Title: Punishment Comes Limping
Author: Black Wingedbird
Betas: Amy and Carikube
Standard Dis, warning for mild language and violence. No major spoilers. Season 2.
Author's Notes: This story would not be possible without Amy. Major thanks to both my girls for slapping me around a bit. I needed it.
Dean tilted his head and raised the cue, pointing the chalky blue end at the opposite end of the pool table. "Corner pocket."
"Impossible. You're corner-hooked. There's no way you can bank that."
Dean grinned. "What do you wanna bet I can?"
Sam watched over the top of his laptop as the big man, Bill, eyed Dean critically before retrieving his wallet from his back pocket. He spread the leather and pulled out another twenty. "Here," he said, laying the bill on the large pile already on the rail. "Let's see it, kid."
Dean matched the bet before circling the table, making a show of finding the best angle. Sam watched silently, thoroughly amused.
"Hey kid," Bill prompted when Dean came to a stop facing the far end of the table. "The eight ball's at the other end." Bill and the small crowd around them chuckled.
Dean aimed, the muscles in his biceps and shoulders standing out in stark relief under the overhead lighting. "I know," he replied simply, his entire focus on the white ball at the end of his cue. "Watch and learn, fellas."
The shot was hard and fast. The cue ball shot forward, bounced off the rail at the center diamond, ricocheted back and bounced off the side rail, then struck the awaiting 8 ball, which propelled it forward and straight into the corner pocket.
Everyone was silent.
Dean took a step back, holding the cue vertically with the handle on the concrete floor. "I win."
Bill raised his eyebrow, watching Dean gather the money with a frown. "That's some beginner's luck you got there, especially for someone who's never played this game before," he said menacingly.
Stiffening, Sam sat up a little straighter.
Dean shrugged his shoulders, folding the wad of bills in half before shoving them in his back pocket. Next to the gun. "I'm a quick learner," he replied, flashing his signature cocky grin. "Nice game though. You keep practicing and I bet you'll catch up to me in no time."
Shit. Slowly, Sam closed the laptop.
Bill growled as he started after Dean. "How bout we play a different game now, okay smartass? One that will show us what you're really made of."
The crowd murmured encouragement and testosterone filled the air.
Dean turned to face him, resting the cue against the wall. "Come on now, Bill. Don't be stupid. I can whip your ass at this game too."
"Yeah? You gonna cheat in a fist fight too?"
Sam rose, unfolding himself slowly.
Dean leered. "Cheating won't be necessary."
The crowd drew in tighter as Bill raised his fists.
Dean did the same and Sam inched forwards.
"Oh no you don't!" Ellen shouted, stomping towards them suddenly. "No fighting inside my bar. You two wanna beat each other's heads in, you take it outside. I hardly make enough to break even as it is."
She placed herself in between Dean and Bill, shoving each of them backwards. "Each of you go to an opposite corner and stay there. You two so much as look at each other and I'll throw you out of here so fast…"
The tension dissipated as Bill gathered his beer bottle, cue, and what was left of his pride. "Nobody pulls one over on me, kid," he warned, jabbing an index finger in Dean's direction. "This ain't over, you hear me?"
Dean grabbed his leather jacket and pulled it on, rolling his shoulders to make the collar stand up. "Roger that," he replied nonchalantly. "I hear ya loud and clear."
The danger gone now, Sam sat back down and watched as his brother approached. "You have such a way with the locals, have I told you that?"
"Bite me. I just got us enough for another week at that shit-hole of a motel you picked out."
"I picked out?" Sam watched as Dean took a long drink of beer. "You're the one who was falling asleep at the wheel. I merely pointed out the fact that the Pioneer Inn was just off the next exit."
"I was not falling asleep," Dean shot back, setting the empty bottle on the table. "I was blinking."
"Yeah, except your eyes were closed."
"You're one to talk, Rip Van Winkle."
Sam shook his head and opened the laptop. "More like your incessant mullet rock drives me to the point of unconsciousness."
Dean pointed a finger.
"You know, if you boys don't start playing nice, I'm gonna stop letting you in my bar." Ellen set two beers on the table and looked at them expectantly.
"What?" Dean asked defensively. "You make your living, I make mine."
"I make an honest living selling beer. You hustle old bar flies." She crossed her arms. "You're like a parasite, really. Making a living off of my customers. I should get a cut of whatever you make."
Sam smiled, keeping his head down.
"Yeah right. First I give you a cut, and then next thing you know, Sam will want one too. This is my money. I won it fair and square."
"By cheating," Sam reminded him.
"By not showing my hand," Dean corrected. "There's a difference."
Sam shook his head and deleted another useless email.
"Now, if you ladies will excuse me, there's a blonde at the end of the bar who's calling my name."
Dean grabbed his beer and sauntered away, leaving Sam and Ellen alone. Instantly, her demeanor softened. "You doin' okay, Sam?"
The question caught him off guard. "Yeah, I'm fine. Why wouldn't I be?"
Ellen shrugged one shoulder, glancing back to the bar. "You look so tired lately, both of you. I think you should take it easy for a couple of days."
Sam shook his head. "No. The demon is still out there. We still don't know what his plan is. I can't let my guard down until I figure out these visions and what they mean."
"Sam," Ellen moved closer, but not quite touching. "You boys aren't in this alone anymore. We're here to help you. Don't run yourself down trying to play the hero."
At that, Sam glared at her. "It's not about being a hero," he ground out. "It's about saving people like me, stopping them from turning evil. It's about killing this bastard… getting retribution- justice- for Jess and Mom and Dad. There is no glory in this job."
