Disclaimer: If only, if only...
Warnings: Crack, and uhh... crack. Also, present tense (don't know where the hell it came from, either).
Golden Retrievers and Boy Scouts
It was a hoax. They knew it was a hoax; hell - everyone knew it was a hoax. In fact, it was more or less a joke hunters would tell each other; something laughed about after a few beers and never once taken seriously.
But when the reports start to increase in frequency and one of them is from a well-respected judge who insists 100%-without-a-doubt that was what he saw (and is supported by his family who happened to be camping with him that weekend), Dean listens as Sam tries and convince him that maybe - just maybe - there might be some truth to the Bigfoot story.
Which is why they were currently approaching the Judge's house in some small town in Oregon whose name was Faith or Harmony or something along those lines. Dean stopped paying attention to all the places they went to after the job in Bacon, Indiana. He was sure that nothing else could even come close - so why bother?
Sam stops him just outside the door and turns to him with that serious face he has when he's trying to be a grown up. "Dean..."
"Sam..." Dean matches him tone for tone.
Sam rolls his eyes. "Just remember we're professionals."
Dean spreads his arms wide in indignation. "Dude, I know the drill."
Sam casts him a doubtful look and continues. "So, no laughing."
"I wasn't gonna laugh."
Ahuh. Sure. Sam's totally not buying it. "So when the judge tells you that he was groped by bigfoot-"
Dean snickers at that. It was unintentional, but Sam believes he's made his point. After waiting a minute for Dean to settle himself, Sam to raises his fist against the door.
A politely curious teen opens it and gives the boys a quick glance under her blonde fringe. Playing it cool, she leans against the frame. "Hi."
"Hello, I'm Mr. Gillian and this is Mr. Glover," Sam's gesturing to himself and then Dean as he talks, as though the words 'I'm' and 'This is' might be a little confusing for her.
Dean mentally shakes his head and then tunes out as his brother scores them an invite to talk to the man who saw - snigger - Bigfoot...
Sam's a mix of mild annoyance and resignation as they make their way out of the Keller's house. After Dean's not-so-subtle attempts to check out the circulating rumours about Bigfoot Sam eventually relented, thinking that with this much interest Dean would take the job seriously. Now Sam was starting to realise that it was more likely Dean just wanted to come here and laugh at the absurdity of it. Which he did, obtrusively, in the middle of their interview.
Just as Sam's about to open the door to the Impala, he spots Dean over the roof. He's wiping the tears from his eyes and his shoulders are shaking with mirth.
"Man, that was good," He says catching Sams' eyes. "I'm so glad we came here."
Dean hops in the car and Sams feels obliged to remind him that they can't just pack up and leave.
"We're still investigating, Dean."
Dean is a face of incomprehension. "Investigating what? Bigfoot's a hoax, Sam. You know that."
"I know that, Dean." Sam reminds him. "But something attacked Andrew Keller in the forest."
Dean snickers at the word 'attack'. "Probably just his imagination."
Sam huffs. "Dean..."
"Fine, fine." Dean relents. "But if it turns out it's just a guy in an ape-suit feeling people up, I'm pushing him in your direction."
He takes the next left instead of the right out of town and shoots Sam a look as though coming to Charity was his idea all along.
The forest growth isn't too thick that they have to hack it away with machetes, but they need to work their way around roots and branches, which annoys Dean. He's not an outdoors person in the camping sense of the word, and the encompassing sight and scent of nature gives him the impression that there's something else hiding just out of his senses. He doesn't care for it much.
He spares a glance back at Sam, who's weaving his way through the greenery with an almost ease that Dean wants to shove him over. Or watch him trip. Which is why he pushes the next branch back just the right amount so that it hits Sam right in the-
Sam does not look impressed, so Dean quickly scrounges up a distraction.
"How much further?"
Sam's patented bitchface lingers on Dean for a second before he shifts his gaze over his shoulder. "Hopefully not much further. Andrew said it happened in a small clearing."
