Chapter 17:

Rowlf carefully leaned against his brand new cane as he slowly made his way down the stairs- Kermit and the gang were supposed to meet him here in ten minutes- he gave himself three hours. Kermit and the gang may mean well, but on time they are not-

"Psst, hey, the eagle has hit the stairs. Why we calling him eagle anyways? Isn't he a dog?"

Rowlf froze at that voice- he knew that voice. That was- Pepe? What's he doing here?

He turned around, eyes scanning the large staircase that led outside- nobody was on them… but when you're talking about a foot tall King Prawn it didn't mean much. Moreover, where Pepe went, Rizzo was sure to be close behind, snarking. And where Rizzo went, Gonzo trailed along.

Aww, I must have been dreaming it. He turned back to concentrating on the steps- he had all the time in the world after all-

"Hey, c'mon, we gotta get out onto the lawn before he does!"

He stopped in his tracks. That was most definitely, without a singe doubt, one hundred percent Rizzo. His head tilted slightly, staring out at the world in front of him. Rizzo? Pepe? What on earth?

He turned back to the delicate task of getting down the stairs- the last thing he needed was to fall and break his leg at this point. "Is everybody ready?" The light hiss almost completely unnoticed, but he was uncertain to the voice- Kermit?

I'm hearing things. There's no way they'll be here this early. No way. He hadn't even gotten any other letters then the one time Skeeter had visited him in his bedroom, and that had been well over a week ago.

I've been stuck in here too long- I can't wait to get home. Rowlf smiled at the thought- maybe he'd be able to convince Kermit to install a hammock- that way he could lazily nap on his off days. It sounded nice at the very least.

He stumbled on the last step, slightly. Instantly a yellow felt hand reached out, and steadied him. "Fifteen seconds until the music starts Mister Rowlf." The dog looked up, startled by the sudden appearance of the gopher. "Are you ready? Would you like me to lead you to the seat of honor?"

Rowlf just continued to stare at him, dumbfounded.

"You t'ink we broke his brain?"

"No. Now shush Pepe." That was most definitely Kermit's voice.

"If he keeps this up, then we're going to be frozen in place."

"It's not that cold out Rizzo!"

"You're not the one who's been hiding in the air-conditioning vent for the past three hours!"

"Why must you always get all the fun?" Gonzo's aggrieved voice broke into the conversation- Rowlf shook his head. He could well imagine Rizzo's look to that statement.

Scooter carefully took his arm, as if ushering him into a ball. Amused, the dog thought, I'd prefer a gal, but you take what you get and don't throw a fit!

Together the two exited out of the building. For a single moment, brilliant sunlight blinded the dog, and he carefully lifted his hand to shield his eyes. Scooter patiently waited for his eyes to adjust, before saying loudly, "Happy Birthday Rowlf!"

The dogs head whipped towards the gopher. It's… my birthday? I thought it was-

"Happy Birthday Rowlf!" The cheer from scores of Muppets brought his attention front and center once again. There, standing proudly with their musical instruments, was the Theater and KMUP.

And, right next to Dr. Teeth, was a piano. His piano. "Would you like to play?" The invitation from Kermit went completely unnoticed- Rowlf was getting to the piano if he had to face Miss Piggy for it.

Slowly, and painfully, each step certain but slow, he made his way back to that piano. Leaning on Scooter for support, he settled into position, glancing at the music.

He smiled and nodded as he noticed the choice of music- the music that he and others had written together. The music that touched on what the Muppets were right now- and quite probably always would be.

The music that had originally been unfinished, but had unexpectedly been filled in.

Scoot turned to Kermit, giving him a big thumbs up. Kermit turned to the audience- members of the therapy group- stating, "Ladies and Gentlemen! The Muppet Show proudly presents; The Muppet Melody."

And Kermit took off playing the first few notes. Rowlf looked from score to paws. Don't let me down now my hands. Don't let me down now.

The music entered in to it's uneasy stage, as Scooter's youthful inexperience took center stage. Rowlf placed his paws to the keys, and carefully began to play, wincing at each sour note.

Nobody seemed to notice however as the distinctive, calming melody wove its way through Scooter's solo, soothing it into something a little more sure of itself. As the melody began to rise in fever pitch, Rowlf's and Zoot's remained a calm, steady even, without a hiccup, simply enjoying watching the fervor around them.

Rowlf's head bobbed to the beat, ears flying wildy in response. I am back baby!

The paws, once uncertain, reclaimed their rightful position on the keys. Certainly, there were sour notes, hit here and there by the trembling paws, unable to follow what Rowlf wanted, but the Muppets covered for him, pushing his own melody on whenever it faltered.

I think that this music is too much of a metaphor. But you know… I wouldn't change it for a thing.

The final few notes lingered sweetly in the air. Dr Teeth leaned across the keyboard, grinning. "So then my dog friend- where do you want to go next? Paris? London? Ask, and we'll take you there."

Rowlf stared at the fellow musician musingly for a moment, slowly shutting the lid to the piano. "Home." The low, rough voice, strained and slurred by the near inability to speak, quietly filled the air. "Let's go home."

"You heard the dog- Let's pack on up, and get him home!"

A roar and cheer swept across the Muppets, as they eagerly forged forward onto the bus.

Rizzo sighed as he plopped down onto the ground, and Gonzo settled down next to him, rummaging through his pockets, "Hey Rizzo? Have you seen my candy bar?"

The rat shoved the wrapper further into his pocket, innocently stating, "Nope, not at all!"

"Oh." The Whatever turned pockets inside out, and a lone, folded up paper drifted down to the ground. Rizzo casually picked up the paper, unfolding it to sneak a peek.


Gonzo turned in time to have Rizzo leap directly into his face shoving the paper right in front of his eyes. "Gonzo! Do you know what this is?"

"A marriage annulment?"

"No it's not a marriage annulment- it's your stupid registered citizen papers! It's been in your pocket all along!" The rat was breathing quite heavily.

Gonzo looked from papers to rat, and back again before shrugging. "Oops."

Rizzo fainted from disbelief.

Several Months Later: Rowlf lazily leaned against the window, staring out at the garden- Rizzo and Gonzo were busy trying to be kept from getting eaten (or at lest Rizzo was) as his 'honorary' rat brother cheered from the sidelines, his chicken girlfriend contentedly snuggled against him.

Kermit and Robin sat on the porch swing, gently swaying back and forth, the tiny banjo's on their laps plucking out one of the two melodies Robin knew. Miss Piggy, carefully and sharply dressed, sat on the porch chair, sipping a cool drink.

Somewhere deep below, deep enough that no radiation or explosions could touch the first floor (Rizzo having successfully scammed some rats and dwarves into digging for them) Bunsen and Beaker puttered around in their laboratory.

Pepe sighed in contentment as he kicked back to relax in the bird bath, holding a drink complete with a little umbrella in one hand.

Fozzie wandered across the grounds, looking slightly downhearted, headed for home, climbing steps one at a time in a dragging sort of way.

Rowlf carefully took his place at the piano, the gentle cascade of notes beckoning the bear to come on up- there was someone willing to listen.

Steps creaked and the floor moaned as the bear came closer, following the music. He grinned as the door was slowly pushed open, and as the bear settled into place next to him ready to talk about something.

He wouldn't change moments like these for the world. Life wasn't wonderful- not yet.

But it would get there.

a/n: well- this is the end! Thank you all my reviewers who have been keeping up with me! As of posting this, only one week left until the Muppet Movie, so I can't wait to see what new fanfiction appears soon!