There’s a bar in New England named Hard Candy that Dean would never admit to being fond of because the floors are clean and the tables have a polished finish and the bartender, Brian, who has worked there for thirty five years running, enjoys a sharp conversation and a good cigar. It’s a little more refined than Dean feels comfortable in indulging, but Sam knows.
What Sam doesn’t know is how Brian knew their Dad but he does know that Brian doesn’t give them the stink eye whenever they wander in and doesn’t charge them full price and doesn’t toss them out on their asses for their dirty boots and worn out shirts and high profile as deceased serial killers, so Sam’s assuming that it probably had something to do with blood and nightmares and a strange forged kinship between John Winchester and a man who wears purple paisley ties tucked into his shirt and fills glasses for a living.
The point is there is a bar in New England that’s for blood a tad bluer than the Winchesters and Dean, for whatever reason, be it the remembrance of their father or the quality of the booze or the general atmosphere, secretly loves it.
So Sam, naturally, is the one who has to pretend to kick up the fuss to go there.
“Dean, c’mon.” Sam tries for the proper cadence of pitch and intonation to get the perfect mix of whining, pleading, and demanding that turns Dean big brother machismo into spiteful catering.
“Everything’s so expensive there, Sam,” Dean argues , staring straight out at the road so Sam can’t spring ‘The Eyes’ on him and end this petty argument before it even gets rolling.
“Brian never charges us full price,” Sam reminds him.
“What if Brians’s not working there anymore?” Dean fires back, like that’s a valid argument or something.
“Then we don’t have to stay,” Sam swears earnestly.
Dean chews on the inside of his lip and the streetlights cast quick flashes of light over his features. He thinks it over a bit longer than Sam’s expecting him to -usually the fall comes right after Sam makes some stipulation about them leaving- and that’s when he knows that it’s coming.
“Why do you even want to go?” Dean glances his way. “It’s not like you’re gonna eat or drink anything there that you can’t get anywhere else.”
Sam exhales softly.
Dean’s trying. He knows Dean’s trying. He sees Dean trying every single day and he appreciates it so much, but Dean really isn’t equipped to handle all the baggage Sam comes with. He can’t tell the difference between appropriate and inappropriate, help and make worse, his own curiosity and things that are actually important.
Sam understands that Dean gets uncomfortable eating when Sam doesn’t and Sam understands, really he does, that Dean’s trying to be sensitive for him.
Dean just sucks at it and he should take the fucking gift Sam’s trying to give him without making a god damn fuss about it
“How about this,” Sam barters between slightly grit teeth. “You order for two and I’ll pick off your plate. Deal?”
Dean doesn’t say anything but he points the car in the direction of Hard Candy.
There’s a bar in New England named Hard Candy that Sam would never admit to hating with every fiber of his being.
He hates the lighting, he hates the smell, he hates all the girls in their cocktail dresses that drape themselves across the bar trying to flirt with men in Oxford collars for free drinks. He hates their smooth, thin legs that they cross at the knee, he hates their slender feet in stiletto heels that just make them seem longer, he hates how they look at Dean and see the grit of him as glamour and want a taste. He hates how, at seventeen, Dean started looking back.
Nothing of any substantial benefit has ever happened to Sam in Hard Candy and he never expects anything to.
In fact, as they pull into the lot behind the old colonial architecture of Hard Candy, Sam’s has the paranoiac certainty that any monogamy their ‘relationship’ has held in the last three months of sweaty sheets and less than innocent groping is about to be blown all to hell when one of those girls in their size zero (Zero, zero, what a great number, Sam wishes men sizes came in zeroes) dresses is going to catch Dean’s attention (just like before) and call him over (just like before) and ask him if they can have a ride in his classic car (just like before) and Dean will smile (just like before) and give them one (just like before).
Three months ago this would have ruffled Sam, but it wouldn’t have eaten at him. It wouldn’t have resurfaced every nervous twitch he had when he was seventeen and it absolutely wouldn’t have reawakened that bone deep thirst that dries up his mouth and his muscles and his soul.
Sam blinks and realizes that he’s blocking the door.
“Sorry.” He shakes himself.
Dean holds the door open, caught between inside and out. “Are you sure you want to, Sam? We can always veg out in the motel room, instead.”
“Nah,” Sam forces a smile. Who knows when the next time they’ll be in New England will be. Hell, maybe never with the way their lives work. “Let’s just have a good time, okay?”
