Sheldon Hawkes liked the night, but more specifically, he liked the near-dawn. It was one of the few times his head was actually quiet. Mainly because most people slept during the night, their sleep deepest in the hours just before the sun rose. During the night, he didn't hear people complaining about their various aches and pains, their sniffles and coughs. He frowned slightly at these thoughts. He was a doctor, he shouldn't be thinking like this. He sighed, but he couldn't help but be relieved when the sun set over New York City and its people went to sleep. He could never have stayed in the ER, with all the broken people, men, women, children, coming through the double doors. He shivered, even now their dying faces stayed with him. At least the dead in the morgue didn't haunt him. He snickered morbidly, the dead didn't haunt him, but the living did. Oh the irony.

Stepping out of his apartment, Sheldon headed towards Central Park. He loved the Park when the sky was just starting to grey around the edges before dawn. So peaceful. He walked through the grass, studiously ignoring the lighted paths set out for those who also enjoyed the Park at night. He flinched slightly as an ear-splitting wail, inaudible to human ears, cut through the night sky. He turned his head towards the sound, shivering and stuffing his hands deeper into his pockets. The hunters would've been out in full force tonight. Who would take that one down? Danny? Don? Or one of the others? He grinned, dark eyes twinkling with mirth as he thought of his two workmates. Both hunters, both working in close proximity with a healer and neither of them had figured it out yet.

Walking past a garbage bin, Sheldon paused, frowning slightly. He could have sworn he... There. Sheldon turned back to the garbage bin and looked around, making sure no-one was watching. He bent over it, dark eyes squinting as he tried to see what had caught his attention. He felt it again. A weak push against his mind, telling him there was something or someone ill nearby. He sighed. It was definitely coming from the garbage bin. Muttering uncomplimentary things about dumpster diving mixed in with a few choice curses, Sheldon gingerly stuck his hands into the garbage. He winced as something unimaginable squelched through his fingers. Pulling out handful after handful of garbage, Sheldon felt the push against his mind get a little stronger, then fade again.

Redoubling his efforts, Sheldon worked faster, trying to find what was calling to him for help. Pulling aside a rotting newspaper, he caught sight of a blue Tiffany's shoe box. He carefully lifted it out; ignoring all the trash he'd pulled out and took it over to a bench. He sat down and eased off the lid. He gasped, compassionate brown eyes filling with tears. A puppy lay, red pet-shop bow still around its neck, squished into the box, barely breathing, back legs broken and twisted. Glancing around, making sure there was no-one to see him, Sheldon lifted the puppy out gently, flinching at its pathetic cry of pain. He smiled shakily as it bared its teeth at him, growling weakly, still willing to show sass, even so close to death.

Closing his eyes, Sheldon concentrated. A soft green glow emanated from his dark-skinned hands to surround both them and the tiny brown puppy they held. The puppy relaxed in his hands. Sheldon frowned, concentrating harder as the bones knitted and the internal injuries started to heal. His frown faded and a smile played over his face as the tiny puppy started to rumble happily in his arms. Opening his eyes, he looked down at the puppy, hands still glowing their soft green. He sighed as the puppy turned its huge mournful eyes on him. Shaking his head, letting the glow fade back into his hands, Sheldon picked the puppy up, setting it at eye level.

"You are going to be a world of trouble, aren't you?" he asked it, not caring in the slightest that he was talking to a dog.

Not surprisingly, the dog didn't answer. It just looked at him with huge eyes and whimpered hopefully. Sheldon sighed in resignation. At least he'd have company to come home to. He tucked the puppy down the front of his jacket, grinning as it squirmed around until its head was poking out the top, where it promptly went to sleep, rumbling contentedly. Sheldon glanced up as he heard a clock chime five in the morning. He pulled a face, put the garbage he'd pulled out in search of the puppy back into the bin and washed his hands in a nearby water fountain.

He sighed, there was no time to go back home now. He glanced at the sleeping puppy tucked down the front of his coat. He sighed again. Maybe he could get Sid to… no, the new M.E. was allergic to dogs. Oh well, he'd just have to go into work early and see if he could puppy-eye one of the techs into keeping an eye on the little guy. One thing was for certain, he would never hear the end of this. He looked down again as the puppy started to snore.

"Well, we are in a pickle now, aren't we, little guy?" he said softly, stroking the puppy's head as he walked back through Central Park on his way to the lab.

At the bottom of the steps outside the lab, Sheldon lifted the puppy, now dubbed Pickle, out of his jacket, smiling when the dog shivered in the cool morning air and shot him a dirty look. Bringing the dog back up to eye level he looked around cautiously. That would go down real well. Being busted having a conversation with a puppy. A cutie-pie puppy named Pickle, no less.

"Pickle, listen, you need to stay quiet. Just until I can find a tech to watch you while I work. If Mac busts me with you down the front of my jacket…" with those words, Sheldon carefully stuffed Pickle down the front of his jacket again, pushing the puppy's head down so he was out of sight.

Walking into the lab, Sheldon prayed he wouldn't bump into anyone. No such luck. Of all the people he could've bumped into, it had to be Mac. On the inside, Sheldon winced. On the outside, he smiled and said hello to Mac and waving to Danny he walked up. Please let Pickle stay quiet, he prayed silently. No such luck. Today was so not Sheldon's day. Waving was a bad idea, he thought to himself as Pickle squirmed inside his jacket, making Mac blink and Danny frown slightly. Sheldon calmly folded his arms loosely across his chest, sending both men a questioning look.

"Hawkes?" Mac said uncertainly, "Did your coat just… wriggle?"

Sheldon gave him an innocent look, "I don't know what you…" Pickle let out a series of low whimpers.

Sighing as he realized he was busted, Sheldon shot Mac a sheepish look and resisted the urge to flip Danny, who was sniggering quietly, the bird. He unfolded his arms and reached down into his jacket, pulling Pickle out and cradling him gently in his arms. He looked surprised for a second, then grinned as Mac reached out and scratched Pickle behind the ears. Danny snorted with laughter and grinned cheekily.

"Is that a puppy in your jacket or are you just happy to see me?"

Hawkes and Mac rolled their eyes, before Don's voice called from behind them, "Who has a puppy?"

Danny answered, grinning as Don and Stella walked over, "Hawkes, over here, wandered into the lab with this little guy stuffed down his jacket. He was just about to explain why, weren't you Shel?"

As Don grinned and Stella cooed over the puppy, Mac asked, "Why exactly was there a puppy in your jacket, Sheldon?"

Sheldon blushed slightly, "I was walking to work this morning and heard a noise coming from a garbage bin. I looked inside and found this little guy stuffed inside a Tiffany's box," Sheldon blushed a bit more, "I fished him out, thinking I'd drop him off at the nearest shelter, but he just stared at me with those eyes…"

Danny grinned, "And you didn't have the heart to give him away?"

Sheldon shook his head, grinning sheepishly as his co-workers hooted with laughter. Pickle stared around with wide eyes, cowering back into Sheldon's arms. Sheldon cradled the puppy up by his shoulders tucking it under his chin where it relaxed slightly. Don snickered, reaching out to scratch Pickle under the chin.

"Aren't you the superhero today, Hawkes? Rescuin' puppies in distress an' all?"

Danny teased, "Yeah, come on Shel, now that we know about your double identity, what's your superpowers?"

Sheldon rolled his eyes at the two of them, wiggling the fingers of one hand, before deadpanning, "My healing hands and way with the ladies…"