Puppy Dog Look
Disclaimer: The boys, the car, and the concept belong to Kripke and the CW. The love belongs to us.
Beta'd: This is probably where Phx will say, "I beta'd?" However, the feedback she gave was above and beyond the call of duty and definitely qualifies as beta'ing. That being said, I tinkered with this a lot after she saw it so any errors are mine.
You know my brother, he could give you - this puppy dog look and you'd buy right into it.
-- Dean Winchester, 'Scarecrow'
Dean pocketed the keys to Impala, sparing his sleeping brother one last look before he headed into the convenience store to pay for gas. He jingled the keys, intermingled with coins in his pocket, humming Stairway to Heaven in time to the metallic beat.
He rotated his shoulder a couple of times, loosening the joint. The hunter was looking forward to a night off, just one, after the hellacious night of digging out a grave in heavy, Minnesota black mud. Sam had taken his fair shifts digging too, but it was Dean who had been hit by the escaping, angry spirit who knocked him backwards, his head hitting the marble headstone of Margaret B. Hatcher, Loving Wife and Mother.
He absently rubbed the hot lump, wincing at the twinge of pain. Dean grabbed two waters, a box of doughnuts and a breakfast burrito that didn't look too old from the deli case. One large, steaming coffee and a package of gum for later, he stood at the counter paying the cashier.
"Do you want a punch card?" the teenager asked. She smiled broadly at him, twisting a lock of her Scandinavian ultra-blonde hair.
Not on your life, sweetheart. "Nope, just passing through," he said good-naturedly, handing over two twenty dollar bills.
"They're good at any SuperAmerica." She snapped her gum.
"Okay, throw it in the bag," Dean said. It wasn't worth the effort of fighting the sales pitch. "Thanks."
"You bet," the blonde said, waving a good-bye. "Come back again, handsome."
Dean nodded, smiling. The grin dropped from his face as he turned to walk back to the Impala. His head was pounding like a poltergeist was rapping on it from the inside. He tossed the doughnuts in the back seat through the open window, then opened the door and slid inside. "I'm telling ya, Sammy, there was this girl in there…"
He trailed off when a sloppy, wet tongue licked the side of his face. He pushed himself up against the door, his eyes wide. "Very funny," he said, his voice grew in volume with his ire. "Sam, get the hell over here and get this dog out of my car!"
The black lab banged his tail on the dash, the door, and the seat with every wag.
"Brrrruf!" The canine barked, thumping his tail.
"Oh, you are so dead, little brother," Dean growled, getting out of the car and looking around. "You hear me, Sammy? Dead!"
"Brrruf!" The dog barked a reply from inside the car.
"You," Dean said, leaning in, pointing a finger at the dog. "Stay out of it."
The older man pulled his cell phone from his jacket pocket, hitting speed dial one. The phone rang in his ear, echoing inside the Impala. Dean wrinkled his brow, slowly leaning down to peer into the car.
The adolescent lab was scratching at his brother's coat. Sam's phone slid out of the pocket and the dog picked it up in his mouth.
"No way," Dean whispered. "You're losing it Winchester."
The pup pushed his little brother's phone towards him with his nose. He looked up at Dean expectantly, his tail still banging on the door.
"Sammy?" he asked, leaning further into the car.
"Brrruf!" Another drool-laced kiss from the dog ran up his cheek.
Dean collapsed into the seat. "How did this happen?"
The canine dipped his head, gazing up at Dean with sorrowful, large, brown eyes. He gave a small whimper, then nuzzled Dean's neck.
"Don't worry, kiddo," Dean cooed, softly. He stroked the dog softly. "I'll take care of this."
The dog scooted closer, fitting neatly into the crook of his arm. He huffed, almost horse-like in Dean's ear.
"Give me a break, Sammy," Dean said, reaching over to shut the door. He rolled up his window, flipped on the ignition and pulled out of the station. "I know this sucks, but we'll figure it out."
Sam lifted his head quickly, his hard skull cracking Dean on the jaw. A paw, too large for its owner, scratched the hunter's chest.
"Son of bitch," Dean muttered. "Watch it."
The pup dipped his head, lifting his eyebrows to gaze up at Dean again.
"Okay, okay," Dean chuckled. "Give the look a rest, Sammy."
Another lick to his face and his little brother moved to sit farther on the passenger side. He panted heavily, steaming up the window.
Dean rolled his eyes, pulling out his cell phone again. It was time to call for help. He noticed mud from their grave-digging stuck to Sam's hair, fur? The seat was smeared with it, large chunks on the floorboard. "Great," Dean muttered. "What did you do, roll around in here?"
Sammy turned to look at him, pink tongue lolling out. The corners of his mouth were pulled up into a large grin.
"Very funny, Pinocchio," Dean grumbled. "When you're a real boy again the first thing you're doing is cleaning my car, inside and out."
The canine huffed again, nostrils flaring.
Dean chuckled. "What, you think you were getting out of it?"
The lab turned back to the window, resting his muzzle on the edge of the door. He took a tentative lick on the window, one eye darting over to Dean to catch his reaction. The older man chose to ignore it – for now.
