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Confessor


Everyone called him Edward.


He liked it; Edward was a good name, strong and dignified, even if he himself wasn’t, at 
times. HeyRose was a sweet woman, and very much in tune with him. She fed him 
regularly and well; she knew all the positive strokes he liked, and she was the one who 
figured out his Gift simply because she paid attention to him.


He’d had it since he was very small, and it was both a blessing and a curse, just as 
these things usually were. The Gift had taken him to GrandpaMilo, and he’d kept vigil 
right up until the old man’s breathing stopped. It had taken him to Phoebe before she 
even knew about the baby. The Gift had been the guide from one house after another 
until poor sickly KateHon had died, and the relatives in their black suits and 
preoccupied mourning had shipped him off because none of them wanted to be 
bothered with him.


Edward didn’t mind. He knew he’d be chosen because the Gift had that charm to it. 
People looking at him sensed it there. They always smiled at him, even though he 
wasn’t the cutest, or fanciest. And when HeyRose grinned at him through the bars; that 
was when Edward sighed happily, knowing he was moving on.


Following his Gift.


He followed HeyRose into the hospital, wishing she’d let him take off his jacket. The 
thing never really fit right, even though she fussed with it to try and make it comfortable. Edward was too big for it, but it was the only one available, and he understood he had 
to be Dressed for this, even if he didn’t like it much. Lots of people told him he looked 
good in green; he wished he could figure that out. Green was one of those things that 
Edward didn’t get, along with Vacation and Booze. None of those made sense, and 
he’d long ago stopped trying to understand things that puzzled him.


The Gift didn’t puzzle him. It took so many shapes and forms; sometimes it was a smell 
a tiny bit out of tune with the rest; sometimes a little sound right on the edge of his 
hearing. And sometimes his Gift was in front of his eyes, a brighty all around the person making them gleam like sunshined water. Those always left him feeling shivers down 
his spine because they could go either way. The brightys were the Very Goods or the 
Very Bads.


If it was a Very Good, Edward would try to reassure the person, letting them know that everything was on the mend. That part was fun, especially with the Littles. They 
seemed to pick up on his communication so much better than Biggers everytime. 
Making a Very Good see their own light was a lovely way to visit.


If it was a Very Bad, Edward tried to share that too, as gently as he could. Those hurt 
him. Very Bads usually knew deep inside themselves that they weren’t going to get 
better, and they never blamed Edward. He’d fight to stay with them, moving close, as if 
to draw the pain away. Sometimes he thought he could, a little. And every now and 
then, as with GrandpaMilo, Edward was there when the Very Bad light went out.


Those were the times that he needed to howl a bit, and HeyRose understood that.


He looked up as the glass double doors of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital 
closed behind them, and HeyRose smiled down at him.


Okay, Edward, it’s showtime.”



*** *** ***


The Little was nearly asleep; Edward listened to her breathing and waited for it to 
lengthen out. She was a good one, giggly and not afraid of him. That helped. Her 
hands were warm, but strong, and she’d laughed enough to tire herself out as he 
played fetch with her. Now she was huddled on the bed, her skinny chest rising and 
falling in time with the monitors around her. Edward sighed.


HeyRose was having the dark hot drink with the Wilson over in the nurse’s station. They 
were talking about the Little in happy terms, and Edward was glad the news was good. Remission was a good word, and he liked how it made people smile. Edward lifted his 
head from the bed and looked over at the station. Rose could see him out of the corner 
of his eye, and just as always she knew what he was going to do.


Cruise.


Technically he wasn’t supposed to. He knew that. HeyRose knew that. By law Edward 
could only go with HeyRose to something called Designated. But HeyRose and Edward 
knew better, and so they had this little system going—she’d distract, and he’d be free to 
mosey on out a while and visit . . . . whomever. Edward suspected that the Wilson had 
caught onto the arrangement, but he never got mad about it. Sometimes he even 
seemed to help HeyRose keep busy, and Edward liked him even more for it. The Wilson understood.


