Symphony in Periwinkle
~Somewhere else, on a fence overlooking the main street of Babylon Gardens Boulevard.
Max outstretched his arm, pointing towards a nearby cat, "Five bucks."
"Ehhhh... Three." Grape wagered.
"Three?! What do you take me for? I ain't doing it unless its at least over four."
The fence they were hanging on was beginning to crack. Max hopped down, rubbing his thumb, "What I do isn't cheap deary
, these are quality antics here."
Grape dropped down too, "C'mon Maxie, we've been doing nothing but semi-legal antics for the last hour or so, can't we do something that won't permit you a black eye?"
"It doesn't hurt that
much..." Max muttered, rubbing his partly purple swollen eye, "Besides, I think sharing laughs is the ideal way for two people to spend their time together, and truly blossom in this bland, institutionalized melancholy world."
Grape rolled her eyes, "Pfft, you just like taking my money."
"Its true," Max shrugged, "but hey, a cats gotta eat to live, amirite?"
Grape would have made a snide remark on how little he really did appear to be eating, but at that moment, an enormous figure manifested behind Max and swooped him up, swinging him violently back and forth in his arms. Grape shrieked and tried to duck behind the nearest garbage can, tripping instead and falling on her chest. She turned over quickly, covering her head with arms, desperately trying to avoid being crushed by the-
"Heh ho, hey-cut it out, that tickles! Hey, knock it off will ya! You big lug."
Max was struggling to get himself down, his arms and legs were like twigs compared to the other cat's impressive physique. The cat towered over Grape, being a full head taller than she was, with lengthy muscular arms and legs. The shape of his face was triangular with tear stain markings along his eyes and black spots and jagged stripes running down his brownish gold fur. His great big eyes were like saucer plates, with an olive green tinge that glowed. Long black striped ears splayed back across his head, and a smile with teeth the size of Grapes finger's dominated most of his face. A bull shaped tag hung from his brown collar.
"Ha haw! It iss so good to see you friend!" Bellowed the large cat in a low graveled voice, letting Max down from above his head. "I not see you in vhile, ve hang out naow, yes?"
He glanced down at the still prettified cat lying on the ground. "Oh, vhat do ve haff here?"
With one hand, he bent down and lifted Grape up from the snow, "Little cat, you should not be on ground flat on back, you could dishonor our cat brethren." He patted her off before setting her back down. "Who iss this boy Max?"
"Ahem," Max coughed, "she
, is my, um, girlfriend, Ivan."
"Girlfriend eh?" Ivan rubbed his eye lids, "Ouf, must be lo'sing eye vision. I am sorry little girl, I mistake you vith that very powerful jaw."
Grape blushed with fury, "Max!" She had about all she could take without passing out or throwing a fist or two.
"Relax Grape, your jaw's just fine, lovely even." He pointed up at the large cat, "As for you
Ivan. What have I said about you jumping me in front of others?"
Ivan blushed too, an act that was entirely unfitting for his appearance. "I know, I know, iss bad habit. I am sorry again."
"Alright then," Max walked over to Grape, flicking the last bit of snow off her ear, "You okay?"
Okay, didn't even begin to describe how Grape felt. She was embarrassed, scared, and extremely uncomfortable. She couldn't get her heartbeat to settle down and every moment she was growing increasingly frustrated for making such a fool of herself. Easy Grape, you can still handle this in a dignified manner...
"Peachy..." She finally responded
"Good! Grape, this is Ivan. Ivan, Grape" He gestured one to the other.
"Iss pleasure to make acquaintance to you." Ivan extended a large paw toward Grape. She lost count of the number of teeth in his smile.
"Nice to meet you too." She lied, taking his hand, which completely engulfed hers.
After all proper greetings were said and done, and Grape had the opportunity, she leaned over to Max, keeping her voice down, "I'm guessing he's not from around here is he? What's he foreign or something?"
Max whispered in kind to her, "No, he only thinks he is." Reading Grape's reaction, he continued, "He kinda gets passed around a lot from owner to owner, poor guy just can't seem to hold down a home. Anyway, whenever he's adopted he, ah, sort of tries to "adopt" his owners nationality. Don't ask me why. First time I met him, the owner he had then was from Britain."
Grape tried to imagine Ivan sitting down with a cup of tea in his hand, wearing a monocle and top hat. The thought didn't get very far.
"Yeah," Max said, "I know.
This could have easily been one of the more stranger friends Grape has ever had to put with from Max had she not already grown accustomed to the multiple hues of mad hattery that proliferated in Babylon Gardens. Especially after having met Tarot
... anyone would have seemed normal to her after that. Not to mention Pete.
She leaped at the sudden touch of Ivan's paw on her shoulder.
"Aoww, alvays Max is leaving me out of his talkings. It makes me feel great loneliness." Ivan genuinely sounded like he was upset. He bent down, studying Max's face "Hmm, vhat happen to eye of yours?" He glared at Grape, "Has purple cat been beating Max?"
"No!" Grape protested, "Not yet anyway...
Max looked disheartened, "Graaape... " He whined. *sigh* "Its all right Ivan, just had a bit of a rough and tumble, if you know what I mean."
Ivan contorted his face, "No... I know not vhat you mean. Oh! By the vay, I did not forgot deal ve haff Max. In last two veeks I haff eaten no meat. Just as ve say, nothing but vater and bread. This, I keep track of, only three days left yes? Haow are yo-"
"Ah- dada da..." Max interrupted, holding his hand up, "Ve- I mean, we
, don't discuss those things in fronts of others either Ivan..."
Grape's ears perked, "What's he talking about Max?
