A/N: This is pretty cracky, fair warning. I've had an insane week and the more stressed I am in RL, the more ridiculous I get in fiction. It's a strange phenomenon. Anyway, hope you enjoy.
"Hey little guy. Please say you recognize me," Sam said in his softest, most gentle voice - the one he saved for traumatized victims and little children. Knowing his brother, he was aware that his 'nice guy/kid voice' was probably not cool in this situation, but it just popped out that way.
"Course I know your stupid ass," a small voice snapped back. Dean's huge child's eyes immediately widened at the high-pitched sound of his own speech. He held tiny hands up in front of his face and stared at them in slack jawed horror. "Dude, what the fuck?!"
It was comical. Sam had to laugh. It was either that or cry, because seriously – what the fuck? Dean was cursing like a sailor in this melodious little child's voice. It was so, so very wrong. What made it worse was that his little freckled nose got all scrunched up when he scowled so furiously and it was just… well... adorable.
"'m a fwiggin rug rat, aren't I? How old 'm I, Sammy? Tell me. 'm scared to look." There was definitely panic in his tone.
Sam had to think about that. He wasn't sure. He didn't know anything about kids and he certainly didn't remember Dean ever being this small. His brother had always seemed larger than life, even when they were both children. One thing was certain, he sure as hell didn't remember him ever pronouncing 'rug rat' as 'wug wat'.
"I dunno," he finally admitted with a shrug. "Four, maybe five? God, Dean, you're so cute!" The last part just fell out of his mouth. Sam couldn't help himself. He immediately paid for it when a tiny foot lashed out at him as he leaned over into the backseat, catching him on the nose. The same nose that a three-hundred-pound biker had recently broken.
"How's that for cute!" the little voice yelled. Once again, Dean's mouth didn't seem to want to pronounce words properly anymore. Cute sounded more like Cue.
Sam slapped both hands over his nose. "Ow shit!" he cursed, but was pretty sure it came out as something snotty, nasally, and barely resembling English. He pulled his hands away from his face and found that his nose was once again bleeding. "Dammit, Dean!" he snapped, pointing to his nose. "Happy now?"
Dean scrunched up his little face again, but this time it was much less furious and much more… well, pitiful was a good word for it. Now his bottom lip was starting to quiver and those big eyes looked awfully glassy and oh, no…
"Sorwy, Sammy," he managed to say before the damn completely busted. "Sonuvabitshhh!" he sobbed. "Why 'm I cryin'?"
Somehow, that managed to make Sam feel like the worst person ever born, even though he was the one with the bleeding nose. "It's okay, Dean," he said as he tried to reach out to comfort him. It seemed like the right thing to do. He was just a kid now.
But the little monster responded to Sam's attempt at affection with a flurry of smacks and kicks. Maybe he was wrong about Dean's age. Maybe he was younger, still a toddler. Jeez! What was he supposed to do with him?
"Don' lookit me, Sam," Dean sniffed pitifully. "Somethin's wong. 'm batshit."
There was a collection of fast food napkins in the glove box, so Sam grabbed a handful, saved a few for his bleeding nose, and handed the rest back silently. Something needed to be done about that snot bubble.
"You're not batshit, Dean. You're a little kid. Your brain's different. Everything's different. I noticed it when you were a teenager… and now it's just… worse. You can't control your emotions."
"I'm like the Increbiddle Hulk," Dean agreed somberly. His voice had a sweet lilt to it that totally worked against the thoughtful crinkle in his brow.
Sam had never had to work so hard to swallow a laugh. Never. It was physically painful.
"I needa dwink," Dean added with a deep sigh. He sounded like a baby Elmer Fudd. Now was not the time to mention that the speech center of his brain had obviously been affected too.
"I think there's some bottled water in the cooler," Sam offered.
"Dean, no. Just, no. You probably only weigh like thirty pounds."
