Rating: PG-13 (a smidge of language)
Fandom: SPN, gen (Dean, season 2)
Word Count: about 600
Summary: Dean has never been in the armed forces.
Notes: We were discussing the military mindset in one of my classes this afternoon, and after a stupid comment about brainwashing was effectively dismantled and disarmed by my professor, I got to thinking about Dean here. Just a short piece, unbeta'd, set during the events of AHBL, pt. 2.
Thanks for reading!
Dean has never been in the armed forces.
Like, the United States Armed Forces, with a crisp uniform and dog tags and a service record. No, he's never been enlisted but he was raised by a Marine and Dean feels that, toe to toe with a real soldier he'd probably hold his own just fine. He's got the weapons training, the stealth abilities, the dogged determination and endurance, and probably a few other things in spades too.
John said once that Dean didn't know what it was like, couldn't ever know what real service was like. John said it with that gleaming superiority like there was something unique and utterly intangible that set soldiers and citizens apart.
One of John's old Marine buddies used to talk about the way service changed a man, deep in his soul. Dean can remember one night, camped out under the stars when he and Sam were supposed to be asleep but Sam wouldn't stop wriggling around in the sleeping bag they were sharing and John and his friend weren't using those hushed, adult voices so really Dean couldn't help but overhear and shit, Sammy, lie still already.
Anyway, this guy, John always called him Boone, told a story about back when soldiering became a real profession, when army men started getting paid for their service in money instead of wounds and violent memories. Boone said it was tough getting the men to work together and protect each other since their fidelity could be sold to the highest bidder. They, whoever was in charge back then, thought the best way to fix the problem was to instill a sense of pride in the men and make the profession more honorable.
They'd say, aren't you proud to serve in Commander So-and-so's army? And of course those men didn't give a flying damn which cotton-assed commander they served under. What's so great about being just another ant in a colony of thousands? Nothing, that's what. You still plod into battle and you still die an anonymous death and no one will be there to remember whether you were brave or merciful or even scared.
So that's when they started to break massive armies down into smaller, more manageable groupings. You've got the army, and a couple corps made up of a few divisions, and those divisions have regiments and there are battalions, companies, and platoons - right on down to a squad of about ten guys serving one squad leader.
Ten guys. A soldier could define himself in terms of the entire theatre of war (maybe more than a million clones) or one in a group of nine other sons of bitches who knew what color underwear you were wearing (faded green) and how you liked your beans cooked (burnt).
That's where the brotherhood is born and nurtured. Your shell-shocked ass is right in that bunker with those other guys and that insane connection you've forged over months, years of teamwork and cohesion is what makes you stand up, draw fire, and maybe take a few bits of lead in the place of someone else. You'd do anything, rational self-preservation instincts be damned, to save the guy standing next to you because you know, you know that he feels the same way.
So yeah, when it comes right down to it, Dean's never served in the armed forces.
But as he slides behind the wheel of the Impala with his lips fresh from sealing a damning deal with a demon, he most certainly knows what it's like.