Author's Note: This fic is just a fluffy thank you gesture to everyone involved in the summer_sam_love fic exchange on LJ: the mods, the authors, the artists, the betas, the folks who read the stories, and esp. those who commented.
It's set sometime in early-mid season 3 after The Kids Are Alright. Thanks to geminigrl11 for the quick beta! Though I tweaked a lot, after. Blame any mistakes on the Outsider POV character!
Caveat: This story is not my usual fare! It's a little more Sam-centric, given the community it was written for. And I've never tried fluff before. I hope you'll let me know if you like it! If you prefer a more angsty fic this size, try my Lifeline. Or for a meatier casefic: Devil's Trap, River of Blood, or Blue Moon Rising. No matter what, I can pretty much guarantee the boys will get bashed a little! Hope you enjoy!
==================== Sam Says ====================
This is the story of how I got my dog Reese.
Sam says if I tell anyone what really happened, no one will believe me. But he and his brother keep a journal where they write down things that happen to them that no one would believe either. So I'm going to start my own notebook, and my first story is about Sam and Dean and Reese.
You might think the story should start when I woke up in a cage one morning. But it doesn't. It really started before that, when I decided that I wanted a dog. My best friend at school, Trent, he wanted a dog, too, and he said that this is how he planned to get one: he told his parents he wanted a baby brother. And they said, well, how about a puppy instead? And then they took him to the shelter, and he got to bring home this little lab mutt they named Donovan. So I thought – great! And I tried it on my folks.
And you know what? My mom said, Guess What? You are going to have a baby brother! (But that's not what I wanted! Stupid Trent and his stupid ideas.)
'Cause I already had a puppy picked out and everything. Not one from the shelter. There's this puppy that didn't have a collar, and he didn't seem to have a home. He just hung around the housing development where there's a lot of construction and new houses being built. I walk past those empty houses every day on my way to school. And one day I saw this puppy hiding there. He was just a mop of curly black hair on short little legs. He was skinny and scared, and he was hiding in the shadows, and sometimes he looked like he got in a fight with a squirrel and the squirrel won. But he wasn't afraid of me. I split my peanut butter sandwich with him, and he licked my hand. And ever since then, I'd give him half my lunch when I was on my way to school, and I'd stop and play with him on my way home.
But I worried about him. What would he do if I went away for a weekend? What if he got in a fight with something bigger than a squirrel? What if there's a storm and he's afraid of thunder or lightning? What if he got hit by a car?
He needed a home. A family.
So then, I asked Mom why we couldn't have a puppy and a baby. Both. But she said no. She said she heard a story once about a woman who found a little stray dog, and she rescued it and brought it home, and then a few days later it ate her baby! And then the lady found out it was really a sewer rat and not a dog at all!
And after Mom told me that, she covered her mouth with her hand and said she didn't mean it, and she grabbed me in a big hug. Which was hard because the baby in her tummy got in the way, and he kicked me! But anyway, I think Mom thought her story scared me. But I wasn't scared.
Sam says I'm pretty brave, and I don't scare easily.
Sam knows this because on Thursday last week, I went to bed in my room, and when I woke up Friday I was in a basement someplace else. In a cage. And I wasn't alone – there was me and three other kids, but I was the biggest one.
It was dark in the basement, but not so dark that I couldn't see anything. Someone was moving around outside the cage.
"Hey!" I yelled. "Let us out!"
And then the… person?… turned around. I don't know if it was a man or a woman. For a second, I saw a reflection of its face in the glass of the basement window. And it looked like that creature on the old Star Trek TV re-runs, that shape-shifter on planet M-113 that sucked the salt out of people. You know? Ew. But yeah. It looked a little like that. Before the creature made itself look like Dr. McCoy's girlfriend, I mean. When it just looked like a Salt Sucking Monster. And I may be brave, but I thought maybe I was gonna piss my pants when I saw that in real life and not on my TV. Even if I only saw a reflection of it.
