The clone’s head snapped up, and he blinked as he looked for the source of the voice. He jolted up off his cot, standing at attention quickly in the middle of his cell. The door to his cell shifted from a milky sheet to a clear blue shimmer, and a familiar, shadowed figure stood facing him.
“C-Captain Rex.” It was almost a question, an uncertain hitch in Dogma’s voice as he tried to focus his eyes forward instead of on his former commanding officer. He hadn’t seen him since the incident with Krell. “I…what are you doing here, sir?”
Rex inclined his chin, and Dogma could feel the captain’s eyes move over him slowly through the shield. He knew he looked more than worse for wear; he’d lost at least ten pounds since his arrest two weeks ago, and the bags under his eyes had darkened substantially thanks to too many sleepless nights. Nightmares of Krell’s death and the deaths of his brothers in the field played constantly in his head, as if they were a holo recording that was forever stuck in a loop. Sleeping only made it worse.
“How are you holding up, soldier?”
Dogma’s eyes darted to Rex, taken aback by the question before he tried to refocus his eyes straight ahead. He didn’t feel strong enough to look Rex in the eye anymore.
“I’m…I’m fine, sir.”
He could feel Rex’s dubious expression more than he could see it and swallowed thickly, trying to get rid of the burning in his throat. It failed, and his posture faltered as his back began to ache.
Rex let out a small sigh, shifting his weight to one leg and frowning slightly. Dogma’s eyes darted to him again and his chin dipped a fraction of an inch, a feeling of inadequacy and shame welling like ice water in his chest. They both knew his trial was getting closer each day and that it wouldn’t end well even under the best circumstances. Dogma didn’t like thinking about it, but it was inevitable.
“I don’t regret it.”
It took a moment for Dogma to realize that he was the one who had spoken, and he felt an uncomfortable heat rise in his cheeks. He looked at Rex again, shoulders hunching before he forced them down. “I-I don’t,” he repeated in a cracked voice. The burning spread from his throat to his eyes as his throat constricted, and his chin dropped to his chest. His vision began to swim as he stuttered again, “I-I…”
“Dogma.” The captain’s voice was quiet. Not quite comforting, but soft enough that it redoubled Dogma’s feelings of failure. A strangled sob escaped the trooper before he could suppress it and he pressed his lips into a thin white line, his arms flat but shaking against his sides.
Rex shifted a little outside the cell, his expression a blurred shadow to Dogma. The captain spoke again, and Dogma looked away, a shaking hand covering his mouth in a feeble attempt to stifle another sob.
It wasn’t that Klaus didn’t like dogs, he didn’t have anything against them at all really, he considered them on the same level as everything else people domesticated into pets.
They were fine enough on an individual basis provided they in no way interfered with his life.
But what his sister had brought home last week wasn’t a dog.
It was a rat with pretensions of grandeur.
Technically, or at the very least according to the pink and glitter certificate Rebekah claimed had been issued by a breeder, it was a teacup chihuahua.
What the hell was the point of a chihuahua that was even smaller than a regular one?
Had it been bred solely for the purpose of fitting in this season’s small handbags?
Klaus thought so.
It would explain why the damn thing hadn’t been trained.
It had cocked its leg on Freya’s cat, chewed on Elijah’s leather shoes and frequently nipped at Kol’s ankles.
Fortunately, it had enough of a survival instinct to understand that picking a fight with him would not end well and tended to leave him alone.
So he and it ignored each other, until one day when Rebekah had insisted on taking it to the park for the picnic Elijah had planned for the family and promptly lost it.
Looking up from his sketchpad, Klaus had seen that the rest of his siblings had all been thinking the exact same thing,
But Rebekah had burst into tears and they’d all clambered to their feet to hunt the ridiculous thing down.
It shouldn’t be too hard, it had a diamante collar and was wearing a skirt, surely they’d just have to follow the sounds of ribald laughter?
Figuring that the thing would have the instincts of any creature on earth, Klaus headed for the deli on the street corner, glancing up and down the road to make sure there wasn’t any suspicious lumps on the asphalt. He guessed that at sixteen, Rebekah was too old to believe the 'Farm in the country’ bs.
He doesn’t immediately see it when he approaches but he hears the high-pitched yaps that have many a time ruined his concentration and-based on what it was interrupting- his entire morning.
And the reason he can’t see the creature?
Is because it’s being blocked from view by a dog.
An actual dog.
A German Shepherd to be precise.
