DISCLAIMER: Sadly don't own even a small part of Supernatural.

A/N: I wrote this and posted it at another site long before The Bucket List came out…. But it isn't a new idea to have a to do list….

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The List

The two hunters stumbled wearily into yet another nameless and horribly decorated motel room. Dean threw one duffle in the general direction of the bed closest to the door, and another duffle landed with a thump on the table.

"First shower," Dean called.

"Dean. Just this once, couldn't I have first shower? This is just too gross. And I smell." Sam all but whined. He was coated in a foul-smelling goo, courtesy of their latest hunt.

"Sorry kiddo. I didn't make the rules; I just live by them: big brothers go first."

"Dean? Dude? Honestly, you did make up those friggin' rules."

Dean smirked. "Yeah. Guess I did…"

Shrugging out of his jacket, Dean groaned. The night's hunt had been ….. interesting. And not in a good way. He was tired and more beat to hell than he wanted Sam to know. Course Sam was a lot more tired than he would ever want Dean to know either. Dean looked at his brother covertly as he tossed his jacket towards the back of a chair, which it missed, landing, instead, on the floor. He left it there; he was too damn tired to pick it up.

Sam's face was pale and there were dark smudges under his eyes. His brow was furrowed in the tell tale way he got when he had a headache. Dean reflected that Sam almost always had a headache these days. He knew that it was a combination of lack of sleep, too much caffeine and too much time in front of a computer screen, researching a way to save his big brother.

As Dean rummaged in his duffle for his kit and some clean clothes, Sam moved into the room, placing his laptop on the table and his duffle on a chair by the wall. He sank with a groan that answered Dean's onto his own bed. Sam allowed himself to simply fall back onto the bed. It was no worse and no better than the thousands of other motel beds he had slept on over the years. He really hoped that the goo and smell wouldn't transfer to the bedspread. He stared at the ceiling with his feet still on the floor. He let his head roll to the side to observe his older brother.

Dean was stiff and sore. Sam could see the signs that anyone else would miss. The way Dean's eyes crinkled just slightly at the edges and the way his movements weren't quite as fluid as they should be. He watched as Dean shrugged out of his flannel shirt and then pulled off his t-shirt, revealing his torso. Dean had definitely underplayed the way he had spent the evening. Sam sighed. There really wasn't any point in even trying to say anything to his big brother. Someone who had spent the entire evening "fine", would not now be sporting the lovely assortment of bruises and scrapes that adorned pretty much Dean's entire torso – front and back. But that was the reply Sam had received from Dean each time he'd asked if he was ok: "Fine."

Thump.

"Dean? You ok?"

"Fine."

At least it didn't look like any of the cuts needed stitching.

Dean gathered his things, toed off his boots and headed into the shower. Sam knew he was probably screwed. It was an older motel and Dean was sore. There would be no hot water left for him… well, in that case he might as well get some research done and take his shower a little later. Sam stifled another sigh and groan as he heaved himself off the bed. He removed his own boots and jacket. Sam moved towards the closet to hang up his jacket, bending to retrieve Dean's from the floor. As he picked up his brother's coat, a piece of paper fell out of one of the many pockets. It looked like a piece of scrap paper that Dean had picked up somewhere, but it had his brother's handwriting on it.

Sam knew it was probably an invasion of his brother's privacy, but his curiosity won out. What he saw left him breathless.

It was a to do list.

Dean didn't do lists.
The ten things that Dean wanted to do before the end of the year.

Before the end of HIS year.

A few items seemed to have already been checked off. A few seemed to be in progress. Sam sat back on the bed, the coats forgotten on the back of the chair. He read down the list in front of him.

1. fire an original 1866 Winchester rifle.

2. score some doublemint action – MUST be twins: check

3. eat the worm out of the bottom of a bottle of muscatel

4. eat pie at least once every day

5. kill 100 demons: so far 10 check marks – Dean's tally only included the demons he had personally killed.

