The Almost Pound Escape... Or Something Like That: Part Five
"Do you know how much trouble you two have caused?" I eyed the yellow Techo quietly. His office was far from comfortable, and the chair was incredibly hard. This is coming from the Kyrii who spent two and a half years sleeping on pound bunks. I glanced over at Welch. Her chair was a good three feet from mine. Her whole body was shaking with fear, her eyes were down so no one could see she was crying. I grit my teeth.
"Let her go back with the rest, it's my fault. It was all my idea," I said, and Welch's head shot up to look at me. Dr. Death laughed.
"Of course it was, you little liar," Dr. Death sneered. "She admitted to it the same time you did."
"She was protecting me."
"Or you were protecting her. Either way, you are both neck deep in this. We spent three hours of our own precious time putting those pets back in their cages and making sure they won't get out again." Welch winced.
"It's not the other pets' fault," she said quietly. Dr. Death looked at her for a moment, and his expression seemed to soften a hair.
"We know that. None of the other pets will be punished," Dr. Death said, and Welch breathed out a sigh. "You seem awfully concerned about the innocent pets in this scenario, MissEsmeWelch. You have no thought for the guilty pets who are sitting right in front of me?" I looked at him and growled a little.
"What are you going to do to us? We're already stuck in the pound for the rest of our natural lives."
"Oh, I can do worse," Dr. Death said, looking at me with a cruel grin. "Much worse than anything you two could even-" Just then the doors of the office flew open. A human girl came flying through the doors and towards Dr. Death. He looked shocked. "I told the city council I didn't need backup already! You can leave me to my business now." The girl paused and held up a hand, trying to catch her breath.
"First, I'm not from the council, secondly, dear Fyora you need to install an elevator! There must have been what, sixteen floors?"
"Eighteen, actually," I said honestly, and Dr. Death gave me a death look before turning to the girl.
"Then on what business are you here, human girl?"
The girl shrugged. "Protesting justice for all life everywhere." She paused. "Okay, kidding, but in all seriousness I heard you guys had a riot and I was going to see what the commotion was about. Seems I missed all the fun. That's what I get for flying in from Lost Desert second class. I think we hit every gracklebug and sandstorm between here and the Haunted Woods!" Dr. Death looked at her with raised eyebrows.
"Who are you, then, that you can just barge into my office uninvited at three in the morning!" Dr. Death looked more ticked than I had ever seen him get before. And trust me, I had seen him at four AM on a Monday when he had to make his morning rounds of the pound. Not a pretty sight, I can assure you.
"Me? Oh no one in particular, maybe just the Librarian, though my friends call me Librarian." She said the words like they were nothing, thrown off her tongue with less thought than I would shout across the pound in the morning. Dr. Death seemed to lose an inch and a half in height and at least a few octaves in his voice tone.
"And what-what is the cause of this -ermm- pleasant visit?" he said, looking at her concerned. The girl spun her bleach-white hair around her finger and looked around the room. Something about her reminded me of someone I had known a long long time ago. Something way back in my memory... it was probably nothing. She pointed to Welch and me.
"I came to get them." Welch nearly jumped out of her skin. I shrank down a couple inches as well. If this girl could scare Dr. Death, what in the name of Sloth's hairdo did she want with us? Welch looked at me frantically. I didn't know what to say. I always knew what to say, what was wrong with me?
"What do you want with them?" Dr. Death asked, eying Librarian quietly.
"To take them out of this place for good," she said, smiling a little bit at us. I tried to figure out if it was a nice smile or a "I'm going to eat you while you sleep" smile. Dr. Death sighed.
"Regulation makes it impossible for me to-"
"Don't state to me the regulation, Death," Librarian said quietly, her voice indicated she was not to be messed with. "I would like to adopt these two pets please. I have the funds." She pulled a bag of neopoints out of her coat pocket and tossed them on Dr. Death's desk. The yellow Techo eyed the bag of points and shrugged.
"Take them. They're yours to deal with now. But remember this, Librarian: If any of them come within three hundred feet of the door, they're in more trouble than-"
"Than you will be if you lay a scrawny yellow paw on them? I doubt that," Librarian said, and Dr. Death seemed to pale a few more shades than his usual sickly yellow color. He cleared his throat and motioned to the door.
