Title: Outside Chance
Rating: PG - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various
Summary: A coin toss is used to determine who will freeze their balls off.
The beach in the dead of January made Sam think of what it might be like standing on the shores of the Antarctic.
There were gale force winds, no signs of life and a majestic panorama to contemplate as your body surrendered to the savage elements. Unfortunately, his slow agonizing death didn’t have much of a view. The meandering slanting pier ended abruptly over the lap of gray ocean with no tourist photo ops in sight. Unless you had a thing for the concrete spires of the monstrous power plant that took up half the horizon. The blinking red lights that decorated the smoke stacks were probably real pretty at night, but at midday under the white wash of the sky they were as invisible as the stars.
“You ready?” Dean asked.
Sam took a deep breath and let it out through the scarf wrapped up around his nose and mouth. His exhale briefly warmed the wool against his numb face before it rapidly turned cold and damp again.
“Let’s do it.” He shrugged.
Since the dawn of siblings many practices had evolved to assure fairness.
The even distribution of front seats, last drumsticks and first call for the bathroom were as old as time itself. The impartial third party usually came in the guise of a parent but even the soundest mind of reason could be swayed by personal gain. A working single father of two couldn’t always be trusted to be a perfect picture of the unarbitrary. If a disputed issue appeared to have an option that was less likely to result in his sons breaking furniture with one another, then all that lofty fairness went flying right out the window. The process became even more infuriating when said parent attempted to intervene with nothing but an incoherent rant left on an answering machine that never had enough tape.
So with their adjudicator alternatives limited, his older brother had realized the need for their own private system very early on. It had been in place long before Sam had even figured out how to string words into one entire sentence. It was indiscriminate, it was irrefutable, and when it spoke its word was law. The simple procedure also only required an object that they were possession of at all times.
Every time a quarter spun into the air there was a graveyard shift behind the wheel or the last clean pair of boxers at stake.
“Call it.” Dean said.
As the years went by Sam became keenly aware that the predictable ratio that was supposed to guarantee harmony didn’t always work as promised. His brother tended to win more than half of the battles despite the rule of averages. The very nature of the 50/50 chance should have never allowed the cosmic injustice to occur as frequently as it did. Sam more often that not, found himself on the short end of the stick.
A large man shouldered past them on the narrow walkway of the pier.
“Pardon me, fellas.”
The neon orange vest that flapped in the brutal wind identified him as a city works employee. The backwards glance at them as he struggled with the plastic bag out of the frost coated trash bin made it very clear his job was the only thing forcing him out in such god forsaken weather. Hefting the sack over a shoulder, he was in too much of a hurry to get the job done to stop for conversation. Nonetheless, he paused long enough to pass on an acute observation.
“Ain’t a great day for bird watchin’.”
The weird wink that followed the remark forced Sam unwillingly into a strange and disquieting innuendo. He hoped his glare was enough of a response from over a zipped up jacket collar, three layers of thick scarf and a few inches of ice accumulation from standing still for too long. Watching the well insulated man climb into the toasty cab of the idling dump truck, he wondered if people were born assholes or if nature created them through time and patience.
He winced when the wind picked up and beat like needles on his skin.
“Momentum.” Dean nodded. “That’s the trick.”
Sam nodded silently in agreement because pulling down the barrier over his face was not an option if he wanted to keep both lips.
“But ya gotta do it quick.” Dean qualified. “If you don’t do it quick than yer screwed.”
Sam privately thought that just about every conclusion to the immediate dilemma at hand ended in an exciting variation of ‘screwed’. He looked down at the coin that had landed on the ground between them. Studying George Washington’s stoic etched profile, he realized that it had been a long gradual process to truly comprehend what karma was actually up to. While his childhood had been darkened by every menial task his brother had contested with a judicial flip of their spare change, the unlikable duties fallen to Sam had done no harm other than to his pride. When he contemplated a lifetime of narrow misses from the terrifically lame shit life could hand over, his blind luck was slightly sobering. Because for some reason, whenever his brother lost a toss it was never for anything fun like a flat tire or a punch in the face.
Sam’s hidden grin broke into a full fledged smile when Dean grimly unzipped his leather.
By the time he got down to a measly T-shirt, the solid block of Sam’s frozen enthusiasm for the righteous hardship about to take place really started to thaw. When things suddenly got down to only jeans and bare skin, Sam’s mood shifted gears right into exhilaration. Dean hefted himself up to take a precarious seat on the splintered railing.
Sam sighed shortly but maintained his optimism.
Looked like full nudity wasn’t on the agenda, but a long harrowing plummet still seemed to be right on top of the to-do-list. Containing his excitement, Sam modified his voice to be calm and reasonable. With matters having already gone this far, there was no harm in trying to sway his brother towards the potentially better show.
“Cotton sure soaks up a ton of water.” Sam tried. “Might weigh you down.”
“I-If I’m goin’ out?” Dean’s teeth were chattering. “I’m goin’ out in my g-goddamn pants.”
Sam made a face under his scarf but he quickly accepted the deleted bonus. The performance could still be decent regardless of Dean’s junk possibly being spotted in broad daylight in a public place. Sam looked down over the railing at the whirling eddies that formed and rushed around the pier’s barnacle coated supports. The current had gathered a large sloppy pile of slimy seaweed and assorted buoyant garbage.
He changed his mind.
At this point anything at all was going to be fucking fantastic.
“Maybe they’re not down there.” Dean hopefully suggested. “Maybe they got caught between the—”
Sam helpfully pointed right at the set of keys nestled in plain sight amongst some rocks down in the depths. It was easy to spot them whenever the floating styrofoam and beer cans briefly parted. They both watched the metal dully glitter with the winter sunshine as another wave sluggishly washed up against the snow patched sand of the deserted beach.
Shoving his shaking hands back in his jacket, Sam gripped the wallet that was now filling up the ripped corner of his pocket. The square of leather was much too large to slip past the spacious hole. The car keys on the other hand had dropped right through the tear with no problem at all. The loss of the means to the ignition wasn’t as vital considering their resources, but the P.O box collection equaled a small fortune in pilfered income with a 0% annual percentage rate.
Besides, the keychain had been in the family for almost ten years and that made it practically an heirloom.
Sam just hoped the yin of this awesomeness didn’t turn around with its yang and bite him in the ass. Performing CPR would necessitate a removal of gloves. Not to mention there was no way he was taking off the gigantic scarf he'd tied around his head like a cartoon sheik.
“Not getting any warmer.” Sam said.
His brother’s return look made him decide to keep any further encouragement to himself. Pretending his steady bounce on the icy planks was purely a flexing exercise to ward off hypothermia, Sam was glad his face was mostly obscured. It was times like this that made him justly believe that someone upstairs was paying attention. A lone seagull landed on the pier nearby and regarded Dean doubtfully.
Sam tried to kill his growing smile and failed.
Not many things could beat the buzz of being ahead on the score.