Title: Soundtrack of a Boy and His Car
Character/Pairing: Dean/Impala in a totally soul-sharing and absolutely gen manner
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: a little bit of swearing and a fair dose of angst
Word Count: 4869
Spoilers: through 222, but it runs both pre and post current canon
Summary: Everyone has a life story – whether they live to be eighty or only eighteen. But Dean's story is special. Its about him, of course, but it's also about his Impala.
Beta thanks: soundingsea, erin2326, and wildcatlizzie for their fabulous betaing :D All mistakes within are mine.
Happy Birthday! This is sarahp's 25th birthday present - I hope you have a fabulous day, babe.
Disclaimer: Not mine, not by a long shot

somewhere a queen is weeping, somewhere a king has no wife, and the wind it cries mary

When you were a young boy, your life was far from perfect. After all, your mother died when you were only four, which completely altered your life's path.

After her death, you grew up on the road. You grew accustomed to spending subsequent nights in different cities and, often, in different states. You learned how to fight and how to shoot. You learned the importance of research to a hunter and were trained to follow in your father's footsteps.

For as many years as you can recall, you were taught to protect your younger brother above all else. Sammy was only six months old when your mother died, and until he was old enough to learn how to protect himself, it was your job to watch out for him.

You loved your father and wanted to make him proud, so you tried to do just that. You protected Sammy, doing whatever you could to make him happy. The decisions weren't always easy, and like any young boy, you made your share of mistakes. Still, as you grew from a boy into a man, you did the best you could.

But doing your best wasn't enough. Oh, sure, you kept your brother safe, but forces outside your control left you by yourself, more often than not. But you were never alone, not really. Even as your family started to fall apart around you, you had the car that had been a part of your life since before you could remember.

It didn't take you too long to realize that the Impala was more than just another car.

Everyone has a life story – whether they live to be eighty or only eighteen. But your story is special. Its about you, of course, but it's also about your Impala.

catch the wind, see us spin, sail away, leave today, way up high in the sky

You still remember the first time Dad let you drive her.

Well, okay, you didn't really get to drive, not all by yourself. You were only three and a half then, so it's not like you would have been able to gun the accelerator like you love to do now.

Sammy was colicky, and his screaming wasn't making you or Dad happy. So while Mom was coaxing Sammy back to sleep, Dad whisked you down to the Impala and drove out to the Lawrence High School parking lot – empty then, in the middle of the summer – and for the first time, you got to drive, well steer, the car that has now come to be more than just a car to you.

It wasn't much, but it was a start.

i'm learning to fly but i ain't got wings, coming down is the hardest thing

The first time you got to drive the Impala - really drive her – was memorable, to say the least.

Dad had been hurt fighting a particularly mean-spirited demon, and he was covered with gashes. You'd never seen so much blood before. A jagged piece of bone was painted red and jutting out of his calf.

You weren't squeamish, at all, ever. At least, you never let it show, so you knew that the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach wasn't a sign that you were going to be sick like Sammy probably would've been. It just meant that you were worried about your dad.

Really.

When he handed you the keys to his precious Impala though, that scared you more than his injuries. You were only ten after all, and you definitely shouldn't be driving yet.

Of course, following the letter of the law was never something Winchesters did all that well.

After a sharp word from your dad, you pulled yourself together and sat in the wrong seat. Well, it was the right one, but it didn't feel right. Your dad should have been sitting there, driving you back to Pastor Jim's after a thrilling and successful kill.

You shoved your seat forward, as far as it would go. You were taller than most kids your age, but that didn't mean that you'd be able to drive that far away from the pedals. You got comfortable, or as comfortable as you could be, before you started the engine. You'd soon realize that that was the easy part, if there was an easy part of trying to drive while your dad was possibly bleeding to death beside you.

You tried to pay attention to Dad's instructions, but they were a lot more complicated than you thought they'd be. When he asked if you understood, you really weren't sure what to do at all, but you didn't want to say that. He was counting on you to get him to the hospital, and the last thing you wanted to do was let him down at a time like this.

So you put a cocky grin on your face and nodded instead. Whatever you lacked in understanding you tried to make up for with bravado. You never realized how much was involved in driving this car until now. After all, Dad always made it look really easy.

