Categories > TV > Supernatural > Four Cuts

Four Cuts

by ingrid 1 review

Shadow demons can't leave marks that aren't already there. (Post "Shadow")

Category: Supernatural - Rating: R - Genres: Angst, Drama - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2006-04-24 - Updated: 2006-04-25 - 1586 words - Complete

Four Cuts
by ingrid


It's several hours later before Dean notices the deva's left its mark on him.

Four deep cuts slanted across his forehead, angry red, spread wide and bloody. He takes a few minutes to examine the mutilated skin in the mirror, making sure there's nothing damaged that can't be healed, nothing taken that he might need later on, like part of his eye or ear.

There are legends that say shadow demons can't leave marks on you that aren't already there, that they only bring forth what lies beneath and Dean thinks there might be some truth to that, but at the moment he's too tired to care.

If Dean were vain, he might care about them as they are sure to scar, but maintenance of a pretty mug isn't one of the things that keeps him up at night.

He'll leave that as one of Sammy's problems.

Scotch is as good an antiseptic as any other, especially for his split lip where it burns sour against the rawness. After a while, it's better than good, warming him in places that have grown freezing cold the moment Dad turned his back and left them.

Vaguely, Dean wonders if he'll ever be truly warm again.

"I can't sleep," said Sammy when they came in. He was out cold ten minutes later, leaving Dean to sit by the window, drink and watch him breathe.

Inhale ... exhale ... and Dean's eyes never leave Sam's chest, even when his glass runs dry. He waits to pour more as there's no hurry.

Time spent alone is something he's got more than enough of coming down the road.

Time spent watching Sammy is precious, because Dean knows this is going to come to an end, sooner or later.

And not because Sam wants to go. Because he doesn't, not really, as much as he moans about wanting a normal life.

Sam's leaving because Dean's going to force him to, kick him out of the life for his own good and Dean is going to die when that happens, but there'll be no stopping it.

Because that's what's best for him and Dean always does what's best for Sam.

If one goes by deva legend, that will be the deepest, most painful, cut of all.

By Dean's drunken estimation, the other three cuts have already happened. Mom leaving them was the beginning of one, because yes, being murdered is the same as leaving to a small child, as cruel and unfair as that sounds.

Moms need to be there, always, no matter what. For a long time Dean resented her for being killed, resented having to cook scrambled eggs while standing on a stool and watch his numb father mindlessly shove them into his mouth, while Sammy cried in his high chair all morning long.

Resented having to be mature before he could spell the word and when the anger was redirected to its rightful place -- toward the bastard demon that took her -- that's when the second angry cut was born.

It's the only cut Dean is proud to bear; the one scar he's happy to keep.

Then there's the cut of not having a sane father's love, but that's tempered with understanding.

He knows his dad, respects him even as he sometimes fears his madness and rage. For Dean knows that this could one day be his own lot in life -- if it's not already. Deep inside, Dean wants to be sane, is not sure he'll manage it and every time Dad leaves, there's no longer a yardstick of insanity he can measure himself against.

This is why Dad can never leave for good, but he will and that's the day Dean will lose his mind.

There's the cut of the life he'll never have. A life of school and friends and maybe a nice job somewhere in a tidy cubicle, with co-workers who annoy him and call him 'Dean-o.'

Maybe there's a wife in there somewhere, surrounded by little babies whom he'll adore and carry on his shoulders to the Grand Canyon and point to the cliffs so far away, watching their eyes grow wide with wonder.

They'll grow up, but stay close by, because what's the point of having a family if they go where you can't see them anymore. You're supposed to be with your family, be warmed and loved by them and never leave them, except when you die an old and happy man.

Dean ignores this cut most of the time. It's more an annoyance than real pain, an itch versus a wound and he doesn't have time for crap like that anyway. Sammy's the one built for the picket fence and if Dean's lucky, maybe he'll get to visit once in a while.


In the bed, Sammy stirs. Dean quickly looks away and reaches for the bottle, pretending that's what he's been doing all along.

