I just keep stumbling into new fandoms, don't I? This is my first foray into Supernatural, so I hope I haven't butchered anything. Feel free to tell me if I have done any character a dishonor.
As for a time frame, nothing too specific, but I'd place it in Season 6, post the recovery of Sam's soul, since soulless Sam probably wouldn't love cuddly puppies.
"That isn't a dog. It's... I don't know exactly what it is—it looks like something you'd sweep out from under a couch—but it isn't a dog."
"It's a Pekinese, Dean, and yes, it's a dog," Sam replied.
"Okay, fine, but what about that one? That looks like an Ewok." Dean pointed to the television, where a small, flat-faced dog was trotting.
"Brussels griffon," Bobby said. "Read the bottom of the screen, idjit."
"Must be heavy on the 'griffon', light on the 'Brussels'."
Another toy dog, this one at least recognizable as a canine, graced the screen with its head like a cotton ball. Dean rolled his eyes.
"Why are we even watching this? Isn't there anything, and I mean anything, else on?" Dean asked.
"My house, my TV," Bobby responded. For insurance, he took the remote from the arm of the chair and sat on it so Dean couldn't get grabby.
"But why? Why can't we watch Cops? There might be drunk chicks," Dean said.
"If you don't like it, go do something else. Clean the garage or wash your car or do the dishes, since most of them are yours."
Dean huffed and collapsed on the sofa. He was visiting Bobby for a vacation, not so he could do chores. Or so he could die of boredom, watching a bunch of pampered purebreds when he could be watching girls behaving badly at Mardi Gras.
The cumulus poodle finished its performance for the judges and the next dog, a Shih Tzu with its long, elegant coat obscuring everything but its dark, beady eyes, took center stage. Dean yawned and scratched himself. If this was how Bobby and Sam planned on spending their day, he was going to take a nap.
"A truly regal dog. And next in the toy group, we have—" The announcer was cut off as a horrified gasp sprang simultaneously from seemingly every member of the audience.
The camera swung from the Yorkshire terrier the judges were examining, but couldn't decide where it ought to focus instead. For a moment the camera zoomed in on a few horrified faces in the audience, then it trained on a basset hound that was howling, and then, as though the cameraman had just shrugged his shoulders and decided to play Russian roulette with his equipment, the camera spun around and reduced the dog show to a blur.
"Does this usually happen?" Dean asked, sitting up a little straighter.
"What do you think?" Bobby replied.
"I'm going to go with 'no', but I like this better. It's sort of Cloverfield-y."
The camera finally stopped riding the carousel and zeroed in on the source of the ruckus. Standing amongst the Saint Bernards, Great Danes, and boxers of the working group was a short man wearing a fine suit. He was holding a leash that connected to a collar that was floating five feet off the ground.
Dean leapt to his feet and pointed an accusatory finger at the television, as though he was a prosecutor and the TV was criminal scum.
"Son of a bitch! It's Crowley! Come on, Sam, we gotta go!"
"Go where, Dean? The show's filmed in New York City. We won't get there for two days, even if you drive double the speed limit," Sam pointed out.
"But- Crowley- He's gonna kill the Ewok dog!"
"Sit down. He ain't killing anything," Bobby said.
Dean shook his head. "Why's he got his Hellhound, then?"
"Dean, think about it for a second. He's Crowley, the King of Hell, and he's got an ego the size of the universe. He's also got a Hellhound that's probably almost as big," Sam said.
"And he's at a dog show, the most prestigious one in the country. He wants to be recognized for breeding the most horrible, vicious monster imaginable, and what better place than the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?"
Dean lowered his index finger and returned to the couch. He didn't sink into with glazed boredom like before, but sat rigid at the edge of the seat. He also kept his hand on the butt of his pistol, as though at any second he was going to try and shoot Crowley through the TV screen.
"Look on the bright side. At least you can watch it without falling asleep now," Sam said.
"Yeah, and maybe next time a baseball game goes nine scoreless innings, Crowley can show up there, too," Dean said. "I mean, even the big cheese of demons can't be any worse than three hours of nothing."
"No damn respect for an old-fashioned pitchers' duel," Bobby grumbled.
