This little piece is the first bit of S/D that I wrote. I’ve fought it for awhile, fought its desire to stand alone rather than be part of something more. And now it’s won. I haven’t posted it on any archive site, as it’s slashy only in shades, in inference, in nuance, maybe. That said: it deserves some room to breathe out here on the internets. So here you are. Comments, tomatoes, suggestions are always welcome.
The Worst Has Happened
Dean dreams about plane crashes.
He’s never on the plane himself. He’s always out behind their house in Lawrence under the swing set, or in Bobby’s front yard, or tucked behind the wheel of the Impala, someplace familiar and safe, when he sees the plane come low: way too low, he always thinks with a start, the whine of the engines like a sudden fist in his side. He squints up into the sun and watches that big heavy bird wobble and scream her way to earth, and in that moment before she hits, he knows: this is it. She’s going to crash.
This is always the longest moment in the dream—it stretches out in front of him and he chokes on a sense of doom, on the awful knowledge that disaster will happen—is happening— and there’s nothing he can do to stop it. And he’s terrified.
He’s been waiting for this moment his whole life.
But once she hits the ground, his fear disappears in a sweet rush of relief. The worst has happened, his dream-self breathes, feeling the smoke rattle in his lungs. Now all he has to do is live through it.
In his dream, the plane smashes into the grass and breaks apart in front of him. It shatters just out of his reach, spilling fuel and flame and noise, this terrible maelstrom of steel and seats and spent energy. But no people. There are never any people on the plane; no screams, no smell of burning flesh. There’s no body—no survivors to rescue, or corpses to bury: nothing.
In his dream, he marches towards the plane’s shattered frame, debris drifting around him, the paint curling from the heat, the sun hot and heavy in his eyes. He moves with some purpose he can’t name and doesn’t think to question, and it feels good: the grass burning beneath his boots, the roar of the dead engines cooling as he moves past them. By this point, he’s always alone: sometimes there are other people around when the plane first appears, but now they’re all gone and it’s just him and the fuselage, his hands and the melting metal, his mouth and the bitter taste of jet fuel on his tongue.
In his dream, his walk towards the crash never ends; he keeps moving forward, making what feels like steady progress, but the plane always slides out of reach, somehow. But he keeps walking, undeterred, keeps reaching for the burning shell: his sense of certainty, of mission, of purpose, of need is as fixed and firm as the ground beneath him, even as sleep retreats and he drifts up and out of the dream, watching the flames fade, feeling the bed catch him as he wakes.
He sits up, blinking heavily in the darkness, still swimming in the reassurance the dream leaves in its wake. He used to think it was his brain reminding him of the random shit that most people—normal people—are afraid of, having written off ghosts and demons and werewolves as fiction, bad movie stuff, cheap thrills or whatever. Some part of his brain, somewhere, is still normal like that: scared of crap he can’t control or see coming or ward off with a shotgun. He clings to this ordinary fear, catches it in his teeth whenever they pass an airport or when he hears a jet whine overhead.
But now? These last few times, he’s welcomed the dream, grown impatient for the plane to just fucking crash already so he can do what he needs to do, so he can feel that sense of certainty push through his veins.
Dean settles back on the pillow and listens to Sam snore, watches the light from the parking lot mess with the TV screen, feels the Impala waiting patiently just outside the door.
After a while, he turns his head towards the window, towards the other bed, towards Sam. In the gloom, he can see Sam’s back rising and falling, hear his lungs filling and sinking. In Dean’s mind, a dozen little Sammies are crowded on that bed together, limbs tangled, cheeks flushed, hair always a goddamn mess: a dozen little Sammies who jostle for space in his memories and tumble out into the night, lured by Sam’s deep, easy breaths and the low, comfortable hum of the highway. His Sammy, who is five and 16 and 12 and a baby all at once, a collage of bodies and voices and wearied expressions that collide in the Sam whose fingers graze the floor, whose hair sticks out from under the pillow, who Dean loves too much do either of them any good.
Sam shifts, snuffling to himself as he rolls over. He tucks on his side, his rumpled face turned towards Dean. Dean holds his breath for a moment until he hears Sam’s soft snore, until he sees his legs twitch, just once, until he knows that Sam is still asleep.
Dean closes his eyes, scattering the phantom Sammies, pushing them back into their own beds in a hundred crummy motel rooms, tugging the blankets up, and telling them all to follow Sam’s lead, to go the fuck to sleep, and maybe—yes, maybe—he’ll let them hold the key to the Impala tomorrow, or have a sip of his beer when Dad’s not looking, or get the first go in Uno or Battleship or whatever. But only if you sleep now, man: close your eyes and relax and yeah, I’ll wake you up when Dad gets home. Now go to sleep already.
Dean grins into the darkness, stretches his fingers out until they brush Sam’s arm.
“‘Swah?” Sam manages, his mouth moving out of sync, his eyes fused shut.
“Shut up and go to sleep, Sammy,” Dean whispers across the room, hearing his voice slide between the years.
“‘Kay,” Sam mumbles, burrowing into his pillow. “Night, Dean.”
“Night, Sammy,” Dean says, pulling his hand back and slipping deeper under the covers.