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Complete Collection: 41 Days of Metallicar Daily Drabbles

Title: Forty-One Days of Metallicar: 41 Collected Impala Drabbles
Author:  bardicvoice
Rating: PG
Characters: All, no pairings
Word Count: 4,100
This story collection is now also available in Russian, thanks to [info]smth_evil, with original illustrations by HerbstRegen!  Go see!

For alias_chick  ’s 41 Days of Metallicar countdown to the Season Four premiere, I wrote daily, precisely 100-word drabbles involving the Impala. Here’s the complete collection for this year. The stories randomly span the first three seasons of the show as well as pre-series time, and involve Dean, Sam, John, Mary, Bobby, Pastor Jim, Henricksen, Reidy, Ellen, and some OFCs and OMCs.

2016 Edit: When last I checked, the Russian translation, while still online, couldn't be read in either Safari or Chrome: the letters were all appearing as ? icons instead of Cyrillic alphabet. I've added each of the HerbstRegen illustrations to this post: they remain under his 2009 copyright, not mine. All illustrations in this post are by HerbstRegen, and should be credited with a 2009 copyright notice.

Day One -- Birthday

“Rise and shine, Sammy!”

“Dean, what the hell …?”

Sam knuckled sleep from his eyes. Dean was almost never awake before he was; Dean considered sleep an art form and always needed coffee to become a fully conscious human. Seeing him awake, alert, fully dressed, and downright cheerful when the sun was barely over the horizon was ample cause for question and surprise. Seeing him smiling in the morning while carrying pails, a sponge, a chamois, soap, wax, and polishing rags boggled the mind.

“Dude: she’s forty-one today. It’s her birthday.” Dean grinned. “I bought the good wax. Let’s party!”


Day Two -- Alone

He’d never been fanciful, despite Dad and Dean always teasing him about his imagination. Oh, he’d always been quick to visualize just exactly how things could go wrong on the hunt, right from the first night he realized what his family did. Apart from those very specific worries and the disturbingly vivid images of pain, fear, and loss they could evoke, however, he’d never indulged in imagining things. He’d never invested machines with souls or animals with human personalities.

And yet, forever alone now in the Impala, he heard her engine moan in lonely grief when he turned the key.

Day Three -- Theft

“Okay – this is just too much. They’re gettin’ way too bold, you ask me; I mean, really, stealing? From right under our noses? Stealing from me? Stealing from HER?

“No, man, I will NOT leave it alone. Messin’ with my wheels, man – that’s so uncool. I’m not gonna stand for it, I tell you, I’m not. I refuse. I’m gonna hunt ‘em down and get ‘em back, I swear. I mean, come on, we need what we’ve got. How are we supposed to work without ‘em, hmm? So what I want to know is simple:

“Where are her damn spotlights?!”


Day Four -- Eighteen

He sat behind the wheel, taking a quiet minute alone. There were memories all around him, more than he usually let himself recall.

Feeling them unfold, he was surprised to realize how many of them were good ones, moments of laughter and music and even peace. There were ghosts present, but none that needed salt or fire; these blessed him with rare grace, and he closed his fingers around the keys. He knew he’d made the right choice, the perfect choice, of present for his son.

“Take good care of him, girl. He loves you more than I ever did.”


Day Five -- All That’s Left You

Digital technology made it work. He snuck photos when Sam wasn’t looking, printing them at drugstore kiosks while picking up food or beer. Sometimes, he got girls to take silly pictures of him. All of them went secretly into the box in the trunk, the box they’d gotten from home.

He fingered the old photos and crayon art sometimes when loss pressed close: birthdays, mostly. Sammy never did, because they weren’t his memories. But he’d inherit that box right along with the Impala soon, and Dean knew his brother; he’d look.

Memories hurt, but memories healed.

He left good ones.


Day Six – Winchester

“Is there any town in Virginia that doesn’t claim to have a Civil War ghost?”

“Don’t be a spoilsport, Sam; we’ve checked out less.”

