Author's Notes- Pure fun. You know you love it.
Hus-tle- verb. Slang. To misrepresent one's skill in (a game or activity) in order to deceive someone, especially in gambling: hustle pool.
"…And don't you ever touch my woman again!"
Sam jumped to the left, wincing as a beer bottle whistled hollowly through the air, past his head, and shattered upon the ground, inches from the feet of its intended target. Behind him, the greasy, pot-bellied biker lifted a hairy arm, middle finger rigid and pointing to the starry sky, then turned and stomped towards the parking lot. The bottle-thrower retreated back inside the bar.
Sam swallowed and looked to Dean.
Dean's face had been blank, but instantly, a wide grin spread across it, revealing shiny white teeth. "Looks like my kinda place."
Sam eyed the bar wearily. He was a quiet guy by nature- not that he didn't know how to have a good time- but places like this just didn't appeal to him. "Maybe I'll just grab some local papers-"
"I don't think so, Sammy boy." Dean had grabbed his elbow before Sam had even turned away. "You can talk to the locals inside. I bet they'll have plenty to say."
Sam jerked his arm free. "But-"
"Oh don't be such a baby," Dean pushed. "I need you to watch my back. And I kinda wanna keep an eye on you, too. Just a little. For purely selfish reasons, of course."
Sam took whatever he could get when it came to Dean and emotions. He sighed, eyeing the crowded bar that looked like a saloon straight from a cheesy movie set. The men were all tall and muscular, mostly wearing cowboy hats and boots or black leather and dog chains. A long row of Harleys were dominoed at the front of the parking lot, while pick-ups and muscle cars made up the rest of the vehicle population. Sam was almost surprised there were no horses hobbled nearby.
Maybe he could just find a nice, quiet booth in a corner. Try to stay out of the spotlight. Out of trouble.
"Fine," he huffed at last. A big man in black leather chaps walked by, and chains jingled with every step. Sam turned to Dean. "But don't think I'm coming to your rescue if you piss these guys off."
"Where's your sense of adventure, baby brother?" Dean grinned and wrapped an arm around Sam's shoulders, pulling the him against Dean's chest.
Sam tried to free himself. "It's back at the motel, asleep," he retorted.
Dean propelled him towards the wooden steps before Sam finally squirmed out of his brother's hold. As they jogged up the short steps, Dean said, "Come on, act normal just this once. I'll buy you a beer, how 'bout that?"
"I said I'm going, didn't I? And what do you mean, 'act normal'? We are as far-"
Sam's voice was immediately drowned out as they entered the bar. A cover band pulsed exaggerated bass notes through too-small speakers, and the combined noise of the rowdy crowd filled in any silent spots. Occasionally a tinkling of shattering glass could be heard as empty bottles were thrown into large plastic trashcans. Smoke was heavy in the air, burning Sam's eyes and making the place seem a lot darker than it really was. In the far corner, the crack of cues hitting pool balls was nearly muted. Each of the four tables were sitting directly under a solitary light bulb that was suspended from the ceiling. Curls of smoke rose from the cigarettes or the large men that were already gathered there.
"Okay Sam," Dean shouted, and Sam could feel the tickle of hot air in his ear. "Grab a seat at the bar. I'll be over there."
Dean pointed to the pool tables, grinned and gave Sam a 'thumbs-up' sign, then made his way through the crowd.
Alone, Sam looked around and felt just a little out of place.
He drew in a deep breath and made his way to the last empty bar stool, at the end of the row. He slid onto the seat, planted his elbows on the bar, and tried to act inconspicuous.
"What'll it be, sweetie?" The barmaid, a blonde girl in her mid-twenties, seemed to appear out of thin air and stand before him. Her 'uniform' was nothing more than an infant's t-shirt, stretched and torn to cover her large breasts- and little else. A worn, tan apron covered the majority of her short jeans shorts.
Sam wondered if he had walked onto the set of 'The Dukes of Hazzard'. He opened his mouth to shout his reply when a familiar hand slapped a twenty onto the table next to him. He flinched and looked at Dean, who ordered them each a bottle of beer and a tab.
"This'll keep you goin' for a little while," he smiled, grabbing the brown bottle from the barmaid when she returned. "What? What are you looking at me like that for? I couldn't go over there empty-handed, could I?"
Sam shrugged and grabbed his own bottle, pulling it close. "Whatever. Good luck."
Dean flashed a dangerous smile and turned, heading towards his prey. Sam took a long pull from the bottle. This was going to be a long night.
"So you always let other people order for you?"
Sam set the bottle down and turned to his left, facing the stranger seated next to him. "No. He's my brother." He'd really rather not talk to anybody, but this guy was still staring at him.
