There's No Such Thing as a Happy Ending
Disclaimer: If I had anything official to do with Supernatural, I wouldn't be posting stories here now, would I?
A/N: I'm excited for the season premier next week and all the new ideas we'll get from it. Sadly, school starts again for me a couple of days later so I probably will have to beat the plot bunnies into submission for a while. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this one. It reintroduces an original character from Breakdown, a story I'm very proud of.
No one ever said life was fair and that went double for some lives.
John Winchester grew up in a less than happy home. It wasn't as bad as some, but it was worse than others and he left as soon as he could. Despite his background, he could have gotten into nearly any college he wanted to and avoided going to Vietnam, but he volunteered for service in the Marines instead. He was well on his way to a decorated career, having already proven himself more than once, but after getting back to the States he met someone who would forever change his life.
Mary Jefferson was a college student working as a waitress for extra money. John saw her as soon as he walked in with some of his buddies. She was smiling and laughing with customers at another table and he would have sworn that she was glowing. They weren't seated in her section, but John made sure he talked to her before they left. It might have been a little presumptuous to tell her she was going to marry him, but that's exactly what happened.
Mary's childhood had been more normal than John's, but she was an only child and her parents died when she was in high school. Since John wasn't close to his family, it ended up really only being the two of them. For a while.
John made his home in Lawrence, Kansas to be close to Mary while she finished school. He used his military benefits to attend classes and eventually bought into a garage with a friend. After getting married, he and Mary bought a house and started making a home. John had never been happier; he thought life was perfect and things couldn't get any better. He was wrong.
Mary was exhausted. John had to go out of town to visit a new parts distributor and Dean had gotten sick. She was up with the baby for two nights in a row, but when John came home he took over. He sat in the rocking chair, soothing the infant, as Mary slept in the next room. He didn't know anything about being a father, his role model being far from perfect, but Mary had assured him he would be a good father. He wanted to be; he'd never felt anything like the love he felt for the tiny boy in his arms. It didn't even compare to what he felt for Mary and he'd thought there was nothing to compare to that.
Every moment with his son was a joy and John didn't think things could get any better. Again, he was wrong. When little Sammy came along four years later, he couldn't have been happier. Dean was secure in his parents' love and couldn't wait to be a big brother. Sam was different from his brother but, like Dean, he was a happy baby. Nothing made John feel better than coming home to his family.
But then something happened that changed everything. All he knew at the time was that somehow his beloved Mary was pinned to the ceiling, bleeding, and burst into flames. He heard Dean screaming from the doorway, not doubt having been woken up by his father's yelling. John grabbed the crying Sammy from his crib and handed him to his big brother, telling Dean to take him and run. Dean did as he was told, but paused just outside the house looking up at the nursery window just as flames exploded outward. John ran up behind his boys and carried them both to safety. He'd tried to rescue Mary, but there was nothing he could do.
John didn't remember a lot of details from the next few days. He knew Mike, his friend and business partner, took him and the boys in. He and his wife took care of Sam and Dean while John tried to figure things out. Somehow John found his way to Missouri Mosley, a legitimate psychic, who showed him what lay just beyond most people's reality. Destroyed and unable to grieve, all John had left was vengeance. He took his sons and left Lawrence, becoming part of a loose association of supernatural hunters who spent their lives destroying evil things.
He was afraid to let his sons live a normal life because everywhere John looked, he saw evil. He taught them how to defend themselves against all manner of beings, he taught them how to use weapons and somewhere along the way he taught them that he was a military leader first and a father second.
Dean didn't mind the way he and Sammy grew up. Being only four when she died, he didn't remember much about Mary, but his few memories were supplemented with John's stories. He liked the weapons and he liked learning how to fight, but what he liked best was having his father's approval. The more he trained, the closer he felt to John.
He didn't think about how different the Winchesters were from other families. He went to school as a child, but he never felt like he needed to make friends. He only needed his father and brother, but he also cared a lot about Pastor Jim and Caleb, two people who started out as John's contacts but became close family friends.
Sam was different. Where Dean did what their father instructed, unquestioningly, Sam always wanted to know why. He did what he had to; he participated in the hunts when required and always did his best to make sure his did his job well. Not doing it well could mean his dad or Dean would get hurt and Sam didn't want that to happen. As much as he and John fought, he never doubted John's love and no matter what, John was his dad. As for Dean? Sam would do anything for his brother.
