Title: Salvage

Author: kamelion

Rating: T for language

Spoilers: mentions of John, therefore the eps he was in. IMToD and ELaC

Summary: Dean's coping. Sort of.

Note: Written for the supersummer SPN community at lj for the episode "Everybody Loves a Clown". I was struck by the massive symbolism of the scene in Bobby's salvage yard, when Dean tears into the Impala. This is the result. R/R appreciated! Thanks to Jeanne for the beta! YOU ROCK.

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Maybe you did hurt the thing you love the most.

The Impala was an innocent bystander. It was just as well that she was temporarily out of commission, because he was certain the act of putting his dad's body in the back would have finished him. The Impala wasn't a freakin' hearse. No way would he lay that responsibility on her.

Then why did he just beat the crap out of her?

The tire iron clattered to the ground as his hazy red vision faded. Sam had gone, his part of their admittedly one-sided conversation over, but for several heartbeats Dean was afraid that he would return, that he would round that corner and see what Dean had done, present himself as a first hand witness to Dean's lack of self-control. He had to have heard the noise. Hell, half the town probably heard it.

But no one came around that corner. Not Sam, not Bobby. And the Impala just sat there, grand and abused and silent.

Dean swallowed hard and turned to the car, bracing himself with one hand against the dented trunk as he hung his head. He sniffed once, and once only, then pushed away and leveled a gaze at the damage. After a moment his stern eyes rose and surveyed the wrecks that were stacked around the salvage yard, falling over the old carcasses of automobiles that had been abandoned, deemed useless. Dead skins that used to run the roads, used to purr along the streets, used to be alive, for Christ's sake. They had been cared for, washed down, prided over, and then were left to rot in favor of something newer. Sacrificed for something faster.

Dean's breath caught painfully in his chest. He refused to believe his suspicion about his father's death, refused to voice it, but it nagged at him because hell, he had too much time to think now, which was the downside to lurking around Bobby's place, instigating repairs. Sam, something's wrong. Those were the words he had uttered just before –

No. It didn't matter.

It didn't matter.

His jaw clenched firm as he adjusted his gloves, trying to distract himself from the anger that just wouldn't go away. He made himself run his finger around the jagged edges of the holes he left in the trunk. His expression was drained of emotion, but his heart was full, and one thought repeated in his mind, over and over, a litany that changed in its phrasing, but not in its meaning. Now look what you made me do.

His dad was gonna kill him. Except. . . shit.

That car was Dean. It was a sign of independence from his father, a gift from a parent who was slowly letting his child go. Not that John Winchester ever held on. Hell, if there was ever a parent who believed in self-sufficiency it was John Winchester. Yet he was controlling, manipulative, sometimes downright abusive. And Dean allowed it. He tolerated all of it because John Winchester was his dad, and his dad knew what was what, his dad was always right – only he wasn't. And it was hard enough when Dean realized, as an adult, that his father wasn't the hero Dean had imagined him to be when he was a child. Now he was gone, and the cold feeling that nailed itself into his stomach just wouldn't go away, no matter how much he worked on the car.

He grit his teeth and pounded his fist on the trunk. He fucking let his father be controlling. Not until shortly before his father's death did he stand up to him and take his brother's side over his dad's. And again, bowing up to him when he was chastised for not calling when Sam broke out with the whole "shining" thing, and talked down to like he didn't have a clue how to handle things himself. And when Dean really didn't have a clue, and tried to call, where was dear old dad? Huh? A violent punch left a dent, and bruised knuckles.

What about now? There would be no calls, nothing. No choice but to handle things on his own. Good thing his dad believed in fucking self-sufficiency.

Dean's teeth clenched. His fingers curled in angrily, and again he struck out, pounding the trunk over and over, caving the abused metal. How dare Dad leave him alone to deal with all this. And that last conversation —

"Bastard! What the hell was that, huh?" Dean's flushed face turned to the sky, and he yelled at the sun. "What the hell kind of thing was that to say to me? Why did you leave me with that? Dammit, most dads leave an inheritance. You left me in hell!" He stomped to the side of the car and kicked at the soft tire, digging in the heel of his boot. "You left me in hell! Are you happy with that? Huh? Are you fucking grinning out your ass, you selfish sonofabitch?" He delivered a powerful side kick to the frame, and the car rocked.

Dean paused, caught his breath. Took a step back. Swallowed hard. His shoulders slumped under the weight of grief. "I just did what you wanted," he said softly. "That's all I ever did. I know you loved me, and you loved Sammy, I know that. But why, Dad? Why would you leave me that, huh?" A tear escaped and rolled gently down his cheek. "Didn't you know I loved you too?" His lips trembled, and his head lowered.

He stood like that for a while before clearing his throat and rolling his shoulders, looking once again to the car he was rebuilding from scratch. Looking at the frame, he realized it was the only thing left of his instrument of freedom. Bare bones. He would have to take what was left and build around it.

But for now it was filled with holes. Again he ran his finger around the sharp, cut edges.Heck of a repair job, but it could be done. He stared at the holes. Raised his amber gaze to stare at the wrecks around him, all waiting to become a part of something else. Something better.

Sam had asked why he stayed there. Dean said he needed to work on his car. But now he knew.

He needed to work on his soul.

What he didn't know, was that Sam was there with him, watching him.

As always.