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i carry your heart with me

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Ryan had gotten braver. Four seasons of Supernatural under their belts and it was bound to happen sooner or later, Shane supposed. Eventually even someone as stalwart in their belief of ghosts as Ryan would learn to stop jumping at every creaking floorboard and gust of wind. Shane had been hoping for it, truthfully, not because he’d grown tired of teasing Ryan for his fear (that never got old), but because he’d been hoping that Ryan showing a little bravery would finally get the ghouls to back the fuck off.

Ryan was like catnip to them, his fear and his bright, bright soul drawing them in like a beacon. They gravitated toward him like moths to a flame, and though it used to amuse Shane more than anything else, now it was just starting to piss him off.

Ghosts were one thing. They were harmless, mostly curious, and keen on keeping to themselves for the most part. They’d follow Ryan around but back off if Shane shot them a black-eyed glare. It was the poltergeists and the wraiths and the other goddamn demons that Shane had to really look out for. The fuckers tended to take one look at Ryan and gravitate toward him with hungry growls and grasping hands, and they were stubborn little shits about it, too. One had even followed Ryan home, hiding in the recesses of his dreams so that Shane couldn’t detect it until Ryan had finally caved and admitted his nightmares were more aggressive than usual. Shane had had fun sending that particular pest straight back to Hell.

Filming the seasons of True Crime gave him a break, a span of a few months where he didn’t have to worry about Ryan being set upon by some soul-hungry ghoul, but they were gearing up for the fifth season of Supernatural soon and Shane needed to come up with a solution to his little problem fast. He couldn’t shadow Ryan all the time, and he didn’t want a repeat of that nasty dream demon.

It was time to get creative.

Hence why he’s sitting cross-legged on his living room floor on a Sunday night, drawing a complicated symbol in ash and blood on the tarp spread out beneath him. In the center he dumps a hodge podge of ingredients into a large mixing bowl – animal bones, black dog hair, grave dirt, a few sprigs of honeysuckle, and to top it all off, a rather generous helping of his own blood. He keeps Ryan in his thoughts as he mixes them together: his wide smile, his dark eyes, the familiar slopes and curves of his face, quickly followed by the usual rush of tenderness and protectiveness that usually accompanies such thoughts. Shane still isn’t used to them; it’s been a while since he’s felt anything but indifference or amusement toward any human. It’s been longer still since he’d last attempted a conjuring, but it’s like riding a bike – you never forget. He hopes.

 

“You… got me a dog?” Ryan looks more confused than displeased, which Shane counts as a win in his favor.

“Yep,” he answers, popping the ‘p’ and grinning as Ryan’s face scrunches up in annoyance. “You’ve been saying that you wanted one and she kind of… fell into my lap, so. Felt like a sign.”

Ryan laughs. “A sign, huh?” He’s playing at nonchalance but Shane can tell he’s curious now. “What does she look like?”

Shane bites his lip, recalling the red-eyes he’d had to magic away and the mouthful of teeth that would only grow sharper as she grew older. “She’s a little angel, Ry,” he fibs, passing over his phone and showing Ryan the picture he’d snapped of the little hell beast. In it she’s curled up on Shane’s couch, muzzle tucked into her front paws and long tail curled around her body. Her fur is black as pitch and she’s deceptively small, for now.

Ryan takes one look at her and melts. “What’s her name?” he asks, barely looking away from the screen.

Shane grins. Hook. “She doesn’t have one yet, bud. That’s entirely up to you. If you want her, that is.”

Ryan’s eyes flit from the screen to Shane and back again. Line. “I mean, it wouldn’t hurt to meet her. Right?”

Sinker. Shane tries not to feel too smug and fails spectacularly. “Right.”

 

Five minutes into their first meeting and Ryan’s already in love with her. Shane tries to suppress an irrational flare of jealousy as she climbs into Ryan’s lap and licks at his cheek, and then he goes into the kitchen to grab a beer because what the fuck, seriously.

“I think she likes me,” Ryan laughs, ducking his head as she continues her assault, her tail wagging fiercely as she licks at his face.

Shane gives her a look. Have some dignity, would you? he thinks, and raises an eyebrow as she glances at him over Ryan’s shoulder, her head tilting in a way that is decidedly not cute. At all.

