Author's Note: A quick story from OhSam with the prompt being "Father knows best" and thus, this story was born. Set season two, post "Born Under a Bad Sign". Trigger warning for attempted suicide. If this bothers you, please do not read.
"And this one last bullet you mention
Is my last shot at redemption."
—Relient K, "Be My Escape"
John Winchester was a lot of things to a lot of people.
A stubborn bastard with a mean streak, according to Bobby. An outcast among outcasts to the hunting society at large. Ellen, herself had told them, that she remembered him fondly as the gruff man who would barely touch his beer, too busy pouring over his latest research to make small talk. Dean knew him as the man who could seemingly beat any monster with just a little bit of luck on his side. Even now, not even two months after his death and Dean's eyes would still drift to his cellphone, like he could call their father for help like they used to.
Not that John ever answered, even when he was still alive.
Sam would always remember John as the most intelligent man he had ever encountered. Not book-smart per se, though John did know an interesting amount of facts concerning the French Revolution, for some odd reason. No, what Sam meant is that John knew things—things about how life worked, things about how to take monsters out, things about how to fix a car when you're stranded on the side of the road and all you have in your disposal is duck tape and a few random screws.
John knew facts and figures, but his deductive reasoning was the thing that impressed Sam the most about him. His father could analyze a situation and within a few hours have come up with the perfect plan to implement. And sure, when things went sideways—as they were prone to do—John would improvise, coming up with a perfect Plan B.
So, when Dean told Sam about what his Father had told him on that fateful day in the hospital, the day John died, Sam was stunned. Their father liked his secrets—he could never trust, not fully—but what little information he had a grasp on told the youngest Winchester that maybe his father had a point. Bad things were coming, anyone could tell that with the increasing omens and demons popping up, but if John knew that Sam had a part to play in this . . .
Thinking about the endless possibilities gives Sam a migraine.
He doesn't want to die, of course. He has so much left he wants to do in life—like go to the beach with Dean and learn how to surf—but it's becoming increasingly clear to the youngest Winchester that his older brother won't go through with it. He won't pull the trigger, no matter what Sam does, he's made that clear when Sam was possessed.
Which leaves two options: live and possibly risk the world and Dean or die and save everyone.
When he sits down and logically thinks it through, the choice becomes obvious. If Dean won't kill him, Sam has to take matters into his own hands. He can't risk becoming a monster or whatever dark future John was aware of. He has to take himself out of play before it's too late. He won't risk Dean—he refuses to.
"You okay?" Dean asks him later that night as Sam flips through their father's old journal, looking for some sort of Hail Mary save.
There isn't one.
"Fine." Sam lies through gritted teeth.
"Sam—" Dean presses and Sam glances up from the book and grins at his big brother, trying to convey a thousand things he will never say. Things like I love you and this is for the best, you'll see. If Dean were rational, if he thought more with his head rather than his heart, then Sam could tell him his plan. But for now, all he can do is play the part of a little brother just worried about the upcoming hunt.
"Hey, you want to go get some food?" Sam closes the journal and stands up from the desk. Stretching, he smiles once more at Dean, trying to project an aura of calm. "We could try that burger place down the road."
"You want burgers?" Dean echoes, tone measured and somewhat cautious. "What about your rabbit food?"
Sam shrugs, "Man cannot live off salad alone."
That actually gets a laugh from Dean and instantly, the younger brother relaxes.
"Sure. Let me grab the keys."
What Dean doesn't know is that this is Sam's last meal.
Tonight, he will finally fulfill Dad's last orders.
It's later, that night at the motel, with Dean sawing logs on in the bed next to his that Sam glances at the bedside clock. It's 2am and it's time. It's funny, he notes as he pulls on his pants and throws a sweatshirt on, how calm he is about this whole thing. He's almost detached from it. It's just another job—that must be how John was able to view it—and Sam is just following orders.
After all, father knows best.
He grabs his duffel and places it gently on the coffee table. A note for Dean is left right on top, waiting for his brother's discovery in the morning. He hasn't got many possessions, but the few he does are precious and he wills them all to his brother. Hopefully, between the letter and his journals, Dean will understand why Sam has to do this. Sure, he expects his brother to be angry—no furious—at first, but Dean will move on. Logic will win over emotion.
Just like it did with John.
The night air is crisp, but not chilly and as he hot-wires an old Cadillac in the parking lot, he places the gun—his father's old revolver—on the seat next to him. Then, as quietly as he can manage, he pulls out of the parking lot and gets onto the highway. He's not sure exactly where he's going—all that really matters is that he gets away from his brother and his caring gaze—but after a half an hour of driving, he pulls off the road and checks into another motel. He feels almost bad about killing himself here—the poor motel staff might not recover from the shock—but he really just needs to get this done.
