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Long Afternoon Walk.

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"Where are you off to, John?"

 

The King looked away from the mirror and over to Sneezy, only for a moment, before looking back into the mirror to finish up his mascara.
"Must you know?"

 

"Well, no, I certainly dont have to know, I'm just curious is all. You haven't gone out in quite a while." He replied, setting himself down atop the cedar chest at the end of John's bed, forelegs crossed beneath him.

 

"Hmph." He twisted the cap back onto the mascara, setting it down and picking up a tube of lipgloss. He shrugged. "No where special, and no where of great importance. Just, Ratboy invited me out, wanted me to go on a walk somewhere with him." He said, uncapping the small container of shimmery substance and applying it to his lips with the soft little brush.

 

"Ah. That sounds quite nice, actually."

 

"I suppose."

A small silence, as John finished up and put all the little makeup items back in their proper places, then Sneezy spoke again.

 

"You know, when you think about it, it's all kind of amusing." The alien mongrel said, chuckling.

 

John asked, "How so?" turning to look back at Sneezy again.

 

"Well," He paused, head tilting for a moment before continuing. "Used to, years back, you'd be at his throat every chance you'd get, you hated everything about him, you couldn't stand the boy. But now, you two, you're all buddy-buddy. He's gone and buttered you up over the years. Made you all soft inside, he has."

 

The King crossed his arms, expression going a bit sour. To imply such a thing, the audacity!
"He absolutely has not!" He barked, Sneezy flinching. Not really hurt by the sudden shout, just spooked.

 

"Are you so sure?"

 

"I-"

 

A knock at the King's bedroom door, cutting off what he was saying and grabbing his attention.

"... Yes? What is it?"

 

The door opened to reveal Clyde- who SHOULD be at work right now-, taking a moment to look at the two before saying what he came to say.
"The Ratboy Genius is here to see you, sir." He informed.

 

"Oh..!"
John took, longer to get ready than he meant to. He intended to be out before the other rat arrived, but he was already late and nothing could really be done about it now.
He stood, straightening out his shirt and re-tightening his little fabric belt, taking one more look in the mirror before quickly making his way out the door, saying a quick "Thank you" to Clyde as he did.


-


-


"Little King John! it's good to see you again, pal, I'm glad you could make it!"

 

When The King made it to the end of the drawbridge, that bright rodent,- toting along a basket in one of his hands-, was already talking, in that borderline irritating and chipper tone that rarely seemed to falter.
It gave him a headache. But it also gave a nice change to the usual atmosphere, he had admitted; though to no one but himself.

 

"It is absolutely beautiful outside, and you, my good sir, have been cooped up in that cold castle for ages now. It'll be good for you to get some fresh air!" Ratboy chirped, holding his spare hand out towards his hairless an pale counterpart.
While he himself was more the type to give tight hugs as a greeting, he was aware of John's usual distaste towards such sudden contact, and he respected it.

 

John looked at him, and then the hand for a second, before clearing his throat and nodding, reaching out to shake it with his own, the other held behind his back. "Yes, well... You should feel lucky that I was able to take the time out of my busy schedule for this." He stated, retracting his hand and placing it back alongside his other.
Truth be told, his schedule hasn't really been all that busy lately. No more than usual.

 

"Oh, you bet I do!" He nodded back, ears giving their signature little wiggle, "C'mon, let's go. S'already about 3:30 PM, so we should hurry."
and motioning for the other king to follow as he started walking.
And so, John followed.

 

Ratboy did what he could for smalltalk whilst they made their way to the destination. Just little stuff. Things like "Baby and Sue are doing well. I think she said something about how they might be able to get a place of their own eventually." and "That old red buggy of mine is getting close to kicking the bucket, getting harder to repair too. Guess I'll have to get a replacement whether I want to or not, huh?"


