Author's Note: So what this is, is a whole lot of crack. I know I seem to be giving this warning with just about every fic I post these days, but I'm giving it again: there is no plot. I just wanted to mess with the boys. (This has actually been sitting on my hard drive for months, because I kept hoping I'd figure out a way to add plot to it. Then I figured, if that does happen, I can always post another fic, right? For now there's this.)
Also, all wolf-related scenes are pure fiction. Don't try this at home (or in the wild, or anywhere else you happen to come across a real wolf.)
Thanks, as always, to Cheryl, for not calling me insane. ;-)
Disclaimer: I don't own the boys.
Summary: Dean gets turned into a wolf. Sam is a little amused, a little puzzled, and a little worried. Set any season.
Lupus in Fabula
Sam, as usual, was the first to wake up.
He glanced across at Dean's bed. His brother was an indistinct shape under a mound of blankets. For a moment, Sam contemplated waking Dean up to do the breakfast run. After all, Sam had done it every day this week.
But there was no point. Sam was awake, and it would just make Dean whiny and annoying if Sam roused him.
Later, Sam would swear he hadn't been out of the room more than half an hour. The diner was right across the street and it wasn't like he and Dean (especially Dean) wanted a gourmet breakfast. Coffee and anything the nearest diner could put in a bag was more like it.
Half an hour, but when Sam came back, Dean's bed was empty, and a slavering wolf was crouching by the window.
Sam dropped the food and brought his gun up almost without thinking, like he'd been trained to do. He didn't fire, though. It didn't look like a werewolf and, training or not, he wasn't about to shoot a wild animal unless it had done something to deserve it.
Something like maybe eat Dean?
"Dean!" Sam yelled at the top of his voice, looking towards the closed bathroom door. When no sound came, he tried again, "Dean!"
There was no response from Dean, but someone from the next room rapped sharply on the wall. "Hey, buddy, whoever she is, she's long gone. Now shut up and let the rest of us sleep!"
Sam was about to yell for Dean again when the wolf's eyes caught his.
The wolf's familiar moss-green eyes.
"Oh, hell, no," Sam breathed, staring at it. "Dean?" The wolf whined. "Is that you?" It wagged its tail furiously.
Sam lowered his gun and stepped forward – cautiously, because, wagging tail or not, it was still the biggest wolf he'd ever seen and it could probably snap him in half as easily as look at him.
The wolf met him halfway, thrusting its snout into his outstretched hand.
Sam stared at it in disbelief. "Dude, what the hell happened to you?"
Two hours later, Sam didn't know any more than he'd done at first.
His first panicked fear had been that Dean had somehow been turned into a werewolf, but it had only taken a few minutes to dispel that thought. The wolf in the room looked nothing like a werewolf and everything like a textbook example of a North American timber wolf. More to the point, its eyes were unmistakeably Dean's eyes. And it hadn't even tried to hurt him. It had sniffed him, nipped playfully at his ankles, and then proceeded to lick his hands thoroughly and sloppily, until he managed to shove it off and went to the tiny bathroom to clean up.
He hadn't given Dean the doughnuts, because he was pretty sure you weren't supposed to feed wolves doughnuts. He'd used Google, found a place that would deliver steak at eight in the morning, and endured the unedifying spectacle of his brother the wolf devouring several pounds of medium rare.
He'd been worried about what to do with Dean while he figured out what had happened and how to turn him back, but Dean solved that problem for him by curling up on the floor at Sam's feet and going to sleep.
Sam heaved a sigh of relief and got his laptop, taking a moment to contemplate the unfairness of having to do this when they were just passing through town on their way to a salt-and-burn in Atlanta. This was supposed to be a freaking rest stop. And rest stops weren't allowed to turn his brother into a wolf when his back was turned – that was a violation of the hunters' code.
Sam's searching turned up no instances of people being turned into wolves (not that he'd expected that; the universe was never that kind to hunters). But it had revealed that there'd been four fatal wolf attacks in town in the past two weeks.
And, yes, definitely wolf attacks. Sam had, of course, promptly hacked into the local PD servers and downloaded the coroner's files from the deaths. Neither the reports nor the pictures indicated a wendigo or a werewolf or anything other than a wild animal attack.
