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Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project 
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
You do have valid arguments my friend, and I can explain. :lol:

First, the off color collar was mostly just lazy on my part because I was doing a black and white picture, not full color. I should have specified such a thing since Jon's default colors are in fact black and white. That was simply a big goof on my part. :oops:

Now, onto my reasoning behind his appearance. Being a walking contradiction was always a big part of his character for me, considering his adoptive parents. He is a dog with cat interests, he is the older sibling but looks younger, he is a house pet but has an affinity for the wilderness, not to mention his preference for females that are quite a bit different than him. In my first drafts of the story, I was going to emphasize his figure from the get go. He was a pudgy kid all along, at least in my head, but out right stating it would ruin the fun of reading and making assertions based on details you as a reader would see throughout the story.

When I finally decided I would actually put him down on paper, it still made sense to me that he would be a pudgy kid with unexpected athletic abilities. Imagine how non-threatening he must look from anyone's perspective. Especially someone like Boris or Alana. And as for his hyperactivity, well there are some things that you can't take out of a dog. Pine trees are always green, pups and young dogs are always wide-eyed and excitable.

Finally, any looks he shares with Peanut. I have always heard that the longer you live with someone, the more "looks" you tend to share with them. It happens with married couples and it tends to happen with adopted kids as well (I have a brother that is adopted and people are always shocked to discover we are not related).

However you did make a fine point sir and I hope I answered all of your questions and concerns. I apologize for the long answer, this is the condensed version trust me. :lol:

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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


Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:10 am
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
Haha that was quite the explanation. :lol:
Now I get your point and I can say it fits perfectly with him. Question solved. ;)

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Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:41 am
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
Housepets: Pet Project

11. A Night To Remember
“Lupa can we take a moment to rest? I think I broke my lungs.” Denver said amidst his heavy panting. “Look, he can't be in that much trouble, I'm sure he'll be home.”

The she-wolf paused her running for a moment and jogged back to her cat companion. Her young friend took a seat right there on the sidewalk and rubbed his temples. Lupa shrugged and took a moment to rest herself.

She hated to admit it, but her dad was right. Sub-urban life was putting her out of touch with her animal heritage. Thoughts stewed within her mind. Intuition told her that Jon was in danger. Yet she was starting to feel Denver's point. She was tired, she was far from home, her uncle might have been running about after figuring a way to escape his ankle bracelet.

“Why do all these stupid buildings have to look the same?” Lupa snapped. “Why am I even out here?”

Denver jumped to life, his hackles raised and his tail went rigid.

“I ask myself that question often. Especially when I'm with people like you.” Denver said after composing himself. Lupa looked down at the cat and sat down on the sidewalk. She put her head in her paws and took deep breaths. “Hey, what's the matter?”

“Your stupid brother that's what.” Said Lupa. “I've run up and down this street three times for someone that cut my friendship at the drop of a hat.”

“Come on, he didn't cut you off.”

“When was the last time you've seen me at your place? When was the last time he's been at my place?” Said Lupa. Her piercing eyes made Denver's mouth go dry.

Speak wisely, or you will be eaten. Denver thought to himself.

“Alright, you have a point.” Said Denver. “But then again I'm not the one tearing the place apart searching for him. If you're so upset about this, then why are we still here?”

Lupa was silent for a moment. She could not answer that question, even when she asked it herself. No feasible answer would come.

“A wolf gives no heed to the errors of family in need.” Said Lupa, her ears fell. Denver arched an eyebrow at this statement.

“Pardon?”

“It's an old saying we have. Family makes mistakes, they make us mad, but we never turn our back on them.” Lupa said, taking a moment to clear her mind. “For awhile, our pack happened to be the only friends outside of his own family. I tried to make sure he wasn't ever left out when we did those camping trips. I taught him things about hunting and tracking, told him stories about our heritage. Stuff we don't tell humans or pets. In a weird way, he ended up part of my family. ”

“Good, now we both have a clear understanding as to why you're crazy enough to go on this wild goose chase.” Denver stretched. Lupa stood and walked past him.

The dark chocolate brown cat sighed and followed. He could just leave, go home.

“You know I befriended him because I felt bad for him.” Said Lupa. Denver rolled his eyes. “I was just minding my own business and here comes this kid everyone heard stories about. Too much like a cat to fit in with dogs, too much like a dog to fit in with cats. And he comes home with King all shy and defenseless.”

Both walked side by side for a little while. The silhouette of the wolfess and the cat looked almost comical at a distance, their size difference alone made for strange late night companions. Comical if not for the fact that Lupa was a full-bred wolf, fearsome and unseen in most civilized parts of the city.

“He does that to girls. I haven't the faintest clue why they all fall for that.” Said Denver, shaking his head all the while.

“Is somebody jealous?” Lupa raised her brow and looked at Denver. Denver pursed his lips a little, his whiskers twitched.

“No, I am not jealous.”

“I think you are.” Lupa stopped walking for a moment. A few sudden realizations started to set in. “I don't think I've head you say something nice about him this whole time we've been searching.”

“What's to be jealous of? Girls feel sorry for him, everyone feels sorry for him. Even my parents seem to fall under this spell. All because he's so different. Because everyone says he's a weirdo. Yeah, nothing to be jealous of.”

Lupa thought back to all the times Denver had been around. Jon had dragged the cat to her house more times than one. When he did, Denver would fall to the wayside. Meanwhile Jon would do his best to impress her and Denver would end up getting hurt. Perhaps all was not well in the picture perfect Sandwich home.

“Not sure whether or not you're being sarcastic or serious.” Said Lupa. Denver sighed and looked down at his toes.

“I get to hear the stuff people say when he leaves the room.” Denver let out a humorless chuckle. “Funny enough, it's not the stuff you would expect.”

“And that would be?” Lupa felt her own anger subsiding with each thing her friend said. She had never realized Denver felt this way at all. He just seemed so complacent with things the way they were.

“I hear it all the time, how he seems so cool and feral, but so sweet at the same time. If only he was a cat and not a dog.” Denver mumbled. “Ugh, and that whole dumb climbing thing he practices. That gets some praise, even from some dogs.”

Lupa scratched the back of her neck and looked around. “I had no idea.”

“No one does.”

The she-wolf looked up and down the cat. There was more trouble between the brothers than she had ever known. What got to her most, was the fact that such trouble was always prevalent. She was always so caught up in making sure her surrogate brother of sorts was happy, that she never could have noticed until she found this time alone with Denver.

“You know Denver. As rotten as you feel about this whole thing. He has his own problems.” Lupa chose her words with care. She could see Denver begin to glare. After that whole outburst, she was still defending the dog. “Hear me out for a moment will you? You mentioned that people talk about him, but they won't talk to him without getting creative. He's just too weird to approach like a normal person.”

Denver looked back up at Lupa, he looked like he was trying very hard to be mad.

“I bet he knows it too. Can you imagine knowing such a thing? That no one will ever really like you unless are something you could never be.” Lupa placed a paw on Denver's shoulder and squatted down to his level. Her voice was soft, but deliberate. “You have every right to be mad at him. I'm mad at him too Denver. But, I know for a fact that he resents himself so much that he would sell his soul just to be 'normal.'”

The brown cat did not say a word. He just looked away and choked a little. He felt so small, and so mad. He had wasted his evening searching for someone that everyone liked more than him. Someone that he craved the attention of, and yet was always dropped. It was the most bizarre kind of anger he had ever felt. Against all reason he started to cry.

“I also know for a fact that if you were in any sort of trouble, he would be the first person to your rescue.” Lupa laid a hand on Denver's cheek and looked him in the eyes. “And I know why you're still here.”

“Why?” Said Denver, his voice felt so small and lost in the back of his throat.

“Because you care enough about him to see him come home safely. You know the good stuff about him too.” Said Lupa. “Even though you're mad at him, even though he might have hurt you before. It takes a lot of strength to try and help someone that hurt you.”

Denver started to shake a little, he was mad at himself now. For losing his cool in front of her. He felt like a little kitten. Weak and useless. The harder he tried to stop crying, the easier the tears came. Lupa looked at the sniveling cat and wrapped her arms around him.

She hugged him to her chest and swayed a little. Denver was surprised by the gesture, but did nothing to fight it. It felt almost like the way his mom would hug him.

“You're a tough guy, you played hard with the wolves too.” Lupa chuckled a little and wiped a tear from the cat's eye. “And you're smart, you thought to check his computer for clues. Stuff like that lets me know you're good enough to help me find your brother and stop him from hurting himself.”

He nodded against her chest and let out a heavy sigh. Such an odd sight they must have been. In the middle of that dark city street. He did not care in the slightest.

“A-a wolf gives no heed to the errors of family in need.” Denver said, releasing the hug and wiping his face. Lupa smiled at him a little. She knew there was a reason she kept hanging around those crazy Sandwich boys. She just had forgotten it. “Now let's go find him.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Lupa stood to her full height again. She sniffed the air a moment, realizing something was off. The fur on her neck rose. They were not alone.

“What is it?” Denver sniffled.

Lupa held a finger to her lips and crept over to a trash can. It seemed innocuous enough. Denver tilted his head, wondering just what she was up to. In a sudden flurry of movement, Lupa threw off the trashcan lid and pulled out a striped tabby cat. He yowled and claws the air. Pleading for his life while he did so.

“I wasn't starin' honest! I won't tell no one.” The cat whimpered. Lupa rolled her eyes.

“I don't care who you tell. Why were you sneaking up on us like that.”

“I'm just keeping an eye out for someone.” The cat replied. “Been so quiet tonight, you guys seemed more interesting than nothing.”

“Keeping an eye out?”

“Y-yeah, for these two white cats that just left the club. The boss...er I mean my friend...said to tell him if I should see them go past here.”

“Two white cats?” Denver whispered. “Was one of them named Snow?”

“Dog-lover? Yeah.” The dangling tabby nodded as best he could. “She was with some other white cat. Last I heard they were supposed to go to a place called 'Max's somethin or other.' The only Max place I knew was Max's Music. So I'm waitin' here to see if they show up.”


Denver knew exactly where they would be going. The white stranger, now that was the kicker. He had never seen him before in his life. The only time he had seen him was with Snow when they were walking away for a date. Come to think of it, the cat did seem a little off. He tried his best to remember all details of the scene. He was playing video games, and he saw them walk by.

There was something off though. Something wrong with the picture. Snow being sociable for one. But something else.

He had a yellow fish tag on his collar. That was right. Just like one his mom's old tags. His eyes widened a little. He paid it no mind because he had just assumed Snow left Jon behind. Now he knew the whole story about that fox's gift to Jon. Things were starting to become a little more clear. He had heard enough stories about those befuddling greater beings to know they would pull such a thing.

“Lupa, I think you might be onto something.” Denver grabbed her paw and started dragging her. “I know where they are supposed to be next, if we hurry maybe we can catch them.”

Lupa dropped the tabby and let the brown cat take point. Denver seemed panicked, like he had seen a ghost. Too rushed to stand there and explain anything. She trusted he knew what he was doing, it was really the only lead she had now.

She hoped it would lead to the end of this strange puzzle.

~~

“Alright, here we go, I have never tried this before.” Jon licked his lips and stared at the bubbling brown liquid.

Caramel brown sasparilla, foamy and bubbling to the top of a frosty mug. The smell was intoxicating; sugar, vanilla, sasparilla root. He licked his lips again and chuckled. No one recognized him except for Snow. Maxwell of all people had prepared the drink. It felt good to be unknown, to be a stranger.

“What? Never had a sasparilla before?” Jay said from behind the counter, filling a bucket of ice and sticking it in a small freezer below. Spread out him was a classic diner style soda fountain that had just been installed a week ago, and was a hit among the locals. The summer heat helped just a bit.

“His mommy never let him.” Snow teased from across his table. She had a half empty mug herself. Jon wondered if Fido and Sabrina knew she was no stranger to the strong stuff.

“D'aww, momma's kitten huh?” Jay laughed. “Now Max here, legend says he came out of his momma with a bottle of Drury's Pride Sasparilla in one hand, and a handful of catnip in the other.”

