A/N: Here it is, the second (and final) chapter of Driver's Ed. ^_^ I apologize for the delay; this should have been up over 2 weeks ago, but between work and an injury to my wrist, it just didn't happen.
Special thanks to ZombiesloveMangoes, lloy, cheesepuffzapper, BekaForEver, J2's Fan, and Guest for your reviews! I agree, Cas is just like a little kid. :)
I think I'm kinda pushing for the humor genre with this chapter, but...
The whole, sordid tale came out after that, with Dean taking it as well as expected.
Which was, of course, terribly.
"How could you let him drive my car, after I explicitly said he couldn't!"
"Don't yell at me, it's not my fault! It could have happened to anybody-"
"Well it didn't, did it! And-"
Cas could still hear the brothers arguing from the cheap metal bench he was sitting on in the motel parking lot. It's main purpose seemed to be that of a place to smoke, but it also worked for guilty brooding as well. There weren't very many patrons at this motel, but still, if they didn't quiet down soon, someone was going to complain.
Oddly enough, Dean seemed to be blaming Sam more than Cas, which somehow only made Cas feel worse.
Garth had taken off half an hour ago for a supply run - which could have ment anything from drinks to earplugs, but if he was hoping all of this would be over by the time he got back, it looked as though he was going to be sorely disappointed.
The shouting abruptly stopped; Cas heard the door slam, followed by the heavy footsteps of someone walking in his direction. He didn't look up or acknowledge whoever it was, though, until they sat down next to him on the bench and he recognized the boots as Sam's.
"Is he still angry?" Cas muttered, knowing it was a stupid question.
Sam sighed. "He's cooling off." he said, stretching his arms over the bench and gazing out into the unimpressive view of the parking lot Cas seemed so interested in.
"I'm sorry, Sam."
Sam shrugged. "It was an accident, don't worry about it. Dean'll come around. I don't think you'll be driving the Impala again anytime soon, though."
Cas chuckled once, without humor. "Yes, I figured." He didn't say it in any particular tone, but the words themselves radiated misery.
Sam shifted uncomfortably, having a hard time reading Cas's mood. "You know, Cas, it isn't that big a deal. Not driving, I mean. You have lots of other...skill sets." When Cas just stared at him blankly, Sam plunged on. "You know we don't think you're useless, don't you?"
Cas just looked even more confused. "What does that have to do with anything? Why would-" he frowned. "You think I like to drive because it makes me feel...useful?"
Sam couldn't tell if the change in Cas's tone ment he was insulted or not. "Uh, I dunno. Do you?"
Cas chuckled for real this time, much to Sam's surprise. "No, not at all. Well, that is part of it, I suppose, but really I just..." The smile faded from his face, and he seemed to be trying to find the right words as he stared out into the parking lot, elbows on his knees. "I just like the freedom of it, mostly. To be, to be able to just go, wherever you want, of your own volition. To be in control, to...literally be in the driver's seat. It's very...liberating." He snuck a peek back at Sam then, looking almost sheepish. "I sound pathetic, don't I?"
Sam blinked twice in surprise. "No, not at all." he said, shaking his head. "Believe me, I can understand wanting to feel like you have control of your own life. That's...actually pretty human, Cas."
Cas didn't know what to say to that, so he just cocked his head to the side a little in acknowledgement and went back to staring out at nothing. Sam seemed obliged to let him.
They sat in companionable silence for a moment, until Sam spoke again. "If it's really that important to you, we could always fix up one of the old junkers from Bobby's old scrap yard." he said carefully, watching for Cas's reaction.
"Hmmm? Oh, no, thank you. It's fine." Cas answered, sounding distant.
"You sure?" Sam pressed. "I mean, it would be yours..."
"Well...I...have a bit of a confession to make." Cas said slowly, breaking from his scrutiny of the parking lot almost reluctantly. "Ah, um...that wasn't the only reason I wanted to drive the Impala today."
Sam raised his eyebrows. "Yeah?" He'd had a feeling Cas had been holding something back.
"Uh, well..." Cas seemed almost embarrassed, and didn't keep eye contact with Sam, choosing to go back to staring at the asphalt. "I suppose I just wanted to drive...it."
"It?" Sam questioned, raising his eyebrows. Cas gestured towards where the car was still parked. "You mean the Impala?" Cas nodded, a faint blush becoming visible. Sam laughed, mostly at Cas's embarrassment. "You like the Impala?"
Cas shot Sam a look that told him he didn't appreciate being laughed at before returning his attention to the ground. "I guess I have grown fond of it." he admitted, almost grudgingly. "Though...not so much the car as what it represents."
"The American automotive industry at it's best?" Sam suggested. Cas gave him a blank look and shook his head. "Then you've lost me."
Cas sighed. "For as long as I've known you and Dean, you've been in that vehicle. The big, dark, 1967 Chevy Impala that is synonymous with the Winchesters; even most demons and angels recognize it on sight." Cas chuckled.
Sam was a little surprised Cas remembered the Impala's entire make and model; he had been paying more attention than either he or Dean thought.
"You eat, sleep, travel in it...it's practically your home. You've lived in it, and it's been in your family so long it's almost as if it is a part of the family." Sam wondered if he was imagining the little hint of jealously he heard in Cas's voice just then. "What I mean to say is...it's very important to you. I can't picture it without picturing you or Dean inside, and I guess I just..."
