~10 & 22~
Taking in little Stimpy was probably one of the most interesting experiences of his life. Oh yes, the little cat was definitely stupid. That much Ren could see. He was slow, dimwitted, incredibly naive, and oblivious to a lot of things. It was beginning to make more and more sense as to why his parents abandoned him.
Yet, Ren still wanted to punch those idiots in the face for that. Stimpy may have been stupid, but he was the sweetest, most loving kid he'd ever met. How could anyone have wanted to dump off the poor kid? Even on his worst days, Ren never failed to feel a sense of warmth and pride whenever he put the little cat to bed for the night. He did make the right choice.
Having Stimpy around definitely made things, in a way, so much brighter. In ways he never expected. Stimpy liked to laugh, share silly ideas and stories, play around, and anything else that could amuse him. Oh sure, he made messes and sometimes ended up breaking things... but Ren never stayed mad at him for long.
On this particular morning, Ren was having a great dream. A perfect dream. He was out on a beach, laying on a towel and enjoying the sun. With a happy sigh, he adjusted his sunglasses and stretched out his hind legs. Then came a beautiful sight. A gorgeous blonde woman with incredible curves and a sultry smile. She sat down beside his towel, speaking to him.
“Ren! Ren, it's time to get up! Come on!” She exclaimed, suddenly grinning childishly. She reached down and shook his shoulders.
“Waaaaah! Let me go!” Ren cried, squirming and trying to free himself. This caused him to wake up, finding that he was at home. In bed. With an overly excited Stimpy sitting on top of him and shaking his shoulders. “Agh! Steempy, get off me!”
“Oh good, you're awake!” Stimpy grinned, obliging as he hopped off the chihuahua and onto the floor. “I'm so glad you're awake, Ren! We're gonna have so much fun today!”
Ren blinked his bleary eyes, then sat up and rubbed the sleep from them. If there was one thing he missed about being a bachelor, it was being able to sleep as long as he wanted to. He sighed, looking down at his ward with annoyance, “What do you want, Steempy? I was trying to sleep!”
“I know, but I had to get you up and ready!” Stimpy said, grabbing him by the hand and pulling him out of bed. “Come on! I made you a special breakfast!”
For a kid, especially one of his stupidity, Stimpy was a surprisingly good cook. Ren couldn't help adhering to the fact that his stomach was now demanding some food. He sighed, following the small cat out of the room, “All right, all right! I'm comeeng.”
“Oh, joy!” Stimpy said excitedly, leading the way to the kitchen.
Once there, Ren was surprised to find that a whole plethora of food was set out on the table. Pancakes, bacon, toast, eggs, and some sliced bananas. Usually breakfast was simple, which suited him fine. Big ones like this were only on special occasions. But what was so special about today? Ren wasn't even sure.
Even the mess around the counters and sink didn't deter from the image. Ren looked at Stimpy, who was smiling up at him with his hands behind his back. So innocent.
“So... what's all dis, Steempy?” Ren asked, pointing to the table.
“What do you mean, Ren? Did you forget that today was your birthday?” Stimpy giggled.
Eyes going wide, Ren darted over to look at the calendar on the nearby wall. Sure enough, the date was his birthday. He hadn't marked it, but the date stood out regardless. Ears going flat, Ren smiled sheepishly as he turned back to his ward.
“Heh heh... what do you know, eet ees!” Ren chuckled, going back over to the table, “Wait, you remembered?”
“Of course I did!” Stimpy smiled, bringing over a pitcher of orange juice to the table. “Why wouldn't I remember?”
“...I only told you once,” Ren said, sitting down now. “And I wasn't even theenking when I said eet.”
Stimpy giggled, sitting down as well and pouring them some juice, “Well, I remembered! I reminded myself every single day! And since it's the first birthday you're having since you took me in, I wanted to make it special!”
Shaking his head in amusement, Ren started to eat. Stimpy was way too giving. It was almost astounding to see this kind of behaviour from someone. To just give somebody they care about something nice and expect nothing in return. It was hard to get into that mentality, but he had to admire Stimpy for it.
Looking up, Ren wiped his mouth and set his fork down, “What ees eet, Steempy?”
“Could I... have five bucks to go buy you a cake?” Stimpy asked hopefully, giving a coy smile.
Blinking a few times, Ren tilted his head, “But why? I could just go get eet myself.”
“I know, but... I want to surprise you with it!” Stimpy said, squirming in his seat a little bit, “Please?”
