Not What He Seems

Every once in a while, Penny, the owner of a small family of mix-matched animals, would bring her strange creatures to a nearby park, letting the three little ones run around and play on the toys in the playground. You see, these weren't your normal types of animals, they could talk and do all kinds of amazing things. Mike was a small, puppy like animal with the ears of a cat. His white fur was adorned with black stripes that traveled from his black ears, down to the base of his bushy tail. The first thing he did was vanish in a flash of light, only to reappear in the same second at the top of the slide. "Mike, remember, no powers, teleporting or otherwise." Penny, the red haired fifteen year old girl, called after him. "Sorry Penny!" he shouted back. Wolf was a small grey and puppy with the face of a kitten. His short pink nose crinkled as he grinned mischievously, and crouched down to his white furred stomach. In a second, the little one dashed off like a blur, swerving in and out of the support pipes and dashing up the swings only to meet his brother at the top of the slide. "Now, we're even." he said to Mike. Penny shook her head as she set down the third of the strange animals, Hazel. Un-like her brothers she was mostly kitten, with the exception of her bushy dog like tail. Her white fur was decorated permanently with black stripes that traveled side to side all the way down her back. With almost no explanation, she lifted off of the ground, a little clumsily, but soon steadied herself and sailed to her brothers. "Wind Claws…seriously?" Wolf asked distastefully as his sister landed. She simply stuck her tongue at him, and blew raspberries at him.

"And what's wrong with Wind Claws?" came a feminine voice from where Penny stood. At her feet stood a black and white female tuxedo cat with white paws, walking close to a white American Shepherd with a patch of black fur in the shape of a lightning bolt on his left side. "Nothing Mommy!" Wolf quickly said and refused to look his mother in the eyes. "He he he he!" the white dog laughed, "You can sure get under Wolf's fur, Mittens." he said to the cat. She smiled and pressed her cheek, whiskers and all against his neck, "Would you like me to teach you how Bolt?" she chuckled. Bolt simply chuckled along and rubbed his chin against the top of her head. "Blech, I hate when Mommy and Daddy get like that." Wolf whispered, and jumped onto the slide. His siblings heard a loud 'Zap', and Wolf stopped at the bottom of the slide, fur sticking every which way. "Ouch!" he squeaked. "Static electricity!" Mike laughed as Hazel looked to him for an answer to what just happened.

Over twenty minutes went by as the three Kits played on the swings and toys. Most times little human children would come by and play with them, others they played by themselves. Near the playground was a thick forested area, one that Wolf continued to glance at when he saw it. "Wolf come on, we're playing hide and seek with Daddy!" Mike shouted at his distracted brother. Wolf turned and smiled, taking off towards his family. "Ok, here are the rules," Bolt exclaimed, "No powers at all, that wouldn't be fair. No tag backs. The playing field is the entire playground, but stay outside ok." he said, only to have Wolf ask, "What about the forest?"

"NO!" Bolt said as he gazed at his son, not in anger but rather knowing all too well that if he didn't make this clear, Wolf would go ahead and do it, "That is out of bounds and off limits." Bolt told him. "Why?" Wolf asked wondering genuinely. "Because there are lots of dangerous creatures in there like Coyotes and other things that will gobble you up without thinking twice about it." his father explained. "Plus that crazy 'Alien nerd' always hangs out there." Mittens piped in as she walked up to the group, before making her way to the bench. "So just promise us you won't go in there." Bolt nearly pleaded. Wolf looked to the ground, "Alright, I promise." he said slightly upset. "Good." Bolt said satisfied, and closed his eyes, "Who would like to be it first?" he asked. Silence dominated his senses, and the moment he opened his eyes, he found himself alone. Dropping his ears he said, "I guess that's me." and turned to count.

Wolf took off across the field, turning and looking for the perfect hiding spot, he quickly spotted a thick bush. Yes, it was close to the forest but it was outside, and it was in the field of play. His father couldn't argue with him getting close right? Right! So he dove right into the bush and crouched down, hiding from the rest. Mike tucked himself behind the basket ball hoop, hopping that the tall grass around it would shield him from the eyes of his father. Hazel ran to her mother, who by now was curled up on the bench next to Penny, "Hide me, hide me!" she laughed and jumped up to the bench, before burying herself in her mother's chest fur. Mittens chuckled a little before she heard her husband shout, "Ready or not here I come!" Then to hide her daughter just a little more, she placed her head down and closed her eyes. Bolt rounded the corner of the monkey bars, and shot a look right at her. He ran up to Mittens and said, "Lift your chin." When she didn't budge, he moved in and kissed her right on the lips, lifting his own head and forcing her to move with him. The moment he broke the kiss, which took longer than it probably should in Penny's opinion, he shot his nose into her chest fur, and effectively pulled out his daughter, Hazel. "How come I'm always the first to get caught?" she asked. In her own daze, Mittens mumbled, "Because you always choose the same hiding place, sweetie" and shook her head to clear he thoughts, and watched her husband take off with her daughter hanging from his mouth. Mittens smiled and dropped her head back into place, "Works every time." she said to herself, enunciating each word.

