Housepets: Pet Project
9. Let the Games Begin...almost
The afternoon sun lingered behind a thin set of clouds for a moment or two, only for the hot summer winds to brush them away. Lupa raised a paw in front of her eyes, squinting as the sun reemerged. She took a small swig from her bottled water and sighed.
“Can I trust you for five minutes?” Said Lupa.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, look kid I don't need a babysitter. This is all backwards, I'm supposed to be watching pups!” Said Jack, the one armed wolf scratched the stub where his arm once was. He stood just inside the house. All to aware of his boundaries.
“It's not my fault you happened to 'find' all the neighbors stuff, try and sell it, and end up on house arrest.”
“They shouldn't have left it on the front lawn if they wanted it!”
“And you somehow didn't see the giant moving truck?” Said Lupa. She rolled her eyes and put her hands on her hips. “You know if it wasn't for you, mom wouldn't want me back here watching her little brother while they get to do all the fun stuff! I was looking forward this whole pet city thing.”
Jack grumbled to himself and tugged at the flashing collar now fastened to his ankle. He seemed like a pup on a leash rather than a thief on house arrest. He yawned and licked his chops before walking to the couch and propping his feet up on the coffee table.
“It's not like you had to stay. That parole officer person shows up to check on me.” Jack shrugged.
“He doesn't take you seriously. At least that's what mom says. If I left you alone you'd figure out some crafty way out of that little...ankle bracelet contraption.”
“Okay then, where do you need to go for five whole minutes?” Said Jack. The wolf scratched his chest and examined his claws. Picking his teeth occasionally with his index claw.
“I just need to go check on something, it's errand type stuff.” Lupa replied. “You won't do anything stupid will you?”
The she-wolf took a conservative sip of her water. Jack's eyes were glazed with indifference. She could just tell he was waiting for her to go. Waiting for that exact moment when she disappeared from sight. Jack sat up in his seat a little and chuckled.
“What's so funny?” Lupa asked.
“Nothing, just wondering if your errands have anything to do with that little bother of yours.” Said Jack. His white teeth glimmered in the light as he smiled.
“Like I said, just errand stuff.” Lupa rolled her eyes and turned to walk away. Jack laughed to himself and reached over for the television remote.
Lupa shut the door behind her and rubbed her temples. That uncle of hers was starting to give her a headache. The she-wolf took a tentative step from the shade provided by her house and onto the scorching sidewalk. She was ready to down her bottled water in seconds. The survivalist in her said otherwise.
Just a few sips here or there. She kept a brisk jogging pace down the block. Cars passed by her on occasion, a pet or two could be seen hiding beneath the solid shade of the taller trees that populated the neighborhood. Left, right, left, straight. She was almost where she needed to be.
Her ears perked up when she saw the familiar house. She had been there so many times the past year that it almost felt like a home away from home. Lupa jogged to the front door and held her paw up to knock. Her fist was inches away from striking the hardwood door when a loud crash shook the air around her. She heard a groan and some muffled curses.
Lupa smiled to herself and ran to the fence surrounding the house. She clambered up the side, taking a quick peek into the Sandwich household's backyard. Her eyes looked down to find a white furred pup struggling to lift a heavy cauldron of sorts back up. Lupa hopped over the fence and grasped one end.
“Need a hand?”
Jon stopped for a moment and blushed. “No I've got it.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Oh quite sure.” Jon grunted and growled as he pushed and pulled. Lupa leaned over and helped him anyways. While Jon looked a little annoyed, he did not reject the help. Jon paused for a moment and blushed even harder, feeling suddenly inadequate before the capable she-wolf.
“Thanks.” He said.
“No probs.” Lupa smiled, taking a look into the cauldron. “What's the deal with all this? Trying to make a witch's brew or something?”
“Actually I'm supposed to be cleaning out cauldrons. This is my second one.”
“Why are you cleaning out cauldrons?” Lupa looked at Jon and tilted her head.
