A/N: Wrote this for a reverse bang on LJ. Basically that's when someone comes up with a piece of art and you write something based on that art. If you want to see the art (by just_ruth) you can check out my LJ page (I'm lolaann1 over there). The coverpage for stories here is way too small to work with this pic and links are apparently a cardinal sin. I've played with the timeline a little to make this happen in the summer, because that was the theme of the challenge on LJ. The theme was actually 'summer lovin' but I totally twisted it... because I is twisted. Poor boys.
Warning: This does contain a non-graphic scene where Sam is tied down naked for the 'benefit' of an amorous witch. Nothing actually happens, but I realize that sort of attempted non-con scenario can be a real trigger for some and would rather be safe than sorry and warn.
Disclaimer: Don't own Supernatural and I'm making no profit.

Moonstruck

The musky, perfume-y scent of at least three-hundred different flavors of incense is so overwhelming that Dean is having a hard time concentrating on anything the palm reader, Lady – you can call me Tina – Moonbeam, is saying. How could anyone be freaky enough or even stoned enough to actually like this smell?

The little hairs in his nose feel like they've been singed off and his suit will have to be torched. There just isn't enough Tide in the world to wash out the stench. And it's beginning to give him one bitch of a headache, too.

Then there's his other headache, Sam (or not-Sam as he's beginning to think of him). The guy who looks like his brother, sounds like his brother, and occasionally even acts a little like his brother, but is most definitely NOT his brother. Not really. He's what he imagines a particularly sophisticated android might be like. A perfect match right down to the memories and the bad hair, but something is still not quite human under the hood.

Somewhere along the line, he heard a religious type say something like: 'The soul may be invisible and intangible, but it is not without weight and its lack would not go unnoted.'

There was a time when Dean would think such a sentiment was way too philosophical-sounding for his taste, but that was before he had to live with the walking/talking proof of it. And today, in particular, Sam's missing soul is proving to be utterly exhausting. Because, quite honestly, not-Sam is a dick and it's plain awkward when they have to interact with other humans – even when the other human is a freaky as hell, delusional palm reader who works under the title 'Lady Moonbeam' and claims to dabble in the lighter, softer side of witchcraft.

Pftt… lighter side. Right. It's like claiming to be a casual user of heroin or an honest politician. There's no such thing.

"… rumor says that the ritual will begin at midnight under the great sacred oak, during the greatest of the full moons," the woman drones on in that spacey, sing-song voice of hers. "But those are only rumors. My people would never sacrifice an innocent baby," she emphasizes, sounding genuinely horrified. "Our religion is so misunderstood. What you call 'witchcraft' is actually a practice of loving and respecting the forces of nature."

Dean only catches part of what she's saying. He's tuned out for most of the conversation, because most of it has been a variation on the same theme – misunderstood freaks, the beauty of nature, kumbaya, and yada yada yada…

"Sooo," Sam drawls sarcastically, "the mysterious dick-rotting disease Mr. Johnson caught after his wife visited your shop – I guess that was all about respecting nature. Kinda poetic though… the guy's name was Johnson," he adds with a harsh laugh.

As usual, Sam sounds utterly coldhearted and now the witness has her panties in a twist. Okay, yeah, it is kind of funny in a sick sort of way, but Sam isn't supposed to make inappropriate jokes at the most inappropriate times. That honor has always gone to Dean and he misses it, dammit. Having to serve as the group conscience and worry about everyone else's feelings just goes against the grain. It's unnatural. Besides, he was never that big of a douchebag… was he?

"I had nothing to do with that," the woman snaps, sounding insulted. "I only deal in things that affirm life."

Dean throws a warning glare at his brother and laughs awkwardly before turning his most bullshit smile on crazy lady. "Sorry about that Miss… um… Moonbeam. It's been a long day. My partner here sometimes likes to joke about the more tragic cases. It helps him deal with his… uh… emotions and stuff. He's one of those deep, sensitive types, ya know?"

Sam rolls his eyes, but thankfully keeps his trap shut.

"Of course he is!" she exclaims, her sour expression disappearing in an instant, replaced by that dippy vacant smile once again. At least Dean still has his charm.

