Title: Good 'Ol Boys
Author's Notes: I love this story. I had so much fun with it- once I had the idea, the story wrote itself. I'm flying solo, so any mistakes are mine. Can I get a yee-haw?
"A haunted car."
Sam nodded. "Yeah. A haunted car."
Dean stared at him, his eyebrows pinched together over the top of his dark sunglasses. "I don't believe it."
"What?" Sam countered. "It's possible. A soul can attach itself to anything- why not a car?"
"Because it's just so…"
Dean paused, his mouth open, and Sam just waited.
"It's just so cheesy."
Knowing how close Dean was to the Impala, Sam couldn't understand. "What do you mean, cheesy? Cars are possessions, just like pendants or houses or mirrors or paintings. What's cheesy about it?"
Dean turned off the highway and onto a seemingly endless gravel driveway. A warm breeze blew through the open windows of the car and Sam raked a hand through his hair as Dean replied, "I don't know, it just is," he said, propping an elbow on the doorframe. "If I'm gonna haunt something, it's gonna be cool… like a riding lawn mower or something."
"You're just upset that you didn't think of it first," Sam said. "And anyway, we don't have a riding lawn mower."
Dean cast him a sideways glance and Sam looked straight ahead. "Slow down, there's the house."
Up ahead, a single trailer sat amongst a plethora of plastic playground equipment. The trailer itself sat on gray cinderblocks and bowed slightly in the middle. It was the only house around for as far as Sam could see. Nothing around but open field and blue sky. A group of small children- all under the age of ten and all with blonde hair- scurried about in a rampant game of tag. At one end of the trailer, two early-model cars sat side by side, basking in the sun.
Dean slowed the Impala to a stop next to a young pine tree and cut the engine. "Great," he grumbled. "A herd of rug-rats- just what I wanted."
Sam smiled. "But you're so good with kids, remember?" he goaded, enjoying Dean's sour look. "Maybe they'll let you play tag with them."
"How bout I play tag with you and leave your sorry ass here, huh?" Dean snapped. Sam held up his hands, laughing silently, and Dean grabbed the door handle. "Come on. Let's meet 'Christine'."
They exited the car and immediately the children stopped playing. They stood still, clustered together- six in all- and watched with large blue eyes as Sam and Dean made their way to the front door. Next to Sam, a small plastic shark floated against the side of a blue wading pool.
Sam waved at the children. "Hi," he smiled as Dean knocked on the door.
The children stared at him.
Sam took a deep breath and faced the door. "Friendly bunch," he murmured.
"You're scaring them," Dean shot back.
"I am not! I just-"
The door opened and a very tired looking blonde woman appeared behind the screen door, an infant balanced on her hips and a small white cloth over her shoulder. She eyed them warily. "Can I help you?"
"Yes, we're reporters with the National Enquirer- you wrote in about a haunted car?" Dean smiled brightly, flashing a laminated ID card. "We'd like to do a story about it for our next issue."
Sam watched her response. He was used to Dean's aliases- nothing surprised him anymore.
The woman looked between the two of them, her eyes narrowing. The baby started whimpering and she started bouncing it, seemingly without thought. "Are you serious? Is this some prank or something? Did Sheryl put you up to this?" She searched the area behind them.
"No," Sam said, stepping forwards. "We're really reporters. We'd just like to talk to you, if you have a minute." The lies didn't bother him. He always redeemed himself in the end.
"Cute kid," Dean threw in, nodding at the baby. His smile was blinding.
"That your car?" she asked, nodding to the Impala.
"Yes ma'm," Dean grinned.
The woman thought about it a moment longer, then, as if knowing the brothers had an appreciation for muscle cars played some important role in whether or not she trusted them, she shifted her grip on the baby and pushed open the screen door. "Okay, sure. Why not. You guys seem harmless enough." Sam glanced to Dean as Sarah came outside and held out her hand. "Well let me introduce myself- I'm Sarah Polk. This is my home, those are my kids."