And John did what he could to reply. "Mh, delightful. Good for them." and "How unfortunate, I'm sorry to hear that."
He wasn't all to sure what to contribute. Clyde had occasionally told him stories of what he would see whenever he went out, while The King himself tended to whatever he could busy himself with inside the building. It varied. Sometimes it was just about the weather, while another time he spoke of two villagers engaging in a fist fight within their town square. A pathetic one at that.
John mentioned the latter story, and Ratboy's reaction to it was amusing. But other than that, things were uneventful, and he didn't have much else to tell.

It had fell silent for a while, with them running dry on topics. John was thankful, and appreciated the quiet moment. It gave him some time to just, think.
He thought of things like, how he needed to remember to buy more ink, since he was running out, and to tell Clyde to get to repairing the leaky spots in the ceiling.

And how he needed to hire more people to tend to the livestock. It was getting to be a bit much on the one guy the job had been assigned to.
He thought about how he needed to sew up Sneezy's blanket. He had told him that he could easily just get a new one, but the alien mutt was fond of that particular blanket, and John was fond of him, so he was nice enough to agree to patch it up for him.


He though about how odd it was to be, he guessed friends, with who he used to hate with a passion. For what, several years now? He'd say three or four years. That furry little pest was persistent, and stubborn about wanting to befriend him, about wanting to make things right, and to this day John still didn't fully understand why. Ratboy had a very 'Forgive and Forget' way of living, John swore it might just put the other in an early grave if he isn't careful with it.

He pretended that the thought of that didn't bother him.
It wasn't all that bad though. Not only had Ratboy been persistent and forgiving, he had been very selfless, too. Very, very helpful, being one of the few who had actually pushed John to try and get his shit together. Helped him with his horribly selective eating, and difficulty with keeping things down, his awful, awful scratching. John had made decent enough progress and recovery over the years.


Ratboy had also witnessed several breakdowns, along with having to see and hear the hairless rat puke up his meal more than once, as humiliating as it all was.
He insisted on helping however he could during those moments too.
He was too kind to him. He'd say he deserved it, the loyalty and kindness, without question, he would take the chance to boost his ego without hesitance and boast about how the other rat 'came crawling back' and how 'desperate' he was, so on and so forth. He wasn't above exaggerating, that's for sure. But deep down he knew none of this was true, and he didn't truly deserve the kindness given to him.
John sighed, quietly, and looked over towards Ratboy.

John had mixed feelings towards him.
He always had, except for when he felt nothing but hate towards him. But otherwise, he had a hard time pinpointing exactly how he felt.
He considered him a pretty good friend. A usually irritating friend, but a friend nonetheless. But there was something else he felt that he had a hard tme identifying, and he wasn't sure he even wanted to identify it. He wanted to ignore it, and hope that it goes away. But he had been doing that for about a year now. Give or take.

John decided that he didn't want to think anymore. Not about that. So, he broke the silence between him and the other.

"So, what's the basket for?"


Ratboy turned to look at him, glancing at the object in question, then back up to John.


"And where are we going? We've been walking for a while now. I'm beginning to wonder if you're lost... Couldn't we have just taken a minecart?"

 

Ratboy gave a laugh at this. "I know where I'm going, don't worry, we'll be there soon. And, no, there's actually no minecarts that go where we're going, surprisingly!"
He then lifted the basket a bit, pointing to it. "This is just packed with food and drink. It's not good to run on an empty stomach."

 

John squinted at the basket, unsure. While his reluctance and difficulty toward eating anything that wasn't his usual had been improving and easing up gradually over time, he still had a hard time with it.

 

"Don't worry, it should be fine. S'just sandwiches. I tried not to stray too far from what you're able to get down, hopefully I did alright." He opened one side of the basket, John's neck extending forward as he peaked inside.

Bottled water, juice, and sandwiches protected in plastic wrap. Their names were written on them, too.

"Your's is chicken, whole wheat bread, and cheddar. I don't know if you like mayo or not so I put some in a little container just in case." Ratboy listed, shrugging his shoulders a bit as he did. "Is that good?"

 

"That... that should be alright, yes."
John nodded, moving his head back. "It's, actually quite thoughtful of you, Ratboy. Thank you." He added, Ratboy closing the basket and flashing the other a bright smile.