Wolf watched as his father got close to his hiding spot, so he backed away, getting deeper and deeper into the bush and chuckled quietly. He watched as his father moved his way to the Basket ball post at the end of the grass, crouched down and crept up to the tall grass at the base. Out popped Mike and the little Kit ran as fast as he could, getting his father to chase him with the two of them laughing up a storm. With Bolt out of hearing distance, Wolf let loose with a mighty howl of laughter, just loud enough that Bolt couldn't hear it. Wolf rolled around in his back, effectively going deeper and deeper into the bush until, it seemed as if the ground gave way underneath him when in reality it was just a steep slope. It felt to him as if he fell forever as he tumbled down the hill side, never once able to get to his feet, and…'Bonk' he struck his head against something hard, the last thing he saw was the dark blurry shape of a human standing over him before he fell into unconsciousness.

Almost an hour passed as Bolt looked for his son, calling 'All ye, all ye, oxen free.' and everything else he could think of, until he finally resorted to using his nose. He constantly refrained from using his nose during this kind of game, because he knew he was better at using it then they were, and he wanted to get them to master that technique before he went full on dog mode with them. But in this case, he needed it. Bolt quickly got his son's scent, however faint it was, and followed it to the bush. He half expected to hear Wolf say, 'That's not fair Daddy.' but when it didn't come, he really began to worry. Not caring much about what the bush was, though he got lucky that it wasn't poison oak or something like that, he began searching for his son, using his nose to piece together what had happened. The moment his nose reached the edge of the hill, he panicked, and pulled his head out before jumping over the bush. Bolt misjudged the actual drop of the hill, and found himself tumbling down it himself until he stopped at the bottom five feet later. "Ow!" he said as he lifted himself up. Hissing at the slight pain in his right leg, he only slightly limped before finally regaining his true balance, thankful for his armored fur. Moving back to the base of the slope, Bolt began to sniff the ground again, first the slope and then a rock. He found the rock had the strongest scent to it, and when he actually looked at it, he found just a drop of smeared blood. "Oh gosh!" Bolt said and sniffed the spot again, confirming that it was Wolf's, but he also smelled something else, a human. Sniffing the air, Bolt found the scent of the human and Wolf as the Kit was most likely picked up off of the ground. "I hope he's alive." he said and used a bit of his super strength to jump back to the top of the hill, before turning and grabbing the bush by the trunk in his teeth and ripping it up out of the ground. He then turned and headed back to Mittens to tell her of his findings.

Wolf slowly and painfully opened his eyes, letting the light pour in from the open window next to him and groaned. "So, you're awake." said a calm voice from behind him. Wolf tried to move his head, only to find his entire body laced with pain. "Don't move little alien, you hit your head pretty hard." the voice said, and the person placed his hand on Wolf, gently holding the Kit down. "I'm…not an Alien." the Kit said in a strained voice. "Then what are you?" the voice asked, and moved his hand away. "I'm Wolf,…My daddy's name is Bolt." he said. "Bolt the Super Dog?" the voice asked. Wolf slowly nodded, letting his eyes shut in fatigue, "Then that would mean that your mother is…" Wolf never heard the rest of it, because sleep once again took its hold on him, causing the voice to fade until it had vanished completely.

"WOLF!" Mittens cried out as she searched. Bolt had his nose to the ground, following the scent of the human that had 'Kit-napped' his son, and Penny carried the two worried Kits in her arms. They were now in the streets close by the park, Bolt seemed to be leading them towards what Penny called and Apartment complex. "The buildings and cars are so thick around here; it's hard to get a good fix on anything." Bolt complained. "At least he's not in the forest." Penny said, trying to see the bright side of the situation. Mittens smiled only slightly," Yah, for that we have to be grateful." she said. "I'll be grateful when Wolf is back safe with us." Bolt said and continued to sniff, missing the red 'Wait' signal and almost getting hit by a car. Penny grabbed him and pulled him back just in time. "Hey, slow down you jerk!" Penny yelled at the man while shaking her free fist. "Don't you go getting killed over this Bolt." Mittens warned. "Yes um!" he squeaked. The chirping noise of the cross sign, broke him out of his shock, and he quickly got to his paws, resuming his sniffing search, hoping beyond all hope that his son was alright.

