Summary: Sam and Dean go back in time to save their parents, but Chloe knows you can't change the past.
A/N: Sorry for the delay! This chapter was hard to write (among other things). Please let me know if it's confusing. Time travel is confusing. x)
At the back of the crowd, Chloe stood with her head bowed and eyes closed. A hand was tucked inside her coat, buried deep and wrapped around a piece of jewelry only recently discovered after a desperate search through Watchtower. Words were being spoken about the greatness of the hero, but she wasn't listening. She was planning.
The speech continued, tears still fell, and tucked inside Chloe's hand sat a powerful gold ring.
She hadn't saved Clark, but maybe…
Chloe stood at the back of the group, her head down and eyes closed just as she'd stood at the first funeral. Her head came up, when the brothers reached her side, but she didn't look at them, her gaze focused on failures only she could see.
The world was ending. The only way to save it was to move on and keep going.
She couldn't change the past. But there was still the future.
Chloe pounded a fist on the counter. "Why not?" she demanded. "You got hurt protecting me. I can heal you. Let me heal you." Please—but she wasn't ready beg.
"Because," Dean said simply. "That's not how it works." His gaze never met hers as he began bandaging his injury. "I don't need you to heal me."
"And I don't need you to save me," Chloe countered. "It's time I saved someone for a change."
Dean pulled a beer from the refrigerator then paused as the sound of life echoed from the living room. Popping the top off his drink, he followed the sound, knowing who he'd find.
Chloe stood in the middle of their living room, one foot up on a chair as she rubbed lotion over the length of her bare leg.
Dean leaned against the doorframe and took a drink of his beer, enjoying the moment. "A man could get used to this view."
She was smiling even before she turned to him, not surprised by his sudden appearance. A small laugh escaped as she shook her head. "And here I thought you loved me for my brain," she teased, tossing the lotion at him.
"Nope." Dean reached to catch the bottle. "Why else do you think I mar—"
The bottle landed in his grasp and Chloe vanished, taking the rest of his sentence with her.
He blinked and found himself face to face with another figure. "Anna?"
The angel nodded in acknowledgement. "Hello, Dean."
Dean looked down at the lotion bottle in his hand then back at the angel. "I'm dreaming," he realized.
Anna's gaze flickered over to the chair Chloe had just been standing by, before returning to him. "Yes. Sorry to interrupt. I need to talk to you."
Dean set the lotion and his beer aside, ignoring the small swell of disappointment at the shattered illusion. "Don't worry about it. What's up?"
[February 4, 2010]
Sam hated waiting. Waiting gave the Devil more time to further his plans. Waiting didn't, however, allow them any time to work on their own plans. The Colt didn't work against the Devil. Death was stomping around the globe, but no one could get a fix on him. And they still had no solid idea on how to stop the Devil—they didn't even have a weak idea.
All they had was a list of things that wouldn't stop the Apocalypse and another list of enemies—and both were continuing to grow.
"They're our mom and dad. If we can save them, and not just from Anna. I mean, if we can set things right. We have to try," Dean argued just as tense as he'd been the moment Castiel had figured out Anna was in the past. Sam was still having a hard time wrapping his head around the idea that an angel had time travelled to make sure that he never existed.
If it weren't for the fact that it would mean the death of his parents, Sam wouldn't have been able to find a flaw in Anna's plan. There was too much blood on his hands already. He didn't need to add his parents to the list. Again.
Castiel stepped forward and so did Dean, both ready to push their point. Chloe beat them to it, placing herself between the two of them with a hand on Dean's chest. "Dean, you can't go back. It's dangerous."
As if sensing a flaw in her argument, she continued quickly. "If Anna had done anything, it would have already changed the future—now. If she's going to be successful in killing your parents, we'd already know about it. I'd be standing in an empty room." She looked back at Castiel expectantly, and Sam followed her gaze, curious to see if her logic fit the angel's rules of time travel.
It made sense to him, but then two years ago he would have said time travel was impossible.
"No." Castiel shook his head. "Anna's influence on the past will not have an instantaneous effect on the present. It will take time for the change to become permanent."
"So we still have a chance to save our parents?" Dean asked.
Castiel looked torn, his gaze meeting Chloe's then moving quickly on to Dean's. "Yes, but it's still too much of a risk."
"If there's a chance, we have to take it."
In response, the hand Chloe had pressed against Dean's chest twisted until she had a solid grip on his shirt. It looked like she was anchoring him in place, and a small tug earned her an expectant look from Dean. "Do you understand how dangerous messing with time travel is?" she demanded, her tone harsh enough to match the grip she had on his shirt.
Dean blinked looking from her hand to her face. "It's worth the risk."
"No disrespect, Dean, but your parents aren't worth the risk." Sam tensed, watching Dean do the same. Chloe was treading on dangerous ground, talking about their parents in that tone. "Clark tried time travel, more than once. He went back to save his girlfriend's life—just twenty-four hours. A desperate act to save someone he loved. And do you know what happened?" Chloe asked. She pulled her gaze from Dean long enough to eye Sam, including him in the conversation.
"His dad died."
Dean's shoulders fell a little at her admission, but there was still stubbornness in his eyes. Her anecdote hadn't changed his mind.
She seemed to realize the same thing, because she suddenly pulled back from him, disappointment heavy in her expression. "It's dangerous."
"You said that," Dean pointed out.
She looked at Castiel and shook her head. "You can't make Castiel do this."
