A/N: So, this started as something (yes, Heather your something) and, uh, shapeshifted into something entirely different. Mostly fluff, a little schmoop and some Winchester moments. It also turned into a little challenge with the word Peeps. It turns out this is my fiftieth story, (and a little over 750,000 posted words) although not my fiftieth Supernatural story, that one is still coming, but I can't resist a milestone. Thank you one and all for all your support, love and everything else. Happy Day. If I could hug you all I would. Thanks to Trasan for the challenge and all!
A/N II: Spot the quotes, get geek points. (There's a hard to spot one in here! Find it and SUPER points and Peeps.)
The woods were damp, an icy mist swirled around the trees like heavy smoke from a fire. Every once in awhile a snowflake would drift down through the dark forest, catching on the barren branches and littering the dead leaves of the path. Something was rustling off the track, moving through the undergrowth. Sam had stopped several times to look back down the hill they were climbing, enjoying the fresh air, the occasional sun breaks and intermittent snow. It wasn't what he'd expected when they'd set out on the hunt, but he was having a better time than…
"Think whatever is out there is some bunny waiting to eat us?" Dean grumbled with a sniff.
"A bunny?" Sam stopped and turned to his brother. Dean had been complaining since—well pretty much since they walked out the hotel door.
"It's coming up on their weekend, the one weekend out of the whole year when bunnies rule," Dean leaned against a tree, smothering a cough. "They might want to get a little back for the bunny abuse the rest of the year."
"Are you okay?"
"Never better." Cough, sniff, cough. "Feeling awesome."
"What's wrong?" Sam asked, kicking himself for not noticing the cough earlier. Of course, knowing Dean…
"It's just my allergy acting up," Dean said, pushing himself away from the tree.
"Allergy? What allergy?"
"The allergy to walking through the woods in the morning, when it's snowing and I don't have any coffee."
"You didn't eat breakfast either." Sam frowned.
"I did too."
"Jelly donuts are not food, Dean."
"What? Yes they are." Dean started walking again, Sam noticed his brother was a little slower than usual.
"No, they aren't."
"You had a bagel with jam."
"It's the same thing," Dean said.
"No, it's not."
"It's fruits and grains."
"What?" Sam asked, his brother's swings of logic occasionally amazed him.
"Donuts are grain, raspberry jelly is fruit."
"I doubt the purple stuff was really raspberries."
"Purple's a fruit." Dean sneezed. "Okay, let me get this straight, bagels are food, but donuts aren't."
"Is sliced bread food, then?"
"Depends on the bread," Sam said, watching his brother closely.
"Okay. What about pickles? Are pickles food?"
"Not by themselves."
"Okay what about pickle sandwiches, are those food?"
"They could be."
"Pickle sandwiches with potato chips?" Dean sneezed again.
"Potato chips aren't food."
"They're potatoes," Dean sounded offended. "What about potato salad, is that food?"
"But potato chips aren't?"
"Sam? They're both potatoes."
"Potato chips aren't really food, like donuts and candy."
"So potato ships are candy?"
"In the same food group."
"The not food food group?" Dean stopped and frowned at him.
"Yeah," Sam said.
"My favorite," Dean smirked and headed back along the trail. "Where is this stupid thing?"
"Maybe it's not hunting yet."
"Then why are we out here?" Dean stopped and sat on a snow covered rock, he scrubbed a hand across his face and looked up at Sam.
"Because we need to catch it right before it feeds," Sam said. "It's most vulnerable then."
"I have a plan." Cough. "Let's wait and let it come to us."
"Bait? You are volunteering to be bait?" Sam felt the first stirrings of panic. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." Dean said. Sam waited, resisting the urge to tap his foot. "Okay, fine, don't yell at me."
"I didn't say a word."
"Yeah, you were doing that Sammy thing. I have a little cold, that's all." Dean smiled. "And you know how I get with a cold."
"You become a whining, complaining miserable pain in the ass."
"Right back atcha."
"I don't whine when you have a cold," Sam said. He put his hand on Dean's forehead, his brother shoved him away. "You're burning up."
"It's just a cold." He stood. "Okay, let's get back to hunting the there's a rope."
"Therianthrope," Sam said automatically. From Dean's grin, Sam knew his brother knew exactly how to pronounce it but was teasing him. Again. Three days. Three long, long long days.