"Please, call me Tina," she gushes.

"Yes ma'am," he nods politely.

She beams at him while fondling the crystal hanging around her neck – something is definitely loose in this lady's head. After a long, uncomfortable moment of staring, she floats over to where Sam is standing.

The woman just stands there and gazes up at Sam with something that looks an awful lot like lust. Seriously? Why the hell does soulless dickbag get all the attention from chicks these days?

It's not like this one is such a catch. She's brunette, probably somewhere around his age, fairly well-proportioned, and not technically unattractive, but the spaced-out attitude, patchouli oil, and ankle-length hippie skirt aren't exactly Dean's thing. And jeez the chick has more armpit hair than he does. But still, not the freaking point! He's supposed to be the one the girls go gaga over. That's how things work!

"This one's special," she says dreamily, reaching up to caress Sam's cheek tenderly. His upper lip curls into a sneer and he flinches away from her, but she seems too dense to notice. "Your aura shines like a beautiful light in the darkness. It sings to me like a choir of angels! I can feel your grace."

Dean snorts involuntarily. People actually give good money to this crackpot for her 'readings'? Damn, he's in the wrong business.

"Don't you see how precious he is?" she asks incredulously, narrowing her brown eyes at him.

"He's adorable," Dean mumbles. A giant, adorable, sociopathic teddy bear who'd let you drown in a mud puddle if he didn't feel like getting his sneakers wet. Yep. Dude's just precious.

XXXXXXXXXX

Dean winces as he settles himself back into the Impala, which has been baking in the summer heat for hours. The seat is roughly 1000 degrees right now. He can feel the burn all the way through his suit jacket and he's pretty sure his ass qualifies as at least a solid medium-rare.

It's been a long day of uncomfortable interpersonal interactions and dusty old books. Definitely not what he signed up for when he took this job. All he wants is a simple, old fashioned monster hunt. The last thing he's in the mood for is this lame witchcraft crap. And he knows this version of Sam doesn't particularly give a flying shit about how disappointed he is about that, but too bad, he's going to bitch to him anyway.

"Aww man! Does it have to be witches? You know I hate witches, Sam. The fact they're human just makes them that much skeevier, ya know?"

His brother gives him that bland 'you're being a baby' look and shrugs.

"What else could it be, Dean? One guy drowns in a glass of wine while at a crowded restaurant, another is mysteriously hanged by his mistress' bra, and then there's shriveled dick guy. Guess it sucks to be him," he adds with a snort and an indifferent smirk.

"Dude! Empathy. Poor guy. That was entire buckets of wrong right there. Friggin witches! I wouldn't wish 'em on my worst enemy."

Sam just shrugs again. He obviously doesn't care one way or the other. After all, it's not his junk that rotted off.

"So, what do you think we should do?" Dean asks tiredly.

"I say we find the 'great sacred oak' that hippie chick was talking about and stake it out. There's a full moon tonight – a super moon, actually. It is a peak time for spell work… and this bunch of witches is supposed to be all about the moon."

Dean scowls, but nods in agreement. He still doesn't like the fact that they got much of their intel from a so-called 'good witch', although he now doubts she's much more than a simple head case with delusions of witchy power. After all, her impressions of Sam were about as far off the mark as you could get and the 'witchcraft supplies' she sold in her shop were strictly for the tourist trade. She's either diabolically good at acting like a complete dumbass or she has absolutely nothing to do with what's going on in this town.

Needless to say, they weren't stupid enough to run into this blind, with only her questionable word to go on. They followed-up at the local historical society and apparently she wasn't completely blowing smoke up their ass. The historical record seems to lend weight to there being some actual witches around.

As it turns out, this little town on the outskirts of Albany, New York has a large population of Sicilian immigrants and, story is, some brought their own special brand of crazy along with them when they moved stateside. There are accounts of witchcraft going back at least a hundred years and - huge surprise – most of those accounts do not involve what Dean would call 'loving and respecting nature'. Most are the typical crap he expects from witches. Cursing unfaithful men, giving your enemies puss-filled boils and other fun family stuff like that.

