What Makes A Father?

Summary: 1-shot. A glimpse into a few times Father's Day passed for the Winchesters until Sam comes to his own conclusion on what exactly makes a father. Has flashbacks to the present day after the Finale for season 8. *Upset/mopey!Sam at times & Comforting/big brother!Dean*

Warnings/Spoilers: None really as far as warnings go but it may have a few spoilers for the Finale.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything. This is written for enjoyment.

Author Note: So, I'm working on CH 5 for Fangs and Fury when this one comes up and since it is Father's Day today I decided to go for it. Now, while my feelings for John have mellowed since I began writing, this one came out this way and while certainly not a bad John story since he doesn't even make a physical appearance it's more of a disinterested John. If that makes sense.

SPN SPN SPN SPN

Flashback, 1989:

"Where's Dad?"

Ten year old Dean Winchester had been avoiding that question the entire day and hoping that his six year old little brother would get the hint but so far no such luck.

Their dad had been gone on a hunt for over a week and while he had left them with Jim Murphy this trip it still didn't change the fact that Sam knew it was Father's Day and so far John Winchester had yet to make an appearance or even call.

"Dean, where's Dad?" the little boy turned from the window he was staring out to give his brother one of those soulful looking puppy eyes that was next to impossible for Dean to ignore. "He knows it's his day, right?"

Looking up to see the grim look on Pastor Jim's face along with the slight shake of his head gave Dean all the answer he needed as he pasted a smile on his face before sitting next to his brother. "Sure he does, Sammy," he began easily, hating the lies he had to tell his brother but refusing to let the boy be hurt more by the truth. "His job's just taking longer to finish so he…might not be back but you can give him the card when he does come."

Since Sam didn't know the truth of what John really did it was always up to Dean to cover for his absences or long trips away or like today when their Dad forgot it was Father's Day and that he promised to spend it with his sons for once.

"C'mon, it's not raining now and Pastor Jim said we could go fishing off the dock," Dean watched his brother's little face turn bright at the chance to fish with him and kept his own smile on until Sam ran to find his sneakers.

The smile faltered only a little because while Dean hated his Dad not being there he also accepted that even if he had been it still would've been Dean that spent the day with Sam because John always seemed to find other things to do.

Fathers were supposed to spend time with their sons. They were supposed to be the ones who tucked their boys into bed, told them stories, killed the monster spider that Sam was convinced would eat him and show up on one lousy day to get the card Sam spent a week in school trying to make.

Two days later after a call finally came to report that he'd be another week at the most, Dean picked the card out of the trash to place it carefully in the bottom of his duffel bag with any of the other cards Sam had made their Dad but he'd never been there to get.

Flashback: 1993:

"You think he'll be home tonight?"

Since Sam had learned the truth of what their Dad really did, it was harder to fake it but still John had even promised Dean that he'd be home on this Father's Day and so he gave a smile was running a small blade over his whetstone.

"Dad'll be home, Sammy," he assured his ten year old brother but didn't miss the frown or the eye roll which meant Sam didn't believe it. "Did you buy the card?"

Sam had been saving what little money he had to buy a card this year and had taken nearly forty-five minutes in the small drugstore in the tiny town they were parked in to pick out just the right one.

"Yeah, it's over there with the cupcake," Sam nodded to the tiny table in the kitchen as he sidled up close to his older brother. "What time do you think he'll get here?"

At fourteen, it was harder to have patience with Sam's questions but today Dean bit his lip because he knew his brother had been looking forward to it.

Sam and John didn't always get along, especially since Sam liked school and hated moving but he'd been making an actual effort in the last month to try to learn things that John…or mostly Dean had been teaching him.

Before their Dad left them in the motel this time to go hunt something a few states away, he'd been impressed enough with Sam that he promised to actually take him for ice cream today when he got back.

Dean understood though that while the treat was a rare thing, Sam was happier with just spending the time with their Dad on something that didn't involve hunting.

Two hours later when there was no sign of John and Dean had run out of weapons to clean, he went looking for his brother.

Sam had stopped looking for their Dad about an hour ago and had retreated back to the room they shared to pretend he was reading but Dean knew his little brother too well.

The kid had learned a little how to hide his tears but the fact that the book was upside down gave it away as the older brother walked over to pick his wallet up from the dresser.

John had left him with money for food, rent and other essentials but Dean was only to aware of how fast that ran out if he wasn't careful and a quick look told Dean the funds were close to that point.

A shaky sigh that was half sigh and half muffled sob made up his mind even before he was turning to toss Sam a clean shirt.

"C'mon, let's get outta here," he pocketed some of the money, figuring he could pick up an odd job cutting grass to make up for it.

"And go where?" Sam was at that point when he was upset that he was pouty but a chance to go out with his big brother always seemed to cheer him up.

