Sam woke up with a start.
He preferred this, really, because these days the other option was waking up completely disoriented and heavy, like his limbs were only getting half the signals from his brain- which was only half sure he was awake.
He lay still for a minute, categorizing: bunker, safe, 11:23am, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, back, legs, feet. He curled up slowly and felt the ever-present ache deep in his bones. When he swung his legs out of bed, the cold floor stung his feet.
"You up yet?"
Sam snorted and couldn't hold back a grin. He might be the damned soul with the freaky demon powers, but Dean had always had his own brand of mind magic.
"Yeah," he yelled back, his voice hoarse. Dean's voice had drifted out from the somewhere out in the bunker, rather than from his own room just along the hall, so Sam pushed himself wearily to his feet, slung the blanket from the foot of his bed around his shoulders, and stumbled out into the main rooms. A sweet, familiar, spicy smell filled the massive space.
"De-ean?" Sam yawned halfway through his call.
"Kitchen. You better have a blanket if you forgot to put a frickin' sweatshirt on again!"
Sam shuffled into the kitchen, gave Dean an automatic shoulder-bump where his brother stood mixing a bowl of something at the counter, and dropped heavily into one of the chairs. He grabbed a corner of his blanket at waved it at Dean. "See? Blanket."
"Hey, good job, Sam. You remember how to follow an order I taught you when you were three."
Sam ignored him and lay his cheek down on the cool surface on the kitchen table, closing his eyes. He'd slept about twelve hours, but he was still tired, and even through his congested nose he could smell that spicy, comforting smell even stronger in here. It smelled like good memories.
"Hey." Dean was suddenly there right in front of him, pushing his hair out of the way and palming his forehead.
"Hm?" Sam grunted.
"You're kinda warm," Dean muttered. "And you seriously need a shower, Sam."
"No, I really mean it, dude. Either you wash that grease-mop you're callin' hair or I'm shaving it off."
"You wouldn't," Sam mumbled. "You'd have nothing left to braid on movie nights."
"I'm not dignifying that with a response."
"Ooh, big word."
"You want some meds?"
Sam sighed and sat up, slouching against the chair back. "It's the trials, Dean," he said wearily. "We know that. Dayquil isn't gonna help."
Dean glowered. "Whatever," he growled, and stomped back to the counter, where he went back to beating the shit out of whatever was in the bowl.
"What are you making?" Sam asked. He knew Dean wasn't mad at him, he was just mad because he was always mad when something was wrong that he couldn't fix. Besides, he'd left a pair of thick woolly socks lying on the table, and Sam had just realized that his feet were freezing.
Sam huffed out a laugh as he bent over to pull the socks on. "Of course. Why did I even ask?"
"And soup, like sick people get." He threw Sam a significant look over his shoulder. "But also pie."
Dead twisted again, this time to stare at Sam like he'd just said something totally incomprehensible. "Dude."
Sam's eyebrows wrinkled up in confusion. "What?"
"Dude," Dean said again, stressing it this time. "You know what day it is today?"
"Uh…yeah. It's the first."
"Yeah. October first." Dean stared at him.
Sam stared back.
Dean jerked his hands at him. "Dude. I know we've gotten off track of things the last few years, but seriously? Come on. October first. Pie. I have a decent kitchen this year, there's no way we're not doin' this."
Something clicked suddenly in Sam's head and old memories came flooding back. "Oh!"
"Aaand he gets it. Give the kid a prize." Dean grinned and turned back to his mixing bowl, dumping in a heavy shake of a spice bottle. "October first, pumpkin pie. Winchester bros family tradition since…."
"Since I was six and got my first gold star of the school year, and you took me to get pie at the diner as a reward."
"And you got all excited because there was pie that came from a vegetable." Dean shook his head but he couldn't hide his fond grin. "Weirdest kid ever, where the hell did I go wrong with you?"
Sam's face fell a little and he dropped his gaze to the table. He couldn't help it. He'd been asking himself that same damn question for a long, long time.
He heard Dean stop stirring, pause, and sigh heavily. "Answer's nowhere, Sam," Dean rumbled quietly. "You know that, man. Nowhere."
Sam smiled gratefully but didn't look up. He really loved his brother sometimes, and that meant he wouldn't embarrass him when he decided to say something nice.
Dean slapped a hand loudly on the counter like he was physically snapping them out of the chick-flick moment. "Alright, you ready for pie? I'm on my second one, I made one earlier."
Even though he hadn't felt hungry in days, Sam could feel himself perking up a little bit at that. "With molasses?"
Dean scoffed. "What do you think I am? Of course there's molasses in it. Molasses, maple, and the Dean Winchester signature secret pumpkin pie spice mix."
He grabbed two plates that had been sitting ready at the other end of the counter and set them on the kitchen table, one in front of Sam and one next to him. Then he jogged to the fridge and brought back two beers, a tub of vanilla ice cream, and metal bowl that Sam peered into as soon as Dean set it on the table.
"Why's the whipped cream in a bowl?"
Dean groaned, dropped into his chair, and pressed his face into his hands. "See, that's where I went wrong with you. You don't even know where whipped cream comes from." He propped his chin on his palms and gazed beseechingly at Sam, somehow managing not to laugh even though Sam was already starting to crack up at his expression. "Sorry this is comin' to you so late, bro, but whipped cream doesn't actually come from a can in its natural state. It's made from milk, like from a cow. It's called whipped cream because you take the cream and then you whip it with beaters-"
Sam was laughing and wheezing so hard he almost fell out of his chair, so he tried to push Dean out of his instead. Dean leaned away, grinning broadly, then scooted back in and started dishing out the whipped cream and ice cream.
"Eat up, dude," he said cheerfully. "There's a whole hell of a lot more where this came from. Let's get some meat back on your sasquatch bones, huh?"