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It was another day and a half before Sam saw Dean again, and it became harder and harder to remember that he was supposed to be waiting for Dean at all. Once he’d conquered the watering hole and was able to stroll up and take a drink whenever he wanted, he found that the other giraffes were getting closer to him while they wandered. Some even dared to graze from the same tree as him now. He knew it was absurd, but this acceptance made him jittery with happiness—like a child getting invited to their first birthday party.


Sam felt he had the confidence to join other giraffes while it grazed without fear of getting another powerful kick to the side. The success of socialization without being beaten was what made Sam offended and terribly confused when one came up to him, and swung his head sideways to ram Sam almost right on his tail. He had taken it to mean that he was standing in the other giraffe’s spot, so he’d flopped his tongue out in an attempt to flip the bully off before moving on to gorge himself on the treats literally being handed to him from these tiny people on the other side of the fence. There was something almost addicting about the taste of leaves in a crunchy pellet form mixed in with the salty taste of skin.


Dean showed up that night, climbing over the fence while Sam rested in the cool grass. The motion of someone walking towards him caught his attention, and he saw Dean, but he couldn’t think of a reason as to why this person would be on the inside of the fence, let alone approaching him. There was a bag slung over Dean’s shoulder, and Sam perked, hoping it was a bag of food. He leaned forward with his head, sniffing out the bag, nudging it and ignoring the person who seemed to be mumbling.


When the bag dropped to the grass and the person began waving his arms in front of his face, Sam blinked and tried to pay more attention. The haze on his mind lifted enough to understand the words Dean was saying while mimicking driving, then pointing to the fence that led to the edge of the enclosure that was at the edge of the parks property. Sam shook his head wildly, straining to focus his mind. It’s Dean. Listen. Listen!


“Great...I’m playing charades with a giraffe...” Dean mumbled, walking in a full circle idly as he ran mussed his hair before crouching and dragging his finger through the sand. Sam found himself questioning what charades was, and quickly becoming frustrated because he knew it was something he should understand.


Just as it clicked back into his memory, Dean hoisted the bag back onto his shoulder and headed to the far fence, apparently convinced that Sam understood finally. Or perhaps he had just given up. Shuffling his front hoof at the ground, Sam focused on the remnants of the rough sketches Dean had just made in the sand. There was a fence, and a clock with a number drawn beside it. The pictures were meant to keep Sam’s mind on the task, and he knew that, but the longer he stared at the drawings, the more they stopped making sense.


Ten minutes later Sam had forgotten the details of Dean’s visit an barely remember anyone even being there. So when a loud click echoed off the tall fence in the far corner, Sam was curious. He made his way over, and when a portion of the fence fell away with a loud clatter, he reared up on his hind feet before quickly shuffling backwards. His heart was hammering in his chest and his ears rang with the clang of the metal being torn to the ground.


When he hastily stepped forward to investigate this new doorway, all the other giraffes were beside him, all showing the same sleepy curiosity that he felt. Lowering his head a little bit to look at the torn fence, movement caught his eye. He turned his head to the right he saw a man standing beside a two-tonne tow truck, waving his arms and gesturing urgently. Sam wondered if perhaps he was yelling because the fence had just fallen on the back of his truck, but if Sam focused hard, he could imagine the person yelling ’C’mon Sammy!’


Something struck him about how this man was waving, and a slow realization seeped into his mind that he knew this person. Had talked to him. As the person yelled something about a witch, it sunk in. This was Dean. His Dean. Stepping though the gate, Dean all but got behind him to push until Sam was at a good distance from the fence. Sam found himself both amused at the sight of Dean waving a giant branch at the other giraffes to keep them from leaving through the gate, and irritated. Leave them alone!


When the man...his brother (he had to remind himself) seemed satisfied with where the giraffes now stood, Dean scrambled back to the cab of the tow truck and backed it up. Sam watched in fascination as the fallen fence slowly righted itself, and remained in place as the truck turned off, parking with the fence back in position.


****************


If someone asked Dean how he had got to be bouncing in a makeshift set of ropes that were looped around a giraffes neck while attempting to steer it...he couldn’t tell you. It had gotten intense after he had parked the tow-truck back against the fence—security and police officers had been yelling, and from the number of shouted orders that carried through to where Dean climbed out of the truck, there had been a full on crowd on the other side.


Dean’s drug of choice had kicked in then, the adrenaline pushing him into motion so that within the minute he had managed to get Sam close enough to the tree he perched in and toss his crudely made rope-seat over Sam’s large, giraffe head. Dean’s sense of urgency grew when he realized that Sam hadn’t seemed to notice him. That even once Sam had licked Dean in the process of grabbing leaves, that it had definitely taken some effort for Sam to realize Dean wasn’t a tree. Sam was losing himself to the giraffe. Muttering a quick apology to his brother, he tossed himself at the tall neck and slid down until he caught onto the first rope. Clinging to that rope, he’d maneuvered himself under the second and third ropes –each a bit longer in length—so that he had one rope under him, one behind him, and one to hold onto for dear life.


