Author: Regala Electra
Spoilers: S1, Hell House
Word Count: 4,760
Summary: These being the records of the Brothers Winchester and their pranks involving hot peppers, from jalapenos to Jamaican Gold to Thai chile and finally to those mythical insanity peppers of Quezaltenango.
Author’s Notes: Major thanks to my beta ignited for being ever so awesome. For when your beta is willing to listen to you lose your damn mind, they deserve mad props. Written for the spn_summergen for unperfectwolf The prompt was pranks involving hot peppers and milk (together if you want). Story originally posted here.
Sam braces himself because it’s about to start and there’s nothing that can be done to avert whatever’s going to happen.
Dean would show off when Dad wasn’t looking. Here they are, at yet another one of the endless roadside diners that line any American road worth driving on, the waitresses all cut from the same cloth. Dad heads to hit the head and Dean keeps his head down to hide the smirk blooming there like a desert cactus. It’s damn impossible to kill and it means trouble if Sam isn’t careful.
Sam’s only eleven years old, but that doesn’t matter when you’re the brother of one Dean Winchester. You’re born ready for whatever he’s got up his sleeves. And it’s always an awful lot, especially lately, with the big dumb leather jacket that Dean’s taken to wearing, all scuffed and beaten around the collar and sleeves.
Because Dad’s not here and Dean’s gotten all gross about girls, he asks the waitress (who’s, like, Dad’s age), winking at her and everything, for some lemons slices and “jalapenos if you have ‘em.”
She clicks her tongue at the back her teeth, looking at Dean, seeing that he’s the very picture of mischief, and then sneaks a quick, almost dewy-eyed look to Sam. The waitress softens, saying that she’ll bring lemon slices but they don’t have jalapenos, which she pronounces as hail-y-pin-as.
Turning to Sam, Dean says, like he just thought of it, “Hey, you want some?”
The answer, at least the one he has in his head, is ick, no, you’re so gross and Dean shrugs. “Coulda had lemonade.”
Not true, Dad and Dean have used the last of the sugar at the table for their coffees, only thing left is the Sweet ‘N Low, and Sam’s always felt weird about asking for stuff from the waitresses. Dean’s so weird around them now and Sam doesn’t want Dean to tease him, like last time when Dean’d said, hey, I spied her first, dude.
Besides, Sam’s perfectly happy with his Coke, served in one of the big old-fashioned Coca-Cola soda shop glasses, the name displayed in a faded and chipped white paint on the sides.
The small plate of lemons is set next to Dean’s coffee, and the waitress asks if he wanted water or something. “I’m good,” Dean says, shooting her that weird wink again. He takes a lemon wedge between thumb and forefinger, gingerly, inspecting it thoughtfully, just like when he’s picking out a target when they go shooting at target ranges, and then, just like that, chomp – he has a mouth full of lemon. “Mmmm,” he says, his lips only slightly puckering when he pulls the rind away from his mouth.
Sam’s kind of amazed that Dean reacted like that, so forgive him for following after Dean, taking a tentative bite into one of the wedges.
Dad comes back right at the moment where Sam’s face has turned so sour, his eyes are slits and his mouth, barely opened, looks like a grimace.
Dad glances at both of them before declaring, as he sits down, “You enjoy lemons, son?”
He doesn’t, he really doesn’t, and even his Coke is ruined, it tastes like lemons and awful.
It’s useless to say that Dean made him do it, because the waitress comes round again, “I thought water might be...” but she trails off, seeing John’s gruff look, leaving the waters in the center of the square table. Dean happily drops two lemon wedges, after twisting them off in the water, into his glass.
Later, Dean will find his precious jalapeno peppers at a grimy restaurant/bar that doesn’t mind a man strolling in with obvious minors. These peppers will be stuffed with cream cheese and Dean’ll eat them, one after another after another. He’ll offer some to Sam, but Sam knows better, it’s just a trick.