Sam looked down at the slumbering timber wolf. He didn't want to believe there was any connection between his big brother and an angry wolf tearing apart a careless camper.
But it was too much to be a coincidence.
Sam stared at his laptop screen until he was shaken from his thoughts by the wolf's nose butting his shin.
"What?" he demanded, exasperated.
The wolf leapt to its feet, ran to the door, and pawed at the handle.
"You want to go out?" Sam asked. "Dude, you can't… If someone sees you… It's probably not even legal. They'll take you away and try to tag you and release you back into the wild or something."
The wolf's ears perked up.
"You don't get beer or Busty Asian Beauties in the wild," Sam explained.
Its ears went back down, but it continued to paw determinedly at the door handle.
"Well, if you just need to go out for a couple of minutes…" The wolf gave him a flat look, and Sam sighed. "Dean, no. No longer than that. If someone sees you, we could be in over our heads. Do you have any idea what kind of tranqs they use on potentially dangerous animals?"
The wolf growled.
Sam pushed himself to his feet and went to the door, ready to stare his brother down, wolf or no wolf. "I know you're bored, man. It isn't for long. Just wait till I can figure this out. How the hell am I supposed to track you down if they grab you and release you with a pack in Canada or something?"
Dean ignored him and kept pawing at the door.
Sam pushed him back.
It happened faster than he could react. The timber wolf was a predator, with a predator's reflexes, and Sam didn't have time for more than a gasp before he found himself on his ass on the floor, blood welling from his arm where the wolf's wickedly sharp teeth had gone in deep.
Sam stared at it in shock. "Dean!"
The wolf glared back at him for a few seconds, teeth bared in a menacing snarl. Then it seemed to come to its senses. It looked from Sam's face to the arm he was cradling to his chest. Its tail drooped sadly.
Sam had to force himself not to flinch when the wolf took a step towards him.
And then it was whining and nuzzling his shoulder apologetically, pausing to nose at his injured arm. Sam tried to stay mad – Dean had freaking bitten him – but he really couldn't, not when Dean was acting like the future of the world depended on Sam not being mad.
"Go," he said with a sigh, opening the door and checking to see the coast was clear. "Make sure nobody sees you. Two minutes."
He went into the bathroom to clean up.
He emerged ten minutes later, shirt damp and arm no longer bleeding, to find the wolf standing exactly where he'd left it, tail still down. Sam was sure it hadn't been out of the room at all.
"I'm not mad," he told it. "You're not used to being a wolf, I know that. It was an accident. It's OK."
The wolf padded up to him and nosed his hand before going back to the open door. The intent was unmistakeable.
Sam couldn't hold back a grin as he went to the door. "Come on, then. Maybe we can pretend you're my dog. I'll call you Rover."
The wolf's hackles rose as it growled.
Sam snickered. "What? You don't like Rover? How about Fido, then? Or Trusty?" The wolf growled louder. "Or, I know! Lassie! That's perfect. Come on, Lassie!"
He stepped outside, the wolf following with another threatening growl.
Sam laughed and rubbed its head. "Yeah, I know, it's not fair when you can't fight back. How about just Dean, then?"
A wet nose nudged his fingers in silent approval.
Sam waited while Dean disappeared behind a tree. When the wolf came back, it thrust its head into Sam's hand, making a throaty, happy noise when Sam dropped to one knee and petted it.
Sam felt a pang. Human Dean would never accept the signs of affection that wolf Dean seemed to crave. Not that Sam wanted to scratch his brother behind the ears – the thought made him wince – but it would be nice if Dean sometimes accepted Sam's concern without feeling like it made him weak to have his little brother worry about him.
The voice startled Sam out of his thoughts. He looked up to see a heavyset blond man wearing coveralls and a lumber jacket.
"Can I help you?" Sam asked, pulling Dean closer without thinking about it.
"Is that a wolf?"
"This is my dog," Sam lied as calmly as he could. "His name's Dean."
"Dog, huh? I've never seen a dog that looked like that."
"He's part wolf."
"Yeah? Which part? All of him?"
Sam glared. "You have a point?"
"Yeah," the man said, stepping forward. "We've had a lot of wolf attacks in town lately –"
"Dean's a dog. And he's gentle."