"Ivan's on a diet." Max spelled quickly, "No big deal, just a little program I set up for him, is all. Right Ivan?"
Ivan squinted his eyes, "Max." He pinched his fingers together, "Its makes very, very
little sense vhat you are saying. We make deal, you forget? Ve go three veeks on traditional European survival quest to instate manliness yes? No meat, yes?"
"Yes, Ivan, I know." Max placed a palm on his forehead, ""Somebody help me, this cat doesn't understand
Max glanced over at Grape. To his surprise, she appeared to be more purple in the face than the rest of the body. Her hands were clenched tightly and shaking. Little did he know she was using every ounce of will power she had not to deck him at that moment.
" She hissed coldly, "Could I.. talk to you for a moment?" She pointed at Ivan, "alone?
"Grape, is that really necessar-"
Ivan watched them, "Umm, I vill vait here then? "
She forcefully dragged Max away to the further end of the alley they were in, rounding the corner till they were out of sight. Grape let go, pacing off a few meters before turning around. Her eyes were not filled with ire, but with tears. The rage she possessed was swept away and replaced with bitter sorrow.
Grape was breathing unevenly, trying to calm herself before she began, "...I'm not sure what to say to you Max. I just, can't quite believe it."
"Grape, I don't understand what you're making a huge fuss about, it was just-" Max started, but Grape persisted.
"Max, do you realize what you've been doing? What you're doing to me? You've been essentially starving yourself, and for what?! Masculinity installment?!" She dropped her head, "I was so worried about your weight loss, worried that something was wrong... only to find out you've been doing it on purpose..."
Seconds ticked by. Max waited hesitantly for another lashing, unsure if he would be given the chance to say anything in his defense.
Grape spoke once more, "You know how I feel about this sort of thing." She bit her lip, "I told you about my past, and... I actually felt like you really understood." She was crying now, "None of this is funny to me Max."
"I, I'm sorry, I didn't mean, I only... " Max didn't have the heart to look her in the eyes anymore, his voice barely came out above a whisper, "I just t-thought it would be good for a little thrill...
" Grape shrieked, "You think putting your health in jeopardy is some kind of thrill?!" She shook her head, "Starving yourself fo-... for sick kicks
It was too overwhelming for her.
She felt like a failure. She had failed to help Max. Failed to see past the lies and tricks of an evil Griffin. Failed to keep Peanut out of Tarot's hands. She failed to keep things from falling apart, and she just couldn't take it. She began to back away, sprinting into the other direction.
Max yelled for her, "No wait, please Grape! Don't go! Please, just hear me out!"
Grape continued to run, ignoring the cries behind her. She ran pass everything she once considered dear to her; ran pass anyone who called out to her. Continued to run, even after the tears had run out. Nothing seemed in placed anymore. Even as she ran, she couldn't understand why she was running.
After forever, she stopped running. Nobody was following her, but the area around her was unfamiliar, suggesting that she might have gone off into an undisclosed section of the forest.
Grape sat down to catch her breath, attempting to sooth her raging thoughts.
*sigh*...where was somebody to talk to?
...Grape blushed.Where was Peanut...
A yelp broke the still air. She scrambled up hastily, looking feverishly around her. Where did that sound come from?
From above her the sound came again, Grape looked up. From the side of the cliff next to her, somebody was skidding down at break neck speed. Tumbling and flailing without any control, covered in clusters of snow. She tried to make out who it was, but the sun glared furiously off the side of the hill, preventing her from seeing the person in need of aid. What Grape neglected to realize was that, at some point, this person who she was tracking would eventually reach the bottom of the hill, right where she was standing... and...CRASH!
The unidentified person made head on collision with Grape, sending them both sliding for another ten feet or so.
The strange figure pushed up off of her, "Oooow...are you all right? I'm so sorrr... ohhhhh my..." That voice
, Grape thought hazily, sounds so familiar...
She wiped the snow from her eyes, blinking to see who it-
In the sanctity of his cozy little kitchen, Earl sat, busily critiquing the latest newspaper articles. He considered himself a man of class, and as such, would not stoop to reading tripe material. Unfortunately for him, the last few months issues have proven to be fruitless with meeting his standards, and today's was no exception. With an air of defeat, Mr.Sandwich laid the now crumpled paper beside his bacon, taking the last heavy swig of his coffee. He glanced out the back porch, making pained expressions at the mountain of snow slowly growing in his backyard. Hmmm...Do they have laws preventing homeowners from using their pets for manual labor?
The idea was worth looking in to.
From the living room, Mrs. Sandwich shuffled into the kitchen with an empty dish and cup, grazing along the linoleum floor in her mismatched slippers and faded blue bathrobe. Earl stood up and joined his wife by the sink with his table ware as well, taking up a rag and dying off the wet plates she rinsed before setting them on the rack. Normally, this joint effort went without much discussion, but today Mr. Sandwich had something on his mind.
"I think the papers have finally begun to wear themselves out." Earl sighed in lament, "All those poor monkeys they got cooped in that little room, getting paid below minimum wage to print this indistinguishable rubbish."
*yawn* "Hmm, I've met some of them before," Some of Jane's coworkers at the nursing home worked at the local zoo during the summer, "and they're lemurs, not monkey's dear. The poor things. You know they're doing the best they can honey, times are hard right now."
