Hey, guys. Here's the latest chapter of "Stacy: The New Dog on the Block". Originally, I was going to introduce nearly the whole gang of Housepets as well as few of my OCs, but I decided to do that in the next chapter. In this chapter, Stacy will warm up to Brian and Ian, and learn (the hard way) a thing or two about Janet. And Stacy finally meets Peanut and Tarot. At least I didn't change that part. Enjoy.
Ch. 4 Change of Plans
Stacy stirred slowly before opening her eyes. At first she was surprised to find herself wrapped in a warm blanket and lying on a comfortable bed instead trying to keep herself warm in a cardboard box or (as the stereotypical 1940s' cartoons would point out) in a garbage can. It took a few seconds to recall what had happened yesterday. Stacy laid her head back down on her pillow and let out a calm, refreshing sigh. The black and white canine still found it hard to believe that she (literally) ran into a nice, caring young human boy who not only got her out of a tight situation, but also offered her a place to call home.
Stacy let the memories of last night played back in her head.
She remembered she was timid and hesitant at first when Brian warned her that his family wasn't fond of animals, save for his little brother, Ian. And when Brian's parents confronted him irrationally about bringing home a stray animal, Stacy immediately regretted stepping inside the threshold. But then to her surprise Brian had stood up to his parents and tried to reason with them; then finally his folks gave him the okay to let him keep her - with certain rules for the two of them to follow, of course. Stacy was amazed how her new human friend stood up for her. It had felt like ages that anyone had did that for her not once, but twice!
Stacy then shifted to the memories she was happy with.
Her new owner (since it was now official) had just returned to his room, where she was watching her favorite movie Balto, after cleaning the shower floor for his older sister, Janet. Stacy felt a little flustered that it was because of her washed-out fur that made Brian do that, but Brian didn't mind cleaning it since it was part of his responsibility of taking care of her. It was around the middle of the film when Brian walked in. He sat on the edge of his bed and went on watching the rest of the movie.
When the film was finally over, Brian had caught Stacy wiping a tear out of her left eye.
"What's wrong, Stacy?" He asked in concern.
"Huh?" Stacy said, looking at him as she continued to wipe her tears away. "Oh, nothing. It's just that...I always get a little teary at the end of Balto. It delivers such a powerful message to me: 'No matter who or what you are, you can accomplish anything if you just believe'."
Brian cocked an eyebrow, dumbfounded.
"I feel the same way, too," He said with slight pride and exciment in his voice.
"Really!?" Stacy asked dumbfounded.
"Yeah," Brian replied. "From the moment I first saw Balto, I felt that I can do anything if I just set my mind to it. It doesn't matter what blood you carry or - in your case - what pedigree you have, it'll work out if you try."
Stacy was taken aback by her owner/friend's words. She had never heard anyone, let alone a human share their same feelings of her favorite movie as her. She couldn't help but smile at him.
After Brian put the DVD back in its case and placed in its shelf, there was a knock on the door and then Ian walked in.
"Hey, guys," He greeted.
"Hi, Ian," Brian and Stacy replied in unison.
"I called my friends and told them about Stacy," Ian informed. "They're glad to hear that we finally got ourselves a pet. They even asked if we're gonna take her to the park to play, tomorrow. Are we gonna do that, Brian?"
"Well, since tomorrow's Saturday and it's my day off from work, I guess it's a good idea to take Stacy out there so she could get to see the neighborhood's pets," He replied, then looked at Stacy. "That is, of course, if you're up to it."
Stacy smiled at him, appreciating him wanting to hear her feelings toward their plans.
"I'd like that very much, Brian."
Brian smiled back.
"Oh," Ian said out loud. "I almost forgot."
He left the room and came back fifteen seconds later with an old, warn out tennis ball in his right hand.
"This is for you, Stacy," He said, handing the ball to the black and white canine. "Maybe tomorrow we could play catch with it."
The delighted house pet happily took the ball and embraced Ian, squealing like a schoolgirl.
"Thank you so much, Ian. And of course I'd love to play catch with you and Brian."
"Uh, don't mention it," Ian said, returning the hug.
After that they decided to play Super Smash Brothers Brawl on the Nintendo Wii. Stacy had never played a video game on the Wii before so she was puzzled and nervous at first, but Brian and Ian said they'd help her get the hang of it. She was glad that they could still use the Nintendo GameCube controllers instead of the Wiimotes to play the game. She was no stranger to the Super Smash Brothers series; so that would be easy for her.
"Okay, what should we do?" Ian asked. "Should we battle eachother? Play the Adventure Mode? Or uh...can you think of anything else, guys?"
"I think we should let Stacy decide," Brian stated, looking at his dog.
"Me?" Stacy asked. "You sure you want me to decide?"
"Yes, I'm sure," Brian said. "It's your first day as our pet. We wanna make sure you're comfortable here as possible."
Stacy tried desperately to hide her bashfulness, but her white furry cheeks were making it hard to hide the burning redness.
"Well...how about we battle?" she suggested. "I've never played this Super Smash Brothers game before; so I don't know what other stuff it has besides that."
Brian nodded in understanding.
"Alright, battling eachother it is."
They selected "Classic Mode", chose their fighting character, chose a battle stage, and then they began brawling. Stacy chose Luigi, her absolute favorite character; Brian chose his favorite fighter and Pokémon, Lucario; and Ian chose his favorite, Fox McCloud.
