IN VINO VERITAS

Chapter 4

Less than four hours previously…
​​

Dean watched Sam leave the bar. He was walking stiffly, shoulders arched back, the way he walked when he was royally pissed. Dean didn’t feel good about the last part of their conversation, knew he shouldn’t have been so hard on his brother, but he wasn’t lying about being tired. He needed time to kick back, relax and Sam in full-on hunter mode wasn’t helping that on any level. What Dean needed right now was some distraction and diversion. What he really wanted was sex.

​​Right on cue the chick in the Led Zep tee dropped into the seat opposite. She smiled in a manner which meant only one thing and he grinned right back.

​​“How about we find that Stairway to Heaven, sweetheart?”

​​He got the essentials in thirty seconds flat; her name was Tanya and she was unattached. The rest was basically killing time but he had to go through the motions; hook-up protocol was like religion, you did it by the book. Occasionally you might get lucky, some renegade chick who’d cut right to the chase, but most of them played the long game. Tanya was definitely one of those; the type you needed to get properly oiled before making a move.

​​Dean bought their drinks; he paid for their burgers, made amusing small talk and told outrageous lies for over two hours, knowing the whole time his credit card was close to maxed out. He was drinking too fast, which might lead to something embarrassing later on, but what the hell right? He’d cross that bridge when he got to it; if he ever got to it…

​​The bar had been filling up steadily and around eleven he noticed four guys come in. He only paid attention because Tanya was in the can and on account of the noise they were making. At the hub of it was a weasely looking dude with long, stringy blonde hair. If Dean had been closer he might have been irritated but he’d drunk enough beer to take the edge off and his mind was focussed on getting laid. Finally, just after 11.30, Tanya started giving the right signals. Shortly after she suggested they go back to her place.

​​The fresh air outside the bar didn’t do much to sober Dean up; in fact it made things worse. He had his arm wrapped round Tanya’s shoulders, as much to hold himself up as put on a show of intimacy. Dammit, he wished he hadn’t drunk so much. He gazed round the parking lot, looking for his baby before remembering she was long gone. He turned to Tanya, slightly embarrassed.

​​“So my jerk brother kind of took off in my ride.”

​​She smiled and planted a quick kiss on his cheek. “Don’t sweat it honey. Mine’s over there.

​​She led him to an ancient Pontiac in the furthest corner of the lot. She’d seen better days but it wouldn’t take much fixing to get her looking pretty again. Dean was still impressed. As Tanya fumbled in her purse, looking for the keys, he heard the street door of the bar bang open. Curious, he turned to look. The loud blonde dude from earlier was coming out, his three buddies close behind and they were all heading in his direction. He nudged Tanya, still digging for gold.

​​“They with you?”

​​She glanced at the group dismissively. “You kidding?”

​​Dean wasn’t convinced. They were approaching with clear intent and he sized them up quickly. None of them looked like anything he should be worried about, but he was curious to know what he’d done to piss them off. Tanya was the obvious link. She’d probably lied to him; they usually did, and was most likely dating one of them. Now it was time for payback. When they were six feet away he knew he’d definitely found trouble but bluffed it out anyway.

​​“Only four, huh? Okay, I’m game.”

​​Something slammed across his shoulders with enough force to send him sprawling in the dirt. He rolled onto his back, trying to get his feet under him and Tanya was on him like a bitch on heat. She straddled his chest and his booze fuelled brain tried to connect what was going on. He looked round blearily for whoever had whacked him, the guy who’d managed to sneak up behind, but there was nobody. Just four morons from the bar up close and personal. He stared at Tanya.

​​“This’d be pretty hot if those circle jerks weren’t watching.”

​​She smiled sweetly. “They’re with me.”

​​It took a long moment for the penny to drop and Dean cursed his own drunkenness. “You set me up? That’s… fantastic.”

Tanya’s smile seemed feral now. “I put you down, honey.”

​​She pointed at the piece of two by four on the ground and Dean’s brain screamed asshole. Tanya leaned down and whispered in his ear.

​​“And so easy; I thought Dean Winchester would be a lot smarter.”

​​She ran a fingernail down his cheek and he jerked his face away. “We could have had fun together. What a waste...”

​​All Dean could think about was the damned credit card. “You know what’s a waste? All those friggin’ spritzers I bought you. I want my money back.”

​​“Too late, Nate.”

​​“Bitch.”

​​Tanya laughed at him. “Is that all you’ve got?”

​​Dean had to think for a few seconds. His insult generator wasn’t exactly fine-tuned right now but he gave it his best shot.

​​“Fugly bitch.”

​​She slapped his face hard enough to make his eyes water. Blondie stepped into his limited field of view.

​​“Quit playing with him. We’ve got work to do.”

​​Tanya stood up lithely. “He’s all yours, boys. Put on a show for me.”

​​Free of the load, Dean got slowly to his feet; watching his opponents the whole time. Blondie seemed amused.

​​“You the gambling type, Winchester?”

​​They all knew his name? Awesome. Dean realised he’d been properly baited but refused to let it show. He brushed himself off nonchalantly. “Depends on the odds.”

​​The men surrounding him backed off, giving him space and Blondie drew a knife. Dean smirked and went for his gun. “You heard the one about bringing a blade to a gun fight, numb nuts?”

​​The .45 wasn’t in his pocket. He knew for sure he’d put it there before he left the motel, rarely travelled without it. Tanya’s voice drifted over, amused and patronising.

​​“You looking for this?”

​​She was holding the Colt and Dean scowled at her, wondering when she’d done it. “Slippery fingered whore.”

​​“Save the pillow talk, Dean. The moment’s over.”

​​Dean turned his attention back to the gang, thinking through his opening moves, hoping to get the jump on them. “Guess we’ll do this the old fashioned way, huh?”

​​They had no problem with that. The fight was fast and messy; Dean wasn’t only out-numbered, he was also way too drunk. He began well enough, managed to get in some solid punches but it didn’t last. His focus was mostly on the three men coming at him but he noticed Blondie hanging back, knife ready for action. A moment later somebody landed a solid haymaker to his jaw and he staggered, off balance and struggling to stay upright. If he went down he was finished. That’s when he felt the blade slice down his side.

​​​​He barely noticed the pain or the blood, just hurled himself at Blondie, knocked the knife aside and grounded him with a hard jab to the face. He followed his own momentum and landed on top of the bastard, punching him repeatedly until something crashed into the back of his head and knocked him clear. The gang surrounded him and he curled into a tight ball, trying to protect himself from the blows and kicks raining down. Eventually something harder than a fist or boot smashed into his forehead; it sent him to oblivion.


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