“Oh...uh...to pass the time.” Jon shrugged. The pup grabbed a rag and a spray bottle filled to the brim with a lime-green liquid. He hoisted himself inside the cauldron and sprayed the inner walls, wiping as he did so.
“That's exactly the kind of stuff I do when I'm bored.” Lupa chuckled.
“And I completely appreciate the sarcasm.” Jon said, his voice echoing inside the cauldron.
Lupa frowned a little. Had he still not gotten over it? “You know, it has been awhile, and I haven't been able to leave the house lately. Just thought it might be nice to have some company.”
Jon poked his head out of the cauldron. “...tonight?”
“If you don't mind.”
“I...uh...” Jon blushed and climbed back into the cauldron, “I have plans tonight.”
“Plans?” Lupa folded her arms. Now that was something she didn't expect from someone who was so bored he was cleaning cauldrons. He was avoiding her wasn't he? She was starting to get a little annoyed. “Jon, I know things didn't exactly go your way between us. But we can still be friends right?”
“Of course we can!” Jon jumped from the cauldron again. “...well I mean...sure friends sounds okay. I really do have plans tonight, though, maybe tomorrow night?”
Lupa sighed and nodded. “Alright Jon, tomorrow.”
Jon nodded and slid back into the cauldron. Spraying and wiping away. Lupa took a few steps away from the cauldron, thinking to herself just what sort of plans Jon had. She had a sneaking suspicion the dog was not over her yet. He was trying to avoid her. It almost hurt in a way. Why did he have to like her like that? Couldn't there just be normal friendships? She shook her head and jumped over the fence. She took a few steps away from the house, when the door to the backyard opened. Her ears perked up, it was the pomeranian. The death-talker. Lupa took light footsteps back to the fence and pressed her ear against the side.
Her breathing sounded a little rushed, like she was bothered. What concerning news did she have?
“Jon, I've some bad news about your little...outing this evening.” Said Tarot. “Come inside, we need to chat for a moment.”
Jon jumped out of the cauldron and stumbled into the house. Lupa was now more curious than ever. Why was this outing so important to hide? She looked around a bit and slipped beneath the window. It was open just a crack, just enough for her to catch their voices.
Jon stretched and yawned. His neck was stiff from being inside cauldrons for a few hours. It was nice to have actual elbow room. Tarot led Jon to the living room and sat on the couch. Sitting in the living room was none other than Arcana, it had been awhile since he had seen her!
“Hey Arcana, what brings you here?”
She gave him a soft smile and looked at Tarot. “I don't exactly bring good news.”
“Fine, let's crush my dreams and get it over with.” Said Jon, trying his hardest not to sound too nervous.
“Oh I don't aim to crush your dreams. As a matter of fact we're trying to work in your favor, with the given circumstances.” Arcana replied, she took a sip of tea that was sitting on the table. Jon tilted his head.
“Turns out I'm not all that free today.” Said Tarot. “It's time for a yearly check-up, just to make sure I've been on my best behavior. If I don't show up, I'll have my powers revoked and I'll be back on probation.”
Jon sighed and nodded. Just his luck, now it was impossible to mask his disappointment. “Well...thanks anyways. I will try and figure something else out. Oh...do I still have to clean cauldrons?”
“Now you're getting ahead of yourself Jon. I did say I was trying to work around it didn't I?” Arcana rolled her eyes and ruffled the fur atop Jon's head. “We're waiting on a friend of ours, hoping he can pull some strings.”
Where do they get these connections? Jon had to wonder. Perhaps it was better that he didn't know. Though now he was trying to imagine what strange creature was about to walk through his front door. Or would it even walk through the front door?
Would it be disguised? Or would it even bother?
A sharp series of knocks shook him from his thoughts. Tarot was already answering the door.
