"Dude, where's my car?"
Sam rolled his eyes as he followed his older brother out of the bar. He never thought the unselfish gesture he made six years ago would haunt him so. When Dean had offered to take him to a movie of his choice as an early Christmas present, Sam had his heart set on seeing Cast Away. However, knowing that Dean would be absolutely miserable watching a half-naked Tom Hanks frolic around alone on a beach for over two hours, Sam instead picked Dude, Where's My Car? Comedy, cars, and chics. It was as if the movie gods had reached down and made it especially for Dean. Sam had very few regrets in his life, however, that fateful decision was currently at the top of his list.
As he watched his slightly inebriated brother look wildly around the parking lot, Sam had to admire his commitment. It seemed Dean was really going to play this little game out for all it was worth. He supposed he owed it to Dean to play along. After all, he was the one who wanted to leave early. Not that he had to twist Dean's arm too hard. Lady Luck was definitely not smiling on Dean this night. After only taking in a paltry $40.00 hustling pool, he'd begun to make out with a pretty blonde, only to be shot down a few drinks later. Sam hadn't fared any better in his mission. He'd had no luck finding any new leads. It seemed as though the supernatural had taken a holiday.
Quietly hating himself, Sam caught up to Dean and played along. "Where's your car, dude?" He definitely had some karma points coming from that one.
Dean did not seem amused. "Sam, I'm serious." he said testily. "Where's the damn car?"
All right, enough was enough. "Right where you parked it, Dean. Under the light, right over there..." Sam's voice trailed off as both Winchesters followed Sam's pointing finger. The red pick-up truck they had parked next to was still there, as was the motorcycle. But the 1967 Chevy Impala, the pride and joy of Dean's life, was gone.
"Wait a minute. Where is the car?" Sam blinked in confusion.
Dean slowly turned his head towards Sam, his green eyes practically bulging from his skull. "That's what I just said, Sam!" he said angrily. Did Sam really think he would joke about something as serious as this!
Sam didn't respond, just stared slack-jawed at where they had left the car only a couple hours before. He was so stunned that he didn't even flinch when Dean let out a string of curse words on the top of his lungs.
"I can't believe someone stole my car. Son of a bitch!" Dean paced around furiously.
"Ok, just calm down." Sam said.
"Calm down! Someone stole my car, Sam! My car!" Dean shouted.
"I know that, Dean! But stomping around and yelling isn't going to help anything." One of them had to remain level headed, and it sure wasn't going to be short tempered Dean. Wasn't the older sibling supposed to be the mature, rational one? How was it that he was always stuck with the thankless task of being the responsible, logical one?
"Well, it makes me feel better, okay?" Dean shot back. The truth was that it really didn't. Dean shoved his hands into his jacket pockets, hoping that would quell the urge to strike out at something…his brother for instance.
"What the...?" As his hands rooted around his pockets, he was perplexed as to what he found, or rather, didn't find. "My keys are gone."
Suddenly the pieces all fell into place. "Jennifer!"
"Jennifer? The girl who blew you off earlier?" Sam immediately wished he could take back what he'd just said. Nothing like kicking a guy when he's down.
Dean glared at Sam. "The bleach blonde bitch who hustled five drinks out of me. Yeah, her. She must have grabbed me keys while she was trying to give me a tonsillectomy with her tongue."
Sam resisted the urge to throw a few "I told you so"s Dean's way. Now was definitely not the time. Taking a few steps forward Sam surveyed the surrounding area. Not exactly in the best of neighborhoods, Chet's Bar stood in between a gas station and what appeared to be an abandoned two story house.
"We should check with the gas station, see if anyone saw anything. They probably have security cameras, too." Sam said.
"So does the bar." Dean said pointing at the camera mounted above the door. Sam was glad to see Dean was getting back to business.
"I'm going to head back into the bar and ask around, see what I can find out about this Jennifer. Look around out here, see what you can find." Although Dean appeared to have calmed down slightly, he was still in no shape to conduct an interrogation.
"Fine." Dean huffed. Turning abruptly on his heel he stormed further into the parking lot. Sam had only taken a few steps towards the bar when a dull thump mingled with a loud yell made him whirl around.
"My car! My friggin' car!" Dean shouted. Sam groaned as he saw the dent Dean had just kicked into the side of a dirty black Cavalier. Yeah, keeping Dean away from other people was in everyone's best interests.
Even though it was still fairly early the place had pretty much cleared out. Four preppy twenty-somethings were in a serious game of darts in the far corner, while two brunette girls and a young blonde guy hung out at the bar. Sam leaned his forearms on the bar, narrowly missing some spilled beer, and called over to the bartender. The large man finished pouring drinks for the trio then ambled over to Sam.
