Title: Into The Woods
Summary: AU: Dean and Sam take their families on a relaxing camping trip for the first annual Winchester family vacation. Not long after arriving, the angels show up on a team building exercise. Relaxing isn't quite the word for the weekend from then on. 4th in the 'Lost and Found' series.
Disclaimer: Supernatural was created by Eric Kripke. No disrespect is meant with this work of fan fiction.
Jo had been giving herself away and didn't seem to realize it. Gwen had watched her cook burgers, add wood to the fire, and other tasks and thought about pulling her aside and pointing it out, then decided not to. The damage was done.
Irritation prickled at her as Castiel tried to get her to talk about her fear. First Jo tried to find out what was wrong and then Castiel asked about her fear. Dean hadn't tried yet and neither had Sam. Gwen was glad for that. She didn't want to talk about her feelings or her fear. The sensation of annoyance in Sam's body was different from when in her own. It was like a slow burn, as if she could shove it down for awhile and let it go until it built up enough force to explode.
That sounded very much like the way Sam seemed when Dean (or someone else) was annoying him. Like he was tamping down the irritation until he couldn't do it anymore. She'd already done the slight half-suppressed sigh a couple times, and the raised brows and half-eye roll. What was left? The squaring of the jaw before speaking at the next moment of irritation. Gwen thought it'd be soon. Maybe Castiel again. Maybe Jo. Perhaps even Dean.
Luckily, Balthazar appeared before anyone said anything and he sauntered close.
"How goes the enlightenment?" Balthazar held his hands out at the flames and wiggled his fingers. "Are you all thoroughly enlightened?"
An annoyed frown appeared on Castiel's face. It was nice that Gwen wasn't the only one feeling that way right now. "Is there a reason you're here and not back in heaven? I specifically told you to clear out your camp with Atropos and go back."
"The camp is cleared. I came to enjoy the show. Okay, poll time. Who here has the hots for your own body? Show of hands?" His expression was hopeful as he looked at each of them, as if he was hoping for some salacious behavior.
Jo pointed a finger at Dean, who'd begun sliding up the sleeve of her shirt the second Balthazar had appeared. "Do not cut open any part of my arm or hand to get blood for a banishing sigil."
"How did you know?"
"Kind of transparent, sweetheart. Besides, you banish him, you banish Castiel too."
He pushed her sleeve back down. "Spoilsport."
"Leave, Balthazar." Castiel directed a pointed stare at the other angel.
Balthazar crossed his arms. "You're no fun. Actually, I came to tell you that the transfer went well and the Satyr is currently enjoying the charms of his lovely nymphs. Well, most of them. Atropos is having a talk with one of them…."
"The busty one?"
"Yes. Apparently she doesn't trust me, though I can't think why. I've been nothing but -"
"Imagine that." Dean snorted. "Her not trusting you."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You're not supposed to flirt with a woman seriously when you're in a committed relationship." He put Jo's arm around Jo, who smirked, shrugged off the arm and put Dean's arm around Dean.
"Yeah," she agreed. "You flirt un-seriously and only for cases or to get good service in restaurants. Good causes like those."
Dean looked at her and shrugged a brow. "Mmm. I love it when you take charge and lay down the law like this."
Jo made a playful animal purring-growl that would have sounded fine from her own throat (Gwen had heard her do it before), but from Dean's was more like a rusty saw. She coughed. "That's easier in my own body. Your throat just doesn't quite make that noise right."
Balthazar stared at them, a disgusted turn to his lips. "Heavens, that's both disturbing and revolting. More so than you both already are together. This switch has brought out new depths in it."
"Oh, shut up," Sam called. "If you pissed Atropos off, it's your own fault. Don't pretend you don't understand why because you know very well why. We all gave you advice, you just don't want to follow it, so go away. Complain to someone else. Or, here's an idea, try actually talking to her about your relationship instead of talking to everyone else about it."
He transferred his attention briefly to Sam, then Gwen, and finally Castiel. "They are ugly like this aren't they?"
"Mood swing," Castiel explained, then glanced at Gwen for confirmation.
She studied Sam a few seconds and nodded. "Definitely another mood swing."
"Well, I'll leave you to the mood swings." He took a few steps, then stopped. "Oh, and Sam? I have talked to her. I talk to her all the time."
"Oh yeah? About something besides how much you like her breasts?"
