Word count: ~5,000
Warnings: Just a few dirty words
Author's Notes: Hearts and peacock feathers and goblets of honeywine going out to my beta, monicawoe, who makes all things better. Always.
Summary: Written for Summergen 2014 and based on this prompt: “Prank wars! The brothers are in between cases and stuck in a boring town. Little pranks soon escalate into a battle of epic proportions. Set in any season.” Lebanon, Kansas has got to be a boring town, right? I've always wanted to write this trope. :)
Also available at AO3.
As a side-treat, I found this adorable series of cartoons on tumblr, by the equally adorable kai-art: Switchverse (Start from beginning for maximum fun!)
(Set in Season Eight, at some nondescript period shortly after the guys have moved into the bunker but before the Trials.)
The smoky perfume of frying bacon drifted through Dean's dream like a siren's song. Sometimes he dreamt of work or wendigos or winged things, flashes of Hell, Dad, old lost loves. And sometimes, his subconscious did him proud.
There was this fishing dock he'd often imagined in his Heaven, on a barely rippling lake. Perfectly temperate, light breeze. Overcast sky, so the sun wasn't pummeling him and the fish were at the surface, already biting. Janice Joplin’s 'Me and Bobby McGee’ crooned from somewhere—maybe carrying across the lake from a neighboring cabin—and the beat-up green cooler that he knew was full of cold beer, sat at his feet as loyal as an old hound dog. He was wearing shorts, even.
And he still smelled bacon in the air. Made no sense for the setting, but this was his dream and if he wanted bacon, there would be bacon. Dean's stomach agreed and said as much with a resplendent growl, so much so that it made him crack an eye open. Woke him clean up.
Dean stretched his bare feet out of the covers, scrubbed fingers through his hair and scratched his belly. He squinted at the clock on his bedside table, confirming it was well and truly time to greet the glorious day, at half-past nine in the morning. Since there were no windows in the bunker bedrooms, no sun to bleed through his eyelids and cue him awake, Dean had been getting a more restful sleep than he had in years. The safety factor of having lodgings with plenty of wards and defenses didn't hurt one bit, either. Oh, and memory foam. Mmmm, memory foam.
He dragged his defiantly lazy ass out of bed and sniffed again. His mouth watered. No dream, Sam had to be frying bacon. Sam didn't indulge in the fruit of the pig often, but when he did, at least he did it right. None of that faux turkey shit or some extruded vegetable product pretending to be an adequate meat substitute, no. He'd be frying up thick-cut, peppered, top-o'-the-line hog, or at least that's what he did the time before.
Hell, it might've been a year ago that Sam had last made breakfast. But fate—dumb luck, karma, whatever it was—found them here, in between cases, with someplace to actually call a sort-of home, and Sam had to be feeling enough of a sense of belonging that he was actually cooking breakfast. Maybe the bunker was good for Sam after all, as much as it would kill the little turd to admit it.
Dean shuffled to the en suite bath and flipped on the light. He had his own bathroom; how surreal was that? He smiled at his face in the mirror, handsome devil that he was. Taking a single side-step, he opened the toilet lid and proceeded to shake the dew off his lily.
Right onto his feet. Somehow, he'd managed to piss all over his feet.
"Huh." Dean could not have missed an opening as big as a toilet, please. He redirected the stream, to be quite sure he was awake and on-target, and the urine simply bounced all over the floor.
Now it was starting to make sense. Dean stopped peeing, of course. With a grimace, he angled his sightline so that he could now see the sheen of Saran Wrap stretched across the bowl.
Dean should’ve known the bacon was just a ruse.
"Mornin', Sammy," Dean chirped, all sweetness and light, because he'd be damned if he was giving Sam any satisfaction.
The bathroom clean-up suddenly became a lot less irritating when he saw Sam's hair, still a dirty blonde from the bleach slipped into his shampoo two days ago.
Idle hands being the devil's playthings, and all that.
