Okay, you caught me. I've always wanted to write a story with this title.  And who better to sport it than Tris and John? So here it is.  Thanks to the CKPs for being the ultimate in kewt.  And special thanks to Clawkit for, among other things, her canine inspiration.  Gotta love the fluff.
                  --H.
MAN BITES DOG

By Hedeia



Take the dogs in my neighborhood…please.

Seriously though, Vaudevillian humor aside, just WHAT is the appeal of keeping a four legged, fur-shedding, privates-nosing beast in your apartment?  And let’s not even talk about how they smell when it rains.

Except we might as well, because that’s where my story starts.  In the rain. 

It was pouring, that thick misty spring rain where you get hot and cold at the same time and everything is just disgusting.  I was wet and scowling by the time I narrowly missed the uptown 1 train and slumped, sweltering, on a suspiciously sticky bench to wait for the next one.

And wait.

And wait.

By the time I met John for dinner at Le Chicken I was in a decidedly blech sort of mood.  Granted, my mood improved a little at the sight of my beloved…specifically at the sight of my beloved in those exceptionally well-cut pants from Banana (I picked them out).  Those are really great pants.  Award-winning pants.  Pants to write home about.  Pants…

Where was I?

Oh, right.  The rain.  So dinner was nice, the company couldn’t be beat, but eight blocks still lay between the restaurant and our cozy twelfth-floor abode. 

Eight blocks of rain.  And gritty shoes, and slippery sidewalk rims, and ankle-deep, dirty puddles.

And eight blocks of wet dog.

I could smell it as soon as we turned onto Columbus.  The unmistakable stench of rainy fur.  Apparently every dog on the Upper West was out in full form tonight, panting and sniffing and growling and yipping like something out of a science fiction nightmare.

Detach, Tris.

Detach.

“You okay?”  John nudged me gently with his free hand, manfully worn leather case tucked into the other.


I nodded distractedly, looking around.  Were they…multiplying?  Yes, I was fairly certain there were more of them now than there were before.  More of them now than there were people on the street!  It was a coup!

“Tris.”

I shook my head a little, clearing it.  We stopped at the corner to wait for the light to change.  “I’m fine,” I assured him.  “It’s just the weather.”

“It’s nasty,” John agreed.  “We’ll be home soon.”  He leaned closer to whisper in my ear. “…where you can get into a nice hot shower.  Maybe I’ll even join you….”

I opened my mouth to respond to his enticing offer when a loud SPLAT echoed across 93rd Street.  I spun around in horror to see a massive dog, approximately the size of my first rented apartment in Kips Bay, and a Tae-Bo’d blonde in a pink trench coat who seemed utterly uninterested in cleaning up the mess. 

I stared a moment too long; a gush of cold water launched itself off the awning above us and leapt down the back of my shirt, freezing me and splattering me with who knows what.

That was it.

“Curb your fucking dog,” I spat at Pink Trench, who took a step back, amusingly enough directly into the pile her monstrous dog had just finished creating.  “Or I’ll report you to the Board of Health.  We have LEASH LAWS in this—”

“Excuse us,” John said smoothly, pulling me across and behind him with one hand on my elbow.  Only John could execute this maneuver so subtly that it forecast only one thing for me and for me only.

(Doom)

John kept one hand on me during a quiet word with Pink Trench, then hustled us both toward our building.  The woman’s enormous dog shrank a little with a block or two of distance.  I let him steer me into the lobby, past Robert, our favorite doorman, into the elevator, down the hall, and all the way into the foyer of our apartment before I shook his arm off.

“Don’t start,” I warned him.

He raised an eyebrow.  “I believe that’s my line.”

“Fine,” I said with drama befitting the situation, wrenching my coat off.  “Let’s hear it.  The lecture. On how I’m a menace to society.  And then you can spank me.”

“Oh, can I, darling?” he asked politely.  “What a very kind offer.”

