Am I Thankful?

Summary: As Thanksgiving comes, Sam's asked a question that he hasn't given much thought to and as he does he realizes some things about Dean that he hadn't considered before that reminds him of what he has to thankful for. Thoughtful!Sam / Big brother Dean

Tags: No tags but it does have mentions of some things from season 7. This occurs between episodes 8 and 9.

Warnings: Mild for language.

Disclaimer: I don't own the boys. I write for fun and hope you guys enjoy them.

Author Note: A little Sam POV for Thanksgiving. It took a longer turn than I was expecting but then Sam decided to ponder a bit too much, lol.

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Sam's POV:

Am I thankful? Guess it's not an odd thing to be asked this time of year. Today I took the chance of walking from the motel down to this tiny little bookstore that I saw when Dean and I first arrived and as I was browsing this little old lady of probably around ninety asked me if I was thankful.

My first basic instinct is Leviathan or something equally evil…yeah, I've been in this line of work way too long but then she apologized and said she was just wondering since so many young people don't seem to be these days. Then she went on her way and I've been thinking ever since.

Am I thankful? Am I thankful that I have a soul again? That I can feel even though sometimes these days I wish I didn't feel quite so much? Yeah, definitely thankful for that.

Am I thankful that despite every thing I've done to him or caused to happen to him that my big brother is still willing to have anything to do with me…much less actually talk to me? Oh, yeah, I don't think I could ever not be thankful for Dean. Even though I know I don't show it as much as I once wanted to or should.

So now that I'm back in the motel with a few hours to kill alone, not something I'm very happy with for obvious reasons, I let myself think more on that innocent question. Am I thankful? These days I realize that I am far more thankful than I was years ago which is somewhat scary now that I think about it.

I didn't grow up in your regular household where Mom baked cookies…though Dean swears our Mom made some really good ones. Dad didn't work nine-to-five…hell, I was eight when I finally figured out what our Dad really did for a living.

I suppose when I was younger I was mainly thankful for my brother since I knew even as a child that Dean was the one who was raising me, protecting me and doing all the things that our Dad should've been. I didn't always have a lot to be thankful for toward my Dad and I guess that it showed since we didn't have a great father/son relationship from the time I hit thirteen to the night I left for school. That was when I realized how much I had taken things for granted…how much I had back then that I should've been thankful for and wasn't or didn't show it.

My first Thanksgiving at Stanford was…weird. New kid on campus with mostly just the clothes on my back and whatever money Dead slipped into my backpack. I hadn't met Jess yet or very many people so I spent that day and evening volunteering at a soup kitchen. It kept my mind off my problems since by leaving Dean and…home I hadn't allowed myself to think what else I was giving up.

I know I was probably the most selfish person Dean knew but he never said much, just listened to my whining about how it wasn't fair that Dad dragged us around with him or that I couldn't have the normal life that some of the kids I'd known in the schools I went to had.

It wasn't until I woke up that first Thanksgiving alone and realized that my brother wasn't there and wouldn't be that I began to understand that I should've been thankful for everything Dean gave up for me because it was always Dean who made certain we had food on the table and a roof over our heads even when Dad didn't come back on time.

That first year I almost called Dean a dozen times but stopped because I didn't want the hassle of dealing with Dad. When I got back to the dorm I found a box with a tiny stuffed Turkey and an envelope with a couple hundred in cash and I always wondered if maybe Dean had been there since the stuffed Turkey toys had been an inside joke of his since I was six and actually in a school play.

I had four holiday seasons away from my family…away from Dean and if I'm honest with myself even after I met Jess and would spend them with her family…it just wasn't the same. I hadn't realized until I spent a real Thanksgiving and then Christmas in a home with people who had always celebrated them in a traditional way that…I'd had it just as good if not better because I'd come to realize what Dean had been saying was right.

It didn't matter if Dad came home or not, it might not matter if we didn't have a full Thanksgiving spread with all the trimmings or anything else because we always had the most important thing, the thing that we should always be thankful that we did have…each other.

I knew then that I hadn't been thankful to my brother and it's been hard to make that up to him since we got back together to hunt over six years ago because it's just been one never ending roller coaster of problems, pain and heartache for both of us.

I'd asked Dean how he'd spent Thanksgiving and Christmas the time he thought I was in the Cage but he refuses to talk about it and I think I know how he spent that Christmas because I have a bad memory that I certainly could do without based on him that season.

