Warning: this story has been known to kill with cute.
A Minor Distraction
Distraction, that was how this thing worked. It did some kind of supernatural equivalent of "hey! Look over there!" and then ran off while you were looking the other way. Or ate you, depending on how it was feeling. Well, it wasn't getting the best of John Winchester, he was far too focussed for that, especially this close to a kill. He knew he had all the necessary weapons, he just had to go pick them up from the motel room, then he'd be able to get the job done, and with time to spare; he might even get a good night's sleep.
So, you can imagine his disappointment when he opened the motel room door to be greeted by a small growling dog. He walked back outside and checked the room number. Yup, room twelve, he was pretty sure that was the right one. He walked back in and that little dog, a puppy, he now realised, was still growling. He'd told Dean and Sammy about taking in strays before. He was going to have to have words with them now and then decide what to do with the dog. So much for a quick job and a good night's sleep.
"Dean!" he called out and the puppy stopped growling, "Sammy! Get out here now!" the puppy trotted up to him followed by – John groaned – another even smaller puppy. "I swear, if you boys aren't out here in the next five seconds..." he left the threat hanging and, stepping over the puppies, turned the bathroom light on because there really weren't that many other places to hide. But no, no sons in there. He called for them again before checking under the beds, puppies trailing behind him every step of the way. He was really starting to get worried now, they should have revealed themselves by now and how small a space can a five-year-old and a nine-year-old squeeze into anyway?
When he called out their names again and was answered with a bark from one of the puppies behind him, he span around and looked at them. Really looked at them. The smaller one's tail was wagging frantically and it was bouncing with energy, tongue hanging out as it panted. The other puppy – the older one he realised it must be because they were both German Shepherds (as far as he could tell) – was standing to attention, gazing up at him like he had the answers to everything. God, he knew that look.
He ran a hand over his face, praying that when he opened his eyes again there would be two human boys stood in front of him. Of course, there weren't. If prayers worked at all, they never worked like that.
"Dean? Sammy?" he tried and the two of them immediately ran forward and leapt up at him, neither able to reach higher than his waist, Sammy barely past his knees. He knelt down on the floor and picked Sammy up by his scruff to get a better look at him. Sammy looked back at him, puppy-dog eyes no longer a joke, puppy-fat no longer a metaphor and paws so huge, he was on the verge of looking ridiculous. His tail was still wagging furiously as John finished looking him over and hugged him close with one arm, his other hand scratching Dean under the chin.
Sam was licking every bit of bare skin he could reach, which was mostly John's neck, with an enthusiasm that was incredibly Sammy. Dean was watching, his two front paws on John's thigh, head tilted and ears cocked forward, tail slowly wagging. Everything about him saying "I'm glad you're here, Dad, but what do we do now?" which was a question with a simple answer. John should carry on with what he was doing, this was a distraction designed to give the creature enough time to get away and John just wouldn't let it.
But then again, that required leaving his sons – in the form of puppies – alone in the room, not even able to use a knife to defend themselves, let alone a gun. Damn, it was good!
Sammy was suddenly squirming to get out of John's arms and John let him go. He floundered over to the door and scratched at it, whining. Tail between his legs and shifting his weight from one back leg to the other, he kind of looked like... like a small boy who really needed the toilet. Which he probably was and it wouldn't do to have Sam making a mess all over the carpet. John got up and went to the door. Urging Sammy back with his foot, he peered out. He couldn't quite remember the rule about pets, but he was pretty sure the phrase involved a 'no'. The coast was clear so John crept out with a whispered warning for both his sons to stay close. He lead them round the back of the building.
John kept a lookout while Dean and Sammy did their business. John wondered just how changed his sons were. They certainly still felt like the boys he knew and loved, and sometimes in this business a feeling was all you had to go on, but he still wondered about it. Were they humans in dog bodies, or had they been somehow... puppified?
Puppified? He felt stupid even thinking the word.
Dean herded Sammy back towards John, Sammy bouncing all around, nipping at Dean's ears and possibly trying bowl him over. Who knew what went through a five-year-old's mind? Let alone a five-year-old that's just inexplicably changed species. John snuck them back into the room where Dean sat and patiently waited, ignoring Sammy who was trying all kinds of things to get his attention. John sat at the table and pulled out his journal and noted in it that the creature doesn't have to be in contact with the things it changes. Luckily, he already knew the changes weren't permanent. He sat and looked at his notes, thinking over what he could do. If he didn't go back tonight, the creature would be long gone, but he couldn't think of a way in which leaving two puppies alone in a room could ever be considered a good idea. There was always the possibility of taking them along with him but that didn't appeal much to him either.
