header image
SPN Fic: The Truth About Lies (Gen, R, Pre-Series, A Very Supernatural Christmas) - Bloodslave for Cookies Page 2
{ Hanging Ten on the Web } JD ~ April 22nd ~ Damn Skippy ~ Geektastic ~ Deep Thinky ~ Jimbo ~ Incoming ~ Gris ~ Call Me Mister Dead ~ The Thoroughfare ~ Middlesville ~ Lit!Soup ~ Miss Snark { Supernaturally Inclined } SPN Central ~ Details, Details ~ Supernatural TV ~ The Official Zone ~ Fanvid-o-rama ~ EllieWorld { Monster Me } Folklore 101 ~ The Bestiary ~ Monstropedia ~ Occultopedia ~ The Monster Mash ~ Quick, I Need a Monster ~ The Monster Library ~ Guns and Knives and Salt, Oh My { My Stacks } Brain Porn ~ Myths While Tokin ~ The Book of Chamuel ~ Speak to the Angels ~ The Words, They Speak to Me ~ Philosophically Speaking ... { Just the Facts, Ma'am } Quote-o-rama! ~ How Does That Work Again? ~ Looking Into the Abyss ~ SciFiMe ~ Words Are Our Friends ~ WikiWiki ~ I Said That! { You Are Here, I Is Lost } Clicky Clicky ~ Linky Linky ~ Comment by Pic ~ IconLove ~ Deadly Wit ~ ThinkGeek ~ SpecFicMe ~ Fringy Fringiness ~ Person of Interest September 2015
 
 
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
 
 
 
Page 2 of 3
[1] [2] [3]
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Dec. 30th, 2007 08:48 pm
SPN Fic: The Truth About Lies (Gen, R, Pre-Series, A Very Supernatural Christmas)

Okay. Every once in a while, you write a story that just feels right the way it is, but that really wants to be more at the same time. Keep Going was a story like that for me. As I posted it, it did exactly what I wanted it to do: It captured the sense of tragedy I see as John's life rather than playing to the more heroic adventure he seems to be on in the show. There's a sense of darkness to the way I see John that doesn't exist in the way I see his boys. As difficult and tragic as their early years may have been, they still have hopes and dreams and lives while John only has them. Within an hour of finishing Keep Going, I started writing a sequel because I couldn't seem to resist following up on the idea that John would tell Dean not only to lie to Sammy about where he was that Christmas, but to tell the specific lie he orders Dean to tell. I had something more to say about that, and I had to get it said even though I really, honestly, didn't expect to ever actually post it. Why? Because the sequel was, by design, a schmoop-fest. Everything that works about Keep Going is tragic. And the sequel I wanted to write softened that tragedy almost to the kind of heroic self-sacrifice that is John on the show. And I didn't want to do that. So I wrote this one for myself, never intending to share it with y'all.

But I'm sharing it. Why? Because I found the tragedy in my schmoop.

As much as I was happy with the way Keep Going played, it kept calling to me that it was only half the story. The before half. And it needed the after half to finish itself in my head. So here is the after half. And as much as the before half is about John receiving what he normally gives, the after half is about him being who his sons will never see him to be. The tragedy of John. I know, it's supposed to be a Christmas story. But Christmas is, by its very definition, the celebration of a man born to a sacrificial, noble, tragic fate. One He can avoid, but chooses not to. Out of love.

So this is the rest of my Christmas story. Hope y'all like it, but don't expect an ending that is anything but tragic. After all, it is about John.

Title: The Truth About Lies
Author: Dodger Winslow
Genre: Gen, Pre-series
Word Count: 8,260
Rating: R for language
Spoilers: A Very Supernatural Christmas
Author's Note: Sequel to Keep Going
Disclaimer: I don't own the boys, I'm just stalking them for a while ...

Summary: "You don’t tell someone a lie that’s harder to believe than the truth is," John said. "You make your lies easier to believe … something they want to believe, even if believing it hurts them. That’s the truth about lies, son: they only work if you tell ones that sound like the truth. And for Sammy, the truth he’s going to hear—the truth he’s going to believe—is that I forgot him, not that I’m trying to protect him."

 

The Truth About Lies

"Son of a bitch, Dean." John closed his eyes, concentrated on suppressing the urge to cry like a little bitch until it passed. When he could breath again well enough to speak, he said, "Watch the ribs, will you, bud? They hurt like hell, and you sticking your elbows in them doesn’t help any."

"Sorry," Dean muttered. He scooted down the couch to give his dad more room.

"I didn’t say move to Nova Scotia," John said. "How ’bout we try something between those two extremes."

"Sorry." Dean moved again, took up a more reasonable middle ground between sitting on opposite ends of the couch and sitting in each other’s lap.

John nodded his approval. "There you go. Moderation in all things, as they say. Works every time."

Dean tried to grin. He looked a little sick instead. "Coming from you, that’s kinda funny."

"Nobody likes a wise-ass, son."

Dean didn’t answer. He was watching John like a hawk … had been watching him like a hawk since the cab dropped him off a little over an hour ago. The stairs from the street to their apartment were hell-on-a-cracker, but the elevator still wasn’t fixed, so he didn’t have much choice but to climb them as best he could. Dean was a lot of help, kept him balanced without bumping into his ribs more than three or four times. It was a good thing they lived on the third floor rather than the seventh, though. He wouldn’t have made the seventh. He wasn’t even sure he would have made the fourth.

"Don’t look at me like that," John said finally. "Makes me nervous."

Dean looked away, looked down at his hands. "Sorry," he said.

John sighed.

Dean winced. He started to apologize again, but caught himself before he spoke, shrugged instead.

"It’s really not that bad, Dean," John told him quietly. "A busted wing and a couple of cracked ribs. I can do that standing on my head."

"Probably how you got the busted wing," Dean said. Then, when John looked a little puzzled, he added, "You not being all that graceful, I mean. Probably shouldn’t be standing on your head."

"Ah." John nodded. "Cute. Very funny. You should be a comedian."

"Your ribs aren’t cracked though," Dean said like he was imparting information rather than calling his old man a liar. "They’re broken, right? And you cracked your skull open, according to the doctors. Thirty six stitches all told, right? And you lost of lot blood, too. Oh, and you almost froze to death. You would have frozen to death if somebody hadn’t finally stopped to pick you up, take you to a hospital." There was an accusation in his eyes. It was subtle, but it was there. "But other than that, it was no big deal."

John sighed again, more heavily this time. "When you put it like that, I suppose it does sound a little more like a medium-sized deal," he conceded.

"You suppose," Dean repeated. The accusation was no longer even trying to be subtle.

"Hey, he was one fugly monster. And big, too. Huge. But if you think I look bad? You should see what I did to him."

"He dead?" Dean asked.

"Of course."

"Then I guess that means you win."

That was more than not being subtle; that was being down-right bitchy. John let it pass, not because he deserved it so much as because he knew Dean thought he deserved it. He licked his lips, tried not to wince as he leaned a little more fully into the couch cushions and said, "Get me a cup of that caffeine you have brewing, will you?"

Dean was up and moving before John finished talking. The mug of coffee he brought back was hot and fresh; John could smell as much. Dean had probably brewed up three pots from the time he called to say they were releasing him to the time those damn doctors finally got around to signing him out and letting him go. Maybe four, if you counted the forty minute cab ride that totaled up to nine bucks more than he had on him.

Driver was a sport. He took one look at John’s generally beat-to-crap condition and the kid tearing down the icy steps of that crap-ass apartment building with no coat, no hat, no nothing but jeans, a tee-shirt and the paint of pure relief in his anxious expression and said, "Don’t worry about it. Merry Christmas, two days late."