"Gentle?" the man snorted. "Have you seen the teeth on him?" His eyes flew to Sam's sleeve. "What happened to your arm?"
Sam cursed himself for not changing his shirt before coming outside.
"I took a fall when I was hiking yesterday."
"You don't seem to be hurt anywhere else. Must have been a pretty extraordinary fall to leave just the one injury." He seized Sam's arm and pushed up the sleeve. Sam tried to pull his arm away, but the man had his wrist in a surprisingly strong grip. He probed the wound on Sam's arm, fingers poking hard enough to start the blood oozing again. "So you took a fall. And what, rocks cut your arm in the shape of tooth marks?" The man glared at Dean. "Wolf bit you, didn't it?"
"Dean's a dog. And Dean would never hurt me."
"At you," Sam said coldly, finally succeeding in wrenching his arm free of the man's grasp. "He's very protective of me."
"Protective and gentle?" the man sneered as he backed off. "We'll just have to see about that." He stood looking down at Sam and Dean for a moment. "I'm going to stop you."
Sam stared after him for a moment before he felt himself slump. "He's probably going to complain to whoever handles animal control around here." His fingers found Dean's head. "But we can't leave town. Not until we figure out how to change you back."
Dean nuzzled his shoulder comfortingly.
"I'll deal with it," Sam promised. "I won't let them hurt you."
The phone call came half an hour later.
Sam was sitting back on his bed leafing through a book, the wolf lying next to him with its big, shaggy head resting on Sam's stomach.
He glanced at the number. It was unfamiliar.
He flicked the phone open.
"Is that Sam Winchester?" a woman's voice asked.
Sam frowned. "Depends on who's asking."
"I know your brother got turned into a wolf."
Sam sat straight up, dislodging Dean. "Who are you? What do you want?"
"I want to help you, Sam. You… You might not believe this, but I'm a psychic. I know you're a hunter. I've never met one of your kind before, but I've heard of you."
"Who are you?" Sam repeated, ignoring the questioning snout that was digging into his ribs.
"My name is Laurel. Sam, I can help. Bring him to me."
"How do I know this isn't a trap?"
"You have to trust me. Why would I want to hurt you? I've never even met you."
"That doesn't usually stop supernatural things from hurting people," Sam said dryly. "How do you know my name, anyway?"
"I told you, I'm psychic… And there was a little of your blood on Tony's cuff. It was enough for me to get a reading."
"The man who spoke to you earlier. You tried to persuade him Dean was a dog." Sam's breath caught, and she said hastily, "He won't do anything to you, Sam. I've promised him I'll take care of it and he trusts me. Don't go after him. Just bring your brother to me and let me look at him."
"Why should I trust you?"
"Because I think I know what's happening. Dean is the eighth victim of this spell –"
"I only found four."
"They didn't all make the papers. This isn't the kind of place where people talk about their business to outsiders, Sam. Please. You need me. And I need you. Nobody'll talk to you, and they will talk to me but I'm not exactly experienced at hunting the supernatural." She paused. "Sam, please. Not one person has successfully survived the spell so far. You have to trust me if you want to save your brother."
"Did he do that to you?" Laurel asked, eyes flickering uncertainly between Sam and the large grey animal next to him. "I mean... that." She made an unnecessary gesture in the direction of Sam's bloodied sleeve.
The wolf whimpered at that, nose, ears and tail drooping in abject apology.
Sam glared at her. "It's fine. It was just an accident."
"All right, I'm sorry," Laurel said quickly. "I just had to be sure he's not a danger to anyone."
Sam's eyes narrowed. If Laurel had been a little more experienced at what she did, or had known Sam a little better, she would have recognized the signs.
"Does he look like he's a danger to anyone?" Sam snapped. "He's fine!"
Almost as though on cue, the wolf put its head on Sam's knee. It sniffed at his hand, the huge predator looking ridiculously like an affectionate, loyal pet, and nuzzled the fingers Sam held out to it.
"I'm sorry," Laurel repeated. "It's just – like I told you over the phone, I've seen this spell before. Several times. I know how it works. You have to be careful, Sam. That isn't really your brother in there. I mean, it is, it's Dean, but he's not himself. He's dangerous."
"That's what Tony said."
