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FIC: Shelf Life

Constantine - magic's quite simple
Title: Shelf Life
Characters, Pairings: Dean Winchester. As gen as I get. References to Dean/Castiel.
Summary: If he just kept that mouth shut a little more often. If he just smiled and nodded when he damn well fucking shoulda, maybe, just maybe, they wouldn't be here right now.
Length: 1,500 words
A/N: 5.04 fic, so click accordingly. For satsuki_angel. Thank you, rejeneration and mickeym, for looking this over for me. Cut tag from urban folklore.



When it says it's not a thing, or a shifter, or a demon, Dean already knows. He's done all the usual shit, the holy water, chalk lines on the floor and the waxy smell of the blessed candles.

It coughs, licks too-pink, puffy lips. "Fuck, was it necessary to shove the salt down my throat?" and no, it probably wasn't, but Dean had to be sure.

Human; he's entirely human, and that makes Dean wary, itchy under the skin. Thinking of him as an it had been much more comforting.

"I'm you," his almost twin says, "except from 2009," and Dean sighs, rubs his face, feels the headache start uncoiling somewhere deep inside.

"OK. You're me. Fine. Tell me something only I would know."

He listens to the story about the panties like it happened to someone else. In the recesses of his mind, he knows it's absolutely, one hundred percent true, down to the feeling of slinky, soft pink satin sliding up his legs, stretching over his ass, smelling of warm, clean girl like he hasn't smelled in longer than he can count. It feels irrelevant, inconsequential. Pointless.

It might as well have happened to another person.

"OK," Dean says again, because this isn't the story anyone trying to get to him would choose. "Say I believe you. So, how did you end up here?"

When the doppelganger says, "Zachariah," it feels like a betrayal. Like a fucking stab in the back, because he'd probably be happier seeing Zachariah, even now. For all that they still wouldn't see anything remotely eye to eye, for all that they still wouldn't have a damn thing to say to each other, it would still mean something. Something Dean hesitates to call hope, because if he had anything to hope for, Zachariah would have come himself. Not sent him here, this freckle-cheeked, soft-lipped thing. "Sarah Palin's president," says the thing – Dean, his brain helpfully supplies, Dean Winchester, son of John, son of Mary, brother –

"Sarah Palin? Seriously?" the doppelganger says again, makes a face like it fucking matters.

Like presidents or senates or parliaments or kings still matter at all. So the president of a handful of guys holed up in a bunker somewhere votes Republican. Not like the bloodthirsty mutants outside give a good goddamn.

Dean leaves his double cuffed to the pipe, angrily rattling the chain, booted feet scrabbling at the floor, says he doesn't want his people having the Parent Trap experience, and wonders where the hell that came from. He can't remember when he would have seen the Parent Trap last, maybe caught the ass-end of it in a motel room sometime in two-thousand-something, maybe the remake with Lindsay Lohan, maybe the original, with that blond chick who grew up into Miss Bliss on Saved by the Bell, and he thinks he maybe saw a rerun of that sometime in the mid-nineties. The last movie he really remembers watching is The Fifth Element, on Sgt. Cameron's little personal DVD player, before he put his foot down and requisitioned the batteries for bigger and better things.

That was in 2011. Cameron kicked it in '12.

Just knowing he's got his double locked up in the shed makes Dean antsy, uneasy, fingers jumpy over his holster.

When he sees him running loose, he almost slips on the trigger, and for a painfully long second, entertains the thought of feeding the gun right into that perpetually half-opened, slutty, idiot mouth. Bang. Wonders if he'd even get enough time to see the doppelganger fall down before he up and pops out of existence.

Probably not. That would be too fucking much to ask for.

Because no matter how many times Dean says, "You ain't me," no matter how much he repeats, "You don't know a thing I know," no matter how true all that may be, deep down, they're the same man, blood to bones, son of John, son of Mary, brother of – brother of – and he almost pulls the trigger then, too, because it's all Dean Winchester's fault.

If he just kept that mouth shut a little more often. If he just smiled and nodded when he damn well fucking shoulda, maybe, just maybe, they wouldn't be here right now.

He'll learn, Dean tells himself. Oh, he'll learn. He'll have to. Provided Zachariah, or whoever, still gives enough of a damn to throw that Dean Winchester back into his own time. Otherwise, a couple of days, and the timelines will do that irrevocable consistency paradox thing, throw the both of them somewhere into limbo or oblivion.

Sam would know how to explain it better, Dean thinks. Sam would know just the right words, maybe even the name of the scientist. Sam always thought he knew everything, but, of course, Sam isn't here.

