Fandom/Genre: Supernatural, Futurefic, Het
Characters: Dean Winchester, others (5.22 spoilers) highlight: Lisa Braeden, Ben Braeden, mentions of Chuck, Sam Winchester, OFC
Word Count: 4,888
Warnings: Het (not graphic), spoilers through 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 seventh in a series of seven fics my post-5.22 ‘verse.
A/N 2: Many thanks to Carlos, calamitycrow, and sleepwalker1015 for the beta and feedback!
A/N 3: If you’re reading all the fics in this ‘verse, this is set after Life After Life but before Reclamation. However it can still be read as a standalone.
Summary: Dean Winchester is happily living out his life. The problem is, sometimes, no matter what he does, there are some ties to his old life that are outside his control. What does Dean do when one of the relics of his past threatens his new life?
Want more summary? (5.22 Spoilers)In which Dean is an awesome dad, Ben is an angsty college student with unfortunate luck, and Lisa saves the day.
Also available on: AO3
Or continue to read
“Hrmpf,” Dean grunted as Lisa flung him to their bed. He landed with a well-cushioned plop on the plush comforter.
“What?” Lisa asked with an exasperated chuckle. “Dean Winchester saying ‘no’ to sex? That’s unheard of!” Dean had taken her name... was it really eight years ago already? But Lisa still used his old name for affect… especially to tease him. She shifted her hands so they firmly encircled Dean’s wrists and grinned as she shifted her body over him.
He gave a half-hearted twitch. It only served to bring their hips closer together.
Lisa let out a satisfied snort.
Dean gave a frustrated groan. “It’s not unheard of,” he complained with a sigh.
Lisa immediately felt like an insensitive jerk. It’s not like she forgot, not like she could forget. Lack of interest in sex was often the first warning that Dean’s depression was flaring up again. She stilled, running through her mental calendar as she moved her hands from his wrists to rest on the bed on either side of his head, lifting her body slightly in the process. Nope, they weren’t even close to any of the dates that were prone to causing Dean’s ‘emotional bullshit’ as he was fond of calling it. “Are you okay?” she asked, meeting Dean’s eyes.
He didn’t flinch away or break her gaze. “I’m fine,” he said seriously, sitting up to capture her lips in a kiss.
For a moment Lisa was overcome with annoyance tinged with rage. “You had me worried, don’t do that!” she exclaimed, pulling back and raising her left hand to swat—playfully—at his shoulder.
“Hey, hey, sorry. I’m sorry,” he said, reaching up and brushing hair from her eyes. “I wasn’t trying to make you feel bad, I’m just… It’s two o’clock on a Saturday afternoon,” he half-whined, his tone suggesting he thought the explanation was obvious.
Lisa bit her lip. “Yes, it is. It’s two o’clock, and you don’t have any customers breathing down your neck needing their cars fixed this very instant. I don’t have any classes to teach, and Ben is away at college… with plans this weekend, so we don’t even have to worry about him coming home to do laundry. Dean, we’ve got the house to ourselves. I just want to enjoy it a little.” She leaned down and kissed his the tip of his nose teasingly, then brushing her lips along his cheek, whispered into his ear, “I want to enjoy you.”
Dean gave a snuffling grunt that turned into a high-pitched whine when Lisa began nibbling at his earlobe. “Oh, oh, damn!” he swore.
That sounded a little less than pleased. Lisa pulled back again and looked at him, her eyebrows drawing together as she tried to figure out what was going on. “What is it?” she asked. Something was definitely bothering Dean, and now it was making her concerned. Dean wasn’t exactly prone to getting upset or worried for no reason.
“It’s gonna sound stupid, but I’m worried about Ben,” Dean said, eyes flitting around the room before meeting hers.
“What exactly are you worried about. Ben’s a good boy, he did fine last year, and he did a lot of growing up over the summer. He’ll be fine spending the weekend by himself.” Ben was nineteen now and in his second year at IUB. Last year he’d driven home almost every weekend to do laundry, eat dinner, see his parents—it had been quite the surprise after his somewhat wild streak in high school. Ben had been chomping at the bit to move out, be on his own. He’d even ditched three days of school to go on an impromptu road trip his junior year of high school. Ben being almost… clingy had been quite the surprise, for Lisa anyway. Dean had seemed to expect it and had been relieved. Or at least he’d seemed relieved. They’d spent a lot of time talking with Ben about comfort levels and homesickness and striking a balance between independence and family. Dean had been doing pretty well. Maybe he was just getting some separation anxiety?
