Notes: I was gonna go somewhere else with this, but then it just turned into something silly, loosely based on the legend which can be found at snopes(dot)com, just search for "vet's vette" if you're curious.
Black Car, Black Car
"The car." The old woman's eyes light up behind coke bottle lenses and her rocking chair creaks as she leans forward. She nods and breathes deep through rasping lungs. "Take the car."
Sam shifts anxiously on the porch and glances at Dean for help. But, Dean stands over by the stairs, entirely transfixed by the numerous squirrels skittering around the overgrown yard. Sam sighs.
"Ma'am, we can't do that. Really, it was no trouble." Twelve stitches between them, no trouble. It wasn't like they ever expected to be paid, though.
"I don't drive it," she says, rocking back in her chair. "Never did. It was my son's car and you--" She points a bony finger at Sam. "You remind me of him. Like seeing a ghost. Even had that same rat's nest mop 'till they buzzed it."
Sam reaches up hesitantly to touch his hair. It's combed okay. No knots. He wants to ask Dean if it looks all right, but Dean is still watching the squirrels, leaning just slightly forward, top lip twitching.
The woman squints out at the Impala, parked in the mud ruts that serve as a driveway. "Anyhow, it'll probably get you farther than that clunker."
"Excuse me?" Dean snaps back to attention.
The woman ignores him and looks straight at Sam. "I want you to have it."
And how can he say no to that?
"I can't believe she said that," Dean snipes, kicking through the tall grass that surrounds the house and has grown to exceptional heights around the barn and garage. "Crazy old woman doesn't know an engine block from a quilt block."
"She's giving us a car, Dean."
"So? It's probably a minivan, or a Toyota, or…or…" He chokes. "A Golf."
Sam opens the barn's side door, an action that involves lifting the warped piece of wood and pushing and way more sweat than opening a door should.
Inside, dust lingers in the hazy air and it smells of straw and moldy hay, some of both still scattered on the dirt floor between random pieces of farm equipment. In the center of the floor sits the hulking shape of a car, covered by a grimy blue tarp.
Sam looks at Dean.
Sam grabs the tarp in two places and pulls it off in one smooth motion, tossing it aside to the floor.
The car is a shining black contraption of beauty. The chrome is polished and wax is still thick and sticky over the flawless black paint.
"We can't…" Sam starts to shake his head. "We can not take this."
Dean groans and drapes his arms wide over the car's roof.
"Dean. We can't." Sam pauses. "Dude, are you hugging it?"
Dean nods against the polished black roof.
Sam pulls at him. "You can't hug cars, Dean."
"'S'like finding a long lost brother."
"I'm your brother. You don't even hug me."
"She would love him."
"She who? What? Oh God, Dean. The car?"
"Can't you just see it, Sam? The two of them?"
Sam rubs at his forehead. It would be something. The two cars like dark twins next to each
other, yin and yang, long lost brothers. He sighs. "We still can't take it."
"Just for a drive?" Dean asks, patting the side mirror gently. "Just around the state and back?"
"Around the state?" Sam repeats incredulously. "This isn't Delaware, Dean."
"Delaware?" Dean frowns. "In Colorado?"
"That's Denver, you genius. The state of Delaware."
"Yeah, yeah. I knew that. Just making sure you're paying attention." Dean walks around the car and pulls open the driver's door. He sighs loudly and shrugs. "You going to drive?"
Sam frowns. "Are you sick?"
Dean rolls his eyes. "The woman gave it to you, Sam. I was trying to be nice." He circles back around to the passenger side and nudges Sam. "Go on."
Sam moves slowly around to the still open driver's door and slides in. It's a little lower than the Impala. He'll probably end up crawling out on hands and knees.
Dean settles in on the passenger side and flicks open the glove box. It pops open easily and Dean pulls out the lone items inside: a leather-bound copy of the bible and a road map of the state. Apparently, the guy had needed a lot of guidance. Dean puts the items back inside, closes the box carefully.
Sam leans back in the driver's seat, trying to situate his knees around the wheel and find the pedals.
"Today, Sam." Dean bounces his knee anxiously. "See if she starts."
Sam reaches up to adjust the mirror, rolls down the window, stretches his arm out to adjust the side mirror, straightens his jacket...
Dean slugs his shoulder. "You're not funny."
Dean shakes his head and crosses his arms. Too easy.
Smiling, Sam leans forward to place the key in the ignition. The woman had given him one key ring with two copies of the key on it. Eyes grazing over the display, he turns the key. "HOLY--"
The engine roars to life.
