Warnings/Rating: SPOILERS FOR 5.10, GEN, PG.
Disclaimer: Not mine. *sigh*
A/N: Primarily humor. Not happy with it, but here's my take on that particular missing scene which I'm certain has a thousand iterations out there already, although I haven't seen any. This would have been up 2 weeks ago but the bunny decided it wanted to have a point and then wouldn't tell me what the point was. This may get edited later.
Rituals of the Road
"We're stopping for coffee," said Ellen's tinny voice. "This is non-negotiable."
The sun still hadn't risen and wouldn't for a couple hours at this time of year. They had left Bobby's place before dawn; Bobby in his chair on the porch, backlit by the light from inside as he watched them go. The Impala and the Harvelles' Wagoneer had been gassed up and packed the night before. Castiel had not wanted to tip off what or whoever awaited them in Carthage by teleporting in, and decided to ride with the Harvelles. With luck they'd be in Carthage an hour or so before dark, allowing for one stop for gas.
Sam, still holding his cell phone to his ear, turned to Dean. "They want to stop for coffee."
Dean scowled at the road. "We don't have time."
Sam did a double-take.
"We don't have time, Sam."
"Now look," said Ellen on the phone. "We've all had a maximum of four hours sleep here, and I don't know about you boys, but I'm not facing down Satan without coffee."
Sam looked over at his brother. "Dean needs coffee too. He won't admit it but he's barely a step above zombie right now."
"He's miserable." Sam raised an eyebrow, inviting Dean to dispute a concrete fact.
"Fine." Dean growled. "We'll hit a drive-through before we get on the highway. We're burning daylight here."
Sam refrained from pointing out that the sun wasn't even up yet and relayed the plan to Ellen.
Dean eased the Impala onto the I-90 heading east. The highway would be faster than the backroads for another hour or two; after that the morning commuters would take it over and their little two-vehicle convoy would switch to the lesser used, less straight roads again. Sam rummaged through the drive-through bag.
"This isn't ours. There's some kind of omelet thing on a whole wheat bagel, a muffin and this-" said Sam, holding a colorful cup of something.
"What the hell is that?"
"Uh." Sam read the label. "Fruit and yogurt parfait."
Dean grunted. "Didn't even know they sold crap like that. It's not deep-fried. You sure it's not yours?"
Sam cast a sour look at his brother while returning the yogurt to the bag.
Dean's phone started to ring. "Just checking," he said as he fished it out and answered. "Yeah?"
The sound of rustling paper carried over the phone. "I got one instant coronary on a bun with extra bacon and a foam thing full of flapjacks back here, that sound like yours?"
Dean rolled his eyes. "Yep. Figures, they swapped the orders. Drive-throughs suck."
"At least they didn't screw up the coffee. Pull over, we'll switch back."
Dean scowled out the windshield at the empty highway whipping past. "We have to make as much time as we can here, you know that. We aren't stopping again until we need gas."
"I'm not eating this thing, the wrapper's turning transparent from the grease." In the background Jo threatened bodily injury to anyone touching her yogurt. The angel in their backseat of course, was silent.
Dean had a thought. "Hey, see if Cas will bring it up and we'll send yours back."
"...He can do that? Jump between moving cars?"
Dean shrugged. "Sure? I guess. I dunno, ask him."
Muttering and rustling noises came from the phone. "Okay he's-"
Castiel was in the back seat of the Impala with a fast food bag.
"Wow," said Ellen.
"Angel. He's awesome like that." Dean nodded at the rearview mirror with a quick smile.
Castiel handed the grease-spotted bag to Sam.
"Thanks Cas," said Sam, handing over the bag for the other vehicle in return.
Castiel gravely accepted the bag. "The breaking of fasts with one's allies on the morning of battle has been an important ritual throughout human history."
A brief silence fell in the Impala. "Um... yeah."
Castiel nodded and disappeared.
"Cheery bastard," Dean muttered.
"Oh, that's just cool." Jo's voice said in the background as Dean closed his phone, ending the call.
The sudden occurrence of angel in the back seat did not make Dean jump. Sam twitched, but didn't otherwise react either. Amazing what you can get used to. Dean flicked his eyes up to the rearview mirror. "What?"
Castiel met Dean's gaze intently. "There are currently ninety-two bottles of beer on the wall."
"What?" Dean and Sam said simultaneously.
"Ellen and Jo are singing about this. The number of bottles seems to be of some significance that I cannot ascertain, and I-"
"Cas," Dean interrupted.
The angel blinked. "Yes?"
"It's nothing. A song to pass the time on long drives."
"Ah. A form of ritual chant."
Sam emitted a strangled snort and covered his mouth.
Dean frowned over at his brother. "Not a ritual anything, just a stupid annoying song. Nothing of any significance."