Dean shook her hand first. "All of them?"
Sam elbowed him. "Mrs. Polk, can you tell us about the car? When did it start… 'acting up'?"
"Just call me Sarah," she replied, shaking Sam's hand. "I stopped being 'Mrs.' Polk six months ago, when my husband died. That's when the car started 'acting up'."
"Now when you say, 'acting up'," Dean started skeptically, "Acting up like how? Stalling out? Pulling to one side?"
Sarah shook her head, shifting the baby. "Like, the car drives itself."
Sam felt his eyes widen. "Which car is it?"
"Come on, I'll show you."
The brothers parted as Sarah made her way down the steps. She was barefoot and wore cutoff jean shorts. Her t-shirt was fraying at the seams and her hair was slightly unkempt. Sam wondered how she was managing. How could a single person support seven children and a home? As they moved to the cars, the group of children followed, whispering amongst themselves.
"This is the one," Sarah said, stopping before an old, dark blue Mustang. The car looked innocent enough as Sarah rested her hand on the hood. "This was my husband's car. He loved this thing. Would brag about it all the time and race the teenagers in town. He spent a lot of his time and money keeping this thing up." Her voice began to quiver and she turned away. "It was really special to him."
Dean circled the car, running a hand appreciatively down its flank. "Now when you say it can drive itself- you mean…"
The group of children slowly began to dissipate, each going in an opposite direction. A small boy with dirty knees- no older than six- pulled open the driver's side door and pushed himself into the tan leather seat. He made engine noises and played with the steering wheel as Sarah spoke.
"I mean it turns itself on sometimes, mostly at night. I'll wake up to the engine revving. When I get outside, everything's quiet. The keys are still in my desk drawer, in my bedroom. It's scary," she added, bouncing the baby. "I tried to drive it once- and only once. I was almost into town when the thing just started going where it wanted to go. It wouldn't respond to the steering wheel. The brakes didn't work. Winston was in the car with me when that happened, weren't you Winston?"
The boy in the driver's seat paused his playing long enough to nod. "Yup. It was fun!"
Sarah shook her head. "Winston always loved going for car rides with his father. All the children miss him dearly."
Sam tried to think it through. Was the husband trying to tell her something? "When the car was driving itself- where did you end up?" he asked, making messy scribbles on the small reporter's pad.
"We just drove around for a little while, then ended up right back here," she shrugged. "The car turned itself off and I haven't driven it since."
It was possible that the husband's spirit had been protecting Sarah that day. "Did anything happen in town? Like an accident or road work or anything?"
Sarah thought about it, tilting her head to the side. "No… not that I can think of-"
Suddenly the Mustang rumbled to life. Dean jumped up from where he had been checking underneath the front end. Sarah clutched the baby and stumbled back a few steps. "Oh no- it's happening again! You see! The keys are still inside! Bobby's haunting it!"
Sam stared at the car as it idled. Opaque smoke poured from the exhaust for a few seconds, then the engine stuttered and ran clean. The deep rumbling rivaled that of the Impala and Sam looked at Dean.
"There's no keys in the ignition," Dean stated. He looked completely dumbfounded.
"Winston, come on honey. Get out of the car." Sarah motioned beside her, but the little boy shook his head, grinning over the top of the steering wheel.
"Winston," Sam tried, taking a step forward. He had no idea what was going on here. "Come on, listen to your mommy."
"Winston," Sarah warned, her voice hardening. "One…"
The car revved.
Winston squealed with happiness but Sarah looked worried.
"Come on, Winston," Sam tried again.
When the boy continued jerking on the steering wheel, Sarah continued, "Two…"
The car revved again and this time, it lurched forward an inch, kicking up a spray of gravel that pelted the septic tank behind it. The open door swung shut, closing with an ominous finality.
