A/N: All you really need to know is 1. my brain goes weird places and 2. my brain is strangely stuck on animal transformation.

A Break in the Routine

So, one of Dad's big rules was "Don't open the door to anyone or anything." Pretty simple rule and usually it was one that Dean could stick to pretty easily. Even when Sam was whining that come on Dean's eighteen now, they can handle people coming to the door. But when Dad says don't open the door, Dean doesn't open the door. Except that there was this dog.

It turned up at about half eight in the morning and started barking (which was hardly the best way to get on Dean's good side) and it hadn't stopped since. Dean had already lost three bets over when it was going to shut up although Sam, ever the optimist, had lost five.

They'd peered out of the window after half an hour of ignoring it hadn't done them any good; it was a scraggy little mutt, a mangy terrier thing with wiry brown hair and a deeper bark than you'd expect. Didn't look all that harmful, but since when were looks ever a good thing to go by?

So they'd left it there to bark and bark and bark and bark some more. It barely even let off when the motel manager came to shoo it away. That had sparked off a big debate over whether the dog shutting up so it could bite a guy's leg really counted and if so, had it stopped before or after the twenty minute mark? 'Debate' being used in the loosest sense of the word (hey, three months of laundry were hanging on it).

But the thing hadn't shut up after that at all. Its persistence was only making them more suspicious of it, but despite that Dean was tempted to open the door just to see what it would do. Anything that involved it shutting up was an improvement. Sam had stopped Dean the few times he'd grabbed the shotgun and moved towards the door because it may just be a dog. Only Sam could give a crap about stuff like that, Jesus.

Eventually, though, they decided that they'd have to do something because it was either that or wait for the thing to lose its voice. They briefly considered calling the appropriate authorities (it was amazing nobody had done that already, really) but Winchesters and the appropriate authorities never seemed to get along well so that plan was quickly scrapped. They finally decided to put the salt in an extra thick line around the door and add extra cats-eye shells and made sure they stood on the other side of it when they opened the door.

The dog did not look impressed when they finally got around to opening the door, though it did shut up. It glanced disdainfully at the shotgun Dean had pointed at it and then trotted in like it owned the place, hopping over the salt-line without a pause, which was either a good sign or a really bad sign. Both Sam and Dean watched in amazement as it hopped up onto the chair and then onto the table. Dean checked outside the door, just to make sure the dog didn't have any buddies and then cautiously closed it.

He turned the gun on the dog again, which was sitting there on the table like it expected something. Dean glanced at Sam but the cogs in Sam's abnormally large brain were turning and Dean wasn't going to get a clue as to what was going on in there until they were finished. Dean turned his attention back to the dog, if the thing so much as moved in the wrong way it was going to get a face full of... hang on, this was the rock salt gun. Goddammit, he'd picked up the wrong gun! Dean doubted rock salt was going to help them if the thing decided to go rabid on them. He quickly scouted out a kitchen knife on the counter on the other side of the table. The far side of the table, typical. He began slowly edging around the dog, gun still pointed at it because it couldn't hurt to try could it? Well, it could hurt, that was the whole point, but,

"Dean, put the gun down." Dean looked over at Sam with an expression that clearly said 'you're crazy'.

"Are you out of your frickin' mind? We don't know what the hell it is!"

"I just want to try this."

"You just want to try this? Try what? You want to see if it'll rip our throats out if I lower the gun?"

"I think it's just a dog, Dean."

"Oh do you now? What exactly would 'just a dog' be doing sitting outside our room for hours barking?"

"Ok, so there's something weird about it, but I don't think it's here to hurt us."

"What, you can talk to animals now? The dog tell you that?"

"Don't be an idiot, I just don't think it looks like it wants to kill us."

"That's a damn good reason to assume that it does-" Dean was interrupted by a short, sharp bark from the dog. Dean readjusted his grip on the gun and just stared at the dog with wide eyes, because he really didn't want to admit what that bark had just reminded him of. A quick glance at Sam told him that Sam had got the same kind of feeling. He slowly lowered the gun, which earned him a look from the dog that managed to convey a slightly exasperated, 'Finally!' followed by, 'Now can we get on with the real problem?'