He opened his mouth and pointed a finger as if to dispute that, then lowered the finger. "I will."
"You'd better. Somehow, I don't think having a Fate pissed at you will increase your chances of living a long life. Just tell her what you told me earlier about loving that she's never the same woman and how there's always more about her to learn. Tell her you don't want to change her and you like her for who and what she is."
"That is good advice," Dean interjected. "Steer clear of any mention of breasts in that particular talk."
Sam crossed Gwen's arms. "Suck it up and do it already and if you want out, don't sabotage it by flirting with someone else in front of her. Simply tell her. The other will backfire and since she is a Fate, you could find yourself rubbing elbows with Gabriel in wherever you angels go when you die."
"We return to the cosmic dust that we were formed from." Castiel shifted in the chair.
"Thank, Castiel. I didn't know that."
"You're welcome, Sam."
"I don't think I like any of you," Balthazar informed them before he disappeared.
"Do you think he'll actually take any of our advice," Dean mused.
"No," Jo answered at the same time Castiel did.
Crossing Sam's arms, Gwen glanced past Castiel at Sam. He had that glassy-eyed look again and she wondered if it was from Castiel easing the symptoms. Gwen was grateful for that. He didn't have to do that. She stretched out a hand and touched his coat sleeve. "Thanks. For Sam."
"You're welcome. Are you sure you don't wish to discuss -"
"Positive. Just…let it go."
"If it's something I could assist with -"
"It isn't, okay? It's all past stuff."
He peered at her and nodded. "Very well. Then perhaps we could roast marshmallows. I've been told that watching them blowup in the fire, char, and drop into the fire is a true camping experience."
Gwen snorted. "Who told you that?"
"Right. Weren't you paying attention when we made s'mores earlier?"
"Well, it's better to make s'mores with them." She raised Sam's voice. "Hey guys? Castiel just suggested we make s'mores."
"I didn't suggest s'mores," he corrected. "I suggested roasting marshmallows."
"S'mores are better," Jo replied, getting up and heading to the food containers. "They have chocolate."
Castiel reached for the sticks they'd been using earlier, took the marshmallow Jo handed him and fitted it to the stick before lowering the stick to the flames. He looked so serious as he stared at the marshmallow with a glimmer of excitement in his eyes that Gwen bit back a smile. He almost looked like a little kid for a second.
Sam closed Gwen's eyes and appeared to fall asleep again.
Meanwhile, Dean appeared content to let Jo make the s'mores, his attention lingering on Jo. Yeah, Gwen decided. Jo was definitely going to have that whole 'you lied' conversation with Dean later.
The marshmallow Castiel had turned black and plopped into the fire. "That was not as satisfactory as Atropos made it sound. It hardly blew up at all."
"You want a marshmallow to blow up you use the microwave." Jo handed Dean a plate with two s'mores on it. "Come by the house later and I'll show you, but only if you clean up the mess."
He set the stick against the table. "I'll be there. Sometime this week?"
"Excellent. I've never seen a marshmallow explode before. I look forward to it." He glanced at the path. "You will all be yourselves in a few hours. I promise. No after troubles." He made a gesture at the trees. "I'll be around if you need me. You may sleep without fear. I'll keep watch."
Gwen felt a little better knowing he'd be watching over their camp.
It wasn't long after the s'mores that Jo went into the tent to go to bed. Dean waited awhile, then left Gwen to convince Sam to go to bed and count the hours down until switchback. Sam's body probably wouldn't need rest until after the switch occurred.
Poor Gwen, he thought. Whatever her problem with this was wasn't getting easier as time passed. He got up. "Turning in. Catch you in the morning."
He climbed in to the tent, an easier task in Jo's somewhat smaller body.
"Your back is hurting," Jo murmured as Dean closed the flap. She'd laid his body flat on the half-deflated mattress and was staring up at the tent ceiling.
"Roll over," he told her, making sure the flap was secure. "Pull the shirt off."
There was a moment of hesitation before she did and stretched out.
This was definitely surreal, he decided as he used Jo's hands to massage the ache away. He knew exactly where to focus his attention.
As he worked, a soft groan sounded, Jo sighing. "That feels good."
He wondered if he really sounded like that, voice a sensual velvet sound. Dean ran one hand flat along his back. Jo's heartbeat had quickened at the groan and he stopped the massage, trying to analyze the reaction. It wasn't a sexual feeling exactly, not like that wave of desire he'd had earlier. This was more like a burst of love and affection.