Dean gave him the mug carefully, then waited while John downed a couple of grateful gulps so he could retrieve it, set it on an end table so John wouldn’t have to hold it with fingers abraded raw by bark and ice.

"Good service," John noted. He tried not to show how much it hurt when Dean dropped back to the couch in a two bounce landing. He tried not to wince when his not-cracked ribs ground together in a way that would have hurt a hell of a lot more if those slow-ass doctors of his hadn’t doped him up on some pretty heavy-duty drugs before they cut him lose. "You’re gonna get an awesome tip."

"I get a better one if I show a little leg?" Dean asked.

John lifted an eyebrow at him. "Not from me."

"Cheap bastard." Dean grinned a little more effectively this time, looked a little less like he wanted to cry just looking at his old man. He leaned forward a little, pulled something out of his back pocket and shoved it at John. "So, here," he said. It was a package the size of a credit card, wrapped in the comics from the local newspaper. "I couldn’t afford any real paper," he said while John examined it. "Well, I could have, but … you know."

"You weren’t sure how long I’d be gone," John supplied for him.

"Yeah. Something like that."

John flicked him a glance. "You run out of money?"

Dean fidgeted uncomfortably. "I … I probably wasn’t as careful with it as I should have been." Then he added, "Sorry."

"How much were you short?"

"Not short. Just … not long either. Pretty much empty."

John nodded. "I’ll leave you an extra twenty next time."

"You left enough," Dean said quickly. "I just …" he hesitated, then repeated, "probably wasn’t as careful with it as I should have been."

"Ah."

"Not that I wasted it," he added. "I just …" he let his excuse trail off to silence rather than repeating something he’d already said twice.

John lifted the present a little, waggled it just enough to make his point. "You just spent it on somebody else?"

Dean looked at the present, looked away again. "No. It wasn’t that."

John waited.

"I bought some candy," Dean admitted after several seconds of silence. "You know … candy canes, gummy worms, that kind of thing." He sounded shamed when he said it. Sounded like he’d killed somebody instead of just over indulging his little brother’s hella sweet tooth. "Sorry. I didn’t think it would be a problem. Guess I wasn’t looking far enough ahead. Should have planned for the unexpected. Should have kept an emergency buffer instead of wasting it like that."

John studied the present a little longer, turned it over several times between battered, bark-torn fingers. "Candy for Sammy?" he asked.

Dean shrugged again, didn’t take the out he was being offered. "Doesn’t matter. Should have been more responsible about it. Won’t happen again, I promise."

John nodded. He kept his eyes on the comic strip wrapping paper, took note of how carefully it had been used to make sure the right comics were the ones that showed. "Actually, I think I like it better this way anyway," he said finally. He turned the present around, showed Dean what he was looking at. "I’ve always liked that Beetle Bailey guy. Reminds me a little of Jim when he was younger."

The shame in Dean’s expression faded. "That make you Sarge?" he asked.

"Hell no. That would be Deke. They never really drew me in. Didn’t want to give the other guys an inferiority complex would be my guess why."

"Bet you would have looked like Batman," Dean offered, almost grinning now.

"More or less. Batman if he looked a lot like a young Rock Hudson."

"Rock who?"

John chuckled. "A little before your time, I guess," he allowed. "Think Arnold Schwarzenegger, only prettier. And American."

"I like Miss Buxley," Dean said.

"You would. So … I’m supposed to open this then?"

"Or you could just sit there and stare at it," Dean said. He was grinning now, was watching John with a tangible air of anticipation.

Kid always was better at giving than he was at getting. So much like Mary in that way, and in so many others.

"Oh, you’re on a roll today," John said. "We need to book you onto The Tonight Show, stock up on wrapping paper for next year on the back of that wit of yours."

"You could buy a lot of Santa Claus with my wit," Dean quipped.

"Buy a lot of something that has an unobstructed view of reindeer ass all day long at least." John opened the package carefully, couldn’t keep from wincing when he made the mistake of trying to stabilize the damn thing with his broken arm. He wouldn’t let them cast it, knowing the number crunchers would be onto his non-existent insurance coverage by the time the plaster was ready to come off. He made them settle for a soft cast instead, wouldn’t give his okay for anything more than a couple of metal struts wrapped in stretchy, flesh-colored webby shit that was much better suited to stabilizing sprains than it was to supporting a bone some fucking monster tried to wrap around a tree.

"How you going to explain that to Sammy?" Dean asked.

"What?" John asked disingenuously. "My busted wing, you mean?"

"You going to tell him you broke it playing pool?"

John glanced at him. "That’s not a bad idea. Better than mine, at least."

That intrigued Dean. He liked his old man’s lies. Found them funny, most of the time. Hilarious, on occasion. "What were you going to say?" he asked.

"I was thinking about blaming it on some fat, old drunk in a red velvet suit who was driving his sleigh on the wrong side of the roof."

"Wrong side of the roof?" Dean challenged.

"Or wrong side of the road, if you think Sammy’d be more likely to buy that than the roof thing."

"Fewer questions about what you were doing on the roof," Dean pointed out.

"True. Road it is, then."

"He’ll worry about the reindeer," Dean offered.

"I salted and burned the one with the flashing red nose, but other than that, they came out of the whole thing smelling like … well … like reindeer, I suppose."

Dean laughed a little. "What’s reindeer smell like?" he wanted to know.

"A little like wet dog. Only bigger."

"I wouldn’t tell him you salted and burned Rudolph, if I were you," Dean advised. "You’ll ruin Christmas for him forever."

"Who the hell is Rudolph?" John asked like he didn’t already know.

"The one with the flashy red nose."

"Okay," John agreed. "I’ll avoid mentioning that one. Far be it from me to be the one who ruins Christmas for Sammy."

Dean didn’t say anything. His silence made John regret saying it quite the way he had. It was too late to retract it, though, so he just played it off like he didn’t mean it quite as bitterly as he actually had.

"I kind of spilled the beans on the whole Santa thing," Dean said after several seconds of awkward silence. "Told him the fat man wasn’t real."

"Bet he loved hearing that."

"He was okay with it. I think he already knew anyway."

"Probably. He pretty much knows everything these days, so I don’t see why that should be any exception."

He regretted saying that, too, almost before it finished coming out of his mouth. It was true, and he meant it, but it wasn’t necessary, and it made Dean wince like someone had bounced on the cushions in his gut, ground his busted up bones together to a pain that wasn’t covered by doctors with scrip pads.

"Sorry," he said this time. "That wasn’t necessary."

"’T’s okay," Dean said quietly. "I know he comes off that way sometimes."

"Sometimes," John agreed like he didn’t mean ‘all the time’ instead. He’d made pitiful progress on his present. He’d been picking at the tape for some time with limited to no success, still hadn’t managed to get the fucker even partially unwrapped. "Give me a hand with this, will you, son?" he asked.

"Sure." Dean took the present, pulled a pocket knife out of his jeans and slit the tape with casual precision. "I kind of told him what you really do for a living, too," he said with that same casual precision as he handed the present back.

John froze for a moment, then recovered his composure enough to ask, "You did?" He tried not to sound quite as surprised as he was.

"Yeah."

"How’d he take it?"

"Pissed nobody told him before."

John laughed, shook his head. "Figures. Pretty much everything about me pisses that kid off these days." He went back to unwrapping the present. "Thought we agreed not to tell him about that yet though."

"He asked," Dean said.

"He asked if I hunt monsters and dig into dark corners looking for demons to exorcise?"

"Not in so many words, but he asked." Dean gave it a beat, then added, "I told him you were a superhero."

