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SUMMARY: I wanted to make this fanfic, as we are close to the special To Steal or Not to Steal to be released in Netflix, so i through having the first meeting of Carmen and the Dalmatian family be angsty, this is an AU that takes place during Season 1 of Carmen Sandiego.

101 Dalmatian Street by Disney, Atomic Cartoons and Passion Animation Studios

Carmen Sandiego by Broderbund, HMH Productions and DHX Media

101 Dalmatian Street: The Master Thief by ploting

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She didn’t remember passing out, high above the skyline. She didn’t remember much of the escape from that fateful fight she had against her former friends. She barely remembered the conversation with her savior. And once he disappeared, she didn’t remember anything at all, just before she black out was seeing Crystal trying to keep her awake.

She didn’t know how worried she’d left Player, when her voice trailed off and she faded into a beaten and exhausted unconsciousness. His frantic voice, calling her name through her earpiece and met with no reply. She couldn’t know the way he’d gone panicked at his desk, his hands shaking and his voice a cracking mess by the time he got Ivy on the phone.

No, she didn’t know any of that, nor did she know the gut wrenching feeling of concern once her friends had tracked her down to her hidden perch. The way they fawned over her, afraid for her safety, wondering if it was even safe for them to move her. Never before had she been beaten down, hurt and defeated yes, but crushed and nearly killed was new to all of them. And none of her friends quite knew how to handle it, not when they were so used to seeing her brush everything off and continue on without flinching.

All the same, they did the best they could. The fact that the only one who was able to keep calm during the situation was her cat Crystal, who was able to led them to a house who according to her the tenants trusted her, it was weird that she knew about that place, but the faster they could treat Carmen’s wounds the better.

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Carmen woke up slowly, lost and completely disoriented. Everything was dark, too dark, but it was a blessing on her pounding head. The air was stale, musty and cold, like it hadn’t seen sunlight in ages. Her vision swam when she tried to look around, and anything more than a few feet ahead was blurred in the darkness, even in the place a few feet away that was lit by blue light.

She felt warm and comfortable, like her upper half was surrounded by a warm soft bed. Something she hadn’t felt in a long time. Maybe Zack and Ivy found a place to keep her safe. Too bad she didn’t felt safe. As her groggy mind came to reality, Carmen tried to breathe a small sigh of relief, another sense of safety calming her as he relaxed back into the bed. When her eyes fluttered open for the first time she could make out the warm glow of a fire. She closed them gently, trying to relax herself back into the throes of sleep.

Wait. Carmen’s eyes shot open. That’s not a fire. The facade of security faded as her vision cleared. It took time for her tired eyes to focus, but even with blurred vision she could see that the object in question wasn’t a fire. It was a television depicting a fireplace. Then Carmen realized her bed was moving—breathing, rather. Chills swept down her spine as her own breath stilled. It was something alive, for sure, and she needed to find out what. But how? By the sounds of snores and the fullness of its breaths, it was safe to assume it was asleep. Anything could wake it, and Carmen didn't want to find out what would happen if it did. After some debate she decided to turn her head with the speed of sludge. She hoped that the animal on top of her was her Siamese cat Crystal, or at worst Shadowsan’s wolfdog Yukon. And she was met with the face of a Dalmatian of all animals, but not just one, several.

Carmen jerked at first, filled with panic, but a sharp ache in her ribs stopped her right after. Probably a bruised lung or broken rib. She tried to suppress a yelp, using the same teeth-clenching technique from earlier. Regrettably, the sound instead came out as a loud, breathy trill. Cold chills of raw terror trickled to her stomach as the dogs shifted. She’d wake them. She was dead meat.

Breathe in.

Sometimes it's the haphazard, sloppily-thrown-together plan that winds up working.

Breathe out.

Pure panic coursed through Carmen's veins as she was sure the dogs could feel her frenzied heartbeat. Outwardly, her breaths were rhythmic and slow, and her expression peaceful (for the most part).

Breathe in.

This cycle continued for what felt like an eternity.

Breathe out.

Carmen felt the dogs shuffle and fidget for a little while, but before long it stopped. Only the slow, rhythmic breaths remained, similar in tempo to Carmen’s. She cracked open one eyelid and looked to the Dalmatians in front of her. Indeed, they had fallen back asleep.

After the initial relief wore off, Carmen's mind raced with thoughts. She needed to get away, somehow, as she wasn’t capable of leaving the place without hissing in pain. Her wounds were still fresh. Thankfully the pain had ebbed a little — enough for her to move, but not enough to flee. Maybe she could try to slip away unnoticed. That would be difficult however, as they were several of these puppies around the house, cornering her in place. That struck her as odd.

How did she exactly end here in the first place? Come to think of it, who dragged her to this house and gave her a place to recover? Surely not this creatures; they were just animals. How could they have done something like that with no hands or thumbs? Carmen stopped fussing as she watched the animals sleep, instead trying to understand their behavior. It seemed peaceful, pulling in deep and slow breaths, but their ears flicked to whatever noises it came across in a defensive manner. She felt like she was being guarded, like someone told them to keep her safe at all cost.

Carmen moved one of her arms to scratch the back of her head, baffled by this strange phenomenon. She was so lost in thought that it took a few seconds to realize that actually one of the dogs was awake, a tiny spotless one who was walking towards her. Carmen noticed and try to gesture the tiny pup not to wake up the others, unfortunaly it only caused the tiny dog to make a bark of happiness which woke the rest of the dogs who move to watch Carmen, some of them looking at her, but mostly two, one who had the Canis constellation on his right ear, and the other one who had three collars, both of them looking at her with concern.

She didn’t exactly know how to feel, she was actually impressed at how intelligent they were, but she still needed to know if they were friendly. She raised her hand and then pet the spotless dogs who happily accepted, and seeing that the rest were looking at her without any problem it was obvious that they were nice indeed.

While glad that they were friendly, it didn’t change the fact that everything hurt. All of her agility was gone, she was defenseless, cornered, and she was right back in the same situation she’d been in before. Alarm bells were going off in her head left and right, her fear mounting ever higher as it became clear she wouldn’t be going anywhere. She didn’t even notice she was shedding tears, making the dogs to whimper at her sadness, making two of them who had in their faces a black mask and huge line that started in her nose to approach her in an attempt to conform her. Her arms snaked around the little two of them and yanked them close, hugging them as a desperate need to have conform. It left her seeing stars from the pain, but she still didn’t care. She needed something to prevent her from screaming her lungs out.

She’d been defeated in the worst way, crushed and only surviving from a freak string of luck. Everything hurt, physically and emotionally, and the nagging guilt that she needed to get up and keep going and not let anything stop her, had not gone away. But right now, right here, finally safe for a while, Carmen was okay with resting for awhile. Everything was fine. There is nothing to fear. She wasn’t alone.

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