“I… I’m not worried about Ben, exactly. I mean, I’m worried about him, but I know he’s a good kid, can take care of himself. It’s… it’s…” Dean seemed to struggle for the right word.
“It’s what?” Lisa asked with a frustrated snort, fully expecting Dean to say ‘it’s me.’
“It’s this girl he’s seeing,” Dean answered, meeting Lisa’s eyes again.
She saw something that looked like genuine fear there, and her stomach flipped a little. “Wha—what about her?” Lisa swallowed hard, trying to push the rising dread away. Part of her wanted to blow it off, scold Dean for being over protective or paranoid, but that was kind of the problem... Dean didn’t really do overprotective and rather than paranoia, his inklings about danger or something being not quite right were backed up by a lifetime of well, dealing with really fucked up shit. So instead of retorting, Lisa let her breath out in a huff. “What about her, Dean? Is it something su—”
“No,” he answered forcefully, then again as if reassuring himself, “No... that’s not it. I mean she’s human, far as I can tell, not having met her.” He shrugged, “It sounds stupid, paranoid, and I know Ben can take care of himself, but... I keep getting this feeling like something’s just not right with her. “
Lisa stroked her hand soothingly down Dean’s still-clothed chest. “I don’t think it’s paranoid, especially with your background. Your intuition is very well-tuned.” She smiled at him. “I’m sure Ben is okay, and he’ll call us if anything’s wrong. But if you want to call him, or pay him a surprise visit, that’s okay too.”
Dean scrunched his face up, clearly warring with the idea. “Nah, I don’t wanna be that dad. Ben will call, and I don’t really get the sense this girl is evil... just more that something’s not quite right. Ben said,” Dean paused, swallowed, and looked up at Lisa. “Ben said Candy? Or Christie, or whatever her name is, told him he had a really sexy name. I’m not dissing your—our—name, it’s just... Ben’s got a lot going for him, you know. That seems like a really weird thing to latch onto. I dunno, kinda sent alarm bells ringing in my head.”
Lisa looked down at him skeptically. This was definitely not a new fear, that was to say, she could tell Dean had been chewing this over in his mind for days, probably since Ben first mentioned Cherry three weeks ago. “Dean, if you really think something’s wrong, then let’s call Ben, let him know how you’re feeling.”
“Well... I feel guilty, but I have been contemplating doing some research on C—what’s her name?”
“Cherry,” Lisa supplied.
“Cherry,” he continued, “but I don’t want to invade Ben’s privacy—”
“Then tell him,” Lisa said with exasperation. The ‘silly’ went unsaid, but she knew Dean heard it nonetheless. “If you don’t, I will. Otherwise I’m going to worry.”
Dean shifted, working his elbows up underneath him so he was propped up to half-sitting. “I, I’m sorry, I didn’t want you to worry and I hate it when, when I...” He let his voice trail off.
Lisa nodded. She understood. Dean hated anything that reminded him of his old life. Scratch that, it wasn’t really the reminder; it was feeling like he was acting like a hunter again. Lisa wasn’t exactly sure how his thought processes worked, but the gist of it was something along the lines of Dean was supposed to be done with—free from—hunting and the supernatural. He hated what that world could do to a kid, to a family, and he felt guilty every time something hunting-related or supernatural crept into their lives. She was pretty sure there were times Dean felt like he was tainting them somehow. If he beat himself up over this any more, that’s when she’d remind him—again—that the supernatural had found her and Ben once before and that had nothing to do with Dean. It pure luck and coincidence he’d even been in town. Otherwise Lisa and Ben would probably be dead. Lisa looked Dean deep in the eye as she moved on the bed so she was curled around his side, one arm still propping her up on the other side of his hips. She knew he’d see it there in her eyes without her needing to say anything.
“Okay, okay, I see your point,” he conceded, smiling at Lisa with an expression of mixed relief and amusement.
That’s more like it. Dean was so much more self-secure than he used to be, but sometimes he still needed a little reassurance.