Apart from Dean’s childish delight in the town’s name, Sam couldn’t figure out his enthusiasm. There was nothing to go on but overblown tourist legends, but Dean was bubbling over with repressed glee. He’d even washed and waxed the car in the motel parking lot, though what that had to do with a hunt was beyond Sam.

Until he saw the sign.

Flyin’ and Cruisin’ Festival
Airplane and Auto Show
Winchester Regional Airport

“Dean ...!”

Author Note: The Flyin’ and Cruisin’ Festival in Winchester, VA is absolutely real. This year, it’s Saturday and Sunday, 4-5 October 2008. Drop by the airport if you’re in the vicinity! Planes and cars will be on display …


Day Seven – Pilot
He’d become so accustomed to compensating for things being unbalanced that the return to what should have been normality left him uncertain, like a healed limb freed from a heavy cast but still expecting the weight.

He stole a covert sideways glance to reassure himself that Sam really was in the passenger seat. From the day Dad bought the truck and gave him the Impala, he’d always had Sam riding shotgun. Then came Stanford, and he’d been alone.

Sam was back where he belonged, but now his knees bumped the dash.

Dean wondered how many other ways they wouldn’t fit.


Day Eight -- Consecration

“What could it hurt, John?”

“No offense, Padre, but I’m not much of a believer. Not any more.”

Jim just smiled. They’d stayed with him for a week while John learned more about the evils that hid beneath the surface of the world. The peace Jim exuded affected them all; Sammy was sleeping better, and while Dean was still silent, his eyes had regained a little sparkle.

For the first time since Mary died, John felt less … stretched. He sighed.

“Go ahead.”

Jim sprinkled the hood with holy water.

“Oh Lord, bless this car and those who ride in her …”


Day Nine – Pickup

He’d lost track of the towns across the years; the towns, the cheap motels, the trailer parks, the vacant homes, the diners, the quickie marts, the gas stations, the libraries, the bars. They all blurred together like rain on the windshield, a uniform semitransparent watery grey memory flicked away by the wipers only to be replaced by more of the same, over and over and over again.

But predictability wasn’t always depressing. One surety never failed him if he wanted company to sweeten his night; his single most reliable charm needed only one admiring look.

“Is that your car? Sweet!”


Day Ten – Prank

The screwdriver slipped in his sweaty hand and he forced himself to slow down. Getting caught would be bad, but scratching the paint would be grounds for justifiable homicide. He made it back into his seat just before Dean emerged from the gas station restroom and crossed in front of the car to slide behind the wheel.

“Ready, Sam?”

He grunted noncommittally, not trusting his voice, and looked out the window to hide his grin as Dean’s pride and joy muscled down the highway, boasting a bright pink and purple rear license plate frame that gushed, “I (heart) Hannah Montana!”


Day Eleven – Rebuild

She looked like he felt: warped where she wasn’t outright smashed, sagging on broken axles, bristling with unexpected sharp edges of shattered glass and steel, bled out of water, oil, and transmission fluid. He rested a hesitant hand on her caved-in roof and felt the wrongness of it, the echoes of the crash still shivering in the twisted metal or in his trembling hand, he wasn’t sure which. Nothing was left of her surety and grace, her strength and power. She was lost and empty and alone, nothing left to give.

Watch out for Sammy.

He picked up a wrench.


Day Twelve – Never Be

Once upon a time he’d looked into the trunk and seen nothing but a spare tire, a litter of crushed cups, a handful of magazines, a couple of stray CDs, a flashlight, and a few rags and tools. And the floor of the trunk.

It had only been a dream, of course. He didn’t think he’d ever actually seen the floor of the trunk, even growing up. Even before the weapons and tools totally supplanted clothes, books, and toys, they’d always lived out of it, cramming it full of family.

That empty trunk? Just a wasted life.

And not his.


Day Thirteen – Barometric Pressure

Dean was fourteen days dead before Sam fixed her broken taillight. He’d forgotten until a cop in Oconto Falls ticketed him. He bought a book and learned.

Only then did he realize that she’d been Dean’s emotional barometer. Dean had always taken care of her, always … until after Dad disappeared. He remembered Dad ragging on Dean about touching her up when they finally found him, and realized that Dean had gradually slipped up on her maintenance as he’d gotten more worried about Dad. It happened again only as he died.
Sam wondered how she’d looked when he’d left for college.