Sam hadn't hit the grocery store yet for a box of Miss Clairol to undo the damage. Adorable, truly adorable, but Sam only had himself to blame. One little innocent, good-natured quip last week about Sam's love life (or lack thereof), and Dean had found his bed short-sheeted and full of cracker crumbs. Of course, this had required a response: just a smattering of porn linked throughout Sam's laptop...after which Sam had spiked Dean's mouthwash with jalapeño juice, which brought them to the booby-trapped shampoo and lastly, the plastic-wrapped toilet.
Dean was fairly certain Sam wasn't finished yet, and frankly, neither was he.
"Morning!" Sam grinned, in all his blonde glory. He looked like a surfer dude, with the bleached hair and a ratty t-shirt that he never wore out in public, the tattered hem of his jeans dragging over bare feet. Like, gnarly, man.
"Good sleep?" Dean helped himself to coffee, surreptitiously sniffing the stuff first before filling a mug.
Sam shrugged airily. "Yep. You?"
"Like a baby. Thanks for asking." He caught Sam slipping a glance over his shoulder, but Dean was already settled at the table and making a point of pretending to study the front page of last Sunday's paper.
Sam plated up scrambled eggs and bacon for them both, before getting himself a cup of coffee. "Any cases turn up yet?"
"Nah. But you know what? I'm kinda liking the peace. It's like a...stay-cation, right?" He waited until Sam took a few bites before he started in on his own food, just to be safe. Not that Sam couldn't have spiked the eggs before they hit the table, but that was probably too expected at this point.
Sam hummed agreeably and stole the political section from Dean's paper. He grabbed the sugar dispenser, and Dean nearly snorted bacon when Sam tipped it and the lid fell off. Sugar suffocated Sam's coffee. Clearly, Dean was not beyond the expected.
"Nice." Sam stared at the pile of white where his cup used to be.
Dean smirked and licked his finger, making a haughty little hashmark with it in the air.
Dean was beginning a thorough inspection of his bedroom when Sam hollered that he was heading out, and did Dean want to come with.
“Yeah, yeah, gimme a sec.” Leaving Sam to his own devices, to acquire whatever mischief money could buy or screw with the Impala, was not a smart move. Dean shoved his feet into his boots, and something cold and gummy squeezed through his socks and oozed between his toes. A spontaneous shudder rolled up his spine. “On second thought, you go on. I wanna...uh...clean the guns.”
“Everybody’s got a name for it.”
Sam’s head appeared around the open doorway, as much hair as possible hidden by a ballcap. “You sure?”
Dean tried to tuck his feet under the bed and look casual. He thought he sold it, sure. “Yeah, you go on. Barbie.”
Sam gave Dean a one-fingered salute and disappeared again. After a few retreating footsteps, Dean heard him whistling like a happy, stupid bird. Okay, so maybe Dean didn’t sell it, after all. He pulled his feet out of the boots and smelled lime. Green Jello was mashed all through his white socks.
He hated, hated, lime Jello, with the heat of a thousand burning suns. This meant war.
Barefoot and smelling altogether too fruity, Dean beat a direct path for Sam’s bedroom. The door was shut tight, and more than likely jury-rigged to do something bad if Dean managed to pick the lock. Lock picking was Sam’s shtick anyway. Dean had never quite gotten the knack of it, too fiddly and hard to see, so that was out. A quick spin around the war room and library confirmed that Sam’s laptop was probably stashed in the bedroom, too.
But Dean was nothing if not resourceful, and the bunker was chock full of gadgets to exploit. He had to be careful not to futz with something lethal, but he could manage that; after years in this line of work, he’d developed a sort of Spidey sense for dark mojo. The problem was going to be sifting through the wealth of dastardly possibilities to find just the right device.
The bunker had room after room, shelf after shelf, of gewgaws and obscure weaponry. Most had been catalogued by either Sam or an original Man of Letters. Dean simply had to find those logs and figure out which entry corresponded to which artifact. Piece of cake, right?