Sighing, Ren rolled his eyes and then reached into his pocket, placing a five dollar bill on the table. “Fiiiine. But don't be gone too long! I can't have you getting lost again.”
“Yes sir, Ren!” Stimpy gave him a salute, then took the money and tucked it away in his fur. “Soooo, how old are ya, old man?”
Snorting a bit, Ren shrugged as he continued to eat, “Twenty-two now.”
“Really? That's cool! I'm only ten! So that makes you a lot of years older than me!” Stimpy proceeded to count on his fingers, “Uh... one... two... three...”
Rolling his eyes, Ren sighed and looked at him, “De answer's eeleven, Steempy.”
“Ohhh, okay!” Stimpy giggled, getting back to eating as well. He hummed happily while doing so, bobbing a bit in his chair to the tune. “So Ren, what do you want to do for your birthday? Whatever it is you want to do, we'll do it!”
This made Ren grin as he considered the possibilities. Going out to a bar or strip club had been his usual way of having fun on this day. Or heck, just going down to the beach to look at beautiful girls was a great option as well. He glanced at Stimpy, then deflated slightly.
Doing all of that was out of the question. He had a kid to raise. Anything he was to do today had to be kid-friendly. So what was he supposed to do? Dropping him off at his mother's wasn't going to help, either. Stimpy seemed completely intent on spending the day with him. As much as Ren was perfectly fine with dropping him off, he had a feeling Stimpy wouldn't be too happy. He had to suck it up and figure out what they could do together.
“I'm not sure, Steempy,” Ren admitted with a mild shrug, “I never had to do eet like dis before. Eh, I'll feegure eet out.”
“Okay, Ren!” Stimpy bounced happily, giving a giggle.
After breakfast, Ren figured he could probably get inspiration if they went out for a walk. Stimpy happily agreed to this, practically dragging him out the door. Despite his protests, Ren allowed the little cat to pull him outside. It was a nice sunny spring day, just the kind of day for this sort of thing.
As Ren walked along, occasionally fixing his jacket, his eyes scoped around the people they passed. Sure enough, some pretty women were passing the duo by. Ren gave wolf whistles and winks to a lot of them, most of which were met with ignoring or scorn.
Making sure his ward wasn't watching, Ren smirked and walked under the skirts of a couple women standing nearby. In moments like this, he definitely had to admit that being so small was a good thing.
'Lovely ladies... I'll have to feegure a way to get dem home weethout Steempy seeing eet...' Ren thought.
Looking up, he came across a woman standing near a storefront, looking at the produce. Bingo. He licked his lips, then turned to Stimpy.
“All right Steempy, I'm gonna go talk do dat cheeck over dere. Don't do or say anyting stupeed, okay? Just let me do de talking.”
Stimpy nodded, giving him a salute, “You got it, Ren!”
“Good,” Ren said with relief, heading over toward his target, “Reemember. Quiet as a mouse!”
“...But I'm a cat,” Stimpy blinked, looking confused.
Sighing, Ren rolled his eyes and stuffed his hands into his pockets, “Eet was a feegure of speech, eediot.”
After a few moments, they reached the woman. To which Ren leaned against the produce rack, shooting her a seductive smirk.
“Well hello dere, meess... Lookin' for something yummy?” He said, giving her a wink.
The woman giggled, smiling down him, “Awww, aren't you adorable!”
Ren faltered for a moment, but realized it was at least a good reaction, “Uh, yes! Cute, dat's me! And you're lovely.”
“Oh, thank you!” The woman smiled more, “And what's your name, little doggy?”
“Ren, Ren Hoek, ma'am,” Ren bowed to her, giving a debonair smile, “Eef you don't mind my saying-”
“And who's this little cutie?!” Said the woman, picking up Stimpy and scratching his ears, “Awww, he's so cute! Is he yours, Mr. Hoek?”
Stimpy giggled and nuzzled into her hand, very much enjoying the attention. Ren wanted to curl up in a corner and just die. He sighed, rubbing his face and faltering all the more, “Dat's Steempy. He's... well, he's my son.”
“Your son?! Oh, wow!” The woman exclaimed, nuzzling Stimpy and then gently setting him down, “That's incredible! You must be quite a proud father!”
Ren blushed, giving a light laugh, “Well... what can I say, I'm daddy of de year!”
“Awww... I just love seeing men taking their sons out! It's so sweet!” The woman giggled, taking a couple of vegetables into her basket, “Well, I have to go pay now! Ta-ta, Mr. Hoek! You too, Stimpy!”
