So this was actually the second fic that I wrote. The title for the story comes from Queen's song 'We are the Champions'. The mood of that song doesn't match the mood in this story though because, again, it's pretty angsty.
"Do not brood over your past mistakes and failures as this will only fill your mind with grief, regret and depression." -- Swami Sivananda
Sam has made a lot of stupid mistakes in his life. He remembers them all well, and thinks about them often, especially lately. It isn't healthy, but he does it anyway: Dean isn't the only martyr in the family. Dean isn't the only one who judges himself 24/7, not the only one who can't let go. Sam is pretty sure that their Dad was that way too, actually, he knows their Dad was that way too. Because if the great John Winchester could let dead dogs lie (not that Sam is calling his dead mother a dog. Wrong expression, he thinks. Another mistake), then Sam's memory of his twelfth birthday wouldn't have been him and Dean being quizzed on different types of guns. It would have been something more normal, more conventional, like Sam blowing out candles on a football-shaped cake, surrounded by friends – lots of friends at that, because they wouldn't have moved around so much. They would have stayed in Lawrence, Kansas. On second thought, Sam thinks that his cake would probably not had been shaped like a football – maybe a book. Yeah, a book. But as it turns out, the whole Winchester clan are martyrs.
Sam wants to remember all of his mistakes, wants to feel the pain that the memory of these mistakes brings to him, because at least then he knows that he is still human. Because humans feel regret and humans feel pain. Humans realise when they make mistakes. Demons don't. And Sam needs to cling on to every aspect of humanity that he's got because, unlike what he tells Dean, Sam knows that he is changing and that he is slowly but surely going dark-side.
Some of Sam's mistakes haven't been all that bad. There was the time when he was four and Dean asked him to help him with his art project, and all Sam had to do was paint the grass that Dean's stick mad was standing on green, but there was no green paint, so Dean told him to make green out of the colours that they already had, and then he bounded off to the kitchen to get some snacks. But Sam didn't know how to make green out of yellow, blue and red, so he guessed: and he guessed wrong. When Dean came back, Sam was hiding behind the sofa because Dean's stick man was standing on brown grass, not green. But then Dean said that it was ok, he could just tell his teacher that he had painted the grass brown because it had been burned by the sun, and Sam didn't really understand how grass could ever be anything but green (he knows how now though. He also knows that the grass is usually greener on the other side. The non-demon hunting side), but he didn't really care because all that mattered was that Dean wasn't mad at him, even though he'd made a mistake.
But some (most) of Sam's mistakes are bad; horrible, even. Like the time when he told an angry Mrs. Simmons that he was 15 minutes late to class because he had had to stay at home to stitch up his dad and older brother. I had to make sure that they wouldn't bleed out, he had said, or something to that effect; and present-day Sam cannot believe that his twelve year old self actually told an Art teacher who lived in a white picket-fence house, and who grew tomatoes in her backyard, something like that. That was one of Sam's earliest grave mistakes, because for two weeks Child Protection Service kept on showing up on their doorstep, and for two weeks Dean wouldn't speak to him.
Stanford. After days (and nights) of deliberation, Sam has reached the conclusion that that, too, was a mistake, because nothing good came out of it. Jess died. He betrayed Dean, betrayed Dad. He got a taste of normal life, sure, but then it got snatched (burned) away. And Sam knows that he should be happy and should be thankful for his memories of a normal life, because he does have some – four years of them in fact. He used to tell this to Dean every time that Dean would ask him about Stanford, whether he missed it, whether he would want to go back. Sam always used to say: at least I have the memories, but he knows that Dean hasn't believed that lie since his day with the Djinn. Because since then, Dean, like Sam, has come to realise that a shitty life only appears that much shittier when it's put under the microscope, to be compared with a happy life: a normal life. You can't miss what you never had. Sam can't draw any comfort out of his time in Stanford, even though he tries, God knows he tries, because thinking about how happy he was then, and how unhappy he is now, just makes him want to scream. Or worse.
