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28 September 2010 @ 04:32 pm
Fic: After the Flood  


TITLE: After the Flood
CHAR: Dean and John
PARING/GENRE: Gen, H/C
RATING: PG-13 for swearing
WORDS: 1065
SPOILERS: None. Pre-series.
DISC: They aren't mine. Thanks for reminding me.
A/N: I wrote this with a deliberate disregard for the canonical timeline. Assume that either hurricane Katrina happened earlier, or the pilot happened later. There is, to my chagrin, no way around this. I loved the story too much not to write it.
SUMMARY:



 
-after the flood-



Morning. Wasted on the floor like a teenager. A salad of loose muscles and brains. Body parts all trying to do the same thing: forget, forget, forget. Wondering why he ever remembered in the first place.

A dusty fan sails round and round on the ceiling, and pigeons coo on the window ledge like they’re speaking in Pig Latin, insulting him. One flies into the room, lands inches away from his outstretched arm.  And he stares at it. It tries to eat a piece of his smashed bottle of bourbon.

“Fucking idiot,” he tells it.

His head throbs enough that he doesn’t dare move. The hangover isn’t doing the lingering concussion any favors.

Hours later, when the sun isn’t on the same side of the building anymore, he tries to get up; in doing so, is reminded that there is a cast on his leg, fat and heavy and much uglier, more painful, than a little string tied around his finger.

His crutches are on opposite sides of the hotel room. Must have argued while he was sleeping. He hops over to one, then the other. Makes use of them. Heads down the hall to the shared bathroom.

The hotel is all old peeling Victorian wallpaper, mildew, cast-iron: New Orleans charm. The bathroom sink has only cold water; it’s all he needs. On his face, neck, hair.

He vomits in the john, rinses out his mouth, and heads out.

 

The street is a ghost of itself. Houses abandoned like old snake skins, left to rot or satisfy the morbid curiosity of passers-by. A few, still lived in, clinging to a delusion of normalcy. A man mows his lawn, mostly clay. His dog, tied to the porch, barks at the impala as it drives past.

Further down the road, number 79, the year he was born. It’s in better shape than the others, freshly painted. Baby blue like the old Bel-Air he saw with his father a week ago outside a  hardware store in Biloxi. On their way into town.

Dean kills the engine, gets out. There’s a soft vibration in his coat pocket, which he ignores. It’s cold and the sun is setting behind the house. The keys to the impala bite into his palm, his fist tight around them, trying to stop the trembling. A gust of wind gently pushes him towards the house.

He grabs the crutches from the back seat, a crowbar from the trunk.

 

The backdoor breaks under the stress like the set of a high school production of Our Town. Inside, all the furniture is gone. A few half-broken appliances remain on the kitchen counter, a few dead plants in the hallway. In the living room lies a dark red stain covering almost the entire carpet, splattered across the side of the staircase, the front door.

“Jesus.”

There is nothing to sit on, so Dean leans his crutches on the wall, and slides to the floor. His broken leg scrapes the stained carpet, red residue caking up on the heel of his cast.

Dean gasps raggedly, presses his hands out on the stain, steadying himself against vivid grief.

And he remembers. He remembers his arms tied, leg broken, gagged. A captive audience of one.

Remembers how the ghost took each child, one by one, gutted them right there, behind the yellow armchair that isn’t there anymore. How he starred at a basket of knitting needles and yarn, a pile of old People magazines.

He can still hear them, all of them, crying for their Mama.

It demanded his attention. It said he had to watch. And when he didn’t, it made him feel it instead; all of their blood spilled on him, warm and oozing and impossible to ignore.

He remembers his father carrying him out to the car. Driving him far away from this place. Holding him up in the shower, half naked, tinted-red water swirling down the drain. His father saying don’t you leave me again. Holding him, holding him so tight.

 

 

“Why’d you come back here?” John whispers, hand tangled in the hair at the back of his head, kneeling next to him on the floor. Dark out now, and shadows obfuscate the nightmares splattered on the walls.  Dean doesn’t know how to speak anymore; he opens his mouth, but only tears come.

John presses his hand over his own mouth, stops himself from saying the wrong thing. He’s always known what to say. This time, there’s nothing. He just sits there. And Dean wonders if this is how John felt when he was in Viet Nam: numb and crazy and afraid of his own thoughts.

Eventually, Dean says “It really happened.”

John nods. “Wish to god it didn’t, kid.”