“Bye-bye, lady!” Stimpy waved after her, giggling, “Wow, Ren! She was very nice!”
“Yeah...” Ren said absentmindedly. He paced a little bit, thinking this over. 'So... women like men weeth children... Aha! Of course! Eet's so obvious! Women like eet when a man is good weeth keeds! Eet's perfect!' “Well Steempy, eet looks like you'll be useful after all!”
“Huh? What do you mean, Ren?” Stimpy asked, looking up at him curiously.
“I mean...” Ren knelt down at his level, “You'll be able to help me... get a girl's attention. See, women like to see a man with his keeds, eet makes dem so...” He paused, trying to figure a way to put it.
“Happy?” Stimpy offered.
“Exactly! Happy!” Ren laughed, patting his head, “So, eef you'll help me out... We can go get ice cream.”
“Ice cream?! Oh, joy! That sounds great, Ren!” Stimpy happily clapped his hands. “And since it's your birthday, you can pick where we go!”
'Today really ees my birthday... I'm feeling lucky!' Ren thought. He chuckled and continued to walk along, “Awright, den let's get going. We can start at de park.”
Stimpy's eyes lit up, his smile growing, “Really?! The park? Joy! We haven't been there in a while!”
Unable to help it, Ren smiled warmly at his ward's enthusiasm. The little cat happily frolicked alongside him, looking like a child on Christmas morning. One would think it was his birthday!
'You know... maybe I really don't need anyting. Having Stimpy ees de best present I've had een a long time,' Ren thought, sighing softly. He then cleared his throat and gathered his thoughts, trying to focus less on the sappy stuff. 'Damn eet, I'm getting way too mushy...'
Stimpy grinned up at him, “Happy Birthday!”
And that was it. It was all he said in that moment. Yet, the grin on his face and the eagerness in his tone was... nice. How was anyone so excited and happy for someone else's birthday? Stimpy was an odd one, for sure. But he was a sweetheart. It was impossible not to appreciate his kind gestures.
Hiding a smile, Ren averted his gaze, “Thanks, leettle buddy.”
~11 & 22~
“Let's go over eet one more time, Steempy. Who's de peetcher and who's de catcher?”
“Hmmm.... Ooh! I know! That's the pitcher, that's the catcher!”
Ren laughed as he turned the flash cards around to show the correct answers, “Dat's correct, Steempy. Maybe you're learning more dan I thought.”
“Oh, joy!” Stimpy happily clapped his hands, smiling brightly, “Can we go out and play baseball, Ren? Please?”
“Steempy, we can't play actual baseball! There's only de two of us,” Ren said with a light roll of his eyes. Nonetheless, he went over to a nearby box and pulled out a baseball, glove, catcher's mit, and a bat. Winking at his ward, he headed toward the apartment door and grabbed his baseball hat, “But we can go play catch!”
“Yipee!” Stimpy said excitedly, following after him. “I've always wanted to play catch!”
Ren glanced at him as they headed to the stairs, “Haven't you played weeth your dad?”
Stimpy sighed, shaking his head, “Not really... Dad kept saying I kept getting hit in the head with the ball rather than catching it. He didn't even bother teaching me.”
Clenching his fists, Ren turned his gaze away and growled under his breath. Whoever Stimpy's parents were, they were certainly lucky right now. Otherwise, he would be pummeling them into next Tuesday. The more he heard about them, the more he hated them.
“Well Steempy, your dad's an asshole,” Ren sighed, barely looking at him, “Even eef dey showed up right now, I'd tell dem to go seet on catctuses! Because dey can go f-”
“I think it's cacti, Ren!” Stimpy corrected.
Ren twitched a little, “De day I'm corrected by an eediot-oh! ...Heh, you're right, Steempy. Not bad.”
Stimpy smiled brightly, “Did I do good, Ren?”
They came outside the apartment building, going around to the back. Although it wasn't a typical backyard size, it was a sizable grassy lot. Stimpy happily frolicked along, bouncing with joy.
“Let's play, Ren! Let's play!” He said.
“Awright, awright! Hold your horses, man!” Ren chided, going over to the cat and handing him the catcher's mitt, “So for dis lesson, I'm de pitcher and you're de catcher. All you have to do is catch de ball precisely in dat glove! Tink you can do dat?”
Stimpy nodded and placed the glove over his hand, “You got it, Ren! I'm ready!”
Ren chuckled, then walked a few paces away and bounced the baseball up and down in one hand, “You better watch out, man! I have a mean fastball!”
