A/N: Thank you guys so much for all the reviews!! I'm glad this story's been helping rot your teeth. ^_^ There's a version of this story that contains pictures: go to authoressnebula(dot)livejournal(dot)com(slash)784675(dot)html for the first part of the fic; there's a link at the bottom that'll take you to part two. Remember to take the (dot) and replace it with a period mark, and the (slash) with a forward slash mark.
Either way you read this, I hope you guys enjoy the last part!
Four days, and Sam was actually looking like he had the whole walking on four feet thing down. It was a good thing because Dean hated the pained sound Sam made when he hit the floor.
It was a bad thing because it meant that this stupid thing had gone on long enough.
There hadn't been a call from Jim or Bobby in awhile, and that in itself could've been a good or bad thing, too. They could be taking their time to make sure they had the right answer and call any minute. Or they could still be searching fruitlessly, and this was such crap.
Sam barked and drew Dean's attention towards him. Once Sam knew Dean was watching he stepped backwards until his tail hit the couch. He paused and waited, then ran forward towards Dean. Halfway there Sam hit the ground with his tail, and even as Dean stood to help, Sam was still moving and sliding across the wooden floors on his bottom. He slid to a stop right in front of Dean, panting happily.
Dean rolled his eyes. "Great; now you're gonna have slivers in your ass." Sam gave him a pointed look, then panted happily again. Despite his mock-annoyance a moment before Dean started grinning as well. If the kid was happy, Dean was happy. Sam's smile (albeit a puppy one) had always been contagious.
"Are you as tired of this house as I am?" Dean asked him. Sam quickly ran for the door in response. "That's what I thought." He was more than happy to push his chair back and follow after Sam. Almost at the door and Sam slipped slightly, dipping down to his left. Dean caught up fast in time to catch Sam and put him back upright. "Not so fast, Sammy," Dean warned. "Think you've showed off enough for one day."
If dogs were capable of rolling their eyes, Sam would've done it. "Yeah, all right," Dean sighed, opening the door. Sam darted out before him (like Dean figured he would), but then froze, leaving Dean to catch himself in the doorway or risk falling on Sam. "Sam, what the-?"
Ahead on the sidewalk was a young couple walking their dog. The dog was leashed with a shiny red collar that stood out against the white hair. They passed by without taking any notice of Sam or Dean.
They'd certainly been noticed by Sam, though. And Dean knew why. "Sammy, I'm not putting a collar on you," Dean said firmly. Sam glanced over his small shoulder up at Dean, his literal puppy eyes fully engaged. "No," Dean insisted. "Don't ask me to, either, because I won't. It's lame and it's stupid and you're my little brother. I'm not gonna put some stupid thing around your neck just so we can go outside."
Sam gazed at him for a long moment, then shifted to look back out at the yard. They didn't have much outside, just a small wooden porch and a small space of green grass. Ahead, maybe two blocks down, was the park they'd headed over to a few days before. The Impala was parked to the left on the small concrete space, and the sidewalk that was connected to that ran pretty much the length of the town.
They could go wherever they wanted if Sam had a collar on. And Dean knew that Sam knew about Dean's restlessness. It wasn't the kid's fault they couldn't head outside, but Dean could practically see the cogs turning in Sam's little fluffy head. Dean was staying with Sam until the curse or whatever got broken and Sam was back to normal. If Sam didn't go outside, then Dean wasn't going outside. So Dean's anxiousness and need to wander was therefore all Sam's fault. Sam's dumb logic tied it all in to himself, and Dean knew it.
Which was why Sam's slow step back indoors was immediately cut off by Dean's big boot. Sam glared up at Dean and Dean glared right back down at him. "Don't you dare," Dean said firmly. "This isn't your fault, you hear me?"
Sam tried to move around him to go back inside, leaving Dean no option but to crouch down to keep Sam from ducking around him. "Hey," Dean said, voice softer this time. "Sammy, listen to me. This is not your fault. I could head out whenever I wanted but I don't want to leave you. And that's also not your fault," Dean was quick to add. "I'm a big brother, dude. I don't want to leave you. That means you're stuck with me until we figure this out." And that kept Sam out of harm's way, if Dean was watching him. If Dean ever found that stupid idiot from the park, Dean was going to use a leash. Just not on Sam, and not exactly the way the manufacturers had ever planned on it being used.
Sam bowed his little puppy head to gaze at the porch, his ears drooping. Dean sighed and tapped the underside of Sam's chin. "Do you honestly think it'd make you feel any better if you had a stupid collar on?" Dean asked. After a pause Sam shook his head slightly. He still didn't look up, which left Dean wanting to sigh again. He knew why Sam was really upset, but beyond inducing a chick-flick moment (which he'd just tried to do and the message still hadn't gotten through), Dean didn't know how he could help his little brother. Stupid Sam for thinking that Dean would choose freedom from the house over Sam. Stupid Sam and his stupid insistence to do something that he'd hate if it would keep Dean happy.
