Hello everyone.

I'll start things off by saying that this story is called Iridescence because of the song Iridescent by Linkin Park. If you've watched the third Transformer's Movie, then you have heard this song and if you haven't I highly recommend it. Normally I'm not a big fan of listening to music while I write, but this song is really just incredible.

I know someone said this before me, but I'll say it again.

Writing this made me tired.

Disclaimer: Please read the following.

This is a story about a tragic time in American History. There are a couple of things I want to address before you read the following. First is that I don't care, or want to know anything about you religious, political, ethnic, or racial background. I don't care who's fault you think 9/11 was, or what your favorite conspiracy theory is. I DON"T want to get a pm from you lecturing me on respect, or disrespect, or anything in between.

This story isn't about that.

This story is about a boy and a dog, and an event that resulted in a large loss of life. Its about how people come together in times of need and how the good in people really makes a difference. Its about Humanity. This is what the story is about, and if you don't like it, then click the back button right now.

If you have something to say about THIS STORY, then feel free to write a review or pm me, but seriously, don't use this page to share your own views. Thank You.

Iridescence - A Tale from the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman

A 9/11 tribute story

Ben smiled to himself, enjoying the warm breeze that blew against his face. All around him the sounds of the City clamored for attention, but for once, he seemed to find a place that was just a little bit slower than the fast paced world. He had nowhere to go, and no place to be, and he was taking full advantage of it by just lying on a bench and thinking his own thoughts.

"I want another hot dog."

The youth groaned. "You just had one ten minutes ago. We both had one if I recall." That was another reason the boy was content with the moment, he was full, which wasn't always the case. Clearly it wasn't the case in correlation with his dog.

"Yes, and I'm still hungry."

Ben rolled his eyes and feigned surprised. "Really, you're still hungry? How long has it been? In the three hundred and eighty years I've known you, you're only just now telling me that you're hungry. I suppose I should get you something to eat. How about you remind me in another century and I'll see what I can do."

The dog in question, which was a black Labrador, closed his eyes in thought. "Very funny, I could hardly hear you over the sound of my rumbling stomach. And it's been three hundred and eighty-one years since I've met you. Get your dates right."

The boy, blond with blue eyes and dressed in blue jeans and a plain red t-shirt, didn't comment. Instead, he just continued to stare up at the perfect blue sky. He looked like any other average thirteen or fourteen year old, except for the fact that he was nearly four hundred. His companion, the black Lab, spoke again.

"I know you have a couple of dollars in your pocket Ben. I'm not asking for a steak dinner, thought I wouldn't say no to that. All I'm asking for is something to tide me over until lunch. There's a McDonalds down the street…"

The boy on the bench sighed. "I'm not having that discussion again Ned, McDonalds is bad for you."

The black dog protested. "Like those hot dogs from that street vender are any better. Who knows what could be inside of them. They could be real dogs for all we knew!"

Ben sat up; this time he was the one in protest. "You were the one who wanted the hot dogs in the first place!"

Ned didn't answer. He was busy looking into the sky, towards where the sun was slowly rising. "Does that plane seem low to you?"

The youth turned to look behind him, his gaze gliding over the looming South World Trade Center building, and into the sky beyond. "I guess." Said the boy, sounding somewhat uncommitted. "What do you know about planes?"

"Not much." Answered the dog. "You wouldn't catch me on one of those flying metal death traps. Give me a ship and sails any day."

"Trains are nice." Commented Ben, his attention already diverted by a honking car horn. "Though the subway tunnels are too crowed for my liking."

"What did you say? Asked Ned, distracted.

"I was talking about the subway system, weren't you listening?"

"Not really, I was too busy watching that plane. Look at it now, it's gotten lower."

Both boy and dog watched at the plane dipped lower into the sky, looking like it was headed straight towards them. "Does this remind you of anything?" asked the black Lab.

The plane did remind Ben of something. The memory of waking up in a ditch in an air field, only to find the burning Hindenburg about to crash onto their heads still visited his dreams sometimes. He knew that was why Ned didn't like the idea of flying, especially since they had been planning to board the Hindenburg only the next day, but this was different. Ben could see the trajectory of the plane now, and it wasn't heading towards them, but towards the North World Trade Center.