Dean's patience level appeared to bottom out as he frowned. "Then how are we supposed to stop Anna from killing our parents?"
There was an uncomfortable pause following his question. Sam watched as Chloe's face filtered through a number of emotions, finally settling on resignation. "I'll take you."
[January 27, 2008]
"You're going to kill Lilith with an antique revolver?"
"You shouldn't judge a gun by its barrel," she returned.
Henriksen shook his head, wondering when the crazy would stop. He'd been possessed, fought side-by-side with the Winchesters to stop demons, and he was about to trust his life to a woman in business attire brandishing an ancient colt.
"Okay." He stepped closer. "What do we do?"
She graced him with a tight smile. "Follow my lead."
[May 20, 1978]
Dean blinked. One second he was standing in the middle the motel room and the next he was on a sidewalk on a street he didn't recognize. The hand he had wrapped around Chloe's wrist was tugged free as she looked up expectantly.
For a moment, no one spoke. Even Castiel appeared uncertain of the right words.
"1978," Chloe filled in.
Sam looked around, gaze settling on a Pinto parked next to them as he spoke. "Are you sure it's the same time Anna jumped to?"
"Not a hundred percent." Chloe held up the hand that had the powerful gold ring—Legion Ring, she'd called it. "This thing didn't come with a manual."
Dean studied the ring, not quite sure how the simple piece of jewelry could do the work of a powerful angel. His job—his life—didn't allow a lot of room for skepticism, but a time traveling ring was not exactly in the realm of his expertise.
And the fact that Chloe had been in possession of it…
"Anna is here," Castiel confirmed. "And she's weakened."
Sam pulled his attention from the retro scenery. "Which means we've got a head start."
"Good." Dean grabbed Chloe's hand, touching the ring on her finger carefully. "Can we get an explanation now?"
She let him keep her hand for the moment. "Later," she insisted. "After we save your parents."
"Why didn't you tell us about this sooner?" Dean pressed, instead. He knew she still had secrets—most of which weren't hers to share. He'd accepted that and moved on. But a ring capable of time travel? That could have been useful a number of times over the past two years. They could have stopped the final Seal from breaking, killed Ruby, saved him from Hell…
"Because." She was watching him like she could read his thoughts. With a gentle touch, she pulled his hand from hers and stepped back. "You would have tried to use it."
"And probably saved the world from the Apocalypse, while I was at it," he countered, catching his brother's nod. He wasn't the only one who knew the kind of help the ring could have provided.
Chloe didn't respond, her attention on something over his shoulder. Without a word, she brushed past him and moved to the phone booth behind him, ending the argument by remaining mute.
"Chloe," he ground out.
Her attention remained focused on the phone book she'd picked up. With a flick of her wrist, she opened the book, scanned a few pages then ripped one out. "I found your parents," she said finally, offering him the torn page.
Dean plucked the paper from her hands, watching her instead of reading the address. "We're going to talk about this."
Her nod was sharp. "We will. Later."
[March 13, 2008]
"I wanna make a trade. My soul for Dean's."
"Sam, Sam, Sam." The demon moved a step closer and smiled. "I know my coworker may have given you the wrong impression, but I don't go back on deals"
"It's not going back," Sam argued. "It's making a new deal. Dean still had two months left on his contract. He shouldn't have died. This is setting it right—and you get my soul out of the deal."
The demon's smile shifted to an unsettling leer. "And what makes you think I even want your soul?"
"I'm Hell's golden boy, right? I'm the one who's supposed to raise Lucifer. Why wouldn't Hell want my soul?" Sam demanded.
The demon tapped his chin thoughtfully. "True. But I think you'll still follow our plan. After all, look at your brother. You and your girlfriend thought Dean was free of his contract once Chloe killed Lilith. You thought you'd beat destiny."
"Lilith may have held his contract," the demon continued. "But it was Hell that owned his soul. Chloe didn't change anything. Lucifer will rise, and you'll be the one to raise him."
[May 20, 1978]
Castiel couldn't zap them to the past without seriously weakening himself, but zapping them from point A to B was still within his capabilities—which was convenient, because it saved them the hassle of stealing a car and driving to the Winchesters' home.
For the moment, no one spoke. Chloe watched the brothers, and the brothers watched the house. She couldn't begin to imagine what they were thinking. Time travelling was one thing, but time travelling to meet your parents to warn them of an angelic threat came with a whole new level of uncertainty.
She twirled the Legion Ring around her finger, stealing herself from memories. "Let's go," she directed, gently nudging them forward. "Anna will be here soon."
"What are we going to tell them?" Dean asked, not pulling his attention from the house.
"The truth." Sam's eyes narrowed defensively when his brother shot him an incredulous look. "What?"
"You really think that'll work?"
"No, but we don't have much of a choice. We've gotta tell them something."
Chloe nudged them again, eyeing Castiel carefully. The angel was tuned in to Anna, ready to announce her arrival—hopefully—before it happened. "Your mom's a hunter. She'll believe you."
"And if she doesn't?"
She shrugged though both men still had their backs to her. "Tell John his family is in danger. He'll do anything to protect his family."
Dean glanced at her over his shoulder, the same skepticism from before darkening his features. "You sound like you know him."
We're going to talk about this.
Denial was easy, and all too convenient. But she didn't have time for it. "Later, Dean," she muttered, looking forward to the moment she would stop sounding like a broken record.
He didn't argue—though is expression told her he wanted to—just moved ahead. He and Sam taking the lead as they hurried to the Winchesters' front step. There was nothing simple about what they were about to attempt. It would be naïve to think otherwise.
