Away at College
I woke up shivering the next morning. “That’s odd…” I pondered in a hazy state of confusion as I slowly worked my way back to the realm of the functionally awake. I usually turned the air conditioner way down at night, so there wasn’t anything unusual in it being cold in and of itself, but my large pile of pillows and blankets typically did a good job of keeping me all warm and toasty. And come to think of it, my blanket felt kind of… Suddenly I was struck by a very unnerving realization. Sitting up quickly, I rather abruptly found myself wide awake. “Aw No.” I said quietly, willing it to not be true “I didn’t…and with Becky right next…why me?” With a sinking feeling of panic and despair I whipped off the clammy and rather nasty smelling blanket and quickly got up to do…what?
Turning around, I surveyed my accident. I’d wet the bed, with Becky sleeping right next to me, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. Sinking back down on the corner of the bed, I buried my muzzle in my paws and began to sniffle. “She’s going to hate me.” I whispered, imagining the look of disgust and revulsion that would cross her face when she woke up. Feeling the bed shift a bit, I turned with a feeling like a rock in my tummy to see Becky awake and taking in the scene with a look of mild confusion. Pulling back the sheets, she revealed the diaper I had been wearing when I went to bed last night, and that had apparently managed to come off between then and now. Then, looking towards the corner of the bed, she took in my expression of abject misery, and instead of the anger I had expected, all I could find in her eyes was concern.
Moving to sit next to me, Becky gave me a hug. “It’s okay, it’s okay. Please don’t cry Nick…it was an accident.” Nodding a little bit, I couldn’t think of anything to say. We sat in silence for a while, until I thought I could trust my voice enough to speak. “I’m sowwy.” I sniffed “I didn’t mean…” Placing a finger on my muzzle, Becky gently interrupted “Of course you didn’t. I was pretty tired last night, and I guess I just didn’t get your diaper fastened well enough or something. It’s really my fault.” “But I was the one who…” I began, starting to sniffle again. Kissing me lovingly on the muzzle, Becky wouldn’t let me finish the sentence. “Now Nick, what happened happened, and getting upset about it won’t help anything.” She explained in a tone one would use to persuade a stubborn little kit “You’re upset about this, and you’re not thinking clearly because of it, and that doesn’t do anything but make you feel bad.” “But…” I started feebly before she stopped me again “Not another word about it until after we’ve both gotten cleaned up. Now into the bathroom with you!” Nodding meekly, I did as instructed, hoping that I wouldn’t accidentally drip anything on the carpet on the way there.
I had just gotten the water temperature just right and set out a bottle of shampoo when Becky joined me in the bathroom. “You know, you’ve got a lot of blankets and stuff…” she commented, announcing her presence. “I like to burrow I guess.” I nodded with a hesitant little smile “I guess it’s a holdover from my wild ancestors…” “Probably.” She nodded “Most furs have one or two of those. And hey, it could be a whole lot worse, at least yours is something cute!” Breaking into a real smile at that, I waved in the general direction of the bathtub. “I’ve got the water ready, you can have the first shower.” “Hold up your paws.” Becky instructed, ignoring my offer “I’ll help you get that bandage off.” Nodding my thanks I complied, albeit somewhat gingerly—my side was still a little bit sore.
Becky very efficiently stripped off my bandages, then took a moment to look at my sutures. “Well, those are healing quite nicely.” She nodded “They could probably be removed today or tomorrow.” “That’s good.” I nodded “I think I’m just about finished with my medication as well…” “Maybe we can do that this afternoon.” Becky suggested, taking me by the paw and leading me towards the shower. “I thought you were going to shower first.” I questioned. “In, foxy.” Becky responded in a tone that didn’t allow for discussion. Feeling a little put out by her not taking me up on my most chivalrous offer I never the less climbed into the shower, which immediately got a whole lot more crowded when Becky followed me in.
“Uhh…” I responded intelligently, beginning to blush through my fur. Laughing at me good naturedly, Becky pointed out that “You’re not exactly capable of washing your own back without suffering grievous injuries you know…” Taking the shampoo, she began to rub some into the fur on my back and shoulders, kneading the tension out of my muscles as she went. Smiling happily about this new arrangement, I closed my eyes and let her. As I began to relax (and calm down, it had been a very stressful morning…) I found myself churrling happily, and before I knew it I felt the hot water rinsing out my fur. “All done!” Becky laughed, rubbing behind my ears. “My turn.” I nodded, seeing her mild surprise as I took the shampoo “Turn around , okay?” I could have sworn that I saw her blushing a bit too, but as I began to rub her back as I worked the shampoo into her fur I could tell that Becky was really beginning to enjoy it as well. “It’s probably good that we got cleaned up quickly.” I commented, wrinkling my muzzle at the sharp smell of urine as I began shampooing her tail “I really made a mess of things…” “Uh huh.” Becky nodded, not really paying attention, obviously quite enjoying the attention.
In less time than either of us would have liked I had finished rinsing the last of the shampoo out of Becky’s fur, and we were turning off the water. “Let me grab a couple of towels.” Becky threw over her shoulder as she poked around in the linen closet, to emerge with a whole stack of fluffy white towels. Setting them down on the counter, Becky turned to me, then stopped for a minute and broke out in a fit of giggles. “What?” I asked, a little bit confused by this unexpected reaction. “Nothing, you just look kind of silly with your fur all plastered down like that…” she grinned. Looking in the mirror, I saw what she meant. No fur looks dignified when they’re sopping wet, but I think that I probably looked more ridiculous than most. “Now you’re making fun of me.” I sulked, crossing my arms and looking away. “I’m sorry.” She laughed, seeing that I was only kidding and not really upset. Taking one off the top of the stack, Becky began to vigorously towel off my fur, eventually announcing that “That’s about as good as it’s going to get!” at which point I took the remaining towels and returned the favor. “You know,” I smiled playfully as Becky was getting the furdrier “Even though you were being mean and laughing at me and everything, I have to admit that you manage to look beautiful even when you’re sopping wet…” “You’re sweet.” She grinned as she plugged in the furdrier “And guess what? Now it’s time for my little kit’s favorite part of bathtime!”
Becky turned on the furdrier and began a very thorough job of drying out my fur, much to my great enjoyment, and then handed over the drier so that I could get her fur too. By the time that we were done we looked like a pair of fluffy puffballs, with our fur sticking up in all directions. “You look really cute.” I grinned, rubbing Becky behind her ears. “You do too.” She laughed, grabbing a brush and setting to work restoring some kind of order to my fur. After she had nearly finished up with my fur, Becky sighed “You know, the one problem with using a furdrier instead of just letting things air-dry is that it really does make it a lot harder to get neatened up again…but then it’s worth the trouble to see how much you enjoy it. There, all done.” As I traded places with Becky I grinned. “Yeah, furdriers really are nice, especially in the winter when it’s really cold out.” When I had pretty much finished brushing out Becky’s fur I got an idea. “Hold on a second.” I instructed, heading across the hall into our bedroom, to return with a length of blue ribbon. “I think this will look really pretty.” I shrugged in response to Becky’s quizzical look. Then, after finishing with her headfur I tied it back into a neat ponytail. “Yep.” I nodded, kissing Becky on the cheek “I was right…really pretty. But then when aren’t you?” “Flatterer.” She accused, looking pleased all the same.
“Well” Becky said, imitating perfectly that tone of mock cheerfulness which adults use when trying to cajole a kit into doing something that they really don’t want to “now that we’re all cleaned up, we probably ought to do something about the bed…” Sighing a little bit, I led the way back to our bedroom. I had gotten lucky actually—the big pile of bedding that I habitually slept with had served to absorb the vast majority of my little accident, making cleaning up the actual mattress much easier than if it had soaked in. “Did I ever show you where the laundry room is?” I asked Becky as I bundled up the sheets. “You mentioned it at one point” she shrugged “but I don’t exactly remember…” “Well, that’s something handy to know.” I nodded, leading the way.
“You know, I really don’t have any idea how some furs get along without having a washing machine.” I mused while Becky watched me stuff the sheets in the appliance in question. “It’s quite inconvenient actually.” Becky nodded “The biggest problem is carrying things back and forth from the Laundromat…for some reason it never hesitates to rain when you’re trying to get home with that huge stack of washed, dried, and neatly folded clothes you spent the last hour and a half patiently laundering.” “That’s happened before, hasn’t it?” I grinned, watching Becky’s changing expression. “Far more often than is amusing.” She nodded, patting my clothes drier lovingly.
After I had put the soap in the washer and started it running, we went back to our room yet again, and this time hauled the mattress out on the porch. Then, after putting a bit of liquid dish detergent on the obvious wet spots, I took the hose and sprayed down the mattress until the water didn’t have any soap in it, then threw the thing on top of the patio table . “There.” I nodded to Becky “That will dry all day, and should be just about finished by bedtime tonight.” “Uh huh.” She nodded, already preoccupied with thoughts of breakfast.
Breakfast was simple, neither Becky nor I felt like doing any kind of cooking, so we sat down for cereal, toast and orange juice. Then, with food in our tummies, we were ready to (rather belatedly at this point) start out the day. “How would you feel about getting your stitches removed today?” Becky asked as we stretched out together in the living room. “Well, I might as well…” I nodded “I’m out of the painkillers that the doctor was giving me, and there is only a couple antibiotics left.” After reflecting for a moment I shrugged “How crowded do you think they’ll be at the hospital? It is the beginning of the weekend after all…” “I was thinking that it would be a lot less trouble all around if we just dropped by the student medical facility and got it dealt with there. It wouldn’t be crowded, and they don’t require all that insurance paperwork and such that the hospital does. So maybe we could have time to go out for a picnic or something…I know you’ve been talking about doing that for a couple of days now, haven’t you?”
Nodding my consent, I got up and extended a paw to help Becky up, then we both went to dig up something to wear. My selection of clean clothes was growing a little bit sparse as of late. “It’s all your fault you know…” I joked with Becky as I picked out something to wear “Since I’ve met you I don’t think I’ve done the laundry once…” “How regularly did you do it before you met me?” she questioned good naturedly as she disappeared into the bathroom. “Don’t bring logic into this!” I yelled after her, quickly getting dressed. “Why, what’s wrong with logic?” Laughed Becky as she reappeared from the bathroom, dressed neatly in jeans and a light green blouse. “Nothing, it’s just that it tends to make my arguments fall apart…” I smiled, giving her a hug as we headed for the car for the quick ride into town.
I was really hoping that Becky would prove correct about the amount of time we would be taking, spending the entire day being shuffled between rooms and medical staff was really not what I felt that I wanted to do today. Things were looking pretty good when we were parking and walking across campus, right up to the part where I was holding the door for Becky. “Why thank you, that’s very gentlemanly of yo…aww crap!” Becky exclaimed, getting a look inside while I was still holding the door. “What?” I asked as I followed her inside, a little bit concerned by her sudden change in tone. My question was immediately replaced by a different one as I looked around the lobby. The building was absolutely packed with students, and judging by the various paper signs that had been printed up and posted around the building there was some kind of event going on today.
“What in the world is going on?” I asked Becky, sounding a little bit overwhelmed by the scene before me. Sighing in exasperation, she explained “I forgot. The medical requirements for collegiate sports was changed across the board recently, and everyone who plays anything has to get a current physical. I guess the health services department decided to hold a clinic to get them all processed at the same time…” “So how will that end up affecting us?” I sighed as visions of getting things accomplished swiftly vanished utterly against the milling backdrop of the health services building. “I don’t have a clue.” Becky shrugged “I guess we’ll just have to go and find out…”
Well, we certainly tried to do so, but it would prove to be a daunting task. Initially we started out on the main floor around where most of the people are. “They can probably at least tell us who we should be talking to.” Becky mused as we tried to locate someone. After we had been looking around for someone with a uniform for quite a while Becky managed to snag a passing orderly to ask. “You’ll have to get on the list over in the far corner…” the rather harried squirrel explained “We only have one person working with walk-ins right now, everyone else is helping out with the physicals…and I’m not sure if they can do anything but very rudimentary procedures right now anyway.” Taking his advice, we trudged over to the receptionist at the front counter to sign the list. The receptionist was more than happy to help us with the right papers , and we had soon filled them out and turned them over to her again to be inputted into the computer.
Becky and I had just settled in on the last of the empty chairs when the receptionist caught back up with us. “I’m sorry I didn’t notice earlier, but you’ll have to check in separately upstairs on the third floor to have stitches removed, we’re simply not set up for it down here at the moment.” So shortly afterwards we were walking yet again, this time to the elevators. Exiting the elevators, we found the receptionist’s desk the nurse downstairs had told us about, where our journey ended by default. “Dept. closed due to athletic department physicals today.” Becky read from the note on the counter. “Well,” I sighed, slumping down into a chair in the waiting area “I guess that’s the end of that…”
By this point Becky was looking pretty disgusted with the whole thing. “I suppose I could always take them out…” she suggested a little bit moodily. “Umm…do you think that’s a good idea?” I asked nervously. Laughing in genuine amusement, she pointed out that “I am an upper division medical student after all…I would kind of hope that I could…” “Okay then” I shrugged “I’d hate to have wasted all this time for nothing.” “Right then,” she grinned, doing a very good impersonation of the stereotypical serious doctor “If you’ll step this way we can begin the procedure.”
