Summary: Season Seven – Sam & Dean encounter an unexpected surprise when they meet Garth at a local bar – "I'm telling you right now..." Dean warned. "If somebody asks me to sing, I will not be responsible for what I do with their happy little microphone."
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Warnings: Usual language along with vague spoilers for 7x18 and overall spoilers for Garth's presence throughout season seven
A/N: Yet another story born of the E/O Challenge word-of-the-week: sparkle
I always thought he was a simple-minded Okie. Little did I know he was the king of karaoke. ~ Trick Pony
"Man, I can't believe we're doing this..." Dean groused, switching off the Impala's ignition and staring out the windshield with dread...and something akin to embarrassment.
Sam arched a questioning eyebrow as he sat in the passenger seat of their parked Chevy; his gaze flickering between his brother and the establishment in front of them.
"This..." Dean replied to Sam's nonverbal question, as if that one word explained everything, and vaguely gestured toward the building all aglow with bright lights and neon signs.
Sam shrugged; his eyes scanning every inch of the structure in case he was missing something. "It's a bar," he finally concluded and glanced again at Dean.
"Exactly," Dean agreed; his tone disgusted. "I hope nobody sees us going in..." he wished aloud, like a teenager concerned about protecting his badass reputation as he was about to enter a party hosted by a dork.
Sam snorted. "Right. Because we so rarely go to bars...especially you. What will the neighbors think...?"
Dean glared at his brother from across the Impala's bench seat. "Shut up," he growled, though there was no true heat to his words.
Sam chuckled. "Relax, Dean," he soothed, watching the bar's patrons come and go in the moonlight; their shadows stretching out across the darkened parking lot. "It'll be fine."
"Fine, my ass..." Dean retorted...and then was tempted to make a joke about how his ass really was fine...but thought better of it – because this was serious. "This has disaster written all over it," he continued instead. "...and you know it," he added, pinning his brother with a hard stare.
"It'll be fine," Sam patiently repeated...just as he had done several times since they had left the motel.
Dean shook his head. "I never should've agreed to this."
Sam smiled, remembering Dean's expression when his brother had hung up from talking to their hunter friend hardly an hour ago. It had been obvious even then that Dean had wished for a do-over; had wished that he could take back his words and somehow decline Garth's invitation that they join him at the local bar.
But...here they were.
Sam chuckled. "The things you do for your BFFs..." he commented and then expertly ducked Dean's smack as his brother reached across the bench seat.
"Don't say that," Dean warned even as Sam continued to laugh. "Makes it sound like we're at a freakin' slumber party or something..."
Sam smiled. "Dean. Seriously. Relax. It'll be fine. We'll have a few beers and then we'll leave. I'll say my head hurts or something...and then we'll – "
" – does it?" Dean interrupted sharply; instantly forgetting his dread about meeting up with Garth at the bar and instead focusing on Sam.
Sam shifted beneath Dean's intense gaze; freshly reminded of how protective Dean was these days over anything concerning his head or overall mental health.
Little brothers not long recovered from the brink of death-by-insanity and not long discharged from psych wards apparently had that effect on big brothers – overprotectiveness and hyper-vigilance...which Sam had to admit felt kind of nice.
"Sammy..." Dean pressed; his eyes scanning his brother for signs of something wrong that Sam hadn't mentioned before now. "I'm serious. Are you okay? Because if your head hurts, we are so out here...and Garth can just get the fuck over it. I'm not joking, man."
Sam smiled shyly; the way he always did when he was touched by Dean's concern but knew Dean would tease him if he thanked him for it. "I'm okay right now," he replied truthfully; because they were still taking things a few hours at a time these days. "I was just saying...we could use that as an escape route."
"No," Dean immediately refused and shook his head. "We're not risking bad mojo on you. You hear me? You've been fine, and you're gonna stay fine. I'll come up with something to get us out of this, but we're not using that excuse. I can't risk anything else bad happening to you. Got it?"