You took a deep breath, trying to recall exactly what Dad did when he wanted to change gears, and you mimicked that as best you could.

There were a few rough spots – more when you got into town with the changing speed of traffic – but you made it through okay and got Dad to the hospital. That's what really mattered.

You hadn't really known what you were doing, and even after the fact, you weren't any more confident in your ability to drive by yourself than you were beforehand. But you'd done it, somehow, and that was what really mattered.

You watched fallen leaves blow around the Impala in the parking lot as you waited for Sam and Pastor Jim to meet you at the hospital. As you watched, as you waited, you thought back on what had happened. You didn't remember the details of driving to the hospital – the stop signs and speed bumps and the twists and turns of the road. You were so busy trying not to think about how much Dad was bleeding in the passenger's seat that you hardly had time to think about everything else.

Honestly, you could hardly believe that the two of you made it to the hospital at all. You didn't know what you were doing, but still – somehow – you had managed to make it there, safely, despite that.

It wasn't realistic, that much was for sure, but a part of you couldn't help but wonder if the fact that you were in the Impala was what made all the difference.

you are young and life is long and there is time to kill today

When Dad finally let you drive the Impala without any sense of impending doom, you were sixteen, and you'd just gotten a letter that confirmed you'd passed your GED.

Once you realized you wanted to be a hunter, living the mundane life of a high schooler became completely unnecessary. It wasn't like you were learning much of anything in class anyhow – particularly since you went hunting with Dad as often as he'd let you.

Sammy didn't understand. He didn't get why you wanted to take the GED and why you didn't want to graduate from high school like everyone else. Back then, he didn't understand the adrenalin rush of the hunt or the joy of the kill. He didn't enjoy it the way you did.

And, once upon a time, you didn't understand it or appreciate it either. Oh, sure, you loved spending time with Dad and had eagerly looked for any excuse to spend more time with him – and it didn't hurt that hunting would often mean missing a few days of school.

High school (and middle school and elementary school) were way overrated. Especially compared to driving around the country in Dad's precious Impala.

You'd gotten your test results just as Dad was ready to head out to take care of some mysterious deaths in Louisiana. You and Sam were going to stay behind with Pastor Jim. But you walked out to the car, letter in hand, and told Dad your news.

He smiled and, to your surprise, headed towards the passenger's side and tossed you the keys.

He never said the words, but looking back now, you wonder if that was his way of saying that he was proud of you.

you don't know what we can see, why don't you tell your dreams to me?

You spent the next few years honing your hunting skills. And, of course, you watched out for Sam, just like you always had. Even after you were finished with high school, Sam had another six or so years left.

You knew your brother well enough to know that he'd never take the path you did, never take the GED to skip over whatever school he had left. With Sam's brains, if he wanted to, he probably could have passed the damn test in the sixth grade at the same time you took it. But those same brains made Sam into a world-class nerd, the sort of guy who – crazily enough – actually enjoyed and took more classes and credits than he needed because he wanted to.

Fun is what Sam called it. You thought "crazy" was a much more appropriate term.

But, still, even with your differences, you loved your brother, and you loved watching him mature as a hunter once he hit high school and his growth spurt. It was definitely strange to watch your younger and once little brother grow and grow and grow to the point where, for the first time in the history of ever, he had you looking up to look him in the eyes.

Not that it changed anything, not really. Plus, when Sam first started growing so quickly, it took him time to get used to his new, taller self. You didn't do anything – well, not much at least – but youwere his brother. If you didn't take advantage of such an opportunity, you wouldn't have been doing your job, right?

The one time, all you did was buy him a nice big pair of shoes – one that would be sure to fit his ever lengthening feet. Yeah, they were bright red. And shiny. And could have easily been mistaken for clown's shoes, but you just wanted to help him, really. His irrational fear of clowns hadn't even crossed your mind. Honest.

Of course, he ruined your fun when he dressed up as a clown for the following Halloween, which made the gift a lot less funny.

All brotherly pranking aside, you were looking forward to his high school graduation. Once you were both done with school, you could probably persuade Dad to let the two of you head off on some hunts of your own occasionally. You were checking out some used classic cars in the months before Sam's graduation. Once you had enough money, you were going to buy one and work on it until it was a muscle car as well-suited to hunting as the Impala.

