now, don't you cry
Wipe away the tear-drop from your eye
You're lying safe in bed
It was all a bad dream
Spinning in your head
Your mind tricked you to feel the pain
Of someone close to you leaving the game of life
So here it is, another chance
Wide awake you face the day
Your dream is over... or has it just begun?
It was as if that other life had never existed; Dean had woken up in the morning to find himself in a room he didn't recognize, and the sounds of children's footsteps in the hallway. Bewildered, Dean had gotten up and opened the door to see two little girls were running from two boys.
"Daddy!" one cried, the smaller of the girls. "Peter and Tommy are chasing me."
Dean looked around, expecting to see someone else; after all, they couldn't be talking to him. The smaller of the girls latched onto Dean's leg and said again, "Daddy! Make Petey and Tommy stop chasing me!"
Dean stood stock still in a fit of shock. "What?" he said. "Whoa, whoa. What's going on here?"
The girl said, in an exasperated tone eerily similar to Sam's, "I told you, Daddy, Peter and Tommy are chasing me." She scowled, and she was so adorable that not even Dean could withstand her charms. He picked up the girl who claimed to be his daughter and balanced her on his hip.
"Stop chasing her," he said to the two boys, who were now chasing the other girl.
"Aw, Uncle Dean," the smaller one whined.
Somehow, Dean knew the name of the little boy. "Dude, don't even start with me, Pete," he said in a tone he thought he'd only ever hear his own mother use.
Tommy, Peter's brother, said, "Mom and Dad and Aunt Lisa are downstairs."
"Huh," said Dean. He followed his nephews and the other little girl – Alexandra, his mind supplied instantly – down the stairs.
Allison wiggled to be set down once they reached the next landing. Dean obliged, feeling disoriented. Subconsciously, he knew where everything was and what was going on – he was visiting his brother and his wife and kids at their home in New York. Both he and his brother had given up hunting, a long time ago, after the demon war. Somehow, Sam had gotten him out of Hell. Somehow or another. Those details his mind couldn't produce, unlike the ages and names of his two daughters and son and his nephews.
Ally was nine, Alexandra – who liked to be called Al, or Alex – was eleven, Peter was seven, and Tommy was ten. And Ben, the reason all this came to be, was twenty, at college in Maine.
Dean followed Ally and the other three out into the kitchen, where Sam and Sarah were sitting at the table with his own wife, Lisa. One half of Dean knew this wasn't unusual; but the other half of Dean didn't know what the hell was going on.
"Good morning, sleepyhead," said Lisa. She smiled at him, so full of grace that Dean was involuntarily silenced.
"Morning, Lisa," he said, sounding choked up. Sarah and Sam were still talking when he sat down with them a few moments later, after getting a cup of black coffee.
Sam smiled at him, as did Sarah. "Did the kids wake you up?" asked Sarah.
Dean shook his head. "Nah. I was getting up anyway." As if on cue, the four of them came running through the living room, this time Ally and Alex chasing Tommy and Peter.
"Bitch!" shouted Ally.
"Jerk!" cried Peter, turning his head to look at her as he ran.
"Atta girl," said Dean fondly.
Lisa gave him a Look. "Hey," she called out sharply. "Watch your mouth, Ally."
"Bitch," muttered Dean, smiling impishly.
"Jerk," shot back Sam.
Just then the doorbell rang. Sarah said, "I'll get it." She walked down the hallway to the front door. Dean heard her tell Tommy to move his toys; someone was going to trip over them if they stayed in the hallway.
There was the sound of the door opening and then a shriek. "Ben!" Dean heard Sarah cry. "Oh, it's so good to see you, Ben!" The boys stood and followed Lisa out to the front door. The kids were already there. Ben had his youngest sister perched on his shoulders. Alexandra had her arms around Ben's waist.
"I missed you," she said, squeezing him tightly.
"I missed you, too, Alex," said Ben, grinning. He looked so much like Dean now, it was shocking. "Hey, Mom."
"Hi, honey," said Lisa, giving her son a quick kiss on the cheek. "You should have told us you were coming," she said.
"I thought I'd surprise you guys. I figured you'd be here, so…" he trailed off. Grinning, he said, "Hey, Uncle Sam. Hey, Dad."
Dean felt a pang. "Hey, Ben." It surprised him, how comfortable he was with this. Whatever this was, where ever he was, he could stay here for all he cared. Didn't he deserve to be happy, after all he'd sacrificed? After all he'd given up, didn't he deserve some peace?
He pulled his son into a hug. Ben was obviously disconcerted by the gesture, but he hugged his father back. "It's good to see you, Ben," Dean said.
They let Ben get his things into a room upstairs, and then he came back downstairs. Sarah and Lisa were in the living room with Sam and Dean, and the kids were playing Sorry! on the floor.
Dean smiled as he watched Ben laugh at his sisters and cousins. Ally pouted as Tommy sent her pawn back to start.
"Dean," said Sam suddenly.
And then Dean noticed that Ben was not there. "Ben?" he said. "Where's Ben? Where'd Ben go?" He turned to ask Lisa, but she and the girls were gone. "Lisa? Alex? Ally?"
"Dean, wake up."
"What are you talking about, Sam? I'm awake. This can't be a dream. It's too real."
"Dean, come on, we've got a job."
The living room behind Sam seemed to fade away, replaced by dingy motel room walls. Peter and Tommy were gone; there was silence. Sarah was gone. It was just Sam and him.
"Dean, come on. Wake up, we've got to get moving."
And then Dean woke up abruptly.
And the motel room walls were really here, Sam was here, his voice was coming through loud and clear. But Sarah wasn't. Lisa wasn't. Ben wasn't, Alex wasn't, and Ally and Peter and Tommy weren't either.
Sam took a deep breath and tried to keep his patience. "Dude, I've been trying to get you to wake up for the last ten minutes. C'mon, we've got a job to do."
As Dean looked around him, one small part of his brain still wondering where Ben and the girls were, he heard the radio:
the things that I had before
Like a Star Wars poster on my bedroom door
I wish I could count to ten
And make everything be wonderful again.