Title: Man's Best Friend
Author: Swanseajill
Genre: Humor, Gen
Rating: PG
Characters: Sam, Dean
Spoilers: None
Disclaimer: Don't own them, making no money from them.

Summary: Sam uncovers one of Dean's hidden fears as the boys attempt an unusual exorcism.

Author's Notes: This story previously appeared in Brotherhood 4 (2008), from Pyramids Press. Grateful thanks to stealthyone and the editors at Pyramids press. NB I'm posting this now because I thought it would be a bit of light relief from all the heavy angst around at the moment!


As Dean dove headlong through the open front doorway, Sam quickly slammed the solid oak door shut behind them. He leaned back against it with a sigh of relief, wincing as the wood reverberated from the force of the body hurling itself against it.

Meanwhile, Dean's forward momentum propelled him across the manicured lawn until he rolled to an abrupt halt on his ass in a bed of petunias.

"You okay?" Sam called.

Dean groaned theatrically from his now prostrate position on the ground. "Man. That thing's a monster."

Sam backed a few tentative steps away from the door as the ferocious growls from within died down a little. Sure, the dog sounded vicious, but they had to keep a sense of proportion here. He looked across at Dean, who had clambered to his feet and was standing on the lawn, disgustedly brushing soft, well-fertilized soil and a few purple petals off his jeans.

"Dean, you're overreacting."

"Overreacting?" Dean tugged off his overshirt and stabbed a finger at a large, ragged tear across the back. "Dude, it was trying to kill me!"

"I know, but face it, Dean," Sam said reasonably, "it's hardly a Rottweiler. How much damage could it've actually done?"

Dean looked outraged. "It may not be a Rottweiler, but the damn thing has teeth like razors! I'm lucky to be alive!"

Sam grinned. "Just think, if it had killed you, your tombstone could have read, 'Here lies Dean Winchester, mighty hunter, finally brought to his knees by a savage Chihuahua.'"

Dean glared. "A possessed Chihuahua."

Sam threw his hands up. "Okay, okay. You have a point."

"Damn right." Dean stalked to the Impala, parked on the road outside the imposing Victorian house, and popped the trunk. "Sooner we blast the thing out of existence, the better."

"What?" Sam hurried after him. "Dean, you can't shoot her!"

Dean paused and peered at Sam around the lid of the trunk. "Why the hell not?"

"Dean! She's just a… She's a Chihuahua!"

"So you keep saying. And I keep having to remind you, it's a possessed Chihuahua."

Sam rolled his eyes. "I know she's possessed, but that doesn't mean we have to kill her."

"Why not?"

Sometimes, Sam worried about his brother. "First off," he explained patiently, "you can't kill something that fits in the palm of your hand. It just isn't right. And second," he went on hurriedly as Dean opened his mouth with the clear intention of disagreeing, "you seem to have forgotten that little Tinkerbell is Mrs. Peabody's much-loved pet."

Dean didn't look impressed. "Desperate times call for desperate measures, Sammy."

"You are not going to blast away an eighty-five year-old woman's only friend."

"No? Just watch me!" Dean hefted the shotgun and challengingly waggled his eyebrows.

"Dean!"

"Oh, all right." Dean's expression turned thoughtful. "How about we smother it with a blanket? It'll be quick. It won't suffer."

"No!"

"Poison?"

Sam shook his head. He knew Dean didn't much like dogs, but this sudden desire to blast away a harmless—albeit possessed—little animal was kind of extreme, even for him.

Dean huffed. "Well, what do you suggest then, dog lover?"

Wasn't it obvious? "We'll exorcise her."

Dean gave him an incredulous look. "Exorcise it?"

"Yeah. And try thinking of her as a 'she,' not an 'it.'"

"You want to exorcise a dog."

"Why not? It's not Tinkerbell's fault she's possessed."

Dean opened and shut his mouth a few times in an uncannily accurate imitation of a fish taking in air.

Sam smiled smugly. There was no arguing hard facts.

Eventually, Dean shrugged. "What the hell. Let's do it. I take it you have a plan?"

"Well, I was thinking that you can keep the dog occupied while I read the incantation."

Dean's eyebrows shot up. "Nice, Sammy. Here's another plan. How about you keep little Tinkerbell occupied while I read the incantation?"

"I'd be happy to, but you're the one she's attracted to," Sam said reasonably.

Dean snorted. "Careful with your choice of words, Sam. And you seem to have forgotten it tried to tear my throat out."

"Exactly," Sam said smugly. "She ignored me and went straight for you. What's the problem? I thought you liked your women feisty?"

Dean did the fish thing again.

Sam folded his arms, raised an eyebrow, and waited.

Dean sighed expressively.

"Good," Sam said, taking that as a sign of Dean's acquiescence. "Let's go get this over with."

They started to walk back to the house.

