It's Christmas time! (Not that I'm having the best Christmas, but that doesn't matter) So I have a brand new story idea for you. I know that the story about Bones, Sam's Hearing Dog, was popular, and I was kind of asked to continue that in a series, but I thought that I could be a little more creative, and after some thought and inspiration, I came up with another idea. It is very AU, and takes off completely from 6.22, but I really wanted to do it, and the success of my first service dog story encouraged me to think big. I came across an Guide and Seizure Alert Assistance Dog on Tumblr, and did a little research (by the way, I live in the UK, and we have registered Assistance Dogs here) and found out a lot about her - here is her Twitter if you would like to know what I'm talking about: /Hetty_BG. Anyway, so that was very inspiring for a story. But I can bang our little Sammy up worse than that, so I finally finished, combining all my ideas together to create a German Shepherd - courtesy of Dog Dean Afternoon, I thought it was appropriate - Mobility Assistance, Seizure Alert and Psychiatric Service Guide Dog called Hannah, the closest name I could think of to Hetty.
Disclaimer: First of all, Sam and Dean etc are obviously not mine, I'm just using them. Sorry, boys. And second, the picture on this file I found on Google, searching 'German Shepherd Service Dog'. I have no idea who it is, or anything, I am just using the picture as an imagination help - this is mostly what I have decided Hannah looks like. And finally, I am not in contact or in any way related to the Assistance Dog Hetty or her owners, I just found out about her and researched her. Also, I got the original inspiration idea from this story - s/7106630/1/Along-Came-Zepp - and changed it and developed it into my own. Oh, and one more thing - this is just a story, so some of the details may be incorrect, such as the timing and small things. It's fine, it's just a story.
I think maybe Trigger Warnings may apply, and if you think this might trigger you - descriptions of PTSD, seizures; that type of thing - then please be careful reading if you still want to. This is kind of a very big project for me, because I do intend to make this one into a series, and so I will do my best with this, and get down to writing. Thank you for reading, and I really hope you like the new story idea. Please tell me what you think! ~Rayne
Complete AU –
After 6.22, Sam has irregular seizures that disorientate him and begins to lose his sight. Dean takes him to the hospital and they confirm that he will be blind eventually and will always have the seizures. Desperately searching for help as Sam sinks deep into a depression, caused from PTSD from the memories of the cage, Dean and Bobby come across Guide Dogs for the Blind site and the idea of a cross trained assistance dog. Bobby manages to get in contact with someone that promises to start training a dog for them. The dog, a German Shepherd called Hannah, arrives a few months later, and Bobby and Dean nervously introduce Sam to his new companion; a Service Dog for Guiding, Seizure Alert, Mobility Assistance and Psychiatric Therapy.
Dean sighed as he sits down at Bobby's kitchen table. It had been five months since the whole Cas-God thing, four since Dean had dragged Sam to the hospital and got him diagnosed, and three since Bobby had told him that he had apparently managed to put their idea in action, and they just had to wait a few months.
Well, it had been a few months.
He didn't really know what Bobby had said 'their idea' for either. As far as he was concerned, he had given up right after Sam had, right after they had found that such an 'idea' would be way too expensive and not really ideal for them. Though, nothing was ideal at the moment.
He sighed again and glanced at the ceiling, as if he could see through walls and wood and see his little brother curled up in the corner of their room. Sam didn't eat enough to barely keep anything alive, and he only drank when a bottle of water was pressed into his hand. He constantly squeezed his eyes shut and then opened them wide, as if that would help, and then whimpered quietly when nothing happened. He almost always rocked himself to sleep, and sometimes Dean would put him in his bed when he had all but passed out from sleep deprivation. All in all, he had become a shell of the man he once was.
And the thing was, Dean felt like he had no fight left in him either. After the terrible two nights at the hospital, he felt he had barely slept either. The terrible letter with the formal diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder linked Depression and Eating Disorder, constantly disintegrating sight until Sam would be blind, and disorientating seizures was still on his desk, unfolded and collecting dust by now. Sam had read it, kind of by accident, when Dean had got it. Even when he felt he had to protect him, Dean didn't really feel it was his right to keep things from his brother.
