A/N: Thank you for reading, and reviews are appreciated!

Rating: PG-13ish for not-quite cussing and somewhat mature subject matter. A little violence and blood, but not in this chapter. However, no sexual content or implications of any kind.

Spoilers: All of Season 1, definitely. "In My Time of Dying" definitely for Season 2. Other than that, I don't think it should be too confusing if you missed any episodes.

Disclaimer: Supernatural does not belong to me, and I'm not getting paid for this. Darn. :D

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"Within a Dream"

Chapter One

"All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream."

--Edgar Allan Poe

Dean was dreaming. Or, at least he thought he was dreaming because last time he checked, he wasn't a seven-year-old rugrat.

He was standing in the middle of some deep woods, and by his height in comparison to all the freakin' trees--there were a lot of 'em--he was only about three or four feet high, give or take a few feet.

It took him a moment to realize he was dreaming because it all felt so real, down to the stupid bugs humming away in his ears. And then he figured if it was a dream and he was a kid, it stood to reason that maybe his father was still alive, and that little Sammy and him were around somewhere.

"Dad! Sammy!" he called out, turning in circles, looking for any sign of them. He was alone.

"Dad!" he called again, noticing how high-pitched and annoying his kid-voice sounded, then chose a direction and started walking. "Sam!"

No one answered, and Dean was getting this strange, detached feeling. A moment later, he could hardly see--everything was getting blurry, and his eyes wouldn't open. And then he realized it was because he was waking up.

He tried to cling to the dream by calling out again, "Dad! Sammy!" but it was too late.

Growling into the pillow underneath his face, Dean slowly drug himself into a sitting position and wiped the drool from the corner of his lip. "Sleep well?" Sam wondered dryly from the corner of the motel room.

Dean shot daggers at him with his too-sensitive eyes--Where was that darned light comin' from? Oh, yeah. The window.--and grumbled, "What are you doin' up so early?"

Sam gave him a look, a short, incredulous glance, before returning his attention to his laptop. "It's twelve in the afternoon," was all he volunteered, and Dean groaned again and got out of the motel bed.

"I'm takin' a shower," he said, as he passed Sam on the way to the bathroom.

- - -

For the rest of the day, he felt groggy and cranky, and kept sniping at Sam for no reason. They were running down leads on a new job, and Sam had volunteered to go in by himself to do the questioning. He probably thought Dean was going to bite off the witness' head, or something.

Dean didn't really blame him.

Sam came out to the Impala a little while later and got in. "So?" Dean asked, and Sam shrugged.

"Macey heard noises while living there, saw things moving, strange shadows out of the corners of her eyes, smelled sulfur. But I'm not sure what we're dealing with here, a demon or an angry spirit."

"Sulfur sounds like a demon," Dean pointed out. They were investigating an abandoned, haunted house. It was abandoned 'cause no one wanted to live in it.

"We should bring everything just in case, holy water, the works," Sam suggested. Dean nodded, started up the car and pulled away from the curb.

"Dean," Sam said into the growing silence of the car. "Did you have a nightmare this morning?"

"What?" Dean asked, glancing at Sam quickly. He thought maybe he'd sounded a little bit too defensive, but whatever. Sam knew he hated talking about feelings and other girly crap like that.

"Did you have a nightmare, or not," Sam returned, not backing down.

"No," he answered, biting it out like a curse.

"Then why did you wake up calling for Dad and me?" Sam wondered, and Dean's grip on the steering wheel tightened spasmodically.

"Just drop it, Sam," he growled a moment later, when he realized he didn't want to answer his brother's question, and he couldn't think of a way to distract Sam from badgering him any more.

"Fine," Sam answered, then added, stubbornly, "I'll drop it. For now."

- - -

They'd spent the rest of the day doing research and getting weapons and defenses together for whatever they were about to face. He'd wanted to go to the house that night, but Sam practically begged him to wait to see if they could find more on what they would be dealing with.

He'd finally given in and gone to bed after watching mindless night-time television for awhile. He didn't know when he started dreaming, but it only felt like a moment after he'd drifted off to sleep.