They also found that these Sicilian witches, streghe to be technical about it, are known for their worship of several pagan mood goddesses, the big one being Diana. A full moon and especially one that is also a super moon is definitely considered a big deal for these particular freaks; their twisted idea of Christmas in July. So, yeah, Sam has a point. The stakeout probably is their best bet, but it's still going to suck all manner of ass to sit in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do besides make awkward conversation with the Terminator all night.

XXXXXXXXXX

Between the historical texts and Lady Moonbeam, they've managed to find the so-called 'sacred oak' on the outskirts of town. It's kind of obvious, actually. It's huge, old as Moses, and pagan symbols have been carved into the trunk. There are also the remains of a bonfire and a stone altar beneath it. At some point, something freaky has gone down here.

For the past few hours they've sat on a small ridge above the meadow where the tree stands. And, so far, a band of skinny, stray cats has been the most exciting thing about the stakeout. After an hour or two, Dean decides he can't take their pleading looks anymore and starts feeding them junk food. It's probably not too good for their systems, but then again, neither is starving.

"Here kitty, kitty," Dean calls out as he waggles a stick of teriyaki-flavored beef jerky. "Come and get it, you poor scraggly little bastards."

"I don't get it," Sam says. "You're not really doing those cats any actual good by feeding them your crap food. They'd be better off if you shot 'em."

"Dude! Hell no! Nobody's shooting the poor cats. What the hell is wrong with you?"

"Missing soul, Dean," Sam says dryly.

He decides to drop it. It's not good to dwell too much on what soulless-Sam is capable of. It gives him the willies. Beer – that's what he needs, he decides as he pops open the cooler at his feet. Screw it. It's well past midnight anyway. It doesn't look like anything's happening here tonight. Wavy Gravy's tip turned out to be crap - giant shocker. They'll just have to start their witch hunt again in the morning.

"Those cats could be familiars, you know," Sam says after a long quiet stretch.

"Don't look familiar to me," Dean replies, grinning at his own cleverness. "Never seen these cats before in my life."

"Familiars, Dean," Sam says with barely disguised disgust. "You know, a witch's companion animal?"

"I know what a 'familiar' is, Sam. I was joking." Does Sam really think he's that stupid?

"Sorry," he shrugs. "Couldn't tell. You're not exactly funny."

Okay, now Dean is offended. This is getting personal.

"I am too, funny! That was downright hilarious. It's called a classic play on words. You just don't have a sense of humor anymore."

"Dude, you've never been funny. Like, ever."

"Yeah… well… you suck," Dean grumbles.

"Okay. Stop pouting. I stand corrected. You're a real comedian."

And you're a real asshole, Dean adds to himself as he stands up from the rock they're sitting on and brushes the dirt off the seat of his pants.

"I'm gonna go water the bushes. Don't you dare shoot any cats while I'm gone, Dexter," he warns.

"Hilarious."

"Yep. Told ya so."

Dean tosses his empty beer bottle back in the cooler before strolling off. It's past midnight, but he doesn't need a flashlight. It's a really nice night, actually. The humidity is low for the middle of July and out here in the country there are no streetlights to block out the stars. If he could forget about the witch problem, his cat hating/potential serial killer brother, and 99.9% of everything else in his life, this place would be pretty damn peaceful.

He wanders a little further away than he'd intended, but is still within earshot if anything actually goes down… which he's beginning to doubt by this point. They've been out here for hours and haven't seen or heard squat.

Just as he's zipping up his fly his phone buzzes against his hip. The display shows it's Bobby calling. He's kind of surprised there's any service out here, but then again, they aren't that far off the interstate.

"Hey, Bobby."

"Tell me your stupid ass ain't still chasing witches in New York state."

"Jeez, good to talk to you too."

"I mean it, Dean. Tell me you've moved on."

"Okaaay… I've moved on," he lies.

"Dammit, Dean!"

He has to hold the phone away from his ear at that last ear shattering outburst. What the hell?

"Did you two dipshits bother doing any research on the streghe?"

"Yeah, Bobby. Of course of we did research."

"So what's their endgame then, genius?"