They watched in silence, the world continuing around them, as a feeling of dread crept into the pair's stomachs. "Y'know, I'm not very hungry anymore." Commented Ned. "In fact, I think it's going to be one of those days."

Ben had heard Ned use the phrase before, after horrifying events that the pair of them had gone through. The Great Chicago Fire, the sinking of the RMS Titanic, and the crash of the Hindenburg rose unbidden to his mind.

"Oh God no." whispered Ben as the Boeing 767 crashed into the North Tower.

Fire and debris flew out from the tower as everyone in the plaza stopped whatever they were doing to stare at the World Trade Center. The noise had been deafening, but now the only noise was shouts coming from the surrounding streets. A second later people started moving; gathering into groups to talk, some fleeing in the opposite direction, others towards the flaming building.

The boy and dog stayed where they were, watching the great plume of smoke start to rise into the sky. "When was the last time you heard from the Angel?" asked Ben, fighting to keep his voice steady.

"A week ago, same as you. We must have already been in the right time and place."

"A little warning would have been nice." Said Ben as he stood up, still watching the smoke. "Something must have gone wrong with the plane. What were the chances of them hitting that building out of the whole City?"

"Small." Answered the dog. Both beings pondered what had just been said for a moment. Then as one, they joined the mass of people heading towards the North Tower.

It was impossible to travel at any fast speed towards the crash site. Cars had been stopped in the street and so many people were headed in both directions that it was all Ben and Ned could do to follow the person in front of them.

"I feel so bad for all those people on board." Said Ben as he was jostled on every side.

"I'm sure they didn't feel a thing."

"Still, that's not the point. And what about the people in the Tower? The people on the floors above are probably trapped!"

Ned looked up at his friend. "Ben, I'm not sure we're going to be able to get up there to begin with. Let's just get to the Tower first and then see what we can do. You've done first aid before; something tells me people are going to need it."

Ben tried to clear his thoughts. His dog was right; they had to access the situation first. Never had he and Ned run blindly into something without knowing what they were up against. This was no exception. With two blocks down and two more to go, Ben looked up at the sky. His view of the Tower was partially blocked by the South Tower, but black smoke continued to stain the blue sky.

A siren went up and immediately people began to jam themselves onto the sidewalks to let an ambulance and fire truck by. The two emergency vehicles were followed by a string of police cars. The crowd used the sudden gap in the street to surge forward and boy and dog both found themselves traveling more quickly towards the smoking tower.

"How do you think they're going to put that fire out?" wondered Ned. "There's no way that fire truck could reach up there."

"I don't know but something tells me we're going to be hanging around for a while so we're probably going to see how they do it." They had reached the South Tower now. Smoke blown over from the North Tower hung over it like a dark halo.

Police were everywhere, and Ben saw they were only a couple of paces from the NYPD's Headquarters' building. The policemen were trying to keep the crowd at bay, erecting barricades leading to West St. and the main access point leading to the North Tower. Ben was impressed that they had taken action so quickly, but it would probably only make his and Ned's job, whatever it was, harder.

Fighting his way over to the front of one of the barricades, Ben looked down the street; trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on. Smoke shrouded the top floors of the building, but the bottom was lined with ambulances and fire trucks. Firefighters were gearing up as policemen organized one line of people entering the building and another leading out. Many of the people seemed confused to as why they were being led out of their workplace, but even from a distance the Eternal could see panic setting into their features.

"Ben, over here!" called Ned as he ran over to a small side street on the other side of the South Tower. The blue eyed boy pushed his way through the crowd, back way they had come. The route his dog had found was away from the police barricades and would onto take a moment's detour to get around the building. Ben started to hurry over to his dog. It was only as he crossed in front of the building that he heard it. Over the wailing of sirens and the shouts of policemen with mega phones, and over the gathering crowd, was a dull roaring sound.

