I don't own the Winchesters – damn!!
The title is from a song by Jim Croce – listen to him – he is awesome.
When he was little, maybe three or four, he remembers them staying in Nebraska, holed up in a tiny little cottage, one fire, not hot water and a freezing cold wind blowing outside.
He remembers being bundled up in a blanket, snuggling on his dad's knee, his head on Dean's thigh, soft hands stroking his hair. He can see, quite clearly, his dad's face, beard already going white, hair peppered with silver.
His dad was smiling, wistfully and he produced a photograph from his wallet. It was a strange, impulsive gesture and Sam often wondered why, why that day? Why then? Maybe it had been a special day, a birthday or anniversary, Sam never knew, all he knew is that his dad seemed to want to show them the photograph and they wanted to see it.
It was his mom; he knew it instinctively, even though he hadn't ever seen her, only relying on Dean's descriptions, Dean's childhood memories.
His mom was blonde and slim and delicate, her smile wide in her dimpled face. She was wearing a green dress that matched her bright eyes and Sam put out a tiny finger and ran it down the worn surface.
"Why do you have this daddy?" he heard Dean say and his dad smiled, sad and slow.
"So I can remember."
Sam only has one photograph of Jess that survived the fire. It was in his wallet, in his pocket and it got dragged out of the flames with him. It isn't the best likeness, doesn't do her justice, doesn't capture the person she was, the person that Sam fell in love with.
She is sitting on their bed, brushing her hair. Sam snuck up on her, camera in hand, catching her by surprise. Her mouth is open and her eyes are sparkling and she is holding the brush in her left hand, her right one slightly raised as if to hit Sam hard for what he had done.
He keeps it there because he wants to remember her, even if he cannot recall how she sounded or how she felt, he at least has something that reminds him how alive she really was.
They don't have any photographs of dad but they do have shared memories.
The last time Sam saw him, he was smiling, happy, moving on. Sam hoped, deep down, that he was going to be with mom again. Dean, not wanting a chick flick moment had said nothing.
Sam keeps a mental photograph of that moment in his mind. He doesn't remember his father smiling much when he was younger, he doesn't remember many expressions as pure and as joyful on his dad's face.
He desperately wants to remember this one.
He finally gets Dean into a photo booth outside Idaho.
Dean snarks and moans, says that the two of them will NEVER fit their asses into that tiny space, flatly refuses to sit on Sam's knee, preferring to squat down and poke his head up so that it looks like it is growing out of Sam's knee. He won't smile, staring moodily at the camera like some sort of cheap rate James Dean.
Sam doesn't care, he stands by the booth, waving the photos as they dry in the sunshine, watching Dean lean against the hood of the Impala, drinking soda and wolfing down a burger like meat is going out of fashion.
He smiles to himself as he tucks the photos into his back pocket for safe keeping.
Sitting on Bobby's porch, three weeks after Dean's deal has gone down; Sam takes the photograph of Jess out of his wallet. He kisses it, reverently and tenderly, and puts it in the top pocket of his jacket. He swallows hard and gets the strip of photographs out of his back pocket, unfolding them and gazing at them, running a long finger across the surface, as if he could touch real flesh.
He cuts one of the photos free with his knife and places it in his wallet, pride of place; reserved for those he loved the most. He hears Bobby come out of the kitchen and he turns, giving the older man a watery smile, feeling a firm hand on his shoulder, grounding and comforting, holding him on this earth.
"What have you got there Sammy?" he asks and Sam doesn't correct him, needing to hear the nickname, needing to feel that there is still someone in this world who knows him.
Sam holds the wallet up and shows Bobby the photo, hesitating only a moment when he sees the question in his eyes.
"So I can remember," is all Sam says.