Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
"Shelby! Do you have to lie right under the tree?"
The Woman sounded a little annoyed as she tripped over me for the tenth time, but I just wagged my tail. The Woman hadn't been at home for a long time, and I'd missed her. Anyway, I liked stretching out under the tree. I wasn't really sure why humans brought a pine tree into the house every so often, but for some reason there seemed to be a lot of coming and going around the tree.
And wherever there's coming and going, there are pats on the head.
Sure enough, she rubbed my ears, then bustled off to the kitchen. I dropped my head back on my paws and watched The Boy. The Boy isn't really a boy. He's not a puppy any more, but a full-grown man. But to me he'll always be The Boy, at least until he has a puppy of his own.
For some reason he was pulling shiny balls out of a box. I lifted my head and stared at him hopefully, thumping my tail on the wood floor.
Hey, kid. Toss one of those for me, will ya?
"Sorry, Shelby," he said, smiling. "These aren't for you."
I put my head back on my paws, grumbling, because all balls that enter the house are supposed to be mine. Heck, humans don't even like balls. And they have absolutely no idea how to correctly play with them.
The Boy promptly proved this by hanging the ball on a tree branch. If I could have rolled my eyes, I would have. I love my boy, but he's not too bright. Everyone knows you're supposed to chase balls, not hang them on branches. Duh.
I sighed, and he bent to pat my head. "Your friend Chloe's going to be here any minute, buddy. She's spending Christmas Eve with us."
My tail thumped again at The Girl's name. She's my friend, but she's also The Boy's friend. In fact I'm pretty sure they're more than friends-- they're mates. They just haven't figured it out yet. I think they could have beautiful puppies together, but for some reason The Boy keeps insisting that she's "just a friend."
Sure enough, a minute later the front door opened-- because The Girl has privileges that include not having to ring the doorbell like most visitors do-- and The Boy turned around, grinning like a fool. I jumped to my feet, showing my own teeth in a happy grin not unlike The Boy's, and ran for the door, my toenails clattering on the floor. I greeted The Girl happily, my tail waving frantically.
The Boy came up behind me, a little more slowly. He was still grinning from ear to ear, and I could tell if he had a tail it would be wagging. "Hey, Chlo," he said. "We just started putting ornaments up."
"Great," she said. "Here, stick these under the tree."
She passed him two boxes, wrapped with shiny paper that looked like it would be fun to chew on. I eyed them hopefully.
"No, Shelby, of course I didn't forget you." She pulled my favorite kind of treat out of her pocket, a dog biscuit shaped like a bone, and I wagged my tail in appreciation.
Thanks. Glad someone remembers to feed the dog around here.
I headed back to the tree to sprawl on the floor and gnaw on my treat. The Boy followed me, placing the boxes on the floor near me. He looked really flustered.
"Thanks, Chlo," he said. "I, uh, have something for you too. It's under the tree."
Her face lit up. "Oh," she said, looking a little flustered herself. "That's great, Clark. But what I got you--" Her hands waved aimlessly toward the packages. "It's nothing, really. Just, you know... well, it's nothing much."
"Yeah. Me too. No big deal, really. Just, you know, a little something."
I growled under my breath and took a big bite of dog biscuit. What's wrong with you two kids, anyway? You obviously like each other an awful lot. I hope you bought each other something really meaningful and important. Like rubber balls.
The two of them smiled awkwardly at one another and started hanging more balls on the tree, along with some other very interesting-looking toys. I watched hopefully, but The Boy told me several times to leave it alone, so I finally was forced to conclude the toys were not intended for canine use.
I finished the dog biscuit. By now the two of them were talking up a storm, just like they always do, and no one seemed to be interested in rubbing my ears any more. In fact they seemed to have totally forgotten my presence, which wasn't surprising. Put them in a room together, and they always forgot about anyone else who might be there.
Bored, I got to my feet, stretched, and started to follow The Girl back and forth, walking right at her heels. She hung a shiny ball on the tree, then turned around and tripped over me, and started to fall.
