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There have been a couple of years during your life that felt blissfully free.

Now you barely remember how it was like.

(They were the years from 2010 to 2011; years during which your grace steadily and sort of slowly fadedfadedfaded, but in those years Dean had still been Dean and you had known all the joys and pleasures and perks of that thing called free will. Since 2012, you have only known the downsides, but right now you don’t really even care anymore.)

During those couple of years, you had felt like yourself even while being constantly diminished with every passing day; during those couple of years, the angel in you ebbed away, but, as Dean used to say, it left you with a personality.

(Finding out you did have one had been mostly pleasurable. Finding out that at one point you didn’t like it anymore hadn’t.)

Sometimes, these days, when you’ve had enough to drink in order to make you feel positively warm but not enough to get wasted, you’re particularly honest with yourself. These times are the ones when you think that you have been a marionette for all of your immortal existence except those two years. First, it was Heaven (and not your Father, and not having been able to find Him still hurts sometimes; only looking at Dean hurts worse, and you have learned to ignore how much) moving your strings, now your addictions do. All of them; it’s not like you count anymore. It doesn’t really matter. Strangely enough, sex isn’t one of them. Sex is good, sex is even great because it’s as good as anything to forget, but the point is that you know the difference between meaningless sex and meaningful sex, and the reason you have other addictions is that you realized way too soon that you couldn’t deal with making the comparison.

(For those two years, you really had felt like yourself.)

Now, it’s like before. It really is. After all, Dean was right when he had accused you of not being able to think on your own, years ago; the only difference, as stated, is that now Heaven doesn’t move your strings anymore. You purposely try to drown in a fog, or maybe haze would be a better word, exactly because it feels the same and if you’re too sober then you’ll think about it and you really doesn’t want to.

The fact that Dean mostly ignores it, and you, these days, doesn’t even hurt too much anymore. It used to, it used to; after all, your fling with free will had started the day Dean Winchester showed you that you could have it and it just makes sense that when Dean wasn’t Dean anymore, or that when Dean didn’t really care anymore, you just couldn’t care less about it either. You’re perfectly aware that you really aren’t in control of your own actions anymore, but that’s how you were born and how you lived for an eternity before you fell, so really. Not being in control is just fantastic, and having a clear head is overrated. By a fucking long shot. Anyway, to a degree, it still does hurt. That Dean ignores. You usually suck it up and ignore him back.

As it is in front of everyone’s eyes, it works just wonderfully. And yes, that was sarcasm. You did develop a sense of humor, too, even if you don’t think it’s particularly brilliant.

Most times, when you’re drunker than usual, you look at yourself and think that fuck, if you’re a marionette, your threads? Your threads are just damn messy. You imagine yourself the way you were back then, when you were a good little soldier who just didn’t know better, and you imagine your threads being neat and separated and held up from above; now you imagine them on the ground, in a knot that can’t be sorted out, and they’re heavy and they drag you down as you drag them with you.

That’s when you usually go straight for amphetamines. Or for the strongest thing you have on hand which isn’t alcohol. Alcohol usually makes you more miserable.

Sometimes you wonder what would happen to Dean if you were gone. He probably wouldn’t have someone to ignore him anymore, and thinking that this would be the only consequence still hurts a little, considering that you think that if Dean was gone and you were the one remaining alive, you couldn’t function.

(It’s not like you’re functioning now, but you’re coping at least; if he was gone, you wouldn’t even bother with that.)

That’s what’s pathetic. What’s pathetic is that Dean used to be the most beautiful sight your eyes ever had the honour to witness (he was blasphemous, insufferable, prone to anger, distrusting, strong even when in pieces, selfless, strong, beautiful, and his soul shone so hard that you were constantly, constantly amazed at him) and now, well, now he sort of still is, but it’s damaged beauty. Irrevocably damaged, from the second Sam said yes, but still so beautiful that what’s left of the heart you built inside yourself just because of Dean bleeds and clenches in pain. Sometimes you wish that Dean, just for a minute, would talk to you like he used to, look at you like he used to, be your friend like he used to.

