A/N: I attempted to write a Valentine's Day piece of fiction, but that holiday gives me the shivers and ultimately, I could not. Then I thought of the times I had spent winning goldfish with my younger sister Lola at the fair. Lola was such an excellent shot that we nearly always won, but our poor fish never lived long. I still feel a bit guilty, although Lola never did. She never did have much in the way of pity.

Little Joy For Fish

by Deanie McQueen


There was not much in the way of joy at the aquarium.

It was supposed to be a day of relaxation. With the queen of the possessed beehive out of the picture (she agreed to relocate from the school playground on the condition that Sam and Dean brought her Gushers, her most favorite sweet), the Winchesters were indulging in a bit of bee-free leisure. Supposedly.

Judging from squealing ankle-biters and the camera-happy mothers, others had found joy. But Dean could not. "I can't find joy here," he said to Sam, who was happily reading the plaque on Lionfish.

"Were you aware the Lionfish sucks its prey in like a vaccuum?" Sam ignored him altogether, and when Dean seemed less than intersted, made a sucking sound complete with hand motions. "Schoop! Right in there!"

"This place bothers me, Sam," Dean said, and it was the truth. He couldn't even be bothered to laugh at Sam's silly noises. He was awash with pity for these poor creatures, images from Finding Nemo floating around in his head. "We are standing in a prison."

"Hush, now," Sam waved him off, tapping at the glass near an octopus. "I'm going to name this one Brutus. He looks like a Brutus, doesn't he Dean?"

"He looks like a captive!" Dean cried, and had to tell himself in a very stern voice not to march right back to the Impala and dig out some explosives. It wouldn't do any good. He might be able to free the fish from their watery jailcells, but he would be powerless to provide them with a better home. They would wither and gasp on the floor and that would be worse. It was all very frustrating.

Realizing this, Dean glumly followed Sam and Sam's happy shreiks through the aquarium. They passed sharks and blue fish and stingrays and piranhas and even an otter or two, Dean's guilt growing every second.

"You're someone's friend, I bet," Dean said to a particularly sad looking Frogfish. "You're someone's friend where you come from, and I bet they miss you." Said Frogfish seemed to agree, in Dean's opinion. He could read it in the swish of his tail.

"Dean!" Sam's happy voice echoed from further ahead. "You must see!"

Sighing, Dean put one foot in front of the other until he stood by Sam's side. This tank was bigger than the others, the water clear and bright from whatever kind of light they were using to illuminate it. It looked like it was partially open to the outside space, separated by a glass barrier that whatever captive this cage held could swim under.

"Look!" Sam said again, and that's when Dean saw it.

The orca looked huge. Huge and sleek and powerful and Dean loved it immediately. Fondness rushed through every limb and toe and hair follicle Dean possessed and he couldn't help it. "Wow," he found himself whispering, finally joining in with Sam's delight. "It's magnificent."

"It really is," Sam replied, awed. "I want to ride it."

"Me, too," Dean said, and meant it. He pictured himself riding Frank (because clearly the orca was named Frank and not Maverick, like the plaque said) out in the ocean, both of them free and smelling of sea-salt. Frank would feast upon seals and Dean would have to remember to bring a very big packed lunch for their adventures. Because he already knew: they would have plenty of adventures.

And then his heart sunk, because Frank was stuck in a big glass enclosure, likely trapped against his will, and Dean did not truly care for sea-salt.

In a heartfelt gesture, Dean placed his hand upon the glass, half-hoping that Frank would sense his presence and swim over, perhaps tap his orca nose against Dean's hand in greeting. It would be a Disney moment, and some stranger would record it and upload it to YouTube, where Dean and Dean's orca friend would be famous in less than 24 hours.

Except this didn't happen.

They had to leave the aqarium, eventually. Sam wandered away from Dean after a short while to explore the rest of the place, but Dean stayed put. He watched Frank until he could watc h Frank no more, and then they had to go.

Leaving the city, Dean vowed to keep up with Frank's life as best he could. Months later, when Frank was finally released back into the ocean, Dean spilled a little of his beer on the floor in memory of their time together. "I'm happy you're free," he said to no one in the crowded bar. Frank, Dean hoped, was happy too.

THE END