Author's Note: I'm not sure what brought this on . . . I've just had this image of John pointing a gun at Sam in my head for a while now. Anyways, John never died and this takes places after "In my Time of Dying" and John traded the Colt to save Dean, but never gave up his soul. This will be a two-shot. Please enjoy!

Yellow-eyed demon: You know the truth, right? About Sammy?

John: Yeah. I've known for a while.

Yellow-eyed demon: But Sam doesn't, does he? You've been playing dumb.

—"In My Time of Dying"

They had survived.

Sure, they had been hit by a possessed driver after a nasty run in with Meg, Sam had sustained countless bruises, Dean had almost died, and John had come dangerously close to getting himself killed as well; but, in the end the Winchesters had managed to survive.

For that, John was grateful.

Sure, he didn't believe in a higher power, but maybe karma or whatever there was out there had taken pity on his family for once. His two boys were asleep upstairs—both breathing and recovering, the Impala was still salvageable, and Bobby had allowed them to rest for as long as they needed even though John had been so rude to him the last time he had been here.

Life was looking up.

"John?" Bobby's voice startled the oldest Winchester and John almost dropped the coffee cup that he had been fiddling with. Bobby was an old hunting buddy and despite the fact that he and John had had a nasty falling out, he was still looking out for him and his boys. One thing was for sure, after this Bobby Singer was getting the best apology that John could muster. "You alright?" There was the tiniest flash of concern in the gruff hunter's eyes and John nodded his head slowly.

"Yeah," John answered. "Just lost in thought."

"Well, get some sleep," Bobby ordered. "We can worry about the damn demon in the morning." With that, Bobby marched back upstairs and John wearily sat down in one of the rickety kitchen chairs. Sleep? How could he sleep when the monster that killed Mary had the Colt and now had his sights set on Sam? He sighed thinking of his youngest. Sam had no idea what the demon had in store for him nor did he know that he wasn't the only child with powers. It turns out that there had been children all over the country who had survived a nursery fire at six months old. These children grew up, learned how to master their powers, and then they would suddenly kill everyone around them. It was almost as if a switch had been flipped—one second the children were good, the next they were shedding blood and creating chaos.

And Sam was one of these children—a time bomb waiting to go off—and John didn't have the faintest idea how to save his son from his fate.

"Damn," John cursed with a sigh as he ran a hand through his hair. "Sammy." What was he supposed to do? Finding the demon had nearly gotten them all killed and he couldn't risk going after the damn thing now, not when he was barely in any shape to move around for more than an hour. All the research John had done had come up with nothing other than vague ideas and possibilities. It wasn't like he could ask for help either, not without exposing his youngest as a "monster" to some hunters. No, John had to deal with this himself.

But how?

A wave of exhaustion hit him and John yawned. Glancing around the room to make sure all the wards and salt lines were still in place, John went upstairs to bed. Hopefully, he would come up with something in the morning.

John was in a field.

Dead grass surrounded him and as he took a few steps, it crunched underneath his heavy boots. Glancing around, John shuddered, as a cold wind seemed to envelop him. A feeling of foreboding settled in the pit of his stomach and his hunting instincts immediately flared up as he approached the center of the field. Blood was everywhere and John grimaced as he saw the piles of bodies that littered the ground. Lifeless eyes stared up at him and John forced himself to look away and keep moving.

"Sam?" His voice came out as a whisper as he saw his youngest in the center of all the blood. Sam smiled sinisterly and John watched in horror as Sam tossed Dean's limp body to the ground. "No!"

"Yes," Sam replied, his eyes turning coal black and the smile growing wider and even more sinister. "You should've killed me when you had the chance."

With that, Sam charged at him and John heard a sickening snap before everything went black.

The nightmares went on for days, costing him precious hours of sleep, and they were all variations of the first one.

Sometimes, John would make it to Sam before Dean died. Other times, John would never even find Sam, but just hear his wicked chuckles filing the air. The worst nightmares were when John would see his youngest in a pool of blood, bodies surrounding him, glancing up at his father with a help me, Daddy look before the Sam that he had raised vanished as he killed John. Suffice to say, John avoided sleep like the plague and buried himself in research, trying to find some way to prevent his son from becoming a monster. His closest answer came in the form of an old Latin text that took John four hours to translate and even then, the answer wasn't the one he had been hoping for.

Those chosen by darker forces must perish before they fully awaken, lest they bring ruin and chaos. Death is the greatest gift one can bring to these condemned. For when they awaken, their spirits shall wither and die within them until nothing but evil survives.

There it was in print—death was the only way.

John shook his head and swore under his breath. He couldn't kill Sam—he wouldn't kill Sam. There had to be a way, there always had to be another way! With that thought, John rose from the table and went to pack his duffel.