Dad explains to Sam, once he’s got his information and is ready to hit the road towards the next hunt, that stuffed peppers aren’t spicy at all and he shoulda eaten something ‘cause all they got left is packaged dry food waiting in the car and they’re not stopping until they hit Mount Vernon, Illinois. Dean helpfully offers that he’s got some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, probably all smooshed at the bottom of his duffel. Sure it’s Sam favorite candy (chocolate-and-peanut-butter candy at least) but that doesn’t mean that he feels like he might have just been tricked again.
Jamaican Hot Peppers
They’re hungry and Dad’s away, he’s been hunting for over a week. Sam’s fingers are itching to pick at the scab on his knee, the only evidence of a bad scrape with a redcap back in Pennsylvania, few hundred miles ago, the best souvenir Sam got out of the Pocono Mountains, despite its tourist-trap intents. It’s uncomfortable, this scab, the wound nearly oozing underneath the black-red cover and Sam’s fascinated by it. Heck, it’s the kind of scab that even Dean approves of, telling Sam that its disgusting factor was way up there and that’s an accomplishment.
It’s one thing, not picking on this kind of a scab, because lately Sam’s been feeling like there’s all sorts of things he wants to pick at, he’s lately been grossed out by the expression pick your brain because it makes him think of his scab and then Dean asks why he looks like he needs to blow chunks, as Dean puts it, always making it just a bit worse. Sam now knows every euphemism there is for vomiting, a new expression always winding up being discovered in some weird little corner of the country. Dean’s the explorer of that strange new language, the conquistador, proudly bringing back a new disgusting expression as though he’s bringing back ships laden heavy with gold.
“Still studying for your test on the explorers? C’mon man, you’re gonna ace it. Let’s go get some grub. Unless you feel like upchucking or tossing some cookies or turning the vacuum on reverse.”
That last one ends with Dean making a noise that mixes the grumble of a vacuum with the stomach-turning noise of the end result of a bout of nausea. Sam still has no idea where Dean found that saying but since he told Dean how stupid it was, Dean’s now totally obsessed with it, or something.
Sam hates Queens. He keeps on saying it but it doesn’t seem to do much. He hates that Dean’s insufferable because the car’s with Dad, which means the only way they can get anywhere is on foot or by subway and Dean always makes sure to point out the piss and other nasty bodily fluids accumulating in the concrete nooks and crannies.
They don’t have exact change, cash dwindling down (but they’ve lasted on worse) for the trains so it’s on foot in this shady and transparently creepy part of Queens. They’d almost gotten a nice two bedroom in Astoria but the landlord had been an old woman full of questions and logically Jamaica makes more sense, because Dad’s got several hunts picked out all over the nearby Tri-State area. Plus, it’ll be at least a couple of months, enough to make it to the Christmas school break and then it’ll be somewhere else, another school in god-knows-where.
Dad had said that he needed to make sure that travel wasn’t an issue for either of them while he’s out, which for some reason never really mattered before, but it’s important that they can get out if they have to. Well, it’s more important for Dean, who’s been campaigning to gain co-ownership of the Impala since he turned fifteen, wanting to be allowed to drive it not just when Dad’s nursing wounds or taking a nap. Now that he’s sixteen, he’s been quietly making further waves about lining up a definite vehicle of his own, even a junker that he’ll use when they’re living in places for long stretches of time, selling it for scrap once they’re ready to move on.
Dean gives up on looking for another place to stock up on groceries once they get to the scary bodega that Sam believes is one un-bribable health inspection visit away from being condemned; it’s certainly not the hygienic ferocity of the owners that’s keeping that place open.
Dean’s boots are worn, the toe part of the left one barely has one kick left in them before the leather finally pulls away and it’s clear that Dean’s tired of walking, walking, walking everywhere. Though he doesn’t say it in words, he ain’t about to bitch about that, as Dean always says to Sam when Sam ask him why he doesn’t complain about how unfair their lives are, never getting to just be normal.
No, instead Sam has to see Dean clomp through the glass-paneled door, pushing it open with half-hearted smack. The bottom panel is shattered and barely held together with duct tape, and Sam makes his way warily. Dean’s brief scowl when he looks down at his feet is all the indication of Dean’s irritation at the impending death of his favorite boots.