On the screen, the miraculous arrival of a final contestant still had the audience, judges, dog owners, and dogs in a state of frenzy. As though expelled by a concentric blast wave, everyone who had been standing near Crowley when he'd hopped into existence was now standing back in a rough circle. Most of the dogs, though they were some of the largest breeds in the world, were on their backs and submissively showing their stomachs, or were crouched down with their tails between their legs. A massive Newfoundland was cowering behind its owner, who had in turn sought shelter behind a wall of Anatolian shepherd dog.
"Isn't anyone going to ask my name? Or his?" Crowley motioned to the floating collar. "Come on, don't be shy. I don't bite, unless that's your thing, and Growley doesn't bite unless I tell him to."
Back in Bobby's living room, Dean snorted. "Growley? Like his own name, but with a 'g'? He's creative."
An intrepid reporter who had come to the dog show with no goal greater than scoring a quip from the best in show swallowed every ounce of self-preservation he had and, with his cameraman following far, far behind, left the safety net of his fellow journalists. Clutching his microphone so hard his knuckles turned white and his fingers locked up, he squeezed through the terrified ring of dogs and humans and entered no-man's-land.
Crowley beamed when he saw the reporter inching toward him. Finally! He was getting worried he was going to have to order Growley to fetch the pitiful sod Fox News had sent to cover the little doggies.
The cameraman decided twenty feet away was a safe distance, and refused to move another micrometer. He shouldered his camera and gave a weak thumbs-up to encourage the reporter to walk on alone.
All cameras in the building were no-doubt focused on him, and the reporter wondered if this wouldn't be his big break. Maybe he could finally stop doing shit human-interest stories about dog shows and green businesses and start covering presidential debates. All that separated him from one-on-one interviews with Mitt Romney was a…a wizard with an invisible monster dog.
"I'm Alan Wolfe with WNYW, and I'm here in Madison Square Garden, where the man standing just in front of me has done the impossible and appeared out of thin air before a live audience. He also has either a levitating collar or an, you are not going to believe this, what the hell am I doing saying this, an invisible dog."
"The latter," Crowley said, and patted his Hellhound to show its solidity.
"Okay, you heard the man. He has an invisible dog. And how, sir, is your dog invisible?" Alan Wolfe of WNYW asked.
"Sir, I like that. It's much kinder than what I've been called lately. Right, back to the question. How is my dog invisible? Short answer: he's a Hellhound. By his nature, he's invisible to humans; unless, of course, he's coming to round up your soul. Then you can see him in all his glory. For a few seconds, at least." Crowley flashed all of America, or at least the metropolitan New York area that was serviced by WNYW, a winning smile.
"Hellhound. So, a demon dog?" Wolfe said.
"No, he's actually a mastiff wearing an invisibility cloak."
"Can I get one that's a bit smarter than the average pothole, please?"
"No, please, wait, I'm sorry! I'll try harder. Just, eh, I'm going to assume it is a demon dog. Why did you bring him here today?"
"Because he's an asshole and likes pissing us off and flaunting his stupid demon face where we can't stab it!" Dean shouted, like the reporter was supposed to hear him from two-thirds of the way across the country.
Alan Wolfe, unaware of Dean's answer, waited for Crowley to offer his own, less vulgar explanation.
"Because there's no challenge in pitting Growley against others of his breed. They're miserable, mangy inbred disgraces a Hell-hamster would look down upon," Crowley said.
"They were good enough to kill me! Next time I see him, I am going to shove his head so far up his ass he'll see daylight!" Dean roared. Sam elbowed him in the ribs. Dean punched Sam in the shoulder. Bobby threatened to lock them both in his panic room.
Alan blanched at the idea of other huge, invisible dogs running around and his brain forgot how to ask follow-up questions. It was only after thirty seconds of silence, and Crowley loudly clearing his throat, that Alan looked around for anything to ask.
"Uh, working group! Why place him with the working group?"
"He's a bit big for the toy category, isn't he?" Crowley stroked the dog's head, which was nearly at level with his own face.
"I meant, why not with the hounds if he's a Hellhound?"
"Hounds are limited. They can hunt, and they can howl so loudly your neighbors want to shoot you. Working dogs are much more talented. Growley can fetch souls from any corner of the globe, but he also makes a fine guard dog, and a pony for when I'm feeling playful."
