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Title: Forget Everything You Know about Dean Winchester
Fandom: Supernatural
Characters: Dean Winchester
Pairings: none
Rating: PG-13 for dark themes and excessive angst
Word Count: ~ 1400
Warnings: AU, character death, lots of angst
A/N:
 A "what if" character study set post "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1" (so, spoilers up through, and especially for "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1"); outside character 2nd person POV
Disclaimer: I own nothing and no money is being made, no copyright infringement intended!  "Supernatural" and its characters are owned by Eric Kripke, Warner Brothers, the CW network, et al.  This is fiction written entirely for entertainment purposes only.  Not mine; don't sue, please. I repeat: not mine.
Summary: If Dean hadn't made the deal, who would he have become?


You see the figure in the distance—tall; strong; lovingly worn leather jacket; short-cropped, dirty-blonde hair; worn and torn jeans—as he draws closer, you can make out the shape of the gold amulet on its black leather chord resting against his chest. You see him approach the bar and seat himself on the stool, outline of a handgun briefly visible at the small of his back as the jacket pulls against his body. It’s definitely him; has to be. 

 
The bartender approaches, she’s young and hot and blond, with big eyes and a shapely figure, low cut blouse exposing her ample cleavage. You anticipate his reaction, expecting to see some of the trademark charm, shameless flirting, boyish sparkle in his eyes, smile that weakened a thousand knees… But there’s something wrong. He doesn’t even lift his eyes, just fixedly at his hands on the counter, mumbles something barely even opening his mouth. The bartender turns away, returning moments later with a glass and a bottle of Jack Daniels. The man pulls some crumpled bills out of his pocket and tosses them on the counter, never really seeing the women in front of him. He pours a glass and starts to drink. That’s when he raises his head and turns towards you. And you see it. His eyes are old, empty. No boyish sparkle; no hint of levity; just cold, barely contained sorrow. He doesn’t smile, and there’s no cocky charm. Just hunched shoulders bearing the weight of the world and eyes that show a soul that has lost all hope. No game face; just naked, exposed, raw grief. What’s going on?
 
***
 
Forget everything you think you know about Dean Winchester. That man you know is dead, long gone; faded away ages ago; he exists only as the legend he would have liked to meet and was always destined to become.
 
This Dean Winchester is a shadow, a living ghost, a hollow shell left behind to wait out the end of the world. Say his name, and he might respond or he might not, his thoughts far off and lost in the pain—pain no longer hiding below the surface, but emanating from him like an aura, preceding him like a harbinger of doom.
 
***
 
Then, he was Dean Winchester, the one and only. Now, he is the one and only Winchester. A subtle distinction, but it makes all the difference in the world. He always knew it would be this way, but he always hoped it wouldn’t. 
 
***
 
Ordinary people fill their wallets with pictures of loved ones, family and friends whose photos they gladly share—a conversation piece for strangers, acquaintances, and kin. Look how much they’ve grown, how much they’ve changed; celebrate their achievements and herald their triumphs.
 
Dean Winchester fills his wallet with pictures of family long gone. Forgotten faces; true stories that only he knows; memories that no one else shares. His pictures are only for private moments of reflection and remembrance. Cherished. Irreplaceable. Intimate. To touch. To see. To smile. To cry. Tucked away again for protection. Shared with no one. The figures, memories, burdens, and regret Dean’s and Dean’s alone.
 
***
 
The Dean Winchester you knew liked pranks and fast food; goofing around and practical jokes.
 
This Dean hates hamburgers with extra onions. Goes silent at the mention of pie. His memories of rock-paper-scissors are haunted by the echo of a single gun shot. And he’ll flinch if he hears you say “jerk.”
 
***
 
Living people celebrate birthdays with family and friends. Spreading and sharing the joy of another year lived and the memories created and experienced.
 
It’s May 2nd and a classic black Impala is parked on a mountain road. Dean sits on the hood, bottle of Jack Daniels in hand, making a silent toast to the setting sun. A long sigh escapes his lips, a single tear rolls down his cheek, and he is reminded of another time when he wasn’t alone, when he had another purpose, when there was another living soul who knew the stories of his life. Dean Winchester’s birthday passes unnoticed, but he always remembers how old Sammy would have been today.
 
***
 
The Dean Winchester of legend took care of Sammy. Every moment, every breath was dedicated to saving, protecting, keeping Sammy safe. Nothing else mattered and nothing ever could. 
 
The shadow that walks the earth today has no one left to take care of, but a memory and a legacy to protect. An unfinished mission—a burden passed on from father to son to brother—it’s not the same, he still failed, in the end he was too late, but maybe he can finish the one thing that brought them so much pain. The Demon took everything from Dean. By taking the Demon’s life, maybe, just maybe, he can atone for his sin; a silent penance to his absent charge; the closest thing to closure this Dean Winchester will ever get.
 