He was going on another hunt.

This really sucked, Sam thought as the kitchen flickered before him.

Sam's vision had been the same for three nights in a row and it was only by a sheer miracle that Dean hadn't been around to see the vision and its after-effects unfold. As he felt the familiar slam of pain hitting his skull, Sam braced himself against the kitchen counter and somehow managed to turn off the stove before the pain became too much and Sam was carried away into the world of the vision. Bobby was out getting food, John was God knows where and Dean was banging on the hood of the Impala with a crowbar trying to the get the dents out. All the noise meant that his older brother wouldn't find out about the vision this time either.

"Shit!" Sam exclaimed as his head felt like a jackhammer was pounding into his skull. The kitchen faded away and was replaced by the same spot that had haunted him for his previous visions.

He was in a field of dead grass.

His father stood before him, a grimace on his face and pain in his eyes. Yet, John Winchester stood resolved with the gun pointing directly at Sam's heart. One pull of the trigger and Sam would be a goner.

"Dad?" Sam mumbled, shock tying up his tongue because this couldn't be really happening, right? His dad would never willing shoot him, would he? "Christo." John didn't even so much as flinch. Which meant, Sam realized with a horrified deduction, that John wasn't possessed.

"I'm sorry, Sammy." John sighed, the pain encompassing his features and grief filling his eyes.

"Why?" Sam choked out, knowing that it would be pointless to get away—John had taught him everything he knew. John's grip on the trigger tightened and Sam felt tears prick at his eyes. This couldn't be happening. His father wasn't doing this to him. No, this had to be a trick or something!

"I can't save you," John mumbled, a sad smile on his lips. "God, Sammy, I'm sorry."

"Dean—" Sam began because he knew that something was wrong here. Maybe Sam couldn't figure it out, but Dean could. Where was his older brother?

"He's not coming, Sammy." John answered.

The last thing Sam remembered was the gun going off and the searing pain before darkness encompassed him.

The kitchen gradually came back into focus as Sam slumped against the wooden cabinets. His head hurt like hell, but Sam was pleased to see that he hadn't hurt himself visibly. Dean would never have to—


Crap. There was his brother standing in the doorway, concern all over his face.

"Sammy, what—?" His older brother's gaze met his and Sam knew that Dean had instantly figured out what had happened. Immediately, Dean knelt to his brother's side and eased his up from against the counters. "What's wrong?"

He'd been dreading that question.

"Dean—" Sam tried to push himself away, only to find that he lacked the requisite energy. Groaning, he slumped back against the cabinet. Dean searched him for damage, cataloging every inch of his body and when he was satisfied, Dean met his gaze once more.

"Was it a vision?" Sam had noticed that Dean's voice always grew hesitant and cautious whenever Sam's power was brought up. Whether this was because Dean was worried that Sam's powers would spell trouble in the future or that the whole idea of having a power was kind of freaky, he would never know.

"Dean," Sam tried again, wishing that he had the strength to run out of the room because if Dean found out about the vision . . . Sam didn't even want to think about it. "I'm fine."

"That's not what I asked you," Dean retorted as he helped Sam up. A serious expression filled his older brother's eyes and Sam mentally cursed. "Was it a vision?"

"Yes." Sam sighed.

"What did you see?"

Sam had never been so grateful as when Dean's cellphone rang. Glancing at the caller I.D. Dean answered it and Sam released a breath that he hadn't even realized he had been holding.

"Yes sir," Dean replied and Sam instantly knew who he was speaking to—their father. "Yes sir, Sammy and I will stay here until you're done." With a quick bob of his head, Dean listened to whatever it was that John was saying until he finally hung up the phone.


"Yeah. He's hunting." Sam's eyes lit up with surprise.

"So soon?" Their father had been hurt pretty bad and could barely get around after long periods of time.

"He says he's researching about the demon," Dean replied. "He'll be back in the morning." Sam nodded his head and rubbed his temples, willing the pressure in his mind to flee. "Sam?"


"What did you see?" Sam knew he wouldn't be able to escape Dean or his questions—his older brother was insanely stubborn and when it came to Sam's health, he took everything seriously.

"Nothing." Sam lied.

"Nothing?" Dean challenged.

"It was all a blur," Sam mumbled. He hated lying, but until he knew for sure what the vision meant, there was no point in upsetting Dean. "I didn't see anything."

"You sure?" Dean questioned, seemingly accepting the lie.

"Yes." Sam knew his older brother knew he was lying, but he didn't get called out on it. Instead, Dean grabbed a glass, filled it with some water, and thrust two pills at Sam.

"Go rest."