Dean narrowed his eyes. "Say it, Sam."
"Got it," Sam replied quietly and smiled to himself; wondering if Dean ever realized when he slipped into mother hen mode...and wondering if Dean knew how much it was appreciated.
A companionable silence settled between them as the brothers continued to sit in the Impala; watching as people flowed into the bar just as quickly as others spilled out; music following them as they flirted and yelled in the moonlit parking lot before crossing to their cars.
Several seconds passed.
Dean sighed and glanced over his shoulder. "Where the hell is he?"
Because they had been waiting at least 20 minutes...and Garth still hadn't shown.
Sam shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe he stood us up..."
Dean scowled at that suggestion. "I will salt and burn his scrawny ass," he threatened; his tone and expression implying he was serious. "We've got better things to do than this shit."
Sam cringed at his brother's steadily increasing annoyance. "Are you sure this is the right bar?"
"Yeah," Dean dryly confirmed. "'Dover rhymes with Rover'," he recited and rolled his eyes at the unnecessary mnemonic Garth had offered to help him remember the name of the bar.
Sam snorted. "Wow," he commented and smiled at Dean's grimace of aggravation as he leaned forward to double-check the sign above the bar's door. "Well...that says Dover."
"Super," Dean flatly replied and then sighed loudly.
Sam continued to smile. "It'll be fine," he told his brother, knowing Dean's thoughts by the force and volume with which Dean had just sighed.
"Sure," Dean agreed doubtfully and shook his head, continuing to squint out the windshield as he stared at the building in front of them; his pinched expression having nothing to do with his vision...and everything to do with his reluctance to leave the relative safety of the Impala.
Especially since the handwritten sign stationed outside the bar's door proclaimed Thursday to be Karaoke Night.
Dean frowned. "Oh god…" he complained at the realization and glanced at Sam. "I'm telling you right now – if somebody asks me to sing, I will not be responsible for what I do with their happy little microphone."
Sam's eyes widened; making a mental note to keep himself between Dean and all microphone-wielding bar patrons, lest his brother get the wrong idea and cause a scene.
"You're not all out of love tonight?" Sam asked and laughed; teasing Dean about his somewhat recent heartfelt cover of Air Supply.
Dean scowled. "No," he snapped. "And you're not singing, either..." he continued, pointing at Sam in the passenger seat. "Only water for you, Mr. Total Eclipse of the Heart. I've seen what happens with you after two beers on karaoke night. I go to take a piss and come back to find you and some random chick telling each other to turn around and singing about how 'every now and then you fall apart...'"
Sam laughed; wondering when Dean would ever let his one-time karaoke performance permanently fade from the spotlight...and wishing he could remember his undoubtedly stellar rendition of that '80s classic.
"Whatever. That was a power ballad, dude..." Sam lamely defended.
Dean rolled his eyes even as he quirked a smile; the image of sweet, clueless Sammy belting out the lyrics to that song in the middle of that crowded bar always being one of his favorite drunk little brother memories.
There was a beat of silence.
"So, I guess we've lived through worse than tonight..." Sam ventured and smiled when Dean looked him.
"Worse than barhopping with Garth?"
Sam barely contained a laugh. "Barhopping?"
Dean scowled at his brother's amusement. "His description, not mine."
Sam chuckled at his brother's weak defense of using that term and glanced out the window; blinking when he recognized a familiar late '70s Ford Ranchero Squire entering the parking lot; gravel crunching under its nearly bald tires.
"Hey..." Sam called, not even looking at Dean.
"Yeah..." Dean answered, having already noticed as well; his eyes tracking the vehicle's approach in the Impala's rearview.
Sam sighed, watching as Garth parked a few cars down from them, and then glanced at Dean across the bench seat. "Play nice," he reminded his brother, only half teasing.
Dean pulled a face; nonverbally communicating that he was making no such promises. "Two beers and we're gone..." he instead replied and opened the driver's side door; climbing out of the classic Chevy before ducking back down to stare at Sam. "I mean it."
