Rating: PG - Gen - Humor
Spoilers: General (for aired episodes only)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
(for those who could use some sillyretarded!Sam for a change...)
Summary: The boys have a job to do at a run down nature center.
“It says don’t tap the glass.”
“No, it doesn’t.”
Sam looked up pointedly at the sign that was carefully laminated and scotch taped right up over their heads. The tape was yellowed and curling at the edges. The unadorned black and white placard was placed exactly in plain sight. Which was apparently exactly where no one would ever really see it.
He’d been to places like this before in various shapes and sizes but this one definitely was on the lower side of the spectrum. Community Eco Outreach. Science Fun Labs. Discover your Forests. Nature Center Classsroom. They all had the same names and about the same kind of funding. Something close to nothing coming at a slow trickle from the local government and depending largely on donations and volunteers.
They’d wandered by the dusty hand painted exhibits filled with once live birds alighting on carefully crafted tree branches. They passed solemn charts of the nearby river and its swiftly diminishing tributaries. Sam had ignored his brother’s look when he dropped five bucks in the hand carved bird house with the sign that said: Every seed counts! The front counter was even doubling as some little bake sale for extra funds. Talk about scraping by.
Unwrapping his second 25¢ chocolate rice crispy treat, he took another look up and down the dim hallway.
There was something about the white blue light glowing from inside banks of aquariums that was always peaceful to stand around in. The tanks were all different sizes with all sorts of various life inside to gaze at if that was what you wanted to do. The beaten carpet had seemed to have seen its share of traffic if not better days, a small sign up ahead promised small mammals and birds just around the corner. All indigenous to the local woodlands and all guests due not having been able to cut out there in the wild. Car incidents. Dogs off their leashes. Some simply found sick and dying on a sympathetic doorstep.
Shoving the rest of the crispy chocolate into his mouth he thought it was kind of nice that even homeless finches had somewhere to go if need be.
His brother’s fingertip was still steadily poking the tank where a gigantic star fish was latched to the ceiling of the enclosure. It's underside was a flurry of pustules with thick yellow arms stretched to almost fold itself in half.
“Fish are mellow.” Dean declared. “Always wanted a fish.”
Sam briefly envisioned a goldfish clinging onto dear life as it sloshed back and forth in a gatorade bottle on the Impala’s dashboard.
“What about a plant? Sam suggested.
“Too mellow.” Dean answered.
Suddenly spotting a slightly more frisky neon blue starfish on the other side of the tank, Dean moved to start tapping at that one instead. Looking at the old sign again, Sam felt his simmering annoyance wash and fade. Smiling a little he found it replaced with something else entirely.
Sam had certain instincts he usually ignored for the common good and harmony of the day. Thoughts that never lead to actions that he knew would start a cascade which could not be stopped by anything but its own violent and tragic conclusion.
He followed his brother to the opposite side of the enormous tank.
If he knew what his brother loved more than anything, it was to be touched inappropriately. As kids it was one of the few sure fire ways Sam could assure himself a nice solid ass kicking. If your hand wasn’t there to either put pressure over a severed artery or douse a fire, it had better not be there at all. There were few exceptions. Perhaps a good timely shove off some train tracks was maybe one of them.
Moving behind his brother, he experimentally poked Dean softly once in the middle of his back between the shoulder blades.
“What?” Dean mumbled, entranced by the brief but graceful rise and fall of a starfish limb as it slowly explored the glass.
Sam poked him again, this time firm enough that Dean was shoved forward a little.
“What?” Dean growled, shifting his attention to an elaborate shrimp with an equally elaborate name that was scrambling along with its frenzy of legs across the rocky floor. “Hey, check out that crazy dude—”
Bracing himself, Sam starting jabbing Dean right in the same place about as hard as he could without sending his brother through the tank glass itself.
“Hey! Hey! HEY!”
“How do you think the freakin’ sea anemone feels?”
“I dunno?” Dean brusquely shrugged his jacket back on up over his shoulders. “As bad as this?”
Sam paused, his hands on his brother’s vise like grip which was still locked firm on his nipple. A nipple which was twisted, he was convinced, at about as close to 360 degrees from where it usually peacefully resided.
“Can I help you?” A very short and very thin young woman asked.
She wore a pale green T-shirt that read the center’s logo at the shoulder. No name tag. Sam mustered up a smile, punching Dean’s hand away while trying to get his jacket back the way it should be. His brother allowed him to with one last parting sharp pinch. Sam closed his eyes for just a second, resisting the urge to clutch at his chest like a love sick actor in a soundless film. That one was a gift that was going to keep on giving for at least a couple more days.
Sam’s mustered smile settled into a genuine one.
“Yes,” Dean cleared his throat and assumed a voice with purpose. “I think you can, we’re looking for your eels.”
Sam wasn’t sure why Dean had gone ahead used the voice. They didn’t have to pretend to be anyone in particular this time around. They could just be a couple of guys that were really into eels. Those guys must exist. Sam had never met one but he’d put down every dollar in his pocket that someone, somewhere out there had an “I ♥ eels!” sticker on their car. He caught the corner of his mouth try to twitch up in a much larger smile, a smile that was way too much for the hope of eels. Calming his face down, he watched the bewildered look that came over the young woman’s face at the very stern and specific request.
