The next morning, Romano woke up early to the sight of his boyfriend spread eagle on the other end of the bed with drool running down the left side of his mouth. Soft snores were coming out of his open lips and his blond hair was rumpled messily. Romano just rolled his eyes at him before getting out of bed and quickly taking a shower. While getting dressed, he was sifting through the paperwork on America's desk and with a quiet noise of victory, found the small paper he was looking for. The address on it was scribbled with what looked like a child's green crayon. He tucked it in his back pocket and slipped into his shoes, all the while making sure America was still fast asleep. With his phone in hand and the car keys in another, he left a small kiss on America's cheek before rushing out of the room before America so much as woke up and called him out on being a big sap in the mornings.
Getting to where he needed to go was the easy part. It was the walking through the doorway of the building that was the hard part. And really, it wasn't that the door itself was heavy, it was the realization that he was actually about to do this that was turning his feet into cemented bricks. Romano tried to build up the will to walk inside but it was getting hard to do so in the face of reality. His hand stalled on the door handle and he took the moment to rethink this idea. Is this even worth it? Just because he had a moment of weakness doesn't mean that he could still go through with this plan. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea. He shouldn't be here; he didn't like the idea in the first place so why is he even going to bother? Slowly, he relaxed his grip on the door handle, when-
"Momma, why ain't that man movin'?" A small, high-pitched voice jerked Romano out of his thoughts and he turned to move out of the way of the door. A mother and son were standing right behind him. The child clutched onto the back of the woman's dress and held an expression that showed just how hard he was thinking about why Romano was standing outside of the store like a loon. The woman, clearly his mother, just smiled in amusement and ushered her kid into the pet store, murmuring lowly to him that 'the poor man just doesn't know which lucky animal he's taking home today'. The child let out an 'oh!' of understanding, which left Romano feeling a bit silly and also a bit irked that he was so easily seen through. Gazing into the store windows, he could see that the woman had approached the counter to talk to someone while her son wandered off to the side where Romano presumed there were animals to look at. Taking a deep breath, he squared his shoulders and stiffly walked through the doors and into the unknown.
The place was small, hardly larger than their apartment, but the walls were lined up with cages for housing all types of animals. The center of the room had several gated playpens that circled around each other and left room for people to walk through. Despite the early morning, there were already plenty of dogs and cats awake and playing around. Besides the mother and son, there was an older couple strolling through the make-shift aisles as the old lady would stop every so often and admire the kittens.
Romano found himself trailing behind the couple as they passed through the puppies. He stopped besides a playpen that was further back from the rest and glanced inside. The shifting bodies of the pug puppies made it known that these dogs were looking for a way out of their confinement. Once they noticed Romano, they tried to climb over one another to reach his side of the playpen for a treat or a head-rub. He couldn't resist bending down and petting a few of their heads, rubbing into their soft skull with a gentleness he normally doesn't show. He also couldn't stop himself from letting out a small laugh as some of the other puppies tried to fight each other to lick his hand. Some of them started to whine as he pulled away, but then started barking excitedly when the little boy from before approached the playpen. Romano walked off to assess the other dogs, just in case there was something more ideal as a pet. He couldn't just settle for the first one to make him laugh. This dog has got to be special.
When he stopped at the next caged playpen, this time housing a trio of beagles, the old lady from earlier had stooped down and scooped up a spotted white and orange kitten and was gently petting its fur. The kitten seemed content to laze in the woman's arms and purr its body away. The beagles that had captured Romano's attention started barking like mad once they saw the kitten, and all three puppies started jumping their small bodies at the edge of the gated area. The old lady just let out an 'oh hush!' to the energetic puppies and walked off to the other side of the room where her husband was left standing next to an old-style radio. Romano turned away from whatever conversation they were having under their breath and walked away from the beagles, who were still barking loudly at the far-away kitten. He's not getting a dog that'll bark at anything that moves.
The next caged play area housed several different colors of golden retrievers. Some were playing with each other and others were grouped off to the side and gnawing on their chew toys. There was one, smaller than the rest and pale in color, which was moved the furthest from the rest and had its back to Romano. He dismissed that one since it was probably sleeping anyways. The other dogs took notice of him and just like the other puppies from before, they stopped what they were doing and attacked his out stretched hand with licks and soft bites. He pulled his hand away quickly when he saw one of the larger dogs slobber its drool everywhere. Romano's nose wrinkled a bit as he wiped his wet hand on his thigh. Sighing, he wondered if he should give up now while he was at it. None of the dogs were really standing out as something he and America would take care of together. Feeling a slight pang of disappointment, Romano made his way back to the walls and looked inside each of the cages.
