Different Names For the Same ThingRATING:
Through 4 x 01 & after that it goes pretty AU. SUMMARY:
No one comes back from hell whole, untouched. Dean Winchester is no exception.A/N:
Have I mentioned that I loooove
dark!Dean? Because I do. Love him with the kind of love that borders on being really unhealthy. I've never really bought that Dean came back from hell and just walked it off. I've always thought that hell did some pretty interesting things to Dean's psyche and I thought I would play with that a little bit. Again, still no beta in the SPN 'verse, so you're going to have to deal with just me, mistakes and all.( MOAR?Collapse )
He doesn’t know how long he’s been gone. Could have been a day or could have been a week. Could’ve even been a year or more. All he knows is that his mouth feels like it’s filled up with cotton and his tongue is sticking to the roof of his mouth. He throws up a handful of dirt, sitting beside his unmarked grave and for a second he wonders why they buried him instead of burning his bones.
Then he decides that maybe he doesn’t want to think about that now. Not yet.
He’s stumbling around like he’s drunk himself under the table. The sun is beating down hard and angry on his shoulders, the top of his head. When he sees the gas station in the distance he wonders if it’s real. When he’s got the bottle of water up to his lips, he knows it must be.
At first, he doesn’t remember anything except for those last few terrifying moments with the hell hound. He remembers it ripping his chest open, Sam screaming and then nothing. Nothing until he woke up in a hole in the ground and he was desperately clawing his way out.
It’s a miracle that the payphone still works. There’s nothing else around, besides the gas station and it doesn’t even make sense that it’s there. Doesn’t make sense that there’s beef jerky in bags and cold water in the cooler. But there’s also two inches of dust covering everything and it looks like no one has stepped foot into the little cinderblock building in longer than he’s been dead.
However long that has been.
The payphone works but none of the numbers he’s calling do. Bobby’s phone, Sam’s cell… they’ve all been disconnected.
There’s a car with its hood up parked haphazardly next to the gas station. Weeds have started growing up around the tires and he doesn’t know if it’ll work. But his other options are hanging around this gas station until the water and the stale crackers run out and that’s not really an option.
The keys are still dangling from the ignition and Dean gives it a shot. When it starts he wants to cry. He slams the hood down and fills up from the single rusty gas pump and presses the hammer all the way down. All he wants to do is find something that looks familiar.
When he hits the highway he realizes that he’s not that far from Bobby’s house. It makes sense that they would bury him somewhere close. Somewhere where they could keep an eye on his grave and make sure he was still rotting in it.
He doesn’t knock on the front door, just walks in. Bobby is sitting at the kitchen table, a gun in front of him, and he’s cleaning it like he’s got to eat off of it when he’s done.
“Holy shit.” He throws himself back from the table so fast that Dean thinks he’s going to knock the chair over with him in it.
“Hey, Bobby,” he says, because he doesn’t really know what else to say. He shrugs and quirks his eyebrow and Bobby splashes some holy water in his face. Bobby’s eyes are hard and sharp and his expression doesn’t change even when Dean doesn’t burn.
Dean grabs a knife off the table, cuts his forearm hard and deep with the silver blade. Bobby mumbles Christo under his breath and Dean says, “Are we done now?”
It’s not until later, with Bobby upstairs in his bedroom and Dean sprawled across the couch trying to sleep, that he remembers. It comes back in a trickle at first: a hot flash, some sweat on his upper lip. And then, he thinks he sees his skin bubbling up like it’s burning off of his bones.
Dean wakes up screaming, thrashing around until he’s fallen off the couch and curled into a ball next to the coffee table.
“Shit, kid,” Bobby mumbles, stumbling down the stairs like a sleep walker. “You okay?”
But Dean is too deep in it again and all he can do is scream.
Bobby calls Sam, even though he’s not sure that he’ll answer. He doesn’t remember the last time he saw the kid but he doesn’t know what else to do. He can’t get Dean to stop screaming.
“What?” When Sam answers his voice is flat, hard.
“Sam, its Bobby,” he starts, hovering just outside of the screen door where he can hear Dean in case the screaming stops; Bobby is almost afraid that the screaming will stop.
“Yeah,” Sam says, he sounds bored. “What’s up?”
Bobby clears his throat; this wasn’t really a conversation he wanted to have with the boy over the phone. The plan was that Bobby and Dean would pack up and smoke him out tomorrow or the next day. But now, he doesn’t have a choice. “Dean showed up at my house tonight, Sam.”
Sam snorts, hard and Bobby doesn’t know what that means. “Did you kill it?” he demands.
“No,” Bobby says, slowly, “I didn’t kill… him.”
He could hear Sam gulp on the other end of the line, the long drawn out pause. “Bobby… you don’t actually think that thing is…”
“Dean,” Bobby sighs. “It’s Dean. I did everything I could think of and he came through with flying colors, Sam. I don’t know how it’s Dean, but it’s definitely him.”
“Shit,” Sam mutters, and Bobby could almost see him running his long fingers through his shaggy hair. “Is he okay?”
“That’s kind of why I was calling you, Sam.” Bobby took a long breath and stepped a little closer to the screen door, made sure that Dean was still where he left him.
“He’s not right, Sam. He’s not okay… I think… I think you need to get over here as fast as you can.”
The silence was significant. “Okay,” Sam says slowly, like he’s chewing the words before he pushes them past his lips.
“Alright, I’m on my way.”
Bobby settles down on the front steps, gingerly lowering his aching bones. Dean was screaming again, a harsh, guttural sound, like the sound itself was being ripped out of his chest. Bobby shook his head and turned the phone over and over again between his palms. He hoped that Sam was fast.
“Dean?” Sam looked cautious; his eyes had dark circles rimming them. He didn’t look like he’d slept more than a few hours in longer than Bobby cared to think about.
