Fandoms: Supernatural, Friday Night Lights, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Harry Potter, Heroes
Characters: Dean Winchester, Matt Saracen, Buffy Summers, Malcolm Reynolds, Molly Weasley, Adam Monroe
Word Count: 3,939
Caveat: Does this really need an angst warning? Yeah, it's severe. But the subject matter demanded it, so it's all May's fault. Blame her.
Dedication: For May, for the really great prompt. I hope I do it justice.
Summary: Six kinds of heartbreak you don't recover from: Dean Winchester, Mattt Saracen, Buffy Summers, Malcolm Reynolds, Molly Weasley, Adam Monroe
Dean: Losing family
Dean Winchester courts death like a lover. He hunts down dangers, chases after monsters, drinks too much, drives too fast, eats too little. He tells himself that he isn’t a coward, that the reason he hasn’t put a gun to his head or driven the Impala off a bridge (he and the car will go out together. Of course, that was what he always said about him and Sam, too) is that Sam would, somehow, know, and Dean doesn’t want to listen to his brother bitch about it for an eternity.
That’s only on the good days (or really, the less-hellish ones) when he can convince himself that he’ll actually be with Sammy when he dies. The rest of the time, he’s sure he is headed straight downstairs while Sammy couldn’t possibly be anywhere but with Mom and his Jess. Dad he’s a bit unsure of because the old man was always an enigma and Dean doubts that even God could pin him down. John Winchester belongs in the most hellish part of heaven, the most heavenly part of hell.
Dean’s in purgatory now with nothing but hell to look forward to, and wasn’t the whole point of purgatory that you got to go to heaven afterward? But nothing can cleanse the sins (failures) from his soul, so Dean gets both. Most of the time he wishes he could just skip ahead to the fire and brimstone; at least that would break the tedium.
The world is greyer, the motel rooms dingier, the people more desperate and aloof than he remembers. And he’s pretty sure there are more monsters now that Sam is gone, like his brother’s very existence had held the darkest of the dark at bay and now there’s nothing to keep them away.
He never stays in any place longer than it takes to finish the job and he never takes breaks. The only friends he had ever had had been hand-me-downs from Dad—warm, comforting, broken in—old. They’re all gone now, Pastor Jim and Ellen and even Bobby, last year, taking out a werewolf. Jo is still around somewhere, carrying on her family business, too. Sometimes he toys with the idea of calling her; he knows she would come without question and stay till he tells her to go (he’s not so oblivious that he doesn’t realize that she’s never been like any of the other girls he’s known). But that would require effort and talking to someone, and he’s pretty sure he’s forgotten how.
In a world with Sam, Dean had been muscle and flannel, rock-and-roll and grins, cars and girls and pool. Now he’s all bones, guns, rock salt, knives, dead man’s blood. For the first time, he recognizes himself when he looks in the mirror.
Every night, Dean Winchester prays for death.
Matt: Losing a dream
There’s still leftover “Congrats, Matt!” cake left in the refrigerator when it happens. Not even a week after the announcement that A&M was giving him a full ride, and he pauses a fraction of a second too long in the Westerby game (Dillon’s ahead by 24, and there’s no way they won’t win). Then the Westerby linebacker slams into him out of nowhere, his body is flying one direction, his leg staying where it is, and a trip to the emergency room.
It’s a torn ACL, of course, and everyone reminds him that it could be so much worse without ever mentioning
There’s surgery and the doctors are hopeful, and so are Grandma and Coach and Landry, but Matt knew from the moment he heard the snap (he heard it in that eternity-long moment before he felt the pain) that it was over. And he’s right: the surgery doesn’t help anything, and his knee just isn’t strong enough to meet the demands of football—especially high school football in west
He watches Julie and Landry go off to Tulane and Baylor and he stays at home. The scholarship is gone and though Dad’s back now—and wishing he wasn’t—money still isn’t any easier to come by. It’s too late to apply for that art scholarship that Mrs. Coach had told him to go for. Just in case, she’d said, but Matt was young and so certain of A&M that he hadn’t bothered. Next year, she says, and he agrees, but it hurts.
The handicapped-former-player coaching job is already taken and Matt’s not sure he could handle walking into the locker room every day anyway. It’s better (easier) to work at the hardware store and look after Grandma. Better to walk down the street and avoid people’s eyes because some show pity and some disdain and he isn’t really sure which is worse until he hears a ten-year-old in a hand-me-down Panthers jersey telling his little brother how great Matt Saracen used to be.
He wonders when he became this person. He’d loved football as a little boy, he and Dad watching it with a silent intensity that was so different from the cheering and groaning that filled the
But that was as far as it went. Until Jason’s accident when Matt with the last name every announcer mispronounced when announcing him (until after that night, when they never mispronounced it again) was thrust into the limelight.