"Tony's right. No, listen. I know he hasn't got the best bedside manner. Tony's strange – one of those people nobody really knows. But he's been here for a long time and he knows more than he lets on about what happens in town. If Tony says Dean's dangerous, then Dean's dangerous."
"What? Come on," Sam said in disbelief. "Look at him." He rubbed the wolf's head. It grunted happily and put more of its weight on Sam. "You're telling me there's anything other than Dean in here?" A pause, and then Sam added, "Anyway, if you've seen the spell before, can you reverse it? Do you know how?"
"I haven't found a way to do that yet. I'm hoping, with your help…" Laurel shook her head. "I'm sorry, and I know you won't be pleased with me for saying this, but I have to warn you that this spell has never had a happy ending."
"Yeah, so you said." Sam's fingers buried themselves, almost of their own volition, in the thick fur. "Dean's in danger?"
"Not Dean. Not yet. He could be, eventually, but you're in danger first." Laurel leaned forward in her chair, willing the young man to take her seriously. "I'm not quite sure exactly what causes it or who's doing it, but something about it – just listen to me, all right? Let me tell you everything I know, and then you can decide what you want to do." Sam nodded. "The spell – it's not Dean in the body of a wolf. Right now, Dean is a wolf. He's got all the instincts of a wolf. He's fast and strong."
"Yeah, I learnt that the hard way," Sam muttered. Then, when the wolf whined, "Hey, I was just yanking your chain, dude. We discussed this. It was an accident. No guilt allowed."
"Sam," Laurel said, "I'm serious. The people who transform – once they're wolves, they turn on everyone around them. Doesn't matter how close they were as humans – in fact, the closer they were as humans, the more viciously the wolves attack. What Dean did to you is just a taste of what could happen if he loses control again."
Sam rolled his eyes and gave the wolf his hand to lick. "Yeah, he's being really vicious right now."
"I admit I've never seen one of them this tame after the spell's taken effect – but we'll get to that. The way it usually works is that the wolves turn on the people close to them. It gets progressively worse, and it doesn't stop until the animal is put down or... or it manages to kill someone. Usually the person it was closest to as a human, because that's the person trying desperately to get through to it." She glared pointedly at Sam, who rubbing under the wolf's chin. "If the wolf does make a kill, it turns back into a human. And... Well, usually ends up being unable to live with the guilt."
"But we can find a way to reverse the spell?" Sam asked, tugging the animal close to his chest.
It pushed its nose into his ribs. Laurel winced, but it only nuzzled his sternum and slobbered on his shirt before settling down with its head on Sam's knee again.
"Dude, gross. Keep that up and you're doing the laundry for the rest of the year." He looked at Laurel. "Well? Can we?"
"We can try," she said. "And until then, you –"
"I know." Sam shoved the wolf off him and got up. "We'll be careful. What do you want me to do?"
"Research. Let me talk to the townspeople. They know me. They'll respond to me. You – well, you can't take Dean to the library, and I don't recommend leaving him alone. Stay in your motel room, don't let him out. And, Sam – this is important – don't let him hurt you."
"Dean's not going to –"
"Humour me. Look, I'm not saying you have to keep him chained to the window bars, but be wary, and if you do need to muzzle him or shut him in the bathroom to keep him from attacking you, do it."
"You're insane. I'm not going to muzzle my brother."
"Don't you think he'd rather you did that now than wake up tomorrow morning to discover your blood on his hands?"
"Dean won't hurt me."
She sighed. "At least promise me you'll be careful."
"It's OK, dude," Sam soothed, looking up from his laptop. "You didn't hurt me." The huge timberwolf whined and nosed at his arm. Sam rolled his eyes. "Let it go, Dean. It was just a scratch. You can't even tell where it is anymore. See?" He put down the laptop, pushed back his sleeve and held out his arm. "And you're not a werewolf, so it's not like you've infected me or anything. We just need to figure out how to undo it."
The wolf whined again, damp snout pushing against Sam's jaw.
"Dude, get off me!" Sam protested, shoving the animal away.
He realized his mistake a moment too late, when the wolf whimpered and hunkered down as though he'd kicked it. He sighed, reminding himself that Dean wasn't really himself and he'd probably taken the gesture as a sign that Sam didn't trust him.
