Title: Good Boy
Summary: Dean huffed and trotted away from the door and toward the old couch that had come with the room. He lifted his leg. It was going to be a long month.
Warnings: Crack. But dark. Confused? Now you have to read.
A/N: So I was plotting a story similar to this one the night before I got my prompt for the Groped by an Angel community fic exchange. The prompt was "Dean gets turned into a small, cute, furry animal. Castiel tries to help. Sam tries not to lose his mind."
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. *pouts*
He supposed it would have been amusing if he hadn't known the story behind it. Or what people called "cute," at least. A small dog with wiry fur and large expressive eyes sitting in an empty parking space outside the motel, whimpering softly. No tags, no collar. He knew of these things because he'd already purchased them in anticipation. This city had a strict leash law, and he didn't want to lose the dog.
He approached the animal and knelt on the ground, dipping his head to stare at it. So small. He'd been expecting something bigger, something threatening. This seemed like a joke, and for a moment he wondered if he was wrong. Then the dog gained its feet and began growling. No, he was right.
He stood and turned back to the road. "I've acquired an apartment not far from here. I suggest you come with me unless you want to end up in the pound."
The dog just glared at him and continued growling.
"Your brother isn't coming back. He left to find an explanation, unable to see what was right under his nose." He glanced over his shoulder at the dog, which had fallen silent, and sighed. It looked so small, so sad. Lost. Homeless. Without faith.
He began to walk, waiting for the dog to follow. It sat back in its spot and stared at the ground, taking up its pitiful song once again. That was fine. He knew how to deal with this particular creature.
With another sigh, Castiel patted his leg. "Dean," he commanded. "Come."
Behind him, the dog perked up its ears and stood. Before long, it had fallen into step beside him, unable, as always, to disobey a direct order - no matter who it was from.
The apartment was small - one bedroom, one bath, a kitchen, and a sitting room. It had come completely furnished and the landlord allowed pets. It was perfect.
Castiel closed the door as soon as Dean had trotted through it. "You're a border terrier." The dog looked up at him and growled. "But you already knew that."
It was suddenly, eerily silent in the apartment. He'd never realized how accustomed he'd become to Dean's constant jokes and remarks, the cacophony of sounds which weren't words, the amount of space his human body had taken up.
Dean was staring up at him, and he pondered for a moment how odd that must have been, staring up. Up at him. Dean had been used to staring up at Sam for a while.
A small groan, and Castiel narrowed his eyes. "I don't understand." Which hurt. Ordinarily, when not trapped within the flesh of another, he would have known exactly what Dean had said, or tried to say, but now he was limited. He was contained. He'd never been sickened by the thought before.
Dean hunched up, making himself seem even smaller than he currently was, and glared. Like he'd expected Castiel to just know what was wrong and to fix it. Like he'd thought the angel would understand him, be able to read his mind, or… oh.
He'd been preoccupied. News had gone out among the Host that something big was going to happen, something to change the very tide of the war, and then there was his assignment and the apartment and the pet store and his mind was still reeling. Tide changing? Really? It seemed more like a punishment.
He slipped effortlessly into Dean's mind, skimming the surface, looking for the most immediate questions, the ones for which he could provide an answer. He pulled out and nodded. "It was a curse. The last witch you faced had friends and they decided to retaliate. Sam didn't recognize you. He won't be coming back. It shouldn't last more than a month."
Dean moaned, still glaring up at him. He didn't need to be a mind-reader to know what that look meant.
"I can't fix it. The witches were strong. It would require an equally powerful spell coupled with a sacrifice. You can stay here until the curse runs its course."
A cock of the head and a whine. Large eyes. The same position he'd been sitting in when Castiel had found him.
"I can't take you to Sam." And he couldn't even explain why. To do so would be to reveal himself and his own part in it and he knew he would lose Dean if he did so. To say more would be suicide. "He'll be fine."
