Chapter One: From End to Beginning
Dean Winchester tried to drag himself across the cold concrete floor to reach his brother’s side. He wasn’t sure he was going to make it, though. Not that it mattered too much. Sam was dead, had been for quite a few minutes already, and Dean was well on his way to joining him. But still, if he had to die like this, he at least wanted to see his brother one last time. Was that really too much to ask? Apparently it was, because there was just no way that Dean was going to make it. His back had been broken when one of the demons had hurled him into the cement post, so he couldn’t move his legs at all. And that was after another demon had mangled his left arm beyond repair. Dean would’ve passed out long ago if it wasn’t for the strange spell that had been set over this demon torture facility that made it impossible for a person to lose consciousness until they were dead. Still, Dean used his right arm to drag himself another few inches closer to Sam.
The gravely injured hunter had to stop moving when he felt a terrible pain in his chest. He let out a low moan which turned into a coughing fit. When he finally got his breathing back under control, there was a large amount of blood in a puddle by his hand. Dean spit out one last mouthful of the metallic tasting stuff and then tried to crawl forwards, not even caring that he was dragging his damaged body through the blood that he’d just coughed up. He was only a few more meters away. Maybe he could make it there after all.
But then a pair of nice looking dress shoes appeared in front of him. Dean looked up to see a balding forty-something year old businessman with black eyes looming over him.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
“Disneyland.” Dean gasped out. “’Cause… boy, do I… need a… vacation.”
“Do you really want those to be your final words?”
“Let you know… if I… think… of anything… better.” Dean managed to get the words out even though it was a struggle to talk. Blood ran from his mouth with every syllable and something was rattling in his chest.
The demon smirked down at him. “I don’t think you have the time to come up with anything else.”
Dean braced himself for whatever was to come. This was it. The end. He was about to join all the others. His mom. His dad. Ellen and Jo. Bobby. Garth. Benny. Sammy. They’d all passed on before him. They’d all left him alone. But now he was going to be with them and soon the entire world would follow. Because they’d failed. He’d failed.
Just then, light seemed to pour from the demon and he crumpled to the ground. Dean blinked and looked at Castiel who was now standing over him.
“’Bout time… you joined… the… party.”
“I’m sorry. For this. For everything.”
“Fix it.” Dean meant for it to come out like an order but his voice cracked, making it sound more like a plea.
“I can’t. At least not how you want me to.”
Cas crouched down next to Dean. “I can’t heal you. Nor can I bring Sam back.”
“You… should’ve… been here.”
“It wouldn’t have changed the outcome. Perhaps you would’ve survived today, but you would’ve lost soon enough. We can’t win this.”
“Nice… outlook, Cas. Way… to stay… positive.”
“It’s true, Dean.”
“So what? You… just… gave up?” Dean really didn’t want to waste his last breaths arguing with the angel, but he was pissed that his friend hadn’t been there and he wanted answers.
“No. I found another way. The only way to stop all of this from ending this way is to stop it from beginning.”
“Beginning? I don’t…” Dean’s body was wracked with another bout of coughing. When he got his breath back, the dying hunter tried to ask his question again. “I don’t understand… what that… means. What… beginning?”
“The moment all of this was put into motion. The night of November 2nd, 1983. The night your mother died and Sam was infected with Azazel’s blood.”
“You said… it couldn’t be… stopped. Destiny… and all… that… crap.”
“I was wrong. There is a way. But you have to agree to some, well let’s just call it some guidelines.”
“What guidelines?” Dean wished that Cas would just get to the point before they had to continue the conversation in the afterlife. He wasn’t going to last much longer. The pain was getting worse and he was weakening rapidly.
“I can take you back but you need to stay there. You need to grow up there. And you must still hunt. Those you and your family have saved must still be saved. Some things you will be able to change while other things must still happen.”
Dean tried to comprehend what Cas was saying but the loss of blood was making it difficult. Besides, the angel seemed to be being a bit cryptic. “Will… my mom… dad… Sammy… will they live?”
“That is up to you and what you do. But yes, you will have the chance to save them from all the events that Azazel set into motion. But you will not get the same chance to start over as they will. You will remain the same.”
“I don’t… understand.”
“You will not be able to escape all that’s happened to you. You will always carry the memories even if you change the events that caused them.” Cas looked sad at that announcement. “You can say no to this arrangement if you wish, and I’ll end your suffering now. You can finally know peace.”
Dean still couldn’t fully comprehend what the angel was trying to tell him but he understood enough to know that things probably weren’t going to turn out well for him if he accepted the terms of this deal. But if his parents and his little brother could be saved, then his fate didn’t really matter all that much. Dean had always put his family first and would continue to do so.
“I’ll… do it, Cas.”
“Dude, I said yes.” Dean growled out.
Cas nodded. Then he reached out his hand and gently placed it on the injured man’s head. The pain immediately faded and then so did the rest of the world.
Dean’s eyes flew open and he let out a gasp. The room he was in was lit by a soft glow and seemed vaguely familiar. He was lying in a comfortable bed under soft blankets. Dean took a quick mental stock of himself and was pleased to discover that he could once again feel and move his legs. It no longer hurt to breathe and the rest of his body was not in extreme agony any more. Dean lifted his left arm up to see if the damage had been healed and that’s when he realized that something was very wrong.
His arm was no longer broken and shattered, the skin wasn’t torn apart and all his fingers were once more attached. But his arm wasn’t his. It couldn’t be because it was the size of a small child’s arm. Dean pulled up the sleeve of the flannel pajama shirt and pinched the skin. Ouch. Yeah, it was definitely his arm. But what the hell? Frantically, he kicked the covers off of himself and saw that his entire body was now way too tiny to be his own. Dean ran his fingers through hair that was much too long and then down his small face. Oh yeah, something was very wrong.
Dean hopped out of the bed and looked around the room. There was a dresser, a child sized desk and chair, bookshelves, a toy box, and the bed he’d just been in. The floor was cluttered with toys and a partially completed large floor puzzle. Dean stared at the incomplete picture and realized where he was. His childhood bedroom. He looked back down at himself. He was a child in his childhood bedroom. The pieces were now falling into place.
“You coulda mentioned that this was part of the deal, Cas.” Dean mumbled in a voice that was much younger than it should have been. “Just how the hell am I supposed to stop the crap from hitting the fan when I’m freakin’ four years old?!”
He felt fear, anger, anxiety, and about a million other emotions welling up inside of him all at once. Tears burned behind his eyes. Dean swiped them away. Why the hell was he crying? This was far from the worst situation he’d ever been in. Definitely one of the most unusual, but not cry-worthy, that was for sure. Of course he hadn’t been a little kid during the other incidents, so that was probably it. But he did have all of his adult memories, so he shouldn’t be reacting like this. He couldn’t afford it. He had to think and come up with some sort of plan to stop the coming events. Speaking of which…
Dean walked over to the wall closest to his bedroom door to get a look at the calendar. He wanted to know how much time he had to get ready. He was hoping for at least a week or so. More time would be better, since he needed to come up with a plan, get whatever supplies he’d need, and prepare for the confrontation.
The boy reached up and flipped the light switch. He squinted as a bright light illuminated his bedroom. Dean saw that the cheerful looking teddy bear calendar for the year of 1983 was already turned to the month of November. And according to the stickers he’d used to mark off days passed, it was the second day.
Dean’s eyes widened and he shook his small head in denial. He didn’t have weeks or even days. He had hours at best or possibly just minutes to prevent the tragedy that was about to once again befall his family.