Mr. Sandwich would agree there were more pressing matters at hand, certainly more than the current state of condition of the local paper, but Earl was old fashioned like that. He would never tell anyone this, but sometimes he felt lost in this new age of technology; and given the fact that he was only in his mid thirties
, its probably best he doesn't, least he be ridiculed for his outdated methods. Though, if someone were to ask Mr. Sandwich, he'd tell them his father was the reason to blame. After all, the man raised him in the twentieth century as though it were the 1950's. Most kids back in his day had black and white T.V. or primitive electronics to play with; but all he had, besides his old folk's car to tinker with and the sticks and stones, was the newspaper. He knew it was a dying art, but it annoyed Earl to see it wither so.There are so many things you can do with newspaper, and you can read it too!
"...They can't even get the funnies right," he murmured. "I take that sort of thing seriously."
Jane eyed her husband with the sort of look that suggested she's heard this rant one too many times, "Well... if you want, maybe you can read this one I found last week on the computer. I think its pretty cute."
"I'm afraid cute doesn't really do for me anymore Jane." Earl frowned, "Why, just two days ago, I happen to walk by a shop with two little hamsters on display behind the window case; both of them were white as snow, all warm and cozy next to each other, settling in for a nap, making the most adowa
ble faces..." The words that could describe what sort of face he was making, or lack there of, are startlingly few, "and I felt nothing Jane... its empty. The tinsmith simply forgot to give me a heart."
"I don't get it." Jane patted her face, "Should I be worried by this?"
Earl grinned devilishly, "Oh, I wouldn't worry at all
if I were you."
"Oh stop it." Jane prodded him playfully, "You're an awful tease!"
He shrugged, perhaps he deserved that.
"I just meant that, in the sense, you're more beautiful than cute. "Cute" carries the proverbial concept of eye candy, no fortification, just something nice to look at. Beauty, on the other hand, carries more power and elegance, an ever lasting thing, a true ripe fruit... Do you understand?"
"So, I can't be beautiful and
"Hmm, well then, if that's the case, then I guess you'd have no interest seeing what I found this morning..."
This piqued Mr. Sandwich's curiosity. "Oh?" Naturally, she was playing him on.
"Yes," Jane pulled out of her back pocket a small piece of paper. "because this
certainly has no fortification what so ever. What was I thinking? In fact, I might as well just toss it right now. Unless..." she flicked the paper in Earl's direction, "you
want to have a say in the matter?"
He took the paper, giving a slight smirk to its beholder. Actually, it was a photo, not a slip of paper, and once he was able to painstakingly decipher the image without his glasses, he was partially taken a back.
"Huh, I remember this little fellow," He brought the image closer, examining it thoroughly, "but who's this one? I don't...recall...wait a tick." After a brief pause Earl's eyes flickered, "Is that... Oh my goodness, it is!" He caught himself laughing all of a sudden, "Ha heh, ahh... whew, I can't believe I forgot about that."
Jane chuckled, "Mmm, I couldn't believe I did either." She was standing beside Earl now, tracing the outline of the photo with her fingers, "Do you think Peanut remembers this?"
"Of course he does," Earl replied , "and I'm sure Grape does too, assuming she wants
to that is."
Jane's smile fell reluctantly, "Oh right." She stared at the picture mournfully, "She's been through a lot hasn't she?"
"Yes, but she's a tough girl," Earl said, smiling broadly, "and whats more important, she's had someone to help her through it all."
"She certainly has."
Mrs. Sandwich gave Mr. Sandwich a hug, and he hugged her in turn.
Jane took the picture and held it out one more time, "So whats the final verdict Mr. Fortification? Too cutesy? Enough substance for you?"
He beamed, "Plenty
----------------Symphony in Periwinkle
Peanut stared nervously into Grape's eyes, his heart was racing and his arms were shaking. It was that kind of awkwardness he was used to, finding himself lying on top the one person he didn't expect to land on from a perilous journey down the side of a hill. These things happen. Grape wasn't saying anything, and for a second Peanut was frightened that he might have seriously injured her, and that now she might be in shock or something. He had to find out.Say something.
He pleaded with himself, Anything.
"H-hi there." He blurted out.
"Hey..." She replied.
"...Ar- are you okay?"
"I'm fine... you?..."
"Good, good."Okay, at least she's not hurt.
He could put that concern aside.
"Would you, um, would you mind letting me up? Its cold down here..."
"Oh! Sure! Yes, sorry..."
Peanut didn't really 'get up' so much as he just sort of, flopped over beside Grape. The fall had sapped him of his strength, and standing up, he felt, would just add to the overall awkwardness. For now, everyone was equal lying on the ground.
Grape sat up slowly, brushing the crumbs of snow off that had fallen from Peanut's head. She was preparing to get up, but Peanut reached out and grasped her shoulder, "Um, could we stay down here for just a while longer?... I don't think I can really get up just yet."
She compelled, lying back down next to Peanut, sighing heavily as she did so. She scrunched up her scarf, forming a makeshift pillow beneath her head against the cold snow. She placed both her hands on her chest and settled herself in. The both of them lied there together, witnesses to the all-inclusive heavens that slept above them in the clouds.
"...Its beautiful, isn't it? The winter sky?" Peanut asked. He was attempting to make friendly light conversation, to offset any unpleasant reciprocation's from his less than smashing entrance, "Sometimes I like to think of it as a large piece of paper." He outstretched his hand up above his face, "Its big enough to house all my ideas and drawings, and I'd never run out of space..." He turned his head towards her. To his dismay, Grape didn't appear to be listening, or signaling signs of being conscious for that matter.
Peanut lifted his head, "Grape?"
"Huh?" Grape blinked, "Ah, I'm sorry peanut..." She massaged her eyes, wiping small wet traces of tears away, "I wasn't listening..."
Peanut sat up quickly, wincing at the jolts of pain in his torso. Concern was welling in his eyes, "Grape what's wrong, are you okay?"
