Author: Faithunbreakable/ pprfaith
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Unless you don’t know it. Then I do. Possibly.
Warnings: Angsting. You might also feel the need to randomly exclaim, "Oh, Dean." I did.
Prompt: polgara_5, BtVS/SPN, Buffy/Dean, Post season five SPN, Dean gets a sudden reminder of Sam.
It’s been a year.
He says it like that, sometimes out loud. It’s been a year.
But that’s a lie. It hasn’t been a year. It’s been three hundred and fifty one days, seven hours and… he’s made himself stop counting the minutes. It’s better. For his sanity. Sometimes, when he talks to Bobby on the phone, he slips up and says the days. But never the hours, although he’s pretty sure Bobby might know he’s counting them.
Has to. Because at first, there were minutes. He remembers minute one without Sam. It was gaping, black and empty, different from hell only because in hell, he was filled to burst with agony and in Minute One, he felt nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Then Minute Two, and then Three. They turned into an hour and he moved. He remembers that, remembers thinking that this is what a mountain feels like when it has to move. Minutes to hours, hours to days, days to weeks, weeks to months, months to…
It’s not a year yet. It’s been three hundred and fifty one days and seven hours.
He tries to think around the one year mark sometimes, to imagine Life After. He can’t. Because that way lie decades and centuries and shit like that and that just doesn’t fly. He’s thirty-two and has no plans to see forty-two. At all.
So it’s been a year. Just, you know, if anyone asks. A year.
Almost as long since he stood on Lisa’s front porch, broken and bleeding. Not quite that long since he fled into the night, unable (unwilling) to taint her happy, normal life with his fucked-up-ness. Fuck-upped-ness? He’s ask Sam, but Sam is dead.
Sam wanted normal, all his life, he dreamed of normal. Normal has become sacred in Dean’s mind. Lisa’s normal has become sacred. So he ran. Hunted again even though he swore he never would but what else does he have? The inventory of his life is as follows: One car, cherry condition. One body, slightly abused. One mind, a lot abused. One trunk full of weapons, well used. And one brother, dead.
He makes himself think that word a lot. Dead. It feels empty.
It’s been eight months since he met the woman of his dreams. She’s hot, she’s tough as nails and she ganks demons faster and better than he does. They shared a hunt and at the end, she asked him if he wanted to come to Rome with her. Apparently, there was a crisis.
She doesn’t know about Sam. Or Mom or Dad or Jo or Ellen or Castiel (who hasn’t been seen since Minute Twenty-three.) She knows about hell, though. He blurted it out, one day. He doesn’t know why or what for, but he said it. “I was in hell.”
She blinked at him, owlishly, and then asked, “’Was in’ as in, ‘checked it out and then left again’ or…”
He didn’t answer and that was answer enough. She said, “I was in heaven.”
That was the end of that conversation. He’s pretty sure she keeps dragging him with her out of pity, or maybe guilt. Guilt for what he might do if she left him alone. She never asks why he wakes screaming, though, so that’s okay. They’re okay. They fight together and they fuck and sometimes, afterwards, she drapes herself over his chest and listens to his heartbeat.
Reminds him wordlessly that it’s still there.
She’s the real reason he stopped counting minutes. He just wishes… he wishes he could have met her before. He wishes she could have known him when he was still a man, instead of this fucked up human shaped piece of clockwork, counting, counting, counting.
One good thing about this mess though: He got over his fear of flying. Had to, to follow her, and he followed her because she led places he’d never been before. Places that Sam has never seen, never been to, never touched. Virgin places, Sam-wise. They hurt a bit less.
But sometimes it still catches up to him, you know. He doesn’t mean for it to, but it does. Like now. Here. Day three hundred and fifty-one, hour seven, random supermarket in Germany with Buffy standing in the produce section and poking fun at the carrots.
She makes a joke and he snorts, comments on her fixation with all things phallic. It’s nice, this banter, with her. He likes it, likes how she gives back as good as she gets. Sometimes their banter gets sharp, but that’s okay, too.
She rounds on him, carrot brandished threateningly and snaps, “Jerk!”
He freezes. Hands clench, shoulders hunch and round, face scrunches up, muscles tighten. His brain goes boo-bye and his heart rate speeds up and he hates himself, okay? He hates himself for being such a fucking pussy, for being so broken, so screwed up, for showing it to the world, to her, to Buffy, who’s somehow still mostly in one piece despite having had a shitty life. He hates it. Himself. The world. This world, without Sam. Hates it.
And he pretends he’s dealing, pretends counting the days and hours helps but all it is is him, stumbling into infinity without his crutch, his anchor, his center. Without Sam.
Without… just without.
“Dean?” her voice is soft and sweet and caring and she doesn’t deserve to be with a guy who has random breakdown in supermarkets. Because of carrots. “You okay?”
He wants to laugh. Really, he does, but it doesn’t work, somehow.
She does it for him, a bit breathy, a bit self-depreciating. “Of course you’re not. Wanna get out of here?”
She doesn’t wait for his answer, just abandons their cart and wraps both her tiny hands around his fist, steering him out of the place. Fresh air. He breathes and tries to make his muscles relax. They obey. A bit. She lets go of his hand, walks a few steps away. Giving him room.
He thinks he might love her, for that, if nothing else.
They stay like that for a long time. Until his fingers uncurl and his shoulder un-hunch. He breathes, throws her a grin he knows she doesn’t buy and automatically checks his watch.
Huh. Three hundred and fifty one days and eight hours.
Look at that.