Dean made it to Castiel’s house just after 7 P.M. A few moments after knocking, his mother Naomi answered the door. Dean was always a little weirded out seeing her fully dressed just to sit around at home. He knew for a fact she had not gone out that day, yet there she stood in a pressed blouse, pencil skirt, and low heels. Her hair was done and she even had makeup on. His own mother never wore makeup unless she was going on a date with his dad.
“Dean. It’s nice to see you. I didn’t realize Castiel was expecting you.”
“Well, he wasn’t. I was actually wondering if he could come over for a bit. Um, or even spend the night? I’m helping Sam with his derby car and thought Cas would like to help too. And since we were gonna pick him up in the morning for the race anyway, maybe he could just stay the night? Please?”
Naomi pursed her lips. “Have you asked your parents for permission?”
She stared at him for a bit, considering. “Alright Dean. I’ll go help Castiel pack some clothes. Don’t stay up too late understand?”
“We won’t. Promise.” She nodded and opened the door to let Dean in before going up the stairs.
Heading into the living room, Dean noticed Gabriel sitting on the couch reading a comic book. Gabe was three years older than Castiel and even though he was annoying, he was the easiest in the family to get along with besides Cas. “Hey Gabe.”
Lifting his eyes, Gabe raised a few fingers from the side of the book in a minimal attempt at a wave. “Hey Dean. Cassie’s upstairs.” He dropped his eyes back to the page and kept reading.
“I know. Your mom’s getting him. He’s gonna stay the night.”
“Cool,” Gabe said absently.
“Yea we’re gonna help Sammy with his derby car.”
“What’s a derby car?” Dean looked up to see Michael walking in from the kitchen. He sat down on the opposite side of the couch from Gabriel and waited for Dean to answer.
Michael creeped Dean out. He was two years older than Gabriel and the two could not be more different. He was always so serious. Gabriel could be annoying, but Michael was just… emotionless. Like a robot.
“It’s for Cub Scouts. They have this race every year. It’s called the Pinewood Derby. Everybody gets the same kit. It’s got a block of pine and four wheels. You have to cut it into the shape of a car, add weights, and then add the wheels. Then you race them. It’s pretty cool. I won a few trophies when I did it.”
“Hmm sounds interesting.” Michael could not look any less interested.
“It gets pretty competitive. The scouts are supposed to do it, but really it turns into a contest between the parents. Last year a five-year-old won. That thing looked like it had been designed by NASA.”
“Isn’t that cheating? Surely that’s not fair to the other children.”
“Yea it’s a little crappy, but the way my dad explained it to me is that the kids of those parents are the ones really missing out. They get to hear all their friends talking about how hard they worked and they feel left out. Usually after a race or two, they insist on doing it themselves. Even if they lose, they had fun making something.”
Michael nodded his head, “Your father makes a good point. It sounds like a good exercise in character building.”
Gabe looked up again. “If he’s supposed to do it all himself, why are you and Cassie helping?”
“We’ll just be giving him an extra hand and advice if he needs it. It’s his last year before he moves to Boy Scouts, so we kind of wanted to do it together anyway. He’s doin most of the work, but he’ll need help with the power tools.”
“Power tools?” Dean cringed as he heard Naomi behind him. “I hope your father isn’t leaving you boys alone to do this.”
Dean turned to see Castiel and his mother standing in doorway. Cas had a backpack on his shoulder and was biting his lip worriedly. Dean raised his hands in a placating gesture. “No mam. He’ll be there the whole time.”
Naomi looked unsure for a moment but saw the hopeful look Castiel gave her and relented. “Alright. I’m trusting you boys to be responsible. You better get going; it’s getting late. And Castiel, don’t forget to take your hearing aids out before bed.”
“I won’t. Thank you mother. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight Mrs. Novak.”
Naomi nodded her acknowledgement and left to the kitchen. The boys waved to Castiel’s brothers and headed out.
“Damn, that was close.” Dean said as they walked down the sidewalk.
“Yes. For a minute there I thought she would change her mind.”
“Yea. So, you excited for the race? It’s Sam’s last year as a cub scout. We gotta make this one count.”
“I am. I wish my parents had let me join scouts. I love going to all your activities.” Cas looked at the ground with a small frown on his face.
Dean nudged him with his shoulder. “Hey it’s ok. You still get to come on that camping trip next month, right?”
“It’s gonna be great. There’s gonna be archery, shooting, cannoning, climbing—”
“I don’t think I should be climbing Dean.”
“Come on. It’s not that high. And you’ll have a harness on the whole time. I’ve never seen a kid fall, I swear.”
Castiel chewed his lip. “Ok. I’ll try it. Just- don’t tell my mother.”
“Psh! Yea right!”