This year since I have a soul again…damn that's still weird to think much less say, I know that Dean wanted to actually try to have a real Thanksgiving or at least have something resembling Turkey but with all the hassles over the Leviathans cloning us, to not knowing where Cas is to the stress between us recently and finally this latest little mess with Becky, I have little hope of is doing much except for hanging low in this tiny motel in this tiny town that Dean found, parked me in while he went to get the Impala.

Hell, I'll even be thankful to just have that back since I know it's been driving Dean nuts not to have the only car he's ever had since Dad gave him the keys at eighteen. It's more than just that though, especially for me. The Impala is…home. I grew up in it so the car has been more home and safe haven for me than any of the motels we stayed at or even the times Dad shipped us off to Bobby or Pastor Jim.

We had to hide the Impala after the clone mess and while he's been trying to cover it I still heard the relief in my brother's voice when he left to go get it since while it might be a necessary change to avoid using credit cards or the normal fake names we'd been using but neither of us can handle not having that one key thing with us anymore.

The day we hid it, I remember Dean's eyes and how he avoided looking at me while he rummaged in the trunk for what he said were things we might need. That small bag that I noticed he'd gone to great lengths to keep in his duffel was now sitting on the tiny table in the kitchen/dining area this room had as if daring me to snoop.

I'd been fourteen when I'd learned not to snoop in Dean's stuff but…he had left it out and he knows how I get when I'm on edge and bored.

It's been awhile since I've been this nervous to be alone but that run in with Becky reminded me that it's not just monsters or demons you have to watch out for. Of course I know Dean still wants to go shoot her so I'm trying to keep my mouth shut but sharing a room also means he knows the nightmares are hitting so to avoid thinking about them and the fact that it's getting later and Dean's not back yet I choose to be thankful that I can still snoop in my big brother's stuff and… "Oh, no way."

I was expecting to find some of Dean's Busty Asian Beauties magazines or whatever the hell else my brother might hide from me but when I reached into the smaller bag I wasn't expecting to pull out a yellowed piece of paper with something that looked like a mutated turkey on it and then I realized what it was and sat down to dump the rest of the contents out, feeling my eyes get wider.

When I was smaller and in grade school the teacher at whatever school I was in always had us do art projects for the holidays and even though I knew that my Dad just considered the stuff junk to be left behind since we couldn't drag along every little thing or so he said, I still made the stuff.

The drawing of a turkey was made the same year that I was in some school play for Thanksgiving. I wasn't sure what Dean got a bigger laugh out of, the drawing or my costume but either way I thought the drawing got tossed out when Dad moved us the next week.

Looking through the things that Dean clearly considered important to keep I also see a snapshot of me dressed in that stupid turkey costume and on the back I recognize Dean's handwriting, something he must've written when he got older, and the words 'Little turkey Sammy stole the show.'

I barely recall that time and what I do recall is crying because Dad hadn't made it but once again it was Dean who made me laugh and forget my disappointment. He also made the tiny store bought precooked chicken we had seem like a feast but then my big brother always could do that.

Going through the rest of what he had saved from my childhood, I noticed that it was mostly stuff I'd made, my report cards, a few letters from teachers, a couple wrinkled drawings that I thought Dad had pitched only to realize now that Dean must've pulled 'em from the trash to keep them. Nearly everything in here was mine with only a couple things were from his past which again reminded me of just how thankful I should be because if it wasn't for Dean…

I was just putting the things back in the bag when I see the envelope addressed to Dad from Dean's last high school which takes me back to the screaming match between my brother and Father over Dean dropping out because of poor grades and missing transcripts. Knowing I was pushing the level of snooping even I was willing to do, I open it to see a parent consent form to allow a child to drop out that seemed to be signed by my Dad along with a letter from the principal stating that she wished Mr. Winchester would reconsider his decision of pulling Dean from High School on his senior year since his grades that term were mostly…

Blinking at the grades on the paper I'm seeing low A's and high B's which would've allowed my brother to graduate even if we'd moved more that year yet the story I'd heard was that Dean dropped out due to bad grades. Dean…didn't drop out because of bad grades and I know even as I'm looking at the paper that this isn't my Dad's handwriting. It's Pastor Jim's.

Leaning back in the chair I feel my head start to hurt from the concussion I still have. Dean dropping out left a huge gap between him and Dad even though it allowed him to hunt more with Dad which gave me the chance to study more and…son of a bitch. There it was and it's only taken me how long to see it?

