Disclaimers: I own nothing, absolutely nothing, related to Supernatural. It's totally Eric Kripke playground.

Where There Was Once Joy

By: Vanessa Sgroi

May 2, 1983

John Winchester stared lovingly down at his beloved wife, Mary, taking in her tired features, pale face, and tangled blonde hair. Despite her visible exhaustion from just giving birth a few short hours ago, she had a brilliant and ever-so-pleased smile on her face. "The nurse should be bringing him in any minute, honey. Do you need anything?"

"Mmm. Maybe just a sip of water."

John filled a little plastic cup with ice water and handed it to Mary. He carded his fingers through her hair as she drank then accepted the cup back, quickly discarding it on the bedside table.

They both looked over when the hospital room door swished open, admitting a sturdy, dark-haired nurse whose arms were laden with fluffy blue baby blanket swaddling their squirming new bundle of joy. She handed him over to Mary's waiting arms.

"My oh my, Mrs. Winchester, you certainly have a little bruiser here. He just weighed in at 12 lbs. 9 oz. I do believe he may just grow up to be a linebacker some day."

Mary grinned and rolled her eyes slightly, hugging the baby close to her chest. "Tell me about it. I swear my little guy here spent the last three months practicing for his first football game—all elbows and feet. He tumbled around so much; I think he was already tackling opponents."

The nurse laughed and shook her head. "Well, he certainly is a beautiful baby boy. Now you just call us if you need anything. I'll leave you two to say a proper hello to your new son."

Once the nurse left, Mary locked her gaze on the baby and let out a contented sigh. She ruffled the infant's copious dark hair that stood straight up all over his tiny head. After a moment, she said, "John, we got our little Sammy. Samuel Winchester."

"So, unlike when Dean was born, this little guy looks like a Samuel, huh?" He ran his index finger down the baby's plump cheek and laughed when the little guy scrunched up his nose. "Don't know how you can tell under all that hair," he teased.

Mary harrumphed and stuck her tongue out at him. "Yes. He looks exactly as I think a Samuel should look."

"You're not disappointed that it wasn't a girl this time around?"

"Oh, no. I think I knew all along it was going to be a boy. I've been secretly calling him Sammy since I learned I was pregnant again."

"What about a middle name? Did you have something in mind?"

"Not yet." Mary jiggled the infant in her arms and cooed softly to him. "I figured something would jump out at me when I saw him. Did you have something in mind, John?"

John eased down on the edge of the mattress. "Hmmm. How about Alastair?"

Out of the blue, Mary felt a shiver travel down her spine. "God, no. Ick. Where in the world did you come up with that?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. I was just teasing, sweetheart."

"Let's give it some more thought; we have a day or so before they have to fill out the birth certificate."

John nodded as he watched his second son's Cupid's bow mouth mimic a sucking motion while his eyelids drooped closed.

The new mother laid her head back against the pillow, yawning wearily. "Dean is going to be so excited when we bring his baby brother home, isn't he?"

"Are you kidding? I talked with Mrs. Carson while they were getting you settled. She says Dean's already hauled his sleeping bag into the nursery and has made a bed right next to the crib. He's been talking non-stop about all the fun they're gonna have when the baby comes home in a couple of days."

Mary's own eyelids began to droop but she giggled. "He told me he was going to be his baby's guardian angel. I told him he was awfully small for such a big job."

"Here, honey, let me put him in the bassinet and you can get him some sleep, okay?"

The blonde nodded and felt Sammy's weight disappear from her arms. She felt a twinge of regret as she slipped over the edge and sank into sleep.

Instead of putting the baby down in the bassinet, John scooted up on the bed and stretch out so he was half reclined next to his sleeping wife. He sat like that for a long while, humming and talking to his new son, promising him every good thing in the world, stopping only when Sammy woke, decided he was starving, and started to wail.

(SN) (SN) (SN)

May 2, 2009

Dean stopped in front of the salt-soaked iron door of Bobby Singer's panic room. His hand reached up but stopped short of opening the door's small eye window. Instead, he rested his hand flat next to it, palm pressing hard into the iron.

His baby brother was inside that room. A prisoner. Trapped within the protective walls by Dean's own machinations. And it felt all kinds of wrong even if the older Winchester sincerely thought he was doing it for Sam's own good.

It was Sam's birthday. His 26th birthday. Dean still remembered the absolute joy that filled his heart when John and Mary brought Sammy—the world's bestest baby brother—home that long ago day. Dean's hand curled into a fist as he sank to his knees. Tears filled his verdant eyes and trembled on his lashes before breaking free and trailing down his cheeks. A lead weight settled in his chest, making it hard to breathe. He twisted around until he was sitting on the floor, his back resting against the door. He drew his knees upward, locked his arms around them and rested his forehead on top.

Oh, God, Sammy. I'm so sorry. I failed. I'm sorry…I'm sorry…i'm sorryi'msorryi'msorryi'msorryi'msorryi'msorryi'msorry…

His sobs were as silent as Sam's had been loud just minutes earlier.