|Light of Day, Dark of Moon
Dean & Sam, Gen, All Audiences, AU.
Notes: I'm sure I'm not the first one to think of this scenario, but I haven't read it, I don't think, and yet the idea lodged in my brain. (And no, I did not watch the movie again and hence be inspired, but I have seen it.) Additional Notes at end of story.
and also, eh hem, this wasn't on the poll. It came up while I was thinking about the False Comforts stuffer.
The characters and situations
portrayed here are not mine, they belong to the WB. This is a fan authored
work and no profit is being made. Please do not link to this story without
appropriate warnings. Please do not archive this story without my permission.
Dean tries to pick motels now for Sam's comfort. Granted, out in the middle of nowhere it's hard to always find places that have wireless, but a dial up works too. Sam prefers windows that face east, and he'd rather not be in the middle of town if they can help it. That makes finding a motel with wireless a bit more of a challenge but Dean understands it. There's money in his wallet for phone cards, for extras. Dean's both embarrassed and proud that Sam's gotten so good at hustling for money. He knows he contributes, but it's not the same and he misses the smell of pool halls and back room poker games. He can find games, but there's nothing like taking on a challenger with a few beers under his belt to raise the stakes higher, and those are more likely to come out at night.
Sam still hates them but he does what he has to so Dean's not going to bitch about it -- not out loud anyway. There's a grocery store on the edge of town that advertises fresh ground meat and Dean stops and splurges a little. He checks out the likely pool halls and then settles in the hotel room with the laptop and the notes Sam had made the night before. It's solstice. It will be a long night and he doesn't want Sam to have to spend all of it hunting down the right cemetery or grave to put away the ghost that's terrorizing the local high school. It was a relatively easy job to settle. Tragic as the death of the teenager was, and maybe even deserving of haunting as his former classmates were, it's been ten years and all his tormentors are gone, graduated. Now it's just an angry spirit feeding off fear.
Sam has to do all the digging now. Dean can help some but he can't handle the shovels and even he knows he gives more moral support than actual assistance.
It's not even four o'clock when he starts laying out Sam's clothes, lays the strips of raw meat on a paper plate -- Sam's still kind of picky about his food but they've been on the road most of the day and Dean doubts he's had time to find anything to eat. Lastly, he lays out a couple of articles for Sam to check more thoroughly. He'll have time to call some of the west coast contacts, see if they can get a lead on reversing the curse, picking up the trail of the sorceress who did this to them. They've followed a half dozen leads with no success but she's still out there somewhere.
The open door of the motel room faces east and beyond it, across the road is an undeveloped area. Dean lets loose a sharp whistle, knowing Sam won't have gone far. He never does despite his fears. Even a year into this thing, Sam's still not too sure or happy about the whole flying thing, and he worries that he'll just leave. He thinks too much, Dean's told him, and he still finds it kind of funny that Sam's glares haven't changed at all. At the same time, he tries not to let his own anxiety that Sam might be right color his actions or his words. The situation is stressful enough and Sam's already suggested some pretty extreme solutions to minimize the risk of them being permanently separated.
The fact that Sam is willing to go to such extremes reassures Dean more than anything else could.
He whistles again but even before he finishes, he catches a glimpse of him, grey and graceful, across the road. Sam hesitates in the lower branch of a tree, checking the road before launching himself across it.
Dean has to brace himself. Sam doesn't weigh all that much like this but those wings are pretty powerful and if he's nervous he grips too hard. If they've had a bad day, Dean's learned to wrap a towel around his forearm over his shirt. But today's been pretty quiet and Sam settles on his arm easily.
They don't have to do it this way. Sam's perfectly capable of getting into the room on his own, but this looks less strange than if someone happened to catch sight of an owl picking it's way across the sidewalk.
Sam makes a low, "oo" in greeting and Dean smiles, runs his fingers over the soft tufts around Sam's eyes then down along his neck. They touch now more than they ever have, and Dean doesn't mind the feel of Sam's fingers on his neck when they hunt. "You hungry there, professor?" he asks and Sam makes a noise that Dean's pretty sure is the owlish equivalent of rolling his eyes, but his head bobs and Dean grins. "Fresh shaved beef, not a rodent in the bunch," he says. "A little meal, a little suet," he adds and isn't it weird how much he knows about eating habits of a great gray owls, now.
Sam has to eat before dusk. Dean doesn't know if it is because of the curse, or the change, or that Sam's transformation is so drastically different than his own, but they'd found it out early on. If Sam doesn't eat before the change, the rest of the night will be one of weakness and nausea and unpleasantness. So Dean makes sure there is always something just before, even if it's just plain jerky.
He follows a similar pattern but in his own other-form, Dean can still eat pretty much anything. Sam-as-owl pretty much has to have raw meat.
