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11 April 2008 @ 01:50 am
Epilogues (The Winding Roads Remix) [SPN; Dean, Sam; Gen]  
Title: Epilogues (The Winding Roads Remix)
Author: lorax
Fandom: Supernatural
Characters: Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester
Summary: "She doesn't say anything. She never does. How can she?"
Warnings: Character Death, sort of
Word Count: 2200
Spoilers: AU from the Season two Episode "Nightshifter"
Rating: PG
Title, Author and URL of Original Story: Ripping out all our Epilogues, by maharetr.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Kripke and the CW and such own them. Just borrowing them!
Feedback: Please! It makes me do a happy dance.
Author's Notes: I was fairly sure that this was a weird concept that I wasn't certain would work at all. And then I showed it to my beta, and she said "I feel like I've read it somewhere before," which makes me wonder if I have unknowingly ripped off the idea. If so - FORGIVE ME UNNAMED AUTHOR, IT WASN'T INTENTIONAL. If you wish to take it as such, there might be a slight crossover that the original had nothing to do with. She just snuck in. Thanks to maleficently for the early beta, any remaining errors are my own.


Epilogues (The Winding Roads Remix)
“When all's said and done, all roads lead to the same end. So it's not so much which road you take, as how you take it.”
- Charles Lint



In the seedy hotel next to them, Sam is stretched out on a hard hotel mattress, staring sightlessly at the stained ceiling above him. His eyes were carefully watching anything and everything save the window and the sheen of black metal he can see parked outside through its dingy glass.

Dean leans hard against the curve of the wheel-well, the metal painting bruises onto the skin of his hip and the sun slicing its rays through the clouds to pound relentlessly on the flat black matte of the paint. Dean's leather jacket a victim of fallout, baking in the reflected heat, though he doesn't move away. He just stands there, his hand on a heated metal hood and his head bent toward the ground beneath them both. "I'm so tired of this, baby," he murmurs, quiet and rough-voiced, heartsick in ways he'd never have let himself sink to if his father were here. It's a timeless scene, now, because of how often it has happened. Sam knows, but it's another silent secret they carry, a truth only she sees both sides of because she's seen Sam when he's alone and forgets to mourn for himself because he wants so badly to set things right for his brother.

She wants to say she knows, that she's known for months and that she feels the ache in metal bones because he put them together, but he didn't have enough heart to fill the spaces between them up and make her whole again. She wants to say she loves him, that it will be okay, that he still has Sam and he has her, and that nothing is ever lost so deep and so hard that you can't roll rubber over road and find it again, or at least peace in its absence. It's the religion of the road - drive hard enough and far enough and everything comes full circle and you'll find your faith right back where you lost it again. Dean used to know that, and because he did, so did she.

She doesn't say anything. She never does. How can she?

She's just a car.

*******

Mary liked curving, meandering old country highways where the road brushed up against houses and lives and a slow drive was like a peek into the backyards of America, an up-close vision of lives they didn't live. John liked long stretches of old roads where the earth was flat and the cornfields stretched out for miles on either side of cracked asphalt and he could press pedal to metal and drive without seeing.

Sam drives like his father, all his focus bent on destination instead of journey. Dean likes the roads that curve and twine, like his mother did, and she loves the times when they're in no hurry and he takes them down the ways most people forget ever existed, before overpass highways and toll bridges. He always takes her just a little too fast around the corners, and she worries that one day her tires will be a little too bare and let them slip-slide over into one of those stranger's backyards, pour rock salt and horror into their lives while they watch primetime TV and do their homework. But it never happens, and some part of her knows it never would. Dean takes care of her, and he takes care of those nameless souls he'll never meet by keeping himself free of their lives until the horror finds them on its own, and he and Sam have to come and save them from it.

She likes the curves too. She thinks that's why they're her favorites, Mary and Dean. She loves all of her Winchesters, but those are the two closest to her metal heart, and Dean closer than anyone, because he loves her the best.

She remembers still the first time he sat behind the wheel. John's lap was beneath him, his broad feet on the pedals and Dean's small, sturdy hands turning the wheel with reverent care. John had revved her engines and Dean laughed and switched on the radio, and he'd never looked back - and neither had she. It was years before John handed over the keys, but she'd been Dean's since that first turn of her wheel.