“It’s that old Bergara charm,” he says sagely, passing Ryan a beer before plopping down on his couch. “Not even mutts are immune.”

Ryan sticks his tongue out at him. “You’re just jealous she likes me more than she likes you,” he teases. An enthusiastic bark from his lap makes him grin. “See, she agrees with me.”

“She likes me just fine,” Shane says, annoyed at himself for feeling slighted. It makes sense that she’d gravitate toward Ryan over him. She was made for him, after all, infused with Shane’s essence and Shane’s blood and Shane’s will to keep Ryan safe, protected.

His cheeks grew hot as he watches her nuzzle Ryan’s chin, her tail thumping happily along the ground. Maybe he’d made her a little too much like him.

 

That night before he goes to sleep, Shane checks Instagram on a whim and sees a new post from Ryan – it’s a photo of himself and his new little protector, his chin resting on top of her head and her tongue lolling out of her mouth. The caption reads: Meet Addy, the newest member of the Bergara clan!

It only takes a moment for Shane to make the connection. Addy as in Addington as in – Oh, Ryan, you big ole nerd. There’s no disguising the burst of fondness in his chest or the goofy smile on his face as he stares at the photo, but that’s okay. Judging by the comments pouring in, he’s not the only one feeling smitten for the old Bergmeister tonight, and Shane goes to sleep feeling lighter than he has in ages, knowing that Ryan is well and truly protected now that Addy is there to look after him.

 

Addy becomes a fixture at the Buzzfeed office. She follows Ryan around like a duckling after its mama and their coworkers coo at her fluffy black coat and her sweet baby blues. She accepts scratches and rubs from everyone but it’s always to Ryan that she sticks close; wherever he goes, she goes.

Shane notices a change in Ryan’s mood after a couple of weeks with her around. He looks less sharp around the edges, less stressed, which is a miracle considering they’re about to begin filming for the next season of Supernatural and Ryan’s been busy as a bee drafting scripts and doing research. Shane still catches him muttering to himself every once in a while, but nowadays it’s accompanied with a pat to Addy’s head and a soft smile that brightens up Ryan’s entire face. Her purpose had always been to protect Ryan when they were out in the field, but knowing that she was easing his stress, even if only a little, makes Shane feel absurdly proud, knowing that he had a hand in it, too.

He waits until Ryan disappears to the restroom one day before reaching down to rub along Addy’s scruff, fingers sinking into her black fur. “You’re doin’ good, girl,” he murmurs, and chuckles as her tail starts wagging. “Grow big and strong now, okay? We’re gonna need you at the top of your game soon.” There’s just a few short months left until they’re set to travel to their first location, and though he’s confident in his own abilities it’ll be nice to have some backup along in case things go pear-shaped.

Addy nudges his palm, a keen intelligence in her eyes. She looks strangely serious despite the constant thump of her tail hitting the legs of his rolling chair, and Shane feels a spark of something fierce and protective through the thread of connection that binds her to him.

“’Atta girl,” he praises, low and pleased. With the two of them there to keep the worst of them at bay, those goddamn ghouls aren’t gonna know what hit ‘em.

 

Addy must take his advice seriously, because as the weeks pass, she grows. It’s gradual at first, but soon enough strangers on the street are double-taking as Ryan walks by, Addy ambling along beside him on her leash.

“What kind of breed did you say she was?” Jen asks one day, watching Ryan run around the parking lot with Addy on his heels, snapping playfully at the toy in his hand. She’s the size of a small pony and still growing, but you wouldn’t know it by the way Ryan treats her, smushing her cheeks and cooing as she succeeds in grabbing the toy from him.

“She’s a mix,” Shane says, as straight-faced as he can manage.

Jen huffs a laugh. “A mix of what, though, I wonder? Judging by her size, I’m guessing a wolf crossed with… fuck, I don’t know. A moose.”

Shane snorts, imagining a dog the size of a car wrestling with Ryan in the middle of the Buzzfeed parking lot. “She’s… something, that’s for sure,” he says, and as if summoned by his voice, Addy turns toward him, bounding over with a bark muffled by the toy still stuffed in her mouth.

“Looks like she wants you to join,” Jen laughs, slapping his back and nudging him toward where Ryan stands waiting, sweat on his brow and a wide, welcoming grin on his face.