Dean grabbed the toy shark from the pool and held it up by the tail, dangling it towards Winston. "Come on boy, look what I got!" he baited, making the toy bounce. "You wanna play with the shark?"
Sam would explain the differences between a child and a puppy later. "Winston, look- I'll give you a dollar if you get out now, okay?"
Then, without warning, the Mustang peeled out, sending up an impressive cloud of dust and gravel that forced everyone away from the car. As Sam covered his nose and mouth with his t-shirt, he squinted at the car as it sped away from them, coming dangerously close to clipping the Impala's nose. Sarah screamed for her child.
"Dean, come on!" Sam yelled. He ran towards the Impala and reached it the same time Dean did. Sam yanked open the passenger and threw himself in. Within seconds, Dean was pushing the car through the cloud of dust left by the Mustang.
"What's your plan?" Dean asked, keeping a close eye on the car in front of them. They were racing down the gravel road at nearly fifty miles an hour and rocks pinged off the Impala's hood and windshield. "Tell me you've got a plan."
Sam wore his poker face in an attempt to conceal the fact that no, he did not have a plan. At the moment, anyway. "Just get closer. We have to try to stop it."
"I am not sacrificing this car," Dean warned. They inched closer to the Mustang's rear bumper.
Sam didn't expect him to. It was more than Dean just loving the Impala- the car was their primary mode of transportation. If something happened to it, they couldn't afford anything else. And they wouldn't be very effective hunters if they had to walk to all their gigs.
"I got an idea," Sam announced, sliding against the passenger door. "How steady can you hold her?"
"Dude, you're talking to the king of high-speed getaways."
Sam rolled his eyes. "That's not an answer."
Dean nodded. "Yeah, I can hold her steady. Why?"
Sam grabbed the top of the doorframe, his fingers curling onto the car's hot roof. This would work. It had to.
"Pull up along side it," he said.
Dean did a double-take, unable to keep his eyes on the road or his brother for more than a few seconds. "You better not be thinking what I think you're thinking," he growled.
"Just get along side it and keep it steady," Sam insisted. His heart was pounding as the wind blew in his face- if he didn't do this soon, while his adrenaline flooded the rational part of his brain, he would never do it.
"No, Sam! I'm not letting you jump onto that car! What the fuck do you think this is, some stupid action movie? You could kill yourself!"
"Dean," Sam growled, "There's a kid in that car. We don't know if Bobby's spirit is benevolent or not- I'm not going to sit back and take that chance. The kid could die!"
Dean's hands tightened around the steering wheel. They were reaching seventy miles per hour now. The two-lane highway was just ahead. There were no other options, and the both knew it.
"Fine!" Dean shouted, slapping the car. "Fine, do it, get yourself killed. See if I care. Just be careful, okay?"
Sam nodded, tensing as the Impala pulled up next to the Mustang. Winston was hanging on to the steering wheel for dear life, his mouth open and his eyes wide. He looked over and Sam quickly motioned for him to lower the window. Winston obeyed and slowly, the driver's window rolled down.
"Winston! Hang tight, okay? I'm coming over and everything will be just fine. You all right?"
Winston nodded, his face pale under a mop of blond hair.
Sam pushed himself up, his feet using the seat for leverage until he was sitting on the doorframe. Wind whipped violently around him, threatening to rip his clothes from his body. It was deafening, even over the straining engines. His hair was plastered to his forehead and he raked a hand over it, fighting to control his arm in the high speeds. It felt like he could blow away any moment.
He gripped the roof even tighter and swallowed.
The Impala drifted closer to the Mustang so that the cars were about three feet apart. It was too far. "Closer!" Sam yelled, unsure if Dean could even hear him.
Suddenly the Mustang lurched ahead and it took Sam a moment to realize Dean had let off the gas. Confused, he was about to yell again, but then he looked ahead of them.
They bounced over the two-lane highway with enough force to lift Sam. He slammed back down, his tailbone bouncing painfully on the narrow doorframe. He stifled a yelp- that was sure to hurt tomorrow- and scrambled to find a better hold.
