A/N: After watching Dark Side of the Moon I was completely certain Zachariah had his hand in what memories Sam and Dean recalled while in heaven. I lost sleep over that entire episode. Back in August I wrote a drabble called Prelude to a Thanksgiving Dream and the idea for this one-shot stemmed from that. What if the memory of Sam's first real Thanksgiving was a good memory because of Dean? Yeah, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Sam is 11, Dean is 15.

Sam made a list. Every year at Thanksgiving, even before he was old enough to write, he made a list of things he was thankful for. Dean helped him with it when he was younger and made fun of him for it when he was older but it was the one tradition he continued. He needed to remind himself that even in their crazy, dysfunctional life there were still things to be grateful for and at the moment he was thankful for girls. Even Dean would be able to appreciate that one.

The hum of the car engine along with Sam's full stomach was making him nod sleepily but his head jerked upward as Stephanie's clammy hand reached for his own. She'd already managed to grab his leg during dinner and while her dad was pulling the car around to take him back to the motel she had planted a sloppy kiss right on his lips…the first one he'd ever had.

Sam stared at the hand clasped tightly in his own, while curling his other hand protectively around the small box sitting on his lap. He glanced up at Stephanie through lowered lashes and caught her staring at him unabashedly. Sam felt his cheeks grow hot and added one more thing to his list of things to be thankful for: it was too dark in the car for anyone to notice his flaming face.

Stephanie's dad had kept up a stream of mindless chatter but his voice finally grew silent and Sam wondered if he had gotten tired of talking to himself or if he had finally run out of things to say. At dinner the older man had been full of questions that Sam thought he had managed to deflect quite well. Dean had gone over all of the routine parent questions with him before dropping him off at Stephanie's house tonight, which Sam thought was rather funny. He was still wondering how Dean managed to know all of the questions parents would ask when Dean himself had never once met his own girlfriend's parents. Usually when it got to that point Dean moved on to the next available girl. More likely than not, Dad had already moved them on to the next town before the parent meeting stage ever happened.

Dad. Sam sighed softly to himself. Dean had promised to cover for him tonight but Sam was still afraid of what Dad would say if he came home and found Dean alone. They were never supposed to split up while Dad was on a hunt. Dad would be furious but Dean had told Sam he could handle it. Once Dean had found out Sam was invited to his first real Thanksgiving meal, he was a man on a mission.

Sam smiled to himself and clutched the box in his lap a little closer. One more thing to be thankful for: an awesome big brother.

Dean peered around the edge of the curtain as a car drove past, murmured a curse under his breath and glanced at the clock. Where the hell was Sammy? How long did it take to carve up a turkey and eat some pie? Dean had no idea but surely not longer than it took to hunt down a shapeshifter and take care of business.

Dean had worked all week on the reasons why Sam should be able to spend Thanksgiving with a family who could give him the normality he so desperately craved and then at the last minute Dad had gotten a call from Pastor Jim and he was out the door with some hurried last minute instructions to his eldest son.

Dean had assured Sammy as he walked him to the huge, two story house everything would be fine and he would be back home before Dad even knew he was gone but Dad had stumbled back in an hour ago, bone weary and reeking of blood. While he took a quick shower Dean had run down to the KFC on the corner and got the usual bucket of extra crispy and two large side orders of mashed potatoes. When Dean returned the first words out of his dad's mouth had been: "Where the hell is your brother?"

Dad had not been happy with him for letting Sammy out of his sight for more than ten minutes but he seemed too tired to argue tonight. He shoved his food down and was asleep on the couch within thirty minutes of Dean's return. Dean was pretty sure the conversation would resume in full force as soon as Dad was awake.

He glanced over at his father, who was shivering slightly in his sleep. Dean padded into the bedroom and returned with a worn blanket, tucking it tightly around his snoring dad. A car pulled up outside and Dean flicked the curtain aside, then hustled for the bedroom so he could act as though he'd never been worried for a minute.

