Fic: Unseen [SPN]

Last prompt fic from this past summer! wetsammy asked for SPN: One of the brothers finds a cursed mirror in the Bunker. This isn't exactly that, but I hope it still satisfies.

Dean feels kind of stupid riding around with a blindfold on, but it's better than glancing over to the driver's seat and seeing only emptiness where Sam should be, or looking out the window and into a world devoid of people. Or even evidences of them, like doors opening and shutting or dogs being taken for a walk; the curse is pretty thorough, and the resulting stutter-step of everything touched by human hands had started to give him a headache.

"You doing okay?" Sam's voice asks, tinny through the speaker on Dean's cellphone.

"Not really," Dean admits to the seemingly-empty car. "This is messing with my head more than I expected." If he tried to reach out to touch where he knew Sam must be, he'd just wind up pressing his hand against the seat back or the steering wheel or something. He'd given up on it after only a few attempts, creeped out by the lack of control over his own body. It was worse, somehow, than when skeezeball Cuthbert or the Oz-witch had done it.More insidious.

"You want to eat? It's pushing one o'clock."

He's not really hungry, but the distraction would be welcome, and they probably have another seven hours or so before they reach the bunker with its supplies for Sam to un-whammy him. "Yeah, sure. Your turn to pick, anyway."

"Drive-through? Or do you want me to just run in and grab something?" What Dean wants is for them to just keep going and get home as quickly as possible, but that's not fair to Sam, who's already been driving for five hours on just about no sleep.

"You can just grab something, I guess." But then he imagines sitting alone in the parking lot, unable to see or hear if someone came along and knocked on his window-- "No, let's do drive-through."

A couple minutes later Sam pulls off into a parking lot that desperately needs to be repaved. "Hey, uh, maybe you should take the blindfold off while we're in here? Don't want anyone to think I'm kidnapping you or something."

There's a twinge of panic at the suggestion, but Dean grits his teeth and ignores it, forcing himself to pull the blindfold off in one quick jerk. Just like a band-aid, nothing to it.

Except that aside from Sam's voice over the phone, he's once again the only person left on earth.

"Wendy's? Still got a crush on those freckles and pigtails, I see," and it's a stupid big brother joke, the kind he doesn't make much anymore, but he has to say something to fill up the emptiness surrounding him. Maybe Sam can hear the desperation he's trying to cover, because he doesn't say anything in response, just pulls them around to the drive-through.

"Welcome to Wendy's, may I take your order?" And apparently a drive-through speaker can circumvent the curse just as well as a cellphone, which is enough to buoy Dean through another 10 minutes of silent, invisible people and items that move themselves when he blinks.

He leaves the blindfold off while he eats, and doesn't bother to put it back on after--Sam's going off on a rant about how Red Sonja deserves to be remembered for more than just the actress's outfit, and then they have a nice bicker over whether or not it deserves to be called the third Conan movie. And yeah, it's still weird having the seat empty beside him, but they're just about the only car on the road now and there's nothing but rolling hills on either side, so he's able to deal with it.

At least until his phone starts beeping at him. "What's up?" Sam asks, and Dean's good mood abruptly evaporates when he sees that he's down to 5% battery.

"Have to recharge it," he says. Which wouldn't normally be an issue since they have an adapter in the glove compartment, but the connecting cable's been buggy recently and they haven't gotten around to replacing it yet.

He's going to have to hang up.

"Hey," Sam says, "I'm not going anywhere, you know?"

"Yeah, I know," Dean says to his phone, because he does know--he's just being dumb. "I'll--just take a nap, I guess." He's been up just as long as Sam has, after all. Still, he finds himself hesitating, thumb hovering over the power button. Has to force himself to press it.

"Bye," he says to the now-empty car.

Sleep takes awhile, but eventually he's able to doze off into uneasy dreams--he stalks the darkened halls of the bunker, searching endlessly for Sam, intent pulling heavy on his arm; every time he reaches for Sam, his brother dissolves away into curling black smoke; he calls Sam's phone, and calls and calls and calls, and never gets anything more than his own mocking voice in response.

"--glazed donut?" Sam asks. "Sure, that sounds good."

Dean's neck and shoulder hurt, but that's okay--means he's probably awake again.

"It's dumb," Sam says. "You bitch about it every time, and then every time you drink the whole thing anyway and go back for your free refill."

