Disclaimer: As per usual, I own nothing Supernatural.
Author's Note: Yet another angst-filled one-shot...there's just so much fodder for it these days. This would be, simply put, Dean's thoughts as he pummels the Impala in Everybody Loves a Clown.
Let me know what you think!
Sometimes it seemed like everything he touched, everything he loved, was cursed. How else could you explain it? Given enough time everyone and everything he'd ever lend his heart to would chew it up and spit it back out in his face.
Like the car. That damn, stupid, fucking car.
His mother had ridden in that car. Though he was probably too young to truly remember the weekend outings they'd take, he, alone in the back, listening to his mother croon along with the oldies station, seeing the slight shake of his father's head, embarrassed, delighted, as she'd shamelessly slaughter Jailhouse Rock. This Diamond Ring. Peggy Sue. Songs he'd never heard before, aimed to never hear again.
And her laughter, tinny and flitting, bouncing of the interior glass of the windows just as the sun reflected off the outside. Dad, deep, hearty chuckles that rumbled through the air, through Dean's tiny body, attacking him like the tickles until his own giggles fell in place amidst theirs.
Later, Sammy would join them, buckled beside his big brother, snuggled safely into the pumpkin seat, staring, watching, cooing, as life flew by outside the windows. As life lingered inside that car.
But surely he didn't remember that. Not really. Not clearly.
Other things he could remember, clear as day.
Sitting up in front with Dad, riding shotgun, Sam sulking in the back. He'd learned to read maps better than the crappy books they'd sent home with him from school. He'd managed to decipher his father's handwritten directions, recognizing those oddly formed tight loops and scrawls easier than the print of his texts.
His first and most important vocabulary words came to him quickly, shooting out from a forest of others so similar he was hard pressed to tell the difference. Elm Street. Laclede Station. Rose Thorn Avenue. His child's mind worked too fast to meld mere recognition with actual understanding, letters and syllables flying by before he'd had time enough to form them into words.
But he would learn. He had no choice. He was the co-pilot. Second in command. And as always, he took his job very seriously.
There were nights they'd have to sleep in that car, no motel in sight, no cash quickly at hand.
Dad would pull over – somewhere far enough off the road that no one could see – and pull out his .45, set it in his lap, one fingertip resting on the safety. And Dean would crawl in back with Sammy, curl protectively around him on the all-too familiar bench seat. He'd be his pillow, his blanket, his teddy bear – just like Simon, the ragged toy from John's youth that had been passed down to Dean, stuffing spilling from seams, one-eyed, beloved.
Simon burned that night too, and in the beginning Dean had cried harder for him than his mother. Because somehow he knew that the bear was gone. But mothers always come back.
Even in the summer months, when it was hot and sticky, and their little boy bodies were musty with sweat and peeled noisily away from the leather interior whenever they moved. Even then, on nights out in the middle of nowhere, nothing but the occasional sound of a car rushing by or cicadas emitting their rhythmic shrieks, Dean curled Sam's body up into his, held him tight, and fought off sleep for as long as he could, eyes and ears perked in the dark.
It took a lot out of her to keep them that safe, that secure. Always moving, never resting.
There were countless times Dean would help his father with tune ups and odd jobs, at first being made simply to hold the flashlight, illuminate whichever part of the Impala's engine Dad pointed to. Later he'd have the privilege of digging through the toolbox, searching, finding, and handing over – a triumphant look on his freckled face – the exact piece of equipment asked for. And John would nod his thanks and approval before ducking back into the underbelly of the car.
Those were the times when he'd learned the most. Not at school or on the road, or in any library across the country.
In high school he'd take shop class and pass with flying colors, because he already knew all that stuff. Simple shit. Because it all stuck in his head like spaghetti to a wall. When Dad talked, he listened. And the only times Dad talked – about anything other than a hunt or logistical issues with school lunches and babysitting duties – were when he was bent under the hood of that car.
Dean could change your oil easy as pie. But the whole time he'd be doing it the only thoughts that would run through his mind would be ones about his parents' first date. The only images that would flicker across his vision would be of his father's sad, far-off gaze and his crooked, quirky smile as he told the story.
He could piece together a fucked-up manifold if you wanted him too. But he wouldn't be able to carry on a conversation at the time. He'd be too busy reminiscing about the day he was born. A day he could see only, like so many other memories, through his father's eyes.
When John handed over the keys to that car, Dean thought he might cry. John nearly did. But no matter how wrong it somehow seemed – it was Dad's car after all – it simply felt right. And he wasn't warned or threatened as he'd half-expected to be – don't ride her too hard, watch what you're doing, her undercarriage's fragile, keep her safe, clean and happy. Because by that point he'd heard it all before.
And when Dad talked, Dean listened.
A year later he met a girl in Wyoming, took her into the backseat where the leather cooled her hot naked flesh. She was the only one who'd ever been bare-assed in his car before. There'd never be another. Because sex in cars is dangerous. If he hadn't have figured that out when he almost gave himself a concussion, head connecting with the roof when rearing up inside her, or jamming his fingers into the floor when his hand, slick with sweat and perched too precariously on the edge of the seat, slipped fast and hard on the leather; he certainly would have a few weeks later, when he sat on the edge of a tub at her place staring pointedly at a little white stick, waiting to see if it'd turn blue.
So much time spent in that car, his car. The Impala.
His brother would joke with him, make fun of him for loving her a bit too much. But they had a past, a history that sidled right up alongside that of his family.
She knew his mother's laugh, his father's touch. She cradled Sam in safety, helped share the load of barricading him from all the big bad things outside of her solid frame. She'd harbored conception. She'd kept him company, the rumble of the engine, screech of tires, pitifully perfect speakers that played all his favorites.
She was there when no one else was.
He'd thought he lost her. Just like Simon, all those years ago. And it broke his heart. But that's what happens when you put so much love and faith into something incapable of reciprocating.
They go away. And never come back.
But here she was, beat to hell, bits and pieces shelled together with parts of other cars. And they fit, they worked. No matter how foreign, how simply not her. Because in the end, they were all just cars. She was just a car.
Things were supposed to go away, disappear. Never come back. Things like Simon. Or home. Or an old Chevy. And people were supposed to stay.
But mothers don't always come back, and apparently, neither do fathers.
So he looked down at the poor broken hunk of metal in front of him. Broken. Like his family. Broken. Like his heart. And he raised up the crowbar he'd been white knuckling, high and strong. And he brought it down, swift and hard, pummeling the shell of a car that wasn't even all her.
But it was enough. Enough to remind him that she had failed. Enough to sit before him, mockingly in her ability to survive a thing that no one else could. Not his father. Not even him. It was enough to remind him of the way things used to be, in a time he couldn't even remember. A time when he had a mother. And a father. And a future.
And now he had none of that.
Stupid, fucking car.