After that letter, neither brother had done much. Sam had claimed the corner of the bedroom and spent most of his time there, only eating and drinking and showering and performing basic life functions when told, or more specifically ordered, by Dean and sometimes Bobby. But Bobby had stayed mostly out of attempting to take care of Sam. He had pursued Dean's 'crazy' idea, and apparently had managed to do something about it.
That had been months ago. Days had blended into days for Dean - try to get Sam to sleep, eat, drink, talk and even look at him was an everyday challenge. At least he hadn't given up on that, and he never would. He was just at a loss for how to actually help Sam.
Sam, who once could astound his brother, and everyone around him, with his intelligence and general 'geekiness'; Sam, who was one of the best damn hunters Bobby had ever seen. But it was hardly Sam any more. The boy hadn't spoken to anyone for about three weeks now, and hadn't smiled in what seemed like a lifetime, but was probably only a month. Dean could hardly stand just watching his brother fade away.
The seizures were another terrible thing. They came on usually without any warning that even Dean couldn't catch. Dean, who used to be able to faultlessly understand his brother, and would be able to know things about Sam before he did - like if he was getting sick, or if he was going to be reminded about Jess and become depressed for a week or two. But now Dean felt he hardly knew this new Sam at all.
It was worse than, say, Bristol, where he had that flashback, in what seemed like a whole life ago now. It was even worse than when Castiel broke his damn wall, and Sam had collapsed, gasping and flailing, trying to fruitfully escape the hell he was plunged into. These seizures didn't last long, but they were so much worse. They left him weak and panting, exhausted and sometimes crying. They hurt him, everywhere, especially his chest. Sometimes they would put him momentarily back into Lucifer's grasp, and he would scream for help when Dean was right next to him the whole time, unable to save him from the burning.
A couple of times, Dean even called an ambulance when Sam wouldn't wake up and seemed barely to be breathing. Despite all the problems with Sam, Dean felt like he was dying even quicker. He was barely holding himself together, and with no stubborn brother to insist he take care of himself while taking care of Sam, Dean wasn't at all thinking about himself. It was Bobby who had to order him to take a shower, or eat something. He didn't have an issue drinking - he drank far too much, of all the wrong liquids. But he didn't get drunk. After one terrible night with seizures and crying and no sleep, he turned to coffee and stayed there. The caffeine gave him the fumes to keep running on.
But Dean didn't know how much longer any of them were going to hold up. Sam was surely fading, and Dean was set to follow him, with barely anything but alcohol as a problem. Dean was running on fumes as Sam ran on fear, and they were both going to crash, and crash too hard for salvation. At the moment, Bobby was their savior. Sam wouldn't let anyone but Dean even touch him now, but he had began not even reacting to that either. Bobby would make sure Dean ate at least a little bit every day, and would cook soft foods for Sam.
Which, all in all, was why Dean was sitting at their surrogate father's kitchen table at four in the morning, five months and seven days after his brother's head broke, his own head in his hands and tears slipping silently down his face.
He must have fallen asleep, because the next thing he knew, someone was nudging him. He jerked upright, blinking away the tiredness and aftermath of crying from his eyes, and raised them to meet Bobby's.
Bobby sighed as he scanned Dean. It was six am, but it looked like the boy had been in the down in the kitchen for a couple of hours already. "You look like crap, boy," he muttered, walking past the table to the sink and filling the coffee jug, then turning back around and watching Dean. His voice softened. "You wanna go take a shower before you give Sam some water?"
Dean scrubbed his face with one hand and glanced at his watch, then up at Bobby. "Yeah... maybe," he replied vaguely, trying to work out if Sam would be awake, or if he had slept at all in the night. He sighed. Both were probably negative. He decided he would take a shower, as Bobby had suggested it.
He sighed again and stood up, stretching. "Yeah, I'll go have a shower quickly," he said with more conviction than his previous statement, and headed for the door as Bobby nodded at his back.
The elder hunter sighed and shook his head, returning to the coffee. His boys weren't the only ones who were having a very hard time. He was barely holding it together either, seeing the two he had basically raised just flake away. It was killing him.
He poured the coffee, and was about to take a sip when he was interrupted by a knocking at the door. Immediately wary, as any hunter would be, he carefully put down his mug and grabbed a knife before approaching the door. They didn't have 'visitors', as a general rule, so he had no idea who the hell would be knocking.