"I could do lite beer," he argued back. A bit of a whine was beginning to seep into his tone. Uh oh.
"You could do alcohol poisoning and I could do prison. It's not happening."
Sam felt the front seat jolt from the impressive force of Dean's kick.
"I hate you," he hissed, then crossed his chubby arms in front of him. Even though he was incredibly cute, it was obvious he'd make a mean little drunk.
"Stay right there," Sam warned and Dean actually stuck out his tongue at him. Jesus, this regression thing was weird.
He quickly ran around to the trunk and popped open the cooler that they always kept at least half-stocked. He quickly pushed the beer bottles aside, but paused between a bottle of water and a can of generic Coke.
A little kid like Dean probably shouldn't have a lot of caffeine, but then again, Sam was starting to suspect that falling asleep was a very bad thing. Twice already, Dean had woken up younger than he was when he went to sleep. Could be a coincidence, but he wasn't taking that chance and ending up with a squalling infant. Dean was getting the store-brand Coke.
Sam slid back behind the steering wheel and pulled the tab on the can of Sam's Choice Cola before handing it into the backseat. Sam's choice indeed - he'd just consciously chosen to deal with an over-caffeinated, foulmouthed toddler. God help him. This really was the curse that kept on giving.
He watched as his brother held the can with both hands and practically inhaled it. Sadly, a lot of it went down his chin and onto his now giant t-shirt.
That confirmed another suspicion. Dean's usually impressive fine motor skills were definitely impaired now as well. The sheer temptation to spend all his time taping this on his cellphone was excruciating. He had to admit it, his pain-in-the-ass big brother was one cute little kid. Plus, the footage would be priceless when it came to blackmailing material. Maybe later.
"So... what's the plan?" Sam asked aloud, mostly talking to himself.
"Uh, bwake the curse," was the sarcastic little answer from the backseat.
Sam took a deep breath. He wasn't going to go there. It was cruel and highly immature to taunt little children with speech impediments, even when they were technically your over-thirty brother who lived to give you crap.
"Okay... we've got to get in that basement, but I'm not sure what to do with you. They thought I was a perv for having teen-you at the motel. Imagine what it's going to look like when I'm carrying toddler-you around half-naked, dressed only in a grown-man's t-shirt?"
"Not carryin' me."
"Dean!" Sam took a deep breath and summoned his patience. "Your boots are now roughly the size of your head. These are the streets of New Orleans, you're not walking around barefoot. You've partied here. You know the kinds of things that get tossed in these streets."
Dean made a sour face. "Used wubbers… sometimes stuff gets peed on. But there's wotsa boobies," he added on a more positive note.
At least no one else could hear this weird conversation - that was the only positive note Sam could come up with.
"So are you gonna let me carry you?"
"I subbose," he relented with a pout. "But only till we get inside."
"Deal," Sam agreed with a relieved sigh. Now he just had to figure out how to do this without drawing too much attention.
Luckily, this street wasn't the main hub of tourist activity, but there were still people here and there. He'd have to wait for the all-clear and pick the lock really fast before coming back for Dean. Otherwise, he was going to prison. There was no respectable explanation for a grown man taking a half-naked kid into an abandoned building – not a single one.
"Just hold tight, man. I'll be back for you. Signal if you see someone."
Dean held up his pistol, which looked huge and very unsteady in his tiny hands. "Don' worwy, Sammy. I gotcha back," he nodded seriously.
Diminished fine motor skills, emotional regression, and a complete and utter lack of impulse control – none of those things were a reason he should panic, right? Yep, he was panicking. He was going to pass out.
"Dean," he said in a carefully controlled voice as he slowly reached toward the back. "Man, hand over the gun."
"No," he refused, squinting his eyes dangerously. "Not fair! My gun, Sammy."
Exactly how did one reason with a deadly hunter trapped in the mind and body of a toddler? How did one reason with a regular toddler? He had no clue.
