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The Dogs of War 
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Post The Dogs of War
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Children By Any Other Name: (perhaps a bit unnecessary, considering it's almost entirely on one page...)
Part 1: Scroll down a bit :P
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Channel Surfing

The Dogs Of War
Part 1
Part 2

----------

Alright! My (forum) name is Coatl Ruu, and I have written fanfiction. I'm relatively new here, but seeing as being able to post things like this was a fairly large part of my motivation to make an account, I figured there was really no point in waiting.

Constructive criticism is always welcomed. :D

Like a number of others, this story began with a question: Why is it that the Sandwiches have Grape and Peanut, but no human children?

----------

(Part 1 (Part two will be posted here when it's finished, which will probably be later tonight or tomorrow afternoon (I promise.)))

“Well, Mr. and Mrs. Sandwich, your test results are back.” The doctor sat down in a chair across from the young couple and placed his clipboard down on the old table between them. He laced his fingers together and rested them on the faux wood.

Earl Sandwich felt his heart slowly sink down into the pit of his stomach when he saw the doctor's ashen face. The day before, he'd greeted them with a warm smile and an obligatory joke about the couple's last name. But now...

It was Lucy who spoke first. “It's not good, is it?” She was barely able to keep the quaver out of her voice. Earl reached over and squeezed her hand.

The doctor sighed. “Well, there's really no point in beating around the bush.” He picked up the clipboard and examined the sheet again. “Simply put... you aren't going to be able to have children. I'm sorry.”

A sob escaped from Lucy's tightly clenched mouth. Earl put his arm around her and pulled her closer, whispering that everything was going to be fine. But tears began to gather in his eyes as well. That was it. What he had feared had finally been confirmed.

The doctor still hadn't looked up from his clipboard, but he was obviously uncomfortable with the situation as well. Well, I suppose one never wants to be the bearer of bad news, Earl thought. He fought to regain his composure, drawing in a ragged gasp of air. He was only partially successful.

Finally, the doctor looked up from his papers and faced the couple. “I... I understand that this must be difficult for you to process. But there are one or two options available to you.”

Earl slapped a hand to his forehead and dragged it down his face in an attempt to discreetly wipe away the tears. “Such as?”

The doctor leaned forward, pulling a couple of fliers out of a briefcase at his side. “Well, Earl, Lucy,” he said, handing them the small stack of paper. “How do you two feel about pets?”

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Last edited by Coatl_Ruu on Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:41 pm, edited 8 times in total.



Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:16 pm
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Hello Coatl Ruu!

You have chosen a bit of a sad way to start your story, but it seems just fine otherwise. The only thing I can think of right now is that I expected the doctor to talk about adoption as in adopting a human child, but that would defeat the purpose of you plot, I guess. Keep posting though, this sounds interesting.

Oh, and don't worry about being new and contributing! That's encouraged around here. My second post after registering was practically me starting a translation project into a language no one on the forum understands, yet the fine folks here accepted my work with open arms! :D

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Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:13 pm
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Pretty good start there, Coatl Ruu! I hope this is but the beginning of a wonderful fanfic. I hope that this is just the start for you.

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Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:40 pm
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Yay! I've been noticed!

Okay, responses... 1) Yeah, the beginning is kind of a downer. It gets better though, trust me. 2) It also probably would have made sense for the doctor to suggest adopting a human child. I might change that bit later.

Part 2 (of 2) should be done either tonight or tomorrow afternoon. After that, I might get to work on something else...

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Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:58 pm
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
ahhh... I nice idea~ ! approve~

have a quote for your hard work!

"When women are depressed they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country"

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Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:14 pm
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Ahh, so this is the start of it all for the Sandwich family, YAY!!! Can't wait to see what's gonna happen next!
Also, I am not surprised that the doc suggested about the pet adoption, for 2 reasons:

1) adopting a human child is next to impossible, the laws are thicker than pure tar, not to mention the time and the frustrations you put into such a breaucratic practice, even if you're blatantly the fittest of parents
2) in HP world, you get to live with one or more (generally) nice creatures that will give you love AND understanding, at the cost of a paper sign. Also, of course the doc wouldn't have pointed out human adoption since he'd have well imagined that a human couple would've thought about it already, right?

