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Five Kinds of Bars

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1. Cates Roadhouse, Attica, Indiana

Dean likes a good roadhouse after a hunt, if they're both in one piece. Pull up a burger or two and then bring on the Jagermeister.

"For the masters of the hunt," Sam will drawl after about his third, and then he'll lean his head back against the wall and burp a little. Cross his arms over his chest. "I'm good here," he says, and that's usually all the permission Dean needs to pick up a game of pool. He'll run the table for a while and then usually amble back toward Sammy, who's got a beer getting warm in front of him and a contented sort of scowl on his face. Like he hates everybody in the bar, but he's perfectly okay with that.

Little bitch probably is.

And maybe Dean'll put whatever he's won for the night in his pocket and they'll head out, or maybe he's still wound up, in which case he'll hand Sammy the money and tell him not to wait up.

Sam will roll his eyes and stretch himself up from the booth. "Have fun," is all he ever says, the "be safe" totally redundant on a hunting night. Dean will turn around and pick out a girl with her hair in a ponytail and too much eyeliner on. She'll have a short t-shirt and her jeans will be tight; she'll have a ring in her navel or one on her toe. Her lipstick's the wrong color for her face, but Dean doesn't care -- so long as she leaves it on the collar of his t-shirt, on his stomach or his cock.

She'll put herself together after they've fucked in the back hallway or the women's room or the back of the car. Her name's Cindy or Kelly or something like Christy; she'll leave her number in his cell phone and lay her finger on his nose when she tells him goodbye.

When he gets back to whatever room he's got with Sam this week, Sam will be spread out over the bed furthest from the door, t-shirt off and jeans unbuttoned. He'll pick his head up when Dean comes in, but he's never startled or ready to fight.

Two years on now after Cold Oak, both of them free of Hell. Sam's twenty-six years old, he's part demon or some shit, and he could probably kill Dean without even moving the ten feet between his bed and the door.

Dean still worries when Sam doesn't wake. But you've gotta let some shit go. It's like a kind of mantra thing: they're grown men, they're not joined at the hip, Sammy can take care of himself.
2. Herrick's Publick House, Lebanon, New Hampshire

Sam says he likes this sort of bar best -- all old wood and good beer, but Dean suspects that he says that for some twisty damn reason, because it's not like he loosens up in them. Still, Dean likes this kind of place okay -- you can get a good steak and fries in the evening, and then some 80's cover band will play some Journey or something. And he and Sam will drink some of the faggoty microbrew, which, okay, is in fact better than Bud. But a man shouldn't be paying four-fifty for IPA no matter where the fuck it's been brewed.

Sam, king of the three-fifty coffee and the ten-dollar breakfast, never really seems to get that. But Sam's been the one running the credit cards lately, so Dean decides not to give a shit.

"Thinking we could hit Atlantic City," Sam says to him. Dean thinks about this and eats a fry off Sammy's plate.

"Yeah, maybe. Do a little investing." It's a sure bet; they can both count cards, and if they have a bad night, Sam can probably whammy the roulette wheel. Sam likes to run scams in big casinos -- still doesn't think much of credit card fraud. Dean agrees with him in principle, sure, but the guys who run casinos have bigger guns and better enforcement.

The last three weeks have been selkies, pixies, and a honest-to-shit harpy, though, so Dean's kind of up for taking on something as prosaic as the Mob.

Sam grins and cracks his knuckles. Looks like he is, too.
3. Buddy's, Prattville, Alabama

So Sam hates redneck bars, and that's really why Dean likes them so much. It's just funny, the way Sammy takes every Confederate flag and Republican bumper sticker like a personal insult -- despite the fact that they've got half the Second Amendment in the trunk, and it's not like they even pay attention to politics. You need an address to vote, and it's probably going to be business as usual no matter what happens on the news.

Unless McCain is actually undead, which, well, okay. That would change things.

Anyway. Yeah, a lot of these guys are assholes, but so's a lot of anybody. And sure, if a man's still fighting the Civil War -- instead of the real one right here on the cursed soil -- Dean's not overflowing with respect, either. But most of these guys just want a beer and a blowjob, same as anybody, or maybe a game of poker. Sam isn't too fastidious or whatever to take these fuckers' money, that's for sure.

But the girls in redneck bars. Seriously. Dean never gets why Sam doesn't rescue one of these honeys out from under the arm of whatever jackass is leaning in on her. It's like picking candy off a tree -- just a little charm and you are in, taking her for a drive around town and fucking her on the hood of the Impala, better than she's ever had it.

Or at least that's what she says, so it's all good.
4. Ginger's, Austin, Texas

The less said about those fucking mojito bars Sam likes, the better, really. It's cute, though, the way he'll talk to the college girls. They'll look up at him through their geek-chic glasses and pout at him while they talk about computers or calculus or whatever.

Dean wonders why Sam doesn't ever ask to stay in college towns very long. Maybe it hurts too much. It hurts Dean a little, seeing Sam like he could've been, smart and funny and popular, his stance casual. He looks a little unprotected, but Dean knows his brother; the slightest change in his surroundings is noticed, calculated, filed away.

