└An American word which means God's Gift of Hope; Salvation; Freedom.
The past is a child's broken television set. Though it fills the room with a lone static, he lay still, unable to fathom the world that moved forward outside his window. Yet he lay frozen in the past, never moving to the future in an impeding present; lost in a desolence he would not dare to move away from. Though, at a point, he stood. It was time to move on.
The atmosphere gave an alteration, since last Shaun was awake. He turned as his body rested aloft upon a comforting surface, something not made of fur. "The sofa? No, can't be..." He thought.
He attempted to open his tired eyes but could only see everything in a pitched blur, but the room was a white in majority. He then began to pick himself up but his movement seemed to be hindered entirely! He surrendered to his heavy eyelids in his paralysis.
It was starting to scare him, that was until he could hear a familiar voice. "Don't worry, Shaun, we're here." A strong, positive male voice came about.
"Who are you?" He only managed to mutter in thought and could barely utter it in speech. He wasn't sure if that came out loud enough, he's not even sure if he said it!
It didn't seem to trouble the man. "Someone who cares deeply for you and your mother."
Shaun was confused. Who was he? He sounded nothing like Uncle Max or Uncle Peanut but seemed to present so much comfort in his voice, be it intentional or not.
"Don't be scared, we're not here to hurt you." Another, softer, female voice began to whisper.
"Then what are you doing here?" He only managed to think that this time.
"To make sure that you know something very important." The man said as uplifting as he could. The woman began to whisper in her soft tone. "Everything's going to be just fine."
He attempted to lift his eyelids despite his body's protests. The vigor in his struggle rewarded him with a sight of two glorious figures basked in an eloquent light. The two stood with a divine elegance.
At first he felt scared but they simply stood, watching him with intent. And before his body fell back into the unconscious, he could have sworn he saw them smiling.
The air about the young adults was filled with an unpleasant silence. Shattered hopes, present upon them once more, grind at their morale as biting revelations, yet again, hit home. But as the tears remained dormant for the time being, one soul was at the brink and reprieved his soft sobs in an even greater silence, for his struggle was lone.
Peanut had just brought back the missing Shaun, fainted once more, in his arms. Grape could not explain it, but Peanut looked more distant and much more desolant than he had ever been in his entire life! The look on his face seemed to break her as it was reminiscent of the day he confessed his love to her. He had felt alone, broken, but this time, it seemed, he felt a far greater level of disarray.
Peanut watched as the energetic young doctor took the boy from his trembling hands and placed him on wheeled bed. As he watched the doctor take Shaun into the distance, a silent epiphany bellowed within him as a single tear escaped him, and all in the room saw it.
Grape's heart cringed to see him so hurt and would have gone to comfort him, had he not left the room into the hall from whence he came. He pushed the double doors and allowed them to flap behind him as she neared.
She attempted to catch a glimpse of her best friend through the windows but the granular translucency of it beheld only his fur color. The frosted glass resembled the barrier that blurred her vision of Peanut's emotions. How the fell clutch of indecisive action began to tear at her like a nerving parasite when it slowly became transparent.
She reached to push away the barrier between, to grant comfort and maybe retain some herself but she was halted by a talon clasping at her wrist. "I understand your plight," Arrow looked to her, eyes filled with obvious concern. "But now is the not the time."
She looked down in a shaded gloom. "Why?" She whimpered.
"He has been through a lot lately," He watched Peanut walk off through the frosted glass, with his head hung low. "And I don't think it would..."
"You don't think what!?" She cut him off. "That I can't comfort my best friend!?" She fumed as her composure shattered. Her tone silenced as she cast her gaze downward, tears finally in an outbreak. "You don't understand, Arrow, we haven't spoken in thirteen years..." She cringes inwardly, an all too familiar distasteful feeling vexes her. "He's all the family I have left other than Shaun and I might just lose that..." She leaned onto him, trying to find the comfort she had longed. "I don't want to hurt him anymore..."
Sabrina approached and took Grape in her arms. "Go," She turned to the sobbing molly in her plight. "I'll take care of her."
Arrow nodded, still in concern. He pushed the door and stole one last glance at them before going to find his friend.
The halls were near empty in the nightfall, only a few choice nurses and doctors wandered about these familiar halls.
Arrow remembered his father, Cornelius, who used to pay regular visits to Nicholai, the best doctor in the building. It was there that he remembered seeing his Terrier every once in a while whenever his father would bring him on his shoulder.
Arrow could spend almost an eternity thinking about what life had been all those years ago but the past he so longed to return was a memory he felt was now abstract. "It isn't proper to think of the past." He directs his attention to wander through these halls, to a location he feels would be the best place for Peanut to be.