Bobby opened the door a crack and saw a fairly normal looking woman, who was glancing around. She was holding something in her hands and there was a truck behind her that the initials CPL on, with a paw print. Understanding filtered through, and Bobby fully opened the door, instinctively looking down.
Sure enough, there was a handsome looking German Shepherd dog lying at the woman's feet, and he could now read a tag that she had on her shirt - it read 'Kaona' and beneath said 'K9 4 life - Trainer'. Bobby stared. He knew this was going to happen, but it wasn't real really, because he hadn't seen it. But here was the proof right in front of him.
The woman, Kaona, smiled and held out a hand for him to shake. "Hello there. My name's Kaona. Are you Bobby Singer?" She asked. Bobby nodded numbly as they shook hands, and noticed a red vest and mobility guide harness on her other arm that was also holding the lead to the dog. He glanced down again. The German Shepherd looked steadily back at him, and in that moment, he knew this was the right choice.
"Yeah... hello," he finally replied. She smiled at him again, giving him a chance to take it in, that this was actually happening. He looked back down at the dog, at the woman, at the truck. Yep. This was actually really happening. It was almost a miracle - except of course, hunters don't believe in miracles.
"This gorgeous girl is Hannah," the trainer continued after a minute, gesturing to the German Shepherd. Bobby nodded again, watching the dog patiently lie there at the woman's feet. "She's one and a half years old and fully trained as primarily a guide and seizure alert dog, and there is a guiding handle attached to her harness," Kaona explained, lifting up the mobility harness for Bobby to see a medium length guide handle attached by clips to the back of of. "She also knows how to brace and help with balance after seizures, so she's a mobility assistance dog as well, which kind of comes with the seizure alert really." Kaona smiled at the look on Bobby's face - his expression told her that this was almost dreamlike, barely a reality. "And finally, she knows techniques such as bringing one out of flashbacks or dissociation, usually induced by PTSD, making her a psychiatric service dog too. That's what you requested, isn't it?"
Bobby just nodded once more, dumbfounded by the whole thing. He was half thinking about testing her for possession, but he didn't see how or even why a demon would go to such lengths. Kaona glanced down at the dog, Hannah, and commanded lightly, "stand."
Hannah immediately stood, ready to go. Kaona looked up at Bobby and asked politely, "may we come in? There's a few other things I would like to talk to you about." Bobby cleared his throat to talk but didn't; instead nodding a fourth time and stepping back so trainer and dog could enter. He shut the door after them and led Kaona to the sitting room and gesturing to the sofa and sitting down across from her.
Hannah lied down at her handler's feet at a single command from her, glancing around nonchalantly, as if this was just another place. She looked fully comfortable in the house already, and was regarding it as if she knew that she would be staying here.
Kaona began talking. She explained to Bobby about various things; she briefly outlined the intense training process Hannah had gone through, and about her temperament. She told him a bit more information about what the service dog could do, and gave him a letter all about Hannah. Then she went through the commands Hannah knew, and showed him how to put on her harness and vest - the red vest went first, and then the harness, with the longer guide handle at the back and the straight up mobility handle on top.
Bobby just listened, like in a dream. He vaguely thought to call Dean down, but he decided to wait for a bit. When Kaona paused and asked if he had any questions, he asked, rather than if this was really real, what they had to do now.
She smiled again, and told him, "now we will have to go through a bit of a familiarisation and partner training process with her and her handler - you said his name was Sam?" Bobby nodded and she continued. "Well, we have to assess how well they work together for a week or two. This doesn't mean I'm here all the time," she added with a little laugh. "No; I just would like to watch Sam and Hannah meet, and then I would like to come over every other day and just watch them on a short outing alone; I mean, just them and me watching, without you or his brother there, if possible."
Bobby grimaced and spoke for the second time; "I don't know how much Dean's gonna leave them alone," he admitted. "He's very protective of Sam, but hopefully Hannah will win him over quickly. She looks like a winner," he added, surprised at himself about how much he already was liking the intelligent looking dog wearing her gear, lying at her trainer's feet.
Kaona nodded understandingly. "Yes, I got that picture from the emails and phone calls," she replied with another smile. She was very nice and helpful, and Bobby began to accept this as a reality. Just an amazing reality. The trainer regarded him and asked, "could I possibly supervise the meeting now?"