"'Cause it's free," Dean mumbles back. "You don't turn down free coffee." When he opens his eyes, he's still alone in the car, but she's parked in front of a Gas-and-Go. He still can't see anyone, and it's still creepy, but there's a wad of tape wound around the charger cord that's hooked up to his phone, and the battery indicator's green and back up to 82%.

"Keep telling yourself that," Sam says, and then "Oh, hey--you're awake. What kind of snacks do you want?" Which leads to him reading off the contents of what must be nearly every shelf in the store, a comforting wash of words that keeps going even after Dean's placed his usual order for jerky and Doritos. He closes his eyes and listens to Sam making small talk with the person behind him in line and the cashier--and then muttered comments to himself about both as he must be walking back to the car. Through the phone, Dean can hear the Impala's door squeal open, and out of reflex he holds a hand out for his promised food--eyes still safely shut. "Careful," Sam says, but then there's a hot cup of coffee safely in Dean's hand and teriyaki jerky in his lap and almost all is well with the world.

The curse is stupid and witches are the worst, but Sam's still there, no matter how well he's currently hidden.

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(still can't remember my LJ password and can't be bothered, but it's me, ZZ)--and, oh, this is perfect. The curse going backwards worked out beautifully--love the blindfold. And then the Sam-talking-to-him image worked out even better than I'd hoped. How delightfully... brotherly. Lovely.
The blindfold wound up being the catalyst to get the fic going--I kept sort of spinning in circles until that first line presented itself to me.

Thanks for helping me think it out! <3
Love it!!! The curse and how Dean struggles with it, and seeing Sam fix the charger for Dean was a wonderful touch. Thank you for sharing :)
And thanks for commenting! Always makes the next fic a little easier to got done. ;)

I can't take credit for the curse--zmediaoutlet came up with the premise for it--but the bit with the charger (both broken and fixed) seemed important once I came up with it, so I'm glad it worked for you.
Thank you brat! The subtle creepiness of not being able to see the people around you is the perfect curse for someone like Dean, who is so tactile and extroverted. The brothers’ banter as a means of comfort, Sam’s practical concern about kidnapping and then fixing the charger (so Sam), and that awful dream. I loved all of this!
You're very welcome! It was a good fic to close out the project on, I think--I really like how it came out (thanks to zmediaoutlet, who came up with most of the details for the curse).

This is wonderful. I love the strangeness of the curse, and Dean's ruminations here on how genuinely troubling that kind of thing would feel like. And I love the comment about the need to make a certain kind of joke that Dean doesn't make that often anymore, mmmm. <333
<3 <3 <3

So glad you enjoyed it! For about twenty minutes before posting I was sure it was utter trash, but I think I like it again now.
A creepy curse! I would love to see this expanded to find out more about how Dean got cursed and his initial reaction!
Alas--that's where I tried to start the fic initially, and it just refused to go. But I'm glad you enjoyed this bit! (Sometimes it seems like I really can write only interstitials, for some reason.)
Oh, I need this fic!
*rudely leaps into private conversation* What if, instead of trying to write about the beginning FROM the the beginning, you have vignettes as Dean and Sam try to figure out how to reverse the spell? As Dean thinks back on what she said or did to cast the spell he remembers how hit felt when the spell first hit him?
Re: Oh, I need this fic!
Thanks for the suggestion! I actually figured out how to write the beginning bit (Other Side of the Mirror), though I had to switch to Sam's POV to manage it. The difficulty is that it's such a subtle curse on the mirror that there's nothing for Dean to notice--he happens to look in the mirror while he's searching for cursed objects, but doesn't realize anything's changed until he goes downstairs and can't find Sam anywhere.

Now I just need to figure out that last bit, when Sam removes the curse...
The subtlety and creepiness in this are excellent, left a real chill in my bones. Someone as tactile, as out there as Dean - well this would have been torture. Loved it.
Oh! I love this. The bizarre curse, the way they figured out how to deal with it for now, the horrifying untold story of Dean not being able to see or hear or feel Sam before they figured out what was going on! So good.
Glad you enjoyed! Figuring out the logistics of coping with the curse is really what got the fic rolling during the writing process.
I'd love to know more, too, but the details you 've built in to this story are evocative and scary. Nicely done!
Thanks! I'm now sort of toying with writing a little prequel from Sam's POV, right after Dean's been cursed and they don't know the extent of it, but we'll see if it actually happens...