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the island of conclusions

'The Latest Dream I Ever Dreamt' (SPN Fic)

the island of conclusions

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'The Latest Dream I Ever Dreamt' (SPN Fic)

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Title: ‘The Latest Dream I Ever Dreamt’
Rating: R, het
Pairings: Dean/Erika, Dean/Tessa
Warnings: SPOILERS THROUGH 5.11
Word count: ~3K
Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit.
Summary: Sam was wrong. It wasn’t a good dream.

a/n: title and epigraph from John Keats, “La Belle Dame Sans Merci.”
a/n: from a leftover prompt from the hoodie_time fic challenge: Something causes season 5 Dean to have nightmares about hell again. While he handles it better than before, he tries to hide it from Sam. Sam finds out and is comforting (and gives him much needed hugs). I doubt this is what the prompter had in mind, especially re: the ratio of hurt to hugs. So, apologies in advance…
a/n: I’ve compressed the sequence of days a bit…



“The Latest Dream I Ever Dreamt”

“Oh what can ail thee knight at arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?”


They drove as fast and as far from Ketchum as they could, but just before dawn the exhaustion attendant upon days of being batshit crazy caught up with them. Not sure what the fallout would be from one dead body and two escaped inmates, Dean headed the Impala down a deserted county road and pulled her up on the verge. They couldn’t risk a hotel room until they knew whether or not they were wanted men.

Sam laid claim to the back seat, pulled the edges of his jacket tighter, slipped one hand under his cheek and started snoring right away. Dean twisted around in the front, thinking that he really should have figured out a fool-proof strategy for avoiding the steering wheel and gearshift by now. He was bone tired, but he could still feel the wraith’s crazy juice scouring his veins, making him jittery, tense. It took a pull or three from his hip flask before he could fall into an uneasy, dream-haunted sleep.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

He wandered through a welter of recent memories—Martin’s frightened, hopeful face, Sam’s loopy endearments, the wraith’s piercing shriek as he’d broken off her--her--whatever horrible thing it was. Finally, he came to rest in the cold hospital corridor, the smells of sweat and antiseptic all around him. He watched the patients and staff walk past, his vision slightly askew, feeling bored and anxious in equal measure.

Suddenly, Dr. Cartwright was next to him again. She was standing closer than he remembered, so close the edge of her lab coat brushed against his leg, and a few soft wayward hairs tickled his neck. He didn’t look at her, but he felt oddly aware of her presence, the warmth of her body cutting through the hospital chill.

After a few minutes of companionable silence, she said, “No long term relationships, huh?” so quietly he instinctively tilted his head towards her, ‘til he could almost feel her breath on his cheek. He shook his head, still not looking at her.

“Maybe you just never found the right girl,” she murmured, soft but sure, like she knew him better than he knew himself, “someone to give you a reason to stay in bed, teach you how to lay down that burden.” He did turn his head then, wondering just what kind of therapy this was, and found her looking at him, the sharp lines of her face softened, brown eyes warm with invitation.

She raised her head, tugged lightly on the front of his t-shirt, and brought his lips down to meet hers. Her mouth was warm and pliant, but the contact made him weirdly uneasy for no reason he could think of, maybe just the sense of doctor/patient privilege gone wrong.

But then she slid her tongue between his lips, searching, caressing, and slipped one hand under his shirt, running it over the sensitive skin of his stomach. And it had been a long time since anyone touched him like that. A really long time. Her hand dipped lower, under the waistband of his scrubs, and he let the sensation carry him past his unease.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

A staccato rapping woke him. Sam, tapping on the window, with a toothbrush sticking out of his mouth. Dean untangled himself awkwardly from the contours of the car, regrouping both physically and mentally.

Sam took the toothbrush out of his mouth and said, “Hated to wake you, man--looked like a good dream.” He grinned, “Who was it this time—that blue chick from Avatar?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Dean asked, trying for a self-satisfied smirk, but pretty sure he was failing utterly. He felt a little twist of worry in his gut. Nothing gross or scary had happened, and the kissing had been nice, but for some reason he wasn’t sure Sam was right. Wasn’t sure it had been a good dream.