They were in the field now, plowing through the tall grass with a soft swishing sound that contrasted the throaty roar of the engines. The ride was bumpy and it jarred his already throbbing tailbone. Sam tried to readjust himself as the Impala pulled up alongside the Mustang once more.
Slowly, the Impala drifted closer and closer. Sam tensed, leaning out and testing his reach. He need to be closer.
The Impala continued inching closer as they raced through the open field. White lacy flowers bounced up over the hood as they were severed from their stems. Sam sucked in a deep breath and braced himself. Finally, he was within jumping distance.
There was no time to think about the heroics- or stupidity- of the situation. Sam's only concern was for the innocent child trapped inside the demonic car. He grasped the top of the doorframe, pulling his legs up so that his feet were on the window ledge, and he pushed off.
Sam belly flopped on to the Mustang's roof with enough force to knock the air from his lungs. He felt the metal give underneath him. His arms and legs were splayed out, each hand and foot hooked around the edge of the roof. He simply lay there a second, trying to forget the sensation of flying through the air at seventy-plus miles an hour.
It was something he hoped he'd never have to do again.
Then, slowly, he pulled himself towards the open driver's side window. The hard part was over. Now all he had to do was hold on and figure out a way to get the car stopped.
His hair was in his eyes again and Sam spared a second to brush it away. The wind whistled over him, billowing his shirt up like a balloon. The resistance made his movements harder, slower.
He carefully slid his left leg over the side of the car, sticking it in through the window. Winston must have moved to the passenger side. Holding on for his life, Sam shifted his hips and stuck his right leg inside the car. Then finally, he wriggled his way down, sliding over the side of the Mustang and landing in the driver's seat with a hard plop.
He let out a sigh of relief. His skin tingled where the wind had been pounding it. His heart was racing and he looked to Winston. "You okay?"
Winston nodded. "Can you make it stop?"
"I'm going to try," Sam replied. He looked over at Dean, who was still holding the Impala steady next to the haunted car. Concern was written all over his face and Sam waved, showing he was unharmed.
Dean shook his head in frustration.
"All right," Sam began, mostly to himself. "How do you stop a car that's driving by itself?" He glanced at the ignition- as expected, there were no keys. The needle of the speedometer was resting on eighty miles an hour. Sam searched the rest of the control panels, trying to find something out of place.
The Impala's horn sounded and Sam looked up. They were approaching a tree line. Young deciduous trees bordered the field and beyond them lay a fairly dense forest. Sam swallowed thickly- they would die if the car went into the forest. He had to get the car stopped.
"Winston, put on your seatbelt," Sam ordered, taking his own advice.
The child obeyed wordlessly.
He looked over at Dean, who had taken his sunglasses off and was wearing a seldom seen expression of open worry. Sam offered a small smile, then redirected his attention to the Mustang.
Using the emergency brake could be catastrophic at this speed. Sam looked at the gear shift. The car was in 'drive'. Taking it down to neutral would slow the car enough to allow them to jump out. Winston was small enough that Sam could jump with the boy, if it came to that.
With his hand gripping the gear shift, Sam cast one more look to Dean. A moment of trust, hope, and fear passed between them and it settled Sam's twisting gut. He took a deep breath, a bit more ready now, and pulled on the knob.
It worked. The car dove to the ground as it lost steam and the Impala whipped past them. Everything was silent as the car coasted through the tall grass. The speedometer needle sank slowly. The whispering of grass against the grill filled the air.
"I think we made it," Sam said. "I can't believe it was-"
The Impala's horn pierced the air half a second before a large, fallen tree appeared just in front of the Mustang. Sam jerked the steering wheel sharply to the left, a curse on his breath. The car lurched into a turn and the passenger side tire rode up the tree, traveling at 65 miles per hour.