He figured he should try a room down the line a bit, one where Sam would be less likely to notice if something went missing. Storeroom Four looked vaguely suspicious, too many jars of pickled...things. Storeroom Seven smelled funny, and not “ha-ha” funny either. So much like rotten eggs, it reminded Dean of black eyes and blood. In the Eighth room, he felt like he was being watched from the darkened corners. He could’ve sworn he saw twin red pricks of light, like traveling embers, scuttling along the baseboards. And no way was he setting one foot in Storeroom Thirteen.
Number Fourteen, though, showed real promise. It was all clocks. Timepieces. Calendars. Kind of strange, how still and silent it was, because Dean expected clocks to tick and chime and have tiny moving parts. Time was a living thing, but this room was as quiet and preserved as a museum. Each wall was dotted with clock faces of every imaginable design, but nothing pre-dating the 1940’s or so, to Dean’s observation.
A massive leather-bound tome sat on a carved writing table to the left, all of it rather stuffy and Downton Abbey-looking. The book was almost bigger than the tabletop, and certainly would be once Dean opened it up. He clicked on a small directional wall lamp, and amber light pooled across the pages.
“Okay, let’s Harry Potter this thing.” There was passage after passage of options, and he arbitrarily stopped on page 263. The paper felt like velvet under his fingertip, as he squinted and tracked over the faded, hand-written ledger. “The Coincidence Calendar. Nope. Pocketwatch of Politeness...no fucking way. Howard’s Prophylactic Sundial. I don’t even wanna know what that does.” He skipped ahead a few pages, skimming. “No...no. Ew, no. Wait, hmm. The Sands of Frozen Time.” He paused, glancing over the text and small hand-drawn image of an hourglass. A grin crawled across Dean’s face. According to the directions, when the wielder said the noted chant, ending with the name of the intended target and flipped over the hourglass, the target was frozen in place until the sands ran out. From the illustration, it looked like an egg timer, so that was, what? Three minutes? Enough time for Dean to wet-willie Sam in both ears, draw a dick on his face with a Sharpie, take clippers to his mop and give him a mohawk...nothing tragic, right?
Item #107, The Sands of Frozen Time, won the prize. Dean located #107 on the layout at the front of the book, and figured out where it corresponded to the rows of shelves. Third stack from the north wall, top shelf.
He pulled a penlight from his pocket and walked the dim aisles, tracing the tiny numbered plaques on the shelves with the narrow beam.
“Paydirt,” he said to himself, not a little smugly. There it was, #107. He stood on tiptoe and reached up, fishing around with his fingertips until they bumped something that felt roughly hourglass-shaped. It ended up being a lot bigger than the picture, but how accurate was a drawing, anyway?
Shit. Shit shit shit. Sam must’ve power-shopped for the damned hair dye and driven right back. Dean bobbled the penlight and it hit the floor, rolling under a shelf. It left him in almost total darkness, except for an obstructed glow from the desk lamp and the crack of light that was coming in from the hallway because, double-dammit, he’d forgotten to shut the door.
“Think, Winchester, think. Okay. Arenam exuérunt...uh...mundi iubeo tres...something something...tempus elit—”
The door creaked wide and a very tall silhouette filled the opening. “You in here? Dean?”
Dean flipped over the hourglass, and a plate on the underside slid away. Something reflective, like a mirror, glinted up at him in the sudden glare from the hall. “Sam Winchester,” he whispered quickly, as if whispering meant Sam wasn’t going to find him and give him grief for trying to use a ridiculous magical egg timer...
Vertigo churned up inside Dean’s head like a bad amusement park ride, and everything in front of his face smeared into a Technicolor blur. He barely managed to put the hourglass onto a shelf before his knees buckled, and he clocked his chin on an edge as he fell. It was dark, then it got very, very bright, and he had the weirdest sensation of speed, of being siphoned through space and spit back out again.
