A/N: Story published in fanzine Road Trip With My Brother 7 in November 2008.

Don't Fear the Reaper

By Lizabeth S. Tucker

The tall, thin man was relaxed, sipping a glass of fine red wine as he read his subordinates' reports on the various individuals they had escorted to the Other Side. He sighed in contentment, pleased to be surrounded by his little souvenirs of the Earthly Plane. One could say much about the Human Race and their penchant for stupid actions, but they did know how to make items of beauty and comfort.

Then the special alarm went off, announcing the death of an individual on his private list, those he escorted personally. He glanced at the screen and sighed. Dean Winchester. Again. This was the fourteenth time that the older Winchester brother's death alarm had gone off. It hadn't taken the Angel of Death long before he discovered who was behind the frequency of the death alerts. Normally the Grim Reaper stayed out of the little feuds between the human and the supernatural, but it was fast getting on the his nerves.

"It's time the Trickster and I had a little chat," he growled out loud before disappearing from the spacious and well-appointed room.

The Reaper arrived in a flash, appearing beside the grinning Trickster. "Aren't you done tormenting those boys yet?"

"Are you kidding? I may continue doing this for a lifetime."

The Grim Reaper watched as Dean was killed over and over again, leaving his brother alive and well. As death after death was enacted, some ranging from the gruesome to the ridiculous, the Reaper noticed something else. "Trickster, I doubt this will be of much enjoyment to you much longer."

Turning to focus his midnight black eyes on his companion, the Trickster raised his eyebrows inquiringly. "I don't believe that could be true. This is a trick that never grows old."

"Really? Let me see if I understand the point of this long, drawn-out series of repeats. You cause the elder Winchester to die horrible deaths in front of his brother, in order to inflict the greatest pain, all in retaliation for some slight perpetrated on you by both Winchester boys. Is that correct?"

His grin stretching even wider, the Trickster nodded his raven-haired head. "Absolutely right, my dear old friend."

"You have to have Sam Winchester going through all the agonies that the death of his brother would entail, right?" The Reaper pressed, wanting to be absolutely certain of his facts.

"Yes, he is the emotional one, he feels the deepest."

"Ah, but does he really feel more than Dean, or does his brother simply manage to hide his feelings better? Never mind, Trickster, don't strain yourself. But consider. Have you watched Sam's reactions lately? Or have you simply imagined what he is feeling?"

Puzzled by the question, but unwilling to insult the Angel of Death by calling him nuts, the Trickster decided to observe Sam's reactions closely. First he must think of another imaginative way for Dean to die. He rubbed his hand over his chin, his dark brows drawn tightly over his eyes before smiling once again. *Aha! I have it!

Sam Winchester had carefully watched his brother from the moment he woke until the sun began to go down, dreading what horrible style of death might be next. He wondered if the horrible nightmare was over at last as he stood by the window, watching the sun disappear behind the trees surrounding the motel. He couldn't understand why Dean didn't take this unending cycle of death seriously. He looked at his brother, currently kicked back on the bed, watching the fuzzy black and white television picture. Dean was currently laughing at an old movie that was starring the Three Stooges.

"Sammy, why don't I go get us some beer?" Dean asked, glancing over at his brother.

"No!" he snapped, visions of all the various types of death that could be waiting out there in the dark.

"You don't have to take my head off." Dean was miffed, but decided to give Sam a break. His attention back on the flickering screen, Dean frowned. "Stupid thing," he muttered. He got up.

"Where are you going?" Sam asked suspiciously.

"To the head, if you don't mind."

Bathroom accidents, the most accidents happen in the bathroom. He quickly followed Dean to the small room.

Dean stopped in the doorway, turning in disbelief. "You are not coming in with me. I haven't needed a nursemaid when I go to potty since I was 8 months old. Stay outside."

"But…"

"Outside." Dean pushed the door closed in Sam's face.

"Watch what you're doing. Make sure there's nothing wet on the floor. That tile can be slippery."

"Sam?"

"Yeah, something wrong?" Sam asked, almost ready to push the door in.

"Shut up."

"Right. Shutting up." But Sam didn't move away from the door, listening to every sound coming from the bathroom. When he heard the toilet flush and the faucet in the sink turned on, he backed up a step.

Dean walked out, wiping his hands on a towel, almost running into his brother. "You know you're getting stupid about this, don't you?"

"Maybe," Sam agreed.

"But you're still gonna keep hovering around me, aren't you?"

"Yep."

Dean shook his head and walked back to the bed. As he walked past the television set, he reached over to adjust the rabbit ears. There was a bright flash and crackling, Dean's eyes widening and his body shivering, an aura surrounding his body before he dropped to the ground, still twitching slightly.

Sam stood there in resigned acceptance, watching as Dean's eyes rolled back into his head. Finally he leaned down to check for a pulse. As he expected, there was none. "Oh, Dean."

Behind him he could hear "yuck, yuck, yuck."

"Oh, Dean? That's all the reaction you get from killing the boy once again?" The Reaper shook his head. "That satisfies you?"

"Well, it isn't as much as I got the first ten times, I admit, but I'm still having fun." The Trickster shrugged. "I think I'm good for a few more deaths."

The Grim Reaper shook his head. "Without repeating yourself?"

"Oh, definitely. I don't like to repeat myself. I have a couple of marvelous ways to come. I was thinking about having some sort of animal, maybe a snake, winding around their precious gun and shooting Dean. After that, maybe a champagne cork hits him square in the skull. At the right angle, I can take him out just like that," he said with a snap of his fingers. "Maybe the old soda machine falling on him, that's always good for a laugh."

"I don't think either of the Winchesters are champagne people. Dean is definitely a beer man."

"I'll think of something, don't you worry yourself."

"You are a sick creature, my friend."

"You have to enjoy your work, Reaper. Have a little fun with things. You take yourself too seriously."

"Death is supposed to be serious. It changes lives, both that of the living and the dead. It isn't a joke, a trick for your amusement." With a heavy sigh, the Reaper decided to leave. "I'm turning Dean Winchester's alarm off until you're done with your playing. Let me know when that is so I can turn it on again. I promised his mother years earlier to escort her boys to their just reward and I always keep a promise. But let me warn you, my old friend, your involvement in this won't stay secret forever. Sam Winchester is no fool. He'll soon discover who is behind this. The shock is wearing off faster and faster, leaving him more time to think. You had better watch yourself."

"Ah, he'll never figure it out."

"Famous last words." With that, the Grim Reaper popped back to the pleasure of his home. The Trickster was in for it, even if he couldn't see it for himself. The Reaper even considered staying around for the fireworks, but he didn't want to be caught in the crossfire.

March 2008