Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural.

Some reviewers were very nice and asked for a sequel with a bit more John. It didn't quite trip out of me like the previous bit but I hope it's okay. Please review.

John is two rooms over when he hears Dean yell, "Sammy!" and a shotgun blast. He runs toward the sounds and arrives just in time to see wisps of the poltergeist disappearing. There's a smile and a good work on his lips before he realizes that the creature has left them with something to remember him by.

Sammy is bleeding all over the rough wood floor. Dean is leaning over him with desperation in his eyes, trying to stem the blood flow. And Sam whispers cryptically, "Dean, it's okay. Let me bleed. There should be blood on the outside too."

John feels frozen but somehow he stumbles over to his sons. They've been hurt on hunts before, but this- this is very bad. There is so much blood already. An artery must have been sliced clean through. He's not naturally averse to blood, but this time it's coming out of one of his sons; his youngest son who never wanted to be here. Sammy, who wanted a chance at the life John had when he was happy.

John looks at Sam and what strikes him most is that besides the red, red blood all over him, Sam looks exactly the same. He looks broken, but he was broken before this latest blow. John broke him when he forced Sam to decide between his family and himself.

The guilt is blinding but the blood spells urgency so John squats down to scoop Sam up in his arms and get him to the car. Hands push his away and John looks into his oldest son's eyes. There is something dark and unforgiving there. Dean picks Sam up and runs with him toward the car and John remembers how it was Dean that held Sam in his arms that night so many years ago when all their lives burned. He sprints after them.

Dean maneuvers Sam gently into the backseat without a remark about not bloodying the upholstery. He holds out the keys to John but before he releases them he says, "Hospital," with no give in his voice. John has never seen how far he is down some dark path until now. Sam is bleeding out in the backseat and Dean isn't sure that John will take them to a hospital instead of heading back to the hotel room and trying to self-stitch Sam back together. But he nods and when Dean accepts it enough to let go of the keys and climb in with Sam, John thinks there's still hope.

He drives like he's possessed by Evel Kinevel or just a father who won't lose his sons. Dean's choked voice is whispering, "Hold on, Sammy," like a mantra and Sam is so, so quiet.

They pull up to the ER and doctors take Sam away behind cold metal doors. He and Dean sit in the waiting room and wait. They don't speak and John is aware that every word they will ever say after this hinges on whether Sam lives or dies.

The guilt is suffocating. He thinks about how far away from this Sam would have been if he'd just let him go to Stanford. He imagines Sam smiling, one arm full of books and the other around a beautiful girl. There is no red in his imagined picture. But he didn't let Sam have that chance and the real picture is all in shades of red.

He thinks about how broken Sam looked lying on the ground and how broken he's looked since John made him choose between his future and his family. He realizes now that Sam was bleeding out before tonight. He was just doing it so quietly that John didn't notice.

- - -

Two weeks pass before the doctor lets them take Sam home. He's pale and quiet and says he's sorry he wasn't fast enough, he'll work on it. John doesn't want him to work on it. He gives his blessing for Sam to go to Stanford and his heart hurts at the utter amazement in Sam's smile.

Dean tells him it's too little, too late. John just hopes that even too little, too late is better than nothing, ever.

Review? No flames please.