“John, she deserved it.  I HATE dogs, I hate people who don’t clean up after them, it’s cruel to keep them in the city anyway, and they’re disgusting, and I am so SICK of stepping in things and stepping ON things—” and here I was thinking of the man down the block with four (four!) yappy little pugs “—I have rights as a citizen, John, and the dogs are taking over,” I stopped to take a breath.

“Are you finished?”

“Not really,” I said.  “Also, pink trench coats are so 2001.  Give me a break.” 

“Well, I’ll give you something,” he offered, “but I can’t promise a break.  What’s gotten into you, Tris?”

“Nothing.”  I scowled.  “I just hate dogs.  And I hate this neighborhood. I hate it!  It’s nothing but foul dogs and their worse owners.”

John ruffled my hair.  “I know.”

“Well?”  I shrugged out of my coat, tangled up a bit in annoyance and the sash.  Temptation urged me to sling it onto the floor; John’s watchful eye suggested the coat rack might be somewhat more appropriate.  I started to hang it up, thinking I could use the extra points.

“Don’t bother to hang it up,” John interrupted my thoughts.

“John? Are you feeling all right?”  I worked a hand free to touch his forehead.  Next he’d be suggesting we leave the dishes overnight, you know, give the cockroaches something to munch on so they don’t have to swarm the garbage bags outside of Szechwan Sizzle.

“I’m fine.”  He caught my hand and kissed it.  “But keep your coat on so you can run to Gristede’s.”

“What? Why?”

“To buy rice dream,” he said simply.

“But…”  I trailed off.  “Don’t you want to…you know….”

“You’ve made your opinion perfectly clear, darling.”  John hung his coat neatly on the coat rack.  “You don’t like dogs, OR recycled spring fashions, and you consider inclement weather an affirmative defense to inappropriate outbursts.”

I considered it.  Dogs…coats…bursts…yeah, that sounded about right.

“But…”  I paused at the door, confusion replacing the scowl. 

“Go.”  He kissed me. 

I leaned against the wall in the elevator, puzzled and a bit annoyed.

It was still raining as I turned the corner and headed up the street to Gristede’s, which was blinking welcomingly a block away.  It was just a gross, gross night.  John didn’t understand, he was weather proof!  I swear, when he was a baby, his mother held him by the ankle and dipped him into a river of Scotch-guard. 

I sighed. 

It was still raining.

I didn’t see any dogs as I walked, which was something of a relief.  Except knowing dogs, they were all gathered in the Riverside Park dog run discussing a plot to overthrow the mayor or something. 

I did see a little boy though, maybe a few years older than Simeon, holding the hand of an older girl and laughing.  Blond and sturdy and happy, he sent a flicker of John’s childhood pictures through my mind.  He’d walked streets like these, with his mother or sister maybe, an after-dinner trip to Gristede’s for a carton of milk or a loaf of bread…

I blinked a little, rain in my eyes.  It was a nice block we lived on, families and older people and younger people and bagels, all within walking distance.  I toed the wet curb waiting for the light to change and tilted my head back slowly, following the arc of a jet over the skyline.  It was a nice block in a beautiful city.

I strolled down the street, spring creeping into my step.  My John was waiting for me, not fifty feet away now, in our nice warm apartment.  I could see its glow from the corner.  Forget dogs. Forget rain.  Forget gloom.  My heart swelled. 

Damn.  He’s good.

“Damn.  You’re good,” I admitted to John as I wiped my feet on the welcome mat.

He held out a hand for my coat and hung it on the rack next to his.  “Whatever do you mean?”

I poked him.  “You know.”

He smiled innocently.  “I can’t imagine what you’re implying, darling.”  He reached out a hand to touch my damp collar.  “Now, how about that shower…or did you want to finish our conversation about how you loathe this neighborhood?”

I blushed.  “Well…maybe I don’t hate it, exactly.” 

John kissed one hot cheek.  “Whatever you say, darling.”  He tugged me toward him.  “Let me help you with those?” he growled into my ear, fussing with my shirt buttons. 

“John!”  I cried suddenly, loud enough to be heard over the pulsing water. 

