How Wally Surprised Artemis

Chapter 1

"Every gift from a friend is a wish for your happiness" ~Richard Bach

Wally peeked around the door, glanced around the apartment once, then slipped the rest of the way in carrying his deceptively heavy load. "Come on boy." He set the pudgy dog on the floor, "Good boy. Shhh. Let me make sure she's gone." He hurried down the hall, "Artemis?"

No answer.

"yes." Wally pumped a fist, coming back to the dog and picking him up again as he headed to the bathroom, "She's still in class. That gives us half an hour."

Turning on the faucet, Wally set the squirming animal in the tub and pulled down Artemis' shampoo from the little shelf. He'd run out of his own shampoo like a week ago, but it didn't matter because Artemis' shampoo actually smelt really good.

He squeezed a huge glop of the minty, strawberry, whatever-the-heck-it-as-suposed-to-be onto the dog and began scrubbing. "Hold still!" he grunted, letting out a short laugh as the dog tried to scramble out of the tub. "Dude, come on. You've been locked up in that shelter for how long? You need a bath. Down boy, down. Brucely no!"

With a splash and a bark the rescue took off down the hall, soaking the carpet all along the way.

Crap, the door, Wally thought.

In a burst of speed he slammed the front door shut. The dog skid to a stop, staring at him, tail and ears frozen stiff in utter shock.

"Surprise," Wally smirked. "Now come here." He leaned forward, but the Pit Bull took off again. "No come. . . Come here. . .!"

Wally followed the dog through the kitchen, (Where he almost slipped and killed himself against the counter.) Then they ran into the bedroom where Wally knelt and grabbed the dog's collar pulling until he could get a better grip on the animal. "Sorry pal. There we go. Come on, it's just a bath, it's okay boy."

And back to the tub they went, more or less without trouble. . . Mostly.

By the time it was over more than twenty minuets had passed and the entire bathroom was wet.

Wally sat on the floor, legs up and folded around the dog to hold the animal in place while he took a pair of clippers to the matted fur. He had to stop every five minuets to untangle the mess of dog hair caught in the blades. He was in the process of doing just that when his cellphone rang beside him. He picked it up off the floor, shook off the water, answering quickly. "Hey Babe, what's up?" even while he spoke he sent the dog a death glare, warning not to make a peep and spoil the surprise.

There was a short pause on the other line."You're home already?" Artemis asked over the phone, "Don't you have class?"

"Teacher called in sick." Wally replied, then he grinned "Thought I'd come home and do some cleaning." He glanced around the bathroom Ya, no kidding. definitely need to clean up. . .

"Oh. . ." Artemis said, unsure of what to say, and that made Wally smile even wider. She'd freaked out last week over feeling overwhelmed about midterms and him 'not doing anything around the apartment' So, he'd legitimately been trying to help out. In turn, she'd been trying to be considerate of his effort even when he failed miserably. "Well. . ." Artemis said slowly, slyly "If you do the dishes I'll take both our laundry in tomorrow."

"That's. . ." Wally gritted his teeth as Brucely tried to pull away. He grabbed the dog by the collar with one hand and put the other over the animal's nose, balancing his phone between his shoulder and cheek. "Ya, kay. Fine. Um. . .You coming home?"

Actually that's why I called. I got invited to a study group. I was going to leave you a message. We should be done in about an hour, depending on how it goes of course."

she sounded 'so' excited.

Wally grinned despite the pain he knew she must be going through at the thought of academic social interaction among her peers. "Great!" he said, glancing around the bathroom again with the partly shaved dog dripping there on the floor. "I'll see you in an hour."

"Well gee, you don't have to sound so happy I'm gone."

Brucely barked loudly and Wally slapped his hand over the phone.

The dog took off.

"What was that?"

"I'm never glad when you're not with me," Wally said quickly to distract her. He watched Brucely run out the door and sighed inwardly, laying back on the floor, half giving up. "However, I am overwhelmingly happy when you're here. So, I think I have just enough leftover happiness saved up to last an hour while you're gone. . . Or well. . . Maybe not a whole hour. . . I can do forty-five minuets. . . Maybe. Na, maybe a half hour. . ."

"I get it, I get it." Artemis interrupted "Yes, you're cheesy."

He could almost see her adorable head-shake, ponytail bouncing.

"I'll try and make it short," she promised.

"Good. Love you."

"Love you too."

He almost hung up. "Oh wait. Artemis. Do you know where the scissors are?"

"In the kitchen drawer by the sink. Why?"

"I looked there."

There was a pause "Aw crud. You know, I used them to strip my arrow fletchings yesterday. They're probably on the table under all our other junk."

"Okay, thanks!" He hung up on her before she could remember all the questions he hadn't answered. He pocketed the phone and stood stiffly. "Brucely. Come."

The dog had decided to do his outside business inside next to the couch. Wally sighed, walking to the table. He moved the bills and scraps of green arrow fletchings from the table until he found the only pair of scissors in the house. Did she really have to use them? Wouldn't something more slender and sharper like a razor blade or X-acto knife work better anyways? "Come on Boy." He took the dog by the collar again and knelt on the carpet. By this point who cared if fur got in the living room? He was finishing this. He didn't care if it killed him. This dog was getting cleaned up, and then the house was getting clean as well. He couldn't wait to surprise Artemis with their new pet. He'd been testing the idea out on her for weeks now, but never got a flat straight answer. She said she didn't like cats, so obviously she had to like dogs right? And she always oohed and aawed at the puppies in the store windows. Sure, Brucely was older than a puppy, but Wally had seen him in the shelter and those large, gooey, sad eyes had just screamed at him, 'take me home! I belong with you two!'

So, why not?