"Wanted to belong." Sam finished quietly, internally kicking himself for not understanding sooner. The Impala might have been Dean's car, technically, but Sam had always associated it with family; when he and Dean were together, they were in the Impala. It was a kind of home; they'd practically grown up in the thing. And, pending an emergency, Sam pretty much was the only person that Dean let drive it. He could see how, from Cas's point of view, driving the Impala would somehow make you a part of the family.
Damn it, and he and Dean hadn't even been letting Cas sit in the front seat.
"Cas...you're still family. No matter what car you drive." Sam said softly as Cas continued to avoid looking at him directly. Cas blinked several times, then nodded, still not making eye contact.
It was quiet for long enough that Sam figured he'd embarrassed Cas, and was deciding on whether or not he should leave him alone when Cas finally responded.
"Thank you, Sam." he said quietly, though he was still looking at his feet. "I-that means a lot."
Sam didn't really know what to say to that, so he didn't say anything, just nodded and gave Cas a pat on the shoulder. "Don't mention it," Hell, he hoped he didn't want a hug. Not that he wouldn't do it, just that it would be awkward. Especially if Dean looked out the window and saw them. He would never hear the end of it.
"Uh, we can still get you your own car, if you want." Sam added, hoping to steer the situation away from chick-flick territory, as Dean would call it. "I mean, it isn't the Impala, and it would have to be one of Bobby's old ones, but, you know, we could help you fix it up. Make it your own, I mean. Maybe even teach you how to fix cars yourself?"
Cas finally made eye contact, much to Sam's relief, with a half-smile on his face. "I...yes, thank you. I think I would like that."
"Sounds like a plan to me."
Dean's gruff voice made Sam and Cas jump, both twisting in their seats to find him standing a few feet behind the bench, his hands in his pockets. Though he was frowning, he didn't look livid like he had earlier, and the look in his eyes told Sam he'd been standing there awhile.
Dean scowled at Sam when he noticed his scrutiny, but there was a silent communication there, too. Yes, I feel guilty, and yes, he's forgiven. Mostly. Aloud, though, he turned his attention to Cas and said "Might as well, fixing 'em if they break down was going to be my next lesson, anyway. Doesn't really do you any good if you're chasing a demonic lead in the middle of nowhere and a line breaks or something and you don't know how to fix it."
Cas nodded mutely, giving Sam a look that silently asked him what was going on. Sam gave him what he hoped was a reassuring nod coupled with a shrug in answer, which didn't make Cas look any better.
Dean carried on as though he hadn't noticed the exchange, which Sam found unlikely. "We'll head over to South Dakota tomorrow. Right after we do something about the door." he said, shooting Sam the stink eye. Sam sighed. Looked like only Cas was forgiven, for now anyway.
"There's a lot of easy back roads on the way," Dean added, clearing his throat and turning his back to them as he starting walking out into the parking lot. "Not a lot of stuff to hit." He shot Cas a scowl over his shoulder, but Sam could see Dean's heart wasn't really in it. "Maybe you can get some more practice then."
Cas's eyes had gone wide, but he nodded again, not trusting himself to say the right thing. "What happened?" he whispered to Sam, still gaping at Dean's retreating back.
"Uh, dunno." Sam answered with a shrug, though he did. "Guess he cooled off."
Cas still looked worried. "But-"
"Hey, are you coming?" Dean demanded from across the lot.
"What?" Sam called back. Dean scowled again and pointed across the street. "The pie, remember?" he said, sounding aggravated. "I don't know about you, but I could use some. You two coming or not?!"
Sam and Cas looked at each other; Sam gave Cas another shrug, then got up to follow Dean. As they hustled over to meet him, Sam heard Cas mutter "I still don't understand," under his breath.
"Don't worry about it, Cas. He's just in a good mood 'cause of the pie." Sam said, clapping Cas on the shoulder and causing him to nearly trip. Dean, already across the street, let out a few barks of laughter as Sam helped Cas catch his balance, and Sam had to fight to keep from smiling himself.
Don't worry about it, Cas. He thought as he helped Cas right himself. It's just what family does.
Dean was still laughing when they finally made it in and found Garth - looking very relieved to see them all getting along now - huddled in a booth. (Apparently, 'getting supplies' was code for 'getting the hell out of everyone's way until they worked things out'.)
Dean's good mood persisted even when, two hours later, they walked past the Impala's damaged door to get to their hotel room.
Sam was bringing in the rear, so he saw Cas's hands clench nervously into his jacket pocket as his gaze flicked to Dean's back, then the car. Then, almost as though he was letting go of something heavy, Cas let out a long, soft breath, smiled to himself, and asked Dean if they could go back to the diner in the morning before they left.
Sam grinned. Yep, he thought. Just like family.
A/N: This was supposed to be a funny, light-hearted comedy about Cas getting behind the wheel of the Impala...and the ending turned out to be a mildly angst-y talk about their feelings. I didn't plan it that way, which makes me wonder if this is what the writers of Supernatural have to deal with...Perhaps one simply cannot write about the Winchesters and company without making it angst-y to some degree? Thought for the day.
Thanks again to everyone who reviewed, followed, or added to their favorites. ^_^ If you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it, feel free to drop a review!