Sam never really got over the days he spent without Dean -- not when the Trickster was fucking with him and not before Sam figured out how to get him out of Hell. It's not like they talk about it, but Dean's thirty years old and he's still being careful to stay in his little brother's line of sight.

The thing that bugs him is that Sam stays in his. Probably for the same reason, but Dean can't figure out why he never walks any of these girls back to their dorm, never texts Dean c u tmrw, never even seems to tell any of them his name.

Bugs the fuck out of Dean, and he's already bugged enough by the house music and the plants on the walls and the weeds in the drinks. He'll hang for another hour, maybe, eyes on the football game over the bar; when the home team wins he'll catch Sam's eye and they'll head out.

"You never ask to stay," Dean says as they cross the parking lot.

Sam usually grunts at this, but this time he sort of stops and frowns a little. "I used to keep looking for Jess," he says. "Then I quit looking."

"Okay..."

"Either way," Sam says, "there's not much point, you know?"

"Sammy, Jesus." He's such a melancholy drunk -- just like Dad that way. "You might find somebody else, you know."

Sam snorts and baps Dean lightly on the head. "Yeah, okay. I'll get right on that."

"Good."

"Soon as you do."
5. Boxers, Seattle, WA

If they're in big cities, sometimes they split up at night -- if there's enough choice between bars, if somebody's gotta do the laundry, if one of them's hungry and the other one's tired. Most of the serious shit isn't in cities, especially after the demon war -- there's too much light and noise and cynicism for most of your ghosts and faeries, vampires are usually only on the outskirts, and most of the more powerful shit could be anywhere.

So this one time Dean's got a date with Tanya, the hot public records secretary -- all smoky eyeshadow and braids to her waist -- and Sam says he wants to go uptown, where the computer hackers hang out, see if he can learn anything.

Tanya is sweet and funny and not actually putting out -- which, okay, that happens sometimes with the classy chicks. She does leave her phone number, and a key to the archives office. "It's stupid," she says, "but I think the Reynolds place is haunted," and just like that it's a work meeting, not a date. But it's the first good lead they've had all day, so it's not a total bust.

Dean drives back to the hotel and Sam's not there, not even in the laundry room -- but he'd said he might go out, so Dean just texts r u ok and isn't worried until he doesn't get the expected y.

Five minutes. Ten. Dean takes his phone and he car and drives up and down the mile or so strip, mostly shitty hotel bars, which are not even in the Winchester guidebook of acceptable watering holes. There's a gentlemen's-club-looking place half a mile from the hotel, and Dean heads in there -- bouncer doesn't even take his cover charge. Which, okay, weird.

It actually takes Dean three or four minutes to count heads and realize the only women in the place are making out with each other on the small and mostly unregarded dance floor. This distracts him sufficiently that it takes a guy asking him to dance before he realizes, oh oh oh right: gay bar.

So he grins and chucks the guy on the shoulder, thanks but no thanks, and heads for the side door, making his way past his skinny little skater guy practically climbing some huge tall motherfucker, one leg wrapped around -- oh fuck me -- Sam's waist.

"Dean," Sam says, in the same flat tone that has meant busted for twenty years. "What the hell?"

Skater boy looks up at Sam, looks over at Dean, makes the usual conclusion, and takes off. Cowardly, but probably not stupid.

"Nice," Sam says, pissed now. Dean just gives him the look that means outside, now, and doesn't wait to see if Sam is behind him.

Gravel crunches under their feet in silence while they head for the car.

"Well?" Sam says, clearly ready to fight about it.

"What about Jess?" Dean says, even as he knows it's probably the stupidest fucking thing he could possibly say.

Sam briefly looks like he wants to bring Dean back to Hell and get a refund. "Bisexual," he says, enunciating it. "It's a concept I know you've heard of. It's not like you clear your porn cache."

Okay, point. But Jesus. "When did this even start?" Dean tosses his head back towards the bar.

"Eleventh grade," Sam says, the asshole practically audible. "Remember Jeremy Hamilton?"

Dean thinks back to Monroe, Georgia, nine-ten years ago. "Skinny kid, glasses? Chess club nerd, right? You were always hanging out with him."

Sam laughs, and Dean's surprised that it's a real laugh, a fond one. "Monroe didn't have a chess club, Dean."

And Dean thinks of the overnights Sam wheedled out of him that year, the chess matches on Saturdays, and all he can do is look admiringly at his brother and start to laugh his ass off. "Dad wondered what the hell was up with you."

"Did he?"

"Yeah, and I said, 'look, he's getting out of the house, he has friends, leave it alone.'"

"Um." And Sammy's grinning now. "Thanks for that."

"I didn't know you were --"

"Fucking Jeremy Hamilton?" Sam slides into the car. "Would it have made a difference?"

And Dean's filled with a million questions, like was this why you left home and did Jess know and especially why the fuck didn't you tell me? But he settles into the driver's seat, grabs his brother by the hair, looks him in the eye. "Don't be a dumbass."

Sam shoves at him, and starts to laugh again, a little off this time, maybe relieved. Dean ignores it, starts the car, and starts talking about the ghost up at the Reynolds place. There's more important shit right now. There usually is.