A/N: Told from Lisa's POV. Set at the beginning of Season 6.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
When the Mourning Comes
I feel him trembling before I'm fully awake. The sun has just started to seep in through the cracks in the blinds, pooling into the corners of the room, so I know we've both still got about an hour before we need to get up. I also know that that hour won't be spent sleeping.
His back is turned to me and he's trying so hard not to wake me, trying to suppress the strangled, broken noises that tear their way from his throat. He's folded in on himself, the muscles of his back pulled taut and rippling as he shakes. Part of me wants to pretend that his efforts to keep quiet are not in vain. Part of me wants to pretend I'm still asleep. I know him well enough to know that he doesn't want to push all of this on me. I know sometimes he just needs to be alone; to let the grief pour out, completely unhindered and untainted by the presence of anyone else. It's the only time he'll ever truly let it all go. And I know he needs to.
So I ache for him in silence. Unmoving.
We're only a few inches apart on the bed, but God, he's so far away. I close my eyes tight and try to let him ride it out, try to wait for the shaking to stop. Instead, the sobs grow more pronounced with each passing moment. I can feel him fighting for the control he always seems to have found by the time morning comes. But now it evades him. He pulls his knees to his chest, and it takes everything I have not to break down then and there because he just looks so small and helpless. Like a tiny child lying broken on the bed. Yet still, he's trying desperately to contain his anguish, trying to push it down, deep into the already crowded recesses of his mind.
And I can't lay still any longer.
My arms are around him in an instant. I reach to run my fingers through his hair, attempting to pull him closer, silently begging him to look at me. He tenses under my touch and his first reaction is to twist further away, wiping furiously at the tears that stream from his red rimmed eyes. Undeterred, I scooch closer, running my hands over his rigid shoulder blades, digging deep into the muscle and tracing out my own random patterns. He's still shaking, his breath hitching as the sobs wrack his body relentlessly. I bury my fingers even deeper.
And finally, after what seems like forever, Dean relaxes against my hands. The harsh sobs have changed to deep, shaky breaths as he slowly starts to pull himself away from the overwhelming despair that drags him under. He allows one more soft, almost inaudible whimper to escape his lips before huffing out a long, exasperated exhale. And then finally, finally, he turns to face me, but his eyes still haven't met mine. He reaches to trace his own patterns against my skin, dragging his fingers gently across my shoulder and down the length of my arm until he reaches my hand, twining his fingers with mine. He stares at our hands locked together like that, rubbing small, slow circles into my palm. He pulls me in closer.
And then his eyes meet mine.
The tears are gone. But the agony behind those eyes is still right at the surface. It's such a potent, all-consuming grief that it sends me reeling. I barely suppress a gasp as he continues to stare at me with that look- the look of a man who has lost everything ever worth having. I've never seen such a hopeless, naked display of emotion, especially not from Dean. And it only lasts for a moment. He blinks once, twice, and it's gone. Replaced by the cool, calm steadiness I'm so used to seeing in those green irises.
He's back in control.
And so far away again.
I run a hand gently along his cheek, down across his jaw. He smiles back at me. It's a small, sad smile filled with all the words he'll never say. It encompasses all the loss, all the anguish, all the apologies he thinks he owes. Such a simple smile, but with it comes the realization that I'll never really know him at all. He's broken beyond repair, a once loved toy that's been abused, shattered, and cast aside, just waiting to be discarded for good. And I'm the one who picked him up off the ground. I'm the one who tried to save him. And I can't.
I can't fix any of it.
There's too much I don't know, too much I'd never want to know. And he'd never saddle me with those burdens anyway, even if I begged. He's far too righteous, far too self-depreciating for that. Doesn't think he deserves to lighten his own load, even for a moment. And I know I can't change that, no matter how much I want to. I know that all these things that weigh him down, all the things that tear and pull and gnaw at his heels are going to catch up with him one day. He won't be able to bury it forever, and when it all comes bubbling to the surface, I know that'll be it. There will be nothing I can say. There will be no goodbyes, no "see you laters". I'll wake up one morning to an empty bed and the unheard sound of a lone gunshot, echoing from miles away.
Looking at him now, my chest aches. He looks so strong, so at ease, but I know him better than that. I can see what lies beneath. Blinking slowly, I realize we've been lying here for a long time, just looking at each other. Neither one of us has said a word. Light has flooded the room now, making his worn features more pronounced, making the subtle scars that litter his bare chest and face more visible. I trace one of them now, the puckered skin that forms a rough, uneven circle at his shoulder. I know that if he were to turn his back to me, I would see a nearly identical mark in the same spot on the back of his shoulder. A moment later, our alarm blares, an unwelcome intruder in this rare, peaceful moment. Dean reacts immediately, jerking onto his back to find the "off" button. But the silence that follows is not the soft quiet of those first waking moments. Now it's a cold, empty absence. The distance between us has flooded back in with the start of a new day. I can almost pinpoint the exact moment when Dean's impenetrable wall shifts back into place, locking his emotions safely away. He leans back against the headboard and smiles at me again, but it's different this time, more guarded, cautious. I tilt my head and stare back, willing him to drop the act, to let me back in, just for one more endless moment. Instead, he shifts the covers off to the side and pushes to his feet with a soft groan. He cracks his neck a few times and I watch sadly as the all too familiar burden settles once again across his shoulders. He is rigid and tense once more, muscles pulled and stretched past their breaking points. He carries the weight of the world.
Yet when he turns to give me a quick peck on the cheek, that careful smile is somehow still in place.
I watch him walk out the door, and I hope to God it isn't for the last time. I hope he holds on for one more day. It seems that's all he can do.
But it's enough for me.
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