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FIC: As Told by Icon

This is a Jason and Chase fic.  This is in honor of Icon, genius guide dog, 
and the person he guides.  Also, a huge thank you to Natasha for beta'ing this for me.

Title: As Told by Icon
Characters: Jason/Chase, introducing Icon
Series: Navigating the World and Relationships
Implement: hand,  paddle

Today was the day.  I was born for this; I had trained all my life for  this, and now was the chance to fulfill my destiny.  I had heard the  trainers talking; my man was scheduled to come today.  This wasn't a guaranteed match, but the trainers knew.  They almost never got it wrong.  
I perked my ears toward the door as I heard it open.

"Come meet Icon.  He's a pretty fast paced guy.  He'll be able to keep up with you."

I heard my name and what the trainer was saying.  I stood up still with my ears perked so I could hear them better.

"This was a tough decision.  I lost Ginger over five years ago.  I didn't think I would want another guide; the heart ache was too much.  However, time has a way of healing those wounds or at least dulling the pain. I'm ready now."

I stilled my body from trembling.  I was so excited that this could be the one. I wondered if I'd heard right because there was an emphasis on the word "I'm".  I stopped wondering as the man came into sight. 

He was big, tall, and broad shouldered.  He had a bit of extra flesh around the middle, but I knew I would work that off.  He seemed to be around five in dog years.  I stood straight, my ears still perked and my tail up in happy greetings.

"Jason, this is Icon. After reviewing your application and our interview, I think Icon is a good match for you."

After the trainer opened the door to my pen, I walked out and sniffed at his pants.  He smelled nice, a little nervous but so was I. He had the smell of another man on him, and I knew he had a mate.  After our first week together, I would get to meet this man's mate. I wanted to make the 
best impression I could.

After I sniffed around Jason, I nuzzled his hand so that he could pet me. Jason took my hint and stroked over my head and down my back.  He had a firm hand with some calluses on it, probably from holding a cane so much.  This meant to me that he traveled a lot, so I could get my exercise while I helped him navigate.  I felt instinctively that this was my match.  I thought Jason agreed as he crouched down to my eye level and scratched behind my ears.

"Hi, Icon, I'm Jason. How'd you like to come and be part of my family?"

I gave a little whine deep in my throat, letting Jason know that I agreed with him.

"I agree. I think Icon and I are going to be a team," Jason said.

The handler hooked up my work harness, and we walked to the door.  I stared straight ahead; I didn't look at the other dogs. I knew they too would be getting new people. That was the start of a new session.  My toe nails clipped on the tile floor as we walked along the wide corridor to 
the door that led us out.  I kept good pace with the handler, just a little in front, but I paid close attention to his signals that radiated down from the harness.

Once we got in the small neat apartment, I sat down.  I wanted to show how well I'd been trained.  After the trainer removed my harness, Jason and he wandered around the apartment.  I had been here before; I'd seen the small kitchen, the living room that was barely bigger than my kennel, and the sparsely furnished bedroom. I gave my man time to wander around with his cane, locating where everything was placed.  I watched him as he moved around.  He had good cane skills, which I knew was a requirement. He walked with such confidence; he had a good stance, and he didn't slouch. The first week we got to know each other, we walked around the 
apartment, the hallways, and went to a few classes. 

I could tell that Jason had a guide before, the sureness of his hands, and the boldness of his step. I felt the confidence he had in me.  I'd been trained with hesitant people as well as experienced people; I could feel the difference.  I was young, healthy, and a good size; I needed someone like Jason, who didn't walk slowly and didn't confuse me with hesitancy.

The weekend came and I was excited to meet Jason's mate.  Jason talked to me about him.  Told me his name was Chase.  Jason said that Chase was a little unsure and to give him time to get use to me.  I knew I could do that. I wanted Jason's mate to like me. I'd heard stories where a mate didn't get along with a guide.  The guide came back to the training facility to hopefully match with a new person.  Those guides always seemed so sad, worried that they had done something wrong.  I didn't want to go through that, so I listened to Jason and let Chase come to me.

But that didn't happen that first weekend.  When Chase came, he was stiff and wouldn't let me come near him.  He ignored me, but I understood.  He had been without his mate for a whole week.

I got a good look at him.  He was tall and thin.  He was younger than Jason, only about four years old.  He kept himself wrapped around Jason almost the entire weekend.  Chase seemed to intentionally bump into me when Jason was holding the harness.  It didn't matter which side of Jason I was on because Chase wanted to hold the hand that Jason was using for me. Chase reminded me of some of the older puppies, always wanting the attention on him.

"No, Chase, I'm not leaving Icon. We need to use these weekends to learn how to get along. Icon is going to be part of our family now.  We've talked about this," Jason said.

"Damn it!"

The floor shook when Chase stamped his foot.  I didn't startle. I felt Chase's tension and knew that he would act out.  Again, I was reminded of those puppies snapping and lunging.

"I wanted some time with just you!  I'll be your guide.  You showed me years ago how to take you sighted guide.  You don't need a stupid dog," Chase shouted at Jason. Then Chase gave a little yelp.