***
 
The Dean Winchester you knew loved kids, he really did. He could always relate to them, understood their fears, knew how to get them to cooperate with minimal pain and fuss, bring them out of the deepest depression, help them to cope with the harsh realities of the cruel world. If he’d ever allowed himself to admit his own dreams, he would have loved to have kids of his own. Every child reminded Dean of himself, of the happy child he had once been; every child reminded Dean of Sammy and the innocence Dean had always wanted to protect.
 
Every child reminds Dean of Sammy; of the light that will never shine in his eyes again, of the promises Dean couldn’t keep, of the baby in his arms as he ran from the fire. You see Dean pass by a playground, his step quickens, shoulders hunch, eyes cast down at the sidewalk, a shudder wracking his body, eyes unable to hide something—fear, you realize. This Dean can’t see hope or futures or promise in the playing children. He sees only pain, regret, loss, and failure; memories of a happy child with curly brown hair, a smile that could light up the darkest corners of your soul, and big round puppy dog eyes that could never be refused; a life long gone, and Dean remembers the beginning and the end and the far too few years in between.
 
***
 
Once upon a time, Dean Winchester and his famous game face could fool anyone, except Sammy of course. You’d see him joking and flirting and insisting he was fine carrying on without a care in the world, and he could be ten seconds from passing out, five seconds from a broken heart, and you’d never know. Dean never let anyone see his pain. No one but Sammy would have known. Ironic really, since it was all to protect Sammy anyway. 
 
You see Dean Winchester walk into a convenience store. He’s inside for about five seconds, and then it’s like a switch is flipped and his walls drop. Faster than you can blink he’s turning, running, fleeing the store, barely shoving the door out of the way. He stumbles blindly around the corner before bending and heaving onto the ground, the shock of it shaking his body. Then he collapses against the wall, sinking to the cold dirty concrete of the alley, sobs wracking his body, pain and tears streaming from haunted eyes. You realize what he saw, the mug shot of Sam Winchester on the wanted poster pinned haphazardly next to the counter, round puppy dog eyes full of annoyance, defiance, and life staring back. Dean shows it all now. He’s having a full-blown flashback in the alley, wakes up drenched in sweat shaking and screaming as he relives the worst minutes of his life every night in his dreams. There’s no point in hiding your pain if there’s no one to hide it from, and Dean has no one left to protect.
 
***
 
Forget everything you know about Dean Winchester because that man is long gone, only his legend and legacy remain. The shadow that walks the earth today will soon fade away; life without a purpose, life without hope is no life at all. But maybe, after he is finished here, he will find rest, peace, and the sense of home he never knew in life.

Comments

( 55 comments — Leave a comment )
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turquoisetumult
Sep. 14th, 2007 02:56 am (UTC)
Wow.

This was so beautifully written.

I love that this is an AU look at what would have happened if Sam had stayed dead. The way you described every one of Dean's actions, every one of his changes, broke me to pieces.

Absolutely wonderful job!!!!
paleogymnast
Sep. 14th, 2007 05:42 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for reading and for your comments! I'm just glad people like that story as much as I do. I have a tendency to tear up over my own writing, and it really makes me happy to see that it has an effect on other readers!
engel82
Sep. 14th, 2007 04:41 am (UTC)
Seriously. Post it in a community, I read it on sanctuary and I wasnt lying when I said it was great.

It's SO sad, esp that I have JUST rewatched AHBL2.

Only reason I am not re-reading now is because I KNOW it will make me cry and I am at work.

You have to share that one.
paleogymnast
Sep. 14th, 2007 05:43 am (UTC)
Engel, Ok, you've convinced me. I'll post it in a com, but *feels like idiot* how do I do that?
engel82
Sep. 14th, 2007 04:55 am (UTC)
**is an idiot**

I read it anyway. :P
rhianne
Sep. 14th, 2007 07:41 am (UTC)
Oh, wow. This is just heartbreaking. *sniffles*
paleogymnast
Sep. 14th, 2007 08:56 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm really glad you enjoyed it!
(no subject) - rhianne - Sep. 14th, 2007 09:05 am (UTC) - Expand
girlfan1979
Sep. 14th, 2007 09:06 am (UTC)
Oh, wow. Very powerful and moving. Thank you for sharing.
paleogymnast
Sep. 14th, 2007 05:19 pm (UTC)
You're welcome and thanks for reading (and takng the time to comment)! I just might share more of my fic now, since this one seems to be well received. :)
(no subject) - girlfan1979 - Sep. 14th, 2007 05:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paleogymnast - Sep. 14th, 2007 08:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
fleshflutter
Sep. 14th, 2007 09:29 am (UTC)
Then, he was Dean Winchester, the one and only. Now, he is the one and only Winchester.
Oh that is so so beautiful. You've really put a lot of thought into even the most subtle differences. This was brilliant. :)
paleogymnast
Sep. 14th, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And interestingly, that was the line that inspired the rest of the fic. Once that line popped into my head the rest of it just flowed.
love_4400
Sep. 14th, 2007 05:29 pm (UTC)
That broke my heart :( Poor Dean.


