Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:29 pm
This Heart to Break - PG (just to be safe)
Remember that time I wrote that story and some people said they wanted to see more? And I was like, "Yeah!"
Fast forward THREE YEARS LATER and I decided to follow through with that. Took me a while but I somehow managed to come up with another story that I thought some people might enjoy, especially if you're a fan of Sasha and Fox. Originally I started this thing back in February when the arc 'Love and War' came about but for various reasons, it was put on the back burner. Eventually I willed myself to finish it as I really liked the concept and didn't want it to die.
I always felt for Fox after that arc as I so wanted him to get Sasha in the end but knew it was doomed from the moment it started. It seems that he's gotten over it as "Dogs bounce back" but as we all know, matters of the heart are never so easily resolved or forgotten. I hope Sasha isn't too OOC in this. It's kinda hard to keep her the way she is when times need to be dramatic or serious.
Ack! I'm rambling! Anyway, hope you enjoy the story and we'll see you at the end!
Ring! Ring! Ring!
Like a curtain peeling back on opening night at the theater, Fox's eyelids pulled back and the world came to view, blurry and dark.
His ears folded at the sound of the high pitched ringing of the living room telephone and muttered something nonsensical before rolling onto his side. If this was some telemarketer’s idea of a joke then he would be sure to give them a good barking the next time they call to try and sell him something he didn't need. The ringing persisted and Fox pulled the covers over his head to muffle out the sound. It made little difference as the sound cut through the cloth and into his ears. Still, the husky ignored it, letting his eyes close and settling deeper into his doggy bed.
The phone, however, would not give up so easily.
Fox growled to himself as the noise continued, its high pitched whining a desperate plea for someone to answer its call. His eyes opened again and he sat up groggily, paws reaching up and rubbing his forehead. With an irritated sigh, he threw off his blanket and rolled out of bed onto his feet. There was no hope that his dad would pick it up. That man could sleep through a herd of stampeding elephants.
Fox stumbled forward half asleep towards the ringing, the sound being his only way of navigation through the blackness. It proved to be a poor tactic as he felt an immediate stinging sensation course up his knee where he had bumped into the coffee table. With a mutter of curse words and painful whines, he hobbled around until he felt his paws come in contact with the wall. Fox searched blindly for a light switch and after what felt like forever, finally came upon it. With a flick of his finger, the room exploded into light and he had to shield his eyes for a moment.
He blinked a few times to let his sight adjust and with a tired and heavy paw, yanked up on the receiver of the phone that lay on a wicker table next to the couch.
"Hello?" he mumbled, the drowsiness yet to have left his body.
"Fox? Finally! How long were you going to let that phone ring? I could have ran to your place and back by now."
"King?" Fox asked out loud in surprise at the familiar voice.
"Well, it ain't Lassie."
"King...it's two in the morning. What in Dog's name are you doing calling this late?" Fox sighed, rubbing his eyes wearily.
"Yeah, sorry about that," the voice on the other end apologized meekly. "I wouldn't have called but...uh...Bailey and I got a bit of a situation here."
"Situation?" Fox repeated, letting his paw drop from his eyes and straightening his posture. "What kind of a situation?"
"One that involves Sasha and a temper I had no idea she possessed."
Fox felt the sleep leave his body as soon as the name rolled off the corgi's tongue, his brain finding that awakening spark and his grip tightened on the phone slightly.
"I see," is all he said. Fox reached up and tugged at the end of his trademark yellow bandana, his fingers rubbing the cloth somewhat forcefully. "What happened?"
"Seems her and Kevin got into a little bit of a tiff tonight. She showed up at the house an hour ago wailing at the top of her lungs. Wanted to know what an 'expert' couple thought she should do. We didn't really mind but it's hard to talk to her when she keeps going off on Kevin. I'd hate to be that guy tomorrow," King explained.
"Yeah," Fox agreed softly, his ears twitching in thought. The phone lowered from his ear slightly as the image of the shepherd mix entered his brain. Every curve and every detail from the tuft of fur that hung over her left eye right down to the heart shaped beauty mark on her right hip.
Details that haunted his dreams and plagued his thoughts.
“Fox? You still there?” King’s voice rang out, breaking him out of his trance. Fox felt his face go red and quickly shut out all thoughts of the female.
“Yeah, sorry,” the canine replied, trying to shake the stuffy and hot feeling under his skin. “What exactly does this have to do with me?”
“Honestly? I have no idea. Bailey seems to think you’d be best at handling this for some reason. Believe me; I wouldn’t have called if she wasn’t so persistent.”
Another silence occurred between the lines as Fox processed what he had just been told. A small lump had formed in his throat but he pushed it back down with a heavy swallow. He licked his lips before asking, “Why is she asking for me?”
“I have no idea! I’m not a mind reader, Fox! Look, all I know is that Bailey knows something that I don’t and I’m too tired to try and figure out two women here. So the sooner you get your tail over here, the better,” King sighed.
“Alright, alright,” Fox agreed tiredly. “I’ll be over in a minute.”
“Thank you. We’ll see you soon.”
With a sudden click, the line went dead for a moment until the dial tone came to life in a consistent hum. Fox remained where he was, the phone still in his paw. The annoying pitch that resonated from the device was lost on the husky as the new developments bounced around inside his head. He eventually hung up the phone, the living room becoming silent as it once was. Try as he might, he couldn’t stop the flood of memories from a Valentine’s Day not long ago that came rushing back to him and every emotion along with it.
Sympathy, compassion, surprise, joy, fear, yearning and finally, heart ache.
The last one was still a lingering wound that had yet to remove itself from his chest but it was something he had come to deal with. Fox shook his head and pushed away anymore thoughts of the past and focused on the now. He padded over to the closet and pulled out his usual coat, slipping it over his arms and shoulders. With an internal sigh, he opened the door to be greeted by a cool April night's breeze, his tags gently swaying to the side. Fox closed the door and stuck his hands in his pockets as he strolled down the front yard and taking a left onto the street.
The street lamps above cast down a halo of light that would illuminate the husky for a brief moment before he disappeared into the darkness again, his footsteps silent and slow.
