Genre: gen, Dean H/C (retrograde amnesia, mobility issues/bum leg, prescription drug addiction)
Characters: Dean, OFC, Sam
Word Count: ~5000
Summary: After a life-altering altercation with a bear trap, Dean finds an unlikely friend in Sachiko Tanimura, a crochety macadamia nut farmer who doesn't give a damn how much pain he's in--she's weaning him off that oxycodone. S1 alternate timeline. [AO3 Link]
Notes: Throwback Saturday! This fic was written in September 2010, but I never posted it to my LJ. Having read it now, I actually quite like it. So here it is! Officially inducted into fandom. XD
PROMPT from roque_clasique: So Dean has a bad leg, can't walk on it without pretty severe pain and so he usually takes a lot of painkillers. He somehow whacks his head while far from Sam and wakes up with no recollection of who he is. He's found, maybe in an orchard, by a friendly farmer who tries to figure out what's wrong with this strange young man, why he can't walk well, why he has strange pills in his pockets, and why he's starting to shake and sweat. Drug addict, the farmer decides, and confiscates the pills. Swears to help this fella on the road to recovery. Enter Sam, storming the farm gates, trying to reclaim his poor limping brother, and the farmer decides that Sam is the drug dealer, and tries to run him off his land with a shotgun.
"You're a ranger." Three and a half decades of occupational pride and personal honor condensed into three words. "You're a ranger, and you got caught in...your own bear trap?"
10. And all Dean can tell this Sam guy is, this life's not his anymore. Not really. Even if he wanted to, he can't.
Dean. Beseeching. Dean, please.
Dean. The way this Sam guy says his name--that's the most haunting part. Under your fingernails, lurking in your shadow kind of haunting.
I can't do this alone, Dean.
"Then what have you been doing all this time?" says Dean.
09. "For a dude who just got shot, you don't seem that surprised." Dean's feeling pretty charitable with his words today. This is the kind of guy you want to know--tease out his tells in an evening and read him like a one night stand.
"Told him I would," says Satch, from the good chair. "That's fair warning."
"I'm not that surprised," says the guy, over Satch's interjection.
Dean catches the wince as the guy tries to roll his bandaged shoulder out of the dip in the bad chair. He doesn't really look like a drug dealer (though Satch claims otherwise). "Weirder things have happened."
"Yeah, Dean. "They have." Exasperated familarity--interesting.
Dean twists out of the third chair and lets his weight fall left. He tests his right and limps to the good chair. Satch has one and a half pills waiting, small light blue disks against the dark of her sandpaper palm. One and a half, with no more forthcoming. Fine, whatever. he can swing that. No problem. He mouths Fuck you, dry swallows the half pill.
"Here--have some oxycodone, champ." Dean sweeps clean bandages from the shelf above and drops both these and the remaining pill into waiting hands.
His shoulders twitch and quail the entire way back to the third chair. He knows when he's being stared at.
"How long have you been...you know." A gulp. A swallow. There goes the one full pill.
Dean tries not to think about the tantalizing weightlessness of that same pill on his palm. Tries to focus. "Been held captive by gunslinger grandma?" he says.
"Eight weeks and counting," says Satch.
Her comment goes ignored once more. It's like Dean's this guy's whole world. "You know what I mean."
The stare falls to his leg, which is bent and tensed and waiting desperately for the relief that half pill won't bring--not entirely. "Oh." Of course. He musters his best off-handed intonation. "Over a year now, I guess. Colorado backwoods, Blackwater Ridge. Bear trap, or so I'm told."
Flush heat dissipates as the stare cuts off, eyes avert. Shame. It's personal. "I'm sorry."
Dean's not sure what to do with the apology. He can only hope the oxycodone knocks the guy out for a while, because this is getting awkward.
"Dad died last year."
--More awkward. Dean's not sure he follows. Finally: "Because of a bear trap? ...Or, in Colorado?"
"Salvation, Iowa. He was trying to save a family. From a nursery fire." Clipped deadpan; so the meds were taking hold, after all. He looks like he's expecting Dean to react. Braced like he's expecting an explosion, or a collapse, or both. Nothing comes.
