"That's what you get for jerking off in the back seat," Sam answered absently. He dodged the expected smack on the back of his head. They were stuck on the side of some road in the middle of nowhere, the Impala pulled off to the side, coughing up clouds of gray smoke and spilling oil from her engine.
"Look at her," Dean said, "she's got morning sickness. And she's been moody lately."
Of late, this had been a frequent occurrence. They'd be riding along just fine and then suddenly the car would begin to cough and sputter and Dean would pull over as quickly as he could. Dean let her cool down and then went to fiddle with the engine. Another quart of oil and she was good to go.
Come to think of it, Sam thought, the incidents had all occurred in the early mornings. If they weren't on the road, she'd give Dean trouble starting up in the morning until he soothed her into purring.
"Are her nipples sore?" Sam turned to look back. "Where are the nipples on a car anyway?"
"Can't you be serious for once?"
Sam rolled his eyes. "You're the one who thinks the car is pregnant."
"I should never have left her alone at the car show."
"Entering the car show was a bad idea in the first place," Sam snorted.
"Right. None of those things were even in my baby's league," Dean rested against the side of the Impala, stroking her finish tenderly. "It's a crime that we didn't take first place."
The Impala's engine rumbled, almost as if in agreement, a low deep purr. Dean pushed himself away from the car and stumbled, nearly falling.
"Dean?" Sam sprang to his feet.
Dean turned wide-eyes on Sam. He held out his hand and dangled the Impala's keys from his fingers. "Scratch that, I think the car's possessed."
"It can't be possessed," Sam said, "It's loaded with more protective charms than the Vatican."
The Impala rumbled again, this time angrily.
"SHE can hear you Sam. She doesn't appreciate being called a thing, isn't that right baby?" Dean crooned to the car, still not touching her. The Impala purred happily back at him.
Sam rolled his eyes. Even female inanimate objects were swayed by his brother's charms. "Only you would have no problem with the car being alive."
Dean snorted. "Figures you'd have a problem with it. Remember Knight Rider, man? Maybe my girl can turbo boost."
"You're no David Hasselhoff and she's no Kitt." Damn it, Sam thought, now Dean had him doing it, called the Impala "she."
Dean grinned at him, catching the slip. "C'mon Sam, this isn't all that weird."
"Right." Sam rubbed the bridge of his nose. Apparently this was just a normal headache, and not one of the head-splitting vision-inducing variety. Too bad, he could have used the guidance. Instead he was stuck with his exasperating brother and a possibly possessed car. "Call Bobby."
"Yeah. If anyone's dealt with possessed cars, it's Bobby," Dean agreed, flipping open his cell phone.
Sam hoped so.
Bobby told them to get the Impala up to him ASAP. "And no diddling around, you drive straight to my place."
Of course they had to be on the other side of the country from South Dakota. And with the Impala out of commission every morning, the trip took nearly twice as long as usual. About halfway there, Dean seemed to be stopping for gas more frequently.
Sam took him aside at the station to ask about it. They didn't want the Impala to hear.
"I think she's hungry, dude," Dean shrugged.
"Hungry┘" Sam repeated. "Of course she is. First the morning sickness, now, she's hungry. What, is she craving pickles and ice cream now?"
A strange expression came over Dean's face. "I wonder┘" He stalked back to the car.
Sam wished he hadn't said anything at all. Dean murmured to the car's hood, every so often checking over his shoulder to make sure no one else was watching. Sam groaned as he saw the Impala inch forward towards the diesel pump. Maybe she was getting cravings after all.
Sam made them stop at a bookstore somewhere in Illinois and picked up a battered used copy of "What to expect when you're expecting." He got grossed out by chapter three and tossed it out the window by the time they hit Nebraska. It didn't answer any of the important questions anyway: how could a car suddenly come to life, never mind get pregnant at a car show?
That gave him a thought and he reached over the back seat to get the laptop.
"Sam?" Dean asked.
"Just a thought," Sam murmured. Dean had taken a million photos at that stupid show. Maybe one of them would have a clue.