“What?”  He stilled the motion of his hands in my hair.  Rich suds spilled over my ears.

“I forgot to buy the rice dream! I can’t believe it!”

“Don’t worry, love.”  John resumed the shampoo, calm as ever.  “We have three spare in the cabinet.”

“But you…”  I trailed off, realizing.

Damn.  He’s good.

* * *

A strange noise slipped through the door the next night as I fumbled with my keys.  I cocked my head for a moment, listening.

I mean, I’m the first to admit that the occasional strange noise comes out of our bedroom, but from the sound of it this was coming from the living room. 

Huh.

Shrugging, I speared the lock with my key and swung the door open.

“John?”

“In here,” he called.  There it was again – that noise!

I followed the odd squeaking sound through the foyer. “John? Is the dishwasher broken?”

My love was crouched on the floor, his back to me.  “John?”

He turned around, something in his arms.

Something small and white and…panting.

Oh my god.

It was a puppy, one of those tiny, fluffy, Hostess sno-ball type things.

“Um, John?” I asked, edging slowly into the living room, back firmly against the wall.  “You’re good. You’re very good. But I learned my lesson yesterday, really, I did.  There’s no reason to get a puppy.  I won’t make any more citizens’ arrests, I promise, not even for dogs without leashes who—”

“Tris,” John cut me off, the puppy cocking its head (at least I THINK that end was its head) at his voice.  “Come inside, darling.  Let me explain.”

I crept in.  “Can we take that thing back to the pet store now? I get it, I really do.”

John patted the ground beside him.  “Sit.” 

(Had he forgotten which one of us was the dog?)

I sat gingerly on the floor as far away as I could get from the fluffball without seeming too anti-social.

“Mrs. Eisner is in the hospital, Tris,” John said gently, one hand petting the thing on his lap, which was starting to squeak again.

“Oh!  Is she all right?”  Mrs. Eisner was a sweetheart, the sort of old woman you live down the hall from in books, who cooks you chicken soup when you’re sick and refers to you and your longtime lover as “those nice boys in 12C.”

“She’s stable,” John assured me.  “She collapsed earlier today.  They think it might have been a stroke—a very minor one,” he added in response to what I assume was my look of alarm.

“Is someone with her?” I asked in a small voice.

“She has a daughter in Carroll Gardens,” John said.  “In a pet-free building.”

Aha.

“That’s...Prince?  Princess? Prince-snow? Snow Queen?”  I racked my brain for the name of Mrs. Eisner’s only personality flaw—that noisy ball of squeak she was inordinately fond of.

I felt a bit guilty at not having recognized him (her?) right away, but then again all dogs look the same to me: Furry.  Loud.  Odorous.

“Princess Snowball,” John corrected me, managing to keep a straight face. 





“Um.”  I looked down at the dog.  It snuffled in John’s lap and a small pink tongue protruded from between layers of white fur.

Uch.

“John…”  I glanced at the dog in question, not trying particularly hard to hide my distaste. It breathing quite noisily for a creature the size of a small chipmunk.  “It’s so little.  I’ve seen bigger rats in the subway.”

“Do you want to pet him?”  John lifted the front of the dog in a manner I expect some might have found inviting.

I cringed.  “What do you think?” I asked.

“Point taken.”  John boosted himself to his feet, scooping the dog up with him.  “I lined a box for him in the kitchen; I’m going to settle him in there and we can talk.”

“Him?”  I followed the odd couple into the kitchen.  “*His* name is Princess Snowball?”

John shrugged.  “I can’t explain the name, but trust me, he’s a he.  If you want to double check, you’re welcome to…”

“No thanks,” I said quickly.  “I believe you.”

I watched as he tucked the puffy little rat into a nest of unfamiliar-looking blankets.  “They’re from Mrs. Eisner’s place,” John explained, catching my glance.  “I thought a familiar smell would make the dog feel more secure.”

(Aw.  He’s a sweetie, isn’t he, my John?  Thinks of everything.)

Out loud I said: “John, you know I don’t like dogs.”

