John Winchester had a truckload of faults, and a bigger truckload of reasons I run him off my place at the end of a shotgun, but nobody - nobody - could fault that man loving his boys. He loved them with all he had and with all he needed and with all he ever hoped to be. Maybe he wasn't the best at showing it, but you knew he felt it. Anytime they was out of each other's sight more than a day or two, whenever they got back to each other, there was always a grip on the shoulder at the very least, or an outright unashamed hug if things had been particularly dicey. Always a thorough look up and down, John to the boys, and the boys to John, taking visual confirmation that everything was where it should be, and still in working order. Yeah, they fought and argued, they stormed and yelled and swore and worse with each other, but they loved each other.
Samuel though, he's a whole different story. Dean sure gave me an earful about him from Day One. And every day after that. And Sam - well, might be he don't remember much now, but whenever Samuel got mentioned around him, Sam'd get a look on his face like he thought maybe he left an iron plugged in somewhere, he just couldn't be sure.
I'll tell you, there wasn't one thing I heard about Samuel that made me like him. Or even want to like him. He hurt those boys from here to Christmas and from all I could make out, he didn't even care. That don't put him anywhere near my "A" list. (Unless that "A" is standing for A-hole.)
Then I got to meet the old cuss himself. And I liked him even less. And I didn't even think that was possible.
When John knew he was right, he didn't care who believed him or what they thought about it. Samuel though - he didn't just want us to know he was right, he wanted us to be grateful for it and then kiss his ring.
A-hole. F-N a-hole.
Samuel knew for a whole year plus that Sam had no soul, and he did nothing but trade on it for brownie points with Crowley. For a year, he let Sam do the terrible, heinous things that only a man without a soul could do, not caring if any bit of Sam was in there, alert and knowing and remembering what he was doing to other people. Samuel didn't care what doing those things might be doing to Sam. He only cared what he could get for himself out of the deal.
He let Dean suffer too, suffer a year thinking his brother was in hell's hell, not because Sam - or even any part of Sam - told him to keep Dean in the dark, but because Sam was his Golden Goose and Samuel knew that as soon as Dean ever knew his little brother was topside, it wouldn't take long for him to grapple Sam right out of reach.
Yeah, I was part of that part of Dean's suffering, not telling him Sam was alive when I knew it too, but Dean was safe and away from hunting, with people who loved him enough to want him around. There's no hunter I met who ever had that chance, and I wanted Dean to have that chance. But you can be damn sure if I'd known Sam wasn't Sam, if I'd known Sam was suffering, Dean would've been my first hope and my only phone call. We would've gotten that boy back with us and taken care of. And before he had a year and a half of shames and regrets to add to the sack-load he was carrying already.
But Samuel - he used Sam for his own ends. He could say it was all Sam's doing, all those awful things none of us know about, but it don't seem Samuel did much if anything to stop him. He wanted what he wanted, and it didn't matter to him who got hurt. Not even his own flesh and blood, a boy who needed somebody looking out for him, somebody who'd help him get back to himself and his family.
His real family.
Sam and me, we had our issues. No - I had issues with Sam. I come near to death plenty of times in this life, but to have it come at me from Sam - and in my own house - that shook me like I'd never been shook. It maybe wasn't all Sam that tried to kill me, but it was a part of Sam, a part that was still there even when he got his soul back. And knowing that - well, like I said, I had issues with Sam. But I never once threw him over or wanted him gone.
But Samuel - even for having a soul, Samuel was a cold-hearted sonuvabitch. Selfish don't even begin to cover what was missing inside of him. And how he treated the boys? Being willing and ready to offer them up to ghouls just so they wouldn't get in his way? Let's just say when Dean pulled his gun and growled, 'welcome to next time', I knew exactly what he was talking about and what he was intending to do and why he was intending to do it, and I didn't so much as twitch to try and stop him. I was wondering if I had enough bullets to spare if he needed more.
Sam stopped Dean, though, and maybe only Sam could stop him. Sam stopped Dean from plugging Samuel dead and still Samuel acted like we were the hydrants and he was the dog.
He said he cared that Gwen was killed. Could be he only cared 'cause she was the last person on his side. He didn't care that Dean had been 'Khan Wormed', he didn't really care about anything from that point on.