Sam's got manners though. He doesn't flap or try to reach the plate, only steps off Dean's arm carefully when Dean crouches in front of the dresser. For such a big bird, Sam's kind of delicate when grips the strips of beef and tears into them. Sometimes he gets self-conscious so Dean tries not to stare.
When Sam's eaten all he wants, Dean wraps the remainder up and sticks it in an igloo cooler. He's got coffee in a thermal cup for Sam too and his kit is laid out on the bathroom. The very first thing Sam wants after the change is to brush his teeth, which Dean thinks is kind of weird because owls don't have teeth. Sam makes a disgruntled noise when Dean reaches for the loose jesses on his leg, but he lifts one to let Dean pull them off. It's a precaution against wildlife advocates, of all things. One run-in with people wanting to "relocate" Sam was all it took.
A glance at the window shows that dusk is fast approaching and Dean sits on the edge of the bed to pull off his boots and socks, strip off the rest of his clothes and sets them on the end of the dresser. He throws a towel from the bathroom on the floor and sits on it, back against the bed and Sam gives a half hearted flap that puts him on the bed and he picks his way unsteadily until he's dead center. He fluffs his feathers a little but his yellow eyes remain fixed on Dean. The "oo-oo" sounds like a question but it's not.
They've gotten caught out a couple of times --not something either of them wants to do if they can avoid it. They are horribly vulnerable during the change and the only thing worse than the change itself is having it happen when they aren't together.
The windows face east so they can't see the actual sunset, but Dean can feel it happen deep in his bones; it's like an itch under his skin and an ache.
Sam makes another small sound and Dean rocks forward to gently stroke along his back. He has no way to be sure but he thinks it might be worse for Sam -- it seems like it would be to have all 6'4" of him compressed into a body that's less than three feet long and delicate boned. Stretching out of it can't be much better.
Dean can only guess because the compression he feels when it happens makes him want to bite his own limbs off.
If it were over in a flash, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, but it's not. The only upside is that for a brief moment, before his own change finishes, he can actually see Sam through his own eyes, undistorted by color shifts or different mental processing. It's Sam for those brief few seconds, and Dean is Dean. It's a reassurance they both need to know that there's still hope to find away to reverse this, to undo it.
Dean feels his bones start to twitch, to shorten, feels his skin contract and pull like all the moisture's being pulled out of it; he wants to scratch himself, to claw at his own flesh but neither his hands nor his feet work as he is used to them doing. It hurts like hell, like having broken bones set, but the pain is bearable and stops being pain as he knows it pretty quickly.
He catches that glimpse of Sam, stretched out on the bed, a flash of hazel eyes instead of yellow, pale skin that's still covered in fine feathers that melt away quickly.
And then he still sees Sam but it becomes pack and he sniffs and twitches and there's food somewhere and it becomes a struggle to remember who he is, who they are besides pack and same-not-same. When the Sam finally settles in his brain, he give a low level "woof". He stretches, feels the need to run, energy caught under his fur, under his skin.
"I know, I know, Dean…give me a few," same-not-same-Sam says and pushes himself up.
He really, really doesn't mind when Sam's hand reaches out to settle on the scruff of his neck and scratch right there.
Sam's pretty sure this must be how sailors feel after months at sea. His legs feel weak, the ground unsteady. His arms arch and the urge to stretch them is one better not given into immediately. He'd dislocated his own shoulder once trying to do too much before the change entirely settled. But he pushes a little because Dean is all energy and ready to go. He distracts him with some shredded beef and makes it to the bathroom to splash water on his face and get the dead meat taste out of his mouth. He has to dress too, and find Dean's collar.
He'd had to forge papers for Dean. Register him as a wolf-hybrid, get tags and a collar. Dean retains all his intelligence and a goodly portion of his charm, but he's an impressive bit of lupine; green-eyed and silver-gray fur. He's left Sam messages about the collar and the leash and that had taken some back and forth -- they both bother him. But it's illegal to domesticate wolves in most parts of the country and wolf-hybrids aren't much better. But…so far Sam's been as lucky with Dean as Dean has been with him -- although arguably, walking into a bar or store with a huge owl on your shoulder is slightly less intimidating than trying to do the same thing with a 3 foot tall, 100 pound wolf, no matter how well behaved he is.
Dean is practically running in circles when Sam finally gets dressed and comes at him with the leash. He quiets down though, lets Sam guide him, doesn't pull when Sam grabs the coffee waiting for him and Sam checks to make sure no one sees them before taking off on a trot to cross the road. On the other side, he lets Dean off the leash and then just finds a place to wait while Dean tears through the low limbs and foliage in a streak of energy that needs to be worked off.
