C is for Cars

By:  Toto

Rating: PG (language)

Summary: Just an afternoon with the guys, post season 4.

Notes: This was written quickly and not beta’d.  Please don’t distribute without my permission.  SMK belongs to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon.  The story is mine, the challenge idea was Beth’s.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Lee Stetson asked his stepsons.

“It’s easy!”  Phillip was exasperated.  “We’ve done it a ton of times at school.  I’ve even done Mom’s car.  Grandma’s too.”

Lee shook his head as he surveyed the scene in the driveway.  Low yellow ramps, wheel chocks, a large blue tarp to protect the driveway, oil cans and tools neatly to the side.  Did people really do this themselves?

Jamie caught Lee’s look and laughed.  “You haven’t ever done this, have you?”

“Um, no,” Lee admitted.

“How can you have a car like this and not know how to do this?”

“Hey, I have a very good mechanic.  That’s what he’s there for.”

Phillip snorted.  “Yeah, he’s so good that it takes him a day and a half to do an oil change on your car.”

“He’s popular!”  Lee tried to explain but saw the futility. Gradually he had learned that regular people didn’t hire decorators to furnish their homes.  Regular people didn’t go out to restaurants every night.  But he still was hesitant.  Did regular people let
their teenagers change the oil on their cars?

“Come on, Lee,” Phillip told him, “time to move the car.”  Phillip turned and positioned the ramps where he expected Lee to move the Corvette.  He was being extra careful today.  Not only did he know that Lee would skin him alive if he screwed up he had also borrowed the low ramps from Alison’s dad.  Sports car ramps were hard to find, and there was no way they could fit under the car without them like they did with the Jeep or their grandmother’s sedan.  And Alison... Phillip sighed.  She was gorgeous.  And if getting friendly with her dad might make her notice him, Phillip didn’t want to mess that up.

Lee started the car and slowly pulled it into the driveway and up the ramps.  He stopped when directed to by Phillip and watched as Phillip and Jamie carefully placed the chocks behind the rear wheels.  He exited the car, and popped the hood release before he stepped away.

“Are you sure?” he asked them a final time.  As the two teens nodded, he stepped back slightly.  “Okay then, I’m just going to watch from over here.”  Lee sat down on the grass and tried to stay calm.  He remembered telling Amanda that you didn’t love a car, and he knew it was true.  He loved his wife, and he loved his stepsons.  But so help those boys, if they made him make an extra visit to the mechanic instead of having him skip one.

“ARGH!”  The growl came from under the car.  Lee decided to wait, forcing himself to stay seated on the lawn.

“Shit!”  Lee stood up but still didn’t approach the vehicle.  He watched as Jamie bent down and put his head under the car to talk to his brother.

“Damn it!”  Lee sighed.  If the language got any worse Amanda was going to come outside.

“Guys?”   Lee questioned the two pairs of legs sticking out from under the front of his car.

“Ouch! Shit, shit shit!!!”  Phillip squirmed out from beneath the car holding his hand.  “What did your mechanic put the oil plug on with anyway?  Power tools?”

“What happened?” Lee asked as he noticed the red on Phillip’s hand.

“The wrench kept slipping.  I couldn’t get a good enough grip; the stupid thing is on so tight.  Then my hand slipped off and hit
something.”  Phillip looked at his shoes.  “Sorry ‘bout the cussing.”

Lee laughed quietly.  “You okay?”

Phillip nodded.  “Just frustrated.”  He took a breath.  “I know we said you didn’t have to do anything, but do you think you could just get it loosened for me?  I’ll put the wrench right on it.  You just have to turn it a little bit.”

Lee thought for a moment and then nodded.  How hard could that be? As he bent down, Jamie scooted out from under the car.

“The wrench is on the bolt, Lee,” the younger boy told him.

“Okay,” he answered aloud.  ‘I can do this,’ he told himself.

As he squirmed himself under the car and positioned himself under the oil plug he thought he heard Phillip saying something from up above.  Grabbing the wrench he gave a firm turn counter-clockwise and felt it begin to give.  Deciding to make it easier on Phillip he gave it another turn.

Standing above the car, Phillip turned to Jamie.  “Was the oil tray right under the plug?”

Jamie nodded.  “Did you tell Lee to be careful not to move it?”

Phillip made a face.  “Uh oh.”  He hoped Lee knew what the tray was for.  “Well, he said he was just going to loosen the plug, not take it off.”  Phillip sighed and bent down and was rewarded by a stream of curses coming from his stepfather.

After a few seconds of shuffling around, Lee emerged from under the car.

“Um, there was an oil pan under there for that,” Jamie said hesitantly as he pointed to Lee’s shirt.

Lee gave the boy a grimace.  “I figured that out after it started pouring down my neck.”  Turning to Phillip he handed the older boy the wrench.  “The plug is on the ground under there,” he told them pointing toward the car.  “I kinda dropped it when the oil hit me.”

The boys nodded, struggling to keep from laughing.  Lee looked at them sternly, then looked down at himself.  “I’m going in to shower and change.  I’ll get the car down off the ramps later.”

As they watched him walk around to the back of the house, peeling off his shirt to deposit it in the trash bin, Phillip and Jamie finally lost their composure.

“Man, he was way too calm,” Jamie finally said as their laughter had died down.

Phillip nodded and looked toward the garage where their bikes were.  “Yeah.  Way too calm.”

“What do you think’s gonna happen?”

“Well, we didn’t exactly do anything wrong,” Phillip reminded his brother.  “It’s just that...”

“Wasn’t that the new shirt Mom had gotten him?”

Phillip nodded.  “I think I’m gonna be riding that bike of mine for a while yet.”  He sighed.  No way was Alison going to be interested in a boy with a bicycle.

“Hey, think positive,” Jamie told his older brother.  “Maybe they’ll let you drive before college.”

Phillip shook his head.  “I don’t think he’s gonna ever let me near his car again.  And Mom already said Lee had to be the one to take me out to practice.”

“There’s always Mom’s car,” Jamie reminded him.

Phillip looked sideways at his brother.  “Yeah, right.”  He finally stood up.  “Come on.  Let’s find the oil plug and finish this up.  Maybe if we get it all cleaned up before Lee comes back out he won’t be so mad.”

Shaking their heads at the implausibility of that hope, the two ducked down and got back to work.

Inside the house, Amanda watched the scene from a side window.  Lee had gone upstairs to shower but she still took a quick glance around just to make sure he was gone.  Feeling pretty sure she was alone, she began to laugh.  Upstairs, in the shower, her husband was laughing as well.