If he'd even cared about anything before that.
We all of us got on the horn to anyone we could think of to help figure out this Khan Worm. All of us but Samuel. Dean and Sam ran through all of their contacts first; me and Rufus had a few more resources on speed dial, but Samuel just sat there looking smug and righteous and bored.
Gee, sorry if impending doom isn't exciting enough for you.
Then the A-Hole decides he needs to take a leak. Sam stands up to go with him. Dean stands up to go with Sam. The next thing I know, there's a gunshot and I'm thinking me and Rufus are three kinds of idiots put together for trusting that Samuel - Khan-Wormed or not - would've given up all his weapons.
The boys came back, not sporting any bullet holes at least. We busted open the locker and got our weapons and lit out after Samuel. And would've got ourselves blown to Creation if Sam hadn't spotted the trip wire Samuel laid out special for us. He must've done that while he was supposed to be in the head.
We found out just how sneaky when we sidestepped the trip wire - just in time for a fire door to come blasting down between us and Sam.
Sam was barricaded away from us with Samuel.
I thought Dean was going to chew through the steel to get to his brother. Nothing but bad was going to come from Sam and Samuel being together alone. He hid it well, but I knew - Dean and me both knew - Sam was aching to know what'd gone on during his 'off' year, and I knew - Dean and me both knew - Samuel would be more than happy to fill in every damn blank, right to the top and then some.
We had to get to Sam - now.
It was a long way around that section of the factory, finding our way through hallways and doorways and judging from direction alone if we were headed in the right direction. Dean kept right on though, storming his way through that building, focused on finding his brother before that f-n a-hole could do one bit more of damage to him. We couldn't leave Sam bottled up with Samuel all by his lonesome.
And right then, it hit me so hard, if you'd told me I was having a heart attack, I woulda believed it.
I had left Sam alone with Samuel, for a whole year. I did know something was wrong with him when he turned up on my doorstep that night, and I didn't do squat about it, I just let him go off on his own with no never mind, with not so much as one follow up phone call. Samuel might've traded off Sam for points with Crowley, but I sure as hell traded off of him for Dean. Hell, I even traded off of Dean - and for what? Some hairy-eyed idea that he was better off without his brother? That he would be happy living thinking his little brother was dead and rotting and being ripped to shreds for eternity in hell?
Samuel had traded on those boys like they was baseball cards, but he didn't know them. He'd never known them. He might be blood, but he sure weren't kin. That didn't absolve him for what he'd done, what he might still be trying to do. But it sure did condemn me, didn't it? I did know those boys, I'd known them since they was in primary grades, and I still left them that whole year to their pain and shames and unknowing terrors when one word - one word - from me woulda set the world back on its right course in a heartbeat.
Instead I'd held on and hid out behind thinking I knew best for those boys.
Turns out, I didn't know a damn thing. If John Winchester was alive right now, he'd run me off with a shotgun. And I'd give him the shotgun to do it with, too.
A-Hole. F-N A-hole.
I didn't have much time to think about it, then. We heard the gunshot and Dean was off at a run, Rufus and me as close behind him as we could keep up. And it wasn't easy to keep up. Dean managed to find the long but unblocked way around that factory floor and got us to Sam and Samuel less than a minute after that gunshot.
In the split seconds it was taking us to find him, every bad possible scenario of what might've happened ran through my head – Sam dead, Sam dying, Sam hurt. Samuel was dead, I was sure of that. Either he was dead right now or he would be in less than a minute if Dean's little brother wasn't absolutely 100 percent perfectly fine as soon as we found him.
And if Dean wasn't fast, it wouldn't be his shot doing the job.
I got me a truckload of my own damn faults, but I love those boys.
We rounded the last corner and there was Samuel, on the floor. Dead and staring blank at nothing. Hard to smirk with a bullet in your frontal lobe, ain't it? A-hole.
And there, next to him, alive and unhurt – physically anyway – there was Sam. And for the scarce few seconds it took my eyes to travel from his boots up to his face, checking each and every inch of him for any sign of harm, I left off thinking of all the harm I mighta caused to that boy and only let myself think one thing: Sam was alive.