Dean stops and points out to the left. "Like that?"
Sam appraises the gap in the foliage for a second and then shrugs. Without a word both boys change their course and head for the clearing.
If Sam were to be honest with himself, he'd have to admit that he didn't expect there to be anything substantial to the recent Bigfoot sighting. He'd only insisted on checking this out to make sure it wasn't some other sort of creature... with... wandering... hands...
Sam's brow furrows as his train of thought slows to a halt. Alright, he came down here for completion's sake. They'd been wrong before and he didn't want it to happen again. Sam's wrinkles smooth out now that he's rationalised his... well, rationale.
Unfortunately, Dean saw the perplexed look on Sam's face, which prompts him to ask, "What?"
Sam shakes his head. "Nothing. You seen anything yet?"
"No," Dean sighs. "And if we don't soon I'm leaving."
As though waiting for it's cue, a rustling sounds to their right. Sam and Dean raise their shotguns that are - for once - not filled with salt in that direction and wait.
The tree immediately stops shaking and the boys trade a conversation in glances. Dean asks what it is. Sam doesn't know. Dean thinks Sam should go over and check. Sam thinks Dean's an idiot for suggesting it. Dean would like to see Sam come up with something better. Sam clears his throat.
Dean mocks Sam on his brilliant idea. Sam tells him to shut up. Considering they weren't actually speaking for this conversation, Sam feels that he just won that round, and will silently gloat to himself later.
Because right now they're waiting on a response from the tree.
The seconds pass by and another rustle sounds even closer, but this time on their left. Soundlessly, Sam and Dean turn back-to-back and raise their guns.
"Come out, come out whatever you are," Dean's voice is low and gravelly and it makes his taunt sound more like a threat.
Almost in slow motion, the foliage on Sam's side clears and a ten foot tall walking gorilla emerges. Sam blinks.
Dean looks over Sam's shoulder. "Hunh."
They both take a step back as the creature advances. And another step. And another.
Bigfoot pauses, his head tilting ever-so-slightly. One hairy leg stretches out. Sam and Dean frown and Sam gets ready to take a step back. Dean raises his gun instead.
The voice is wavering in pitch, not quite a man and not quite a boy. A gangly teen on the verge of pubescence leaps out of the bushes, his arms waving frantically as though he can deflect any bullets. He stops in between Sam and Dean and the Sasquatch; a five-foot-seven shield.
Sam and Dean share a glance. "Uhh kid?" Dean starts, and then trails off because this really wasn't what he was expecting.
Sam picks up where he left off. "Do you... know him?"
Dean lowers the gun a fraction and looks over at Sam incredulous. Sam shrugs as if to say, what else was I going to say?
The boy nods. "Of course I know him – his name's Sam."
Dean looks and looks at the sasquatch. When he's absolutely sure it's real and not someone in a suit, his face scrunches up. "Sam?"
The kid nods. "That's the name I gave him. At first I wasn't sure if it was a girl or a boy – 'cause last time I was wrong – but I figured that it won't matter 'cause Sam's a girl's and a boy's name." He smiles proudly at having reached that decision.
"Uhuh," Dean says, pretending he understands everything the boy said. "And what's your name, kid?"
"My name is Russell, and I'm not a kid – I'm a Senior Wilderness Explorer." He made two tick-shapes with his hands and then joined them to form a W.
Dean doesn't know what a Wilderness Explorer is exactly, but he's guessing that it's similar to the boys scouts, if the uniform is anything to go by.
Sam clears his throat. "Russell, shouldn't you be with your, uhm, group?"
"I don't go on the group expeditions; all the other kids are weeeeeird." He stretches the last word out and rolls his eyes. "But it's okay, 'cause this way I get to explore more fun stuff and meet new friends like Sam here." He pats the creature on the shoulder, which seems to respond to his presence.