Sam was airborne for a second time that day. The car tipped onto its side and continued spinning, gliding through the air until it hit the ground hard, upside down. Sam's head cracked against the roof- and ultimately, the ground- as all the windows shattered. Stars exploded in his vision. Glass sparkled as it flew through the air, slicing his skin. Grass and dirt sprayed him in the face as the car continued sliding on its roof through the field. It spun around, completing a 360 degree turn before at last coming to a stop.
Sam blinked, looking around. Something was hissing. He was disoriented- the world still spun around him despite the car having come to a rest. He hung against the seatbelt, his head on the roof and his left shoulder supporting all his weight. His blood rushed to his head, making his eyes bulge and his veins pop out. He drew in a breath, wincing as a sharp pain cut through his side. He was still gripping the steering wheel.
The Impala slid to a halt somewhere outside. Sam ignored the sound of a door opening, the sound of running footsteps, the sound of his brother screaming his name. He looked beside him, his gaze settling on Winston.
The boy hung limply in the seatbelt, his small head inches from the car's roof. Sam could not see any substantial bleeding, just a few cuts from the broken window. More importantly, Winston was alive. And staring at him.
"Do it again!" he giggled, a large smile on his small round face.
Sam let his eyes close in exasperation.
"Sam!" Dean thudded to his knees outside Sam's window. "Sam! Are you okay? Jesus- hold on, I'm gonna get you out…"
"Dean," he groaned. He hurt all over. "We're okay…"
"Fuck!" Dean screamed from outside. "I can't- hello? I need an ambulance- hello!" Something small hit the ground a few feet away. "God damn backwoods reception! Okay, Sammy, just hold on. I'll get you out."
Despite it all, Sam chuckled. Pain rippled through his head and his vision dimmed, but the hilarity of the situation had finally caught up to him. Beside him, Winston giggled too- and soon, Sam was laughing uncontrollably.
"Sam?" Dean was on the ground again. "Okay- laughing is not good. Just hold on little brother. Here, I'm going to reach over and undo the seatbelt, okay? Can you catch yourself?"
Sam fought for breath, trying to sober. "Yeah," he replied, letting his arms dangle. He planted his hands on the roof as Dean slid through the narrowed window on his back. Suddenly aware that he stunk, Sam tried to shift away. Dean was just inches away, fiddling with the catch on the right side of his waist.
"Quit moving," Dean growled softly. "I almost got it."
Sam remained silent. It suddenly wasn't funny anymore. He had almost died- more importantly, almost killed the young boy next to him. They had been very lucky today. Some of that luck was probably due to Bobby's spirit; after all, they weren't dead. If they hadn't been wearing the seatbelts of it Sam had hit the fallen tree at the wrong angle- they would be nothing more than bleeding piles of crushed bones right now. Sam would never forgive himself if a life was lost because of him.
He still hadn't forgiven himself over Jessica.
"Okay- ready?" Dean asked, awkwardly holding Sam's hips.
Dean grunted and suddenly Sam fell. He collapsed in a heap on the glass and wheat. He whimpered, unable to hide the pain that ignited in his ribs. Instantly, Dean was pulling them outside.
The sunlight was way to bright and Sam couldn't keep his eyes open. "Go get Winston," he ordered, pushing Dean away.
"You'll be okay?"
As Dean left him for the child, Sam pushed himself up, leaning against the Impala's rear tire. His head spun as his equilibrium balanced out. He probably had a concussion- nothing new there. His side ached but nothing felt broken. He'd probably sport some impressive bruises for a couple weeks though. Sam was more worried about Winston, and if he had suffered any injuries Sam hadn't seen.
When Dean returned, Sam woke from a sleep he didn't remember giving in to. Winston was still smiling as he was placed next to Sam. "Hey kid," Sam sighed. Dean knelt on the ground beside him, reaching out to asses the damage. Sam tried to ignore it. "How you feeling?"
"That was awesome!" Winston beamed. His small hands were curled into fists. "Even better than Gameboy!"
