Spoilers: none
Story notes: gen, slightly less than 2,000 words. Mild crack. Something odd is going on with Dean - Sam suspects the Viking.
Betaed by Solo , who probably shouldn't have encouraged me. *g* Thank you very much!


by Sylvia


It was the Viking who started it. Sam didn't realize it at the time, but looking back, it was definitely the Viking.

The first inkling that something was off hit Sam much later, though – right about the time that Dean charged into the middle of a conjuring circle, unceremoniously smashed the vessel (a big vase with a garish floral design), and then lectured the assembled Zisa-worshipping witches on how this was all down to "women getting stupid notions into their head because of emancipation and stuff".

Conjuring up an ancient spirit of war and destruction was definitely a stupid notion, no argument there. But Sam didn't really get where "emancipation and stuff" came in. Judging by Dean's rambling speech, his brother didn't, either, so after they'd dealt with the witches Sam held Dean down, poured some holy water down his throat, and checked for bumps on the skull, suspicious bruises, or other clues.  

Everything seemed okay, though (except for Sam's breathing, but that was normal when you'd just caught an elbow to the stomach and were being mock-throttled by your brother).


When they were in the middle of salting and burning a steamboat gambler in Mississippi, Sam noticed that Dean's hair was longer than he'd seen it in a long time.

In itself, this wasn't particularly alarming. Sure, Dean had stuck with a crew cut for years now, but as a teenager he'd tried everything from a high and tight military style to an incredibly horrible mullet. This time, thankfully, he simply grew his hair out an inch or so, got a cut that made him look oddly young and (to Sam's secret amusement) weirdly cute, and that was that.

It was only later that this crystallized into another symptom.


The head of the smuggling ring in Georgia reminded Sam of Missouri. Except, of course, that Missouri wouldn't have tried to trade artifacts that infested people's livers with armadillos. Though that part was probably just a spelling mistake – armadillos weren't native to the Congo, after all, and that was where that particular charm had come from.

Anyway. After they torched Ma Magic's warehouse, Dean sat her down for a talk. Not that she was likely to change her ways because of a stern talking to, but hey, if it made Dean feel better after witnessing the armadillo curse in action, then Sam was all for it.

That was, he was all for it until he finished searching the house for more magical contraband and started listening.

"Basically," Dean was saying, "What the problem is, is, you really need to stop because this isn't what your role is. You're just going against the natural laws. Of nature. Because you're confused by all this emancipation that ruined the family and the real values and stuff. Because those values, like, uh, those real values, they're being ruined by women like you who don't know their place. Are you following me here?"

"I don't think so," said Ma Magic, speaking slowly and with a distinct hint of morbid fascination wound through her tone. "What place?"

"Uhm, you know. Women are supposed to have kids and cook and clean and do all the household stuff. Look, you may not like it but women just aren't big on logic and thinking and all that, right, you're all emotional and nurturing and supportive. It's nature."

"Which you know because…?"

This stumped Dean for a moment, and he looked over at Sam in a clear demand for help. Unfortunately, Sam had no clue what he was trying to achieve.

In the next moment, Dean rallied. "Because it's *nature*! It's just true. You know it is!"

Dean gave her an oddly expectant – almost hopeful – smile. Ma Magic stared back with the kind of look that Sam imagined she would also give a fascinating new charm that inserted oppossums into spleens.

"Your boyfriend is the worst chauvinist I have ever seen," she told Sam later.

"Uh," said Sam. "He's not really – I mean, he's really not –"

"No, honey, that was painfully obvious. Not naturally the macho type, is he? He's awful bad at faking it, is what I mean."

"I," said Sam, and ran out of words.

"Sure is pretty, though," the evil witch went on consolingly. "Who wants a smart man anyway."


Sam reconsidered the possession theory two weeks later, when he accidentally grabbed Dean's duffel bag instead of his own and found stolen library books by Betty Friedan, Andrea Dworkin and Rebecca Walker.


The Viking – a tall, heavy-jawed bodybuilder sporting a blond ponytail and a dark expression – had been hanging out at the New Roadhouse when he and Dean had dropped by a couple months earlier. Sam hadn't paid much attention to him at first.

"Hey, Joe," said the new bartender after a while. She still hadn't shot Dean down, but Sam figured it was a matter of minutes at this point. "Get me another crate of beer from out back?"

"Sure," the Viking agreed. Sam watched with half an eye as he slid from his chair and slipped behind the bar with the self-assured, muscular grace of the hunter he indubitably was.

A second later, Sam gave the Viking his full attention as the man smacked his forehead on the frame of the (admittedly low) door at the back of the bar.

"Fuck!" said Joe.

"Don't let your mother hear you use language like that," Cathy replied placidly.

Dean's eyes popped impossibly wide. "*Joe*?"

"Not a word," snarled Joe, fixing Dean with a hostile glare. "I mean it, Dean."

Sam could have told the man that that one never worked.


"… so I bust in through the skylight and there's this bunch of guys in suits, it's like Accountants Anonymous or something, and they get all bent out of shape and –"

"What the hell did you do?"

