Summary: Early Season Seven – "Sam..." Dean growled from the driver's seat. "Sing." Because this was Queen and one of their anthems was next on the track list...and Dean wasn't going to sing it alone.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Warnings: Extremely vague spoilers for events in seasons six and seven...and usual language
A/N: Set before 7x06 ("Slash Fiction") and inspired by Jane's request
Sing with me. ~ Aerosmith
"I think we turn left at the next intersection," Sam reported uncertainly as he squinted at the map spread across his lap; the maze of lines barely visible as they were illuminated by flashes of light snatched from passing streetlights as the Impala rumbled through town.
The direction hung in the air.
Sam glanced across the bench seat when his brother didn't respond. "Dean. Did you hear me?"
Dean nodded distractedly even as he continued to sing; advising Sam that they called him Mr. Fahrenheit because he was traveling at the speed of light.
Sam sighed harshly as Dean started chanting "don't stop me" and then launched into an impressive air guitar solo – steering the Impala with just his knees as he did so – and then began singing again; loudly and badly...which Sam had always suspected was done on purpose to annoy him.
And it worked every time.
Because he was tired from researching all day and sore from being cramped in the car all night and really just wanted to find a motel and sleep; not have to endure more of his brother's theatrical renditions of classic '70s rock.
Tonight's show: Queen.
And Sam had seen this show, thank-you-very-much; had seen it from the front row of the passenger seat enough times over the years to know which moves went with which songs; which songs required a ridiculously high voice; which drum solos necessitated beating – carefully – on the Impala's steering wheel and dash; which guitar riffs would end with the car briefly swerving off the road; which lyrics he would be expected to sing along with Dean...and the list went on.
Sam sighed again. Because while he was glad that his brother had at least temporarily snapped out of the depressed mood he had been in lately, he really didn't have the energy for this tonight – or the patience.
"Mr. Fahrenheit," Dean corrected seriously; keeping his gaze straight ahead through the windshield.
Sam narrowed his eyes. "Dean."
"Sam," Dean returned in the exact tone of voice and then chuckled when Sam's frown deepened. "Dude. I heard you," he soothed in the beat of silence between songs on the cassette. "Turn left at the next intersection. I got it. I can listen and drive and sing all at the same time. I'm awesome like that."
"Yeah," Sam agreed dryly and rolled his eyes. "You're something like that..." he muttered, returning his focus to the wrinkled map resting on his knees.
Dean chuckled again at his moody little brother and glanced to the passenger seat; recognizing the signs of Sam being tired and not interested in playing along tonight.
...which was just too damn bad.
Because this was Queen and one of their anthems was next on the track list...and Dean sure as hell wasn't singing it alone.
Sam sighed but didn't look at Dean as his brother called his name; because he knew which song was next, too.
After all, in addition to having heard this cassette at least a thousand times, Sam was also the one who had spent all afternoon one day when he was 12 switching back and forth between cassettes from Dean's collection until he had made the perfect mix tape – or so he had thought back then – to give to his brother for Dean's birthday that year.
Sam smiled as he remembered the expression on Dean's face when he had opened the gift as they had eaten breakfast that morning several years ago in their motel room; how his brother had ruffled his hair from across the table and had proclaimed it his new favorite cassette; how they had blared it all the way to school...and all the way home that afternoon...and were still playing it even today because it was still Dean's favorite simply because Sam had made it for him.
"Sammy..." Dean called again as the song began; Queen wondering aloud if this was real life or just fantasy as they were caught in a landslide with no escape from reality.
Sam knew the feeling – as did Dean – and although Sam wasn't in the mood to sing, he couldn't help but smile once more. Because no matter how much "Bohemian Rhapsody" eerily resembled the events in their lives, Dean still seemed to love that stupid song.
And Sam loved his brother.
Sam sighed loudly – as put upon little brothers are apt to do regardless of their age – and glanced at Dean; quirking a smile and silently agreeing to fulfill one of his many roles as shotgun rider: participating in his brother's sing-along...even when doing so meant enduring a song that was almost six minutes long and felt like an emotional rollercoaster.
Dean grinned in response – the expression so genuinely happy that it made Sam's chest ache – and then nodded his approval; having known Sam didn't like this song...but having also known his grumpy little brother wouldn't let him down.