Sam sighed again. "Fine," he agreed and exited the Impala's passenger side; falling in beside Dean as they walked toward Garth's clunker.
"Buenas noches, compadres..." Garth greeted, smiling and waving at the approaching brothers as he slammed the Ranchero's door and stuffed his hands in the pockets of his jacket; meeting Sam and Dean halfway as they all stood beneath one of the lights that helped illuminate the bar's sprawling parking lot.
Sam blinked and glanced up at the light; squinting and briefly rubbing his forehead as if it was too bright and made his head hurt.
Dean frowned at his brother's subtle expression and gesture; taking the nonverbal, unintentional cue and almost instantly stepping away from the light; knowing Sam and Garth would follow his lead...and knowing he would help relieve whatever discomfort the light was causing his brother.
Because regardless of what Sam said, Dean knew his brother's head still hurt more than the kid admitted; the hallucinations were indeed gone, but the headaches lingered.
Dean didn't need Sam to tell him; he could usually see it all over the kid's face – just like now – and would subtly do whatever had to be done to alleviate that pain...like walking away from a glaring parking lot light.
Sam glanced at Dean as they crossed to the bar's entrance, smiling his thanks.
Dean returned the slight smile and nodded before glancing over his shoulder at Garth as the other hunter tagged along behind them. "Where the hell have you been?"
Garth shrugged. "Got lost."
Dean paused mid-stride. "Lost?" he repeated and shook his head at the ridiculousness of that explanation. "You're the one who said to meet here."
"I know," Garth agreed and then laughed. "Looks different at night."
Dean arched a confused eyebrow and glanced at Sam.
"Oookay," Dean allowed and continued walking; freshly wondering what the hell he was doing there when he and Sam should be back at their motel room eating pizza, cleaning guns, and arguing over what to watch on television.
"Hey..." Garth called and motioned toward the sign beside the door. "Did you see? Karaoke night!"
Sam smiled tightly. "Yeah. We, um...we saw."
"Excellent," Garth praised and nodded his barely contained enthusiasm. "I wanted that to be a surprise. There's nothing like karaoke night at The Dover," he informed; referring to the bar as if it was in the same league as The Ryman.
"Sounds good," Sam politely replied and ignored Dean cutting his eyes at him.
"Oh, just you guys wait..." Garth warned and fondly slapped the brothers on their backs as he pushed by them and opened the door. "I've got something special planned for tonight," he told them over his shoulder and entered the bar.
"Special?" Dean repeated and then shook his head disgustedly. "Jesus. I can already tell I'm not drunk enough for this shit..." he told Sam and followed behind Garth.
Sam chuckled and entered the bar as well; blinking at the sudden brightness of all the neon signs shining in the entrance.
Dean frowned at his brother's expression as Sam stood beside him. "You okay?"
Sam nodded and opened his mouth to answer but stopped when a high-pitched squeal pierced the air.
"Oh my god!" a leggy blond chick exclaimed from across the bar and pointed at Garth as she ran toward him; her shorts living up to their name; her low-cut top barely containing her physical assets as she literally pushed people out of the way. "You're back!"
Garth beamed proudly. "I'm a man of my word," he chivalrously replied and then turned to introduce the Winchester brothers behind him. "I'd like you to meet a couple of my BFFs..."
Sam laughed openly at Garth's description of them; smirking an I-told-you-so grin when Dean cut his eyes at him.
"This is Sam and Dean," Garth told the blond.
Sam smiled politely.
"Hi, there..." Dean greeted smoothly and smiled as well.
But the blond didn't seem impressed; hardly glancing in the brothers' direction before refocusing on Garth.
Dean scowled at being so uncharacteristically blown off. "What the hell?" he mouthed to Sam.
Because while Dean didn't want to be an arrogant dick about it, it was pretty obvious that he – and even Sam – was hotter than Garth.