The floor was hard and cold under his knees, and he shot a hand out to catch his balance on...a doorframe. He blinked frantically and shook his head, forcing back the dizziness by sheer force of will. Hair flopped across his eyes, tickled his nose. At least he thought it was hair.
Dean sat back on his heels and breathed through the queasiness. When he was fairly certain the bacon from breakfast wasn’t going to make a return visit, he swiped the hair from his face and caught sight of a plaid sleeve. He hadn’t been wearing an overshirt minutes ago. And then there was the long, familiar fingers. He turned the hand over, the left hand, and saw a thick patch of poorly-healed, pink scar.
What the ever-lovin’ fuck?
He used the doorframe to crawl his way back up. And up and up. He felt as if he was wearing heels, and the quickly-settling view in front of him was slightly askew, farther away than it should’ve been. A quick glance down confirmed he was not, indeed, wearing heels, but Sam’s enormous boots.
“D-dean? What did you do?!” And that wasn’t Sam’s voice either, it was his. A few octaves too shrill with panic, and coming from the dim room in front of him.
“Um, nothing?” It sounded no more believable from Sam’s vocal cords than it would’ve from his own.
Dean cleared his throat and stepped into Storeroom Fourteen, for the second time. Someone who looked a whole lot like him bolted around the corner of a shelving unit, scowling fiercely. He’d know that scowl anywhere, the furrowed brows and tightly drawn lips. The expression was thoroughly Sam’s.
“Is this your idea of a prank?” Sam demanded, in Dean’s own, trademark sandpapery growl. He was rubbing a scrape on his chin.
“Whoa, I’m hot when I’m angry.” This was not, perhaps, the smartest response Dean could’ve offered.
Sam spread his arms wide, clearly appalled.
“Okay, okay, just...untwist your panties. My panties. Whatever.” Dean felt a little like a colt on new, spindly legs as he headed towards Sam. “I’m sure it’s just...temporary.”
“What is ‘it’?” Sam demanded.
“The Sands of Frozen Time? That’s what the book said, I swear.”
Sam’s gaze swiveled to the giant ledger sitting open on the desk in a pool of light, and he stormed over to it, grumping. “Where? Which entry?” He leaned down and squinted at the pages and man, was it weird for Dean to watch his own body move. Did he always swagger like that? He really was that bow-legged, wasn’t he? “Dammit, you need glasses. Why haven’t you ever told anyone you needed glasses?”
“What? I do not,” Dean protested, bullying Sam out of the way. Which was easier than it should’ve been, really. Sam had the shoulders of a linebacker, Dean always knew it, but it was surprisingly satisfying to take advantage of that. When he looked back at the book, he was stunned by how clear the writing had become. Sam was right; Dean was pointedly far-sighted. And the item he thought was #107 was actually #127. #107, he discovered after better scrutiny, was something called a Glass of Transpositioning. “Huh.”
“Huh? HUH? I thought you knew better than to mess with this stuff. Wanna share with the class?” Sam looked thoroughly exasperated in Dean’s body.
Dean bit back irritation and read the correct entry aloud. “ ‘Once activated, the Glass of Transpositioning will allow for two minds to exchange corporeal space for the span of time it takes for every grain of sand to descend from the original point of its origin to the connected bulb.’ Heh, it says ‘bulb’.”
Sam flicked Dean’s earlobe, through all the hair.
Dean flinched. “Maybe if we just turned it over again—”
“What’s this ‘we’ business? Go get the damned thing. You did this; you un-do it!”
Dean stalked—because apparently that’s the way Sam’s body moved when it was on a mission—to the shelf where he’d left the hourglass. After fishing the penlight from where it’d rolled, he flipped the timer back over. He felt Sam move in beside him as he shone the light on the tiny, dribbling stream of sand. They stared at it, and stared, and he was pretty sure neither of them were actually breathing when, finally, the last grain dropped. And nothing happened.