Then something slides forward like oil in Dean's mind, and his tongue starts moving. "I saved my brother from one of those. My mother didn't make it."
He can feel the heat and the weight and the slap of cold night air as he's shoved away from the burning house. They're not just words. They're not just lies. It all wells up, like this is that house, and he is that person, then recedes into half-imagined fantasy once more.
He looks at the guy with black wonder. He doesn't know what to do with the slack-jawed horror he's met with, so he adds, "Worst kind of shit."
"Congratulations; you remembered something," Satch remarks dryly. She winks. "It's about damn time."
Their guest isn't near so well-collected. "This isn't funny, Dean."
No, it's not, Dean decides. He's still thinking about fire.
"Dean, what the hell is going on?"
He wishes he knew.
08. Dean's breath hitches as he tries to force it down his throat. Feels like his ribs are crawling in his chest, jittery and shaking just like his arms as he tries to pull himself closer to the macadamia bushes, in their neat sod tracks. Fuck farms for not growing wild. He wishes he had his damn gun.
Two beats of harried breathing. That's going to have to be enough rest. Triumphantly, he pushes off from the dirt with Olympic force. His body crashes back down as the motion sends a ripple of disconcerting wrong through his right leg. "Oh sh--" The rest is lost in scintillant pain that splinters up from his foot, talus to tibia to every-fucking-where else.
Vision loses itself in a haze of bright sunbursts and a rush of something akin to television static.
"Dean?" shouts the man with the gun. He's far off, but Dean knows he's not far enough.
The guy is huge. Could've beat him in a foot race even if--
Dean edges himself up, slower this time. He looks back at the flash of headlights screaming across the highway. How far away was that (how far had he run?) One, two hundred yards? Across the country, it felt like. God.
He collapses into the macadamia bush, dizzy and heaving. He swears to God he can feel bones shift as his hands quest for strong branches and he lurches slowly, slowly forward.
Toward safety, toward nothing--hell if he knows. Away from one badass motherfucker, he hopes.
He hopes Satch is awake. If she doesn't hear the gunshot, he can bet his dead body'll be rotting out here for going on a week before she bothers looking.
"Dean, it's me. It's Sam. I--" Panted reassurance. This guy; the way he says Dean's name gives him chills. "Look, I--"
Maglite, bright in his eyes.
Abrupt grind; Dean's assailant skids to a halt. "Dean, are you...okay?"
Quiet concern floods the row for one deceptive moment.
"You come from Palo Alto?"
Yes, hidden in an exhalation. Misplaced relief.
Voice from behind old and round and full of ire: "That explains a lot. You're gonna want to drop."
The guy, 'Sam,' moans, and the flashlight slips from his hand. So does the gun.
Dean kisses the ground, tastes blood from cracked lips and cool, dead earth. "Fuck me."
Satch doesn't say 'I told you so' but she makes Dean and his assailant carry each other back to the house. Dean slips into the position with sickening ease; it means he's done this before (or it probably does. Knowing his luck, of course he knows the psycho who'd chase him down a highway with a gun in his hand).
He's pretty sure he doesn't want to know this guy.
07. "I had a sister once," Satch informs him four, maybe five, weeks into Dean's extended vacation in Hell, California. Rumor has it it's also called Santa Barbara, but he doesn't hink that really captures the ambience of the place. "She wanted to be a lawyer."
"I had amnesia once," says Dean. "And I couldn't bore people to death with Lifetime stories nobody gives a crap about."
"You still tell stories. And they're still boring."
"You're a cripple and a drug addict."
"You're going to die alone, hag."
"So will you."
Something inside Dean slides, cracks as it hits the wall of his insides. He shuts up.
Satch checks the oven. It's industrial size; fourteen racks of small brown nuts are busy bronzing.
"My sister had a lot of things she wanted to forget," Satch continues, after some time. "So she forgot them."