"So, how do you suggest I keep it occupied?" Dean asked casually.

"Her," Sam corrected. "I don't know. Use your imagination. Do I have to do all the thinking?"

"Why not? You're the college geek."

Sam rolled his eyes.

Dean sighed. "Okay, fine. I'll just let it sink its fangs into my jugular, and you can read your damned incantation while my life blood's pumping out onto the floor."

Sam grinned. "Sounds like a plan to me."

They cautiously approached the front door of the house. After a slight hesitation, Dean leaned in and put his ear against the wood.

"It's all quiet in there. What d'you think it's doing?"

Sam shrugged. "Maybe she's taking a nap."

Dean gave him a withering look. "Yeah, right. More like sharpening its teeth on a steel girder or something."

Sam snorted a laugh. "I don't think Mrs. Peabody has any steel girders in her hall. So, how are we going to get back in?"

"Well…we could try the door," Dean suggested with what Sam felt was an uncalled for hint of sarcasm.

"We can't use the front door, she might escape. We locked her in the hall, remember? We can't risk her getting loose in the neighborhood."

"Fine, we'll go in through the back. You can get to the hall from the kitchen."

They walked down the path to the side of the house, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. While they'd convinced Mrs. Peabody they were off-duty police-dog handlers who just happened to turn up at her guesthouse looking for a room for the night, it would be wise not to push their luck too far.

As they reached the back door, Sam glanced up at the neighboring house and saw Mrs. Peabody peering out of the kitchen window, an anxious expression on her face. He waved cheerfully and gave her an encouraging smile.

Dean opened the back door as quietly as possible, and they stepped into the spacious, well-equipped kitchen, stopping to listen. All was quiet. They exchanged glances and walked softly across the room to the door that stood between them and the hallway.

Sam opened their Dad's journal to the right page. "Ready?"

"No!"

Sam frowned as Dean swallowed uneasily and refused to meet his eyes. "What now?"

"How about we knock it out, just to keep it quiet, while you do the ritual?"

Sam shook his head. "Too risky—you might hit her too hard and kill her. Dean, what's the problem? Just get in there and…subdue her."

"Right," Dean muttered. "I can do this. I'll get in there and subdue her. It's just a Chihuahua, right?"

"Right," Sam agreed in what he hoped was an encouraging tone. He couldn't work out why Dean was so jumpy about this. Dean Winchester, the man who'd faced down a wendigo without flinching. Sam was seriously beginning to wonder if his brother had experienced some kind of childhood Chihuahua trauma.

"Dean…is there something you want to tell me?"

Dean narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "What about?"

"Like, did you have some kind of experience with a small dog when you were a kid?"

"I… What? No! What the hell are you talking about?"

"I don't know. Were you were attacked by a Chihuahua in your stroller or something?"

Dean gave him an odd look, flushed red, and cleared his throat.

No way. "Dean, you're kidding me. You got savaged by a Chihuahua in your stroller?"

"I didn't say that! I just don't like yappy little dogs, okay?"

Sam wasn't convinced. "Look, if you really want me to do it…"

Dean sighed again. "Nah, I'm good. You'd probably crush it to death in those ginormous mitts. Let's just get on with it."

Sam took hold of the doorknob and glanced at Dean, who nodded. He pulled the door open, and Dean edged into the hallway. Sam followed cautiously, senses on full alert.

The wide, long hallway was dark and gloomy. Large ferns in enormous planters were placed at intervals, interspersed with pieces of antique furniture. Their foe was nowhere in sight.

"Here, doggie, doggie," Dean called softly, walking gingerly into the center of the hallway. "Nice doggie…"

A snuffling sound followed by a low growl revealed Tinkerbell's hiding place behind one of the plants at the far end of the hall. Dean shot a nervous glance at Sam and took a step toward it.

The Chihuahua stepped out from behind the planter. Wide green eyes met manic liquid brown. Then the brown morphed into black as the dog bared its teeth and took off across the room.

Sam had never seen a dog fly. Really, it was quite impressive, the height the diminutive animal gained as it launched itself through the air, landing with all four paws splayed on Dean's chest. Dean let out a startled yell, staggered backward, and tripped over an antique ottoman. The ottoman tipped over with an almighty crash, and Sam winced in sympathy as Dean landed heavily on his back, the dog grasped firmly in both hands.

"Dean!" Sam called as he hastily found the first line of the ancient Latin ritual. "You okay?"

Dean held the wriggling animal as far away from his body as possible and ground out, "Just…start…reading!"

Sam began to recite aloud, frowning in concentration to ensure the correct pronunciation of the Latin words.

The dog squirmed, letting out ferocious high-pitched and very unnatural shrieks as it tried to fasten its teeth onto Dean's neck.

"Shit, this thing's some kinda superdog!"Dean gasped.

