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Housepets! Changing by the Seasons: 1. The Way Back Machine 
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Post Housepets! Changing by the Seasons: 1. The Way Back Machine
Hey all! Welcome to the first in my little series of fanfiction stories. For older fans wondering why this now has a tagline to it, I can explain, honest! It was kindly suggested to me that I add something in the title of the story to help newer fans realize that this is in a series. So it's for everyone's convenience that I do such a thing.

Also for the sake of convenience I've decided I'll add links to the sequels right here in this thread!

CbtS: 2. The New Era
In which a certain Gryphon makes his move: Next stop, animal equality.

CbtS: 3. Pet Project
In which our heroes discover the ups and downs of equality.

Enjoy!




Way back Machine

Prologue: Puppy ever after

Jeez how long had it been since I was just a young pup? A pup naive to the wiles of the world. A pup from a more innocent time. From a time when things were, dare I say it, normal. There are so many distant memories now forever harnessed into little photographs. Neatly glued to colorful sheets of scrap-booking paper, haphazardly placed where they could fit.

It brought a warm smile to my face glancing through these little windows to my past.

The very first picture on the page I could never get out out of my head, even if I tried. It had my adoptive parents and yours truly all together sitting on the front porch of our house. I had to be a brand new adopted puppy in the picture. Already loads of uninhibited trouble and smiles; bundled together into one fluffy package.

Dad was a pet lover, he grew up in a pet friendly household and was by no means a stranger to animals. Mom adored puppies, though had never owned a single pet before then. So when you put two and two together, all of a sudden they wanted a puppy. Dad was always one for puns (we called him “the Pungeon Master”), he worked his magic on coming up with a name.

The two of them settled on "Peanut Butter." Though not without reluctance on mom's part.

My first day as a Sandwich must have been an adventure for my parents. Megatons of pent up puppy power unleashed into a house that was, for some time, quite puppyless. The pictures ranged from “Peanut getting flour all over the kitchen,” to “Peanut getting Mom's flowers all over the kitchen.” Dad once told me he wanted pets before kids so he could practice, but he did not realize he was getting a little more than he bargained for.

It was just us for a little awhile there. My first home was sort of quaint, but small. Perfect for my parents alone, but add a puppy into the mix and they started to realize that such a small space for a puppy was not such a bright idea. The first great decision my parents ever made for me had to be moving to Babylon Gardens. I got to see new dogs, smell new smells, all coupled little hints here and there that mom and dad were going to get a new pet. For a little while there, I was friends with a good amount of the dog population of the Gardens.

Fido, Bino, and Joey were Babylon Garden boys from the beginning. Their parents were born and raised there, and their parents were, and so on and so forth.

Fido, the eldest brother, was looking quite fresh in his old photos. Years on the police force had taken its toll, giving him that rugged "old dog" look. Bino had always been a bit of a bitter control freak, even before we saw him come home from the academy. Joey was a little more outspoken back then. Before he learned the hard way what talking without thinking does. Nowadays he is still pretty quiet, but he is still growing into his feet so to speak.

Fox used to be the new kid until I showed up. It was a bit of a rickety start between the both of us. He was a smart guy, perhaps too smart for his own good at times. The husky never missed a chance to rub his extensive knowledge of everything ever in our little puppy faces.

Oh and can't forget Officer Ralph. Now he's senior officer of the K-9 unit. Back then he was the rookie assigned to having “safety seminars” with the neighborhood pups.

Rex, as well as the Arbelt, family were quite a few years away from gracing our fine neighborhood and Grape wasn't around until a few months later. Goodness things never were quite the same when she showed up, pet eating alligators, a cat/dognapper, dogs and cats hugging, mass hysteria and riots in the streets. It was madness I tell you.

I met her at the local shelter one day. Mom and dad decided that I needed someone else my age to tucker out, so they took me to the local shelter and set me loose. All of the dogs there were not particularly fond of me. Even as a pup I was considered "different." As in nothing really phased me. Every thing I approached was met with a smile, even if it did not smile back. This was not a popular attitude to have with pets that had been abandoned or condemned to a life at the shelter. Grape was one of those people at first.

She and I were completely different from the start. The most glaringly obvious difference was the fact that she was a cat and I was a dog. Yet there was more to it beneath the species boundary. She was an alley cat that had been around the wrong side of town more than twice, even as a little kitten she had her fair share of street savoire faire. Me, well I was instantly adopted, and had yet to experience any worldly harshness. Humans were practically God to me back then yet they were rarely ever so kind to her.

Yet I recognized she was different. Something stood out about her. Even with all of our differences, I felt like we somehow shared something. I think it was because we were both, deep down inside, the same kind of weird.

Eventually it came down to adopting a pet and I wanted Grape. Mom and dad caved in to buying a brand new kitten. That was one way you could tell mom loved me.

Funny enough I thought Grape was a he for the longest time. I had yet to learn of her shelter name (Princess Periwinkle) and dad, being the Pungeon Master, named her Grape Jelly. You know considering she was a purple cat and all (where you find those I'm not certain.). Anyways, Grape was quite an ambiguous name and she was always boyish. She lived a “violence is not an answer, but it helps” life style and boy did she hit hard. Not to mention she had a fairly deep voice for a girl.


Dad made it priority number one to update the scrapbook when we both got home. It was a simple picture of us, I was stupidly smiling at the camera with my tongue lolling out and she had her ears down with a deer headlight stare.

“Earl are you sure that was a good picture?” I remember Mom asking.

“Of course, it's perfect, our kids are so photogenic.” He sniggered a little as he stowed his camera away.

Grape was an interesting housemate. It took her a long while to warm up to me. In fact it took her a long while to warm up to anything. Any picture of her from the “good ol' days” had her defensively leaning over her food as if at any given moment someone was going to take it. She even seemed to keep her distance from mom and dad.

But a few pages later and she had already started to warm up.

I chuckled at a small picture captioned “Romeo and Juliet: Imaginate.” It was of me retching after awkwardly planting a kiss on her cheek. You have to recall I thought she was a guy. Later she blamed me for the whole cat lover thing, but I had no idea what a Shakespeare was until she told me. Not to mention it required me to kiss a cat. At the time I had to be the Juliet character, with all the zany “thees” and “thous,” it blew my puppy mind. Not to mention Juliet, was, well, a girl. She was Romeo. And well you can imagine my further gender confusion.

Though the more I think about it, the less I want to think about us as Romeo and Juliet. Seriously the ending is downright depressing.

The years flew by, and we were the best of friends. We never left one another. Well sometimes she did, especially when she wanted a nap. I was never far from finding and waking her. Though all of that changed when I discovered she was a girl. How I could live with her and never notice is anybody's guess. I think it truly was pure innocence on my part. I wish I could tell you why I never noticed. In fact hardly anyone really ever cared to notice. Such a strange one she was. Still is actually.

After learning of her true gender, and I being at that age where girls suddenly spark interest. Suddenly I started seeing her a little differently. I never meant to start seeing my best friend differently. Perhaps it was animal instinct combined with my human upbringing. I saw nothing wrong with liking a cat, I mean male humans liked female humans. How they could stand each other at times is a mystery to me, yet to them it just came natural.

Dogs made fun of me when the discovered my attraction, Grape seemed to be apathetic to the attraction. I sat there with a bad taste in my mouth for such a long time. Was I a freak? Was there something wrong me perhaps?

Then it happened.

What I saw one fateful night was such a strange thing. I knew what was going on, I had no doubt about what was going on, but that was the very day I realized that it wasn't wrong for me to feel that way about a cat. After all that was said to me and how I was treated, Fido Byron, ace hound of Babylon Gardens, police dog academy graduate, had found himself madly in love with the mysterious Sabrina.

I snapped a picture of the event out of impulse. The camera was in my hand and I couldn't resist. I think it was my inner pent up urges that forced my hand. Grape said we would never speak of it again, and for a long time we didn't speak of it at all. That didn't stop me from thinking about it. Yet how would I tell her I felt the same way? How could I possibly tell her? She would think of me as a freak, and she might not want to be my friend anymore if I told her. Telling her was out of the question, my puppy mind so adamantly ordered. So my love life turned to fantasies. Half day dreaming, half hoping, I eventually scribbled in purple over Sabrina's picture and darker brown over Fido's.

It was the picture I felt would never happen in real life. It was my first addition to the scrapbook. At this point I had adopted it as my own, dad becoming too busy to take care of it and mom always forgot it existed. In a way it felt like I was the chronicler. The family historian. I was going to keep this record for many Sandwiches to come and my name would forever be remembered. Though in reality I used scrap-booking as a way to keep my mind off of things, in the same way drawing Spot the Super Dog would help. In honor of dad's punny nature I gave it the fido picture the title “Pido and Grapina.” Not as good as his titles of course, but even the masters had to start somewhere after all. Anyways Grape...

“Peanut, what are you still doing up?”

Speak of the devil. “Oh! Hey, just looking over the old scrapbook, and thinking, I guess.”

“You know it's like 11:30, PM, not AM, right?”

“Couldn't sleep.” I shrugged. She took a seat next to me and tucked her legs underneath herself as she peeked over my shoulder.

“Oh Peanut, is that-”

“Yeah, the Fido picture.” I felt my blush burn through my fur.

“I can't believe you still have that thing. I thought you would have torn it up out of embarrassment.” The purple cat gave me her sly, half smile.

“Hey, it's from a time I never thought I'd get more than 'mushy stuff' here or there.” I smiled back.

“Like you don't get more than enough now?”

“Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” I shrugged.

She nodded a little and leaned her head on my shoulder. I felt her warm breath on my neck as I rubbed her back. Funny to think that once upon a time snuggles like this were weird.

“You know I forgot you were such a little guy back then.” She looked at a picture of me at Uncle Reuben's farm. It was me standing with Rufus. He was a strange one, but he started something special, albeit without really knowing what that special thing was.

I nodded a little and turned the page as she scanned over the pictures. As much as I wanted to make this book dedicated to my Grape obsession, I'm sure those looking in would want to see more than just that. For once in my young life I made a practical decision. There were pictures of Tarot, Max, Grape, and I all on our big dates. A few good ones from rides at the themepark themed themepark. Grape, in a rare moment of femininity, was clutching her date and screaming as their roller coaster just coasted the peak.

There were pictures of the neighborhood dogs enjoying little parties. Maxwell, he's such a push over once you get to know him, got me a few pictures of the neighborhood cats and their conventions. Soon the scrapbook turned into a chronicle of Babylon Garden it seemed.

Memory lane was one long lane to stroll. But it was a lot of fun.

“I never knew you got pictures of all this stuff Peanut, gotta say, I'm impressed.”

“Thanks, some of them I didn't take. I actually hunted them down from other pets.”

“Wait what's this one?” She tilted her head and pointed at a picture on the page. I glanced at it and felt my ears droop.

“Oh...that.”

That was going to be awkward to explain...

~~

Hope you guys liked it. I'll have more to post whenever, or, whatever. Oh, and feel free to critique anyway you like. Hate it all you want, love it all you want. Tell me why at least! Just because I'm writing a shameless romance fic doesn't mean it shouldn't have any class.

Anywho, happy reading.

Edit: Hey double checked for inconsistencies that were pointed out. Perhaps I should get a beta reader, but thanks for pointing them out!

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At the end of the day I often think about what I have done for the world. What I have changed, perhaps made better or worse. I then sit at a computer for hours and look at pictures of cats.

RP Character:
Lucky Abbot: S-9 P-6 E-7 C-6 I-7 A-4 L-3


Last edited by Honorable Intentions on Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:26 pm, edited 7 times in total.



Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:37 am
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
It is definitely interesting. Written in a unique way.

Also, Fido is the only Byron out of the brothers.

Peanut was Juliet when they played.

Just a few inconsistencies around is all, mostly...

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Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:32 am
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
I. So. LOVED. It. :D :D :D
Original, sweet, tender, makes one want go *DAWWWW* from the first to the last paragraph.
Just correct those little inconsistencies and it will be simply *perfect* (Peanut playing 'Juliet' emphatizes the idea that he thought he was kissing a guy! :lol: )

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Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:55 am
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Nice fic, you left me with the intrigue. I wonder from what type of awkward moment is that photo that Grape pointed :lol:

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Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:48 am
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
...This...is good, and that is the best way to describe fics written like this. GOOOD!!!!

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Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:58 pm
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Awesome fic! I love the way it starts. Like a future to past chronology thingy :D

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Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:07 pm
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
A bit hard to find anything negative on this one, waiting for the next part!

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Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:12 pm
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The Way Back Machine

Part 1: The Lovers, The Fool, and The World

There are two particular people I failed to talk much about earlier. Now don't get me wrong, I don't want to avoid talking about them. In fact they are both very good friends of mine to this very day. One of them, a short fluffy Pomeranian with a rather odd quirk. The quirk in question being powerful psychic abilities, abilities she attributed to “spirits.” Though with a name like Tarot, her parents were certainly asking for her abnormal tenancies.

She came into my life not too long after I hit a less than stellar part in my relationship with Grape. Well to me it was. For her, it was an experimental phase. She was always the smart one in our relationship, always the one who thought things through. One to measure the consequences. Underneath it all she still liked me, at the very least she humored me with mushy stuff. Of course my attraction was more pronounced, I wanted her to be mine and most everyone seemed to know it.

In the mean time, she had set her sights on cats. Who just so happens to be that other person I was talking about, rough and tough Maxwell.

He made things interesting. He played at my instincts. Most dogs, especially male dogs, are competitive. Be it over a game of tag or a lovely lady, the tussle will be messy. However if you haven't noticed quite yet, I'm sometimes weird for a dog. Instead of fighting it, I let Max butt in because Grape wanted to have a normal relationship, because that made her happy.

I told myself that if she was happy, then I could learn to be happy too.

Though I won't lie I was not without some inner turmoil, date nights between her and Max had a unique effect upon my psyche.

I don't like to be alone. Like most dogs, I get frantic, I feel abandoned. An instinct that goes way back to wolf ancestors, where the people around you meant survival. That night I wanted to bury myself in something, anything to keep the world away. I am not a drinker, besides mom and dad would never buy soda, it was one of the things parents would keep away from their pets if they could help it. I sat there and asked myself “what else is there?” It hit me that movies are great, I love movies. They're like comics but they move.

So I pulled out the quintessential tragedy that spoke to all of us dogs out there. Don Bluth's “All Dogs Go to Heaven.” Years later I, with a sound mind and a steady heart, have to ask myself: "What on earth was I thinking?" To this very day I still do not have an answer to that question, but about half a box of tissues and one sad ending scene later, I was a mess. I wanted somebody to be there with me, I was done being alone.

Then almost instantly my wish was granted. As the credits rolled there was a knock at the door. Part of me jumped for joy, could it perhaps be Grape? Here to tell me that she really loved me, it had to be her. Yet instead, I was greeted by strange new dog.

“Hello Peanut.” She had a small wistful voice, what's more she already knew my name.

“Uh, hello?” The feeling in my stomach was a bad mixture of disappointment and confusion to see this strange new dog on my door step, rather my best friend.

“Ah yes, where are my manners. My name is Tarot and I've foretold your hour of need.”

Still confused but slightly intrigued I began to ask, “How did you...”

“The spirits revealed it to me, and saw me as the one to help with the problem.” The small Pomeranian let herself into the house. “Besides, one doesn't need to be psychic to tell that you're in bad shape.”

