Dean picked it up at a yard sale partly as another "nesting" joke, but his enthusiasm faded a bit when he realized that Sam wouldn't actually get it.
Sam wouldn't remember the red-and-white checkered cookbook, its cover worn and pages marred by years of careless spilling, that had lay open on the kitchen counter between him and Mom while she stirred the thick, powdery batter in a glass bowl. Dean remembered touching the shiny, smooth tabs between the cookbook sections, remembered his mom's lithe, bare arms and her blonde hair, and kicking the heels of his feet against the underside of the counter.
Dean remembered, "You could help, John!" and, "What am I, Betty friggin' Crocker?" and a playful whap from a spatula that ended with Mom's laughter like music and sunlight.
He remembered the smell of newspaper and a clean table, and Dad's face, the way it looked before he quit smiling.
So many memories that Sam didn't share, all dredged up by a stupid red-and-white checkered cookbook.
By the time Sam had been old enough to sit at the table for Sunday morning pancakes, there was no such thing anymore. Mom was dead, and Dad was silent and on-edge, and breakfast was cold milk in cornflakes.
He paid two bucks for it, and stopped by the grocery store on the way home.
"We're having pancakes for dinner!" he yelled over the rustle of plastic bags, barging in through the bunker on his way toward the kitchen.
Sam barely looked up from the spread of books laid out on the table in front of him. "That's not a euphemism, is it?"
Dean set the bags down heavily on the counter and walked back around the doorway to give Sam a dirty look. "A what?"
"Are you really making pancakes, or is that some kind of weird porn thing that I don't want to know about?
"What? God, Sam. Get a life, why don't you."
Sam grinned and leaned his head back against his hand, going back to his book. "Just making sure."
Dean shook his head and went back to unpack the plastic bags, setting out flour, milk and eggs, and all the other things he'd picked up. He was secretly loving the fact that Sam seemed to be wearing that shit-eating grin so damn much since they'd landed in the bunker. Everything was pretty close to perfect. He had his own room. His nerdy little brother was buried in a stack of books. Kevin was on top of cracking the mother of all Hell spells.
So that's right, dammit. He was going to make pancakes. No half-assed, insta-magic, just-add-water mix here. He was going to Betty friggin' Crocker this bitch.
He checked the index for the recipe, then let the pages settle open in their utilitarian three-ring binding, the edges of the aged pages crinkled from disuse. Dean stood for a moment, his palms spread flat on the counter, just staring at it.
His mom's hands. Mom's hands on his knees bent like chubby lumps over the ledge of the counter. Mom's fingers threading through his. Mom's smile. He remembered, "You wanna help mama measure?"
"Hey, Sam," Dean called suddenly, still staring at the page. "C'mere."
Sam appeared a moment later, hanging out in the doorframe with his arms folded over his chest.
"Is this another 'nesting' thing?" he asked skeptically.
Dean waved him over. "This," he said, swooping his hand over the open page of the cookbook, the bag of flour, and all the rest of the ingredients, "is Mom's Sunday morning pancake recipe."
Sam raised his eyebrows, looking honestly intrigued. "Yeah?" He came over to lean next to Dean against the counter, touching the page and turning it toward him to inspect it almost reverently. "Where'd you get this?"
"Doesn't matter. It's the same book she used. I remember her pulling this thing off the shelf every Sunday. Surprised she didn't have it memorized."
He glanced up with careful appraisal at Sam and saw him nod in an overly casual way, his eyes shielding what Dean knew was a whole web of issues all tangled up with loss and abandonment that he'd never even begin to unravel. He'd always tried to be everything and everyone for Sam. But it didn't change the fact that Sam had gotten cold cereal instead of pancakes, an absent father instead of two parents who loved him. Discipline instead of reassurance. Sam had never had Dean's Sunday mornings, and there was no making up for that.
Still... it was his cookbook now. Their kitchen. Their traditions.
"So, what do say we start something like that? Like... Tuesday night pancakes?" he said, bringing the large mixing bowl over between them.
"Just for no reason?"
"Yeah." Dean shrugged. "Tuesdays suck. Might as well jazz 'em up a bit."
He watched as a slow smile spread over Sam's face, the tightness lessening from around his eyes. "Yeah. Sure. That sounds great, actually."
Dean picked up one of the measuring cups and handed it to Sam. "You, uh, wanna help me measure?"
A/N: mb64 asked for happy, fluffy bunker fic! Sweetie, this is for you :-) Sorry it's just the teeeensiest bit angsty.