Sam knows that you're supposed to learn from your mistakes. His Dad told him and Dean that, time and time again. When Sam was thirteen, he got thrown into a tree by some crazed spirit or another and his shoulder popped out of its socket. His Dad reset the limb, then said: I will allow you this one screw-up Sam, but the next time that you make the mistake of taking your eyes off the hunt I won't be helping you reset your arm. Got it? Learn from your mistakes Sam. That's the best advice you'll ever get. And Sam didn't agree with his Dad, he didn't think that was the best advice he would ever get, because he was beyond pissed off at his Dad at that moment, because his father had the nerve to lecture him about having taken his eyes off the hunt, as if Sam had been slacking off, when in actual fact Sam had just lost focus because of the crack that resounded when Dean's head made friends with the gravestone of a certain Mark Crawford. Sorry Sir John. And when Sam got angry at his Dad, he always ignored what the latter had to say, out of defiance. He regrets that mistake now, because he's pretty sure that his failure to listen to John Winchester, to take the 'learn from your mistakes' lessons, onboard, is why things got so screwed up. Because just a few months after having finally rejoined his brother after four years, Sam turns his back on Dean for a second time and walks away. Despite the fact that he should by then have come to realise that leaving Dean is always, always, a mistake. Then Dean nearly gets killed by a fucking scarecrow, of all things, and Sam meets Meg and then their Dad dies. Mistake after mistake after mistake, and Sam never learns. There are a few details missing in that timeline of events, but Sam doesn't think they are that important. In a nutshell, his mistakes got his Dad killed. The end.
But all those mistakes pale in comparison with Sam's ridiculous mistake of getting himself killed, just a few metres away from his brother. Sam cannot believe that he, a trained hunter, got himself killed in some fucking cowboy town. He can't believe that he didn't hold on when Dean told him too, because he should have known that his idiot of a brother would go and sell his soul for him. For a second, Sam stops and thinks that him dying wasn't exactly a mistake, but he has decided to ride the guilt express the whole way now and the thought is quickly pushed aside. Sam's mistake of dying instead of holding on and letting Dean fix him up, led to Dean selling his soul, which led to Dean going to hell, which led to Sam having to fend for himself, which led to him drinking demon blood, and which will eventually lead to Dean having to kill his little brother. Sam doesn't think that anyone has ever made that grave of a mistake.
Sam is jolted out of his thoughts when he hears a key turning in the lock. He figures that it's Dean coming back from whatever bar he stormed off to a while ago, and so Sam puts down the gun he's been holding pressed up against his temple for the past half hour, and begins polishing it instead. He doesn't want Dean to see him with a gun to his head. Sam may be snacking on demon blood at regular intervals, but he still could never bring himself to hurt Dean, so polishing is his cover-up. So he sits on the bed and polishes the gun he's been contemplating killing himself with, whilst Dean fumbles with the key, trying to get in, and Sam isn't polishing the gun properly, because he is using the bedspread instead of one of the pieces of cloth that are stored away in the trunk of Impala specifically for gun-cleaning purposes. His Dad would have kicked his ass for polishing a gun with a bedspread, if Sam's impressive list of mistakes hadn't gotten his Dad killed. Sam doesn't think Dean will notice though, because Dean doesn't pay all that much attention to Sam anymore. At least he tries not to. And Sam is right: Dean doesn't notice because Dean stumbles into the motel-room drunk and sits down on his bed almost immediately, mumbles a half-hearted 'yo' and raises his eyebrows at Sam, and Sam thinks he's doing it out of disdain, because Dean usually reserves that look for things that are evil and that kill. Things Sam doesn't particularly want to be associated with. But Dean is actually thinking: why is Sam polishing that gun again, it's the fourth time this week. And even though Dean feels slightly (very) worried about the fact that Sam is spending a heck of a lot of time groping guns, he doesn't ask his brother about it, because he figures that having a really clean gun is somehow part of Sam's master plan to kill Lilith, a master plan that he isn't allowed in on because Sam thinks that he is weak. So Sam continues to put a gun to his head when Dean goes out, until he finally realises that it really is a mistake to go on living and that he doesn't want to keep on making mistake after mistake, and he pulls the trigger.
Pleasepleaseplease review! Also, thanks to those who have reviewed my other fics!