Ben's head snapped up just as another plane, coming from a different direction this time, collided with the South Tower. The youth stood routed to the spot, staring at the explosion above him, not really comprehending what was taking place. Time seemed to slow. He was aware of Ned shouting something in his mind but couldn't tell what the dog was saying. Only when someone grabbed him by the shirt and dragged him away from the building did he register what had happened. Just as comprehension clicked into place, a large piece of twisted metal slammed into the spot where he had been standing only a moment ago.

More rubble began to fall around the southern side of the building and a piece of glass sliced its way across Ben's forearm. He hardly felt the pain, only the surprise at seeing a line of his own blood begin to streak down his arm. Glass and chips of concrete rained down and Ben moved hurriedly out of the way. People were screaming and running all around him, but Ben ignored all of it and concentrated on locating Ned. "Ned!" he shouted aloud over the chaos, trying to look for his dog and also trying to keep an eye out for falling debris. Glass crunched under foot as he headed towards the direction he had last seen his friend.

And then suddenly Ned was in front of him, panic in his brown eye but doggish reassurance plastered on his face none the less. "Let's follow the crowd away from here and re-group." thought Ned.

The blond boy shook his head, dislodging some pieces of glass that had gotten caught in his blond hair. "We shouldn't leave. This isn't an accident Ned, someone hijacked those planes and decided to use them as weapons and now people need help. Our help. This is where we're supposed to be."

Ned looked up at the burning tower and then at the people around them. When he spoke, his voice was full of pain. "Why did this happen, Ben? How could heaven above let something like this happen?"

Ben unconsciously pressed his free hand against his right arm, trying to staunch the flow of blood. "Humans have free will to do what they want. It's our job to make sure people don't hurt others in the process, and to try and make it better when it does happen."

"But how do we fix this Ben? This is so much bigger than us. We can't help all these people."

The Eternal looked around him. People were evacuating from the South Tower now. Most civilians had fled after the second attack and more streets were being blocked off, keeping them out and the help in. "I'm sure the Angel doesn't expect us to help everyone." Said Ben softly, "But we have to do our best."

The youth could feel his friend's resolve return felt his own strengthen. "Where should we start?" asked the Labrador.

"Let's get me a first aid kit. That'll be a start."

Obtaining a first aid kit turned out to be easier than either of them thought. Ben and Ned wandered over to an ambulance, intent on at least having to steal one. There was a group of people with minor injuries standing around, looking scared and confused while a medic tried to calm a woman down who was having a full blown panic attack. Ben simply walked over and climbed into the ambulance while the man was distracted and picked up a white box with a red cross on it.

Jumping back, he began to talk to each person standing near him or Ned, asking what was wrong. If anyone objected to what looked like a kid treating their injuries, no one said anything about it. Most only thanked him or asked him if he was all right or whether he had been separated from his parents. Ben avoided any questions directed at himself and instead distracted the person with a question of his own, or drawing attention to Ned.

Eventually the medic realized what Ben was doing, but with so many people now looking for help there was little he could do about it. He simply nodded at the boy to show acceptance and continued to treat people who were more seriously hurt.

Ben lost track of time and how many people he treated. Usually he just cleaned and wrapped the wound, telling the patient to get it looked at by a real doctor as soon as they could. Some cases however required stitches in order to stop some heavy bleeding. Ben hadn't given stitches to a real person since World War Two, but was glad that his memory didn't fail him. The stitches were done without anesthetic and were done messily, but the results were solid and sanitary. Each time, the blond changed needles and cleaned the cut with a bottle of peroxide he had found in the kit.

"There, that should do it." Said Ben as he tied off the stitch of a deep cut on one lady's bare shoulder, and she readjusted the strap holding up her shirt.

The woman who had sat stoically, all the while petting Ned whose head had rested on the woman's lap, stood up. She looked up at the burning building, then down at Ned before looking back up at Ben. "Who sent you?" she asked, and for the first time Ben noticed the golden cross that hung around her neck.

"Who do you think?" He said, looking her dead in the eye.