"Dad?" was Dean's reply, hoping beyond all hope that he was just making a fool of himself in front of his brother and a random dog, not that he'd just hit the nail on the head. The dog gave him a curt nod. "Oh God, Dad, how did this happen?" The dog shot him a look, very similar to the one Sam was shooting him as he spoke.

"Yeah. Don't you think if Dad could talk we wouldn't have gone through all that just now?" Oh so that's how you get them to agree. Turn one into a dog and then ask a stupid question and suddenly Sam's on Dad's side.

"Sorry, have you got a better plan then?" The dog- Dad's growl cut off anything Sam might have had to say much to Dean's relief because Jesus, being stuck in a room with a moody fourteen-year-old for days on end is just not enjoyable. Instantly all attention was on Dad, which he looked pleased with, he turned and looked towards the coffee pot.

Dean was up and moving towards the coffee pot without another word. Or hint, seeing as Dad wasn't up to using words at the moment. Sam immediately got that facial expression, the one where he thinks he knows better than everyone else.

"Dad? Should you really be having coffee?" Dad and Dean turned to look at him with incredibly similar looks of complete disbelief. Sam raised his hands in surrender. "Okay, just a thought, never mind." Sam sat down at the table and studied his father, who blithely ignored him.

Dean caught himself before he poured the coffee into a mug and surreptitiously grabbed a bowl to pour the coffee into. Dad didn't look particularly impressed with having to drink out of a bowl but you can't argue with your physiology so he was just going to have to live with it until they fixed this. Which they were going to, just finding out how might be a problem.

"Do you know how to fix this?" asked Dean. Dad looked up from sniffing the coffee (and Dean wasn't sure if he should be offended that his dad was sniffing the coffee before he drank it) and gave a nod. Well, that was useful. "Do we need to do anything?" Dad shook his head. Wow, this was turning out to be far easier than he expected.

"So, you'll just change back by yourself?" said Sam for clarification. Dad nodded again and then started lapping at his coffee. Dad lapping, that was a weird thought even for Dean. The room fell silent after that (except for Dad's lapping but Dean was trying to ignore that before he burst into laughter from the absurdity). Sam was no doubt wondering exactly how Dad had managed to get himself turned into a different species, while Dean was more concerned with how long it would take for him to turn back.

Then, both their thoughts were interrupted when Dad started wagging his tail. They glanced at each other and Sam was doing a craptastic job of hiding his amusement but Dean couldn't really blame him. Dad lapping was purely because there wasn't any other option, but tail-wagging? Did coffee really make Dad that happy? Would Dad be wagging his metaphorical tail every time he drank coffee? Oh great, Dean was never going to get that image out of his head now.

All tail wagging was brought to an abrupt halt when Sam let out a snort of laughter and Dad looked up at him. No doubt Dad would be saying something right about now if he could, but he couldn't so that left Dean space to explain what was going on. Dean was hesitant to admit to himself that Dad not being able to talk actually made some things easier.

"Dad, you were wagging your tail. It was kinda weird," said Dean. Dad turned and looked at his still tail as though he'd only just noticed it was there.

"You like coffee that much, huh, Dad?" said Sam and it was clear from the waver in his voice that he was only just keeping back from laughing out loud. Dean kicked him under the table because winding Dad up was never a good idea (though Sam seemed very intent on testing that theory). Sam glowered at Dean briefly before looking back at Dad, who still didn't seem to have decided whether or not his tail was a good idea.

Eventually, Dad gave up on tail-watching and went back to his coffee, only for his tail to start up again. Sam was able to keep himself more under control this time, though he still had to look away and press his hand hard against his mouth. Dean looked away as well because Sam's amusement was slightly too infectious for Dean to trust himself not to laugh.

When he realised what was happening, Dad glared at them both, no doubt looking as pissed as a dog can but neither of them could bring themselves to look him in the eye. He growled at them; a clear instruction to get the hell out of his sight if ever there was one.