Dean swallowed. “Are you still—”
Sam nodded, a muscle working in his jaw. Dean could only hope Sam didn’t crack his molars with all that tooth-grinding.
Sam sighed. “So it seems like the stupid spell just has to run its course. Like a virus. Not surprised, I guess, temporal magicks and all. Might as well turn it back over.”
Dean did, and the stream resumed its trickle. “How long you figure it’ll take?”
They watched the sand leisurely, casually, ever-so-slowly drop. Dean could almost count each single grain, in the bright beam of the penlight, with his fancy new eyes.
“Too long.” Sam said flatly.
“Hey, come on, man. My body is a wonderland.” Dean tried for a shit-eatin’ grin but Sam wasn’t buying it.
“Your jeans are too tight,” he griped, tugging at the waistband.
“Yeah, well, your hair’s too long.”
“Whatever. We done with the pranks now? Please?”
Dean huffed and stared balefully at the hourglass again, before pawing bleached hair out of his eyes.
“Good.” Sam turned on his heel and stomped out. Dean leaned around the corner of the shelf, watching himself leave. View wasn’t bad, he had to admit. Felt kinda creepy, spying on his own person, but who wouldn’t look, right?
“Stop staring at your ass!” Sam shouted, without turning around.
“I wasn’t—” But Sam had disappeared down the hall. “—doing that.”
Dean put a scowl on Sam’s face and picked up the hourglass.
Dean decided this was worse than that time they’d dug a pit trap in a tick-infested forest in Georgia, filled it with roadkill, and sat for three hours waiting for a wampus cat to find the revolting mess. In August. With no beer.
He’d already re-dyed Sam’s hair—figured it was the least he could do—and noted that Sam had a very lumpy skull. No surprise there, as many times as Sam’d been clocked in the head. He’d also taken a few surreptitious moments to confirm that Sam was, indeed, long all over. Wasn’t like he hadn’t seen his brother bare-ass naked before, but he’d hardly bothered with an up-close-and-personal assessment of Sam’s dick and, well, yep. It was proportional. And bent slightly to the left.
But some things weren’t quite so nonchalant. Sam’s finger joints ached, probably early onset arthritis, and he bore old-ish scars that Dean hadn’t noted prior to today, scars he couldn’t place to particular hunts or accidents. Some of them sizeable, too: a fat white slice over Sam’s hip, knots of bone across Sam’s ribs that were probably bad heals, spots like tiny teethmarks on the inside of his left arm. That last discovery made Dean a touch queasy. He had to wonder if they’d come from the Purgatory year, when Sam had access to whatever pharmaceuticals that that Amelia chick stored at her clinic. Once an addict...
At least it might explain a few things about then.
Dean yanked his thoughts away from that particular direction before it got ugly.
Sam’s brain. It never shut off, never landed on a topic long enough for Dean to make sense of it. Intellectual whiplash. He drummed his fingers on the kitchen table, bounced his leg, poked ineffectually at the hourglass dribbling sand in front of him.
“That won’t help,” Sam said, strolling into the kitchen, a newspaper tucked under one arm and glasses on the end of Dean’s nose.
“What’s on your face? My face?” Dean demanded, sitting up straight.
Sam shrugged. “Found them in a desk in the study. They’re old, but they help.” He sat across from Dean and fluffed out the newspaper. He was looking far too pleased, and it made Dean feel like he was just gloating at himself. Which was, at once, surreal and completely annoying.
It’d been three hours, and if Dean had to guess by looking at the sand, another hour remained before the spell expired. Sixty. Endless. Minutes.
He could hit the shooting range again; the first time was only marginally successful, as Sam’s extra height threw off Dean’s aim. Or maybe shoot hoops. It wouldn’t surprise him if there were a basketball court somewhere in this cavernous joint. The bunker was like the Tardis; he kept finding rooms that logically, shouldn’t be there. Or he could polish the roof of the Impala—
“Dude, stop,” Sam said.
