A/N: This is another one-shot in the Prologue 'verse. This one takes place between Chapters 17 and 18 in "Past is Prologue," while Dean is still trying to adjust to having new siblings. No real plot here--just some brother-sister bonding that came to me one afternoon. I totally didn't have this beta-ed, so any mistakes are my own.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything that Kripke came up with. All of his ideas are still his, and I only own that which I came up with.
The Care and Maintenance of Baby
"Dean, take it easy, you hear me? I don't want you overdoing it," John called from the porch of Pastor Jim's house, and even without looking, Dean knew his father was watching him limp around to the trunk of the car.
In lieu of a reply, he simply nodded in his father's general direction, not really answering as he pulled the Impala's cleaning supplies out of the trunk and set them down on the grass. He wasn't long out of the hospital, but he'd reached the point where he couldn't take being cooped up inside with everyone any longer. After two days, he'd finally made his escape outside. Granted, his dad had followed him out, but just being outdoors was a blessed relief. After spending his entire childhood on the road, moving from place to place, never settling down, staying put for long was suffocating.
"You want some help?" his father asked, poised on the edge of the steps as he waited for Dean to answer. But Dean shook his head, preferring some distance from his father at the moment. They'd been in close quarters for too long, and it was starting to just feel stifling.
Too many people around. Too many siblings. Too much pressure to get along. Too much pressure to talk.
He'd managed to force out a few words here and there, but it wasn't exactly easy at the moment. Things were different now, and Dean had never handled changes to the family well. He'd been around the twins quite a bit over the past few days, sure, but mostly he just felt weird around them, like he wasn't sure what to do with them. So more often than not, he just avoided Aubrey and Braden. And his dad, too, because he could tell that his old man desperately wanted him to talk, and right then, talking was still just too damn hard.
"Alright," John said softly. "But if you change your mind, let me know," he said with a sigh, settling into one of Jim's rocking chairs with a newspaper and a pen. Dean sighed, nodding minutely before he turned back to the car.
Baby's looking rough. How long's it been since I cleaned her?
Too long, he decided. He had just scrounged up an old five-gallon paint bucket and set it beside his car-washing supplies when he sensed movement out of the corner of his eye.
He glanced up from where he was standing in front of the row of car cleaning products he'd so neatly arrayed on the grass to see Aubrey peering at him from around the corner of Pastor Jim's house. She caught him watching, ducking back before peering around at him once again. Dean shrugged, turning his attention back to the task at hand, not looking up as she finally got up the courage to approach him.
"Whatcha doin', Dean?" she asked hesitantly as she finally stood at his shoulder.
"Cleaning Baby," he replied, selecting the Armor-All and grabbing an old, torn-up t-shirt to start cleaning the rampant dust that had collected on the dash.
"You mean the car?"
"Yeah," he murmured, limping over to the Impala, and settling sideways into the front seat, his legs arrayed outside the car.
"Oh," she asked, watching him squeeze the Armor-All onto the t-shirt and begin to wipe down the dashboard. "Can I help?"
Dean considered, his gaze darting from Aubrey to Baby and back.
"Not with this. You can get the trash. If you want."
"Okay!" she said excitedly, running back inside to fetch a bag.
Dude, seriously? She's that excited about cleaning shit outta the car?
As he ran the cloth lovingly over the steering wheel, Aubrey reappeared and hit the interior like a whirlwind, happily scooping up crumbs, food wrappers, and stray pieces of the random accumulated junk that always seemed to collect in the backseat.
"Oops," she murmured suddenly, and Dean froze.
"What?!" Dean demanded, his head shooting up to see Aubrey staring sheepishly back at him.
She's just getting trash up—how the hell could she screw that up?
"We thought we got 'em all."
"Got all of what?"
"Our crayons," she mumbled.
"Dean!" John called out from the door of the house. "Language!"
You let them color with fucking Crayons in my backseat, Dad! What the hell?!