Bobby stood in the garage waiting for them when Dean drove up, the Impala moving sluggishly into the drive. "She must be close to giving birth," Dean nodded to himself.
Sam rolled his eyes and pulled himself out of the car.
"So, I hear you have a knocked-up Impala," Bobby drawled.
Dean covered the Impala's headlights. "Shh, she's kinda sensitive about it."
"I don't think she hears out of her headlights, Dean."
"You don't know a damn thing about my baby┘"
"Christo," Bobby snapped out.
They turned toward him, blinking at his outburst. Bobby scratched at his beard. "Well, come on then, it's going to take some time to bless all the water in the well."
"You're going to hose her down with Holy Water?" Dean went white. Sam didn't know if that was because of what Bobby had planned or because he had inadvertently quoted a Meatloaf song.
"I don't know what you expected Dean." Bobby led them back into the house. "Cars don't get pregnant, and they don't start their engines on their own unless a ghost or demon is involved in some way."
"Actually," Sam cut in, "I think I know why she's suddenly alive."
The other men turned to face him.
Sam scratched his head, catching his fingers in his long strands of hair. He hated having to say this, but well┘"When you rebuilt the Impala Dean, remember all those protective symbols we inscribed behind the paint job?"
"Tell me we didn't."
"What, exactly, did you do?" Bobby broke in.
"C'mon Sam, I know we didn't pull any of that Buddhist crap."
Sam shook his head. He'd known better than to use any of the symbols that could cause beliefs to come to life. "The runes we put on that car are pretty powerful. And you always refer to her as a she, hell you treat her better than you do me┘"
"Car doesn't talk back, Sammy."
"Apparently she does now," Sam snapped. "I think the power we infused behind her paint has somehow awoken the car."
"Then how do you explain this pregnancy crap?" Bobby asked.
Sam held up one finger. He moved and started to set up the laptop. "While we were at the car show, Dean, do you remember that electric car?"
Dean grumbled under his breath, something about that being unnatural.
Sam clicked through the photographs from the car show. "It was painted with images of trees, attempting to show how it's environmentally friendly, I guess."
"Tree hugging hippies," Dean muttered.
"Fifty-five bucks at the last gas station, Dean."
"A Fir tree, an Oak tree, a Pine tree; all trees that are traditionally associated with pregnancy and fertility." Sam pointed to the screen, flipping through the pictures of the electric car.
"You're saying that's the bastard that knocked up my baby?"
"It's just a guess, but the runes we carved into the Impala, plus these very powerful symbols on the other car┘"
"And bam, you get a pregnant, sentient car," Bobby said. He grabbed the brim of his hat and settled it more firmly on his head. "Only question is how are we going to stop this?"
"Wait a second there," Dean burst in, "you're talking about killing my baby? And what about her baby?"
"Dean, cars aren't supposed to be alive." Sam reminded him.
Dean just stormed out of Bobby's home and back towards the Impala. Sam's shoulders slumped. His brother really loved that car. Sam wondered just how much.
An inhuman moan woke Sam from a deep sleep. He had crashed in Bobby's spare bedroom; Dean had elected to sleep outside with the Impala. They hadn't come to any conclusions about the car. And neither Bobby nor Sam had found anything they could use to 'cure' the Impala, so there really was nothing they could do, except more research, and that would have to wait till the morning.
The sound came again, as Sam sat up in the bed, brain still muddled with sleep. He looked around the room, looking for Dean. When the wailing came again, he remembered they were at Bobby's, and tossing the covers off of his legs, he grabbed a knife from the top of his duffel and ran to the door.
Bobby appeared at the door of his bedroom, also armed, though with a shotgun instead of a knife. He nodded at Sam and both made their way towards the front of the place. Still no sign of Dean.
Bobby moved to the front door and undid the latch, letting it ease open. The moan came again, clearer now that the door was opened. It sounded almost like the Impala's horn, only deeper, as if the car was in pain. Sam shook his head, now he was as bad as Dean.