With that command, Dean headed once more outside and slammed the door behind him.

Sam was lying—Dean could tell that with just a glance.

Whatever it was that Sam had seen—because Dean didn't buy his story about the vision blurring one bit—had spooked his little brother to his core. Something in that vision had caused Sam to shut down and if it was the last thing that Dean would do, he was going to figure out what that was. His little brother was suffering and he needed his older brother to make it better.

Dean just had to bide his time and wait for his moment.

"Dean?" Bobby's familiar voice filled the salvage yard and Dean placed his trusty crowbar aside and faced the old friend of the family. "Where's Sam?"

"Resting," Dean answered. "He got one hell of a migraine today." Bobby frowned and Dean wondered if he should tell Bobby the truth about Sam. What would Bobby say? In the end, Dean couldn't take that risk, not yet. Besides, it was Sam's choice to decide who knew about his powers, not Dean's. Even if Dean wished that he had someone else to confide in about his worries about Sam . . .

"Migraine?" Bobby echoed and then shook his head. "He get those often?"


"Where's your daddy?"


"What?" Bobby asked. "He just left?"

"Said he'd be back by morning." Dean eyed the Impala pleased with how much progress he had made in so short of a time frame. Pretty soon, his baby would be up and running again.

"Alright," Bobby replied, seemingly placated by the response. "Well, get inside. It's late and you're going to catch a cold."

"Never pictured you as a mama hen, Bobby. Bit too old, aren't you?" Dean said with a smirk. Bobby smacked him against the head.

"Idjit." Bobby muttered before heading inside. Dean chuckled dryly, but felt a feeling of foreboding enter his system. Sam was hiding things, their dad had just taken off—things couldn't get worse, could they?

"Famous last words." Dean mumbled as he took one final glance at his baby and headed back inside.

Functioning on only a few hours sleep a day could do terrible things to the human body.

John barely ate and had dark circles under his eyes. He felt sick and looked even worse. John's nightmares had refused to let up and his inability to find a solution that didn't involve killing Sam wasn't helping. His promise to return to his boys long forgotten, John steeled himself against any doubts that he wouldn't be able to save Sam. Dammit, this was his family! He wouldn't fail his youngest!

Death is the greatest gift . . .

That one line was on constant repeat in his mind. It was the first thing he heard when he woke up in the morning and it was the last thing he heard before he fell asleep at night. John refused to believe it—refused to let himself think about killing his son, but truth be told, his resolve was wavering. He loved Sam, but he couldn't let his youngest turn into a monster either. Sam deserved better a fate than that.

"There has to be a way." John muttered, eyes scanning the page of the latest book.

Death is the greatest gift . . .

"No." John hissed, because death wasn't a gift. It was cruel—it took people away and broke those left behind. Death was unforgiving and refused to give anyone honor or peace when they lay bleeding out on the ground. John wasn't going to put his son down like a rabid dog. Sam deserved more than that and he sure as hell deserved to be saved from his fate. Pushing the book aside, John placed his head in his hands. What could he do? "Mary."

Death is the greatest gift . . .

She stood before him dressed all in white, a glow cast around her. She was just the same way that he had always remembered her. Golden blonde hair with the prettiest blue eyes he had ever seen—death could not take those features away from her. She smiled softly and John knew that he should've been worried or throwing salt at her, but he was just so tired.

Death is the greatest gift . . .

She repeated it over and over again until he thought he might go mad. Her eyes were filled with tears and she sobbed, but still the words kept coming out of her mouth.

"Whoever you are," John mumbled, weary and so damn tired. "The answer is no. I won't kill Sam."

Death is the greatest gift . . .

She kept talking undeterred. When John finally mustered up the strength to reach for salt, Mary vanished in a blinding light. But her voice lingered—always there, always telling him what to do. John knew that thing hadn't been his wife, but that still didn't stop her from haunting his dreams. Now, whenever he was in the field with Sam, so was she, begging for John to kill their son. The voice—her voice—haunted him in his waking hours too. Something was wrong with him . . .

Without so much as a second thought, John grabbed his keys and prepared to go back to Bobby's.

One week—that was how long their father had been gone. One week without so much as a phone call or a hasty message left on one of their cells. Dean had been worried sick, though in hindsight he knew it wasn't abnormal for their dad to go missing for long periods of time. When John finally did turn up, Dean immediately knew something was wrong. For one thing, John looked ill. Their normally strong father had circle under his eyes and a wild look on his face. It was almost as if he hadn't slept in days—a thought that worried Dean more than he cared to admit.

"Dad?" Dean asked as he immediately helped John to a chair. "What the hell happened?"

"Couldn't find anything." John replied gruffly. "Where's Bobby?"

