Notes: We resume our regularly scheduled programming after this, which is the end. If for some insane reason you liked this world, then check out the other 'Angelface' stories or hold your breath for the first chapter of Shrapnel which should be up this time next week.
I hate to beg, but please review if you liked it.
John Winchester was only forty-nine years old when he died. He didn't go quietly in his sleep. It wasn't illness or a previously unknown heart condition. He died in a shoot-out that made the evening news on more than one channel in a nationwide broadcast. Within hours of being pronounced dead the details were leaked to the internet, including the placement and calibre of each bullet that had torn through his body.
John had known he was going to die hours before it had happened, hours before he had sat in the front seat of his truck with a pistol in his hand and a loaded shotgun sitting on the seat beside him. He was prepared for his end. He knew where he was going. And he knew there would be plenty of familiar faces to greet him.
The good news, he thought to himself in his last moments, bleeding out from a dozen places as paramedics lifted him onto a gurney, was that sooner or later he would see his sons again.
Hell never intended to keep you there forever.
John was bone weary but thankful that he had his boys back. He sat on the edge of a motel bed, his boots undone but not yet removed from his feet. Dean looked equally as exhausted, and Sam was almost dead on his feet. Both boys sat on the other bed in front of the TV, watching the newscast about their daring escape.
"... two young men that were apprehended were actually known killers and serial murderers Sam and Dean Winchester, the sons of the notorious Black Truck Killer. It has been confirmed that the Black Truck Killer, ex-military man John Winchester, is responsible for the deaths of at least twenty men and women nationwide. His sons already appear to be following in his footsteps with a confirmed death toll of five people between the two of them over the past four years."
Here Sam and Dean high-fived, though John noticed their enthusiasm was sapped by the earlier events of the day.
"More like ten," Dean said with a weary grin. "Not that those dicks are smart enough to figure it out."
"Shut up," Sam replied, bumping shoulders with his brother, "you're missing it."
The TV screen displayed their photos, mug shots released to the media to hopefully aid their capture. The photos of the boys were recent, and for a moment John looked at them from an outsider's perspective and saw two handsome, carefree youths; One sweet and shy, the other bold and charming. Together they looked like the classic stereotyped narcissistic sociopaths, beautiful boys who lured people in with charm but didn't give a damn about anyone but themselves.
By contrast John's photo was years old. He was glowering at the camera, an intimidating figure in black and white with angry eyes and an intense stare. He looked like the hard military disciplinarian that they painted him as. A man who no doubt abused his children and brainwashed them from an early age into following his path.
John looked at his boys. He had done what he'd thought was right. He had taken the path of family first and screw all obstacles. He'd embraced Sam's powers, his uniqueness, and taught Dean how to kill and cover his tracks so he could look after his little brother.
John had moulded them into what they were today.
Killers, yes. Unrepentant. But they were loyal, they were survivors. He had armed them against the unique dangers that they faced.
There was more work to do yet.
John stood and walked in his loose, untied boots across the room. With a flick of a switch he turned the TV off. "That's enough," he told his sons. "You're both exhausted."
"Are you sending us to bed, dad?" Sam asked, grinning at him despite the dark rings under his eyes and the way weariness made his lanky body just a little unsteady.
"Can we have a glass of milk and a story?" Dean added, though he was already stripping down to his t-shirt and boxers.
"Go to bed, boys," John said, turning off the lights. He stowed his boots neatly at the foot of the bed, folded his clothing and left it within reach. John could hear his sons fumbling around in the dark for a minute, then the sound of covers being pulled back and the squeak of old bed springs.
His boys had been in a police holding cell for five hours before he had come to get them out. John resolved not to let that happen again.
"Dude, your knee is in my back again."
"So move your back. This is comfortable."
"If you don't move I'm going to smother you with my pillow."
The bed springs creaked. "God, you're such a whiny little bitch sometimes."
"Fuck you, Dean."
"No. Fuck you, Sammy. You kick. It's like my shins are being trampled by freaking Godzilla."
"Boys," the warning was a sleepy bass growl, "go to sleep."
The car was filled with silence. A steeping, heavy sort of quiet that kept the radio muted and the sound of the rattling windows loud. They were on the road back to the Cabin to mourn, with John's bones buried deep in the trunk.
"It was stupid," Dean said for the second time in as many days. He spoke to the wheel, and not the figure hunched in the passenger seat. "We were stupid."
"We were arrogant," Sam responded quietly, facing the window.
The black beauty rattled around a final corner and the Cabin came into view. They unpacked in silence, and Sam let Dean take the room that still had its door. He knew that Dean preferred the illusion of privacy when he was upset. John's bones - his journal, his leather gloves, and his razor - were laid out on the old couch. His body would be buried in a convicts grave, marked only by a number. A pine coffin issued by the state would house his frame as it decayed.
Sam sat at the tiny kitchen table and let his mind dwell on morbid thoughts.
Dean emerged from the closed bedroom several hours later. Aside from the red that rimmed his eyes he showed no sign of having cried, but Sam knew anyway. They took their father's gloves out into the backyard and buried them, the site left unmarked.
"'I'm going to Hell'," Dean read from John's journal later that evening, "'to burn in the eternal fires for as long as it takes to make me one of them. I've made my bed and I will lie in it.' Second-last entry, right after a photo of us as kids."
"What's the last entry?" Sam asked, even though he was pretty sure he knew the answer.
Dean flicked the page. "'Don't do anything stupid. Family first.' Shit. As if we needed the reminder."
Sam watched the way Dean's fingers caressed the paper under his hands and knew without any uncertainty what his brother was feeling. He was feeling it too. "We're all that's left now," Sam pointed out. "Dad's dead and we're officially wanted serial murderers. Hunters and demons are still going to be chasing us."
"So what the fuck do we do?" Dean asked. He closed the journal. "We stick it out, we fuck around and have fun. Life's just a waiting period before death, right?"
"And we're going to Hell anyway."
"So why not damnwell enjoy the ride?" Dean set the journal down on the couch beside him and stretched his legs out in front of him. "We'll take a week here, then we'll pull out the maps. You've got a week to figure out where you want to go, baby brother."
John could feel his life start slipping away as he fell to his knees on the pavement. His gun was empty of rounds, he had holes in him from standard police-issue bullets. It was hard to breathe. His body rebelled, trying to cough with a collapsed lung. The fact that he had managed to shoot at least three of the cops was no consolation.
He couldn't help but think that the old saying about a person's life flashing before their eyes was untrue. John didn't see his whole life. He was just remembering one moment, one defining moment back in the past.
John remembered sitting up late at night when both Sam and Dean were asleep, after he had finally gotten his hands on enough information to know what Sam would grow up to be. The boy was only four years old and just two months ago John had shot a hunter who had wanted to kill him. John held the gun in his hands, he felt the weight of it and the world on his shoulders.
He looked at his son, sleeping tucked up tight in the single bed by the wall, his tiny hands curled up by his head. Screw it, he thought, and tucked the gun away under his pillow where it belonged. Screw the world. Fuck them all, he was never going to give up his son.
John lay on the pavement for twenty minutes, surrounded by men in uniforms. By the time the ambulance arrived he knew there would be no way to save him. His last words were a laugh. Then he slipped away into darkness.
"Johnny-boy," the voice that greeted him was familiar; the visage the demon presented itself in a mirror of his own. "It's so good to see you again."
John braced himself for the pain.