"The hunt is in Colorado…why are you going this way?" Robosammy asked.
"Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I'm going to Bobby's house, you can go wherever you want. But I want to be with my family this year."
Robosammy looked curiously at the older man. "I don't understand. You've never really had the desire to celebrate Thanksgiving…well except for the massive eating and the pie. But you haven't ever really cared where we celebrate it before."
"A year will change a man." Dean said after a beat, and that was all he offered by way of explanation.
"But this hunt is important. Crowley said…"
"Crowley can suck it. I don't care. You can go. You can hunt the whatever it is, I am taking tomorrow off. I am sitting down with Bobby, eating dinner and watching a game on the television. I am not going to be a demon's bitch on the holiday."
"But, I thought that you wanted my soul back."
"I want your soul back, but I sincerely doubt that you are doing this for the same reasons."
"Dean we've been over this, I want my soul back."
"So you keep saying."
"Would I be working with a demon if I didn't?"
"You worked with one and betrayed me, chose a demon over me, and that was when you had a soul. So, now, yeah, I think you'd screw me over in a heartbeat if there was something you wanted. So, like I've said, you can go, go hunt, hell take the car, take one of Bobby's cars, hitch a ride, phone a friend, sprout wings and fly, I don't really care how or if you do, but if you want to go on that hunt, go. I just won't go with you."
Robosammy settled back against the seat, and tried to understand what Dean was doing. Tried to understand his logic, and he was coming up with nothing. Sam knew the following:
Dean wanted Sam to have his soul back.
Dean would do anything to do it, even if that meant working for Crowely
Dean prized family above all other things, and he would do whatever it took to make sure that his family was safe.
Sam reviewed those constants, and tried to figure out how Dean's new attitude fit into those parameters.
"Have you called Lisa?" he tried trying to ascertain if that had something to do with the new attitude.
"No. I have not." Dean was clenching his jaw, and Sam knew from memories that it meant that Dean was getting aggravated with him.
"Then, why are you so angry. You are angry aren't you?"
"You just freaking don't take the hint do you? Yes! I'm angry. I'm so pissed that I want to hit something." Robosammy unconsciously leaned away from Dean, he didn't want to be on the receiving end of another one of Dean's beatings. Soul or not, that hurt, and he didn't think that if he was to receive another one that Dean would call Cass and have him fix it, Sam would just have to deal with the physical pain until his body decided that it was time to heal.
"Well don't' hit me."
"And that's it. That is the heart and soul of it, the old you would have told me to hit you if it made you feel better, and that, in all honesty, would have stopped me. You telling me not to hit you makes me want to pull the car over and pound your face into pulp. You don't get it, you won't get it and you can't get it. I'm mourning the loss of my family. All of my family. I've lost Sammy, I've lost Lisa, and I've lost Ben. The only family I have left is in South Dakota, and by God I'm going there. You, whatever in the hell you are, can go elsewhere, or you can stay, I don't care. You can hunt or you can go to a cat house and get your jollies, you can eat not eat, sleep not sleep, you can breathe not breathe, I DO NOT CARE!" The last word echoed off of the interior of the car and Dean took a deep breath, eyes glassy with anger. Sam stopped. He turned and faced forward.
It was number three. Family. That was what was bugging him. Dean didn't consider him family any longer. Interesting.
They arrived at Bobby's house, and Sam only stayed long enough for Dean to get his stuff, hand him the keys, and to say hello to Bobby and he was burning rubber out of the salvage yard as fast as the Impala could take him, and that was pretty fast if Dean said so himself.
Bobby looked at Dean and sighed. "Where's he headed to in such a flurry?"
Dean shrugged. "I think he said a hunt in Colorado." Bobby sighed and watched as Dean headed up the stairs, opened the screen door, and went inside Bobby's home.
Bobby sighed, there was always so much angst in the Winchester family, and he never quite understood where he fit with all of it. Dean always came to him, wanted to vent, wanted him to sympathize, but the moment he got too close, acted like the father he felt he was to the boy, Dean recoiled, said something decidedly not nice, purposefully hurtful in an effort to shew Bobby away and to protect the heart that was already smarting.