Sam eyed the shallow cuts on the boy's head. They had already stopped bleeding. "Nothing hurts?"
"No. Can we do it again now?"
The rumble of a car sounded from behind them and Sam turned, craning his neck around the Impala's rear bumper. It was Sarah, and behind her was an ambulance. Sam let out a breath of relief.
"Just in time," Dean said, picking a piece of glass from Sam's hair. "We need to get outta here- this car is gonna go up in flames any minute now, if ya catch my drift."
Sam recognized the gleam of intent in Dean's eyes. He hadn't smelt gas; they were in no danger of the car exploding by itself. As soon as it was safe, Dean would purposely burn the car, sending Bobby's spirit into the afterlife where it belonged. It was a shame, really. They hadn't even figured out why the spirit was in the car to begin with.
"Winston!" Sarah exclaimed. She ran to the boy and picked him up, hugging him tightly. "Oh, thank God you're okay. Never do that to Mommy again, okay sweetheart? You scared me half to death."
The boy squirmed in her grip as Sam was rushed by paramedics. "I'm okay," he said, trying to brush them off.
"Sam," Dean warned. "Just let them check you out. Your head's not as hard as you seem to think it is." He flicked a shard of glass to the ground with a flourish, exaggerating his point.
Sam resented the comment. He wasn't a kid anymore. He knew when he was seriously hurt, and this was not one of those times. All he needed was a handful of aspirin and a horizontal surface.
Pain exploded on the side of his head when one of the paramedics pressed on the wound and Sam flinched away, gasping.
Okay, so maybe a stitch or two wouldn't hurt.
"Sorry, sir- we need to see how deep the cut is. Can you walk?"
Sam rolled his eyes. "Of course I can walk," he muttered, although he accepted their help getting to his feet. His vision darkened again and he waited, leaning against the Impala as his eyes cleared. "Okay."
As he was led to the ambulance, the other medic was tending to Winston, who was not cooperating. The child thrashed against his mother's hold, trying desperately to evade the well-meaning medic. Sam caught Dean's smirk and frowned. That was not how he acted.
He sat on the back of the ambulance and allowed the thirty-something year-old paramedic to check his pupils. Dean joined them, watching the man's tests and interpreting his own results. Judging Dean's level of scrutiny, Sam was not surprised when a trip to the hospital was suggested.
"I'll be fine," he said, turning a pleading gaze towards Dean. "I know how to take care of a concussion."
That raised the medic's suspicion. "You've sustained blows to the head before?"
"Oh yeah," Dean replied sarcastically. "Luke Duke here always acts before he thinks. You know, I think you should go, Sam. Let them check you out. Maybe they'll find a reason for your irrational behavior."
"The risk of complication increases with each concussion," the medic stated. "I think we should take you in, at least for observation."
"We're going. I'll come back for the car later."
"Just do it, Sam. For once, just listen to me, okay?"
"I do listen to you!" Sam snapped. "I just-"
"Um, is this a bad time?"
Sarah stood before them, holding Winston's hand. The boy's head was dotted with small bandages. "I just wanted to thank you guys for what you did. I really think you went above and beyond the duty of tabloid reporters. I'm very grateful."
"No problem," Sam replied, and Dean glared at him. "Winston's okay?"
"I don't wanna go to the hospital!" the boy shouted. His face was red and his eyes were brimming with tears.
"That makes two of us, buddy," Sam muttered.
"Will you go with me?" the boy asked. His eyes were large and hopeful.
Suddenly everyone was staring at him. Sam took a deep breath. "Yeah, sure. I'll go with you."
Later, as they were secured inside the ambulance, Sam caught Dean's glare as his brother prepared to follow in the Impala.
"Next time," Dean growled, picking a clump of sod from a corner of the front bumper, "I'm picking the gig."
Sam rolled his eyes, then settled in as Winston began recounting his adventure.