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Life After LIfe (SPN Fic, PG-13)


Title: Life After Life
Author: paleogymnast
Fandom/Genre: Supernatural, Het (non explicit), Futurefic, Character Study
Characters: Dean Winchester, others (5.22 spoilers) highlight: Lisa Braeden, Ben Braeden, mentions of Sam Winchester
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1,094
Warnings: none to speak of aside from major spoilers for 5.22
Spoilers: Up through 5.22
Disclaimer: Written for fun, not profit; anything you recognize belongs to Kripke, Warner Bros., et al.
A/N 1: This is the second in a series of seven fics my post-5.22 ‘verse. Can be read as a stand-alone.
A/N 2: Many thanks to Carlos and calamitycrow for the beta!

Summary: Dean used to compare his life to action movies—Star Wars, Bonnie and Clyde, that sort of thing. Now he realizes he's got more in common with Rose Dawson from Titanic than he’d like to acknowledge. Set post 5.22, a character study in which Dean compares his life to the movies.

Also available on: AO3
Or continue to read

Life after Life

Dean Winchester has spent his life comparing himself to characters in movies and TV shows. For a kid growing up with few constants in his life beyond the rumble of the Impala’s wheels over the expansion joints of old highways and the static-y buzz of hotel television sets, it’s no wonder he—he and Sam found comfort and escape in “T.J. Hooker” and “Thundercats” and “The A Team.” As he got older, grew into being the grownup he’d been since he was four years old, the kinds of films and characters he identified with mutated, shifted. He no longer thought about being cool like Luke Skywalker or Optimus Prime, but daydreamed about going out in a blaze of glory like the titular characters in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or maybe Bonnie and Clyde—or when he was hanging around with Sam and his emo, artistic friends—like True Romance or Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

Sometimes he imagines he and Sam are gonna save the world like Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day, only without the highly improbable computer viruses and from ghosts or werewolves instead of aliens, but that’s the idea. Big damn heroes and all that shit.

Dean still identifies with film and characters in his new life, his civilian life. Only they’re not the sort he would expect.

When Ben is in eighth grade, his English teacher, who Dean ultimately decides is a woefully misguided excuse for a human being who finds things like love and death and soul-crushing loss are romantic, assigns Titanic to her class to watch and analyze as a “modern classic.” Dean’s all geared up to heckle it with Ben and joke about having to analyze a total chick flick, but then they’re halfway through and Dean feels the dread rising inside him, ready to close like a fist around his heart, three-quarters of the way and the bile’s rising in his throat, right before the end and he’s crying like a baby, listening to Rose telling Jack she’ll never let go, and that’s when he realizes, he’s Rose. Goddamnit, how the hell did that happen? It’s a rhetorical question, of course, he knows perfectly well he got here because his brother died to save the world and made him promise to live a full and happy life. But while Rose gets her happy heaven filled with everyone who went down with the ship, Dean knows without a doubt the person he most wants to see again won’t be waiting for him in some grand ballroom in heaven. So instead, he curses Ben’s teacher and decides James Cameron has undoubtedly earned himself a choice spot in hell and grudgingly gives Titanic his respect.

He makes the mistake of watching AI with Lisa. It’s on Cinemax, and it’s their anniversary, and Dean is trying to be cultured and he thinks why the hell not? After all, it’s Spielberg, how bad can it be?

Dean has got to learn to stop tempting fate. Because how bad, is really a loaded question… one whose answer includes Lisa mumbling on about ‘triggers’ and cursing the lack of adequate warnings on films, and Dean sitting on their couch shaking, thinking about eternity and wondering if fifty years from now sitting at the bottom of the ocean begging the blue fairy to let him see Sam again will seem like a good idea. He’s not sure if Lisa always knew so much psychology, or if it’s something she picked up only after he moved in, he doesn’t really want to know. He also wishes he didn’t know so much about eternity and Heaven and Hell, because maybe then he wouldn’t feel so empty and lost… But then again, he’s pretty sure wishing is the path to insanity. Just look where it got Haley Joel. Or that wishing well? Getting through the day-to-day is okay, good even, most of the time. It’s just thinking about forever… and damn Steven Spielberg’s immortal robots for taking him to that place. It takes Lisa three more hours to talk him back to himself. Shitty way to spend their anniversary. They never watch the movie again, and it’s a long time before he’ll watch anything Spielberg’s involved in. (Which sucks because he really does love Indiana Jones!)

