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Two Hours of Air Conditioning

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Oct. 16th, 2016 | 07:40 pm

Title: Two Hours of Air Conditioning
Creator: verucasalt123
Recipient: darcydelaney
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1,161
Warnings: cursing, a little angst
Author’s Notes: pre-series, Sam is 12, Dean is 16.

Summary: Dean didn’t have the energy to waste time on his “Dad does the best he can” argument.

Another summer, another town, another garbage apartment, another promise that their dad would check in whenever he got a chance. Dean and Sam knew the drill by now.

That didn’t mean they were happy with it. As usual, Dean didn’t express any of his own dissatisfaction; he shut up about it in favor of trying to lift his little brother’s mood.

Sam did not hesitate to express any of his own dissatisfaction really ever, but especially when John was well out of earshot (out of state, whatever).

Their dad could have picked a nice town in Maine or Montana to park his two kids for the summer months. Sam could have spared Dean the pre-teen version of a temper tantrum he was currently having.

But that would have meant that the universe was handing Dean Winchester a goddamn break for once in his life, which was just a ridiculous thing to hope for.

So John left them in a small town west of Jacksonville, Florida where it was a hundred and ten degrees by noon, and where they shared space with the biggest, nastiest cockroaches they’d ever seen (and that was saying something, considering how many roach-infested motels, apartments, and alleys the Winchesters had frequented over the years). And Sam was not censoring himself at all as he bitched about the broken air conditioning, the impossibility of keeping any food safe from bugs and, to top it all off, if they had to stay in stupid Florida, couldn’t they at least be close to the fucking beach?

“Language, Sam”, Dean weakly interjected. “Look, I’m sorry, I know this isn’t ideal. But we make the best of it, right? Just like we always do.”

Sam turned away and sullenly responded, “Yeah, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could just have something decent for once, and not have to put effort into making it liveable?”

Dean didn’t have the energy to waste time on his “Dad does the best he can” argument. Mainly because Sam, barely twelve years old at this point, didn’t buy it anymore.

Instead, he moved toward the door and said, “I’m gonna walk around a little, see what’s closeby, pick up a few things at the grocery store. You wanna-” Sam had already walked away and slammed the bedroom door.

Resigned to his fate, Dean left to wander the little town and try to think of ways he might be able to bring Sammy around. It was getting harder and harder to pull off, but Dean always managed to find a way eventually, and Sam always dropped his indignance at how gravely unjust his life was within a few days, maybe a week.

There really wasn’t all that much to see. Couple of grocery stores, fast food joints, pawn shops, liquor stores, check cashing places...what you’d expect in a small town with mostly low-income residents.

Rounding a corner where he saw a sign for a low-cost grocery store, Dean spotted a movie theater. It actually looked pretty nice from the outside, nicer than he would expect for this kind of town. Noticing brightly colored flyers taped up all over the front of the place, he crossed the street to take a closer look. And he was so glad he did. This could be the key to solving more than one problem he was having to deal with.

After a quick trip through the grocery store, picking up a few essentials and giving himself a generous discount on a few items that were easy to conceal, Dean headed back to their second-floor apartment with a smile.

“Sammy!”, he called, as he was unpacking the plastic bags. “Got you some real orange juice at the store.”

That did the trick. Real fruit juice was expensive compared to Hi-C and Kool-Aid and other crap they usually had to settle for. Probably would be settling for by the end of the summer, but right now, they could just enjoy it.

Sam poured himself a small plastic cup of juice and said, “Thanks, Dean. See anything that doesn’t suck in this town?”

“As a matter of fact, I did. Movie theater, just a couple blocks away.”

The predicted response came immediately. “Dude, you know we can’t afford movies”, Sam said, rolling his eyes like this was maybe something Dean had forgotten.

Pulling one of the flyers out of his back pocket and smoothing it out on the table, Dean replied, “I think we can here. Special for summer vacation. Dollar movies on Tuesday nights, a different one every week. Probably all old ones, from last year or whatever, but it’s cheap, and it gets us into some hardcore air conditioning for a couple of hours.”

He was going for casual, but inside, Dean was really holding out hope for…yes! There it was, Sammy’s real smile, the one with the dimples that made him look like a regular kid instead of a giant ball of anger.

“Pulp Fiction this week”, Sam said, keeping that smile. “I really wanted to see that last year!”

And fine, it wasn’t exactly an appropriate movie for a 12 year old, but given the general circumstances of their life…

“Well, you get to see it this year. Two days from now, and we don’t even have to sneak in”, Dean said, with a smile to match Sam’s.

Smuggling in some candy and a couple of Capri Suns, Dean figured he could let Sam get real movie theater popcorn. It smelled really good, but it had been so long since either one of them had eaten something like that, it was almost like they were tasting it for the first time.

Two hours later, Sam talked animatedly about the movie the whole walk home. Dean was feeling a little guilty for being so frustrated with his little brother’s attitude when they first arrived. All it took to make him happy was something so simple.

As they were getting ready for bed that night, Sam said, “You were right, Dean. You always find a way to make things better for us. I’m sorry I was being such an asshole before.”

Dean rolled his eyes and said, out of habit, “Sam. Language”, then continued, “We both figure out how to make things better for us. Now go to sleep, maybe later in the week I’ll take you to get a Royale with cheese.”

Laughing, they both went to sleep feeling better than they had in a good while.

So that’s how they made it through - nine weeks stuck in this shithole, but they looked forward to their Tuesdays. They didn’t even skip the week when the movie was Little Women. Somehow made it through Interview With A Vampire without breaking into hysterical laughter until they left. And when they moved on at the end of summer, at least they had the memories of those movie nights to take with them.

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