As he woke, Jack became aware of the unfamiliar feeling of a warm body
wrapped around him. Cuddling his sleeping lover he smiled and thought about
the boy in his arms. What a wildcat! And what a vulnerable mixed up kid.
Quite a combination! His arms tightened around Dominic as he thought about
the story that had finally been dragged out of the boy the previous night.
It was all very well blaming the cat but what on earth had he been doing
climbing on the shelves in the first place? He could have been killed!
Jack had come close to turning Dominic back over his knee when that fact had
finally been admitted. Only some very fast talking on his lover's part and
Dom's solemn promise never ever to do anything so stupid again had saved
him. That and a swift turn of subject onto how Derek had distracted him by
getting into the plaster dust.
Jack made a mental note not to fall for that in future. It was all too
clearly one of Dominic's standard 'charm his way out of trouble' tricks and
Jack was determined that such tricks would not work with him, however
successful they might have been with Dom's family. Too many people had
fallen for the boy's charm and allowed him to get away with blue murder but,
as far as Jack was concerned, it ended here and now.
Regretfully Jack gently disentangled himself from his clinging lover and got
up, turning to tuck the covers back around Dominic as he left. However much
he might want to stay, there was a surgery full of animals waiting and he
needed to get up.
He came back from his shower to find the bed empty. For a moment he was
frightened that the boy had woken, scared, in the unfamiliar bed and
regretted what had happened the night before. Had he pushed things too
Before he could do more than form the thought the bedroom door opened and
Dominic entered, wearing only a pair of shorts, with a mug of tea in each
hand and his beloved biscuit tin tucked under one arm. Giving Jack a
glorious smile he handed over one of the mugs and moved in for a hug before
settling cross-legged on the bed to consume tea and biscuits in roughly
"Biscuits for breakfast?" Jack asked
"Biscuits then breakfast." Dom responded with a grin wicked enough to not
only put all Jack's worries to rest but to reminded him of the day before's
It had seemed like a good idea at the time. Dom had been worried about his
current, rent free, living status so Jack had suggested that he should start
clearing the spare room and stripping the wallpaper in preparation for
redecorating. It had seemed like a relatively easy way of letting him feel
that he was earning his keep. Now it seemed more like a sure way of coming
home to a pile of rubble where his home used to be.
Just as Jack was wondering how he could suggest to Dom that he found
something else to do today, without actually hurting his feelings, salvation
came in the form of a call from his partner. It seemed that the surgery
receptionist would be off again and a temporary replacement was needed
urgently. Turning an eye on his now sugar coated young friend Jack agreed
that he knew exactly the person they needed.
Realising that he was the topic of the conversation, Dom looked up
enquiringly as Jack rang off. He didn't take the idea that he should become
a vet's receptionist for the day particularly well to begin with, protesting
that he wouldn't have the faintest idea what to and already had a job to do
here anyway but he was soon talked around. All things considered, he
actually rather liked the idea of spending the day with Jack, even if it
meant acting as a temporary receptionist. Without wanting to admit it, he
found himself needing the reassurance that Jack was close by and that he
wasn't going to decide that the developments of the previous night had been
a huge mistake, best disposed of as soon as possible.
A little of this insecurity played over his face as they were talking and
Jack pulled him into a hug saying
"Don't look so worried. You'll be fine. We'll be fine."
He was then ruthlessly kissed and sent on his way to the bathroom with a
swat to his backside.
"Will you stop doing that?" Dom demanded. Almost, but not quite, stamping.
"But it's such a tempting target." Jack responded, tweaking Dom's chin as he
spoke and then using it to pull him closer for another kiss whilst patting
the said target with his other hand. "Now go get dressed or I'll remember
what else I could be doing with it and we won't get breakfast."
"Don't want any anyway. " Responded Dom. He bent over to strip off his
shorts, taking considerably longer than the job really required and casting
Jack a look that suggested he hadn't entirely given up hope of tempting him
into more pleasant pastimes.
He quickly backtracked though when he suddenly found himself tucked under
Jack's arm with a firm hand resting on his buttocks and a voice above him
musing on what a pretty red colour they had been the night before and
considering whether or not it could be repeated.
Breathless promises of eternal good behaviour earned him a reprieve however
and he slipped out of the room, attempting, with limited success, the
sidewise twist to avoid a passing swat that most boys perfect in early
childhood but which he was only just learning.
After a hurried but compulsory breakfast - Jack made a mental note to
consider biscuit rationing - they were headed towards the surgery, Dom
becoming quieter and more withdrawn the closer they got.
Since they were already running late there was only had time for a quick hug
and a whispered "You'll be fine" before he was ushered through into the main
reception and quickly introduced to Jack's business partner Phil and the
nurses Jill and Gary.
Jack's opening line of "This is my new partner, Dominic" helped considerably
in overcoming his shyness though and he was soon chatting happily with the
nurses who promised to keep an eye on him and also insisted he'd be fine.
Phil, whilst being perfectly polite, seemed somewhat distant, leaving Dom
feeling a little nervous of him. He quickly vanished with Jack however so
Dom was soon able to relax in the easy company of the two nurses with Jack
popping back to see he was ok before kicking off with his first patient.
The waiting room quickly filled up but Dom's initial panic soon subsided as
he realised that things really were straightforward. Even if the others
weren't around, the owners themselves usually knew what was required.
"She files it under 's' mate. That cabinet over there"
"No love. She usually uses those forms."