“How about this,” Dean suggested. “Ben is supposed to be at a barbeque with... Cherry,” he stumbled over her name, “and a bunch of friends. “Rather than interrupt them now, where he’s got tons of witnesses around, let’s call him at four? Before he does anything more... intimate with her.”
“Sounds good to me,” Lisa agreed, settling into Dean’s side as he kissed her forehead. “But I’ve got a feeling you won’t relax until you’ve talked to him,” she added knowingly, elbowing Dean lightly in the ribs.
He gave an amused, frustrated grunt. “You know me too well.”
“All part of why I’m so awesome,” Lisa teased. She sat upright, dropping her legs over the side of the bed. “Now why don’t we go do something to keep you distracted?”
“Like what?” Dean asked with mock indignant.
“We could make pie, from scratch,” Lisa suggested.
Dean’s face lit up like a Christmas tree. “I like how you think!” he exclaimed with a grin.
Lisa stood, and Dean started to follow her, only then, he paused.
“Just as long as it’s not cherry.” Dean shuddered.
The pies (peach and apple) were just ready to go in the oven, when the issue of calling Ben was solved for them. Lisa looked up at the sound of a car pulling into the driveway. Ben’s car. A lovingly restored midnight blue 1969 Dodge Charger. Dean had rebuilt it himself, and they’d given it to Ben for his 16th birthday. The car was probably his most prized possession, so it came as a shock to Lisa when she heard the door slam, followed immediately by footsteps on the front steps. Lisa cast a wary glance to Dean.
His eyes met hers with foreboding, not a hint of ‘I told you so’ in there anywhere. Dean’s eyes tracked to the clock.
Lisa followed. 3:55 p.m. It took at least an hour and forty minutes to get from Bloomington to Cicero, and that was assuming the traffic going around Indianapolis wasn’t too hideous. She met Dean’s eyes again with a shared sense of alarm. Ben must have left just minutes after their conversation. So much for him being safe around his friends.
Lisa held her breath as Ben’s key rattled in the door. She was pretty sure Dean was holding his breath too. The rattle of keys faltered and dropped with a metallic clatter to the sidewalk, prompting twin gasps. When finally the lock rattled again and Lisa could here Ben’s ragged breathing and the slam of the door. Beside her, Dean let out a nervous sigh. “Ben?” she called.
“Dad, mom, dad!” Ben exclaimed as he dashed into the room looking frantically from Dean to Lisa and back to Dean again. He was wearing IUB sweatpants and a faded Metallica t-shirt that had once been Dean’s. His backpack trailed from one shoulder, its zipper only mostly closed. Ben’s hair was mussed as if he’d been, well, sleeping or sleeping with someone immediately before starting his flight. Dean had thought there was something up with Cherry? Lisa shuddered, next time Dean had a hunch they were acting on it immediately, no hesitation, no matter how silly or paranoid it seemed at the time.
“Ben?” Dean asked looking at their son warily.
“Dad, she knows, or suspects. Cherry, I—I don’t know what to do. First time I try something longer than a weekend, it turns out the chick’s a fan,” he mumbled hysterically to himself.
Lisa wasn’t tracking. What did fandom have to do with anything? Was Ben freaking out because the girl, Cherry, had some sort of strange fetish or was obsessed with some... TV show he didn’t like? It made no sense, only...
Only Dean seemed to have sailed through the questions and settled on an answer that made sense and apparently scared the shit out of him.
Oh this was not good. Really, really not good... “Ben?” she prompted hoping for more explanation.
Ben glanced at her, eyes confused, terrified, but he turned back to Dean as soon as he began to speak.
“Ben, you mean she’s a fan... a fan of...” he couldn’t seem to bring himself to say it.
And that’s when it clicked for Lisa. Oh shit!
“Of Chuck’s books,” Dean finished with a note of chilled certainty.
“Y-yes,” Ben agreed, dropping into one of the chairs at the table in their open-plan kitchen and dining room. He was shaking, and his backpack slipped from his shoulder to the floor with a dejected ‘plop.’ “Only it’s... it’s worse.” Ben shook his head. “The fans pestered the publisher who worked with the agent and the lawyers... they figured out Carver Edlund was Chuck Shirley. He didn’t want the rest of the books published...”