After that, the rest of the day passed by almost the same as any other day. The usual tedium was occasionally broken by Dad's bursts of frustration at not being able to do anything for himself while in a room made for adult humans when he was a dog who didn't even break three foot standing on his hind legs. Sam also kept having badly-hidden fits of giggles whenever he saw Dad's tail wagging, which was surprisingly often. The way the guy acted when human you'd think, in dog form, that his tail would shrivel up and drop off from lack of use. Apparently, though, aside from liking coffee, he liked being with his sons, just hearing them talking set his tail off. Dean had long since come to the conclusion that Dad had no control over his tail and didn't realise what it was doing, which was a kinda funny thought and therefore one Dean wasn't going to dwell on.

After dinner, Sam and Dean had finished all studying required of them, much to Dean's relief, so all that was left to do was look for something on TV remotely worth watching. Dad joined them on the beds, jumping between one and the other, never really settling down. Had he just been a dog, Dean would almost certainly have kicked him out at this point because it was really annoying, but he kept his mouth closed.

"Dad," said Sam after half an hour or so of this charade, "You should really get some sleep." Dad protested in his own dog-like way, which consisted mostly of blatantly not doing whatever he was just told to. "Dogs need to sleep more than humans, Dad. You'll exhaust yourself." Dean glanced over surreptitiously, surprised at the bare concern Sam was showing. Dad stared at Sam from the foot of the bed for a few moments, looking pretty surprised himself.

Then, Dad did something that would have had Dean's mouth hanging open, were he the kind of person whose mouth drops open at the slightest hint of surprise. Dad leapt off the bed and curled up in his own open duffel bag that was lying between the beds. Dean quickly turned his astonished gaze back towards the TV. Damn, Dad should come home a dog more often.

A few minutes after Dad had dropped off, when Dean thought they wouldn't have to worry about Dad being a dog until the next day (he possibly jumped the gun on that sentiment), Dad started twitching in his sleep. Dogs apparently dream louder than people. It was kind of funny watching him trying to run and barking half-heartedly.

"Think he's chasing rabbits?" said Sam. Dean glanced up at him.

"You mad? He's chasing demons. No way is he chasing rabbits, even if he is a dog." They watched for a little while longer, until the barks turned to whines, which pulled at the heartstrings even without taking into account that this dog was their father.

Dean quickly weighed it up in his head: go comfort his dad or let the whining continue. Really, there wasn't any contest and Dean slipped off his bed to sit by the duffel. He carefully lay his hand on Dad's head and stroked a little tentatively. He quickly clamped down on any thoughts about him stroking his dad's head to chase away nightmares because it was more than just a little bit disturbing. Instead he concentrated on the fact that it seemed to be working and that the whines were dying away and maybe Dad would get a good night's sleep.

Whenever he removed his hand Dad would start dreaming again, so Dean ended up sitting on the floor next to the duffel for the rest of the night. He sincerely hoped that the dreams were a side effect of the curse or whatever it was because he didn't want to think how many nights Dad had spent tossing and turning without either him or Sam even realising.

Dean shook that thought off in favour of watching TV. That's pretty much all they did until he and Sam got too tired and went to bed themselves.

Dean was woken by the sound of a chair dragging across the floor in the kitchenette. He checked the clock; it was about three in the morning. Next he checked Sam's bed; all was well there. Upon checking Dad's bed, though, he found that the little dog was nowhere to be found. Dean debated leaving it and going back to sleep but, well, his dad might not be used to being a dog and could hurt himself in the dark. Dean felt kind of ridiculous for worrying about his dad like that, but he couldn't help it.

He threw off his covers and got up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes as he stretched and yawned, but that quickly stopped when he actually opened his eyes and looked. Outlined against the faint light shining through the curtains from the near-full moon was the shape of a grown man with a muzzle.

"Holy shit!" Dean yelped as he fumbled for a gun or a knife, heck even a chair, just some kind of weapon. The man-dog creature had turned to face him. Had Dean not only just woken up, he probably would have been able to put two and two together and work out what had happened but as it was it took Sam skidding into the room with a cry of, "What's going on?" and slapping on the light before Dean recognised his dad's eyes looking at him above the dog snout.