They'd come to the area after reading the reports of several people, three cows, a flock of sheep and five emus going missing. It seemed like an odd combination of disappearances. Sam had started in on the research and finally hit upon the therianthrope, a shapeshifter that moved between human and animals forms. They were true shifters, not were-creatures, but they were unable to change their human form, only from human to various animals. The problem is they were all carnivorous, and like some predators, once they tasted human flesh, they tended to become man eaters.
That was what they were dealing with, one that had gone rogue and was consuming humans. It was hunting right at the edge of a town in a large municipal park. They'd arrive two days before and, after staking out the park the day before, they'd decided to hunt on the small mountain in the center of the park.
"Sam?" Dean whispered. Sam walked up beside him and followed his glance, tracks led away from the trail. "I heard something." A moment later Sam heard the rustling too, something was moving towards them. "Our shifter?" Dean said. "The tracks looked like a cat."
"Could be," Sam eased his gun out of the holster, like all shapeshifters therianthropes could be killed with silver bullets.
A brown bunny with a white tail hopped across the path.
Dean looked over at Sam. "Uh, maybe not."
"Yeah." Sam holstered the gun and they moved out again. A sound behind them caused him to turn. The bunny was sitting in the middle of the path. "Dean?"
"I think it's following us."
"The bunny is following us?" Dean turned around. "Maybe it's a different bunny."
The animal took a little hop towards them, stood on its hind legs, sniffed the air with a twitching nose and hopped into the bushes.
"Must be a different one," Sam said as they started walking again.
"It's their weekend, they are massing for the basket carrying." Dean sneezed again. "I hate colds."
"I hate you with colds," Sam said.
The snow was turning from occasional flakes into an actual flurry as the path turned to skirt the crest of the hill. Small tracks dotted the snow, raccoons, rabbits, deer and birds had all crossed the trail recently. Sam looked down the hill, wondering how that many animals had been moving without them seeing any of them. Unless they are all our shifter. Dean had stopped and was crouched down, looking at something tucked under a bush.
"Drumstick," Dean said with a grimace.
"It's what's left of a large bird leg. Drumsticks, yum." A sly grin crossed his face. "Are they food?"
"Half-rotted, partially-eaten emu legs? Yeah, sure. Have at it, Dean."
"Don't be gross, Sammy. There's another one."
"Leg?" Sam asked.
"No, bunny." Dean was peering over the edge of the path. "Uh, Sam?"
"The rabbit, it's, uh… Maybe you need to see this."
Sam walked over to stand beside his brother. He looked down where Dean was pointing, at the small brown rabbit. The small brown rabbit with the fluffy white tail dragging… "Is that an arm?"
"Yep, pretty sure it is." The rabbit disappeared into the undergrowth.
"Okay," Sam pulled his gun out. Dean already had his in his hand. "You flush it out and I'll wait here…" Let me take the chance, Dean.
"Oh hell no, Sammy, no."
Sam tried staring his brother down, but Dean wouldn't budge. "Okay, fine," he huffed. "I'll go down and flush it out and you kill it. It shouldn't be hard."
"Killing man-eating rabbits never goes as easily as you plan, Sammy. 'It's just a rabbit, go kill it' yeah, right. Works, every time, then all the knights are dead."
"Probably, stupid cold, but that's not what I was talking about. Sometimes I wonder about your education."
"Ah, so it's a movie."
Dean looked at him like he was crazy. "Duh. Okay, let's do this."
Sam moved off the path, heading to where the rabbit had disappeared with its catch. He heard something moving in the bushes, something coming up on him fast. He heard his brother shout as the bear was suddenly in front of him. It raised a massive paw and stuck, Sam was moving when it hit him, but it didn't help much. There was an explosion of pain and then nothing.
"Sammy?" Dean's voice was anxious. A shaking hand brushed his cheek. "Can you hear me?"
"Yeah," Sam said, or that was what he meant to say, mostly it came out as a groan.
"Yeah," he repeated, getting his eyes open that time. "Dean?"
"No, it's the bunny." Dean smiled in relief. "How do you feel?"
"My head hurts."
"Yeah, you stopped yourself from going all the way down the hill by running into a tree."
"That was my plan all along."
"Would have been mine too," Dean said, helping him sit up.
"No, your plan would have been to go all the way down, have the shifter after you and distract it by letting it eat you."
"Well, yeah, but I think my plans through a little better than you do."
"What happened?" Sam ran a quick self-check—nothing broken, head hurt, but didn't feel like a concussion.
