Who knows what today is? That's right - it's the birthday of the lovely and talented gekizetsu, who sometimes goes by eighth_horizon to elude the paparazzi. (Hey, "Smeckles" was taken.) Barb is someone extraordinary. She writes stories that are heartbreaking and hilarious and intricate and powerful all at once. And she's bright and fun, a real riot and an absolute weirdo. Anyway, she asked for something happy where the boys are together. Um. This is what I came up with. Happy birthday, honey! This one's for you.
He knows he's not a moody punk like Sam - he refuses to be - so the abrupt flip he makes between exhilaration and mortification catches him by surprise. Shit, he'd thought when Sam said Let's go out, have some fun he'd meant, you know, actual fun. Not standing in line for forty minutes in front of a door his left boot could take down with one careless swipe. And definitely not squeezing through that door and having his hand stamped aqua while his eardrums were assaulted with one of the greatest crimes against humanity he'd ever encountered.
"Fuck, Sam," he shouts, having to get up on his tippy-toes to get his mouth anywhere near the vicinity of Sam's ear. Hard to tell with all that hair; maybe he's whispering sweet nothings to Sam's occipital lobe. "You brought me to an 80's club?"
Sam turns and gives him that completely unfair, out-of-bounds grin, looking more relaxed than he has in ages. Dean sighs. He should have set a pattern earlier - no means no, puppydog eyes and dimples notwithstanding. Yeah. All he needs now is a time machine and a heart of stone so he can go back twenty years and see how that works out for him.
"Dean!" Sam says, practically sparkling with excitement. Or maybe that's just glitter. This place is staying pretty accurate, from what he can remember from the late-night movies he used to fall asleep watching while Sammy snored and burrowed into his side after sneaking all the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms. "Dean, they've got an Electric Avenue!"
Dean does the whoop-de-fucking-do finger-twirl once and is about to go again when Sam grabs his hand in one of his gargantuan paws and tugs. It's like 1989 all over again, when Sammy had dragged him up and down every aisle in the Goodwill store looking for Optimus Prime, stubborn, chubby fingers pressed insistently against his. Damn it. He'll go, but there's no way he's going to do it while shimmying his hips.
Sweet, sweet alcohol is to be found at the junction of Electric Avenue and Baker Street, and he's too relieved to bitch that much about people who don't know the difference between the 70's and the 80's. Sam's still grinning dazedly, and if Dean hadn't bought the bottles of beer himself he'd think someone had slipped the kid a little happy-maker.
While Sam's concentrating on pacing himself, taking the beer down in careful little sips, Dean checks out the scenery. Kids, mostly, too damn young to remember the 80's, and boomers - yikes - looking for that fountain of youth. He kind of wants to point out that this is practically a "scared straight" intervention for anybody craving a so-called normal life, but Sam's bopping his head to the beat - of a synthesizer, Jesus! hadn't these people been informed of the invention of the bass or even the drums? - like the rest of the morons, so he figures it won't go over too well. Assuming he can get Sam to hear him over the wail of the electric keyboards. He is so going to need to shower for a couple hours to feel clean again.
As always, the beer splits its energies trying to go after Sam's knees and brain simultaneously; he watches the familiar but still improbable sight of Sam rolling along in his loose Sasquatch shuffle. Shit. He's actually rockin' down to Electric Avenue, turning as if in slow motion to beckon Dean forward. "C'mon!" he shouts, giddy as a pig in shit. Dean clenches his jaw and follows, trying to figure out the best time for a mercy killing.
"Ohhhhh," Sam exhales when he catches up, his head tipped back to look at the ceiling like it's not about two feet from his nose. The song changes and Dean tilts his head up too, briefly, just to make sure there's no more glitter heading their way, and sees that this part of the club ceiling has been done up to look like the sky. The little twinkle lights kind of do look like stars, and he bets being halfway trashed is all it takes to make the illusion complete; Sam looks positively enchanted. He rolls his eyes and gets an arm around Sam; the kid could plow into someone and no one deals well with a close encounter with a freaking redwood.
There's a tickle on the back of his neck as he steers Sam along, and Sam shivers a little and downs the rest of his beer. Then he steals Dean's and polishes that off too. That means that not only is the kid well and truly toasted, but Dean's got to face this place without any sort of buffer. He tries to straighten his spine defiantly, ignoring the heavy weight of Sam's arm over his shoulders.
"Dean," Sam breathes, stretching the name out like a plea, raising his arm to point. "Look at her." Every lusty thought Sam's ever had is wrapped up in that low, shocked tone, and Dean shoots a quick look at him, assessing his level of drunkenness and jackassery, before following Sam's gesture. There's a girl there, and he squints, trying to see her more clearly through the thick, smoky air of the club, and he thinks he can see brown hair and, yeah, sure, she's pretty cute but not . . . shit, is she glowing?