Meanwhile, Lupa was trying her best to hide in the bushes. A sudden visitor had pulled up to the curb. It was a limo, she almost thought it was the Miltons! But the person that stepped out was no ferret. He was humbly dressed, or rather, not dressed at all. She could smell that death-talker scent all over him.
The door opened, and now the pomeranian was standing at the threshold.
“You're finally here! Come on, get in here.” Tarot snapped, the fox at the doorstep chuckled a little and stepped into the house.
“Fashionably late as per usual.” Arcana said, upon seeing her old friend.
Jon was shocked, and at the same time relieved. The fox before him was by no means a beast of eldtritch origin. He was quite familiar though. “Wait a second, the Hijinx cereal mascot is your special friend?”
“The one and only.” The fox took a bow of sorts and smiled at the dog. “And you are the dog formerly known as Marshmallow right?”
“How did you know my shelter name?”
“Oh I know quite a bit about you. I'm a bit of a psychic myself.” Kitsune smiled before patting the dog on the head. “And from what I understand you've landed yourself in the midst of some girl trouble.”
“You could say that.” Jon replied.
“Now, I know what you're thinking. What does an eons old millionaire playboy want to do with some kid's love life?”
“Well let's just say I like the dragon, and for some reason the dragon likes you.” Kitsune reached behind Jon's ear and pulled out a small charm dangling from a necklace. “Oh, I specialize in cheap magic tricks too. It's a hobby of mine.”
Kitsune placed the charm in Jon's paw. The dog looked at it for a moment, it appeared to be some cheap gift shop trinket. Jon looked up at the fox, who chuckled a little.
“Give it a try before you head out on your date, might spice things up a little.” Said Kitsune. The fox gave Jon a gentle pat on the shoulder and walked towards Arcana. “Now would you like that ride or not?”
“Right, thanks again Kitsune.”
“Hey what can I say. I'm a nice guy sometimes.” Kitsune leaned in and whispered in her ear. “You do owe me big time for that charm though.”
“Yeah, yeah I know.” Arcana nodded a little before heading towards the door with the Kitsune. Tarot wasn't too far behind.
Lupa held her breath and watched the group of psychics step from the Sandwich front porch. She sighed with relief as they moved just out of earshot. Kitsune paused for a moment, a smile crossed his lips as he jogged to the bushes in front of the house.
“Oh, you might want to go check on your uncle...” He whispered before running back to the limo.
Lupa had no time to react. Her heart stopped a little as she realized what had just happened. Then her heart started to race. Uncle Jack! She slipped out from the bushes and made a b-line straight for her house.
Just inside. Jon jumped, he swore he had just heard the bushes in his front yard rustle to life. He ran to his window, but he saw nothing. Now he was all alone again. Ever so curious about the little gift shop necklace. His mind began to race. What did it do? It frightened him in a way. His curiosity got the best of him though, as he fastened the necklace around his neck. He expected a flash of light, or a big magical blast of energy.
Much to his dismay, no such light show. Not even a twinkle. He slumped into a couch and sighed. Wondering what the darn little charm was supposed to do. He didn't even get a few basic instructions. The dog laid his paws on the charm, he felt his tail flick a little with annoyance.
“Okay, I'll take us to Uncle Max's place. I'm sure he can make a private room for us.” Jon laid down on the couch and stared at the ceiling. “I suppose I'd better call...”
Jon stood from the couch and walked across the living room. He tried to remember where he had last set his cellphone. He could have sworn he left it on the coffee table in the living room. Then again, his day had been spent worrying about his date. Where was the last place he had left it?
He went down his mental checklist, starting from them to the kitchen, and next the bedrooms and his living room. He took a moment to think, where had he not checked?
“Oh dang it's in the bathroom!” Jon exclaimed.
He ran to the upstairs bathroom and threw open the door. Sitting there on the counter was his little cellphone. He scooped it up in his paws and smiled. “And there it...is...”
