Title: Whatever Happened to the Heroes?
Rating: PG-13
Warnings/Spoilers: Up to and including No Exit (to be on the safe side)
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or the universe they live in.
Summary: John kept plenty of important information in his journal.
A/N: This was written before the end of season two.

Sam keeps his Dad's journal in a wicker box in the closet. The journal is at the bottom, under a handful of mementos of his life.

For twenty-two years this little book held the keys to the world of the supernatural, twenty-two years worth of research and patterns. The journal is retired now. Most of the information is old and what is still useful has been transferred to other journals and books. The journal really only has one purpose these days.

In the back of the journal, John had started to keep a list of those that had died in the line of duty since 1985. Men and women who'd been taken down by the evil they haunted.

The early names Sam doesn't know, except when Dad talked about them in those rare moments of reminiscing. Pete. Wayne. Billy. Sam remembered visiting Charlie's cabin and eating canned fish, Zechariah who was obsessed with Fae and had ended up with them in the end and Marie Kesker who had been Dean's age in 1999 when a werewolf took her face.

After Jessica, Sam had come back to find more names added to the list in his absence. Leslie Coombs. Torry Eaton. Ryan McCullough. Andy White who'd come home after a basic poltergeist exorcism to kill his wife and three kids.

"Dad thinks he got possessed," Dean had said and Sam had nodded silently. A warning that you could not have both the hunt and a real life.

2006 had been a bad year, four deaths, starting with Elkins. Then there was Pastor Jim, who Sam had remembered fondly because he took Sam in for a summer and showed him what normal could be. And there was Caleb, who'd always treated Sam like a pest but who had liked Dean well enough. And, of course, their father, killed by the demon he had spent half his life trying to track down.

The names kept coming. Gwen, the cat bugler who had taught the Winchesters everything they ever needed to know about lock picking, safe cracking and disarming alarms. Riley, the ex-solider who never really left the army. Jack, who just disappeared one day. And Patience, who had never been patience or very bright and was bound to come to a bad end.

The names went on. Names that Sam recognized. Names that Sam didn't. Names of friends. Names of strangers. Names of those he'd been with at the end. Names he got from Dean over the phone. Sam added all of them to the list.

This is what happens to the heroes. They end up as names in the back of an old journal.

One day, Ellen calls. And Sam knows before he picks up the phone. He goes to the Roadhouse, a place he hasn't been in almost a decade since Jo took his place as Dean's partner in crime. He and Ellen don't talk much. Jo's alive but she may never wake up. Dean's out back, waiting on the funeral pyre.

After the fire has burned out and the ashes have been shattered, Sam puts down a chair and sits at a table. Sunlight filters through the bar's dark windows. He opens the journal to the last page and adds one more name.