But at what point had he invested so much of himself into his role as Matt Saracen, QB1, that this blow leaves him reeling and shoving his state ring to the back of his drawer? Maybe it was after Julie broke up with him (the first time), thought that isn’t fair to her. Or maybe it was before that, in that short stretch of time when Dad was back when things Matt swore couldn’t get worse did just that.
It doesn’t really matter when, he guesses. Because, yeah, he’ll apply for that scholarship and probably get it, too. It won’t be much, and he’ll have to work all the way through school to make enough to scrape by. And, as Coach reminds him, the future’s wide open from there.
But it won’t be like it would have been, at A&M, on the field, worrying only about the next game because everything else is taken care of. In that world, the world he’d dreamed about, he’d never have to worry about there not being enough money again, he could buy Grandma all the tiaras in the world, Julie would look at him again, he could get out of Dillon and make something of himself.
Now, though, he won’t have that life, and he won’t be who he thought he’d be, and maybe that’s the scariest thing of all.
Buffy: Losing friends
She’d smiled. Looked down at the crater that had devoured her home, her friends, her lover, her past, and smiled. Heard Faith tell her she could live like a person, absorbed Dawn’s question about what she was going to do next without answering.
Because what else could she do? After all these years, she’d gotten exactly what she wanted. She wasn’t the one and only anymore, didn’t have the burden of the Hellmouth weighing her down—she could be a normal girl. And wasn’t that what she’d always wanted?
It certainly seemed so, afterwards. Well, after the hospitals and the motels and figuring out what to do with everybody. Then Buffy found herself in possession of an apartment in Rome and no baby Slayers to look after—just a little sister who had grown up while Buffy was busy keeping other girls alive and a platinum card courtesy of the newly-reformed Watcher’s Council under the direction of Rupert Giles.
For several months, it was perfect. Sunshine and gelato and villas and free time and Vespas and a new (immortal) Italian boyfriend. And if she sometimes felt the urge to find a graveyard and stalk the night, well, old habits died hard.
She was alone.
She’d always been alone, in a way, ever since
And now she is. Willow in
At first it left her giddy, the privacy of months of sharing a bathroom with twelve girls, of not being able to breathe in her own home. But then the loneliness set in, deep in her bones, eating away at her till at times she can’t breathe. She visits the cemeteries more often.
Dawn graduates early and goes off to
At the Watcher’s headquarters, the girls stare at her like she’s a movie star or royalty, and their whispers are a heavy weight on her shoulders. Dawn slips into life there as easily as she had in
But things aren’t any better with
When she books her flight, she stares at the discounted rate to
She bullies Xander and
And Buffy realizes that this is her worst nightmare, worse than any Big Bad—it’s the year after she was brought back all over again, only worse, because this time no one realizes how far apart they are.
Mal: Losing purpose
He never talks about the time between
He doesn’t tell her; she lets it go; he promises to tell her someday. Then she lets him tug her closer, wrapping himself around her warmth, and he drifts back.
They left them in that stinking valley for three months after the battle itself was over, the surrender signed. There was no Independent Militia left to come for them and the
Zoë was the only one left of his platoon, and they lived off of rats and boot leather in the trenches. They didn’t speak, didn’t say one word, not even when he took off his necklace and tossed it into the fire.
They hadn’t been able to wash in months when the Rehabilitation Crew arrived. The crew turned up their noses at the filthy, stinking ex-soldiers that they gathered—twos and threes but most often one alone—from the trenches pockmarking the valley. There were two showers on the transport ship, two to serve seven hundred and twelve, all that was left of the thousands of Browncoats who had walked into the valley. Mal and Zoë were shoved in with six other men and not one of them had the life left in them to notice Zoë’s body. It was all they could do to move through the motions of fighting their small battles against rashes and lice.
They were dumped off at a refugee camp on Greenleaf, and the locals were not happy to see them. The camp had already been overflowing by the time the survivors of
He wandered around the planet and finally lost Zoë, who had followed him like a protective shadow since the battle of
The last one nearly killed him. He doesn’t actually remember it, just waking up from cool darkness under warm blankets and into harsh pain. But Zoë was there, calm and quiet and though her hands weren’t soft, they were gentle and firm. She patched him up, as she had so many times before, and as soon as he was back on her feet, that purposefully blank look returned to her eyes. The one she got when he was throwing his weight around or when she disapproved of one of his decisions but wasn’t going to question. She didn’t say anything when she walked out of the door.
He was headed right back to the bar, and that probably would have been the end of him, only that was the day he stumbled upon the used-ship lot. The owner roped him in, and his head was hurting too much to argue, so he dutifully followed the man around the lot.
It was there that Mal fell in love at first sight for the first time in his life (that wouldn’t happen again till Inara walked onto the ship, proud and beautiful and small, looking like she belonged there, and it was the way she trailed her hand across the cool metal of Serenity that made him love her first), and that love gave him a reason to keep on, if not living, at least flying.
Living wasn’t something Malcolm Reynolds was capable of anymore.