It started to turn toward us, and I think I closed my eyes for a second. Like it was just a dream and when I opened my eyes, I would be awake and it would be gone. But before anything happened, I heard a lot of yapping come from the top of the stairs. I mean, like it-would-make-your-ears-bleed kind of noise. I opened my eyes and I saw my puppy Reese (except he didn't have a name yet), and he was barking up a storm. Which told me we were in the new housing development, since that's where Reese hung around. We were probably inside a house that wasn't even finished yet.
I don't know how Reese knew I was there, but I know he was trying to protect me. The Salt Sucking Monster stomped upstairs, but Reese didn't back away; he put his head down and growled. And the creature kicked him! I heard Reese yelp in pain, and he tumbled out of sight. And then the creature followed him, and I couldn't see them any more. I heard a closet door slam shut, and then I couldn't hear the barking any more either.
And I got mad, and I started looking for something to hit that monster with, if it came back and opened the cage. But there wasn't anything I could use. One of the little kids trapped with me lives on our block. He's two and his name's Carter, and he had a stuffed dog he was hugging to his chest with all his might. But that didn't help me because [a] I don't think it would have hurt the creature much if I hit it with a stuffed animal. And [b] Carter wouldn't let go of it anyway.
He was pretty strong, for being so little.
I have to admit – I was getting worried. One of the other little kids started to cry. And I was starting to panic because I was the oldest one there, and that meant they needed me to figure out what to do. And I Didn't Know What To Do!
And then I heard footsteps coming back down the stairs. There were two creatures this time. If either one of them reached inside the cage, I was going to bite him.
But these guys seemed different. They were talking, quietly. I would know for sure, I thought, when they walked past the window, and I could see their reflections. I held my breath, waiting for them to come closer.
"Clear?" the one in the back whispered.
The one in the front only came part way down the stairs before he stopped. He had a flashlight, and he folded himself in half and pointed it so he could see in every corner of the basement before he came any farther. "Clear!" he said back.
Then they clumped the rest of the way downstairs and came straight to the cage. They didn't look anything like the Salt Sucking Monster, not even when they passed the window. They were both really tall. The bigger guy had messy hair and kind eyes and a worried frown on his face. He took something out of his pocket and started working on the lock, making soft, shushing noises at the little girl that was crying.
The other guy, the guy with the cool leather jacket, he pursed his lips and said, "You got this, Sammy? I gotta go check out the rest of the house." He had some weird contraption in his hand – something that looked homemade – but I don't know what it was.
"Dean, wait!" Sammy – Sam? - said. (Sorry, but I just can't think of anyone that big as a Sammy.) "It isn't safe! Let's get the kids out first, and then we'll go together."
"Can't wait, dude," Dean said. "Gotta gank that freak before it takes off, finds another victim." He faded into the shadows like Batman, and then went up those creaky stairs.
Sam got the lock on the cage to open and slid his tools back in his pocket. I think it was a lock-pick he was using - that would be cool! But there wasn't time to ask him. He herded everyone over to the basement window, glancing over his shoulder at the stairs. I guess he didn't want to risk running into the monster if we tried to sneak out through the house.
But the basement window was the kind that didn't open; it just let in some light. Sam gathered us all behind him and covered his face with his sleeve.
I tried to do like he did, and pushed the littler kids behind me.
Then Sam hit the window really hard with his elbow. The glass shattered into a few really big pieces and a lot of tiny shards. He got some in his hair, where it twinkled like a girl's shiny barrette.
After the last chunks of glass exploded on the floor, we could still hear crashing sounds, and I realized they were coming from upstairs. It sounded like bodies smashing into walls. And grunts of pain.
Sam was still standing by the window and I know he could hear it, too. There was enough light on his face that I could see the lines on his forehead that showed how anxious he was. He used the flashlight to punch out the rest of the sharp pieces that were still caught in the frame. Then he bit his lip and pulled a triangle of glass the size of my palm out of his arm, and he threw it in the corner where the cage was.
It had gotten quiet upstairs.
