Dad, Can I Keep Him?
When Sam saw the Impala parked in the drive, he felt a small twinge of apprehension curling in his stomach. They were staying at Pastor Jim's – the extra house 'round the back of the property for a few months while Sam finished up the school year, and Dean went along with Dad on some hunting trips. Sometimes they were gone a few days or even weeks at a time. Sam hadn't seen them for four days, and he remembered that Dad had said they wouldn't return for another three.
Either the hunt was successful and they had finished early, or something went wrong. He had hoped for those three extra days alone because he knew Dad would suggest he tag along for the next gig, and Sam dreaded the idea. Of all the things he thought would greet him when he entered through the front door, a dog lounging on the sofa was not one of them.
Its head lifted upon his entrance, floppy brown ears perked then flattened, and a rather human-like, disparaging expression flashed across its face. He started, eyes wide and his hand still gripping the doorknob with white knuckles. He wasn't afraid of dogs. In truth, he loved them and always wanted one even on the road, but he didn't actually think his dad would go through with it after all the begging he'd done just a few months ago. No… Dad wouldn't. Sam's twelfth birthday passed six months ago and that was the last time he had ventured the subject, after Dean had smacked him across the head and told him to shut his cake-hole.
Most likely just a stray that had wandered in; they came around here pretty often.
He closed the door, peering at the dog with an almost skeptical, vigilant stare before he stepped forward, his hand outstretched. It was an automatic reaction, reaching out to pet the animal, but he had a feeling this one wouldn't like it very much. Usually dogs were ecstatic greeting humans, bouncing around, wagging their tails and licking with glee, but this one didn't move from its curled position on the sofa. Not even a spark of interest in its gaze.
It looked like a cross between a German shepherd and a Chow – golden brown coat with speckles of black and white, short but coarse, and a black-tapered tail. Head resting on its paws, it almost appeared sad – large dark eyes regarding Sam with mild… disappointment? Was it sick? Tired? Or maybe it just didn't like people?
"It's okay," he cooed, smiling wide, while reaching out to pat the dog on the head. Without lifting its head, its eyes followed Sam's hand descending with weary regard.
"Sam? Is that you?" his dad called from the kitchen.
"Dad?" Brow raised, Sam left the dog in the living room along with his backpack and tennis shoes, and ventured into the kitchen. He found Dad at the small, round table with books and papers scattered across the surface in wild disarray. Dad looked frazzled, fingers plowed in his hair, holding his head upright over the book his eyes scanned. He didn't look up when Sam entered and he leaned over a chair back, peering down at the research material: books on spells, witches, hoodoo, and shape shifters.
Something was definitely wrong.
"Dad? Where's Dean?"
The dog had entered the kitchen behind Sam without him noticing, and it made a sound that matched an exasperated growl. Surprised, Sam looked down. His eyes felt as if they would bulge right out of their sockets – just like the Looney Tunes characters on Saturday morning TV. He gaped like a fish, pointing at the dog as if it would sprout horns and a pitchfork, and then at Dad. "That's… that's…"
"Yes," Dad said, sighing and displeased, "It's your brother."
He almost wanted to laugh, but the sudden shock quenched that urge. All he could manage was a stunned stare, studying the medium-sized animal with awe. How the hell did that happen? If he knew any better, he'd later say the dog – Dean, ha! – had actually challenged him to say something or even crack a joke. Give Dean any reason to retaliate; those dark eyes narrowed and an expectant, annoyed look crossed the animal's face.
"How? What happened?"
Dad looked up, narrowed his eyes at Sam before averting his gaze toward Dean. The look grew darker, disappointed and filled with agitation. "I'd say ask your brother…" he trailed off and his lips dropped into a discomforting frown. He shook his head before he resumed his research, not adding any more.
Dad was really upset. No, that was an understatement. He was pissed, underlined with worry.
The dog growled, more incensed than an angry gesture, as he lay down on the floor. Legs spread out on either end he placed his face between his front paws and stared up at Dad and Sam with a pleading look. It disappeared just as quickly as it came, and Sam knew that this had made a major dent in Dean's pride. Most likely it had involved some woman…
"Is it a spell?"
"Yes," Dad grunted. "More like punishment for a month."
Sam choked, staring at his brother incredulously. "You mean… he has to stay like this… for a month?" The laughter couldn't be contained, and he curled in on himself, clutching his stomach as he gasped with mirth. "Oh, Dean!"
Nonchalant, yet fuming, Dean padded into the living room, nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He stood straight, blinking back amused tears, watching his brother as Dean wandered over to Sam's belongings on the floor – his backpack full of his favorite books and his good tennis shoes. He knew, felt it when the warning bells shrieked in his mind, even before Dean's hind leg rose, and Sam yelped. Lunging forward, hands spread outward, he ran toward Dean.