“Yeah, I—w-we—asked him not to,” Dean explained.
“Well his publisher and agent disagreed, and... Chuck disappeared... somewhere around the apocalypse, maybe right after, and a little over a year ago, he’d been missing for seven years, they had him declared legally dead, and the publication rights went to his estate...”
Lisa watched as Dean went from worried to a mixture of angry and defiant she hadn’t seen since...
“They published the rest of the books.” Dean’s voice was a low growl.
Ben nodded, eyes wide; he looked like a little boy again, not the developing adult he’d grown into.
Dean hung his head, hands gripping tightly to the back of a chair, elbows locked and shoulders hunched.
“How many?” Lisa asked when neither Ben nor Dean spoke. She tucked her right hand up under her chin, playing with the collar of her shirt, right elbow gripped in her left hand; she couldn’t resist the need to fidget. Lisa wanted to make things right, right now. She needed to figure out the threat to her family, make them safe, and then make sure Dean and Ben were all right. Because right now, they looked anything but. But first... first she had to know how bad the damage was. For over eight years they’d been safe, managed to dodge the legacy of Dean’s past. They’d managed to figure out how to deal with Dean and doctors, idiots who assumed Dean must have been an only child, and all the awkward questions about Dean’s past. They could figure this out too. Lisa was confident.
“How many did they publish... how—”
“A-all of them,” Ben stammered. “He wrote everything up through the end of the apocalypse. He wrote about you coming here, to us, to Mom and me.”
Dean raised his hand in frustration, dropping it half way back to the chair before thinking better of it and slowing, gently settling and grabbing the chair again in a white-knuckled grip. “Shit. Shit.” Dean looked lost; he turned to Lisa, but couldn’t meet her eye. He glanced away, down at his hands and the chair. “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry... I never wanted any of this to hurt you, either of you.”
“Dean,” Lisa protested, taking a step towards him, finally un-freezing from her spot by the counter.
Dean held up a hand, shaking his head. “This is on me. You shouldn’t—”
“Dean, stop. It’s not something you could control. I know you didn’t want this to happen.” She hoped her tone was reassuring, but then again, she knew Dean. When he got it into his head he was responsible for something, well... it was a great attribute when he was defending people he cared about, but he still had a tendency to engage in self-flagellation.
Dean picked up the chair a few inches and put it down with a resounding thud. “I swear to God, I’m gonna friggin’ kill Chuck.”
Dean was also the only person Lisa knew of who would swear to God to kill, well, God. He was also the only person who would actually mean it.
“No, Dad, I’m sorry. Fuck! I should have known better...” Ben exclaimed, “I should have known better. I shouldn’t have told her so much stuff, or I should have been more suspicious...” Ben tugged at his hair, hunching over, elbows to knees, as if trying to make himself as small as possible.
Part of Lisa wanted to scold Ben for swearing. The rest was just… livid. It was times like these Lisa was especially happy she’d gone into yoga and not kickboxing, or something, because while a huge part of her wanted to rage and make this stop, the calmer, more rational part of her mind sought balance, relaxed, slowly, breath by breath. Someone had to stay together enough to get to the bottom of this.
“Ben,” she said, cautiously stepping next to Dean, and wrapping her arms around his waist.
He jumped, muscles twitching beneath her palms, but then he steadied, reaching up and grabbing onto the arm she’d wrapped around his chest.
“Tell us what happened.”
Ben opened his mouth to speak, but hung his head.
“Don’t—” Lisa stopped him, “don’t beat yourself up. Just... start at the beginning.”
Ben blinked, looking up fractionally. He slid his hands down to rest, fists propping up his chin. “I should have known something was up because Cherry was way more interested in my name, than in me. When we first met, one of our professors introduced us, and she just got this weird look on her face, I dunno—like she was freaked out and got some present at the same time. And she went, ‘Benjamin Braeden, what’s yer middle name,’ and I just answered ‘Isaac,’ without even thinking. Her expression got even weirder for a minute, and then she said ‘Benjamin Isaac Braeden, that’s the coolest name ever.’” Ben snorted. “I shoulda known then.” His head bobbed on his fists, and his eyes swept upwards, finally meeting Lisa’s. “She started asking all kinds of questions, where am I from, what are my parent’s names, what do you guys do for a living... I thought she was just really interested in,” he gesticulated wildly, wind-milling his arms and waving them around his body, “me... you know all of me—who I am and where I’m from, and what my family’s like... more than just looks or what car I drive.”
