Life in hell is good.
She has always preferred it down here where it is nice and warm, where she has her own cozy little corner to curl up in, her pack to snuggle and play with and where entertainment is never far if she should crave it.
It helps that she is also quite fond of her new master.
Hellhounds are known to live long, long lives if they´re not killed prematurely, so she´d already served under a few. Sometimes her masters got killed in the Up-Above, sometimes they gifted her to other demons in exchange for favors, sometimes she´d kill an especially cruel one herself.
She had come pretty close with the one before her most recent master, but Azazel had been too strong, too high up in hell´s hierarchy for her to be able to do something, so she had had to sit still and watch as he tortured and murdered her pack, her puppies, her brothers and sisters.
Simply because he could and because he enjoyed the fear in the eyes of hell´s most intimidating creatures.
Her new master is different, though.
Oh, he has tried to make them believe that he is the same kind of cruel and ruthless but truth is, he truly seems to care about them in his own very strange way. This has become even more obvious after that episode a while back when he disappeared for a short while, only to come back feeling more human, more up-above and maybe also a bit more sentimental than before.
Master is never crueler than he needs to be, doesn’t inflict more pain than strictly necessary for punishment and for the first time in a while she feels as if her pack is safe again – well, for hell´s standards anyway.
Life is good, she has her home and her pack and only has to venture Up-Above every now and then to fulfill Master´s wishes. She´d never really liked it there: too cold, too many humans, weird smells and even weirder rules. And while she enjoys snacking on the occasional human soul or demon essence, the screaming is not worth the effort.
Seriously, why do humans always have to scream so much?! She is a talented hunter, falling prey to her skills is a privilege, not something to complain about.
Her only comfort is, that at least in hell the screams are on a non-physical level, so she can turn them out if she want to. Up there, though? Worse than Lucifer´s deepest sulphur pit.
Alas, a job is a job, and she´ll always have a belly rub or an ear scratch to look forward to after it is done.
Knowing this, her complete lack of enthusiasm for her new assignment is understandable. Seems as if her Master has made some friends in the Up-Above- not that he´d ever call them that but she has long since learned to see the concern behind his act of anger and resentfulness.
“One should think that two bloody hunters and an angel are perfectly capable of not screwing things up but I have never in my life met ANYONE less able to look after themselves! I should just leave them to it, they´ve managed to dig their own graves, they should find a way to dig themselves out again! But NO, they just had to bury us all with them, so here I am once more, trying to sort out the mess those bloody Winchesters have left behind. I´m the King of freaking hell, my time is far too valuable for this ridiculousness!"
Master´s eyes suddenly turn on her and the smile on his face makes her stomach tighten in anticipation. "You, mutt, you go up there and try and keep those morons from killing themselves. Do not let them die before I say so!”
So here she is in the Up-Above, in front of the strange dwelling her new human charges live in.
Her instructions are clear: keep an eye on them, stay hidden. No killing them, no eating them, no dragging them to hell when she is fed up with staying up here.
This is going to be unbelievably boring.
Master has given her a special collar meant to keep her invisible even from the eyes of angels.
Angels. She shudders. She abhors those feathery bastards, there is just too much light around them, too much righteousness, and you can’t even eat them.
Hopefully she will not have to deal with one of those feathery bastards all that often.
Heaving a silent sigh, she braces herself: while the warding on the dwelling is strong, it has clearly been made by someone inexperienced with the ways of hellhounds.
It will not be pleasant for her to cross the threshold but being innocent of any malicious intents toward its inhabitants, she will be able to enter.
She just hopes that there is at least something fun to do down there. Some rodents or souls she could play with, some sulfur pits to sleep in.
Truth is, she isn’t all that picky at this point.
Luckily her new charges are not home yet, which gives her some time to stroll and sniff around, to get an idea of what the dwelling looks like, to find the fun places and the ones she should avoid.
It smells weird, human, but there´s also the distinct smells of gunpowder, old paper, salt and silver penetrating her delicate nose.
She growls at a large tank of holy water and avoids some shelves with suspicious artifacts in the cellar.
