Our Boys

Summary: 1-shot. An unwritten/missing scene after the end of Dead Man's Blood and the beginning of Salvation. John writes a final letter to Mary shortly before going to Salvation, Iowa in what he assumes will be the final showdown with the YED. As he writes it, he becomes aware of more than just his revenge as something becomes painfully clear about his sons and he considers the future once he accepts that it might take one final kill to bring the night of Mary's death to full closure.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything and nothing's being made on this except for some angst and drama.

Tags: If there is, I'd say it would be to Season 1, Episode 21 Salvation.

Warnings: No gore, no violence…I don't think I even used a curse word in this or if I did it's a minor one. May call for tissues toward the end…or that was just me,

A/N: I know and as anyone who has read my other stories know I don't normally write John Winchester in a good light. This story here just popped up this morning and wouldn't let go so here it is in John's one voice. Thanks for reading.

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Mary, I'm this close to finally finding the thing that killed you and I'm also very close to making a decision that could either tear our boys apart…or get me killed.

As I sit here writing a letter like so many others I've written to you since the night of the fire, our boys are sleeping across from me. It's the first time in…God, four years that I can honestly say that both of our sons are sleeping under the same roof as me.

I know you're watching from Heaven as you have for so many years so you know the mistakes I've made with both Sam and Dean, but especially the mistakes I made with Sammy. I've heard you chastising me so many times for the things I've done and said to our boys but I had to believe those decisions were right. I sacrificed it all to find the thing that killed you, the thing that took our boys mother away from them…now I ask myself what else I might have to sacrifice before this ends.

Oh, I can't say the signs weren't there because as I've sat here tonight going back through my old journal that I left for Dean in Jericho I see that the signs were there right from the night after the after…I just didn't put the pieces together or I didn't want to.

I forced myself to focus on locating and destroying the thing that snuck into our lives and took all the joy and happiness out of it. That's how it seemed to me, Mary. When you died in that damn fire, all my joy and happiness were gone…even though I still had the two most precious things in the world. Our boys.

Our boys…now grown men even though as I look across the room to see them sleeping, I still see the boys they were. I still see Dean as the happy, laughing four year old little boy who was always waiting to run to me when I got home from the garage and Sammy…God, Mary, where did the chubby little baby you would sing to go?

Now…I hope you see your sons, Mary. Dean turned twenty-six alone in some city because I was too busy to even call him this year. He has your gentleness, Mary, even though he hides it behind a wall of sarcasm and quips. Sammy though, Sammy looks like you. He has so much of you in him but I'm afraid he has a lot of me too and that brings a lot of problems since it seems like we still can't be in the same area without butting heads. I never saw it before but Sam has my intensity and that scares me, Mary. It scares me because I know so much now and I wish I had known back then what I do now so I could have been a different father to Sam.

Dean always listened, always took care of his brother, always accepted the way we lived for the reasons I gave with no questions. Sammy…with him it was always a question, always a counter point to my view and always wanting for more, like going to college. Most fathers would be thrilled and proud if their son got into a school like Stanford…much less got in with a full ride to boot but me? All I saw was Sam abandoning his family when we needed him the most and it killed me. Now…now as I write this and think back to the dreams we had for the boys when Sam was born. I'm glad Sam got to experience the things that his brother couldn't and I wish to God that he'd kept that innocence. I wish I didn't have to make the choice I will soon.

When I got the final clue I needed and ditched the job in Jericho, I knew that Dean would finish it. I just wasn't expecting him to bring his brother back into this life. Despite all my rage and anger at Sam leaving us for school, I knew that Dean missed his brother. I'm not stupid, Mary. I knew that very night that Dean drove Sam to the bus station and gave him every cent he had in his pocket. Just like I know that our son, who can lie, cheat, con and scam the best pool sharks around, hasn't been losing his money in pool games like he said he was but that's how Dean has always been. He gives me lip service to my face but then he still does what he had to in order to help his brother.

I first found out that Sam was back in this when I got a call from Caleb shouting at me to pick up a damn phone because Dean was dying. I love our boys, Mary but sometimes I wonder if Dean's brains work at all because I'm pretty certain I taught the kid not to stand in water while using a damn taser. Oh, I wanted to drop what I was doing and go when I heard Sam's voice on my voicemail telling me about his brother…but I couldn't. Losing you was one heartache but the thought of watching our oldest son die because I put him in a life neither of them should've been in was too much.

The other reason I didn't go then was because I'd just put too many pieces together and couldn't face Sammy knowing what I had learned. That's why I didn't go to them in Lawrence…I had to have all the answers, I had to know the truth before I could go to the boys and when I did, it nearly killed us all.

Mary, my love, you won't like the choices running through my head or maybe you can guess since it wasn't all about the demon that killed you that I learned about. I don't blame you, Mary. Hell, I don't even blame Sam despite what others will think if they ever find out the truth about our youngest…I blame myself for being too blind to do anything when it still might have made a difference.