Dean bites back something akin to I hope you didn't sell the rights to that one yet, Satch; it's Hollywood gold and, after one last cursory examination of the baking macadamia nuts, Satch continues her story.
"We grew up in Manzanar. She was older than me by nine years, so when time came to go to college, there we were. World War II. Pearl Harbor. Japanese internment." These last, she lists in the hope of jogging Dean's memory.
It's not time for stories. "Listen, sister. Even if I could remember any damn thing that's happened since Friends came out on DVD, I'm pretty sure you'd still--"
"It was a time and a place that disappointed her," Satch continues, evenly. She moves from the mouth of the oven into the back room. Returns with an orange vial. "Drugs are miracle-bringers. They can steal away your disappointments. But they don't make them disappear; they just get to the people you love."
Dean laughs. "Please. Spare me the 'mystic woman' crap." Sharing and caring time is definitely over. It's not like he's aiming to blow his brains out with some kind of crazy, shitstorm overdose; if he could remember who he was, he'd get a legal prescription--sign his needs into legitimacy or whatever the hell. He doesn't need an intervention.
He shifts further to his left instinctively. The third chair's right legs hover just above the ground, wobbling. Dean palms the counter at his left to stabilize his position. Goddamn chair.
He tries not to look at the bottle in her hands. Bites his lips. They are chapped and dry; they crack. Dean waits. It's been a long time, and his leg is staging protest.
Satch puts a hand on the back of the third chair.
Dean eases his pressure on the counter.
Then Satch kicks, pulls simultaneously, and the chair topples, bounces, crashes. Dean just thuds.
Keening whimper. Hateful glare. Pain shoots up his leg like swimming bladepoints.
"Do you need this?" from somewhere above him. A shake.
Dean curls his forehead into the cool of the floor tile. "No. Go to Hell."
"If you wanted to be found, you wouldn't have hitch-hiked to all places nowhere. The authorities are there for a reason; they have services for this kind of thing. It's not like there's no one looking for you. Unless that's what you're afraid of."
"You can be a real bitch, you know that?"
He hasn't moved from his partially fetal position on the floor. Satch offers him a hand--and Dean gives her a look of complete incredulity, Why the hell would I take that? before he does.
"Or maybe you're afraid that whatever you lost, you don't want it back. And you'll wait around, pissing yourself 'til it hits you. And then your life will kill you. I'm still waiting for your drug dealer to run up, guns blazing. It'll be like a B-movie."
She puts the orange bottle on the table and leaves.
Dean can't help it. Almost immediately, he looks. Almost immediately. Tips the pills into his hand, rolls the between his fingers. Breathes in deep. There's only two.
06. They keep walking. All day, it feels like they've been walking. Satch calls it work. Dean calls it retribution.
They keep walking. Shuffling. Limping. Satch keeps talking.
"This is the crack-out. Hey haole, you listening to me?"
Dean stops. "Look, I don't even know what the fuck these are. Magda--" Exhaustion peels at his eyelids. His leg is a second heart; it throbs and pulses and it hurts. He tries to find a corner to slide into, or a chair. It's a long way to the ground. He wants to die.
He needs to die.
Satch slaps his chest. "Pay attention. Macadamia. The percentage of valuable nut meat to the total weight--this is the crack-out."
Satch waves a nut in his face, or as close as she can manage. It just grazes the bottom of his nose. It smells like mold. "This is you."
She holds her other palm facing upwards, empty. "This is how much you are worth. You decide."
What he's worth. He could give a flying fuck about what he's worth, and he tells her as much.
She surveys him up and down.
Finally, Satch says, "I'll bring in another chair." And by way of explanation: "This one--the bad one--is bad. And the good one is--"
05. Satch trusts him before the week has fled. He must have just a truthful kind of face. Part of him is glad of this--sheepishly grateful. A bigger part knows he's a damn liar; and this is the part that controls his hands. This is the part that steels his resolve and bullies his doubts beyond the empty back-halls of his mind. The 4am part that digs through closets and cabinets and dressers with single-minded determination.
He knows she has them. He's seen the bottle.