Edward picked up his ball and quietly trotted out of the room, moving just right. Too 
fast, and people looked at you. Too slow and they tried to catch you. But if you looked 
like you knew where you were going, most people left you alone. He kept close to the 
wall, and went down the stairs, keeping out of the way of visitors moving on them. Once 
he reached the bottom, Edward blinked, and let the Gift come to him.


Two people were Hurting. One a new Hurt, one a very old Hurt and both of them were 
radiating along the same hallway. Edward paused a moment, considering what to do. 
The new Hurt was closer, but the very old one was stronger, and mixed in with it lay the 
scent of anger. Following that, Edward began trotting down the hallway cautiously. He 
passed the room that held the new, and looked at it as if promising to come back, then 
moved on along the glass walls.


Finally he reached the room where the very old Hurt was. The door was propped open, 
and he slunk in, keeping his profile low as he looked around. No one was here except a 
man hanging against a whiteboard, his eyes closed, his grip tight and unhappy. Edward 
came forward and carefully bent down, picking up the fallen cane. It was awkward for 
him since he had to drop his ball to do it, and the cane was very long, but he managed 
and took a step closer to the man.


The man opened his eyes and stared. Edward stared back, feeling the old Hurt 
radiating thickly through his leg. Although it wasn’t a Very Bad, it was definitely one that 
would never Remission.


Ever.


Apologetically Edward gave a tentative wag of his tail. The man kept looking at him.


What are YOU staring at?” came the mutter. Edward chuffed a little around the cane, 
well aware that the Hurt was doing the speaking. He sat down and lifted his chin, 
holding the cane higher so the man could reach for it, and eventually he did, fingers 
brushing Edward’s whiskers.


He planted it down and shifted from the whiteboard. “I’m not going to thank you. You’re 
a dog.”


Edward wagged his tail politely. He understood the vocal tone far better than the Cane 
man did himself, and watched as the old hurt faded for a few moments. The Cane man 
limped to the table and dropped into a chair, still watching him. Edward watched back, 
waiting. Finally the man seemed to notice the ball on the floor.


I think you dropped something too,” he pointed out in a low voice. Edward pricked up 
his ears and circled around, scooping up his ball in a lovely economical gesture before 
sitting down again. The Cane man thrust out his jaw and looked preoccupied, but 
Edward knew better than to move. He’d been around people long enough to sense 
these moments, which often were the little whisker tickle before important things were 
said. He cocked his head.


The Cane man pursed his mouth, and let out a long sigh; some of the Hurt went out 
with it. “Nice jacket. It’s too small, but I suppose they make you wear it, right?”


Edward gave a snuffle of agreement. This was good; the Cane man was talking now, 
not just staring. The Cane man wiped a hand over his mouth, as if trying to suppress a 
laugh. He spoke again, his voice somewhat resigned.


Look, I’d really hate to keep you from your appointed rounds, Rover, but I’ve got goofing 
off to get to. I’ve already managed to seriously piss my lady boss off and it’s not even 
eleven in the morning, so you can just take your tennis ball and retrieve yourself back to whatever bald-headed cancer kid you were visiting, all right?”


Edward waited a moment longer, until the Cane man grabbed the thick journal on the 
table and began to thumb through it, studiously ignoring him. Slowly, moving a few 
inches at a time Edward came forward and ever so gently stretched out his face, letting 
his chin slide over the place on the man’s leg where the Hurt ached. The thigh was tight 
and hot; Edward felt the pain throbbing hard there, and he blinked, trying to stay very 
still.


This was the moment—the Gift had brought him here, but whether he’d be allowed to 
help . . . Edward closed his eyes and let his jaw rest on the Cane man’s thigh.