It´s a huge dwelling for just one pack, even more so considering that there´s no more than 3 members in it. Humans are very strange, indeed.
Having finished her sweep of the place, she finally curls up in her new self-proclaimed sleeping corner in the kitchen.
There´s lots of interesting smells here, some of them are delicious and make her remember a particularly tasty soul fragment she´d enjoyed a few centuries back.
With a sigh, she curls in on herself and tiredly closes her eyes.
Best to soak up the quiet while it still lasts - she´s not sure if her charges will allow her much sleep.
According to Master they are even more troublesome than a whole litter of newborn puppies, so she should probably take her rest while she still can.
She wakes up to the sound of bickering voices echoing loudly in the hallway to her left.
Moments later two humans enter her new domain: both are tall, much taller than Master but also so much younger.
She wrinkles her nose, no wonder Master had wanted her to keep an eye on these two, they are barley more than puppies! Both of them only counting a few decades, not even a century!
How anyone thought it was a good idea to leave them all alone clearly had no clue about raising pups. They still needed guidance, someone to watch over them and teach them how to behave.
This assessment is only confirmed in the following days.
Her two charges love to bicker around, throwing words back and forth in rapid succession, shoving at each other, roughhousing and generally behaving like children.
But, to her great astonishment, she also finds herself intrigued by them.
They might be weird, yes, and she doesn’t understand what and why they are doing things half of the time, but their interactions have a certain allure to them that she can´t resist.
They are also not quite as human as she first thought them to be. Both have traces and marks of the supernatural on them: hellfire and sulfur, the ozonic stench of heaven and angels, traces of darkness and light on both of their souls.
It is in equal parts fascinating as well as frustrating because she would´ve loved to get a taste of their souls, their uniqueness drawing her in, but orders are orders and she won´t risk the wrath of her Master even for this.
Her human´s behavior is strange and unfamiliar, so very unlike demons who spend half of their time plotting complicated power schemes and the other half either torturing or being tortured, depending on their general luck and their social standing in hell (or lack thereof).
Her charges do none of that.
Instead they spend their days doing various chores and activities, all of which are completely new to her.
One of those activities is something they call cooking. It´s a task that mostly falls to the smaller of the two. She learns the reason for that on her sixth day in the dwelling when she wakes up to a horrible stench in the air, dark clouds of smoke making her eyes water and loud voices piercing her ears, the taller one being subjected to a very vocal reprimand from his pack mate.
At first she´s not so sure what to think of their antics in the kitchen but it´s fun to watch and as long as the tall one doesn’t touch anything, it always results in mouthwatering smells.
She watches them for three days before she can´t hold back any longer and snatches some of the things they call food from the counter in an opportune moment.
To her great surprise, it tastes delicious.
So delicious in fact, that she decides that this food stuff is a rather satisfying substitute for souls, and then proceeds to snatch up unsuspicious amounts of it whenever she can get without allerting them to her presence.
Her theft does not always remain undiscovered but luckily the tall one seems to have a habit of doing the same, so all the blame falls on him. Every single time.
She soon decides that Small and Tall are not adequate nicknames for them, but since she´s also not really fond of the names they use for each other, she starts to refer to them as Grumpy and Shaggy in her mind.
Grumpy seems to have a weird love for the loud black metal box living in one of the rooms closest to the surface and spends an extraordinary amount of time washing it, working on it or simply talking to it.
It never talks back, though, unlike the smaller portable box things her humands like to carry around, so she´s not so sure wheter this is some weird pup bonding thing Grumpy will grow out of in time. or if it´s rather some strange human ritual she couldn’t possibly understand.
She´s not very fond of the metal box.
For one, it´s loud, but it also smells strongly of salt and silver and goofer dust, not to mention other very uncomfortable things, so she keeps her distance.
Strangely enough and for all her hate of loud noises, she unexpectedly finds her tail wagging in beat to the music Grumpy is playing from his speakers. It reminds her of battle, excitement streaming through her and making her feel alive and happy.
