Gleaming Black, Shining Chrome and Winchester Blood by 9091

(This is based off my head-canon for the following prompt: What does the Impala smell like?)

If anyone else owned the Impala, she would smell like sweat and stale fast food.

But it was Dean Winchester who owned the Impala. Sam would argue that they both owned her, but it was Dean's name on the pink slip. Dean's baby. Sam enjoyed having the argument though.

Dean wouldn't deny that it got ripe in there sometimes. Like when they'd been between pool games, poker winnings and fake plastic for motels, living in the damn thing for three, four or five days at a time.

"I get the back," Dean would always say.

Sam pushed his hair off his face in exasperation. "Dude. Look at me. I need the backseat more than you. Look at my legs."

"Shut up," Dean groused. "You're not that much taller."

"But my legs are longer!"

"I sleep bigger." Dean instantly felt stupid for saying it like that, but it was true. Sam, once he fell asleep, would occupy the same third of the bed, like a lump, until morning. Dean would try to take up as much of the bed's real estate as he could, arms and legs splayed everywhere, blanket knocked off on the floor, pillow nowhere near his head. When they'd had to share a bed, Sam woke up more often than not with Dean's hand pushed into part of his face. He had learned quickly to sleep with his back to Dean so he didn't get a hard knee to the groin if Dean was having a bad dream.

Sam liked to say that Dean slept the way he did everything else. Dean wasn't entirely sure what he meant by that. It was probably some kind of insult. Like what? Badly? Messy? He just glared at Sam and didn't ask.

Dean held his fist to his stomach. It was rock, paper, scissors time.

"Dean, why do you even bother? You're going to play scissors. You're going to lose. And I'll get the back."

"You don't know what I'm going to play," Dean said sullenly.

"Dude, in your entire life, you have never not played scissors. That time when your index finger was broken, you still played scissors. The time when you were in traction, you called out scissors. You have some kind of scissor fetish, and I don't understand it, but you're going to lose."

Dean put his elbow on the trunk, hand up. "Arm wrestling, then."

This was the better choice. Sometimes Dean won at arm wrestling just fine; it was about 50/50 really. Sam didn't know why they didn't just arm wrestle for everything.

On a fourth consecutive day living in the Impala, the "no burritos for Sam" rule went into effect. Especially if it was raining, and they couldn't have the windows down. When Sam was forced to eat like Dean on the road, due to the options available in dead-end towns and truck stops, his system turned the food directly into methane. It was disgusting. For some reason, this only happened to Dean when he accidentally ate a vegetable.

When Sam bitched about Dean's extra onions, he didn't mean the smell. He meant the way Dean insisted on all the windows being cranked down so the smell didn't stay in the car. This was fine for Dean, but it blew Sam's hair all around and made him feel ridiculous. Dean would treat this as the evening's entertainment.

After five days on the road, Dean looked at the wrappers and greasy fast food bags and simply couldn't handle it anymore. He started looking at every sign they could see on the road, looking for any fill-up joint that might have a car wash. One of those real self-serve car washes, with hoses, brushes and towels. He didn't trust anyone else with her. After one of those big automatic brush contraptions bent the passenger side mirror, he swore he would never put baby through that again.

After he was done hosing her down, spraying the wheels and making sure the undercarriage was clean, he eased her over to one of those huge industrial vacs and puts some quarters in. If they were in a rush, he'd let her wind-dry sometimes (worrying about rust the whole time). But time permitting, he grabbed a couple of towels and wiped her down himself, catching any spots he missed with the water and foam. Especially around the windows where water tended to slip in through the aging weatherproofing.

Sam would just watch him buff the Impala in focused circles. It was a look Sam associated with... other things, with his mouth set in a serious expression, but his eyes soft and kind of... flirtacious. "This makes me uncomfortable. Would you and the car like to be alone?"

Dean always ignored this, because very time, he was checking to see if she was tilting to the right, due to Sam's hugeness. She never was, but he wasn't going to stop checking.

Sam once played a prank where he paid a guy in a diner $10 to come outside and ask Dean why the car was leaning to the right. Dean came unspooled. It was hysterical.

"You're sitting in the back!" Dean growled.

Sam laughed. "Do you think the car's going to correct the tilt in the other direction? Seriously?"

"No, I just don't want you where I can punch you."

After a couple of days, Sam got annoyed and 'fessed up. But here was Dean, still checking for tilt.

When the doors opened after a night of being closed up, the smell that would drift out was of a scrupulously-tended leather interior. Dean used something called Lexol on the seats every couple of months just like dad did. Sam hated the smell and would complain, but Dean was used to it. After a few days with the windows down, it wasn't even obvious anymore.

Every now and then, Sam passive-aggressively bought one of those pine-tree shaped air fresheners to make a point. Dean would give him a steely-eyed look that could heat-blast sand into glass before snapping the string on it. He'd bitch about still being able to smell pine for two days later. Fake, chemical pine.

Mostly, she smelled like Dean. Or Dean's smell, which Sam jokingly referred to as "funk." But it was just leather, cheap motel soap, black coffee and whiskey, finding its way out of Dean's pores.

And the smell of guns. The trunk has been an arsenal for so long that only new passengers could pick up the smoky metal and gun odor. The Winchesters would say, "What smell?" It was the same smell on their hair and skin. If their lives had a smell, it would be this. Like life-long smokers not knowing they smelled like ashes, the Winchesters had no idea they sometimes smelled like the business end of a sawed-off.

When Dean woke up with his face on the seat after letting Sam drive for a shift, he would get the sudden sensation of missing John's old car coat, because the inside of it smelled the same.

When the heater Lego-rattled to life for the first time during the winter, there would be the dusty smell of disuse.

And sometimes, on a day after it rained, Dean would get the faintest coppery whiff of blood, some little area he couldn't get to when he rebuilt her.

(Dean still remembered Sam coming out to find him scrubbing at the stains out back at Bobby's. Like his life depended on it. There were parts of the upholstery that would never be clean of it, ever, but couldn't be replaced, or couldn't be reached. "You've done all you can do, Dean." But they both knew it wasn't really about that.)

It bugged Dean, because it made him think of Sam laying dead in the backseat when that Jake kid stabbed him, Dean's knuckles white on the steering wheel, looking back at him in the rearview mirror and trying not to break down.

It got to Sam because he thought of having to take Dean's body up to Bobby's to salt and burn him after that terrible Wednesday and the damned time loop. But neither of them had ever discussed this with the other. They would each just register the smell, remembering, tensing up.

When the other wasn't looking, each brother would steal a glance over (Are you real? Are you here?) with a surge of relief that felt like a small heart attack.

Every now and then, the looks would accidentally intersect.

"What?" Sam asked, brow furrowed, trying to keep his expression neutral and dumb.

"Nothin'," Dean said, turning up the radio.