If the entire afternoon hadn't been depressing enough, Featherpen was forced to return to an empty house, a house he couldn't even find the damned bathroom in yet. Stacy and Kevin had gotten it less than a month ago. Stacy's grandparents had given it to the happy couple as a gift. Though Kevin had privately told Featherpen and Dave that he hated the thought that his wife's family seemed to think he couldn't support her. Despite his years of partying, Kevin had never been one to be reckless with his money. He hadn't been exactly happy about the house, but Stacy had been. And for Kevin, she was the center of his universe. He was willing to deal with his stung pride.

Featherpen didn't really understand that level of sacrifice. He'd do just about anything to keep his friends and his family safe, but he wanted to be happy; he wasn't going to let them be happy instead of him so easily. But then, he didn't have Kevin's pride; he would have just accepted the paid for house as a gift and let it go. After all, it was a new house, completely free of any payments. If Kevin and Stacy ended up having kids the mortgage money they would have paid could go to pay their kids' college. At least, that was the point Dave made, ever acting as an accountant.

Featherpen shrugged off all thoughts of weddings and houses. He needed to go pick up his pets before he went over to his friend's house. They needed to be fed, and Featherpen wasn't going through the inconvenience and extra time it would take to go between his apartment and Kevin's house every day to take proper care of his pets. Fred needed a walk, and Honey didn't really need anything, though she'd probably go along for the ride.

By the time he'd left the airport, Featherpen had no choice except to follow every other car leaving the city down the highway. There was of course the obligatory accident and corresponding snarl in traffic as they three lanes narrowed down to two. He drove off the nearest exit, hoping to somehow avoid the traffic. He had limited success, the cars moved twice as quickly down local roads though he was often stopped by the traffic lights, and soon enough he found himself on the outskirts of the city at his apartment complex.

Tentatively he climbed the stairs, keeping a careful grip on the rusted stair railing. Making his way up, he passed four stair landings. At the fifth, he paused and went through the doorway, watching out for anyone coming the opposite way. Halfway down the hall he found his oddly labeled door, its red paint faded by the sunlight emerging from windows at opposite ends of the hall. Underfoot, the cement was cool; he could feel it even through his shoes.

At the door, he pulled his keys from his pocket, only to hear the jangle of another set of keys falling to the ground. Hearing Fred begin to run through the apartment, nails clacking on tile and metal tags clashing together caused Featherpen to sigh; he bent down and retrieved the second set of keys, shoving them into his pocket. Picking through his own key ring, he picked out the correct key with an ease belying years of practice. The plain bronze colored key was simple; it's only marking the brand of the key cutter and the number 516. Unlocking the door, he heard Fred panting from the other side. Obediently, the dog remained silent. Upon opening the door though, Featherpen was nearly pushed back into the hall by the dog jumping up onto him. He closed the door and pushing the dog back into a sitting position in one motion, turning the deadbolt behind him before walking into his tiny kitchen.

More than anything else, he felt uneasy knowing that this would be the last time he would be at his apartment for the majority of the month.


A/n: My apologies for a thoroughly pointless chapter. On the bright side, there'll be romance and warm fuzzies in a chapter or two.