Before he and Bobby could charge outside and see what happened, the door slammed inward, hitting the wall hard. Dean appeared in the doorway, something clutched in his arms, a bundle covered by his own shirt. "Sam!"
"We're dads, Sam. Well, uncles really, but not in the creepy Deliverance sense┘"
Bobby had pulled back the shotgun. "What the hell are you talking about, Dean?"
Dean held his shirt out to them, revealing what he had cradled in his arms. Something moved within the folds of the shirt. Sam moved closer, unable to help himself. He gasped at the sight of four tiny cars nuzzling each other. He could hear a high pitched purring and one of the cars made little 'beep' noises as Sam approached.
"Two boys and two girls," Dean stated proudly, almost as if had birthed the car babies himself. What did you call car babies anyway? Sam thought a bit hysterically. Carpees? Carttens? Carlets? Carlings?
"How can you tell┘?" Bobby started, then shook his head. "Don't answer that. I don't want to know."
"I have to get them back to mama Impala, she's nursing." Dean turned and went back into the night. Sam started at the empty doorway and wondered if he was still asleep.
He exchanged a look with Bobby who only said, "It's time to break out the whiskey."
In the light of day, Sam could clearly see the little baby car. He and Dean stood outside the Impala's trunk, like so many times before. Only, in addition to the weapons they kept inside, four tiny cars zoomed happily around the interior. The two "girl" babies had bodylines similar to the Impala, both sleek and curvy. One was the same shade of shiny black, though the other shone a bright white. The "boy" cars looked more like their father, with a bulkier body. One was black, like mama Impala, but the other was a deep red.
It took Sam a moment to get used to having to use terms like "baby boy car" and "mama Impala." He shook his head as he watched the babies zoom around the weapons, treating them like large toys. "You think they're okay around the guns?"
Dean shrugged, "Not like they have thumbs or fingers to shoot with. And they're cars Sam. I already pulled out all the knives. Don't want our babies to cut themselves." He leaned forward, a grin on his face. He gently stroked one of the girl car babies. "I've named them."
"Oh god," Sam groaned.
Dean pointed to the girls, "Janis and Grace," Grace was the black one, "and Jimi and Bruce."
"As in Springsteen?"
"As in Batman's secret identity," Dean retorted.
"You're breaking up a set," Sam told him.
Sam tried to hide his grin. "So, uh, how does she nurse?"
Dean waved towards the spare tire compartment. "They all line up in there and the top closes. She's like a kangaroo or something."
"I didn't know you knew that much about marsupials."
"Who said anything about marsupials? We're talking Chevrolet here┘"
Sam felt a bit distanced from the situation. Maybe it would be different if they had had pets growing up, or something like that. He wasn't quite sure how to feel about the trunkful of baby cars. Dean was obviously thrilled to pieces, but he couldn't be thinking this through. What were they going to do with four tiny, living cars?
They left the babies to nurse and wandered back into Bobby's for some coffee and the rest of breakfast. Bobby sat at his kitchen table, scowling at the newspaper spread over its surface.
"God damn faeries," he grumbled under his breath.
"Uh, excuse me?" Dean said, coming around the other side to see exactly what Bobby was mumbling at.
Bobby shook out the paper and pointed. "Faery ring, about two counties west of here. We got people going missing and missing people suddenly showing up twenty years later who haven't aged a day."
"Sure sounds like faeries." Dean agreed.
"In South Dakota?" Sam questioned.
"You know how it goes. Some tourist brings a pixie over from Ireland and the next thing you know, it's the whole alligator in the sewer situation."
Dean nodded in agreement. "Want me and Sam to check it out?"
Bobby folded the paper up. "You're going to need a different arsenal. C'mon, let's go see what I have in the shed."
Sam tapped out a different search string on his laptop, trying to ignore the sounds of "vroom vroom!" coming from Bobby's living room. When the high pitched beeps started to join in, all to the rhythm of "Back in Black," he slammed his computer closed and stalked into the room to yell at Dean. The carlets shouldn't be in the house anyway.