Abruptly the woman turned and wandered away, towards the barricades and out of site. It was then that the youth realized that the woman had been the last person near him to be treated, and that the medic was standing beside him.

"You did a pretty good job there. Under normal circumstances I would never let anyone, let alone a minor, treat anyone, but given the situation…" he trailed off, looking around him. "Anyway, you've done enough. Let me treat your arm and then I'm escorting you out of here. Understand?"

The Eternal looked down at his cut arm, slightly surprised to see dried blood crusting along it. In the moments since cutting it he had completely forgotten that it was there at all. The boy sat down in the spot that the woman had just vacated and looked at the medic. "I'm Ben."

The man smiled and kneeled down beside him, taking Ben's arm in one hand and picking up the open bottle of peroxide in the other. "I'm Rob, and this is going to sting."

Ben grit his teeth and clenched his fists as the stinging liquid ran across his arm. "You weren't kidding. That has quite a kick to it."

"You're lucky the cut isn't deep, I can just wrap it up after I finish cleaning it. Where did you learn how to treat people like that? You're like what, fourteen?"

"My mom's a nurse and I took a first aid course over the summer."

"And where are your parents? You really shouldn't be here."

"I was out walking the dog when the plane hit. My dad works in the South Tower and I'm waiting for him to come out. He doesn't work that high up so it shouldn't be too much longer until I see him."

Ben saw the man's face tighten upon hearing the words, but he made no further comment as he wrapped the boy's arm in gauze. When he finished, he looked into Ben's blue eyes and sighed. "Look, I need to check in with my superiors, find out what my orders are and find the rest of my team. I'm going to let you stay in the back of the truck until you see your dad, okay? Otherwise don't leave. I shouldn't have to tell you how dangerous it is around here."

"I understand sir, I won't leave the ambulance."

Rob nodded at him and picked up the first aid kit lying on the ground. Turning he strolled off, grabbing a walkie-talkie from the back of his belt and speaking into it. He didn't look back.

The moment Rob was hidden by a line of evacuating people; Ben stood up and began walking towards the South Tower. "Y'know, I think dad should have come out by now. Maybe we should go inside and see if we can't find him."

"Ben, I don't think it's a good idea. We should stay outside; maybe check out the area around the other tower."

The Eternal stopped walking and stood in the middle of the street between the ambulance and the Trade Building, and looked at his dog. "How bad of an idea are we talking about?"

The Labrador pawed at the ground. "I just have a really bad feeling about going in there. I feel…" he paused, searching within himself. After a couple of seconds he continued, "I feel like we need to get away from here."

An image of the Dutchman flashed before his eyes and immediately Ben knew that things were about to get a lot worse. The youth took one step backwards, towards the way they had come. It was the only head start they got before the rumbling started. The ground began to shake as the South Tower collapsed in on itself.

Ben was shoved out of the way by a group of people who were about to enter the tower. A black policeman pushed at Ben's back, urging him forward. "Run for your fucking lives!" he shouted at the crowd.

The pair ran, surrounded by chaos, knowing that there was no way they could ever get far enough before they would be swallowed by the mass of oncoming destruction. Ahead of them, was the ambulance, people were climbing into it, hoping it would shield them from whatever force was about to hit the streets of Manhattan. An idea leapt into Ben's head, though it died almost instantly as he watched the open ambulance door swing shut by the people inside.

"Ouff" Grunted Ben as he hit the ground. Ned had thrown himself onto the boy's back, forcing him to fall. "Roll under the ambulance!" shouted Ned inside his mind, and Ben rolled under the car, seeing the large cloud of death sweeping toward him before he shut his eyes.

Hurriedly Ben tucked his mouth into his shirt and took a shaky breath. Adrenalin coursed through his bloodstream making him shake, and he felt around himself blindly, looking for Ned. After a second of panic where he could not find Ned, his hand met something soft. The furry object scooted closer and a warm mass pressed against him.

Ben put an arm around the dog just as he felt a hot gust envelop him. Bits of debris pelted against him and even from inside his shirt the boy found it hard to breathe. Before there had been shouts and screams, but now there was nothing. Only once had the boy and dog ever heard such silence before; when the Angel had descended down aboard the Flying Dutchman. For one strange wild moment, Ben thought that maybe the Angel had appeared amid the streets of New York. But the idea faded.