He can feel the awful gnawing at his stomach, the radiating pulse of heat and want and need sweeping up from his leg, up his back, and down again to his fingers. He takes a shuddering breath and shifts his weight, stiffly. All but collapses into the good chair. He props his right foot on the sunken lip of the bad chair.
He doesn't know why he doesn't just ask. It would be faster; in all likelihood, also less wildly unsuccessful. But he doesn't want to. He is tired of asking things about the world pre-2006, and receiving only mumbled deflections and furtive stares in return. He is tired of looking in the mirror every morning and splashing water over a face that doesn't have a past and for all he can fucking tell, no future, either.
He gets the impression that if he could just figure that out, he wouldn't need to ask anything. He'd be the kind of person who'd mastered his cut of the universe, and he'd never need to ask, or question. Not once.
Of course, dicking around until he's triggered into some kind of massive, lifetime-sized epiphany is just as pointless as his attempts at picking out a new identity and rolling with it. So here he is.
Here he is, making the best of the one good chair, because so far it's the only thing he's managed to steal from the old lady.
He can feel all his hair on end, and something with small, barbed hands climbing up his throat. He tries to sift through the cabinets at eye level--the ones he can reach without standing--but his hands are beginning to shake and everything is beginning to feel the same: cold and metallic and cold and cold and--
His fingernails chatter against fine china.
It doesn't even make sense that she'd put the bottle in there. Why the hell is he looking?
The thought is vague and disappointing and probably important, but he can't focus, can't parse out its actual merit. That would require blocking out pain pain pain and want want want--no, need need need, and that sure as hell ain't happening.
"Are you sitting in my chair?"
Dean sinks low into the chair cushion and makes no play at leaving it. Satch produces an orange bottle from someplace on her person Dean doesn't want to know exists. He can feel the way his face lights up; he doesn't need to see it in the mirror. Maybe he'd be disgusted if he could bring himself to care.
"You won't find these. It wouldn't be a drug intervention if you could."
"I'm not--I'm not a fucking drug addict! I'm in pain." He can feel his lower lip wavering; this is just fucking sad. He tries to slow his breathing, clear the sweat from his brow (but the sweat from his palm just makes it worse).
"Maybe at some point. But now you're in pain, and you're a drug addict. Fancy way of saying you're a damn masochist, getting yourself into shit like this."
"Great, A+ for you. Leave me the fuck alone." Bent frustration.
Then realization dawns, and Dean is met with a very brilliant plan.
Gun in his waistband.
"But first, give me those."
Satch has the gall to yawn. "Go ahead and try. If you blow a hole in one of my china cabinets, I'll work you 'til your feet turn to glue. You won't hit me."
As though in recognition of her point, his vision swims. His hands are shaking. His arms are shaking. His whole body is shaking. He shoots anyway.
The bullet sails right above her head and buries itself in the bedroom wall. Satch blinks.
Dean, deflated, draws back into the sulky safety of the good chair.
"Hell. You're something else," Satch says, and runs her hand down the back of her skull. "You'd better give me that."
"Pry it from my cold, dead fingers."
And she does.
After a while, she says, "It will get easier. I promise you that."
"Yeah? You know from experience? One year tells me that more meds means less pain."
"You know it's more than that. I had a sister, once; awful lot like you. Wasn't half so good a shot, though." Satch looks from the gun to Dean, like she's trying to match up ivory handles and engraved metal with anything she sees in him. Anything at all.
She doesn't find it.
She leans against the counter, surveying the front page of a week-old newspaper. "A priest in Blue Earth, Minnesota was found brutally murdered in his church," she informs him. "Throat was slashed."
Dean says nothing.
Pointedly: "You know, people like you are the reason things like this happen. World's just too busy keeping track of all the people trying to kill themselves to think about the people killing other people."
Dean can't really say he appreciates the accusation. "So why aren't you out saving people, hunting things? Hypocrite."
"Didn't say the world didn't have its reasons."
04. The first time, he wakes up in a place he doesn't know, and panics. Because if he forgets that too, it means he's losing everything.
