Title: Flip Side
Rating: PG - Gen
Spoilers: General (for aired episodes only)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are by their various creators.
Summary: The boys are stuck in a quiet gray laundromat, during a quiet gray day, in the middle of a quiet gray town.
"Have you ever noticed how many things in our life depend on quarters?"
Sam looked at Dean sideways, breaking his steady vigilant gaze away from the glass window of the old dryer. He'd been staring at the hypnotic tumble for the better part of the dark rainy afternoon. Not exactly how he wanted to spend their time but they had precious little choice unless they wanted to start hunting their own clothes. The only plus that presented itself from the task was that the place, much like the small run down town, was deserted. No wait for an open machine, no screaming kids, not even some sleeping homeless guy taking advantage of a row of plastic chairs. It was just them and every article of clothing they owned that wasn't presently on their body.
For some reason he was unwilling to crack a book or listen to music. The lost pet photocopies, notices for the local church and various tag sales tacked in layers all over the walls held no interest. Sam felt like being as blank as the grim white wash of the rainy cloudy sky outside.
His mind finally meandered back to what his brother had said.
"Like... besides clean clothes?"
Dean opened his mouth and then shut it.
"I guess not much of our lives depend on quarters."
Sam thought about it for several minutes and begrudgingly saw the logic in his brother's point, no matter how convoluted it had become during the journey from Dean's mind to his mouth. Sam didn't want to admit that in a way, Dean was absolutely right. When your life didn't comprise of much else than drive, maybe sleep, eat, drive, eat, hunt, drive...
The thought of the neverending cycle of it made his throat tighten.
Laundry was almost a strange respite. In a horrible, boring, torture kind of way. And you couldn't keep reliving the tedious experience, as his brother had pondered, without lots and lots of quarters. No quarters and you were screwed. You could have a hundred dollar bill in your pocket and your socks would still stay dirty.
In the years of Stanford and all the poets and masters combined, Sam honestly couldn't think of a greater irony written in any tome right at the moment. With a half smile he privately considered that his older brother would have made a great philosophy student. Or at least an interesting one. Whatever his caliber, Dean would have made the weekly four hour Plato's Ethics and Epistemology lecture and discussion much more insightful. If he managed to stay awake.
Dean shifted in the seat next to him, flipping leisurely through a tattered MotorWorld magazine he'd somehow found out from under the pile of year old Better Homes & Gardens and a disturbing amount of Christian Science literature. They had once jokingly referred to these random ancient piles of greasy magazines that ended up in ancient random coin washes, as 'the small town libraries'. It was funny at the time but now the thought made Sam's brow furrow with a strange sensation of intellectual claustrophobia. A gust of wind sent a spray of heavy raindrops against the broad windows, obscuring the outside completely, shutting them both up in this sagging room with its yellowed lights and water stained ceiling.
He'd be more than happy when they had finished up their business and could just get the hell out of here.
"Video games." Dean blurted triumphantly.
"Huh?" Sam responded in distraction, his eyes trained back on the chaotic steady circular thump of wet flannel and jeans before him.
"They take quarters."
"Well, they do."
Sam fought back another yawn along with his unease. The rain streaming down the window walls of the dimly lit laundromat made the outside world glossy and indistinct. Gray and formless. The steady drum of water mixing with the hum and thud of the machines. It really was like they existed somewhere else sometimes. Like the flip side of the world that they walked in had an actual physical place that they had somehow crossed into.
"Hey, what about those claw grabby um, 'stuffed animal and stupid cheap shit' machines?"
His brother shrugged.
"Just making conversation."
The decrepit dryer suddenly seized and a sudden loud shrill grating buzzer went off to announce its finish. Startled, Sam felt his claustrophobia turn swiftly visceral. In fact he had to get out of here and get some fresh air right now. He stood and fumbled for his jacket.
"I-I'm getting a soda from around the corner, do you want one?"
"Sure," Dean said into his magazine. "Get me something purple. And none of that decaffeinated crap either."
The car shone wet and slick black just outside, parked on the curb. The streets were devoid of people and cars but the lone traffic light at the corner cycled from green to red anyway.
Sam suddenly didn't want to leave Dean alone in this gray dismal room. He felt as if he walked out of the place and looked back through its dreary windows Dean would be gone. Vanish as if he had never even been there. Swallowed up by the aged plaster walls and scuffed linoleum and leaving Sam alone in this empty shadow of the real world. It was childish, he knew. The feeling pulled at his memory as a kid. He hadn't always wanted Dean by his side but he always had needed his older brother in his line of sight. No matter where they were or what was happening, the presence of him had made Sam feel inexplicably and profoundly safe. Back then, it was pretty much the only thing that had.
"Walk with me?" Sam tried to sound causal but he still heard the embarrassed seriousness in his voice. The way it made Dean look swiftly up at him made him bite at the inside of his lip.
Dean glanced out at the wet cold sidewalks with mild offense. "But who will guard our scandalous underpants?"
"Just come on."
"Geeze." Dean grumbled tossing his read down. "Why do we both gotta get wet?"
Sam pulled the lone and only abandoned black umbrella out from a dented stand by the door. "We both aren't."
"Real nice." Dean mumbled as he zipped up the front of his jacket and flipped his collar up.
Sam suppressed a grin as he pushed open the door.
He was feeling better already.