Yet this chick seemed to prefer the scrawny hunter over them?
What the hell?
"I'm so excited!" the blond proclaimed, as if that wasn't obvious from the way she was practically bouncing beside Garth. "Did you bring 'em?" she asked; her eyes seeming to roam the length of Garth's body. "And are you gonna do that thing again?" she asked suggestively. "You know...like last time?"
Dean's eyes widened at all the things that question could possibly mean as Sam shifted beside him; his prudish little brother clearly uncomfortable by the implications.
Garth chuckled humbly. "Well..." He paused, suddenly turning serious as he made direct eye contact with the woman standing mere inches from him. "Any way you want it..."
The blond bit her lower lip and smiled; clearly knowing her line in this exchange. "That's the way I need it."
"Any way you want it..." Garth repeated; his gaze intense.
The blond stared back.
Sam glanced at Dean.
Dean arched an eyebrow at the scene in front of them; vaguely wondering if this was real.
Garth smiled at the blond and then winked. "We just had ourselves a little Journey moment there."
"We sure did," the blond agreed and giggled like she was flirting with a rock star.
Dean rolled his eyes. "I need a drink," he announced and crossed to the bar.
"Good idea," Sam praised and followed behind his brother; hoping Dean didn't really make him drink water instead of beer.
Garth watched the brothers go and then winked again at the blond. "Will I see you later?"
The blond nodded. "Me and the girls will be right down front," she promised and motioned across the bar where several of her friends were staring and whispering.
Garth nodded, lifting her hand to his lips. "Until then..." he replied and kissed her dainty knuckles.
The blond squealed her delight, clutching her hand to her chest and watching as Garth walked away before excitedly returning to her group of friends; the girls predictably erupting into a flurry of chatter about the blond's encounter with Garth.
Sam sipped his beer thoughtfully – his analytical brain clearly trying to figure out what was going on – and glanced at his brother.
Dean shook his head as he leaned against the bar and took a long swig of his own beer. "What the hell was that?" he demanded as Garth approached.
"That?" Garth repeated, glancing over his shoulder at the blond before shrugging casually. "It's nothing. Just a groupie."
"A groupie?" Dean echoed, wondering what alternate universe they had now been sucked into...because this was surely a joke.
Garth nodded. "Oh, yeah," he confirmed; his tone a strange mix of cocky humility. "Here at The Dover, I'm a rock star, man – the King of Karaoke. Not to mention a gangsta of love..."
Sam almost choked on his mouthful of beer at Garth's description of himself; swallowing quickly and coughing afterwards as he held the back of his hand to his mouth.
Dean frowned his momentary concern and lightly patted Sam's back. "Easy, Sammy..." he murmured and then glanced back at Garth. "Come again."
"These are my stomping grounds," Garth further explained, vaguely gesturing to the bar. "Can't keep the chicks away when I'm here," he reported and shook his head like it was truly a hardship.
"Is that right?" Dean asked; his tone a mix of snark and confusion as he remembered how that blond had practically thrown herself on top of Garth.
"Yep," Garth confirmed simply and then sighed after a beat of silence. "Well...you guys enjoy your beers. I gotta stay sober. It's almost show time..."
Sam arched a surprised eyebrow. "You sing?"
Garth nodded. "I'm a triple threat," he informed proudly. "Singing, dancing..." His voice faded as he reached into the pockets of his jacket. "...and puppetry," he finished, pulling out two sock puppets in a grand flourish.
Sam stared in shock.
"What the hell..." Dean muttered and shook his head. "You brought Mr. Fizzles to karaoke night?"
"Mr. Fizzles?" Sam asked; tilting his head like a confused puppy as he glanced at Dean.
"That one," Dean briefly explained, using the beer bottle he still grasped to point to the grey sock with the red felt lips, blue button eyes, and multi-colored string hair.
Sam shook his head; still confused. "How do you know that?"