Oh, this was not good. Lisa was going to have to think fast to manage the damage control. In high school, Ben had been, well, a lot like Dean had been at the same age—or at least a lot like Dean was at nineteen when Lisa had first met him: flitting from one hookup to the next, apparently comfortable with the sex, but shying away from any sort of emotional connection or entanglement. Lisa and Dean both had had long talks with Ben after a series of hookups blew up in his face—first someone got attached, someone else didn’t understand Ben’s intentions, and then finally Ben found himself wanting more and getting flat-out rejected. That mess had mostly played out at the end of high school and Ben’s first semester at IUB. He’d had a clingy phase after that, and Cherry was Ben’s first real try at a relationship. Only now it looked like Cherry’s attentions weren’t based on any sort of interest in Ben as a person, but were purely infatuation and fixation on Ben because of his similarity to a character in a book. Of course that character really was Ben, but Cherry knowing that would only make things worse.
As Lisa pondered the dilemma, she felt Dean shift and tense again beside her. She stilled him by pressing her palm more firmly to his chest. “Ben, no, you had every reason to believe she was interested in you. You didn’t do anything wrong. You weren’t foolish or silly...” Lisa reached out with the hand that was currently tucked around Dean’s waist and caught one of Ben’s flailing hands, squeezing it tightly.
Ben didn’t quite meet her eyes, but he did seem to calm down a little bit. “She started asking weird questions. Like, did I have any uncles, but she was only interested on Dad’s side, and did Dad live with us when I was little. I—something seemed weird. Too—off, so I didn’t answer, said it was kind of personal, detailed stuff, and we should get to know each other better first. Then today...” Now Ben did look up. His expression was hollow, haunted, and he stared right at Dean. “Last couple of days she backed off a little. We were at the barbeque at her sorority and she took me up to her room and started babbling something about the dangers of sorority living, about how you never know when your roommate’s gonna accidentally summon the Hookman or something—”
Lisa stole a glance at him. They’d never talked about that particular urban legend, but judging by Dean’s reaction, it was safe to say it must have been something that really happened and wound up in the books... She’d never asked for many details about the Supernatural novels… the ‘Winchester Bible’ as Dean had told her the angels called them. She just knew they were written by a prophet who might have been God himself and there was some mention of her and Ben and the changelings—she shuddered at the thought—in there. For a split second, she almost regretted not having asked for more details. Then she remembered some things were better left in the past.
“—In her room,” Ben continued, “she had the books... I think there were over a hundred, and I didn’t notice at first, but then she started asking if you had any weird scars or tattoos,” Ben looked at Dean, “and I saw her bookshelf, and I tried not to react. I—I don’t know if it worked. She started babbling about how I was exactly like the Ben Braeden in the books, and she took down the last one and showed me the pages where it said you came back to us... She kept on babbling, and I—I was just flipping through the books.” Ben squeezed his eyes shut. “She started coming onto me, talking about how awesome it was that I was real and she couldn’t wait to meet my parents and tell all her friends, and I—I just freaked. I dropped the books, and I ran out of her room, and I got in the car, and then I was here.” He looked at his hands. “Well when I was stuck in traffic trying to get around Indianapolis, I pulled over and looked up a bunch of stuff on the internet… found out how the books got published. It’s… I… She—she knows where I live, where you guys live...”
Dean was vibrating with tension against Lisa’s side. “It, Ben, it’s not your fault. I...”
This was bad, really bad. But then again. It was like a light bulb went on in Lisa’s head. “Stop. Just... stop. All of us let’s take a deep breath.”
Ben and Dean both looked at her skeptically, so she squeezed them both, hard. They still looked doubtful, but at least now they were listening, expectant.
“Ben, you never answered the questions about your dad’s scars or tattoos, or your uncles, right?” she asked.
“No!” Ben shook his head emphatically. “No that was... it’s not stuff we talk about. It was too weird that she was asking.” He shuddered.