"The bunny hopped out, became a bear and whacked you. It's hell at whacking. I shot it, I think it's wounded."
"So it's pissed."
"Me too," Dean said softly. "Think you can stand?"
"Help me up." Sam held out his hand and Dean hauled him on to his feet. A wave of dizziness washed over him, Dean kept a hand on his back steadying him.
"You should stay here, Sam, I'm going after that thing," Dean growled, then sneezed. "Ow."
"Sneeze hurt my nose."
"And the whining begins," Sam said with a smile. "I'm not staying here, you're sick."
"I have a cold, it's nothing."
"It's enough to slow your reactions, you are not going after the rabbit alone."
"After the rabbit." Dean sniggered. "Sounds like a manly hunt we have going, at least it turned into a bear to attack you, that would have been embarrassing being taken out by a bunny rabbit."
They walked back up the hill, Sam's steps getting steadier the longer he was up. Dean kept glancing back with an anxious frown. They reached the place where the therianthrope had attacked him, and scouted around, trying to find out where it had been dragging the arm. The trail led them into a thicket of hazel. Sam spotted a small piece of cowhide under one bush.
"This is the place," Dean whispered. A small bunny hopped out from under one of the bushes. "Sam!" Dean raised his gun.
"Wait!" Sam said, putting his hand on Dean's arm. "That one's smaller than the other."
"And it can't turn into a little bunny?"
"Do you really want to shoot an innocent rabbit?" Sam asked.
"Well, no," Dean lowered his gun. "How do we tell?" The bunny was sniffing the air, the wind changed and it must have caught whiff of their scent. It dashed into the bushes with a tiny squeak. "Okay, great, the bunnies are massing and one of them is a freak, but which one? It would be nice if it had two heads or something."
"That would make it easier."
"And a really cool Godzilla flick. 'Godzilla versus the Monster Rabbit' I can see it now." Dean sneezed, then started coughing.
"As soon as we get back to the motel, you're going to bed," Sam said, frowning at his brother.
"Yes, mom. Another one!" A small rabbit hopped in front of them. "Sam? Is that the right…" The rabbit slowly grew, morphing into something else. "SAM!" Dean shoved him aside as the creature attacked, its huge paw narrowly missing Sam as he fell.
"Dean!" Sam shouted. He pulled his gun and fired, hitting the creature in the flank. It roared in pain and turned on him.
"No!" Dean struggled up and launched himself at the massive animal, it was already changing again, growing larger, teeth descending from a massive skull.
"Dean, let go!" Sam said, desperately trying to get a clear shot, the huge animal was closing in on him when it suddenly screamed—a nearly human scream—and shook Dean off its back. Its attention shifted from Sam to his brother, now on the ground. Sam saw Dean's knife sticking out of the creature's back. It hit Dean with one of its paws, sending him tumbling into the bushes. It turned its head far enough to grab Dean's leg and drag him back into the clearing to get a better grip on him. Dean pulled his leg free with a shout of pain and tried to scramble away, the creature slammed him in the back, Dean hit the ground hard, Sam thought he heard a crunch. The animal nudged Dean's limp body with a paw and turned.
"DEAN! NO!" Sam shouted. The creature launched itself at Sam, it's huge teeth thrust forward. Sam took a deep breath, tried to steady his nerves and fired, emptying the clip into its body. It fell to the ground, with a final heaving breath, still trying to get to Sam, the creature died.
"Dean!" Sam raced to his brother, feeling for a pulse. His hands were shaking so badly, that he couldn't find the pulse point on Dean's neck or wrist. Sam closed his eyes for a moment, took a deep breath, and tried again, he still couldn't find it when Dean took a shuddering breath. Okay, breathing, he's alive. Thank god. He ran his hands over Dean's arms and legs, being extra careful with the one the creature had grabbed in its jaws. Not broken. He gently turned Dean over. "Oh god," he whispered. Dean's face was covered in blood, there was a slash through his shirt, the cut bleeding freely. "Dean?"
"You okay?" Dean groaned.
Some day, Dean, I'm going to kill you. "Yeah."
"It dead?" Dean asked, he still hadn't opened his eyes.
"Yeah," Sam sighed.
"My throat hurts."
"I don't think it needs stitches," Sam said. He dug through his pocket and pulled out alcohol swabs and bandages. They'd decided not to carry the first aid kit, but Sam had stuffed his pocket with supplies.