Dean huffed and trotted away from the door and toward the old couch that had come with the room. He lifted his leg.
It was going to be a long month.
Sam paced back and forth in his new motel room. He was about a mile outside of the town where Dean had disappeared. He would have liked to stay closer, to do a little digging, to look through their last shared room for anything - carvings, hexbags, something - but he'd been distracted.
That damn dog. The little one with the black and tan fur and the big expressive eyes. The one that had woken him up in the morning by jumping on him. Stupid thing must have gotten in when Dean had left. Sam was going to have to teach his brother the proper way to close a door when he found him.
Because Dean had left and his keys and clothes and cell were still in the room. So he'd probably been cursed. Or kidnapped. Or something equally unpleasant.
But that dog. The one that had walked right up to the Impala after Sam had thrown the mutt out. The one that had looked up at him all hurt and sad and scared. Kind of like Dean looked at him when things went south. After Dean had gone south.
Dean, who had even left his necklace behind.
And, dammit, this was getting him nowhere. Where was Ruby when he needed her? Where was Dean? Or how about those angels that claimed to like him so much? Where was anyone that Sam needed when he needed them?
Maybe he should have stayed. He could have at least run theories past the dog. The one with the deep, needy eyes. The one that had tried to jump in the car as he was packing up. The one that had just looked so much like Dean, but Sam had brushed it off because he'd been freaking out about his brother and even the wallpaper reminded him of Dean.
Yeah, that one.
Maybe he could have even named it Dean.
He laughed as a random thought - what if it was Dean?- passed through his mind. Of course, weirder things had been known to happen. Dean The Atheist being chosen by God to save the world being the most recent on the Winchesters' long list. So, maybe…
Sam grabbed his brother's keys and ran out to the car. He had a stray dog to interrogate.
Dean stared at the objects in Castiel's hand and snorted.
"It's the law," the angel reasoned. Dean turned his nose up. "It's the only way you can go out." Dean shook his head. "You would rather stay in here for a month?"
That was a stupid question. He didn't even need to look inside the hunter's mind to find the answer. Dean would rather have two legs, fur-less skin, and his brother.
With a whine, Dean trotted over to the door and lowered his head. It was almost like a bow, a sign of subservience, and for a brief moment, Castiel imagined that perhaps a month would be excessive.
But then reason set in and he realized that he'd simply gotten through to his charge. Logic ruled the day.
He slid the leather collar around Dean's neck and tightened it before attaching the leash. "That wasn't so hard."
Dean growled at him and moved to step forward, stopping when he heard something jingle. He tried to look down at the tags around his neck, but couldn't see them. He looked up at Castiel, demanding an explanation with his eyes.
"So you don't get lost. Your name, and this address."
The dog cocked his head, eyes cast down, still trying to get a look at the slim metal. There was something in his posture, the slow back and forth movement of his tail - and that was new, something that Castiel hadn't seen since picking him up at the motel - that warranted further investigation.
The angel was curious, so he took a peek.
Home? Come back? Want me back?
Castiel sighed. Disjointed thoughts. Hard to follow. Odd, seeing as how Dean had been able to form complete sentences in his head just that morning.
"Yes, Dean. You have a home. I want you to come back."
Dean blinked, his little tail picking up speed, and for a moment the angel was confused. Such a small action, but what did it mean? He'd spent his time watching Dean, watching humans, the things that he was supposed to save. He'd never bothered with their pets.
And then it hit him, sharp and clear and out of the recesses of his vessel's memory. Happiness. The tail wagging meant Dean was happy. But why?
Sam pulled into the motel's parking lot and felt his heart sink. Nothing. No dog. No Dean.
Of course, he could always be jumping to conclusions. He could be overreacting. At any other time, he'd dismiss animal transformation as the bizarre dream of someone on crack, but that dog… and Dean…
He asked the manager of the motel if he'd seen the dog. The gnarled old man said he'd seen some official-looking guy take the mutt. Sam asked where the pound was. On second street, but it would already be closed for the weekend.
