Title: Cat’s Eyes
Fandom: Supernatural (CSI Vegas)
Pairing: Gen, some Dean/OC, possibly later Dean/Sam
Warning: Mentions of Dean as a sub in a D/s brothel (no sex)
Summary: John is turned into a cat. Somehow being a cat turns him into a better father.
It was a cruel irony that it was only after he was turned into a cat that Sammy wanted him around. Dean, of course, could not refuse his little brother – not this, not now.
“We don’t have the money, Sammy.” Dean had argued half-heartedly, although that was very true. John’s fake credit cards wouldn’t last long in Vegas, and while their fake IDs were the best they could be, that didn’t excuse the fact that Dean was only seventeen, and Sammy barely thirteen. Job prospects didn’t look good, and hustling wouldn’t last long in Vegas. Not without people catching on, and John had seen too many bodies in this town.
“I’ll get the money, I’ll earn it. He won’t be a burden, Dean, I promise!” Little Sammy had protested in his high, child-like voice. Dean had been developed in all ways by thirteen or fourteen, his voice had broken and he’d been caught with more than one girl. Sammy, on the other hand, could still pass for ten or eleven if he wanted to. John couldn’t think of much work a boy that looked like Sammy could get in Vegas, and the work he could think of. Well. He’d take furry suicide first.
“Sammy.” Dean had sighed, his voice breaking. He couldn’t say no to Sammy, never could, even when he knew he should. They weren’t going to stay here long, certainly not long enough for a cat.
“Please don’t take him away from me.” Sammy begged, tearfully, hugging John’s little body close. John closed his eyes, felt his body purr instinctively. His little boy was hugging him, and he suddenly seriously regretted, more than he ever had before, the way he would sometimes push his boys away, the fact that he was never as demonstrative with them as he knew he should be.
“Why, Sammy? What’s so special about this cat?” Dean asked softly, reaching out to stroke one smooth ear gently. Even Dean liked him, John realised with some surprise.
“He reminds me of Dad.” Sam admitted softly, burying his face further into John’s fur, so the words reverberated against his stomach. Somehow, John wasn’t surprised. “He feels like Dad.”
“Dad’s… gone, Sammy.” Dean said softly, not willing to say ‘dead’, not yet, not when they hadn’t seen a body to salt and burn. But Dean, John knew, was a pragmatist, and at heart he believed that John was dead.
“He’s not dead, Dean.” Sammy insisted quietly, intensely, and John knew that wasn’t just a belief or a hope – his son knew, somehow, that John was still alive. Dean wasn’t as certain. But, John realised, both boys wanted it badly. Possibly too badly. Their money and fake IDs weren’t enough to last them, hustling money would only last a few months before they started hitting the same local bars twice, started getting in trouble. These were all things John had come across over and over again, all reasons they had to move, constantly, even when the hunt didn’t make them. But the boys had another problem, as well. Dean was seventeen, without a job or a stable home. Someone was going to notice that their father wasn’t around, and when that happened, they would come and they would take Sammy away, possibly try to put Dean into a home as well, probably split the boys up. They needed to get moving, but John realised with a sinking certainty that they wouldn’t, that they were going to stay in this crappy motel room until they were certain that their father wasn’t coming back. And that would only happen when they salted and burned a body that didn’t exist.
“Alright, Sammy, alright. You can keep the cat.” Dean finally said, sealing John’s fears, binding them to the motel room more.
Two days later, Sammy had a paper-round before school, and Dean had started working in construction. They fell into a routine, surprisingly, and it was even nice, although John had to keep reminding himself that he was a cat and had to act like one. Sammy would wake up first and go on his paper-round, while Dean stayed in bed for an extra twenty minutes. The second day, John had crept closer to his warmth, almost instinctively, and Dean had snuggled him close. They had both felt a little shifty and embarrassed, and John had ended up hiding under the desk instinctively until he’d left. Sammy would come back just after Dean left, grab his school-bag and press a sneaky kiss to John’s furry head, before rushing out again and cycling to school on the rusty bike Dean had surprised him with when he got his job.
Then John had free reign of the room until Sammy returned from school. Cats were lazy creatures, they liked to sleep most of the day, and while for the most part John was able to resist that, he could not resist the call of the comfortable, still-warm sheets that bore the distinctive smell of his sons. He’d realised quickly on the first day that it was best to give in, so now he spent the first half-hour or hour after Dean and Sammy were gone curled up on the exposed sheets where they had slept the night before (both boys still sharing a bed because they couldn’t bring themselves to use John’s). After that, he would gorge himself on the cat kibble and water that Sammy left out for him. He’d been worried at first that the kibble would end up tasting as foul as the time when one of his buddies had dared him to eat some. It didn’t, it tasted kind of delicious, and he wasn’t even bored by them like he’d though he might get after eating the same thing day after day. Something about his taste-buds had changed, and the crunchy, meaty taste of the kibble worked. The water, too, was perfect, cool and clean and somehow better than the best beers and whiskeys he’d ever drunk. Being turned into a cat might not be on the AA recommendation list, but it was certainly a good way to kick the habit. A quick trip outside, then it was time to hit the books.
The first day, he’d struggled a lot with the lack of opposable thumbs. Luckily, the book he’d shredded was an old library book from three stops ago, some book on Ancient Egypt Sammy had needed for studying but hadn’t used since. He thought maybe the boy was hoping to return it one day. Half the pages had been torn out of the book, the other half had deep gouges in them. He’d managed to hide the mess before one of the boys got home and decided to lock the other, more important books, away from him, but it taught him a lesson on restraint. None of the other books had any marks except the occasional damp or tooth-pocked corner, but he was starting to worry about how quickly he was getting through the books. If he wasn’t… incapacitated, he could have put a call in to one of his contacts – Caleb, or Pastor Jim, maybe, and got their help. But he couldn’t pick up the phone, let alone talk into it, and neither of the boys had mentioned going to Pastor Jim’s like they should.