Ach, forgive me this intrusion, but sometimes I feel compelled to detailing things... :oops: :oops:

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Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:14 am
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
@Kizer: Not to disappoint you, but this story has a happy ending. So feed off the despair while you can! :twisted:

@Valerio: No need to apologize! You make good points, and I'm really just glad that you took the time to comment.

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Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:48 pm
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
I thought Mrs. Sandwich's name was Jane, not Lucy...or is that a fandom thing?
This seems to be an interesting story. I'll keep a watch for it.

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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
I think I remember Jane being used in another fanfic, but her name hasn't actually been mentioned in the comic. I just decided on Lucy, because Earl had to call her something and Lucy seemed to work.

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Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:03 pm
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Tha Housedog wrote:
I thought Mrs. Sandwich's name was Jane, not Lucy...or is that a fandom thing?
This seems to be an interesting story. I'll keep a watch for it.

'Jane' was introduced by Two Twig in 'Symphony in Periwinkle' and continued by me.
'Helen' has been introduced by Samson in 'The Golden Age'.
'Mrs. Sandwich' has been introduced by Rick and kept it that way, so far :mrgreen:

Heh, 'Earl Loves Lucy'... :ugeek:

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Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:33 pm
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Just got to read this, and it's looking awesome. Though it's a sad start... can't wait to see how it goes!

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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
I love your new approach to the Sandwiches situation. Please keep this coming.


Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:21 am
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Ah sadness.... let it---oh my god, Ive become Kiser.

But I do love this fic-----for its bitter emotions---- stop messing with my mind Kiser!


I love the fic for its new approach----and for its sadness---- KISER STOP IT!

Well before Kiser does something, I say thumbs up for good stuff----and sad stuff.


KISER!

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Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:49 pm
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Alright, so I overestimated my writing speed a little >.<

Here's part two. Part three will probably be finished tomorrow or on Sunday.

----------

When Earl parked their small sedan in the lot outside the humane society building, snow was just beginning to drift down from the sky. Earl and Lucy got out of the car, pulling their coats tighter around them to keep out the bitter cold until they could make it to the door.

The pair said nothing until the receptionist greeted them inside. The young woman looked up from the computer screen in front of her. “Hello! How can I help you?”

Earl stepped forward and rested his hands on the desk's surface. “Actually, we were looking to adopt.” The woman's grin broadened.

“Great! Glad to hear it. Now, we're just going to have to fill out some paperwork before we can let you bring a pet home.” She reached back behind the counter and pulled out a thick folder and a few pens.

Earl flashed Lucy a pained look. The woman rolled her eyes. “Fine, you big baby,” she said with a tired grin. “I'll take care of the paperwork. Why don't you take a look around? You know, find us a nice one?”

The receptionist shrugged. “That's fine. I'll have someone show you around. Just go through those doors.” She pointed to a pair of solid-looking white painted doors. Earl waved a quick goodbye to Lucy and tiptoed out of the room. She stuck her tongue out at his retreating back before turning to the receptionist.

When Earl exited on the other side, he was instantly assailed by an entirely new set of sights and sounds. The room had a high, wide open ceiling. From every corner echoed a mild cacophony of sound: barks, meows, voices both human and animal.

A man with a scruffy brown beard and a pair of lopsided glasses came out from behind a precarious stack of crates and walked over to Earl. “You here to adopt?”

Earl nodded. “Yep. Receptionist said someone would meet me in here?”

“That's me. Want to take a look around?”

“It's what I'm here for, isn't it?”

With a grin, the man gestured for Earl to follow him. They went back into a labyrinth of empty cages, sacks of pet food, and still more crates. After a few moments, the sounds grew abruptly louder, and they walked out to see at least three rows of cages occupied by cats and dogs of every description.

Earl looked around with a raised eyebrow. “This place looked a bit smaller on the outside.”

The man next to him chuckled. “Yeah, we get that a lot. Feel free to take a look around.”

