I stood, arms crossed, staring down at the puppy who’d occupied most of my thoughts for the last week and beyond. My pockets were filled with treats and I had a leash in case things started to get heated.
The puppy itself looked weary and tired. It was starting to get worryingly skinny, even though I know I’m not the only one feeding it from time to time. It looked up at me, tilting its head and swinging its tail as it recognized me. But there wasn’t much energy in the tail wagging.
“Here ya go.” I said, feeding it a treat. “You’re going to need the energy. We’re going for a trip!”
The pup swallowed the treat up and frantically licked the crumbs off my hand.
I cautiously brought my other hand…
And scooped him up!
Surprisingly there wasn’t much resistance. Guess he didn’t have the energy to fight back.
“Don’t worry bud, I won’t drop you or anything.” I petted his head and he licked my hand in response. “But I’d say goodbye to this place if I were you. I’m going to bring you to a good home, with a bed, and lots of food every day. And people with lots of love to give.”
I’d done it! …sort of.
I really couldn’t let this poor puppy at the riverside any longer so I went to talk to my parents again. And this time I had another idea. The owner of the puppy must’ve had parents or guardians right? They were probably missing this poor puppy.
Pa said it wasn’t even sure if the puppy was really the dead teen’s, and that I would just be causing more pain by going to knock at the family’s door. But I was pretty certain it was, and dad had a feeling it was too. So they agreed the puppy should be returned to its home. They even agreed to let me be the one to take the pup! On one condition.
I needed to bring someone along.
My friends weren’t really up for it. They didn’t want to deal with a grieving family. However, when Salandra heard me talking to Elvis she immediately asked if she could come along. I wasn’t going to say no, especially since I was starting to think I’d have to end up asking one of my parents to tag along.
“Poor thing looks like its starving.” Salandra said, leaning forwards and poking the pup’s nose. It yipped and tried to lick her face. “Aww he’s so cute!” She rubbed its little head.
He really was. I was still a little disappointed that I couldn’t keep him, but he deserved to be with his family. And most definitely not rotting outside where it was gradually getting colder and colder.
The pup’s house was surprisingly impressive. The puppy sniffed the air, but other than that he seemed content to stay in my arms.
Salandra went up the stairs in front of me and knocked on the door.
A slightly disheveled woman opened the door to welcome us.
“Hello ma’m. Sorry to bother you, we just came to drop this puppy off.” Salandra did the talking as I placed the pup down.
I gently pushed him towards the woman, but he thought I was playing with him and kept coming back.
“Why?” She asked, not even glancing at it.
“Um, well…” Salandra nervously glanced at the puppy. “We thought it belonged to the boy who…died.”
The woman snorted, looking up at the sky. “Yeah and he’s not here anymore.”
“But this little guy still is.” I cut in, a little peeved that she still hadn’t looked at the pup.
She finally did then, her mouth twitching. The puppy yipped.
I swear I saw her eyes tear up a little.
“I can’t take this puppy it’s not mine. He took it with him when he left us. It’s just as dead as he is. And I’ve made my peace with that.” The woman snapped.
The puppy rested its head on the ground.
“It’s not dead yet, but it would’ve been eventually if we’d left it by the riverside. Don’t you get it? This dog is still alive, and it just needs a home.” I countered harshly.
She bit her lip, apparently considering it. But we heard the faint sound of a toddler crying in the background and she shook her head. “It’s not mine. Drop it at the pound I don’t care.” She said, grabbing the door to shut it. I used my foot to block the door.
“What if I kept it? Can I keep it?” I asked, clearly and accusingly.
“Sure.” She said, biting her lip again and finally slamming the door when I took my foot away.
“Ugh some people just really piss me off.” I groaned. “What was wrong with that woman?”
“Some people don’t respond well to-” Salandra attempted to defend the woman, but her features twisted in annoyance as well. “I don’t know.” Glad to see we felt the same on the subject. Salandra looked up at the pup who was looking around the balcony, unsure of what to do. “Are you actually going to keep him?”
I shrugged. “It’s up to him.” I looked at the puppy, who looked back at me. “What do you say bud? Want to come live with me?”
The puppy yipped twice and ran up to the edge of the stairs, wagging his tail excitedly.
“I guess that’s a yes.” I laughed. And then it kind of struck me. “Oh shit, dad’s not going to be happy.”
Salandra chuckled and scratched the little pup’s chin.
Yeah so I decided to just jump into it. I mean, what happened happened, and I don’t think it’d be good for the puppy if I tried to keep it in secret. Where would I even keep it? Definitely not outside. It’s about to snow any time now.
And if dad and pa decided the pound was the best place for the little guy…well then I’d try my hardest to convince them otherwise.
I walked in the house, completely ready to fight and list out the whys and hows, when I noticed we had company.
It’s not uncommon for my parents to have friends over (aunt Erin is practically always here when I’m at school), but this particular visitor didn’t come often.
The woman who somehow brought Jesse into the world. Traz can pull up someone’s profile by looking at them and Annaliese can heal minor injuries. And on top of that they’re both people who like being involved in things, so they’re always going about, trying to defend supernaturals mostly. It’s why I was stuck babysitting Jesse most of the time.