John laughed again. You had to appreciate the kind of counterbalance Dean’s over-appreciation of his dad was to Sammy’s under-appreciation of the same man. "Well as long as you didn’t exaggerate or anything …" He studied the card he’d finally managed to unwrap. It was a Batman trading card with the Batmobile on it.

Speaking of superheroes …

"Nice ride," John said.

"Look on the back," Dean instructed.

John flipped the card over. It was covered with white paper. John read what was printed there and grinned. "Nice," he said. "That include detailing, too?"

"Absolutely. But you’ll have to let me drive her to the car wash down the street if you want the deluxe package."

This time, John laughed hard enough to make his damn ribs ache. "Yeah. Dream on, bud."

"No deluxe package?" Dean asked innocently.

"Nice try, but my girl likes things the old fashioned way … a hose, a bucket and a sponge."

"Wax on," Dean intoned seriously, making the appropriate hand gestures as he quoted a movie they’d watched together at least twice, if not twenty times. "Wax off."

"That’s the ticket."

Dean grinned. "No problem. However she likes it, that’s how I’ll do it. Once a month, for the whole year."

John nodded. "Thank you," he said, setting the card aside. "Very thoughtful."

Dean reached behind his back, pulled another small package from between the couch cushions and handed it over. "This one’s from Sammy."

John accepted the gift, studied it for several seconds then said, "Tell you what: why don’t you and I get something to eat. Order pizza or something if the fridge’s empty. I’ll wait to open this until Sammy’s around. Probably better that way."

"He’d rather you do it now," Dean said.

John looked at him. And waited.

"I’d rather you do it now," Dean revised after several seconds. "And he’s being a punk-ass bitch, so his vote doesn’t count."

John smiled a little. "I appreciate that," he said, setting the package down by his leg anyway. "But I think I’d rather you open yours from me."

Dean gave him a funny look. "You got me a present?" he asked.

"Have I ever not?" John countered.

"I just figured … you know … that with you getting hurt and all, you probably didn’t have a lot of time to go shopping or anything."

"I got my ass wrapped around a tree on Christmas eve, son. Granted, I can be a little negligent when it comes to the details of all this holiday hoopla, but I’m not that damn negligent. What’d you think I was planning to do? Go shopping on Christmas morning?"

Dean grinned. "Is it another beer wreath? Because that was awesome."

"I try not to do reruns if I can help it. It’s in my jacket. Left pocket. Go get it, will you?"

Dean popped up, dug through John’s jacket until he found a small present wrapped in the comics from the local paper. Beetle Bailey. Dated three weeks ago.

"Miss Buxley!" Dean flopped down on the couch, grinning. He didn’t notice John wince, didn’t notice him blanche a little, or grit his teeth in pain. "And the General’s got her bending over that desk again. That guy’s my hero."

"Great minds," John said.

Dean looked up, studied John with sudden concern.

"Open it," John told him before the kid asked if he was okay again, or apologized for whatever he’d done to make his dad sound like he was trying to pass a watermelon.

Dean hesitated.

"Open it," John insisted.

Dean gave in, shredded Miss Buxley like any twelve-year-old more interested in what was under the skimpy dress than the skimpy dress itself. Inside the package, he found six red, plastic bullets. He poured them out into his palm and said, "Bullets. Plastic even. And red. Awesome."

"Look a little closer, smart ass," John told him.

Dean picked one up, twisted it a little in the light to see what was impressed into the barrel of the bullet itself. It read Palmer’s Shooting Range in all capital letters. "Oh, Dude." Dean’s voice was reverent. He looked up. "Seriously?"

"No. I’m just pulling your leg. We’re going out and shoot at cans in an empty field somewhere."

"A real shooting range?" Dean was grinning. "With Starsky & Hutch body targets and everything?"

"And everything," John agreed.

"Do I get to keep the targets?"

"If you hit them, I suppose."

"Ha, ha. Very funny." He asked the next question almost casually enough to make John laugh. Or cry, maybe; he wasn’t sure which. "Both of us? Or just me?"

"What do you think?"

Dean’s grin seeped up into his eyes. He looked down at the plastic bullets in his hand again, rolled them around for a moment before saying, "That’s awesome, Dad. Thank you."

"You’re welcome. And just in the FYI department: don’t put your head down too hard on your pillow tonight."

Dean’s eyes flicked up. "Huh?"

"I’m just saying."

Dean stopped breathing. His eyes widened, and for just a moment, he looked five again. "Seriously?"

"I suppose you could wait until tonight to find out," John said.

Dean hit the bedroom in record time. His voice floated back, filled with the kind of awe that made life just a little less fucked-up in the living when he said, "Oh, shit, Dad. Oh, shit. This is … oh, shit!"

His eyes were shining with excitement when he came back out, the nine mil cradled in his hand like a baby bird with a busted wing. "This is beautiful," he breathed. "Just beautiful."

"It’s used," John told him. "But I sighted it myself. Got a nice balance to it. Smooth action, nice weight. We’ll lock and load you with silver if those Starsky targets of yours are up to muster."

"Oh, this is awesome, Dad." Dean was still standing in the middle of the room, still staring down at the gun in his hand. "Just awesome."

John relaxed into the couch, grinning himself. "Sorry it’s a little late. I had it here at the house. Thought about telling you where to look, but I kind of wanted to be here when I gave it to you, make sure you wouldn’t rather have a beer can wreath or something."

"No way. This is awesome." He walked over and sat down again, started to ask something, then stopped. He looked back down at the gun, stroked it reverently again and said, "Just awesome."

"I’m glad you like it."

"I do," Dean said.

The quiet between them stretched. "It’s in his bookshelf," John said finally, answering the question Dean hadn’t asked. "If he doesn’t notice it before he gets over not talking to me, I may point it out to him. Or I may not. In the mean time though, he’s on the punk-ass bitch list as far as I’m concerned. He can either get over himself or not; and I can honestly say I don’t really care which right now."

Dean nodded. He kept looking at the gun.

John sighed. "God dammit, Dean. Can’t you and I have anything of our own without Sammy and his bullshit ruining it?"

"Nothing’s ruined," Dean said quietly. "I love my gun. I do. Really love it."

"But?" John added tersely.

"No ‘but.’ I love it."

"I can hear the ‘but’ whether you say it or not, so you might as well spit it out."

Dean shrugged. "You made me tell him you were in a bar," he said finally, quietly. "He thinks you forgot about us and got drunk on Christmas because that’s what you made me tell him. That doesn’t put him on the punk-ass bitch list."

"Whatever," John said. "It doesn’t matter anyway."

"It does matter." Dean said it a little more sharply than he normally would have. "He wouldn’t be giving you the silent treatment if he knew you got hurt on a hunt. He wouldn’t even be mad about that."

"No," John agreed. "He’d be scared, and that’s much worse."

"Maybe not."

John rubbed at the headache over his eyes, resisted the urge to curse the air in the room blue when his fingers bumped up against the raw stitches near his hairline. He didn’t want to deal with this. He wanted to sit on his own fucking couch and have a half-way reasonable Christmas exchange with the one son he had who consistently gave him the benefit of the doubt instead of always assuming the worst.

He didn’t really give a shit that Sammy wasn’t here. He knew he should, but he didn’t. He loved Sammy. He would always love Sammy. But Sammy was just about fucking done with him, and he simply didn’t want to deal with that right now.

And he didn’t want to try and explain to Dean why.

He didn’t want to try and make his kid understand how it’s sometimes better to push someone away than to drag them down with you. Didn’t want to try and make him understand why that’s something he was willing to do for Sammy when he’d always hung onto Dean so tight the kid would likely drown with him someday, end up in hell right beside him, wondering why Sammy wasn’t there, too, and if that meant John loved him less or more than he loved Dean.

