Disclaimer: I still don't own this series. :(
A/N:This was written for the spn_bigpretzel fic exchange and for jennytork who came up with this prompt: Semi-body swap - Their skill sets get switched - Suddenly Sam can do mechanical stuff and Dean is the knife wizard. Their personal likes and dislikes get switched too. And they DON'T REGISTER IT.
Special thanks to ficwriter1966who beta'd this, gave me some great words of encouragement, and offered some super suggestions. My original first draft, well ... it rather sucked ... and she really gave me some great tips on how to improve it. Thanks!
Also big thanks to quickreaver for the lovely art she made for this - I feel so honored to have her talent added to this story! Check out the her art masterpost for this fic (I would include a link to her art, but FF net seems to not like me and won't let me post it here, so if you want to see the art just go to livejournal and look up her page - it's worth the extra effort.)
More Like Me
Bobby wasn't really worried about the changes he saw in the boys at first - he was just glad that they were still breathing.
After their last hunt, Dean and Sam had both walked away (sort-of) and stumbled back to his place with minor concussions and enough bruises on their faces and bodies to make it look like they had both been passed through a meat grinder, so really … it was no surprise that they were both acting a little … off.
It wasn't anything major at first; Sam was a little bit cruder than usual and seemed to think that everything that came out of his mouth was hilarious while Dean, on the flip side, was quieter – one might even say he was brooding – but none of this by itself was really cause for too much alarm and Bobby played it all off in his head and figured that having their eggs scrambled had just left them a little out of sorts and in a day or two they'd be back to their old idjit selves in no time.
But all of Bobby's internal assurances that the boys were going to be fine were wiped clean away the next morning when he walked into his study and found Dean.
Of course, it wasn't too unusual to find the older Winchester in his library, but finding him sitting at the desk, surrounded by stacks of thick, ancient tomes in Latin with his head down and reading so intensely that he didn't even hear Bobby walk in was certainly not Dean's normal M.O.
"Dean?" Bobby asked, when the younger man didn't answer right away, he called out again, a little louder this time, "Dean?"
Finally Dean snapped his head up, "Oh … Hey, Bobby."
"What're ya doin'?"
"Just reading up on anomalous spirit encounters." Dean replied as if it was something that he did just for fun every day.
"Really?" Bobby asked, walking behind Dean and seeing that he was indeed reading an old text on that subject, "Why you reading that?"
"Well … I figure the way we got tossed around by that witch's ghost a few days ago, that it might be a good idea to do a little more research on the differentiation of human spirits versus the more powerful apparitions that witches manifest."
Bobby wasn't aware that his mouth was hanging open until he tried to speak again; he didn't think he had ever heard Dean speak with words that contained so many syllables in one sentence before, "So you're just researching for research's sake?" He asked.
"Yeah … I suppose I am." Dean grinned back, "Can't ever know too much, right?"
"You feelin' okay, boy?" Bobby asked, suddenly tempted to touch Dean's forehead to check for fever and worried that the kid's knock to the head was far worse that he thought.
"I feel fine … why?"
"It's just … ya know … I don't usually see ya in here reading my books unless I've had to drag you in here."
"I read all of the time, Bobby." Dean came back defensively, sounding a little irritated.
"Penthouse forum doesn't count." Bobby retorted which caused Dean to and pull a bitchy frown that would have been more at home on Sam's face.
Speaking of which …
"Where's your brother?" Bobby asked.
Dean shrugged and went back to reading the ancient book in front of him, "I dunno … outside, I suppose. He said something sounded 'funny' with car and I think he was going to check it out."
Bobby felt his eyebrows nearly touch the brim of his hat, "Sam's out working on the car?"
"So?" Bobby couldn't believe what he was hearing. Dean didn't even let Bobby touch the engine of his car much less Sam, who didn't know the difference between a distributor cap and a hub cap, "You're just gonna sit in here reading while Sam tinkers around on your car?"
Dean didn't even look up from his book when he responded, "Meh … he doesn't need my help, he'll figure it out."
Bobby was too flabbergasted to know what to say any longer, but he suddenly had an image in his mind of Sam under the hood of the Impala and 'fixing' it so that it never ran again. The boy may be a genius at researching but he was about as mechanically inclined as Bobby's dog.
