thanks. thank you, brynwulf — !
notes. 2000wc. of crackfic: Jensen is a dog. Literally.
Happiness is a warm puppy.
Charles M. Schulz
Jensen’s on his phone, he’s saying “Yeah, look, I know, but you sure? It’s this place that’s supposed to be really awesome and they have fifty-two kinds of beer on tap. Fifty two!”
Jared’s voice is a murmur on the other end, some lame excuse about a vet appointment early or something.
“Your loss,” Jensen says. He’s laughing, he hears Jared laughing on the other end but it’s not really funny at all.
He’s only vaguely aware of what just happened and he’s honestly sure that he wants to know. He’s standing at a bar, there’s this girl - black hair, wide smile, actual flesh on actual bones and she’s looking at him like breakfast and Christmas - and then. He’s a dog.
That was a given, but - actual dog. Four paws, muzzle, tail, ears. Dog. The girl apparently didn’t like dogs and immediately that’s a check in the “No” column because.
Or possibly a puppy. Jensen doesn’t have an explanation, and at this point his concern is more for acquiring a place to sleep (because this shit is tiring, shutup) and maybe not getting caught by Animal Control - it’s no surprise that’s he’s ducked in and out of shadows enough to find himself at Jared’s doorstep, Sadie and Harley barking inside. Jensen parks his dog ass on the welcome mat and scratches at the door; when Jared opens it Jensen feels his body relax, his head tilt and look up up up.
Jared crouches down, shows the back of his hand and Jensen leans in, sniffs like he knows a dog’s supposed to. Jared’s murmuring at him, soft stuff like where’s your mom or dad, huh? and you get lost, boy?
Am I ever, Jensen thinks.
Jensen sits quietly - he doesn’t want to risk spooking Jared - he listens to Jared on the phone, saying something like yeah, it’s a stray– no, no, I’ll take care of him. No collar, don’t think there’s a chip but I’ll come in to check. I have dogs, I can take care of him for a while– yeah, sure, that’d be awesome. Yeah I’ve got enough stuff, heh, definitely– No, looks like a good dog. Small, maybe up to my knee, black with white bits. Like a shepherd, but smaller. Yeah, male. Not fixed, but mine are and I’ll keep him leashed or in the yard– No, really, no need to come out. I was just checking to see if someone had lost him but if not– Yes, of course I understand it’s a big commitment– Yeah– Listen. He showed up on my doorstep, I’ve got enough supplies and definitely enough cash to take care of all of them. Don’t come out here, I’ll take care of him myself.
Jensen stays by Jared’s ankles. Jared practically slams the phone down; Jensen jumps a little. He’s not used to seeing Jared mad and if he wasn’t a dog he’d have flinched.
Jared sees, he crouches down and rubs knuckles against Jensen’s chest.
“It’s okay,” Jared says. “You can stay with me.”
Jared talks to his dogs a lot. Means he talks to Jensen a lot, too. Jensen forgets names a lot, he doesn’t really catch them. Jared does something when Jensen’s doggy ears perk up at the name ‘Jensen,’ - Jared makes this little repetitive sound and Jensen’s not actually sure it’s a laugh . He knows lots of phrases but it’s like his words are slipping away.
Apparently, Jensen-as-dog enjoys car rides about as much as regular Jensen: which is to say - a lot. Jared lets him sit in the front, harness attached to the seatbelt, and he’s got his paws up on the dash like he isn’t supposed to and he barks out the window and when Jared slides a hand over Jensen’s side, he relaxes bone deep easy.
“Jack” Jared says, finally naming him. “Like a cowboy. A little one.”
Jensen doesn’t really understand Jared all that much anymore, like maybe mayhaps he’s losing English, losing words and how they should work together. Or something. Jared bounces a ball, Jensen tears after it, beats out Harley and Sadie; they all run back and Jared laughs almost like Jensen remembers. Sort of remembers. He’s thirsty and can’t think straight.
The dogs don’t sleep on the bed; they sleep on doggy beds at the foot of the big bed. Half the time Sadie ends up on top of Harley and Jensen’s taken to stealing Sadie’s bed, she’s closer to Jared and he likes that - not sure why. When Jared gets up in the night for some water, Jensen moves before Jared trips over him and follows Jared into the kitchen, Jared lets him lick water from his hand and that’s nice, it’s good and one day, if he’s a good dog, Jared might let him up on the big bed, like he’s a good dog.
Good boy, Jared says, and Jensen understands that perfectly.
Jared’s dressed all dark, Jensen’s not sure why and neither is Sadie or Harley, even though Jensen has no idea what they’d be thinking anyways, he hasn’t figured it out yet. Sun’s warm, there’s frost on the ground and it sticks to his paws. He picks up his paws as he walks, paws a little at Jared’s legs hoping to get picked up.
Jared looks tired but Jensen knows Jared slept all night, except for those hiccupy-sounds that woke him up but it was probably just something else. Sadie and Harley and him get loaded up into the back of the big truck and Jensen sits down and looks forward, keeps his eyes on Jared because Jared seems sad or something and Jensen wants to maybe pet him or something, like he wishes he was being petted.
Jared talks to his dogs a lot and Jensen likes that because the more he pays attention the more he remembers, the more he understands and sometimes when he feels too much like a dog it’s good to listen to Jared - it’s always good to listen to Jared - and listen to a voice he knows, that’s familiar and saying things he should be understanding. Things like sets and crews and Kraft Services and things like that, lines and rewrites and search parties all over Southern B.C. and things like that.