We wandered down the hallway until Becky selected a room at random to be our designation, then she instructed me to take off my shirt and have a seat before digging through the cabinets for a few things. After she had laid out a selection of scissors, bottles and little pliers looking things she turned her attention to my side, wiping off the little shaved patch of fur with an alcohol pad before beginning to snip and pull out the stitches. “Does that hurt?” she asked when she was about half way done. “Not really.” I shrugged “It just stings a little…”
In short order Becky had finished, and was once again wiping the spot down with an alcohol wipe before digging out a rather large adhesive bandage. “Oh, that’s just to keep you from getting little spots of blood on your shirt.” She shrugged, noticing my quizzical look “These things tend to ooze for a while.” Nodding, I pulled my shirt back on while Becky cleaned up the room. “We’re all done here!” she grinned, taking my paw as she gave me a little kiss on my nose “You were a good little boy…I’ll see if we don’t happen to have a lollypop and a sticker for you!” Grinning back, I kissed her on the muzzle. “Why don’t I take a rain check on that and we go get something to eat instead. We’ve already been here for two and a half hours, I’d really rather not hang around longer if I can help it!”
We left the student services building at a far more leisurely pace than when we had arrived earlier today. “We might as well sit down and plan out the afternoon.” Becky suggested as we passes one of the many little picnic spots scattered around campus. “It’s always good to have a plan.” I nodded somewhat humorously, taking a seat across from her at the table. “Did you happen to have any plans for the afternoon that you’re trying to subtly suggest?” I asked seriously before breaking into a grin at the odd look she gave me in response, not quite sure if I was secretly making fun of her. “I didn’t have anything particular in mind.” She explained “That’s why I was asking you.”
Nodding, I explained my thoughts on the subject. “I was thinking that we could pack a dinner and drive up into the mountains a ways. You know, do a little hiking maybe, see the scenery a bit and then have dinner...” “That sounds like fun.” Becky agreed “Do you have anywhere particular in mind?” I couldn’t help grinning at that. “By now I’ve driven just about all of the paved surfaces around here” I explained “so I’ve got a route or two in mind…there’s this really nice little out of the way pull-off I broke down at once…” (This, for some reason struck Becky as extremely funny, and I had to wait for quite a while before her laughter died down enough for me to continue.) “If you’re done?” I asked with mock severity, raising an eyebrow. “I just thought it was funny how you said that like it was such a routine event.” She grinned before motioning me to continue. “Anyway,” I finished “it’s a really nice place to watch the sun set over dinner…” “That sounds lovely.” Becky agreed “It’s almost 2:30 already, we could grab a quick bite to eat, and then go home and make a dinner to take with us.” “Well, that sounds like a plan to me.” I nodded as we got up and headed back to Becky’s car.
On the way home we stopped off at the grocery store to get some supplies. “So, what do you feel like for dinner?” Becky questioned, grabbing a cart as we went inside. “Microwave pizza.” I replied seriously, fishing for a reaction. “Lasagna it is.” She nodded, striding purposefully down the nearest isle. Becky had a good idea of what she needed for the recipe she had in mind, and I pretty much followed along with the shopping cart to collect her selections as she went. I did however add some ingredients for making a rather eccentric cake recipe, which coincidentally was one of the few things that I could get consistent good results cooking. “I’ll make dissert.” I explained when I noticed Becky’s questioning look “Since you’re cooking dinner, it’s only fair.” “If you’d like.” She said somewhat incredulously. “What?” I laughed “I can cook a few things more complicated than pancakes, really!” “I never said you couldn’t.” she agreed in a rather placating tone of voice before giving me a hug and changing the subject.
“Do we need anything else before we check out?” “Hmm…” I contemplated, eventually responding in the negative. We got through the checkout line rather quickly since it was only late afternoon, and the after work crowd hadn’t started showing up yet, and then headed back to the house.
“Right.” Becky declared after we had brought in the groceries “I’ve got to get this in the oven soon or else it won't be done in time…” “Should I get started on anything?” I asked, stepping backwards out of her way as she began to purposefully set ingredients out on the kitchen counter. She began working on the early steps of the lasagna while I sat at the kitchen table deciding what I would make for dissert. After I’d been staring off into space long enough that I was only partially aware of what was going around me I decided that today for dissert we’d have peach cobbler.
Having reached my decision, I lost no time in getting the ingredients I would need out of the pantry, and after retrieving an appropriate pan from the cabinet I began to mix it up. “What are you up to?” Becky asked curiously, finally noticing my presence. “Making dissert.” I shrugged “Could you turn the oven on for me, it’ll need to preheat.” “Sure.” Becky nodded, a little bit skeptically. We both finished up our respective tasks at about the same time, and without further ado retreated back into the living room while everything finished cooking.
“Well,” Becky laughed “I think that went quite nicely…it’ll be ready before too long, and we can get going while there is still plenty of daylight left.” “Yep.” I agreed somewhat lazily, resting my head in her lap as she idly played with my headfur. “You know,” she mused “Maybe we ought to get you changed before we leave, there’s plenty of time, and that way we’ll be all ready to go when the food is done…” Pausing a little, more to give herself time to consider it than waiting for my response, Becky rapidly decided “That’s a good idea…come on my little kit, let’s go upstairs…” Then, taking my paw, she led me upstairs to the bathroom.
“I forgot to put away the stuff we bought earlier.” Becky sighed “I’ll be right back…” While Becky went back downstairs for the supplies, I hopped up on the bathroom counter and idly began to poke at the spot where my stitches had been. The cool air felt funny on my exposed skin, and it struck me as odd how I was getting little goosebumps from the cold. “What are you up to little guy?” Becky asked, appearing in the doorway with a grocery bag under her arm. “Looking at my spot.” I nodded definitively. “Well, have you come to any conclusions?” she joked as she began putting things away. “Nope.” “Well, be sure to keep me informed.”
“Hop down a minute.” Becky smiled, pulling a large rolled up mat out of a box I hadn’t noticed hiding behind the shower door. “I got my package in the mail today.” She grinned “This should help with that cold counter!” Looking quite pleased with herself, Becky unrolled the appropriately sized diaper pad on the counter before instructing me to “Hop back up, and lie down little guy.” The pad was a lot warmer than the counter had been, and the vinyl cover made a loud crinkling noise as I lay down on it. “Now, isn’t that a lot better?” Becky asked conversationally as she pulled off my pants and threaded my tail through the tail-hole in the diaper then adding a sprinkling of baby powder before fastening up the tapes and pulling my pants back on over it. “Uh huh.” I nodded enthusiastically as she helped me back down off the table “It’s not cold at all.” “That’s good.” Becky grinned as she took my paw in hers “But now we should go take dinner out of the oven before it burns…”
Returning to the kitchen, Becky flicked on the oven light and checked in on how things were progressing. “No surprises there.” She announced “It’ll be done pretty soon, and then I’ll put in your cobbler…” “Don’t forget the garlic bread.” I reminded her cheerfully as I began rooting through the cabinets in search of the picnic basket I vaguely remembered having seen lying around at one point in time. “I won’t.” Becky laughed, leaving me to my search. It took rather longer than I had anticipated, but eventually I found the picnic basket, hiding behind a stack of large pots. “I knew I saw it!” I grinned to myself as I finally managed to work it out of the menagerie in the cabinet without making a mess “Things don’t simply disappear, they just hide from you…”
Dinner was mostly ready by the time I got the picnic basket cleaned out and ready. Becky looked rather busy when I brought it back to the kitchen, so, deciding that discretion is the better point of valor, or in this case chivalry, I left the basket on the kitchen counter and quickly got myself out from under paw. I was pretty much ready to leave, and since I didn’t have anything in particular that needed to be done, I soon found myself pacing around aimlessly in the living room. “Why don’t you sit down for a bit?” Becky questioned, poking her head into the room “You’re making me a little bit nervous…” “Sorry.” I sighed “I guess I’m just fidgeting a little bit.” “A little bit?” she grinned, raising an eyebrow. “Okay, a lot.” I conceded as I flopped down on the couch “I just don’t like sitting still.” “Well, since we’re probably going to be out late, why don’t you take an afternoon nap while I’m finishing up the food?” “I guess.” I nodded as I stretched out on the couch “But only because you think it’s a good idea.” “I do.” She assured me as she disappeared back in the kitchen.
I started drowsing pretty quickly but really never fell asleep. The picture window overlooking the back yard was rather conveniently located, providing a great view to watch instead of taking my nap like a good little boy. Judging by the way things looked outside, it was going to be a really nice night to be outside. I’m not sure exactly how much time passed before Becky made her next appearance. “Well, the food is all packed and ready, so we’re the only things left.” She announced. “Well, I’m pretty much ready to go, I just need to grab a coat.” I shrugged, getting up with a great effort and following her back to the bedroom. “Do you think it’ll get cold?” Becky wondered as she tried to decide between a sweater and a jacket. “It could.” I shrugged “And you’ll want to be sure to wear good walking shoes too.” “Why?” she asked suspiciously, suddenly looking a lot less enthusiastic than she had while we were cooking dinner. “Oh, just in case.” I replied airily “It’s just that the car occasionally decides that I need some exercise…” Hearing something sounding suspiciously like a sigh of despair I turned to confront Becky’s “What-have-I-let-myself-be-talked-into?” look. “Kidding, kidding!” I laughed reassuringly as I gave her a hug “We’re not going to break down, really.”
In the end we both decided on taking coats, on the assumption that it’s better to have something you don’t need than to need something you don’t have. So, after taking one last look around the house, I grabbed my keys off the pegboard by the garage door and we headed out. “You really don’t have to worry about getting cold in this thing.” I explained to Becky as she adjusted her seatbelt “With the transmission tunnel running through here usually it’s just the opposite problem. I remember one time when I was driving down south I had a glass of water on the console that actually heated up enough that you couldn’t drink it…though that was in the middle of the summer…” Becky had enough foresight to grab the garage door opener out of her car, so after backing out we didn’t even have to get out and close the door. “Well then I guess we’re off, aren’t we?” she grinned cheerfully as I pulled out of the driveway.
It was getting on towards evening, but the weather was still beautiful, not a cloud in the sky. The sun was warm, and the breeze blowing on my face felt great. “You do remember how to get to where we’re going, don’t you?” Becky asked, only half kidding. “Yep, I’ve been there a couple of times.” I nodded as I pulled out onto the highway, feeling the acceleration push me back into my seat as I opened up the throttle when I hit the on-ramp. “We go down the highway a ways, then get off and travel down back roads for a while.” I explained “There’s a map in the glove box I traced the route out on if you want to look it over…”
“It’s not that I don’t trust your navigation skills, I’m just curious where we’re going.” Becky explained as she dug the map out of the glove compartment. We were traveling at highway speeds with the top down, which made her attempts to get the map to fold out neatly somewhat futile, and I watched with good spirited amusement until she finally gave up and shoved it back into the glove compartment. “You’re laughing at me.” Becky accused with mock fierceness, seeing the grin on my muzzle. “A little bit.” I conceded, “But not in a bad way, I assure you.” Reaching over, she gave me a quick skritch behind the ear. “I know.”
After a few more minutes of highway travel, we reached our turn off, and were soon flying down some very pretty back roads. Fall was just beginning to come creeping in, and the leaves were just beginning to turn, adding little patches of color in the foliage along the road. As we headed uphill the oaks and birches began to give way to spruce and pines, and the temperature began to drop perceptively. “It’s getting a little bit brisk…” Becky observed idly. “You’re not cold are you?” I asked with a trace of concern in my voice “I could put the heater on if you would like.” “No, that’s all right.” She laughed, patting the transmission tunnel “This thing is putting off enough heat without any help.” “Yep, it does have a tendency to do that.” I grinned back.
The road, meanwhile had become downright mountainous, with many winding turns and positively spectacular views. As our route became more challenging, I began to smile unconsciously. An enthusiastic kind of smile, but with just a little bit of something feral in it. The engine was purring happily, every now and then building up to a throaty roar as I would open the throttle wide to make a particularly steep hill, or to pass the few other drivers that we came across in our trek. Glancing over I noticed that Becky was watching me with a cheerful expression on her muzzle. “You’re really enjoying yourself, aren’t you Nick?” “Uh huh.” I nodded “Very much so.”
Rounding a turn we came into a densely wooded valley where the road cut away from the hills and headed off into the woods until it emerged again at the other end of the valley to climb back up into the hills. “We’re almost there!” I laughed cheerfully as we drove into the shaded canopy of the woods. “This is really pretty.” Becky said as we paralleled a little brook for a ways before emerging again into the sunlight on the other side. “Just wait.” I grinned, pulling off the road into a little rest stop. The term ‘rest-stop’ was really probably being generous as it consisted solely of a short stretch of blacktop running along the side of the road and separated by a small median. “Not much to look at.” Becky mused. “Nope.” I shrugged as we got out of the car “But it’s really convenient to break down at… I wasn’t impressed the first time I was here either, that’s how I found my little spot.” “Well,” she nodded cheerfully as she stretched a bit after the ride “lead the way!” Picking up our picnic basket, I did just that.