"Is that the only word you know? Of course bloody not. Do these look like equestrian boots to you?" Crowley hiked up a trouser-leg and revealed leather shoes that had cost more than the GDP of some small African nations.
Alan looked like he was about to cry. Crowley shook his head. Idiots. Everywhere he went, he was surrounded by idiots. Hell, nothing but idiots. Earth, still chocked full of idiots. And if the Winchesters' budgie in a trench coat was anything to go by, Heaven wasn't populated with geniuses, either.
Crowley stepped close enough to Alan to cover his microphone. He then leaned in farther so his lips were inches from the reporter's ear.
"After I win best in show, why don't you and I make a deal to ratchet your IQ above Forrest Gump's?" Crowley whispered.
"I take it back. I've got enough stupidity in Hell already. Just get away from me before any of it rubs off."
Alan nodded and beat feet. The moment he was surrounded by people and dogs he could see, he collapsed to his knees and dropped his microphone. He was not ever getting to interview Romney now.
Crowley turned to the judges' table, where only the peeping heads of two judges were visible. The rest of the judges had sought concealment under the table. With a snap of Crowley's fingers, the table upended and revealed the hidden judges.
"Sorry about the furniture, of course I'll fix it. I just wanted to excuse my little interruption and invite you to continue. Where were you? Addressing the coat of a Yorkie, weren't you?" Crowley asked.
The owner of the Yorkshire terrier shook his head and clutched his dog to his chest.
"No? Who was next? The Havanese?"
The Havenese and its owner had both evaporated. Crowley shrugged. He wasn't the only one at the show who could pull a good disappearing trick.
"Then that leaves the Maltese."
The Maltese left. It did not look like it would be returning.
"Looks like I've narrowed the field already. Name your best in group," Crowley said to the judges. He righted the upended table and, with a wave of his hand, encouraged the judges to get to judging.
After much deliberation and many not-so-secretive looks at Crowley, the judges proclaimed the Brussels griffon the best representative of the toy group. Crowley offered the squish-faced champion a polite round of applause. The dog retracted its lips and bared its teeth at Crowley. He considered setting it afire but decided he'd rather figuratively smoke the competition for best-in-show.
"You go Ewok dog! I hope you win it all, and then crap on Crowley's shoes, the fancy bastard!" Dean cheered. It was a good thing he didn't know how close his new favorite dog had come to going up in a puff of smoke. Two-thousand miles or not, he would have been gunning for Crowley's head.
The Ewok dog joined an Irish setter from the sporting group, a dappled bluetick coonhound from the hound group, a Lakeland terrier from the terrier group, a Xoloitzcuintli from the non-sporting group, and a Puli from the herding group. The only group without a champion was the working group, and Crowley had every intention of crushing the competition.
Terrified into mewling subservience by the appearance of the Hellhound, even the largest, most loyal members of the working group found it hard to get off their haunches. The judges showed equal reluctance to do their jobs, especially since the man—if he was human at all—who had upended and fixed their table without laying a hand on it was standing nearby with his unseen beast at his side.
"Come on, get a move on, chop-chop! Your ancestors didn't domesticate wolves so they could lie about on national television!" Crowley finally said.
Nobody moved a leg or tail. Crowley frowned. When Crowley was unhappy, his unhappiness usually proved contagious.
"Sit. Stay," Crowley ordered. He let go of the leash and disappeared.
He reappeared behind the judges, one of whom uttered a brief shriek. Crowley laid a hand on the screaming man and shut him up.
"I have other things to do tonight, so call those lazy bastards and their mutts over here. Now." He vanished from behind the judges. He reappeared next to Growley, who was a good dog and had not moved.
The announcer, harried, his eloquence and professionalism shreds of their former well-bred selves, stumbled through the contestants. He somehow confused a Komondor for a giant schnauzer, which made Crowley grin, though recovered after a bit of blustering.
To nobody's surprise, the judges saved the worst for last. Crowley waited patiently for the Tibetan mastiff to finish and once the enormous dog was out of the way, Crowley led Growley to the judges' table.
The judges stared at the invisible dog before them. Or rather they stared at the dog's collar, which was the only indication of the Hellhound's position. Not one of them moved to examine the dog. They had no idea what parameters Hellhounds were to be judged upon, and they were terrified of upsetting the dog and losing a hand in the process.