But one day came when Sam had to do something for himself. He wasn't happy at home, he and John fought constantly and he knew something had to change. He managed to get accepted into Stanford University on a full scholarship due to his outstanding grades. He wanted John to be happy for him, but instead he got an ultimatum. If he left the family to go to college, he was never going to be able to come back. Dean wanted him to stay and was angry with John for letting the fight get so out of hand, but in the end, Dean had to let him go.
Sam didn't call Dean. At first it was out of defiance, then habit, and then he was afraid that Dean wouldn't talk to him. Dean didn't call Sam for the same reasons.
Sam was successful in school. Not only did he make good grades, he made friends and even fell in love. He had no idea how good life could feel until he met Jessica. She made him laugh, she made him think and she made him miss his family a little bit less. He didn't tell her the truth about the Winchesters because that was one of the rules they lived with; no one could know what they really did unless they were a part of it.
The only thing Sam knew about living a normal life was what he'd seen on television and in the homes of the few friends he'd had throughout his childhood. It was hard to make a connection with people when you lived in one place for only a few months. But Jessica changed all that. He spent time with her family and saw how regular people lived; from the inside. He was shy and awkward at first, but he grew comfortable with her parents and her extended family. He saw what he missed growing up and it hurt to think about it.
Sam and Jessica decided to live together in a house off campus and what he thought had been a perfect life before became even more so. He started thinking about marriage and wondered if they could really share a life forever. He had no idea what that was like; he'd never seen it, but somehow he wanted it.
One night in October and Sam came home with exciting news; he was being given consideration for a spot in the Stanford law school and an interview had been scheduled. Things couldn't get any better; he was probably going to get into his first choice program, Jessica loved him and he'd finally managed to put his past behind him. They celebrated at a Halloween party, an indulgence to Jessica because Sam hated the holiday. It reminded him too much of how he'd grown up, it made him miss his family and it could be downright dangerous. But Sam loved Jessica and no matter where they were, he was happy.
Sam woke up, having heard a noise downstairs. The instincts and training he'd gotten as a child kicked in as he made his way to the first floor. The intruder turned out to be his big brother. The same big brother he'd not spoken to since leaving for school. He didn't realize how much he'd missed Dean.
Unfortunately, Dean didn't come with good news. John had gone missing while working a job and Dean wanted Sam's help to find him. It was Friday; the law school interview was on Monday. Jessica wasn't happy about it, but having gotten a promise from Dean that he'd be back in time, Sam decided to go with his brother. The cover story the boys used their entire lives to explain John's sometimes long absences was that he was an alcoholic and that's exactly what he'd led Jessica to believe. She thought he'd gone off on a hunting trip and gotten drunk.
It could have been uncomfortable, but the brothers slipped back into their relationship easily. They stayed away from difficult subjects, but other than that it was like old times. Sadly, they didn't find John and came away with more questions than they started with. Dean was ready to follow up on the next clue, but Sam insisted on getting back for the interview. Disappointed but true to his word, Dean took him home. Sam walked away from the car with a vague promise to meet up in a few weeks.
He walked back into the house, feeling safe and secure. He was worried about his father, he wanted to reestablish the relationship with is brother, but most of all Sam wanted to be with Jessica. He heard the shower, saw the cookies on the table and made his way upstairs.
But then something happened that changed everything. All he knew was that somehow his beloved Jessica was pinned to the ceiling, bleeding, and burst into flames. He heard Dean screaming from the doorway, having no idea why his brother had come back. Sam tried to rescue Jessica, but there was nothing he could do and Dean pulled him from the burning building.
So the brothers were back together again. Sam was more invested in the hunt than ever because he wanted to find Jessica's killer. He was grieving, he was angry and he was dangerous. Dean couldn't help but be grateful that his brother was back in his life, but felt horrible about the reason why. He spent ten minutes, if that long, with Jessica but he knew anyone his brother loved must have been someone special and he wished he could have gotten to know her.