Ellen looked at the floor, a wistful smile barely curving her lips. "You sound so much like your Daddy," she said quietly.
A twinge of sadness coursed through him and he turned back to the laptop, blindly scrolling down the screen.
"I better get back to work," Ellen said quietly. She lingered for a moment more, then left him alone.
In one month, John Winchester will have been dead for one year. It felt like days. Sam swallowed the lump in his throat and blinked the blurriness from his eyes. Suck it up. Look at Dean; he's fine now, he's done dealing. Sam should be too. They were past that. Life goes on. What's dead should stay dead.
Suddenly remembering it was there, Sam grabbed the beer bottle and drained it. When he lowered his hand, a young woman was standing before him, an amused smile on her face.
"Buy you another?" she asked, her voice warm and enticing. Her long, wavy hair hung down to the tops of her breasts, which were displayed quite nicely with the assistance of a low-cut blouse.
Sam blinked, feeling perverted, and looked her in the eyes. "Excuse me?"
She pulled out the chair across from him and sat down, her breasts jiggling. "You look like you could use some company. Let me buy you a beer?"
Sam closed the laptop and leaned towards her. "Uh, sure. Okay."
She laughed. "I'm Nicole," she said, reaching across the table.
"Sam," he replied, shaking her warm, manicured hand. Her soft skin molded to his in a way that made him never want to let go.
When they parted, she smiled confidently, her eyes glittering as much as the oversized earrings nestled in the hair around her neck. "You're cute, Sam. What are you doing in a place like this?"
Sam swallowed and looked away uncomfortably. "Ellen, she's kind of a friend of the family…"
"So that guy you're with, he's your brother?"
Sam glanced at Dean, who was staring at him open-mouthed from across the room. "Yeah, we're brothers."
Nicole moved forward, her breasts resting on the table. "He's not at cute as you."
A heat flooded his veins and Sam grabbed the beer bottle, belatedly remembering it was empty. He set it back down. "Not many girls would agree with you."
"Guess I'm not like other girls."
Sam leaned back, uncomfortable under the strong advances. Nicole was stunning, yes- and that was probably a factor in why he was blushing so horribly right now. He coughed lightly and looked back to Dean.
Dean was giving him the 'thumbs-up' gesture, among many explicit ones.
"Two beers, please," Nicole interrupted, snagging Ellen's sleeve as she walked by.
"Sure thing," Ellen replied. She did a double-take. "Do I know you?"
Nicole batted her long eyelashes. "No, I don't think so. Sorry."
Ellen studied her a moment longer, then shrugged. "Must have you confused with someone else. Two beers, coming up."
"So Sam," Nicole sing-songed, reaching out and covering his hand with her own. "What do you and your brother do for a living, when you're not hanging out in bars?"
At the bar, Ellen and Jo conversed animatedly, each taking turns studying Nicole. Sam frowned, trying to read their lips as the mother and daughter talked. It was a bar; Nicole had probably been here before. No big deal.
"Hello? Sam?" Nicole stared at him, annoyance written across her painted face.
He shook himself. "Sorry. What were you saying?"
Nicole raised an eyebrow questioningly, and then launched into an enthusiastic monologue.
In the background, Ellen and Jo were watching them warily in between pouring beers. The attention was unnerving, but neither woman made an effort to get his attention. They must not have figured out why Nicole looked familiar. Why the suspicion, then?
An angered sigh pulled his attention back to Nicole. "Look, here's my number. Why don't you give me a call when you're not so distracted." She scribbled on a napkin and slid it over to him, then pushed her chair out noisily. She looked down at him from under long, thick eyelashes. "I like being the only thing in a guy's eyes."
Stunned, Sam could only watch was she pranced away. What had he just done?
Dean smacked him on the back of the head. "Dude. What the hell is wrong with you? Did you not see the ass on her?"
Sam smoothed his hair down and shoved Dean. "Yes, I saw it," he grumbled. "I'm not really sure what happened."
"What happened is that you spaced off," Dean retorted. "Never space off when a girl is rambling. That's like, rule number 2."
"And rule number 1?"
"Agree with everything they say."
"Nice. You think of those yourself?"
Nicole was with another man now, whispering seductively in his red ear. Sam caught her gaze and frowned. "She's very… friendly," he noted.
"Hey!" Bill shouted suddenly, stomping over to Nicole and the stranger. "You get your hands off her. She's with me."
The stranger straightened and Nicole slid away, back into the shadows. "Looks like she's with me now," the man shot back. "So why don't you go find yourself a whore more your speed. She's out of your league," he said, jerking a thumb over his shoulder at Nicole.
"I don't think so," Bill growled, going toe-to-toe with the stranger. They stood just inches apart, practically snarling. "I saw her first, buddy."
"Looks like she's made her choice," the stranger growled back, and the first punch was thrown.
The room exploded into a flurry of chaos and violence. Ellen rushed to break it up, shouting for help. Ash appeared and Dean leapt into action as well, trying to pull apart the fighting men. Sam was close behind.
His eyes locked with Nicole's as he approached and an overpowering sense of uneasiness chilled his blood. She was standing in the shadows, in the corner, seemingly oblivious to the whirlwind of action around her. She smiled at him, her lips wet and her eyes sharp and piercing, knowing.
Someone fell against him and Sam stumbled, righting them both before the stranger took off again. When he looked back to Nicole, she was gone.