It wouldn't be the Impala – no car could ever match her, not even close. But it would definitely be better than that station wagon Bobby had offered you. You hoped that Bobby wasn't serious about you driving that tin can because no self-respecting hunter would drive that sort of trash heap to a job. Not that the variety of demons and spirits that you hunted would notice. But you'd know, you'd care.

And you knew it could make all the difference.

you pretend it doesn't bother you, but you just want to explode

A few weeks before Sam was set to graduate, he pulled you aside and told you something that would change everything. He'd been offered a full ride to Stanford and would be starting college in the fall. He wasn't going to tell Dad – not yet. He knew he'd be pissed, to say the least. But when he got his financial aid award letter in the mail, he knew that this was what he wanted to do, and he had to tellsomeone.

You really wished he'd picked anyone but you.

You told him that you were happy – even though you weren't, not really. This wasn't what you'd wanted; this wasn't what you were planning on. But if it made Sam happy that was all that mattered in the end.

As soon as you could escape from the lies that threatened to strangle you, you headed for the only place that really felt like home. You took the Impala, rode her hard, drove her fast. You needed to feel that speed and exhilaration, needed to get your heart racing. You needed something, anything, to clear your head and let you forget, even for a minute, that the future you were looking forward to would likely never be.

Sam was one of those geeks who liked school so much that a simple degree wouldn't be enough. When he graduated from Stanford with all the honors they would toss his way, he'd go on to med school or law school or …whatever. Sam would have his career and his picture-perfect family and his fucking wonderful life.

Underneath it all, you were happy for your brother. Really, you were. It was just that right then, your disappointment was impossible to tamp down, so you purged it from your system the only way you knew how.

You still had your car. She might not technically be yours, not then, not yet, but you could pretend she was, for at least a little while.

Sam might be leaving you behind, but at least you and the Impala were leaving everyone else in your dust.

all my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity, dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind

After a few more months of hunting and exorcising and hell-raising, Sam finally told Dad his big news, which resulted in the biggest shouting match you'd ever had to referee.

Dad and Sam never really saw eye to eye, and on an average day, they definitely argued more than you would have liked. As much as they shouted and screamed at each other, you knew that when the day was over, things would go on like they always did.

You knew in your heart that wouldn't be the case this time.

It sucked. A lot. The two people you loved most in the world started the argument with their tempers barely restrained, and they nearly came to blows more times than you could count.

It didn't end well. Of course, you knew – ever since Sam had told you – that it wouldn't end well, that it couldn't end well. Didn't stop you from hoping, but that hadn't stopped your father and brother from breaking your family into two jagged pieces.

Sam left before the sun rose, and nothing cut deeper than when you woke and discovered your brother's bed empty. You still loved him, even now, but he'd left without a word. It hurt more than you wanted to admit.

Over breakfast, Dad told you that he had a job for you. Just for you. There was too much to do – too many demons and spirits to vanquish and not enough time. You were excited, to say the least. This was a first for you, and you were proud that Dad trusted you enough to send you off hunting on your own.

He told you that if you were going to be working your own jobs, you'd need your own set of wheels. He slid a set of keys across the breakfast table, and you could hardly believe your eyes.

They were The Keys. The only ones that had ever mattered.

Dad was giving you the Impala.

He said that Bobby had found this great truck for him, so the Impala was yours.

Yours.

Never before or since had anything felt so right.

Once you got the background on your job, you headed out to your baby. As you slid into the front seat, it just felt right, like it had been meant to be from the start.

You were working jobs on your own – without Dad, without Sam. But, still, you weren't alone, not really. You had the Impala. And that's what mattered.

i got nine lives, cat's eyes, abusin' every one of them and running wild

You worked a lot of jobs over the next few years. The first few were ones that Dad sent you on. After that, you did your own research and mostly found your own jobs.

After jobs were done, and of course, before jobs really got started, you'd check out the local nightlife. Bars were great places to find people who knew the recently deceased and who could have their tongues loosened by alcohol. Great places to find out more about whatever supernatural creature you were up against.

Of course, they were also great places to find willing women with gorgeous bodies.

You were able to charm a number of women into letting you at least drive them home, and there was more than one occasion where the Impala sealed the deal for you. Not that you had sex in the car. You loved the Impala too much for that. She was as much a part of your family as Sam was, and she deserved better than that.