After a while, John pulls him to his feet, hands him his crutches. Doesn’t let him move without a guiding, steadying hand. They climb into John’s truck, and leave. Dean’s leg throbs, his heart too.

The whole city feels suddenly like one endless funeral.

They drive away from New Orleans for the second time, head back to the hospital in Baton Rouge. And Dean discovers that it’s not the city. It’s him.

“The old man that lived there before the hurricane, Levon Parish,” John says–he is all rigid and business, save for his right hand clinging to Dean’s car keys, an inanimate extension of their owner—“his kids left him there to drown. He used to beat ‘em.”

They stop less than a mile up the highway. Dean drags himself out and into a ditch full of brittle Queen Ann’s lace, dry heaves and tries to find his breath.

Dad helps him back into the car, says, “It’s like a disease. All this goddamn violence,” like he tastes it in his mouth, bitter and vile. Standing with the passenger door half-open, he wipes his running nose on the sleeve of his field coat. He looks at Dean and shakes his head. “You don’t run off like that. Not when you have people worried as shit already.”  

“People?”

“Yes, people.”

 

At the hospital Dean’s bed is still empty. They keep him one more night,  give him fluids, and a prescription from the doctor. And—not like a child, who might ask such a thing naively, but with a coldness and cynicism that can only be learned—he asks one of the nurses,

“Is there somethin’ I can take to forget again?”

 


-fin-


 

A/N #2: I've always been curious about Dean's passionate desire to protect children. Obviously, he grew up protecting Sam. But I feel like there's something else that must be driving him. Something that would have really rocked his world view. This is one such possibility. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

 






 
 
 
asher_elricasher_elric on September 28th, 2010 09:42 pm (UTC)
Nice. I like the trip into the human...psychi like this.
That and the descricption of the body being like a salad was too new for me to pass up reading this.
i_speak_tongue: blue sky impalai_speak_tongue on September 28th, 2010 10:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much. I'm glad I could entice you!
asher_elricasher_elric on September 29th, 2010 04:07 am (UTC)
Yup. I am still floored with the 'salad' description.
Thanks so much for that.
Ironlily - Making My Marque: Deanvikingprincess on September 28th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
The way the ghost was formed is really creative and horrifying - so of course I love it. It's also, as you say in your author's note, a really plausible explanation for Dean's fixation on saving children.
i_speak_tongue: breathei_speak_tongue on September 28th, 2010 10:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you! So happy to hear it worked for you!
ℳ.: you are a fevermaypoles on September 28th, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC)
This is painful, but in this entirely gorgeous way. I love your spare writing style.
i_speak_tonguei_speak_tongue on September 28th, 2010 10:46 pm (UTC)
What I was aiming for: beautiful pain! You are too kind. Thanks!
roque_clasiqueroque_clasique on September 28th, 2010 10:33 pm (UTC)
omg no time to read but I am really excited to see you back on LJ just FYI.
i_speak_tongue: they can see us!i_speak_tongue on September 28th, 2010 10:48 pm (UTC)
!!!!!!!! Awesome! See you around!
roque_clasiqueroque_clasique on September 29th, 2010 04:43 am (UTC)
Ach! That was just awful, in the best way. That last line. Gah.
i_speak_tongue: johni_speak_tongue on September 29th, 2010 05:02 am (UTC)
So I'm good at being awful? Thanks! Lol.
Gen: Dean & Bentxgirl0302 on September 28th, 2010 10:34 pm (UTC)
Poor Dean :(

I love Dean and John stories, this one was so heartbreaking. Very well done.
i_speak_tongue: impala for salei_speak_tongue on September 28th, 2010 10:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I aim to break hearts!
borgmama1of5borgmama1of5 on September 28th, 2010 10:51 pm (UTC)
Wow, your opening sentence is a work of art on its own!

And the pain in this...

The lack of hard details just makes it more horrific.