Shane swallows roughly at the sight, barely even caring about the slobber as Addy drops her toy into his palm. His feet carry him straight to Ryan, Addy on his heels, and he can no longer tell if the excitement and boundless affection bubbling through their connection is hers or his own.

 

Addy’s surprisingly chill when it comes to other dogs and other animals in general. Ryan takes her to visit his parents and the resulting photos of her rolling around with Micki and Dory are fucking adorable. The internet seems to think so too; Shane’s never seen so many hearteyes emojis in one comment thread before. He’s glad that she’s fitting in and that the rest of Ryan’s family seems to adore her; he’s hoping that her protective instincts towards Ryan will extend to them, too.

Ryan must have told them where she came from, that Shane had given her to him, because he gets a few texts from Jake congratulating them on their “fur baby.” He’s just teasing but Shane still feels his cheeks heat as he responds with a nonchalant Thanks, we’re very proud. She’s her own creature but it was by his will and his essence that she was formed, and he’d been adamant about infusing her with every tender and loving thought he’d ever felt towards Ryan, to be sure that she would stick to his side and keep him safe. He’s the only one that knows any of this, of course, but Jake’s text makes him wonder if anyone else can see it, too – see how far gone he is for Ryan.

It’s ridiculous, especially considering what he is and where he comes from, but there’s no denying the evidence: his need to keep Ryan safe, the surge of warmth and affection he feels in Ryan’s presence, the urge to kiss him whenever Ryan flashes that smile at him. Jake sends him a photo of Ryan curled up asleep with Addy, Micki, and Dori and Shane’s heart actually aches at the sweetness of it, yet more damning proof that he’s in way over his head.

He can’t even be angry about it. It’s been a long time since he felt so content.

 

They get permission to take Addy along to their first location. It’s a trial run of sorts, to see how she’ll behave in the presence of the crew and on camera. It’s an allegedly haunted bed and breakfast a couple hours drive north from L.A., and Addy spends the entire trip with her head out the window, tongue lolling and fur ruffling in the breeze. She fills the backseat; on her hind legs she’s nearly Ryan’s height and Shane doubts she’s done growing yet. He’d be worried about it, but the more intimidating she is, the less likely ghouls are to mess with Ryan. Besides, Shane had told her to grow big.

“Are you excited to hunt some ghosts, girl?” Ryan coos, grinning as she barks. “That’s my girl! You’ll sniff ‘em out for me, won’t you?”

“Oh god, please stop,” Shane groans, even as he’s fighting a smile at what he’s come to think of as Ryan’s ‘Addy voice.’ “If she starts jumping at shadows and barking at air I’ll never forgive you.”

“Fuck off, Shane,” Ryan replies sunnily, shooting him a glance over his sunglasses before turning back to the road. He’s excited about the upcoming shoot, that much is obvious, but there’s also the familiar tinge of nervousness to his movements in the way his thumbs rock against the steering wheel.

Shane’s not worried. He never is, not with locations like these. Odds are they’ll run into a few ghosts, and that’s only if they run into anything at all.

Either way, it’s a good opportunity for Addy to stretch her legs and get a feel for supernatural entities other than Shane, and he’s looking forward to seeing her in action.

 

“Take a look at the new permanent member of our team!” Ryan crows, laughing as Addy jumps for his phone, snapping her jaws playfully as he pulls it out of reach. “That’s right, girl! Show all the Boogaras how you murked those ghosts!”

“Show all the Shaniacs how you barked at the air,” Shane chimes in from offscreen, smirking as Ryan flips him off. He’s not even that far off the mark. There had been a grand total of two ghosts at the bed and breakfast, the husband and wife team that had owned the building years ago, and all it had taken was a growl from Addy to keep them at bay for the entirety of the shoot. He’d been sure to reward her with extra head pats when Ryan wasn’t looking.

Ryan finishes recording the video and posts it to Instagram, reaching over to scratch at Addy’s head while it processes. Her eyes close beneath the caress, her soft pants filling the room, and Shane shakes his head at the both of them.