We walked towards the pass where the road began to climb again for a ways, then veered off onto a faint little trail heading straight uphill and off in the opposite direction. “Be careful, it’s pretty steep here for a bit.” I cautioned Becky. “Don’t worry about me…” she grinned back competitively, matching me stride for stride until the trail eventually leveled out and disappeared between a cleft in the rocks. “This way.” I explained as we squeezed through. On the other side was another wooded flat area about the size of a football field, which dropped off at the edge into a steep cliff. “Right here.” I laughed, offering Becky my paw as we climbed up on a large, flat boulder. Turning towards the cliff, Becky sucked in a breath and whispered “Magnificent.”
From our perch, the entire mountain chain seemed to spread out before us, hundreds of snowcapped peaks and lush wooded valleys, streams and lakes, and the clouds, some below and some above. It was an absolutely breathtaking sight. Wrapping an arm around Becky, I whispered “We’re facing West…when the sun goes down…well, it’s really something.” Giving me a gentle hug (while avoiding my still tender spot) she nodded “I’ll bet it is, but in the meantime, why don’t we have some dinner?” “That sounds good to me.” I agreed cooperatively, helping to lay out the blanket and unpack the food.
After everything was nicely situated, I got comfortable on the picnic blanket while Becky dug out a plate from the basket and began loading it up with an assortment of different things before scooting over next to me on the blanket. “Would you mind passing me a plate?” I asked, eyeing the lasagna hungrily. “I only brought one plate.” Becky grinned, giving me the impression that I was missing a crucial point somewhere along the way. Since I had no clue what exactly that point was, I decided not to worry about it. “Okay, how about a fork then?” “You don’t need one of those either, my little kit.” She laughed, as with dawning comprehension I realized what she was getting at. “Can I have some ‘zania mommy?” I grinned back. Obligingly Becky got a forkful and theatrically deposited it in my waiting muzzle.
Being fed by someone else is a rather slow, but enjoyable process, with Becky alternating between feeding me and eating dinner herself. By the time that we’d finally worked our way through dinner, I was thoroughly immersed in the process, and was quite disappointed when it ended, even going so far as to pout a little bit before Becky headed me off at the pass with my paci and some good old fashioned snuggling. She packed up the leftovers and dishes, then we sat down to direct our attention to the setting sun. It was everything that I had promised her it would be, and I quickly ended up resting my head in her lap as she absentmindedly played with my headfur.
Finally after what seemed like hours but was probably only ten or fifteen minutes, the sunset had segued into a brilliant swath of night sky, and I ended up curled up in Becky’s arms. It was a very peaceful moment, and we both were just content to sit in each other’s embrace and watch the night sky unfold. “I’m glad I could share this with you.” I smiled idly as I looked up into Becky’s eyes “This is the nicest evening I can remember in a long, long time…” “Uh huh.” Becky replied quietly, scratching behind my ears. “I was thinking…” she began after we had been sitting in a comfortable silence for a while “How would you feel about going to meet my family?” “Um…well…” I replied hesitantly. Feeling me tense up in her arms, Becky hugged me reassuringly. “There isn’t anything to be worried about, they’re all really nice…and I’d really like you to meet them.” “All right.” I nodded, still obviously uncomfortable with the idea “If it’s important to you then okay.” “Thank you.” She said seriously.
As I looked up at the stars, secure and warm in Becky’s arms, my mind slowly began to drift, first over things that I needed to get done, and the events of the day, but later over more and more unrelated things, in an odd but pleasant sort of free-association game. “What are you thinking about little guy?” Becky asked curiously after a time. “Oh, you don’t want to know.” I laughed self-consciously. “By which you mean that you don’t want to tell me.” She accused gently “Really, I want to know.” “Okay.” I laughed “I was thinking about those ball-pit things.” “Huh?” Becky asked, obviously looking confused, even in the starlight. “Those fenced-in pit things full of colored plastic balls that you see at playgrounds sometimes.” I explained patiently “I was just remembering how much fun those were.” “They were, weren’t they?” she grinned “I used to rather enjoy those too.”
We drifted off into a pleasant little silence again after that, each lost in their own thoughts and contemplations as the moon began to rise in the night sky. I would have been perfectly content to sit peacefully all night, but the temperature soon began to drop rapidly until the soft night breeze had taken on a thouroughly unpleasant chill. Noticing that I was beginning to shiver slightly Becky sighed “We should get going, it’s really getting pretty chilly out and I don’t want my little kit catching cold…” “It’s not that bad.” I argued halfheartedly, unwilling to leave my rather comfortable little spot. “Oh really?” Becky laughed playfully as she pulled up my shirt and pointed to the goosebumps that were rapidly appearing on my shaved spot “Then what are those, hmm?” “Okay, okay.” I conceded, getting up and stretching before grabbing our picnic basket “I’ll admit that the heater in the car is starting to sound kind of nice right now…” Nodding knowingly, Becky produced a flashlight from her purse before leading the way back down the trail. “Now if only you’d bothered to put the top back up before we hiked up here…”
Unfortunately Becky was right about me leaving the top down. By the time we’d gotten the picnic stuff packed away in the trunk, and I’d wrestled the top back up it had dropped down into the ‘frigid’ area of the temperature range. Shivering energetically, I turned the engine over and immediately poked the heater controls to max. “Come on, come on…” I groused to myself as I held the throttle at high RPM “Usually I can cook dinner on the transmission tunnel, but now that I actually want heat…” Reaching behind her seat, Becky pulled out the blanket we’d brought to sit on. “I had a feeling that we would be wanting this.” She explained, wrapping one end around her shoulders and the other end around mine. “I love you!” I smiled thankfully, leaning over the transmission tunnel to put an arm around her shoulders. “I know.” She smiled back “But it’s still nice to hear you say it.”
With my impatient ministrations to the throttle the heater fairly rapidly began doing its job, and before too long it was quite cozy inside my little car. “That’s better.” I mused as I laid off on the gas pedal and turned on the headlights, bathing the interior of the Anner-Harris in the soft glow of the gauge lights. “You know…” Becky commented idly “Those lights are actually kind of soothing, like candlelight or something.” “What, the dash lights?” I asked, getting a nod in conformation. “I guess I’ve never thought about it that way…but you know, you’ve got a bit of a point there…” Finally (and a bit reluctantly) putting the car into gear, I headed back down the road. “When we get home, assuming you’re not too tired, I could dig out some candles and we could snuggle up in front of a nice, warm fire.” I offered. “That sounds nice.” Becky nodded.
The ride home was uneventful. By the time we had gotten back to the main highway Becky was dozing rather comfortably in the passenger seat, and I was beginning to wish that I could join her. There really wasn’t any traffic to speak of (nor law enforcement…) so we made good time on the way back to the house, and before she knew it I was gently shaking Becky awake. “Hey sleepyhead, we’re back home.” I smiled, rubbing behind her ears as the garage door closed behind us. “Already?” she yawned, stretching a little as she got out of the car “That was quick…” “No,” I explained gently “actually you were asleep for quite a while on the way back.” “Oh.”
I quickly herded Becky in the general direction of our bedroom in the hopes that she’d make it without falling asleep again, then I set about putting away the leftovers from dinner and doing the dishes. I was tired, but not dead-on-my-paws exhausted, and Becky really looked like she needed to snuggle up in a warm bed. It didn’t take very long to get everything dealt with, and as soon as I’d gotten the dishwasher started I quickly went around and locked up for the night, then went to get ready for bed.
Becky, I discovered, had managed to make it to the bedroom and change into her pajamas before collapsing on the bed and falling asleep. She really did look cute lying there snuggled up hugging the pillow like that, I decided while brushing my teeth. Stripping down, I chose not to bother changing out of my perfectly dry diaper before putting on one of my sleepers. Then, after turning out the lights, I did my best to crawl into bed without waking Becky. As I was beginning to get settled in I was startled back to wakefulness as Becky rolled over and snuggled up against me. “I’m sorry,” I whispered “I didn’t mean to wake you up.” I shouldn’t have worried, the only response was her soft breathing as she slept. Closing my eyes and smiling happily to myself I wrapped my arms around her and drifted off to sleep.
When I drifted into my usual morning state of semi-consciousness the next day the first coherent thought I had was “Cold!” Not really comprehending why any more than I wanted to actively do anything about it, I just snuggled up closer to Becky, pulled the blankets tighter around us, and immediately went back to sleep. Personally, I would have been quite happy to just hibernate there with her until things warmed up on their own, but sadly when Becky woke up a bit later she was of a more…investigative bent. “Nick… Are you awake?” she asked, nuzzling me gently. “Grblgh.” I responded informatively. “It’s freezing in here! Did you forget to turn the heat up last night?” “Prolly.” I yawned, making no attempt to do anything about it, or even wake up completely for that matter. Becky, being the wonderful vixen that she is, showed a great deal of patience with my inability to function in the mornings, tapping me gently on the muzzle in a manner impossible to ignore until I finally submitted and woke up.
“Okay, okay.” I sighed “I’m awake, I’m getting up.” Walking to the windows and throwing open the curtains, she laughed cheerfully. “Come look at this, my little kit!” Sighing theatrically, and obviously not pleased with having to extract myself from the warmth of the blankets, I joined her at the window. Outside the window, everything was covered in a silvery white blanket. “Ooh…pretty!” I laughed in my little kit voice. “Yep.” Becky agreed “It snowed last night.” “Can we go play in the snow?” I questioned eagerly. “Maybe after breakfast.” Becky laughed, pleased by my enthusiasm.
I was more interested in going outside than eating, so consequentially gave some rather noncommittal answers to Becky’s questions regarding what I felt like having for Breakfast this morning. Before too long she grew tired with her very ineffective line of questioning, and gave up, telling me that “Unless you’re going to be more specific we’ll just have whatever I happen to pull out of the refrigerator first.” This didn’t faze me in the least, and I was staring out the window hopefully the whole time she was making breakfast. Finally my reverie was interrupted: “Nick! Breakfast is ready!” and, nodding eagerly, I joined Becky at the table.
Breakfast turned out to be doughnuts that I vaguely recalled having seen in the grocery cart last time we went shopping, along with the usual orange juice/tea/coffee selection. “So we’ve had doughnuts in the house since last time we went to the store and I didn’t manage to discover them?” I grinned in cheerful consternation. “Yes, mainly because I did a good job of hiding them from you so they would be for breakfast instead of an afternoon snack…” Becky laughed. “That was very prudent of you.” I nodded seriously, pouring myself some more orange juice “I rather like doughnuts, and they would have been quite compelling in their argument for me eating them for a snack.” Looking somewhat wistfully over my shoulder at the snow outside I sat down at the table. “I’ve got bacon and eggs as well.” Becky informed me as I poured myself some orange juice and began the process of selecting a doughnut with caution and scrutiny that would have made the bomb squad proud.
“…What are you doing?” Becky questioned in patient curiosity as she watched me examining the plate of doughnuts. “I’s have to make sure I’s don’t get an icky one.” I explained in my little kit voice without looking up “I’s don’t like the icky squishy ones…” Smiling cheerfully, Becky selected a plain glazed one for me, correctly interpreting ‘squishy’ as being ‘filled with stuff’. “Here’s one that isn’t icky.” She informed me seriously, depositing the doughnut on my plate along with some bacon and eggs. “T’ank you.” I said politely before I began nibbling on the doughnut she offered me. “The newspaper didn’t get here this morning…” Becky commented while chewing idly on a piece of bacon “I think that there’s a good chance that we may be snowed in…” “That’s okay.” I shrugged “I want to play with it, not go places in it.” Laughing, she nodded “True, but I still miss my newspaper…”
As we were finishing up with our breakfast, Becky pointed out that while she was pretty sure that classes would be cancelled for the day she should probably check just to be sure. When she disappeared into the office to look up the list of local closures online, I decided that I’d throw on a jacket and go see exactly how snowed in we were. Grabbing my greatcoat out of the front hall closet, I headed out the door. Still yawning a bit (I never was a morning person) I walked down the driveway to the street. It must have been a pretty good-sized storm: we had gotten almost two feet of snow, and as I poked at the street experimentally I discovered there was a layer of ice under it as well. “No school today.” I said cheerfully to myself as I headed back to the house.