Not like Dean could really say he shouldn't because hello pot and kettle, but. Things were never the same when it came to Sam.
Dean bit his lip and ran his fingers through his own hair before he stopped. Looked. And began to grin. "Hey Sammy," he said. Sam glanced up at last, still unhappy. A second later, Sam tilted his head in confusion as he watched Dean pull one of the leather bands off of his wrist. He had at least six of them that he'd bought at the Metallica concert a short while ago (and hadn't that been a blast and a half) and he tugged one free now. "Gimme your hand," Dean said. Sam hesitantly handed his right paw forward.
He wound up having to double twist the thing, but the bracelet stayed on over Sam's little paw. "Much better than a collar," Dean said, still grinning. Sam shook his appendage to make sure it wouldn't come off, and when it didn't Sam raised two dark and happy, grateful eyes to meet Dean's. "Happy now?"
Sam nodded firmly. "Good," said Dean cheerfully. "Now march it, mutt." Sam pretended to nip at Dean's pants in response to the friendly name-calling, then scampered down the stairs to follow Dean out of the house.
The phone rang halfway through dinner. Sam was thoroughly enjoying himself as he subtly kept sneaking bites from Dean's slice of pizza. John had been attempting to help distract Dean enough to keep his oldest perplexed and vaguely annoyed, but then the phone had rung and everyone had frozen.
John pushed his chair back and reached for his cell. "John."
"John, it's Jim. I know what was missing."
John snapped his fingers and Dean went scrambling for a piece of paper. A pat at John's foot was Sam, who held a pencil between his teeth. "Thanks kiddo," John said, snagging the pencil just as Dean came back with the paper. "Go ahead, Jim."
The conversation didn't last long: they had most of the ingredients from the warlock's home. The lone two ingredients that had been missing were actually in John's trunk, in his more extensive first-aid kit. The instructions were easy enough, though John made sure to painstakingly write them all down. Last thing he needed was to further screw this up and hurt Sam. John thanked Jim and told him to pass the thanks on to Bobby for him, then ended the call. "Dean, get me a bowl and a lighter," John ordered, hurrying out to the car.
When he came back in, Dean had shoved the furniture in the living out of the way as well. "He got thrown last time," Dean explained. John gave a terse nod and handed the last two ingredients over to Dean.
"Two pieces of each leaf, two teaspoons of each powder," John said. "All in the bowl."
"Isn't there an incantation? 'Cause I'm not your Latin expert."
No, John's Latin expert was staring up at him with two soulful, wide eyes, his tail falling and his tiny little body shaking. "No incantation," John said, softening his voice as he crouched next to Sam. "Hey Sammy; you ready for two legs again?"
The nod was vigorous but still bearing a touch of fear. "You'll be fine, I promise you," John said, reaching out to his son. Sam instinctively took a step back, then shook himself and moved deliberately forward to John. The trust Sam had in John, enough to override his fear, shook John to the core.
He wondered if he'd get to keep that trust. Lately with all of Sam's teenage fantasies of staying in one place...
John turned to Dean. His oldest was watching Sam, and as soon as Sam seemed okay Dean's shoulders came down a full inch. Not the only one worried or scared, then. Truthfully John felt out of his league as well: magic wasn't his thing. They didn't do magic, and they all knew it. It was dangerous, and easy to screw up.
But it had touched his son and John was going to make sure it fixed whatever it had done when Sam had gone downstairs. Speaking of, why had Sam gone downstairs in the first place? Or inside? John had left his son out in the Impala.
"It's all set," Dean informed him. John nodded and placed the bowl on the ground in front of Sam. Carefully he lit the pile of herbs and backed away, Sam and Dean with him. The flame burned brightly for a moment before disappearing completely. The herbs, surprisingly, were all blackened ash.
Unsurprisingly, Dean was the first to speak. "Now what?"
"Sam?" John said, but Sam was already stepping forward towards the bowl. He glanced up at John first, then Dean, before reaching out and touching his paw to the ashes.
A bright light flared and Sam howled. John's vision cleared in time for him to see the sofa tumble over with a familiar and missed voice calling out, "Ow! Sonuvabitch!"
John shot a look at Dean even as they hurried to Sam. "I didn't teach him that," Dean insisted when they reached the sofa.
Brown floppy hair and two puppy dog eyes greeted them. This time, however, they were human puppy eyes, the kind only his baby boy could pull off. "You okay?" John asked.
"Uh, yeah," Sam said, rubbing his head. "But ow. Man, that hurt."