So, Sam would have to wait. He wasn't very good at that when it came to Dean.
The dog he was looking for was a border terrier. Maybe a mix. Not that it mattered. Pound didn't have one. None of the shelters Sam checked after waiting three days - because pointless holidays hated the Winchesters as much as monsters - had anything that looked like Dean. Or the dog that he assumed was Dean. He didn't have any proof.
So someone had taken his brother. Someone 'official-looking,' and Sam actually had a few ideas on who that could be. There were angels or demons. So that narrowed it down to a couple million souls, he assumed, because while the angels' numbers were limited, the demons' just kept growing.
He was right back where he started.
Dean's tail wagged whenever they walked through the door to the apartment. It had done that for the whole first week, starting out strong and growing more sluggish as time passed.
Castiel was fascinated by this. It seemed that Dean had no control over it, couldn't make it stop, maybe didn't want to. And he still couldn't figure out what was making the dog so happy.
He was sitting on the couch with the television - also provided with the room - turned on. It was mindless noise and flashing pictures, but Dean, curled beside him and warm against his leg, seemed to enjoy it.
He knew it wasn't part of the plan, wasn't beneficial in any way, but it couldn't hurt. The dog seemed content, seemed at home. He was calm. No barking or growling or whining. No muddled thoughts. Simply being.
Dean still had nightmares, even as a dog. Horrific dreams of Hell. The panting and the shaking and the howling woke Castiel nearly every night. When that happened, Castiel woke Dean, and the dog scampered back, tail tucked between his legs - a sign of sadness or fear, the vessel supplied - and whined. His eyes glowed in the darkness, and he always thought of rejection, of cold concrete, of strange people and locked cages and being alone. Of not having a home. Of abandonment.
Those thoughts had nothing to do with Hell and everything to do with Castiel's wakefulness.
Absently, he reached out and stroked the course fur on Dean's back. It was rough under his fingers, but it seemed to relax the hunter. Castiel smiled. "Good boy."
Dean stiffened under his hand, ears perking up, and turned his head to look at the angel. The dog was staring, his tail wagging, hitting Castiel so hard that it almost hurt. And again, he had no idea why.
So he reached out, dug in deep, and found Dean's thoughts.
Can't lie. Can't lie. Not possible. Must be true, then. Must be good. Gotta be good. People like good. Good. Can't lie. Must be true. Gotta be good.
He wondered briefly if the transformation was doing something to Dean's mind. He wondered why the hunter's thoughts were only so disjointed and meaningless when he was happy. He wondered why Dean thought he wasn't good, even when the proof of that was sitting right beside him.
Mostly, he wondered why Dean thought he couldn't lie. Telling the truth was preferable, yes, but in certain situations, lying was just better. Like this one, now. It was a betrayal of trust, and it hurt him and he prayed every night that he was doing the right thing. But Dean was happy and Dean liked being told he was good, so maybe trust didn't matter at the moment. Not really.
Trust wasn't even what they were looking for. It was something much greater.
He reached out and scratched Dean's ears. "Good boy."
He could have sworn the dog smiled at him.
Sam was desperate. Two and a half weeks without Dean. Two and a half weeks, and he didn't know where his brother was, had searched all over town for that dog, for Dean, for anything, and always came back empty-handed.
So, yeah, Sam was getting a little desperate.
He'd gotten Bobby to give him the summoning ritual. He was pretty sure it wouldn't work, pretty sure that the first time had been a fluke, or necessity, or something. He wasn't the important one.
Flames and chanting and waiting. Waiting and waiting and waiting, and Sam was suddenly sure that he'd been right. Cas had needed to talk to Dean, so he'd gone to the barn. Nothing had pulled him there.
Suddenly, though, Sam wasn't alone in the room. Castiel was standing by the door in that same stupid trench coat and sloppy suit. "Your brother's fine."