6. drive the Impala on a Nascar track

7. revisit the top five hottest "nights": 2 checks

8. visit mom's grave

9. watch the sun rise over the Grand Canyon with Sam

10. make sure that Sam is happy and safe

Sam noticed that something had dripped onto the paper, smudging the last entry slightly. He was afraid that he was about to add to the smudges. Sam reached into his pocket for a pen.

Sam was still staring at the piece of paper when Dean emerged from the bathroom in a t-shirt and boxers, still towelling his hair dry. Sam started guiltily.

Dean looked at his brother and quirked an eyebrow. Then he noticed the piece of paper in his brother's hand.

"Sammy? You going through my pockets now? That's kinda private." Dean said quietly.

"Dean? It fell out of your pocket… I didn't…. I wouldn't….." Sam just didn't know what to say.

"Fine. Just give it back and forget about it. Ok?" Dean took the three steps that closed the distance between the brothers and held his hand out for the paper.

Sam looked at his brother's hand and up through his bangs at his brother's face. He didn't give up the note.

"I can't forget about it, Dean."

Sam's words hung in the air between them. That was it in a nutshell. Neither brother could forget. Every minute of every day was one less minute that Dean had to live. It was all a count down, and it still seemed to be spinning out of control.

The list was concrete proof that Dean wasn't as fine as he kept telling Sam. Sam knew his brother was hiding in his own personal fortress, but apparently, Dean did have a calendar in there with him. The simplicity of the things that Dean wanted made Sam's heart ache. The fact that his brother had finally allowed himself the luxury to want something for himself made it hard for Sam to breathe. If it was the last thing Sam did, he would make sure that every item on that list got checked off. Every. Fucking. One.

Dean had turned away from his brother. He hated for Sam to see any chinks in his walls. Wanting things, needing things was a weakness.

"Dean?"

"Yeah?"

"I know where we can find the rifle."

Dean turned to face his brother. "Dude. You've been holding out on me." His mouth quirked up just a little at the corner.

"I went to school with a guy who's uncle does promotions for the Nascar circuit. I can totally get you on the track at Las Vegas." Sam grinned at his brother.

Dean just gapped at his brother and then he grinned.

"What about number eight? You wouldn't go before."

The grin faded from Dean's face to be replaced by a small smile.

"I couldn't before. Not with what happened with Dad. I… I was responsible for where he was, ya know? But now… well, at least we can be pretty sure he's not still in hell." Dean ran his hand down his face and turned away from his brother once again.

For a smart guy, Sam was occasionally stunned at his own stupidity. As much as he often told himself, and his brother to his face, the contrary, Dean really did have his own kind of logic. Of course he couldn't go to the grave before. He couldn't face Mom when he felt responsible for Dad's death and for Dad being in Hell. Sam was pretty sure that Mom might take exception to Dean having sold his soul.

"She might not be too happy about the deal."

"You're wrong, Sammy. She more than anybody would understand." Dean's voice was just audible.

Sam gave his brother's back a tight smile and bobbed his head.

He couldn't bring himself to discuss Dean's final item on the list. How could Dean think he could ever by happy without him?

Sam stood up, groaning and stretching his tight muscles. He'd be happy to take the second, cold shower for the rest of his life.

Dean turned again at the sound of his brother rising.

"You okay, Sammy?" His voice still quiet. The question more than just the usual physical check in.

"Yeah, dude. Just stiff and stinky." Sam smiled at his brother and moved away from the bed.

Sam put the list on the table, picked up his duffle, and made his way into the bathroom to have his shower.

Dean moved to pick up the list and put it back in his pocket.

Sam had written something – he'd added an 11th item. Dean's eyes filled with unshed tears, making it hard to read the new task.

11. May 18, 2008 - make a new list.

A/N2: As I said I wrote this quite a while ago – long before the writer's strike which will no doubt affect when we will see the culmination of the deal….

And Hell Yeah, I support the writers and the strike for as much as I miss our boys….

Please let me know what you think???? Reviews are like oxygen – or chocolate – or like a Winchester smile on a sunny day….