Words in italics mean Joey is speaking telepathically.
Joey is also a shapeshifter; he's able to shift into a black cocker spaniel puppy. This isn't a puppy picture but it comes close:
Image courtesy of [Paul Martin Eldridge] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
(Beta: Dizzy--thank you!)
Ben held the stick high above his head, grinning down at Joey who wagged his tail wildly.
Come on, Ben!
Ben pretended to throw the stick but Joey merely flinched, then stood still, his whole body posture showing how alert he was. Taking pity on the black spaniel puppy, Ben let go of the stick and watched it sail through the air. Joey whirled around, and sprinted after the stick, barking. Just before the stick hit the ground Joey caught it in the air. He landed ungracefully on his side, scattering the yellow and red leaves around him.
“Joey?” Ben called as he strode toward Joey. “Are you all right?”
Joey bounced back to his feet, shook himself and ran over to Ben. Jumping around him, Joey requested, Throw it again!
Sighing, Ben crouched down, grabbed the puppy and pulled the stick from Joey's mouth. “One more time, okay? Then we'll go home.”
“Because we've been at it for over an hour and I'm hungry.”
Oh. Okay, you have a point. I'm more thirsty than hungry though.
“Well, you ran around like crazy.”
Because it's fun! Come on, Ben, put me down! Joey wiggled in Ben's arms, making it impossible for him to hold on any longer.
When Ben stood, Joey danced around him, barking this peculiar puppyish bark he had. Ben sometimes couldn't believe how lucky he was—he had the best of two worlds, a lover he loved with all his heart and occasionally he also had an adorable puppy.
Not wanting to leave Joey waiting for too long, he threw the stick again, wincing when he heard a loud splash. Seconds later he heard an even louder splash. Ben groaned at the sight in front of him. Joey paddled in the small pond that marked the middle of the little park, the stick locked between his teeth.
He kept his distance until Joey emerged from the water. Joey put the stick on the ground and shook himself vigorously, drops of water flying around him.
Smiling fondly, Ben walked toward the puppy when Joey stepped back into the water and eagerly lapped from the pond.
“No!” Ben shouted, startling Joey.
“Don't drink that water! I don't want you to become sick.”
Joey turned his back to Ben and gulped down water. Ben couldn't believe his eyes. Hastily he strode toward Joey and picked him up.
Hey! Joey protested.
“I said no. What exactly didn't you understand?”
But I'm thirsty, Ben.
“Then you'll have to wait till we're home.”
But it'll take us at least ten minutes!
Ben scratched Joey behind his ears, dropped a quick kiss on the puppy's head and put him on the ground. A moment later he cursed. “Joey! Come out of the water right now.”
“Oh, I had a water-loving dog too before I got Princess,” an elderly woman informed Ben.
“Ah, yeah,” Ben stammered. “The thing is that I specifically told him not to go back.”
The woman's eyes lit up as she smiled at Ben. “He's just a puppy.”
“Uh,” Ben said, then shrugged.
Joey paddled back toward him, a cautious expression on his little face. You can't spank me now.
Ben raised an eyebrow and slowly crossed his arms over his chest. He tapped his foot, waiting for Joey to come closer.
Joey's head dropped lower as he very, very slowly trudged to Ben. But I guess you will when we're home?
“Aw, he's so cute! Look, he's all ashamed for having disobeyed you. Now that's a fine puppy you have there,” the woman cooed.
She held her hand in front of Joey who indulged her and sniffed at the offered hand. Ben watched while Joey allowed the woman to stroke his wet fur. His momentary anger quickly dissipated when he saw how happy the woman was.
Joey nudged the woman's hand with his nose, eliciting a giggle from her. Expelling a long breath, she said wistfully, “It's been a long time since you were that little, isn't it, Princess?”
She bid Ben any Joey goodbye, which left a small unhappy looking bundle sitting at Ben's feet.
Ben? I don't feel so good.
“I wonder why that is,” Ben replied.
No, I mean, I really don't feel good. Like the content of my stomach is rolling around? I don't know how to describe it. I--
Joey broke off when a bout of nausea wracked his body. Ben crouched next to him, one hand on Joey's back while Joey vomited. He felt the puppy shake underneath his hand and sighed. “I really want to say 'I told you so' now.”
