Title: A Father's Choice

Summary: A 1-shot set right after the events of Dead Man's Blood. While Dean's out at the store, John's left alone with his thoughts and Sam. As he ponders the coming events, will he take that next step to stop Sam from falling prey to the Yellow-Eyed Demon's plot or will something stronger remind him that this was his youngest son?

Disclaimer: I don't own anything. The boys are owned by the CW and Eric Kripke. Nothing's made on these stories except my stress levels.

Warnings: Angst, drama, maybe some tissues. No violence, maybe a bad word here and there.

Tags: No direct tags but it happens right after Season 1's Dead Man's Blood. This is my last tag on this poor matter. Guess I'm just trying to give John several avenues on how this could've gone if things had been different.

A Father's Choice

Dean's gone out to the store for pain meds and other stuff he insists his brother will need during the night. I offered to go but he only shot me that look I knew meant he didn't trust his old man to get the right stuff and since he was muttering something about blue, purple, and orange Gatorade…he might've been right.

It's been a couple hours since we beat Luthor and his vampires, got the rumored to be a myth Colt and returned to the old cabin I'd rented. A couple hours since I watched my youngest son collapse after having what Dean calls really vivid dreams but I knew what they were even before seeing the fear in Sammy's big eyes.

God, I thought Dean had the monopoly on the use of those big eyes but I now see that he'd taught his brother only too well cause Sam's puppy dog expression was enough to stop the fight that his brother and I had been very close to getting into.

I was their father and Dean should've let me know when Sam started having these 'dreams'. But like he said, he'd have an easier time getting Bigfoot on the damn phone than me. It wasn't like I'd been ignoring my sons calls…okay, I had been, but I had a good reason and now I was sitting alone in the cabin watching that reason toss and turn restlessly on a twin bed that was way too small for him.

Leafing through my journal, I tried to push away the gnawing thoughts and guilt I was feeling as I heard my son moan in his sleep from the pain he was still in and once again I curse the damn demon who touched my family. I come to my most recent discovery, the clues, the data that sent me down the path to finding the thing that killed my wife and may kill my son.

I knew I needed to tell Dean the truth. He needed to know about the demon that killed his mother and what else he did and why for all his childhood Sammy was always a target. I suppose I had always suspected but it wasn't until that final clue fell into place that alerted me that Sam hadn't been the only six month old that year to suffer a fire in his nursery and now several of those kids had developed abilities similar to what Dean was describing in his brother.

This yellow eyed bastard did something to my son the night it killed my wife and now I was stuck with a decision no father should make, The older hunters I'd talked to years before had also warned me at the first sign of evil to kill the snake, stop it before the child could grow too powerful. I had already seen several of these 'special kids' myself and had to pull the trigger on more than one but this…this was my son. This child was the last thing that Mary and I had brought into this world and he…God, he looked so innocent as he flopped on that bed that it hurts to think that my son has powers. That Sammy, the little chubby face boy who used to follow Dean nearly everywhere, could turn as dark as some of those kids.

"…De'n…where?" Sammy wasn't awake but looking around for his brother as he always had when sick so as I watch him roll toward the bed that his big brother normally occupied, I touch my gun. I can't let me son be taken down this path. I know what others have said this demon wants Sammy for and I know that I can't let Mary's bright and beautiful little boy fall into that darkness, just like I can't let Dean be the one to handle it. For once I need to take responsibility for my sons even if it's only to…God forgive me, to kill my youngest.

Accepting that it would be more merciful on both of them for me to just do it while Dean's out, I move slowly to sit next to Sam; being careful to keep my .45 out of his line of sight as he twists to find more room.

Smoothing a hand over brown hair that is still too long and unruly, I can remember watching Dean play with his brother's hair when they'd been kids. It had been all I could do to keep Dean from shaving it one time and then it became a game to them to see how long I'd let it go before clipping it just short enough that my son wasn't mistaken for a girl…since Dean tended to get into fights when that happened.

"Sammy," I can't speak to him without choking up. I'm sitting here thinking about putting a bullet in this sweet, innocent boy's head and all he'd ever done was try to be normal. While Dean always followed my every order, all Sam wanted was to go to school and be normal. I didn't see it until now that all Sammy had fought for his entire life was just to be normal…something that I knew he'd never be.

