Rating: PG - YED POV - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: YED POV - The demon likes to check in on his investments from time to time.
Opening his eyes was a little like getting off a train onto an unknown station.
Sometimes the view was dark and sometimes it was dazzling but it was always different. He slowly lifted his head to a smoldering cigarette burning down to the filter between two fingers. There was pain there if he chose to feel it, something relentlessly grinding away at his lower gut and eating a path up his spine. Judging from the liver spots covering his hands and the half finished glass of cheap malt, he idly wondered which variety of cancer was winning the race in the sack of flesh he had found. There were several other empty glasses on the small table where he sat alone.
A packed ashtray had overflowed onto the scratched varnish blurred by the overlapping stains of water rings. Buried in along with lipstick smudged butts was the flesh toned plastic of a used bandage. It was the large kind for particularly nasty gashes. The grimy creases still held vaguely onto the shape of a knuckle, the gauze square was soaked rust brown and hanging over the beveled edge like a question mark. A man behind him didn’t even get up off his barstool to find somewhere else more private to start throwing up. The sounds of retching were almost causal, the reactions of those nearby filled with breathless merriment instead of disgust or concern.
When it came right down to it there was no such thing as cheap seats in the theater of the world these days. A blood-spattered weeping stranger could be seen aired every night on the news for free. However, what the advertisement driven networks didn’t send right into your living room for kicks was actually much better. As usual, to get the quality stuff, you had to go out and pay for it. In the land of plenty there were people that spent their entire lives manufacturing ideas more hideous than what was provided in reality. But even the multi-million dollar efforts to sicken weren’t of much interest to him. The category he personally liked the most wasn’t usually quite so cinematic. There was much more to be appreciated about the inflictions that couldn’t be efficiently written into a marketable screenplay.
There was really nothing like the horror of the subtle. Call him old fashioned but he’d take the understated any day.
Beyond the gore of the 5 o’clock headlines or a graphic fictional rape illustrated frame by frame by the extra sophisticated, he had always sought out the finer edge of mankind’s ache. He enjoyed the nuances of the human being’s acknowledgment of what really cut to the core. One of his favorites was the look in a man’s eyes at the realization of knowing there was no such thing as perfection. Watching the comprehension that the notion of greatest was utter make believe was remarkable. Knowing that a person realized they could never achieve the status of best was just icing on the heartbreaking cake. Sweeter still was that same revelation with those that chose to breed. Recognizing banal mediocrity was all that composed a man’s precious legacy was a good time that never got old.
Sipping some of the tepid whiskey, he felt the alcohol ignite the sores inside his host’s mouth. Rubbing dry chapped lips into the sear of the fluid, he sensed the dull agony down in his intestines doubling with the anticipation of more abuse.
He had never much cared for the drinking establishments this far north in the hemisphere, or even rather, this side of the world at all. Not so long ago, before the second great war had blossomed across the ocean, the far more interesting dens that thrived here had never been his preferred scene. There was something a little too put together and commercialized about even the most unendorsed dives. It was far preferable to sit in a broken lawn chair that met the empty loll of a white beach or take a seat with the muggy churning crowds of a narrow alley. All the half starved strays and smooth unhurried Latin voices were finer music than what filled this place. The hectic mixture of a televised basketball game was as appealing as the insipid conversations that flowed like the watery beer. On top of it all was the unrelenting soundtrack of the digital jukebox repeating the same five cords of the cliché nostalgia of Americana. Keep on a’rockin’ me baby. Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose. And this bird you'll never change. Till the heavens stop the rain.
The current inspirational tune by a drug besotted artist was something frequently desired by the inebriated to embellish a cheap buzz. He listened to the electric guitar and wondered how many of the fans knew the man who wrote the song hadn’t heeded his very own advice on achieving sublime happiness. In fact, the singer had died alone and so far away from what had been beauty that his corpse was almost unrecognizable from what had moaned to the masses on the lit stage. That didn’t seem to stop the women from smiling to the lyrics. He watched as they began to drunkenly sway in poorly attempted sensuality on the untaken floor between the crammed bar and the bathroom doors.
He had to hand it to some people. Usually foolishness didn’t come for its own sake no matter how much fun it was to insist on the dim witted nature of others. While the common human being liked to pat themselves on the back for rising above the pit falls of everyone else, what most didn’t want to admit was that bad judgment came on the heels of many other things. Stupidity was just a byproduct of a few glamorous sins that could befall anything with a pulse. However, on the occasions he was forced to visit places like this, he could discern no reason for the chaos other than pure chance.
Well, pure chance and most of the tequila this side of the equator.
He lifted his glass of whiskey a few seconds before a body was flung against the table. The entire thing went flying, sending the empty bottles sliding and smashing onto the floor. Split beer foamed and sizzled on the concrete, soaking the scattered contents of the ashtray into a wet heap of nicotine browned paper.
The person that had knocked it all over painfully sat up and nodded wearily up at him in something like an apology. At first glance, the young man seemed a little out of place out here amongst the professional frayed drunks and the dusty rock music. But that notion quickly faded after another decent look. Sprawled ungracefully on the beer dark cement with a busted lip, there was something that looked a little used up about him despite his lack of years. The dirty jeans and old muddy boots looked as worn as the steady look in his green eyes. Dragging the back of a hand over his mouth, he absently smeared blood across his cheek.