Jo sat up, tugging the shirt back on before lying on his back. She smiled, stretching out a hand and sliding it through her hair. The pleasant sensation made Dean shiver. "You need to brush my hair."
"Do I?" It hadn't occurred to him to do that yet. He wasn't used to having hair like this.
"You do. Long hair needs care. I'll braid it unless you think you can."
The burst sharpened and he laid her body down beside his, moving close and grasping his own hand. He placed it on Jo's waist and touched his face with her fingertips. The stubble on his jaw tickled her fingertips. "Does the stubble hurt at all?"
"Have I ever complained about it?"
He didn't recall her doing so. "Not that I remember." He leaned closer, gaze on hers, fascinated at how he seemed to be able to see her in his eyes. Was it because he was looking for her there? He felt his hand move, slipping along Jo's waist, her shirt riding up and bare skin touching bare skin. The caress was soft and he thought she'd done it deliberately. He shivered again. Was this how she always felt when he touched her? "Do I always make you shiver when I touch you," he asked.
"Pretty much," she admitted.
He explored his features with her fingertips.
"Sweetheart, what are you doing?" There was a bare sliver of amusement in his eyes. Jo knew very well what he was doing and he had the sudden impression that she'd been a short while from doing something similar herself.
"I'm ignoring the weird," he told her, and moved even closer, brushing their cheeks together. The stubble didn't hurt, though it was bristly, more of a pleasant roughness than a pain. He drew back a fraction. "I can see you in my eyes. It's the strangest thing. I can actually see you there. You're like this…gleam of feminine softness. Can you see me in your eyes?"
"Yes. I can't explain really what I'm seeing, just that I know it's you."
He made a split-second decision. "Close my eyes. I want to try something."
His smirk appeared, "Those last words get us into trouble frequently," but she complied.
Before Dean could change his mind, he pressed her lips to his.
As kisses went, it was hardly what he's been expecting. Most definitely odd. He ignored the weird, like he'd told Jo he was doing and changed angles, trying another kiss. Then another. And another. And yet another until he'd exhausted all possible angles and pressures.
Truthfully, Dean would have liked to say that it didn't bother him and it wasn't sort of bizarre. He'd like to claim that he totally got into it, but Jo was right. There was weird and then there was weird, and this was certainly the worst of the latter sort. If he'd had no idea they were only a few hours from being back in their own bodies, maybe he would have persevered until the weirdness went away. Surely it would go away if enough time passed? As it was, the situation exhausted even his sense of sexual adventure in a short time period and that was saying a lot.
Kissing her in his body while being in her body felt too wrong to enjoy properly. He pulled back and licked her lips. She opened his eyes and that smug amused expression sparked a glimmer of irritation in Jo's body. "Do not say I told you so."
"Would I do that?" Even the innocent tone grated.
"Yes. You're right, okay? This is a little too off the charts on the bizarre scale for me." While he would have chuckled, Jo made it sound like a giggle and he, in turn, laughed at that. "Jo, don't giggle in my body."
"I can't help it. I'm a girl in here, okay?"
"And tomorrow, when we get back home, and after this has worn off, I'm thoroughly exploring your girliness."
She pulled him close and whispered. "Tell me more. Just how do you plan on exploring it?"
"Well first, I'm going to…" He obliged her with a full accounting.
Gwen stared at the fire, willing Sam's body to feel sleepy. Unfortunately, it didn't cooperate and she realized she was actually starting to feel more awake than ever. She'd probably still be awake when the switch back occurred unless it came with a sleeping spell like before.
She put Sam's hands in his jacket pockets. Dean and Jo had gone to bed not long before she'd gotten Sam into the other tent. For awhile she'd been able to hear the sound of their voices and giggles from Jo that had sounded bizarre in Dean's low tone. Now, there was silence from their tent and Gwen was left alone with the sounds of nature.
She leaned her head back and peered through the leaves up at the sky.
Sam's height was giving her fits and being the first to have to use the pee pit in this condition was not something she'd been too happy about. Though she had to admit that being able to write her name in pee had been a strangely giddy experience. Everything else though…. She felt too tall and unable to control his body properly, out of place, not liking anything about this experience at all.