Bobby was out the door and beside the black, classic car in the space of a heartbeat where he found two, long, jean-clad legs sticking out from under the Impala's chassis. Dean's Allman Brothers cassette was playing loudly in the car's stereo and Bobby had to practically shout to make himself heard.
"Sam?" he called.
"Whatcha doing down there?"
"What's it look like?" Sam responded, sounding a little annoyed. Bobby could hear the familiar clicks of a socket wrench being turned, followed by a clank and a string of curses. "Shit … this whole damn pipe is rusted out and the muffler has a crack in it. I haven't even checked the manifold yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if that wasn't shot all to hell too …"
Bobby's knees cracked painfully loud as he bent down and took in the sight of Sam with his back flat on the wooden under-car creeper, his arms covered in grease up to his elbows as he cranked another screw loose from the pipe then pulled the rusted part down and chucked it to the side.
"Okay … that's it." Feeling the urgent need to stop the boy from causing any further damage, Bobby abruptly pulled on Sam's exposed boot and wheeled the kid out from under the car. Sam jolted upright from the unexpected movement and promptly smacked his forehead into the chassis.
"Owwww … Son of a bitch! What do you think you're doing, Bobby?" Sam growled, rubbing his head as he came out from under the car, leaving a smear of grease on his face.
"What am I doing?" Bobby shot back vehemently, "I think that question's a little ass-backward, don't ya think?"
"Wha?" Sam started, but was cut off the moment Bobby forcefully grabbed him by the collar and yanked him up to his feet and started pulling in the direction of the house.
"Bobby! What the –"
"Shut it – get in the house, " Bobby ordered, "Something's seriously wrong here and we need to figure out what's causin' it right now!"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Sam protested, but Bobby was seriously pissed (and maybe a little scared) over the strange behavior those two kids were displaying and the only way he could get any answers would be to get Sam and Dean together and grill them over just what the heck happened on their last hunt.
Bobby practically pushed Sam into the living room and pointed at the sofa, "Sit!" He demanded.
"Okay … Jesus H, Mary, and Joseph," Sam grumbled petulantly as he sat down, "What crawled up your butt and died?"
Bobby's deadly glare shut the kid up right quick.
"Dean!" Bobby raised his voice and shouted, "Get your ass in here!"
Dean cautiously poked his head out of the study, his face a mixture of confusion and concern, "Bobby? What's going on? What's with the shouting?"
Bobby pointed to the empty space on the couch next to Sam, "Sit. We need to talk about what's happened to you two."
Dean furrowed his brow and looked at Sam questioningly who shrugged his shoulders in response, just as confounded by Bobby's demands as he was. Thankfully, Dean didn't push for answers yet and did as he was told, planting his rear next to his brother.
"You mind filling us in on what's twisting your drawers, Bobby?" Sam asked.
"That –" Bobby pointed at Sam.
"What?" Sam came back.
"No … you."
Bobby sighed and whipped off his hat, running a hand through his hair in frustration, "Yes … You – acting like a donkey's ass – that ain't like you, Sam - You don't say stupid crap like that -that's shit Dean might say, but not you."
Sam and Dean both looked at each other and then almost simultaneously stared back at Bobby as if he had just lost his cotton-picking mind.
"Uh … Bobby …I hate to point this out, but Sam's a jerk like this all of the time." Dean stated.
"Hey!" Sam protested, "Am not."
Bobby pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes for a second, hoping that the throbbing in his head wasn't the first sign of a stress induced stroke. When he opened his eyes again, Dean had leaned forward towards Bobby, his elbows onto his knees and folding his hands together like he was goddamned Dr. Phil. Dean's eyebrows rose empathetically and for a second, Bobby was worried that there might be some hugging soon if he didn't put a stop to the kid looking at him with such pity.
"Are you okay? Maybe you should go lie down for a while, " Dean suggested gently.
Bobby tossed up his hands, "Oh for the love of –"
Sam cut in quickly, "Bobby, just tell us what the hell this is all about."
Taking in a deep breath and blowing it out, Bobby tried to think of the best way to put what he was seeing in Sam in Dean into words that they would both understand because clearly these two had no idea what he was talking about. Neither one of them seemed to have any sort of clue that they acting out the ordinary and it was frustrating to say the least.