Fox had very little desire to get to his destination in any hurry. A part of him was still trying to figure out why he had agreed to this in the first place. It wasn’t as if he put up a fight. Had he not gone through enough of an emotional beating? Did he loath himself that much?
Another growl pushed up to the top of his throat but he forced it back down as another question entered his head.
Why was Bailey doing this? She knew better than anyone what he had to deal with. An intense burn of irritation worked its way up his body and his ears pulled back as did his lips in a bitter frown. His pace quickened and his paws tightened into fists inside his pockets. Sensing his temper starting to get hotter for the usually calm and collected canine, Fox stopped in the middle of the street and covered his face with his paws, taking in deep breaths.
“Just relax…Getting angry isn’t going to solve anything,” he told himself out loud. “Let’s just get over there, do whatever it is we need to do, then come home and to bed.”
While the self-pep talk helped to calm him down, it did very little to comfort him. There was an odd heavy sensation sitting in his gut like bad Chinese food and it seemed to worsen with every step closer to the Wolves house. But he pressed on, ignoring the detestable feeling and continued through the night.
Fox turned a street corner and found himself staring at the Wolves residence. All the windows were dark, save what appeared to be the living room. A dim light could be seen behind the thin drapes that spread across the window. His shoulders rose up and sharply dropped in a burdened sigh as he approached the front door.
Fox raised his paw to knock but the door swung open before it was halfway in the air.
King stood in the doorway, his features suggesting he was on the brink of exhaustion. The fur on his body was sticking up in various places and heavy bags lay beneath his tired eyes. He simply grunted a greeting at his friend and waved him in with a paw. Fox followed him, the door softly closing behind him. He trailed after the shorter breed who trudged into the living room and flopped onto the couch, an arm slung over his face.
“Seriously, Fox, thanks for coming,” King finally spoke. “Bailey and I just finished getting all our marriage documents in order today and it was an all-day affair. I can’t believe pets have to go through that. It’s ridiculous!”
“I still can’t believe you guys had a wedding,” Fox commented, looking around the room for no particular reason.
King mumbled an incoherent response before rubbing his eyes and sitting up straight before meeting the husky’s line of vision. “Bailey and I were beat and then Sasha shows up here like a raging volcano! For such a pretty girl she sure has a mouth on her.”
Fox didn’t say anything but he could feel his paws starting to moisten and his upper teeth press down on his bottom lip. His eyes scanned around again before resting them back on the corgi.
“Where…Where is she?” he asked softly.
“In the backyard,” King yawned, jerking a thumb to the side. “Bailey’s been keeping her company. I’m not good with a hysterical woman. Never have been. Like this girl I dated in twelfth grade-”
“Er…I meant Obedience School. It's...kinda similar to human school. Or so they say," King quickly explained, his eyes taking a sudden panicked shine to them. But Fox did not seem to notice as he looked back towards the direction of the backyard.
"Oh," he simply replied.
King let out a breath of relief but his eyebrows narrowed in a pensive fashion as he stared at his best friend. The tall thin dog simply peered out in front of him looking like he was in another world.
"Hmm?" Fox answered, somewhat startled back into reality. King sat back against the couch and crossed his stubby arms.
"Is there something you want to tell me?"
"Like why Bailey thinks you were the dog for this job? I kept asking her but she kept dodging the subject and distracting me with kisses. That part I don't mind but it's starting to drive me crazy."
"I don't know," was all Fox said with a shrug. King frowned and shook his head.
"That's a lie if I ever heard one. Come on, Fox, fess up. What's going on?"
"I told you, I don't know," Fox said again with a hint of aggression. Despite that, he couldn't blame King for calling him out. The whole situation was begging for an explanation that he didn't want to give. At least not now. He just wanted this night to be over.
King hopped down from the couch and placed his paws on his hips, sending a stern gaze upwards at Fox. "I’m serious, Fox. You can tell me! It’s me here! King! Your best friend! I don’t see what the big de-“
Both canines craned their heads over at the sound of a new voice in the room and discovered Bailey standing in the door frame that connected the kitchen and living room. She smiled at Fox before focusing her eyes at her husband and clasped her paws together in front of her. With a sweet tone, she addressed the corgi again.
“Can you go upstairs and get me a towel, sweetie?”
“A…towel?” King asked with a mask of perplexity written over his face.
“Yes. One from the hallway closet,” Bailey informed him.
“What do you need a towel for?” King questioned her again.
“King,” she spoke his name again, this time with a bit more firmness and her eyes narrowing slightly. King scrunched his face at her and opened his mouth to say something but halted when his brain finally clued into what his wife was really trying to tell him. He exchanged looks between the two huskies before saying,
“Yes,” Bailey confirmed.
“From the upstairs closet.”
“That’s the one, hon.”
King let his eyes shift from dog to dog again before sighing in acceptance.
“Okay then,” he submitted and casually made his way to the staircase. As he ascended, he caught a glance from Bailey who smiled at him in gratitude. King returned a half smile before disappearing up the stairs completely.
Bailey looked back to her cousin, her smile softening.
“Sorry about that, cuz. He’s been trying to pry this out of me all night. I figured this was something you would want to tell him when you’re ready.”
“Why are you doing this, Bailey?” Fox demanded, ignoring her explanation. The other husky’s smile faded as she breathed hard through her nose. Knowing that this was inevitable she slowly approached him with a somber demeanor.
“Because this isn’t something you can run away from anymore.”
“I’m not running from anything.”
“The howl you’re not,” she defied forcefully. “I see the way you get when she’s around. You do everything in your power to avoid her at all costs like she’s harboring some sort of disease. It was even worse at the wedding.”
Fox did not reply at first, merely shaking his head. “I’m not avoiding her,” he mumbled. Bailey snorted in response.
“And I never cry watching All Dogs Go to Heaven. You’re a terrible liar, Fox. Even King can see that.”
Her cousin narrowed his eyes at her but refused to acknowledge her claim. Bailey rolled her eyes at his behavior and jabbed a finger at him.
“She notices, you know. She thinks you’re mad at her. Do you know how annoying it was to make up excuses for you at my own wedding? Sasha was looking all over for you.”