John put a finger to his lips and dimmed the kitchen light.  He held a hand out to me and I waited until we were flopped comfortably on the living room couch to continue my protest.

“John,” I said, utilizing every oratorical and logical skill I could muster, “I LOATHE dogs.”

John sighed.  “Honey, I know that.  And I wouldn’t bring a dog into this apartment if it weren’t an emergency.  But there’s no one else Mrs. Eisner feels comfortable leaving him with, and the last thing she needs while she’s recovering is something else worrying her.”

I may be the orator, but John fights dirty logic.
I sighed.  “I love Mrs. Eisner, John.  I really do.  It’s just…a dog?”

“It shouldn’t be for very long.  Just until she’s back home.”

“But…uch,” I scowled.  “John…”

“Listen, Tris.  If you were allergic, if you were afraid, that would be another story.  But just not having particular fondness for canines is no excuse for letting down an elderly woman who’s been nothing but kind to you, and who’s done a lot for us.”

“But why?”

“Because sometimes we do things for people, Tris.  Even if they’re not fun things.”

I sighed my most put-upon sigh, and yes, I do have a complex sigh spectrum.  “John…”  I let my voice trail toward semi-whine.

“How many more reasons do you need?” he asked patiently.

“One,” I decided.  “And make it a good one.”

“All right.”  He paused for a moment.  “Because I said so.  How’s that?”

I considered it.  “Domineering but persuasive.”

“Ah,” he grinned.  “You must have read my personal ad.”

I sighed yet again.  John was watching me, those blue eyes fixed intently on mine.  He’s impossible to resist.  That’s the problem. 

“Okay,” I said.  “I’ll try.”

“That’s my Tris.”  John reached to ruffle my hair and I ducked to avoid his touch. 

“Wash your hands first!” I ordered him.  “If you think you’re going to walk around smelling like dog all the time just because that…creature…is staying with us….”

“Oh, do you dictate to me now?” John asked pleasantly. 

“Maybe,” I said airily.  “After all, you’ll be awfully busy with the dog….”

He reached unwashed hands toward me.  “Come here, bossy,” he growled, and I feigned a protest as he wrestled me, doggedly, into submission.

I have to keep up my reputation, you know!


* * *


So try I did. 

There’s not much I wouldn’t do for John, after all.

And, as usual…my John had a point.  So I would try to get along with the furry intruder.  For his sake. 

But it wouldn’t be easy.


* * *


“Oh, look at the little tongue on my baby,” I urged John.  “It’s so cute…and pink…”

“Something else is going to be pink if you don’t put that dog outside and get into the shower, Tris,” John said, rather meanly if you ask me. 

With a sigh, I scooped the dog up – lovingly – and deposited him gently just outside the bedroom door, planting a kiss on the soft fur of his tiny head.  “Daddy will be back for you in two shakes, sweetie pie.”

John looked like he was stifling a smile when I turned around.  “Shower, Tris!” he said before I could be offended.

“Yes, sir!”  I saluted and sidled past him as he aimed a swat at my marching rear. 

I leaned toward him for a kiss and he wrinkled his nose.  “Did you brush your teeth?”

“What kind of question is that?” I asked, insulted. 

“Tris, don’t take this the wrong way, but you…you smell like dog,” my darling said, sniffing with a frown.

“John!”

Honestly.  You live with someone for almost seven years, you’d think they’d get used to a little morning breath.  I cuddled the puppy in my arms for support.  He pressed his paws to my shoulders and lapped my face enthusiastically.  So sweet!  I kissed him a few times, then glared over his head at John.  “I do NOT smell like…uch,” I interrupted myself as the dog’s wet tongue somehow connected with my own. 

Um.

I squeezed the puppy apologetically – not his fault he wasn’t familiar with the No Tongue on the First Date Rule (admittedly, I’d broken it myself more than once), then set him on the ground before he started taking any more liberties.

“I’ll just, um,” I looked sideways at John, who had that same funny expression on his face, like he was trying not to laugh. 