"So let me get this straight – you and bigfoot are... pals?" Dean's all but forgotten he's carrying a gun right now, his confusion leaving him standing there with a frown on his face.
"I told you, his name is Sam." Russell spots the gun and he folds his arms, his eyes narrowing. "You're not gonna shoot him, are you?"
"No, no – of course not." Sam rushes, cutting of Dean's reply and hastily stuffing his own gun down the back of his jeans. "We were, uhm, looking for something else." He shoots Dean a look that tells him to play along.
Dean's not having any of it though, and instead dryly replies. "Yeah, we were just looking for the other bigfoot in this forest."
Russell perks up. "You mean you've seen it?"
Sam's mouth falls open. "Uhh..."
"Hey, uhh, Russell? Do you mind if I talk to my brother for a second?" Dean flashes an encouraging smile and then pulls Sam out of earshot before the kid can reply.
He drags Sam behind a tree and throws his arm up. "Dude, what the hell?"
"Exactly, what the hell, Sam?" Dean's keeping one eye on the creature in case it decides it's hungry for some scrawny long pig.
Meanwhile, Sam's trying to processes the information and find an explanation. It appears he's just as confused as Dean is. They know that there's a bigfoot in this forest – two, if Russell's comment is anything to go by – one of which has been feeling up the local campers. There's also the matter of the pimple-faced teen that seems to have managed to tame the supposedly wild creature.
The thought draws Sam up short. "Has it ever attacked anyone?"
Dean looks up. "What?"
"The bigfoot – sasquatch, whatever – has it ever attacked anyone?"
"It didn't harm him though, right? I mean, think about it – all the rumours, all the reports of sightings over the years – have we ever heard one where it's going around killing people?"
Dean scratches his head. "So what are you saying, Sam?"
"I'm saying that maybe this isn't something we should be hunting, Dean."
Dean points back to the clearing. "Bigfoot, Sam. Bigfoot. Pretty much defines weird-supernatural-creature."
"What if it isn't? What if it's just some... some mutation or evolution of a creature that already exists? That would make it unnatural, but not supernatural."
Dean considers Sam's words carefully. "It's Bigfoot, Sam."
"Dean..." Sam growls.
"Alright, alright." Dean throws his hands up, waving the gun in surrender.
Sam can tell that he doesn't completely agree, so he adds, "Even if it is killing people – which it isn't – it wouldn't be any different to a bear. It's an animal, not some mythical species."
Dean stares at Sam. "Say it with me, Sam: Big. Foot."
Sams' hands move as though he's trying to explain with them. "It's more like an endangered species. Do you see what I'm trying to say, Dean?"
Dean's face goes through a range of expressions as he tries to consider his brother's perspective. It stops on acceptance. "It's Bigfoot."
Just not acceptance of what Sam's saying.
He growls. "Dean, would you just listen-"
"I did listen, Sam. Now it's your turn – is that," he points to the monster currently spinning in circles with Russell on its shoulders, "or is it not, Bigfoot?"
"It's not hurting anyone," Sam grounds out.
"What if you're wrong? What if we leave and some poor kid gets ganked? Some kid with a yellow hat and soda lids pinned to his shirt?"
"Look, all I'm saying is we shouldn't go after it without any proof."
He's frustrated, Dean can tell. Which is why Dean says what he says;
"Okay, how about this: we go back to the motel, look for some evidence that Gentle Ben isn't so... gentle and if we find some we come back and put him down – that sound fair enough to you?"
Sam relents in the end, because he knows it's the best he's gonna get.
"Good. Now we better get that kid home just in ca..." Dean's cut off by a loud roar that reverberates across the forest.
Sam and Dean burst back into the clearing to find that Bigfoot has left and Russell is standing there expectantly. "Sam heard his boy-slash-girlfriend calling and decided to go follow. I stayed here because it's rude to leave in the middle of a conversation." He looks sincere, and Dean can't decide whether or not has having a dig at their sudden interlude. In the end he lets it go.