Dean didn’t understand "different" when it came to loving somebody. He had one kind of love: all out. That was it. No "less or more," no "differently." It was just "love" and "not-love" for that kid. Period.

"Look at me," John said finally.

Dean looked at him.

"Sammy believes what he wants to believe—what he needs to believe right now—and I’m not going to change that for him the way that demonic fuck changed it for you. I have a choice in the way he sees the world right now, and I’m going to exercise that choice. I’m going to make the one that’s best for him, and if that means he and I are going to be at odds for a while over it? Then so be it. That’s a price I’m willing to pay if it lets him be a kid for just a couple of years longer. That’s a couple of years you didn’t have on top of the eight others you didn’t have either. I can’t do anything about that for you, but I can do something about it for Sammy, and I’m going to. You can understand that, can’t you?"

"I get it," Dean said. "But Sammy doesn’t."

"Sammy doesn’t have to. I’m his dad. I’ll decide what’s best for him right now. He may think he already knows everything there is to know, but he’s only eight, so he doesn’t. And I don’t want him to."

"You don’t need to tell him everything," Dean reasoned, his voice tinged with an almost tangible desperation. "Just that you weren’t in a bar, getting drunk on Christmas."

"What does it fucking matter, Dean?" John snapped. "I wasn’t here. That’s all Sammy cares about … all he will ever care about."

Dean started to answer that, then didn’t. He had that look in his eyes that gutted John, but he pressed his lips together and nodded like he understood. Daddy’s good little soldier. That used to be an endearment between them, back when Mary was around to remind the both of them there was a difference between obedience and love.

"What were you going to say?" John asked because he felt he had to.

"Nothing."

"That I’m not being fair?" John guessed.

Dean didn’t answer.

Sometimes it was a curse being able to read someone as easily as he read Dean. He’d give his left nut to have even a passing idea of what was going on in Sammy’s head most of the time, but watching Dean was like looking in the mirror. He could tell what that kid was thinking even when Dean didn’t know what he was thinking himself.

So he was going to deal with it then. He was going to try and explain something he couldn’t explain, try and make a twelve-year-old understand something he wasn’t sure Mary would understand if she was still here, still around, still at his side helping him raise his sons instead burning in his dreams to the end of helping him destroy them.

"I had you tell him I was in a bar because that’s something he’ll believe," John said quietly. "That’s something he expects of me, something he’ll hear because it re-enforces what he already thinks he knows. You don’t tell someone a lie that’s harder to believe than the truth is. You make your lies easier to believe … something they want to believe, even if believing it hurts them. That’s the truth about lies, son: they only work if you tell ones that sound like the truth. And for Sammy, the truth he’s going to hear—the truth he’s going to believe—is that I forgot him, not that I’m trying to protect him."

"He doesn’t think you forgot him, he thinks you got drunk."

"He thinks what he wants to think."

"That is so not fair," Dean finally said. He looked up, glared at John, met his eyes and glared at him. "He didn’t come up with it on his own. You made me tell him that. You made me tell him you were in a bar."

"Because he wouldn’t have believed it if you’d just said I was working."

"He would have believed you were in the hospital," Dean retorted.

"I didn’t want him to believe that," John said patiently. "I wanted him to believe something that wouldn’t scare him. Me ending up in a bar, trying to drink the memory of your mother numb over Christmas, is something I knew would make him mad, not scared. It wouldn’t have if he’d known her, but he didn’t. He doesn’t know what I lo— … what we lost. He doesn’t understand it, and he never will. That’s one of the few blessings I can count in my life when I’m stupid enough to try and count them: that Sammy doesn’t feel what you and I can’t not feel."

He studied Dean, hated himself a little for bringing up Mary even though he knew bringing up Mary was the only way Dean was ever going to understand any of this.

"I don’t want him knowing the truth, Dean. If he could be mad at me because work kept me away on a holiday? That would be great. But he can’t. He wouldn’t believe it. So I made him mad at me for picking the dead over the living, for crawling inside a bottle instead of coming home to the two of you. And that’s fine. He can be mad at me for that. He can be mad at me for as long as he wants to be for that because he’ll get over it eventually, and all it will be is one more disappointment in a long line of disappointments I’ve been to him. But he wouldn’t get over being scared. If he knew how close I came— if he knew what really happened, he’d never get over being scared about it. Scared every time I was a little late, every time I missed a call-in, every time I didn’t show up right on the dot of when I said I’d show up. You can handle that kind of thing: keep it in perspective, realize things don’t always go the way you plan them so sometimes you run a little late, and that doesn’t mean you’re lying dead somewhere, it just means you’re running a little late. You don’t let that kind of fear own you, but he would. It would eat him up, so I want to keep it off his plate for as long as he’ll let me."

"It isn’t fair for you to let him be mad at you for something you didn’t do," Dean insisted. "It isn’t fair to him, and it isn’t fair to you."

John struggled not to point out who this wasn’t fair to, who was really paying the price for Sammy being mad, for John letting him be mad. If he pointed that out, Dean would use it against him. He never saw things like that on his own, but he wasn’t above using them as leverage if John was stupid enough to admit he understood how unfair he was to Dean on a daily basis.

That was the truth about lies: you had to tell them what they wanted to believe if you wanted them to believe it.

"Sammy’s not mad at me," John lied. "He’s mad because his life isn’t what he wants it to be. And it never will be. But I can’t help that. It’s out of my control. I do the best I can with what I’ve got, and he’s just going to have to learn to live with the rest. Or give me the silent treatment for the next ten years. Either way, it’s up to him."

Dean looked down again, studied his gun, stroked it like the dog he’d always wanted and never had. "Okay," he said finally.

"You’re just going to have to trust me on this one, son," John added. "I’m doing the right thing here."

You’re just going to have to trust me on this one, son; because I’m all you’ve got, and I’m doing the best I can.

"I couldn’t protect you from knowing things that are going to haunt you for the rest of your life. You learned them too young, and I can’t change that."

I can’t protect you from knowing things that are going to haunt you forever. You learn them every day, and I can’t change that because my best isn’t enough to keep you safe. I can’t protect you or your brother without telling one of you more truth than any kid should ever know, and he isn’t strong enough for the truth, but you are.

"But we’ve worked too hard to protect Sammy from what you went through."

But you’ve worked too hard to protect Sammy from having to be strong the way you are.

"And he’s let us."

And I’ve let you.

"He believes what he wants to believe …"

He believes what you’re strong enough to let him believe …

" … and I’m going to let him do that for as long as he’ll let me let him do that."

… and I’m going to let you do that for him as long as he’ll let you do that because it’s the only thing that seems to matter to you; and other than Sammy, you’re the only thing that matters to me.

Dean nodded. "Okay," he said again, still looking at the gun, still stroking it. He waited for several seconds, then said, "Open his present, will you?"

"I don’t want to. I’ll save it for later."

"Open it, Dad." Dean looked up, met John’s eyes. "Please?"

John sighed. He picked up the package, opened it. He held the amulet in his hand, studied it for several seconds before he said, "Huh."

"You know what it is?" Dean asked.

"Yes."

"He got it from Bobby for you," Dean said. "He knows the truth, he’s just waiting for you to tell him. For you to trust him enough to tell him."

John rubbed a thumb on the burnished metal. Charms like this were rare. They were powerful, specific. "That why he gave it to you?" he asked quietly. "Because he got it from Bobby for me?"

Dean hesitated.

"He told me," John lied quietly. "While we were on the phone last night. Told me he got you some necklace for Christmas. I’m assuming it was this one, right?"

"He got it for you," Dean insisted. "He just gave it to me because he was mad."

