Summary: What name is on that credit card?
Disclaimer: Supernatural and its characters do not belong to me
Originally published in Road Trip With My Brother 3
What's In A Name?
by Carole Seegraves
Sam heaved a sigh of relief as the Impala took exit #41 off the interstate, heading for the small town of Greencastle, Indiana. Three days spent tracking a haunted panther through a wilderness preserve had taken its toll, even though he and Dean had both emerged unscathed. And now, after twelve long hours on the road, "tired" had given way to "exhausted," and the young man was ready to find a place to crash for the night.
Motoring slowly down the main street at the legal speed of twenty-five miles per hour gave them a good look at the available accommodations in every price range, and it wasn't long before Dean was pulling into a parking space directly in front of the Happy Haven Motel office, featuring low rates, cable T.V. and a free continental breakfast.
"I'll get us a room," Sam offered, opening the door as his brother turned off the engine, leaving the keys dangling from the ignition.
"Here, dude, use one of these." Shuffling through the container he kept in the glove box, Dean tossed two credit cards in Sam's direction.
Sam frowned, but deftly caught the cards. He had never enjoyed participating in the credit card fraud that Dean seemed to delight in, simply considering it to be a necessary evil in their line of work, since the brothers were rarely, if ever, paid for the services they provided.
Without looking at them, Sam tucked the cards into his pocket and headed for the office. Behind him, he could hear Dean jacking up the music, and could picture him, without even turning, using his hands to tap out the beat on the steering wheel.
The bell above the office door jingled as he went through, drawing the attention of the young woman at the counter. On the phone, she smiled at him and mouthed, "I'll be right with you," before continuing with her conversation.
Like most budget motels, the lobby consisted of two rooms, a larger waiting room, and a small office area behind the counter. Arranged along the wall was a tall rack, holding what looked to be at least fifty different brochures for various local attractions. The clerk was still engaged in conversation, accepting reservations for the following weekend, if the few words Sam had overheard had been interpreted correctly, so he thumbed through the tourist information. He smiled at some of them, shook his head at a few, and picked up a couple that seemed geared toward their line of work.
"Sir? Can I help you?"
"Uh, yeah," Sam responded, heading back across the room. "I'd like a room for tonight."
The clerk was already on the computer, her hands flying over the keys. "Two doubles or a king?"
"Two doubles, please."
"It's-" At that moment, Sam realized that he hadn't actually looked at the credit cards Dean had given him, and that he didn't have a clue who he was supposed to be claiming to be.
Sighing quietly, Sam's mind raced for a solution. His brother would have flirted, distracting the clerk long enough to check the name on one of the cards, but that really wasn't Sam's style. So instead, he settled for coughing, a tried and true diversion that usually proved to be just as effective.
"Sir, are you alright?"
Coughing a couple more times for maximum effect as he slid his hand into his pocket and grasped one of the credit cards Dean had handed him, he finally "recovered" from his coughing fit and gave the woman a sheepish smile. "Sorry about that, I'm, uh, just getting over a bad cold."
"That's okay," she reassured him.
"Here you go," he said, glancing at the name before laying it on the counter. "And the name is Roberto Salazar."
"Thank you, sir," the woman answered, taking the card and swiping it through the machine. She paused a moment, waiting for the information to go through the system and the receipt to print out. When it took longer than expected, she leaned over the machine, squinting a bit to read the small text on the screen.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Salazar, but your card has been rejected." Her voice was a blend of sympathy and suspicion.
"Huh." Sam attempted to adopt a mystified expression, but suspected he'd failed miserably. "I don't know what could have happened."
"Perhaps you forgot to activate it?" she suggested, pointing at the "a member since" date. "You've only had it for a short time."
"Oh, yeah, maybe. I thought I did, but you know what it's like when you get busy and things start to, uh, pile up." Realizing he was babbling, Sam shut his mouth with a snap.
"Would you like to use another card?"
"Uh, yeah." Without thinking, he reached back into his pocket, pulling out yet another credit card. His hand outstretched, he suddenly froze in place, reading the name on the second card. Bernard Schmidt.
Deftly covering the name on the card with his fingers before it could be seen, he slowly and casually pulled his hand back. "You know what, I think I'm just gonna use cash."
"That will be fine, sir."
He removed his wallet from his back pocket, opened it, and found himself staring at a ten dollar bill and three singles. He'd forgotten about stopping at the gas station whose credit card machine had been out of order, and the small coffee shop that only took cash.
"And I'll need to see your drivers license."
Sam sighed, silently cursing his brother under his breath. While Dean had a stockpile of fake ID cards, Sam still only carried one, and it didn't bear the name of Roberto Salazar or Bernard Schmidt. It bore his own. A series of possible scenarios flew through his mind, each more outrageous than the previous one: He had suddenly decided to change his name, for religious reasons. He was in the Witness Protection Program. He was a spy for the United States government.
Maybe he should just admit that he was a liar and a fraud, and get the hell out of there?
"Never mind," Sam mumbled, his shoulders slumping. Unable to meet her eyes, and aware of the light blush that colored his face, he hung his head in defeat, and beat a hasty retreat back toward the Impala, feeling the clerk's gaze focused on his back the entire way.
"What room?" Dean asked, preparing to move the Impala, as Sam opened the passenger side door and climbed into his seat.
"Didn't get one."
