

He had his back to her; standing at the far end of the small bedroom she called an office. Her voice was soft, barely intruding upon the still the night always brought, but the unexpected movement as she came up behind him caused his broad shoulders to startle and then he froze, rigid and tense, his eyes closing in denial, his lips parting in a silent gasp. His shoulders folded in, his neck compressing down like a turtle retreating to its shell before he cast off the reaction and his arms went to work, shuffling the papers together, trying to contain the damage by stacking them in a haphazard pile, his clenched fist the paperweight to hold them. "What? Nothin'," he rasped out, his voice like sandpaper, rough against the words, scraping along his intent. He then moved to push and pull the assortment of worn leather-bound books to the side of the small desk, stacking them in another heap, the last stray notes scratched on slips of torn paper tossed on top of the pile, efficiently returning the surface to its normal pristine state. Turning off the small lamp over the work station he cast the room in a dull dim, his last act before he turned to face her, a nervous smile pulling at the corners of his lips, his eyes sweeping over the shadows now haunting the room, a habit he couldn't seem to break.

Lisa took two more steps to close the remaining distance, tenderness and concern in tandem with her movements, slow and graceful, used to calming actions, the ease with which she moved to comfort him now second nature. Like a human entering a wild animal's cage, she offered gentle sounds, soft and mellow, not wanting to spook him or cause him further distress. The moment when she made contact as her hand graced the side of his face had him leaning into the touch, allowing her to soothe him as his long lashes fluttered closed against his cheek, luminous green eyes shuttered away. Long, slender fingers then glided down his neck, coming to rest on top of his shoulders, massaging at the tension before she gently pulled him to her, wrapping her arms across strong shoulders and caressing the back of his neck with feather-light touches, then reaching deeper to knead the tight coils within his shoulders and upper back. Her words melding with the calming actions as she whispered in his ear, "You know you can't."

He nuzzled into her warmth, fiercely grabbing hold, his voice choking back his broken sobs as his eyes lost focus. "I know…I know." His voice fracturing away to nothing as he trembled, locked in the tenderness of her embrace.

"Please," she murmured, "come back to bed."

Somehow he found his voice, forcing out the words, burying everything else. "Yeah…yeah, just ah…give me a minute, okay?"

He was still trembling as she released him, more from the fight to regain control; that was a constant, his mind warring between how he felt and what was expected, trying to reconcile the two when his heart knew that could never happen. Her hand again found the side of his face, those eyes that held no secrets shimmering in the moonlight coming in through the window as he reacted to her gentle caress. Her voice went lower, softer, as tender and forgiving as she could possibly make it. "You know you can't," she repeated, her own heart tightening to see him struggling within this torment, to know the twists and turns his mind took when darkness fell, when the terrors of an endless night reminded him of everything he'd lost and dare not try to recapture.

This time he was the one to move to hold her, gripping tightly as he pulled her back to him, his chest heaving as he held on to life, to hope; the beating of her heart the only thing keeping him going, reminding him that his brother's sacrifice meant something.

"Shhh," she whispered, "Shhh, it's all right. I'm here."

He shuddered against her, his breathing heavy and strained, and then his body stiffened, braced for impact, ready to snap, just break in two and crumble to the floor in defeat. "No. It's not all right…it will never be all right." He choked against the meaning; the words repugnant, no easier to say now than they had been then. His mind unable to approach the horrors Sam was enduring, horrors he himself knew all too well. "I can't stop seeing him," he mumbled. He shook from the images, the sounds…the truth. His words abruptly stopped, lost and meaningless, worthless as he buried his face in the crook of her neck, closing his eyes and embracing her warmth as the chill within him grew more desperate. Her scent of lavender and vanilla pulling at his senses, familiar and safe, but not enough to temper his grief, nor offer rescue. "Sammy…" was the only intelligible word in the midst of his sobs.

xxx

Mornings were better; or as good as they could possibly be under the circumstances. Dean tried to hold it together for Ben's sake, for Lisa, for what Sam wanted and expected of him. He forced his mind to focus on the now, on his new job, on normal, on existing, on not becoming a hollowed-out shell of the man he had once been. He knew he was doing a piss-poor job of it, but it was the best he could manage. He didn't think it was fair of Sam to expect this from him, and yet, he didn't want to disappoint him.

