Author's Note: People write for a lot of reasons. For me, I write whenever I find myself in a situation that I can't handle. It helps to have characters I know experience the same situation I'm in. Yesterday, someone I knew very well died. This story was directly inspired by my own grief as well as the grief I saw other people deal with. Thanks for all your continued support.

"Now and then I call your name

And suddenly your face appears

But it's just a crazy game

When it ends, it ends in tears."

Luther Vandross, "A House is Not a Home"

March 21st, 1973

"I'm so sorry for your loss."

God, Bobby was sick of hearing that phrase. He was sick of the false niceties and the way people he barely knew would come up and hug him. He didn't know half of the people at the funeral and he doubted Karen knew them either. Vultures were what they were, just people looking for the latest gossip. Karen was the love of his life and he had killed her.

"Please let me know if there's anything I can do."

Sure, there was something they could do—lock him up. He wanted to shout that he had murdered her.

He should've been thrown behind bars.

He should've been sentenced to death.

Yet, here he was at her funeral, acting like she had just died of a sudden illness.

"Karen loved you and I know you loved her. Let that comfort you now."

There would be no comfort for him, not until he atoned for his mistake. He had to find some way to make sense out of this, to find meaning in his life. He would find a way to make this up to her, to earn her forgiveness.

"She's in a better place now."

He knew she was. His Karen was an angel on Earth and now he had sent her away. He would never see her again—only the fiery gates of Hell would allow him passage and he accepted that.

"My condolences."

With that, Bobby put on a fake expression and allowed the woman he didn't even know to hug him.

November 3rd, 1983

The cold breeze from the open window cut him to his core and yet, he found that he lacked the strength to ask for a blanket or simply even move for one. It was as if his body had shut down in order to give his mind only one thing to process.

Mary was dead.

He could still picture her on the ceiling as vividly as if the fire had occurred three minutes ago rather than three hours. Her blonde hair fanned out on the ceiling, her mouth in the perfect little "o" of shock, the searing heat on his skin as he reached towards her, trying to save her.

Mary was dead.

He had failed to protect her, to save her from whatever had happened here tonight. He had managed to save Dean and Sam—thank God for that otherwise he was sure he would've put a gun to his head by now—but his wife, he had allowed to die. Maybe he should've burnt up with her.

At least then, she wouldn't have died alone.

"He's in shock." One of the firemen told kindly Mrs. Jenkins, their neighbor. The older woman had ushered the three of them into her home, brought Dean some toys to play with and had passed Sam off to her daughter-in-law who was currently rocking him to sleep. Mrs. Jenkins was organizing everything and even though John hadn't said one word to her since the ordeal began and he tried to voice his thanks to her, but found he couldn't.

"John?" The elderly woman stood in front of him, a warm and inviting smile on her lips. "Here." She wrapped a blanket around him though he had no idea how she knew that he needed one. Then, pulling back, she gave him a warm mug filled with some coffee. "Drink up, the warmth will be good for you." With a shaky nod, he slowly pressed the glass to his lips and after a few attempts, he swallowed a few sips. She was right; the warmth did feel good, but he knew it would be a long road.

Mary was dead.

The mother of his children, the love of his life was dead.

And now here he was, trying to pick up the pieces.

He would figure out what happened if it was the last thing he did. She didn't deserve this fate and he wasn't going to rest until he managed to make sense of this tragedy.

"Go to sleep," Mrs. Jenkins ordered softly, pushing him back against the chair. "Everything will be better when you wake up, you'll see."

He doubted her, but he found his eyes closing of his own volition and was soon asleep.

He dreamt of Mary burning on the ceiling.

July 17th, 1990

The scruffy kitten that Sam had taken a liking to as soon as he noticed it in their new neighborhood died. The poor thing had been sick, that much was obvious to Dean the moment they moved in. Sam was devastated and moped around until their father finally snapped and told Sam to "grow up."

The second their father left on a hunt, they held a funeral and together they buried the nameless kitten in the flowerbed across the street.

"Do all cats go to heaven Dean?"

Dean didn't believe in the concept of Heaven, but it was Sam. So, he smiled, put a hand on his baby brother's back and replied,

"Of course, Sam."

November 5th, 2005

Dean watched his brother straighten his tie. After a glance in the mirror, the youngest Winchester huffed and took the tie off only to redo it a few minutes later. He had been doing this for the past 30 minutes. The eldest Winchester wasn't sure what to say or what to do. He had met Jessica briefly and he had gathered that she and Sam were pretty serious, but Dean hadn't realized just how serious until he saw Sam began to grieve.

His future sister-in-law had just died and he wasn't sure how to think or feel or what to do.

"Sammy?" Sam fixed his tie; his eyes were bloodshot and puffy. His hair was disheveled and frankly, the kid looked sick. He hadn't been sleeping—the nightmares were too intense—so the two of them had been up most of the past few nights, watching pointless television, researching what had happened and some times, Dean just held his baby brother as he cried. Sam's college friends had been popping in and out, offering their condolences and hugs. Some baked casseroles and others left flowers and cards. Sam put on a brave front with them, but Dean could see him breaking on the inside. "Sam, you want some help?"

Sam ignored him and continued to tie and then undo his tie. Sighing softly, the eldest Winchester made his way over to his sibling and gently pried the silk piece of clothing from his hands. Sam didn't even seem to acknowledge his presence and simply stared off into space.


"Yeah?" He wrapped the tie around and then finished fixing it.

"She died because of me." The tears were welling up in his brother's eyes. Instantly, Dean pulled him close and let his arms encircle his brother. Sam was taller now, but that didn't mean anything to Dean. He would always comfort Sam—that was part of his job.