Arrow entered a balcony on the other side of the building and there he found the canine in his unsettling atmosphere. Cold air that caused to shiver, the few stars that shined above the city, and the families in the apartments, just across the balcony, he felt mocked his plight.
He leaned upon the railing as he watched in secrecy. "At least, for once in my life, I was able to make him happy." He whispered to no one in particular.
"Why are you doing this to yourself?" Arrow spoke out as he neared.
Peanut turned his head, casting his gaze upon the ivory eagle. "Hm. I knew you'd find me here." His focus now back against the opposite building. "I'm not doing anything to myself..." He watches a young molly lifted onto the shoulders of her father as she giggled. "I'm just trying to remember what it's like to have a family."
"Really?" He raises his eyebrow out of skepticism, stealing the same glance of the warm family moment. "Or is it that you're trying to remember what it's like to be loved?"
Peanut lightly chuckled at his assessment. But his laughter left a sour taste in his mouth. He wasn't happy, at all, but it was hard to tell whether Arrow could see that or not.
His expression soon faded in the silence and this granted Peanut the time to think again. His thoughts now fully upon the situation at hand, he began his mental, one-sided, conversation.
"With a crutch upon jagged ground." Arrow suddenly spoke, a light chuckle followed.
"Hmm?" Peanut was puzzled by statement, but the familiarity of the phrase loomed his questioningly. "I've heard that somewhere before..." He thought.
"She's a brilliant writer you know?" He noted. Him realizing it was Grape. "Nathaniel was his name, her character. That's how she described difficulty in his life." Peanut leaned in, wanting to hear more. "It was hard to keep standing but he always tried and he kept going. No matter how many times he stumbled, he always had something to pull him up and keep him up. But he was a troubled character, on a wheelchair, who was shunned by most." Peanut began to feel a slight notion of colligation. "Yet he bore a brilliant spark, a talent to express. Only those close to him would ever accept him for who he is. And eventually, he falls in love." He smirked, seeing his interest.
"Sounds beautiful." He smiles.
"It is. But some days I wonder: Just who is Nathaniel, you or her?" Arrow slowly makes his way out of the balcony, hoping his message got to him. She still loves him the way he does her, she just happens to feel the same about Max.
"Arrow, you don't understand..." He halted just before sliding the glass door open. He heard the quiver in his tone, reminiscent to that of Grape's earlier break down.
"I am set in a condescending parallel: I'm not lonely, and though I do lone to be loved by Grape the same way I do for her, that isn't my problem right now." He stated almost tearfully.
Arrow continued to remain silent. "What could possibly have burdened him as opposed to something he had carried for thirteen years?" He thought as silent attempted to piece together this puzzle.
"You can tell me, Peanut, I am your friend after all." He stated so weakly as he was about to lose his own composure, worried for his friend.
"I'll always have friends Arrow, and I can always call you family. But in reality..." He paused in his sorrowful tone. "...you're not. No one can fill the void of that bright and pushy young girl or the cheerful spark we dreamed of our child, not even that parents who held me tight and told me everything would be okay, you can't replace them."
He was now fully downcast, at the brink of his still composure. An abyssal struggle thrived within him. "I fear
loneliness, Arrow." Silent tears fell once more as the crushing realities of life fell beckoned him to accept it. "When I found out that Grape decided to date Max, I felt so alone. I felt that I was alone to face this world; singular and forgotten." His tears became heavy as the fell upon the pavement below. "I don't want to feel that way anymore!"
"Peanut..." Arrow could only watch him as he fell to pieces. Unable to uplift, Arrow could not hope to stop, or even refrain his grief.
"Other than Grape, Shaun is all the family I have left. And I've only made things worse! This is the longest coma he had ever been in, and that was after I tried to help!" He was blaming himself again, a repetitive cause to cease the pleasantry that he still possessed. "I just... I just don't want to be left behind again..." Peanut was long into the epiphany of a past, ill-handled, that he mourned.
Arrow watched him in the unforgotten plight he has long faced, but never before had he seen him in such a state. As disheartened as he had been in the past, the sense of loss was finally at it's peek with him.
Before he fell into this abyssal grovel, Arrow slowly began to realize just how helpless he was. He knew he could never relate to his amount of loss, thus he could not comfort. And though Peanut was the most sensitive person he had ever had pleasure to have known, he was plagued with the most difficulty he had ever had the displeasure to encounter. It then dawned upon him that he could never feel the same pain he had. And the only other person who ever could, was possibly, already, at the edge of his own life.
As Peanut's tears began to echo unnervingly, reminiscent of his former sorrows, it was then that Arrow had finally come to realize that, even though he may not be his son, Peanut had loved Shaun just as much as Grape.