Max rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Did I already tell you guys that ninety percent of what this guy says is about as trustworthy as a hairball I hocked up last week?”

“Please Max, I'm bragging for you. I am helping you.” Said Jay. “Read my lips, I...am...help...”

“Shut up, I am not talking about this in front of the customers.” Max held a finger to Jay's lips, his eyes had narrowed.

Jay shrugged and scurried off, his tail whipped around the corner and down a flight of stairs. Even he had realized he had pushed a wrong button or two. Max rubbed his temples and leaned up against the counter. Jon and Snow were staring at him, in fact Snow had been shocked sober.

“Sorry you had to see that, I apologize for him.” Max nodded in the direction Jay had run off. “As always.”

“You know it might be just rumors, but I have heard stories about a certain Maxwell.” Jon shrugged and took a sip from the mug. It burned a little going down his throat. His eyes widened with the mouthful, his throat making a reluctant attempt to swallow.

“Oh jeez, what kind of stories.”

“That you used to hang around this one cat, a purple one.” Jon shrugged.

“Are you kidding? People still talk about that.” Max groaned and took a seat.

He looked around himself. Surveyed the room. The evening was quiet, there were only a few straggling customers, and they were ready to take their leave. Soft jazz music played from speakers set up around the room.

“Yeah, you two were exclusive and stuff back in the day.” Jon looked at Snow, who decided it was best not to weigh in the conversation.

“Grape and I were pretty close, yeah.” Maxwell said, a smile laced with bitter nostalgia crossed his lips. “I don't want you getting the wrong idea about us though. I am not jealous, nor am I mad about her moving on.”

Max wanted to add that he was grateful for her forgiving him in the end. Though that would only open more wounds he was trying to keep closed. The black cat flicked his tail and reached across the bar and filled a mug of his own.

“What do you mean?”

“She got married, with...a dog.” Max paused to take a drink. “Adopted a couple of kids, they visit all the time. Along with my other ex, Snow's parental guardian as a matter of fact.”

Snow hid herself a little, she was swimming through his thoughts. Hostile is not the word she would describe. He was not happy though.

“Why haven't you hooked up with anyone since?”

“Oh I have. Nothing exclusive or anything. Just little flights of passion here or there.” Max took another drink. “Now there was this one girl, I never expected to have any feelings for, and dang was she bad news. I mean she made the moves first, and I thought she really meant it too. I was stupid and desperate for someone to care for. Then she had the nerve to just...up and leave like I knew she would. Even then she was just...never mind. Look kid, you probably don't give half a carp, but I'm telling you this so you think through any major decisions you make with the opposite gender. Don't think they hold you down, because you're more stuck without 'em than you are with 'em.”

Jon was starting to regret opening this pandora's box of pent up frustration. But he listened with intent, he had not touched his drink since his first sip. This was a side of Max he never saw. How strange, to be so open to a stranger. Snow hid herself a little, the more Max talked, the strangest of pictures were projected from his mind. Her own mild intoxication was not helping in the slightest.

When the picture became clear how ever, she let out a sharp gasp. Jon and Max turned to look at her. This was not at all what she was expecting.

“I...accidentally bit my tongue.” Snow said. She felt so stupid and yet betrayed. “Hey can I talk to you for a minute, alone?”

Jon looked at Max, who seemed to be lost in his own thoughts for the time being. He left his drink behind and followed behind Snow. She grabbed his paw and led him down the stairway, and to the arcade they had been hanging around during Fido's wedding.

“What is this...”

“Just hold on, we need...need a key. Where's the key.” Snow rubbed her temples and tried to concentrate.

“What key? Snow you aren't making any sense.” Jon tried to keep up with her, but she had already slipped out of from his view.

Jon sighed out loud and leaned up against the wall. What was her deal? They were having a fine romantic evening just before, and then he had to just open his big mouth and get Max talking. Why did this offend Snow so much? He played with his transformation trinket for a moment, now he had to wonder if his drink was messing with him.

It was hot, as if it had been laying in the sun.

The room started to spin a little. Maybe he should not have had that drink. He wanted his mom, he wanted Snow to come back. He propped himself up on a small table and felt his heart racing. Such odd sensations, he felt out of place. Out of reality. A small television monitor next to him blared gunshots, snapping him out of his stupor.

He panted a little and looked at the television. It was just a re-run of Cold Case. He chuckled a little, only for a pressing question to come to mind. Had that TV been there before?

What little time he had to ponder was interrupted by quirky music, as a bunch of kids ran across the screen. Chasing something. He knew the commercial all too well. He had seen it a million times. He rubbed his temples and looked around, Snow was still nowhere to be found.

“Oh I'll give you your cereal, if you can solve my riddle!”

“That dastardly fox is at it again, what could the riddle be?”

“Who is Jon trying to be? The ideal person for Snow or the ideal person for himself? What is Jon's ideal person?”

Jon paused for a moment and looked at the television. That last part, the tone had changed, the fox spoke it fast and in hushed tones. He didn't quite catch it.

“Geezlaweez that's a hard one, how will we ever figure it out?” One of the child actors threw his arms in the air for extra emphasis.

“Can the kids solve the Hi-jinx Fox's riddle? Maybe they could use a hand. Just submit your answer for a chance to win a free cruise!”

“Yes Jon, maybe you could give them a hand.”

Jon started to panic. The television was talking to him. That was not normal TV behavior.

“Are you stuck? Maybe you could use a hint?”

“What's going on, why do I feel so weird?” Jon shivered for a moment.

“Ah I forgot to mention a cute little something about that little chain you are wearing.” The fox leaned towards the screen and grinned. “I'm short on time, busy schedule, but I will say that this whole evening has been out of your hands from the beginning.”

“Are you...what...” Jon shook his head.

“Jon snap out of it!” Snow's voice made him jump.

“Gah! Snow? When did you get back.” Said Jon.

“A few seconds ago, you were just staring at that wall with that stupid slack-jawed concentration face of yours.” Snow grabbed him by the arm and pulled him along.

“But...the Hi-jinx Fox...the riddle...” Jon began, but gave up mid-sentence. Snow was on a mission and she could not be pressed to figure out his problems. He knew her all too well.

A key-chain dangled from her left paw, a single golden key was pinched between her thumb and index finger. Jon was starting to remember where they were going. That room, the hallway, that kiss. It was all coming back. He kissed her as a dog. Why was she dragging him back this way again?

Snow stuffed the key into the door they had found last time and unlocked it. She did not hesitate to barge inside. Part of her wanted to know if what she saw in Maxwell's head was just some fake nightmare, stirred up from her own intoxication and fluttering feelings of the evening.

Jon recognized the smell instantly. His jaw dropped a little, Snow slumped down a little and shivered. She knew this was here, from last time. Yet she did not want to believe it.

“He was keeping her here, he was protecting her.” Snow choked a little.

“Now hold on, we both know she can get her way by force...”

Snow scoffed and stood up. “We are leaving, and for the record, she did not need to use that much force. I saw it in his head.”

Jon was bewildered. Everywhere he turned, his date was spiraling into a nightmare. First the headaches, the problems at the club, Snow's sudden change in behavior. He did not know what to do. This was too much. What started as something so wonderful was coming apart.

“Snow, I know this might come as a shock to you, but I think we both knew she was hiding here.”

“I thought she forced him to.” Said Snow. “You know what she did to me, to all of us. What she was willing to do to you. And the guy you call uncle was protecting her. We could have given her what she deserved, locked her up and thrown away the key.”

“You just need to take a breath and get a hold of yourself.” Jon felt that new part of him start to take control again. His body was starting to run by itself again. Those headaches only grew. “This is not the Snow I know. You are better than these petty feelings.”

What was going on? Snow felt her heart flutter. The way he was talking to her and handling her. It felt good, but there was an underlying feeling that something was not at all right. It might have been stress.

“This isn't the Jon I know. Are you sure you aren't pretending to be him and he isn't tied up somewhere?”

“What are you talking about? Of course it's me.” Jon smiled a little. Almost in that way those romantic leads did in her guilty pleasure romantic flicks. “I know a way I can prove it.”

“What are you...”

Jon did not have control at this point. Neither of them felt they did. He leaned in, ready to kiss her. She felt like she was dreaming in a way. It felt straight out of a fantasy. The drinks, the emotions, the dashing romantic lead. She had been transported to a different dimension, it seemed. She almost didn't care.

Just before their lips touched, a pair of strong arms pulled them apart. Jon yowled in surprise, his body was suddenly his again. It left him both relieved and disappointed. Though he did not have time to reflect on such things. He was now face-to-face with Lupa.

“Answers, now.” She said.

“I don't...”

“He's a friend from another neighborhood, what on earth are you guys doing?” Snow stood up, she was quite angry from having her moment interrupted.

“Don't even start. We both know this is Jon Sandwich.” Lupa said, Denver peeked from behind the she-wolf.

“Okay just put me down, I can explain.” Jon held his paws up. She dropped him, his new reflexes allowed him to land with finesse. “Okay so this little trinket I got can make me look like a cat. Crazy as it sounds, that's the truth.”

“And do you know if there could be any problems associated with having this thing?”

“I got it from a trusted source. From friends Lupa.” Jon snapped. “I doubt they would do anything harmful to me.”

“You don't think something that can turn you into a cat is just a little dangerous?” Lupa gestured to the charm he was wearing. “I mean look at the thing it...”

“Will you stop it! Just because you wolves think people like Tarot or her friends are inherently evil, doesn't mean they are. But you know better...” Jon paused. “Did you follow me because you were jealous?”

The silence was so heavy that they could feel it on their shoulders. Lupa and Jon had locked glares. Snow looked about ready to split up whatever was going on. Denver looked about ready to scurry off and hide below something.

“Don't flatter yourself. I wanted to make sure you didn't do anything stupid.” Lupa pressed a finger to Jon's chest. Jon shoved away the finger and took a few steps back. Snow looked at Jon, just wishing they could leave. Things were getting too awkward.

“And I am quite capable of taking care of myself. Thank you very much.” Jon stood next to Snow. He grabbed her paw and looked at her. “I appreciate the concern, but I am not exactly defenseless these days.”

Lupa watched a sudden change come over Jon. The way he was looking at Snow, and the way he was talking. His mannerisms. It was familiar in a way. Not familiar to Jon though.

“Come on Snow, we can finish this elsewhere.” Jon smiled.

It suddenly clicked. How could she not have seen it sooner? It was weeks ago, when Rudy dragged her to that Nick Flash movie. He wanted her to tag along just so he didn't look like a weirdo going to a chick-flick by himself. Though it was odd anyways, the main characters were a pair of cats. A sarcastic alley cat and a country-bred farm cat.

Lupa was very aware of the extent of Snow's mind games. She had him bewitched into living out her favorite romantic moments. The charm just changed his appearance. That had to be it.

“You're manipulating him.” Lupa paused for a moment. Snow looked at Lupa with sheer disbelief.

“Excuse me?”

“You're trying to make him act like that stupid cat from A Night to Remember, you little devil.” Lupa crossed her arms.

Jon looked back at Snow, his eyes wide. Now it all made sense! The headaches, his sudden loss of control over his own body. He was too shocked to speak.

“Snow...is that true?”

“Of course not! I don't even like that movie.” Snow said, Jon knew it was a thinly veiled lie. She went to see it with Fido awhile back. Fido was griping about it, as a matter of fact.
She was treating it like one of those movies too. The way she was acting. The sudden drama, the romantic mood-swings. The liar revealed. Jon laughed a little and looked at Lupa.

“Jon don't be that way...I wouldn't mess with your mind.” Snow smiled, her nerves nearing the surface. She was not going to resort to psychic powers to prove her point. That would only make them more suspicious.

“It makes sense Snow, I'm sorry.” Jon walked towards her. “I do admit, it is kind of fun being the suave romantic lead though.”

“What?” Lupa and Snow both exclaimed.

“Are you still messing with his head?”