He drops his arm from Sam's waist to pat his pockets for whatever Sam had let him bring. No weapons, of course, because it would be unseemly for him to be able to do his job. Not even a flask of holy water. All he had was his trusty EMF meter, so Sam was okay with him finding bad guys but then apparently he was supposed to just talk them into a change of heart. He wondered if maybe Dad had dropped Sam on his head a couple times, maybe while Dean had been in the bathroom or at pre-school or . . . whatever. Back to the glowing girl.
He looks back up and Sam's jaw is hanging wide open, advertising to the entire club that he's never had a cavity, and he darts a look ahead of them to see how Glowy's taking this charming display, but she's vanished. A little gust of relief blows through him and he gets his hand on the small of Sam's back to turn him around. "C'mon, Sammy, we got better beer back in the room." Sam, though, isn't budging, and Glowy's suddenly appeared again, much closer this time, her light brown eyes locked on Sam's. He thinks Sam's drooling.
He'll use that if he has to. "Sorry," he says, "he, uh, had a little accident. I gotta get him home." He gives her a big fake smile but she ignores him completely. Sam doesn't even pull out a selection from his bitchface repertoire, just continues to gape like he's only recently been released into the wild. He pushes a little harder against Sam's back, and Sam suddenly takes off running.
Sam's really going for it, arms and legs pumping, panting like he's in Chariots of Fire, but the thing is, he's running in place. Dean tries to remember if he's ever seen anything so damn stupid before in his life. He's pretty much drawing a blank. He gets a hand on Sam's collar and yanks him to a halt, glaring at Glowy and snapping his fingers in front of her face when her gaze doesn't shift. Damn, is he tired of being ignored.
Before he can roll up his sleeves and get to work smacking some sense into Sam, a little respect into Glowy, and the bad taste out of the rest of these people, though, a spotlight hits her. He looks up and sees that the fake night sky has been replaced by a fake day sky, with clouds parting and a sunbeam enveloping Glowy. It doesn't seem to hurt her and it sure as shit doesn't get Sam to snap out of his fugue state, but before he can figure out what the point of it is, it starts to change, swirling colors and lights like the Aurora Borealis has a new place to set up shop and it's some fucking backwards club where they play shittastic music.
At this point he'd kill for a decent laser show, a little BOC to rock along to, anything but this teeny-bopper version of entertainment. Sam starts running again, and Dean just stomps hard on his foot. He is so not in the mood for this. He gets to pick the entertainment for at least the next year. Maybe the next five years.
He slaps Sam's hand down as it reaches out for Glowy's face, glaring up at his brother, who looks like every inch of him, from the forehead wrinkles down to those size-infinity feet, is yearning for this weird girl who just keeps glowing evilly at them. That's it. He swings Sam behind him and opens his mouth to start chanting - Latin or maybe just the lyrics to a decent song - but she starts to disappear, shimmering faintly. Sam's enormous hand reaches out again, over his shoulder, but Glowy continues to vanish. Slowly. "Hurry it up, bitch," he growls, and then Sam kicks him hard in the thigh. He spins and sees Sam doing his running-in-place thing again, because third time's the charm, only this time he's doing it while hovering a couple feet above the floor and caught in a spotlight of his own. He backs away to avoid being kicked anywhere important only to get Glowy's foot in his ass. She's floating too, the two of them still gazing at each other like they've been hypnotized.
A couple seconds later, the lights vanish and Sam crashes to the ground, pitching forward into Dean's arms. "Ow," Sam says, like Dean's a brick wall and not a guy who just got slammed in the kidneys.
"Yeah, ow," he says, his arms tightening around Sam while he scopes out their surroundings. The ceiling's reverted back to normal and Glowy's gone. He shakes Sam a little. "Sammy? You with me?"
"Um," Sam says.
He pushes Sam out of the club, gets them into the cold night air, and steers him to the car. He just waits while Sam blushes and fidgets and displays better dance moves than he had inside the club. "Dean? Are you gonna unlock the doors anytime soon?"
He shakes his head, looking at him over the Impala's roof. See if Sammy likes suddenly dealing with the strong, silent type for a brother.
Sam takes a deep breath and Dean moves away from his baby; Sammy likes to go for grand gestures when he has no clue but wants to appear completely in control. Sure enough, Sam follows him a few steps away and swings one arm out. "Dean -"
Dean stops the trajectory in mid-swing. "The hell is that?" Sam's hand now has a red insignia on it, two overlapping "M"s, but Dean knows for a fact that Sam had been stamped with the same aqua swirly that he'd gotten once they'd flashed their IDs to verify that they were of drinking age.