He stopped in the doorway, caught up by the sight before him. Dean was on his back on the floor, knees drawn up as the carkids zoomed and vroomed all over him. Bruce was going up and down his legs, the girls making circles on his belly, and Jimi actually cuddling in Dean's arm. Dean had a huge grin on his face as he regarded his children fondly.
"Having fun cuddling your babies?" Sam snorted.
Dean sat up abruptly, but kept Jimi in his arm circle. "What? No, we're just┘just practicing for, uh off-roading."
"Right." Sam fought to keep from smiling. Dean made it so easy to mock him. He'd be happy to let Dean play with the babies all day long; God knew they needed the downtime, but they had work to do.
Bobby came in from the back, pulling off a set of workman's gloves. "I figured out how to take care of those faeries."
Dean set Jimi down carefully and stood, leaving the babies to zoom happily around his feet. "We're not just going to pump them full of iron bullets?"
Bobby snorted. "You need to convince them to close the circle. Shooting the ones hanging around ain't going to do you a bit of good."
"So we threaten them?" Sam supplied.
Bobby nodded. "I got the iron bell cleared out in the back. They can't stand the sound of its ringing."
"So we torture them with Sam's musical ability and they'll close the ring?" Dean said with a smirk.
"What makes you think I'm the one who's going to ring it?"
"Someone's gotta stand there with the buckshot, just in case."
"Boys, how long have those cars been doing that?" Bobby interrupted.
Sam and Dean turned their gaze to the floor. Moments before the babies were circling Dean's feet. Now they had lined up along Bobby's wall, with cords coming out of their trunks and plugged into the electrical outlets.
"My babies are hybrids!" Dean shouted, horrified.
"Don't be such a racist," Sam patted him in the shoulder. "Look on the bright side, it'll save us in gas bills."
"What about my electric bill?" Bobby snorted.
"Uh, I should go make sure we've got everything we'll need." Dean ducked outside.
Sam wondered how they were going to get to the hunt. After all, they couldn't take the Impala if she was nursing, could they?
Apparently the Impala had a few things to say about them going. Sam had his duffel packed, the carlings zooming over it as he zipped it up. He could hear Dean's voice through the open window; apparently his brother had no problem opening up emotionally to their car. Sam wished he could get Dean to open up and talk to him sometimes. Instead, he'd have to settle for eavesdropping on Dean's talks with the Impala.
"Come on, baby, you know we'd never go anywhere without you, but you just gave birth┘"
The Impala's engine roared.
"You know I don't think you can't do it. What are we going to do with the kids, huh? Leave them with Bobby? They're still nursing!"
Once again the Impala's engine rumbled, a soft gentle purr this time.
"The kids are NOT coming with us!"
There was a sound of a door slamming, then wheels squealing. Sam looked out the window to see that the Impala had cornered Dean against the wall of Bobby's house. Her engine rumbled one more time. Dean had a hand out on her hood.
"Yeah," he said, "me too baby."
Sam felt like he was watching Han Solo and Chewbacca, though the Impala was more like their Millennium Falcon than anything else. Maybe R2-D2. But that would make Dean C3PO and Sam figured his brother fit the Han bill better.
He realized he should go downstairs and get a translation. Maybe help Dean out. And maybe figure out how they were going to take the Impala and the babies on a hunt.
At least they didn't need to pack a diaper bag, Sam thought a bit hysterically as they settled on their way to Bobby's hunt. They didn't need any booster seats either. The carlings got one last bit of juice from the electric sockets and then were tucked carefully into the Impala's spare tire compartment. Dean had put all the weapons they would need in their duffels and tossed those in the back seat. The babies would need all the room they could get in the trunk, since no way were they going to be allowed out.
Sam thought it would be different, taking the Impala on the hunt now that she was alive and a mother to boot, but Dean still guided her, hands on the steering wheel while his favorite music blasted out of the tape player. They sped into town like usual, found a motel and started asking questions.
