Characters: Sam, Impala (POV)
Word Count: 1434
Summary: Sam moves through the five stages of grief after Dean's death. [Impala POV]
Note: The second of my gift fics. This one goes out to autumn_lilacs who asked for: Impala POV from the time when Sam was driving her, douching her up with his iPod... I know the many of the five stages occur almost instantly after the event, but I took the liberty of dragging them out with Sam. Thanks to shescheeky for the beta.
The first time he stops at a diner after it happens, he buys two sandwiches. She doesn’t know if it’s a force of habit, or if he’s doing it on purpose. When he gets back, he sits on the passenger’s side, sets one of the wax-paper-wrapped burgers on the driver’s seat. He turns on the radio after a few minutes of silence. Music thrums through her, but she can still hear Sam’s voice. She doesn’t know what he’s saying; just that he’s talking, in a soft whisper.
She wonders if, maybe, he’s trying to see if he can fool himself into thinking everything’s normal.
She watches as he leaves the bar he’s been in for a grand total of ten minutes, throwing open the door with unnecessary force. There’s an uncharacteristically ugly look on his face. Three men follow him, shouting, jeering, taunting. She hears something about pool, and figures that Sam’s been trying to earn some money – and cheating. Sam turns around, and all she can see now is his back. His shoulders are heaving and he lifts his arms and spreads them out in front of him, shouts something provocative at the three men, before turning back around, heading towards her. He’s not weaving, not much, but then, Sam rarely weaves when he’s drunk. The bulkiest of the three men steps forward, out of the front door’s threshold, and makes his way toward Sam.
Sam senses him at the very last second, later than usual. He’s wasted, she thinks. Hurry, she thinks. She wishes she could unlock her doors on her own, start her engine on her own, so that she‘s ready to run when Sam gets to her. Sam, though, has other plans. He spins, heaves his beer bottle at the man’s head. His aim is completely off, and she wonders what’s gotten into him, how much he’s had to drink.
Apparently, Bulky isn’t as drunk as Sam.
He reaches out, pushes Sam against her, against his own car. His two buddies, hovering in the distance before, seem to have located some extra reserves of courage. They come up behind Bulky, and she thinks, what can they do? They’re untrained. Sam’s not.
Bulky throws the first punch, aimed at Sam’s face. The force of it causes Sam’s head to slam into her frame. And Sam? Sam doesn’t even lift a finger. It’s then that she realizes that this is what he wants. He wants to be beaten into a pulp. For all she knows, he went in there and started this fight on purpose.
Bulky and his friends aren’t drunk enough to kill Sam. But by the time their sense returns and their anger wears off, her shining black frame is slicked with red. They back off, and Sam slides to the blacktop. He lies there for such a long time – until she’s ready to scream, until she’s begging someone to take away her helplessness. And when it finally seems like he must have died, alone and trembling on the cold concrete, he pushes himself up.
He drives back to the motel, and all the way, he keeps an eye out for the thick drops of blood that drip onto the upholstery, and swipes them away with his palm.
She wants to tell him to stop, but she can’t.
When the demon refuses the bargain, Sam turns to God.
She wonders if that’s irony, the order of those events. Maybe. She’s never really understood irony.
She doesn’t realize he prays at all until he does it, one night, in the car. Pulls over to the side of the road, near a mile marker, and tells the sky and the stars to just give him the hell back and I’ll do anything, anything at all, I swear and please, please, please, I can’t do this anymore.
She doesn’t think it works. She doesn’t think he’s surprised.
He does it again, a few days later. Ruby is in the car with him this time and he tells her to get out. She almost starts arguing, but Sam stares at her in a way that renders all argument unnecessary. When she gets out, walks a few feet away, muttering under her breath, Sam sighs.
He rubs his face, grips the steering wheel, leans back in the seat, leans forward. He takes a breath, deep and loud, and then says, in the softest of whispers, “Just give him back to me, goddammit. Don’t make me do this. I don’t want to be – I don’t want to—” He cuts himself off. “I know you won’t give him back to me. And I don’t know why. So I’m going to do this – this thing. Ruby and – I’m just – I have to do something, alright? I’m not gonna let it get too far. I know what’s at stake. I’m doing this for Dean. So, if you won’t give him back, just – help me with this. Protec— no – just guide me.”
She doesn’t think God’s doing any guiding if this is the path he’s choosing, but she swears to herself to battle her helplessness. To try, in some way, to give him what he’s praying for. To guide him.
Sometimes, she hates being who she is. Hates it with all her soul.
He sits in the car for hours and hours and hours. Sometimes, he stays up the whole night. He doesn’t eat or drink or move. She doesn’t know what he’s thinking, what runs through his mind. He falls into a stupor and it seems to take forever for him to break out of it.
Maybe he doesn’t even bother trying to crawl out. Maybe it’s easier in there. Maybe, in there, Dean is still alive and Sam Winchester still exists.
Eventually, he starts bringing back only one sandwich, only one meal. The first time it happens, she’s surprised. She was beginning to get used to his denial, beginning to think it would never end.
He seems to pause outside the car for a moment, before walking around to the driver’s side door, pulling it open. Throws in two plastic bags before getting in himself. He settles into the seat, and pulls out a sandwich out of one of the bags. Just sits there, with it on his lap as the wind whistles through the not-quite rolled up window. She wonders what he’s thinking. He’s not moving at all, and that means it’s important. She wishes she could talk to him. More than that, she wishes he would talk to her, liked Dean used to. She wishes he would allow himself that comfort. Dean knew just as well as Sam that cars couldn’t talk back – but he still spoke.
Sam reaches for the second bag he brought and pulls out something white and square, with a black holder. He attaches it to her dashboard with quick movements, and then sits back. Stares at the iPod for a long moment.
She wonders what this means. Moving on, maybe? Making things his own? Allowing himself to forget, a little?
Sam unwraps his burger and takes a bite.
Then another. And another.
And she wonders how long it’s been since he’s eaten properly, instead of just nibbling and picking before tossing the remainder into a dumpster.
Then, before she knows what to make of it, or what triggered it (everything, nothing) Sam’s crying. Not quiet cries, but full-blown sobs, around his mouthful of sandwich. His body quakes and she feels tears drip onto her. They sink into the seat, settle in between the other millions of memories that call her home. He sets his burger aside, and reaches for the iPod, but stops with his fingers on its cool frame. When he pulls away, his crying grows softer but it doesn’t stop. He grabs the steering wheel with one hand, seems to wilt over it, a dying flower.
All she can do is listen as he vents, all she can do is pray he’ll be alright.
After a while, silence fills the air.
Sam turns the key in the ignition.
And for the first time that she can remember, he clears his throat, and says, “Let’s go.”
She knows it’s for her. It’s not what Dean would have said, but then, it doesn’t have to be. Today, here, now, in this world, all that matters is what Sam says.
If she could smile, she would.
For now, she’ll have to settle for a soft rumble of her engine, a cool breeze from the window, and a smooth ride home.