The trio pounded their thumbs on the controllers' buttons continuously as each of their fighters were pounding eachother viciously. Brian's Lucario was desperately trying to keep up with Ian's Fox as he was too keen and fast for Brian's slow fighter. Stacy's Luigi was able to keep up with Ian's character and delivered some good punches to the space vulpine. Suddenly, a Smash Ball appeared and floated lazily up on the screen. Ian had his fighter sprint and jump to the Smash Ball.
"Quick, Stacy, don't let Ian break that Smash Ball!" Brian cried out as he frantically tried to get his Lucario fighter to break it before his brother's fighter does. "If he breaks it, we're both doomed!"
"Why?" Stacy asked, puzzled. "What happens if he breaks it?"
As if to answer her question, Ian's fighter had triumphantly destroyed the Smash Ball before Brian's fighter could. The space fox began glowing yellow aura all over his body.
"You guys better say your prayers now!" Ian said, laughing maniacally.
Fox McCloud had cried out "LANDMASTER!", jumped out screen, and then came back down with a giant high-advanced space tank. Ian made the Landmaster fire its laser cannon constantly hitting and heavily damaging Brian's fighter; before long the poor Fighting/Steel Pokémon was wiped out. Brian was out of the game.
"You're a horrible little person, you know that, Ian?" Brian said with mock venom in his voice, tossing his controller.
Ian answered by maniacally laughing like a villain from the classic Saturday Morning cartoons. Meanwhile, Stacy's favorite green plumber was desperately trying to get away from the monstrous tank while trying to grab whatever he could get his hands on to stop that armored vehicle.
"It's no use, Stacy," Brian said. "Once that psychopath's fighter is in that Landmaster, there's nothing you could do except avoid that thing till it disappears."
"He's right," Ian beamed. "But the question is, Stacy - can you survive long until this baby disappears?!"
Luigi was still jumping from Fox's laser attacks until Stacy made up her mind to have her fighter jump on top of the tank.
"Bad idea!" Brian and Ian exclaimed in unison.
The Landmaster then hovered Luigi up to the top of the screen, which he disappeared and then an echo cry of despair was heard when they saw Luigi flying away in the background. The match was over. Fox McCloud was proudly gloating at the "audience" while Lucario and Luigi were begrudgingly clapping in the background.
Ian jumped from his seat, shouting, "WOOO-HOOO!"
Brian shook his head in irritation and frustration. He just couldn't beat his little brother if his life depended on it. Stacy, however, simply clapped.
"Congratulations, Ian," She said happily. "That was very impressive. You're a true Super Smash Brothers fighter."
"...Thanks," Ian said, dumbfounded; no one he beaten had ever congratulated him before.
"I watched your techniques and movements your fighter does," Stacy commented. "I gotta say - you're a natural."
"Years of practice, Stacy," Ian said, proudly. "I've been playing the Super Smash Brothers games since the first one for the Nintendo 64 came out. I used to ask Brian constantly if he wanted to play, but he'd always say no."
He looked at Brian who was rolling his eyes.
"Bet you wish you could take back what you said and played with me so you could've gotten better, huh?" He taunted.
"Whatever," Brian simply replied, looking away.
Stacy giggled. She knew they were just messing with eachother. Her fondness of them had grown a lot more now.
Ian and Stacy decided to battle eachother again; Brian was done playing and was lying on his bed watching them go at it with eachother.
"Oh, Brian," Ian said while he was playing. "Did you hear that there's gonna be another Pridelands book coming out soon?"
"Of course I did," Brian replied as if that was an obvious question. "How long have you known me again?"
"There is?" Stacy asked, trying to hide her excitement.
"Yeah! It's supposed to come out in December, two months from now," Brian replied.
"Yay!" Stacy cheered. "More Pridelands!"
"You like the Pridelands books?" Ian asked, taking his eyes off the game.
Stacy felt her cheeks burning again.
"...Yeah...I do," She replied embarrassingly as she looked away from Ian. "I love the Pridelands books. I know I'm a dog and all, but I just love the Pridelands to death."
"Hey, don't sweat it, Stacy," Ian reassured her. "You're not the first dog I met who loves Pridelands. And besides, I love the Pridelands too."
"You do?" Stacy asked, surprised.
"Sure," Ian replied. "I've been a huge fan of the series for a while now."
"Yeah, thanks to me," Brian added, smirking at his little brother.
Ian acted as though he didn't hear him.
"What do you mean, Brian?" Stacy asked curiously.
"You see, Stacy, a few years back Ian used to hate the Pridelands books and the movies," Brian explained. "He couldn't understand why anyone besides cats would enjoy reading stories about 'cat people' as he called them. He used to laugh at me for even reading the books. He'd mess with me everytime he saw me reading by saying, 'kitty-kitty, meow-meow; kitty-kitty, meow-meow'.
"But I finally got the last laugh: Back when we moved here last year, when we started school, Ian's term required that he'd bring a book to school to read for twenty minutes every school day. At that time, Ian wasn't really into books, so he didn't know what book to bring to school. Mom's books were nothing but those cheesy romance novels she'd buy at the supermarket. Dad's only 'books' were of women showing off cars or some other stuff. Janet...let's just say that she only reads magazines that most boys wouldn't be caught dead reading.