“C’mon Sammy, this place won’t bite. The cockroaches might,” Dean adds brightly, flashing a smile that’s perfect and straight.
Sam closes his mouth and turns down his chin so Dean doesn’t notice what he’s doing. Tests the crooked line of his teeth, the bigger teeth still feel weird and alien in his mouth, untested bones that don’t yet fit.
Sam already feels his stomach ache with the bad reaction he’s going to have to whatever they’re selling here. There’s tons of chips and candy and cookies and he’d love that but he’s craving real HOT food, has been since he’d finished the bland bowl of chicken noodle soup this morning, watered down way too much. And he doesn’t know if maybe Dean’s been hoarding food (he always manages to have candy on him whenever Sam asks Dean for something to eat when they’re on the road and there’s nothing to do but read and ignore all of Dean’s stupid mix tapes blasting out of the stereo) but Dean hadn’t had breakfast when Sam had eaten.
This place is probably crawling with bugs but Sam doesn’t look for them and they are kind enough not to start crawling on his sneakers once he and Dean stand in front of the hot food serving area. There’s only a couple of people ahead of them and Sam thinks he hears his stomach rumbling but for some reason he doesn’t feel it. It’s not him though, it’s Dean, Dean who always says something whenever he’s making gross noises but this time he’s quiet. When Sam looks over at Dean, he sees that Dean’s got his jaw clenching like he does whenever he’s in deep concentration, gaze firmly locked on the blackboard set up on the wall. The daily specials are scribbled down in cheap chalk, the words half-dusted off.
By now, the smell of mustiness has evaporated, now all Sam can smell is that steaming hot scent of cooked meat and rice and beans and all sorts of things, so now everything looks good even when served by someone who only bothers to wipe off their hands on a not-so-white towel after piling food in a large Styrofoam container, food greasy and perfect, the lid barely closing over the heaping amount.
Sam’s got a handful of dollar bills stuffed down his jeans pocket, Dean has more, and the credit card, they’ll probably use that, Dad had given to them with the assurance that it could last for a good long while so long as they were smart. Dean’s got a fake license too, one that stays he’s twenty-one, probably doesn’t need to flash an I.D. in order to buy alcohol in a place like this, but he hadn’t picked up anything but a couple of soda bottles, root beer and Coke.
“The two-fer,” Dean says, “Six of ‘em. What do you want, Sammy?”
Sam doesn’t know and already Dean’s getting his hackles raised, so used to Sam’s pickiness, before Sam can ask what exactly is jerked chicken and what’s in an empanada, Dean answers for him, “He’ll have the beef patties too. They’re not spicy right?”
“No spicy,” the guy agrees, wiping the sweat off his brown with his forearm. Sam thinks that if Dean had asked if it was spicy, that the answer would be, yes spicy.
The only other customer in the place, a stringy guy who has a racking cough, sickness or drugs, probably both, cough-laughs at that, saying, “Yeah, they make ‘em with Jamaican Gold, kid, they’re sweet as hell.”
Sam has no idea what Jamaican Gold is, probably some kind of alcohol and Dean’s look is just as bland, face composed to be friendly but distant and the stringy guy leaves, hacking his way to the exit. If there’s any kind of alcohol in it though, that’s okay, because Sam had looked this up when he’d first been confronted with beer cheese soup and so long as it’s cooked off for a while, it’s okay to have stuff with alcohol in it. Although it tastes weird.
The patties are heated up, wrapped up in brown paper napkins, two of them are handed to Dean as Sam as Dean offers up a credit card at the register. The rest of the patties have been stacked up in an aluminum dish container, the patties too hot for the Styrofoam.
Too impatient and needing to tear into it, Dean manages, holding all three plastic bags, filled with necessary ready-to-eat groceries, the soda, and the rest of the patties, to take a giant side-bite into his patty, beef filling tumbling out onto the sidewalk.
Sam’s too hungry to care, almost swallowing the napkin along with the beef patty, golden crust easily giving way, warm food making a happy, happy home in his mouth. Swallowing isn’t that difficult and walking and eating is easy work and Sam’s finished his off in less than four bites, habit of someone who’s had to fend off older brother sneak attacks on any food that wasn’t instantly devoured.