Bobby thought for a moment. There was no reason why she couldn't, really. Dean ought to understand that the trainer needed to see the meeting and make sure it was going to be okay. He nodded at Kaona and got up, heading upstairs.
He found Dean in his and Sam's room, trying to convince his brother to drink from a water bottle he was holding out to him. By the looks of it, Dean had been partly successful at least. Bobby sighed and walked into the room.
"Boys," he called softly. Sam was startled at the slightest sound now, and Dean scolded anyone who scared Sam. As predicted, Sam jumped and curled even more in on himself, if that was possible from his already curled up position, and Dean huffed and glanced at Bobby with a frown. But it disappeared when he took in the elder hunter's serious expression.
"What is it?" Dean asked quietly, but urgently. He didn't move from his position, not wanting to startle Sam more.
Bobby glanced behind him, then back, and moved a little further into the room. "There's someone here to see you. Especially you, Sam," he addressed the younger hunter in a soothing voice, and Sam actually looked up slightly at the sound. "It's someone special, who really thinks they can help you," Bobby encouraged. Sam shifted as if thinking, glanced at Dean, and then looked back down. Dean sighed and looked at Bobby.
"Well, who?" He asked. Bobby knew he didn't want to subject Sam to hope if there was none, which there hadn't been so far. Bobby almost smiled. He could practically hear the hope in Dean's voice that he was holding back for Sam's sake; Bobby didn't know if Dean remembered and thought of what it might be, but it sounded like he would take anything at the moment.
"Someone special," Bobby simply repeated, and walked the way over to Sam to help Dean get him up. At first, Sam refused to stand, and Bobby thought of Hannah, so eager to obey her trainer's commands. He knew they were going to be perfect together already.
Eventually, Dean got Sam up and followed Bobby out of the room and down the stairs, practically towing his brother. Bobby paused outside the sitting room, briefly wondering whether the whole thing was a hallucination brought on my delusional hope, before glancing at Dean, who raised an eyebrow at him, then at Sam, who was as usual just staring silently at the ground, and then taking a breath and opening the door.
Kaona and Hannah looked up expectantly as Bobby entered the room with the boys behind him. He turned around in front of Hannah and addressed Dean and Sam.
"This is Kaona, a trainer for Canine Companions for Life. And this... is Hannah, a German Shepherd Service Dog for Sam," he told them, and stepped aside, ready to watch the 'meeting', as Kaona had called it.
Sam could still see a little bit, and definitely enough to take in the fairly big GSD, vested with a guide mobility harness. There was nothing for a second, and then Sam dropped to his knees.
Dean was scared and startled, almost thinking Sam was about to have a seizure or start crying or something, and threw a helpless glance at Bobby, before he really saw what his brother was doing. Sam was sitting in front of Hannah, offering her a hand to sniff. Kaona quietly told her to sit, and she did, sniffing Sam over. Then she put her paw on his chest and whined.
The effect was amazing. Sam smiled - really smiled, for the first time in weeks - and started stroking the dog, whispering. Dean bent down next to them; not enough to be in their area, but enough to protect Sam if needed, and listen to what Sam was saying.
Dean was scared at first; he could make out that Sam kept repeating 'Lucifer' and 'hell', which definitely wasn't good, but he was smiling too, so it must be something good. Then he heard a sentence; "and they, oh Lucifer, he couldn't even think of something like this, there's no way there could be something as good as this in hell, it can't just be a hallucination, it can't be - in fact I won't let it, I won't let Lucifer, I won't let him make me think of this, I just want to believe in it..."
Dean was stunned. He sat back on his heals and looked at Bobby, who just smiled at him. And for the first time in weeks, Dean smiled too. Kaona, watching the little family, couldn't help her own easy smile. She dropped Hannah's lead, doubting she needed it and wanting to see what the new owner did. In fact she doubted Sam had seen her at all.
Sure enough, noticing Hannah's lead on the floor, Sam picked it up and looked closely at it. There was a badge that was designed to be on the lead, stating 'Do Not Separate Service Dog and Handler'. Hannah pawed Sam's hand, making him pet her more, partly forgetting her manners. She knew this man; she had smelt his things, she had heard his voice on the phone. And she knew that she was meant to be with him. Sam finally let the tears come and threw his arms around her, holding his savior close, never to let her leave him.