"So Ian had to look at my bookcase and chose to grab book number one of Pridelands because it was the reading level the school required and he doesn't care much for my other fantasy novels. I asked him what he thought of the book when he came home from school, and he just shrugged and said, 'It's alright'. But a few weeks later I caught Ian reading book number two of Pridelands up in the attic. He knew he couldn't keep it from me any longer; so he confessed to me that he loves Pridelands and wants to read them all."
Stacy was on the floor laughing, holding onto her stomach as she tried to breathe. Ian blushed furiously.
"Okay, okay, it wasn't that funny," He said, fighting hard to get his blood flowing normally again.
"I-I'm sorry, Ian," Stacy said, sitting up and trying to calm down. "It's just that I knew you'd fall victim to its awesomeness. I knew a couple of stronger dogs have tried, but as soon as they open the book, it's like something magical had grabbed hold onto their souls and had purify them somehow."
Brian and Ian looked at eachother, puzzlement and confusion was on their faces, clear as day. Stacy saw them and now she was blushing.
"Sorry," She said in a low voice, somewhat shameful. "Sometimes I get a little carried away."
"Oh, don't worry about it," Brian said. "Anyway, in two months from now book number eight will finally be out."
"I can't wait," Ian said happily.
"I still need to read books three through seven before I could read that," Stacy informed.
"Well, two months is a long time," Brian stated. "You should be able to read a couple of them before then. I have every copy, you know."
They went back to playing their game while talking about Pridelands: they ranted on about their favorite characters, their favorite parts in the books, trivia facts they know about the author, Miss Auburn. They just kept going and going.
"I looked up Miss Auburn the other day and it says that she's a cat lover - no surprise there, of course," Ian explained. "She has one cat, though. A rescue name Res. According to Wikipedia, Res is very shy, quiet cat and is very timid when it comes to strangers - human or animal."
"Wow," Brian said. "That's too bad."
"Yeah, in fact, the only picture they got of Res was when he was typing away on his laptop," Ian said.
"Meaning that his picture was taken without him knowing?" Stacy asked.
"Pretty much," Ian said. "To this day, he's still yet to do an interview about his life with Miss Auburn and all that."
"I always find it kinda sad when somebody doesn't know how express themselves," Stacy said. "It makes me wish I could help them somehow."
"Well, Stacy - some people can do it, some people can't," Brian stated. "Some of them have to stand up and do it themselves."
"I know, Brian," Stacy sighed. "It's just a part of me wants to help those who don't know how to help themselves. I mean, they could find some very good friends if they tried talking to them, but they might never get the chance if they don't speak up for themselves. I know if I didn't speak up to you, I wouldn't have a home or met two of the greatest friends I've ever had."
Brian put his left arm around her shoulder and brought her closer to him. Stacy nuzzled her best friend's cheek.
"You're a good dog, you know that?" Brian asked, kissing her forehead.
"I try," Stacy replied, licking his cheek.
"Hey! Don't I get a hug?" Ian asked in mock pouting.
Stacy went and hugged him and licked his cheek.
"There, much better," Ian said, scratching Stacy behind her ear.
Then they went back to their game again.
"Hey, guys," Ian spoke. "I was wondering - what if Miss Auburn didn't actually write Pridelands, but her cat Res did and she's just saying she wrote so it could be published? Or what if Miss Auburn doesn't even exist; she's actually a robot Res made so he could publish all his work? Or..."
"You better get used to this, Stacy," Brian whispered in his dog's ear. "He does this kind of thing all the time."
Stacy quietly laughed at last night's memories. She couldn't believe it. She was actually happy for the first time in a long time. Being with Brian and Ian in only a couple of hours and it was the time of her life!
With only being with them for a few short hours was fun, I can't wait to spend the whole day with them!She thought.
She pulled off her covers and jumped down from the bunk-bed. She shook herself, stretched, yawned, and then turned around. Brian was still sleeping soundly on the lower bunk. She smiled softly and went down to her knees and placed her arms on the edge of his bed with her head on top of them. She simply eyed her human friend fondly.
"He's cute when he's sleeping," She whispered quietly; then was immediately surprised of what came out of her mouth.
Brian stirred in his sleep and then slowly opened his eyes. He nearly jumped out of his bed when he saw his new dog's face up close.
"Stacy?" He said, trying the hide the surprised tone.
"Good morning, Brian," Stacy said, giggling. "I didn't mean to get you excited."
"Right," Brian said, calming down. "I'm still trying to get used to the fact that I actually have a house pet."
"Anyway, good morning to you too," Brian said. "How long have you been up?"
"Oh, for about ten minutes," Stacy answered. "I guess you could say that I too am trying to get used to the fact that I am a house pet again."
Brian chuckled and removed the covers off of him and got out of his bed. He looked at his clock and saw that it was 9:05 AM. Brian then looked out the window and saw that it was a bright, sunny Saturday morning. Perfect for him, Ian, and Stacy to go to the park today. Stacy got up and watched her new owner, happily waiting to hear what their plans for today were. As if to have a start on the agenda, both human and dog's belly rumbled softly.
Both of them chuckled.
"Let's head downstairs," Brian said. "My mom should be making breakfast right about now."
