( Because it's only a promise if someone hears it… )
"Always have to be Mr. 'I Don't Need Your Help'." The laugh he made sounded forced. And inside the metal cocoon, the sound punctuated the silence. It only reinforced the insincerity. "He can't fool me. Never could." He looked to his left at the empty driver's seat. He was amused to see the door latched—as if he feared carjackers might come and steal both car and brother. In a fit of rebellion, he'd rolled down the window to let in the prairie breeze. The keys swayed off the ignition like a pendulum.
Staring at the keys, his amusement faded.
"He's scared." He closed his eyes and sank deeper into the passenger seat. The tiny fires from the beast's claw flared on his right side. It reminded him why they stopped, why there was a sudden craving for food instead of the hunt.
He wrapped an arm around his middle, cupping carefully over his bandage and the careful stitches. Fifteen in total. Maybe more. He wasn't sure; he had passed out when his brother began cleaning the third angry red slash that followed the contour of his ribs. He passed out and now they were here.
He snorted, reached out and drummed his fingers over a spot above the glove compartment. He was tempted to turn on the music, but was warned against it and threatened bodily harm if he didn't rest. The warning kind of defeated the purpose, but he chose not to say anything.
"He won't tell me, won't talk to me, but I know he's scared." The diner the car was parked in front was busy, far more busy than a diner should be at four in the morning. He watched his brother, his hip leaning against the garish red and black checkered counter. His brother waited with an impatience no one else would recognize but him. His posture was deceptively lax, loose-limbed, but even from here, he could see the tight jaw line, his chin jutted out just a little as he gritted his teeth. He was a hair's breath away from snapping at someone. His brother didn't want to be here.
"I know he can feel time ticking away," he murmured as he slid his left hand down to the bench. He tried to soak up the heat from the seat, warmed from hours of driving and companionship. He huddled into his jacket and thought he could feel the heat leeching out of him and into the car. It was like the car absorbed a part of them each time; just enough to leave a footprint of them both within its steel bones.
Somehow, it made him felt better; that they're leaving something behind.
"Take care of him," he rasped, his eyes drifting back forward to the front. "Six more months and we won't be watching each other's backs any more." He swallowed. "Alone. That's it. Just…alone." He shut his eyes. He tried to feel the Impala wrap around him like an embrace. "Watch out for him. Please." His voice cracked. "Do for him what I can't."
The hand he placed palm down on the seat curled, fingers clawed useless at the seams.
"Keep him out of hell," he whispered.
The car didn't speak. It stayed as it were: hollow yet filled with more memories and more lingering emotions than he thought possible. It was hard to believe this car ever felt large. He remembering sleeping against his brother's shoulder in the backseat, watching the back of his father's head and thought their father was just as enormous as the Impala. But like their father, the years shrunk it and he outgrew the security blanket of the Impala. At least he thought he did.
"You're all we got left," he murmured. His hand relaxed and stroked the car seat in apology. "Stick with him a little longer, okay?"
The car settled, its engine cooling and gave a minute shiver old cars do when standing still for too long. But it sounded like a sigh and that was good enough for him.
"Thanks," he said hushed, his lips upturned at the corners of his mouth.
"You're welcome," was the dry return.
Dean reared back, smacking the door and nearly slid down to the car floor in his shock. Sam, crouched down low enough to rest his elbows on the driver side open window, cocked his head to the side.
"Were…were you talking to the car?" Sam asked with that annoying little brother grin Dean knew he'd miss (he'll never admit it though).
"Did you get it?" Dean demanded, deflecting Sam's question with one of his own.
Sam rolled his eyes and raised the takeout bag before slipping into the driver's seat. "Yeah. Extra onions, too." He blew at an errant bang that kept flopping over his nose. He wrinkled his nose as the strand simply came back. The gesture Sam made flicking at it was something Sammy used to make. The memory made Dean's chest ache.
Dean covered the pang; he dove into the bags with a grumble about how long Sam took. He fished out the Styrofoam container with his burger and blinked when he realized the bag still wasn't empty.
"They had fresh pie, too," Sam explained as he unwrapped his chicken salad sandwich; a woeful pile of blanch food on white wax paper. Sam watched Dean a bit—he tended to do that a lot these days—before he took a bite of his food.
The car, once subdued before, filled with the cacophony of crinkling parchment paper, plastic cutlery scraping on pie filling, and loud, almost obnoxious, munching.
"Seriously," Sam began. He made a face when Dean burped with an unabashed grin. "Extra onions," Sam grumbled to himself. He turned sideways in the car, an awkward position for someone his size yet he made it look natural. The car was fitting around him. It was a bittersweet realization for Dean that he'd almost missed the question the first time Sam asked.
"What?" Dean covered his reverie with a mouthful of fries and ketchup. Sure enough, Sam scrunched up his face in disgust.
"Dude." Sam chucked a paper napkin his way. "I said, you were talking to the car, weren't you?"
Dean looked in front of him at the dashboard and remembered how she replied under his fingers. If it could, Dean suspected it would wink at him.
"Nope," Dean replied and swallowed. "Course not. It's a car, Sammy." He wiped his mouth clean of ketchup, wadded up the napkin, and tossed it back at Sam.
Author's Notes: I took a different approach with this one. Whereas i didn't reveal whom/what the character was talking to, I did the reverse here. For myself, it was a surprisingly good exercise. I had started to write this under the intention of it being someone else.