This curse really should have worked the other way around. Dean, he realized, actually had experience in this area. In fact, Sam was starting to have flashbacks of throwing some very stubborn fits on both Dad and his brother, and it turned out that Dean was actually better at dealing with him than Dad ever was. But how did he do it? It was hard to remember that far back. He'd just have to wing it.
"Tell ya what, let me hold your gun for a while and I'll get you a beer after we're done in that basement." Please let the curse be broken by then.
Dean seemed to be considering this, because his face was screwed-up in thought. "Kay," he finally said. "But if you twy an' welch on me, I kick yer ass."
"Fine. Hand it over."
The handover was quite possibly the longest two seconds of Sam's life. Dean was trying to do it right and hand it over grip first, but it was all very clumsy and Sam wasn't 100% sure the safety was still on. He felt like he was MacGyver trying to defuse a nuclear bomb with a paperclip. His nerves were never going to be the same after this ordeal.
"Okay. Holy shit," he breathed once the pistol was in his hands and the safety was re-engaged. "Let's do this thing, Dean. Remember, as soon as I get the door open, I'm coming back for you. Be ready."
Dean nodded. "I'm weddy."
They actually managed to get inside without being spotted. Then came the really hard part.
Figuring out how the hell Dean had been cursed while preventing him from being cursed with something even more horrible.
He wanted to touch everything!
Sam had to smack his hand a thousand times and Dean was getting angrier and crankier by the second. It felt like they'd been in that basement for years and they'd made exactly zero progress.
"Dean, please concentrate. I know it's hard, but you have to try and retrace your steps." When he got no response, Sam glanced around trying to spot where he'd wandered off to now.
He was sitting on the dirty floor, playing his own little game of war with two freeze-dried chicken feet - growling and rawr sound effects included.
"Dude! What the hell?!"
Dean frowned and sheepishly set the feet aside. "They're cool," he said with a pouty shrug.
"Yes, fascinating. Now concentrate, Dean. One more time - what did you do when you walked through this part of the basement?"
He pursed his lips and scanned the room thoughtfully. Sam had his attention for the moment, but who knew how long it would last.
"The miwwow!" he exclaimed and jumped up to point across the room excitedly.
"Miwwow, asshat," Dean repeated with a clearly implied 'duh'. He honestly didn't realize how he sounded.
Sam followed his line of sight and his eyes fell on what looked like a free standing mirror draped in a sheet.
"Dean, you didn't look in that mirror, did you?" he snapped a little too gruffly. Great, now he looked like he was going to turn on the faucets again.
"Had wettuce in my teef," he sniffed. "Didn't touch it, just wooked. You're a dick," he added resentfully.
He patted his brother's tiny shoulder. "Yeah, Dean, I'm a dick…. So, what do you think? Is that our bad guy?"
He stood there, deep in thought, with his little nose crinkled for a long moment. His cola stained t-shirt was touching the floor like a dress.
Sam really should get a picture of this. He was reaching for his camera phone when Dean made a decision.
"Yep, gotta be. Now we bwake the bastard."
Sam's plan of getting a picture of little Dean's serious-face was put on hold when he realized he was heading straight for the mirror. He quickly ran and scooped him up and away from the object before he could get a good kick in.
"Dean, no! You could make things worse."
"But Bwoody Mary!" he argued. "Bwoody Mary… bwake miwwow!" He was kicking and struggling against Sam, clearly agitated.
"I remember, but chill out. Maybe that's not the way this time. Let me do some research first, okay?"
The research was a blast. This lady kept good journals, but there were lots of them and aside from the fact that Dean had zero attention span, he also seemed to have lost the ability to read anything but the simplest words. Worst of all, he was starting to whine about being sleepy and rub his eyes a lot.
Sam had no choice but to lock him in an empty broom closet, ignore the cursing, and go back for the cooler as quickly as he could. There was almost a six pack of cola left in there. Surely that would keep little Dean awake for a while.