"Good idea," Stacy said, rubbing her stomach. "It's been so long that I had a decent breakfast I've forgotten what it tastes like."
They left the room, went downstairs and walked into the kitchen. Ian and Frank were already sitting at the table enjoying their breakfast, while Joan was in front of the stove busy scrambling eggs. Brian had assumed Janet had already eaten and was in the bathroom, getting ready for work. Ian was still in his PJs and Frank was already dressed in his business suit with his suitcase sitting close to his chair.
"Good morning, everyone," Stacy greeted happily.
"Good morning, Stacy," Ian replied.
"Morning," Frank muttered, not taking his eyes off his waffles.
"Good morning," Joan replied, eyeing Brian and Stacy. "I've just started cooking for the two of you. We're having waffles, bacon, eggs, buttered toasts, and hash browns."
Stacy couldn't help but lick her lips from hearing that. It felt like another lifetime since she had ever heard of those meals.
"Please sit down, you two," Joan politely told them. "It's almost done."
Brian sat down at the table and Stacy sat down on the old newspapers close by. When it was finished, Joan handed Brian his plate of food to him, and then handed a bowl of food to Stacy. Then the duo stuffed their faces like there was no tomorrow.
"Hey, hey, you two, take it easy," Joan said, sitting down. "The food's not going anywhere."
Brian and Stacy chuckled at eachother and then once again began eating but in a slower pace.
Frank looked at his watch and quietly cursed to himself.
"I gotta go," He stated, getting up from his seat. "Mr. McHale wants to see the plans for the new houses in thirty minutes."
He grabbed his briefcase, gave his wife a quick peck on the cheek, waved and said goodbye to his sons, gave a quick stern "be-good" look to Stacy, and ran out the front door.
"Where's Mr. Edwards going?" Stacy asked curiously.
"Dad's off to work," Brian replied. "He's an architect. He makes plans for houses and office buildings and such. Anyway, he's been working on a big project for his boss, Mr. McHale, for months now. Now today's the day Dad finally shows it to him."
"And let's hope he likes it, boys," Joan added in. "Your father said if Mr. McHale likes the plans, it'd be a giant step on your father's career. So keep your fingers cross."
Everybody crossed their fingers, including Stacy. She still didn't know what was going on, but she wanted to prove to Frank that she supported him in whatever he was doing. In the middle of their breakfast (Stacy happily rubbed her full belly as she worked on her eggs), the phone rang in the living room. Joan got up and went to go answer it.
"Okay, guys," Brian spoke up from the table. "I was thinking on what we should do today. First -"
"Ian," Joan interjected as she walked back into the kitchen with the phone in her hand. "Your friend, Mitch, is on the phone."
Ian got up and grabbed the phone from his mother and went into the living room. Brian and Stacy waited till Ian returned before discussing their plans for today. Ten minutes later, Ian came back into the kitchen.
"Guys, Mitch is asking me if I could go with him and his family to Theme Park World today," He informed. "His dad managed to get a good deal on tickets and they got an extra one. And plus, Mitch said he doesn't wanna go without me."
"If you want to go, Ian," Joan said. "It's fine with me."
Ian looked at Brian and Stacy, waiting to hear what they thought he should do. Brian and Stacy looked at eachother. Stacy expressed an "it's-okay-by-me" look. Brian then looked at his little brother.
"Good ahead, buddy," He said. "If you wanna go, don't make us stop you."
"Are you good with this, Stacy?" Ian asked.
"Ian, I'm happy that you're thinking of me, but Brian's right," She stated. "We'll have plenty of time to play with eachother in the future. Go. Have a wonderful time with your friend."
Ian smiled at her.
"You are a good dog," He said. "I'll make it up to you. I promise."
And then he went back into the living room to give the okay to his friend. After that, they saw him walk back to the table to finish the last bits of his food, and then he headed upstairs to get ready. Stacy looked back at Brian.
"It looks like it's just the two of us," she smiled.
"Yeah, it sure does," He said. "Well, let's finish eating, and then we'll be on our way, girl."
Stacy smiled and giddied as her tail wagged swiftly. She couldn't wait to actually play with her new owner at the park.
Joan was finish with her breakfast. She then grabbed her husband and youngest son's plates from the table and went to the sink to wash them.
"This is perfect for everybody," She spoke out as she washed. "With you guys out of the house, I could get some cleaning done."
Brian looked at Stacy.
"In that case, we defiantly gotta leave," He said after swallowing his toast. "Whenever my mom's cleaning, she can be a bit...off edge. She'd throw a very big fit if we drop a crumb somewhere she already cleaned."
"Well, let's not do anything to ruin her mood," She said.
Brian smiled. Every minute he had spent with his new dog, the more he liked her.
A second later Janet came down the stairs and walked into the kitchen and sat at the kitchen table. She was wearing black jeans, a black T-shirt with a nametag saying, Hi, I'm JANET E. Here for your stylin' needs pinned on to the left side of it and her long red hair tied in a ponytail. This was her work uniform. The older sibling was smiling and giggling on her cell phone, which was pretty much her lifeline. Like any 19-year-old girl, Janet wouldn't go anywhere without it.
"No, I love you more!" She said continuously on the phone like a schoolgirl. "No, I love you more!"