But that was a great fic.
paleogymnast
Sep. 14th, 2007 08:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Breaking Dean is fun!! *evil grin* But really, I do want to see him put back together again! I'm glad that the story on Supernatural didn't go this way (because that would just be too heartbreaking), but then again, Dean may actually be winding up more broken the way the episodes are developing.
starpixie16
Sep. 15th, 2007 12:26 am (UTC)
This was amazingly heartbreaking and real. You painted such a vivid picture of the pain Dean would have suffered if he'd never made that deal, if he were the last Winchester standing. I just ached for poor Dean the entire time I was reading this.

Dean Winchester’s birthday passes unnoticed, but he always remembers how old Sammy would have been today.

That line was truly one of my favorites. It's so bittersweet and lovely.
paleogymnast
Sep. 15th, 2007 01:06 am (UTC)
Wow, thank you so much for your comments! I'm really glad you like that line too. I really wanted to capture Dean's devotion to Sam, how his life has never been about himself, it's always been about his brother right down to the smallest detail. It's good to know that I hit the mark!
tigriswolf
Sep. 15th, 2007 01:46 am (UTC)
Ah, shit. *hugs Dean*

Wonderfully done.
paleogymnast
Sep. 15th, 2007 02:13 am (UTC)
Oh my god!! I love your fanfic (I've been a lurky reader for ages), so coming from you, that is the absolute highest compliment. *faints*
(no subject) - tigriswolf - Sep. 15th, 2007 03:15 am (UTC) - Expand
debarouchi
Sep. 15th, 2007 01:51 am (UTC)
Oh my god, I cant really see to type through my tears. This really hit me hard.

It was really well told by an outsiders POV, and so accurate to the image and idea I already had of Dean if he had of lost Sam.

Thank you for sharing, I'd like to read more of your writing, even if it does get to me like this!
paleogymnast
Sep. 15th, 2007 02:14 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading and commenting. I did post one other story to sn_fic, so maybe will come out of my shell a bit and post some more. Thanks for the encouragement, and I'm really glad you liked the POV!
emerald_angel9
Sep. 15th, 2007 07:14 pm (UTC)
oh, no! you've got me crying. I loved this! so many great lines, but one I really liked was this:

he exists only as the legend he would have liked to meet and was always destined to become.

And Sammy's birthday...oh, you are killing me!

Keep posting!

-Em
paleogymnast
Sep. 15th, 2007 07:25 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you, em!! I'm glad I made you cry (sobbing uncontrolably was kind of the aim of the piece, not to sound evil or anything)! I will defintitely keep posting. :)
minniemax
Sep. 17th, 2007 03:13 pm (UTC)
this just about done me in, but I seldom read something equally beautiful
thanks for sharing
paleogymnast
Sep. 17th, 2007 03:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much for reading and for the compliment. :)
affectingly
Oct. 2nd, 2007 03:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, Dean. I just... wow. It made me all teary-eyed at work, man. Dean just angsts so fucking well. I mean, I want nothing more than for him to be happy forever and ever, amen, but he's so fucking beautiful when he's in pain. ;_; Wonderful piece. :D
paleogymnast
Oct. 3rd, 2007 10:44 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you! Considering how much I enjoy your fic, I really appreciate you coming over hear and reading some of mine and commenting!! :D I will have more posted soon, I hope. I have a few SN stories in the works, but right now I'm kind of caught up in an RPS epic I'm writing (I can make Jensen angst beautifully too... although he doesn't angst quite as well as Dean).
*sigh* I cried when I wrote this and I cry every time I read it, so I am very happy that it had that effect on you too. :)
julsus
Oct. 12th, 2007 04:38 am (UTC)
Oh Paley! You so know how to break my heart don't you?

This is exactly how Dean would've been if Sammy had remained dead.

Beautifully written.

- Suze :)
paleogymnast
Oct. 12th, 2007 07:19 am (UTC)
Aw Suze,

Thanks for reading and commenting. I enjoy breaking my own heart and I had this story idea floating around in my head for a month before even AHBL1 aired (the pain and benefits of being a spoiler queen), and I wound up writing the whole thing in one go in the middle of the night. Glad you liked it!
(Deleted comment)
paleogymnast
Oct. 15th, 2007 08:48 am (UTC)
Oh thank you! That means so much coming from someone who doesn't normally like death fics. I like to think that this isn't an *ordinary* death fic since it's more of a what if.

And I sobbed writing this, so I'm glad it moves other people as much as it moved me. Once I had the idea in my head I couldn't not write it.
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