And he ain't going down into oblivion without him.

"So, Cas," his doppelganger asks, "the hell is wrong with him? What's he, stoned all the time now?"

"Mm-hmm," Dean shrugs noncommittally and doesn't say anything more. He's fucking learned to keep his mouth shut now, when needed. But it still makes him feel a kind of sickly satisfied to watch the double's confusion as he listens to Castiel chat up his girls.

Yeah, sweetheart, he thinks, this is the angel who fell for us. And wasn't that worth it.

He and Castiel fucked once, about two and a half years ago. "I just gotta know what it feels like," Castiel explained, like it was the most normal thing in the world, wagging a bottle of lube in the air, and Dean wondered where the hell he'd had it squirreled away. At that point, it was easier to just smile and nod than try to explain to the angel why he really, really didn't feel like it.

"Well?" he asked after, rolling off the grimy mattress and tucking his shirt into his jeans.

"Yeah, alright," Castiel said thoughtfully, stretching out on his back. "It's not without its charm, but I can probably live without ever doing it again."

The doppelganger doesn't understand.

No. No, they're not the same man. They can't be, Dean decides, and rubs his hand absently over the worn, comforting grip of his Glock.

"Oh, so we're torturing again," the doppelganger says, his ridiculous pink mouth stretching into a judgmental smirk, and shit, it's been years since anyone dared tell him his mouth would look perfect stuffed full of dick. Torturing again, like it's a wagon to fall off of, like the double knows a thing about it. Like the double knows even a fraction of what Dean's had to learn.

Dean knows exactly how long they have – 2 hours and just under 15 minutes, before it's too late to shoot the poor bastard who's gone and gotten himself infected.

He knows the little twitches, the subtle, minute tics – nerve, muscle, skin – as they change. Die. Change again.

He knows that the shelf life of a Twinkie isn't actually five, or ten, or twenty years. Contrary to urban legend, snack cakes rot just as well as everything else. No, if you want to stockpile non-perishables, you're better off with plain old canned goods. Not that those are eternal, either.

He knows what it's like to look in his brother's eyes and see something else inside. Something dark and alien and hopelessly, thoroughly evil. Risen from hell and wearing Sam like a fucking tuxedo. And to be fair, the other Dean knows that, too, the little niggling voice pipes up inside his head, and Dean fists his fingers together, rough nails gritting into skin, skin going thin and taut and pale.

"Well, he doesn't fucking know it like I do," he snarls, and that's when the doppelganger opens his mouth again.

"Doesn't know what?"

He's bruising his knuckles on the doppelganger's mouth before he's even aware he's moved. Before he has any idea how badly he's wanted to do it for the last five years.

It kicks out with its legs, shoves a hard, bony knee into Dean's stomach. Bashes an elbow into his face, and Dean bashes back, again and again, feeling soft, swelling flesh split and bleed under his fists, as its steel-toed boot pounds him in the kneecap, as it stupidly tries, again and again, to throw him off. Still pretending it has the power to change a goddamn thing.

Still trying to convince himself he matters.

His hands are raw, the skin dark and angry-red when he pulls back, and Dean's cheekbones are mottling black and blue already, left eye aching and swelling shut. His bottom lip is bloody over his red-stained teeth, metallic salt taste bursting over his tongue as he leans down, licks the trickle of blood from Dean's chin, covers his lips with his own hurting mouth.

"What the fuck," his double grunts when he comes up for air. Dean shrugs and looks away.

"I just gotta know what it feels like."

Comments

( 61 comments — Leave a comment )
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crimsonkitty88
Oct. 6th, 2009 04:37 am (UTC)
oh lordy. That was intense. Loved it.
cormallen
Oct. 7th, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks, honey. I dunno, seeing 2014!Dean just broke me.
mickeym
Oct. 6th, 2009 04:41 am (UTC)
*sighs* Poor Dean. Both of them, but future!Dean in particular :(

