A/N: I blame Jenna for this one. Totally. No cows were harmed during the writing of this fic. Well, Sam, Dean and John did have hamburgers for lunch that time and Coyote stole that herd of cattle way back in the day but none of that counts. This is pure crack. Written quickly and un-beta'd. I have no shame. I apologize to members of the bovine species everywhere, the Happy Cows of California, and the Gods and Goddesses in this Earthly Plane of Existence.

Soundtrack for this one: Thank You Falletin Mice Elf Again – Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas, Shrek The Third Soundtrack

Summary: Dean, John, Sam and Coyote on a hunt in California. Post Coyote's Tale.

Disclaimer: I know I don't own 'em. You know I don't own 'em. Must you torment me with that cruel knowledge?


Part 1 There's the cow, and there's the crater

Plenty of farms around here in San Mateo County, in the great state of Cali. Beautiful countryside, that is if you can ignore the craters that dot the landscape.

This particular one is pretty damned impressive, nearly fifteen feet deep. Funny thing is, there's no splatter. No guts, no glory. All they can see of this particular bovine is four brown legs sticking stiffly straight up into the air, like table legs. It's sunk into the ground up to its belly.

Dean stands a few inches back from the edge and rocks back and forth on his heels slightly, his hands jammed into the pockets of his leather jacket. John and Sam stand on either side of him.

They look like any other looky loos you might see by the side of the highway, except these morbid curiosity seekers are packing guns with special silver loads hidden in their waistbands, holy water in silver flasks and the power of a trickster god hidden inside.

They're all in each other's personal space. John, Dean and Sam stand practically elbow to elbow, and the Old Man sits on the ground between Sam and Dean. There was a time when Coyote never would have ventured outside the headspace when John was around. That was months and months ago. They're a family now, which includes getting on each other's nerves and looking out for each other, the whole package deal.

Dean's way too quiet, and Sam can just about predict what's going to come out of his mouth once they spotted this. For the last week or so Sam's endured all the wisecracks from Dean – "Beef. It's what's for dinner." "Where's the beef?" which Dean discovered watching cable one day. Never mind that he was six years old when that saying came out in 1984, but that didn't stop him from running it into the ground, oh no.

Dean was even able to work "Pork. The Other White Meat" in somehow, just to annoy the hell out of Sam. Dean and Coyote damn near howled with laughter, and it must have been funny, because even John laughed out loud.

Sam was not amused.

Sam's never been one much for guessing games, so he just huffs and says. "Okay. Say it."

Dean just shrugs.

"You gonna make me wait for it, aren't ya?"

That wide-eyed innocent look of Dean's nearly perfect. Wait for it? Why, whatever do you mean?

Dean looks at the craters all around and finally says, "Well. It's cows."

"And we are in California," Sam says cautiously.

"Yeah, but dude, they don't seem all that damn happy." In the dictionary next to the word smug there's a picture of Dean Winchester with that expression on his face.

John shakes his head. That was downright awful.

There's more. There always is.

Sam groans silently, does a mental countdown down from five.

At the count of zero, Dean opens his mouth, and --

"Don't have a cow, man," Coyote snarks, in a dead-on imitation of Bartholomew J. Simpson.

Dean closes his mouth with a snap. He looks like he wants to just reach down and wrap his hands around the Old Man's neck like Homer does when Bart works that very last nerve of his. It would look like animal abuse, and technically he would be choking himself, but right now Dean doesn't give a damn.

John Winchester, legendary hunter, ex-marine and recent escapee from the bowels of hell, ducks his head down. His broad shoulders shake a little as he snickers. It's not very macho, but he can't help it. All this time he thought he had only two sons, when he really had three all along.

"Aw, you're just mad 'cause I got there first," Coyote grins. His thick tail's wagging back and forth, and he looks pretty damned pleased with himself.

Dean looks at Sam and John helplessly, in mock distress.

Sam shrugs. "Dude, it's too late. Let it go. Moment's over."

John snort-chuckles. Much more manly.

So far it's just another day at the office. They'd just finished putting down a particularly nasty wind elemental. Somewhere, somehow, it developed a taste for meat. At first it liked to swoop down on people in cars driving down the highway nearby, pull them out of their cars and spirit them away. After it stripped the flesh off its victims it would spit the bones out. The fugly had a bottomless pit for a stomach, and it started snatching cows up instead. Pound for pound, more meat on the hoof. After awhile it started liking the idea of tossing cows, hence the craters.

Naturally the proper authorities ignored everything.

Finding out what the hell it was and where wasn't all that that difficult, either. Dean and Coyote approached some of the local tree spirits and they were only too happy to tell the hunters exactly where the elemental's lair was. Seems that a couple of weeks before one of the hamadryads and the tree she inhabited had been reduced to a pile of kindling when a fifteen hundred pound dairy cow fell out of the sky right on top of it.

"Damn thing evolved, I guess," John said quietly moments before after the Latin he thundered into the air faded away and all that hellish commotion died down inside the cave. Hey, it happened. Sometimes fuglies learned new tricks, zigged when they were supposed to zag.

Job's done now, and they all can relax. The post hunt downtime is sometime that Sam always looks forward to. Coyote's so bored he tries not to yawn, but it's kind of hard not to. Seeing a cow carcass in a crater is rather tame compared to some of the other stuff they'd all seen before. Even seeing the cow hit would've been good for about a ten second thrill, which turned out to be ten seconds of thrill that they didn't get. It was pretty much over by the time they walked back to the Impala.

The Old Man finally cuts loose with a toothy, jaw-stretching yawn, turns in a tight circle and sleepily pads back inside the headspace he shares with Dean.

It's easy to figure this one out. This was the elemental's Hail Mary play, one last great act of defiance.

That was what everybody figured.

They figured wrong.

000

This one is complete. I'll be posting a chapter every other day this week.