“I thought you two had gotten past this.” Annaliese said with a sad shake of her head.
Dad noticed me holding a puppy. “Nikolas.” Was all he said. The other two adults looked at me, before pa brought Annaliese into the kitchen.
Dad walked towards me, but he didn’t look angry. Guess he knew I had some questions to ask.
“Dad what’s going on?” I asked, as the puppy squirmed in my arms.
“It’s your father’s heart, he-” Dad began solemnly.
“But what about the potion? I thought you’d gotten some miracle recipe?” I blurted out, panic suddenly erupting in my chest. “Are you going to leave us again?”
“Nikolas no.” He cut me off.
“The medicine is having an effect. Your father is protected from the effects of my magic now. But his heart took a lot of heavy damage. He’s experiencing heart failure.”
I can’t swallow.
“But don’t worry.” Dad said, putting a hand on my shoulder. “The doctors say it’s still early, and they have medicine to prescribe in need. And as you can see, we asked Annaliese to come and help his heart muscles heal. Your father’s going to be okay, he just needs to be careful from now on.”
This feels like déjà vu.
But if dad says it’ll be okay…and that he doesn’t need to leave…
“Who’s this?” Dad said, lightening the mood and gesturing at the puppy. It found dad’s hand gestures apparently fascinating.
“Ah sorry dad, I know you said no pets, but…” I told him what happened. How we’d gone to the family’s house, but she just told us to drop it off at the pound. I know a cute puppy like this would probably get adopted quickly, but then again – and I secretly really really wanted to keep it.
“Please dad? Can we keep him? I’ll take him with me on my jogs. I’ll pay for his food. I’ll take care of everything I swear!” I pleaded as he looked at the pup, who sniffed the air.
Dad exhaled slowly. “I’m glad you decided to come tell me, instead of deciding you could keep him in secret.” I grimaced. I did come pretty close to not telling him. “It’s good to see you’re learning something.”
I gave a nervous smile.
“Okay, I’ll talk to Edmund about it.”
A grin exploded on my face. “Hear that buddy?”
“You will take care of everything. You have a message on the machine about an interview for a job, so you should have money to pay for food and necessities. We’ll probably take care of veterinary charges to make sure he’s okay.” Dad explained with a serious face, as I enthusiastically nodded along.
“Don’t get too excited there’s nothing official yet.” Dad said. “But…you might want to start thinking of a name.” He added with a smile.
“Thanks dad! You won’t regret it!” I affirmed.
Dad scoffed in amusement.
A few days later…
No one’s POV
“Hello? Edmund? Xavier?”
“Mom! Look, it’s a puppy!”
“I hope you don’t mind that I brought Jesse with me. No one’s at home right now so…”
“It’s no problem at all. Nikolas is beside the fireplace right now with Veronica.”
Veronica had originally called Nikolas to share some of her last minute plans and bounce ideas off him for the Halloween party. The conversation ended up getting so long that Nikolas just told her to come over here with all her notes.
“A lot of people are going to be there though,” Veronica said. “So far, there’s Salandra, Elaine and her friend, Elvis, Lucas, me, you, Joel said he’d come, but he didn’t want to participate in the murder mystery thing, and there are a few peeps from class who really want to come. There’s going to be at least ten people!”
“House is going to be packed!”
“Which is why I thought the main action should be outside, but if the weather gets too cold I have a backup plan.” Veronica said pulling out some papers.
“You guys are hosting the party?” Jesse exclaimed.
“So when you coming tomorrow?” Nikolas asked, ignoring his cousin.
“After lunch, I have to go pick up some more supplies first.”
“I want in.” Jesse insisted with a stubborn pout. Nikolas rolled his eyes at him.
“Okay, you can come to the party,” Nikolas said. “but you can’t play the mystery game.”
“That’s not fair!”
“Sorry Jesse, but it is pretty last minute. I’d have to change a bunch of stuff to include you.” Veronica added, gesturing at all her paperwork.
“Whatever.” Jesse mumbled. He couldn’t argue when he could tell someone was telling the truth.
A furball stumbled between Jesse’s feet, sniffing and playing with the laces on his shoes.
Jesse bent down to pet it.
“I can’t believe you got a puppy.”
Nikolas leaned over his chair, grinning as the pup wagged his tail at him. “Yeah! I’m lucky. His name’s-”
“Let me guess, Lucky?” Jesse snorted. Nikolas scowled.
Nato in question looked up at Nikolas and yipped, just barely recognizing his new name, merely just responding to his voice.
“Nato.” Jesse repeated in a monotone voice.
“Be grateful, he almost called him Natos.”
“But that sounds like nachos.”
“Exactly!” Veronica exclaimed.
“Oh come on guys it’s not that bad. I was actually going for a nickname to-”
“If you say it like nayto it sounds a bit like the end of tornado.” Veronica added and Jesse snorted.
“Oh you know what nevermind.” Nikolas groaned.
“Nato…poor puppy. I would’ve called you something better like…Jasper!” Jesse said, petting the puppy.