Not going to happen, you know. Delusional, too, and that’s usually the point when Valium sounds like a great damn option.

It’s no mystery that these days, you are mostly intoxicated.

You’re intoxicated with anything; with things you shouldn’t have drunk, with pills you shouldn’t have taken, once in a while with white, soft powder that gets shot straight inside your arm, with some sad songs you remember Dean playing on the car during those two years (when you’re high, you remember pretty much all the words of whichever randomly shows up in your head; one, which Dean liked better when it was in what he called ‘a serious psychedelic arrangement’, said then take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind, down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves,the haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach, far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow, and you wish you had someone you could ask such a thing to; no luck on that front, though). You’re still intoxicated with the Dean that was and whose loss you still haven’t apparently dealt with and whom you can’t bring yourself to grieve because otherwise, why would you be doing this? And what’s more pathetic and delusional is that every fucking day you forgive him. You forgive him for not giving a damn, you forgive him for having lost himself, you forgive him for everything and still, Dean wouldn’t even care if he knew.

You sometimes wonder if you’re the only person still doing that. After all, forgiving Dean is everything you have done since you pulled him from hell; you forgave him for his ten years off the rack the second you gripped him tight, you forgave him his mistrust, you forgave him for turning his back on you the day after Detroit, but then again you think that you’re the only person still living on this planet who has really known Dean inside out. (Not counting Chuck, but that’s another kind of problem.)

You know that Dean feels guilty. For not having said yes to Sam that day in 2009 when Sam called, mainly, but well, breaking the first seal and not stopping the apocalypse and all the deaths they have endured and all the rest that Dean always felt guilty for. Sincerely, you can’t exactly blame him if he completely shut his humanity off. After all, you’re coping shutting everything off and who cares about the rest; if Dean copes like that, it’s his fucking right.

It doesn’t mean that you have to like it, but you have learned to keep your opinions to yourself. Also because Dean knows your opinions just fucking fine and he has already showed that he really doesn’t care about them, so why bothering? You envy him sometimes. It seems like Dean has just shut off feeling altogether; you long for a time when feelings just weren’t for you. Numbing them is the next best thing so whatever, you’ll just take what you get and fuck all the rest. Sometimes you think you should feel surprised by how much your language became similar to Dean’s, but you try not to dwell too much on it. It’s life. It’s humanity. It crept up on you and took you sort of by surprise even if not really and while sometimes you wish that someone, anyone, would help you cope, no one does.

And so it’s sex, drugs and rock n’ roll even if the latter lacks since the Impala was left to rot.

It’s 2014 and there’s not much time left. You just feel it in your bones, under your skin, through the muscles of a body that before was restraining because it felt too small for your grace and now feels too small for your need to taketaketake (sometimes you wonder how long it’s going to hold on. Considering that you don’t eat much, that you drink alcohol and water in a 30% to 70% percentage and that everything else that passes through your mouth isn’t too healthy, you don’t know whether it will hold on long. Not that you care much); this won’t last much longer. You wonder who’ll go first, even if you bet on yourself; you haven’t fired a shot since you broke your foot and there’s just no way you’ll survive a mission, should you go on one. Not that you care, as stated.

Or well, you do, but living is what it is and from what you remember, dying wasn’t that bad in comparison. It was nothing. It was oblivion. You think you’d like it.

But now you’re human, and immortality is a dream long gone, so it wouldn’t even be oblivion. And it can’t be Heaven because you know you won’t ever set foot there again, so it’ll probably be downstairs and you doubt that you’ll be able to fight your way out, if it happens.

Right, maybe staying alive a while longer wouldn’t hurt. You don’t want to hear news about the end of the world, these days. Your days of masochism are over, and you’ll just take what you can and just not care. After all, if Dean doesn’t give a damn, you’re allowed not to give a damn, too.

You wish he still did. You might be the only one who remembers how Dean was once, but you still do remember him and no drug can make you forget; he used to laugh at the way you just didn’t get humanity when you still had your grace (at the way you couldn’t lie, or at the way you’d freak out in the presence of hookers, and look at you now; lying is an art you have mastered well enough and you could teach that Chastity a thing or two), he used to say he had fun with you, he used to consider you more than a friend, he used to think of you as an equal.

