A/N1: This fic is a Christmas gift to my sister. It's amazing how much being unemployed can boost a person's creativity. Love you to the moon and back again, sis!

A/N2: Special thanks to CFEditor and Shallowz for their amazing beta work. Any remaining errors are mine. All mine!

A/N3: This is set in Season 2, sometime after Hunted.


Chapter 1

Men turned their heads when it entered the room. It smiled full red lips, batted painted eyes, and leaned its beautiful body against the bar. The tight dress barely covered its ample curves. It liked being beautiful.

A man came over, bought it a drink, flirted with it. His eyes filled with lust. It leaned forward, licked its painted lips, pushed out its generous bosom. The man laid a hand on its bare shoulder, rubbed soft circles with his thumb, moved in closer.

Then something went wrong. The man stopped. He pulled his hand away. Gritty dirt covered his fingers. His eyes looked confused, disgusted. He wasn't smiling anymore. He backed away.

The change had started, its beauty was fading. It ran out of the bar and into the night.

xxxXXXxxx

"Okay, cuties, I've got one Everything platter, extra bacon, and a two-egg-whites omelet with a side of whole wheat toast." The waitress set a plate down in front of each brother. "I'll be back in a few minutes to top off your coffees."

The men responded with a chorus of "Thanks," and Dean dug hungrily into his scrambled eggs.

"Mmmm... this is just what I needed," Dean mumbled between bites. His brother answered with a distracted grunt, so Dean tapped his fork on the laptop. "Put that thing away. We're not here to work, man. Just passing through, remember?"

"Uh-huh." Sam responded distractedly, still staring at his laptop. "Dean, listen to this..."

"No. Seriously, Sammy, I need a break. We barely got any sleep on that last hunt and I've been driving all night. I just wanna eat my breakfast, park the car beside a nice lake somewhere, and catch some Z's before we head to Bobby's. Besides, my baby is overdue for some TLC."

"Yeah, I know, Dean, but..."

"And I was thinking we should lay low for a while. You know, until we get your psychic thing figured out. What'd'ya say? Little vacation at Bobby's could be fun, right?"

"Dean, we talked about this. I'm not gonna stop hunting. You can stay at Bobby's if you want, but I'm gonna keep working. Alright?"

"I guess."

"Now listen, I think this could be our kind of thing."

Dean sighed, shoved another forkful in his mouth and mumbled around his food, "Fine. What'd'ya got?"

"Well, several people have disappeared in the Town of Ithaca, only about 50 miles from here."

"Okay. That sounds tragic, but since when are missing persons our kind of problem?"

"Since more than one report says the person was acting very strange before they disappeared."

"So you're thinking shapeshifter."

"It's possible. We've seen stranger things."

Dean snorted. "Heh, yeah. Well then, Ithaca it is. Hey, isn't that a college town? College girls... mmm."

"Cornell University, but that's in the City of Ithaca. This is the Town. And we don't have time to chase college girls, remember?"

"Maybe you don't have time, genius, but there's always time in my schedule for a pretty girl." Dean leered and took a huge bite of his bacon.

xxxXXXxxx

The drive to Ithaca took less than an hour. Feeling tired even before they'd started, Dean had immediately rolled his window down to let in the cool November air. By the time they arrived, he kept his eyes open by sheer force of will.

Dean pulled into the first motel he spotted. While Sam took care of the room (since "this whole hunt was your idea, Einstein"), Dean leaned his head back and closed his eyes, dozing while he waited. He was jolted awake with a "sonofabitch" by his brother pounding on his window, a wide grin stretched across Sam's face. Dean frowned fiercely at him, drawing a hearty laugh from Sam. Dean's scowl promised swift retribution.

Still beaming, Sam pointed to a room on the far end of the parking lot and rounded the car, reaching to open his door. However, before he could open the door handle, Dean stretched across the seat and locked the passenger door. He threw the car into reverse, shouting at Sam to walk ("smartass"), then drove around to park in front of their room, grumbling the whole way. He pulled into a parking slot, threw the car into park, and rubbed his hands over exhausted eyes before dragging himself from the car.

Sam strode up as Dean pulled his bags out of the trunk. Sam retrieved his own bags, eyes still dancing with mirth, then unlocked the room door, all under the heat of Dean's glare. When the door lock clicked open, Dean shouldered past Sam and into the bathroom, closing the door firmly. Sam settled himself at the rickety table to research the hunt. Dean emerged again about a half hour later in a billow of steam, his hair wet, wearing only a pair of jeans. Ignoring Sam, Dean grabbed the TV remote, threw himself on his bed, and flipped through channels before landing on an old Western film. He settled back to watch, his eyes heavy, and was asleep within minutes.

Sam continued to poke around on his computer, serenaded by the comforting sound of Dean's snoring.

xxxXXXxxx

"Talk to me about the missing people." Dean gestured toward Sam's satchel with his greasy burger, then took another man-sized bite.

Sam pushed his half-eaten tuna sandwich aside. "Well..." He stopped to shake his head at the waitress when she interrupted to ask if he needed anything, then continued pulling papers from his bag. "We've got nine missing persons in the last year." He pulled out a picture of an old guy with a full gray beard and one of a younger guy with a similar, though darker, beard of his own. "The Rabbis Chaim and Mordechai Levy. Father and son. They disappeared almost a year ago. Then about six weeks later, Missy Davis was reported missing." He pulled out another picture, this time of a pretty young woman in a Cornell University sweatshirt.

"Nice." Dean grunted around another large bite. "That's what a college student should look like. I'm serious, after we finish this gig..."

"Deeeean." Sam warned and Dean grinned impishly. "Anyway, then Carl Hayden disappeared six weeks later." He added another picture to the growing pile. A handsome man in his late thirties smiled up at Dean from the photo. Then other pictures landed on the pile in rapid-fire sequence as Sam continued, "Then Karen Miller, Robert Fogelman, Monica Seaton, Doug Adams, and Andrea Payne. All about six weeks apart."

"So what's up with the six-week cycle?"

"No idea, but it's happening again. Andrea Payne was reported missing yesterday. We've got to find whatever did this before it has a chance to take someone else. And if it's a shapeshifter, there's a chance we'll find Andrea alive."

"Right." Dean ruffled thoughtfully through the photos. "So let's start with interviewing the grieving families."

"FBI?"

"Nah, too high-profile. It's time to dust off your reporter's hat, Sammy." Dean rose to leave, throwing some bills on the table. They had a lot of work ahead of them.

xxxXXXxxx

It sat at a booth, loose clothes and a hood covered its ugliness. It tried to eat food, but it had changed too much. Instead, it pretended to sip a drink. It watched him, sitting across the diner, eating with another man. The man had long dark hair, big muscles, and a deep voice. It liked how his forehead crinkled when he talked, the interesting little moles on his face, his large, strong hands.

When the man stood up to leave, it craned its covered head up and up to look at his face. He was very tall. As the man passed, it reached out and brushed the skin of his hand with its fingers. The man paused to looked at it before curling his lips into a little smile and walking away. The man's eyes were brown and green and his cheek dimpled when he smiled. He was beautiful.

It followed him at a distance, watched him get into the black car with the other man and drive away. It could feel him moving further away, but wasn't worried. It could still feel him under its fingers, would always be able to find him, would watch him until the right time. It would be beautiful again very soon.

xxxXXXxxx