There was a moment of complete and utter stillness. Sam was the first to break it by bursting into laughter, he was laughing so hard he had to lean against the wall to stay upright. Dad's gaze turned towards Sam and he scowled, but it really didn't have the same effect when he had a muzzle and a pair of dog ears sticking out of his hair. Not to mention a Goddamn tail. That was one pair of pants completely ruined.

Dad made a noise that might have been, 'think this is funny do you?' but without the properly formed tongue and lips it came out sounding like one of those party tricks where owners make their dog 'talk'. Sam slid a little further down the wall, he was going to suffocate if he didn't stop laughing soon. Dean was biting his lip hard, desperately trying to keep a straight face.

Dad turned back to him, raised an eyebrow, but Dean managed to stand up under the scrutiny. Dad pushed a cup of coffee at him across the table and Dean accepted it, though he wondered why he was being given it. Sam, who'd given up the ghost and was now on the floor, enlightened him between bursts of giggles.

"You tried... You tried to drink... out of... of a mug!" and apparently that was just the funniest thing ever in the history of creation because Sam was now pretty much out of all proceedings for the next five minutes. Thinking about it, though, the fact that Dad had made himself a cup of coffee, only to realise that he didn't have the right equipment to drink it, well... Dean hid his snort of laughter as best he could behind his hand and picked up the cup of coffee before his dad could snatch it back and pour it down the sink.

Dad sat down at the table a little awkwardly, he had to sit sideways on the chair so his tail didn't get in the way. Dean carefully schooled his features into something neutral as he sat down, ignoring the uneven breathing and occasional burst of laughter that was coming from the heap on the floor that was Sam. Brilliant time for Sam to get the giggles. Dean sipped at the coffee to cover any twitching his lips might be doing. He suspected that Dad knew exactly how much he wanted to laugh and was staring at him extra hard just to see how well he was hiding it. Dean always liked a challenge and determinedly concentrated on calmly drinking his coffee.

Sam finally regained control of himself and re-entered the proceedings by dragging himself off the floor and into a chair. He slumped back, still grinning stupidly and making an effort not to look at Dad. He didn't quite have Dean's self-control though, and looked up into Dad's eyes that were now entirely focussed on him. Dean looked too and, even though there was no mouth to really confirm his suspicion, it looked like Dad was smiling.

There was also the sound of something soft banging against wood. Dear God, please don't let that be Dad's tail.

Too late, the thought was in his head now and it wouldn't get out. He could feel the laughter bubbling up inside him and all the sad thoughts in the world couldn't help him keep a straight face. Dad and Sam both looked at him, Sam started giggling again. So not helping. The banging sound got louder and, oh God, that could only mean Dad was wagging his tail harder. Dean tried vainly to distract himself by taking another swig of coffee. Boy, was that ever the wrong move. He managed to get the cup safely back on the table before his shaking spilt it everywhere but there was nothing to stop his mouthful spraying across half the table.

Ah well, no point holding back now. Dean laughed and Sam, who you'd think would have been laughed-out by now, laughed with him. Then Dad joined in with laughs that sounded far too much like a dog's bark and they did nothing to help the situation.

They laughed far longer than they had any right to. They were no longer laughing for any real reason: just because everything seemed incredibly, well, funny. Dean was just starting to wonder if some spell had been put on them because this was so unlike them (and for some reason that thought only made him laugh more) when the people in the next room along started banging on the wall.

Dad was the first to sober up, Dean and Sam calmed down at pretty much the same time, wiping the tears from their eyes. Dad pushed himself up from the table and went to start setting up his bed on the floor. Dean followed, pouring the rest of the coffee down the sink because he'd never get back to sleep if he drank it all, and then he wiped the table clean. By the time he was climbing into bed, Dad and Sam were already in theirs.

"'Night," said Dean to the two of them, Sam replied with something that was muffled by the pillow. Dad's answering grunt was thankfully very similar to a noise he'd make without the snout, which was good because anything else could have started Dean laughing again.

When they woke up the next morning everything was back to normal.

The End.

Thank you for reading!