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[ P - Pre-Teen ]

A few years had passed since Shinji's arrival, but nothing hard really changed on Art Drive. The only thing that even showed how the time had passed was the countless photos of Blob on the wall, showing memorable milestones of a LARGE blonde boy beating at a crab with a sand shovel or his weight crushing a brand new bicycle. Others showed this pink tank to be proudly shown off by his balding father or to be cuddled and primped by his spindly mother. Nothing even showed the hint that there was another boy living there.

Shinji slept quietly in a closet behind the front door, but it wasn't long before he heard his aunt's fear wracking voice, " Get up, you unfashionable worm!"

Shinji jumped and nearly hit his head on the wall before hearing his aunt once more, " UP!"

Shinji lay back, trying to remember a dream he had, he liked it. It involved a giant and a demonic horse. He wondered why he liked it, but he did, well any demonic horse couldn't possibly be as bad as his "dear" aunt Cruella.

" Are you up yet?!" Her striking voice rang outside the door.

" Almost."

" Well hurry, It's Blobby's birthday and I want you to look after the bacon. If you so much as burn a speck from sleep you won't eat for a month! I want everything to be perfect. So get a move on!"

Shinji groaned, whispering to himself, " Honestly, why does she call him `Blobby-kins', you think he'd be embarrassed by it."

" What was that?!" she seemed to snap like a crocodile.

" I'll be out as soon as I get my shirt on."

"Good," she said curtly as Shinji could hear her ruffled her way back to the kitchen.

How could he have forgotten Blob's birthday? It was celebrated like the birthday of a saint around here. He reached under his hammock, which was tied so loosely the only way it stayed up was that Shinji was so light, and pulled out his shirt, slipping it on.

When he got to the kitchen, it seemed buried in gifts for Blob of all shapes, color and size. It seemed he had gotten everything he wanted, even the more expensive things. One was a new set of boxing gloves. Shinji knew why he didn't ask for a bag too, that's because Blob planned for Shinji to be it. Shinji had to thank Blob in a way, because of him, there was nothing faster on two legs then Shinji, himself.

Maybe it was living in the Dreary's closet, but Shinji was awfully small and even skinny for his age. Pale with dark hair and dark eyes. His clothes were all of Blob's old things, things that Shinji could argue that if spread over a tree would keep a small village dry in a rain storm. The only thing he liked about his plain appearance was a star-shaped scar on his forehead, but his uncle would always make him cover it with his bangs or even wear a Band-Aid over it and say he tripped and hit his head. All the more reason for his uncle to say he was a "nutty kid". All his life, he asked his Aunt about that scar and about his parents, all he ever got was, " You got that scar when your parents died in a car crash. Don't ask questions."

Don't ask questions, that was the golden rule around here.

Uncle Homer came in the kitchen grumbling his usual greeting of "coffee...." and " Comb your hair," to Shinji.

He always complained that Shinji's hair was a spiky mess, but no matter how much gel or anything that aunt Cruella used, Shinji's hair would always return to that spiky and, what Blob would call inhuman, mess.

Not long after, Blob thudded into the kitchen with his mother. He was the largest boy Shinji had ever seen. Large all over. He was blonde and pink, with enough fat to power a small county. Aunt Cruella would often call him adorable, but abominable slob was more Shinji's term.

Shinji put breakfast on the remaining room of the table as Blob seemed to be counting his gifts. His face suddenly sank as he spun on his mother, "36? That's 2 less then last year."

Cruella bit her lip, and smiled at him in her warm and scary fashion, " Darling, some the gifts were a tad expensive."

Shinji felt like something was going to explode, so he began to wolf down his breakfast before he was sent to his closet and couldn't finish his meal. Uncle Homer saw that Blob looked a tad on the upset side, and that was the last thing he wanted, " How about this, son? When we go out today, I'll get you 2 souvenirs... sound fair?"

Blob began to think, well as much thinking as Shinji thought might have been possible for him, and finally nodded, "all I'll have thirty, thirty...ugh...more presents then before!"

