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Sasha's Aunt?
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                    All Dogs go to Heaven
               Little Memories of a Beautiful Life

                    Episode 9: "Sasha's Aunt?"

                        Starring:
                 Charlie B. Barkin & Sasha La Fleur
                 Bess
                 Flo
                 Jenna & Balto

Flea Bite Cafe
9:15 AM

Sasha La Fleur was fixing a vase with flowers to put on the counter of the Cafe. Zinnias were in season, and she had picked a bunch of them from the little flower garden of their house.
Charlie B. Barkin was down in the storage room organizing things so that they could have more space to store new goods. After a while, he came out for a breath of air.
"Whew",said Charlie",now we've got more room down there".
"Great",said Sasha", How does the counter look, Charlie?"
"It looks perfect!",said Charlie.

Sasha had thought of placing a little aromatic candle on each table today, just to make things look different. But when she opened the drawer beside her, she discovered that they were out of matches.
"Oh dear",said Sasha",no more matches. I guess I'll have to go get some".
"You don't worry about a thing, Sashy. I'll go buy some matches from Sidney's right now",said Charlie, going towards the entrance",I'll be right back".

Charlie left for Sidney's.
"Oh, Charlie. Always ready to help",thought Sasha happily",you're the greatest."

Sasha went back to her cleaning, humming a tune she had always liked.

San Francisco Alleys
9:20 AM

"Hmm, this must be the place."

An elderly female Irish Setter wearing an old fasion round, blue hat with a daisy sticking out of the top and a hand bag hanging from her neck was standing in front of the Flea Bite Cafe entrance. She looked back to see if anyone was watching her, but she saw no one. She entered the place and shot mysterious glances at everything around.

Flea Bite Cafe
9:21 AM

Sasha had just finished cleaning the counter, and was sitting on one of the high stools, waiting for Charlie to return. Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of someone. She turned, and saw the old setter.
"Is this the Flea Bite Cafe?",asked the stranger.
"Why, yes",said Sasha",it is. Welcome."

The setter raised her head, and exclaimed in surprise.
"Sasha!",she said excitedly",my dear lass, how have you been?!"

Sasha was a little confused.
"Pardon me. Do I know you?",asked Sasha, jumping off the stool and walking cautiously towards the setter.
"Of course you do, my sweetling, it's been years since I don't see you",said the setter",don't you remember me?"

Sasha tried to recollect, but she couldn't.
"Sorry, but, I don't remember",said Sasha.
"It's me",said the setter",your mumma's sister, aunt Susan!"
"Aunt Susan?",said Sasha.

Sasha's aunt gave her a big hug.
"I've wondered all these years what had happened to you, my dear child",said the aunt",and now I finally found you!"

Now it seemed that Sasha did remember. Or so she thought.
"My aunt Susan",said Sasha, with a smile.
"Yes, deary",said her aunt.

Sasha felt vaguely happy. She had never known any of her relatives. She had never known she had any relatives at all. This was a big surprise.
"Wait till Charlie comes back",thought Sasha",won't he be surprised!".
"Are you all right, deary?",asked Sasha's aunt",Where do you live? Are you eating well? You look a little quite too thin if you ask me."
"I'm okay, auntie",said Sasha",I live a very happy life now. And all thanks to a very special person that you'll meet soon."

Sasha offered her a seat. But her aunt refused to sit.
"I'll just stay here, deary",said Aunt Susan",by the way, this place is pretty plain if you ask me. Who owns it?"
"I do",said Sasha",together with that special someone you'll meet soon."
"Hmmm",mussed Aunt Susan",I think I'll just sit and wait after all."

Sasha's aunt sat down, looking at her surroundings.
Just then, Charlie came in through the main entrance.
"Sashy!",called out Charlie",I got the matches for you!"

Aunt Susan was up in an instant.
"Hey there, you mutt!",said Aunt Susan sharply",what do you mean by 'Sashy'? A little more respect, lad!"

Charlie was confused. Sasha was by his side immediatly.
"Aunt",said Sasha",it's okay. He always calls me that way. I, I like it."
"Humpf!",said her aunt.
"Aunt?",asked Charlie, very surprised.

Sasha smiled.
"Yes,"she said",Charlie, she is my aunt Susan. I was surprised too!"

Aunt Susan just glared at Charlie.
"I never knew my mother had a sister",said Sasha; then she stopped smiling, and went a little gloomy",to say the truth, I never knew my mother at all. Just that I must have one".

Charlie put his arm around Sasha's shoulder to confort her. Sasha looked up at his eyes and smiled again thankfully. Unfortunately, her aunt didn't like this gesture at all.
"And just who is this grungy alley mutt!?",demanded Aunt Susan.

Sasha looked surprised at her.
"Aunt",said Sasha",don't speak that way."

Aunt Susan looked only mildly amused. Sasha put her arm around Charlie's high shoulder.
"Aunt Susan",said Sasha",I want you to meet a very special person. This is Charlie B. Barkin. He's my..."

Aunt Susan interrupted.
"Let me guess",she said",he's a bus boy, or some waiter, like".

Sasha shook her head. She held Charlie's big paw in her own little one.
"No, aunt",said Sasha, looking sweetly at Charlie", he's my..."

Suddenly, seeing Sasha and Charlie holding paws, Aunt Susan went crimson.
"Wait a minute!",she said sternly",young lady, you're not trying to tell me that this ugly, grungy, overgrown lug mutt is your fiancee, are you?"

Sasha looked unaffected by her aunt's words.
"Well",she said plainly",if that's the way you want to put it, then, yes, he is".

Her aunt gave Charlie a dirty look.
"Oh, you poor girl",said Aunt Susan",there are so many bad influences in the streets, I didn't imagine you'd fall for one of them. I must say I'm upset and dissapointed. And your mother would be dissapointed too, I'm certain, if she knew".

Sasha found this a little annoying.
"Auntie",said Sasha",I doubt mom would be dissapointed if she knew; quite the other way around, she would be proud and happy for me. Please, aunt, you can't just come and say things like that about someone you don't know. I'm surprised at you".

Charlie felt uncomfortable about being the reason of such argle-bargle.
"Please, please",said Charlie, trying to stop the conflict",let's not get into any unnecesary arguments. Sasha, I brought the matches. Why don't you get things ready, okay? I'll offer your aunt a seat and perhaps something to drink, that way we can all settle down".

Sasha knew Charlie's words were noble.
"Okay, Charlie",said Sasha with a smile",thanks for getting me the matches."
"You're welcome",Charlie said, giving her the little box.

Sasha took the matches, and gave Charlie a soft kiss on his cheek to show her aunt that she wasn't going to pay any heed to what she said.
Aunt Susan just glared. Charlie just smiled.
"Well, aunt Susan",said Charlie",won't you have a seat, please?"
"I'm not your aunt, you filthy mutt!",growled Aunt Susan",you will address me as ma'am."
"Yes, ma'am",said Charlie.

Charlie sat behind the counter and Aunt Susan sat on one of the stools.
"Guess I'm just gonna have to put up with you",snarled Aunt Susan.
"Would you like something to drink?",asked Charlie.
"Yeah",said Aunt Susan",gimme some o' the hard stuff".

Charlie looked uncertain.
"Pardon me?",said Charlie.
"A mug of ale, you twit, or whisky, or maybe a glass of gin'll do nicely",said Aunt Susan.
"I'm sorry, ma'am",said Charlie",but we don't serve alcoholic beverages here. But, would you like some coffee?"

Aunt Susan looked scornfully at Charlie.
"What do you mean by that!",demanded Aunt Susan",what kind of a place is this anyway?!"
"A sane place, perhaps",said Charlie.
"Aww, piffle",said Aunt Susan",you're no good at all. Luckily, I always got some strong stuff with me in m' hand bag".

Aunt Susan took a little metal bottle of whisky from her purse, which hung from her neck, and had a drink. Charlie held his breath, and looked away. If there was something he hated, it was alcohol, for it brought him unpleasent memories.
"Ahh!",said Aunt Susan",nuthin' like a nice drink to make one feel great and sturdy, don't you agree, lad?!"
"No, I don't",said Charlie plainly.
"Humpf",scorned Aunt Susan",you wouldn't".