After the mess with the Daevas I left the boys. Dean was right. They are still my biggest weakness but what he doesn't see is that his brother is his. I had always known that but it wasn't until tonight that I fully understand the depth of Dean's devotion to Sam, what he'd do to protect him and that's what could very literally rip them apart if I tell Dean what I know. Once, when he was younger, I could gauge what his reaction would be…after tonight though I see that Dean will more than likely turn on me than do what I trained him to do.

I had been coming to see Daniel when I realized our boys had beat me to the punch. They'd picked up on the death in the paper and also had picked up on the fact that Daniel hadn't been killed in a break in or by any normal killer. Lord, I never wanted either of our boys facing vampires. I'm still father enough to want to keep them safe but also hunter enough to know when back-up is needed…not that it stopped the fights between me and Sammy. Boy wants answers that I'm not ready to give and unlike his brother, he feels very strongly that that have a right to know what I'm getting them into.

Ha, imagine that, Mary. Our chubby baby boy, who is by the way taller than both me and his brother now, has a mind of his own and thinks he needs to know everything…for such an agreeable baby, Sammy can be surly.

We beat the vampires even though the boys disobeyed me by coming back and Sam nearly was killed. I never hesitated when I used one of the rare bullets in the Colt to save our son…I just have to hope I don't hesitate if forced to make that final decision. They want to help me find the thing that killed you…that killed Sammy's girlfriend. I know that's a bad decision but not just because I want to keep them safe. It became clear how much worse letting them into this is once I learn about Sam's visions.

It started as a headache. I wasn't too worried since the kid had been through a lot recently but then Sam collapsed and Dean was by him in a heartbeat, talking to him, asking him what was wrong. Doing all the things that his father should have been doing but all I could do was sit and watch and it broke my heart to watch them, Mary. It was like a rewind and Sam was a baby again clinging to his big brother after a bad dream.

By the time the pain had subsided enough that Dean could get his brother back up to the bed, I'd come to the conclusion that it was more than a simple headache even before I heard Dean ask Sam softly what he'd seen. I wanted to break down and lose it there when I finally demand Dean tell me what's going on and then I react in my usual style of yell first, ask questions later and I see the first signs of what Dean will do if his brother is threatened by anymore…including me.

I had heard about other families this demon had visited, I'd heard about the other children but I had prayed those rumors weren't true…until I saw it happening in our own son. Oh, I know Dean was right with that he said. It wasn't easy to get me on the phone and I suppose I wouldn't have handled that voicemail any better than I was handling it in person. I could hear Dean now, 'Oh, Dad, by the way in addition to smoking a Wendigo and saving a boatload of people while doing your job, your son is having nightmares that always come true. Have a nice day.'

Yeah, I guess I can see why he didn't call and maybe it's because a part of Dean is afraid of how I'll react. I know that's how he acted while he fought to calm Sam down and I could see the two of them exchanging looks like both expected me to pull a gun…and if it hadn't been Sam, I probably would have.

Mary, I know I wasn't a great father to our boys but…I guess I didn't realize how bad it was until I went to touch Sam on instinct to feel for a fever. He jerked back like I was something I'd taught them to kill and Dean, I could tell it was taking every ounce of restraint he had to keep from moving between me and his little brother.

I went out for more pain pills and Gatorade for Sam since he nearly went into a panic attack when Dean made a move to go. That left me asking myself, was his reaction only because he'd gotten used to his brother being the one there with him to handle the fallout of one of these visions or was he that scared at the thought of being alone with his own father. I'll choose the latter since as soon as I put on my jacket and picked up my keys, he seemed to relax.

It didn't take long to get the stuff from a nearby store but when I got back, I didn't enter the little cabin right away. I'd looked in the window to see that Dean had slipped back into doing the same thing for Sam as he had when they'd been kids. Sam had always been prone to nightmares and it was always to his brother that he'd run to. They shared a bed then so it was easy for Dean to soothe his little brother. Now, I see our oldest sitting with his brother on one of the two twin beds in the cabin, rubbing a hand against his back. Mary, it breaks my heart to watch them like this, to know that Dean is still the one his brother turns to when scared and even though I can tell Dean is scared for Sam, he won't show it until his brother is asleep. I stay outside until I see Sam's fallen asleep and then I watch Dean just look at his brother for a long time before he runs a hand over Sammy's hair and says something I don't catch. Then he rubs his own eyes and I see the tears that I know Dean would be dead before he let fall.

Of course, it's also right then our oldest reminds me that he isn't completely unaware of his surroundings or of possible threats. "You gonna come in, Dad, or stay outside all night to let that Gatorade get cold?"

Remember when I said Dean had your gentleness, Mary? Well, he also got your smart mouth but if he let on about what I might have seen he didn't say anything and neither did I. He asked if I wanted the other twin bed and I knew if I agreed that he'd more than likely toss a blanket on the cold floor next to Sam since I'd seen him do that before. Making an excuse about looking up something in the journal, I watched him get ready for bed and I don't know if I was impressed, proud, or terrified at the brutal efficiency of what was clearly a normal routine.