“Well, it’s official.” Becky informed me as I was hanging my coat back up in the closet “They’ve cancelled classes for the day, possibly longer, depending on the weather.” “That’s good.” I nodded “Considering that until the county comes through and clears the road it will be rather inconvenient to go out right now…I’m glad we went to the store yesterday.” “And here I was under the impression you liked driving around…” Becky teased, rubbing behind my ears. “I do like driving around.” I nodded playfully “Would you like to go driving around? We could probably get to the highway with the pickup, it’s four wheel drive works okay most of the time…” “You know” Becky said, giving me a hug “sometimes I get the distinct impression that it really is a good thing that I’m here to be your common sense.” “Yep.” I nodded, kissing her gently on the muzzle “Can we go play in the snow now?” “Yes we can!” Becky said enthusiastically “As soon as we get ready…”
After we had washed the breakfast dishes I quickly came to learn what in fact ‘ready’ was. Shooing me into the bedroom, Becky began rooting through my closet in search of proper snow playing attire. “What’s wrong with the jacket I usually wear?” I groaned, flopping down on the bed to watch. “That’s way too thin.” She explained “Little kits need to be bundled up properly so that they don’t catch cold!” As Becky launched in to a lecture on the dangers of cold weather, I made a mental note to not tell her any of my backpacking tales… While I was busy rooting around to find something appropriate to wear outside (most of my cold weather gear was still packed up from last season) I had a great idea, and tossed one of my footed sleepers onto the pile of clothes I had picked out. “What’s the idea with that?” Becky mused, looking at the sleeper. “I thought it would kind of be like long underwear, but cuter…” I grinned as I picked up my pile of clothes and ducked into the bathroom.
I have to admit that my sleeper idea was one of the better ones I’d had in a while. After Becky had gotten bundled up as well and we’d headed outside for an inspection tour of the grounds, I found that I was still all warm and snuggly, despite the temperature outside. I, feeling that my responsibilities towards the house came before my desire to play, suggested a walk around the house, just to make sure that nothing was out of kilter. Making the circuit around the house, I was pleased to find that nothing was amiss, except for a couple of smaller tree branches that had broken under the weight of the ice. “I didn’t think that we’d find anything, but it’s always good to make sure.” I shrugged. “Well it’s good to know you’re a responsible little boy.” Becky grinned back. With my duties towards the house taken care of, I turned my attention to my main reason for coming outside. The snow was perfect for playing in, just damp enough to pack nicely, but not enough to be slushy and soak through to one’s fur. Grinning happily, I set to work while Becky sat down in a lawn chair she had retrieved from the garage to watch.
An hour or so later Becky and I were sharing the front lawn with a pair of snowfoxes, complete with evergreen branch tails (“which” I joked to Becky “were almost as bushy as hers…”), a variety of snow angels, and a very impressive fort that due to the gradual addition of rather a lot of water was probably capable of withstanding a siege too. Stepping back to admire my creations, I sat down on the ground next to Becky’s chair. “You look really cute out there playing in the snow.” She smiled, tousling my headfur “But it’s time to go back inside now. We’ve been out here for a couple of hours, and your clothes are completely soaked through.” Looking moderately surprised I checked my watch and sure enough, she was right.
“I’ll go in through the garage so I don’t drip all over the carpet.” I decided, taking Becky’s lawn chair along with me while she went back in the front door, presumably to get me a towel. Closing the side door behind me I turned the garage’s thermostat up high, the large ceiling mounted heaters coming on with a ‘whumpf’ and immediately beginning to take some of the chill out of the air. The garage floor is easier to clean up than the house at large, but I still quickly began stripping off my wet clothes, not wanting to make any bigger mess than absolutely necessary. Tossing a piece of sheet plastic on the tailgate of the pickup truck, I planted myself in front of one of the two heaters, smiling as the warm air blew through my damp fur, slowly convincing my goosebumps that they could go away without being remiss in their duties.
Furdryers of any nature are one of the great pleasures in my life, and by the time Becky came in with the oversized beach towel she had been searching for I was completely zoned out, eyes closed, tongue peeking out of the corner of my muzzle, and tail swishing happily. I must have been a pretty funny site, a naked fox, sitting cross legged on the back of a pickup truck, fur all puffed out, staring happily up into the heater with his eyes closed and tongue hanging out, but to her credit Becky stifled the urge to comment, instead draping the towel around my shoulders and informing me that “If you’re all dried off now, why don’t we get you into some clothes and then it’ll be lunchtime for my little kit…” Deciding that sounded very good indeed, I wrapped myself up in the towel and followed her back into the house.
Since we would obviously not be going anywhere today, Becky said it would be okay for me to wear my green sleeper around the house since “it will be nice and cozy for you.” Then, after I was dressed and diapered we went back downstairs to see about getting fed. Becky plopped me down on the sofa in view of the kitchen and then briskly began making lunch. “How does tomato soup sound?” she queried from the kitchen. “Yummy.” I giggled in my little kit’s voice, lying down on my tummy with my muzzle propped up on my paws so I could watch the newly resumed snowfall in the backyard.
I was thus pleasantly engaged a few minutes later when Becky arrived with two bowls of soup, depositing them on the coffee table and gracefully sitting down cross-legged on the floor, her tail tucked neatly under her. “That smells good…” I observed, noticing a number of different things floating in the bowls besides tomatoes… “It’s my special secret recipe.” She nodded as we started in on lunch. The soup was absolutely wonderful, and warm food combined with my earlier outdoor exercise began to make me comfortably drowsy for a winter afternoon. Trading the soup bowls for two mugs of hot cocoa, Becky rubbed me behind my ears and observed that “You’ve got that sort of far away look in your eyes again Nick, whatcha thinking about?” “Nothing much.” I smiled contentedly “Just thinking about snoozing the afternoon away. You?”
“I was thinking about doing some painting.” Becky explained “Between the last couple of trips to my apartment I’ve got most of my painting supplies here, and the woods out back would make a really pretty landscape…” “That’s a plan then.” I nodded “Why don’t we set up in the game room upstairs, it’s got a nice big picture window and some rather comfortable furniture…” Nodding in the affirmative, Becky took another sip of her cocoa. “I wish I had my easel though…” she pondered “I’m not fond of having to paint at a table.”
After we had finished off our cocoa Becky and I headed out to the garage to retrieve a tarp for her to use as a drop cloth. “I’d bought this to cover up the riding mower, but ended up cleaning the garden shed out before I ever used it.” I said over my shoulder while rooting through a cabinet, to emerge with the tarp, tossing it on the hood of the pickup before diving back in to the small cache of leftover lumber that always seems to end up in garages “And after about ten minutes with that table saw in the corner this will make quite a decent easel…” “Ahem.” Becky coughed meaningfully, looking at my pajama-clad self. “…after I change clothes.” I quickly amended. Nodding as one would do when praising a little kit who had done something particularly clever, Becky playfully tapped me on the nose with one finger then disappeared back into the house while I detoured to the laundry room.
After returning to the garage and getting my tools set up it didn’t take any time at all to put together an easel for Becky. Now granted that it wasn’t as fancy and adjustable as the ones you can buy at the art stores around campus, and granted that easels aren’t exactly the most complicated thing one could chose to put together, but after I had set it up next to the picture window and seen Becky’s smile of appreciation, well, I felt pretty proud of it. “The view from here is perfect…” Becky mused, looking out the large bay windows that dominated the outside corner of the game room and adjusting the positioning of her setup. “Uh huh, and once I get the fireplace burning nicely it’s really cozy too…” I agreed, having started working on the task at hand while she had been situating herself and her supplies.
After the fire was crackling merrily and I had changed back into my footed sleeper (checking at the time and finding myself to be dry) I curled up on a sofa behind Becky’s setup and watched her paint with more than a little fascination. I never had possessed any artistic talent, instead being mechanically inclined, and ever since I was a little kit (the first time) I had been sort of mystified by how others were able to coax something beautiful out of a blank canvas. It always seemed to be something magical to me. As I watched the beginnings of Becky’s landscape begin to take form on the canvas it soon became very obvious that she had a great deal of talent.
After a fairly long while, Becky finally noticed that I was staring intently at her. “Hmm?” “Nothing.” I explained sleepily “You’re fun to watch…you’re very good at that.” “Well thank you.” She replied, blushing a little bit but obviously pleased by the compliment. “I wish it wasn’t so icy out, I’d really like to go see some of your other works…” I commented idly, snuggling up with the sofa cushion. “Well you’ll just have to wait until the weather clears now won’t you.” She laughed “Patience is a virtue you know.” “No,” I explained loftily “Having a snowplow or a duce-and-a-half 6X6 is a virtue. Patience is a test of willpower.” Becky just laughed at that and we drifted back into a comfortable silence, her working on the painting, and me drowsing contentedly on the sofa.
And so the afternoon passed quickly, and before either of us really realized it the shadows were growing long. Sighing a bit, Becky lamented that “I’m almost finished with my painting, but I should probably go start something for dinner.” “No, you go ahead and finish up.” I replied as I stretched lithely, a little bit sore from napping on a slightly too-short sofa for most of the afternoon “I’ll go make something, I know how it is to get interrupted in the middle of things…” Giving me a quick kiss on the muzzle, Becky returned to her painting while I departed for the kitchen.
“Dinner… Dinner…” I thought aloud as I paced the kitchen in search of inspiration. “This would be rather a lot easier if it was nice enough outside to barbecue.” I mused. Eventually I ended up with something that could be discerned as macaroni cooking in the oven, thankfully without any major mishaps (or substitutions to the recipe…). I had never really been a bad cook, but likewise I wasn’t really more than a mediocre one by any stretch of the gastronomic imagination. Since dinner would be baking for a while I decided to get another fire started in the living room fireplace, envisioning a romantic evening with Becky, complete with wine and candles. Deciding to also move the sofa in front of the fireplace along with the end table, I set to work.
I had already finished setting up in the living room, and had returned to the kitchen to set the table when I heard Becky come in behind me. “Did you finish?” I asked, the tone of my voice conveying to her the smile she couldn’t see. “Yes, I’m very pleased with how it came out.” She informed me happily as she sat down at the table “I usually try to avoid painting sunsets because I have notoriously bad luck capturing the colors right, but this time it all just seemed to work out for me.” “Well I look forward to seeing it!” I said over my shoulder as I responded to the summons of the kitchen timer. Becky finished up setting the table while I was bringing out the food, and in short order we were sitting down to eat.
Becky was in an absolutely buoyant mood, and it was immediately obvious as we sat there at the dinner table that I had done something she really appreciated. “It’s nice to get things right once in a while…” I thought to myself as we were finishing up dinner. “Dinner was pretty good…” Becky mused humorously “You haven’t been holding out some hidden cooking skills, now have you?” “I’m afraid not.” I laughed “This batch turned out edible by luck alone…and you know what they say about pushing luck, don’t you?” “I think I’ve heard the gist of it.” Becky nodded.
After we had both finished eating, and it had been formally declared that we’d both eaten our fill she went to get comfortable in front of the fire while I retrieved the bottle of wine I had put in the refrigerator to chill before dinner, joining her in the living room performing an impressive one-pawed balancing feat with the serving tray. Clapping politely from her position on the sofa Becky commented that “I was sure you were going to spill something…” “Nope.” I laughed cheerfully, joining her on the sofa. Soon we were happily snuggled up, sipping the wine, and just generally enjoying the warmth of the fire.
Becky was the first one to break the silence of the moment. “Nick… Remember the other day when we were discussing meeting my family?” “Uh huh.” I nodded, setting my glass aside for the moment. “Would you still be willing to go meet them? They’ve invited us to spend the weekend with them…” “I’m still willing…” I nodded “Still nervous too for that matter, but I get the feeling it is really important to you, and I already agreed the other day anyway.” “So this weekend would be okay for you?” Becky asked, obviously somewhat relieved about my continued agreement. “Assuming the weather clears up enough by then to let us get out of here…” I laughed, glancing out the window. Lying down on the sofa I snuggled up, my head in her lap, with a sigh of contentment. “Tell me a little bit about your family…” I asked, looking up at Becky with a look of genuine interest on my muzzle. Shifting around slightly to get a bit more comfortable, she began to idly play with my headfur. “I’m really not sure where to begin…”
“I’ve got a younger sister, Ashley, who is graduating from high school this year. She’s three years younger than I am, and a bit of a tomboy, but really is a sweet kid once you get by the teenager on the outside. Ashley’s a science whiz, and is probably going to major in chemical engineering next year when she comes to the University. My parents started their own company and have been doing really well with it. It’s involved in a lot of different IT projects and things like that. Honestly I usually get lost pretty quickly when my parents try to explain what it is they do all day. They’re pretty easy going, and I’m sure you’ll get along fine with them…” Finishing her explanation, Becky added as an afterthought “I’ve also the usual collection of Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, and so on, but we’ll probably not be seeing any of them this weekend.”
“I think that covers just about everything.” I laughed before getting quite again. We sat for a while watching the fire dance in the hearth before I started fidgeting nervously again. “Becky, do you think they’ll like me?” I finally asked, my feelings showing in the uncertainty in my voice. “Of course they will.” She nodded, giving me a hug “What’s not to like?” “It’s just a little bit scary, that’s all.” I shrugged “I’ve never done well meeting new people, and I really want your family to like me, so I guess that kind of makes things even harder than usual.” “I promise everything will be just fine.” Becky said as she looked into my eyes “Now I think it’s time we considered turning in for the night…”
Becky’s plan seemed quite appealing to me as well, and we were soon bedded down for the night, cozy and warm in each other’s arms. She drifted off to sleep quickly, but I found myself sitting up long into the night worrying about our impending visit. Lying in the dark listening to Becky’s soft breathing I tried to sort out the tumult of emotions and thoughts running in my mind. This trip was obviously very important to Becky, so not going was completely out of the question, not because I didn’t think I could talk her out of it, but because I genuinely wanted to give her something which was so important to her. Thinking about meeting her family was scary, and doubly so because I very much wanted them to like me for Becky’s sake. Finally, after many hours of worrying I managed to drift off into a restless sort of sleep.
