Disclaimer: I read somewhere these are useless from a legal standpoint, but I'm putting one anyway: I don't own these characters or the show Supernatural, but I'm glad Eric Kripke and the WB are nice enough to let me play with them.
Warnings: Cursing, references to torture.
A/N: My first fanfiction ever! Not Beta'd, but I attempted to thoroughly proofread it myself, if that counts for anything. Written in response to the finale, because I am a sucker for underused characters (Adam) and maligned characters (John). All reviews are welcome!
Castiel is kind.
Adam is understandably wary of anything with wings after the disastrophe that was The Michael Thing. Being brought back to life just so you can be tortured and used as a meat puppet (with a side of falling into Hell with Satan) would probably rock the faith of the most devout priest, let alone a kid like Adam, who barely had time to decide what he believed before the afterlife greeted him personally. Michael was cold fire, burning with one love only. His Father alone was subject to his warmth; all others froze in his indifference. Adam was no exception. He was a thing to the archangel, undeserving of even a capital T, an obstacle to be overcome. And even though Adam was on board with the plan at the beginning, by the time Zachariah was finished screwing the pooch, Adam had stuck himself in the other camp out of sheer spite. Before he knew it, Michael had yet another stubborn, arrogant Winchester on his plate. But Adam was no Dean. He did not have a lifetime of training to fall back on, no years of painful experiences to toughen his resolve and strengthen his youthful rebellion to an ironclad defiance… no training on how to resist torture. He had only a single moment, where the brothers he never knew defied heaven itself to save his life, for no other reason than their shared blood.
It was not enough. Michael wanted an answer, and he got it; wept bitterly from the mouth of a broken boy, over and over again as though it was the only word ever invented.
His memory is dark after that. The Archangel took his shattered spirit, folded it up and tucked it away in a small, secluded corner of his mind to sleep. Probably as an apology for what came before. It was not enough.
Then there was isolation and agony in a pit of screaming souls, and all Adam can do is cry out "What did I do!" Because he had to have done something. Because you do not end up in Hell unless you do something to deserve it. That's the way it is: the way it HAS to be, for the world to make any fucking sense, and all he wanted was to know his crime. He asked Michael before the Archangel left him to do battle with Lucifer, but he did not answer. He asked the demons who dissected him, but they didn't care what he did or didn't do. He asked the brother who hung next to him, but all Sam did was look at him with sad eyes overflowing with regret, because Sam didn't know either.
But then, there was light and a gentle heat, washing over him like a warm ocean wave. He found himself wrapped in the arms of the angel in the trench coat that he only vaguely remembered from before, and he struggled to get away because the demons thought they were expert tormentors only because they had never suffered at the hands of an angel. But the angel—Castiel, Adam remembers—just gripped him tighter. "I will not hurt you, Adam. Nor will anything else, ever again. Your suffering is at an end."
He'll believe it when he sees it. And it's kind of impossible to 'see' something like that, so he'll probably never believe it. Not really.
But Castiel handles him like precious cargo and when they land, they are at the playground, and Adam's eyes are suddenly teary, and wasn't there something in the Bible about wiping away tears or something? Is it against the rules to cry in Heaven? "I believe you were promised something in return for your… consent." Castiel pronounces it like a dirty word, and Adam would be happy if he never heard it again. "I would like to fulfill that promise. In fact, in light of what has taken place, I would like to do more than that."
Adam isn't sure what the angel means. He is even less sure when a strange-looking, mullet-wearing man waltzes into his playground from parts unknown and greets them like an old friend. Apparently, Mullet Man knew his brothers, and Castiel has brought him in to teach Adam a Heavenly Cheat Code. Level Select, to be precise: he can leave his own little slice of Paradise whenever he wants, and go experience others. Hang with the greatest minds in history, relive the wildest parties, and experience history as it happened through the eyes of those who lived it. It's kind of kick-ass, and he appreciates it, he really does, but there's only one person in Paradise that he wants to see right now. Or so he thinks, until he starts to draw the funky looking sigils on the door to a porta-potty. Suddenly, all his longing turns to anger and with violent, forceful strokes, he changes the sigils' destination and opens the door to a crowded baseball stadium.