Sam ducked his head and glanced at the map; always feeling inexplicably shy and overwhelmed when Dean looked at him like that; like even after everything, after everything he had done, he was still Dean's reason for getting up every morning.
Sam swallowed; because he didn't deserve that kind of love...and yet Dean continued to quietly, faithfully give it no matter what.
Sam could only hope Dean knew that he gave it right back; that Dean would always be everything to Sam, too...even when Sam knew Dean was purposefully keeping something from him.
Sam sighed and glanced back at Dean as his brother reached for the radio.
"Don't fuck this up," Dean warned seriously; turning the knob to increase the volume and clearing his throat in preparation to begin singing.
Sam laughed; always amused when Dean acted like they were doing a live performance on-air for millions of screaming fans instead of just lip-synching in the Impala for each other's entertainment. Singing just because they were brothers and had always done this, especially when Dean had finally gotten old enough to drive and they had been on the road together without John.
Sam listened as Dean sang; proclaiming that any way the wind blew, didn't really matter to him...which was true. They had traveled around for so long that neither of them really cared anymore about putting down roots in one location. Any way the wind blew, they went; didn't really matter as long as one brother was beside the other when they hit the road and headed to the next town.
The short piano interlude filled the Impala and made Sam shift uncomfortably in his seat; knowing what was coming and hating the part in which the guy confessed to Mama that he had just killed a man.
Because they didn't have a mama – sometimes just the word made Sam want to cry – and because how many times had they done the same? For good reasons – or misguided ones – but still...how many times had they pulled the trigger? Had killed the supernatural inhabiting its meat suit...but had taken the human host right along with it.
How many times?
Sam sighed and glanced out the passenger window as Dean continued to sing.
Because it had been too many times to count, and he could certainly identify with the part about life having just begun...but then throwing it all away, however unintentional.
Sam blinked at the sudden flashes of a burning house and a burning mother – John and Mary's life having just begun together as a couple, as parents – followed by similar flashes of a burning apartment and a burning girlfriend – Sam and Jess's life having just begun together as well; Sam's normal having just begun...and then being snatched away.
"If I'm not back again this time tomorrow, carry on, carry on..." Dean advised.
And how many times had they heard practically the exact same words from John Winchester's mouth as he had departed on yet another solo hunt, leaving them behind.
That was the Winchester way, after all; to suck it up and carry on.
...which was why even now – after everything they had lost – the brothers were still on the road, still heading to another town for another hunt.
Carry on; carry on...as if nothing really matters – nothing except the family business; nothing except saving people and hunting things; nothing except each other.
"Too late, my time has come..." Dean continued; his gaze flickering between the road and the rearview as he sang; his voice remarkably good during the slow part of the song.
Sam smiled – a little brother proud of what his big brother could do...even if it was just sing well when he wanted to – and then felt his smile slip as the truth of those words sank in.
Because that was also the story of their lives; too late their time had come – time to save someone...but arriving too late; time to save each other...but no...too late.
Sam resisted the urge to shudder at the memories of how many times that had happened over the years; identifying with the lyric about shivers going down his spine...and about his body aching all the time.
Because it did; whether from hunts or sparring or just being cramped in a car that wasn't meant to accommodate a guy his size, Sam was sore all the time.
And he knew Dean was, too, though his brother rarely admitted it.
"I don't want to die..." Dean sang.
Sam swallowed at the memory of Dean confessing that to him several years ago when his brother's deal was coming due.
Dean had saved Sam at the cost of his own life; and when it was time for Sam to save Dean, it had been too late – time to save each other...but no...too late.
Sam swallowed again; the memory of that desperation, of that loss making him want to throw up and deliberately breathed through his mouth as he glanced out the passenger window; trying to distract himself by watching the blurry scenery pass by in the darkness.
"I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all..."
Sam huffed a humorless laugh – the sound drowned in the music – because he knew that feeling all too well; could remember him and Dean trying to convince Mary when they had traveled back in time that she should leave John; that she should just not have them; that them not being born was a better plan for the world.
But even then they had been too late; because Mary had already been pregnant with Dean...and that was that.
Sam sighed, wondering how the hell these lyrics didn't bother his brother, and then almost instantly remembered Dean's explanation when he had asked him just that.
"It's just a song," Dean had commented and then had shaken his head at his little brother, having known exactly what Sam was doing. "Just sing it. Don't analyze it."