Becky was already up the next morning when I awoke, as the smell of freshly brewed tea wafting from the kitchen attested. I guess I looked as bad as I felt, because when I joined her in the kitchen Becky immediately shot me a look of concern. “Are you feeling okay Nick? You don’t look so good…” Sighing, I collapsed into the chair across from hers and shrugged. “I didn’t sleep very well…nightmares, but nothing I can remember.” “Poor little guy.” Becky sympathized, pouring me a cup of tea “Well I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast, so maybe that will make you feel a little better…” Nodding absentmindedly, I helped myself, breakfast passing in a nervous silence.
Since we only planned on visiting for the weekend, neither of us had to spend too much time packing. I set out some of my nicer clothes, deciding that it would be important to make a good first impression, and that my usual attire of ‘whatever comes out of the closet’ wouldn’t be exactly ideal. Packing everything neatly into my suitcase (no sense wrinkling neatly ironed stuff by cramming it in a backpack…) I went through the house making sure all the lights and such were turned off while Becky finished packing, then met her in the garage. I noted with approval but not surprise that she had packed light as well, going with the crammed backpack technique. Putting my suitcase in the trunk with her stuff, I closed the lid and got settled down in the passenger seat.
Joining me in the car, Becky set a bottle of milk in the cup holder next to me. Seeing my confused and somewhat agitated look, she sighed. “You obviously didn’t sleep much last night, and frankly you look like a nervous wreck…it’s a long drive there, and I think it would be a very good idea for you to curl up and have a nice little nap on the way.” “I’m okay.” I began to protest, only to have Becky interrupt me in her no-nonsense tone. “This is one of those ‘for your own good’ things little guy. There’s a pillow and Rufus in the gym bag on the back seat, and I brought you a bottle of warm milk…don’t be stubborn, okay?” “ ’Kay.” I agreed in my little kit voice, finding the gym bag in question had more than enough supplies to keep a little kit happy and comfortable for a weekend. Reclining the seat all the way back, I snuggled up with Rufus and started on my bottle. Warm milk must be one of those sneaky little tricks that they teach at mommy school because by the time we were pulling onto the highway I was already starting to feel drowsy, and in spite of my best efforts not to I was asleep before we had even gotten out of the city.
I woke up for the second time that day quite a while later. Looking out the passenger window, I saw that we had gotten out of the familiar landscape of home and were instead in a much hillier, and more densely wooded area. “H’lo.” I mumbled, pulling on Becky’s sleeve a little bit. “Well good morning again!” she laughed cheerfully “We’re about half-way there, so you don’t have to wake up yet if you don’t want to…” “Uh huh.” I smiled back sleepily, promptly rolling back over and continuing to doze.
I passed the next hour or so in a comfortable sort of reverie, the sound of the engine lulling me into a peaceful state. But when Becky announced that “We’re almost there” my nerves began to come back in full force. Seeing the look of almost panic on my muzzle as she pulled into the driveway a few minutes later, Becky reached over and took my paw, assuring me that “It’s all going to be okay, I promise.” Standing in front of the stately old house was Becky’s family, looking just as she had described them. Walking over to greet them, Becky made introductions. “Nick, this is my dad Jon, my mom Susan, and my sister Kristy. Everyone, this is Nick.” Shaking hands all around, I couldn’t help but begin to feel that maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. (Becky meanwhile hadn’t moved her paw from its comforting roost on my shoulder, which I was immensely grateful for.)
After the usual period of required small talk, Becky and I retrieved our luggage (including the gym bag where I had discreetly stuffed Rufus and the empty bottle from earlier.) and Susan showed us to our room. “The guest room is just down the hall.” She started to explain when Becky interrupted her “I was planning on us just using my bedroom.” She explained, to which Susan quizzically commented that “Of course you can if you want, I just thought that you would prefer something a little bit more…adult now.” “It’s just that I’ve missed my old room while I’ve been at school.” Becky explained “I thought it might be nice to stay there again while we were there.” “That’s fine.” Susan nodded, not feeling a need to press the point any farther, then with a laugh decided that “You probably won’t exactly be needing directions, will you?”
After making sure that we had everything that we needed, Susan excused herself, telling everyone that when we got settled in she would show me around the house and grounds. “So, what do you think?” Becky asked, shutting the door behind her mother. “Well they all seem nice.” I smiled “I think maybe this will be easier for me to get through than I originally thought…” “Of course it will.” She nodded, ruffling my headfur as she sat down next to me on the bed “I knew you would be fine once you got over your shyness a little bit. Now let’s find somewhere out of the way for your diaper bag, and then go find Mom, okay?” “About that…” I started a bit nervously “Are you sure that bringing…all that…along was a good idea? I mean, what would they think if they found out about it?” “Don’t worry so much.” Becky sighed, kissing me gently on the muzzle “To begin with they’ve always respected my privacy, and even if by some chance they did find out about it…well, they’ve always trusted my judgment as well. It would surprise me immensely if they had a problem with it.” “Okay.” I nodded, hugging Becky tightly “This is scary for me, but I trust you.”
After we had finished unpacking, Becky and I found Susan in the living room waiting for us. “Shall I show you around then?” she asked, her voice betraying the attempt to hide her eagerness. “If it’s not any trouble…” I nodded, genuinely interested in looking around the beautiful old place. Laughing, Becky put her arm around my waist. “Don’t let Mom fool you, she’d just love an excuse to show off all her old junk!” “Antiques dear, antiques.” Susan grinned back, divulging the obviously longstanding rivalry between mother and daughter. “That old desk you insisted on carting off to your dorm is junk. These…” she continued with a grand gesture “…are antiques!” Noticing someone over her shoulder, Becky quickly chimed in “Hey Dad! Come settle an argument for us…” “Oh no.” laughed a voice from the hallway, where Jon had apparently been trying to sneak by unnoticed “I’m not getting the middle of this one again! And if he’s got any sense he’ll run away while he still can…” “Well anyway…” Susan shrugged, not the least bothered by his rebuff “Shall we go then?”
Susan, it turned out, was an avid collector of antiques, and one who made a point of knowing a great deal about her collection. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and I really couldn’t help but show an interest as she led us through the house, pointing out a favorite piece here, or telling an interesting anecdote there, all the while verbally sparring good naturedly with Becky. The house itself was really a beautiful old place too, being of a classical architectural style, and showing the rich character of well taken care of wood. We eventually ended up on the back porch, which overlooked a large orchard behind the house. (One of Jon’s hobbies, Susan explained.) “I’ll leave you two here.” Susan explained while taking her leave of us “I have to go see about dinner…” After she had gone, Becky turned to me and grinned “You really made a good impression, pretending to be interested in her antiques.” “I was interested in her antiques.” I grinned back “She has some very nice antiques…” “Traitor!” she shot back with mock hostility, before giving me a hug, and suggesting that we go get changed for dinner.
After we were safely behind the locked door of the bedroom, I was extremely surprised and more than slightly worried to discover that “we” in fact meant “me”, and “changed for dinner” had nothing to do with clothes. “You mean you really didn’t notice that you wet your diaper when mom was showing you around?” Becky asked with a slight note of concern in her voice. “No!” I said, beginning to get slightly panicky “The first I knew about this was when you pointed it out just now! Do you think she noticed?” “I doubt it.” Becky replied, putting a paw reassuringly on my shoulder “It didn’t leak through or anything, I just noticed a slight smell. And even if she did, she wouldn’t recognize it as wet diaper.” Suddenly not feeling well, I sat down heavily on the bed, beginning to hyperventilate and feeling my heart beginning to race.
“Nick? Are you okay?” Becky questioned, looking worried. “I feel weird.” I answered, trying to describe what was happening, but having trouble focusing my thoughts, and growing more afraid by the minute. “Little one,” Becky said soothingly, sitting down on the bed and taking me into her arms “that sounds like a panic attack. I know it’s scary, but it won’t hurt you. You’re just stressed out right now, try to relax, okay?” Nodding affirmative even though my paws were beginning to shake I closed my eyes and just tried to calm down. “Just take deep breaths and relax, okay little one?” she said quietly, gently stroking my fur “You’re going to be okay, I promise.” We sat there together on the bed for what seemed like an eternity, but gradually my heart rate and breathing began to slow, and even though my paws were still trembling a little bit, I began to feel more in control and less frightened. “There, see?” Becky smiled “You’re feeling better already. Would you like to try getting changed and having dinner now?” Nodding in agreement, I slowly got up and allowed Becky to lead me to the adjoining bathroom.
The attached bathroom was shared with Kristy’s bedroom by way of a small dressing room, complete with walk-in closet. “Hmm…” Becky mused to herself for a moment, looking around a bit quizzically “There isn’t a nice big counter like there is at your house. What’s a good way to go about this?” Evidentially reaching a consensus, Becky locked the door leading to Kristy’s room and gestured for me to do the same with the one leading back into the room we shared. Spreading a towel out on the carpeted floor of the dressing room, she indicated that I should sit down. “The carpet in here is going to be a good bit more comfortable than the tile in the bathroom.” Becky explained as she undid my pants and quickly slid them off to reveal my diaper. A large yellowish spot on the front of it making my accident quite obvious. “I think we should probably discuss this with Dr. Fawdan when we get back home…” Becky mused as she undid the tapes and deposited the diaper in a large plastic freezer bag before tossing it in the trash. “Uh huh.” I agreed in my little kit voice, shivering a little bit at the cold sensation of her cleaning my diaper area with baby wipes before adding some powder and sliding a new diaper under my bottom.
“I’s a little bit worried Mommy. I’s never done that before…” “Well,” Becky told me reassuringly “there’s probably nothing wrong, but if there is Dr. Fawdan will fix it.” Fastening the tapes on my diaper, Becky left me to my own devices (at the moment playing with my tail…) while she cleaned up the dressing room a little bit, then cajoled me into allowing her to put my pants back on. “I think maybe you need a little bit of a rest before we see about dinner…” she decided “My little kit seems to need to calm down some…” Nodding to herself, Becky took me by the paw and led me back into our room where she sat me down in bed with instructions to “…stay there while I go unlock the other bathroom door.” When she finished that, Becky came and lay down next to me on the bed, taking my head in her lap.
“Don’t need a nap.” I explained patiently in my little kit’s voice. “No, I didn’t say a nap.” Becky explained with equal patience “Just a little bit of quiet time for you to settle yourself.” Giving it a little bit of thought, I decided that Becky was probably right, as usual. I really wasn’t exactly feeling back to normal, and a bit of time to clear my head before heading back out into the game as it were was probably a good idea. Rather than saying anything one way or another, I just snuggled up in Becky’s lap and closed my eyes, allowing myself to slip into a sort of peaceful, meditative state. At some point she began to gently rub me behind my ears, and as I lay there I began to concentrate on that, not thinking about anything in particular, just enjoying our time together. Finally, after a long time or a short time, I would be hard pressed to tell you which, Becky let out a little sigh and decided that “We really should go have dinner with the family.” Sighing a little bit myself, I nodded slowly. “I’d hate for them to think that I was a bad influence on you…” I agreed, only half kidding. “You really should try to lighten up a bit Nick.” She said seriously, tousling my headfur “This is social, not some kind of job interview. You don’t have any reason to be so stressed out about it.”
Dinner turned out to be a very formal-looking but delicious-smelling affair. I had to actually consciously refrain from licking my muzzle in anticipation when we sat down with a delicious looking feast of steak, pasta, and a variety of seafood in front of us. The food was fantastic, and for a minute I forgot my nervousness and just enjoyed my dinner. As I started in on my second helping of a really eclectic pasta salad I felt something gently brush its way down the length of my tail. Looking around in mild confusion, I noticed Becky giving me a playful grin. Smiling back at her, I returned to my dinner, only to find her tail wrapping around my leg a few minutes later, and the same playful grin returning to Becky’s muzzle. Matching her grin, I stealthily brushed my tail along the back of her leg, causing Becky to have to stifle a fit of giggles.
It really was a silly little game that Becky had made up, but it did what she had hoped it would, and before too long I was feeling much more relaxed than I had all weekend. And by the time dissert rolled around I was pretty much back to as normal as I ever was. The topics of discussion during dinner varied widely. Susan, it turned out, was a psychologist, and Jon worked in patent law. Between the two of them there were quite a few interesting stories to tell, and after migrating to the living room when everyone had finished eating, we all stayed up talking late into the night. Eventually though I began to notice Becky looking more than a little tired, though she did her best to hide it.
“Well,” I started, sounding somewhat protective “she’ll never admit it, but it was a long drive here, and I’m sure Becky could do with a good night’s sleep…” “I’m fine.” Becky smiled with a bemused expression on her muzzle, obviously finding this bit of role-reversal cute. Her argument would have been a lot more convincing if she had managed to finish it without having to stifle a yawn. “He’s right you know…” Susan nodded with mock seriousness. “I’m glad you found someone who will take care of my little girl.” Jon kidded, causing both Becky and I to break out into a fit of giggles. “You’re probably right.” Becky conceded “I really could use a good night’s sleep.” Taking my paw, Becky excused us from the room, leading me back to our bedroom for the night.