She pointed to the small pile of tissues next to my green blanket. “Love Survives” could be heard playing from the TV as the ending credits rolled across the screen.

“Thanks but I don't...”

“Nonsense, I'm here to help and help is what I'll do. Now put in a happier cartoon while I whip up some popcorn. Get comfy while you're at it too”

“Well okay, the pop-”

“Is in the top cabinet to the right, yes, I know.” She called from the kitchen.

Perhaps it was because she could read my mind, but she hit all of my sweet spots. Needless to say I think Tarot and I hit it off pretty well that evening. Already I felt like we were a good couple, for example she finished all of my sentences. That night it seemed like I could be complacent with or without Grape. Maybe, all I needed was a relationship in the first place. Not to mention Tarot was pretty cute, and I felt like she wanted to see me happy.

Of course I found that forgetting about Grape wasn't going to happen. When I would day dream, I would forget she was a cat and I was a dog. I would forget the social stigma and the things that held us apart. The only thing that would be left is the fact that I was still attracted to her, from her tomboyish nature down to her cynical world views. Though in the real world, acting on those feelings seemed an impossible task.

Years later, very long years later, after my relationship with Grape remained at an utter standstill and I remained in the “sometimes you get mushy stuff zone,” I decided it was time to move on. Now I can talk about that picture. Though I was ashamed of it, nothing could change the fact that was a special one and, had things gone different that day, there would be a very different dog talking to you now.

It was a sloppy picture, not my best photographic achievement. The room was sort of dark and I had the flash turned down. At the time I wanted to document the moment because, at the time, it made me happy. Grape took a look at the shapes in the photograph. Ambiguous at a distance, but when she looked closer I saw that she realized what was going on.

“That's you and Tarot isn't it?”

“Yup.” I was nervous. Grape had never seen the picture. It was my first ever real kiss. Not just a smooch on the cheek, but a full blown kiss.

“Peanut...”

“You're upset I know, but please let me explain.”

“No, no, I'm actually surprised.” She was laughing. Laughing? Why was she laughing? “You actually made a move on Tarot?”

I think I was blushing so hard the room temperature rose a degree. She gave me a playful punch on the arm and looked at the picture.

“You're just surprised?” I asked, a nervous smile crossed my lips.

“Just surprised, I don't think you were ever that direct with me back then.”

“For a reason! If I tried that with you I would have had my face clawed off.”

“You know it.” She showed off her claws and poked me. “Though, why did you leave her?”

“What?”

“Tarot, why did you drop Tarot for me?”

“Oh...”

Well that was a bit of an odd story.

Tarot and I had been dating for about five years, Maxwell and Grape had been together just a little longer. A dog can only take so much before he has had enough, and I could stand certain things much longer than your average dog. I may not seem a patient canine but when it comes to waiting I was getting pretty good at this point.

Like I said earlier, I had reached a point in my life where I began to ask myself whether or not Grape was the one I wanted to stay with. I think I speak for all of us in that love polygon when I say we probably all were asking who was going to stay with who. The silly affair had been going on for a long time and we were all getting tired. I still loved Grape, she was special in a way no other was. But so was Tarot, not to mention she was just as tough as Grape at times. And she had a perk that my feline crush lacked.

Tarot was a realistic option. I felt like the protagonist of a romantic comedy. Maybe I chose wrong and the girl of my dreams was there in front of me all along. Maybe, just maybe, I could give it a chance. I had to answer the big question first, did I really need Grape? She had Maxwell and she didn't need me for emotional comforts. Why did I keep trying to convince myself that I needed her? I decided from that point on I was going to be assertive Peanut, and not over think decisions like this any more. I was going to put my foot down once and for all. I called Tarot over to my place, and was shaking to the bone with nervous energy.

“Tarot?” I asked as I answered the door. “I think you probably already foretold what is about to happen, but here it goes.”

She was quiet, not to mention nervous. Why was she nervous? "No, be assertive Peanut." I told myself quietly. I closed my eyes and threw caution to the wind. We locked in embrace, our lips touched, and for a moment I was in paradise. She let go first, I still wanted to hang on. When I opened my eyes I swear I saw a little glint of green in her iris.

“Oh...” She said something, mouthed something, but I did not pay attention. I was in my own little world.

“I've been wanting to do that for awhile.” I felt the weight of a thousand earths lifted from my shoulders. I reached for the camera and leaned in to kiss her again. This one would be for the record books.

I locked into the kiss again and took the picture. Yet something felt off. Something felt wrong. When I broke the kiss, instead of being greeted with a warm smile, she looked like she wanted to cry.

“Peanut please, understand, this is a dream come true on so many levels.” She grasped for words. For once she was unable to find them. “But...but”

My mind suddenly snapped. I was too late again. I had let another one slip through my fingers. “But what?”

“I messed up.”

“Tarot I'm confused.”

“I'm sorry but things weren't supposed to go this far. I was supposed to help you...” I felt like she wasn't even talking to me at this point. “I didn't do my job right, I let feelings get in the way.”

“What are you talking about? What job?”

“Peanut, there are far greater forces at work in your life. You are at the epicenter of something big, something powerful. By the machinations of literal Gods your life has been threaded carefully and I'm screwing it up.”

She was not making an ounce of sense to me. Gods, epicenters, what? I knew in an instant she was implying that fate was not going to let us be together. “Tarot are those spirits ever wrong?”

“Sometimes, but that is rarely ever the case.”

“Well...” well what? What could I say, my mind was blank. What could I do? “Who needs fate, we can defy it together right?”

“Peanut you're too sweet,” she smiled, “but, I'm not allowed to defy fate, nor are you, that's why there's this plan just, just...let me show you.”

Her eyes began to glow green and slowly the room turned black. Save for a small circle of light, a circle of light where I was standing. Tarot had vanished.

“Tarot, just talk to me.”

“Patience Peanut, patience.” Her voice came from the cavernous darkness, layered with the voices of thousands of others. In the distance I could see another light forming. I squinted at it, tried to figure out what it was. In the middle I could barely make out an image. “Be warned, I could get into severe trouble because of this, but there is no fixing anything unless I take drastic measures.”

The light exploded and lit up the world around me. There in front of me was an empty canvas.

“There is no such thing as pure coincidence. There are ulterior motives to every thing, good or bad, that happens to you. Every mortal is a single brush stroke manipulated to fit exactly where they should go by a single artist. Now imagine there are two artists working here on that painting.”

Three paint brushes materialized and began working in the canvas. I tilted my head watching the metaphor come to life.

“They have a vision for how the world should look. These artists, these creators. Yet there is rarely a time where they agree. There are a million ways to paint a picture, a million styles, a million brushes and methods.”

The brushes became erratic as they fought for spots on the canvas. Slowly a painting began to form, but it was strange. It looked like it was painting my portrait but it was divided into parts. One had brash colors, stark lines. The other had colder color tones and had very free form strokes.

“Now mortals are much more complicated than brush strokes. Imagine if even after being placed, the strokes could change color, move position, do what they feel. Imagine that the artist has to fight to keep the right strokes where they need to be.”

The painting began morphing and deforming, a wave of colors fluctuated endlessly through the oil based paints. Then one of the brushes began to paint over a couple of spots on the painting. Slowly things began to stabalize.

“Peanut, you must realize that as a rather special brush stroke you have a certain place you need to be, and you need to fulfill it, lest the big picture ends up all but ruined. And that's not good for you. Not good for any one.”

“Then where do I need to be Tarot?” No answer. Why was she so cryptic? It was upsetting me even more. “Tarot!”

“Wake up Peanut.”

Grape gave me a strange look. “Then what happened?”

“Well I woke up, and all I had with me was the picture I took. On the back it said 'I'm sorry,' and that was that. She left me, all in the same instant I wanted stability. I had no idea where to go next. I was honestly scared.”

“Why have you never told me this before?”

“I'd rather you not think I'm insane.”

Grape took a long thoughtful look at the picture. “What was your next call?”

I turned the page and stopped on a picture that had jut her. She was wearing her best sly smile. A hand on her hip and her tail curled up in a bemused manner.“Figure out what would win you over.”


~~

EDIT: Hey all, for those who might be rereading or just now reading, I'm going through and revising my writing. Just to iron out some kinks and mistakes, and hopefully give it an overall better "flow."

And thus the story continues. Thanks all for reading and thus far commenting. I'm kinda new to the housepets fandom and I appreciate the corrections in consistency.

Anywho, happy reading ladies and gentleman.

_________________
At the end of the day I often think about what I have done for the world. What I have changed, perhaps made better or worse. I then sit at a computer for hours and look at pictures of cats.

RP Character:
Lucky Abbot: S-9 P-6 E-7 C-6 I-7 A-4 L-3


Last edited by Honorable Intentions on Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:18 pm, edited 3 times in total.



Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:10 pm
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Ooo, looking good! I am liking it so far!

I wonder how upset Dragon was when they broke up with Peanut... :roll:

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Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:41 pm
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
another installment of epic sweetness! :D :D :D
Two notes from me: 'mean time' and 'every thing' are supposed to be single words.
And about Tarot...Ok, ok, I have never been really keen about the spirit thing interfering directly in a development. Tarot could have broken up with Peanut without fancy special effects and cryptic references, especially because that now opens the road to a potential ever larger interference.
But I'll wait and read...

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Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:57 pm
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Awesome... CRYPTICMESSAGESROCKYEEAAHH!!!

..poor Tarot, she really did love Penut, but Ms. Destiny had other plans for him :oops:

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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
wow, you're good! this is getting exciting! Nice chapter though I feel a bit sorry for Tarot, I hope she could find her special being too

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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Way Back Machine

Part 2: Scenes from a Feline Restaurant

Okay to be quite honest, figuring out what would win Grape over was not the very first thing that crossed my mind. Breaking up was not something I was particularly used to, and the fact that some abstract concepts and cosmic nerds had preordained said breakup made it all the more distressing.

It was late at night when I had awoken from the psychic induced slumber. The moon was hidden slightly behind black velvet clouds in the night sky. I cared little about the hour, I wanted some sort of answer. I assumed Tarot was going to be hard to find, what with her abrupt good bye. There had to be someone else. A confidant. A person she trusted or lived with. Then, suddenly, I realized someone fit that description. Why had it not hit me sooner? She had an acquaintance of sorts. A witch, a gypsy, skilled in a craft long since lost. And I knew she was not going to be gone any time soon, due in part to a certain police dog. That cat, was Sabrina. And I knew she was going to be my best bet, better yet, she was probably awake at that late hour. Cats being nocturnal creatures and all.

I left my house that night with my mind set on confrontation. I deserved to know. What I deserved to know was still a little unclear in my head, but I knew I was not getting the whole story.

I could only wonder where she might be at such an hour. I did know that any cat, be they in posh standings or walking the stray cat strut, had a certain allure to the night life. Cats by their nature were not social animals. Yet when the moon went up and the parents were away, the cats came out to play. The only problem was that I was not all too familiar with the neighborhood hotspots. The only one I was really knew by name was Heathcliff's. It was the big one, the place to be, and despite the fact that Heathcliff is not only the name of a cat, but is also the name of a guy who couldn't get the girl, it attracted quite a few couples on a good weekend. I was hoping that if she wasn't there, someone there would know where she would be.

Upon arriving at Heathcliff's I found the aroma of fish to be overpowering, it was Saturday and that was when most restaurants threw away the week old “catch of the day.” Cats loved Saturday and Sunday for this very reason. Not exactly sure what the attraction was to a cat, old fish never had a very pleasing smell in my book. I approached the Maitre d' attempting to not stick out like a dog at a cat's hangout. I leaned a little on the desk, er, crate, and took a deep breath. I was already getting weird looks from the patrons. A dog there on fish night was something they only heard of in fairy tales I think.

“Excuse me,” I felt so small in that crowd, even though I was a head taller than most if not all of the cats there, “but do you know if a certain cat has checked in here, her name is Sabrina, about this tall, black fur. She's kind of a friend of mine.”

“Why yes of course!” Suddenly she looked a little distressed as she looked at the list. “You wouldn't happen to be a Mr. Peanut Butter Sandwich would you?” The Maitre d' glanced down at her list of guests.

“Yeah that's me.” I nodded. “How did you know that was my name?”

“You had a reservation made out yesterday, at least that's what the paper says. I have a feeling there hasn't been a mix up, because there's probably not a single cat out there with a name like Peanut Butter Sandwich, no offense.”

Too confused to really feel any offense, I simply shrugged. “Well, show me to my table then.” It looked like Sabrina was expecting this.

“Right this way, Mr. Sandwich.” She nodded and picked up a menu. “Don't take this the wrong way but I really thought you were going to be a cat, even with the name. Not that dogs are completely strange here, but on fish night?”

I never caught her name, but she was kind of sweet. Very talkative, always tripping over her words. Trying her best not to scare off a customer. I would nod, speak a few times to give her the impression I was listening intently. However my mind was in a different place at that very moment.

“Okay, here's your table. Have fun you guys.” And with that she was gone almost instantaneously.

I sheepishly took a seat, sitting before me was a sleek black cat with piercing yellow eyes and a collar to match.

“Let me take a wild guess, you predicted I would want answers and you knew I would come here.” I said. Way to be upfront, I told myself. I liked being assertive.

“Not bad Sherlock.” She nodded, she didn't crack a smile, not even a sarcastic one. “I'm just glad all of this happened on fish night, so at least one of us could be happy.”

“What's that supposed to mean?”

“It means I have some bad news with some more bad news. First, Tarot and the dragon are in a little celestial trouble over you,” Sabrina replied, “I tried to convince the both of them that it was stupid to try and interfere. But avatars and Gods are all so stubborn.”

I raised my brow a little. “She got in trouble?”

“It's all legal trouble. Someone in the system has had it with the constant disregard to spiritual policy when it comes to mortal fate.”

“You make it sound like this happens all the time.”

“What makes you think it doesn't?”

I bit my bottom lip and tilted my head. “Wait if it happens all the time, why did she get in trouble?”

Sabrina sighed and drummed her fingers on the table. “Because it's happened too much lately. Earth has a 'schedule' so to speak. Every universe does. Dragon and two others. Pete, I'm sure you are familiar with, and the Kitsune, who I am not so sure you are familiar with, have profoundly messed with the schedule. Their constant interference and letting mortals in on everything with wanton disregard to the system has led to a large chunk of fate to be scrambled with.”

“So...my fate has been messed up?”

“Yes, and normally when this happens and gets out of control, standard procedure is to wipe out all sentient life and start over again.”

My eyes widened at the prospect as my jaw dropped a little.

“Don't worry it's still 'fixable' at this point. The last thing anybody out there wants is to wipe out Earth.”

“I guess that's a relief.”

“Now the rest of the bad news, we really have no solution to fixing your fate. Our only option is to let things play out on the path they are going. If there is any more celestial influence and things go further off course, mortals may bring about their own apocalypse.”

“And we don't want that.”

“No we don't.” She nodded. “So then you understand?”

Then out of the blue, a lone voice came from my darkness and the night. “Hey you two, can I get your order.”

I nearly jumped out of my skin. I had been totally engrossed in my conversation that I had not realized I was still at Heathcliff's. I turned a little to the waiter. “Just a root beer please.”

“You come here on fish night and you only get a root beer?” Sabrina smirked.

“I like root beer.”