For one thing, the doctor’s face niggled at him, reminded him of someone else, as though her features had been laid down over an existing template of some kind. For another—hadn’t the shrink been imaginary? The product of whatever poison that monster had given him? And what did it mean to dream about kissing someone who you had made up yourself from whole cloth? Wasn’t that a lot like—?

Okay, he told himself sternly, that’s a line of thought that’s going nowhere, and he bore down on the gas pedal as if stamping it out.

They found a hot spot in the next town they came to and Sam fired up the laptop. No news out of the hospital—apparently they thought calling attention to the recent spate of patient deaths would be a bad thing, had decided to hush them up instead. Pricked by conscience, Dean manufactured an elaborate back story, and called the hospital pretending to be one of Martin’s long-lost relatives. Unless they were lying—and Dean wasn’t sure they weren’t—Dad’s old friend had suffered no ill consequences, was back enjoying the daily round of mental patient life. He allowed himself a sigh of relief.

They drove east all day, and stopped at a non-descript hotel in Kentucky.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Sam was wrong. It wasn’t a good dream.

Erika’s mouth was on his again, and his eyes were closed, but he knew that if he opened them he’d see hellfire beyond the circumference of her face.

Her hand grazed over the arc of his hipbone, the anticipated pleasure of her touch mingling with an unexpected fiery burn. The surprising kick of pain left him instantly, throbbingly hard. Startled, he opened his eyes.

The white skin of her hand, lying along his hip, stood out starkly against the red ruin of his own. His body was shredded by a hundred cuts, muscle and bone partly visible under the flayed skin.

“Don’t,” he said to her, disgusted by the wreckage, and freaked out he could be so turned on, even in that condition, “We can’t—You don’t want—“

“Shh,” she whispered, kneeling now, touching her lips to his belly, “I don’t mind; it won’t last long.”

And sure enough, even as she laid of trail of kisses down his torso, his flesh knit itself together again, smooth and whole under her mouth. He could feel the reversal deep in his soul, the wrongness of it worse than the pain that preceded it, and he desperately wanted Erika to stop. But her tongue was working around the tip of his cock now, her hand stroking between cock and balls, and his objections drowned in a tide of arousal.

Beyond her, he heard Alastair laugh.

“It could all end now,” the demon promised, in his peculiar light, dangerous voice. And Dean knew he didn’t mean the blow job or the torture. He meant the horror of this endless parody of resurrection: the agony of knowing that in Hell there was no natural limit to his pain; no point at which the spirit would be allowed to flee the body.

“No,” he shouted, and then “no,” again, pleading. But he was as helpless against the temptation of infernal immortality as he was against his response to Erica’s clever mouth on his dick.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

“Dean.” A different voice, sharper, said, “Wake up.” Dean gasped and sat bolt upright, panting a little. Sam, take-out coffees in hand, was just kicking the motel room door shut behind him.

“You okay?” Sam asked. Dean nodded, not trusting his voice. Sam handed him one of the coffees. “Happy birthday, man” he said, with a grin that seemed only partly forced.

Shit. He’d forgotten. Thirty-one. Seventy-one, more like it. Old enough for Medicare and the early-bird special under yet another shell of remade flesh, another false new body. He shuddered, remembering the dream.

Sam gave him one of those joke front license plates that said “Over the Hill.” Dean acted suitably incensed, even though the phrase didn’t seem too far off the mark these days.

Bobby called to wish him many happy returns, and Cas even showed up briefly. Dean wouldn’t have thought that birthday greetings were on his angelic to-do list, but he didn’t seem to have any other reason to come stare intently at Dean for a few minutes before flickering off, so he guessed it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility.

All day, though, Dean couldn’t shake the awareness of those extra years stuffed inside his still-not-old body—as if there were two of him in there, maybe more, crowded together and chafing for release, the units of experience straining against the finite span of his earthly days.