Day Fourteen – Dream Cruise, Check

“Are you nuts?”

“Come on, Sammy. We’ll never be noticed, not in those crowds. Well, we’ll be noticed, but I mean, we won’t be noticed – she will. What could it hurt, huh? Just one day?”

“A little matter of being wanted? Our pictures on post office walls?”

Despite his protests, Sam knew he’d give in. Dean had few dreams he’d ever shared. Showing the Impala in Detroit made the list his eighteenth birthday, when she became his.

When the Impala cruised gleaming down Woodward Avenue among forty thousand classic cars, Sam basked in Dean’s ecstatic pride, and savored the memory.


Author Note: The first Woodward Dream Cruise took place in 1995. The charity aspect of it became formal in 1996, and it’s happened every year since. Google it and feast your eyes on tens of thousands of classic cars parading down Woodward Avenue in Detroit …


Day Fifteen – Muscle

He’d always been partial to classic American muscle. So when John Winchester appeared on his doorstep driving his Detroit ghostbuster, they’d found common ground even before comparing notes on demons and dead wives.

He’d never had kids of his own. Watching John trying with mixed success both to raise his boys and hunt, he’d been guiltily grateful for that, but regretful, too. He’d been part of Dean losing his silence and becoming voluble about cars, and about Sam discovering books.

They’d made him ache for what he didn’t have except by John’s proxy.

Watching Sam drive off alone, he mourned.


Day Sixteen – Protection Ritual

“You’ve gotta be kidding!”

“This is the lore. ‘Let everywhere be the chiming of sweet bells, that the spirit’s curses reach not the ears of the heart. Let mirrors reflect away its ugliness and brightness outshine its evil.’”

Sam battled manfully to keep a straight face as he watched his brother festooning the Impala with strings of “blessed” silver bells from the belly-dancing outfit he’d found, adding to the gaudy effect of mirrored Mardi Gras beads. The car looked like some Creole or Mexican float.

Distracted, he missed Dean’s grab at the paper in his hand.

“Let me – Wikipedia?!”



Day Seventeen – Family Mechanic

“Okay, Dad. Try her now.”

John turned the key; the irritating whine was gone. He smiled.

“Good job, son. You’ll ace auto shop.”

Good moods were made to be used. Dean glanced at Sam, sprawled sullenly nearby with a book, and lowered his voice.

“Dad, about Sam – soccer builds endurance. And it’s gotta help his coordination! His legs’ve gotten so long so fast he can’t figure out where to put his feet without help.”

“You did okay without it.”

“Hey – I’m grace, personified!”

John knew he’d been played, but grinned anyway.

“Okay, Grace. But – bowhunting after soccer practice.”

“Deal. Sammy!”


Day Eighteen – Home

He knew where he was.

He swam up out of the dark groggy and aching, not remembering why or when. But the steady, rumbling vibration beneath him was soothing and right, and the soft voices of his brother and his Dad were calm and reassuring, blending into the undertone of rock music playing at a background low. He smelled leather and sweat and gun oil and wool, felt smooth coolness beneath his cheek and scratchy softness tucked under his chin. He curled back into the firm support that cradled him.

He knew where he was.

Safe at home.

He slept.


Day Nineteen – Witness

So, tell us about this car.

It wasn’t no car, man. Or if it was, it was the Devil’s. The Devil’s chariot!

Why would you say that?

‘Cause it was! Look, that guy, he was shoutin’ in the middle of the road, dressed like some Sixties’ hippie. And then this car came – this big ole black car – speedin’ outa nowhere. It never slowed down; just mowed that guy down, on purpose. An’ poof! – he was gone! Just like that! There was no body or nuthin’! It was the Devil, man – took him straight to Hell!

Sir, had you been drinking?


Day Twenty – Hunter, Hunted

They’re just two guys, Victor. That car sticks out like a sore thumb. How hard could it be to find them?” Henriksen parodied his boss, fuming.

