Title: I am just a broken dream
Fandom: “Supernatural”/“Dark Angel” crossover
Disclaimer: not my characters; title from Dolly Parton.
Warnings: AU after season three for “Supernatural”
Pairings: none stated
Point of view: third
They took Ben just after his eighth birthday. Mom fought, but the last Ben saw of her, she’d fallen to her knees, a gun to her head.
I love you, her lips said, and then she jerked, half her head gone, blood and brain everywhere.
Ben shut down. He let them do what they wanted, while in a far corner of his mind he sobbed for his mother, he cried for Dean to come save him.
He woke in a hospital. “Welcome back, 493,” a cold man in a suit said.
Ben didn’t respond. A savagery he’d never felt before was swirling in him. Rage choked him. If he hadn’t been strapped down, he knew he’d have gone for the man’s throat.
“You’ll spend some time in Psy-Ops to make sure the Braedon woman hasn’t ruined you, then we’ll put you with a unit.” The man stared at him, waiting. When Ben didn’t speak, he demanded, “493, do you understand?”
“I want my mom,” Ben said. “I want my mom right now!”
The man glared. “You don’t have a mother, 493. You don’t have a father. The Braedon woman stole you—you’re our property and we paid a good deal of money to make you.”
Ben decided he was done and went back into his mind. Of course he had parents. His mom was Lisa Braedon and his dad—his dad was Dean Winchester, who had saved him from monsters.
He didn’t know how long passed, but he buried himself deep, where the outside world couldn’t touch. He was Ben Braedon, son of Lisa and Dean, and no one could control him.
They broke him anyway, the doctors with cold hands and sharp knives. They cut him open and ripped him apart and then sewed him back together as their good little soldier.
“Who are you?” the cold man asked, and something stirred deep in his mind, but he answered, “I am X5-493.”
The man smiled. “Do you have parents?”
The man was smugly satisfied. “Watch him for a week. If nothing changes, put him with a unit.”
He dreamed of a woman with kind eyes and dark hair and a smile that made him happy. He dreamed of a man with gentle hands and strong shoulders, who kept him safe.
When they placed him with other soldiers, 493 kept to himself. The others had been together for a long time and they watched him warily. Days passed. He trained with them, ate with them, and slept with them.
Finally, one of the females, 452, said, “I’m Max.” She introduced the rest of them and asked, “What do you wanna be called?”
A few of the others tossed out names and words, but he said softly, “Ben.” He didn’t know why, but something deep inside purred.
Ben found a place in the unit as the storyteller. For some reason, his imagination was better than anyone else’s in the unit. He told them about monsters, nomlies in the basement. He told them of the Blue Lady, with kind eyes and dark hair. He told them about a man, the Hunter, who saved children from the evil night.
It was Ben’s idea to leave. He knew there was something better out there, a place of safety and happiness.
They got separated, of course, and went to ground. Ben kept moving east, drawn by something he couldn’t explain. He avoided people, scavenged or hunted for food, slept in the trees. He double-backed and took scenic routes, constantly checked over his shoulder. No one followed him.
The further away he got, the more he remembered. Mom, birthday parties, chocolate, TV. Freedom to choose.
That last day haunted him, Mom crying and screaming, her blood—the cold man with the gun.
Ben doubled over, tears on his face, as he remembered everything. Over a year since they took him, since he became 493 only to become Ben again. Over a year since he locked everything deep inside, Mom and who Ben was, and Dean Winchester.
He started running, quit covering his tracks. Maybe his memory lied. Maybe Mom wasn’t dead.
The day after Ben got to Cicero, Indiana, the Pulse happened. The world went crazy and Ben watched from high up in a tree half a block from his old house as people rioted. Once they’d exhausted themselves and gone home, he dropped to the ground and padded to his house. It stood empty and dark, and he smelled dried blood. He paused in the doorway, hesitant now that he’d finally arrived.
Mom really was dead. Gone. Over a year ago while Ben just stood there.
