It took more than a week to gather all the spell ingredients. Some of them were easy. Nutmeg and coriander were in Uncle Bobby’s spice rack. Fluxweed and jewelweed grew in the herb garden in the backyard. Dog hair came easy, too. Uncle Bobby’s rottweiler Tadashi had barely noticed when Sam plucked out a tuft of fur since he was busy chewing on the dried pig ear Sam had given him. Several other ingredients were picked up in a local new age shop for good prices since the store’s owner didn’t actually know they were used for real magic spells.
Other ingredients were more difficult. Phoenix tears and skinwalker sweat were expensive, and he’d had to save up several months of allowance to purchase. A flawless piece of amber big enough to focus the power he needed had to be imported from Greece, and that had taken every cent he’d saved from his paper route job for the last year. Ordering them and having them delivered without getting caught was a challenge.
He really didn’t want Uncle Bobby, or even worse, his parents asking him what he needed the stuff for. If they found out he’d been sneaking into the magic books he wasn’t even supposed think about, he’d be grounded until his second year of college.
Seeing as how Sam Winchester had just started his first year in Jr High, that was saying a lot.
Like, he’d be a dead kid if he got caught.
But the magic books were so fascinating. He just couldn’t help sneaking into them.
From the outside, Sam looked like the better behaved of the two Winchester boys. He always got good grades, and he was always willing to work hard. He was responsible, and polite. Unlike his brother Dean, who cared little for school, was always sneaking out to visit girls, and only worked hard if it was on the Chevy Impala he was restoring for when he turned 16 and got his driver’s license.
In truth, Sam was more of a rebel than Dean ever would be. If mom and dad gave an order, Dean followed it like the good little soldier their dad expected him to be. Sam, though, questioned everything. And when he was told to stay out of the magic books, he immediately wanted to know why.
The first time he’d snuck into Uncle Bobby’s library and picked the lock on the cabinet where the books where stored, he’d discovered that just sneaking one into his room would do him little good. He’d had to learn some old languages in order to even read them. Latin had been easy, Greek a little harder. One of the books was in Japanese, and he hadn’t even tried.
Luckily, when he checked out language books from the library everyone just thought he was being a book worm and a diligent student. No one suspected why he wanted to learn ancient languages. It also helped that he was smart enough to pick the languages up quickly.
The book he currently had open on the floor of his bedroom was in ancient Greek. He’d painstakingly translated the spell into English, and he had his notebook sitting in his lap as he mixed the spell ingredients together. He kept glancing down at the original book as he read the spell out loud.
There was a croak from the frog sitting docily in the center of the spell symbols he had scrawled on the hardwood floor with white chalk, and Sam cast an irritated glance at it. He hoped that when he transformed it into a dog, that it wasn’t a yappy dog. He went back to reading the incantation, concentrating carefully on pronouncing each word.
Just as he was speaking the last word, the door opened and his brother Dean stuck his head through the opening. “Hey Sammy, I was gonna make some pizza, did you-”
Sam, startled by the interruption since he’d thought he was home alone, yelped and jerked, kicking over the potion he’d so meticulously mixed. It spread across the wood floor in a noxious puddle.
“Dammit, Dean!” Sam snarled. “How many times do I have to tell you to knock first?” He bit his lip as he watched the efforts of months of work go to complete waste.
“It’s not like you were jerking off,” Dean groused. His green eyes narrowed suspiciously when they landed on the markings on the floor and the puddle of strangely colored liquid. “Um, Sammy? What the hell are you doing?”
Slamming the spell book closed, and shoving it behind him, Sam did his best to look innocent. “Uh… studying.” He picked up the Greek to English dictionary and his notebook full of translations, waving them slightly to bring Dean’s attention to them.
Dean frowned and stepped further into the room. He came to a stop just inside the circle of symbols and bent down to pick up the frog. He held it up in front of his face, wrinkling his nose at it. “When did you get a frog?”