Dean looked up, and realized the whole table was shaking from his knee hitting a leg. He stopped. “I’m sorry, but it’s you. How do you live with all—” Dean whirled fingers around his head, “—this?”
“How do you not?” Sam countered, arching a brow. “Look. Why don’t you, um, make us lunch. I bet your blood sugar is dropping right about now. That’s probably part of it.”
“My what? I don’t have a blood sugar problem.” But Dean realized, since Sam had to go and bring it up, that he was actually hungry. And cranky. How did he not notice he was hungry, before? Sam’s body was fucking strange. Just like his brain.
“Fine. Lunch.” Dean stood up and wandered to the ‘fridge, pulled out sandwich meats and cheese from a drawer, bread from a breadbox. The fancy, organic loaf that Sam had bought at the whole foods market actually looked pretty good right about now. “So. What’s it feel like?”
Papers shuffled behind Dean’s back. “What’s what feel like?”
“You know. Being in me.”
Sam gave a snort. “Seriously?”
“Yeah, seriously.” Dean plated up the sandwiches and grabbed a can of fruit cocktail from the pantry, because it was easy and he knew damned well Sam would want a fruit or veggie to off-set the cholesterol of salami, ham, baby swiss, mayonnaise, etc.
“It feels short.”
“Funny.” Dean gave Sam a look and sat at the table, sliding a plate under the newspaper. “Come on.”
Sam peeked over the wire rims of the glasses and with a begrudging grin, set the newspaper aside. It was still endlessly odd for Dean to watch his face pull these expressions, sitting all slump-shouldered and...Sammishly.
Sam picked up a fork and stabbed at a chunk of pear. “Okay, fine. Your knees are totally messed up. Left shoulder, too. But I bet if I did a little yoga—”
“Oh no. You are not bending me into a pretzel today. I’ll be sore as shit tomorrow.” Dean popped a piece of pineapple into his mouth and launched into the sandwich.
Sam made like he was about to say something, then thought better of it, shrugging. “And there’s the eyesight business.”
“Alright, fine. Maybe my eyes ain’t what the used to be.”
“But, here’s the thing...” and Sam paused, forehead furrowed, “...somehow your body feels more, I dunno, grounded. Solid. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but it’s like it’s...simpler in here.” When Dean nearly choked on a mouthful of food in objection, Sam put up a hand. “I mean calmer.Yeah, that’s it. I think.”
Dean stared at Captain Cryptic across the table, watching Sam take a fussy bite or two of lunch before going back to his reading. Freak. Dean reached across with his fork and speared a glob of canned peach from his brother’s plate. “Hey. Don’t you wanna know what it feels—”
“No, Dean. Just...no.”
Fine, then. So much for reciprocity. Dean swiveled on his seat and leaned back against the wall, stretching out Sam’s pipestem legs and scratching errantly at his stomach. And he pondered, with maybe more thought than it deserved because they only had maybe a half an hour left on the hourglass, that Sam didn’t feel the least bit comfortable in his own skin. There was this constant, low-pitched thrum of worry in his gut, always, and too much noise in his brain. He had a strange center of gravity too, floating somewhere high in his chest instead of at his core, where it belonged, and the effect made Dean feel a little light-headed and unbalanced. And itchy.
He scratched at his middle again, and Sam narrowed his eyes.
“You didn’t go and get nits on my body, did you?”
“What? Of course not! How would I do that?”
“I don’t know, Dean, kinda looks like it.”
There was a three-second delay before Dean rucked up his shirt and saw a prickly spread of bright pink hives, plastered all over his middle. He felt it starting on his back, too, and down his thighs. “Holy shit...”
“See? I told you.”
“I didn’t do anything, Sam, I swear!”
Sam sighed, shook his head, and carefully folded the paper. He picked up their plates and moved off towards the sink. And only then did Dean hear him snickering under his breath.
The rash itched like heat and steel wool and chigger bites, and Dean wanted to peel off Sam’s skin in one great pull. “What did you...this is not funny...”
