Disclaimer: Not mine.

Author's Note: Hi, I'm back, I know, it's been ages. Sorry, life, you know. Anyways, I've had this idea bombarding my head about since I started writing here, and the first half of this chapter has been written for a long time. It is a future-fic, and there are kiddie Winchesters, so if you don't like either, I don't mind. Still, give it a shot, it's something a little different, but it's still me. You don't like it, just let me know.

Warning: Wow, language. Swearing hasn't improved in the future. But apart from that it's pretty clean for the first two chapters.


IN A HEART OF DARKNESS

Chapter 1: A Matter of Twelve Years

His hands shook as he dialled the number. He felt numb all over. He couldn't even feel the blood drying on his hands, on his face. Not his blood, but blood. He trembled as he put his hand to his ear, not sure if he would be able to hear anyway. The phone rang for a few moments before it went to the answering machine.

"Lily, it's Dean."

His voice cracked as Dean stood and began to pace, cell in his right hand, at his right ear. He passed a hand over his eyes, trying so hard to hold the breakdown in place. The passing hand shook and he struggled not to look at the blood smudged on it.

"Lily, ah… Jesus…" He took one of those deep, shuddering breaths, one of those damned signs of the close proximity of tears. "Lily, it's Sam. He's… ah… fucking hell. He's…"

He couldn't spit it out. Sick of pacing in the tiny enclosure of the motel room, he sat down. Before jumping up again, feeling burned by failure as he sat down on Sammy's bed. But it seemed to give him strength.

"Lily, it's Sammy. Uh, the job really went south. We… I thought it was a poltergeist. The EMF even picked it up, but…"

There was an exhale, long and noisy. "But, ah, dammit, Sammy said there was nothing there, and I should've listened, but the EMF…"

He felt so pathetic. But the EMF… but, but, but. "It was a trap, Lily. A, ah… a trap for Sam. A trap for Sam. And, Jesus, they got him. They fucking got him. And there's no trail, no sign of anything. No sign of Sammy."

He had to sit down again as the tears began, choking the last sentence out, the tears he had been trying to hold in for so long, ever since he had busted his way out of that room at dusk the night before to find...

He put his head down, crying, sobbing into his free hand. God, he hadn't cried in so long. And he didn't know what else to say, didn't know what not to say, because if he told her everything...

"Lily…" His voice trailed off for no reason. He just couldn't speak anymore. He didn't know what to say. How could he tell his brother's wife that he had just lost the love of her life?

"Lily, God, I am so sorry. I… fucking hell, I wish…" Dean continued sobbing into his hand, his words sounding jumbled around the anxiety of tears.

"Lily, I… I am so sorry. I'll never stop looking, I swear. One day, I'll… I'll find him, I swear to God. But… Fuck, I have no idea… I'm sorry."

And ending with a whisper, he hung up the phone, dropping it. He didn't care. He slid off the bed, onto the floor, crying into both hands. He had lost his brother, and now he felt like he had lost himself. He had no clue where Sam had been taken, what they were doing to him… just that even if he did find Sam, he didn't know if it would be Sam anymore. For all he knew, his little brother was dead.


Twelve years later

The man's name was Kris Lane. He sat in a corner of the bar, watching his surroundings. It was something he always did. He liked drinking by himself, watching everyone else. Though at the moment he was watching one man in particular.

Going by appearances, there was nothing special about him. Maybe early forties, a little too tall, brown hair, hard eyes, non-descript really. And yet the way he carried himself... He had the easy confidence of one who had lived long and seen much. It was a confidence he had carried over into the game of pool he was playing.

His opponents, however, didn't seem as content as the older man. They were much younger, mid-twenties at most, young men who believed themselves masters of the sport. And yet they were having their asses handed to them on a golden platter. And yet…

And yet Kris knew it would be a while before they dared approach the older man about his 'skills.' And about the fact that he was taking their money from them. Because this man had an air about him that was more than confidence. It was… strength, and danger, and power. And this intrigued the man sitting in the corner of the bar. It wasn't something one came across often. At least, not in humans.