“Niko, Niko, I can’t keep it to myself anymore, you haven’t told us anything. Did the…you know, did the jellybean grow?” Veronica asked in a low voice as Jesse squealed when Nato tried to playfully bite his hand off.
“I don’t know. I haven’t really been able to ch-”
“Jellybeans?” Jesse snapped back around.
“Jesse will you stop getting into our conversation?”
“Stop talking about interesting things then!” Jesse exclaimed in an usually high voice.
Nikolas gritted his teeth…and then saw something.
His dad had appeared in the kitchen, giving him a look. A are-you-getting-in-trouble look. It would be just perfect for him to get in trouble the day before the party. Oh and in this case that would mean his dad would learn that Niko had once again omitted to tell him something. Yes, Nikolas hadn’t really told Xavier about his jellybean experiment.
Nato yipped for attention, tugging at Jesse’s laces again.
“Puppies seem to love you Jesse! Too bad not everyone can have a dog.” Nikolas said with a casual shrug.
Jesse didn’t notice that Nikolas had changed the subject. He stared down at the cute puppy.
It didn’t take more than that for Jesse to run off to where his mom had gone.
“Mom! Why can’t we have a dog??”
“Well that was easy.” Nikolas muttered to Veronica only.
Realizing his current main source of attention had gone, Nato went to pull on Niko’s laces.
Nikolas scooped him up and threw him up in the air once.
“You’ve already gained a lot more weight! Isn’t life much better now?” Nikolas asked, gently headbutting his puppy.
Nato had trouble sleeping at night. He’d spend it whimpering or yipping.
They were tying to housebreak him, but it didn’t stop him from peeing on the couch.
When Niko took him out for a small walk it was mandatory that they spend ten minutes by the bridge – just sitting there.
If you couldn’t find him that was because he was busy having a full blown out battle with everyone’s shoes.
But he brought a special kind of energy to the household. A lot of comic relief too.
So far, Nikolas wasn’t regretting the puppy. At all.
Same day, 11pm
Edmund watched his husband as he got ready for bed. They could faintly hear the puppy whimpering downstairs.
Xavier rinsed his mouth and looked at Edmund. “What?” He asked.
“I’m happy you were a little lax on Niko.” Edmund said, hugging Xavier from behind.
“You were the one who grounded him.”
“I know, but I didn’t know what else to do.” He said, resting his chin on his husband’s shoulder. “He wouldn’t talk to me. But I’m not surprised he talked to you.”
“You’re just as close to Niko as I am.”
Edmund smiled. “I know that. We share a taste in video games and I guess he got my skills in school. But you share magic. Niko is a lot more adventurous than we ever were. He’s also a kid who won’t let himself be undermined, he pushes things through till the end. He gets involved out of pure curiosity in all sorts of things I never did at his age. But that you did. I’m just the father who writes about magic. You’re the one who lives it. It’s only natural that he’d have more ease talking to you about these things.”
Xavier shook his head sadly. “I wish he’d inherited your keen mind.” Xavier said with a chuckle.
“That’s something I had to find myself. I think we can agree I didn’t have much of one in highschool.” Edmund chuckled.
“It’s crazy when you think back on it…what we had to go through at his age…” Xavier said. There were too many things to count. “I’m glad our children don’t have to go through that.” He’d do anything to make sure that stayed true.
“Speaking of,” Edmund said. “About what we saw in our own basement…”
“Yeah, I’m…I’m not sure what to do with that.” Xavier admitted. He’d never had to deal with something like this. “It doesn’t a pose threat though. It’s sleeping for now, and maybe indefinitely. There are more pressing matters to worry about.”
Edmund didn’t need to ask, Xavier was clearly referring to his condition. He gave a small sigh. “Xavier…” There wasn’t much to say.
“How am I still getting surprised by how easily things can spiral off?” Xavier asked to no one in particular. “I thought we were done with this…but I guess I was blinded by some careless hope.” He said, pressing his hand against Edmund’s heart. “I’m sorry I couldn’t see it coming.”
“I’m not dead yet.” Edmund said, stroking his husband’s cheek.
Xavier stood silently as Edmund made his way over to their bed.
“You’re right.” He whispered. But the house was quiet enough now that Edmund heard every word. “Whatever happens, you won’t die before me.”
“A prediction?” Edmund asked with a still face, feeling a lump forming in his throat. Was it one of those sixth sense things?
“A certainty.” Xavier replied, just as quietly.
“I hope that’s not the case. I wouldn’t be able to bare it.” Edmund admitted.
“It’s late.” Xavier said, climbing into bed. “It’s not the time for these sort of thoughts.”
Easier said than done.
Xavier couldn’t tell if it was his own desire or his sixth sense telling him Edmund wouldn’t be the first to die.
But his sixth sense was telling him something. It was telling him to watch out, something was coming, and people would suffer. Something soon, something later and something else, bigger and even more dangerous.
It’s a horrible thing…knowing something is coming, but not knowing where to look to catch it in time. Only knowing enough to not be surprised when the wave came crashing down.
*tea cup in hand, pinkie up* HAHAHAHAHhahahah ohhhhhh ohhhh ohhh xav my darling