“Sure, the car sticks out – when you see it. But there’s no pattern to search; these jokers criss-cross the whole lower 48! Chance of a nationwide APB turning up one car’s on a par with me winning the lottery without buying a ticket. And the way they mostly stick to Podunkville and back roads means we’re relying on Mayberry PD for a tip.”

Reidy grinned.

“Maybe, but Sheriff Taylor’s always right.”

The phone rang.


Author Note: For readers younger than I, or folk not from the States, this draws from an American cultural icon of the 1960’s. In The Andy Griffith Show and its successor series, Mayberry RFD, actor Andy Griffith played Sheriff Taylor in the fictional rural town of Mayberry, where the Sheriff always knew best and things always turned out the way they should in the end. And yes, the phone call was from Bela …


Day Twenty-One – Chevy Lullaby

Dean had been two months old, tired, cranky, screaming, and unable to sleep. Worried, they’d finally bundled him into the car at two A.M. for a hospital run – and within two miles, he was blissfully asleep. Whether it was the sound, the motion, or something else, the Chevy lullaby worked whenever there was a problem, and Sammy proved as susceptible as Dean. Mary laughed that the car sang better than she did, at least to boys with their father’s engine-tuned ears.

The boys slept bonelessly in the back, soothed by the car’s song.

He wished that magic worked on him.


Day Twenty-Two – Aftermath

He opened the trunk on a sudden flashback fully as powerful as his occasional unexpected, disturbingly vivid memories of ‘Nam. In place of the haphazard clutter of weapons, duffels, and tools, he saw one spade, shotgun, rifle, handgun, and knife in one corner of the trunk. The rest of the space was filled with bags of books, clothes, and groceries, and two things he hadn’t seen in years: a small box of secondhand toys, and a box of Pampers.

He blinked, and the trunk was back to normal.

As normal as it could be, anyway, now that Sam was gone.


Day Twenty-Three – Haunted

The car was haunted.

He’d known it for a while, but he also knew that salt and fire weren’t required. There was no disembodied spirit trapped in the metal.
There were only memories and dreams, and he clung to them.

In the rearview, he saw tousle-haired Dean playing cars with Sammy in the back seat. From the corner of his mind’s eye, he saw Mary beside him, eight months pregnant, eating an ice cream cone and laughing about cravings. If he tried, he could almost put both scenes together, imagining his happy family in the car.

He’d never sell her.


Day Twenty-Four – Sage Advice


At Sam’s strangled gasp, Dean braked hard and swung sharply onto the shoulder. Sam was in the ditch before the car even stopped, fumbling with his belt and buttons. Fighting the uneasy griping churning in his own guts, Dean tried to close his ears until Sam staggered back into his seat, sweating. They’d been trading off on panic stops to save the upholstery every ten minutes for the past forty.

“Dude, that does it. We’re stopping at the next motel. And we’re never, ever, eating at any diner that doesn’t have at least three cars in the parking lot!”


Day Twenty-Five – Things Unspoken

The strangest thing was seeing Dean asleep in the front seat.

Months after Dean picked him up at Stanford, Sam still couldn’t get used to that. From the moment Dad had given him the car, Dean had made the rules: Dean drove and Sam rode shotgun. Dean never offered him the keys. He got to drive only when Dad ordered him on errands alone, or if Dean was hurt or sick.

So when Dean silently tossed him the keys and slept, he felt unbalanced.

He’d never before heard Dean say, I need you, and had it mean him, not Dad.


Day Twenty-Six – Deal-breaker

She debated her options.

The temptation to make a quick deal was almost irresistible, and she could clear a reasonable profit on this one. Oh, nothing to match her usual, but still – gain was always worth considering. And the ancillary benefits would help to make up for the loss she’d already incurred. Certain deals brought with them a satisfaction beyond the norm, and this would definitely fall into that category. It worked on so many more levels than just money.

Then again, the downside to this particular deal could be fatal.

Regretfully, she settled for just having the car towed.


Day Twenty-Seven – Misconceptions

Memories were time machines that sometimes lied.