 

"No problem at all!"
He exclaimed, joyful.


-


-


"We're here! This is the place." Ratboy announced, grabbing Little King John's attention from whatever thoughts he was previously wrapped up in.
Breathtaking might've been a fitting word for the scenery before them.
While the entirety of the land he ruled over was quite beautiful, this area, he found, was especially pleasing to look at. Had it's own unique charm to it, if you will.
Trees surrounding a little cleared out space on one side, not to clustered and close together, not too far apart, a little river on the other, and a simple little bench, a few feet away from said river, facing towards it.
You could still see colorful machinery and odd structures, contraptions, if you looked to the sky, it ran through a large majority of the land afterall. There just wasn't as much as other areas had.

 

"Wow..." The paler of the two announced, while the other chuckled at him.

"It's real pretty here, isn't it?" Ratboy inquired, setting the basket down next to the bench and taking a moment to stretch, cracking his fingers and his back. "I found this place a while back. Really nice spot to relax at, figured I might as well build a proper place to sit, too. Hope you don't mind." He looked back at John, who's head was almost quite literally in the clouds, having stretched himself higher to get a better view of the surroundings, twisting his head around as he looked around.

They really had wandered a pretty far distance from the castle, John thought to himself, staring at his home in the distance.

"...Y'alright up there, John?" Ratboy called after a while, reaching up and tugging gently at the hem of his friend's shirt. Having gotten his attention, John's head turned, peering down at him. He lowered himself back down after giving one last look at the castle and surrounding land.

 

"I'm fine, no worries." He reassured. "I was just.. seeing how far we traveled."

 

Ratboy responded,
"Yeah, we were walking for a good long while. We're pretty far out here, huh?" and headed over to sit at one side of the bench.

 

"That's one way to put it... Though, it is certainly worth it, I must admit." John turned to face the other a moment after he heard the footsteps, and Ratboy, upon seeing this, patted the spot next to him, before resting his arm back over the back of the bench. John nodded, and took the spot, one leg crossing over the other, a hand on the armrest, and the other on his lap, gaze towards the river in front of them.

 

"Well, I'm glad to hear it!" Ratboy said with a grin, before leaning over and lifting the basket off of the ground and onto his lap, opening one side of it.
"Ya hungry, Johnny? If not that, then you should at least hydrate." He nudged the basket towards John, who looked over to it, wearing a unsure expression, almost a grimace. Then he looked up at Ratboy, who was looking back with a, for lack of better words, hopeful expression, nudging the basket towards him again.

 

How could he say no to that face.


John sighed and shook his head a bit, but a smile dared to cross his face. He held it back, "Oh, alright... If you insist." reaching into the basket and grabbing the sandwich that had his name written on the wrapping, and a bottle of water, Ratboy giggling and bouncing a little in place out of joy, seeming to be quite happy about John saying yes and deciding to eat.


And John ignored the warm feeling in his chest and stomach.


The yellow rat soon enough took his items from the basket as well, his sandwich, and juice bottle.

 

"If I get nauseous and this comes back up, though, you'll be to blame for it, I hope you know that." John commented as he took off the plastic wrap, simply staring for a moment at the food he held in his hand before hesitantly taking a small bite out of it.

 

"Understandable." Ratboy had already unwrapped and taken a bite or two out of his. "Don't worry, if you get sick I'll hold your ears back for you."

 

It was silent for the most part while they ate, since they exhausted most of their conversation topics on the way there, unfortunately.
Ratboy idly kicked his legs back and forth, eating and drinking at a noticeably faster pace than the spindly man beside him was able to, him at a slower pace, with small bites and sips of water, occasionally tearing small pieces off of the sandwich and tossing them to the birds that would group together and stare the two down for their food. It was amusing, and John didn't mind it much since he probably wouldn't feel up to finishing the whole thing, so if anything, he was thankful.
When Ratboy finished eating, he balled up the plastic wrap and placed it back inside the basket, and set his bottle of juice next to the leg of the bench, before getting up.

 

John questioned him, "And what are you doing, hm?" raising an eyebrow as Ratboy sat on the ground in front of the river.