Yet, when the door opened and a blonde woman greeted them, Chloe realized she'd underestimated just how not-simple the situation was. They weren't just time travelling to save Sam and Dean's parents. They were going back in time to meet a woman Sam had no memory of—his mom. The woman who still influenced her family a quarter of a century after her death.
Carefully, Chloe reached out and rested a hand against Sam's lower back. It wasn't much, and she doubted it would help ease the impact of meeting his mother, but she had a hard time standing by while Sam was in distress.
"You can't be here," Mary hissed, her attention on Dean, ignoring the other members of the group. Ignoring Sam's inability to keep from staring at her.
"Mary, this is important…" Dean started, only to trail off when someone joined her in the doorway.
Chloe felt more than saw Sam's posture stiffen. In fact, both Winchesters seemed to stand taller in the presence of their father.
It wasn't the first time she'd witnessed it, either.
Unlike her time travelling sons, Mary stuttered a little at John's sudden appearance. Recovering quickly, she reached out and hooked a hand around her husband's arm. "Sorry sweetie, they are—"
"Mary's cousins," Dean jumped in, cutting Mary's statement short before she could force them away from her front door.
John blinked then smiled, his face completely void of the suspicion Chloe had learned to expect. "Family?"
"Yeah we were just—"
It was Dean's turn to be cut off as Castiel made his presence known, pushing to the front of the group. "You're in danger." Using a touch of angelic strength, he turned the young Winchester couple and herded them further into the house before anyone could protest. "Prepare yourselves."
"Cass?" Dean's voice was tight with annoyance and questioning.
As usual, Castiel was nonplussed by his tone. He simply continued his forward movement, his goal to protect the Winchesters. It wasn't until they were all crowded in the front entrance that he bothered to explain: "Anna's coming."
[May 2, 2007]
It took Bobby almost ten minutes to return to the brothers. Despite the dim light, the brothers' forms were easy enough to spot. They were close, Dean likely holding up his brother's body in sorrow and, possibly, denial. Bobby hurried forward, watching as details of the scene grew the closer he got.
Dean was holding Sam.
Sam's back was dark with blood.
Sam was holding his brother back.
Something cold curled inside Bobby as the last detail became evident. Sam was supposed to be dead. Bobby wasn't enough of an optimist to believe differently. The blood soaked through the younger man's jacket was evidence enough of the condition Sam should have been in.
To have him alive?
His presence continued to go unnoticed until he was finally close enough to take in the whole scene. Dean and Sam were on their knees. Dean hugging his brother with the kind of desperation Bobby had expected. Sam hugging him back with a sense of bewilderment evident in his features that were mostly turned away from Bobby.
And behind them, the body of a small blonde woman was laid out in the muddy road.
[May 20, 1978]
"What the Hell is going on?" John demanded, as they all crowded into the living room. He wrenched his arm from Castiel's grip and took a protective step in front of his wife, face tight with a sense of authority that was all too familiar.
The man in front of Sam was one who knew nothing about the supernatural, and hadn't had to handle the hell that came from losing the love of his life to a demon. Yet, John's tone was one Sam recognized in his father. Hunting may have changed him to a degree, but he'd been a Marine first.
And once they weren't in danger, Sam might take the time to appreciate his father's personality—if there ever came a time when they weren't in danger.
"Something is after you and Mary," Dean explained, his attention on the front door as he worked to keep himself between their parents and the looming threat.
Sam followed suit, spotting Castiel and Chloe on the other end of the room. It looked like they were talking, but Sam couldn't be sure. He was too focused on the fact that Anna was about to burst into the room and attempt to murder his parents.
"Something?" John repeated.
"A demon?" Mary asked at the same time.
"No." Sam didn't realize Castiel had moved to his side until the angel started speaking. "Not a demon, an angel. Two of them."
If Sam hadn't already known his mom was a hunter, the frown she threw Castiel would have confirmed it. No one got skeptical quite like a hunter.
"There's no such thing," she shot back only to jump when the lights suddenly flickered, stealing the certainty from her tone.
The enemy was there and they weren't ready—story of their lives.
The light behind Sam burst and he jumped, taking another protective step towards his parents. John curled a hand around his wife's shoulder as Mary fell into a fighting stance. Behind them, he saw Chloe still huddled near the far wall, her back to them.
Another light bulb burst then suddenly they weren't alone anymore.
Cass was right. Anna had brought help.
As she turned on Sam and the parents he was guarding, her partner charged Dean and Castiel Two against six, and the humans were still greatly outnumbered—
Chloe's cry registered a second before Castiel disappeared, and only moments before a sudden flash of light. Sam scrambled to understand even as he instinctively shielded his eyes.
It wasn't until his vision cleared and he was able to blink at the space Anna had just occupied that he figured it out. He turned and saw Chloe staring back at him, a blood-drawn sigil still dripping on the wall behind her.
"Angels are real," she muttered, gripping the cut along her forearm. "Everyone up to speed?"
[November 19, 2007]
"How do you feel?"
Dean turned and found Chloe perched on the bed next to the one he was still half-sprawled on. Grimacing a little at the stiffness of his muscles from having been still for so long, he swung his legs around until he sat opposite of her. Their knees just brushing each other.
"I feel fine." Absently, he reached up to scratch at the back of his neck. He flinched as his hand encountered the familiar tackiness of mostly-dried blood. "Which, I'm assuming, is something I shouldn't be feeling."