“I can take it!” Stimpy giggled, pumping his fist into the mitt.
“Don't say I didn't warn you!” Ren winked. He threw his arm back, wound up the shot, and then tossed the ball.
“Ooh ooh! I got it I got it I got it!” Stimpy began to panter about, trying to catch the ball. It bounced to the ground at his feet.
“Steempy! You're not supposed to run around!” Ren yelled, shaking his head, “You have to stand still!”
Stimpy blushed in embarrassment, but nodded, “Okay, Ren! I'll try it again!” He picked up the ball and threw it back to him. Clumsily, of course.
Picking the ball up, Ren wound up for another pitch. He closed one eye, carefully aimed, and then tossed the ball right at the target. The ball sailed through the air and landed in Stimpy's waiting glove.
“Oh, joy! I caught it! I caught it!” Stimpy cheered, laughing happily, “That was a great pitch, Ren!”
“Of course eet was,” Ren smirked proudly, “I've got a mean fastball.”
~12 & 23~
Happily settling into his bed, Stimpy sighed happily and giggled, making himself comfortable, “Thanks for tucking me in, Ren!”
“You can do eet yourself, you know,” Ren said dryly, pulling the covers over the little cat.
“I know, but it's better when you do it,” Stimpy smiled, his cheeks turning a bit pink.
Ren looked at him oddly, “What's weeth you? Are you getting seeck?”
Shaking his head, Stimpy made himself comfortable against his pillow, “Nope, I'm fine! Goodnight, Ren!”
“Goodnight, Steempy,” Ren gave a light smile, then turned off his lamp and headed to the door.
“What?!” Ren whirled around suddenly.
“No goodnight kiss?” Stimpy pouted at him.
Ren blinked, utterly shocked, “...You're keeding, right?”
“Nope!” Stimpy grinned.
“Go to bed, eediot,” Ren rolled his eyes and headed to the door again.
“Pretty please?” Stimpy begged.
This was ridiculous. Stimpy was twelve, for crying out loud! He himself had outgrown goodnight kisses from his mother at a younger age. It hadn't even been an issue for either of them since day one. Why was it being brought up now?
“Oh, alright! Eef I do it, you promise to go to sleep? And let me sleep in?” Ren asked, resigned by now.
“Sure, Ren!” Stimpy brightened visibly.
All this just for a goodnight kiss?
Shaking it off, Ren walked over and leaned down, giving a little kiss to the cat's head, “Dere. Happy?”
“Joy!” Stimpy giggled, blushing a bit, “Thanks, Ren! Nighty night!”
Relieved that it was over, Ren nodded and headed to the door, “Goodnight, Steempy.”
For a moment or two he paused, then glanced over his shoulder; expecting Stimpy to speak up again. When he didn't, Ren exhaled and left the room, closing the door behind him. Making his way over to the couch, he sat down and exhaled softly, making himself comfortable.
A bright smile came to his face then as he chuckled to himself. “Dat keed is too much...” A little flutter came to his heart, but he pushed it aside for now. At least he had nothing to worry about for the time being.
“Steempy! Come on, we're going to be late!” Ren called into the apartment again, tapping his foot impatiently.
“Coming, Ren!” Stimpy called back, finally scrambling into view. He was doting a hardhat, boots, and a small toolbox, “Okay, I'm ready!”
“Took you long enough,” Ren muttered, shaking his head. He ushered his ward out the door and closed it behind them, making sure it was locked.
Stimpy giggled, following him, “Soooo, where we goin' again?”
Groaning, Ren palmed his muzzle and rolled his eyes, “God, Steempy, I told you! Dad asked us to come and help him build a couple of bookshelves!”
“Joy!” Stimpy grinned at this idea, getting a bounce in his step, “Is this what they call quality father-son time? Building stuff together?”
Shrugging, Ren adjusted his toolbelt as they walked, “You could say dat.”
“So, it'll be you, me, and Grandpa doing all this manly building stuff? That sounds fun!” Stimpy said excitedly, his eyes gleaming.
Ren couldn't help chuckling at the very factor that his father was practically a grandfather. “Just try not to do anyting stupeed, okay?”
“I'll do my best, Ren!” Stimpy said, reaching up to take his hand.
Looking down at him, Ren pulled his hand away, “What are you doing?”
“Just holdin' your hand!” Stimpy said cheekily, giving him a grin, “You wouldn't want me to get lost, would ya?”
Rolling his eyes, Ren sighed and took his hand again, “All right, fine! Stay close to me, den.”
