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Aptly Damned

October 24th, 2007 (04:57 pm)


Title: Aptly Damned

Summary: Sometimes we live for no one but ourselves.

Rating:  PG-13 (gen, Dean, some Sam)  spoilers up through BDABR

A/N: Okay, so this is another tag of sorts to BDABR only completely different. I'm not totally sure where this came from or why I wrote it, but I did. So I'll post. It's VERY Dean-centric. Sam's mentioned, and he's kind of part of it, but these are musings on Dean and Dean alone. I hope I did him justice. His character has been complicated this season, IMO, and apparently I felt like I needed to explore it. I really hope I don't offend anyone because incurring the wrath of angry people is not my idea of a good time. I'm going to stop talking now because I make less sense the more I do. Thanks especially to 

geminigrl11 who really helped me focus the piece and built me up enough to post :)


Disclaimer: I don't own them.


"So don’t you dare blame me for

Prying open the door

That’s unleashed the bitterness

That’s here in the midst of this

Sometimes we live for no one but ourselves"

-from "Forgiven" by Relient K


Dean’s childhood was a confusing string of memories—some soft and warm from before his mother died, others hard and terrifying while living in the wake of her death. A film seemed to cover all of them, tarnishing them, dimming both the good and the bad. All he had was snippets, brief moments of time glistening like flecks of gold, embedded into the recesses of his mind, too small to chisel out for meaning.

There was his mother with him in the park. Her belly was full with Sam, and she was sitting on a bench. Dean danced around her, catching insects and bringing her handfuls of clover and dandelions. In his mind, Dean could still hear her laughter, pealing through the years.

Then he could see his dad hunched over a coffee table, notes splayed around him. Sam was asleep on the floor, face nestled into a flimsy motel pillow, his small features still dirty with dinner and his diaper full. Dean remembered walking up to his father, putting a hand on his knee, and looking up into his father’s scruffy face, wondering who he was.

And he could see Sam, face set and determined, telling Dean about what he wanted, about the future, about the possibilities. There was pain and fear there, and some undying hope that Dean wished he could blot out from his brother’s face.

But the one memory that wasn't dim, the one that wasn't tarnished or faded, the nugget that he could carve out of his mind and hold on to, was the smell of flame and smoke; so visceral, so real, and the heat that outmatched any summer day he’d ever known. The crackle had been deafening, harsh and callous, and he'd been scared—scared in a way he'd never been before. He remembered the look on his daddy’s face, a look he never could describe but knew so well, even today. And the only words he could remember: Take your brother outside as fast you can. Now, Dean, go!

John only had to tell Dean once. He told him again, many times over the years, but he'd only had to do it once. Because Dean remembered the weight of his baby brother in his arms and the way he counted the steps on his way outside, not looking back until he was out in the cold November air, looking up and feeling lost.

It meant so many things. From making sure Sam was fed to making sure nothing evil ever touched him. It was the story of Dean’s life. It was who he was. It gave him purpose, so he clung to it with everything he had left. Watch out for Sammy.

He clung to it because he needed purpose. He'd watched everything else he ever had and ever knew go up in flames. He'd watched his father disappear into a man he hardly knew. All he had left, the only thing, was taking care of Sam.

The years that followed came with skinned knees and broken hearts, and Dean took care of them all. Took care of everything until Sam left, and Dean had been alone.

It was a freedom, both for Sam and himself, even if it scared Dean. Even if it left him feeling void of personality, of who he was. It was a chance to define himself again, and Dean didn’t know what to do. He didn't want it, he never had, and it left him feeling vulnerable and weak and incomplete.

It was four years later when he came back for Sam, four years later when Sam’s defenses came tumbling down, and he needed Dean again.

Sam didn’t have to ask. Dad didn’t have to tell him. It was what he'd been missing, what he'd been waiting for. Watch out for Sammy.

Through spirits and demons, strife and destiny, Dean watched out for Sam.