Brian rolled his eyes all the while Stacy simply watched Janet in puzzlement and confusion. It got her thinking back to last night when Janet walked in and began dancing like she was a fairy princess.
"She's talking to her boyfriend, Travis," Brian answered Stacy's unasked question. "Janet always gets that way when she even thinks about him. They met when Travis came to Janet's salon, asking for a trim. According to Janet, it was love at first sight for those two."
"What's he like?" Stacy asked curiously.
"I only met him briefly a couple times," Brian replied. "He seems cool. He goes to the same college my sister does, so they always carpool with eachother. Apparently, he's a great guy to her, due to the fact he has a dog."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, normally, Janet wouldn't dare go out any guy who has pets, but obviously, Travis must be really special to her to make an exception."
As Janet continued to "express" her feelings over her phone, Joan finished cleaning her last dish when the phone rang again. She went to go answer it and then brought it upstairs with her. Brian and Stacy remained in the kitchen, listening to Janet discussing their plans for their next date as they try to finish their meal.
"Yeah, that's right, sweetie," They heard her say on the phone. "I'm off from work tomorrow, and I was wondering if we should go out somewhere?" A brief pause. "I don't know. What do you think?" Another brief pause. "The park? Oh, that sounds romant - oh, and bring Sammy with us?" Her happy tone of voice turned into disappointment at that last sentence. "...Well, you see, Travis sweetie, I was hoping it'd be just only the two of us." Another brief pause. "Well, doesn't Sammy have any friends to hang out with?" Another brief pause. "Oh, I see." She rolled her eyes. "...Alright, I guess he could come with us." Another brief pause. "No problem. Love you, Travis. Bye."
She hanged up, and then let out a long, over-exaggerated sigh of irritation.
"I cannot believe that he wants to bring that stupid dog of his with us," Janet spoke out loud, getting up from her seat.
"Relationship problems, big sis?" Brian asked sarcastically.
"Shit! Travis wants to bring his mutt, Sammy, with us on our date, tomorrow," She stated, annoyingly. "He says that he and his dog haven't been spending much 'quality time' together lately, and he feels that we could all walk around the park, play fetch, eat ice cream, and some other idiotic crap with the dog."
"Maybe Travis does feel that he needs to spend as much time with his dog as he is with you," Brian pointed out.
Janet just simply rolled her eyes.
"I swear if Travis wasn't so cute and tender, I wouldn't have bothered falling for a dog lover," She said to herself.
"Maybe you should give him a chance," Stacy spoke out. "Who knows? You might like this Sammy. After all, it sounds like he's part of Travis' life as much as Travis is a part of yours."
Janet looked around the kitchen to find the source of the voice, and then it fell right on Stacy.
"Oh, it's you," She said with arrogance and disgust in her voice. "Listen here, you mutt. I don't know how you got Mom and Dad to let you stay here, but don't think you're part of this family. What I do with my love life is my business. So I'd appreciate if you don't stick your filthy nose in it. And another thing, since we're here, let go over a few of my rules: You will not come near me within ten feet! You will not come near any of my stuff! You will not talk to me for any reason! You will not go into my room for any reason! You will not -"
"All right, enough, Janet!" Brian yelled angrily. "Don't talk to her like that!"
Janet simply lifted her right hand in front of Brian's face without taking her eyes off Stacy.
"You will not talk about my boyfriend, Travis! And most important, you will not interfere with my life! Got it!?"
Stacy felt hot tears swelling in her eyes. She wanted to answer by biting the angry girl's nose off, but she gave a nod instead.
"Good!" Janet said. "Now, if you don't mind, I gotta get to work. God, it was bad enough that I have to see you filthy baboons outside and at work. The last place I wanted to see them was in this house."
Janet walked to the living room and grabbed her purse from off the counter.
"J.J. would've never talk to Stacy like that," Brian yelled out to Janet; whatever little respect he had for his sister was gone now. "She would've treated her with respect. Whatever happened to J.J. anyway? There hasn't been a day that I don't miss her."
Janet stopped as she was about to reach the front door. She sighed and turned around to face Brian in the kitchen.
"J.J.'s gone, little brother," Janet stated simply. "She did what everybody else did: she grew up. And as your older sister I highly suggest you do the same if you want to survive this cold, heartless world of ours."
And then she turned around and walked out the door.
Brian stared at the front for a minute. Those last few sentences Janet had told him replayed in his head over and over again.
What the helldid she mean by that? He thought.
He then turned his attention to Stacy who was slightly sobbing.
"...I'm really sorry about that," He said, trying desperately to find the right words comfort her. "She had no right to talk to you like that."
"I-I don't understand," Stacy said a low voice, wiping her tears. "I didn't do anything to her, and she acted as though I did."
"You didn't do anything wrong, Stacy," Brian said. "Janet's just...a real bitch - excuse the term - when it comes to animals."
He gave Stacy his napkin so she could dry her tears.
"She didn't used to be this way, though," He spoke out. "She used to love animals as much as Ian and I do. But once she entered the sixth grade in junior high school, Janet just...became a different person. Sometimes, I don't know who she is anymore..."
Sympathy flashed in Stacy's eyes.
"...Brian...who's J.J.?" Stacy asked curiously, getting all her tears off.