I wasn't stupid, I knew that hand that Jason smacked down on Chase where his tail should be wasn't punishment.  That was Jason's way of getting Chase's attention.  Also, to maybe get Chase to understand he was acting inappropriately.  I heard a different tone in Jason's voice, one that made me want to pay very close attention and obey anything he might tell me to do.  I hoped Chase obeyed that tone too.

"We've talked about this, Chase. I need a guide dog. I had one before we met. I'm more mobile with a guide dog. You cannot take me sighted guide everywhere.  I don't want that and neither do you. I told you how these weekends would be. This is the time we can get help from the trainers; once we're home it's just the three of us. Reed can help with the O&M, but this is the time for us to bond.  We talked this through, I thought you were on board with this," Jason's voice gentled at the end.

"I thought I was too. But…"

I could hear the uncertainty in Chase's voice.  I could also smell his fear. I wondered about that. I was the one that should've been afraid.  If Chase and I didn't bond, then I wouldn't be matched with Jason.

"What if you decide you don't need me?  What if you only need the dog?"

I saw where Chase's fear was coming from.  Silly man, didn't he realize they were mated?  Even then, I could tell that Jason needed Chase. And Chase called me stupid!

"I'll always need you, Chase. And there will be times I'll still need you to take me sighted guide.  Icon can be your friend too."

Chase didn't want to be my friend. Not that weekend or the three weekends that followed.  Jason and I worked hard, and we discovered we worked well together.  We were a true match.  I learned to understand his commands.  Jason learned to let me lead and follow my signals.  We crossed all kinds of intersections. The only intersection that gave us difficulty was the roundabouts. I doubted if Jason had one of those in his home town, I could feel his inexperience. That was OK, though; roundabouts were tricky intersections and I wasn't completely comfortable with them myself.

Chase came every weekend of those three weeks. Those weekends were full of noises that were not there when it was just Jason and I. Chase stamped his feet when he was angry. He shed a few tears, and there were noises that came from the bedroom that I didn't understand. In the mornings, Jason carried a strong scent of Chase, and Chase carried an even stronger scent of Jason.  The last weekend, the weekend that I went home with Jason and Chase, Chase seemed even more like a puppy.  He was bouncing all around, getting into Jason's things and in Jason's way. I lay quietly on the rug, , not bothered by Chase's enthusiasm. If I had been separated from my mate for a month, I would probably act like a puppy too.

Once everything was packed, we all said our goodbyes. I was a little nervous to be going. I'd ridden in taxis as part of my training, but I hadn't ridden in a plane. I knew I was to ride beside Jason in the plane, so I wasn't too nervous.

The airport was large, with lots of people milling about. I didn't understand why humans didn't organize themselves better.  Even during playtime at the kennel, we didn't run into each other the way the people did.  We greeted each other; the humans didn't make eye contact with 
each other.  A few people looked at Jason and Chase with a strange sneer on their faces; the kind of sneer that in the dog world would signal the start of a fight. Jason couldn't see them, but I sensed he knew from the way Chase's body would tense up. By the time we boarded the plane, I could tell that Chase was tired.  His voice had a whine to it, and his body seemed to sag. I would offer him comfort, but I figured it would be rejected. I decided to test the water and lay with my back touching his leg; nothing overt, just a presence of warmth that Chase could feel. I gave a sigh of relief when he didn't move away, and I laid my head down for a nap.

The rumbling of the plane landing woke me and my men up. Chase's voice didn't have that whine to it, so I assumed the nap helped him as much as it did me.  Jason grasped my harness and I felt happy to lead him out of the plane and into the airport.  This airport wasn't as big or as crowded. I felt confident I could do this. I had a few misgivings over Chase.  I followed Jason's commands, leading him to another taxi; this one took us to my new home. I lay on the floor at Jason's feet and waited quietly as he opened the door, letting me get my first glance at my new home.

The apartment looked different than the ones at the training facility.  Each apartment had its own unit. Oh, yeah, these were not apartments, but houses.  My new house looked nice with its small front porch.  As we went inside, Jason led me through all the rooms.  My new home was much bigger than the three room apartment that we had trained in. This house had a large living room, with a comfortable looking couch that wrapped halfway around the room.  The kitchen was large too and messy. Dishes were in the sink, and I could smell the half rotten food that was on some of them.  Jason must have smelt it too.

"Chase, you told me you cleaned up," Jason said.

"Well, I cleaned the living room; you didn't trip over anything did you?" Chase grumbled back.

"You will do the dishes right after we unpack," Jason said with that obey me tone.

"I'll help you put the dishes away after you wash them.  While you're washing them, I'm going to take Icon on a walk. He's not had enough exercise today."

"And it's all about Icon."

I heard Chase mumble under his breath. I thought Jason heard it too but he pretended not to as he said, "What did you say?"

"Nothing," Chase said belligerently.

"If you have something to say, Chase, say it out loud, to my face or don't talk at all. Now, do you have something to say to me?"

"No," Chase said, a little quieter.

"OK, let's unpack and you can start on those dishes."

Jason led me up the stairs to their bedroom.  I saw a large bed for my man and a comfortable looking bed for me not too far away.  I lay in my bed as Jason and Chase put away their belongings.  They looked comfortable with each other. They didn't get in each other's way.  Soon, Jason picked up the harness and we went for our walk.

