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Member Of The Pack

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“Jarod, having a dog is a very big responsibility.” Stan started, eyes never leaving the crossword in the newspaper, even as he sipped his modest cup of coffee, “Perhaps you should start smaller.” He said this in his best ‘boring old man’ voice, finally peering over the top of his reading glasses, “Maybe a fish or something.”

“A fish? Stan, we…” For a moment, the youth looked to be at a loss for words, “Travel a lot. Fish don’t like to travel. Anyway, I think he’d be upset when we go… You know, fishing.” It was almost physically taxing to keep up this conversation in the diner they’d stopped at for breakfast. Leaning forward, he pouted dramatically, “I want a dog.”

“You said it, yourself, Jarod, we travel too much. Maybe when we settle down somewhere.” Four states and countless cities behind them, already, and Jarod wasn’t sure they would ever settle down anywhere.

“When? Where?” Now, he was getting antsy, and Stan knew he needed to placate the other to keep this from escalating to something memorable.

“Well, how about this, then? If you are a good boy, we can go look at the local shelter?” The overjoyed smile he earned in return let him know he’d just signed his day away, but, if pressed, he could always say he said they would ‘just look’.

The sad, puppy dog eyes Jarod gave him the second they were allowed back to see the dogs let him know he wouldn’t get away with that.

The second the couple were brought back, Jarod looked his age, a kid in a veritable candy store. A fond smile crossed Stan’s features as he watched the boy excitedly peer into every kennel, happier than he’d seen him in a while. Maybe this was worth it.

Hand slipping from his own, he let the younger wander, stopping to admire an older looking bloodhound. Proud and strong, this 'Elmer' would be a perfect addition to their fishing trip. Musing over the uses of a bloodhound to a couple of serial killers, he could tell the exact moment his blood turned to ice in his veins. Jarod let out the oddest squeal, and he went from zero to sixty in less than a second. The hunch to his shoulders smoothed out and he straightened to his full height, all appearances of being frail and old falling off like a shed skin. /Nobody/ made Jarod make those noises, not without meeting a quick end.

But when his eyes finally landed on what had made the usually quiet teen scream like that, he almost fell over.

In a small kennel in front of his younger lover sat a small, golden Pomeranian, shaking and giving him the full-force ‘pick me’ routine As the volunteer stepped over to Jarod and his fascinating find, so did Stan, settling beside him protectively.

“Stan, she’s so cute and tiny. And her name is Twinkles.” Those jade eyes settled on him and the elder knew that he could only deny the teen before him a total of zero times, right now. The dog even threw him pretty eyes and offered an odd, warbly sort of whine.

“I don’t think Twinkles would be a very good match. She’s very aggressive, came from a bad home. We’ve been unable to find her a foster because she bites anyone that gets too close.” The young woman, Tiffany, by her nametag, told them. Of course, the last bit came out when Jarod stuck his fingers in the cage to let the dog smell him. Hearing the ‘bad home’ bit set off both men, and Stan’s next words, seeing his charge unbitten, only came as a surprise to the woman helping them.

“We’ll take her. It’s only Jarod and I in the household, and she seems to like him.” Plus, I don’t think he could leave her, now. Usually, Jarod worked hard to be a good boy, but when he was absolutely sure of something, he wasn’t willing to budge. It was such an attractive trait, he never could tell him ‘no’ when he got like that.

“A-are you sure I couldn’t interest you in another dog? Elmer, the Bloodhound you were looking at--”

“We want Twinkles.” Jarod spoke matter-of-factly, and a slant of Stan’s eyes had Tiffany scurrying off to get the paperwork. “We should find whoever hurt her. Pay them back what they did.” Now, the teen’s voice was quiet, dark and truly set his lover’s blood to boiling.

“Perhaps we can find them.” The elder replied cooly, eyes never leaving the dog licking Jarod’s fingers.

When Tiffany returned, they worked through the adoption papers easily enough, the dog whining with Jarod’s absence. Upon their return, she danced about her cage, and as soon as it was opened, the volunteer nearly lost a finger. Jarod picked the dog up easily enough, of course, both men figuring she could tell they had had unhealthy home lives, as well. They were more apt to feel with her the way she had felt, but less likely to abuse her, too, and she could tell. Birds of a feather… Stan thought, steering his little family out of the shelter before they had an incident.

Driving through the town, Jarod did little more than chat their ears off, until one particular house seemed to set off the little dog in his lap.

“This must be the place.”

Despite Jarod’s fierce desire to do away with the people responsible, Stan drove on, cataloging the address for later and pacifying the two pups beside him with a trip to the local Petsmart. They couldn’t really get away with a daylight murder in this town, they didn’t know it well enough, and he wasn’t about to lose what he had.

Later that night, after abducting and killing the man and woman responsible, Twinkles licked the blood from her fur and Jarod’s face.

“She’s a natural.” Stan praised, gently petting her back, “A killer in a rhinestone collar.”

“She’s awesome.” Jarod grinned up at his lover, letting the dog lick at his face, “Thanks for letting me get a dog.” This time, he looked a little sheepish, almost shy, and Stan leaned down to wipe a drop of blood from his cheek.

“You’re both welcome.” He whispered, kissing the smaller. Pulling back at a small yelp, he blinked a few times before kissing her head. “Now, we need to get cleaned up and find a way to dispose of… This.”