My brother dropped out of school not because of his grades or missing records that would keep him back a year or so but so I'd be able to spend more time studying my own work and getting the grades that allowed me to earn that full ride to Stanford. Dean knew that if he hadn't given more time to Dad, if he hadn't taken up the slack for me that I never would've gotten out and that was what he said he wanted for me.

More times then he knew I heard did I hear Dean tell Caleb that he didn't give a damn what Dad did to ruin or rule his life but he wanted me out. That he didn't want his little brother to go down the same path so it didn't matter what he'd given up just so I was safe.

Once upon a time I hated the night that Dean showed up in Stanford to drag me back into this crap. I had honestly considered living the normal life before realizing that nothing is normal or at least this is as normal as what I'd probably ever have and that in some way Dean saved my life again by showing up. He gave me a life by giving up his when he left school because that sealed his fate as a hunter and I have learned some things since that tell me that Dean's life after I left wasn't that good so while I was at school making plans for a future he was struggling just to live day to day most times.

I was asked once at Stanford in an Ethics class who in my life was I most thankful to have had or known or who influenced me the most. Without a doubt of hesitance I answered my brother because I grew up from the age of four wanting to me just like my big brother. Dean taught me every damn thing I knew, he gave me the strength and courage to try for college and then to leave even though it hurt him that I left the way I did.

My brother has saved my life more times than I can count, he's been there for me at times when no other sane person would've tried to be. He's gone to Hell for me and I still wish he'd come clean about all that but since I know I still have stuff kept from him I guess I can't say too much but…

The last thing I pick up to be put back before I decide to call his cell is a letter addressed to me and I see by the date that it was the last Thanksgiving I spent in Stanford with Jess…the one where I finally realized that maybe her family just wasn't my cup of tea.

I know now or suspected that Dean had been close since I'd come home from class to find that dumb stuffed bird and an unsigned card with money in it…I honestly never want to know how he kept coming up with that money because Dad would've killed him if he thought he'd lost in at pool or cards. Now, as I put the bag back on the table as he left it to take the letter back to my bed, I noticed the faded spots of what I know by heart to be blood and read not only what he wrote but also what he didn't

"'Hey, Sammy. I left the usual on your door. I was going to hang around this year so we could spend Turkey Day together for a change since I have no clue what Dad's hunting or where and Caleb's off with Jim but…I saw you with the little blond and I was told after asking around a little that you'd probably be spending it with her family so…I just want to say have a good one, little brother and I…hope you find what you've always wanted. Take care. Dean.'"

That translated into Dean was hurt probably on a damn hunt, Dad was MIA as usual and Caleb was busy so it was bad enough that my normally tougher than nails big brother had come to me only to see Jess and pull back and then decide against leaving the letter because he knew I'd read between those lines and go after him just to be sure he was alright.

Am I thankful? Yes, but mostly I'm thankful to still have Dean and to know that he'll have my back just like I'll always have his even if it means a few more of those chick flick moments he hates.

I'm debating on a movie to watch when I finally hear the one sound that I'd know anywhere. Someone once told Dean that the exhaust on the Impala needed fixed. I thought my brother would kill the guy but then I was close to it because every single sound in the car reminds me of being a kid riding in the backseat with Dean then riding shotgun next to him. The rattling legos in the heater, the exhaust, the way the one side of the backseat squeaks…it's all home to me. Today, that car and Dean along with Bobby are what I'm most thankful for.

"Baby's back and I have food!" Dean sounds happy for the first time in a long time and I don't want to ruin that so I'm in the process of slipping the letter under my pillow when a hand catches mine and I know by the force of the blown out breath that he knows what I've been doing. "Got bored, Sam?"

I could lie or make excuses but all of that is what helped to cause the strain that's so often between us so I don't. "Why didn't you stay that time, Dean?" I ask even though I know the answer I'll probably get. "How bad were you hurt and why did you think that just cause I was with Jess I wouldn't want to see my brother?"

"Minor cut on my arm and a couple cracked ribs," he tells me which in Dean speak means probably a two inch gash that he stitched himself and broken ribs along with a possible concussion. "You looked happy with her, Sammy. Why should I show up and ruin that by reminding you of where you come from?"