Earl nodded thoughtfully, turning to walk off down the center aisle. When he passed by, some of the pets in their cages perked up and watched him go by with interest. Quite a few simply looked up, flicked an ear, and went back to sleep.

One dog in particular caught Earl's eye. He was a small brown puppy with a pair of floppy ears and his face pressed up against the bars of the cage. Earl turned and walked over to the cage, crouched down, and leaned in close. The puppy tilted his head sideways and looked up into the man's face.

“Hey there, buddy,” Earl said softly. “What's your name?”

The puppy's ears drooped a bit. “Don't have one.”

Earl looked at the small pup for a moment longer. In that moment, he thought about Lucy. He thought about the human children that they could never have. And in that moment, he made a choice. He stood and turned to the bearded man loitering nearby.

“I think I found what I was looking for,” he said. The man walked over to where Earl was standing by the cage.

“Well, that was fast,” the man responded with a wry grin as he knelt to unlock the cage. “You must've really connected with the little guy, eh?”

Earl smiled back. “I suppose you could say that.” The man picked the small pup up and out of the cage.

“Want me to bring him back to the office, or did you want to hold him?”

Earl looked thoughtfully at the small dog. “Well, let's see,” he murmured. “Pup! Want a piggy-back ride?”

Instantly, the puppy's ears perked up and his tail began to flick back and forth. “Yeah!” Earl laughed and walked over to where man was standing. He crouched a bit and motioned for the puppy to hop on his back. The small dog landed and scrambled into position somewhere around his shoulders.

“C'mon, my wife is this way. She'll be dying to meet you.” Earl started back for the maze of crates and boxes that separated that section from the front office.

“Wait!” The puppy tugged on Earls ear, bringing him to stumbling halt. The man twisted his neck back to see the pup pointing back at the cages with a troubled expression on his face. His ears were drooped a bit, and his tail wagged uncertainly

Earl let the dog down and knelt next to him. “What is it? What's wrong?”

The puppy pointed urgently back at one of the cages stacked in the back. “Can we take him with us?”

“Take who?”

The pup started off towards the back of the room. Earl got up and walked after him, having to walk quickly to keep up. For such a tiny dog, he sure can move.

“The cat! The purple cat! Come on!” The puppy came to a screeching stop just in front of the row of cages. A few dogs looked at him with raised eyebrows.

Earl peered through the thin bars of the cage and saw a small kitten curled up in one corner. A purple kitten. “Huh,” he muttered. “That's interesting.” Then he rapped lightly on the cage door, and said more loudly. “Hey, kitty.” What was his name? He glanced at the sheet taped haphazardly onto the cage door.

“Erm... 'Princess Periwinkle'?” Ah. So he's a she. He cringed a bit. Who would give that name to a cat? The kitten in the back looked up, blinking as though she had been asleep for at least the past week.

“What do you want?” the kitten groaned, rubbing at her eyes. “Thought I told you people to leave me alone.”

“Well, my wife and I are adopting.” Instantly, the cat's head shot up. Her ears went from being lazily slouched to one side one moment to standing fully upright the next. She stared out at Earl with widened eyes.

“Wh... what? Really?” The kitten's yellow eyes seemed to sparkle. Any doubts Earl may have held about adopting the cat as well evaporated in an instant.

“Yes, really,” Earl said with a laugh. “Come on, I'll find that guy with the keys.”

As if on cue, the the bearded man walked over. “Someone talking about me?” He laughed quietly and pulled a small ring of keys out and slid one into a lock on the cage. The door fell open, and the kitten jumped out and into Earl's arms.

The small cat curled into a warm ball, tucking her head under Earl's arm. In a voice so soft that it was almost unintelligible beneath the dull clamor of the shelter, she whispered two words.

“Thank you.”

A warm smile spread across Earl's face. He gently scratched the kitten behind the ears and turned away from the rack of cages. “Think nothing of it.” Earl glanced down at the small puppy grinning on the floor beside him. “All aboard!” He stooped low to allow the pup to scramble up to a place on his shoulders, then turned to head back to the front office with his fuzzy cargo.

