The Bug In The Basement

by Skijarama

Chapter 34: Welcome Home

    Fluttershy let out a quiet hum while gently petting Buddha on the head. The two were presently in Fluttershy’s bedroom, sitting on the bed together and relaxing. Buddha’s chin was comfortably resting on Fluttershy’s lap, and the teenager took the opportunity to give the golden retriever love and affection for as long as they were to stay like that.

    They had been like this for quite a while, now. Buddha had spent the first hour of her time in Fluttershy’s house excitedly sniffing around the unfamiliar environment and playing with a few toys that had been brought over with her. She had then spent a while interacting with Fluttershy’s parents and her brother, all of whom took a liking to the dog and gave her much affection of their own.

    However, once her excitement died down a little, Buddha had started displaying signs of uncertainty and anxiety over the absence of her owner. She clearly didn’t know why she was here, and while the presence of Fluttershy did wonders to ease her concerns overall, it did little to assure her of Eventide’s wellbeing. With that on her mind, Buddha had fallen into a state of mild lethargy and had kept close to Fluttershy ever since.

    Suddenly, the phone on Fluttershy’s end table began to vibrate and let off the sound of singing birds. Buddha’s head shot up while Fluttershy reached over, took the device, and checked the caller ID. A smile blossomed on her face when she saw that it was Eventide. Excited, Fluttershy answered. “Hello?”

    “Fluttershy, Beebee can turn into a dog.”

    There was a long moment of quiet. Buddha looked up at Fluttershy, and a confused whine slipped out of her throat. She pawed at her other arm for a moment before Fluttershy lightly nudged her off of her lap, stood up, and cleared her throat. “Ahem… could you, uh, say that again, please?” she asked with a hint of strain in her voice.

    “Beebee can shapeshift into a dog. A cute black border collie, to be precise. He was almost seen when Sweep went by the passenger seat. I’m guessing he used his magic to do it because he turned back to normal and passed out only a minute later after Sweep left.”

    Fluttershy blinked again. She licked her lips, shook her head to clear away the cobwebs that had formed way too quickly, and spoke again. “Okay… is he alright?”

    “He’s out cold, but I think he’ll be fine. He doesn’t look like he’s in any pain right now. I’ve got him in the passenger seat and have him under a blanket I got from the back of the van. He’ll be okay.”

    “Well, that’s good to hear,” Fluttershy relaxed somewhat, having not realized she had gotten tense. She stood upright, and her smile returned. “So, how goes the move?”

“Oh, I’m gonna be coming over in just a minute to grab Buddha. We’re all packed and ready to go over here.”

    Fluttershy perked up even more and looked back at the dog in question with a warm smile. Buddha saw her expression and sat up a bit more, paying attention. Fluttershy turned back into her phone. “Alright, well, I’ll go and bring her out in front.”

    “Cool. I’m on my way. And thanks again, Fluttershy. Bye,” Eventide said before the line went dead.

    Fluttershy let out a breath and put her phone in her pocket. She straightened out a few creases that had formed in her white shirt before turning to look at Buddha with her grin growing. “Hey, Buddha! Time for you to go to your new home!” she said in a cheerful voice.

    Buddha may not have understood words, but she understood tones. This tone only meant good things, and her tail began to wag in anticipation. Fluttershy picked up Buddha’s leash from its place atop her dresser and spent a moment getting it hooked up to her collar. As soon as it clicked into place, Buddha hopped down from the bed and lurched out of the room, pulling Fluttershy along for the ride with a cry of surprise.

    Eventide would not say it out loud to anyone, but he had to admit to himself that driving this thing along was more than a little harrowing. He may have taken those driving lessons and passed his tests leading up to the move, but that didn’t make the experience any less nerve-wracking for him. It didn’t help that Beebee was still curled up under a blanket in the passenger's seat, breathing heavily and serving as a distraction.

    Luckily, this leg of the drive was fairly short, and Fluttershy’s house came into view up ahead. Eventide relaxed and pulled the van to a stop next to the curb in front of Fluttershy’s house. To his relief, Fluttershy was already waiting outside with Buddha straining against the leash, wanting to get closer.

With a smile, Eventide opened up his door and leaned out a little. “Hey!” he called over to them.

Fluttershy smiled and finally began to approach, allowing Buddha to make more progress in her efforts to reunite with her person. “Hello! Buddha’s quite happy to see you!” she called back, chuckling in amusement.

“I can see that,” Eventide said, adding his own laugh before leaning back and letting Buddha jump up into his lap. He went to say something but was quickly silenced when she set about smothering his face in an onslaught of loving licks. He weathered it as best as he could for well over a minute, laughing wherever he could. Finally, he had had enough and shifted his happy dog off to his right to join Beebee in the passenger seat.