At six foot five, Sam often had to lower his eyes to make eye contact with people. As the bartender came closer Sam found himself again having to adjust to meet the man's gaze, only in this instance, Sam's head tilted upwards. The bartender's name, Big John, was not an ironic one. Sam figured his height to be close to seven feet tall. The man was your stereotypical bartender, from the colorful tattoos on his muscular arms down to the bald head and bushy mustache. His eyes narrowed suspiciously as he stared down at Sam.
"Thought you left." Big John growled.
Sam's mind raced as he tried to come up with a cover story. He couldn't very well say that the car had been stolen. The cops would have to be called, statements given. Sam could just imagine how that conversation would go. 'Actually, Officer, the car originally belonged to my deceased brother who was the main suspect in a murder case back in St. Louis. Oh, and if you find the car, pay no attention to the fake id's in the glove compartment and the mini-arsenal in the trunk.'
Sam flashed a friendly smile. "We did. But my brother lost his car keys. He thinks the girl he met tonight might have grabbed them by accident. I was hoping you might know how I can get in touch with her. Blonde girl, about 5'5"...name's Jennifer."
Big John slowly looked Sam up and down, then took a cloth and began wiping down the bar. Sam struggled to keep the smile on his face, suppressing the urge to scream. The girl already had at least a half hour head start; every second this fool delayed lessened the chances of finding the car.
"Don't ring a bell. Sorry." The bartender looked Sam square in the eyes, as if daring him to argue.
Sam exhaled through clenched teeth. "She left not that long ago. You served her and my brother drinks for over an hour. Look, all I need is a phone number. That's all I'm asking."
"I seem to recall something, but you may have to help jog my memory a bit." Putting down the rag, he held his open palm out towards Sam.
Sam sighed. Somehow he knew it would come down to that. As he reached into his back pocket someone came up from behind, bumping into his arm.
"You're gonna need help getting my foot out of your ass if you don't tell us what we need to know." Dean Winchester said menacingly.
The large man squinted his beady eyes down at Dean. "Oh really."
Sam bit back a groan. Sam snaked his hand over and grabbed Dean's arm, squeezing it hard. "Actually, Dean, our friend here was just about to help us out." With his other hand he flipped open his wallet and pulled out a twenty.
Big John glanced down at the bill. "Oh, you're gonna have to do better than that, pretty boy. The price is fifty bucks, and you can thank your little boyfriend here for the price hike."
Sam stomped hard on his brother's foot, partially out of frustration, and partially to keep Dean from making another wiseass comment that would push the price even higher.
"Will you excuse us for a minute? I don't have enough cash on me." Sam said.
"Whatever. Price goes up twenty bucks every five minutes." With that the bartender ambled back to where the young girls were waving a fistful of money.
Sam leaned his head close to Dean's as they walked away from the bar. "What the hell is wrong with you? He was all set to tell me about the girl until you came in playing Mr. Testosterone!"
"That blonde bitch is cruising around in my car while you're in here sucking up to that big tub of lard, so don't you dare tell me how to behave!" Dean whispered back harshly as he pushed open the door.
Sam grabbed Dean's shoulder and swung him around. "You're not the only one who lost something, Dean. My whole life is in that car. Jessica's pictures are in that car. So don't you dare pull that crap on me. I want to find it just as much as you do. But if you go around half-cocked we're never going to find out anything."
Dean stared past Sam for a few long seconds; the look on his face unreadable. He'd been so wrapped up in his own loss that he hadn't considered Sam's feelings. They had only managed to salvage a few pictures and one singed photo album from the ruins of Sam and Jessica's apartment. All other mementos…love letters, stuffed animals, everything that Sam had owned to remind him of the great love he and Jessica had shared had been ruined by the fire that also claimed her life.
Dean swallowed the lump in his throat as he thought about the other box in the back of the trunk. Precious pictures of his mother, of his family at their happiest that were almost too painful to look at lay inside the old wooden box. As much as the thought pissed him off, his car could be replaced. Those pictures couldn't.
"'Half-cocked?'" Dean repeated. "You don't really want me to go there, do you Sammy?"
A slight smile came across Sam's face. "I'd rather you didn't."
"You know, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm really glad Dad's not here." The very thought of telling his father that the classic car he'd entrusted to his eldest son was missing turned Dean's face pale in the glow of the parking lot lights.
"Yeah." Sam said softly.
Dean could tell from the sympathetic expression on his kid brother's face that he was gearing up to have one of those touchy-feely moments. Dean hadn't had enough alcohol to endure one of those on top of everything he'd been through over the last few hours. The happy little buzz he'd had was as gone as his car. Tugging his jacket into place, he walked back towards the bar, quashing the moment before it could begin.
"Come on, Sam. Let's see what we can get out of the Jolly Green Giant."