Author: Regala Electra
Spoilers: S3, The Kids Are Alright
Word Count: 2,617
Summary: Wherein Ben steals a car, Dean can still track down an angsty Winchester like a boss, Dean’s fidelity to his Impala is confirmed, and there are consequences for being a dumb teenager.
Author’s Notes: A coda to Ben Has Two
Picking Ben up from Lisa’s turns out to be a hell of a thing. Mostly ‘cause he’s up and vanished and now Dean’s running on fumes, still on the hunt, and staying awake for twenty-four hours didn’t used to piss him off this much. Fuck if that don’t make him feel way too goddamn old, and here he is, only freakin’ thirty-six.
Lisa isn’t pleased that Ben took off and was pretty pissed that Ben knows how to hotwire cars. Sam had been the one to explain that it’s a part of being a Winchester: “we’re good at disappearing.”
“Yeah,” Dean had said. “We can Houdini our way out of most situations. But we always wind up finding each other again, right Sammy?”
He’s gotta believe that.
So now Dean’s in desperate need of sleep and he’s cursing the fact that the acorn didn’t fall far from the tree. Ben’s disappearing act is pissing him off ‘cause Dean used to be real good at figuring out where Sam took off back when they were kids ‘cause Sam only had a couple of places in mind when he’s needed “space.” Ben’s not like that.
Boy’s got too much wanderlust in his genes. Sorta too much like how it used to be when Dean was younger and fuck if that ain’t an awful kicker; being forced to think about how his mind used to work when he was younger. Hell, he’s not an old man, no fucking way.
The little bastard even ditched his cell phone so there’d be no way of tracking him by satellite.
But Dean’s ahead of the curve since anything that’s been done, Dean’s tried it. Sure, he didn’t get to be there when Ben was growing up and make a real impression on him, but he’s here now and if there’s one thing Dean knows, besides Sam, it’s his kid.
Ben’s pissed off, young, and dumb in all the ways that matter. But where Dean’s got the upper hand is that Ben thinks he knows everything he’s ever gonna know about life ‘cause that’s the age he’s at and fuck it, Dean’s almost getting old enough to admit he knows jack shit. But he’ll never say it out loud ‘cause Sammy won’t ever let him live that down and the less things Sam can be smug about, the better.
Dean knows just how to catch up to him and he’d finally gotten a break twenty-four hours ago when he’d crossed into Illinois.
He’d picked up a report on a hot ’71 GTO from the Peoria police department. And it had pissed him off being as it’s kind of a big moment in Ben’s life, the kind that goes in those creepy “First Time” albums (or scrapbooks or whatever the fuck they’re called) parents put together for their kids. My Son’s First Grand Theft Auto.
Sam says Dean’s got a misplaced sense of pride. Dean believes grand theft auto should be celebrated so long as it’s done well and hell, after Sam hacked into the police reports and read out how Ben pulled off the heist at a car show, Dean can’t lie. It almost brought a tear to his eye. Then he’d breathed a sigh of relief since it makes the search a hell of lot easier.
What can Dean say? Ben’s fondness for GTOs can’t be denied. It’s the kind of thing that must’ve gotten rooted inside him quick when he was young and impressionable. It’s a love that’ll never break, a fidelity that can last a lifetime and Dean knows that for damn sure. No matter how many times his eyes have strayed there’s only been one baby in his life and that’s the Impala.
Ben’s got that streak of faithfulness to him too and no matter how many car magazines he’ll pick up, boy’s got it in him to admire the classics. Hell he nearly needed to take a moment to like, collect himself, before he started up the Chevy during his first driving lesson and only pulled through cause Dean was right there, riding shotgun and told him to keep his eye on the prize.
Dean bets that Ben’s pissed he wasn’t able to pick off a ’69 but that’s how it works, can’t be choosy when you’re stealing cars.
At least he didn’t pick off one of those modern overly computerized sleek monsters on the road with their lifeless fiberglass bodies hiding all the unnecessary bells and whistles under the curved edges.
Ben’s close, real close and Dean almost has to smile at his arrogance in picking his current hideout. Kid’s got real balls.
Dean parks the Impala a block away from the bar, set deep in a sad row of stripmall stores. Ben didn’t bother making any sign of hiding the damn car, the kind of slipup that should set Dean’s teeth on edge except now his body’s flooding full of relief. He’s found Ben, the kid’ll be safe and there ain’t any need to have that hungry gnaw of fear eating inside of him any longer, so Dean forces the worry to go away and he pretends that it works.