"Get 'em out," Dean growled at her, furious with his father for letting them use crayons in the first place, and angry at his new siblings for daring to leave them in the seat to melt.
"We're sorry, Dean—we didn't mean to," she told him earnestly, scrambling to pick up all the crayons and melted bits. "We thought we got 'em all," she repeated.
"Rule number one: no crayons."
"Daddy let us," she argued petulantly, but Dean leveled a dark look at her.
"'s not Dad's car. 's mine. No crayons."
"But I like to color, and I get bored in the car!" she protested, her voice rising into a whiny pitch that Dean was sure only girls and dolphins were capable of emitting.
"So use colored pencils," he told her unsympathetically.
"But colored pencils don't do good in coloring books…Oh, I know! What about markers?!" she asked, her eyes lighting up with the new idea.
"Well, then, there's nothing else to color with!"
She pouted, but this time, Dean had no trouble ignoring her, because let's face it—not much comes before Baby. Twenty minutes later, he'd cleaned the windshields and the windows with the window-cleaner and he slowly backed out of the car with a sigh of relief, glad to get rid of the pressure on his knee and the pulling in his side that resulted from the awkward position he'd been in.
"Yeah?" John called back.
"Need to...gonna go...vacuum," he told his father, hating himself for the halting manner in which the words stumbled from his mouth whenever he spoke to the older man.
"Oh, I wanna go!" Aubrey piped up excitedly, jumping up from where she'd been drawing in the dirt a few feet away as he pulled his keys out of his pocket. "Can I go, Dean?! Please! I'll be good and I won't get on your nerves, promise!"
"If Dad says okay," Dean mumbled, not really wanting to take her but not knowing a good enough excuse to get out of it.
"Daddy, can I go with D?"
"If he says you can," John replied, casting a sad smile at Dean before dropping his gaze back to his newspaper.
"Yay!" Aubrey said, running for the passenger side door and hopping onto the front seat.
With a sigh, Dean carefully slid into seat, starting the car without a word as Aubrey bounced happily in the seat beside him.
"Don't put your feet in the seat," he mumbled, and she immediately stilled, making a show of keeping her feet off the seat.
"After you vacuum, can I help wash the car, D?"
Because you don't know what the hell you're doing, and I don't want my baby lookin' like she got a piss-poor wash from some bitch-ass moron at one of those stupid car-wash joints.
"You don't know how," he told her instead.
"Oh…well…you could show me," she offered.
Dean grunted noncommittally, not all that eager to take her up on the offer. His lack of an answer didn't seem to bother her though, as she continued to chatter at him.
"I've never washed a car before," she told him. "Mama always lets the church youth group do it when they have car washes in the church parking lot. Or sometimes, she'll go to the Methodist Church where the Boy Scouts have car washes on the weekends sometimes. Mama's real good at finding car-washes—she don't like to do it herself. Are we gonna find people to wash the car for us, D?"
"I don't let other people wash Baby."
"Baby's a good car—she's taken care of us for a long time. I'm not lettin' some dick with a sponge leave streaks all over her. I want it done right, so I do it myself."
"Oh. Then, are we gonna go through the drive-thru car-wash at the gas station, D?"
"I like those—it feels like the car's movin', even though it's not, and it sounds like it's rainin' real hard on the top of your car."
Dean pulled up next to one of the heavy-duty car vacs, and turned the car off, pulling quarters out of his pocket.
Aubrey was surprisingly patient, watching good-naturedly while he vacuumed out the car, alternately walking the lines of the sidewalk like a tightrope walker and peering around him to point out places he'd missed.
"You missed a spot," she told him, pointing towards a spot just under the seats helpfully. With a sigh, Dean leaned forward, jerking back with a hiss as the stitches in his side pulled painfully. "Wha's wrong?"
"Nothin'," Dean mumbled, eyeing the spot with a glare.