For a long, long time the Cane man pretended he wasn’t there, but Edward could hear 
him mumbling up beyond the underside of the table. The words meant little—it was all 
in the tone, which was low, tight and unhappy, a long raspy litany of things that leaked 
out like an infection slowly draining. Words like these that meant feelings, and while 
most of them centered on the leg Hurt, some came from a wounded place in the Cane 
man’s chest too. Edward sensed there were scars in there as well, aches that the Cane 
man felt and couldn’t drug away.


. . . For all the damn good it does me, but someone HAD to say it before she made a 
fool of herself by ending up in bed with some money-grubbing boy toy. Hell, if all she 
wanted was that, I’d . . . “ Edward listened, feeling the Cane man stiffen, as if some 
concept had just dawned on him.


Suddenly the sound of paper and the plastic scratching of a pen came from above, and 
as the Cane man wrote, Edward felt a surge of hopeless longing in the man, unspoken 
but almost fierce, hidden deep within frustration. Carefully Edward wagged his tail in a 
show of support, aware that the Cane man had stopped paying attention to him as he continued to write furiously. After several long minutes, the Cane man gave a sigh and dropped the pen down on the tabletop with a little ‘clink’; Edward waited until the Cane 
man shifted and one hand came down to pet him, finally.


There. Purged. What I SHOULD have said, along with my reasoning and a half-assed 
sort of apology to boot. Just the sort of note she’ll think Wilson goaded me into writing. 
Now all I need to add is the truth—“ Edward listened to him grab the pen again— “That 
she’s probably the only thing keeping me out of rehab, jail, or marriage.”


After the Cane man finished the added notation, Edward moved. With graceful instinct, 
he pulled away from the Cane man’s thigh and leaped up, paws on the table. A quick 
nip, and the paper was in his teeth; Edward twisted and dashed for the glass door, 
aware of the Cane man yelling at him as he took off.


He had to find the new Hurt.


Down the hall Edward galloped, moving swiftly weaving past startled people in the way 
and almost skidding past the door, scratching at it frantically. He was aware that the 
Cane man was alarmed and angry, but it would take a while for him to follow. The door opened, and Edward slithered in, past legs in stockings, running towards the desk at 
the far end of the room.


Edward paused, trying to let the Gift sort it out. There! The person at the door, looking 
at him with surprise—ohhh! the Good Hands woman. His tail wagged madly and he 
trotted up to her, warm happiness running through him.


The new Hurt was here. Hers. Of course.


She bent down, and petted him on long sweet strokes, her voice lovely and husky. 
“Edward? Did you slip away from Rose again? Listen buddy, I appreciate what you do 
for my patients, I do, but you can’t just go running around the hospital on your own. 
There are laws—“ she murmured, her words stern, but oh the sweet tone took all the 
sting out, and Edward let the bliss of her Good Hands stroke him all along his back and 
chest. “And wonderful as you are, you need to stick with Rose. Let’s go call her.”


Edward whined, and lifted his muzzle; Good Hands woman took the paper from in with amusement. “What, is this your note, excusing you?”


He sat down, blocking her way back to the phone, waiting for her to look at the paper. 
Good Hands woman glanced at it briefly, then re-focused on it, her brows drawing 
together sharply. Edward felt the flare of the new Hurt rising in her, sharp and painful as 
her glance darted over the words on the paper. “That asshole . . . “ she murmured in a 
choked voice. “God, does he think he can get away with this . . . “


She read on, and Edward shifted closer, feeling the Hurt dissolve a little. Just a little, 
around the edges, but it was a start, and that was good. He wagged his tail. Good 
Hands woman glanced from the paper down to him, her expression perplexed.


Okay, it’s his handwriting—I’ve seen it a hundred times so I know this is genuine, but I 
don’t understand how you—“


Hey!” came the sharp interjection. Edward watched as Cane man came lurching into 
the office, his attention focused on him. He whined a little. Good Hands woman stepped 
in front of him, and Edward felt the odd swirl of the two Hurts mingling now, the edges 
of their auras overlapping. Cane man was trying to glare at him.


Your dog stole my personal property!”