Sam nodded at the memory of Dean's simple advice and smiled as Dean began his guitar solo; reaching for the steering wheel out of paranoid habit; knowing Dean was amazingly good at driving with his knees – because he had years of practice doing so – but still unable to stop himself from helping to make sure the Impala stayed on the road.
"I got it," Dean informed dryly as he continued his guitar riff; tilting his head and scrunching his face dramatically as he made that air guitar his bitch.
"I know," Sam agreed but did not release his hold on the steering wheel; thankful for long arms that didn't require him to lean awkwardly in the seat to reach...like he used to do when he was younger.
The guitar solo dragged on, but Sam couldn't help but smile at Dean's expressions as he performed it; feeling lighter as he watched his brother's antics and because he knew the seriousness of the song was over. The next part would be an operatic acid trip...and that was when he was expected to join in.
Dean glanced at him to make sure Sam was ready and grinned when Sam nodded. "'Atta boy, Sammy," he heartily responded and abandoned the guitar solo to play the piano chords; his fingers pushing away Sam's hand and then lightly bouncing on the Impala's steering wheel.
Sam sighed and sat up straighter in the passenger seat; amused by how seriously he was now taking this; Dean always rubbing off on him...in more ways than one.
"I see a little silhouetteo of a man..."
Sam laughed – always did – when Dean changed his voice like that.
"...thunderbolt and lightning...very, very frightening me..."
Sam's smiled lingered; remembering how that used to be true of himself; how storms used to scare him when he was a kid and how he would seek the sanctuary then that he sought even now when he was uncertain or scared – his big brother.
Dean suddenly looked at Sam; the only cue Sam got that it was time for his participation.
"Galileo," Sam dutifully sang; having always wondered if there was a reason they were singing about the Italian "Father of Science" or if it was just part of the acid trip that Sam wasn't supposed to be analyzing.
"Galileo," Dean answered in a high-pitched voice; pointing up at the Impala's roof to indicate he wanted Sam's voice pitched higher, too.
Sam rolled his eyes...but did it. "Galileo," he called back.
"Galileo," Dean said again, nodding his approval at Sam's high voice.
"Galileo Figaro...magnifico..." they sang in perfect unison, and Sam laughed; because this was such a ridiculous song.
Dean smiled, clearly enjoying himself, but seemed more pleased that Sam was enjoying himself; that they were having fun together...just like they used to. "I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me..." he sang and then glanced at his brother.
"He's just a poor boy, from a poor family..." Sam returned, smiling. "Spare him his life from this monstrosity..."
Dean's fingers once again played the piano chords on the Impala's steering wheel as he waited for his next part. "Easy come, easy go..."
And boy, didn't they know that lesson well.
"...will you let me go?" Dean continued in a small, quiet voice and then looked at Sam.
Sam shook his head, feeling a strong wave of determination wash over him; because he would never let Dean go...and not just because the song said so. "No, we will not let you go..."
"Let him go!" Dean demanded in a high voice and pointed to himself.
Sam shook his head again; because no way in hell would that happen again. "We will not let you go..."
"Let him go!"
"We will not let you go..."
"Let me go!"
"Will not let you go..."
"Let me go!"
"Will not let you go...never..." Sam told Dean; knowing most people didn't know "never" was in the background of the song because so many words overlapped during this part.
But it was...and Sam always made sure to say it because he meant it; meant that more than any other part of the song.
Call it codependency or whatever the hell you liked, but he would never let Dean go; never again would that happen without Sam going with him...wherever that led.
"Oh, mama mia, mama mia..." Dean sang, sounding like an opera singer.
Sam smiled. "Mama mia, let me go..." he repeated and then swallowed; hating the next lyric even though it was true...especially for him. "Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me..."
Sam's voice faded as the song continued and Dean shook his head, knowing exactly where Sam's mind was headed.
"Stop it, Sam," Dean told his brother, raising his voice to be heard above the music. "I mean it," he added as he launched into yet another guitar solo. "You kicked the devil's ass, man. Remember?"
Sam nodded; because he remembered a lot. He remembered more than Dean wanted to know.
Dean's guitar solo continued, and Sam allowed him to play – and to drive – as he glanced out the passenger window; clenching his jaw in denial as he heard familiar whisperings begin inside his head – Beelzebub himself.