He takes his time walking towards the bar like if he rushes the car’s gonna start up and speed off. He’s not in the mood for running; Dean’s fucked his knee up yet again, this time it’s a sex injury, so it was fucking worth it. But there’s no reason to make an ass of himself and start limping or anything.
The GTO’s not as cherry as Dean would’ve hoped for Ben’s first grand theft auto. It needs a new paint job for starters and the tires need to be replaced. The color in the sodium lights is a faded gold, nothing Dean would’ve wanted personally. He’s partial to black, always will be, a sucker for a dark lady that looks killer day or night.
Dean doesn’t walk into the bar until a couple of burly truckers, thick around the middle, head in, Even though he’s almost taller than both of ‘em, it’s a good way to blend into whatever crowd he’ll find in there in case Ben’s doing at least one smart thing and situating himself in a position to keep his eyes on all entry points.
Nope, so much for thinking Ben’s taken that lesson to heart. He’s keeping with the general mission of being a damn idiot and has his back to the door, leaning backwards on a chair as he tries charming a smile out of a woman who has a look in her face that she knows exactly how young he is and he ain’t never gonna work her pants off and see what color panties she’s wearing no matter how hard he tries. But she ain’t exactly dismissing him either.
Probably kind of messed up that Dean’s proud about that but since Sam’s not here to berate him, he’ll take in the moment.
They’d split up once there were two reports of 70s era GTOs traveling in opposite directions, and Sammy had got his own set of stolen wheels to head out in case he’d come across Ben first. Dean let him think that. Besides there being nothing dumber than running after a hot-headed teenager, the only way to make it worse would’ve been to bring backup.
There’s only one way Ben could take that: two-on-one and nothing would get into his head about how much he fucked up. He wouldn’t get how fucking scary it is to get that kind of call in the middle of the night, what it’s like to hear the panic in Lisa’s voice, and know that it’s cause Ben got himself mixed up in a kind of life that maybe he shouldn’t have ever known.
It’s stupid as fuck for Dean to think Ben’s being all that thoughtful and not just burning off emotions he can barely handle. And there’s the ugly matter of fact that the only reason Ben’s a part of Dean’s family is because the kid ran off in the first place and it’s real kind of hypocritical to come after him yelling at him for doing it again.
That doesn’t mean that Dean doesn’t have a speech prepared, just that he probably won’t be hashing it out with Ben right now. Sam said it lacked spirit when Dean rehearsed it in front of him.
So he’s going in cold, sliding into the seat across from Ben, blocking out the cougar with a heart of gold from Ben’s line of vision.
“You went for flash over substance. I’m disappointed in you.”
Dean doesn’t mention the beer in front of Ben, that’s the least of his worries and it’s not like he wasn’t downing harder stuff at Ben’s age.
Ben just scowls at him, refusing to answer. Even crosses his arms over his chest.
“Not even a word to your mom before you split. Last time at least you left her a note.”
“So what? She’s—she’s getting married, Dean. Did she tell you that?”
“Yeah she told me,” Dean says, gently, because holy shit this is like trying to get a tiger in a bath, ain’t no good outcome unless he plays it smart and why kind of evil bastard tries to wash a giant, angry cat? “We figured it would be better coming from her.”
“You knew. But you didn’t tell me.” Ben pushes his beer towards Dean, half-empty. His hair’s half matted like he’s been messing with it and he looks like hell. Hell, he looks fifteen and all tore up. “Why did you tell me?”
“Me and Lisa thought it would be better coming from her. Guess she thought you were smarter than this. You wanna be handled with kid gloves, fine, we’ll do that. But you running off, what did you think that would prove? That you’re a badass?”
“But I am,” Ben says, tipping his chin up and Dean thinks briefly about pouring the beer over his head for a nice shock of how badass Dean considers him to be. “You and Mom and Sam—you’re all the same. You can’t order me around or tell me what to think.”
“Ain’t that a damn shame? Wanting the best for you. Guess we’re the real monsters.”
“Mom getting married isn’t the best for me.”