"Lemme see," Dean demanded, climbing over the tipped sofa. John pulled the sofa away to reach his son. "What part of your head?"
"It's not so much my head as it is...everything," Sam tried to explain. "I didn't really hit my head when I flew, it's more..."
"Dean, he just went from a tiny puppy to a teenage boy," John simplified when Dean looked confused. "Give him a minute."
Sam flashed him a smile of gratitude, and the smile was so Sam that John couldn't help crouching and tugging Sam into his embrace. "Dad?" Sam said, bewilderment in his voice.
"God I missed you," he murmured. Sam's arms wrapped around John's neck at the words, and John found that he could still hold Sam without any difficulty, knee or no knee.
"So...why were you down in the basement? Or, you know, in the house at all?"
Sam glanced up from where he was taking off his shoes. Somehow, he'd wound up still clothed exactly like he'd been the day he'd been transformed. Transformations were weird.
And not exactly something Sam wanted to go through again.
Dad was paying attention now, setting his newspaper down on his lap. "That's actually a question I want answered as well," he said. Soft, even voice, but there was an edge behind it, too. He sounded ready to be just as pissed as Dean currently was.
Sam sighed and kicked off one of the shoes, annoyed with the laces. "He was...Dean, he had your picture."
Dean frowned. "He what?"
"Your picture. It looked like that picture of you that Dad has in his wallet, and it had a circle of blood around it. He hurried downstairs with it and I thought he had you or Dad or he was going to...never mind," Sam mumbled, turning away to kick off the other shoe. It bounced off the hardwood floor and settled somewhere in the corner of the room.
"You thought he was going to use blood magic?" Dean asked, confused now more than angered. "On me?"
"He very well may have been intending to," Dad said. The edge was gone from his voice now. "If Sam had interrupted him, he couldn't use whatever spell he had for you, so he had to use a backup spell instead."
"The puppy one."
"Which he threw at me," Sam said, finishing Dean's realized thought.
Dad nodded. "That doesn't explain why you were close enough to see the picture in the first place."
Sam bit his lip. Damn; he'd hoped his dad would've ignored that little hole in the explanation. "I, uh, saw him come in the back door," he said, staring at his sock-clad feet. He wondered briefly if they were going to start smelling after multiple days of having been on. Or were they fresh, just like they'd been the night of the warlock? "I saw Dean moving upstairs, and you were in the study on the right, and..." Sam shrugged. "Y'know." It'd been obvious that somehow, the warlock had given both of the hunting Winchesters the slip and was circling around to take them by surprise.
Sam glanced back up and waited while his dad filled in the pieces that he wasn't saying. "There were two of us and one of him," Dean said, giving Sam a look. "Odds were in our favor, Sammy."
"I wasn't taking that chance," Sam said simply. Not with his dad. Not with Dean.
"The spell could've been more dangerous," Dad finally said. "We got lucky. If I tell you to stay outside, you stay outside. Call me on my cell instead."
Sam nodded and resisted the urge to drop his gaze again. A moment later, and Dad slowly began to smile. Possibility of a lecture had passed. "Glad you were watching, though."
"You put yourself at risk again, and I'll kick your ass," Dean said without missing a beat. Sam rolled his eyes. "I mean it," Dean said, narrowing his gaze.
"I know, Dean," Sam said. He gave his brother a smile, and Dean pursed his lips but uncrossed his arms.
Dad stood and took the bowl of herbs out to the porch to cleanse the remains. "You need help with any of the clothes? Besides washing them: you're on your own there," Dean said, finally allowing himself to grin. "They've gotta stink at this point."
"Actually, I don't think they do," Sam replied. "Which is really strange if you think about it, but...yeah. Feel and smell just like they did that night." He tugged the sleeves of his button-up in order to let it join the rest of the pile, then stopped when his fingers touched something thin. "What the...?"
Sam quickly pulled the shirt off and...there. On his wrist was a small leather band. "It stayed on?" Dean asked incredulously. "Dude."
"Yeah, I know," Sam said, shaking his wrist. The band slid down a little towards his elbow, but didn't come off when he turned his arm the other way. "Weird." He paused and glanced up at Dean. "You, uh, probably want it back-"
"It's yours," Dean said, putting his hands up. "I don't take back gifts. And I didn't give it to you as a substitute for a collar, you know."
No, Sam knew why his brother had given it to him. It had nothing to do with a collar, but everything to do with Dean saying how much he wanted Sam around. How much he wanted to be there with Sam. How much they were still brothers, puppies or not. "Thanks," Sam said softly.
Dean grinned and reached out to tousle Sam's hair. Sam half-heartedly tried to duck away, unable to stop his own grin. "If you scratch me behind my ears, you'll regret it, jerk."
"You're already gonna clean my jacket from all the dog-snot you put on it, bitch."