Castiel tilted his head and disappeared again.
In the passenger seat Sam was unsuccessfully hiding a smirk.
"Nothing." Sam looked out the windshield with deliberate blandness, ruffling his hair with one hand, the corner of his mouth still twitching upward.
We're going to fight Lucifer and Sam is smirking. Sam could die, worse than die. Dean clenched his jaw and looked in the side-mirror to see Ellen grinning and Jo turned half-around in her seat, straightening Castiel's tie. All of us could die today and they're all playing stupid games and screwing around.
About an hour later, Sam was half-dozing in the passenger seat, leaving Dean to focus on the road. The strains of one of Metallica's less loud ballads rose from the tape deck. Traffic was starting to show up on the dim highway as the sun began filtering into the sky.
Gonna have to get off the highway in another half-hour if we want to keep making good time. He checked the rearview mirror, shoulder-checked and threaded past a semi and a VW Beetle belching blue smoke.
Dean didn't even have time to register the faint fluttering noise in the back seat before something smacked him hard in the shoulder.
"Ow!" Dean shouted, startled, reflexively jerking the steering wheel and causing the Impala to sashay around in its lane.
"What the-!" Sam shouted in alarm, waking from his light doze with a flail.
Dean glanced up at the rearview mirror again to see a slightly more wide-eyed than usual Castiel. "Cas, what the hell!"
Castiel's voice was solemn and dire. "Jo says 'Punch Buggy'."
In the passenger seat, Sam nearly hit his head on the dashboard as he doubled over laughing.
"I didn't intend to injure you." Castiel's brow drew down slightly. "Jo said this is a ritual of travel by automobile."
Dean ignored the whoops of laughter coming from the passenger seat, shooting a glare sideways at his brother before meeting Castiel's earnest gaze in the mirror.
"It didn't hurt. It was just a surprise." He dug his phone out of his pocket and hit redial.
"Harvelle-mobile, Ellen speaking."
"Will you guys quit screwing around?" growled Dean.
"Why, I have no idea what on Earth you're talking about, Dean," Ellen said, her offended tone offset by the distinct smile in her voice.
Dean heard Jo snort in the background and rolled his eyes in frustration. "Pass me to Jo."
Jo nearly managed to suppress her giggle as she took the phone. "Helloooooo?"
"Stop messing with Castiel! He's an angel, not a freaking toy!"
"You're just jealous because you didn't think of it first," Jo sassed back.
...Okay, yeah, maybe. Dean shook his head, frowning. "No, just stop it, alright?"
"He doesn't mind, Dean. If he did he wouldn't do it."
"That's not the point. It's..." Making an exasperated noise, Dean disconnected the call. He looked in the mirror at Castiel again.
The angel was alert and observant, watching Sam laugh. The slight tension at the edge of Castiel's mouth and the angle of his eyebrows was almost unnoticeable, but on the angel's face, it was kin to a broad smile. Castiel knew he was in on a joke of some kind, even if he might not be certain what it was, and he knew it was entertaining the humans.
I don't know why he's going along with this crap. He knows exactly how screwed we are and said as much last night. Plus he's used to going into battle with a garrison of freaking angels at his side, not a bunch of humans. None of us are used to going one on one with Lucifer.
Dean remembered going on hunts years ago with Dad and Caleb, swapping jokes on the road. Stupid stuff, but they'd all laughed, fending off nerves, cutting the tension before it could build and make them jittery and sloppy.
Maybe angels do the same thing, have things they do when heading out to smite things. They had to find out Uriel was the funniest angel in the garrison somehow.
Sam was winding down to the occasional snicker. Dean watched his brother rub his eyes and smile.
If this is some of the last time we all spend together, being goofballs and making each other laugh is a far cry from being a waste of that time.
Dean deliberately shoved his phone into a pocket. "Hey Cas? Tell Ellen and Jo to take the off-ramp just outside of Presho. The 183 south."
"One Eighty Three South," Castiel repeated.
About fifteen minutes later, just before the turn-off at Presho, Castiel appeared in the back seat again and said without preamble: "Ellen says the ritual of 'The Song That Never Ends' ends when she says it does. Is this true?"
Sam snickered. Dean glanced in the side-mirror. Ellen was mock-glaring, shaking a fist out the window; Jo was tilting sideways against the passenger-side door, laughing.
Settling a serious expression on his face, Dean said, "Yeah, that's a loophole in that particular ritual I forgot to mention. 'Thou shalt not piss off the driver'."
Sam cackled. "Yeah, Dad always really stressed that part."
"I'll make note of that." Castiel's eyes twinkled before he disappeared back to the Harvelle's vehicle.
Dean grinned as their small convoy turned off the highway, heading south toward Carthage.
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