“So Sam’s right. That’s what this is all about.” Dean tries laughing but he can’t manage it, only settling for a twist of his mouth, not quite a grimace, sure as fuck not a grin. “Damn. It sucks to lose a bet to Sam, I was on a roll.”
“No. It’s not…I don’t want, I mean I didn’t…” Ben flails around helplessly, lost for words and not finding them in time to keep up his terrible show of badassery.
“You don’t want her to forget you. You ever think that’s how she felt when you ran off?”
Fucking great. Back at square one. And here Dean thought he might’ve been getting to him. “Hey. You’re in the wrong here, kid. Now, you gonna be a man and take it on the chin or do you want to run away again? Maybe get your ass busted by some cop? I thought you were better than that.”
“Maybe I’m not.”
“You wanna play it like this?”
That’s a fuck of a loaded question. Dean’ll hog-tie Ben before he tries stealing away in the dead of night.
Ben takes a long moment, considering his answer. It doesn’t have to be said, what’s on the line because Dean feels it like a punch in the gut. Screwing this kid up because for once he thinks he might be doing the right thing and letting the kid think it through and give him every out Dean’s never really had and still get the short end of the deal.
“I’m sorry, Dean,” Ben says. “I guess, maybe I shouldn’t have taken off.”
“You’ll be sorrier when your mom gets a hold of you,” Dean promises. “Look, maybe we’re not gonna be awesome at talking about our feelings but you ever get that upset ever again, you call me, okay? No matter what. Can you do that for me? It’s a lot easier than me having to hunt you down. But I can still do it or we wouldn’t be sitting here having this chat.”
Ben nods his head, refusing to look Dean in the eyes. “So what’s next?”
“Well, first thing, you’re gonna call in a tip about that poor bastard’s missing car. Get rid of any evidence of a teenager that you might have in there so we don’t have to worry about some CSI kind of cop trying to solve the whodunit. Then you’re not getting behind the wheel for a year at least, maybe more after I talk it over with Lisa. And that’s only my punishment.”
It’s probably evil to savor the brief flicker of terror that passes over Ben’s face before it’s covered with practiced resentment. Dean drinks it deep much like the rest of Ben’s beer.
“Man, when Lisa and Sam get a hold of you, you’re gonna have quite the awesome time. I bet you’ll be working on math problems in your sleep if Sam’s got anything to say about it. Now, next thing on my own little list of ways you can make up for scaring the shit out of us is this: apologize to your mom.”
“Why?” It’s asked warily, like Ben’s expecting some kind of trick or trap.
“Because it’s the right thing to do. You fucked this one up, Ben. It doesn’t matter what happens, no matter what, you’re her kid and she loves you.”
Dean hates it that Ben immediately picks up on what’s unspoken, that no matter what, Ben’s Dean’s kid and he’ll always love him even when he’s being a fucking idiot.
It’s the first time he gets Ben really looking into his eyes though, so consider it a plus in Dean’s parenting column, he’s gotten through to him.
“She’s not gonna forgot you because there’s someone else in her life.”
It’s a little too far, hitting way too close to a couple of other hot pressure buttons that Dean’s steadfastly been ignoring, because Ben’s getting older and what Dean and Sam have together only keeps getting stronger and there might be a few more things down the line that Dean’ll have to face but he needs to put them off and concentrate on this moment alone.
“No more driving for a whole year?”
Figures that’s what Ben zeroes in on.
“At least a year,” Dean says, serious. “Don’t be shocked if you get your ass lojacked for this stunt. Sam’ll figure out a way, even if I can’t.”
They get up from their seats, Dean putting an arm around Ben’s irritatingly higher shoulders. Goddammit, the kid needs to stop growing.
“I didn’t really want to freak you guys out,” Ben admits. “I was too pissed off. Guess I wasn’t thinking.”
“You weren’t thinking but took every precaution not to get found? That’s some grade A bullshit.”
“Maybe I had a really good teacher.”
“If you say that in front of Lisa,” Dean says, “I swear you’re not gonna drive anything except a go-cart until you’re thirty.”
He lets Ben into the passenger side of the Impala, slamming the door shut behind him. Sliding into the driver’s side and putting his key in the ignition, he glances at Ben, who’s already fiddling with the radio.
“You know the rules.”
“Guess I do now,” Ben bitches, slumping down into his seat. Teenagers.
Oh for fuck’s sake. He is getting too fucking old.