Lowly groans echoed in the young doctor's mind as the culmination of distraught thoughts began to trouble him. His fingers began to shake and shiver as his teeth began to grit tightly in the dimly lit staff room. His breathing was haughty and almost frightening as he attempted to remain calm.
He sat, lone in the dark, hoping to console himself and sooth the demons that beat at his formerly energetic and strangely high morale. Like the few who trusted and knew him so well, he began to question his former enthusiasm that fueled him over a surgery that could end either miraculously successful or horribly, horribly wrong. The latter, he felt, was likely.
There was no turning back once he steps into that room.
Dependency was high upon him as the jaded misconceptions of his own ability began to doubt further, little as it was. He felt the the bitter taste of defeat already and prayed for a things to turn out right. Not everything just falls in place, but he had to, at least, hope for the best.
Spinning, his head was, as the unrelenting memory of his own overture, obscure as it was, began to distort his perspective. "Am I really capable of doing this?" He turned to the photo of the former staff, taken at the time of humanity, and saw himself sitting at the side of his father, Nicholai. "Do you think I'm ready, Dad?"
He felt that this could end his career, not for the mistrust of his colleagues but for the failure that loomed easy to achieve that cast down his confidence of ever trusting himself. Yet he kept telling himself that this was one of many a misstep in a long stead of reawakenings. He doubted himself before but opened his eyes to what his father believed in and now, here he was, one of many great doctors, amidst the status his father hoped to gain.
"I believe in you, son.
" He heard Nicholai. Those were his last words to him.
He began to feel a sudden curiosity. It distracted him, much to his pleasure. "He never called me son before..." Pets were never called such in the past. It was never practiced and unheard of but it seemed to steady in their minds as the years went on. "It was as if he knew this was the last I'd see him."
The feline nurse peered through the door and could hardly emit a sound as the doctor seemed intent in whatever thought that busied his mind. When he sighed she wished to leave him to his troubles and stress but she panicked after she yelped just as she nearly slipped before closing the door.
"Hm?" He looked to her, in a questioning gaze, remaining as neutral as possible.
"Umm... It's almost eight, doctor." She managed out. Her heart beat as she awaited his reply, hoping not to face an explosion.
"Right, I don't want to be late." He got up, with a stern expression that seemed foreign to her.
"At least he isn't mad." She thought. "But I don't think I like this any better." Her ears flopped as she sighed just before dashing to his side.
They entered the elevator and headed up. It was an awkward feel to her but he seemed oblivious and absorbed in his own world. She wanted to help but she didn't know him very well.
The metallic doors flung open, revealing a familiar ivory eagle. "Oh, I was just about to see you."
He walked out the elevator as the nurse stood by his side. "Hm? What for?"
Arrow seemed surprised, almost worried. "Uh... You called for me, didn't you?"
His memory kicked in. "Oh, right." He begins to smile in light embarrassment as he began to speak. "Well, Dad put his trust in you and your father. And... I see no reason why I can't feel the same."
Arrow smiled at his gesture but looked down. "I anticipated this," He spoke. "And while I am flattered of your faith in me, I have brought someone much more capable."
A short brown dog whose ears reached hardly above his chin level emerged from behind the eagle. His clothing was a black turtleneck sweater and pants doused in a light brown. He seemed meek for his size but bore an oddly sophisticated air about him that captivated almost instantly.
He stood before him, eyes locked and stance stern with a hint of skepticism. He remained in a neutral expression as he outstretched his hand. "King." He stated his name.
"Vicktor." He took his hand and shook it. He turns to Arrow in skepticism. "But I thought he was-"
"King is a children's doctor only because he wishes to be." King nods, his foot tapping, obviously anxious to go. "He has the proper education to become more."
King sighs in annoyance. "If the situation is as dire as Arrow precedes. I don't think we have much time to discuss this."
The doctor was taken aback but nodded in agreement. "You're right." He proceeds to lead him to a bright room with only the nurse inside. The operating table was prepped before him with the young Shaun, who seemed calm in his sleep, strapped to the bed.
"They're not here yet?" He thought
The young doctor brimmed with impatience, almost bored, waiting for his colleagues to arrive. It was nearing ten minutes since they were meant to arrive.
The doctor stood over the tomcat as the steady breathing echoed in the silence of the room. "We must examine his current state, where is his medical report?" The nurse nodded and headed out of the room.
King raised an eyebrow. "Isn't the report supposed to be here in the first place?"
"The staff has just gotten used to being in the medical business, you shouldn't expect much just yet." He said plainly in a uninterested tone.
"What's bothering you?" The child doctor approached his side. His tone was not concerning, however, instead, it seemed to breach from annoyance.
He sighed. "I'm not so sure about this..."
