Disclaimer: I don't own any recognizable characters

A/N: This is my second story for the summer_sam_love comm on LiveJournal. I want to thank Faye Dartmouth for stepping in again and betaing this story for me. Since the celebration this year revolves around choosing an episode, this story deals with 5x21 Two Minutes To Midnight.

On to the story...

Stepping Up To The Plate

Saving people was the Winchester family business—a business which Sam struggled with his entire life. But now, with the threat of the end of the world and Lucifer looming over the entire planet, Sam felt that doing the family business was something worth doing because it was inherently good and pure unlike the demon blood flowing in his veins. If he did something heroic, something that Dean would do, maybe things would get better for him, just maybe. Sam didn't think that he would get salvation, but at the very least, saving people would counterbalance all the destruction he caused.

Periodically, as Sam shot demons and sent people towards Bobby and safety, he would get a glimpse of Bobby. Bobby looked stunned, as if it were the first time he had really seen Sam stepping into the role of hunter and taking charge. After all, this was the one role that in the past was solely his dad's and Dean's domain, the one role he'd fought against for so long, but now it was a role Sam was ready to embrace.

At first, the role wasn't the most comfortable fit for Sam, after all, he was the one who caused this mess, but as he kept on rushing head on into the warehouse shooting demons and rescuing innocents, the fit slowly shifted and became more comfortable. Being a leader and taking charge was something Sam was born to do. Despite what Lucifer, Azazel, and Ruby had wanted from him, Sam had always wanted to believe that he had the choice to direct his energies into doing something good.

But you let Lucifer out of his cage, a voice sounding suspiciously like Ruby's brushed at his thoughts. Dean's voice joined Ruby's whispering over and over, it's what you did that made you a monster. Yes, Sam knew what he had done and he would do everything to fix that deadly mistake—one that had led him away from what he cherished the most: family.

Somehow, Sam would find his way back to his family, back to the legacy his father and Dean worked so hard to establish. And if that meant saving these people, then Sam would save each and every one of them.

As he scanned the warehouse for more demons and innocents in need of rescuing, his dad's voice deep with pride echoed in Sam's mind, "You go, son. I'm proud of you." As Sam found more frightened employees and herded them back to Bobby and freedom, he could have sworn he heard Dean's voice proudly exclaim, "That's my boy!"

As a boy, Sam would look at his dad and brother and be in awe of them. He admired how they saved people that and he wished that he could be just like them when he grew up. He had used to think that his dad was some sort of superhero with the help of his sidekick sons, Sam and Dean. Hunting was exhilarating back then, Sam excited to learn the basics and train with Dean.

As the days merged into months and the months became years, Sam grew up and became aware of the fact that hunting wasn't so great. It didn't make them superheroes. All it did was make Sam feel even more like an outcast—he didn't know what it would be like to live in a house for more than a few months, to make friendships that would last years instead of months. All he had was his family and hunting. Once that was all Sam had wanted and needed, but now all he wanted was to be normal.

He craved normality, especially when he would be soaked in blood after a particularly bad hunt and he would be trying frantically to keep his brother or dad alive until they reached a nearby hospital or, in the times when they couldn't afford a hospital visit, getting to the home of a fellow hunter. Then Sam would wear out the floor pacing while waiting for word on his family, fearful that he would be left alone in the world.

In comics and movies, superheroes were larger than life. They would defeat their enemies with much fanfare, but they never came close to bleeding to death. By the next issue, the superhero would be completely fine and ready to take on the next enemy. It didn't work that way in real life. In reality, it took his dad and Dean a few days at the very least to recover from hunting-related injuries before they even thought of taking on the next supernatural creature.

When he was a teen, Sam hated that he knew practically every surgical suture known to man—he'd rather be stitching up his torn clothes than stitching up his family's skin. Sam was so tired of watching people he loved bleed. He'd only ever wanted to live. If only he'd realized that had never been an option for him.

Sam used to be convinced that his dad's motives for hunting were purely driven from revenge. Revenge for his wife's death. Revenge for ruining his children's lives.

But nowadays, Sam came to understand that his dad's motives were more complex than that. Maybe hunting things and saving people was his dad's way of righting a wrong. His dad couldn't save his mom—so by saving other mothers and keeping other families together, his dad could atone for his fatal mistake.

It was time that Sam consciously and purposely chose to follow in his dad's footsteps and hunt things and save people. Just maybe then Sam would be able to atone for his own fatal mistakes and put things right.

Nonetheless, he still had something to prove to himself and to Dean. Sam had seen the doubt in Dean's eyes when they planned who would go to meet Death and who would deal with the warehouse. He could clearly see Dean's hesitation in trusting him—hell, he'd sent both Castiel and Bobby with him and Sam knew that they weren't there to be his back ups, but rather to act as his babysitters.

Based on his past actions, Sam could see why Dean would doubt him. The old Sam was less impulsive and reckless and more single minded and compromised. He knew that he hadn't always tried to see the big picture—focusing instead on what needed to be done at that moment or rather what he thought needed to be done. Sam knew that at times, his drive and focus were more of an obstacle than an advantage.

Wasn't it enough that Sam stopped short of killing Brady after Sam had locked Dean in the bathroom? Even thinking about Brady made Sam's blood start to boil. He couldn't believe that he had been duped so badly and—what was worse—that Sam's relationship with Brady had ultimately cost Jessica her life.

Logically, Sam knew that if it wasn't Jessica then it would have been any girl who had the misfortune of being his girlfriend. Jess' and his parents' deaths were just one more reason why Sam had to fight his dark destiny.

Now Sam had grown and understood that he couldn't go all out and guns blazing. He had to take in to account the bigger picture and how his actions could influence it. He couldn't help anyone if he didn't start by protecting them from himself, first. The end didn't justify the means. Not anymore. Real heroes don't rely on superpowers. They just do the right thing, no matter what.

He could still be a hero. He could still do what was right. He could still make his brother proud. Sam had to focus on that—it was all he had left to cling to.

Shaking off his dark thoughts, Sam resumed searching for human employees and getting them out while shooting any demons who tried to stop him—that was his mission and he wasn't going to disappoint anyone by not rescuing all the innocents. He had spent an entire year believing that sacrifices had to be made, that concessions were all part of the game plan.

Sam wouldn't allow that anymore. No loss was acceptable. No compromise was worth making. He would save them all or he would die trying.

The minutes raced past and Sam lost track of how many people he led to safety.

Finally, Sam led the last person, a young secretary, who clung to him desperately out to safety and Bobby. As he transferred the girl to Bobby's waiting arms, Sam took one last look around the warehouse. He had done it—this time, he had saved everyone.

Saving people was the Winchester family business—a business which Sam struggled with his entire life. But now, with the threat of the end of the world and Lucifer looming over the entire planet, Sam figured being a Winchester after all these years was better late than never.