They walked along in silence for some time, nearing the suburban neighbourhood his parents lived in. For most of the walk, Stimpy was surprisingly quiet aside from occasional whistles and hums. Despite that, he had a big smile on his face and a gleam in his eyes. Ren shrugged a bit, deciding to enjoy the silence while he could.
So much for that.
“What ees eet, Steempy?”
“Would it be weird for me to say that you're very handsome?” Stimpy asked, an innocent smile on his face.
A little surprised at the odd question, Ren glanced down at his ward. He considered for a moment or two, then shrugged, “No, not really. Facts are facts, anyway.”
“Okay! Well, I think you're a very handsome guy!” Stimpy giggled, grinning at him now. “I don't know how you do it, but it's working!”
Ren couldn't help chukling a bit, shaking his head, “What can I say, looking good ees just part of what I gotta do.”
“Then don't you stop!” Stimpy winked at him.
What was with that? Ren shrugged it off, patting him on the head with his free hand, “As eef I would, Steempy.”
Finally, they soon made it to his parents' place. His father was already out on the driveway, organizing some lumber and a sawing table. Some schematics were strewn on the table, held down by paperweights, and a large toolbox sat next to it. All the while, Mrs. Hoek was working on her garden, and waved to the boys as they came up the curb.
Mr. Hoek looked up and gave them both a nod before beckoning them closer. Ren let go of Stimpy's hand, then jogged over to his father.
“You boys ready for some work?” Mr. Hoek said, looking from Ren to Stimpy, an amused glint in his eyes.
“We sure are, Mr. Hoek!” Stimpy said eagerly, adjusting his hat, “Anything you need us to do, we're on it!”
Ren glanced down at his ward, then shrugged and jerked his thumb in his direction, “Yeah, what he said.”
Mr. Hoek chuckled and patted Stimpy's head, “Glad to hear it, boys. We'll start by measuring out and cutting the wood for the shelves. Here, I'll show you.”
Taking a strip of lumber, he placed it onto the table and produced a tape measure. Upon finding the correct measure point, he marked it with a pencil. Hopping onto a nearby stool in order to see better, Stimpy watched with eager interest as his honourary grandfather showed them the indicated line.
“That's about the length we want for the shelves, around sixteen and a half inches,” Mr. Hoek said, then pointed to a saw that sat over the bench. “Think you boys can get us started?”
Ren glanced at the pile of lumber, counting six of them. He nodded toward his father and gave a cocky smirk, “Oh, dat won't be a problem.”
“Great,” Mr. Hoek chuckled and patted his son's head, earning a grumble in response, “I have to get some more nails and screws from the garage, I'll be right back.”
“Sure thing, Mr. Hoek!” Stimpy said brightly, waving after him. He turned to Ren and tugged on his jacket, “Say Ren, could you show me how to saw?”
Looking at the large saw, then at Stimpy, Ren hesitated, “I don't know, Steempy... It's pretty beeg and I wouldn't want you to cut yourself.”
“Please? I promise I'll be careful!” Stimpy gave him puppy dog eyes yet again, even sticking out his lower lip.
'Dees keed is going to be de death of me...' Ren thought. He rolled his eyes and sighed heavily, “Fine! But I'm going to help you. Mom will have my head if anything happens to you!”
“Okay, Ren!” Stimpy said agreeably, reaching for the saw, only for Ren to slap his hand.
“Be careful, you eediot! You don't know heavy that theeng is!” Ren scolded. He then exhaled, softening his tone somewhat, “Just... let me show you, Steempy.”
With that, he picked up the saw and placed the blade over the marked line on the strip. Nodding to Stimpy, he proceeded to saw it slowly, “See? Like dees. You have to do eet slowly at first, seence you gotta get in dere first.” After a few strokes, he took Stimpy's hand and placed it onto the handle, and then his other hand on the strip, “Hold eet steady while you saw, so dat way it won't jostle! Got eet?”
“I got it!” Stimpy said with a rapid nod. He slowly began to saw, but was having trouble getting it to move. Letting out a breath, Stimpy tried again, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth. After a few more attempted strokes, he barely moved the saw an inch. “Oh, poopoo! I can't do it...”
Shaking his head, Ren stepped up behind him, “Here, let me help, eediot.” He placed his own hand over Stimpy's on the saw, gently grasping it before doing the same over Stimpy's other hand. Making sure the grip on the saw was steady, Ren slowly moved their hands together to cut through the wood.