Jo was liking seeing things how Dean did. The insight into his eating habits alone had probably helped their relationship tremendously. Now that Jo knew why he didn't like vegetables, she could allow for that.
Dean was enjoying that he had breasts and could look down and see cleavage if he stretched the neckline of Jo's shirt out more. Gwen thought if they had more time like this and were back at the house, he'd likely take it further and really get to know Jo's body - with Jo's permission. Gwen could practically hear Jo telling Dean to 'knock himself out'.
Even Sam was liking the little bit of understanding he was getting. He'd mentioned something to that effect when she'd put him to bed in the tent, murmuring that he was glad he knew what she felt at these times.
As far as Gwen was concerned, this could be wiped from her memory when it was over. Too bad Castiel would never go for doing that. Maybe Balthazar would, but who really wanted to give Balthazar access to their brain? Not her.
They were all curious about her discomfort with this. Dean had given her a couple of funny looks, but no way was she going to admit to anyone except perhaps Sam that this right here was her fear. Not just any fear, but rather her big, heart-attack inducing, palm sweating, irrational fear. They all had a fear. Jo had snakes, Dean flying, and Sam clowns. Gwen? She had this. Gender soul switching. Sort of anyway. Her fear wasn't this exact thing, but rather an off-shoot of it.
Gwen Campbell Winchester was afraid of suddenly being turned into a man physically. It wasn't rational, was sort of stupid, and she had Christian to thank for her fear. What a prize of a cousin he'd been, especially during her formative years.
Rationally, she knew it'd be over soon and they'd go home with no ill effects for any of them. Castiel had assured them of that a couple times. She knew she should be as fascinated by this look into men like Jo was. However, she couldn't force herself to be. No way, no how. It was all she could do to pretend everything was fine and she was okay when really, she was walking the edge of panic. She'd even contemplated asking Castiel to make her sleep until the switch was over. He wouldn't do it, of course, any more than he would wipe her memory because it wasn't necessary. He was careful these days about the sort of angel-powered things he took care of.
The skunk approached, nuzzled Sam's legs and tapped at one leg with a paw. Gwen turned her attention to it, leaning over to pet it. Had Atropos been pulling a joke on Castiel with the intent of him being sprayed by a skunk? Since she was hanging out with Balthazar on a regular basis, Gwen sort of assumed that could be the case. Still, maybe she hadn't been joking. Maybe the skunk really was a woman who'd been cursed. Witches were nasty, even Heather had displayed nasty behavior, and there was a precedent in folklore for that sort of thing.
Thoughtful, she picked up the skunk and settled it on Sam's lap. "Don't spray me, okay?" With a gentle touch, she smoothed a hand along it's back. Intelligent eyes looked up at her and she'd swear she could almost see a woman looking back at her and not an animal. "How did Jack know? How did a little boy not even four figure out you were more than a skunk?"
There was rustling at the tent she and Sam shared and Sam came from the tent. He approached. "Who are you talking to?"
"The skunk. Feeling any better?"
"Surprisingly, yes. Now I'm not tired."
"Join the club. Your body is wide awake. I couldn't sleep if I tried."
"I know. Sorry. I know you'd rather be sleeping through this." Gwen saw curiosity in her own eyes, but Sam didn't ask. She knew he was working on figuring out her reaction and had a good chance of doing so. After all, he'd known Christian and knew a lot about her childhood. All she'd have to say was Christian and he'd understand completely.
"I'll keep you company out here." He brought one chair close and laid Gwen's arm across the back of her chair. Sam reached over and petted the skunk. "We should find out more details from Atropos about her."
"If it's not a joke on Cas."
"I don't think it is. Atropos doesn't seem the type to do that kind of joke on anyone. I think she's more the 'semi-fatal joke because he can heal from it' type. Things only a being like her would consider funny. The other is more like something Dean would do in one of his more childish moments."
"True. So, assume it's true until proven otherwise?"
"Probably the best bet."
"Should we trap her to keep her safe until we can take care of the witch that did this to her?"
"We'll keep an eye on her, talk to Cas in the morning, see if he can get information from Atropos."
"I'd put the witch somewhere in maybe a fifty mile radius. Maybe even less. I'd assume she'd want the woman to be close enough to see her win."
"Never know though. If nothing else, maybe we can call Heather, see if she has any advice or ideas."
They discussed it a bit longer, then sat still together watching the fire as night deepened around them.