Summary: Mark would see to it that Sean, 'Professional' Dog-Walker and his own personal nightmare, never came near his front lawn again. Too bad Sean finds out that Mark's bark is far worse than his bite. M/M.

Disclaimer:The Dogs of War part of a phrase written by Shakespeare, so its not mine. I am not affiliated with any brands, companies, etc. mentioned. I make no money off of this and I am but a poor college student, so suing me is really quite pointless! Any resemblance to persons living or dead is merely paranoia on your part.

A/N: If I used this quote in a previous chapter, I apologize, it's been a while.

The Dogs of War

Chapter 12

"If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles."

Sun Tzu

Friday, 19:00 Hours

Mark wandered into his living room to watch TV. Stopping in front of his couch, he looked down hesitantly at the teddy bear perched innocently in the middle the cushions. Pale arm swinging, the stuffed animal was knocked across the room, tumbling to a stop in the opposite corner.

Friday, 19: 22 Hours

He attempted to concentrate on the episode of Law and Order unfolding on his television screen; however, Mark's eyes kept straying to the corner of the room where the bear sat forlornly.

He could feel the sad, glassy-eyed stare of the bear, condemning him for his cruelty.

It was also the one object in the room that was out of place. For peace of mind, he needed all his belongings to be neat and orderly. He couldn't handle the haphazard way the bear lay upon the floor.

Friday, 19:53 Hours

Grumbling, Mark placed the bear neatly in the corner of the sofa before settling back into the cushions on the opposite end.

"I don't like you," Mark told the bear sternly.

Why he didn't just shove the thing- neatly, of course- into the back of his closet and be done with it, he wasn't quite sure.

Sunday, 09:17 Hours

Another yellow post-it note was stuck to the front door when Mark went out to retrieve the morning paper. Mark read through the message twice, frowning slightly.

'Dogs and bears are closely related… Or so I've heard... I think they are at least.'

Crumpling the note up in his fist didn't really give him the satisfaction he'd expected.

Sunday, 09:21 Hours

Mark flattened the note back out on his desk, reading over the loopy-lettered message once again.

He really didn't understand where the Mutt was going with this. He felt ill at ease with the developing situation. When the Mutt said the teddy bear was a 'gift', there had to be a catch, right?

And why was a grown man giving another grown man a stuffed animal? It was just weird. Although, the Mutt himself was an odd person, so perhaps there was really no meaning to this. The Mutt probably always struts around harassing strangers, talking to animals, handing out gifts at random…

If it wasn't meant as a prank, then it had to be some eccentricity of the Mutt; there was no other possibly explanation for why the man was giving him something.

Mark sighed heavily, setting the note in his desk drawer. He pulled up Google and typed in 'bears dogs related'. He was only a little curious, and if the Mutt was wrong, well that just added to Mark's arsenal of insults against the fool.

Tuesday, 18:05 Hours

Mark ripped the tape off another mysterious, paw-printed package. Opening the flaps, he overturned the box onto his kitchen table. A stuffed animal tumbled out onto the table top before a post-it note fluttered down next to it. Plucking up the yellow paper he scanned the message, before glancing down at his latest gift.

The stuffed animal was the same size and color as the teddy bear. However, this stuffed animal had floppy ears and longer fur. It also had, which, unbeknownst to Mark, were special additions, a collar with a name tag that read 'Sean'.

'I thought the bear needed a friend. It's just as cute right? And this puppy won't poop, pee, or chew up your shoes! We share the same name so treat him well!'

Mark snorted softly, shoving the note into his pocket. He stared at his latest gift, trying to decipher the Mutt's intentions.

Another stuffed animal. Was there a reason the stuffed animal had to be a dog, besides the fact the other man was obsessed with the animals? Was this supposed to be an apology for all the dog shit and wilted grass his lawn had been subjected to? Was it supposed to remind him of the Mutt… whose name was supposedly Sean…

Then was he meant to be the bear? He wasn't anything like a bear… Was the Mutt trying to say that he wanted to be friends with Mark?

No, that was ludicrous.

You don't want to be friends with the mutt anyways!

He reached out tentatively towards the stuffed pooch, hand shaking slightly before he patted its head.

Really, there was no reason to be scared of a plush toy. Teddy bears weren't threatening, but that didn't mean he'd want to encounter a real bear. It was the same as with the stuffed puppy. Real puppies look cute, he could grudgingly admit that. Nonetheless, they're saliva and piss factories that grow up into shitting machines with monstrously lethal jaws.

He had the scars marring his ankle to prove it.

Thursday, 3:00 PM

Sean smiled faintly, lounging back against a stack of boxes and staring off into space. He grunted when Alice dropped a roll of clear tape onto his head. It bounced conveniently off his skull and into his lap. She loomed over him, arms crossed.

"This is your stuff, not mine. I said I'd help your lazy ass, not do it for you."

"Right, sorry," Sean grabbed the nearest box and started to tape it shut, grinning wistfully. Alice rolled her eyes, more amused than annoyed.



"That box is empty."

Sean lifted up the corner of flap yet to be taped down and peeked inside.

"Oh, you're right," he responded bemusedly.

"What is the matter with you? I know you're forgetful, lazy, and incredibly naïve, but you're not incompetent."

"I was just thinking about the Rat," Sean responded slowly.

Alice eyes sparkled knowingly, "to the point of distraction. What now?"

