Not Anybody's

Sam was crazy. He couldn't believe he'd just agreed to take in a dog. There was something about what the vet said. He's not anybody's. Sam knew the feeling. He was broken too. It felt like he'd been run over and his guts were smeared all over the street. This wasn't the first time his brother had died, but it was the first time Sam didn't have a body to bury or burn. Without his brother, without dad, without Bobby... Sam was not anybody's either. Every scrap of life he'd worked to build was gone, and all he had left were fake IDs and fraudulent credit cards. There was nothing honest.

Sprawled on the bed in his motel room, he absently surfed the channels on TV, pausing at every dog food commercial and thinking wistfully of the poor animal he'd hit with Dean's car. Dean was going to kill him when he saw the damage to the front bumper. The dog had tried to run away from him at first. It was scared and confused—as scared and confused as a person coming to grips with the existence of the supernatural. Something crashed outside the motel room door, and Sam's hand was on his gun instantly. He glanced out the window and saw a frustrated traveler kicking a broken piece of luggage. It was a normal, human thing. Nothing supernatural.

As much as Sam wanted to drink, he knew he shouldn't. He had to be safe to drive or run away. There was no one left for him to lean on. Everyone died. He could wait all night for Castiel to appear or for Dean to come running through that door, but there wasn't much point in waiting. They didn't know he was here, and he couldn't stay long. The problem with credit card scams was that he always had to stay one town ahead of the flagged charges.

Returning to the bed, Sam flopped face down. Sleep eluded him. He wanted to mourn for his brother, but it was easier to focus his energy on the dog. He felt guilty about the dog, but not defeated. The dog was going to live. It gave him hope.

Fine, I'll take him.

Step one to integrating a dog into one's home was... to have a home. The thought made Sam shudder. A home. An address. The thought should have scared him, and it did, but not in the way he expected. He wasn't afraid of settling down; he was afraid he'd never be able to. It was like seeing a dream dangled in front of him and not daring to hope that he'd be able to hold onto it.

The next morning, Sam went to the animal hospital to visit his dog. The thought of having anything dependent on him right now was exhausting, but as soon as they let him in to see the dog, Sam felt relief and peace. The dog didn't know him, but seemed excited for company. He licked Sam's hand and wagged his tail. Sam pet the dog and sat next to him, trying to keep the dog from getting up and moving around. The vet didn't want the dog's stitches agitated.

"Hello," Sam said softly. It felt weird talking out loud to a dog, but there was something therapeutic about it too. Unlike all the times he'd tried to talk to his brother, this dog was not angry at Sam for anything, or judgmental. The dog didn't care that Sam used to be addicted to demon blood or lost his soul for a year. "I'm Sam. I'm the guy that nearly killed you. Incidentally, I'm also the guy that is going to adopt you."

The dog nuzzled Sam's crotch, then rested its head on Sam's lap.

"Glad you're not opposed to that idea," Sam said, shifting uncomfortably. The visiting room in the animal hospital was a small pen with metal walls. It was designed for sterility and containment, and didn't feel happy at all.

"I didn't mean to adopt you," Sam rambled. "See, there was this girl, and she was talking to me, but she wasn't happy, and I think I would have a agreed to anything to get her to smile at me. And as someone who's made deals with demons, I know something about agreeing to anything."

The dog lifted his head, yawned, then laid his head on Sam's lap again. Sam laughed, taking the yawn as a sign of the dog's lack of interest.

"You should pay attention," Sam chuckled, ruffling the dog's fur. "As my dog, chick magnet is among your primary responsibilities."

No response.

Sam scratched the dog's ear and laughed to himself again. "Fine. I'll wait until you heal."

The dog craned his neck, trying to get Sam's hand by his ear again, and Sam obliged, scratching lightly. The dog's needs were simple and love was so easy to give. Even in this depressing room, Sam felt hope.

"What do I even call you?" Sam murmured. "If I name you after my brother, would that be honoring his memory or insulting it? And what if he came back? That would be awkward."

The dog heard a noise in the hall and lifted his head, wagging his tail. Sam put both hands on the dog's shoulders, keeping him from getting up and agitating the stitches on his belly. The dog had long, ugly scars, like Dean, but the dog would heal. And Sam would be sad calling his brother's name all the time but never having him back.

This dog was a chance for a fresh start. Something new. Something better and more peaceful than what he'd had before. No more chasing monsters and sleeping with a gun under his pillow. Sam would live the life he'd always wanted—the life he'd always dreamed about.

Leaning over, Sam kissed the dog on top of its head, and the dog kissed back, licking Sam's nose and cheeks. Sam had never been so happy from feeling something so gross. He squeezed his eyes shut, feeling the dog's warm wet tongue on his eyelids, his brow, and in his hair. He wanted to laugh, but he didn't dare open his mouth. The dog's tail wagged rapidly and it started rolling, trying to heave itself up on its broken leg. Sam hugged his dog, and did his best to keep the dog still. He could imagine being happy with his dog for a long time. For the first time, his life wouldn't be about killing monsters and fighting in a futile effort not to die young... it'd be about living.

Chuckling to himself, he nuzzled against the dog's furry face. "And here, I thought I was rescuing you," he whispered.