Maybe it was indigestion?

“I guess I’ll just go brush my teeth,” I mumbled.

“Darling,” John said as we walked together toward the subway.  “I’m glad you’re getting along so well with the dog, but…”

“Should we have left a tape recording?”

“What?”

“A tape recording.  I mean, he’s all alone.”

“He’s been alone the last few days, Tris, and he’s been fine.”

“Well, yes, but now he’s more attached.  Hm,” I furrowed my brow.  “I could call the answering machine at regular intervals, you know, throughout the day.  That might make him feel more secure.”

“I think he feels secure enough.”  John glanced at his watch.  “Listen, Tris….”

But even John isn’t louder than a hurtling space car, and whatever he wanted to tell me was cut off by the whirr of the train as it lunged, hissing and spitting, into the station


* * *

Dogs are very sensitive creatures.  And they learn Very quickly.

I wish I could say the same thing about myself.

For instance, when the phone rang later that day, I picked it up automatically.

“Tris?”

“John?”

(Screen, Tris. SCREEN YOUR CALLS! I shrieked internally.)

“What are you doing home?” he asked.

Um.

“I thought I’d come home a little early,” I said slowly. 

“It’s not even noon yet.”

Right.  If I’d needed to know that, I would have called for the time.

(A couple years ago I might have said that out loud, too.)

“Okay, a lot early,” I amended my earlier statement.  “The puppy’s not used to being on his own yet, John, and I figured I’d work from home this afternoon, sort of ease him into…no no, sweetie, don’t chew Uncle John’s shoes…”

“Which shoes?” John sounded distinctly alarmed.

“Ummmm….yourgoodones,” I mumbled.  “Look, John, I need to go.  He doesn’t really like it when I’m on the phone, and…”

“Tris!”

“Bye now,” I said, hurriedly but lovingly, and tucked the still-chatting phone into its cradle.

“Where were we?” I asked my furry little companion, who was pouncing enthusiastically on his newest chew toy.

* * *

“What did you do this afternoon?” John asked, having torn me cruelly away from the puppy long enough for a brief discussion about sins of omission.

“I gave the puppy a bath,” I said proudly.  “How does he look?”  I lifted him up for John to inspect.

“He looks, er…fluffy,” John said finally.

“Blow-dryer,” I explained. 

John looked slightly distressed, so I hastened to explain: “Don’t worry, I used the diffuser and I kept the setting on cool to protect my little pumpkin.”  I nuzzled the puppy’s soft fur, then held him out to John.  “Doesn’t he smell delicious?”

“He smells like Paul Mitchell,” John said suspiciously.

“Well, I had to wash his fur!” 

“With Paul Mitchell?”

Really, John’s spirit was less than generous these days. 

“Just where did you wash him, Tris?” John asked, motioning for me to remove the dog from under his nose.  Princess Snowball wriggled happily and emitted a few precious little high-pitched yelplets. 

“The kitchen, why?”

“The kitchen?”  There he was sounding alarmed again.  If he wasn’t careful, that eyebrow was going to shoot straight up into his hairline.

“Sure, where else?”

John was muttering something, and I think I caught “unhygienic” and “insane,” but it was pretty hard to tell.

He rubbed the spot just above the bridge of his nose.  “Should I go look?”

I considered the question.  I looked down at Princess Snowball, who despite being quite fluffy, had expended a considerable amount of hair into the sink drain.  And then there were the footprints on the counter.  And the shampoo in the dishwasher.  And the…oh, never mind.

“Noooo…” I said slowly, drawing out the word as long as I could.  “Maybe later.”

John was looking positively distressed, so I kissed him, which seemed to cheer him up a bit.  I hugged him as tightly as I could with the dog still in my arms.  “We should probably order in tonight,” I suggested.

“That sounds like a good idea,” he murmured, kissing my hair.  “Tris?” he asked suddenly, sounding alarmed all over again.  “Please tell me that’s you licking my ear…”

* * *

Dogs are wonderful things.  Even unusually passionate ones!  Anyone who doesn’t appreciate a warm cuddly fluffy dog on his lap is just cruel, and inhuman, and evil.