Ben helped in ways the boy couldn't even comprehend, with every simple request that nudged Dean closer to normal: by asking him to drop him off at school, by inviting him to his ballgames, by simply being a kid and just being. By letting Dean do the same: to just be, existing, as is, without too many demands. Ben had been without a dad for so long, he only wanted someone to be there. Dean was there, even if he wasn't. Somehow Ben accepted that.

Perhaps the hardest part was seeing how Lisa looked at him, with love and concern but also pity. For once he hadn't held back. Like Cassie before, he couldn't lie to her. Somehow he wanted someone besides himself and Cas and Bobby to know, to understand who Sam was and what he had done. To appreciate the sacrifice and courage his brother had shown in those final moments…to understand, even if he couldn't.

He knew it was the only way this thing between them stood a snowballs-chance-in-hell of working. Most of the time he was moody and distant, angry and unreasonable, and while he tried to contain the rage and despair he felt, he knew it wasn't possible. At least Lisa learned early on what to expect and for the life of him, he couldn't understand why she let him stay.

Sam's words had been so prophetic and true, 'If Lisa is dumb enough to take you in', and somehow, in spite of every good reason why she shouldn't, she had. Dean doubted he'd ever understand it. He was too damaged, too broken, to be what she deserved or Ben needed.

A part of him wanted to leave, leave before he damaged them too. Leave before she saw the light and kicked him out. It would be easier to make it his choice and yet, he found he didn't know where else to go, what else to do.

He didn't have the heart to hunt and he had nothing else calling him. He was free to do as he pleased and yet nothing pleased him.

The truth was he was lost, with no means to find his way back.

As much as he'd thought on it, he couldn't figure it out. Nothing made sense. He was existing within a black hole, an unforgiving, vacant, soul-crushing void.

He had finally gotten the girl of his dreams and all he felt was unworthy.

He didn't want to be alone and yet he was, as alone as he had ever been.

He was miserable, and if he were to be honest with himself, a bit pathetic.

For all those years on the road, he'd denied he wanted normal, railing against the white-picket-fence suburbia trap and yet he somehow always knew in his heart of hearts that he did want something of his own, a family, a home and yet, this was the closest he could ever come to imagining it and it wasn't enough. Not nearly enough.

He didn't need some fantasy, some dream-come-true storybook ending, but he needed more than this. He needed real.

Sam had sent him back to his fondest dream and it turned out it wasn't what he wanted after all.

So now what was he supposed to do?

How could he possibly fix this when all he knew was he was broken and any possible fix was beyond his means?

None of this meant anything without Sam.

He needed his brother.

He needed Sam.

In his own way he loved Lisa, and he adored Ben, still…they weren't his family.

His family was gone, sacrificed in some unholy war and ripped from his grasp. All he could think about was Sam and finding a way to save him and yet, he knew he couldn't.

Not now, not ever.

The world was safe.

After all they'd inflicted on it, after all the horrendous mistakes and deadly wrong turns, after taking humanity to the very brink of the apocalypse, the world was finally safe. In spite of all the threats and dire predictions, all the worse case scenarios that almost came to be, they had ultimately caged up Lucifer and set things right.

Over six billion people were still alive. Six billion… How could he even consider poking at that cage? How could he risk unleashing Lucifer again? How could he justify being that reckless? That selfish?

How could he risk it all to save his brother?

How could he not?

TBC

bjxmas

September 2010

All standard disclaimers apply.

This is a work in progress, which I swore I would never again do. Unfortunately, the premiere is this week. Wait a sec, did I just say unfortunately? Strike that! Hallelujah our show is back! The issue for me is I felt like I needed to post this story before we see how the show handles things and makes my story obsolete. I have three chapters written but I'm still not 100% clear on when or how I will end it. It could possibly become a season long series. I suppose that depends on the response and my own time constraints, and what new inspiration Season Six brings.

With an actual paying job that demands too much of my time it becomes the old story of too many stories and not enough time. I'll try not to take too long between updates.

So, I hope you enjoy and please review if you do. Any and all comments are always welcome. Take care, B.J.

OUR SHOW IS ALMOST BACK! TWO DAYS, PEOPLE! *smiles contentedly*