Perhaps it was the root beer talking, but Sabrina, when not being a mystic, was easy to relate to. Up until that point she had always been a friend of a friend. I never got to know her beyond simply being Tarot's roommate and Fido's current lover. Turns out she's got fairly normal interests and causes she fights for. Well normal in the respect that they don't decide the ultimate fate of alternate dimensions.

“So that mouse on Fido's head, do you have any idea what that's about?” I asked her.

“Oh you've noticed?” She tilted her head.

“Kind of hard not to, he looks like a kook arguing things like talk radio and semantics by himself, but I noticed a little gray figure on his head one day.”

“I told him to take care of this little mouse since I was expected to be rid of it but I couldn't. Let's just face it, I can't hurt another living creature like that.” She shrugged. “Knowing that everything has a soul and me being personally responsible for sending it on to the next life prematurely would never sit well with me.”

“Even if it's a mouse, you know coming from you, the only thing surprising about that is the fact it doesn't involve psychic powers and ghosts.” I chuckled. “So how are you and Fido getting on together?”

She shot me a very strange glance. “What?”

Whoops. I frowned a little. The cat was coming out of the bag so to speak. “I mean, just forget I said that.”

“Peanut, you're a terrible liar.”

I bit my bottom lip. I knew Grape was going to kill me once she found out I told Sabrina. “I kind of saw you, and Fido, together when he came home from the academy.”

“You...” She had to hush herself and bring her voice down. “You what? Not so loud please.”

“I know you and Fido are together okay? I have for years now. I thought you would know I knew, because you could see the future and things like that.”

“I only know what I am allowed to see.” She whispered. “Peanut have you told any one else? Was anybody else there?”

“Just Grape, and she's not about to talk about it to anybody.”

Sabrina calmed herself a little and rubbed her temples.

“If it makes you feel any better, I was crushing on Grape for the longest time.” I gave her a smile of reassurance. She looked up at me and raised her eyebrow.

“I don't think I ever needed to be psychic to see that.” Sabrina smirked a little. “You two aren't very subtle.”

“Why do psychics always say that.” I muttered. “Wait you knew?”

“I'm sure everyone out there with half a brain can see you are attracted to her.”

“I was attracted to her.” I folded my arms a little. “I'm past that now.”

Sabrina feigned surprise. “Really?”

“Well I was going to get serious with Tarot, I mean we've been dating forever now, but, spirit stuff happened.” I rolled my eyes. “Stupid spirit stuff...I think I'm done with this relationship thing. I mean my first love is a cat and then she drops me so she can socialize with her own kind, and then my next love is a dragon and a Pomeranian and they drop me over 'fate.'”

“Peanut, you're being a little loud.”

I felt my face get hot as I glanced around. I could feel the other patron's stares burn into my back. I sunk in my chair a little and let my head rest on the makeshift table. “Ugh I can only imagine what they think of me right now out there.”

“I bet they don't even care, you worry too much about what others think.” Sabrina shrugged.

“Says the cat who has been hiding her relationship for years.” I glanced up at her.

“I...touche pooch, touche. I guess we're both guilty of hiding.” Sabrina smiled a little. “You know, since rarely am I one-upped and I like you, I'll give you a tip on romance. Sometimes you need to think like a cat to win over a cat, some things you dogs do drive us crazy.” She winked at me.

“I told you I wasn't interested in Grape any more.”

“For some reason I don't believe you.” Sabrina shrugged. “Besides it's just a start, go ahead, give it a try and see how different any cat will treat you.”

“You might have something there.” I furled my brow in thought. “Sounds almost too easy.”

“It really is, we as pets just like to complicate things because it's in our nature.” Sabrina nodded. “Now go home and get some rest. You've had a long night.”

“Okay, well, thanks for clearing things up for me.”

“No problem, oh and Peanut.”

“Yes?”

“Tell Max I said hi when you see him.”

“Wait what?”

“Bye Peanut.” Sabrina smiled and waved a little. I waved back and left. I had a sneaking suspicion I was not getting any sleep when I got home.

Maxwell was another hurtle I had to overcome. I always saw him as a friend, it was always fun to invite him over for a session for “imaginate.” Yet Sabrina was right, I was not anywhere near being over Grape. It was easier to say I was then to act that way. In fact with Tarot leaving only pushed this further. I really did not have any other girls I had my eye on in the neighborhood. It dawned on me Max had become competition that night.

I took a long thoughtful walk home. I really did not have any other girl to turn to. Tarot really understood me because she could read into me quite literally, and now she was gone. Grape, well she had lived with me so long, she knew me better than I knew me at times.As a friend she would always give me the right advice. We fought occasionally, but in the end we were still glad to have each other. I remember so many years back that she told me we were always more than friends. Yet we were still just friends.

Something had to change between us if I wanted more than friends. I could easily treat her like a cat would want to be treated. First I had to recognize my annoying habits. Get her opinion to change them, and then, well I would make it up the rest of the way.

I ran up to my house, ready to go ask her about what bugged her, I took a deep breath. Readied my voice to go talk to her.

“Wait a second.” I muttered. “If she's napping leave her alone.” I resigned to myself I would change for Grape, anything to win her over.

I ran up to the door and gently opened it. Only for it to fly open into my face. I yelped and stumbled backwards. My paw clumsily reached up at my nose as I fell off of the porch and knocked my head on a stone in the grass. For a moment there I think I lost consciousness.

“Peanut? Are you alive?” It was a male voice, muffled by my dazed state, from the smell of it cat. Slight hint of Bino on it too. Yup that was Max.

“I think so.” I was still outside, the air was cool and the sun was yet to come out. My limbs were stiff and the back of my head was sore. I drew my fingers along my skin, an egg sized lump was nestled in my fur. “Wait a sec, what are you doing at my house?”

“Funny story about that,” he turned a little back towards the house, “hey Grape I found him.”

“Peanut?”

She quickly joined Maxwell and myself on the lawn. Call it intuition but she looked a little mad at the time.

“See what did I tell you, he was fine this whole time, doing...well I dunno what dogs do...”

“I was at Heathcliff's.”

“See, he was hanging out at Heathcliff's with his dog friends,” he bit his own tongue and looked over at me, “Heathcliff's? On fish night?”

“I don't know any other cat places.” I said as I rubbed the back of my head.

“Peanut why didn't you tell me where you were going? I was worried about you.” Grape snapped.

“Why were you worried? I go out at night all the time.”

“I thought you went off and did something stupid, I heard about the breakup and you're so emotional.”

“Grape, relax, I went to talk things out with a friend. All of it's cleared up.” I smiled and walked inside. Much to my surprise was an unexpected guest. “Oh jeez you aren't serious are you.”

In the living room was Officer Lindberg. Mom and dad were sitting on the couch. An air of tension gripped the scene, their faces so stern. Grape looked down a little, a hint of blush in her face. They were lost in their conversation, on the table were a few cups of coffee. A few empty ones too.

“I'm sure we'll find him Mr. and Mrs. Sandwich, we've got our best dogs out looking for him.”

That explained why I had not heard about my missing person status until recently. Dogs looking for dogs would never check Heathcliff's. “Uh, did I miss something?”

“Hey I found him, beat that K-9.” Max added with a wry tone of voice.

“I wasn't ever 'lost' to begin with.” I snapped. “Can't a guy get a little fresh air once in awhile.”

At that very moment I realized Grape was hiding her face and trying to back out of the room. I had a feeling she was not too keen on being a center of attention. Especially if she made a silly mistake. I took a deep breath and looked over at my parents. “You guys really thought I was in trouble?”

“Well it was your little cat friend that said you were in trouble, and according to your parents they take her word over anything when it comes to you.” Officer Lindberg laughed loudly as he pulled out his radio. “Hey boys, call off the search, we found him.”

“Grape was convinced you had run away, after she found out Tarot had broken up with you.” Mom nodded.

“And well I was a kid once, girls can make a guy do stupid things sometimes.” Dad added as he sipped some coffee on the table.

I looked down a little. Now it was my turn to feel a little bad. I had made them all feel just a little worried. Even if it was just something silly, they were still scared. Really I could not blame them. Stranger things had happened in Babylon Gardens before. PETA kidnappings and horror stories like that seemed to keep pet friendly people on edge about their missing pets. Part of me felt loved, they actually called in all the big guns when they thought I was in trouble.

“Sorry for the trouble, Officer.”

“So long as you aren't in any real trouble, then I'm happy. I hate being the bearer of bad news over things like this.” Officer Lindberg yawned as he glanced at his watch. “You might want to go apologize to your cat friend though, she seemed more worried than any one in here combined.”

Grape was that worried about me? I did not ever recall her ever reacting like that about me, ever. Then again I never really gave her reason to. I looked to where she had been standing earlier, but I realized then she was gone. I looked over at Max, a sense of helplessness in my eyes. He shrugged and frowned.

“I had better go find her, she's probably mad at me,” I muttered under my breath and walked out of the room. “Oh Max, by the way, Sabrina said hello.”

I wasn't there long enough to hear his response, but the look of confusion and some sort of realization on his face had always stuck with me. My first instinct was to check her room. She would always hide in there and block the door when she was upset with me.

I slowly opened her door, “Grape?” I asked in the best apology voice I could muster. “Hey about earlier, I'm sorry okay?”

No response. I opened the door all the way and looked around the room. She was nowhere to be seen. Her bed was neatly made, and all of the furniture was still in place. With a sigh I left the room. Wondering where else she could be. I spent a good thirty minutes running around the house, calling her name. Looking for her. The linen closet, the bathroom, any doors with locks on them I tested. I checked the backyard, I checked mom and dad's room.

All of them roughly the same, no sign of Grape anywhere.

Dejected I walked back to my room. The first night I would start trying and win Grape over and I somehow screwed it up. I slumped into my bed and stared at the picture of Tarot I had taken earlier that evening. It bothered me. How fast things changed from that moment. How complicated things were and just how sudden they were. I held it close to my heart and stared at my ceiling. Relationships were hard. Especially when things aren't really “normal.” Yet in the end, I blamed myself.

I blamed myself for not being “normal.” That I somehow engineered myself into this slump. I began to think, that perhaps, just perhaps, Bino had the right idea all along. Though he was a little brash about it, dogs and cats could never really get along like that. Cats liked cats that way, dogs like dogs that way, and there was something inherently wrong with a dog liking a cat that way. It was like an equation that would never add up right.

I looked out of my window and held my pillow close. Lonely, more than anything, I felt lonely. Then, something caught my eye outside. It was a little subtle, but it still grabbed my attention. Something in the shadow the house cast onto the yard. At one point there appeared to be the distinct shape of a cat's head.

There was still one last place I had not yet tried.

Clambering up the side of my house I must admit was not one of the smartest things I had ever done. I poked my muzzle over the top of the roof and took great care in securing my footing. Sitting there with her arms wrapped around her knees, was Grape.

“Graaape!” I called over to her, trying to hoist myself onto the side of the roof. Her ears perked up a little as she turned to me. With a yelp I felt my legs slip, in an instant I felt my body go into free fall. The only thing going through my mind at that moment was how much it was going to hurt to hit the ground.

She grabbed my right paw and caught me mid fall. I was dangling on the side of my house, legs frantic in their search for stable footing. I reached up with my free hand and grabbed the edge of the roof and (with her help) pulled myself up.

“Sheesh you're heavier than I thought.” She groaned and rubbed her shoulder.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Peanut, you almost fell two stories from the top of the house, I should be asking you that.”

“Oh, well, sorry.”

She closed her eyes and sighed. “Whatever, it's fine. Nobody got hurt.”

“I mean I'm sorry for earlier, with Officer Lindberg.” I stuttered a little. “And I'm sorry for leaving tonight without telling anybody. I wasn't thinking too much.”

“It's fine.” She frowned and looked down at her paws.

“You don't sound too convinced.” I scooted a little closer to her.

“I overreacted Peanut, and I don't overreact, that's your job.”

“Hey we're only human, er, animals.”

“I guess when I found out Tarot broke it off with you...”

“How did you find out?”

“Tarot told me that she was going to.” Grape looked at her claws a little. “I was not too far from snapping at her, she was taking it far too easy, like she wasn't just about to break my best friend's heart.”

I bit my bottom lip, feeling a sense of relief that Grape had not used her claws on my ex.

“Then I didn't see you at all the whole day, I checked high and low for you, and all you had on your bed was a note that said sorry.” Grape wrapped her arms around her knees and kept her eyes low. “I really thought you went and did something stupid like run away, or worse.”

I was not sure I could see tears in her eyes, but later she would tell me that she at least thought about crying around then. Up until that point it never really occurred to me what it meant to be “more than friends” with Grape. The only times I had seen her that upset was any moment her old life as a stray was put on the table.

An abandoned stray. It made more and more sense why she was upset. She thought I had abandoned her.

Against all rational thought, knowing fully well that she might hit me, might yell at me, I hugged her. Inside the Grape that everyone knew on a day to day basis, was little Princess Periwinkle at the shelter. Not knowing whether or not she was going to have a family again. Knowing that any moment her family could disappear. Lovers, or not, I was as close to her as one. I understood, I was more than friends. “I'd have to be crazy to not want to be a Sandwich any more. It's too much fun.” She smiled softly, I scratched behind her ear a little. She liked it when mom and dad did that, I hoped it would calm her down. A small purr escaped her lips as I felt her body relax in my arms. We sat there like that for a moment, enjoying a welcome sense of calm.

“Peanut?” She asked me, her voice so quiet it was nearly nonexistent.

“What were you doing at Heathcliff's?”

I turned the page of the scrap book and yawned loudly as I gently scratched behind Grape's ears. We slumped into the couch a little as I looked into her eyes. “Well you know how that went.”

She playfully dragged her claws across my cheek. Just enough for me to feel the scratch. “I think I kept my cool rather well.”

“That you did, though your mind might have been too preoccupied to be mad that I dropped a secret we had kept for so many years.”

“So Juliet, how did you go about courting a cat.” Grape stuck her tongue out a little. I rolled my eyes.

“It wasn't easy, Romeo, I did have competition to deal with, though I think that I had gained a bit of an advantage that night.”

I slowly turned the page, glued on the page was something a little different than the digital pictures. It was a little rough around the edges, but charming in a way so I had been told. Grape smiled wide and laughed.

“Oh Peanut I definitely remember that.”

~~

Nice to see you again my fair readers. In this installment I paid a little homage to, what I imagine to be, a personal favorite story among Grapenut fans. As always, feel free to critique, comment, hate, like, sort of not like, mildly enjoy, or maybe even love this story.

As always, happy reading, and I bid you adieu.

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Sat Nov 10, 2012 3:19 am
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
adieu? WHY Adieu?
Keep up the awesome, don't leave us!

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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
valerio wrote:
adieu? WHY Adieu?
Keep up the awesome, don't leave us!


Sorry it's only a temporary adieu. :lol:

The story isn't finished just yet! I wouldn't leave it hanging like that.

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Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:34 pm
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
You better not leave it hanging like that.

It's coming along very well. A few mistakes, a place or two that could have been written better, but nothing that takes away from the enjoyment. I'm real interested to see where you take this.

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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
A very nice update! Cute and sweet, with just enough emotion.

Yeah, a few things off here and there, but nothing too big.

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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Way Back Machine

Part 3: Knowledge and Reason Change By the Season (Peanut)

I could not stop the smile creeping on my face even if I tried when I saw that old picture. It had pen that outlined the edges of the subject while colored pencil filled it in, each stroke made with care so as not to break the outline. Shaded with delicate finesse. All of it preserved in plastic lamination.

