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Cashing In by Twinchy

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Story notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
The evening sun gleamed off the polished hood of the sleek black Impala parked across the street. Sam and Dean sat in the booth of a decent diner, discussing a string of disappearances a few states up North and waiting for their food to arrive.

Their last job had been quite easy and quick, no secret twists and most importantly, no wounds to lick - a rare thing lately. Now they were heading out of town, after a rich meal and a good night's sleep, of course.

"You think it might be a Wendigo?" Dean scratched his head.

"Um, yeah. Maybe." Sam took a sip of water, clearly not convinced.

The campers' bodies had been mutilated alright but not exactly chewed on. At least the police reports gave no indication as to that. So far. And there had been victims to retrieve at all.

"Okay, Einstein," Dean sounded impatient. "If you have another theory, I'm all ears."

"Honestly, I have no clue."

The waitress arrived with a Caesar's Salad, a huge burger and a side dish of fries, dripping with grease. Dean threw the elderly woman his brightest smile and didn't care one bit for the disgruntled look Sam grazed him with.

No sooner had they dug into their food than a loud clang came from across the room. The brothers' heads turned towards the noise.

A man they had met at the local bar the previous night was standing in the doorway, clenching a crowbar in his hand and waving it at them non too friendly. His four buddies were right behind him, a sinister look on their hard faces.

"Oh-oh, that can't be good."

"Understatement of the year, Dean."

Threateningly, the five men walked over, each carrying some sort of blunt weapon. The Winchesters stood up slowly, Sam putting out his hands in a placating gesture.

"Guys, we don't want trouble. We'll just finish the meal and then we're out of here."

Sam was glad that for once, Dean kept his loose tongue in check. He probably wanted to avoid a fight as much as his brother, especially with the waitress rooted behind the counter, unsure of what to do all on her own.

"I wonder whose money you two are going to pay with here. Yours or our's?" One challenged.

Dean cocked his eyebrow. "Hey pal, we won fair and square. Why don't you take your..."

"Dean!" He shot his brother a withering look before turning back to face the men, none of which seemed to have taken too well to the older Winchester's attitude.

"Look, what..." Sam didn't get any further as the crowbar smashed down on the plastic table. The other guests had joined the waitress behind the counter, watching the scene spiralling down into disaster from a safe distance.

"We are done looking, kid!" The guy was red with fury. "We want our money back. NOW!"

"Why don't we take our little conversation outside where you don't scare the other customers?"

The five goons considered Dean's suggestion for a second, then nodded their consent.

"How much do we owe you?" Sam called over to the waitress with a sincere smile.

After a moment of silence, the elderly woman cleared her throat: "It... it's on the house."

The brothers shrugged and left a remarkable tip on the table for her.

"After you," one of the men said with mock politeness, opening a corridor for them by waving invitingly with his piece of pipe.

Sam and Dean rolled their eyes and sighed, then they walked through the passage and over to the door, followed by the five thugs. The relief in the diner was tangible as they left.

Once outside, the party went left and into the alley where they would be removed from immediate sight. The sun was still warm and a soft breeze blew stray litter along the pavement. A homeless person who was nestled behind the dumpster with a bottle of liquor spotted the group and hurried away.

With the wall of the diner against their backs, the brothers turned around as one to face their opponents.

"Showtime, guys." Dean actually rubbed his hands in anticipation while Sam simply rolled his shoulders preparing for the inevitable fight. Neither of them left the angry men, who positioned themselves in a half-circle around them, out of their sights. Their father had taught them better than that.

"We'll give you one last chance to walk out of here with your health and dignity intact, boys," one offered generously. "Just hand us back the six grand you owe us, and we're done."

Sam frowned. "Six? Why six? You only lost one each."

"A little extra to sooth our temper shouldn't be too much to ask for, don't you think, kid?" The goons laughed mirthlessly.

Dean threw them an ugly look. He was certainly not in the mood to give up their hustled money and Sam had no intention to, either. Although the men were armed and angry, they were probably no match for the two of them. On the other hand, they'd most likely get in a few good blows by sheer numbers alone. So much for not licking wounds at the end of the day...

"Your funeral. We tried to be reasonable," the ringleader said, lifting his crowbar menacingly. The others followed suit.

"Stop whining and bring it on already," Sam answered uncharacteristically impatient. He was in no hurry to get worked over, but slugging it out was way better than waiting for the fight to begin.

And begin it did.

Not in the least caring about outnumbering their adversaries, all five charged at the same time. Sam managed to block the first swing of the pipe with his arm and kicked the assailant in the gut; the man stumbled backwards with a grunt. Avoiding a blow to his head with a baseball bat by mere inches, the younger Winchester made good of his own arm range and punched the second goon in the face, hard. A crack followed by an outrageous howl bore witness to the guy's broken nose.

Dean had already retrieved the crowbar from the ringleader who lay curled up several feet away on the blacktop, out for the count. His remaining two attackers looked worse for the wear, too. Beckoning with his own weapon now, his dark smile was disconcerting.

The man with the piece of pipe came for Sam again a moment later. When the younger sibling deflected the strike at his ribs, something rock-solid crashed against his back from the left hand side. It knocked the air from his lungs and brought him to his knees.