It usually takes 20 to 30 minutes and Sam settles on a broken tree trunk and sips his coffee, all the while listening for Dean -- and anyone else. He lives in fear of some farmer or homeowner catching a glimpse of his brother and taking a pot shot at him. Dean is uncannily smart -- enough of himself remaining to understand the threats that a natural wolf wouldn't, but he's still got enough of the wild in him to sometimes lose track of himself. The same way Sam does when he's soaring over treetops. Until they can reverse this, they have to be careful
They've both been trying to find a way to break it since it happened. This was an honest to God sorceress -- not a witch, not just someone dabbling in spellwork, but an old school, alchemistic sorceress. Technically, what's happened isn't a curse. It has a time limit, it has a point. It's a fabricated transformation that will last until the next total solar eclipse -- but that's two years from now and two years trying to live these half-lives they've got now is a strain.
The transformations are getting easier, the reliance on animal instincts stronger and Sam isn't sure what will happen to either of them if one of them is accidentally killed or goes totally wild before they can undo this thing.
For now though, they have to deal with it. The worst part about it for Sam is that he can't talk to Dean. They can leave each other messages, call each other's cell phones. They understand each other regardless of form, but it's not the same.
Sam's lonely, and if he's lonely he can only imagine how Dean feels. In a twist of wicked irony, Sam's the one who spends his nights as human and Dean gets the days. Sam's had to improve his pool skills considerably, but there's something to be said for having a brother who's an exhibitionist and a bit of a clown, even if he is a wolf. Dean doesn’t mind occasionally performing for their metaphorical supper, nor does Sam. Betting some guy his "dog" can fetch him a beer by name is a good way to pick up twenty bucks.
And the girls still love him.
Sam's pretty sure that at least part of the time Dean doesn't mind being a wolf.
And in a pinch, in the dark, Sam's glad he is because Dean is possibly even a better hunter as a wolf than he is as a human. He can't handle weapons but he sure as hell isn't afraid to take on things bigger than him -- human or otherwise.
His own daily form has great hearing and excellent eyesight. He's got claws than can inflict damage but that only takes him so far and most of what they hunt comes out at night. Most of the time Sam feels pretty useless as anything but a lookout.
But to himself he'll admit that Dean's…affection for him as a bird aren't any less than they are when Sam's human. Sometimes the touch of Dean's hands is all there is to remind Sam that he is human under the feathers and the weird fascination with mice.
Rumblings in the underbrush give Sam a few seconds warning before Dean charges him, and Sam lets him, tumbling off the log with Dean all over him, tongue lolling and play-growling, they get a little deeper and Sam grabs the ruff around his neck and rough-houses with him for a few minutes.
When they head back to the hotel, the leash is superfluous but Dean trots with his tail high. He's gonna want food and a scratch and then Sam will make some phone calls, maybe do some laundry before they head out to the cemetery.
It will take him a couple of hours to dig up the body, salt and burn it. Another day maybe to make sure they've gotten rid of the spirit, and Dean will look for something else.
It's the solstice tonight, and Sam's glad he has something to keep him occupied. Come morning, they'll change again and Sam tries not to think about it, but he's glad the days are shorter and the nights are longer.
He resists the urge to tell Dean again there's danger here, that when morning comes, every time it comes, the urge to fly as far as he can is so strong Sam's afraid he'll give into it one day.
The thing is…the thing is, that wolves mate for life and hunt in packs. It's basic to their nature. Like the movie or the legends, had Sam been turned into a hawk or some other creature that mated for life, had some basic urge toward constancy, he might worry less.
Owls are nomadic and solitary except when breeding. Sam's felt no need to find a mate or breed that he can remember, but the urge to keep moving, to roam, is there all the time. Enough so that he's talked to Dean about clipping his wings or breaking his arm. He doesn't know if it would help, or what kind of effect clipping his wings would have on his human body -- he might lose a hand or an arm or it might have no effect at all.
Dean is adamantly against any of it. "You'll come back, Sam." He'd left the message on the laptop and on his voice mail more than once. "You'll always come back."
Sam hopes he's right.
Sam knows Dean would hunt for him, would never give up. And Sam knows that when he is human again, he'd try to find his way back. But he can cover a lot of miles in a day, and he'd be caught in the change with no clothes and no ID. Awkward doesn't begin to describe it.
The transformation evoked their basic natures. Sam isn't sure exactly what that says about him, except Owls are also supposed to symbols of foresight, or prescience, of prophesy.
He hasn't had a single vision since it happened.
Dean whines at a him a little and Sam reaches for him unconsciously, feeling the solid weight of him against his thigh. Dean whuffs at him and head butts him.
Sam smiles. "Yeah, yeah. I think too much. Okay, let's go get some food and see if we can find a lead on this bitch. Then we'll go dig up some bones. I know how much you love that," he says and he knows Dean is laughing with him. "Another exciting night in the lives of the brothers Winchester."
Dean jumps up. On his hind legs he's nearly as tall as Sam.
"You know, every time you lick me it's the equivalent of giving me a kiss. What happened to no chick flick moments?"
Dean licks him anyway.