"They…" How the hell is he supposed to know? "I dunno. They're witches, dude. I'm guessing they just want the usual crap. You know… dance naked at midnight, spew their bodily fluids around, and de-junk any man who pisses 'em off. What do you mean – endgame?"

Bobby sighs his most long-suffering sigh and curses under his breath. Obviously, he and Sam must have missed a memo somewhere along the line.

"They worship the goddess Diana."

"Yeah. So? I know that. Told you we did our research, Bobby."

"Fine then, smartass. So, I reckon you know they're all about bringing about the so-called Age of the Daughter? Aradia, the female messiah who just so happens to be the daughter of Diana and the Light Bearer, better known as Lucifer himself – Does that ring any bells?"

"Uh… maybe." Nope, Dean did not know about that. "So you're saying they wanna bust Lucifer out of his cage?"

"No, I'm thinking it's more likely they wanna make Lucifer's vessel their baby-daddy… and it just so happens that that little trick can only be pulled on the night of a super moon."

"Fuck."

"Ya think?"

That's when Dean hears it. Sam, calling out for him in alarm and sounding so much like his real brother that it hits every alarm bell he has. He automatically kills the call and jams the phone back in his pocket. Bobby will freak, but he'll call him back later, provided he's not dead.

He whirls around and starts to tear off at a run, but the path is blocked. It's the nutty palm reader/witch and she's got two of the stray cats he was feeding with her. They look unusually smug, even for cats. And he hadn't noticed it before, but their eyes have a very unnatural glow to them, kind of like the old Yellow-Eyed Demon himself. Dammit!

"I knew my lie about sacrificing babies would bring you two straight to us," she says proudly. "My eyes and ears say you've been here all night."

"Guess I should've let Sam shoot those cats, after all."

"They're technically not cats," the witch replies with that dopey smile. "I'm sorry, Dean. I can't let you interfere in this. Tonight is too important. It's my wedding night," she adds in a low whisper.

"You mean you wanna get knocked up by the closest thing we've got to Satan? Gotta say you almost had me fooled with all that peace, love, and nature crap, lady. I actually thought you were buying it."

"It's not crap," she says with a shake of her head, talking at him like he's five. "Lucifer is the light bearer and our child will save the world. You misunderstand him."

Great. More 'sympathy for the devil' BS. He thought he was done with all that.

"Sister, take it from one of the few people who's actually met Lucifer and lived to tell about it… the guy is one major league bag of dicks. The only light he brings is hellfire. Honestly, I friggin hate the bastard."

She takes a step forward so that there's barely a foot between them. "That's your problem, Dean. You need to learn to love that which you hate. Only then will you be free."

Okay, that is officially the stupidest thing he's heard in a while. He's pretty sure he read that in a fortune cookie once and that kind of bullshit fortune always pisses him off. That's it. He's putting a bullet in this freak.

Just as he's reaching for his gun, Lady 'Tina' Moonbeam snaps her fingers and now he can't see a damn thing.

It's weird. He's not blind, exactly. He can see a bit of light, but it's like something is covering his eyes and blocking his vision. He's also very close to the ground. He can feel the dirt and the prickle of dry grass and pine needles under his feet, which seem to be bare now. Unfortunately, he can also smell the overwhelming odor of armpit.

Somehow, he recognizes that it's his own armpit he smells. Don't all stinky armpits smell basically the same? And what the hell is that about, anyway? Yeah, it's July and he spent the greater part of the day dressed in a polyester monkey suit, but he had a shower this morning. He doesn't smell that bad.

He sits up on his haunches – haunches? – and tries to get his bearings. There is something blocking his vision. It's fabric, cotton to be specific. It's his own damn t-shirt and it's huge! No wonder he can smell himself.

Or – and he really hopes this is not a case of OR – the t-shirt is its normal size and he is very, very small. One thing is certain; he's not going to figure it out if he doesn't get out of his giant shirt. So, he crawls out of the arm hole on his hands and knees… which strangely feel more like four little feet.

Once back in the bright light of the moon he sits up and takes a look around. Either everything has been blown up to fifty times its normal size or he has been shrunk.