At that moment, Bess came into the place.
"Hello Charlie!",said Bess",Hello Sasha!".
"Hello, Bess",said Charlie",glad you could come."
"Hi Bessie",said Sasha, lighting the aromatic candles.

Aunt Susan glared at Bess.
"Yet another alley mutt",scorned Aunt Susan.

Bess was confused.
"Aunt!",said Sasha, coming towards them",please, cut that out. This is our friend, Bess."
"You are Sasha's aunt?",asked Bess.
"I darn well am her aunt!",answered Aunt Susan",and it's a good thing I'm around to keep things in order."

Bess didn't say a word. Sasha had finished lighting the candles, and a nice, minty scent swirled around the place.
"Charlie",said Sasha",what do you say if I take my aunt home to settle down?"
"Great. Maybe we can show her around the city later, too",suggested Charlie.
"Yeah. Come on, aunt. I'll show you where we live",said Sasha.

Aunt Susan suddenly went crimson again.
"WE? What do you mean by we?",demanded Aunt Susan.
"We have a house not far from here",said Sasha",and we live in it."
"Don't muddle me with more we's, young lady. You and who else live there!?",snapped Aunt Susan.
"Me, and Charlie, of course",said Sasha plainly.

Aunt Susan exploded.
"So on top of being this dirty mutt's slave in this sloppy cafe, forcing you to be his girlfriend, on top of all that, you have to live with him too?!!!",shouted Aunt Susan, glaring fiercely at Charlie",you low lived, slimy leech! How dare you force my niece to live in such a miserable condition! And now, as soon as she takes me to your house and is out of the scene, you'll be flirting with this other sloppy mutt you call 'Sissie' or 'Missie', or whatever..."
"AUNT!",yelled Sasha",STOP THAT!"

Aunt Susan was silenced, but she sill glared hatefully at Charlie.
"Aunt",said Sasha sternly",please, calm down and behave, will you! In first place, I chose to be Charlie's girlfriend because I truly wanted to, and I chose to live together with him because I wanted to, in fact, it was my idea! Why, you ask? Because I love him. I love him more than anyone else in the entire universe. I simply adore him! Can't you understand that, aunt?! In second place, Charlie NEVER, EVER disrespected me! What's more, nobody has ever respected me more than Charlie. He is the sweetest dog in the whole world, aunt, he is the best! And in third place, Bess is our friend! She is a very kind person and a very good friend! You have no right to say those terrible things about any one of them, and especially Charlie!"

Aunt Susan's expression didn't change. Sasha had finished, Charlie looked a little uncomfortable, Bess looked confused.
"Are you done, deary",asked Aunt Susan.
"Yes, aunt, I said everything I had to say",answered Sasha",and I suggest you think about all the things you had just heard. Wait for me outside, please".

Aunt Susan went out through the gates, giving the whole place a last dirty look. Sasha went towards Charlie.
"I'm sorry, Charlie",said Sasha",I just don't know what's with her."
"Oh, don't worry Sasha",said Charlie",family is family."
"She's just not used to us yet",said Bess",she'll be fine in a few days. You'll see."
"That is, if I can put up with her for a few days",said Sasha.

They laughed.
"I'll take her home",said Sasha",don't worry about a thing."
"Sasha, take this, just in case",said Charlie, handing her a miraculous tag.
"Thank you, Charlie",Sasha said, kissing him and accepting the tag",see you later."

Sasha and her aunt left. Bess was very curious about the whole thing.
"Charlie",asked Bess",is she really Sasha's aunt?."
"I'm afraid so",said Charlie",and, honestly, I think we're going to have a really difficult weekend."

Canine's Household
9:40 AM

Sasha and her aunt were just arriving. Sasha opened the house door with her key.
Just then, Jenna and Balto came towards them. They had gone on a morning stroll at the park.
"Hi, Sasha",said Jenna cheerfully.
"Hi, Jenna",said Sasha",Hi Balto."

Aunt Susan said nothing, yet.
"Aunt Susan",said Sasha",I'd like you to meet our friends. This is Jenna, and Balto. Guys, this is my aunt Susan."
"Your aunt?,"said Jenna",my, what a pleasent surprise."
"Pleased to meet you ma'am ",said Balto politely, holding out his big paw for her to shake.

Aunt Susan just snorted and glared at them.
"Yet more mangy mongrels",said Aunt Susan.

Jenna and Balto were a little confused. Sasha was furious.
"Let's get inside, shall we, deary",said Aunt Susan, ignoring the couple.
"Excuse me, please",Sasha said to Jenna and Balto. She violently shoved her aunt inside the house and slammed the door shut.

"AUNT!",yelled Sasha",WILL YOU STOP ALL THAT CHILDISH BEHAVIOR!!!"

Her aunt just glanced, undisturbed.
"First you say rotten things about Charlie,"said Sasha",then Bess, and now this?! You humiliate me in front of my friends? What harm have they done?! Are you listening!!!"

Her aunt still didn't react. Sasha saw that all the ruckus was useless.
"Okay. It's hopeless. I'll show you the guest room, and you can settle down",said Sasha more calmly",but first, I must go outside a moment..."

Sasha opened the door and went out to where Jenna and Balto were.
"Uh, guys, I'm sorry",said Sasha",my aunt is new here, and she is a little bad tempered. Sorry if she offended you."
"No sweat, Sasha",said Jenna",family is like that sometimes."
"She's just new in the neighborhoor",said Balto",in a couple of days she'll be just dandy".
"I'll be surprised if I can put up with her for a couple of days",said Sasha",but thanks for the encouragement".
"You're welcome",said Balto.

They said goodbye, and walked their way.
"See you later, Sasha",said Jenna smiling.
"Bye guys",said Sasha",take care."

Sasha went back inside. Fortunately, her aunt was in the same place were Sasha had left her.
"Please, auntie",said Sasha",don't make anymore scenes like that one, okay!"

Aunt Susan just nodded.
"The guest room is over here",said Sasha, walking down the hall",I hope you find it confortable."

Aunt Susan followed behind Sasha. Sasha told her the house was always very clean and tidy, thanks to Charlie's efforts. Aunt Susan just listened, not really paying much heed to her niece's words.
"Well, here we are",said Sasha, opening a door at the end of the hall.

The guest room was indeed very nice. It had a soft bed, left behind by the past human inhabitants, a rug and a little bureau against one of the walls. Aunt Susan was quite impressed.
"I must say, deary, this room is very quaint",she said",I'll be just fine here."

Sasha was glad that her aunt was pleased. It was the first thing her aunt liked in all the day.
"I'll leave you alone for a while, so you can settle down",said Sasha",I'll be back soon."

Sasha left, closing the door behind her. Aunt Susan was left alone.
"Hmmm",mussed Aunt Susan",you do have a happy life, deary, but not for long".

There was a little flash of fire in her eyes. Yes, her eyes literally flashed with flames. What were the old Setter's intentions, was she a Setter at all? What was with her criticizing everyone? Only time would tell.

Sasha returned after a while with a tray of cookies for her aunt. She sat and on knocked on the door with her free paw. Aunt Susan opened it, and Sasha offered her aunt the cookies.
"Oh, for me, deary? You shouldn't have",said Sasha's aunt.
"Help yourself, aunt",said Sasha smiling.

Aunt Susan ate a cookie, remarking that it tasted fairly good. Sasha was about to tell her that Charlie had baked those cookies, but she thought better about it. Her aunt seemed to be different when there was no one but Sasha near.
"It's as if she didn't like me to be surrounded by people I love",thought Sasha",as if she wanted me for herself."

Her aunt looked a lot more calm.
"Come inside, dear",said Aunt Susan",sit on the bed. I will tell you something."
Sasha came in and sat. Her Aunt Susan ate another cookie, apparently liking it very much. Then, after a while, she started to tell Sasha a very curious story.