Aunt Cruella clapped for him like it was a major achievement as she sat him down and handed him the first parcel.

Shinji was right, by the time Blob was half way through his gifts, he had a new bike, camera, watch, action figures, TV, and he was in the middle of unwrapping what looked like a stereo when the phone rang and Aunt Cruella went to get it.

She came back looking rather flustered, " Homer, Darling...Mrs. Rubble has broken her arm and can't possible baby-sit....Shinji," she made a disgusted look on her face as if saying his name was like taking bad medicine.

Blob seemed horrified, but Shinji was nothing less of overjoyed. Every year they left him with Mrs. Rubble when they took Blob and a friend out for his birthday. Shinji never liked it there, not because he hated Mrs. Rubble, he just found her creepy and staying at her house was more boring then not.

" Now what?" she seemed to snap at Shinji, as if it was his fault.

" We could phone my sister."

" Don't be ridiculous, Homer. She hates the boy, his presence will just upset her to the utmost."

Shinji was used to these conversations, he got to thinking he was a disease at times with the way he was spoken about.

" What about your friend? Jane Jetson?" asked Uncle Homer.

" On Vacation in the rings of Saturn," she snapped back with all the warmth of a python.

" You could just leave me here," Shinji spoke for once. He liked that idea. He might be able to watch something on the television, maybe even secretly play on Blob's video game console, but it looked like that was out of the question as he saw Aunt Cruella's face go sour, " and tear down the house!?"

" I won't break anything. I promise!"

" Out of the question!" she thought, " I suppose we could leave him in the car..."

Uncle Homer jumped in, " That car has only 2 more payments, he's not sitting in it alone!"

Blob began to wail out a sound that sounded like a cat dying and his mother, as usual, came rushing to his side, " Oh Blobby-kins, don't worry darling. Mummy dearest won't let....that....spoil your special day," She flung her arms about him as far around as that would reach.

" But...I...don'!" he wailed again in a noise that could make anyone's ears shatter, " He always ruins everything!"

The doorbell suddenly rang as Aunt Cruella looked up, " Homer, he's here. Get the door."

A moment later, a boy that was nicknamed Toad and also happened to be Blob's best friend, walked into the room. Toad was a lanky boy with a hunched over look to him and a have slimy character to his personality. Blob stopped his crocodile tears.

Half an hour later, who could believe it, but there was Shinji in the back seat of Uncle Homer's car with Toad and Blob to see the zoo for the first time. No one could think of what to do with him, but before they left, his uncle took him aside and talked to him, " I'm warning you boy, any stupid moves and no dinner from now till Christmas! Mmm...dinner...," he snapped back into thought, " Got that?"

" I'll behave, honestly."

Uncle Homer had his doubts, but so did everyone else.

Strange things seemed to happen around Shinji. He never directly caused a single one, but he was always blamed for it.

Today though was different. Nothing strange would happen. It was worth being with Toad and Blob just to get one day outside his closet, not at school, or in Mrs. Rubble's living room, but some place new.

Uncle Homer was complaining about work and his boss as they drove along, passing a few cars. He wondered whether to mention his dream about the demonic horse, but they might think he was the devil if said a thing, so he thought better of it. After all, if there was anything the Drearys hated more then his mere presence it was him asking "abnormal" questions.

It was sunny day at the zoo, and it was crowded with families of all kinds. At the entrance, Uncle Homer bought two triple cones for Blob and Toad, and just before hurrying away, the lady asked if Shinji wanted one too. Shinji thought better then to answer, and his reward was a cheap snow cone, but he didn't complani, it was more then the Drearys had ever gotten him in his life, and he liked the taste.

Shinji walked a bit away from the Drearys, so that if Toad and Blob got bored they wouldn't decide to all of a sudden bully him for entertainment. They ate lunch at the zoo restaurant, where Blob began to complain about his Ice Cream Mountain not having enough fudge or sprinkles. Uncle Homer bought him another, and Shinji was allowed to finish the first.