Had the Salt Sucking Monster gotten away from Dean?
Was it going to come after us now?
Sam peeled off his jacket and tossed it over the windowsill to cover up any broken glass that had settled there or just outside. "You first," he said to me. "What's your name?"
"Eli," I told him. And man, did I want to get out of that creepy house and back home to my Mom and Dad. But I found myself looking up at Sam and saying, "No. Take the little kids first." Somehow, it felt like the right thing to do.
Sam crouched down so we were at eye level. "I need you up there first, to catch the kids when I pass them out. To keep an eye on the peanut gallery. Keep 'em from wandering off. Can you do that, Eli?"
Well, what could I say to that? I nodded and put my hands on his shoulders and stepped onto his bent knee. He put both hands under my shoe and pushed me up, and I squirmed through the broken window like Bugs Bunny popping out of his rabbit hole.
(I know. Mom says I watch too much TV. I told Mom I wouldn't watch so much TV if we had a puppy to play with, but she didn't listen.)
Sam passed each of the other kids up to me. I was glad he was so tall. There wasn't any furniture in the basement, and we could never have reached the window on our own.
He didn't seem to notice the blood soaking his shirtsleeve from where the glass had cut into his arm.
When the kids were all out, I looked up. I could tell that it was early morning. The sky was pink across the bottom. It was just after dawn. Mom and Dad would still be asleep back home. Red sky at night, sailors' delight, my grandpa says. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.
I turned around, and behind us, the sky wasn't pink or even blue or white. Thick black clouds were billowing off the top of the house, and bright orange flames danced across the roof.
Sam couldn't see the flames from inside the basement, but I could tell that he could hear the fire roaring. "Dean!" he bellowed.
I'd thought Sam was going to crawl through the window, too, when the last of the kids was free, but when I heard him shout I knew he wasn't coming outside yet. Not without Dean.
"Get the kids back! Away from the house!" he yelled, and then he grabbed his jacket back off the window ledge and disappeared from sight.
I wanted to run to a house that had people living in it. People with phones, so someone would call 911. But so many of the homes were just being built, and I didn't know if any of them had families yet. The only car on the street was a big black one parked in front of the vacant lot right across the street from us.
I took the little kids down the driveway to the strip of grass next door that went between the sidewalk and the street. And then I sat down cross-legged and made the peanut gallery sit down with me. Sam had said to stay with them.
They were little and dumb, and I knew they would just run into the street and maybe get hit by a fire truck if I didn't take care of them.
I wished I was big like Sam. He could have wrapped his long arms around all of us kids, I think.
Flames were clawing out of an upstairs window when I heard the faint sound of a siren in the distance. Then the front door banged open, and Sam charged out with Dean hanging over his shoulder. Their faces and hands and clothes were streaked black with ashes. Sam set Dean down on his back on the grass, and he put his head close to Dean's face and laid one hand against his chest. I guess he was checking to tell if Dean was breathing.
After a minute Sam sat back on his heels, and I was almost afraid to look closely at Dean. So I looked at Sam instead, and I saw that his eyes were closed, but it didn't look like he was trying not to cry. He looked relieved. He looked like he was saying a prayer.
So then I peeked at Dean, and I could see blood on his face, dripping through the soot. Sam's hand was still resting on Dean's heart, and when I looked closely, I could see Dean's chest slowly rising and falling under the soft brown leather of his jacket.
And suddenly I remembered the puppy! I scrambled to my feet and grabbed Sam's shoulder. "The dog! It's still inside!"
"The puppy! The Salt Monster locked it in a closet."
"Salt Monster?" Sam said. Then, "Never mind." He got to his feet, and turned to look at the house, watching where the flames were devouring the walls. He cocked his head to hear how far away the sirens sounded. Then he asked me: "What closet? Where?"
"It was at the top of the basement stairs!" I felt like crying now. That puppy had attacked the creature that had locked us up. It had tried to defend me, and I had forgotten all about it. And now it might die.
