Characters: Clark/Chloe, Shelby
Description: Chloe gets a birthday present. Shelby does not approve.
Length: Oneshot, 1500 words
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Note: Part of my Shelby series, set after New Tricks. Married Chlark with a baby. Written for Tobi's birthday. Happy birthday!
"Take the basket in to Chloe, Shel."
I sniffed dubiously at the picnic basket, and what was inside it, and then lifted my head and glared at The Boy.
You do not seriously expect me to take That Thing inside the house.
"Go on," he said, grinning. "It's her birthday, and she's gonna love it."
What about me? I already hate it. Doesn't my opinion count for anything around here?
"Pick it up, Shel. Take it to Chloe."
I sighed, picked up the basket by the handle, and carried it in. I clattered my way up the stairs, and went into the bedroom where The Girl was still lounging in bed. She was feeding The Pup, who was making happy little grunting sounds. Nothing made The Pup happier than milk. My tail waved hello, and I stood there with the basket in my mouth.
"Oh," she said, reaching over The Pup and patting me on the head. "Is that a birthday present for me, Shel?"
I reared up on my hind legs-- with more difficulty than I expected; either the basket was heavy or I was getting old. Or, most likely, both. I placed the basket on the edge of the bed, then dropped back down to the floor and watched.
She opened the basket-- and squealed.
"Oh, Clark! It's adorable!"
The Boy had come up behind me, and now he was grinning ear to ear. If he'd had a tail, it would have been pounding against the wall. "I knew you'd like it," he said.
She lifted That Thing out of the basket with her free hand. It made an irritating little whining sound, and promptly piddled on the bed. The Girl didn't seem to mind. We'd had The Pup for over a month, and piddle was not a shocking novelty by any means. The Pup seemed capable of peeing gallons every day. I suspected That Thing would possess similar talents.
"It looks just like Shelby!" The Girl exclaimed, patting That Thing on the head. It peed again.
I beg your pardon. I sat down and glared at her. I am a large, handsome canine, even if I am getting a little gray around the muzzle. That Thing, on the other hand, is a fuzzy little furball.
"It's a golden retriever," The Boy said, "same as Shelby. I thought you'd like him. Shelby's such a good dog I figured we couldn't go wrong with another golden."
I waved my tail approvingly at the words Shelby and good dog. It's nice to be appreciated, even if it means you have to share your house and people with a small and fuzzy Thing.
That Thing wiggled out from beneath The Girl's hand, and began exploring. It got too close to the edge of the bed, and I leaned forward and used my teeth to grab it by the scruff of the neck, then lowered it to the floor.
"How about that?" The Boy said. "Shelby's a born father."
A what? I lifted my head away from That Thing with an indignant sniff. I have no interest in this furry little interloper. That was just sort of a... reflex.
"Good dog," The Boy said, rubbing my ears, and I leaned against his leg. I ought to be annoyed with him for bringing this little fuzzball into my house, but... well, it's hard to turn down an ear rub.
"What are we going to call him?" The Girl shifted position on the bed so that The Pup could switch sides. "You weren't serious about calling your next dog Krypto, were you?"
"What's wrong with Krypto?"
"It's a stupid name, that's what's wrong with it." She peered over the edge of the bed at That Thing, which was now savagely attacking a slipper, growling in a ridiculous falsetto. "He's redder than Shelby. What about Rusty?"
"Rusty's a nice name," The Boy agreed.
That Thing gave up on the slipper, turned toward me, and savagely attacked one of my paws. It tickled. I stood up, shook myself with annoyance, and stalked away.
Call it whatever you want. As far as I'm concerned, its name is That Thing.
I spent the rest of the day being persecuted by That Thing. I'd lie down to take a nap-- something I did a good deal of these days-- and it would sneak up on me and grab my ear in its teeth. That didn't tickle... it hurt. It had sharp little teeth, and my ears did not appreciate its efforts to turn them into hamburger. I growled at it once or twice, but it didn't seem to be bright enough to understand what that meant. Frankly, it was dumb. And it had a ridiculous fixation on my ears.
The Boy and The Girl played with it during the day, but they also made more time than usual to play with me, so I didn't really resent its presence too much. I didn't chase balls the way I once had, anyway. Most of my interaction with my people nowadays involved me lying at their feet and accepting pats.
Anyway, I'd been here long enough to know That Thing wasn't going to replace me. I was indispensable. No one could guard The Home like I could-- certainly not a small and idiotic ball of fur with a growl that sounded like a mosquito's buzzing. But I was also unhappily aware that I wasn't quite as much the life of the party as I'd once been. That Thing was probably more fun for the humans.
That afternoon, I lay there feeling old, and watched as the Boy waved a sock in front of That Thing's face. It grabbed the end and hung on, growling in that ridiculous falsetto voice, its tiny little tail wagging. The Boy laughed, just as he used to laugh when he threw balls for me.
I decided my first impression had been correct. I didn't like That Thing in the least.
It was annoying. It was irritating. It was revolting.
But The Girl kept saying that it was cute, and adorable, and the sweetest little puppy ever, so I resigned myself to sharing The Home with it.
I didn't plan to enjoy it, though.
That night, The Boy was out on patrol, so I clattered upstairs and made sure The Girl and The Pup were safely tucked in, then went downstairs and flopped on my bed in the living room. Going up and down stairs was becoming something of a chore for me, but someone had to make sure all my people were all right when The Boy wasn't around. Sirius knew That Thing didn't have the sense to guard its own whiskers, let alone The Home.
That Thing was on another blanket across the room, and when I lay down, it began crying, as tragically as if it were lost in the woods in a blizard, rather than in a warm and comfortable farmhouse.
I sighed. Cut it out, Thing. Some of us need our sleep.
It whimpered, very sadly. I growled. The whimpering cut off for a moment, then began again.
I lay there for a moment, glaring into the darkness. It occurred to me that That Thing had probably slept with its mother every night up till now. The Pup had slept with The Girl and The Boy for a little while, in a little tiny crib next to their bed, and she'd cried when they'd moved her out of their room, too. Pups didn't like being separated from their mothers.
It could be that Things didn't like it, either.
That Thing was still whimpering. I stood up, went over to it, and flopped down next to it on its blanket. Its whimpering cut off, and it sniffed me for a minute, then curled up against me, a tiny little ball of fluff. It seemed very small. It was hard to believe that one day it would be my size.
Don't get the idea I like you, Thing, I told it sternly. I'm just lying down next to you because The Girl needs her sleep. The last time she and The Boy didn't get enough sleep, things went all to hell around here. So it's crucially important for the humans to get their sleep. Otherwise, I'd let you howl.
That Thing wiggled, and licked my muzzle.
Don't do that, I objected. No kisses.
It licked me again, as if I hadn't just told it not to do that. Dumb, like I said. No brain whatsoever. But for all its lack of intelligence, it was sort of... well, cute. Just as The Girl had said. And besides, if it was part of The Home now, then it needed guarding too, just as everything else in The Home did. I licked it in return, and it sighed and snuffled and cuddled up against me, and fell into slumber.
I put my head on my paws, and watched over it while it slept.
That Thing wasn't so bad, I decided. As Things went, it was a pretty nice one. And besides... it really did look a lot like me.
Even if it wasn't quite as handsome.