" I told you I'm fine.
" She growled, voice lased with angry. She just, continued to stare up at the sky, as the undying bitterness continued to swell within her. A silent stream of tears began to flow, to which Grape only made feeble attempts to subdue. She wiped them away, till she couldn't keep up with them. She tried with all her might, pressing her paws against her eyes, but they wouldn't stop.
It was both baffling and excruciating for Peanut to watch her like this. He wanted to help, wanted to reach out and hold her, to comfort her. He wanted to know what was plaguing her.
Peanut leaned cautiously towards Grape. He gave a start when she sat up unexpectedly. Grape took a deep breath, expelling her inner demons, lifting a shaking arm in the direction of peanuts shoulder, missing and instead grabbing his collar. She shook it lightly, speaking with a soft tone, "Peanut I, *sniff*
I really need somebody to talk to right now..."
Peanut nodded, "Of course, anything."
Grape rested her head in the crook of his shoulder as Peanut drew her closer. She sighed, "Its about Max-"
?" Peanut interrupted, drawing his head back in disbelief, "Grape, he hasn't... hurt
you, has he?"
, no. Listen, listen to me, you never listen," She said, poking his forehead, " Silly dog
... Where was I, oh that's right."
Grape continued, "This morning I went to go pick him up so we could go for a walk -I think I mentioned that to you yesterday- and while I was over there, talking with him, I had noticed how skinny he was you see? Like unsightly
skinny." She held her hands an inch apart from each other to stress her point, "I was concerned, but I didn't want to bother him about it. After that..."
Peanut listened intently as she went on explain the the events of that morning in explicit detail. She had this funny habit of revealing the main point behind her stories right at the beginning rather than towards the end. Once she did get to the end, she'd repeat the same thing, stop to realize what she'd done, then try to pretend she meant to do that while hiding her embarrassment. Peanut could laugh that sort of thing off, but there was no laughing this time. He sensed pain behind this story.
"...Because of that I found out he had been starving himself on this ridiculous quest with Ivan to prove himself a real man, cat, I don't know." Her ears fell, "I sort of lost myself and ran away. I think Max was yelling something, but I couldn't hear him. Then I found you..." She looked up at Peanut, her face riddled with dread and fear, "What should I do?"
Peanut pondered in silence. For a majority of her telling the story he didn't say anything, not because he didn't understand it, but because it left him just as beclouded as Grape was. Max? Starving himself?...No.
There was something else to this, something he wasn't getting. Max, no matter the level of callus disregard he showed for regulation of personal display, would never succumb to this kind of outrageous shenanigans. The only way to know for sure would be to go directly to the source.
Grape waited impatiently for a response. Peanut finally opened his eyes, and said with a heavy heart, "I don't think I'm the right person to ask Grape. Maybe you should go back and talk to Max."
"No, I can't do that..." She said hopelessly, hiding her face in her hands, "I can't face him now, not after..." She shook her head, "This whole 'pretend dating' thing was a stupid idea, I never should have started seeing him." She dragged her hands down her face, staring gloomily up at Peanut, "You must think pretty poorly of me, I wouldn't blame you. I've shoved you aside like trash, sticking my nose in someone else's business on some kind of idiotic self righteous crusade... I would see myself pretty poorly too..."
Peanut could sense how broken Grape felt inside. No matter how tough she acted on occasion, she was very sensitive beneath it all.
He scratched Grape between the ears, smiling with extraordinary depth, "Grape Jelly Sandwich. I think you forget just how good hearted a person you are under all that self proclaimed cynicism
. You might not agree, but believe me, you're the most caring person I've ever known. " He lowered his head, nuzzling the side of Grape's face, "You were willing to put your personal feelings aside to help someone in need... I don't know if I would've have done the same.
"But I didn't
help him," She said, almost tearing up, "I didn't help anyone. I've only made things worse..."
"That's not true, you don't know that..." Peanut wished he had been blessed with a more poetic lingo. He was sorely tempted to recite a Shakespearean quote, but he bit his tongue and held it in. Now was not the time.
"Yes I do." She fell back on the snow with a *fump
*, returning her attention once more to the sky. Peanut sighed and eased himself back down too. When Grape didn't want to talk, the best thing to do was to let it go.
The trees looked so bare this time of the year. Their thin, wispy branches toiled endlessly in the winds.
Her whiskers quivered, "...Do you think what we're doing is right?"
----------------Wait, maybe I should have phrased that differently...
"I mean, do you believe we'll ever be able to be together, without others calling it wrong?"
Normally, Grape tried to keep these thoughts out of her head, trying to deny the fact that she had no real solutions to these problems. Maintaining a positive attitude was the only way she could cope with the fear of being discovered, and most of all, the fear of what could happen to Peanut. She worried a lot for him because, as she has come to discover from living with him for so long, he never really put too much effort into planning ahead; instead he just relied on this tried-and-true method of "everything will be alright if I believe hard enough.
Peanut gawked at her, "I'm scared to ask what brought on this thought."
"I wonder sometimes, don't you?" She shrugged, "We're a cat and dog, social norms dictate we shouldn't even have feelings for each other."
Peanut stuck his tongue out, "To fooey with social norms... I'll find a way to make it work, somehow. I don't care what happens to me... I just want to be with you."Oh Peanut, it's like I know you too well.
Grape thought to herself.
"I do too, but it won't be that simple. I mean, a lot of bad could
happen to you." A single snowflake fell upon Grapes lip; she blew it off, watching it waft away gently. "Honestly, It might just be in your best interest if you decide to stay with Tarot." She immediately regretted saying those words, knowing all the implications, be they good or bad (mostly bad), that statement could pose.