She´s not very keen on having any part in Shaggy´s musical ventures, however. His favorite songs are full of high voices and weird beats and sounds - she doesn’t like it.
It also doesn’t help that while Grumpy has a very nice singing voice, Shaggy sounds more like a dying cat when he yowls along to his music.
Another favorite pastime of her humans is to sit in front of shiny flat surfaces and to watch the pictures that flutter across the screens in rapid succession.
There´s different ones of those: tiny, portable boxes that Shaggy loves to carry around, sitting them down any and everywhere and staring intently at them for hours on end.
Then there´s the Huge One, which is situated in front of the Cozy-Soft-Nesting-Place.
That one is way more interesting, because sometimes she´s able to get close enough to watch the pictures, too.
Unfortunately and to her great chagrin, she cannot take her rightful place in the nest, no matter how much she wants to. The risk of discovery is too high since her charm has no way to nullify her body mass. Touch will reveal her to her charges, so she grudgingly has to stay on the floor.
Grumpy and Shaggy also like to fight.
It´s not only bickering either, oh no!
The first time she comes upon them mock-fighting, she is on the verge of interfering and breaking them apart, fearing that they are intent on harming one another. The only thing preventing her premature discovery is them suddenly breaking into fits of laughter in the middle of their fight.
It takes her some time to trust them completely: their fights are fierce, they hold nothing back, go all-in and for anyone not used to their antics, it sure seems as if they are fighting for their lives.
She soon learns that they know one another too well and are too equally matched for one of them to gain the upper hand permanently.
Wining does not seem to be the purpose of their fights. It´s more about the exercise, she thinks, and also a means to reestablish their hierarchy.
Human pack dynamics are strange.
Of course, part of that is to blame on the fact that there´s only two of them so far. A rather poor example of a pack, in her opinion, though her humans seem more than fine with that.
But it is also because the lines between them are blurrier then she´s happy with. Decisions are made by either or both of them, no real deference to any kind of leadership noticeable, though this is probably just another human thing.
Nevertheless she soon decides that Grumpy is clearly the Alpha in this pack. For one he is the person responsible for food, he´s the one feeding the pack and making sure that no harm comes to his packmate. He´s also more forceful, taking charge more often than Shaggy does.
Shaggy loves to argue, sure, but in the end, he often yields to Grumpy´s opinion, offering more of a token protest but easily conceding the point.
He´s sneakier than his Alpha, though, artfully manipulating his packmate without him nothing it, carefully suggesting and coaxing until Grumpy seems to think that it has been his own idea all along.
Another clue to help her figure out their strange dynamics, is that Grumpy quite often refers to his packmate as “bitch”.
She´s accustomed to this term, Master likes to use it for her and her fellow hounds as well.
She´s also well aware that humans tend to use it as a form of degradation, because stupid as they sometimes are, they don’t seem to understand that for her kind, bitch is more of an honorable title.
Only those who have already had the honor of birthing at least one litter of pups are allowed to carry it, and they carry it with pride - after all, it means that they have contributed to keep the future of their pack alive.
She´s pretty sure that her charges are way too young to think about pups, but that doesn’t stop the term from being used.
Another human thing, probably, but at least Grumpy seems to understand the honorific significance of the word because every time he says it his voice is laced with affection and care.
Following this observation it comes as no real surprise when she walks in on them mating for the first time.
She´s quite smug when she notices that her assumptions have apparently been correct: Grumpy is definitely the Alpha, looming over Shaggy´s taller form, strong hands holding him down, growling his dominance and fucking into him in forceful, sure movements.
Shaggy clearly seems to enjoy the treatment, his voice loud and obscene, the noises he makes similar to those of a bitch in heat.
That makes her frown.
Huh, maybe they are not too young for pups of their own after all…
She trots away grumbling to herself, absolutely not looking forward to having even more reckless humans to take care of. The two she already has are more than enough for anyone´s patience.
Naturally, it comes as a shock when she sees them naked for the first time and notices that both of them are male.
Ugh, no wonder their pack is so small!