She remembers all the firsts, even the ones they've long since forgotten. The first drink spilled across her upholstery by small hands that were used to stopping somewhere to eat, not John's new life of hunting and motion. The first time Sam pushed open her doors and stumbled out, running on short child-chubby legs for all he was worth back the way he'd come, as if he could change the path they'd taken. Remembers the first time Dean buckled Sam into his car seat instead of John. Remembers the first time they sat in her backseat, helping Sam learn to read while Sam wailed he'd never learn, because Sam always gave up before he tried, and then never let up once he'd started.

She remembers everything. Metal holds every dent, every scratch. Paint over it, pound it out, wash off the dirt, and somewhere, it remembers, still. She and the small diary of John's are the history of the Winchesters, the only legacies they have, the only traditions they keep. She knows her boys. She always has. She's the witness to their lives.

She remembers the first time Dean climbed behind her wheel alone, John vanishing down the road behind him, his big truck churning up dust until all they could see was dust, and then nothing at all. Remembers the roads Dean drove alone, with the music off and his eyes on the road ahead, corn-lined highway to wheat-edged highway, all of his curves and meanders pulled straight and lonely by solitude.

She was just a car. She couldn't tell him to call his brother. Couldn't tell John to get his ass back where he belonged. Couldn't turn up the Zeppelin and slow down, take the curving side streets and remind Dean that there was life outside the hunt. But Dean wasn't a lost cause. Eventually, he found Sam again on his own. She remembers how much easier the roads balanced with one on each side. How much more right the distance felt.

She remembers, too, the semi and the impact and the flash of loss and ruin and the feel of blood dripping onto her seats. She has no nerves, no skin - no touch. But still, she feels, somehow. Most cars don't. They roll by her on the highways, shiny and new and soulless. She thinks you have to be loved to be alive, and she's been loved enough that even when she's caved in and shattered, she could still come back to life, bit by bit.

But she thinks she knew, even then and ever since, as Dean's hands pieced and prodded and pounded, that it wasn't the same. That something was missing, or maybe that what's dead should stay dead, even when it didn't really die.

They've been running on fumes for a while now, her and Dean. And the miles are running out.

***********

She knows as soon as they stride away, leaving her in the nearby garage to cool her tires. It's a bad idea, this bank. The time drags on and on and police sirens squeal around the corner, flashing her black paint in dull red and blue before they vanish again. Hours stretch on and on and she starts to wonder if this is where the tank runs out, sitting alone in a garage, never knowing what happened. It's fitting, she supposes. She's never been able to understand why it is she knows anything at all to begin with, why should she know how it all ends when she doesn't know how it began?

When they're finally back, familiar weight behind her dash and familiar feet pressed to her pedals, her engine takes a moment to start, and at the same moment, Dean can't make himself move to put her in gear.

She hears the conversation, but she doesn't have to. She wants to be angry, wants her engines to flare and her gauges to run wild. She wants a moment of power through her pistons before the end, to be able to say "I was here", before she's gone.

She wonders if she could be happy with someone else behind the wheel, if they changed their minds and let her go.

She wonders what it would feel like, being taken apart, sold for scrap. Wonders if she would feel all the little spaces and the distance between each piece of herself.

By the time they've decided, so has she.

She'd rather make an end of it.

She thinks she never really thought differently - she just wanted a moment to be angry about it.

***********

She's never minded silence. Everything she's ever really wanted to say boils down to I'm here, and she says that without words, every time her engine catches and her wheels roll. Every day she's there when nothing else is solid in their world.

But today she wishes for a mouth and a voice.

She wishes she could tell him she hopes he gets stuck in a damn mini-van.

She wishes she could tell him she didn't really mean that.

She wishes she could tell him to find a nice Mustang, or maybe a Trans Am. Something beautiful but needy that he can fix and keep running and love until it wakes up and lives and loves him back.

He lies across her hood, back to her windshield, her engine block cooling slowly beneath him, and she thinks of all the things she's wished she could say, over the years, and how it's always worked out even though she was kept in silence. They'll be fine, her boys. They can lose all their legacies and still have themselves, and they'll be fine, as long as they're together. Dean isn't meant for alone, and maybe Sam isn't either, he just doesn't know that as well as Dean does.

The car Sam brings is soulless and silent, and she wants to be sorry for that, but they won't keep it, and for now - it's nice to be the only living, unliving thing there for the end.