Stunned and panting, he turned his head to the other goon whose expression was beyond thunderous, blood running freely from his nostrils. The guy wiped a hand across his face impatiently before he bashed his bat into Sam's spine once more. Gasping, the younger man bent double and fell sideways to the ground.

From the periphery of his vision, Dean saw his brother going down. Within two seconds flat he was upon the thugs whacking Sam time and again. In his fury, the older Winchester didn't hesitate hitting the crowbar over one man's head, knocking him out with a sickening thud.

While his concentration was focused on aiding his helpless sibling, Dean's remaining attackers didn't waste this opportunity. A wrench struck him high between the shoulder blades from behind, then the goon kicked his feet out from under him, sending him sprawling.

Once they had him down on his back, one guy punched Dean's face strong enough to daze him. Out of their minds with rage, they smacked the wrench and piece of pipe into his stomach and rib cage until his struggles ceased while their buddy kept kicking Sam viciously.

Suddenly sirens wailed, closing in. The three men looked up and let go of the brothers. Hefting their unconscious friends between them, they started down the alley - away from the approaching police cars. They picked up their weapons in a haste as they went.

Sam groaned, glad it was over and rolled to his knees weakly. He didn't try getting up just yet, for now it was hard enough drawing in one breath after another.

After a few more moments in this crouched position, he shot a glance over to his brother. Dean's face was ashen; his eyes clenched shut and blood trickling languidly from his split lip onto the pavement. He didn't move.

"Dean." The younger man crawled slowly to his sibling, who gave tiny moans with every ragged gasp.

"Dean, how are you, man? Where do you hurt?"

At first Sam merely received an unintelligible mumble, then Dean smiled unconvincingly.

"Jus' peachy," he slurred before a choked cough racked his battered body.

The younger Winchester shook his head in disbelief. "You're impossible, Dean."

Cars screeching to a halt caught their attention and policemen walked into the alley, calmly talking to them as they came up to the brothers. The officers' eyes were scanning the vicinity warily for any attackers but they didn't entirely discard the young men as a threat, either.

Sam put on his best lost puppy impression. "The men ran down the alley when they heard the sirens," he told the police. "That way."

He made a point of indicating in the right direction with a nod of his head. After getting the crap beaten out of him, he had no intention of provoking the officers with any rash movements.

"An ambulance is on its way here," a policeman informed them.

"We're good," Dean rasped, cleared his throat and tried again, more convincingly this time.

"We're good. Really." To prove his point, he slowly got up into a sitting position. Sam placed a supporting hand on his brother's shoulder when he swayed a little. Dean winced and fliched away at the contact. The younger Winchester made a mental note to check Dean's collarbone too once they were back in the motel.

The officer assessed them, unsure of what to make of that exclamation. The two men seemed to have taken a severe working over but he couldn't make them accept medical attention against their will.

"Are you sure? You don't look too good," he offered again, frowning.

"Yes, we're sure." This time it was Sam who answered, an encouraging smile plastered on his face.

The policeman shrugged and called the ambulance off via radio. He turned to his colleagues who had searched the parameter in the meantime, finding no clue as to the attackers' identity.

The brothers got to their feet sluggishly, Dean leaning heavily on his sibling. Together they took a tentative step towards the entrance of the alley. The older boy clenched his jaw tightly but didn't make a sound as they walked to their car inch by painful inch.

"Wait!" Another officer jogged towards them.

Dean actually froze in mid-step whereas Sam schooled his expression and turned around with a stiff smile. All they needed now was for the police to recognize Dean as the Milwaukee bank robber from the news.

"We still need you for the official report on the incident." The weathered policeman looked at them expectantly.

"No," Sam shook his head. "We won't file charges."

"You two got mugged and still you won't report it?" The man regarded them suspiciously.

"No, we're good." Sam swallowed thickly. He really did want to file a report but with their police record, all that was going to get them was more trouble than they could handle. Henrickson was still hot on their tails, certainly too close for comfort.

"How about your friend then?"

"No. No report," Dean confirmed without looking at the officer. He knew the stakes as well.

"Okay. If you change your mind, you know where to find us." The man left them be, finally.

"Thanks," Dean rasped and they proceeded across the street and to the waiting Impala.

To Sam's surprise, Dean shuffled to the passenger side without much ado; a sure testament to how miserable he really felt. They climbed into the car, careful not to jostle their injuries and headed to the motel.

Despite their poor condition, the two decided to grab their stuff, check out of the room and forego tending to their wounds until they found a new motel somewhere past the city limits. Neither of them was willing to find out whether the five thugs knew their whereabouts and might want to finish what they started.

Stubborn as a mule, Dean refused to let his brother have a superficial look at his abdomen first to make sure there was no internal bleeding. Yet, growing up facing down John Winchester, Sam didn't quit until Dean finally gave in.

Satisfied his brother wasn't going to bleed out while they left town, Sam threw their duffels into the trunk, helped a scowling Dean into a comfortable position on the passenger seat and started the engine. Then he pushed Metallica into the stereo and increased the volume.
Chapter end notes:
A/N: My gratitude goes out to my awesome beta twinchaosblade who makes sense of my stuff, even if I don't.

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