Jet finds an unexpected companion.
Jet had never really been much of an animal person. He'd had a bad experience at a petting zoo when he was three. But who was he to resist when Smellerbee and Longshot brought in the small, hungry armadillo-dog? After all, it was... kinda cute. And hey, maybe a pet was just what Jet needed to get over Li's rejection of him.
...Besides, Longshot kept giving him looks every time he tried to refuse.
The young armadillo-dog (or pup, really, it couldn't have been more than a few months old) had been found on the streets alone in a crate. Jet guessed that it had been part of a litter a family was trying to give away, but it was the only one left. When Longshot had picked it up out of the crate and noticed the crook in its tail and the limp to its left hind-leg, it wasn't hard to see why.
So there they were: a sociopath, a tomboy, a mute, and a crippled animal, trying to make it by themselves in the big city.
Luckily, Taro (as Smellerbee had named him) would eat anything, so food wasn't much of a problem. What was a problem was the walking, the playing, and the cleaning up after. All of which became Jet's duties, for reasons unbeknownst to him.
They'd made a sort of makeshift leash for Taro out of a piece of spare rope. When he needed a walk, they'd loop the rope around his neck, underneath the first plate of his shell. The first time they'd tried it, the rope was too tight, and he'd rolled himself into a ball in defense. It had taken an hour of coaxing with treats to get him to unfurl.
After a while, it became second nature to Jet to take care of the small creature. He understood his growls and barks and whimpers as easily as Longshot's gestures and looks or the signals he'd used while fighting in the treetops.
And he had to admit, Taro made a good companion. He never asked questions, and he never demanded anything more than food and attention. He'd walk him at night and in the mornings, feed him scraps from the table, and play-fight with him when the others weren't looking, barking and growling and playing tug-of-war with the leash.
One night, at dinnertime, Smellerbee said that Taro might as well be part of their almost-family. Jet approved of this idea, and announced Taro as an honorary Freedom Fighter. Taro, in turn, barked twice, licked Jet's face, and rolled around on the floor happily.
And Jet smiled, a true smile, for the first time since he was eight years old.