"Don't be a jerk," he said. "You know that's not what I meant."
The wolf didn't look comforted, so Sam reached out, buried his fingers in the thick fur around its neck, and tugged its head up so that they were almost nose-to-nose.
"Hey. I trust you, OK?" The wolf whined again, trying to nose at Sam's sleeve. Sam shook his head and released it. "Fine, do what you want. But if you drool on my clothes, you're doing the laundry."
The wolf snarled at that, lips drawing back, teeth bared.
Sam just looked at it, no more perturbed by the belligerence than he normally was when Dean threatened to feed him to a wendigo.
The wolf snarled louder.
Sam made a shushing noise. "Dean, shut up." He rubbed the wolf's muzzle. "You'll wake the neighbours and they don't allow pets in this place. Even passing you off as Lassie won't work."
He snatched his hand back just in time to evade snapping teeth.
The wolf immediately looked remorseful. Before it could back away, Sam brought his other hand up to grip it behind the head. "Hey. Stay. It's good." He reached behind him with his free hand, found the bag of doughnuts he'd bought that morning – God, only that morning Dean had been Dean and he hadn't been worrying about what you were supposed to feed a timber wolf.
Sam found the bag, grabbed a doughnut, and held it out in his palm.
"I'm sure this is bad for you, but it's not like you're going to be a wolf much longer."
The wolf seized it and swallowed it in a single gulp.
Sam made a face. "Well, at least your table manners haven't really changed."
The wolf turned to him with an expression that could only be described as a grin. It nuzzled Sam's jaw for the briefest of moments before stepping onto Sam's legs – seriously, onto him like he was a freaking wolf bed or something – turned around twice, and plonked itself down.
On Sam's legs.
"Dude!" Sam protested again. Then, when the wolf looked at him with a sleepily puzzled expression, he said, "Never mind. Come here." He reached out and tugged it close enough for him to wrap his arms around it. "Always wanted a dog. Might as well make the best of this."
The wolf growled, low in its throat. Then it buried its nose in the crook of Sam's elbow and went to sleep.
Sam woke to find himself curled over his laptop. He wasn't quite sure when he'd fallen asleep.
The wolf was on its feet, standing protectively between him and the door with its hackles raised. He could see the night sky through the window – he hadn't been asleep long.
"Dean?" he asked drowsily. "What's wrong, man?"
There was a sharp rap at the door. Dean growled.
"Hey, take it easy," Sam murmured, pushing himself up and rubbing its head. "I'll take care of it, OK? No one's going to hurt you." The wolf gave him a flat look. Sam snorted. "Yeah, no one's going to hurt me, either."
He opened the door a crack and peered through.
It was Laurel.
"Sam," she said urgently, "you have to go. Now! Go into the woods and stay there till I come for you."
"Tony. He – I'm so sorry. I never imagined he'd do something like this. He told the sheriff about your 'pet wolf' and that he thinks Dean is behind the killings. They're on their way."
Sam stiffened. "We'll get out of the county."
The wolf licked his fingers.
"Don't do that," Laurel protested. "Dean might be stuck like this forever – and regardless of what you think or how much you think he cares about you, he will turn on you eventually. Did you find anything in your books?"
"Just the one thing, and I'm not entirely sure it wasn't apocryphal."
"Tell me. Quickly."
"It said there's a specific kind of shape shifter – the effect is sort of like a vampire, but in reverse. Settle down, Dean, you're not a vampire. The shifter – well, it doesn't really cast a spell, but it picks its victims and turns them into an animal – usually something dangerous. It picks a town, lays a curse, and then moves on, long gone before any hunter can make the connection and turn up to get rid of it."
"And the curse – or whatever it is – is broken when the victim kills someone of his or her bloodline?" Laurel demanded.
"I couldn't find too many cases – just two where the story went that far, and in those, yeah." Sam buried his hand in Dean's fur. "Once it was a wildcat and it turned on its aunt. The second was a wolf – killed its own son." Dean whined. "But Dean hasn't done anything to me."