Sam supposed it could have been worse. They could be asking about her various combinations of sedges, sphagnum mosses, ericasceous shrubs, and insectivorous herbs.
“Eels?” She blinked behind glasses that were too large and too round for her face.
The girl had weekend volunteer written all over her. No one would be here on a bright sunny Saturday afternoon unless they had some community service hours to fill or some academic credits to finish. Or a deep love for nature’s mediocrity. On further thought, Sam didn’t really have any reason to believe that the any of the three reasons were mutually elusive.
“All of our anguilliformes are down that way, past the decapods crustaceans and on the east wall.”
Sam quickly translated her directions into 'down the hall on the left'. Thanking her, he moved to do what he was told before she decided to grade them or something. It wasn’t a very long hike. The hall turned a sharp corner, ending up a dead end of an alcove with a closet like door that read: Staff Only. From the sounds behind it Sam could tell that’s were the marine enthusiasts did all the real work. Hissing water filters. Monitoring algae. Feeding frozen blood worms and whatever it was that each special vertebrate had on its special little aquatic menu.
The anguilliforme section of the center itself had an impressive array of a total of two whole aquariums. Sam had to admit, although there were only two, they were both massive. One tank held its owner in plain sight. A thick snake like creature that was coiled very comfortably amongst some arranged and brightly colored rocks. Its head was mottled and sharp, jagged teeth jutting up from its lower jaw. It rolled one round gray eye to regard them with a cold blank menace.
“Geeze.” Was all Dean had to say about that.
The upper tank wasn’t so obvious. All there was to be seen was the gentle sway of plastic foliage, a scattered collection of bleached white seashells and a very realistic skull, complete with a jaunty eye patch.
A bit more realistic then the owners and operators knew.
Sam pulled out the plastic bag from his jacket pocket and shook it out.
“Where’s the anguil- angu- where’s the eel?” Dean murmured leaning down to peer into the deep tanks depths.
Sam’s gaze flickered to the overhead placard that clearly read: This exhibit is Unoccupied due to Maintenance.
“I don’t know.” He said in his most subdued and concerned voice. He leaned down next to his brother to get a good look at a lot of empty water. “Could be anywhere. Probably a big sucker too.”
Dean agonized a few moments before pulling off his jacket and rolling up a sleeve. He’d lost the coin toss for who would go fishing for cursed human skulls 23 miles ago in the car. With a small shove he slid the black plastic top off the giant enclosure. Placing it as quietly as he could up against the wall, he reconsidered whatever dive plan he had in his head. With a shrug he gave himself a lift up so he could look down into the tank from top side. Sam watched his brother perform another careful examination of all potential areas for waiting predatory anguilliformes. Anything annoyed and hungry would be happy to find some idiots arm and delicious hand floundering around in the sanctity of their home.
“Do you see it?” Dean asked worriedly.
It wasn’t exactly like lying.
Sam kept his smile under control like somehow all life depended on it. All he had to do was wait. Wait until Dean was standing up all the way up on the small wooden ledge that ran along the floor to give him some leverage. All he had to do was wait for that precise silent and tense moment when all Dean was expecting would be a savage eel attack from any direction.
Sam got up close behind him.
Dean cautiously reached into the cold water, groaning when he found that he wasn’t even half down to his target when it became more than shoulder deep. Rubbing his eyes, Sam raged against his twitching hands that wanted to ignore the beauty of timing and just get the glorious work done. With a deep sigh Dean jumped up. Bracing his waist with one hand on the tank edge, he held his breath and took the precariously balanced plunge right in.
Two startling hard grabs around the hip area did it.
The sudden urgent shout of EEL helped a little bit too. The hand Dean had up at his waist slipped, and instead of the half dunking that had been planned, Dean went pretty much all the way in with the exception of his boots.
Sam had time to wonder what the look on that girl’s face would be like when she saw them again. He had to concentrate even harder on not wetting his own jeans as he fell backwards against the wall, sliding down onto the floor and trying to breathe. Deluges of water sloshed nosily over the tank’s rim while his brother attempted to kick back out of a cursed eel tank. An eel-less eel tank that was. He had to cover his eyes when Dean finally managed to dislodge himself from the frigid depths, slipping backwards and completely disoriented. Missing the step on the way down, he landed hard on the soaked carpet. For a moment, the only sound was the harsh raw gasping as Dean coughed out an indecent amount of eel water.
Somewhat triumphantly, his brother wordlessly held up the skull in one shaking near hypothermic fist. Sam had wondered if Dean would have the wherewithal to keep the task at hand while he was down there.
Dean started to get up.
Suddenly swallowing a little nervously, Sam quickly got to his feet too.
The public beating that would be performed out in front of innocent children up and down the petting zoo would probably end up on the news.
Sam sighed and let his eyes close again.
It was going to be so completely worth it.