They found at least one fan.
"Like, far out, man, that car's totally groovy," Fred said. He was one of the suddenly
returned missing people. Unfortunately, Fred thought it was still 1969. He was tall and
lanky, with long blond hair that hung to his waist, wearing bell-bottoms and a tie-dyed t-
"Uh, thanks, Fred." Dean grinned. "Anyway, you think you can show us the place in the woods where you had the, uh, experience."
"Best trip of my life, man."
"Get in the car, don't get any pot on the leather."
The dirt road led into the woods, but they could only go so far. They had to leave the Impala on the track and go deeper on foot. Dean patted her hood and whispered softly. Sam guessed he was telling her to wait for them. The engine revved once unhappily, but then was silent.
Sam was glad Fred didn't seem to notice.
"So what do faeries look like, Freddy?" Dean asked as they walked. "Hot chicks with wings?"
"No man, it's all about the colors. It's, like, the most intense spectrum of the, like, rainbow!"
Sam hefted his duffel over his shoulder, wincing at the sudden clanging. He did indeed get saddled with the iron bell.
At the sound, Fred, who walked at least two feet in front of Dean to lead the way, stopped. He turned his head, slowly, and his face changed. His eyes squinted into slits and his ears elongated until they were almost parodies of themselves. Pink skin turned dry and leathery and the long blond hair turned white and wispy. "Oh, is that how it's gonna be, lads?"
And the forest came alive. Branches reached out and grabbed for them. A deep ululation echoed through the darkness. Dean, always quick on the draw, had his shotgun out and shot iron rounds into the woods.
"Run!" he shouted.
Sam turned and ran back towards the Impala, the bell clanging in his bag. The forest tried to stop him, tree roots rising to trip him up. He managed to leap over a few, but the next one got him and he crashed to the ground, the duffel sliding away. Sam reached for it and a tree limb snaked out and circled his wrist.
He didn't hear Dean behind him. Sam pulled at the wood, but it was stuck tight. He went for his belt and pulled out the iron knife he took for this hunt and sliced at the branch. It let go with a piercing shriek. Sam staggered to his feet, but he was surrounded, trees everywhere that were somehow alive by faery magic.
Before he could decide on whether to go back for Dean or to dive for his bag, he heard a high-pitched engine whine behind him. Sam turned to see the four carlets zooming down the path. To his surprise, the woods parted for the four tiny cars. They looked bigger now, before they had been only the length of his hand, now they seemed as long as his forearm. Briefly he wondered what the Impala was feeding them.
The carlings zoomed around him in a circle, protecting him from the forest. Fae couldn't cross iron, he thought, and the steel in the cars were probably enough to keep the wood spirits away.
"Guys, I need the bag," he shouted and the carlings responded, widening the circle to include the duffel. Sam dove for it and pulled out the iron bell. He hit it with his knife and the clang echoed across the night.
The trees shuddered and stilled.
"Sam!" Dean's voice echoed.
It could be a trick. Sam looked down at the car babies. "Stay with me, guys. They might pretend to be Dean, so we have to be careful."
They crept further into the forest, Sam following the trail of destruction that led him hopefully closer to Dean.
The sound of a shotgun echoed through the night. That had to be Dean. Sam hurried closer to where the sound came from.
"Take that, Tinkerbell! I sure as hell don't believe in faeries!"
Sam grinned. He and the carlets emerged from the woods to find Dean surrounded by glowing creatures of various psychedelic colors. They were closing in on him and didn't seem to be too deterred by the gun.
Jimi, the little red carlet, zoomed forward and used a log to take off into the air. He landed in front of Dean, engine snarling. Dean whirled and met Sam's gaze.
"Sweet!" he shouted. "They can turbo boost!"
Sam took the opportunity to clang the bell again. The creatures seemed to shrink away and diminish right before their eyes. "Release the people you've taken and close this circle," Sam commanded. "Or I'll keep ringing till you're all dead." He hit the bell again, and again.
