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Caleb mulled this over in his head for the millionth time. This was either going to be a new beginning for his partner Hank, or Caleb was going to end up in a studio apartment with a new dog. One or the other. Caleb gave the puppy a scritch. “Either way, I’ll take care of you.”
The puppy licked his hand. It was hard to be logical with a face that cute.

Caleb also knew that getting pets as gifts was a bad idea, but he assured himself it wasn’t exactly impromptu. Hank had told him he wanted a dog one day. He still had a photo in their room of his childhood dog, T-bone. Their lives as a couple had been so turbulent lately. Going to the MIddle East had been a bad idea for a young man already stamping down trauma from sexual abuse in his teens. It had just made things so much worse when Hank came home. Caleb barely recognized him.

Hank tried though to get better, and Caleb still loved him even though he was broken. He wanted to help. Caleb wanted someone there when he had to work and Hank felt alone. Caleb had read another story of a man who had escaped depression with a pup. This had to work.

Caleb pulled in the driveway. He texted Hank. “You here right?”
A long moment passed. Caleb wondered if he’d been in the bathroom. 

“Yeah why?” Hank typed back.
“Good. I got a surprise for you.”
“Should I come out?” The response was a bit quicker this time.
“No I’ll come in.”

Caleb turned off the truck. “Alright, Eugena, ready to go meet your new Daddy?”
The puppy’s tail wagged. Caleb picked her up and she squirmed in his hands.
“Alright, Batgirl, hold still now.” Caleb got out of the cab and shoved his phone into his pocket. “Alright, alright.”

Caleb came in the house. “Hank?”
“Come here, I want you to meet someone.”
Caleb heard the footballs. Hank came around the corner from the kitchen and stopped. He stared at Caleb, and at Eugena, dumbfounded. “…You got a dog?” he whispered.
“I got you a dog,” Caleb corrected. He set the puppy down and pointed. “Go on, go say hi.”

Hank got down on a knee. “Come here, baby.”
Eugena was a smart girl. She bolted over and Hank scooped her up. “Hello! Aren’t you precious? Oh my god you are so precious. Aww yes, hi…” Hank leaned against the wall of the hallway, body folded around the small dog licking his face. “You are so precious… oh Caleb, I can’t believe this. She’s perfect!” Hank hugged her.

Caleb watched Hank’s shoulders hitch and he realized his partner was crying. Caleb found himself pushing tears of his own out of his eyes.
“She’s pretty cute,” Caleb said.
“I love her so much. Oh Caleb, thank you thank you. She’s so warm.”

Caleb sniffled. “I’m not sure you’ll be thanking me when you have to house break her, but …she should keep you company and give you structure when I’m here. She’ll keep you safe.”
“She’s perfect,” Hank repeated. “What’s her name?”
“Well, the shelter called her Eugena.”
“mmm. I think we can keep that for now. Oof, you sure do like giving kisses.” Hank looked at Caleb. “Thank you. More than you’ll ever know. I love you and appreciate you, and I am so glad you stick with me even when i suck.”
“You don’t suck. Your brain is making you think you suck. We’re gonna fix that.” Caleb smiled and went to go get tissues. He was feeling flushed with success. Caleb didn’t know that while he was gone, Hank was thinking of going into the garage and running the car. He was just thinking of ending everything. That’s why there’d been a long pause. Hank was on the way to the garage, when his phone dinged, and Hank made the decision to answer it.

In the weeks, and months, that followed, Hank began to feel he made the right choice by looking at his phone. It was a decision he dwelled on even years down the road, like when Eugena became the ring bearer at their wedding. Hank couldn’t fathom not being around for moments like this. I mean, you couldn’t believe how cute that dog was with a flower crown on. Oh, and Caleb was not bad looking in a suit either.

Captions are fictional.


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