"How do we do this? I mean…oh God, how?" one of the judges finally asked, his voice cracking with terror and despair.
Crowley pressed a palm against his forehead. "Silly me, you've never judged Hellhounds before. Luckily, there's a guidebook." Crowley reached into his suit and from some inner pocket produced a booklet. A booklet he'd written himself.
The judges paged through the booklet and whispered among themselves. Crowley twiddled his thumbs and tried not to smile every time a judge exclaimed about something in the book, though he couldn't quite help himself when they got to the section on extra eyes and the protrusion of lumbar ridges.
"Educated yourselves, have you?" Crowley asked when the judges finished.
With the grimness of men and women being led to the gallows, the judges rose from their table and approached Growley. One of them collided with the Hellhound's side, and was treated to a low warning growl for his clumsiness. Crowley gave the leash a quick tug and shushed the dog.
"Dude, I think that judge is touching a Hellhound's junk," Dean said.
"Can't be any worse than touching its mouth. The breath alone…" Bobby replied.
"Its junk," Dean repeated.
"Got it, thanks, Dean," Sam said.
The judges continued their charade, randomly patting Growley's side or commenting on the quality of his coat or trying not to gag when he breathed sulfur and bloated carcass on them, until Crowley looked happy with their efforts. Then, moving like a single terrified animal, the judges scurried back to their table and fell into hushed discussion.
In what had to be the quickest decision ever reached in the 130-year history of the dog show, the judges named Growley the best working dog. One of the judges commented that the Hellhound was possibly the most exquisite specimen he'd ever seen. Another called Crowley the most handsome dog owner by far.
The contest for best in show was a farce, a circus, a kangaroo court, and it ended with a large ring of fire burning on the floor and the owner of the Brussels griffon being removed from the premises on a stretcher. It was the single most exciting three minutes Dean had ever seen on television. It also implied that the world of competitive dog sports was entangled with the world of demons and crossroad deals.
Crowley paraded around with the ribbon for a minute, holding it aloft and then pinning it to Growley's collar. He led the Hellhound up to the pedestal erected for best in show, but found the structure underwhelming. To add a bit of flare and remind Growley of home, Crowley snapped his fingers and a low wall of fire circled the pedestal. Growley obviously approved of his master's work, for the Hellhound wagged his tail furiously.
Before any of the losers could go home to lick their wounds, Crowley had one more thing he had to do. Fair was fair, and he owed someone a soul.
The owner of the Brussels griffon stopped dead in his tracks when Crowley appeared in front of him. The man, a slight, pale fellow, yelped like a scalded spaniel.
"You did sell your soul six months ago last week to ensure you won this competition, didn't you, David?" Crowley asked.
"And you did lose, thus negating the deal. Sorry about stealing your thunder, Davey. I wanted the ribbon more than your measly soul."
"Okay, but why—"
"Yes, why this year? Well, I've got the souls of the winners for the next eight years in my pocket, so it hardly matters to me. You got lucky and you get your soul back, instead of the nice lady who wins next year. You get to enjoy your mongrel and my Hellhound doesn't get a new chew toy. Oh well."
Crowley proceeded to grip the back of David's neck and pull him in for a kiss that would live in infamy. The demon and David stayed lip-locked until David fainted. Crowley made no attempt to catch the man as he fell. He only winked at the camera that had captured and broadcast the whole event.
Leaving David to the paramedics, Crowley sauntered back to his Hellhound. He walked through the ring of fire without scorching a single thread and took up the dog's leash once more. He bowed to the audience, blew a kiss to the judges, and then was gone as suddenly as he'd appeared.
In Bobby's living room, everyone, even Dean, was silent. Dean and silence didn't get on very well, though, and eventually he found his tongue.
"I lost all respect for Ewok-dog guy. I mean, making a deal with Crowley to win a dog show? Pathetic," Dean said.
"People don't know how valuable their souls are," Sam said.
"Or how bad Hell sucks," Dean added.
Dean fell into philosophic silence, and both Sam and Bobby wondered if he wasn't flashing back to his own time in the pit. Sam prepared to offer hugs.
"In all seriousness, though, do you think Crowley really knows who's going to win for the next eight years? I don't know about you, but I am secure enough in my masculinity to bet on frou-frou dogs," Dean said.
"Dean, just shut the hell up."
Thanks for reading.