Amazing writing!
i_speak_tongue: american psychoi_speak_tongue on September 29th, 2010 03:17 am (UTC)
Wow, thank you so much! Very kind.
fifimom on September 28th, 2010 11:15 pm (UTC)
captivating. thanks for sharing.
i_speak_tongue: at the doori_speak_tongue on September 29th, 2010 03:18 am (UTC)
My pleasure! Thanks for reading!
sylvanwitchsylvanwitch on September 28th, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC)
This is devastating, the language spare and brutal, the descriptions vivid. There's something hallucinatory--the worst kind of trip--in the way the images and our understanding collide. Outstanding. Bravo!
i_speak_tongue: dean's awsome legsi_speak_tongue on September 29th, 2010 03:22 am (UTC)
I'm really glad you liked it. As you say, I can only imagine it would feel like a bad trip, slowly recalling something so terrible. There's something that was almost hallucinatory about the images from Katrina, too. Just such unbelievable destruction.
ursalita on September 29th, 2010 12:03 am (UTC)
I loved the details in this. Once I figured out what was going on, I went back and re-read from the beginning. I especially liked John in this. I can't get enough of hurt!Dean with protective John. Thank you for sharing.
i_speak_tongue: sadsami_speak_tongue on September 29th, 2010 03:30 am (UTC)
Sorry if it was confusing! But glad you liked it enough to read it twice! I am also a huge supporter of the hurt!Dean&protective!John duo! I actually have an easier time writing John than Sam, for some reason....
ursalita on September 29th, 2010 12:13 pm (UTC)
Actually, I didn't find it confusing at all. I just enjoyed a re-read of the first part from a different perspective. I thought the first part was very well done. Sorry my comment was vague.
i_speak_tonguei_speak_tongue on September 29th, 2010 02:33 pm (UTC)
Agh, I'm sure it wasn't! Just me being insecure...
Thanks for holding my hand.
labseraphlabseraph on September 29th, 2010 03:19 am (UTC)
Um, have anyone told you that you are damn good at gutting a fangirl and ripping her heart out? Cause you are. Really good.

*cries for Dean*

I love how visceral the whole fic is; I love that John was being his gruff self (the man loves his sons but is shit at being demonstrative) and the whole thing unravelling in Dean's head feels pretty close to character (IMHO).

♥♥♥
i_speak_tongue: fallen heroi_speak_tongue on September 29th, 2010 03:33 am (UTC)
Oh, wow. Thanks so much. *is blushing* Good to know I kept everyone in character, even while using them to rip out hearts!
deangirl1: readingdeangirl1 on September 29th, 2010 09:23 am (UTC)
Really liked this. Beautiful, spare writing that carried a real impact. I think Dean likely carried every failed hunt and perceived failure with him. I adore your portrayal of John here.
i_speak_tongue: grainygreeni_speak_tongue on September 29th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you kindly!
a rearranger of the proverbial bookshelf: Dean & John - heads togetherembroiderama on September 29th, 2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
Aw damn, ouch. Wow. I don't have much of a coherent response to this, but I'm glad to see you back.
i_speak_tongue: leather and lipsi_speak_tongue on September 30th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
Glad to be back! Thanks!
marlowe78: Ouchmarlowe78 on September 29th, 2010 05:49 pm (UTC)
Ouu, good one!
Loved the desolation and the sheer numbness you could feel in every line you wrote.
I don't know if Dean needs more reason than just being himself to be so protective of kids, but I certainly could imagine something like this happening in his life. It was messed-up enough to have happened.

A salad of loose muscles and brains. Body parts all trying to do the same thing: forget, forget, forget. Wondering why he ever remembered in the first place.
This line is made of awesome! "A salad of loose muscles and brains" - great image. I knew right away how he looked :D
i_speak_tongue: amuleti_speak_tongue on September 30th, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much! And yes, sadly, it is totally a possibility. I mean, there has to have been a few brutal cases, where they just couldn't get the job done. Poor boys!
mayhsgirl93mayhsgirl93 on September 29th, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC)
This was good! I love all of your one-shots, and this was just what I was in the mood for.

Thanks!
i_speak_tongue: '73 Johni_speak_tongue on September 30th, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC)
Really? Wow, thanks!
kogsy21kogsy21 on September 29th, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
This is beautiful and haunting and tragic. I loved it - thanks so much for writing and posting this wonderful piece. I wish there was more surrounding it, like it was just a teaser for a larger fic. But it's a snap shot that's amazingly effective by itself - and perfect in that way.
i_speak_tongue: licksi_speak_tongue on September 30th, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! And there is more surrounding it, only it's all in my head! But I like to abbreviate things. That's just how I roll. Lol.
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i_speak_tonguei_speak_tongue on October 2nd, 2010 03:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! Unraveling Dean, it's a hobby of mine!
ℳ.: you know i've been to sea beforemaypoles on March 15th, 2011 10:40 pm (UTC)
Hey, just letting you know that this has been recced here at hoodie_time. ;)
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