Peanut certainly did appear puzzled, "What do you mean? Are you saying you don't want to be with me anymore?"
"Peanut, you know that's not what I meant." She began conducting the rest of her speech with the aid of her hands, "I'm just saying, being with her would probably be a much more pleasant experience than being with me." Grape was prepared to count them with her fingers, "You can go on dates, hold hands in public, frolic gaily through fields of flowers, actually be able to show some affection to one another outside your own homes, et cetera."I'm not trying to be insensitive
, she told herself, I'm only stating the obvious.
Grape rolled her eyes, "Heck, why not make a pet name
for her, no one would stop you."
"You make it sound like we can't do anything
She smirked. Only because we can't.
Peanut thought it over for a second, "What if I called yoooou... Jelly Belly
Grape furrowed her brows, "I'd rather you didn't." She scuffed, "I don't even like jelly beans."
"Fine, but you
brought it up." He chuckled, "But you know what? Even if we can't do those things, I don't care. I relish every minute I can spend with you, in public or not. " He smiled his 'oh-so-peanut-smile.' His cinnamon bronze fur turned a deep shade of firebrick red, "I love you, that's all that matters to me right now."
She could feel her cheeks turning red too, and she giggled. She teased a finger before his nose, "Hmm, I love you too. "
Grape was feeling a lot better now that she was with Peanut. His unassuming nature sometimes had the exceptional ability of making Grape forget just how upset or angry she was. To Grape, this meant a lot to her, and prompted her to seek him out on those occasions when she needed to cool down, but Peanut was none the wiser.
She repositioned herself so that she was lying on her side, facing Peanut. "So enlighten me pooch." She's never called him 'pooch' before, and seeing the reaction it caused on him, it might make her more apt to do it again, "Why me? How'd a sweet dog like you ever end up liking this 'tomboy' in the end?" It might have been a little snooty of her to ask, but that's never stopped her before on previous occasions.
"In what sense?" Peanut asked, "Cause if we're talking 'when', I already liked you before I found out you were a girl. Just, in a 'friend' way, you see, cause I didn't know you were a girl." He waved his hand, "If you mean 'why' then..." He scratched the tuft of fur below his chin, "les' see here."
Peanut retracted himself back a little, folding his legs in to sit up. He formed a frame with his fingers, looking over Grape's figure. She didn't get what he was doing until he finally declared, "Its definitely the ears.''
"The ears," Peanut repeated, "I think that was the reason I became so attached to you in the first place... aaaafter
I found you were a girl of course."
"Right, but, just the ears?... Really? Nothing else?" He can't be serious.
"And the tail I suppose. You have a very pretty tail. Plus, you have a beautiful purple coat. Its very soft," He tilted his head back, "I do like soft things."
Grape skewed her brows, "OK lenny
, but how about something a bit more intangible
, hmm? I don't suppose you're going to say I remind you of a rabbit next or something."
His fingers began poking each other, "Is it wrong if I just happen to like certain features of my girlfriend?" The way he said that sent Grape an awfully weird vibe, "If so, then I apologize George
*sigh* ...We are both such dorks.
"Apology acceptance pending. Now, why don't you let me try since you can't think of anything."
Peanut crossed his arms, "Fine, tell us both why you decided to accept me, the dog, instead of a ca-dahhh..." Ca-dah?
He smacked his head. From what Grape could assume he acted as though he had just remembered something. "I remember now." Point for me
"Sorry ummm... I should tell you, I kinda... told two people today about us...
"What?!" Grape shrieked, all good feelings were lost at that moment.
Peanut raised his hands in defense, "It's okay Grape! I mean, we can totally trust them and everything. I only told Sabrina-"
He forced a smile, "They wish us well?" he said, nodding his head "And I assure you they aren't going to tell anyone."
*sigh* "I don't know if I should feel more angry about this Peanut." She packed some snow and tossed it quickly at Peanut's head. For a dog, he has impressive dodging skills. "So impulsive, I told you you couldn't hold that tongue well."
Peanut's head sank, he looked like a puppy that's been kicked a couple times, so dejected and blue. It was starting to make her feel guilty. After all, It was kinda her fault he was even under this pressure to begin with. She knew perfectly well that he didn't handle stress very well, he'd interrupted enough of her naps to learn that by now. She reached over and gently placed a hand on his fuzzy head, "But... I guess that was
something I always liked about you."
She could hear his tail wagging behind him. Grape smiled, her teeth glinted in the sunlight, "I shouldn't really be quick to disparage you, when I'm as much at blame here. I'm sorry."
"It's okay....I'm sorry too"
"Are you sure they won't tell?"
"I'm pretty sure they won't"
"What if they do?"
"I don't know... Would we still be together?"
"...Yeah, I think we would be."
*Pant* *Pant* "Gra
- Grape!" *Cough* "Graaaape!
Max called out for her in every direction, each cry more faint than the last. He was on the verge of collapsing, every muscle in his body was screaming in agony. He had been running nonstop all over town looking for Grape, but to no avail.
Max felt sick, not from running so long, but at himself. He clenched his hands around his head, digging his claws in. What was I thinking?!
He cursed himself, striking his head with anger.
He stumbled forward, dizzy, and feeling weak in the knees. Ugh, I feel tired. Really tired right now.
Max grabbed the nearest bench to hold himself up. All the running was taking a heavy toll on his malnourished body, and now he was suffering the consequences. Just a little further....
He told himself. He trudged forward though the snow, ignoring the blinding pain in his legs. He was doing this for Grape; he had to explain himself, needed to tell her everything so that at least she knew.