“You sure it wasn’t Kevin she was looking for?” he suddenly snapped with more spite than he wanted to reveal.
“Stop being such a brat,” Bailey retorted with the tone like that of a mother scolding her child. “Maybe if you had said something earlier to her then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Fox’s face softened as the truth of her words struck a chord with him. Bailey sighed again and readjusted her own bandanna that was fastened around her neck.
“Sasha’s outside. She’s calmed down now. I think most of it is out of her system,” she told him.
“What am I supposed to do then exactly?”
“Talk to her.”
“And tell her what, Bailey?” Fox asked with exasperation and frustration behind his voice. Bailey’s features softened and she stepped closer to him. She reached out and grabbed his paw, giving it a squeeze.
“Tell her how you feel, Fox.”
Fox stared at her hard before letting out a laugh of disbelief.
“Really? She’s out there crying about Kevin and you want me to take advantage of that?”
“Yes, I do,” Bailey admitted which Fox was taken back from. He gave her a long puzzled stare and she gave her head a slight shake.
“I’m not proud of it but I know you, Fox. You’re so concerned about loyalties and friendships that you don’t see the big picture. It’s like when you go along with Bino’s hair brained ideas to be more of a jerk. Your brain tells you to say something but you hold it in and go along with it anyways because you want to be a good friend.”
“So I should just drop all of that, loyalty and friendship, and attempt to steal her away from Kevin?”
“I’m not asking you to go out there and steal Sasha away from Kevin. I would never ask that of you.”
“Then what are you asking of me? What is the big picture?” Fox wanted to know, his eyes narrowing in confusion. Bailey let go of his paw and firmly gripped his shoulders, resisting the urge to shake him.
“To be selfish for once in your life,” she told him. “To put aside your ‘good boy’ qualities and do what’s best for you. If you don’t do this, Fox, then you’re just going to keep burying it which will just lead to more problems. You can go on pretending that everything is fine but I see it eating away at you.”
Fox felt his chest tighten at her words and his ears folded down. He looked away from her so she wouldn’t see the emotion on his face. The shame and indignity he felt knowing every word was the truth. Bailey tightened her grip on him and continued with what she felt he needed to hear.
“You have to do this, Fox. I know it’s terrible timing but I can’t let you hide anymore. It’s time to be honest with her. It’s time to let her know that you can be the one for her. Maybe not now, maybe not ever but at least she’ll know. And you can finally put this behind you.”
Fox remained silent, still refusing to look at her. After what felt like an eternity, he finally spoke, the words hushed and weak.
"What does it matter to you?" he asked.
Bailey wrapped her arms around his own and rested her chin on his shoulder.
"It matters because after Mom and Dad dumped me here, you're the only family I have left. I was able to find my happiness and I want you to find yours. How could it not matter to me?"
Fox closed his eyes and let out a shallow breath. Bailey only squeezed him tighter in response. They stayed that way for a moment, neither saying a word. Fox eventually cleared his throat and offered his cousin a loving smile. She returned it and let go of his arm but motioned towards the sliding glass door her own.
"She's waiting for you, Romeo," she chided lightly.
Fox failed at suppressing an amused smile but it quickly faltered when he let his eyes rest upon the door. Knowing what rested upon the other side caused a shiver to run up his spine but he felt Bailey's paw on his back, giving him a small push. His feet eventually began to move forward though everything appeared to be in slow motion. The sliding door getting closer, his paw reaching out to grasp the handle, the slight jar in the door as he slide it open and the second breeze he felt that night rustling the leaves of the trees above.
Then he saw her.
Her back was to him, his eyes drinking up the veil of cream and chocolate brown with splashes of hot pink. She leaned back on her arms, head forward though her ears pointed down in a saddened fashion. Fox could only stare as there was a sudden spike in his heart rate. He took a few deep breaths to calm his nerves even though he knew it would be pointless and cautiously approached the dog in front of him. When he was at an arm’s length away, his presence still unaware to her, he opened his mouth to call her name.
Only nothing came out.
Closing his eyes and focusing on trying to untie his tongue, Fox tried again, this time with minimal success.
"Sasha?" he called out, though half of the name barely made it past his lips.
Sasha snapped her head over and the two locked eyes, bright fuchsia colliding with steel onyx. Whatever vocabulary Fox had left dried up at the sight of her. Another gust of wind gently rippled the tuft of fur that hung over her left eye and Fox could see the sadness that reflected in them both. Before he could even attempt to speak, Sasha was up on her feet and arms were thrown around his waist.
"Fox..." she cried into his shoulder.
Fox stood like a statue, unsure of what to do. In the end, feeling that there was only one thing to do, he let his arms wrap around her softly. He let her cry into his shoulder as they both stood on the darkened porch, her muffled sobs like small daggers in his heart. It was a sound he despised and was willing to do anything to make it stop. Sasha pushed off him and rubbed her eyes with her arm, pink bangles jostling with the movement.
“I’m sorry,” she sniffed. “I’m ruining your nice coat.”
“Don’t worry about that. It’s getting old anyway,” he assured her with a tender smile. Sasha tried to smile back but instead her eyes lowered to the ground as she tried not to break down again.
“How did you know I was here?”
“Bailey told me. I heard you had a rough night,” Fox explained. Sasha’s eyes met his again and she managed a smile that held.
“You came out here…for me?”
“Uh…Yeah. I guess so,” Fox stammered, rubbing the back of his head. Her stare was almost enough to paralyze him. "Well...uh...It's not that far and...um...I just..."
Sasha giggled at his response which in turn caused a small one of his own to escape. Her laugh was infectious like that. However, Sasha's moment of amusement was short lived as a look of despondency and anger washed over her visage.
"I wish more guys were like you," she muttered and sat back down on the porch steps, pulling her knees up to her chest.
Fox scratched the back of his left ear before sitting down next to her, saying, "If more guys were like me then the world would be short on yellow bandannas."
"Well, if there were more guys like me than they'd all be wearing yellow bandannas. Like me. You see, 'cause I wear them all the- you know what, never mind," Fox sputtered quickly, his face turning red from having to explain such an awful joke.