But her spit-shine exterior and soft leather seats had prompted more than a few lovely ladies to invite you in for a drink. Being a gentleman, of course, you were more than willing to spend more time in their company before heading home. The fact that those drinks often led to a bit of mattress dancing? Just made things even better.

come on, let's see what you've got, just take your best shot and don't blow it

When you went to find Sam, after Dad disappeared, you half-expected him to throw you out. No matter how close you'd once been, years of not speaking had been tough for the both of you.

Before you headed up to his apartment, you sat outside his place, second-guessing your decision to come to Palo Alto. Sam had a life now. He was happy now. Even if he was happy to see you, you shouldn't be interfering with that.

But he was your brother, and you missed him. And you weren't sure that you could find Dad alone.

Yeah, by this point, you were as skilled a hunter as most anyone. You'd had plenty of practice, after all, since you'd been hunting on your own for the past few years. But Sam was always the better researcher, and when it came to finding Dad, you wanted to have every tool at your disposal.

Mistakes on the average job weren't the end of the world. Sure, they hurt your ego and probably put more people in danger – but when it came down to it, you closed the deal in the end.

On this job, though? A mistake could mean Dad's life or soul, if not both. It wasn't worth the risk, so there you were, in Yuppie Town, USA, trying to figure out how to persuade Sam to help you out.

If he said no, told you to get lost and leave him alone, you would've gone on and done the job yourself. You had to find Dad. You wouldn't let your family be decimated any further. You wouldn't have had Sam, but at least you would have had the Impala.

It worked out in the end, with you driving out and Sam riding shotgun, and it was better than you dared to hope. The situation wasn't perfect – not by a long shot – but it was as close as you'd come to what you dreamed of when Sam was in high school.

It was better in some ways – you had the Impala, for one. But in most ways, it wasn't. Dad was missing, not that Sam really wanted to speak with him anyhow, and Sam was different.

But you had your brother and your car, and even if Sam bailed within a week, it was something. If you spent the rest of your days hunting solo, at least you'd still have the Impala and the memories.

you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you might find you get what you need

Right after Dad died, Sam shot down every suggestion you had for a job until he was satisfied you were well enough to handle it. It was an absolute pain in the ass to have your younger brother – who you had spent your life looking out for – trying to limit what you could do.

Ever since you woke up in the hospital, you'd felt fine. You knew you were totally healthy. Dad's stupid deal had taken care of that.

You wanted to go on with your life, to start hunting again. Dad had traded his life for your own, his soul for your own, for a reason. This reason. You had a job to do, but Sam wouldn't hear of it.

So instead you focused on your car, glad at least that Sam had kept Bobby from scrapping her while you weren't able to protect your baby.

Working on her wasn't anything you hadn't done before. Dad spent plenty of time over the years making sure you knew how to fix her when you had to. But it was good work, repetitive work. You could concentrate on her rather than thinking about everything that had happened over the last few days.

Besides, you'd need a car whenever Sam finally agreed to let you start hunting again. You figured you could probably persuade Bobby to part with his truck or something if you found a job, but it would feel good to have your baby in working order again.

Dad was gone, and he wouldn't be coming back. That much was a given. But once you had the Impala going again, it would be like a part of Dad was still with you.

in the end you've got to go, look before you leap and don't you hesitate at all

Long after you'd sent the yellow-eyed demon back to hell, you and Sam were speeding down a backroads highway, evading Hendrickson the best you could.

It was then that the unexpected happened.

The Impala sputtered and coughed and groaned its way forward until you found a gas station where you could pull her over and have a closer look.

The good news was that it was fixable and wouldn't be too expensive.

The bad news was that it would take time. Time which, as Sam none too subtly reminded you, you didn't really have with the Feds on your tail. Sam wanted to leave her there, in Bedrock, Colorado, and just snag another ride to get you out of town.

With a simple look, you made it clear that there was no way in hell that was even an option.

Sam quickly amended his suggestion, offering to call Bobby and have him come and pick up the Impala. Then you could fix it later.

Looking at your brother, you knew that he didn't understand and never would understand exactly what the Impala meant to you.

She was always there when everyone else had left you far behind. She'd been there when there hadn't been anyone else you could count on. She'd been there from the start, and if you had anything to say about it, she'd be there until the day you died.

