By His Rules

As if his legs had a mind of their own, Sam stepped out of the small rustic hunting cabin, walked across the narrow dirt road, and maneuvered down the embankment until a small break in the towering trees allowed him a glimpse of the bright blue morning sky. He watched as the constant wind swayed the green treetops back and forth and blew the intermittent fluffy white clouds across the sky with notable speed. The air was fairly warm, he also noticed, indicating that Mother Nature was preparing for the upcoming summer season. Sam closed his eyes for a moment, allowing his hearing to better tune into the sounds of the forest around him. The world had not ended after all. It just felt like it did to Sam.

A few minutes later he began to run, picking up speed with each darted in between the trees faster than he knew was safe, but he needed to feel alive. Needed to feel free.

Sam was unsure of how long he dashed through the forest, and stopped only when the stabbing pains in his right side robbed him of adequate oxygen to continue. He dropped to his knees as he gulped in the fresh air, waiting for the painful discomfort to subside. His body was soaked with sweat and after he pulled off his long sleeved shirt, he caught a glimpse of the gray t-shirt underneath. He had forgotten that he had had slept in one of Dean's shirts last night, again having put off doing laundry one too many days. He quickly grabbed his long sleeve shirt and buttoned it up to his throat with unsteady hands. He couldn't look at that shirt.

Sam stood and wrapped his arms around himself as began the long, difficult walk back to the cabin. There was nowhere he could run to escape the overwhelming emptiness that he felt inside anyway. He was familiar with this emptiness. He had felt it with his mom, Jessica, his dad, and even Dean a few months ago when the trickster made him think his brother was dead. He should have been prepared for this. But he wasn't and Sam was grateful that the emptiness once again numbed him from feeling much else.

When the cabin finally came into sight, Sam slowed, feeling as if his legs were now getting heavier with each step. He paused in front of the Impala, the landscape reflecting in its jet black exterior like a mirror. Usually filthy, he and Dean had had fun washing and detailing it yesterday while drinking from the seemingly unending supply of six packs in her trunk. Sam hadn't known what was coming. There should have been eleven more days left...Had Dean said anything yesterday to indicate what he was going to do? Sam couldn't seem to remember. Couldn't seem to think straight. God, what he wouldn't give to talk to his brother just one more time. To hear Dean's voice just one more time. Or his laugh.

After Sam stepped into the cabin, he halted at the sight of Dean lying on the bed, an empty pill bottle still loosely clutched in his right hand. He, of course, knew Dean would still be there, but it was no less a shock. His older brother still looked like he was just relaxing, staring up at the ceiling with a small smile frozen on his lips, as if he had just woken up from a dream about his latest female conquest. Sam was grateful that his brother hadn't done anything brutal like shooting himself in the head. Sam still couldn't bring himself to touch or move Dean's body, not even to close his eyelids. Instead Sam took a seat at the table, to re-read the short letter that he had already read at least a hundred times since he had discovered Dean's body after he woke up that morning. He had it memorized already, but still hoped that had somehow missed something.

Sammy,

Don't hate me for doing this and not telling you. I hope that someday you'll understand why. Do know that I am not sorry that I gave my life for yours. I have never been sorry for doing anything to protect those I love. No matter what happens, no matter what I become, I'll always be your big brother. Remember to always fight like me, but always think like you and I know that you will win this demon war for us all. You are the Winchester legacy now.

Dean

P.S. If you crash my baby, I'll beat your ass after I climb out of Hell.

"Sam?" Bobby's asked from the doorway, causing Sam to jump.

"How...how are you here?" Sam whispered, confused.

His throat felt tight, making it difficult to get the words out. Bobby's eyes darted to Dean's body before again settling on Sam. Sam could see it in Bobby's eyes that he already knew what he would find.

"Dean...he, uh, called me early this morning. I'm so sorry, son," Bobby said as he walked up to Sam and put his hand on his shoulder.

Sam startled as if he had been electrocuted. He stood and backed away from the older man, stopping right in front of Dean's bed. He wasn't ready for Bobby to be there. He wasn't ready for him to touch his brother either.

"I'll be outside," Bobby said quietly, seeming to understand the young man's wishes.

Sam took one more look at Dean, wanting to make sure that he had every detail of his brother's face burned into his memory.

"I'm sorry," Bobby said again after Sam joined him outside, because there was nothing else he could say.

"We still had time left," Sam said slowly. "Maybe I could have-,"

"It wouldn't have mattered, son. You know that and he knew that too," Bobby replied gently.

"Did...did he say why?" Sam asked.

"No," Bobby answered. "He told me what he was going to do, told me not to tell you, and gave me this location. What I do know is that he had his mind made up, kid. Knew exactly what he wanted to do. There was no doubt in his voice. No hesitation."

Sam looked away from Bobby as he processed the other man's words. Sam nodded his head as it all started to come into focus. Maybe he did understand Dean's reason after all, Sam decided. Dean had died the way he lived. By his rules and no one else's. Sam smiled as the tears started to come. That was just like Dean.

Thanks for reading and reviewing this short story. Blame this sad one on the mainly depressing Lost Soundtrack that I downloaded recently to my Ipod. Personally, I think Dean will get out of his deal, but the subject matter is too good for a story to pass up