But Sam took off at a run. "Stay with my brother!" he yelled over his shoulder.
Dean was his brother?
I didn't know if he meant that I should stay with his brother and Dean would protect us, or whether he meant that I should stay and take care of his brother. Either way, I trusted Sam. Whatever Sam said.
I heard more crashing sounds. The sky got darker as more smoke poured out. Another window exploded. Then the roof collapsed.
Sam didn't come back out.
And I wanted to be brave. Like Sam and Dean were. I think maybe I did start to cry a little. But I still kept everybody together and safe, like Sam said.
The fire trucks came, and Dean woke up while an EMT was trying to put an oxygen mask over his face. I could tell that he was screaming 'Sam!' even with the mask on. He tried to fight the EMT to let him get up, but he was too weak and dizzy, and he fell back on the grass.
And then a fireman staggered out of the burning building, and for a second the smoke was so thick I couldn't make out what was happening. He stumbled a little closer, and I could see that he had someone thrown over his shoulder.
I held my breath. It better not be the Salt Sucking Monster. I tried to remember how to pray.
Another fireman ran up to help, and together they brought the victim over to where we were, where the ambulance had parked. Then they laid the body down on the grass beside us.
It was Sam.
Dean ripped off his mask and rolled onto one elbow to see his brother better, and the EMT adjusted her stethoscope and unzipped Sam's jacket. And a tiny little furry head poked out, followed by two little paws, and then the puppy launched itself off Sam's chest and into my arms.
To be continued….
Okay. Dad said it was bedtime, so I had to finish writing this in my journal later.
I got a ride home with the cops, which was really cool. Even if they wouldn't use the police siren. I knew I couldn't let Mom and Dad see the puppy, so I let him out on the front step and he hid under the porch. He was trembling, he was still so scared, but I didn't have a choice. If Mom found him, she'd take him to the pound. And what if nobody wanted him? He was so little and so scared, but he was brave and loyal, too. I knew I couldn't keep him, but I hated to let him go.
And then I figured out who I could trust to take care of him.
The trick would be how to find them.
I'd only seen the one car on the street where the monster had taken us. Nobody lived in the other houses yet; they were still under construction. And that car parked across the street was all black, and as big as a boat, and I'd never seen one like it before. It said Chevrolet on the front grill. I knew if I saw it again, I would recognize it.
And I knew Sam or Dean or both of them had probably been taken to the hospital. Maybe they just got checked out and then left – but maybe they didn't. Maybe one of them was still there. The hospital's only a block away from my school, so after school on Friday I decided to just check out the parking lot and see if that cool car was there.
And it was. I had to walk up and down the ramp in the parking garage, but I did that, and I finally found the car.
I was thinking I would look in the glove compartment, and find something with their names and address, but the car was locked. I should have figured it wouldn't be that easy. Then, I noticed that the license plate was from out-of-state. Maybe they wouldn't be able to take the puppy after all, if they were on the road to somewhere. But I still had to try.
The puppy had tried to protect me. It was the least I could do to pay him back.
Since I didn't have a cool set of lock-picks like Sam did, I needed a plan B. Maybe they were staying here with friends or family, but maybe they weren't. So I went home and made a peanut butter sandwich and filled a bowl with water and put them under the porch. And then I hit the yellow pages, and I started calling hotels and motels. I told them that I'd bumped into a black, classic Chevy in the parking lot of the hospital, and I was trying to reach the owners to exchange insurance info. And the car had out-of-state plates, so I thought they might be staying there.
Good plan, huh? Sam says I'm pretty smart.
Yeah, it was a long shot. And it was annoying that sometimes the people on the phone seemed to think I was a lady, by the way I sounded. The way a grown-up actress does Bart Simpson's voice because she sounds like a boy. But I don't care. It worked. The desk clerk at the Colonial Motel said they had guests with a car like that: Dean and Sam Clapton. She wouldn't give out their room number, but that was okay. And I got lucky 'cause the Colonial Motel is right down the block from the library, and I knew how to take the bus to the library.
