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The Importance of Turning Around Three Times Before Lying Down

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Later, he’ll realize that bringing the dog home isn’t the best idea he’s ever had.

Stiles isn’t about “later,” though. He’s all about living in the now. Well, in the now-and-everything-leading-up-to-now, which is maybe just another way of saying that he thinks about everything except the future, which is another way of saying that he doesn’t think things through. That’s what his dad will say, anyway.

It’s all lies, horrible lies, because Stiles totally thinks things through, it’s just that he’s an optimist. In his mental version of his future, his dad is unable to resist the dog’s many charms, and Stiles and the dog become best friends and constant companions, and maybe one day his steadfast protector saves him from certain doom when he like falls down a well or something. The point is, if one day he falls down a well and he doesn’t have a dog, he’s just going to die down there, all alone in the wet and cold, so having the dog is really a preventative safety measure. Like a seatbelt.

“I don’t really think your dad’s going to buy that argument, Stiles,” Scott says, with the doubtful look that makes his face look kind of like the wrinkly Shar Pei puppies in the cage behind him.

Stiles is really tempted to dig out his phone and take a picture of their matching worry-faces but to do that he’d have to take his hands off the dog on the exam table, and he doesn’t want to. It’s his dog. This is important bonding time. He’s pretty sure the first forty-eight hours are crucial for like... imprinting. Like ducks.

“You just don’t give my powers of persuasion enough credit,” Stiles says. He has his fingers buried in the thick ruff of fur at the dog’s neck, and he’s determined not to let go. It’s fate, he’s sure of it: Stiles and this dog are meant to be.

“You don’t have any powers of persuasion,” Scott says. “If you did you’d already have a dog. You’ve been begging your dad for one since you were like five.

“I know! That’s why he totally owes this to me. He’s been depriving me for my entire childhood. And now that I am nearly a man, it’s important that he allows me to make my own life choices.”

“I don’t think he’s going to buy that either,” Scott says. He uses his gentle tone of voice like he’s delivering bad news, but it’s not bad news, just pessimistic predictions based on a lack of positive thinking. Like a weather report. “Listen, dude, I totally agree that you should have a dog because you are seriously killer at cuddling puppies when you come by here after school. But just maybe... this dog might not be the right one for you.”

“Oh my god, are you kidding me?” Stiles says, and he thinks he’s a miracle he even manages to say anything around his shock and dismay, because what is Scott trying to do here, make him cry? “This is the most awesome dog that has ever existed. This dog is perfect for me.”

“He was growling at you the whole time when you brought him in here, Stiles. And not like ‘hey somebody just hit me with a car and my leg hurts’ growling. More like ‘I am going to rip your face off with my teeth’ growling. How did you even get him in your car?”

Stiles shrugs and strokes one finger along the top of the dog’s very long snout, from the top of his nose to the warm, soft fur between his eyes. “We have a special bond,” he says, gazing fondly down at the sleeping face of his new forever friend. The dog looks kind of ridiculous because he’s still sedated enough to be totally stoned, blinking super-slowly with his long pink tongue unfurled messily on the exam table. “We have a deep rapport in our souls, Scott. He trusts me. Also he was a little unconscious at the time.”

Scott’s looking at the dog’s mouth too, but he doesn’t seem to just be taking a moment to appreciate the adorableness of the dog’s sleepy drool face. And it’s not even professional interest either; it becomes apparent that he’s not checking the dog’s breathing or the color of its gums when he says, “His teeth are freaking huge, Stiles. And so’s his whole skull. And his feet.”

“I know, he’s like the most bad-ass beautiful dog who ever lived,” Stiles agrees. It’s true, he just didn’t expect Scott to admit it, since Scott is suddenly totally anti-dog, since on this crucial matter Scott has apparently abandoned Team Stiles.

Seriously, though, this is like the most amazing dog that Stiles has ever seen, and Stiles has seen a lot of dogs, because his dad’s refusal to let him get one has contributed to Stiles’ compulsive window-shopping at dog adoption websites online, where he likes to fall completely in love with at least one dog per week. He can see now that those were nothing but shallow infatuations, because this is love, and this dog is clearly meant for Stiles because he’s basically everything Stiles has ever wanted. He’s huge, for a start, which is great because Stiles has always liked big dogs the best, has always harbored a secret fantasy of having a canine soul-brother so big it could put its paws on his shoulders to give him a hug, and this dog totally qualifies for the position on size alone. (Although in retrospect, that year Stiles spent trying to convince his dad that they should get a Great Dane might have hurt the dog cause more than it helped.) He takes up the whole exam table, and this is the big exam table, the one Stiles himself once stretched out on for a very uncomfortable nap. The dog does have pretty huge feet, like snowshoes, and his legs are really long like he’s maybe young and still growing into them. He’s dark but not quite solid black; his coat has these awesome kind of silvery undertones around his eyes, down the sides of his neck and along the lines of his flanks and haunches. He looks kind of like the German Shepherd on the K-9 unit at the sheriff’s department, if that dog had been bombarded with gamma radiation and turned into the magnificent doggy version of the Hulk. He looks like how Stiles has always pictured Sirius Black’s dog-shape. It’s like this dog has walked out of all of Stiles’ childhood dreams and into the real world just because Stiles wanted it hard enough.