 

In response Ratboy looked over his shoulder with a smile, before looking back to the water and pointing to it.
"I like to watch all the little critters in the water whenever I come here!"

 

"You'd better not fall in." John stated, nibbling at what little more he felt willing to eat, eventually starting to focus more on feeding the birds and drinking his water.

 

"Awh, you'll catch me if I do, right?" Ratboy said, leaning over to swirl one of his digits around in the water, watching the little fish and water bugs scatter.

 

And at this, John rolled his eyes, but smirked. "Pft." He stretched a scarred up arm out, lightly pushing the other. Not enough to really make him fall, mind you, just playfully. It did catch the poor boy off guard though, John ending up actually having to wind said arm around his middle and pull him back before he could slip and fall in. "...My apologies." He muttered.

 

This got a good laugh out of Ratboy.
"It's alright, just spooked me for a second there!" He said once his laughter calmed, "That's a good way to answer the question." putting a hand to his chest and taking a breath.

 

John stared for moment, quickly retracting his arm once he realized it had lingered around the other rat's waist a bit longer than it should have, face growing a bit warm at this mistake, but he ignored it.
He found the laughter infectious, to an extent, placing his hand over his mouth to muffle his. It wasn't as much as Ratboy laughed, no, no where near as much, but it was a laugh, and something is usually better than nothing.

 

Ratboy scooted back to the bench, not sitting on it, just sitting in front of it, John putting away his plastic wrap in the basket with the other bundle of it.
"Sun's already starting to go down!" The furred one said, while the hairless one, he looked to where the sun was setting.
Ratboy leaned back and stretched his arms up, before folding them behind his head, relaxing. "Time sure does fly." He added.

 

"Indeed." John agreed. "... The sunset is gorgeous though."

 

"You got that right."

 

Another silence, shorter this time.

 

"It'll begin getting dark soon. Should we go ahead start walking back?" Ratboy inquired, looking up at the other.

 

John thought for a moment.
"No, it'll be fine. We spent so long walking here, it'd be better to enjoy it as long as we can." He decided, with a shrug. "It'll be dark by the time we get back either way."

 

"Sounds fine to me!"

 

So they watched the sunset together, silently for the most part, watching as the sky turned orange and pink and purple, and a little bit red. It was peaceful. Occasionally, Ratboy would comment on the clouds, and what shapes he saw in them, like one that looked like a flower, and one that looked like a dog. John didn't add much, he just listened. He didn't mind it any, he just had nothing to add.

 

They stayed there watching for as long as they could, until eventually the sun had fully set, and the moon had risen, and all the stars came out. They eventually decided, it might be best to start walking back. John stood up, and his joints and back cracked and popped when he did, and Ratboy wondered how that was possible, because he was fairly certain that his hairless counterpart had no bones or joints in the first place. But who was he to question it?
Ratboy grabbed the basket, which was now filled with wrappers and bottles, really more of a trashcan than a picnic basket now, and then the two started their long walk back to the Castle.

 

While they were walking, Ratboy pointed out all the different constellations and planets that were visible, and John pointed out the ones he recognized as well. Though there were only so many they could point out, and once they ran out, another silence fell over them. Those seemed to be a recurring theme that day, silences. Nothing wrong with them, there was just a lot of them.

 

After a long while, they made it back. Neither knew what time it was when they made it back, all they knew was that it was very late.
John stood in the open doorway, looking down at Ratboy, who spoke, saying,

"It was fun spending time with you!"

 

And John nodded in agreement, a bit of a smile on his face. "I as well. Though, I find it a shame we didn't get to stay longer."

 

"Yeah... Hey, maybe we could get some tracks built! Set up a minecart ride to get there and back!" The yellow rat exclaimed, taking John's hands into his own, lightly swinging them side to side. "I mean, assuming you'd want to go back again." He added.