Chloe was running a hand over her thigh, the movement quick and efficient, and it wasn't until Dean looked harder that he noticed the flecks of blood under and around her nails. "You died," she said, without any show of emotion.
Well, that would explain the blood and rude wake-up. "And you healed me?"
"No." She finally pulled her gaze up from the floor. Dean flinched at the coldness in her eyes. She looked a lot like the woman he'd seen after she'd healed Sam in Cold Oak—instead of the woman who treated them like the old friends only she knew them to be.
There was a slight tremor in her hand as she reached out and pressed a finger to his forehead. Dean felt the shift of crusted blood under her finger and reached up to touch the scab on his head. "You were shot. Killed instantly. There was nothing I could do."
"Then how…?" He gestured to himself, a sinking feeling in his gut.
Chloe held no compassion in her eyes as they locked with his. "Sam made a deal." She almost looked angry. "He's going to Hell in a year."
[May 20, 1978]
The Impala was not a small car. A body—or two—could be kept in the back. Two full grown adults could—sleep—in the back seat. Yet, Dean felt crowded from his position in the back, tucked between the door and Chloe's small frame. It didn't help that he didn't particularly feel like being the same room as her at the moment, much less sharing the same backseat.
Sam frowned at him over Chloe's head, no doubt reading his thoughts. Chill.
I am chill. He returned the frown then focused his attention on his parents. John was still having a hard time grasping the monsters are real concept and Mary was at a loss at how to explain.
"And you hunt them?"
Mary seemed to shrink at her husband's tone—a reaction Dean never expected to see from his mom. "Yes."
"I don't believe this."
"John," Chloe cut in.
He shook his head. "No. Just shut up. All of you—"
"John!" Chloe leaned forward, tone sharp as she put herself as much in his space as she could from the back seat. "I get that this is a lot to take, but we've got bigger problems right now."
"You mean the angels?" he guessed, tossing out the last word like an insult.
Dean shared a knowing look with Sam. They knew that tone.
"Yes." Chloe's voice and posture calmed with that simple word, the tension from her outburst dissipating. "Angels. And they're after you and Mary. They're going to kill you, John, if you don't work with us."
Growing up, Dean had rarely questioned or argued with his dad—not when John had used the do as I say tone that came too easy to Marines and single dads. But when he had, he'd slowly figured out that the best way to get his opinion heard was with logic and level tones. Sharp tempers earned him nothing but an irritated father.
Calm earned him a patient ear.
"Alright." John nodded, hands still tight on the steering wheel, but his tone was decidedly relaxed. "Okay. What do we do?"
Chloe hadn't been raised by John Winchester, but the way she pulled out her reasonable tone to win her argument spoke of experience. She wasn't stupid. She knew how to get her opinion heard. It just unnerved Dean a little to realize how easily she'd won over his dad.
Dean met his dad's curious look in the rearview mirror. "We kill them first."
[July 19, 2006]
"You conjuring me, John." The demon's smirk grew as its eyes stayed golden. "I'm surprised. I took you for a lot of things, but suicidally reckless wasn't one of them."
John mirrored the smirk, ignoring the anger inside him. "I could always shoot you," he tossed out easily.
"You could always miss," the demon returned, shifting playfully. It laughed, pleased with the situation, despite the gun aimed at it. "And you've only got one try—"
The sudden report of a gunshot was startling as it cut off the demon's words. The demon was caught mid-sentence, its mouth open and eyes wide. It wasn't until the demon suddenly jerked, body alight from the inside, that John recognized the expression on the creature's face.
The demon was dying.
And John hadn't pulled the trigger.
"No!" he snapped, watching his last hope slip away as the demon's body jerked for a final time then collapsed in a lifeless heap.
A girl stood behind the demon, her gun still aimed at the now-empty space before her.
John blinked, recognizing the gun. It was the same one he held in his hand.
It was the Colt.
[May 20, 1978]
There were times when all Chloe needed was a glance from Dean to calm her nerves. Whether he did it consciously or not, he had the ability to ground her with nothing more than an unguarded look.
The looks he'd been giving her since they'd stepped through time were anything but grounding.
"What's the deal with the thing on the paper?"
Chloe turned at John's question, relieved for an excuse to avoid Dean's disappointed frown. Sam and Mary had disappeared into the next room almost as soon as they'd arrived at the old Campbell cabin, leaving her alone with Dean and John.
"It's a sigil," Dean answered. "It means…"
John stepped up to the table Dean had dropped their supplies on. His hand hovered over the sigil drawing, but he didn't touch, like he didn't dare. "I don't care what it means," he stated, cutting off Dean's explanation. "Where does it go?"
Chloe watched the two men, looking for similarities to a time only she remembered.
"On a wall or a door," Dean answered only a little uneasily.
John nodded, finally dropping a hand on the piece of paper. "How big should I make it?"
That finally got Dean's full attention. He hesitated, gaze flickering over to Chloe for the briefest moment, uncertainty in his eyes. It took her a second to realize he was asking for help. "John…" he mumbled.
"What?" John picked up the sigil, tightening his hand around the small piece of paper. "I'm not useless. I can draw a damn—whatever it is—a sigil."
Chloe saw Dean's response before he even opened his mouth, and she flinched in empathy with John. She knew what it felt like to be the outsider in the hunting world, coddled instead of trusted to pull her own weight.
"Why don't you go help Sam out?" Dean suggested, and Chloe stepped into the conversation before he could continue. Her words were going to earn her more disappointed looks, but John wasn't looking for coddling. He wanted to prove his worth.