The mischievous sparkle in the dog's eyes was clear, but Dean complied. Only a warning, but it had the effect that he desired. Sam scowled. "Jerk," he muttered, scooping his things in his arms and holding them like a newborn babe to his chest. He stuck out his tongue at Dean and placed his stuff out of reach before they returned to the kitchen. "So, what was it?"
"Hoodoo," Dad answered, annoyance more apparent in his tone as he pushed one book away, revealing another open underneath. "We were working the job in N'awlins with the help of a Mambo."
Sam snickered, eyeing Dean on the kitchen floor. Their eyes met for a moment, then Dean looked away, as if bored, but Sam knew it was shame. "Did he hit on the Mambo's daughter or something?" A soft, annoyed growl responded from the floor and Sam's smirk widened. "Oh! He did, huh?"
Grim-faced, Dad sighed and pushed the books away from him. With his chin propped in his big hands, he glared at Dean over the length of the tabletop. "Maybe this'll teach you a lesson, huh?"
Though Sam knew that Dean would've barked out a "Yes, sir!" faster than he could blink, the look in the dog's eyes said otherwise, and he ambled off into the living room – or some other part of the house, nails clicking a steady rhythm across the wooden planks again. Soon the sound disappeared, and an awkward silence lingered.
Nodding, Sam knew it would take a lot more than a Hoodoo priestess changing Dean into exactly what most females considered him (if he chose the wrong ones to beguile with his 'charm'). Sam wished he had witnessed the transformation, had seen what reaction had etched Dean's face.
Dean, without a doubt, deserved this. If not for all those stupid pranks he had pulled. Sam still hadn't forgotten the superglue in his shoes. He frowned at the memory; the strong acetone smell wafting through the motel they were staying in at the time, having to cut his shoes apart so his soles were easily accessible, and Dean's snickering from outside the bathroom while Sam had perched on the edge of the tub, tears streaming down his face in frustration. Though Dad had made Dean pay for a new pair, Sam had loved those shoes.
After that incident, he had wanted Dean to suffer a slow agonizing death, but this far exceeded the mischievous plots Sam had planned. The humiliation that Dean was experiencing was enough to satisfy a year's worth of evening the score. Grinning from ear to ear, Sam asked, "Was it a body switch or shape shift?"
"Shape shift and stop grinning."
The smile faltered and Sam looked away from Dad when the amusement couldn't be restrained fast enough. Hand over his mouth, small snickers escaping, he wandered toward the living room just as his father's clipped tone called him back. "Dad, I have homework—"
"After you help me with this," Dad countered, pushing a book forward for Sam to take. "Your brother can't stay like this for a month, Sammy. I need all the help I can get."
Sam stared at the book as if would catch fire. "But Dad—"
Closing his mouth, Sam snatched the book with a huff and tucked it under his arm. He said through gritted teeth, "Yessir," and stomped out of the kitchen.
He ventured onto the wrap-around terrace and found Dean perched on the porch's steps, front paws dangling over the edge and head hanging low. Dark eyes regarded the field stretched out before them with a calm indifference and Sam sighed, lifting his shoulder in a dramatic shrug. He sat cross-legged next to his brother, but Dean barely acknowledged his presence. Probably in a piss-poor mood and Dean continued sulking.
Lips twitching, Sam lowered his face to hide the amusement, but he couldn't keep his shoulders from shaking with silent laughter. He tried suppressing the little snorts and giggles emerging, but it became futile. When he felt movement beside him, he saw Dean leaving, and he gasped out a, "No, I'm sorry. You don't need to leave. I'll stop." One more snort escaped and the ire in Dean's eyes blazed, lips curling back as if threatened. Sam held up his hands in defense, smile wide and innocent. "M'sorry…sorry."
Sam was surprised that Dean relented and stayed, although reluctantly. A moment of secure silence stretched between the two, and Sam relished it. Even when his brother sported a full mouth of sharp, pointy teeth, fur, fleas and kind of smelled like grass and sweat (well, he usually had that trait in human form anyway), he still was Sam's big brother and Sam found comfort in Dean's company.
A pleasant smile came to Sam's lips while his hand lowered and stroked the soft fur between Dean's shoulder blades, fingers dipping through thick hair and scratching the skin there. At first he felt tension coiling muscles too tight, but they soon relaxed and Dean inhaled deeply, letting out a big, contented sigh.
The nights were getting cooler and darker, but the chirps and whirs from crickets and other wood critters still made it feel like a hot summer day waning into the sunset. Sam liked these nights – where the warm days quickly turned cool and enjoyable for long walks in the woods. Most of Pastor Jim's property was fenced in to keep out wandering game hunters, but the land was expansive and very old, passed down many generations.
"Hey, you wanna race me to the end of the field? I bet I can still beat ya!"
Thanks to Skiaria for the beta job. :)