John heard the truth in that lie: He got it for me. I just gave it to you because I’m scared … more scared of losing you than I am of Sammy losing me.

John nodded. "Yeah. Like he’s ‘at a friend’s house’ today because he’s mad."

"He is at a friend’s house. He’s had this planned for three weeks. It’s some kind of stupid party with kids from his school. He didn’t even really want to go, but he went anyway because it’s been planned for three weeks."

"That’s good, Dean. I’m glad he got to go. Even if he didn’t really want to go. Even if he knew I was coming home today, and that he could have stayed here with us if he’d wanted to and nobody would have said boo to him about it because ‘my dad’s getting out of the hospital’ is pretty much the ace of get-out-of-parties-you-don’t-even-want-to-go-to cards. But if it’s been planned for three weeks, then I can see why he went anyway. And I’m happy for him. Happy he had someplace to go that he didn’t want to go so he wouldn’t have to be here when I got home. That worked out well for him. Worked out well for both of us."

"He thinks you forgot us," Dean repeated, frustrated. "He thinks you were drunk."

It was time for a little truth now: just enough to set all the lies in stone. "No, Dean. He’s eight, and he’s smart. He’s been reading my journal for almost six months now, but he sees what he wants to see because it’s easier than seeing the truth. It’s not as scary as seeing the truth."

No, Dean. He’s eight, and he’s smart. He’s been reading my journal for almost six months now, but he sees what he wants to see because it’s easier than seeing the truth. It’s not as scary as seeing the truth.

"How is he supposed to see the truth if you never tell him the truth?" Dean demanded.

"He isn’t," John said quietly. "That’s pretty much the whole point."

One more lie, and he was done. John reached out, put the amulet around Dean’s neck and patted it into place on his chest. "And a protection charm only works for the person you give it to, kiddo. One time deal. No exchanges, no returns."

"He got it for you," Dean said.

"But he gave it to you," John countered.

"Then I’m giving it to you."

Okay, two more lies. John smiled. "Doesn’t work that way. Be nice if it did, but it doesn’t."

Dean looked down at the amulet hanging against his tee-shirt. He stared at it for so long John thought he wasn’t going to speak again.

"You want pepperoni?" Dean asked finally.

"You like the super supreme better, don’t you?" John answered.

"You can’t handle the super supreme," Dean said. "Not with the hangover from hell after drinking mom gone and then falling down the stairs at that crap-ass motel you were staying at." He looked up, tears in his eyes as he added, "You really shouldn’t drink like that, Dad. It’s dangerous. You’re going to get yourself killed that way some day."

John wanted to close his eyes. He wanted to cry, wanted to hide. Instead, he looked his son straight in the eyes and said, "Pepperoni’s fine."

They were finishing off the last piece when the scrape of Sammy’s key in the lock changed their conversation from animated to strained. He opened the door and came inside, locking it behind him before he turned and actually looked at John sitting on the couch half a two-bedroom apartment away.

"Hi, Dad," he said.

"Sammy," John returned.

Sammy studied him without any expression at all, then glanced at the open, empty pizza box on the coffee table.

"I put two pieces in the fridge for you, Spaz-o-matic," Dean offered. "Figured you’d be ready for some real food after all that candy, cake and Christmas crap they probably shoved down your throat."

"I’m not hungry," Sam said simply. He crossed the room, put his backpack on the floor by the chair before he sat down, looked at John again and asked, "What happened to you?"

John smiled at him. "Fat guy in a red suit took offense to one of my jokes. Turned out he was a lot tougher than he looked."

"Did you fall down some stairs or something?" Sammy asked without smiling.

"Or something," John agreed.

"That why you were in the hospital?"

"What can I say? Those stairs were hella icy."

"Is your arm broken or just sprained?"

"Just sprained."

Sammy nodded. "Your head looks like it hurts."

"That was the worst of it, but nothing a needle and some thread couldn’t take care of."

"Did you get a concussion or anything?"

"Got a headache," John offered.

Sammy nodded again. "Yeah. I figured that." He studied John for a moment longer, then offered, "Sorry I wasn’t home when you got here. I was at a party."

"So I hear. You have a good time?"

"No."

"Well, they probably had good candy at least, eh?"

"I didn’t eat anything."

That surprised John a little. Dean was the food hog of the Winchester clan, but Sammy didn’t pass on candy unless he was … actually, there wasn’t any reason good enough to make Sammy pass on candy. "Why not?" he asked.

Sammy shrugged. "Dean got me candy for Christmas. He bought me gummy worms and everything."

"Gummy worms, huh? I remember when candy canes where the top of the Christmas food chain."

"He bought me candy canes, too."

"Hope you saved a couple for me."

"I did. I left them in your room."

That surprised John more than hearing Sammy had passed on candy. "I appreciate that," he said after a long beat. He hadn’t eaten a candy cane in more than thirty years, but Mary loved them, so he always bought a few and kept them in his sock drawer until the holidays were over.

"I put them in your dresser," Sammy added. "In your sock drawer. That’s where you keep them, isn’t it?"

"Yeah," John agreed quietly. "That’s where I keep them."

"You going to tell him about your Barbie?" Dean prompted after a moment of awkward silence.

"Your Barbie?" John repeated, amused.

Sam looked at Dean, clearly unamused. "No," he said in a tone that was clearly more along the lines of "fuck no and shut up."

"I’d really like to hear about the Barbie, son," John teased, trying not to grin.

"I didn’t want to go to the party," Sam told him instead, "but the store’s too far to walk to, and we didn’t have any money for me to ride the bus. So I went because Mrs. Beusing said she’d pick me up on her way; and I knew she’d drive by the store, too, if I asked her to. She’s pretty nice about things like that." He leaned over, dug through his backpack for a moment and came up with a present wrapped in garish Santa Claus paper. He handed it over, saying, "Mrs. Hamilton loaned me the paper. She says Merry Christmas, and she hopes you feel better soon."

John looked down at the present in his hands. It was obvious Sammy had wrapped it himself. There was enough tape on it to secure a bobcat to a basketball. "Me and my sprained wing aren’t too good at opening things right now," he said when he could talk without sounding like a punk-ass bitch. "You mind helping me out with that?"

"Sure." Taking the present back, Sammy pulled one of John’s old pocket knives out and began to saw on the tape with methodical care.

That was the difference between his sons in a nutshell: Dean was deftly precise; Sammy was methodically careful.

"Thanks for the pocket knife, by the way," Sam said as he worked. "Dean said it’s your best one, and that you had it blessed by Pastor Jim and everything for me."

"That Pastor Jim is a handy gadget to have around when it comes to blessing things," John allowed. He flicked Dean a glance only when Sam was busy looking at the present under his new knife. Dean shrugged a little, gave him a one-cornered grin.

That knife was something Dean had given him their first Christmas without Mary. Jim helped him pick it out, blessed it and baptized it with holy water at Dean’s instance. Dean probably figured it was old, that he wouldn’t miss it. Kid had no idea the damn thing was one of his most prized possessions.

Sam folded the knife and put it away, then handed John his present. All the corners were cut free of tape now so he could get it open without expending anything more than minimal effort. "There. That should help."

John twisted the paper off a small bottle of generic aspirin. He looked at it for so long without speaking that Sammy offered, "I figured you’d probably have a pretty bad headache if you hurt yourself bad enough to have to go to the hospital. I didn’t know what else to get you, so I hope that’s not a stupid present or anything."

"Actually, that’s a pretty good present," John said quietly. "And you’re right: I do have a hell of a headache." He kept looking at the bottle when he said, "Thought you were out of money though. You didn’t lift this, did you?"