She´s not sure how in Satan´s pits it is possible for those stupid humans not to know the basics of biology but apparently they have no idea. At. All.
How they could EVER think that the mating of two males could result in pups is beyond her but well – at least this means she won´t lose all her sleep looking after their offspring. One has to pick one´s battles and be happy about small mercies.
Despite their mutual maleness and the resulting distinct lack of heats, their ruts seem to be a perfectly common occurrence, though.
In fact and to her astonishment, human ruts don’t seem to have any temporal restrictions: it´s more of a constant state they are in.
Her humans like to mate quite often and very enthusiastically, the sounds of it disturbing the quiet of the dwelling usually several times a day.
They also have no idea at all about butt-sniffing- etiquette.
First of all this is usually a mutual thing meant to greet other hounds and a way to communicate with each other.
It´s the polite thing to do when one is introduced to someone new, or when one is meeting old friends. But there´s certainly no need to do that quite as often with packmates you see every day.
Certainly also no reason that it´s pretty much just Grumpy doing the sniffing and by Lucifer´s cage, she really itches to sit those two idiots down and explain the intricacies of this ritual, because her humans are less than clueless.
For one, Grumpy uses tongue. Lots of it.
And while this should be an affront to both of them (One never uses tongue! Or even touches the butt being sniffed, that´s just plain rude!), judging by the loud noises he´s making, Shaggy at least seems to appreciate it.
No manners, the both of them!
She can only hope that they never try any of this in polite company.
What really throws her for a loop, though, is the time she stumbles upon Shaggy fucking Grumpy.
For several moments she´s too shocked to be able to do more than stare at them.
She´s NEVER heard of anyone mating the Alpha, that´s just something that isn’t done. Even more disturbing is the fact that Grumpy doesn’t seem to fight it, seems to enjoy it, even.
She has to sit down, totally confused.
It´s an affront to her knowledge of pack dynamics but well, so is the mating between two males. Probably human nature is at it again, changing all her concepts and comfortable truths.
She´ll never fully understand them, they just don’t seem to care about simple biological concepts.
Of course, she gets used to it eventually - after all, who is she to judge human costumes?
It even serves to explain some of their other weird behavior, because sometimes they take their mating down to the lowest level of the dwelling, down to the place they call the dungeon and once there, they never emerge before several hours have passed.
Down there, Grumpy likes to tie Shaggy up, sometimes even blindfolding him, gagging him (she´s pretty sure that part is connected to Shaggy´s singing), slapping him and doing other things she doesn’t understand, but that they seem to enjoy.
Maybe this is Grumpy´s form of punishment for Shaggy challenging his alpha status?
It all changes somewhat when the angel shows up.
She´s pretty sure that he takes no part in the mating even though he probably knows about it, but Shaggy and Grumpy seem to be less enthusiastic to practice their strange rituals outside of certain rooms when the angel is around.
Probably some sort of human politeness.
She´s not very happy about the angel at first: he smells too much of ozone, his brightness dimed but stinging nonetheless.
She would have considered him a threat to her charges if Master had not mentioned him as a part of their group, so naturally she stays watchful at first, observing his every move, and it´s only Grumpy´s and Shaggy´s easy acceptance of him that makes her accept Angel as part of the pack as well.
It´s a slow process and she still doesn’t trust him fully but he seems to care for the other two, which makes him an ally at the very least.
She soon decides that he´s probably meant to be an additional fighter for the pack, meant to support the Alpha and his mate.
He´s another male. And yes, she checked.
She seriously needs to teach her humans about how pups are conceived at some point in the very near future. At this rate, they would never get a bigger pack.
Angel simply sucks at preparing food (though not as much as Shaggy), he´s no good with the picture boxes and seems even more naïve than the other two.
Him being an angel also means that his senses are more sensitive, so she has to be more careful with him around, charm or not.
She resents him for this at first, has gotten used to being close to her charges even if they don’t know she´s there, and before Angel´s arrival she could snuggle as close as possible without risking an accidental touch and pretend.
Pretend that they care about her too, and that there´s the possibility of a pet or a scratch.