As it happened, I was decidedly used to our new life as a threesome. 

More than used to.  Accustomed to.  Contented with!  Two men and our dog.  We were a Normal Rockwell painting!

I leaned back into the couch, snuggling the puppy in one arm and the Op-Ed page in the other.  Ah, the comforts of home….  Well, with one thing missing.  I strained for the sound of John on the phone in the other room. 

Then he strode in, clicking the phone off with one hand, and smiled at me.  “Sorry about that.”  He reached toward me.  “Did you save me the Metro sec—ow!”

“Tris!” John snapped as the dog snapped at HIM.  He pulled his hand back. 

“What?”  I stroked the top of the dog’s head.  “He’s just so protective when he’s sitting on my lap, John,” I explained.  “He doesn’t mean anything by it, do you, baby boy?”

John was giving me a look I didn’t feel like identifying, so I reached out (holding the dog securely with the other arm, in case he was still feeling protective) to stroke the hand in question.  “He didn’t even break the skin, did he?  Not with those little tiny baby teeth he didn’t,” I added for Princess Snowball’s benefit.  I didn’t want his little feelings hurt by John’s irrational dislike of dogs. 

“No, he didn’t break the skin,” John sighed.  “Can you pass me the Metro section, darling?” he asked politely, settling barely arms’ length away on the other end of the couch.  “I’d rather not risk losing a digit.”

“Sure,” I sifted through the pile I’d set aside.  “Oh…”

I swear, John’s ears actually perked up.  “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing?” I asked, unable to swallow the question mark.

“Tris?”

“Well…” wincing, I held out the Metro section.

Or what used to be the Metro section, before a certain sweet little fluffy baby used it for gnawing practice.  (It’s so cute the way he chews stuff, and holds onto it with his little paws…)

“My paper!”  John sounded distinctly unmoved by Princess Snowball’s cuteness. 

“You can still read it, sort of…” I offered.  “Look, here, where it’s not so wet, you can kind of make a story about the budget perks.”  I squinted at the spot, damp with doggie drool.  “Or is it about budgies in the park? Hmmm.”  I waved the paper back and forth a little, trying to dry it out.  The teeth marks weren’t exactly helping…

“Okay, that’s it.”  John gave the couch cushion a healthy wallop to emphasize his point (making me VERY glad I wasn’t sitting right next to him).  “That’s it!”

“Should we buy a new paper?” I asked nervously.  “John?”

“No, I have a better idea,” he said, rather ominously. 

I scooted back on the couch.  Princess Snowball, the little traitor, leapt nimbly from my lap and panted happily at my feet.

I slinked to my feet as John muttered.

“No dress shoes…no grey tie…the kitchen smells like dog…no, come here, you,” John growled as I darted out of his reach, attempting to bolt.  He gave chase; I shrieked as he tackled me to the bed and we wrestled good-naturedly for a few minutes.

“Ha.” I pinned him and sat up, beaming.  “You’re losing it, Winter.  I guess old age does funny things to—hey!” He caught me off guard and flipped me over, sitting up to pin me over his lap. 

“John!”

“My shoes are one thing, young man,” he said grimly.  “My ties…my kitchen…that dog can steal chicken or sponges but I am drawing the line…at…my…paper,” he bit out and thwacked me across the seat of the pants with the rest of the paper in question.

“Teethmarks!” he cried, “On my paper!” and I tried to stifle my laughter as he swatted me playfully a few more times.  I wiggled, not trying particularly hard to get away. 

“He didn’t mean to, he’s a baby,” I protested.  “John, it’s just a paper…”

“Okay, that’s it.  I thought I’d heard it all.  First you’re sweet-talking a dog.  That’s strange enough.  But the day I hear Tris Cates say ‘it’s just a paper’….”

“But John, he’s just a sweet little JOHN!” I cut myself off as he poked me in the ribs.  I laughed in spite of myself.  “Stop it.”