They never got an answer, the faeries all faded away and the trees shrunk back into themselves, becoming nothing more than ordinary trees.
Dean backed up and slapped Sam on the shoulder. "Back to the Impala. Go!"
"Do you think it worked?" Sam asked as they ran back along the path, the carlets zooming along with them.
Dean didn't answer as they made it back to the track. The Impala sped up to them, threw her front doors and the trunk open. Sam slid into his seat, watching in the rear view mirror as the car babies hopped up into the trunk and it slammed closed. Dean didn't even touch the wheel before the Impala spun a 180.
The trees hovered over the road, leaning down with branches extended like long arms. The Impala sped along the dirt road, dodging the trees, and speeding through any of the faeries that manifested in front of them. They disintegrated when her steel body penetrated them.
"Dean, we can't just leave the forest like this," Sam said.
"What do you suggest we do, Sammy?" Dean snapped. "The bell didn't work, it just pissed them off!"
"I don't think it was loud enough, if they've infested the entire woods."
The Impala beeped her horn at them.
"Do you think?" Sam looked at the dashboard. "Could she mimic the noise?"
The horn beeped again, this time sounding exactly like the clanging of the bell.
"Sammy, get out the earplugs. Baby is going to do her thing."
They dragged themselves to Bobby's sometime around 6 am, the sun creeping over the horizon. The Impala stuttered into the drive, her voice hoarse from destroying the faeries in the forest. They may not have gotten the missing people back, but no one would be disappearing in those woods again.
They all needed some rest.
Sam crawled into bed, Dean right behind him, for once not sleeping outside with the Impala. He closed his eyes, and didn't notice when he fell asleep. Hours later, something nudged his shoulder. He opened his eyes and came face to headlights with one of the carlets. Janis, he thought.
She had gotten even bigger than the night before. Soon the four babies wouldn't be able to fit in the Impala's trunk.
Sam patted her on the hood absently and looked across the room. Dean's bed was empty. "Dean downstairs?" he asked the car, who beeped in the affirmative.
Great, now Sam was starting to understand them.
He pulled on his jeans and stumbled down the stairs. Dean and Bobby stood in the kitchen, two of the carlets circling the table. Sam wondered how Janis had made it up the stairs. He turned and watched as she turbo boosted from the landing down to the first floor. Ah. That's how.
Dean gripped the back of one of Bobby's chairs, his eyes wet.
"Dean, what's wrong?" Sam asked, his voice hitching. What was going on?
"The babies are getting big. My babies are growing up!"
Sam blinked. "Well, yes, that's generally what babies do. I guess even car babies."
"We can't take them with us, Sam. What are we gonna do?"
Bobby cleared his throat, loudly. "Well, seeing as I own a salvage yard┘"
"You ain't junking my babies, Bobby!"
"They can stay here, Dean. I've got the gas pump hookups, I've got the dang electricity. When they grow up big and strong they can be cars for hunters." Bobby sounded amused as he made the offer.
Dean sniffed. "Those hunters better appreciate my babies."
Sam patted his shoulder awkwardly. "I'm sure they will, Dean. I mean, maybe we can look them over, before Bobby gives them away?" He looked up at Bobby, who nodded.
Bobby crouched down to pat the hood of the car baby currently at his feet. "It'll be nice to have them running around. Place hasn't been the same since Rumsfield┘well."
Sam left the two of them to commiserate over dogs and cars. He went out to the front yard to check on the Impala. "You going to be ok with this?" he asked her. "Leaving your kids with Bobby?"
The engine revved and for a moment Sam felt he knew exactly what she was saying. He smiled and ran his fingers along her smooth finish. "Yeah," he said. "I think Bobby will treat them good. And they're safer here than out there with us." He cleared his throat, still not exactly comfortable with having a conversation with the Impala without Dean there.
"Thank you. You and the kids saved us back there."
As he walked back towards the house, she beeped at him, a low whistling beep. Sam felt sure that meant "all in a day's work."