Title: I've Got the Night On My Side
Author: Sarah :)
Pairing/Characters: Dean, Sam, and John, gen.
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Through 3x16, No Rest For the Wicked.
Word Count: 2103
Summary: As the finale showed us, the Winchester boys know ALL the words to Wanted Dead Or Alive, even the back-up parts. CLEARLY, this was not a new situation for them.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Duh.
Thanks: HUGE thanks to afrocurl for swooping in to give this a quick read-through at the very last minute. It is much appreciated!
Final notes: This is for the very generous azraelzangel, who bought me for the Sweet Charity auction. I know this is a slight departure from the wee!chester fic you requested, but after the finale, I could NOT get this thought out of my head. (I may be a huge dork. ;)) Either way, I hope you enjoy! :) (PS: Before anyone asks, YES, I did research: the album was released in 1986, the single in 1987, so the timeline works.)

May, 2008: En route to New Harmony, Indiana

"Bon Jovi?" Sam questioned, watching with curiosity as Dean popped the ancient tape into the cassette player. Sam had long believed that the battered copy of Slippery When Wet would outlive them all. With the events of the past year being what they were, he was more certain than ever that it would come to pass.

"Bon Jovi rocks." Dean quickly clarified his statement with a point of his finger. "On occasion."

Sam merely rolled his eyes and admired his brother's ability to avoid actual conversation, even on the night he was due to die.

"And I walk these streets…" As Dean began to sing along with the song that had been a Winchester staple for as long as Sam could remember, he was determined not to join in. As much as Dean tried to make light of things for the sake of his brother, Sam couldn't get past the fact that unless they found some way to take Lilith out, Dean was going to die in a matter of hours.

"I play for keeps," Dean belted out, then smacked Sam on the arm before continuing. "Come on. 'Cause I might not make it back. I've been everywhere…"

At that moment, a wave of nostalgia hit Sam so strongly that he couldn't help but join in on the backing vocals. As much as he tried to resist, instinct proved stronger than his will. "Oh yeah…" he began tentatively, trying to push the memories back of why this situation felt so very familiar.

--

June, 1988: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

"I'm wanted, dead or aliiiiiiive!" Sam frowned from his vantage point in the back seat as Dean performed yet another stirring rendition of the Bon Jovi song. Ever since Pastor Jim had given him the tape from the church donation box (apparently Bon Jovi didn't qualify as appropriate aid to the needy), Dean had done nothing but play the same song over and over again. Even their father was looking at the passenger seat in exasperation.

"Why don't we listen to another song, son? We have the whole album."

"Nope," Dean insisted. "The rest of the songs are crap."

"Dean," John warned.

Dean rolled his eyes. "It's not my fault they suck. The only thing they did right was this one. Besides, you're the one who left the rest of the tapes in the trunk and won't get them until we stop." In defiance, Dean cranked up the volume another few clicks.

Sam was only five years old, but that was old enough to get bored with the small stack of picture books Pastor Jim had saved for him. Dean could listen to his song for hours--Sam finished his books in a fraction of that time. Clearly, something was wrong.

"I wanna sing!" he proclaimed, determined to cash in on his brother's well of never-ending amusement.

"Sorry, squirt." Dean glanced back at Sam. "You can't sing unless you know all of the words. That's kind of the point."

"Daaaaaad!" Sam screeched. "Dean's being mean!"

"Dean, don't be mean to your brother." John spoke reflexively, his eyes still trained on the road.

"Sorry, sir." Dean frowned and peeked at his brother again. "But you still can't."

"But I want to!" Sam whined.

"Too bad!"

"Dad!"

Moving a hand up to massage his temples, John eyed Dean warily. "Just let your brother sing."

"Dad! It's no fun that way," Dean insisted.

"Pleeeeease?" Sam implored, sniffling slightly.

"Look, boys, I don't have time for this." John threw the car into park as the early-morning wake-up call and hours of driving finally resulted in the Winchesters reaching their destination. "Work it out yourselves. I have to go and talk to this Caleb guy, and I need you two to stay right here while I do it. Can you handle that?"

Dean slouched into his seat, grumbling. "This sucks."

John apparently didn't hear him. "Dean, watch out for your brother."

"Yes, sir."

"Sammy, be good for Dean."

Sam pouted and crossed his arms over his chest. "Fine!"

"Good. I'll try not to be long." John began to step out of the car as he noted the glower on Dean's face. "Something wrong, Dean?"

"No. No, sir. It's just…" Dean trailed off. "Why do we have to stay here while you go and talk to this guy? Can't we go in and help? Sitting around and waiting is just…boring."

John sighed. "This is different than with Bobby."

"Uncle Bobby?" Sam perked up in the backseat. "Are we gonna visit him?"

"Not right now, Sammy." John shook his head. "Anyway, Dean, I need to go and check this guy out for myself, and I need you to keep an eye on your brother, boring or not. Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir." Dean threw a level of disdain in those words that no nine-year old should be capable of.

"Look…" John reached back into the Impala and flicked the key in the ignition, and the radio powered back on. "You can listen to some music at least. Deal?"

"Deal!" Dean grinned, already scooting forward to rewind his tape.

"Good. Be back as soon as I can, boys." John headed for the house with a glance back at his sons.

As soon as their father was out of sight, Sam continued his campaign with a renewed vengeance. "Dean! Teach me the words!"

Dean snorted. "Sammy, it's not that easy. It'd take you forever to know them enough to sing along. I had to listen to the thing about a hundred times to do it, and I'm not a five-year old. It'll be easier when you're older, dude." He paused for a second, guilt finally appearing to set in. "Want me to read one of your books with you?"