Sam hadn't even opened his mouth to ask the question, but apparently that didn't matter. "Where is he?"
Something was off. Sam couldn't place it, but Castiel looked almost guilty. That didn't seem possible. "Witches?"
"Yes. Your last hunt had friends. They cursed your brother."
"He's a dog, isn't he?"
Cas nodded. "Yes."
"Can I see him?"
"No." That was definitely guilt. The way that the creepy blue stare turned away, the drop in the angel's voice. Guilt. "I will return him to you once the curse is lifted."
"When's that gonna be?"
"Within a month. Don't worry. He's being taken care of."
Somehow, Sam doubted that. He didn't get a chance to express his doubt, though. Castiel disappeared when he blinked. At least he knew Dean was in semi-capable hands. The angel wouldn't kill the person he'd pulled out of Hell.
Castiel returned to the apartment to find Dean huddled in a corner, whimpering. It was unbecoming of him, God's chosen warrior, scared and crying in a corner.
"I came back."
Ears perked. A tail wagged. Dean was standing before him in an instant, looking up expectantly. Castiel reached down and petted him, marveling at the change that had come over the hunter in only a few short weeks.
Something was wrong. Something was terribly wrong.
Dean did many things to please him. Always asking to go to the bathroom, for instance, instead of eliminating on the furniture. Not making a mess of everything he could get into. There was no biting, no more growling. Nothing but whining and whimpering and the wagging of that unstoppable tail.
They were in the park. They'd had a conversation in a park once, a long time ago. That was back when Dean could speak, when he thought in complete sentences, when he dreamed of more than just being considered good.
The month was almost up, and Castiel was afraid he'd ruined everything. The great plan and their one chance to win the war. He felt as if he'd ruined Dean.
The dog trotted up to him, carrying a stick in his mouth. Castiel took it and praised him, calling him good and smart and everything that he knew Dean liked to hear. He tossed the stick and watched the once-proud hunter chase after it.
"What have I done?" the angel whispered.
His only answer was a deep chuckle. He glanced up to see Uriel standing beside him, smiling. "You did what was asked," the other angel replied.
"I was under the impression that we were looking for obedience from him," Castiel said. "To make him listen and work with us without fighting every step of the way. I was supposed to care for him, earn his trust, and-"
"And get him away from that half-breed brother of his. You've done your job."
"I think I broke him."
"No." There was a glint of something in Uriel's eyes. Knowing? Malice? Whatever it was, Castiel didn't like it much. "You did exactly what we needed you to." He disappeared before Dean returned with his stick.
The angel sighed, running a hand over Dean's back. "Good boy."
Sam was shocked to find Dean standing at his door. He'd been counting down the days, but the month had never seemed to end.
Dean nodded. "Yeah." He was dressed in a pair of dark blue jeans and a black t-shirt that hadn't faded yet. New clothes. The angel had given him new clothes.
"I tried to find you," Sam offered. He really hadn't anticipated how awkward this was going to be.
"After you left me." Yeah, awkward.
"I was freaking out, man."
Dean raised an eyebrow. "Good thing you dropped outta school. You woulda made a sucky lawyer with that kinda defense."
There was something wrong. The joke was there, but his brother's voice seemed hollow, lost. "You ok?"
"Just spent a month as a dog. How would you be?"
"What was it like?"
Dean shrugged. "Monochromatic."
"But you were all right?"
Again, Dean shrugged. He shoved his hands into his pockets and Sam heard something jingle. He was going to ask what, because he had the keys, but then Dean smiled. "Yeah, I was all right."
Sam nodded. "That's good."
Dean pushed past him, into the motel room, and he could have sworn he heard his brother say something. But that couldn't be true, because it had sounded an awful lot like "I'm good." And that just wasn't something Dean would say.
Another Seal saved.