“Hey, guess what I figured out last year at Amelia’s?”
Dean rubbed his shoulders against the wall, back and forth and back and forth. It hurt and felt better, at the same time. “Jesus, what, Sam?”
“I’m allergic to pineapple,” he said casually.
Dean had to gawk. “And you let me eat it? You dick.”
Sam took off the old reading glasses, buffed them on Dean’s Led Zeppelin t-shirt, and glanced over at the Glass of Transpositioning. “Looks like you’ve only got, oh, twenty minutes to suffer, buddy.”
At the ten minute mark, Dean was trying with every fiber of his being not to claw out of Sam’s body, howling. He paced the war room, tugging at his cloths, rubbing at the rash through the fabric. The clocks on the wall, one for nearly every time zone, were taunting him all across the world, and he swore to God every second-hand had stopped moving. Eventually, he noticed Sam leaning in the doorway. “Shit head,” Dean growled.
“Yeah, okay, maybe that was mean of me.”
“No maybe about it.” Dean shot back, skimming his palms up and down his arms. He hated the whine in his voice but Sam deserved every bit of it.
Sam held out a bottle of water and a little pink and white capsule in his palm. “Take this, it’ll make you feel better.”
Dean side-eyed him hard.
“It’s only Benadryl. I swear.”
When Dean still didn’t budge, except to scratch, Sam brought out the big guns. He gave Dean The Look. The one that was better suited to paintings of sad orphans, rendered on black velvet, than a grown man. Damn him, it was easily as devastatingly pitiful on his own face, with the freckles and big girly eyes, as it was on Sam’s.
“Truce?” The earnestness in Sam’s voice, coupled with The Look and the raging itchiness, broke Dean in a New York second. He grabbed the pill and swallowed it dry.
“Truce,” Dean said, though it nearly killed him to concede.
Sam licked a finger, made an invisible hashmark in the air, and grinned like a wolf. Like Dean.
Another ten minutes, and the Benadryl started working like a charm, the hives fading into a bad memory. Back in the kitchen, they were both staring at the hourglass when the last grain fell from top to bottom, and Dean felt the slip-slidey pull of ‘transpositioning’ begin. It was like scrabbling through sand, trying to drag his way out of Sam’s never-settled brain and nervous system, until he finally found purchase and thudded back into his own body. There was a buffet of pressure in his ears and then, stillness. Dean shook his head, to clear the cotton, and looked up at Sam.
Sam seemed a little green, his chest heaving as it did when he got rattled. He swiped his hands through his hair, fingers quivery, but after drawing a few deep breaths and clearing his throat, the color came back to his cheeks. Good. Dean didn’t dig the idea of cleaning up puke from magical motion sickness.
Dean was so damned glad to be back in his own skin, he almost didn’t mind losing Sam’s 20/20 vision. “Man, that was...”
“Not doing that again anytime soon.”
“I hear you.” Sam exhaled pointedly, his expression settling into something that looked like resignation, like business as usual. Dean wished it looked a little more like relief, but it didn’t.
“You good?” he asked, poking Sam’s arm.
“You sure? If you’ve gotta hurl—”
“I’m fine, Dean. Being you for a couple of hours wasn’t that traumatic.”
“Awesome, because being you was a real...”
Something weary and old tugged at the corner of Sam’s eyes, settled in the purse of his lips. In an inspired moment of restraint, Dean dialed back his snark. “It was tall. Really tall. Like ‘Hey the air is thin up here’ tall.”
“Shut up.” But Sam smiled, for real, and Dean felt pretty damned pleased with himself.
“Alrighty then. I’m putting this thing back where it belongs.” Dean stood up, glad for his sturdy legs and good balance and even his stupid, stiff knees. He picked up the hourglass, abundantly careful to keep it upright.
Sam jabbed something in Dean’s chest. The antique wire-framed glasses. “Be really, really sure you put it back in the right place, okay?”