Sam's eyes watered with tears. "No! I can 'member lots of things! Like when you climbed out the window to go to the arcade when Dad said you couldn't. And when you broke Uncle Bobby's—"

"Okay, okay, I get it." Dean shifted in his seat nervously. "Uh, you're not going to tell Dad about those, right?"

Sam shrugged. "Don't know."

"Sammy! Come on!"

He stared back at his older brother.

Dean narrowed his eyes.

Sam kept staring.

With a growl, Dean banged his head against the back of his seat. "Fine, you can learn the stupid song. But there are some conditions, okay?"

" 'Kay!" Sam offered brightly, clapping his hands together. After a second, his smile dimmed slightly. "What's a 'dition?"

"A condition means I'm older and I get to make the rules," Dean explained. "So condition number one: you can only sing where I tell you to."

"So I can learn the easy parts, and you get the hard parts?" Sam perked up, excited at figuring out Dean's thought process.

"Well, yeah. And because the part about being a cowboy is mine. It's too cool for you."

"What do I get to sing, Dean?" Sam began bouncing up and down uncontrollably. "Tellmetellmetellme!"

Dean attempted to hide a smile at his younger brother's enthusiasm. "Chill out, Sammy. You can be my back-up singer, okay?"

" 'Kay!" Sammy agreed again, despite not fully understanding the concept of backing vocals.

"Great. We'll start you off with the oh yeahs and the wanteds. Listen carefully."

--

Nearly an hour later, when John finally returned to the car, it was to both of his sons singing enthusiastically along to the song he had been trying to wean his eldest off of.

"I guess you boys worked it out, then," he intoned dryly, already pinching the bridge of his nose.

"I've been everywhere," Dean belted out.

"OH YEAAAAAH!" Sam sang loudly, no longer needing the cue from Dean of where to come in.

"Oh, no." John gripped the steering wheel tighter. "What have I gotten myself into?"

Sam grinned from the back seat. Car rides were going to be awesome from then on.

--

May, 2008: En route to New Harmony, Indiana

As Sam sang along quietly with the verse (it felt weird to be joining in on Dean's part) and listened to his brother's exuberance, he struggled with the amount of affection he felt for Dean at that moment. Knowing that it could be his brother's last night alive, and knowing that Dean was trying to give him this one slice of memory before their final shot at voiding the deal, Sam jumped into his assigned role with the same fervor he always had as a kid—backing up Dean. It was his job.

--

January, 2002: Palo Alto, California

"Come on, Sam! Live a little!"

Sam watched as his roommate Jeff winked at him, then danced away back to the corner of the room where the keg was stashed. Going to the party hadn't been his idea, and after Jeff had finally managed to drag him out to it, Sam was wishing he had stayed behind. His physics textbook offered more fun than he was having at the moment, and that was saying something.

Sighing, Sam took a tentative sip of his beer and crinkled his face in disgust. He'd wait it out a few more minutes and then slip out—either way, his appearance would hopefully put Jeff's insistence he have some kind of a social life to rest, so Sam supposed his short-lived stint at the party was worth it. Right before he made his escape, though, the sound of twanging guitars replacing whatever techno song had been playing over the sound system stopped him short.

Shit.

He was so not drunk enough for this.

It's all the same, only the names will change

Blindly grabbing for as many plastic cups as he could hold, Sam pounded back more beer. It wasn't enough to completely dull the sudden stab of pain he'd felt as soon as the song started (the pain that told him Dean wasn't around anymore), but it was a start. It was enough of a start that when Jeff started to form a drunken conga line of guys slurring out the words to the song, Sam took the place right behind him.

The song lyrics were second nature to him, and Sam's raised voice held its own among the din of the others. After the last note had sounded, and his throat felt scratchy and raw (only partially due to the singing), he was convinced that he'd done Dean proud.

If Dean had been there to hear it, anyway.

It was only later that night, when he and Jeff were stumbling back into their room, that Sam realized the true extent to how much a single song was intertwined with his childhood.

"Hey, Sam?" Jeff garbled out. "When we were singing that 'Jovi song, how come you only sang the back-up parts?"

"What?" Sam asked, racking his brain. He had sung the song, right?

"You didn't sing any of the verses or anything. Just went crazy on the background stuff. It was weird, man."

"Oh." Sam bit his lip for a moment, trying to regain his composure. "I, uh, don't know all of the words. Sorry."

Jeff shrugged it off. " 's no big deal. Was just wonderin' how someone could know all of the little parts so perfectly and not the whole thing."

Sam closed his eyes and didn't answer. The because those were Dean's parts rattled around in his head.

--

May, 2008: En route to New Harmony, Indiana

Taking a deep breath and finally allowing the music to sink into him, Sam burst out with a "waaaanted" on Dean's expectant look, and just let loose in the same way he always had as a kid. It was ironic in a way—Sam never realized that the lyrics, and not just the nice beat and ruminations about cowboys, would one day hit as close to home as they did. With he and Dean on their way to take on Lilith, something about the chorus resonated in Sam. Doing everything he could to keep up the happy-go-lucky façade he knew Dean wanted to see, Sam sank further back into his seat to think.

He had three hours to save his brother, and Sam knew which end of dead or alive the Winchesters needed to end up on that night. Dean was nothing if not slippery when wet, and if anyone had a chance of getting out of this, it was him. Singing along with his brother in the face if mortal danger, Sam sent up a silent prayer.

The cowboy always had to win. It was the way of the West, after all.