A/N: Written for an h/c comment-fic meme over at hoodie_time on LJ. This fills the prompt of:
The aftermath of Dean having been turned into some type of animal and then changed back after being the animal for a very long time. Dean has to adjust to being human again. Sam is there with Dean every step of the way.
THE FULL SPECTRUM
Say what you like about all that Renaissance art crap, the sight of Dean's first burger rivalled the freaking Sistine Chapel.
A crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside bun framed the juicy patty neatly. Cheese oozed in between thick slices of bacon, and the lettuce and tomato were just so… so colourful. After a year of dull blues and grays, the red and green of the vegetables burned his retinas so fiercely that he had to take occasional breaks from the sight.
The smell, however… He could barely detect it with his good-for-nothing nose. Sensations of grease and cheese flickered dully at the back of his nasal cavity, but it left him frustrated. How could he tell if the meat was fresh and the vegetables crisp? He burrowed his nose into the bun, vaguely detecting the yeasty scent but picking up nothing really useful.
Apparently, it was something he would have to get used to. Shrugging to himself, he pushed his mouth against the burger and began to take a messy bite.
Sam's hand landed on his shoulder, pulling Dean back before he could get more than a small mouthful.
At the sight of Sam's concerned expression, Dean swallowed the growl that was rising in his throat.
"Dude," Sam prompted worriedly. "Hands."
Dean slowly lifted the forgotten limbs from his lap and brought them to his glorious burger. Out of all the things he had lost for the year he had been transformed, his hands were near the top of the "most missed" list. And now, he had forgotten them completely.
He flexed his fingers experimentally, taking extra time on his thumbs. Thumbs were freaking amazing, that's for sure. Carefully, he lifted his burger into his hands, shifting the weight so it was comfortable and squeezing it gently to keep it all together. He made the journey to his mouth cautiously this time, disoriented because he could see it any more. How had he done it before his original transformation? It had been one of the many things that he had simply taken for granted while he was human and forgotten about while under the curse.
After all of the build-up, the actual eating of the burger was commonplace. Although his sense of smell was radically diminished, his sense of taste was comparable. He had eaten burgers while in his dog form, and although his tongue seemed to recognize certain things more than others, the difference wasn't all that remarkable. He did have some fun remembering how to fit his mouth around a straw, but it didn't take him long to figure it out.
Throughout it all, Sam watched him, barely paying attention to his own food. Dean had finished his burger under the uncomfortable scrutiny and was halfway through his fries (dipped in pulsing bright red ketchup) before he decided to call Sam on it.
He grumbled at the back of his throat, and then shook his head when Sam's eyebrows crinkled together.
Words. He had to—he could— use words now.
But the possibilities rushed through his jumbled brain, and he couldn't seem to find the right ones to use. So he settled for simple and straightforward.
"Sss… Stop. Stare-rrr-ring." His voice was quiet and uncertain; his tongue fumbled around his mouth to hit the right places like a drunk chick trying to unlock her front door.
Sam, being the little bitch that he was, noticed.
"Dude. Are you… okay?"
Dean knew his script. He knew that now was the time for him to whip out a witty reply that made Sam either laugh or roll his eyes but invariably put him at ease.
But wit was so far beyond Dean right now and all he really wanted to do was pull off the t-shirt and sweats that hung uncomfortably over his skin and crawl into a ball in the corner, shutting out all of the loud colours for just a moment.
Sam was still waiting for a response, leaning forward across the table to get closer to him. Dean shifted in his chair carefully. He had already fallen out of it once tonight and he didn't want a repeat performance.
Thinking out his words carefully, Dean replied to Sam.
"It's… w-weird." He lifted his hands and wiggled his awesome thumbs at Sam.
Sam frowned. "How can it be weird? You're human, Dean, not a dog. This should be normal. Do you think that witch lied when she said the curse would be broken in a year? Maybe there are some lingering effects—"
Sam was two seconds away from pulling out his laptop and drowning himself in pointless research for the night.
