A/N: And so my friends we gather again on July 18, my ficiversary (which is totally a word). Five years ago today, I first posted Graduation Day. It's been an amazing five years, full of ups and downs and everything else imaginable. In fact, in a life that has been turned upside down, the one thing that has remain constant is this, my writing, my fic, and posting, keeping me grounded in a storm that would otherwise sweep me away. I don't say it enough, but thank you all for an amazing five years. Thank you for kind words and encouragement, love and support. You make it all worthwhile. Huge Winchester hug to all of you. Extra special thanks to Merisha, Abni, TraSan.
A/N II: A word about this fic. I have had the prologue bouncing around my computer for a couple of years. I think I wrote it first back in season three. I set it aside because it wasn't ready, as was the idea of The Hunting of the Snark. That idea has been poking me since October 2008 when I first met TraSan. I adore Lewis Carroll's poem and wrote a major paper back in my academic days, but apparently I was not destined for that life (I think they thought I didn't take it too seriously—in fact shortly after the Snark paper I was told at a history conference my published paper was "colorful and flamboyant" which in academic translates as "burn the witch") Anyway, I digress. I nearly scrapped the whole thing after the season five finale, but then thought, to quote Dean, "Nah". I love the prologue and the story ... and so we embark.
A/N III: And I promise to shut up after but you need to know two things. One: all quotes are from the most magnificent The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll. Two: This is not a death fic let me repeat that just so you are sure of it NOT DEATH FIC! NOT NOT NOT! BEEEEP NOT DEATH FIC! I pinky swear promise.
The Hunting of a Snark
With Apologies to Lewis Carroll
Hat Point, Hell's Canyon, Oregon, within view of the Seven Devils Mountain Range
One minute, ten seconds after.
Silence, just the faintest lingering sound of laughter on the air, maniacal, all-consuming, life-devouring laughter. And then it was still echoing—not on the wind, but in his mind. The rest was silence.
Three days, five hours, seven minutes, fifteen seconds after.
Dean stood by the chasm and looked down at the rocks below. The wind whipped up the solid rock face, buffeting him, howling around him. He looked down, wondering what it would feel like—that fall, plunging over and for a moment flying, freeing him of everything.
"Time to go," he said, and walked to the car.
One week, one day, nine hours, thirty minutes, two seconds after.
The werewolf got so close he could taste its breath, the fetid stench whipping around him like the wind from the chasm. He let the creature grab him, let it think that his neck would make its next meal. At the last moment, and with a half second of regret, he put his gun against its chest and pulled the trigger.
"Another one down," he said, and turned from the body.
That night he dreams.
One month, two weeks, six days, one hour, ten minutes, forty-five seconds after.
It was close, the closest call there had been in a while. Not for want of trying, of course, but luck just didn't seem to be coming Dean's way and he'd managed to escape harm every single hunt, every single creature, every single attempt to throw himself into the jaws of death. Not this time. He was torn up, the creatures claws opening his flesh as easily as tearing through paper.
"No," he said as the first stitch pulled his skin.
"No," he protested the next stitch as well, batting at the hand holding him down, but he didn't have the strength.
"Yes, damn it." There's a pause and a prick, a tiny sting in a world of hurt and everything went dark.
He hates the dark, it's full of dreams, they never leave him now, sometimes even when he's awake and aware they are there. It's madness, full-fledged and he is ready to embrace it.
Two months, three weeks, five days, thirteen hours, thirty-nine minutes, three seconds after
It was getting warm, even the shadows were beginning to have a gentle warmth in them. Dean walked slowly through the yard, it felt odd to be up and in the sun. The lingering effects of the wounds, an infection and another hunt gone sour had sapped his strength to the point where he'd spent several weeks in and out of awareness. Still that internal counter kept functioning. Sometime in the dark of night he'd made a decision, though, which was why he was up carefully picking his way through the yard. He had shoved aside the madness, promised it he would be there soon, and walked into the sun.
"You should be in bed."
"Yeah, it will kill me to be up, right?" Dean answered.
"No, it's time, I have to go back. I..." The guilt was overwhelming. "We..."
"I have to, it's nearly three months. I..." He blinked, the tears stinging his eyes.
"Find the creature, kill it and..." He swallowed the lump, the ache tightening in his chest.
"The body... We..." Tears began burning down his cheeks, tiny tracks of acid.
"Dean... The chasm is..."
"I don't care," Dean said finally, trying to breathe around the pain in his chest.
"Yes, I've listened to you for almost three months."
"And I'm not anymore," Dean met the other man's eyes. "I'm going back, Bobby. If nothing else to see if his bones are there, and if they are, I plan on finally giving my brother the burial he deserves."
Bobby sighed, his eyes bright, but he didn't say anything. Dean knew why, Bobby had been listening to him as he shouted, delirious, for the past weeks. He knew the depth of the madness, knew there was no turning Dean from this hunt, knew there was nothing that would stop him from his goal. And when it was over, he knew there was nothing that would stop the rest of it as well.
To Be Continued