Dean turns to Sam with wide eyes. "It still runs."
"Dean," Sam gasps, still staring at the tiny row of numbers below the speedometer.
"It's incredible. They must have really--"
"There's only three-hundred miles on this car."
"It's a mistake." Dean taps at the Plexiglas covering the numbers. "Some kind of glitch."
"You think? I've never heard of that."
"I don't know, Sam. Maybe they drove it backwards to take the miles off."
"That doesn't work." Sam scoffs and then glances at his brother. "Does it?"
"I don't know. Maybe they replaced it."
"Yeah." Sam nods. That's feasible.
"Although, it doesn't really look like…"
"Anybody messed with it?"
Sam pushes open his door and crawls out.
"Where're you going?"
"To talk to that woman."
"I told you I never drove it." The old woman rocks on in her chair and points at Sam. "You
know, you've got ears just like my son, too. Full of wax. Never hear a word coming at you."
"Well, ma'am, the thing is--"
"I always told you to clean your ears out, Sammy," Dean says, quiet and hushed with embarrassment.
Sam stares at him in disbelief.
Dean leans closer to Sam and shares a glance with the woman. "He never liked that whole thing." He makes a twisting motion next to his ear.
The woman nods knowingly. "Mm-hmm."
"Thought I was going to take out an ear drum or something."
Sam taps his foot on the warped floorboards of the porch. "Are you done?"
"Never very big on hygiene at all," Dean goes on calmly. "I had to tell him, a new pair of socks, Sam, everyday. That's how you have to do it."
"Everyday." The woman nods in commiseration. "You got to tell them. It never does sink in."
"It's not like it's that hard."
"I know it. I know it."
"Sorry, Sam. Go ahead."
Sam closes his eyes for a long moment and then focuses on the woman in the rocking
chair. "The thing is ma'am, that car with only three-hundred miles on it is a very rare thing."
She frowns. "What, is it worth money or something?"
"Yes." Sam nods. "Yes, ma'am. A LOT of money."
"Well." She pauses. "I'd rather you not sell it, but if that's what you really want to do…"
"No. No. That's not what I'm saying. I can't take the car."
The woman's eyes turn stony behind her glasses. "But, I gave it to you."
Dean nudges Sam. "She gave it to you."
"I know, I know. I appreciate it, but I can't take something of that value from you."
"You cleaned that spook out of my house. I gave you the car."
Dean nudges Sam. "Fair trade, huh?"
Lips pressed together, Sam ducks forward and sets the key ring on the wide armrest of the woman's chair. "I'm sorry. I can't take it."
The woman stares at the keys for a few moments and then glares up at Sam.
Sam takes a few, slow steps backward, edging toward the stairs.
"I gave it to you. You can't give it back." She swipes the key ring up in one bony fist and pitches it out into the yard. It sails high, glinting in the sun, before disappearing into the grass and weeds. "You find those keys." She nods. "You take that car."
Sam guesses that the grass probably has not been cut since the woman's son went off to war. It's a needle in a haystack. They could really use a metal detector, or…
"I wonder if she's got a lawnmower." Dean says from his slouch against the Impala.
Sam squares his shoulders and marches over to his brother, lifting his feet high to trample
through the grass. He holds out a hand. "Give it."
Dean looks genuinely perplexed. "What are you talking about?"
Sam shoves at his shoulders. "You know what I'm talking about."
Dean shrugs away and straightens his jacket. "Sam, geez…"
"I don't know how you did it, but there was only one key on the ring when I gave it back."
Slowly, Dean's fake confusion fades into a wide grin. "Hey, you were paying attention. I was scared you hadn't even noticed."
"Give me the key."
"All right. Hold your horses, Sam." He reaches into the inside pocket of his jacket, rummages around for a second before pulling out Dad's journal. Frowning, he sets that on the hood of the car and digs into the other pocket. "I swear it's here."
Sam frowns. "Don't tell me you lost it."
"I didn't lose it. Just…hang on." Resolutely, Dean begins to empty his pockets, one by one, setting the items on the warm hood of the car. Dad's journal out of the right pocket, a .22 out of the left inside pocket, a huge bag of M&Ms, a six-inch sheathed blade, the EMF/walkman, a few pens, a Swiss army knife, some paper, a crumpled five dollar bill, a couple of spare ID's and an entire box of band-aids.
Gazing over the items, Sam grins and scratches at his nose. "Geez, Dean. Where's there room for you in there?"
