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John and the dog walk along the streets. The dog is happy to be outside, wagging her thick tail and snuffling along whenever something catches her attention. She comes back when he asks, doesn't drag on the leash, almost as if she knows she could easily pull him down as much damage has been done to his body in the past twenty-four hours.

When he speaks she looks up at him, wrinkling her broad brow, her pale eyes curious. John wonders at the short-cropped ears she bears, wondering if she, too, had been involved in fights but while her ears speak of the possibility, he sees no scars marring the plush blue of her coat.

John knows Helen would probably approve of him taking another dog to fill Daisy's spot. Helen would've hated knowing what happened to the dog she'd chosen for him, the sweet Beagle puppy she'd named Daisy. She might've turned on Iosef herself despite her pacifistic leanings.

John only realizes he's stopped walking, that he's leaning heavily on the boardwalk railing, that tears roll down his face when the dog paws his leg. She's making a rumbling noise deep in her chest. When John leans down, she stretches up to lick his face. Her tongue cleans his cheek of tears and snot.

John rubs her head. "Good dog," he chokes out. "Good dog."