Parting

Disclaimer: I don't own G.I. Joe. They belong to Hasbro. I am merely taking them for a short spin.

The waiting room was virtually empty, save for the lone man waiting impatiently. Stanley Perlmutter glanced nervously around the room, then at his watch. What was taking so long? The too-clean antiseptic smell of the place wasn't helping either. It only served to agitate him more, to remind him he wanted to be anywhere else.

The woman at the desk smiled sympathetically when Stanley met her gaze. He looked down at the floor. Sympathy and pity were the last thing he needed. He only wanted to talk to someone.

He finally got his wish when the doctor came looking for him.

Stanley stood up.

"Mr. Perlmutter, I'm Dr. Edmond. Would you come with me please? There's something we need to discuss."

Stanley followed the doctor down the hall to his office. He sat down and waited for an explanation. Dr. Edmond opened a file and looked through it. The vet settled back in his chair, steeling himself for the news he had to deliver.

"How's he doing, doc?" Stanley asked, wanting to stave off the inevitable.

"He's as comfortable as we can make him," Dr. Edmond answered. "You're lucky you brought him in when you did. We took some x-rays, ran some tests. I need to be completely honest with you Mr. Perlmutter. The outlook isn't good. The growth in his chest has gotten bigger. It's starting to affect his heart and lungs. We've done everything we could over the past few months, given him a little more time."

Stanley closed his eyes. He knew what was coming next and leveled his gaze on the vet. "So now you want me to end the life of the best friend I've ever had," he said.

"You could take him home," the vet said. "Or you can choose euthanasia. It's up to you. I know this isn't an easy decision to make."

Stanley nodded. "Can I see him?" he finally asked.

A few minutes later, he was in the back of the clinic kneeling on the floor with the Rottweiler that had been his companion through thick and thin for almost 15 years. Junkyard was lying on a blanket, white tape holding an IV drip in place on one of his two massive forepaws.

Dr. Edmond watched as the man's whole demeanor changed when he sat down with the dog.

"How you doing boy?" Stanley asked, gently ruffling the dog's ears, taking a good look at him. Junk wasn't as heavy as he used to be, as the illness had caused him to drop some weight. He had slowed down with age and unlike some dogs, his eyes hadn't dimmed with cataracts. But he was dying.

The dog sidled closer to his master, laying his massive head in Stanley's lap. Stanley wrapped his arms around the dog's neck. "We've been through some wild times, eh boy?" he said. "But I never thought it would end like this. I know I've been hard on you, but you stuck by me no matter what. No one's ever done that for me."

Stanley looked up at the vet and nodded. It was time.

Back in the office after it was over, Dr. Edmond placed a hand on Stanley's shoulder. "I want you to know you did the right thing. You gave him mercy. That's all he could've asked for in the end."

Stanley only nodded. In the end, there had been nothing else to consider. Nothing else at all.