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An Echo (fanfic)

Title: An Echo
Fandom: Supernatural
Characters: Dean Winchester, Sam Winchester (sort of)
Pairings: none
Rating: PG-13 (for a little bit of language and some dark imagery)
Word Count: 1006
Warnings: Fairly dark fic, vague religious themes
A/N:
 Futurefic, so vague or potential spoilers for all episodes aired thus far; lots of speculation about where this season might be headed. Thank you to emerald_angel for some early suggestions, thanks to Carlos (who doesn't have an LJ account) for the beta, and to pixie9696for help with the summary and encouragement to post; will be cross-posted to dean_sam and sn_fic.
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: The war is lost, hell has Dean, so what remains?


He remembers something vague from one of Pastor Jim’s sermons about how the punishment of hell wasn’t fire and brimstone and torture and pain, but the separation from God. 
Of being forever shut away from the simple kindness, the one thing that everyone should want. Dean has never had much faith in God, but he did have faith in Sam, still does, in spite of everything. And he thinks that maybe that’s what hell is all about, at least for him; it’s being kept away from Sam and knowing that he will never, ever, possibly see him again. That complete and utter loss of hope. The feeling of failure as a human being, a brother, a protector, but beyond that, the sense of betrayal of the most basic truth of what it means, meant to be Dean Winchester. The separation, the distance, the annihilation of the part of Dean that was Sam and the loss of the man that Sam was.
 
***
 
But sometimes, hell is pain and suffering of the physical kind. Fire laps at his skin, tendrils of blue and red and yellow flames entwine around his limbs, creeping ever upwards until he is completely engulfed. His hair should be singed, his skin should be charred and black and falling away, and he can even smell it, the rancid, stifling aroma of burning hair and skin and fat and flesh is in his nostrils, choking him, haunting him, making him gag. Dean’s stomach wants to wretch in protest, but somehow hell won’t let it. Just like he can see his skin is still whole and fine and unmarked, even when he should be pile of ash and bone on the rough earthen floor. The flames are but an echo here… amplified and repeating but insubstantial, unreal. Yet it doesn’t matter, because echo or not, real or not, ashes on the floor or standing here whole, every second he feels those flames is an eternity. Then again, for all he knows an eternity might be only seconds. There’s no sense of time or space or continuity in hell.
 
***
 
Sometimes, Dean is alone, which is often, considering that most of hell’s former residents have fled to earth—it’s only him and the other rejects, the lowest of the low, the worst of the worst, the uncontrollable and the embarrassing, and the insurance policies—Dean realizes that hell is being forgotten. It could be seconds or months or decades or millennia that pass by in those times, and Dean would never know. And at those times, it’s silent. Still. Tasteless. Odorless. The bleak and barren visual of an endless and empty landscape and the occasional sensation as his bare feet tread along the earthen floor or his hands trail along the sticky-sharp, bloody walls of bone, the only sensations that keep it from being complete sensory deprivation. He almost forgets what sound sounds like. There is no one here to make a noise. No direction, no breeze. Sometimes Dean remembers that he should be able to make sounds, to speak, but when he tries, there is nothing. Somewhere in Dean’s mind, a voice from his past muses that with a space this cavernous there should be an echo. But there is none. And hell is the loneliness of not knowing if anyone or anything even remembers you exist or existed. Even hell has forgotten him.
 
***
 
But sometimes, sometimes, Dean is not alone. Sometimes he comes to Dean. Hesitant, fragile, small, and young. Brown hair and hazel eyes bigger than the cavern of hell itself. He is young and gentle. His skin is warm, and when he hugs Dean, the chill that has settled at the core of Dean’s soul begins to lift. It’s not hot like fire; it’s the kind of warm that feels good and right and everything about life and love and family that Dean lost when arrived here. He looks like Sam did about the time he finally found out what Dad really did when he was gone all the time, maybe eight years old, and he turns to Dean with complete faith and trust in his eyes. This Sam is whole and good, not twisted and evil, inhuman and corrupted like the Sam that roams and rules hell’s kingdom on earth. Sometimes Dean sees him. Sometimes Dean thinks he can touch him. And then, one day, he speaks to Dean…
 
“I love you,” he whispers. “You’ll take care of me and protect me from the monsters that are real.” Sam nestles his tearful cheek against his big brother’s shoulder, allowing himself to be held. And Dean remembers what it’s like to be loved.
 