"Brothers, huh? You're kinda different to be brothers. Why you over here by yourself?"
Sam, uncomfortable talking with this forty-something year old biker, spun the bottle slowly in his fingers. "Uh… this just isn't really my scene, I guess."
The stranger barked a laugh. "Your scene? And just what is your scene, boy?" He pushed his empty shot glass forwards for a refill.
"I don't know… house parties…" The music died suddenly and Sam's words echoed in his ears, sounding stupider by the second. Maybe he would go join Dean…
A new song started without much encouragement from the crowd. The barmaid returned and the stranger held up two fingers. When the shots were in front of him, he pushed one towards Sam.
"Here, drink that. That'll change your mind about what your scene is."
Sam watched as the stranger tossed back his shot, then winced and smacked his lips as he up-ended the glass on the bar.
Sam tried to find Dean through the maze of people.
"What, do ya need a babysitter? It's just tequila, drink it!"
Not wanting to draw any more attention to himself, Sam grabbed the small glass and eyed the stranger one last time before swallowing the amber liquid. Before the glass his the table, Sam knew it was the good stuff. His throat burned and he could feel his stomach wondering what the hell it was being punished for. He resisted a coughing fit and his ears popped as he held it in.
The stranger laughed. "There ya go! You liked that, didn't ya boy? Jesse! Two more over here!"
Sam's eyes got wide as the barmaid retuned, placing two new shot glasses before them. He used all his mental energy to tell her that no, he did not want any more, but she was gone before he smelled her perfume.
"Tonight's the night you become a man, boy! Drink!"
Sam watched as the stranger downed his second shot. He placed the empty glass next to the first and looked to Sam expectantly.
With a small sigh, Sam mimicked the action.
The stranger cheered and Sam wondered if he was sitting under a heating vent. He looked around, noticing how everything seemed to be… weightless… and when he looked back to the bar, another damned shot glass was waiting for him.
He glared at the stranger, who only grinned and toasted Sam, and they downed the liquor simultaneously.
Maybe this wasn't such a bad place after all, Sam thought as the barmaid handed them a forth round. The people here were really friendly once you got to know them. The barstools were really comfortable and… supportive. The bar was solidly built too. Sam studied the craftsmanship of it and wondered how old it was. Then he wondered why he was wondering.
More tequila seared his throat and he wasn't even sure whose hand was at the end of his arm. His cheeks were hot, the room was spinning, and Sam suddenly loved this bar.
A shout pierced his warm, foggy little mind and he turned, catching himself on the stranger as he pitched forward.
"That's it! You damn kid, I want my money back!"
Sam squinted very hard and realized that his brother was being backed against the wall by three very large, very mean, and very angry looking men. The leader held his pool stick very threateningly.
Stick. It had another name, didn't it? What were they called…
"You know him?" the stranger asked, breaking into Sam's deep pondering.
"Uh-oh," Sam said solemnly to his companion. "That's my brother."
"You don't say? He looks like he's about to get his ass beat."
"I know," Sam replied.
The stranger was staring at him. "Well? Aren't you gonna help him?"
"Ohh. Yeah. I, uh-"
The stranger shoved Sam forward and he stumbled into the crowd of people.
"Yeah, I guess I'd better go help him," Sam finished.
Sam picked his way through the bodies, using more than a few to bounce off of, and he quickly understood how a pinball felt. By the time he emerged in the alcove of pool tables, he was holding a bottle of beer and wearing a straw cowboy hat.
"Hand it over, city boy, before I take it from you!"
Sam stumbled forward and cursed. Who the hell puts a slant in the floor like that?
"Sam!" Dean exclaimed, then went silent. "Sam?"
Sam looked up, blinked, and smiled. "Hey, bro! I'm coming to help you out!" He put a hand to his mouth in a secretive gesture. "I got your back, remember?"
Dean glanced at the three men before him, who were staring at Sam like he was fresh meat. "I think I got things under control, Sam… why don't you go wait outside?"
"Wait outside? But you need me, remember? I'm suppose to be watching your back, in case you get caught hustling!" Sam caught himself on the neighboring pool table when it bumped into him.
Everything seemed to fall silent, and Dean was scrubbing a hand down his face. Sam furrowed his brow. "I don't get it."
"No shit, Sam."
"Get him!" was all the warning Sam had before the place erupted into violence. Dean was grabbed by the front of his favorite AC/DC shirt and swung around, then pushed backwards onto the pool table he had just been playing at. Something above his head caught his attention and Sam turned, catching a beer bottle high on his forehead.