"The moment you doubt yourself is the moment it becomes impossible." King crossed his arms and gave a light chuckle. "I've been there, and it's a ridiculous place to be." He laughs.
Vicktor smiles back. Turning his attention to the young Shaun, he assures himself that he can do this. As his confidence rose as did his colleagues enter.
The terrier didn't even ask as to why they took their sweet time. He inwardly snarled in annoyance before introducing their guest. "Everyone, this is King. He'll be assisting with-"
"Yes, yes, very good. Now may we begin?" A young lynx spoke from the crowd. Vicktor's vein pumped in irritation as the formerly wild animals seemed to agree with him. Only those domesticated grew with the proper respect and the wild lived upon instinct.
Turning to King he found himself quite surprised, King seemed indifferent with the comment and seemed to shrug it off entirely. King seemed to empower his name as he stood neutral. As King turned his attention to the doctor, he nudged his head forward, urging him to go on.
"What's his name?" A lion spoke out from the left of the crowd of colleagues.
"His name is Dayshaun." Vicktor said as he leaned over the young tomcat as he begin to squint his closed eyes, seemingly troubled.
"That's an odd name and his mother's?" The lion spoke again.
In his own irritation, an owl in the center, obviously very aged, arose his attention from the child to Vicktor. "Doctor, it is traditional that..."
"I know it may seem manditory but we're trying to save lives here. It is fresh of inncessity, thus it is not crucial as of now, am I understood?" He gave them a glare as a feverish anxiety to begin with these kind of people urged to him to send them out.
They began to mumble but the doctor remained in his state shielding his pitched annoyance. But this was a mask as his promised had to be kept. He could still remember that day, when Grape approached him with her plight, wrought with struggle as she attempted to find coherence. Her marriage was to be kept secret, and as to who she was spoused to, remains, still, a mystery.
"Umm... Doctor? I think you should take a look at this." The meek nurse stood at the door, clipboard in hand, baring the first serious expression she had all week.
Vicktor's reactions turned in an instant, as he hoped her to bare good news.
Perplexed, in a word, described him. His eyes widened as far as they could stretch. "How many times have you rechecked?" He questioned.
"Four, like usual."
Hand on his head, while attempting to discern, he took his leave. Ignoring the cries of the other doctors.
The young terrier sat in his office. His head lay buried in his hands in the continual ambivalence. His thoughts tossed between the crossroads of amassed fervor and utter disbelief.
"How?" He felt neutral, dazed in fact, but maintained his overall calm. He felt sensations that were as vexed as he was as he began to trouble himself with negative thoughts yet seeing the singular alternative, the possibility of a positive outcome, was much too simplistic. "But it can't be true... it's too good to be."
The light out of the window began to feed him with warmth as he settled his thoughts as much as he could.
The door clicked open with King escorting Grape inside.
She was worried but made attempts to maintain a mirrored calm with him. "What's the news?" She was distraught in her tone but half expectant. "I heard that you didn't do the operation."
"I know, but it wasn't out of fear, not anymore at least." He took the files and handed it to her. "Because of the lack of ability in majority of the staff, I have them make check-ups four times. They can't be wrong four times in a row."
She inspected them closely, firstly noting that Shaun's last name was never included in any of them. "What am I supposed to be seeing?"
"Those are that repeated and constant reports of Shaun's condition." He looks to her with a concerning gaze. "All confirming his tumor."
She remained silent, looking through the reports as closely as she could. She let them down, hoping to dispel them from her already mountainous troubles.
"And after his little runaway, we made another set of inspections. Six to be entirely sure." He handed her the clipboard.
As she took it, she gave a short smile that ended as fast it came. "Wh-what does this mean?" She said, almost excited.
"It means, Miss Grape, that whatever your son did when he ran away has caused him to make a complete, and ultimately miraculous recovery!" He grinned.
A smile was hard to muster for a while but it when it came, it came with tears. She was overwhelmed as the doctor approached her side. "Come, let's go see your son."
Peanut stood in the balcony as the new day dawned. He was there all night, thinking about what he should do next. Everything that had happened birthed many revelations and now he attempts to ascertain his life. This path was tough to take but the hard part was over.
As early as three hours ago, he was told of Shaun's recovery, a success he would have to thank Max and Arrow for.
He began to recollect and found himself answering his own questions. Eventually, he had little to do and much less to worry about. Now all he did was reminisce.
The sunrise glowed beautifully in the horizon as the silence began to accompany his serenity. In the hushed tones of the height he stood there were no more tears, just the resurrection of an emotional threshold about a long lived memorabilia.
He began to smile, actually, and seemed to daydream as well. Keeping his face positive, his eyes began to mirror a worried notion that soon faded.
He heard a tapping at the sliding glass door behind him. He turned and motioned his head to signal him in.
