Characters: Chuck Shurley, OC
Warnings: allusions to heavy drinking and mentions of sex
Summary: Chuck goes to see a psychiatrist after his dreams take a disturbing new turn.
Written for spn_summergen for the lovely septembers_coda. Many thanks to my beta immortal_jedi!
"Thanks for seeing me on such short notice," said his new patient: Shurley, Chuck.
Doctor Andrew Sinclair sighed on the inside as he forced his mouth to curve into a disarming smile. "Not a problem. Your referral was quite specific as to the urgency of the situation." He looked down at the intake notes again. "You're currently taking Aspirin…and whiskey for pain, you've been experiencing sleep disturbances and you are allergic to penicillin." He glanced down at the family medical history. "No family history of mental illness. Now, why don't you tell me about these dreams you've been having?"
"Yeah, okay." Mr. Shirley sat up and ran a jittery hand through his hair. "Well see, my dreams have always been a little weird, but the last few years they started to get really...specific. Always about these two brothers and their bizarro life. I started writing them down, you know, to try to make sense of it. Then I thought--this stuff is so weird, maybe I should try writing a book."
"Oh? And did you?"
"I've written twenty-five of them, actually. Twenty-four have been published." He looked up, somewhat hopeful. "Supernatural? You ever hear of them? I write under the pen name Carver Edlund."
Doctor Sinclair shook his head. "Can't say that I have. What are these books about?"
"These two brothers, Sam and Dean. They're hunters."
"They hunt deer?"
"No, no. Ghosts, demons, vampires, you know--monsters."
"Anyway, up until now, writing them down always helped. Got it all out of my head and onto paper. But ever since Dean went to Hell--"
"You sent one of your main characters to Hell?" That was unusual, Andrew thought. Not a good way to keep a series going, at any rate.
"Well I didn't send him. He sold his soul because Sam died."
"You killed both of your main characters?"
Chuck looked flustered for a second. "Well Sam died, but he came back because Dean made a deal. With a demon."
"I see." He brought his pen down and wrote 'Religious fixation?' Underneath Chuck's name. "And how did that make you feel, when Dean sold his soul?"
"Well I was glad that Sam wasn't dead, but it uh-- really sucks for Dean."
"I imagine it does."
"See he's down there screaming right now, and Sam he's--well, he's falling apart."
"Do you have any siblings, Chuck?"
"Any close friends you've lost contact with?"
"Never really had all that many friends to begin with..." Mr. Shurley looked down at his fingernails. "I get fan letters now though. People really like my books. Well, a few people, anyway."
"But see the stuff Sam's been doing since Dean went to Hell--it's bad. It's wrong."
"Why is it wrong?"
"There's this demon Ruby--she's totally stringing him along, but he's too drunk and grief-ridden to see it. And then in this dream I had two nights ago..." His eyes got a distant, glazed look.
"What happened in the dream?"
A flush ran up Chuck's cheeks and he shook himself, his eyes flicking up briefly to the doctor's. "Sam uh...he slept with Ruby."
"I see. And was this part of your dream?"
"Yeah. A very...detailed and lengthy and sweaty part." He lowered his head to his hands. "I can't stop seeing them, they're like...seared into my brain."
"This Sam, is he like you?"
Chuck laughed. "Not so much, no. Sam, he's-- he's a giant. Six and a half feet of muscle, long hair and he has these powers."
"What kind of powers?"
"You know some basic stuff--visions, telekinesis, but he doesn't care about any of that. What he really wants to get better at is exorcisms."
Chuck nodded and held up his hand, palm facing out. "He can pull demons out of the people they're possessing, but it hurts--gives him nosebleeds."
The doctor nodded circling 'religious fixation' on his notes. "Why does Sam want to exorcise demons?"
"Well, because they're evil," Chuck said, like the question was silly. "But also because they took Dean to Hell. He's obsessed with getting Dean out, because it's his fault he's there."
Doctor Sinclair added the words 'guilt complex,' to his notes and smiled at Chuck. "Is there anything in your past you feel particularly guilty about?"
Chuck stared at him blankly. "Um...not really, no."
"What is it that's upsetting to you about these dreams?"
"Ruby--the demon Sam's sleeping with. She's bad news."
'Past relationship issues,' was written neatly under 'guilt complex.'