Sammy peers at him through the early morning gloom, his voice hoarse. "What time is it?"

"I dunno. Dawn almost," Dean lies. He knows it's exactly 5:49 am because his internal clock is that finely honed, but it would freak Sammy out to hear that, so he pretends otherwise. "Go back to sleep."

"Can't sleep."

"You said that before and you've done fine so far. Go back to sleep."

"Why do you think Dad left, really?" Sammy's eyes are wet when he asks this and Dean has to look slightly past him, just to be able to breathe through the tightness in his throat. "He doesn't trust us, does he? Thinks were more of a burden than help, right?"

"What?" Dean shakes his head, still unable to meet Sam's eyes. "Dad left because of exactly what we talked about. He needs his focus. That's all. Go back to sleep."

Sammy continues, undaunted. "Because I want you -- you and Dad -- to know that I'm committed to this now. I'm here, with the family, with our business, one hundred percent."

"Right. I hear you," Dean says in the most soothing voice he can muster, which is little more than whiskey-burnt croak. "Now will you please go back to sleep while you can. We're hitting the road in three."

Sammy calms a little. Dean dares a glance at him, disconcerted to see Sam's examining him with a keen eye.

"What?" he snaps, a little roughly, so get Sammy to stop staring at him like he's ... he's ...

Like there's something wrong with him.

"Nothing." Sam pauses. "Okay, it's the cuts on your face. One of them is really bad."

Dean laughs dryly. "Guess my supermodel days are over, huh?"

"No, that's not what I'm talking about." Sam gets up and sits in front of him, coming in close, forcing Dean to nervously back away from his scrutiny. "They're just ... weird. Three of them look like they're kinda healing already, but one of them looks like you just got it, still bleeding and raw. Dude, maybe we should go to the doctor."

"Are you crazy?" Dean scoffs, but inside his chest, his heart hammers. "We have no money and I'm not faking more insurance for a stupid scrape."

"I'm serious. It doesn't look good. It's ..."

"It's a stupid scrape," Dean interjects with brutal finality, even as a drop of blood slides onto his lip. "And if you're not going back to sleep, make yourself useful and get us some breakfast."

Not listening, Sam reaches out toward the cut, as if to touch it.

A flash of excruciating pain, even without contact and Dean cries out, flinging himself out of Sam's reach. "What the hell are you doing?! Leave me alone!"

"I'm sorry," Softly, and Sam stares down at his feet. "I'm so sorry, Dean."

"There's nothing to be sorry for, Sammy. I'm ... I'm ... just tired, that's all," Dean stammers, trying to force air into tight lungs. "You didn't hurt me."

"Not yet," Sam whispers.

He's pale all of a sudden and this is exactly what Dean doesn't want. These are his choices, his own life he's screwing up, if screwing up is what it is and Sammy needs to know that. Needs to understand ...

Sam rises slowly, his cheeks white. "I think I'll get that breakfast now."

"Yeah," Dean murmurs. It's his turn to stare at the floor. "Maybe I'll catch some sleep. I'm not as young as I used to be. You know, kill demons all day, party all night. Not really built for it anymore -- the party part at least."

But Sam isn't listening. His back is turned as he shrugs his jacket on. "I'll be back in ten."

"Great." Dean runs his hand nervously over his thigh. "And, Sam?"


"Thanks. Thanks for ... being here."

There, he's said it, and he's glad, because once that's said, it'll be easier to cut the tie when the right time comes.

Easier to let Sam go.

But Sam doesn't seem to want to cooperate, as usual. He looks back at his brother from the doorway. "Don't thank me. There's no reason to thank me. This is where I belong."

He's gone before Dean can argue. Shaking, Dean stumbles to the dresser. The man in the mirror still frightens him a little, but that cut ... that bloody, angry lash standing out from all the rest?

It looks better now. A lot better and Dean wonders if there's a shadow that reveals a soul's happiness, as he has a feeling there's a mark of it somewhere, just below his battered skin.



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