A/N: Okay guys, I'm taking guesses at what Sam's type of music might be. GUESSES. None of these have been confirmed canon-wise, though I would like to know what he picks when he gets a chance to drive...
Thirty miles out, and still no music. Sam didn't worry. Fifty miles out, and Sam began to wonder. Sixty miles out, and Dean still hadn't shoved in a cassette. Past time to worry. Sam reached down to the box on the floor, grabbing a cassette at random, and sliding it out of the case.
Sam froze, cassette barely in his hands. "Just...don't," Dean said, sounding weary now. Not as angry and afraid as he had before, and...afraid? What the hell?
"Don't what?" Sam said. Play the innocent card: that generally got a lot of information.
Dean just threw him a knowing look. "No tapes. Put it back."
"Are you okay?" Sam asked, sincere now.
"I'm fine, Sam."
"Because I've been feeling kind of queasy myself from that stupid root drink."
Dean glanced over at him with a frown. "You have? Why didn't you say anything?"
Okay, so that wasn't it. "It's not a big deal," Sam said, waving it off. "But seriously: since when do you not want to listen to your tapes?"
Dean flinched. Sam stared, rewound the moment back in his head. Dean had flinched. "What's going on?" he asked.
"Don't give me that crap. What's going-"
"I don't want to listen to his music, all right?" Dean blurted out, and Sam paused at the strange wording his brother had used.
"Listen to your music, Dean."
There was a sigh before Dean spoke. "No. Dad's music. It's all his." He snorted. "Everything's his," he said bitterly.
Sam sat back, slowly trying to calculate the change in Dean's mood. Generally, when they talked about their dad, there was a hero worship that was almost unrivaled by anything else. Almost nothing could compete with how Dean looked up to their dad.
The only thing that topped it was how Sam looked up to Dean.
"You like it, though, or else you've been faking it really well," Sam said softly. There was a lot more to Dean's dream then he'd let on to. Running around the woods trying to find Sam the entire time. Yeah, right. And Sam had been licked by puppies.
"Yeah, but..." Dean sighed and began to shake his head. "It's-"
"Do you want to listen to the radio?" Sam asked, reaching for the knob. Dean's hand caught him just as he was about to switch it on.
"Don't," Dean said, and he sounded tired again. "There's no point. I..." He gave a humorless laugh. "I don't even know what I like."
Sam pursed his lips but pulled his hand back. He knew damn well what Dean liked, and Dean liked his rock and roll. A lot of the collection had been Dad's, sure, but Dad had been going to pitch the tapes out at one point. It had been Dean who'd snagged them back from their near death experience, Dean who had gone on to find more cassettes by the same bands. There'd been a time when rock music had come on the radio, and only Dean's insistence had kept their dad's hand from turning it off.
Maybe Dean didn't remember any of that, but Sam did. Whatever Dean had seen under the dream root had obviously shaken him, shaken his faith and pride in the man he was and the man their dad had been.
And that in turn shook Sam's world pretty damn hard.
The next two hundred miles were without music, and Sam felt bereft. He wondered how the hell Dean felt.
When Dean didn't put in a cassette the next day as they headed off from their stop for the night, Sam decided that something was going to have to be done. And fast.
He managed to convince Dean to stop in a real city, complete with the usual amount of malls and fast food chains. When Dean showed reluctance, Sam pushed down the guilt that sprang up and asked if they could stop, and he knew they were chasing after Bela, but his stomach...well, never mind, he'd be fine-
They were at a hotel within ten minutes. One within walking distance of the mall, and Sam helped Dean unpack before he said that a walk would probably help. "If I sit in here, it's not gonna be any different then sitting in the car," Sam explained. "Let me take a short walk, see if I can settle my stomach."
"Keep your cell on you," Dean ordered, but he watched Sam walk away with worry and the obvious itch to follow.
He'd really hated to use the little brother card, and worse yet, the sick little brother card when his stomach was fine now, but getting Dean to stop here wouldn't have happened otherwise. Besides, this was for Dean's peace of mind. Sam let that be the final word and firmly quashed the remaining guilt he felt for worrying his brother.
Dean was worrying him, and he'd done it first. So there.
He made it to the mall within ten minutes, continuing to glance back behind him for a recognizable black car. When he was certain Dean wasn't following him, he hurried in and found the mall key and several music stores.
He found what he was looking for easily, and after inquiring to make sure it would do what he asked of it, Sam headed out, package safely tucked in his pocket. He ditched the noisy plastic bag in a random trash can, then made sure his purchase wasn't visible from the outside.
The walk back took about twenty minutes, thanks to traffic and crowds. By the time Sam made it back, his stomach was feeling queasy, thanks to the stupid gasoline fumes that filled the air. Dean was inside the room, surprisingly, but still fully dressed and with his keys in hand. That wasn't so surprising. "You feel better?" Dean asked, watching him with concern.
"Not really," Sam admitted. "Sorry it took so long; I got a little turned around."
Dean rolled his eyes and stood, sliding his jacket off. "And you didn't use your cell phone why?"
Sam gave a sheepish grin, Dean's annoyed sigh one of the best things he'd heard in days. "You gonna be okay while I head out and grab something for us to eat?"
"Yeah, I'll be fine. Just...nothing greasy," Sam added. Stupid root.