“Aww, thanks a lot, Ren! Couldn't have done it without you!” Stimpy beamed, leaning back against him a little bit.
Ren looked down at him oddly, then shrugged it off as he continued helping him saw, “Eh, no beeg deal. Keeds your age aren't always dat strong, anyway.”
“You'd be a great lumberjack, Ren!” Stimpy giggled, “Can you imagine? You're just walking around the forest, all rugged and cool, carrying an ax over your shoulder... You come up to the biggest tree in the forest, and you just go right at it! Whack whack, timbeeeeeer!”
The vision made Ren snort, but he couldn't help liking the idea to some degree. Especially if it meant he looked manly and rugged, with some women watching in admiration of his skills. “Heh, dat's not a bad idea, Steempy.”
“Joy!” Stimpy said happily, “Did I do good, Ren?”
Rolling his eyes, Ren hid a smile and nodded, “Yes, Steempy. Yes you deed.”
Finally, the strip was cut just perfectly, to which Stimpy happily cheered. Mr. Hoek had come back from the garage, but hadn't said a word as he watched the two sawing. When Ren looked up, his father was smiling with amusement.
“Good work, boys. That's some solid teamwork you have there.”
“Thanks, Mr. Hoek! Ren is so helpful and strong!” Stimpy grinned widely, “He's the man!”
Giving a smirk, Ren patted his head, “I sure am de man.”
Mr. Hoek laughed heartily, placing a couple of boxes of nails and screws onto the table, “Glad to hear it, son. You ready to cut the rest of them?”
“Oh, we were born ready! Yeeeeaaah! Eye of the Tiger!” Stimpy cheered, pumping his fist into the air.
“Okay, okay, let's not get carried away, Steempy,” Ren coaxed his ward, “Sorry dad, he's too excited.”
“That's okay. I like his enthusiam,” Mr. Hoek smiled, “Let's get to it, boys.”
This evening couldn't have gone better. Oh, Ren was lucking out like nobody's business. Here he sat on the couch, alongside a beautiful female Bischon Frisee. Her name was Greta and she lived across town, but often frequented to the area since she had friends and family nearby.
“Soooo... a lumberjack, are you?” Greta giggled, tracing her finger along his shoulder, “That's impressive.”
“I just started, but I'm pretty damn good,” Ren bragged with a smirk, winking at her, “I can get dose trees down like nobody's beesiness! But... dat doesn't mean I won't give back! Every weekend, I go back and plant every tree I cut down! It's good for the environment, Meess Greta.”
Greta gave a giggle, snuggling closer, “Oooh, what a man! You're so rugged and yet you care! Aw, I love that!”
“Well, I'm a stud, after all,” Ren chuckled and brought an arm around her shoulder. “So what say I show you how much of a stud I really am?”
“Oooohhh! You horrible man!” Greta laughed, playfully batting his chest, “What do you have in mind?”
Ren winked and rubbed her thigh, “My bedroom's just down the hall, so we could-”
The apartment door opened, with Stimpy walking in, humming happily to himself as he carried a couple of tupperware containers. No doubt leftovers from Mrs. Hoek. Upon noticing Ren and Greta, his expression became a mix of happy, confused, and slightly dejected.
“Oh, uh, hi Ren! I didn't know we had company...”
“Steempy!” Ren hissed through gritted teeth, “I'm on a date! Why are you back so early?!”
Stimpy blinked, confused, “...What do you mean, Ren? You told Grandpa to have me back here by nine-thirty. It's nine-thirty now.”
Ren was ready to chew him out, but looked at the VCR clock. Sure enough, it was nine-thirty-one. Had he seriously lost track of the time? Before he could say anything else, Greta flew out of her seat and rushed over to Stimpy.
“Awwww! He's so cute! Hello there, sweetie!” Greta cooed, petting his head, “I didn't know you had a pet, Ren!”
Blushing now, Ren sighed as he began to deflate, “...He's my son.”
“Your son?! Ooohhh! Wow! I didn't know you were a father! Wow!” Greta exclaimed. She giggled and pet Stimpy's nose, “What a cutie!”
“Actually, I'm adopted! Ren took me in a couple years ago!” Stimpy said with a smile. “He's the best dad ever!”
“Awww... How sweet! Good for you!” Greta stood up then, smoothing her blouse. “I'd better go, then! I wouldn't want your son to miss his bedtime! Have a good night, Ren! Goodnight to you too, sweetie!”