It was a feeling she could understand.
"The sigil needs to be drawn with human blood," Chloe said, picking up the hunting knife on the table and holding out like an invitation.
"Chloe," Dean argued, reaching out for the knife. John pulled it from her grip before he could, unsheathing it and making to cut his hand.
Chloe grabbed his wrist, stopping him. "Just wait a second. Let me show you were to put it first."
John looked from her hand around his wrist to her face, and she almost smiled. The appreciation in his eyes was hesitant, but no less grounding than the look his son used to give her. Thank you.
"Chloe…" Dean frowned when she looked back at him, but he wasn't arguing anymore.
She swallowed and dropped his gaze first. "Trust me," she pleaded before leading John out of the room.
[July 20, 2006]
When John Winchester showed up on his doorstep, Bobby didn't bother brandishing a shotgun. The man looked like he'd been through enough, and Bobby wasn't one to kick a man when he was down.
Not even Winchester.
A glance over the man's shoulder told Bobby he would want John alive to fill in important details, anyway. Like how it was possible for Dean to not only be conscious, but look remarkably healthy for a man who'd been on the brink of death.
John moved past him into his house without waiting for an invitation, giving Bobby a better view of his sons—and the blonde girl in Sam's arms.
"Who is she?" he asked, deciding it was a good of a greeting as any.
"Not sure," John admitted, looking from his boys to the girl. "But she's got answer we're going to need."
[May 20, 1978]
"So angels, huh?"
Sam looked up at Mary's question—his mom's question. After explaining to her how the Holy Oil was used, they'd worked in silence, preparing for the upcoming fight. As much as he'd wanted to keep the conversation going and try to learn all he could about the mom he didn't remember, silence was easier.
For one, it didn't come with questions about rogue heavenly beings.
He sat back on his haunches, corking the oil vessel. "Yeah. Angels." It wasn't the response she was looking for, but it was all he had. "Not all of them are as great as you'd expect."
Mary's laugh was without humor. "I'm not sure what I expect. I'm not sure I even believe in angels."
"Only believe in what you see?" Sam guessed, remembering a similar conversation with his brother years earlier—before Hell and Castiel and being stuck in the middle of a Heaven's fight.
Mary nodded, finishing her own Holy Oil circle and turning her full attention on him. "I've seen a lot of things," she said by way of answering.
Sam didn't bother responding. There wasn't much to say that didn't fall under the umbrella phrase of it's a crazy world.
He blinked at the question, not catching the context. "Why what?"
"Why are they after me and John? Why now? And why are you here to stop them?"
Because I'm your son, and I've doomed the world, and the only way to stop it is to make sure I was never born.
"I wish I knew." He dropped her gaze and returned to his task.
Mom or not, Mary would know he was lying. She wouldn't need to see his face, and he preferred not to see the disappointment in hers. "Sam…"
He tensed at her knowing tone, suddenly nostalgic for a life he'd never experienced. He stood before she could finish, cutting her words off by removing himself from the conversation. "I'm going to go see how Dean is doing," he tossed over his shoulder then walked out of the room.
[November 2, 2006]
"I want you to go back and save Mary."
Dean froze, hand raised to knock on the door that separated the Winchesters' motel room from Chloe's. It wasn't too surprising to hear his father inside—he and Chloe spent a lot of time discussing a future they never wanted to come to pass. Dean just didn't expect to hear John discussing Mary with her.
Dean knew his dad had been thinking about it, yet to actually bring up the idea…
"No, John." Chloe's tone was direct, but even Dean caught the hint of sympathy. He dropped his hand and stood listening to the silence that followed. It was November second. Twenty three years since his mom's death. One year since Jessica Moore's.
Sam had left an hour earlier to grieve on his own. Best Dean could figure, his dad's plea to Chloe was John's way of grieving.
"Why not," John demanded and Dean saw the frown he was sporting, even if there was a solid door in front of him.
"I've changed the past to save the future. Not to save your family."
Dean didn't bother waiting around for his father's response.
[May 20, 1978]
"When this is all over, walk away, and never look back."
Dean nodded at his brother's statement. "So we're never born. He's right."
Mary shook her head, looking shocked by the turn of events. She'd been handling the threat on her life the same way all hunters did, but adding a meeting with her future sons had apparently pushed her past the point of staying poised. "I can't… You're saying that you're my children, and now you're saying…"
Dean jumped in when she trailed off. "You have no other choice. There's a big difference between dying and never being born—and trust me, we're okay with it. I promise you that."
Chloe stood behind Mary, taking in the conversation with uncharacteristic silence. As Dean spoke, her eyes widened until she mirrored the woman in front of her. "Dean…" She shook her head. "No."
He ignored her, turning back to Mary, who was protesting his words just as strongly.
"Listen, you think you can have that normal life that you want so bad, but you can't. I'm sorry. It's all gonna go rotten. You are gonna die, and your children will be cursed," Sam explained, using the same tone he used to win over stubborn witnesses.
"There has to be a way." Mary wrapped an arm around her middle, almost shrinking before them as she took in their words. The woman Dean always remembered as being larger and stronger than anything was wilting in front of them. But if it could save the future, it was worth it.
Even if it killed him to watch.
Dean spun at the sudden voice, spotting Castiel at the other end of the room. The angel looked anxious, his hand twitching over the sword in his grip. "Anna's coming, and she's not alone. She found Uriel."
