A/N: First schmoop_bingo fill, inspired by a prompt on comment_fic.

Disclaimer: Still not mine, no profit made.


Bobby did not get the dog just to appease the Winchesters. Dogs are useful. They're living alarm systems for humans and the supernatural alike, and their senses are far keener than a human's, so they can pick up trouble long before even Bobby sees it coming. And besides, what's a junk yard without a dog?

It has nothing to do with the disappointment in two pairs of eyes when Sammy, pint-sized but with a brain too damn big for a little kid, pipes up to ask him where his doggie is, because apparently in Sammy's four-year-old mind, anyone cool enough to have a house with piles of cars around must have a dog too. Bobby just clears his throat and says he's not much of an animal person and it's not even a lie; it's hard enough keeping himself together in this empty house without adding a critter to the mix. But the disappointment in the boys' eyes stings more than he'll ever admit, because somehow these two young scamps have wormed their way into the heart he'd thought for damn sure was frozen after he lost Karen. They're not even his, and their daddy is the orneriest cuss he's ever had the displeasure of meeting, even if he figures John's also a damn good friend when he's in the mood for it, but these kids are his in every way that counts and Bobby's smart enough to know it. By now he's pretty much resigned to it, so much so he doesn't even bother with the token protests when John turns up with a sheepish look and a hunt too hot to be dragging a four year old and an eight year old along, just shoos them off to the room they insist on sharing, even though he's got enough space for both to have their own.

Nope, he's not that soft, not even for these two. It's not because of the way they watch the TV shows with yearning eyes, or the stuffed dog Sam drags around with him, so battered that the innerds are falling into the dust of the yard. And it's definitely not because of the way they both cluster around Rachel's bitch when he takes them into town with him, or the shy wonder on their too-old faces as she yelps her delight and licks frantically at them, tail banging happily against the sidewalk.

It's not, dammit. It's not because of Sammy's puppy-dog eyes when he drags them into the store, or the way Dean's lip quivers before he shores it up under that damn mask. It's not because of the way they stare at the homemade flyer on the bulletin board offering pups free to a good home, or the bitter resignation that fills Dean's eyes when he whispers an explanation about the Impala not being a good place for a dog to Sammy.

Goddammit.

He's the closest thing to a normal home these kids have, and he knows it. He's probably the only place they get a decent hot meal every damn night, or a bed that's theirs and a room that hasn't changed since the last time John dropped them off. In their world, he's one of the most secure things they've got and Bobby knows it, tries to make up for the nomadic life John's inflicted on his sons.

Aw, hell.

He shoves back the baseball cap and blows out a resigned breath as the boys press against the side window of the truck, watching Maggie as she dozes and dreams whatever the hell a dog dreams about. He's had a dog before, when Karen was alive and they were a happy little family. He swore then he wouldn't indulge in the trappings of normality again, not after he'd lost her, but…well, a dog doesn't mean normal. They're useful, that's all. Really, he's only hurting himself by not having one. And a pup makin' messes and noise might, just might, fill up some of the aching emptiness of his old place when John shows up to take his kids back at the end of this hunt.

He sees the questions in Dean's swift, unsure glance when he turns the truck down an unfamiliar road on the way out of town, but the kid doesn't ask, just watches. His eyes go wide, though, when Bobby parks before the battered sign announcing the local SPCA. Bobby hauls Sammy down, leaving Dean to clamber out on his own, and gives both boys a stern look.

"One dog," he informs them gruffly. "A pup. And none of them little yapping things either; we're gettin' a dog, it's gonna be a real one."

They nod in solemn unison, their eyes bright with excitement and their smiles so wide he has to grin back.

"Well, what're you waitin' for?" he asks, and the Winchesters race ahead of him, Dean entering first and Sammy a half-step behind. He catches up to them at the cages in the back, where a volunteer has already been won over by the boys and is patiently pointing out the puppies, hauling them out one by one for the boys to carefully inspect. Bobby's under no illusions; this dog might be living with him, but it's not gonna be his while the boys are around, so he leans against the threshold and watches. He likes their taste; they linger a little over a couple of the smaller pups, but they're drawn more to the bigger ones. They settle, after a quiet debate, on a young puppy with German Shepherd in him, if Bobby's any judge, and feet that promise one damn big dog if he even grows half into them. Good choice: friendly enough not to threaten the customers, aggressive enough to defend his pack once he grows up a bit, big enough that a lot of things will think twice before they tangle with him, and best of all, energetic enough to wear out even the Winchesters. He'll do nicely, and Bobby nods his approval when Sam and Dean shoot him a hopeful look.

They drive back home with Bobby a hundred friggin' bucks lighter, with a puppy doing his level best to lick Sammy and Dean's faces off, and two little boys giggling happily in the cab beside him. A normal family, and he blows out a breath even as he reaches over to scratch the pup's ears.

He did not get this dog to appease two little boys, he got it because a dog's damn useful around the place. And if—when—John gets back and gives him that damn knowing look, he's got a round of buckshot with the man's name on it.

Damn Winchesters.