"Okay … here's the deal," Bobby pointed at Sam, "You're acting like him," he then pointed at Dean," and he's acting like you. It's like you two switched bodies … only without switching bodies."
Now that Bobby had said it out loud, he realized how strange that sounded.
"Switched?" Sam and Dean asked together.
"Yeah … like you two swapped out each other's personalities or something."
"Soooo …" Sam drawled out, "You're saying that we've been Freaky Friday'd?"
Dean rolled his eyes at his brother, "No, Sam … weren't you listening? Bobby's saying that we didn't switch bodies, just our personalities." Dean turned to Bobby again, looking doubtful "But I don't really feel any different. "
"Well … let me ask you something - which one of you went to Stanford on a full-ride and which one of you dropped out of high school? And which one of you was 14 when he overhauled an engine all on his own and which one of you translated Virgil's The Aenied, just to practice Latin?"
Sam and Dean shared a look at each other, and Bobby watched as little light bulbs seemed to go off in both of the boys' heads, "Huh … I dropped out, didn't I, Bobby?" Dean answered, scratching his head, "But … I like school, why would I do that?"
"Yeah … it's weird … "Sam added, looking just as confused as his brother "I remember going to college – but I can't think of why I would have wanted to go or why I would have left hunting. I can't even remember anything that I learned there … This is crazy."
Sam and Dean still looked unconvinced and Bobby thought he might scream in frustration.
"I'll tell you what's crazy – " Bobby came back, "Crazy is Sam - who can't remember which way a screw tightens, was taking apart the exhaust system on the Impala – and crazy is Dean reading anything other than Hustler or Busty Asian Biddy's or whatever the hell it is … Crazy is -"
"Okay … Okay, Bobby. We believe you." Sam spoke up, raising his hands up in order to put a halt to the older hunter's rant, "We trust you and if you say we aren't acting ourselves, then we aren't acting ourselves." Sam shot a look at Sam and kicked him in the shin for good measure, "Right, Dean?"
Dean nodded, his face taking on a contrite sincerity, "He's right, Bobby. I'm sorry …"
"Can it … we need to figure out what did this to you and how we can fix this." Bobby pointed out, "Now … tell me everything about the last hunt you two knuckleheads came from. It was a witch, right?"
"Yeah …" Dean responded, "Well, actually she was the spirit of a witch. She'd been causing all kinds of havoc in an old house that had just started renovations. The new owner had discovered a hidden room within the cellar and he must have let the spirit out somehow when they knocked down a wall there because as soon as he did, she attacked and he ended up in the hospital. No one had gone down there since – so, Sam and I decided to check it out. As soon as we got close to the room, she came at us, but we managed to dispel her with some rock salt for a few minutes and investigate. When we stepped inside, there were sigils on each of the walls expect for the one that was smashed in –"
"Sigils? What kind of sigils?" Bobby asked.
Dean shook his head, "I didn't recognize them, but I remember what they look like."
Bobby turned around and reached for a piece of paper and a pen, "Good … here - draw them and I'll see if I know what they're for." He instructed.
Dean grabbed the paper and started drawing while Bobby turned on Sam and demanded more of the story, "So how did you know she was a witch?"
"Well … when we took a look around the hidden room it was filled with all kinds of witchy stuff."
"You know … gross crap … toes of frogs, eyes of newt, potions, and even a huge cauldron - that kinda of witchy stuff… but I suppose the real tip-off that she was a witch would be the gigantic-ass altar to Satan she had set up in there."
"There's one more thing …" Dean added as he handed off his drawing to Bobby, "From the looks of things, plus the fact that we found her body inside the bricked-in room next to the altar – "
"You think someone sealed her in." Bobby finished for Dean.
"Yeah … "Dean agreed, "Very Cask of Amontillado, huh?"
Bobby was still a little surprised to hear Dean making an allusion to anything that wasn't a movie involving naked women or explosions, but then he reminded himself that today was opposite's day and he would just have to go with the flow.
Bobby glanced down at the drawing Dean had made and screwed up his face in puzzlement, he'd seen this somewhere before, but he couldn't place it…
He took the drawing and headed to his library, looking for the book he thought he might have seen it in. Sam and Dean followed close behind and each took a seat while he searched among the endless stacks of ancient tomes.