His noble endeavor sought on until he was finally overtaken by the exhaustion.
Such a strange sensation, when your body gives up and stops listening to your head. The entire plain starts turning on its side, and the ground flips up towards you, mocking your unsteady grasp of reality.
Having lost all control, Max simply shut his eyes and waited for impact. Until-
"Vhoa! Max, buddy, hey! Don't vorry, I haff got you."
From the valiant vacant vorld of the vertically inclined, Ivan stood perched above Max, clutching his friend from painfully colliding with the pavement.
Ivan lifted Max up and onto a bench, poking his forehead, "Hey, you alright Max?" He asked again.
Max was struggling to keep himself awake, "I have to find her Ivan. I, I can't leave it like this."
"Who, the purple cat? Is who you're looking for? One that ran off? Vhat, you say something stupid to her?"
" Kinda... Listen Ivan, the deals off. No more hunger quest."
Ivan looked confused for a moment, "Huh? Vhy?"
"It doesn't matter, just, help me find her Ivan..."
Ivan stared hard into his comrade's face, studying him. "...Feh, okay. I vill help you."
Max smiled, "Heh, I can't move though."
"Ouf, this mean I haff to car'reh you're sorr'e behind?
"Looks that way, doesn't it?"
"Alright, alright. Hold on sec, owf-" Ivan heaved Max over his shoulders, turning him around so that his head rested on his shoulder.
"You're lucky I do this for you."Thanks buddy.
"I think I'll just take a nap. Right here. On your back. You don't mind do you Ivan? I hope you don't mind."
"Is vierd, but vhatever. On condition you don't drool okay?"
"Ahh, don't worry. I don't...drool...
As Ivan trotted off, Max's eyelids slowly drifted shut, and the world blacked out.
-------------Symphony in Periwinkle
The snow ball tournament was going well. Really
well. That surprised Fido. Because by this point, the toll count would normally have been around ten on the 'severely-but-not-that
-severely' injured rate. Every year they tried their best to prevent accidents, and every year they failed. Amazing how much damage snow can do. Even in the best case scenario's, they might have had to carry five or six dogs out, but so far they've only had to carry out two
. Heh, maybe it's just my luck.
He didn't believe in luck, but when things begin stressing him out as they have been lately, sometimes letting his flights of fancy flourish every now and then helped ease any building tensions.
When you're on the force there's a pattern of ups and downs that comes with the occupation, and right now everyone was starting to feel the strain that usually comes around after the holidays; that's when most of their cases popped up. He reminded himself of a discussion he once had with Kevin about finding methods of mitigation for just such occasions. For Kevin, he described his process as "finding the one thing that bothers me the most inside, and then tackling
it," but really that was just about Kevin's solution to everything. Fido knew perfectly well he didn't have any internal struggles or repressions, aside from one maybe, and even so, his biggest source of anxiety was anything but internal or even hard to find. In fact, he could readily identify his source of stress: it was about three inches tall, covered in hair, loud, obnoxious,and always straddling the sorest parts on his head, which were always his ears.
"Awww, why'd ya hav'ta leave the game so soon? I was having, like, so much fun.
" Spo began anxiously pulling on Fido's ear, "Come on, we're probably missing the best part! I want to see the blood!"
"Knock it off Spo, I got to do something right now okay?"
Spo let go of his ears and crossed his arms, "Pfft, and just what is it you need to do out here anyway?"
"You were there
Spo. Joey told me Peanut went into the woods a while ago and hasn't came back yet, so he asked me to go look for him."
Fido couldn't see Spo atop his head, his eyes were wide with bewilderment and excitement, "You mean he's been kidnapped!?" He jumped down onto the bridge of Fido's nose, and began tugging hectically at his glasses, "Great- I mean, oh no! Quick, round up all your cop buddies and lets go on a kill hunt for the kidnapper! With gusto muchacho! There's no time to lose!"
"Spo, settle down. No ones been kidnapped." With that he lifted Spo off his nose and placed him back on top of his head, "You're so worked up today, you need to calm down. I'm sure he just got a little sidetracked in these woods, we'll find him soon."
Spo slumped against Fido's ear, disappointment braiding in his eyes, "Uugggh, I really hate being on the adrenaline flop. Seriously, these shindig's are the only times I ever get to feel big
in my pitiful existence. Then it's like 'Bam
', all the fun and excitement is gone, and I start to feel small again..."
Fido stopped for a moment, "...I'm sorry Spo, but I have to find Peanut first. I promise, once I'm done, I'll take you back okay?"
In all honesty, Spo wasn't as bad as Fido occasionally made him out to be. Sure, he could be annoying, frightfully candid, really
annoying, and demanding, but he possessed a fragile heart; plus it just wasn't in Fido to abandon someone who needed him. The little fella had just kinda grown on Fido. Literally, he spends so much of his time on Fido's head he practically lived up there.
They continued to search through the forest; Fido didn't remember it being this dense, the trees were packed so tight together it was nearly impossible to walk straight for ten feet. Broken twigs and leaves littered the forest floor above the snowy white carpet, and snow would continue to drop on Fido's head, which really bothered Spo, but there wasn't much he could do about it. Spo remained silent for the mean time, leaving his co-hort to search while he simply napped in the free wake of time.
A tiny snap could be heard in the distance. Spo picked up his head, glancing behind them. He noticed a black object slipping behind the trees, moving quietly and lithely in and out of sight.
He squinted hard, "...Uuhhhh Fido? I think there's somebody behind us, and I don't think its that dog."
"What are you talking about Spo, there can't someone else out here."