Sasha made no comment, merely staring out at the night covered yard of the Wolves residence. Her demeanor was nothing short of unsettling and the husky who sat beside found himself disturbed by it. In all the years he had known Sasha, Fox had never seen her like this before. It was quite different from her hysterical breakdown on Valentine's Day and even during that she still maintained a certain charm. She was always so bubbly and full of life. Not the smartest dog in town but a kind and well-meaning soul. It was hard to believe that anything could hurt her much less drive her to this. He would think that after her relationship with Bino that a couple's quarrel would be an easy thing to push aside.
But the silent and down trodden girl next to him proved the fault in his hypothesis.
Fox bit the inside of his lip, unsure of what to say. A heavy awkwardness hung in the air and he felt he should probably say something, anything before it gets worse. But as he opened his mouth to speak, Sasha cut him off.
"Are you mad at me?" she asked, eyes still cast forward. Fox blinked at her question and slowly shook his head, Bailey's words coming back to him.
"Of course not. Why would you think that?" Fox questioned himself, feigning surprise and confusion. Sasha readjusted herself and turned her head over to meet his stare.
"I don't see you anymore. You’re never around when we all go to the park and I couldn’t find you after the ceremony. I thought maybe we were playing Hide and Seek but you didn’t tell me. So I was mad at you for not telling me but then I thought you might be mad at me…”
Fox watched her trail off as her ears sank even lower. The wave of guilt that hit him was like nothing he had ever experienced. He never intended to make her think that. It was the last thing he wanted her to think.
“I’m sorry, Sasha,” he apologized meekly. “I didn’t mean to make you feel that way. I was never mad at you. I’ve just…been busy is all. Besides, I kinda thought you’d be busy having fun with Kevin.”
Sasha pressed her knees tighter against her chest and her brow furrowed as soon as the comment left the husky’s mouth.
“Hmph. Kevin’s being a jerk.”
“King told me you two had a bit of a squabble,” Fox revealed, resting his arms on his knees.
“Well, we were looking at some new cushions for Daddy’s couch but then we had a fight,” she told him.
“Er…Yeah. Well…Can I ask what it was about?” Fox replied.
“He never wants to do anything but go to the gym,” Sasha grumbled, kicking a nearby stone off the porch step like a pouting five year old. “Almost all our dates end up being there and we end up drinking these yucky shakes after. I’m tired of it. I wanted to go the carnival outside of town tonight but he said that cotton candy would ruin his body fat percentage. That’s silly! Look at sheep! They’re covered in it and they’re not fat!”
Fox considered correcting her but decided against it. Instead he cleared his throat and said, “I see. Then what?”
“We yelled at each other a lot. I don’t remember what we said, I was too angry. I went home but Daddy forgot to leave the door open again so I came here. Kingy and Bailey are always happy so maybe they would know how to fix this.”
“I don’t think it works that way, Sasha,” Fox sighed.
The girl beside him said nothing, her eyes still forward and staring out into the night. Fox looked down at his feet, his brain trying to create some form of response but found himself at a loss for words. He didn’t know what to do. Bailey’s words echoed in his mind and he felt himself become anxious. But before he could process any thoughts on the matter, he heard Sasha call out him, her voice small and broken.
He turned his head to see her staring at him now, her eyes lined with shinning tears.
“Was it my fault?” she asked him quietly. Fox immediately shook his head.
“No. It wasn’t.”
“We didn’t have to have any candy. I just wanted to go to the carnival. I…I should have said that.”
“No,” Fox replied fiercely, anger taking a hold of him. “You shouldn’t have to have said anything. A relationship is all about being equal. To give and take. You’ve given so much for Kevin that he should’ve sucked it up for a night and skipped his workout to take you to the carnival.”
“Y-You’re angry with him?” Sasha asked in surprise.
“You bet I am. Don’t put the blame on yourself for anything. He was the one in the wrong.”
“There was no reason he couldn’t take the most beautiful girl in Babylon Gardens to where she wanted to go for once.”
Fox felt his throat suddenly tighten when he realized what he had just said. In his passion, he had accidentally let that thought slip from his mind and out his mouth. His cheeks burned and he had trouble keeping eye contact with Sasha as she stared at him, mouth slightly opened.
“You…You really think I’m the most beautiful girl in town?” she asked softly.
“Uh…I…um…” Fox staggered. He wished he could stop talking. That he would come down with a sudden bought of kennel cough and be unable to answer her. But unfortunately that wasn’t the case so with a hard and embarrassed swallow, he mumbled, “Yeah…Yeah, I do.”
Fox wanted to disappear. He wanted to shrink down so small that he would pop out of existence. His self-loathing, however, was interrupted when Sasha latched onto him again tightly. Fox stayed where he was, his body refusing to move. Her arms wrapped around his neck and she buried her face into his neck.
“You’re always so sweet,” she whispered into his fur. Her breath was warm and when it splashed over his skin, he felt himself breakout into goose bumps.
“You always make me feel good. Just like on Valentine’s Day,” Sasha sniffed and turned her head, now resting under his chin.
“I…I don’t like to see you sad,” Fox whispered, his arms wrapping around her without his permission.
The closeness they shared filled him with a euphoric feeling of content. He had never held a girl like this before and the fact he was currently holding the girl that he had been pining for over these past months made it all the more blissful. Sasha suddenly repositioned herself to be more comfortable and ended up sitting in his lap which made him blush furiously. Her hold on him tightened and Fox failed in trying to keep his tail from wagging.
“I just don’t get it,” she sighed and pulled back to look him in the eye. There was a half-smile on her chocolate muzzle as she asked, “You’re so sweet and caring. How come you don’t have a girlfriend?”
Fox held her gaze for second before looking back down with an embarrassed smile then up to her eyes again.
“Just unlucky I suppose,” he answered.
“I know a lot of pretty girls who would really like you. I could set you up!”
“No…No, that’s okay,” he denied quietly.
“Why not?” Sasha asked, her head tilting to the side and her face a mask of confusion. Fox had no real prepared response to that. He simply shrugged his shoulders and for the second time that night, let his words get ahead of his brain.