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Last edited by Coatl_Ruu on Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:48 pm
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Wow. Talk about love at first sight! :lol:

Peanut and Grape as a puppy and kitten? I really wish I could see that!!

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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
The D'awwness factor of this fic just skyrocketed! :mrgreen:

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Sat Jan 15, 2011 1:16 am
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
amagad! Cutenes is DA KILLER, here! :D :D :D :D
I can't wait to see how the most adorable puppies in the neighborhood are going to interact. *hops impatiently*

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Sat Jan 15, 2011 3:22 am
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
I know this is a fanfic, but Peanut didn't know Grape was a girl 'till later. Much later.
But seeing how this using fanon, I'm okay with that.

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Sat Jan 15, 2011 3:28 am
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
So much CUTENESS!

AGGhhhhh! *Dissolves into Darkness*

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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Quote:
Peanut didn't know Grape was a girl 'till later.


...

...

*facepalm* Well. That seems like the kind of thing I should have remembered. Maybe he... forgot? Wait, yes, that's it. He forgot. There are no problems with that idea whatsoever.

Quote:
So much CUTENESS!

AGGhhhhh! *Dissolves into Darkness*


And that, my friends, is the classic bait and switch at work. 8-)

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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Quote:
*facepalm* Well. That seems like the kind of thing I should have remembered. Maybe he... forgot? Wait, yes, that's it. He forgot. There are no problems with that idea whatsoever.

Pss...maybe you could change the gender reference? You're still on time, you know...

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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
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maybe you could change the gender reference?


Actually, there are probably a few sentences that I would need to fix if I did that. The phrase "his name is Princess..." is a bit goofy. Wouldn't be too hard to fix, though.

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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Coatl_Ruu wrote:
Quote:
maybe you could change the gender reference?


Actually, there are probably a few sentences that I would need to fix if I did that. The phrase "his name is Princess..." is a bit goofy. Wouldn't be too hard to fix, though.


That and Peanut didn't know Grape's name was Princess Periwinkle until the Vet arc.

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Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:32 pm
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Quote:
That and Peanut didn't know Grape's name was Princess Periwinkle until the Vet arc.


>.< Gimme a sec...

Aaaaaand... fixed.

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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Second time today that my head exploded from cuteness.

This is good story; hope to see more soon!

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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
And now I give you part the third:

----------

“Alright, now initial here.” Lucy sighed, and scratched out the letters “L S” for what had to be the millionth time that day. She put down the pen and looked across the desk as the woman sitting there took that particular document and put it with the growing stack.

“I think we're just about done here,” the young woman across the table said. “There'll just be a couple more forms when you decide on a pet, and then you're free to go.”

“Thank god,” Lucy groaned, massaging her cramped hand. “I never thought there would be this much paperwork to deal with.”

The woman across the table shrugged helplessly. “Well, we can't let just anyone walk out of here with a pet. All it really takes is a quick check on your criminal record-”

“Then a small mound of forms.”

“Well, yes. It's worth it in the long run run, though.”

Lucy's attempt at a response trailed off when she heard the office door swing open, then snap shut. She craned her neck to see past a stack of folders filled with official-looking documents. The faint beginnings of a frown that had formed on her lips melted into a broad grin when she saw Earl walk around the corner with a tiny cat and dog hitching a ride on his back.

“Oh my gosh,” she said slowly, getting up from her seat. “That may be the most adorable thing I have ever seen.” Lucy walked over to where Earl stood on the opposite side of the room, stopping just in front of him.

Earl laughed when he saw Lucy's expression. “Well, seeing as we're both grinning like idiots, I take it I did a good job?”

“Did a good job?” Lucy slowly shook her head back and forth, her grin only broadening. “Earl, they're perfect.” She extended her arms with only a hint of hesitation. “May I?”

“Be my guest.” Earl extracted the napping kitten from her place in the crook of his arm and handed her over to Lucy. The cat looked up into his wife's face with a mixture of confusion and apprehension. Her ears began to flatten against her head...