“He is pretty awesome looking,” Scott admits. “He just doesn’t seem like a dog to me. He looks more like a wolf.”

Stiles sighs, because Scott’s attempts to talk him out of this are just getting desperate now. They’ve discussed this. There is a special bond. “Scott, there aren’t any wolves in California. There haven’t been for like eighty years.”

“Okay, but people breed them, Stiles. Like as pets. Maybe he escaped from somewhere? And there are wildlife sanctuaries that have wolves. Doctor Deaton said he used to work with a vet who treated like bears and hyenas and things at one of those places.”

“I don’t know why you’re trying to talk me out of this,” Stiles says. He narrows his eyes at Scott because Scott’s not being rational about this. Maybe he’s just worried that Stiles won’t hang around with him as much now that Stiles has his own living patronus. “He’s just a dog, Scott. Look at him. He looks too pathetic to be a wolf. Let’s think this through.”

It’s no lie, the dog does look pretty pitiful. Aside from how ridiculous his face looks (Stiles is beginning to think that Scott gave the dog way too much sedation, because he’s looking pretty rough), he’s got a shaved patch on his front leg with a catheter sticking out, which is connected to the IV fluid bag. His other front leg is encased in a shiny new cast that stretches nearly the whole length of the leg and which Scott for some ungodly reason has chosen to finish off in bright lime green. The dog’s skinnier than he ought to be, his coat gritty with dirt and little bits of leaf and all the signs of a sad, lonely life lived in the woods, abandoned and uncared for. It makes Stiles kind of sad just looking at him.

“Well,” Scott says, and Stiles can tell just from the tone of his voice that he’s wavering on his stupid anti-dog stance. “I guess you could just take him for awhile, while he’s recuperating? Then if your dad’s really pissed we can find him a good home.”

“He already has a good home,” Stiles says, and then just in case that makes it sound like he stole the dog from somebody’s yard and then concocted the rest of the story, he adds, “by which I mean my home. Dad’s going to love him. Or grow to love him, at least. Just you wait and see.”

“Sure,” Scott says, though he sounds doubtful. “Is your dad at home now?”

“Nah, he’ll be out all night, probably. He got a call earlier about a body in the woods. I was on the way over to your place to tell you about it, actually; I totally forgot about it when I saw the dog get hit.”

“Wow, that’s a little more excitement than we usually get around here,” Scott says, looking wide-eyed. “Do they know what happened?”

“I don’t think so,” Stiles says. “Some hikers found the body, but that’s about all I know. Well... they found half the body.”

“That’s... disgusting,” Scott says, his face screwed up in a grimace.

“I know, right? I was going to suggest we go looking for the other half, but now I have responsibilities. I need to get my bad-ass new dog home and nurse him back to health. Are you finished with him? He still looks kind of dopey.”

“Oh, yeah, I’m done,” Scott says, and starts unwinding the tape from around the catheter so he can take it out. “When he started waking up before I gave him another dose of sedative, so he might be out of it for awhile. I’ll give you some medication to feed him for the pain, and antibiotics. You can just put the pills in some meat or peanut butter and he’ll probably take them no problem.”

“Are you even qualified to do this?” Stiles asks him, while they’re carrying the dog out to the Jeep. It’s a lot easier with two people to do the carrying and with the dog currently unable to threaten anybody’s life; the dog’s still mostly asleep when they get him settled in the back. “You’re not going to get in trouble with Deaton, are you?”

“Well, I’m not going to tell him,” Scott says, like the idea of honesty is absurd, which is a fair point because they are teenagers. Full disclosure isn’t really their strongest point. “I’ll clean up in there, it won’t be a big deal. He’ll probably know I did it anyway and be secretly happy that I didn’t bother to call him in for it; he always has like book club or something on Fridays, he doesn’t really like to be interrupted.”

“Huh,” Stiles says, and closes the Jeep’s back door on the sight of his doped-up pet. “Allowing teenagers to run x-ray machines and set casts without any sort of professional certification seems kind of unprofessional.”

“Oh, sorry,” Scott says, and he’s sounding kind of pissy now so Stiles should’ve maybe shut his mouth like five minutes ago. “We can go back in and I’ll take the cast off so you can come back during business hours and pay Deaton to do it.”

“No no, you did a wonderful, fantastic job, Scott, you are the best friend ever and might I say that you are a staggeringly good veterinary technician.”

“You’re damn right. I already gave him shots for tonight so you can start his pills in the morning, just follow the directions on the labels,” Scott says. He hands over a pair of plastic bottles, which Stiles stuffs into his pockets. “I’ll call you tomorrow to make sure your new dog hasn’t eaten you. Seriously, man, be careful okay? That’s a really big dog and he didn’t seem all that friendly. When you put the muzzle on him so I could do the catheter he was kind of making murder-eyes at me.”

“Don’t worry about it, Scott, really,” Stiles says, as he climbs into the driver’s seat. “I’m sure when he’s feeling better his attitude will improve. Plus, we have a--”

“Bond, yeah, I know,” Scott says, but the look on his face is less I recognize your deep spiritual connection and more I know what you’re going to say because you always say stupid things. Which is unfair because usually Scott’s the one who says stupid things.

“He totally loves me,” Stiles agrees, and drives off into his new, glorious future of dog ownership.