"What?" A gruff voice snapped as the call connected.
"Hey, Bobby," Dean said. "Uh, we need some help."
A low groan sounded. "What kind of trouble did you boys get yourself into now?"
"Um, I'm not really sure how to say this," Dean said, looking over to his little brother.
"Just spit it out, Dean."
"Something happened to Sam."
There was a pregnant pause. "What exactly happened?"
"I dunno, Bobby," Dean said. "I just went in to pay for gas and when I came back…"
"He was a mutt?" Papers rustled in South Dakota.
"Black Lab," Dean corrected. "Sammy's a puppy - literally."
"How do you…?" Another pause. "I don't even want to know." Dean heard footfalls through the phone line, then grunting. "Damn that's heavy. I gotta stop putting these bigger books on the top shelves."
"Yeah, Dean," Bobby said, "What were you boys working on?"
"Simple salt and burn. Angry spirit."
"Yeah, Bobby," Dean said, glancing over at his brother. Sam had licked the entire lower half of the window clean. "Sam, knock it off."
The pup turned around, claws digging mercilessly into the vinyl seats. Dean winced.
"Bobby, we got her, I saw her spirit disappear," Dean said. A beeping sounded in his ear. He sighed, he'd forgotten to charge his phone last night. "My battery's going dead. Call me back on Sam's cell if you lose me."
At the mention of his name, Sam leapt into the back seat, burrowing into the older man's leather jacket. The dog lay on his back in the coat, head resting on the seat, sniffing the collar. Dean clenched his fist. Now there was dog hair inside the coat, but how could he deny his brother a little comfort?
"You guys sure she wasn't a witch?"
There was a heavy sigh. Dean could picture the older man taking of his cap to scratch his head. "Name?"
"Margaret B. Hatcher, Bemidji, Minnesota. 1906-2001." Dean bit back a curse when a large paw hit the lump on his head.
"I'll look into it. Try not to let anything else happen to your brother – or you."
"Just be careful."
The call disconnected as Dean's cell battery died. Irritated with himself for not remembering something so simple, he tossed the phone next to him on the seat. He glanced into the rearview mirror, tilting it to see into the back. Even through the reflection in the glass, he could see the powdered sugar from the forgotten pastries on his jacket and the dog's muzzle. "Next step, a motel and a bath for you."
The whimper from the back nearly melted his resolve until he spotted the white, sugary prints on the seat.
"Oh yeah, little brother," Dean said. "And no more doughnuts."
An hour later, Dean stopped along side the road opening the door for Sam. "Be quick," he admonished. The dog ran through the tall grasses, long, black tail whipping above the waving stalks. The tail traveled in circles, stopping finally by a small tree. A few moments later a blur of dark fur leapt into the car. "Ugh, Sam." Dean's shirt was covered in muddy paw prints.
"Yeah, Yeah," Dean said. "You're still not getting any more doughnuts."
The remaining drive to the motel passed without incident. After checking them in and taking the bags to the room, it was time to get his brother. He opened the passenger door. "Let's go, Sammy."
The canine panted in his face, a warm breath that smelled vaguely of stale meat. He showed no signs of moving.
"Not funny," Dean said. He snapped his fingers and pointed to the open motel room door. "In the room, Sam."
The pup jumped into the back. He sat down, resting his head on the front seat. Sam wriggled his eyebrows, looking up at Dean.
His brother disappeared from view.
Dean sighed, opening the back door. Sam was huddled on the floorboard. "Look, Sam, I'm not mad. Just get in the room."
Sam didn't move.
He sighed again, reaching down to pick up the dog. Sam backpedaled, using his weight as leverage. "Oh, come on!"
Without warning, Sam changed tactics, pushing forward instead, leaping over Dean's head as he fell backwards into a puddle. By the time he picked himself off the ground to stand, his brother was gone. Dean flapped his arms against his sides, stalking into the motel room.
Sitting on the bed closest to the door, remote in his mouth, was Sam. At Dean's glare, the dog dropped the remote, lying down to peer up at his older brother. "Not gonna work, Sam. Not this time," he said. "Let's get you a bath and then I'll call for pizza."
The tail thumped Dean's pillow enthusiastically.
Ironically, Sam seemed to have no aversion to the tub unlike the way he had to simply getting out of the car. He splashed, lapped up soapy water, and belched a meaty, soapy bubble in Dean's face. "I'm going to remind you of this when you're you again," Dean said, a smile teasing his lips. "You just burped in my face, Sam. Do you have any idea how rude that is?"
The strong, ever-wagging tail pushed water out of the tub. A wet tongue slipped into Dean's ear.
"Okay, that one stays between us," Dean whispered conspiratorially.
He toweled off the lab, galvanizing Sam into action. He ran wildly about the room, knocking over a chair and pulling all the blankets off his bed. The hunter stood in the doorway to the bathroom, dripping wet, and dog slobber in his ear. "Well, hell."
Unlike his human self, when the pizza arrived, Sam ate like there was no tomorrow. After which Dean let him out to do his business and the pup drank oily water out of a puddle in the parking lot.
