My beta recommends a tissue!

Happy Brother's Day

Sam left the cemetery first. That was how it was every year...

It had started when he was a baby. Each Mother's Day their father would bring him and Dean to Mary's grave and they would spend time there.

Dean always brought a single white rose signifying purity and innocence. Both of which he lost the same night he lost his mother. But he would always be the one who made Mary a mom; her cherished first born.

John always brought eleven red roses signifying his undying love and her courage. He never brought an even dozen – only eleven. Mary was his twelfth rose.

And Sam was always given a pink one to bring. He was ten years old before he Googled the color and found out it signified appreciation and a thank you. It bothered him a lot that that was the color his father had him bring. It wasn't that he was ungrateful or anything, he just wanted his message to his mother to be so much more.

When he was eleven he insisted on bringing a light pink rose. His father never questioned it and it satisfied them both. Light pink signified admiration and sympathy. His heart ached at the story of the courageous young mother, although it was his story too.

After placing their roses on her grave, each boy was given the chance to say something.

Dean never said anything. He just stood there silent, like a statue; his young face twisted in grief although he never cried. Never that Sam saw anyway. But that was the one part of himself the older boy never shared. Not even with him.

Sam always said the same thing: I wish you were here. And he did from the bottom of his heart, because if she was then his father and brother would be happy and they wouldn't have to do this every year.

And then the boys would give their father his time alone. It only seemed fair. Sam never wanted to hang around though Dean liked to stay close – moving away but keeping his mother's marker in sight. The older boy would be too quiet and it always unsettled Sam who knew he could never properly share their grief. And they knew it too.

He had only been six months old when his mother was killed. A mere infant, he had no memories of his own about the woman whose death had shaped his life, and for that he felt like an intruder. What he knew about Mary were snippets he got here and there; tidbits he devoured hungrily, only to find them in meager portion.

His father always got this anguished look on his face when Sam asked about his mother, so the little boy stopped asking him. And Dean was evasive – giving out little bits but holding back on so much more. Sam didn't blame him. After all Mary's death was for Sam, it seemed only fair that her life be for Dean.

So when John told them to give him a few minutes, but stay close, Sam always went back to the car to wait. Surprisingly enough, it was the one time neither of his protectors hovered. They let him go.

And this time was no different. Except now Sam was twenty-two, his brother was twenty-six and their father wasn't with them.

Sam had half expected to see the formidable John Winchester at the grave but they didn't. However, the man had been there – eleven red roses carefully placed by the marker said so.

After placing his own rose on the grave, Sam had whispered, "I wish you were here" and then left. Maybe this year Dean would have something to say – but if he did, the younger hunter was determined to give him the privacy to do. He never looked back, just headed towards the black car parked on the roadway.

The door creaked as he opened it and then slid across the black seat. He sat for a few moments and then sighed and pulled a bent up pink envelope out of his pocket. It was obviously a card.

Sam held the card in his hands, his young face contemplative. And then with a resigned sigh, he placed the envelope on his brother's seat and got out of the car again. He did not want to be here when Dean opened it.

ooooooOOOOOOoooooo

Dean heard Sam move away as he bowed his head and closed his eyes briefly. He was appreciative of the gesture more than his brother would ever know.

Staring down at the roses on the grave, the young man sucked in a shaky breath and tried to play it off. But it was hard to do when you were standing at the foot of your mother's grave.

"It wasn't supposed to be like this," he said softly, reaching up to rub at a suspicious wetness on his cheek. He opened his eyes and stared at the roses. "You were supposed to be here with us you know. You promised."

He had wanted to say this for a long time.

"You promised that when Sammy was born we'd be happier – " he snorted and then sniffed. His hands were beginning to shake but he ignored it, trusting his brother would not come looking for him, but wait at the car until Dean had had his time. "We'd be a complete family then and always be together…" His voice trailed off and he was shocked by the amount of bitterness in his tone. "Well you lied."

Slowly sitting down on his butt next to the grave, he wrapped his arms around his legs and pressed his cheek against his knees. He sighed. "I know it's not your fault... I know you'd rather be here with us but… but it still hurts. And you know what the worst of it is?" He paused as if waiting for an answer and then continued on. "I have thought about that night so many times, but no matter what I can't think of anything you or Dad could have done differently that would have made things better. Made them all right… You or Sammy? What hell kind of choice was that?"

He'd be lying if he said he had never considered how his life might have been different if the demon had taken Sam instead of his mother. Yes he would have had his mother and father, and it was doubtful that their father would have gone on the same vengeance crusade he had after Mary's death, but Dean did not delude himself for one moment. His mother would have changed… she loved her children so much, she would have taken her baby's death too hard. In that way, they still would have lost her. Lost who she had been...

And in the end, no matter what, Dean just could not imagine his life without Sam.

The grieving hunter closed his eyes and then shivered as the wind brushed through his hair. For one moment he could almost feel his mother's gentle touch as she stroked his forehead.

"Momma-" he whimpered. "I just… I…" he didn't know what he wanted to say anymore. The weight of grief had never gotten any easier; if anything it had intensified over the years until on days like this, it almost suffocated him. Sometimes he envied Sam for not remembering – regardless of how cruel that sounded.

But then he would think of the sadness of that too and realized it was no easier for either of them. Just different.

Exhaling slowly, Dean glanced across the cemetery to where his car was parked, and slowly started to stand up, brushing off the seat of his pants as he did so.