Jon shook his head and held Snow's paws. She knew for a fact that nothing this night was her doing. But it was nice to know that Jon was the forgiving type. Even then, the way it was all spelled out, it was quite suspicious. Snow reached over and stroked the charm dangling from Jon's neck. It was burning hot. Then, in a short instant, time froze. The world around her paused.

“Why hello Snow.” A voice spoke from the back of her mind.

“Okay what is going on.” Snow looked around herself.

“Just call me Kitsune. I'm a friend of a friend that knows a lot about you.” The Kitsune spoke. His voice floating through her mind.
Snow looked at the frozen figures of her friends. Denver and Lupa with frozen faces of shock. Jon with that suave smile. The one that Jack had in the film. She stroked the charm on his neck and frowned.

“I know you have a bunch of questions, and I have answers. You see I have been watching you for awhile. I tend to keep my radar on psychics.” Kitsune said. Snow looked around herself. “I will admit you have some issues to deal with. And dealing with issues is a hobby of mine.”

Snow looked around herself. Max's hangout was starting to blackout. Leaving her hanging in a dark abyss with just those three other frozen figures and the disembodied voice. It made her feel queasy.

“Jon ended up a cosmic plaything for a night. I did not explain the true effects of his little trinket at all. Your friend Lupa is quite observant, she noticed that he was behaving much like your were manipulating him.”

“But..I wasn't was I?”

“Not on purpose.” Kitsune replied. “The trinket was to make him the date you wanted, to mold and change him. To give you our power for a night.”

“And...this accomplished?”

“We are about to find out.” The Kitsune said.
Snow could not see him, but she was quite sure he was smiling. She looked at Jon and stroked his cheek. He was still warm and soft, even in that frozen pose.

“You have two choices Snow.” Kitsune spoke. The trinket on Jon's neck began to glow. “You can choose to leave that little charm on him for the rest of his days. But at the cost of his free-will. You will have full control of him, and he will no longer be his own person.”
Snow thought that one over for a minute. It was so tempting. Gone would be Jon's awkwardness, she could shut him up when she wanted. She could mold him into whatever she desired. Which she noticed was not all that bad. In fact new Jon was so much better. The Jon she had envisioned.

“Or, the charm is gone, you can have regular old Jon back. His free will intact.”

Give him his life back. That was the right thing, she knew. But she was not so keen on the right thing. There was the right thing, and the better thing. What would he say though, if he was watching her right now? Would he just give himself up so easily? Even though he seemed so much happier with these added traits, he might have only been happy because she made him think he was. So where's the harm in that? Ignorance is bliss after all. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

“Okay, I'm ready.”

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


Mon Oct 14, 2013 3:31 am
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
Well this is interesting.

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Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:10 am
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
Okay, I've read over this update, done some thinking, and now I'm ready to make a comment.

From now on, I'm calling Snow a villain.
No good guy would consider taking away someone's free will so they could have a perfect love toy.
She also didn't consider they if the charm really does take away all of Jon's free will, it's not just gonna be Lupa who notices that he's changed.
If ignorance really meant bliss then school is taking away our pursuit of happiness.
Even if she decides to not take away Jon's free will, it will be long before I forgive her for considering it in the first place.

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Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:24 pm
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
Yeah, another update! :D
Well, I think I know where this is going. My guess is that Snow will choose the new Jon and then she'll learn by the hard way what's the true meaning of love. Of course at first will be pure romance and fun but give it some time and you'll see that there is no love in that, because she is dating with an empty body. A mannequin. You can dress it the way you want, but no matter what kind of clothes it's using it'll never be a real person.
The beauty of love is the unpredictable. Is those awkward moments between the lovers. The fights. The reconciliations. The give and take. The differences are the roots of true love. You know that you truly love someone when you are willing to accept him/her the way he/she is, no matter what, no buts.
When she find out that Jon has gone forever she'll regret of her decision immediately. And then, after so many pleas and tears Kitsune will just snap his fingers and all of this will be a dream.

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Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:53 pm
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
So Kitsune has forced Snow to deal with her issues, pushing her to the crossroads. Let us hope she chooses the correct path and realizes her own faults before she loses everything.

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Tue Oct 15, 2013 10:15 pm
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
Housepets: Pet Project

12. Redux
Lupa's eyes eased open. She was home. She knew not how or why, but Lupa had found herself home. A massive yawn contorted her face for a moment. From her bed she could see the peach tinted horizon. Night had not been so long ago. She licked her chops and tried to piece her thoughts together.

Was it all a dream?

The wild goose chase for Jon. The magic fox creature. Her waking mind scoffed at such notions. I must have eaten too soon before bed or something, she rationalized to herself. Lupa tumbled towards her bedroom door. Her neck felt stiff from such a rough sleep. One foot in front of the other. Until one foot bumped into a mass of fur upon the ground.

“Don't look at me I'm innocent!”

Denver cried out as he jumped up from the ground. Every strand of hair stood on its end. One cursory glance about the room confused him further.

“This isn't my house.”

Denver looked into Lupas eyes. No words were exchanged. Lupa turned around while Denver followed her through her house to the front door. Of course it was not a dream. It was another mind trick. Or something of that nature Lupa threw open her front door.
A bright red convertible with a black stripe along the side pulled up to the curb. Sitting in the front seat was her Uncle Jack. He beamed with pride, a limp balaclava lay in the seat next to him. Lupa took one look at him and then at the car. She looked back into her house and saw his ankle bracelet resting on the coffee table. Right beside it was an empty bucket of margarine.

“Oh Lupa! Fancy seeing you up this early.” Jack said. “'sup Denver?”

“Um...nothing much.” Said Denver.

“I don't even want to know. I'm leaving again, and when I get back that car better be back where you found it.” Said Lupa.
“But...”

“What are you? Two? Get that car out of here!” Lupa snapped.

The tires on the car squealed as Jack peeled out into the street and sped off. Lupa nodded and began running again. Denver took a deep breath and groaned, but tried his best to match her pace.

“So what's the plan?” Denver said, gasping for air every other word.

“Depends. Worst case scenario, we have to talk Snow into trying to fix this. And something tells me she's not going to listen.”

“Okay...wait whose house do you think they're at?”

“I don't know.”

Lupa made an abrupt stop. Her mind was doing back flips and cartwheels. She took one breath after another. Each second she spent was dedicated to reconfiguring her thoughts.

“You check your house since that's closer, I'll check Snow's house.”

Lupa bolted to the right at the next crossroads they reached. Denver didn't even have time to respond. He just kept running towards his own home. The thought that he was that much closer to no longer running excited him. Yet the possible chance that his brainwashed brother would await him pulled at his already frayed nerves. Sometimes he wondered what life would be like had he rejected Peanut's offer back at the shelter. No craziness. No wolves. No psychic powered cats with attitude issues.

“Jeez life would be boring wouldn't it?”

He said out loud, to no one in particular but himself.
~~
Babylon Gardens glowed beneath the rays of the rising sun. Long shadows tailed behind tall trees and buildings. Lupa ran from patch of shad to patch of shade. Soon the summer heat would reach unbearable temperatures. Someday, she thought, I am going to live in the mountains where it's cold all the time. She cut through yards. Hopped over fences. Until she saw the front porch of the Byron household. The she-wolf stumbled to a halt in front of the door and paused to catch her breath. One clawed finger had jabbed the doorbell.

She tapped her foot and paced about. Her sensitive ears could pick up the gentle thud of paws on carpet. Then the faint brushing of paw pads against the hard tile floor of the entry way. The doorknob turned and there Fido stood.

“Is Jon here?” Lupa sputtered.

“Yeah I'll go get him.” Said Fido. “Is everything alright? You look like you just ran a marathon.”

Lupa just nodded her head. Fido's house leaked cold air-conditioned atmosphere onto the porch. Lupa savored the sweet repose from the mounting summer heat. Fido scratched his chin, turned on his heels, and strode off towards the kitchen. Lupa feared that everyone in the house had their minds altered. They would think Jon was never a dog. He was always a cat to them. Somehow she and Denver were alone in their resistance to the changes.

It was at that moment that, instead of Jon, Snow rounded the corner.

“You!”

“Calm down.” Said Snow. “We're having breakfast.”

“Don't you get snide with me, I know what you did to him. I thought you were his friend!”

Snow looked a little hurt by the accusation. Lupa took a few steps towards her. A solid silence seized the room. Snow's eyes glimmered and for a moment it seemed that all of the air had been sucked out of the room.

“Let's keep this civil. We both know what we're capable of.” Said Snow. “Besides I just cleaned up in here.”

“Fine. Tell me what happened last night?”

“I–"

“Hey Lupa!”

Jon waved at her from behind Snow. It was regular old Jon. Floppy ears and all.

“He's fine.” Said Snow.

Lupa seemed shocked by the revelation. Had she not been flustered from running, both cat and dog would have seen her blush. Lupa wiped her forehead and shut the door behind her.

“I don't blame you for being mad at me.” Said Snow. “I'm a little mad at me too.”

“I'm not mad.” Lupa shrugged. “Anymore.”

“See told you she wouldn't stay mad.” Jon said.

“You don't seem too phased by all of this Jon.” Said Lupa. “You are aware of what happened right?”

“I'm just counting my blessings.” Said Jon. “It's not everyday you can say you were spared mental reconfiguration by cosmic forces beyond comprehension.”

“She almost took your free will away, and you're not at all upset?” Said Lupa.

Snow winced at the words.

“I was a little.” Jon nodded. “But no sense in bashing her for the decision she didn't make. She cared enough to leave my brain alone.”

Lupa smiled a little. That pup might have been a little too forgiving, but at least someone was happy The three of them sat in silence for a moment before Snow spoke up.

“How about we finish discussing this after breakfast. It's probably getting cold and Sab- I mean mom, will get on my case about it.” Said Snow.

“I don't know...”

“We were already expecting you.” Said Jon.

Lupa gave Jon a concerned look, but he just gave her his best smile. She chalked up the statement to Snow's tendency to read minds. Though she did not realize it was that powerful. The trio made their way through the house and to the kitchen. Pancakes were stacked on a plate and the succulent aroma of breakfast sausage wafted across Lupa's nose. Fido and Sabrina were chatting with each other, Fido was sliding on in his uniform and Sabrina had just barely sat down to fill her own plate. Already seated at the table was another familiar face.

“Denver?” Said Lupa. “How did you get here before me?”

“Funny story that. I decided to call Jon when I realized he wasn't at my house. He explained the whole situation to me and said I was welcome to come over. My grandpa, you know Earl, was on his way to work so I hitched a ride here.”

“When were you going to call me?” Said Lupa.

“I figured you would be here soon.”

Denver hid his head a little. His tail was stiff and his ears were low. Lupa smiled at him, took her seat between Snow and Denver, and ruffled the fur atop his head. He sighed with relief. Denver relaxed a little in his seat. Lupa had so many questions, but it was hard to deny her hunger. That sausage smelled heavenly. Maybe it would do her body good to get something to eat.
~~

The four of them remained at the table after breakfast. Sabrina had left for Tarot's house, no doubt to address the previous night's incidents. Fido had left for work shortly before then. Leaving them all alone to talk amongst themselves.

“How did everyone get home if that wasn't a dream.” Said Lupa.

She took a liberal sip of orange juice. It was a little stronger than she would have liked. Maybe the milk was a better option.

“When everyone blanked out, the Kitsune, Arcana, and Tarot swooped by and picked us all up.” Said Jon. “I even got to chat with them a bit this morning before they went to Sabrina's old house.”

“Alright now if those guys are your friends, what's with the whole mind control thing.”

“It turns out that the Kitsune has some friends at F&M Inc.” Said Jon.

“Excuse me?”

“Fables and Morals incorporated. You know, the guys who had Androcles and that lion cross paths. The guys who said the tortoise and the hare should race.” Said Snow.

“The Kitsune knew she wouldn't screw me over.” Jon said. “Even if she was tempted to.”