"No, it wasn't your fault."

"How can I look her father in the eye?" Sam sobbed, breaking down fully.

"Sam, this isn't your fault." He rubbed soothing circles on his brother's back, willing some calm into Sam's system.

"She died alone," He cried. "Dean, no one should ever die alone!"

Dean just held him and waited. This grief would pass, would give way to some semblance of calm and they would continue on as if nothing had occurred. That was what Sam would need—a sense of normalcy—and Dean would give it to him.

But for now, he would just hold him and let Sam cry.

That was what Sam needed now and whatever Sam needed, Dean provided.

"You're not alone," He whispered. "You've got me still."

November 5th, 2006

John's death hit Dean the hardest, but it was the way the grief affected Sam that worried Bobby more. The kid was too busy focusing on his older brother's grief that he was letting himself go. First, it was the weight that slowly began to disappear from the tallest Winchester's frame and then it was the lack of sleep that led to his bloodshot eyes and uncoordinated way he walked around the house. While Dean chose to ignore his brother's quickly deteriorating health, it was Bobby who sat Sam down and called him on it.

"You ain't gonna help your brother if you allow yourself to slip away." Sam nodded, registering his words and Bobby stood up from the kitchen table. He grabbed the plate of spaghetti on the counter and then placed it before the youngest Winchester. He watched as Sam timidly grabbed the fork and began to eat.

"Thanks, Bobby." He whispered and the gruff hunter smiled before heading back upstairs. Dean was still hurting but he had no doubt that these two would endure. It would take time but as long as they had each other, everything would work out.

"Those are my boys." He murmured fondly.

December 12th, 2006

The victim's daughter wasn't really helpful. She kept sobbing and in-between sobs, she kept repeating the same words,

"I should've gone with him. He had asked me to!"

Sam did his best to comfort her, but Dean inwardly rolled his eyes. He wanted to hunt and this girl was doing nothing but stalling him. Finally, after Sam passed the sobbing girl their card, the two of them made their way back to the car.

"Jeez, what a waste of time." Dean remarked; Sam glared at him. "What?"

"Are you telling me that you don't have one regret that has to do with Dad?"


They had been talking about their father a bit, but it was still painful for the both of them. He sighed and contemplated the question. He had plenty of regrets in his life, though he tried to live a life that had few of them.

"I get it."

He wasn't ready to talk about it yet, but he understood what his brother was trying to do.

"You wanna stop for pie?" Sam asked out of the blue and Dean grinned.

"Sure, why not?"

They drove on, an endless dirt road before them.

April 3rd, 2007

Madison's death hit them both pretty hard.

For Sam, it was another sign that he was meant to be alone.

For Dean, it was one more person on his conscience because he hadn't saved her.

Somehow, through the tears and the shock of what had just occurred, they managed to clean up her apartment and lay her out on her bed. It struck them that she appeared so peaceful, as if only asleep. Sam gently tilted her head to the side so that the gunshot wound wasn't showing as much. She didn't deserve this fate—they both knew that—so the least they could do was make her comfortable and make the discovery for her family and friends as less painful as they could. They wiped down all traces that they were here and then each respectfully said their goodbyes, each in their own way.

Once they finished with that, they both drove out to a field by her apartment and toasted to her.

It didn't make them feel better.

The grief would stay with them for weeks later.

May 17th, 2007

He had moved faster than even he thought possible once he realized Sam was missing. He had called Bobby and immediately made plans to meet up with the old family friend and then he proceeded to call all of their contacts and put them on the alert for Sam.

He wasn't moving now though.

His last words he had said before his brother disappeared were, "Don't forget the pie." Not "I love you" or "thanks for always being there for me" nothing significant like that, but "don't forget the pie." Of course, Sam being Sam he forgot the pie as usual. The kid had always like cake better anyways. He chuckled softly remembering one time Sam had managed to charm a waitress into giving them a whole Devil's Food for free.

Dean had been so proud.

He's got mud on his jeans and he idly picks at it with his hands. It's dried on and hard. He'll have to get them washed, but since it was Sam's turn to do the laundry, he'd wait and get them a bit dirtier. His baby brother always threw a fit when Dean did that. It would be hilarious.

"Hey, Sam—?"

He froze as the images raced through his mind.

A knife to Sam's back, screaming, running forward and catching him, begging him to hang out because Dean would fix him—

Sam's lying out on a mattress that Bobby had moved from downstairs of the abandoned cabin. His skin's pale, save from the vivid red that decorated his side and his back. He's so still and that's so odd in itself. Sam had always moved around whenever he slept, even as a baby. He was a kicker, which had led to many feuds when the two of them used to share a bed.

But Sam was so still now.

"Sam?" He wants to reach out, but his hand stops halfway because if he touches his brother, he knows he'll confirm his deepest fear has come true.

Sam's dead.

He died in Dean's arms, but that doesn't make it any better.

Dean's the last Winchester standing and now he has to burn his baby brother many years before his time. He was the one that was supposed to go first; he had come to accept that so much as it meant Sam getting out alive.

Sam died though and now Dean was left all alone.

"Sammy." Tears choke his voice and the grief hits him like a ton of bricks because he realizes that he'll never hear his brother laugh, he'll never see him settle down and have kids, he'll never watch Sam achieve his dreams.

Sam is dead.

And all Dean's left with are these muddy jeans and a broken heart.

Author's Note: A bit darker and angstier than my usual fare, but I'm just in one of those moods. To those of you awaiting updates, I apologize, and I'm going to try and do my best to get something up. Please review if you have a second.