"Burgers and ice cream," Dean smiled, surprised that this smile was coming more freely these days or whenever he still needed to cover for their dad. "Beats the questionable leftovers in the fridge."

Sam's hazel eyes lit up but he still hesitated. "What…what if Dad comes and we're not here?" he asked, knowing they'd get in trouble but relaxing a little as Dean shrugged.

"I'll leave a note. He'll probably get home right after us," though he had his doubts the longer it went but he wasn't about to admit that to Sam just then. "Come on, Sammy. You want ice cream, right?"

The thin little arms that had wrapped themselves around his waist gave Dean all the answer he needed and he lightly ran a hand down over his brother's hair before nudging him away with a comment about chick flick moments.

Two days later found Dean tucking yet another card in his duffel while ignoring the muffled sobs on the bed because while John had come home the day after his mood had been grim due to a hunt gone bad and had merely chastised his son for wasting money on a card and little cupcake.

Sitting beside Sam to offer what soothing words he could while ignoring the voice of his father out in the main room on the phone with Bobby about yet another hunt, Dean closed his eyes tightly.

Fathers were supposed to be the one who brushed away or soothed their son's tears. They stayed up with them while sick or rocked away the nightmares of a little boy too small to know what really existed in the dark. They should be saving every card or tiny gift before the child in question grew too big to care anymore.

Flashback, 1999:

"Is he coming back tonight?"

The bitterness was plain and Dean was too tired and sore to even dispute it this year so he pulled a pillow over his face to try to block out his now very annoying pain in the ass little brother.

At sixteen, Sam had shot to nearly as tall as or slightly taller than his older brother but on days like this it was like he was five years old except his anger and bitterness was a lot more pronounced.

Father's Day had yet rolled again; sometimes Dean wished the damned day would fall off the calendar and yet again John Winchester had been off on some hunt and decided some damn spirit was more important than spending it with his sons.

Normally they might've gone with him but Dean had been hurt on a hunt last week and since John had made no excuse that it had somehow been Sam's fault he'd banished both boys to the motel or so Dean had told Sam.

Actually Dean had ignored the concussion, the broken ribs and dislocated shoulder to get in his Dad's face when he said he was taking Sam with him to show him how to hunt properly.

Knowing how his Dad could be while on a hunt made up the twenty year old hunter's mind that Sam was staying with him. Plus he was also aware that Sam and their Dad hadn't been able to be in the car together much less on a hunt without Dean there to break up the fights ever since Sam turned sixteen last month.

"Dean? Is Dad making it back tonight or not?" Sam persisted this time, sounding too loud to be across the room which meant he wanted an answer no matter how much it hurt them.

"No, Sammy," he finally replied, moving the pillow enough to speak but not enough that he'd have to see his little brother's face. "I'm…sorry. He…called this morning and said he might not be back until next week. Sam?"

He groaned as he heard the bedroom door close, not slam, but he knew that was only because Sam knew his head would fall off if he slammed it as he stormed out.

For nearly sixteen years Dean seemed to be the one picking up the pieces of his brother's heart every year when it broke on this day because even though Sam and their Dad fought like cats and dogs these days he knew the teenager still wanted to at least have one damn day when they could pretend to be normal.

Fathers were supposed to want to spend the day with their sons. They were supposed to want to toss a damn ball to them, teach them to ride a bike, or fish, drive…though Dean dreaded the thought of teaching his brother to drive but like everything else in Sam's life it looked like it would be Dean who had that job as well.

Despite his pounding head and aching body, he smirked under the pillow as he thought about it. Hell, he'd been the one to teach his brother to walk, to talk, to ride a bike or fish.

It had been Dean who had been doing for Sam all the things their Dad should've been doing and while he missed spending Father's Day with John too he suddenly realized that he hadn't really cared about it in more than ten years.

He didn't care because he'd been too busy helping Sam get through the day and picking up the pieces. Dean regretted that his Dad didn't know what he was missing by choosing to hunt rather than really get to know Sam because he doubted if anyone who ever really understand his little brother like he did.

Dean fell asleep with those thoughts and woke up once the bedroom got cool since they were in Florida in June and it only got cool when it got dark.

Pushing the pillow off his face, a look to the bed next to him told him that Sam had gone to bed but the tense shoulders and the way his brother was laying also told him that he'd be waking up.

Wanting food and another dose of painkillers, Dean managed to sit up without groaning and waking his brother when the tray on the nightstand caught his eye.

A turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato had been wrapped in plastic to keep the annoying flies away while a can cozy kept the can of soda almost chilled. Two pain pills were laid out next to a glass of water but it was the card that made him frown.

Not wanting to turn the light on, Dean shifted so the light from the window would be enough to see by as he slid it out of the envelope and felt his chest tighten.