Aunt Susan's Story

"Sasha, it was long ago that your mother and I lived together with our owners. Life was very pleasent indeed in these times. People were nicer and the city was safer. But, shortly after your mother met your father one day, I was sold to a family and moved to New Hampshire. Your mother was sad, but I told her not to worry, that I would return someday. Being sad wasn't good for her in those days. She was expecting younglings. I promised I would return to her soon, and left. Well, after a time I knew that my sister had born a single youngling, you. When she saw you, so sweet and little, so tiny, she only wished her husbund was there. But he wasn't. You see, your father had disappeared one day, just as fast as he had come and your mother never heard anything about him. She knew that she should take care of the child, but her feelings betrayed her. She also knew that a fatherless child was sometimes doomed to grow and become unhappy. She ran away from home one day, leaving you behind with the human owners, seeking her lost husband. And, that was the last time anyone saw your mother. She disappeared, together with her lost love.
I lived across the country, and found out about this far too late. You had been raised by humans, and even though you recieved a lot of affection, you were never complete without your parents.
 One day there was a great earthquake that devastated the entire city. The house in which your owners lived collapsed. The humans were saved, but late did the children remember that their little puppy was inside still. Well, you were thought to be dead. Your owners restored their lives away from this city, they traveled to Denver as soon as they could. But, it seemed that you survived that great tremor. That's all I know. I was far away, and I found this out months after it all happened. And all was done."

Canine's Household
10:00 AM

"That's the tale of your past",said Aunt Susan",too much a lass to remember you were. But it's all so".

Sasha's eyes were looking into far away thoughts. She had never imagined that all those things happened to her, even if she didn't recollect. But faintly, the way her aunt told her with such detail and so solomnly, she did seem to remember, or so she thought. It was all so blurry.
"Now",said her aunt",how you survived and fought the cruel life, only you know".
"Yes",said Sasha",I lived a very empty, loveless life. I can still remember clearly what I used to feel everytime I looked at my reflection. I felt so sad, so insecure, so unprotected. But, it all changed one day, and my life lightened up one day, when I met Charlie..."

Sasha suddenly remembered not to mention Charlie, but it was too late.
"Humf",her aunt said",well, whatever..."
"Whew!",thought Sasha, filled with relief. She expected her aunt to start saying mean and untrue things about Charlie.
"Well, my dear lass",said her aunt",there is one detail I skipped. When I came back home, I found an old letter. It was from my sister, who's name I have forgotten, and it was for me. It told me to please take care of you, and be your foster mother if she never returned. And now, I have found you, my child, and I'm going to take good care of you and make sure you live a happy life, away from all the bad influences and dangers, and protect you with my life if necessary..."
"Thanks aunt, but Charlie already beat you to it",thought Sasha, thinking of how much Charlie loved her and took care of her and several times gave his life to protect her, fortunately being saved everytime.
"We have a lot to talk about, dear",continued Aunt Susan.
"Yeah",agreed Sasha",but we can talk again another time. Now we must go to the Cafe. I have to help Charlie with the customers."

Her aunt snorted at the name "Charlie".
"Eh, well",said Aunt Susan",I'll tag along with you, m'dear. Shall we?"

Sasha and her aunt got up, and started their journey back to the Cafe.

Flea Bite Cafe
10:20 AM

Sasha and her aunt arrived at the Cafe, and found everything in order. Charlie and Bess managed the place quite well. Her aunt seemed to change instantly when she saw her niece's boyfriend. She glared fiercely at Charlie, who was attending the customers at the counter. Bess was nearby, taking trays to the tables. They both were very busy, and failed to notice the newcomers. Aunt Susan took this wrongly.
"I'm not surprised! Of course you would ignore us, you slimy leech!",shouted Aunt Susan",you're too busy keeping your eye on that 'Missie' there! Hah! What did I tell you, Sasha".
"AUNT!",cried Sasha",We were so fine until we arrived here! And now you start to act up again!"

Charlie looked up surprised. He saw the two setters, one old and grouchy, the other young and pretty, both looking stern.
"Hello ma'am, hello Sa...",Charlie was cut off by the old setter.
"Don't 'hello' my niece, you dirty alley mutt!",said Aunt Susan",Now you want to pretend that nothing happened, hah!, You, you're the worst of the worst!"

The customers looked with startled faces at the old setter. Some of the more prudent ones paid and left before anything unpleasent happened. Others stayed and watched.
"Aunt, please",said Sasha",stop making such a scene".

Bess came up to them.
"Why don't you sit down, ma'am",said Bess politely",you seem to be a bit unwell..."
"I'm perfectly well, young lady",snapped Aunt Susan",now you get out of my sight. I can't bare to see any of you."

Sasha lost her patience.
"Aunt",Sasha said",please! Quiet down! You're startling the customers!"

The customers went back to their refreshments, trying to ignore the old setter, which wasn't easy.
"Aunt",said Sasha quietly",please, let's sit down and relax."

Her aunt calmed down and did as she was told. They sat down at one of the tables close to the counter. Charlie came to their table and sat down with them, only to be glared at by the old setter.
"Aunt",said Sasha",we have a free day tomorrow, so we can take you on a tour around the city. Just to show you what's new."
"Well, I can't really say no",her aunt responded.
"There's an opera tonight in one of the nicest theaters in town",said Charlie",you might like it..."
"I despise operas, lad",said Aunt Susan.
"Oh",said Charlie.

Sasha thought seriously about it. If they were going to take her aunt somewhere, it had to be a place she found enjoyable. It was just so difficult to know what she liked and disliked.
"What would you like to see, aunt?",asked Sasha",do you like museums, or craft markets?"
"Hmmm",her aunt mussed.
"Or perhaps the park",suggested Charlie",there are things to see at the park on Sundays."
"Yeah",said Sasha",that sounds good too. What do you say, Aunt?"
"Well",said Aunt Susan",I suppose I should accept. Yes, I think it should be nice."
"Then I think it's settled",said Sasha.
"Excuse me",said Charlie",I have to return to the counter."
"Sure",said Sasha.

Charlie went back to the counter. Sasha gave her aunt a smile, and, strangely enough, her aunt smiled back. The rest of the day went by without any great happenings. The strange thing was that Aunt Susan seemed to calm down a bit when in what refered to Charlie. She seemed to accept that Charlie was her niece's fiancee, as she would say.
The time came, and Sasha and Charlie closed the place, and headed home. They walked with Bess until she arrived home, and afterwards headed to their own house.
Somehow, Aunt Susan's presence was no longer uncomfortable, but still, there was something quite uncertain about her. There was something she was concealing from the rest of the world, and our friends couldn't tell exactly what it was. But neither of them said nothing.
Sasha, her aunt and Charlie arrived home. Once inside, they showed Aunt Susan where to find everything she needed in the house. Aunt Susan went to her room to get her things in order. Sasha told her to settle down, and that they would have dinner in a while. After a while, Sasha joined Charlie in the kitchen to make something for dinner. Sasha was not yet sure how she felt about their guest. Her aunt was strange, at times she was kind and full of joy, and at times she was grouchy and unbearable. What did this mean? Was she really this moody, or did she pretend the annoy her niece? If she did, why would she? The cause was a mystery.
Of course, Sasha wouldn't say anything to her aunt. She didn't quite trust in her yet. She would speak to Charlie first, perhaps when they were together before going to sleep. He was sure to have something to say, and if he didn't, Sasha would at least share her thoughts with him. Anyway, it wouldn't be in vain.
Sasha and Charlie were in the midst of cooking, and soon the uncertain thoughts vanished from Sasha's mind.
"Charlie",asked Sasha",will you use tomatoes."
"Yeah",said Charlie",do you thing your aunt will like onions?"
"No idea",answered Sasha.
"Hmm, better just hold the onions then",commented Charlie.

After a while, a very nice scent swirled around the kitchen and beyond, reaching the nostrils of Aunt Susan, who was in her room.
"Hmmm",she thought",I think I'll have to make the best of these two, until I'm ready, in all case..."