At the bottom, in big bold green marker, it read: “Merry Christmas!”

“Best present I got that year.” She looked up at me and stroked my cheek.

“You weren't lying to me when you said you liked it?” I looked at Grape sheepishly.

“If I didn't like it you would know.” She gently punched my shoulder, her eyes were focused on the picture.

That Christmas my world changed forever.

But before I get ahead of myself I should set the stage about a month back, to November. Tarot had been gone for about a week at that point. Grape and Max were still seeing each other and I had only been taking subtle steps at winning her back.

There was always a voice in the back of my head telling me just to quit. I was being irrational and grabbing at straws that did not exist. Grape and Max were meant to be, they had so much in common.

Yet, if they were meant to be, why had they taken so long to do anything serious? That was in fact the question that kept me going. Something in there had built up indecision. Maybe on her part, maybe on his. Though what would stop her I wondered.

I had convinced myself that I was the reason she was not going to push her relationship with Maxwell any further. A stupid and selfish romantic thought as it may well be, it still kept me determined in winning her back. Had I given up I am certain I would be Uncle Peanut the kids saw on Christmas years later.

My tactics were carefully planned. I turned into an observer for the whole week after my breakup with Tarot. Grape loved naps, and I let her be when she took them. Trust me, it was hard. As a dog I had anxiety issues. Whenever I saw someone at the door I would make sure to announce someone was there. If there was something amiss I would try and inform anyone present. Even if I simply wanted attention, I would feel anxiety and would go to the first person I know would hear me out.

Any little remark she said about my habits I would take into consideration. When she did not remark I would watch her body language and try to keep track of things. I studied the neighborhood cats to figure out what the male cats, to figure out just what she saw in guys. Oddly enough I used Max as my main source of observation in that regard.

What was he doing that I couldn't? I always asked myself.

Well for one he was witty, sarcastic, a ladies cat to the core. He was a bad boy that carried himself with class. This was a pattern I had observed in most male cats. All in all it sounded simple to follow. Except for the bad boy part. I had been taught since I was a pup that when I was a “good boy” I would get a pat on the head, a treat, and belly rubs. Apparently being bad was what I needed to gain an edge.

I remember one day I was sitting on the sofa with Grape watching a television show of some sort. I could not recall what it was we were watching, but I do know she liked it. While I did not care one way or the other about it, I knew that when she liked something, occasionally Max would rag on it just to get her going.

“I don't see what you like about this stuff, the characters are really boring.” I couldn't even remember the main characters name, let alone critique it, but I did elicit a slight reaction.

She raised an eyebrow at me, and kind of ignored it. I was half paying attention to the show, looking for something else to say. Though I really did not care enough to hate it for any real reason. I started wondering how Max pulled this sort of thing off.

Eventually I started saying general things, they were mean spirited, but general enough to where I did not have to pay attention. “Do the writers think I was born yesterday? That was so stupid.”

Grape remained quiet, she tried to ignore me. Though I knew she couldn't for much longer. I opened my mouth to speak again.

“Before you even think about it, why are you still even here?” She snapped. I let my mouth hang a little, all words caught in my throat. “If you don't like it just get out.”

I didn't say anything for the rest of the time I was there. I bit my bottom lip, that conversation had left a bad taste in my mouth and a rotten feeling in my stomach. How did Max get away with that at all? When the show was done and over, Grape looked at me, she did not have to say a word to let me know she was mad. In the week or two that I had observed, I had never done anything to get that reaction from her.

The good boy inside me wanted to apologize, to go and tell her I was just trying to be a tough guy. But I realized I needed to do the opposite if I wanted results.

That evening I decided to go eavesdrop on her conversations to see if I was making any progress. I saw that she was on the phone, so I picked up another that was laying around the house and listened in on the conversation. I held my hand over the mouthpiece and tapped my foot impatiently.

“Hello, this is Bino speaking.”

“It's Grape, is Max there?” Her voice sounded a little choked, tense, for lack of a better word.

“Oh, you.” Bino sighed. “Yeah I'll go get him.”

A few moments, all I could hear was breathing from our end of the line.

“Hello?” And there he was.

“Hey, it's me.”

“Well hey, if it isn't my Grape Jelly Bean, to what do I owe the pleasure...”

“Max not right now.”

“Yikes, okay so this is a serious call.”

She still sounded mad. I leaned against the wall with the phone pressed tight against my ear.

“I need some help, with Peanut.”

“Did he get his head stuck in something?”

“Well he's acting like his head is stuck far up someplace I don't want to talk about.” Grape said, the bitter tone in her voice shot straight at my doggy heart.

“Explain?”

Grape's voice cracked. “I feel like he avoids me whenever possible, he's always wandering around the house and just stares at me when I'm in the room. When he does talk to me, he just acts like a jerk.”

“Breaking up makes guys do weird things, sorry to say it.”

“But I feel like he's taking it out on me!”

Max was silent on his end for a moment. What had gone wrong? I took Sabrina's advice, was I doing it right? Or was I missing something?

“I guess give him some time, he still has to get over himself.”

They thought I was dealing with Post Breakup Stress disorder. At least Max did. Now to be fair, I was. A little crazy, a little lonely, and the one girl I had loved at one point in my life was taken. The one word that might describe me best at that point was desperate. My usual standards had been sacrificed to somehow win over Grape. What little good it did me.

“Alright Maxie...”

“I've been where he's at, he just needs a little air.” Max replied. “Love you.”

“Love you too, we still up for tonight?”

I gently put the phone on the receiver and ran away. That was too much. I had only pushed her farther away from me and that very night she was going to him for comfort. I had sealed their fate together, pushing them only closer. Was that my new fate? The new path I was on?

It sickened me, to the core. Maybe at one point I would have made it with her. Maybe if Tarot had made some different choices. But I could not blame her for my short comings or my troubles. I did not act in time, and I missed my chance. That was it. Should have, could have, would have.

My bed was my sanctuary at this point. Whatever advantage I had built on the roof had disappeared. Now I was lost again. Questions swirled around in my mind. Should I rethink my strategy? Or just give up? Go find Sabrina? There were so many options. Yet I felt like it was too late for anything at this point. I buried my head under my pillow.

I've said it once before, and I will say it again, relationships are hard.

“Peanut?” Said Grape. Her voice was muffled slightly behind my door. I kept silent, just held my head under the pillow. “Look I know you are in there, and I just want to talk.” I remained perfectly silent. Part of me just wanted to be left alone. Part of me wanted to run out there and hug her, tell her how sorry I was. I just sat there caught in my indecision.

“I know you were listening to Max and me on the phone, come on Peanut, please let me in.”

I poked my head out of the pillow. Unsure of my next move, but wanting more than anything to just do that. To just talk. I eventually caved in. “The door's unlocked.”

My door slowly pushed forward as she slipped into the room. Taking care to shut the door behind her, she took gentle steps towards me and sat at the edge of my bed. I looked up at her and kept my head low, my ears fell back and my tail was down low.

“I'msosorryIwasjustryingtoIdunnoandplease-”

“Shh, slow down a little okay? I'm not mad at you.”

I took a breath and tired to keep my heart rate steady.“Don't hate me.”

“I don't hate you, I just want to talk, about Tarot.”

My mouth wanted to say words but nothing came out.

“You've always been a sensitive guy, and I know that, probably better than anyone else. But, I guess I did not see how much her breaking it off with you hurt you.”

Speak Peanut, just speak. I was tearing myself up inside. But I could not speak. Words would not form.

“I've been taking all the stuff you've been doing way too personally, and that's my fault...”

“It's not about Tarot!” I finally blurted out. She stopped talking and frowned. “I was just trying to act more like a cat so you would like me more.”

It did not take her long to catch on at all. “Oh jeez Peanut.”

“I've been trying to stay out of your naps, been trying to be a tough guy, been avoiding all of my bad habits. Sabrina said that if I treated you more like a cat would want to be treated you would warm up to me better.”

Grape rubbed her temples a little. “Sabrina said that? What were her exact words?”

I could hardly remember at that very moment. My mind was stressed and I was freaking out. “She said that dogs do things cats really hate, and that I should stop if I wanted to get your attention. So I started paying more attention to Max and seeing what he did.”

The gears in her mind were hard at work. Her brow raised a little in distress. She bit her bottom lip and took a deep breath. “I guess that explains a lot, but you want to know a little tip?”

“Yes please...”

“All you had to do was ask.” There was a certain look of frustration in her eyes. It colored her speech and articulation. I could tell she was upset with herself for bringing these old feelings back up.

“Then what do dogs do that cats really hate?” I asked, hoping it wasn't too late.

“It depends on the cat Peanut, we're not all the same, just like you aren't like all of the dogs out there.”

My eyes stayed low as I played with my thumbs.

Grape looked at me and poked my forehead. “You want to know what really bugs me?”

I nodded and tilted my head, in that way most quizzical dogs do.

“When you think not being Peanut is going to make me like you more.” I saw her finally smile a little. “You think I like it when Max is a jerk to me?”

“You go on dates all the time with him, and you love him more than me.” I felt like a small pup being lectured by his mother. The smile on her face disappeared instantly.

“How could you say that? Nix that, how dare you say that.” She folded her arms, I winced and felt my ears fall. She kept her voice at an even level, but that was even worse than yelling. “When Max is a jerk, sometimes I wish he would act more like you. There are a lot of things I love about both of you, don't act like I have to choose between you guys. You're both my special boys.”

But I was just the friend, that was what hurt. I knew that someday Max would want to have more. Just like me. Something more than little dates and occasional snuggles. I would watch on, knowing she was happy, but could I tell myself I would be happy anymore? Yet, as always, she had a point. I was being selfish, incredibly so.

This still needed addressing. Once and for all. “Grape, someday you have to choose.” I whimpered a little. “If it isn't me then I don't blame you, and I'll be happy for you. But you're wrong about one thing, you will have to choose someday.”

“Now you're being dramatic.”

“What do you tell Max when he wants to get serious? That you have two special guys and you can't?”

Grape was silent for a moment.

“I'm not forcing you to choose me, it would hurt if you didn't, but you can't please everybody.” I tried to hide the bitterness in my voice. “For what it is worth, I love you, and I only wish I could make you as happy as Max does. But I don't think I can. I don't know why I can't, I don't know what I need to be other than a cat.”

She looked shaken, in fact I felt just as shaken. I had never talked that way to her, and I felt sick for doing it. Yet I could not stop myself. It never occurred to me how much things had changed since I had last had this talk with her.

“Okay Peanut.” She said, her voice was suddenly small. There was not another word said between us for the rest of the evening.

Even at dinner we did not make so little as a bit of eye contact. Mom and dad were simply confused. But they did not want to interfere. I think they both knew the gist of things, but at the same time did not know enough to really understand. Looking back now, I should have said something to mom and dad about this whole problem. Let them understand me. But it's way too late now.

I was not there to see Grape off when she went on her date. For once in our lives there was a burdened air of hostility that went on past two hours. I had pushed her away, I was certain of it. I tried the advice and I failed at taking it. But things do happen for a reason. I had tried to convince myself that all of it was probably for the better. There were more girls out there. I could find another and I could be happy. We would make up later, Grape and I. And she would go with Maxwell. We would both end this love triangle once and for all.

That night was a painful one. I dug up my old copy of “All Dogs Go to Heaven.” The case had worn considerably since I had last used it for such an occasion. I always told myself that being able to cry when I was upset was good. At the end of any tragedy one is supposed to feel a sense of catharsis, and when all of the emotions had been released, I would feel better. Of course it rarely worked like that in practice when it came to Grape. I found it hard to believe that not too long before, Tarot was my girl. I was going to be happy. She was going to be happy. Then there had to be conflict, a schism.

I thought long and hard about why Tarot did it. I pondered her messy decision, paying scant attention to the characters on screen. Why she went and risked it all. She had to have known that breaking it off with me would only set me on a different and much more difficult path, not the one she had originally intended. She knew she was going to get in trouble and taken away to court. I was curled up in a ball in front of the TV, knees tucked into my chest. Last time when I had felt that way, Tarot had come to me when I wished for help. Fat lot of good that did for me.

“I just hope Grape is happy.” I eventually told myself. If that could count as a wish.

Soon enough the movie came to a close, and the ending credits screen began to scroll. I was crying again, but what dog doesn't cry at the end of that movie? After everything I had been through. I was back at square one, crying over the end credits of “All Dogs Go to Heaven.”

I laid my head on a pillow and closed my eyes. Slowly dozing off. I was no longer in a movie mood. At least Grape would be happy, I told myself over and over again she was happy. Max always did make her happy. I drifted asleep.

“You never told me the details of your date that night.” I looked at Grape and rested my paw on hers. She gave it a squeeze.

“It's not something I like to talk about.”

“Well we're all past it now, come on I've told you all about Tarot and me up until now.” I poked her forehead and chuckled.

“If you insist...”

Part 3.5: Knowledge and Reason Change By the Season (Grape)

The idea of keeping secrets in a relationship is most definitely a paradox. Most of us who have ever loved someone know that you cannot keep them when there is a significant other in the mix. A relationship built on secrets only pulls at the trust one has in their lover. Yet there are things Peanut will never know of me, and I of him. So long as we can feel shame there will always be secrets. And we will stop feeling shame the same day we stop feeling hungry, or the day we can go without sleep. It is just part of living.

I never told Peanut about my date with Max because there was so much hurt that night. There was a lot of pain between my special boys. It ate at me, knowing I was the reason for any sort of conflict there was between them. Peanut, the emotional time bomb that he is, could not hide his ill feelings. He was practically a grown dog at that point and he never quite outgrew the puppy I had come to know in my days as a Sandwich.

Not that Max was really any more subtle.

He had a lot to say about Peanut, and really dogs in general. Tolerant was the word he used to describe his behavior towards them at the time. He once told me that he doesn't hate dogs, they are sometimes too stupid to hate. He just pities them. Tolerant indeed.

I was not sure where I was going that night. The plan was to meet him at his house and he was going to show me a new place he had found. I had not heard anything of a new hangout or restaurant opening up, though I was one to avoid gossip and neighborhood chatter on purpose. Besides, the extra time alone only gave me a little longer to think.

Peanut's question to me, about Max being serious, was far from being a new one. I had asked myself once during our second year of dating. When it first popped into my head, I put it off as a silly question. Max and serious were two words one never used together in a sentence.

We were practically kittens back then though, fresh minds that had no idea what they wanted. Things should have changed.

Years later things had not changed much between us at all. Max still seemed like he did not know what he wanted. I loved him, very much. But Peanut asked the wrong person the wrong question. Ever since the thought of Max getting serious popped into my head, I always wanted him to make his move. I knew I could not force it. Forcing anything like that was a bad idea. So I waited.

And wait I did, for a long time.

Max was sitting on his front porch when I arrived, his neck wrapped in a navy blue scarf. The chill nighttime air was lithe, tousling our fur gently with a breeze. Leaves of all colors swirled and swayed across the lawn. Each let out an audible crunch beneath my feet as I approached Max.

“Hey, there you are! What took you?” Max galloped up to me, his gangly figure shivering slightly in the cold.

“It's only been like fifteen minutes.” I said to him.

“That's like forever when you have to sit in the cold.”

“Wear a coat then.” I shrugged as we began to walk again.

“And look like some pampered snob? I think not!”