Fido turned around, in time to see the ebony body spring forth through the bristle; Spo yelped and dived behind Fido's head, burying himself into his collar.
While he tried to pry Spo out from behind his neck, he took a second to properly observe the unexpected visitor, "Spo, its just Sabrina."
Spo stuck his head out, "Nina?
As Fido began walking towards her, Spo had climbed his way back up Fido's head and was bouncing up and down eagerly, holding on tightly to his ears to avoid toppling off. He flashed his tiny big grin and waved his arm frantically, "Hiiiii Nina! Hey Nina. Nina, Niiiiina!
"Spo, quiet--Sabrina! Hey there, I uh, didn't expect to find you out here. How are you?"
"Fair," She nodded, "a tad perturbed but fair. I must agree I did not think I'd see you here either. May I ask what brought you here?"
"Nina!" Spo chatted over Fido, kicking his enthusiasm back into gear, "Hey Nina can you hear me? I'm up here! Can you seeeeee
"Hello Spo, hehe, yes I can see and hear you just fine." She patted the top of his head delicately with her finger, to which he squeaked with delight, "You've grown so much since I last saw you." She has to be lying
"Are you and Fido getting along well?"
Fido really didn't want to waste time like this, "Listen Sabrina, Spo and I are-"
"Oh yeah, me and him, we're like super awesome pals." He thumped his chest, "Yes sire, I'd do anything for this guy. 'Specially when he's havin like, his usual melodramatic breakdowns? And needs a lot of moral support, I'm there for him. Cause that's what I do."
" Fido tilted his head a little, enough to get Spo to stumble back onto his hair. "Sabrina, you didn't happen to see Peanut around here did you?"
She stared at him in befuddlement, "Peanut? Yes, I did see him. Why, is something wrong?"
"He's been out here since he left and unfortunately, he hasn't come back yet, so..."
"Oh dear," Sabrina turned her head in the opposite direction, "I'm sure I saw him heading back, where could he...?"
"I don't know, maybe you could you point me in the direction he went? I'd hate to leave you like this so suddenly, but I need to make sure he's okay."
"I believe he went that way," She gestured down the path going east from her position, "but Fido, there's... there's something you should know."
"What is it Sabrina?"
Sabrina looked worried. She folded her arms together and slowly looked away, "He knows Fido, both he and Grape. They know... about us."
"OH SNAP." said Spo, serving as the vocal translator for Fido's innards
Fido furrowed his brows, standing rigid where he was. He brought one hand up and firmly gripped the point between his eyes. Its just one more thing after another... so much for luck.
"I'm sorry Fido, I know this isn't the right time to bring this up, but, I've been having some mixed feelings about it and... I mean, I do trust them, but- but what if someone else-"
"Sabrina." He interrupted, "W-we'll talk about this later. Right now, I need to find Peanut and then we can sort this out..."
Spo fell forward, dangling himself in front of Fido's specks, "Do you need a hug man? You sound awfully tense."
"Not now Spo."
"I'll do it, I will hug the muffins
out of you."
He glanced menacingly at him, "I said, not now
"Okay, okay. No need to get all stiffy."
Sabrina reached out for him, "Fido?"
He said nothing. Suddenly, Fido drew Sabrina in, hugging her tightly. He held her with passion, breathing heavily into her neck, imprinting the feeling of her soft silk like fur against his own. It felt like instinct, but it was more out of fear; fear that their days together were becoming numbered. Will I be able to hold you again the next time?
"...I have to go." He whispered. He let go and proceeded to hurry off in the direction that Sabrina pointed out.
"Oh sure, you hug her
." Spo pouted.
"I don't think we'll be heading back after this."
Spo's head sunk, "Aww man..."
So it was, Fido left Sabrina with in the cover of the forest.
Sabrina felt a lump in her throat, and swallowed hard as she pressed a palm against her beating heart. His scent still lingered in the air; her nose twitched spasmodically, sending her whiskers on a fit of frolic and waltz. He drove her mad on the inside, but she tried hard to disguise that fact, to the best of her ability.
*He does sound awfully tense. Poor soul.
* Tarot's voice came echoing clearly within Sabrina's head.
"Eavesdropping? That's not like you."
*I was feeling sneaky today
"I see. Well, if we're going to make headway into more discussion, would you send your spiritual cast over first?"
*Why? This way's easier.
"It just feels more natural to me when I can see you while I talk to you that's all."
*Oh, very well then.
The aura that permeated the air around her became dense, and from the bounds of the unknown mystic regions Tarot manifested herself in the presence of her friend, dispelling soft plumes of smoke. *Fwoosh
* Producing a spiritual apparition at a long range distance was not Tarot's forte; Sabrina figured she could use the practice. As the sole remaining practitioner between them of the spectral powers, Tarot had to be kept up to check on her current status level, and that role fell upon Sabrina.
She watched aimlessly as Tarot repositioned herself in midair into a more fitting appearance "Ahem- anyway, what can I do you for?
Sabrina cleared the smoke from her face, "You mean you don't know? I thought you heard everything we said; the whole sneaking business?"
"I only came in at the part where I think the wee mouse was about to offer a hug to that dog Fido. -I thought that part was cute.
"Actually, those two are part of the reason I asked you to come here. Both he and Spo, the wee mouse, are looking for Peanut in these woods. Do you think you could help Fido find him?"
Tarot's eye twitched at the mention of Peanut, "Oh... Peanut... yes, I already know where he is.
"You do?" Sabrina said disbelievingly, "Well, tell me, where is he then?"