Finally the book he was looking for was found behind another pile of books and he made a mental note to himself to re-organize his shelves to make it easier to find everything. He used to have a pretty good system going and always had an idea where everything was before the boys came back into his life and while Sam was normally good at putting things back where he found them, Dean had a tendency to pull a book out (when he did pick up a book and research) and put it any 'ol place afterwards. It was irritating to say the least, but if having a few misplaced books was the price for having them stop by from time to time and make him feel a little less like a lonely old hermit, then he figured it was worth it.
Bobby opened the book up on his desk and started flipping through the pages. Dean stood up and started looking over Bobby's shoulder trying to get a look at what he was reading and looking for – getting close enough to block what little light there was coming into the room from the window. Normally that was a habit of Sam's that drove him up the wall and this time with Dean it was no different.
"You mind? I can't see for shit and you're blocking the light." Bobby grumbled.
"Sorry." Dean apologized and stepped back, but Bobby knew he was still trying to read the pages he was flipping through over his shoulder. At long last Bobby came to the page with the sigil on it and started to read the important bits out loud for everyone's benefit and before Dean could invade his space again.
"Kay … says here that this sigil is just about as old as dirt – comes from the Minoan civilization and was used to help seal in an evil entity inside the giant maze at Knossos –"
"You mean the Minotaur?" Dean asked.
"The one any only – this sigil's got a pretty powerful magic in it that kept the Minotaur from escaping and trapped it in the maze. Someone must have used this to keep that witch's power contained in the hidden room so she couldn't get out and she must have been pretty damned powerful for someone to use this against her - they probably couldn't find a way to kill her out right and instead found a way to trap her in the room and let nature take its course. Witches are mostly human and without access to food and water, she probably starved to death. However, the sigil needs to be on the exact four cardinal points in a room at north, south, east and west in order for it to work – I'm guessing that knocking down that wall destroyed one sigil and broke the seal, allowed her power and spirit to escape. Now … you guys burned her bones right?"
"Yeah … course we did." Sam replied quickly. "I lit her up myself."
"How about destroying her altar?"
Both Sam and Dean exchanged sheepish and contrite glances.
"Oh … jeez … You idjits …you telling me you didn't destroy the altar?
"Uh well …" Sam stumbled, "Ya see … she was going kinda going nuts at the time. She threw Dean into a shelf and knocked him out while half of the contents of all of her witch crap got all over him. I shot her with rock salt, but it only seemed to dispel her for half a second. Next thing I know she's throwing me into a wall and I'm seeing stars. I don't remember much after that except that I was lucky enough to be tossed almost on top of her bones. "
"That's about the time I woke up." Dean jumped in, continuing the story, "I shot her again while Sam tried to get the fire started. She kept popping up and coming after us every two seconds until Sam got her bones salted and burned ..."
"And we kinda just took off after that …" Sam finished Dean's sentence for him, "Neither one of us was seeing or thinking straight at the time and I just wanted to get Dean out of there before he passed out again."
Bobby eyed Sam and Dean – he had half a mind to go off on them both for being so stupid as to leave the source of that witch's power intact, but both of them looked sufficiently guilty that he didn't see the need to lay into them any further. Besides, he still had to figure out what caused their little switcheroo and what they were going to do about it.
"Hmmm …" Bobby mused out loud, "Sam – you said Dean was thrown into the shelf with all of the witch's stuff on it – did any of it break? Did he ingest any or get any on his skin?"
Switches seemed to flick on in Sam's head as his eyes lit up, "Yeah … he had head-to- toe goo and all kinds of crap on him."
"Did you get any on you, Sam?"
"Yeah – I had to help Dean out … by the time we made it to the car, we were both covered in the stuff."
Bobby sighed, putting the pieces together, "Sounds like you two got a contact poisoning from her stuff – I'd bet something in all of that was a potion that did this to you. And since you two morons didn't destroy her altar – enough of her power remained to make that potion at least partially effective – might have been a something meant to switch bodies, but there wasn't enough power or you didn't ingest enough to complete the switch and instead you two switched personalities."
"Okay … so that might explain how this all happened, but how do we fix this?" Sam asked.