He caught a sight of himself in the mirror. He held up one paw, and his reflection did the same. He looked back at his tail and gasped. A smile crossed his lips as he grabbed it and flicked it. Now that was a sudden turn of events, and it opened up his options in ways he could never have imagined.
It was relatively early in the morning in that part of the world. Computer monitors flickered to life one at a time. Live footage of various homes and businesses came to life. At the press of a button, microphones switched on in each location.
“...and we are online. Pet Paradise is live.” Said George Tarquin. His dull
black hair fanned across his forehead.
“Good Doctor Tarquin, now we get to the meat of this little experiment.” Said Keene. The ferret was seated on a high chair of sorts so that he could better see the monitors. “What's the approximate time the pets will begin their orientation.”
“Ten, maybe eleven minutes tops.” Tarquin replied. He glanced at his watch and looked back up at the monitors.
“Alright, I am going to check up on security. You have things under control here, I assume?”
“Of course, monitors can get a little tough on the eyes but I think my insurance will cover it.”
“Nice to know.” Keen jumped from his seat and left Doctor Tarquin to his own devices.
The ferret now found himself navigating a series hallways. Various employees walked throughout the halls. Scientists of all sorts, running to their positions in all parts of the facility. Keene clambered up a small stepping ladder set up beside a digital keyboard. He punched in a few digits and the door unlocked. The thunderous sound of a crowd murmuring with excitement filled the air.
Keene found himself situated in a press box of sorts. Miles was looking out of a window into a large open area of pets, situated in the middle of town-square. The wolf was decked out in the security team vest. His ID dangled from his neck on a lanyard.
“And here we have the best seats in the house. How does it feel to be the eyes of the city?” Said Keene.
Miles shrugged. “A little stressful. I liked it better when I was just watching over your estate. Way less people for me to worry about.”
“I wouldn't have picked you for this job if I didn't think you were capable, Mr. Head-of-Security.” Keene took his seat and pulled a drink, seemingly from nowhere. “I knew I should have brought some popcorn.”
“Is this all a game to you?” Said Miles.
“Nope, more like a movie.” Keene looked at the wolf and took a sip.
Peanut readjusted his shirt a little and looked down at his toes. It was odd how well the clothes fit. They were tailored for a pet. A tail hole cut in just the right spot. Not one hastily made from a human child's clothes. Still, it felt weird to see a crowd of pets now in clothes.
Grape was sitting on her suitcase on the ground beside him. Messing around with her phone. She wanted to check on the boys, but no calls would go through. Even though the signal bars were filled.
“You okay down there?” Peanut looked down at Grape and smiled.
“I'm just fine, but the phone won't make any calls.” She muttered, most of her attention dedicated to the small cellular device.
“Here, I'll try mine.” Said the dog. He reached for his neck and rolled his eyes. He was no longer wearing a collar, it had been turned in at a security checkpoint. He reached down to pockets of his new pants and pulled out his phone.
He went straight for his contacts and called Jon's phone.
“Nope, not on mine either.” Peanut shook his head. There wasn't even a dial tone.
“Great, my house could be on fire and I won't even be able to know.” Said Grape. She stuffed her phone back in her pocket and stood back up. “I think they made these clothes a little form fitting than yours.”
“I don't mind the view.” Peanut shrugged and smiled.
Grape rolled her eyes and lightly punched Peanut's arm. “If you weren't my husband I would knock you out.”
“Lucky me then.” Peanut hugged her. He took the glasses from the bridge of his muzzle and sighed. They were smudged once again. He wiped them on his new shirt and looked around himself.
All of a sudden, piercing microphone feedback whistled through the air. The crowd of animals yowled and murmured in confusion. Peanut squinted a little and looked up to a tower erected in town-square. Loudspeakers were perched at every angle.
“Is...is it on? Is it working?” Keene's voice tumbled from the speakers. “Ah hello all! I do apologize for your delayed flight. There were some technical difficulties here on the island. But that's all behind us! Things should be back on schedule.”