"He can't fight it forever." Laurel hesitated. "I thought it must be something like that. You have to hurry. We'll think of something. You and Dean need to get away first – here." She thrust a map into Sam's hands. "I've marked out a route. It'll take you to my grandfather's cabin. You'll be safe there for a few hours. I'll stall them and come after you as soon as I can. Wait for me, and don't do anything stupid."
The wolf seemed broody all the way up to the cabin. It lay silently in the front seat, head resting limply on Sam's knee, occasionally whining and nosing at Sam's ribs as though it needed to make sure his heart was still beating.
When Sam pulled up outside the cabin, Dean was out of the car almost before Sam got the door open, clearly intent on scouting ahead and eliminating any potential threats before they got near his baby brother.
He hadn't even reached the cabin door when he stopped with a sharp yelp.
"Dean!" Sam hurried to his brother, noting with alarm that Dean was holding one paw up off the ground. The wolf looked at him and whined. "Dean! What happened?" He dropped to his knees in front of his brother. "Dean?"
The paw was held out to him.
Sam took it, turned it over carefully, and saw that a large thorn had found its way into the soft part of the pad.
He hissed in sympathy. "That has to hurt… I guess that's why we wear boots. And you're not used to walking on these." Dean whimpered. "Hey, shhh. I've got it. Don't worry." He pulled the thorn out carefully. Blood welled out after it. The whimpering intensified when he cleaned the paw. "I know," Sam soothed. "I know, it's OK. We're almost done."
He grabbed a bandage from the first-aid kit.
"There you go," he said, wrapping it around Dean's paw. "Try to keep your weight off it, OK? And be careful where you put your feet!" Dean whined softly. "Let me know if it starts to hurt too much." When Dean's tail stayed down, Sam added, "You know, even Lassie didn't get thorns in her paws."
Sharp teeth snapped harmlessly an inch from his face. Sam laughed, rubbed the wolf's head, let it nuzzle his jaw, and got to his feet.
The cabin was small, but surprisingly well-stocked. Laurel clearly came here often. Sam was relieved; he'd bought Dean another two steaks after they left Laurel's in the morning, but Dean's appetite had only increased in wolf form and Sam was sure that in a couple of hours he was going to be thawing out a couple of the chickens in the freezer for his brother.
He himself wasn't hungry, couldn't think of eating. He'd had a small salad for lunch, mainly because Dean had stood over his steak, slavering and clearly hungry but refusing to dig in until Sam nipped to the diner across the street and got himself a box of takeaway.
Dean was a blackmailer.
Dean waited patiently for Sam to stoke the fire and sit on the couch before he climbed up next to him, sitting between Sam and the door and nosing Sam's ear reassuringly. How the hell was Sam supposed to stay mad at him?
Laurel arrived half an hour later.
"You really shouldn't," she said as soon as she saw them. "Put a muzzle on him, at least, Sam. Just until we've figured this out."
Sam sighed. "We've been through this. I'm not putting a muzzle on my brother. He's fine."
To prove his point, he stuck his right hand into Dean's mouth. Dean pulled back like he'd been given an electric shock, snarled warningly at Sam, and sniffed his fingers to make sure he hadn't accidentally bitten any.
"See?" Sam said smugly.
"What would you do if it were someone else, Sam? If you were in my place and someone else was sitting there refusing to take basic precautions because they trusted that their brother wouldn't turn on them?"
"You said yourself that you've never seen any of the victims stay this tame," Sam pointed out. "Anyway, what do we do now?"
Sam and Laurel went over every detail of the cases they could find for hours. Dean seemed to be trying to follow the conversation at first, but it wasn't long before he fell asleep.
Even slumbering, he managed to be a solid, reassuring presence pressed close to Sam's side.
However hard Sam looked for answers, everything came back to the same point: the wolf had to kill a blood relative to break the spell. Sam briefly considered calling one of the doctors they knew who handled special cases and getting Dean to find a way to choke him with the doctor on hand to administer CPR. But he knew his brother would never go for it, and he'd probably never forgive Sam if he suggested it.
It was nearing morning when someone hammered on the door.
Dean was awake and growling in an instant. Sam put a comforting hand on his head, feeling the wolf push at his leg as Laurel went to the door.
The next few minutes passed in a blur for Sam. There was someone – Tony – leaping into the room, snarling something about ending the menace, shoving Laurel into the wall. Sam would have checked on her, but suddenly there was also a shotgun, a shotgun pointed at Dean, and Sam had to deal with the threat to his brother before anything else.