"Why not?" Dean twisted around to check the flashing neon sign on the side of the building. "It still says vacancy. What happened?"
Sam speared his brother with a glare. "Oh, they had plenty of rooms."
"Then what was the problem?"
"Oh, I don't know," Sam said, with as much sarcasm as he could muster. "Maybe Mr. Salazar..." He paused to throw the first credit card at his brother. "...forgot to activate the card."
"You could have used the other one," Dean suggested helpfully.
"Right, like she wouldn't have noticed that Mr. Salazar had just changed his name to Mr. Schmidt." This time his tone carried disgust. The second card followed the first one, flying through the air and ending up in Dean's lap.
"Didn't have enough."
"Gas station. Coffee shop. Ring a bell?" Sam retorted.
Dean reached for his wallet. "Here."
Sam shook his head. "She probably already thinks I'm an idiot, or some kind of criminal. I'm not going back in there." He leaned back in his seat. "With our luck, she's probably calling the cops, to report 'suspicious credit card activity.' Let's go somewhere else, Dean, and this time, you go in and pay."
Dean shrugged. "Okay." He started the car, pulling back out into the street. The search didn't take long, and a few minutes later, he slowed the Impala to a stop, turned into a parking lot, and pulled up in front of the Budget Inn, featuring extremely low rates, free HBO, and a heated pool.
Sam turned to look at his brother. "What?"
"Here, pick one." Wearing a mischievous grin, Dean took a handful of credit cards out of his stash, and after shuffling them like a deck of playing cards, he fanned the cards out.
Sam shook his head, rolling his eyes dramatically, but reached for a credit card and silently read the name to himself.
"Well, who am I?"
A small smile teased at the corner of Sam's mouth.
Dean's eyes narrowed. "Sam?"
Unable to contain himself, Sam broke out in laughter. "Carla Baxter," he managed to get out between chuckles.
"What?" Dean tried to snatch the card from Sam's hand, but his brother held the card just out of his reach, laughing even louder. "Give me that."
Finally relenting, Sam handed the card over to Dean, who stared at it in dismay. "It was supposed to be Carl, not Carla. I'm not using that card." He made a move to toss the card back into the box.
"Uh, uh," Sam protested. "You said I could pick the card, and that's the one I picked."
Dean stared at him. "I can't use a card with a woman's name on it."
Sam stared back. "Do the words 'bikini inspector' mean anything to you?"
Two minutes later, Dean was standing at the front counter of the small hotel, credit card in hand. Sam loitered a few feet away, ostensibly looking through the local restaurant fliers posted on the wall, but in fact keeping his attention on his brother.
"Can I help you, sir?"
"We'd like a room for tonight."
"Double beds or a king," the woman asked, barely taking her eyes off the computer screen in front of her.
"Double," Dean answered.
"Double," she repeated, beginning to type in the information. "Will that be cash or credit?"
"Thank you, uh, Mr. Baxter. I'll just slide this through for you and..." Her voice trailed off as she took a good look at the name.
Dean affected an innocent expression, the kind that Sam suspected his brother practiced in front of a mirror, and tipped his head slightly to the side. "Is there a problem?"
"No, sir. I don't mean to be personal, but I've just never met a man named 'Carla' before."
"Carla?" Dean asked, ignoring the muffled snort that came from Sam's direction. "What do you mean?"
"Your credit card, sir. The name on it is Carla Baxter."
Dean's mouth dropped open. "What?"
"Look, sir." The woman held up the card, pointing at the printed name. "Carla Baxter."
"I can't believe this," Dean huffed.
At that moment, Sam moved closer in order to see the master of obfuscation in action. He couldn't help it. It was like a car accident: You didn't really want to watch, but you couldn't take your eyes away.
"I've contacted that credit card company three times about this, and they're still sending me credit cards with the wrong name." He leaned slightly over the counter, gazing directly into the woman's eyes, and using what he obviously considered to be his lowest, smoothest, and most seductive voice. "I just received this replacement in the mail last week. I guess I forgot to make sure it had been corrected before putting it into my wallet. I am so sorry."
"Oh, that's quite all right, sir," she gushed.
"Will I still be able to use it? I mean, it's the only card I have, and it was issued to me. They just messed up my name."
Sam almost laughed at the "poor, poor, pitiful me" expression Dean had donned, but at the last second managed to contain it.
"I don't see why not," she agreed. "After all, it is your card, Mr. Baxter."
"Please, call me Carl."
"Please, call me Carl," Sam mimicked under his breath, making a face.
"Thank you so much for your help, Noreen," Dean said, oozing sincerity out of every pore.
"Oh, you're very welcome."
Sam sighed. If this mutual admiration society lasted much longer, he'd be asleep on his feet.
Without any further hesitation, the now smitten clerk slid the printout in front of Dean, and after he'd signed it, handed him a receipt and a room key.
"That's room number six," she said, pointing to the left helpfully. "Just around the corner."
"Oh, and Carl?"
At Dean's uplifted eyebrow and encouraging smile, she added, "I'm off at eleven."
Dean's smile grew impossibly wider.
Sam rolled his eyes. If Dean wanted to spend the night carousing, that was fine with him, but he was more interested in a hot shower, a comfortable bed, and a good night's sleep.
"Coming, Sammy?" Dean asked, a triumphant look on his face as he headed for the car.
"Right behind you, Carla."
"Oh, shut up."