Her first glimpse of the brothers hadn’t triggered the reflex. In the moment before she realized who they were, they were just young men, just themselves. But when their names sparked the association, Dean’s old leather jacket with its turned-up collar laid a sudden image of John over his face. When she saw Dean behind the wheel of John’s unmistakable car, that image locked solidly into place, and she heard John’s voice in Dean’s.

She didn’t realize her mistake until after Dean died. He’d only had John’s look.

Someone else inherited his obsession.


Day Twenty-Eight – The Keeper of Lost Things

Anything lost almost always turned up under the seats or in the glove box or the trunk. Since they practically lived in the car, that wasn’t surprising, but it had become a family joke. He still remembered Dean telling him bedtime stories about lost toys when he was little, calling the Impala the Keeper of Lost Things. When Dad was really late getting back once, Dean had reassured him that her magic worked on people too, so he didn’t need to worry about Dad being lost.

Now sometimes he dreamed that he opened her door, and found Dean safe inside.


Day Twenty-Nine – Tradeoffs

She didn’t have sports car handling or speed; she was far too big and heavy for that. Her long wheelbase made her awkward and sloppy on corners. Her hefty, rebuilt engine guzzled gas. Her sheer size made urban parking a challenge. Her old steel frame and body required constant vigilance against rust.

But as he slammed her into reverse, mashed the accelerator, and spun the wheel, skidding her into a deliberate slide, her power gave him torque and her weight gave him momentum, and he finessed his intimacy with her handling to use her steel flank to disperse a ghost.


Day Thirty – Turnabout

“You sure you’re okay?”

Dean didn’t open his eyes.

“While I was out sweating, you spent the day sitting in a nice cool library, dude. Your turn to go get dinner.”

Sam chuckled and left. He turned the key in the ignition, but the starter didn’t crank; instead, a sultry alto voice complained, “You’re not Dean.”

He jumped in the seat, heart in his throat, and shocked surprise froze him for an open-mouthed instant; then he contorted to look beneath the dash. A portable tape player was wired into the starter.

Dean whistled from the doorway, waving his cellphone camera.


Day Thirty-One – Zen

Driving was good for both thinking and non-thinking. Sam never got that; he always focused too much on the task to experience the zen.

Dean never had to think about controlling the car; she was part of him, like his muscles. Dad had trained his situational awareness until it was second nature, so he was always almost subliminally aware of traffic for as far as he could see in all directions. He perceived and he adjusted, all without conscious thought. It was soothing.

Behind the wheel, he could solve problems or retreat from them all.

He wished that Sam could.


Day Thirty-Two – Rosetta Stone

He’d often joked with Sam that she spoke to him.

Dad started teaching him her language when he was still little, but he’d picked up most of it on his own. The split-second hesitation that meant her transmission needed attention, the ghost of a stutter that called for a tune-up, the slight change in pitch asking for a new muffler or exhaust pipe – he knew them all. Every change in shift, steering, or pedal response was part of their dialogue. He felt her.

Mechanical aptitude aside, he wondered whether he could teach Sam to listen to her with his heart.


Day Thirty-Three – Embodiment

He tried to listen to her. Dean had always listened to her, every time he started the engine. But no matter how hard he listened, he couldn’t hear whatever it was she’d conveyed to Dean. He just heard an engine, powerful and steady, an echo of Dean’s heartbeat, Dean’s voice, Dean’s laugh. Her solid frame was a ghost of Dean’s strength, the back of her seat the support of Dean’s arm. But he couldn’t feel what Dean had felt when he’d caressed her wheel.

He never realized that Dean had felt his father’s strength, his mother’s love: his own ghosts.


Day Thirty-Four – Pride

The Impala came cheap because it needed work. He was good with his hands, and by the time he finished the restoration job, the car was a rolling advertisement for his skill that brought new business into the garage. Didn’t hurt either that Mary thought it was beautiful when she saw it done. He was proud of it.

Pride died with hunting, along with so much else. It took his boys to give his pride back, pride in who they were and how they grew up.
The car was just a tool, then.

Dean’s pride in her restored his own.


Day Thirty-Five – Loss

Her tires sang mournfully on wet pavement. He’d never noticed that before.