“I found it in the garden,” Sam mumbled. Carefully he reached back and slid the spell book under his bed while Dean wasn’t paying attention.
“Huh,” Dean grunted. He lowered the frog and squinted down at Sam, making him squirm. He liked to cultivate the idea that he wasn’t very smart, but the truth was that he was sharp as a scalpel, and at 15 almost as lethal after years of training with their parents. Sam had to concentrate on keeping his expression calm under Dean’s thoughtful scrutiny. “And what the hell is all this, then?”
Dean wiggled his toes where they rested over the chalked symbols. Sam dropped his attention to his brother’s bare feet. His eyes widened as the puddle of liquid moved as if sentient. He opened his mouth to shout a warning, but before he could do more than inhale, the liquid brushed against Dean’s pinky toe.
There was a quite whuff sound, and Sam flinched. In the space of time it took for him to blink, Dean had transformed.
Into a chihuahua.
Sam stared down at the little dog. It stared back up at him with green eyes that bugged out slightly. He looked like he was in shock, completely frozen, mouth open enough to show his sharp, tiny teeth.
They both reacted at the same time.
Sam’s mouth dropped open again when he realized that his brother had just barked at him. Then it hit him that his tough older brother was now in the body of the least threatening dog breed on the planet, and he threw his head back and began to laugh. And when Dean started yapping at him angrily, Sam only laughed harder. It was slightly hysterical and definitely powered by panic.
His parents were going to kill him.
Dean kept barking, and Sam struggled to calm down. He could practically hear Dean’s words, bitching him out, threatening to kick his ass to the ocean and back. Sam was fairly certain that if his parents didn’t kill him, Dean would at the very least maim him.
Covering his face, Sam sucked in several deep breaths in an attempt to calm himself down. Dean settled after a moment, although his small body rumbled with a growl every now and then while he waited for Sam to come back to himself. Once he had a handle on his hysteria, Sam dropped his hands and looked at his brother again. “God, Dean, you have really shitty timing, you know?”
Dean yipped, and his giant eyes narrowed angrily. Not my fault, Sammy.
Sam jumped slightly when his brother’s voice echoed in his mind. He leaned forward and plucked Dean up from the floor, holding him close so their noses almost touched. “What did you just say?”
Put me the fuck down!
Sam’s eyes widened in surprise. “I can hear you in my head!”
Dean had been wiggling in an effort to get out of Sam’s hands, but he froze and his head jerked up so he could look him in the eyes. Say what?
“Apparently you can still communicate,” Sam said thoughtfully. He grinned. “That’s pretty cool.”
Yeah, it’s friggin’ great. But I’m more worried about the fact that I’m a dog. Dean’s thoughts clearly carried an angry snarl, but in emphasis his lips peel back to show his teeth again and he growled threateningly at Sam.
Sam started guiltily. “Yeah… yeah, let’s get you back to normal.” He set Dean down and twisted to pull the spell book out from under the bed. He settled it on his knees and flipped it open. “There’s gotta be a counterspell or a cure in here somewhere….”
He’d learned enough Greek that he sort of understood the gist of each page, but he did have to dig out his Greek to English dictionary to a few times. It took him about an hour but he found what looked like the right spell to reverse the transformation.
Luckily it took less ingredients than the original spell, and he knew that all of them were in the house. Dean, bored because he couldn’t help, hopped up on Sam’s bed and curled up on the pillow while Sam rushed around the house gathering what he needed.
After another hour, he had everything set up. He had Dean stand in the center of a newly drawn symbol and began to chant. The words still felt unwieldy on his tongue and he spoke them slowly to make sure he had the inflection right. Once the incantation was finished, he poured the potion over Dean’s head, biting his lip to keep from laughing as Dean’s ears drooped under the stream.
They both waited with bated breath.
Is that it? Dean quirked one ear up and eyed Sam curiously. Nothing is happening.