 

John was startled at first by the hand grab, but found he didn't mind it much. What he did mind though was the warm feeling that washed over his face and guts, and he was sure his face had visibly changed color, he just hoped it didn't change too obviously. He tried to ignore it. Letting himself fixate and get embarrassed would just make it worse.
"I don't see why not. I'm sure it can done. It may take a while, but it can be done." He assured, smile growing just a bit bigger, as did the other's.
They took a moment to discuss how long it might take, and Ratboy asked if he could help with building it, and John said yes, he could. Ratboy could even choose the color of the structure the tracks would be built onto. All the while Ratboy kept a grip on John's hands, and John didn't ever pull them away.
Ratboy took notice of this upon their conversation ending, and upon noticing, he apologized and laughed, nervously.

 

John could be a very impulsive person sometimes, and now unfortunately seemed to be one of those times. All warm and red in his face and stomach, he felt butterflies, a sort of giddiness, he acted without really thinking.
It was nothing bad, one would suppose, no nothing too terrible. But it was mortifying, to him.
He lowered himself to the much shorter rat's level, and snagged a short, quick, awkward kiss, head cocked to the side to avoid their noses stabbing into eachother, or worse, an eye.

 

Ratboy jumped, shocked and caught of guard, not really having time to respond before the taller of the two backed off, letting go of his hands, John clasped one over his own mouth.

 

"I-- I'm so sorry, I..!" He stumbled over his words, trying to apologize. "There's- that was inexcusable, I, I don't know what's gotten into me, I-" He cut himself off, clenching his teeth and burying his face in his hands, claws raking at his forehead.

 

"H-hey, no, it's alright, Johnny, no harm done!" Ratboy reassured, gently, patting him on the arms. "I'm not angry or anything!"

 

"No?" John's hands lowered, away from his eyes, still on his face, but he could see now. Though he was sort of avoiding eye contact anyway. "You should be! I don't see why you wouldn't be."

 

Ratboy took his hands again. "And I don't see why I should be." He smiled, teeth 'n' all. "I think it was sweet! I didn't mind at all."

 

"I... seem to be at a loss for words.." The hairless King stated, gripping a bit at the other's hands. "... You've always been too forgiving. I'm thankful for that, though."

 

"I'm glad to hear it." Ratboy responded, pausing for a moment before standing up on the tips of his toes, planting a little kiss on John's face, catching the very edge of his mouth with it, said rat looking down at the younger in what could be described as surprise, or maybe disbelief. "S'getting really late, I should head home now. See you again soon?" It was more of a hopeful question than a statement.

 

John stared for a moment, before nodding, "Yes, of course." He looked down at his hands as Ratboy let go of them, then watch as he leaved, waving goodbye as the other did.
Soon enough he went inside his castle, finally closing the massive doors of the building. He stood with his back to the door, sighing under his breath before leaning back against the doors, sliding down a bit. Another moment passed, and a smile, that he had been restraining, crossed his face, and he put a hand over his chest, where his heart was. It was only now starting to slow down, he was so sure he might have very well destroyed that friendship, but it seemed quite the opposite. He was glad.

 

"So I'm guessing the walk went well?"

 

Little King John jumped upon hearing a voice, eyes darting before landing on his stumpy, squashy little pal, who was standing right in front of him.
"How much of that did you see?"

 

"I came here only a while after you opened the doors. I saw just about all of it." Sneezy nodded to himself as he spoke. "For a lack of better words, I'd dare say that little exchange was cute."

 

John groaned and grimaced, standing up and starting walking to his room. "No. Don't say that." He stated. "I made a damn fool of myself."



"But, he said he didn't mind. In fact, it seemed like he reciprocated."

 

"Why were you watching anyway? It was a private conversation. It's not polite to eavesdrop, you know."

 

"Good point."

 

John nodded. "Mhm." And remained quiet for the rest of the trip to his room, the only noise being distant machinery at work, the 'plap pap pap pap" sound of Sneezy trotting after the king, and the occasional yawning from said king.
Once in the comfort of his room, he grabbed his nightclothes, headed into his washroom to change (Sneezy going ahead an going to his own little bed while he did), then went straight to bed. He'd bathe and brush his teeth in the morning. He'd think about things in the morning.