“Well” she yawned, locking the bedroom door behind us “why don’t we get my little kit changed for the night. It’s already past your bedtime…” “Becky, I’m really not sure if a sleeper is a good idea, considering our current situation…” I began nervously, only to have her cut off my argument before I had a chance to finish. “It’s okay, really. I’ve locked both of the doors so nobody will walk in on us unannounced, nobody is going to find out, I promise…” “Okay.” I agree hesitantly, still nervous about the idea. On the one paw I didn’t want to risk Becky’s family finding out and maybe not understanding, but on the other paw I trusted Becky completely. If she said that it was okay and we wouldn’t be caught, then that’s the way things were. It was her family and her house, she would have a much better idea about it than I would…
“Hop up on the bed little guy.” Becky instructed as she got the gym bag full of my kit stuff out of her closet. With a little nod I somewhat hesitantly sat down on the bed, taking my hiking boots off while Becky decided what I was going to wear tonight. She eventually decided on my green sleeper, returning to where I was already beginning to drift off to sleep, dressed only in my diaper. Looking down on me with an expression of contentment on her muzzle, Becky checked my diaper, and, finding it dry, proceeded to get me into my sleeper. The task was made a bit more difficult than usual by the fact that I kept drifting off to sleep while she was trying to coax me to be a bit more helpful, but Becky took everything with good cheer, and pretty soon I was all ready for a good night’s sleep and she was crawling into bed next to me.
With the lights turned out the diffusing glow of moonlight filtering through the window lent a sort of peaceful, surreal air to the room, perfect for spending those few cozy minutes between the wakefulness of the day and the peace of the night. I could feel Becky snuggling up next to me, settling down with her head resting in the crook of my arm. “It’s good to be home…” she whispered before falling into the slow, rhythmic breathing that let me know she had drifted off to sleep. “It is, isn’t it?” I thought to myself, a look of contentment on my muzzle.
When I woke up the next morning Becky was already out of bed, and I could hear water running in the bathroom. Giving a bit of a mental shrug I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, nowhere near ready to surrender to the morning light shining through the window. Just as I was slipping back into a comfortable slumber I felt Becky gently shaking me. “Oh no you don’t!” she laughed cheerfully “I’ve already gotten your bath water ready, and I’m not about to let it get cold while you sleep the morning away…” “Bath water?” I mumbled vaguely coherently. “Well I wouldn’t be a very good mommy if I didn’t make sure my little kit started off the day all fluffy and clean, now would I?” “I am clean.” I groaned, the possibility of returning to my happy little slumber growing smaller and smaller by the second. “Well actually…” Becky explained gently, pulling back my blanket and tapping the elastic waistband of my diaper to draw my attention to the problem at hand “…you’re not.”
Looking down south I saw her point. Besides the telltale yellowish color on the front of my diaper there was also a rather large patch of wet, matted fur going from the waistband almost halfway up my chest. Groaning loudly I jumped up out of bed, now very much awake and somewhat less than thrilled. “Damn it! How did that happen? I can’t believe that I…” “Shush.” Becky said kindly, putting a finger to my muzzle “You’re stressed out about the visit, and it caused you to have a little accident. I’m not mad at you for the accident, I’m proud that you’re facing your fears, and I’m touched that you would go through it just to make me happy. Nobody has to know about it, so why don’t we see about that bath now, okay?” Becky’s kind words made me feel a lot better, and after taking a minute or two to sort of get everything back in order I nodded in agreement. “Okay, bath time it is then…”
Taking me by the paw, Becky led me into the bathroom before stripping me of my wet diaper and helping me into the waiting bubble bath. “See, that’s better already, isn’t it?” She asked rhetorically, picking up on the little sigh that had escaped my muzzle as I settled into the comfortably warm water, everything below my shoulders being lost under the thick layer of bubbles. I decided that it was a rhetorical question, and while Becky was digging in the bathroom cabinets for something I occupied myself by burying the few little bits of me that were sticking out of the bathwater with bubbles. “You know, I’ve a pretty good idea where you’re hiding, despite the superior camouflage work, Nick.” Becky laughed when she finally returned her attention to me. “No you don’t!” I argued in my little kit voice, earning a slight reprieve from the bar of soap while she did her best to control her giggling. “I’m pretty sure you’re around here somewhere!” she explained cheerfully, tossing the washrag into one of the larger piles of bubbles, to have it come to rest draped over my ears. “See, where there’s two pointy little ears there is sure to be a fox kit.” Becky declared solemnly.
Ceding the point, I quit squirming long enough for Becky to give me a halfway decent scrubbing, then stood up so she could rinse the soap and bubbles out of my fur with one of those sprayer thingies that attach to the shower. “That tickles mommy!” I giggled as she played the stream from the sprayer through my fur, rinsing out the last remaining soap residue before motioning for me to get out of the tub. “I always thought so too.” Becky agreed, vigorously toweling out my fur before getting the furdryer. “Now I know this is going to be a bit of a disappointment” Becky began “but we really need to hurry things along a bit, or else breakfast will be cold before we get there…” “Don’t care.” I mumbled, basking in the warm air of the furdryer “This is better than breakfast anyway…” “Yes, but it would be rude not to put in an appearance.” She argued “After all, you’re sort of the guest of honor!” Sighing deeply, I nodded in agreement. “Okay, if we have to…” “We do.” She nodded, turning off the furdryer “So let’s get your fur combed out a bit and go have some breakfast, okay?”
Becky and I turned out to be the last two furs to arrive at the table. “Did you two sleep well?” Jon inquired as we seated ourselves at the table. “Yep.” Becky grinned “My little guy here needs his rest or else he’s cranky in the morning…” Doing my best to feign an abashed look, I nodded in agreement while helping myself to an omelet of some sort, poking at it quizzically before summoning the courage to try a bite. As luck would have it, I rather liked whatever it was, despite not being able to identify the contents to save myself.
Much to my relief, Becky took care of the majority of the small talk for the meal, allowing me to relax a little bit and enjoy my food. I was a little nervous that I might be expected to be more conversational, but to my relief breakfast passed without anyone putting me on the spot. “Well,” Becky announced, after we had all finished eating “Nick and I were thinking that we would go for a picnic this afternoon, and meet you back here around dinner, then we can all go to the fair you mentioned.” Not recalling mention of a fair, my ears perked up at attention while I absentmindedly finished my orange juice. “Just be back before dark, okay?” Susan grinned “I’d hate to miss the fair because we had to go hunt for you two out in the woods!” Sticking out her tongue at Susan, Becky took my paw and we headed back to our room to gather up a few things for our walk.
“How long exactly were you planning on being gone?” I asked a bit dubiously as Becky intently dug through our suitcases. “Probably a couple of hours, why?” she shrugged, finally selecting a pair of loose fitting jeans to wear, then starting to look over her pile of shirts. “Well you just seem to be spending a great deal of time in contemplation of what to wear…” I shrugged “It doesn’t seem like that big a decision to me…” “Only because I can’t find what I’m looking for.” She sighed, grabbing a shirt at random and ducking into the bathroom to change clothes.
Eventually we were ready to go, and Becky ended up deciding that it would be nice to start with a tour of the orchards. “It’s as good a place as any if you don’t have anywhere particular to go.” She smiled as we strolled among the rows of trees. “There’s really not much to see this early in the year,” Becky mused “but during the spring when everything is in bloom there’s a wonderful flowery smell…” “…Like cheap air freshener!” I interjected, earning myself a playful cuff on the shoulder. “I suppose I deserve that…” I mused as we left the rows of apple trees and began walking along the border of the woods at the far end of the orchard. “Yes, yes you did.” She joked “Making fun of me when I’m trying to keep you safe from all my scary relatives…” “And I appreciate your efforts.” I nodded with mock seriousness as Becky led me down a path into the cool green shade of the woods.
As we walked deeper into the mottled shadows of the dense canopy of the forest Becky and I lapsed into a comfortable silence, until after a time we stopped by an unspoken agreement, and settled down in the cool moss under the trees. “This is really pretty…” I mused, lying down with my paws behind my head, Becky settling down comfortably next to me. Smiling placidly, Becky reached under my shirt and scratched my tummy before lying down herself. “You know,” I mused “I think I like your family…I mean, they make me sort of nervous, but they’re not that bad really.” Laughing a little Becky grinned “I’m sure they’ll be glad to know that they’re ‘not that bad’…” “You know what I mean…” I chided gently, closing my eyes and snuggling against her soft warmth. “Uh huh.” She nodded, wrapping her arm around my shoulders as I began to drift into a sleepy sort of daze.
We lay there together in a comfortable sort of half-wakefulness, content to just pass the afternoon away as time saw fit. “You know,” I began, after a time had passed “I was thinking. It really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for you to be paying rent back at your apartment if you’re living out at the house with me, and…well..err… I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you wanted to…umm…move in with me…it…well…I would really be glad to have your company…” “Why Nick, I do believe you’re blushing…” Becky teased before kissing me gently on my muzzle. “I would really be glad to have your company too.” “Really? You mean it?” I asked in a rush, positively beaming. “Yes, I really mean it.” She replied “But only if we dispense with the whole ‘guest bedroom’ fallacy…the only guest staying in the bedroom is the clothes in the closet, and your closet has more than enough room for them to co-habit nicely. And that way we could actually have guests…” At a complete loss for words, I finally settled for giving Becky an enormous hug, refusing to let go for a long, long time. “Since I’m having such wonderful luck with things,” I mused, only half kidding “maybe I should ask you to be life-bonded.” “Maybe I will say ‘yes’.” Becky replied with absolute seriousness.
Pausing for a moment, the connotations of what she had just said began to sink in. “Nick?” she replied, looking at me expectantly. “Please stand up.” I asked, beginning to tremble as I raised myself to one knee before her as she stood. “Becky,” I began, a tremor in my voice, as I took her paw in mine “You would make this the happiest day of my life if you would grant me the honor and the privilege of taking my paw in marriage. You are the love of my life, my best friend, and the world in my eyes. Will you be my mate, my mommy, and my companion forever?” “I would like nothing more in the world.”
The morning passed in a state of absolute euphoria. Becky and I eventually continued our meandering little walk, ending up back in the orchards where we had first started. “Becky?” I asked as we headed back towards the house “Can we stop a minute?” Sensing the tone of apprehension in my voice, she nodded, settling down in the moss under one of the peach trees. “What is it Nick? You look like you’re about to be ill…” Shivering involuntarily, I tried to collect my thoughts. “I really don’t know where to start…” I whispered, feeling like I was going to throw up. How in the world does one ask this sort of question without insulting somebody? Wrapping her arms around my shoulders, Becky guided me down into her lap. “Go ahead.” She replied gently “I promise you can tell me anything…” “Do you think your parents will accept me?” I blurted out “I mean, there’s a lot of difference between a house guest and a son in law…”
Looking me in the eyes, Becky smiled. “Nick, I’m going to put this very bluntly, as that seems to be the best way to get through to you. My family approves of you, and even if they didn’t I love you, so the hells with it. I want to be with you for the rest of my life, you want to be with me for the rest of yours, and that is all there is to it. I understand that you tend to be a bit old fashioned, and that it probably matters to you that you get my father’s blessing for us to be life bonded. Honestly, I find that rather endearing, though completely unnecessary, but I would be so surprised that I would have a heart attack and die on the spot if he didn’t give approve. And, judging by the shell-shocked expression you keep displaying every time you think about it, you seem quite ready to have one of your own before it’s all said and done, so please, just take a deep breath and relax. I mean, if you die before we get married I’ll be a widow by proxy, won’t I?” Nodding, I did my best to explain, both for my benefit as well as Becky’s. “It doesn’t matter to you, so I suppose it really shouldn’t matter to me, but I guess it is just the way that I was raised…” “Not another word…” she chided, “I forbid you to apologize any more, okay?” “Yes mommy.” I nodded, using my little kit’s voice.
