"Sam?" the teacher stopped him as he went to leave after school, a small hand on his arm. Mrs Bidden was unbelievably tiny for a 26 year old woman, almost shorter than the thirteen year olds she taught.
"Uh, yeah miss?" He cleared his throat. "Is this important? Because I'm supposed to be going straight home so..." she smiled warmly and Sam decided that Dean could wait a minute. Not only was she possibly the shortest adult Sam had met, she was also the kindest. She had the type of eyes the books he read would refer to as 'old', meaning they looked wiser than they should. Whatever she wanted wouldn't take too long.
"I just want to steal a couple more minutes of your time to ask why you didn't read out your mother's day story! You have such a talent with words, I was just surprised that's all." She seemed genuinely confused and he flushed. Of course it was that stupid assignment she wanted to know about. 'Write about your mothers' she had said. 'Tell me everything you love about them, and anything you don't. Stories and traditions that come with your family's mother's day.' and then she had spent the rest of the day listening to the class read them out loud.
He supposed there was no point beating about the bush, so he pulled the crumpled piece of paper out of his bag and shoved it towards her.
She ignored it.
"The rest of the class read it out loud Sam, even Hannah." Hannah was so shy she nearly fainted while reading it out, and Mrs Bidden excused her to go sit outside after she had done it. "So you can too." He hated it when adults actually played fair.
"It's not exactly what you asked for." He warned, but she just smiled encouragingly. He cleared his throat.
"When people tell me about their mothers, or their fathers, they tell me how loving they are. They complain about rules, and chores, and getting told off, but there's always love. Love and laughter and memories." He paused not wanting to read out the next bit.
"C'mon Sam. I won't tell anyone if it's too sappy." there was that smile again, and those old eyes in her young face. He didn't realise he looked the same, still short, with the same colour brown hair, and those same kind of eyes. Old. Wise beyond his years.
"And so when I think love and laughter and memories, it's your face that I think of, of course. Because you were the one who raised me and took care of me, and kept me happy and safe and sound." His earliest memory was him pressed into Dean's side as they watched cartoons, and then Dean turns to smile at him, and wraps an arm round his shoulder with a laugh.
"You taught me how to walk and talk, and read and write. You helped me tie my shoes, and work a knife and fork. You gave me the last of all the good food, and watched cartoons with me when you could, and played games when I got bored. You fixed my scrapes, nursed me when I was sick, and held me close when I got scared. You taught me manners, and how to ride a bike, you helped me with homework and listened to me babble about anything and everything that came into my head. You put me first always always always, and you always always always will." Which was true. Dean had told him that more times than Sam could count, on those nights when Sam gets scared that one day Dean was going to go on a hunt and not come back, leaving him alone.
Mrs Bidden looks incredibly touched, and Sam hated the feeling that squirmed in his gut when he realised why. She's touched because she thinks he's so filled with love and words and warmth for his mother, a ghost of a woman he can't remember.
"And I know that other kids Mom's and Dad's do the same thing. Except you aren't my mom, because she died so many years ago. And you aren't my dad, because unlike him you're always here, always constant. You aren't them but you're what they should be which is good enough for me." He finishes and - what the hell?! Is she crying?!
Mrs Bidden's eyes are suspiciously watery and Sam feels like the worst kind of asshole, because he made the shortest, nicest adult ever cry, all because he wrote something awful. He had been careful not to mention how Dean taught him to swear and spit and shoot and fight, and careful not to mention the family business, but he must have slipped up somewhere. Why else would she be-
"I'm sorry that your mother passed away Sam. I didn't know." That hand was back, but it wasn't warm like before. Instead it nearly burnt his skin through his shirt, because she was apologising about a woman he loved, but had never really known, and he didn't know what to say.
"I don't advertise it." It was the shortest he had ever been with her, and he cursed how grumpy he sounded when he just felt really, really awkward. At least she didn't seem offended - too busy going over Sam's stupid story and mentally picking it apart no doubt. Sam would have been doing the same thing so he didn't resent her for it.
Resent the entire situation sure, but not Mrs Bidden.
"It was a beautiful story Sam. But if it wasn't about one of your parents, may I ask who? An aunt? Uncle? Grandparent?" Those old eyes weren't watery anymore, but they were sympathetic and warm. Puppy eyes goddammit. Those were impossible to resist – another thing Dean had taught him.
Just as he opened his mouth to tell her the letter was for and about his brother, the sound of footsteps approached the door, and he turned to stare, waiting. He knew those footfalls better than his own - it was Dean's 'I'm slightly worried because you didn't go where you were supposed to, but I'm not gonna show it' walk. Sam heard that one a lot. Mostly because he deliberately messed with his brother, but whatever.
In an instant, said brother appeared in the doorway, eyes locking in on where Sam stood off to the side of his teacher's desk. His amulet was hanging mostly to one side and Sam felt a little bad, because that meant Dean had had a rough day, and had worried the small charm because of it. His not showing up at the impala after school was probably the last thing Dean needed.
"Sammy, there you are. Thought I told you to come straight to the car after school today?" He arched a lazy brow and Sam flicked a glance at his teacher to a) convey it wasn't his fault, and b) see if she had figured it out on her own. Judging by the understanding lighting her face, she had.
"Sorry Dean. Miss just wanted to talk to me about one of my assignments." He shrugged, before smiling at his teacher, the look that Dean called his 'I am actually a devious little shit, but I look so angelic no one believes it' face.
"Mrs Bidden, this is my brother Dean." He introduced them, and she wondered if either brother heard the note of pride in Sam's voice.
Probably not she decided.
"Nice to meet you. I'm sorry for keeping Sam when you were waiting for him." She smiled at Dean, and when he grinned cockily back, she had to remind herself she was happily married.
"No problem Sweetheart. But we gotta get going, so if you're done with him...?" He made it seem like a question, but Sam heard the dismissal behind it. He sometimes wondered how Dean had managed to teach Sam manners when he didn't have any of his own.
"Right. That's fine. I'll see you tomorrow Sam." She turned to smile at the boy and he said goodbye back, before crossing the room to his brother. Dean waved a quick goodbye and then put his arm around Sam, who was already talking. She heard laughter ring out as the brothers walked off, and spotted a piece of paper lying on the floor where Sam had been standing.
The boy had evidently dropped the story as his brother arrived, and she picked it up to skim over it absently. Right at the bottom were some words he hadn't read out loud, and when she took them in, she gave a small sigh.
'You aren't them but you're what they should be which is good enough for me. You aren't them, but in some ways I think you're a lot better. Because mother's day and father's day come once a year, but I can celebrate being siblings with you whenever I want. Even though you're a jerk, and you aren't them, I wouldn't have anything any other way. So when other kids think of their parents for love and laughter and memories, I think of you.