Keene cleared his throat and took a sip of something. The sound of paper shuffling could be heard. “Ahem, welcome to your Paradise Island orientation. Inside the bag that contained your new clothing you should find a colored folder.”
Peanut bent over and pulled the folder from its sleeve. It was a light blue color. Grape's was the exact same color. A sea of colored folders now made their mark in the crowd. He could count four different colors. Red, yellow, blue, and green.
“Judging by the sudden addition of color to this crowd I assume you have all found your folder. This is your orientation group for the day. Let us all take a moment to divide to the four corners of town square. Your guide should be wearing a vest of the same color.”
Suddenly four wolves wearing vests appeared at the four corners. Pets scrambled quickly to their places. Peanut carefully pushed his way through the crowd of pets. Now moving his direction. He could spy the wolf in blue just ahead.
“Rudy?” Peanut exclaimed.
The guide's ears perked up. He looked over to Peanut and waved.
“Hey! Mr. Sandwich! What are the odds, you're in my group.” Rudy ran over to Peanut like an excited pup and hugged him. He seemed relieved to see a familiar face. “Hope the delay didn't mess with you guys too much.”
“I've had worse.” Peanut shrugged and smiled. “You seem awfully happy to see me.”
“It's been a long grueling set of days. Security teams had to go through boot camp. I almost wish I didn't come.” Rudy sighed and looked around the crowd. More blue folders were appearing left and right.
“Hold on a second, you know this wolf?”
Peanut turned to his right and nearly bit his tongue. Instead of Grape standing next to him, it was Luna.
“Wait, where's my wife?” Said Peanut.
“I dunno, and you still didn't answer my question.”
“Oh...this guy is friends with my son back home.” Peanut shrugged. “Now where is-”
“Hey Peanut! Glad to see you're in blue group too.” There came another familiar face. Knife jogged towards the group, excited to see friendly faces. “Would you believe I was all the way at the red group? I got caught behind this big great dane and his buddy.”
“At least you made it before the orientation kicked off.” Rudy nodded. “Seems like you're popular around here Mr. Sandwich.”
“Know eachother? Yes Knife, we do.” Peanut nodded.
“Oi mis dios
, how did I end up with you again?” Lexter groaned. So very loud in fact, that Peanut was certain red group could hear.
“Lexie! We're group-mates!” Luna ran to Spanish water dog. A smug grin on her face, her body poised to pounce.
“Don't even think about hugging me. I've had too long of a day to tolerate this anymore.” Lexter held up a finger and glared. Luna only seemed to be even more amused by his threats.
“I think I'm starting to see a pattern here...” Peanut looked around himself. Scanning for the crowd for that one larger dog he had met on the plane. Somehow he wasn't seeing the beast of a dog. Or his wife for that matter. “Nice to see you guys again, but have you seen...”
“Your wife? She's right here.”
Peanut jumped and turned. Amadieu was standing over him. How could such a big dog be so quiet? Grape was at his side, her arms folded and her face a little stern.
“Thanks for running off without me back there.” Said Grape. Her calm voice did little to mask her annoyance.
“Sorry, got caught up in the moment.” Peanut gave her a nervous smile.
Lextor rolled his eyes as the dog and cat couple started their bickering. He felt like some divine being had laid eyes upon him and decided he wasn't having a bad enough day. Of course, he still had to admit that being in the pet city was exciting. Even if he was sharing it with cats. He certainly hoped that he could sleep somewhere far away from Luna, who seemed all too thrilled at his displeasure of her presence. He tried to slip away from the cat, but that proved to be a bad idea.
The Spanish water dog turned and crashed head first into a wall of fur. He stumbled backwards and looked up to see Torii. The Tibetan Mastiff looked down at Lextor, not unlike how one would stare at an ant. Lextor kept his cool and stood back up, taking notice of the blue folder in Torri's hand.
“I apologize for that, I wasn't paying attention.” Said Lextor.