At first it’s fine, it’s great, just a tingling along his gums, barely perceivable really, then his tongue feels a little weird. The tingling gets fiercer and then it’s like the roof of his mouth has been set on fire, and oh my god, he needs water and ice and something to stop this, stop it now.
Dean’s having a love affair with the Jamaican beef patty and Sam’s dying. Perhaps he might be overstating his case, but let the evidence show that Dean’s a total jerk and that the too-dry and desiccated looking jerked chicken was probably a safer bet than the 2-for-1 deal on beef patties.
Flails at Dean, unable to speak, water building at the corner of his eyes and his nose right now feels weird. He wasn’t stuffed up before his mouth was set on fire, but now his nose, nostrils, feel suddenly cleared, which would be great if his mouth wasn’t about to fall off or worse. Dean’s got his eyes half-closed, slow precise bites, and he finally takes note of Sam when Sam stops Dean in his tracks, like he’d thought that Sam was just skipping alongside of him.
“What’s up, Sammy?”
“Water,” Sam manages, a gasping half-wheeze noise that probably isn’t a real word at all but Dean seems to catch it.
“Huh, you musta had a hot one, huh?” That damn smile again and ooh, Sam could just, well, he’ll figure something out. Maybe the milk trick again, Dean always falls for that one, a little chopped soap carefully mixed in with a glass of milk in the morning, handing it to Dean before he’s had his coffee and then the resulting “SAM” and chase around the small apartment.
But that’s for later, when Sam’s hopefully survived being killed by hot peppers. Dean screws off the root beer and lets Sam gulp it down, smirking as the soda stains the front of Sam’s jacket and flannel shirt.
“It’s not funny, Dean,” Sam says, working a furrowed brow and thrusting his face up, using his full height which isn’t near as close as Dean, who’s standing six feet these days.
“C’mon, little brother, it was kind of funny.”
Yeah, Dean’s totally getting soapy milk come tomorrow.
Sam’s got a craving for Thai food in Boston. He’s pretty sure it must be the cure for bitter February weather because everything else he’s tried hasn’t worked and he’s wound up spending most days wind-burned and chapped in places that shouldn’t be chapped, even with all the extra clothes they’ve stocked up on ever since Dad took the business of hunting in Boston. Something’s been waking up old colonial poltergeists and they’ve got to figure it out, hopefully just before winter break, so it’s not that awkward when it comes time to transfer to a new school.
Sam hopes for someplace warm, maybe in the middle of the country, anywhere away from the ocean, the whip of wind’s hardest here and Sam will not miss it when they’ve moved on, even though he’s never embraced this restless life, never being able to have a permanent home.
When Dean’s not on the hunt with Dad, he’s driving around in the Impala, probably using it as the prime resource of his pickup ability with the ladies as Dean likes to say with extra oozing emphasis, which leaves Sam with few options when it comes to traveling around the city. He has no need of exploring the Freedom Trail, the novelty of tourist locations has pretty much been burned out of him.
What he needs right now is food, Sam’s desperate for something that isn’t steak or a burger, and god, he can deal without fried chicken for a couple of months at the very least. Right then, there’s a memory of Dad looking at Dean over a laminated menu, long time ago, maybe five years, it all gets fuzzy when it comes to memories of when Sam was really young (unlike now, a near grownup at fifteen). Dad saying after Sam had complained about how there wasn’t anything he liked on the menu, You’d damn well better eat what they’re selling here, kiddo, nothing wrong with any of this..
Dean had demolished whatever he’d ordered, something probably too greasy or too bloody or slathered in too much gravy, and had probably been all disgusting about it too, he was a hell of a noisy eater. Meanwhile Sam had picked, starving, but his mind was more occupied on that Ideal Food that he wanted but didn’t have the words for. Something else, not diner food or bar food, something that he liked, nothing he’d ever had before but it wasn’t, like weird or anything. Dean would ask him what do you want? and ten minutes later Sam’s mind would change.