But the devil didn't have time to get started with his lies as Dean suddenly punched Sam in the shoulder, attracting his attention.
"Come on..." Dean called and then immediately started singing again; because this was his favorite part...the pissed part. "So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye..."
The guitar riff let the listener know doing so would not be well received.
"Sam..." Dean growled. "Sing."
Sam nodded; knowing Dean wanted him to focus on the song – on completing their performance – and on nothing else...especially not the quietly echoing voice ringing in his ears.
"So you think you can love me and leave me to die..." they sang together and exchanged glances; because nobody got away with doing that shit to Winchesters. "Oh, baby...can't do this to me, baby. Just gotta get out. Just gotta get right outta here..."
And that had always been the story of their lives, too – to swing into town, take care of what needed to be done, and then get the hell out.
Dean began his third guitar solo, and Sam smiled as he watched; not even bothering to help steer the Impala but allowing himself to relax in the solid – real – presence of his brother sitting beside him.
"Nothing really matters..." Dean quietly sang as the song once again slowed. "Anyone can see...nothing really matters...nothing really matters to me."
Dean nodded in agreement with that lyric; because nothing really mattered to him, either.
As the song finished with softly played piano chords, Dean glanced at Sam; at the only person who meant everything to him and hoped the kid knew that, even though it was rarely said aloud; was only spoken when Dean was sure his brother was asleep...preferably a deeply drugged sleep.
Dean chuckled at himself and then smiled at Sam as his brother looked at him. "You done good, Sammy," he praised and then paused. "Gotta work on that falsetto, though..."
Sam laughed. "Shut up."
"I'm just sayin'..." Dean added; his smile lingering as he teased his brother...and then fading as he realized they were no longer in town. "Well, crap."
Sam frowned. "What?"
"I think we missed that intersection," Dean answered distractedly; staring into his rearview as if he could still see it behind them.
"I know," Sam replied.
Dean cut his eyes at his brother. "What? Why didn't you say something?"
Sam shrugged; not sure why he had remained quiet...especially since he usually loved pointing out such driving mistakes to Dean.
But the song had been good. And they had been having fun singing it together. And taking a left at an intersection just hadn't seemed that important as the Impala had rolled through it.
After all, Sam had a map and they had time. There would be another motel down the road if they drove long enough. There always was.
Dean sighed. "Oh, well..." he commented; because if Sam didn't seem bothered by it – and wasn't going to be bitchy because of it – then Dean didn't care, either. "How far until the next town?"
Sam squinted at the map. "Maybe another 20 minutes or so?"
Dean nodded. "Good," he praised and then reached to turn the radio even louder as yet another Queen classic began playing. "This really is my favorite cassette, by the way..."
Sam smiled – touched that his brother still felt that way after all these years – and joined Dean as they both started keeping beat with the unmistakable clapping and stomping that started the next song.
"Gently," Dean reminded as they pounded on the Impala's interior.
Sam rolled his eyes but made sure to follow his brother's direction; remembering when Dean used to play the intro of this song to help him master the timing of a perfect shot; the two stomps being the time to get set and take aim while the clap was the shot itself.
Stomp, stomp, clap.
Set, aim, fire.
Even now, Sam sometimes silently recited that rhythm before taking a shot.
And it worked every time.
Sam smiled and glanced at Dean as his brother started singing and then joined in.
"We will, we will rock you..."
...which Dean had always said was their theme song when they were teenagers; had insisted on playing it on the way to hunts to get them psyched up; to remind themselves that they were badass and were going to "rock" whatever supernatural fugly awaited them.
"We will, we will rock you..." they repeated and continued to keep beat; stomp, stomp, clap...over and over.
Sam smiled as Dean began to belt out the next lyric; feeling strangely content and at peace.
Because even though their lives still sucked on so many levels; even though there were still secrets between them; even though they were both tired and sore and burdened by too much baggage; even though they were alone in this world...they were still together.
And that's what mattered.
That was real.
That was what Sam was clinging to – had always clung to...his brother – and that was what would get them both through whatever waited down the road.
"We will, we will rock you..." Dean sang.
And for the first time in a long time, Sam believed it.
They would rock whatever crossed their path; whatever tried to pull them apart.
Because that was the family business; saving people, hunting things...and sticking together.