"No. I borrowed some money from Mrs. Beusing. I paid her back, though. I sold some of my Hot Wheels to a guy at the party. That’s the other reason I went. I don’t like him, but I know he collects Hot Wheels, so I figured he might buy some of mine if I acted like I didn’t want to sell them to him. His parents buy him anything he wants, so its only fun for him if he can take something you don’t want to give him. Or buy it, if he can’t take it. So I acted like I got them for Christmas, and I didn’t want to give them up, so he bought them and told everybody his dad gave them to him. Which was kind of funny, because most of them had scratches and everything, but he liked them way better than the brand new ones his dad really did buy him."

"Smart thinking," John said. "On both counts." He popped the lid off the bottle with one thumb. "You mind getting me a glass of water to wash these down with, Sammy?"

"Sure." Sam got up, brought him back some water and then stood there, waiting to take the glass back to the sink after John tossed back his aspirin and downed most of the water.

A couple of aspirin wasn’t going to make much of a dent on top of Demerol, but John figured it would hurt anything either.

"Don’t sit just yet," he said when Sammy got back and started to sink into his chair again. "Dean and I were having an argument about dinosaurs before you showed up. I don’t suppose you have any books on that, do you?"

Sammy looked at him askance. "You and Dean were arguing about dinosaurs?" he asked like he was more disbelieving of John thinking he’d buy that than he was of the ludicrous notion that his dad and brother would be discussing anything other than cars, girls or hunting without him around to broaden the scope of topics.

"Absolutely." John lied. "He tossed out some crap about the T-Rex being a scavenger, and I told him he was crazy, but he just won’t let it go. If you have any books that might have an answer to that, I sure would like to see them."

"He’s right," Sammy said. "Most people think the other, but the smart scientists are all starting to say the T-Rex was probably a scavenger because its legs are all wrong for running fast enough to be a predator. Not everyone agrees, but the smart ones mostly do."

"I kind of expected you to take Dean’s side on this one," John said, "but I’d still rather see it written down in black and white in a book before I believe it, if you don’t mind."

"I’m not sure it would be in any book I have," Sammy told him. "It’s still pretty new stuff, and most of my dinosaur books are pretty old."

Nothing was ever easy with Sammy. Nothing.

"Don’t you have some huge thing about dinosaurs in your bookshelf?" John prompted. "It would probably be in that one, wouldn’t it?"

"No," Sammy said simply.

Dean snickered.

"Why don’t you check for me anyway," John suggested.

"It won’t be there," Sammy told him with absolute certainty.

"Oh for Christ’s sake, Sammy. Just humor me, will you?"

Sammy rolled his eyes. "Sure, Dad. Whatever." He turned and stalked off in the direction of his room.

"Dude!" Dean whispered, nearly purple from the effort of trying not to bust out laughing. "Dinosaurs? Why would you pick dinosaurs?"

"Because I put it next to that fucking dinosaur book of his," John hissed back. "I didn’t realize I’d have to come up with a plausible lie about why I wanted to look at the damn thing. I thought just the fact that I wanted to look at it would be enough."

Dean did laugh then, hands plastered across his mouth to keep the sound muffled. His eyes practically danced with hilarity at his old man’s expense.

"Oh, shit!" Sammy’s voice was startled. He sounded more surprised than John ever remembered him sounding. "Oh, shit, Dad. Oh, shit!"

Dean lost his battle to keep from laughing out loud. It made John laugh, too, when his twelve-year-old actually fall off the couch, he was cackling that hard.

"This is awesome!" Sammy yelled from the bedroom. There was no trace of petulance in his voice now. He sounded as excited over his book as Dean had been over the nine mil. "This is so freaking awesome I can’t believe it!"

Something twisted inside John. It knotted up and grew cold inside him: the memory of Mary laughing at him when he picked up an encyclopedia in a toy store while she was pregnant with Dean and said, "Knowing my luck, this is what our kid will want for Christmas instead of a gun or a Batmobile or a baseball bat."

Sammy nearly tripped over his own feet as he ran out of his room to re-join them. He threw himself down on the couch this time, rather than sitting away from them on the chair. The impact of his body weight jarred John badly.

The agony in his ribs was a welcome distraction from the abyss growing in his gut. John smiled through the pain, wanting to crawl inside a bottle and drink her memory gone as he watched Sammy shove his new book under Dean’s nose, demanding, "Do you believe this, Dean? Do you freaking believe this?"

The thing of it was, that was the truth about lies. You had to give them what they needed to believe if you wanted them to believe it over the harder truths you never wanted them to know.

John watched his sons share their Christmas gifts with each other, bubbling over with excitement in a way that would have made Mary happy, that would have made her look at him and nod just a little, telling him they’d done good, telling him they’d done it right. He watched their joy and did his best to feel something more than the lies he’d become to hide the truth she wouldn’t want her sons to know.

 

finis

 

 

 

  


Tags: , , , , ,
Current Mood: satisfied satisfied

89CommentReply

brigid_tanner
brigid_tanner
brigid_tanner
Tue, Jan. 1st, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)

Figures Dean would try to give the amulet to John, and that John would make him keep it. It hurts so much that they have to lie to each other.


ReplyThread
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Tue, Jan. 1st, 2008 02:42 am (UTC)

Dean was so loathe to take that amulet in the episode ... that was one of the first things that hit my head in looking to write something episode based. The idea that Dean might accept the amulet, but try to pass it on to John later. And that John would refuse it, thus making it a double gift to Dean: once from Sammy, and once from John.


ReplyThread Parent

dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Tue, Jan. 1st, 2008 02:43 am (UTC)
Re: very thoughtful and well reasoned

Thank you much. These thinky-thoughts on John as a liar really dovetailed with what I'm doing in Skin Deep, so I benefited greatly from writing both of these pieces in tandum.


ReplyThread Parent
wilwarin1
wilwarin1
wilwarin1
Tue, Jan. 1st, 2008 01:34 pm (UTC)

Oh man, this painfull and good at the same time.

John, I love you for trying to do the right thing for your boys, but there are times I'd like nothing better than to smack you silly.

Awesome sequel!

HAPPY 2008!!


ReplyThread
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Fri, Jan. 4th, 2008 04:28 am (UTC)

Thanks! Happy 2008 to you, too. (Although ... JEEEZE! Where did 2007 go?!?!)


ReplyThread Parent
blucasbabe
blucasbabe
Sam Winchester: Needs no ruler
Wed, Jan. 2nd, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)

Oh, ouch. All 3 Winchesters need a big hug, I'm thinking.

This was so good. :)


ReplyThread
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Fri, Jan. 4th, 2008 04:29 am (UTC)

Thank ya. I'm with you. You grab Sam and Dean and I'll grab John and we'll hug the stuffings out of them. Get ready, get set ... GO!


ReplyThread Parent
teachertam
teachertam
teachertam
Fri, Jan. 4th, 2008 06:30 am (UTC)

Hi, I don't recall if I've ever commented on any of your stories. I *believe* I did, over at ff.net, a while ago, when I was punched in the gut with the amazing-ness that is "Open your Eyes." Yeah. That's a great fic.

I can't recall how I found your site, here, but I've so glad I did.

You're amazing.

You tell the stories about John and the Wee!Chesters that I want to read. You treat them *all* with care and respect, and I appreciate that. You don't make John into an abusive asshole. You portray him as he is: a human, a parent who is trying his best to raise his kids in a f&*#ed up situation. A parent who screws up with the best of intentions.

It's amazing.

Would you please be a writer for the show? Please? I'm sure that there would be plenty of us who would take up a petition...

=D

Thank you for showing how this Christmas ep would have worked out.

I love the lies that he tells, to Dean, and the truths that he tells, as well.

