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And Back Again by whereupon Supernatural: Sam/Dean, early-ish… - all the poetry, and the trunk you kept your life in

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May 24th, 2011


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10:29 am
And Back Again
by whereupon
Supernatural: Sam/Dean, early-ish seasons, nc-17, 2,900 words.
They both know the danger of ritual.
lavinialavender made this much better than it was, once more.



They both know the danger of ritual, inherent in it, how maybe the first couple of times it seems like nothing, but power's gathering all the same, exponential-like, weaving something deep and dark and dangerous that sometimes can't be stopped until it's lit on fire, bones crackling, bleeding unholy light against the sides of a fresh-dug grave. S'mores, Dean says sometimes, shoulda brought marshmallows, Sammy, but they both know, too, better than to eat something forged from that kind of power, tempered with the last breaths of a spirit wrenched broken and wrong. They might've been raised rough, their Latin a tool of war rather than something mumbled on bended knees before the grace of the Lord and all that shit (though sometimes, sure, it's that, too, though it might not be the same grace-of-the-Lord you hear about in church; it's a matter of interpretation. Perspective, maybe.), but that's not to say their skills with that particular deceased language don't rival those of the most pious altarboy ever lay awake dreaming about the particular brand of salvation not found in the onionskin pages of some old leatherbound book but in the soft hips, curves and swell of a pretty girl's flesh.

That's the way you learn the best, you know. When you're atoning for something you know you did wrong, that's when you're sure to pay attention. Line the ruined places -- wounds whether on body, soul, or the dirt of the earth -- with salt, whether it be diluted in tears or sprinkled fresh from a battered canvas sack kept in the trunk between the box of ammo and the box of paperback novels; make it hurt, and whatever it was won't come back. It's just as true of mistakes -- words said at the wrong time, words said to the wrong person, and things which weren't mistakes but which hurt all the same -- as it is of the things they hunt.

They know, thirdly, their myths. Maybe they don't know where they came from, the origins per se -- though you might not want to be sure of that, underestimating them wouldn't be wise -- but they know as well as any classicist that you don't go around making claims against the gods (not unless you got a full set of weaponry, at least, and even then, hubris'll get you every damn time), as well as any folklorist that when you hear something out in the woods at night, you don't go wandering off to see what it is; ghosts have ways of blinding you, but if your lady love truly does need you, she won't be hiding out amongst the demonblack shadows of pine; they know as well as any storyteller than just because somebody slaps the words "the end" on something and shoves it six feet closer to Charon doesn't mean it's over.

They're not dumb, those boys, no matter that they were born the non-song version of just about a mile from Texarkana, middle of nowhere, middle of the whole fucking world, god-damned and god-blessed America with its prairie-gold heart that turns to ice and wind that'll scour your bones, come midwinter. No matter the way their daddy made sure they'll never forget where they came from, Midwest in their voices and dirt under their fingernails, the way sometimes late at night (or very early in the morning, they're two sides of the same coin anyway), when there's not enough sleep and no chance of rest for miles, their words start to sound like Texas, riding cattle dawn 'til dusk, drawls like anything in their lives has ever been slow and easy.

Yeah, I know, get to the point; all this poetry is nice, but it's not story, no rise and fall of action, no tension, no dénouement, as they say. That's what I'm telling you, though. This is the goddamn point, you want me to be precise about it. They know what they're doing; they don't do this kind of thing by accident. Sure, there's been times they got on the wrong side of a witch, maybe pissed off somebody selling spells, maybe Dean couldn't keep his smart mouth shut or Sammy asked the wrong question at the right time, tipped somebody off as to who they were, but that's different; that's work. They get cursed, they figure it out, they break the spell. Maybe they break a few fingers in the process along the way, and none their own. (Maybe they break a few hearts, too, but that's the way this kind of thing goes. There's girls and boys alike who can only ever fall in love with somebody they know's leaving, who can only ever whisper sweetheart when they're looking at the prospect of fading into the rearview, and that's not the fault of the somebody-in-question. It's not necessarily the girl-or-boy's, either, when you come down to it--)

Which isn't to say because that's work, this is play; it's not. Just because Sam shows his dimples, sweep of hair falling across his eyes in a decent approximation of innocence, or Dean smirks all prizefighter bravado doesn't mean it's anything but dead serious, and considering the possibilities, the possible, all-too-likely consequences, dead serious is just about as perfect a description you or anybody else could ask for.