Shinji should have seen this to be all too good to be true.

After lunch, they went to the reptile house. Toad and Blob wanted to see the biggest of the most dangerous, but Shinji had no intention of over-running the place. He simply wanted to soak in the surroundings. Blob had found the biggest Python in the place in no time. It was big enough to eat Blob, but it didn't seem like it cared to, in fact, it looked like it was asleep.

Blob tapped the glass, but the snake was motionless. Uncle Homer came over and pounded on the glass twice with his fist, but nothing happened.

" This is boring," huffed Blob as he wandered away talking with Toad, probably plotting on how to coax an alligator into eating Shinji.

Shinji looked at the snake, and felt sorry for it. He wasn't even sure if the snake had died of boredom. After all, there wasn't much to see here in this dark and damp area.

The snake suddenly awoke and lifted it's head to look Shinji in the eye.

Shinji almost gasped, but thought better of it. He looked around, no one was watching as he pressed a hand to the glass. The snake looked over at the Drearys with disgust and back to Shinji. Shinji though hard, he never thought he would make friends, even more oddly, with a snake. He decided to ask a question, but couldn't say anything, though somehow he had heard everything in his head, " Where are you from?"

The boa's voice in Shinji's head was raspy and hiss-like..., " Boa Conssstrictorsss are from Brazzzzzzil....."

" Was it nice there?"

" I wouldn't...know....I wasssss bred here..."

As Shinji held his conversation, a shout behind him made him jump, " Mr. Dreary! Blob! Take a look at this!" Before he knew it, Shinji was pushed to the ground by Toad. What happened next had little to no explanation. Shinji narrowed his eyes in anger and the room seemed to grow dark, a white-line streaking across the glass of the boa's tank. The glass then shattered and sent Blob and Toad flying back as....

Chibi Duo Bat thing came running out at speeds of Mach 3 screaming, "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE....."

He was being chased by our braided hero, who wasn't too far behind, wailing his hat about wildly as if hoping to scoop up the tiny annoyance. With that they ran off screen.

Blob and Toad looked confused at what had come out of the cell, but what came out next had them shrieking in terror. The great snake was slithering past them and out the reptile house, turning only to wink to Shinji before it made it's way out.

The zoo director repeatedly apologized for what happened and said he would have the glass fixed on every tank right away. Blob and Toad seemed to be in a state of shock, but as soon as they could speak, they kept going on about their lives had been at stake. Worse then any of their gibbering though, was Toad calming down enough to say, " Shinji was taunting it. Weren't you Shinji? I bet he was trying to get it to break loose."

As soon as Toad had gone home, Uncle Homer turned on Shinji, " dinner...NOW!"

He ran into his closet, only turning enough to watch Aunt Cruella bring Uncle Homer a cold beer in hopes of calming him down. He heard Uncle Homer's more calmed tone, ""

Shinji curled up in his hammock. He wished he had a watch. Afterall, until they were asleep, sneaking out for food was out of the question.

He had lived with the Drearys for five years now, well since the car accident his parents had supposedly died in. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't remember one. He supposed it was the amnesia. He did remember a lot of water though and a blinding explosion. The thought that might have been the crash, but he doubted a car could explode like that. He didn't know a thing about his parents, and was forbidden to ask. His Aunt and Uncle had no pictures of them.

When he was younger, Shinji dreamed of some magic fairy godfather or mother coming to take him away, but naturally, that would never happen. The Drearys were his only family. Unusually though, Shinji had always gotten the feeling that the strangers out in the street knew him. He had been stopped once by a man in an entirely black outfit with a red bandanna around his forehead and a warming smile despite his hoodlum appearance. He was also waved to once by another man dressed in tight fitting leather attire with darker skin and bleach white hair, but these people seemed to disappear the minute he thought too much of them.

In school, Shinji had no one. Everyone knew how much Blob hated him, and no one ever questioned Blob's gang of bullies.