"J.J. was actually a nickname I used to call Janet back in the day," Brian replied. "Her full name is Janet Joyce Edwards - that's where J.J. came from, her first and middle initials. It started when my folks used to call her J.J when we were kids. Soon I picked up the habit of calling her J.J. We used to get along and play together all the time. Those were only memories I have of her being good to everybody - human and animal. Anyway, forget about her. Today's the day I show everybody I finally have a pet of my own, and you and I are gonna have lots of fun."
Stacy smiled at her owner. Her sadness was disappearing entirely.
"I know we are," She said proudly.
"That's my girl," He smiled, getting up from his chair. "But before we go, let me go and get dress."
Peanut and Tarot walked across the street from Peanut's house to the Edwards house. Peanut was very eager to meet Brian's new pet dog. He always liked introducing himself to new faces and was eager to be their friend. Tarot was with Peanut simply because he invited her. Thanks to her psychic powers, she already knew everything about the new dog and her five owners (or more like two owners).
"I hope she likes books and games," Peanut beamed.
"She does," Tarot stated as if asked about the weather. "She likes fantasy, romance, sci-fi, Super Mario - oh, and she loves the Pridelands."
Peanut smile grew wider, displaying his whole set of teeth.
"Yes!" Peanut cheered. "I knew I'd meet another dog who loves Pridelands! Brian has found the right dog if you ask me!"
"Yes, but his sister is quite upset that there's a dog living in the residence," Tarot mentioned. "Speaking of which, there she is now."
The canine couple saw Janet leaving the house with her shades on and walking to the driveway. She pulled out her car keys for her 2007 black BMW 335i out of her purse when she saw Peanut and Tarot walking onto the curb.
Oh great,She thought irritably. It's him again. And it looks like he brought a friend with him this time. What the hell does he want now?
"Good morning, Janet!" Peanut greeted happily, waving at her.
Janet made a quick, so-called "wave" before opening her car door and getting in. Tarot showed an angry look at Janet for making such a rude thought and response to her boyfriend. However, Peanut didn't see it. The canine couple walked to her car as the engine roared to life. Peanut lightly tapped on the window to get Janet's attention. Janet looked at the two animated dogs and then reluctantly rolled down the window.
"Grape and I saw Brian bringing a dog to your home, yesterday," Peanut said. "And my girlfriend Tarot and I came over to meet her."
"Yeah, Brian brought home a dog," Janet quickly responded, avoiding their gazes. "She and Brian are in the house if you want to meet her. Now, if you both don't mind, I'm late for work."
Tarot snorted. The grouchy human had plenty of time to get to work. She just didn't want anything to do with them for a personal reason - one that Janet never told anyone until Tarot read her mind. Also, Tarot knew about the "talk" Janet gave to Stacy.
"You had no right to talk to Stacy like that, Janet Edwards," Tarot spoke out.
Janet stared at the mystical Pomeranian with her mouth slightly open in utter shock. Peanut stared at Tarot too.
"All Stacy did was try to help you see things through your boyfriend's eyes. She was also trying to be your friend, but you let your past get in the way like you always do when you see an animal, and you yell at her for it," Tarot continued. "Hiding your fear with irrational anger will solve nothing. It'll only lead to pain and despair not only to others, but to yourself."
Janet felt her anger growing when she heard that.
"Who the hell do you think you are, dog!?" She yelled, showing her true colors to the canine couple. "And how the hell do you - you know what, forget it! Both of you get away from my car before you're road kill!"
Peanut and Tarot took a few steps back. Janet then pulled out of the driveway and then sped off. Peanut growled.
"What's got her all chained up?" He asked angrily.
"Don't let her get to you, Peanut," Tarot said. "She's been through a traumatic experience when she was young. But worry not, love. In a few months Janet will learn her lesson by some excellent teachers."
"You know when exactly she'll learn her lesson, don't you?" Peanut asked.
"And you're not gonna tell me?"
Tarot shook her head.
"I'm sorry, dear," She said. "I'm not at liberty to say. You'll just have to be patient. In the meantime, let us go say greet our new friend. She needs some cheering up right now."
Stacy waited patiently in the living room for Brian to change into his outdoor clothes. She occupied her time by chewing on her new tennis ball. She was feeling very anxious to go to the park to play with her best friend. Soon the door bell rang. Stacy spitted out her ball.
"I'll get it!" She cried out.
She walked to the front door and opened it.
"Hello," She greeted the two dogs that were at the front door.
"Hi," said a male brown dog wearing a red collar with a bone-shaped dog tag. "I'm Peanut! And this is my girlfriend, Tarot."
A shorter female dog wearing a green collar with an eye of Ra-shaped dog tag waved at Stacy in greetings.
"I live across the street, and I saw you walking with Brian yesterday, which means he finally has a house pet of own," Peanut explained. "So today I felt that I should come over and say, Welcome to the neighborhood!"
"Well, thank you, Peanut," Stacy beamed. "I appreciate the welcome. I'm Stacy, by the way."
Stacy held out her paw for Peanut, but instead of taking it, Peanut hugged her. Stacy was surprised at first, but soon returned the embrace.
"Sorry, I like to hug," Peanut said after they released. "Besides, Tarot said you needed it."
Stacy cocked a brow in confusion.
