Rating: PG - Gen
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Sam receives a random compliment from a stranger and tries to return the favor. With dire results.
Sam stood in the check out aisle and listened to the static of the muzak coming from somewhere overhead.
The store wasn’t very busy considering it was deep into the AM. In fact, the guy that had been waxing the floors as Sam shopped for gauze and some rubbing alcohol, had to halt his duties to man the cash register. It figured that there’d still be a line.
Sam was number three. He thought he might be number three for quite a long time given that number one was a lady in her golden years with about an entire shopping cart filled with half priced cans of tuna fish. She also seemed to be counting out every penny she had out onto the counter.
Very very slowly.
He readjusted the grip he had on his purchases and shifted his weight. He thought of his brother sitting comfortably in the car just outside, his bleeding hand wrapped neatly in a wad Dairy Queen napkins, the music on, the heater pleasantly blowing—
Sam was suddenly ripped from his thoughts by being addressed by the person ahead of him in line. It was strange that at this point in his life that he usually worked on a level which made other average people almost nonexistent in his world. They walked and they talked but they rarely if ever had anything to do with him. They certainly never spoke to him directly unless he was in their way or someone needed the time. Being directly acknowledged was like getting a thumb’s up from a gold fish.
“I said, nice shirt.” The woman said. “Where’d you get it?”
Sam looked down at the shirt he’d been wearing since last Thursday. He was wearing a slightly fresher T-shirt underneath a button up that he hadn’t bothered to button up. It was kind of blue and had some stripes on it. He’d never thought of it as particularly nice. He’d never thought of it being particularly anything except acceptably warm if it got cold out. It took him a second to recall just exactly how he’d even gotten it. He soon remembered. He’d got it out of a sales bin shortly after everything he owned burned up out in California.
“T-thanks.” He answered. “Um… I don’t know, it was a gift.”
She snapped some gum she was chewing, her arms filled with those pre-made bag sets of women’s underwear and a gallon sized plastic bottle of Arizona iced tea.
“Girlfriend?” She gave a little smile. “Cause it sure does suit you.”
Sam felt himself smile back nervously, wondering if this woman who could be about the age it would require her to qualify as his possible mother, was hitting on him. Here. In the check out aisle in a 24 hour Walgreens at about 3AM. Hitting on a guy buying an armful of supplies needed if maybe someone had recently lost a limb.
“My son?” She went on. “He’s got eyes like yours. I buy him stuff like that all of the time. But yours is real nice. I bet it’s from The Gap.”
Stepping back, Sam blinked and quickly reassessed the entire situation. This woman was a mother, a mother who had son probably around his age. There was nothing here that was shady, strange, or even in bad taste. Out of no where, she was just giving him an honest to God compliment. The very notion of the kindness that lay behind all of it silenced him for a second. Looking back down at the shirt again he shrugged to himself. Suited him huh? Sure, why not. That was what clothes were supposed to do. Make you look nice. He saw people that looked nice all the time but he never thought about actually telling them.
The tuna lady was finally done. Sam watched the woman with the underwear and iced tea pay for her items.
And what exactly was wrong with giving perfect strangers kind words? What was wrong with just walking up to someone and letting them know that you thought they had nice hair, or an awesome dog, or that their laugh made you want to laugh too? He gave the woman a quick smile of farewell as she collected her bags and took her leave. Of course when it was Sam’s turn, the register suddenly jammed up. Assuring Sam that all he needed was a key, the man made his way down the row of empty registers and disappeared around the corner to some locked up office.
After a few moments, Sam wasn’t surprised to see Dean appear through the front doors, looking around in annoyed expectation. Sam took the moment to really study him, the kind of examination you could only really do when your subject was unaware of your scrutiny.
His brother quickly spotted him and started to walk in his direction.
“Why aren’t we outta here?” Dean asked shortly.
Sam gestured to the cash box. “Needs a key.”
Sighing in pained frustration, Dean looked around for the person that would allow him access to the Lanacane that lay nice and tightly packaged before him.
Taking a deep breath, Sam figured what better time than the present?
“Hey Dean,” Sam said steadily.
“Where’d the dude go, next state over?” Dean grumbled.
“You look really um…. you look….”
Gingerly holding his injured hand, Dean turned and looked at him in confusion.
“Y-You look really nice.”
Dean’s confusion shifted to pure bafflement.
“You’re wearing green, it makes…” Sam was aware that he was heading for a full on babble. “I don’t know. It makes your eyes look really green. Greener. I guess I even forgot you had green eyes. Well, I guess I can’t forget something like that but I just –”
Dean’s expression darkened.
“What!” Sam protested. “You never wear green—“
“How about I tell you that you look nice?” Dean demanded.
“How would you like that?” His brother asked with a hard poke to the chest as punctuation.
“Okay! Okay! I wouldn’t like it!” Sam said hurriedly, his hands up in defeat. “I just wanted to—“
“Wanted to what?” Dean winced as he pulled off the mass of sticky napkins from his hand. “Freak me out?”
“I just thought,” Sam sighed and shoved his hands deep in his jean pockets. “I thought maybe I should tell people stuff. Stuff like that.”
“That’s a great idea Sam.” Dean muttered, grabbing the medicine off the counter and ripping it open. “What better way to make yerself look like a total freakin’ wack job.”
Sam watched Dean gather up the things on the check out and then toss down a couple of bills that would more than cover it. Their business here was done.
“I own about three shirts Sam.”
He followed Dean wordlessly, grabbing a few bags of colorful candy from the rack considering his brother had paid for more than they were taking anyway.
Dean added over his shoulder. “Odds are you’ve seen me in them all before.”
Sam shoved a gummy worm into his mouth, realizing that unknowingly, he had been on the right path of introverted, unsocial passivity all along. To communicate was not only unnatural, it was wrong and strange.
“And besides,” Dean laughed a little bit as he backed out of the door. “This shirt is yours.”
Sam thought it had looked a little big. Actually, a lot big.
“And the jeans? You might recognize them.”
Sam blinked down at the cuffs that were folded and bunched up down around his brother’s boots.
“Ok, I take it back.” Sam said. “You look fucking ridiculous.”
“Thank you.” Dean breathed in relief.