Always thinking of what the tomcats would think. Sweaters and coats were for a momma's kitten. Not Max.

“I think you'd look cute in a coat.” I shot a playful glance at him as we walked on.

“Yeah well you'd say that if I was dressed in any old thing.”

“Not true, I'd only say 'I told you so' if I saw you covered in ice.”

Max shrugged and didn't say a word to defend himself. I took that as a victory and tallied it on my imaginary scoreboard.

“So what's this new place? I haven't ever heard of it before.”

“I have this cousin whose parents let him get away with whatever he wants. He's spoiled rotten and always has cats over at his place.”

“Sounds like the perfect place for a romantic evening.” I rolled my eyes.

“Hardy har, just relax I'm getting to the good part. His attic is open to the public and he has a little lounge set up there. It's the nicest set up I've ever seen. It's like a professional place, with a television and hot chocolate served up nice and hot.”

That did sound rather pleasing to my ears. I just hoped this cousin of his was not one of the types that needed pressure applied to his face to get the point. We went to the outskirts of Babylon Gardens. Close to a few large manor type houses built well over a hundred years ago. Perhaps it was the towering buildings, or maybe the fact that I rarely ventured to this side of the Gardens. I felt incredibly small and lost.

“You okay Grape?”

“Yeah, yeah I'm fine, let's keep going.” I tried to hide the hesitation in my voice. Anxiety was something I never got used to. I was much better at that point than when I was just a little kitten, but old feelings die hard.

Max nodded and led me to one of the large manor houses. I felt my neck grow sore from looking up at it. It had a Victorian feel to it, with its rounded corners and pastel colors. The lawn sprawled far from porch to fence. Though it looked rather unkempt. A cacophony of branches and leaves dotted the yard while vines that had perished in the cold hugged the fence surrounding the property. A striking statue of an angel sat in a fountain that looked as if it had not run for years.

“You sure we came to the right place?” I asked, feeling a chill run up my back.

“It looks better on the inside, trust me. Come on.” He grabbed my paw and dragged me across the yard to the side of the building. A ladder led straight up to the top window, which was slightly ajar. I could hear the faint rumble of music and chatter. Light glimmered through the glass.

Then up we went. Max scrambled up, muttering to himself about the cold. I was not too far behind. Eventually I clambered inside, a blast of warm air brushed my face. The music was soft, very mellow. Cats of all kinds were sitting around on chairs, a television was quietly playing reruns of “Pridelands: the series.” I sighed with relief, the place was nothing like it was outside.

“See what I tell you? Now come on, let's meet some cats.”

I had to admit that the evening from that point on was rather enjoyable. Most of the cats there were complete strangers to me. Some were strays, some lived next door. Some were not even from Babylon Gardens. It was daunting to see so many new people.

We warmed up to each other over a cup of hot chocolate, I felt almost like a rebel. Chocolate was the forbidden fruit for pets all around. Here I was drinking it without remorse. I knew I might regret it later but I was too distracted by the friendly conversation around me. No gossip, no wanton bragging, simple and fun chat about things like our favorite books or what we did at the semiannual Themepark Themepark day.

Amidst the crowd was a cat that had a striking resemblance to someone I knew. I had a feeling this guy was the cousin Maxwell was talking about. He approached the group I was happily conversing with and set his sights on me.

“Well I don't think I've seen you around here before.” He gave a small bow. “My name is Mayhew and this little place is my humble abode, I hope you're enjoying yourself thus far miss...”

“Grape.” He could tell I was a girl! That somehow felt vindicating. “I came here with your cousin.”

“Excuse me?”

“Maxwell, he said he was your cousin.”

“Oh I knew your name rang a bell.” He suddenly seemed a little less enthusiastic. “Your his date correct?”

“Yup, though I have no clue where he ran off to.” I blushed, I had somehow last track of my date.

“I'm sure he'll turn up, it would be a shame for him to leave a lovely lady cat all by yourself for the entire evening.” Matthew nodded. “Well enjoy yourself, if you need anything I will be around.”

“I'll keep that in mind, thanks.”

I felt bad for the guy, but that regular old casanova there could probably wrap a girl around his pinky if he wanted to. I almost fell for his charms myself, he did get bonus points for recognizing I was a girl. The evening progressed swimmingly, I was forgetting all of the days woes and problems.

Though I had not realized until later Max had disappeared. I could not find where he was or what he was doing. I asked around and no one said they had seen him. For a moment I started to panic. Wondering if he had been dragged off somewhere by some stranger. I knew first hand the kind of things petnappers did with stolen pets.

“Miss Grape, what is the matter?” Mayhew took a few long steps towards me.

“I still can't find Max, he's been gone all night.”

The black cat looked down. “Oh my goodness, please come sit down and we'll try and figure things out.”

“I'll stand thank you very much, I'm worried about him.”

“Hmm now that you mention it, I think I did see him leave the party.”

“Without telling me? All alone?” Something wasn't right, there was no doubt about that. “In that case I had better go out there and get him.”

“But it's so cold out, why don't you stay here where it's nice and warm and I'll send some of my boys to go fetch him for you.” Mayhew beckoned over to a cushion. “I'll get a drink, warm milk, my favorite.”

“Thanks but no thanks, I'm going to find him.” I stomped away to the window. I was not sure whether or not I felt mad or scared for Max. He had just up and left me there at the party. Then all of a sudden Mayhew starts making moves. I was suspicious, Maxwell did say something about him being spoiled rotten after all. I was tempted to go back and tell him if he wanted a girl he should hit on the ones that weren't taken, but I was too worried. I clambered down the ladder and ran off. Wondering where exactly Max could be.

I spent about ten minutes following the path home, looking for any sign of him. Then I spent more time running back and forth between his house and Mayhew's, calling his name. I woke a few dogs sleeping in their doghouses, and rather than yelling at me they were pointed me in the direction they thought they saw a cat. Despite their kindness the search was fruitless. He had up and disappeared.

Maxwell could have been dead, kidnapped, kidnapped and then fed to an alligator like he almost did when we were little kittens. My anxiety was running high.

“Stop it Grape you're better than this, stay calm, you saved him one time, and you can save him again. You're smart, you're clever, you're...talking to yourself.”

I fell to my knees and tried to figure out where he could have gone. Then I realized I had a witness, one that was not telling me the whole truth. Mayhew. Hopefully I could talk something out of him before punching him in the face.

“How did I know he was bad news...”

Little did I know just how much bad news.

When I crawled back into the party, things were just how I left it. No one had gone home, everyone was still yammering on. I was starting to wonder if this party actually had an end. I squeezed around every corner for any sign of Mayhew. He had up and disappeared as well. He knew I was going to be on to him.

That slimy rat knew I was coming.

I was livid, to the point of angry tears. I regained my composure and grabbed the nearest cat I could find. “Hey where's Mayhew, I need to speak with him.”

The cat I had grabbed winced a little, I realized I was crushing his arm. I eased the tension and blushed madly.

“Forget about it,” the cat shrugged at my silent apology, “Mayhew, I think he's actually out of the attic and in the house. He goes there for 'fresh air' as he puts it.”

“You don't realize how much of a help you've been, I would kiss you but I think I've freaked you out enough.”

“Like I said, forget about it.”

For some reason I had the impression he was on nip. Maybe everyone was there. It did not matter, I was finding that dirty rat of a cat and beating answers from him, Jack Bauer style.

After leaving the attic, I discovered that this house was just as ugly on the inside as it was out. It creaked and groaned, protesting my each and every step. Dusty paintings served as décor on the walls, and in some places the wall paper looked like it had been scratched at by none other than cats. Dim moonlight barely cut through grimy windows.

What a dump, and to think humans actually lived there.

I scoured the halls, checking each and every door. Scanning the rooms with careful precision. Nothing to be found anywhere. There were rooms full of old junk, I as was assuming storage. There were a couple of guest bedrooms that looked like they had not been touched since the 1900s . A bathroom or two that a cockroach would find offensive.

Humans did not live here. They could not have. Something was seriously wrong.

“...she wasn't buying it...”

There was a voice. Muffled by the walls. It sounded exasperated. I followed it closely, keeping my ears on the walls.

“She's a smart girl...”

I was getting closer and closer. My heart was pounding. I bit my bottom lip and neared a door that was slightly ajar. Flickering candle light spilled lazily into the hall way. I could see a shadows in the dancing light.

“You shoulda warned me she was gonna start lookin.”

That was Mayhew alright, but his posh fat cat accent had been dropped. It sounded a lot more urban to me. Like an alley cat. I decided I was going in hard and fast. I was not thinking, but I felt like I had no time to think. Max was probably in trouble and this Mayhew, or whoever he was, was trying to hurt him for some reason.

I grabbed a vase off of a worn table and threw open the door. With no remorse, I beaned a shadowy figure in the room with a right hook and pounced onto Mayhew. I held the vase above my head and barred my teeth at him.

“I'm going to count to three and if you don't spill the beans I'm going to bean you, what did you do with Maxwell!”

“Bwhaduh huh but I...”

“one...”

“no no no no....”

“two...”

“Please you don' wanna...”

“Two and a half...oh you're tempting me.”

“Grape! Stop!”

Max? I dropped the vase n surprise, accidentally onto Mayhew's chest. He let out a cry of pain as he rolled over. I turned around and saw Max, with a swollen eye.

“Max you're here, goodness what did they do to you.”

“Actually, you did that to me.” Max groaned as he rubbed his swollen eye.

“What are you talking about?”

“Oh boy this is going to be awkward to explain.”

I looked him in the eyes. I knew something was terribly wrong. I had from the start. Yet I had no idea what to expect at this point. Max looked away from me as he helped Mayhew up off the ground and dusted him off.

“First, meet my cousin, his real name is Jay.” Max pointed at the ruffled cat. “This house has been abandoned for thirty years, he and I had a plan to revamp it into a club.”

“Okay? Why hide it?”

“I'm getting there, things weren't supposed to go this way tonight. Someone decided to act a little too early.” He glared at Jay.

“Max you had better start explaining or I'm going to even out your face.”

“Grape, I want to say this in the nicest way possible, but I'm bored.”

“What...”

“With this relationship. I am bored. Things have been fun, but they haven't really changed. We go out on dates, we cuddle sometimes. It was the best thing in the world when we first started going out. I had someplace warm to go when dad locked me out, I had a friend I could count on.”

I was speechless. He was breaking up with me. I wasn't sure how this all fit together yet, but he was breaking up with me.

“Grape, I think you're awesome, you're hot, you're smart, but something just isn't clicking anymore. I was starting to realize I could not imagine keeping it up for the rest of my life. Dates were fun, snuggles were fun, but they got boring.”

“So why all of this? I would have appreciated a little, I don't know, honesty, straightforwardness, something. Not this mess.”

“I wanted you to break up with me first, so I tried engineering a plan to get my buddy here a girlfriend (I owe him) and to get you to fall head over heels for him so you would dump me.” Max paced around. “It was the perfect plan, I had everything you liked, invited people with your interests, taught this poor sap here every last romantic fantasy you have ever had, to try and win you over. I wanted to do this without you getting hurt.”

I could not look him in the eye. I was torn up. A burning sensation ripped through my chest. I wanted to blacken his other eye so bad at that point.

“For what it's worth, I'm sorry. I just wanted to protect you.”

“What did you mean by bored?” I tried to keep my voice level. “Why did things get boring?”

“I feel like you want to take things too far with me, and if you do that I get tied down. I don't want to be tied down. I want to run around and live my life. I don't want kids I need to worry about. I don't want a wife to tell me when or what I can do. It was fun to have someone to snuggle, a place to go when I needed help, but where you want to take things, it's not the life for me.”

“For the record, I'm still interested,” Jay smiled.

“Thanks, but no thanks.” I bitterly slammed the door behind me and ran home, not knowing what to think or what to do. The way Peanut was acting I wasn't even sure I wanted to be with him either. I wasn't sure I wanted anything to do with relationships any more. I felt like I got close, I thought things would work out between Max and I.

"Grape wait!" Max called out to me.

I promptly started running faster and ignored him.

Turns out in the end Max was afraid of the ball and chain. At the time, I wished he would have talked about it. Told me his fears. Instead of hiding it. I asked myself if I really was that scary. That guys avoided things like that for fear I would knock them senseless? I wasn't always like that. Max knew that.

Why did he avoid me?

I knew how Peanut felt when Tarot broke it off with him that very moment. Things did not make any sense. One moment I was waiting for the day he would make my life wonderful, I could have him move in, and he'd never get locked out of his house again. Then seconds later my relationship was snapped in two. Just like Peanut all I was left with was a handful of questions.

I cried on my way home. Overreacting was Peanuts job, but there I found myself ready to kick down a wall out anger and sadness. I felt betrayed. I felt like my relationship had been a lie for so long. I wondered just when Max decided he was getting bored. When he started to fear the ball and chain.

It didn't matter any more. He was done with me. I was going to be done with him. I was going to be done with all of the relationship nonsense. I felt sick to my stomach, would Peanut actually be happy for this? That did not sound like him, but that whole week he did not sound much like himself at all.

“That's when you found me again Peanut.”

Part 3.5: Knowledge and Reason Change by the Season (Peanut)

I stared at that poor purple cat for so long after I heard her story. I felt terrible for making her tell it, to relive it all over again. I guess it was better to hear it now than never, but all I knew was that they broke up. I had the impression she broke it off with Max, not the other way around.

When she walked back into the house that night, she was silent as death itself. I was passed out on the ground, drool hanging off of my mouth. The DVD menu for “All Dogs Go to Heaven” was still playing over and over again. Yet I somehow knew she was home. I heard the door shut, ever so quietly.

My eyes groggily opened. Grape was walking past the television. I had wondered if we were still on speaking terms, but I was too tired to really care. “So how did the date go.”

She paused for a second, and then bolted to her room. I had a feeling it did not go all too well. Once again it was an argument of what I should do. Leave her be, so as to save my face, or try to talk to her. Risk losing a limb or two.

“Well I really don't need a left arm.” I muttered to myself as I shuffled to her room.

I heard crying. A pit formed in my stomach as I opened her door and peeked in. She was a sobbing mess, her face buried into a pillow.

“Peanut!” She snapped and hid at the corner of her bed. “Get out...”

I shirked at the sound of her voice. I was a lowly peasant and she a woman scorned, with fire breath much deadlier than any dragon. Part of me just wanted to abide and shut the door.

If I really cared, I decided, I would talk to her as the friend she needs.

“Grape, come on.”

“I said leave,” Grape stuttered, “you wanted this to happen anyways. I don't expect you to understand.”

“But...but last time I made a wish it worked!”

“I don't even...”

“No! Last time I wished I wasn't alone and Tarot came. I wished you would be happy, but, you aren't happy. Why aren't you happy?”

She took a deep breath. “Max and I broke up.” She stifled a sob and hid her face in her pillow. As you heard from her account I was unaware of the tragic implications behind this. What with her actually expecting to be with him a lot longer.

“Now what makes you think I wanted that to happen?” I sat on the bed next to her. “That's not right for me to wish for, not right for me to be happy for. I'm just as shocked as you are, and I know how sad you feel right now.”

Grape tucked her legs into chest as her tail twitched nervously. She took deep and slow breaths, I saw her calm down a little. “I'm sorry Peanut, I didn't mean to snap at you like this...”

“Save it, you don't need to say sorry to anybody.” I flashed her a toothy grin. “Especially not me, and how I've been acting. I just want to know if, after all that has happened, can we still be friends?”