"Well ... for starters you gotta go back to that altar and destroy it – hopefully that will cut off whatever power the witch put into that potion and you two will go back to - you know - being you two again."
"Jeeez, Sam …. You think the music's loud enough?" Dean complained from the passenger's seat.
"Oh quit yer bitchin', Deana. Zepplin's supposed to be played loud – anything less would cause John Bonham to roll in his grave."
"It's giving me a headache."
Sam huffed then reached for the radio knob and turned it down just a hair – making sure it was still loud enough to annoy his brother, "There … Happy now, BABs?" Sam asked.
"Bab's?" Dean didn't really want to know what his new nickname was, but he had to ask anyway.
"Yep … got to keep it quiet in here for the Big Assed Baby."
"Really, dude? Very mature. Let me ask you something … is it hard being such a jerk all of the time or does it just come naturally to you?"
Sam mocked being hurt, grabbing his chest in feigned and over dramatic pain, "Owwww … your witty comebacks wound me."
Dean sighed heavily then crossed his arms petulantly, "Bite me." He grumbled, and then looked out the window, "So … how much further do you think we have?"
"I dunno … you're the one with the map, genius. You tell me."
Dean sighed again and unfolded his map. He waited for the next mile marker to come speeding by then checked it against the map and did a quick calculation in his head, "We've got about another 400 miles to go before we're in Pennsylvania again. "
He then started the fold the map back up again, having trouble getting it to fold up neatly like it had been folded originally. One would think that after growing up on the road and reading maps his whole life that this task would be easier, but it still irked him from time to time. But then again – was it him that usual filled the navigator's role, or Sam?
He couldn't remember and that was more troubling than not being able to fold a map correctly.
"We should get a GPS for the car – it would be so much easier and more up to date than these old maps." Dean suggested.
"Dude … what part of classic car do you not get?" Sam growled, "You are not gonna spoil her with all that tech crap, she's just fine as she is."
"Sorry, man …. I was just thinking that with all of the driving that we do that it would make sense to have one."
"What would make sense is stopping somewhere to eat – I'm starving – how about you?"
"Yeah – I could eat, I guess."
Sam drove on for another half an hour before an establishment that he thought would meet their needs came into view. He pulled into the parking lot and Dean automatically frowned.
"What?" Sam asked.
"Dude … this is a bar, I thought we were getting dinner."
"Read the sign, Dean – It say bar and grill. It's the best of both worlds – beer and burgers," Sam opened the door. "C'mon – we gotta eat and I might be able to line our pockets with a little extra cash while we're here. And after this we might as well stop for the night – we've already gone 400 miles today and I'm beat."
Dean grumbled under his breath, but grabbed the laptop from the backseat, thinking that this might take a while and he might as well get some research done while Sam hustled some of the locals out of their hard earned cash at the pool table.
He followed after his brother into the joint as Sam strode directly to bar, forgoing any of the empty booths.
Sam ordered a beer and a bacon cheeseburger while Dean settled for a ginger ale and a Caesar salad – he wasn't in the mood for anything with alcohol since he already had a headache from the loud music in the car.
The bartender handed them their drinks and Sam thanked her with a wink, appreciating the way she wore her tight, skinny jeans and how they accented her every curve. She smiled back, turning a bright shade of crimson, clearly pleased with her view of Sam as well.
Dean rolled his eyes, but deep down thought she was pretty hot as well, but kept those feeling to himself, not wanting to objectify the poor girl.
"You know … I've been thinking …" Sam started.
"Oh no … that's never good." Dean mumbled.
"Bobby has us going out to destroy this altar and stuff … I don't know … what if … what if we didn't …"
Dean lifted an eyebrow at his brother, "What?"
"I mean … what's so bad about us staying this way, huh? I kinda like being me … or you … or whatever. Point is … what harm is there? It's not like this is gonna kill us, right? And no offense, Dean, but if I'm supposed to be like you, then I must be one boring, tight-ass monk. I mean c'mon … you hardly even looked at that girl that just gave us our drinks and you brought your laptop into a bar for Christ's sake! Besides … I like being who I am – I'm pretty awesome."
Dean knitted his brows together, irritated, "Oh really? And you think you're so great? You think I want to be like you? You who thinks the car is an animate object, who hits on anything with boobs, who talks with his mouth full, who tells bad jokes and leaves his dirty clothes all over -"
"Okay … I get it. I'm not a saint – or you're not a saint – whatever - I just don't see why we need to change."