He knows exactly which row to look on. Dad—John—couldn't exactly afford front row seats. He finds him there, exactly as he remembers him… sitting next to himself. Err, Adam's self, that is, and Adam is so taken aback that he is a part of Dad's—John's—Heaven that his anger kind of stalls and stutters for a second. But he's got a lot of anger saved up and nothing to do with it, so with a pinched face and an embarrassing crack in his voice, he starts to speak. Except, he should have put more forethought into this because he can't figure out what exactly he wants to say to the man. "Use a condom!" is what eventually comes out, which is just about the stupidest thing he could have said. Really. John Winchester isn't exactly in a position to make more accidental babies.
The intrusion is enough to snap John out of his memories. The man suddenly looks much older, much more haggard and beaten than Adam ever remembers him. Dark, haunted eyes look back and forth between Memory-Him and Actual-Him before they finally rise to meet his son's. "Adam?" John asks. Adam's word processor has shut down again, so he just nods. "Are you… did you…" John's processor is apparently having trouble, too, but Adam gets the gist. He nods again. "Oh, God," John says as he shakes his head and looks at the ground, his voice utterly defeated and the game forgotten. "How?" he asks, not looking up.
Adam looks out to the field where the game is still happening. He remembers this. John caught a foul ball for him. Nearly killed some poor bastard to do it, but hey, it was the thought that counted, right? "Does it matter?" he asks, his anger deflating into simple bitterness. "It found me."
"What?" John says, sounding horrified, and for reasons unknown to him, he decides that John does not need to re-live Adam's horrific death any more than Adam does.
"Your life. Your… blood, your whatever you thought you were hiding me from. Found me anyway."
John sinks his head into his hands, overwhelmed. Adam can practically feel the waves of grief coming off the man he is standing beside, but he shrugs them off and steels himself against them. He does not care. He cannot care, he is not supposed to care about the man who brought all of this upon him, simply by allowing him to be born. "Adam," John begins. "Son, I am so…"
"Don't you say that to me," Adam seethes, even as his own grief pushes against the back of his face like an old dam, threatening to break through and drown him at any moment. "You made a mistake twenty years ago, and I paid for it. Me and my Mom both paid for it with our lives, and for me, maybe even a little more! So yeah, sure, you took me to a couple games, took me on a fishing trip, but do you really think that's enough?" His fury is back in full force and the pressure of all these emotions building up inside his head forces a few tears out (damn, he broke the rules again). "You don't get to call yourself my father because you forgot to put on a freaking condom one night, you don't…"
"Stop," John suddenly growls, and stands up to his full height. He's about dead even with Adam in that department, but somehow he still towers over his son. His grief is tinted with an anger blacker than the inside of a coffin and every muscle is a loaded gun, ready to fire. Suddenly, Adam is not looking at the John Winchester he knew. He is looking at the John Winchester of Sam and Dean, the hunter of legend, the monster that monsters checked their closets for. "You lay into me all you want," he says, taking a step towards Adam. "Call me a bastard, a useless, deadbeat pile of dog shit, whatever you please, but don't you ever, ever let me hear you call yourself a mistake again. You hear me?"
"What?" Adam's brain shorts out again. This isn't the direction he expected things to take.
"Son, I have a list of regrets ten miles long. And not spending more time with you when I had the chance is pretty fuckin' high up. But not for the world would I have dragged you into that life. Not when you had your mom to keep you stable and safe." He breaks eye contact to look out towards the field, but somehow, Adam knows he isn't seeing the Twins score their third run this inning. "Sam and Dean… god, they were screwed from day one. The best I could do with them was try to raise them like soldiers, try to prepare them for the shit storm their life was gonna become. A demon killed their mother, Adam, but I killed their childhood. That was all me. The second I found out about you, my fucking heart stopped because I was so goddamn sure I was gonna have to do it to you too. When I got there and saw you and your mom safe, happy, together… it was all I could do not to drive away and never look back. I thought I could save you. I honest-to-God thought you had a chance to have safety. Normalcy. Happiness." John finally looks back at him. "Don't think I didn't want you. Don't you dare think that. If I had smelled even a hint of trouble brewing around you, I'd have plucked you and your mother up out of that town and taken you with me in a heartbeat. There were times I wanted to do it anyway… but there was no way, not when you had Kate. I wasn't gonna throw you into a life of monsters and darkness and death, not while there was a chance you could avoid it. It's no life for a kid, Adam. It's no life for anyone." John's face starts to break, and Adam seriously hopes he can hold it together, because if John goes, Adam's going right behind him. "It hurt, like Hell, every single time I had to walk away from you. But I'd do it all again in a heartbeat, if I thought it'd keep you safe. I should've told Sam and Dean about you, told them to keep an eye on you. I should've set up a system, made another deal to keep evil away from you. But don't tell me I should've done to you what I did to Sam and Dean, and don't you dare tell me I should have worn a fuckin' condom. I have made a hundred thousand mistakes in my life, but you are not one of them, do you hear me?"