Four cokes, an old bucket filled with pee, and what felt like centuries later - Sam hit paydirt. Not a moment too soon either, because Dean and the chicken feet were putting on an impromptu Zeppelin concert, complete with head banging.
"Finally!" Sam exclaimed. "I've got it. You won't believe this!"
Dean paused mid Immigrant Song and pointed his chicken foot microphone at him. "This better be good, dude."
"It's actually a love curse! Sorta… I mean, it was done out of love." He gestured to the old journal he held. "It says right here that she cursed this mirror for her sister because she was depressed about getting older and losing her figure and all that. Apparently, the curse was meant to make you appreciate where you are in life. So, the good news is that it was meant to be reversed."
"Okay, so do we bwake the miwwow now?" Dean asked with excitement glowing in his eyes. Obviously, he really wanted to break something.
Now Sam finally understood why he was Lucifer's vessel. Only the devil could make a little kid look that pitiful and downtrodden. He certainly had a new respect for his brother's patience with him as a child.
"No, Dean, sorry. It's just… you're stuck if you break it. You have to say a few words in front of the mirror. That's all. Then the spells broken."
"Can't bweak the miwwow?" he asked sadly. Clearly that was THE most important part of the entire conversation, maybe even THE most important thing in the history of the universe. Patience, Sam. Think patient.
"Once the spell's broken, you can blow it away with your shotgun. Throw it off a bridge. Whatever you wanna do, Dean. I promise."
Dean grinned like that was the best thing he'd ever heard. "Cool! What do I say?"
"Just give me a minute."
How to do this? He'd have to uncover the mirror, but he certainly didn't want to look into it himself. He took a few steps to the side and back so that he'd be out of the reflection when the glass was revealed.
"Okay, Dean. Go ahead and pull off the sheet, but be careful. Don't break it."
"Wasn't gunna," Dean pouted back. Sam wisely decided to ignore his tone.
"I see myself," he called out. He sounded very shocky. "Fuck, Sammy. That's me. 'm little."
"Yeah, Dean, that's you. Just listen, okay. You have to repeat everything I say. Got it?"
When Sam didn't get a response, he realized his brother was lost, staring at his own reflection.
"Dean! Focus! It's almost over."
"Kay," he replied back softly. He sounded very shaky. Dammit.
"Here we go…. Say exactly what I say…. I am a beautiful woman."
"What?!" Apparently that snapped Dean out of his funk.
"Yes, Dean, that's what it says here."
"Not sayin' it."
"Fine…. I am a bootiful dude."
Hopefully that would be good enough.
"I love my body and I love the wisdom of my years."
"Seriously?" Dean groaned, but he did his best to repeat it.
The rest of the incantation was along the same lines. All about embracing your age and loving yourself. Things he never, ever expected to hear his brother say. Finally - thank God - he repeated the last line.
"I embwace my feewings and pwaise the goddess…. Oh for fuck's sake."
Sam held his breath, hoping Dean's little ad libs wouldn't hurt.
With no puff of smoke or fanfare whatsoever, his fully-grown brother was now standing there in only his t-shirt. They were both quiet for a few moments. This entire day had been so completely beyond awkward.
"Dude, I Stuart Smalley'd this bitch," Dean finally said proudly.
"Nevermind, you have no sense of culture. My ass is hanging out," he remarked as an afterthought.
"Among other things," Sam observed dryly.
"Then don't look."
"I'm trying not to, trust me." Sam was so tired. He'd never been this tired. What a day! He was clearly not cut out for dealing with children. "Can you just bust the damn mirror so we can get the hell out of here? I'll go grab your jeans."
Dean grinned happily. Even as an adult, he clearly still loved the idea of breaking things. So, Sam left him to it and headed toward the stairs. He realized when he hit the first step that he hadn't taken a single photo or video. Well, that sucked.
"Dude, you owe me a beer," his once again 'older' brother called after him.