I love that Sam and Dean both responded to their gifts with the same enthusiastic phrasing.

I love that Dean and John had both used Beetle Bailey for the wrapping paper. (Some of my favorite presents were wrapped in the Sunday Funnies, when we couldn't afford the wrapping paper. I thought it was great.)

I should have been commenting as I read, because there is so much in this wonderful story that I wanted to respond to, and now all I can think to say is,

"Uhhhhhhh...... that was so good!"

Eloquent, no?

:)

But I really do love this story.

Oh! There is one specific line that just stopped me dead in my tracks. Had to just sit there and read it a few times, then go back and re-read it, every few paragraphs.

Something about it just calls to me.

It ties up all that is The Glorious Show.

"That was the difference between his sons in a nutshell: Dean was deftly precise; Sammy was methodically careful."

Beautiful.

Oh, yeah! I also loved that Dean gave Sam a present from John, and that John loved the knife, because it had come from Dean, but that he was willing to let Sam have it, for Dean's sake.

You are amazing.

Would it be okay if I "friend" you? I'm afraid I don't have anything of value, to offer in return. I'm a *COMPLETE* Supernatural addict, but I can't manage to write anything for the fandom that owns me. Dean's the one I'd write for, if I could, but I just can't get his voice.

At all.

He's too cool.

And I'm so *not*.

I can't even *pretend* that I'm cool.

I've written some OC stories (yes, I'm also a huge OC fan, of the first season, more than any other, but I still miss that show), but nothing for anything else.

But, I'm so grateful that I've found your stories.

Because you?

Are amazing.

Thank you.


ReplyThread
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Wed, Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:12 pm (UTC)

Dagnabbit! I don't know how this comment slipped by me. Sometimes I think LJ has it in for me ... that it grabs some comments and hides them in the litterbox, just like the damn cat does just a select few Christmas ornaments (his favorites are the only ones he takes though, if that helps. *g*)

LOL @ the petition idea. I'd sign that one ... a whole bunch of times, even. :D

I'd be honored to have you friend me. I don't agree at all that those who don't write a lot of fanfic have nothing of value to offer. To the contrary, your feedback on what worked for you and why is very specific and very helpful. That is TRES valuable to anyone who cares how their work affects their readers, which I most certainly do.

So absolutely, friend away and thank you. I'll look forward to chatting with you in the future, about fanfic or whatever else strikes your fancy. And hopefully THIS time, the LJcat won't go stealing your comment and hiding it from me. I really am sorry I'm so slow in responding to this. I have no idea how it slipped through the cracks, but it did.

*facepalm*

Which, oddly enough, I have the prefect icon for, don't you think? :D


ReplyThread Parent
miconic
miconic
.m, purveyor of wasted minutiae and wisdom
Sun, Jan. 6th, 2008 09:04 am (UTC)

Brilliant. This fic is both funny and sad at the same time, and it hurts. It's painful to see how all of it made sense in the worst possible way. It's not fair that they're still paying for it now.

Thanks for sharing the read. It is a worthy addendum to Keep Going, imho exceeds it. I appreciate this insight on what could-have-been and probably were. Thank you.


ReplyThread
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Mon, Jan. 7th, 2008 01:08 am (UTC)

Thanks so much. I wasn't sure this one would ever actually find the light of post, but as time passes, I'm starting to think I like it better, too. Maybe a sense of closure? I'm not sure, but where Keep Going seemed so suspended in the middle of an event, joined and exited while things were already in progress and still going on, this one was far more grounded, felt more complete, and more like I was finished saying what I wanted to say about where John might have been that Christmas, and why Sammy might have gotten the impression it had something to do with him not caring enough to be there.


ReplyThread Parent
apieceofcake
apieceofcake
Jo
Mon, Jan. 7th, 2008 05:18 pm (UTC)

Lovely follow-up..hugs them all, and John carefully!

Thank you!


ReplyThread
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Wed, Jan. 9th, 2008 08:33 pm (UTC)

Thanks! (And John very much appreciates the CAREFUL hug!)


ReplyThread Parent
amothea
amothea
Amalthia
Mon, Jan. 7th, 2008 09:17 pm (UTC)

I loved this story. The character voices were spot on and I loved John's reasonings and Dean standing up to him and basically I loved everything about this story.


ReplyThread
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Wed, Jan. 9th, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)

Thanks so much. I was concern about its inherent schmoopiness originally, so it helps to get feedback about whether or not I hit the balance I was going for in the end.


ReplyThread Parent
sylvia_bond
sylvia_bond
sylvia_bond
Mon, Jan. 14th, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)

Okay, after reading your summary, "And for Sammy, the truth he’s going to hear—the truth he’s going to believe—is that I forgot him, not that I’m trying to protect him."...I don't even want to read this because it sounds so sad from the outset and after the Christmas holidays (always a bust), I'm not sure I'm ready to see the badness from J.W.'s point of view. But you know, you come highly recommended, and Amalthia rec'd this story, and so here I am. :::sigh::: I'll let you know after.


ReplyThread
sylvia_bond
sylvia_bond
sylvia_bond
Mon, Jan. 14th, 2008 03:13 am (UTC)

Okay, um. Yeah. This is why I hate Christmas. So...your original premise that John didn't make it home because he couldn't, not because he didn't on account of he was hunting or something and just forgot. I don't know if I agree. I'm not a John-hater, please don't think that, because accepting your premise means accepting that he's a whole lot more messed up emotionally than I had ever figured. I love the complex way you draw him. He's not right, okay? He's making a bunch of bad decisions, but they're for the RIGHT reasons. Reasons based on love and the determination to protect. Sure, it's easier to postulate that he didn't come home on purpose, but to have him not be able to come home because of an accident and then cover it up with lies because he's willing to risk the love his sons feel for him on their safety? Dude. Where are that box of kleenex? You make me see John in ways I never thought of or was never brave enough to see. Stop it.


ReplyThread Parent Expand





just_ruth
just_ruth
Ruth
Tue, Jan. 22nd, 2008 12:17 am (UTC)

I missed this somewhere in the stacks and I'm sorry I did. I had adored "Keep Going" and rec'd it in my journal as a great story of a father doing anything to get back to his children.

Wow. I wish this had been a flashback in "Supernatural Christmas" because it's so right with the Winchester's dysfunctionality.

John doesn't realize the lies he's telling will be what drives his youngest son from him even if he is trying to protect Sam from what's out there. I love John's thoughts of Mary and how even after eight years there's a hollow place that no one else can fill.

Excellent! I admire your talent immensely and hope to see more.


ReplyThread
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Wed, Jan. 23rd, 2008 09:12 pm (UTC)

Thanks! I'm in the middle of writing a third piece based on the SPN Christmas episode. It isn't related to these two, but rather an OC version of something Dotfic wrote, detailing what John was doing during the course of her story, Double Edged.


ReplyThread Parent
pepper180
pepper180
Fri, May. 9th, 2008 10:01 pm (UTC)

I didn't think it would be better than the first part - I just read it 'cause the last one was so good but I wasn't really expecting anything...

This totally blew me away! As far as I'm concerned - you are the expert on everything that is John Winchester. This just portrayed him so perfectly that I'm just gonna believe that this is cannon.


ReplyThread
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, May. 11th, 2008 01:16 am (UTC)

You're awesome for saying so. Thanks so much. I really thought KEEP GOING was the only story I was going to write about that Christmas episode, so it surpised me big time to find out I actually wanted to follow John home and listen in on his conversation with the boys. Because the whole "tell Sam I'm in a bar" thing? That needed some more exploration for me. And of course, John turned it into a master's class on lying.

John is such an awesome character to play with. He rocks my world in all the fucked up ways he is.