It was 8:15 PM, and Sasha called her aunt to dinner. She and Charlie had made a nice hot English style meal, which consisted in pieces of potatoes, carrots, beef and cooked tomatoes floating in savory broth. The weather was fine for a nice hot soup, and the three had a very nice dinner indeed. Afterwards, they all sat in the family room and talked about varoius things. Aunt Susan was a very unusual person, for she knew things that Sasha and Charlie had never imagined. Speaking with her was quite interesting. After some time, Aunt Susan declared that it was time to go to sleep. Charlie got her bed ready, placing nice warm blankets and a nice white and blue pillow for her. She retired to her room, saying good night to Charlie and her niece.
Sasha and Charlie went to their own room, on the second floor. Charlie got the blankets ready for them as he had done for Aunt Susan. Sasha seemed to be thinking. She was trying to organize her thoughts so that she knew exactly what to ask Charlie. Charlie noticed Sasha's thinking, but said nothing, only waited.
After a while, their blankets were ready. Charlie and Sasha usually slept on the nice, thick carpet that they had in the room, placing blankets on it to make it more comfortable. Sasha layed down beside Charlie. They looked at the stars that shined outside the open window of their room. Sasha had always enjoyed these moments. She loved to lay down there with Charlie beside her, feeling his closeness, and usually it was in these moments that Sasha and Charlie could speak in a better way, in the calmness of the day's end. They just lay there, silently, looking at the stars and thinking their own thoughts.
After a while, Sasha decided to speak.
"Charlie?",Sasha said.
"Yes?",answered Charlie.
"There's something I have to tell you",said Sasha",it's about my aunt."
"I'm all ears, Sasha",said Charlie.
"Well, I really don't know how to say it",said Sasha",but, there's something strange about her. She's unusually moody."
"Hmmm",said Charlie",I've noticed that."
"I feel strange when I'm with her",said Sasha",this morning when she arrived, she was overjoyed to see me. But she expected me to remember her too. I didn't, but she declared so solemnly that she was my aunt, that I thought I remembered her. She brings me strange memories, but I'm not sure if I really remember them or just think I do."
"That's very odd, Sasha",said Charlie.
"You know, Charlie, she's different when she's alone with me",said Sasha", and she changes when she's with you or someone else. It's as if she wants me for herself, and she doesn't want me to be with other people."
"Hmmm",Charlie thought.
"She told me a story of my past, and that intrigued me even more",said Sasha",I'll try to tell it again to you."

Sasha told Charlie the story that her aunt had told her. Charlie listened intently, but there was a point in which he seemed to go quite uncertain. Sasha finished the story.
"And, that's it",finished Sasha.
"That's a very interesting story, Sasha",said Charlie",but there's one detail. If your aunt was in New Hampshire all this time and this is her first time in San Francisco after her childhood, then that means that you had never seen each other in your lives, so how could she expect you to know her if you never saw her before?"

Sasha suddenly paused. She hadn't realised this before.
"Charlie, you're right",said Sasha",I haven't thought of that".
"I'm not suggesting that your aunt lied to you",said Charlie",but, it is one little detail that I can't quite understand."
"But it's true, Charlie",said Sasha",what's more, she asked me if I remembered her, and she said that it had been a long time since she last saw me. But, how can that be if she never saw me before?"
"And another thing",said Charlie",if she had seen you before, she would instantly recognise you, but instead, she asked first if the place was the Flea Bite Cafe."
"True",said Sasha",it makes no sense at all."

Sasha had not thought at all of this. It seemed that her aunt's presence made her thoughts rather hazy and harder to organize. Being with Charlie, she felt more like herself, and she could think clearly and notice all the things that she had failed to notice before.
"It's all so strange, Charlie",said Sasha",I really don't know what to think now."
"Maybe she just made a mistake, Sasha",suggested Charlie",maybe she was just so happy to see you that she forgot the actual facts, that you had never seen her before."
"Yeah",agreed Sasha, smiling",Oh, well. We'll find out sooner or later. Let's get some sleep."

Charlie smiled too. They decided to leave all the matter for tomorrow. It was Sunday tomorrow, and they were looking forward to a nice day. Sasha hugged Charlie's arm with both of hers, and snuggled closely, laying her head on his shoulder.
"Good night, Charlie",said Sasha.
"Good night, Sasha",Charlie responded.

Sasha and Charlie kissed each other good night, and went to sleep.
But, not everyone was asleep. There were spying ears lurking behind the door or their room. It was Sasha's aunt.
"So, they reason more that I thought",Aunt Susan had heard all their conversation from behind the door",I think I'll just have to change battle plans, then."

Aunt Susan slowly treaded back to her room, and went to sleep.
What was the old setter up to? That, only time would answer.

Sasha's Dream

Sasha had gone to sleep, but her mind was not at rest. Somehow, all the things that had happened swirled around in her mind, and she had a very strange dream indeed.

Sasha was standing in a dark alley, when many shadowy figures suddenly appeared. They started to chase her, and she ran down the alley as fast as she could. The darkness made it difficult to see, and she would sometimes trip over something, but get back up quickly and run again. She ran and ran, and the figures seem to get closer. Then, all at once, a light appeared in the alley, and a winged figure stood in front of her. It was Charlie. Sasha felt a great relief, and ran towards him, hugging him for protection. Charlie shielded her from the dark shadows with one of his magnificent wings, and with one paw he created a blazing ball of light. He hurled the light at the creatures, and they seemed to desintegrate and disappear as soon as they were touched by it. Then the darkness disappeared completely, and they stood in an inmense field filled with blooming flowers. Charlie picked a flower and gave it to Sasha with a smile. Sasha smiled back and hugged him. And there it ended.

Canine's Household
7:10 AM

It was early. Sasha awakened and found herself beside Charlie, safe and at home. She was very happy. Charlie was still asleep, and the room was still. Sasha could hear his heart beating softly. It made her feel so secure to be there, so close to him, listening to his heart. She smiled and closed her eyes again.
The lights of the morning sun shined brightly. Charlie woke up and found that Sasha was already awake. They looked at each other.
"Good morning",Charlie said.
"Good morning, Charlie",said Sasha, smiling",I had a dream last night."
"Really?",asked Charlie",what was it about?"
"I dreamed that was running from some shadowy creatures in an alley",Sasha told him",and suddenly you appeared and protected me from them. Then we were standing in the middle of a field with lots of flowers and we were both happy. Oh, Charlie, it was so nice."

Sasha held his big paw.
"I really don't know what it might mean, but I'm sure it's because of all the things that happened yesterday with my aunt",said Sasha.

Charlie smiled.
"Dreams are like that",Charlie said",sometimes you know what they mean, and other times you don't understand them at all."
"Well",said Sasha",one thing is for sure, you are here with me, and that makes me very happy."

Sasha gave Charlie a nice soft kiss, and they hugged each other. Charlie stroked Sasha's soft fur, and this made her feel very nice. Unfortunately, right at that moment, Aunt Susan bursted into their room.
"Well, isn't this a sight!",Aunt Susan said in disgust",you dirty alley mutt! You get yer paws off my daughter right now!"

Charlie was confused, for she had been so kind with him last night, and now she was just as she was before. Sasha looked at her fiercely.
"AUNT!",Sasha said",don't you know it's rude to just burst into another person's room without knocking?!"
"You heard me, get yer dirty paws off m' daughter right now!",yelled Aunt Susan.

Charlie didn't want anymore trouble, so he did as he was told.
"And let that be the last time I ever see ye disrespect my daughter like that...",Aunt Susan was cut off by Sasha's stern voice.
"AUNT! STOP ALL THAT!!!",Sasha yelled",Charlie is not disrespecting me in any way! Or is making me feel loved, secure and accompained a sign of disrespect for you?!!".

Aunt Susan said nothing, just stood there waiting.
"Aunt",Sasha calmly said",it's not right to intrude like that. You might mean kind, but you have no right to do something like that."
"Oh yes I do",said Aunt Susan",I'm here to see to my daughter's well being..."
"Uh, excuse me",said Charlie",but, what do you mean by your 'daughter'."
"That's what I said, didn't I",snapped Aunt Susan",as her real mother isn't with her anymore, and she asked me to be her foster mother in the letter that she left me, I now claim right over Sasha as my daughter. And you, young lad, are the first thing to take care of..."
"Aunt!",Sasha said",if you want to get rid of Charlie, you'll have to get rid of me too."

Aunt Susan looked at Sasha.
"Can't you understand, aunt?",Sasha said",We are a couple. We have our own life together, and you can't come and seperate us just because you don't agree with it. It's our life, we love each other, and you can't change that."
"You're the one that doesn't understand, child",said Aunt Susan",You will not understand because you are too young. I am much older than you and I know what's good for you. And there's no use arguing with your mother..."
"YOU ARE NOT MY MOTHER!!!",Sasha shouted.
"Well, in the present conditions, I am",declared Aunt Susan.

