March 2nd, 1929
It was cold and Dean Winchester was running out of options. His fifth order of murder hadn't gone as well as he and his brother had hoped. It worked out; the technical part, at least. Doctor Vincent Romano was pushing up daisies and all that – provided flowers sprouted from eighty feet under the Bay. But from the evil eye any Italian Mac or Jane in the neighborhood would throw at him, you'd think Dean had killed Lucifer – one of the most notorious dons on the entire East coast and his boss – or ratted out all the speakeasies in Brooklyn.
Doctor Romano was of the sensitive, saintly sort. Always doing house calls in the middle of the night and refusing even a cup of coffee and a quarter if he thought the poor immigrant family he was helping couldn't afford it. He got his slew of vaccines and medical supplies through loans from the boss's particular circle of the market, and while the regular Joe adored Romano's generosity with the drugs, Lucifer's finances certainly didn't. After nearly a year and a grand wearing on their relationship, Sam and Dean Winchester were sent in to take care of matters.
Sam, of course, just kept watch and helped hide the evidence. Everyone knew what had happened, Missing Person's case or not. But even with the protection that came from being a soldier and the decent accompanying pay, Sam wasn't cut out for gang life – truth was, the both of them would have been happier on the western side of the country, lying on beaches and having one of those elusive 'normal lives'; or at least a job you could actually write home about.
Or hell, Dean figured, staring down at the three piece suit in his hands, maybe they just wanted to be warm for once.
While the whole disappearing act for Doctor Romano went off fine, there was still the typical collateral damage that had to be taken care of. Such as the bullet holes in his suit. Weren't doctors not supposed to do harm, or something? And here the guy pulls out a flashy revolver as if it can match dual Colts and the conmen on the opposite sides of the guns. "You just can't trust people anymore, Sammy." That had been his line as he stared down at the corpse two nights prior, nursing a pair of grazing wounds as well as the cold air as it shifted through the tatters in his clothes, stabbing his skin.
Now, Brooklyn had no shortage of trusty, off-the-boat Italians who would fix up his clothes, give him a cup of something good and let him flirt with their daughters for an hour or so, but those same sorts had also made up the bulk of Romano's free customers.
Basically, Dean had gotten kicked out of the Family for a bit. Probably just two months, until old wounds healed up or he got sent out to take care of a rival gang, but in the mean time, his clothes needed fixing, and the only place he had been able to find was –
The shop was on the stretch of road separating most of the Italian ghettos from the Russian ones. It was one of the only open buildings on the street, mostly since the place had been the sight of turf wars and vandals and break-ins since Dean was a kid and Dad still had the decency to rush him along the sidewalk when they reached that particular part of the city. The actual building had venetian blinds at a lazy half-mast, brick sidewalls, and a front side painted white that was only somewhat chipping. Between the first and second story there was a painted banner that had something… something in the Mother Tongue etched up top, and then, almost as if it was an after-thought, a quick advertisement for 'timely repairs, washing, and deliveries.' It was the only store Dean could find without officially walking into No Man's Land; about fifty paces south of the building. So Dean settled himself to this place, squared his jaw, and pushed open the front door.
"Hello," said a man standing behind a low counter at the end of the shop. "Can I help you?" Dean felt the cold air scatter into the room as the door closed behind him. He listened to his shoes clack on the tile as he moved up to the table the other man was stationed at.
Dean laid the shirt, vest, and jacket out for the other to see. "I was wondering if you could do something about this." The man had an odd sort of look – an expression impressive in its ultimate neutrality. He didn't seem at all surprised to see an Italian mutt walk into his shop and demand, of all things, his advertised abilities. At any rate, the man picked up the garments, one by one. He didn't look aggressively Russian, this guy who was poking through the bullet holes on his cotton button-down. He had an accent, of course; that low, raspy voice that tried to insert v's into every crevice of conversation that he spoke, and hissed out common sounds till his vocal chords sounded rubbed out with street gravel; but he wasn't a burly, wide shouldered man with a fur cap or a bomb under his arm – in fact, he appeared to be just a bit shorter than Dean himself. Average. Dean let his eyes move from the tailor's face to his hands, or rather, his outfit that the man was inspecting.
"Hum," the tailor grunted. "These bullet holes?" It was as far from a question as it could be.
"Guilty as charged," Dean replied, not even sorry.
"Nothing hit its target, did it?"
"Well, not on my side. I have better aim."
He hummed again. "Doctor Romano helped deliver my sister's child," he said, matter of fact. Dean felt a tug somewhere down low, as if a rug had been pulled out from under him. He bit the corner of his mouth, to stop from stammering or, God forbid, apologizing.