“Don't know why you're apologizing, you were hurt more than me.” Torii spoke in a low voice, even then it seemed to carry over the crowd. Lextor opened his mouth to speak, but Torii was already walking past him and heading towards the rest of the group.
Rudy glanced down at his clipboard and then back up at the pets. “Looks like we have everyone...let's get this show on the road people. Have a lot to see and only so little time.”
“What are you getting yourself into? Why did you open your big mouth?”
Snow gave herself a long hard look in the bathroom mirror. Perhaps it was pre-date jitters, but she looked a little rough around the edges. She had not gotten very much sleep the night before. The idea of going on a date, let alone with a dog, did not sit well with her.
How, of all the creatures in the universe, did Jon Turkey Sandwich convince her to go with him?
In the back of her mind she could still see those big, dewy, puppy dog eyes staring into the very fiber of her soul. Tugging at her heartstrings. It took all of her strength not to say: “aww.” She sighed and slumped off of the bathroom counter.
“Just one date. That's all. And it won't be anymore different than just hanging out.” Said Snow, once again to herself. She grimaced and paused. “Yeah, just keep telling yourself that.”
She was, little by little, falling for the dog. It was driving her nuts. She had been hanging around too many odd couples. They were rubbing off on her. Not even a year ago did she resent all things canine. They were dumb, slobbering oafs with a penchant for cat chasing. Not her ideal date.
Then again she could not see herself really dating any of the cats she had met in the neighborhood either. She tufted the fur upon her head a little and walked away from the mirror. Things could not be so bad. Jon always aimed to please. Especially people he liked. She would at least get a decent meal out of the ordeal. Snow walked down stairs. Right past Fido, who was busy scanning through a report from work. His ears perked up, the police dog turned towards Snow and tilted his head.
“Hey you're out. Thought you fell down the drain or something.” Fido chuckled. “You're looking a little spruced up, what's the occasion?”
“Just...wanted to look nice I guess.” Snow shrugged.
“Right.” Fido looked back at his report.
“You don't believe me?” Snow folded her arms.
“Now, now, I never said that.” Fido said with a smirk. “You seem kinda skittish lately as well. You're doing anything illegal are you?”
“No of course not.” Snow rolled her eyes.
“No? Then why so worried?”
“You don't need to interrogate me officer Byron.” Replied Snow.
“I'm just asking making an observation is all.” Said Fido. “I don't think I've ever seen you willingly pretty up for anything.”
Snow sighed and looked over at her adoptive father. The dog was not going to stop pestering her until he received a satisfying answer.
“Just going to go hangout tonight. Wanted to look decent in public.” Said Snow, after a moment of careful thought.
Fido shrugged, that answer would have to do. He nodded and went back to reading his reports while Snow could breath easy. Now that she had lied her way through that mess, it was time to do it again several times throughout the day. She pulled her cellphone from her collar and thumbed through her speed dial. There were not that many numbers to sift through before she found Jon's. She pressed the green call button and looked around herself. Checking to see if there might be any open ears about her.
“Oh stop it...you're being paranoid.” She whispered to herself. Meanwhile the dial tone buzzed in her ears. It took a bit, but Jon answered.
“H-hello, Jon Sandwich speaking.” Said Jon.
“Hey Jon...is everything alright? You sound flustered.” Snow replied.
“I've never been better! Look, I hope you won't be mad. But I phoned in some help for our date.” Jon replied.
“Jon! What did I say?” Snow hissed into the phone.
“Relax, it was just Tarot and her friends. I found the perfect solution to our date problem.”
“Funny you should mention this whole date thing, look I'm not sure...”
“It's so crazy and you just won't believe if I tell you. Please come straight over so I can show you. You won't be disappointed, I promise.” Jon did not even seem to be paying attention to Snow. She sighed and looked up at the sky. He sounded so excited to show her whatever it was. Inside she felt herself want to cancel. Tell the dog she changed her mind.