Charlie didn't want this to continue one more second.
"Please, stop all that",said Charlie.

Sasha and her aunt stopped.
"Let's please all settle down",said Charlie",what do you say if I go downstairs and make you both a delicious breakfast, and we forget about this incident?."

Charlie crossed the room and went out the door, down the stairs and to the kitchen. Sasha stayed a while with her aunt. She was no longer mad, somehow Charlie's thoughtfulness her made her anger all pass. They went downstairs to the family room and sat down on the sofa.
"Why did you do this, aunt?",asked Sasha.
"I don't like him, deary",said her aunt calmly",I don't trust him."
"But you were nice to him last night",said Sasha",when he cooked dinner and talked with you."
"Yes, but that's different",said Aunt Susan",he was kind and corteous last night. But now, when I saw him put his paws on you, I changed my mind completely about him. I realised that he was being rude with you, and I won't permit him to touch you like that."
"Charlie was not being rude or rough with me in any way. He was being sweet and caring, hugging me and gently stroking my fur, because he wants to show how much he cares for me. And I love it, aunt",said Sasha",and in case you haven't notice, I was hugging him too."

Aunt Susan didn't know what to say.
"I just don't like him, deary",said Aunt Susan.
"Don't worry, aunt",said Sasha",you just don't know him yet. In time, you will realise who he really is. You'll see."

Her aunt just nodded. Charlie called them to breakfast, and they went.
It was a nice sunny day. Sasha and Charlie thought about the things that they could do with Aunt Susan during the day. Where to take her, which events might interest her and which would probably not, all those things that people with guests think.
"Well",said Charlie",we have a long day ahead of us, so we should plan the things that we'll do. Would you like to go anywhere in particular, ma'am?".
"Well",said Aunt Susan",it all depends on what there is to see. I would like to look at interesting events, like maybe modern art, or it could be a museum, or something of the sort. And maybe go to a cabernet and have a nice drink".

Sasha didn't like that idea, and she knew that Charlie didn't either.
"Well",said Charlie",there is a lot to see in the city. But I must warn you that occasionally there are some unpleasent happenings. There are some thugs in the town, and especially in certain alleys and at certain hours. We may not be able to take you to certain parts of the city because of this."
"Humf",snorted Aunt Susan",well, I guess that can't be helped."

Luckily, the places that Sasha and Charlie had in mind were out of the way of the dangerous zones, but they weren't sure Aunt Susan would find such places of interest. What's more, Aunt Susan would probably want to stray off to certain places, like the cabernet that she suggested, and those were places that only opened during the night, and were full of low lived dogs.
"Now, don't expect too much about the city, aunt",Sasha told her",things had changed a lot since you were a little puppy."
"Eh, I know deary, I know",said Aunt Susan, devouring her buttered toast.
After breakfast, they were all set to go. Aunt Susan took her hand bag and put on her hat. Sasha and Charlie went to the door with her, and out they went to begin their tour.

Park
7:40 AM

Sasha, her aunt and Charlie arrived at the gates of the park. They instantly saw Bess and Flo walking by.
"Hello",they both said, approaching their friends.
"Hi girls",Charlie responded",taking a walk?"
"Yup",said Flo. Then she noticed Sasha's aunt.
"Flo, I think you haven't met my aunt yet",said Sasha.
"I haven't, but Bessie told me she was visiting",said Flo.
"Aunt Susan",said Sasha",I'd like you to meet a very special friend, Florence. Flo, this is my Aunt Susan."
"Pleased to meet you, ma'am",said Flo politely, holding out her paw.
"Well, I guess I'll have to say the same",snorted Aunt Susan, shaking Flo's paw.
"Why don't you join us?",asked Sasha",we're showing my aunt around the city, and we might need help."
"Oh, that would be nice",said Bess.
"You're welcome to come along",said Charlie.

And so, Bess and Flo joined the little group. There were lots of people walking around the park, and there was an air of fun and entertainment. Aunt Susan was expressionless, so neither Sasha or Charlie could tell how she felt. Bess already had an idea of the old setter's mood, and decided to hold her tongue. Flo found Aunt Susan a little strange, for she spoke a quite rudely and had a very intimidating way of looking; but she kept in mind that some old people are grouchy and moody.
"There's a human clown over there",said Bess",maybe we might check it out".
"Yeah",said Sasha",let's go."

The five canines moved towards a little crowd, and managed to push their way through. There was a clown that was telling funny jokes and doing all sorts of hilarious things, and every now and then, the people around him burst into peals of laughter.
"Where are my nickers?",said the clown, wearing them on top of his head",Squid for everyone!".
"HAHAHAHAHA",the crowd laughed.
"Come on, let's shoot the moon!",said the clown waving a sling shot in his hand."
"What cheap comedy",commented Aunt Susan",don't you agree, deary".

But Sasha was laughing too, much to her aunt's annoyance. In fact, everyone was laughing.
"Sorry, aunt",whispered Sasha",I didn't hear what you said."
"I said that I'd like to go somewhere else",said Aunt Susan.
"Oh, okay. You are the tourist",said Sasha.

She spoke to Charlie, and he spoke to Bess and Flo. They all left the crowd.
"Aunt, one thing I forgot to tell you",said Sasha",when we are among a crowd of humans, Charlie and I will have to whisper to you. Humans can understand our talk."
"What nonsense is that?",asked Aunt Susan.
"They can't understand you, ma'am. Same with Bess and Flo",said Charlie",but they can understand us."
"I don't believe you",said Aunt Susan",prove it!".
"It's true, aunt",said Sasha.
"I won't believe you until you prove it",said Aunt Susan.
"Don't you believe your own niece?",asked Sasha.
"Rubbish! I want proof",said Aunt Susan.
"Well, I guess that can't be helped",said Sasha.

They walked towards the artificial lake, and saw that there was an aquatic acrobat event. They went to look. Yes, there were human acrobats doing all sorts of neat things in the water, and they had show animals as well, such as a otter and a big turtle that also did tricks. A fence was placed around the lake to keep people from falling in, and there were some people around cheering and taking pictures.
Aunt Susan didn't looked pleased.
"Humf",she snorted",what a waste of time."
"You don't like it, aunt?",asked Sasha.
"Does it look like I'm enjoying it?",Aunt Susan snapped.

Sasha said nothing. She just told Charlie about it. Charlie told Bess and Flo that they would probably blow their morning if they hanged around with them. The girls understood, and said that they would stay and watch the acrobats.
"Sorry",said Charlie",she's just so difficult to please".
"That's okay, Charlie. We understand",said Bess.

They left the place, leaving Bess and Flo. Aunt Susan walked in front of Sasha and Charlie, as if she were leading them somewhere.
"There must be some place to take her where she'll enjoy herself",Charlie whispered to Sasha.
"Yes, but I'm not sure where",Sasha whispered back.
"There must be a tavern somewhere near here",Aunt Susan said out loud.
"That's what I was afraid of",Sasha whispered to Charlie",she only seems to like those kind of places, and what she doesn't know is..."
"And just what are you two whispering about!",Aunt Susan demanded.

Sasha and Charlie said nothing.
"I asked you something",Aunt Susan said",what are you whispering about."
"Nothing important, auntie",said Sasha",just our personal matters."
"Humf",Aunt Susan snorted, and continued to walk in front of them",I remember there was a tavern somewhere near this park when I was a girl..."
"Maybe it closed",Sasha suggested.
"Piffle!",said Aunt Susan",it was a lively place. I remember it well, as if it was yesterday, I was there..."

Sasha looked at Charlie, and saw that he had that strange, uncertain look on his face, it was the same one that she saw when she told him the story that she had heard from her aunt.
"Charlie?",asked Sasha",is there anything wrong?"
"I'll tell you later, Sasha",said Charlie.
"Well",said Aunt Susan",it seems that we won't be getting anywhere, so let's just stop and take a break. We can look for that tavern later."