She looked at me and tilted her head. “No.”

My heart sank outright. I could feel my ears drop and my tail sag. “What? I'm sorry though!”

“No, silly dog,” she cracked her sarcastic, Grape smile, “like I said a long time ago, we're always going to be more than friends.” She leaned up to me and kissed me on the cheek.

“Duh, well, uh, you seem like you're feeling better, I'm going to and...”

“Please stay here Peanut.” She looked away. “I don't want to be alone.”

“Okay, then I'll sit right here, whatever you say.” I sat next to her, and slowly put an arm around her shoulder. I felt giddy and nervous. Things were starting to look my way? Or was she just rebounding? I didn't care at the moment though, I was in my own personal piece of heaven.

“Thanks Peanut, for everything,” She yawned.

“Yeah...welcome.” Coherent words were hard to form that evening. I was much better conveying my thoughts with snuggles.

That morning we woke up together, locked in a tight hug. I went and grabbed my camera. I had been planning such a present for a long time, but I felt my artistic skills inadequate. I snapped a picture of sleeping Grape, took it to my room, and began to draw.

“As for the reference picture, it's right here.” I said, turning the page to reveal the digital photograph of her sleeping. She giggled softly and turned the page a few more times.

“We're at my favorite part of the story,” she stifled a yawn and pointed at a picture of the both of us.

I had a red Rudolph nose on that really lit up. A headpiece that consisted of two antlers decorated with tinsel completed the show. I looked completely embarrassed in the picture. Meanwhile, Grape, the lucky cat that she is, had a simple Santa hat on with a cotton fish at the tip rather than a cotton ball.

“I think this is mom's favorite picture of us.” I muttered and blushed.

“You look cute in antlers.” Grape grabbed at my ears. I blushed harder as I hid my face. “So what are you waiting for? Get on with the story.”

“Oh yes! That's right. Well...”

~~

The story is fast coming to a close! Yeah I have a terrible attention span when it comes to fanfiction so keeping it up too long would probably ruin me. I hope you guys liked this particular chapter. It was a little difficult to write and I'm not sure if I like it all that much.

I hoped the switch to Grape's POV wasn't too terrible. I tried to make her sound different from Peanut and capture her voice but I'm not sure how well I did at that either.

As always, happy reading! Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion!

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Lucky Abbot: S-9 P-6 E-7 C-6 I-7 A-4 L-3


Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:50 am
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
I can honestly say it: haven't had such an emotional grapenut rollercoaster for a LOOOONG time. Let me say it, your work rivals in quality with Sinder's and Two-Twig's works! *applauds* :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

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Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:55 am
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...curse you Valerio, you took the words right out of my mouth! :lol:

You good sir somehow managed to make me give a cheer of joy(out loud), so good for you :D

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Wed Nov 14, 2012 7:35 am
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Otaku-Boy wrote:
...curse you Valerio, you took the words right out of my mouth! :lol:

haha me too! :lol:

this last two chapters were really good, you're getting better and better with every chapter you do, you're a genius writer.
It's a shame that this fanfic will not last much longer, but I understand your point, when things turns to be long, comes to a point where you don't know how to put it an end once and for all and then the story loses any sense.

The part with Sabrina was awesome, you made me let off a few chuckles here. The Grape's P.O.V. was unexpected but I think you handled it very well though.

What I don't understand yet is what happened with Tarot, because at first you said they (she and Max) still hang out with them and play imaginate and stuff, but later you said she disappeared and left any trace, so ... she's in the heaven court or what?

P.S.: talking about symphony in periwinkle, why you just put an end to this story for everyone us too? can you please? Since the author left the forum I doubt this could bother anyone (I just saying... because probably all the Grapenut fans will love to see this story coming to an end too, and as Valerio said, you're as good writer as Sinder and Two Twig were in their stories)

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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Yeah, no... no ending another forumites story without their permission...


This is really good! Been a while since a good grapenut story came around. A new classic! :D

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Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:37 am
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Ah that's what I thought. Though even if I was allowed to finish it I don't think I would do it any justice. :lol:

Glad you guys like the story though, just wanted to drop by and say thanks for all of the comments and for the occasional pointer or two on writing it. It's been loads of fun. :D Not sure when this last part is going to be done but I will say it's almost like it is writing itself at this point.

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At the end of the day I often think about what I have done for the world. What I have changed, perhaps made better or worse. I then sit at a computer for hours and look at pictures of cats.

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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Way Back Machine

Part 4: Christmas Is Going To the Dogs

November quickly segued into December. The reds and browns of autumn gave way to vast blankets of white snow. Brisk fall air turned to a biting winter frost. I found myself spending more time indoors than in the snow. The winter that year was nearing record lows. It was weird to think that any time the weather acted up, it could have easily been a frost giant's malevolent work.

I, for one, did not mind the extra alone time with Grape.

We were playing catch up with years of lost time. The snuggles we never shared, all of the times we never said “I love you.” Movie nights that hardly ever happened between ourselves. I have a strong belief that things do happen for a reason. Had I not been in the shadow of Max for so many years, I would not appreciate the little things that I had the opportunity to share with Grape.

There was a deep warmth knowing she loved me like she did. I had only approached the threshold of such feelings once, when I was with Tarot. But it just wasn't the same. Perhaps it was because I had found myself with the girl I had my sights on for years.

Most of my free time had been dedicated to Grape's gift. It needed to be perfect. I spent so much time outlining it, getting the pose and shapes just right. I must have restarted over a hundred times before I felt comfortable moving on. Coloring it was going to be a nightmare, it made me regret not investing in digital drawing software.

The days continued much like this for the first week of December. It was not until the weekend I had received a strange phone call. The television was blaring Discovery Channel while Grape napped next to me. My paw gently scratching behind her ear. Mom and dad were off at some work related Christmas party. I was dozing when I heard our telephone ring.

Grape did not budge, and mom nor dad were going to get the phone any time soon. It fell on me to go grab it. With a yawn and a stretch I trudged over to the phone. The ring tone buzzing in my ears.

“Yeah yeah hold on I'm coming.” I muttered to myself as I lifted the phone from its receiver. “Hello?”

“Finally you pick up!”

“Tarot?” She was back? I felt my heart tremor a little. I had wondered what happened to her. Why she was calling me instead of sending me messages via the psychic airwaves.

“I know you want some answers, but I need you to come over to Sabrina's place.” I glanced over at Grape sleeping on the couch.

“Can Grape come?” I leaned against the wall and held the phone between my ear and shoulder. The line was silent for awhile.

“Sure Peanut.”

“Cool! I'll be right over, just hang tight.” I placed the phone back on the hook. “Graaape!”

“I thought we both agreed you weren't going to do that anymore.” She groaned and put a cushion over her head.

“Tarot is back and she wants me to come over. She said you could come to.”

Grape sat up and tilted her head. “Wait she's back? What does she want.”

“To explain herself.” I replied wrapping a scarf around my neck “Remember she was in the whole celestial court thing and...”

“Right, right.” Grape held her arms above her head and stretched her back. “This better be good.”

“Come on, just because she broke up with me doesn't mean we aren't friends.” I tossed Grape a scarf and put earmuffs on. “I was worried she was going to be banished to some unspeakable realm or something weird like that.”

She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and wrapped the scarf around her neck nice and snug. I left a note on the fridge for mom and dad, explaining the situation. And with that done I nearly ran out the door. Grape was not too far behind.

Sabrina's house was not all too far from ours. I had not expected to hear from Tarot so soon. Then again I was not really familiar how court hearings went on that level of existence. Was time really a relevant thing to them? The equivalent of thousands of years could have passed and just a few mere weeks had passed here on earth.

I hoped she would not be cryptic, in my experience with these beings they were very fond of theatrics.

When we arrived at her house I almost did not bother knocking on the door. I caught myself mid breath and lightly rapped on the front door. I was panting madly, my tongue lolling to the side a little as Grape ran in from behind.

“What's the rush Peanut?” Grape stopped to catch her breath. “Keep that up and you're going to be the death of me.”

“Sorry...I was excited.” I folded my arms, my foot tapping impatiently as I awaited the opening of the door. I saw the door knob twist and smiled when I saw Sabrina poke her head out.

“Wow that was fast.” Sabrina raised her brow as she let the two of us in. “Glad to know you weren't going to keep us waiting.” We followed Sabrina through the main entry way of her house to the living room. She gestured to a sofa and smiled. “Just hang tight here for a minute okay, you guys need anything?”

I looked over at Grape and she looked at me. “Nah I'm fine.”

“I wouldn't mind something warm to drink actually.” Grape took a seat and looked around the house.

Artifacts of all kinds were scattered about. A bookcase laden with strange manuscripts in a language I could not even begin to understand. The only thing that felt out of place was the furniture, all of it simply bought from IKEA and not made out of some strange ethereal material. Sabrina nodded and left the room. Grape and I nervously looked at each other. I had wondered if Tarot was counting on me to hook up with Grape.

She did seem upset about breaking it off with me. What with fate being a problem and all.

Sabrina came back holding a tray of drinks, four of them. Confused for a moment, knowing I did not ask for one, I looked up at Sabrina. I was about to speak when I saw Tarot walk into the room. She smiled a little at me and Grape. It felt like it had been years since I had seen her. She wasn't much worse for wear, maybe a little more, relaxed, is the word I would use.

Sabrina set the tray on a coffee table in front of the sofa and took a seat herself, taking one of the mugs into her hand. It smelled like some sort of herbal tea concoction. Too strong for my liking.

Then, another dog walked into the room.

I did not recognize this one at first. She was a Pomeranian like Tarot, roughly the same height and build. She had white fur and a brown mark along the front of muzzle. Grape looked over at me and raised her brow. I shrugged.

“Oh, my sister is in town.” Tarot replied and gestured over to the other dog.

“The name's Arcana.” She nodded. Her voice sounded familiar too. I was missing something here.

“She a psychic too?” Grape asked as she took one of the mugs of tea.

“You could say that.” Arcana nodded and smiled. I studied her closely, trying to figure out exactly where I had known her before. If anything she was definitely Tarot's kin. They looked almost exactly the same save for a few subtle differences in the face. Arcana's was a little longer, give or take. And then I noticed her eyes.

They were a pale green color.

“What brings you to Babylon Gardens?” Grape asked, she seemed to be taking charge of the small talk. The mystery had unraveled itself in my head.

“Heard Tarot was in trouble up at court and decided to come check on her.”

“Dragon?” I blurted out. The three psychics all looked at each other and smiled.

“I was starting to wonder if you would recognize me.” Arcana, or should I say Dragon, chuckled. “Do I really look so much more different?”

“For one you aren't a giant spirit dragon.” I laughed a little in disbelief. “Okay so what's going on here and am I going to 'wake up' from this?”

“Nope, this isn't on any astral planes. We are talking to each other face to face. “ Sabrina replied. “And Tarot, why don't you explain?”

I could see Tarot blush a little through her fur. “Oh right, I now have 'spiritual probation' on my permanent record. Mother is going to be so proud.”

“Not that I'm in a better position.” Dragon nodded. “After all was said and done, and the punishment was dealt out, all of the players in our little game were sentenced to life as a mortal until the sentence is up.”

“Spiritual probation?” Both Grape and I asked.

“I am not allowed to used psychic abilities without a probation officer of sorts,” Tarot replied, “at first I did not know what to think, but I personally find it a little liberating. No more precognitive visions, no more hearing things I don't want to hear. Just my own thoughts in my own head.”

“And I don't have the burdens of an all knowing being for a little while,” Dragon shrugged.

“You two sound a little too comfortable for just being punished.” Grape said.

“It could have been much worse for us, we could have been banished to a dark unspeakable places that even I could not truly fathom.” Dragon replied. “Fortunately we had a good lawyer with us.” She nodded towards Sabrina, who had a hard time holding back her proud smile.

“Not bad for a low level being, right?”

“What about the others, Pete and the fox guy you mentioned.” I asked.

“The same fate as myself, they were none too pleased.” Dragon said. “But the bird's wings are clipped, and even though I've been effectively declawed, I feel safer now than I did before. Even if it's just for a little while.”

I started to to wonder whether or not Grape was really taking this in. She seemed to be handling it well and I had explained the concept of the cosmic game before, though I hardly understood it myself. The entire scheme of things was unknown to me. But that was probably for the better.

“Oh and Peanut, I do apologize, for how we parted.” Tarot looked down. “I can't explain the details, lest we get into more trouble, but the future was looking grim in the direction we were headed. I'm thankful Sabrina had my back this whole time, and I hope you can forgive me.”

My eyes wandered over to Grape. I smiled a little at her, she looked back at me and flashed that half smile of hers. Tarot hurt me at first, but in the end I still had somewhere to go. I looked back at Tarot and nodded “Of course I forgive you, I just hope after all of this we can still hang out.”

Tarot looked rather relieved. “Good, just a hunch, but I take you two are...”

“Pretty much.” Grape interjected.

“Wait but where did Max go in all of this?” Dragon jumped in, a blush warmed her face as she looked down. “Sorry, not my business to pry.”

“Trust me, it's a long story.” Grape frowned.

“A very long story.” I grabbed her hand and squeezed it. “We might tell you later, but our parents could be expecting us home at any time.”

Tarot frowned and looked down. “Okay you two, have a safe walk home.”

Now I was starting to feel a little bad. She had not seen me in so long, and she did sort of push me on the path towards Grape. I did owe her just a little bit. “Hey, how about you guys come over to our place to hang out tomorrow. We could play some “imaginate,” for old times sake. You could bring Dragon too!”

Tarot looked over at Sabrina, who simply shrugged. Whatever they were communicating, I was oblivious to it. Tarot looked back at me and nodded. “Sure we'll be over tomorrow.”

“Oh and by the way Peanut, my name is Arcana in public.” Dragon winked. “Not sure how people would react if you called me 'Dragon' in front of your friends and family.”

“You've got it Dr-I mean, Arcana.” I bit my tongue a little and smiled sheepishly.

“Good, now go on, don't want your parents upset at you.” She waved a little as we walked out the door.

“That went better than I thought it would.” Grape smiled a little to herself as we exited the house.

“No hard feelings towards my ex?” I ruffled her fur a little and laughed.

“So long as she stays that way I won't complain.” The purple cat gently ran her claws through my fur. “Peanut will you promise me something?”

“Whatever you want Grape.” I looked at her as we started walking.

“That you won't leave,” she played with her tail a little.

“I can't leave though, we live together.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Either way, I promise, cross my heart and I swear I will die, or, something like that.” I furled my brow a little in confusion.

“Same difference.” She said softly as she leaned into me and pulled me into a kiss. My eyes grew a little wide as I held her close. We swayed in the cold air, a few dim street lamps shone brightly like stars. I could feel her smile as she broke the kiss. “You feel really warm all of a sudden.”

“I think my heart exploded.” I smiled dreamily at her. It suddenly dawned on me that we kissed in public. Anyone could have seen that. I licked my lips and looked into her eyes. “What if someone saw us?'

“Would it matter?”

“They would treat us differently, and I dunno, make fun?”

“And? You still didn't answer my question.”

I looked at her and stroked my chin as I thought. “No, it wouldn't.” I grabbed her face and kissed her again. She giggled a little and pushed me off and started running. “What, where are you going?”

“You want kisses you gotta work for it!”