Thunder rolled and Sam froze. His tail stopped moving, nose pointing to the sky. When the first drop of rain fell, he shot like a bullet past Dean into the room. Dean laughed when his brother jumped onto the bed, burying his head under the blankets. "Big, brave, water dog. Bath okay. Rain bad?" A tail thumped Dean's pillow.
He stroked the barely damp fur, while searching for his dead cell phone. There was no way he would forget to charge it again tonight. "I gotta shower now, kiddo," Dean said, sniffing. "I smell like wet dog."
Sam looked up at Dean, waggling his puppy eyebrows.
He sighed, handing the canine a small piece of broken doughnut. It was then he noticed Sam's phone. Deep teeth marks marred the back, the number seven and star key were jammed under the frame, and the screen was cracked and caked with sugar. "Sam!"
The pup stuck his head back under the blankets.
Dean waved a hand in the dog's direction, gathered clean clothes and headed for the bathroom. After a quick shower and a dose of pain killers, the hunter was ready for bed. He glanced over at the large lump in his brother's bed. Apparently, Sam had tired himself out at last. Dean climbed into bed, turning off the light. He was just about to fall asleep when seventy pounds of muscle landed square on his chest.
"Oof," he puffed as all the air was forcibly expelled from his lungs. "Nuh-uh, Sammy. You sleep over there."
The pup lay down next to him, one paw digging into his armpit, head nuzzled into the crook of his neck. The canine sighed.
"Oh jeez, Sammy, that's not playing fair." Dean said. "Bobby will help us figure it out. You'll be fine. I promise." He wrapped an arm around his brother, stroking the puppy soft fur. "I promise." He drifted off to sleep with Sam snoring in his ear.
A loud knocking catapulted Dean to awareness. He slipped the knife out from under his pillow, then padded over to the door. The knock rattled the wood again. He whipped the door open and there stood his six foot four, rain-drenched, exhausted looking, little brother.
"Christo," Sam hissed. His expression changed from concern to thunderous. Dean backed up creating more room for Sam to stomp past him.
"Why'd you leave?" Sam growled.
"I…what?" He was having difficulty adjusting to the sudden shift in reality of his brother being human and not a dog.
Sam grabbed Dean's head with both hands, eyes searching his face. Seemingly satisfied with what he saw, he pushed the older man aside. "Never mind, it doesn't matter right now."
"Okay," Dean said slowly, dragging out the sound.
"But it will later." Sam poked him on the chest to drive home his point.
Sam stumbled for the bathroom muttering something about idiot big brothers who couldn't pick up the damn phone. Dean glanced over at his cell, the screen was black. He'd plugged it in to charge, but hadn't turned it back on. He rubbed the throbbing knot on the back of his head. Maybe he could blame it on a concussion.
Dean heard the water turn on and he wondered briefly if he'd remembered to wipe the dirt ring from the tub. He sat down heavily on the bed, lifting the blankets to search for the dog. A black head popped up, licking him on the cheek. He wiped dog saliva off his face with the back of his hand.
The younger hunter emerged clad only his t-shirt and boxers, crossing the room to sit on the other bed. Sam rested his arms on his legs and hung his head.
"Sam, you," Dean started. "I mean I thought, he…"
Sam gazed up at him through wet bangs. "Dean, are you trying to tell me you thought that dog was me?" Large, hazel eyes met Dean's.
Now that his brother was sitting two feet away from him, he had to admit it sounded pretty crazy. "Well, um…maybe?"
Sam huffed, sounding not unlike his counterpart. "How hard did you hit your head, Dean?" he asked, concern coloring the hazel a darker shade of green. "Do we need to go to the hospital?"
"No, Sam," Dean snapped. "I just, I thought, well he acts just like you!"
Sam raised an eyebrow, puffing a laugh. He lay back on the bed, crossing his arms behind his head. "I guess you're lucky then, Dean."
"Why is that?" he asked, lying down beside the pup.
"Well, if I ever take a knock to the head and confuse you for an animal, there's no way an ass is ever going to fit inside the Impala." A wide grin played on Sam's face, both dimples deepening into his cheeks.
And Dean's head wasn't throbbing too much to stop him from launching a pillow at his brother, hitting him in the face. He switched off the light, smiling as he closed his eyes. This time Sam-the-dog snored in one ear, while Sam-his-brother snored in the other. He hoped the dog enjoyed his stay because first thing tomorrow the puppy was going back.
Dean was almost asleep when a dreadful thought ran through his mind and he groaned. Bobby was never going to let him hear the end of this one!
AN: For six weeks the SPN pic I had as my background on my work computer was a season one picture of Sam, in all his moppy-haired-bangs, sorrowful-puppy-dog-eyes glory. To the point every morning when my computer booted up, I would say, "Puppy!" no matter who was in my office at the time. LOL
In addition, I have three dogs, two pugs and a black lab. The lab recently spent two days at a friend's house keeping her company and I kind of missed the big guy.
I think that's what fostered this story. Either that or it was the tequila on New Year's Eve, but let's go with my first theory, shall we?
Thanks, as always, for reading!