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Untitled Story for Hank

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This story is dedicated to Hank the hunting dog. I didn't know him personally, but I can tell he got a lot of love from his owner, Nan, and deserved every ounce of it. His memory will stay alive in the hearts of everyone who met him, or at least read about him online.

Rest in peace, little buddy. We all love you.

--

"Well, guys, I must say our work payed off. We were aiming for a masterpiece, and that's exactly what we got!"

Phineas, Ferb and Jessie were outside in the yard, admiring their handiwork. A canvas, stretching over twice as tall as the house, was sitting on an even taller easel in the grass. On it, freshly painted, was a portrait of Mona Lisa. Only, Jessie was in charge of the design, so it came out looking more like an alien. Still, all three of them thought it turned out perfect.

"Jess, run inside and get the spray cans so we can sign it. Always sign your work, that way nobody can steal your creativity.

"And," Jessie said with a smirk "In a few years, when we're all rich and famous, even the sketchiest doodle we make will be worth millions."

Phineas snickered "That too."

Jessie turned and went into the front door. She trotted through the living room and up the stairs, whistling to herself. The day could not be going any better: She had finally figured out how to operate the blender on her own, they were planning on going to the movies that evening, and she and her brothers had finished their painting with time to spare. With luck, they could find a gallery big enough to store it in. Jessie skipped down the hall, found the door to her room, and opened it with a flourish. She sucked in a long breath.

Ah, love the smell of spiders in the afternoon...

No, her room didn't have an infestation. Well, not exactly. Everywhere you looked, there were boxes, tanks and cages filled with just about any animal native to a suburban backyard. Among them was a frog named Hailee, a pair of spiders named Jamarion and Alfredo, a small robin named Maximilliano, and a snake named Madeline. Needless to say, Jessie had a thing for animals.

Jessie admired the room happily for a minute, then strode over to her desk, got down on her hands and knees, and started to open it's compartments. After locating the junk drawer that she assumed contained the spray paint (Jessie had terrible organizing skills) she reached in and began to fish around. While doing so she glanced up at the cage above her head.

"Hey, Octavius, how's it goin'?"

Octavius was her rat. He had been one of her first pets, saved from her rat-despising sister after he had been found gnawing on her homework, and had since been used to pull many pranks. He was also very smart: He apparently knew his name, because he'd always came when she called. She was so used to this, she didn't even need to look at him, expecting to hear the rustling of the bedding of his cage as he scampered over to her and squeaked, but strangely she didn't. She didn't hear anything, other than Maximilliano chirping. She stood up, her hand closed around the spray can she finally managed to find, and peered into the cage. Octavius was asleep, curled into a little brown ball in the corner. Jessie turned to leave, about to return to the yard, then did a double-take. Two things concerned her: One, Octavius should have woken up at the sound of her voice, since he recognized it, and two, she remembered seeing him in that exact spot earlier that morning. He hadn't moved a single hair since. Jessie, growing worried, opened the cage lid and looked down at the silent furry lump. He still didn't move. Was he sick?

"Octavius, are you okay?"

Nothing.

"Octavius...?"

She reached in the cage and prodded his back gently with her finger. Still no movement.

Sweat beaded on Jessie's forehead. Something was wrong, horribly wrong. No way would Octavius just ignore her like that unless he wasn't in good health.

"Octavius, talk to me, bud. Can you hear me?"

She felt his fur again, then realized it was cold. Bone cold. The spray can fell to the floor with a clatter.

"No..."

She grabbed him gently in her hand and lifted him out of the cage. He was completely limp. Not a single whisker moved.

"No..."

She held him in her cupped hands and stared at him. For an entire minute she stood there, letting everything sink in. She didn't want to accept what had happened, she wanted to close her eyes and pretend it was just a bad dream, but she wasn't a little kid anymore, she understood what eventually happened to every living thing. He was gone. Gone, and never coming back.

Jessie's breath grew shallow. She sank silently to her knees, tears splashing onto the rat's glossy brown fur.

"No...no, not you, Octavius...Please don't...don't leave..."

But she couldn't continue. She knew it was it pointless. She hugged the lifeless rodent against her chest, closed her eyes, and sobbed.

--

"Ferb, would you mind going and seeing what Jessie's up to? She's taking an awful long time getting those cans."

Ferb gave him a thumbs up and went to the front door. He smiled to himself as he went up the stairs to Jessie's room. He didn't smile that often, but today was a particularly nice day. He had good reason to smile. He climbed up the stairs, taking every other step. When he reached the top, though, he heard something that made him stop dead. Through the door that she had left open, Ferb could hear, quite clearly, the sound of Jessie crying. This shocked him, since Jessie hardly ever did cry.

Jessie, what's the matter? he called with his mind.

She didn't answer, which was very unlike her.

Concerned, he ran to the room, and flung open the door. He found his sister weeping whole-heartedly into the top of her desk, her face hidden in her arms. Ferb looked at her, confused and slightly scared, but then he saw what was on the desk. It was brown, hairy and completely lifeless. That rat that Jessie liked to sneak into his bed at night...what was his name again? Octopus? No, Octavius. Jessie had found Octavius dead.

Ferb didn't really know what to think. He'd never exactly liked that rat, particularly since he'd stolen his snack or wrench on more than one occasion, so he didn't exactly feel like grieving, but on the other hand, Jessie seemed so miserable...

Ferb knelt by his twin's side and wrapped an arm around her. She looked up at him, tears rolling out of her eyes, but didn't speak.