The best part of John’s day was after they boys were both home – first Sammy, then Dean after spending far too much time away at work. Sammy would study for a couple of hours, looking happier than John had ever seen him. John had crept closer and closer to that radiating happiness as the days passed, and after a week or so ended up curled up in Sammy’s lap or against his side while Sammy worked. Sammy made dinner for Dean getting back, seeming to know exactly when his brother would be home even on days when Dean was late, and both boys would sneak little scraps to him when they thought the other wasn’t looking. Then it was Dean’s turn to sit and work – circling hunts, studying the books and building up a research databank that within a week was already showing signs of being extremely useful. When Sammy realised what he was doing, he was more than happy to help his brother, and even sometimes left his school work to do it. It disappointed John, that he hadn’t known his sons could do this, would like to do this, but he knew the disapointment was aimed at himself. He’d started sitting by Dean in the hope that he could see over his shoulder and possibly find the answer to his problem in one of the books, but when Dean’s hand came down to rub over his head and catch that place under his chin that made him squirm delightedly, finding the cure for this became a low priority.
The boys were even keeping up their exercises – Dean, he knew, was bulking up even more in his work at the construction yard, developing wholly different muscles, and he combined that with half an hour training schedule with Sammy, working on their foot work and body positioning, making themselves into better hunters. It stunned John to realise that, without his interference, Sammy was becoming a good hunter, was starting to adapt to the lifestyle in a way that he’d been rebelling against since he was ten and had moved to yet another new school. Sammy was given an extra half-hour training, working on developing his young muscles and adding strength to them, while Dean cleaned his guns on a rotating schedule.
Then, both boys worn out but happy, they would dive for a shared shower, teasing each other and giggling like school-girls while they soaped up, before wrestling playfully over the biggest, softest towel, and collapsing still-damp into their beds wearing nothing but clean boxers. He’d worried, when Dean hit his teens and started growing, about the boys’ closeness, their intimacies that other people would think were odd. But Dean had never even looked at Sammy funny, and the one time he’d suggested they get separate showers, Dean had frowned and said ‘but we need to conserve water’, and Sammy had complained about cold showers as though he’d feel as miserable about Dean having a cold shower as he would about himself having one.
John enjoyed the nighttimes the best, when both boys were curled up in bed, sleeping and vulnerable and safe, and he could use his night-time vision to watch over them until weariness drew him to curl up by their twined feet.
Three weeks later, still no sign of a cure, and the cracks began to show. Dean’s eyes were becoming shadowed, and Sammy’s studying sessions had led more than once to a pile of boy and cat and tears, as Sammy mourned his father. More worry still was the way their food resources were slowly dwindling, and Dean wasn’t as quick at topping it up. Then, one night, Dean went out again after dinner and didn’t come back until Sammy was already asleep. Sammy did all the same things, he still did his exercises, still worked on the research bank, even had a go at spotting hunts (and was pretty good at it, too). But when he went to bed there were hollows in his eyes, and he woke up after a couple of hours with screaming nightmares, crying not for John, but for Dean. John pressed his body against his son’s, purring soothingly, and Sammy slowly relaxed, hugging him closely, and fell into less fitful dreams. John wondered just how long Sammy had been having nightmares for – long enough to know that Dean was the one who would soothe them, not John.
Dean didn’t go out every night, only a couple a week, but the nights he did go out, he brought home a lot of money, more than enough to see them through. At first, John worried that he was hustling, worried that one day he’d come home bruised and battered after hustling the wrong person – or worse, not come home at all. But slowly, as his senses categorised the scents lingering on Dean’s skin and clothes, he realised there was something wrong. He didn’t have the right frame of reference to understand what he was smelling, but the musky smell, the coppery blood-tang, the slight hints of leather on his skin were telling him something, he just couldn’t work out what.
Six weeks into his life as a cat, three weeks of bi-weekly disappearances, and Dean stepped completely out of the norm and came home at lunchtime. He was walking stiffly, as though in agony, and John could almost taste the blood on his skin. Dean unselfconsciously stripped away his shirt to reveal deep welts across his back. John hissed angrily, padding closer. Dean snorted. “Don’t go getting judgemental on me, cat.” He said lightly, turning to try and see the welts in the mirror. “It’s a lot better than getting myself killed hustling, and Lady H runs a clean operation. The clients don’t get to fuck me, don’t get to do anything to me like that, they just get off on hitting me or making me pretend to be a dog or something.” He sighed, staring at the welts that he just wasn’t going to reach by himself, that Sammy couldn’t help with. It drove home again how alone he was, and he slumped sadly on the bed. John pounced on his lap, purring soothingly and trying to push as much love onto him as he could. There wasn’t much else he could do, not when he didn’t have hands, and couldn’t work to keep up their finances. Sammy needed to eat, they needed to keep a roof over their heads, and while the thought of what Dean was doing turned his stomach, infuriated him that someone would do that to his boy, he understood it.
Dean sighed, snuggled the cat closer and lay down on his side. John heard him whispering, but it took long moments to understand the words muffled into his fur. When he did, his heart broke over again as he listened to his son pleading with him to come home.
John nuzzled closer, purred louder, and wished with all his heart that he could be him again, that he could be what his sons needed.