"Oh you've gotta be joking," Dean muttered, turning back to his mom.
"This is no joke, Dean."
Dean ignored him, gesturing at Sam. "Go find John."
"I'm here." John hurried into the room. "And we've got a problem."
"Yeah." Dean cut in. "We heard. It's show time."
John frowned at having his words cut off. "The sigils are gone. Vanished."
"It's Anna," Castiel explained, moving to the center of the group.
On cue, the lights cut out and all the windows in the room shattered. Anna had arrived, but she wasn't worried about sneaking in. The chaos and noise died as quickly as it started and Dean tensed at the feeling of a presence behind him. He and Sam turned as one, spotting an angry looking angel ready to fight. "Uriel," he guessed, catching his brother's gaze.
Sam didn't waste time nodding his agreement just charged forward. Castiel was the only one with an angel killing sword, but they could still buy him time enough to stop Anna.
Unfortunately, fighting an angel was nothing like fighting the vessel it inhabited. Angels had a strength that outdid demons. Even as they fought in sync, it wasn't long before Uriel had both brothers grimacing in pain and near-defeat.
Dean pushed himself back onto his feet, sensing Sam do the same, while the angel smirked down at them.
Uriel's next strike was cut short by a sudden blinding light. His attention turned to the living room where the rest of the fight was happening. Dean flinched through the light, looking for an opening.
A quick glance towards the others explained the sudden lightshow as Castiel pulled his sword from the chest of Anna's other partner. Dean didn't allow himself any feeling of relief as he turned back towards Uriel and lunged, knowing Sam was right behind.
The angel didn't even flinch, remaining as immobile as a wall when Dean hit him. Smiling, Uriel swung and knocked Dean back to the floor then grabbed for Sam.
Senses unfocused from his fall, Dean barely registered Uriel's next action until it was complete. Using Sam's forward momentum, Uriel grasped the younger man's head between his hands and twisted.
Dean cried out before Sam's body hit the floor, witnessing the lifeless descent in painfully slow motion.
His attention stayed locked on his brother even as another flash of light burst through the room. He didn't bother guarding his eyes. Didn't even think to grimace against the blinding light.
Sam was dead.
It wasn't until the light died and Uriel failed to end his life as quickly as he had Sam's, that he bothered to look up. Uriel was still standing over him, but his focus was on the living room.
Castiel stood in the middle of the room, his sword stained red as he stood over the bodies of Anna and her accomplice. Behind him, Mary wavered, yet held her ground, looking just as shell-shocked as Dean felt. John wasn't in sight and the only hint he saw of Chloe was a blonde head lying behind the couch—unmoving.
"Castiel," Uriel hissed, only to have his threat die as the recipient suddenly vanished.
Dean couldn't manage shock at Castiel's disappearance. Everything had fallen apart so spectacularly, he couldn't think much beyond the body next to him.
It wasn't until John walked in through the front door, looking more casual than anyone in his situation had a right to be that he felt a twinge of surprise.
"Michael," Uriel breathed, and it took Dean's scrambled mind a minute to understand.
Michael, the archangel. Not John, his dad.
"Goodbye, Uriel," Michael said with a sharp snap of his fingers. Uriel disappeared and Dean stumbled to his feet, momentarily ignoring his brother's body as he watched John—Michael—press two fingers to Mary's head and knock her out.
Dean was moving without thought, his target the fallen form near Michael. Sam was dead, but maybe…
"She's alive," Michael assured, before he could reach Chloe.
The statement stopped his forward movement. He stared at the angel, remembering the last time his father had been possessed. "Bring them back."
Michael's mouth twitched up. "Who?"
"Castiel." Dean pointed to his brother. "Sam."
Michael's smirk stayed steady. "I didn't kill Castiel. I just sent him back to the future."
"Because, killing him would be kind of pointless. Dad will only bring him back again."
"And Sam?" Dean pressed, ignoring the way his voice cracked.
Michael took a step closer to him, eyes locking on his and demanding attention. "First we talk."
[October 3, 2007]
Sam shifted his position on the Impala's hood, only half-listening to the conversation going on next to him. Most of his attention was on the scene in front of him—a high school baseball game.
"Are you sure there were only two others?" his dad asked.
Sam peripherally caught Chloe's nod. "Positive," she said. "The ghoul you killed had two children. The guys made sure there weren't any other stragglers."
The guys. Sam looked up at that, recognizing the reference to the future versions of him and Dean. It wasn't often Chloe spoke of the future only she had seen play out. She'd relayed the important details within the first few months, but as her time with the three Winchesters had passed the year mark the conversations about the future had nearly ended all together.
"He's safe?" Sam reiterated, needing the confirmation even if he knew Chloe couldn't give one. They may have killed the ghouls, but no one was ever completely safe.
And Adam was a Winchester, which meant his safety was even more fragile.
"He's safe," Chloe said.
Silence fell over the four of them as they turned to the baseball game, their focus on the kid playing first base. Their family.
Sam's little brother.
Dean's hand on his shoulder wasn't as startling as it could have been. He didn't say anything, but Sam still caught the message.
We'll keep him safe.
[May 20, 1978]
The sensation of a cold, hard surface against her cheek slowly pushed through her unconscious mind, until she finally blinked awake and found herself sprawled along an unfamiliar floor. Another blink brought back memories that had her sitting up faster than her body appreciated.
By the fifth blink she was swaying on her feet, but steady enough to know something was wrong. The room around her was currently missing a number of figures who had been there before her abrupt encounter with an unyielding wall.