"We have to because who you are right now is who I am supposed to be and who you are isn't really you … it's me."
Sam scrunched up his face, "You're making my brain hurt."
"Look … We got to destroy that altar – that's all there is to it. Its power is what's keeping the potion we got soaked in going and who knows what other kinds of stuff we got exposed to and what will happen next. For all we know we could start growing another limb or become impotent."
Sam froze mid-way between taking another sip of his beer and the 'impotent' part, "Okay … good point. Right … so first thing in the morning, we head on out and burn the alter. But, until then … we might as well have a little fun, " Sam suggested with a waggle of his eyebrows and a cheeky grin, watching the bartender bend over and show off her tight backside.
An hour later, Sam had picked up a game of pool while Dean retreated to a quiet corner booth and tried to read up on the history of the house they were to return to in the morning. But the truth was that the words were starting to blend into each other and he was finding himself reading the same paragraph over and over with little comprehension.
On top of that, the headache that had started in the car had ratcheted up a notch hearing Sam's laughter from across the bar.
Dean looked up to see his brother pocket a wad of cash from a couple of disgruntled losers at the pool table. The two other players Sam had just fleeced looked none too happy was they walked away, but Sam was beaming as he dropped his cue stick onto the table and made a cocky saunter over to the bar.
Dean watched him drop a bill onto the bar and order another beer from the pretty bartender as he flirted openly with her, flashing his most charming and disarming smile. Realizing that Sam was on his fourth beer and dangerously close to working his way into the giggling girl's pants, he figured it was time to cut him off for the night so they could find a motel and rest up before they had to take off again in the morning – they didn't have time for Sam to get completely wasted and distracted by sex. So Dean closed the laptop up, tucked it under his arm and stood, making his way towards Sam, only to find his way blocked on the way by a huge, imposing figure.
Dean stopped just in time before he collided with the behemoth. The man turned and snarled down at him menacingly, "Watch it!" He warned.
"Sorry," Dean held up his hands. The man had to be at least a half foot taller and a good fifty pounds heavier than Sam even was. He turned his irritated attention from Dean and focused an ill-tempered glower at Sam's back.
He heard Sam laugh again, "Oh honey … You're so sweet you're giving me a toothache." The bartender giggled as she twirled her hair, only to stop suddenly as the gigantic man came up behind Sam and clamped one of his giant paws around the back of his neck.
"Tom …" She stuttered, alarmed to see the huge man, "What are you doing?"
"You talkin' to my girl?" The man's impossibly deep voice boomed, making both Sam and Dean jump a little simultaneously.
"I ain't your girl no more, Tom. We broke up a week ago, remember?" She protested, bringing her hands to her hips, "Why can't you just leave me alone?" The big man dismissed her and kept his anger directed squarely on Sam.
Turning around smoothly, Sam shrugged off the man's hand, not even a little intimidated by the towering giant. "We're just talking here, buddy. You heard the girl … you better leave her alone unless you want to know what it's like to eat from a straw for the next two months."
Sam grinned, but his eyes were sharp with anger and Dean knew if he didn't step in soon, there would be blood. He took a step forward and wedged himself between the man and his brother, "Look … we were just leaving, weren't we, Sam?"
"Mind your own business, pipsqueak." The man growled. At the same time that Dean turned to corral his brother out of the bar, he made the mistake of taking his eyes off of the brute while a beefy arm swung out, knocking Dean upside the head.
The impact caused a distinct and painful little atomic explosion within Dean's head. He fell to the ground, his vision wavering and ears ringing like the bells of Notre Dame. His view was blocked by Sam's legs, but through it all his he could still hear his brother curse and jump into action, "Don't you dare touch my brother!" Sam growled dangerously.
"Whatcha gonna do about it?" The massive man asked smugly, clearly unused to anyone challenging him and stupidly unaware of what would happen when hurt Sam's brother.
Sam didn't even to bother to answer the man with words, instead, one of his legs struck out with vicious speed and thrust. His right, steel-toed boot sailed upwards and made sickening hard contact with the soft, sensitive space centered between the mastodon-sized man's legs. For a second Dean thought he could actually feel Sam's foot smash into the other guy's balls through the floorboards and he winced sympathetically.