Lisa felt Dean relax a tiny bit, so his body was just stiff, and not vibrating with tension.
“I didn’t say anything about Dad not living with us when I was little, either,” Ben realized, his face softening a little.
Lisa nodded. Good boy, she thought, of course she’d have expected nothing less from Ben. “And you didn’t say you were the Ben in the books, right?”
“No,” Ben answered with a confused exasperation that made the unspoken duh come through crystal clear.
Lisa let out a long breath. “Well, I think we’re okay then.” She immediately bit her tongue, realizing how insensitive that sounded to Ben, and added, not that it’s okay she did that Ben, and I’m really sorry someone you really liked, cared about, turned out to be obsessive.” She leaned forward and kissed Ben’s forehead. He was too stunned or confused to give his customary ‘ew, Mom, get off’ protest.
“How is this okay?” Dean asked when she’d turned back to look at him.
Lisa smiled. “How would you react if a friend started insisting you were Batman? And dragged you to their room and started pointing out all the ways you were like him?”
“That’s crazy. Besides, my name’s not Bruce Wayne, and there’s no place called Gotham—” Dean retorted.
“What if there was?” Lisa asked. She stole a glance at Ben, who seemed to be thinking hard, looking a bit less shaky than he had even a minute before.
“What if it was some friend of Batman’s, but sure enough, there was your name and some other stuff that applied to you right in the comic?”
“I’d probably freak out, call the friend names, and run... maybe while chanting an exorcism,” Dean admitted. “I’d wanna know who the publisher or author was, find out what kind of a joke they thou—Oh.” Dean’s answer stopped abruptly.
“What?” Ben asked, clearly confused.
“If someone… some normal, finds out they’re written about in a book as a supposedly fictional character, or if they find out there’s some character that sounds too much like them, but it’s a story? They would probably freak out and then sue the publisher,” Dean explained. His forehead scrunched up. “But how can we get Cherry to back off? She’s… obsessed, it’s not like she’s just going to forget about this because Ben ran out on her. He can’t avoid her forever.”
Lisa knew Ben would try to suggest quitting school or moving to a different state. No way some stupid pulp novels and a rabid fangirl were going to ruin their lives, not if she could help it. “Ben’s going to call her—” Lisa said softly.
“Easy kiddo, we’ll be right there with you,” Lisa soothed. “You’re gonna call her and apologize for running out, but then you’re gonna tell her how shocked and uncomfortable you are to find out she thinks you’re a fictional character in a book. Then you’re going to tell her the truth. You’re hurt because you liked her and thought she liked you for who you are. But now you can see it was all because you’re like some guy in a book.” Lisa paused and met Ben’s eyes; she hated seeing him look so bewildered. She put every ounce of determination and love into her next words. “If that doesn’t shut her up, I’ll get on the phone and tell her she’s crazy, and explain if the characters really have that much in common with us, then I’m planning to sue the publisher, ‘cause clearly someone’s trying to make a profit off of our likeness.”
Ben still looked skeptical. “What about her friends? They’re fans.”
It was Dean’s turn to smile. “I met some fans once,” his eyes unfocused for a moment as he clearly drifted into the pull of a memory. “Aside from the one fan that Chuck told we were real, S-Sam and I actually hunted ghosts with a few other fans at a... convention? When I tried to tell them who I really was,” he shrugged, shaking off the far-away look and focusing on Ben, “they wouldn’t believe me.” Dean turned to Lisa and smiled. “Thanks, babe,” he squeezed her to his side. “I wouldn’t have thought of that. Maybe… I think we’ll be okay.”
Lisa smiled up at him, refraining from kissing Dean in front of Ben who, after all, had just broken up with his first real almost-girlfriend. “Come here,” she tugged Ben towards them until he finally stood and joined her and Dean in a hug.
They stood that way, holding onto each other, being together as a family for a few minutes before Lisa heard Ben sniff. She didn’t have to look to know there were tears in his eyes.
“I’m sorry. Shh, shh… It’ll be okay, I promise. There’re good people out there who’ll like you for who you are,” Lisa murmured.
Dean squeezed her and Ben tighter.
Ben gave a shuddering sigh.
“You’ll see; we’ll all be alright,” she reassured. And deep down, Lisa knew that was true.