These powers would continue to grow until they either overwhelmed Sam's goodness and turned him evil or…he was killed and more than likely it would be his brother who was forced to make that final choice. Dean had raised his brother pretty much since the night of the fire. It had tore him up the night Sammy and I had that last fight so I knew that I couldn't let this fall on the already heavy shoulders of my oldest. No, if Sam had to die before the demon corrupted him then I'd be the one to do it.

I tried to find out if I killed the demon if that would end the threat but no, the blood was inside my boy and had been for twenty-two years. I was close to finding the demon but now that I'd seen Sam's visions and knew how much they hurt him, could I take the risk that he'd be the one and a million shot? Could I risk the world on my son being the one who didn't go dark with these powers? No…I couldn't and I couldn't see Mary's baby boy looking at me with those damn black eyes either.

Silently, easing the hammer back on my pistol I'd just started to bring it up when I felt Sam move again and heard something that tore my heart to shreds. "Dad? If I turn like Max did, will…Dean kill me?" he asked it so softly I nearly missed the tears in his voice since I knew my boy wouldn't want me to see him cry. "I don't want Dean to do it, Dad. He'd hate himself. I don't want to go bad, Dad. Can't you…I mean…I don't want my brother to have to kill me…"

I realized what my still half-asleep son was saying. Sam was afraid of these powers just like Dean had said he was. He was afraid of going dark with them and he didn't want the responsibility for him to fall on his brother. This was my opportunity. Sick, scared, and nearly back to sleep, I could end his fear and the threat with a simple shot but…I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Releasing the hammer, I put the gun back under my jacket and smooth a shaking hand over my youngest boy's head like I had when he'd been a happy baby. "You're…going to be fine, son," I tell him while praying to every deity that I'd ever read about that I was right. "You're stronger than these visions and you have something that this Max kid or the others didn't," I wait for his sleepy eyes to open again to look at me before I squeeze his shoulder. "You have a big brother that will always be with you and Dean won't let anything bad happen to you."

"I know, Dad," Sam yawned, a tired smile playing on his face as he gave a final flop to land on his stomach in a familiar pose and fell back to sleep with a whispered. "I…love you, Dad." and I nearly lose it then since I couldn't recall the last time I'd heard either of my sons say those words much less the last time I'd said them to my boys.

Keeping a hand on Sam's back as he finally relaxed, I knew the other reason he'd relaxed fully. His brother was back. It had always amazed me that my boys could always tell where one another was so I wasn't shocked when a couple minutes after Sam relaxed back into sleep, I heard the Impala pull up and Dean entered the cabin with more bags than it really took for some pain meds and a few bottles of juice.

"He wake up?" I knew by the tone that Dean was worried, especially since he hadn't been expecting to find me sitting this close to his brother. Nodding, I watch with interest as he comes over to check Sam out personally and I don't miss the frown when he notices my gun under my jacket. "Move, Dad."

There it was. The tone I'd been waiting to hear from my oldest. Dean suspected what I'd been thinking and I was fully aware that he'd react with violence if he thought I was a threat to his baby brother.

"He's fine, Dean," I tell him as I move back to the table where I'd been sitting and noticed the way Dean hovered over Sam. He was checking for bruises or worse yet signs of a struggle or fight. It was only when Sam shifted against his touch to murmur something too low for me to hear that I see Dean ease off, going back to unpack the bags. "You don't trust me, do you, son?" I had to ask, knowing that I needed to see where his loyalty would settle now.

Dean took his time setting the pain meds and several bottles of various colored drinks aside before folding a new heavier hooded sweatshirt that I assumed was for his brother before he finally straightened to meet my eyes and before he spoke, I had my answer. "I trust you with my life, Dad," he spoke softly, green eyes going to gaze at his sleeping brother before coming back to mine. "But I will never trust you with Sam's life. He's my brother and I'll keep him safe against anyone."

"I know you will, son," I reply, hoping my voice didn't reveal the emotion I was holding back. I wait until Dean's finally laid down to try to sleep before I step out of the cabin to lean against my truck. I'd come with an inch of killing my youngest son tonight and in the end I didn't pull the trigger. I'm not sure if that makes me a failure as a hunter or not but I know for the first time in a very long time I felt like a father. I have to find a way to protect my sons. To keep that demon from ever laying claim to Sam so that Dean never has to carry out that threat because I have no doubt that he would kill anyone he felt was a threat to his brother…even me. God help us all.

The End