There was a minor problem with a chicken that didn't appear to have an
appointment but even this quickly sorted itself out when it turned out that
she was only there to keep her friend, a duck with a wart on his foot,
company. Dom ended up just letting that go with a mental doff of his hat to
the eccentricities of your average English pet owner.
After that, a run of cats, dogs, rabbits, a tortoise that was not
hibernating when it should and a snail that was apparently permanently
asleep - "Don't think it likes the cold weather. Its African you
know." - caused him no problems.
He was just getting into the swing of it when a man in as RSPCA uniform
appeared in front of him carrying a little orange dog. The dog was clearly
pretty old and was utterly filthy with patchy fur and sores all over him.
The claws on his feet were so long they had grown around into his pads. He
was clearly in a bad state generally but it was the look in his eyes that
totally mesmerised Dom. He'd never seen such utterly hopeless resignation
Panicking, he paged Jack who came at once, took one look at the dog and then
ushered them straight through. Dom followed unnoticed.
"What do you think?" The officer asked.
Talking quietly and reassuringly to the dog as he went, Jack checked him
over. The dog made no response to anything Jack did or said. He just lay
there, accepting whatever was done to him.
"Well he's not too bad under the circumstances. He's somewhat dehydrated
but this skin problem looks worse that it actually is. A little care and it
should clear up quite quickly and then the hair should re-grow. The pads
are badly infected but again they should clear up with proper medication
once we have the claws sorted out. To be honest though, it's his spirit
that's bothering me."
As he spoke he began to carefully clip the dog's claws and the gently remove
the ends from the embedded pads. However careful he was, the process had to
have been extremely painful for the dog but he neither moved nor made a
"I'll put him on a drip for now and start him on a course of antibiotics.
Gary can try and clean him up a bit and then get some cream on those sores.
Provided he wants to, he'll live. Have you any idea what happened to him?"
"No. He was found on the side of the motorway like this. No clues where he
"Ok. We'll get him settled. All things being equal you should be able to
pick him up later on. What are you going to do with him?"
"I have no idea. The local pounds are full. I'd try Battersea but I know
they're inundated too. Anyway cases like this don't usually thrive in a
pound. They just give up. All things considered it might be better just to
put him down now and have done with it. No point in prolonging his misery."
"No!" Dom shouted suddenly from behind them, drawing attention to his
presence for the first time. "Jack you mustn't. You can't."
"Oh hell! Look, It's ok Dom. I'm doing nothing now but you must understand,
he does have a point." Jack tried to put an arm around Dominic but he
slipped past him, heading for the dog lying disinterested on the table.
Trying to explain, Jack continued " Old dogs like this are incredibly
difficult to re-home and they don't usually survive long in a pound
environment. Without much closer attention than any pound can give them,
they quite often just lose interest in living. Once that happens then there's almost nothing that can be done for them."
"But what about a proper home. Someone to love him?"
"As he said, dogs like this are incredibly difficult to re-home." The RSPCA
man put in. "People just don't want old dogs. And this little guy isn't
"How can you possibly say that? He's gorgeous!" Dom rounded in fury on the
official and then put his arms protectively around the little dog who gave
his first sign of interest in anything by giving the hand closest to his
head a little lick. Delighted Dominic held him closer and the dog
responded, as best he could, by trying to cuddle into him.
The idea appeared in his face at the moment it occurred. Jack groaned.
"Why can't we keep him?" Dom asked excitedly. "There's plenty of room and I
could look after him"
"Dom..." Jack groaned again as he tried to form all the reasons why a vet
just could not take on every deserving stray animal that crossed his path.
Scenting weakness, the RSPCA officer basely changed sides and interrupted
saying "You know, if you could just keep him until he was back on his feet
and ok again, I'm sure we could take him back off your hands and find him a
home then. It would just be a temporary arrangement, of course. Only until
he's straight. It would be a great help. Give him a much better chance.
And he does seem very taken with the young man. I'm sure he'd settle with
"Yes I'm sure you are." Jack growled, glaring at the turncoat in from of
"Oh thank you Jack. That's wonderful. It's not as if it's forever. Just
until he's better."
The officer at least had the grace to look sheepish at this but stood still
stood his ground saying, "Well I'm glad that's sorted. Let me know how he
gets on." before retreating rapidly.
Meanwhile Dom had gone back to cuddling his dog, whispering blandishments
into his ear. Looking up at Jack with shining eyes he confided
"I've never had a dog before."
"It's only until he's back on his feel." Jack tried to warn Dominic but,
seeing the look on his face, Jack knew he didn't stand a chance.
Later that evening the dog, looking considerably cleaner and healthier, if
not more attractive was fast asleep in a basket in front of the fire.
Dominic was cuddled up to Jack on the sofa and Derek the cat was an
affronted bundle of spiky fur on the back of an armchair.
"So what are you going to call him?" Asked Jack finally. "He's your dog."
"I don't know. What sort of dog is he?"
"Well he's not a pedigree if that's what you mean. Some sort of terrier
would be my closest guess."
"What do you think his parents were?"
"Honestly? Well.. In my considered opinion, he could only be the result of
an amorous encounter between a mangy fox and a piano stool."
Jack would have continued but was incapable of further speech as he went
down under a barrage of cushions; Dominic's response to the insult to his
Once Jack had been properly subdued and had promised never again to say
another rude work about the incredibly attractive, if somewhat aromatic,
animal in question he was allowed back up and the question of the dog's name
"Todd. I think I'll call him Todd." Dom decided.
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