Buddha’s energy quickly died down when she spotted him. She paused, sniffed at the mound of blankets he hid under, and then let out a soft whine. She looked up at Eventide and Fluttershy one more time before gently laying down in such a way that Beebee was resting against her belly.

“Big sister mode activated, am I right?” Eventide quietly noted while using the back of his arm to wipe the excess puppy slobber off of his face. His expression softened into a charmed and happy one.

Fluttershy nodded in agreement. “Oh, yes. Heh, I never really thought of it like that, but they are kind of like siblings, huh?”

“Yeah…” Eventide agreed before looking back down at Fluttershy again. “Thanks for taking care of her today. It means a lot.”

“Don’t mention it, it’s the least I could do,” Fluttershy replied, clasping her hands behind her back and giving her head a sharp nod. She paused, then, and her expression turned a little more solemn. “Although, after today, you know I won’t be able to come and help you as much…”

Eventide’s own expression turned similarly somber, a change that did not go unnoticed by Buddha. She looked over at the two and whined again, lifting her head from its place next to the slumbering bug.

A minute passed in silence, and Eventide adjusted himself in his seat. “Yeah, I know… we’re gonna be too far away, right?”

“Mhmm…” Fluttershy hummed out, looking down to hide the regret in her eyes. “I’m sorry.”

“Nah, it’s alright,” Eventide sighed and looked out the windshield, lost in thought. It made plenty of sense, he supposed. Fluttershy was still a high school student, after all. She couldn’t drive, she had classes and obligations at both the school, and the animal shelter. Not to mention, others would notice if she suddenly started driving out of town every few days. It would draw attention, something neither of them wanted.

Eventide took in a long, deep breath through his nose, and let it out. He then unbuckled his seat belt, rotated in his seat and hopped out of the vehicle, landing right in front of Fluttershy. She saw him approaching and backed up a few paces to give him some space.

“Eventide?” she questioned inquisitively once he was on the ground.

“Don’t worry about us,” Eventide said softly before standing upright and giving her a warm smile. “We’ll be fine, I think. We’ve got the routines down, now, and Beebee learns quick. Plus, Buddha has this wonderful habit of looking after him like he’s her puppy. Even when neither of us is there, they’ll be fine.”

Fluttershy’s eyes widened, and then she visibly relaxed, her smile returning. “I’m happy to hear that. I’m going to miss coming over to see you guys, though.”

“We’ll miss having you over, but you can still visit from time to time, I bet,” Eventide said with an optimistic grin. “Maybe not as often. But I know you won’t be able to stay away from us all the time... After all…” he got a certain glint in his eyes, and he lowered his voice. “Beebee’s birthday is in a week. I’m sure he’d love to see you there.”

Fluttershy’s eyes widened in surprise. She leaned to the side and looked past Eventide’s shoulder to stare at Beebee. He stirred slightly under his blanket, then fell still again. “Wow… He’s almost a year old, now?” Fluttershy breathed, seemingly dumbstruck.

“Yeah… crazy, right?” Eventide replied in a soft whisper, turning to look at his son as well. “It sure doesn’t feel like it’s been that long… it’s been a crazy ride...”

The two were quiet for several moments, letting the thought sink in. Then, Eventide turned to face her again. He reached out and suddenly drew Fluttershy into a tight hug, eliciting a squeak of surprise from her. But, after a moment of processing, she relaxed and returned the hug just as tightly.

The two remained like that for a while before Eventide shifted. “Thank you, Fluttershy,” he whispered to her before pulling back, hands still on her shoulders. “I don’t think we would have gotten this far without you.”

Fluttershy smiled in return and shook her head. “You don’t have to thank me. It was my pleasure, Eventide. But I think you’re right. You don’t need my help anymore. So, you just keep moving forward, and I’ll be cheering you on the whole way,” she said before leaning in and returning the hug one more time. “I’ll be as loud as I can.”

“So, a whisper, then,” Eventide teased, a playful look on his face.

Fluttershy leaned back to look into his face with an indignant pout on her face. “You know what I mean,” she huffed.

“Yeah, sorry,” Eventide apologized before the two slowly backed out of the hug. ”But we will, don’t worry. We’ll keep moving forward,” he said before gradually making his way back up into the van. Once he was seated, he looked back down at her, his smile growing more excited. “And don’t forget; Beebee turns one in just over a week. You gonna be there?”

“I wouldn’t miss it,” Fluttershy chirped in response. She then began to wave as Eventide pulled the door closed and started up the engine. “Bye, Eventide! Bye, Beebee!”