“Of course I will,” Dean finds himself whispering, and he his voice makes noise. “I’ll always take care of you, Sammy.” In his mind, he’s wondering, what are you? Fear for a moment making him believe this may be a new form of torture hell has thrown at him, maybe, maybe the evil that Sam has become has remembered Dean and thinks this is a fun way to fuck with him; keeping up appearances for one of hell’s last residents.
 
“Don’t think that,” Sam says against Dean’s shoulder as if reading his brother’s mind. He pushes himself back and looks deep into Dean’s eyes, showing his truth to Dean’s soul. And Dean feels the truth, and the warmth washes over him again, the first relief he’s felt in what might be centuries. “I’m an echo. A memory. I believe in you, and you still believe in me. I won’t leave you.”
 
And he doesn’t. Sam’s echo stays with Dean, and Dean realizes that maybe hell isn’t about pain or lost faith in someone else. It isn’t about isolation or torture or silence or being forgotten. Hell is losing faith in yourself. And maybe with this Sam by his side, Dean can believe in himself again, becoming Dean instead of a lost echo, and maybe… hell will lose its power and Sam… 
 
“You can still save me,” Sam whispers.

Comments

( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
calijirl5150
Nov. 14th, 2007 05:23 pm (UTC)
Oh the last line - this must continue. I enjoy the style of writing very much.
paleogymnast
Nov. 14th, 2007 06:06 pm (UTC)
Well my beta suggested that perhaps a continuation would be in order, so it is definitely on a possibility! :)
katriel1987
Nov. 14th, 2007 06:10 pm (UTC)
Oh yes! Please do continue. You've painted an incredible word-picture of what hell is like for Dean. Now I'd love to read the part where he tries to save Sam.
paleogymnast
Nov. 15th, 2007 05:43 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for the suggestion and your comments!! I will try to continue this (since everyone seems to think that's a great idea)... now I just have to figure out where t go with it. :D

I'm very glad that the visual of Dean's hell came across so clearly.
lovetheguys
Nov. 14th, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, this makes me tear up, seriously. So well written. I want Dean to believe in himself, for hell to lose its power over him, for him to be able to save Sam. Brilliant! Love, Robin
paleogymnast
Nov. 14th, 2007 09:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you for reading and commenting!! That's what I want Dean to do too!! (Of course, belief in himself is kind of the one thing he's always had trouble with... he's always thought he was lesser, unworthy, etc., so that's going to be a challenge for him.) I'm glad you liked it!
labseraph
Nov. 14th, 2007 11:08 pm (UTC)
Man, this is so evocative that one could feel what hell was like for Dean. The last line?

Slew me.

*is ded*
paleogymnast
Nov. 15th, 2007 02:36 am (UTC)
I'm very glad you liked it and found it evocative! :) I love the last line too!! :D Thank you for reading and commenting!
pixie9696
Nov. 15th, 2007 03:57 am (UTC)
yup.. agree with the person who said, i like the style of writing.. and agree with the next person who requested for a sequence.. :)
paleogymnast
Nov. 15th, 2007 04:24 am (UTC)
Yay!! Pixie!! You commented!! :D *faints* Thank you so much!! I know you've already read it, but it means so much to me for you to come on here and read it!! Ok, Ok, I will definitely consider continuing this story!! *holds up hands in surrender*
skybound2
Nov. 15th, 2007 05:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow. Just, just wow. That last line is killer. So much emotion throughout this whole piece, and it's all tied together very nicely with that thin sliver of hope. Excellent job.
paleogymnast
Nov. 15th, 2007 06:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm very glad you likd it. :)
iamstealthyone
Nov. 16th, 2007 02:01 am (UTC)
Oh, boys.

Poor Dean, suffering so very much, and poor Sam who’s fate doesn’t sound a whole lot better.

Favorite lines:

his hands trail along the sticky-sharp, bloody walls of bone

Eew! Creepy but good description.

And hell is the loneliness of not knowing if anyone or anything even remembers you exist or existed. Even hell has forgotten him.

Oh, Dean.

“You can still save me,” Sam whispers.

I really like this ending. It’s a little eerie and a little hopeful at the same time.
paleogymnast
Nov. 16th, 2007 08:18 am (UTC)
Oh wow!! Thank you for commenting!! I'm so in awe!! I'm a huge fan and you just commented on my fic!! WOW!!

For the record, it's supposed to be creepy and icky and painful. But I'm right with you in thinking "oh Dean!!"

Eerie and hopefull is exatly what I was going for!!

