All the standard disclaimers: Not mine. No money being made. Don't own them.

I just can't resist playing with them.

A/N: This fic is a result of my state of mind today. It's been 22 years to the day that my father passed away. I tried to work on a couple of my other stories but I just couldn't get into either one of them. So I made up this one instead.

And I've taken some liberty with the days of the week. Although November 2nd, 1983 was the day that Mary died, November 2nd, 2005 didn't really fall on a Sunday. But this story occurs on the first weekend that Sam and Dean go looking for their father. (The series premiere. And Sam did go to a Halloween Party that weekend.) It's set on the Sunday of that weekend,before Dean takes Sammy back to Stanford. And I wanted that day to be November 2nd so that it was exactly 22 years after Mary died. Just to add to the angst.

I hope you can overlook that little discretion.

Thanks.


November 2, 2005

Dean sat in the booth at the little country diner and gazed out the window. He wasn't really staring out the window ; he was just diverting his eyes. It gave him someplace to look. Someplace to focus his attention without having to watch what was happening around him. But he wasn't really seeing anything that he was looking at. Because he was lost in his own thoughts.

The only thing that he did notice was that the sun wasn't shining. It was a cold, gray day. Just the type of day it should be. Cold and gray to match his mood. To compliment the memories and the horror of this day. It was the type of day where you really didn't want to do anything. Didn't want to acknowledge that you were alive. Or that there were other people around you. You just wanted the entire day to be over so that you could try to forget it.

Again.

And hope that tomorrow would be better.

So Dean just sat there, looking out the window and, every once in a while, he would take a sip of his coffee. He hardly noticed that the coffee had gone cold. He hadn't paid any attention to the waitress when she had come up and asked if he wanted it topped up. If fact, he had barely noticed her. So she had just gone away. And left him alone with his thoughts.

It wasn't that he was really alone. Because Sammy was sitting right across the table from him, searching for leads on his laptop. Hoping to find some clue as to where Dad had gone. He had his nose buried in that laptop the same way he used to bury his nose in his books when they were kids. And, whenever he got like that, he didn't notice anything else. The whole world could collapse around him and Sammy just wouldn't notice.

And, as Dean stared out the window, he was pretty sure that his entire world was getting ready to collapse around him. At least that's what it felt like. And he didn't know what to do about it. Or how to stop it. Or even if he really wanted to stop it.

Because it had been 22 years. Twenty-two years ago to the day that Mom had been so suddenly taken away from him. And it hurt like hell to think about it. And remember it.

Dean could remember the heat. How hot it had been in the house. The scorching heat that had burned into his skin. Just like the memory was burned into his mind. It was the nightmare from hell that wouldn't go away. Because it hadn't been a nightmare. It had been real. Just like hell was real. He knew it was because he had been living on its borders for the past 22 years.

And he wondered how all that time had passed so fast. Where had those 22 years gone? How had all those years just disappeared like that? And, how was it possible that, even though it had been 22 years, it still hurt so much? It had never really stopped hurting. It was like a wound that would never heal. The pain just never seemed to go away. Sometimes it would subside, but it would never leave. It was always there, simmering below the surface where it festered deep in his soul and refused to go away.

And every year on this same day, the pain intensified until it broke through to the surface and tore right through him. Leaving him totally and completely shattered. Like a jigsaw puzzle. One that was next to impossible to put back together. No matter how hard he tried. Or how long he worked at it. There were just too many pieces.

Dean wondered how long it would be before he would be too fractured to fix. How long would it take before he was so badly broken that he just couldn't be put back together again? Just like Humpty-Dumpty in that silly children's rhythm. Broken and unable to be fixed.

How many more years did he have until the pieces just wouldn't hold together any longer? Because he became more fragile each time he broke and the shards of normalcy got smaller and smaller each time he picked them up. And it got harder and harder to keep himself together every time.

It had been extremely hard when Mom died. That had been the first time that his world had destructed and his psyche torn apart. But he had pulled himself together and survived because he still had Sammy and Dad. And, although it always hurt whenever he thought about Mom, at least they had been there to help ease the pain.