Dean has stopped screaming but Bobby thinks that might have been preferable to the silence. He was just sitting, his back to the wall and his eyes dark holes. His eyes made Bobby’s skin crawl, made him think of demons, like the one that had been inside of his wife when he’d had to kill her. But he’s already splashed some holy water in Dean’s face, again, and the boy hadn’t moved a muscle. He mutters christo under his breath every five minutes but Dean hasn’t so much as lifted an eyebrow.
“Dean…” Sam knelt down in front of his brother, his eyebrows pulling together, puckering his forehead. “Dean… are you… okay?”
When Dean doesn’t so much as blink, Sam stands up, rubbing his sweaty palms against the thighs of his jeans. “Bobby, how long has he been like this?”
Bobby glances at the big round clock hanging above the stove in the kitchen. “Probably ‘bout four or five hours. Ever since he stopped screaming. God, it was a terrible sound but I think I’d rather hear him start up again than have him making like a statue in my living room.”
Sam looks like he’s going to throw up, his face graying and his hands nervously fluttering around the pockets of his jeans like he doesn’t know what to do with them. He finally settles for jamming them deep into his pockets.
“You want some breakfast, son?” Bobby was pulling a box of cereal down out of a cabinet. “There’s not a whole lot we can do right now but wait.”
Sam nods, there’s not much they can do right now but wait.
It’s around noon, two days later, when Dean finally blinks. Stands up and stretches, rolls his shoulders and works the kinks out of his neck.
“How long have I been asleep?” He strolls into the kitchen like the last two days never happened. Bobby doesn’t know what to say and so he’s glad when Sam answers. Because it means that he doesn’t have to.
“A while,” Sam says, vaguely. He stands up, shoves his hands deep in his pockets again. He doesn’t know what to say, doesn’t know how to explain.
Dean straddles a chair, grabs Sam’s sandwich and devours it in a couple of bites. Sam doesn’t say anything which should be Dean’s first clue that something isn’t right but he doesn’t notice.
“How long have I been dead?” he demands, between bites. He looks the same way he looked the day Sam put him in the ground. He hasn’t changed but Sam has. The months he’d spent struggling, searching for anything that would bring Dean back to him. He hadn’t found anything and eventually, he’d given up. He doesn’t know how to tell Dean because he knows, somewhere, that Dean never would have stopped.
“Four months,” he says, finally. Sam is a hulking mass of confusion in the corner of Bobby’s kitchen. He cracks open another long neck beer and takes a long pull from the bottle.
“That long, huh,” is all Dean says, runs a hand through his spiky golden blond hair. “Huh.”
“Do you…” Bobby is tense, doesn’t want to say the wrong thing. “Do you remember… anything?”
Dean shrugs, tugs at the collar of his shirt. “Anymore roast beef left?”
Bobby exchanges a look with Sam, doesn’t say anything. He gestures towards the refrigerator. “Yeah,” he says, slowly. “Help yourself, kid.”
Its three more days before Dean gets restless. He wants some answers, wants to know why there’s a big red handprint burned into his arm and why he’s breathing air instead of rotting in the ground.
He takes the Impala into town and an hour later Sam and Bobby aren’t sure if he’s coming back. But he does, smelling like the inside of a dive bar. He’s got a cigarette between his lips and shoots Sam the kind of look that used to make his knees knock when it was on John Winchester’s face. He lights it up on Bobby’s porch, inhaling thick lung-fulls of smoke.
Sam doesn’t say anything. This should have been Dean’s second red flag that something wasn’t quite right. But he doesn’t notice.
“I wanna get out of here, Sammy,” he says, when the cigarette is burned down to a nub between his fingers. He lights another one off the cherry of the last and flicks it into the junkyard. “We’re not doing anything holed up at Bobby’s.”
Sam fidgets; he doesn’t want to have to go back out into the real world just yet. Here at Bobby’s, he can forget that Dean was ever dead. He can forget all of the things he did just because he thought it might bring Dean back. And then later, the things he did because Dean was never coming back. If they leave Bobby’s, it’s all real. Just a few more days, Sam pleads, silently. Just a few more days, that’s it.
“Dean,” he starts, but his brother holds up his hand.
“Save it, Sammy,” and when he says it, he doesn’t sound like Dean. There’s an edge to his voice, razor sharp, that never used to be there before. “I’m going and you can stay or you can come. Up to you.”
Silence. And then, finally, “I’m coming.”
Bobby keeps trying to catch Sam’s eye, but Sam is doing everything short of closing his eyes to keep from looking at him. Bobby knows this is a mistake and so does Sam but he knows from experience that he’s not going to change Dean’s mind.
So he goes, because the other option is to stay and that’s not really an option. At least if he goes, he can be there. Be there when this shit finally breaks, because he knows it will. There’s something about the way Dean moves now and the way he talks and those horrible days when he just sat there, not even blinking; there’s something about it all that makes Sam’s gut twist up.
He’s wondering if Dean came back broken. He’s remembering every Pet Cemetery re-run he ever saw on television. He can’t put his finger on it, but he knows that eventually, he will.
Two weeks later, in a little scrub brush town just inside the New Mexico border, they’re working a case. They’ve been on the heels of a demon who might know something about Dean and they’ve finally caught up to her.
Dean slips out while Sam is getting coffee and by the time he tracks his brother down Dean has the demon spread out in a Devil’s Trap.
The demon, it’s inside of this girl and she’s barely eighteen. She’s still got shiny silver braces in her mouth and Sam can see them when she screams.
Dean is bent over her, a knife in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other hand. He’s got her chest spread open like he’s about to do heart surgery and Sam feels his heart drop when he watches Dean tilt the bottle of whiskey, pour it down inside of the wounds.
Sam thinks he might have put his finger on it.