Molly: Losing a child
Molly has decided that sorrow isn’t pain, isn’t suffering or even loneliness. It’s absence. It’s an empty chair, less laundry to do, not as much laughter in her life.
She hadn’t realized that when you lose someone, you have to clear your world of the physical remnants that person left behind. It isn’t that she hasn’t known loss: during the First War, she lost her wonderful, bright brothers and more friends than she can count. But she had been young, a busy new mother, and there had been older, wiser people to care for such things.
But now the task falls to her to travel to the twins’ flat to pack away Fred’s clothes into carefully labeled boxes, pausing to weep quietly over the last Christmas sweater, the hole in the jaunty “F” from an experiment gone wrong. She should give these things away—there are so many who lost so much in the War, people who could benefit from the worn but sturdy jumpers and robes—but she can’t bear to. Instead, she floos home and stores the boxes in the attic.
Then it’s on to the twins’ old room—they’d never fully moved out, dropping in to get their laundry done, have a homemade meal, grab something from their room. There are pictures stuck all over the wall, monument to a life completely lived. She considers leaving them there, a shrine to her son’s life, but George will come back eventually, and she can’t subject him to that. Her son is going to have a hard enough time moving forward without Molly turning a shrine into a weight around his neck. Instead, she buys new albums, fills them full of the waving, grinning, winking pictures and puts them on the end table in the living room, waiting patiently for anyone who wants to remember.
When the time comes to knit the Christmas jumpers, her fingers itch after all of the others are completed, reminding her that there’s one missing. She tries to ignore it but eventually gives in and makes a green one with an orange “F.” She stores it in the box with all his others, but it doesn’t belong—it’s pristine where all the others are stained and worn and torn. She takes it out, uses it to polish the silver, then returns it to the box.
George finally returns and tries to act like his usual self; she can’t help but yell “Fred and George Weasley!” when the cupboard explodes. She bites her lip, ashamed and reminded, and oh the pain. Strangely, George grins to hear it. She starts to breathe again.
When they go to get a formal picture made of the whole family, there are new faces, but there’s an awkward gap between George and Ron that they formed unconsciously. It hurts to look at the space between, but it feels right to keep it there.
Bill and Fleur’s Victoire is a holy terror for mischief and everyone watches her with delighted eyes as she gets into anything and everything. She’s petted and loved and probably spoiled by all her assorted aunts and uncles, but George is her favorite, and no one feels the slightest bit of resentment at that. No one can, not when George looks alive when she’s riding on his shoulders or he’s teaching her to fly, not when her laugh is so achingly familiar in her painfully pretty face, not when everyone thinks the same thing when they look at her even if they never say it: she’s so much like Fred.
It hurts, so much sometimes that all she wants to do is climb into bed and never get out. It always will. But sometimes when she looks at Vicky…she thinks that maybe, just maybe, loss isn’t absence after all.
Adam: Losing pride
It wasn’t even that he really loved her. It was just the way she had of looking at him, eyes wide and adoring. That he thought, for once, he’d have something that was his, a foolish, childish thought, he knew, and grew annoyed with himself for having it, even at the time. He probably would have tired of her soon enough, would have grown irritated by her sincerity and virtue. But the idea that a woman like her, beautiful and gentle, could love him, even if he didn’t particularly want her…well, that had made him want to at least try, which was something he hadn’t done in years.
Making money didn’t require any real effort. Not when he was charming and reasonably talented and then—afterwards—discovered that he was invincible. Keeping boredom at bay, though, was harder, and he took to fighting wars, training armies, all of which he could do without a second thought. In every war he fought in, they called him a hero, believing that he’d put his life on the line in an act of foolish nobility to save another person. Idiots. He was never in any real danger or he never would have done any of those “heroic” things (he’s pretty sure he’s never had a noble bone in his body), and he only did them in the first place because the craziest acts were the best, the ones that pumped him full of adrenaline that washed away the monotony—for the moment, at least.
But neither money nor excitement kept him going. No, the thing that kept him from experimenting to see if cutting his head off would really, finally kill him was revenge. Late at night, when irony was hard to cling to and slipped through his fingers, he fancied himself Arthur, betrayed by his best friend and the woman who was supposed to love him. In the harsh light of day, with his smirk firmly in place, he knew the story was more like Cyrano de Bergerac—at least, after that play was written—and that he was hapless Christian and not the hero at all (he never particularly liked reading, but what else is he supposed to do with all this time that isn’t spent fighting wars?). He’d thought he could be the hero, for a little while, but Hiro (and God, doesn’t the irony of that name still bite? He should have known) ruined that for him.
Because Hiro is what keeps him going. Knowing that, sooner or later, Carp will be born and he’ll be able to face him, see what he did to him, tell him, This is what you made me, have his revenge…it’s enough to make him put one foot in front of another.
Everyone is forgivable but the man who shatters your pride.