Seven years ago the me who was applying to law schools probably would've understood that and even appreciated it. Today just hearing those words come out of Dean make me mad because after everything I've been through between the Cage with Lucifer and Michael, to being without a soul and knowing what that side of me if capable of, to dying in Cold Oak to everything else I've finally come to one final understanding that truly makes me realize what I have to be thankful for.

Pushing off the bed I'm across the room before I even realize it and before Dean expects it because his eyes show both surprise and caution when he pauses in setting out the food containers he's brought home with him when I do something I haven't…Hell, I don't even know how long it's been since I catch him by the shoulders to initiate eye contact.

"I know where I come from, Dean," I tell him, knowing his waiting for some stupid remark so I'm a little careful here since I know this could go either way. "I come from Mary and John Winchester. I come from two people who loved each other enough to give me and you life. I come from a life of hell but I coped and I got through it to go on to be the man I am because of you," I feel him tense and guess I'm pushing the line of his no chick flick moments rule but ignore it because this time I need him to know and understand that I mean it. "You raised me, you taught me and you sacrificed for me so I know where I came from, Dean and you have no idea how much I wanted you those years at school.

"I would've given up any of those so-called normal things just to have been able to spend that time with my big brother and I still would," I'm turning to give him space only to feel strong fingers catch my shoulder then I blink at the full hug since normally Dean only starts those when something's bad has happened to one of us. This time I feel him shake a little before he covers that to hold the moment a little longer then he gives a light shove with a mutter about chick flick moments and over emotional little brothers and I smile.

Knowing I'll wait awhile before asking him about why he really dropped out of high school, I catch the plate of food and realize I'm looking at what looks like honest to God leftovers or stuff from a really classy restaurant since most of the places we eat wouldn't have real Turkey, homemade dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy and a couple sides I know he got just to make me gag.

"Saw this place on the way back and figured I'd get real food since I guessed your stomach still wouldn't want diner food," Dean must have seen me looking and coughed to cover what he knew could turn chick flicky if he let it. "Let it go, Sammy," he warned then lifted his fork to add. "Though for Christmas, we're heading to Bobby because we're not spending it in a damn motel."

Again Dean speak means that he's not letting me spend another Christmas in a motel since that's where we spent most of ours…including one of the last we celebrated together before he went to Hell.

Nodding, my head's still hurting so I don't feel like eating right then but I manage enough to make him happy because I know what ultra protective big brother is like is I don't eat. "Dean? Can we watch a movie later?" I'd picked one and decided to see if he'd go for it or make his normal comments. "I know it's sort of a Christmas one and it's just Thanksgiving but…"

"What movie and we'll talk?" Dean responds, spearing a black olive even though I know he's already eyeing the whole pie he'd brought back. "Are Pagan Santas getting blown up?"

I have to laugh even though that memory is still painful since it hurt to have that nail yanked out but I shake my head 'no'. "Only we blow up a Pagan Santa, Dean," I tell him then just decide to drop it on him. "The Christmas Cottage…it's about that painter who…"

"Saammy," I know by the near whine that Dean'll give in after he's moaned about it so I stretch out on the bed to wait it out when Dean surprises me by coming over to sit on my bed with a beer and a soft drink along with pain meds for the headache he knows I still have. "Fine, you can watch it even if I think the actor who stars in it is a little wussy looking."

Refusing to be baited by that since I know Dean's taste in movies doesn't match mine, I'm already turning it on over his good natured teasing about the guy on TV looking like a girl with that haircut when I feel his hand gripping my neck like he's started doing again.

It's an old thing between us since it used to be the only way Dean could offer support or let me know he was there without Dad yelling about coddling me. I know he hadn't been doing it the time I was soulless and had only recently started again but even after the events with Becky have left me raw with memories of other times in my life that small gesture still makes me feel safe and I know my brother will always have my back.

Dean fell asleep halfway through the movie but I don't bother to wake him up or try to move him yet since I'm not sleepy. I pick at the pie while finishing the movie then glance toward the bag I see that he's sat back by his duffel to go back inside the Impala's trunk.

As Thanksgiving comes to a close and I think again on that old woman's question I smile. Am I thankful? I have a crotchety old hunter who likes to call Dean and me idjits, I still have the only home I've ever been really comfortable in and above all else I still have my big brother. A man that I know would still kill for me just like I would for him so…yes, I am very thankful.

"Happy Thanksgiving, Dean."

The End