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Title from--well, if you don't know, ask your parents!

This is probably AU, based on the CW promos for season 6, but I don't care! 

Disclaimer:  All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended

The first week passed in a blur.  Dean didn’t remember much about it…just that every time he surfaced from the blackness that enveloped him, Lisa was there, holding him, stroking his hair, murmuring soft words.  He’d never had that before, had never been able to show weakness before, never had anyone to comfort him, and paradoxically, it made him uncomfortable, with an unnerving feeling of mingled sadness and relief and anger.  But sooner or later, the blackness always returned.




By the second week, he was able to think more, see more outside of his own pain.  He could see the worry in Lisa’s eyes, and so he tried to be normal…tried to *pretend* to be normal, for her sake, and for Ben’s.  He got up, walked around, pretended to eat, kept the liquor bottles hidden in the car so Ben wouldn’t see.  He could hear Lisa whispering explanations to her son, and felt humiliated that he had to be explained.  He knew she wanted some explanation herself, wanted him to tell her what had happened, why he was being so…unlike himself… but he couldn’t.  Not yet.  After a while, she sighed and hugged him wordlessly and stopped asking.


Bobby called every few days at first, checking up on him, Dean figured, making sure he hadn’t done anything monumentally stupid; but Dean reassured him.  He’d made a promise.  And his word was good.




In the third week, he tried to join in the family activities.  He took Ben to the park, only to sink onto the benches when his knees unexpectedly wobbled at inconvenient times.  He remembered this from Sa…from the time after Jessica, the physical reactions to grief, so, even though it had never happened to him before, he figured maybe it was a family weakness, and decided he could overcome it.  If Sa…if others could do it, so could he. 


He was beginning to recognize the family schedule of work, school, soccer games, boy scouts—all the things he’d only seen from the outside.  He heard Lisa’s excuses to friends who phoned for lunch dates, dinner parties, bridge games, and felt vaguely guilty, knowing that he was the reason why Lisa’s life was on hold.  He told her to go out and have fun and not to worry about him. 


He started taking long drives alone, and if he ended up at a bar in the next town, whose business was it but his own? 




In the fourth week, Lisa began acting snappish.  She nagged him about the toilet seat, about leaving his dirty clothes around the room, about his sitting around and not doing enough to help.  She rebuffed his attempts at apology, and slept, huddled in a small ball with her back to him, as far away as she could get on the other side of the bed.  Any attempts at touching her led to growls, snarls or snaps, and he eventually gave up and went to sleep in the car. 


After three days of self-imposed isolation, Lisa tapped on the door one night with a sheepish smile and a freshly-baked pie in one hand.  He warily followed her inside, where Ben was watching worriedly. 


She was extra affectionate that night, as if trying to make up for the days of hell before, and he was tempted to whisper “Christo” in her ear, but he didn’t, just accepted her, “sorry, you understand…” even though he didn’t.  And made a mental note to keep a closer eye on her, to watch for signs of possession or something simple like bipolar disorder. 




After six weeks, Lisa’s smile was starting to dim, and the worried looks were taking over.  She started dropping hints about jobs and too much television being bad for Ben.  He nodded and turned the TV off and went to sit in the Impala.


Things started to become uncomfortable.  He was at a loss, didn’t know what to do with himself, especially when Ben was in school and Lisa at work.  He took long walks and watched other families from a distance and wondered what everyone else had that he was lacking. 


Lisa wouldn’t let him bring his weapons into the house and so he cleaned them in the back of the car at night when no one could see, in case the neighbors became suspicious.   The sex, while still spectacular, became less frequent, with Lisa claiming to be exhausted when she came home from work, and worrying about Ben overhearing at night.  Sex became something that had to be planned, instead of spontaneous, and Dean felt the loss keenly. 




It took a few more weeks before the worried glances started becoming impatient.  Before the gentle hints about “jobs” and “helping out” became more pointed suggestions about “counseling” and “AA.”  Before he worked out the cycle of Lisa’s mood swings and realized the cause, since he’d never had to deal with that before.


Before the emptiness inside started to be filled with anger.  Before he identified the feeling of *trapped.*




It was four months into his exile when Castiel showed up at Lisa’s door.  It was so startling, so unexpected, that it took Dean a few minutes to manage the introductions.  Lisa seemed thrilled to have a quiet, well-dressed, respectable friend of Dean’s come to visit and left them alone to talk while she took Ben to a movie.


“What is it now?” Dean asked, and was vaguely amused at the flash of confusion on the angel’s face before understanding cleared it. 


“We need your help,” Cas said. 


Dean was wary, and hopeful, and angry, seeing the end of his attempt at normalcy.  “I’m not a hunter any more,” he said flatly.  “What can I help with?”


“With Sam,” Cas said; and all the soft focus grays and browns that had been Dean’s existence for the past few months suddenly sharpened into brilliant, vivid color.    


“He’s out?”  The words were almost a prayer.




And Dean took his first deep breath in four months. 




Whatever had happened, whatever shape Sam was in, it didn’t matter. He was safe, and everything else could be fixed.  Dean would take care of it.  It was his job.

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