He hadn't thought Sam had bought a card this year because he hadn't mentioned it but as he ran a finger over it Dean realized his brother had made this card on his computer and on the front he made out an image of the Impala and of them together.

The front should've had 'Happy Father's Day' on it but was empty except for the words 'Happy' and Day on it but it was when Dean opened it that he shot a glance over to see that Sam was still sleeping before blinking on the handwritten message inside.

"'What makes a Father? There are a lot of rules for that but Pastor Jim always said it was the person in your life that loved you without condition. It was the person that took the time to teach you the things you needed to know to grow up and that loved and protected you no matter what you do wrong.

"'I love Dad because he's…Dad and I suppose I have to but he'd not who raised me. He's not who taught me everything I know…and who'll teach me to drive the Impala. He's not who tries to keep me safe even when I push you away or gripe about it and he's not the one who's spent every Father's Day or so trying to make it normal for me.

"'I know he's your Dad too and I'm sorry he's missed all these times with you too but I'm glad you're my big brother, Dean and I'm glad you're always here with me so I thought since you've kept all the other cards that you deserved one of your own finally. Love, Sammy.'"

Swallowing a couple times to get rid of the lump in his throat, Dean read the card again before looking over to see that Sam still seemed to be asleep but he could tell by the way he was breathing that he was awake and waiting.

Standing a little shakily to go to his duffel to place the card in with all the others he'd saved from the trash over the past years, Dean kept his back turned while brushing a hand over his face to wipe away the tears that had come.

Only his annoying little brother could cause his walls of no emotion to crack but then Sam was also the only person that Dean would let them down enough for as well.

Going back to the bed, he stopped before easing down on his to ran a gentle hand over Sam's shoulder before coming to rest on his neck and squeezing it gently. "Thanks, Sammy," he whispered.

Present, 2013:

"Dean?"

Looking up from the book he'd been trying for an hour to make sense off, Dean glanced up to see Sam leaning on the edge of the table. "You okay?"

Sam had been recovering slowly from not completing the third trial and had his good days and bad. Today so far he'd been sleeping without issue so Dean had gone to the main room to try to figure out some books Kevin had tossed his way.

Now as he looked, he could see that Sam had some color back but something seemed to be bothering his brother. "What's wrong?"

"No…nothing except…" Sam seemed to hesitate a little while running a finger over another book before sitting down to slid a bag toward his brother. "I…sent Kevin out for…this cause we don't have anything to make it with plus…they had pie and…"

Shooting Sam a confused look, Dean opened the bag to see a turkey sandwich with tomato and lettuce, a soda, a pie of apple pie and a card and he mentally began trying to figure this out before it hit him and he had to force his hands not to shake.

"I…know it may seem stupid or silly but…after all this, after everything we've been through…well, I just wanted to…y'know…you still take care of me," Sam chewed his bottom lip while avoiding the look he was sure he was getting for this. "I know you miss Dad…I do too but…I just wanted to say…thanks or…"

Reading the card, store bought but had a shakily written note inside, Dean swallowed again and this time didn't bother to hide the tears welling up as he stood to go sit in the chair closest to Sam to reach out slowly.

"You are still and will forever be an awesome little brother, Sammy," he began, placing his hand on the back of Sam's neck like he'd been doing more of lately. "I wish Dad had really known that and hadn't missed all those Father's Days with you but I'll always remember them and I'll always be there to look out for you."

Dean tugged a little until Sam moved and he gave his brother a firm hug while shooting the smirking Prophet a death glare of warning until he vanished, breaking the gesture only when he felt Sam shift a little.

"How about we ditch Kevin and go find some burgers and ice cream?" Dean held his smile until he caught Sam's brighter look and nodded to the bag. "We'll save the pie for later while you're figuring out this damn book."

Sam laughed but relaxed more easily as he nodded, sitting back while Dean shouted for Kevin to man the bunker for a couple hours and not to blow it up.

He'd gone through a lot of Father's Days since the year he was sixteen but since that time he'd stopped worrying if his Dad was there or not because as far as Sam was concerned Dean was the man who'd raised him and it would be his big brother that he always sent cards to or silly notes when he was at Stanford.

Even this year, not knowing what would happen, Sam still wanted to spend this time with his brother because while blood gave him his Father, it was his brother that truly gave meaning to that word to him and he prayed that never changed.

"Dean? Can I drive?" he decided to try and wasn't surprised at the short laugh he got in return.

"Not until you can stay awake for more than two hours at a time, little brother," Dean returned, tossing the keys into the air while nudging Sam out the door. "Kevin made me swear to bring him back something so remind me and you can have sprinkles."

Sam relaxed more as he watched Dean slip the card later that night into his duffel where he knew he still kept every other card or paper Sam had ever given him or that he thought was important and knew they were okay for yet another year.

The End