He heard someone move inside the house. Someone in his mother’s house. He snarled and rushed in, teeth bared. Up the stairs, down the hall, into his mother’s room—two bodies on the bed, breathing in tandem, and a gun pointed at him.
“Be quiet,” the man holding the gun said. “You’ll wake him.”
Ben stopped. Stared. “Winchester,” he whispered.
The man cocked his head to the side, but the gun didn’t waver. “Ben Braedon?” he asked.
Ben nodded. “You’re in my house,” he said.
The other man—DeanDeanDean—stirred and slowly rolled over, sitting up with great care. Ben smelled old blood again.
“Is he alright?” Ben asked, stepping forward. Dean’s brother—if Ben remembered right—lowered the gun to support Dean.
“Hey, I got you,” Dean’s brother murmured. “I’m here, Dean. It’s Sammy.”
Ben padded over to the bed in time to see Dean’s eyes blink open. “Sammy?” he muttered.
Sam, that was right. Sam. Ben remembered him as large and competent, always in the background. Quiet. Kept to himself, but carried two kids at a time to the car.
Dean’s eyes widened when he focused on Ben and he shied away, curling into Sam. His breathing quickened, so shallow Ben thought he’d pass out.
“What happened?” he asked at the same time Sam commanded, “Back up.”
Ben did on reflex. No one at Manticore ever sounded so dangerous.
“Dean, Dean, he’s out of reach now. He’s just a boy, Dean; he’s just Ben Braedon. Remember him?” Sam’s voice was so gentle, so calm, Ben felt soothed himself. “Dean, can you look at me?”
Slowly, Dean raised his head, fingers clenched around Sam’s arm. This man was not the Dean he had known, so bright and alive. He’d broken somehow.
“Ben,” Sam whispered, turning his head a little. “Back up some more.” Ben did and Sam kept petting Dean’s back, murmuring something Ben heard but couldn’t understand.
Ben sank down against the wall, wrapping his arms around his knees. He lost Mom over a year ago. How long was he inside his head, getting ripped part? Ben still didn’t know.
Mom was stolen, but here he found Dean again. And he was not just Ben Braedon anymore. He was X5-493, a soldier. He couldn’t protect Mom, and somehow Dean got shattered, too. But Ben found him again and now Ben would take care of him.
“If there anything I can do?” Ben asked softly, studying Dean’s face—he looked pale, sunken-in, smelled like blood and pain and fire.
“There’s water in a cooler downstairs,” Sam said, cradling Dean. “Please.”
Ben crawled out of the room and the raced down the stairs, taking five steps at a time. He grabbed the whole cooler and carried it back up. While he’d been gone, Sam had stretched Dean out and stripped him. Dean’s body was far slighter than Ben remembered; he looked starved. And he was covered in scars. Ben could name which weapon gave them all.
“Water,” Sam said, staring at Dean, running his hands along Dean’s skin slowly and with great care. Ben dug into the cooler; it was full of water bottles, lunchmeat, cheese, and juice boxes. He grabbed a bottle and walked over to Sam.
Dean’s eyes were closed, his breathing deep. “Open it,” Sam murmured and Ben twisted the top off. “Pour some onto his chest. Just a little.”
Ben did, carefully, and the instant Sam opened his mouth, Ben stopped.
Whimpering, Dean jerked as the cool water touched his skin, but Sam’s hands were there, spreading the liquid out, making soothing noises, and Dean calmed. “Place the bottle on the table,” Sam said, that same soothing lilt in his voice. “And make a sandwich outta the ham and cheese.”
“Is there bread?” Ben asked, following Sam’s commands.
“Doesn’t matter.” Sam turned Dean over and repeated the bath on his back. “But, yeah, I think there is. I stocked up two days ago, before all the craziness.”