Wolf opened his eyes again, finding it almost impossible to slip back into any kind of rest. "Mommy," he groaned, "Turn off the sun." He half expected his mother to say, 'sorry champ but it's time to learn.' or something like that, but instead he got, "You sure you're not an alien?" from a very unfamiliar voice. Wolf shot his eyes open quickly, and lifted his upper half, twisting his head to look at who was talking. The man that sat in his chair was tall, taller than even what he remembered Ferla to be. His scraggly grey hair made him look as if his head were laced with metal, and his cloths matched what he had seen on TV as the nerd of schools, except that his pants never made it past his hips. The brown and grey beard he sported showed the only signs of his past youth. Though the man had wrinkles, he also had a broad smile across his face, showing sunshine behind his eyes. "Who are you?" Wolf asked in confused panic. "The name's Markus. And you said that your name was Wolf right?" Calming down only slightly, Wolf nodded, finally remembering his previous trip to the waking world. "That was a nasty fall you took for such a little guy." Markus said. Wolf shifted his eyes so that he could look to his forehead, when that didn't work very well, he lifted his right front paw to his forehead, feeling a bandage wrapped around his ears and secured to his head. "Tough as your father I bet, but probably twice as reckless." Markus continued. When Wolf gave him a disapproving frown, the old man chuckled, "You remind me of myself when I was about your age." he said, and walked closer to the little Kit.

At first Wolf tried to scoot back and away, but quickly found that the window he was placed next to was closed. Markus reached down and placed his wrinkled old hands on the head of the small kit, "There now, let's have a look at you." he said as he gently unwrapped the bandage. Once that was done, he softly spread the fur where the injury was, "Looks real good there, almost healed completely. Still a nice big bruise though." Once he was done with that, he gently took the bandage wrap from Wolf, and placed it in the disposal can. Then he moved back to another room, and disappeared from view. Wolf soon found his curiosity growing, and jumped down to the floor. His head disagreed with that little display slightly, and Wolf stood there as his head throbbed, letting the pain die down. When he found the pain quickly fading, he made his way to the room Markus had gone to, finding the old man sitting in a wooden rocking chair, gazing at a picture he held in his hands.

Bolt let his nose guide him, however hard it was to follow the trail, soon coming to face a specific direction. "This apartment is really run down!" Penny said to her dog. "And one of these rooms has my son in them." Bolt almost growled. "Just be careful Bolt, who knows what this guy will do." Mittens said as she followed her husband. "His place is here somewhere." Bolt said, and continued to follow his nose.

"What are you looking at?" Wolf asked as he curiously looked at Markus. "Just an old photo of me and my family." he said and turned the picture to show Wolf. In the picture, he noticed a significantly younger Markus, surrounded by five different happy dogs, a woman and a young boy. The picture was old, and all of the colors were orange so it wasn't easy to see what all of the dogs were, but he noticed two dark furred Labradors, a golden retriever and two other large breed dogs, all full grown. "You had a small family." Wolf said, referring simply to the three humans. Markus laughed out loud, hardy and happy, "The dogs were a part of my family as well you whippersnapper." Wolf's eyes went wide in shock, he had thought that to be a family, you all had to be born together or married. "You could say that the dogs were adopted by us." Markus continued. "But, you aren't even the same species." Wolf said. "Just cause I'm a human and they were dogs, doesn't mean that we weren't family Wolf. A family is a group of people that care deeply about each other enough to look past each other's differences, and love everyone in that family no matter what." Markus told him. Wolf glanced at the picture, 'They're all so different.' he thought to himself. Markus placed the picture down on the table, and attempted to rise. "Well, better get them chores done." he said as he stretched his back. "Let me do them." Wolf said suddenly. "You don't seem like the type that enjoys chores." Markus said to him. "I don't, but you helped me, probably even saved my life. I want to return the favor." he said. Markus simply smile and knelt down to Wolf's level, or as close as he could get, "Tell ya what Wolf, I'll let ya help."