Sam glanced up, and what he saw worried him. Small the animal might be, but it did seem to be taking all of Dean's not inconsiderable strength to keep the little dog at bay. That wasn't normal.

He began to read a little faster.

The dog's yelping rose to a crescendo, its body writhing desperately in Dean's grasp.

"Move it, Sam! I can't hold on much longer!"

Sam raced through the final few words of Latin and looked up expectantly.

The dog jerked violently and let out an unearthly scream. Dean's grip gave way and, with a final squirm, the dog broke free and fell to the ground beside him with a yelp. Immediately, a stream of black flowed from its mouth and disappeared through the crack under the front door.

Sam breathed a sigh of relief.

Dean flopped back, limbs splayed, chest heaving.

Tinkerbell rolled onto her back, all four legs in the air, panting heavily.

Bizarrely, Dean and Tinkerbell both wore identical expressions of relief that almost had Sam reaching for his cell: it would make an awesome photo. He was relieved to note that only one of them had their tongue lolling out of the corner of their mouth.

He watched, fascinated, as they simultaneously turned their heads towards each other. Green and brown eyes locked for a moment in what Sam later solemnly assured Dean was a moment of profound bonding. Then Tinkerbell let out a small whine and scrambled up onto Dean's chest, tongue darting out to cover his face with adoring kisses.

"Mmnph!" Dean said.

Mrs. Peabody bustled into the hall. "Boys, are you all right? I know you told me to stay at dear Norma's, but I heard the most terrible— There you are!" Her anxious expression morphed into one of delight as she looked across at Dean and Tinkerbell. She turned to Sam, beaming. "Just look at that! Tinkerbell's quite back to her old self. She's taken a real liking to Dean, hasn't she?"

"Aargh…get…this fu— mmph —ellspawn…off me!"

"What was that, dear?"

"He said, he's taken a real liking to Tinkerbell, too," Sam supplied hastily, before Dean could utter anything more coherent.

Sam bent down, grasped the little dog in both hands, lifted her forcefully off his brother, and handed her quickly to her doting owner. He grabbed a large embroidered doily from a nearby table and surreptitiously handed it to Dean. Then he took Mrs. Peabody's arm, leading her and Tinkerbell away from his spluttering, red-faced brother, who was now wiping his face disgustedly with the doily.

"I don't think you'll have any more trouble with Tinkerbell, Mrs. Peabody. She just needed some firm handling, is all."

"That's wonderful! I was so worried. Dear Dean really has a way with animals, doesn't he?"

"Top of his class at the academy," Sam said, then cleared his throat noisily to drown out Dean's loud, contemptuous snort.

Mrs. Peabody beamed as Tinkerbell began to thoroughly lick her face. "Well, I hardly know how to thank you boys."

"No need to thank us. We were happy to help," Sam said, gaze flicking toward the kitchen door. "Mrs. Peabody, why don't you take Tinkerbell into the garden for a run?"

"I think I will. She isn't used to being cooped up inside. When you boys are ready, you come on outside, and I'll fetch you some homemade lemonade and apple pie."

"Really, it's not necessary…," Sam began.

"I insist. It's the least I can do." She looked down fondly at the little dog in her arms and laughed as Tinkerbell licked her nose. "Come along, darling. We'll go and play 'fetch.' You know you love that game…"

Mrs. Peabody's voice faded as she and Tinkerbell disappeared into the kitchen. Sam blew out a breath and went to Dean, who was climbing to his feet. He winced as he straightened, rubbing his back.

"You okay?" Sam had forgotten that Dean had landed pretty hard on the ground when he fell over the ottoman.

"Yeah. No thanks to dear little Tinkerbell." Dean slapped the now saliva-sodden doily back into Sam's hand.

Sam wrinkled his nose in disgust. "Thanks."

Dean smirked. "Don't mention it. If you'd prefer a firsthand, slobbery necking session with man's best friend, I'm sure I could arrange it."

"Think I'll pass," Sam said with feeling, but couldn't resist adding, "I told you Tinkerbell was attracted to you."

"Sam—" Dean growled.

Sam chuckled. "So, you should be feeling pretty pleased with yourself. The way you 'subdued' that ferocious beast was an object lesson for all hunters everywhere."

"Bite me."

Sam grinned. He'd let it go – for now. The mighty Dean Winchester had almost been overpowered by a cute miniature dog. Sam had the rest of his life to tease his brother about it.

And he intended to do so at every possible opportunity.

He clapped Dean on the shoulder. "Let's go find Mrs. Peabody. She said there's pie."

"That's something," Dean conceded. "But it'd better be the best freakin' apple pie I've ever eaten, or there's gonna be stewed Tinkerbell on the menu for dinner."

Sam grinned and led the way back through the kitchen to the garden. "Now, about the Chihuahua and the stroller…"

The End