Sam looks stupidly down at his hand like he's never seen it before, so Dean just gets him into the car before it starts all over again. He doesn't want to deal with Glowy II: The Glowening.
Let Sam stew in his own glittery juices for a little while. Dean scrubs himself clean in the shower, singing good music at the top of his lungs, slapping the tiles when he needs a little percussion. He runs through half a Queen album before he's ready to dry off and dress, and he exits the bathroom with a cloud of steam rolling behind him. Sure enough, Sam's perched at the table, pecking at his laptop with a stern frown on his face; everything is back to normal. "Googling 'Sam Winchester' and 'dumbshit'?" he asks, stretching out on the bed closer to the door. "Too many results, right?"
"No, Dean," Sam says, absolutely humorless about this, swiveling the laptop around so that Dean can see the screen. "That club. It has an interesting history."
"Mm-hmm." If interesting is the way Sam wants to play off the night's dementia, he's going to have to work a little harder than that. "Night."
"No, I mean. There're all these people who go there hoping to get what they call 'the red stamp.'"
He's listening but that doesn't mean he has to let Sam know. "How imaginative."
"Dean, seriously. Listen. Everybody who comes in gets a hand stamp, right? The guy stamped us both with the same stamp, remember that? But each night, one person's stamp turns to this symbol." His eyes are still closed, but he knows Sam's holding up the back of his hand to display the bright red double M. He cracks open one eye to see Sam looking as embarrassed as he damn well should have in the club.
"Yeah? What happens to the star-bellied sneetches?" he prompts, since Sam's activated his selective muteness again.
"Uhh. I don't know," Sam lies, badly, closing the laptop. "I'm gonna take a shower."
The minute the bathroom door clicks shut Dean's got the computer open again. Idiot didn't even shut down the page he was on. He scrolls through entry after entry, flinching at the creative grammar and unnecessary punctuation, finally finding the answer in a few of the less brightly-colored posts. It's just a little sneaky mischief, nothing harmful, probably perpetrated by bored ghosts. The stamp allows its bearer to experience the lyrics of whatever song is playing when the insignia appears. One guy linked to the lyrics of his interactive experience - "Karma Chameleon." Some chick had "The Final Countdown," and his stomach lurches as he considers the possibility of flight in a machine manned only by big-haired losers. Not a single song he'd ever allow in his baby. He skims the rest, trying to find something that could match up with Glowy, but gets nothing. He closes the page and tries to remember exactly what he saw; he searches for "girl" and "Aurora Borealis" and "running" but nothing comes up. He keeps plugging away, and he finally scores.
Sam always sleeps heavily after a night of drinking, so Dean has plenty of time to work his magic. A little mousse and gel from the dollar store down the street, a marker, and a disposable camera are all he really needs. He styles Sam's soft, still-damp hair into careful peaks and swirls, consulting the picture of the band he's pulled up on the laptop. He writes "Miching Mallecho" on Sam's forehead; the marker's not permanent and anyway Sam's emo bangs will hide it if it doesn't scrub off right away. He goes through the roll of film in only a few minutes; the light is just right.
He downloads the song and sets it as the ringtone to Sam's cell. His work here is pretty much done, so he crawls back into bed for another hour of sleep.
He's brushing his teeth when Sam bursts into the bathroom, cursing incoherently as he jumps into the shower. "You're such a jerk," Sam yells.
Oh, yeah. Life can be pretty sweet sometimes. "I'm not the one who stamped you or made you drool all over Glowy," he points out, dripping toothpaste all over the sink. He pauses, then adds, just loud enough for Sam to hear, "Little Seagull."
"Shut up, Dean! I do not listen to Flock of Seagulls!"
"I'd let you, though, if you had auburn hair and tawny eyes."
He recognizes that sound. It's the sound of Sam thunking his head against the wall.
It's important to be gracious in victory, but it's more satisfying to ignore that principle. And he's used to making his own fun. He finishes brushing his teeth and then flushes the toilet, racing out of the bathroom. Sam screeches like a howler monkey and runs out of the bathroom in a loosely-knotted towel, dripping wet and burning with a need for vengeance. Dean looks at Sam's red face and heaving chest and drawls, "Take it easy, Sammy. After all, you ran all night and day." He grins and sidesteps when Sam tries to tackle him. Yeah, life is definitely good.
"Electric Avenue" lyrics
"I Ran" lyrics
"I Ran" download
Flock of Seagulls visual aid
"miching mallecho" is a phrase from Hamlet that means sneaky or lurking mischief or wickedness. Plus it's fun to say.
Many thanks to the effervescent janissa11 for giving this the once-over.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.