Title: Wonder State
Rating: PG - Gen - teen!chesters
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Beta: Thank you Kat!
Summary: After a high speed run-in with nature, Sam ponders his hatred for Arkansas.
Sam secretly hated a lot of things.
He was sweating hard enough that a magazine subscription card could stick perfectly onto his forehead. Applying one to each cheek, he pondered the placement of another one over either eye.
One thing he didn’t care much for was waiting.
Last night was hanging around for hours in a cheap clinic for the one doctor on duty to show up. Today was an all day wait in a grimy garage with a mechanic they could barely afford. It wasn’t the absolute worst place in the world to kill a few hours but it still felt like one of the more shabbier versions of purgatory.
Besides, the car wasn’t the only thing that required time for mending.
“You shouldn’t have been driving, Dean,” he felt the need to repeat. “Three days of no sleep? You might as well asked for a wreck.”
“It wasn’t my fault! That antelope came out of freakin’ nowhere.”
It turned out muscle car vs. high-speed land mammal wasn’t an even match. Sam watched his brother shuffle through the crumple of credit card forms again and unwillingly started to feel a little bad. Despite all the talk, Dean’s protestations made him appear a lot younger than the twenty-one year old he was.
“I think that bastard was rabid,” Dean mumbled. “Or hopped up on animal tranqs.”
Ever since the ‘accident’ out on the interstate, his brother had a spooked look that Sam always associated with danger. From a bad hunt. From the law. But for now it seemed the sentiment attached was just some good old-fashioned apprehension. After all, they were supposed to meet up with their father three states over in less than 48 hours.
"So," Sam said. "What are you gonna tell dad?"
And due to the Winchester chain of command, it wasn’t going to be Sam on the phone explaining that an unruly antelope was the reason they’d be late. Sam would still get half the heat for the delay though. Not to mention the condition of the car. His sympathy waned and was replaced with full on aggravation.
“Next time try not driving a hundred miles over the speed limit in the rain.” Sam watched his brother’s lost look thankfully shift to anger. “While yer asleep.”
“Didn’t hear you volunteering to get behind the wheel.”
“You coulda woke me up and asked!”
“Did you get enough shut eye by the way? I know you get cranky if you don’t get a full twelve hours.“
Sam slammed his palm into the windowpane a few more times before giving up. Thick coats of paint had sealed the thing shut around the useless air-conditioner. “I coulda fixed the car,” he grumbled. “It’s just a busted headlight and a furry fender—“
“How long is this gonna take anyway?” Dean slumped back on the flowered velor sofa. “We’ve been here all day.”
A look at the novelty Milwaukee's Best clock on the wall reported they’d actually only been in the waiting room for an hour. Besides an air-conditioner that blasted hot air, it had a comfortable couch and a decent TV with a baseball game. Sam wasn’t following the score though. A thunderstorm had been boiling up big and black on the horizon all morning and was finally about to let loose.
“Not a great day for owning balls,” Dean adjusted his damp jeans. “Ya think anyone here would mind if I got naked?”
Sam pulled at his sweat soaked T-shirt and fought a wave of heat induced nausea. Oh yeah, if there was one thing he hated more than waiting, it was the entire fucking state of fucking Arkansas.
“Christ,” Dean got up and kicked at the a/c until it stopped pumping hot air. “I think they hooked this thing up directly to a lava vent.”
Dean settled for flipping his T-shirt over his head backwards while chastely keeping the sleeves still on. Jealous of the lack of shame, Sam gave up on dignity and did the same thing. It didn’t help with the hideous temperature situation in any shape or form. A strong wind from the approaching storm rattled the sealed up windows. All Sam could think about was getting out there when the rain started to dot the sizzling concrete.
“Get me another coffee would ya’?”
“Forget it, you already had two.“
“And one more would make it three wouldn’t it?”
Sam glanced down at the protective fiberglass that adorned his brother from wrist to elbow. Neon pink bandages were what you got when you arrived at a shitty small town clinic in the middle of the night with multiple sprains and one fracture. Although between the two little kid colors they offered, Sam was still a little perplexed why Dean hadn’t gone for the slightly more manly lavender. It would have been hilarious if the fiberglass hadn’t been covering both of his brother’s forearms. The whole shebang would even be smile worthy if it weren’t for the fact that the injuries now prevented Dean from accomplishing basic tasks without aid.
Like getting gallon after gallon of lukewarm coffee from complicated pots.
Dean squirmed in his seat in a worrisome way.
“We coulda’ used all this money for something else,” Sam quickly attempted to divert any ideas about a group trip to the bathroom. “Some dinner. Beers. Maybe even a dry place to sleep—“
“The car is dry and she’ll be out of here by tonight,” Dean assured him. “Knock on wood.”
Sam winced when his brother superstitiously whacked both encased arms against the faux paneled wall. The thought of his own limbs trapped in binding fiberglass made his skin itch and throat tighten in weird heat-induced claustrophobia. Rubbing at his eyes, Sam waited until his head stopped ringing and the humidity became breathable again.
Things always went wrong in this damn state. The entire section of map should be roped off. Burned down. Locked up, weighted and dropped in a deep lake. A cool, green, cold, freezing icy lake…
“Spending an extra day here wouldn’t be so bad,” Dean mused. “I hear this town has an awesome arrowhead museum.”
Sam wasn’t sure when his aversion for Arkansas had gotten started but it seemed to go back as far as he could remember.
It might have been on his tenth birthday when he had spent the night alone in a musty cabin out in the woods. Well, not exactly alone. There had been all those grizzly bears rummaging through the trash just outside the door. A few years later in another county, he spent his very first night in a real life jail. It was one of those group cell deals that doubled as a drunk tank for the homeless. Sam felt the scar on the back of his hand from getting into a fight with some guy who thought he was hoarding the solitary roll of toilet paper.
