Log in

23 May 2011 @ 11:49 am
{looking for something I've never seen}  
Note: This is probably the only fic that will ever get posted here, so I'm not quite sure how to introduce it. Memories are an interesting concept - they make us who we are, they help us grow. They move us forward and hold us back. They fill us with fear and with hope. The idea of losing them is unsteady ground. Would we really want to erase events, even painful ones, just for peace of mind? Would we ever want to forget someone we loved? And what if the choice was entirely out of our hands? All of these things were haunting me following the S6 finale of SPN ("Let It Bleed" in particular), and Friday night, this grew out of that idea.

Title: Fragments.
Fandom: Supernatural
Character/Pairing: Lisa Braeden, mentions of Ben and Dean.
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1817
Disclaimer: I own nothing, Show owns my heart. Spoilers for "Let It Bleed."
Summary: If something can be remembered, it can come back. Even if it's only in pieces.

Lisa wasn’t in the hospital for long. Her injuries hadn’t been serious. Lucky, the doctors said. A nurse picked up her chart, flipped through the pages, frowned. Mention of a stab wound casually jotted amongst the notation on minor soft tissue impacted by the accident. Obviously, someone had made a mistake. It wasn’t even enough to cause concern. The nurse handed her the forms, she signed them, and her son wheeled her out, through sterile white corridors, the smell of antiseptic and latex gloves burning her nose.

Ben was uncharacteristically quiet. Something about the car accident had him shaken. She tried to reassure him. After all, they were fine. But a nearly imperceptible whisper in the back of her mind left her uneasy. It wasn’t anything she could define. It was that feeling you get when you’ve left a light on in an empty house – nagging, persistent. Unsettling.

Certain details of the situation didn’t add up. For one, their car hadn’t been damaged. Hell, their car was still at home. In the garage. And they were miles away. Not far enough to cause real alarm, not past state lines, but far enough for it not to make sense. A friend from work had to pick them up in front of the hospital, and when they were asked how it happened, neither of them could answer. The man who had hit them disappeared into the night. No report was filed. If it wasn’t for the aching all over her body and the tenderness in her side, there would be no indication of an accident at all.

Her friend told her gravely that Matt had died. It was unexpected, he had also suffered a freak accident. How horrible, Lisa said, but she wasn't acquainted with anyone named Matt. Her friend muttered something about shock or temporary amnesia, looked at her kindly, and the subject was dropped.

When they got home, they found a living room window broken, along with a chair in Ben's room and other odds and ends. Nothing was missing, though. It didn’t even look like a break-in. It was strange, like everything else had been strange. She called a repair man, the window was fixed, and the house became as ordinary as it had ever been. When Ben nearly cut his foot on a shard of glass embedded in the rug, she practically destroyed that patch of floor, vacuuming it incessantly and digging at it with her fingernails, as if something else was buried there. When she realized this erratic behavior was scaring her son, she pulled herself together. What the hell was going on? She felt like her entire brain was bruised.

Work had given her a couple of days off to recover, and she let Ben stay home from school with her. It felt like they both needed a little time, even though there was no clear medical necessity. She took hot baths. Ben played video games. She made spaghetti for dinner and he silently helped her clear the plates. He smiled at her and said an “I love you, Mom,” before she sent him off to bed. And when the time to recoup was over, their schedules settled back in, like clockwork. It was fine. It was normal. It was the life they’d always had, wasn’t it?

A week later, she sat in front of the mirror in her room, brushing out her hair. It took twenty minutes before she realized she hadn’t stopped.

There was absolutely nothing wrong. That was the problem.

When she crawled into bed, she felt incredibly alone. She went to the closet and pulled out an extra pillow. She had no idea why it was even there, but she suddenly wanted it. It smelled like a mixture of Old Spice, whiskey, and strong soap. It was a stranger’s smell. Yet she clung to it, the way she’d clung to her stuffed rabbit when she was a child. Something in her desperately wanted to cry, but she held it in. There was no explanation for tears.

It was another two days before she found the shotgun. This detail filled her with an immediate sense of fear. Under no circumstances should there have been a shotgun in the damn closet. She’d never even been this close to a shotgun before. Had she? The sight of it was dreadful, but she didn’t quite know how to get rid of it. The solution was to hide the firearm in the back of the hall closet and forget it was there. And she did.

She found Ben in his room, listening to his iPod. He pulled out the earbuds when she entered, and something led her to pick it up. He was listening to Zeppelin. What kid his age listened to classic rock? When she asked who had recommended it, he honestly responded that he didn’t know. Like the pillow, and the shotgun, she let it go. They were simply loose threads.

