Sam stared at the TV without seeing what was actually on. The empty room seemed to match the hollow feeling inside him. November 2nd was always a bad date for the Winchesters, and this year was no exception. John had left around five, and by seven, Dean was also out the door, both off to drown their own memories. Taking a deep breath, Sam struggled to hold back the tears that threatened. He knew John felt he had nothing to miss, having no memories of his mother. But his father was wrong. Sam might not remember his mother's voice, or touch, but he knew from other children at school what a mother SHOULD be in his life. Dean did everything he could to help the void from being overwhelming, but Sam still felt something missing from his life. And since Dean had turned 16, he missed his brother more than anything. Since then, Dean had pushed to hunt more. And the more Dean pushed to hunt, the more Sam lost the closest thing to a mother he'd ever have. And this week? Not even the gentle encouragement hidden under teasing and soft cuffs to the back of the head he got when Dean was around. Nothing. For a week leading up to November 2 and a week after Sam was alone. It was a stark reminder of what he could face every time his father and brother left for a hunt. Now he knew that his brother would be back to what passed for normal in a few days. But the thought of this being his life, alone in an empty room, forever, almost drove Sam to the locked box under the sofa he was lying on. The box that contained the gun he'd been given by his father. And as much as Sam hated the life he led, and resented his father for expecting them to follow orders and disregarding everything else, Sam missed his father this week. John would return at some point. Drunk and pissed off before he ever laid eyes on either of his sons. The moment Sam heard the truck pull up he would retreat to his bed. This was the one time of year Sam would do anything to avoid a confrontation with his father. There was no limit on what John would do or say to Sam. This was not only the anniversary of his mother's death, it was also the anniversary of numerous painful exchanges that his father never remembered the next day. Like last year, when John actually came out and told Sam that his mother died for him. Or the year he was 10, telling his father that he missed his mother, too. That was the night he found out that John felt he had no right to mourn someone he didn't remember. For the next week a black eye reminded Sam that his pain over losing his mother had no place in his father's heart. Of course, his brother and father had no idea. The next morning he'd told them both he'd tripped over something in the bedroom. If his father really felt that way there was nothing to be gained by telling him what had really happened. Wouldn't change the way any of them felt. So he mourned the loss of his mother alone. And he spent the anniversary of her death desperately missing his brother and father.
John tossed another shot down his throat, hoping this one would be the one to make him forget. If only for a minute. But it never was. The bartender had taken his keys over a half hour ago and would most likely cut him off completely soon. This was always the day the hole in John felt like an entire canyon. Every single day his missed Mary. The way she looked at him in the morning, the way she smiled at him while she cooked dinner for him and Dean. The look in her eyes when she told him she loved him. He still turned to her on occasion, wondering what she would think of the way he was raising their boys, wanting desperately to ask her how she would handle a situation, or how to answer a question from their youngest. This time of year he wanted to ask her how he could possibly get up in the morning and go about living. Dean was almost an adult, and he needed John less and less every day. He was turning into a strong man, and an excellent hunter. Everything John knew he needed to be and everything John knew Mary would hate to see. Sam was still more child then man, but he made it clear on a daily basis that Dean was the one he needed. Not his father. Somewhere beyond the whiskey in John's blood was a voice that told him it was HIS fault Sam clung to his brother, but a small part of him actually resented his youngest. What the fuck did it say that a grown man, a father, resented his own child for simply struggling through a situation that same father had put him in. The drunken point in John's mind tonight was that it would be way too easy to miss a step on the next hunt. To join his wife. That his sons would survive the loss. But it wasn't fair, and John knew it. Life had robbed them of a mother, it would turn him into the worst kind of bastard if he removed himself from their lives on purpose. And the same part of him that resented Sam also resented himself for thinking that Sam turning to Dean meant that Sam didn't love his father. Both of his boys loved him. And he loved them. More than anything. John just wished that he could do more to fill the void Mary left in their lives. He desperately wished there was something that could begin to fill the void in his heart and soul that Mary left.
Dean smiled at the girl as she climbed out of the back seat of the Impala. There was no way in hell he was going to be able to drive home, but the car made a great place to take Cathy. Carrie. Cara. 30 seconds after she was gone he'd forgotten her name. Didn't matter. What mattered was for the last about 45 minutes he hadn't thought about his mother once. He'd managed to shove down the desolation and longing tonight, and that's all he needed. He had a few memories of his mother, more fleeting impressions then actual memories, but they were there. PB&J with the crusts cut off. Mom watching him eat with a smile on her face. Bath time, with bubbles and some green toy that might have been a boat. Hugs and kisses that he missed with everything in him. Dean knew what it was like to have all that. Okay, Hey Jude didn't exactly qualify as a lullabye, but that was his mother. Her voice soft as he drifted off to sleep. As much as Dean wished and longed for those memories, he truly mourned the fact that is baby brother had never known any of it. The few and fleeting memories were precious to him and the fact that Sam didn't even have that to draw from was a mixed blessing. Dean had done his best to give Sam as many of those types of memories as he could, but he knew that his childish attempts didn't compare to the actual feelings he carried inside. Sam. He should be home with him, trying to help him cope with a loss he only knew of from watching him and their father. But, dammit, Sam always wanted to talk about it, dig into those scars until Dean felt like he'd been gutted by a fucking Wendigo emotionally. And he just couldn't take it. Sighing, Dean dropped his head back on the seat. It wasn't fair to the younger boy, and he knew it. But these were the few times that he really wished his father would step up and handle things. And these were also the few times that John was least capable of it. He understood that Sam wanted to know. Hell, he wanted to know more than he did about the woman that was in their lives for such a short time. And gave her life to protect her baby. Dean still cursed John for actually telling Sam that. Sam never actually told Dean that John had told him, but Dean knew just from the fleeting questions that his brother would occasionally gather the balls to ask. And that wasn't fair, either. It shouldn't be a fucking test of nerve to ask a simple question about his mother. And it shouldn't cause their father to hide behind his anger and berate either of them for it. But it was the Winchester way. And as sorry as he was for it, a larger part of him just wished to God that Sam would get that. Tonight, of all nights, made him feel that he was failing Sam in some big way that he would live to regret. He knew damn well he was leaving his brother to drown emotionally tonight, but he just couldn't make himself stand up and handle it. So here he was, sitting in the back of the Impala, almost an entire case of beer gone, wondering why he had no memories of his mother in this car. It had been hers as well. But when he tried to picture her in the passenger seat- Sam's seat now- all he got was a blank. And it fucking sucked.
When the sun came up on November 3rd, the Winchester family was quiet. John was on the sofa, unable to make it to bed after the cab had dropped him off. Dean on his bed, turned towards the wall. Loud snores seemed to echo through the small rooms. Sam sat in the doorway between the living room and the bedroom, watching his father and brother sleep off the self induced medication to get through the night before. Circles under his eyes proved that he hadn't slept at all, but both surviving members of his family had been too drunk to notice as they stumbled in. His mind flowed quickly from hunts that might take them to a fire that took his mother and back. The thought of the gun in the box now under his sleeping father cleared his head. Not for the first time, Sam wondered if all of this horror and darkness would have happened if he'd never existed. And if it would stop if he ceased to exist.