You know, what hurts the most is not the fact that John was planning on killing him should things go crazy. No, that Sam would expect from his father. It's that he didn't bother to talk to Sam about it. Sure, John's youngest isn't exactly sure how that conversation would've gone, but at least Sam could've known that his destiny might've been grim. He could've helped his father with research. He could've done something to try and save himself—
But now, it's too late. John is dead and as far as Sam is concerned, there's no saving him. If Dean won't do it, then Sam will just have to take care of this, just like any other monster, just like any other job—
The gun is heavier in his hands, more so than he remembers. It's awhile since he touched this gun, not since John died. It's funny, the one memory of his father that keeps coming to him is when he's like six or seven and John must've just gotten back from a hunt cause he staggers in exhausted, but of course, Sam didn't know this. So, Sam goes up to his father and shows him the picture that his teacher had praised and he distinctly remembers John taking the picture, smiling at it, and then saying, "Good job, Sammy."
Out of all the memories he has, that's the one that keeps coming to him.
Why didn't John tell him about his fate? Why did he have to be so damn secretive? Sam has so many questions—questions he'll never get the answer to and now's it's too late, it's always too late—
Father knows best. Father wanted to kill him. Father didn't want to say anything.
So be it.
Just pull the trigger and end this charade.
That's what John wanted after all.
His finger is tensing on the trigger when the door bursts open and Dean runs into the room and Sam is so startled by this—because he never accounted for Dean finding him, not in any of his scenarios, not in any of his back up plans—that he almost pulls the trigger in reflex.
"Easy, Sammy." Dean has his hands outstretched, placating, like Sam's the threat and God, that breaks Sam's heart. He's never wanted to see his brother like this, groveling before him. No, this isn't how it's supposed to happen—
"Just go back, Dean." Sam is surprised by how quiet is voice is when deep inside, he's screaming, because this isn't going according to plan and John is dead and Sam doesn't know what he's supposed to do!
"And leave you?" Dean scoffs. "Never, Sammy." He takes a careful step towards his younger brother, a soft smile tugging at his lips. "You wanna tell me what's going on, Sam? Maybe put the gun down and we can go get some air—?"
"No." Sam presses the gun harder to his skull. "After what happened while I was possessed—"
"That wasn't you!" Dean insists sharply.
"For now!" Sam fires back. "But Dad knew something was coming and if you won't kill me then I sure as hell won't wait around to become a monster—"
"Dad was a bastard, Sam!" Dean growls, voice snapping. "He never should've put that shit on me and he sure as hell shouldn't have kept something like that from us. But guess what? Dad is gone. We're in charge here and Sam, I need you to listen to me, this isn't the solution. We'll figure something out—"
"But what if we don't—"
"But what if we don't, Dean!" Sam insists, voice cracking as a lone tear snakes down his cheek. "You don't get it, do you? I'm a ticking time bomb!"
"You're my brother." Dean is now face to face with him, only a few inches of space separating them. "And I need you to put down the gun and trust me."
"Dad didn't know everything," The eldest Winchester whispers, "We can figure something out, I know we can. I just need you to give me some time, Sammy. Trust me to save you." He kneels before Sam, hand outstretched for the gun. "Can you do that?"
This goes against everything he's been planning. Living has never been one of the options in anything he came up with. Sam is fully prepared to die tonight, but now, seeing his brother here, feeling the emotions of fear and grief that he locked up in the dark recesses of his mind now spilling out, mingling with relief at seeing Dean.
Sam Winchester wants to live.
Would it be so wrong to live, Dad?
Handing his brother the gun, he feels like he can finally breathe again. Then, as Dean throws his strong arms around him, Sam wonders dimly if this should've been part of the plan all along.
John may have been the smartest man Sam ever knew, but that doesn't mean he couldn't have been wrong. And maybe, just maybe, his father had been wrong about this, wrong about them, and perhaps they could overcome this.
"Jesus Christ, Sammy," Dean's crying now, more out of relief though it seems, "You gave me a fucking heart attack."
Sam just smiles as the tears continue to fall and he hugs his brother and he thinks, maybe they just might pull this off.
With Dean by his side, he can do anything after all.
Author's Note: I want to explore the complexity of John's relationship with Sam. This was just one aspect that spoke to me. Please let me know what you thought if you have a moment! Thanks!