Now, with Sam soulless and with Dean always angry at himself for what happened with Ben and Lisa, Bobby was at an even greater loss. How did anyone fix this? He shook his head and followed the boy up the stairs and into the house. When he got inside, Dean was already making coffee, back turned to him, his shoulder muscles so taught with stress that you could see their outline through the three shirts and a coat the Bobby knew he was wearing.
"Why aren't you with him son?" Bobby asked cautiously.
"He wanted to hunt."
"That doesn't answer my question."
"I didn't want to hunt over Thanksgiving."
Bobby knew he was about to tread on some seriously thin ice, but there was no other way to do it, there was never a safe course to take when Dean Winchester was involved. Talking to him resembled an emotional landmine, no one ever knew where they were hid and when one might explode under your feet and take a limb or two. "That doesn't answer why you aren't with him."
"Bobby, it's the holidays. You are supposed to be with your family."
Bobby was flattered. He knew the boys felt like he was a part of their family, but they had never made an effort in their later years to make it back to the salvage yard and spend the holidays with him, they always had each other and for Sam and Dean that had always been enough. That Dean was here, with him, and not with Sam was telling of the current state of affairs between the brothers.
Bobby inwardly sighed, and braced himself to have his legs blown off in the explosion, and said, "But he's your family."
"We share DNA. But that is as far as it goes anymore."
"You let him take the car."
"That car used to mean family, and it was our home. Now it's just a car. No meaning no anything. I don't care if he wrecks the damn thing."
"You don't mean that son."
Dean bowed his head and took a deep breath. "I do. I never thought I would, but I do." Dean turned and faced Bobby. "I learned a lot of things over the last year. I learned that family doesn't just have to be the person that you've known all of your life. It doesn't have to be just blood."
"I've been telling you that for years boy."
Dean nodded. "I know you have. I know. I've believed you too, but, well…" Dean shrugged. "Lisa and Ben accepted me, they let me be a part of a real family, and I screwed it up because of Sam. Because I believed that he was back, that he needed me." Dean chuffed disgustedly at himself. "I gave up everything for a shell, for something that only looks and sounds like my brother. What a fool I am."
"Dean…" Bobby searched for comforting words, but realized that that would be all they were, words. Dean was never one to believe words, he was one who believed actions, and what he could see with his own two eyes. So offering him platitudes wouldn't do anything other than fall on the deaf ears of the most stubborn man on the planet.
It was simply Bobby and Dean who sat down to Thanksgiving dinner the next afternoon. Neither man was upset by the company, nor were they upset by the silence, both were not exactly men who liked to make small talk, but Dean kept eyeing the chair that Sam usually sat in when they would eat dinner at the table, and Bobby wished that he had had the presence of mind to remove the chair before they sat down to dinner.
"So, what is this hunt exactly that Sam is on?" Dean shrugged and shoved a forkful of mashed potatoes into his mouth.
"Don't know. I quit listening to him drone on and on and on about a hunt a long time ago. And now that he doesn't have a soul, it just makes his explanations of things worse."
"So, he's fighting something out in Colorado."
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Sorry." Dean shrugged.
"No. I'm sorry." He put his fork down and sat pushed away from the table wiping at his mouth. "I shouldn't have come here and ruined your holiday with my crap." He stood up and Bobby sighed and put his own fork down and looked up at the tired and stressed out young man.
"Dean. We're family. I'm thankful that you came. Even if you do have horrible conversation skills." Dean gave a weak smile and nodded.
He was just about to retake his seat at the table when he heard a knock on the door. "You expecting someone?" Dean asked.
Bobby shook his head and stood, grabbed a shot gun from behind the refrigerator, and they both went to the door, Dean putting a hand on the gun at the small of his back as he opened the door. All Bobby saw was Dean's hand relax and he opened the door wider.
"What are you doing here?"
The smaller man shifted from foot to foot and looked from Dean to Bobby, who had just come up behind Dean to see who had come to the door, and gave a weak smile and said, "I was hoping that you guys had another seat at the table."
Both men stood there stunned. Neither had been able to find Chuck since the whole aversion to the end of the world, and they assumed that the angels had smote him because he had helped Dean get to his brother and helped him help Sam come to the surface and do what needed to be done.
"You're alive?" Dean said for the both of them."
"Uh. Yeah. I guess I am."
"Where have you been?" Bobby asked from over Dean's shoulder.
"I, uh, needed to get away, for a little while. Angels…."