“Goodbye!” Stimpy waved after her as she left the apartment. He giggled and closed the door behind her, “Wow Ren, she's so nice!”
Ren grumbled to himself, grabbing the remote and turning on the TV, “Whatever. Go to bed, Steempy.”
Blinking, Stimpy walked toward him, “But why, Ren? I'm not tired.”
“I said go to bed, damn eet!” Ren scolded angrily, glaring now, “Don't make me tell you again!”
Ears drooping, Stimpy turned away and slowly walked toward his room. Given his slumped posture, it was clear he felt ashamed. All at once, Ren felt as if he were smacked across the face. Shame weighed down on him as he slumped over as well. Why did this happen? Stimpy didn't even do anything wrong. Sighing heavily, Ren buried his face in his hands. How could he do that? Did Stimpy really deserve that?
No. He didn't.
Exhaling again, Ren stood up and went toward Stimpy's room. Sure enough, he found his ward curled up on his bed, sniffling. Feeling his heart fall to his stomach, Ren approached and knocked on the doorway.
“Steempy? Are you sleeping?”
A small sniffle sounded from Stimpy, but he didn't respond. Even so, it was all Ren needed. He sighed, then came into the room and sat on the edge of his bed.
“I'm... sorry, Steempy. I lost track of de time and was having a great date. But I deedn't mean to yell at you.”
Stimpy sniffled again, but this time he rolled over to face him, “Is... that why you wanted me out of the house?”
No point in lying. Ren nodded slowly, “Yeah.”
“...Why didn't you say so?” Stimpy asked.
“I don't know,” Ren admitted with a shrug, “You're a keed, you don't understand all dees grownup stuff.”
Stimpy sighed a bit, scooting closer, “I know, but you still could've told me. I mean... I don't really like it, but I'm not going to tell you what you can't do, Ren.”
Ren glanced at the small cat, then sighed as he reached over to pet his head, “Okay, Steempy. I'll tell you next time I bring a date over, okay?”
Giving a little smile, Stimpy nodded, “Okay, Ren.”
Relieved that things were better, Ren stood up and pulled the covers over his ward. He patted his head and then went to leave the room. Just before he turned out the light, he paused for a moment. Turning back around, Ren looked at Stimpy with confusion.
“Wait, what deed you mean when you said you don't like eet?”
“Huh?” Stimpy looked over at him, “Don't like what?”
“You said eet, not me,” Ren approached his ward now, placing his hands on his hips, “So what were you talking about?”
Stimpy blushed and looked away, “Oh, nothing!”
“Steempy...” Ren snarled warningly. “You're hiding sometheeng from me.”
Looking ashamed, Stimpy averted his gaze all the more and sighed, “I'm sorry, Ren! Please forgive me!”
Ren's eyes widened with alarm, “What do you mean? Forgeeve you for what?”
“Seeing you with other girls makes me sad!” Stimpy confessed, hiding his face in his blankets.
“...Oh...” Ren's ears drooped as he approached the bed again, biting his lip. He rubbed his arm a little, unsure how to respond to that. This was the oddest revelation he'd seen in a while, which was saying something. Looking at the little cat, Ren sat down on the bed again and placed his hand on his shoulder, “Well, why?”
“I don't know... I just...” Stimpy looked up at him, his eyes brimming with tears, “I don't want to lose you, Ren...”
“Lose me? What are you talking about?” Ren asked, frowning in confusion.
Stimpy looked away again, clutching the bedcovers tightly. “I feel like one day, you're going to find a beautiful woman, and then just... just leave me. You'll have everything you want and you won't need me anymore. You won't spend time with me or anything...”
The words struck Ren's heart as he began to realize all the more just what Stimpy was saying. He looked at his ward, seeing the sadness in his blue eyes, which didn't help. Squeezing his shoulder gently, Ren exhaled and then rubbed his back, “That's what dees ees about, Steempy? You theenk me seeing a girl will make me just geeve you up?”
“Yes...” Stimpy whimpered, sniffling.
Unable to believe this, Ren shook his head and then brought Stimpy closer into a little hug, “Come on now, don't be stupeed. Just because I'd go with a girl doesn't mean I would just stop being your friend! Dat doesn't make sense.”
“But all those shows, all those cartoons... The character dates someone and just abandons their friends!” Stimpy exclaimed, clinging to him tightly.
Ren rolled his eyes, patting his head, “Steempy, dose shows aren't even real. Even eef dat happens, it's because dat person ees an eediot!”
Wiping his eyes a bit, Stimpy looked up at him hopefully, “Really, Ren?”
