Dean enjoys driving.
He likes feeling the bumps and rolls beneath his feet from the car riding over the uneven road. He likes feeling the vibrations of the car door on his palm as he taps along to the current song with his fingers. He likes the very smell of driving- and yes, it’s that specific. It’s a kind of leathery smell, and nothing’s even leather in her but it’s homely, and comforting, and it reminds him of long nights on the road with nothing but his music and asphalt ahead.
Dean savours the fresh breeze on his stubble that pours in like matured whiskey from a flask when he drives. It ruffles the short hair on his head and creeps it’s tendrils around the corners of his ears where the sun doesn’t reach. He loves the buzz that rises when she races past another car and the wind contracts and the air throws it’s arms out when he’s gone as if to grasp him and pull him back.
She smells faintly of Old Spice; and Sam’s musk, and Dad’s sweat, and Chinese take away and donuts. The indent on the passenger seat from where Sam has slept in and sat in and fidgeted in and lived in is as defined as ever; the creases and corners and shadows dancing across it like an intrinsic painting.
Dean knows every nook and cranny in her. The space behind the cigarette lighter where he keeps a small photo of his mom, the dent in the cassette player from when his dad tried to blindly fumble for the volume knob whilst driving and got angry so he just pushed something, anything, in his desperate attempt. The tear in the driver’s seat that Dean so sorely tried to sew back together, and then tape, and then glue from when he accidentally ripped his hunting knife through it.
He loves hearing Billy Joel’s cockney voice in the early morning, when the singer’s voice rises with the sun and quavers like the clouds in the sky. Bryan Adams crooning in his ear as he falls asleep- the not really classic rock artist something Dean’ll never corroborate listening to but secretly adores. The slow, sometimes upbeat, sometimes downbeat, rhythm of Aerosmith as Steve Tyler crescendos like the squeal of her tires on the tarmac and belts out his lyrics like his life depends on it like Dean’s does.
It’s methodical, and mostly therapeutic. Driving is pretty much the only time Dean can really let go; clear his mind and focus solely on making it to the next rest stop. It gives him an internal peace no hunting, sex, or food, ever can. By now the movements are mechanical, robotic; put the indicator in the ignition, turn the key, wrench the faulty hand break back and slightly to the left so he can reverse or go forward, press down slowly, ever so slowly, on the accelerator and ride, really ride, time the speed so perfectly his feet have a mind of their own when it comes to slowing down and speeding up, run his fingers over the steering wheel and feel the cracks and coarseness of the material from years and years and years of use.
Dean loves being the only one who knows her so well. His dad was her friend, he looked after her real good, but Dean is her lover. He caresses the cool metal in the cold and painstakingly scrapes the winter from her, he makes sure she’s covered up in the sun so she doesn’t get sick, doesn’t get heatstroke. The summer is never kind to her and Dean knows that. Sam doesn’t. Their dad didn’t.
Dean has never, not once, been completely without gas. He thinks of it this way: if your guardian, the one you know is meant to look after you, neglected to feed you for so long you can barely move from the lack of energy, how would you feel?
This is exactly how Dean treats her. He changes her oil as frequently as he can and wipes down her seats whenever he gets the chance. It winds him down from hunting, gives him a high no pot could (he tried that in high school) (the high might be from the petrol but he doesn’t really care).
The times she got broken and damaged during hunting...Dean tries not to think about them. See when Dean’s hunting, a lot of things become uncertain. Inevitability becomes his closest friend and most intimate enemy. When Dean comes back a hunt, he relies on the fact that she’s there, waiting, safe and ready.
The times Dean is forced to take her on a hunt are unavoidable of course. That doesn’t mean he likes them. The day John gave Dean the keys to her Dean made a solemn vow to look after her, and he became to quickly attached to her Sam teased him relentlessly, remarking how Dean treated her like she was his baby.
It kinda stuck.