He wanted to learn more. Taking his glass of beer and downing it, he walked over to the centre of the bar, for all purposes intent on buying another round. He also used the occasion to eavesdrop on the man and his opponents.

"Another game?" the guy asked. Something in his voice tickled the back of Kris' mind. The man's accent varied too much to place to a specific area or state. But it was more than that. It was like Kris recognised the voice.

"Another one?" one of the men asked incredulously. He was easily ten years younger than the man. "No way. You've cheated us enough out of our hard earned money."

The guy snorted, and received glares for his action. It didn't faze him. "Cheated? Prove it." He gave them a moment to speak, but none took the opportunity. "No? Okay. Well, if none of you want another game…" He trailed off and turned, stretching to put the pool cue back on the rack.

The men jumped him. Not all at once like was smart. But rather, the man who had spoken picked up a bottle intending to drive it into the guy's mop of brown hair.

Kris flinched as if to intervene, but something held him back. A desire to know what the guy could do. He could always jump in if things went south for the man.

The bottle descended, almost in slow motion, and for a horrible moment Kris was certain the man was going down. But, with bare inches to escape, the man spun, cue raised and held like a weapon. The man attacking him gave a sharp gasp as the cue hit him in the stomach. The whole bar heard the snap of breaking ribs. The man went down.

His three friends jumped in immediately. The guy backed off a bit, swinging the cue as if he knew how to use it. Then he attacked, well before his opponents could. He lashed out with the thick end and it connected, faster than possible, with one of the men's temples. He spun around fast, hitting the jukebox hard, cracking the glass and stopping the music, before going down like a sack of potatoes.

It left two now cautious men. One picked up his own cue, while the other backed away to give him room. But Kris could see the man was no match for his older opponent. He was proven right.

The younger man swung like he was swinging a club, both hands on the thick end. The guy blocked, and then blocked the next swing. The next one, he blocked, before snaking out with his arm to grab the cue. The kid on the other end was shocked, and the man used the surprise to twist and kick in one fluid motion. He hit his opponent in the face, before continuing through his own cue and shattering the man's elbow.

As the man went down screaming, the man looked up at the last guy; the older man carried a nasty, malicious grin on his face. The man was having none of it, and, uncaring of any embarrassment, turned and fled out the front door.

The bar was silent. Even the jukebox had gone quiet, broken and bloodstained. The guy seemed oblivious to it, sighing and losing that animalistic viciousness, looking almost regretful. Lane could have sworn he almost fell, one hand nearly clutching at the pool table, one hand flinching as if going to his heart. But he remained upright, looking tired, before reaching out for his glass. He drank the rest of his beer before wiping his mouth. Then he replaced his bloodied pool cue, stepped over the broken bodies of the men he had beaten and left the bar.

Immediately men rushed to the aid of the fallen. Kris sat at the bar, shocked. A new thought had entered his mind. But it couldn't be… could it. Impossible. Then again, that fighting, and the guy's voice had seemed very similar. And that confidence could easily be the confidence of a hunter. But what he had just done… And it had been over ten years… It couldn't be, could it?

He left his beer untouched and went outside, drawing in the air as if he had been starved of it. And then he pulled out his cell phone, staring beyond the trees at people he hadn't spoken to in a long time. Would she be pleased or devastated? He supposed he would never know. No one would.

He dialled the number quickly and put the phone to his ear. It rang twice before someone picked up.

"Ellen, it's Kris Lane."

The response was warm. "Kris? Hi, how are you?"

Kris shrugged, though no one could see him. The he rubbed his eyes. "You know that kid you told me about? John Winchester's boy? The one who disappeared twelve years ago?"

"Yeah?"

"I think I found him."


One week later.

