Felis winchestrus catus
There was a sneeze coming from the kitchen. Then another one which was quickly followed by a wet hacking sound. The heaving of a small body ended in a wet squelch of a hair and saliva hitting tile.
Sam peered around the corner and made a face. "Oh my god, Dean," he exclaimed. He scooped the massive pale orange tabby into his arms. "I've been looking everywhere for you."
The cat hissed indignantly and squirmed, though he was careful not to hurt the big moose. He hadn't mastered coordinating four paws armed with wicked sharp retractable claws. Sam's arm was still sporting a bandage from earlier when the claws on his front paw had come out at just the wrong moment, slicing into the skin as he attempted to playfully remind his brother he was not a damned house cat to be cuddled.
Sam grimaced, "Oh no you don't. Wandering around by yourself is what got you into his mess. And your breath stinks, dude." He carried the fluffy feline to the library and closed the door. At least in here he was reasonably certain there weren't any more cursed objects. He hoped. He was still recovering from the shock he had experienced when he found a slumbering cat buried in the leg of his brother's jeans, bright green eyes blinking in the fluorescent lights of the storeroom once he worked him free. Sam was still hoping he'd find Dean stark naked somewhere in the bunker. Of course, then he would have to figure out how a cat made it into the most secure bunker in the world without opening a single door. He sighed and ran his fingers through the golden fur.
Dean yowled in protest. It was difficult to keep a hold on him under all that hair as he twisted and dug his back claws into Sam's stomach. Using the power in his back legs he shoved. All twenty-five pounds of long-haired maine coon managed to wiggle free and land in a sprawl on the floor. Sam laughed as the cat sauntered off, a slight limp in one back leg, as if nothing had happened.
Sam huffed, picking at the absurdly long blonde hairs all over his shirt. "When I get you out of this, it's your turn to do the laundry," he remarked. He had always been a bit more sensitive about his clothing.
Dean didn't reply. He was too busy inhaling the tuna Sam had left on the table. His tail swished as he ate, seemingly with the sole purpose of destroying the careful stacks of research.
"Dean," Sam grouched. Bitch face #12 was firmly in place. He cleared what he could instead of moving his brother.
Dean looked up, licked his lips, and then hopped off the table.
Sam pinched the bridge of his nose. Dean had been a cat for a grand total of four hours and he had yet to figure out exactly what had happened, or if his brother was even in there. All he had was a polished stone egg with a symbol carved into its surface and a cat with his brother's attitude. Dean's clothes were still in a heap next to the shelf where the egg had been, boxer briefs and all.
Early on Sam had expected Dean to respond as if he was a man stuck in a cat, but it seemed the feline was all cat. He didn't answer to his name or listen to anything Sam said, and he hadn't shown even a hint of recognizing his brother. Moving him would only result in the stubborn creature jumping back on the table, scattering the books and papers even more thoroughly than if Sam had relocated them himself in the first place.
Dean's ears twitched lazily from his perch on the bookcase. He had climbed up there rather easily, evading his brother's grasping hands by jumping to a higher vantage point every time he made a grab for him. There was something deeply satisfying in not only avoiding capture but also gaining a spot in the room taller than Sam himself.
Sam spent the next hour combing through dusty inventory records to find an entry for a pink granite statue in the shape of an egg with the Buddhist symbol Om carved into it. When he did find it there was no name and no additional description. There wasn't even a name of the person who had brought it in or how it had been acquired. He still had no idea what it had done or what it would take to reverse the effects. He slammed the book closed and shoved it away from him.
The sound disturbed Dean on his perch. He had been dozing and like a typical cat suddenly decided he was no longer happy where he was. He made it down several levels from his previous journey but balked at the larger drop and sizable gap between the last two bookcases before he would make it to the side table that had started the whole thing. He yowled, finally finding a use for the human in the room.
Sam ignored him, reaching instead for his laptop.
Dean meowed louder.
Sam looked up, sniffed, and went back to the scanning the screen.
Dean somehow managed to sound upset while yowling his head off, repeatedly. His tail was twitching, the tip whipping from side to side in his agitation. His fur had even started puffing up.
Sam rolled his eyes. "What," he asked sharply.
Dean meowed softly, maybe even plaintively. It sounded almost like a question, or a pleading request. He repeated the sound then tapped at the edge of the bookcase with one paw, looked down, looked up, and meowed again.
His brother sighed as he stood. "You are even more annoying as a cat, Dean. I didn't think that was possible," he said as he walked over and scooped him into his arms.
Dean wiggled and grumbled until he was put down. Then he proceeded to follow his brother over to the table and jumped into his lap when he sat down.
"What the hell, Dean," Sam exclaimed in surprise, though he didn't remove him.
Dean purred, meowed softly, and butted the underside of Sam's hand with the top of his head.
"I thought you didn't like to be pet," he mused. He used only his free hand to navigate the website he had found, however. The other made lazy circles in Dean's soft fur.
His research online was over pretty quickly. The Om symbol was an ancient representation for the process of centering oneself and becoming one with the universe and had originated in Buddhist. Nothing he found suggested it had any connected to cats or actual spellwork. His notes consisted mainly of meditation and yoga breathing techniques, things he was already familiar with. He was about to give up and hit the Men of Letters library again when a knock sounded on the front door. It was a heavy sound that reverberated through the bunker.