The noble hound was looking down his long nose at the creature, tilting his head in confusion as it yipped and bared its teeth.
“You have got to be joking,” Klaus snapped as it snarled at the German Shepherd,
“Do you honestly have no survival instincts? Or are you just unaware of how far you’re punching out of your weight division?”
He goes to scoop it up only to nearly have his hand bitten by the stupid thing,
“Alright,” he backs off and leans against the lamppost,
“Fine, be that way, but if that dog decides to eat you, I’m going to cover you with chicken to make it more appetizing for him.”
The German Shepherd isn’t leashed but had been sitting patiently outside the deli before his day had inevitably been ruined and now he ignores the miniscule threat to his life to pad over to Klaus, lifting his head and pressing it against his stomach,
“Hello mate,” Klaus runs his hand through his fur, scratching him behind the ears, “Tell you what, you take that aggressive hamster off my hands and I’ll buy you the biggest sausage that deli has, do we have a deal?”
A feminine throat clearing has Klaus’ head shooting up, imagining the world of grief he’ll be in if Rebekah had overheard him contracting out the rat’s death, or worse, if she’d caught him being friendly with another dog again.
“Why aren’t you ever friendly with Chestnut, Nik?” she’d whined, more than once, “He likes you.”
But the blonde woman standing before him isn’t his sister.
Which is a good thing because she is gorgeous.
Blonde haired, blue eyed, tanned and wearing a summer dress that exposed miles of long legs that he’d very much like to trace from toe to thigh.
Her hands are full of deli bags, weighing her arms down but she’s still got a stunningly beautiful smile on her face,
“Excuse me,” she says sweetly, “But that’s my dog you’re trying to corrupt.”
Klaus’ hand is still scratching the Shepherd under the chin,
“It’s not corruption,” he manages to retort wittily, “I’m just trying to convince him to do a public service.”
“Uh huh,” she weaves over to him, coming to a stop when it growls at her, she turns with a fierce glare and whistles sharply, causing it to stop and sit down suddenly,
“Well, I’m afraid that Rex here is a retired police dog and can’t be corrupted.”
Klaus barely hears her, he’s too busy focusing on the miracle that had just been performed right in front of him,
“How’d you do that?” he asks admiringly, “I thought nothing short of an act of God could get that thing to shut up!”
She frowns and looks back at it, “Maybe if you treated your pet a little kinder…” she begins and he hurries to correct her,
“It’s not mine, my sister bought it home and because my siblings and I are new to the States we live together, biggest collective mistake in history.”
She snorts at this and he’s trying to figure out how to segue into asking her to dinner when she begins trying to reach for her handbag,
“Um…I know the guy who trains police dogs and he also does classes for regular owners…”
Klaus darts around Rex and grabs at the plastic bags sliding out of her left hand, catching them before they fall to the sidewalk and as she thanks him, he can see the marks left by the handles digging into her skin,
“Tell you what,” he offers, “How about I help you and Rex get these bags to your car and you can give me the details then.”
She contemplates him with a piercing gaze and he’s pretty certain she’s picking up on the motives behind his chivalry but instead of telling him to bugger off, she instead gives him a flirtatious smile and tucks a strand of hair behind her ears, “Okay, it’s this way."
He nods, "One second.”
He glances around, sees his sister Freya standing a little distance away, patiently pretending to be on her phone and waves her over so she can feign surprise at having found the dog, unnecessarily tell him that she’ll take him straight back to Rebekah and then hurry off with more speed than strictly necessary.
Klaus keeps up the charm as they cover the short distance to her car,
“I’m Caroline, by the way.” she introduces herself, holding out her hand as unloads her bags into the trunk and straightens up,
“Klaus, charmed sweetheart.” he takes her hand but rather than shakes it, brings it up to his lips and kisses the soft skin.
She colours and shifts slightly, biting her lip and he sees her eyes start to go liquid, “You know,” she begins with only the barest hint of nerves,
“I’m might need help unloading at the other end…would you mind?” His grin is slow but wide, “Not at all.”
The next morning, well afternoon, well early evening if one wanted to get bloody technical about it. Klaus wanders in the front door with a lingering smile on his face as he checks his latest text from Caroline, confirming their date in two days with a promise to let him stay the night if he really 'earned’ it.
Overnight it was then.
Chestnut comes skidding across the ruined hardwood floor, barking furiously at this intrusion and for once he doesn’t consider punting him,
“You know,” he tells him, as he holds up a prime rib steak,
“For all your annoying ways, you do have your uses.”