"I should be going now," he said softly, "Lord knows what kinda trouble Sammy could get into when he's left alone for too long – " he paused and then gave a small smile. "You know Mom, when you told me my little brother was special, I didn't realize you meant in a freaky assed vision kinda way..." he smirked, "A little warning would have been nice..."

Reaching down, he picked up one of the red roses, placed a gentle kiss on the petals and then put it down on the top of the headstone. "Bye Momma," he whispered and then walked away.

Dean didn't notice that Sam wasn't in the car until he opened the door. His brow furrowed with concern until he saw the pink envelope resting on his seat with the name "DEAN" written in his brother's horrific penmanship.

Picking up the envelope, the man slowly slid into the driver's seat and closed the door. He placed the card on the dash and stared at it for a long time, knowing exactly what was inside without opening it.

Sam had done this every year, starting when he was six.

"What is this?" Dean had asked his little brother when Sammy came running into his room first thing in the morning on Mother's Day.

"It's a card!" the little boy had cried out excitedly, "For you!"

"For me?" Dean was dubious. "It's pink?"

"I know," was the happy reply. "Pink's pretty."

The older boy had given him a concerned look but decided he'd leave the discussion of acceptable boy colors until after breakfast. Some conversations were best done on a full stomach. So instead, he opened the card and then stared down at it in shock.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY

"Sammy?" the older boy tried to keep his voice sounding calm as an unsettled feeling lumped in his stomach. "Why are you giving me a Mother's Day card?"

The younger boy's face dropped as he immediately picked up that he had done something wrong. "I'm sorry-" he cried, grabbing the card from Dean's hand and running from the bedroom.

"Sammy!" Dean chased his brother, confused by the card and this unexpected outburst. He caught the younger child at the end of the hall.

"I'm sorry," the little boy sobbed. "I thought you'd like it."

"Well-" the ten year old started hesitantly, "maybe if you told me why you gave it me…"

Nodding that he would, the little boy let his brother sit them down on the edge of the bed.

"Ms. Cunningham," Sam started, and Dean recognized the name of his brother's kindergarten teacher, "wanted us to draw a picture of our bestest memory with our Mommy. Well-" the child blushed and looked down at his hands, as if embarrassed to admit this, "I d-don't got any and I told her, so she said I could make a card instead… She said I could give it to someone who takes care of me and loves me like mommy would, if she could, and-" he sucked in a shaky breath, " and I thought about you." His eyes shone brightly as he looked up with unabashed worship at his brother. Dean felt a lump grow in his throat and blinked rapidly as Sam continued. "I mean Daddy does too but he has a Daddy's day and- and I thought you'd like it."

"Awww Sammy," the older boy sighed and slipped an arm around his brother's shoulder, giving it a quick squeeze before holding out his hand, "of course I love it. Now give me my card and get washed up. I'll make some toast."

Sam gave him the card and then hurried towards the bathroom, stopping at the doorway and turning around to look at his brother. "Dean?"

Dean glanced up from the card. "Yeah?"

"It's Mother's Day – I'll make the toast!"

Before the stunned older boy could say anything, Sam was gone.

Dean chuckled at the memory even as heat rose in his face. "Happy Mother's Day indeed," he muttered.

Leaning back heavily in the seat, the young man carefully opened the envelope and pulled out the card. He started to laugh. Quietly at first, but then loud, mirthful ha-ha's as he saw what Sam had done.

After almost sixteen years of getting Mother's Day cards, Sam had finally scored out every 'M' in 'Mother's Day' and written in fine black marker 'Br' so this year – for the first time – Dean got a Happy Brother's Day Card.

Smiling and shaking his head, Dean read the card.

What makes the world's best Brother?

You.

The verse was so simple but it touched Dean in a place he'd never admit having – not on pain of death. Nodding in approval, he carefully tucked the card into the inside pocket of his leather jacket and started the car.

He knew exactly where his brother would be… by the cemetery gate. Waiting for him.

And that was exactly where Sam was.

"Yo bitch," Dean said as he pulled up next to the younger man. "Need a lift?"

Sam smiled, nodded but never said anything. He just moved around to the side of the car and got in.

Neither mentioned the card. They didn't have to.

But as they drove, Dean glanced across at his brother and just said. "Thank you."

Sam's smile widened. He blinked quickly and then turned to look out the window.

Mother's Day was sacred and came once a year for the Winchester's….

But Brother's Day was something else, entirely.

The End.

"Hey Sammy," ten year old Dean Winchester said as he munched on a piece of burned toast. True to his word, the six year old had made his brother breakfast… for the first time.

It had gone pretty good, all things considered.

"What?" Sammy asked looking up from a glass of milk.

"I can give you a memory," the older boy offered and then explained, "So the next time you need to draw a picture of you and Momma, you got something."

"You'd do that?" the little boy practically squealed, his face alight with excitement. "Really?"

"Well duh, yeah. I offered didn't I?" Dean quipped and then shrugged. "You can pretend it was you and Momma or something-" he shifted on his seat, all of a sudden a bit uncomfortable with the way his younger brother was looking at him. He had always known Sammy looked up to him but the blatant hero worship radiating off the younger boy was downright unnerving.

The little boy nodded his head and then set his milk and uneaten toast to the side, giving Dean his full, undivided attention.

"Well-" Dean started, "Momma loved to pick wildflowers.. and this one time…."

Happy Mother's Day… ummm…. I mean Happy Brother's Day!

Phoenix 2006