They're courting death, those boys. Courting worse things, too; death isn't ever the worst thing there is. There's being left behind, for one. That particular scenario, however, is one that they'll be avoiding, the way they're going. And anyway, they've been courting death all their life; it's something they're used to, something they know how to do, razor's edge and they walk it like it's nothing, grin like there's a net strung below to catch them when they fall and they've never once needed it. It's all illusion, of course, and they know that; they've been reminded of it every day of their lives, they remind each other still, every goddamn day. (Unless they don't, unless they keep going forever, they've got all they need, right? They've got each other, they've got that car black as the underworld, maybe they don't need an end. Like I said, endings are only ever lies, anyway: turn the page, keep going. There's always a story there, even if it hasn't been written yet.)

Yeah, that is the point. They know full fucking well what they're doing, and they do it anyway. It looks a bit different every time, different lighting, different background, different soundtrack, but it's the same damn story, maybe a myth itself. Peel back the details, the skin, boil it down and you get this: Sam and Dean laying themselves bare for each other, before each other, giving each other their hearts, their souls, their names, their honor, the whole goddamn thing.

And you say, yeah, what else is new? And you got a smart mouth on you, too, but I see your point. They've been doing that ever since day one, right? All that shit about where they came from, about fire, about how this began, raised like warriors. Codependence, you could call it, blind love, absolute faith, whatever. Devotion.

But this is different, you say. This is wrong, this is something else entirely. And maybe it looks that way, but that's an illusion, too. Because this is true: there's never been somebody else for either of them, no matter how many times they tried, how close it seemed. I'll die for you never sounded the same from anybody else's mouth -- as if anybody else ever had occasion to say it, which they didn't.

So what is this, you say, sex? Fucking? Making love? And I say yes, pick any of the above, or make up a new one, choose your favorite verb. It's one hell of a line to cross, but they've been crossing lines all their damn lives; they live outside of lines. Without boundaries, where it comes to each other, which is every damn second of every damn minute of every damn hour, and so on, you get the point.

It looks a bit different, every time, but it's always the same, at the heart of it. Same ritual, same meaning. Damning themselves for each other, promising themselves to each other, and a score of other things, an array of other things, a thousand other things, some of which there aren't even words for; words don't even come close.

(For skin hospital-pale or summer-burned, freckled shoulders, muscle-plane and a map of scars; a kiss like a gut-punch, trigger-finger pull, love like you've been gutshot, like a knife between the ribs, the whole crushing weight of it and how you can learn to live like that, can get so you can't imagine living without it--)

And this, now and at last, is how it looks this time, if you're still here after all of that. I know; nobody likes a didactic. Forgive me, but it's context, and necessary; without it, this doesn't mean a thing. It's just two boys, after all. Two boys fumbling for each other, pushing against each other, hearts beating hard. Could be anybody, almost.

But it's not. It's them.

Side of the road, so far north they might well be into Canada, but it's summer, or at least not winter, no snow on the ground yet, so latitude's not as much of an issue as it would be (will be) another time. A backroad, of course, trees on either side, several shades of green, yellow, it's summer after all on this road that's named with a number, might as well be any other spoke in a great big wheel, sure, you know the song. It's not Seger on the tape deck, though; it's Page and Plant, Bonham and JPJ himself. Bring it on home, indeed, and there's weeds the color of wheat growing up from the ditch and a black-winged bird or two wheeling high overhead, and the sky's that huge wide-open blue like somebody blew a hole through this universe and into the next one, the kind of sky you only get when you're miles from anywhere in particular, too far out even for telephone lines, sky like it could swallow you up, drink you down.

This is background, you understand, details to set the scene; they don't register any of this, aside from maybe the music, guitar burn like a baseline, hardly more than white noise They're busy, see, distracted, because Sam's got Dean backed against the side of the car, one leg between Dean's own, but Dean's not going to go easy; he's got a hand in Sam's hair, is dragging his brother's face down so he doesn't have to stretch when he kisses Sam, not rough, but not soft, either.

Why'd they stop, you want to know, what are they doing here, other than the obvious? You want the truth? Listen. Listen close.

For the glory of it. Because they could. For this.

That's it, that's the whole reason, that's the truth, cross my heart and -- you know the rest.