Most, if not all, of the puppies inside the cages were still asleep. Romano didn't take this as a good thing considering these dogs must have been awake for a good portion of the night if they were still sleeping this late in the morning. The only one that was awake seemed to not care that Romano was right there and instead shuffled itself further away from the cage door and fall right back asleep. Well at least Romano could relate to the dog, but he didn't want a dog that wasn't going to do anything. America might be lazy in the morning but he was always full of energy and he needs a companion to match that spirit.
Thinking of his boyfriend made Romano contemplate which would be the perfect dog for him. Alfred was loud, there's no doubt about that. He was also annoyingly big and tall and while Romano rather liked that, sometimes it made it hard to be taken seriously. Clingy (if we're being honest) but then again so was Romano but for the most part Alfred wouldn't last a day without him. He was also powerful, loyal, loving, amazing and strangely charming…
Lovino shook his head at the wandering thoughts and look another look around the store. The older couple from earlier were at the front counter, the man signing some papers while the woman carefully held a small pet carrier in her arms. The triangle shape of a fluffy white and orange tail could be seen poking out of the cage's opening, much to the delight of the older woman. The mother that came in earlier with her son was squatting next to the pug cage while her son very seriously contemplated over which pug he was going to take home that day. Behind the lady's shoulder Lovino noticed that one puppy that had its back to him earlier lift its head from the floor in a sudden movement towards him. Lovino started, wondering what could have caught his attention when his phone began to ring, the ringtone he set for texts from Alfred ringing clear throughout the store.
"Fill my heart with song and let me sing forever more-"
Lovino scrambled for his phone to turn down the volume but it was too late as most of the animals in the store turned their attention to him and started their own version of a concert, the sounds of mild meowing and warbled howling filled the store. The woman at the front counter couldn't help laughing along with the older couple as well as the mother of the boy when most of the puppies on the floor began to dance around their play pen. The boy crowed in delight when one particular pug puppy made spinning leaps in its place, cementing the decision in the little boy's mind that he was going to keep that one.
Lovino had just managed to turn off the volume and turn it to vibrate when the older couple, who were just about ready to leave, came over to him. The man just chuckled as his wife slipped her arm through his, her other hand carrying the cage close to her chest.
"Wonderful choice in music there son. A true classic and I'm glad you young ones still appreciate the good old days," He pats Lovino gently on the shoulder, not enough for Lovino to feel prickly about personal space from strangers but just enough for him to feel a bit of appreciation. The man glanced down at the puppies Lovino was standing in front of and gave a bark of laughter, drawing the Italian's attention downwards. The puppy he originally dismissed as being asleep had stood up against the fence on its hind legs, its tail swinging wildly side to side as he excitedly looked up at Lovino. The anticipation in its eyes lets the Italian know he was waiting for more music to be played. The old man reached down and patted the puppy's head before moving away with his wife.
"I must say I wasn't the only one to know that too! Smart pup right there! Why, if my Amelia here hadn't found her little friend, I'd snag that critter in a heartbeat!" He chuckled again, a soft look on his aged face. His wife chided him on his specific allergies to dog fur and they bickered good naturedly as they made their way out the store and away from a contemplating Lovino. He looked around and noticed he was the only one on the floor, the mother and her son signing papers in the front as the little boy held the jumpy pug puppy on a full body leash. He sent a silent prayer for the woman who was sure to have an energetic household nowadays.
Crouching down till he was face to snout with the puppy, he let the dog sniff him a bit before blinking up at him in adoration. At least he thinks it was adoration. It could easily be just waiting for a treat or a pat on the head. Yet the animal had intelligence, if the way it reacted to his phone ringing before the sound went off. It also wasn't bad to look at, it's golden fur was a bit dull but a healthy brush through would fix that. Lovino was fond of routine, so that wouldn't be such a problem getting Alfred to-
Lovino, with such an aching fondness in his chest, knows in his heart that Alfred would absolutely adore this puppy. He would care for it so gently like he does with all other animals, and love it to bits and pieces just like he treats all his special people. The creature would never know cruelty, and would never be lonely, and he would live in a happy home and and-
Well, I guess the decision wasn't such a hard one after all.