Bolt let his nose take him right up to the door. He really thought it was going to be easy once he got into the complex, but he quickly found that this place tested every skill he had in his nose. He had to sift through almost twenty deferent scents to find the right one, and the corners were even worse. He sometimes found himself turning in circles, but now he was sure that he was at the right door. "It's this one." Bolt whispered to Penny. "Are you sure?" she asked, he had accused almost three different doors so far. "This time for sure." Bolt said with confidence. "Ok." Penny said and shifted the two Kits into one arm and knocked. "Hold on, just a minute." said the voice from behind the door. On the other side was a tall aged man with grey hair and a graying brown beard. "Hey," Penny said, "You're that guy that wanders the forest looking for aliens, aren't you?" With the door open, Bolt took one sniff of the air inside the room, and found Wolf's scent all over it. Before Penny could even speak, Bolt growled loudly, and jumped at the man, effectively pushing the door all the way open and pinning the Markus to the ground. "Where's my son?" he said menacingly. "Bolt, get off of him." Mittens said in surprise. Without taking his eyes off of the old man, Bolt responded with a growl, "Not until I get Wolf back."

"I'm right here Daddy." he heard from the other room, only then did he break eye contact with his target. Quickly Bolt jumped off of Markus' stomach, and ran towards the voice, stopping in shock when he saw Wolf, loading a dish washer. "Hi Daddy!" Wolf said with a smile. "Wha… how…but…" was all Bolt could say as he watched his son willingly do chores for this man. Out at the front door, he heard Markus laugh out loud, "I knew I wanted plush carpet for a reason." Wolf saw his father turn to listen to the man and chuckled, "That's Markus, he's a retired Vetera…Vetera…" Wolf tried to say. "Veterinarian!" Markus finished for him as the rest of them entered into the kitchen. Mittens let her jaw drop to the floor, "Wolf, you're doing dishes." she said. "Yup, and I helped sweep, and clean counters." he said while rushing down to the floor and shutting the washing machine's door. "But, why?" she asked, "You always throw a huge fuss when we ask you to simply clean the sleeping area." Wolf walked right up to his mother and said, "He saved me, I think. He picked me up when I was hurt and patched me up." Bolt dropped his ears to his head and turned to the old man, "I guess I owe you an apology." he said humbly. "Nah!" Markus said waving his hand, "You were just being a dad, I did that very thing once or twice, except the second time was for real instead of a false alarm." he said trailing off into memory. "Your son was kidnapped twice?" Bolt asked simply guessing at the situation. Markus chuckled, "Not my real son, one of my dogs got taken by some neighborhood kids and given a bath as a surprise to me. That one ended better than I thought it would. The second time was real dognappers, oh man were they sorry when me and my boy showed up. They were happy to go with the authorities." Both Bolt and Markus laughed at that, knowing full well what the other would have probably done in that situation, no one messes with a father's family. "But still," Bolt said after he stopped laughing, "I'm sorry I jumped on you."

"And thank you for helping our little adventurer." Mittens said bringing Wolf close to her by using her paw. "Mom!" Wolf complained, but didn't attempt to move away. "My pleasure." Markus said, "Patching up his head brought back some old memories for me."

"What's with the alien rumors?" Penny finally asked. "Markus is hoping to meet the Neutrosians, he wants to teach them how to do what he used to do." Wolf told them. "Yup, never really knew what they were called until I met this feisty little one here." Markus added. Wolf dropped his ears in hope, and lowered his chin nearly to the ground, "Mommy, Daddy, is it ok if I come over once a week to help Markus? He lives all alone and I was thinking…"

"Yah me to!" Mike said in excitement. "How about me?" Hazel asked. Thinking only a little about it, Mittens turned to her husband, and the two of them smiled, "I don't see why not." Bolt said. "Yay!" the three of them shouted. Mike and Hazel jumped down from Penny's arms to stand next to their brother. "Markus, this is my brother Mike and my annoying sister Hazel." he introduced. Hazel turned to him indignantly, "Hey!" she said, causing everyone there to start laughing, eventually she joined in and laughed with them.

"You really jumped on him Daddy?" Wolf asked. The entire family was now in the car, Penny's mother driving them back home. "Well, yah I did. But only because I thought you were in trouble." Bolt admitted. "Wow, I guess even daddies can make mistakes, huh?" Wolf said. "Mommies can to sweetie." Mittens said as she looked down at the two sleeping Kits, Mike and Hazel, "It's just part of life, we just have to learn from those mistakes."

"Good, because I think punishing me for the missing ham yesterday was a mistake." he said confident that his endeavor would work. "Nice try Wolf, but you did get caught eating it. And if we didn't punish you for doing something wrong, you wouldn't learn from it would you?" Bolt said as he chuckled. Wolf dropped his ears in disappointment, it hadn't worked. "What made you think that Markus was a bad guy Daddy?" the Kit asked after a while of silence. Bolt turned to his son, giving Wolf his full attention, "All those rumors of him, I guess we'll just say that he wasn't what he seemed." Bolt said, seeing Wolf smile. The Kit, finally satisfied, plopped his head down to sleep the rest of the way home.

The End