“We’ll be seeing you!” Eventide called back to her. They locked gazes for a few moments before Eventide set his eyes forward. He took a deep breath, adjusted himself one more time, and started the van forwards. Every so often, his eyes flicked to the mirror by his door, watching as Fluttershy’s reflection grew smaller and smaller, before disappearing entirely.

    Beebee slowly began to wake up with a quiet groan, his entire body throbbing gently in protest to something while his head pounded with an intense headache. His eyes fluttered open, and he discovered that his entire body was covered in a thin blanket. The surface he rested on was soft and cushioned, but it was also vibrating and rocking unevenly. There was a low rumble all around him, and his stomach didn’t feel quite secure in his belly.

With a groan, he sat up and pushed the blanket off of his head. He was sitting in the passenger’s seat of the van again, and the van was moving. He could just make out the tips of trees in the windows from his low perspective. Buddha was curled by right behind him, her front legs securely wrapped around him and holding him close to her chest.

He slowly looked around and caught sight of Eventide, who briefly looked at him out of the corner of his eye with a smile. “Hey, Bee. How you feeling?” he asked in a soft voice, being considerate of the headache the little guy was undoubtedly experiencing.

    Beebee groaned again and leaned back against Buddha’s chest. The dog leaned down and licked the top of his head a few times before he decided to answer. “Kinda queasy… my head hurts… what happened, Daddy?”

    Eventide’s smile faded, and he spun the steering wheel in a slow circle, making the van rotate along with it. “Well… you passed out after turning into a dog. You changed back to normal as you did, so I’m guessing you used magic to do that...” he shot Beebee a glance out of the corner of his eye. “How did you do that, anyway?”

    Beebee blinked, then his eyes widened as he remembered. “Oh! Uh… I dunno…” he said sheepishly. “I just panicked. I didn’t even feel it happening…”

    “Kinda like when you saw a spider and your horn lit up?” Eventide ventured, and Beebee shrugged.

    “Kinda, I guess…” he muttered uncertainty.

    “If you were well rested, do you think you could do it again?”

    “I don’t know.”

Eventide gave a slow nod. “Alright, well, no more magic for today, alright?”

“Okay,” Beebee agreed, his voice disappointed. He let out a breath before looking up at one of the windows. Curious, he wiggled out from Buddha’s paws and lifted himself onto his hind legs while propping his hooves on the door. He had to strain a bit, but he could look out the window and see the world beyond. His eyes widened.

    He had never seen so much green before, except maybe on TV. But that didn’t do justice to the great rolling green hills, the beautiful trees, and the clear blue sky that was a perfect accent. Everything had a faint yellow tint, indicating that the sun was slowly starting to set. Some of the leaves on distant trees had turned shades of yellow and orange, a sign of autumn encroaching on the land.

    “Woah…” he said in quiet awe, his wings flicking on his back a few times. “This is so cool…”

    Eventide smiled, watching him from the corner of his eye. “Yep. We’re gonna be living around all of this from now on.”

    Beebee turned back to look at Eventide, his excitement swiftly growing to the point of being palpable. “Wow! It’s so pretty! And big!” he chirped before looking back out the window, his wings buzzing even more. “And I can go outside at this new place?”

    Eventide nodded slowly. “Yeah. But I don’t want you going very far from the house without me. There’s a fenced-in yard, though, so you and Buddha can play around out there as much as you like.”

    Beebee looked over at Buddha, then giggled ecstatically. He zipped over, poked Buddha on the nose, and then looked up at Eventide. “When will we be there? Huh, huh, huh?!”

    “In just a minute,” Eventide replied with a smile. His expression turned a touch more serious, and Beebee noted a few wisps of a dull magenta color seeping out of him. “But I want you to stay inside and take it easy for the rest of the day, alright? You wore yourself out pretty bad when you changed your shape. I’m not going to risk you exhausting and hurting yourself.”

    Beebee wilted a little but nodded in understanding. “Okay, Dada…”

    Eventide gave a slow nod. Satisfied, he then looked out through the windshield again. There was a minute of silence, during which Beebee went back to looking at the world outside through his window. Then, Eventide began to slow the van and turned it down a driveway to the right. The view was quickly surrounded by trees to the left and right, creating a dense overhead canopy that blocked the sun. For a short time, their world became significantly darker. They then pulled out into a clearing, and Eventide turned the van to the left.

    And that was when Beebee saw it.

    Their new home. It looked even nicer than it had in the photos Eventide had taken. The grass had been cut, the walls cleaned, and the fence had gotten a new coat of rich brown paint. The van pulled to a stop in front, and for a moment, nobody moved. Then Eventide pulled the key out of the ignition, and the van went still and utterly silent.