The man's voice jumped an octave while a howling mewl escaped his lips and he doubled over, grabbing his crotch with tears spilling from his eyes. He fell to his knees on the floor right beside the hunter and Dean got a good look at the huge purpling face and crossed eyes before the man rolled onto his back and whimpered pathetically.
The next thing Dean knew, two big, familiar hands were grabbing his arms and hoisting him up, "C'mon, Dean … let's get outta here." Sam spoke into his ear. Dean leaned into Sam and let him help him to his feet, allowing his larger brother to herd him to the door and out to the car in a blur of movement.
Sam opened the passenger door for Dean and held onto his arm until he was all the way in the car and settled before running over to the driver's side and turning the engine over quickly. They beat a hasty retreat from the bar and were on the road seconds later.
"You okay?" Sam asked, turning worried eyes on Dean, looking him up and down for injuries.
Dean rubbed his throbbing head and nodded, "He rang my bell pretty hard, but I'll live." He said, "You?"
"I'm good. Gigantor had balls as hard as granite and my toes still hurt, but it was worth it just to hear him sing soprano."
Dean had to chuckle a little bit at that, but then his thoughts turned. For some reason none of this felt right – Sam defending him like that – he couldn't put a name on the feeling – just that it all felt wrong … backward somehow.
Sam was still looking at him, "You sure you're okay?"
"Yeah … let's just get a room and get some sleep."
Sam nodded in agreement and after they found a motel and had a room rented for the night, the feelings of offness continued. Dean strange emotions only got worse after Sam went out and got him some ice for his head and made a fuss about him staying in bed while he handed him some aspirin and a glass of water, ordering Dean to drink it.
Dean glared at the glass in his hand, still feeling weird and wrong.
"Let me take a look." Sam said as he sat down on the bed next to him and turned his head to the side, ghosting his fingers through his hair and gingerly touching around the tender welt on his head, "Well … doesn't look too bad … gonna have a bit of a goose egg though."
Dean shrugged Sam off; suddenly uncomfortable with having his little brother take care of him like that when all at once and even harder than that man at the bar had swung at him, everything hit him – and he understood why all of those feelings of backwardness had been swimming around in his gut.
He was the big brother – he should have been the one defending Sam, not the other way around – he's the one that should be taking care of his younger sibling …
He was the one that was supposed to check for injuries, supply meds, and order his brother to rest …
Everything snapped into place like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Intellectually he knew that Bobby had seen a difference in them back at his place and he had believed the seasoned hunter just because Bobby would never lie to them, but now he was feeling it … feeling the wrongness of it all …
He was the one that liked working on the car.
He was the one the enjoyed hustling pool.
He was the one that hit on random chicks in bars and got in fights with their gigantic boyfriends.
And dammit … he hated researching.
"What's wrong?" Sam asked.
"Everything, Sammy … You … me …" Dean suddenly froze, his stomach dropping, "Oh. My. God … my car - "
Sam stared at Dean in concern, "What about the car?"
"You messed with my car?"
"I didn't 'mess' with it … I fixed it."
"Yeah … it was making all kinds of noise when it accelerated. All I did was replace an exhaust pipe that was rusted. I didn't even get to the manifold or the muffler -"
"Whoa … wait … it's supposed to make noise when it accelerates … that's what muscle cars do …"
"Dean … it's fine. It runs better now –"
Dean was suddenly up and grabbing his duffel bag, snatching Sam's up too and tossing it at his brother, "Okay … we're outta here and we're getting you fixed right now before you decide to 'fix' anything else."
Sam looked a little like a fish out of water with his mouth opening and closing in confusion but Dean didn't give him a chance to protest his decision as he grabbed his younger brother by the collar and hauled him to his feet, practically dragging him to the door.
Sam sulked, uncomfortable with being demoted to the passenger role when he'd rather be driving and in control of the situation. But Dean had won the physical fight over the keys despite Sam's height and weight advantage over him and had literally taken over. (And maybe Sam was still a little embarrassed about that, but he tried not to think about it.)
Dean stared straight ahead, refusing to look at him as he drove on angrily, a strained silence hanging over both men.