“Because all the best girls are taken.”
Sasha’s eyes searched his face and she suddenly wore a very sympathetic expression.
“I’m sorry, Foxie-Bon,” she apologized and rested her head against his. “I didn’t know that.”
Fox felt his teeth clench as his nostrils were flooded with her scent and his ears flattened against his head. She smelled so good. An urge came over him to kiss her as he wanted to know if she tasted just as heavenly. But the husky threw those thoughts away or at least tried to, the urge never completely leaving him. He felt Sasha tip his chin up and she smiled at him again.
“You’ll find someone. Someone real nice,” she told him sweetly.
Fox tried to smile at that but failed to do so. Instead, he looked even more downtrodden. This caused Sasha’s ears to fold down.
“You don’t believe me?” she asked.
“It’s not that. I just-“
“I’m not fibbing,” the mix breed declared sternly, ignoring what he had said. Fox tried to look away again but she cupped his chin and forced him to look at her.
"I know what everyone says about me. I know how mean they can be," Sasha said quietly. Fox opened his mouth to protest but she continued.
"But you're never like that. You never say anything bad about me. You're always so nice and smart and everyone feels good around you...I feel good around you," she finished softly.
Her paw that had been holding his chin now cupped his cheek and her thumb gently ran down the fur leaving a small trail. Fox had to hold in a whine that was brought forth from her touch. Never breaking eye contact with him, Sasha's paw now ran down his neck and to his bandanna.
"Girls like that," she mumbled, her fuchsia colored eyes looking him over as if for the first time. "They like that a lot."
Fox could feel his heart pounding against his rib cage as the dog in front of him seemed to change. Her eyes became half lidded and her body pressed a little tighter against him. His arms pulled her slightly towards him and her paw that was resting on his bandanna now clenched it in a soft fist. Her ears were down again but not in a display of sadness or distress. At the angle to which they were facing each other, Fox could see the full moon behind her head, its rays bathing her in pale silver light.
Oh, Dog, was she beautiful.
That was never a surprise. He meant it when he said she was the most beautiful dog in all of Babylon Gardens and most would probably agree with him. But now…now she was something else entirely. The word ‘beautiful’ held no justice for her and Fox was losing himself in her eyes, her scent and her touch.
Sasha's muzzle was dangerously close to his now and it seemed to drift even closer. With his heart ringing in his ears, Fox felt his eyes beginning to close.
"Sasha..." he spoke just above a whisper.
"Yes?" she replied, her lips slightly pursed.
"I…I need to tell you something..."
"Yes?" she repeated, so quietly, that he almost didn't hear her.
Their lips were less than an inch from each other. Fox could feel his common sense and emotions going to war with one another. He knew this was wrong but never had anything felt so right. His mind screamed at him to stop while his heart urged him forward. The words were on the tip of his tongue but they had yet to make it out his mouth. That was when he could hear Bailey's voice cut through the alarms in his head.
"Be selfish for once in your life."
It repeated over and over until Fox finally had had enough. With Sasha's breath hot on his lips; Fox said what he had wanted to say for two months.
Bzzzz! Bzzzz! Bzzzz!
Both canines snapped out from their daze as the high pitched buzzing noise attacked their ears. The sound seemed to be coming from Sasha's collar. She blinked a few times as if waking up from a deep sleep and quickly covered her cheek in embarrassment.
"S-Sorry. That's my phone," she told him with a shaky breath.
Fox immediately pulled his arms back to his sides and nodded, his face hotter than the sun itself. Sasha awkwardly stood up from his lap and walked a few paces away, pulling her bright pink phone from her collar. She threw him a sideways glance he did not see as she softly answered the call. With her back turned to him, Fox slammed his fists repeatedly into his forehead.
He was so close.
Of course something would interrupt them. How he wished he had never heard of Murphy's Law. Fox could see his paws shake and he tried to shrug off the feeling in his stomach that made him feel lighter than air. The tall dog looked up to see Sasha still on the phone and he couldn't help but think of what almost transpired.
Was it his imagination or did she...want him to kiss her?
Fox's mind was spinning still and he had trouble recalling certain parts despite them happening almost immediately. He took a slow and easy breath.
"Okay. Just...Just relax. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Just wait until she’s off the phone. Then you can tell her. Don’t wuss out this time.”
Fox nodded to himself, wanting nothing more than to comply with his thoughts but it was hard to do as his anxiety was in full swing. He couldn’t help but think of the way she was looking at him and how close they were. There was something in her eyes, something affectionate and yearning. The husky wanted to tell himself that she shared some form of mutual attraction with him. That perhaps remembering that Valentine’s Day made her realize what exactly he could be for her.
That settled it for the husky. Fox stood up, shaking his paws and taking another deep breath. No more running. He was going to end this nightmare he had conjured up for himself. Sasha was still on her phone but he didn’t care.
He had to tell her and he had to tell her now.
Fox took a step towards her but stopped when he observed her body language. Sasha seemed to be bouncing from one foot to the other, her tail wagging fiercely. Whoever she was talking to was putting her into a good mood. Maybe that would offer him some form of help in this terrifying situation. Fox reached out with his arm, intent on snatching her phone and throwing it behind him so that he could dip her like in the movies and kiss her passionately. But before he could even stretch out his fingers, Sasha put down the phone and turned to him with a huge smile plastered all over her muzzle.
“Oh, Foxie-Bon!” she exclaimed gleefully and hugging him tightly around the neck.
“W-What is it?” Fox asked her, letting himself hug her back.
“That was Kevin!” she told him.
“Yeah! At first I didn’t want to talk to him but I remember what you said about him being in the wrong and I told him he was! I thought we were going to fight again but he apologized and said that he was being a jerk! Then he said we could spend the whole day at the fair tomorrow! Cotton candy and all! Isn’t that great?!”
Fox felt his arms go limp around her and they dropped to his sides. Sasha’s smile faltered slightly at his silence as she pulled back and looked at him.
“I said isn’t that great?” she repeated, thinking perhaps he did not hear her.