I’m looking for somebody, Jared says. They’re in a forest and Jared tugs a little at the big collar around Jensen’s neck. He has a very long rope and a whistle and water and Sadie and Harley have little backpacks on their backs and Jensen wishes he had one too. He’s smaller than me but just a little, Jared says, he’s got dark hair and nice eyes and the last time I saw him he was wearing jeans and a jacket, a leather one. You know leather, right boy? right? You gonna help me look for him?
There’s something in this conversation that Jensen’s missing, something he knows he should know. Jared smiles and shows teeth, Jensen barks and he feels his tail sweep against the dirt and fallen leaves.
Jared sighs a little, his hand is on Jensen’s back and moving up and down slow, ruffing fur, going against and with, Jensen shifts and sticks his ears under Jared’s hand, asks for earscritches.
The vet’s voice is quiet, low. Jensen understands “wrong” and “not normal” but he forgot what “anomaly” means or if “deformity” is good or bad, could go either way.
When the vet leaves, Jared picks him up gently, looks at him carefully - eyes over hind paws and belly and fore paws and muzzle and everything - says nothing wrong with you, nothing I don’t love.
Quieter, he says, I wish Jensen was here.
Jared must have let him sleep on the bed, because hell if the doggy beds have ever been this comfortable. Or warm, but maybe that’s the arm over his side. It knocks at his elbows, his calves tangled awkwardly with cold feet not his, pajama bottoms that he doesn’t really recognise.
Jensen opens an eye, blearly, the red numbers on the alarm read 5:30 and really, just a few more minutes okay? Come on. It’s not like he has anything to do today besides get fed or be taken for walks or have Jared pet him in between takes.
Jared’s screams are surprisingly high-pitched.
Jensen shakes his head, tries to lick his balls- wait.
He lifts himself up straight. His belly is itchy, he scratches and yawns and Jared stands there openmouthed, gaping, not saying anything.
Jared stands there. Finally, he says, “Jensen. What happened?”
He keeps his voice calm, as if he was still talking to the little dog that slept at the foot of the bed, that Sadie and Harley played gently with.
Jensen yawns again, he knows he’s baring his teeth but he doesn’t mean anything by it. He half expects his ears to twitch back idly. When he talks his voice is rough, it comes out hard. “Don’t know.”
Words are stilted. “Something switched, I don’t know. I was at a bar and then- I had paws. Started running here, don’t know why.”
He sits cross-legged on the floor, doesn’t seem to notice his nose is about crotch-level on Jared.
Jared swallows, Jensen hears it. “I think you need a doctor, Jensen,” Jared says.
Jensen agrees easily, imagines treats and cookies.
Jared keeps a hand on Jensen’s arm, Jensen doesn’t need to be led but he doesn’t mind. Things are a little bit clearer, or maybe it’s just the air higher up. He wonders about vet visits.
“You didn’t set up an appointment to have me snipped, did you?” Jensen shifts as he walks, aware of his own body, the weight of all his individual parts stitched together.
Jared laughs, hitches a breath and sobers up. “Not exactly. The vet said you had really bad eyesight, like, going blind.” He turns, looks at Jensen closely. “But you’re not, right?”
“Nope,” Jensen says. “Nothing contacts or major surgery can’t fix.”
“Good,” Jared says, and he doesn’t look too closely at Jensen’s glasses.
Jensen sticks his head out of the window while driving to the set. It’s unnerving but Sherry-the-driver doesn’t ask too many questions. Jared pressed an open palm against Jensen’s arm and it’s no big deal, just a little tug to remember.
Jensen tries to go back to his apartment but he can’t sleep, it doesn’t feel right. He’s missing something and he doesn’t know exactly what. His bed feels too big for just him; his body curls up and he can’t help but miss his blankets, the warm bodies he’s used to.
He shows up on Jared’s doorstep at 6AM, Jared jokes something about ‘not again’ and Jensen realises he’s been missing Jared, he’s been missing the dogs. He doesn’t say anything but it weighs heavy on his mind.
“You want to come in?” Jared asks, and Jensen, well, sometimes Jensen forgets when he’s not supposed to do things like they’d be so easy, like slipping close and kissing Jared because he feels like it isn’t really supposed to be normal. He thinks about how even as a dog he wanted to stay close; this is where he feels safe and this is what he’s used to, from before. He remembered how Jared was so worried about him, the conversations Jared would have with him talking about Jensen–
“–I remember what you said,” Jensen says, “I know you meant it, don’t take it back now.” He feels Jared slides his hands up Jensen’s sides, it’s good. It feels good.
Jensen says, “I want to get a dog with you,” and it’s the most random thing ever. The most important thing ever.
Jared says, “Yeah.”
They go to a shelter and find a dog - Sadie and Harley are there, too, because they’re part of the family too - and they meet this dog - this medium-sized black girl, maybe five years old, and she’s the one. Sadie and Harley love her and when they take her home she ruffs out the car’s open window just a little bit, when Jensen turns the music up all the dogs bark like they’re singing along with it.
That night, she settles easy and doesn’t cry; the dogs are in a pile at the foot of the bed and they’re happy; they’re happy together.