Author: jinkamoo (I'm posting on her behalf)
Title: Spare Change
Spoilers: General "Sam Issues"
Disclaimer: SPN and its characters are owned by his various creators.
Summary: Laundromat at 3AM + Sweaty Shirtless Sammy + Crow
Sam Winchester woke, the plastic old bolted chair digging into his back. His last T- shirt was in the wash, his skin sticky from sweat. The stale smell of cigarette smoke hung thick the air, made worse by the heat. Lulled by the thrum of the rusting industrial dryers and the inescapable humidity, he'd dozed off with his legs halfway off the row of chairs.
Lathergic, he rubbed his face, blinking at his watch.
Slowly, he got up to check the still dryer. With a small frown, he opened the door and felt the clothes.
"Shit." The crap machine had died half way. The load was still damp.
He had forgotten when preservation of the mundane had become sacred. A long time ago when he hadn't been much of a person this wasn't so big a deal. Now he reserved these moments to keep him behind the threshold. Regularity. Uniformity. These words no longer had much meaning anymore. Or the same meaning. He had become twelve years old again, his scenery changing day by day. Washing in dingy backwater laundromats by hours few things moved in. He indulged in solitude. It was better that way. No one to hide the smell of miles and miles from. No one to explain deep rust colored stains that covered too much. Clean clothes still meant something. Freshness that made the next wherever feel like
home. Besides, if he didn't do it no one would.
Sam rammed his fist against the slot, spurned by the fury of the last quarter.
"You suck." He told it.
The dryer had won. He satisfied himself with a kick, the futile sound echoing in the sodium-lit space. He leaned against the row of aging washing machines, arms folded across his bare chest. No quarter. No laundry. No luck.
It was too hot to even be angry.
He rubbed his eyes and lumbered to the sink. The faucet creaked, trickling water making a hollow sound against the basin. He let the cold stream run over his fingers, pressing them to his eyelids, his face, the feverish back of his neck. He had not been sleeping well.
The clouds at night were dark curtains descending on the distant landscape, suspended and unmoving. From the window they appeared to touch the ground, promising rain. It had not broken yet, leaving the world hot and silent in anticipation. The heat and humidity were bad. Sam stood sweating in the steamy, uncomfortable laundromat and assessed his options.
He needed change. He turned a bloodshot eye to the dirty window. Nothing hopeful. Just the parking lot, a pay phone and the highway beyond.
The pay phone.
It was not much cooler outside but it was an escape from sweltering hassle of a broken dryer. Even the dusty dryness of the parking lot was better than inside. A weak breeze fanned his chest as he walked across the empty stretch of broken asphalt, his path lit only by the neon glare of the laundromat and a lone streetlight.
Sam's sneakers crunched the gritty pile of broken beer bottle surrounding the pay phone. Despondently, he checked the slot. Empty.
The bumper of the nearby pickup squeaked beneath him when he slumped on it, defeated. He was sweating again, his bangs oily across his forehead. He ran a hand across the dampness at the back of his neck, sighing in frustration. With nothing left to focus on, he looked up. The sky was slowly shifting, the sun seeping onto the horizon. Dark streaks of red and orange cut up the distant darkness, shimmering
colors hyperbright and surreal. He had never seen a sky look so strange.
Back when he had been a different person, he might have hesitated. Sam's skin prickled at a loud rustle of wings and the click of claws against metal. A large crow, coal black feathers coated in dust, perched on the hood of the car.
"Hi." The crow's speech was lilted with a Midwestern twang. A subtle bent to the vowels. "Feel nice?"
Sam shook his head, a weak chuckle rising in his throat. At three in the morning in the middle of nowhere, anything seemed possible.
"I'll head off if you're busy?" The dark wings bristled and extended.
"S'okay." He sighed. "No one else to talk to?"
"Nope." The crow admitted, pecking at a piece of broken glass. "Never have change though."
"Me neither." Sam dug deep into his jeans pocket, plunked down the only coin he felt. The bird chuckled, dry and throaty.
"Ahh, come to papa, shiny!" Pleased, it took the nickel in its beak, bobbed its head to weigh it. "This'll be enough to get me goin' at the slots!" The crow said happily, eyes like black rain drops in its head.
Sam half smiled.
"Soon as I get the wife knocked up, I'm out. I don't like it here." The crow explained. "Say, what brings you round?"
"Laundry." Sam tossed a rock.
"Nah, I mean Dakota."
"Wanna talk about it?"
The clouds had begun to move. Sam watched the dawn turn gold and angry, on the verge of rain. It felt like malice, an ill omen. But then things tended to these days. Yellow skies and talking crows. Would the world look different when the job was done?
"I wanna believe good and true things still exist in reality." He said finally, running a hand through his hair. "But to be honest, I've found reality unreliable."
"Well, I'm talking to a bird."
"Touche." The throaty chuckle again. Sam paused, unsure of what else to say. Attentively, the crow turned its attention to the weather.
"Rain soon." It commented, worrying at its feathers. "That's good." Sam nodded.
When the dawn couldn't be angry anymore it wept, gold swallowed by gray. Fat drops pelted his shoulders and back, disturbing the dust and the heat. Sam felt his head nod onto his chest, suddenly tired.
"You goin out now?"
"Looks like it." He couldn't open his eyes, lying back against the warm hood of the pickup.
The sound of wings next to his head made his eyelids flutter. He did not see it take off and fade into the white morning, carrying its tiny fortune in its claw. He didn't mind the cool damp seeping into his bones or whoever owned the pickup. He was on the verge of rest and it had been too long since. He'd slept once upon a time in Stanford. Then along came Dean.
"Rise and shine dude."
Dean in a questionable Pink Floyd concert shirt and a pair of old jeans had him by the shoulder. He blinked rapidly, disoriented. Dean looked and sounded disheveled, having just woken up himself.
"Jesus Sam, what the hell are you doing?" Dean's concern flickered in his gruffness. "You alright?"
Sam sighed, raising himself on his elbow. "Ran outta change." He said groggily.
"So what? You decided to just take a nap out here?"
"Sorry." He felt Dean's hand pull him up and off the truck. His damp jeans clung to his skin, warm and uncomfortable but he didn't mind. The morning people were trickling in, parking their cars around them. Life in the real world had started.
"You look like shit."
Sam yawned. "Yeah, I know."
"Come on, finish up man. I ain't huntin in rancid threads." Dean turned and paused lifting his sneaker in the pile of glass. "Hey wait." He bent down to pick something up.
"Here." He deposited it into Sam's hand. "Get moving. And put on a shirt, will ya?"
Sam wiped the muddy quarter aganst his jeans and put it in his pocket.