Sam could and probably should hotwire a car – if only to get the hell out of there and save himself. No reason for both of you to risk yourselves when there was still so much hunting left to be done.

She stuck by you, through good times and bad. You couldn't count the number of times when she'd run longer than she should have on a near-empty tank of gas. And she was always reliable when it came to outrunning the authorities if you wore out your welcome in a town earlier than anticipated.

Everyone made mistakes. No one was perfect – and, unsurprisingly, you most definitely fit those criteria.

One thing you prided yourself on, though, was your loyalty to your family and your friends. With all the time you spent in the Impala over the years – behind the wheel or riding shotgun – and with all the times she refused to let you down, she was family. You took care of her and watched out for her like you did Sam, but you also expected her to hold her own on occasion.

She wasn't perfect, but she was damn near close. And just because she'd come down with the car equivalent of the stomach flu didn't mean that you were going to leave her behind.

There are few constants in this life. People talk about how "death and taxes" are the only things that never change, and yet others toss in change as a paradoxical constant.

For you, at least, there's one more thing you'd add to that list.

Your beloved Impala, in all her glory, was always there for you. And now, even though it made things more difficult, you weren't about to give up on her.

empty spaces - what are we living for? abandoned places - i guess we know the score, on and on, does anybody know what we are looking for

The years passed, and you kept doing what you did best. You killed monsters, exorcised demons, and saved as many people as you could.

Somewhere along the way, Sam met a nice girl and settled down. He would still hunt with you now and again – particularly for jobs where you knew you might need a little help. He was happy with his family, and while you missed your brother, all you really wanted was for him to be happy. Besides, you had your Impala, so it wasn't like you were alone, not really.

Finally, a job came along that was more than you'd expected. It was just a vengeful spirit, so it shouldn't have been that difficult to kill. It wasn't like it was anything you hadn't done on your own dozens of times before.

But you were older now, a step slower than you'd once been. And this was one really pissed-off spirit.

You finished the job in the end, doing what you came to do. However, you weren't able to escape without suffering some serious injuries of your own.

You limped your way out of the haunted forest and fought for each breath as you worked your way up to where you'd parked the Impala. With one hand at your side stemming the flow of blood, you opened the door and eased yourself inside.

This was definitely not looking good.

As you reached for the first aid kid to begin to work at patching yourself up, you can't help but think back to that first time you drove the Impala, all those years ago. Looking at your cuts and abrasions and blood-stained clothes, you know you're in about the same shape Dad was then. You might not have had a piece of bone sticking out your leg – luckily – but you were pretty sure from the way that spirit was throwing you around, you'd gotten at least a few broken ribs for your trouble.

However, unlike that time so many years ago, you didn't have anyone riding shotgun that could help you out. What's more, you were miles from anywhere, and you didn't think you'd be coherent for much longer. You could try to call for help, but it could be awhile before anyone got to you.

Calling Sam crossed your mind. You knew he'd come without a second thought, even though it was the middle of the night and Megan was ready to deliver their third child in a matter of days. He belonged there with her; he shouldn't be wasting his time speeding to reach you when his family needed him.

You'd fix yourself up the best you could and hope that would be enough. You didn't want to be in a hospital, with wires and tubes everywhere, and you definitely didn't want things to end in a place like that.

You always imagined things ending like this. To be honest, this was about what you figured it would be like in the end, anyhow. This way, you'd be leaving on your own terms, which is more than most hunters were able to claim.

If this was it, you would be satisfied. You'd already outlived your dad and more of your fellow hunters than you'd care to count. Sammy was happy, and you still had your car.

It wasn't what most people would dream of, but for you, it was enough.

i finally see the dawn arriving, i see beyond the road i'm driving, far away and left behind

FIN

Song list -
"The Wind Cries Mary" by Jimi Hendrix
"What Is and Never Should Be" by Led Zeppelin
"Learning to Fly" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
"Time" by Pink Floyd
"Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf
"Turn the Page" by Metallica
"Dust in the Wind" by Kansas
"Back in Black" by AC/DC
"Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)" by Styx
"You Can't Always Get What You Want" by The Rolling Stones
"Owner of a Lonely Heart" by Yes
"The Show Must Go On" by Queen
"Don't Look Back" by Boston