The next day was Saturday. I made a couple peanut butter sandwiches and snuck them in my jacket pocket, and then I told Mom I was going over to Trent's to play. And she said fine. When she went down to the basement to do laundry, I went outside and whistled for the dog, and he came up to me right away. He was little enough to fit in my backpack, and then we got on the bus and went to the motel.
That big black Chevy was parked in front of unit # 7, down at the end. I took off my backpack and cradled the pup in my jacket the way Sam had, and then I knocked on the door.
It took a minute for someone to answer, and then the door opened a crack, and I could see Dean look straight ahead, and then lower his gaze when he didn't see anyone at first. He looked pretty surprised to see me. I could see a row of stitches across his forehead, like a model train track, and there were dark shadows under his eyes, like he hadn't slept.
"Can I…?" I started to ask, and just then the puppy stuck his head out of my jacket and gave a soft little 'ruff!'. The corner of Dean's mouth curled up, and he stepped aside to let us come in.
Sam was stretched out on top of one of the twin beds, diagonally so he would fit without his feet hanging off the end. He was taking a nap, I guess. He had a bandage on his arm, and one leg was in a cast up past his knee. His mouth was tight and his face tense, even though he was asleep. There was a bottle with pills on the nightstand. They could have been either Dean's or Sam's, I guess.
Dean put one finger to his lips so we wouldn't wake Sam, and I nodded. I let the puppy down to play on the floor. He was too little to jump on Sam's bed, and I figured he'd be less likely to bark if I set him down than if I tried to hold him the whole time.
"Everything okay?" Dean croaked. His voice was like sandpaper. It had to hurt, trying to talk like that. I guess it was that way from all the smoke.
So I explained about the puppy. How it had tried to protect me, and how loyal and brave it was, and that it needed a family. And why my Mom wouldn't let me keep it. Which is stupid but what can you do? Grown-ups make the rules.
Dean kinda grinned at that.
But I could see from the look in his eyes that he wasn't gonna agree to keep the dog. He was trying to find a way to explain it in as few words as possible, to keep from hurting his throat any more.
I had a brilliant idea, then - maybe they needed the pup as much as the pup needed them! I could see that Dean had to get some sleep but he'd been sitting up instead, just watching his brother in case Sam wanted anything. And I knew that if Dean needed any help himself, he could hardly get Sam's attention when he couldn't even talk. If they took the dog, he could help! He would bark at Dean if Sam was in trouble. And Dean could use the pup to wake up Sam if he needed to. Like in that TV commercial – I've fallen and I can't get up! If Dean collapsed or something, the puppy would get Sam.
It would be what my dad calls a Win-Win situation, and I explained all that to Dean.
Dean's face softened. I don't know if he felt more sorry for the dog or for me. But he still looked sad, and I was pretty sure then that I knew what his answer would be.
He turned his head to look over at the pup, and I did, too. There was toilet paper everywhere trailing out from the open bathroom door. It looked like the puppy had found Sam's sneaker, too. It was on the floor next to his duffel, since he couldn't wear both shoes, not with a cast on one leg. The sneaker he wasn't wearing had bite marks and drool on it now. And somehow – somehow – that puppy had figured out a way to climb onto the bed. It was curled up on Sam's chest, with his head tucked under Sam's chin. And the little furrow of pain on Sam's face was gone.
Dean turned back to look at me. "Okay. Just for a little while." He mouthed the words and smiled. I grinned back. I was sure if they kept the pup for a little while, it would become permanent. How could they resist?
And then I realized that this was probably going to be goodbye, so I went up to the dog and gave him a last scratch behind the ears, and I whispered, "Thanks, pup. You take care of Sam and Dean now. I know they'll take good care of you."
Dean was writing a note to Sam while I did that, and when I turned back, he had a note for me, too, to spare his voice. It said he was gonna run out and get some dog supplies, and did I want a lift home? I admit, my eyes were tearing up a little, and I didn't really want to cry on the bus, going home all by myself, so I said yes.
