Still Taking Care Of You
"Not again! No, don't leave me! Don't leave, please!" Anna screamed into the darkness. She could hear Librarian walking away. She didn't hear her crying, even though Anna knew she had to have regretted having to leave her here. At the pound. Again. Why wasn't she crying like Anna was right now? Did she really care?
But she wasn't "Anna" anymore, was she? No, she was anna803, a badly-named snow Xweetok, with no home and no family. Again. She reached out one hand to the wall and began walking. The concrete was stippled beneath her fingers, probably grey, she thought as she sniffed and wiped away a tear. Everything about this place was grey.
No one would want her, of course. She wasn't even sure what the 803 on the end of her name meant, and she knew no one else did, either, even if "Anna" was a nice enough nickname. And then, she was blind, thanks to another lengthy stay at the pound. She couldn't remember ever seeing herself in the mirror, but she felt quite sure she wasn't pretty or cute. She was just... anna803.
"You promised you would never leave me again!" she cried, even though there was no one to hear her... at least, no one who would care. She made that promise twice, and twice she broke it. "I suppose I should have known..." she muttered to herself. The short time she'd been with Librarian had been a happy time. Of course it wouldn't last. Good things never did.
On second thought, Anna decided, there was no such thing as a "good thing." Even Librarian had abandoned her, and, now, she supposed she might as well consider this her new home. This empty, grey place.
Finally having made it around her cell, using slow, deliberate steps, Anna sat down on the ground, her back pressed up against the wall. The rough wall scratched and grated every time she moved, and, after a while, she didn't anymore. She was done crying, she thought to herself. If this was her life—unlucky, cursed, even—then there was no reason to waste tears on it.
Her ears turned when she heard the door to the pound cell screech open and stand there. A pair of feet walked in, followed by a large quartet of prancing padded paws... Maybe it was an Eyrie, Anna guessed, since she could hear the whoosh of large wings as they moved to clear the door jam.
Spinning toward the voice, Anna snapped, "What?" and then ducked her head a little, shamefully when she realized that she knew the voice. "Al... Almedha?" she asked. It was Librarian's friend. Anna hadn't really talked to her, but Almedha visited Librarian all the time when she was around.
"Your mom sent me a message," Almedha said. "She has to go, but she wanted to make sure you had a good home."
"Good luck with that," Anna grumbled, folding her arms across her chest and turning her face away. "Who is going to want a blind snow Xweetok with a bad name like mine?"
Almedha laughed, and Anna frowned. Why would she laugh at something like that? It wasn't even close to funny! But then... Anna remembered that Almedha did have a pretty strange sense of humor. "Well, I do," she said. Anna shuddered at that sudden hope before she could squelch it. People made promises all the time that they didn't keep; people thought they wanted things all the time only to change their minds later.
So absorbed with her thoughts, Anna didn't realize that Almedha had crossed the room and was standing close enough to take her hand. "Come on, Anna. Let's go home."
Almedha pulled Anna up to her feet and pulled her to the door. Anna could feel the warmth of another body there, furry, bright, and curious. Anna knew it was an Eyrie for certain when the huge creature nudged her with his enormous wing. "Anna... 803, huh?" the Eyrie smacked and Anna heard the grin that tinged his tone. "Nice to meet you. I'm McCloud. 7_McCloud_7. Why don't you hop on?" With that, McCloud guided Anna with one of his wings to get on his back, in front of his wings.
So. Another badly-named pet, she though, grasping handfuls of his mane in her hands.
"Alright!" Almedha announced a few seconds later. "You're adopted. Pretty strong for a little snow, huh?" she jibed playfully. "Why don't you take her home, McCloud? I have to make sure Asgarrd hasn't broken the house or something. And I'll see you tomorrow."
McCloud bobbed his head, and Anna felt the strong muscles of his neck clench as a breeze caught her hair as his wings spread. "You got it, chief!" McCloud piped and trotted off through the hallways of the pound until they were finally outside in the fresh air again.
As Anna bounced on McCloud's back, she asked, "Tomorrow? And who's Asgarrd?"
"One of Almedha's other pets, on the main account. Biscuit Zafara with half a brain and one eye? Nah, you've probably never heard of him. Hey, hey! What are you crying for?"
"A side account?" Anna asked quietly. "I've always lived on a main account; I... I know what happens to pets on side accounts."
"Hey, it's not so bad," McCloud chided. "We've got the run of the place! Just me and Ru! And now, you know, you, too. And besides, I've been here for six years. I'm not going anywhere. Rushishi's been here four years, and he definitely can't go anywhere. It'd be unsafe to society. Hey, Ru was adopted from the pound, too!"
"Well, I hope he was used to it, because that's all where we're going someday..." Anna sighed. "People just send pets like us to the pound. All the time. You think Almedha actually cares about you?"
"Well..." McCloud pondered quietly, even stopped walking to think. Anna couldn't help but get the impression that he wasn't exactly the brightest Eyrie on the block. "Yeah. I do." Definitely not the brightest Eyrie on the block. His tone became soft, and he added, "And Librarian cares about you, too."
"No, she doesn't!" Anna objected. "How could she? I'm here now!"
"You're here because she cares about you!" McCloud answered. "She asked Almedha to take you out of the pound. Almedha's not the greatest owner, but she's not a bad owner either. Your owner knew that. She didn't want you to be in the pound. And now you aren't. She's still taking care of you Anna, even if it's not the way you thought she would."
Anna was quiet for a few minutes, not sure what to say. Maybe McCloud was right... at least, Anna wanted to believe he was. She quietly rearranged her hair for a moment until McCloud said, "Well, we'd better get going. It's a long flight home."
"Flight?" Anna repeated, quickly grabbing the biggest handfuls of fur she could and held on tight.
"Yep," McCloud answered with a laugh. "You'd better hang on, 'cause, Anna? You don't live with the Librarian anymore." Before Anna could answer, McCloud's wings shot out and he jumped into the air. Anna turned her face to the sky as wind rushed over her head and through her hair.
No... she thought. She most definitely didn't live with Librarian anymore.