“You’re gonna spoil her,” he says, crossing his legs at the ankle and sinking gratefully into the couch. Their movie night had been interrupted by a call from T.J., letting them know the higher ups had approved them taking Addy along on more shoots after their successful first run at the B&B, and Ryan had been so excited by the news he’d immediately jumped up off the couch with a fistpump that made him look more like his former fratboy self than any amount of backwards caps ever could.

“She deserves to be spoiled,” Ryan says, plopping down on the couch beside Shane and patting the seat beside him. Addy jumps up and immediately lays her head in Ryan’s lap, curling up as small as possible and still managing to push Ryan over with her bulk, until he’s nearly plastered to Shane’s side. “She did so well on the shoot and the fans already love her, they’re gonna flip when they find out she’s coming with us.”

Shane hums, saying nothing. He’s a little distracted by the warmth of Ryan pressed up against him and some small part of him that he refuses to acknowledge is soothed by the fact that Ryan hasn’t jerked away. In fact, he seems perfectly content to settle against Shane’s shoulder while he lavishes attention on Addy, even as Shane hits play on the remote and the movie resumes on screen.

He feels the weight of eyes on him a few minutes in and glances over to see Addy staring at him, her borrowed blue eyes piercing through the darkness of the living room. Somehow she looks… expectant, like she’s waiting on him to make a move, but when all Shane does is continue to stare silently back she huffs and closes her eyes, like she’s disappointed.

Huh.

 

Shane’s always known that Ryan would find out about him eventually. He couldn’t keep his secret forever, and he didn’t want to, anyway, but there had never been a right time or a place for him to sit Ryan down and confess that, “Oh yeah, I’m a demon. Surprise?”

In the end it’s not his choice to make. They’re filming the seasonal demon episode in an abandoned house in Indiana when everything goes to shit. Shane had been on high alert as soon as they’d crossed the threshold, and even Addy, who usually didn’t react aggressively to spirits unless one got too close to Ryan, had hunched in on herself and growled while they stood in the foyer.

“Easy, girl,” Shane had soothed, scratching at her ear as he peered into the house. There was something here, something old and angry and hungry - Shane could feel it, like a stain on the house, shadows clinging to the corners and squirming like rats in the walls.

“Fuck me,” Ryan had murmured beside him, pupils already shrinking. “Call bullshit if you want, Shane, but the energy here is – not great.”

Shane hadn’t called bullshit. He’d just grinned – sharper than his usual fare – and raised his handheld to record their progress up the rotting stairs. Ryan’s footsteps had echoed behind him, followed by the pad of Addy’s paws on the wood, and Shane had been soothed by the reminder of her presence and by the knowledge that nothing could get to Ryan, not with the two of them around.

And nothing had tried, though they had heard their fair share of thumps and groans and the occasional scratching coming from within the walls as they explored the house. Shane had rationalized them all away, much to Ryan’s chagrin, but Ryan’s annoyance and frustration was preferable to his fear should the thing lurking in the walls grow the balls to attack them directly. They’d ended the night with Ryan a little rattled but no less worse for wear, and as they’d settled into their sleeping bags, Shane had been cautiously optimistic that the demon watching them from the darkness had been thoroughly cowed and would leave them alone.

But he’d underestimated the strength of the demon’s hunger and its desire for Ryan’s soul, and he was paying for that oversight now.

“You… You’re both – “ Ryan’s staring at them like he’s never seen them before, his eyes wide and lips trembling. Shane shares a look with Addy, his stomach in knots. She doesn’t seem to be faring much better – her ears have drooped around her face, her muzzle lowered to the ground. The glamour keeping her eyes a soft baby blue had long since broken in the wake of her anger, flaring a piercing, bloody red as she attacked the advancing demon. She’d ripped the thing to fucking shreds, its dying shrieks filling the house and its black blood coating the walls. All the while Ryan had been huddled in a corner of the living room, Shane planted between him and the carnage, trying to block him from the view as much as to protect him should the demon try its luck and go for him again.

There was nothing Shane could do to protect him now. The only thing he could do was tell the truth and hope Ryan didn’t hate him, hate them both.

So that’s what he does.

He drops to the floor, sitting cross-legged at Addy’s side in the hopes that it’ll soothe Ryan somehow if he’s not looming over him, and he talks. “I wanted to tell you, I swear, but I – I knew there was a chance you’d hate me, Ry. That you’d want me to leave, and I would have, I still will, if that’s what you want. Both of us, we’ll – “ He trails off, Addy whining pitifully next to him. He feels like whining himself, the fearful look on Ryan’s face cutting him to the bone. He’d never wanted to see that look directed at him.