ReplyThread Parent Expand

willow_fae_20
willow_fae_20
Nayeli Honizre
Thu, Jun. 19th, 2008 07:05 am (UTC)

This?

John rubbed at the headache over his eyes, resisted the urge to curse the air in the room blue when his fingers bumped up against the raw stitches near his hairline. He didn’t want to deal with this. He wanted to sit on his own fucking couch and have a half-way reasonable Christmas exchange with the one son he had who consistently gave him the benefit of the doubt instead of always assuming the worst.

He didn’t really give a shit that Sammy wasn’t here. He knew he should, but he didn’t. He loved Sammy. He would always love Sammy. But Sammy was just about fucking done with him, and he simply didn’t want to deal with that right now.

And he didn’t want to try and explain to Dean why.

He didn’t want to try and make his kid understand how it’s sometimes better to push someone away than to drag them down with you. Didn’t want to try and make him understand why that’s something he was willing to do for Sammy when he’d always hung onto Dean so tight the kid would likely drown with him someday, end up in hell right beside him, wondering why Sammy wasn’t there, too, and if that meant John loved him less or more than he loved Dean. and all it will be is one more disappointment in a long line of disappointments I’ve been to him.


Kind of really made me angry with John.

Then all the lies he told himself while he was telling Dean the 'truth'. I don't quite know how to feel about that.

This?

He flicked Dean a glance only when Sam was busy looking at the present under his new knife. Dean shrugged a little, gave him a one-cornered grin.

That knife was something Dean had given him their first Christmas without Mary. Jim helped him pick it out, blessed it and baptized it with holy water at Dean’s instance. Dean probably figured it was old, that he wouldn’t miss it. Kid had no idea the damn thing was one of his most prized possessions.

Broke me a little.



ReplyThread
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Fri, Jun. 20th, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the specificity of your feedback. It was driving me nuts that John insisted, in specific, that Dean tell Sammy he was in a bar in Keep Going, so I finally gave in and wrote this just to discover for myself why John would create that kind of lie for Sammy, rather than telling him a lie that would protect him without pushing him away at the same time.

But John's efforts, both conscious and subconscious to protect his sons from the damage he knows he has sustained is a fascinating subject for me. As is the idea that he carries such a deep and unresolvable guilt for not being able to overcome the loss of Mary in ways that didn't involve a mutual-need dynamic with Dean that he might overcompensate the other way with Sammy, seeing how sweet and functional and "normal" Sammy is and striving to push Sammy away from him before he "stains" Sammy the way he feels he's stained Dean.

None of which I agree with him on, of course; but most of the things I most love about John, as a character and as a man, or things I don't necessarily agree with him on. And that's true of how I feel about Dean, too. They both carry such crushing guilt for things they did far and above what anyone else would have been able to do ... and it is as tragic for me when it manifests in John as it is for the fandom when it manifests in Dean.


ReplyThread Parent Expand


applepie_x0
applepie_x0
lollipop disease .. ♥
Sun, Jan. 25th, 2009 03:33 am (UTC)

Ohh ouch! you got me right in the heart with this one! (although technically you always do >_<) ♥

This is SO how I see John. especially with Dean! 'you’ve worked too hard to protect Sammy from having to be strong the way you are.' *nods*

You are the Goddess of fantastic daddy!John fics. ♥


ReplyThread
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Mon, Jan. 26th, 2009 06:57 am (UTC)

Thank ya much. I had a BLAST writing these two stories. Hit all my h/c and broken man/good daddy squees full on.


ReplyThread Parent Expand


borgmama1of5
borgmama1of5
borgmama1of5
Sun, May. 30th, 2010 06:10 am (UTC)

And this? This is where I want to smack John Winchester for selling Sam short. And giving Dean the message that Sam was too fragile to handle the truth. Because, while it wouldn't have been easy in any way, protecting Sam from reality didn't allow him to learn how to deal with it. And that whole 'protecting Sam thing' didn't work out so well, did it.


ReplyThread
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, May. 30th, 2010 08:03 am (UTC)
1

One of the things I let guide me when writing John is the idea that no matter what he decides to do, he's always going to be in the wrong. He's got no instructions here, and every decision he makes is life or death for himself and his sons. And particularly the ones that are life or death on the emotional front would be the ones that would be the most difficult to make. So when John's facing one of those, I try to think about where he would draw his lines on what he considered too much for his boys to handle between truth and lies of how much danger he was in at any given time.

So for me, it's never a case of John selling one of the boys short for him to try and protect them from a truth he thinks will be more detrimental to them than whatever lie he can think of to sell in the truth's stead. Rather, I find it to be a defensive mechanism John defaults to in pretty much every situation ... to lie over telling the truth, because in his world, the truth is almost always more dangerous and/or more upsetting than the truth. So with his boys, in particular? I tend to have John lie unless he specifically feels he needs to tell the truth.

And to be perfectly honest, I had no idea John was going to lie to Sammy on this one until he'd already done it. Back in "Keep Going," he told Dean to tell Sammy he'd forgotten them instead of telling him the truth about him having gotten hurt. And then I spent the time between that story and this story asking John why in the hell he would do something like that to Sammy? But I could tell, in my gut, that it was something John would absolutely do; so it became my job to figure out WHY he would do it, not IF he would do it.

And in that quest for answers, what I cam up with is the idea that fear is the most corrosive force in the world to a child ... particularly a child who is so dependent upon the one thing he fears losing that it is paralyzing to him to consider losing it. And John can't stop hunting. "The Constancy of Pain", which I know you've read now, is all about John's struggle to find a way to deal with his own emotions, and how essential hunting has become to his coping mechanisms in that regard.

So knowing he can't give up hunting without losing himself, I can see how John would think he can't afford to put Sammy in a position to be paralyzed by fear every time John goes hunting. And right or wrong, that's where his head is when he comes up with this plan to lie to Sammy. Knowing how much fear Sammy already lives with, and how desperately Sammy wants to be normal (which I think, for John, normal doesn't necessarily equate to the same thing it would for Sammy, but rather normal equates to living without fear for John), and having experienced with Dean how catastrophically destabilizing the constant fear of losing John was, and how much John couldn't really do anything for Dean in that regard, I think John is genuinely trying to "do better this time" with Sammy; and he's willing to sacrifice things he doesn't want to give away in order to give what he feels is the small piece of mind he can give his kid in allowing him to resent John rather than fear for him.

And that's a huge sacrifice on John's part. He struggles so hard to try and find way to create common ground between he and Sam, so to deliberately put himself in a position to be viewed as not caring enough to remember Christmas when he has the best of all possible "get out of jail free" cards to lay down and exonerate him in his child's eyes? That's John being selfless in trying to do what is best of his son's emotional health no matter what it costs HIM to do so.

...


ReplyThread Parent Expand



frozeneyes
frozeneyes
That Lettie Grrrl
Mon, Dec. 20th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)

Aww I love these little moments the most! Especially when Sammy can stop locking horns with John for a few minutes a couple days after Christmas. Just what I needed to read before cruising off to work. I reject show canon and accept this in it's place.


ReplyThread
dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Tue, Dec. 21st, 2010 12:17 am (UTC)

:)

That whole "can we not fight, Sammy?" thing really gave me a sense of how John and Sammy's relationship had been pretty much their whole lives. I think that's probably the thing I most enjoyed writing about this one ... how much Sammy is not TRYING to fight with his dad here, he's just Sammy in ways that can't ever accept something just because John says it. Which, of course, is a testament to the fact that John raised an extraordinarily self possessed and confident child ... even if that child DOES make him nuts most of the time. :)


ReplyThread Parent Expand