Over the next year, the brothers got to know each other again and repaired some of the damage that had been done during their separation. Still, so much went unsaid. While hunting and fighting supernatural beings, they spent time looking for their father and soon it became clear John didn't want to be found. Eventually, though, the family reunited. John found a way to kill the demon that had done so much damage to the Winchesters and discovered a pattern that would help them find it.
The final battle was brutal, long and there were physical repercussions. John was forced to use a cane but was lucky to be alive. He never intended to spend more than twenty years on his quest for revenge and when it was finally over, he felt empty. Sam and Dean both had injuries to deal with as well and the family stayed together, each one for their own reasons.
Dean didn't know who he was outside of the family. He never felt he needed anyone else and shunned the normal life Sam always tried to cling to. He figured he would always be a hunter, until some job was finally the end of him. But something happened to change his mind.
John and Dean had just finished a job in Tennessee and were winding their way to South Carolina. They planned to stay in the mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina but plans don't always come to fruition. On a back road, they were a few miles outside of Bruce Mountain when they came across a woman stranded on the side of the road, her car broken down. Her name was Julia Ryan and, as a way to thank John for getting her car started, she treated the Winchesters to dinner at a place she owned in the Asheville suburb. Her daughter, Kristine, was in college and also worked in the bar. Dean felt an immediate, but not necessarily sexual, connection to her. The same connection John felt to Julia.
As it turned out, the families had a lot in common. Julia's older daughter was killed by the same demon that took Mary, while Kristine was in the house. A couple of years later it came back for Julia, leaving Kristine's brother-in-law as her only living family. Dean kept in touch with Kristine, visiting her occasionally. She earned an advanced degree in psychology and, while she worked in a practice in Asheville, she also ran sort of a safe-house for wayward hunters and counseled those who needed it. When Sam had gotten to the point where he couldn't handle the guilt over Jessica's death, and the nightmares were driving him closer and closer to the edge, Dean took him to North Carolina. Kristine and Patrick, her brother-in-law, could help Sam in a way Dean never could.
Dean couldn't explain his feelings for Kristine; it never occurred to him that he might love her. He had no idea what that looked like, what it felt like. Kristine understood Dean's detachment from everything but his family. She understood it clinically and she understood it personally; she could never tell people how her sister, nephew and mother really died and that made her feel like she was separate from them.
After the final battle between the Winchesters and the demon, Dean got in touch with Kristine. He didn't ask her to, but she came to be with the family and to help them. Considering all she had lost, and everything the Winchesters did to kill what took it from her, she felt the least she could do was help them in their recovery. She also felt this was a pivotal time for her and Dean. She was right.
When John decided to settle in a small Oregon town and Sam went back to school in California, Dean wanted to be near them. Kristine agreed to move her practice; she worked with John to establish another safe-house and she provided counseling to the hunters who needed it.
Sam graduated from law school with honors and, though he was wooed by top firms all over the country, he decided to work for legal aid and stay in California. John was happy in his new role as researcher and advisor and enjoyed having his sons close by. And Dean, though he was broken by a lifetime of hiding his feelings and denying his own needs, was able to tell Kristine that he loved her. The family saw each other often and there were frequent phone calls. Dean had everything he never realized he wanted. Things were perfect. But perfect didn't last long in the Winchester's world.
Sam sat on John's porch, his brother in the chair next to him. Dean had been sitting on the porch for most of the afternoon; he hadn't spoken in hours. Sam and John took turns sitting with him, trying to get him to come out of his shell. It was a shell they both understood all too well.
This time the death wasn't caused by the demon. It wasn't even caused by a demon. It wasn't something Dean could hunt. It wasn't something Dean could fight. Kristine had flown to North Carolina to deal with some problems at the house that Patrick couldn't handle. After taking care of everything, she headed home. The flight from Asheville to Minneapolis was uneventful and Kristine talked to Dean during the one-hour layover, It was the last time Dean heard her voice. There was a problem with the landing gear and the plane crashed while the pilot attempted an emergency landing in Portland, Oregon.
He was surprised by the sound of his older brother's voice.
"Do you think she's with Mom and Jess?"
"Yeah, I do."
"You know, I really thought there would be a happy ending this time, but I guess there's no such thing as a happy ending for the Winchesters."
Sam didn't know what to say so he moved to his brother's side and stood quietly.