Author: Regala Electra
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Spoilers: S1, allusion to S2 “In My Time of Dying”
Summary: Dean Winchester’s never had a pet. Sure, he’s seen some strays in his childhood, but they were never his.
Word Count: 1,064
Author’s Notes: Title inspired by Monica Youn’s poem Drawing for Absolute Beginners: The bone begging bowl.
They never have a pet.
It makes sense. On the road more than half the year and even when they’ve temporarily settled in an actual town, the weekends never promise a moment of time to go play fetch with a dog in a woody little park. Instead, camping grounds and suspiciously friendly parks are investigated for signs of monsters. A dog would be a good treat to some of the things they hunt.
Yes, they are other animals but nothing else is a likely companion. Dean doesn’t trust cats. They’re too calculating, waiting for opportunity to strike. Plus, Dean doesn’t think he’s ever seen a cat hanging its head out of a car window, taking in the breeze. They don’t have the ears for it: flopping every which way the wind blows. A dog though, so long as it ain’t a hell hound or a black dog, is there for the long haul.
But Dad’s told them no pets and Dean listens to his father. He never has a pet dog.
There are dogs all over the country, rangy mutts with matted fur, little terriers with wetted hairy bearded muzzles, big old pedigrees that a person falls in love with just ‘cause they look so damn noble, that remember a kid in ratty Salvation Army-issue clothes.
Dean never introduces himself, offers a name, because he figures there’s no point to it.
They remember the taste of leftover bones – heavy big bones from bargain family-sized cuts of meat. Sometimes these dogs dream (because dogs do dream; such heavy and simple things) of water poured out of flasks in makeshift bowls. The boy-almost-man always figures out that secret itch and scratches away the trouble, murmuring words that sound good.
Dean never names the dogs. That would imply ownership.
Research at libraries, mind-numbingly boring as it is, allows Dean some time to look up on the current stray that has crossed his path. He can name more breeds of terriers than he’d ever admit to and he can figure out a mutt’s mixed heritage without even bothering to study the shape of the dog’s head. The best books to use as a reference are ones that bear the recommendation of the Kennel Club and his first sight of the word bitch is thanks to these dog books.
He ain’t ever gonna admit this out loud, but he’s always wanted to come across a stray Yorkie. Yeah, he knows, they’re yappy and excitable and okay, they’re total chick dogs.
But he’s got this idea in his head, something lazy and warm that hasn’t managed to get squashed, not even after all the shit he’s seen. Bright eyes and a coat of tan and blue hair (blue ‘cause it’ll start off black and turn grey as the puppy grows into a dog) and a smart little dog, one that’ll know when to stay quiet and be content to sleep curled up at the edge of a motel bed. He’ll keep the ears big and floppy, so when the dog puts its head out of the window, they’ll get pushed up and look like big old bat ears and every time, Dean knows that he’d chuckle at the sight of it.
It stays an idea, though. Better that way.
When Sam comes bursting into his teen years, the beginning of the end, as Dean would later realize, he’s got all sorts of questions for Dean and Dad. Questions that can’t be answered beyond Dad’s standard issue, “You’ll do as I say.”
One of the petty grievances is Sam’s irritation that he can’t take care of an elderly neighbor’s sleek-coated Irish Setter. Sam, better at arguing than any person Dean’s come across (and he is the offspring of one John Winchester, a man that argues with the weather forecast being true even when it’s raining buckets), has a laundry’s list of reasons why it’s okay, in fact, it’s totally fine to take care of the dog.
No. That’s the answer, driven like a jackhammer to stubborn cement, like it should be a surprise to Sam. No way to ask Dad for an affirmative answer to anything. Dean’s pretty sure if he had been stupid enough to ask advice about girls or get permission to spend a night away from home, having sex with the first girl who said yes, he’d still be on friendly terms only with his right hand.
Sam pitches up a maelstrom of a bitchfest about Dad’s final ruling but the Irish Setter, the one that liked to chase after a desiccated ancient stuffed teddy bear, is sent away to live with their neighbor’s nephew.
Dean would’ve let Sam in on the secret but the only time Dean ever tried to feed a stray in Sam’s presence, Sam had gone on about how they needed to bring the poor animal to a kennel and how that’s the normal thing to do.
Years later, when Dean’s gracelessly moving into the upper part of his twenties, Sam towering over him (bastard), Dean gets distracted from gathering information about a hunt thanks to a bright-eyed little Yorkie. The woman they’ve been interviewing (today they’re plainclothes detectives), notices him staring and starts yammering about pedigrees and how she wishes she’d had a chance at the pick of litter, because this little guy right here was going to get big, like that’s a bad thing.
Dean just smiles and tells her a lie, like he always does.
When he and Sam make their way back to the car, Sam intones, channeling their dad, like that isn’t spooky as hell, “No, Dean. We can’t get a dog.”
Rolling off the comment, Dean just says, “Dude, like I’d want a little fluffball like that.”
“Yeah, you need a big dog to reassert your heterosexuality. You’d probably name him Killer.”
Dean starts up the car, music blasting out the stereo, and it’s a perfect reaction – Sam’s annoyance at the guitar wailing. “I’d name the dog Princess, after you, Sammy.”
Dean will never name a dog, as long as he lives, he’s decided. Never even thought about picking out a name since when you start naming things, they belong to you.
He’s got Dad, his brother, and his car. Those are enough. It’s not right to want for more.
The thing about never owning a pet?
Dean’ll never have to bury one either.