The only sound he could hear was his own ragged breathing and that of Ned's beside him. Ben chanced a glance through cracked lids, but saw nothing. It was several seconds before Ben realized that he wasn't seeing anything. He wasn't blind, which was his first thought. There was simply nothing to see. "When will this end?" thought Ben.

"I don't know." Answered Ned. There was no more communication between the two of them, only mutual support.

An immeasurable amount of time passed between the two of them. Eventually Ned shifted slightly and signaled that it was time to move. Ben moved his mouth away from his shirt and instantly began coughing, making his throat sore and his eyes water. "God, I could use some water," He thought. Crawling out from underneath the ambulance, Ben could see nothing that wasn't two feet in front of him, though slowly his vision increased.

Everything was in shades of white and grey. The youth held his hands in front of his eyes and could not see a single patch of skin that wasn't covered. Ned trotted up to him, a white ghost that blended in perfectly with his surroundings. "You look a mess." Commented Ned, after a moment of the two looking at each other.

"You too." Said Ben, looking around. The smoke was shifting, being blown further down the street, letting the pair see more clearly. The buildings around them were clearly damaged, but what drew their attention was a patch of blue sky that hung in the air, just for a moment, before smoke enveloped it. "That was beautiful. For a while there I didn't think I'd ever see that again."

Ned stared up at him sadly. "That was where the other Tower was." Bits of paper floated around them. They began walking, where they didn't really know. Each footstep brought up a cloud of dust that hung in the air before settling.

"Both Towers gone...things will be different now. Our job is going to be a lot harder.

Ned stopped to sniff at some rubble, then shook his head and kept walking. "I'm not sure I completely agree with that statement. Things will be different, but I don't know if that will make our job harder. I think people will come together after this."

"I really hope you're right Ned."

"Course I'm right. It's not our job to change the world Ben, just to make it better."

Ben stopped and kneeled next to his dog. Carefully he wiped some of the ash and grime off his dog's face and smiled. "Come on, let's find some people."

Everything the pair passed was a wall of gray. Towers of debris stood as high as ten feet in some cases. It was a full ten minutes before they found any signs of life, but once spotted, the pair began to see more of it. People were coming out of wrecked buildings and cars. Many of them were in shock, just standing in what was left of the street, oblivious to their surroundings. Others were running from what they thought was away from the wreckage. There was so much of it that it was hard to tell where it started and where it all ended, or if there even was an end.

"Ned…" began Ben, but the Labrador intercepted the thought.

"I know Ben, I've been trying to smell if there's anyone beneath the rubble we've been passing but there's just too much ash. It all smells like smoke. I'm keeping my ears open though."

Suddenly the dog stood still, head cocked slightly and eyes closed. "I definitely hear something. It's faint, but someone is close enough for me to hear them."

"Which direction is it coming from, can you tell?"

Ned nodded once. "It's coming from near where the towers used to be. I should be able to find whoever it is if we can get closer." The Labrador changed directions and started to head towards an area where the rubble was more heavily stacked. "Ugh, this is murder on my paws. Be thankful you have shoes."

Ben could feel the heat radiating from the heaps of metal and concrete, and was thankful that he at least had shoes. "There must be fires burning under some of this stuff."

"I wouldn't doubt it." Ned paused and sniffed the dust laden ground. "God this stuff is bad, but I think I have something. Smells a bit familiar actually."

"I hope it's nobody we know. For more reasons than one."

Ben and Ned stopped walking when they came to a half buried police car. The wreckage in front of them was more than twenty feet tall. "I don't want to try and climb that. I hope whoever we're looking for isn't on the other side."

"Think a bit closer." Said Ned, approaching the car and pawing at a hunk of cement.

If the youth's face could have turned paler, it would have. "You mean their buried under that? It would take a bulldozer to clear this!"

