Title: In The Hands Of Time

Main Characters: Sam, Dean

Secondary Characters: John, Mary

Spoilers: No new spoilers in this chapter. :)

Summary: Dean is given the chance to change the fate of the Winchester family. He has years of hunting experience, the knowledge of the demon's weaknesses, and determination on his side. However, one small obstacle stands in his way…

Disclaimer: I still don't own Supernatural, or any of the characters. Wait… (goes to find a group of shape shifters willing to take their place) I might be keeping them now, but no one will ever know. ;)

A/N: I got some wonderful and encouraging reviews for the first chapter, and I was inspired and managed to find some time to work on the next part much sooner than I thought I would be able to. :) I have no idea when the next part will be up, since my grandmother is visiting and I will probably be very busy for the next week or so, but I promise I will do my best. :)

I hope you enjoy it! And of course, please do let me know what you think. :)

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In The Hands Of Time

Dean was too shocked to move. He simply stood there, transfixed by his reflection.

The child he now saw had the same, long, dark blond hair, the same, young features he remembered, but something about him was different as well. The lines of pain and responsibility around his eyes that Dean had always recognized, but never really allowed himself to acknowledge, were gone.

This was a little boy whose family hadn't yet been shattered, a little boy who was still able to imagine a future without hunting, a future without loss and loneliness. This was who he had once been, in what felt like another life time; the "normal" existence his family had once had, felt too far away, too surreal to be called anything else.

He looked down at his hand. It was much smaller, and did not yet bear the scars and calluses hunting would cause. This hand had never held a gun, had never killed to protect his family…

The sound of footsteps outside the door made Dean freeze, and his thoughts ended abruptly. He tensed, suddenly wishing for the knife he normally kept beneath his pillow.

A moment later, the handle of the door started to turn.

Instinct born of years of hunting made him spin and automatically begin to fall into a defensive stance, which, a far corner of his mind noted, probably looked very strange and not particularly threatening coming from a four-year-old. But, when the door opened, all thoughts of a potential threat vanished.

Standing there was a woman with long blonde hair, and petite, elegant features. She had hazel-green eyes, so similar to Dean's own…

"Mom," he breathed in awe, his voice a barely audible whisper.

"Dean?" she asked with concern. "Honey, what's wrong? Did you have a bad dream?"

Dean tried to speak, but speaking meant that he had to force the words past the lump that had formed in his throat, and that proved impossible.

When Dean didn't answer, his mom stepped into the room and quickly scooped him up in her arms, like he remembered her doing so many times before. She carried him over to the bed and sat down, her arms wrapped comfortingly around him.

"Do you want to tell me about it?" she asked quietly.

She was watching him with a kind, reassuring expression, one that promised he could tell her anything and everything, and that nothing could change how much she loved him…

"You died," he whispered.

He had blurted out the words before he had even realized he had spoken. Normally, Dean could fast-talk anyone, come up with a story for the most bizarre circumstances anyone could imagine, but sitting here with his mom, he felt like he really was that little boy again, and lying no longer came as second nature.

"Oh, Dean," his mom said gently.

She pulled him close in a hug, and Dean hugged her back with all the strength his four-year-old arms had. He could hear her heart beating, feel her breath against his neck, and she was wonderfully solid, and real and… alive.

Dean felt his eyes fill with tears, and he tried to blink them away, but found that he couldn't. His mom gently started rocking him back and forth, and though the twenty-seven-year-old in him should have rebelled against it, instead he only snuggled closer, reveling in the warmth of her embrace. This was something he had missed beyond words, something he had tried his best to give Sam, the feeling of being safe and always cared for.

Dean closed his eyes and simply sat there, letting the pain of the years fade away in her arms, letting his guard slip for the first time in longer than he could remember. The hunter in him was adamantly reminding him that things might not be what they appeared, that this might not really be his mom, but that voice was drowned out by the myriad of emotions flooding him.

How many times had he tried to remember what this was like? How many times had he replayed the few memories he had of her over and over again, desperately trying not to forget her? How many times had he wished to be able to feel this closeness, just once more?

He didn't know how long they had sat there, but for him, time seemed to have simply stopped. Finally, after long minutes had passed, his mom moved back, gently trying to disentangle herself from his arms.

"Come on, sweetie," his mom said, "it's really late. Let's get you back to bed."

He tightened his hold on her, never wanting to let her go, and felt her smile.

"I'm not going anywhere, Dean," his mom promised softly.

But you did, the little boy in him protested silently. You left, and I had to take care of Sammy and Dad, but they left me, too…

"It was only a bad dream, Dean."

A bad dream.

In that moment, Dean wanted nothing more than to believe that it had been just a bad dream, a horrible nightmare. He wanted to believe that he was awake now and it was over, and his family was together again, safe and whole.