Charlie, Sasha and Aunt Susan stopped and rested. Aunt Susan sat down on the grass. Sasha sat beside her. Charlie, who was not tired, wandered around close to them. Aunt Susan gave him a dirty look, and he understood. She wanted him to leave them alone for a while. Charlie decided to take a walk around and come back after a while. Aunt Susan snorted as he left them.
"Uh, aunt",said Sasha",don't taverns open at night?".
"Yes",said Aunt Susan",why do you ask such a daft question?"
"Well, even if you found the place, it wouldn't make sense to go in because it wouldn't be open to customers",said Sasha.

Aunt Susan stopped and looked straight at Sasha.
"Of course it wouldn't make sense",snapped Aunt Susan",and, I'm not saying I'm going to go in right now if I find it. I was thinking of finding the place just to know where it is and return tonight."
"What!",asked Sasha",tonight?!"
"What's more, you are to come with me",said Aunt Susan",as your foster mother, I want to celebrate our encounter with a nice mug of beer. Doesn't that sound nice, deary?"

Sasha didn't like the idea one bit.
"I'm sorry, aunt",said Sasha",but I don't drink beer..."
"Well, then maybe a glass of whisky,"interrupted Aunt Susan", or a nice martini..."
"You don't understand, Aunt",said Sasha",I don't drink alcohol."
"Well, then you'll start",said Aunt Susan.
"No, aunt",said Sasha firmly",I don't drink, and I won't start."
"You will do as your mother tells you!",Aunt Susan said.
"You are not my mother, and I will not obey you, at least not in such a silly thing like that!",Sasha declared",Charlie and I don't drink! You have no right to force me to do something that I don't want to do, and especially knowing that it is bad for me."
"Bad for you?!",Aunt Susan seemed puzzled",deary, that's daft. A drink has never killed anyone..."
"YES IT HAS!!!",shouted Sasha",HAVEN'T YOU EVER HEARD ABOUT CIRRHOSIS? IT KILLS THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE EVERY YEAR, AND THE MOST COMMON CAUSE IS ALCOHOL ABUSE!!!!"

Sasha was so furious at her aunt, that she didn't notice that there were humans that could hear her. A man that was walking nearby heard the shouting, and saw that it was Sasha.
"Now look what you have done!",whispered Sasha.

The man's eyes went wide as two cartwheels, and he was slowly approaching Sasha. As if things couldn't get worse, the man had just bought a muzzle, a dog chain and a repelling spray for his own dog, and with those items he would to try to capture her.
"Come here, sweetie",said the man",I bet I'd win a lot of money if I took you to the fair..."

Sasha didn't waste time. She ran away. Her aunt ran in another direction, hiding behind a tree as soon as she saw the man coming towards them. The man seemed to have wings on his feet, because he ran after Sasha and pounced on her, pinning her to the ground. Sasha was desterate. She twisted and kicked and tried to bite the man.
"Now, don't kick, honey",said the man, trying to put the muzzle on her",lemme get this thing on your mouth so you won't bite."

Sasha didn't obey. She went on struggling.
"Mmmm",the man said",I bet my Stevie would like a girl like you. He really could use a mate..."

Sasha didn't care anymore. Near to tears, she yelled for help.
"CHARLIE, HELP!!!",yelled Sasha desperately.

Charlie, who had started to come towards them when he heard Sasha shouting at her aunt, heard Sasha's cries, and came running at top speed. When he saw the man trying to capture his girlfriend, he was filled with rage, and he dashed right at him and jumped, sinking his teeth into the wretched man's throat.
"AHHH",the man yelled in pain.

Charlie seperated him from Sasha and attacked him. He pinned the man to the ground, biting and clawing him fiercely. The man tried to use his dog repelling spray, but Charlie knocked it out of his hand.
"RUN, SASHA!!!",yelled Charlie, and she ran and hid closeby.

Charlie dragged the man towards the nearby lake and threw him in. Then he ran off to find Sasha. The man was out for the count. Bruised and bitten, he climbed out of the lake. He couldn't ask for anyone to help him, because no one would believe his tale about a dog that talked. He just gave up, and went home.
Charlie ran to where Sasha was. She was okay, the man didn't harm her. Sasha was greatly relieved to see Charlie close to her. She ran towards him and threw her arms around him, crying.
"Oh, Charlie",Sasha bellowed with tears dripping from her eyes",I was so scared. I thought he would take me away."

Charlie stroked her fur to make her feel safe.
"It's alright now, Sasha",said Charlie soothingly",it's over. I'm here with you. I won't let anyone harm you."

Charlie's hugging soon made Sasha feel good again. She was more calm now, she felt secure and protected with Charlie beside her.
"Oh, Charlie",said Sasha",thank you so much for saving me."
"You're welcome, Sashy",said Charlie, giving her a little kiss on the cheek.

Just then, who should come up, but Aunt Susan.
"I thought I told you t' keep yer filthy paws of my daughter...",Aunt Susan hissed.

Sasha was furious at her aunt.
"Aunt, in case you haven't noticed, Charlie saved me from that wretched man just moments ago",Sasha said",and what's more, you cowered off and hid behind a tree. So, who's a better partner?"
"You don't talk to your mother that way!",Aunt Susan snapped.
"You are NOT her mother!!!",shouted Charlie, who had lost his temper",and you have no right over her! And even if you were, what kind of a mother would run off and save herself, and leave her child in the hands of danger!? Huh?!"

Aunt Susan was startled. She did not expect Charlie to loose his temper and react this way. He had been so tolerant all this time, but now she saw that his patience had a limit, and she had surpassed it.
"We're going home",said Charlie",we have to get out of here as fast as possible. That man could still be around."

Aunt Susan saw that it was not a suggestion, so she followed them, and went home.
"Well",said Aunt Susan with a grin",at least you proved that humans can understand your talk."

But the atmosphere was not fit for jokes. She just held her tongue until they got home.

Canine's Household
9:00 AM

Aunt Susan, Sasha and Charlie got to their house. Aunt Susan excused herself to go to her room. Charlie maked some nice hot tea for Sasha, and they went to the family room. They sat down on the sofa together. Sasha sipped the tea, and it was delicious. Charlie felt a little upset.
"Sasha",said Charlie",I'm sorry I shouted at your aunt. I really didn't mean to, but she made me loose my temper. I was so furious."
"Oh, Charlie",Sasha said",don't feel bad. You did the right thing, and I'm very proud of you for letting her know who is in charge."
"Really?",said Charlie.
"Yes",said Sasha, with a smile.

Charlie found these words very nice.
"She is such a pain in the neck!",said Sasha",I can't believe how annoying and irritating she can be. I really wish she never came."

Charlie looked at her.
"I thought you liked her, Sasha",said Charlie.
"No",said Sasha",I don't like her, Charlie. In fact, I doubt she's my aunt at all. Do you know what she said to me at the park? She said that if she found the famous tavern she talked about, she would take me to have a drink with her! And, when I said that I didn't drink, she told me that I would have to start!"
"Some foster mother",Charlie commented.
"You said it",agreed Sasha.

Charlie got up and walked towards the wide entrance of the family room, and looked down the hallway to make sure Aunt Susan was in her room. Then he returned to where Sasha was and sat down.
"Sasha",said Charlie",I have something to tell you, or rather to ask you. It's about what I heard your aunt speaking about at the park."
"I'm all ears, Charlie",said Sasha, remembering that he said he would tell her about it later.
"Are little puppies allowed to go into taverns?",asked Charlie.
"No, they aren't",said Sasha",why?"
"Because your aunt said that when she was a little puppy she had visited that so famous tavern that she talked about",said Charlie",and that can't be true. She would never be allowed to enter, and what's more, puppies don't think about taverns at all. They think about playing games with their friends and being loved by their parents".

Sasha realised this just as she had realised the other details before.
"Charlie",said Sasha",you're right!".
"Sasha",said Charlie",honestly, do you still think she's your aunt?"
"I'm seriously doubting it now",said Sasha.

They looked at each other, and in the distance.
"Clearly, she lied to me",said Sasha.
"Why would an aunt lie to her own niece?",pondered Charlie",even more, why would a so called 'foster mother' lie to her daughter?"
"I don't know",said Sasha",I really don't know what to think now."