"Yes, sir," he answers, and his anger is gone, because there is no point to it any more. The crowd moves like they are cheering wildly, but there is no sound besides him and John standing around and trying to be manly men and not burst into tears. They are silent for a few seconds.
John is the first to break it. "Was it… was it bad, son?"
Adam closes his eyes and nods. "Real bad."
John looks like he has been gutted.
"I fought," Adam says before he can even think about it. "I fought as hard as I could. Didn't stop until it was… over."
John nods, and his voice is hoarse, barely a whisper. "That's my boy." And Adam can't take it anymore. He steps forward and John—his Dad—wraps him in a hug so fierce; he doubts anything could break it. Fucking Michael himself could rocket up to heaven with a crowbar in hand, and he would not take John Winchester's son from his arms. Adam hugs him back as much as he can.
"It hurt," Adam says, unbidden. He doesn't know if he is talking about his First or Second Death. Maybe he'll tell his Dad about them. One day…
"Shhhh," his Dad pats him on the back. "It's over, son. It's all over now."
They watch the rest of the game together. Memory-Him has the courtesy to disappear, so Adam takes his seat. Somehow, the game is just as exciting even when he knows how it will end, and he laughs like a lunatic at the sight of John Winchester, mighty hunter, bulldozing through a crowd of people to catch the only foul ball that will come near them this game. His smile turns wistful as the ball is given to him. "I gotta go," he says, turning the ball over in his hands. "Someone else I need to see."
His Dad just nods and squeezes his shoulder. "You know how to find me. Neat trick, by the way. Stop by any time you want, son. I'll be here."
Adam is really, really glad he came. As he walks towards the door, the crowd seems to shift and change in their seats. Their clothes are suddenly vintage, and the team is one Adam has never heard of. He looks back down to where his father was and sees a young couple; a man with black hair and a woman with beautiful, blonde locks. She is laughing hysterically as he tries to force feed a ketchup-smothered hotdog to her and it only gets louder when she twists his hand and forces him to dump it on his lap. He isn't sure how he knows it, but Adam understands who he is looking at, and he can't stop grinning as he draws the sigil on a concession stand door.
He steps, at last, into a darkened house. It is late night, or very early morning, and the only light in the house is coming from the living room TV, playing at low volume. Adam finds himself dressed in fire truck pajamas, and he knows exactly where this is going. He can't even bring himself to care when he starts crying. He walks into the living room and there she is, sprawled out on the couch, looking as exhausted and beautiful as she always did, still dressed in her scrubs, because she was just too tired to remove them. "Mom?" he croaks, and her glassy-eyed stare suddenly comes to life, warm fire lighting behind her eyes.
"Aw, honey. What's wrong?" she coos. "Did you have a bad dream?"
Adam's breath hitches. Boy, did I ever. "Uh-huh," he nods.
"Oh, baby, come here," she says, and Adam runs, falling to his knees and hugging her like his life depends on it. "Want to watch some TV with momma?" Adam nods, because his voice is done. He climbs up on the couch and props himself against her, laying curled into her side as she gently scratches his head. An old rerun of Sanford and Son is playing on the television, but Adam doesn't really pay attention to it. All he can do is bask in the feeling of the fingers gently threading his hair, as every horror he's ever experienced evaporates into mist and floats away like it never existed at all. Perhaps he will strike out and explore the other Heavens one day. There is a lot to see. For today, Heaven can wait. And so Adam Milligan closes his eyes, and finally, finally, he feels safe.
This is enough.