Fox could only stare back at her with a blank look.
“Fox?” Sasha said his name with some concern. Fox’s expression didn’t change until he shook his head and his lips suddenly pulled back into a melon collie smile.
“That’s…That’s great, Sasha. I’m glad he came to his senses,” he said.
Sasha’s full smile returned and she squeezed him again. “I’m so glad you were here! If you hadn’t said all those things I would have blamed myself!”
“Glad to help…” Fox mumbled.
“He also said I could stay at his place tonight so I don’t have to go home and wait for Daddy to wake up! Oh! I should tell Kingy and Bailey the good news!”
“Yeah…They’ll be happy to hear that,” Fox said softly. Sasha cocked her head to the side, another worried glance sweeping across her face.
“Are…you okay, Fox?” she asked. Fox let a breath escape his nose and smiled again at her.
“I’m fine. I’m just…really happy that you worked things out with Kevin. He’s…He’s a good guy even if he stumbles here and there.”
Sasha gave him a quick peck on the cheek and giggled as she raced into the house. Fox stood on the porch, the hooting of a distant owl echoing through the night. His paws suddenly clenched into fists, his ears flattened and the fur on the back of his neck bristled.
He was such an idiot.
Did he really think, even for a mere second, that something could happen? That Sasha would magically forget about Kevin and develop feelings for him? Was he that sad and pathetic?
Fox released a burdened sigh he had been holding in and his shoulders slouched.
It seems he had been imagining things. Sasha’s longing look, her lips leaning in to anticipate the touch his own, the way she squeezed him. All of it, nothing more than his heart making him see and feel what he wanted to. He mistook her friendliness as something deeper and now his chest ached again much like it did that cold February morning. But it was his own fault.
It was his own fault for thinking that there could possibly have been a happy ending for him when he was smitten with a girl who was already spoken for.
A strong gust of wind flew into the backyard and Fox’s tags and bandanna billowed with the motion. Fox hoped that the wind would pick him up and carry him away from this but his heart was too heavy and he remained where he was. There was a lingering trail of Sasha’s scent left behind and tempting as it was to divulge in such a wondrous aroma, Fox turned his head away, eyes screwed shut.
He wished that he had never taken pity on Bino and came up with the hair brained plan that eventually brought him to this moment in time. He wished that he had never taken the time to actually talk with Sasha and realize that there was more to the girl than meets the eye. Fox wished he never heard the musical ring of her laughter or saw the glimmer of never ending optimism in her eyes. Fox wished for many things. But he realized that wishing is for fools and there was no bigger fool on this planet right now than him.
Pinching the bridge of his muzzle tiredly, Fox turned around to go back into the house despite not wanting to move from where he was. When he did, he found Bailey standing at the doorway. She wore a sad and sympathetic visage and Fox hated it. He pitied himself enough already. He didn’t need anyone else adding to it. There’s was a moment of silence between them until Fox adjusted his jacket solemnly.
“I take it she told you the good news?” he asked, now stepping up towards the entrance.
“Yeah. She’s in the living room swinging King around with joy,” she confirmed. “Hard to believe she was ready to tear Kevin a new one only an hour ago. That girl must have the world’s fastest ‘on/off’ switch.”
“I guess it’s like you said; we all bounce back…”
Bailey cringed at the way he spoke those words. Such little belief in them yet she supposed she could not blame him for feeling that way. She reached over with a paw and squeezed his shoulder.
“No,” Fox answered quickly. “I…never got around to it.”
“Bailey, please,” Fox sighed softly, resting tired eyes on her. “I don't want to hear it, okay? Besides, look at her. Look how happy she is.”
Bailey caught a glimpse through the kitchen door of Sasha laughing as she twirled a dizzy and sick looking corgi around the living room.
“Kevin makes her feel that way. Not me. Do I really need a humiliating and awkward moment to remind me of that?” he asked.
“But, Fox, you can’t-“
“I’m going home,” Fox interrupted, sticking his paws into his coat pockets. “I’ll talk to you later, Bailey. Say good night to King for me.”
With that, Fox turned back around and padded down the back steps to the backyard’s side gate. The husky flipped the latch up and closed the door behind him with a loud clatter. Bailey sighed despondently, staring at where he once stood and closed the sliding door. When she made her way to the living room, she saw King by himself and trying to stand up on his own power. He stumbled a bit, still dizzy from Sasha’s rigorous spinning.
“You okay, hon?” she asked as he grabbed the sofa for support.
“I think I’m gonna puke,” he burped, covering his eyes with a paw in an attempt to shut out the rotating room. Bailey frowned and looked around the room, noticing that Sasha was no longer there.
“Where’d she go?” Bailey questioned.
“She saw Fox leaving and hurried out of here. I’m glad she did otherwise we’d be redecorating this entire room,” King explained, shaking his head and blinking a few times. Bailey didn’t respond, she simply stared out the front window.
“Speaking of which, what’s going on, Bailey?” King wanted to know, a stern gaze fixed upon her. “And I want you to tell me. No more snuggles or kisses to get out of this. What’s Fox’s deal? How is Sasha involved in this?”
Bailey did not answer him right away. She was tempted to tell him. He deserved to know after all. But Bailey held back all the same. Fox had been through enough tonight and King would only press the matter further which could lead to some less than pleasant moments. King had a knack for pushing things when they didn’t need to be pushed as she so very well remembers. Instead, she offered him a joyless smile and hugged him.
“I’m sorry, honey, but I can’t say.”
“Oh, come on!” King cried in frustration. “This is killing me! I want to know!”
“He’s going through a lot right now, King. I think it’s best if we both respect his privacy for the time being,” she told him.
“But why won’t he tell me?” King mumbled through her fur. “He obviously told you. I get it, you’re family but I’m his best friend. What if I can help him? What if we can help him?”
“Oh, sweetie,” Bailey sighed, squeezing him harder. “This is the kind of thing he needs to sort out for himself.”
“It just is, King…It just is…” Bailey said quietly. She felt King release a heavy sigh and hugged her back.
“I don’t like him keeping things like this from me,” he grumbled.