"Say Peanut, you never did tell me how you fell down that cliff." said Grape, as she sat, comparing the length of Peanut's ear to her own.
"You never asked." Peanut responded, trying to stifle a giggle from Grape poking at his ticklish ears.
"I'm asking now."
"Fair enough." He scotched closer to her.
Grape withdrew her hands from his head, fastening her tail around it instead, "I only wonder because you're usually not this klutzy, simply slipping off the side like that."
"But I didn't; oh no, its much scarier than that." He fiddled with his new fuzzy headband, "Like, black voodoo stuff scary."
"As your confidant and object of affection," She fluttered her finger, tracing small circles to the side of her head, "I feel I am inclined to believe you."
"Surely you jest! Thy saccharine lips are stained with sarcasm and you dare to insinuate that I be a loony
Neither of them ever knew when to expect the other to suddenly stoke the bright passionate flames of eccentric flamboyancy. That was the beauty of it, and to denounce that beauty of poetic justice would make it nothing short of trivial burlesquing.
"Parish the thought you naive poodle."
"I say!" He said.
She narrowed her eyes, smirking jauntily, "Convince me otherwise, and I might relieve my acceptance. Come now, I challenge thee!"
"I accept your challenge foul wicked feline." He stood up, and proceeded to prep himself for his part. He spread his hands far apart, and took a deep breath, "There I was! I stood a gap in the mouth of the grove, and cease my ears beheld me, the fern itself spoke word of me! I traced the voice until I found myself on the steep cold precipice of the mountain's edge. Suddenly..."
"He's fine if you're wondering
- but yes, I may have... nudged him off a rather lofty mound of earth. Really nice hill too, perfect for sledding. I just imagine all the little human children barreling blindly down its perilous face.
"Tarot this goes far beyond proper conduct! What on earth could have possibly possessed you to do such a thing?!"
She stated quite plainly, "The spirits.
"I should have figured...
Sabrina was beside herself in dismay, "I was not informed that he was on our agenda today."
Tarot shrugged, "It was sort of a last minute decision on their part, I'm not entirely sure I understand it either.
"You didn't hesitate?" Sabrina asked, "What if by some chance he could be seriously hurt?"
"He's not dead, I would have felt his spirit leaving this world.
"That's comforting." She walked through her colleague and sauntered through the woods, keeping her pace at a weary travel.
Tarot floated close behind her, "Believe you me, I certainly wasn't happy with it, but its not my place to disobey them. I'm not like you, I can't be as idealistic all the time, I must do as I'm told, its part of my
"Part of your code I know." Sabrina finished for her, stopping in mid-step. She was familiar with the archaic scripted law, as she too once abided by it with heart and soul, "But you can't just, do
that Tarot." She gripped the side of her forehead, "You can't just blindly do what the spirits tell you to all the time."
"But I must.
She dropped her arms to her side, "Then I must say, I fail to see the point in all of it anymore."
Tarot swirled around Sabrina, hovering at eye level with her, "So should I ask you why you continue to force yourself to work with the order?
She smiled faintly at Tarot, "What? And leave you in the hands of another
overseer? I wouldn't dream of it."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, the trees were talking to you?" Grape tried in earnest not to look too overly amused with Peanut's story, "What were they saying?"
"I don't know, its like they were speaking some crazy other language that I couldn't make out. But that's not even the weirdest part!'
"Heaven forbid." Grape lamented.
Peanut eyes bulged out slightly, "When I got to the edge of the cliff, I noticed this movement going on beside me and the next thing I know I feel this branch this pushing me off the side! It's like the tree was alive! I would have kept my balance had I noticed this little tree stump right next to my foot, which I got caught on and fell over. Everything else after that was a blur till I got up and saw you under me." Peanut paused to let his tale sink in, "Needless to say, it was all pretty freaky."
like it... You sure you didn't eat anything funny before leaving the house?"
"Tarot dear, forgive me if I seem brash," Said Sabrina with slight unease, "but you are aware that Peanut's secret committed to someone else, aren't you?" She felt hesitate about bringing up this topic, but it's awfully rare to find Tarot ever out of the loop of things, so maybe...
"As a matter of fact I am, and it's my responsibility to ensure that he and Grape's fates stay intertwined
"Is it? Oh, forgive me I just though, perhaps... maybe you were genuinely interested in him?"
Even in her transparent state, The pinkish hue could still be seen spreading across her face, "I will admit, I do possess some affection for him... but I can't lose sight of my objective. My occupation doesn't allow for romance, otherwise I'd end up like yo... sorry.
"You can say it, I don't mind. I regret nothing about my decision."
"You say that so easily.
"Because I can
"You didn't have to give them up you know, you still could have had them. I don't understand why you did it.
Sabrina let her eyes drift shut, and a tiny smile crested the edge of her lip, "I loved him more." She glanced behind her at the billowing white trail she stood upon with its freshly laid paw prints, "And magic can't replace his good company. All this sorcery business never really amounts to anything more than a one-sided relation." She tossed to the air one hand, "I can make do without. And besides," Tarot could hear her giggling to herself, "love has its own special charm, and one day you'll see that." She nudged her through the shoulder, "Maybe you should let Peanut know how you feel about him."
"Oh what's the point
," Tarot's scarlet face glowed a deeper shade of red, "his heart already belongs to someone else. That and my daily celestial star readings pretty much guarantee it will never happen
." You can't argue with stars, they know everything.
"It doesn't mean he shouldn't have the right to know, and you could certainly use the practice."
Tarot chuckled heartily, "Hoo hum, you're a terrible influence.
-------------Thanks a lot for reading!The word capacity limit has been over exceeded. The story continues on page 3.