Sam took him to a steak house for dinner, and, best birthday present of all, didn’t say a word about the number of double Jacks Dean ordered. Didn’t say anything, either, about him pushing the food around on his plate without eating much, except, “Watching the saturated fats, dude? That’s a probably good idea, at your age.” And even that he said kind of gently.

When they got back to the room, Dean had a few more belts from the bottle that was his present to himself, hoping that would keep the dreams at bay.

It didn’t. The third dream was the worst, although there was nothing of Hell in it at all.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Once again, he was kissing Erika in the hospital corridor, hands brushing over her soft hair.

After a moment, she pulled back, smiling. They weren’t in a hospital any more, but in the wood-paneled hallway of an old house, afternoon sun spilling down the staircase from an upstairs window.

Erika’s face shifted in the light, subtly rearranging itself, like a photograph coming into focus. Her cheeks rounded slightly, as did the smooth curve of her brow; her eyes and lips grew larger, more expressive. Startled, Dean realized who the doctor had reminded him of all along.

“Tessa,” he breathed. And then, surprised into truth, “God, I’ve missed you.”

She took him into her calm gaze. “Dean. How’re things?”

“Same old, same old,” he replied, drinking in her serenity like water, “How ‘bout you?”

“Can’t complain,” her lips quirked, “business is pretty good these days.” He huffed a tiny laugh.

Wordlessly, as if they’d long ago come to some agreement, she took his hand, leading him up the battered staircase to an upstairs room with an old queen bed that dipped in the middle. Faded green curtains hung half-drawn against paired windows, backlit by the mellow sun outside. Neither one of them bothered to draw them closed.

Tessa moved careful fingers over his shirts and jeans, slipping free buttons, deftly working the tongue of his belt, until he stood naked before her. Her own clothes fell away at a thought. Gently, she pushed him back onto the worn quilt and straddled him, supporting herself with a hand on each side of his face as she bent to kiss him again.

Her bare skin against his own felt better, more right, than anything had for a long time—like the elements of a spell coming together, like breaking a code.

She guided him inside her, and moved with him gently until he caught her rhythm. They were barely touching now, except where they were joined, but a sense of profound connection enveloped him nonetheless; he could barely tell where he stopped and she began. Stung by the wonder of it, he reached between her legs, found her clit; she leaned into his touch, bore down a little harder as she rocked into him.

Tessa made no noise when she came, just tightened around him, and canted her head towards the ceiling, lips parting and white throat arching back. He followed the smooth, perfect curves of her body up to her face; she looked lit from within, caught by a fierce ecstasy that seemed hardly to do with sex. Her joy and freedom pulled him over the edge too, and he climaxed in a white rush that seemed to shake him out of his body, leave him floating and, finally, at peace.

He half expected her to leave right after, but she brushed her lips over his, and settled herself next to him, nudging her knees under his and tucking her head under his chin. He ran a cautious hand through her hair, obscurely worried that she might carry the scents of her profession with her. But she smelled, surprisingly, of wide open spaces, like the faint salty tang of an empty beach as the tide came up.

Reassured, lulled by some memory of ocean breezes, he closed his eyes.

When he opened them again, she was already dressed, just turning away from the bed. Loss stabbed through him like a knife, and he couldn’t help the strangled noise he made as he called her name.

She looked back, and he could see pity surfacing in her eyes. “Don’t go,” he said, “or—will you—will you take me with you—“ He cut himself off, shocked at the bare desperation of his entreaty.

“No,” she said, with a terrible kindness, “you know I can’t offer you that. That path is not open to you now.” And, with a last fond half-smile, she turned her back on him and walked away, leaving him devastated by the loss of something for which he had no words.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

He woke with cum on his stomach and tears on his face—wretchedly, wretchedly alive.

Pressing his lips tight over the miserable sound he wanted to make, Dean eased himself out of bed, grateful that the dream hadn’t been noisy enough to wake Sam. Small mercies. Moving through the dark, he slipped off his boxers, wadded them into a ball, and shoved them into his duffel, grabbing some he hoped were clean. In the bathroom, still in the dark, he tried to clean himself off with shaking hands.