Dean's kissing Sam, but Sam's kissing him, too, so it's really more that they're kissing each other. One-hundred-percent mutual. Dean's hand's still in Sam's hair, tangled there (Sam ought to cut his damn hair, make himself less of a target, but then they couldn't do things like this, or not exactly like this, anyway--), tight and hot on the back of Sam's neck, but Sam's got his hands on Dean, now, palm on the side of Dean's jaw, tilting Dean's face up -- he doesn't want to have to do all the work around here -- but don't get any ideas about one of them or the other being the girl in this relationship. That's not how it works, it's not even close, and if that's how you want to look at it, you can take your assumptions right back to 19-fucking-50, don't let the door smack your ass on the way out.

So they're kissing, right, Dean's got his tongue in Sam's mouth or maybe Sam's got his tongue in Dean's, both happen, the whole situation is, let's just say, shall we, fluid, in flux. Schrödinger's makeout session. Mouths, jaws, necks: they're both going to be sporting a couple of new bruises tomorrow, but blood's rising to the surface all over, you get my meaning, and this is far from either of their first time at the -- let's go with rodeo, the cowboy motif's nice. Got a kind of ring to it, don't you think?

So neither of them is rushing, exactly; it's kind of a contest in that way, seeing who can hold out the longest, the delay not at all from lack of knowledge. If either of them wanted, they could have the other out and gasping, sputtering, swearing, in less than a minute, maybe two; it's been like that, before, maybe not often, but often enough for it not to be a new thing. Sometimes it has to happen like that. Sometimes they're desperate, terrified, swear to me you're not going anywhere/I swear, I'm right here, except neither one of them would ever say something quite so pansy-ass, they claim, at least not at times like that, so they make do. Actions speak louder than words, after all, just like your momma or whoever, Otis Redding, maybe, if you grew up on music, told you.

But foreplay's only fun for so long, less so if you're not the one getting the attention, you know what I mean, and, look, neither of them's much for social niceties --

What? Yeah, he'll fool you every time. You gotta look past the skin; it's in the eyes.

So where was I, right, it's mutual, then, still, when they go for belt buckles, belts, zipper-flies. Opening each other's jeans, breathing like there's only one set of lungs, one heart, one body between them, though it's very clearly two, when Sam pauses for a second, just for a second, and Dean whines. Later he might claim it was a growl, or a mutter, a threat, gonna kill you you don't-- but we know the score. We know the story.

Trust me, I'm the one telling it.

And maybe you've heard that all writers are liars, that's what you say. That, however, is neither here nor there. You probably heard it from a writer, anyway; they like to talk big, you know, like to make themselves sound tougher than they are. But there's a difference between a writer and a story: you can tell lies about the one, but if you try to do the same with the other, it falls flat. Rings hollow, dead. You know, when it happens.

This is not a lie. This is a story.

Sam's the one who comes first, Dean's hand on his cock and his hips jerking, everything kicking into overdrive, into burnout, that long perfect slide of a ten-point landing, and he's not saying much of anything right now, not doing much of anything, not thinking much of anything, either, and that leaves Dean to do the work for both of them, just then; luckily it doesn't take much before he's following his brother right over that same cliff and oh, all the way down. The two of them slumped together, carrying each other's weight, heart-to-heart, let's say, because Sam's maybe slumping a little more, all that height to carry, you know, it's gotta get old. Tiresome. And both of their jeans are ruined, but it's temporary, nothing a cycle at the laundromat won't fix; a little salt isn't anything, is nothing new.

That's the other thing about salt, the thing I didn't say before. Sure as you can use it to mark a mistake, you can use it to mark other kinds of choices, too. Death, and life -- it's the intent that matters. Ritual, you know.

It's all just gestures, just words, unless you believe.

Unless you believe in the two of them, breathing hard, and how it's like nobody else in the world ever existed, at that moment. Like the world itself might not exist, might end on the other side of the car at Dean's back, and maybe just behind Sam's shoulder. In a couple of minutes, sure, maybe Dean will reach into the backseat for a rag, maybe it'll trade hands, maybe they'll straighten, meet each other's eyes, nod (if that, if that's even necessary; it's not, of course, but sometimes they do it anyway, affirming), turn away. Get back in the car and drive.

That's it, see. That's the ritual. That's everything. And sure, you can say, rituals are holy things, sacred, have to be done in the right place, on the right date, to count, in nomine patris, forgive me father, that's your own right.