Well, he still thinks of you as an equal, more or less; if only because if you throw his bullshit back at him he won’t say zilch and you’re the only one who is allowed the dubious privilege. Which is still a privilege, so you won’t complain about it.

He used to care about you in a way no one else ever had; you might regret a lot of things, but thinking that sex with Dean Winchester was the closest to God you ever came in your existence is something you won’t take back.

(He kissed you for the first time in some hole named Paris, and then cracked a joke about it being the biggest chick-flick ever, and then, not getting it, you had tilted your head, you still did that back then, and he had blathered about the real Paris being the city of love and all that crap, and then you had kissed him again and melting against him is still one of your fondest memories.)

Right, you have never exactly told anyone, but you get the point. Those were good times. Those were times when Dean still thought he could let himself be happy if only for a while and wanted the people he loved to be happy, too, those were times when you’d share a bed and you would let Dean do anything he wanted to you because it felt amazing, it felt incredible, it felt like it could fill the void that your grace was creating inside you, and for a while it did. It was sheer pleasure for the both of you, it was like you both were pieces of a puzzle made to fit, it made you understand what beauty free will is because choosing to have something such as that felt like the greatest gift of all; Dean was the only one for you and you were the only one for him, and he’d make love to you slowly, carefully, thoroughly, saying that it was the least you deserved, and when he said it you came close to believing him more often than not. He used to listen to you, back then. The only times he didn’t where the ones when you said he should have called Sam, but he always refused and you were right and that’s where we are.

You can’t fault him, though; you know that thirty years are a lot for a human, and when one finds his freedom at that age, then, well, he tries to keep it. You know even too well. You found yours after millennia. You can relate.

Still, he left you bit by bit; first slow became rough, then love became sex, then Dean picked up a scalpel and got inside a room where a demon with precious information was and that was when you went to Chuck, asked him for a bottle of tequila and got utterly and irremediably wasted.

You never shared a bed with the same person for more than two days after that, and you know that Dean hasn’t either, but you also know that it’s over. He has renounced humanity and you embraced it in all of its filth, and while you try not to let yourself feel, you still do and you hope that he does too. Because if you have to suffer watching the Dean you loved, that you somehow still love and will probably love in the future regardless of anything, die and fade away one day after the other, then you want him to suffer, too. It’s unfair that you do and that he seems not to.

He dies continuously, a different death each day, and each single one of them worries you these days, because one day it will be just his face left and nothing of him, and you never want to see that day, but it draws closer and the only thing you can do is drowning your sorrows in absinthe. Which, comparing to what you could do before, is fucking nothing.

What worries you most, is payback. If there’s a concept you became familiar with lately, that concept is karma, and you have this idea that someday you’ll both get in return everything you’ve given in this life multiplied for one hundred, and while your payback will be a bitch because you’ve been everything but an example to follow, Dean has been doing worse than you ever could and while five years ago you would have been quick to assure him that, should he die, Heaven would be the place his soul would go, right now? Right now, you couldn’t swear on it, and if what you give is what you get then Dean will be rewarded with a round two downstairs and no one, least of all you, will take the effort to pull him out.

That’s probably what hurts you most; if there’s a place you wish Dean could never see again, that place is downstairs, but this? This is out of your league now, and the scariest thing is that while five years ago Dean would have done anything not to go back there, now he just doesn’t care.

It’s just fitting that Dean’s humanity died with Sam and that yours, without Dean’s, just started to go all over the place. And you still can’t help perching on your fearless leader’s shoulders, you can’t helping coming every time he calls, you can’t help deluding yourself into thinking that your presence is somehow preserving the last of the Dean you knew and that if you were gone then he’d be gone, too.