“Well, I-” Snow closed her mouth for moment and bit her bottom lip. Cursing that little pang of guilt she could feel gnawing somewhere in the back of her skull. “I'll be right over. But this better worth breaking our little deal.”
“Trust me, it's so awesome, you might love it more than I do.”
“We'll see.” Said Snow.
“Okay, see you in a minute then. I'm going to get ready. Later!”
“La-” Snow began, but Jon had hung up. “-ter...”
She shook her head and tucked the cellphone back into her collar. The faster she made it to the Sandwich house, the less time she had to over-think her decision. Still her mind found the time for it. Why had none of the other times they were hanging been considered dates? Could this be any worse than fooling around with him at his house on some video game?
That might have been the surprise. A new video game. Jon always seemed to get flustered and excited about new toys like that. Still, it would not involve going into the public. That was a plus. She could just date him in the sanctity of an enclosed structure. Away from the prying eyes of a few devious minds.
Not that she had the greatest standing relationship with any cat floating around Babylon Gardens. Even in pet-lover paradise she seemed so alone among the rest of the Garden's denizens. She had made her way to all of the cat hangouts before. Heathcliff's was nice, but a little expensive now that it was a lucrative chain restaurant. Max's place was nice as well, but the place was full of older cats looking to hangout. Not really anyone her age. The most recent place she discovered was where younger crowd would always hangout. It was just an alleyway by Summerhill lane, like how pets used to hangout. It was situated between some shoe store and an old dog food factory that had been shut-down three months prior.
Much to her chagrin, the crowd there seemed to be the clique-zombie type of cats. Shuffling around in their little groups, snacking on stuff they brought with them. Picnicking about with friends. It was made apparent that there was not very much room for a cat like her.
“Oh you're the dog-lover's kid aren't you?” One cat said. Then all of the cats there realized who she was. “Yeah I think you are, and you're always with that weird dog that tries to act like a cat.”
“What's it to you?” Snow replied.
“Nothing. We don't tolerate butt-sniffing around these parts though, so don't get any ideas.” The cat chuckled. A group of his friends sniggered. Snow ignored their taunts, but at night she would roll the thoughts around in her head. Every time she found herself next to Jon in public, she could hear those mild taunts dig at her from the back of her mind.
Somewhere, she could just imagine that cat and his friends sniggering at her. Taunting and getting all the wrong ideas. Making up stories about how she too must be a dog-lover. She would try and make it seem like she was just a cat that happened to be friends with a dog, but those other cats only heard what they wanted to hear.
Snow took a deep breath and watched for cars before crossing the street. Against her gut instinct, even after the dog-lover comments, she still went back to Summerhill. All she had was a really strange dog friend. No one else was like her. No cats out there had her interests, all of the toms her age treated like some weird cursed object. Even the girls would steer away from her, like she would ruin their chances of being accepted.
She finally stopped in front of the Sandwich household. Her mind now switched gears. What was Jon going to throw at her? She rapped on the door with her paw and waited a moment. Her ears twitched a little, she could hear someone shuffling from upstairs. It sounded like Jon.
“Hey, is that your doggy boyfriend's house?”
Snow felt a chill run up her back. She turned around and saw that cat from the other night. He was sitting on the branch of a tree. Had he followed her? The thought creeped her out. Were his friends somewhere in the bushes? She almost wanted to cry, here she was, about to be humiliated further. The door knob turned and pulled back.
She had to stifle a gasp, the cat watching from the tree almost looked disappointed. He jumped from his branch and toddled off somewhere. Perhaps he wanted to go cause trouble for some other poor cat. Snow didn't care. She was speechless.
“Ta-dah! You like?” Jon posed a little. Though it was not the Jon she was used to seeing. No, standing before her was far different from a dog. The tail much more flexible, his muzzle much shorter. Snow was staring at a spotted feline that sounded like Jon.
“I have to admit. You really did surprise me.” Snow finally found her words.