I enjoyed the walk and the opportunity to see my new environment.  The residential area where we lived was only a few miles from a small business district.  The business district didn't have a lot of people in it, but I knew that was because it was Sunday.  On a weekday, I knew the streets would be busy with cars, and the sidewalks crowded with people.  Jason was a good man; he understood the need for me to see my surroundings before having to navigate around people. The walk was brisk and refreshing, I enjoyed the exercise, but I knew that Jason was tired and ready to go home.

The blare of the music hurt my ears as we walked into the house. Jason went to the kitchen and let my lead go. I sat down near the table out of the way as Jason walked over and turned down the radio.

"I don't need to go deaf in my old age," Jason said to Chase.

"God! Can't I have any fun?  You left me to this mess while you and that dog went out to play. The least you can do is let me listen to my music," Chase huffed.

"Chase, I left you to this mess because you are the one who made it. Now, I'm here to help, but I suggest you get your attitude under control." 

"I don't have an attitude! You do! Ever since you got that god damn dog! You think you can push me aside. Well fuck that!"

I jumped as Chase slammed down a drinking glass.  The glass shattered to the floor. I watched as Jason reached out and took Chase by the arm.  Jason turned Chase and landed a powerful slap on Chase's nonexistent tail.

"Clean that up. Now!"

I thought the shattering of the glass startled Chase too. He dropped his head as he got a broom and a dust pan. I looked between Chase and Jason. Chase swept up the bits of glass and dumped them into a trash can. Jason took Chase by the arm and led him into the bathroom.

"Let me wash out the filth from your mouth, then we can deal with the temper tantrum," Jason said in that tone that made me want to obey every command.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry!" Chase cried. I heard tears in his voice. I followed them as far as the doorway and watched as Jason took a white bar off the shelf.  Jason ran water over it and rubbed it between his big hands.  The bar grew bubbles on it.

"I know you're sorry Chase.  You also know how I clean a filthy mouth. Bite down now," Jason said as he put the bubbly bar in Chase's mouth.

I listened to Jason tell Chase that he loved him but wouldn't stand for that kind of language. I didn't know if the tears were sliding down Chase's face were due to the disappointment that was in Jason's voice or if the bubbly bar was the source.  By the way Chase kept scooping water in 
his mouth and spitting it out once the bar was removed, I suspected it was both. 

I moved back as Jason again led Chase by the arm.  I followed them into another room.  I didn't know whose bedroom it was.  It had a smaller bed, a night stand, a dresser, and a desk.  It was furnished much like the bedroom back at the training apartment. I sat by the dresser and watched.

"Go and get it."

Chase walked to the night stand by the bed and took out a round piece of wood. The wood had some kind of handle on it.  Chase walked back to Jason who had sat down on the bed.  I watched as Jason's hand slid down Chase's arm until he reached that piece of wood.

"Please, don't use the paddle."

Now I had a name for the wood thing: paddle.

"Chase, you had a temper tantrum that resulted in you throwing a glass.  You were out of control.  We've been doing this a long time now; you knew what would happen. Didn't you?"

"I wasn't thinking at the time!" Chase whined.

"And that's what we're working on-- you learning to think before you act.  Take your pants down."

I watched as Chase lowered his pants and saw Jason guide him over his lap.  Jason pulled Chase's underwear down to his knees.  

I startled when Jason slapped his hand down on Chase's butt. I didn't startle again as Jason's hand landed again and again.  My heart went out to Chase as I heard his yelps and watched him rock back and forth over Jason's lap. Once Chase's butt was a very rosy red, I saw Jason pick up the wood, the paddle.

The paddle made a loud crack as it landed on Chase's bare behind.  Chase's cry was loud and got even louder as the paddle continued to crack against his tender skin. After twenty of those cracks, Jason set down the paddle and rubbed circles on Chase's back.  Finally, Chase's sobs died down, and Jason turned him the right side up.  I watched as they cuddled together.  My ears stayed down as I knew the whispers Jason was saying were meant for Chase, not for me.

After a long while, Jason took Chase into their bedroom.  Chase lay face down on their bed.

"I'm going to get you a drink. Then we can nap for a little bit. The dishes will wait a few more hours," Jason said.  

He didn't take my lead as he walked out the door. I heard him walk down the stairs and into the kitchen.  I saw Chase lying on the bed with his hand hanging down.  I felt bad for him; his tailless bottom surely must be throbbing.  I walked quietly to him and tentatively licked his hand.

"Oh, Icon," Chase sobbed, as he leaned closer and hugged me around my neck. I sat still, letting him take what comfort he could.

"I'm glad to see you're starting to become friends," Jason said as he came into the room with a glass and a bowl of water.

"Icon doesn't like it when you paddle me," I heard Chase say.

"It seems Icon doesn't like it when you're sad," Jason said.

As Chase released me to get a drink and cuddle again in Jason's arms, I heaved a big sigh.  Chase had accepted comfort from me. I felt the remaining fears wash away. We were all right.  We were a family.

The end