"I think I lost it," Dean says, looking slightly deflated.
"Great job, MacGuyver."
"Yeah, shut your mouth, Sam. You know, if you weren't trying to be all honorable, we wouldn't have this problem. You should have just taken it to begin with. You're such a friggin' dork, sometimes."
Sam scrunches up his face and frowns. "I took a shower this morning."
"Good for you." Dean laughs. "So, what?"
"So don't call me a dork."
"You're a smart kid, Sam," Dean says slowly. "I guess I don't tell you that often enough. But, right now? You are making zero sense."
"I took a shower, so I don't smell, so I'm not a dork, you jerk," Sam says like it is clearly the most logical train of thought. When Dean still just stares, Sam goes on to explain; "The use of the word dork as an insult came from a breed of fowl called Dorkings." He shrugs. "They smell terrible."
Dean just shakes his head. "Fowl?"
"Chickens," Sam clarifies.
Dean runs a hand over his face. "Oh, my God." He turns his gaze skyward. "Where did I go wrong?"
"I was just telling you."
"I didn't need to know, Sam. Nobody needs to know that."
Sam shrugs again. "I was just--"
"I know." Dean pats him on the back and steers him back into the grass. "You were just telling me. Now use that big brain of yours to find those keys."
The sun sets, leaving warmth behind even as the yard darkens to shades of charcoal and dust.
"I think it's quittin' time." Dean sighs.
Sam stomps down the grass where he stands, marking the spot as far as they'd looked so far. He turns for the car. "Let's go."
By the time they pack up and go, it's nearing 10 at night. Dinner, travel time, showers and cleaning wounds takes another few hours. Insomnia kills another hour or two. When Sam wakes the next day, the bedside clock says a quarter 'till three and Dean snoozes on in the other bed. Sam sits up slowly. Time for some breakfast…lunch…early dinner?
They can continue the key hunt tomorrow, after hitting up the local Home Depot for a good metal detector.
"This is amazing." Dean runs the metal-detector past the Impala's bumper again, listening to the tinny chirps it makes. He reaches over to pat the hood. "No fiber-plexi-plastic-foam for you, huh?"
"C'mon." Sam nudges him, leading the way toward the house.
Dean leaves the metal detector by the car and joins Sam on the porch just as he reaches up to knock.
The door creaks open almost immediately.
The old woman squints up at them, takes off her glasses to clean them on her shirt sleeve. "Thought you two weren't comin' back." She puts the glasses back on, eyes magnified and foggy behind them.
"We did." Sam shrugs and grins.
Dean rocks back and forth on his heels. "Huh."
"Well." She sighs. "You're a little late."
"Sold that car early this morning."
Dean's jaw drops and Sam feels him waver. He clears his throat. "Uh…pardon?"
"Sold it. To a boy lives just up the road. You were right, too. Got a pretty penny for it. Think I might move to Flar-duh."
Dean points at Sam. "I thought it was his."
She gives Sam an appraising stare. "You said you didn't want it. Where I come from, people say what they mean."
"Yeah, but he really did want it. It's just his manners got in the way." Dean tries to explain. "It's this whole thing he does…with the manners."
She shrugs again and starts to ease the door closed. "Sorry. Thanks again." The door thumps shut, followed by a puff of dust.
Sam blinks. "Did that…did that just happen?"
"So, here's what I'm thinking." Dean hunches forward over the diner table. "We go find where this 'kid' lives, drop the spare, wire the car, and we're out of there in three minutes tops." He raises his eyebrows. "How about it?"
Sam picks at his sandwich. "I don't think so, Dean."
"It was never really ours--"
Sam glares. "It's just not worth it. We don't need it--"
"We don't really need anything."
"Don't tell me you're choosing now to get all philosophical on me."
"I'm just saying, a car like that doesn't come around twice, and it had our names on it first, and it's practically destiny. You don't mess with that stuff. That's all." He shrugs and reaches for a napkin to wipe off his hands.
"Sometimes destiny means letting things go. Even things you really, really want."
"Wow." Dean leans forward to peer into Sam's coffee mug. "You sure that's tea you're drinking there?"
Sam rolls his eyes. "I'm just saying. Easy come, easy go. That whole thing."
"Yeah." Dean shrugs. "I guess so."
"Still would've been nice, though."
"My own space, my own music. Nearly new suspension."
"Hey." Dean pokes him in the shoulder. "Don't forget who you're still riding with."
Sam follows his gaze out the window to the black car parked there. "Yeah. Yeah, I won't forget it."