"Nothing!" But Jo refused to meet Dean's eyes as she (he?) said it. "I just said 'so you're the guys who've been turning people green around here', and they started getting all –"

"Jo." Dean fixed her (whatever) with his tough, no-nonsense look, and just like that, Jo crumbled.

That look was just for show with people Dean liked – he would cave into being supportive and apologetic at the slightest sign of puppy eyes, for example –, but maybe Jo was too embarrassed to be thinking clearly.  

"Okay, so I called them wannabe-witches. And they started insisting they were warlocks and calling me a reactionary, unemancipated neanderthal. And then they just went off on me."

She (Sam decided he was just going to stick with "she") tried to stop there, but she hadn't counted on Dean's uncanny sixth sense for mortifying details you were trying to gloss over.

"Oh, alright!" Jo snapped after a brief staring match. "I said they didn't know what they were talking about, and they said I was typical and it went both ways and they were warlocks not witches dammit, and I said they should have stuck to management and car repair because no real witch would just make people green and clammy instead of turning them into actual frogs, and then they lost it. And okay, so I underestimated them, but what counts is that I took them down and they aren't going to be cursing anyone anymore!"  

Dean seemed undecided how to react, and Sam thought it was probably a good idea to jump in before his not exactly tactful brother broke into guffaws of laughter.

"Well," he started. He wasn't really sure how to react, either, but you couldn't go wrong with something encouraging. "At least you don't have to worry you'll be stuck. Transformations that affect basic nature can't outlast the new moon, which is only –"

"Wow, Sam, thank you. Not like any hunter worth a damn would know that really basic spellcasting factoid already."

Sam shut up quickly.

When the silence threatened to become awkward, Dean shrugged and grinned, leaning back to inspect Jo from head to toe in a manner that (in Sam's opinion) didn't really help with the looming awkwardness. "So – taken it for a test drive yet?"

At which point Sam left (not "bolted", but "left", thank you, Dean).


In Michigan, Dean was so eager for his chance he almost flung himself into the magic circle in the middle of an ongoing working. Sam barely managed to speak the undoing in time (and inhaled a stinging lungful of sage smoke for his trouble).

The witches seemed content to stare in silence as Dean delivered a fifteen-minute speech that Sam had to admit was pretty effective. If Sam had been a witch (warlock – whatever), he'd definitely have been tempted to do the deed, in spite of the fact he knew he'd just be playing into Dean's hands. Skewed a priori assumptions, infuriating fallacies and nauseating rationales rained down in a rapid-fire rhythm that never faltered or let up, leading to a triumphant close with a riff off the classic "think of the children".

For a second, Sam thought Dean would take a bow, but he contented himself with beaming confidently at the staring women. Sam suppressed the urge to clap.

The silence dragged on just long enough for Dean's victorious grin to start slipping.

"Kakwi gi gowori tozi?" muttered a young witch near the back to her neighbor.

The older witch shrugged. "Neshto za detza, mislya."

Ah. So that was why all of the monsters had been from Slavic folklore.


Real witches just weren't that thick on the ground. Pastor Jim had mentioned once that they were more common in some parts of Asia, Africa and Europe; Sam suspected that the only thing that was saving him from becoming an international witch hunter was the fact that there would have been trans-oceanic flights involved.

Dean sulked for a full month, refusing to say a word or even acknowledge that he was sulking. Then he found a bar, got drunk and finally opened his heart to Sam.

"I wanna have lesbian sex," he whined. "That curse was totally wasted on Jo. I mean, can you see her –"


"It would have been awesome." Dean slumped over his drink, shoulders hunching disconsolately. "Stupid reactionary unemancipated neanderthal witches."  

"I'm sure the hotel has lesbian porn." Sam tried to look consoling, understanding and like a man who had no interest whatsoever in lesbian porn himself, all at the same time. It was a difficult look to pull off, and so it took a moment for Dean's derisive snort to register.

"I don't watch porn anymore," Dean said. "The porn industry exploits women and encourages men to view them as mere objects, Sammy."

Sam would have thought he was joking, but Dean's jaw was set at an unmistakable angle, and the light of battle was in his eye as he waited for Sam to disagree.

The girl who'd been nursing her beer behind Dean did a double-take and scooted a little closer. For a moment Sam thought that this porn thing was some bizarre new flirting technique, but Dean wasn't looking at the girl and evidently hadn't even noticed her yet.

"Uhm," said Sam. "Okay?"

"Lemme buy you a drink, cutie," said the girl. "You have lovely eyes, anyone ever told you that?"

Sam left (not bolted) soon after that.


He was packing their things into the Impala when the stranger assaulted him, catching him around the middle and taking him down in a flying tackle before he could brace himself. It wasn't until he'd wrestled her into an armlock (she was a good fighter, and if she hadn't been laughing and babbling she would probably have given him a lot more trouble) that he noticed she was wearing Dean's jacket.

"Ohmygod Sam, this is going to be so cool!"



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