Title: Reality Tale Life
Pairings: Dean/OFC, hints of Dean/Sam
Warnings: Het and slash, sort-of incest, reality-bending.
Summary: “He closes his eyes, and Sam is in front of him, so much so he’s almost real, and behind him Maggie and Kate are fading into dust. But his eyes open, and he can see his Kate again, so real. More real than Sam whoever he is.”
Author’s Notes: I was reading Fairy Tale Life by Leonidaslion, who is an absolutely fabulous author. I loved the whole thing but I thought it totally deserved a little something extra, which you will understand when you read it. This is designed to sort of follow on from where Fairy Tale Life ended, but based on the premise that when Dean woke up, the world he was in continued on. I have permission to play in Leonidaslion’s sandbox here.
Reality Tale Life
When Dean wakes, it is with Sam’s name on his lips and the taste of his kisses in his mouth. It fades fast, however, when his wife shifts in her sleep beside him, and his arms tighten automatically in response. He thinks about Sam, this half-fragmented ghost of a thought in his mind. Sam, Maggie’s teacher? But that’s not right, her teacher’s name is David, David Irving, and he’s not just Maggie’s teacher, he’s their friend for goodness’ sakes. He closes his eyes, and Sam is in front of him, so much so he’s almost real, and behind him Maggie and Kate are fading into dust. But his eyes open, and he can see his Kate again, so real. More real than Sam whoever he is. More real even than Dean.
When he climbs out of the bed and into the shower, the dream slides down the drain with his sloughed-off sweat, and soon he is in his yellow kitchen, tripping over PITA again and kissing his girls before going to work. When he passes a dark-haired man on his way to the car, he double-takes, sure for a moment he recognises him, but the moment passes. The man is no one, a boy really, and his hair is more mousy than dark. He doesn’t even remember who he reminds him of.
Dean is used to odd dreams. His Mum used to say that Dean dreamed to make up for her illness, for being an only child. In his dreams he had a little brother to love and care for and raise, and if they were sometimes a little too dark or sad for him to handle, that was okay, because he had his brother. In reality, he had his Mum and Dad and he had plenty of friends. Sometimes he dreamed of fire, and he wonders even now if that wasn’t why he decided to become a fire-fighter. Either way, both dreams eventually went away. But now, the dream-brother is back, and the fire. Only this time the fire is contained, and he thinks maybe he set it himself (this thought tugs a frown to his lips, but it fades, dream-like).
It doesn’t happen often, maybe only once a month. But sometimes his eyes close and he is somewhere else, with someone (Sam). Sometimes he sees fire, or blood. Sometimes there is pain, and he is happy to wake to Kate. These nights, it is almost a compulsion to go and check on Maggie, sleeping soundly with PITA at her feet.
When Kate first raises the idea of Maggie needing companionship, he points out that she has PITA. When Kate says that’s not enough, he thinks about it, and buys a dog. It is big for a puppy, with soft brown hair and big eyes. He had loved the dog immediately, and so did Kate.
When she smiles softly that night, the dog sleeping on the floor at the bottom of the bed, and tells him she was thinking of more human companionship, Dean is momentarily confused. He hadn’t needed siblings, after all. But the idea of more children like Maggie, like the best of him and Kate, has him smiling and agreeing rapidly.
He dreams of Sam that night, of the other Dean. This night there is no blood, or pain. Instead there is love, and closeness, and later a different kind of red haze and something like pain but so, so different. He thinks maybe this should be a reason not to give Maggie a sibling, this wrong wrong thing. But when he wakes, it is with a smile on his lips.
The puppy needs a name. Dean knows this, but he also knows that, following the tradition started with PITA, Dean has to come up with something. He thinks of something typically crass – PITA and GOMT, maybe? The dog just looks at him with one tired raised eye, Maggie and the cat (who has taken to his new companion with surprising acceptance) having worn him out. He snorts and calls it a smart-ass, and the name sticks. It doesn’t taste exactly right on his tongue, though, and soon he adds Muncher on the end, in a fit of pique when his favourite slipper turns up chewed. SAM it is.
When he dreams, sometimes he forgets he dreams. He forgets Kate, and Maggie, PITA and SAM, forgets fire-fighting and living and loving. When he dreams, it feels real. He wonders if the other Dean dreams of his life, watches Maggie grow up, watches Kate expand beautifully with their next child, wonders if for a while this life becomes as real for him as that life is for Dean. Wonders which life is his.
Kate falls pregnant the day before Maggie’s birthday, as near as he can tell. They don’t know for another two months, because she has her normal cycle, and after the first couple of months it was too expensive (disappointing) to test anyway. They both cry when they find out, and Dean buys her a necklace to celebrate. He never thinks of the pattern on the pendant much. He certainly never wonders if there is anything in this world to protect her from.
He tries to forget the image of Kate dissolving in front of him. His mind balks even at thinking of thinking of his Maggie disappearing, and his chest aches at the loss of his Mother. Those terrible dreams (hallucinations?) are long past. But sometimes, sometimes he looks at her and wonders.
David brings his girlfriend to the Christmas party that year, which both mothers helped out with since Kate was tired all the time thanks to their bump. She’s a lovely, sweet woman, a nurse at the local hospital. They make a brilliant couple, his dark hair against her curled blonde locks, their smiles as bright and shiny as their hearts.
Dean sometimes feels closer to David than he should, but anything that lingered from that strange, otherworldly kiss last year fades from his heart as he sees them together.
Maybe, in some other world, David and he are closer than friends. Maybe they are all each other has – all the other needs. But here, in this world, they have other people, they need others, they love others. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
When he thinks about it, at the dead of night when no dreams come, Dean knows. He knows that this world is a little off, somehow, not quite real, not like the other world. He thinks of that dream, the one he imagines is the first, when he woke up in a hospital bed that felt more real than this life ever had. Thinks of Sam’s explanation for this world, and thinks, what if? What if Sam wasn’t lying? And, what if he was wrong? Dean made his choice, but only part of him did. Another part of him, a part that isn’t even him, not really, stayed here. Maybe this is a figment of Dean’s imagination, a dream-world. Maybe none of this is real. Maybe this is all real, a new world, reality, created out of that dream. Maybe this is reality, and that other place really is a dream – in the brightness of reality, that other world certainly seems like a dream, a lie.
When he holds his newborn son in his arms, he knows this is real.
David and Claire have a son of their own, the year after Johnny is born. He would have thought it was a rush, only a year and a half after that first Christmastime meeting, but when he sees the way David looks at her, he knows it isn’t. They may have met a little less than two years ago, but their souls have known each other a lot longer. They name their son Sam, and somehow Dean already knew that.
When Sam and Johnny marry, two months after Sam’s twenty-first birthday, Dean sits in the front of the Church, his wife at his side and their children around him. David sits across the aisle with his own wife and children, and smiles across at Dean. For the first time in twenty-two years, Dean thinks of that Mistletoe kiss with a man who was David but could have been Sam. He squeezes Kate’s hand in his own, and smiles at the man who is his best friend. This is right, he thinks, this is perfect. A part of him, part of that other world, lives on in his son. That part of his soul recognises David’s Sam in his son, and together the two boys are bringing it all together.
He prays with a glad heart, but his prayers are simple thanks. He’s already had his happily ever after.