"Because they've met," Garth explained. "Back when we were hunting that Shojo together..."
"Oh..." Sam replied and nodded as though that explanation made perfect sense before taking another swig of his beer.
Dean sighed. "Mr. Fizzles helped us interrogate this little girl..."
"Because he's a professional," Garth added and glanced toward the grey sock puppet. "We've been working together for years...kinda like partners."
Dean laughed dryly. "Yeah," he agreed and drank from his beer.
Sam nodded as though he completely understood this conversation. "So, um..." He cleared his throat and gestured toward the other sock puppet. "That one?"
"I have no idea," Dean replied and took yet another swing of beer; the night seeming to quickly tailspin into the disaster he had expected as soon as he had stupidly agreed to meet Garth at this bar.
"This is Mr. Fizzles's special friend...Miss Sparkle," Garth introduced and waved the girl puppet around. "I decorated her myself. Just like Mr. Fizzles..."
Sam nodded again. "That's nice," he politely responded, looking strangely uncomfortable at being expected to interact with sock puppets as though they were real.
Sam sighed as his eyes scanned Miss Sparkle; taking in the abundance of yellow string hair, the hot pink felt lips, the blue button eyes, and the Marilyn Monroe mole.
"Um..." Sam began. "...where did you get the pink sock?"
"My ex," Garth responded with a casual shrug.
Dean arched an eyebrow. "You stole a chick's socks?"
"Just one sock," Garth corrected. "Messes with the mind more when you do it that way. She'll never stop looking for that one missing sock..."
"Wow," Dean remarked, not knowing what else to say.
"Oh yeah," Garth continued; thinking Dean was amazed by his ruthlessness. "You don't want to get on my bad side. I will mess you up."
Sam smiled as Dean snorted...and then both brothers simultaneously swigged from their beers.
"Okay..." Garth sighed. "You guys know I love ya, but I gotta get in the zone before a show. And you might wanna move down front for a better view of the stage..." he advised, tucking his puppets back in his jacket pockets.
Dean leaned forward, angling for a better view of where Garth would be performing; taking in the swarming crowd, the bright lights, the unnecessarily huge speakers...and deciding that although his brother would be a good sport about it and wouldn't complain, it would all be a little too much for Sam.
Because Sam's slight squint still testified to his slight headache from earlier in the parking lot; and the last thing Dean wanted was for his brother's budding headache to blossom into a full-on migraine.
"I think we're good," Dean responded to Garth's invitation to move closer to the stage. "Besides...wanna leave plenty of room for your, uh...groupies."
Dean almost choked over the word, but Garth only nodded. "Good thinking," he praised and slapped Dean's shoulder. "Catch you both on the flip side..." he told the brothers and then disappeared into the crowd.
Dean watched him go; shaking his head and finishing his beer before glancing at Sam.
Sam smiled. "This should be...interesting," he commented and sat on the nearest barstool; settling in for Garth's performance as Dean ordered another beer and then sat beside him.
The crowd at front of the bar began to shift forward as Garth mounted the steps of the stage; the blond chick from earlier, along with her entourage, migrating from their corner to the front row just as she had promised Garth earlier; it being apparent now why she had scanned the length of the hunter's scrawny body – because she had been looking for those ridiculous puppets.
Dean shook his head again. "Did you see that chick all over him?"
Sam nodded. "They were having a Journey moment."
Dean snorted. "Yeah," he replied dryly; because it had been obvious that had not been their first such moment together. "Maybe I should start using Journey lyrics as pickup lines..." he mused, watching as Garth crossed to the center of the stage.
"Or maybe not..." Sam advised, trying not to cringe at that thought...and failing.
Dean shrugged and drank from his beer as the crowd suddenly erupted at the sight of Garth.
Garth beamed, graciously accepting their applause and cheers and then motioned for them to quiet down. "Well, well..." he drawled, surveying the crowd. "Good to see so many familiar faces here tonight," he praised and then paused. "I just got one question for ya – are you ready to rock?"