“I know but there must be a few things about yourself you wouldn’t be so eager to share with him, hmm?” Bailey asked, stroking his head.
King opened his mouth to protest but quickly shut it. His cheeks burned with shame and guilt which was a common occurrence when thinking about the topic in question.
“There…might be…” he uttered, turning his head to the side.
“And don’t you think Fox would wait until you were ready to tell him?”
King’s ears lowered as he knew that his wife was right. He supposed it wouldn’t be right to push him to say anything. If they really were best friends then Fox would come to him when he was ready. That didn’t mean King had to be happy about it though.
“I guess you’re right,” he sighed, squeezing her large body closer to his smaller one. “I just hate knowing there’s something troubling him and I can’t do anything about it.”
“I know, baby, I know. We just need to be patient,” Bailey assured him and kissed him on the forehead. The two canines stayed that way, their thoughts locked on the husky and his dilemma.
As the couple found comfort in each other’s arms, Fox was walking briskly down the sidewalk. He wanted nothing more than to go home and forget tonight’s events. His chest burned and his throat was tight as footstep over footstep carried him away from the source of all his woes. His ears suddenly swiveled back and he slowed his pace as he heard something behind him. Still walking, Fox turned his head to see someone in the distance, their identity covered by shadows. Paying little attention to it, Fox continued but stopped all together when he heard someone call his name.
Fox peered through the darkness and was surprised to see Sasha appear beneath the halo of a nearby street light. She jogged up to him and put on that smile he was so used to seeing.
“You walk fast,” she panted.
“Oh…Sorry. I…I guess I do. Is everything okay?” Fox asked. Sasha nodded her head, the fur over her left eye bouncing.
“Uh-huh! I just saw you leaving and remembered that Kevin’s place is only a few blocks from yours. I thought we could walk there together,” she informed him.
Fox groaned internally. He had no desire to escort her to her boyfriend’s house of all places. He just wanted to be left alone. But Fox, being the dog that he was, forced a smile and nodded.
“Sure. That’d be nice.”
Sasha’s smile brightened and the two resumed their journey together. As they walked, Sasha began to go on about something that Fox had little interest in. He knew she was talking but the words were not reaching his ears. It was almost like a muffled sound as he simply nodded here and there, eyes focused on the ground. It was rude, he knew that. But as much as Fox would have loved to hear her, his feelings were firm on shutting her out. Besides, talking to her is what got him in the mess in the first place.
“…and that’s when I realized that for all the shoes they make, they don’t make very good desserts. Isn’t that weird, Fox? Fox?”
Sasha turned her head to see Fox still beside her but staring at the ground like a zombie, lifeless and unnerving. She frowned in concern.
“Fox?” she tried again. The husky suddenly blinked a few times before looking up at her.
“Oh…Sorry, Sasha. I was just thinking about something. What were you saying?” he asked.
Sasha stared at him with worrisome eyes but smiled and asked, “What were you thinking about?”
The question threw Fox off guard despite its simplicity.
“What kind of stuff?”
“Um…Just stuff I have to do tomorrow. Nothing special, really, I’d just be boring you talking about it,” Fox told her with another fake smile.
“You’re not boring,” Sasha stated softly. Fox held eye contact with her and felt his throat tighten again. He looked away and cleared his throat.
“I think I see Kevin’s place,” he mumbled, pointing ahead.
They walked the last block in silence until they came to the front yard. Sasha turned to face him and Fox gave her a weak smile. He stepped back away from her and dug his paws deeper into his pockets.
“Well, here we are,” he sniffed. “Say hi to Kevin for me and…I guess I’ll see you around.”
“Thank you, Fox,” Sasha said gently. “Thank you for making me feel better…again.”
“It’s…It’s no problem.”
She smiled at him again then her ears perked up as did her face as if she had just remembered something. “Oh! What was it you needed to tell me?” she inquired.
“Yes, you said you had something you needed to tell me earlier.”
Fox quickly recalled the secret he had been holding in that was a second away from rolling off the tip of his tongue tonight. The words he wanted to say that burned a hole right through him. Words he had so forcefully swallowed. Humiliation coursed through his being as he imagined just how terrible things would have been if he had spoken them. Fox could see she was waiting for a reply and he brought up an artificial chuckle.
“You know, it’s the darndest thing. I’ve completely forgotten. It must not have been very important I guess,” he lied.
Sasha appeared to be put off by his response but merely accepted his answer with a nod. A silence hung between them for a moment until Fox simply nodded and continued on his way. Just another two blocks and he would be home. Home and away from all of this.
He stopped upon hearing her softly call his name and turned to face her. Sasha’s ears were down again and she stepped up close to him. Fox felt himself about to step back but halted when he felt the pretty canine grab his paws.
“We’re friends, right?” she asked him, her eyes reflecting with kindness and unease. Fox found himself staring at her again, taken back by the question but nodded his head.
“Of course we are,” he confirmed.
“And friends tell each other things, right?”
Again, Fox slowly nodded his head.
“So…If something was bothering you…you’d tell me…wouldn’t you?”
Fox searched Sasha’s face and saw the same worried expression Bailey and King wore earlier this evening. An expression that told him she knew something was amiss. Fox felt a sharp pain in his heart. He didn’t want her to feel that way. He wanted her to be the happy and joyful dog she was all hours of the day.
Fox smiled for real this time and tenderly squeezed her paws.
“Kevin is very lucky to have such a thoughtful and caring girlfriend,” he said. Sasha seemed to blush at his compliment. “But I’m fine, Sasha. Really, I am. So please, don’t worry, okay?”
“Okay, Fox,” she complied.
They remained where they were, holding paws. Neither moved as Fox tried to make this moment that he was sure to never have again last as long as it could. But it was just a moment and he unhappily let go of her paws.
“You should get going. Kevin’s waiting,” Fox said quietly.
Sasha presented him with a small smile and made to leave but stopped. She looked back to him and biting her bottom lip, she pulled off one of the bangles that hung from her left wrist. Smiling again, she held it up for him. Fox looked at her in question.
“You gave me your bandanna, remember? Well, I’m giving you this. I don’t think it’s very nice to get a present and not give one in return,” she explained.