Ben nodded and returned to downstairs. Before Manticore, he’d never noticed just how good his eyesight was; he’d figured everyone could see like a cat. No power meant the house was as dark as a forest away from Sam’s lantern, since the moon was just a sliver in the sky, but that didn’t slow him down at all. He found a loaf of bread, smelled it to make sure it wasn’t moldy, and brought it back up to Sam.
Sam had Dean sitting up against the headboard, a blanket draped over his shoulder and around his waist. Sam was next to him, holding the bottle of water to his mouth. Ben quickly assembled sandwiches and slowly brought it over to Sam, making sure to stay as far from Dean as possible. Sam took them with one hand while lowering the bottle. Ben waited till Sam nodded his thanks before backing away.
Dean’s eyes tracked Ben but he didn’t react this time. Sam ripped a corner off the first sandwich and held it up to Dean’s mouth. Ben settled against the far wall and lowered his head onto his arms, making himself small. He closed his eyes, listening to Sam feed Dean.
Ben had no idea what happened to the strong, sure man in his memory. Dean had been so bright. A little more than year—everything changed so much. Mom, Ben himself, the world. And Dean.
“Enough,” Dean muttered and Ben looked up. Half the sandwich and the entire bottled water gone, and Dean’s eyes mostly closed.
Sam slightly jerked his head. Ben smoothly rose to his feet and padded over, gathered up the uneaten sandwiches. He took them back to his spot and ate most of them in huge gulps. When he finished, Dean was under the covers, either asleep or almost, and Sam was watching him.
“I visited two months ago,” Sam said quietly. “Your mother was dead and you were missing.” He slipped off the bed and stretched. “I needed a place, Ben. I didn’t go looking.” He met Ben’s eyes and turned down the lantern before striding over to hold out a hand. “I felt bad about it, but I didn’t have the time.”
Ben let Sam pull him up. “You can stay here,” he said, knowing his permission didn’t matter.
Sam huffed a laugh. “Thanks.” He rubbed at his eyes. “You should go on to bed,” he said. “While he’s asleep, I’m gonna check the perimeter.”
“I’m not tired,” Ben told him. “I’ll keep watch.”
Sam studied him for a long moment. In the darkness of the room, Ben saw clearly, and he got the feeling Sam saw just fine, too.
No normal person could, so what did that mean?
“If he wakes up,” Sam said, “don’t touch him. Just speak softly. Try to keep him calm, but don’t touch him.”
Ben nodded his understanding and Sam strode out the door. Immediately, he popped back in to say, “If you can’t help touching him, stay where he can see you.” Then he was gone for real.
With nothing to occupy his time but a sleeping man, Ben thought about his unit. His siblings. Had they been his family, or just a group of kids Manticore threw him into? Did he love them like he loved Mom? Did he miss them with the same sharp, throbbing ache?
On the bed, Dean thrashed and keened. Ben hurried to him, reaching out to soothe with his hands, like he’d watched Sam do, then remembered Sam’s orders to not touch. Dean trembled beneath the blankets, hands clutching for something—Sam, Ben guessed.
“It’s alright,” he said softly, balancing on the edge of the bed. “Dean, Sam’ll be back soon, I promise.”
Dean’s eyes shot open and Ben shied away from the pure white, so bright in the dark it made him flinch. As Ben scurried out of reach, Dean sat up, pupil-less eyes watching him.
Dangerdangerdanger, Ben’s instincts screamed. Get out, get away, runrunflee!
He froze, didn’t breathe. Eyes on the predator. He could make it to the door, maybe. But Dean was unknown, clearly not human. He still smelled of blood and fire and pain, but anger had joined the scent.
“Who are you?” Dean demanded. Even shirtless, wrapped in a thick blanket, ribs sharp, he was so obviously a threat that Ben wondered about the weakness he’d seen before.
Ben was very glad he hadn’t touched Dean.
“I’m Ben Braedon,” he answered. “You saved me from—changelings, I think you called them. You told me to kick Ryan Humphries in the gnads after he stole my game. My mom kissed you goodbye.” He blinked back the tears. He would not show weakness in front of a predator.