Some (Dean) might say that dealing with Sam’s pickiness was an exercise in defeat, for Sam, he’s just sure it’s that he got burnt out on crap food by the time he hit double-digits. Sure he’s never actually had Thai food, but um, he did research it and it sounds good and he’s really interested in seeing (and tasting) how they use coconut milk. He’s had actual coconut, but it’s always been really sweet and he’s had coconut milk, which he’s found bland and Dean delighted in telling him that it was the perfect diuretic after Sam had consumed far too much for his own good.
He’s happy to enter the restaurant, Montien, located in the Theater District, but it’s still a little too early for dinner so it isn’t packed. Before he’s seated, Dean enters, like he’s been tracking Sam or something, but that’s ridiculous.
Slapping Sam on the back, Dean says, “Hey genius, you let your cell phone battery die again?”
Oh crap. Sam checks his phone, bulky and battered, they need to get new phones soon, and says, “Sorry about that.”
“Well it’s not like it’s one of the rules that you’re supposed to check in when you’re gonna be out late or anything. Oh wait, it is and you’re lucky that Dad’s got his hands full.”
Like Dad cares what Sam’s doing so long as he comes home in one piece and isn’t playing for a sports team, because that’s too much for John Winchester to handle. Sam hadn’t even bothered to tell Dad about performing in that play; he’d only bothered to let Dean know.
Dean finally notices the waitress, shocker because usually Dean instantly notices any female within a five mile range. He flashes a quick polite smile as he says he’ll be joining, “My little jailbait brother here.”
“I’m not jailbait. I’m going to be sixteen in May, Dean.”
“Yeah,” Dean whatevers, flopping the menu open and saying, “Huh, this isn’t Chinese.”
The waitress has left to tend to another table but that doesn’t keep Sam from hissing, voice strained like if he whispers then everyone won’t notice that he and Dean don’t belong here. “It’s Thai. It’s supposed to be really good.”
“Supposed to,” Dean stage-whispers back, quirking an eyebrow in disgust. “They got steak here? I’ll have steak. Crispy chicken? I’ll have that too. What the hell’s curry?”
Sam’s vaguely aware of what it is, he knows that it’s spicy hot and then, inspiration strikes, a little flicker of a cry of revenge that has spanned so many years and Sam lies, as convincingly as possible on the wonders of curry. He says how he’s going to get it, but it might be too hot too handle for Dean.
The gauntlet’s thrown down and Dean knows it. It’s totally obvious, but it doesn’t matter because Dean’s weakness when it comes to food is the challenge that there’s something out there that he can’t eat.
They start ordering, soups and appetizers and entrees, thoughtfully adding dessert at the waitress’s suggestion. After all, they are growing boys, especially Sam, who’s noticed that looking at Dean has noticeably changed. Sometimes Sam’s sure that he’s going to be able to look down at Dean if his growth spurt is going to continue like this and he can’t wait for the day when the truth smacks Dean in the face. Poor short Dean.
He’d laugh but he’ll save all his diabolical laughter for later. It comes in handy in when Dean swallows a whole Thai chile out of his Tom Yum Goong.
When Sam’s done laughing, he finishes off his Tom Kha Kai, chicken and coconut milk soup, it’s really, really damn good.
Maybe Sam should’ve said something about the fact that he’d specifically asked to see the traditional Thai menu, the one didn’t hold back on the heat.
A cold beer, brought to the table after a quick look at Dean’s fake I.D., beer being Dean’s sworn remedy, does nothing to relieve the burning apparently. Dean then orders and receives, milk, gulping it down. As a last resort, he gets his coconut ice cream brought to the table early, but his face is still flushed and red, blotchy now, patterns forming over his neck, chest.
Later, when they’re walking out of the restaurant, back out into the bitter cold, Dean still pinked at the tips of his ears and nose from the pepper, eyes almost glassy, slaps Sam on the back. “You’re a bastard.”
“Thanks,” Sam says, knowing a compliment when he hears it.
Insanity Peppers of Quezaltenango
Years later down the road, new losses and mysteries in their lives, nightmares that are real and even though they’ve called a truce on the Prank War of 2006 that doesn’t mean that they can’t have a little more fun before they officially leave the state of Texas behind.