It's not only the sights that have been blown up, either. Every sound and every smell is magnified. The sound of the crickets and other bugs that make noise at night are almost deafening, and the hoot of an owl from probably a mile away is unnaturally horrifying. And the smells are even more overwhelming than the sounds.

Aside from the aroma of his own armpits, he can smell the earthy scent of the dirt beneath his feet and actually break out all the different components. Rock, earthworms, rotted grass, pine needles… his mind could get lost in all the little details. He even knows, by scent alone, that a rabbit hopped by here at least an hour ago. But amid all that, there is one smell that fills him with absolute piss-your-pants terror. He can't even identify the smell, but his gut tells him that it's bad – very, very bad.

The scent seems to be coming from his left so he turns his head that way. From a small clump of bushes he sees two sets of glowing, yellow eyes peering back at him. He recognizes that they're just cat eyes belonging to plain old house cats. Why is that the scariest thing ever?

Maybe it's because he's the incredible shrinking man and those harmless house cats are now the equivalent of mountain lions. But deep down, he knows it's more than that. This fear is primal, gut-wrenching… instinctual. He looks down with dread to see that he is now covered in sandy, light-brown fur and wrapped around his freaky, clawed feet is a big, fat naked tail; a rat's tail. Holy shit!

The crazy witch turned him into a rat. He's certified vermin now. He hates rats!

He doesn't have a lot of time to dwell on his self-hatred because the cats are on the move, slinking out of the bushes with their bellies close to the ground. They are stalking him and, to think, not thirty minutes ago he was feeding the ungrateful little shits pieces of ham from his sandwich. Since he doubts they care about that, he decides running is his best option.

XXXXXXXXXX

The lay of the land looks different when you're only a few inches off the ground, scampering for your life on four feet. Scampering – it's so damn humiliating! Luckily, he has his enhanced rat senses to keep him from getting lost. He can easily smell the path his boots left along the way and follows that in his race to escape death and stop Sam from getting it on with another hippie chick. What is it with Sam and the patchouli crowd lately?

If he doesn't end up as Fancy Feast, he's not sure how in the hell he's supposed to stop anything in his current condition. At least he has his giant, oversized balls going for him. That was another thing he spotted when he gave himself the once over. He couldn't miss them; the damn things are as big as his head! What the evolutionary point of that is, he doesn't know. He only knows that in a long career of gross and disturbing experiences, his giant rat balls are the new gold standard.

"Deeeaaan! Dammit, where the hell are you!?"

That would be Sam. He'll have to learn some patience. Dean's running his furry little ass off here.

He finally makes it back to the hill overlooking the meadow. The cats, thank God, seem to have lost interest in him. They're more fascinated in checking out the scene below, which is well… sort of interesting.

There are about a dozen women down there, all holding hands, chanting, and dancing around the tree – completely naked. Some of them don't look half bad either, but that's beside the point.

There's also a bonfire blazing, but through the flames – and the naked female bodies, of course – he can spot Sam lying stretched-out on the altar. He appears to be naked too. More disturbing naked balls. His day just can't get any better.

There's really no time to formulate a plan. Even if there was, most of his plans don't adjust well to the whole 'being a rat now' plot twist. He'll just have to wing it. Go down squeaking or whatever the fuck rodents do.

XXXXXXXXXX

If there's a positive side to being a rat, it's being small enough to sneak around unnoticed. The cats were his major worry, but they seem to be too enraptured by whatever the witches are trying to conjure up with all their chanting. He's able to slip into the circle and scramble up the sides of the altar. Rats are pretty good climbers too, it seems.

He pops up near Sam's ginormous right foot and reaches out to lightly scratch the bottom of it with his little rodent claws. He's trying to get his brother's attention, but he guesses that's kind of stupid. It's not like Sam will recognize him and think: Hooray, the Dean-rat is here!

Sam does look down and when Dean waves his paw, the expression on his face is classic 'What the fuck?' He doesn't look scared though, and if Dean were in his place, he has to admit he'd be freaking the hell out. Rats are flat-out creepy, especially if you're tied down naked. But, then again, Sam isn't exactly rocking the full scale of emotions these days. Curiosity and mild disgust seem to be the most he can muster.