Dean talks to her as he slides under, pulling all the secrets hidden under her fenders out to take with him, their little cache of lies that make the truth possible. She'd hidden them the same way she'd hidden the reality of what they were, rolling them in and out of danger, away from the bad days and toward the promise of better days. She'd taken care of them without them ever knowing. She wonders if it ever made a difference.

Her doors creak as they shut for the last time, and the raw heat of the fire would have hurt, if she could feel. Instead, it just lights Dean's face in an eerie glow as he collapses in his brother's arm. She's always wondered how she was able to see. Now, she just wishes she didn't have to.

*****************

The fire burn burn burns, and she explodes, remnants in her tank making a small bonfire as metal warps and seats evaporate. Nothing left. One moment she's burning - the next she's watching herself burn.

A slight figure, all dark hair and pale skin, leans against her hood. The firelight dances, reflected from the heavy silver necklace around the girl's throat, and she watches the reflection instead of the reality. She's not burning, and she's not alive. She's not anything. She never even was alive. But somehow, she still knows this is what happens when you stop living.

The girl smiles, kind and warm, and she thinks of Mary. "It's okay. You know, you don't have to be breathing or born to be alive. And half the things that are, they don't do that great a job of the living thing anyway."

She still can't speak, and she wishes this was a story with last words and profound meaning, but she's still silent. Still can't say goodbye, or that she tried, or that she wants them to miss her, but not mourn her. That she wants them to know that it's not their fault, and that she's proud to have been part of what they are.

"It's okay. They know," the girl answers, and she smiles again, laying a cool hand flat on her hood before pulling her door open, sliding behind the wheel. "They always know the big stuff. Most people, they talk so much it's just noise. When you can't say anything, everything means something."

It sounds like nonsense, but it's a comfort, anyway. Cool hands close around her wheel, and the soft, cheerful voice asks. "So - want to go for a ride?"

She can't answer, but she thinks it, and her engines gun and a new road, all rich, round curves and rolling meadows dotted with houses and lives and memories stretches half-seen in front of her. Her wheels turn, and she moves, and all around her is the beating sound of mighty wings. And somewhere beneath it - ACDC and a warm, loved laugh.

~~
 
 
 
maharetr: So proudmaharetr on April 20th, 2008 02:27 am (UTC)
EEEEEEEEE! *incoherent flapping* Oh, my god. You gave her Death and I just... I fucking love Death, and this idea, so much i can't do much more than just flap some more and grin like a loon.

Cool hands close around her wheel, and the soft, cheerful voice asks. "So - want to go for a ride?"

Yes. Yesyesyesyes. Thank you.

I'll be back with slightly more coherence later, when the glee has reduced to a manageable level.
maharetr: So proudmaharetr on April 20th, 2008 07:02 am (UTC)
Oh, man. See, this is the point where -- if I knew who you were – I’d be looking for your email address so I could babble at you in private. Alas, this will have to do. Brace for babbling!

I always felt a little apprehensive not having this on the safe list, even if it really wasn’t fair to make people try and remix drabbles. The title of the fic “Ripping out all our epilogues” is like reading a book, and finding that the characters have torn out the final chapter and said “We’re going off to do our own thing, and you the reader aren’t allowed to watch us. Go away.” I still have no idea what Sam and Dean do after they destroy the Impala, and it feels like none of my business.

So I was nervous that a remixer might take it and try and tell a story I really didn’t want to read. And you’ve written this, and you’ve given the Impala an ending, her own epilogue, and I’m relieved, but much more than that I’m so delighted and happy that you’ve done this, and done it beautifully.

Mary liked curving, meandering old country highways where the road brushed up against houses and lives and a slow drive was like a peek into the backyards of America, an up-close vision of lives they didn't live... Dean likes the roads that curve and twine, like his mother did, and she loves the times when they're in no hurry and he takes them down the ways most people forget ever existed, before overpass highways and toll bridges

I love the fact that for both Mary and Dean, it’s about the joy and love of driving, and for Sam and John it’s about getting from A to B as fast and as uneventfully as possible. The irony of the fact that John takes up the road-trip life, even though he doesn’t have the love of driving. It breaks my heart that after John died, the Impala is the one with the clearest memories of Mary, who knew her best.

The whole fic has these gorgeous ‘this is how their lives were’ moments: The first drink spilled across her upholstery by small hands that were used to stopping somewhere to eat, not John's new life of hunting and motion.

