A/N: Characters are purposely not named and some misspelling is deliberate due to the POV.
Death…I have no idea how to comment on that. I have seen death, I inadvertently caused the death of a good friend and almost killed another human, but how will I know when death occurs?
I do not want to contemplate the loss of my friend. He is nice to me. He took me in and kept me when he didn't need to. He's made certain that I have a nice bed and toys as well as fresh water and food. When he cannot be home by a specific time he has a friend come over and take me out for walks.
How would I feel if I ever lost him? I'm not certain that I can answer that. I cannot escape the apartment, well I could but I chose not to. We are too high up and I do not want to hurt anyone by landing on them.
He watched a movie a few weeks ago and I could almost feel the loss that the dog in the movie was feeling. Do I feel that strongly about him? Would I pine away for him, wait for ten years or longer to be with him again in the afterlife? I want to say yes, but I do not know.
But then, one day the door opens and I joyfully yelp thinking that my friend is home. He has been gone for a long time but it is not him ….it is female with the black marks, she calls them tattoos, on her body. She comes and is crying, what has happened? Where is my friend? Why has the old one come with her? The old one is holding her as she cries, then she comes and kneels in front of me, rubbing my ears, holding me close as her tears permeate my coat. I do not pretend to understand what she is saying. Something has happened to my friend and they have come to take me away.
I snarl at her and try to back away but the silver haired one snaps his fingers at me, tells me to behave and to get my leash. I don't want to, but something in his voice commands me to do as he says. I tuck my tail as I go past him, he might smell like clean cut wood and that beverage my friend likes to drink in the mornings, but I have no doubt that he could hurt me if he wanted to.
We go downstairs and again I pull against the leash, my friend has to be out here somewhere, he cannot be gone. I sniff the air, but there is no current trace of him. What has happened to him?
There is the other friend that I know, the one that is sister to my friend. She hugs my tattooed friend and then scoots over in the seat of the yellow vehicle while the silver haired one sits behind the wheel waiting for us to get in.
We drive for a short time and when we get out again, we're at a familiar building. I remember being here the first time I met these people, the associates of my friend, my human. Surely he's in here somewhere.
We are met at the sliding doors of the metal box, an elevator is what my friend calls it. Is he down here somewhere. We exit and there are four faces gathered around a wooden box. The silver haired one hands some of my friend's belongings over to the one that is called something…some reference to a water fowl. He has red rimmed eyes as if he's sad about something and murmurs a soft thank you as he and his companion slowly start to put the items into the box. There is no life in it. I can detect no heartbeat, but there is a faint smell. I rise up and the assistant gently helps me put my paws on the table to sniff at the body. It is my friend and he is not my friend at the same time. There is no breathing, no smile, and no green eyes crinkling at me.
I look at the husk, this breathless person and see the person who had loved me unconditionally for so long. Yet it cannot be him, can it?
This is too much for me to understand and I slink off to a corner of this cold place. Soon the others are back, all are dressed in black and I see the mate of my friend and pad over to where she is standing. She is leaning against my friend's brother. My friend has no other siblings but he calls this friend his brother in all but blood. He is much like my friend, but there is a sadness that surrounds all of them today and I know that something is terribly wrong.
I nudge my friend's mate and she leans down and hugs me. Her dark brown eyes are filled with tears and I lick her face trying in vain to cheer her up. She ruffles my ears and says something in the language that is not common to my friend. It is the same way she speaks when she is overly emotional and that's when I know that something is very wrong. My friend is always there to hold her, to keep her close when she gets this way. Where is he?
He cannot be that empty shell in the box. I refuse to accept that. Yet, they are all crying and no…it cannot be him. He is too gentle, too nice to be that thing. We head upstairs, most of us anyway. The box holding the form that looks like my friend and the two spectabled (spectacled?) men stay behind.
Again we drive, this time to a place that smells like smoke and something I cannot describe. There is a man in dark clothes and he gives my friends words of comfort or tries to. The box is there too and many people stop and look before they walk away, sniffling or dabbing at tears in their eyes. I cannot comprehend what this is all for.
Many minutes pass, I do not know exactly how long. The man at the front of this establishment nods to my friends. The first one to stand is the water fowl man. He wipes his eyes and takes a few steps forward. He gets to where the other man, the one with the cross on his chest is standing and says, "A more gentle soul you could never find. He always listened to me when he could and he will be greatly missed."