Dean Winchester woke at the first sound of a window sliding open. After almost thirty years hunting, his instincts were as sharp as they could be. And even as his age grew, his hearing was as good as ever.

Not that a deaf man wouldn't hear the racket going on out there in his lounge room. That still stunned him, the fact that he, Dean Winchester, had a lounge room. Not a very big one, but it was there. And right now it sounded like someone was sending a herd of elephants through it.

He got out of bed silently, bare feet padding lightly on the carpet. By the door to his bedroom was a baseball bat and a shotgun. Knowing that it had to be humans out there, he grabbed the baseball bat. No supernatural being would make that much noise. Especially not if it knew it was in Dean Winchester's house.

He crept down the short hallway of his apartment, bat raised over his shoulder, ready to swing at a moment's warning. Carpet wrapped around toes, he placed a hand on the door, confidence settling in his skin.

He gave a shove, pushing the door open and jumping out, giving an incoherent cry. Someone else, a girl, screamed, a short, sharp shriek, before getting up and pulling out a shotgun.

Dean dropped the bat, shocked. Not from the gun pointed at him – that had happened all too often in his life – but from the stark familiarity that suddenly drained his face of all colour.

Recognition dawned on hers as well, and she lowered the gun, taking a deep, shuddering breath. If Dean had been able to do anything, he would have realized that he should take a deep breath as well. But he hadn't seen this girl in just over twelve years, at least up close… she had grown. Nearly as tall as him now, long brown hair, and the red-rimmed eyes of his long-lost brother staring out at him from the thin, pale, washed face of her mother.

"Jess?" Dean breathed, knowing it was her. He would recognise her anywhere, even after all these years.

But his niece frowned. "Not anymore, Uncle Dean. Everyone calls me JD."

Dean snorted. "I bet your mother doesn't."

To his surprise, she flinched, and wavered slightly, looking away. Dean, knowing he had just said something stupid, took a step forward, catching Sam's daughter as she fell, crying out.

And that was when he noticed the blood.

"Jesus, Jess, what happened?" he demanded, lowering her to the couch. "What have you been doing? Where's you mum? And your brother?"

The answer to that last question came barrelling out of the kitchen at that moment, pausing as he took in the scene. Then the younger sibling ran to Dean's side, giving his uncle a small, sad grin before shoving bandages, alcohol and holy water haphazardly into Dean's arms.

"Fix her up!" Caleb ordered impatiently, his eyes bright and far too demanding for Dean's liking. Reminded him of someone else. He frowned at his nephew, wondering what the hell was going on, before looking down at the now unconscious Jess.

"What happened, Caleb?" he asked, tearing his niece's shirt to get a look at the claw wound apparently shredding her stomach. It was shallow, though still far too deep for his liking, but knew that neither would appreciate a trip to the hospital.

The boy swallowed, and Dean realized he had been crying. Just as he realized Caleb was trying to push the tears bravely back.

"We were… we were on a hunt. Mum didn't want us there, but we followed anyway… she's dead, Uncle Dean. A demon got her."

Dean's hands paused as he was cleaning Jessica's wound, heart silently breaking for his niece and nephew. Losing their father years ago, and now their mother? Caleb wasn't even a teenager yet, and now he was parentless.

He forced his hands to keep moving. He wasn't going to let Jess disappear from Caleb's life as well. "Was it the same demon who did this to Jess?"

The young boy made the same face Jess had earlier. "It's not Jess anymore, Uncle Dean. Now it's JD."

The man shook his head. "Was it the same demon, Caleb?" What a great reunion, he thought bitterly as his steady hands took a needle and threaded it. "Can you hold your sister down, just in case she wakes?"

With the all too practiced ease that Dean recognised from his own childhood, Caleb got in behind Jess, taking a gentle grip around her chest and arms, keeping them away from the messy wound still weeping.