Remembers the roads Dean drove alone, with the music off and his eyes on the road ahead, corn-lined highway to wheat-edged highway, all of his curves and meanders pulled straight and lonely by solitude. *whimpers*

Couldn't turn up the Zeppelin and slow down, take the curving side streets and remind Dean that there was life outside the hunt. But Dean wasn't a lost cause. Eventually, he found Sam again on his own. She remembers how much easier the roads balanced with one on each side. How much more right the distance felt. Gorgeous, gorgeous.

That something was missing, or maybe that what's dead should stay dead, even when it didn't really die. They've been running on fumes for a while now, her and Dean. And the miles are running out. *keens softly*

She wonders what it would feel like, being taken apart, sold for scrap. Wonders if she would feel all the little spaces and the distance between each piece of herself.
By the time they've decided, so has she.
She'd rather make an end of it.
She thinks she never really thought differently - she just wanted a moment to be angry about it.
*sniffles* And just... *hands* This is a perfect, realistic moment of grief and acceptance.

She wishes she could tell him she hopes he gets stuck in a damn mini-van.
She wishes she could tell him she didn't really mean that.

*laughs damply*

She wishes she could tell him to find a nice Mustang, or maybe a Trans Am. Something beautiful but needy that he can fix and keep running and love until it wakes up and lives and loves him back.
I totally need a tissue now, damn you.

And...and, after all that, you give her Death to drive her off into her own epilogue, and they’re so fucking perfect together, and your characterisation of Death is so pitch-perfect I can only flail and worship. Seriously. ‘Thank you for your time and effort’ does not even begin to cover it.
Age of the Geek, Baby: SPN:  Sam&Dean:  lorax on April 26th, 2008 11:31 pm (UTC)
Firstly - thank you so very, very much for the lovely feedback. I'm beyond delighted that you liked it! I was, honestly, a little nervous doing it to begin with, as the unfamiliar narrator and the mechanics of working with it, and how to end it, seemed a little daunting. But it came out well, I thought, and I'm thrilled that it worked for you! I loved the original, so I'm glad you feel I did it some kind of justice! And I'm very glad you didn't mark it as a safe story!

I love the fact that for both Mary and Dean, it’s about the joy and love of driving, and for Sam and John it’s about getting from A to B as fast and as uneventfully as possible. The irony of the fact that John takes up the road-trip life, even though he doesn’t have the love of driving. It breaks my heart that after John died, the Impala is the one with the clearest memories of Mary, who knew her best.
John has always struck me as very utilitarian. He does what needs to be done, after the fire at least. And we saw in the groundhog day episode (which was after the fic was set, granted) how very deeply JOHN Sam became after he lost Dean, so the parallel between the two of them just made sense to me. They were destination people. Dean was a journey person. And I've always liked the idea of Mary and Dean lining up that way. And to me, it just makes sense for a car to love the people best who just loved to drive, not to get somewhere. One of the reasons the original hits so hard is that the Impala is, to me, the last of the thing they're left, excepting the journal, and the last thing that could have had Mary a part of it too, so them walking away from her is them walking away from their own histories and pasts, and I wanted to build that into her.

And...and, after all that, you give her Death to drive her off into her own epilogue,
Heh. I was . . . really not sure of where the end was going to go. I knew HOW it ended - same as the original - but I wasn't sure how I was going to do it until I got there. I had some vague ideas, but the end was sort of the sticking point, and I told myself if I couldn't make it work, then I'd scrap it and start over with something new. But I got there - and Death showed up all on her own, and it pretty much wrote itself. I kept it vague in the first draft, so that it could have been the Death we've seen in the SPN universe . . . but that felt like a cop out, because I was WRITING her as Gaiman's death, so in the end I strengthened it and let it be obvious and then the story felt done to me. So I'm really glad that worked for you!

Again, thank you so much! I loved having a chance to remix your work, so thank you for the original!
maharetr: So proudmaharetr on April 20th, 2008 07:02 am (UTC)
Also, I think you’re completely okay in the ‘did I steal this from someone?’ fears. poisontaster, cherryscott and a couple of other people (phantisma, maybe?) have all done variations on the Impala’s POV, and this is one to join them in the hall of fame. Hell, if you hadn’t said ‘this seems like a weird concept’ I would totally have pegged you as poisontaster.