For some reason, he never saw Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End when it was new. Later he’ll realize that probably had a lot to do with the ticking clock of the deal hanging over his head. When the movie was new he was getting ready to die. When Ben sits down to watch it with his friends, Dean thinks it could be a fun bonding experience. It’s Bruckheimer; that means lots of mindless explosions and overpriced special effects. Dean really should have known better. He promises he’ll learn this lesson sometime… maybe by the time he’s eighty. Afterwards he wishes he’d never watched the damn thing. Realizing you have a lot in common with Rose in Titanic is bad enough. Sitting on the couch biting his tongue over stupid characters who stupidly try to keep promises to their fathers and save each other and bring each other back from the dead and make deals with gods and monsters… it’s too much like his old life, and damned if he isn’t a little (okay a lot) jealous of Elizabeth at the end getting her one day of happiness each decade.

And that’s when he realizes this has got to stop. He’s not miserable. Really. He doesn’t spend his days moping and dwelling and visiting his personal ghosts. It’s just… some part of him keeps looking to the old comforts, the identity and escape a good movie provides, and he’s always caught off guard, off balance when he reaches for it and instead of comfort he cuts himself on the jagged edges of his past.

In the movies sometimes characters find life after death. But almost none of them have to worry about life after life still stuck on earth doing more of the same old thing. Okay, so maybe there’s Highlander and a couple immortals named MacLeod and they’re badass and cool and all that stuff, but by now Dean’s figured out that any comfort that identification might bring will be overshadowed by the ghosts the movies dredge up. Maybe he’ll be ready in another five years, maybe ten. But for now he’ll wait. Maybe stick to sitcoms, and try not to think about how much better Rose Dawson was at this living-for-someone-else gig.

Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
hollieciccone
Jun. 11th, 2010 08:43 pm (UTC)
WOW That was very deep and thought provoking. Dean probably will never be able to escape his past. I am sure there will always be something there to remind him of what he lost.
paleogymnast
Jun. 11th, 2010 08:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for reading!! :) I don't think Dean can ever escape his past, nor would he really want to--it's a part of who he is--but given time, how he balances his life, copes, deals, that will begin to change. But yeah, it's those little things that come out of nowhere and blindside him with memories that are going to take the longest to get a handle on (and I doubt he ever *totally* would).

Thank you for your lovely comment!! :)
etoile444
Jun. 11th, 2010 11:28 pm (UTC)
Ah Dean, you would be that "old chick from Titanic". You did a great job twisting three different genre movies together and yet having each one touch Dean. I have to admit, both Titanic and AI left me sobbing like crazy! Espcially AI. And I think it was due to the lonliness of the boy robot at the end. I can see how this would affect Dean. there he is trying to move on, but life after living isn't easy.
paleogymnast
Jun. 11th, 2010 11:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the comment!!

I felt like I was cheating a little with the movies, as I usually often do when I make movie references in fic. I can't remember *quite* how I realized it but it occurred to me that Dean was way too freaking much like Rose and if Dean were to have that realization, he'd be annoyed to no end. And a bit amused, and maybe a little maudlin, but mostly annoyed. Then I started thinking about othe movies that could totally blindside him.

AI is my least favorite movie of all time, and it immediately came to me as something that would totally frak Dean up if he saw it, because it does have that impossible, futile, clawing despearation in hope that just kills. It's a very well conceived and written movie, well acted, good visual effects, a great director... and none of that stops me from viscerally hating it. It's that constant torture of living forever knowing there's one thing out there you want more than anything but can never have and hanging on to that tiny bit of hope that maybe, somehow, one day it will be different. Since Dean knows there's an afterlife and he knows what heaven and hell are both like, I just think there has to be some part of his mind that--if he's not very, very careful--is always lying in wait ready to overwhelm him with that sense of loss again; the certainty it will always be with him. So, yeah, AI would probably knock him on his ass.

Finally, Pirates of the Caribean: At Worlds End is a movie that reminded me way too much of Supernatural when I first saw it. So sticking it in here to have Dean see that reflected back at him seemed very fitting.

Thanks again for reading and commenting!! :)
borgmama1of5
Jun. 11th, 2010 11:34 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is a killer!