He was in the same woods again, a kid again. He looked down at himself, seeing that he wasn't wearing the clothes that he'd worn that day or the ones that he might have been wearing had he been back in the eighties. It was a hoody, some jeans, a t-shirt underneath the hoody, and tennishoes on his feet, not boots.

He sighed. Trust his subconscious to not be sensible about anything. Why couldn't he have dreamed about a hot chick, instead? He started walking again, in a different direction than he'd taken the last time. At least, he thought it was different. He called out for John again, and wondered if Sam was going to be a little kid again, too, when he finally found them.

"Dad! Sammy!"

He was farther into the woods then he'd gotten before, and he was starting to hope that maybe his logic was right. Maybe Dad would be out here somewhere, with Sam. And then, if he kept having dreams like this, he could always have his dad when he went to sleep, at least.

It was a little sick, that kind of logic, but this was just a dream, right? So he didn't care.

"Dad! Sammy!" he called again, and then froze, noticing movement coming from his left. A man approached, and Dean turned toward him, heart pounding.

He was a tall guy, maybe about Dean's usual height, dark hair and eyes, but built more like Sam, and wearing a dark button-up shirt, a flannel jacket, jeans, and some hiking boots. His cheeks were grizzled, like he hadn't shaved in a day or so, and his eyes widened when he spotted Dean. "Are you lost?" he questioned, and Dean frowned.

If this was a dream, then why did the guy care? "No," he replied, "Have you seen my dad and little brother?" He might as well try just asking, since it was his dream.

"No, were you camping out here?" the stranger asked. Dean shook his head, wishing his subconscious wasn't a jerk. "What's your name?"

Dean hesitated. His first instinct was to keep his name to himself and either give a false one, no last name, or a false last name, but this was just a dream. So he forced himself to relax and answered truthfully for once, "Dean Winchester. My dad is John Winchester, and my brother is Sam."

The man shook his head. "Why don't you come back with me to the cabin, and I'll call the police. They can look for your brother and father. I don't think you should be wandering out here by yourself."

Dean scowled at him. "I can find them on my own." He started off, and the man called, desperately, "Wait!" And started to reach for him. Dean shot off running.

No way was he going to let some strange guy get hold of him. "Dad!" he called, as he ran, hearing branches crunching behind him as the stranger drew closer. "Dad!"

And then it started to happen again--the blurring at the edges of his vision, and the heavy-lids thing. "Dad!" And he shot up in bed, panting, his knife strangely clutched in his right hand.

"Dean?" Sam questioned from his position on the other bed. He was there, with his laptop on his legs, back against the headboard. It looked like he'd already showered and gotten dressed, except that he was in his socks.

"I'm fine," Dean snapped, and stuffed his knife back under his pillow. "You find anything?" He cleared his throat and rubbed away his eye-boogers.

"Nah," Sam answered, then set aside his laptop, shutting the cover, and maneuvering so that he was sitting across from Dean. "You obviously had a nightmare," he stated, giving Dean that no-nonsense look he hated so much. Because he was the big brother, darn it, not Sammy. "Tell me about it." Was that an order?

"No, get a life, Sam," he growled, and stood up. "I have to take a leak." He started for the bathroom, but soon found himself whipped around by the arm. Sam's humongous hand was responsible, and he was staring down at Dean, using his height-advantage to loom and overall just look pretty darned intimidating.

Dean didn't appreciate that much. Not at-- He glanced at the clock. Not at eight in the morning, and not from Sammy, his little brother, and not right after having a dream that he was a little kid, being chased by a giant hiker.

"Don't grab me, Sam," he said, wondering how he'd ever learned to make his voice so hard and cold. It was so far from the way it'd sounded in his dream.

Sam looked guilty, but he still retorted, "I heard you call for Dad again. Is this about him? About the deal he made?"

Dean gritted his teeth, looked away, met Sam's concerned, annoyed gaze steadily. "No, Sam. It's not. Will you just let it go?"

Sam shook his head. "We're gonna talk about this, Dean. Eventually." It was a promise.

"Whatever," Dean grumbled, and headed for the bathroom. But he knew Sam was right, and he wasn't looking forward to whatever psychobabbly, mumbo-jumbo he came up with to explain why Dean was dreaming of being a kid again. He just really freakin' wasn't.

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