"I'll get it," Aubrey chirped, and before he could protest, she was taking the vacuum hose out of his hand and making quick work of sucking up the debris. "Ooh, D, can I do the rest of the hard-to-get-to spots? Please! I'll be careful, and I won't suck up anything I'm not s'posed to!"
Sure. Why the hell not?
"Yeah, I guess. Floorboards first," he said with a shrug, and with an excited squeal, Aubrey hit the interior with a vengeance, sucking up every stray bit of crumbs or trash she could see in the floorboards.
She was just getting to the seats when the timer buzzed and the vacuum shut off. Dean dug into his pocket, only to curse when he saw he was fifty cents short.
"Dammit," he grumbled.
Thought I had enough with me.
"What's wrong? How come it shut off?"
"We need to put more money in. I only have fifty cents—thought I had more."
"So we can't finish?" she asked, her face falling.
"Looks that way."
I'll hafta fucking ask Dad for more quarters. Or go without.
And that's when Aubrey started crying, tears rolling down her face pitifully as she began to sob incoherently into the front of his shirt, still holding the vacuum hose.
Ah shit, now what? Girls oughta come with a damn manual—I mean, seriously. Is she crying over a fuckin' car vac?
"Oh, is everything alright?"
Dean looked up to see a woman Dean immediately labeled as a mother-type gazing down at Aubrey with a concerned expression.
"She's upset," Dean mumbled awkwardly, rubbing her back a bit clumsily in a bid to calm her.
"What happened?" the woman asked, and Dean was trying to figure out how to answer when Aubrey turned to the woman tearfully.
"We was cleaning Baby—that's my brother's car and he loves her a lot—but the vacuum shut off on us and we don't got enough quarters to finish!" Aubrey sobbed pitifully. "And now Baby's not gonna get clean, and she's been waitin' a long time! Me and my other brothers made her all messy and Dean wanted to make her all pretty again, and she's been real good to us, and it ain't fair that she has to stay dirty!"
"Oh, you poor thing," the woman cooed, sweet enough to make Dean's teeth ache in response. "How many quarters did you need, sweetheart?"
Dude, no way…
"Just two. We was so close to having enough, too!"
"Well, I just happen to have a few extra quarters—if I gave you two of them, do you think you could smile for me?" she asked kindly.
"Really? You'd just give us quarters so we could finish cleaning Baby?"
"If you can put a smile on that pretty face of yours, I sure will," the woman told her with a smile of her own.
Aubrey sniffled, wiping at her nose with her sleeve before aiming a watery smile at the woman, and without further ado, the woman pulled two quarters out of her pocket and handed them to Aubrey while Dean looked on with disbelief.
"Thank you, ma'am," Aubrey said, her Southern accent thick and drawling as the woman gave them a parting wave and walked away. As soon as her back was turned, Aubrey looked up at Dean with a mischievous smile, all trace of tears gone.
"Can I put the quarters in, D?"
What the f—
"Aubrey, did you just play her?" he asked incredulously.
"Was all that an act to get her money?"
"Maybe," she said evasively, staring at him in a way that told Dean she was probably trying to figure out how he was going to react.
"Okay, yes!" she replied exasperatedly, throwing her hands up. "And maybe I shouldn't have, but I got us the—"
"Dude," he said, cutting her off mid-sentence. "That was…that was awesome," Dean said with a smile.
She paused, looking up at him speculatively, the quarters still held tightly in her hand.
"Hell yeah. You just conned some lady outta money for my baby—that's fucking awesome."
She beamed at him, hugging him quickly before holding out her hand for Dean's quarters. With a grin of his own, Dean pulled out his two quarters and passed them to her, watching her hop over to put the money into the machine.
"Dean, when we finish vacuuming Baby, are we gonna go back to Pastor Jim's to wash her?"
"Can I help with that, too, even though I don't know how?"
"Yeah," he told her, surprised to find that he meant it. "I'll teach you."
Maybe this whole sister thing is gonna work out after all…he thought, his mind already conjuring up ways to put his sister's crying talents to good use. Oh heck yeah.