Then Lucy put her hand lightly on the kitten's forehead. The tiny cat blinked, then her eyes slowly began to droop shut. She stretched out her legs, all but vibrating with the effort, the curled into a loose, warm ball in Lucy's arms.

“I take it back,” Lucy whispered. “That was the most adorable thing I have ever seen.”

The woman back at the desk called over to the young couple and their fuzzy companions. “If you two are ready, I'll need the names for the adoption forms.”

Lucy looked back at Earl, cocking her head sideways. “Earl, what are their names?”

Earl's wide smile froze in place. He couldn't say “No-Name and Princess Periwinkle”. That would just be stupid. No, he had to think of new names. And fast. Not just generic pet names, Fido and Fluffy were right out.

Then it came to him. The perfect names for the pair. A brown dog and a purple cat... Why hadn't he seen it before? His frozen smile defrosted into a sly grin.

“Well,” he said, indicating the puppy he held. “This is Peanut Butter, and the kitten my lovely wife is holding is named Grape Jelly.” He paused for a moment, giving his words time to sink in. “And they will, of course, be taking our surname.”

Lucy raised an eyebrow. “Peanut Butter and...” Her voice trailed off. Then, a second later, a flash of realization crossed over her face. “Earl!” Lucy said, punching the man lightly on the arm. “That is so corny!”

Earl clapped a hand to his chest and looked at Lucy with exaggerated expression of shock. “Lucy, I'm hurt.” The puppy clinging to his back giggled.

Lucy rolled her eyes. “Oh, cut it out. Besides, you didn't let me finish.” She leaned over and pecked him on the cheek. “Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly Sandwich. Those are unbelievably corny names... but I love 'em.”

Earl laughed, slinging one arm over his wife's shoulders. “I'm glad to hear it. Now, come on. Let's go home.”

But as the pair made their way to the glass door of the animal shelter, a small voice near Earl's ear spoke up.

“Are...” Peanut's voice faltered. He continued in a whisper, “Are you gonna be our mom an' dad?”

The question stopped the young couple in their tracks. A single tear sprung unbidden to Lucy's eye. She let it fall away like a drop of rain to the ground before turning to her husband. Their eyes met just once. In that time, something seemed to pass between them. Earl nodded imperceptibly.

Lucy rested her palm on Peanut's fuzzy head, gently running a finger through the tuft of fur just between his ears. “Yes,” she whispered. “Yes, we are. Now come on, sweetie. Let's go home.”

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3
2
1
0
INITIATE CUTENESS RESPONSE:
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!


Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:12 pm
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Well, that was unbelievably cute.

You broke me. I will never see anything as cute ever again...

Just kidding, but that was really, really cute!

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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
This chapter sets a record mark for adorable cuteness.
MEGADAAAAWWW!!!
:D :D :D

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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Yes, yes, my plan is coming to fruition! :twisted:

I mean... *cough* Glad you guys are enjoying it! Part the fourth (the conclusion) should be completed within the next few days. After that, I was planning on going to work on a new, potentially longer fic. I'm not going to give too much away about it at this point, but I'll give you a hint:

Ferrets of the Lost Ark.

Okay, maybe that's too much of a hint. Still.

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Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:44 pm
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Mr. Sunshine
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
HOW DID I MISS THIS?!

D'AWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

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Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:46 pm
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Coatl_Ruu wrote:
Yes, yes, my plan is coming to fruition! :twisted:

I mean... *cough* Glad you guys are enjoying it! Part the fourth (the conclusion) should be completed within the next few days. After that, I was planning on going to work on a new, potentially longer fic. I'm not going to give too much away about it at this point, but I'll give you a hint:

Ferrets of the Lost Ark.

Okay, maybe that's too much of a hint. Still.

FoLA
Totally epic! Wanna read!

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Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:33 am
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
valerio wrote:
Coatl_Ruu wrote:
Yes, yes, my plan is coming to fruition! :twisted:

I mean... *cough* Glad you guys are enjoying it! Part the fourth (the conclusion) should be completed within the next few days. After that, I was planning on going to work on a new, potentially longer fic. I'm not going to give too much away about it at this point, but I'll give you a hint:

Ferrets of the Lost Ark.