But those aren't the only holy things, things done in churches, not the only promises, confessions, that count. And maybe it's a dangerous path they've chosen to go down -- rituals are never things to be taken lightly, you remember that -- but they do it willingly, and they do it for each other, and they do it over, and over, and over again. No matter the cost. Sometime's blood's nothing, compared to the cost of not bleeding.

They do it without blinking, too. Without hesitation. And they never, ever look back.

Let's call that an end, shall we?

--


Current Music: mélanie laurent, "en t'attendant"

(38 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:pinkwithoutplot
Date:May 24th, 2011 09:36 pm (UTC)
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"They've got each other, they've got that car black as the underworld, maybe they don't need an end. Like I said, endings are only ever lies, anyway: turn the page, keep going. There's always a story there, even if it hasn't been written yet.)"

I can't even begin to tell you how in love I am with your work. You've taken the essence of everything that is wonderful about this show and these characters and distilled it into this glorious little snapshot. And not only that but you manage to nail the nature of stories and writing and myth-making too:

"But there's a difference between a writer and a story: you can tell lies about the one, but if you try to do the same with the other, it falls flat. Rings hollow, dead. You know, when it happens.

This is not a lie. This is a story."

And of course the heart of it for me:

"Could be anybody, almost.

But it's not. It's them."

PERFECT. I can only offer you my awe and thanks <3
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:May 27th, 2011 03:08 am (UTC)
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And such beautiful things those are, that you've said here -- thank you, so much, for this. It made my morning. <3
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:May 27th, 2011 03:28 am (UTC)
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I kind of think I should maybe apologize for that, you know? But, still, I'm glad it worked -- so glad that it got that right, that these are the right characters and for the right reasons and . . .

Love YOU.
[User Picture]
From:lavinialavender
Date:May 25th, 2011 02:18 am (UTC)
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Hee. Yes, the comment above mine is exactly the response I expected for this fic. ♥

Because this is true: there's never been somebody else for either of them, no matter how many times they tried, how close it seemed. I'll die for you never sounded the same from anybody else's mouth -- as if anybody else ever had occasion to say it, which they didn't.

So what is this, you say, sex? Fucking? Making love? And I say yes, pick any of the above, or make up a new one, choose your favorite verb. It's one hell of a line to cross, but they've been crossing lines all their damn lives; they live outside of lines. Without boundaries, where it comes to each other, which is every damn second of every damn minute of every damn hour, and so on, you get the point.

Yes.
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:May 27th, 2011 03:41 am (UTC)
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Thank you very much, again, for making this better! (And for believing it worth posting, in the first place.) ♥
[User Picture]
From:lavinialavender
Date:May 27th, 2011 03:43 am (UTC)
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Always.
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From:runedgirl
Date:May 25th, 2011 03:21 am (UTC)
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This.....is so them. Thank you for the gorgeous storytelling :)
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:May 29th, 2011 09:17 pm (UTC)
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I'm so glad that it seemed right for them! Thank you for the lovely note. :)
[User Picture]
From:galwithglasses
Date:May 25th, 2011 08:50 am (UTC)
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The written images here are amazing. The third person really works so well.
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:May 30th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, very much! I'm delighted that this was effective, and that you enjoyed it. :)
[User Picture]
From:imonlyobsessed
Date:May 25th, 2011 03:41 pm (UTC)
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That was beautiful and amazing and poetic and I don't even have the words.... So many truths. You kinda cut right to the heart of why we all love them.
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:May 31st, 2011 12:39 am (UTC)
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Oh, wow, that's such a lovely thing for you to say! Thank you, so much. :)
[User Picture]
From:escherzo
Date:May 26th, 2011 06:07 am (UTC)
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Everything you write has a wonderful, unique poetry to it, and this is no exception. Love this ♥
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:May 31st, 2011 02:49 am (UTC)
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That's so kind of you to say -- thank you! And I'm very happy that you enjoyed this one, too. ♥
[User Picture]
From:escherzo
Date:June 18th, 2011 05:47 am (UTC)
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I've been meaning to ask--what's your policy on letting people podfic your writing? I'd love to do one for this, if you don't mind.
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:June 18th, 2011 10:18 pm (UTC)
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Oh, wow, I'd absolutely be honoured if you were to do one for this! It's lovely of you to even consider it. I'd not mind in the least. :D
[User Picture]
From:escherzo
Date:June 19th, 2011 01:25 am (UTC)
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Awesome! It's up here at amplificathon, if you want to take a look. First podfic I've ever really put out there so I hope I did it justice.
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:June 20th, 2011 05:30 am (UTC)
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Oh holy mother of GOD, this is like the most amazing thing EVER. (And also, oh my god, you have such a fantastic voice. Which I hope is not a weird thing to say.)