“It was scary how close it came to happening though.” Snow said, her voice drew to a hushed tone. “After all was said and done, I felt terrible. I still feel terrible.

“Well, if it means anything, I'm sorry I misjudged you Snow. You understand where I was coming from right?” Said Lupa.

“I understand.” Snow replied.

She frowned a little and looked down. Lupa took one look at the cat and decided that perhaps she had overstayed her welcome. Lupa stood from her seat.

“Good.” Said Lupa. “I better get home, I need to make sure Uncle Jack isn't getting into any more trouble.”

“Ah, see you later then.” Said Jon.

“Later you guys. And Snow, cheer up, if Jon can get over it. I think you can get over it too.”

Lupa waved her paw before she left the kitchen. The front door opened and then shut in rapid succession. Snow looked around to see if Denver was paying any attention. He was already in the living room, playing some video game. It was just her and the dog. She sniffled a little and stood up. Jon looked up at her, his cheerful demeanor marred by sudden concern.

“Hey...what's wrong?” Said Jon.

“I don't get you. Really, I think you fell from Mars and you just look like a dog.” Said Snow.

She tried to laugh, but it came out as a stifled sob.

“I'm not following you...”

“I nearly ruined your life!” Snow snapped. “I mean I nearly took your life, everything you cared for, everything you ever wanted and loved, and I nearly crushed it for some stupid girlish fantasy.”

“So?”

“So?” Said Snow. “How can you be so calm about this!”

“Like I said, I'm not going to bash you for something you did not do.”

“You're acting like things are still the way they were before.”

“Aren't they?” Said Jon.

“No Jon, they aren't.” Snow sobbed. “I-I can't even look at your stupid puppy dog grin any more without feeling like I am the worst person in the world.”

“I'm sorry...”

“You're sorry? Why are you of all people sorry?”

The sheer silence between the two was deafening. Even Denver had paused his game to listen. Jon could see him peeking over the couch.

“But...we're friends right?” Jon managed to eek out.

“I don't think it would be right.”

Jon's face alternated between pain and confusion. Why was she yelling at him? Even when he wasn't wrong he felt like he was wrong. He took a few steps back and tried not to whimper. And, in an instant he realized, this was no time to back down and cry. Not if he could help it.

“Snow...”

“I'm sorry, but I don't trust myself at all anymore. I've learned my lesson, okay? That fox showed me enough. At my core I'm no better than Alana and people like her.”

The dog took a deep breath and reached towards her cheek. She took a step back and glared at him through tears. He took a step closer.

“If that were the case then I would be your mindless slave right now.” Said Jon.“You know the Kitsune told me the whole story? Even what was going through your mind at the time.”

Snow said nothing. She looked away and sniffled. Jon tried to ease the situation with a smile.

“He told me every thing he said to me. How much better I seemed. How much you wanted to keep your new puppet. It was frightening at first, but there was a part near the end that made me forgive you in an instant. I would not have picked up on it had he never told me. But you know me...”

“Dumb dog to the end.” Snow said, a weak smile formed on her lips.

“I liked you better as the dumb dog that was my best friend, and not some silly puppet.”

“But you didn't use the word like.”

Jon eased in a little closer. Snow's face grew hot.

“You know you can only trust Kitsune about as far as you can throw him.” Snow replied.

“How about spirit dragons?” Said Jon.

Snow felt her words become lodged in the back of her throat. Her mind was a mess of mixed emotions. She wanted to be mad still. To scare off this dog before she really hurt him without ever meaning it. After she came so close the night before.

“Fine, but I might have been lost in the moment. Might have said something I didn't mean.” Said Snow.

“Okay. Then stop me.” Said Jon. The dog leaned his head a little closer to hers.

“I-I thought I took the charm off.” Snow said.

“This is all me.”

Jon smiled and tried to remember the way he did it under her influence. Other him had some pretty sweet moves. He fumbled a little trying to hug her. It felt awkward, but nice.

“I learned a bit of a lesson too.”

“And that would be?” Snow said.

She reached up to shove him off. She slipped a little and fell into his chest. A hot blush could be felt through her fur.

“That it's kind of fun having a bit of a backbone. Even if it wasn't me in charge the whole time, it was nice to feel...tough I guess.”

Jon gave Snow a toothy grin, to which she replied with a laugh. He noted the way her eyes actually lit up with the smile. He looked up and saw Denver trying to pretend like he wasn't watching.

“You? Tough?”

“I can't promise you everything, it won't hurt to be a little more assertive. You know, like you.” Said Jon.

“And I think I could learn a thing or two from you.”

“Like what?”

“I'll tell you when I think of something.”

Snow started to feel her shoulders relax. Her stomach churned and her face burned. She had felt this way once before. Not on her date, but in a place she never expected to feel it. Jon and Snow stood there in the kitchen for a moment longer.

“You're right about one thing.” Said Jon. “Don't think we can go back to the way we were. But one thing is still kind of nagging me.”

“Go on.”

“When did you start feeling, you know, this way?”

“Oh jeez don't make me say it.” Said Snow.

“Awww come on Snow. If you don't tell me I'll just ask Kitsune.” Said Jon.

He winked at her and swayed a little. Just like his dad did when she hugged his mom. He figured it might help her relax.

“Alright fine. It was a little before you tried that first kiss.” Said Snow.

“That long? You mean that?”

Jon's eyes lit up with surprise. He laughed a little to himself. Snow just ignored him.

“Sure. You're kind of cute. Maybe a little annoying at times, but it's hard to stay mad at a teddy bear of a dog.”

Now Jon felt the blood rush to his face. He glanced up and down his body and noted the teddy bear comment. Jon could see Denver giggle from the corner of his eye.

“Didn't realize that aspect of me was all that attractive.”

“On you it is.”

Snow's eyes narrowed, a wry half smile lit up her lips. Jon knew that look all too well.

“But I'm not all about looks. I was more hooked on the sweet and sometimes smart guy up here...”

Snow poked Jon's forehead, and then his stomach.

“...than what any of this looks like.”

Jon and Snow held each other while time just peddled on. One thing led to another. They were out of things to say. Snow was done with fighting, Jon was done with defending. He made the first couple of moves, but this time Snow was more in touch with what was going on.

He placed his hand on the back of her head and pulled her close. Snow wrapped her arms around his neck. A day could have passed and he would not have known it. He would not have cared either. He made the first move. Snow followed suit. Their lips locked together when the met in the middle. The two of them stared at each other like lightning had shot up their spines. Jon's shaking paws refused to let go, and Snow found her own arms glued around Jon's neck. Snow broke the kiss first.

“Does that mean we can say...you know what.” Said Snow.

Her lips felt numb and her jaw felt limp.

“Say what?”

“You know.”

“No, I don't.”

“I think I love you.”

“That's a strong word.”

Jon chuckled, but he felt so out of breath it just came out as a wheeze.

“We just did something strong.” Snow said.

“Good point.” Jon said. “Let's try this again later. We have an audience.”

“Let's not disappoint him.”

Jon gasped and felt his head pulled back into another kiss. He would have protested further. Would have, if it was not for how heavy his arms felt.
~~
Sabrina tucked her legs beneath herself. It had been a long while since she had set foot in her old home. She had to admit it was nice to find herself in such a familiar locale. Tarot and Arcana sat next to each other on the sofa. Kitsune stood by the window with a cup in his hand.

“I would appreciate it if you told me what you were up to first.” Said Sabrina.

“Sorry to leave you out of the loop. Kitsune said it would be better.” Said Tarot.

“Can't have mom interfering with the match-maker can we now?' Said Kitsune.

The fox gave her a snide grin. Sabrina's eyes narrowed a little. Why did fox deities have to be so conniving?

“I wouldn't have interfered.”

“Says you.” Said Kitsune. “She's your only kid. The only one that lives with you and understands what its like to be you. And who else would teach her the proper way to use their powers if not you? You had every reason to interfere.”

“Just relax Sabrina. Snow's a good kid.” Said Arcana. “Kitsune was prepared to take this little experience further than need be had she chosen poorly.”

Sabrina turned back towards the fox and glared daggers.

“Did you have to tell mom that?” Said Kitsune. “I'm glad Snow didn't. A memory reconfiguration of that magnitude would have cost a ton of resources.”

Sabrina did not appreciate his demeanor. Silence pervaded the very aura around her. Had Kitsune been a mere mortal, his eyes might
have exploded.

“Relax mom, it would not have been permanent. It might have been like half a day's worth.” Said Kitsune. “Besides, both of them learned a valuable lesson in appreciating what is important.”

“You know you do have a point.” Said Sabrina.

Sabrina walked over to the fox. Kitsune chuckled at the sudden advance. The black cat balled up her fist and socked him in the cheek. His bemusement changed to pain in mere seconds.

“Curse this mortal flesh.” Said Kitsune.

“The next time you get it in that thick skull of yours to do anything to my kid – and my friends' kids – run the plan by me first. I would appreciate you not hurting them.”

“You're not helping your case by hitting me.”

Kitsune rubbed his cheek. Sabrina held up her fist again. He clenched his eyes shut and braced for another punch. When the pain did not come, he cracked his eyes open. It was just in time to see Sabrina's fingers rearing into the flicking position. He yelped when her finger made contact with his sensitive black nose.

“Okay I think he's been properly warned.” Said Sabrina. “Now what else did you guys want to talk to me about.”

“It's about Snow. Well you and Snow. Nothing terrible mind you.” Said Tarot.

“We think it might be fun for you guys to attend Psy-con with us.” Said Arcana.

Sabrina had never been too keen to attending conventions. Something about the atmosphere always bothered her. Too many weird people in one place. Tack on psychic powers to that setting and the weirdness levels pass beyond quantum horizons.

“I don't know...”

“Just think about it. Ask Snow what she thinks and then get back to us on it. We need to get passes this month.” Said Tarot.

“I'll think about it.”

Sabrina smiled at the two Pomeranians, then walked towards the door.

“Going so soon?” Said Tarot.

“I need to check up on Jon and Snow to see if they're okay.” Said Sabrina.

“Can we come with then? We haven't had a regular get-to-together in a long while.” Said Tarot.

Sabrina looked at her old friend and nodded. Tarot did have a point. Ever since she had moved out, life had been dedicated to building up her own family. She hoped that someday they could all live in their own home. Maybe an apartment or something. Fido's dad was kind for letting them stay in his house, but she did not want to mooch off his kindness forever.

“Just...no weird magic trinkets please.”

“You have my word.” Said Tarot.
~~

Jon paced back and forth. His small blue cellphone tucked between his shoulder and ear while his hands fiddled around with a knot of yarn. Snow and Denver were in the front room playing one of Fido's video games. Some race car game. He forgot the name.
“Hello?”

The dog sighed with relief. His parents had been unable to call him for days since they had landed in their little pet paradise. His dad's voice on the other line made him relax. Even if it sounded a little scratchy with static.

“Dad!”

“Hey son. They just got the phone tower running up here. Sorry for not being able to stay in touch.”

“No, no it's fine. I just tried on a whim tonight.” Said Jon. “How's the island?”

“Fine. I can't say much about it on the phone though. I think all calls leaving the island are monitored.”

“Ah, well you can tell me all about it when you come home.”

“Of course. How are things back home? You burn down the house yet?”

“Been working on it. Turns out moms books make good kindling.” Said Jon.

There was a faint rustling on the other end of the phone. Peanut was sniggering and Grape was shouting something about how unfunny that was. Peanut rejoined the conversation shortly thereafter.

“Mom says she misses you.” Said Peanut. “What else is new?”

“I'm going on a date with Snow tonight.” Said Jon.

Or blurted, rather. If he could have seen his father's face, there would have been a simple smile. That was one thing he had expected. Had Jon called about marriage, then there would be trouble. Peanut shifted around a bit in his seat.

“Did she ask you, or you ask her?”

“I asked her.”

“Mom owes me ten bucks.” Said Peanut. “Well congrats son. I'd dispense advice, but I don't think you called just for that.”

“Actually...I was curious. What's something you and mom did when you first started going out.”