Before Sam could answer, there was a soft whuff and a flash of light. Sam blinked against the afterimage burned into his retinas for a moment. When his vision cleared he didn’t know whether he should laugh again, or cry.
Instead of a chihuahua, Dean was now a spider monkey.
What. The. FUCK. SAM??
“I’m sorry!” Sam yelped. “I must have pronounced something wrong!”
He scrambled for his dictionary and compared it to the incantation again. After a few moments, he was sure he knew what he’d done wrong and he tried again. He didn’t have any more of the potion, but Dean was still damp from the first casting so Sam recited the spell again.
This time Sam had closed his eyes in preparation for the light so he didn’t need to wait for his vision to clear. Now instead of a spider monkey, Dean was a tiny, fluffy, extremely angry barn owl.
You are dead. So dead.
“One more try!”
One more try turned into five more tries. Each time, Dean transformed, but never into a human. Goat, snake, bob cat, pigeon, and finally a red fox.
That’s enough, Dean growled irritably. Obviously this isn’t working. We’re going to need Uncle Bobby’s help.
Sam groaned. Dean was right. He was so dead.
They had to wait for Bobby to get home. He’d gone to the Sheriff’s office on the excuse that he needed to help Jody with a possible salt and burn, but the boys had known by the way he’d dressed a little nicer, combed his hair, and left his trucker hat behind that it was actually a date. So they weren’t surprised when Bobby came home late, near midnight. They were both relieved that he hadn’t decided to spend the night though. Sam, because the longer he had to wait to confess what he’d done, the more anxious he became. And Dean because he was a freaking fox.
To Sam’s relief, Bobby didn’t explode angrily when he explained what he’d done. Instead he just sighed, ran his fingers through his thinning hair, and grumbled a soft “idjits” under his breath.
Hey, don’t lump me in with Sam on this one, Dean protested. I’m the victim, here!
Bobby didn’t react, and that’s when Sam and Dean learned that no one else could hear Dean speaking.
What the hell? Dean grumbled. How come only you can hear me?
“Maybe it’s because I cast the spell,” Sam answered.
“What’s that, boy?” Bobby said as he started pulling books out of the shelves that might have the right spell to reverse the transformation.
Tell him he’s going bald. Dean’s tone was actually tinged with humor for the first time since this whole thing started.
“I’m not going to tell him that!” Sam yelped. Bobby grunted at him, and Sam turned his attention back to his uncle. “It’s Dean. I can hear him talking in my head, but apparently you can’t?”
Bobby grunted, his expression going thoughtful. Then he set aside the book he’d been flipping through and pulled out another one. “Probably because you're the one that cursed him,” he cast a glance at Dean that almost looked amused. “And if that’s the case, you may be able to control him. Maybe for once, we can get him to eat some vegetables.”
This isn’t funny! Dean’s words were accompanied by a huff and an ear twitch.
Sam clapped a hand over his mouth to stifle a laugh. Dean was right, the situation really wasn’t funny. But the fact that he could see his brother’s familiar expressions despite the fact that he was no longer human was kind of hilarious. He took a deep breath and cleared his throat and made an effort to smooth out his expression before he lowered his hand. “I know, Dean. But don’t worry, we’ll figure this out.”
“I’m going to need the book you were using,” Bobby grumbled, and Sam ran upstairs to fetch it.
There was little for Dean to do, but wait. He could be of no use in the research because without hands, Dean couldn’t flip pages on the books. For a fleeting moment he panicked when the thought crossed his mind that he might not be able to read in this form. Foxes couldn’t read, right? And his vision was different, nothing like how he could see when human. Would he be able to interpret the symbols that made up words?
He only managed to calm down when he looked at the spines of books on the lowest bookshelves and was able to clearly understand the titles. He sighed in relief but it came out as a weird whine that he immediately cut off. He scoffed at himself and it came out as a squeaky yip sound. And that just pissed him off, because really?