Okay, maybe that's too much of a hint. Still.

FoLA
Totally epic! Wanna read!


ditto

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Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:58 am
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Alright, just thought I'd give everyone a bit of an update. Part four is, like every other part so far, running a bit late. I think I'll have it done tomorrow or on Tuesday, but I've learned that my estimations and what actually happens are two entirely different things.

Also, it turns out I have entirely too many ideas for what to do next. These include: Ferrets of the Lost Ark, a fancomic, a short piece of meta-fiction, and a short story about a war dog.

So. Stay tuned, I suppose. :P

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Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:22 pm
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Puppy Wrangler
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
I'm giddy with anticipation. :lol:

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Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:44 pm
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Mr. Sunshine
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
copper wrote:
I'm giddy with anticipation. :lol:

This. I'm sure whatever you have planned is worth waiting for.

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Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:52 pm
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Everyone..... we have found a new fanfic writer for the ages! Begin the sacrifice to the Rick Gods!

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Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:40 am
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
EmoPeanut wrote:
Everyone..... we have found a new fanfic writer for the ages! Begin the sacrifice to the Rick Gods!


YEEeeeSsssss!

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Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:03 am
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
EmoPeanut wrote:
Everyone..... we have found a new fanfic writer for the ages! Begin the sacrifice to the Rick Gods!


AAAAHHHahahahaha... KNEEL before ZOD! Rick for the Rick Gods!

No. Wait. Let me try that again...

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Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:21 pm
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Post Re: Children By Any Other Name - A Housepets(!) Fanfic
Well, I've been having a hard time thinking of a good way to wrap things up, so part four is no longer the last one. Part five will be released at some point. I've kind of given up on giving estimates, seeing as I've missed every self-imposed deadline so far. :roll:

Well... part the fourth.

----------

Three months later...

“Peanut,” Lucy whispered. “Peanut, wake up. We're almost there.”

The dog, not quite a puppy any longer, looked up with a pair of unfocused eyes out the window. “Hmm?” he mumbled, then let out a mighty yawn. Rubbing his eyes, he looked around the interior of the car, finally settling on the face of Lucy Sandwich, looking back at him from the front seat.

“I said, we'll be in Babylon Gardens in a minute or two.”

Peanut's back instantly straightened, and his bleary eyes widened. “Really?” He nudged the cat in the seat next to him. “Grape, did you hear that?”

“Hmph.” Grape stared resolutely out the window, crossing her arms over her chest. Peanut raised an eyebrow and leaned forward, craning his neck in an attempt to get a look at her face.

“Grape? What's wrong?” He reached out to put a hand on Grape's shoulder. She smacked it away without so much as a glance.

“Peanut, leave me alone,” she spat.

Earl groaned, glancing at the rear view mirror. “Grape, don't do this. Babylon Gardens is just a better neighborhood overall. A one bedroom apartment just wasn't gonna cut it. Besides, there're about three pets per square foot in this part of town. You and Peanut will make plenty of new friends.”

Grape finally took her eyes off the window to glare at Earl's back. “I don't want new friends. I liked Sisco and Rudy!”

Earl's grip on the wheel tightened, and he took a deep breath before speaking again. “Look,” he said, visibly restraining himself. “We're not having this conversation again.”

An awkward silence descended upon the Sandwiches. The car continued to roll along. Earl stared stolidly ahead. Grape glared with equal force out the window. Peanut and Lucy just kept their eyes down, as if they were unsure of where they were supposed to look.

After what seemed like hours, the car rolled into the concrete driveway next to a decent sized house. Earl and Lucy unbuckled their seat belts in silence before getting out of the car with Grape and Peanut.

“What do you think?” Earl asked, indicating the two story house in front of them. “Better than a one bedroom apartment?”

Grape looked up, her scowl softening a bit. “Well... I guess it is bigger.”