"Aw, Jessie, I'm sorry." He spoke out loud this time. He wanted her to hear him. "I know he meant a lot to you."

Jessie sniffled and wiped her eyes with the heel of her hand.

"He...he w-was p-perfectly okay y-yesterday" Her voice was breaking like glass. "I...I dunno w-what...what..." Her voice trailed off into a sob.

"C'mere..."

Ferb put his other arm around her and hugged her. She buried her face in his shoulder and just cried, tears drenching through his shirt.

"He had a good long life, Jess." He said, patting her on the back. "I'm sure he was happy."

"B-but...I h-had plans on...on t-teaching h-him how to...t-to dance..."

Ferb cracked a little grin. His sister had the most unusual aspirations.

"Well, I'm sure angels have all the dance teaching abilities you do, Jess, I bet he's practicing up there as we speak."

It was quiet for a while, save for the sound Jessie's muffled sobs, then:

"F-Ferb?"

"Hmm?"

"I...Is Octavius in heaven?"

Ferb thought about that for a bit, then:

"I reckon so, Jess. I can't see any reason why he wouldn't, and I tend to have good insight."

Jessie took a few deep breaths. It took her a while, but she calmed down a bit.

"Listen, Jess," Ferb said quietly "I know it hurts right now, and I get that. He was a special friend to you. But everybody on earth is blessed with a system that ensures that nothing at all ever dies off for real. It's called a memory. And Octavius will stay alive in there as long as you want him to And besides, you're gonna see him again, some day."

She blew her nose on his collar.

"Th-thanks, Bro."

"Don't mention it, Sis."

Footsteps sounded in the hall.

"Seriously, Jessie, how long does it take to-"

Phineas had appeared in the door, slight miffed with impatience, but stopped as soon as he saw the scene in the room.

"Um...what's...going..."

Ferb looked up, then silently gestured to his right. Phineas looked, saw what was on the desk, and understood.

"Oh..."

Phineas looked a lot like how Ferb had felt when he had entered the room: Like he didn't know what to say. He hadn't really gotten to know Octavius, unless you count getting him caught in your clothes getting to know him, so he didn't have anything at all to input.

So what he did next wasn't out of likeness for the rat, but out of compassion for his sister.

He walked over to the two, got down on his knees, put and hand on her shoulder and said:

"Want me to bury him?"

An all-too familiar smile finally returned to Jessie's face.

--

The "service" was short. Jessie decided to bury her pet by the toadstool by the side of the house, since that was where she had found him for the first time after Candace had chased him outside. It only took four shovelfuls for Phineas to make a hole big enough for the jam jar Jessie was using for Octavius's coffin. After laying the little vermin to rest, Jessie put a brick on top of the little mound for a head stone. Written on it in permanent marker were the words:

Octavius Flynn-Fletcher

Part of the family from March 20, 2011 - August 2, 2012

Best rat a girl could have.

Goodbye, little guy. I love you.

Jessie stood in front of the rat's grave for a minute or two, then knelt in front of it and lay a slice of salami on top of the grave as if it were a bouquet of flowers. Salami was Octavius's favorite food. The boys stood behind her, side by side. Phineas, who was admittedly feeling a little downcast, glanced over at his brother, who, if he wasn't mistaken, appeared to be tearing up.

"Ferb, are you crying?

"W-wha?" Ferb turned away very quickly and rubbed his eye. "No, of course not!"

Phineas smirked and gave him a manly around-the-shoulders hug.

"Whatever you say, Bro."

Jessie stood, and turned around. Her eyes were still a little red, but she seemed considerably happier.

"Thanks guys."

Both of them pulled her into another hug.

"Well, you loved that little guy. It was the least we could do."

"Want to catch that movie now?" Jessie asked when they let go.

Phineas grinned and gave her a friendly little punch in the shoulder.

"Want buttered or caramel corn?"

"You dare answer my question with a question..."

"Why yes, yes I do!"

They continued this all the way through the yard and out the front gate, just in time to miss Candace dashing in to expose the enormous picture they'd painted which, for some mysterious reason, was now about the size of an average painting.

"B-b-b-b-but it...it was...it..." she stuttered.

Mom, who looked very impressed by the painting, not so impressed by Candace, told her it was probably best for her to join her siblings at the movies. And since she had literally nothing else to do, she agreed.

"C-r-c-r-c-r..."

"Oh, there you are, Perry. Did you see what happened to the giant painting?"

".....C-r-c-r-c-r-c-r."

The End

--

We consider every day a plus

To spend it with this lovable mutt

If you wonder why we're ecstatic

It's 'cause he's a Pn'F addict

Our lovable mixed Canis Lupus

Brings smiles to the both of us

Life's never fuddie duddy with our wet-nosed buddy

When we're brushing our teeth, It's better

Putting on our boots, It's better

Combing our hair, It's better

Like we're a flower tortilla and he's the beans

Putting on our glasses, It's better

Breathing in and out, It's better

Sitting on a couch, It's better

And taking a bath is just a little bit wetter

Every day is such a dream

When you start it with a half-breed dog

He's long-nosed and he's scruffy tailed and hairy

Everything's better with Hank

(Everything's better with Hankie)

Everything's better with Hank

(Everything's better with Hankie)

Everything's better with Hank

(Everything's better with Hankie)

Everything's better and we

Just want to tell you Hank

Everything's better with you!

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