Annoyed and angered as well, but trying to relieve some of the tension and finally end the oppressive quiet in the car, Sam reached for the box of cassette tapes only to have Dean snatch it from his hands.
"Oh no, you don't - you're not touching another thing in this car until we get you back to normal, got it?"
"Me? You're the one acting like a jackass. What's your problem anyway?"
"My problem? I don't have a problem, I'm back to normal … you're the one that's messed up, man and we only have room for one of me in here."
Sam folded his arms across his chest, "You know if you're saying that I'm messed up and I'm supposedly acting like you, then that means you're just as messed up as I am." Sam argued, trying to reign in his growing anger.
"That's enough, Sam … we're destroying that alter and getting you back to your geeky, emo self and that's final."
Who did Dean think he was anyway? A freakin' general who could order him around like a private? Sam resented the fact that just by being the oldest, that that somehow put Dean in charge of his life. And this feeling of resentment had been building since Dean basically ordered him to the car and insisted on driving despite the fact that he'd taken a blow to the head earlier. Sam wanted to protect his brother, but another part of him wanted to kick his ass for acting as if he was just a child that couldn't think or act on his own.
But then again … this anger … this resentment, this burning need to prove himself capable tickled at the back of his mind and Sam was starting to wonder if this was a new feeling or not – if this was something that he was familiar with and had been harboring for much longer than the few hours they had been on the road.
He didn't want to think about it, but emotions and memories kept popping up in his mind, unwanted and unbidden until his head was filled with scenes from his childhood – of his father laying into him for not falling in line, for not training harder, for not wanting the life of a hunter. The scenes shifted and he was stepping out of an old, run-down house with tears in his eyes after leaving his family behind for college, but with determination in his heart to be his own man.
And then he thought about Stanford. He hadn't been able to remember what his motivation for going there had been when Bobby had asked the other day, but with instant clarity, he now knew – he loved learning and he had loved being around people that were normal – people that didn't worry about salting their windows before going to sleep at night and who didn't constantly fear that their father or brother might end up being eaten by a monster one day.
And Jess …
He felt a renewed ache in his chest and looked down at his hands, suddenly realizing something very important.
These were the hands that worked on the car only a day ago – that changed out a rusted exhaust pipe and made the car purr like a kitten, but for the life of him … he couldn't remember how he did it – or even why he would have wanted to in the first place.
All he knew was that he was Sam Winchester inside and out once again.
Since the current owner had vowed to never step foot in there again, Sam and Dean didn't have to worry about him being home and getting in was easy. In fact, getting to the altar, destroying it and burning every last thing on it for good measure was even easier than that and they were both pretty pleased with themselves for their rather anti-climactic operation.
It really hadn't been necessary since both of them seemed to have come to their senses on their own, but it gave them both peace of mind to know that whatever power had caused the switch in the first place wouldn't come back and bite them both in the ass again.
After all, neither one of them wanted to find out if there really was an impotence potion mixed in with everything else.
"Well … that was fun." Dean declared as shoveled dirt into the hole they had dug to burn the witch's altar, putting out what was left of the charred embers. Sam stood beside his brother and helped to fill in the hole as well until all evidence of their presence there that morning was effectively erased.
Lugging the shovels over their shoulders, both men walked side by side back to the car and dumped their tools into the trunk, dirty and tired, but satisfied.
Dean grinned and climbed into the driver's seat after that while at the same time Sam yanked open his door and climbed in, loudly slamming it shut.
"Hey …" Dean nearly shouted, "Watch the paint job, Bitch."
"The paint is fine, ya jerk … it's just a car."
Dean patted the dashboard lovingly, "Don't listen to him, Baby. He's just a little cranky because you're more fun to talk to and I like you more than him."
Sam glared at Dean before rolling his eyes dramatically, "You done talking to the car or can we get on the road already and find someplace to crash already? I need a shower," Sam sniffed the air and pulled a disgusted face, "And so do you."
"Yeah, yeah … Keep your crusty panties on." Dean grumbled. He popped an Aerosmith tape into the stereo and cranked up the volume while Sam shot him a withering look as Back in the Saddle started blasting through the speakers.
Dean grinned at Sam's annoyed facial expression and revved the engine before peeling the classic, black car off into the golden rays of the rising sun.