Dean proceeds to run up the altar toward Sam's head. Damn, the dude is too long! It's a journey just to get past his legs. Finally he reaches his goal – the thick rope that is tied around Sam's chest, holding his arms pinned against his sides.

If he even had a knife, he wouldn't be able to use it, so Dean quickly resorts to using his giant front teeth to chew through the rope. It's actually kind of fun and comes disturbingly natural to him. Rats have some strange hobbies.

Sam curses and bucks against the rope, but Dean keeps chewing away. He only pauses when he gets closer to his brother's skin. If dude doesn't keep still, he's going to end up accidentally biting him and the idea is not appealing. He sits up and glares at Sam, hoping his beady little eyes can send him some sort of message.

Sam lifts his head up and crinkles his brow at him. He can practically see his robot circuitry firing as he stares, trying to figure out what in the hell is going on.

"Dean, is that you?" he hisses incredulously.

Oh, come on! Are their lives really so weird that it would be natural to jump straight to that conclusion? He shouldn't complain, but damn!

"You still have the devil's trap on your chest," Sam says, apparently reading his mind.

Dean looks down and sonuvabitch, he does have a devil's trap! It's right there on his chest and it's perfect, except it's not drawn in ink, it's made of black fur instead. He probably didn't notice it before, because he was too distracted by the fact that he had fur in the first place… and then there were the giant rat balls.

Dean shrugs automatically, but he's not sure how that gesture translates to his rat body. He doesn't know if he even technically has shoulders anymore. But at least they're on the same page now and Sam will hopefully hold still while he finishes gnawing through the rope.

He better hurry too, because even though the chanting is not in English, he can still tell that it is reaching some sort of climax. Although 'climax' is probably a very poor word choice considering that the nutty and also very naked Lady Moonbeam seems to be getting close to making her move on Sam.

She's broken away from the circle and is striding toward the altar with a very determined look in her eyes. A very determined, very pervy look. So disturbing.

Just as he chews through the last few fibers, the chanting suddenly stops. He doesn't get to see why though, because Sam jerks into a sitting position and sends his little rodent body flying off the altar in the process. The landing hurts too! He's tiny now. It's a long fall for him. He's pretty sure he's sprained his paw.

The collective gasping and the oohing and ahhing prompt him to limp around to the other side of the altar and check out the situation.

All the naked witches are now kneeling face-down on the ground. All of them except for Sam's girlfriend, that is. She's now standing very tall and Dean doesn't know if it's his super rat-senses or not, but he knows this woman is not hippie-dippy Lady 'Tina' Moonbeam – not anymore.

Awesome. They're screwed. Or well, technically, Sam's screwed and he'll probably just get ripped open by a bunch of cats.

The goddess Diana, or whoever it is that's wearing Lady Moonbeam, is completely focused on Sam who has managed to kick his feet free of the rest of the ropes and is now standing buck-ass naked in a fighting stance in front of her.

It's like the setup to a very bad porno. He's just waiting for the music to start. If he lives through tonight, Dean is done with nudity for good. He doesn't even want to see his own balls. He's showering in his boxers. But, sadly, he just can't seem to look away from the site in front of him. It's like a horrible train wreck.

The goddess, or whatever she is, is obviously not intimidated by Sam. She steps up in front of him and places a hand flat against his chest. The lust and elation on her face quickly dissolves into complete disgust. Talk about a libido killer - poor Sammy.

"He has no soul!" she rages, spinning around to look at the ring of kneeling witches. "This is Lucifer's vessel, but you have brought him to me with no soul! My child's father MUST have a soul!"

Oh crap. Is this a good thing or a bad thing for them? Because this lady looks really, really pissed.

One of the witches is brave enough to scramble to her feet, but she still keeps her head bowed. "Great Mother, we did not know. Please forgive us."

The Great Mother is apparently not the forgiving type. The witch who spoke up begins to gasp for breath and claw at her throat. Some invisible force seems to be choking her. It's not long before she falls over into a limp heap, more than likely dead.

"I've waited thousands of years! And you gift me with this?!"