"What? My throat hurts."
"I don't think it needs stitches," he said, cleaning the wound.
"My head hurts," Dean continued.
"It's bleeding," Sam looked at the wound at the edge of his brother's hairline. "This one might need a stitch. Hang on." He fished in his pocket and found the prepackaged sutures. He carefully cleaned the area and put in three small stitches.
"My nose is running, too," Dean said as Sam finished.
"Is this…" Sam paused and looked at his brother. "Is this about your cold?"
"Yeah, Sammy, what else would it be?" Dean smirked, then cracked open an eye. The smirk quickly became a frown of concern. "I thought you said you were okay?" He reached up to brush the blood off Sam's face. "What the hell, Sam."
"I am okay, Dean, thanks to you," Sam swallowed. "That was stupid, you know."
"What jumping between you and that monster—what was it?"
"What do you mean? It was a rabbit."
"Was not, it was way bigger than a rabbit."
"It was a rabbit."
"Was not, was not, was not. I know it wasn't. It was huge."
"Yeah, and it was a rabbit."
"No, it wasn't."
"It was." Sam slid a hand behind Dean's back and carefully lifted him into a sitting position. "Look," he pointed at the creature's body.
"What the hell is that?"
"I think it's a sabertooth."
"A sabertooth bunny rabbit?" Dean asked incredulously. "That's not even a real animal."
"It could be, you know, they recently found fossils of carnivorous kangaroos in Australia and there are howling carnivorous mice in the boot heel of New Mexico, so maybe there were sabertooth bunnies at some point."
"Scary beasts, I think I would have liked the two-headed one better."
"Yeah, me too. Maybe I should call…"
"No, just help me up, Sam."
"Fine," Sam stood, grabbed Dean's outstretched hand and pulled him to his feet.
"Might need a hand down the hill," Dean said, swaying.
"You think?" Sam snapped, steadying Dean with an arm around the waist. Dean leaned against him. "Don't do that again," Sam whispered.
"No promises, Sammy," Dean sneezed. "My nose hurts."
"You have stitches in your head, a slash on your neck, teeth marks in your leg from a sabertoothed rabbit and you're complaining about your nose?"
"My throat hurts too," Dean whined, nudging Sam with a shoulder. It was Dean's 'it's okay, Sam' nudge. "And my head. I need chicken noodle soup."
"And cold medicine and a marathon of some crap TV?" Sam started down the hill, Dean leaning heavily against him as they went.
"Of couse." Dean smiled. "Look." Two small bunnies hopped across the trail. "Think they are in search of human flesh? Or eggs?" Dean chuckled.
"Probably neither one."
"Spoilsport," Dean said, then was quiet. By the time they got to the car, he was barely conscious, Sam carrying most of his weight. He debated taking his brother to the ER as he fought to get the door open. "Don't even try, Sam," Dean muttered.
"Don't need a doctor, need chicken soup."
"Dean, I think..."
"Don't think, Sam, just take me back to the motel." He leaned his head back against the seat. Sam stood with the door open. "Getting cold," he smiled, "I'm okay, I just need a hot shower."
"And chicken soup?" Sam closed the door and walked around the car.
Sam took a deep breath and started the car, aware his hands were still shaking. It had been close. Dean punched him lightly in the arm, Sam smiled and pulled out of the parking place and headed back towards the motel.
The TV was on, Dean had managed to find a marathon of "America's Next Top Model" before Sam had left to go to the store. In fact, Dean was pretty sure the show had been why his brother decided to go shopping. Sam had been hovering when they got back to the motel. Be fair, you almost got yourself killed, he has a little right to hover. He was happy he'd managed to talk Sam out of a trip to the ER, as much as Sam had fussed at him on the way back, they hadn't stopped at the clinic on the way through town, although Sam had slowed down for a minute as they passed.
Once back to the room, Sam checked his injuries again, and Dean checked Sam. He didn't like the slow seep of blood across Sam's cheek and discovered a slash in Sam's scalp. After trying to get a butterfly to stick in the thick mass of his brother's hair, Dean ended up putting one small stitch to close the wound. Sam insisted he didn't need it, but Dean had used his "big brother superpowers" and got Sam to sit still long enough to let Dean finish. Of course, then I went and blew my cover.