"Hey Russell, we're gonna head back to town now – do you want us to give you a lift home?"
Russell shakes his head. "I don't live in Oregon, I'm here camping with Mr. Fredericksen. He brought us here in his blimp, The Spirit of Adventure!" He raises his fist as to punch the air.
"Okaaay..." Dean starts, but is elbowed by Sam.
"I'm sure he's worried about where you've gotten to, don't you think you should head back?"
Russell glances up at the sky. "Well, it is getting kind of dark, and those cumulo-nimbus clouds are getting closer. I should get back before the storm hits."
"You want us to, uhh..." Sam mentally blanks. There's just something wrong about using the word "escort" when you're talking to a kid.
Russell seems to get the gist anyway, and instead hold up a yellow console. "No need, with my wilderness GPS explorer, I'll be home in..." He looks at the screen, "seven-point-two-four minutes!"
He turns around, watching the screen intently. When he stops he looks up. "It was nice to meet you!" He waves before he dashes off into the trees.
"Uhh... You think we should go after him?"
Another roar sounds faintly from the opposite direction, and Sam and Dean turn around.
"...I don't know," Dean says at last. "Does that kid seem weird to you?"
"This whole thing seems weird."
"Yeah, but... I dunno. My gut says that kid's gonna be alright."
"You're gut? That's what you're going with, your gut?"
"It's never been wrong before."
"Dean, last week your gut decided to have a fried chilli burger and you spend two hours puking it back up at the hotel."
"Hey, that chicken was off, I know it! Besides, Bigfoot's at least a 100 yards in that direction; Russell's probably safe and sound back at his..." Dean frowns, "blimp by now." He looks over at Sam. "But if you want to make sure, we can always..." He raises his shotgun.
Sam raises his hands. "No, no. I'm sure he's safe. Let's just go."
They turn and start to head back to the car. Dean casts one last longing look in Bigfoot's direction.
Five minutes into their journey back to the Impala Dean snickers.
"Nothing, just..." he smirks as he glances at his brother. "It's a bit fitting don't you think?"
Sam knows Dean's setting him up for something; something he's not going to like if the smirk is any indication. He sighs. "What?"
"The sasquatch is named Sam."
"A-ha," Sam replies. He speeds up his pace, hoping to outrun the first of what's sure to be many jokes on the subject.
"Oh, like you can jus-huah!"
Sam stops in his tracks and retraces his steps to find his brother sprawled on the ground. He waits until Dean looks up at him before he raises an eyebrow.
"Shuddup." Dean drawls, brushing stray leaves and twigs off his person. When he's done he starts looking around for something.
"Yeah, the thing that friggin' tripped me."
Sam really wants to make a crack about Dean's lack of co-ordination, or his paranoid tendencies. He doesn't though, unless the comments spark a petty insult war which he's feeling a little too relaxed and preoccupied (mentally) to get into at the moment. So instead he just stands there with his hands in his pockets as Dean kicks up bark and disturbs the ground in search of... whatever he's looking for.
He eventually finds it a few minutes later, and Sam will be honest, he wasn't expecting it to be a tennis ball.
Dean rubs it against his jeans to clean the dirt off before showing it to Sam. "Think it's the kid's?"
"I can't think of anyone else that would want a ball." Sam replies.
Dean eyes it for a second before shrugging. "His loss."
They resume walking, with Dean tossing the ball up in the air every few seconds.
When they finally make it back to the Impala, Sam packs the weapons in the trunk, but leaves the lid open for Dean to toss the ball in.
Dean thinks about it. "Nahh." He tosses the ball back into the forest and slams the trunk closed.
By the time he gets to the driver's side door, a rustling in the trees attracts his attention. "Sam," He warns, unlocking the car with one eye on the movement.
It grows closer and louder until finally a golden blur bounds forth from the tree-line, heading straight for Dean. Before he can raise a hand to defend himself, the blur slams into him, the force sending him back against the Impala.