The fruity spectacled man, I say this because he sometimes has a faint fruit smell about him, steps forward but then shakes his head. Before he can back away, the tattooed one steps up and puts an arm around him giving him a hug. He clears his throat and simply says, "I will miss our chats. You were an inspiration to me even if I never knew how to show it."
He stays there while the one who is now carrying a toy in her arms tries to stick it into the box. He leads her away as she says "Who else will keep him company, none of our computers will be able to do so."
He points to something that I cannot immediately see and she nods as he leads her back to sit down. The green eyed movie watching man comes up and says, "For once, I can't think of anything to say. 'Come back Shane' hardly seems appropriate, but I wish you would. You've been the closest thing to a brother that I ever had. I'll miss you, my friend."
My friend's mate steps closer, tears running unchecked down her face. She's holding a little bear with brightly shining eyes in her arms as well as a necklace with a shiny silver star around the bear's neck. She leans in and tucks it into the box, whispering faintly, "This particular friend will stay with you, my love. I'll keep your guy in back for our little one. Thank you for protecting us."
That leaves only the silver haired man. He gently taps the head of the man inside, "I didn't give you permission to die. I am proud of you going out the way you did. Protecting your wife and child the way I couldn't. I almost envy you. Say hello to my family for me."
And then we are moving once again. They all say one final goodbye as they walk past the box. I try to look inside and again the younger spectacled man helps me. The little golden bear is the one that my friend's mate brought with her from overseas. I do not know the history behind it, but for her to have put it in here means that it is my friend in the box. I try to leap in with him but they will not let me.
Silver hair and blue eyes catch my attention. He knows why I want to go, but he shakes his head. "He's not there, boy. He needs you to protect the rest of the family now."
I slink to his side and he ruffles my ears as he says, "Come on,"
The next stop is one I am even more unfamiliar with, yet I can sense death all around... There is also a sense of almost peace here. As if those who have died have done so knowing that they are protected or maybe they are protecting those of us who still live.
There is an open hole with dirt beside it. I cannot tell how deep it is, yet it is apparently deep enough to hold that box. Everyone gathers around and more words are spoken. My friend's mate is given a cloth that has strange markings on it. I think it is a flag. I have seen them upon occasion but never folded this many times.
She takes the flag and whispers something that I cannot hear. The others are gathered around her, supporting her while they all grieve the loss of my friend. I still do not know what exactly has happened. I just know they all say he is gone. And then it is over. Much hugging and shaking of hands as people I do not know come to offer their comments.
My friend's mate and co-workers all just sit and wait for this particular ordeal to be over. They will not leave right away. Some children are near and several of them try to come near but they are strangers to me and I growl at them. A shaky hand ruffles my ears and I stare into eyes that are almost as brown as my own. They say we dogs are color blind, but I have heard my friend describe his friends so often that I almost think I know what the colors are. She smiles through her tears as she softly says, "That's a good boy, but they're allowed to be here today. Let them come and say their goodbyes."
I put my head into her lap and she sighs almost at the same time I do. That's when I notice the small bump. I nudge her gently and she places her hand on my head. "He did not leave us alone my friend. He made sure that a piece of him lives on."
Finally it is over and we are ready to leave this area. The others are standing, heading towards the cars when I sense his presence. He places his hand on my head and for the first time I feel at peace.
Later that night, as I lay protectively beside my friend's bed, I can almost hear him talking to me. "Protect our family boy. Accept the little one the way you accepted me and your mistress and obey them the way you did me. When you're ready to join me, I'll be waiting for you."
And that's when I know that he is dead. My mistress puts her hand down and caresses my ears. "He has not really left us. He will continue to watch over us the way he has always done. We must believe this, yes?"
Her voice breaks and I put my paws on the bed, trying to offer what little comfort I can. She pats the bed and I hesitate only slightly before jumping up and lying down beside her.
As we finally succumb to an exhausted sleep, I see the little bear in her arms. I recognize it as the one my master, my friend calls the guy in back. His scent is strong with this one, and I know that is why she cradles it so closely to her heart. Just before my eyes close for the night, I feel that familiar presence once again and know that my master is saying goodbye on his way to that place all good men go.
"Be safe and know I love all three of you more than words can say. Good bye." With that, he is gone. Not for good as I know when the time is right he will come and fetch us to come home with him, but for now he goes to a new home, and I can almost hear him chuckle as he meets up with the silver haired one's family who greet him when he arrives.