Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or its characters - these were created by Eric Kripke - I'm just borrowing them. I'm not making any commercial gain from this. No harm or infringement intended.

For John, Dean, and Sam no one's quite as they seem, these Winchesters are a lot more troubled, but are we ever really who we think we are? The clues are there if you look for them. AU: Season 1. Mental illness. Not slash. For Truddi and the Troops.

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The Three Faces of Winchester

Dean sat in his beloved Impala, eating from a large bag of chips, and staring up at his brother's apartment. It had been a long time since they had last seen, or even spoken, to each other. Not since Sam had left to attend Stanford, and Dean realized shamefully that he couldn't recall if it was two or even three years ago.

He had knocked at the door earlier, but Sam was obviously not home. Probably sitting in a library somewhere, Dean snorted to himself, the smirk fading as he thought of the curious looks he'd received; it must be so obvious that I don't belong in this neighborhood. Dean worried briefly that someone might warn Sam of his presence and he didn't want Sam spooked before he got a chance to speak to him.

It feels strange to be here, to be the one asking for help, Dean realized; he had always been cast in role of the protector. It was Dean that had carried Sammy from the burning house that had claimed their mother's life. Not that he really remembered the specifics, he had only been four years old after all, but it had been one of the few things that his father, John, had ever really praised him for, albeit only when Winchester senior was flying three sheets to the wind.

Dean jolted, realizing that he must have dropped off while reminiscing - unsurprising given the problems he'd had sleeping recently. Feeling as if he'd gone a couple of rounds with a boxer, Dean pulled himself from the car and strode to the apartment door.

Sam opened the door just as Dean was about to knock on it. I hate it when he does that, thought Dean, thinking of all the times that Sam seemed to be instinctively aware of his presence, why just with me and not the big bads?

"Dean, what the hell are you doing here, man?" sighed Sam, putting on what Dean always thought of as 'Sam's bitch face'.

"Listen, Sam, we gotta talk," pleaded Dean.

"Sam?" called a female voice from within the apartment.

"Dad's on a hunting trip, and he hasn't been home in a few days," explained Dean.

"Hey, Jess, I need to go speak with my brother outside, I'll be back shortly," Sam called over his shoulder to a cute blonde.

Jess curled her lip with distaste, "Really? After everything you told me, you're going to speak him?"

"Hey!" called Dean in offence, the blonde conspicuously ignoring him.

Sam pulled her a conciliatory face, "I know, but family's family, y'know?" and with that he bustled Dean out of the way and pulled the door shut behind him.

"Listen Dean, I've had it with our dysfunctional family. I was never good enough for Dad, it was always 'Dean this' and 'Dean that'," Sam spat bitterly, "Dad's probably off on a bender, oh sorry, I mean another of his 'extended hunts' and he'll be back when it suits him."

Dean shook his head sadly, "That's not how it is Sammy, he's just always wanted to keep you safe."

Sam laughed humorlessly, "Oh, that's enough, man - I can't listen to this story again, it makes me sick, y'know? Look, what sort of man runs back to his dead wife after ordering his four year old to carry his baby to safety?" Sammy lowered his tone in response to the curious stares from passersby, "How any of us every survived so far is a mystery."

"No Dean," Sam hissed when it looked like Dean was going to interrupt, "I've been seeing a therapist since I've been here, and y'know what? It's only recently come clear to me, but I'm remembering a lot now, and what Dad did to us - well, it's nothing more than abuse, plain and simple."

"You shut your filthy mouth!" exploded Dean in a blazing, white-hot anger, grabbing his brother by the collar and throwing him against the door.

"What's going on? Are you ok?" called Jessica fearfully from behind the door.

"Go back to your girlfriend," spat Dean, and with that he was gone.

The call to John Winchester's cell triggered the inevitable recorded message that Dean didn't even bother to listen to anymore.

"Dad, it's Dean, I really need to speak to you," he pleaded, his voice suddenly small and choked, "please, let me know you're ok."

Sam held his head and groaned as he walked across the quad, he'd drunk heavily after the fight with his brother and had obviously passed out at some point to find himself in the morning crashed out on the couch.

He sighed heavily as his brother stepped out from behind the trees and stopped in front of him and pulled an exaggerated apology face, "Sorry, Sammy. Can we try again?" asked Dean contritely, "How 'bout I buy you lunch?" he grinned.

Dean squeezed himself into the booth seat opposite Sam, giving his usual bad boy smirk to the slightly frazzled-looking waitress. "I'll have the cheeseburger, and the apple pie, darlin'," he drawled, with a cheeky wink.

Looking at Sam pulling his disapproving bitch face, he added, "Oh, and a salad, thanks sweetie," he smiled.

In what seemed like only an instant later the waitress was back piling food on the table in front of him.

"Wow, that was quick," laughed Dean, as he tucked into the greasy burger while sliding the green salad across the table. "This is great," he mumbled through a mouthful of food, "feels like I've not eaten in an age."

Sam scowled in disgust at his brother's lack of table manners and moodily pushed the salad from one side of the plate to the other with his fork.

"So, this college thing must be really working for you, you can't be bothered with your family anymore," smiled Dean insincerely - even when he wanted something, he still couldn't quite make himself turn off the snark.

"It was Dad who said if I was going to go, I should just stay gone," sniped Sam, "and that's what I'm doing."

"Dad's in real trouble right now - if he's not dead already. I can feel it," said Dean intently, "I can't do this alone," he pleaded.

"Yes, you can," it was less an encouragement and more a statement of fact.

"Yeah, well. I don't want to," Dean answered petulantly, starting on his pie.

"So when Dad went hunting, why didn't you go with him?" asked Sam curiously.

"I was doing my own gig," frowned Dean, "this voodoo thing, down in New Orleans," he continued, sounding strangely unconvincing to Sam's ears.

Sam sighed heavily, "What was he hunting?" he relented.

"He was looking into a couple of disappearances on a highway just outside Jericho, California. That was about three weeks ago. I hadn't heard from him since, which is bad enough,"

Dean held up his cell phone, "Then I get this voicemail late last night."

He played back a message that was heavily distorted with static, "...something... starting to happen... I need to try and figure out what's going on. It may... Be very careful... Dean... We're... in danger."

Sam gave another of his heavy sighs that never seemed far away when family was concerned, "Ok," he relented, "but I need to be back for Monday."