It didn't take long for Dean to patch his niece up, leaving a neat bandage in place of the bloodstained body paling on his couch. Jess hadn't woken, which Dean found a little distressing, but he refused to worry. These kids were Sam's, and he knew they had to have inherited some of his brother's strength, especially if they had escaped the same fate as their mother. Not that Lily was… had been, weak. She had been the strongest woman Dean knew. Jess would be okay.

Leaning back from inspecting the bandage, Dean wiped his brow, finding himself sweating even in the coolish autumn night. Then he looked up at his nephew, allowing himself to grin for the first time in a long time.

"You have no idea how good it is to see you," the hunter breathed, before he became sad. "I just wish it were under better circumstances."

Caleb pulled his eye contact away, brushing at the tears he couldn't help. "I can't believe she's gone, Uncle Dean," the kid muttered. "We watched her die… JD was holding her…"

Dean motioned for the kid to get out from behind Jess, and grabbed his shoulders when he obeyed, steering Caleb to the kitchen. He sat his nephew down in a chair and ignored the ransacked look that wasn't just from Caleb's searching, before setting two mugs down.

"I'm guessing you don't drink coffee," Dean half-heartedly joked, ignoring Caleb's stony head shake. "Good thing I have some milo here, I think I can still make a half-decent hot chocolate."

The kitchen fell into silence for a few moments as Dean poured them both something hot to drink. Knowing Jess would be okay for the moment left unattended, he prepared to catch up with the family he had lost when he had lost his brother.

"What happened tonight, Caleb?" Dean asked softly, knowing the kid was grieving. But, true to Winchester style, Caleb gave a small grin.

"Can you call me Cal, Uncle Dean. Only Mum calls me that when I'm in trouble…" His face fell. "Called me that, anyway."

Dean let his own grin slip. "I know it's hard," he told his nephew, watching the tears spring to life. "Even harder when you've had so long with her."

"Does the pain ever go away?" Cal asked next, looking up. Dean paused before answering.

"For some people it does. For some it doesn't… Some choose for it to never leave. Depends on what you're looking for, I guess…" He glanced out into the lounge room, where he knew Jess was unconscious still. "Some want a reminder of it every day, so they never forget it."

Cal wiped his tears away. "We weren't even supposed to be there," he muttered. "Maybe she wouldn't have died… No, that's a lie." His voice hardened, his eyes narrowed, and his breathing grew heavy. "The bastard lied to her, set her up… she was betrayed, Uncle Dean!"

Dean frowned, leaning back. "Whoa, what? What happened, Cal?"

The boy shook his head. "Mum got a phone call, saying she had a lead. She left me and JD to look after ourselves at the motel room, but halfway through the afternoon, JD ran into the room and started chucking stuff into my bag. She got a phone call from someone, saying that the guy Mum was going to see was going to get her killed. We left straight away, and got to the meet point in time to see the demon… It was horrible, Uncle Dean."

The man frowned. "Okay, if I'm calling you Cal, call me Dean. Uncle makes me sound old."

Cal smiled, though it didn't quite touch the grief in his eyes, and nodded. "But anyway, the demon attacked Mum. Like JD had said, the guy left instantly, he didn't know we were there. We tried to help, but it ripped Mum apart. Nearly did us in too."

He wound down, taking a hold on his mug of hot chocolate. Dean leaned forward on his elbows. "Who was your Mum meeting?" he asked, feeling the need for revenge spring in his gut. Though he might not have seen or spoken to their mother since that message years ago, Lily had still been family.

But Cal shrugged. "I don't know. I don't think JD knows either. Ellen might, it was her who sent us after him."

Dean frowned in confusion. "After this guy who got your mum killed?" he asked, not getting it.

The door swung open to reveal Jess leaning heavily against the frame. She was shaking her head.

"No. Ellen said this guy had a lead."

Dean looked between the two kids. "A lead on what?" he asked, not willing to believe that Ellen had called them and not him.

Jess looked at Cal, before catching her uncle's eye. "A lead on Dad."


So, what did you think? Or do you need chapter two to confirm it? Well, here you go!