“Sasha, you don’t have to do that.”
“I know…But I want to.”
Fox looked at the bangle, its hot pink surface catching the moonlight. He looked back to her and sighed. Fox took the bangle from her and played with it in his paw. After a few seconds, the husky smiled at her.
“Thank you,” he said.
Before he knew it, Sasha wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. She squeezed him hard and leaned back, placing another kiss on his cheek.
“Goodnight, Foxie-Bon,” she whispered in his ear.
With that, Sasha turned around and made her way to the front door. Fox watched her go and knock on the door. A few seconds later, it opened and Kevin’s muscular frame filled the doorway. He placed a large and goofy smile on his muzzle and picked her up by the waist, swinging her around. Sasha now matched his expression as she laughed. When Kevin put her back down, he saw Fox and gave him an energetic and friendly wave. Fox waved back though he had no desire to. Eventually the door closed with the echo of their laughter and he was left alone in the cool, still night.
In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along
Fox looked down at the bangle in his paw. It was warm and he liked the way it felt against his fur. Just like her.
Shaking his head, Fox stuffed the item into his pocket and made his way home. Inside Kevin’s house, the Doberman was telling Sasha about how she could do whatever she wanted at the carnival tomorrow. She smiled as he talked but couldn’t help but cast a glance out the front window where she could see Fox shrink into the distance.
I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defense
Fox opened the door to his house and softly closed it behind him. He could hear his dad snoring upstairs and padded over to the closet to hang up his coat. Fox threw it on a hanger and closed the door, preparing to fall back into his doggy bed but found himself staring at the closet.
He looked at it for what seemed like forever until opening the door again, Fox rested his eyes on his coat and more specifically, the right pocket. He told himself to leave it alone and go to bed but his body refused to listen, reaching into the pocket and grabbing the bangle.
And every time I've held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose
Fox stared at it and instantly, the mix breed entered his mind. His paw tightened into a fist around it. Feelings he was sick of bubbled to the surface and this was nothing more than painful reminder. He didn’t need that. He didn’t want that.
He closed his eyes, body shaking and his chest tightening to the point where it hurt. Eyes snapping open, Fox spun on his heel and trudged over to the kitchen.
He flicked on the light switch and approached the garbage bin.
But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break
Fox stood before the bin looking it over before switching his attention to the bangle again. It swung limply from his hand as he held it over the bin. His eyes followed its movement and found it very difficult to tear himself away from the accessory. Every instinct in his body told him to drop it yet he did not.
Why should he keep this? She was with someone else and he had made peace with that. All this would do, would send him into his states of silent and secret dejection. And if he kept that up then it wouldn’t be a secret for too much longer to everyone else. That thought alone gnawed at his stomach.
Fox wanted thing to go back to the way they were. He didn’t want King or Bailey or even Sasha worrying about him. That was a burden they didn't deserve. It was a burden he didn't deserve. Ever so gently, his fingers began to relax and the bangle slipped from his paw and down towards the bin.
And this is why my eyes are closed
It's just as well for all I've seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows
Fox felt his eyes widened and with quick reflexes, caught the bangle before it disappeared into the garbage. He felt a heavy breath he had no idea he had been holding in leave his body. Fox looked down at the bracelet again and the words he had heard over and over again in his head tonight flew through his mind like a Frisbee at the park. Those words, combined with what he held in his paw conjured up the image of one Sasha Hartford and everything that made him feel this way about her.
Fox wished he had been selfish. He wished he had told her how he felt, Kevin be damned. It hurt to think that but as his cousin told him, he wanted to show her that he could be the one for her too. But in the end, that just wasn’t him. It wasn't him to thrust such an unfair and awkward situation on two dogs he considered his friends. He just couldn’t be that selfish. Especially when he saw how happy she was when she was with Kevin. It was then that Fox thought of something he hadn’t before.
Fox wasn’t her boyfriend and probably never will be but he was still her friend. A friend that made her happy too. He cared for her and when he thought about it, making her happy, albeit not in the way he desired, was all he really wanted.
So I would choose to be with you
That's if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break
Fox cradled the bangle in his fingers and brought it close to his chest. Perhaps this bracelet didn’t have to be a reminder of what he could never have. Maybe it didn’t have to bring up memories of heart ache and longing. Maybe...Maybe it could just be a reminder that she was happy and he had a small part in that. Couldn’t he be selfish in that way? Selfish in wanting whatever made her smile and feel content?
Fox was her friend and even though he desired to be more, he could live with that. It was still going to hurt when he saw them together. It was always going to hurt. But seeing her smile and hearing her laugh would be enough to ease the pain if only a little and for Fox, that was enough.
Turning around, he silently made his way back to the living room. The grey pelted canine turned off all the lights, encasing the world in blackness. Fox climbed into his doggy bed and lay on his stomach, hugging the pillow tightly to his face. Underneath him, his paw played with the bangle and Sasha appeared one more time in his head.
He saw her as she was. Beautiful, friendly and full of life. His eyes began to close and sleep soon overcame him. Perhaps there, in his dreams, he could have the happy ending he knew would always be out of reach.
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows
Oh, my heart.
I know that Fox didn't have much time in the arc to tell Sasha how he felt but I always thought he probably took some time to work up the courage to tell her. I was unable to resist the urge to put in a few hints of Sasha leaning a bit towards Fox, despite still being crazy for Kevin because it was something I wanted to see and because I'd like to think somewhere inside that crazy head of hers, she finds him just as appealing as Kevin. Not that I have anything against Kevin, he's awesome.
I hope at some point in the comic, this gets revisited again. I'm not going to hold my breath as I think it was a one and done storyline but it would be great if, say next Valentine's, Sasha remembered that he wanted to tell her something and it goes from there. But that's just me.
Well, thar she is. If there's one thing I'm bad at, it's being 100% happy with my own work. I'm a bit of a harsh on myself so I never have any idea if something I write is good. I hope at least you all liked it and thank you very much to those who took the time to read it! The song used was 'And So it Goes' by Billy Joel.
Go outside and play.