Even though Sam was no Impala, Dean was still a hunter who could spot the creepy things in the dark when they wanted to remain unseen. A slap on the left and a swat on the right roughly guided Sam around the parking lot in the distance that had been full of skulking shadows while still attempting to follow the trees he had marked with dark spray paint earlier after scouting out the house. Those trees were the only thing keeping them on the right path to the witch’s house in the far part of the woods. After a few minutes of riding, Dean suddenly realized that he hadn’t needed to steer Sam to follow the last couple of trees they’d passed—and also he took note that the distant shadows searching for them had disappeared. They’d reached a safe distance, so he yanked on his grip rope. “Sammy, wait.”


Sam slowed and eventually came to a stop after a few yards. His head twisted around to look at Dean, and Dean looked steadily into the eyes of the giraffe searching for that familiar light that indicated his brother was in there--that light that had been mostly gone when Dean broke Sam out. Dean had worried it had been too late, that somehow Sam was trapped as a giraffe because the light that made the giraffe Sam had been so faint and Sam hadn’t seemed to recognize Dean at all. Now, that spark had returned and he wasn’t sure how, but he was happy to see Sam gesture his head in the direction they had been heading in a let’s go kind of way.


The rest of the ride had been bumpy as ever, if not more so because Sam seemed to be pushing his giraffe-ly limits and straining to go as fast as he could. Dean did his best to shout the plan to his brother, to explain to him how the hex bag wouldn’t burn on its own, and how it was a different type of hex than they’d seen before. He explained that they would need to use a silver blade to get the blood of the witch who had cast the spell in order to burn the bag.


****************


Sam bounded into the clearing, slowing to a stop just outside the front of a small house that had a run down, abandoned look to it. He could feel Dean squirming around on his back, and the ropes tugging against his neck as Dean moved around. Sam swung his head to be able to look at Dean and confirmed his theory that his brother was struggling to find a way down. Mentally, Sam laughed because the image made him think of a cat that climbed a tree too high, and couldn’t figure out how to get down.


Backing up slowly, Sam made his way to a nearby tree so that Dean could use it to get down, and as Dean grabbed the branch to climb off, Sam heard him demand that Sam to wait for him. Snorting—which came out of his giraffe body like a strange cough—Sam stalked forward towards the house. Dean meant well, but like hell Sam was going to wait and spend more time in this body unless he had to. It was up to Dean to catch up.


Lowering his head, widening his stance as he learned to do at the watering hole, Sam levelled up with the door and gave it a sharp knock with the stubs of horns on his head and felt utterly satisfied with the crack bang as the olddoor gave in.


Inside, Naella and a man Sam didn't recognize scrambled to get off the couch and get a good look at the doorway. Wide-eyed, the man glanced at Naella before slowly backing out of the room. Naella, on the other hand, muttered, “Shit,” before Dean came skittering past Sam and into the house. The look that Dean shot Sam was the exact same look Dean always gave him when he told Sam that just because he was a giant, didn’t mean he could go barging into situations without backup. In this case, Sam thought he was just fine knocking doors down as a giant.


Their scattering off the couch made it apparent that Sam and Dean had indeed caught them off guard (though Sam found that hard to believe with probably all of the town out looking for him) and Dean took advantage of the moment, rushing forward while growling something that sounded like a string of insults and the tag-on ‘witch’.


Seeing as Sam couldn’t very well get into the house to help, and his neck was achingly sore from this angle, Sam carefully pulled his head free, and shifted to lay down by the front door to look in that way. It wasn’t often he was at a hunt and unable to fight at all (without being restrained), and as anxious as it made him feel to watch Dean go at it alone, it was a nice treat to sit out and watch him in action, to study his moves and features.


Something felt off about this situation, and Sam couldn’t place what it was. It wasn’t unusual for people to claim it wasn’t them, much like Naella was doing. It wasn’t unusual for Dean to be aggressive in his approach. Sam studied Naella while Dean kept a freshly drawn .45 trained on her as he knelt to open his bag to pull out what Sam knew to be Dean’s favourite silver blade. The woman watched, trembling, but Sam wasn’t buying something. Slowly tracing over her facial features, her fingers, her legs...Sam didn’t find the usual sort of nervous ticks most human-witches had. It almost made sense, because it wasn’t a human witch they were after anyway, was it? It was a demon with witchcraft skills. But then...where was the arrogant confidence that all demons seemed to have?


</p>Dean’s eyes were locked on Naella’s as he stood, moving to stand behind her and only then putting the gun down to pull the hex bag from his pocket. His arms looped around her, blade set at her throat, and Sam swung his head sideways at the doorway to knock his horns against it before forcing his animal cough out. Sam wanted to be human again, yes, but Dean wasn’t going to kill someone to do it. The fear that had flashed across her face told Sam to believe his gut that she wasn’t a demon. A demon wouldn’t be afraid of a knife.</p>

“Seriously Sam? She--“


Swinging his head at the door again to bang against it, Sam obviously made his point because Dean groaned but still moved to grab her wrist tightly (much to Naella’s obvious relief) after setting the hex bag on the ground immediately below. As Dean swiftly dragged the silver blade across her forearm, he muttered something about Sam’s priorities while watching the blood drip down onto the bag, staining it a dark red.