John was distracted by growling and looked up to see Sam and Dean rolling around on the floor grappling with each other. Dean had the upper hand, how could he not? But Sammy was well on his way to licking Dean into submission. Licking seemed to be one part of being a dog Sammy had really taken to, and John couldn't decide if that should worry him or not.
A little while later, when John was no further with making a decision, he heard Sam whining and looked up to find him trying to leap up onto the bed while Dean looked on, tail flopping gently. Sam paused in his futile attempts, with his front paws on the bed he could still barely see over the top of it. He looked over at John, tail wagging hopefully and eyes doing all the pleading he needed. John went over and picked him up and Sammy decided instead that his father would be a good place to have a nap, bed be damned!
That settled it for John. Leaving the creature alive to kill another day had never really been an option. He turned to look at Dean, who snapped his mouth shut quickly, cutting off a yawn. Leaving his two sons as puppies and asleep in the room was just asking for something to snatch them away.
"Dean," Dean stood, watching John's every move, "Go get in the car," it was an automatic order, one he gave often and it came out before John had a chance to think through how on earth Dean was going to carry out that order. Dean continued just looking at him, "Wait here," John amended, safe in the knowledge that Dean could still manage that. He put Sam down on the bed and quickly gathered up everything he'd need, along with a blanket, because God knew what his sons would be wearing when they changed back. He bundled the weapons into the trunk of the Impala then put the blanket on the back seat and left the back door open before returning to the motel room.
"Dean, go get in the car," Dean trotted out the door while John picked Sammy up from where he was curled on the bed and then followed Dean out, locking the door behind him.
Back on the road at last and John found himself checking the back seat far more than usual. Sammy was all curled up on the blanket, had been since John put him there, and Dean was sitting and watching. Always watching, ears cocked and listening for anything, nose twitching for any smell or indication that something might be off. John turned his eyes back to the road when he realised he'd just come to the conclusion that his own son was the perfect dog for their lifestyle.
About half an hour down the road, Sammy awoke whining and promptly threw up. Dean had just managed to get him off the blanket but it still stank, and it would ruin the upholstery so John pulled over and cleaned it up as best he could with a leftover box of Kleenex from when both Sammy and Dean had colds.
"You feeling ok, Dean?" Dean barked, "Dean, I can't read your mind," Dean tilted his head and barked again and, well, ok, it was pretty obvious what he was getting at that time: how else can I tell you? John sighed, "Ok, kiddo, bark once-" he had to stop himself before he started laughing at the absurdity of what he was saying, "Bark once if you don't feel so good and bark twice-" Dean barked twice, "Good." John hadn't a clue if Dean was telling the truth but if Dean thought he could handle it, that was fine with John.
Another hour down the road and they finally arrived. John had barely killed the engine before Dean was looking out the window and barking furiously at the dark forest. John was caught quite off guard by the sudden noise and turned to watch Dean. He had his front paws against the window, almost trying to push through it, his hackles were pretty much up as far as they could go, ears flattened against his head and teeth bared. If Dean were an adult he'd look downright scary.
Sammy, on the other hand, had squashed himself as far into the corner as possible, tail firmly between his legs and shaking with fear. He looked so miserable, it was all John could do not to gather him up and make everything better. Instead, he opted to go out into the forest and really make things better, rather than sit in the car giving false promises to his boys.
"Dean," Dean carried on barking, "Dean!" Dean ignored him again, "Dean! Be quiet!" The barking died out and gave way to a constant growl. John supposed that was the best he was going to get because they were definitely feeling something he wasn't, and it plainly wasn't a good feeling, "And watch your brother," said John before he got out of the car. He grabbed what he needed from the trunk and, with a final backward glance at the car, headed into the forest.
John had been right to think it would be a quick kill and once the body was burned, he ran as fast as he could go back to the car, desperate to make sure he sons were back the way they should be and still safe, because if they weren't, he was at a complete loss as to what to do. He needn't have worried, peering through the back window into the darkness he could make out his two beautifully human boys curled up together under the blanket. He opened the door as quietly as he could but there was still a soft voice from the back.
"Did you get it, Dad?" John grinned at the sound of Dean's voice without even a hint of bark.
"Yeah, I got it," He twisted in his seat to get a better look at the two of them, "Hey, dude, how are you?"
"We're fine, but Sammy says his tongue tastes weird,"
"Well, with all the licking he did I'm not surprised," Dean giggled, barely keeping his eyes open, despite desperately trying to. "You get some sleep now,"
"Ok, Daddy," Dean drifted off before he even finished the word. John put the car in gear and drove on, looking forward to what still promised to be a good night's sleep.