She turned, spotting the source of the voice at the other end of the room. He stood in the threshold between the kitchen and the living room. It was dark, but she could still make out his face.
He took a step forward, posture unlike what she remembered John possessing. "I am Michael."
"Michael?" Her fear for the missing occupants grew. "As in the archangel?"
She earned a small nod in response.
"How? I thought Dean was your only vessel."
"No. He's my true vessel, not my only vessel."
The statement gave little explanation, but she still understood. "You're possessing, John Winchester?"
"It's in his blood," Michael said as if that explained everything. And it did, because Chloe had dealt with enough vessel lore to know to draw conclusions from little information.
"And the brothers and Cass?" The worry was back, just as sharp as before, straightening her spine and hardening her face. "What did you do to them?"
"Nothing. They're back home, safe." He shifted, and she recognized the small amusement in his expression. "It's just you and me."
"You let Dean go?" Angels weren't demons, but they still knew how to get their way. It didn't make sense for Michael to have his hands on Dean only to let him go.
"We'll meet again soon. I'm sure of it."
"Angels aren't omniscient," Chloe argued.
Michael looked pleased at her statement. "Maybe not, but we know when our side holds all the cards. We've won. It's just a matter of time."
Chloe imagined it was just John she was arguing with. She knew how to argue with John. She had experience doing that. She didn't, however, have experience arguing with an archangel. "No." She shook her head and stood her ground. "You won't win."
Michael didn't bother continuing the argument. He moved past her, circling her, and she stood her ground. If he wanted to end her, running wasn't going to save her. "I could have stopped you at any point in your time travelling. You know that, right?"
She didn't answer so he continued. "I thought about it, too. Just ending you and your pointless mission so I could get on with the Apocalypse. But do you know why I didn't?"
She didn't, nor did she particularly care. But if Michael was going to play friendly…"Why?"
"Because, when this is all over. After Dean says yes and I kill my brother, he is going to be alone." He was standing directly in front of her again, watching her with eyes that attempted to convey sympathy, but failed. "Dean will need you."
"He'll need his brother," Chloe corrected.
Michael shook his head. "Maybe. But you and I both know Sammy won't be around."
She swallowed her pang fear. Sam wasn't dead. Not yet. Not for a long time.
In the mean time, her current conversation was getting old. "What do you want from me? Why did you keep me here?"
"I decided it was time we talked." The angel held out a hand and made a gimme gesture. "And, I wanted your ring."
Chloe hesitated. She couldn't give up such a powerful object, even if she knew using it was a waste of time with Heaven watching their time travel.
Michael's expression shifted and for a moment he seemed to loom, standing taller than his vessel and staring down at her with the kind of intimidation only an angel could pull off. "I will have the ring, whether you hand it over or not."
"Fine." She slipped the Legion Ring off and dropped it into Michael's outstretched hand. "This doesn't mean I'm giving up."
"I'd be surprised if it did."
[September 18, 2008]
He found her a mile away from motel, her car parked along the side of the road. She was sitting on the hood, watching the woods in front of her like it held an answer to some unspoken question.
Her shoulders shifted as he neared, an unspoken statement that he was welcome. "Are you looking at the forest or the trees?" he asked, leaning against the sun-warmed hood.
She didn't respond right away. Her silence stretching across them in a way that was no longer uncomfortable. Carefully, he pulled himself onto the hood next to her and settled back, studying the group of trees that had her so mesmerized.
"Sam buried you in those woods," she said as casual as if she'd just told him the time.
After two years, he'd learned to expect her sudden insights into a past that no longer existed for her. "Seems kinda out of the way."
She nodded, face still turned to the woods. "He never did tell me why he chose here."
"Here's as good a place as any."
"Especially if he was going to get you back," Chloe agreed.
Dean turned to watch her. "This is why you wanted to stop here?"
"Yeah. It's September eighteenth. The day you came back from Hell." Her voice was heavy with memories that Dean wasn't sure he wanted her to dwell on.
"I never went to Hell," he assured, dropping a hand on her forearm. "You stopped it. You changed the future."
She finally looked over at him, eyes just as heavy as her tone had been. "I did it." It was almost a question, and he was quick to reassure.
"You did it."
[February 4, 2010]
Michael's touch barely registered before it was gone and she stood in the middle of a familiar motel room. The adrenaline rush she'd been riding receded the moment she recognized her surroundings. Stumbling, she took a step back and sank onto the bed behind her, dropping her head into her hands to keep from falling backwards.
She didn't bother looking up, too busy trying to breathe—focusing on the failures in her mind's eye.
"Chloe?" Sam repeated, his hand curling around her shoulder.
She swallowed and blinked down at the carpet. She didn't want to respond. She didn't want to admit what had happened to her, and what Michael had explained. At that moment, she didn't want anything.
But Sam sounded worried…
"I'm sorry," she finally managed.
Another hand landed on her other shoulder, prompting her to look up. Dean was crouched in front of her, his face the same mix of concern and annoyance he always managed to blend so seamlessly. His hand slid down to hers, tracing the now ring-less finger. "It's later," he said simply. "Let's talk."
"Michael took the ring. It's not worth it."
The concern leaked from his face, leaving her with an annoyed Dean. He dropped her hand and moved back so he stood over her. "You've had access to your own DeLorean for who knows how long, and you never bothered to tell us. I think that's definitely worth talking about. I think that's worth demanding a few answers about, in fact."