Max entered the balcony with an almost-grin plastered upon his face. "Looks like it worked." He said happily.
"Yeah, I doubted myself for a while, though, but at least, for once in my life, I managed to make him happy."
"Happy?" He said, almost sarcastically. "Peanut, you bought him a house, put food in his fridge and whatever else you think he might need or want. I'm pretty sure you made him more than happy." He crossed his arms. "I paid for his tuition to get him school, and I'm sure he doesn't like going there anymore than I did."
Peanut gave a light chuckle. "Heh. Well, if it's any benefit on my part, I got lucky." He said jokingly. He looked up into the morning sky and stared at it for a while, letting his mind rest. "Max, all I did was get him things." Underneath his joking manner, Max could sense a deeper feign of something else. "I was never there, if not hardly."
He looks to the direction of the neighborhood where a few of the homes could be seen. "You were on tour, playing your music as you saw the world. As for me, I was always in town, and I still have a room in his house. I could go there whenever I wanted, but I was so avoidant." Max did not know how to react. All this time he thought Peanut had long since been attempting to be with her but the ever apparent made no attempts to move forward. "You visited every time you got the chance, few as they were but they were more than mine."
Max was in slight shock but he felt an ease inside of him. Looks like they had more in common then he thought. "Hey, things haven't necessarily moved on my part either."
"What do you mean by that?"
"I've visited but conversations are often awkward with Grape and only recently did that stop." Max recalled their talks in the car. "And I hardly knew Shaun. Be him your son or mine, I felt I needed to know him. But I was around when he hardly knew how to speak. I don't know if I made him smile or not. But after that, I didn't come back."
He placed a hand on his shoulder, a comforting gesture. "You know what Max? I think we feel the same way." He smiled.
He smiled back. "You know what Peanut? I think we do." They laughed for a bit then kept smiling.
There was a silence but that didn't bother them too much. It wasn't awkward as it remained a time for the both of them to rest in the serenity.
As the sun finally rose from the line and began to light their world entirely, Max broke the silence. "You still love her, don't you?" Max was bit worried about his response, hoping he hadn't offended him.
Peanut seemed to welcome his question. "Yeah, and I'm not giving up." He gave him a confident smirk.
"Heh, neither am I." He mirrored his expression and a bond began to form. A friendly rivalry that had existed over the years had come into full view. And though they knew there could only be one, they were okay with it.
Peanut, sparked with intrigue, began to ask a curious question they both wanted to ask each other. "Hey, I've always wondered, since when did you start loving her?"
He to mustered a slight chuckle. "Okay, don't tell anyone else this, but I started liking her ever since I found out she was a girl."
Peanut began to laugh lightly. "Looks like we have a lot more in common than I thought."
"You too?" The atmosphere between them was comforting, unlike most rivalries. They shared no hatred and began to settle very well along the lines of best friends.
Peanut heard a rustling behind them. He took a pair of glasses from his pocket and rubbed it with his shirt and held it in the air. "Look at this."
Max glanced curiously at the pair of glasses and saw the reflection of Tarot and Joey, watching them. "It's a little a trick I learned from Fido."
"What are they doing?" Max tried to look like he didn't notice.
"Checking up on us. They're just worried." Peanut smiled.
As Peanut returned the mirror glasses to his pocket Max became to chuckle under his breath. "You know, it's odd. every time we talk in private everybody expects us to wail on each other because of this whole fiasco."
Peanut began to join him. "Heh, yeah. If anything, this rivalry only strengthened whatever friendship we had."
With a smiling acknowledgment between the two they began to talk candidly.
Tarot and Joey walked away. "I told you they were fine." Tarot said as they shared in mutual satisfaction. "Okay, okay, I won't ever doubt your abilities again."
Grape fiddled with her locket that dangled about her neck. Wielding the trinket she felt the smooth textures and reminisced in silence. There was hardly anyone in the hall, people she didn't know, so she payed no mind at the passers-by.
She was sighing with soft eyes focused upon it's shape. She grasped it with her paw and clenched only showing the upper section. Her thumb wandered to the button on the top and it turned the nob to the right till a click was heard. She pressed it down and the locket opened.
King watched from a distance as his intrigue rose. He simply waited in the hall for someone but spotted her earlier. She held it with masked awe and he would not have bothered till she opened.
He would wonder of all the things that could possibly be inside but a though dawned upon him.
The neighborhood had, for a long time, been a buzz at Shaun's father. How Grape had long been together with Max but then Grape and Peanut had disappeared for three months! She returned disheartened with an unable heart.
Then word spread of her pregnancy and with that, her ambivalence. She chose neither Peanut nor Max and lived with her son who looked almost entirely identical to herself.
The answers are quite possibly inside, aligned with her sight. But he was never as curious as the others... till now.