Earl let out a small sigh of relief. “I'm glad to hear you're pleased. Come on, let's go inside and unpack. We already had everything delivered here.” With a grudging acceptance, Grape followed the other three to the front door.

Lucy had only just closed the heavy door behind her when she heard a heavy knocking come from the other side. She turned and pulled it open again to reveal a man in a white t-shirt and jeans. He was built like a small truck.

“Hi, I'm Officer Bill,” he said in a deep but friendly tone. “Just thought I'd come over and welcome you folks to the neighborhood.” He extended his hand to shake, and Lucy took it.

“I'm Lucy. My husband Earl is in the back somewhere. He'll be out in a minute. But in the meantime...” She turned to look down the hall. “Peanut! Grape! Come out and say hello!”

Peanut peeked out from behind the corner, then came out and walked down the hall. He stopped in his tracks halfway there and glanced over his shoulder. “Grape?” he called tentatively. “Are you coming?”

Lucy groaned, slapping a hand to her forehead. “Grape!” she said, an exasperated note creeping into her voice. “Get out here.” An audible hiss came from around the corner. Following in the sound's wake came Grape. She kept her eyes cast down to the floor, looking up only to cast a nasty look in Lucy's direction. The woman narrowed her eyes in a warning glare, but said nothing.

When Peanut walked up to the doorway, a broad grin spread across his face. “Hey, little man!” he said, holding out an oven-mitt sized hand. “Put 'er there!”

All Peanut could do was look up and stare. “Wow.”

Bill laughed and scratched the little dog behind the ears. “Sorry about that, bud. But trust me, I don't bite.” His grin wavered a bit when his gaze fell upon the dour-faced cat with her eyes cast down and away from the group gathering at the door.

Bill leaned in a bit closer to Lucy. In a rather lower voice, he asked “Is your cat all right?”

Lucy sighed, casting her eyes around the room. “No, not really,” she admitted. “The move has been hard on her.”

Bill nodded slowly. “I think I might be able to help her, you know, get used to life here. But first...” He looked back out the open door. “One second.” He stuck his head past the door frame. “Fox! Come over here!”

A few moments later, a husky bounded around the corner and skidded to a stop just within the doorway. “Yeah, Dad?” he panted, looking up with wide eyes.

“Easy there, buddy,” Bill said, patting the dog on the shoulder. Then he indicated the other dog standing to his right. “This is Peanut. He and his family just moved in here. Why don't you take him around, introduce him to the other dogs?”

Hearing this, Peanut looked anxiously up at Lucy. “Can I go, Mom?”

Lucy shrugged. “Sure. Why not?” The words had barely left her mouth before Fox and Peanut were out the door. Shaking her head in amazement, Lucy turned her attention back to Bill. “So, what did you have in mind?”

Before Bill could answer, a stack of boxes with a pair of legs came jogging around the corner. “Lucy,” it asked. “Do we have towels? I mean, a lot of towels?” Then the stack of boxes turned to reveal a rather harried Earl Sandwich. “Oh,” he said, regarding Bill. “Who's this?”

“Earl,” Lucy said. “This is Officer Bill. He... erm,” She walked over and leaned in behind the wall of cardboard her husband was holding. “He thinks he can help with Grape.”

Earl nodded. “Nice to meet you, Bill,” he said, a bit louder. “I'd shake your hand, but...” He shrugged and looked forward at his cargo.

“Maybe later, then,” Bill said with a grin. “Now, I think I can change your cat's mind about this place, but only if she agrees come along with us.”

Earl nodded, putting down his stack of boxes with groan. “Well, Grape,” he said, stretching out his back. “What do you say?”

Then, for the first time in nearly ten minutes, silence fell within the Sandwich house. Grape looked up from her brooding to see three sets of human eyes regarding her. She glanced from one to the next: Earl's weary gaze, Lucy's quiet, almost pleading one, and finally to Bill's impenetrable stare.

Finally, she gave in. “All right, fine. Where are we going?”

Bill allowed himself a faint grin. “You'll see. Come on.” He turned for the door. After a few moments, the three Sandwiches followed.

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Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:51 pm
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