Thank you so much for this! May I make a post linking to it at amplificathon?

*goes to listen again*
[User Picture]
From:escherzo
Date:June 20th, 2011 05:40 am (UTC)
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Thank you! (Not weird at all, or at the very least, I certainly don't mind)

Sure, go ahead! I'm glad you like it.
[User Picture]
From:maerhys
Date:May 27th, 2011 02:15 am (UTC)
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Such a gorgeous narrative! The structure for the story is perfect and feels incredibly fresh - it makes the prose sing. Your characterizations are so spot-on, and those last lines just vibrate with so much unsaid in the few words. I just love the entire tale, lovely work.
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:June 2nd, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
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You always say such lovely things! Thank you, so much. <3
[User Picture]
From:maerhys
Date:May 27th, 2011 11:44 am (UTC)
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Congrats! ☆ Your fic is recced here at sawedoff_recs.
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:June 2nd, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, very much! :D
[User Picture]
From:livrelibre
Date:May 28th, 2011 12:13 am (UTC)
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Oh, this was great!
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:June 3rd, 2011 04:20 am (UTC)
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Thank you so much! :)
[User Picture]
From:orbiting_saturn
Date:May 31st, 2011 03:24 am (UTC)
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That was such a unique narrative. I'm really quite impressed. Fantastic storytelling, really.
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:June 4th, 2011 01:40 am (UTC)
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I'm delighted that it worked for you! Thank you very much for the note. :)
[User Picture]
From:cybel
Date:June 19th, 2011 01:58 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:June 21st, 2011 08:32 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for the link! :)
[User Picture]
From:elizardbits
Date:July 3rd, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
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Your writing is always so visceral and so intense and gets so deeply under my skin that sometimes it is almost hard to read, because it makes me feel ALL THE THINGS, ALL AT ONCE. *shivers*

Please don't ever stop.
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:July 5th, 2011 11:54 pm (UTC)
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These past few days(/weeks), I've been ridiculously ambivalent about writing . . . anything . . . ever again, but your words here make me want to open word RIGHT NOW and actually start writing that thing I've been putting off; it . . . is possible that I cannot emphasize enough my appreciation for this. (Also, it is possible that I am abusing ellipses in this response.) Thank you for that, and also, very much, for the kind words themselves! <3
[User Picture]
From:aliaswestgate
Date:August 6th, 2012 02:58 am (UTC)
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Oh this is a lovely bit of work. I'm adding it to my memories. It evokes Sam and Dean so very well, what they go through and their devotion because of it. Your use of traditional fireside narrative was an amazing touch. Absolute genius, as i rarely see it used nowadays. :D This is storytelling at its best. Mind if i friend you?
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:September 17th, 2012 07:28 pm (UTC)
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Oh! Wow. Thank you so much for the awesome comment! I'm delighted that this one worked so well for you. <3 No worries at all about friending -- I'd be honored. And it is lovely to meet you!
[User Picture]
From:weekend_exile
Date:September 9th, 2012 04:54 pm (UTC)
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this was... well, it's the closest anyone's getting to the perfect story in this fandom. sometimes the truth of what brought us here in the first place gets lost in the trenches, all those fics and fanworks that are exemplary on their own, but somehow take us further and further away from where we started from. but this. this is pretty much an indepth exploration of how we all know it plays out.

the buildup, the backstory knocked me clear off my feet. there's a level of control in this, an unhurried pace that suggests that you're in no hurry to get the story over with, to box it up and shove it aside.

seriously, pal. you make that shit look easy. great, great job.

Edited at 2012-09-09 04:56 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:September 17th, 2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
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Oh, dude. Way to leave me wordless. What a fucking brilliant comment, oh my god. Thank you, very much. I'll be rereading your words many a time, I do believe.

Thank you, again. :)
[User Picture]
From:weekend_exile
Date:September 18th, 2012 01:56 pm (UTC)
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It's kinda epic, how much it's not a problem. You maybe should realize that written above is my way of saying I worship every sentence you've written here. Just saying.
[User Picture]
From:masja_17
Date:September 4th, 2014 05:16 am (UTC)
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Loved this! Needed to remember why I love this show after start of season 8 and ending of season 9. Thank you!


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