Ok, really? The first one they'd ever been able to save. And Dean was excited about that. He'd succeeded. He'd finally been good enough to stop it. He knew what that meant.
He waited outside the motel room, leaning up against his car. He'd told Sam he wanted some time alone, needed it. Sam was still feeling pretty guilty about just leaving him sitting in a parking lot, so he was getting away with a lot lately.
Not that he'd been doing a lot that would require getting away with. He'd actually been pretty good. Sam jut hadn't seemed to notice yet. He'd realized Dean was sad about something, but never asked. He kept avoiding it and they kept moving and now Dean was standing in a parking lot, his tags held in his hand, looking up at the sky. Waiting.
Of course, the angel couldn't come alone. No, he had to bring his buddy. The one that hated everything.
Dean turned his head at the sound of fluttering wings and smiled. It was coming. He knew it was coming. He'd finally done it.
Castiel was standing in front of the car, Uriel at his side.
"I did it," Dean said, pushing off the car and stepping toward them. "I stopped it, just like you told me to. No demons were released, no ghosts risen from the dead, nobody slaughtered. I did it."
Castiel nodded. "Yes, you did." He reached out and ran a hand through Dean's hair, trailing it down until he was cupping the hunter's cheek. Dean leaned into the touch and whined, old habits and all that. "Good boy."
It was as if every pain in his life, every hardship he'd ever endured just faded away at those two simple words. He was good. Someone saw him as good. The same person that had taken him in, had given him a home, had stayed with him even when he disrupted valuable sleep. Even after everything he'd done, he was good. For a little while, he was good.
Sam didn't tell him things like that. Sam didn't take care of him. Sam had left. And now Dean saw the truth. The angels were what they said they were, and they did what they were supposed to do. And if he did what they told him to, he was sure he'd be rewarded. He'd get pats on the back, or awkward ones on the head, and be praised properly. Just like he'd been when he had a home. Maybe they'd even give that back to him, too. Maybe he could be good enough to have everything again. A home and a provider and the ability to constantly be good.
The angel's hand dropped to his shoulder and he whined again. "You did very well today."
Dean nodded. That was all he was getting, and he knew it. Saving the world wasn't like fetching a stick or not drinking from the toilet. It was hard and it took time. "You'll come back?"
"When we need you again."
Castiel nodded. "Yes, Dean." He dropped his hand to his side and stared at the hunter.
"All right." Dean turned to go. He had hope. Had a reason to fight. He'd just have to explain his sudden will to win, no matter the cost, to his brother. It would only be a matter of time before another incident like the one on Halloween popped up, only this time, Dean wouldn't fight. He wanted to be good. He wanted to do what they said.
He started walking back, but changed his mind. He turned back to the angels, surprised to find that they were still there. "Hey, Cas?" He held out his tags, still in his hand. "When can I come home?"
Castiel looked at a loss, his eyes wide, mouth slightly open, and for a moment, Dean was sure he'd say no. He was good, just not good enough for that. For a home and for care and the chance to be good all the time, for the smallest reasons.
Then Uriel spoke up. "When you have finished."
"Really?" Dean asked, looking at Cas, knowing that his response was the one that really mattered.
"Yes, Dean," the shorter angel said. "When you're done, you can come home."
The hunter smiled. "Can Sam come, too?"
The angels looked at each other. "Perhaps," Castiel said. "We shall see."
"But… but I'm for sure going back when we're done?"
"I told you," Cas said. "I want you to come back."
Dean nodded. "I'll remember that. Thanks." He turned and walked back into the room. He didn't even try to wipe the smile off his face before Sam could see it.
The motel room door closed and Castiel turned to his brother. "What was that?"
"That was the whole reason we changed him in the first place," Uriel said. "To make him more obedient. To make him see. He'll do the Lord's work now."
"But we lied."
"For the greater good."
"He'll be furious."
Uriel shook his head. "He won't. He won't growl or snap or bite anymore." He smiled. "You trained him well."