That’s when the dreams started.

They were nothing at first. A face in her crowded subconscious. When she started seeing it more clearly, the face started to stay with her. In her waking hours, she realized it was the man from the hospital. The guy who’d hit them. The one who’d disappeared. He was nothing to her. She’d barely had a fleeting glance from the hospital bed. But the face…the face wouldn’t leave her.

It became a minor obsession. She called the hospital and requested the records, but there was no mention of him anywhere. The nurses had no recollection of a man even being there. She asked Ben if he could remember the man’s name, but he couldn’t. He only had one vivid memory of the man – "You take care of your mom."

He hadn’t even come past the threshold of the door, but she remembered. She remembered the cadence of his voice. She remembered the way he smiled at her, intimately, with so much inexplicable sadness buried underneath. She remembered he looked like he hadn’t slept in a year. She remembered the exact shade of green in his eyes, and how they crinkled at the edges. She remembered the freckles scattered across the bridge of his nose. She remembered he was beautiful.

Frankly, she started to wonder if she was losing her mind.

She found a shirt buried in a drawer that smelled like the stranger pillow. She laid next to it and finally cried. She cried for hours. She cried until her eyes were raw and her breath was coming in short, stabbing gasps. She cried every single dream, every single flash of an image, every bit of that scent, every syllable of the voice, right out of her body.

That was when she forgot altogether.

It took another four months for her to find the shoebox. She was rummaging in the top of that same hall closet, the one harboring the fugitive shotgun, in search of an umbrella, in case she needed it the next morning. Rain was slamming against the window panes, the wind was causing tree branches to scrape the glass like phantom fingernails in the dark. A slam made her jump and her flying hand hit the lightbulb, smashing it against the wall. The remains tinkled to the floor softly. Frustrated, she got the dustpan, a stool, and a new bulb. Slivers of glass were swept carefully up and discarded. Standing on the stool, she replaced the broken bulb, and the light from the new one seemed too bright, almost harsh, like sunlight flooding a room that hasn’t been occupied for a long time.

She blinked twice before stepping off her perch, and saw the box, tucked away on the top shelf. Something tugged at her memory, and she brought the box down with her.

She carried it gingerly to the sofa, as if she was afraid it would explode. She stared at it, lightly tracing the design on the lid with her fingertips. It took her a couple of minutes to decide she was being ridiculous and lift the lid.

The scent hit her immediately. The same scent. The pillow, the shirt. Her heart immediately began beating much too quickly. On top was a necklace, a simple charm on a silver chain, something that looked like it would be given in affection. There was a spare car key. The bottom rattled, and she found a few extra bullets. She removed one and held it in her palm, where it felt unnaturally cold. She shivered and dropped it back in its place.

Nestled between these metal items, which seemed like symbols of both protection and danger, was an envelope. One of those cheap grocery store envelopes they used when they developed photographs. Gingerly, she pulled it out. She lingered at the flap. Mystery photographs didn’t seem like a good idea. But it was too late not to look.

First, there were she and Ben, pulling faces at the camera. Then, one of her alone, sitting on the porch steps. Her own expression was foreign to her, something out of a life she'd never experienced. It made her afraid, and it hurt in a way that she didn’t understand.

Then she got to the next picture, and there he was. The boyish grin, the green eyes, the freckles, all of it. The face that had abruptly stopped haunting her dreams was suddenly staring directly at her. The next picture was of the two of them. His arm was around her shoulders. There were pictures of he and Ben. There were pictures of Ben in his truck.

This man that had never existed was suddenly all too real.

The final photograph in the bunch was of the three of them, smiling, sitting close together, looking like…like a family. Looking complete. The kind of family she and Ben had never quite had. It didn’t make sense. There wasn’t a part of her that could logically comprehend any of this. But every fiber of her being told her it was right, every throb of her heart in her own ears told her what it meant.

She took the photo and put it in a frame, and she put the frame on a table, in amongst class pictures of Ben and shots of she and her sister. If she knew anything, she knew it belonged there.

She never remembered who he was, nor did Ben. There was no context, no name. Only fragments scattered around the house, cast adrift like little ghosts. They never discussed him. Not really. There wasn’t enough of anything tangible to discuss.

There was no reason for the sense of comfort his face gave them.

There was no reason, but he became an unspoken talisman, something to believe in. In the corners of their memories and the deepest parts of their souls, he was there.