Dean uncurled and stood up, his head cocked to one side. The knock sounded again and he rose on two legs to brace against Sam's shoulder, the length of his fluffy cat body pressed against the front of Sam's shirt. He was about to complain when his brother leapt over his shoulder to start pacing at the door, his golden fur fluffed up and standing on end once again. It was the feline version of Dean squaring his shoulders and preparing for a fight.
Sam grabbed a gun and went to investigate.
On the other side of the heavy door was their disheveled angel in a dirty trench coat. His black hair was even more messy than usual. He stepped inside and started speaking. "I need to speak to Dean. I think," he trailed off as the cat sauntered into view. He cocked his head to the side, reminding Sam of a bird that had found something interesting, and said, "Hello, Dean."
The cat mrowed, hissed half-heartedly, and left the room. His earlier urgency seemed to be entirely forgotten. Now that he knew there was no danger he was no longer interested.
"Well, at least he recognizes you," Sam remarked dryly.
Castiel turned his unnerving gaze on Sam. "What makes you think your brother does not know you," he asked. It was an unusually perceptive statement from the angel.
Sam had learned the Winchester art of deflection. "So, that really is Dean? Can you tell me how to reverse it?"
Dean was waiting for them in the main room. As soon as Castiel crossed the threshold on the way to the kitchen he found it difficult to walk. Dean was weaving through his legs, his sinuous body wrapping around his ankles with each pass. Castiel looked down to carefully place each step.
"I think," he looked down perplexed, "I will need to know how this happened."
It was a quick explanation along with a brief glimpse of the egg itself and the research Sam had compiled. Dean sat on the table, halfway on the computer keyboard, and seemed to be listening intently. Sam had given up saving his laptop from additional insult. It was no worse than the lube he had found under the keys last months. He shuddered at the memory. That had not been a nice discovery and he had been angry about the lack of respect for his computer for weeks afterward. He was still wondering why Dean didn't have his own machine. Maybe if he went out and bought one, Dean would stop stealing his.
Dean nipped at Castiel's hand as it burrowed underneath him to press a key. The screen advanced down the page.
"I know what happened," the angel finally said.
Both brothers suddenly looked interested.
"I do not know what the object is called, but the spell was designed to facilitate inner peace and harmony. I do not believe it is dangerous," he said as he scritched Dean's jaw line with one blunt nail.
Dean's purring intensified as he tilted his head to encourage the contact. His tail, always moving, lazily brushed against Sam's stomach. Sam had gotten better at interpreting his brother's feline body language. Dean was feeling content, maybe even happy.
Castiel looked at the cat, cocked his head again and said, "You need to achieve harmony with yourself, Dean."
Sam snorted, causing both to look at him. "That's never going to happen, Cas. You know Dean."
"It is possible that the spell will wear off over time, but the best course of action would be to fulfill the original parameters of the casting," he said seriously.
"Inner peace and harmony," Sam replied incredulously. He had never known his brother to get in touch with his emotions. He only knew Dean had a softer side was because the man had raised him, had taught him all he knew of family. He still remembered looking up at the gangly teen with adoration in his eyes as his brother ruffled his hair affectionately.
The cat yawned wide, flashing huge incisors and jumped off the table.
Sam groaned, wiping his band down his face. This was going to be difficult.
Castiel left almost as abruptly as he had arrived. He still had enough grace to be angelic (and a bit of a dick), but his experiences had softened the rough edges a bit. Sam had caught him petting and talking to his brother before he left. What surprised him is that Dean not only permitted it, he seemed upset when the angel stopped.
The two of them fell into a routine. Sam had to stop hunting and started cataloguing the vast Men of Letters onto a database. There were days when Dean would lounge around in whatever room Sam happened to be in, following him around like a particularly hairy dog. Others he would disappear all day, forcing his brother to look for him. One day he found Dean nuzzling his Colt 1911 like it was a particularly tasty smelling toy. The gun had been loaded. He had freaked, extracted the gun, and locked the door to Dean's bedroom. Dean had sulked for days, only emerging when hunger got the better of him. Yet, it seemed every morning Sam woke to find twenty-five pounds of Dean purring on his back or nipping at his heels when he tried to get out of bed.
Two months later Sam once again had the shock of his life. A naked Dean tumbled off of his brother's bed, all limbs, when he was startled from a deep slumber by Sam's rather girly scream. Vibrant green eyes peeked out from between strands of long light brown hair, obviously confused, from his new spot on the floor. Traces of the cat were still present in his expression. Sam was standing at the door, fresh from his morning shower, with wide and horrified eyes. He had never wanted to see that much of his brother, and he never wanted it to happen again. That didn't stop him from, out of habit, scooping his now human brother into a massive hug.
Dean awkwardly patted the moose's shoulder, his face pressed into the skin of his neck. "Hey, little brother," he said. His voice was scratchy from disuse, and the most incredible sound Sam had heard in a while. If there were tears in their eyes when they separated, well, neither mentioned it.