He went down like a ton of bricks and actually hit the floor before the pain set in. How the hell had he wound up down here? Was that a quarter? "Aw, man…" Sam eyed his own broken beer bottle with remorse. He reached forward, fingers stretched to touch a large piece of the shattered glass, but then he was suddenly flying through the air and landed back on his feet.
Sam stumbled when the hand supporting him left, then suddenly a blow to the face sent him backwards and into a stray barstool. The wood splintered under the impact, and he fell to the floor in a heap of numb limbs and confusion.
"Ow," he muttered, stretching his jaw and bringing a hand up to his cheek. It stung when he touched it and his fingertips withdrew bloody. "Damnit…"
"Sam! A little help here!"
Sam looked up. Things were flying through the air- oh wait, those were people- and Sam focused hard on Dean's voice.
Dean was actually holding his own, or he was until a fat guy snuck up behind him and hit him in the small of the back with one of those pool stick-thingies. Dean went to his knees and the guy in front of him landed a solid blow that sent Dean to the floor.
"Dean!" Sam yelled, and he started to move. His body was sluggish and he had a bad case of vertigo, so by the time he actually made it to his brother's side, Dean was pulling himself up off the floor.
"Are you okay?" Sam asked, stumbling as he kept moving even when he feet weren't.
Dean got to his feet and shook his head, then looked around at the chaos surrounding them. "Come on. We gotta get outta here."
Sam blinked. "Wh… We gotta get outta here?"
"What the hell's wrong with you?" Dean growled, and Sam found himself being spun and guided forwards. "How many did you have?"
Sam let himself be pushed through the mass of swinging chairs and shattering glass. He counted on his fingers, "One, two, three, four…"
"Four beers? I was only gone for ten minutes!"
"Not beer…" Sam corrected, shaking his head. "Tequila!" He snapped his fingers for good measure.
"Good God," Dean muttered, then jerked them both out of the way as a body sailed past. "If you vomit in my car, I swear, I'll push you out and back over you, understand?"
Sam agreed. "Yes!" he beamed, then felt himself tripping over a foot- his own- and plummeting towards the floor.
His shirt pulled tight as it was caught from the back, and Sam stopped just inches from a dirty pancake of pale green gum.
Sam was then jerked backwards and propelled through the doors and out into the cool night air. The noise were dampened instantly as the doors swung shut behind them, and the fresh air actually made him lightheaded. He shivered.
"Come on, little brother. Car's this way."
Sam walked beside Dean obediently. "What about your money?" he asked. He glanced up at the sky and quickly became transfixed. How many stars were up there? How high up were they? They blanketed the entire sky, and they looked so pretty up there, twinkling at him… "Hi stars…"
"Sam! Focus here. I'm not buckling your seat belt for you."
Sam let his head fall and he realized he was sitting in the Impala. "Are we leaving?" he asked, but the slam of the passenger door was his only answer.
He sighed, the sound echoing in the silence, and Sam reached for the seatbelt. He had just pulled it across himself when Dean opened the driver's side door and slid in.
"Hurry up, I'm not waiting all night," he snapped, shutting the door and turning on the engine.
Sam tried to hurry, he really did, but every time he jabbed at the housing for the metal clip, he missed and ending up skinning his knuckles.
"Oh for cryin' out loud," Dean huffed, then snatched the seatbelt from Sam. "You're one cheap date, you know that?" he asked as he locked Sam's seatbelt in place and gave it an experimental yank.
Sam laughed. "I know." He would be embarrassed tomorrow. Right now, he was enjoying the buzz.
Dean was staring at him. "You're gonna have a killer bruise tomorrow," he noted clinically. "I'll have to clean that cut when we get back. Try not to bleed on my seats, either."
Sam cupped his hand and held it under his jaw. "Okay."
Dean's eyes narrowed. "Jesus, is that-" he reached out and Sam felt the twinge of a hair being pulled. Dean held his hand up between them. "Did you get hit over the head with a bottle?"
Sam focused on the glittering shard of glass in Dean's fingers. "Cool…" he breathed, reaching out to touch it.
"Sam- what the-" Dean jerked his hand back and rolled down the window, making a show of tossing the glass outside. When he was done, he turned back to Sam and raised a pointed finger. "Do not shake your head until we're in the motel parking lot, understand?"
Sam started to nod, then caught himself. He raised a finger. "You just tried to trick me."
Dean rolled his eyes and shifted the car into 'drive'. "Yeah, Sam, I did. Man, are you smart or what?"
Same smiled. "I went to college."
"Yes you did," Dean replied cryptically.
Sam melted against the seat as they started for the motel. "This was fun. I had fun tonight."
Dean chuckled. "I'm glad one of us did, bro." He shook his head, wincing. "Because tomorrow is sure to be hell."