Still just as awesome as when you told me the idea, darlin'. Sharp, and raw, like Dean's fist to the other Dean's mouth.
cormallen
Oct. 7th, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks for all your help -- and for reading it again, darlin'. Thinking about future!Dean just _breaks_ me.
obeetaybee
Oct. 6th, 2009 04:44 am (UTC)
Holy crap, this gave me goose bumps. Hurty and angtsy and fucking awesome!
cormallen
Oct. 7th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm really glad it worked for you. I just couldn't stop thinking about future!Dean since I saw the ep, and this kinda happened.
locknkey
Oct. 6th, 2009 05:04 am (UTC)
You definitely captured the broken nature of future Dean here. I particularly liked how he couldn't even bear to think of himself and Sam in the same thought.
cormallen
Oct. 7th, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I just couldn't stop thinking about how _broken_ he was, even since I saw the episode. Hence, this.
laulan
Oct. 6th, 2009 07:39 am (UTC)
Ouch, this is punch-to-the-mouth intense. I love it; so quietly horrifying and so very well done. Wonderful job.
cormallen
Oct. 7th, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I dunno, seeing future!Dean just broke me; I couldn't stop thinking about it since I saw the ep. So this just kind of happened.
jamesinboots
Oct. 6th, 2009 08:16 am (UTC)
This was so, so good. OOF.
cormallen
Oct. 7th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks, hon! I'm especially glad you gave it a try even with the Dean/Castiel warning on there (and believe me, there are very few ways I can stomach D/C).
iluvsockz
Oct. 6th, 2009 09:48 am (UTC)
this was really, really good.
cormallen
Oct. 7th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it worked for you! Thank you for reading.
nomelon
Oct. 6th, 2009 09:56 am (UTC)
Oh, that hurt, but it was so nice.
cormallen
Oct. 7th, 2009 06:01 pm (UTC)
I just couldn't stop thinking about how _broken_ future!Dean was, ever since I saw the episode. And this just happened. I'm really glad it worked for you, hon!
smilla02
Oct. 6th, 2009 10:05 am (UTC)
Gorgeous.
cormallen
Oct. 7th, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you! *blushes*
erda_3
Oct. 6th, 2009 11:25 am (UTC)
This is so true to the Dean(s) I love.
cormallen
Oct. 7th, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)
I'm really glad you think so! I just couldn't stop thinking about future!Dean since I saw the ep, how horribly broken he was, and, so, this happened.
fromyourashes
Oct. 6th, 2009 12:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, baby. Your writing kills me, every single time. Gorgeous. Oh, Dean.
cormallen
Oct. 7th, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
He is just so... BROKEN. So, so, horribly broken. I couldn't stop thinking about it, since seeing the ep, so, this happened. I don't even know. Thank you, honey.
rejeneration
Oct. 6th, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC)
It's perfect. You got every bit of all my thinky in the beta, honey, but I am so in love with the whole vibe because you NAILED future!Dean. The fucking is in the words and it makes the whole thing violently erotic.
cormallen
Oct. 7th, 2009 06:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you again for the beta, dearest. I still kind of can't stop thinking how horribly, irrevocably broken Dean was in the ep. And how the sexual references we saw, with Risa, with the panties, with whoever's tent he'd spent the night in, felt so... IDK, irrelevant, so _small_ -- inconsequential. A front for something fundamentally shattered.

<333
fleshflutter
Oct. 6th, 2009 01:54 pm (UTC)
Oooh that was AWESOME. I really do love future!Dean and all his issues. <3
cormallen
Oct. 7th, 2009 06:10 pm (UTC)
I couldn't stop thinking about how broken future!Dean was, since seeing the ep, and this just... happened. I'm really glad you liked it!
withdiamonds
Oct. 6th, 2009 02:50 pm (UTC)
I don't know who's more horrified by whom, future!Dean or present!Dean. This captured future!Dean in all his fabulous fucked-up-ness. Great job.
cormallen
Oct. 8th, 2009 02:30 am (UTC)
Thank you! I dunno, seeing future!Dean just broke me. I couldn't stop thinking about how bleak that future was, hence... this. I'm really glad it worked for you!
maerhys
Oct. 6th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
This is beautiful --- the hurt and pain are so spot-on and nothing is gratuitous. ♥
cormallen
Oct. 8th, 2009 02:33 am (UTC)
Thank you! Ever since seeing the ep, I just couldn't stop thinking about how broken Dean was, how bleak the future was, how difficult it'll be to prevent. And this came out of all of that. I'm really glad it worked for you, hon.

<3
chemm80
Oct. 6th, 2009 03:33 pm (UTC)
Interesting, is future Dean, but I'm not sure I really want to know everything that goes on in that boy's head. It was both hot and cool seeing the two Deans together, but so sad, you know? And I've really almost shied away from what it must be like inside future!Dean's head. Great job at looking into that dark place here.