"I told you already. I never said anything, because I knew you two would try to use the ring."
"You're damn right we would have tried. In case you haven't noticed, we're in the middle of the Apocalypse because we screwed up—made the wrong choices," Dean snapped, gesturing between him and Sam.
Sam frowned with guilt, but nodded. "We could have saved the planet."
Chloe shook her head and resisted the urge to drop their gazes. It wasn't often she managed to disappoint the Winchesters simultaneously. Even Castiel, standing at the edge of their conversation looked unsettled. "No. You couldn't have. It wouldn't have worked."
"Oh don't give me that destiny crap." Dean was speaking with his hands as much as his words, a sign he was more than a little irritated. "You don't know what could have happened."
Chloe stood, matching his anger. Her encounter with Michael had left her reeling and Dean's accusation was the kind of solid ground she needed. "I know!"
"Because! I tried..." The words came out sharp and ended too soft, like a whisper. "…Because, I tried," she repeated, anger deflating just as quickly as it had risen. "I found the ring after the Blur's funeral, and I put it on."
Sam's expression was torn between compassion and the same annoyance that had his brother on edge. "You wanted to save him," he guessed.
"No. I wasn't lying before: time travel is risky, and it's not worth manipulating just to save one life." She saw Castiel nod in agreement behind the brothers. "I used it to save the world. To stop the Apocalypse."
Dean's own annoyance flared at her admission. "And you didn't tell us?"
"What's to tell?" she asked wryly. "It didn't work. No matter what I did, it went rotten. I killed Lilith to save you from Hell, only you went to Hell anyway—"
"And broke the first Seal," he filled in.
She continued without acknowledging his statement. "Then, I went back to stop you from making the deal in the first place. I healed Sam, and you killed Yellow-Eyes, and then you were killed…"
"And?" Sam pressed, when she hesitated.
"And Sam made a deal. One year for Dean's life," she explained, keeping her own annoyance in check. "The Apocalypse was still on track only with a different brother headed for Hell. I couldn't stop it. You wouldn't listen to me."
"We didn't know you," Dean realized.
"No. You didn't."
"What did you do?"
"I went back further and stopped your dad from making that deal with Yellow-Eyes at the hospital."
Dean looked skeptical. "How?"
"I shot Yellow-Eyes and healed you."
"What went wrong?" Sam asked, taking a few steps back to rest against the dresser.
She dropped back down on the bed she'd vacated, memories welling up that she'd managed to stifle for over a month. "Nothing. For two years. We saved your brother Adam. No one made any deals. The Apocalypse was nothing but a story."
"I'm not seeing the downside," Dean prompted.
"She'd stalled the Apocalypse," Castiel said, finally speaking up. "Heaven would have changed things back."
Chloe huffed a laugh in agreement, dropping her face into her hands again. "All roads lead to the same destination, but only if Heaven is at the wheel."
[November 2, 2008]
He started clapping when she walked inside then smiled when her hand went to the gun on her hip. It was pulled out and aimed even as her eyes widened with recognition.
"Hey Gorgeous. Miss me?"
Chloe holstered her gun and kicked the motel door shut with a foot. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm here to change things back?"
Chloe looked leery. "What things?"
Gabriel stood and pointed shook a finger at her. "You can't play dumb, Chloe. I've been on to your little Marty McFly impersonation for a while now."
She looked defiant for a moment and he knew she wanted to deny his statement. But he was right. She wasn't dumb. She knew lying wouldn't work. "How did you know?" she asked finally, defeat dropping her shoulders fractionally.
"You throw the Apocalypse off course and you don't think people will notice?" he asked in response.
"People, no. Angels, yes." Her look was just as direct as her tone.
Gabriel gestured to his vessel with a dramatic flourish. "I am what I am."
"The Trickster." Chloe crossed her arms, stubborn frown darkening a few degrees, though he could still detect the defeat in her form. She was putting up an act. A way to go down swinging. "What do you care about the Apocalypse? I thought you didn't want your brothers fighting?"
She wasn't asking how he was there, which was a relief in itself. He didn't really want to get into the in-depth explanations of earthly versus heavenly timelines—and how being an archangel turned trickster gave him special privileges.
"I don't," Gabriel confirmed. "And your little sidetracking isn't going to stop their fight." He moved a step closer and dropped all attempts at humor. "It's just going to make it worse."
"How do you know?"
"I've got the gift of foresight," he mused then sobered just as easily. "And, I know Michael's handiwork when I see it."
"Meaning, you can't throw the Apocalypse off course and hope people won't notice?" Gabriel shifted in place, pacing a short path in front of her as he spoke. "Big brother has been on to your Marty McFly impersonation since it started. It doesn't matter what you change. The Apocalypse will still come to pass. Mikey will make sure of it."
"Why are you telling me all this?"
"Because, Heaven is being merciful—for once," Gabriel explained. "They're letting me handle this, instead of just smiting you and going from there."
Gabriel shrugged. "Michael tends to get hissy when his plans get delayed."
Her face fell, before she could swallow her emotion. "I can't let it end like that."
He stepped closer, silently cursing his unspoken soft-spot for all things Winchester. They were going to be the death of him. Once he was close enough, he dropped a hand on her shoulder and met her watery gaze. "Then don't."
Something flickered in her eyes, but he didn't take the time to analyze it. He knew. The Winchesters had left their mark on her, but the determination that darkened her eyes? That was uniquely hers.
He snapped his fingers.
To Be Continued…