"He went out," Dean answered as he carefully glanced over his father, searching for any injuries. "Something wrong?"

"I need to talk to him." John said in a clipped tone.

"Dad, what's—?"

"Dad." Sam greeted, devoid of all emotion as he stepped into the room. Dean frowned as he noticed that Sam too appeared sickly though Dean knew this was due to his visions. The poor kid had been getting a vision each day and as the days had progressed, the visions had seemed to have taken much more of a toll on his younger brother. Sam; however, refused to discuss whatever he had seen, which worried Dean even more. All Dean's attempts to initiate a chick-flick moment had been rebuffed with a chorus of "I'm fine, Dean" and "Stop worrying about it, Dean". To be honest, Dean was starting to get frustrated with Sam and he wished that Sam would just tell him what the hell he saw and why it had scared him so.

"Sammy." John mumbled, concern, worry, and pain entering his eyes.

"Dad, where have you been?"

"Bobby," John muttered, refusing to break his gaze away from Sam. "Something's wrong. I need to talk to Bobby."

"What's wrong?" Dean pressed, but John said nothing. He simply stared at Sam, almost as if he was sizing him up—a thought that sent an involuntary shiver down his spine. "Dad—"

"Get Bobby." John told his eldest and Dean knew an order when he heard one.

"Yes, sir," Dean replied as he glanced around for the keys to the old van that Bobby had up and running. "C'mon Sammy."

"No," John interjected, finally meeting Dean's gaze. "Sam and I need to talk." The finality in his father's voice left no room for argument. Dean met Sam's gaze and his younger brother simply nodded which reassured Dean slightly. He wasn't sure why he was getting so worried. He was leaving Sam with their father. Sam would be fine. Nodding back at his brother, Dean headed outside and pulled out his cellphone. As luck would have it, Bobby didn't answer so Dean got into the lame minivan and willed it to move as fast as possible.

There was something wrong—Dean could feel it.

He just wished that he could figure out what it was.

Sam knew the moment that Dean left that his vision was going to come true.

"Let's go for a ride, Sammy." John said with a smile on his lips and grief in his eyes. Sam nodded, knowing that he could do little else—knowing his fate was sealed the moment he let Dean walk out the door. It was foolish, he supposed. He should've told Dean about his visions, but if John wanted to kill him, Sam had to know why. If he had left Dean know, getting the truth would've been impossible.

They took the Impala even though it wasn't completely repaired. Sam felt strangely relieved by this because if he closed his eyes, he could pretend that Dean was in the driver's seat and that they were going to nowhere in particular. Sam knew; however, that this was just an illusion. John was in control and for whatever reason, he was going to kill him.

"You find what you were looking for?" Sam questioned, feeling strangely numb even though he knew that he should've been terrified at the thought of being shot through the heart.

"No." John answered grimly.

They drove in silence after that until they came to the field that Sam had seen in his visions. John stepped silently out of the car and Sam followed suit, wishing that Dean were with him. If he had to die, Sam thought, why couldn't Dean be with him? The gun appeared suddenly, and it was with a precision that took years of training to obtain that John aimed it at Sam's heart.

"Dad?" Sam whispered, knowing full well that this was happening, yet feeling strangely removed from it all. His father was pointing a gun at him, prepared to kill him. Why was this happening to him? "Christo." It was a half-hearted attempt, a last ditch effort to make sense of what was going on. John didn't flinch and Sam felt his heart constrict—his father wasn't possessed.

"I'm sorry, Sammy." John said with a broken sigh, the grief filling his eyes.

"Why?" Sam managed to choke out. His lungs felt like they were on fire and he couldn't seem to get a full breath in. His heart pounded within his chest, as if encouraging John to take his shot now.

"I can't save you," John mumbled, a tired and sad smile on his lips. Tears stung at Sam's eyes and he could see them mirrored in John's eyes as well. "God, Sammy, I'm sorry." Sam wanted to scream, to call out for help, but he knew there was no one around here for miles. No one to see his body crumple on the ground, no one to try to save him, no one to give him peace. No one like—

"Dean—" Sam began, wishing he had said something to his brother, wishing Dean was here to make things all better like he did when they were kids. Why had he let Dean go?

"He's not coming, Sammy." Sam knew that now—knew that John's quest to have Dean find Bobby was just a ploy to separate the two brothers.

"Why, Dad?" Sam persisted.

"Death is the greatest gift." John mumbled, a tear rolling down his cheek.

Then, resolve evident in his eyes, John then pulled the trigger.

Author's Note: How'd you like part 1? This definitely one of the darkest stories I have ever written and is so long that I had to divide it up. Expect the next part soon. Please review!