But he couldn't. In his mind eye, he saw that night, felt the heat of the fire as his dad put Sammy in his arms and told him to run.

His reality may have been strange, but it was reality, and with reality came pain, pain that had shaped him and molded him into the hunter he was now. As much as he wanted to believe that he had simply dreamt it all, he knew he hadn't.

With that thought, Dean managed to regain some control over his emotions and forced himself to release his hold on his mom, though it took all of his self control to do so.

His mom smiled at him, and set him back on the bed, the long strands of her hair falling around her face as she tucked him in, pulling the blankets around him carefully.

"Comfortable?" she asked.

Dean nodded silently again, not trusting himself enough to speak.

She brushed the tousled strands of hair away from his face, then bent down to kiss him on the forehead.

"I love you, Dean," she said.

"I love you, too, Mom," he managed to answer. He wondered if she noticed the way his voice broke on the words.

She smiled again, then reached for the lamp and turned out the light.

"Daddy and I are just down the hall if you need us. Sleep well, honey."

With that, she got up from the bed, and moved to the door.

Dean nearly jumped up and ran after her. It wasn't long enough. It could never be long enough. There was so much he wanted to tell her…

But, he forced himself not to move. He finally seemed to be able to think again, his shock having lessened to the point that he didn't feel completely paralyzed by it. He knew he had to find answers, had to understand what was going on, and he couldn't do that with her in the room as much as he wished he could.

He closed his eyes, and waited to hear the click of the door as it was shut. Dean waited a few more moments before he silently pushed the blanket back, then slipped from the bed. His bare feet felt the cold, hard, wood beneath them, and he crept to the door, opening it a crack to peer into the hallway. He saw his mom turn in the direction of the steps, and watched until she was out of sight.

When he thought that she was far enough away not to notice, he closed the door, and walked back to his bed to turn the lamp on. He closed his eyes briefly once more, trying to let the hunter in him take over, pushing the little boy back down where he belonged. Then, he began looking around the room, trying to find any sort of clues as to when he might be.

It had to be before the fire, but how long? Days? Weeks? Months?

His eyes swept the space, carefully assessing everything he saw. A bookshelf sat up against one wall, a messy array of books resting on the shelves, and a few stuffed animals lining the top of it. A bin with some baseball equipment sat in the corner, next to the dresser.

He didn't really recognize any of it, but it felt familiar somehow, like a dream he couldn't quite recall, but still knew he'd had.

He remembered a lot from before the fire, more than he had ever told Sammy or his dad, but all the memories he'd kept had been of his mom, her smile, her laugh, the sound of her voice…

Everything else, every other memory of before, he truthfully hadn't fought all that hard to keep, because a part of him knew it would just remind him of the normal life he'd once had, but could never have again.

Yet, the longer he stood there, the more familiar things became, the small details he had let fade away, suddenly coming back to him.

The football that had been tossed next to the bed…that was what he and his dad had played catch with in the park so many times. The books on the shelf… they were the bedtime stories his mom had read to him. The Batman sheets and blankets on the bed… he had forgotten that he'd ever had them -- too many nights spent in cheap motel beds had buried that memory long ago -- but now he could picture perfectly the day his mom and dad had given them to him, a gift with his new room when they had told him he was going to be a big brother.

Batman, he remembered now, had been his favorite as a little kid because, unlike the other superheroes, he didn't have a superpower. He was just a regular guy -- well, aside from the whole millionaire thing -- who just wanted to help people.

It was strange how clear the memories suddenly seemed, the haze of years lifting as though no actual time had passed. But, considering that his twenty-seven-year-old mind was trapped in his four-year-old body, he supposed anything was possible at this point.

But as the memories washed over him, Dean realized that none of them were of any help. None of them told him what he needed to know.

He was considering trying to sneak out of his room and search the house, as much attention as that might attract from his parents, when something on the shelf caught his eye: a toy fire truck.

Before he had even realized that he was moving, his legs carried him closer, and he bent to pick it up. It was the truck his dad had gotten for him after he had said that he wanted to be a fireman when he grew up. The tags where still attached to it, and Dean suddenly knew that his four-year-old self had gotten the truck that very night.

Dean remembered this truck, the adult in him, as well as the child.

But while the child in him remembered it as it looked now, brightly colored and new, the adult in him remembered it seven days later, when a fireman had handed it to him after pulling it from the charred remains of their home, its surface blackened by smoke and covered in soot, the wheels slightly warped from the heat.

Seven days.

If this was real, then a week from now, his family's world would be ripped apart and changed forever.

But, a week from now, Dean would be there to stop it.

TBC…

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A/N: As I said, I have no idea when the next part will be up, but hopefully it will be soon.

And I know I responded already to everyone who reviewed, but I wanted to say thank you again for your great responses. I am very grateful for them, and I hope you continue to read. :)

Ani-maniac494