out of your calculations (pdragon76) wrote,
out of your calculations

FIC: When The Mirror Is Not Working (Face True North)

Title: When the Mirror Is Not Working (Face True North)
Author: pdragon76
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Gen
Characters: Dean and Sam
Spoilers: All aired epis
Summary: Words are like fissures.
A/N: This is for kimonkey7. As you once told me… I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. Coo coo kachoo. Right back atcha, the Monkeys. Happy Birthday. You and I have had a tough year, but we’re learning. Aren't we clever? For a couple of jackasses, anyway. *makes the circle* Inspiration gleaned from the current found_fic_spnamnesty, challenge #2. Beta'd by three very awesome fangirls, who speedily read a shonky draft and pulled no punches.  Many Dragons kisses to riverbella , july_july_july and chocca2 .

We cannot destroy kindred: our chains stretch a little sometimes, but they never break.
~Marquise de Sévigné

Sometimes his reflection’s a cool salve on burned raw nerves.

He never spent much time in front of mirrors before, but now every peak and gully of his face wants scrutiny, needs exploring. He can send the flat of his fingers across his mouth, then watch them curl and drag beneath the hard angle of his jaw. He can feel the sandpaper-rough of his stubble, see the prickle of a five o’clock shadow, and he can reconcile the sensory data, like aligning tumblers inside a lock.

He looks and looks and looks, and he doesn’t think you can see where he’s been.


A week after they leave Kentucky, he comes unstuck in Bobby’s bathroom.

He can’t hide. Sam’s already hammering on the door. The mirror’s in pieces at his feet, and there’s enough blood that it’s tracking in rivulets down his arm. He twists his elbow to inspect the damage and crimson drizzles from his fingertips like coulis. He knows that should be a problem, but he can’t seem to bend his mind beyond an odd sense of relief.

He can’t hide any of this. He leans on the sink and waits while Sam busts the door catch with a well-placed shoulder.

“Oh, Jesus. Oh, no.” Sam’s voice is wild, but his hands are strong and swift and sure. He snatches a towel from the rail. “Sit down. Get on the floor.”

Dean buckles obediently at the knee and drops to his ass on the tiles. He holds his arms out straight in front of him, so Sam can press the towel where the glass has cut deepest. Dean submits to his brother’s frantic one-handed inspection with closed eyes and pursed lips.

“You’re alright,” Sam decides, when he’s catalogued the collection of lesser slices and nicked knuckles. He turns his attention back to the gash, jostles Dean’s arm until he opens his eyes. “Hey. You okay?”

And Dean thinks he knows how to answer that. He nods and makes the word “yes”.


Words are like fissures. Some words should stay inside you and never be spoken aloud. 

It doesn’t happen all at once. He comes apart in pieces, just like he did down there. The precarious stronghold of sleep fails. Something relentless is always tugging at him. When he wakes in the night he’s possessed of a terrible clarity. He understands everything – all the pointless minutiae of their lives – and it makes him sweat and shake. He has to listen for Sam’s ragged respiratory rumble, school himself back to the starched motel sheets and the lazy tide of the traffic out on the street.

After a while, he can make himself move. In the bathroom he white-knuckles the faucet, can’t find anchor against the persistent sensation of slipping. His thoughts are sluggish, still dark and drenched and weighted with his dreams. He dips his gaze from the wreck of his reflection, shocks himself free of his stupor with a handful of water to the face before he returns to bed.

In the morning he watches himself in the mirror while he cleans his teeth, as though he is a habit that can be relearned through careful observation.


Some things shift violently, without warning. Like tectonic plates.

At a gas station in Kansas City, Dean starts laughing at something that’s not funny, and he can’t stop. Sam leaves him in the car and goes to fill the tank and by the time he gets back, Dean’s not laughing anymore.

“Get out,” Dean says, because Sam’s not supposed to see this. Sam can’t see him like this.

But Sam won’t leave the car. He looks out his window, and shakes his head slowly from side to side like an obstinate child. “No,” he says quietly.

Dean punches the dash with a violence that makes Sam jump. “Get out!” he shouts.

Sam jams his elbow against the driver’s door, sinks down behind the wheel and covers his eyes with his hand.

“No,” he says again, and his voice trembles.


Dean isn’t sure what’s happening.

He doesn’t know why the mirror isn’t working. Or maybe it’s his eyes that won’t make sense. He doesn’t know why he’s crawling across the floor of the motel in the dark. He doesn’t understand the thick echo of sulfur that’s buried deep in his lungs, or why he’s puking up a storm on the threadbare carpet.

Sam seems to have a handle on it, though.  His knees are pressed into the worn weave at Dean’s hip and he has that tone he reserves for people and animals who are better off dead.

Dean’s freezing. He’s really, really cold. Seems like nothing short of hellfire will ever thaw his bones. But Sam’s words are warm puffs at the base of his neck, and after a while, Dean yammers and quakes and shudders himself still inside the vise of his brother’s embrace.


Some things are like words which can’t be unsaid, and the sun comes up regardless.

There are bird noises outside and the kitchen smells like Bobby’s brand of coffee. Dean lets his knuckles whistle along the banister as he tackles the stairs and tracks a series of clumsy sounds to the bathroom. Sam is in there with a power drill. The glass has been swept and the tiles have been cleaned. There’s plaster dust in the sink, and a new mirror on the wall. When Sam turns and sees him standing in the hallway, Dean doesn’t know where to look or what to do with his hands. Sam scratches the back of his head, pokes a finger in the bag of sleeve anchors on the counter.

“I drilled all the holes too big and the plastic whatsits wouldn’t fit,” he confesses. “We should hit the road before the whole thing falls off.”

Dean scratches at the gauze on his forearm, and his smile stutters like a fluorescent tube.

Tags: birthday fic, dean, found_fic, gen, oneshot, sam, spn, the monkeys, writing
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