"Are dicks." Dean supplied.
"Yeah. Kinda." Bobby and Dean continued to stare at the smaller man and Chuck finally cleared his throat and said, "Uh, guys, can I come in?"
"I hear that Sam is missing his soul." Chuck said as he dug into the pie that Bobby had made earlier.
Dean let his fork clatter against his plate and looked at Chuck with incredulity. "What? Is there a freaking Winchester newsletter?"
"Dean, I'm a prophet. I hear things about you guys whether I want to or not."
Dean closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Of course." He took a deep breath. "Yeah. Crowley has it. Apparently he is the king of hell now and he can do whatever he wants, and no matter how much I want to believe that God will help us out and fix it, he won't even help Cass out who is doing his damndest to stop the civil war that's raging up in heaven. So, we're working for Crowley in attempts to actually get Sam's soul back, which I'm not even sure he really wants back." Dean dug his fork into the pie and shoved a hunk into his mouth trying to push the disgust and fury back down into his stomach.
"That sucks man." Dean nodded. "Where is Sam?" Chuck asked.
Bobby was the one to answer this one, "Colorado, we think, he's on a hunt." Chuck nodded, and the awkward silence that followed was staggering. Chuck stayed through the meal, they spoke little, they offered him a drink, which turned into several, and none of them spoke as they drank. They watched part of the football game, and when it was over Chuck excused himself from the gathering.
Dean was in bed when he heard it. It was feint at first but he would have known that sound anywhere. He threw the covers off and almost tripped over his shoes on his way to get out of the room.
When he got downstairs the sound was coming clearer, it was a little louder, and Dean threw open the door and ran, barefooted, weaponless, out into the frigid November night, and ran full throttle towards the sound.
"Dean." Came the pained voice. Dean ran and ran using the voice as a guide and finally, he found the source. His baby brother, crying, and holding his stomach was standing at the entrance to Singer Salvage looking sad, tired, drawn, and scared. Dean stopped short right in front of the younger man.
"Sammy?" Dean asked breathing heavily. Tears streamed down his face.
"Yeah." He answered in a horse voice. "It's me. They let me go." He whispered.
"Sammy." Dean said and hugged his brother, and this time, Sam clung to his brother as tightly as Dean clung to him. Sobs escaped Sam and his knees gave out and Dean held his weight. Dean held on as tightly as he possibly could, and tears trickled out of Dean's eyes. He readjusted his arms and held Sam tighter, grabbed the back of Sam's hair and pulled him closer and whispered "Thank God."
"I'm sorry." Sammy whispered. "I'm so sorry Dean."
"Shhhhh, Sammy, you didn't do anything. Shhhh." Dean finally let Sammy out of the hug and grabbed him by the shoulder. "Come on Sammy, let's get you inside, you have to be freezing."
"Me? You are the one not wearing shoes or a shirt." And Dean's heart warmed, that was his little brother, that was the man he had raised, that was the empathetic man that he had known his entire life.
"I'm fine Sam. I'm fine. I'm just thankful to have you back." He guided Sam towards the house, where Bobby was standing holding a shotgun. "He's back Bobby!" Dean yelled. "He's back!"
"Who's here boy?"
"Sammy! Sammy is back!" Dean guided his little brother up to the porch, and in the light emanating from the door behind Bobby, Bobby got a good look at the man in Dean's possession. It lookd like Sam, it was crying, and it looked sad and scared. But it wasn't until Bobby got up close, wasn't until he got a good look into the hazel eyes. That's when he saw it. He saw Sam's soul shining out from his eyes, tear tracks trailing down his face, and that was when Bobby knew that it was him, knew that they had their Sam Winchester back. Bobby pulled Sam into a fierce hug.
That night Sammy, Dean, and Bobby gave thanks. Bobby gave thanks for the boy that had been returned to them, for missing piece being restored to the other boy, and for having his whole little family complete and returned to him.
Dean gave thanks for his brother being returned to him, mind, body and SOUL. He gave thanks that Bobby had stuck with them through thick and thin, and he gave thanks for being alive.
Sammy gave thanks for being freed from the cage, from hell, from torture, he gave thanks for being returned to his brother and surrogate father, and he gave thanks for being alive and whole once again.
This day was truly one of thanksgiving.