Ned turned to look at Ben, his face white except for the streak of black where the dust had been wiped off. "I think they're under the car. We just have to move a little bit. It won't be too hard."

Ben crouched down tried to peer under the ruined vehicle, but he could see nothing but gray chunks. "It looks like whoever it is had the same idea we had, but was still too close. How do you know they're still alive?"

The Labrador was digging frantically with his front paws, dust flying everywhere and getting into Ben's eyes. "I don't, at the moment. Before I heard some faint shouts, but now I don't hear anything." He paused. "I can't seem to be able to move this one piece; do you think you could crawl under there?"

Getting on hands and knees, Ben crawled into the small hole his dog had created and gripped the piece of concrete with both hands. Slowly he began to work his way backwards, dragging the chunk with him. "Got it." Cried Ben and he sat back, wiping his hands on his jeans before remembering that it was pointless.

"I can see someone!" thought Ned excitedly, "Help me will you?"

"I would if you would move your furry backside." Grunted Ben as he got down again. "Yeah, I see him, give me a moment." It took several minutes of pushing more debris out of the way and pulling the motionless figure backwards, but eventually boy and dog were able to drag the body out into the open.

Though he looked completely different covered in dust and ash, Ben could still tell who it was. "It's Rob, and I think he's breathing." The Eternal checked for a pulse to verify the statement. "Yup, still breathing. We need to get him some help though."

At that moment Rob started coughing violently. His eyes opened and he gazed unsteadily at the two of them. "Water." He croaked.

"Sorry mate, we don't have any on us at the moment. We'll help you get some though. Let's try and stand up first okay?" Ben gripped Rob beneath the arms and tried to haul him up. It took a minute, but Rob eventually managed to stand with some help.

"I think my leg is broken." Gasped Rob as they hobbled back the way the boy and dog had come.

"Ned, go and see if you can't find some people or medics or something. This place has to be swarming with them by now." Aloud, Ben spoke to Rob in a comforting tone, "Don't think about that now, we're getting help now, and you're going to be okay."

Rob snorted. "I'm not in shock; you don't have to treat me like I'm dying."

Ben looked down sheepishly. "Well, if you'd seen the people I was passing before I found you, you understand."

Rob's attitude turned serious. "I don't really remember the tower's falling. I remember seeing all this smoke, and then waking up not being able to move. I would have thought I was dead if not for all the pain my leg was in." The injured medic looked closer at the blond. "You're that kid from earlier right, Ben? I can see you didn't stay at the ambulance."

"Lucky for you I didn't."

"I'm not complaining, I probably would have died if you hadn't found me. But I still think you shouldn't be here."

Ben guided Rob around a particularly nasty section of ruin, and stepped onto an open street, where it was easier to walk. Smoke still hung in the air, making breathing hard. "This is where I need to be, and this is where I'm staying."

They walked on in silence, moving slowly because of Rob's leg. The medic broke the silence. "Did you ever find your dad?"

The Eternal was saved answering by a bark from Ned. The Labrador ran down the street, followed by a pair of men in scrubs. One of them grabbed a walkie-talking and pressed the button, but got nothing but a burst of chatter. "Airwaves are still jammed; we'll have to carry him back, hello? Is that you Rob?"

Ben handed over Rob to the medics and stood aside, looking at Ned.

"Man, we thought we lost you for sure. You said you were headed inside to check things out. A minute later the Tower collapsed."

"Yeah, I never got in thank God. I was just outside when I felt the ground shake. I remember now, I dived under a police car, but couldn't get all the way under. If these two hadn't dug me out…" Rob trailed off, looking for the boy and dog, but they were nowhere to be seen.

Night had fallen before Ben and Ned sat down against a slab of broken concrete to rest. It seemed that every muscle Ben had, and many that he didn't know he had, hurt. One of Ned's paws was cracked, but he ignored it throughout the day, and now sat licking it clean. Between the two of them they had found seven people, six of whom were alive. The seventh they barely got a glimpse of before the job was taken over by someone else.