Touching and snuggling and being close - this is the only thing she still misses from her old life, this she couldn’t have with her new charges.
Nevertheless, she´s happy here with them, she enjoys their company and their bickering and maybe… maybe even Shaggy´s singing.
Unfortunately her days are not only filled with at-home-adventures.
Whether she likes it or not, her charges are hunters after all, and as such they love to go out and put themselves in mortal danger.
She follows them. Always. Grumbling the whole time, yes, but determined to keep them from getting themselves killed or worse.
No one this young should be doing so much killing but every time she sees them in motion, sees their skill and fearlessness and confidence, a strange mixture of pride and dread fills her nonetheless.
She always keeps a watchful eye on them, only interfering when she´s sure they won´t notice, ready to go all in as soon as one of them is in any real danger.
Her orders may be to stay hidden but certainly not at the expense of her human´s lives.
Sometimes, one of them gets hurt.
It´s never something life threatening, she makes sure of that, but it´s pain nonetheless and she hates to witness that.
What makes up for it somewhat is the way they care for each other.
It doesn’t matter whom of the three is hurt, they all show that same bone deep concern and care, masked by grumpiness and exasperation, but clearly there in each and every move.
They patch each other up, cleaning and dressing wounds, stitching them when necessary. It´s all done with surprisingly gentle hands, lingering touches and looks, the wounded one protesting all the fussing vehemently but secretly enjoying every minute of it.
Later they´ll curl up in bed together – mostly only Grumpy and Shaggy, though they don’t hesitate to drag Angel with them after really bad hunts, forming a human cocoon of safety around whoever suffered the most serious wounds.
On nights like this she likes to curl up at the foot of the bed, needing to be close, guarding their sleep against any and all beings stupid enough to try and mess with them.
Life goes on and she enjoys it immensely.
At the beginning, she´d never have thought that she could ever enjoy staying in the Up-Above for so long, but now she just hopes she´ll never have to leave.
Somehow her new pack has grown on her, has wormed it´s way into her heart (well, into that place were a normal dog would have a heart) and her protective instincts are steadily growing stronger.
It´s not only obedience to her Master now that keeps her close to them, it´s something deeper. In fact she´s not sure what would happen if Master ever wanted her to harm them.
She´s not sure she´d be able to follow that order.
Truth is, she feels as strongly for her three charges as she does for her own pups, even if the humans leave her in a permanent state somewhere between motherly pride and horrified embarrassment.
The day when everything changes creeps up on her unexpectedly.
It was supposed to be a normal hunt, some routine ghost thing, nothing really dangerous about it. But suddenly there´s not only that one ghost, the place is swarming with demons and they´re closing in on her three hunters fast.
She growls lowly, throwing herself into the fight without hesitation, efficiently killing three demons before they even understand that there´s another foe waiting for them.
These demons are not under her Master´s orders, they´re traitors to both him and her pack and she will never show scum like this any mercy.
Her (non-existent) heart nearly stops when she notices two demons sneaking up behind Shaggy´s back but Grumpy is there in an instant, defending his mate with vicious determination, leaving his right side wide open in his distraction.
She moves before the thought really registers, secrecy be damned!
Her fangs catch the demon´s arm before it can cause any harm, teeth tearing into its flesh, her claws killing it in seconds.
She takes great pleasure in devouring the escaping demon essence - revenge always makes them taste that much sweeter.
When she turns around again after having disposed of every other possible threat in the near vicinity, the three hunters are staring at her.
She knows that her cover has been lifted, hell, she herself has made sure to transform into a more corporeal form, one which will even allow the two humans to see her true nature.
There´s confusion in their eyes, fear too, especially in Grumpy´s though he does his best to hide it.
She knows he has been to hell, that he has been chased and killed and dragged down by her kind.
She knows it is not easy for him to trust her, didn’t expect him to, but still…. it hurts.
There´s not much she can do now than try to make them understand.
So she whines in a high pitched tone, lowers herself to the ground and creeps forward in the most obviously submissive display she can manage.