"I think you should be leaving now, Librarian," he said, trying to muster enough strength in his voice to sound commanding. Librarian looked at him for a moment and motioned to Welch and I to follow her. I looked at Welch, and then back at Dr. Death. I figured that I could go with the creepy teenage owner with white hair and a job title as a name, or I could stay with Dr. Death and serve hard time at the bottom of the pound. I stood up and walked over to Welch, helping her out of her chair. She was shaking like a leaf.
"Rin, what if she's-" Welch hissed, I put a finger up to my mouth.
"Nothing could be worse than staying with Dr. Seriously Ticked Off over there," I said, nodding towards Dr. Death as she stood up shakily. "I'll keep you safe, I promise." Librarian watched me quietly, her eyes looked soft and warm. Kind. I looked at her for a moment before helping Welch to the door. The teenager looked so familiar... I shook my head a little and followed her up the winding staircase that lead to the main opening of the pound. The upper halls were silent, almost a spooky silence compared to the crying and shouting that we had just left. Welch leaned against my arm for a second.
"It's not fair," she said quietly, and Librarian stopped.
"What's not fair, Welch?" she asked quietly, kneeling down so she was at the same eye level as Welch.
"That we get to get out and they all have to stay down there," Welch said quietly, watching the owner's reaction. Librarian sighed a little bit.
"You're right, you know," she said, looking at Welch kindly, "but they all will find homes some day."
"You act so confident about that," I said, keeping my eyes on the girl. She looked at me for a moment.
"I am very confident about that. The pound keeps them safe while they wait. While I admit it could be done a better way, it could be done a lot worse."
"You only think that because you're an owner," I said, and Librarian shrugged.
"Maybe," she said simply, heading towards the front door. The pink Uni who worked the adoption place had gone home for the night, so we let ourselves out. The air outside smelled different than I remembered it. Sweeter, maybe. Not that I was going sappy or anything, but when you've spent two years in the same cage you tend to start to notice the little things. I looked at Welch to see how she was taking it. She looked at the world with wonder, her eyes growing wide in amazement. I looked over at Librarian. She was looking at Welch with a sadness in her eyes that I hadn't seen since two and a half years ago. I moved away from her a bit, pulling Welch along with me.
"Rin, what are you doing?" Welch asked, pulling back.
"She's my old owner! Get away, quick!" I shouted, and Welch froze, turning to Librarian. She looked sadly down at me, kneeling down to look at me eye to eye.
"Two and a half years is a very long time, Rin," she said. I backed up. She was not going to do that to me again. She was not going to ever get a hold of me again.
"I don't want to go with you!" I shouted again, and Librarian sighed.
"Rin, I was young then. I was foolish and horrible and I've regretted my mistake in pounding you for years now."
"Then why didn't you come and get me?" I said, backing up a little bit more. Welch looked from me to Librarian in wonder.
"She couldn't get you, Rin," Welch said quietly. Librarian nodded.
"I'd forgotten your name. I looked for a long long time to try and find you, Rin. When the alert went out to the council that two pets, and Xweetok named MissEsmeWelch and a Kyrii named Prince_Jalerin, had orchestrated a pound wide escape, I knew it was you." I shook my head and backed off. She closed her eyes. "I didn't expect you to forgive me, Rin," she said softly, her eyes watering a little bit. I felt a pang in my chest.
"Then why did you come back?"
"Because even if you were only with me for the sake of being out of the pound, it was better than leaving you there."
"Why did you take Welch out as well?" I asked, and Welch looked at Librarian expectantly.
"She was your friend, I wasn't going to leave her behind. No one deserves to be left behind like that," Librarian said quietly, and I looked at her long and hard. I didn't want to forgive her, I wanted to go on hating her forever and ever and ever for the rest of my life. But she was older now, her eyes weren't the same as they used to be. She was wiser now. Maybe... maybe I would never trust her, but I could learn to live with her again. For Welch's sake. After all, Welch deserved a home more than I ever did.
"I'll come with you," I said after a long pause, "but I can't promise I'll trust you, or that I'll behave, or that I'll be quiet, or-" Librarian scooped both me and Welch up into a huge bear hug. Hugs taken out of the equation, I had a feeling things were going to turn out okay. Maybe our huge pound escape wasn't such a failure after all.