He and Tony ended up on the floor, the gun skittering out of reach.
And then Tony made his biggest mistake of the evening. He managed to flip Sam over and slammed the young hunter's arm into the ground, reopening the wound.
The wolf's nose twitched. Before Sam had even realized he was bleeding, there was a low, feral growl, and one hundred and fifty pounds of furious predator slammed into Tony, shoving him violently off Sam. The force of the wolf's leap carried it forward, but it spun around for a second attack.
The second jump resulted in Tony's head hitting the floor with a thump that made Sam wince in sympathy.
Again, the wolf's momentum took it a few steps past the man; again, Dean turned around to attack.
Sam suddenly knew what was going to happen. He recognized that murderous gleam in the wolf's eyes, the gleam that had Laurel cowering against the wall. It had nothing to do with being an animal and everything to do with a big brother who'd just seen somebody spill his little brother's blood and intended to wreak hell on the perpetrator.
Dean was getting ready to go for the jugular.
"Dean, no!" Sam hastily put himself between wolf and man again. "Don't. He's human."
The wolf snarled.
The wolf snarled louder.
And then Sam realized it was edging around him to get a clear line to jump at Tony, who hadn't moved or done anything other than moan since his head had hit the floor.
Clearly reason wasn't going to work, not now that Dean had gone into Protect Sammy mode.
So Sam did the only thing he could think of.
He got closer to Tony, met Dean's eyes, and said softly, "I'm not going to fight you. I'm not, but you'll have to take me down first. He might be a jerk, but he's a civilian." He thrust out his lower lip a fraction, widened his eyes, and said, "Please, Dean."
The wolf stared at him with what could only be described as incredulity.
Ten minutes later, Sam was holding the passenger door of the Impala open for Dean. They'd left Tony tied to a chair, but someone might come looking for him anytime, and they couldn't afford to be hanging around when that happened.
Sam extracted a promise from Laurel to keep looking, promised in turn to call her as soon as he and Dean crossed the county line, and slid into the driver's seat.
It was hours before Sam stopped, before he dared to stop, exhaustion forcing him to pull the Impala off the road onto a broad dirt path.
Dean, who'd been sleeping with his head resting on Sam's denim-clad thigh, raised his head.
"I'm sorry," Sam whispered. "I don't know what to do, Dean."
Dean whined and sat up.
"I don't – we could try what she said." He glanced at Dean. "Maybe you don't have to kill me. Maybe if you just, I don't know, come really close –" Dean cut him off with a fierce snarl. Sam sighed. "Yeah, I didn't think you'd go for that. But, Dean… What do we do?"
A wet nose nudged Sam's hand. Sam couldn't even muster up the energy to snark about it.
Dean growled, low in his throat. The sound was soothing, and Sam found himself relaxing. He relaxed more when Dean playfully and very gently nipped at his jaw, sharp teeth not leaving a mark.
Sam wrapped his arms around his brother, letting his exhaustion carry him off to sleep.
They'd deal with it in the morning.
Dean was the first to wake up.
His head had been remarkably clear for the past day or so. It was weird, when he stopped to think about it – he would've assumed that being turned into an animal would muddle his emotions. Instead everything seemed to make a lot more sense. The important things – food, safety, Sammy – took up most of his consciousness, and everything else faded to background noise.
He snuggled against Sam's chest. Human Dean wouldn't, but Dean had seen enough animal documentaries (not his fault; Sam was the one who'd wanted to watch baby fawns on TV all the time as a kid) to know that it was normal for a wolf.
Sam had been remarkably unfazed by everything that had happened.
Dean sighed happily, fingers curling in Sam's shirt.
Dean was suddenly aware that he was human, naked and huddling in his brother's arms. While not hypothermic, sick or dying.
He backed off with a muffled yell, which turned into a curse when the door handle hit the small of his back. That was going to leave a bruise.
The noise woke Sam.
Sam, still in hunting mode, came to full alertness in seconds. When he saw Dean, he yelped – there was literally no other word to describe the noise he made – shut his eyes, and covered them with both hands.
"Dean, what the hell?" he squeaked.