"Well, I finally realized something."

"Hmm," Alice bit her lip to keep from saying something along the lines of 'you finally realized that you have a ginormous crush on him'.

"I think… at least, it seems upon reflection-"

"You reflected?" Alice asked incredulously. She'd never considered Sean as one for deep introspection or as one with enough brain-functioning to ponder past events… He seemed more inclined to act instinctively without much thought.

"Yes… I think that he might be scared of dogs…" Sean scratched his head before mumbling under his breath so that Alice could barely hear, "or me… or anything that breathes."

"Okaaay, so you're acting high as fuck because of that?"

"No… I'm not happy about it. Being afraid of such lovely, affectionate creatures is just terribly tragic! But- If his hatred of dogs actually stems from his fear of them, then there's a chance to cure his fear, and thus his hatred towards them. This is just one small step in the campaign to end animal abuse. Reduce hatred to reduce the possibility of abuse-"

"What about animal hoarders? Technically, they love animals…"

"One man can only do so much. That is a whole other can of worms. Those people need a proper psychologist…"

Alice sighed. Perhaps she had read the situation wrong. Maybe Sean's strange treatment of the man he affectionately named 'the Rat' really only stemmed from his insanely high intolerance for the mistreatment of animals.

"I should've known that you hounding the poor guy-"

"Poor guy? That Rat? Even if the rat is really a mouse… he doesn't need pity. The bastard needs shock treatment to get that stick out of his ass-"

"-had to do with dogs all along-"

"-no, too harsh… I keep forgetting that the rat is really a mouse. I can't let him get me agitated. Mice are delicate… while shocking the rat is fun, if I can't even get within two feet of him-"

"So!" Alice interrupted Sean's incomprehensible musings, fearing that he could have continued muttering aloud to himself for the rest of the day had he been allowed, "your 'campaign' is proceeding well, then?"

"Huh?" Sean blinked.

"The 'cure-the-fear, cure-the-abuse' campaign."

"Oh right! Well, I don't know. I just came to this realization a few days ago," Sean grinned optimistically.

"For curiosity's sake, how do you plan to cure his alleged fear of canines?"

"Well, I haven't planned out everything. The only thing I've done so far is send him a couple stuffed animals."

Alice fumbled the box she was carrying.

"This is not as selflessly philanthropic as it sounds, is it?"

"Well, no… I mean, it's fun to mess with the guy. I can just picture the look on his face when he opens the box," Sean sighed. "Ridiculously cute," he mumbled.

Yeah, Alice decided, this was definitely just a ginormous crush.

A/N: It's been awhile, sorry. My brain was too fried for writing for a while and then I accidentally spilt some soda on my computer and the H, C, V, and B keys quite working. Man, does the English language use H a hella lot. I never considered V as a highly used consonant, but when you need to copy and paste the letter whenever you need it, it's prevalence become more obvious. Anywhosers, keys miraculously started working again… who the hell knows why. it seemed like a permanent damage type of situation and I didn't have the heart to tell my parents I needed a new keyboard… A Holiday Miracle?

Hope everyone had a happy holiday and could tolerate their relatives. Happy new year as well…

I am not pleased with this chapter, but we must push forward. Gotta get this finished before the end of the world, afterall. Hehe.

New A/N: Well, shit, about half a year later. Working two jobs, starting med school (ridiculous amount of studying), moving in with the boyfriend. Totally didn't have time for this. Then I went to work on this shit again… Lo and behold I have a whole chapter written. I just needed to find an appropriate war quote. Blah.

Shit, review responses, almost forgot…

okay! I hope I responded to everyone I needed to. Sorry if it I didn't. Thank you so much for reading this! (New A/N: these responses do not include those who reviewed at some point after January (as an estimate), I'll respond to all those at some point in the future.)

Amuxchan: sorry, no Christmas special… and as long as it is virtual cabbage, i think I can withstand it should the throwing of it need to occur…

Lovely-james: it is very pukingly awwwww.

Prostock69: wow, wow. Thank you for reviewing like every chapter and all in one go! I thought about a puppy in the box at first… but then thinking about how mark would probably abandon it, I thought I'd put a stuffed puppy, but then… I decided mark needed baby steps up to even a stuffed puppy, hence the teddy and now the fake puppy.

Oscillatingfan: I'm glad it makes you smile! And yeah everyone is doing *duh* forehead slaps around them. although, when 3/4 of those people are fujoshi (see yaoi pairings everywhere) it is hard to know whether it is a proper assessment.

Quicksilversand: haha, he is a bit mean, but so is sean in his own way. Don't worry… mark will loosen up. In fact, he is already starting to in tiny, incredibly difficult to discern increments. I like characters that 'mature' when they fall in love, even if the characters themselves see it as 'falling apart'. So sean will become less of an ignorant doormat and mark will become less of an uptight neatfreak.

Miromantic: me too! I always like the slow build-up to action… although the chase is fun as well, so long as it's the cat & mouse variety.

Kinda. Sorta. Insane.: wow wow wow. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your praise of my writing. It makes me happy.

No-ones-puppet: yeah, sean is stepping up the game and mark is definitely clueless as hell. Haha. He know's something is up, but he just can't tell what it is yet. He's slowly getting there. But sean is kinda clueless in his own right, but he at least is a bit more honest with his feelings.