Dean gave him a look but said nothing, though he did close the door quietly as he left. Once the rumble of the car was out of earshot, Sam slid over to his laptop and started working.
They were on the road the next day, Sam's queasiness suddenly and inexplicably gone. Dean didn't seem to suspect anything, just took the good part and went with it.
About twenty minutes in, when Dean still didn't show any signs of putting on music, Sam pulled open his laptop. The cord was still attached from the headphone jack, and the cassette with it slid in easily.
"What are you doing?" Dean said, frowning. "The hell is that thing?"
"It's an adapter," Sam explained. He turned the volume up on the car and on his laptop, then hit play. "Lets you play music through anything electronic."
The orchestra started off sweet and low, Vivaldi's springtime chorus complete with the sounds of birds singing in the background. Dean slowly turned to him with an incredulous look. "Not your speed?" Sam asked.
"Turn. It. Off," Dean growled, shaking himself as if someone had dumped a bucket of water on him. "That's not music."
"Actually, this is probably the perfect definition of music, whereas everything else is probably classified as noise."
"That's not music. There's not even any singing, Sam," Dean insisted. He gave a general wave at the laptop. "Something else. Anything else."
"Anything?" Sam asked innocently. Too late did Dean realize his words, and Sam had the next song picked before Dean could utter a protest.
A fiddle crooned, a banjo twanged, and a voice explained how they'd lost their sweetheart one night to a friend. Dean gritted his teeth hard enough that Sam could hear it. "Anything else but country," he managed a moment later.
Sam fought back a grin and moved through the playlist he'd made. He waited a few more seconds, though, because while this was for Dean, Sam wanted some enjoyment, too. Dean looking highly annoyed was the best type of entertainment, as far as he was concerned.
The singer kept going, hitting the chorus and calling for another shot of whiskey. "I'm gonna need some, you keep warbling like that," Dean growled at the singer, and Sam couldn't stifle his snicker in time. Dean's eyes shot to his, then narrowed. "You wanna seriously do this, Sam? Got no problem paying retribution."
"Didn't think you would," Sam said, almost gleefully. He did move on to the next song, though, because Dean's reaction was going to be priceless.
Childish laughter came through first, right before several pre-teen voices chorused that school was here, and it was time for love. "Oh god," Dean moaned. "What the hell's the matter with you?"
"I take it you don't like them either."
"Turn them off! I'm gonna get bubble gum stuck in my ears, you keep going at this rate."
Sam took a deep breath in to quell his laughter, forcing his smile down to a less maniacal level. "Then what else will you listen to?"
"Anything except pre-teens who bounce around in pigtails and Winnie the Pooh t-shirts."
Dean apparently hadn't learned his lesson yet about word choice. Sam selected the next song on the list and let it play. Drums beat an enthusiastic beat, and then a female voice began to sing, high pitched and bouncy.
"I am seriously starting to worry about your mental state," Dean said, casting a suspicious look at Sam. "Seriously, Sam, since when the hell do you listen to Hilary Duff?"
Sam began to answer, then stopped, a broad grin beginning from ear to ear. "Since when do you recognize who she even is?"
Dean froze and suddenly turned back to face the road. "Song was on the TV the other day," he stammered, and Sam watched in fascination as Dean's cheeks turned pink. When Sam didn't say anything, Dean glanced over at him before blurting out, "She's hot, okay? Can we leave it at that?"
"Sure, okay," Sam said insincerely. Dean's glare was nothing short of poisonous, and Sam swallowed his chuckles back. "Different song, I take it?"
Down to business at last. Sam clicked to the next song and let Nickelback play. Dean braced himself before it started, but after a few seconds, he finally began to relax. "Nickelback," Sam supplied. "Good band."
"They're not bad," Dean allowed, but his fingers were already tapping along on the wheel. Sam turned back to the laptop, hopeful at long last. Maybe this would work out better than he thought; he might actually be able to get some of his music to play through the speakers every now and then.
From there, the Smashing Pumpkins played, and they in turn led in to Guns N' Roses. Sam tried his luck and dared to play a song by U2, and when Dean didn't protest, he led to Bon Jovi and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
So far, so good. He let one song finish and continue to the next song, where Def Leppard was waiting. Dean paused for a moment in his finger tapping, then picked up with the beat. Sam let out the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding and waited the song out.
Led Zeppelin followed, and finally, the last song on the playlist, was by AC/DC.
The playlist finished just as they hit the outskirts of a town. Sam closed the laptop and pulled the adapter out, letting a comfortable silence fill the car.
"That diner work for you?" Dean asked, the first words in over an hour. Sam nodded his agreement and slid the laptop away into the leather bag. The car was soon stopped, and Sam reached for the handle.
A hand fell on his shoulder, and when Sam turned back, Dean gave him a rare, genuine smile. "Thank you," he said quietly.
Sam gave a slow grin in reply. "For what? Proving what I already knew: that my brother's always had fairly decent taste in music?"
"I'm remembering that the next time you complain about my cassettes," Dean said, pointing a finger in his direction. He was grinning as he slid out of the driver's seat, though, and Sam followed suit.
And when Dean shoved the Metallica cassette into the tape deck after they finished lunch, Sam finally felt like things were okay again.