I gave her a head start, and began chasing after her.

I had never seen her act like that before. Maybe she was that way for Max sometimes, but I had never her seen her playful. Though what did seem typical of her, was making things a bit of a challenge. Turning our little evening kiss into a small race.

On the bright side we made it home at a faster pace. She ran up the porch and into the house first, but I meant for her to do that. She was falling ever closer into my trap. In the house she had nowhere to run. I smiled devilishly and stumbled up the porch and into the living room. Grape was panting and laughing at me.

Everything was going according to plan. I hugged her and pushed her into the ground and pinned her there. She looked up at me and laughed. “Don't look so full of yourself, I let you do that.”

“Well I let you run ahead of me.”I winked.

“I let you kiss me earlier.”

“I decided to keep kissing you.”

We locked stares while we panted like fools. Our scarves were a floppy mess around our necks and we were both covered in snow that we had tracked into the house. I gave her a kiss on the cheek and nuzzled her nose.

“You're one crazy mutt.” Grape sighed as she leaned her head back, catching her breath.

“It's one of my charms though.” I rolled off of her and gave her some breathing room as I took some time to catch my breath. “I love you.”

“Love you too.”

I closed my eyes and yawned. I wanted to fall asleep there on the living room floor but I just might regret it when someone stepped on me while getting a glass of water. I sat up and held Grapes hand, thinking about my next move.

“Gotta agree, that was quite adorable.”

That was dad's voice. I jolted to my feet and looked over to the kitchen. Sure enough mom and dad were standing side by side, dressed in snug coats and boots. “How much of that did you see?”

“All of it.” Mom smiled. “We just got home and read your note when you two nearly knocked down the door.”

“Hey relax son, you look like you were caught stealing.” Dad patted my head and pulled off his coat to hang it up. “Not like we don't ever see you dozing together on that couch there. You're not the only one who uses the camera.”

I walked over to Grape and stroked her cheek. “Well I guess I'm glad you aren't freaking out or anything. Most people do when they see a cat and dog do this sort of thing.”

“Most pets do, humans find it sweet.” Mom replied as she scratched my back. “You two are good for each other anyways, she's more brains and you're more heart.”

“Told you people say I'm the smart one.” Grape muttered as she curled up into a ball on the floor.

“I guess I can't deny it.” I smiled as I scooped her up in my arms and carried her bridal style. “My room or yours?”

“Mine, it smells better.” Grape wrapped her arms around my neck.

“She's got a point.” Dad laughed heartily as he walked to the kitchen. “Goodnight you two.”

“Yeah, night dad, night mom.” I smiled as I carried Grape away.

“Why don't you ever carry me to bed Earl?” Mom playfully poked dad's side and hugged him.

“I'm not 20 any more dear, might throw out my back.”

“You're not that old.”

I heard the two of them go at it the whole way to Grape's room. A smile crossed my lips as I lay the two of us in bed. If there was a couple I wanted to model my relationship after, it would be Earl and Jill Sandwich's. Grape tucked herself against me nice and tight as I wrapped a blanket around us.

I cannot remember what I dreamed that night, but I do know it was wonderful.

Eventually it had reached the week of Christmas. Everything felt so giddy and excited. Tarot and Dragon, well Arcana I mean, came over to our house often. Usually for company, which was sincerely welcomed. However we had received a special letter in the mail that day.

Grape walked into the room holding a red envelope with gilded edges. The Milton Insignia had been inscribed on the front on fine black print. We all gathered around, sheer excitement and wonder gripped us all. The Milton's spared no expense, even if the letter was about something mundane it was probably made of golden sheets. Grape used her claw to cut open the letter and gently removed a folded piece of paper.

She cleared her throat and began to read aloud.

“Dear sir or madam,

We at the Milton household are inviting you, yes you, to our big Christmas Shebang. Bring a date, or go it stag (no offense to any stags that might show up). Food and entertainment will be provided for all guests. The party will be held at the brand new Babylon Forum Community Center at Seven o'clock, and will run until the DJ passes out.

Sincerely, the Milton Ferrets.

P.S. To all cats, no eating the mice, and to all dogs, no eating the cats, and to all cats, no taunting the dogs. To the mice, no hitting cats over the head with relatively (and comically) large objects. Otherwise I will be forced to get the wolves on your case.

P.P.S First!

P.P.P.S Simon this is not an online post.

P.P.P.P.S I don't care....”

Grape paused for a moment and sighed. “That goes on for the rest of the page.”

“So what do you think?” I asked. To be honest I was rather interested. It was the first time in a long while we had a co-ed party. Dogs, cats, and mice got along together about as well as Spike, Tom, and Jerry. The ferrets were asking for anarchy and chaos, which to be fair, was a typical thing for them.

“I think it's a waste of time.” Grape tossed the note aside and sat down next to me.

“I think it sounds fun.” Tarot shrugged. “I'm not doing anything that night anyways.”

“Come on Grape, you could be my date.” I gave her my best puppy dog eyes and smile. She grinned a little and looked away.

“Stop it!”

“Not until you say yes.”

“No I'm not doing it.”

“Say yes!”

Grape rolled her eyes and punched my shoulder. I winced a little. “Fine we'll go, but at the first sign of trouble we leave, alright?”

“Fine by me,” I smiled complacently. “I'm sure everyone can be civil for at least the first thirty minutes.”

“If that.” Grape remarked.

Inside I was bouncing around like a puppy with a sugar high. This would be my first real date with Grape. In public, in front of people. I wondered, just for a moment, if our relationship was ready for the exposure. Fido and Sabrina kept theirs under wraps so long for a reason. At the moment, however, I was much more optimistic than realistic. I had convinced myself no one would care that much. Maybe Bino would, but what did that matter? Grape and I would be fine, nothing bad would happen to us.

I hoped.

I had about three days to work up my courage to face the crowds. Three days to think about what I would say and when exactly I would say it. It felt like I had all the time in the world yet not enough time at all. Possible escape routes had to be considered of course, even though I was optimistic, I am certain Grape would kill me if I dropped the bomb and did not plan ahead. Assuming we made it out alive.

Tarot and Dragon had my back, I knew that much. Sabrina would as well, and Fido certainly would if his girlfriend was on board. Plus there were all those wolf bouncers, I'm sure they would not let anything happen to us.

The rest of my spare time, when I wasn't with Grape or devising escape routes, was spent putting the finishing touches on Grape's gift. I had outlined it with pen when I was finally happy with the sketch. Colors were filled in all over the place. My purple colored pencil had been pitifully whittled down, but I could always get a new one.

I recall, most vividly from that week, the atmosphere.

Grape is much better at putting that kind of thing to words, but Christmas time always had a special air to it. Sure it was a shopping season, the season of giving also meant the season of buying, and it was a rather lucrative economic opportunity. But that's besides the point.

Everyone acted just a little nicer to eachother, the world turned into a brightly decorated wonderland. Not to mention the smells. As a dog, I get a very unique perspective. Everything smelled warm, comfortable, sweet. So many things to describe it. I could list words all day. Best of all, it came with a grand sense of optimism and kinship. If there ever was a season dogs and cats would get over their differences, at least for a day, it was Christmas.

Which was partially why I got my hopes up.

Before I knew it, I was waiting at the front door reverberating with nervous energy. I was waiting on Grape, who was taking a little time to get ready. I told myself she could not possibly take that much time, considering pets really did not go all out like humans did for events like this. Generally there was no jewelry, no extravagant dress, not even a fancy collar.

Then again she probably still was not too enthusiastic about the whole party thing. She never gave me a straight answer as to why, I always assumed it had to do with the co-ed thing. Eventually I saw her walk into the living room.

“Come on we have to go now or we'll be late!” I said as I pushed open the door. Grape nervously followed. I was hoping my excitement would somehow rub off. Though it didn't seem to at all.

I started to feel a little bad. Maybe I should not have dragged her along. Though it was a little too late to start second guessing myself. Seeing as how we were already mere yards away from the community center by the time I started thinking about how she might have felt.

“And here we are.” I said. What a sight it was to behold. The building was covered from the foundation to the roof with Christmas lights. The trees just outside of the building had all been topped with stars and decorated with baubles. I reached my hand down to Grapes and grabbed it.

She let a timid smile creep up on her face.

“We'll be in this together, don't act like you're going to be all by yourself in there.” I gave her a quick smooch on the cheek and led her inside. “Come on or we'll miss all the fun!”

The main room had been converted into a Ballroom of sorts. Tables had been set up all around with a large serving table at the front of the room. Already the building was crawling with all sorts of pets. Cats and dogs had already self segregated themselves in the table area. Well a good amount had. There were the scant few that had joined tables, and believe it or not, were getting on quite well.

Christmas music blared from speakers at all angles while a gigantic tree served as the centerpiece. The star at the top had to have been bigger than me, and the lights were about the size of my fist. Presents of all shapes and sizes were placed randomly across the bottom of the tree.

“Hey you wanna go find a table?” I asked out of the blue, Grape seemed a little unresponsive.

“Sure, I hope there's someone out there we know.”

I saw Sabrina on the cat side of the room, along side her was Tarot and Dragon. For a moment I had wondered where Fido was, but I saw him on the dog side. I guess they were going to lay low. I could only wonder when exactly they were going to get together in public.

“Hey lets go sit over by Sabrina, looks like they have a few seats open over there.” I looked to Grape. She nodded a little and followed close behind, I could only imagine what was going through her mind. Probably a million reasons why being there was a bad thing. At least she humored me.

“So I see Grape kept her word.” Dragon said as we approached the table.

“What's that supposed to mean?” Grape raised her brow a little.

“Oh I meant nothing by it, just nice to see you here is all.” The mystical Pomeranian gave a small nod.

“Have we missed anything yet?” I said as we both took our seats.

“Nothing special, the Ferrets did the opening ceremony, and for now it's just party time.” Sabrina shrugged. She looked a little bored, I could even call it sad.

“Why aren't you with Fido?” I asked.

“Peanut.” Grape elbowed my ribs.

“Ow...what?”

Sabrina chuckled a little and played with her collar. “We're both rather nervous about it. I have to say you're brave walking in here holding hands.”

“That or stupid.” Grape muttered.

"Hey you're the one who said we shouldn't care."

"But do you have to showcase it at the biggest pet gathering I've ever seen?"

I looked down a little and sighed. “You want anything to drink hon?” I had never called her a pet name before. It just casually slipped out of my mouth. I could not tell if she took note of it, but to me it seemed an important bench mark.

“Something sweet I guess.”

The whole time I went to go grab that drink I had tried to think of ways to make her happy. Maybe the only way I could ever make her happy in this situation is to just take her home. But the party had just begun and I was not ready to give up. There had to be something she would enjoy.

I approached a large metal bowl of fruit punch, with, I could not believe it, a fountain built into the center. Like I said, the Miltons spared no expense. I held out a cup and caught the punch trickling out.

“Peanut, that you?” I perked my ear and turned a little.

“Max?” My reaction was that of confusion and uneasiness. After all this was the guy that sent Grape home crying. She hardly ever cried. “What are you doing here?”

“It's a party, what do you think?”

“Forget I asked.” I shrugged as I filled up a second cup. Max looked around, words on the tip of his tongue. He almost did not want to ask me it seemed.

“Is Grape here?”

“Yeah, she's at my table.” I replied as I started walking. He looked ahead of me and saw Grape, the only purple cat in the entire crowd.

“Thanks!”

He ran off, nearly knocking the punch out of my hands. Fortunately my coordination had not failed me and I did not spill on any innocent bystanders. I certainly hoped Max would be okay, because I was not very sure if Grape would be.

I eventually made it back to the table, Sabrina looked like she was trying to hide a smile. Max and Grape looked like they were having a rather nice conversation.

“Wait so you're here with a date?” I could hear Max ask.

“Oh yeah, he went to go get me a drink.”

“What's he look like, do I know him?”

“You know him. He's got brown fur, wears a red collar.” Grape seemed to be enjoying herself. I was rather confused to be honest.

Max's befuddled face seemed to make the whole table want to laugh. I'm sure he saw that too and was wondering what was so funny. I eventually walked up to the table, hoping to end his troubles, when in reality I made things seem a little worse for poor Max.

“Oh well here he comes now.” Grape replied.

“What, where?” Max looked directly through me. It seemed he would not believe she was dating a dog. “I don't see him.”

I set the drinks on the table and took my seat next to Grape. “Hey I'm back.” I said as I took a sip of the punch.

“Thanks,” Grape grabbed her drink, “hon.”

She said that last part with a certain relish. Was I her way of sticking it to Max? I certainly hoped I wasn't there just to make him jealous. Max's eyes widened when the realization hit him.

“Wait, you and Peanut got together.” He said.

“Not sure why this is so weird to you.” Grape shrugged.

“If this is something to get back at me...”

“You selfish little...” Grape took a deep breath, “this has nothing to do with you. Peanut and I got together because we wanted to give this a shot, not because I'm mad at you.”

Max looked distressed. No snide comments, not even a stupid mean one. He was speechless.

“You can sit with us if you like Max.” Sabrina winked and laughed.

“Come on Max, you know me, I don't bite.” I looked up at him. Grape gave me a really weird look. “Can't we go back to being friends again, like we were before this whole mess happened.”

Max looked between us and sighed, his tail hung low in a dejected fashion. He shot Grape a nervous glance and then looked at me. “Not sure she wants me around though.”

Grape looked a little guilty and bit her bottom lip. She knew it was up to her whether or not her ex was going to sit at the table. I think a little bit inside of us all wanted our little group to be back together like it used to be. “Sure Max, you can sit with us.”

He instantly perked up and took a seat next to me. For a moment there it was like things were, dare I say it, normal again. Before the break ups, before the spiritual court. Things were structured a little differently, sure. But we were all friends. Grape had enough heart to remain civil, thank goodness.

“So uh, who's this?” Max asked, nodding towards Dragon.

“I'm Tarot's sister, Arcana, moved here from Edgewood to check up on her. It's a nice little place out west.” Dragon smiled, the midwestern American accent was unmistakable. I was impressed, she went all out for her disguise.

Max nodded, “not really sure where that is, but I haven't been really far out of state before.”

The group felt whole again. The months we weren't together melted away. Maybe it was the Christmas spirit working a little magic. I could not help but wonder, that if right after the magic wore off, we would be back to our disjointed state. In any case I had to appreciate the little things as they came, rather than worry about what was next, that was the key to my happiness.

A slow, melodic piece began playing over the speakers. It hit me that there was also dancing. I glanced over at Grape and looked at my paws. Social suicide here I come.

“Hey Grape, would you like to dance?” I tried to make it sound confident but in reality I'm sure I sounded like a puppy yipping its first words. She looked a little surprised by the move.

“I have to admire a dog without fear,” Sabrina laughed a little to herself. “Better take him on that offer before he gets cold feet.”

Grape took my hand and stood up. We both nervously walked over to the dance floor. “You know how to slow dance?”

“Haven't the faintest idea.” I blushed madly.

She took my hand and moved it down to her hip and used her other to grab one of my hands. When she was finished she put her hand on my shoulder and laughed nervously. “Just follow my lead okay?”

I want to say my first dance was magical, and don't get me wrong it was, but I'm sure I looked as awkward as I felt. The eyes of the crowd were upon us that very moment. Hard to miss a purple cat dancing with anybody, I'm sure.

“You feeling okay?” I looked her in the eye. “About the people staring.”