He was familiar with a lot of things about her. The way she always smelled of leather and gun oil, with echoes of blood and sweat and fast food and gasoline. The way her engine growled and the power of it made her whole frame tremble. The way the rolled upholstery of her seats creased his cheek when he slept.

He’d grown up with all those things, but in the grim silence of the present, stripped of music and voices, for the first time, he heard her grieve.


Day Thirty-Six – Chick Magnet

“Is that your car? Nice!” Bright blue eyes in a pert face framed by a tumble of blonde curls caressed the car, and then returned to him, assessing and approving. In another minute, they’d be offering.

He’d seen it happen a thousand times. Okay, bit of exaggeration there. Lots of women were blind to cars, but those that weren’t found the Impala an irresistible part of the package, right up there with tall, strong, and handsome. He wasn’t sure what it said, but he knew where it led.

Where he didn’t want to go.

“No,” he said. “It’s my brother’s.”


Author Note: Quick, don’t think: when did you think this story took place, post-3.16, or earlier in the series?
Whichever, think of the opposite, and then read the story again. Did its emotional quotient change?



Day Thirty-Seven – Lucky Charms

Third time’s the charm.

People used the phrase to invoke luck. It was just another measure of how screwed up his life was that he thought it about his death. Electrocuted, but restored by a Reaper. Demon-tortured and smashed by a truck, but restored by a demon. Both times, his life exchanged for someone else’s; first a stranger, then Dad.

Third time’s the charm.

He couldn’t think about this near Sam. Sam was already scared and guilty; he couldn’t add to it. Instead, he sat alone in the car, hands sweating on the wheel, but resolute.

Third time’s for Sam.


Day Thirty-Eight – The Gift

“Be gentle with her, Dean. Smooth and slow. Lift off the brake; now press the accelerator. Gently! That’s it. Keep her straight.”

Even with the seat pulled all the way forward, ten-year-old Dean could barely reach the pedals and see over the dash. The tip of his tongue protruded from the right side of his mouth, betraying the intensity of his concentration. He focused single-mindedly on getting everything exactly right, the same way he’d approached caring for Sammy and learning to shoot.

Watching Dean vibrating with delighted determination, John was humbly grateful that the best birthday presents sometimes were free.


Day Thirty-Nine – Salvage

He’d watched for weeks as Dean slowly rebuilt himself along with the car.

He’d thought they were both goners; he hadn’t counted on John’s self-sacrifice or Sam’s stubbornness. When the boys came to him after, he guessed pretty quick that Dean’d figured out John; boy was too quiet, like he’d been when they’d first met and had never been since. But he’d asked for tools and started over. He maybe did a better job on the car than on himself, but spare parts for souls were harder to find.

Now he prayed Sam could fix himself at least as well.


Day Forty – Legacy

All he had left was a brother, a car, and a load of regret. When he left, all he’d leave his brother was the car and another load of regret.
His legacy.

He’d be the first to admit he hadn’t thought it through. All he’d wanted, all he’d ever wanted, was to save and protect his family, and not to be alone. Well, he’d screwed that up. He doubted he’d get more alone than Hell.

He’d never meant to hurt Sam. In the end, that was the only regret that mattered.

“Take care of him, girl,” he whispered, and left.


Day Forty-One – Memorial

Dean’s grave was concealed in an empty, weed-choked field in the middle of nowhere, marked only by a featureless white wooden cross identical to those that adorned ten thousand other anonymous roadside shrines to the victims of drunk drivers, ice storms, stupidity, or bad luck. The coordinates were recorded in Sam’s GPS, the only way that anyone could find it, even Sam.

He’d never gone back.

He knew better than anyone that Dean wasn’t there, and that no solace would be found at his grave.

Instead, Sam lived inside his memorial, hunting recklessly with her for his vengeance and salvation.

So ends this year’s 41 Days of Metallicar countdown. Welcome, Season Four!
Hope you enjoyed them. And HerbstRegen's gorgeous art!

Tags: bobby singer, dean winchester, fanfic, fanfic drabbles, impala, john winchester, sam winchester, supernatural

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