“Really,” Ren nodded, patting his back now, “So stop yer sneeveling, Steempy. I'm not going anywhere.”
“You promise?” Stimpy gave a small smile.
Exhaling, Ren nodded once more, “Yes. I promeese.”
Looking more relieved, Stimpy snuggled more into him and closed his eyes. He remained like that for a few moments before speaking up again, “Thanks, Ren. I feel a whole lot better now.”
“Good,” Ren patted his head, then stood up, “Go to sleep, okay? You'll feel better tomorrow.”
“Okay,” Stimpy settled under his blankets and gave a smile, “Goodnight, Ren.”
“Goodnight, Steempy,” Ren hid a smile and headed out of the room, closing the door behind him.
Sitting back on the couch, Ren couldn't help reflecting as he went back to watching TV. How had he not realized that Stimpy would be bothered by that? Then again, it wasn't exactly something that was brought up between them. At least now he knew, right? He just had to make sure it wasn't going to affect his potential love life. It was all about balance. Spending time with his little buddy and dating pretty girls.
Ren grinned to himself as he leaned back against the couch and crossed one leg over the other. At least he still had the advantage of winning girls over once they knew he was raising a kid.
“Hey, Ren! I got the mail!” Stimpy chirped as he came back into the apartment, closing the door behind him. With his butt, of course.
Ren nodded as he read the newspaper at the table, holding his hand out for the mail, “Just give dem here, Steempy.”
“Okay!” Stimpy did so, giggling, “I think you got a Valentine, Ren!”
“...A Valentine?” Ren looked at the envelopes and flipped through them, finding one that wasn't a bill. “But Valentine's Day ees een three days! Eh, oh well. Must be from Grandma or someteeng.”
Stimpy giggled and rocked back and forth on his feet, “Why don't you check it out, Ren?”
“All right, all right!” Ren rolled his eyes. Nonetheless, he was thrilled to get a Valentine like this, to which he grinned widely. He opened the envelope and unfolded the piece of pink paper inside. “Eet says... 'Dear Ren, you are my favorite Valentine!' Well well, looks like somebody's got eet bad for ol' me! 'Nobody ees as smart or funny as you.' Oh come on now! Makeeng me blush over here! Haha! 'You make me laugh and smile like nobody ever has.' How about dat, eh, Steempy? 'You are my favorite person een de whole wide world. Thanks for everyteeng you have ever done. You're the best Valentine ever.' Buttering me up over here! How sweet, eh? 'Love...' Going a little strong, ees she? 'Your pal...'” All at once, Ren's smile faded into a look of surprise, “...Steempy.”
Silence befell the room, to which Ren looked down at Stimpy. The little cat gazed up at him with a sweet smile, his cheeks bright pink and blue eyes glimmering. Stimpy. He had selflessly written him a Valentine. Feeling as if his heart was going to melt, Ren let out a little laugh. Getting up from his chair, he knelt down on the floor and pet Stimpy's head.
“I meant every word,” Stimpy smiled.
“You leetle rascal,” Ren chuckled, then brought his ward into a hug. Hidden from Stimpy's view, tears pooled in Ren's eyes. What had he done to deserve such a sweet sentiment from anyone? It was almost too much. Like he could barely hold himself together without bursting. What a wonderful feeling.
Of course Stimpy hugged him back, which was so like him, as he loved hugs. He was giggling and sighing happily, clearly enjoying himself. “I love you, Ren...” Stimpy murmured, nuzzling into his chest.
Ren chuckled, patting his back, “Love you too, buddy.”
“Joy...” Stimpy giggled.
Later on that day, Ren was putting away Stimpy's laundry, while sometimes picking up items off the floor. Of course Stimpy was a little messy. Of course he forgot to clean his room sometimes. Ren sighed as he did so, reminding himself to tell Stimpy to clean up. He then stepped on something, which turned out to be Stimpy's little notebook. Picking it up, Ren was about to put it on the dresser when something on it caught his eye.
Drawn on the open page was a heart, with Ren & Stimpy Forever written in it. There were many little hearts doodled all around the paper, along with Ren's name written in various spots. All the more curious, Ren flipped through the pages, finding more of the same kinds of doodles. Sometimes with their heads drawn, other times little notes, everything that would pertain to someone with a crush.
Ren blinked a few times, taking it all in. Then he laughed as he placed the notebook down on the dresser, shaking his head. “So Steempy has a crush on me... Dat's cute. At least he's aspiring for quite a man!”