They made it to the other boy’s house and went inside. After saying hello to Dean’s mother, Mary, and dropping Castiel’s bag off, the pair headed to the garage. John Winchester stood with Dean’s younger brother Sam as he bent over a work table. After they all greeted each other, they got back to work on the tiny car.
With John’s help, Sam had already cut the car into the shape he wanted. The boys then all took turns with the palm sander to smooth out the rough edges. Dean chuckled after they were finished and shook sawdust out of Sam’s long brown hair and Castiel’s shorter dark hair. He then laughed harder at how wild each of their heads looked as a result of his tousling. This ended when the other boys grabbed him and took turns holding him down as they mussed his head in return.
After a brief scuffle, they got back to work. John left the boys to the details and went back inside. Castiel and Sam discussed the best placement of the weights to keep the car going forward as fast as possible while Dean checked the wheels and nails for factory defects and smoothing out any he found before adding dry lubricant to help with friction. The weights were added, the car was painted, and the wheels were attached.
“Alright,” Dean started, “moment of truth.” He picked up the finished car and put it on the tiny food scale.
The boys held their breaths as they stared at the little dial. “Five ounces exactly!” Castiel cried. The other two cheered and they all shared high fives.
“Thanks for helping me you guys.” Sam said. “I’m gonna go to bed. See y’all in the morning.”
“’night Sammy.” Dean called. He turned to Castiel as Sam closed the garage door. “So, you wanna make another car?”
Castiel squinted in confusion. “Why? We can’t be in the race.”
“Actually, we can. After the scouts race, they hold an outlaw race. It’s for parents and siblings to race their own cars.”
“I’m not a sibling…”
Dean grinned. “The rules aren’t that strict Cas. Besides, Sam would say you are. We already got my dad you sign you up under the name ‘Castiel Winchester’.” Dean crossed his arms and shot Castiel a smug look.
Castiel stood shocked. “Really? I get to race too?” He asked in a small voice.
Castiel beamed. “Thanks Dean! Oh! We have to get started. It’s almost 10 o’clock!” Castiel was almost bouncing he was so excited.
Dean laughed and clapped his best friend on the back. He loved making Castiel happy. “Let’s do it.”
They worked on the little car for most of the night. Dean used his knowledge from his previous races and Castiel put his honors placement in physics to good use. By 4 A.M. they had finally applied the last layer of clear gloss paint. It was the coolest car Dean had ever seen. Even sitting still, the thing looked fast. It was jet black, perfectly balanced, and completely aerodynamic. They pushed every rule to the very limit while still not breaking any. Dean would have been fine doing that, but Castiel insisted they not. Yawning and exhausted, they stumbled to bed around 4:30.
The race was a blast. As usual, it was great seeing everyone’s designs. There were batman cars, a few that looked like Pokémon, and a bunch with tiny Lego drivers. They had cars in every imaginable shape and color. The crowd cheered for everyone else’s cars when they went down the track and consoled the younger ones when theirs didn’t win. Castiel always had a good time with the Winchesters when they included him in family activities, and this was no exception. Dean enjoyed seeing his friend lighten up and have fun. He loudly participated in every countdown and jumped up and down yelling during every race; no matter whose car was going. Of course, Dean joined him in his cheering when Sam’s car raced. When Castiel’s own car went however, Cas was so nervous he hardly made a sound. The Winchesters more than made up for it as they all screamed and clapped for the tiny car.
Sam ended up winning first in his den and third overall. Castiel won the outlaw race. Dean had never seen his friend so happy. He and Sam stood posing for pictures with their trophies held high while Mary snapped pictures. She then took a few of Sam separately, Castiel separately, and then Dean and Cas together, arms around each other’s shoulders, wide smiles on their faces.
As they drove home, Cas leaned over to Dean. “Thanks for this Dean. I really appreciate what you did.”
“It’s no big deal buddy. I’m glad you had fun.”
“I never thought I’d win a trophy. It’s not like I can play sports or anything.” Castiel stared down at the footwell with a sad smile.
Dean bent his head down to meet his friend’s eyes. “I know Cas. But you don’t need to. You proved that today.”
Castiel brightened a bit. “I suppose that’s true. We make a pretty good team.”
“Hey man, that was all you. I just helped.”
“You did a lot more than that.”
“You’re right. Why am I giving you all the credit? I’m awesome.” They both broke into giggles as the car pulled into the driveway.
Eight years later, two young men move into their first apartment after graduating college. On the wall, they hang a picture of a pair of fourteen-year-old boys. It shows them standing in a friendly embrace, grinning widely. The taller one with green eyes is holding a small black race car. The one with blue eyes and hearing aids is holding a gleaming trophy over his head in victory.