Then John died, and the burden of protection became a scary thing, because it came with a truth far more sinister than Dean was ready to accept. Watch out for Sammy because Sam may be evil.

Dean believed more of it than he let on. He knew his brother’s heart, knew his brother’s goodness, but he also knew an evil that had taken everything from him. An evil that had felled his mother, his father, and Dean wasn’t sure Sam could resist that. But it didn’t change how he acted, what he felt. His vigilance increased, consuming him until there was nothing else left. No questions of what was next. No question of what was lost. No questions at all.

Dean watched out for Sam until Sam died.

That failure, deeper and more painful than anything, was more than he could accept. It wasn’t the loss of Sam, although that was bad enough, but the complete loss of himself, the loss of his purpose, and Dean knew he only had one card left to play.

He played it at the crossroads, in the dead of night, with a possessed woman and a demon he hated and needed in equal turns.

He'd thought it would make him happy. He'd thought it would make things better. He'd thought having Sam back would give him freedom. Freedom to live it up, to let himself die in peace. The string of girls and alcohol that followed were fast and furious and fun. Dean was alive. Dean was his own man.

Dean was free. Freer than when Sam left for Stanford, because this time he was fulfilling his purpose, becoming the epitome of sacrifice. Sam was alive, and Dean was free. Free from himself, free from Sam, free from his father’s legacy that he'd never asked for. Free because he'd lived up to and exceeded every duty ever placed upon him.


He told Sam it was his first selfish act, that he deserved it, but Dean had lied. It wasn’t his first selfish act. It was just another selfish act, one in a long line of protecting Sam to prove himself.

That was the point, in the end. Protecting Sam. Saving Sam. He could see that it hurt Sam, that it wore Sam’s soul thin, knowing Dean was going to die. But Sam would outlive him. That was all that mattered. Sam would live. Dean could gloss over the truth, placate Sam's emotions—do all the superficial things he'd always done, and in the end, he'd know he did what he was supposed to do.

It wasn't about making Sam a better person. It wasn't about holding Sam's hand. Sometimes that was a part of it, but it wasn't his priority. It was about keeping Sam safe, making him train even when he hated it. It was about making Sam put aside his dreams for the greater good of the family. It was about keeping Sam near him, with him, part of him, at almost any cost. This time he’d saved Sam in the most extreme way he could, he’d pulled Sam back, and Dean could only think how proud his father would be.

It didn’t matter what happened next, only what they had now, and now Sam was safe, alive, and Dean was free, strong.

In the end, it was an order Bobby had to give, not out of desperation like from his dad, but out of love, out of assumption. Look out for your brother, you idgit.

The same order he’d heard a thousand times, but this time it hit him. It wasn't a requirement; it wasn't a prerequisite to anything. It was a reminder, a nudge to keep his focus on what really mattered—not just Sam's life, but Sam himself.

Take your brother outside, as fast as you can. Now, Dean, go!

Watch out for Sammy.

Look out for your brother, you idgit.

Sam may have been safe, black eye and bullet wound in his shoulder aside, but Dean was pretty sure that wasn’t what really mattered. It was the reason Sam had left in the first place, the reason Sam had fought so hard against the life they had lived. Because what they offered him was protection, safety, not love, not acceptance, and that had never changed, not even at the crossroads.

Protection and love were not the same thing, and Dean wondered if that was more damning than any deal with the devil ever could be.



Posted by: Nora Norwich (norwich36)
Posted at: October 25th, 2007 04:33 am (UTC)
Dean hot

That was a terrific character study. I especially liked this part, because it rang really true for me:

Dean was free. Freer than when Sam left for Stanford, because this time he was fulfilling his purpose, becoming the epitome of sacrifice. Sam was alive, and Dean was free. Free from himself, free from Sam, free from his father’s legacy that he'd never asked for. Free because he'd lived up to and exceeded every duty ever placed upon him.

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