Title: The Unsung Heroes
Fandom: Sylum Universe: Person of Interest
Characters/Pairings: John Reese, Harold Finch, Bear, Thomas Efford, Original Characters
Summary: March 13th – National K-9 Veterans Day
Author’s Note: From military.com
National K9 Veterans Day, March 13, is a day set aside to honor commemorate the service and sacrifices of American military and working dogs throughout history.
It was on March 13, 1942, that the Army began training for its new War Dog Program, also known as the “K-9 Corps,” according to American Humane, marking the first time that dogs were officially a part of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The rest, as they say, is history. Officially a part of the service of not, the dogs of war span centuries and include such heroes as Sgt. Stubby, the original war dog, Chips, the most decorated dog in World War II and Lex, who retired with his fallen owners family and Cairo, the Navy SEAL working dog on the bin Laden raid.
Today’s military dogs are valued as important members of their military units and even have their own retirement ceremonies, awards and medals, and memorial services.
~ Sylum Manor ~
Sitting on the veranda outside their rooms, enjoying the morning peace of the Manor, a slow smile spread across the handsome face of John Reese. He hid the smile behind his coffee cup as it wouldn’t do to upset the delicate feelings of his companion.
“It’s your own fault.” John reminded the Belgian Malinois. “If you didn’t insist on chewing the covers off books, you could be with Harold. Nicolaus would be most upset if you chewed any of the books in his office.” Bear rolled his eyes at his Alpha as he huffed out his indignation at the two black and tan lumps pressed against his sides. “I don’t know who let Merry and Pippin out of Antonio’s suite, but I’m sure he will be VERY appreciative of you looking after the little darlings.”
“Indeed.” Thomas stepped out onto the veranda. “It was quite naughty of them to slip out when the door of the suite was opened by the housekeeping staff.” He wagged his finger at the miniature Dachshunds, who rolled on their backs and wagged their tails at the Chief of Staff. Sitting a tray on the table, he called the small dogs to him. “Time to get back to your rooms before Antonio gets in a hover.” He lightly scolded the dogs who paid him absolutely no mind as they trotted off toward the suite. “A little something for Bear’s patience.” Thomas grinned as John reached for the doggie Danish laying on the tray.
“Told you there’d be a reward.” Bear picked the Danish delicately from his hand.
“A box arrived for by special courier from General O’Neill and your uniform has arrived from the dry cleaners.”
“Thank you, Thomas.”
“Everything’s in place, we just need to get Harold on the plane.” John picked up his coffee cup as Bear enjoyed his Danish.
~ • ~ • ~
Something bumping his knee drew Harold’s attention from what he was reading on his computer screen.
“What …” He looked down to see Bear sitting by his chair holding a leash in his mouth. “I supposed John put you up to this.” He sounded annoyed until he looked at the time. “Very well. I suppose I should get up and walk a bit.”
Deciding a pot of tea would be a good way to finish his afternoon constitutional with Bear, Harold was surprised to see John placing suitcases, garment bags, and Bear’s bed in the back of a black SUV.
“Mr. Reese has something happened that requires we leave. I am not quite finished …”
“Nothing has happened, Mr. Finch, but we have an appointment in San Antonio on the 13th.”
“That’s the day after tomorrow. I don’t recall anything on the calendar …”
“It’s a day for Bear and his brother and sisters in arms.” John unclipped his leash then picked up something from the back of the SUV and slipped it over Bear’s head.
Harold blinked owlishly as Bear sat in front of him wearing a military harness that contained his name, rank, unit, his campaign ribbon, along with his Army retired, and American flag patches. He looked back and forth between his Mate and their dog.
“O’Neill got one of his minions to do me a favor.” He handed Harold a document pouch. “Bear’s official adoption papers to one Mr. Harold Finch, and passes for entry to Lackland Air Force Base Military Working Dog Teams National Monument for National K-9 Veterans Day. Now get in the car. We’re on a private flight to San Antonio, and a modest room at the Omni. We’ll be returning on the 14th.” Harold was so flummoxed he climbed in the passenger seat while John closed the back and put Bear in the backseat.
~ • ~ • ~
John wore a self-satisfied smirk right up until he was ordering room service for him and Harold. His Mate had remained off balance until John seated him at the table he’d moved onto the balcony so they could eat dinner while looking out over the Riverwalk. As Harold regained his mental balance, he began to quiz him about their plans for the next day.
Wanting to distract Harold, after Bear’s last walk of the evening, John began to seduce his Mate until Harold’s mind was so full of John and what he was doing that he gave in and let himself be carried away.
~ • ~ • ~
It was such a beautiful spring day, Harold chose a summer weight blue pinstripe suit. “What do you think, Bear? Is this adequate for what Mr. Reese has planned for the day?” The Malinois pushed his head into Harold’s hand for scritches, which he was happy to give.
The scritches were forgotten when John stepped out of the walk-in closet in his Army uniform. Bear grabbed his harness off the table and dropped it at John’s feet then sat patiently waiting for John to put on his ‘uniform’.
They made it to the gate at Lackland Air Force Base in good time. The passes O’Neill provided got them through the gate with little fuss. At the memorial, John encouraged Harold to sit on one of the marble benches with Bear sitting by his side while John stood directly behind. Harold spent a few minutes reading the history of the Military Working Dogs on the granite memorial before his attention was caught by the honor guard along with an officer carrying a wreath of flowers.
He felt John cup his elbow to give him the support he needed to stand as they watched the small remembrance ceremony. Harold noticed several other people and their dogs had arrived while he was distracted reading the memorial wall. The veterans acknowledged each other as John and Harold headed back to the rental car.
Both men were quiet on the drive back to the hotel. Not wanting to be cooped up in the room, but not wanting to leave Bear behind, they found a nice sidewalk café for dinner where Bear could lay under the table. Harold talked about what was in Bear’s military record, and John talked about the dog handler he’d befriended while stationed in the Middle East, and how he’d taught John to handle his dog in case something happened to him on a mission.
Laying in bed with Harold resting against his side listening to the river outside their window, John was a little surprised when Harold broke the quiet.
“I never did thank you for giving me Bear after you stole him from that white supremacist.”
“You’re welcome, Harold. You make a good pair. You spoil him, and he gets you from behind your computer.”
“I’m glad we seem to be past the book chewing stage.”
“It was probably a bit of PTSD.”
Harold gave a snort of disbelief. “I was doing some research …” John smiled. So many of their conversations started out this way. “The closest War Dog Memorial to New York is New Jersey or Connecticut.”
“Sounds like something the city might need.” John kissed the top of his head.
~ Finis ~