We meandered back to the house in time for lunch, meeting up with the rest of Becky’s family in the dining room. I really couldn’t pay too much attention to things during the meal, and kept absentmindedly picking at the end of my tail until Becky draped it over her lap with a rather exasperated expression on her muzzle and popped a spoonful of applesauce in my mouth. “We’re here to eat lunch, remember?” she laughed gently, patting my paw. Nodding, I did my best to concentrate on my food until lunch was over and everyone began getting up from the table. Seeing an opportunity, I caught Jon as he was finishing up clearing the table. “Could I talk to you a minute?” I asked nervously, tapping him on the shoulder. “Sure Nick.” He nodded, motioning me into the living room “What’s on your mind?” “Well,” I began nervously “earlier today I asked Becky if she would be life bonded to me, and she said yes… And…your approval would mean a great deal to me…” “That’s wonderful news!” he exclaimed, “Nick, I would be proud to have you as a part of our family, and I know you’ll take good care of my daughter.” “Well really she’s the one who takes care of me…” I grinned, enjoying my private joke. “But seriously, I would appreciate it if you could keep this to yourself, I get the impression that Becky wants to break the news to the rest of the family herself.” Nodding in understanding, Jon commented that “I guess we will all have something extra special to celebrate at the fall festival tonight…”
The rest of the afternoon passed in a cheerful blur. The secret being kept between Becky, Jon, and I placed me firmly in an absolutely radiant mood, and I guess that my high spirits were infectious because everyone in the house proved to be rather cheerful as the day wound down towards evening. “We should be getting ready for the fair…” Becky reminded me as the sun began to set. “I’d completely forgotten about that.” I admitted, laughing “I guess I had more important things on my mind this afternoon…” Putting her paws on her hips, Becky sighed in mock exasperation “What am I going to do with you Nick?” “I could make a few suggestions…” I grinned slyly as we went upstairs to get ready. “Are you sure you want to be giving me ideas?” she grinned back.
“So what is this festival we’re going to anyway?” I asked as I changed into some warmer clothes. “Well,” Becky explained “It was a traditional celebration in this part of the world in ancient times, celebrating bringing in the last of the harvests, and the arrival of winter.” “But we haven’t brought in any harvests yet…” I joked “…isn’t it sort of premature? Maybe we should go out and harvest something instead.” Ruffling my headfur, Becky laughed indulgently “We don’t have any crops that need bringing in, so I guess we will just have to skip to the celebrations…I hope you’re not disappointed.” “Well if we have to…” I sighed dramatically “But I was really looking forward to harvesting something…” “If it makes you feel any better, I’m sure nobody will mind if you wanted to harvest up some dinner when we get there.” She joked as she led me back downstairs to join the rest of the family.
We all piled into Jon’s car for the trip to the fairgrounds. It was a bit cramped with five of us, but luckily it wasn’t a long trip. “Here we are!” he announced as we pulled into a parking space. The fairgrounds were filled with tents: a large one covering picnic tables in front of a stage where a band played merrily, a slightly smaller one where booths selling food and drinks were set up, and a sprinkling of smaller tents where furs were selling all sorts of things, from arts and crafts and jewelry, to homemade jams and jellies. And everything was interconnected with strings of festively colored paper lanterns. “We should go lay claim to a table in the main tent.” Susan announced, setting a brisk pace in that direction “Otherwise we’ll have trouble finding one later.” Taking Becky’s paw, we followed behind Susan, Jon and Kristy trailing in our wake.
As we settled down at the table Susan chose (“Not too close to the stage so it’s easy to move around…”) I noticed that there was a play area off to the side. Apparently the fairgrounds served double duty as a park during the day, and next to a nice little playground there were a variety of games and rides for the little ones to enjoy while their parents were busy elsewhere. Seeing where my gaze was directed, Becky whispered discreetly that “We can take a look around over there a little later, but you have to promise to be discreet, okay little one?” “Yes mommy!” I nodded eagerly before turning my attention to Jon, who had returned to the table with a heaping tray of food. “Who wants some dinner?” He asked gleefully, setting the tray down in the middle of the table and motioning for everyone to dig in.
Becky loaded up a plate with sausage, roasted corn, a couple of biscuits and a baked potato, sliding it in front of me and indicating that I should grab a drink from the tray. (If anyone else noticed they didn’t comment.) The drink selection consisted of iced tea and beer, I chose the latter, earning a somewhat disapproving look from Becky. “Beer really isn’t good for little kits…” she whispered, but made no effort to rectify the drink selection, and by the time everyone had started their meal showed all the signs of having forgotten entirely. The food was really good, though a bit heavier than one would tend to choose if they were planning on doing much afterwards, and I’d finished off my second beer by the time we’d run out of food. “Would anyone like to go look around the shops with me?” I suggested, wiping my paws on my napkin before standing up. “I’ll stay here and watch the band if it’s all the same to the rest of you…” Jon decided. “Me too.” Kristy added “I kind of doubt they’d have much here I’d be interested in buying…” Standing up, Becky took my arm in hers, declaring that she wouldn’t mind a bit of fresh air. “If you don’t mind, I think I’ll come with you two…” Susan decided. “We don’t mind at all.” I grinned, offering her my paw to help her up. “Well then let’s be off!” Becky laughed, waving us towards the booths.
As we wandered through the booths of arts and crafts that sprawled across the fairgrounds, it soon became pretty obvious that Kristy had been right, there really wasn’t a whole lot that I was interested in either. But since I had gotten up mostly intending just to stretch my legs a bit, I wasn’t particularly disappointed by this realization. Becky and Susan, however, seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. Walking with them as they enthusiastically examined all the little odds and ends that were offered for sale, I couldn’t help but grin. “What?” Becky asked curiously, noticing my expression. “Nothing particular.” I shrugged “I just like watching you enjoy yourself like this…” “Enjoying myself like what?” she laughed. “Oh you know…just your enthusiasm over all these little odds and ends. Your mood is infectious I guess…” “You’re just dying to buy some of this stuff, I can tell.” Becky teased “I saw the way you were staring at those lace doilies in the other tent!” “You caught me!” I nodded seriously “Though you have to admit that they’d look just lovely on the end tables in the living room…”
We didn’t manage to make it through the booths with wallets and purses unscathed, and once they began showing the first signs of weakness we suffered a full-scale ambush such that by the time Becky and Susan decided to return to our table I found myself carrying a fairly sizable pile of their stuff. “It’s quite gentlemanly of you to offer to carry our packages.” Susan complimented, grinning “I would have had to do a lot more prodding to get Jon to do it…you’ve already got him pretty well trained Becky!” “Chivalry isn’t dead…” I grumbled theatrically “It just keeps killing off all the chivalrous…” “You know you don’t mind, we know you don’t mind, and we know you know we know that you don’t mind, so you might as well quit grumbling.” Becky smiled gently, skritching behind my ears as I deposited their packages on our table and dropped into a chair with a sigh.
“And that’s exactly why I chose to stay here!” Jon laughed “I mean, you two have completely worn our guest into exhaustion, using him for a pack mule like that. For shame.” Passing me a beer and a giant soft pretzel, Jon sighed dramatically “I suppose that I failed in my job as a host by not warning you about the diabolical trickery that these two employ against unsuspecting males…luring you in with their false portrayal of helplessness, only to ensnare you in their carefully spun web of deceit and packages!” Laughing, Susan cuffed him playfully on the shoulder. “What about you then? Tricking poor innocent vixens into going to fairs with you, luring them with promises of shopping for eclectic arts and crafts when your real intent only involved greasy food and beer? You sir are no better than we are!” “Oh, I don’t know about that…” I interjected in a contemplative tone of voice as I finished my drink “After all, the three of you are stunningly attractive vixens, while he on the other hand…” “Traitor!” Jon interjected ominously “They’ve warped your mind with their feminine ways! That’s it, I’m not sharing any more beer with you.” “That’s probably a good thing.” Becky stated, equally ominously but without the humor in her tone. “Ah, but you have to be life-bonded to him before you get to boss him around like that.” Jon chided, passing me another beer to Becky’s exasperated sigh before our attention returned to the stage.
We settled back down and listened to the bands for another hour or so when I began to feel the rather persistent call of nature. Taking into consideration that there wasn’t anywhere that Becky would even vaguely be able to consider changing me, and the fact that we would quite probably be at the fair for quite some time and that being wet until we got back home really wouldn’t be the best idea in the world, I made the command decision to risk using one of the port-a-potties on the edge of the fairgrounds. “I’m off to the little kit’s room…” I announced, taking my leave of the present company and heading off for the bathrooms. It became more and more apparent that whoever had set up the fairgrounds had not taken lighting into consideration, and I narrowly avoided tripping and falling flat on my muzzle on three separate occasions before arriving at the small pool of light cast by the streetlamp the port-a-potties had been set up around. Finding an empty one, I opened the door and nearly changed my mind. “That…is…just…nasty.” Sighing loudly, then taking a deep breath for good measure, I went and did what needed to be done as quickly as I could manage before rushing back outside and sucking in a huge lungful of crisp, cool, night air. “I think I’m going to have to burn these shoes.” I grumbled to myself, glad to have managed to get in and out without bumping into the walls, despite having had several beers so far this evening.
As I started back towards the music pavilion I was waylaid by a rather elderly sounding voice “Excuse me young man…” Turning around, I found that its source was a grandmotherly looking old squirrel. “Yes ma’am?” I asked politely, curious as to what she wanted. “Your diaper is showing over the top of your pants. It looks like you tucked your shirt into it by accident…” “Oh. Thank you.” I nodded, blushing a deep crimson, even through my fur. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of.” She said in an understanding tone of voice “I’ve done the same thing myself once or twice when I’ve been in a hurry. And I really don’t think that anyone inside one of those can help but be in one…” Gesturing disdainfully in the direction of the port-a-potties, she sighed “But I guess it’s less trouble to clean up than if they had the park bathrooms open.” “It’s still a pity.” I agreed as I finished fixing my shirt “It would be nice to have a sink, or at least some decent lighting… Thanks for stopping me by the way.” “You’re quite welcome.” She nodded “It looks like you’ve got it taken care of…” “Have a good evening ma’am.” I nodded as I took my leave of her and headed back to our table.
“What happened to you?” Becky asked curiously after I rejoined the family at the table. “Nothing, why?” I shrugged, making sure that certain things had not decided to show themselves again. “You’re blushing rather enthusiastically…” she explained, waiting for an explanation. Sighing, I leaned over and quickly explained the whole story, glad that the rest of our group were quite preoccupied with the band currently on stage. “Well that was nice of her.” Becky laughed, her eyes sparkling in amusement “My little kit is going to have to learn to be more careful, aren’t you?” Nodding in embarrassment, I gave her a quick kiss “You’re right, as usual…”
All in all I would have to say that it was one of the better evenings in recent memory, despite my initial misgivings and discomfort over spending time with Becky’s family. The old expression ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ has remained in common usage for as long as it has due to the fact that it is quite true. It seemed like we had only arrived an hour or so ago when Susan stood up with a sigh. “Well, much as I hate to be the one who kills the party, we should probably be heading out soon so we don’t get stuck in traffic on the way back through town…” “Already?” Jon asked, seeming to be quite surprised to have his watch confirm that yes in fact it had become very late when nobody was watching. “Seems like time is always trying to sneak up on you…” I grinned, stretching a bit as I (somewhat shakily) stood up and offered Becky a paw. “I don’t see why we can’t stay until closing…” Kristy grumbled as she helped gather up the packages from our earlier shopping excursion prior to us all heading back to the car. “Well mostly because us old folks need our rest so that our tails don’t fall off.” Jon explained patiently, examining the end of his tail critically before announcing “See, mine is already getting limp and unresponsive. If I don’t get some sleep soon you’ll have to drive me to the hospital to get it sewn back on!” Grinning despite herself, Kristy just shook her head. “You’re unbelievable, you know that, right?” “But of course.” Jon nodded seriously as he unlocked the car so we could all pile in.
I guess I had a bit too much to drink at the fair because on the way back to the house I found it getting harder and harder to keep my eyes open. Finally, covering my muzzle to stifle a yawn, I decided to just give in for the time being and stretched out on the back seat with my head resting in Becky’s lap. “You’re comfy…” I smiled simply, closing my eyes and doing my best to ignore the bumps in the park’s driveway until we pulled out onto the road. “Thanks, I think.” She nodded, humoring me. “You’re beautiful too.” I nodded, leaning up and kissing her gently on the muzzle. Closing my eyes I began to drift off somewhere between sleep and awake, idly counting the gentle bumps and rises of the car’s suspension as we headed down the highway.
I didn’t really fall asleep, but instead sort of drifted into a comfortable little haze until I was brought back to the here and now by Becky shaking me gently. “We’re back Nick, time to go inside…” “Yes, there’s pillows in there…” I nodded as I climbed out of the car and followed Becky back into the house. Or tried to anyway, it didn’t work out quite as well as I would have hoped, and I couldn’t help swaying a little bit as I walked, causing Becky to decide that it would be best if she offered me her arm for support. “I really wish you hadn’t had quite so much to drink tonight…” she sighed after we had retired to our bedroom for the night. “I didn’t think that I’d had all that much.” I explained, doing my best to not sound argumentative “I guess I was wrong.” “Well it was kind of Dad’s fault too…” she shrugged “He was a bit more encouraging than he should have been. I kind of think that it was mostly because Mom couldn’t complain about you having a bit more than you should, and that gave him an excuse to as well.” “Of course now he’ll have to listen to her nag him for a while before she’ll give him his car keys back…” Becky mused “It’s a pity you don’t have car keys for me to give back, then you would have to sit here and listen to me nag for a while as well…” “If you think you should mommy…” I shrugged, beginning to slip into my little kit persona. “I’m not going to nag you about it, I’ll just say that I wish you hadn’t…now let’s see about getting you a nice warm bath…” Nodding enthusiastically I stripped down to my diaper and followed her into the bathroom.