I thought riding in the cop car was cool, but man! I think riding in Dean's car – the Impala – that was the coolest thing ever.
I didn't think I'd ever see Sam and Dean after that, but I saw Sam one last time. It was the last place I would have expected to run into either of them: in the library, on Monday after school. I wanted to know more about that Salt Sucking Monster. I figured it wasn't really a creature from planet M-113, and I never actually saw it suck salt out of anybody. But it definitely kidnapped kids. I thought maybe there would be something in the books about folklore that would mention a creature that stole children from their homes.
Library Call Number 398, the card catalog said, for Folklore.
I walked back through the stacks, my finger tracing the call numbers on the spines of the books. 390. 391. 392. I turned a corner, and there, leaning on crutches in front of the shelves and looking frustrated, was Sam. He was wearing sweatpants with one leg cut off around the knee, and a tee shirt and a hoodie.
When he saw me, his face brightened. "Eli! How've you been, dude?"
I have to admit, my heart swelled a little, the way he talked to me like a pal and not like a little kid.
"I'm good," I said. "How's – how's the puppy? Did you give him a name yet?"
"Reese," Sam said. "We've been calling him Reese."
Reese. I liked it. But I wondered - "Why?"
"He kinda looks like a Reese." Sam sank down on a chair in the nearest library carrel, and awkwardly stretched his leg out in the aisle in front of him. Then he gave a long, contented sigh, like he was glad for an excuse to be off his feet. "There's a cast-iron statue of a little dog that looks a lot like him, in Richmond, Virginia," Sam said. His eyes were smiling fondly at the memory. "It used to belong to the Reese family there, 150 years ago, and their kids loved to climb on it and play with it. During the Civil War, the army wanted to melt it down to make weapons, and the Reese family didn't want their little dog statue turned into something used for killing. So they moved it to the cemetery, where it could stand guard over the grave of their two-year-old daughter, who'd died of scarlet fever in 1862."
Sam paused a second to press the heel of his hand against his leg near the top of the cast, wincing a little as he rubbed the muscle, and then he looked back up at me. "The dog is still there. And these days," he added, smiling a little again, "there's an urban legend that you can hear him barking as he plays in the cemetery at night, and protects all of the family that's buried there."
I sat down on the edge of the desk. "Sam - are urban legends real?"
He stopped rubbing his leg and looked me in the eye. Like he was looking to see if I was old enough to hear the truth. "Some are," he said. "Urban legends are a kind of folklore. And like folklore, sometimes there is some truth in them. That's what Dean and I do – we find the truth. But a lot of the time, they're just stories, Eli. Still," Sam grinned. "It's fun to think about the Reese dog playing in the cemetery and watching over those kids for 150 years. There's no harm in believing in the stories that aren't scary," he told me.
I asked him then about what I had seen in the basement. That was scary. Sam said it was a changeling, not a salt monster, but I didn't have to be worried about it any more. Dean had killed it. Sam was just in the library now to see if there was any other local folklore he and Dean should check into before they hit the road.
Except – with his cast, he couldn't see the Library Call Number 398 books on the bottom shelf.
I jumped to my feet. "I can get them for you!"
"Hold on, Tiger. How about just reading me the titles, and I'll let you know if there's one I want to look at."
"Okay!" I crouched down on my heels and started reading them off, glad I could help.
We did that for awhile, and it was nice. Nicer than just hanging with Trent or my other friends. It was kinda like having a big brother home from college or something, I thought.
I asked Sam how they knew about the changeling, and he sighed and said it was a long story. He looked pretty beat, and I figured maybe his leg was hurting or he was too tired to go into all the details. But he did tell me that he and Dean had figured out that the changeling had its lair in one of the vacant houses, but they didn't know which one. It was Reese's barking that led them to us.
Reese was a hero.
When we finished the 398's, we moved to the 133's where the local ghost stories were shelved. Sam limped along on his crutches behind me. Sometimes the library stacks can be kinda scary. It's dark in the corners, and dusty, and too quiet. But I wasn't scared with Sam there.