Did Dean Winchester have regrets? Quite a few, actually, with new ones joining the pile all the time – but it didn't mean he was about to share them. Especially not with some first generation Russian who was probably going to kick him out of his store in the next thirty seconds. His hand slid out, ready to take his clothes back, hitting needle calloused fingers in the process.
The tailor startled back at the touch. "Anyway," he carried on in a business tone. Very official, very serious – that, at least, was perfectly acceptable; stereotypical; safe. "The holes are too big to just stitch up, I'll have to find material to patch it." He struck a look to the doorway behind him, squinting. It probably led to the flat upstairs, or a back room, or both. Around this time Dean comprehended that either the tailor didn't care, or was just brutally heartless.
Or maybe his sister was a bitch.
And then he tried to guess how bad the guy would sell him short. He could imagine it now: A few nickels for specialized needles, fabric taxes and maybe can you get back to me next week? Next thing he knew his suit would be cut up for spare parts on the next third cousin who bothered to walk in. The schmuck. This was why Dean never bothered –
"…Yes, I think I have some white Egyptian cotton left over. The suit material, I needed to buy anyway for a wedding…" He took the clothes, folding each article up into small squares, before taking out a receipt pad and pencil. "Name please?"
"Like the gun?" Dean tried to ignore the smirk coming up on his face.
"Like the gun," he parroted. The tailor scribbled down a few more lines before pinning the note to the clothes pile. He spun it around so Dean could read it:
Patch x2 – .50
Standard Cleaning – .75
Stains – .30
Total – 1.55
Which wasn't exactly a free cup of coffee and getting a date with a pretty girl, but it wasn't a kick to the teeth either, and as far as Dean was concerned, that was as good as it would get.
"I can pay you –"
"Now," the man said. "Everyone has to pay before the job is done. It's policy."
The sudden earnestness caught Dean off guard. "And what happens when I come in tomorrow and my suit's not here?"
"Then I'm sure that you'll tie me up and break my fingers until I remember how to do my job properly," he said bluntly. "Or maybe I'll have an 'accident'. Or maybe the store my family and I have owned for eight years will be burned down during Sunday Mass." He looked back down at the pile of black and white between them and picked it up. "And what happens when you come here without paying first? You shove me against the wall for bothering to ask, and I have to work an extra shift to make sure I have enough to eat. I'm not new to this place, Mr. Winchester. Pay or get out. I think I've been fair."
Dean wasn't sure whether the man deserved some sign of grudging respect or a punch to his windpipe. He leaned forward, "Hey, mac –"
"If you wish to address me, please call me Mr. Novak." Mr. Novak blinked. "You were saying?" Dean glared at the other and realized he had just forgotten. Damn it.
"So tomorrow, when I come in here nine o' clock sharp…"
"Your suit shall be here, good as new."
Dean stared the other man down with contempt. Mouthy bastard. If Sam were here, he might have said that the guy was just doing his job. It was a hard world out there, especially for immigrants running a trade shop, customers limited to their extended family and friends. But Sam wasn't here, and Dean just stared at the man's dark blue eyes for a very long time before digging his chequebook out of his pocket.
"Fine," he muttered, scowl on his face. He scribbled down the name, date, the damned thirty five cents and ripped the slip away from the book so hard it nearly cut itself in half. He threw it at Mr. Novak, not doing much good, being made of something as flimsy as paper. "How's that, then?"
The tailor looked down at the paper and tilted his head to one side, as if he couldn't quite grasp what he was supposed to do with the thing. Dean was about to make a few smart suggestions before the man merely folded it up and pocketed it. "That's fine, Mr. Winchester. I'll start on your suit in a few hours. Just come back tomorrow, at nine like you said, and it will be ready."
"Yeah, yeah. I'm holdin' you to that," Dean said, turning away.
"Of course, sir." He wasn't quite sure if Mr. Novak was too foreign to understand the American brand of sarcasm, or if he was just plain odd enough to get through such a hellish job without needing it. Soon Dean was back on the pavement, back in the cold, and staring down the road that led into the Italian neighborhoods; his home that currently didn't fancy him so much.
Oh well, he thought, sinking his head down into his chest to ward off the winds stabbing at his throat.
He started walking up Brighton 7th street until he was away from the grimy little tailor shop that was very much his last resort.
Away from Mr. Novak, words burning in his mind like impressions on his skin.
A/N: Yeah, I got into Supernatural. Yeah. I got into Dean/Castiel. And, yeah, I'm a sucker for Roaring Twenties settings and mafias and whatever else there is. All of this was inspired by moushkas' oneshot "Привет, любимый! (Hello, Lover!)" which can be found over at deancastiel at livejournal.