more for muffy! ♥
Title: Best Used By
Rating: PG - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Sam POV. The boys make a pit stop early in S4.
The stooped person behind the counter could have been a boy turning twenty years old and missing all his teeth, or a man about to turn sixty and looking pretty good for his age. Sam blinked a few times, automatically trying to gauge the type of human being he was speaking with.
“That Chevy yours?” the man nodded towards the pumps. “Over at #3?”
The dry rasp and a spit of tobacco didn‘t help Sam narrow down the guy to any particular decade. “Sure is,” he said. “I’m filling her up.”
“And all this other stuff?”
“Yeah.” Counting through the wad of twenties folded neatly in his wallet, Sam decided to go ahead and spend what he couldn‘t afford. “All of it.”
“How about some apple? The kids always like the apple.”
There was only one kind of pie you could score at a gas station. With a shelf-life better than weapons-grade plutonium, the individually wrapped fruit pie was as familiar a sight at the check out as the rainbow of bic lighters, stacks of tiger lip balm and rolls of lottery tickets.
Sam couldn’t take his eyes off the red digital display counting #3 behind the register. The flashing numbers kept going up and up while the bottomless tank of the car kept drinking it down slow and steady. “Did you say apple?”
“The pies,” the man said. “We got a box of cherry out back too. “
The glory of gas station food was designed to endure a decade before its molecular structure would begin to deteriorate. There would be another five years before the stuff would even begin to be considered expired, and yet another five before the glazed sugar crusts would begin to cave in and start to rot, the curdled yellow ooze inside finally congealing up like dried mucus. Sam tried not to think of what made the food practically immortal as he tossed another handful of pies on the counter next to the motor oil and batteries.
“I reckon you could even freeze the fuckers if you took a mind,” the guy scratched under his ball cap. “The sumbitches could go on till Judgment Day.”
Tearing his gaze from the tick of the meter, Sam realized all the pie he had grabbed off the shelf was of the lemon variety. He wasn’t sure what place on the Hierarchy of Crap the flavor of fake citrus fell, but the offended look drawing down the creases on the guy’s face indicated that lemon must have been ranked pretty low on the totem pole. It also never occurred to him that Dean might actually have some appreciation for the finer nuances of factory assembled pie.
“And oh man, have you gotten a look at these whole-wheat muffins?” the man shook his head. “I can’t choke the shit down myself, but you should see the early morning commuter crowd get at ‘em.”
“I’ll need some disposable cameras too,” Sam focused on the cluttered wall behind the guy. “And a pack of cassette tapes.”
“You can have what’s left of them,” he said. “Do you also happen to be in the market for a few novelty beer openers?
Sam shook his head at the assorted: I ♥ the Heartland merch and took stock of the supplies he’d assembled. Flipping one of the pies over, he wondered at the dubious month/year stamped on its waxy paper. The paper was like the man standing right in front of him. Same flimsy cover meant to poorly disguise the trash it concealed inside.
It was so easy these days.
Sam could spot the demons passing him on the street without even looking them in the eye anymore. He could smell where they had congregated, sweat, bled and smoothed their stolen hands over the dead bodies they wore around like cheap suits.
“What’s so funny, kid?”
Rubbing a hand over his mouth, Sam tried to hide his smile. The man in front of him was no man at all. The thing inside was holed up as best it could in something half way to decay with barely enough strength in its legs to keep it from collapsing on the floor. Sam realized he would have been offended if he thought for one second this meeting was something less random. It would have even angered him if this was some attempt for the honor of having been the first of the Hell Spawn to successfully plunge a blade though the beating heart of Sam Winchester.
But this dim watch dog didn’t even know who he was talking to.
This demon had broken free of the lower circles of Hell only to thank his lucky stars that he’d scored a sweet spot to call his own out in the Nevada desert. Out here all his Hellish duties required were to watch the cable television while he drank cheap beer and enjoyed the nice dry heat. Because when all was said and done, not all demons were princes.
Some were slaves who were glad to catch a break just like everyone else.
“Hey mister, beef jerky is on sale too?”
Sam had to admit that the stringy and compact slabs of lard fortified by more animal lard (and cancerous dyes) were the perfect kind of rations to have on hand for the upcoming Apocalypse. He focused harder on the cloudy eyes of the man carefully tallying each item on the cash register. This quaint old gas stop hadn’t been inherited from a great-auntie with a soft spot for her recently hell-sprung relative. Sam could place a pretty safe bet that the real family that ran this outpost in the middle of nowhere were festering in a pile down in their basement.
Sam glanced back outside at the car.
Dean was still sleeping in the front seat. He’d been doing a lot of that. Sleeping through state line after state line without one word about Sam looking comfortable behind the wheel. If Sam didn’t know any better, he’d say Dean looked pretty comfortable with it to.
“Y-You feelin’ okay, fella? You want me to bag this for ya?”
The room was lit up with the big windows framing the bloated orange sun setting in the sky. The garish light was too bright, the glare of the twilight splitting and splintered through the air-conditioned aisles.
It gave Sam a headache.
“I'll take a couple more pies,” Sam said. “Two for a dollar, right?”
“I think… I think we might even have some of those Ring-Dings too?”
The man’s helpful smile flickered in uncertainty when Sam slowly placed his pistol on the counter between them. Sam felt dizzy for a second, staring hard at the colorful lottery ads trapped under the scuffed plexi-glass. There was a slim chance that the meat would survive after Sam wrung the beast as tightly and brutally as a wet rag, draining each drop of its heinous existence from the vessel it had chosen to set up and play house.
But it was over before Sam really wanted it to be.
His brother barely looked back at the dark windows of the shop before yawning and looking hopefully to the cellophane bags that had been dropped into his lap. For some reason Dean didn’t ask about the crisp new tens and fives Sam counted before putting them away in his wallet.
“So?” It felt strange to say it, but Sam did anyway. “You feel like driving, Dean?”
His brother considered him a moment before cracking open a soda with his teeth. “Nah,” he slumped down as far as his seat belt would let him go. “Ask me in an hour.”
Sam put it into gear and let the dark station fade fast in their taillights. He was looking forward to a long stretch of open road with no comforts to lure them away from slowing and veering off the highway. He wanted to keep putting as much place between him and the man he’d left silently on the cracked linoleum floor. It would have been a little easier if any part of it had disgusted him.
The grip of the wheel under Sam's hands was slick with sweat.
It would have been easier if he had felt anything at all.