Beginning to run the water, Becky added bubble bath, and then decided that “Since it’s so late tonight I think it would be best to brush our teeth while the water is running so we can save some time…” “Okay mommy.” I nodded, taking my toothbrush when she handed it to me and dutifully brushing my teeth. “Now be sure to do a good job!” she chided, ruffling my headfur. “I did.” I nodded seriously “Really really good.” “Okay then, as long as you did it really really good.” She nodded back with equal seriousness before turning to shut off the bath water. Seeing that the bath was ready for me, I stepped out of my diaper and slipped into the waiting sea of bubbles. Churling happily I sank down into the warm water, enjoying the feeling of the warmth slowly taking the stiffness out of my muscles.
“Where did your undies disappear to?” Becky wondered aloud before finding that they had landed behind the toilet during my enthusiastic rush into the bath “I found them…they were hiding from me.” She explained with a laugh. “Uh huh.” I nodded, not really paying attention. The bubbles were intriguing in a fluffy, foamy sort of way, and it hadn’t taken me long to begin trying to pile them into a castle. “Is my little kit interested in playing or interested in washing?” Becky questioned, having sat down cross-legged in front of the bathtub to better watch my construction attempts. “Pwaying.” I answered decisively, quite thoroughly immersed in my little kit persona, as much so as I was immersed in the foamy hill of white bubbles. “That’s about what I thought.” She nodded, not looking the least bit surprised “Okay then!”
Stripping down to her panties, Becky folded her clothes and stacked them neatly on the bathroom counter before sitting down on the edge of the bathtub, her paws joining me in my warm bubbly bath. Seeing my vaguely curious expression, she shrugged “I think it’ll be easier on my knees if I don’t have to be reaching over you so much…I’m a bit sore from all the walking we did earlier today.” “You don’ feel good, mommy?” I asked in a tone of voice somewhere between confused and worried “You should get a bandaid, then you’ll be all better…” “It’s not a bandaid kind of hurt honey…don’t worry your little head about it, I’ll be fine.” She smiled lovingly, obviously finding the whole exchange really cute. “I guess…” I mumbled, sounding far less than sure, and still eyeing Becky a bit protectively. “You’re looking awfully serious for such a little kit.” She smiled, turning around to find the shampoo.
Giving it far less thought than a grown-up would have, I decided that what Becky needed for her muscle aches was a good hot soak, and since she was already dangling her paws in some pleasantly warm and massively bubble-laden bathwater it would be a bit of a shame if my enjoying a soak prevented her from having enough time (and hot water) for one of her own. Grinning mischievously, I pounced on Becky’s tail, quickly submerging it beneath the water. “Do you know where my tail went?” Becky asked with just a touch of exasperation apparent in her voice. “I think it went under the bubbles.” I explained, feigning ignorance “You should get in and look for it.” “Nick…” She responded in a more stern tone, managing to stretch my name out forever. Sighing audibly I responded in my adult voice “A nice hot bath will help with the soreness, and considering how late it has gotten I somehow doubt that you were planning on making time for one on your own before you went to bed…” Seeing in her expression that she was about to argue I took her paw, smiling gently as I looked her in the eyes. “Precious, everybody needs someone to look after them every now and then…” Her expression softening, Becky nodded, sliding down behind me in the tub.
“See, better already!” I laughed, hearing Becky let out a little sigh of contentment. Turning around in the oversized bathtub so that I was facing Becky I took the shampoo bottle from the edge of the tub and poured a dollop on my paw. “I can…” Becky started before being interrupted. “Shh…” Working the shampoo into her fur I soon had a good lather going, efficiently cleaning the park dust from her fur before using the shower sprayer to rinse her clean. Then, having taken care of the necessary task at hand I turned to more pleasant matters, rubbing her back and shoulders until she had a contented expression on her muzzle, her happy little smile making it quite clear she was glad I’d talked her into the bath. “Mmm…thank you…” Becky murred happily “That was nice.” “Told you.” I whispered, scritching behind her ears. Leaning comfortably on the edge of the tub, she took my paw and scooted me over onto her lap. Resting my head on her shoulder, with my fur drifting in the bathwater, forming a fuzzy brown and white cloud around the outline of my body, I really couldn’t think of a particularly compelling reason to get up and go to bed, and in fact had to make a conscious effort to not simply drift off to sleep in the bathtub. (Which wasn’t made any easier by the soothing way Becky was toying idly with my headfur.)
“It’s really late, we really should get my little kit washed up and ready for bed.” Becky sighed quite a while later. “Okay mommy.” I nodded as I sat back up, obviously not pleased with having to move from my comfortable little spot. Finding the bottle of shampoo, Becky did a rapid but thorough job of cleaning me up before announcing that “If we stay in here much longer we may shrivel up and disappear…look how wrinkly we’ve gotten already!” Laughing I climbed out of the bath and into the towel Becky had waiting before we took turns with the furdryer, drying off as quickly as possible, despite my annoyed little grunt when Becky announced that “That’s enough, we’re dry.” “But I likes the dryer…” I grumbled, obligingly lying down on the bed while she got the diaper bag. “I know honey, but at this rate the sun will have come up before we even make it to bed.” Becky sighed, tapping me on the hip to get me to lift up my bottom so she could fasten the tailhole. Taping up the front, Becky tossed the diaper bag back into the closet before turning out the lights and crawling into bed next to me.
“Well, I think that was a pretty good day.” She mused, placing my plush fox in my arms as she felt me snuggling up next to her. “Uh huh.” I nodded, already well on my way to the land of dreams. “My family all really like you, you know.” Becky said quietly “And my dad has never liked anyone I’ve brought home to meet him before. I think that he’ll probably even be pretty positive when we announce that we’re to be life-bonded.” “He was.” I mumbled , shifting around to get a bit more comfortable. “Huh?” Becky questioned “What do you mean?” “I asked for his blessing.” I replied simply, rolling over to look Becky in the eyes “I hope that’s not a problem or anything, it’s just that…well…I guess it mattered to me that he thought I was good enough for you.” “What do you mean?” she asked, more curious than anything else. “Well, through your entire life, who was always looking out for you? I mean being your better judgment when you refused to do it for yourself, who took care of the troubles of the world for you to keep you from making bad mistakes until you knew better on your own?” “My dad…” Becky nodded, starting to catch on. “Exactly.” I smiled, kissing her on the nose “Daddy is the hardest judge in the world when it affects his little girl, and…well…if he is okay with me being life-bonded to his daughter, then maybe I really am good enough for you. And before you ask, I made him promise not to tell anyone, so it’s still your surprise.” Hugging me tightly, I felt Becky’s muzzle in my headfur.
Sighing sadly, I could feel her shake her head. “Nick, when will you learn that you really are a much better person than you give yourself credit for?” Getting out of bed, I walked over to the window, staring out at the woods, reflecting silver and shadows in the moonlight. Then after a silence that seemed to last for an eternity, I walked back to the bed and took Becky’s paws in mine. Looking her in the eyes I tried to explain my feelings “Becky, whether I’m good or whether I’m bad, the one thing that I’ll never forget is that for some fluke of chance I had a moment of time when I was the most lucky fox in the entire world. In that moment our paths crossed, and everything I ever wished for was granted. I promise you that every day for the rest of my life I’ll give thanks that fate brought us together, and that your gentle soul saw something in me that I had forgotten was there.” Tears beginning to mist her eyes, Becky wordlessly took me by the paw and guided me back under the blankets. Hugging me tightly, as if she was afraid that if she didn’t I would evaporate into thin air, we drifted off to sleep, Becky holding me in her arms.
I awoke the next morning to Becky gently scritching behind my ears. Murring happily I nuzzled her shoulder a bit, getting comfortable with the intent of drifting off to sleep again. Becky, however, had some other ideas entirely. “Come on sleepyhead, I need to talk to you about something!” she laughed cheerfully as she tapped me on the nose with her finger. “Talk later. Sleeping now.” I grumbled uncooperatively, causing Becky to sigh. “Seriously Nick.” “Okay, okay. But only because it’s you asking.” I sighed, doing my best to blink my way to some vague sort of wakeful coherency. “I was thinking that you might prefer it if we told my family that we’re going to be life-bonded right before we left this afternoon instead of this morning.” “It really doesn’t particularly matter to me one way or another…” I shrugged, following Becky’s lead and going to get dressed for the day. “There’s a very good chance that my mother will immediately call up my entire extended family when she hears the news, and if we’re not well and truly away by then we will be caught when they descend upon the house for the inevitable impromptu family gathering. I assumed that you wouldn’t exactly be comfortable with that.” “You’re right as usual.” I nodded “We shall save the announcement until such time as we are prepared to effect a tactical withdrawal from the region…” “Now that we’ve got that out of the way,” Becky suggested “Why don’t we go see about getting some breakfast?”
Breakfast was a relatively subdued affair, everyone still being more than a little bit tired from having been up far too late the night before. Susan had not been found lacking in the food department however, and despite a great deal of yawning, eventually everyone was fed and at least somewhat ready to face the day. “Well,” I began, stifling a yawn myself “I hope you don’t think it rude or anything, but since I’m going to be driving Becky and I back home before too long it would probably be a good idea for me to go take a mid-morning nap so I don’t fall asleep behind the wheel or something…” “Well good night again then!” Jon laughed as I excused myself from the table and headed back upstairs.
Looking around at the scattered pile of our luggage, I concluded that it would be a good idea to get everything pretty much packed into the car before I took my nap. “After all, it would be decidedly unchivalrous to leave all of that for Becky…” Happily, I discovered that our mess really wasn’t as overwhelming as I had thought, and I pretty much had it all loaded back up in the car within twenty minutes or so. (After explaining my logic to the furs in the living room, who were giving me odd looks when I reappeared hefting several suitcases.) So, before too long I was settling in for my somewhat belated nap.
In what I considered to be altogether too short a time, I awoke to Becky gently shaking me. “That’s the second time today you’ve done that.” I observed, feigning grumpiness. “It’s turning into a bad habit.” She grinned before continuing more seriously “We need to get going soon though so we’ll get back before dark.” Nodding my agreement, I climbed back out of bed and glanced around the room briefly. While I had been asleep Becky had packed up the last of our stuff, and apparently waited until the last minute to wake me up. “Well…” I grinned as I stretched my paws over my head “I guess we should get going then. Umm…have you made the big announcement yet or were you waiting for me to be involved as well?” “You get to be involved, of course.” Becky chided “Don’t think you can get out of it that easily!” “I was afraid of that.” I laughed, following her downstairs where her family was waiting to see us off.
“There’s something that we wanted to tell you before we left.” Becky began, having more trouble deciding what to say than she thought she would. Speeches aren’t as easy when you have a real audience, but she pressed ahead anyway, gaining more confidence as she went “Nick and I…we’ve decided that we are going to be life-bonded.” Absolutely beaming, Susan interjected “That’s wonderful! Oh, but Becky, couldn’t you have told us earlier…then we could have invited the whole family over to meet Nick. You really should have…why don’t you two stay for another day or two, then we could…” Seeing my increasing nervousness and remembering what it was like all those years ago when he was in my shoes, Jon interrupted “Now Susan, they have schoolwork to get back to. There will be time for all of that later…” Then, turning to Becky he added “You kids have a safe ride home!” Gratefully taking his hint, Becky grabbed my paw and rapidly pointed me in the direction of the car. As I passed Jon on the way out he whispered, “I’ll hold her off as long as I can, but you two need to make tracks while there’s still time!” Laughing, I joined Becky in the car and we were soon on the road back home.
The ride back was uneventful, for which I was supremely grateful. Even though I’d had my afternoon nap I felt kind of out of sorts with the world. Not really tired as such, but more feeling the adrenaline rush from making our announcement slowly start to drain away, leaving a sort of lethargy in its wake. I noticed with some amusement that Becky had fallen asleep ten or fifteen minutes after we had left. “I guess things were harder on you than you let on…” I smiled a bit indulgently, reaching over to the passenger seat and giving her a gentle scritching behind her ears, which brought out a sweet little smile on her muzzle that caused my heart to melt. Reluctantly turning my full attention back to the road, I couldn’t help idly thinking that it was a real pity I couldn’t just pull over, cuddle up with Becky, and join her little nap.
After a trip that seemed to have taken a great deal longer than it actually did I finally pulled into the garage. Becky was still asleep, not even waking up when the garage door rattled noisily to life, shutting out the rapidly cooling evening air. Becky looked so peaceful and happy curled up in the passenger seat, her shoes kicked off and tail wrapped around her like a fluffy reddish-orange shawl…it seemed almost evil to disturb the simple happiness of her nap. After a few moments’ hesitation I shrugged, smiling to myself as I walked around to the passenger door and gently unbuckled her seatbelt. Then, slowly taking her up in my arms I carried Becky to our bedroom, a little ‘erf’ as I tucked her into bed the only sign she had noticed anything at all. Brushing a wisp of her headfur back out of her eyes, I grinned happily as I stripped down and got ready for bed myself, turning down the thermostat to a more comfortable temperature before crawling into bed. Giving Becky a little kiss on the end of her nose, I closed my eyes and was soon fast asleep.
To Be Continued...