“Who was that guy out there anyways?” Jon peeked around Snow and tilted his head.
“Nobody special.” Snow shrugged. Still trying to take in what she was looking at.
“Oh, well come on in! I was on the web trying to figure out good places for us to hangout near by. I even devised a cover story.” Jon grabbed her paw and pulled her into the house. “I'm your friend form your old neighborhood and I'm visiting. I even went through my mom's old collars and stuff and got a fish-tag to help me blend in better. Anywho, I think we should go to this cool place called by Summerhill.”
“Summerhill?” Snow was suddenly snapped from her trance.
“Yeah, you heard of the place?” Jon asked.
“Been there once or twice.” Said Snow. Though it had really been more like five or six times.
“What's wrong? You don't sound all that thrilled.” Said Jon as he pulled up a few windows on his computer screen.
“It's nothing, I'm just a little, surprised is all.” Snow looked up and down Jon again.
The taboo was gone, even if it might have been some cheap parlor magic, it was no longer weird to know him. She smiled a little at him and poked his muzzle. Just to see if it was real. Jon jumped a little and chuckled, and Snow had found that his muzzle was as real as her own.
“You don't give me looks like that normally, is being a cat that big of a difference.” Jon blushed a little and smiled.
“It's a huge difference.” Snow nodded.”To tell you the truth I was worried about going on a date with a dog. I mean, I like you and all Jon as a friend, you're nice. But...”
“People would treat you different if we dated like normal.” Jon looked down.
“Right, and I don't feel like dealing with stuff like that. It's the last thing I need on my plate.” Snow sighed. And placed a paw on his cheek. Still trying to test the boundaries of this illusion. She knew it had to be just that. Somehow, someway, she was being fooled.
But she felt some pent up feelings tell her not to care. After being around him for so long, he always seemed to be her go-to guy for fun and adventure. Even if she did think he did stupid things sometimes. It was better than staying home and doing nothing. Not to mention, he treated her like she was normal. Better yet, they looked normal.
“Tarot's friend had the right idea with this kind of help then.” Jon nodded. “I hope we can have a good time.”
Once again there was a slight pang of guilt in the back of Snow's mind. This was not how Jon was supposed to be, and he had went out and changed himself just so he could make her happy. What did it matter though? Jon seemed happier as a cat anyway.
“Trust me, if we go to Summerhill, it will be fun.” Said Snow. “And for the record, you aren't a bad looking cat. Just careful with the tail wagging. That kind of thing means something different to cats.”
Jon blushed and made a conscious effort to stop his tail from moving. He held his thumb up and nodded, a smile on his lips. The dog looked down at his neck and saw the little tacky charm dangling in front of his collar. He could not believe what was happening. Snow was acting so much more different.
She was not as grouchy now, nor did she seem to insult his intelligence as often. In fact she almost seemed to be flirting with him in a way. Maybe he was just reading way too far into what she was saying. Reading too far or not, she had eased up her attitude.
In her mind she did not have to care what others thought. To them she would be with a cat. The added benefit? She would never admit it to anyone, including herself, but she had liked him a bit before. It was unfortunate that fear was always a deciding factor. Fear of dogs, fear of what others might think, fear of falling head-over-heels, fear that Jon might just be rebounding.
While not all of her fears had disappeared that evening, she was still happy to feel a load lifted from her shoulders. She found herself catching glimpses, but not trying to stare. Little by little the charm was working its magic on them both.
Jon looked up for a moment. A strange feeling had overcome him. Were there any side effects perhaps? He really did not think so. Why was he wearing the charm again? He paused for a moment to think, of course, he was really a dog. A dog with a magic charm necklace that fixed his problems with Snow in one fell swoop. He was most definitely a dog for real.
Welp there's another chapter done. Sorry this is so slow going. I'm almost to a point where the writing and the story picks up further, so you might expect faster updates. Then again, I haven't been all that reliable lately have I?