When the stitches were in, Dean stood to head into the bathroom to wash his hands—and ended face down on the rug, Sam helped him up. Dean insisted he needed a shower, so Sam helped him into the bathroom. He knew Sam was lurking outside the door the whole time, listening in case he fell. Which I didn't, take that Sammy. He got out and got into bed then had to endure Sam in "full fuss" mode for an hour. In desperation, he'd started flipping around and found the "Top Model" marathon. Sam lasted for half an hour before grabbing the keys and announcing he was going to get Dean his chicken noodle soup.
Dean sneezed and reached for a tissue. I really hate colds. The wounds on his body ached, but they all paled in comparison to the sore throat and runny nose. I hate colds. Am I whining to myself? He chuckled and shifted in the bed, closing his eyes. Just for a sec, until Sam gets back. The sound of the Impala's engine woke him. He blinked, Tyra was giving her end of the episode "there is only one picture in my hand" speech. Hmm, so was it one episode or two?
The door opened and Sam came in carrying several bags. He glanced at the bed and smiled. "How are you feeling?"
"My nose is runny," Dean said. "And my head hurts, and my leg was chewed on by a rabbit."
"And the whining continues," Sam said, setting the bags down on the table.
"Did you get soup?"
"Yeah." Sam pulled two cans out.
"I got a few things from your favorite food group."
"The not food food group?" Dean asked, sitting up.
"Yep." Sam grinned. "It's Easter, all the candy is on sale. I got a sampling of the whole food group."
"You said potato chips were part of it."
"They had chocolate covered ones."
"What?" Dean got out of bed and walked to the table, digging through the bags. "Hot shit, Sam, you did good. Peeps! You got Peeps!"
"Can't have Easter without Peeps," Sam said, punching him on the shoulder. "There's a chocolate bunny in there in case you need a little revenge."
"Oh hell yeah, I'll tear its little chocolate throat out. Teach its relatives to try and eat me." He started in on the other bag. "What's this?" he said, pulling out the gift bag.
"Oh," Sam smiled. "He was following me, so I thought I'd just bring him home."
"Following you?" What the hell? Dean shook the bag, nothing moved. He cautiously opened it and looked in in. Glassy eyes peered back at him. Four of them. "What is it?"
"Bunny," Sam said with something that looked a lot like a smirk.
"A bunny?" Dean reached in and pulled out the plush animal. It was a pink bunny. White fluffy tail, floppy ears, silver ribbon around its neck and... "Two heads?"
"Yeah, made by a local artist."
Dean looked at the pink bunny. "Morbid and creepifying." He grinned at his brother. "Awesome, Sammy, thanks."
"Sure," Sam smiled at him, then frowned, tears bright in his eyes.. "Dean..."
"Yeah," Dean said quietly. It had been close, he knew it, Sam knew it, no reason to dwell on it. It was a rough gig. He grinned, hoping to reassure his brother. "Wanna Peeps joust?"
"Peeps joust?" Sam said the smile returning. "Are you sure you're up to it? That cold might be too much."
"You're just saying that 'cause I always win."
"You do not." Sam nudged him with his shoulder as he picked up two packages of the Peeps candy. One yellow, one pink.
"I so do."
"You do not."
"Prove it, bitch," Dean said, dragging a chair over to the microwave. "I'm the yellow ones."
Sam put two Peeps in the microwave. Dean hit the cook button.
"I win," Sam said, scraping the mess out of the oven.
"Best two out of three, you cheated."
"You can't cheat at Peeps jousting."
"Yeah you can, and did, I saw you. I get pink this time."
They went through six packages of candy before Dean had a coughing fit and Sam insisted he lay down. Dean grabbed the two headed bunny and a chocolate rabbit on the way back to bed. He put the plush toy on the bedside table. "I'm naming him OneBun."
"Yep. Want to watch TV?"
"Sure," Sam said, sitting down beside him.
Dean broke off one of the chocolate rabbit's ears. "It's the best part Sammy."
"Thanks, Dean," there was a world of meaning in the words.
"Yeah, thanks, Sam," Dean smiled, he settled back and flipped on the TV, shifting a little so he was in contact with Sam. He munched on the chocolate rabbit for a moment. "Stupid killer bunnies, but hey, rabbits zero, Winchesters one," Dean said, Sam chuckled. "Happy Easter, Sammy."
"Happy Easter, Dean."
A/N III: I, in no way, condone Peeps jousting. Unless it's in someone else's microwave.
A/N IV: OneBun can be found at myspace(dot)com (backslash) Onebuns, he wishes everyone one a Happy Easter.