But then Sammy left too. And Dean had wanted to die. Because Dad had given Sammy an ultimatum before he left: He could stay. Or he could go. And, if he went, he was to stay gone.

And Sammy had gone. And he had stayed gone. For four years, Sammy had vanished from his life. He had left Dean behind. And never looked back. And Dean didn't think he ever planned to look back. Not by his own choice anyway.

And he hadn't. Sammy had stayed away right up until the moment a few days ago that Dean had broken into his apartment. To get him to come with him and find Dad.

Because Dad had finally left him too. Without a word. Without even saying good-bye. He had just up and left like he'd been doing for years. Only this time he didn't come back.

Dad had simply gone and left him. And this time he had been all alone.

And Dean couldn't face the idea of being all alone so he had sought out Sammy. So that he wouldn't be alone. So that Sammy would come back to him and help him find Dad. Because he wanted the three of them to be together again. And Sammy had come with him. He had been reluctant but he had come.

Only he didn't want to stay. He only wanted to be with him for the weekend. And then he wanted to leave again. He wanted to go back to school. Back to his girlfriend. And then Dean would be all alone again.

And he didn't think he could survive that.

Not this time.

And especially not with today being the twenty-second anniversary of the worst day of his life. The day that everything changed. The day that he lost his childhood. The day that he lost his mother. The day that he lost himself.

Because today was the very day when people had first started to leave him. And, if Sammy left him again today, then it would also be the day when he was finally left all alone. And that would be too much to bear.

Dean stared out the window, not trusting himself to even look at Sammy. Because, if he did, he knew that he just might start to cry. Because, like it or not, Sammy reminded him of Mom. He had the same eyes, the same smile and even the same skin.

And Dean knew that he had always cherished that. He had always horded that knowledge inside his heart because it had been a way for him to hold onto Mom. To keep her close. Because he needed that. He needed to keep her close. It was the only thing that kept him from falling apart.

He had transferred his feelings for Mom into Sammy. Because Sammy kept Mom alive. He kept her alive with his laugh and his smile. With the way he had worshipped Dean when he was younger. Without knowing it, Sammy had preserved Mom in Dean's heart. Every time he looked at his younger brother, he could see Mom. At least he could see parts of her. The parts that mattered. All the love and all the laughter.

And that's why he had always treasured Sammy. And protected him. Because Sammy was his last link to Mom.

He had been too young to protect Mom. But he had never been too young to protect Sammy. He had always been there to look after his little brother.

To rock him to sleep when he was a baby.

To dry his tears when he fell off his bike.

To stop some bully from picking on him.

To comfort him when Dad was gone.

To help him grow up.

And to keep him safe.

He had kept Sammy safe all his life.

And Sammy had kept Mom alive for him.

So it had actually been a trade-off. An unspoken contract between the two of them. Carved into Dean's heart and forged in his blood. It was a contract that was never to be broken or lost. No matter what. And they had abided by that contract for years.

Right up until Sammy had gone away to college.

And then the contract had been misplaced. Ignored and forgotten. And Dean had died a little more with each passing day. Because, not only was Sammy gone, but Mom had disappeared right along with him. And Dean's heart was left with a hole he just couldn't fill.

So he had thrown himself into the fight. To find the thing that had killed Mom. And, even though he knew it wouldn't bring her back, at least it kept her alive in his heart. Because he was fighting for her. And in a way, he was fighting for Sammy too. Because Dean could never separate his mother from his brother. They were one and the same. They were part and parcel.

They were his reason for being.

But Sammy wanted to go back to Stanford. And worse yet, he wanted Dean to take him. Sammy didn't seem to notice that, to Dean, that would be like digging his own grave. It would be worse than shooting himself in the head. Because, if he did either that, at least the pain would cease when he was dead.

But watching Sammy walk away again would only accentuate the pain. It would spread like an inoperable cancer throughout his soul. Smothering him until he couldn't breathe. Not killing him outright but leaving him to linger in agony.

Because, once Sammy left, he would have nothing.

And no one.

And that was worse than death.

Dean took a deep breath.

He blinked.

And a single tear fell from the corner of his eye.