“And, and Addy, she’s - ?” Addy hears her name and perks up, tail wagging, and Ryan covers his mouth to muffle a laugh or a sob, Shane can’t tell which.

“I made her,” Shane confesses, his voice soft. “Conjured her. To protect you. To keep you safe when I couldn’t.”

Ryan’s throat works soundlessly for a long moment, his eyes fixed on Shane’s, and for the first time Shane can’t hold them, shame curdling in his stomach as he peers down at the floor.

“How long have you been doing that? Protecting me?” He can’t place the tone in Ryan’s voice, can’t tell if he’s angry or afraid or something else, something worse.

“Since you asked me to help you with Unsolved.”

Silence falls between them once more, broken only by Addy’s soft whines. Shane prods gently at their connection and swallows at the tangle of sadness and fear he can feel from her. She’s just as terrified of losing Ryan as he is.

“So I was right.”

Shane lifts his head, confused. Ryan still looks a little shell-shocked, but there’s something else to his gaze that Shane can’t place, something contemplative. “Ryan?”

“Ghosts and demons and – and fucking hellhounds, apparently. They’re real. I was right.”

Shane nods, unsure. “I – yeah, Ryan. You were right.”

His confusion only grows as Ryan’s lips curl into a smile. It’s wobbly at the edges, sure, but it’s there.

“I knew it!” Ryan’s voice startles them both. Addy jumps to her feet and barks, paws shuffling at the ground, and Shane leans back on his hands, his brows shooting towards his hairline.

“You – knew?” he asks slowly. “About us?”

Ryan shakes his head, rising to his feet and pacing along the cracked and dirtied floor. “No, no, not you. Not really. I mean, there are all the fan theories but those were always just for fun. But then they started talking about Addy, how it looked like her eyes changed colors sometimes, and you always waved it away, all “Oh, it’s just a trick of the light, Ryan,” but they were right, they were right, you crafty motherfucker, I can’t fucking believe – “

“Uh.” Shane has no idea how to handle this. Ryan doesn’t sound mad, he sounds vindicated, maybe a little annoyed but mostly relieved, and Shane braces himself as Ryan turns to him and strides across the room with a determined look on his face. I can handle a punch, he thinks, closing his eyes. I deserve it. It’ll hurt because Ryan’s fucking jacked but I deserve it, it’s fine –

He’s so prepared for pain that the warmth of Ryan’s arms wrapping around his shoulders startles him so badly he jumps, eyes flying open in shock. He can hear Ryan’s heavy breaths in his ear, feel the pounding of his heart where Ryan’s chest is pressed up against his, but whether it’s from fear or something else Shane no longer has any fucking clue.

“Ryan… ?” he starts, only to suck in a breath as Ryan squeezes him to his chest.

“You’re such a fucking asshole, Shane.” It’s said with such utter fondness that Shane feels the prickle of tears at the backs of his eyes. It’s mortifying – when was the last time he fucking cried? God, he’s a pitiful excuse for a demon – but it’s hard to care when Ryan’s holding him this close.

Wetness hits his cheek and Shane huffs a shaky laugh as he ducks away from Addy’s tongue. She’s everywhere at once, it seems, nudging them both with her huge head before she finally settles with her body wrapped around Shane’s back, panting happily.

“Good girl,” Ryan murmurs, pushing his fingers through the fur between her ears and grinning as she arches into the touch. His eyes are dark and soft and unmistakably fond, and they don’t change, not even as they shift from Addy to Shane. “You too, big guy.”

“You callin’ me a good girl, Bergara?” Shane mumbles, trying for humor but mostly just sounding like he’s about to cry.

Ryan wheezes. “You know what I mean,” he says, hesitating for a second before ducking down and pressing a kiss to Shane’s lips. His cheeks are flushed when he pulls back, but he’s still smiling. “You do know what I mean, right, Shane?” he asks, and Shane feels his own lips stretch in a smile, wide enough to ache.

“I know what you mean, Ry,” he says, and pulls him back in with a soft tug.