The second time, he remembers he's stoned out of his mind, and that some point prior had involved an altercation with a farmer hag and a loaded shotgun. Somehow, that's better. (It's something, so it's better.)
"Sachiko Tanimura. You dropped your limp ass on the doorstep of a macadamia nut farm in Santa Barbara."
Dean regards her with bleary confusion.
"Call me Satch," is her response. Then she holds up a handful of cards and wallets. "So, this is the big mystery to me; I need to know--which of these is real?"
Which of these is really you?
That's the kind of question Dean doesn't like dealing with on good days. Today is not a good day. It shouldn't be that big a deal, but it takes everything he has to stem the surge of helplessness that billows up like the taste of blood at the back of his throat.
"All of them." He doesn't know what else to say.
The woman--Satch?--cocks a brow.
Maybe it's the floating, insulated calm he's found himself enjoying; maybe it's the undercurrent of pain and fear and anxiety, dulled but ever-present. Dean doesn't know. But he starts talking.
It starts with texts from a phone number he doesn't know, he says. (It doesn't, really. It starts in Colorado, in a hospital, eyeing a phone in a plastic box filled with things that might be his. But he's telling the story, and he is fucking skipping that part.)
Anyway. The mystery number would send mystery texts--just numbers. Every couple months, numbers. He calls the number the first few times, but it's always an automated message on the other end. Honestly, it pisses him off. He isn't sure why; chances are it's just telemarketing. Lotto numbers. Prank calls.
But it feels personal.
In the box, he's got all the IDs pictured there. (He points to Satch's hands.) And he's got a gas receipt with an address in Palo Alto, California block-lettered across the back.
It's his one lead.
He ends up not in Palo Alto, but in Utah. He's working at the ScreenSaver--a discount theatre that shows all the summer blockbusters in February--earning minimum wage for almost two weeks now. Of course, he can't afford gas for the car he stole (it was so easy) so he probably won't be here long enough to start picking up benefits.
He's checking the ID of some pimply teen before he realizes the Batman flick is only PG-13. Kid seems proud to prove that he is, indeed, sixteen, and old enough to see a movie without parental supervision. "You're taller than you look in the tabloids, Mr. Wayne," Dean jibes.
The kid tells him that if he's already seen it, don't ruin it for the rest of them, asshole. He's long gone, filtered into the smell of popcorn grease and hot dogs, before it occurs to Dean that he must have seen the movie at some point.
He wonders how it ended.
Something he doesn't wonder: Why is he so good at this? First the car. Now the pharmacy. In just under three minutes, he has a date with the pharmacist and a coatful of brand-name oxycodone he didn't pay for. Sure as hell isn't going to question fortune.
He gives the pharmacist chick a wink and doesn't hide his limp. The pharmacist chick digs it.
He hitches across Nevada with a nubile blonde who has her hair cleaved short. Says she's going to California, meeting up with her little sister. Her name is Meg.
"You got any siblings, Dean?" she asks.
He doesn't remember telling her his name, but he must have. "No idea."
Meg laughs. "Daddy keeping secrets from you?"
Another week and he's cruising Riverside as best he can manage; he hates buses, and he hates walking more. But his pockets are filled with powdery, blue discs, and he figures life could be much worse.
He stays away from clubs with too much dancing, which leads him mostly to dank, somber bars filled with antique men and ageless remorse. One time, though, he finds yet another pair of nubile blondes--Rebecca, Stanford pre-med; Joanna Beth, visiting. They're both looking for Winchesters.
"Blind dates?" Dean asks Rebecca, when Jo leaves for the bathroom (though he swears he saw the flash of a knife at her side).
"Missing classmate. One of my BFFs is his girlfriend; she said he might have gone with his brother somewhere. We're super worried."
Dead nods. "And this brother of his--he's some kind of...?"
Rebecca nods nervously, though her simultaneous excitement is electric. "Sam never talked about him. We thought he might be in witness protection or a wanted criminal or something."
"And you came all the way down to Riverside to find this guy?"