And now I’m going to shut up and post this before I start second guessing about if you really are PT/who you are etc etc...


PS you’re more than welcome to reply anonymously, if you so desire
PPS For some crazy reason, this fic doesn’t appear when you click the fandom: supernatural tag. All the other tags pick it up, just not that one?

(Anonymous) on April 20th, 2008 08:02 am (UTC)
I'll reply more in depth after the reveal, but I just wanted to say thank you so much for the comments. I'm so glad you liked it, and I was really touched by the response.

And it seemed to show up okay by the tag for me!
liz_marcsliz_marcs on April 20th, 2008 10:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, my! This is beautiful!

You had in me tears over a car. I am...*flails*

This is so perfectly put together and I could so imagine the Metalcar as the Velveteen Rabbit, a car that has been loved into existence and made a silent witness. And Death at the end, so perfect an appearance.

Thank you for the lovely, lovely piece.
Age of the Geek, Baby: SPN:  Dean lorax on April 26th, 2008 11:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm especially glad the Death appearance is working for people, because I did wibble over that.

Thank you for reading!
i_speak_tongue: adrifti_speak_tongue on April 20th, 2008 11:52 pm (UTC)
Wow. This was lovely. Just as heartbreaking as the original, but in a completely different way. I couldn't help but think of The Velveteen Rabbit when I read this, (one of my favorite stories as a child) ...with Death in the role of the Flower Fairy. Lol.

The Impala really has a voice here, so nurturing and yet loyal and devoted, like a faithful pet, but so much more...

Wonderful.

Age of the Geek, Baby: SPN:  Sam&Dean:  lorax on April 26th, 2008 11:36 pm (UTC)
Heh, a few people have mentioend that, and really I didn't SET OUT to build in that comparison, but I think the idea of it snuck in all on it's own, as I grew up with that story too.

Thank you so much!
Nora Norwich: Sam puppyfacenorwich36 on April 21st, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC)
This is really gorgeous. It also made me cry. I loved the Impala's POV, and the ending with Death.
Age of the Geek, Baby: Sandman:  Death lorax on April 26th, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoyed it!
a rearranger of the proverbial bookshelf: Impalaembroiderama on April 22nd, 2008 12:13 am (UTC)
This is so gorgeous, the way you make her real, with her own way of seeing things. The love she has for the Winchesters, the things she sees at the end--guh!
Age of the Geek, Baby: Sandman:  lorax on April 26th, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC)
Aww, thank you so much. I'm glad you liked it!
peeps wanna see peeps boink: listen to her purrmusesfool on April 22nd, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
God, this is so gorgeous and heartbreaking and true. And I LOVE that Death comes for the Impala, acknowledges her life, such as it is. And the Velveteen Rabbit reference, that she's become Real because of how much she was love. Oh god, I am totally tearing up at my desk.

♥ ♥ ♥
Age of the Geek, Baby: SPN:  Dean lorax on April 26th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
Hee, thank you so much! I'm really glad it worked for you!
soundingsea: spn - impala - multitudessoundingsea on April 26th, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC)
This is fabulous. I love how rich you make the Impala's worldview, how true and loving. *cries*
Age of the Geek, Baby: SPN:  Sam&Dean:  lorax on April 26th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Firecracker: deanfirecracking on April 26th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
Ahh, you made me cry. This is absolutely wonderful - I love the Impala's voice, and all the things she sees. So sad! And Death - beautiful. *cries some more*
Age of the Geek, Baby: Sandman:  Death lorax on April 26th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Bet: Jarl/Benson kissies<3dreamt on May 1st, 2008 05:55 pm (UTC)
I finally got around to reading this and (OF COURSE) I am absolutely in love.
You know, I never could stand it when people called her "Metallicar" and now I think I'll have to punch anyone in the face if they do. They're being disrespectful of a beautiful Impala. You totally gave the car a voice and a soul!
I loved the little glimpses of Mary and the boys as kids, the way they drive and what they love about it. And Death! I was confused for a moment but then, oh man. Love it love it love it. Can you say "love" too often? You really are a wonder, you are. Why aren't you publishing?
Age of the Geek, Baby: B/A:  Giles lorax on May 2nd, 2008 04:24 am (UTC)
lol. Thank you hun. I admit - I like referring to her as the Metallicar. I think it's something she'd probably find funny. ;) Thank you for the comment!