Dean heard the motel room door open quietly and he picked up a magazine, flipping idly through the pages, thinking back to a couple of weeks ago when he had found Sam staring at a pink piece of paper with a silly smile on his face. Dean had promptly snatched the paper from his brother's hand and now he grinned at the memory.

Sam lunged toward his brother. "Give it back!"

Dean neatly sidestepped Sam, holding a letter above his head, just out of Sam's reach.

"It's from a girl, isn't it?" Dean sniffed the letter. "It smells like a girl."

Sam gave him a murderous look. "She invited me to Thanksgiving dinner, okay? Happy now?"

"Sammy's got a girlfriend!" Dean grinned. "Dude, is she pretty?"

"Doesn't matter," Sam slumped into the nearest chair. "Dad'll never let me go."

"Sure he will, kiddo. Leave that to me. So, tell me, what's her name?"

Sam smiled, his eyes shining with excitement. "Her name's Stephanie."

Dean hoped Sam's first real Thanksgiving had been everything his little brother had always wanted and he wished Sam would hurry the hell up so he could hear all the details.

Sam closed the door with a soft click and waited for his dad's breathing to even out again before he moved into the room, carefully stepping over the salt line Dean had poured earlier that day.

Dean had been sure Dad wouldn't be back before Sam but he had been wrong. Sam wondered how mad Dad had been and if Dean would even tell him the truth if he asked. Even now that he knew the family business, Dean still made it his job to protect Sam from everything he could.

Sam sniffed at the bucket of KFC on the kitchen table and wrinkled his nose. Every year, the same thing and Dean never complained, not once, although Sam knew that deep down his brother wanted the same things he did when it came to the holidays. Ever since Sam was old enough to understand the concept of family, he knew it was the most important thing in the world to his older brother and he also knew Dean shared his desire for a normal family life, no matter how much he stated the contrary.

Dean poked his head out of their bedroom door and Sam shifted the box in his hands so it was hidden behind his back.

"Hey kiddo." Dean whispered. "Thought I heard you."

Sam smothered a smile, knowing full well Dean had been waiting by the window until Sam had been deposited on the motel room doorstep.

"Whatcha got there?" Dean craned his neck to see behind Sam's back as they retreated to the safety of their room.

"Brought you something." Sam offered the box to his brother.

"What is it?" Dean eyed the box suspiciously.

"Open it and find out." Sam kicked off his shoes and flopped down on the nearest bed.

"Dude, get off my bed." Dean parked his butt next to Sam, shoving him over with his elbow while peering into the box. "Is this…..Sam, did you bring me pie?"

Sam grinned as his brother's face ran the gamut of emotions. "Not just pie but apple butter pumpkin pie. Try it."

Dean carefully plucked a piece of pie from the box, holding it almost reverently. Sam didn't understand Dean's love of pie but he understood his brother enough to know pie made him happy in a way very few things could. Dean took a small bite of the pie and his entire face lit up.

"Sammy, this is the best pie ever." And he promptly swallowed the rest in two bites, licking his fingers unceremoniously. "Alright, let's hear the details. How was your date with brace face? Did you kiss her? And more importantly, what did you have to eat?"

Sam yawned widely. "There's another piece of pie, Dean."

"What?" Dean pulled the box toward him, ripping off the lid. "Damn, Sammy. This totally makes up for the other day when you ate the last of the potato chips."

Dean held the pie to his lips and glanced at his brother. "You want a bite?"

Sam shook his head and curled onto his side. As he began to drift off to sleep he heard Dean say, "Dude, this is not getting you off the hook. First thing in the morning, you're spilling the details." He felt Dean's hand rest lightly on his head. "I want to know if tonight made your list."

Sam burrowed his face into the pillow that smelled vaguely like Dean and added one more thing to his list of things to be thankful for: the memory of Dean's face as he made quick work of the pumpkin pie. It might not be normal and it might not be all they ever wanted but spending Thanksgiving with his brother was all Sam would ever really need.

A/N: The drabble I mentioned at the beginning is included within this story. It's the italicized part where Dean is thinking back to where he found Sam reading the letter.

Also, if you haven't had apple butter pumpkin pie you are missing out! It is awesome!