"Jo's the one looking," Rebecca admits. "P.I. We just met up so she could interview me."
Rebecca shrugs. "She said she was working a case."
Satch rides her way through the deluge, offering murmurs of approval or disbelief but little else. She husks her maca-something nuts. She doesn't ask about what's waiting for him in Palo Alto; she doesn't ask about his leg; and she doesn't ask about the contents of his pockets.
She does, however, empty them.
He listens to the pills clatter into a small orange vial.
It's a hollow sound.
03. "You were a park ranger back in Colorado?" says the man, who is also a park ranger, but in Arizona. He stares, the way everyone does. Dean can feel heat at his collar and cool translucence everywhere else.
The man probably sees as much as Dean sees. No resume. No employment. No family. No residence. No past. (No trust.)
"I have an ID that says I am," he offers unhelpfully. He can feel his resolve drain out like the coffee the man pours down the sink, black and cold. The man's not even looking at Dean anymore.
He's slipped from being something wrong to being nothing at all.
"Medical report says..." The man rifles through the slim file. "Severe head trauma and the resultant... retrograde am--"
"So you don't--"
There is absolutely nothing pregnant about this pause. It is not miraculous; it is not life-giving; it isn't even goddamn unexpected. The man wets his lips, and whets his words.
Crisp indifference, the vague semblance of pity: Mr. Campbell, you have clearly had a rough time of it. What you need is not a job; you need a good week's rest and home-cooked meals, and you need your family to take a load off and let you get back on your feet.
Some of us don't have that choice. Dean tries to remember how to breathe, how to smile graciously (if ever he knew--it feels a little like a grimace); his leg twinges, foot to ankle and ever upward. Some of us have never had that choice--which of course he doesn't know for sure, but forever is now and last month is all the past he has.
What came before has apparently outlived its usefulness.
"Please," he says, and hates it. "Please."
The man repeats himself, too.
It's time to go.
Whatever. He doesn't need this. He doesn't.
Dean pushes up with his arms. Hands on the armrests, then up and a swinging motion to the left. He clips the desk with his right hip and it's back to square one. Shuddering breath. "What." He regards the man darkly.
Yeah, that's what he thought.
Second time's the charm. The pain has settled into his knee now, folded over crests and into cartilage, but that's what oxycodone is for. Handful. "Still working out the kinks. There's a page two to that, by the way."
The man looks at the file in his hands. "I'm aware."
Oxycodone's good for nothing but aftertaste for at least another twenty minutes. Dean palms the wall as he reaches for the door handle. At first his ring rattles against the doorknob--until he gets a grip on the doorknob so tight he all but pulls the tremors taut.
Finally--and there's that incredulous stare again, like hot coals flung across his back--the man speaks: "You're a ranger." Three and a half decades of occupational pride and personal honor condensed into three words. "You're a ranger, and you got caught in...your own bear trap?"
Dean rolls his eyes. "That's probably why I need another job."
02. He wakes to a haze of light and tears. His attention slides toward the patient white noise of hospital machinery, dips again over the cusp of unconsciousness. Then someone coughs. It's the tech.
"Mr. Campbell, have you contacted your insurance company?"
Dean Campbell is the panicked hodgepodge of the contents of his pockets, so no. No he hasn't.
"We're gonna need that before we start the surgery. It set all right, but I've seen the X-rays--that's a--well. That was one weird bite. Though you walking on it that whole time probably didn't help." The tech is scribbling away on his clipboard.
"It's a good thing I'm not a sympathy whore," Dean mutters, and squirms in the hospital sheets the same way he struggles with the name. (It's his name.) He half expects the tech to smile demurely, reply, How can you be so sure?
The tech just shrugs. He must see something really pathetic when he looks up, because his expression softens. "Could be worse."
Dean's pretty sure he's not cool with his distress as stripped and naked as it is. He sets his jaw. "Well, aren't you a glass-half-full kind of guy."