Everything was so confusing. It really didn't make any sense at all.
Sasha and Charlie decided to let the subject fall, and dedicated the day to each other. Charlie had gotten a book from the library, and they sat down and read it. The day went by without anything very interesting, until, around six in the aftenoon, they heard the door knock.

Canine's household
6:00 PM

At that moment, Sasha and Charlie heard the door knock. Charlie went to open it, and got a very strange surprise. It was Jenna.
"Hello, Chucky",said Jenna",may I come in".
"Of course",said Charlie, letting her in.

Charlie led Jenna to the family room where Sasha was.
"Hello, Jenna",said Sasha smiling at her friend",what a pleasent surprise!".
"Hi Sasha",said Jenna",could we speak for a while?".
"Sure! Please sit down",said Sasha.
"I'll leave you girls alone",said Charlie.
"Oh, it concerns you too, Chucky",said Jenna.
"Oh, in that case I'll stay",said Charlie.

The three sat down.
"We all know that your aunt is visiting",said Jenna",and we all wanted to give her, well, a little welcoming at our house. Actually, it was Balto's idea. We told Bess and Flo, and they were happy to give us some help. So, we were wondering if you'd mind asking your aunt to come next door for a while? We want it to be a surprise."

Sasha and Charlie were very surprised indeed. They never imagined that their friends would do such a nice thing, not after the way Sasha's aunt had been so harsh with all of them.
"Oh, Jenna",said Sasha",that's so kind of you."
"Do you think she can come?",asked Jenna.
"Of course",said Sasha",I'll call her."

Sasha went to call her aunt. Jenna told Charlie her idea of having Aunt Susan walk into the house and find everything dark. And suddenlly someone would switch on the lights and they would all yell 'surprise'.
Charlie said it would be great. After a few seconds, Sasha returned with Aunt Susan to the family room.
"Hello, ma'am",said Jenna.

Aunt Susan just nodded.
"Shall we go?",said Charlie.
"Go? Where are we going?",asked Aunt Susan.
"Oh, you'll see",said Sasha.

Sasha, Charlie, Jenna and Aunt Susan left the house, and walked all together to Jenna and Balto's house. It was only a ten second voyage. They lived next door.
"Well, here we are",said Jenna.
"Here, where?",demanded Aunt Susan.
"You'll see, aunt",said Sasha.

They entered the house, and everything was dark inside. No one could see a thing. And, suddenly, the lights switched on, and, WOW!
There was decoration, there was nice looking food, and there was a big banner across the room that had the following inscription:"WELCOME AUNT SUSAN!"
Sasha and Charlie were very surprised! Aunt Susan just stared. Balto, Bess and Flo came up to Aunt Susan and offered her a glass of soda and some finger food.
"Welcome ma'am!",they said",we are happy to have you here, knowing that you are Sasha's aunt!"

Aunt Susan just kept on staring.
"Aunt, what do you think?",asked Sasha.

Her aunt spoke.
"If I wanted a party, I would have asked for one",said Aunt Susan",and, I'm not happy to be surrounded by mongrels like these."

Sasha's eyes went wide.
"Aunt!",Sasha cried",how can yo say such a thing, they're welcoming you! Aunt, they want to be your friends, they are my friends..."
"You call these friends? Humf!",snorted Aunt Susan",I call them nosey mongrels that can't keep their mind on their own business. How else could I define people that make a silly party to a complete stranger? They could do more sensible things with their time! Now, if you excuse me, I'll be retiring to me room, for the night!."

Aunt Susan turned around, and went towards the door.
"Aunt!",cried Sasha",you can't just leave like that!"

But Aunt Susan left, slamming the door behind her.
Balto, Jenna, Flo and Bess stood motionless. They said absolutely nothing. Sasha couldn't hold it anymore. She stared to cry. She was so embarrassed, and so furious at her aunt's rudeness. All those feelings seemed to burst out of her system in big tears. Charlie was at her side on the double, and she hugged him, crying on his shoulder.
"Oh, Charlie",sobbed Sasha",why does this have to happen to us?"

Her friends felt so sorry for her. They made her sit on the sofa and sat all together beside her, trying to comfort her. Sasha hugged Charlie and cried for a while longer, until she could no longer go on.
"I, I'm so sorry",said Sasha",you didn't deserve something like that. You've all been so kind, and look what my aunt does to you. I, I'm so embarrassed."
"It's okay, Sasha",said Balto",there's nothing to worry about".
"We're not mad",said Bess",please, don't cry, Sasha. At least, we are all together, and we are friends."

Charlie kissed her forehead softly and gently stroked her fur. Jenna wiped her tearstained cheek with a tissue, Flo offered her a glass of soda to cheer her up. Her friend's sympathy made Sasha feel so much better.
"It doesn't matter what happens, Sasha",said Jenna with a smile",you will always be our friend, and friends are forever".

Sasha felt so happy to have friends like them. She looked at each of them. Jenna, Balto, Bess, Flo, and Charlie. All their kind faces seemed to return the smile to Sasha's face, that smile that they all knew well. Everyone was happy to see Sasha smile that beautiful smile once more.
"Thank you, guys",said Sasha happily",you are the best friends I could ever have."
"And you are the best friend we could ever have",they all answered smiling.

Everyone decided to stay for a while and have a nice drink of soda. At least, if they weren't celebrating Aunt Susan's presence, they were celebrating their wonderful friendship, and that was the most important thing of all. They would be friends, forever.

Eight o'clock, and the canines said good bye. Bess and Flo went home, and Sasha and Charlie stayed a while more to speak with Jenna and Balto.
"Some scene, huh?",commented Charlie.
"Yeah. I really don't know what got into my aunt",said Sasha",she acts so strangely sometimes."
"It's normal, Sasha",said Jenna",sometimes our relatives act strangely and embarrass us in front of our friends."
"Nothing to worry about",said Balto",we all feel the same sometime."

After a while, the friends said good bye and went home. Charlie opened the door with the key he had with him, and they went in. Locking the door, he hung the key on a peg nailed into the wall.
Sasha and Charlie washed up and got ready to go to sleep. Charlie silently looked to see if Aunt Susan was in her room, and she was, sleeping soundly.
They went upstairs to their room. Sasha was very sleepy. Charlie prepared the blankets, and they layed down. The night was warm and quiet. Sasha and Charlie looked at each other and smiled. Being together made them feel very happy.
"Charlie, I still feel a little bad about what my aunt did",said Sasha",it was so humiliating."
"Don't worry Sasha",said Charlie, holding her little paw",Jenna and Balto aren't mad. Neither are Flo and Bess. They understand."

Sasha and Charlie held paws and looked at the stars through the open window. After a while, ready to sleep and rest until the next day, they kissed and closed their eyes.
Sasha felt very sleepy, and was happy to be able to rest beside the most special person in the world for her. But, suddenly, a thought came into her mind, and she got up suddenly.
"Charlie!",said Sasha.

Charlie was alarmed.
"Yes? What is it, Sasha",asked Charlie.
"Aunt Susan is in her room, right?",asked Sasha.
"Yes, I checked on her",said Charlie.
"And you locked the house before we left with aunt to go to Jenna and Balto's house, right?",asked Sasha.
"Yes",said Charlie",I made sure everything was locked. Doors, windows, everything."
"And you took the key we hide in the crack in the wall out, right?",asked Sasha.
"Yeah, I took it out and hung it on the peg in the hall",said Charlie.
"And both keys were in their place when we left",asked Sasha.
"Yes. One key was on the peg and the other one was where we hide it",said Charlie",both were in their place. Why?"

Sasha looked at Charlie.
"Charlie",said Sasha",that means only one thing".
"What?",asked Charlie.
"Aunt Susan came in, without a key",said Sasha.

Suddenly, Charlie realised it. They looked at each other with puzzled faces. It was spooky, but true. Aunt Susan didn't have any keys. And still, she went in. Something was definately not right.
"Sasha",said Charlie",something very strange is going on here".
"Charlie, is she really my aunt?",asked Sasha.

But, none of them could answer. Just in case, Charlie locked the door to their room. He felt very unsure of what may happen next.
"Don't worry, Sasha",said Charlie",I'll take care of you. I'll stand guard to make sure nothing bad happens to you. Go to sleep, Sashy."
"Oh, Charlie",said Sasha",we could take turns guarding."
"Never mind me",said Charlie",I'm not tired anymore. Go ahead, you need it more that I do."