He’d always liked this kid.
Over time he had grown a fondness for a guy that appreciated summarization. Logical simple rules spelled out in bold capital letters. There was a certain grungy glory in the act of disregarding subtleties all together. Poetry was for people that just couldn’t get to the fucking point. Altercations were for when no one wanted to bother with the few words they had left. Unfortunately for the kid, there were three of them and only one of him. Even more importantly, the badly aimed return punches proved that a long evening of unremitting nickel shots were not helping the situation along to any favorable conclusion. Watching the boy get heaved up by the leather jacket, he waited for the angry poker players to drag the source of their frustration out the back door.
Getting tiredly to his feet, he smoothed out the wrinkles in his denims and neatly pulled the threadbare cuffs of his shirt to his knobby wrists. The swinging screen creaked on its hinge and lead out into the fragrant late summer stink of the alley with a giant dumpster that was as finely maintained as the ashtrays. Just in time to see a well placed fist send the kid crashing back into a relative soft landing of shiny garbage bags, he flinched when the sharp toe of a cowboy boot made perfect contact with an unprotected ribcage.
He was pleasantly surprised by the voice he had. It was low and ground down like the comfy representations of grandfathers on television.
“That’s enough now.”
The clumsy men abruptly halted in their slurred but ruthless assault. One by one they slowly righted, their sluggish muscles tightening and drawing up into abnormally straight postures. They turned in his direction, the dim light from the parking lot hiding their faces. He didn’t have to see them to know the white’s of their eyes had all been assumed into perfect unblinking orbs of pitch black. With a flip of his hand they immediately dispersed, taking the usurped bodies away in a rigid unnatural pace out into the night. Crossing his arms, he listened to the earnest cursing of the young man struggling out from under the piles of trash. Using the short walk out from the shadows to create the proper expression, he let the broad smile he wore slide to sincere worry.
“You all right, son?”
The kid grinned sheepishly up at him. His teeth were bright red but he was holding a confident thumbs up. It took a strong grip to haul the boy onto his feet, catching him with both arms when the sudden upward momentum proved to be too much to handle. With a curt but companionable pat on the shoulder, he walked the kid to the alley edge and to the view of a parked black car.
“Get on to bed.”
Lost under a few layers of booze, there was an effort to focus on his benefactor’s face while nodding in halfhearted comprehension. Clutching his side, the young man winced when he began to register some of the damage toll. Pushing a hand into the scraped up jacket, he floundered for a moment when he couldn’t find what he was looking for.
Steadying the kid by the elbow, he gestured to the opposite pocket.
“Try the left side.” He helpfully suggested. “Thatta boy.”
The keys finally appeared and the kid stumbled away, the stagger getting marginally more solid with every next step. The loud sound of the car door slamming closed and the rumble of the cylinders summoned the smile back to his face. Standing still in the deep red glow of the taillights, he watched the car bump across the dirt lot. There was a clear thin screech of rubber when the tires met solid pavement and the car fishtailed before barreling down south on the empty interstate.
With a yawn, he considered reentering the noisy shack behind him and finishing the drink he’d left behind. After all, what better way to celebrate a forestalling of crisis? The oldest Winchester child would once again live to misuse a brand new day. Gazing up at the stars, he admired his own unsurpassable humility. He was always the first to admit when someone else could do a better job. There was no fight to set pride aside and step away. In his own humble opinion, he couldn’t have come close to creating a more proficient martyr even if he had gone out and tried. As long as that wonderfully miserable soul was still breathing, then his younger brother’s abysmal chances of seeing another sunrise rose exponentially with each and every passing second.
The retreating roar of the engine continued to fade, the hitch of its gears carrying even after it had already sped well over half a mile away.
Unless the idiot wrapped himself around a telephone poll on the drive back to whatever was deemed home at the moment. Rubbing at an uncomfortable sensation behind his borrowed eyes, he knew that uncanny resiliency got anyone only so far. However, unlike many of the living, he had more than a reasonable amount of optimistic faith in God’s walking and talking imperfections. Pushing the door back open, a wash of barely controlled laughter struck his ears. The scent of stale sweat and the lemony reek of antiseptic from the toilets wafted over him with the thick hang of cigarette smoke.
He paused by the pay phone, suddenly spotting the dull gleam of copper on the floor at his feet. Crouching down, he used a thumb to flip the coin to its magical side. With the luck facing upwards he righted himself and brushed off his hands. Its timely presence reminded him of yet another token that humanity clung onto so dearly instead of facing one more hollow certainty. Taking his seat again, he communally raised his glass to the loud happy cheer as the bartender announced that there would be two-for-ones until closing time. The sight of so many contented faces made him cheerful too. No one here really believed that there was no such thing as good fortune. Not a man alive wanted to know that random gifts weren’t dropped from above to make up for all of life’s outrages.
Downing the liquid fire, he relished the unsavory truth that the divine and the terrible all rained down equally in unjust quantities.
But chance was all in the making.