It had taken hours for the dust to settle, but smoke still rose up from underground fires. Fire trucks constantly sprayed water onto the heated areas, but so far it had done nothing to quiet the blaze. Electric head lamps had been placed all around the surrounding area, giving everything a bright harsh edge to it. Ben sat with one hand on Ned, the other toying with a water bottle someone had given to him earlier.

"This stuff itches worse than fleas." Commented Ned, taking a break from bathing his paw.

"Yeah." Agreed Ben. "What I wouldn't do for a shower right now eh?"

"I thought I saw some people setting up some stalls and tents earlier. We might be able to get a proper rest for a few hours."

"There's just so much to do. I don't think I would be able to fall asleep."

"I think we should try. We can get up at sunrise and start again tomorrow. This mess isn't going anywhere and there are plenty of people still working." This, Ben acknowledged, was true. Hundreds of people had arrived after the dust had settled and now volunteers were working their way through the rubble, trying to find survivors. No one had been found in the last hour, but Ben knew that once group was working to rescue a trapped man on the other side of the disaster zone.

Groaning from stiffness, Ben stood and staggered over in the direction of the work base. It was a swarm of activity, though no one looked at either boy or dog more than a second time. So many people were wandering around with lost looks on their face that no one paid any attention to two more. The pair stepped into a tent that was filled with cots, many of them occupied with sleeping inhabitants.

Sighing tiredly Ben sat down on one of the cots and yanked off his shoes. Dust spewed out of them as he let them drop to the ground. Lying back, he allowed himself a small smile as Ned jumped onto the cot and positioned himself in his usual spot, sprawled across Ben's legs. It seemed like the youth only shut his eyes for a moment before sleep took him to oblivion.

Ben awoke to find that someone had thrown a blanket over him and Ned sometime in the night. His movement woke Ned up and the two of them slid off the cot. It was chilly in the predawn air. After putting on his shoes he and Ned walked out of the tent, which was much fuller than when they had entered last night.

They had not dreamt of the Dutchman, as Ben had been afraid they might, but instead dreamed of the Angel. It hadn't spoken to them, but it didn't need to. Both boy and dog knew what they had to do.

After helping themselves to some bananas from an open crate, the pair set off towards 'Ground Zero', as people were now calling the disaster area. The sky was light gray, and on its way to turning bright yellow. A trodden path led from the tent city to where the two Towers had stood. They passed many people headed towards tents, most of whom had despairing looks on their faces.

At first they walked in silence, keeping their thoughts to themselves, but then they began to share them with each other. "I thought of what you said yesterday about people coming together. You were right. We spend so much time helping people; it's really nice seeing people do it themselves for people they don't know."

Ned glanced up at Ben. "There's something else. Go on."

Ben kicked at a rock and watched as it rolled into a hole. "I keep thinking about everything that happened yesterday. I just keep thinking that I'm going to break down, and stop moving. I feel so numb. Like I'm detached from it all."

"Ben, look around you. Every person we've passed has had that look on his or her face. I'm sure I have that look on my own handsome face. You can look into to someone's eyes and tell that we're all going through the same thing. It's all right. It always has been. There's nothing wrong with you if that's what you're scared about."

The boy looked down at the Labrador, a funny expression on his face. "Y'know I really can't imagine life without you? I mean I remember life without you, but it wasn't very pleasant. There's really no way I'd be here if it wasn't for you."

Ned sniffed, his tail held high. "That's because you'd be drowned off Cape Horn without me."

Ben laughed, the first time it seemed like in forever. "How do I keep forgetting that? Come on, I see a group of people ahead. Let's go see if they need any help."

The pair quickened their step, eager to be of some assistance. Ben was grateful for what Ned had said to him. Somehow, the dog always knew what to say to get through whatever was troubling him. It was why Ned was his best friend. It was why tears finally fell down a grimy face. It was why Ben was finally able to let go.

And there you have it. I have tried to recreate the events as close to their repective timelines and to factual happenings as I could. Even with loads of online data avaliable to me, this story wasn't easy to write.

As always, reviews at appreciated, as long as it is about his story. I'll go back and fix some of the grammar mistakes that I know are in here.