“Um...let's see. There's the mall. We went to movies. I'm sure we would have gone to Max's place had it existed back in the day. We attempted mini-golf once, but mom got a little too competitive.”

“What happened?”

“I'm not allowed to say.” Said Peanut. “Not while she's listening at least.”

“Okay. Any other advice?”

“Don't stink. Open the door. Pull out her chair – before she sits in it, not while she is sitting in it. Make sure you don't have anything in your teeth. Oh, and most important. Be yourself.”

“Who else would I be?”

Jon chuckled uncomfortably, Snow and him decided keep quiet about his real first date.

“That's my boy.” Said Peanut. “I miss you guys by the way. It's too quiet here without you guys.”

“I miss you too dad.” Said Jon. “How is mom?”

“Asleep. It's kind of late here.”

“Ah, then maybe I should let you go.”

The line was quiet for a moment. Save for the static produced by the bad quality of the call. Peanut exhaled from the other end of the line. It sounded a little disappointed.

“You go get ready for your date then. Oh, let me talk to Denver while you do that.” Said Peanut.

“Will do dad.” Said Jon. “Love you, and tell mom I love her too.”

“You got it.” Said Peanut. “Bye son.”

Thousands of miles away, Peanut was sitting at the edge of his bed. Grape's breathing was quiet and even. There was a light scratching at the window. Peanut looked up. It might have been a tree branch. Or something else.
There was another scratching sound.

Peanut stood from his bed. He made quiet and deliberate footsteps towards the window. Something moved through the branches when he stood up. It was like the shadow of a shadow. His throat felt dry. His haunches were raised. There was a small plastic bag caught in the branches of the tree.

It caught the wind at just a right angle, so that when there was breeze, the branch would brush against the window. Peanut slid the window open and reached out to the bag. There was something at the bottom of the bag.

“Is that...”

Peanut grasped the bag and pulled it from the branch. There was a piece of paper at the bottom. Three pieces of instructions were written on dirtied piece of paper.

MEET IN 1 HOUR
CALLOWAY CAFE
ASK FOR “MARIA ROSSLAN”

“Maria who?” Said Peanut.

He had a faint idea of who that just might be. He glanced over the name once more. Three As, an N, and one L.

“Dad?”

Peanut set the paper down and held the phone to his ear. Meanwhile, he searched around the small desk he was provided. He needed to find a map of the city. There was one he got at the orientation. Now where did he keep it?

“Hey Denver. How's it going?”

“Just the same old, same old.” Said Denver. “Well, besides Jon and Snow. I bet he told you.”

Peanut shifted aside a few books. One book accidentally tumbled to the ground. There was a slight thud upon landing. He turned towards Grape to see if she had been jostled awake. All was silent. Peanut reached down to pick up the book, only to find that tucked between its pages was the map. He must have used it for a book mark.

“Yes he did. Can't say I'm surprised either.”

“Me neither...I guess.”

“You okay son?” Said Peanut.

“I'll be fine.”

“You can tell me anything. Remember that.” Said Peanut.

Though he was a little distracted at the moment. He glanced over the map in the cool moonlight. Calloway cafe was near that huge tower at the center of the city. Maybe the tram was still online. There had to be some way to accommodate animals living the night life. Grape probably would be out and about, had she not been exhausted by the day's events.

“Jon just gets weird around girls. That's all.”

“You'll understand someday. I don't think you'll be as bad as him. But you'll know what I mean when you get there.” Said Peanut.

“Okay dad.”

“That all?”

Denver took his time before answering.

“Yeah. That's all.”

“Alright. Well I hope you don't mind, but something work related came up. I need to get going.” Said Peanut. “Take care Denver.”

“You too dad.” Said Denver.

There was a short pause.

“I miss you guys.”

“Miss you too son. You keep your brother's head on straight, okay?”

“Okay.”

“Bye.”

The phone went quiet. Peanut stuffed the phone in his pants pocket, along with his new wallet. He pulled a backpack out from under his desk and put it on. He was not sure if he needed his equipment. Just in case, he thought to himself.

Just in case.
// ~~//
Author's Note: Guess what, this dimwit finally decided to update his fanfic. :lol: Sorry for the wait. I've been trying to improve my writing and spent way too much time on such things before I realized I had seemingly abandoned my fanfic. On a more personal note, I will be moving in with my girlfriend fairly soon. That's the good news! The slightly not so good news, that means another chapter might take some time. :oops:

On an unrelated note. I've found it easier to go back and edit my chapters for better cohesion. Plus I felt I could integrate ideas from my old rough draft better now that I'm a little better at this sort of thing. As of this writing, chapter 1 has been redone and includes a whole new scene that wasn't there before. It's like a directors cut!

Thanks for being patient and hanging around for this story for such a long while. Hope you enjoy this chapter.

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


Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:48 pm
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
Great chapter HI.

Yay, Jon and Snow finally kissed! :D

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Sat Feb 01, 2014 10:31 pm
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
Good to see you drop in on us! Congrats on the move man, hope it works out!

Nice scene with the kiss. Jon has some moves~ :lol:

Poor Denver. He seems to get the short end of the stick far too often. :(

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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
KISSY! YAY! :D
And, ahhh, Sabrina-punch FTW! Go girl!

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Sun Feb 02, 2014 8:19 am
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
What a surprise indeed. You just gave me my dose of nostalgia of the day. :D
Been so long since last time I read this fic. Thank god you didn't forgot about us. And congratulations to you and your girlfriend. My best wishes for both of you. ;)
And don't worry about time, as long as you keep updating this I'll be happy, no matter how long it takes. :P

So at the end Snow did the right choice and everything turned out beautifully.
The funny thing is that even though all the weird things they went last night they're now planning for a second date? What kind of madness and craziness awaits them at such fateful moment? Could possibly be a good idea to attend to the Psycon at all?

Hehe, that Kitsune is such a trickster. What a way to provoke a girl, man. He was just begging for that punch. But I have to say I loved how Sabrina managed the situation. He was lucky that Fido wasn't there or the snarky comments would have resulted in serious injuries.
Aww, I feel bad for Tarot, she feels so lonely. No one comes to visit her. Everyone! Quick, hurry up and hug her! *Tarot acquired all the hugs*

And now is time to see Peanut in action! And in a secret meeting with Alana no less! This is getting so exciting! Can't wait for the next update! X3

copper wrote:
Poor Denver. He seems to get the short end of the stick far too often. :(

Aww, why you say that? It's not like that. You have to understand that Denver is not like Jon at all. Jon is an hyperactive-kinetic and super-sociable pup who loves all kind of physical games and gets in trouble pretty easy because he tends to interfere with everyone's lives while Denver just prefers a relaxed lifestyle staying in home playing videogames and stay out of troubles as far as he can. However, he can't help but intervene in his brother's problems because he loves him.
I think everyone in that group has an important role. Jon is the charismatic face. Snow is the brillant mind. Lupa have the muscles. And Denver is the backbone of the team. He may not stand out too well surrounded of such great personalities but he's always supporting and guiding them in the right direction (specially his brother).

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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
just found out about this fic and read it in a few hours including TWBM and TNE
can't wait for the next update!
with so many good authors out there i need to read them all.
TWBM= the way back machine TNE= the new era.
if anyone wondered

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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
This was so good! I hope this gets updated, I wanna see what happens at the Island. Oh, and I LOVE SNOW+JON. About time they kissed. :P

Awesome Story.

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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
13. A Night on The Town I

Sweet scents mixed with damp air. Dim artificial light cast its glow from the open windows of the apartment complex. Peanut adjusted the leather belt that fastened his jeans to his hips. The dog scratched the scruff beneath his chin and paused to look at his map. He pressed further on.

“The tram station is down that way...and it gets off at Spinnaker.” Peanut said.

The silence loomed about him like a solid entity. He neared the edge of the residential district of “Paradise.” Peanut pondered the name for a moment. Were the pets at the forefront of change? Or were they simply on paid vacation?
This small town felt more and more like bribery. Bribery for what? He was not certain.

“Lost?”

Peanut looked up from his map to find a pair of glimmering yellow eyes. They floated in the darkness, just beyond the reach of the street lamps. He froze in their gaze. The smell of hot buttered popcorn tickled his nose.

“Want schom?” Said Luna.

A red-striped bag dangled from her right paw.

“No thanks.” Said Peanut. “And I'm not lost. Just looking for the tram that goes to Town Square.”

Luna swallowed her mouthful of popcorn. She walked towards him with a bit of a saunter. Her tail flicked back and forth to music that must have been playing in her head. She peeked over Peanut's shoulder to get a glimpse of his map.

“Fastest way is down that way.”

She gestured to a narrow alley way between a convenient store and a restaurant. Peanut looked back at the map and noticed a large gray square. It cut his trip in half.

“Hey that's pretty helpful.” Said Peanut. “Thanks...hold on have you been following me?”

A set of white pointed teeth caught the light at just the right angle. To say she was beaming was an understatement. Peanut took a step back.

“Nope. He has though.”

Luna pointed to the alley. The dog's head snapped in the direction before he even had a moment to think. He squinted at the darkness before turning to face Luna once more. All that was left was the faint smell of butter. Peanut shivered a little. He now had serious doubts about going down the alley.

Silhouettes of dangerous figures seemed to jump out in the shadows of the alley. Was the cat just jerking his leg? He would not put it past her. Then again maybe that was what she wanted him to think. Peanut took a deep breath. He wasted a good fifteen or so minutes just leaving his house to head for the tram. Forty-five left before he missed his window of opportunity.

The dog took a deep breath. Shaving time was his best bet. He did not want to miss whatever his “partner” discovered. Peanut spread his feet out shoulder width apart. He bent his knees and bounced a little.

Three...

He watched the shadows some more. All was safe. Wasn't it?

Two...

To second guess himself at this point would just be a waste of time. If he got mugged, all the perpetrator would get is some high tech surveillance gadgetry. Yeah, that's all.

One...

Peanut ran with the conviction of a horror movie heroine. That is to say, he started strong, but tripped halfway through the blinding darkness. He managed to cover his face before falling to the ground. The equipment stayed safe in his backpack. A pained groan slipped his lips while he lay in the alley.

When he felt good enough to move again, he shoved himself off the ground and back to his feet. Someday, he thought to himself, I will be able to look back and laugh. Peanut walked through the alley with a bit of a stagger.

“I would say you need balance in your life, but then I was never one for puns.”

Peanut stopped walking, then turned around. Oh crud, she wasn't lying. There in the darkness was a towering figure. The heat of its breath could be felt from where Peanut stood.

“How did I not see you there?”

“You were too focused on your destination to see even the most obvious of obstructions.” Said Torii. “That cardboard box you tripped on, for example.”

The hulking Tibetan mastiff spoke with the calmest of monotone voices. Peanut's eyes adjusted to the darkness, he managed to make out the dog's face. Peanut recognized him as one of the pets in his orientation group. Torii had been more silent than Chief Bromden the whole time. To hear his voice now turned his stomach.

“Okay, so is what Luna said true?” Said Peanut. “Have you been following me?”

“Miss Masters is in fact correct.” Said Torii. “Much to my chagrin. Seems I'm out of practice.”

“Mind if I ask why?”

Peanut huffed. He felt annoyed. More so at himself for not discovering this intruder. Torii did not respond for a good while. His eyes shifted along Peanut with scrutiny.

“You had a visitor earlier this evening. Judging by the scent, a female. A cat.” Said Torii. “Most would chalk it up to a love affair. I do not.”

“Alright so how did you know I had a visitor?”

“I live in the apartment next door. How could I not have seen the distinct cat shaped figure in the trees outside my window.”
Alana was very good at not getting caught, and if not that, then she was bad at being spotted. If this guy was on to her, then the whole operation was threatened. Peanut licked his lips.

“Okay. So you see strange cat come to my room. You notice me leave. Then you follow me out of...what? Curiosity?”

“Somewhat. Seems there's a bit more to your story than a family dog from Babylon Gardens.” Said Torii.
“That's none of your business.”