He walked as inconspicuously as possible. Drawing little, if not any, attention.
He made an attempt to see even a hint of purple next to either black or brown reflecting in her eyes but was too hard to see. He tried to hover over her as much as possible, trying to catch a glimpse of the photo inside.
Seeing as he needed to get close enough that would obviously give him away, he surrendered and chanced at his final approach. "What's that?"
"Gyah!" She screamed. "King, what are you-" Her face turned from that of shocked to annoyed as her eyes simply squinted in anger. Her face flushed in a pitched hue of searing red.
He simply laughed at her response that did not last very long. "Consider it payback for Arrow and Joey." He smirked
"Oh, so you heard?" She began to blush a lighter shade this time, a minor and much more common form of embarrassment took place.
"I try to be in the loop as much as Dad did." He kept smiling, keeping positive.
Grape felt he hid a sign of depression under his words. An unspoken and ineloquent form of mourn that was masterfully hidden. "Oh, sorry about your Dad. I heard he was the only one who stayed behind and you saw him..."
"It's okay, it's okay!" He reassured. "It was like, what, thirteen years ago." She looked up to him to see a glowing smile. "I'm over it, don't worry."
"Now, back to what I was asking..." King smirked as he pushed on.
"Oh, this old thing? It's just a little piece of my past." Her eyes shined with the reflection of the trinket in her eyes.
"Seeing as how you look at it, it doesn't seem so little." He grinned, pressuring her further.
Inwardly, she begged him to stop less she give him what for. She sighs. "I'd... rather not talk about it."
"Why? Does it have something to do with Shaun?" She looks at him with a warning gaze. He quickly let go, and began to conceit, holding his smile with much difficulty. "Speaking of Shaun. Don't you think Shaun deserves to know who his real father is?" He held his smirk with much pride now as she was caught off guard.
She giggles. Grape mirrors his expression perfectly, granting him unease. "I do."
He gave her a weak smile, trying to process a proper response. Visibly trying hard to keep it up. She had won, and he knew that.
A nurse emerged from the door beside her. "Miss Grape, your son is ready to see you."
"Thank you." She gets up, and turns to King. "I'll see you later, King." She smiled, mocking him.
Before she entered the next room, King stood. "Grape, wait! What did you mean by that? Shaun, I mean." His features gave a slight sign of pleading.
"Well, yes, I do, in fact, believe that Shaun has every right to know who his father is." She leans in and whispers in his ear. "He just hasn't asked me yet."
She entered the next room without looking back at him.
Inside, Shaun looked with his mother in much excitement. "Mom!" He exclaimed in glee.
"Hi, Baby." She embraced her son, holding him tight. Sitting on a teal seat beside him, she began to marvel at her own son. A spitting image of herself with the same smile and joyous young spark he had always had. She felt everything thing was right in the world.
"How are you feeling?" She asked, almost in tears, but wiping them away.
"I'm fine, mom." He held his mother's hand as she held it with both paws.
She leans in and kisses him on the head. "I'm glad you're okay."
He let go of her hands. "Um, Mom? Uh... There were some people in here..."
"Really? What kind of people?" She asked.
"They were strangers but they weren't bad. They were tall, a man and a woman." She began to wonder who they may have been, or what they did. "They were glowing, Mom, and it felt good to be with them. And they told me, everything was going to be fine and, when I woke up, I was!"
Tears began to form from her as she sat on his bed and hugged him. "That's wonderful, Shauny."
"They were angels, weren't they?" Grape looked to the window outside and saw the glowing sky with the sun behind a clump clouds, shining elegantly throughout the city. "Yes, yes they were."
She knew who they were now, and there was no mistaking it.
"Mom, Dad... Thank you.
A heat envelopes the air over the Sandwich household with a distinct aroma of grease. The alluring scent called the young and the old alike to approach the steaming grill. The sharp fizzing of heated burgers flipped over the grill sang like beautiful, beautiful music to the ears. One of the young cats sat nearby and smelt in awe as he awaited the bliss to come then all with an upstart of pointed ears as Fido calls: "Food's ready!", as the crowd gathers around.
"I'll head over there when there's less pushing." Peanut comments as he laid back on the wooden lounge chair.
"You know, you're probably gonna end up missing all the good food." Max grinned as he leapt over the railing and walked to the crowd.
"You're not scaring me, Max!" Peanut laughs as he watched Max squeeze through the crowd, disappearing in the void of former pets.
Grape leans down, arms upon the arm of the chair. "He isn't kidding, I invited the wolves over." She smiles.
"What!?" Peanut gets up in a hurry, not minding whether or not she was joking or not. He wasn't willing to take any chances.