A pain twisted in Sam’s stomach, spiking out and down his limbs and he scrambled to toss his head side to side like he’d learned in order to get up and out of the doorway. Something else twisted inside him as he remembered how painful and disorienting it had been to change into such a large animal, and he figured it best not to have his head in the house Dean was standing inside. When he’d been stumbling against trees, he couldn’t do much damage. But as a giraffe by a small, old house, he was pretty sure the same stumbling would be destructive. Much more destructive.


Staggering to his feet, Sam collapsed almost immediately back onto his front knees as a pain shot through him again, but his ears twitched as a new sound hit them. Chanting. Dean didn’t need to chant to burn the bag...and it was far too close now to be Dean anyway. His cry of pain came out weird and gurgled, but when he saw a shadow standing just outside the house, Sam took all his energy to focus on that, instead of the pain. The shadows fell away the more he looked directly at them, and the male that had scrambled out of the room was standing, eyes fixed on Sam and one hand holding some sort of bone in his open, upturned palm. He was also clenching his other hand around something that was dripping blood onto the bone.


From the pain in his chest that seemed to be emanating from his heart, Sam could only imagine it was some animal’s heart being squeezed. For an instant, the pain subsided, enough to make Sam weak and want to lay down and rest, and enough for Sam to hear Dean’s string of curses from inside the house. When the pain returned a second later, it snapped Sam back to what was happening, and for once he was thankful he was in such a large body because when he forced himself to his quavering feet again, the man was only a step away. Sam was able to catch enough of his sweater in his teeth to hold him in place. The chanting stopped and Sam's pain subsided as the man struggled to free himself of Sam’s bite.


Slowly, Sam brought his body to the ground, settling beside the man and wrapping his neck in a large circle around him to rest his chin on his own shoulder. Sam had learned this was a comfortable way to sleep over the last few days, but it turned out to be an excellent temporary cage as well.


“Sammy, it didn’t work. She’s not the—“ Dean’s steps slowed as he left the house and laid his eyes on Sam, who simply looked at him with a knowing expression. “Jacob?!”


****************


When Dean had left the house, he had been pissed off that he was back at square one trying to find the witch that had cursed Sam, since Naella’s blood did nothing to help the bag burn. To see Sam lying on the ground had set a panic into him, but when he saw that Sam was looking back at him (he swears that Sam was smiling) with his neck twisted around another squirming body, he relaxed. Then he recognized the man as the zookeeper he’d talked to earlier. “Jacob?!”


Jacob frowned slightly, then surprise crossed his face. “Mr. Berard...?”


Scoffing, Dean smirked as he strode forward, bloody silver blade in one hand, blood soaked hex bag in the other. “Sure.” He grabbed Jacob’s arm and maneuvered himself so that Sam could unwind his neck from around the captive. In one swipe, he sliced the man’s arm open in a deep line and let the blood pour into his hand that held the bag underneath. Jacob yelled out, clutching his arm and cradling it to his body, scrambling away from Dean as soon as he was released. Sam glared at Dean, but Dean chose to ignore Sam as he stepped away, flicked his lighter, and dropped the lighter and the bag onto the gravel driveway.


The bag instantly lit up in a bright green flame, smaller blue flames dancing in a small area immediately around the bag.


Jacob turned to run, and Dean couldn’t bring himself to care because at that moment, Sam began coughing, howling and kicking out as he rolled onto his side. His head was tossing around and kept banging against the side of the house. Concerned that it might be Sam’s human head eventually smashing against the house, he calculated his timing and slid onto the ground, grasping either side of Sam’s large giraffe head and held it as firmly as he could.


The next fifteen minutes were pure agony for Dean as he tried to talk soothingly to Sam, to encourage him to stay calm, assuring that he was here no matter what. His hands constantly petted Sam’s cheeks and mane, but when Dean saw the spots on the giraffe body fade into Sam’s skin color, he had to close his eyes. He didn’t know what it would do to him if he saw a giraffe shrink into the form of his brother.


Dean clenched his eyes shut, trying to block out the animal sounds as they faded into Sam’s tortured groans and yells of pain. Eventually the sounds faded and Sam stopped thrashing and his head rested on Dean’s lap.


He had no idea how long he sat there with Sam’s upper body cradled against him and his leather jacket covering Sam’s stomach and waist.


--------


“A double bacon cheeseburger with the works please.”


Dean was sitting across from Sam three towns over in a small mom and pop diner. The first thing they’d done was pack and blow out of town just in case anyone recognized Dean. Sam’s first request had been for food. But this wasn’t what Dean had expected Sam to order.


Dean’s confusion and shock was written clearly across his face when Sam thanked the waitress (after adding a jumbo chili fry to the order) and turned back to Dean. “What?”


Dean stared blankly at his brother.


Sam rolled his eyes. “Dean, all I’ve eaten is salad for over a week.”


“I think I got the wrong Sam back...”


Sam’s lips curled into a smile and he balled a napkin up in his hands and tossed it at his brother’s face. “I bet I can finish before you for once.”


Dean couldn’t hold his blank stare anymore and cracked a smile. “Loser buys the pie.”

 


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