"But Sam, he doesn't see it, or doesn't want to. He just wants to get strong enough to get Dean out, or at least avenge his death."
"When you have these dreams, are you Sam?"
"Me, Sam?" Chuck laughed tightly. "No, I'm not Sam."
"Are you sure? You don't think he's an idealized version of you? Or what you think you should be? Tall, strong, powerful..."
"No! I--I'm not him in the dreams, I have to watch him! And his stupidly defined back muscles while he carries Ruby around like she weighs nothing." He rolled his eyes. "I'm on the same diet he is most of the time: pizza and whiskey, so why aren't my abs sharp enough to cut glass?"
"And like that's not bad enough, watching them do that, now she's making him--" He cut himself off.
"Making him what?"
"She's uh...making him drink her blood."
"Interesting. And how does that make Sam feel?"
"How the hell should I know?"
"He's your character."
"I mean...based on the noises he makes, I don't think it makes him feel all that bad," Chuck said. "Because he makes a lot of noises and they're-- they're happy noises." He dropped his head in his hands again. "Oh god, what's wrong with me?"
"How long has it been since you've been in a romantic relationship with someone, Chuck?"
"And have you attempted to form romantic relationships in that time?"
"Kinda. I mean I-- I don't go out that much, but sometimes I go to this local bar. One time I got a phone number."
"And how did that turn out?"
"It was the number for the taco place across the street from the bar."
Doctor Sinclair nodded to himself. "Have you considered making more of an effort to find someone?"
"Not lately. The way these visions--dreams--have been going, shit's about to hit the fan. I'm gonna be busy writing."
'Social Anxiety / Avoidance.' "Maybe if you had a more active social life, your dreams wouldn't be as distracting."
"Doubt it. I mean, when Dean gets back, Sam's gonna be in trouble. He's gonna have some serious explaining to do."
"Dean, the character you sent to Hell?"
"I didn't send--" Chuck let out a frustrated huff. "Yes, that Dean."
"So you're going to write him back in?"
"Well, I never wrote him out, he's just--somewhere else right now. But they'll be a jailbreak soon."
"Is Sam going to free him?"
"I'm not sure yet, but I don't think so."
"But you said Sam has superpowers."
"Well yeah, but breaking somebody out of Hell, that's pretty hardcore. Sam's not strong enough to do that."
"Do you like having these dreams?"
"Are you kidding me? No! They're terrible. Everything in their lives ends in blood and heartbreak. But it's good drama though."
He's not wrong. The best drama always was full of blood and heartbreak, Andrew thought, pushing down an old memory. "I can give you a prescription for a sleep aid. It tends to prevent dreams, or rather--it's unlikely you'll remember what you've dreamt."
Chuck's face paled. "Then how am I supposed to write?"
"Do you like being a writer?"
"Not really. I write because I have to."
"Then what's the problem?"
Chuck shrugged his narrow shoulders. "I just--I need to see what happens."
"Mr. Shurley, you came to see me because you were unable to sleep."
"Well yeah, but..." He picked his nails nervously. "I think this is all heading towards something big. Something epic."
"I can write you a prescription for a mild sedative instead. It won't put you to sleep, but it will lower your stress levels somewhat."
"Yeah, okay. That sounds…helpful." Mr. Shurley smiled weakly and stood.
"You still have thirteen minutes."
"Oh. That's okay, I uh— I feel a lot better actually."
On the way home that night, Dr. Sinclair stopped by the convenience store near his practice to pick up some milk. They had a rack of bargain-priced paperback books, mostly trashy pulp novels. As he was waiting in line he noticed the cover of one of them. 'Supernatural: Phantom Traveler,'.
"Well I'll be damned," he muttered to himself, moving closer to the books. He picked up the paperback and turned it over, scoffing at the cover. He began paging through it and five minutes later stood at the register and paid eight dollars and twenty five cents for the book and the milk.
Later that night he ended up reading the book during dinner, continued after dinner, and finished the book before he fell asleep.
The next morning, a Saturday, he picked up the other two Supernatural books the convenience store had and then drove to three different local (and one not-so-local) bookstores finding the rest of them. He felt something flicker to life inside of him—something he'd thought he'd never feel again, not after they canceled his favorite show and he went into a deep depression for nearly three years. He never thought he'd care for characters again that deeply. And yet...