She giggles at the sight as he attempted to leap over the railing like Max, only to stumble down, barely able to hold himself up,then dashing toward the crowd like he did. Grape then sat back at the chair and wondered what else the future holds.
She watched her guests about the barbecue push surround the poor dog as his little arm room easily began to trouble him. "He should have never let Rex teach him how to cook."
"I wouldn't agree. It did him pretty well with Sabrina." A certain light purple rabbit pulled up a seat beside her, leaning over the backrest. He graced a confident smile upon his features, an unfamiliar but very much welcome expression.
She returned his smirk with her own confident glare, reminiscent of her own joy that branched from her son's recovery. "Hey Zach, where have you been all this time?"
"Filling in for you at the farm." He said, still holding his smile.
She smacked her head. "Oh, right! Sorry..." She sighed. "I can't believe I let you and Rufus down. I'm really sorry, Zach."
"Meh," He shrugged. Reassuring her with his positive persona. "You have more than enough of an excuse. I heard what happened to Shaun, I'm just happy he's okay."
"Yeah, me too." She looked around a bit, though seeing no sign of her son. She brushed it off, thinking he was just in the crowd or somewhere in the house. "So how'd you end up helping Rufus out, anyway?"
"Rufus came by in a hurry at the Exhibit." He saw the worry weigh in her eyes, he looked away. "He was a bit disappointed but no frantic mess, don't worry." She began to lean in on a familiar ease. "Anyway, we talked and found out we were both looking for the same person, you, so I offered to help out. I am a teacher after all, I managed."
"So what's the verdict?" She asks, hoping that things turned out alright.
He begins to laugh a little, a grin now shining his buck teeth. "They've been faking it. In fact, they're just as good as keeping the farm up and running as he is."
"I don't see why they would be faking it, though." She, however, remained objective.
"It's not all the complicated, really. They're all he has left, they mean the world to him. The thing is, they feel the same way. He's just more willing to make sacrifices for everyone's benefit rather than his own." He seemed ridden with awe as he watched Rufus and the cats converse with a few of the neighborhood's residence. He then turned to the purple cat who listened in. "They've been trying to scare him, scare him into thinking that he needs to stay home, for their sake. And that ain't too far from the truth."
"So how'd it turn out?" She questioned, looking at Rufus with an afflicted heart.
"He got a bit mad, but leveled with the girls. He comforted them and promised to come by as often as possible." Zach said, getting up from his seat and leaned on the railing.
She raised any eyebrow, realizing how much travel that involved. The repetitive movement, back forth through the county seemed all too troublesome and stressful for a young farm dog. "Isn't that a bit much?"
"For him, it wasn't enough." Zach felt a proud notion run through him. "In fact, he's planning to trim off some of his usual work hours."
She felt a bit disappointed but was happy, overall, at the end results. "It's better this way, I guess."
Meanwhile, on the front porch, Shaun and Jill opened the door and locked it behind them, not before looking out, scanning for any of the adults. "C'mon, it's upstairs." Shaun whispers as he began his run upwards.
Shaun inhaled and exhaled as his eyes fell into a light shade. He turned around, Jill almost knocking him over.
"Shaun? What do you see?" His attention focused upon the front door as he heard the door clicking, with his mother approaching the door. She watched his expression root a growing smile that suddenly turned into a blush. "Eww... Adults kissing." He laughed a bit, slightly taken aback, sticking out his tongue in disgust.
He closed his eyes and breathed in and out, coming out of the trance by his own will. "Wow! How'd you do that?"
"A friend taught me." He shot her a smile, taking heed ahead of her up the stairs. "C'mon slow poke!" He called from around the corner.
She followed suit, nearing the cat before her as he pulled down the steps to the attic. "It's up here." His eyes directed to the upper area above them.
He headed up and pulled the light on.
The area was still dimly lit, despite the small light that hung. Delicate cobwebs laid in several corners that glowed elegantly like fine strands of silver in the luminous moonlight.
Shaun held her hand and brought her to a rectangular chest by the window in the back. Shaun pulled it into the light and the dust flew off.
The pair coughed, "I think you should open the window."
Shaun nodded and pushed up the window behind it. "That should do it."
Beneath them stood Grape and Peanut beholding the festivities before them as Peanut munched down on the remains of his burger. Grape headed up the steps to his side, watching the picnic tables lined with barbecue.
"Take a look at that." Grape directed Peanut to the table as King and Bino sat before the plates with eyes struck challengingly to the other. "They're trying to see who could eat faster." She says in a laughable tone.
"Won't they ever stop?" Peanut said licking the meat off his lips.
"Doubt it, but it's fun to watch." She giggles.
"Yeah, it is pretty entertaining." He nods approvingly.
