Disclaimer: Darn. The Pretty still are not mine.

CHARACTERS: Dean, Sam and John


By the time he was twenty-two, Dean Winchester realized he had become invisible.

The odd thing was that Dean was pretty sure he was not invisible to the outside world. People managed to avoid walking into him in the street. Pretty girls behind counters flirted with him. Motherly waitresses in all-night diners slipped him an extra slice of pie. Small-town sheriffs continued to eye him suspiciously, pretty damn sure he was trouble on biker boots.

When he hustled pool, no one pointed in astonishment and said, "Dang it, Earl, that there pool cue is just floating in mid-air! Ain't no one holding it. I gotta lay off the shine."

Or words to that effect.

So, it seemed pretty clear that, to all those folks out there, all of Sam's "normal" people, there was a person taking up the space where he stood, someone totally part of the visible spectrum.

No, his invisibility seemed to begin and end with the Winchester clan. At some point, John Winchester began to view what had once been his elder son as a weapon he could bring to hand, a hunting dog he could call to heel. A tool to be wielded.

And who noticed a tool?

Sam Winchester one day ceased to see—or perhaps, even want—a brother. Instead, he saw a resource to be used. A resource that would find a way, no matter what, to get Sam what he needed and wanted. A stand-in who would take his place on hunts so that could enter the essay contest as school, and who would take Dad's place when it came to signing report cards.

Sometimes, Dean was the net, marking the center line while his father and his brother lobbed insults at each other.

And who thinks about what a net wants?

Sometimes, he was a wall, keeping combatants apart who might otherwise end up ripping to shreds what was left of the Winchester family.

And who looks closely at a wall or pay attention to surface cracks and dents? Who asks what the wall needs?

Sometimes, he was the rope in the Winchester tug-of-war, stretched to the breaking point while his father and his brother each sought the victory.

And who sees if the rope frays a little here or there? Who cares if the rope once had dreams of its own?

When Sam finally stormed out to go to Stanford, he threw parting shots over his shoulder at his father, who fired back. He did not say goodbye to Dean; did not say "keep in touch"; did not ask Dean to come along; did not say, "Don't get killed." He did not even say, as he had said to his father, "I hate you."

Because you have to actually see something to hate it.

When his father left, there was nothing. No warning. No explanation. No "watch out for yourself." No "call me if you need help." No response when he did call.

And when Sam came back, there was no hello. No "how have you been?" No "It's not fair that after all these years of holding the family together, we left you alone and never kept in touch." There was only the desire to kill the Demon, that and the need to find his father.

His father and his brother, though they had never seen it—see? He wasn't the only thing that was invisible—had always been two peas in a pod. Now, they were more alike than ever. Both ready, eager, to throw away their lives in their pursuit of revenge.

Because, after all, who else was there to think of?

Odd then, wasn't it, that the Demon had not only seen him, but had also seen every fracture, chip, crack, fray? The scars of a lifetime. The Demon had hammered at his myriad fault lines, seeking to turn fissures into vast canyons.

And in shattering he had become visible at last. A thousand glittering pieces of diamond. His father's eyes, as he and Sam carried the third Winchester's shredded body to the Impala, had silently begged forgiveness, not only for what he had done while possessed, but also for what he had done—and not done—as John Winchester.

Sam, settling him into the back seat, had gripped his hand fiercely and had whispered, his voice thick with emotion, "Don't go, Dean. I know I'm the last person to have the right to ask this, but don't leave me. It's taken me way too long to realize how much I need you in my life. You promised you wouldn't let anything bad happen to me. Don't go."

As the familiar rumble of the Impala's engines reached his ears—though from way too far away, it seemed, and growing fainter all the time—Dean thought that it was nice to be visible again.

And that Sammy must have been a chick in another life.

By the time he was twenty-two, Dean Winchester realized he had become invisible.

At twenty-eight, he reappeared.

A/N: Hope you liked it. Please let me know, either way.