Instantly The Boy was there. I'm not quite sure how he does that, but he moves a lot faster than I can. The Boy isn't exactly human. I'm not sure what he is, but even though he looks human, he isn't, quite.
He caught her, wrapping his arms around her and hauling her up against his chest.
And then they were looking into each other's eyes, and there was a long silence. I waited hopefully.
Come on, kid. Don't you know anything? You're supposed to lick her face now.
"Hi there," he said at last, and his voice sounded hoarse, the way it did that one time when he got sick and sat around the kitchen with his face over a bowl of steaming water. But he didn't look sick.
"Hey," she answered softly, and he bent a little, so their faces were even closer together.
That's it, kid. Now just open your mouth and give her a nice wet lick, so she knows you like her.
"I guess... the tree... we should..."
The Boy sounded like he was having a hard time getting words out, and I was glad. Sometimes I'm envious of the human ability to talk, but honestly, most of the time it seems like they talk just so they can avoid actually doing things. The Boy in particular was prone to talking to The Girl when he really ought to be licking her. Like now.
Just shut up, kid. Use your mouth for something besides talking and eating, for once in your life.
I waited to see if he'd take my advice, and wonder of wonders, he did. All of a sudden his mouth was against The Girl's, and the two of them were doing that lip-mashing thing that humans do. It's not something I'm into personally, but humans seem to like it. And I know they do it with their mates.
They kept mashing lips, and they both started making funny little noises, The Boy's sort of low and growly, and The Girl's high-pitched, like someone was stepping on her tail. If she had a tail, I mean. His arms tightened around her, so hard that he actually lifted her off the floor a little.
And then The Woman walked back into the room.
The Boy let The Girl go so fast she almost fell. He caught her by the arms, saving her from falling on her tail, and they both turned to The Woman with identical expressions of guilt, like puppies who'd been caught chewing up the dining room curtains.
"Oh," The Woman said. "My."
The Boy started to stammer again. "Uh, Mom, this, uh, isn't what it looks like."
Don't listen to him. It's exactly what it looks like.
The Woman simply smiled. I was surprised to see that she looked pleased, and happy. Very, very happy.
"The mistletoe," she said mildly, pointing to the other side of the room, "is over there."
And she turned and walked back into the kitchen.
There was a long, uncomfortable silence. The Boy and The Girl seemed to be avoiding looking at each other for some reason.
"Uh," The Boy said at last. "The tree."
"Yeah." The Girl's voice was unusually quiet. "The tree."
They hesitated for a long moment, and then they turned their heads at the same instant and looked at each other.
"I guess we should..."
"Yeah. We probably should."
They hesitated for another long moment, staring into each other's eyes.
"The hell with the tree," The Boy said at last, and kissed her again.
It didn't appear they were going to stop any time soon, so I wagged my tail, got up, and clattered my way out to the kitchen in search of cookies. They didn't seem to notice I'd left.
The Woman looked up and smiled as I entered the kitchen. "Hey, Shelby," she said. "About time, isn't it?"
No kidding. Are they the two slowest people in the history of the world, or what?
"I was sure they'd figure it out eventually."
Not me. I'd pretty much given up hope. If all people were that slow, I don't think there would be many human puppies around to play with.
She tossed me a little piece of a cookie, and I caught it out of the air and ate it, thinking about that. I wasn't a young dog, but maybe before I left the world The Boy and The Girl would have a puppy for me to play with. I thought about playing with a human puppy-- well, a more-or-less human puppy-- and my tail waved happily.
The Woman misunderstood my body language, as humans often do. "No, no more cookies for you," she said sternly. "Bad for the teeth. Go on, Shel. Get out of here."
I ambled out of the kitchen and back into the living room. The Boy and The Girl were still kissing, and they hadn't even bothered to move across the room so they were under the mistletoe. I was glad they'd quit pretending they weren't in heat for each other, when it had been obvious for a long time that they were.
They might be the two slowest people in the history of the world, but it looked like they'd finally realized they were mates.
I clacked my way noisily across the room, but they didn't even notice. I flopped down under the tree, put my head down on my paws, and closed my eyes...
And dreamed happy dreams of a human puppy to play with.