The crowd responded loudly that yes...they were indeed ready to rock.
Garth shook his head disapprovingly. "Let me try that again...are you ready to rock?"
The crowd responded even louder and with more enthusiasm than before.
Dean arched an amused eyebrow and glanced at Sam; both brothers unable to stop themselves from chuckling.
Because who the hell knew Garth was indeed a rock star at The Dover?
"Alright! Rock on!" Garth praised his fans for their response. "Now that's what I'm talkin' about! But before we can rock, we gotta welcome our two special guests..."
Sam shifted on the barstool, suddenly nervous that Garth was about to call out his and Dean's names...or something equally embarrassing.
But in the next moment, Garth reached in his jacket pockets and revealed Mr. Fizzles and Miss Sparkle.
The crowd went wild.
Dean frowned at their unexpected reaction and looked at his brother sitting next to him. "Seriously?" he asked before taking another swig of beer.
Sam shrugged. "I guess so..." he replied; not understanding it either.
"Alright..." Garth said again, quieting his crowd. "The first song tonight goes out to two of my best friends...two guys who I love and would do anything for..."
Dean immediately tensed; knowing what was coming.
Sam smiled tightly as Garth stared straight at them.
"Sam and Dean..." Garth called, squinting in the spotlight. "This is for you. No matter how shitty life gets...don't stop believin', guys."
Sam nodded quickly, wanting this special moment to be over and forcing another smile as half the crowd turned to look at him and his brother.
Dean sighed but didn't smile; taking another swig of beer instead as the music began to blare...that familiar keyboard riff identifying Garth's song choice. "I think we're about to have our own Journey moment, Sammy."
Sam laughed nervously, drinking from his beer and watching as Mr. Fizzles began to lip-sync.
"Just a small town girl..." Mr. Fizzles told the crowd, glancing at Miss Sparkle beside him. "Livin' in a lonely world. She took the midnight train going anywhere..."
Miss Sparkle nodded, knowing her cue. "Just a city boy...born and raised in south Detroit," she sang, looking at Mr. Fizzles. "He took the midnight train going anywhere..."
The crowd went crazy in the guitar riff that followed; the lights flashing appropriately with the ending drumbeat before the next verse.
Dean laughed and glanced at Sam, who was also smiling.
Because it wasn't every day you saw sock puppets sing a Journey song...and actually kinda kick ass at it.
Mr. Fizzles resumed his performance, with Miss Sparkle joining in a few chords later; both sock puppets singing their hearts out about shadows searching in the night and living just to find emotion...and about that movie that never ends – it just goes on and on and on and on.
The crowd went wild again when the second guitar riff let loose; the entire bar practically vibrating with energy as the song built to the climax of that lyric everybody knew so well – that supposed anthem of a generation.
"Don't stop believin'..." Mr. Fizzles and Miss Sparkle heartily advised the crowd, with Garth the Puppet Master beaming in the center and singing as well; staring straight at his two best friends at the rear of the bar. "Hold on to that feelin'..."
Dean chuckled; resisting the urge to pull out his lighter to join the few others that were beginning to make an appearance in the crowd; their tiny flames swaying in approval.
Dean glanced at Sam; pleased to see his brother genuinely smiling – dimples and all – as Garth and the sock puppets continued to sing; realizing it had been entirely too long since he had seen the kid look so relaxed and happy.
Dean took another swig of his beer and refocused on the stage; also realizing that maybe Garth's dedication was right on target; maybe those ending lyrics were just what he and his brother needed to hear after all.
"Don't stop believin'..." the song continued; the crowd's singing now drowning out Garth and his sock puppets on the stage – and the crowd now also including Sam and Dean; both brothers glancing at each other and smiling before they joined in...because why the hell not?
They were alive; they were together; and they were receiving personal dedications – and damn good advice – from the King of Karaoke himself.
What better reason to sing?