He’s not my dog, and for the record, this note is addressed to me so that makes it MY property!”


No it’s not! That four-legged beast jacked my exercise in reasoning and I want it back!”


Well fat chance, you’re not getting it back, House!”


I’m warning you that I’m perfectly capable of blocking the door with my body and 
holding you hostage until you hand it over, Cuddy. You may be quick but I’ve got the 
only exit covered.”


Edward pricked up his ears; Cane man’s voice was low and tried to sound menacing 
but there was a note of embarrassed desperation in it. He wondered if Good Hands 
woman could hear it.


Is that so? Well I can just pick up the phone and call security. Better yet, I can walk 
right past you with impunity because your sorry ass is SO on the line as it IS. I don’t 
care if you’ve laid this out according to your idea of logic, it’s wrong.”


Cane man looked more than exasperated now, and Edward could smell a rise in 
hormones from both of them. Cane man stepped closer. “It’s NOT wrong. You’re too 
good to be using an online dating service, that’s all. If there ever was a scenario where 
my maxim applies, DocMixer.com is living proof.”


That everybody lies? Well of COURSE they do! But the trick is to figure out by how 
much and what about. Do you really think that even I tell the truth a hundred percent of 
the time, Greg? That I’d let my profile admit I’m single but not available because when 
I’m not running a hospital I’m trying to keep my chief of Diagnostic Medicine out of jail?”


Edward felt her hormones rising too, and the odd thing was that the Hurts were 
changing into something else, something just as painful but not unbearable. His tail 
wagged against his will.


Cuddy, listen to me—you’re taking a hell of a risk. Aside from the fact that you’ve got a 
ninety nine percent chance of meeting nothing but losers, criminals and psychos online, 
you’re wasting time that could be spent actually finding someone compatible. When I’m 
miserable nobody gives a shit—it’s my normal frame of reference. But when YOU’RE 
miserable everyone here suffers.”


I’m not miserable!”


Fine, that explains why I made you cry.”


You didn’t make me cry.”


Duh of course not—you had a spontaneous particles fly in both eyes right when I was 
yelling at you about setting up a date with that pond scum from St. Catherines!”


Edward watched them falter, and he let his Gift guide him. Gently, he shoved his cold 
nose right in the ticklish little back of Good Hands woman’s left knee. She jumped 
forward, just as Edward knew she would, and slammed into Cane man, who caught her 
with his free arm.


Cuddy—“


Let me go!”


Not until you agree I’m right.”


Ha! That could take YEARS!” Good Hands woman snarled.


I’ll wait.”


Edward could hear how hard Cane man was breathing; how his heartbeat raced under 
his shirt. He and Good Hands woman were very close now, Hurts melding together into 
a new warm brighty around them both, glowing and twinkling. He wondered if they saw 
it too.


Gah! Listen up because I’m only going to say this once, Cuddy. You’re smart and 
beautiful and sexy and so far above the average human male’s capacity for appreciation 
that it might take the next evolutionary leap for anyone to qualify to date you, okay? 
That being said, just--stop tossing your pearl choker before electronic 
swineMmmmmm . . . . “


Edward watched Good Hands woman cut him off with a kiss.


His tail wagged furiously as he sat watching them both with doggish intensity, his ears 
pricking up at the little moans and slurps and maddening shifts of cloth as Cane man 
and Good Hands woman kept kissing. Edward was no judge of people ways, but he understood tone, and there were lots of very promising growls and heavy breathing 
going on. The brighty flared dazzlingly warm around Cane man and Good Hands 
woman; Edward slunk around them and nosed the door open just enough to slip 
through before it closed behind him again.


He went back to fetch his ball, and carefully trotted down the hall until he spotted 
HeyRose and the Wilson coming his way. Edward bounded over, dropping it into 
Wilson’s out-held hand.


So . . . finished whatever mysterious mission you needed to do today, Edward?” the 
Wilson asked him gently, tousling his long ears.


Edward wagged his tail.


end

 



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