Peanut tensed his shoulders. Torii did not flinch. Exotic bugs chirped from their dark perches in the night.

“You stand more to lose in this dangerous game you are playing, family dog.” Said Torii. “You talk big for one of your stature, but is your bite worth anything?”

“Is that a threat?”

“It is a warning.” Said Torii. “Because on the path you walk, a bite is worth more than any word can say.”

Peanut stood no chance against the dog. His wife maybe. Too bad she stayed behind. Forget about running, Peanut could be fast if he wanted, but not fast enough. Peanut spread his legs shoulder width.

“I have no desire to harm you.” Said Torii. “You would know it if I did.”

Peanut bolted past Torii and did not look back. He wasted too much time already. He imagined Alana as the type of girl who hated waiting. Torii did not pursue him. He shook his head and watched. True to his word, he held no desire to hurt Peanut. Torii took a few steps towards the darkness of the alley, and disappeared.
~~

Sparks fizzled from the guide wire above Paradise city's tram. Peanut laid his head against a window. Day never left the city. Cats populated the night crowd, just as he suspected. Only a handful of dogs were out so late. Most were alone, if not working their evening job. One or two accompanied a cat.

“At least I'm not alone here.” Said Peanut. His breath fogged up the window. He wiped it away with his shirt sleeve.

Torii's “warning” rolled around in his mind. Peanut knew he stood no chance in a fight. He did not look threatening. Even in the faint reflection of himself in the glass, Peanut saw not a single alpha trait about him.
Peanut bared his teeth at the dog in the glass. Clean pearly whites shimmered back at him. Nothing threatened him by this gesture. A smile. That's all he saw. The tram hissed, then stopped after a few seconds. Peanut glanced down at his wrist watch. His time ticked away with each agonizing turn of the second-hand.

Doors along the sides of the tram opened. Animals stood from their seats. Peanut joined the slow wave of city-goers on their trek off the tram-car. Most of the animals wore backpacks. Peanut managed to blend right in with them. Nothing suspicious about him.
He hoped.

One by one the crowd dispersed into the lit plaza. A few were nose deep in their maps. Peanut moved towards town square. Lights, noise, smells, constant stimulus. His head ached with sensory overload. Peanut walked along the fencing around the Milton Tower. Flags from countries all over the world surrounded a massive fountain. Smooth stone statues of animals and humans adorned the basin.

“Of all evenings you choose to gawk at things, it had to be this one? I'm starting to regret our partnership. Had you not been standing there I would have gone home.”

“Yeah? Well the feeling's mutual.” Said Peanut.

The calico cat folded her arms and stood beside him. She stood no taller than Grape. In fact, she had been an inch or so shorter. He had only seen her up close once. Not enough time to get a good look either. She turned her head towards him. Her striking green eyes were a hue that rivaled even the spirit dragon's. The black patch of fur on the right side of her face only exacerbated the effect.

“Let's get this over with then, shall we?” Alana said.

She hoisted a bag over her right shoulder and walked ahead. Peanut took a deep breath, then followed.

“Where's your wife?” Said Alana.

“Figured things would be easier if she didn't have to know.”

Alana exhaled. Was it out of relief? Seemed even she feared Grape to some extent. Peanut did not speak. Nor did Alana. Not until they walked down an alleyway between a restaurant and a night club. Scents of a warm meal mingled with the toxic air within the bowels of the club.

“I hoped we could talk in the quiet of our original rendezvous point, but we're running out of time.” Said Alana.

She set the bag down and removed a set of dark blue garments. She pulled a balaclava over her head, the orange and black patterns in her fur disappeared into the darkness. She let out an amused purr.

“Been awhile since I did some stealth work, I almost feel giddy.” Alana murmured to herself.

“Okay then, what am I here for?”

“You are going to buy me time.” Said Alana. “Hand me your bag please.”

Peanut did so. Alana sifted around, then removed a handful of miniature microphones. They were no thicker than the tip of her index finger.

“Six animals are meeting in the VIP booth of that club tonight. Six animals, each for the six investors of the project. Keene Milton will be there as well.” Said Alana. She slipped into the tight garments and fixed a headset to the balaclava.

“With a little help from your raccoon friend, we managed to get you on the VIP list. Well, sort of.” Said Alana. “We got Wilson Wilkes on the list. From what I understand you are good at playing parts? Imaginate is what you call it?”

“I guess so...”

“Well you'd better know so in the next thirty minutes.” Said Alana. “Now hold still.”

Alana pulled a theater make-up kit from the bag she brought along. Her skilled hands poked and prodded his face. Peanut felt like how a clown looks. His cheek-fur heavy with paste and powder. He wanted to rub it, but Alana slapped his hand.

“Don't even think about it.” Said Alana. “Okay, not my best work, but it'll have to do.”

Alana opened a cosmetic mirror to show Peanut the damage. He swallowed his gasp and chuckled a little. He looked ten, no, fifteen years older. Gray hairs peppered his muzzle, along with his head-fur. His usual caramel brown fur now appeared several shades darker. Almost like chocolate. The lighter brown fur on his muzzle appeared unchanged.

“Where did you learn to do that?” Peanut felt all tension ease away. He tried silly expressions with his new face. Grumpy, excited, curious, anxious. Even though he made the faces, it felt like someone else gawked back at him through the mirror.

“You pick up a few things when you're a wanted criminal.” Said Alana. “Alright, so Wilson Wilkes won't be joining the meeting, but he will be joining in on the entertainment.”

“Okay?”

“You need to stall them long enough for me to plant some bugs in the meeting room.” Said Alana. She handed him a neat folded pair of shorts and a gaudy blue shirt with floral designs peppered on it. “Put this on please.”
Peanut froze in place.

“Oh for the love of...” Said Alana. “We don't have time for this. Just get changed will you.”
His cheeks grew hot and turned crimson. How odd he felt, like Adam after partaking of the fruit. Peanut looked down at the clothes.

“But you'll be watching.” Whined Peanut.

“Need I remind you that you've spent at least ninety percent of your life nude?” Said Alana.

She did have a point. Peanut sighed and eased out of the pet friendly jeans and t-shirt. A shiver ran up and down his spine.
One foot after the other he slid into the shorts. They hung loose at his waist. His tail kept them from falling. Peanut glanced over the button up shirt. He did not even see himself wearing it and knew how ridiculous it looked. It, like the pants, draped off him in loose folds. The get-up made him look like a child in his father's clothes.

“Not sure these are the right size.”

“I do admit they look a bit roomy. That's what I get for asking the raccoon I suppose.” Alana rubbed her temples. Would nothing go right that evening?

“Can't you just, I dunno, psychic them to my size or something?”

“Oh and can't you just got up a pants size and a half or something?” Alana hissed.

“Sorry, just a suggestion.” Said Peanut.

“We don't have time for this. Just work it into your act.” Said Alana. “Take this ear-piece so we can stay in touch.”

“Why not just use telepathy?”

“I'm starting to have doubts that you dated a psychic for so long.” Said Alana. “Once we're in there I will barely be able to hear myself think. Let alone communicate with telepathy.”

“Tarot could do it no matter what.”

“And if I was an avatar I bet I could too.” Alana grumbled.

“Former avatar.” Said Peanut. “So the great Alana isn't as tough as she thinks?”

Peanut chuckled while they approached the back door of the night club. A small window opened by mere inches sat just beyond Peanut's reach. Alana's green eyes burned with her intense glare.

“Watch it pooch or the species boundary won't be the only reason you can't have kids.” Said Alana. “Now hoist me up there.”

Peanut grinned, happy to know he found a way under her skin. The disguised dog squatted down and let Alana clamber onto his back. He wobbled a bit under her weight, though he managed to hold her. Maybe the occasional trip to the gym wouldn't be so bad.
Alana opened the window and crawled inside. She had her job, now he had to work on his. Peanut jogged around the corner and towards the front entrance to the night club. He grabbed at his loose shorts in an attempt to keep them from rolling off his hips.

A line formed at a pair of wide doors by the club entrance. Their chrome sheen glistened in the plaza lights. Two circular windows teased a look within. Yet they showed nothing at all at the same time. Peanut took his place in line and waited.

A part of him wished Alana joined him through the front entrance. At least he knew her. Now he found himself stuck behind a cat that bobbed to the muffled beats of the house music inside, and a party of cats with a lone dog in the middle. He thought of Joey and his fascination with being a cat. He tried not to dwell much beyond that. It served to remind him that he now was in a strange land far away from home.

The line cleared animal by animal. Peanut saw a bouncer ahead. He dressed sharp. A black blazer hung off his imposing shoulders and a white shirt snug against his broad chest. Peanut hoped the border collie would be nicer than he looked.

The bouncer wore a white name tag in a lanyard draped around his neck. Steve, it read, in bold sans-serif letters. Even though the experiment attempted to prove the animals were “human” too, they still got a collar on him.

Peanut found himself ducking to the side a mere moment after he saw the tag. A scrawny cat flew past him. The cat cursed and yelled noises that tried their best to become words. His “I love to party” t-shirt stained by the muck in the gutter.

So much for the nice bouncer.

Peanut took a deep breath and watched the line move along. He braced himself. The bobbing cat ahead of him got in no problem. His bobbing intensified the moment he walked through the chrome double doors. Peanut stood next in line. He took a step forward. The doors swung back open and a pair of dogs walked to the current bouncer. Nothing struck him as odd about one dog, but his undivided attention focused on the second dog.

He stood at Peanut's height. Not too tall, not too short. Not all that broad in the chest. Yet still built. It was apparent, even through his clothing. His fur looked like a familiar caramel color, with his muzzle a lighter shade of brown. The similarities were too much to call it a coincidence. Peanut tried to catch a glimpse of the name-tag.

“What are you looking at?”

“Oh!” Peanut snapped to attention and into his new persona. He tried on a gruffer, older voice. “Just lost in my thoughts is all.”

That second dog. That familiar one. He was in charge. Not a doubt about it.

“Do I know you?”

“As you should! I'm Wilson Wilkes.” Said Peanut. “World famous doer, of, er, things.”

Steve skimmed over at his clip-board. His eyes darted left to right. After a few seconds of waiting, his eyes paused on the page. Steve nodded to his boss.

“He's on the VIP list.” Said Steve. “You want me to escort him to the VIP lounge?”

“No you go on break, I was having Marley here come and relieve you. I'll show him his way.”

Steve nodded and handed the clip-board to the other dog. Peanut took the time to read the boss's name tag. Bud. Just three bold black letters. The name did not ring any bells. Steve pushed his way through the double doors while Bud gestured for Peanut to follow.
Peanut complied. They pushed through the doors. A wave of strong smells and loud music swept over Peanut. Bud jugged to catch up with Steve. Peanut stumbled behind them. In an attempt to keep up with his “act.” He tried his hardest to listen in on their conversation over the music.

“So how's your boy?” Said Bud.

“He's fine, just a little nervous about this whole island thing I think. He avoided talking to anyone in our group on orientation day.” Said Steve. “Don't blame him either. I'm still getting used to it all this stuff myself. I can't imagine how he feels.”

“I'm sure he'll manage.”

“I hope so.” Said Steve. “He's the reason I came here. Thought he needed something more in life other than being, well, a pet. Ya know?”

“I felt the same way for myself.”

Steve nodded a little.

“Ever have experience with that sort of thing.” Said Steve.

“With what?”

“Kids.”

“No not really. I've always been too busy for that sort of thing.”

“Oh, sorry to hear that.”

“Don't sweat it.” Said Bud.

Peanut took a few steps back to appear more inconspicuous. Peanut fought the urge to touch his face. Lest he rub away the make up. Bud and Steve split up just before they met the crowd. Dancing, lights, drinks. Peanut shook his head. People went there to have fun and relax. He went there on business.

Bud did not speak once to Peanut. Not that Peanut bothered to make conversation. The dog intimidated him. Bud stopped at the first step of a glass staircase. Giant blots of ink swirled around in water that filled the stairs. Bud handed Peanut a small metal VIP pin.