The confusion in their eyes increases but she can also see the beginning of understanding and the blatant disbelieve in there.
Deciding to throw everything in, she turns to her back, offering her belly and grumbling playfully at them, and finally, finally Shaggy moves forward.
He´s slow and cautious about it, determination shining brigthly in his face.
Grumpy´s voice doesn’t hold any tremor but his eyes are now filled with a fear he didn’t show when it was him facing the danger. He´s not happy about his mate´s approach and it shows in his whole body language.
Surprisingly it´s Angel who interferes on her behalf, disbelieving though he is.
“Dean, she is no threat to us. I can sense no malicious intent in her, she… she seems to care about you. I know it doesn’t make sense but she just saved you, saved all of us. I don’t think she means any harm.”
It takes some more convincing from Angel and Shaggy as well plenty of submissive whining from her until Grumpy grudgingly allows Shaggy closer.
The tall human closes the distance without hesitation, kneeling down next to her and then… belly rub!!
All hail Satan´s sulfur pits, she loves belly rubs!
And Shaggy is good at that, scratching and petting in all the right places.
Soon the two of them are messing around on the ground, playful growls and delighted laughter echoing across the battle field.
Later she´s allowed to ride in the black metal box, sitting next to Angel on some old blanket (to protect Baby´s upholstery). To her astonishment she enjoys the ride immensely, especially after Grumpy tells Angel to lower the glass barrier next to her, enabling her to stick her head out of the box and feel the wind in her face.
It doesn’t take her pack long to figure out that she has been living in the dwelling for a while now.
She knew she probably should have been more careful because now that they know about her, it´s easy to connect the clues of missing food and misplaced objects as well as the faint smell of sulfur in the room with the goofer dust (Come on, even she has to pee at some point and she really, really doesn’t like that stuff).
After that revelation, her charges are quick to question the dwelling´s wards. In order to save them all from days of research and headaches, she sits herself in front of Angel (hopefully the most suitable one for this task) and sends him images trying to explain why she´s here.
Hellhounds might not be able to talk, but they do have some telepathic talents and she is quite good at that. Angel seems shocked at first but then a slight smile crosses his lips. He scratches her ear in thanks and then proceeds to explain everything to the other two.
“So let me get this straight: Crowley, Crowley, our dear King of fucking Hell has appointed her as our babysitter? What the actual fuck, I don’t even know if we should be flattered or insulted! The frigging bastard cares about us! Just thinking of the potential blackmail material this gives us makes me want to summon the son of a bitch right the fuck now!”
It is Grumpy who decides that she needs a name.
A name! All for herself!
She can´t seem to keep her tail from wagging her tail like crazy. She´s never had a name before, usually they just call her bitch or scum or mutt.
Her enthusiasm isn’t even cut short when Shaggy and Grumpy apparently try to come up with the most ridiculous name they can think of. Grumpy voting for things like Sabbath, Zepp or even Daisy (“Come on guys, it would be hilarious to see the look on people’s faces when we call her and instead of some tiny Chihuahua, they have all of this running towards them!”).
They finally (and with her approval) settle on Hel.
She thinks it a very fitting name after Shaggy explains it´s origin to her.
How could she not like being named after the Norse goddess ruling parts of the underworld. Very fitting, indeed.
That night is the best one in all her life.
She´s allowed to curl up next to them at the dinner table, Grumpy even preparing an extra dish with delicious food just for her (though only after some arguing with his other packmates… “What the fuck do hellhounds even eat, Sammy? Souls? Sulfur? Meat from especially vicious cows?).
She gets to have a bath (surprisingly nice) and then curls up between them to watch the Huge Moving Picture Box (Sadly, she´s still all wet and therefore not yet allowed on the Nest).
When her pack goes to sleep, she now can now join them openly, they even gift her with some fluffy pillows and blankets to curl up in at the foot of their bed.
One last ear scratch and then she sinks into deep dreams. She just hopes that Master will still be happy with her when he finds out because yeah, life in hell is good.
But life Up-Above is even better.