"I hear you're going to have a brother soon," Sam said, as he found another seat and started thumbing through a book called "Walking with the Dead".
"Yeah." I sighed.
"You don't sound too crazy about it."
What could I say? Maybe if we weren't getting a baby, I could have talked Mom into letting us keep Reese. So I just shrugged.
"You know," Sam said. "You are going to be an awesome big brother."
"Are you kidding? The way you kept your cool in that basement? The way you took care of the peanut gallery once you got out?" He grinned. "The way you tracked down me and Dean? That was some major league sleuthing right there!" He put his hand on my shoulder. "You're brave and you're smart and you have a big heart. Trust me – I know what makes up a great big brother better than anyone. And you have what it takes."
I know - I'm not a great conversationalist. But that last 'yeah' meant something different than the other ones, and Sam could tell.
He looked at his watch. "Dean's pickin' me up in ten minutes, and then we're outta here. You want a ride back to your place?"
I figured I'd get one more chance to see Reese, too, and my heart was pounding a little in excitement about that.
But when we got outside, Reese wasn't in the car.
When I realized that, I just - I couldn't speak. I know Dean had said just for now – but I was sure once they'd been around the puppy for a while, they'd never be able to part with him. Heck, I'd only been with the pup a few minutes now and then, and it broke my heart to give him up.
I was too afraid to ask what they had done with Reese. Surely, they didn't just take him to the pound! Would they? I remembered then – when I asked in the library how Reese was, Sam never really answered. He just told me about why they picked that name, and how Reese's barking had drawn them to the right house.
But he didn't say whether they were trying to housebreak him, or whether he chased cars, or if they were going to take him to a vet to get checked out. Or whether they even knew that he liked peanut butter.
Sam didn't say any of the things I thought he might say if they were keeping Reese.
I had to admit, then, how well did I really know Sam and Dean anyway? Maybe I was all wrong about them.
Maybe all they cared about was finding out the 'truth', and writing it in their journal - and too bad about whatever happened to those they left behind. Maybe they really didn't care anything about the dog. Or me.
They dropped me off, and I could barely say good-bye. I couldn't bring myself to say thanks. I just ran into the house without looking back.
I heard their car pull away from the curb and disappear down the street, but I didn't watch them go. I couldn't see anything anyway with the tears in my eyes.
And then I felt something attacking my shoelaces, and I looked down, and it was Reese!
Mom was there, all big and round with the baby growing inside her, and she was smiling. "That nice young man, Dean? One of those two boys who rescued you? He brought the dog over for you."
"But…." I sputtered. "But. I thought…."
"Dean explained to me about that urban legend with the stray dog and the baby. I guess it was just my hormones making me silly. He said he was a specialist in folklore, traveling the country collecting urban legends, and he reassured me that the one about the sewer rat dog that ate the baby wasn't true."
"So - ?" My voice squeaked. "So we can keep him? Reese? The puppy, I mean?"
"Dean said if you'd had Reese to begin with, that dog would never have let you get taken away from us." For a second Mom looked like she was going to cry, and she put one hand on the top of my head, and the other pressed against her belly, where I could see the baby stretching his little arms like he was yawning or something.
Then Mom just ruffled my hair and looked like everything was okay again. "But he's going to have to be your responsibility, young man," she said. She was trying to look stern now, but I could tell that she had already fallen a little in love with Reese herself. "With the baby coming, I won't have time to take care of a puppy, too," she explained. "For starters, I think he probably needs to go outside, and you can take him. Right now."
"You bet, Mom!" I gave her a hug, stretching to reach around her. Her and my baby brother.
I'm going to be an awesome big brother. Sam says so.
And maybe I'll collect stories like Sam and Dean do, and write them up in my journal. Like this story. Then one day, I can read them to my little brother.
But I don't want to scare him.
Sam says it's okay to believe in the ones that aren't scary. Maybe I'll just collect those.
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