"It's true," Tarot spoke out for the first time. "I know hugs always make you feel better, especially after what Janet Edwards said to you."
Stacy was dumbfounded. How could these complete strangers know that she liked hugs, let alone know about her situation with Janet? Peanut recognized that bewilderment look on Stacy's face immediately.
"Oh, I forgot to mention that Tarot's a psychic medium," He explained.
Stacy raised both of her brows in utter shock and amazement.
"Don't worry. I'm a peacekeeper," Tarot reassured her. "I never use my powers for evil purposes."
"Well...that's good news," Stacy said, scratching the back of her neck.
"Oh, and by the way, Stacy," Tarot said, putter her paw on the black and white canine's shoulder. "Rebecca is very happy that you finally found a home. She was ashamed of herself for passing on like that, and that you had to make it on your own at such a young age. But she was always proud that you always try to make the right choices, aside from stealing that cooked chicken, and the...well you know the rest. Anyway, she wants me to tell you that she loves you very much, and that she'll always be watching you."
Stacy felt another set of hot tears rolling down her furry cheek. She gave Tarot a tight embrace and wept.
"Thank you for telling me that, Tarot," She said, sobbing. "You don't know how much that means to me. I miss my mom so much!"
"Actually, I do, Stacy," Tarot said after they let go. "But I'm glad to have helped. And you picked the right home here: Brian and Ian will take good care of you. They are good humans. As for Frank and Joan, give them time. Eventually they'll warm up to you."
"What about Janet?" Stacy asked wiping her eyes. "Will she ever like me?"
"Ah, the spirits have something planned for her," Tarot replied with a wink. "Let's just say in a few months, the old saying, 'What goes around comes around' will bite her in the butt hard."
Stacy chuckled. She'd be counting the days for that.
"Hey, Stacy," Brian called out, walking towards the front door now fully dressed. "Who's at the door?"
"Brian!" Peanut cried out.
"Peanut!" Brian said.
The human and dog embraced eachother, rubbing eachother's back.
"How you been, buddy?" Brian asked, petting Peanut's head.
"Great!" Peanut beamed. "Just wanted to say hi to your new pet."
"How'd you know I got a new pet?" Brian asked.
"I saw Stacy following you home yesterday, silly," Peanut replied. "I showed Grape, and she's happy that you finally got a pet of your own."
"Speaking of which, where is that sleepy cat?" He asked.
"She's with her boyfriend, Maxwell," Peanut replied. "They're off somewhere probably smooching and then arguing about something as usual."
"Well, thanks a lot for coming, bud," He said, then looked at Tarot's direction. "Oh, and who might this be?"
"My name is Tarot," The Pomeranian introduced herself. "Part-time psychic medium and Peanut's girlfriend."
"Psychic, huh?" Brian said with a hint of doubt in his tone. "Well, no offence, but I really don't believe in -"
"When you were five years old, you had an imaginary pet," Tarot cut in. "A Dalmatian you named Spotty and you'd play with him in your back yard all the time, and you tried to get your parents to play hide and seek with 'the two of you'. In the fifth grade, on Valentine's Day, a former classmate named Jessica Hawthorn had a big crush on you, and confessed it to you at lunchtime by singing her cover of Whitney Houston's 'I Will Always Love You' in front of the whole cafeteria, at which you were so surprised and embarrassed that you squirted milk out of your nose. And when you were at the mall a few months ago you bent down to -"
"Okay, okay, I believe you, I believe you!" Brian exclaimed; his face flushed crimson. "Psychics are real! Jeez!"
"Forgive me, Brian, but the only way to get non-believers to believe is to reveal their most tight-lipped secrets," She said.
"...Well, could you have done it without the non-believer's friends around?" He asked sorely, pointing at Brian and Stacy.
The two animated canines were on the floor, laughing their tails off. Brian felt himself glowing red as a tomato at the scene.
"It's good to see you guys are getting a good laugh at this," He said sarcastically.
Stacy and Peanut got back up, trying to catch their breaths and wiping away their tears of laughter.
"We're sorry, Brian," Stacy said, still chuckling. "We know...we shouldn't...but..."
"Always remember," Peanut said; his laughing hadn't ceased. "That no matter what you think of us, we will always love you!"
The two dogs went back to their laughter, with Tarot joining them. Brian meanwhile was sweating bullets all the while images of him strangling Tarot for exposing three of his embarrassing moments floated in his mind.
"Alright," Tarot said, regaining herself. "Brian, please remember I could read your thoughts, and I'm reading them right now. But for revealing your secrets in front of Stacy and Peanut, I'll let this one slide. However, in the future you will be so kind to not display such graphic images such as the ones you were thinking in my presence again, for there'll be consequences if you do. Very big consequences."
Stacy and Peanut regain themselves when hearing that.
"I'd listen to her, Brian," Peanut warned. "She means it."
"Okay, I'm sorry for that, Tarot," Brian sighed.
"I apologize as well, Brain," Tarot smiled.
"Ditto," Peanut said to Brian.
"Me too," Stacy said, hugging her human friend and gave him a quick lick on the cheek.
"Alright, let bygones be bygones already," He said in his cheerful tone. "I'm sure you guys know what Stacy and I are doing today; and since you guys are here, you wanna join us?"
"You bet!" Peanut beamed.