“I’m just going to have to beat some sense into you, I suppose,” he said regretfully, tickling me again when I made a half-hearted attempt to get up. 

He whacked me several times with the paper.  “Are you sane yet?”

“From those love taps?” I taunted.  “Hardly!”  I shrieked when he snaked a hand under me to attack my belly.  “Help…help…”  I panted. 

“I’ll just try harder then,” he countered with an audible smirk and I pressed my lips together to stop from giggling as he swatted me with the battered chew-toy of a newspaper.  “John,” I laughed helplessly.  “Quit it…I’m sane...I’m sane, okay?”

“That’s debatable.”

I kicked a few times.  “You’re a brute, John Winter!” I yelped, trying to stop laughing.  “And a dog-hater!  I’m going to call the ASPCA…that is, if you would let GO of me!” 

Suddenly a white blur streaked past the corner of my eye.  I barely had time to register it before John’s cry of pain rang out and he emitted a stream of words I hadn’t heard from him in years.

“John!” I slid off his lap and down to my knees.  Princess Snowball’s tiny little baby teeth were sunk firmly into John’s leg. 

“Get…that…thing…off....” John ground out through gritted teeth.

“I’m trying, I’m trying,” my teeth were pretty gritted myself.  “Down boy!  Down!  LET. GO,” I breathed a sigh of relief as the dog loosened its mini-jaws.

“John? I think we need to…”

“Good call,” he said grimly, his face white.

“Columbia Presbyterian,” I snapped at the driver. 

“So help me, Tris,” John said as he slid gingerly into the cab, his mouth a thin line, “If you say ‘he’s just very protective of me’ I can’t be responsible for my actions.”

“No, no,” I soothed him.  “Don’t be silly, you know I hate dogs, they’re vicious brutes and they should all be curbed.”  I eased his head onto my lap, resting one hand on his forehead.  “You’re going to be fine,” I promised him, stroking his hair.

* * *

“Tris? Do you have the Week in Review?”

“Sure.”  I shook out the paper and extracted the section, passing it to John, who was settled next to me in bed, his bandaged leg propped on a pillow.  I eyed the foot of the bed for a moment, where Princess Snowball used to curl up sometimes (when John wasn’t looking).

I steeled myself.  I did NOT miss that vicious puppy.  Not at all.  Besides, Mrs. Eisner was doing remarkably well, happy to be back in her apartment with her canine companion.
And John…John was healing nicely, under my Nightingale-worthy ministrations—if I do say so myself.

I rolled over, propping myself up on an elbow.  “Are you SURE you’re okay?”  I brushed the hair off John’s forehead to get a closer look at him.

He smiled.  “I’m positive.”  He hooked his free arm around my neck and pulled me down for a kiss.

“John!”  I wriggled free.  “You’re going to jostle your leg!”

“It’s fine.  Now come back here.”  He pulled me down again. 

“But…”

“But nothing, endorphins are medicinal.”

“Well…if you’re sure…”

“I’m sure.”  He nibbled at my neck, settling me against him.  “Stop worrying, darling.  I’m fine.  I’m so fine, in fact, that I almost miss that vampiric little dog.”

“Really. It’s funny you should say that,” I said, snuggling into his chest, “because I told the Keplers on the third floor we wouldn’t mind watching their dog when they go to the Hamptons next week.”

“The Keplers…” John murmured distractedly, sliding a hand underneath my t-shirt.  “Remind me….”

“On the third floor? With the St. Bernard,” I said brightly.

“The WHAT?”  John sat straight up.  “Tris, please tell me you’re kidding.”

“I’m kidding?”

“Well, don’t tell me if you’re not!”

I sighed.  Sometimes I wish he would just make up his mind!  “I’m serious,” I assured him.  “You know the Keplers, they…John! JOHN!  Ow!  Stop it! John, that CAN’T be good for your leg…”

“Oh believe me,” John said grimly, “this is VERY good for me.  In fact, it’s good for both of us.”

Well…who am I to argue?


END.