"I think I'm the one who should be saying that," Dean pointed out, grabbing a blanket from the back seat and covering himself with it. "You can open your eyes now, Sam. Incidentally, I got turned back into a human."
Sam snorted and didn't open his eyes. "I noticed. Why are you naked?"
"Wolves don't wear clothes."
"As you just pointed out, you're no longer a wolf."
"Humans need their bitchy little brothers to open their eyes and go get their clothes from the trunk."
"What? No. Get your own freaking clothes, you freak."
"As you just pointed out, Matlock, I'm naked."
"You took the blanket. Cover yourself in that and go."
Dean sighed. Curse little brothers and their preternatural hearing. "Come on, Sam. I can't get out of the car dressed in a blanket. What if a hot chick comes by and sees me?"
"Really? That's your main concern right now?"
"Please. I need my jacket." Dean paused. "Sammy, I'm cold."
Sam's shoulders slumped and Dean grinned. Little brothers were just so easy –
And then Sam, eyes still tightly shut, shrugged out of his jacket and pushed it in Dean's direction. "Now go."
"Dude," Dean huffed. "You can open your eyes. I'm covered."
"I'm already traumatized. I'd rather not risk it."
"I need my clothes, Sam. I can't sit in the car in a blanket and your jacket."
"Then go get your clothes."
"I can't get out in a blanket and your jacket."
"You can't do anything useful."
"Come on, Sam," Dean wheedled. "Get them for me. I'll let you drive for a week."
"Two weeks," Sam said.
"Fine. Two weeks."
"And driver picks the music."
"You know that rule only applies when I'm the driver, at other times the rule is –"
"Driver picks the music," Sam insisted, eyes still shut. "Or you're getting out, blanket or no blanket, and fetching your own clothes."
"Fine," Dean muttered in exasperation. "Bitch."
Sam, eyes still squeezed closed, opened the door and slid out. Not bothering to shut it behind him, he felt his way to the trunk and opened it. He was back in a few seconds, blindly thrusting a pair of jeans and a shirt through the open door. Dean grabbed them. Sam moved away, turned his back to the car and pulled out his cell phone.
By the time Dean managed the difficult task of wriggling into his clothes in the Impala's front seat, Sam was hanging up. He glanced cautiously over his shoulder. Seeing that Dean was dressed, he turned around, came back, and slid into the driver's seat again.
"How much do you remember?"
"All of it," Dean said. "Was that Laurel?"
Sam nodded. "She said – she lied to us. Well, she lied by omission. But she said she had to do it." Sam glanced at Dean and then at the steering wheel, cheeks tingeing red with embarrassment. "There was another way to break the spell that she didn't tell us about, because if we'd known it wouldn't have worked."
"Yeah? What's that?"
"I…" Sam's flush deepened. "You had to hold off from killing me for twenty-four hours. Which, you would think it wouldn't be difficult to manage, but apparently this is the first time it's happened. And I had to trust you… completely." He peeked at Dean and quickly looked away. "That's why she kept telling me to muzzle you. So… so it would be clear I trusted you."
"So the spell broke because I didn't hurt you and you trusted me?" Dean smirked. "Dude. Only you would manage to break a witch's spell with a chick-flick moment." Then, when Sam blinked rapidly, "Come on, moron."
"I had no idea," Sam mumbled. "I… God, Dean. That was too close." He shook his head. "Anyway… Laurel said that should end the curse for good so we don't have to do anything about it." He hesitated. "She told me the history, if you're interested."
"No," Dean grunted. "Somebody killed a wolf in 1950, wolf killed somebody in 1950, shifter passed through and left a legacy, I don't care. Not our job anyway. This was supposed to be our down time. Freaking curse." He leaned back. "Drive, Sam."
Sam grinned. "Hey, Dean," he said, turning the key, "I think I want to listen to country music. For the next two weeks, country music."
"Shut up and drive, Sam."
"Or maybe that Celtic stuff, you know. How about that? I could alternate, change it every hour so we don't get bored."
"Spell's broken, right, Sam? There's nothing to stop me killing you now?"
Sam huffed. "Well, if my big brother whom I've always trusted more than anyone in the world is going to –"
"Shut up and freaking drive, Sam!"
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