They watch as, before the two even began eating as fast as their bodies would allow, Rufus steps up at the seat beside King. The barn cats stood close behind, supporting. Rex took the seat opposite with a challenging smirk that practically screamed: "I can beat you!" at the country dog.
Rufus loosened his scarf and they began their frenzy as Sasha made the call.
"Wow! I didn't Rufus could-" Grape pecks his cheek. "Wh-What was that for?" Peanut blushed, almost loosing balance.
She looks away not making eye contact, otherwise very happy. "I wanted to say thanks. I know you helped Shaun." She smiles at him.
"Well, to be honest, I can't take all the credit." He notes with not a hint of regret. It didn't seem to bother him personally.
"Really? Then who else do I have to thank?" She looks to the crowd, trying to sight obvious suspects.
"Max..." He seemed almost unwilling to continue. "And Arrow."
She seemed taken aback at the thought of pecking the bird on the cheek. "Yeah, I think I'll just give the bird a hug." She almost shuttered at the awkward thought.
"Yeah, I think he'd prefer that too." They sigh in relief.
She spots the black cat make conversation with a certain Pomeranian with Arrow behind him, in his own engaging conversation with Fox. "Oh, there they are now." She says, heading toward them. "I'll catch you later, Peanut!"
As Grape got to Max, he bid Tarot a wave as she made her way to Peanut. She smiled at him, and he returned it wholeheartedly. "Hey Peanut."
"Hey Tarot, what's been going on with you lately? Haven't seen you around the neighborhood."
She raised skeptical eyebrow. "I could ask you the same thing. You flew to Toronto for a picture frame?"
"Hey, I needed to make a good design myself." He seemed almost embarrassed, now that he finally said that out loud. She almost laughed at him. "Hey, I noticed you haven't answered my question yet."
"Just business in the city. I could hardly ever come home, but things have finally settled down."
He went down the steps to her side. "Then it's a good thing you're here now, then." She a gave a meek smile as he gave his own.
Music began to play as the couples gathered. "Care to dance?"
She took time to consider, obviously teasing him. "Hmmm... Why not." They took place in the center along with Grape and Max.
Whilst the neighborhood busied away, Shaun finally managed the lock with his nail. As the slow music carried over to the window Jill's ears perked up. "Howie Day!" They exclaimed.
"Hey, how'd you know about that?" She asked.
Shaun felt a bit distressed. "Mom played it a few times when she breezed through this white album of hers. I never saw it though. What about you?"
"It was my parent's song when they got married. Mom loved Collide." She seemed happy to hear it.
Shaun continued to open the chest and took a moderately sized box lined with gold painted iron. He settled it atop the chest and opened it revealing a large blue feather.
"It's huge!" Jill exclaimed as her eyes burst wide open. She took and felt the texture of the dated feather.
"I know, right? I've been trying to figure out where it came from, too." Shaun remained in a familiar awe as he held the feather. Jill wasn't listening, she watched Shaun with the silver strung background and the music around them.
He felt there no conversation between then he looked to her. He shared his gaze and began to lean in.
The wind took the feather out the window and it drifted downward.
Grape walked over to the steps halting by the familiar light weight feather float down into her arms. In an instance, memories flashed of the Griffin and his odd and, at times, unsavory methods of teachings. She took it and felt the texture, and headed for the front porch.
She stopped by the porch in the back. "Peanut, can I talk to you in private?" She called out to the dog after his candid talk with the psychic dog.
He followed her to the back while the music followed and carried over there. "What is it, Grape?"
She showed him the feather and took his hands. They clasped it between gentle palms. "Grape?" He whispers in concern.
"I stayed behind unknowingly for you. And Pete showed me that." She sighed, almost coming out in tears. "You left for me and
"You know how I've struggled, and you've been there far before anyone else." She clenches their paws. "I never forgot that." She looks up to him with soft eyes. Welcoming and comforting, they felt renewed. Even more so when they kissed.
Her arms wrapped around him he held her close. They release, as she rested her chin on his shoulder. "Pete was right, I don't think of cats anymore." She thought as he swayed her in embrace.
"I love you." He whispered.
Jill waggled her tail as Shaun swayed his in a pitched joy and continued on after they released.
She noted an interesting feature of him in mischief. "Hey, I just noticed, your ears flop half way."
"Really?" Shaun began to feel his own ear to measure.
"Yeah, and they're pretty long too." She proceeded to fool with them, flopping them up and down, effectively tickling him.
Shaun then began to pant and tap his foot rapidly, scaring the young hybrid to her own amazement. Shaun began to settle at his own reaction.
She took his hand and giggled lightly."Guess we have more in common than we thought."
-------------The story has ended. I've finally reached it.
I'm completing my send off. I'll post it later.
Thanks for reading!