Instead of the curse that he’d tried to mutter, a low growl rumbled through him.
“Quit yer bitchin’, boy,” Bobby grumbled from his desk. He didn’t even look up from the tome he was studying. “We’re workin’ on it.”
This time Dean’s growl was deliberate and accompanied by an annoyed bark. A high-pitched, yippy bark. He huffed through his nose in irritation. Foxes were supposed to be predators, sneaky little hunters. But he sounded disgustingly cute, and he was decidedly not okay with that.
He kinda wished he could go back to being an owl. At least then he could threaten Sam with his claws every time he looked at Dean like he wanted to scratch him behind the ears. Seriously, that kid really needed a pet.
How much longer do you think this is going to take? It had only taken a moment to realize that Sam had heard his freaked out thoughts if Dean directed them at him. He’s glad he figured that out quick, because any time he tried to speak with his mouth, only animal sounds came out.
“Just like I told you five minutes ago,” Sam grumbled. “I don’t know. Now stop interrupting me. I’m trying to concentrate.” He hadn’t even looked up from his book either.
Dean resisted the urge to growl again. Fine, dude. But I can’t just sit here. I’m going crazy!
Sam finally looked up, and his big dark eyes were wide with pity. “I’m sorry, Dean-”
Can it, kiddo. I get it. Dean tried to grumble, and winced when it came out as a high pitched trilling noise instead. At least it sounded as irritated as he felt. I’m gonna just… go do something.
He got up and left, ignoring Sam’s protests. He wouldn’t go far. He just had to get the hell out of the library.
Walking on four legs was… odd, but not uncomfortable. Uncle Bobby’s house sure did look strange from a foot above the floor though. Everything looked huge, and with his strangely distorted vision he couldn’t really see things until he was up close to them. Colors were washed out as well.
And his hearing! Man, he could hear all kinds of things. Even though he had wandered clear to the other side of the house, Sam and Bobby’s soft voices still reached him. He could hear the faint rattle of pipes in the walls, and the distant sound of a truck passing on the highway which was normally something he never would have noticed.
His nose also prickled with extra sensation. He felt constantly on the edge of sneezing, and he wondered if he would ever get used to the heightened sense of smell. Then he let out a whine at the thought that he’d be stuck in this fox body long enough to get used to it.
Not having hands sucked ass, since he couldn’t open doors for himself. But he let himself out of the house through Tadashi’s dog door. The rotty was nowhere to be seen which was a good thing because in hindsight, Dean realized that the big dog might decide he’d make a fun chew toy. But Dean was feeling a little depressed, so he curled up on the back porch, fluffy tale draping over his nose. He’d have to trust his new senses to tell him if Tadashi was coming, and hope that he could find a good hiding spot before the rotty caught him.
Tadashi never showed up, and Dean eventually dozed off to the sound of crickets and the slow, mesmerizing blink of fireflies in the weeds around the house. He dreamed of running. Not from anything, but after something. Some small, tasty smelling creature that would crunch between his teeth and fill his belly.
When the door behind him opened, Dean woke with a start, and it took a moment to brush away the strands of the dream to realize that Sam was talking to him.
“We got something, Dean.” Sam wouldn't look at him directly, and he did not sound as excited as he should have if he’d actually found a cure.
Dean narrowed his eyes. Are you sure?
Sam squirmed, but finally looked down and met his eyes. “We’re pretty sure.”
Dean didn’t like the sound of that. He’d already gotten a taste of a spell gone wrong, and he wasn't exactly thrilled to be the target for another experimental spell. Sammy…
“Come on, Dean. We gotta at least try this. It’s the best solution we could find.”
What the hell do you mean by that?
“Uncle Bobby will explain.”
A soft churring sigh escaped Dean and he nodded. Sam smiled in relief and turned to lead him inside. Dean followed, head down and tail drooping low.
Man, he really hoped this worked…