"Sam," Dean snapped. And if it sounded a bit like a bark, he wasn't going to admit it.
Sam stopped, eyes fixed on Dean.
"Nothing's wr-wrong," he told his little brother carefully. Thankfully, he was starting to get the hang of the whole talking thing again. "Just… been a whole year-r-r. A long time."
Understanding grew on Sam's face, and he huffed in relief. "Okay. Yeah, you have to adjust."
Dean nodded thankfully. The colours, once so fascinating, were starting to give him a headache. In a gesture more automatic than remembered, he brought his knuckles up to knead his forehead.
"Headache?" Sam asked quickly. He jumped up before Dean had finished nodding and pulled the bottle of Tylenol out of his bag.
Two pills and a glass of water were presented to Dean. While he was able to grasp the cup easily, his fingers struggled with plucking the small capsules out of Sam's hand.
"Here," Sam offered. He grabbed Dean's hand and formed it gently into a cupped shape before dropping the pills in his brother's palm. "Unless you need me to hide it in some cheese or something," Sam teased.
"Ha ha." Dean dropped his mouth down to his hand to pick up the pills. He struggled with fitting his mouth around the lip of the cup and ended up dribbling a little as he took a drink, but Sam thankfully said nothing.
"Is… Is it bad? The headache?" Sam's forehead was crinkled with worry.
Dean snorted and shook his head. "Nnno. Colours are just… loud."
"Dude, I can't believe I never asked you: Can dogs really only see black and white?"
"A… bit mmm-more than that," Dean replied. "But fff-freaking psyche-d-delic now."
"Want to lay down for a bit?"
Dean shouldn't feel this tired, magical transformation from dog back into human aside, but he was nodding before he had even thought about it.
"Got to get to the bed first," Sam reminded him.
Right. Because he was sitting in a chair and he couldn't just lie down wherever he was anymore for a quick nap. Dogs slept wherever; people slept in beds.
He planted both hands on the table, rocking gently as he dragged himself up, up, and still up. Damn, he was tall as a human.
He swayed where he stood, trying to get his balance on just two legs.
Sam appeared at his side, supporting his shoulders and keeping his tilting body straight.
Dean reached out to shoo him away, but ended up tripping over one of his stupidly long feet, knees and ankles refusing to bend the way he was used to, and leaning on Sam even more.
"Just till you get to the bed, man," Sam told him, reading Dean's discomfort.
Sam scent didn't exist like it had for Dean just a short while ago. What was once a unique identifier Dean could use to keep track of his brother was now a distant tinge, covered almost entirely by deodorant and Italian salad dressing.
Dean landed on the bed with the covers already pulled back, but when Sam made the move to settle them over Dean, he protested.
"Don't want 'em," he told Sam. "Don't even want what's already on." He pawed illustratively at his t-shirt.
"You're not walking around our motel room naked," Sam declared. "You're just gonna have to get used to wearing clothing again."
Dean let a growl escape from his throat.
His brother laughed. "Dude, worse things have happened. You'll get through it, I promise." Sam's hand twitched, and then reached over to land on Dean's head, mimicking the way he had scratched behind Dean's ears so many times over the last year.
Closing his eyes, Dean felt his body relax, unspooling the tension that had built during his awkward readjustment.
And, okay, maybe it was a little weird, having Sam pet him to sleep. But when were they anything but weird, anyway?
When he woke up again, Dean would tackle all the other stuff he needed to get used to. Stuff like shooting a gun and signing his name and walking in freaking boots. Also, if Sam thought Dean was going to let him drive the Impala away from this motel, he was very much mistaken.
Sam would be in the passenger seat, where he belonged, listening to AC/DC and keeping his bitching to a minimum.
And if Dean wanted to drive with all the windows let down and maybe stick his head outside just a little bit…
Well, that was his own business, dammit.