Ben, what's happening with me?
“You're sick, sweetheart.”
Sick? Joey screeched. Ben massaged his temples with his free hand, still not used to the volume of Joey's voice in his head.
I don't want to be sick! Remember the last time I was sick? It was horrible!
“I know. Come here, I'll carry you home.”
Ben lifted the trembling puppy in his arms, ignoring how wet he was. He positioned him in such a way that Joey's head rested on his forearm, explaining, “In case you need to puke again.”
Ben made it home in little more than five minutes. They only had to stop once for another bout of nausea. Inside their apartment, Ben took a large bowl from the kitchen and placed it next to his nightstand in their bedroom. Joey lay apathetically in his arms.
Lowering Joey gently into the shower stall, Ben said, “Shift, please.”
Joey yipped but did as Ben told him. Ben turned his back while Joey shifted, shed his jacket and rolled up his shirt sleeves. When he turned around again, Joey sat on the shower floor, his knees tucked up under his chin and his arms wrapped around his legs, his whole body quivering.
“Here, let me help you up. You're taking a quick shower to warm you up, then you'll lie down.”
“I'm sorry, Ben. This isn't how the rest of the afternoon was supposed to go.”
Ben helped Joey to stand and opened the tap. “I know, sweetheart.”
“Are you mad at me?” Joey asked, nervously rubbing his ass.
Ben had to suppress a smile at the unconscious gesture of his lover. “No.”
“I take it you won't drink from this pond again?”
Joey shook his head. “No!”
“You're... are you going to spank me later?”
“Sweetheart, you're sick. I think that's a worse punishment than any spanking.”
Nodding, Joey said, “I really don't like being sick. My stomach feels all weird and it... hurts.”
“How am I supposed to know if they are cramps? I told you I don't get sick,” Joey whined.
Ben guided Joey out of the shower, briskly rubbed him dry, then helped him into their bedroom and there into boxers and a long-sleeved shirt. Ben tucked Joey into bed, kissed his forehead and told Joey, “I'll make us some tea and for you I'll top it off with a hot water bottle.”
When Ben came back he carried a tray with two mugs, a thermos, tea bags and a hot water bottle. He set the tray on his nightstand before he changed clothes as well. Joey was curled on his side, his hands pressed against his belly. Joey looked at him from large dark and anxious eyes.
“I really didn't think it would affect me like this.”
“You never drink water except bottled water when you're in your pup form usually. We'll shelf it as a learning experience,” Ben said, not unkindly.
“My belly really hurts.”
Ben slipped under the cover, pulled Joey to him and carefully placed the hot water bottle on Joey's belly. Joey flinched and for a while he squirmed, trying to find a comfortable position. Ben remained silent, merely stroked Joey's chest and kissed the tousled mop of hair every now and then.
When Joey's squirming seemed to get worse Ben looked around, hoping that something would spark a thought how he could help Joey. His gaze got stuck on the book on Joey's nightstand.
“Did you start reading the book?”
“Not yet, and I don't think I could hold still enough to read now.”
Ben moved around until he could reach the book, then arranged them into their previous position again. “How about I read it to you?”
“Uh... you want to read it to me? Isn't that a bit... a bit...” Joey trailed off.
“No, it's not. It might work as a distraction.”
“But won't it be weird? We're two adults!!
Ben shrugged. “Who cares? You're able to shift into a puppy whenever you want, that's way weirder than me reading a book to you. Want to give it a try?”
Ben opened the book and started reading. Soon, Joey's squirming lessened and he listened attentively. An hour later, Joey was relaxed and shoved the hot water bottle aside.
“Do you need me to refill it?”
“No, I think I'm done with whatever it was. Didn't you want to eat something? I could order something and then we could still go to the movies like we planned.”
“I'll get us something to eat in a few minutes but we won't go anywhere tonight.”
“Joey, it's okay, really. I'm not mad at you, and I know you weren't all that eager to see that movie.”
Blushing, Joey asked, “Aren't you disappointed?”
“I'll live and this is nice too, isn't it?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Would you like me to keep reading?”
“Even though I don't feel all that sick anymore?”
“If we both like it, why not?” Ben asked.
Ben read for a long time, very content to hold a relaxed Joey in his arms. Sometimes the simple things were better than anything else.