Edited at 2007-11-16 08:19 am (UTC)
(no subject) - iamstealthyone - Nov. 16th, 2007 07:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
ewanspotter
Nov. 17th, 2007 08:52 am (UTC)
Wow. Some powerful, haunting stuff here. Much love!
paleogymnast
Nov. 19th, 2007 08:17 am (UTC)
Thank you very much. I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)
downbythebay_4
Nov. 18th, 2007 01:58 am (UTC)
Like hope jumping right out of Pandora's box...now that is Hell.
paleogymnast
Nov. 19th, 2007 08:17 am (UTC)
Ah, but see, at the end of the fic, there's hope again... something Dean hasn't had in a long time. :)
(no subject) - downbythebay_4 - Nov. 20th, 2007 10:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paleogymnast - Nov. 20th, 2007 11:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
julsus
Nov. 18th, 2007 04:52 am (UTC)
Paley! Stop impressing me will ya! Oh wait a minute...I mean never stop!!!

I was like there with Dean...that's how well you painted the picture of his hell.

And I could feel his pain in my own heart...that's how your fic touches me.

"You can still save me,” Sam whispers...please continue with this...I need my heart broken just a little bit more.

- Suze

xxx
paleogymnast
Nov. 19th, 2007 08:19 am (UTC)
Ok, ok, I wil really, really try to continue this story... although, it may not be for a few weeks until I can get finals out of the way. :D

Thanks for reading, Suze! I'm glad that I impressed you! *blushes*
irish_twilight3
Nov. 19th, 2007 03:14 am (UTC)
wow. just wow. awesome interpreatation of hell. the description is perfect. i love it so much!
paleogymnast
Nov. 19th, 2007 08:20 am (UTC)
I'm very gladyou liked it! We've heard a lot of "hell is bad, really, indescribably bad" from Meg and other characters on "Supernatural," but I figured, why not try to describe what it's like? Afer all, wouldn't it make sense for the experience to be a bit personalized? I think we have a sense of what would drive Dean mad/torture him the most, so I jus ran with it, and this is the result. :)
engel82
Nov. 21st, 2007 01:48 am (UTC)
I absolutly love your description of Hell!!
I know you've been waiting for me to comment, but I am at lost for words.

It's torturing, desperate and yet there's hope.

You can still save me, that totally break my heart.

You know better than anyone how to break Dean and how to make him stronger.

This was a great fic. Keep breaking him Mrs Kripke.
paleogymnast
Nov. 21st, 2007 05:00 am (UTC)
Aw, engel, I'm so happy you finally had time to read it! I loved writing this and I'm really glad that you enjoyed reading it too. I greatly enjoy braking Dean (although, I really want him to end up unbroken and not dead, but hey, I an have fun in the mean time), and positively *squish* at the Kripke comparison!! *blushes* So, do you think I should write more of this??
(no subject) - engel82 - Nov. 21st, 2007 05:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paleogymnast - Nov. 21st, 2007 05:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - engel82 - Nov. 21st, 2007 06:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paleogymnast - Nov. 21st, 2007 06:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - engel82 - Nov. 21st, 2007 06:28 am (UTC) - Expand
shadow_of_doubt
Nov. 21st, 2007 04:29 pm (UTC)
Oh gosh! This is so beautifully sad and that last line absolutely tore me into pieces.
paleogymnast
Nov. 21st, 2007 06:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading and commenting! I'm very glad that you liked it, especially the last line. :)
a_phoenixdragon
Jan. 6th, 2008 12:20 pm (UTC)
Ohhh...

*Swallows thinkcly, blinking back tears...*

Wow, sweetheart...just...wow..

*hugs you tightly*
paleogymnast
Jan. 7th, 2008 07:47 am (UTC)
Thank you!! I'm so glad you liked it. I do have more planned for the same storyline/verse as this one, but it's taking time. I'd hoped to do more writing over my break from law school, but got busy with betaing and other tasks. Thanks so much for stopping by my journal and reading!
(no subject) - a_phoenixdragon - Jan. 7th, 2008 07:58 am (UTC) - Expand
anangelsdeath15
Jul. 7th, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
That's it?!?!?! Ahhh, come on! You're evil! There's got to be more to it then that. I want to know what happens next! Continue!
paleogymnast
Jul. 7th, 2008 09:33 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, now THIS verse I have every intention of writing more of... I just have to find the time, which is not, not an easy thing. But yes, I do intend to follow up. Sorry if the ending was too tortuous for you!! :D Thanks for reading!!
( 39 comments — Leave a comment )

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