“VIP room is at the top. Enjoy your evening mister Wilkes.”

Peanut smiled and nodded. Bud stared back. After an uncomfortable moment of silence, Peanut trudged his way up the stairs. Cool air billowed from vents installed in the ceiling. A welcome change to the humid heat of the island. Peanut pushed the door open. His made-up cover story swam around in his head.

“This better be worth it Alana.” Peanut muttered to himself.
~~
Alana rolled through the window and landed on all fours. She heard Peanut's soft footfalls from outside. Alone at last. According to the building schematics, she found herself in the staff bathrooms. Lady's room or not, a cat dressed like a ninja would still be an odd sight.

She needed to get out of there.

The calico pressed her ear to the door. No sounds. Just the faint rhythm of the music. She pushed the door open a crack and peeked out. No signs of anyone. The staff must have been busy. Alana slipped out of the room and made her way down a short hallway. She took careful steps on the hard tile floor.

She knew there were only two entrances and exits into the VIP meeting room. The front door and the emergency exit. One way would trigger an emergency alarm. Security guarded the other way in. Impenetrable save for a five second window of opportunity.
When the security changed shifts, the bouncers would focus their attention on that for a moment. She just needed to be there at the right moment.

Nothing too hard for her, kids stuff compared to that heist in Panama. Then again, backup back then meant an experienced thief. Not some sub-urban mutt in makeup. For Boris, she reasoned. Get Boris pardoned by her friend up top. Then she could get out of the United States. Maybe go hide in Aruba or something.

Alana followed a network of hallways to a steep maintenance elevator. She crawled over the safety fencing onto the elevator and straddled the wire that led to the top. She knew turning the elevator on would make too much noise. Even with the electronic music in the main room. She began her ascent.

The climb gave her a little more time to think. She knew getting out would be impossible. Her chance lay on the shoulders of a dumb dog. At least he did not have to even try for this escape. She needed him to be surprised for her plan to work. Her shoddy makeup job would see to that.

She reached a long stretch of cat walk that looked over the entire main room. Smallish blots of fur danced in the technicolor lights. She held a pair of binoculars to her eyes and found the VIP room. Peanut marched up the stairs ahead of Bud. Her plan had been set into motion. Now she just needed to beat Bud to the meeting room elevator. She scrambled across the catwalk to the edge and pulled a wire from her belt. The end clipped firm to the catwalk. She took a few deep breaths, then jumped over the side.
____

Author's Note:
Hey all! It has been so very long since I've updated this story here. I've been incredibly busy with work. Two jobs is a heck of an art block. :oops: A much nicer distraction, however, is that I am getting married this upcoming January. On top of that exciting news is that things have finally settled down here schedule-wise.

Which means you guys get a regular update schedule again! *confetti and snackz*

This update in particular is part of a large chapter that I am dividing into chunks. Mostly because I wanted to get something online for you guys. I'd hate to leave anyone waiting any longer than they already have.

Oh and thanks for the compliments D3ath_Ops and Villa. Nice to see some new faces on the forum. Well, okay, you're not that new anymore. But you're new to me!

Thanks so much everyone for your continued readership and I hope these next updates don't disappoint. :D

Oh and minor spoilers for anyone who has read Housepets!: The Series but: Budweiser "Bud" (c) Valerio

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


Last edited by Honorable Intentions on Thu Aug 21, 2014 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Aug 21, 2014 3:52 pm
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
I really am enjoying this story so far. I hope you update soon!

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Thu Aug 21, 2014 4:13 pm
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
Welcome back HI! Great update, and congratulations on getting married! :D

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Thu Aug 21, 2014 4:24 pm
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
Assuming that's my character from that contest reeeeeeeeaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllly long back, steve was the dad, and jack was the kid. Otherwise welcome back!

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Thu Aug 21, 2014 4:32 pm
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
Whoops! I thought I fixed that last night. :oops: Guess I got too excited to post.

It was an easy fix though, thanks for catching me.

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


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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
Yay, you're back! Glad to see things are going well for you and congratulations on getting married!
Man, I just love Alana, and Peanut was just as amazing as her in this chapter. I wonder what kind of plan she has in mind to escape and what Peanut is gonna do to buy some time. You know exactly what I love in a story. Everytime I see an update I get hooked by the story no matter how many months has passed since the last update. Definitely you know how to keep your readers entertained. :)

I'll be waiting for more updates as usual. :D

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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
WELCOME BACK HI!!! :D :D :D :D
Great to see that you're back for good, glad for the incoming updates, and glad for your marriage! It will be a great one!

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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
14. A Night on The Town II

Peanut gagged on the acrid air of the VIP room. The scent conjured an image of Grandpa Sandwich – Earl's father. The old man never went without a tobacco product in his mouth.

A hefty Russian Blue cat sat at the opposite end of the room with an ash tray by his side. His cigar looked thicker than a spring sausage. Peanut gagged at the sight of another cloud of smoke.

He lifted a tall beverage to his lips and took a swig. Peanut wanted to spit the drink out the moment it touched his tongue. Self-control kicked in and forced it down.

“Are you alright mister Wilkes? You are looking ill.” Said a dog beside Peanut.

“Just fine, my drink tastes a little strange is all.” Peanut coughed.

Perspiration glimmered and trickled down the side of a narrow glass. The foggy beverage within tasted of lemon with some other spicy flavor. Peanut could not figure it out.

“Eh I coulda' told you to stay away from the stuff.” Said a cat beside him. He spoke in terse, rapid-fire syllables.

Peanut winced in the neon light of the VIP room. The cat was Talbot and the dog was Jenner. Or was it the other way around?

“Thought nothing was more innocent than lemonade, I guess.” Said Peanut.

“You'd be right in most cases. Except Rio Azul brand.” The cat spoke once again. His southern drawl mauled the Spanish pronunciation.

“Huh?”

“Blue River. They have this little tradition, you see. They mix chili powder in just 'bout everything. I mean everything. Candy, drinks, catnip, heck I knew a guy that ate the stuff with every meal of the day.”

Peanut grimaced at the glass and pushed it aside. The southerner guffawed at the gesture. A blush warmed Peanut's cheeks.

“That's everyone elses's reaction to the stuff.” Said the cat. “Here I'll go get you a proper beverage.”

“Don't worry about it, I have feet, I can walk.” Peanut said

He stood from his seat, only to collide with a fluffy Persian cat. A glass clattered to the floor and
shattered into the pieces. Peanut held his paws up to his face while red punch splattered everywhere. Images of Alana's ruined disguise filled his mind.

“Ugh!” The feline's tail flicked back and forth.“I should hang you out the window by your tail, you good for nothing idiota.”

Peanut's mouth dangled open. Words tried to form, but only apologetic grunts came.

“Oh relax would you Vienna? At least you wore the red dress.” Said a cat beside her. A red, maybe orange, Tabby cat. Peanut could not tell in the light. “Pardon her. She's not always so eager to lash out.”

“Uh, it's really me who should apologize.” Peanut said. His gruff disguise voice tickled the back of his throat. A cough forced Peanut to tuck his muzzle into his sleeve. Vienna rolled her eyes.

“Apology accepted I suppose.” Said Vienna. “Just watch it next time.”

She shoved Peanut aside and placed herself beside the rotund Russian Blue. The dog shook his head and turned back to the tabby who stepped in for him. Peanut stuck his hands in his pockets and bit his bottom lip.

“Erm, thanks for your help back there, uh-”

“Milo.” Said the cat. “And, I do not recognize you, have we met?”

Peanut's heart race. Just stay calm. Keep the cover story straight. Get into character.

“Most people don't recognize me anymore. Lost a ton of weight recently.” Peanut gestured to the sagging clothes on his frame. Milo raised his brow. “Haven't had a chance to pick up any new clothes.”

“Quite impressive. I'll have to get your number. I have a friend in need of a tip or two on slimming down.” Milo tilted his head towards the Russian Blue.

Peanut's gaze trailed over to other side of the room. Vienna sat beside the cat, tucked between his side and arm. A smile lit up her face and the Russian Blue laughed at his own joke.

“Are they?”

“Married. Yes.” Milo nodded.

Milo fished around his pocket for a stick of gum and offered Peanut a piece. Eager paws snatched the gum away and tossed them into Peanut's maw. Anything would be better than that chili powder after taste.

“What does that make you then?”

“The bodyguard.” Said Milo. “No humans allowed to accompany their animals, and I was better than nothing.”

“That's odd. I never figured this whole animal island thing to be all that dangerous. Why hire a bodyguard?”

“You don't recognize him? Maybe you know his owner. Paulo Abandonato?”
Milo stopped smiling and chewed his gum in silence.

“One of six right?” Said Peanut.

“Right.” Milo paced around Peanut. “You know, in all of this, I have not found out your name.”

“P-” Peanut bit his tongue. “Wilson Wilkes. Please, just call me Will.”

Cold sweat drizzled down Peanut's forehead. At least now he identified one investor He dared not ask about two through six. Milo seemed a degree sharper than his quarry. Only a degree, for Peanut caught him staring across the room at Vienna.

“It's not like that, by the way.” Said Milo.

“I didn't say anything.”

“You didn't have to.” Said Milo. “You're not like anyone else here.”

Peanut gulped.

“What do you mean?”

“You aren't drunk, or caught up in perpetuating some vain magazine friendly image.”Said Milo. “Though I figure a drunk in your position could see right through me.”

Peanut let the cat ramble on. One thing Peanut learned about Grape is that listening skills count for a lot. Besides, the less he talked, the less he bumbled in his badly conceived disguise.

“Tell me, mister Wilkes, what brings you to this island?” Milo asked. The truth, unfortunate for Peanut, might have him kicked off said island. Peanut tried to think up a lie.

“Fame, I guess.”

“Hm, you and everyone else.” Milo nodded. “Let me level with you, Wilkes, because I like you. I know you aren't here for the party. For the cocktails. To muddle around with socialites and their fat pockets. No you are here on business. Like me.”

Time slowed down. Peanut's cover looked compromised. So early in the evening too. A twitch ran through his legs. Five minutes worth of a head start awaited him. As well as big burly security guards, a dance hall full of tipsy animals, and his own clumsy disposition.

“I will only warn you once.” Said Milo. He grabbed Peanut by his shirt collar and pulled him to eye level. “Whatever your business, I don't care, but you so much as lay a finger on my business, then I will honor Vienna's threat to you. Understand?”

Peanut nodded slowly.

“Good to see we can still be friends.” Milo smiled once more and released Peanut's collar.

Peanut wanted to open his mouth to speak, but the entrance doors flew open. Both animals turned their heads. What followed confused Peanut on levels he did not realize existed. A familiar brown canine paraded around in a neon green suit jacket. A pack of ferrets, the Milton ferrets, ran in with him. They whooped, they hollered, confetti spilled all around them.

“Guess the real party is here.” Said Milo.

“Bino?” Peanut whispered. Milo's adept ears twitched.

“Friend of yours?” Milo asked.

“Let's just say the less he recognizes me, the happier I will be.” Peanut replied.

“So a very good friend of yours. I see.” Milo nodded.

Peanut held his breath. Keene walked in with his paws behind his back. Calm amid the chaos around him. Likely used to it by now. The ferret's presence meant the meeting started soon. Alana remained silent. Peanut exhaled and shuffled towards the crowd. Milo's stare rode his back the entire way through.
Keene cleared his throat and stood in front of a microphone beside the bar.

“How's everyone's evening going?”

A raucous chorus of cheers filled the air.

“That's what I like to hear.” Said Keene. “If our five guests of honor would come forward, we can get down to brass tacks for the evening. Just for a moment before anyone passes out.”

The crowd chuckled for a moment. Peanut watched five animals stand from their seats. He tried his best to commit their faces to memory. Vienna's husband left his friends behind. A Siamese cat parted ways with its twin. A bulldog in a cocktail dress left the bar. A chihuahua in a suit stumbled behind her. That cat with the southern accent before made his way to the front.