"I'm afraid that's not possible, Brian," Tarot said sadly.
"What do you mean, Tarot?" Peanut asked. "Don't you want to join them?"
"Of course I do, sweetheart, but in a matter of seconds, a phone call will make Brian not join us," Tarot explained.
Before anybody could ask, they heard the phone ringing in the living room. Brian reluctantly walked back into the living room and grabbed the phone from its receiver and answered it.
"Hello?" He asked.
"What's up, buddy?" came a familiar voice on the other line. "It's me, Rob."
"Oh, hey, what's up, boss?" Brian asked.
"Listen, Brian, I'd really like you to come in today," Rob explained. "Wesley called in and said he got a broken leg from playing soccer, so he can't make it in, obviously. Anyway, I was hoping there's a slight chance you'd take his place."
"Oh, I really don't know, Rob," Brian said, eyeing his three canine pals who were still at the front door. "I was looking forward to hanging out with my friends at the park today."
"I'd really appreciate it if you come in, buddy," Rob said. "I'm sorry for bothering you on your day off, but we're really getting busy here at the moment. I called the others, but they're either busy or out somewhere. You're the only one left."
"But...how about Roland?" Brian asked, hoping that be good enough for him to not come in today. "He's always there, never misses a day, and he knows the whole store like the back of his...paw."
"You know I personally wouldn't have a problem with Roland filling in for Wesley," Rob explained. "We both know he's more than capable for it, Brian. But the customers are still not used to his...'presence' yet."
"Well, they need to get to know him already," Brian said. "Roland's a real swell guy. Everyone needs to know that"
"You're absolutely right, Brian, but not today," Rob said. "Please, Brian, can you come in? You're our only hope."
Brian looked back at his three waiting friends yet again, who in turn looked back at him. He sighed.
"Can you give me a minute, please?" Brian asked his boss.
"Of course," Rob replied.
Brian set the phone down on the coffee table and walked back to Stacy, Peanut, and Tarot. He stared at his new pet with down eyes.
"Stacy, my boss wants me to come in to work today," Brian reluctantly explained. "One of my coworkers broke his leg and can't make it. So...my boss's asking me if I could take over his shift for today. He told me the place is jumping right now, but...I think you should choose. If you want me to take you to the park, I'll tell Rob that I'm not coming in today. Or if you're really okay with me going in work today, I'll do it - and Peanut and Tarot could take you to the park instead. Whether I'm going to work or the park depends entirely on you, Stacy."
"You want me to decide, Brian?" Stacy asked.
"Of course," Brian replied. "We planned on having fun today. And it wouldn't be fair that I just go to work and leave you here at home. So I feel that you should decide this. Whatever you wanna do is okay with me."
Stacy smiled at him with admiration. From the moment they had met, Brian had always put her first before everything else. Her love and respect for him as her owner had skyrocketed.
"I think you should go and help the people at your job today," She decided.
"Are you sure?" Brian asked.
"I'm positive, Brian," Stacy replied. "We'll have plenty of days of us going to the park. Right now, I think you should go to work and help your boss and coworkers."
Then she embraced him. Brian was confused for her action.
"Thank you for always thinking of me, Brian," Stacy said, nuzzling his chest.
"...Hey, don't mention it," Brian replied, returning the embrace. "It's my job as your owner to make sure you're happy."
Stacy's smile grew wider and then she licked his cheek. Peanut and Tarot smiled at the two of them.
"All right, I need to tell my boss the answer. And I'm gonna make this up to you later today, I promise," Brian said, letting go of Stacy, then he looked at Peanut and Tarot. "This might be a dumb question, but you guys don't mind taking care of Stacy while I'm gone, right?"
"Like we're gonna say we do mind?"
Brian smiled and shook his head. He knew he could rely on his canine pal.
"Worry not about Stacy, Brian," Tarot said. "We'll take good care of her in your absence. Besides, Stacy knows how to handle herself."
"Right," Brian said. "Okay, you guys have fun."
"Bye, Brian, have a good day at work," Stacy said before she and Peanut and Tarot left the house.
Brian then walked back into the living room and grabbed the phone.
"Yeah, I'm still here."
"Alright, I'll come in today."
"Splendid! Be here as soon as you can. I'll have Jethro explain everything to you when you come in."
"Thanks, Brian. You're a lifesaver."
"Don't mention it."
Brian then hanged up the phone and put it back on the receiver. He let out a sigh of annoyance as he walked up the stairs to change into his work uniform. He was actually looking forward to hanging out with Stacy, Peanut and Tarot today, but of course something had to come up and ruin it. When he reached the second floor, he saw Ian walking toward the stairs, now dressed and ready to go meet his friend.
"Hey, bro, what's going on?" Ian asked.
"My boss called and ask me to come to work today," Brian replied, scratching the back of his head.
"But what about Stacy?" Ian asked. "Aren't you and she supposed to be heading to the park?"
"I asked her if she wanted me to take her, but she said it was okay for me to go to work."
"So she's staying home with Mom?"
"No. Actually, she's going with Peanut and his girlfriend, Tarot."
"Oh, well that's good. At least she doesn't have to be cooped up at home while we're gone."
"Ain't it weird that we both plan on going to the park with Stacy, and yet something unexpected happens with the both of us where we can't go with her?"
"Tell me about it."