Sam races around to help his brother, only to realise that the golden blur is actually a golden retriever. Dean's noticed this too, and is currently scratching the energetic dog behind the ears, a five-year-old's smile on his face.
"Hey look Sammy, it's a dog."
Duh, Dean, Sam thinks. Instead he says, "He got your ball."
Sure enough, wedged in the canine's mouth is the tennis ball Dean threw into the forest not twenty seconds ago.
"Did ya? Did you fetch my ball?" Dean crouches down in front of the dog, pulling the ball out of its mouth.
"Yes I did."
Dean drops the ball, his mouth open in shock. "Dude, you hear that?"
Sam makes some sort of strangled gargle which Dean interprets as "Yeahuh".
"I fetched the ball because I like balls..."
Dean spots a red light on the dog's collar that flashes when it speaks. He points it out to Sam, whose eyebrows disappear into his hairline.
"...because they're soft and squishy and fun, not like – SQUIRREL!"
The retriever freezes, his head jerking upwards in a random direction as though hoping to spot a squirrel pass by. A few seconds pass with nothing happening and then he turns back to Dean.
"I like you," He licks Dean's face.
"Dude," Dean blinks.
"Yeah." Sam replies.
"Dude," He says again.
"It's a talking dog."
"I wonder who it belongs to."
Dean pauses mid-scratch to stare at Sam. He shakes his head ever-so slightly as though suggesting that in front of the dog is not a good idea. Sam's about to point out that it's a dog when the collar flashes.
"I have a Master, he is kind and good and kind. He smells of prunes and is friends with the small mailman and is kind." The dog hops up against Dean excitedly. "Would you like to meet my Master? I can show you to him! I can show you where he is and then you can meet him and see that he is a kind master."
"Uh, sure," Dean stammers, and the dog bounces around.
"Oh boy, oh boy – Master will be happy to meet new friends, he might even give me a treat!"
The dog runs away a few feet and the spins to face Sam and Dean. "Come, and I will show you to my Master!"
Dean's all for following the talking dog when Sam clears his throat. He tilts his head toward the car meaningfully and Dean replies by nodding at the dog. Sam nods more insistently and pulls out his patented Bitchface; annoyed huff and all.
Dean's shoulders slump for the second time today and he bends over to pick up the ball. "Okay," he tells the dog. "But don't you want the ball?"
The dog freezes in its movements; its eyes tracking the ball as Dean waves it around. "Yes I do, I do want the ball!"
"Then go get it." Dean pulls his arm back and throws it as hard and as far as he can into the forest.
The golden retriever tears after it, his voice growing fainter in the distance; "Oh boy, oh boy, a ball! I will catch the ball and then I will introduce my Master to the Fireman and the one who smells of eggs..."
When it's out of sight, Dean turns to Sam and glares. "A talking dog, Sam."
"We could've had a talking dog, but noo..."
"He already belonged to someone!"
"So? The guy could've had dozens! He probably wouldn't even miss one!"
Sam gives up at this point and just gets in the car.
Dean's still going on about the dog when they peel out onto the main road, and Sam's about ready to reach over strangle him. Whether Dean can read minds, or is just plain lucky, he decides to change the topic.
"This has to be the weirdest case we've ever had. Weirder than the Trickster ones."
Sam weighs this hunt against the others. "How do you know this wasn't a trickster?"
Dean drums his finger along the wheel in time with the music. "Where's the punch line?"
"Maybe we just haven't figured it out yet?" The words sound lame on Sam's mouth, and he silently concedes.
They drive on in silence as they digest everything that happened in the past few hours. Dean's the one to break it.
"Dude, Bigfoot's real."
"I can't believe you didn't let me shoot it."
Sam sighs. "I know, Dean."
"His name is Sam."
Sam face-palms. Maybe he should have let Dean keep the dog – at least it would have shut him up about the sasquatch for a while.