The tech shrugs again. "Could be those Collins kids, got eaten by the bear. First Responders found them--or what was left--in an old mining shaft. They're tagged up in the morgue right now, but I don't think they got any family who cares; uncle up in Saskatechewan didn't seem too shook up by the news. This is your second chance. Those three didn't get one."
Guilt, like quicksilver. Rolling poison in his stomach. It's his fault, he thinks. (But he can't remember. He's being haunted by things he can't even remember. Fuck.) So instead, he says, "My life is gone, and the only person who's cared enough to call in the last three weeks was a goddamn telemarketer. Sue me if I'm having trouble feeling the difference, here."
The tech ignores him. "Comfortable?"
Dean ignores the tech.
Then the tech leaves, and Dean is alone and empty. Dean almost calls the guy back, he really does.
Then he thinks better of it, and instead studies the IV bag, long thin tube tethering him in place. Oxycodone, huh?
He doesn't need the tech. He can do this alone, as he always has.
(Always starts now.)
01. Palo Alto in October is frigid.
"I can't do this by myself, man."
Yes, you can. It's disturbing, the level of trust Sam has in him. (Too bad it's for all the wrong things. Just too fucking bad.)
"Yeah, but I don't want to."
Sam sighs. "There's an interview on Monday, and that's it. I'm gone."
"Today's Friday." Anxious grin. "There's... That's like a whole weekend of being here and, you know--not gone." Fuck. Fuck. Words words words.
Sam regards him with a veneer of cool, quiet imperturbability. His closer: "Of being here."
Here, where there's a hot Smurfette and a lumpy bed and a cheap kitchen and a fresh set of bills on the table. C'mon Sammy, there's nothing here.
But Dean has even less to offer. He knows; he's dumb enough to wish he didn't, and defeated enough to accept there is nothing he can do to change that. "Yeah well, happy Halloween, dude. Party it up." He maneuvers an abrupt turn down the stairs, and nearly clips Sam in the shoulder, he brushes so close. Sam doesn't react, doesn't follow.
So what. He will. He doesn't have a choice.
Maybe Sam will catch him at the next landing, maybe in the parking lot. Or in a turnout on the way to Jericho, or sprawled under a woman in white, or limping back to the car, alone. Maybe while he's nursing deep bruising and waiting for sunrise.
Maybe he'll come when Dean is least expecting it.
And then it's Monday.
Dean drives out toward Blackwater Ridge, and he doesn't look back.
notes: In the three years that divide when this fic was written and today, I think I've grown a lot as a writer. It's funny; there are stock phrases in this that I recognize very much as mine, descriptions and conventions that I used time and time again (using 'beats' in things other than dramatic scripts, the phrase "bent frustration"), that I no longer use. Maybe I should! But certainly other Kalliel Stock Phrases have taken root. And it seems like such a sophomoric thing, but I've gotten better at figuring out when to break paragraphs. I still struggle with this, but not as badly as in this fic (I fixed most of them before posting). There's a bare sort of simplicity to this fic that I really like, but wouldn't necessarily re-adopt. It helps that canon was much simpler, also. XD
This was my first major fic that didn't feature Sam prominently. To this day lack of Sam still makes me uncomfortable. Why write a fic without Sam when you can write a fic with him? XD As far as the other characters in this fic go, I would've done Satch differently, especially the bit with the sister. And Sam (except for the last scene, which I still love). There probably would have been more Meg and Jo, because when don't I seize upon an opportunity to include Meg and Jo. Some of the dialogue is trying too hard, or is convoluted. Some of it I wish I'd written. I mean, I did. But me three years ago and me now aren't the same person, exactly. Also, I'm impressed by the reverse chronology--cool. @-@ I wish I'd retained that skill, haha.
Also, I did a lot more research for little details. What Utah calls their discount theatres. How to farm macadamia nuts. Batman quotes (because I definitely would have had to have looked that up). The nuts I'd probably still do now. The theatre in Utah? Proooobably would've just bullshited something if I'd written this today. XP
But mostly, this just makes me think about my enduing love for Dean H/C. IT WAS THE BEST THING THEN. IT'S STILL THE BEST THING NOW. THE END.