First, he made sure the door and windows were locked, bolted and salted. Then I noticed Dean making some kind of score in the wooden sill of the window nearest to Sam before he made a final check on his brother. I watched Dean make sure he didn't have a fever, the blankets were up enough but not too much, he placed the bottle of Gatorade within easy reach, and only then did he fall on his own bed. After a couple moments of rolling, twisting and tossing I saw that he ended up laying the way I suspected he would. On his side facing Sam in case his brother needed him in a hurry.

I wait until I'm sure both boys are sleeping before I check the window to see that Dean had etched a protective signal in the wood that would help to keep out anything the salt might not and I wonder how long had he been doing that.

I'd been reading my journal and making notes in my new one when I heard the first soft whimper from Sam and noticed that even at 6'4", our baby boy was still restless in his sleep during a nightmare. He seemed to be reaching out for something or someone when I decided to either wake him up or make sure he didn't fall out of the bed. I'd barely started to reach out to lay a hand on him shoulder when I heard the click of a safety being released and a hand gripped my wrist tightly.

"Don't touch him," Dean's eyes were still closed but he was fully awake and also deadly serious when I saw where his other hand was since I knew he either kept his knife or that Colt .45 under his pillow.

"Dean…" I spoke to make sure he'd known it was me who was by Sam when I suddenly realized he'd always known that. I felt cold as I watched our son open his eyes to stare at me with green eyes so hard it was impossible not to understand their unspoken message as Dean then got up to kneel beside the other bed.

"It's okay, Sammy, I'm here with you," he had spoken softly in a tone I'd only heard him use a few times when I'd been around but it was the way he kept his body between me and Sam that told me all I needed to know. Dean didn't trust me with his brother and that didn't hurt as bad as I thought it would. What hurt was the knowledge that to do what I'd need to in order to protect them, I could very well loose both sons because I could see that Dean would fight the Devil himself to protect Sam so I had no doubts that he would also fight me.

Once Sam was back to sleep, Dean had merely met my eyes across the room in that silent way he's always had of communicating and I understood something that I suppose I should've years ago from the moment I first placed Sam in his arms the night of the fire. Sam was his and he'd killed to protect him.

Now, as I sit here writing what I figure could be my last letter to you I watch our boys sleep. Sam's finally sleeping peacefully and so long as I don't make a move towards them then so is Dean. It's finally all coming together, Mary. After twenty-two hard years, I finally know enough to stop the thing that killed you because I know where he'll be. Salvation, Iowa can finally bring closure on your death and then I just have to make the hardest decision in my life because to protect our boys…to keep that damn thing that killed you from corrupting him…I may have to kill our son.

God help me, Mary. I love you and will love you until I die and I love our sons but to finally put a stop to the evil that happened in Lawrence the night you died I'm afraid I'll have to kill one final thing before I put this all behind me. The more horrifying thing is, to do that I'll probably end up losing both boys because once he learns that I may have to kill his baby brother I doubt if Dean will react well but I can't allow Sammy to be used for whatever the demon is planning.

Forgive me, Mary, but the only way to save our son may be to kill him and I just pray that I'm strong enough to do that because of all the things that I've placed on Dean's shoulders I don't want to have to put this burden on him.

I love you, Mary. The boys love you and I hope to see you soon.

Setting my pen aside, I place the letter in a battered manila envelope with all the rest that I've written to Mary the past twenty-two years. Then I look at the one addressed to Dean and Sam, knowing that this letter just needed to express the one thing that I never could to my boys. I hope Dean will understand when the time comes. Sam, I'm pretty certain, already does understand and that hurts me all the more.

Putting pen to paper one final time, I write a final letter to me boys with only a simple 'I love you both even though I haven't often shown it and while you may end up hating me Dean, I've only done the one thing that I know of to keep your brother safe. Forgive me, Sam for not being the Father either or you deserved and forgive me for what I may have to do but I can't let that Yellow-Eyed bastard win. I'm proud of the men you've both become and I'm sorry. Love, Dad.'

This letter I'll make sure to send to Bobby. I know he'll give it to Dean just like I know Dean will go to Bobby. As I tuck away my journal and put my old one back in Dean's duffel, I sit back to just watch my boys sleep and pray I can keep them safe for as long as possible.

For twenty-two long years I've hunted the thing that took my wife, that took the mother of our boys. Now, it's within my grasp to kill it like I swore to and to fix all the damage done on that single night, it might not only be a demon I kill…but my youngest son and the heart and soul of my oldest. God forgive me.

The End

A/N: I'll apologize to those readers waiting for the final chapter to Memories & Demons. It's coming, I promise. This one here just woke me up this morning and wasn't going to let me continue on the other until I wrote John's tale. I hope it's okay. Please review if you feel like it and thanks for reading.