Then he inched himself through the gloom to where he remembered the whiskey bottle was standing on the table. But his hands hadn’t quit shaking, and the bottle knocked against the table loud enough to finally wake Sam, who flicked on the bedside light, and ran an appraising look over his brother’s wet face.

Sam came over and took the bottle out of Dean’s suddenly useless fingers, disappeared, and came back with a glass of water instead. Only after he threw a blanket over Dean’s shoulders, and did Dean realize he was shivering.

Then Sam sat down across from him, rested his crossed forearms on the table, and looked at him earnestly.

“What is it, dude?” he asked, “still thinking about the loony bin?”

Dean shook his head.

“About—you know—down under?”

Dean shrugged, noncommittally, the cords in his throat hurting too much to speak.

“Well, what then? Seriously, man, this has been going on for days. It’s like last year all over again.” Sam’s voice was steady, but Dean could see something in his eyes—fear maybe, and why not? Look where they’d ended up last year.

Dean wished he could lie to Sam, keep things from him. He remembered being better at that. But that capacity, like so much else, had been stripped from him. He drew a breath. “You remember last year? The Reaper—Tessa?”

“Yeah?” Sam looked wary.

“I was dreaming about her. And we—“

Sam held up a warning hand, “Yeah. No need to over-share, alright?”

Dean almost smiled. “Okay, but after—I wanted—I wanted so much—“ his voice broke, and he gulped down a knot of something in his throat, “But I couldn’t. She wouldn’t let me,” he swallowed again, “I mean, Sam, you gotta know that I would never—I could never leave you, or Bobby, or Cas like that. It’s just—thinking that I maybe can’t. Not in Hell—not here. It changes things….” He trailed off.

“Yeah, it does,” Sam said, with such heartfelt sympathy Dean found the courage to go on.

“I know I said we’d keep each other human--but how can we be human when—when we can’t—“

Unexpectedly, Sam lifted a long arm towards him across the table. Dean started to flinch away, but Sam only brushed his cheek with a calloused thumb, smoothing over a tear. Dean couldn’t remember the last time his brother had been so gentle.

“We’re still human,” Sam said, leaving his hand on Dean’s face a moment longer, “when the tears stop, then we’ll worry.” He took his hand away, “C’mon, it’s only 3:00, we can get a few more hours in.”

He tugged at Dean’s bicep, getting him up. But Dean must have still been muzzy from the dream, because he half-tripped over the blanket, and when Sam steadied him, they fell against each other. Without really meaning to, they ended up in an awkward hug.

There was no part of Sam that wasn’t rough and scarred and profoundly not at peace. He smelled of the closed-in spaces in which they lived—the car, and musty hotel rooms. But despite everything that had happened, he was solid through and through, and for a moment, Dean couldn’t help himself, he clung.

Sam’s arms came up around him, tentatively at first, as if worried he would spook, but then more firmly, bracing his shoulders, holding him steady.

“Hey,” Sam said, after a moment, “I mean it. Let’s get some sleep. It’s all gonna look better in the morning.”

Was there ever any sweeter lie than that? Dean thought, as he let his brother steer him back to bed. And yet Sam’s words might as well have been a warding spell, because he slept the clean sleep of the living for the rest of the night.

fin

  • (no subject) -
  • OH, this was lovely!
  • The hug was exquisitely done - it captured their S5 vibe and was so bittersweet somehow. And the way you used Tessa and Erika was highly original - bravo!
    • Thanks! and phew--it was really hard to figure out how to get them to hug--they've been doing so little of it lately...but I gotta believe they still have some hugs in them!

      I've never really ventured into writing het before, so I'm glad Tessa and Erika worked okay for you--

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
  • (no subject) -
    • Thanks! I was thinking of the scene in 4.20 (?), where Dean dreams about sitting by a lake, fishing...so I was thinking he would imagine peace/release/death as open space....
  • This is really fantastic! Dean's dreams are creepy and very effective, and gentle!Sam is just... SIGH. I love him.

