Castiel stared down at the hellhound snuffling around his shoes. "Um...sit?" he said, unsure of what to do; the creature obeyed the command with a solid, enthusiastic thud and looked at him expectantly. Its tongue lolled out of its mouth and a drop of slobber dripped down and started browning the grass.

It was only a hellhound puppy, in all fairness. Crowley had materialized from nowhere and dropped the creature literally in his lap, saying that Castiel "needed some loosening up" before disappearing again. He couldn't fathom what Crowley could be gaining by giving him the creature, especially this one; Castiel could smell that it was descended from one of the hellhounds that had slaughtered Dean. Crowley's sense of humor frequently reminded him of Gabriel's, and not in any positive way.

He'd cleansed the hellhound of most of its demonic taint but wasn't sure what to do now. After a few minutes of staring at each other the creature dropped its head on Castiel's lap, letting out a pitiful little whine. Castiel, after hesitating for a second, scratched it behind its ears, the lingering trace of demonic energy burning his fingertips. The hellhound wagged its tail, the thump of the impact echoing through the ground and setting off nearby car alarms. "Stop that." The creature wilted, whining again, and Castiel sighed. "Sorry."

Just then he heard Dean calling for him. It didn't sound like a particularly urgent call, but Dean generally didn't call completely without reason. He glanced down at the hellhound. "I suppose I can't just tell you to stay, can I?" It set its ears back, as if it didn't like that idea at all, and Castiel sighed. "Fine. You can come but you have to behave." It bounded up, wagging its tail so quickly he could hear it slicing through the air.

It occurred to him as they left that this probably wasn't one of his better ideas.

That impression only grew stronger when the second they arrived the creature charged right at Dean, knocking him right off his feet. Dean let out a terrified shout and Castiel felt a pang of guilt even though he knew Dean wasn't in any danger; he snapped his fingers and ordered, "No! Back!" The hellhound put its tail between its legs and backed away as he rushed over to Dean. "Are you all right?"

Dean just stared up him, his eyes wide with panic. "Was that a hellhound?"

Castiel sighed again. He was doing a lot of that today. "Yes. I apologize, Dean, I didn't realize it would do that. It's quite tame, I assure you."

Dean looked like it was taking a lot of effort to process all that. "You got yourself a hellhound?"

"I...acquired it, yes."

"When?

"About a half hour ago. It's still only a juvenile."

Dean nodded, apparently deciding not to question any of this too closely. "And it's notgoing to eat me?"

Castiel shook his head. "No. As I said, it's tame. I cleansed much of the taint and that removed its vicious nature."

As if to prove his point the hellhound put its front paws on Dean's chest and licked his face. "Hey there, buddy," Dean said, his voice still a little shaky. He groped at the air - Castiel had forgotten that Dean actually couldn't see the hellhound - until he found its head. When he started petting it the hellhound licked him again, then flopped down on top of him, making happy little sounds. "Hey, Cas, it likes me."

Castiel debated the wisdom of telling Dean that was because its ancestors had tasted his vital organs. "Yes. Yes, it does."

"I didn't know they were all shaggy like this," Dean said, scratching along the scruff on its neck. "Who's a big bad demon dog? You're a big bad demon dog!" It barked in seeming agreement and even Castiel winced. "Okay, let's not have you do that again."

And suddenly the solution seemed clear. "Would you like to keep it?"

Dean looked up at him. "I don't wanna take your dog, Cas."

"You would be doing me a favor, actually. I can't properly care for it, and I certainly can't take it to Heaven with me."

"Well...I dunno," Dean said, rubbing its belly now. "I mean, what do they eat? It's not the souls of babies or anything, is it?"

"They don't require sustenance. They're really quite intelligent, in their way. They enjoy taking commands. And it certainly likes you more than it ever did me."

"Sure, then. I'll take it off your hands. Always wanted a dog, actually. My dad always said we traveled around too much to take care of one."

Castiel crouched down, watching the two of them. "What will you do with it? It won't be much use hunting, it's incapable of harming anyone."

Dean just grinned. "It can still scare people, right?"

888

The thief approached the black car with a big smile on his face; the shop paid good scratch for classic jobs and this was the best put together one he'd ever seen. Anyone who'd park that car on thisstreet was either way too confident or some hopeless yokel tourist so really, they were pretty much asking for it.

And the door wasn't even locked.

The smile faded as soon as he heard the growl. It was coming from somewhere around the car's roof but he couldn't see anything; he took another step forward and the growl got closer. He felt hot, rancid breath on his face. "Hey, what the hell..."

The bark was so loud he dropped to his knees. He scrambled away and heard a heavy thud, then the sharp, scraping sound of something following him. He heard that growl again, right by his ear.

He didn't stop running until he was outside city limits.

888

Dean whistled to himself as he strolled to the car; this was a job that needed the twelve gauge. He heard a happy whine and braced himself as his hellhound jumped off the car roof and put its front paws on his shoulders as it gave his face a thorough washing. "Hey there, Killer. You keeping my baby safe?" It let out a bark that made his ears ring and he scratched its muzzle. "Good dog."