He called out from work on Monday, and then on Tuesday. By early Wednesday morning he'd finished all twenty-four books.
He drove to his office in a stupor and sat at his desk quietly, turning just one thought over in his head. How was Dean going to get out of Hell?
At 9:05, just ten minutes before his first appointment was scheduled, he picked up his phone. It rang three times, then four, then five until finally someone picked up.
"Hi, Mr. Shurley?"
"Yeah, who—" A long yawn followed. "Who is this?"
"It's Doctor Sinclair. Listen, I've just finished reading your books?"
"Oh yeah? That's great? Which ones?"
"All of them."
"Really? Wow that's…that's a lot."
"Listen you have to tell me how he gets out."
"Dean! He can't just be in Hell!"
"Oh, well…I don't know how he gets out, not yet."
"Well then you have to write it!"
"I will, when it comes to me."
"What do you need inspiration? Go back and read the last book! Think about what you're putting your fans through right now!"
"Are you my fan, doctor?"
"They're good books."
"Yeah they are. Okay, well uh, I'm gonna go write then, I guess. See you Friday?"
"Come in tomorrow if you want, or Wednesday. I'll clear a slot for you. Whenever you have something new."
"Okay, great. That's—that's really nice of you."
Chuck Shurley didn't come early that week. In fact he didn't show up for his scheduled follow-up appointment on Friday either. Since he didn't pick up his phone when Doctor Sinclair tried to call him again, there was only one thing left to do. After all, he'd read all twenty-four books three times and really, he had to know what was going to happen next. He just had to.
Chuck's house was small and looked like it needed some serious repair—especially the shingles on the right side of the roof, which had started sliding slowly downwards. But none of that changed the fact that he was a genius, and he'd created some of the most compelling characters ever.
Dr. Sinclair made his way quickly up the steps, clutching his copy of 'No Rest For the Wicked' and rang the doorbell.
After three minutes (and four more rings of the doorbell), Chuck opened the door. He blinked through the screen-door at Dr. Sinclair and said, "This feels…a little unprofessional."
"Oh it is—this isn't a business call." Andrew stepped forward, pressing the toe of his shoe against the door-jamb. His fingers were wrapped around the handle of the screen-door, but it appeared to be locked. "I just—your books are wonderful, and I just need to know happens to Dean, so I wanted to see if you'd written anything yet? I can proof-read it for you."
Chuck shook his head silently and then said, "No that's okay," and stepped backyard, closing the wooden door.
"No, wait!" the doctor yelled, pulling on the screen-door handle harder. The lock finally gave out and he forced his shoe over the threshold before the door closed all the way. "I need to know!" he yelled and then grabbed for the man's arm. He missed and the door slammed shut hard, pushing him back outside.
He'd spent long and hard thinking about his options, but really Chuck had left him no choice. The lights had been off for three hours now, so hopefully Chuck was deep asleep by now. If not, it didn't matter much. He just needed long enough to go in and get a look at the papers scattered across his living room. There was something in there about Dean, there had to be.
Quietly, he snuck around to Chuck's backyard and grabbed the spare key from the gutter. He'd watched Chuck use that key two days ago. He opened the door without making a sound, then winced as the door creaked when he pushed it open. He moved quickly to the living room and began picking up all the sheets of paper on the floor, glancing down at some. His eyes landed on one and he froze. 'Dean's eyes opened to darkness. He reached down into his pocket pulled out his lighter, his elbow hitting what felt like wood. Within seconds, he—'
"What the hell are you doing here?" Chuck's voice said form the stairwell.
"I needed to know." The doctor held up the sheet of paper he was reading. "He came back! I knew he'd comeback!"
"Put that down." Chuck walked down the stairs. "It's not done."
"No." Andrew's pulse sped up and he reached for the gun in his back pocket. "No, I need it." With a shaky hand he aimed the gun at Chuck.
There was a massive flash of light and a voice that spoke right through the doctor's bones saying, "No harm shall come to the prophet."
Then there was nothing.
Chuck shook his head and watched the piece of paper drift slowly back to the floor. He rubbed at his eyes and turned around, walking slowly back up the steps. The new sleep medication made it really hard to tell sometimes if he was awake or not, but this was obviously a dream.
He flopped back down on his bed, closed his eyes, and heard a voice like church-bells saying, "Dean Winchester is saved."