    I feel like this fic has all Dean's post-hell angst I loved from s4 that I wish they'd carried over more to s5, and all the gentle!Sam s4 didn't have much of at all, and the result is one awesome s5 fic. Thank-you!
    • I'm so glad you enjoyed it! (and that you found it creepy--I was trying for that, but it's a new thing for me...)

      I'm so with you in wishing we'd see more of the post-hell after effects in S5 (maybe especially those extra years)! And we've seen so little of gentle!Sam this season (or last) that writing him felt almost OOC *weeps* But I decided he was still in there somewhere, and I was going to pry him out!

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
  • Great take on the prompt! The dreams were deliciously ambiguous and vaguely disturbing, and the ending was heart-breaking. I really like the idea of Dean dreaming he has sex with Tessa to symbolize his wish for death (and not only for the obvious reasons!).
    • I'm so glad you enjoyed it! (and is it weird that I'm glad you found it a little disturbing? I was trying for that, but it's a new thing for me). I love the Dean/Tessa pairing too, maybe best of all the girls he's been "involved" with--and not just because she represents his death wish either--despite this fic!

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
  • This is creepy and somehow kind of lovely -- and even creepier for its loveliness. The dreams are sexy in the most disturbing way, desire for something beyond sex, much darker... wonderful job. Thanks.
    • The dreams are sexy in the most disturbing way, desire for something beyond sex, much darker
      Oh, this is exactly what I was aiming for--I'm thrilled it came across that way!

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
  • Loved this. Really loved it. I'm like this closet Dean/Tessa shipper or something and this just clicked so well.

    And the ending ... the line about the lie? So lovely.

    • I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I think I'm a Dean/Tessa shipper too--I watched 4.15 again to write this, and their chemistry is so great (even aside from the whole explicit death wish thing!).

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
  • This was achingly beautiful. Read it once and had to go back and read it immediately again. Just lovely, lyrical writing. Thank you.
    • Thanks! (I guess all it took for my SPN muse to get going again was some angsty dream het--who knew? *g*)

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting--I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
  • this is really quite beautiful hunny! the way you melded Erika and Tessa seemed both eerie and sweet, and I think you captured so well that creepy, unsettling feeling you get after coming out of a particularly sensational dream. and i loved sam's little moment with dean at the end, just the right amount of awkwardness to still be in character, with just the right amount of schmoop we've all been hoping for ;O) bravo, bravo!!! love, love LOVE :)
    • Gosh, thanks so much for the lovely feedback! I'm so glad the ending worked for you--it was hard to figure out how to get it right!

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
  • Lovely and sad and lovely.
  • This is really, really quite good. Original and disturbing, but in a haunting sort of way. That little moment between the boys was perfectly done - understated, sharp, and with just the perfect dash of hesitation and sweetness. Good stuff!
    • I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And kind of glad you found it a little disturbing--I was trying for that, but it's a new thing for me. And glad the end worked for you--it was hard to figure out how to get it right--

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
  • I really like this. I've always thought Dean had a particular flirtation with death in the form of Tessa. One of my favorite characters by the way.

    That was also a really clever connection you made between Erica and Tessa's looks and how Dean's subconscious may well look like his reaper. Very nicely done. Thank you.
    • I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I love Tessa too--I watched 4.15 again to write this, and they have great chemistry (and there's that little moment when Dean holds his hand over his chest and says something "I was missing something, and it was you" *sniff*). But a lot of his "attachments" are linked up with death in some way, especially the imaginary ones--like Carmen in WIAWSNB and the way Lisa Braeden shows up again in DALDOM....

      Anyway--thanks so much for reading and commenting!
  • Lovely. And so wistful!
  • (no subject) - hamster16us
    • :D I'm totally flattered that you did so! Thanks so much for reading and commenting--I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
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