“I heard Bill Clinton was born somewhere around here too,” Dean said. “Gotta check that out right? It’s historical.”
Certain keywords combined with intonation always denoted mockery.
As far as he knew his irrational loathing for the Wonder State was a secret. Not a secret he kept for a reason, but like one of those other kinds of secrets. Like brushing his teeth in the shower or wearing the same socks all week long. Some stuff a person didn’t divulge because of pure and simple irrelevancy.
“I love this place,” Dean announced. “I want to live here.”
Sam narrowed his eyes at the serene smile on his brother’s face.
“I bet I could score a sweet trailer,” Dean nodded. “Plenty of land. Maybe I’ll get a few llamas and an emu like that place by the church.”
There was no choice but to visualize the logistics of milking either animal. “For what?”
“Why do ya think?” Dean held up his pink forearms as an example. “Style.”
“Whatever.” Sam muttered. “This shit hole isn’t going to improve with nice decor.”
“Geeze,” Dean whistled in appreciation for his disgust level. “Was it That Waitress who dumped goulash in your lap? I bet it was her. No wait, I bet it was Smelly Gas Station Guy. Was it him?”
As far as Sam could tell the state’s lameness wasn’t directly correlated to the type of people that lived there, nor their needlessly exotic livestock. The fair citizens weren’t carrying an extra chromosome that made them less or more retarded than anyone else on the planet. If you stared into the clouds that drifted overhead all you’d see were the standard bunny shaped variety. And while Sam was at it he might as well admit that the skies might even be a little bluer than average in these parts.
The idea that there might be something redeemable about the place was more annoying than the line of static skipping repeatedly through the baseball game.
“I don’t just wanna live here,” Dean decided. “I want to stay here for all eternity.”
Sam stopped counting dead bugs in the overhead fluorescents and moved his gaze out the window where his brother was pointing. There was a dusty cemetery right across the street. The cheerful banner over the entrance declared there was plenty of space still available and discounts rates were going fast.
“Looks great,” Sam said. “Maybe they’ll have a two-for-one on Pietà reproduction tombstones.”
“None of that fancy crap,” Dean warned. “Just make sure I get a view of the highway.”
Sam gulped the last of the stale coffee and of course it went down the wrong way.
“Aw, come on, Sam! Don’t tell me yer gettin' the flu again!”
“I-I’m not coughing,” he stammered. “I’m-I’m choking.”
“Oh.” Dean relaxed back into the sofa cushions. “How’s your temperature?”
“Listen up, wise-ass,” he raised his casts again. “One of us can afford to crap out… but both of us? No way. It’s bad enough I’m paying some jack-off by the hour to keep the car goin’.”
“I told you I could fix it.”
“And I told you that I’d rather put my eyes out with a dashboard lighter.”
“You don’t even know that guy!”
“That guy owns a 1969 Pontiac GTO,” Dean dismissed Sam’s outrage with a shake of his head. “That jack-off is an artist.”
Sam had a sudden and fierce hope that the mechanic changed all the radio stations and left a snot rag in the glove compartment. He also abruptly realized that something other than the state of Arkansas was bugging the hell out of him. “What makes you so sure anyway?”
“I saw the thing parked out back! It’s got a paint job I don’t really approve of but hey, some guys dig shades of red that don’t exist in nature.”
“Not that. The other crap.” Sam made a face when the thunder appropriately rumbled. “What makes you so sure you’re gonna go first?”
“Why not?” Dean shrugged as the rain started to splatter heavily against the window. “You think we’re all gonna go out together like Thelma and Louise?” he reconsidered the sales offer fluttering over the cemetery across the street. “You, me, dad and the car. That would be tidy.”
“You want something from the vending machine?” Sam wanted to change the subject he started. “They got Ring Dings.”
The bruised sky had turned gray, bright streaks of lightening zigzagging down with the deluge. At the bottom of the hill a shower of blue sparks trailed upwards into the sky when the town’s one and only power transformer got tagged. The television blinked out and the room went dark.
Sam squeezed his eyes shut when the sound of the noisy hydraulic tools out in the garage fell silent too.
“Man,” Dean scratched at his casts and slouched down into the sofa. “I’m beat.”
That was family code for pain and the stifled urge to complain about it. Sam sighed and thought about which sweaty pocket he was going to have to dig through to find the last of the Vicodon. If he gave Dean a couple of painkillers he might even sleep the afternoon away. If there were extra, he thought it might not be a bad idea to take one of the things himself. With another vicious shove the window finally cracked open, a gush of cool air flooding the stuffy room with the spray of rain. Sam took a deep breath of it and dragged his shirt the rest of the way off.
“You know what, Sammy?” Dean stretched out limply, crossing injured arms over his chest for a lack of a better place to store them. “I changed my mind.”
Sam nodded and headed for the door. The Ring Dings might be a little on the melted side but they were better than those nuclear orange peanut butter crackers.
“Hold it,” his brother sighed shortly. “Not the food, stupid.”
Sam looked uncertainly towards the empty coffee pot.
“I want cremation,” Dean grinned. “I’ll leave my wishes in my will. All the details will be for the uh, you know, the executor of my estate.”
“What? I have stuff.”
With the windows wide open, Sam caught the sight of the mechanic firing up a generator out in the parking lot. The lights and television flickered on and off as the machine coughed and sputtered. Looked like they might be heading out of town some time this century after all. “You got it,” he found a smile. “River Ganges or a burning canoe?”