Title: Local Attraction
Rating: PG - Gen
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: There's only one person in town that has the information the Winchesters need.
Every town you stepped foot in always had something it was known for.
No matter how great or small there was one fixture within its city limits that every one of its citizens were willing to point towards with a proud word or a silent sad gesture. Where it was and just how much it was loved or hated, wasn't always as obvious as Sam always wanted to think. As solid as a cast off building that the local kids used for late night keggers and tag art. As abstract as a story about the natives that once lived among the old trees that grew gnarled and tall along the river. Whatever it was, it was always there, as real as the pot holed asphalt and the friendly sign that informed you of just how many souls comprised its population.
Sam watched a beat up pick up idle in front of the gas station store. It had a bumper sticker that read: Where ever you go, there you are.
Dean slid back into the car, his leather always smelling vaguely like the gasoline he had just pumped into the tank. Another leisurely but pointed discussion with the station attendant and his brother, as usual, had found out exactly what this particular town's resident attraction was.
He wondered what exactly it would be this time. Sometimes buildings and lore weren't what made the town's story. Some were in the origins of a Christmas song. Others had the best strawberry rhubarb pie in all the south. Sam had heard it all.
"That guy back there said we can find her down the road."
So it wasn't much of a total surprise that it was also not even always a physical or metaphysical landmark but something else entirely.
It could also be a real live breathing person. That didn't happen often. Especially people that were still alive and not a greened copper likeness somewhere half hidden in the overgrowth of a park.
"So who is she?"
"No idea." Dean shrugged. "All I got was a name."
They passed through a yellow light, wind shield wipers steadily clearing the faint drizzle of the late night rain and the only sound over the dull roar of the radio. Unremarkable building after another they finally slowed at the fuzzy red and blue neon that sputtered an outdated beer ad in the window of a bar.
It was slow inside. A scattering of people were lingering over their drinks, letting the hour get a little later than usual because of the weather. Sam did a quick take of the place and wandered to the bar where his brother had already taken a seat.
"Two buds and another of whatever the lady here is having." Dean told the much older man behind the bar who'd seen too much sun and without enough sunscreen in his lifetime.
Sam leaned without sitting. Watching a guy in a flannel punch in the numbers for some Credence Clearwater on the junk of a jukebox by the cigarette machine, he hazarded a practiced bored look around. Without being extremely obvious Sam studied the woman seated several stools down that his brother had just bought a drink for. This must be the pulse they had been directed to. He just wasn't sure how his brother knew.
"Thanks." She said without really looking at him. "I never know where my next diet coke is going to come from."
Sam felt the corner of his mouth tug up in a smile. She was at least around Sam's own age if he was ever any good at judging things like that. Her pale hair was neatly braided in some trendy way that might have been in style half a decade ago, but now looked slightly out of touch. Her clothes were the same. A cut of jeans that had went out with that new low on the hips look and a faded flowered tank top that was neatly tucked into the waist. It never failed to fascinate him how people tended to appear much like their towns did. Their shared era and allotment in time was almost symbiotic.
But, unlike her town, there was something fresh and clean about her that Sam immediately liked. Her eyes were that rich green you didn't see very often, and her slender finger tips were laying on the pages of a newspaper she had laid out on the varnished wood. She wore a single silver ring with amethysts dotting its circumference.
He wondered why she was the one they were looking for. She was so startling and refreshingly ordinary. The only other thing he couldn't figure out was why she was sitting here in this dive past midnight sipping a diet soda alone.
Dean lay down a few bills when the beer bottles were slid in his direction.
"So you got a minute?" Dean asked her.
His brother moved to the seat next to her and comfortably slid a fifty out of his already open wallet, tucking it causally between the classifieds of her read before picking up his own bottle.
Sam watched on in confusion.
She slowly folded up her paper and finally turned to look at them both.
"I'm not doing the two of you at once." She said offhandedly.
"Thank God." Dean breathed a sincere laugh.
It made him swallow his first gulp of beer down hard. His brother had known the second he had sat down. Sam hadn't even remotely guessed.
Sam suddenly found it hard to look her in the eye.
"Actually, all I want is to talk." His brother was saying.
Looking down at him, Sam wondered when speaking to a girl like this had become this easy. She was like the gas attendant or some guy watering his lawn or a million other strangers Dean sought and read every day. No more or any less. For some reason, the thought made him slowly sink down onto the nearest bar stool.
She slipped the cash into her jean pocket and nodded curtly towards the rear of the bar where an exit door lead out to the parking lot. Pulling her jacket from off the back of her chair, she was already on her way out.
Dean took one more sip of beer before leaving it.
"Let's go." He smiled a little with a shake of his head. "Who knows how long that fifty will keep her on the clock."
Sam watched her walk a little too quickly across the plywood floor. Her feigned unconcern finally crumbling as she put distance between herself and the stranger that had just handed her money.
"Hey, if you don't mind, I'll just wait here."
Dean shrugged. "I'll be right back."
His brother followed her lead and vanished through the emergency exit double doors.
Sam, unwilling to meet the bartender's curious gaze after his brother just hired the town's living breathing abstract of legend and lore, turned and made his way to the front doors. He stepped out in the fresh smoke free air and took a deep breath. After the doors swung shut behind him, he paused and clenched his jaw. He had a surge of guilt that he had simmering in his belly ever since he realized why Dean had opened his wallet.
It might not be all that fair to make Dean do what he did on his own just because Sam couldn't stomach it. Couldn't abide by it. Couldn't even look it in the eye and see it for what it was. All it was. The sum of its unmistakable miserable parts.
He started walking to the car, the sick feel in his stomach mixing unpleasantly with something else that he didn't really want to admit.
There was selfish relief somewhere under it all too.
Sam was just glad that between the both of them and throughout a life of these towns, at least one of them was still not capable of walking through every back door.