"Thank you for having Sam for dinner today Mrs. Anders." Dean said as he watched Sam scurry away and into the house with his friend. Mrs. Anders regarded Dean quizzically.
"You sure that this is okay?"
"Yes ma'am. We had Thanksgiving with our dad last week. He had to go away this weekend and so we took care of that already. So thank you. He would have been really bored at home with me." Dean said and did his best not to fidget with his car keys.
"You want to stay too? There's plenty?" She asked almost positive that Sam was leaving his brother alone for Thanksgiving, and there had been no dinner for them last weekend. She knew where they lived, knew how poor they were, and knew without a doubt that Dean ate less than his brother did. While Sam was all baby fat and happiness, Dean was tall, thin, and a little drawn, as if he hadn't eaten well in years just to make sure that his brother had enough. His clothes were also more worse for wear than Sam's. Sam always had nice clothes and jackets, they weren't designer but they always looked better than his older brother's. Melody worked at the school and she was able to see the brothers every day, but Dean always wore jeans that looked like they had seen better days, shirts that were so faded that most of them she couldn't identify their original colors. But Dean never complained. Never said a lot. He just kept his head down and sat alone. Most of his teachers commented that he seemed lonely, seemed like he didn't know what his purpose was without Sam at his side.
She looked at the boy again and realized that he wasn't wearing a coat, it was cold enough that the weather man had called for snow, but this thin young man wasn't wearing a coat, Sam had been, but Dean had not. Her heart suddenly ached. She and her family had so much, and it seemed as if she was taking away what little Dean had. He gave her a rakishly, charming smile and shook his head no.
"Thank you for the invitation. But I'm fine. I have plans of my own." Melody Anders doubted that very much, but she accepted the lie and allowed the boy to leave her porch with a goodbye.
Dean arrived back at the apartment they had rented and he sat his keys down and closed the door. The silence was oppressive. Sam always made noise. Some kind of noise, it didn't matter, him sighing, pages flipping, television, Sam's breathing, his feet against the floor, something, always making noise, but now, with him somewhere else, and their dad on a hunt, it was just Dean and the echo of his own breathing was haunting. His boots were heavy as they walked to the kitchen. He stopped when he heard their echo and took them off and threw them against the door.
Refrigerator door open, he pulled out the Thanksgiving dinner he had planned to have with Sam. Weeks spent working odd jobs and tutoring the elementary school kids in math, had earned him enough money to buy a pre-made, small turkey breast, mashed potatoes, a loaf of bread, cranberry sauce, and a pumpkin pie. Dean had been so proud of himself, that he was finally able to provide his baby brother with the normal family meal that he craved, had craved for years. But Sam didn't want just the meal, he wanted the family that went with it. That was something Dean wasn't able to provide. So, when Sam asked if he could go, Dean let him, neglected to tell him of the meal that he had worked for and bought. Sam didn't need to feel guilty for wanting what he wanted.
Dean sat down at the ragged kitchen table, the meal warmed and spread out around him, and he sighed.
"I'm thankful for my brother." He said out loud. "I'm thankful for my dad, my life, and my safety. I'm thankful for…" Dean couldn't finish. Tears were spreading down his face rapidly. He couldn't keep going. Instead he shoved a forkful of mashed potatoes inside his mouth. He kept shoving the food down his mouth hoping to shove the tears down his gullet as well. Dean knew all the tears contained were self pity. Self pity was for losers and he was most certainly not that. So he kept shoving food down his throat, and eventually the tears were strangled and his stomach ached. He didn't even bother to clean up his mess, he simply turned the heater off, and went upstairs, and swaddled himself in as many blankets as he could. Mrs. Anders was going to bring Sam home. Sam didn't need his services any more that day. So, Dean could rest.
Sam came home late that night, smiling and full of turkey and good home made fixings. "Dean! I'm home!" He declared and was blessed with no reply. Sam dropped his coat on the chair next to the door and walked farther into the apartment. "Dean?" he called a little more worried this time. He passed the kitchen and found the remnants of the Thanksgiving meal that Dean had consumed, and his ears went cold. Dean had scrimped and saved enough for the two of them to have a meal. Sam walked closer to the table and found that the containers held the remnants of all of the foods that Sam had listed as traditional Thanksgiving foods. All of it had been consumed. Sam felt a cold chill run up his spine and realized that Dean had turned the heat off. He only did that when they were low on money. Sam, confused, walked up the stairs to the room they shared. His brother was curled up inside a nest of blankets, and his eyes were red and swollen. Dean had been crying. Dean never cried. Not even when he was thrown by a shapeshifter and his arm had been broken.
Dean had tried to make this Thanksgiving a real one for Sam, and like always Sam managed to ruin Dean's best laid plans. Sam went and got on his pajamas and climbed into the bed with his brother, something he hadn't done in recent years, being a teenager now and not needing the comfort of his big brother or his bed. He turned on his side away from Dean and muttered. "I'm thankful for you Dean."