Could totally see it happening this way for Dean!
paleogymnast
Jun. 11th, 2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you for reading!! :D Dean's depressed, but it's not so bad. I promise the other fics get a bit lighter. :) Or at least I think they do... but I reckognize I may not be the best judge of that. :)

Thank you for your comment!! :D
arliss
Jun. 12th, 2010 03:34 am (UTC)
I'm really enjoying these. The life-as-a-movie idea is a really good one. And yeah, definitely Dean is Rose.
paleogymnast
Jun. 12th, 2010 03:45 am (UTC)
Thanks! And thanks very much for reading!! I hope you continue to enjoy them!! :D
kasmodia
Jun. 12th, 2010 07:44 am (UTC)
Smart idea. And heart-wrenching. And... sorry, gotta go watch a movie to cheer me up. *snifflesalittle*
paleogymnast
Jun. 12th, 2010 07:51 am (UTC)
*hands out tissues* Aww, thanks so much for reading! I'm glad people find this moving... But it's not all sad, there's a little humor in there too--at least I think Dean would see it that way with a kind of dark... irony. The guy who hates chick flicks winds up being like the main character in possibly the biggest chick flick of all time? He'd hate that, but part of him would get a laugh out of it in spite everything.

I think the tone and mood of the stories goes up from here. :D
pinkphoenix1985
Jun. 13th, 2010 07:37 am (UTC)
this is so poignant and sad!
paleogymnast
Jun. 13th, 2010 08:01 am (UTC)
*hands out tissues*

I hope it wasn't poignant and sad in a bad way. But I promise, the stories in this 'verse get more positive. :)
pinkphoenix1985
Jun. 13th, 2010 08:30 am (UTC)
I wouldn't say a bad way but you definitely got me into Dean's mindset and after 5x22, I don't think that his mindset is a fun place to be
paleogymnast
Jun. 13th, 2010 08:33 am (UTC)
Ah but it gets much better. This is just Dean as he's adjusting in those suprise moments that sneak up on him, like he realizes at the end; he will get there eventually--to a place where it's easier, where the surprises are less and less frequent. It will just take more time. But it's okay. And the next fic in this 'verse (which is a Sam character study), I promise is ridiculously and surprisingly positive, hopeful, maybe even uplifting. :) Definitely thought provoking in a happier thoughts kind of way.
pinkphoenix1985
Jun. 13th, 2010 09:03 am (UTC)
Oh I know--but that's the thing with fanfic--the ability to showcase character's feelings throughout time. I have no doubt that come S6, the show will have Dean be positive and "happy" while maybe later on in the season showing flashbacks where he wasn't so happy.

Oh wow!! you're doing a Sam character study? I was content with the Dean ones but now you have me really intrigued.
paleogymnast
Jun. 13th, 2010 09:07 am (UTC)
Yes, yes. It's already posted. There's also a Lisa character study that will go up later today, then a one-shot fic set later on, an epistolary fic between Sam and someone else, and another one-shot fic. Those ae the seven stories I have in this 'verse at the present. I may write more. We'll have to see, but yeah. There's a Sam character study ready and waiting, if you're so inclined. :)
pinkphoenix1985
Jun. 13th, 2010 09:43 am (UTC)
Oh cool! I'm off to read it now
embroiderama
Jun. 14th, 2010 01:33 am (UTC)
Oh Dean, pop culture turned on him. I really like how you get in his head here.
paleogymnast
Jun. 14th, 2010 01:52 am (UTC)
Thank you! :D Yeah, Dean got a bit more than he bargained for by watching those movies. *pets him*
turquoisetumult
Jun. 14th, 2010 02:44 am (UTC)
Really great! I love Dean's comparison of his situation to the movies. It's such a Dean thing to do.
paleogymnast
Jun. 14th, 2010 02:49 am (UTC)
Thanks again! I thought it was a very dean thing to do too. He does tend to see everything through a sort of pop culture lense--or at least the pop culture he's been exposed to.
jellicle
Jun. 15th, 2010 10:41 pm (UTC)
I don't think I've ever looked at thoese movies that way.

I think maybe this was the saddest piece of this verse. I know I'm reading it out of order. :) Anyway, this was heartbreaking and yet really really wonderful.
paleogymnast
Jun. 16th, 2010 03:47 am (UTC)
*passes out tissues*

This fic is sad, but I hope it comes across as more... melancholy and wistful with burgeoning hope than just outright sad.

Like I said to one of the other commenters, I feel like I was cheating a little bit with this fic because I stole a lot of my reactions to the movies I used and then spinning them into Dean's perspective, but I think it worked. And I'm really glad you liked it!! :) Thaks so much for reading and commenting!! :D
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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