It’s a delusion. You know it is. You aren’t that important. Maybe you were, but you aren’t anymore. That heart that wasn’t there before you pulled Dean out of Hell and that stopped beating the day he slammed his door in your face and left you to get smashed first, stoned later and with Chuck sort of picking up the pieces in the end, is still now, or you try to keep it still because that’s your way of coping, and the worst thing is that while Dean has parted with his own years ago, you can’t bear to do the same thing. You know you’re foolishly waiting for a spark in Dean’s eyes that might set it back in motion and that might bring him back to you, but you aren’t that stupid to believe that it will actually happen.

After all, you were that stupid to believe, in order, that the Apocalypse could be avoided, that your orders were just, that you and Dean would have been in love forever because that felt too good not to be fate, that everyone would come out of the story with a reward, that your Father was somewhere to be found and that you could find Him.

You think you have learned your lesson, by now.

Some days he stares at you like he might knock on your door that same night, and you wish he would because at least you’d have something of those two years back, but he never did and you think that maybe he doesn’t want anything of those two years back.

Oh, and one day, you also were that stupid to believe that you could be enough to make him happy.

You weren’t and you never will be.

Your jeans are ripped and Dean’s aren’t, these days; he wears practical flannels and you stick with what Dean calls fucking hippie crap because it’s comfortable and he doesn’t like it; you’ll never be what you were once, the both of you, and when your mind wanders there, that’s when you usually go searching for a warm body, the first you can find, and if no one gets why you need one, you don’t care. Usually, they don’t either.

The thing which is really the worst is that with Bobby dead, Dean gone and Chuck not being enough, more times than less you feel so alone that it physically aches; you have never been alone for most of your existence and now you can’t drink enough or fuck enough or be high enough to forget it even for a second. That void that your family and your grace left in you when they went away, Dean could have filled and might still fill if he only still was himself, but there’s no other option which is good enough. And that’s why you’ll never stop. It will always be more, and more, and more, until you really can’t take it.

The most pathetic thing of all, though, is that if you think about those two years, about the way Dean’s fingers felt on your skin, about how great coffee tasted for the first time (now you don’t even drink it anymore; it tastes like water), about how fascinating feeling was, about how strange it was to actually be aware of your clothes against your body, about how free and happy you were when you finally were able to think for yourself and about how great it was not to have strings but to move on your own, for those meagre two years which are nothing in the whole of your existence, you know you would do it all over again without hesitating for a second.

At least, you think as you stand up and swallow a small capsule that will assure you a dreamless sleep, casting a glance at some girl whose name you can’t recall and whose body should warm your bed but just makes it chillier, you’ll always have Paris if you choose to think about it.

You’d almost congratulate yourself at your own sense of humor and too-lately acquired pop culture which is another one of the things that Dean left behind in you; once he’d have said he was proud of you growing one, now he never laughs. You did it too late. Like you rescued him from Hell too late, or didn’t stop that session with Alastair until it was too late, or brought him out of the green room too late.

It figures, you think stepping outside. The bare sight of the bed is too much, right now. You light a joint, take a drag, feel your muscles slightly relax and then Dean passes in front of you, going to his cabin. You inhale, feeling the smoke getting down all the way to your lungs, and he looks at you for a split second, the lines on his face hard and his eyes as cold as they always are.

“It’s tomorrow,” he says, and you nod because after five years you do have an idea of what he’s up to, even if he doesn’t always tell you. You hope for him he does find that Colt. You really do.

“Good luck,” you answer, taking a second drag. “And come back in one piece. You might be fearless, but…”

“Cut that crap, Cas. If you don’t have anything useful to say, shut it.”

You’re really not in the mood for this. You take a third drag, then shrug. “As Your Fearless Highness pleases. Fancy a smoke?”

“Hell no,” Dean answers without even looking at you and then starts walking again. Then he turns back towards you. “And tomorrow, try to stand on your feet.”

Then he’s gone and you sigh and take the last drag. Point is, you probably will stand on your feet tomorrow regardless of anything. Or you will try, at least.

It always was someone else. Heaven, your addictions, or Dean; it never really was yourself, if not for those two years, maybe, and as you drop the joint on the ground and crush it under your heel before getting back inside your cabin, you wonder if as his heart beats, it bleeds the same way as yours is bleeding now.

It’s only fitting that you’ll never know.

end.

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