I need you, stupid dog...

Characters based on cartoon Courage The Cowardly Dog. My personal version of why Eustace hates Courage. (He is Eustace, She is Muriel.)

Chapter 1

Hurting To Love

His eyes were closed over his tired squinted eyes, the lines around his face were deep and made obvious by the soft moonlight creeping from the window in the bedroom.

His thick bumpy tongue lulled back into his throat, causing him to snore out of his aged, parched lips. His weak bones moved on their own to grab the thin bedsheets and pull them closer, which woke his partner.

Blinking in confusion, the large woman sat up in bed, gave him one long look, then faced her gaze to the end of the bed. Her facial expression changed from a sleepy, worn gaze to a happy, accepting one when she saw the small pink dog smiling in its sleep as it rested contently on the quilt.

Such a good dog, she thought, hugging her blanket to her chest to get comfortable. Quite suddenly, a warm pain curled into her bladder, and she groaned. I have to use bathroom! she thought excitedly.

She gave her husband another look, watched his small frame rise and fall, rumbling like distant thunder with every breath. Hoping she doesnt disturb him, she reached across to her desk and put on her thick glasses.

Hastily, she shoved the blankets away and steps her frail feet onto the cold, wooden floor, waking her partner without realizing it. She hesitated half-on the bed to slide her feet into the pink slippers that waited, then stood up and started to leave the room.

Grumbling upon waking, the man in bed swung his head around in the dim light, trying to figure out why he woke up. Seeing his wife tip-toeing out of the bedroom, he clamped his teeth angrily and said, "Muriel! What are ya doin' out of bed!?"

The pink dog woke up with a jolt from the man's harsh tone, and watched the woman with its mouth hung open.

The woman was at the door by now, and she turned back to her husband with anxious eyes and said, "Oh, I didn't mean t' wake ya, Eustace. But I have to use the bathroom!"

Frowning, the man waved an arm in the air, the other cliching in a fist by his side. "Gaarh!" he said irritably. He shoved his head into the pillow and said, no more kindly, "Well hurry up then!"

Smiling weakly, the old woman left the room, closing the door mid-way behind her.

The dog on the edge of the bed glanced over to man anxiously, feeling his tension.

"Stupid dog..." muttered the man, not even looking at it.

Shocked, the pink dog whimpered and ducked his head deeper into the quilt, not wanting to draw attention to itself.

The man then threw away his covers, snatched his own glasses from his desk, put them on, and gave the dog a savage teeth-baring snarl. He got out of bed and walked over to the dog, which cowered in place, shivering.

"She always like you best!" he growls at the dog, pointing a trembling finger at it. "Used to it would be just me and her, her making money off of pies and quilts, and me out of my farming. Then the weather got bad, and the soil dried up, but we still had her cookin'..."

Nervous and nearly blubbering, the pink dog stared up at the man with wide eyes.

The man's frown deepened into a more thoughtful one, his hand moving to scratch his chin, and he spoke, saying, "Come to think of it, my life before Muriel was just living with my Maw who hated my guts. Muriel was my life saver..." His anger rose, and he pointed once more. "My life was fine until you came along and gave her a reason to hate me!" his tone broke at the end, his expression falling into self-pity.

Putting a hand to his chest, the old man said, "You gave her something other than hatred and selfishness; I couldn't help being who I am; I love Muriel, but with only getting negativity and bad remarks from my Maw, and with my Paw leavin' when I was so little...I couldn't help but be this way! It's not my fault..."

The pink dog sat up and alert, its head tilted, listening.

"But when you came..." a dark shadow passed across his face. "You showed her a way out; you gave her something to love that expected nothin' in return. I only gave her love born from anger and abuse...but I'd never hurt her; that's what you're here for."

At that last comment, the dog's ears flew up in fear, and it backed away.

The man didn't seem to notice, and continued. "You're my wood to burn when I need some kind of release... I never needed you until you came along and put me in this state of rage. You take all of Muriel's love from me... and when I cant stand it anymore, I crack. I'm only human...and you're..."

Sighing, the man looked away, to the bedroom door. Somewhere, a toilet flushed. He sighed again and looked at the terror-stricken dog. "...you're just a stupid dog." he told it. With a short, sad laugh, the man gave the dog a soft rub on the head before returning to bed.

As soon as his glasses were off and neatly placed on the desk, the old woman entered the room, all smiles, and she kissed the pink dog as she passed by, saying, "Goodnight, Courage!" and she climbed into bed, kicking her slippers off with hushed thuds.

There was silence for two long minutes, in which the dog laid awake with wide eyes, listening to the man's subtle snoring and the old woman's sweet sleeping breaths. The dog kept its ears on the soft sounds the woman made, and was put to sleep.

The moon rose high in the sky as the night wore on: eventually, the moon began to sink, and the world was placed into utter darkness until the sun decided to show its heated face.

And late in the night, the dog was woken by the muted, broken whimpers of an old man crying.

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