It smells overwhelmingly of warm bread and shellfish inside Hard Candy and Sam wants to flay his taste buds off his tongue.
“Hey!” Dean lights up when he sees Brian and the bar and all those twiggy socialites who are just clamoring for some attention and Sam fades back into a table at the other side of the bar. He tucks himself into a corner, under some intense scaffolding that casts long shadows, and he waits for Dean to reappear with whatever comp’d meal and prepaid booze Brian graces them with.
The music is pleasant, Sam supposes. If Hard Candy has anything going for it in his eyes it’s that there’s always something that isn’t country fried or classic rock playing, which is a breath of fresh air. He closes his eyes and lays his palms flat against the table, feeling how smooth and clean something can be when someone actually takes the time and patience to maintain it, and focuses in on the music in an attempt to drown out the bar and psych himself up a little bit.
Hard Candy isn’t about him. It’s never been about him. Hard Candy is for Dean and Sam is going to maybe a little bit, kinda, sorta break a promise that they made that he’s not going to fake it any more.
Just a little, though.
Like, maybe a bite or two, just to make Dean happy.
Then, later, when Dean agrees to show one of those girls with the rich parents and the zero (00.00. Zero.) waists how fast a Chevy Impala can go from zero to sixty Sam’ll just excuse himself to the bathroom and it’ll be like it never happened.
This night is about Dean.
“Hey,” Dean greets, parting the crowd with his presence and platter of sizzling fried chicken and clam chowder and bacon cheeseburger and onion rings and beer and, Christ, Sam really did tell him to order for two, didn’t he?
“Hey,” Sam calls back, meeting him halfway to help shuffle out the plates, working to not let any of the food actually touch him.
Dean’s gotten him beer, but Sam wants water. Wants lots of water. All of the water in the world, if he could manage it. Or maybe just enough to drown himself in whenever Dean gets around to glancing over at the girls at the bar.
Dean looks happy, though, jawing at his burger and moaning like he’s having a biblical reawakening, eyes rolling and cheeks coloring and, even though Sam doesn’t even get how someone could ever be that happy about food, it makes it worth it.
“Dude,” Dean groans, “you have got to try this burger. Just whatever you’re comfortable with or whatever, but, oh my god, it’s like an orgasm on a bun.” He holds out the burger, like Sam’s going to eat it out of his hands.
Sam rolls his eyes and catches first sight of her. She’s the one, he can tell. She looks exactly the type, exactly the perfect that’s going to compliment Dean’s perfect, even just for a night, and she’s heading their way on legs that go up and up and up and up.
Sam ducks his head and braces for the fallout. At least he didn’t even have any time to put food in, he guesses.
“Excuse me?” she interrupts, all polite manners and pristine accent-less diction.
“Huh?” Dean replies inelegantly around a mouthful of half chewed meat and soggy bun.
“Sorry to interrupt,” she says, pacing the words beautifully and Sam never thought to be self-conscious of how he spoke before. “I was just wondering if the Chevy classic outside was yours.”
“You mean my baby?” Dean preens, as expected. “Yeah, she’s mine.”
The girl smiles a toothpaste ad smile. “Cool. It’s a hot car. You think you could take me for a ride?” she asks, because she looks the way she looks, she has the money that she has and no one turns her down when she offers. For her it’s that easy.
Sam balls up his napkin in his hand and tosses it on the table, preparing his stealthy egress.
“Sometime, yeah,” Dean shrugs and turns away from her. “But not tonight, sweetheart, sorry.”
Sam freezes up.
She takes it in stride, shrugs a shoulder and shoots another Colgate fresh smile Dean’s way and assures him if he changes his mind she’ll be on the other side of the bar. Dean tells her that he won’t.
And then she’s gone.
“What?” Dean cocks brow at him. He smirks, practically basting in self-satisfaction. “Don’t look at me like that,” he scoffs when Sam doesn’t stop staring. “This doesn’t mean we’re going steady or anything.”
“Okay,” Dean concedes. “We might be going steady little bit. Don’t expect me to give you my jacket or anything.”
Sam reaches forward and Dean braces himself like he’s expecting Sam to grab his jaw and kiss him senseless in the middle of public and, to be fair, Sam’s pretty much expecting that as well. Instead of going for Dean’s face, though, he finds himself going for Dean’s hands.
Sam takes a monster bite out of the burger caught between their fingers.Dean was right. It’s pretty okay.