"Rinoa, please."

Quistis folded her arms underneath her bosom. Apparently, Rinoa was completely deaf to the exasperated tone in her voice. She paid no heed to Quistis' annoyance and proceeded to let Angelo roam free, muddy paw prints and soggy wet hair, all over the floor.

"See, he likes it here." Rinoa's adoring smile followed her massive dog as he jumped around in a brown blur across the living room, rubbing himself against the furniture and sniffing along invisible trails. Quistis didn't think Angelo liked this place better than any other new home he'd been in. The dog just sensed her contempt with the way he spread his wet doggy stink everywhere and enjoyed playing it up.

"Let me guess," Quistis stood next to Rinoa with her arms still crossed. She gazed down to Rinoa until she finally turned her attention away from the dog and to her eyes. "Your father never let Angelo inside after he'd been playing in the mud. Right?"

"Of course not." Rinoa squatted down to call Angelo back to her. He retreated from Quistis' glass case protecting three of her whips after leaving nose smudges all over it.

"I waited until he went to bed, then I let Angelo in the house."

Quistis nodded, but her expression didn't change. Angelo was now sitting by Rinoa's side, obedient and calm, proudly examining the mess he'd made of Ms. Trepe's apartment. As if the dog could feel her blue eyes weighing him down, his two big orbs of contentment looked right back to her.

"Angelo likes you Quistis. Pet him." Rinoa's hands were around his massive neck, cuddling her companion close.

"He's wet." Quistis wanted to rebut Rinoa's claim, but when Angelo leaned forward and nuzzled his black nose into her thigh, she couldn't help but loosen her hands free to reach down for him. Despite the rainwater that permeated his thick coat, warmth emanated from his body. Her fingers, stiff at first, grazed against his coat in a shy venture across his back. At first she was conscious of ever strand of fur, wet and coarse, pricking her palm. Gradually, as she stroked a little quicker and pressed down to feel the hardness of the dog's form, she felt Angelo step closer to her.

"He likes to be scratched behind the ears. Like this." Without waiting for a response or even asking if Quistis wanted to, Rinoa grabbed her hand and led it to his ears. They flopped over, and moved to give her fingers better access.

Quistis wasn't sure how to respond when Rinoa's dog looked up at her, tongue dangling out of what looked to be a slight doggy smile, while panting hot breath onto her leg.

"He's drooling on my floor."

Rinoa grinned. "I know you don't mind."

Quistis turned to her and smiled. "No, I don't mind."