I can't really explain why I think this part is so perfect:

He knows what it's like to look in his brother's eyes and see something else inside. Something dark and alien and hopelessly, thoroughly evil. Risen from hell and wearing Sam like a fucking tuxedo. And to be fair, the other Dean knows that, too, the little niggling voice pipes up inside his head, and Dean fists his fingers together, rough nails gritting into skin, skin going thin and taut and pale.

"Well, he doesn't fucking know it like I do," he snarls, and that's when the doppelganger opens his mouth again.

"Doesn't know what?"

He's bruising his knuckles on the doppelganger's mouth before he's even aware he's moved. Before he has any idea how badly he's wanted to do it for the last five years.


...I guess it's that the whole story is about Dean hating himself for what he couldn't do more than what he's done and this part just pulls it all together so very subtly. It sneaks up on you and hits you when you aren't expecting it...anyway, I'm sure there's a more "literary" way to put it, but this is how I want to write. Great job.
cormallen
Oct. 8th, 2009 02:35 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm really glad this worked for you. Ever since seeing the episode, I just couldn't stop thinking about how _broken_ Dean was. How much self-loathing there was, in both of them, how much desperation -- yet only one of them would ever have a chance for an out.
neros_violin
Oct. 6th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)
Poor Dean... Dean(s)! I really liked the style of this - it was tight and matched the story perfectly.

Also... the idea of actually being able to beat oneself up is both appealing and tragic. Love it.
cormallen
Oct. 8th, 2009 02:37 am (UTC)
I just couldn't stop thinking about how broken the two of them were, ever since seeing the ep. I'm really glad the fic worked for you; thank you!
giandujakiss
Oct. 6th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
Oh god, this is agonizing. Your portrait of future Dean is scarily believable and really, really painful.
cormallen
Oct. 8th, 2009 02:42 am (UTC)
I just couldn't stop thinking about how irrevocably, fully broken Future!Dean was in that episode. I'm really glad the fic worked for you.
nitro26
Oct. 6th, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, Dean. This was amazing and stunning and gorgeous. Thank you for sharing. ♥
cormallen
Oct. 8th, 2009 02:43 am (UTC)
I'm really glad this worked for you! Thank you for reading.
satsuki_angel
Oct. 6th, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, dear, it's PERFECT!
Help me, I got VIRUS CAPSLOCK! But it's fucking AWESOME!
I am in love with this story. Thank you so much!!!
cormallen
Oct. 8th, 2009 02:45 am (UTC)
Hee, nothing wrong with a spot of CAPSLOCK VIRUS. Thank you for reading, hon -- I'm so glad the fic worked for you!
oschun
Oct. 6th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
Wow. This hurts. Love the jaded, rough-edged voice in this and the way that he despises and distances himself from what he was. Very, very Dean.
cormallen
Oct. 8th, 2009 02:47 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm really glad this Dean worked for you. Seeing him like this in the ep just broke me.
doctor_dorothy
Oct. 7th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
Loved this! Such an excellent look inside the very twisted psyche of future!Dean.
cormallen
Oct. 8th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)
Thank you! Seeing Dean like this in the episode just _broke_ me; I couldn't stop thinking about it. I'm really glad the resulting fic worked for you!
lotrabc
Oct. 7th, 2009 03:18 am (UTC)
Wow, I enjoyed this more than I did the actual episode! The whole fic was quite like a punch itself, tight and violent, chock full of self-loathing. So excellent.
cormallen
Oct. 8th, 2009 02:51 am (UTC)
I just couldn't get over how _broken_, how thoroughly miserable Dean was in the episode. I couldn't stop thinking about it, and I'm really glad the resulting fic worked for you. Thank you for reading, hon, especially since the episode wasn't your favorite.
electricalgwen
Oct. 7th, 2009 03:57 am (UTC)
"...deep down, they're the same man, blood to bones, son of John, son of Mary, brother of – brother of – and he almost pulls the trigger then, too, because it's all Dean Winchester's fault."

OW. Beautiful. This has a marvelous, tightly-wound feel. I love how future!Dean keeps referring to his past self as "it", and how much he despises him(self). Fantastic writing and so in character.
cormallen
Oct. 8th, 2009 02:53 am (UTC)
I'm really glad this Dean rang true to you. Ever since seeing the ep, I just couldn't stop thinking about how broken, how thoroughly miserable the future version of him was. Thank you for reading!
nyoka
Oct. 8th, 2009 12:28 am (UTC)
Awesome fic. Just wanted to let you know I recced this here.
cormallen
Oct. 8th, 2009 02:36 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading, and for the rec, hon! I'm really glad it worked for you.
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Constantine - magic&#39;s quite simple
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