“Too late to get cold feet now.” Grape replied. I shrugged and smiled a little as we swayed with the music.

I had to forget I was the center of attention for a moment. Pretend it was just me and Grape at the house. Things felt natural that way, when I stripped away the social pressures. They just felt right. I had not noticed that we started hugging closer and closer as we danced, and I'm sure that added more to the pressure of the crowd.

For the time being, my initial ideas of the crowd were wrong. They were not attacking, in fact some of them just kept dancing. They were calm, they whispered a little, and I'm sure if it was any other time of the year they would be upset. But for now they just wanted to be happy.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Sabrina get up from her seat and walk over to the dog side of the room. I leaned in a little closer to Grape and sighed happily. It was a unique feeling of peace I felt there on that dance floor. Knowing that I had to no longer hide, and that I was right where I wanted to be. Where I had always wanted to be.

“Love you Peanut.”

“Love you too Grape.”

I kissed her gently, not too passionate, as we were still in public. I swear I heard a few “awws,” much to my surprise. Fido and Sabrina, I would later learn, danced many times that night. I did not see Sabrina at all for the rest of the time I was there, but I knew she was happier where ever she went.

The music began to fade out, and we let go. “Was that worth it?”

“Totally worth it.” She nodded as she nuzzled my chest. “When do we go home?”

“Whenever you want.”

“Well now that I'm here I'm actually starting to have fun.” We looked at each other and laughed. The night was young, and there was much fun to be had.

The scrapbook had many pictures from the party. I took none but I knew of a few who took some pictures of the dance. I searched for the best ones and kept it nice and safe in the book. Someone, who I am sure was very shocked at the time, nabbed a picture of me and Grape slow dancing. The first time I learned a thing or two about dancing, and I got to do it with my favorite purple cat.

There were more pictures of the party, Tarot and Arcana sitting next to each other, looking almost like twins. They posed the same in the picture, with a slight tilt of the head and brows furled in confusion. They really could pass for sisters.

Sabrina and Fido both found themselves in the middle of the fun. I bet he did not hear the end of it from Bino that night, but I am certain it was worth it. Then again, maybe Bino loosened up that night too. I never found out. Grape and I went home relatively early. The DJ apparently did pass out eventually but we weren't about to stick around and find out. I wanted some alone time with her, I think we both worked hard enough for some kisses.

Better yet, I had a little time to put the final strokes into the picture I had drawn up for her. Christmas Eve was the following night and it had to be ready by then.

Christmas Eve day was a very easy and relaxed day. No one came over, it was just us Sandwiches. The neighborhood pets were all probably fast asleep that morning. Grape and I passed the time just watching old Christmas movies and shaking our presents to figure out what was inside.

We both knew mom and dad would remove the packaging form the presents and put them in different boxes just to screw with us, but it never hurt to play the guessing game. There were a few pictures taken of us under the tree, one to this day rests in the scrapbook.

As the day turned to evening, I found myself ready to sleep. Most years before I would lay in bed excited for the morning. Listening for Santa until I dozed off, barely missing him every time. This time, I had Grape, and she wanted to just sleep. I remember that somewhere in the middle of the evening while we were talking to mom and dad, she dozed in my arms. Grape had started getting into the habit of that. Of course I knew that meant I just had to carry her off to bed, where I would join her.

Mom smiled at us both while dad took a picture. Capturing that small moment of perfection for years to come. For a moment in time, we did not have to worry about what our actions would start. We would not have to worry about stigma or problems. We just had each other and we loved every minute of it.

Christmas day was nice and easy. I was used to waking up bright and early in the morning. Yet I savored my time in bed with Grape. Her body nice and warm beneath the covers. The feeling was so much more enticing than the frosty air of the morn. We did get out of bed eventually, mom and dad were surprised to find that they had beat us to the Christmas tree.

“Who are you and what did you do with Grape and Peanut.” Dad chuckled as he saw us walk into the room.

“I was just enjoying the company is all.” I replied as I rubbed Grapes back and sat on the couch. “Now lets dig into some presents!”

I remember that year I was more concerned with what Grape was going to say when she opened my gift. It was all I thought about. A voice inside said she was going to hate it, but like just to make you happy. I certainly hoped that would not be the case. I felt like she knew what I was waiting for because she chose the present to open so late, and when she did pick it, she opened it nice and slow. My tail wagged nervously as she peeled away the wrapping paper. Little by little, bit by bit, until my gift had been unwrapped.

There in a nice cherrywood frame, was probably the best drawing I had done up until that point. I had went all out with it. Grape's first reaction to the picture was a big smile. She didn't say anything, she simply looked over at me and gave me a kiss.

“Thanks Peanut.”

“Look on the back” I said. Sure enough there was a handwritten letter taped to the back.

To this day I still remember what it said.

“Grape, as crazy as things have been for us, I feel like we have been together for years. No matter what happens, I always can count on you. I have a very serious, and sincere question to ask you, you want to keep it that way forever?”

She looked up from the note with a smile that warmed my heart. “Yes Peanut, I do.”

“Yes!” I jumped for joy and tackle hugged Grape into the ground. I did not ever want to let go.

“And that, was how I courted a cat.” I smiled and nuzzled Grapes nose. She gave off a loud yawn and curled up against me.

“I never get tired of hearing our story.” Grape smiled as she traced her fingers along the picture of us on Christmas day. “Better get some sleep though, tomorrow is a big day.”

“Indeed it is.” I smiled as I shut the scrapbook and set it gently aside. “Goodnight kitten.”

“Good night pooch.”

I kissed her gently and turned out the lights.

~~


Epilogue: And they all lived...

I paced back and forth at the waiting room. Every little sound magnified a hundred times. The clock ticking rang in my ears, shaking my nerves to the core. I did not know what to expect, when to expect it. She had been in there for a good thirty minutes now, and I was getting a little worried.

Mom went in there with her, though, so I told myself not to be too worried.

Dad watched me, an expression of bemusement on his face. He had seen guys like this before. I had a feeling it never got old to him.. I had started to regret letting just Grape go in alone. Surely I should have went in to. But we agreed it was going to be up to her.

“Relax son, you've got the two smartest women we know in there, things are going to be fine.” Dad gave me a pat on the back.

“I can't help but be nervous, I'm a dog!”

He smiled at me and leaned back in his chair. “You got me there. How about you just take a seat to help you relax? All that pacing isn't helping.”

Another five minutes passed, thirty five minutes in total. They were in there way too long. Something was up. Eventually I just caved in and took a seat. The person sitting at the desk shared a laugh with my dad, though I was too anxious to care. Then, the doors opened. I ran over to Grape and mom as they walked out. A small timid figure poked his head from behind her leg. He had white fluffy fur and ears that drooped at the tip, much like myself. I smiled at him and squatted down to his level.

“Hey there pal,” I held out my hand, he sniffed it a little and wagged his tail. “yeah don't be afraid, it's just your silly old dad."

“Mr. and Mrs. Sandwich?” The young woman at the desk asked.

All four of us turned.

“The human ones, would you please sign the adoption forms, now what is this little guy's name gonna be.”

I looked over at dad, “any suggestions?”

“Hmm.”

“Oh lord Peanut what have you done.” Mom rolled her eyes.

“Jon, that's his name.” Dad finally said. We all looked at him like had just spoke in Chinese. “After Jon Turkey of course.”

“Who?” I asked.

“I...never mind, it's a math thing.” Dad looked at us all. “Sandwich theory anybody? No?”

“Jon Turkey Sandwich, kind of has a ring to it.” Grape smiled at the small puppy. He looked up at her with excited eyes, eyes that just met its mother. “How do you like that?”

“I...I do.” He nodded. I wondered how old the pup was, he was really young for a dog at the shelter. He could barely speak.

“Well it's official now, Marshmallow here is from this day on, Jon T. Sandwich.”

“Welcome to the family big guy.” Dad patted the small pup on the head. Grape leaned down and picked him up and held him in her arms. He gave her a gentle lick on the cheek as we both walked to the car.

The first thing I did when I got home, was grab the camera and handed it to dad. Grape and I sat on the porch with Jon in her lap. He was already smiling and absorbing his new surroundings. He was not a dog of many words, but he looked like someday he might be.

“Say cheese!” Dad snapped the picture and went inside to print it. He knew exactly what I was doing.

I looked over the bookshelf, a few books were rather dusty, but one had recently been used. On the spine it read “Your very own Wayback Machine.” I pulled it out and set it in my lap, opening to the next page with enough space for a picture. Dad walked back into the room and handed me the small digital photo, still warm from the printer.

“My boy's all grown up, can't believe it.” Dad chuckled to himself as he walked away.

I grabbed my Scrapbooking tools and got to work setting it into place. Beneath the picture, I took a pen and wrote the words “puppy ever after.” I capped the pen and nodded.

“What's that?” A small voice called up to me. I looked over the book and saw my son. Goodness, my son. I could call him my son.

“It's your family's history book Jon.” I said as I lifted the small pup into my lap and opened to the first page. “Look it's me.”

He tilted his head and smiled at the picture of me as a pup on the porch. Grape walked into the room and saw the two of us looking over the scrapbook. She took a seat against me and laid her head on my shoulder.

“Jeez, how long has it been? Feels almost like yesterday I was a young pup...”

The End

And so it's over for now. I certainly had a lot of fun writing this little story! I originally did not want to end it on a sequel hook, but I could not help myself. I certainly hope you had as much reading the story as I did writing it though. Thanks again for the feedback and for taking your time out to read my little fanfic.

As always, Happy reading! See you all next time. ;)

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Last edited by Honorable Intentions on Sat Nov 17, 2012 2:03 am, edited 2 times in total.



Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:23 am
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
...*cries with joy*
I swear, I am being so honest about it: i would've started my series with this awesome fiction, had you come first, Mr. Honorable. The whole stuff is made with awesomesauce with a serving of epic.
I need to crossover with it somehow.
just. need. TO!
Thanks for sharing this ficcie with us, We all hope to have you back with more awesomeness soon!
:D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

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Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:20 am
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Book Ends AND Title Drop WOOOHHHOOOO!!!! :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

AWESOMEAWESOMEAWESOMEAWSOME!!!!!!!! Jon Turkey Sandwhich, nice ring ;)

WAAAHH!!! It's over :oops: :cry: :evil: :oops: :cry: :evil:

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Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:07 am
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Otaku-Boy wrote:
Book Ends AND Title Drop WOOOHHHOOOO!!!! :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

AWESOMEAWESOMEAWESOMEAWSOME!!!!!!!! Jon Turkey Sandwhich, nice ring ;)

WAAAHH!!! It's over :oops: :cry: :evil: :oops: :cry: :evil:

not to mention that JT *rocks*

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Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:35 am
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
NICE NICE NICE! you don't have idea how excited this fic left me. GAH! I'm feeling so happy and so sad at the same time, I curse you and bless you for being such a good writer. :lol:

With this last chapter you cleared all the remaining doubts that I had. I would like to see how Pete was handling being mortal or what could happen to King/Joel after all but that's probably going too much out of this story.

I have to thank you, this is the best fanfiction I've read in a REALLY long while (and I'm not talking only for housepets if not of all fictions I read in general).

I'll be happy to read more of your works. I hope you keep writing stories. :D

And as Sabrina says, see ya around ;)

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Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:22 am
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Otaku-Boy wrote:
Book Ends AND Title Drop WOOOHHHOOOO!!!! :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :


yush! Tropes! :lol: Funny, I did not even realize I was doing them until I started actually writing. They just come naturally I guess.

And goodness guys thanks for all the compliments. Glad you liked it. :D

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Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:38 pm
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
It was a fitting end. A wonderful story all around.

I do believe Marshmallow Sandwich would be a nice name too... Puffy white fur and all. :lol:

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Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:21 am
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Long, but good.

This was absolutely perfect for what you did with it. I can honestly say I like this every bit as much as I do Star-Crossed.
But then again, I'm always a sucker for these kind of stories as long as they were written well. The party was the best part of the entire fic. I hope to see you produce some more stuff for us to read in the future.

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Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:40 pm
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
...OOH OH OH!!!!

You should make a B-story to this, like one from King's or Bino's or Fido's P.O.V!!

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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
I might take you up on that one, it would be interesting to see different perspectives throughout the story. I do have quite a few options when comes to writing stuff.

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Lucky Abbot: S-9 P-6 E-7 C-6 I-7 A-4 L-3


Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:43 pm
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Whoa, Nice job!
Very entetaining :D
*aplausses for ya*

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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
This...
Was...
Awesome.

I loved it. when I read part 3, I got upset that I had to go to sleep before I could read part 4.
You're now on my list of favorite fic authors, right next to Val. Can't wait to read your next work. luckily, I don't have to.

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Sun Dec 23, 2012 2:58 am
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Incredible, incredible work. I started to get choked up a bit from the final chapter and the epilogue, and that's something that's really hard for me to do. I must admit that the whole "GrapeNut" deal and other shipping stuff doesn't sit too well with me, but I cannot deny the absolute adorableness of this story. Maybe I'll warm up to the concepts in time, but I'm no romance writer. X3


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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Glad you guys liked it! That last bit was my favorite part to write. Imaginary drama is always fun because I can control it, unlike in real life where it spreads like wild fire. :lol:

TarkaTarquol wrote:
I must admit that the whole "GrapeNut" deal and other shipping stuff doesn't sit too well with me, but I cannot deny the absolute adorableness of this story. Maybe I'll warm up to the concepts in time, but I'm no romance writer. X3


You now what's funny is that this is my first time ever writing romantic fiction. I never really enjoyed the genre all that much either, until I read a few well written ones (there's some really talented fans of this webcomic, way better writers than I am for sure XD). It turned out to be a lot of fun to write a story like this, but in anycase I'm glad you enjoyed the story even though it was a romance haha.

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At the end of the day I often think about what I have done for the world. What I have changed, perhaps made better or worse. I then sit at a computer for hours and look at pictures of cats.

RP Character:
Lucky Abbot: S-9 P-6 E-7 C-6 I-7 A-4 L-3


Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:29 pm
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Post Re: The Way Back Machine
Honorable Intentions wrote:
TarkaTarquol wrote:
I must admit that the whole "GrapeNut" deal and other shipping stuff doesn't sit too well with me, but I cannot deny the absolute adorableness of this story. Maybe I'll warm up to the concepts in time, but I'm no romance writer. X3


You now what's funny is that this is my first time ever writing romantic fiction. I never really enjoyed the genre all that much either, until I read a few well written ones (there's some really talented fans of this webcomic, way better writers than I am for sure XD). It turned out to be a lot of fun to write a story like this, but in anycase I'm glad you enjoyed the story even though it was a romance haha.

Yea, I'll be spending a bit of time scanning the other Fanfics here. And I'm not against romance stuff. I do like it (in moderation). It's just 'shipping' that's doesn't set well, and not just HousePets, but any shipping in general. Just seems... weird. But then again, that's probably because of a few... un-PG things I have learned to associate with the term 'shipping.' I didn't believe that PG stories like this could exist. X3


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Post Re: Housepets! Changing by the Seasons: 1. The Way Back Mach
Oh my gosh. Such an awesome story! I love the name Jon T. Sandwich though. If I didn't have to complete my homework for school I would totally read CbtS 2.

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Whatever you are facing today, remember to give yourself some credit for making it this far. You are stronger than you know.

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CH. 4 OUT NOW!


Sun Aug 10, 2014 9:35 pm
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