    He looked over at Beebee and smiled. “Well… welcome home.”

    Beebee mouthed silently for a few seconds, just taking in the view. The house was elevated on a small grass-covered hill above the gravel driveway, and the trees behind the house were dense and a rich, rich green. Even through the doors, Beebee could hear birds chirping in the branches. He then looked over at Eventide hopefully. “Can we go inside?”

    Eventide nodded. “Sure, let’s go in,” he said before opening his door and stepping out. He walked around the van, opened up the passenger’s side, and let Beebee and Buddha hop out.

The gravel driveway crunched under Beebee’s hard hooves, and his chitin was immediately assaulted by the foreign feeling of a cool autumn breeze. The singing of birds became much louder, and the branches slightly rustled in the wind. The air was fresh and smelled like nothing Beebee had ever smelled before, invigorating his senses. His headache was quickly forgotten amid the slew of new sensations.

Buddha, meanwhile, didn’t waste a second. She began to sniff around the driveway, shoving her snout into every single nook and cranny, though Eventide kept a good hold on her with his leash. He chuckled and nodded at her while looking at Beebee. “I think she liked it.”

Beebee chuckled quietly but did not offer a reply, as he was still entranced. He slowly spun in a circle, just taking it all in. He absently followed behind Eventide as they began to walk up the dirt road that led to the front door of the house. The grass on either side of the path was peppered with the occasional wildflower, and they softly swayed with the countless blades of green that surrounded them.

And then they were in front of the door. Beebee looked up at the house and flinched back, almost intimidated by its sheer size. The photos had not done justice to the scale, and Beebee suddenly found himself feeling small and vulnerable. He instinctively pressed himself against Eventide’s ankle, relaxing from his father’s presence and body heat.

Eventide smiled down at him, then opened the door. It gave off quiet creak, revealing the room beyond as it swung out of the way. The place had been cleaned up pretty nicely, Beebee noted. The floor featured a nice new rug that colored a deep, lively brown. The walls were a shade of green similar to leaves on a tree, complimenting the rug perfectly and making the room feel just like the forest outside.

Directly across from them was a wooden archway in the wall that led to what would soon be their kitchen and dining room. He could see a long wooden counter. A window sat over it, just behind a sink, allowing in the afternoon sunlight. The room walls and floor of that room were also wooden in appearance, making for a very homely and almost handcrafted look.

    Off to their left was a partially open door that looked to lead to a bathroom, while just to its side was a recession in the wall. There was the staircase that led down to the basement, descending down into darkness.

Off to their right was another door, this one closed. Beebee didn’t have any clue where that one went.

    The family all stood there for a second, just taking in the blank space and letting it sink in. This was where they were going to be living from now on. Buddha bravely ventured in first, sniffing at the floor, then moving on to the walls. Beebee took a hesitant step after her, looking around at the relatively dark interior.

    Then Eventide flicked on the overhead light.

    The living room sprang into life, and Beebee’s face lit up with joy and delight. His apprehension gone, he spun around to look up at Eventide, practically vibrating. “It’s perfect! I love it!” he shouted before spinning around and breaking into a gallop to explore his new home. He disappeared into the kitchen, and let out an excited squeal. “Dada, there are stairs going up! We have an upstairs!

    Eventide chuckled under his breath as he heard his son scrambling up said steps, his hooves clopping quite loudly on the wooden surface. He then passed his gaze around the room one more time and winced.

Beebee came rocketing back in a moment later, racing for the closed door. He noticed Eventide’s expression in passing, though, and slid to a stop. “Dada? You okay? You’re covered in purple,” he asked, a slight hint of worry in his voice.

Eventide sighed heavily and looked back at the van with dread. “I’m fine, It just... occurred to me that I have to lug in all of the furniture myself.”

Beebee frowned and tilted his head in confusion. “But… didn’t you tell that other guy that someone was gonna help you?” he asked, trying to figure out what he had missed.

Eventide chuckled weakly under his breath, then gave Beebee a sheepish look. “Don’t tell anyone I did this, but… I lied to him about that.”

Beebee made an ‘o’ with his mouth, the realization dawning on him. “Ooooh… so I wouldn’t be seen by a stranger, right?”

“Exactly,” Eventide nodded, a pleased smile on his face from his son’s quick deduction. He then glanced back over his shoulder again. “So… getting everything in is probably gonna take me quite a while...” he gave Beebee a meaningful look. “How about we get your room set up first so you can rest?”

Beebee gasped, turned, and rocketed for the basement stairs. Eventide took that as a yes, and followed his son down into the basement.