Dean slumped down, eyes darkening back to hazel. “Ben Braedon,” he repeated. “Lisa.”
Ben heard Sam on the stairs but didn’t react. “Lisa was my mom,” he said. “She died a few weeks after you left.”
Sam walked in, pausing. Ben kept still, crouched on the floor. “Dean,” Sam called softly. “Dean, it’s okay. He’s a—friend. Ben is a friend of ours. Not a threat.”
Dean scoffed, throwing himself backwards and burrowing under the blanket. “Know that, Sammy,” he muttered. “Not stupid.”
Ben breathed out in relief. He glared up at Sam, who once again offered a hand. Ben ignored it this time, lunging up. “Tell me,” he hissed. “What happened?”
Sam nodded. “In the hall,” he murmured. “I’ll be close enough to keep him calm.”
Leaning against the wall, a stone’s-throw from his old room, Ben watched Sam pace. “Dean died,” Sam finally said in a rush. “Five weeks ago. I couldn’t get him back for half a month, and when I did, he’d changed. He remembers, but won’t talk about it, and he doesn’t sleep except for minutes at a time.”
Ben stared at him. “He died, but you got him back?” he asked. “I could get Mom back?”
Sam winced. “No,” he replied gently. “Your mother is dead, Ben. Dean sold himself to Hell, so I had some wiggle-room, but… I don’t know. I was too late, or something got left there. He’s different.”
Ben said, “His eyes were white.”
Sam nodded. “They do that sometimes. I can’t—Ben, I’ll send you to a friend, if you want. Dean is dangerous. I’m safe, and I can protect myself, anyway. But you—if he lashes out in a nightmare, I don’t know that I could shield you in time.”
Ben shook his head. “I decided, when I met Dean, that he’s my dad. And I’m not leavin’.”
Sam blinked, opened his mouth, blinked again, then canted his head. “That… actually makes sense, now that I think about it.” He studied Ben, there in the dark hall no human could see in. “You look just like him,” Sam murmured. “Exactly.”
Something banged downstairs. “I sealed the doors and windows,” Sam said. “Only a human could get in.”
Ben listened. “Three heartbeats,” he reported.
Sam glanced back towards Dean and Ben said, “Go keep him calm. I’ll deal with this.”
“What?” Sam reached for him but Ben hurried down the hall, took the stairs in three leaps, and landed on a man’s back. All of them had guns, were grizzled, and the leader tried blinding him with a flashlight.
Bloodlust welled up in him. These men were trespassers, not part of the unit. Strangers. Prey.
Ben tore into them, unhesitating. In fifteen seconds, all three men were on the floor with broken necks. He listened carefully, but only heard Sam and Dean, so he checked the perimeter. The lock had been picked on the back door so he closed it, locked it again, and hurried upstairs to report the breach. Sam stood in the doorway, body held in preparation, ready to move.
He nodded when Ben mentioned the door. “I sealed us in completely,” he said. “But humans can just turn the knob.”
Ben had no idea what he meant. “We should board up the doors and windows,” he suggested. “Do you have wood somewhere?”
Sam bit his lip, brushing his hair out of his eyes. “I think I can shield us ‘til sunup, if I really focus. After that, you and I can deal with it.” He shot a look over his shoulder. “I just don’t want to leave him alone in the dark.”
“Do whatever you need,” Ben told him. “I’ll keep watch.”
Sam clapped him on the shoulder. “Ben,” he said. “What happened since the changelings?”
Ben shrugged. “I became a solider.”
Sam’s chuckle was bitter. “Yeah,” he said. “You’re a Winchester.”
Dean whimpered in his sleep. “Go to him,” Ben said. “I’ll keep watch.”
Sam nodded. “Thank you, Ben.” He smiled and turned, took the two steps to the bed. Ben settled just inside the door, senses on full alert. Mom was dead. All he had was Dean and Sam, and whether they needed X5-493’s protection or not, he was staying to give it.