Sasha was indeed tired, so she thanked Charlie, kissed him, and went to sleep.

Canine's Household
7:00 AM

Sasha woked up. It was still early, but she had slept enough. Charlie was awake, and came to where she was.
"Good morning, Sasha",said Charlie.

Sasha stretched and yawned.
"Good morning, Charlie",said Sasha.

They unlocked their door, and went downstairs. Aunt Susan was still asleep. Charlie and Sasha decided to leave her some breakfast on the table and leave. They wanted to go to work at the Cafe as soon as possible. And that's just what they did.

Flea Bite Cafe
5:00 PM

Sasha and Charlie worked at the Cafe all day. Strangely enough, they didn't see Aunt Susan in all the day. Was she okay? Charlie went twice to the house to check on her, and she said that she was fine.
"I'm fine, lad,"said Aunt Susan",can't you leave an old lady alone for a say?"

Charlie just accepted these answers and went back to the Cafe.
After some time, though, Sasha and Charlie started to get very worried about her. Was she feeling guilty for what she did last night? Charlie decided to go and talk to her.
"Sasha, I have to go and speak to her",said Sasha",at least, I have to check on her and see that she's alright."
"Shouldn't I go?",asked Sasha.
"I think it's best I go",said Charlie",I'll be back in a while."

Charlie left. Sasha stayed at the Cafe. The two customers that were there payed and left. Sasha was alone. She wandered around for a while, when suddenly, she heard something behind her. She turned and saw something that shocked her. It was Aunt Susan!
"Hello, deary",said Aunt Susan.
"Aunt? When did you get here?",asked Sasha startled.
"Just now, why?",asked Aunt Susan.
"But Charlie went to look for you just now",said Sasha.
"Really? Well, we must have not seen each other when we went our ways",said Aunt Susan",at any rate, he'll be back soon."

Sasha was confused. Aunt Susan opened her purse and took out a packet of cigarrettes. Sasha saw this. She lit one and offered one to Sasha.
"Would you like a puff, deary?",asked Aunt Susan.
"Aunt, I don't smoke, and you can't smoke here either",said Sasha.
"Why not",asked Aunt Susan.
"That's why",said Sasha, pointing at the counter.

Aunt Susan looked in the direction Sasha pointed, and saw a large 'no smoking' sign.
"In case you haven't noticed, this is a no smoking place",said Sasha",and that sign was the first thing Charlie and I placed up when we opened this place".
"Humf",snorted Aunt Susan",Charlie and you? Blither, that lad is a real sissy if you ask me. 'No smoking', rubbish..."

Sasha lost her temper. Her patience had reached it's limit.
"All right Aunt",said Sasha",that's enough. I'm not going stand this any longer."

Sasha stepped in front of her aunt defiantly.
"You can criticize my place, you can criticize my friends, you can criticize me, I don't care about it",said Sasha",but, no one, absolutely no one talks that way about Charlie. You understand? No one!".

Aunt Susan was startled. She dropped her cigarette.
"And by the way",said Sasha",you are not my aunt at all! Because if you were my aunt, you'd remember my mother's name. How do you explain what you did yesterday? You abandoned me in the park as soon as you saw that man trying to take me. You lied to me when you said that you had been in a tavern at your early age. If you were in New Hampshire all this time, how do you expect me to know you if I never saw you? And finally, how did you get into the house last night without a key? Huh? Explain, aunt."

Aunt Susan looked outraged at her niece. But then, she grined mysteriously. Sasha didn't like her grin.
"You're right, deary",said Aunt Susan in a murderous tone",I'm not your aunt."

Aunt Susan's eyes suddenly flashed with flames. Sasha saw this and her own eyes went wide. Then, the old setter slowly levitated up into the air, and the figure of Aunt Susan seemed to melt away. All the setter's features seemed to go wavery, and disappeared completely, revealing her true identity. Sasha gasped. Aunt Susan was not Aunt Susan anymore. She was a demon!
"Y...You're a demon!",Sasha stammered.
"Hehehehe",laughed the creature",yep, I am, hahahahaha".

Sasha suddenly understood everything. The demon had pretended to be he aunt, and she had tried to get Sasha away from Charlie, who was an angel, and when she was alone with Sasha, she would accomplish her evil plan. Sasha was filled with fury.
"You lied to me!",yelled Sasha",everything you ever told me was a lie!"
"Aye, deary",said the demon",but lemme tell you something that is true. You're about to have the worst time on your life!!!"

The creature took a deep breath, and expelled a column of fire at Sasha! She had no where to run, no where to hide, nothing to protect herself with. Sasha felt the intense heat coming towards her, she closed her eyes tight, and braced herself.
Suddenly, she felt something surround her, and the heat stopped. The heat was gone, but Sasha could hear the deafening noise of the fire scorching all around her, but she was untouched. She opened her eyes in surprise, and found herself surrounded be a feathery softness. It didn't take her long to realise that it was Charlie! Charlie had probably come back just in time and saw what had happened, and with his angel wings he protected Sasha from the fire. You see, Charlie's wings served not only to fly, but also to protect him from enemy attacks. The terrible fire slided off Charlie's feathers like water slides off an umbrella. Charlie shielded Sasha from the deadly flames with his magnificent wings.
The demon ran out of breath, and the fire ceased. Charlie spread his wings, shaking off the remaining embers. Sasha was safe! She looked at Charlie with great relief.
"Charlie!",she exclaimed.

Charlie took her paws, and flew with her to the top of one of the buildings that formed the alley.
"You'll be safe here, Sasha",said Charlie",I'll take care of that demon."

Charlie left her for a moment and flew back down to face the creature. The wretched thing created a ball of fire and hurled it at Charlie. Charlie hit the fireball with his wing and sent if flying back at the demon. The creature was hit on the face with it's own fireball, and fell to the ground. Charlie made an orb of light and hurled it at the creature, and the light hit with tremendous force. The wretched thing was outcold; Sasha watched from the top of the building as the demon slowly disappeared into nothing. And then, it was over. They had triumphed.

Flea Bite Cafe
6:00 PM

The Cafe was empty. Sasha and Charlie were sitting down together. All the things that had happened to them had been so curious. A strange demon that faked to be Sasha's aunt. It was very unusual.
"Well",said Sasha",I think that's the last we'll see of that devil."
"I hope so",said Charlie",I wouldn't want to face it again."
"What will we tell the others if they ask about my aunt?",Sasha asked.
"We'll tell them the truth",said Charlie",that the old setter was really a hell demon."

Sasha felt very strange about it all.
"Everything she told me",said Sasha",all the things about my mother and past life, it was all a lie."
"I'm afraid so",said Charlie",I'm afraid you might not know the truth for a long time, Sasha".
"Yeah",said Sasha",oh, well. I suppose it can't be helped."

Sasha looked into the distance and thought about all the things that had happened.
"I feel sorry for you, Sasha",said Charlie.
"Why, Charlie?",asked Sasha.
"I was very happy thinking that you had found a family member",said Charlie",but it turned out to be a clever fake. It must be hard to accept that she wasn't your aunt."

Sasha thought about this.
"Yeah",she admitted",I was happy too at first. I thought I finally found one of my relatives. But, no, it turned out that I was wrong."
"It's okay, Sasha",said Charlie, holding her little paw",you'll meet your relatives, someday."

Sasha looked gloomy. But then, she smiled.
"Well",said Sasha cheerfully",I do know one!".

Charlie was surprised.
"Really?",asked Charlie",Who?"

Sasha looked into Charlie's eyes and smiled sweetly.
"You, Charlie",Sasha answered",you're like family to me."

Sasha gave Charlie a soft kiss on the cheek, and layed her head on his shoulder.
"I love you",said Sasha.
"Oh, Sasha",said Charlie, nuzzling her softly",I love you too."

Families are very nice. Families love each other. Sasha and Charlie love each other. Doesn't that make them a bit of a family? I think it does.

And so, all this strange happening comes to an end.
Now, the reason of why this demon came to bother them....remains a mystery.

                             THE END