Somehow, he had existed.

And he reminded them to live.

Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Goodnight monsters, everywherehoneylocusttree on May 23rd, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC)
I feel like there is so, so much that can be said and done with the Lisa & Ben storyline, and I'm a little sad because I expect them to not do anything with it on the show. This is a wonderful and realistic exploration of the kind of impact Dean's action could have (and answers the question 'What about Matt?' which I think is sort of important and which I doubt will ever be resolved). I enjoyed this a lot and found it very satisfying. Thank you for writing it and well done.
delicate unraveling: SPN Cas Pulled You from Perditionelvensapphire on May 23rd, 2011 07:02 pm (UTC)
I agree with you completely - there's an untapped wealth of storytelling with Lisa and Ben, and I feel like the writers simply wrote them out because there was negative fan reaction, as they've done time and time again, which is becoming a detriment to the show.

I said somewhere else recently that we know Dean and Sam are amazing, beautiful, terribly flawed characters. And, in my opinion, both the beauty and the flaws are exhibited more truthfully when they are surrounded by other characters, people who help flesh them out, people that matter to them, people who become parts of their extended families and who become a part of their journey. Dean and Sam alone isn't a whole show anymore, it's usually just a shard of angst and loneliness. The two of them road-tripping across the country only worked in S1, as it should have. Past then, they've grown up, they've struggled and fought and they should have realized they CAN'T do it alone. That support system is important. But every time anyone new comes in to aid them and to help show them who they are, especially if said person is female, the fandom screams and eventually the writers kill them off (or erase their memories...). And I won't even begin to start on what's happened to Castiel. This "us and no one else" mentality is becoming extremely problematic because the Winchesters are starting to look myopic. They need to realize that they can't rely on themselves alone, but the writing never lets them get that far, and instead gives them people and then painfully takes them away. I was honestly hoping Lisa and Ben's storyline would be open-ended, and it breaks my heart that they'll probably never even be mentioned again. They were so many threads that merely erasing their memories could never tie up. From Dean's perspective, it's much more bittersweet than death - knowing they live on without him. For Lisa, I just felt that he'd always be there, in the back of her mind. Maybe Cas could erase her memory, but no one can ever take away the deepest parts of our hearts.

That's rambly, I apologize. This show gets me worked up. xD

Thank you so much for reading this, and for your lovely comment. <3
Goodnight monsters, everywherehoneylocusttree on May 23rd, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
My experience is that any time something is changed, anywhere, ever, people are going to piss and moan about it. I don't know why, and it never occurred to me that might be the reason why they keep killing off awesome characters. Fie on that. Bring back Rufus and Ellen and for that matter Alastair!

Actually, though, there's a lot of fandom love for a lot of the killed off characters. I wish the writers would pay attention to that stuff too. (Bring back Rufus!)
Catscatsintheattic on May 23rd, 2011 06:50 pm (UTC)
What a beautiful, captivating and in fact haunting portrait of this particular loss of memory. You captured what I felt when I thought how disturbing life must have been for Lisa and Ben after the initial shock had worn off. I like how you wove in so many little details, lost witnesses of an erased past, and how the recurring smell brought home such strong emotions.
delicate unraveling: DW Ten/Rose Whisperselvensapphire on May 23rd, 2011 07:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Fragments
This is a wonderful comment; I'm so glad it affected you, and I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one feeling disturbed by Lisa and Ben returning to their lives, yet not armed with the truth. It's a fundamentally compelling idea, I think. And thank you so much for reading.
CeCe Away: Dean & corpsescece_away on May 23rd, 2011 07:18 pm (UTC)
Good way to cope for us all. I know it was a way to bring the Lisa and Ben arc to an end, but strong minded people, like Dean in the first Djinn episode, always know when something isn't actually right.
delicate unraveling: Vintage Venetian Maskelvensapphire on May 23rd, 2011 07:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :) And that is the perfect analogy to draw. That slight disconnect of reality would always linger, somehow.
salty_catfish on May 23rd, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC)
I was hoping fanfic writers would pick up this oh so convenient plot device, without glossing over edges (I too, was immediately wondering about Matt and admission papers, all those things that won't add up), and here it is.
Amazing, I loved it! Everything you did here, with the smells and remnant feelings, sudden images, it felt very real.
borgmama1of5borgmama1of5 on May 23rd, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is so sad, I am tearing up...I wanted a happy ending but I guess bittersweet is all I can hope for...