Just as the screaming really gets started, Dean feels a large hand closing around his body. It's Sam. His brother has scooped him up and is running away as fast as his long legs will carry him. Seems like a good plan, Dean's just a little surprised that he took the time to bring him along. The sobering thought is that he probably wouldn't have if it had required much effort.

XXXXXXXXXX

Sam went back to check on the witch situation, leaving Dean on his own to twiddle his non-opposable thumbs in the motel room. He just hopes that Diana will be long gone before Sam gets there. If not, she'll probably either kill Sam or decide 'what the hell' and try to make a baby with him anyway.

There's always the danger that thousands of years of celibacy has made her a little less picky about the quality of her mate and Dean isn't so sure Sam won't take it as a golden opportunity to simply scratch an itch - damn the consequences. His recent track record with hippie chicks and hooking-up under inappropriate circumstances does not inspire a lot of confidence, but there also isn't much Dean can do about it under his present circumstances.

His present circumstances remind him, yet again, that Robo-Sam is a soulless bastard who's getting WAY too much mileage out of Dean's situation.
Exhibit one: the asshole was kind enough to put him on the bed before leaving and even turned on the TV so he wouldn't be bored. Problem was, Sam found quite possibly the most disturbing thing possible for him to watch – Willard - the 70's horror movie about psychotic killer rats.

Seriously, what are the odds of that specific movie being on today? That sort of unlikely coincidence makes him wonder if Gabriel isn't still out there somewhere playing sadistic pranks on the Winchesters.

The real bitch of it is, Dean has to watch TV to distract himself from the overwhelming urge to chew up the ugly, pea green bedspread in order to make a nice, fluffy rat's nest to snuggle in. The idea is nearly irresistible, and he'd give in and go for it if he hadn't paid a deposit he can't afford to lose.

Sam had tossed the remote on the bed with him too - to taunt him, no doubt. It's almost impossible to work the damn buttons in his condition. Finally, after practically jumping up and down on the thing and gnawing on it - just a little - he is able to change the channel over to friggin Animal Planet of all things.

Currently, the channel is showing a twenty-four hour marathon of the show My Cat From Hell. Yep, Gabriel is still out there. Dean now has irrefutable proof.

This is utter bullshit. The whole mess makes him itch… or maybe he just has fleas.
He reaches up to scratch behind his ear with his back left foot and realizes it's not working out the way it should. Mostly because he has an actual normal, human foot now and is no longer quite that flexible.

He's a man again! Everything is back to normal human proportions. Thank God! He was seriously beginning to worry.

By the time Sam gets back, he's dressed and has turned the TV completely off. The cable in this motel is full of too much disturbing crap.

XXXXXXXXXX

"All dead, huh?"

Dean kind of suspected as much, but was hoping at least a few of those women would get the chance to learn from their mistakes and move on with their lives - in a less witchy direction. He highly doubted they got what they thought they were signing up for. Some of them probably did buy all the peace, love, and embracing nature hoopla.

"Yeah," Sam mumbles indifferently, he's clearly more interested in grabbing a beer from the mini fridge. "Every single one, completely obliterated. Tina too. But at least they're nice and warm… I torched the bodies." He smirks at that remark; obviously thinking he's being extra witty.

Dean makes a face, but doesn't comment. Truth is, he may have said something similar, but as it turns out - context is everything. For him it would have been a 'gallows humor' type of thing, another way of pushing all the horror down and trying to forget that a dozen human beings just lost their lives. But Sam, on the other hand, just doesn't give a rat's ass. Pun most definitely intended.

Still, at least for the moment, his life doesn't seem so hopelessly horrible. The afterglow of not being a rat is pretty damn sweet. Sometimes it really is the little things.

"Never thought your lack of a soul would come in handy," Dean remarks. "Life's pretty freaky, huh?"

"Oh yeah," Sam agrees after taking a pull from his beer. "Dude, you were a rat."

Sam grins and laughs a little. It seems pretty genuine, actually. He may be soulless and emotionless, but he still appears to be able to get a kick out of things that humiliate the living crap out of Dean. Little things like being abducted by faeries or turned into a rat. But, in a strange way, it is sort of comforting. The old Sam would have laughed about it too.