Where was number six?

“Hey hold on a minute.”

Peanut snapped to attention. The crowd hushed. Bino pushed past the crowd towards Peanut. Shock
plastered him into place.

“Do I know you?”

Bino observed Peanut with absolute scrutiny. Panic set in. Just say no Peanut. Say no.

“Yep, I'm famous for stuff.” Peanut blurted out.

“You'll have to elaborate for me.” Bino narrowed his eyelids.

“You know, being rich, buying stuff with all of my money.” Peanut rattled on while counting on his fingers.

Bino rubbed his chin, his intense expression eased and a smile warmed his face.

“No way! Me too.” Said Bino. He leaned in and whispered. “Though between you and me it's the Milton's money, not mine.”

“Oh me too.” Peanut nodded. “Well not the Miltons but, well-”

“No kidding? I guess we're like kindred spirits or something.” Bino said. “Maybe that's why I recognized you.”

“Right.”

“Bilkes right?”

“Er, Wilkes.”

“Bilkes then.” Bino took a step back. “Why didn't anybody introduce me to this guy sooner?”

“Ahem.” Keene tapped the microphone. “Meeting anyone?”

“Now who wants the party to stop at a time like this?”

Keene rubbed his temples. Why did he bring the dog again? Oh yes, just bear with him.

“I second that statement!” Peanut raised his paw. Distraction time commenced now. He just hoped Alana would get her business done sooner than later. The animals in the room nodded in agreement and drinks began passing around once more. Keene found himself lost in the crowd. He sighed and took a seat. This stunt looked tame compared to his regular familial antics.

~~
Alana rappelled from the catwalk to the VIP elevators. Much to her relief no one bothered to look up. Most looked too caught up in the party to care. The head guard made long, deliberate strides to meet his destination. Her window of opportunity grew ever more narrow.

She touched ground and ducked to the shadows. Just in time too, Bud began to swap shifts with the guard at the VIP room. Both took their attention, not from the elevator doors, but the stairwell. She bolted behind the guards, opened the door a crack, and squeezed in.

“D'you hear that?” Bud asked.

Just then a cat fell flat on his face beside them. His metal tumbler cup bounced away. Bud sighed and took his position while the other guard went on lounge duty. Better him than Bud. VIP meeting room duty meant quiet time. Especially when nobody occupied the office. His mind traveled elsewhere most of the evening. After that strange Wilkes fellow entered the club. Something seemed off about him.

No, not off.

Something close to home. Something familiar. Like a friend's face in a crowd of strangers.

“Just a coincidence though. Nothing more than that.” Bud reasoned. Paradise is a fresh start. No one knew him. Bud thanked his lucky stars that nothing terrible went down that evening. Off his game and slow minded a good guard dog does not make.

Meanwhile Alana crawled up the staircase. Nobody guarded the inside of the meeting room. They did not have to. Security cameras monitored the room at several angles. This did not worry her one bit. Alana lived off of security blind spots for a good chunk of her life. Low security night clubs were no more difficult than a midnight snack. Alana sifted through her pocket and removed a device no bigger than a laser pointer, with similar functionality. Save for one key difference.

She aimed the pointer at the nearest camera and held her breath. Steady, squeeze the button, exhale. A green dot appeared on the camera. Seconds later it froze and whirred. Alana tumbled from the door and under the meeting room table.

One good reason to know Pete. His wonderful toys.

How he managed to get her prototype government espionage gear did not concern her. What really made her worry was the idea that Peanut or CJ might use them. She likened it to kids with guns. No matter, time to bug the place.

“Give me another ten minutes or so nut breath, then move when I tell you.” Alana whispered into the radio.
~~
“...ten minutes...move when I tell you.”

Peanut stumbled through the haze. Alana's voice pulled him back to reality. He shuddered a bit when he realized how his morning might play out. No amount of medicine could fix the oncoming headache. Just keep the distraction up. Keep Bino happy.

“Tell me, tell me, tell me.” Said Bino. “Tell me mister Bilkes -hic-, just one thing.”

“Wilkes.” Peanut grumbled.

“Rightey o' Bilkes.” Bino giggled. “Tell me, what do you think of, of cat lovers.”

“I'm married to a cat.” He blurted out in his stupor.

Bino roared with laughter and slammed the table with his paw.

“I love this guy. Got a-a good sense of humor this one.”

Peanut laughed a bitter sort of chuckle. Really it sounded more like a choke. Perhaps he indulged a bit too much in the Italian cream soda. Inhibitions switched off with each drink. He could not remember the last time he let himself get this way. He did remember swearing off drinks forever.

Something inside Peanut snapped.

“What's wrong with cat lovers?” Peanut said. Bino laughed even harder.

“I mean there's nothing all that wrong with cats, if they keep their space.” Bino replied. “They have their spot, I have mine. But when dogs decide to betray every in-born instinct they have, well, that's just plain wrong. Gross even.”

Ten minutes? This would not, could not, last ten more minutes. Peanut grumbled something under his breath and stood from his seat. Bino quacked on about inter-species politics. Each thing he rattled made Peanut a little more livid. No one says that about Grape. No one says that about him. Not punks like Bino. Peanut pulled his fist back. Happy-go-lucky Peanut went happy-go-gone.
Everything happened in a flash. Next thing he realized, a small, but strong paw grasped his own. No punch connected. Peanut looked over his shoulder to find Milo restraining him.

“Hey what are you doing to Bilkey?” Bino whispered.

“I think mister Wilkes needs some time away from the bar.” Milo tugged Peanut to the side. Peanut refused to move. His size difference did not help matters. Milo leaned towards Peanut's ear and whispered. “What are you doing?”

“Bino's driving me insane.”

“He's driving us all insane.”

“No I mean I want to hurt him.”

“Me too, just, relax.” Said Milo. “I get the feeling you're not always like this.”

“He's saying bad stuff about Grape.”

Milo felt his mouth hang a bit. Grape? Who in their right mind named someone Grape? Milo remembered the dog mentioning a cat wife. He glanced down at Peanut's paw. A shiny ring fit snug on his finger. Time to improvise.

“She wouldn't want you to act this way.”

“She'd hit him herself if she was here. I know it.”

“Look if you're going to cause a scene-”

“Don't tell me what to do.”

Milo hesitated. A mistake on his part. Peanut shoved past him.

“Did you- did you just say Grape?” Bino stopped laughing. Somehow, amid the haze, he became lucid. The air sucked out of the room. “Peanut.”

“Okay I think everyone has had too much to drink.” Milo shook his head.

“What are you going to do about it?” Peanut inched forward

“Oh, Cat-lover's gonna teach me a lesson.” Bino sneered.

And a lesson was taught.

Bino reeled backwards into the silent crowd of VIP pets. Milo bit his tongue and cursed under his breath. Peanut's world went silent. Everything moved in sickening blurs. Bino steadied himself on the bar. Animals on all sides took a step back.

No one took sides, most got off on the ensuing excitement. Too tipsy themselves to care about the consequences. Keene tried to bolt towards the door, when Bino went flying across the room. Peanut tackled him.
~~

“There, that's the last one. Come out and make your way towards the VIP room.” Alana mumbled into the headset. Two option presented themselves. The elevator shaft, or the stairs. A no brainer really.

One banister slide later, and Alana reached the door to the dance floor. She took a deep breath and cracked the door open. Bud stood alone. Distant from the noise and the crowd. Lost in thought. Alana figured she could bypass him with stealth alone. Until his ears perked up.

Alana held her breath. Did she move too early? Had she lost her touch?

The VIP lounge door flew open. A flurry of fur and claws rolled their way down the stairs. Security guards jumped at the excitement. Bud charged headfirst into the scuffle. Alana slipped from the confines of the stairwell and got a better look at the conflict. She managed to make out Peanut's smeared disguise makeup. Mingled with a hot bruise on his cheek.

Alana winced, but realized things went better than expected. She banked on Bud recognizing his ties with the dog. Just long enough for a distraction. A bar fight, however, killed two birds with one stone.

Not only did she use the nosy reporter to her advantage, she got rid of him too. “Charming” as he could be, a nuisance is a nuisance. The guards would break him like, well, Peanut brittle. She chuckled at the pun and slipped into the shadows, when an internal tearing seized her stomach. Her green eyes flashed into gold, then back to green.

“No, not now.”

One step forward, keep a straight head. What time was it? Early morning perhaps. That's when it would flare up. She fell to her knees and grabbed her stomach. She clenched her throat shut and staggered on all fours through the crowd.

Milo ran through the VIP lounge door to see the commotion. Security pried both dogs away from each other while everyone else either watched or danced their cares away. Milo sighed and took small steps down the glass staircase.

“Dumb dog, guess I'll never figure out why you showed up here tonight.” Milo thought to himself. He observed the fight for a moment longer, only to notice a small headset dangling from Peanut's ears. The device broke somewhere during the scuffle.

He wasn't alone. Milo glanced into the crowd just in time to see a black figure stumble through the chaos. More curious than suspicious, he chased after the shadow.

Alana shoved past dancer, after dancer. Her eyes flashed gold for a moment once more. She felt a presence. A very, very strong presence. One that welled within her own being. The urge to vomit took hold of her thoughts more so than the implications. She shoved her way to the staff backrooms. The way she came in.

Milo staggered past the crowd and found himself crouched low. The shouting and music grew faint beyond the staff backroom. He lost track of the shadow in the darkness. Still he persisted. Cool air-conditioned atmosphere blasted his face with each step. A door swung open in the distance.

Alana threw open the bathroom door and threw her mask off. Her eyes flickered once again. She could not hold it back anymore. She tossed her mask aside and ran to a bathroom stall.

Milo paused at the opening and winced. He spent enough time around seedy places to know an awkward situation lay beyond the threshold. The cat paused for a moment. Waited for the noise to end, then walked through the doors.

Alana wiped her face and staggered towards the window. Fear welled in her chest. For once she felt weak. A gentle paw lay on her shoulder.

“Now that's a sight for sore eyes.” Milo said. Alana's eyes widened. The last time she heard that voice had been years before. Mere moments before being thrown to the dogs.

Alana turned and swiped Milo with exposed claws. He yowled and fell backwards. A paw clutched at the
wound on his face.

“Right, guess you haven't forgotten.” Milo muttered. He reached over to her. She batted his paw away and hissed. “At least let me explain myself.”
“What's to explain? You and that scumbag Larouche threw me to the dogs.”

“That's not what happened.” Milo said. He shook his head and held his hands up defensively.

“Keep telling yourself that.” Alana stumbled to the window and tried to climb. She jumped and tumbled back to the ground. Her vision blurred and her head swam.

“I had nothing to do with it Alana. Larouche nearly got me right after. Come on, you think I'd be in some cesspit like this when I could be taking it easy on a boat somewhere in the south pacific?” Milo took a step towards Alana. “Looks like you could use some help anyway.”

“Back. Off"

Milo stopped. The quiet lingered in the air like a bad odor. He bit his lip, then took another step.

“You need some help Allie.” Milo held his hand out Alana once more. She sighed and took his paw. He helped her to the window.

“No way I'm getting rid of you am I?”

“They did call me the Boomerang out east.” Milo winked. “I always come back.”

“Should've called you the Flu.” Alana winced while he lifted her out the window. He followed close behind.
She would dump him like she did Peanut. Run back to base. Explain how things went wrong. Then figure a way to get rid of the raccoon. Not that it would be a challenge. She laid her hand on her stomach and shook her head.

Then again, this new problem might be the end of her espionage days. How long ago could it have happened? Back in Babylon Gardens, she imagined. Milo grasped her paw and kept close to her. Strange how this island kept throwing surprises at her.

Maybe Pete was on to something. Imagine that.

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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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Tue Sep 09, 2014 8:43 pm
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
Great update HI! :D

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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
So happy that this got updated. Nice job!

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Wed Sep 10, 2014 9:32 pm
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Post Re: Housepets! Changing By the Seasons: 3. Pet Project
The TENSION!!!!
Agh! need MOAR!

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