They’re cooling their heels in a little rundown restaurant that Sam had first figured was Tex-Mex, nothing else is really worthwhile cuisine when you’re in Texas, other than barbeque, in Dean’s steadfast opinion, which he loudly proclaimed when they’d come across the place.
However it turns out that there’s real Mexican food here, not just tacos and the Americanized quasi-Mexican fare, a fact that Sam’s happy to note, years in California have diversified his eating habits to be a lot more accepting of food he’d never thought twice about before. Hell, he’s eaten kimchee, pickled cabbage, and kind of enjoyed it, although he’d realized soon enough that cabbage really didn’t agree with him at all.
“Mole? They serve moles here, like critters?” Dean scratches the corner of his nose then picks up his Corona, lime wedge stuck firmly in the neck of the bottle, tipping it back and forth before taking a sip, beer barely slipping past the lime. “’Cause that’s always what I’m hankering for. That and some nice charred possum just hits the spot.”
Sam looks over his menu at Dean, not even bothering to hide his irritation. “It’s mo-lay, Dean. Like guacamole, it’s just a sauce. Um, it’s hot and has chocolate in it.”
“Huh. Well, holy-moley. Chocolate and pepper? They got anything else weird in it and I’ll have to try it.”
“We can ask if they can put some Fritos on top,” Sam snorts, remembering Dean’s half-hearted attempt at making a nacho dish sans tortilla chips.
“Nah, too salty,” Dean dismisses. “What the hell’s this one about?”
“What?” Sam asks, because despite what may be going on with him, he’s not actually a mind-reader and he doesn’t have X-Ray vision so he has no idea what Dean’s staring at.
“Crazy chicken?” Sam scans his menu, seeing several flames illustrated alongside the dish’s name. There’s a brief description, in Spanish of course, describing something called...
“With the Insanity Peppers of Quezaltenango,” Dean says. “What the hell is that?”
“Oh, it’s spicy,” the waiter warns, older grey-haired man who might be the owner for all they know, it’s a small restaurant after all and the only other person they saw working here was a short, plump woman of around the same age as the waiter. He has no name tag and never introduced himself, disappearing as soon as Sam and Dean had picked out a seat. “Spicier than habanero chiles. We get people in from all over who try to eat pollo loco but no one has managed to finish it.”
“Five alarm chili at its best, huh?”
The waiter smiles at Dean, “Something like that. You two adventurous?”
They hunt ghosts and everything that goes bump in the night for a living. A career that pays nothing. They’re hunting after a demon that’s started them down this road over twenty-two years ago, back in Sam’s nursery, continued on with nothing more than their wits and a desire to kill the son of a bitch. They’ve committed enough crimes and done enough questionable things that could make any normal person shudder. And not to mention all the pranks, started way back when, since forever, because that’s what brothers do.
Do they want to try and indulge in some insanity peppers, which probably have capsaicin levels that are off the charts, tongue-meltingly hot?
It’s an easy answer, so easy that they say it at the same freakin’ time: “No thanks.”
There’s some crazy that you embrace and some that you avoid and for once, they’re going to do the sane, responsible thing. Huh, maybe they are growing up after all.
Of course this revelation of maturity dies when Sam shoots a wad of paper at Dean when Dean tries to tell him this lame story that involves a case of mistaken identity and a stranger’s penchant for dressing in one of those weird hot dog costumes.
Dean just yanks the straw out of Sam’s hand and says, “Watch it, or I’ll make sure your holy-moley sauce is simmering with insane peppers.”
“The stuff people come up with, huh? One day I swear, a place is gonna serve frickin’ molten lava and there’s gonna be someone dumb enough to put that in their mouth.”
“Yeah, like you should talk, Dean. Sometimes I wonder if you have a real human stomach or if you’ve got some kind of iron safe stowed in there.”
Dean knocks his fist against his belly and shrugs. “All I got there are some awesome rock hard abs.”
Rolling his eyes, Sam half-laughs at Dean’s shameless narcissism, saying, “Yeah, okay. You have some flan for dessert and we’ll see how long that lasts.”